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The winner of the September 2018 writing competition is Sabrina Azhar with her poem titled 'A Message to the Youth'

In Conversation with Sister Khadijah AbdulHaqq - Productivity - Interview Time


I’m a strong believer in Muslim women being active and productive to benefit themselves, and the Muslim ummah; locally and/or globally. Because of that, I’m always thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with other Muslim women who are making an impact in the Muslim community. Today, I have our dear sister Khadijah AbdulHaqq, a mother, a homeschooling expert, an author, and a student. You may be thinking, “How does a person find time to do all that?” Well, that’s the exact reason why I’m interviewing her; to get some useful tips on productivity. Now, let me introduce you to Khadijah AbdulHaqq.

1. UmmSumayyah: Assalaam ‘alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh sister Khadijah.

Khadijah AbdulHaqq: Wa alaikumus salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

2. UmmS: How are you doing?

KAH: Alhamdulillah, I am doing well.

3. UmmS: I’m glad I reached out to you, and I appreciate your positive response and willingness to share with us some of your productivity secrets. I believe the best way to start is by kindly introducing yourself to our readers; please.

KAH: Ma sha Allah…Well, I am the mother of five, a writer, a homeschooler, a student of life, and lover of the arts.

4. UmmS: What does it mean to be productive and why is it so important?

KAH: That’s a good question. Well, being productive means living life with a purpose by setting goals (worldly and for your hereafter) and taking action to achieve them. It is important because if you do not have goals, you’ll find yourself living moment to moment wondering where the day, month, or life went.

5. UmmS: I totally agree with that, subhanallah. How would you describe a ‘perfectly’ productive day for you?

KAH: A perfect day is calm, smooth, and easy going with all my goals met.

6. UmmS: What are the short-term and long-term goals you have in mind when you decide to achieve something?

KAH: Well, right now I have few things on the stove. And I must take care of them before they burn. So, generally I like to focus on the easiest things, and then on the harder, longer-term things. My next book, for example, is a long-term goal and needs more time. I plan it out; write whatever comes to mind about it, so I don’t lose key elements I want to add to the story. Now, I can leave it until I have cleared out all the smaller things like doing my schoolwork, making calls, or cleaning house. This is just an example.

7. UmmS: That’s something I can learn from. I usually start with the hardest things to get them out of the way, but I’ve noticed that doing that takes me longer. So thank you for sharing.  You’ve been homeschooling for a long time. You are also an author and are currently studying. Please, tell us a bit more about that.

KAH: I started homeschooling when my eldest daughter, who is now 25 years old, was 7. There was trouble at her school with their computer system, teacher communication and long story short I withdrew her from school. That was the beginning of our homeschooling journey. I have two college graduates, a child in the military and I am still homeschooling my youngest daughters, 15 and 5. Homeschooling is not always pretty, and some days we do nothing but reading. However, my goals have changed over the years from academic accomplishments to raising a whole person inside and out. That means I will not fight with my child to finish an assignment if they need to take a mental health break. Children need space too.

I have always been a writer in one way or another. It was the optimum way for me to communicate to my mother when I was a child, and then to my husband. You can think clearly about what you want to say before you say it. This transferred to express my feelings in poetry, and now writing books. I write because I have to. And the subjects I write about have to have a purpose other than entertainment. There has to be some benefit in it for the reader and me.

As for school, it is almost over. It was a goal I wanted to accomplish since before my children were born, and then life took over. Alhamdulillah! I am finally at the finish line. I can pack that away and focus on my writing.

8. UmmS: Subhanallah! I love what you said about allowing children to have a mental health break. Children are often academically pushed in a way that ends up harming them and their learning journey instead of benefiting them. It’s definitely not all about achieving an assignment. Great emphasis should be put on the child as a whole. Jazaki Allahu khayr for sharing that powerful piece! And your authorship and pursuing your studies even after having children is a great example of believing in something and going for it no matter what (by the will of Allah). I’m sure our readers would appreciate your sharing that. 
How do you find the time to manage everything and remain focused and motivated?

KAH: There is no magic. Some days run great and smooth. And some days I have to stay up late and complete my schoolwork until the wee hours of the day. I just set a general goal for the day and push to complete them. In that way, I don’t carry things over to next day. But if that happens, I won’t die…the house won’t burn down.

9. UmmS: Great way of looking at it😊. Would you say that juggling everything you do compromises on you finding time for yourself?

KAH: It used to. But I make it an obligation to find time for myself. I was an only child, and I spent a lot of time alone. I need to find that time alone, or I will get burned out. I go to the hair salon. I take myself out to eat. I sit in my car alone. I walk aimlessly in the bookstore just looking at titles of books. I do things that make me feel whole, or life will be a disaster. Simply put, I pamper myself when I need to.

10. UmmS: What is the best time of the day when you are most productive?

KAH: I am a morning person. I like to get things done early. By the time asr (late afternoon) comes, I am ready to unwind.

11. UmmS: What makes morning the best productive time for you?

KAH: Because the future belongs to those who wake up early like they say. And, there is barakat in being an early riser alhamdullilah. Things simply get done masha’Allah alhamdullilah.

12. UmmS: Alhamdulillah. Do you have a schedule that you must always abide by?

KAH: I have something like a schedule that begins with brushing my teeth and ends with brushing my teeth. Seriously, I am up by 4:30, 5 a.m. I start my very unofficial routine see my husband off 7ish. Then, on to my day. I make a list of all the things I need to complete including my schoolwork, the girl’s school work, phone calls and or errands and work from there.

13. UmmS: Are there any days when you feel unachieved?

KAH: Yes, of course. After I beat myself over the head with ‘should haves and could haves,’ I let it go. I remind myself that no one has died from my shortcomings (yet) and I move on. That is a learned behavior, not one or something that I always had with me. Letting go came with time and experience.

14. UmmS: It’s definitely a learned behaviour; I’m still working on ‘letting things go. As a Muslim woman in today’s world, do you find it challenging to achieve personal and work goals?

KAH: As I get older, I have learned to prioritize what is important over what isn’t so important. That is not a skill that I had early on in life. I used to think I had to do everything, but now I know without a shadow of a doubt that what is for you will never miss you. So, if I decide to leave something off, I do so in knowing that if it is meant for me, I will do it. No one can un-write Allah’s decree; there is power in that.

15. UmmS: Absolutely! When you think of productivity, what is the best personal quote and Islamic quote that comes to your mind?

KAH: There is a saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Do a (good) deed consistently even if is small.” 
If all you do every day is pray, feed your family, or clean the house, this is better than doing a million other things and not finishing any of them. 
“Houses are made brick by brick.”
“Journeys are completed with one step then another.”

16. UmmS: Powerful words!  Please, share with us the greatest life advice you would give to a Muslim (men or women).

KAH: There are two things I would advise a Muslim because I think these are the two things that help me the most: Give up control! Let Allah be in control. If it is meant to be it will happen even down to your child learning his ABC’s. The other thing is, love yourself. You cannot be your best self or give the best of yourself to your family if you do not love you; LOVE YOU. The Prophet Muhammad said, “One of you do not truly believe until you love me more than you love yourself.” The optimum phrase here is “love yourself.” You cannot give love if you do not have love. And true love comes from knowing that Allah created you perfectly as you are with room to grow.

17. UmmS: Subhanallah! “Give up control…. Love yourself.” I totally agree with that. We aren’t in control in the first place, so trying to take control of something you have no control over could end up creating the opposite result. As you said, you can only give love if you already have love. Beautiful words, maa shaa Allah. 
Is there anything else you would like to share with us, in shaa Allah?

KAH: I think I have said so much already. I thank you for allowing me the space to speak with you and your readers.

18. UmmS: You sure did, maa shaa Allah. You are very welcome sister. After this interview, I’m sure some of our readers would love to connect and benefit from you. Where can they find you?

KAH: You can also follow my blog at The Unconventional Muslimah.

19. UmmS: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and sharing so much wisdom with all of us. BarakahAllahu feeki. Assalaam ‘alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh.

KAH: Thank you for sharing your space with me.  Wa Alaikumus salaam. 

20. UmmS: It was my pleasure. Alhamdulillah

Now THAT was an informative and inspiring conversation. I'm pretty sure you've all enjoyed it just as much as I have. May Allah reward our sister with the best of both worlds for taking some time to share some wisdom with us. 
Until the next interview, in shaa Allah, assalaam 'alaikum warahmatullah. 

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