Thursday, May 19, 2016

Week 2: Declaration of Independence

Dear Reader,

Let's pick up where we last left off, shall we? I had verbally fired my biggest client, by more or less saying "I QUIT". She gave me the chance to think it over but Alhumdullilah I had already done all the thinking I needed before those words left my lips. Let me give you a bit of background.

During a recent trip to Pakistan, I stumbled across the Four hour work week, by Tim Ferris. It was tucked away in the back of a Liberty Books giftshop. I was familiar with Tim through his podcast which my college professor had recommended. So I decided to take home a copy. (Home you say? Meaning the states, right? Nopes, I can crash at a friend's houses in multiple cities, including Dubai. This allows me to be a global citizen but more on this later) I devoured the whole book within days. From what I can recall, there are a few key points to consider. First of all, if you truly want to be in control of your schedule always opt for remote work.

If you have a laptop, a good internet connection and a quiet workspace you have more than enough resources to support yourself. Also, go for incremental retirements. Gone are the days where you remained a loyal employee and worked for years on end for the same employer. Hoping to qualify for their pensions. In the age of Enron and downsizing, this is sheer folly. Furthermore, Islam teaches us that we don't know when or where our death will come. Who is to say that you will be around 20 years from now to collect that pension? I know we don't like thinking about our mortality but the fact of the matter is that death will visit us all and not always on our terms. Just ask Prince or MJ. 

That's why I have resolved to develop my Khushoo and pray each prayer as if it is my last. With 5 daily prayers, there are plenty of reminders of our frail existence. Which automatically wards off any arrogant notions. Add to that the meditative effects on focusing on your recitation bowing in submission and praising your creator.  Alhumdullilah I leave the prayer rug recharged and ready for my next challenge.

So I was itching to start a mini-retirement after 2 years of service. During Ummrah, I implored Allah to give me this opportunity. I knew the tranquility of focusing on what is important to me could not compare to any paycheck, no matter the amount. So as I thought things over, I developed a steely resolve my retirement will not be denied! I will most certainly resign and there was nothing more to it. 

And why shouldn't I? It wasn't like I planned on lying on a beach all day wasting my time and money. Heck no! That would be a disservice to my family who is counting on me to provide for them. In my hearts of hearts, I knew this route is the BEST way to provide for them. Just think about it. Our life's mission is to be like the prophets. We must walk in their footsteps to be truly successful. The prophets were all freemen. Do you think they worked 9-5 and then saved humanity during the evening or weekends? They worked on their mission 24/7 as long as their hearts were beating they strived to spread the good word. Simply put we need more freemen.

Liberating ourselves from imposed schedules is a must. We have the right to be in charge of our own calendars. This time was gifted to us by our creator, it behooves us to use it in a responsible manner. What does this kind of thinking give us mentality? We prepare for our death each time our head touches the prayer mat. The lyrics "I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose Fire away, fire away" come to mind (sorry for earworm). How can we be sure that after taking a hit we can get right back up? Easy, we must be honest with ourselves and seek harmony, be in tune with our destiny. This way we can flow along with all the ebbs and flows of life without having them tear us apart. 

Furthermore, I didn't have a plan for my retirement I had a gameplan. The difference between the two words is that the latter is more action oriented. Others seem to agree too, it looks like my  isolated musings were not that far off. There is another brother, mashallah, who has taken the same approach. Enter Dr. Meraj Mohiuddin, the author of Revelation. I watched a video in which he explained his origin story. 

One day while studying for his exams he realized that the amount of knowledge he had in head with regard to the medical profession paled in comparison to his religious knowledge. He couldn't tell you the historical context of a random surah (I am guilty of this as well). This was something that bothered him. So after completing his exam he decided to keep his exercise muscles fresh by applying the same academic rigor to his religious studies. After accepting a challenge thrown down by Sheik Hamza Yousef he went ahead and created a glossary of names to help students of the Seerah. One thing led to another and he produced a fascinating book on the life of our beloved prophet (PBUH). 

Surprisingly the good doctor views our beloved more as a coach than a teacher. The word coach is important as it implies action, training, and discipline. All things that are relevant as we seek to better ourselves. Far from being passive, we are encouraging ourselves to jump in and go with the ebb and flows of the movement of life, ultimately fulfilling our destiny by completing our twisting and turning journey right back to where we started, our lord. I just loved the fact that my gameplan was based on time tested and proven methods. I didn't have to sit with new age gurus telling me about foo foo ideas on productivity that don't even take into account that we have souls! The gameplay is fluid enough that I can and have tweaked it based on received feedback. Thus becoming a powerful tool to guide me as I ventured into my first retirement.

So come, Monday morning I sent off an email thanking my manager for taking me in showing me the ropes, developing my technical skills and facilitating me best she could every step of the way. I also mentioned my last date so that it could be communicated to Human Resources. After sending that email I could imagine how the founding fathers must have felt. Placing their names on the Declaration of Independence met a declaration of war. Mother England wasn't going to just sit by and let some no good colonist have their freedom. There was going to be a fight and they best be ready!

Want to know what happens next? Tune in next week! This is your brother reminding himself out loud. If you found something beneficial it was from Allah. If I have said something wrong it is my shortcoming and I ask your forgiveness. Saqinator out!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Week 1: Let freedom ring!!!

Dear Reader,

One week ago I quit my job. It was a nice corporate job at a large financial institute. But alas it wasn't for me. To be honest I would have stuck around except that my performance was low and I was struggling to keep up (this is when you need, to be honest with yourself and take stock of your skills. Only advertise those skills that you are proficient in as the expectation is for you to be self-sufficient in that area). My management gave me every opportunity to improve I dug in and tried my best. But it was not meant to be. I was placed on a 3-month notice, my last chance to improve. I figured since I clearly didn't have the mindset for the job (as the past 2 years had shown) what was another few months going to do? So after talking it over with my wife I handed in my resignation.

A word of caution. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I knew I didn't have a future at the company. Accordingly I reduced my expenses like putting my masters on hold.  (I only did half the required credit hours, planning on resuming as soon as I can) Which allowed me to save up. Also, I don’t have a mortgage, my credit cards are paid off including my car (btw, since the dealership is no longer the owner I scaled down my insurance to the minimum legal requirement). I would encourage you to consider your financial status before giving up a steady paycheck. I had to ask myself how many months me and my wife could coast by with no income and based on the money I had on hand. The answer was several months, God willing. So I decided to take the plunge.

A strange sense of relief overcame me. During my remaining two weeks everyone saw a visible difference in my attitude. I went from a sourpuss, lethargic commuter to a happy energetic human. This feeling was wonderful. And I vowed to myself that I will NEVER let this freedom slip away again. So rather than scrambling to look for another job I came up with a game plan (more on this later).

Jobs seems to be the defacto way middle-class people earn a living. But we all know that this is not sustainable. What happens when you grow old? become ill? What do you do then? This is understood by me and others but there is a fear when it comes to venturing out on your own. It stems from a lack of guidance. Believe me, I am only venting here, this by no means is a success story. Rather I am relating to you what I am going through at the moment.

I am facing a lot of family pressure to get another job. Which doesn't make any sense to me. I have been moving from job to job for the past 10 years. I suffer for the sake of my family. But am I really doing them any good? I don't have children, yet (please pray for me and my wife). But I have every intention to have a child of my own. I want to leave them with a positive mindset. I can't do that working for someone else. Who doesn't have my best interest at heart, who cares only about the bottom line, who encourages servitude and browbeat you if you don't "make them happy". If this isn't slavery then what is?

I need to work for myself. I am driven by the entrepreneurial spirit. It is my internal state that is deeply concerned about the legacy I will leave behind that makes me shun the cubicle. I always knew this about myself and made several attempts to create something I could call my own. I chronicled my adventures in multi-level marketing on this blog (see a previous post). That didn't work out but since I had sincere intentions and had faith I didn't care about the outcome. Rather it was good to meet like-minded people who shared my passion for breaking free. I wish them the very best and keep in touch with to this day. After all, I learned a lot from them. Especially the concept of self-development. Something previously unknown to me.

The likes of Napolean Hill, Dale Carneige and other self-help gurus grace my library shelves. However, there was one key ingredient missing, in their books. Faith. Being a Muslim I am very cognizant about what Islam says about any and all issues. I wondered what Islam says about self-development. Turns out there is plenty. If you have not done so, check out Abu Productive over at Mashallah the team at Productive Muslim have outdone themselves. They have done the research and have shown how the habits of our beloved prophet(PBUH) are still relevant to us in this day and age. 

I had mentioned a gameplan. In a nutshell, it is my daily routine, modeled on the daily routine of my beloved prophet(PBUH). Why this sudden love for the prophet? He was always a role model for me and I knew he is the last prophet. And that the Ummat is the humanity's last chance to submit to the true will of our creator. But I never understood why we should love him more than our parents, nay even more than ourselves. It wasn't until I went on Umrah and gave my salam at the side of this great man's grave that I came to realize the privilege I was bestowed. A sudden realization of all he has done all he has sacrificed just so that we can follow the beautiful religion of Al-Islam. The experience moved me to tears.

When I came back, to the states from my pilgrimage I was given the "bad" news. I had to sign a document that stated that I could not do the job. There were complaints documented against me. Complaints stemming from the fact that I could not deliver, due to the fact that the job was not a good fit for me. But what really disturbed me were clauses in the document that essentially said that I had to be even more submissive and docile if I hoped to hold onto my job. My manager expected me to be terrified, but I have a firm conviction that Allah never burdens a person than more than he can bare. And that my life's purpose is not to please other creations rather, I must strive to please my creator. So I signed the document and spent the night thinking about my next move. It was a no brainer for me I had to quit before getting fired. There was no way I could meet those strident requirements. 

So I gave my verbal resignation to my manager. She was great, God bless her soul. She couldn't bare to see me in any kind of distress and advised me to think about it some more. So that weekend I honed my gameplan some more. I thought through my whole day structuring everything against the five daily prayers, making time for family, exercise and dawah. This was the kind of freedom I always dreamed off! There was no doubt in my mind as to what my response would be, come Monday morning.

Want to know what happens next? Tune in next week! This is your brother reminding himself out loud. If you found something beneficial it was from Allah. If I have said something wrong it is my shortcoming and I ask your forgiveness. Saqinator out!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Star Talk Live!

So ComiCon hits the east coast every October. The coming month will not be different. The convention provides fan boys the chance to get their fill of the latest happenings in their favorite fandom. I was there few years ago. Last year was a bit different. Due to reasons (the usual life thing work, family etc.) I was unable to attend.

I know it sounds lame when compared to the lengths die hard fans go to for attending the con. But before you revoke my geek card I assure you I have made a geek related pilgrimage. But for 2014 the folks at ComiCon have upped the ante. They are not content with merely packing a convention center, they want to pack the city! That is the concept behind NY Super Week.

They have set up shows that cater to the geek chic crowd. Among them is Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. The director of the Hayden Planetarium and TV personality also has his own podcast. I love the format of the show (get the podcast feed at the bottom of the page). A mix of science and fun makes it easy to digest otherwise "complex" topics.

Comedian, Wyat Cenac of the daily show fame, was on hand to up the fun factor. Interjecting with hilarious comments and at times insightful analysis made the evening that more delightful. It was an interesting pairing with expert sociologist who shed light on various social issues. Did you know its universally accepted that raised eyebrows are a sign of a heightened state of emotion; Or the reason for unrest in the middle east can be simulated by a game of risk? They opened the floor up to the audience. That's when things got interesting. Not one but two Muslim brothers took the mic to speak their minds. The first brother of Eastern European decent spoke of dealing with initial shock as people learned of his religion. The panel acknowledged that the media has conditioned us to view "Moslems" in a certain way.

The second brother stated his profession as a translator for the US Military. Hailing from Baghdad he gave an impassioned speech about the plight of his people. The war has devasted an already beleagured people. Desperate to survive they have forgotten their heritage. He feels, as do others the key for the region to rise out of the ashes of poverty and despair, a pre-req for stability in the middle east, is to in fact reclaim their legacy. Baghdad was the seat of learning for the middle ages. Tyson acknowlged work done by Muslims in field of astronomy something that is rare as its often denied. I want the brother to know there is work being done to reclaim our accomplishments. There are many people and organizations working hard to perserve this noble tradition of learning. One such effort is 1001 Inventions, a journey into the golden age of Muslim civilization.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Majestic Dubai

I know You haven't heard from me for awhile but its with good reason. Take a gander:
I think I see Tom Cruise base jumping
This place gives "swiming with the fishes" a whole new meaning
I swear the helipad looks like the Enterprise
Talk about "shop till you drop" Dubai malls often feature Mosques for patrons

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Behold! The Delta Flyer...

As I had mentioned in a previous post I got me some wheels. Old wheels mind you but wheels none the less. Friends always complimented on how nimble the ride was. I guess the sports edition is worth something. But alas I had to part ways with the mobil mobile, it was taking too many latinum bars to keep moving. 

So to remedy that, I had gotten an upgrade. A Honda Civic no less. This make of car has been used by the Sadiq clan for some time. I decided to continue with tradition and uphold the family name. It turns out that was a good choice. Motor heads will tell you that this car is highly customizable. There is a whole community dedicated to all things Civic. Their reach, is global.

I frequent their sites for nifty graphics for my I-Mid. Its no accident that this car company has a die hard following. How cool is it to express your personality to your passengers? I was stoked to find Star Trek graphics and had to put them up. I wanted to go with a realistic look. What normally shows up on the screens of starfleet vessels? Normally instrument panels (I have a killer spectral analysis jpg). Or communiques. Currently I am sticking with the communique. I can load up to three wallpapers and switch between them at will. But only when the car comes to a complete stop. Otherwise it won't let you!

You'll be crowned superfan if you can find the doomed V323
Pretty nifty, eh? The overall effect is pretty inspiring. With my handy dandy Google navigator app I really do have a navigation computer at my disposal. Is this another case of science catching up with fiction? I sure hope so. But my imagination just doesn't stop there. I often tell MW that my car is my space ship. Of course actual space ships are the length of football fields. So more realistically its a shuttle craft. Now if it is a shuttle craft what kind is it? Well the one I find most inspiring (aside from my own creation) is the Delta Craft from ST:Voyager. Take a gander...

Delta Flyer Interior

The interiors look similar, yes? No wonder its not a huge leap of the imagination to envision your car cabin as a cockpit of an interstellar cruiser.
I made it myself. Wonder if ILM has openings?
I lovingly recall the episode of Voyager where the Delta Craft is used in a race. Tom Paris had joysticks put in for tactile feel. Like airplanes of yore. Lucky for me my steering wheel cover gives a similar effect. I had to go through a lot of covers before I found the right one. Some were too big and floppy. Others were smelly and stunk up the car and my hands! But the one I have now is easy on the hands and gives me that grip that is oh so desired. It all comes into play when you race down the highway banking turns and flying high. To add to the realism I got me ST Academy license plate frames. This let's people behind me know that a STA Alumni is at the helm. So you need not worry.

Not my real numbers, silly. Points if you figure out where they're from
But my spacey obsessions don't stop at my car. In my day to day doings I want to be reminded of the amazing. They act as talismans whisking me away to my happy place (believe me we need more of this in the workplace, I am talking to you hothead). You met my SG1 pin here. Now meet my Enterprise key chain. Noticed the missing nacele? That's what happens when you drop the mini star ship on hard asphalt, buyer be ware. Of course if that doesn't deter you, pick this item up and other themed merchandising off of the Star Trek online store. Its worth the expenditure if you want others to know you are a loud and proud geek. And if you are really into geeky goodness check out ThinkGeek. Of course if you really want to prove your geek cred. You can head out to a con, meet up with exhibitors. Tons of merch to be had.

I am looking for more ways to get inspired. I've studied interior shots of fictional/not so fictional space craft to get a feel for more mods. I also look to fellow geeks to see what they do. Decals are huge but I haven't found one that does it for me. I am open to suggestions. What do you want to see? Comment. Share.