One Big Reason That Islamic Work is Stressful


There are different kinds of stress when it comes to Islamic work. One kind is good, but exhausting. It is the sheer excitement of working on a project you feel passionate about. It keeps you up at night, it's all you can think about during the day, and all you can focus on is getting it done. That's stressful, but it usually brings about a positive result. There's another kind of stress we deal with that's not quite so happy. It's the type that completely demoralizes you. it is the kind that makes you question why you ever got involved in the first place.

Phil Cooke writes:

Stress happens because our lives are out of sync with what we’re doing for a living. That’s when trade-offs and sacrifices seem the most acute, because our job seems so unmoored from who we are and what we’re born to accomplish with our lives. But when we find that over-arching purpose, the jobs we express that purpose through suddenly have meaning. They don’t seem disconnected from our lives – in fact, we often see our lives reflected through that very work.

That’s why great athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders, artists, and innovators don’t see it as a conflict between “work” and “life,” because it’s all a single expression of someone who has discovered their ultimate purpose.

Islamic work, by definition, involves numerous trade-offs. We sacrifice time that could be spent working, with our families, pursuing hobbies, entertaining ourselves, investing in ourselves, or simply resting.

The negative stress usually results from becoming disconnected with the true purpose of the work.

A volunteer might join an organization that helps provide educational programs. This is a mission they can identify with and are passionate about. But if all their efforts become limited to simply collecting tuitions and chasing payments, they will easily lose sight of the bigger purpose. This is because they no longer see their contribution as actually being directly linked to the initial purpose that attracted them to the organization. Instead of feeling like someone who is facilitating learning for others, they feel like a bill collector. This is where burnout creeps in, and volunteer turnover begins.

Another issue at play here is having a holistic life view when it comes to Islamic work. A person cannot have spent their entire life keeping their children from the masjid, keeping their children from "being religious," staying away from any kind of Islamic class at the masjid - and at the same time serve on the masjid board and take decision making responsibilities for the community's spiritual well-being onto their shoulders. This work they are seeking is diametrically opposed to the reality of their personal life.

This is not only a violation of trust to the community, but it will bring harm to them.

All good efforts will require trade-offs and cause stress. Make sure that you are working for a better purpose for the right reasons. Make sure that what you are working on reflects the rest of your life and the sacrifices will be easier to make.

Why No One Takes You Up on Your Offer to Volunteer


I've been turned down as a volunteer, and turned down those who wanted to volunteer. I remember when I found a great cause and offered to volunteer for it, but I received no response whatsoever. They're probably just disorganized and bad at communicating like most Muslim organizations, right? I've also had the opportunity to work for some major Islamic organizations and was the point person who received requests from people who wanted to help out and volunteer. As particular as I was about replying to everyone who contacted us, these emails got pushed further and further down to the point where I barely replied to them.

The crux of the problem simply boils down to

  1. Not understanding how to communicate with busy people.
  2. Not knowing how to communicate your value.

When a person receives an email that says "I want to volunteer for your organization" it is usually a sincere offer from someone who wants to share in the cause of the organization. The person reading the email actually sees this request as "more work" because they now have to dedicate extra time to figure out a way to actually utilize this person.

If you want to volunteer for an organization, learn to communicate your value effectively. Use the following scripts as examples:

"I noticed that your organization doesn't have a formal logo, I would love to volunteer my design services and send over 3 prototypes for you to review. If you like them then great, if not, no big deal. I've also included a link to my portfolio as a reference so you can see the type of work I produce."

"I love what your organization is doing, I am also very interested in [the primary mission of said organization]. I'd like to volunteer my services if you have any needs. I'm not sure what exactly you need help with, but my background is in X, and I have previously done x,y,z tasks for a,b,c organizations."

It can even be as simple as: "I really love the work you all are doing and want to help out any way I can. I attend X masjid, and would be more than wiling to make announcements or hand out fliers for any upcoming programs you have."

This enables the person on the receiving end to immediately know if they have something they can plug you into or not. Unfortunately the most common volunteer offers are simply general, and they never pan out because the person volunteering doesn't know what they really want to do.

Be specific about how you can help and add value in your communication. This way, even if they don't have an immediate need, when one arises they will remember you because you gave them enough detailed information that they already know you can help and exactly where you fit in.


How to Reprimand a Volunteer


We all know the prophetic saying that our religion is one of giving advice. The problem is, giving advice is more an artform than a science. Reprimands are often necessary, but also often abused. If you're reading this article and getting excited because you want some tips on how to tell someone off for doing a bad job, then you are most likely a bully. That's not to say it may not be needed, but just don't be jumping at the chance to do it all the time.

First ask yourself if a reprimand is even in order? What do you hope to accomplish with the reprimand? If the objective is to seek revenge or embarrass and humiliate someone, then you need to stop. A reprimand should be given with the objective of improving someone's performance or rectifying a situation.

Make sure your reprimand is short. As short as possible. Be direct. Even if it makes them uncomfortable. Do it quickly - don't delay unnecessarily. And never, ever, do a reprimand in a fit of anger.

Make sure you discuss the problem and not the person. Discuss the problem privately. Be gentle on the person, but tough on the problem.

One model for a reprimand is the sandwich. This consists of affirming the person, attacking the problem, and then reaffirming the person.

If you made the mistake, how would you expect to be reprimanded in order to fix the problem?