Leaving a Legacy – A Practical Guide for Achieving Your Life’s Vision
By Naairah Aftab – Campaigns Officer, FOSIS Scotland (as part of the #LifeHacks series)
“All good men and women must take responsibility to create legacies that will take the next generation to a level we could only imagine.” – Jim Rohn
It is an inevitable fact that we will not inhabit this planet forever. We are fully aware that one day we will breathe our last, and, leave all of our temporary material possessions behind on this Earth. The only thing that will live on, when we are no longer alive, is the legacy that we have left behind.
The most influential people in history are remembered for the incredible legacies that they created. Physically, they will no longer be a part of society, however, their work and achievements will become immortal, spreading from generation to generation.
The question we should be asking ourselves is: “What do I want to be remembered for?”
In this blog, I will provide some practical tips on how can we work on creating a legacy, and, how can we leave this world better than we found it… so continue reading!
Tip 1 – Have a clear life vision
The most productive and accomplished people all have a clear vision for their lives.
Unlike a short-term strategy, a vision encompasses the bigger picture. Your life’s vision defines exactly who you want to be and what legacy you want to leave behind. Your vision also defines the set of experiences and accomplishments you aim for in life. It provides you with a solid framework to evaluate your life goals against, which is crucial for self-development and long-term success.
As Muslims, our life vision should coincide with Islamic principles. This vision will play a pivotal role in the life choices we make, and will also aid in keeping our intentions and actions in check.
Tip 2 – Leave this world a better place than you found it
“By time, indeed, mankind is in loss, except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.” [Surah al-Asr – Qur’an: 103]
Develop yourself first
- As important as it is to impact society in a positive manner, it is also crucial to develop ourselves first, in all aspects, along the way.
- This means putting in those extra hours of studying to ensure you excel in your academics, and, seeking out new opportunities and getting involved with extracurricular activities so that you can continually develop your skills and personality.
- This also means prioritising your spiritual development, because, when our connection with Allah is strong, our connection with our own souls becomes stronger as a result.
Give time to your loved ones
A person’s primary responsibility should be to look after the needs of their family and friends. After all, charity begins at home.
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of compromising on family time because we are too occupied with changing the world.Click to tweet this gem
We forget that the first people to be influenced by our actions are those closest to us, and importantly, our own progeny. At the end of the day, it all comes down to finding the correct balance and how effectively we manage our priorities.
For more tips on how to better prioritise our families, even with a hectic schedule, check out my previous blog: ‘Fulfilling the Rights of Parents’.
Play an active role in the community
“Charity begins at home, but should not end there.” – Thomas Fuller
- Alongside working on self-development and giving our loved ones their due time, there is also a big responsibility upon us as Muslims to leave a positive impact on our communities. When we leave our homes, we are ambassadors for Islam, and it is through our service to society that we can spread the true teachings of our faith.
- You will not leave your University Islamic Society (ISoc / MSA) the same person you entered it, because, it will contribute immensely to your growth. However, don’t stop just there! Take the skill-set you have acquired through your ISoc work and implement it in other areas throughout your university life. Get involved with other university societies as well (degree related or not), and even run for positions within the university’s main student body in order to make a long-lasting impact across campus for all students.
- Outside of university societies and student body positions, there are an array of opportunities open to the youth within our communities. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter, or even form a team and go clean the litter from nearby parks and graveyards. Actions speak louder than words, and, the best Dawah is through our actions.
Touch the hearts of people
“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” – Shannon Alder
- In addition, endeavour to leave an impact on the hearts and minds of others. Smile at strangers, help an elderly person cross the road, advise someone in their time of need, etc.
- A legacy can be left behind by simply engaging in little, but consistent acts of goodness. More often than not, if a person isn’t remembered for what they did after they pass, they will always be remembered for how they made others feel.
Learn about the Prophetic Seerah
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.” -Michael H Hart [Excerpt from ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History]
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was someone who used his power and influence well, lifted other people up, exhibited exemplary leadership qualities, and a great deal of emotional intelligence. For this reason, he had an incredible impact on his community, his family, his friends, and even his enemies. However, how much do we actually know about his life and his work? How much of his Seerah have we studied?
One of my favourite qualities of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – with regards to leaving behind his legacy – was his (pbuh) great foresight. As I reflect upon the famous incident of Ta’if, during which he was pelted with stones and almost left for dead by those who rejected his message, it was his desire to preserve a positive legacy that shaped the outcome of that story. Instead of agreeing to have the people of Ta’if destroyed, he (pbuh) insisted that, despite the hostility he faced on that day, perhaps his teachings will reach the future generations of that city. Today, Islam is the predominant religion in Ta’if and his (pbuh) legacy remains strong, as it does throughout the entire world.
Plant your seeds
“If the Hour starts to happen and in the hand of one of you is a palm shoot or seedling; then if he’s able to plant it before the Hour happens, then let him plant it”. [As-Silsilah as-Saheehah #9.]
I find this Hadith to be profound. We know very well of the traumatic and extreme nature of the Day of Judgement, however, even in this situation, the Prophet (pbuh) is encouraging us to continue doing good until our last breath, and continue contributing towards society.
Furthermore, we should aim to not leave this temporary Dunya without having given and leaving behind as much as we possibly could. Whatever goodness we have within us: the lessons, the knowledge, the kind-heartedness, the skills, and even our love, I believe, should not be left with us once we pass on. If we have something of value to give, we should give it. It would be a waste to enter our graves not having reached our full potential, or preserving the gifts that were meant to be shared with others. This reminds me of the famous Hadith:
“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” [Sahih Muslim]
Tip 3 – Remember your vision during times of tribulation
“… And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things. ” [Qur’an 65:2-3].
The journey to success is never smooth-sailing, and no great figure in history ever reached their status without experiencing some hiccups along the way. Failures and setbacks are part of the process. However, the way you approach the obstacles on your path makes all the difference. Strive to face every situation head-on and let each trial change you into an even stronger and more refined individual. Your vision should motivate you to pick yourself back up and continue pushing forward. In the end, the way in which you overcame the challenges in your life may serve as valuable lessons for those who remember you in the future; they will form part of the building blocks of your legacy.
For more tips on how to regain perspective and self-esteem during difficult times in our lives, check out one of my earlier blogs: ‘Regaining Perspective & Self-Esteem in Times of Hardship’.
Tip 4 – Boost your productivity levels
“O Allah! Make the rising in the morning of my Ummah auspicious.” – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) [Abu Dawud]
There’s no legacy without hard work, and there’s no hard work without solid productivity.
If you want to truly taste the sweetness of productivity in your life, then begin waking up early in the morning. Not only will this give you extra hours to get more accomplished, but also, the very act of rising early is from the Sunnah, therefore, there is a lot of reward to be gained from it.
For more tips on how to develop more goal-orientated habits and enhance your time management skills, read this: Changing Procrastination into productivity. I also recommend this excellent podcast episode on the same topic: Procrastination, Fear, and Their Effects on Our Worship (feat. Sahar Shaikh).
Tip 5 – Surround yourself with inspiring beings
“The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the best version of ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help to make them great. We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the best version of ourselves.” – [Matthew Kelly, The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose]
The company we associate ourselves with plays a fundamental role in our character development, therefore, we must choose our friends wisely. Having friends who share similar morals and principles as us will encourage us to continue striving forward in achieving our life vision. Furthermore, true friends will be honest in letting us know when our actions are compromising our goals.
Tip 6 – Pray Istikharah (guidance prayer) often
“But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you, and, perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you, and, Allah knows, while you know not.” [Qur’an 2:216]
Istikharah prayer doesn’t eradicate all of life’s problems, but rather, helps you to choose the challenge that will be the most blessed and most fruitful. It is incorrect to think that Istikharah should only be prayed when it comes to making the really big decisions in our lives, such as whether to accept a particular job offer or a marriage proposal, etc. The Prophet (pbuh) actually encouraged his companions to pray Istikharah often, even for smaller matters, and, just for general direction. Praying Istikharah will also help us to keep our relationship with our Creator strong, as well as encourage us to constantly turn to Him (swt) for guidance.
May Allah (swt) shower His blessings in our work, help us in achieving our life vision, and, allow us to leave behind a powerful legacy – Ameen.
Who’s legacy inspires you the most?
Scroll down and share your comments below; I’d love to hear about those who have inspired you the most and what lessons you derived from their legacies.
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