This interview is part of our In The Footsteps of Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) interview series-
Introducing Sr. Sara Jawad Malik, a marriage mentor and a very Productive Muslimah. Founder of Cherished and Successful online magazine and online community. Here we go, Bismillah.
Please begin by telling us about yourself.
I am a bondswoman of Allah, and a speck of dust being blown about by the wind of His Decree. I have been blown in many directions and each experience has enriched me as a woman.
I am also a doting wife, an enthusiastic mother, a dutiful daughter and daughter in law, a supportive sister and a prayerful friend.
After that… phew! I am a women’s marriage mentor, and I mentor and help women to create harmonious marriages. I help women to instil inner-belief within themselves and teach them effective communication skills. Tell us about your business/ venture? Who are your target customers?
Cherished and Successful is my online marriage magazine and online community. The magazine is regularly updated with inspiring articles I have read or written focussed around marriage, women, parenting, and self development. The community, as one member recently commented, is a ‘prominent support portal that is available to women of all backgrounds, but with a Muslim flavour’. I am passionate about creating a comfortable atmosphere for women from all walks of life.
Through this website I also mentor women via online seminars and one-to-one mentoring. My desire is to help women who are in marriages, but feel stuck, and are unsure of their purpose in life. Myself, I got married at the young age of 18, and know too well how it can feel to be ‘stuck’ thinking “Is this all I was meant to do? Have kids and play house?”. Life isn’t *all* about a real life wendy house and tea-set! It’s also about the universe, your place in it, and what *you* can do to leave your mark, and a righteous progeny, as a bondswoman of Allah!
How (and why) did you start your first venture? Was it a success? If not, why?
I cannot really say if I had a first venture. My life has been a journey, and throughout this journey I have made stops at various places, picking up new skills and moving on. At each part of the journey I thought that I had ‘arrived’ at my destination. I have now realised my Destination: Allah!
I have had a terrific amount of sunbeam moments and pleeenty of raindrops, and I am fascinated with my personal God-give rainbow, that is life. Shukr Alhamdolillah.
Cherished and Successful has been a gradual build up of many ventures! It started with me keeping a blog, after which I created an online community. Later, once I had trained to be a marriage mentor, I started offering online seminars. Gradually I introduced one-to-one mentoring and live one day workshops. This has all been one great roller coaster ride for me, and I am relishing every moment of it!
Kids, cleaning, chores, shopping, cooking, family, parents, in-laws, AND a business? How do you do it? Please share your time management / task management secrets?
Yep, I have all those, including my wonderful elderly in-laws who live with us. I keep on top of things by putting first things first (a la Stephen Covey), I keep on top of my ‘hotspots’ efficiently (ala FlyLady and Don Aslett) and delegation (a la The Queen!). I am continually reflecting on my schedule and state, and I am famous for abandoning all and sitting at my laptop devising a new and improved timetable! There are timetables all over my house, Alhamdolillah, my family is used to it now. That’s not to say my timetables rule my life. They are simply another virtual servant I employ to make my life easier.
I have a regular cleaner coming in during busy periods, I have a lovely lady come in to cook bulk; which I freeze in Tupperware. (I’ve made a list of all the things that will still taste great once defrosted) I also make a weekly menu from which I write a shopping list. The great thing is that the house can still continue to function even if I’m not tending to it all the time, and I love that fact!
I also use my Blackberry to schedule my appointments, my address book, contacts, to-do lists… I use this fantastic app called Role Call, and have about 30 to do lists, including one for the Istikharas I want to do, shopping returns, things to ask the cleaner to clean, what to ask the teachers at home time – it’s crazy, but brilliant!
How does Islam make you more productive?
Islam is the essence of all of my talents.
Prayer helps me structure my life and helps me build my routines. Everything runs like clockwork, and everything has a system, as does the earth as it rotates, the sun which sets the prayer times, and the moon which sets the months, which together set the seasons of the year, Subhanallah!
Fasting helps me to discipline my soul, to avoid doing things I really want to do, but to know I will be enriched by avoiding them.
Charity helps me to realise that true giving is when you ‘give a little of yourself’ rather than giving a little of that which you didn’t really need. I remember my good friend telling me once that it was easy to share with people you loved, but the true reward lay in sharing with those you didn’t like. (‘You can have some of my love, Fatimah, but not *you*, Aisha.’ – only joking. They are both my dear sisters!) Just like it’s easy to share things you don’t really like; the true test lies in sharing the things that are close to your own soul! (‘No, you can’t come round for a week! This house is mine! All mine!’).
Who or what is your motivation? What inspires you to keep going and striving harder everyday?
My motivation is to leave a legacy of leaders. I want to leave behind a progeny that serves Allah. ‘The world is not a box’. I am blessed with many scholars who guide me and teach me to give unto others. I am totally awestruck by the extent to which they have given their life to Allah, and I strive to do the same, and to inspire others too, as well. InshaAllah.
I think it is essential for women to learn communication and life skills. Harmonious marriages are the cornerstone of our society, and I always see harmony in homes where the husband and wife happily desire to be in each other’s company. The way couples interact together directly impacts the way their children behave, the way others treat them and their children. Children can learn non-defensive and assertive communication skills by modelling their parents. Children are sponges and absorb everything! The strength of a marriage also influences the way you are treated by the in-laws, a vital dynamic to master! Learning how to communicate creates a win-win for all those around you!
What are the ingredients/ traits of a ProductiveMuslimah?
She knows her personal limits, and within these limits she allows her ambitions to soar! She respects all those around her, encourages and supports them. She expresses herself effectively, and inspires others to want to be better people. She takes lessons from each life experience and uses them to enrich her life. She gives to others, she leaves her mark, she is a source of inspiration and tranquillity: a true Inspirity.
Final advice to the fans of ProductiveMuslimah.com?
Strive to be the very best YOU in the world! The universe, and everything in it is a personal teacher just for you! Identify the things you like in others and model them so you can acquire the same resources! ‘How can I have what you have?’ ‘What did you have to do to get to where you are?’ Find out and copy them! Excellence is reached by modelling excellence. The best person to model would be the Rasul of Allah, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him. He was pretty excellent wasn’t he?! Model those who strive to get into Jannah, and Allah willing, you will get there too! May there be a Productive Muslimah Fan Club in Jannah as well, and may we all be in it, inshaAllah!
Ameen, Ya Rabb.
MashaAllah Sr. Sara that was an extremely motivating and inspiring interview! Jazaki Allah khair. May Allah give you success in all that you do. Ameen.