Discover the intention and inspiration behind The Heart of Design, and how Peter aims to empower a new wave of creatively confident and talented Muslims.
Back in the early months of 2020, when the world was coming to terms with the unprecedented challenges of the Covid pandemic, I was making my final preparations for my new online course, The Heart of Design.
I had spent the months prior to the inaugural session collating, structuring, designing and practicing all my teaching notes, without ever imagining that the course would launch in the midst of a global health crisis that would upend millions of people’s lives.
As we got closer to the start date, I questioned whether going ahead with the session was the right thing to do. Surely people had enough to deal with already, what with lockdowns, isolation, illness and remote working challenges? Maybe this course is too trivial for this point in time?
But we plan and God plans, and as I reviewed my material I realised that what I was hoping to share with people could potentially be of great benefit. The lessons, wisdoms and insights I’d gained from teachers and mentors over the years could help guide others through this time of uncertainty.
So with a modest cohort of students, I launched version 1.0 of The Heart of Design, with the intention to make a positive difference to participants’ lives, their communities, and the global Ummah. And alhamdulillah, it’s still going strong today. So far we have welcomed hundreds of students from around the world and from all walks of life, and insha’Allah we will welcome hundreds, even thousands, more in the years ahead.
The aim of the course was to help people build successful and sustainable faith-based business and projects; giving them the tools, strategies and confidence they need to align their professional and spiritual aspirations and drive positive change in whichever arena they are in.
Over the course of five modules I guide students on a journey that helps them to understand and appreciate the role of design in our lives and our work, and share established and proven design methodologies that can help them bring their big ideas to life.
The key difference is that we apply a spiritual lens. We reframe these design methodologies to include a spiritual perspective, using six timeless principles as our compass: Niyyah (intention), Ikhlas (integrity), Ihsan (excellence), Ridaa (contentment), and Amanah (trust), and Barakah (blessings).
These principles are foundational concepts for Muslims across the world – as well as other faith traditions – and together they make up an approach I call Heart-Centered Design.
Heart-Centered Design is the driving force of the Heart of Design course, but I am always quick to distance myself from any claims of originality. These principles have been exercised and applied by people for centuries. Millennia, even. They have been discussed and written about at great length and in great detail by some of Islam’s finest hearts and minds, and have been the foundation of some of the most incredible examples of art, architecture, literature, poetry, photography, and filmmaking. Not to mention foundations of people’s behaviour, business ethics, social responsibility, and of course spiritual strength.
Heart-Centered Design is not my attempt at creating something new. Rather, it’s my attempt to bring together what I have received from my teachers and mentors, and use them to formalise an approach that can help us to design for remembrance, not distraction.
Formalise an approach that can help us design for remembrance, not distraction.
Since embracing Islam almost 20 years ago I have had the good fortune to travel far and wide across the Muslim (and non-Muslim) world; seeking out beauty, inspiration, scholars and teachers wherever I go. I’ve also learned from design leaders, creative pioneers and successful business people, attempting to build up a global like-hearted community along the way.
At every step, I have tried to implement what I’ve learned: An attempt to make myself and my work a little bit better each time. And with my many teachers’ help, and family’s tireless support, I have been able to explore what it takes to build a career at the intersection of design and spirituality.
These years of discovery, trial and error were poured into The Heart of Design, and the advice I’ve passed on has struck a chord with those who join the course.
And now we’re here…
With this wonderful feedback, and a few years’ worth of iteration and improvement, I was ready to take the next step to reach even more people looking to find purpose and balance in their work.
With the help of some close friends and colleagues, I distilled the best content from the course and expanded it with extra research to create the book that is in your hands.
The Heart of Design: Spirituality, Creativity & Entrepreneurship is my attempt to kick-start a global movement. I want to help as many talented and creative Muslims around the world as possible to embrace a designer mindset, and equip them with the confidence and tools they need to bring their products, services and businesses to life. I want to help people just like you design, create, and grow your ideas in line with your faith. And I want to see as many of us as possible rising to meet our communities’ challenges, whatever they might be.
I mean for this book to be a living text: An interactive guide that you can come back to again and again as you seek to align your intentions and bring a heart-centered design approach to your life and work.
I truly hope that you find the pages ahead beneficial. I’ve included practical examples and activities that have been instrumental for me and others, as well as stories of inspiration from creatives, scholars, entrepreneurs and business people who have in one way or another lived out heart-centered design.
I pray that you will find something here – a spark, a technique, a quote, a process or a strategy - that will take you closer to achieving your goals. Closer to answering your questions; closer to fulfilling your dreams.
INSIDE THE BOOK
The book will also feature exclusive insights from Peter’s journey, and excerpts from his conversations with scholars, entrepreneurs, academics and creative professionals who have implemented heart-centered design.
“ As artists it’s beautiful to make art, but the real goal of the artist on the spiritual path is that you make your life a work of art.
Poet, Author, & Teacher
“ When a person is not grounded and doesn’t have the right compass, intention, focus and priority, you can really lose your way.
Psychologist, Author, & Globally-loved Speaker
“ I’ve seen how people transform when they start to do something they love.
Photographer of the Muslim world
“ We’re trying to ensure that there is Ihsan (excellence) in everything we do. Whether it’s the product, how we interact with our customers, the website, our social media, our blog, everything.
Founder & CEO of Haute Hijab
“ That's what spirituality is. Spirituality is connecting into the essence of something.
Dr. Abdallah Rothman
Principal at Cambridge Muslim College
“ There can be Barakah in anything – especially if that thing brings you back closer to the divine in some way. If it puts you into a spiritual mode, there’s Barakah there.
Entrepreneur and Founder of The Productive Muslim
“ That's kind of what spirituality is. It's another level of information to connect you to your purpose of life, through the lens of design.
Author, Coach, Teacher & Design Leader
“ You have to combine a kind of sanguinity in business with a deep faith that your provision is not coming from the business - it’s coming from God.