Is Islam concerned about quality, efficiency, and productivity? Our friends at ProductiveMuslim.com believe so! Muslims should extract lessons from the Quran, the lifestyle of the Prophets, and the history of Islamic civilization, and combine those lessons with modern tips and tools in order for them to become more productive in reaching their religious and social goals. In the worldview of Islam, one should concern him or herself with becoming more productive in both worldly and otherworldly affairs. The Prophet Mohammad has said, “I like all things to be done correctly and efficiently.”
In this photo essay, Abu Productive of ProductiveMuslim.com explores ways Muslims can be more productive with their days. Consider implementing these tips into your routine!
Wake up! – Abu Productive says: “Perhaps the first and most important step to having a great morning routine is waking up early! And it is in that moment of indecisiveness – whether you should wake up immediately or enjoy your nice comfy bed for ‘5 more minutes’- wherein lies the secret to either a great day or a crazy one. Here’s a tip that always works with me for waking up: You know how shaytaan (the devil) whispers in your ears “just sleep for 5 more minutes”… I simply whisper back to myself “just wake up for 5 minutes.” Yup, you can imagine the rest. As soon as you’re awake and begin reciting the adkhar (verses in remembrance of God) and making wudhu (ritual prayer washing), you can imagine what happens to sleep – Gone! Left the building!”
Recite the supplications of waking up – There are supplications that the Prophet Mohammad used to recite for many different occasions. Many of these prayers have been preserved in books that catalog the Islamic spiritual heritage. Abu Productive says: “Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), we have a beautiful set of “waking up” supplications which Prophet Muhammad taught us… My favorite is the recitation of the last 10 verses of Al-Imran (Chapter 3 of the Quran). You can almost feel your heart coming to life and being ‘juiced’ when the first thing you do as soon as you wake up is remember Allah & recite His Glorious Words from the Quran.”
Make Wudhu – Before every canonical, obligatory prayer, Muslims are prescribed to perform a ritual washing known as wudhu (ablution), which consists of washing and wiping the face and head, hands and arms, and feet. Abu Productive says: “We can all agree, there’s something about wudhu that really focuses your positive energy and cleanses you inwardly as well as outwardly. I had a friend who used to call this feeling “WuBuzz!” short for the “Buzz” you feel after wudhu. Don’t forget to say Bismillah before starting wudhu and the dua after finishing wudhu! The 8 gates of Heaven will be opened for you, – not a bad way to start your day, and you’ll feel refreshed and ready for the day ahead.”
The Night Prayer – Islamic teachings recommend believers to spend some time before the dawn prayer (fajr salaat) to perform some extra prayers of worship. The Quran says, “And during a part of the night, pray Tahajjud (night prayer) beyond what is incumbent on you; maybe your Lord will raise you to a position of great glory” (Quran 17:79). Abu Productive says: “Tahajjud (prayer of the night before dawn) … has been described as the “honour of the believer,” because who else would go through what you just did (wake up, wudhu..etc) just to stand up and pray? The beauty of Tahajjud is hard to describe; from the feeling of tranquility in your heart and understanding the Quran better at this time, to feeling closer to Allah at a time of isolation from others and wishing that you would never get up from that prostration, to self-reflection moments that we rarely get a chance to exercise in our busy world… all of them and more come from Tahajjud!”
Forgiveness Moments – The Quran makes mention that the night is a fruitful time to ask for forgiveness from God and seek His aid in bringing your heart close to Him. Abu Productive says: “Don’t forget to use the last 5-10 minutes before Fajr (dawn prayer) to ask Allah for forgiveness … so that you are among those Allah mentioned in the Quran: “And in the hour of early dawn, they (were found) praying for forgiveness” (Quran, Chapter 51, Verse 18).
The Call to Prayer – The adhaan is the call to prayer, performed before every obligatory prayer. Abu Productive says: “Say as the muaddhin (the person who calls to prayer) says and don’t forget the dua after adhaan.”
To Lie on the Right side – Symbolism is utilized in the Quran to refer to spiritual value that can be obtained in all circumstances. “When you complete your prayer, remember God all the time while standing, sitting, or lying down on your sides…” (Quran 3:17). Abu Productive says: “Allah’s Messenger used to pray … before the morning (fajr) prayer after the day dawned and [when] the Mu’addhin had finished the adhaan. He then would lie on his right side till the Mu’addhin came to pronounce the Iqama (the pronouncement to rise for prayer).”
The Obligatory Fajr Prayer – The Fajr prayer of pre-dawn is a serene time, and has been mentioned in the Quran as a sign of God. One can make immense spiritual gains by performing this prayer with alertness and awareness.
A Time to Learn and Understand – During the early morning hours, many Muslims observe that their minds seem to be alert and more capable of understanding than during later parts of the day. Abu Productive says, “Recite and/or Memorize Quran as mentioned previously, or if you have a good tafsir (Quranic commentary) book, then reading the meaning of at least one page of the Quran is a great bonus!… Spend this time reading Islamic material. I stress that the reading must be Islamic, because as I mentioned previously, your mind is like a sponge at this time and is highly active. You want whatever you’re reading to be truly embedded into your mind & soul, inshaAllah.”
Brainstorm Session – Abu Productive says, “I sometimes use this time [of the early morning hours] to either plan my day, or brainstorm ideas for ProductiveMuslim/articles or just reading and writing. You’ll be surprised how active your brain is at this time! You’re awake, alert and kicking.”
Memorizing – Islam highly encourages one to memorize as much of the Quran as possible. The early morning hours are a great time to do this. Abu Productive says, “Speaking of your mind being active, memorizing Quran at this time is incredible as well. I have tried memorizing Quran after asr (midday prayer) or maghrib (sunset prayer) when I’m tired and back from work versus after fajr. The difference is overwhelming, SubhanaAllah (glory be to God)! After fajr, your brain is truly like a sponge and it is the best time to memorize verses from the Quran.” Be sure to check out Productive Muslim’s Habitator for tools to help with the development of good habits.
Ready to Study – Many students in the modern age spend quite a bit of time at night studying. Consider instead waking up early after a good night’s sleep and prayer to spend some time studying. Many vouch for its effectiveness! Also be sure to check out Productive Muslim’s Sleep routine!
Body & Soul – Islam is not only a spiritual tradition. It considers itself a way of life, and therefore offers guidance in all its aspects, including health and wellness. Abu Productive says: “Another option [after fajr prayer] is a quick 30 minute exercise. This could be jogging around the block, cycling, using a treadmill, some aerobics/cardiovascular exercises and anything that builds your stamina.” Check out Productive Muslim’s tips on creating an exercise plan.
Prepare for the Day – The Prophet was known to be a very orderly man, performing his daily tasks according to schedule and routine. History records that he worked according to a well drawn time-table, and urged others also to do the same. Abu Productive says, “Shower, get dressed, and gather your paper work (although organizing your items the night before makes this 15 minute process of getting ready a lot smoother!). Put things where you can find them so that you don’t waste time searching for them…. Sometimes I check and send e-mails around this time as well to help me plan my day or set out tasks for myself and team members.” Check out Productive Muslim’s Daily and Weekly Taskinators, along with their advice on completing To-Do lists.
Breakfast – Islam has laid great stress on having an appropriate diet, for both bodily and spiritual health, and has even forbidden certain foods and demanded that meat be prepared appropriately. Abu Productive says, “Reward yourself for a Productive Morning with a big, fat, hearty (healthy) breakfast! Try to avoid caffeine and have a fiber filled bowl of goodness to set you in good stead.”
Seeking Livelihood through Hard Work – There are numerous traditions from the Prophet which clarify that seeking sustenance through hard work for one’s family is regarded as divine worship. “One who struggles to acquire from the grace of Allah in order to fulfill the needs of his family members is greater in reward than the one who fights in Allah’s way for what is right.” (Prophet Mohammad, Bihaar ul-Anwaar, vol. 78. page 339). Be sure to check out Abu Productive’s Commuting Tips, and try not to overload your vehicle like these brothers above!
A Balanced Life – Islamic traditions speak much of the “balanced life” or “middle way” that all Muslims are to strive hard to maintain. This is a life where hard work, spiritual efforts, seeking knowledge, enjoying God’s blessings, and working for society are meant to be in perfect harmony, and all are responsibilities Muslims have towards God. Be sure to spend ample moments at work remembering God, and don’t get glued to the computer screen for too long without taking breaks! Check out Productive Muslim’s advice on ergonomic sitting posture!
An Engaged Citizen – Some Muslims are leaders in their community, and are involved in social arenas and have political responsibilities. In these types of roles, it’s especially important to get organized and efficient at managing your time.
Spiritual Students – Students have the important task of seeking knowledge. However, students should be sure to seek opportunities in remembrance of God and frequent the masjid (mosque) as often as they can. This young fellow is praying at a mosque in the University of Malaysia.
Too busy? – No matter how busy or stressed one is during their work or studies, one should seek strength and spiritual rejuvenation by performing ‘dhikr’ (remembering God) and mentioning His beautiful qualities. It can be a tough task, but with the right mindset and some helpful tools (like those at ProductiveMuslim.com), anyone can manage and succeed in being a productive Muslim in all arenas of life.