It is that time of the Gregorian calendar when people make resolutions to make changes to their lives for the better. Many people want to become healthier, progress in their careers, take up new opportunities, get married, etc. while many more others want to grow their business and improve different areas of their lives.
One thing that all the changes that we desire have in common, is that they all require us to be more productive. Whether it is by being more productive with our time, our business processes, our daily choices, etc. Whatever it is that you want to improve upon, being productive is important.
What Does Productivity Have to Do With Having a Better Life?
You may be thinking of productivity as a buzz word that only applies to people in offices and who need to meet certain organizational goals every month.
But that’s not always the case.
In fact, being productive is one of the most important habits that any Muslim can cultivate. Because as a productive Muslim, you are better able to fulfill your religious obligations. You are able to manage your time effectively such that you observe your daily prayers at the right times. You are able to spend your money carefully so that you can pay zakah and give sadaqah and work for an honest living, while still having time to seek Islamic knowledge, read the Qur’an and give time to your family.
All of these obligations that move us closer to Allah (ta’ala) can only be fulfilled by someone who is productive in their time, as well as other areas of their lives.
3 Productivity Lessons from the Sahabah
Apart from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, we Muslims look to the sahabahs of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for guidance as regards our way of life. These men and women were blessed to have lived in the time of the Prophet, and as such provide the perfect examples of everyday life for us.
Looking at their lives, here are 3 things we can learn to help us improve as productive Muslims:
Understand that Your Time is Limited
“He gives life and causes death, and to Him you will be returned” (Qur’an 10:56)
The sahabahs knew that our time on earth is but a fleeting period. They listened to verses of the Qur’an where Allah (ta’ala) talked about this life, the grave, and what awaits us in the hereafter. They believed without a doubt that we are only alive for a short period, and that whatever we do on earth will determine our station in heaven.
For anyone who wants to be productive with their life, this belief is one that you should hold with conviction. If you don’t believe that there is another life in the grave and in heaven, then how will you understand the importance of establishing salah at the right time?
When you strongly believe in your heart that every one of us will go to the grave, it becomes easier to strive to put your focus on things that can help you in the hereafter.
It becomes easier to spend more time praying, reading the Qur’an, visiting or taking care of loved ones, instead of wasting time doing things that are not of benefit.
Death Can Come at Any Time
Many people believe that this life is fleeting, but they have this naive idea at the back of their minds that they will grow old before they die. Yes, we all pray to grow old in good health and the best of life before we pass away, but the reality of life is that death has no age. People die at every stage of life, whether they are a fetus, toddler, teenager or a menopausal adult. To the angel of death, it doesn’t matter if you are getting married next week, or you just got your dream job.
The sahabahs lived as if they only had one day to live. Not in an extravagant “YOLO” kind of way, but in a make-every-second-count kind of way. That is the peak of productivity.
The sahabahs wouldn’t postpone a good deed until they were in the mood to do it, neither would they busy themselves with mindless matters when there were so many things of benefit that they could be doing.
To be productive, you should aspire to make every second of your life count. If you are not doing something good to improve your worldly life, be doing something to improve your life in the hereafter.
Make Good Use of the Silent Hours
If you’ve paid attention online in recent times, you may have seen articles that research into the daily habits of the world’s most successful people. These articles talk about what such people do to amass their fortune, and in every story, one thing is common; successful people take advantage of the times when other people are sleeping. Either in the morning or late at night.
This is not to say that one should forgo sleep and build unhealthy rest habits, but there is something about waking up before everyone else or staying awake after others have gone to sleep, that helps you focus on your tasks.
During the lifetime of the sahabahs, many of them would wake up before the fajr adhan to recite or memorize the Qur’an. They stayed up at night to perform qiyam ul-layl and do as much dhikr as they were able to. All of these before they go on to earn their means of livelihood in the morning, or at night after a long day’s work.
The silent hours of the early morning, and those of the night, are times that you can use productively to work on your dunya or hereafter. You don’t have to stay awake all night, an hour here and there used productively and consistently will add up as the days go by.
On the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took me by the shoulder and said, “Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.” And Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to say, “In the evening do not expect [to live until] the morning, and in the morning do not expect [to live until] the evening. Take [advantage of] your health before times of sickness, and [take advantage of] your life before your death.” (Bukhari)