Productivity

The Spiritual Reality of Islamic Productivity

The Spiritual Reality of Islamic Productivity

What really differentiates Islamic Productivity from other theories of productivity? Definitions are something I always found fascinating. A word could mean three different things to three different people. The definition of productivity is a good example of this.

The materialist would see a day spent in theological discussions as wasted time and unproductive. Yet to the theologian, this is the most productive usage of his time. A businessman may fail to see the value of spending one’s time memorizing an ancient text in a foreign language. But for the Hafez, any time spent memorizing and revising the Quran is the most beautiful and productive usage of his time.

A clash of world views

Islamic ideas operate in a different paradigm from materialistic ideas. This paradigm of obedience to God and preparing for the Afterlife makes the Islamic definition of things very different from modern ideas. Words like success, productivity, time management, and destiny mean very different things to the believer.

Recently, I read some comments from people influenced by modern theories that got me thinking about this topic. One person commented that Muslims are unproductive in Ramadan because fasting causes them to perform poorly at work. Another commented that Muslim women who take care of their families are being unproductive because they are not out there working for money. It is very interesting that both these comments focused on the concept of productivity. This made me realize that our perspective on productivity is very different from other people.

Productivity: An Economic Concept

The standard definition of productivity in most dictionaries indicates the current worldview. Productivity is defined as “the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input” (Google) or “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” (Dictionary.com)

These definitions limit productivity to the economic impact of a person’s actions. By such definitions, it is easy to understand why some people view taking care of one’s family or spending a week in a Masjid worshiping the Creator as unproductive. These tasks do not produce goods or services, or lead to the economic advancement of a community. Hence, they are viewed as unproductive by some segments of society.

As Muslims, however, we must be careful not to allow materialistic ideas to influence our understanding of things. A Muslim’s life does not revolve primarily around economic input and output. Work and wealth are simply tools to enhance the quality of life, and not the purpose of life itself. For the believer, there are things that are much deeper than one’s material status; things like piety, spirituality, family, and the Afterlife.

Productivity: A Spiritual Concept

Islam teaches us that this world is a testing ground for humanity. We are constantly being tested in a variety of ways. The primary test is to find the true religion of God, accept it and try one’s best to follow it. Obedience and worship of the Creator is the purpose of life for humanity and that takes precedence over everything else, including work and accumulating wealth.

In light of this, Muslims should not cling to materialistic definitions of productivity. Our goals are different and so our definitions should differ accordingly. For the believer, a life spent in pursuit of wealth and status, at the expense of the Afterlife, is a life wasted, an unproductive waste of existence. The deeds that contribute to our Afterlife, and especially the ones that keep on producing more rewards, these are the truly productive acts.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “When the human being dies, his deeds end except for three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.”

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1631

This narration gives us some insight into the Islamic paradigm of productivity. A believer should strive to build up his or her streams of continuous good deeds i.e. deeds that continue to benefit long after one’s death. Based on this narration, a life spent in raising a righteous child, seeking beneficial knowledge then spreading it, and a life spent in charity, are all truly productive lives.

“Wealth and children are the adornments of the present life. But the things that last, the virtuous deeds, are better with your Lord for reward, and better for hope.”

Quran 18:46

This verse of the Quran conveys the same message. While wealth and children enhance the quality of life, true productivity lies in producing virtuous deeds that last, like raising righteous children or spending a large portion of one’s wealth in charity. The Quran and Sunnah are both full of reminders that the believer should prioritize the Afterlife. This prioritization affects our definition of productivity.

Conclusion: A Spiritual Definition

The life of of a Muslim revolves primarily around the worship of God, and investing in the Afterlife. This does not mean that a Muslim does not work for this world. Rather our religion encourages hard work, and frowns upon laziness. But everything has its place, and the Afterlife is a greater priority over this world.

A Muslim works hard in every aspect of his or her life but does so in proportion. More time and energy is spent in serving the Creator and building one’s Afterlife. Yet enough time is spent in earning income to provide a blessed Halal life for one’s family. The believer will work hard at his job but will take a break when it is time to pray. A Muslim will try his best to earn well, but will not compromise on Halal earnings, and will dedicate a portion of his earnings to charity. The believer will make time daily to worship the Creator, spend time with the family, contribute to society, and earn some income while prioritizing the Afterlife over this world.

A life spent investing the Afterlife is not unproductive. It is a blessed spiritual existence full of Barakah (Blessing) and Sakina (Inner Peace). The Muslim who chose seclusion in the Mosque while fasting during the last ten days of Ramadan is truly productive in the sight of God. The Muslim woman who invested her youth in raising her children to be righteous beautiful people is truly productive in the sight of God. The Muslim teenager who spends her evenings memorizing the Quran is truly productive in the sight of God. Never allow a materialistic person to convince you otherwise.

If you found this article beneficial, check out our full range of ebooks here.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 3 comments
A Glimpse At My Writing Process

A Glimpse At My Writing Process

Alhamdulillah, I have been writing books for over a decade now. In that period, I have produced over a dozen titles, in various languages. In a few months, I will release my next book; Productivity Principles Of ʿUmar II, if Allah wills it.

In anticipation of the launch of my latest book, I want to share a glimpse at my writing process. I hope this will inspire and assist upcoming authors to adopt productive habits that catapult them into success.

Why I Started Writing?

Let’s start at the beginning. I often get asked why I write books in an era of video and social media. Many people tell me that people don’t read books anymore and that I should focus more on video content.

I disagree with this negative attitude. It is true that there are more people watching videos than reading books these days. But books are still the most valuable resource for those who wish to study a topic in-depth. Books provide a far more immersive educational experience than a YouTube video or Instagram post.

It is very rare for someone to be truly transformed by a YouTube video. Yet every successful person will point you in the direction of a book that changed their life. Books are the lifeblood of real change, and so to make a real impact, writing books is essential.

Another reason I choose to write books is that it is a core feature of the Islamic legacy. Every generation of Muslims has produced outstanding Islamic books that people still benefit from centuries later. Imagine the reward that these authors are accumulating in the grave for producing their books. Should we too want to be a part of this legacy?

The third reason why I write is that it is who I am. Writing is a part of my soul. On the days when I do not write anything, my soul feels agitated and restless. Yet when I am writing, I enter a state of happiness, inner peace, and contentment. I believe it is because my soul is doing what it was created to do. I have been a writer from the time I was a little child. There wasn’t any point in my life in which I did not think that I will one day write a book. So it is only natural that when I grew up, I wrote and published my first book during my early twenties.

My Daily Process

I have a simple daily goal that helps me excel at writing; I write 1000 words minimum every day, besides Sundays.

It may not seem like much but in the long run, it really helps turn writing from a dream into a reality. Writing 1000 words a day is a daily goal, regardless of whether I have a topic to write about or not. This way I maintain the habit and momentum of writing every day even when I am not working on a new book.

So what do I write about?

Anything and everything. Sometimes I may write a blog post. Some days a section of a book I am thinking about writing. Some days a journal entry. And some days just absolute randomness to meet my word count. The goal is to make the habit stick for life. Because of this, I now have a habit of writing a minimum of 1000 words a day. On a good day, I may write 3000-4000 words.

Another important part of this is choosing the right time of the day to write. Morning birds may want to write first thing in the morning. Night owls may prefer to do their writing late at night. I prefer writing in the afternoon when I am in my peak performance state. So every afternoon, from 2 pm to 4 pm I work on my writing projects.

Between having a set time, during my peak performance time, and a set daily minimum, writing had become a habit of mine. Lately, I find myself writing at least 4 to 5 hours day, due to the variety of freelance writing projects I am currently working on.

Finding The Right Topic

Once I get into the habit of writing every day. Eventually, ideas start to come. Sometimes the ideas are not very good and become abandoned first drafts. Other times, they make nice topics for blog posts or articles. Eventually, at least once or twice a year, a big idea will hit me.

When it does, I just know it. I feel an excitement deep down inside, and I just know this is what my next book must be about. When that inspiration hits, the words start to flow. From that day onward, my 1000 words a day is dedicated to the book in my mind until it is completed, which usually takes between two to five months, depending on size and the amount of research needed.

Getting It Done

Once I have my idea for a book, I have a system that makes writing the book much easier. First I write out my idea in as much details as possible, writing it in S.M.A.R.T. goal format. For example, for my next book, I set my goal as; A 350-page book deducting personal development lessons from the life of ʿ Umar II, which I will publish in December, in shaa Allah.

The goal is;
1) Specific: deducting personal development lessons from the life of ʿUmar II
2) Measurable: 350 pages
3) Actionable: 1000 words a day
4) Realistic: I have knowledge about both the life of ʿUmar II and personal development.
5) Time-Bound: Will publish it in December 2019

With my goal crystallized in such details, I then work on my first draft. I also have a detailed system for producing my first draft. I first make a list of chapters. Then I make a separate section for each chapter in the draft file. I then write a few points in each chapter to give me an idea about what I want to write in it.

After that, it is simply a matter of showing up every day, looking at the chapters in my file, deciding which one I want to write, and then turning each of those points into sub-section. I do this for 1000-2000 words a day. Within two months, the first draft is ready. Then editing begins. Within six months, the book is ready for publication, Alhamdulillah.

Building Upon Past Experiences

An important part of my writing process is building upon past experiences. With each book I write, I take note of what worked and what didn’t. I read all the reviews, especially the negative ones and take notes accordingly. I then analyze all the feedback together and work out areas in which I can improve.

If the area of improvement requires training, I take an online course or read a book on the topic. If improvement just requires practice, I use my 1000 words per day to practice for the next month. My goal is to become a better author with each book I write. There is always room for improvement, so I take all feedback seriously, and work daily at becoming a better author.

But I am still working towards my dream

I wrote my first book in 2009. In 2014, I had a dream; I want to be a full-time author. I did not realize how long it takes to make a dream a reality. In 2019, I am halfway towards my goal. These days, I spend half my days working on various writing projects. These include freelance projects, my books, my blog posts, and my online courses. Together, these contribute to around 50% of my monthly income, sometimes more.

To be halfway towards a goal after five years is not bad. It is actually a good thing. It means with a bit more effort, continuous improvement, more books, and some good ideas, I can eventually attain my dream, with Allah’s Help and Permission.

My dream is to spend the rest of my life writing beneficial books and articles, without needing to worry about money. I have one small request; make dua that my dream comes true.

If you want to learn more about my writing, self-publishing and sales process, sign up for my self-publishing online course by clicking here. Over 100 students have studied the course already, and many are already on their way to fulfilling their writing dreams too. Click here to join the course.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, 3 comments
4 Reasons Why I Love Mondays

4 Reasons Why I Love Mondays

I look forward to Mondays. I know that may seem strange and contrary to popular opinion, but I really do love Mondays. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy spending weekends with my family, relaxing and having fun. But at the same time, I often find myself planning my week, thinking up work ideas and gaining excitement to get back to work on Monday.

Why? Well here are a few reasons. Who knows. Maybe, by the end of this, I will convince you to love Mondays too.

1. Mondays are Productive

Mondays are often when I am at my peak creatively. Having rested and enjoyed the weekend, my mind is refreshed, recharged and full of ideas. My mind can’t wait to get started with work. As a result, I get a lot of work done on Mondays, and these tasks end up being of exceptionally high quality. So that is the first reason that I look forward to Mondays. By spending the weekend, resting and recharging, I am recharged and ready to do my best on Monday morning.

2. It sets the tone for the rest of the week

Getting into a state of flow can be tricky, but once you are in it, you can get a lot done in record time. That state of flow can then continue to flow into the next day and the day after. When people begrudgingly start work on Monday in a state of anger, it may take a few days to get into a state of flow. They may only enter this state by Wednesday or Thursday and as a result half the week is lost, every single week. That’s half the year wasting being in the wrong state of mind.

But if someone starts their Monday with excitement and enthusiasm, they can enter a state of flow on Monday. This can then flow throughout the entire week, causing them to be productive every single day until the weekend. Setting the tone for the rest of the week begins with getting high-quality work done on Monday. Do that, and the rest of the week will build upon it.

3. I am grateful for having sources of income

I am grateful that my Creator has blessed me with multiple streams of income. As an expression of that gratitude, I approach my work-week with excitement, love, and happiness. I am happy to work because I appreciate having work to do. I love Mondays because a busy Monday means I am generating income. And I am excited at the possibilities that the week can bring if I begin it in a state of happiness, love, excitement, and gratitude.

4. I love my work

I enjoy the work I do. I love teaching, writing, coaching, counseling and managing people. Every source of income that I have is based on something I genuinely enjoy doing. As a result, I look forward to work, and I am excited to get started every Monday. This makes all the difference in the world. When you love your work, you look forward to work-days. This, in turn, produces high-quality work and opens the doors to even better opportunities. When you find work that you love, you have to love Mondays because you spend it doing something you love.

Conclusion

These are four of the many reasons why I love Mondays. Mondays are productive. They set the tone for the rest of the week. I am grateful to have work to do, and I love my work. These reasons are enough to look forward to Mondays.

If you look forward to Mondays too, post a comment explaining why. If you don’t, I hope this article will inspire you to find a reason to love it.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 0 comments
How to get more out of reading a book

How to get more out of reading a book

Reading often is one of the best habits you can develop. By reading a book a month, you can increase your knowledge at a much faster pace than most people. Reading gives you an edge over those who don’t read.

But not everybody who reads books gets a lot of knowledge out of their books.

For some people, by the time they have finished reading one book, they have forgotten the content of the book they read before that. If you want to avoid falling into this trap, pay attention to the following advice.

1. Have a goal for each book

Before reading any book ask yourself ‘what do I want to get out of this book’ and work towards that goal while reading the book. For example, when you decide to read ‘Getting The Barakah‘ do so with the intention of mastering time management. This will be much more beneficial than just reading it for fun or to just get it over with.

Once you have a goal, you can now focus on trying to achieve that goal. You can put systems in place to measure how close you are to achieving that goal, and to follow up on whether you were able to achieve the goal after finishing the book.

More examples of goal setting when reading a book:
1. I am reading this Tafsir book to get a better understanding of the Quran.
2. I am reading this money management book so that I can become more financially mature.
3. I am reading this fiction book to stimulate my imagination and help me think of new ideas.

2. Engage with the book

This may sound like a weird idea, but it works really well. Every time you come across an important passage in the book that you find hard to understand, take the time to engage with the book. Repeat what you read out loud. Ask questions about what you read out loud. Write down the point in your own words. Engage with the book as if it is a dialogue and you will find yourself benefiting a lot more from reading that book.

For example: If you read a passage explaining a new system of time management, repeat the system out loud by saying, “So what the author is saying is…” If you can complete that sentence in your own words, it means that you have understood the passage well.

If the book is teaching a practical skill like writing or marketing, then take breaks from reading to practice. So you can read for 30 minutes, then practice for 30 minutes in order to make sure you are actually learning the skill.

3. Summarize the book

After completing the book, take some time to write a paragraph or page summarize the core message of the book in your own words. This will help you remember the message of the book long after you have completed reading it. And if you ever forget, you can just read the summary you wrote.

Writing a summary will also help you check whether you truly understood the book or not. If you can recap anything in your own words, it usually means you understood it well. If the book is really dense, then consider writing a summary of every chapter as well.

4. Recommend the book to a friend

If you found a book beneficial, then tell your friends and family about it. After all, if a book is beneficial, it deserves to be read by as many people as possible. But how would this help you remember the book better. Because when recommending the book to someone, you will need to recap the core lessons you learned from that book in order to sell them on it. This serves as a form of revision to further cement the topic in your head.

Are you ready to start reading more beneficial books? Then check out our eBook bundle for the perfect starting package.

Time Management eBook bundle
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Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Books, Productivity, 1 comment

Sometimes procrastination and distractions are a good thing

I previously spoke about overcoming procrastination. But I need to admit something: I procrastinate daily…on purpose. And it really helps me get work done.

This may sound really confusing to folks to assume that procrastination is always a bad thing. However, my time management experience has thought me to embrace procrastination as another tool for productivity.

Don’t get me wrong. Procrastination can be really distracting and unproductive when left unchecked. But when done purposely, it can be very beneficial and productive. Here are some of the times I purposely procrastinate to stay productive.

When I need time to think

A lot of the work I do is mental work. It takes place in my head while I am busy with something else. I learned a long time ago that when I focus too much on trying to think up a solution, I get stuck. But if I leave it to go have some fun and relax, then a solution pops into my mind.

This is because is you think up a problem and then do something else, your subconscious works on the problems. And your subconscious is often better at thinking up solutions than your conscious. So yes, sometimes when I have a serious issue to deal with and solve, I may choose to sleep, drink coffee, play game or watch a funny YouTube video instead. And it often helps me find a solution.

When the timing isn’t right

We often try to rush things out the door as soon as we get new ideas. But sometimes an idea is ahead of its time and needs to incubate for a while before being released. In such situations, procrastination is key to success.

Even if your idea is 100% ready for release today, it may be better to delay the release date in order to test, fix and improve it. At the very least, to find a better timing for releasing it. Doing something right now isn’t always the best option.

When I know I’ll do a better job later

There are times of the day when we work better than others. For example, I write best in the afternoon. This is why even if I have time for writing in the morning, I’d rather have fun or relax. I leave my writing for the afternoon even if it means doing nothing for an entire hour in the morning.

The result: high quality writing during my peak concentration time. I get more writing done, faster, at a better quality because I left it for later. If you know you will be in a better state of mind to study, work or produce later in the day, then do not feel bad to put things off until later.

When I need an idea

Ideas don’t come to me when I am working hard or consumed by boring tasks. They pop into my head when I am relaxed or having fun. This is why I choose to distract myself when I need a new idea. I often find within a few minutes of relaxing or having fun a really good idea will come to mind…like writing this blog post. 🙂

So there you have it. Procrastination can be a part of productivity if done for the right reasons at the right time.

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Procrastination Book
Posted by Ismail Kamdar in Productivity, 0 comments