Everyone wants to accomplish something ‘big’ in life. For some, it may be as simple as having a small and happy family by 25; for others, it may be retiring by 30 or perhaps being an astronaut and going on Mars! It’s this desire to achieve that directs most of our daily choices.
The only thing that separates us human beings from all other creatures is our ability to use our intellect to make rational decisions. A horse doesn’t know it’s the best use, neither does a cow or a fish; they’re all busy following the instincts they’re programmed with by Allah SWT. Only human beings can recognize their own and other creations best use and use them to derive mutual benefit.
It’s their ability to think, learn, grow, and evolve, which puts human beings on the highest pedestal amongst Allah SWT creations.
Do you have that burning desire to achieve more? I bet! (because that’s why you’re reading this blog 😉 ).
Achievement and Productivity go hand in hand. Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. If you can’t do more in the same amount of time, you cannot achieve more. Productivity is the backbone of achievement.
But have you ever questioned what really is Productivity, how it affects you, and how your actions influence it? If not, let’s dive deeper into it.
What is Productivity?
If you ask an unwise, possibly ignorant man about Productivity. He might tell you that productive people are those who are always busy doing one thing or another.
While that may be true to an extent, in reality, Productivity refers to the art of extracting maximum benefit from a task while spending the least time and resources to achieve it.
Productivity is balancing all the different areas of your life (work, relationships, studies, etc.) in a way that ensures that none is compromised. Interestingly, some people might pull everything off really well; however, they might act grumpy, exhausted, or bitter when you speak to them.
Overwhelming yourself with work to achieve more may work in the short run; however, it is actually detrimental to your well-being in the long run. True Productivity actually boosts your mental and emotional health and makes you feel rejuvenated and achieved. That’s the true Productivity you should strive for.
Since this blog is majorly focused on wealth-creation and entrepreneurship, let’s look at Productivity from that angle.
How does Wealth relate to Productivity?
Among the most sought-after achievements in life are Wealth and a high standard of living.
So, does being productive play a part in being wealthy?
If you’re not ‘lucky’ enough to be born with a golden spoon, then yes. If you want to achieve more starting from scratch, you need to become more productive.
When you can finish your essential or mundane tasks productively, that’s when you get that extra time that could be spent on things related to wealth creation.
For example, suppose a person productively runs his small business (and given he’s rational enough), he can use that extra time to start and invest in another business. Or perhaps, he may channel that spare time and energy into something more meaningful, like his relationships, community work, spirituality, etc. All of these will, at the very least, make him wealthy at heart.
So it’s clear that if you want to achieve more, along with your Ibadah (prayers), you also need to be more productive.
You’ll find tons of books on being more productive. But, you won’t find information about the metaphysical concepts that Islam explains and how they relate to your decreased Productivity.
In my opinion, as a Muslim, sins have a massive impact on our Productivity; their effects creep into our lives without us even realizing it.
The Reality of Sins
Have you ever questioned what sins really are?
A sin is an act that Allah SWT has prohibited us from doing.
As beings of intellect, it naturally strikes us as to why Allah SWT would forbid us to do certain things.
If we learn about the attributes of Allah SWT, we realize that He is Al-Hakeem, the Wisest of all. If we sincerely believe in His Hikmah (Wisdom), then it’s definite that if He prohibits us from doing something, there must be strong reason(s) behind it.
Often, we Muslims tend to look at prohibitions as mere limitations, limitations from enjoying life as others around us are. We tend to forget that there is a rationale behind every restriction set by Allah SWT, a betterment and a favor for mankind.
For a being that High, why would it even matter to Him how we spend our lives? Will He gain anything if we obey Him? Why would He then want to limit us from enjoying all the pleasures earth has to offer?
The reality is, instead of restricting us, He SWT (in His love for us) wants to protect us from harming ourselves; sins are indeed a gateway to harm, whether we realize it or not.
There’s a famous saying by Ibn Kathir that “God has the picture. We just have a pixel”.
So from our paradigm, something might appear harmless, but in reality, it has a lot of harm embedded, which we don’t really see instantaneously. It’s only over time do we come to realize the wisdom of Allah SWT in prohibiting us from those (harmful) deeds.
As Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran: “But perhaps you hate a thing, and it is good for you, and perhaps you love a thing, and it is bad for you. And Allah knows while you know not.” [2:216]
Thus, we must believe that whatever Allah SWT has prohibited is harmful to us, and staying away from it is beneficial.
This also is part of believing in the Unseen (Al-Ghayb in Arabic). Unseen doesn’t just encompass believing in angels or the hereafter, but it also means to believe in Allah SWT’s wisdom (‘unseen to us’) behind His orders and commands.
How do Sins Affect Productivity?
Now, here comes the actual point of this entire article. Have you ever thought about the effects of your sins and good deeds on your Productivity?
The equation is pretty simple.
Sins lower your Productivity while refraining from them and doing good deeds instead boosts it, and in turn, your chances of success.
Interestingly, when people sin, they might not see its’ immediate consequences. The results are more so manifested in the long-term rather than the short-term.
You don’t see an immediate deduction on your paycheck when you lie, do you?
But, what you ought to keep in mind and arbitrarily see with the eyes of your heart, is the decline in your chances of growth and success when you habitually lie. That link is there, and only through the glasses of faith can you truly see it.
And why mustn’t the connection be so? Your Productivity and the results you get out of it are both grants of Allah SWT. When you sin and don’t repent, Allah SWT has every right to keep the grant from you, and you would be surprised to see how commonly that happens in reality.
However, there are many things that even the West now accepts as being detrimental to success; acts that we call sins, they may call ‘moral wrongs,’ but the idea is inherently the same. After all, the laws of Allah SWT are the same for everyone.
The rules and regulations they (the West) have learned are from trial and error of years on end. Whereas Allah SWT revealed these guidelines to us through the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet PBUH 1400 years ago, so we may simply adopt them without going through the tiresome trial and error.
To better understand this phenomenon, let’s take a look at a few examples of the effects of Sins:
- Indulging in intoxicants:
Intoxicants are strictly prohibited in Islam. The reason is simple and obvious; it clouds the human intellect, makes him oblivious of himself and his surroundings, and leaves him up to no good.
This, in turn, inhibits man from maximizing his potential and restraining him from being successful in the Duniya and Akhirah.
What difference is then left in human beings and animals?
If seen closely, the effects of intoxicants are widely prevalent and observable in our societies. A typical example could be that intoxicants tear the family system apart as drug addicts run away from responsibilities. By their own choice (at least when they’re not yet addicted to the drug), they become a burden instead of contributing to society.
You may think that doing drugs (or drinking) once in a while is harmless. Interestingly, all the drug addicts considered the same until they got hooked onto the drugs.
- Disrespecting people and treating them as lowly:
In the eyes of Allah SWT, every son of Adam (human being) is treasured and honored.
It was narrated that Abdullah bin Amr said: “I saw the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) circumambulating the Kaaba and saying: ‘How good you are and how good your fragrance; how great you are and how great your sanctity. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, the sanctity of the believer is greater before Allah than your sanctity, his blood and his Wealth, and to think anything but good of him.’” (3932, Sunan Ibn Majah). So imagine the status Kaaba has in the eyes of any Muslim, and then think of this Ahadith; the regard for a Mo’min is higher in the eyes of Allah SWT than the Kaaba itself. How can we then disrespect them or think of them as any less?
The Prophet PBUH also taught us that thinking of ourselves as better than others is a grave sin (Takabbur). It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. Mas’ud that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed: “None shall enter the Fire (of Hell) who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of Iman, and none shall enter Paradise who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride.” (172, Muslim)
You may feel that you being more intelligent, wealthy, or in a higher position, are entitled to all that because you earned or deserved it. However, in the long run, this ego will only make you despised by people, resulting in reduced opportunities for growth because nobody likes to be around those who make them feel miserable about themselves.
Conversely, humility, respectful behavior, and people-friendliness towards everyone will lead you to tremendous success in life.
I’ve learned over time that when you respect Allah SWT’s creations and act with them in the best manner (as taught by the Prophet PBUH), Wallahi Allah SWT instills love for you in His creations’ hearts and makes you successful.
- Earning haram money:
Haram money is any money earned through Islamically prohibited practices – examples could be through blackmailing, drugs, prostitution, child labor, etc. Presumably, the bundles of cash and the ever-increasing number of your bank account balance can be very enticing. But let’s not forget that we’re a part of a big examination, called life.
I mean, selling drugs to students could make you really rich. But Islamically (and morally), would the money earned by getting kids onto drugs really give you any benefit in the long run?
As Muslims, we need to critically think using the Aqal (intelligence) Allah SWT has given us to understand the source of money before greedily chasing to achieve it.
Haram money could be considered similar to the foam on sea waves, spreading out far and seemingly thick and wholesome. But, the moment you touch it, it disappears. This is precisely the reality of haram money.
You will notice the effects of haram wealth on your Productivity right away. Food eaten from haram wealth makes one less prone to do good deeds. It makes people lazy and awakens the desire to cheat, deceive and harm other people in the race to create more and more Wealth.
When consumed (food or otherwise), haram wealth smudges man’s understanding of right and wrong. It instills greed in the individual, which leads to jealousy and envy for others who have more.
It’s an endless vicious cycle that makes the person miserable and rips him of his Productivity and the ability to do good deeds.
In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “A body nourished on Haram sustenance (rizq) will not enter paradise.” (Sunan Tirmidhi)
To conclude, we can see that every action of ours, be it good or bad, affects our productivity one way or another. Thus, as Muslims, we must realize that following Islam is the most optimal way to achieve success in any walk of life, and that it’s never too late to adopt these practices. InShaAllah, slowly but steadily, you’ll see the difference for yourself.