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21 April 2013

Does Inefficiency Go Against the Teachings of Islam?

This article serves as a reminder both to myself and to Productive Muslim followers of the need to master time and make the most of our journey through dunya. The following hadith shows us how important this is, and in fact the importance placed upon us as Muslims to utilise time efficiently:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet  (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘Allah said: “The son of Adam hurts Me by abusing Time, for I am Time; in My Hands are all things and I cause the revolution of night and day”’[Bukhari].

Below are some tips on how to remain efficient at any time of the year and make the most of your time.

Social Media

You don't need me to tell you that the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be huge time wasters. If used selectively, good can come of them, but as with all things, moderation is key. This can be difficult when you're sucked into reading the ins and outs of other people’s lives and Shaytan creeps in. Before you know it hours have passed and your to-do list is just as long as when you sat down at your desk. Ramadan was a detox for your body and mind – why not do the same now for your social media habits? Continue to connect with your loved ones, but in real life!


It might be tempting to multi-task when you have countless pressing tasks. However, it is evident from a previous ProductiveMuslim article that our Prophet Muhammad  (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not. Modern day productivity tips also suggest that focusing on one task at a time actually means you work more efficiently – see other Productive Muslim articles for more information on this, or visit the likes of www.zenhabits.net. The idea is to focus on the most difficult task as soon as possible, and take the easier tasks one by one following completion of this.

Don't Put Off Until Tomorrow…

We all know the saying, yet how many of us actually take note of the wisdom it imparts? How many times have you said ‘ I'll do this tomorrow, inshaAllah’ when deep down you know you won’t? Instead, ask yourself: Do I have time for this today? Yes? Then just go do it! Ultimately, only Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) knows how long we have in this life, so don't take the time you have been blessed with for granted. Use every day to be productive in some way!

Have set times for doing certain tasks so that they become part of your routine. This way you won't need to waste time thinking which task comes next. Try to plan for the following day the night before – inshaAllah you can then hit the ground running the next morning.

Know Yourself

Take a good hard look at when you seem to work the best – if you’re not sure then experiment with different timings to see when you are most productive e.g. after Fajr salah, or between Maghrib and Isha. Utilise this time slot, and plan your schedule accordingly – tasks allocated to these periods are likely to be completely more efficiently.

Gradual Change

Perhaps the most important tip is not to make all of these changes at once. If you do, you're more than likely to stop after a week or so. Make the changes gradually and inshaAllah you will see the benefits over time.

Efficiency vs. Workaholic

It is important to remember that being efficient does not mean you have to be a workaholic or have no life outside of work. In fact, if you are being truly efficient, then you should have spare time left for other activities. Being efficient is related to all aspects of life, including family time and doing other things you love e.g. getting back to nature. The beauty of this is they work in an interconnected way – time for both work and play means you are more productive in both areas of your life, and you appreciate that time better. After all, the saying goes that if you want something done then give it to someone with a packed schedule – they will find the time to do it because they have limited time. The time spent with family and friends is also all the better because of it. Of course working hard, coupled with good intentions, is the key to being a productive Muslim; however, don't spend all of your time working as this will simply lead to overall inefficiency.

Islam and Time

Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Quran that:

Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another” [3:195].

Allah  (glorified and exalted be He) also asks:

Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned?” [23:115].

In Surah al-Asr we are told:

By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience” [103:1-3].

InshaAllah let us remember these verses in our attempts to become more efficient with our time.
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