Techniques to Develop a Habit of Reading

Techniques to Develop a Habit of ReadingAs Muslims, we cannot underestimate the importance of reading, especially when the first word revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was “Read!” Yet, whenever the topic of reading comes up, although we recognize its importance we always excuse ourselves with reminders of how busy we are, or assume that reading is a waste of time compared to the other chores we need to perform during the day.

I was recently reminded about the importance of reading in a self-development book which encourages its readers to read extensively into many topics in order to widen their horizons. You can evidently see the difference between someone who reads and someone who doesn’t read, at least in the vocabulary they use, never mind the ideas and creative thinking that book lovers tend to have.

As Productive Muslims, we should exercise two types of reading:

  • Islamic reading (Quran, Hadeeth, Islamic books)
  • General reading

If I were to ask any Muslim today, which category is more important, they would say that Islamic reading is more important than general reading. I would agree and it would be hard for anyone to argue otherwise. But I would also argue that general reading is important depending on the intention you make. If I were to read a book on marketing skills, and my intention is to improve my business, make more profits, and be able to give more Zakah and support my family better, won’t that be considered beneficial? Plus, wouldn’t I be rewarded for such reading? If I were to read the latest industry journal so that I am acutely aware of what’s happening in the industry and attempt to stay “on top of it all”, and my intention is to better the Ummah by being a leader in this industry instead of a follower, isn’t that something great?

One may argue, that after reading the Quran, the Prophetic ahadeeth, and other Islamic books there is no need to read any further. And I would agree with that; this is the Sacred Knowledge that one should know and continue to explore and if we truly and sincerely attempt to understand the Quran, we will find wisdom within it which suffices all the books in the world! Although it’s important to note that there is a case for reading extensively into numerous topics that interest you, ranging from reading widely into materials relating to your University degree or reading your industry’s journal, to biographies of men and women who achieved great missions regardless of their circumstances and self-help books that cultivate self-development or any other habits/traits in us that need to be developed.

We should read, read, read and constantly read in order to apply good knowledge to our lives. My advice is to be selective in reading. Whilst Islamic reading should be a priority over any type of reading, don’t forget to read extensively and be open minded about other topics. You will surely notice yourself develop!

Now, the question begs itself: how should we read? Or more specifically, how should we develop a reading habit so that we constantly read, both Islamic reading and general reading?

Below are some tips to help you along the way:

    1. If you haven’t yet developed a daily habit of reading Quran and Islamic knowledge, begin by developing this habit first. I advise you to set yourself 10 minutes after Fajr in your first week into this exercise and read 5 minutes of Quran plus 5 minutes of Islamic knowledge or Hadeeth. Do this daily! The key is to do it after Fajr Salah, as it will truly set your day straight.
      After one week, add 10 minutes to your time. So now you’re reading 10 minutes of Quran and 10 minutes of Islamic knowledge plus hadeeth.In the third week, do this for half an hour and read 20 minutes of Quran and 10 minutes of Islamic knowledge plus hadeeth… and now just stick to that! 30 minutes, no more! You might say, I can do more. I’d say go ahead, but for our purposes, it’s important you develop a ‘habit’ that’s consistent rather than attempting more than you can chew and then forgetting about the whole exercise. Consistency will develop through deriving more beneficial lessons from the books you read.
    2. Similarly, we should develop a reading habit for general knowledge. Again, begin with 10 minutes per day on any beneficial book you want to read. It is highly advised that you read before you sleep as it relaxes and stimulates your mind at the same time. Do this for a week and stick to it! No matter how tired you are, just read for 10 minutes. In the following week, extend your ‘bed-time’ reading to 20 minutes, then follow that by 30 minutes, and that’s it. Stick to that programme and be consistent.

After working on the above exercise for a month, you can take a step further. For Islamic knowledge, try to develop a habit of constantly reading something of Islamic knowledge after every prayer. Or between 2 Salah times, for example between Maghreb and Isha. This is where you can dig deeper into the reading and perhaps memorize or use your time to ‘study’ Islam. Similarly, for general reading, after a month of the above exercise include some reading time at work during lunch break. What you read can be related to your work (such as: FT, industry magazines, competitor work etc…) and leave your ‘bed-time’ reading to self-development books, biographies, and books which inspire and motivate.

I hope that sets us all up to continually pursue reading in our lives so that it becomes an integral part of our development. When first launched, we had a books page in which I posted a recommended book to read on a weekly basis. I’ve had to remove it for various reasons, but inshaAllah we’ll post book reviews regularly, so do check the website often, and hopefully the ProductiveMuslim reading reviews will give you some guidance on beneficial books to read inshaAllah.

If you have ideas, tips, books you want to share, or anything to add, get in touch with us!

31 thoughts on “Techniques to Develop a Habit of Reading

  1. Salam,

    Mashallah you have offered a great insight.

    Indeed reading anything beneficial is obligatory on a Muslim.

    As Muslims we are instructed to "Seek Knowledge".

    And….the first thing that Allah created was the Pen.

    I think that is symbolic for writing and reading of knowledge.

    They go hand in hand to spread knowledge which is the only "cure" for ignorance.



  2. masha’Allah, excellent piece and may Allah (swt) reward you and excell you in excellence both in this world and the next! ameen! truly inspiring and an instant ‘pick-me-up’ for those downer days – i will be re-reading this to inspire and uplift me!

  3. Excellent article, very well thought-out and laid-out. Jazakallah khayran for making a clear connection between Islamic reading and general reading, many people do not see this connection and tend to focus solely on Islamic reading which is absolutely fantastic but I feel that general reading strengthens your overall mental agility. I am currently reading a non-Islamic book on memory and concentration to help improve my Quran memorisation abilities and achieve better concentration whilst reading. Your article therefore came at the right time to remove all elements of doubt in doing this. Well done and may Allah reward you for your efforts.

    1. salams brother, just wanted to ask you what is the name of the book you are reading on memory and concentration?

  4. gazag Allah 5ayran ,
    Put Please can you add some article about the reading Techniques and Speed Reading
    And how to read effeciently technical book
    There is Tons of Advices for these topics , But i prefer you Simple approach to deliver the information

  5. Speed reading tip
    1 – when reading on paper/book keep a pencil with you and apply a marker on the left side of the line that you are currently reading. The marker helps your eye look for the next line, which you have not read, this has saved me a lot of time
    2 – keep the tip of the pencil under the word you are currently reading.
    3 – in every sentence there are words that make up the actual meaning of the sentence. make it a habit to underline these words, while you read.
    I cleared my CISSP exam after only 4 months reading. The usual reading time recommended for reading for this exam is 6 months. I hope Inshallah other readers will benefit from these techniques.


  6. One of the best articles i have read , May Allah bless you!
    Do suggest what books to read for self development for us.
    Your simplicity and clarity of thoughts were great.

  7. Whenever I turn to personal development/self help reading I remember this verse “Say, ‘If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.'” (18:109)

  8. no words in English to express my feelings.

    brother please write some articles, which will benefit our Muslim students.

  9. Mash’Allah, this is a great article. I have been having trouble to find a way of developing my habit of reading books. After reading this article, I believe I have found the way Alhamdulillah and can build my reading habit smoothly In Shaa Allah. Jazak’Allah Khair for this article.

  10. Is there room for fiction books in this schedule. I love reading stories but I often feel guilty that I may be wasting my time or that it is of no benefit.

  11. Quran says to the prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam who was shown the entire reality of the universe to acquire knowledge. It makes it even more important for us to acquire knowledge. In fact it is incumbent upon muslims to acquire mastery of atleast one subject so that we can serve humanity and thereby gaining pleasure of Allah swt. The writer has rightly said that any knowledge of duniya we learn with a good intention also becomes an act of worship to Allah and will be rewarded. Most importantly we put sacred knowledge and secular knowledge in their proper places.

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