If you cannot think of a brand developed and owned by a Muslim that can answer the aforementioned questions, (except Emirates airlines of course), then we need to improve our state of affairs.
As Muslims need to strive to achieve excellence in all good actions. While this is an attitude that everyone should apply regardless of his or her belief, it is an important principle in Islam called Ihsan.
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ’Verily Allah loves proficiency in all things’. [Muslim]
Unfortunately, many of us have neglected this concept and consequently our productivity has also declined. If a job is not done right (ie. to specification), then substantial time, resources, and energy are put into re-doing or refining the work. How productive will you ever be when you’re often forced to revisit jobs/actions you have already ‘done’?
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed the Ummah (Muslim Community) to strive for perfection. One of the Prophetic sayings dealing with Ihsan is particularly interesting here. He (peace be upon him) said: “Verily Allah has enjoined goodness (ihsan) on everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably”. [Sahih Muslim 21:4810]
One might wonder why the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) did not say: “If you pray, pray well, and if you fast, fast well.” Why would the Prophet refer to killing and slaughtering in this hadith?
It is not because as Muslims we are blood-thirsty. No, but rather because slaughtering an animal means that one is ending its life. One might ask: “What difference does it make if I kill it well or not? It is going to die anyway, it won’t have any ‘bad memories’ about it, and so what is the big deal?”
On the contrary, that is not how a Muslim acts or thinks. A Muslim should try to implement excellence in every aspect of his or her life. If one treats an animal well and with perfection when killing it, he will certainly treat it even better while it is alive; he will shelter it with excellence and mercy, and he will feed it in such a manner as well.
Ihsan is not just an idea but a quality which people who are aspiring to be the best they can be genuinely need to consider. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we complete this journey through the concepts of Ihsan and Taqwa – at the crux of which is perfecting it in prayer and actively seeking to improving our character and actions, so that we may be bring benefit to society and to ourselves in the Hereafter.
Keep this ayah in mind as you strive for excellence, where Allah says: Could the reward of good be aught but good? [Quran, 55:60]
Here are three key ingredients which will help you achieve excellence:
1. Have Sincere Intentions: before any action purify your intention, without sincere intentions your work won’t have barakah (blessings) in this life and the Next. With sincere intentions as the foundation of your work, you’ll always be working hard for the pleasure of Allah – not to please others.
2. Focus: devote yourself to the commitment you have made and strive to develop yourself in it. It might be one role in your life you only focus on doing really well at and this requires you to focus, perhaps as a mother, student or worker. As Muslims, the more we focus on becoming better at what we do and avoid distractions, the closer we will be to reaching Ihsan.
3. Develop a specialism/expertise: to become excellent at what you do, whether it is running a business, teaching and training others, or producing goods, helping the needy – develop your knowledge and aim for expertise in that field. Seek out resources that will help you lead with excellence such as workshops, courses, mentors and initiatives. The investment will be worthwhile in the long run.
In summary, to make sure the recipe delivers a successful final product, purify your intentions and sincerity, use the right ingredients, carry out actions the right way, and undertake the righteous actions.
What other ways can you lead with excellence? Share your thoughts below.
Continued – Series on Increasing Productivity
About the Author:
Azim Kidwai, an aspiring productive Muslim, General Manager of Mercy Mission UK.