I want to take you to a point in time when the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him) has returned to his Creator, and his best friend had also followed suit. One of their closest friends is left as a guardian over the Muslims. He needs no introduction, he is Umar Ibn al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him).
The Productivity of our Past
He was the leader of the believers, and inherited his position from the best friend of the Messenger (Peace and blessings be upon him). He was committed to his own worship, generating his own income, spreading Islam, ensuring the development of Islamic understanding of his people, and meeting the needs of every single one of his people, quite literally.
When he was patrolling the streets of the city one night, he came across a wool tent on one of his that had not been there before. He finds a man sitting outside of the tent, while a woman in the tent was moaning in pain. So ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab asked the man: “What’s going on?” The man said “May Allah reward you; carry on with your business.” He didn’t know that this was ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab – who said “I insist on you to tell me what is happening.” He said, “This woman, my wife, is giving birth.” ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab asked: “Is there anyone with her?” He said “No, she is alone.”
Upon learning this, Umar Ibn al-Khattab immediately left and he went back home. He went to his wife Umm Kulthum, and said: “Come with me, there is a woman who is delivering.” He then carried some flour and animal fat shortening. So they returned to the tent and Umm Kulthum went in to help the woman. In the meantime, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab sat outside and he told the man: “Set a fire for me” and then began cooking. While he was cooking his wife called him from inside the tent and said: “Ya Ameer Al-Mu’mineen, congratulate your friend, Allah has blessed him with a boy.”
Obviously happy to hear the news, he was on the other hand anxious to have learnt that he was in the presence of “Ya Ameer Al-Mumineen“, so he started walking away from ‘Umar – wondering to himself how great the giant he was dealing with was! ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab said: “Don’t be afraid, come back, come here, help me, take this pot and you have your dinner and take it to your wife.” So the man put the pot next to the entrance of the tent, Umm Kulthum took it and began feeding the woman who had just delivered. Before they left, ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab told him: “Tomorrow morning you come to me and I’ll give you the pension (or the payment) for your newborn child.”
SubhanAllah, an amazing story and lesson from our past – this was a night in the life of Umar Ibn al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him). He was indeed a super productive Muslim. He made use of every moment of his day and night to serve others, to truly lead this Ummah. He understood productivity, and therefore it is key to walk through the pages of history and look at the lives of these people.
Bringing Productivity to our Present
Brothers and sisters this brings me to the key message of this article, we must know our past, as through it we find a blueprint for leading the most productive lifestyle possible today.
Walking through the corridors of time is one of the most amazing experience for any aspiring productive Muslim. By reading about the lives of the prophets (Peace be upon them), companions, and pious predecessors (May Allah be pleased with them) – you will find things that stir your soul and make you love them.
Consider the life of Umar again, and you will find a blueprint of things that will boost your performance. His day was one blessed with Quran, salah in jama’ah, acts of charity, and the night prayer, and so much more. And it was those things, which facilitated him to do so much.
Your rise in productivity will emerge from knowing and then imitating the lives of those who Allah Himself was pleased with. Now, if you for some reason feel you cannot relate to the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), and feel that their abilities were linked to the time and the company they had, stop to remember they were there to be examples for you and people today who take them as examples are able to achieve amazing productivity.
To help you take action on the above, here are some practical tips:
1. Reflect on The Qur’an.
Ponder on the verses, and try to implement its lesson in your life. It took Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) several years to memorize Surah Baqarah because he would work to enact each verse that he memorized – he strove to carry the Quran in his heart and mind, speech and actions.
2. Learn from the pious predecessors
They aren’t just people or stories we hear about and say ‘wow, mash Allah’, and then go on with our lives as usual. We should take inspiration and lessons from the lives of the Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them).
3. Look out for opportunities to do good deeds
We should not overlook small kindness or underestimate its value. On the Day of Judgment, we will need every good deed we can get. So whether it’s giving up your seat on the bus, donating some spare change, or greeting your brothers/sisters with a smile, we should look out for opportunities to do good deeds and race to them.
4. Care about the well-being of your neighbours and community
Get involved in your community, whether it’s online, at the masjid, or at a seniors’ home. Indeed, you will find barakah in your time and increased productivity when you engage yourself in acts that bring good deeds insha’Allah.
Therefore, know your past, know those illustrious examples, whom you may even be named after, and imitate those lives which will guarantee an exponential growth in your productivity.
About the author
Azim Kidwai is an aspiring ProductiveMuslim and General Manager of Mercy Mission.