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  1. Assalamualaikum wonderful article. A very helpful read.. Alhamdulilah.I had started praying recently to Allah to protect me from the evils of my own thoughts. What I was implying also included unproductive thinking.. MashAllah this seems like an answer to my prayers. I often hold myself responsible for my actions, like say the if I didn’t score good on my exam I know it’s because I didn’t study hard enough. But I blame it on not having the capacity in me to work hard anymore like I used to.. Kind of like living on the effect side. I fail to translate my belief into productive action. So looking forward to reading the upcoming articles to get over this hubut and complacency IA.

  2. Walaikum salam Sana. Jazakallahu khairan for your kind words. I’m glad that you found it helpful.

    If I may suggest, get a very clear picture of what it looks like to achieve what you want or what you are working towards. Usually, we don’t act when we are not clear on the outcome that we want. Having a clear outcome will pull you forward. And also decide the person you need to be to achieve those outcomes.

    Here’s one of my favourite quotes, “Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most”. So come up with a list of goals that are most important to you. And know that you’re good enough to achieve those goals. The question is, “Do you want them bad enough? And are you willing to learn, strive and grow to become the person you need to be to achieve them? And not let those small temporary setbacks stop you.

    Most of us wait to ‘feel like’ taking action and let our emotions decide our future. When you get clear on what you want and break down each action step to get there, it’s just a matter of steadying taking action doing each step; despite what you feel at the moment. Still waiting to ‘feel like it’? This Ted Talk by Mel Robbins will help iA. Please feel free to post here if I could be of more help.

    • Thank you so much for your detailed response. May Allah reward you extensively. Your reply is Alhamdulilah very motivational and I feel that it IS the solution for me (i.e. To know the kind of person I want to be and to evaluate how badly do I want it) to master productive thinking and actions. Thank you for posting the video as well.

      • Ameen. Thank you for your comment and for checking back. The fact that you’re on this website looking for answers to improve yourself and striving to be productive means that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to and inspire others to do the same.

        Here’s one of my favourite quotes, “When Allah inspires your tongue to ask, know that He wants to give.” – Ibn Ata’ Allah Al-Iskandari
        How awesome is it to know that!!

        And I love that you talk about mastering the productive thinking and habits :)
        “Every master was once a disaster.”

        • Love the quote: “When Allah inspires your tongue to ask, know that He wants to give”! :)
          I really appreciate how you are responding to people who are commenting and helping them improve themselves. MashAllah! May Allah reward you extensively for it! I am following up on the comments every day!

          It’s been a few days since I have read this article and your subsequent comments and it has really helped me to gain bearings of where I stand. It has consciously and systematically brought me to evaluate where I have been heading, and where I should be heading . Alhamdolilah.

          • Thank you for your kind words, Sana. Ameen. I’m very glad to know that you’ve benefitted. Please teach what you’ve learned to someone and pay it forward :)
            Just thought I’d let you know that I did a webinar on ‘understanding and inspiring yourself to change’ a few days ago and the reply is available on my website. Trust you’ll find that beneficial as well.

  3. Hamdullilah a great read and am looking forward to other articles in the series.

    It would be good to have an article on the dlillema muslims have nowadays who our torn between wishing for worldly things in a purely halal way and does that mean that there is a weakness in there iman because of having such desires when there are stories of the Prophet (saw) and the shahabas living very simple lives.

  4. Jazakallah Khair, this article and the above comment is very motivating. I plan to consciously implement these tips in my life , so that I can live more productively insha-Allah

    • Wa iyakum, Shehnaaz. Thanks for your feedback. I like what you said about conscious implementation :) Good on you!

      It is only with conscious implementation and consistency that these positive thinking strategies become unconscious (ie. a habit, second nature).

      Here’s a great quote from Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist and author of ‘The How of Happiness’, “All that is required to become an optimist is to have the goal and to practice it. The more you rehearse optimistic thoughts, the more ‘natural’ and ‘ingrained’ they will become. With time they will be part of you, and you will have made yourself into an altogether different person.”

  5. A great article. I love that quote on the space between stimulus and response. It really has got me thinking.. Mastering the control over that space is a clear sign of maturity. Also, it is true that you must deal with your heart and mind before your hands. There were many times where I made lists of things I knew I “should” do but always procrastinated in getting them done. Now that I think about it, it could be that I wasn’t very clear with myself on why I should be doing it and what the long-term benefits are. We’re always so quick in deciding what we should do without thinking why…

    Thanks so much. Great article. I am truly looking forward to the next one!

    • Thank you for your comment, Nadine. You’re spot on – it definitely is a sign of maturity. And also, not taking things personally, another sign of maturity and wisdom; especially, when it’s related to what other people say or do. If your intentions are correct and you do what’s right, there is no need to worry about what other people are going to say or do.

      Anyways, I think this might be useful for you. It’s called the “Be, Do, Have” model. In anything that you’re trying to achieve, you start with ‘Have’.

      #1. First, decide what you want to HAVE (and WHY you want to have it)
      #2. And, decide what you need to DO to have it?
      #3. Then, decide WHO you need to BE, to DO what you need to DO.

      So the question goes like this, ‘Who do I need to BE to do what I need to DO to have what I want to HAVE?”

      Who you are BEING in this case is more or less determined by your values and beliefs (usually very unconscious). For instance, if what you want to HAVE is a great career, and all the cool things that come with it, but you VALUE your family and relationship too much and BELIEVE that ‘having a successful career means no or less time with family’, then you’ll unconsciously sabotage your career. So, you need to align your ‘be, do, have’ so that you feel congruent to take the necessary actions.

      It’s an expanded model on a similar principle from Covey’s seven habit; Start with the end in mind.

      Ok, lastly, if you’re the ‘to-do’ list type, I suggest that you have 3 columns on your list.

      Left column => your usual ‘to-do’ list
      Middle column => ‘The Outcome’ that you’re looking to achieve by doing what’s in the left column
      Right column => ‘The Why or The Purpose’ of the Outcome that’s in the middle.

      To-do => Jog 2 blocks tomorrow
      Outcome => Oxygenate brain, feel energised, healthy heart
      Why/Purpose => Showing gratitude for blessing that’s my body, live long to see grand daughter’s graduation, etc

      You get the point. Trust that helps.

  6. A great article ….Jazakom Allah Kol Kher …Although I already knew that I’m that person , but this article encourage me to change … keep on

  7. Good article. I tend to define positive and productive thinking as being the same as that of effectiveness and efficiency: one is doing the right thing and the other doing the right thing right respectively. Positive thinking without proactivity (I.e. productive thinking) have gaps. However I agree about the constant striving to think productive/positive. On stimulus and response, we may not not be responsible for circumstances we find ourselves in but have the choice on how to respond to them. Therein lies the difference between successful people and failures.

    • Thank you for sharing this gem, Mahamoud. You said it so well :) Effectiveness and efficiency!

      Reminds me of what my mentor said. She asks, “Are you busy being busy or are you busy being productive?”

      Usually, ‘busy being busy’ (efficiency) is a very low quality way of avoiding what really needs to be done. So you spend your time in your ‘comfort zone’ doing what comes “easy”-because there’s no risk of failure involved- and what’s lying around; not necessarily what’s going to get you to your ultimate goal. ‘Perfectionism’ falls into this category.

      Busy being productive (effectiveness) is a doing what needs to get done to reach your goals. That’s figuring out the 20% that makes 80% of the difference. And then spending 80% of your time doing those 20%.

      Another way of looking at this is knowing the difference between process orientation and goal orientation. It doesn’t matter how fast you drive, if you’re on the wrong road taking you to the wrong destination, well, you know the consequences. So I think there has to be a balance depending on the situation or context.

      I really like the way you phrased the last sentence. You’re exactly right.

  8. Awesome, Alhamdulillah. I’m so glad you’re doing this work, and that many of us are choosing to board the ‘productivity boat’ instead of staying on the shores of stagnation and doubt. At times I feel like there are not enough of us in the fields of positive thinking, counseling, and effective leadership. Alhamdulillah this is another affirmation that we are headed in the right direction at a steady pace.

  9. Asalamu alaikom, inspiring as always, and a great reminder for the whole of ummah. Since few months I am getting NLP coaching by Thurein and my life has improved more than in last few years.Alhamdulillah!Making changes yourself can be hard,and someone pointing out the obvious (like this article) ,making a plan with, being held accountable by someone can give you all the courage in the world.Only regret (QadrAllah) ,was not finding Thurein’s coaching a year ago lol.And Productive Muslim ,great job of posting always great articles !

    • Walaikum salam Emina. That was a nice surprise reading your comment ;). I really appreciate you posting this comment and am very humbled to hear about your growth. MashaAllah tabarakallah.

      I feel very blessed and it’s a privilege to be part of your journey of growth and realising your true potential :) May God continue to increase you and reward you for all your actions.

      You inspire me so much, Emina. Despite all your fears, doubts, worries and setbacks, by you dreaming, learning, implementing, taking action and developing the discipline, who you become in the process is amazing and inspiring, and is and will be a cause for transformation of many others. Jazakallahu Khairan for generously sharing your experience with this awesome community.

  10. Thank you, Olaiya. Well, don’t want to miss the ‘boat’ aye? Great metaphor!

    I think you’re right. who wants to be on the shore looking out into the horizon with so many possibilities and miracles awaiting.

    We want to be on the boat going somewhere and getting somewhere. Better even, let’s make it a cruise liner and take as many people as we can and welcome everyone to join us! That’s where the party’s at! ;)

    Well, I tend to think the same sometimes but there are quite a few, alhamdulillah. We just need to search each other out, get connected, inspire and support each other and form a mastermind.

    • Regarding my comment above:

      Actually, I’m running a support mastermind group on Facebook for people who have great visions and goals, interested in leadership and want to serve and are solution focused, productivity focused, proactive, unrealistic, entrepreneurial (or not), creative (or not). Get connected with me to get on the cruise.

      InshaAllah, we will have a community of people who are supportive and will support you and your goals. If you’re struggling and finding it challenging to change then one of the most important things that you can start doing is to change your environment; be inspired by those around you, see that you don’t have to be alone, see the good that is in this ummah and humanity.

      And if you want to give back and help, please also join up.
      One condition of joining is that you must share what you learn and pay it forward.

      Dear ProductiveMuslim comment moderator, if I’m allowed to include the link to the Facebook group, please include the link and description below. Thank you.
      Please request to join and add those who you think can benefit from the community.
      Jazakallahu Khairan

  11. Assalamu Alaikum Brother, I found this article to be really inspiring and look forward to the rest of the write-ups in this series. I hope to apply these ‘thinking tidbits of information’ and improve the quality of my thoughts and In Sha Allah, the quality of my life in the coming days.

    I also read that you are interested in early childhood education. For your information, I am a published children’s author and writer with several articles on various topics and 4 kiddy books based on Islamic values and themes to my credit, A Hamdulillah. More on my work at I also run a parenting page on Facebook at – and the introductory quote by Victor Frankl in your article got me inspired to write a parenting tidbit for this week for my page. Jazak Allahu Khairan – and inviting you all to come visit our parenting page and share our parenting tidbits and tips.


  12. Walaikum salam Lisha, thanks for your kind words. And thank you for connecting and sharing your works and resources. Impressive and inspiring, mashaAllah. Liked your page and also invited my friends there. Thanks, Lisha. I’ll be in touch, iA.

  13. JazakAllah khair very helpful article mashaa Allah..really been trying to improve my productivity thinking and action all the way through my university year. Only one thing that confuses me, which is the taking 100% responsibilities for the results and non-results. How is it different that, we’re taking responsibilities for example blaming ourselves so much when things doesn’t go our way after working hard for it, and accepting that sometimes it is from the decree of Allah SWT? I hope you could make sense of what i’m trying to say.

    • (Apologies for the long comment. I just realised after typing it up that this comment is an article in and of itself. Trust you’ll find it helpful.)

      Wa iyakum. Thank you Nori. I’m glad that you found the article helpful :). It ’s awesome that you’ve been striving to be productive, especially during uni years where most students have no clue what productivity is.

      And thank you for seeking further clarification on ‘taking 100% responsibility for result and non-result.’ It’s common that people mistake taking responsibility with ‘blaming themselves’. I would like to say that everything is your responsibility but not everything is your fault. Blaming yourself is below the line. Even though you’re not blaming other people or things outside of your control, you’re blaming yourself. Blaming involves a lot of judgement about how things should be and not accepting the ‘reality’.

      That’s why one of the important points about a sincere tawbah is that after we’ve repented from the mistakes that we’ve made, we HAVE TO believe that God has forgiven us. Most of the time, we disempower ourselves by beating ourselves up; we are doing it to ourselves. We should never blame ourselves for the things that we did or didn’t do.

      Sometimes, we don’t get what we want. We get what we need; for us to change, learn and grow.

      Responsibility on another level means ‘Response’ + ‘ability’. Your ability to respond; meaning having that ‘space’ to think and re-evaluate our approach, did I do everything that I could? What’s another way?
      Not banging our head against the wall.. Like the proverbial fly against a glass window. And spinning our wheels saying… I’m going to try harder.
      It’s having the flexibility to step back and take a different approach, talk to different people who’s gone the way, asking for advice etc.
      With certain goals, eg. Goals that involves learning a physical or mental skill, yes, you just need some good old hard work, practice and patience.

      To answer your specific question, in the context that I think you’re asking the question, taking responsibility doesn’t mean ‘blaming’ ourselves when things don’t go our way. Taking responsibility sometimes mean accepting the decree; it may be that it’s not the right time. Sometimes, we want things in our time but God has His own time line. Everything works according to His time SWT. He is Most Wise and the Most Knowledgeable.

      If you’re sure that some of your goals are your life’s callings and your purpose in this world, then keep at them.
      Thoreau says that, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
      James Allan, from one of my favourite essay, As a man thinketh, says this. “Your circumstances may be uncongenial, but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an Ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without”
      Brian Tracy says that, ‘There are no unrealistic goals; only unrealistic deadlines (aka time frames).
      Here’s one of my favourite quotes. “No great thing is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen. “ ~ Epictitus
      That’s why patience is one of the virtuous characters of a believer.
      However, accepting the decree doesn’t mean giving up on our goals. We don’t achieve our goals maybe because it’s not the right timing, or even the right goal. Taking responsibility and really thinking through, doing research, taking counsel (Shura) and pray the divine guidance prayer (Istikhara); that’s all part of our responsibility before pursuing any goals.

      May be we need to talk to the right people but didn’t because ego or fear of criticism gets in the way, so we go it alone. So, don’t take failure as failure. It’s just ‘feedback’ to us that may be we need to do things differently. And we need to take responsibility to be at peace with what is happening. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding another way.

      Remember Edison and his ‘failures’.
      Remember Michael Jordan his ‘failures’.
      Remember Abraham Lincoln and his ‘failures’.
      And remember that a breakthrough follows a breakdown.

      Here’s a list some things to check when setting your goals…
      * Being clear on the means goal and end goals.
      E.g. You’re doing an MBA (means goal) to start and run your own business (End goal). The truth is that you don’t need an MBA to start a business. If your MBA goal doesn’t happen, your end goal of starting your own business doesn’t have to change. You just need to find a business mentor or a coach!
      * Are you clear on the outcome? Do you know what it is going to be like when you achieve your goal?
      Most of the time, we don’t achieve our goals because we don’t have a clear picture of what it’s like, so even thought we might already have, there is no sense of completion because we moved past it without realising that was what we worked for.
      * Is the goal for me? (Meaning not because your parents, someone you love or the society wanted you to pursue that goal)
      * Is it ecological?
      * Is the goal “good for me, good for others and good for the greater good”?
      * Is the goal deserving of me, my time and effort? Is the goal worthy of me?
      We often ask am I good enough to get this goal or deserve the goal, but seldom think to ask the contrary.

      Trust that’s been helpful for you, Nori. And God knows best!
      Feel free to connect with me if you need further clarification.

      • Alhamdulillah..i think i have misunderstood the word ‘responsibility’ on many level and thank you for clarifying the doubts. Mashaa Allah, the explanation including examples and tips you had given has been very helpful indeed. They also put new perspective on my thinking. May Allah SWT reward you abundantly. JazakAllah khair.

  14. Bismillah
    Alhamdulillah that Allah has blessed us to connect on something that is in regards to improving our existence and better utilizing the most precious commodity that has been bestowed upon us: TIME.

    I really enjoyed this article and it resonated on many levels and reminded me of conversations I was recently having with others. You put alot of thought and heart into what you write wa lilaahil hamd.

    The mention on focusing on the thoughts of the mind and the verses that you brought also reminded me of the ayah in the Quran where Allah says, ” And you cannot want something unless Allah wills.” To me this is so deep because it shows that even our desire to improve and prayerfully to be closer to our reason for existence is something for us to be grateful for.

    In the first comment, Sana, said , ” .I had started praying recently to Allah to protect me from the evils of my own thoughts. What I was implying also included unproductive thinking.”

    Just being able to make that duaa shows that the person has been bought to a certain awareness and consequently will , by Allah’s help and aid improve in that arena. As we know that whenever we make a step toward Allah he multiplies our efforts.

    I also was thinking of the mention of the head and the heart and how they have to be in a certain state before the hands can act. This reminded me of the hadith which mentions that if we see an evil we should stop it with our hands, if not then with our speech and if we are unable to do those two that we should hate it in our heart. Although the narration says to stop with our hands the action truly does begin with the thought and the awareness that this is something evil to the point that we WOULD want to put a stop to it.

    I enjoyed the analogy of the tree, maybe because I like trees :) but it was a beautiful comparison to look at the roots of the tree that are so essential to the life of the tree and all that it gives of shelter, shade and fruit and yet it remains unseen.

    Our thoughts do effect our destiny and that is why it is so important for us to protect our exposures and to also understand the nature of the farmers who have sown these seeds in our minds and hearts. They are often not looking to our best interest and certainly not our eternal destiny.

    I need to ponder more over the 4 dimensions as in some way i see the emotional and mental as the same and i do need to go over some parts of the article again. Either way we are appreciative of your work Thurein .May Allah make it heavy on your scale and put barakah in all of your efforts. Articles such as the one above are invaluable tools for those who ponder and take the time to implement.

    And no one said that it was going to be easy. But inshallah in the end, in the final analysis it will be worth it!

    • Indeed it does start with thought and it is a blessing of Allah that He gives us the Tawfeeq to improve ourselves. The mere idea, or the mere wish, to become a better Muslim is from Allah alone.

      The Hadith you have mentioned rightly explains the concept of the grades one has to go through to translate thought into action.

      JazakAllah khair for your comment. It is a reminder of how important it is to begin with the right thought.

    • Jazakallahu khairan, Hasna’, for your kind words and a well thought out comment. Pretty deep, mashaAllah. Gave me some more clarification and further insights into my own thoughts and I thank you for it.
      And I loved, loved, loved that you brought in the farmers. You’re spot on, Hasna’. Usually, without realising it, we let other people sow these bad seeds of worry, criticism, doubts and fears in our mind. That’s why we really have to watch what comes into our minds.
      In this article, we mainly talked about thinking but thinking is only possible when we’re conscious. And the source of consciousness is our heart. Physically speaking, the heart pumping blood carrying oxygen to the brain that makes thinking possible. In a talk called ‘Curing the Heart’, Sheikh Hamza Yusuf gave the analogy of the (spiritual) heart being the city and we have these gates -eyes, ears and other senses- through which the city of the heart can be conquered. And our city of heart can only have one King and that King is God, the Owner of the hearts.
      I’m mentioning the heart because it is important to protect what comes into both our minds and our hearts. I think it is important to realise that everything affects everything else. As you’ve alluded to in your comment, we got to take responsibility to protect our borders and not let people sow bad seeds in our precious gardens, by, eg. not watching the news or TV and have a purpose when on the internet and on Facebook or Youtube etc.
      Thank you for that reminder and pointing that out.
      And I love what you said about it not being easy. You’re so right. It’s not easy… but that’s the whole point. He SWT wants to see who makes the effort and do their best even though it’s not easy. It will be so worth it!! So worth it! :)
      And God knows best!

  15. Salam, beautiful article! Looking forward to the rest. I just have one problem, it is understanding that everything is predestined. Everything is written down on what is to happen. I personally feel powerless to this idea, I need help as to think about this in the correct way and mindset. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

    • Walaikum salam, AA. Thank you. Well, I don’t think you have a problem. I think you have an opportunity to find out and get some clarity around this ;) I think I understand where you’re coming from. Most people have this challenge.. So thanks for asking the question.
      First of all, according to my limited knowledge, there are two kinds of predestination. Unconditional and conditional. Unconditional – eg. things like hair and skin colour, country that one’s born in, the parents that one’s born to etc. Conditional – can be changed if God wills. Prophet SAW said that, “Nothing can change the Qadar except the Du`a’’.
      We live in the world of means. There are beautiful things that are written for us but making them a reality depends on our intention and effort to strive and work. The same with our rizq (provision) in this world. It’s written but we have to work to get it.
      ‘…man can have nothing but what he strives for.’ (53:39)
      Our free will is a great blessing. That’s why the status of human beings is higher than that of the angels; if we choose to think and act in resourceful, responsible and above the line ways with our free will, of course.
      That’s why it is up to us to decide what we want and then work to go get it and make it happen, with His permission.
      That’s where our trust and faith come in. What’s the point of asking us to believe and trust if we know in advance what we’re going to get, how everything is going to turn out and where we’re going to end up? Well, that’s the test. The test is.. Will you believe? Will you trust? Without know what’s waiting for you?
      ‘Your Lord said, ‘Make dua to me and I will answer you.’ (40:60)
      He promises that He’ll answer our prayer. But will you make the du’a? Will you ask? Will you work? Will you believe in your vision and your dream and strive and work until it’s a reality?
      Like one of my favourite quotes by Ibn Ata’lah says, “When Allah inspires your tongue to ask, know that He wants to give.” Don’t think that you came up with these desires and ideas all by yourself.
      Or will you give up without even trying?
      Will you give up on yourself? Will you give up on Allah?
      The truth is if you’re still here, He hasn’t given up on you!
      Every day is a new day. Every second is a second chance.
      Many people doubt themselves. Many people ask themselves, ‘Am I good enough?’. Wrong question! The question is, “Do I know what I want?” And do I want it bad enough.. To ask, to pray and to work, with our head, heart and hands, day in an day out, set back after set back…until.
      It’s ultimately a decision that each of us has to make… because each of us is accountable for our own decisions and actions. ‘… no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.’ (53:38)
      On the Day, we will be ask about the time, the life, the health, the wealth, the knowledge that we’ve been given and blessed with. Will you be one of the masses that cannot move because they don’t have an answer? Or will you be one of the few who say “O my Lord! I trusted your promise and I gave it all with all that you gave me!”
      What will you choose to notice from the examples that are around you? People who gave up and then complain and justify? Or people who believed and found a way to make their dreams reality and serve a greater purpose? What is wrong is always available. And so is what’s right.
      You have to make your own decision as to what you’re going to let into your mind and affect you. Will you choose to justify your mediocrity? Or will you choose to inspire yourself and become an inspiration for others?
      That’s why it’s a great responsibility for each and everyone of us and we need to understand and think from a responsible mindset.
      I pray that you’ll forgive me for the length that I went to address the question; I felt like it was needed. Of course, not everything’s directed at you but to set a broader context so that the answers will benefit those who’ll see this later, inshaAllah. I trust that it helps you get some clarity. If not, please keep asking question and get this sorted.
      And God knows best.
      Please look up ‘dua weapon of the believer’ on Youtube. It’s a fantastic resource on this concept.
      And please read this article for further details.

  16. assalum oalikum
    not only the article is very good ,it was a delight reading the comments section with replies.Especially loved the part ”busy being busy ”,i think i’m one of those(off course it doesnt help to have two kids,beiing a practicing doctor,doing specialization).i know that i’m insanely busy both mentally and physically but i’m unable to pick the 20% that will give 80%,infact i end up being in the opposite of the excuses i think of is i’m just not smart enough, but i guess thats also a part of being an ”at-effect” person.hopefully inshallah this series will break this vicious circle of doubt a very essential aspect of life is touched here with an islamic perspective and thats some pioneer work.May Allah heip everyone at in every aspect of their life

  17. Jazakallahu khairan! I first heard mel Robbins’ video, and in my struggle to do better and trust in Allah better I landed across your series. Alhamdulillah.