The concept of productivity in Islam is very different to its concept in industry. The latter, namely “industrialisation”, is “the process of expanding the country’s capacity to produce secondary goods and services”
In short, it’s about large-scale production. This is productivity in the world of manufacturing. But can the same definition be applied to productivity in Islam?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions were once engaged in a battle with the idolaters of Makkah. There was one particular soldier in the Muslim army who was courageously and boldly fighting the enemies. The companions said, in sheer admiration of this seemingly pious individual:
مَا أَجْزَأَ مِنَّا الْيَوْمَ أَحَدٌ كَمَا أَجْزَأَ فُلَانٌ
“None of us today has done better today than so and so”*
*In the seerah of Ibn Hishaam, the name of this person is mentioned as “Qazman”
The response of the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), however, was unexpected as he explained that he would be an inmate of the Hell Fire. You may be puzzled and shocked – why would a mujahid fighting in the path of Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) be in Hell?
During the course of the battle, this courageous fighter had received a devastating blow and was severely wounded, and he was not patient. Rather, he killed himself with his sword, he committed suicide.
A companion who had observed this ran back to the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: “I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah,” and told the Prophet (peace be upon him) of the incident. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then comments: “A person may do good deeds, or so it seems to the people, although he is one of the people of Hell, and a person may commit sins, or so it seems to the people, although he is one of the people of Paradise.” [Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Sahl Ibn Sa’d (May Allah be pleased with him)]
Hence, Ibn al-Mubarak precisely said:
رب عمل صغير تعظمه النية، ورب عمل كبير تصغره النية
“A small deed may become great due to the intention behind it, and a great deed may become small, due the intention behind it.” (From the book: “Siyar a’laam anNubalaa’”, by Imam ath-Thahabi)
For this reason, don’t tell yourself, “I can never author 10 volumes of work like the scholars of the past did or establish worldwide institutions and orphanages, and so I will never have an influence on others…” A statement like this is based on the understanding of the industry’s definition of productivity, that the more books you place in the market, the greater your contribution will be. But dear reader, this is incorrect. When the element of sincerity within you is rectified and your actions are by The Qur’an and Sunnah, your actions will be accepted and flourish insha’Allah Ta’ala.
Just take a look at the following example. Out of the thousands upon thousands of books written in the Islamic field, why is it that one of the most famous and most widespread among Muslims happens to be a booklet comprising of 40 (or so) hadeeth? It seems to be such a simple idea, right? I could easily put together 40 ahadeeth into a booklet, and it has been done several times in the past…but why is it that this particular one (Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith) spread like wildfire?
Therefore, do not only think that contribution is governed solely by how much you produce, but rather it is governed by your intention and efforts. Do your best (work or produce with sincerity and hard work), and let Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) take care of the rest.
About the Author: Ali Hammuda