This comes from ProductiveMuslim
As Muslims, we cannot underestimate the importance of reading, especially when the first word revealed to our Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was “Read!”. But whenever the topic of reading comes up, even though we recognise its importance, we always bombard ourselves with reminders of how busy we are, or we think that reading is a waste of time compared to our other chores we have to do during the day.
I was reminded about the importance of reading recently in a self-development book that encourages its readers to read extensively into many topics and widen their horizon. 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 would have.
As Productive Muslims, we should have two types of reading: 1) Islamic reading (Quran, Hadeeth, Islamic books) 2) General reading. If I were to ask any Muslim today, which is more important? They’d say Islamic reading is more important than general reading. I would agree and would be hard for anyone to argue otherwise. But I would also argue here 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 Zakat and support my family better, won’t that be considered beneficial? + wouldn’t I get rewarded for such reading? If I were to read the latest industry journal so I become acutely aware 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 might argue, that after the Quran, the Prophets Hadeeth books and other Islamic books there’s no need to read any further. And I would agree with that; those are part of the Sacred Knowledge that one should know and continue to explore and if we truly understand the Quran or sincerely attempt to understand it, we’ll find wisdom in there that suffices for all the books in the world! But, I would also argue that there’s a case for reading extensively in numerous topics that interest you, from either reading into your University degree widely, or reading your industry’s journal. Reading biographies of great men and women who achieved great things regardless of circumstances, to self-help books that work on personal self-development or any other habits/traits in us that need developed. We should read, read, read and constantly read.
So yes be selective, and Islamic reading should be a priority over any type of reading, but also read extensively and be open minded about things, and you’ll note 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 + general leading. Below are some tips:
1) If you haven’t yet developed a habit of reading Quran + islamic knowledge daily, start developing this habit first. I advise to set yourself 10 minutes after fajr in your first week into this exercise and read 5 minutes of Quran + 5 minutes of Islamic knowledge or Hadeeth. Do this daily! The key is to do it after fajr salaat, as it’ll truly set your day straight.
After one week, add 10 minutes to your time. So now you’re reading 10 minutes of Quran + 10 minutes of Islamic knowledge + hadeeth.
In the third week, do this for half an hour and read 20 minutes of Quran + 10 minutes of Islamic knowledge + hadeeth…and now just stick to that! 30 minutes, no more! You might say, I can do more, I’ll say go ahead, but for our purposes, it’s important you develop a “habit” that’s consistent rather than go to extremes and then forget about this whole exercise.
2) Similarly, let’s develop a reading habit for general knowledge. Again, start with 10 minutes per day on any beneficial book you want to read. Do this before you sleep (as it is highly advisable) since it relaxes your mind yet exercies it at the same time. Do this for a week. But stick to it!!! No matter how tired, just read for 10 minutes. In the following week, extend your “bed-time” reading to 20 minutes, and following that by 30 minutes, and that’s it. Stick to that 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 to constantly read “Islamic knowledge” after every prayer. Or between 2 salats, e.g. Maghreb and Isha, this is where you dig deeper into the reading and perhaps memorize or use it to “study” Islam. Similarly for general reading, after a month of the above exercise, have some reading which you can do at work during lunchbreak for example that’s related to your work (e.g. FT, industry magazines, competitor work..etc) and leave your “bed-time” reading to self-development books, biographies, and books to inspire and motivate you.
I hope that sets us all up for reading and constantly reading. Finally, when ProductiveMuslim.com first started, we had a books page where I posted weekly a recommended book to read. I’ve had to remove it for various reasons, but inshaAllah would introduce it back soon, so do check the website often, and hopefully the ProductiveMuslim reading list would give some guidance on books to read that would be beneficial inshaAllah.
If you have ideas, tips, books you want to share, add to the comments below!