If we were to look for an Islamic definition of Productivity, it can probably be summarised in the word “barakah” or Blessing. Being able to achieve more with few resources, doing much in little time, and generating a lot with little effort is surely a blessing from Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Yet Barakah has somehow become a lost treasure these days; everyone’s looking for it, but no one seems to find it! You always hear people complaining that there’s no barakah in their time, no barakah in their sleep, no barakah in their money and the rest of it.
In this article, we’ll solve this mystery in sha Allah: we’ll find out what Barakah is and where you can find it!
WHAT IS BARAKAH?
A Well-known daee explains it as follows:
والبركة: هي ثبوت الخير الإلهي في الشيء؛ فإنها إذا حلت في قليل كثرته، وإذا حلت في كثير نفع، ومن أعظم ثمار البركة في الأمور كلها إستعمالها في طاعة الله عز وجل.
“Barakah is the attachment of Divine goodness to a thing, so if it occurs in something little, it increases it. And if it occurs in something much it benefits. And the greatest fruits of Barakah in all things is to use that barakah in the obedience of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala)”
SOURCE’S OF BARAKAH
I’m a firm believer that Barakah is not a lost treasure, rather, it’s right in front of our eyes! This treasure is only available and ready to be handed over to the one who works for it. Below, are listed some of the sources of Barakah. It’s not an exhaustive list.
1. GOOD INTENTIONS
If you want something to have barakah attached to it, have good intentions for it. More specifically, make sure that deed is intended for the sake of Allah (Subahanahu Wa Ta’ala). Looking again at the definition of Barakah, you may guess that without us intending what we have or do for the Sake of Allah, the “Divine goodness” won’t be found in our deeds.
2. PIETY AND BELIEF IN ALLAH
Allah says in the Quran: “If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them (All kinds of) blessings from heaven and earth…”(Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 96). And He says in the Quran: “And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine” (Surah Al-Talaq, Verses 2-3).
3. PUTTING YOUR TRUST IN ALLAH
Allah says in the Quran: “And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion”2 (Surah Al-Talaq, verses 3)
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs. (Ahmad, An-Nasa’I, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi)
4. READING QURAN
This is the fountain of Barakah! But subhanaAllah, we rarely drink from it! Allah says in the Quran: “And this is a Book which We have sent down, bringing blessings, and confirming (the revelations) which came before it…” (Surah Al-An’am, Verse 92).3 So read the Quran, and observe the blessings and barakah of Allah enter your life. The further we are from this Book of Guidance, the less barakah we will have in our lives.
5. SAYING BISMILLAH
When you say “Bismillah” before anything you do, you’re invoking the Name of Allah on that activity; not only will that activity be blessed but shaytaan cannot take part in it! So always say “Bismillah” before anything you do! SubhanaAllah, it’s easy for us to forget to say “Bismillah”. Sometimes we’re so used to saying it that we cannot remember whether we said it or not! Try to be conscious of saying “Bismillah” and understand what you’re saying before your action is performed.
6. EATING WITH PEOPLE
Anyone who has had the experience of inviting guests to his/her house will know this one. No matter how little you think the food you’re presenting to your guest is, it’s always more than enough! (Note: this is not an excuse to be miserly when you invite guests over; in fact we should follow the Sunnah of our Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihis Salaam) whom when visited by the angels prepared a large meal for them). What I’m referring to here is the blessing that occurs when eating together, confirmed in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) who said:
“Eat together, for blessing is in Jamma’a (congregation or being together)…”
and in another hadeeth:
“Whoever has food enough for two persons, should take a third one, and whoever has food enough for four persons, should take a fifth or a sixth (or said something similar).” [Bukhari, Volume 4. Book 56. Number 781]
7. HONESTY IN TRADE
This is for all of the business people out there (include ebayers!). We shouldn’t assume lying and deceiving people will make our trade profitable. On the contrary, it will remove the blessing from your trade Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “The buyer and the seller have the option of canceling or confirming the bargain unless they separate, and if they spoke the truth and made clear the defects of the goods, then they would be blessed in their bargain, and if they told lies and hid some facts, their bargain would be deprived of Allah’s blessings”[Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, Number 293]
Yes, it’s difficult to be honest when you’re trying to sell something, but trust me it’s worth it.
Ask Allah for barakah! If you take note of some of the Duas of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) you’ll notice that the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to make dua for barakah. We always say: “May Allah bless you!” Well, guess what? That’s a source of barakah! Also, when you’re invited to someone’s house, Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) advised us to make the following dua for the host: “O Allah, bless for them, that which You have provided them, forgive them and have mercy upon them.”
9. HALAL INCOME/MONEY
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “O people, Allah is good and He therefore, accepts only that which is good” (Scholars say this refers to Halal income and the importance of it).
A scholar also said of the one who eats Haram, that his limbs will disobey Allah whether he likes it or not, and that the one who eats Halal and seeks Halal income, his limbs will also do good and will be given the permission to seek goodness.
This concept of your limbs being ‘blessed’ and enabled to do good is truly a blessing and a barakah we should all seek. It reminds me of a story of an old man who jumped a large distance that the young men were unable to jump. When the young men asked the old man how he did it, he replied: “These are our limbs: we protected them from committing sins when we were young, so Allah preserved them for us when we got old”.
10. FOLLOWING THE SUNNAH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) IN EVERYTHING
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the most Productive Man in the history of humanity is our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Therefore, by simply following his lifestyle and the acts of Sunnah we so often hear about, we obtain a great source of Barakah!
Some of these Sunnahs include: eating Suhoor, eating with the right hand from the side of the plate, going out for Eid Salah, licking your fingers after finishing your meal, sleeping on your right hand side, using the siwaak, and many more. Look out for these Sunnahs and follow them, for imitating the life of the most blessed man on earth is surely a source of blessing!
11. PRAYING ISTIKHARA
Praying istikhara in all matters and then leaving the outcome to Allah as well as accepting His Decree is a great source of barakah. The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) taught us this beautiful dua which helps us make decisions and not regret the choices we make in the following Hadeeth:
On the authority of Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdullah he said: “The Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) would instruct us to pray for guidance in all of our concerns, just as he would teach us a chapter from the Qur’an. He (peace be upon him) would say: ‘If any of you intends to undertake a matter then let him pray two supererogatory units (two rak’ah optional nafil) of prayer and after which he should supplicate:
‘O Allah, I seek Your counsel by Your knowledge and by Your power I seek strength and I ask You from Your immense favour, for verily You are able while I am not and verily You know while I do not and You are the Knower of the unseen. O Allaah, if You know this affair -and here he mentions his need- to be good for me in relation to my religion, my life, and end, then decree and facilitate it for me, and bless me with it, and if You know this affair to be ill for me towards my religion, my life, and end, then remove it from me and remove me from it, and decree for me what is good wherever it be and make me satisfied with such.”
One who seeks guidance from his Creator and consults his fellow believers and then remains firm in his resolve does not regret for Allah has said:
‘…and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah…” [Quran 3: 159]
12. GIVING THANKS TO ALLAH IN ABUNDANCE
Allah says in the Quran: “If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you”.3 A scholar once told me that if one looks into this verse, the Arabic word that is used to confirm that Allah Wills favours unto the person who thanks Him is actually in the form of an Oath – “La azidannakum”. So Allah is promising the person who thanks Him an increase in goodness and blessings, and Allah never breaks His promises.
In a Hadeeth Qudsi, Allah says: “O son of Adam, spend (in charity), and I’ll spend on you!” Whenever you are broke, or you feel barakah is zapped out of your life and urgently need it to return, the quickest of way of gaining barakah in your life can be through giving charity. For example, let’s say barakah was removed from your life due to a sin you committed; charity cleanses your sins, adds good deeds and is a source of barakah.
It cannot be described; the instantaneous gratification of giving charity and the barakah that follows it. Try it NOW!
14. TYING YOUR TIES OF KINSHIP
Narrated Abu Huraira (RadiAllahu Anhu): The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said, “Allah created His creation, and when He had finished it, the womb, got up and caught hold of Allah whereupon Allah said, “What is the matter?’ On that, it said, “I seek refuge with you from those who sever the ties of Kith and kin.” On that Allah said, “Will you be satisfied if I bestow My favours on him who keeps your ties, and withhold My favours from him who severs your ties?” On that it said, “Yes, O my Lord!” Then Allah said, “That is for you.” Abu Huraira added: “If you wish, you can recite: ‘Would you then if you were given the authority do mischief in the land and sever your ties of kinship?”[Bukhari, Volume 6. Book 60. Number 354]
15. WAKING UP EARLY
Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “Allah made the early hours blessed for my Ummah.”(Ahmed)2
This hadeeth was what spurred me to create Such gems of productivity are the sources of blessings which we should seek to make our life productive. Waking up early is such an important step to being blessed and feeling good throughout your day.
Try to wake up for Tahajjud, and then work during the hours before Fajr Salah. If you cannot, then at least wake up for Fajr and stay up till sunrise before you return to sleep. Those hours are filled with Barakah. If you’re able to go to work in those hours, do so, you’ll get much more work done than the whole day put together!
Allah says in the Quran: “Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female: if they are in poverty, Allah will give them means out of His grace: for Allah encompasseth all, and He Knoweth all things.” (Quran 24:32)
Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin prayer on thy people, and be constant therein. We ask thee not to provide sustenance: We provide it for thee. But the (fruit of) the Hereafter is for righteousness”. To illustrate the point of Salah further, just imagine your life without this great act of ibadah. Where would Barakah come from? For those of you who are still wavering in your Salah, please get back on track; this is your lifeline for the final destination in the hereafter, and the daily food for your soul.
18. ASKING ALLAH FOR FORGIVENESS
The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “If anyone continually asks forgiveness from Allah, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.”
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