By: Usman Siddiqui
Many Muslims – myself included — often forget about the spirit of Islam in matters of law and worship. For instance, do we not recite 114 times in the Qur’an, “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful” – should this not, then, be the spirit with which all our actions and deeds are performed? Is our worship for anything other than to get closer to Allahsubhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) – should this not, then, be the focus with which we perform every prayer? Is the essence of fasting not sacrifice for the sake of Allah (swt) – should we not, then, abandon extravagance when it comes to Ramadan?
This is the fifth of a series of seven articles on ‘Productive Thinking’. The series aims to address the challenges that Muslims face on many different levels when it comes to productivity. These levels include: the mental, emotional and physical levels. This series will tackle thinking and mindset on the mental level; negative emotions like anxiety, stress, low self-esteem, fear, etc., on the emotional level; and habits on the physical level. (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4)
Are You Being Effective?
This article will discuss the four levels of behaviour or activities that can be used to measure our effectiveness. To be successful in this world and the next, we have to be ‘doing the right things’ — effectiveness — before ‘doing things right’ — efficiency. You can say you have been busy, but have you been busy just for the sake of being busy; or have you been busy being productive and effective? By being aware of these four levels, you can easily gauge the level of your effectiveness and productivity, In sha Allah.
The Four Levels of Behaviour: Pain, Pleasure, Benefit and Harm
We live in a world of dichotomy and opposites. It is only through opposites that we know the true nature of things. As human beings, we are driven by pain and pleasure. We no doubt like to do things that are pleasing, easy, as well as make us feel good, regardless of their actual benefit. However, as Allah (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:
“And have [we not] shown him the two ways? But he has not broken through the difficult pass. And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass?”
[Qur’an: Chapter 90, Verses 10-12].
A tafsir (exegesis) of the above verses indicates that the easy way is easy at the start, but will be hard later on and there will be consequences. The hard way is hard initially, but the ultimate ending will be good and easy. The hard way involves working for what is beneficial in this world and the next, and continuing to strive for goals and ambitions that may not always feel good or easy.
One of my favorite quotes by a teacher of mine is: “You will have a hard life if you live it the easy way. You will have an easy life if you live it the hard way.”
The Four Levels of Behaviour in Depth
The four levels can be illustrated by means of the following diagram:
The Four Levels of Behaviour Diagram