Addiction to Busyness: Is It Good For Us?

05 October, 2020
Q Good morning and salaam. I recently came across this website called productivemuslim.com and I think it's amazing! I try really hard to make the most of my time. But I feel like there is also another side where people can become obsessed with productivity and busyness. I see a lot of people who seem to enjoy being busy just for the sake of busyness. What does Islam really teach about balancing busyness and rest?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Allah says, “Oh child of Adam! Free yourself up for my worship and I will fill your chest with wealth and I will protect you from poverty. And if you do not do so, I will fill your hands entirely with busyness, but I will not protect you from poverty.” (Imam Ahmed & Ibn Majah)
  • This hadith lays out clearly the dangers of too much busyness.
  • Busyness leads to exhaustion and spiritual death without a source of replenishing.

 ………….

Wa alaykum salaam, José

Thank you for contacting Ask About Islam and for your excellent question.

Yes, I would have to agree that there are many people who seem to waste their time, and I am one of them, to be sure!

There is a phrase my grandmother used to always say, and maybe it comes from the Bible, but I’m not sure.

It is: Idle hands are the devil’s play.

The meaning behind this is: when we are too idle, too lazy, Shaytan likes to busy our hands and bodies with bad things.

Addiction to Busyness: Is It Good For Us?

However, as you have said, it seems like the opposite extreme is prevalent today.

It seems people are constantly running from this task to that with no breaks between. There is an addiction to busyness, and it is often seen as a good thing.

The truth of the matter is that there needs to be a balance, as in most things in life.

Idleness leads to ruin and mental anguish, just as busyness leads to exhaustion and spiritual death without a source of replenishing.

Free Yourself From Busyness For Allah’s Worship

In a hadith Qudsi (a hadith wherein Prophet Muhammad relays the words of God), Prophet Muhammad said,

‘Allah says, “Oh child of Adam! Free yourself up for my worship and I will fill your chest with wealth and I will protect you from poverty. And if you do not do so, I will fill your hands entirely with busyness, but I will not protect you from poverty.” (Imam Ahmed & Ibn Majah)

This hadith lays out clearly the dangers of too much busyness: a heart too preoccupied to worship Allah and a life obsessed with fear of poverty.

So how can we avoid these things without swinging to the other extreme?

Mindfulness In All Things

To begin with, we must always be mindful of our surroundings and of our hearts.

What does this look like in everyday life? It means putting down our phones, closing our laptops, and even setting aside our books for set periods each day.

How many of us take time out each day to sit alone with our thoughts and meditate on the wonders of Allah? There is no denying it: mindful meditation changes our minds, and for the better.

Mindfulness is not a religious practice, but all the great prophets practiced it. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was meditating in the cave of Hira’ when he received the revelation, for example.

You want a sunnah to enact? How about that one?

Connect With Allah Before You Connect Online

The fact is that we adults stare at our various mobile devices for an average of 5 hours a day. 19% of that time is spent on Facebook.

That means that the average adult spends roughly an hour a day on Facebook alone.

That is just the average. I, for one, have spent far more than an hour on Facebook in my normal day.

How many of us complain that we don’t have time to read the Quran? We don’t have time to sit with ourselves and remember Allah?

Before we reach for a piece of technology in hopes that it will bring us nearer to others, we must decide that being near to God is more important than anything else. We must not devote more time and energy to connection with others than we do to connection with our Creator.

The Myth of Multitasking

I love that you mentioned productivemuslim.com in your question. That is one of my favorite websites, bar none, for making Islam more practical. They take the lofty ideas of religion and make them easy to implement in everyday life.

One fact is clear, even when reading their articles: being productive requires using our minds to their full potentials and giving our bodies their rights.

One of the biggest lies of today is that multitasking is the way to ensure everything gets done.

Yes, it is the way to ensure everything gets done… poorly.

Multitasking is just not a productive way to work, and science has proven again and again that the best results come from serial monotasking, or focusing on one project or job for a set period of time or for a certain task, then moving on to the next.

In this way, all our responsibilities receive their due focus.

Your Body Has Rights On You

As mentioned before, we must not forget that our bodies were designed for work and rest, sleep and action.

If you want to live a productive life without destroying your body—and ultimately having a real reason to fear poverty when you get so sick you cannot work—you must be sure you sleep and rest when your body needs it.

There is a famous hadith wherein Prophet Muhammad forbade people from fasting every single day because their bodies and their wives also had rights on them:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: “(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?” The companion replied that the report was indeed true. The Prophet then said: “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadith 127)

Chronobiology is the up-and-coming study of the way in which our sleep cycles affect our health and well-being.

The basic idea here is: your body needs sleep to rebuild and repair the damage that everyday life wreaks on our bodies and minds. Sleep removes the toxic waste that builds up in our brains.

Furthermore, we must glean from this hadith that our spouses have rights on us to please them sexually. Also, our family has a right on us to spend time with them in fun and leisure.

Moreover, we must ensure we are taking time to sit in nature and getting plenty of sunshine and fresh air, as our bodies require these to function at their full potential.

Moderation is Key In Islam

At the end of the day, Islam is a practical religion. None of us has the leisure to sit around doing nothing all day, every day, and we must also not imagine that being productive at every moment of every day is something to aim for.

In conclusion, I leave you with this hadith:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately… Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 470)

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Night Prayer and Human Body Clock

Islam Is Easy – Don’t Make It Difficult

Finding My Balance

How to Strike a Balance Between Faith, Work and Family

Managing Time for a Better Work-Life Balance

About Kaighla Um Dayo
Kaighla Um Dayo is one of the authors of "The New Muslim's Field Guide", expected to be published in Feb. 2018. She is also a former Ask About Islam editor. She is also a regular contributor at islamwich.com, where she ruminates on life as a Muslim American. Her favorite things are meditation, painting, drinking tea, and being outside in nature.