O you who believe, reverence Allah and let everyone look to what he has sent forth for tomorrow. Again, reverence Allah and verily Allah is aware of all that you do.
Nowadays when I read this verse I think about the Hawthorne Effect. The Muslims over at Productivemuslim.com wrote an excellent piece on this subject. The Hawthorne effect is a form of reactivity whereby subjects improve or modify an aspect of their behavior being experimentally measured simply in response to the fact that they are being studied, not in response to any particular experimental manipulation. The term gets its name from a factory called the Hawthorne Works, where a series of experiments on factory workers were carried out between 1924 and 1932. There were several different types of studies done on these workers. In one of the studies, experimenters chose two women as test subjects and asked them to choose four other workers to join the test group. Together the women worked in a separate room over the course of five years (1927-1932) assembling telephone relays. What they found in the study was that ultimately the subjects became more productive because they knew they were being watched. If one observes the workplace today, employees are more productive when the boss is watching.
What if we imagined ourselves seeing Allah in all of our actions? What if Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was sitting right beside us? What if he rode in the car with us to work, ate at the dinner table with us at home or went to class with us at the university? If this was the reality we would all be extremely productive people. The Quran states; “Again, reverence Allah and verily Allah is aware of all that you do.” Allah is the All-Seeing and the All-Knowing. Let us stop making a million exuses for not being productive. There are so many stories about extrememly productive people, both Muslim and Non-muslim that we could draw inspiration from. I maintain that unproductive people do not live life with clarity and purpose. There are some people that deserve a pass (such as people with medical conditions that inhibit productivity). But for the most part lazy and idle people have no clarity or purpose. They do not have a since of urgency about their life.
Our Prophet (SAW) spent 8 months in the cave of Hira trying to discover his purpose and gain clarity. Many people today will not even spend one hour in khalwa! Living life without clarity and purpose is like getting in a car and driving with no destination. If someone got in their car and just started driving for hours on end, we would call this person crazy right? Then dear Muslims, why do we journey through life with no destinations/goals?
I admire super productive people, especially Muslims. I know you have seen Muslims who have went to the top of their careers AND to the top of their deen. These are the best Muslims. Those who are extremely successful in deen and dunya. I know Shaykhs who are also CEOs. I know sisters who are college professors and can still hold it down on the home front. May Allah make us like or better than these people. May he protect our deen and our affairs in this life.