Mohammed Faris (Abu Productive) is the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com, an online social enterprise dedicated to boosting productivity in the Muslim World.
How did Productive Muslim come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?
When I was at University doing my Masters, I used to have two jobs; I was the President of the Student Islamic society and was quite involved with the community. My friends started asking me: “How do you do it? How do you balance it all?”
Even though my friends said this to me, I felt unsatisfied with how I was managing my time, focus, and energy. I knew I could achieve more and do more; hence, I stumbled upon the science of productivity.
After reading some books on productivity, and seeing the practical positive effects these books had on me, I started thinking how best to share this with my friends.
Then on an early November morning in 2007, I was walking to Fajr and the two words “Productive Muslim” came to my mind. They seemed extremely suited for each other and I was excited to launch a blog under that name.
Initially, what were your aims and objectives? And have they changed over time?
Initially, my goal was to take all the latest productivity techniques and ideas that I was learning from the books and articles I was reading, and share them to the Muslim world.
However, a moment of inspiration came to me when I read the Hadeeth: “The early hours are blessed for my Nation” (Tirmidhi) It made me realize that Islam has a lot to teach us about productivity, but there hasn’t been a platform before that linked between Islam and Productivity.
It was truly an honour from Allah (swt) that we were the pioneers of this linkage and it has truly changed my life forever.
What is your vision for Productive Muslim?
By Allah’s (swt) Permission my vision is to inspire every single Muslim and Muslimah out there to be their best versions. They should aspire to be productive citizens of the world; to be balanced individuals from a spiritual, physical, and social perspective.
I pray that this platform becomes the beginning of the Ummah’s long journey back towards success and prosperity by inspiring every individual to do their very best, every single day.
Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything as you have so many things going on at the same time?
This is from Allah (swt) first and foremost. He has blessed me with a wonderful empowered team to do a lot for His sake, and given us technologies that make working collaboratively very easy.
We use a number of communication and virtual collaboration tools such as Slack, Podio, Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Lastpass, to keep everything manageable.
But most importantly, are the team members who have clear objectives and goals and who are self motivated to do their best for Allah’s (swt) sake and the vision of Productive Muslim.
Your team comprises mainly of volunteers. In this day and age, when people want to be paid for every work they do, how do you motivate your team?
Once again this is from Allah (swt). Truly without His help, I would not be able to find the right team member to do the right task in the team.
Some of the key principles we have in the team include:
- We treat volunteers as professionals. This means we hold them accountable for results and treat them as if they are being paid. There’s no excuse for being an “unproductive” volunteer on our team.
- We have a very strict process to hire volunteers: we carefully select volunteers out of hundreds of applications, and then based on assessment, and after interviewing them, we give them a one month probation to try them out. If they are good, they stay, otherwise we ask them to leave.
- We invest in our volunteers: We ensure that volunteers are learning and developing so that their time with us is fruitful and beneficial. Some of our volunteers left Productive Muslim and started their own companies and websites which is wonderful!
- We meet regularly with the volunteers: When new volunteers join the team, I have a twenty minute conversation with them. Then they have regular meetings with their team heads and we have quarterly meetings abroad.
- Constant feedback: We give constant feedback to our volunteers from the way they work, to the way they behave online and this helps them improve and learn and grow.
The articles on Productive Muslim are Masha’Allah well researched. Can you let us know about your authentication process? As in, who proofreads them for Shariah compliance and to ensure the information is correct?
All the articles written for Productive Muslim go through two rounds of revision- first by the assigned editors and second by our Chief Editor.
Most articles are straightforward and there’s nothing controversial about them. However, if something is controversial or needs Shariah approval, we have access to scholars whom we can contact for advice Alhumdulillah.
What are some of the challenges that you face?
Currently, we’re trying to develop a sustainable business model for ProductiveMuslim that both offers free content as well as paid premium content.
We do not like to be dependent on donations or advertisement; hence, we avoided those two sources.
Insha’Allah, we’re converging on a business model that would satisfy most of our readers soon.
We have often read on your page disparaging comments about your workshops’ charges. In general, people’s attitude is that anything Islamic should also be free. What would be your response to that?
Firstly, there’s a lot of free content on ProductiveMuslim.com and the paid content is for those who are keen to go a bit deeper with our content.
Secondly, we’re not an “Islamic” knowledge website; we’re a productivity training and consulting company that is based on Islamic principles and values.
Thirdly, in order for ProductiveMuslim to grow and flourish, we need to run a sustainable business. My dream is to hire every ProductiveMuslim volunteer as a full time staff member; and this can only be done if our readers support us by purchasing some of our courses and other products and services.
What are your plans/projects for the future?
We’ve lots of exciting projects coming up including the launch of our new book with Awakening, a new ProductiveMuslim podcast, a new subscription service called Academy+, and many others Insha’Allah.
How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?
We ask people to help us in 7 ways:
- Consume our content: articles, videos, worksheets, etc.
- Engage with our content: by liking and commenting
- Make Dua for us every time you read/view our work
- Purchase our products and services.
- Let everyone know in your circle about ProductiveMuslim.com.
Any message for the Ummah
My dear Ummah, Islam is waiting for you to be a productive citizen of this world. Rise up from the swamps of laziness and let’s work together to be a Productive Ummah again.
Anything else you would like to share.
Just wanted to share an advice that was given to me before I started ProductiveMuslim.com Have sincere intentions and work hard. This is the formula for success in Dunya and Akhirah.