Pareto or the Prophet’s Principle? Making the Most Out of Our Ramadhan

by Abu Aaliyah

Pareto’s principle, also known as the rule of 80/20, states that 80 percent of our consequences come from 20 percent of our causes.1 That is, a good portion of our consequences comes from a small chunk of all the effort we put in. This principle is often-quoted by entrepreneurs and top performers. And we now find many successful Muslim leaders and entrepreneurs are applying this principle in their lives.

However, consider this narration recorded in Sahih Muslim and compare it to the essence of the Pareto Principle:

Juwairiyah bint Al-Harith (May Allah be pleased with her) reported, the Mother of the Believers: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) came out from my apartment in the morning as I was busy in performing the dawn prayer. He came back in the forenoon and found me sitting there. The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Are you still in the same position as I left you.” I replied in the affirmative. Thereupon the Prophet said, “I recited four words three times after I had left you. If these are to be weighed against all you have recited since morning, these will be heavier. These are: Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, `adada khalqihi, wa rida nafsihi, wa zinatah `arshihi, wa midada kalimatihi (Allah is free from imperfection and I begin with His praise, as many times as the number of His creatures, in accordance with His Good Pleasure, equal to the weight of His Throne and equal to the ink that may be used in recording the words (for His Praise)].” 3

As evident from this narration, the four words recited three times by the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him yielded a greater reward than the time his wife (may Allah be pleased with her) spent from morning to forenoon in worship. This is not to undermine her worship (may Allah be pleased with her). However, the point here is about ROI – Return on Investment. This is keeping in mind that it’s not our deeds that will get us into heaven or save us from hell. It is the Infinite Mercy of our Lord, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, Al-‘Afuww.

When we speak about high yield or return on investment in the context of Islam, we are talking about what deeds we can perform in a sincere manner that give us the most rewards. For instance, many Muslims this Ramadhan 2017 will be focusing on Taraweeh. This will occur at the expense of praying Fajr or Isha in Jama’at. However, the act of praying Fajr (2 rakahs) or Isha (4 rakahs) in Jama’at  supercedes praying tarawih (8 or 20 rakahs) in Jamaah. Once again, this is not to undermine the importance of tarawih. But if we as Muslims want to work smarter towards our akhirah, then our focus should be on gaining the highest ROI possible. Our focus should be on those tasks that are light yet heavy on our scales of good deeds.

With this in mind and in the context of the approaching Ramadhan, let me share with you six acts of worship that when you focus on will yield great rewards insha’Allah.

1. Focus on Compulsory over Sunnah:

There’s an overwhelming focus on tarawih in Ramadhan to the point that people will miss Fajr and Isha Salah in Jamaat but attend tarawih. Remember that tarawih is Sunnah. But praying the obligatory prayers in Jamaa’ is compulsory and has more reward than tarawih. Focus on the compulsory. Start with one prayer if you are not going to the masjid regularly now.

2. The Best Dhikr is the Qur’an.

The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that “Alif, Laam, Meem” is a letter, rather I am saying that “Alif” is a letter, “laam” is a letter and “meem” is a letter.” In another hadeeth, ‘Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, relates that the Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” 2 3

 3. Seek Forgiveness:

Allah mentions in Surah Nuh that the Prophet Nuh instructed his people to seek Allah’s forgiveness. And if they would just say “astagfirullah,” Allah would sent them rain in abundance, and increase their wealth and children, and give them gardens and rivers in Paradise. Once again, something that’s easy on the tongue, but when said repeatedly and sincerely, yields immense blessings.

One of the supplications that was recited by our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) frequently in the last 10 days of Ramadhan is:

Allahumma innaka `Afuwwun TuHibbul `Afwa Fa`fu `Annii. (‘O Allah, you are the Forgiver, You love to forgive, so forgive me.’) 4

4. Reciting SubhanAllah or SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi – I praise Allah (or All praise if to Allah) above all attributes that do not suit His Majesty.

An Imam from my local masjid once said, “Jannah is being decorated everyday”. What he meant was that every time a Muslim says SubhanAllah, a tree will be planted for them in Paradise. Once again, think about the return you get on investment by Allah’s Mercy.

5. Reciting Ayatul-Kursi 

Those who read this after each Salah shall enter Paradise. It was narrated that Abu Umaamah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever recites Aayat al-Kursiy immediately after each prescribed prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entering Paradise except death.” 3

6. Add Something Now that Adds Up Later

I knew a brother who had memorized a large list of supplication to say in his prayers. When I asked him about this, he reported using each Ramadhan to memorize at least one to two supplications and then continuing to recite them after Ramadhan. He implemented this approach each Ramadhan till he got to his list of long duas. Don’t approach Ramadhan with the intention of mastering everything. Be realistic. Take the small step of adding something in your list of good deeds that will stay with you even after Ramadhan.


“What is 80/20 rule?”. 80/20 Rule of Presenting Ideas. Archived from the original on January 28, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2015.

2 Sahih Muslim

3 Sahih Bukhari

4 Musnad Ahmad

What are you choosing to focus on this Ramadhan?



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s