When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial article? If your daily reading constitutes JUST your tweets, your Facebook feed, or WhatsApp messages, then you are not working to expand your mind. Our brain is a powerful muscle, and by making reading a daily habit, you’ll be improving its processing ability WHILE helping practice your faith AND giving you the competitive edge over your peers.
Joseph Addison said “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
Allah’s Command to Read
The very first words that Allah revealed to his prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the word read (Iqra). This was not just the first things said, it was the very first “order” from Allah to his prophet Muhammad (SAW) according to the rules of Arabic grammar. To read is a direct command from Allah, not just a suggestion or recommendation.
Why, out of all the things Allah has created and given names to, is it that he chose to start his communication with mankind with this command to read? The answer is that this command is of some magnitude of importance.
This command was also given to a man, who at the time, was literate. So the command of reading is just as important to the literate as it is to the illiterate. It is a universal command to all of us.
Because of this very first revelation- the command to read- Muhammad’s heart was illuminated, which set the stage for a journey to enlightenment out of ignorance for an entire people.
Reading IS just that good for you.
Our brain has the ability to grow (not in size but in functionality) and it can repair itself. To keep your brain ‘sharp’ you need to incorporate high-level reading (again, not tweets or feeds), but really honest to goodness reading to your daily habit to get these benefits:
- Stay mentally sharp.
Staying mentally stimulated can slow the progression (or possibly even prevent) mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
- Reduce your daily stress
It helps reduce the daily stresses of work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues faced in daily life. It all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. An engaging article can not only distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax, it can also teach you valuable knowledge:
- Gain untold knowledge
Knowledge is power. Reading is the key source of increasing knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.
- Improve communication skills
The more you read, the better communicator you become. Being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in any profession, and knowing that you can speak to higher-ups with self-confidence can be an enormous boost to your self-esteem. It will even aid in your career, as those who are well-read, well-spoken, and knowledgeable on a variety of topics tend to get promotions more quickly (and more often) than those with smaller vocabularies and lack of awareness of literature, scientific breakthroughs, and global events.
- Improve focus
Staying focussed is harder than ever these days. With so much distraction in an internet crazed world. staying focused has never been so important. Reading forces you to pay attention to a linear story. While the rest of the world falls away, and you begin to immerse yourself in every fine detail of the story, improving your ability to focus on a single task. Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work, i.e. on your morning commute (if you take public or shared transit), or during breakfast, and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.
- Realise tranquility as part of your day
In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, it’s possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility. Reading spiritual texts can lower blood pressure and bring about an immense sense of calm, while reading self-help books has been shown to help people suffering from certain mood disorders and mild mental illnesses.
Bonus Track: Five books that will change your life.
Below I have given just a few titles that have fundamentally benefitted me the most in my journey of building, organising and managing my successful businesses, and helping others in their life and businesses. I fought the urge to give you the 101 list of books I have read, only because I know that you will feel overwhelmed and then not take any action to read any of the books. So I purposefully limited to just a few.
It’s ok to judge a book by the cover. Pick whichever title interests you the most and start with that. The important point is to start building a habit of reading and allow it to help you throughout your life.