Saturday, July 21, 2012

Habits to Live by: Reading

One of the most thought provoking memories I took from living in Egypt was during Ramadan. As I took my seat in the women’s train in the metro I noticed that the majority of the ladies were pulling out miniature Qurans and began reading amongst themselves. Everyone from the older women to the little tweens were intensely focused…I sat there unnoticed, staring in awe and realizing how beautiful our religion is.
Reading the Quran for Muslims is by far one of the most important things we should be doing, however this post is more about reading in general.  
Would you consider yourself a “reader?”
If someone asked you if you read, how sure would you be of answering yes or no?  What does it take to be an avid reader anyway? When I was perusing the Internet a few days ago I came upon a statistic that didn’t seem that surprising, but nonetheless disturbing….
In 2007 an Associated Press report discovered, that 1 out of 4 Americans had not read a single book in the past year. I think they found that amongst those that did read, the average books read, would have equaled about 7!
Recently, the Pew Research Foundation conducted a report on E reading and made the following discoveries:
·        More people are “e-reading” then before
·        People that “e read” tend to read more books than those who use paper books
·        People that are of higher incomes or higher education tend to read more
·        Parents read more than non parents in some cases…
·        Blacks more likely to read for work or educational purposes daily than whites
·        Men read more than women daily for current events, work or school related
But here is the most stand out finding. Page 19 of their report on reading habits over time has shown that Americans are reading a lot less than they did in the 70s.  In 1978, 8% read NO BOOKs the previous year, whereas 19% of Americans in 2011 read NO BOOKS in the previous year. How many Americans read between 1 and 5 books in 2011?
32 %
How many Americans read more than 50 books in the past year?
I wonder if they polled American Muslims, how we would fare. We have to assume however, in most cases American Muslims reflect the habits of Americans in many ways. For example, last time I checked, American Muslims had the highest divorce rate amongst Muslims overall. I am sure this has something to do with our nation-wide divorce rate of 50%.
But forget the macro stuff, what about you?
If you don’t already know the benefits of reading, here are some commonly known facts:
·        Reading increases intelligence
·        Reading improves memory
·        Reading reduces stress
·        Reading reduces boredom
·        Reading helps to improve problem solving skills
·        Reading improves critical thinking
·        Reading helps add to your breadth of knowledge, helps with creativity, self motivation, language retention, and inspiration
·        If you actually like what you read, then you probably have a bit of fun
I once remember hearing that people who seek higher education tend to live longer. I do believe this has to do with reading habits, as some of you may know when you go to uni, they have you reading a crap load of material, especially for master and doctorate degrees. But here is the catch, you don't have to hold a degree to achieve that amount of knowledge!
Committing to reading is incumbent on Muslims (seeking knowledge, reflecting) so this Ramadan, I figure, in between my abstaining from TV and time wasting, I will throw in a book or two.
If any of you took a look-see at my BUCKIT LIST, inspired by this book, you might have come across a goal I set for myself to read 50 books a year. I originally set this goal last year as a personal challenge to myself, however, now that I come back to it, I realize I chose this arbitrary number for no reason.
If there is any reason I want to start reading more, it is to build an expertise in the subjects that interest me. Also, I want to feel better how I spend my days. Sometimes it’s easy for us to feel the need to wind down. Habitually many of us grew up with a TV as a background in our households. And yes, while I do find horrible reality TV entertaining and I am ardently building a love affair with Chef Ramsey from his show Kitchen Nightmares, I know I am not really gaining anything emotionally or mentally by the time I go to sleep. Allah swt is gifting us every day we wake up anew. He is giving us a chance to correct our mistakes; he is giving us a chance to make ourselves and our day (should we live to see it through) more beneficial. Ramadan is not just about fasting, it’s about self-introspection. It’s about transformation.
According to Brian Tracy (a motivational speaker, self-help coach, and business expert) you can attain expertise in something if you read 100 books in that subject. I still intend to open my business once I move, I still intend to do great things….I intend…I intend….
By the way, forget 50 books a year, let’s make it 200. Yes, I am counting spiritual treatises and short e-reads haha! Many Islamic spirituality books are short and to the point by the way.
I added a few free e-reads upstairs if you’d like to take a gander.
Brother IKram Kurdi has written two beautiful short pieces available online free: Extraordinary Muslims and Selfless Giving: The Most Effective Form of Islamic Dawah.

What are your thoughts? How often do you read? Are there any changes you'd like to add to how you spend your time, any reading goals?


  1. Asalamu alaikum. Happy Ramadhan cum, why fast?

    1. Wa alaykum salaam! thanks for visiting. Not sure if I quite understoond your question :)

  2. I read everything, I love doing it and passing it on to the kids. We are building our Islamic library and a multicultural library right now, so I am excited about that. I agree with your list of benefits- I would also add that it's kind of contagious in my house. I call it the 'reading yawn' - when one person does it, others pick up the habit right away- which is great when raising kids.

    Salam sis and Ramadan Kareem!

    1. Sis you are doing great things rasing your beautiful children. You are definetly an inspiration in terms of reading and instilling that in them. I wish you all the best of success for your family :)

  3. I love to read a lot! But the numbers doesnt suprise my! A lot dont like reading haha. Ramadan mubarak dear.


    1. Chahrazad thans for reading sis! Me too! ALthough I was surprised, I never imagined how little people read till I saw the report subhanallah. Blessings!

  4. Salaam! I have to admit I do not read at all unless it is school-related, but this inspired me to read more.
    Glad I found your blog!


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