Posted on Jan 09, 2020
Editorial note: This month we are running a series focusing on foundations – how we can build solid foundations across all areas of our life to help ground us so that we can embrace all that our deen (religion) and dunya (the world) have to offer us. We will be covering foundations of marriage, faith, your morning routine, relationships, mental health/self care, technology, hijab and other areas. Each focus could really be a book, but we will try and break it down into the most useful, attainable and basic things we can do to build critical foundations in our lives.
By Danah Shuli
I am a firm believer that the way you start off your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. In recent years, especially since becoming a mom, my morning routine has become an integral part of my day. It’s something I look forward to as a time for me to recharge and be alone with my thoughts before the kids wake up and we start a new day.
Morning routines can entail many things – how you wake up, your wash routine, what products you use, what you like to eat (and maybe read or watch as you start your day). But I want to focus on incorporating foundational faith/spiritual practices to help ground you before you start your day before we get into some of the other building blocks of a good morning routine.
These are the essential spiritual components of my daily morning routine – the things that help me personally start my day off on the right foot. They help me stay focused on the tasks I want to get done and prepare me mentally for the day ahead. Granted, some days are better than others in terms of sticking to my morning routine.
With a toddler and an infant, sometimes we get up on the wrong side of the bed. But even when my mornings don’t start off the way I’d like them to, I always make sure to at least get some aspects of my routine down, even if that means doing it between preparing breakfast or while putting my baby to sleep for his first nap.
Image source: Shutterstock and Pinterest
Staying up After Fajr and Reading Two Pages of the Quran
This is much easier said than done, but trust me on this one. If you do this at least once, you’ll never go back to sleeping after Fajr again. (And, if you’re struggling to get up for Fajr period, make that your first priority in your morning routine and then add Quran reading.) There is something special about the time after Fajr prayer and sunrise that puts an extra sprinkle of barakah (blessing) in my day. The rest of the house is asleep, it’s peaceful outside, the birds are chirping once the sun rises. It’s just a magical time and perfect for reflection and worship.
I especially like to take advantage of this in the winter months when Fajr is not as early as it can be in the summertime. Post-Fajr time is perfect for me to recite my daily ward ( a small but consistent number of pages read from the Quran each day) without any distractions. I can take advantage of my kids being (usually) fast asleep. If your kids are older, maybe you can encourage them to join you in this habit. No kids in your life? Then this time is all your own, and it can be so very beautiful.
The Messenger of Allah said: Whoever prays the morning prayer in congregation then sits remembering Allah until the sun rises, then prays two units of prayer has the reward like that of Hajj and `Umrah. [Tirmidhi]
This is not to say that sometimes, more often than I’d like these days, I find myself falling back asleep after Fajr. Those are usually the days when I’ve stayed up late the night before or have had a rough night with the kids. In which case, I try my best to still read my two pages throughout the day whenever I can get some quiet time.
Listening to the Morning Athkar (Supplications)
This is a special part of my day, not only for the religious purpose is serves, but it is something that my mom has always done and continues to do. It reminds me of my childhood when she would play a CD of the morning athkar for us on our drive to school. Even now as an adult, I know I’m at my mom’s house when I wake up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the calming recitation of the morning athkar.
Although we are thousands of miles apart, doing this simple act helps me start my morning by remembering my sweet mama and adding barakah to my day. It is a habit I hope to pass down to my own children, Insha’Allah.
Even if I miss this time between Fajr and sunrise for reciting these athkar, I still make it a point to recite or listen to the athkar as soon as I get the chance. Luckily, I recently learned that the time for morning athkar extends beyond sunrise until forenoon (Al-Duha), which is right before Duhur prayer. This gives me plenty of time and no excuses!
“O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify His Praises morning and evening.” [33:41,42]
This video of the morning athkar includes the English translation and transliteration.
Enjoying a Nice Cup of Tea (or Coffee)
For those who know me well, they know that my morning tea and dessert of choice, usually some type of tea biscuit or loaf cake, is an important part of my day. Yes, I eat cake for breakfast, and I like to savor every bit of it! I usually enjoy this while listening to the morning athkar after I’ve prayed Fajr and already read my ward. It is a time of total serenity in the house, and I am able to indulge, reflect, enjoy a warm soothing drink and dessert without having to share.
Image source: Pexel
We all know that once the kids wake up or if you move on to other parts of your morning routine, that cup of tea or coffee is going to be an iced drink before you even get to take a sip. And, you can forget about that tea biscuit. Who else can relate?! Don’t underestimate how eating/drinking something at this part of your day in a more relaxed fashion (if possible) can help ground you for whatever there is to come! It may seem simple, but starting your day off with some self-care by way of sitting for some breakfast will help you feel better about conquering the day ahead. After all, taking care of yourself is the best way to take care of those around you.
Writing a To-Do List for the Day
If you’re a type A personality like myself, this one will click with you. Checking things off my list is satisfying for me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, and I am able to keep track of what it is I want to get done in order to help me stay focused, organized and keep me from getting overwhelmed. I also like to update my calendar during this time in order to keep track of what my month is looking like.
There are so many different ways this can be done, and it all depends on personal preference and what works best for you. Whether physical or electronic, writing a to-do list and updating a calendar or bullet journal are great ways for you to keep track of important deadlines and dates. Something I like to do in my calendar each month is fill out the “notes” section with daily reminders and bits of advice that I would like to remind myself of every time I look at my calendar. Think little words of encouragement, your favorite ayah’s or quotes. These are simple ways that keep me motivated throughout the month, especially on days when I am not feeling my best.
Another great thing to add to your to-do list, or “daily reminders” section of your calendar is an area of your deen that you’d like to improve on. Maybe waking up for Fajr isn’t your strength. Having it constantly at the top of your to do list or always visible in your calendar can help you subconsciously think about it on a daily basis. This will hopefully translate into making a better effort to pray Fajr on time each day.
This foundational morning routine is not always executed as picture perfect as it sounds. However, for the most part, I try my best to consistently do at least the first two steps of my routine in order to fill my day with barakah and the remembrance of Allah (S).
Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace. (13:28)