Posted on Feb 26, 2018
Ever since I had my son, I've all but said goodbye to those leisurely days where I could worship (or do anything) on my own time. Case in point: It is 10:19 PM and I am only typing this after putting my little one to bed. #momlife
This has forced me to be a little creative in how I manage my time, perform my daily prayers, and 'sneak in' worship – and I know I'm not the only one who can relate! Here are a few tips that have worked for me:
1. Practice Intentionality. Always be conscious of what you're doing, and who you're doing it for. Remind yourself that at the end of the day, everything you're doing should be for the sake of Allah (S). The Prophet (S) said, "Verily actions are by intentions, and for every person is what he intended." (Narrated in Al Bukhari and Muslim). When something is done with purity of intention, Allah (S) will pour barakah into it and reward you immensely for it. Whether you're about to get in the car to go to the gym, travel to visit a friend, or help your mom figure out how to use her new smartphone, renew your intention behind each action so you can earn major hasanat and make these routine, normal deeds tip your scale!
2. Make dua for a loved one. Heard about your friend getting engaged/pregnant/landing an amazing new job? Your cousin got hit by bad news? Make dua for them! See your dream job on LinkedIn? Make dua for yourself, girl! I often self-censor and limit myself so much, thinking fantastic things are so out of reach, but you're praying to the Almighty! The Controller of EVERYTHING! Nothing happens without His decree, and no task/problem/wish is too hard for Him – so go to town on your duas and ASK FOR IT ALL.
3. Pray Qiyam Al-Lail (night prayers). There are certain times that are best for making dua, one of which is just before Fajr. In fact, it was narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh (1145) and by Muslim (1261) that the Prophet (S) said, “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’” This is your magic weapon, guys! USE. IT.
4. Smile!!! You've heard this time and again: smiling is an act of charity (no, really – it is!). This is such a simple act, and it's great for community building and da'wah. As if that's not enough, researchers have repeatedly found that smiling and laughing releases endorphins to your brain and are good for your heart and lungs. #win
5. Keep a prayer rug in your car (or cubby hole or locker or desk). That way, if you're on the road, you can pull over and use it to pray on before continuing on your trip. If you're at work or school, just pull it out and pray in your usual spot. Having a designated rug with you is a great reminder to pray for those times when it slips your mind!
6. Maximize downtime with athkar/tasbeeh (remembrance)! Whether you're driving or performing mundane tasks like doing the dishes or organizing, keep your tongues wet with the remembrance of Allah (S). Reciting the morning and evening athkar are an amazing way to keep you in check and earn loads of hasanat! There are so many apps dedicated to tasbeeh and athkar, as well as youtube videos/CD's that you can play! If you have littles, make it a family habit!
7. Budget accordingly for Fajr. Fajr is by far the toughest prayer for me to get up in time for. My son wakes up at 3 am, and because I am a light sleeper, it actually takes me a long time to fall back asleep. By the time Fajr hits, I'm at the height of my REM cycle. Since I know of these potential obstacles already, I try to go to bed earlier so I am relatively well-rested for a couple hours prior to Fajr time. For some, setting your alarm at the exact time Fajr starts, or even a few minutes early, can give them time to press snooze and still wake up in time. If your alarm gives you a near-heart attack (like me!) set your alarm accordingly.
8. Pray Isha as soon as it comes in. Again, if you want to make Fajr in time, make sure you get enough sleep! And this means praying the night prayer as soon as you can so you can get your much-needed shut-eye.
9. Try to always be in a state of wudu. When your wudu breaks, try to make it again as soon as you can. We're in the bathroom for a variety of reasons during the day, so try to make it a habit to make wudu before you step out of it. Make it a subconscious habit, just like checking the mirror. This will you save you time from having to make a special trip to the restroom just to make wudu before you begin your prayer, not to mention you'll get loads of hasanat for it!
10. Read/listen to Quran. When my son needs distracting, I whip out my phone and play the Qur'an. The same goes for long drives in the car. He gets introduced to listening to new surahs, and I get to listen in as well – it's a win-win. Whether it's the first thing you do when you wake up, or the last thing you do before bed, or take a break during a busy workday, carve out 5 minutes to read Qur'an. Be consistent, even if it's a little bit every day.
Habits are what we do repeatedly, and they either make or break us. None of us wakes up one day as the 'ultimate Muslim;' rather, we become better by setting small, attainable goals, and always striving to push ourselves just a little bit more each day. Try it – you'll be amazed at how far you can go!