In this counseling answer:
- Center your routine around the worship of Allah. Write a list about your daily tasks, and mark them in order from the first until the least important. The “must-dos” come first. Then place your prayers and worship at the top of the list.
- While you may not directly see the negative consequences of missing your salat and worship, the promise of Allah is in the Quran. So take the rules of Allah as seriously as for example, the norms at school or anywhere else.
- Try a new worhsip habit, maintain consistency and be gradual in it.
Salam alaikom dear sister,
Thank you for reaching out. You say you do not find enough motivation to pray, but at the same time, you feel guilty and would like to read more of the Quran and learn more.
Dear sister, you are not alone in your struggle. Many experience some kind of ups and downs in the quality of worship. There are daily struggles—exams, school, etc.—and sometimes we do not have enough time to worship as we would like to.
Alhamdulillah for reaching out, as this means that you really would like to improve your connection with Allah, and I am sure that you can!
Let me help you with some tips about building habits that will help you be more consistent and motivated.
Intention and Perspective
Start by setting your intention and perspective. I guess you follow a certain routine every day, and it is usually connected to your daily activities—school, lunch, an afternoon activity, etc.
What you can do instead is center your routine around the worship of Allah. It entails intending to do your daily tasks for His sake, to the best of your ability.
For example, you wake up every morning, right? So, instead of waking up for school, wake up for the sake of praying and doing a morning adhkar. When you have lunch, think about how this way you are taking care of the body that Allah gave you, etc.
Set a new perspective in which your first priority is ibadah.
I kindly ask you to write a list about your daily tasks, and mark them in order from the first until the least important. The “must-dos” come first. Then place your prayers and worship at the top of the list. Everything else is to be adjusted accordingly.
If you center your day and your thoughts around Allah, you will see that you can find Him near you all day. And he is there; we just need to be mindful of Him:
„And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer1 to him than [his] jugular vein.” (Quran 50:16)
Know More Allah
You can follow it by trying to know Allah more. How? Through His names and attributes, for example. Try to read about His names and their meanings, and reflect upon His greatness. Check this series, for example.
You may realize that He is the ultimate governor of our lives. All you have—your rizq, your health, the love and care you receive from others, etc.—are all from Him.
Look around and see your blessings. Practically, we can be thankful to Him for everything we see around us! In exchange, we could spend some time remembering him before we enjoy all of these blessings.
I am sure you adhere to some daily routines, and you feel obligated to do them, don’t you?
For example, you brush your teeth every morning, try to arrive at school on time, etc.
Why do we adhere? Because we have learned that not doing them has negative consequences, and we want to avoid “punishment.”
Sister, while we may not directly see the negative consequences of missing our salat and worship, the promise of Allah is in the Quran, so we need to take the rules of Allah as seriously as we take, for example, the norms at school or anywhere else.
Dear sister, I advise you to make the decision to start your day by remembering Allah. You will see that it will work as a shield and will help you to be more mindful of Him during the day.
According to studies, it takes an average of 30 days to build a new habit.
So, I would start with something new, like, for example, an extra dhikr and dua after your morning salat. Try to do it at least during a full month, and in sha Allah, it will become a habit.
You do need to spend an extra 30 minutes on the carpet; just think about an extra 2–3 minutes first.
The most important thing is to maintain consistency. If, for some reason, you miss it in the morning, make the decision to do it after one of the other prayers on that day. And remember your priority!
The Prophet advised us to be gradual in our extra worship. It means that less is more if you adhere to it. Simply set realistic goals and gradually increase your study time.
- Learn 1 verse a day. No more.
- Read one page from the Quran a day.
- Do 5 minutes adhkar a day. Or 1 minute, after each salat.
- 2 voluntary rakats a day.
- 1 lesson a week in the masjid.
- 1 dua a day.
And so on. When you are comfortable with one, you can increase it, for example, to 2 verses a day, or jump to another form of worship; it is up to you.
If for some reason you missed it in your normal schedule, promise yourself to make it up at another moment, on the same day. It will help with decreasing your guilt as well.
You also asked about breaking bad habits. I think if you increase your good habits, it will automatically help you decrease the “bad ones.”
Furthermore, good deeds eliminate bad ones, and you can earn rewards even if you do not do what you intended:
“Allah says: ‘If my slave intends to do an evil deed, do not write it down until he does it. If he does it, then write it as it is. If he does not do it for My Sake, then write it as a good deed for him. If he intends to do a good deed, but does not do it, then write it as a good deed for him (in reward). If he does it, then write it for him ten times up to seven hundred times (in reward).” (Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)
Sister, you may know the prophetic wisdom about the importance of righteous friends. This is especially important if you are living in the West with non-Muslims around.
If your friends and the people around you do not remember Allah and have no habits of worship, it will make you less inclined to set up your priorities.
So, try to look for friends who can motivate you and with whom you can encourage each other.
You can talk about your favorite dhikr, learn a verse together, or just be there for each other.
This way, your daily routine as a Muslim can become something you are proud to follow instead of having to hide it from those who do not understand its significance. There are also online sisters groups if you don’t have anyone nearby.
I am not sure where you are coming from or what your native language is. If you live in a non-Muslim land, my experience is that in English there is much more material available. Is this an option for you?
If yes, alhamdulillah. There are good sites with articles, free books, and even online courses or degrees for affordable prices. For online articles, you can use the translator so you can enjoy the content in a language you better understand.
Here are some sources about the Sahaba from our site: Strong Female Companions, 7 Black Companions of the Prophet (PBUH), Three Young Companions Empowered by the Prophet (PBUH).
And other books: here, here or here.
May Allah help you sister,
More from Orsolya Ilham O.:
- Help Me Navigate This World Obsessed with Beauty
- My Arrogant vs. Merciful Way of Imaan…Please Advise
- I’ve Hurt My Mum; How to Control Anger & Gain Back Her Trust?
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