Life is about the mundane for most of us moms. We wake up early in the morning to a strict schedule of school duty and chores. Many of us juggle between work and household duties, with hardly any support. As a mom, I am constantly looking for windows of opportunities to improve my condition and keep my emotional well-being in check. There are twelve suggestions in this two part series—for my fellow mothers—to break an unyielding routine and infuse some meaning and order into it!
Master a Skill
Human beings are created with different capabilities and means for ingenuity. It is important to realize those capabilities and cultivate them. I personally find solace and empowerment in writing, as I look forward to harnessing my intellectual energy into an orderly piece of work. Writing has proved to be a great outlet for me. Consequently, I advise mothers to tap into their hidden skills and experience a sense of worth by channeling them into purposeful activities. It is important to pursue and practice skills with the correct intention. Whether it is critical reading, public speaking, sewing, managing charitable events, organizing school activities, sharing professional expertise, or advocating for a cause close to her heart, each mother will find tremendous fulfillment in mastering a unique skill with the intention to create beauty around her and benefit others in her community. Involvement of any sort takes up time and requires that we are time
اللَّهُم أجعل أعمالى كلها صالحة ولوجهك الكريم خالصة وتقبلها منى ياربنا بقبول حسن
“Oh Allah! Purify my intentions so that I only seek your pleasure and accept my good deeds.”Oh Allah! Purify my intentions so that I only seek your pleasure and accept my good deeds.
Be Time Conscious
Imam Shafi’i radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) is quoted to have said: “Time is like a sword: if you don’t cut it, it will cut you.” Time management is empowerment. It is of essence, especially in planning the course of the day and snatching those few minutes to discover our potential and to rectify our spiritual states. I find myself constantly multitasking, and I am exhausted towards the end of the day. Every mother needs time to take care of her physical and emotional wellbeing; otherwise, she will be overburdened with life’s stressors and eventually lose focus. Plan everyday for some physical activity and attempt to meet a simple goal for self-improvement. A planner always comes in handy, as well as a checklist of goals. More importantly, supplicating for a blessed day, in which time is not squandered and each minute is invested in what is beneficial, makes a big difference. Personalize your morning supplications to reflect your daily objectives. Pray for yourself, family, friends and community.
اللَّهُم اجْعَلْ أَوَّلَ يَوْمِنا هذَا صَلاحَاً، وَأَوْسَطَهُ فَلاحَاً، وَآخِرَهُ نَجاحَاً
“O Allah, make the start of this day amendment, its middle prosperity and its end success.”
Be Active and Healthy
Exercise is great in controlling anxiety and general fatigue. Whether it is yoga or walking, engage in the type of exercise that will keep you going for the day.
Being vigilant about diet is equally important. There is a lot of literature on nutrition but a good start is to cut down on processed foods and avoid sugar, except for what originates from fresh fruits and vegetables. The elimination of processed food is key to a wonderful boost of energy. Whatever you do, make baby steps and instill changes gradually. Major changes can cause us to lose interest quickly. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ (peace be unto him) said: “By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the believer is like a bee which eats that which is pure and wholesome and lays that which is pure and wholesome. When it lands on something it does not break or ruin it.” (Ahmad)
The bee approaches the flower with gentleness, takes only the precious nectar, and gives pure honey. Similarly, the believer eats wholesome and pure food and takes his portion without conspicuous consumption. Buzz your way through a daily routine of clean eating, ample gentleness towards the environment, and lots of dhikr (remembrance).
اللّهُـمَّ عافِـني في بَدَنـي ، اللّهُـمَّ عافِـني في سَمْـعي ، اللّهُـمَّ عافِـني في بَصَـري ، لا إلهَ إلاّ أَنْـتَ
“O Allah, make me healthy in my body. O Allah, preserve for me my hearing. O Allah, preserve for me my sight. There is none worthy of worship but You.”
Invoke Him through Dhikr (Remembrance)
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “ There is a polish for everything that takes away rust; and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of Allah.” (Bukhari)
It is out of God’s infinite mercy that He attached rewards to utterances, which exalt Him, even if the one remembering Him does not fully internalize their meaning. Ibn Atallah (ra) beautifully captures the importance of being consistent in remembrance regardless of the state of the heart.
“Do not stop mentioning God just because your heart is not present. Forgetting Him completely is worse than being inattentive (ghaflah) while you are mentioning Him; perhaps He will elevate you from being inattentive to being attentive (yaqatha), and from being attentive to being fully present (hudoor) with Him, and from being fully present with Him to being fully absent from anything but Him.”
“And that is for Allah not difficult.” (Qur’an, 35:17)
I keep a rosary in my car, invoke dhikr, and send prayers to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ any time during the day. Whether you keep count or not, do not abstain from remembrance
Have the Correct Perception and Keep a Good Perspective
I find much solace in the Prophet’s ﷺ (peace be upon him) supplication where he seeks that God grants him a true perception of reality: “O Allah, allow us to perceive the true nature of our affairs.”
اللهم أرنا الاشياء كما هي
It is truly a blessing to be able to know the reality of the world, so that we give things around us their proper due, by neither negating the worth of what is important, nor venerating what is worthless. When our perception of the world is aligned with the true understanding of the nature of dunya (this life) then our outlook at life is grounded in a reliance on Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). When we are afflicted with trying times, we are patient and find recourse through worship. When we are at ease, we are thankful and seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) through good deeds. The outward conditions of human beings are constantly changing and the best buffer to protect our hearts and ground our certainty in faith is beneficial knowledge. As mothers, we should seek beneficial knowledge to form and maintain a correct perception of the world and to adopt the correct and best perspective on affairs that affect our families. Beneficial knowledge incorporates both sacred knowledge and knowledge of the physical world. A believer can never divorce those two branches of knowledge from each other.
Seek Beneficial Knowledge
In this age of specialization, we often confine ourselves to one field of study. We fail to read and cultivate our knowledge at every level: be it spiritual or intellectual. Our need to be independent thinkers is weakened. “Read” was the first word revealed to our Prophetﷺ. He was ordered to seek knowledge embedded in both the Qur’an and creation. Creation in itself is like a book which harbors tremendous lessons and which promotes spiritual growth and an unceasing curiosity for learning.
Abu Hurayrah radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleases with him) relates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “For him who embarks on the path of seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the way to paradise.”
Beneficial knowledge is rooted in taqwa. (God consciousness).
“Be conscious of Allah [taqwa] and Allah teaches you. And Allah is knowing of all things.” (Qur’an 2:282)
As mothers, we need the type of knowledge which will support our journey in raising a future generation. Personally, I take on many roles during the day: educator, counselor, advocate, caregiver and more! In other words, I am constantly trying to build my character, by seeking knowledge so that I assume those roles responsibly
READ MORE: Ten Things to Know About the Muslim Prayer
This is by no means an easy task as relationships are problematic by nature. It is important to be patient, exercise judicious behavior and learn to choose battles wisely. Such responsibilities require that moms build character through an understanding of such qualities as giving good counsel, and enjoining good and forbidding evil. Seeking beneficial knowledge in a rapidly changing world, which harbors all kinds of moral “isms” and which also encompasses so much diversity entails that mothers keep up with current issues to their best abilities and make time to create an intimate relationship with the Qur’an.
اللِّهُم انّفَعنِي بِمَا عَلَّمتَنِي وعَلِّمنِيِ مَا يَنفَعنِي
The Prophet ﷺ used to say, “O Allah, benefit me with what You have taught me, and teach me what is beneficial for me, and increase me in knowledge.” (Al -Tirmidhi)
Converse with the Qur’an through the Stories of the Prophets
Set time aside to develop an intimate relationship with the Qur’an. Maintaining a close relationship with the Qur’an through a thorough study of the stories of the prophets has influenced my character in unimaginable ways. The language of the Qur’an is universal and addresses all human beings in their varying constitutions; that by itself is a miracle. Delving into the trials of the prophets and learning how they manifested humility, patience and gratitude empowers the believer to build a strong character, armed with knowledge and certainty. Furthermore, the relationship that the prophets had with their Creator Who chose them for a great mission but also nurtured them and prepared them for such a task sheds light on His infinite mercy. He is Ar-Rab, the Lord who nurtures His servants and continuously guides them through His light.
لَقَدۡ كَانَ فِى قَصَصِہِمۡ عِبۡرَةٌ۬ لِّأُوْلِى ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِۗ مَا كَانَ حَدِيثً۬ا يُفۡتَرَىٰ وَلَـٰڪِن تَصۡدِيقَ ٱلَّذِى بَيۡنَ يَدَيۡهِ وَتَفۡصِيلَ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ وَهُدً۬ى وَرَحۡمَةً۬ لِّقَوۡمٍ۬ يُؤۡمِنُونَ
“There was certainly in their stories a lesson for those of understanding. Never was the Qur’an a narration invented, but a confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of all things and guidance and mercy for a people who believe.” (Qur’an 12:111)
Prophets are exemplars to humankind and their stories are packed with lessons relevant to all times and places. It is our responsibility to approach the Qur’an with the intention to start a personal dialogue with Allah (swt)—through those stories—and to make the relevant connections to our times and life circumstances. More importantly, in those stories, we find all the values necessary to raise a righteous generation.
اللهم اجعل القرآن العظيم ربيع قلوبنا ونور صدورنا وجلاء همومنا
“O Allah, make the Qur’an the sweet spring of our hearts, the light of our breasts and the removal of our woes.”
Know that Faith is Experiential
It takes time to experience the different facets of belief. Each mother experiences faith differently, and her spiritual state will be more or less defined by her own cultural influences, educational background, and personality. The beauty of Islam lies in the fact that each one of us carries in her heart an understanding that God is personal, merciful and has perfect knowledge and full control of all affairs. Consequently, each mother should struggle in the ways that best befit the nature of her trials and always seek beneficial knowledge, which will increase her certainty and empower her own struggle.
I heard a sheikh once say, “Islam is bigger than Muslims,” in the sense that there is a place in it for all people with their diverse cultural practices, temperaments, weaknesses and strengths. We should be aware of this great quality of Islam, respect our own individuality, and find opportunities to learn and grow by sharing insights relevant to our unique human experiences while nurturing a strong sense of community.
اللهم ألف بين قلوبنا ، وأصلح ذات بينـنا ، واهدنا سبل السلام
“O Allah reconcile our hearts with love, resolve our broken affairs and guide us towards peace.”
Visit the Mosque
Salman Al-Farsi reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever performs ablution well in his home and thereafter comes to the mosque, then he is the guest of Allah and it is a duty upon the host to honor his guest.”
As soon as I enter the mosque, I feel that peace and mercy have descended upon me. My host is generous, always ready to embrace me. It is usually a short visit but I am thankful for this feeling of solace and peace. I always leave uplifted as if the burden of the world has been removed from my chest. Whenever things get stressful, retreat for a short visit to the mosque.
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ فِي قَلْبِي نُورًا وَفِي لِسَانِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ فِي سَمْعِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ فِي بَصَرِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ مِنْ خَلْفِي نُورًا وَمِنْ أَمَامِي نُورًا وَاجْعَلْ مِنْ فَوْقِي نُورًا وَمِنْ تَحْتِي نُورًا اللَّهُمَّ أَعْطِنِي نُورًا
“O Allah, place within my heart light and upon my tongue light and within my ears light, and within my eyes light, and place behind me light and in front of me light and above me light and beneath me light. O Allah bestow upon me light.”
Navigate your Way with Love
The basic binding force for any family is love. Tranquility, affection and mercy are the pillars through which marital love evolves. Eventually, this love grows to embrace all members of the family.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.” (Qur’an 30:21)
Despite the struggles and trying nature of relationships, a mother’s role in any form or shape, should always be channeled through the qualities of affection and mercy. Such qualities breed patience and provide a sense of safety and tranquility at home. A safe environment sprung from love breeds a confident young generation with strong moral principles.
وَٱلَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبۡ لَنَا مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّـٰتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ وَٱجۡعَلۡنَا لِلۡمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
“And those who say, ‘Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.’” (Qur’an 25:74)
The constant distractions and disorderly nature of the world can become challenging for mothers. An intelligent plan, which is constantly reassessed, modified and personalized, contributes positively to maintaining a sense of peace and calm. I have shared a few suggestions, which make up my personal plan and support my journey as a parent. Those suggestions are by no means comprehensive or work for everyone. Consequently, it is important for each mother to reflect upon her personal struggles and find the appropriate channels through which she can restore balance to her daily routine. However, to ensure a rewarding plan, I suggest that all mothers approach the world and their families through the lens of love and affection and dive into their maternal journeys with noble intentions and ample supplications.