Part I | Part II
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 conscious.
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.
Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I met Ibrahim on my Night Journey. He said, ‘O Muhammad, convey the greeting from me to your community and tell them that the Garden has good soil and sweet water. It is vast and its plants say, ‘Glory be to Allah. Praise be to Allah. There is no god but Allah. Allah is greater.’” (al-Tirmidhi) It is vast and its plants say, “Glory be to Allah. Praise be to Allah. There is no god but Allah. Allah is greater.” [al-Tirmidhi] nd tell them that the Garden has good soil and sweet water. It is vast and its plants say, “Glory be to Allah. Praise be to Allah. There is no god but Allah. Allah is greater.” [al-Tirmidhi]
سبحان الله، والحمد لله، ولا إله إلا الله، والله أكبر
- Practice Conscious Contemplation
The Qur’an continuously reinforces the harmony that exists between man and nature. As Muslims, we are encouraged to seek the beauty in creation and ponder upon its signs.
“Have they not looked at the heaven above them – how We structured it and adorned it and [how] it has no rifts?” (Qur’an, 50:6)
“So observe the effects of the mercy of Allah – how He gives life to the earth after its lifelessness. Indeed, that [same one] will give life to the dead, and He is over all things competent.” (Qur’an 30:50)
With our fast-paced lives and continuous visual and auditory distractions, contemplation is a conscious effort, undertaken with the intention to unravel the meanings embedded in the universe. Some of us are exposed to beautiful geography while others seek beauty in natural occurrences. I have incorporated contemplation as part of a playground trip where I observe the beautiful hues of colors that decorate the sky at sunset and direct my child’s attention to the changes in the horizon. The cumulative learning experience is tremendous.
Contemplating creation provides great insight into the rhythmic patterns of nature, heightens the use of our five senses, elevates our level of consciousness and spiritual cognizance. It is an exercise, which drives the hearts to repentance and remembrance as God’s mercy unveils to those who ponder upon His signs.
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an, 3:191-192)
رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقۡتَ هَـٰذَا بَـٰطِلاً۬ سُبۡحَـٰنَكَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
- Be Grateful
I often have to adjust my perspective and remind myself to be grateful, especially when things get stressful. The disposition of the believer is that of gratitude. The benefits are abundance in provision, patience and optimism. This characteristic is important, because it continues to be eroded in a modern world, which is afflicted with consumerism and instant self-gratification.
AlhamdulilLah (praise be to God) embodies the meanings of hamd (praise) and shukr (thankfulness) to the Lord of the animate and inanimate worlds. It leads to gratitude, which transpires through an acknowledgment that He is the only source of all blessing, through a conscious effort not to squander those blessings and an optimism, manifested in an active involvement to mend, improve and engage in good deeds. A strategy that works is to look at those less fortunate and occupy ourselves with charity work. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those, who have been given less.” (Muslim)
Jotting down our blessings can be a great daily exercise, which awakens feelings of gratitude. There is nothing more precious for children than to be surrounded by a content mother who verbalizes and practices gratitude.
اللهمَّ لك الحمد حتى ترضى، ولك الحمد إذا رضيت، ولك الحمد بعد الرضا
“O God, all praise is due to You alone until You are pleased.
And all praise is due to You alone when You are pleased.
And all praise is due to You alone after You are pleased.”