Keeping connected to Allah through ibaadah and taking the opportunity for doing good in His path, especially in this busy time with our little lovelies, has been (and continues to be) a journey and a struggle for me.
Dhikr: An Ibaadah That We Can Consistently Do in Motherhood
One act of worship that has worked for me is dhikr. Especially these two statements of dhikr: “subhanAllahi wa bihamdi; subhan’Allahil adheem’. I love these because the Prophet SAW said “Two words are beloved to the Most Merciful. They are light on the tongue but heavy on the scale: Glory and praise to Allah, and glory to Allah the Almighty.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
I think dhikr, in general, is perhaps the most consistenly doable act of worship for busy Mums (at least, that has been the case for me). We do not need wudu. It does not require time out from us. We do not need to face any direction and we can do it out and about with the children and when we are doing chores. It benefits me more when I mentally pause to say it though, rather than somewhat absentmindedly. So that it is, insha’Allh, truly is a moment of remembrance. Here is a hadith regarding the virtures of dhikr:
The Prophet SAW said: ‘I met Prophet Ibrahim (AS) when I was taken on Mi’raj (ascension to the heavens) and he told me: ” O Muhammad, convey my salaam to your ummah and tell them that Jannah has good soil and sweet water, but it is barren. The plantation of Jannah is (the recital of) Subhanallah, Alhamdulillah, La ilaha illallah and Allahu Akbar.”’ (Sunan Tirmidhi)
Embedding Dhikr Into Our Days
There are so many situational and emotion approprtiate du’as from the sunnah. So we could really embed dhikr into our days. What could this look like? Like this: about to begin something? Bismillah. Completed? Alhamdulillah. Just woke up? Sunnah du’a for waking up. Breakfast time? Some morning adhkaar. Hard time? Allahumma laa sahla illaa maa ja’altahu sahlaa… Milk spilled for the 3th time? Qadr’Allah wa maa shaa’a fa’ala. Run into a Muslimah? Greetings of salaam (and smiles!). Going into some shops? Recite the du’a for entering the marketplace. Something happened that you’re not too keen on? Alhamdulillah alaa kulli haal (alhamdullilah in every situation). Happy about something? Sajdatul shukr (prostration of thankfulness). These can be little gentle mindset shift reminders, too; Qadr Allah wa maa shaa’a fa’ala (It is the decree of Allah and He does what He Wills) and alhamdulillah ‘alaa kuli haal are full of acceptance of Allah’s decree and can really remind us to submit to Allah’s decree. And acceptance increases our chances of moving onto problem solving possibilities and even seeing the good in what we initially didn’t like.
Saying these out loud helps as it serves as modelling for our kids insha’Allah (they can learn the sunnah adhkaar in this way). We can memorise and say the du’as that the Prophet SAW used to say in every situation: leaving the house, entering the house, entering the marketplace, etc.
‘O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance’ (33:41).
Going Beyond Our Obligations and Personal Struggles
I have at times struggled to figure out how to go beyond my obligations, with motherhood. Beyond my fard in a consistent way.
Firstly, if we do want to do more ‘direct’ ibaadah, what can we do? We may try: praying salaatul dhuha in the morning, if we’re at home, and the kids are busy; morning adhkaar or even just one or two on a consistent basis; Qu’ran recitiation in the morning or when the children are engaged in play; Ayatul Kursi every single night. Du’a at certain times consistently (when it rains or during sa’atul istijaabah every week); nafl fasts when we can; qiyaam ul layl at a regalar interval that works for us (perhaps weekly).
So even if we start and stop due to changing circumstances or by way of taking on too much etc, we may find something small that does consistently work (like saying our sunnah adhkaar after our prayers or ayatul kursi after our prayers) and endeavour to start imperfectly with that.
We have different contexts as well; new mothers, mothers with many children, single mothers, mothers with babies waking up through the night, mothers with very little help, mothers with more help, etc. So our contexts are going to have an impact on what we can and can’t do within certain seasons.
Also, when we are figuring out something new, it may not just become habitual after the first time. It can take trial and error. But I think that all ‘error’ in terms of falling short or not being able to keep up, in the path of goodness, particularly when trying to come closer to Allah is never wasted. You tried and you wanted nearness: both beautiful. Even more so, this stumbling can be useful when it informs our future decisions better by way of troubleshooting and strategising (wAllahu a’lam). Dhuha salah isn’t an option anymore because the morning period is the only period you can cook a lot and the toddler doesn’t nap in the morning any more so the kids need you, etc? Maybe a few of the morning adhkaar as a substitute…
Creating Ibaadah Habits: Self-Kindness
Don’t be afraid to experiment with what works or what doesn’t, or what will work for this season and what won’t. I had a heaviness around acts of worship (nawaafil ones) at times. I would want to get closer to Allah, to connect to Him and worship Him, like I think many of us do. But if and when I failed to keep the nafl act of worship consistent, I’d feel disappointed and disheartened. Or if I wasn’t happy with the quality of the act, I’d feel despondent (instead of thinking ‘alhamdulillah, I’m doing it…now what can we do to improve it?’)
With time, I began to relate much more kindly to myself if I didn’t continue on with it or if it didn’t feel like it was up to par, quality-wise. I would want to keep going but didn’t know how. But what actually helped was speaking to myself kindly and taking my new context into consideration when planning recitation goals, for example; what can I do on a regular basis, with my circumstances in mind? Strategising. For me, it begun with being small and consistent in my relationship with the Qur’an. Also, to remember that ‘failing’, on days or periods I fell short or didn’t do well according to what I wanted to do was part of the process and that, it wouldn’t be wasted, as long as it informed my future decisions. Like, okay, I’m not doing well with reading the Qur’an now? Is it the length of the portion I’m choosing? Can I lower my portion? Yes. Okay, that works, now let’s roll with that plan, insha’Allah. And then build upon that. Any obstacles and let’s brainstorm and troubleshoot and then roll with the new plan. No ‘something’s wrong with you ‘ voice.
Motherhood and Intentions
The Messenger of Allah SAW said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. No doubt, every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Thus, taking care of our children is fulfilling our duty to Allah with regards to them; for He has entrusted us in taking care of them. I sometimes find it comforting to bring to mind that Allah witnesses the nail clipping, the bathing, the loving moments, the hugs that we give our children when they are hurt or sad…to know that He is witnessing our striving to shepherd. When this comes to mind, it helps me in giving the hugs wholeheartedly and with presence, for example (and whilst I edit this, it serves as a reminder). He is Ash-Shahid (The Witness) to it all, He is Ash-Shakur (The Appreciative) and He rewards. And He tells us in His book that anyone who has put forth an atom’s weight of good shall see it. So love and shepherd away, and begin in His name.
Allah Is In The Assistance Of Those Who Are In The Assistance of Others
Also, something that we can endeavour to do in coming closer to Allah within our motherhood journeys is intentionally helping others. The Prophet SAW said: ‘Allah is in aid of the servant so long as the servant is in aid of his brother’ (Muslim). So I think that being helpful and supportive will be so helpful to us.
Helping others means facilitating some level of ease for another. So let’s imagine: someone having a hard time, and Allah wills for our kind words to comfort them, for our money to provide them with food, for our support to allow them to be a little bit happier with their families that evening. Helping matters. Helping literally shifts. Helping and being helped; we need it, too. I benefit so much from the kind words of my loved ones and their helping hands, and their willingness to listen lovingly to me in testing moments or hard days. May Allah reward them.
Helping creates an impact. And upon reflection, I really believe that Allah rewards impact. Think about it. Allah helps us when we help our brother (or sister). Allah writes smiling as a charity for us. Kind words as charity for us. Covers us, if we cover our brother. Why? Perhaps, because these acts create a positive impact, and He knows best. It all creates goodness. A smiling, jolly person lifts us. Kind words can literally shift how we feel.
Is somebody fundraising? We can give what we can, with the intention of helping, giving sadaqah and pleasing Allah. Is there a nursing home near us? Perhaps we can pop in and chat with the residents at allocated times; provide conversation, comfort and presence, insha’Allah. Are we cooking? Perhaps we can make more for our families or others that need a helping hand. Does a friend come to you for advice? Start with Bismillah so as to to frame your advice with taqwa, sincerity and authenticity. And then help them wholeheartedly and remember that Allah rewards this potential postive impact.
Out And About
Another thing we can do is pick stuff off the path that is unpleasant for others. Wrappers in a building or lift, etc. My elder child once asked me why I picked up something off the road and I said something along the lines of the Prophet SAW recommending that we do and that it is written as charity for us. I think I also explained to him that it makes it nicer for people when they use the path after us: our action, of removing the unpleasant, will make the experience of the next person there, far more pleasant. Some time later, he picked something up and made reference to the Prophet SAW’s advice in this regard.
Du’a is also another Mum’s-act-of-worship-best-friend and here is a piece that I wrote in how I personally use du’a in my role as a SAHM. The beautiful thing about du’a is that you can literally ask Allah for anything, and speak to Him and He always responds (in different ways). That’s it. The Prophet SAW states that du’a is worship. Subhan’Allah.
We are the beneficiaries as we ask and get, yet we are rewarded in that state.
Sadaqah is another form of worship that Allah asks us to partake in, in numerous ayaat and ahadith. Allah says:
Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” (2: 261-262)
The Prophet (saw) said, “Allah said: Spend in charity, O son of Adam, and I will spend on you.” (Bukhari)
So finding ways to support those in need through our money (or our effort) can be a great way of fulfilling the exhortations given by our Lord and Prophet SAW to engage in this act. Perhaps set up a direct debit to a good charity or cause.
In the meantime, below are some actionable ways we can remember Allah and engage in worship in our day-to-day lives.
Actionable Steps In Implementing The Tip
1) Consider the power of friendpower: buddy up to do acts of worship: We have set up a Qur’an Recitation WhatsApp Group (myself and a handful of sisters) and we check in with one another with the portion and interval we have selected (one page of Qur’an, daily, for example). Some of us check in to say we have recited our portion and sometimes, share the verses that stood out for us, and more infrequently, write and share our personal reflections on certain ayaat. We also share reminders on the topic of Qur’an.
Buddying up with just one friend to memorise one ayah a day is also another useful way of keeping connected to the Qur’an.
Fasting is the same; we can buddy up to make up our Ramadan fasts with friends, thereby making it easier.
Dr Mark Hyman, a functional Medicine doctor, says the following regards to buddying up for common goals “friendpower is stronger than willpower” Hearing this in an interview of his was what inspired the idea that perhaps we could buddy up for acts or worship.
2) Choose certain portions of your week (and/or days) to dedicate to just ibaadah. Maybe there is a time in the week that you’re just going to focus on your ibaadah (for example: one evening a week for qiyaam ul layl)
3) Making Du’a During Sa’at ul Istijaabah – The Hour/Time of Response. We can set weekly alarms on our phones for Fridays, around an hour before Maghrib time and take advantage of this specially mentioned time to make du’a. We can adjust the alarm time accordingly as the salah time changes.
- Sa’at ul Istijaabah: The Prophet (saw) said: “Friday is comprised of twelve hours. There is one in which a Muslim who asks Allah for something will have it granted to him. Seek it in the last hour after `Asr.” (Abu Dawood and al-Nasaa’i)
4) Listening to the Qur’an At Certain Times Of The Day. I want to be more consistent with this one. So for example, in the morning, during breakfast making, where we can hear it and be reminded, and our children get accustomed to hearing it, too insha’Allah. If they are little, the last juz of the Qur’an, Juz ‘Amma may be helpful: so that it becomes a familiar sound and putting it to memory may then become easier, insha’Allah.
6) Collect and make a playlist of Khutbahs pertaining to topics we need reminders on and/or those that interest us and listen to them during the week.
7) Embed your days with dhikr, and say them out loud in front of the children. So that they learn them too and see them in practice, insha’Allah. Saying our du’as (for leaving the house, entering the house, entering the marketplace, etc) out loud(er).
8) If you’re putting time, money or effort into a cause for good or involved in a sadaqah drive, get the kids involved and talk to them about it. Just thinking out loud here, but talk about the experiences, what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what Allah encourages and is pleased with (Allah assists us when we assists others), what impact it has (it will provide them with food so that they are nourished), that our wealth, our time, our energy, indeed our whole lives are gifts from Allah (not really ‘ours’) and that we utilise all those in His cause (and His cause is that which is best for all of society). We can begin to discuss and engage in these conversations in a natural and age appropriate way, insha’Allah.
Now, I would love to hear how you keep connected to Allah in your motherhood journey and in your role as a SAHM…please do share so that we can all benefit and so that we can incorporate more dhikr into our lives.
I hope some of these tips help, insha’Allah.
And I wish you great days with your blessings 🙂