By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
My friend Umm Saif loved to dress modestly. She also loved inspiring others, being helpful, and reminding others to do good deeds. She wanted to wear the niqab (face veil) and complete half her deen (religion) by getting married, while she was yet to complete her education. Whoever she met or wherever she went, she did her best to leave a positive mark.
Alhamdulillah (all praises are for Allah), she started wearing the niqab, without minding any negative reaction she may have received from strangers. She also got married. A few months after her wedding, she was diagnosed with an aggressive terminal ailment, and she passed away at the age of 23.
No one expected her to return to her Lord at such a young age. What if she had procrastinated wearing the niqab that she loved so much because of people’s reaction? Or, what if she postponed doing other good deeds? If there is one lesson to be learnt from her life and death, it is that our sojourn on the earth is brief, and we cannot afford to procrastinate when it comes to worshipping Allah. A Muslim’s purpose in life is to worship Allah (swt), and our society, spouses, children, and jobs should not prevent us from fulfilling this purpose.
How can we ensure that we overcome the hurdles that prevent us from performing obligatory and voluntary acts of worship on time?
Remembrance of Allah (swt) is the best way to beat procrastination in worship. Keeping our hearts attached to Him as much as possible can help us build a habit of worshipping promptly and displacing lazy thoughts from our hearts. There are various ways to motivate our hearts to be in a state of constant reminder, and we look at a few below.
Avail every chance to do good deeds
The importance of doing good deeds can never be lost on any Muslim. The Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) reiterate time and again that doing good deeds is a means to enter paradise. When we engage in acts that benefit other people, not only are we rewarded, if Allah wills, we also nurture our hearts with the remembrance of Allah (swt). When you constantly engage in acts of kindness towards other people, no matter how little, do your best to be consistent. This is bound to draw your heart to things that will remind you of the Creator.
Striving to perform good deeds consistently also helps one cultivate the habit, to the extent that such deeds become second nature, and one feels willing and motivated to engage in worship.
Keep your tongue moist with remembrance
Reciting short supplications and verses of the Qur’an at every opportunity during the day is one of the most effective ways to constantly remember Allah (swt). You can incorporate any simple invocation into your daily activities, and what’s more, you do not need a dedicated place or time to do this. For example, you can choose to say “Subhan’Allahi wa bi hamdihi, Subhan’Allahil adheem” as many times as you can during your commute, errands, exercises, or chores. You will be amazed at how easy it becomes to push ourselves to perform other acts of worship when we are used to praising or beseeching Allah (swt).
Just do it
It can be as simple as that. Procrastination is an obstacle that leads to laziness and lack of productivity. A Muslim cannot afford to make a habit of delaying acts of worship, as Allah (swt) reminds us of the finality of death. (Qur’an 23:99-100) This is why we should try to conquer procrastination by pushing ourselves to do immediately the act of worship that we would rather postpone. This attitude of pushing yourself to do it immediately is also a good way to build a habit of performing acts of worship on time. The more we get used to doing an activity, the higher the chances that it will become second nature.
Remember the reward
During the lifetime of the Prophet (sa), the Companions were known to hasten to observe their salah (prayer), give zakah (obligatory alms) and sadaqah (voluntary charity), and perform other acts of worship because they were hopeful of the reward that they will receive from Allah (swt). For example, observing salah at its earliest time is more rewarding than delaying it (without a genuine reason). This knowledge that there is a reward in hastening to worship should motivate us to conquer procrastination.
Like a lot of habits that we have to struggle to build, the above may need some form of practical adjustments. Here are some tips:
- Set an alarm to wake you every morning for fajr salah. I have personally discovered that when you start your day with salah, you find it easier to be productive during the day and do other important things.
- Make a to-do list daily. You can write out what you need to do the previous night. That way, when you wake up, Insha’Allah, you already have a plan for your day. Remember to include in your plan ways to worship Allah (swt) during the day.
- Limit the distractions. Social media websites, cable TVs and the like may have their uses, but they can also be distractions that we use to procrastinate whatever we should be doing at the moment.
- Use technology to your advantage. There are several incredible apps that remind you to pray, perform ibadah, or do some other acts of worship that you have set up for yourself.
- Go easy. As much as developing a habit requires consistency and practise, it will be counterproductive if one is overwhelmed and burns out too soon. It is better to start little and increase our acts of worship as we get used to it.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam.
© IIPH 2015