How to Keep Priorities Straight

“Setting right priorities is the key” we hear a lot of times when it comes to making the most out of our time. I have heard this myself many times but after a couple of minutes or maybe hours (if I am lucky) of adrenaline rush to get my act together, I fall right back to the same routine of being distracted and having no structure. So what ARE my priorities I asked and the answer came from a lecture I recently heard. This lecture really put things in perspective for me and implementing these few things in my life have made a difference. I am sharing them here so that we can all benefit insha’Allah

1.     Deen: As a Muslim, our first and foremost priority is towards our deen and getting all our obligatory worships checked. This means making our salah our priority and organizing our day around salah. However, it doesn’t stop here and is a work in progress. As mentioned in the previous post, Islam covers all aspect of our lives so our deen is not only restricted to our obligatory prayers and zakah. Deen is about being patient in times of trials and tribulations, deen is forgiving the one who wronged you and deen is being good to your parents and making dua’ for them. May Allah(SWT) enable me and all us to be true to Islam and instill all these beautiful characters in us (Ameen)

2.     This brings me to the second point: huqooq ul ibaad or fulfilling the rights of those around us including ourselves. This means taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of others, fulfilling the rights of our parents by giving them company and checking in with our siblings to see what they are up to and do all this with ihsaan, with excellence and in the most beautiful manner.  I personally thought this is where a lot of imbalance was. As a mother, I get busy with kids and I lose perspective of things. I have to constantly remind myself that I can turn everything into ibadah by serving my kids for the sake of Allah. This helps me get calm instead of constantly worrying and getting overwhelmed. On the flip side, there is literally no limit to voluntary deeds, but I have to strike a balance. I have to remember that my children are my first priority. Motherhood is a role Allah (SWT) has entrusted upon me so it is integral that I fulfill the rights of of my children and all other roles I have within my family before I take care of voluntary deeds.

3.     Extras in deen: As mentioned above, this comes third on the grid of responsibilities. After taking care of my obligatory worships and fulfilling the rights of those around me, I can now spend my time doing extras in deen whether it is extra dhikr, community involvement or extra fasts. Another important point that crossed my mind was being neglectful of obligatory worships and doing extra voluntary worships in hopes of gaining reward. We have to be clear that deen has laid out what is the bare minimum and what is extra. We have to worship Allah the way He has asked us to worship to gain the most benefit. If someone has not been praying 5 times, it is more important for him or her to work on 5 daily prayers than praying extra voluntary prayers.

Now the question arises, how in the world would I implement this in my life? Below are some recommendations given:

1.     Being firm on deen: We need to start taking care of our obligatory prayer and all other obligations. If we are not praying 5 times, we need to train ourselves to become such that no matter where we are and what we are doing, when it is time to prayer, it means it IS time for prayer. We drop the controller or the book or cookie in our hands and pray! No matter how hard we find fulfilling our obligations, we make a commitment to fulfill these obligations as soon as possible in the best possible manner insha’Allah

2.     Abundance in dhikr:

The Prophet (
) said, "The example of the one who celebrates the Praises of his Lord (Allah) in comparison to the one who does not celebrate the Praises of his Lord, is that of a living creature compared to a dead one."

The more we do dhikr, the more we will get closer to Allah (SWT). Below are a couple of ahadith with recommended adhkar

Whoever says “SubhanAllah wa bihamdihi” a hundred times during the day, his sins are wiped away, even if they are like the foam of the sea. [Sahih al-Bukhari; #7:168, Sahih Muslim; #4:2071]

"There are some words, the reciters of which will never be disappointed. These are: Tasbih [saying Subhan-Allah (Allah is free from imperfection)] 33 times, Tahmid [saying Al-hamdu lillah (praise be to Allah)] 33 times and Takbir [saying Allahu Akbar (Allah is Greatest)] 34 times; and these should be recited after every Fardh salaah.''

  Seeking forgiveness of Allah by saying Astaghfirullah as many time as possible

 The idea is to learn as many adhkar and make them part of our daily routine such that we are busy remembering Allah in hopes of getting closer to Him

3.     Company: I personally think this is the key. we HAVE to surround ourselves with people who are spiritually nourishing and have excellent character. When we surround ourselves with people who are spiritually depleting, their bad characters rub off on us and we slowly start slipping away. Distractions slowly start creeping in and we lose sight of what is important. We all should make dua’ for the company of righteous and make an effort to stay close to people who are a source of reminder.

“The example of a good companion and a bad one is the bearer of musk and the worker on the bellows. A bearer of musk would give you some, you might buy some from him, or you might enjoy the fragrance of his musk. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand, might spoil your clothes with sparks from his bellows, or you get a bad smell from him.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, this version being Muslim’s)