11 Ways Remembering Allah Can Keep You Going Through Challenging Times


Shasha Dania •  Apr 10, 2020

It's only the start of April, but it feels like a whole year's already passed. ? So many upheavals have happened to our daily lives and routines, so pat yourself on the back for doing the best you can! Having to self-isolate while adjusting to hectic circumstances and non-stop changes can leave you feeling anxious, worried, or depressed. Staying healthy during a pandemic is one thing, but keeping yourself mentally and emotionally resilient is just as important too!

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In times like this, we may also find ourselves struggling to keep up with our ibadah and remembrance of Allah - which can feel like another level of stress or pressure. However, reminding ourselves of Allah's presence in our lives can be one way to keep ourselves calm and steady for whatever may come our way. ☺️

Allah says in the Quran “Remember me, I will remember you” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:152) and “In the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find rest” (Surah Ar-Ra’d 13:28). If we truly want to live a life that is filled with peacefulness and barakah we should strive our very best to put the remembrance of Allah first in our lives no matter what comes our way ❤️ In strengthening our faith during this difficult time may we remember that this too shall pass and we can emerge stronger than before. ? Here are some ways you can work your remembrance of Allah into your daily routine.

Note: If you're experiencing severe symptoms of depression or extreme mood changes, don't be afraid to seek professional help. If you can't access in-person services, look out for anonymous hotlines dedicated to mental health and wellness that can help you tide through this period. Sometimes, reaching out and talking to someone you trust can also make a difference.

1. Make the most of technology to gain beneficial knowledge

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If you're feeling unmotivated in the mornings, change your routine up and start your day with an Islamic lesson to learn something new about the Deen or to reinforce what you already know. Starting your morning with new knowledge or an inspirational discussion can leave you feeling prepared and ready for the day ahead. As mosques and other educational institutions have temporarily closed due to this lockdown, the silver lining is that many of them have shifted their in-person lessons online!

Mu'awiyah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)  said, "When Allah wishes good for someone, He bestows upon him the understanding of Deen."

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Many podcasts or online lessons are between 30-45 minutes long - perfect to listen to as you eat breakfast and start getting ready for the day. ? Check out MUIS' list of 8 local Islamic podcasts for ideas of where to get started! You can also listen to shorter lessons throughout the day or during mealtimes. Instead of turning on your current K-drama binge or must-watch movie, dedicate some time in your schedule to learn something meaningful. ?

2. Recite an ayah of the Qur'an a day

Start incorporating the recitation of the Qur'an daily, and build a relationship with it slow and steady. With Ramadan approaching, some of us may be trying to build ourselves up to being able to read through the whole Qur'an in the holy month. However, for beginners, it can feel daunting to read through one juz' or even one surah per day - especially if you're not confident in your Arabic.

Try reciting at the very least just one ayah a day, reflecting on its meaning, and implementing its lessons into your daily life when possible. Don't worry if you feel like you aren't very fluent in reciting the Qur'an. Everybody starts somewhere and the effort is so worth it!

Abdullah Ibn Masud narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever reads one letter from the Book of Allah will earn one reward thereby. One reward is equal to ten rewards the like of it. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Meem is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Meem is a letter.” [Tirmidhi]

'Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur'an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels) and he who recites the Qur'an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Can you imagine getting extra rewards just because we struggle to recite the Qur'an? ? Keep doing your best, and over time through your daily efforts you'll find yourself feeling more comfortable and fluent without even realizing. Learning a new skill or habit can also help provide some structure to your day, especially if you're staying indoors and all the days seem to blend together.

3. Take your time to study the tafseer of the Qur'an

Apart from becoming more confident in reciting the Qur'an, it's also important to understand and internalize its lessons. In doing so, we are listening to the word of Allah and incorporating His lessons into our lives. Through both happy and joyful times, and despairing and upset times, these lessons can guide us through our actions and values.

I use the Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary by Seyyed Hossein Nasr which is an English translation that comes with detailed commentary on every ayah. ? I can say from personal experience it might seem daunting to start, but once you begin the beauty of the Qur'an will quickly draw you in. This has also helped me create a night-time routine that helps me unwind after a long and hectic day. Instead of staying on my phone and ending up sleeping way later than I intended, doing some reading and introspection helps me settle my nerves before going to sleep.

P.S. You can find it online in bookstores such as Wardah Books!

4. Keep a Dua or Qur'an journal

Many of us lead fully digital lives these days, but keeping a physical journal can have huge benefits for your mental health! Not only can you see how your mood or thoughts fluctuate throughout the week and figure out potential triggers or major events, but you can use it to track what you've learnt about the Deen or Qur'an too.

Some stores stock specialized Dua Journals that help guide you through useful Dua's or guide you through writing your own, but any regular notebook can help you get started on this. ☺️ Don't worry if your handwriting is messy or you don't know how to draw fancy mind maps or calligraphy - your journal is fully customizable by you!

Illustrate the lessons as you wish, and in doing so you can create your own repository to return to if you want to refresh your mind in the future. If you're focused on a particular worry or thought at the moment, collating them into a journal can also help you feel a sense of letting go and release. ? You can also write down what you're thankful for throughout the day, or what you're troubled about - this can help you be more specific in your prayers or Dua's later on.

5. Try to always be in a state of wudu'

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Being in a constant state of wudu' helps to keep us conscious of the remembrance of Allah. Plus, this way it’s easier for you to perform your salah at any time, not to mention you’ll get lots of reward for it too! Besides getting the reward of performing wudu', it also helps us to stay clean and fresh throughout the day. Definitely helps in keeping us energised on busy days ?

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "Should I not direct you to something by which Allah obliterates the sins and elevates (your) ranks." They said: "Yes, O Messenger of Allah". He said, "Performing Wudu' properly, even in difficulty, frequently going to the mosque, and waiting eagerly for the next Salat (prayer) after a Salat is over; indeed, that is Ar- Ribat". [Muslim]

Making the effort to stay clean throughout the day can help you feel more invigorated and productive, and a good warm shower can help you unwind after a stressful day. ? If you're looking for some serious de-stressing, here are 10 ways you can recreate your own personal spa at home.

6. Be more mindful with your daily prayers

Many of us are now working from home - which means we have fewer excuses for missing or rushing a prayer at the last minute. ? Of course, we shouldn't be missing prayers in the first place, but sometimes the demands of the workplace could make it difficult to fully concentrate on our prayers. The silver lining is that we're able to do our prayers in a comfortable and familiar space throughout the day. In fact, here are 8 beautiful things you'll learn from performing ibadah at home!

Narrated ‘Abdullah (May Allah be pleased with him):

I asked the Prophet (ﷺ) “Which deed is the dearest to Allah?” He (ﷺ) replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times.” [Bukhari]

One way to be more present during prayers and really focusing on it is by being mindful of Allah even before coming to prayer. Put your phone on airplane mode for the 10 or 15 minutes that you take while performing your prayer, and remember that when in prayer, you are standing before Allah. Fully concentrate on your words, body, and movements while you pray - take this time to introspect on the words that you're saying, and enter into a conversation with Allah.

If you have worries or requests, this is your time to voice those out and you can use one of the 99 names of Allah to be as specific as possible and strengthen your Dua's. If you have time, you can even add on Sunnah prayers before/after your obligatory prayers (where it's okay to do so). ?

7. Practice mindfulness techniques

When life gets too hectic, your thoughts can get frantic and rushed, leaving you feeling overwhelmed or even on the brink of tears. If you feel like you're going to burn out, take a step back and remind yourself of what you're doing and who you're intending to do it for. The simple act of being mindful in your daily actions can make a lot of difference in your connection with Allah.

In whatever you do, try to renew your intentions and do it sincerely for the sake of Allah. A quick and simple reflection on this can help us realize what our priorities should be, and how we might be focusing on something that is pointless or not worth our worries in the end. Not only will we be more conscious in our actions, but we would also be gaining reward from the mundane things that we do every day anyway, as Allah is the Most Generous ?

8. Pick a few dua's or dhikr to focus on and take five

If you find yourself getting distracted throughout the day, taking a short break can help you refocus and recenter before getting back to work. Maximise your downtime in between tasks and get into the habit of reciting some dhikr like the morning and evening remembrances or any other dua's. You can also download an app that has authentic supplications from the Qur'an and Sunnah to get you started like Dikhr & Dua for Android and Hisnul Muslim for iPhone to get you started. ?

Start small and just pick a few that speak close to your heart to truly appreciate the meaning of what you’re saying, and slowly build up from there! One of my personal favourite dua’s that I’m trying to learn by heart is the all-comprehensive “anti-procrastination dua”, which is a great way to start your day!

"Allahumma inni ‘a’udhubika minal hammi walhuzni, Wal’ajzi walkasali, walbukhli waljubni, Wa dal’id-daiyni wa ghalabatir-rajal.”

‘O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.’ [Bukhari]

Making dua doesn’t only have to be after a prayer. Although there are certain times where it is said that dua's are more readily answered, it can really be done anytime and anywhere in any language that you speak. Making a silent prayer in your heart is dua too. Make it a habit to converse with Allah, after all, He says in Surah Ghafir, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (40:60) ❤️ When you're faced with difficulties or doubts, call upon Allah and believe that he will bring what is best for you.

9. Give charity

Right now, many of us may be struggling to adapt to working from home - but we should also remember that there are others who don't have the privilege or safety to do so. Whether those are medical staff working around-the-clock to help patients in need, or essential frontline staff such as chefs, cleaners, and hawkers who keep the world carrying on per normal. With an economic crisis already starting, it's important for us to save for a rainy day and to also help others once we ourselves are secured.

Credit: MERCY Malaysia on Facebook

There are lots of community-led initiatives in both Malaysia and Singapore dedicated to helping out others who are struggling during this period. You can also help in small ways such as leaving tips for your food delivery drivers, or supporting local businesses by ordering from them (here are 50 halal eateries in Singapore with islandwide delivery!).

The best part is that giving sadaqah (voluntary acts of charity) doesn’t only need to be monetary! There’s a beautiful hadith that says –

Abu Dhar reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:“Your smile to your brother is a sadaqah (charitable act) for you. Your commanding the right and forbidding the wrong is a sadaqah.  Your guiding a man in the land of misguidance is a sadaqah for you. Your seeing (showing the way) for a man with bad eyesight is a sadaqah for you. Your removing a stone or thorn or bone from the road is a sadaqah for you. Your emptying your bucket of water into your brother’s (empty) bucket is a sadaqah for you.”  [Tirmidhi]

10. Do a gratitude check daily

During tough times, we can get bogged down thinking about what we've lost or what we wish we had. Cancelled plans, delayed meetings, and even missing the simple joys of sitting at a coffee shop with friends to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea can leave us feeling sour and distraught. So it's even more important that we remind ourselves of what we do have right now, rather than what we don't.  Allah has already told us the value of gratitude and remembering our blessings in the Qur'an:

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Qur’an: Chapter 14, Verse 7]

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If you look at the duas made in the Qur'an by Prophets (who are of course the best of examples in practicing gratitude and patience), you'll find that indeed Allah responds to them with more. For example, Prophet Zakariya (peace be upon him) made dua for a son even though he was old and his wife was barren. Not only did Allah gave them a son, but their son was also the Prophet Yahya (peace be upon him)!

From being thankful for having enough food, shelter, safety, and security - to feeling gratitude for the chance to be near our families, and keep in touch with loved ones. Remembering what we do have is a quick way to put our entire situation into perspective, and to remember that Allah is indeed the best Planner and that we should trust in His plans.

11. Lastly, stay home if you can!

Being isolated and unable to go out and meet your friends and family can leave you feeling restless. Some of us may also be frontline medical staff, or have a job that requires us to leave the house - this can also induce stress and anxiety, over worries about possibly contracting the disease. However, whenever we can, we should avoid unnecessary contact or meetings with others. Did you know that staying home and refraining from going out during a pandemic can bring you rewards? In a hadith from Sahih Al-Bukhari, it was narrated by Aishah r.a. (the wife of the Prophet):

"I asked Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) about the plague. He told me that it was a Punishment sent by Allah on whom he wished, and Allah made it a source of mercy for the believers, for if one in the time of an epidemic plague stays in his country patiently hoping for Allah's Reward and believing that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, he will get the reward of a martyr."

The hadith explains the wisdom behind a plague which happened; that it is a blessing for believers. It suggests that those who pass away due to the plague will receive the rewards of a martyr. But it also implies that if you stay home (or in the land where the plague is in), hope to attain Allah's rewards, remain patient and trust in His plans, you will also get the reward of a martyr.

This also means having good, sincere niat (intentions)  and increasing our faith in Allah that nothing bad will happen to us unless Allah wills it. If we carry this to the relevance of the present-day, we'd realise that staying home is also a form of helping frontline medical staff who are tirelessly working in hospitals, by not adding more patients or potential cases. ☺️

Right now, many of us are going through changes and upheavals that may have us questioning things we took for granted. However, in times of doubt and worry we can find ways to turn to Allah even more for reassurance and comfort, and maintain our remembrance of Him to strengthen our faith. ❤️