Self Care (2): Towards a Healthy Heart & Mind

Assalamu’alaikum & Marhaba!

If you have not already read the first part in this series, please click here!  Today I am going to be sharing the “prescription” towards healing your heart taught by Sister Yasmin Mogahed in her class, A Sacred Conversation.  I will be taking it a step further by providing some ideas to help implement her advice in your daily life with kids.

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Brazil, 2016

Do you live for your children?

As I mentioned in my previous post, we as mothers end up devoting ourselves to our families.  This unfolds naturally.  Our children need us for every little thing, especially when they are young.  The problem occurs when we get lost in our care for our children to the extent that we place their needs and happiness before all else.  In turn, we impede the rights owed to Allah (swt), ourselves, and our spouses.

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Whether you are reading parenting content written by a Muslim or not, the current topic of self-care for mothers is widely popular.  The main message is that our children cannot be the center of our universe for us to remain healthy and able to care for them.  As discussed in the previous post, the center of our universe as Muslim women should only be the worship of Allah (swt).

Our ultimate form of self-care as Muslim mothers is increasing in our worship and spirituality.  The reward of motherhood is tremendous and an act of worship itself.  If we can maintain a lifestyle where Allah (swt) is only at the core of our heart, we will find increased inner peace and blessings from the rewards of our efforts.  In turn, we will be able to give everyone their due rights, even ourselves.

The Prescription to Heal Your Heart

In order to begin healing our hearts, we need to focus on our worship.  Sister Yasmin outlined the three areas of focus as Salah (daily prayers), Dhikr (remembrance of God), and Qur’an.  These three will fill your heart with the most blessings and benefit.  It will provide the protection and fortification your heart needs from the distractions of this world.  And it will train you to consistently make a conscious effort to keep Allah (swt) alone as the focus.

Salah

Many times we will find that we neglect the needs of our heart to fulfill the needs of our body.  Hundreds of years from now our bodies will turn into dust, while our souls will continue on for eternity.

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Photo from Pexel.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,

“He has achieved success who purifies his soul.  And indeed he falls who corrupts his soul,”  (Al Qur’an; Surah Ash Shams, Verses 9-10)

The most important form of worship is our daily prayers.  Our salah reminds us throughout the day to bring our focus and center back to Allah (swt).  It is the purification of our souls and the direct path to making Allah (swt) the center of our hearts.

Practical Tips with Kids

  • Infant
    • Pray with them.  When you have an infant, place your baby on a pillow in front of you during the time for Salah.  If he/she is quiet, use that to your advantage by focusing on your prayers and taking the time for Sunnah Salah.  You will not feel as badly other times where you need to quicken your Salah or can only pray your fardh.
    • Distractions.  As they begin to crawl or roll around, keep their play mats close by and a few toys to distract them.
    • Nighttime Wake Ups.  Use their nighttime wake ups to your advantage by praying tahajjud after you settle them down.  They are the perfect alarm clocks.  I know you are exhausted, but try at least once a week.  If you can make the energy to tend to your baby in the middle of the night, should not Allah (swt) get that and more.

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  • Toddler/Pre-Schooler
    • Prayer comes first.  If your children see you prioritize Salah, look forward to it, and value it from a young age, they will respect that time and hopefully do the same too when they are older.  Consistently remind them the importance of Salah.
    • Invite them to pray with you.  Whenever it is time to pray, I invite my toddlers to join me.  Most of the time even if they do not stand with me immediately, they eventually do or they play quietly nearby.
    • Go to the masjid with the kids.  My husband and I usually split the kids when we go to the masjid.  The more we take them, the better they are at sitting quietly and praying beside us.  I find trips to the masjid to be peaceful for all of us.
  • Older Children
    • Pray as a family.  This should be a habit that brings the family together.  Everyone is forced to stop what they are doing and touch base again with Allah (swt) and one another.  When children get older, they tend to be private, independent, and reclusive  This allows parents and their siblings to find more time to reconnect throughout the day.
    • Go to the masjid as a family.  The more we value something, the harder we work to include those things into our hectic schedules.  We should try our best not to make trips to the masjid exclusive for the weekends or once a month gatherings.  We tend to forget that if we take time out for Allah (swt), we will find more barkah (blessings) in our time.  Try your best to go for at least one salah as a family daily or every other day.
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Steel Masjid, Putra Jaya, Malaysia

Dhikr

The time I used to make for dhikr and du’a took the biggest hit after I had my children.  It is an important sunnah many of us tend to neglect.  One of Sister Yasmin’s recommendations was downloading the app, My Duaa.  It is a digital version of Fortress of the Muslim.

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The dhikr she recommended for us to begin with were the following:

  • Morning and evening adhkaar.
    • She highlighted that this can even be said after its recommended time if we were too busy.  It is better to say it than skipping it altogether.
  • Istighfaar.
  • Before sleeping.
  • La Hawla Wa La Quwatta Illah Billah.
    • Saying this cures many diseases of the heart.
  • Sending salawaat on the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Practical Tips

  • Start your day at fajr time.  If you begin your morning after fajr, you will not only find the time for dhikr, but that it has the most calming effect which remains throughout the day.
  • Hang up the daily du’as to be said around the house.  I bought this set of du’a cards from Learning Roots for my children, but it actually ended up being just as beneficial for me.  If I forget to say them, my kids point and remind me.
  • The late afternoon to early evening time is the busiest in our home.  I make it a point to let everyone know that I need fifteen minutes after Salatul Asr to get my evening dhikr done.  My kids like to sit around me and listen now or repeat with me.
  • By the time I am ready to sleep, I do not think I have the energy for anything at all.  Truthfully, this is the time I spend “unwinding” on my phone.  I make a conscious effort now to go into the My Duaa app before I get distracted with anything else.  You will feel so much more at ease and ready to sleep peacefully having made the dhikr before bed.

Qur’an & Sunnah

Before kids, a habit I had gotten into was reading five pages of Qur’an after every Salah.  Now, I jump up as soon as I am done with the dhikr to race back to whatever or whoever needs me.  Most of the time, my brain feels overwhelmed with having to think about four people; myself, my kids, and my husband!

Yet, there is no doubt that the Qur’an is soothing to the heart and to the mind.  Shaytaan keeps us so busy, that we forget this much needed therapy for ourselves.  The Qur’an was sent to guide us and heal us.  The Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) and the Seerah are additional reminders and examples on how to deal with the obstacles of life.  It is a shame we forget and neglect these invaluable resources Allah (swt) gave us to get through our difficulties and challenges.

Practical Tips

  • Qur’an at fajr time.  That time between Salatul Fajr and when the kids wake up is irreplaceable.  Not only can you fit in dhikr, it is more than enough time to get a few pages of Qur’an recitation in and even maybe just reflecting over an ayah.  These days, I do not worry about the amount of Qur’an I recite.  I am moving slower, but making more of an effort to read the meaning along with that days recitation.  I am using the translation by Abdel Haleem available on Kindle.
  • Recite Qur’an to your kids as they fall asleep.  One of my favorite things to do from the time my babies were in my belly.  Now, my children request at least a page of Qur’an read to them in my most beautiful voice (which really is not that great) every night.

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  • Start a bullet journal.  One of the best ways I decluttered my brain was by starting a bullet journal.  One key feature of it is a section where I reflect over an ayah.  I write down the meaning and a few of my personal thoughts on how they impact me.  Truthfully, I have not made this a daily habit yet, but it is something I aim to do once or twice a week.
  • Lectures while you do your chores.  Another useful tip is to listen to lectures while you complete your chores around the house.  I tend to use my bluetooth speakers while I wash dishes, cook dinner, or fold the laundry.  A great lecture series about the life of the Prophet Muhammad is by Shaikh Yasir Qadhi on YouTube.

And there you have my practical tips alongside the recommended acts of worship by Yasmin Mogahed for a stronger heart which will in turn lead to a healthier state overall.

**Giveaway**

For the first time ever, I am going to do a giveaway in the hopes of benefitting other moms in similar situations.  For this giveaway, I will be sending two winners, chosen randomly, a copy of Sister Yasmin Mogahed’s book, Reclaim Your Heart.  The rules of the giveaway are as follows:

  1. Like this post and comment below with more practical tips to help increase your worship during a busy day with kids.
  2. Subscribe to the blog.

The giveaway ends on January 18th at 9 p.m. EST and is open internationally.