Saturday, 13 February 2010

What's Your Morning Routine?

I hate routine. Except when it comes to morning routines :). That’s something I try and stick to! ;)
There’s something about starting your day on a set of pre-planned actions that really set your day straight. Below I describe the “ideal” ProductiveMuslim morning routine. (Note: I assume that Fajr athan is at 5.00am and that work starts at 8am, feel free to “adjust” the routine below to suit your timetable inshaAllah)

4.00AM - 5.00AM: 5 essential actions:
1. Wake up!
Perhaps the first and most important step to starting a great morning routine is waking up early! And it is in that moment of indecision of whether you should wake up immediately, or enjoy your nice comfy bed for “5 more minutes” lies the secret to either a great day or crazy one. Here’s a tip that always works with me for waking up: You know how shaytaan whispers in your ears “just sleep for 5 more minutes”...I simply whisper back to myself “just wake up for 5 minutes" ;)...yup, you can imagine the rest, as soon as you’re awake and are reciting the athkar and making wudhu, you can imagine what happens to sleep...(gone! nada! left the

2. Make the Dua(s) for waking up and recite last 10 verses of Surah Al-Imran:
Al-hamdulillah, we have a beautiful set of waking up supplications which Prophet Muhammad(Peace be upon him) taught us. Here's a collection of all of them: Wake Up Supplications. My favorite one has to be reciting the last 10 verses of Aal-Imran (Chapter 3 in the Quran). You can literally feel your heart coming to life and getting “juiced” when the first thing you do as soon as you wake up is remember Allah & recite Quran.

3. Wudhu
Something about wudhu that really focuses your positive energy and cleanses you inwardly as well as outwardly. I had a friend who used to call this feeling "WuBuzz!" short for the "Buzz" you feel after wuddhu ;). Don’t forget to say Bismillah before starting wudhu and the dua after finishing the wudhu! The 8 gates of heaven will be opened for you if you do that (not a bad way to start your day ;)).

4. Tahajjud & Witr
Tahajjud or Qiyaam has been described as the “honour of the believer”, because who else would go through what you just did (wake up, wudhu..etc) just to stand and pray. The beauty of tahajjud is hard to describe; from the feeling of “peacefulness” (salam) in your heart, to understanding Quran better, to feeling closer to Allah and wishing that you never get up from that sujood, to the self-reflection moments that we rarely get a chance to do in our busy world, all of them and more come from tahajjud. Finally, praying witr and making dua sincerely to Allah is a true booster to your day!

5. Istighfar moments
Don’t forget to use the last 5-10 minutes before fajr asking Allah for forgiveness and making lots of istighfar so that you’re of those Allah mentioned in the Quran: "And in the hour of early dawn, they (were found) praying for Forgiveness" (Quran, Chapter 51, Verse 18).

5.00AM - 5.05AM: Fajr Athan
Say as the moathin (The person who calls to Prayer) says and don’t forget the Dua after athan: Supplications Related to Athaan

5.05AM - 5.30AM: Between Athan & Iqama
1. Pray 2 rak’ah - the Sunnah of Fajr
Don’t miss this! Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: "The two rakah before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all that it contains."(Riyad-us-Saliheen (Hadith # 1102)). Just think about this hadeeth for a moment; 5 minutes of your time to pray 2 simple rak'ah is better than this whole wide world with all its lands, people, treasures, nature and beyond! SubhanaAllah!
Also, if this is the importance and merit of the sunnah of Fajr, what about the obligatory Fajr prayer itself? (This is a heartwarming reminder to those who neglect Fajr Salat: "Are you neglecting the Fajr Prayer?" )

2. Dua
Did you know that the time between Athan & Iqama is prime dua time?! Make most of it! Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The supplication made between the adhan and the iqamah is not rejected. (Sunan Abu Dawood, Book #2, Hadith #0521)

3. Lie on your right side
Narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Messenger (Peace be upon him) used to pray two light Rakat before the morning (compulsory) prayer after the day dawned and the Mu'adhdhin had finished his adhan. He then would lie on his right side till the Mu'adhdhin came to pronounce the Iqama. (Sahih Bukhari, Book #11, Hadith #599)

4. Brainstorm session
I sometimes use this time to either plan my day, or brainstorm ideas for ProductiveMuslim/articles. You’ll be surprised how active your brain is at this time! You're alert, awake and kicking ;)

5. Quran memorization
Speaking of active, memorizing Quran at this time is incredible as well. I have tried memorizing Quran after asr/maghreb when I’m tired and back from work vs. after fajr.. the difference, SubhanaAllah! After fajr, your brain truly is like a sponge :).

5.30AM - 6.00am: Fajr Salat &Thikr
If you are a brother, and can get to a mosque no matter how far..go for it! The beauty of praying fajr in the masjid is hard to describe. I prefer walking to the Masjid vs. driving (cycling is good as well ;)), since you get a chance to breath in the fresh morning air, Allah says in the Quran: "And the Dawn as it breathes away the darkness" (Chapter 81, Verse 18)
After fajr salat, sit back, relax and enjoy the after salaat thikr and morning supplications.

6.00 - 6.30am: Recite, Read or Exercise
1. Quran Memorization/Recitation - Recite and/or Memorize Quran, and if you have a good tafsir book, then reading the meaning of at least one page of Quran is a great bonus!

2. Reading - Spend this time with general Islamic Reading, I stress that the reading must be Islamic, since as I said before, your mind is like a sponge at this time and is highly active. You want whatever you’re reading to truly embed in your mind & soul inshaAllah.
Suggested books to read: Hadeeth books, Stories of the Prophets, Seerah...etc. (Or join our Book Club to get exposed to some great books & minds!)

3. Exercise: Another option for this time is a quick 30 minute exercise. This could be jogging around the block, cycling, using a treadmill, some aerobics/cardiovascular exercises..etc.

6.30AM - 6.45: Plan your day
This is where I plan the rest of my day, of course, using the Taskinator ;). Sometimes I check/send e-mails around this time as well to help me plan my day or set out tasks for myself and/or team members.

6.45AM - 7.00: Get ready for work

7.00AM - 7.10: Duha Prayers.
Nothing sets your day straight like Duha prayer. Nu`aym ibn Hammar (Allah be pleased with him) relates that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say, “Allah Most High says: O child of Adam, don’t fail to perform four rakats in the beginning of your day, and I shall be your sufficiency at its end.” [Abu Dawud (1289) and Tirmidhi (475)].

7.15AM - 7.30AM: Breakfast.
Reward yourself for a ProductiveMorning with a big FAT hearty (healthy) breakfast! :D.

7.30AM - 8.00AM: Commute to work.
Don’t forget my tips about commuting ProductiveMuslim style! ;)
Imagine if all your mornings were like the above, how much will you gain spiritually? How much knowledge will you acquire? What will your mood be like for the rest of the day, each day? Try the above, just for one day, and let me know how it goes inshaAllah.