20 Spiritual Resolutions for a Muslima
As Muslims, Shawwal is usually our “fresh start” month for the year ahead. It’s a time when you feel spiritually cleansed of your sins and physically detoxed of your bad habits by the past month of Ramadan. It’s our time to instill our “new year’s resolutions” that’s all the hype for others each January. Rewind to Shabaan, and that’s the month most people feel quite anxious by the approaching Ramadan. Usually, we’re not ready to face the month ahead because of having missed fasts to repay, or bad eating habits that are too ingrained from the past eleven months. Then too, our hectic lifestyles from the rest of the year may have kept us from keeping up with the spiritual goals we wanted to start, but “didn’t get around to do” like we had planned!
Alhumdullillah once Ramadan begins, the barakah of that month is so immense, that somehow all our anxiousness dissipate and we start to enjoy the blessings. Our fatigue from waking up for suhoor is minimal and the caffeine withdrawal we dreaded doesn’t last. Our salah seems more meaningful, and we begin to feel the cleansing nature of fasting on our body and mind. As the month progresses, our time has more barakah and everything we do seems more blessed and hassle-free.
Each year, I appreciate Ramadan so much more that I’ve come to look forward to this blessed month and literally cry when it’s over. Alhamdulillah this year was a spiritually productive Ramadan for me because I was able to control myself and unplug mentally from the world more than usual. I came to find that it was even possible to do so with kids around! I simply did things like, not check my phone a lot, chatter too much with friends, browse the internet for this or that, not watch TV etc. Instead, I spent a lot of my time reading on Islam, contemplating about my spiritual goals for the future, and having more heartfelt conversations, patience, and kindness with my family.
So, I wanted to share some of the goals I started to implement for myself for the rest of the year and beyond inshAllah. Don’t feel daunted by any of the suggestions I’ve mentioned, because it is a wishlist and it is always better to do less and be consistent than to do more and be inconsistent. The real challenge for anyone is in formulating your goals into habits and not become forgetful or lax. I hope my list gives you some ideas so you’ll feel inspired to set some goals for yourself (if you haven’t already). I assure you, when you set spiritual resolutions for yourself, it will make you feel productive and not stuck in the same ol’ routine ridden with guilt.
20 Spiritual Resolution Ideas
1. Ask forgiveness for your past
Look back to your past and think of all the nasty, mean, and hurtful things you did until now. Think of the big and small sins you’ve committed as well, and write them down. Make your tawba by asking Allah SWT for forgiveness for each and every one them. It may bring a sense of guilt and you’ll want to avoid the memory, but don’t! Face what you’ve done and start your journey towards repentance today before you meet your Lord.
The best repentance is to intend not to return to the sin and turn to Allah SWT, expressing your remorse with heartfelt words. Then it is advised to make the prayer of repentance. The Prophet SAW said,
“There is no one who commits a sin, goes and performs ritual ablutions, and then prays two rakats after which they seek Allah’s forgiveness except that He forgives them.”
After this, the Prophet SAW recited,
“And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins – Who forgives sins save Allah only? – and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did.” [Qur’an, 3.135]
2. Calculate qada and make it up
To perform qada is to repay your missed obligations. This is usually the fard salah, Ramadan fasts, and annual zakat you’ve missed from the age of puberty until now. The way this can be done is by making a calculated guess and estimating your missed fards over the course of your life so far. I have explained this in more detail in my post, A Muslima’s Guide to Qada. You will also find a free Salah and Saum Qada log resource that I have included to help you get started.
3. Become more grateful
We tend to look mostly at what we don’t have, or how much we still want in life, and we constantly compare ourselves to others. This causes a feeling of ingratitude for our blessings. Feeling content with what you have and thanking Allah SWT for his bounty, is a trait that we all can work on performing a lot more. Expressing gratitude to Allah SWT is one of the best ways to attain closeness to Him SWT and was a regular trait of the Prophet SAW.
You can show gratitude (shukr) either with the heart by being submissive, tranquil and content, with the tongue by praising Allah SWT and acknowledging His favors, and with the limbs by performing acts of worship and showing obedience. The best way to show gratitude to Allah SWT is through our hearts, tongues, and limbs.
You can recite al-Hamdu lillah (all praise is for Allah) or al-Shukr lillah (all thanks is for Allah), or even better the Prophet SAW said,
“One of the slaves of Allah said: O Allah, for You is all praise as befits the Glory of Your Countenance and the Greatness of Your Might. The angels were then uncertain and did not know what (reward) to record for this praise. They ascended to the heaven and said: O our Lord, Your slave has said a praise that we do not know how to record. Allah replied – and He knows best what His slave said – “What did My slave say?” They said: O Lord, he said: O Allah, for You is all praise as befits the Glory of Your Countenance and the Greatness of Your Might. Allah then replied: Record it as My slave pronounced it, until he meets Me and I shall [personally] reward him for it.”
Of course, we can never thank Allah enough, and whenever we thank Allah, it is through His guidance and favour. Thus every praise and thanks require us to thank and praise Allah again. So the more we thank him, the more reward.
4. Improve your modesty
You can pick something that you are aware is not modest about yourself and pledge to change it. So whether you start to wear longer tops or less tight pants, make a change for your Lord! A long time ago, I committed to stop shaking hands with the opposite gender no matter what the situation. This is hard for many in the workplace or who live in western countries. It’s difficult because the other party doesn’t usually understand the reasons and may feel insulted – which isn’t great for a first meeting! But if you do it with the proper etiquette and a warm smile, it isn’t so bad! More importantly, the feeling you get in your heart for pleasing your Creator trumps the awkwardness and embarrassment aspect any day. For an idea what to do, I follow what Shaykh Faraz Rabbani mentions,
“It is better to just do the right thing. One way is to inform them beforehand and to explain why. Then, when the time comes, just to make eye contact, smile, and place one’s hand on one’s chest. It helps when explaining it to mention that this is also the practice of others (like conservative Jews and persons of some other faith backgrounds, as a conservative Muslim I don’t shake hands with unrelated individuals of the opposite sex, as an expression of respect and modesty. Or something like that.)”
5. Call on Allah through His Names
A beautiful habit to formulate is to recite the 99 Names of Allah SWT daily and to get your children to do the same. It takes less than five minutes. Since I have started to say His SWT’s Names, I feel closer to Allah as I understand who He SWT is. Also, when I call upon Allah to help me, I will use a specific Name of Allah for the kind of protection I need. So, for example, if you’re making dua to Allah for relief from someone who is wronging you, call upon Allah using one of his Names like “Al-‘Adl” the Utterly Just.
6. Make dhikr part of your day
Some people think dhikr is hectic when it’s really not. If you aim to say “Alhumdulillah” 33 times, Subhanallah 33 times and Allahu Akbar 34 times after your fard salah it takes less than 2 mins! You can start by saying it after one salah at first and add it to your other salah slowly one at a time. Keep a tasbih in your handbag or you can wear it as a bracelet so you have one on hand when you are waiting in the car or at an appointment, or just use your fingers! I also try to say “astaghfirullah” in increments of 33 times when I have a moment because we sin all the time and should be constantly asking Allah for forgiveness. The Prophet SAW said;
“I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.” (Al-Bukhari).
7. Make special dua for your children
Our biggest concern as parents is for our children to grow up righteous and honorable. The dua of a parent is strong and so we should take advantage of this opportunity to pray for our children. Many times, I think we just don’t remember or know what to say. To make it easier, I found this beautiful resource and now I try to say this dua each day for my children. You do not need to say it all because it is rather long instead, you can say the parts that you want and also add what you want to it. I found this dua quite comprehensive so I like to say it all when I can. However, on busy days you can pick to say the most important parts.Read the dua here The Powerful Dua of a Parent.
8. Fit in tahajjud
Don’t forget about the amazing benefits of tahajjud salah. You can even pray this salah before Fajr salah or after Isha salah, though it is best to pray it in the deeper part of the night. However, if it is a hardship it is better not to miss it. The Messenger of Allah SAW said,
“The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.” [Muslim]“Hold fast to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.” [Tirmidhi] In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) said, “The virtues of night prayer over day prayer is like the virtue of secret charity over open charity.” [Tabarani]
The tahajjud prayer is life-changing, so if you are going through any hardship, try this prayer and feel the difference. It’s extremely powerful and grants peace in one’s heart.
9. Try praying salat-al haja
The prayer of need (salat-al haja) is to raise your need to Allah SWT through prayer and heartfelt dua. The Prophet SAW said;
“Whoever has a need with Allah, or with any human being, then let them perform ritual ablutions well and then pray two rakats. After that, let them praise Allah and send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). After this, let them say, There there no god but Allah the Clement and Wise. There is no god but Allah the High and Mighty. Glory be to Allah, Lord of the Tremendous Throne. All praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds. I ask you (O Allah) everything that leads to your mercy, and your tremendous forgiveness, enrichment in all good, and freedom from all sin. Do not leave a sin of mine (O Allah), except that you forgive it, nor any concern except that you create for it an opening, nor any need in which there is your good pleasure except that you fulfill it, O Most Merciful!” (Related by Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja)
When you make this prayer and your supplication is heartfelt, it will expose your neediness and absolute slavehood to Allah SWT. You are consigning your matters to Allah and believing that the only one who gives or benefits is Allah SWT. After you pray and supplicate, you should be certain that Allah SWT will answer your duas, but in the way, He knows is best for you. Salat-al haja is another amazing prayer to instill in your life.
10. Be aware of backbiting
Sometimes you may not be aware that you are backbiting. It takes concerted effort not to say something about someone, especially if you mix with people a lot or follow your friends and family on social media. The Prophet SAW said,
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should say the good or remain silent.” [Bukhari]
The general rule is that you can talk about others as long as the conversation is generic and not revealing their sin, making a complaint or mockery of them, or mentioning anything concerning a person that he would dislike. So if you feel yourself slipping or slip up by backbiting someone, seek Allah’s Forgiveness immediately, remember that we all have faults and things are not always what it seems. Make this change with the intention of seeking Allah’s SWT Good Pleasure.
11. Make special dua for your parents
If your parents are alive, honor them and serve them. Give them the best of yourself and let go of petty arguments, then make dua for them daily. If your parents have passed away, like mine, you can still honour them by making dua for them and asking Allah SWT to forgive you for your disobedience or any pain and hurt you may have brought upon them. Here is a Supplication of Courtesy to Parents if you want some ideas what to say in your dua for your parents.
12. Read the Quran with understanding
Read the Quran in your language of understanding or read the tafsir. Formulate a time in the evenings, like after maghrib salah to read the meaning of a sura with your children. You can also let each child take turns to read a portion each time you have this gathering. At first, your kids may moan, so did mine, but alhamdulillah they start to appreciate the beauty of the words they read. Also, the Quran is filled with stories so they will love that part and it will kick off discussions in history and seerah.
13. Refresh your Quran memorization
I used to know by heart so many more suras as a child, but now I have become rusty with some of them. I committed to start from the end of Juz amma and work my way up to refresh my memorization of the suras that I have forgotten. Alternatively, if you need to memorize more suras, start now and help your children do the same. My children’s Quran teacher once told me that we should all memorize Juz Amma (the last juz of the Quran) as a minimum, so that’s a goal we could set for ourselves and our kids inshAllah.
14. Make your intention for Allah
Try to do what you do, but be aware of setting your intention for Allah SWT. An intention is for the heart to firmly resolve to perform an action and to draw closer to Allāh when initiating the action. There are three aspects to an intention,
The minimum legally valid intention, which is to firmly resolve to perform an action
The intention needed for reward, which is to also intend to draw closer to Allāh
The time, it is a condition that the intention is made as one initiated the action, or just before it.
Sayyidi Ibn al-Arabi says in his What the Seeker Needs:
“Do everything you do in order to come close to your Lord in your worship and prayers. Think that each deed may be your last act, each prayer your last prostration, that you may not have another chance. If you do this, it will be another motivation for becoming heedful and also for becoming sincere and truthful. Allah does not accept good deeds done unconsciously and insincerely as readily as deeds done in consciousness and sincerity.”Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak said, “How often it is that a small action is made great by its intention, and a great action is made small by its intention.” (Source: Seekershub)
15. Perform charity more often
Try to implement one small charitable act per day and one bigger charitable act per month. This can be where you are helping someone or making another feel good. Your time is a great way to be charitable. Make charity a part of your life! If you earn money, pay a small amount each month from your paycheck to a charity, even if it is just $5! Besides your barakah increasing, you will feel good in your heart. It’s when we do nothing that we feel restless and guilty in our hearts. Break the urge to hoard wealth and commit to giving more of your sustenance to others. Only good will come from this inshAllah.
16. Be kinder to your family
Sometimes we tend to treat other family members and acquaintances better than our own spouse and kids. I have witnessed moms’ who are doing wonderful charitable acts for the community, yet they find their kids a nuisance and reprimand them harshly in public. To be honest, I don’t get that because charity begins first in the home. If you notice that your patience is lacking with the ones you love the most, set the resolution to be kinder and talk nicer to your spouse and kids. Compare how you would talk to them if they were your friend or even a stranger. You wouldn’t be talking to them that way, see the difference?
17. Keep more in touch
Set a time each week, by placing a reminder on your phone with an alarm to keep in touch with family, especially close ones. Don’t let social media be your only contact with the people you care about. Send a text or call your parents, brother, sister, grandparents etc. regularly. Life is short and before you know it, someone you care about could pass away and you’ll live with the regret that you didn't keep in touch more. It’s not lack of time that is the only factor when you don’t keep in touch, but also when you do not make something important a priority.
18. Study your faith
Commit to begin learning one aspect of your deen well, and when you have, start learning another. Alternatively, pick up a course at Seekershub Course Offerings and start your journey to increasing your knowledge of deen. One of the things I’ve noticed when I study Islam is how much easier the deen is compared to what I thought. I have learned that the rules are not always black and white or carved in stone. Rather, a lot of rulings are best advised from a shaykh who has studied the deen, and not to be interpreted by ourselves, which causes more hardship. The rulings are also guided by logic, circumstance, the times we live in, and the laws of the land. It has been eye-opening for me and I strongly advise the seeking of knowledge for parents especially.
19. Make more personal dua
Finally, I’ve made the commitment to make more dua and to talk to Allah SWT as much as I can. There are so many things that I want to say in my duas but a lot of the time I forget. So I wrote down all the things I want to ask in my dua and now when I forget, I open up the notepad app on my phone and read out the things I want to ask from Allah SWT. Also try to make your dua more heartfelt and begin by asking Allah for forgiveness, praising him, saying thank you, and then making humble and earnest dua.
20. Analyze your honesty
Most days we perform one transaction or another. We are being tested continually by how we handle our affairs. The small dishonest things we do could be lessening our blessings. So for example, your cashier at the grocery store did not charge you for one item, do you call to rectify it? You are returning an item at the store that you broke, but saying it was broken, is it worth it? It may seem that you are getting away with this and saving money, but these are all forms of dishonesty and your barakah is being diminished. A good resolution is to become more aware of your honesty and realize that our children are watching the example we set. The Prophet SAW was known for his honesty and integrity, and that's who we want our kids to follow inshAllah!
I may not keep everything I set, but I believe in reaching for the stars and aiming high, so my accomplishments can surmise to a decent amount of effort. As I said before, do not feel daunted by these goals because consistency is more beloved to Allah than quantity. The Prophet SAW said;
“The most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it is small”. (Bukhaari and Muslim)
The Prophet SAW also said;
"Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” (Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240)
So choose a few goals for yourself or set some new ones that I haven't mentioned. The key is to continually improve yourself and not get stuck in a spiritual rut. Set some resolutions today and don’t make excuses why you can’t do it. Start with even one and turn it into a habit. Add another as you can manage. I speak from experience when I say it will bring you success and increase your wisdom.