Balancing the Life of a Muslim

Question and answer details
As-salamu `alaykum. Dear brothers. I have a big problem, I don’t understand Islam until now. First I thought that Islam is only to pray, fast, read Quran, etc. So I spent my whole day only in praying, reading Quran, fasting, etc. Then I heard that Islam is not only to worship but also to be good at university, at work, etc. So then I worked hard for university and worshiped Allah. Then I heard that Islam is also to do sports, to have a healthy body, to be active politically, to be a "Romeo" to one’s wife, to have spare time, to make jihad, to invent new things, and many other things. Then I heard that worshiping Allah is not only to pray and to fast and to read Qur’an, but it’s also to make adhkar (remembrance and mentioning of God by heart and tongue), to read Qur’an, to be friendly to parents, to be generous, not to be rude, and … and … and … many other things. I have now two problems: First I can’t balance my life between Islam, politics, wife, university, sports, etc. I don’t know who should get the greater part of my time, and how I should organize my day to do all what Islam wants. Second, Islam becomes too much to me; now I don’t know how to do all this, reading Quran, adhkar, fasting, praying, good character, listening to Quran, befriending religious persons … and many other things. I can’t sum up all this, it becomes too much for me. So please advise me how to solve these two problems.
Waleed Ahmed Najmeddine
Salam dear brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

In fact, your detailed question simply reflects your sincerity and anxiousness to make of yourself a real good Muslim. Yet, you need not take things so hard, because definitely Allah knows how sincere you are and how willing you want to please Him. All you need to do is to take things step by step and to concentrate more on organizing your time between your different duties in life.

It goes without saying that there are many demands on us as Muslims. We have a lot of work to do but unfortunately there are not enough of us living up to the responsibilities Muslims face in this day and age.

First, we have a vital need to learn and understand Islam so that we may practice it in the way that pleases Allah most. We do this so that we may lead peaceful and successful lives here on earth and, in sha’ Allah are granted Allah’s mercy in the next life in Paradise.

Once we have a solid footing in understanding and practicing our faith, we must then invite others to Islam in the most proper and effective ways we can. This alone is a tremendous undertaking considering that there is such widespread ignorance of Islam in the world today. Defending Islam against those who seek to curb its growth and against those who abuse Muslims is also a major concern for all of us who are sincere in our desire to create strong bonds of brotherhood among Prophet Muhammad’s followers (peace be upon him). We need to advance the condition of Muslims in the world today and restore the authority of Allah and His commands for the benefit of all mankind.

Of course, none of us can accomplish these things on our own. Nor can we do all of these things at once, as much as we’d like to. Setting priorities and establishing balance in our lives is most important. Priorities start with the fard, or obligatory acts of worship (`ibadat) and deeds (mu`amalat). This means that we have responsibilities towards Allah first, the One Who created us and provides us with everything we need in this life. We need to obey Him because we trust that He will only command us what benefits us and only forbids us to do those things which cause us harm.

The importance of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is that he provides guidance and interpretation of Allah’s commands. The Quran provides guidance for all of mankind but cannot give us information regarding all of the details we come across in our daily lives. We will never match Prophet Muhammad’s piety and wisdom, but we are not expected to. Prophet Muhammad has encouraged us to hold fast to the Quran and then to follow his ways to the best of our ability.

We need to build our own faith and understanding of Islam, and then work on our surroundings. As I mentioned above, we cannot do everything all at once. Our bodies have rights over us. Getting enough nutrition, sleep, and exercise are very important, but we do not spend all of our time in these things. Our families and friends have rights over us, but we do not spend all of our time and efforts trying to please them alone. Our society has rights over us, but we do not devote ourselves to serving it at the expense of neglecting ourselves and loved ones. It is better to pick a cause to strive for and become excellent in it, rather than to spread yourself too thin working for many causes at once and therefore failing to give each one the attention and effort it deserves.

To summarize, basically the priorities we need to set as Muslims should be as follows:
    1. Allah: following His commands and worshiping Him
    2. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): implementing his Sunnah (traditions & habits) as much as possible
    3. Parents: obeying and being kind to them
    4. Spouses and children: cherishing and protecting them
    5. Extended family: honoring and being kind to them
    6. Fellow Muslims and friends: loving them and encouraging them to do what is right
    7. Society: working to improve its condition and guiding it towards Allah.
This does not mean that we cannot focus on more than one thing at a time, only that we should never exert too much effort on things lower down on the list at the expense of those things higher up on the list.

I hope this helps you with your concerns about keeping up with all of the demands on your time and efforts. I ask Allah to forgive us all for our mistakes and to guide us all to what pleases Him Alone. Ameen.

Thank you and please keep in touch.


Useful Links:

How to Be a Good Muslim

How to Be a True Muslim

The Muslim Character

Calling to Islam by Setting Examples

Calling by Our Character

Manners of the Prophet – a Brief Account