Parents should guide all the areas of life

Motivation in Islamic Perspective

The simplest definition of the word ‘motivation’ is ‘that which drives us to action’. It may be one or more intrinsic and extrinsic factors that trigger a desire or need to behave in a certain way. The desire is usually coupled with a potential consequence – either reward or punishment. Motivation is a concept applied across all ages and all environments; from homes to classrooms, from offices to public life. Allah says:

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ وَالدَّوَابِّ وَالْأَنْعَامِ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ كَذَٰلِكَ إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى اللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ الْعُلَمَاءُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ غَفُورٌ

“And among people and moving creatures and grazing livestock are various colours similarly. Only those fear Allah, from among His servants, who know. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Forgiving.” (Surah Fatir 35:28)

Believe it or not, you have motivation and willpower within you. You may not know it, but you have already motivated yourself many times in your life. During those times of strong motivation and willpower, you most likely overcame many obstacles. It allows those in authority to exercise expectations without force and for those under authority to concede without much effort. Allah says:

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا

“And has decreed your Lord, that (do) not worship except Him Alone and to the (be) good. Whether reach with you the old age one of them, or both of them, then (do) not say to both of them a word of disrespect and (do) not repel them, but speak to them a word noble.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:23)

Sometimes we feel the motivation to learn about Islam and search through the internet to satisfy our curiosities. But then we can’t keep up the motivation enough to make any significant progress. It takes a lot of willpower to teach yourself. And to strengthen that willpower, we need to provide ourselves with good incentives to go on. You need some energy for self-motivation. When you find energy boosters that work for you, make a list and keep them handy for future use.

How does Islam help in keeping you motivated for self-improvement:

  1. Take learning Islam as an act of worship
  2. Understanding ‘inner’ & ‘outer’ success
  3. Learn a little at a time, but continuously
  4. Remember that laziness will be around
  5. Make the Quran for your guidance
  6. Choose one item for each day
  7. Clearing off your mental desk
  8. Talk your way to motivation
  9. Prepare yourself mentally
  10. Always review progress
  11. Establish daily Prayer
  12. Check your intention
  13. Plan, plan, plan
  14. Stimulate desire
  15. Find Your Intention
  16. Build a reward system
  17. Diagnosing the root cause
  18. Take breaks and make plans
  19. Always make time to learn Islam
  20. Learn Islam everywhere and every time
  21. Call upon me, I will respond. (Quran 40:60)
  22. Space out your studying – like your prayers
  23. Remember the rewards will be given to you
  24. Take a deep breath, and sincerely ask yourself

Make a list of all areas of your life in which you feel you need closure. The list should be one-page maximum. Once you have your list, go over the list and prioritize them according to which ones are robbing you of the most energy; those issues are the ones we want to handle first. Allah says:

وَعِبَادُ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَى الْأَرْضِ هَوْنًا وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الْجَاهِلُونَ قَالُوا سَلَامًا

“And (the) slaves (of) the Most Gracious (are) those who walk on the earth (in) humbleness and when addressing them the ignorant ones, they say, “Peace.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:63)

It is important for Muslims to always remember that Satan exists. Satan would much prefer to do his work in secret and for us to be moving around in circles. He is against any kind of success for the Muslim, be it in this world or the hereafter. Remember that laziness and procrastination are some of Satan’s weapons to use against the believer. Seek refuge in Allah from Satan, and let go of his shackles.

Allah Almighty says about Motivational Verses from the Quran:

  • “Is there any reward for good other than good?” (Quran 55:60)
  • “Say, He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge.” (Quran 112:1-2)
  • “And whoever holds firmly to Allah has [indeed] been guided to a straight path.” (Quran 3:101)
  • “And incline not toward those who do wrong, lest the Fire should touch you, and you have no protectors other than Allah, nor you would then be helped.” (Quran 11:113)
  • “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” (Quran 2:155)
  • “O you who believe! be patient and excel in patience and remain steadfast, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, that you may be successful.” (Quran 3:200)
  • “No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things.” (Quran 64:11)
  • “Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Quran 3:31)
  • “And We have not sent you (O Muhammad SAW) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, but most men know not.” (Quran 34:28)
  • “And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” (Quran 2:45)
  • And We have sent you (O Muhammad SAW) not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).” (Quran 21:107)
  • “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Quran 2:153)

Make a list of the things you would like to teach your child. Make this as detailed as you can. This is to help you realize how much there is to cover. The purpose here is not to get overwhelmed but to help you plan. If there are topics that you feel you do not have sufficient knowledge in, use this as motivation to seek this knowledge for yourself first. Get the help of others, this will provide others with the opportunity to gain reward. Allah says:

وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ

“And seek help through patience and the prayer; and indeed, it (is) surely difficult except on the humble ones.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:45)

No matter what kind of struggle we are going through in life, Allah’s help is always near. Therefore, we should ask, and ask again and again from Allah. Not only is Allah happy to respond to His slave (as narrated in a hadith in Tirmidhi), it is also an act of worship to make dua. Allah says:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ

“And surely We will test you with something of [the] fear and [the] hunger and loss of [the] wealth and [the] lives and [the] fruits, but give good news (to) the patient ones.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Keeping the remainder of the bounties that await the good-doer and inevitable transition of death at the forefront of our lives entices us to cultivate good manners, to be remembered as a good person, and to leave something that benefits those that come after us. Thus, the Islamic guidance for motivation is not just to serve human beings at an individual level, but rather mankind as a whole.