Spiritual Burnout

Futoor is defined in the Arabic dictionary as halting after being in motion, or to become lazy and listless after having been active and energetic. Here, in this guide to assessing and refining our souls in the context of Islamic work, we translated the word futoor as spiritual burnout, a common roadblock that afflicts almost every activist at some point during which he or she may slow down significantly or even drop out of Islamic work and the practice of good deeds. Futoor in this context can also be translated as slackening, reduced productivity, dropping out, laziness, or apathy. 

Once active, driven, and positive, the individual infected by spiritual burnout becomes distracted from their original aims. Its mildest symptoms include laziness and lack of initiative, while the most severe symptoms are dropping out of Islamic work and neglecting the cause of Allah completely. 

It creeps up on me when I go a long time without any kind of spiritual recharge. Maybe I get too busy, or maybe just lazy, but I stop connecting with my source of motivation. As my fuel tank grows emptier, I run on fumes and easy distractions, like reality TV, internet, and food. The most rewarding things in my life, like helping in my MSA and going to the mosque on Fridays start to feel cumbersome. I skip meetings, slack off, and easily grow frustrated with others. I even start asking myself questions like, ‘What’s the point? Nothing changes. I’m eventually going to fail anyway, so why keep working so hard?’ It’s a very slippery slope.

You might be experiencing spiritual burnout if: 

  • Your responsibilities feel more burdensome than usual. You have to drag yourself to perform in the field of Islamic work and are tempted to drop out of activities that were once a habit. 

  • You are performing less worship than usual. The five prayers, reading Quran daily, and performing basic acts of worship feel tedious. You are barely performing the minimum requirements. 

  • You were once much more active. Then, life shifted. Maybe you got a job, got married, graduated, moved to a different city, or had a disagreement with someone. You fell short of your former habits of activism and diligence. 

  • You are cynical of the community and people who are working for Islam. We all are familiar with this negative discourse and canceling of good works: “Leaders are bad, scholars are backward, organizations are useless, and no one is skilled, organized, or charismatic enough.” 

  • You waste a lot of time. Once you spent much of your time volunteering, working, learning, and attending noble gatherings. Now the distribution of your time has shifted towards more self-centered preoccupations. 

Burnout: Inside or out? 

We typically understand burnout as physical and emotional exhaustion due to external stresses, but the Islamic concept of futoor encompasses more than this limited concept. Spiritual burnout is just as often caused by internal ailments, such as forgetting death and the afterlife, befriending the wrong people, misconceptions about life and Islamic work, or over-indulgence. 

We easily recognize physical and mental burnout because of the weariness and sense of overwhelm it brings about; spiritual burnout can be more subtle, manifesting as decreased worship, withered vision, and a reluctance to volunteer effort or money for the sake of Allah. We can think of this decrease in commitment and momentum as burnout not only of the mind and body, but also of the heart.

A form of the word futoor can be found in the Quran. Allah describes the angels’ ceaseless glorification: 

وَلَهُۥ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَمَنْ عِندَهُۥ لَا يَسْتَكْبِرُونَ عَنْ عِبَادَتِهِۦ وَلَا يَسْتَحْسِرُونَ ۝  يُسَبِّحُونَ ٱلَّيْلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ لَا يَفْتُرُونَ۝ 

To Him belong all those in the heavens and the earth. And those nearest to Him are not too proud to worship Him, nor do they tire. They glorify day and night, never wavering. [21:19-20] 

In these verses, “never wavering” indicates that the angels are in constant worship, glorifying Allah and declaring His supremacy. They pray and mention Allah night and day, never waning or growing weary in their constant glorification.1 

Causes of Spiritual Burnout 

This chapter will explore a number of reasons that someone who was once actively engaged in community service and Islamic work can begin to disengage and burnout. They include: 

  • Overindulgence 

  • Isolation 

  • Forgetting death and the Afterlife 

  • Neglecting daily worship 

  • Consuming what is prohibited or unethical 

  • Focusing only on one aspect of religion 

  • Ignoring Allah’s patterns and divine ways 

  • Physical exhaustion 

  • Lack of preparation for challenges 

  • Friends who drag you down 

  • Lack of organized priorities 

  • Belittling the effects of small sins 

  • Excessiveness in Worship 


Too much of something permissible—even something good—can be harmful and will cause spiritual burnout. Overindulgence leads to apathy, desensitization of the heart, obesity, and laziness. It is the main channel through which passion and desire overwhelm intellect and moral conscience. Even when it doesn’t stop us from moving forward, overindulgence will slow us down and delay the achievement of our goals. 

This might be the underlying reason for which Allah and His Messenger prohibited us from being excessive in any regard. Allah says, 

يَٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ خُذُوا۟ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوٓا۟ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُسْرِفِينَ۝ 

Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely He does not like the wasteful. [7:31] 

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “The human being does not fill any container worse than his own stomach.”

The early generation of Muslims understood very well the dangers of excessiveness and warned against it. The Mother of the Believers, Aishah, observed, “The first test that happened to this nation after the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم passing was being full. When people’s stomachs are full, their bodies grow fat, their hearts grow weak, and their passions grow wild.”3 These wise words of Aishah draw a connection between overindulgence and a weakened resolve and commitment to the mission. The great Companion Umar ibn al-Khattab once said, 

Beware of gluttony in food and drink, for it ruins the body, causes disease, and makes you too lazy to pray. Be keen on moderation, for it is better for the body and prevents excessiveness. Allah dislikes the fat scholar, and a person is not destroyed completely until he favors his desire over his religion.4 

Numerous spiritual diseases can be traced to excess and overindulgence. An early scholar of the spiritual sciences, Abu Sulaymān al-Dārāni, said that there were six spiritual shortcomings connected to having a full stomach: lack of sweetness in speaking to Allah, the inability to retain knowledge, the loss of empathy for others, difficulty in performing physical acts of worship, the increase of lustful desires, and spending long amounts of time in places other than the mosque.

Indulgence in the Technology Age 

There are dimensions to overindulgence that go beyond food and physical appetites. Our easy access to technology opens the door to all kinds of new indulgences, some forbidden and some not, but even those that are permissible are detrimental in large doses. The hadiths and sayings about overeating most certainly apply to these other forms of indulgence as well. Social media and entertainment outlets are meticulously designed to steal our time and sabotage our ability to focus. A Muslim community glued to their screens will be unable to uphold the mission entrusted to them. A lack of awareness and control over how we consume technology can easily cripple us as Islamic workers and harm the entire community. 


The road of working for Islam is a long one. There are many transitions, hills to climb, obstacles to overcome, and the results often seem beyond our reach. When we try to go it alone, isolated from the community, we will find it nearly impossible to stay constant and maintain momentum. There are no team members to remind us of Allah, supporting and cheering us on, renewing our vision and determination, inspiring us to stay firm. Alone, it is easy to grow fatigued and disinterested. When inevitable challenges arise along the road, the isolated, disengaged Muslim will slow down and feel dispirited, if not give up altogether. 

This is why Islam stresses the importance of collective work and being part of a jama‘ah, a mission-driven community. Mobilizing through organized work and journeying as a community for the sake of Allah around a direction and a mission is one of the highest forms of obedience to God. 


Jama‘ah: a group or community that works together; the congregation, the majority; sometimes used in con text of an Islamic movement.

The Quran warns us against isolating ourselves, separating from the mission and vision of the community and going it alone: 

وَٱعْتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبْلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا۟

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided. [3:103] 

وَتَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقْوَىٰ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْإِثْمِ وَٱلْعُدْوَٰنِ

Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression. [5:2] 

وَأَطِيعُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ وَلَا تَنَٰزَعُوا۟ فَتَفْشَلُوا۟ وَتَذْهَبَ رِيحُكُمْ

Obey Allah and His Messenger and do not dispute with one another, or else you would falter and your dominance would dwindle. [8:46] 

وَلَا تَكُونُوا۟ كَٱلَّذِينَ تَفَرَّقُوا۟ وَٱخْتَلَفُوا۟ مِنۢ بَعْدِ مَا جَآءَهُمُ ٱلْبَيِّنَٰتُ وَأُو۟لَٰٓئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ۝ 

And do not be like those who split and differed after clear proofs had come to them. It is they who will suffer a tremendous punishment. [3:105] 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم often spoke about the importance of remaining within the community. He said, 

Stay in the jama‘ah, and beware of splitting, for Satan is with the one who is alone but farther from the pair. Who ever wants the summit of Paradise must then remain with the jama‘ah.5 

He also said, “Whoever departs from the jamaah by a handspan has removed the tie of Islam from his neck.”

In addition to warning against the dangers of splitting from the community, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم made a point to highlight the benefits of remaining within the community despite the difficulties. He said, 

The believer who interacts with the people and is patient with their harm has more reward than the believer who does not interact with people and is not patient with their harm.7 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم planted these values in the hearts of his Companions. They valued the mission-driven community and saw it as indispens able to practicing Islam holistically and maintaining their high levels of commitment. Due to our individualistic and materialistic culture, we have veered significantly from valuing the collective in this way. 

One of the early predecessors said, “The trouble of a community is better than the peace of mind of an individual.” This spirit was embodied naturally by later generations following the Companions. Abdullab bin al-Mubarak, who was born about a century after the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم passed away, writes that, “Were it not for the jama‘ah, we would never have gained any traction and the weak among us would be easy prey for the strong.” Ibn al-Mubarak was highlighting the mission-driven community as the primary ingredient for the successful spread of Islam, and emphasized the ultimate goal of justice as a goal the jama‘ah must strive for. 

Forgetting death and the Afterlife 

Forgetting the reality of death and the Afterlife can lead to a weakening of our will and motivation. When we are conscious of our looming death and entry into the next existence, our spirituality and commitment to Islam stays sharp and focused. In light of this, you can see the wisdom behind the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم instructions to visit graves after having prohibited it. He said to his Companions, “I forbade you from visiting graves, but now visit them, for there is a lesson therein.”8 In another wording he said, “I once forbade you from visiting graves, but now visit graves, for doing so leads to better restraint in this life and reminds of the next.”

We can also see clearly why he صلى الله عليه وسلم was so keen on instructing his Companions to keep their own mortality in mind. Remembering death keeps the soul responsive and active. He addressed them one day and said, “People! Be shy with Allah as He deserves to be!” One man said, “Messenger of Allah, we are shy of Allah, the Exalted.” He replied

Whoever among you is shy of Allah should not spend a single night wherein his death is not the first thing on his mind. He should safeguard his stomach and what it contains, his head and what it holds. He should remember death and the test of life, and he should leave off the glamor of this world.10

Neglecting daily worship

Neglecting one’s individual duty to worship can also lead him or her to falter and burn out. Our daily worship regimen is designed to keep us on track spiritually, and if we are neglecting it, we should not be surprised when we lose momentum and feel demoralized. Some might sleep through Fajr prayer because they stayed up all night in unproductive conversations, or neglect to perform the sunnah prayers throughout the day. Some of us go days, weeks, or months without ever reciting or engaging with the Quran on a level beyond the audible. We might consider ourselves too busy (but in reality, too lazy) to perform proper thikr (remembrance) or go to the mosque for prayer. All of these choices and misaligned priorities have consequences that will manifest in our behavior and character. 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم indicated the dangers of failing to solidify an individual routine and commitment to worship. He said, 

Satan ties three knots on the nape of your neck when you sleep, sealing each knot saying, ‘You have a long night, so sleep.’ If you wake up and mention Allah, one knot is undone. If you make Wudu, another is undone. Then if you pray, the other is undone, and you arise energetic and good-spirited. Otherwise, you wake up disturbed within and lethargic.11 

Consuming the prohibited or unethical 

When our vehicle runs on contaminated fuel, we may find ourselves stranded on the roadway. Similarly, fueling our bodies with impure sustenance will lead to lethargy in worship and good deeds. 

You don’t have to eat pork or drink alcohol to have something haram (prohibited) in your system. Many of us succumb to impure consumption simply by shortchanging or failing to perfect the daily work we get paid for, or indulging in dealings that fall into what we call the “gray area.” These have subtle, destructive effects on our souls, and lead to our falling short in our worship and good deeds. Our prayer becomes a purely physical endeavor, and our dua (supplication) is void of the delightful feeling of being connected with our Creator. 

Islam makes it clear that we must pay close attention to consuming what is permissible and avoiding anything with even the slightest doubt with regards to its permissibility. Notice in the following verse how Allah draws a connection between eating what is permissible and not following “Satan’s footsteps,” showing us clearly how being negligent of what we consume can eventually lead to more consequential sins:

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ كُلُوا۟ مِمَّا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ حَلَٰلًا طَيِّبًا وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ۝

O humanity! Eat from what is lawful and good on the earth and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. He is truly your sworn enemy. [2:168] 

Allah also ties eating what is good and lawful to being grateful to Him. We can deduce from this that choosing to eat what is impermissible or dubious is an act of ingratitude and a failure to thank Him for all of the good that He made available to us: 

فَكُلُوا۟ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ ٱللَّهُ حَلَٰلًا طَيِّبًا وَٱشْكُرُوا۟ نِعْمَتَ ٱللَّهِ إِن كُنتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ۝

So eat from the good, lawful things which Allah has provided for you, and be grateful for Allah’s favors, if you worship Him. [16:114] 

And then, out of His mercy and generosity, He reminds us that even if we think we can commit these crimes under the radar, without anyone around us ever knowing, He is intricately aware of what we do at all times. 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلرُّسُلُ كُلُوا۟ مِنَ ٱلطَّيِّبَٰتِ وَٱعْمَلُوا۟ صَٰلِحًا إِنِّى بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ عَلِيمٌ۝

O messengers! Eat from what is good and lawful, and act righteously. Indeed, I fully know what you do. [23:51] 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم dedicated much of his time and energy to teaching us the importance of eating only what is good and pure. He said, “The Hellfire is most entitled to every body that grows out of filth,”12 meaning that is sustained by what is impermissible. He also said, 

What is halal is clear, what is haram is clear, and between them are dubious matters. Whoever leaves off any sin that is dubious is even more cautious when it comes to what is clear. But whoever takes the risk with a sin that is doubtful is likely to fall into what is clear. Sins are God’s forbidden land, and whoever grazes alongside the forbidden land is likely to trespass into it.13 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم once said to his grandson, “Leave off what gives you doubt for what does not give you doubt.”14 And just as he cared to nurture and raise his own kin on this principle, Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم taught the Muslims for generations thereafter by leading through example. He was hyperconscious of what he consumed, always opting on the side of caution. When he once found a date on the ground, he refused to eat it, saying, “Had I not feared that it was designated for charity, I would have eaten it.”15 

This example left a deep impact in the way Muslims operated, especially in the first generations. The early Muslim generations would thoroughly investigate everything they consumed and engaged in, practicing caution in what they ate, drank, wore, and even what they used as vehicles. If they found even the slightest reason to doubt the permissibility of something, they avoided it completely out of fear that it would lead them to committing sin and corrupting their hearts. They feared deprivation of good deeds and acceptance more than they feared deprivation of anything worldly. An example is this incident that Aishah narrated: 

Abu Bakr had a servant who used to bring him some food paid for from his earnings. One day, he brought something and Abu Bakr ate from it. The servant commented, “Do you know how I got the money for this?” Abu Bakr asked him to explain. The man said, “Once, in the pre-Islamic period, I foretold somebody’s future though I did not know how to tell fortunes and cheated him. He gave me some money for that service and this is what you are eating from.” Abu Bakr immediately forced himself to vomit, expelling all that he had consumed.16 

Focusing only on one aspect of religion

Another cause of spiritual burnout is an imbalance in our under standing of Islam. Some students, teachers, and preachers make the mistake of giving their attention to only one out of the many sciences in our religion. They sacrifice even a basic understanding of other Islamic sciences for the one they feel is the most important.

Anyone who falls into this trap is inevitably bound to suffer spiritual burnout, for the dimensions of Islam complement each other. Islam is a religion that encompasses all facets of our life. Choosing to only take part in a portion of it is a flawed approach; it would be as if someone chose to only engage in one part of human life, neglecting the components that they dislike or don’t care for. Thus it is natural that when one exhausts a single component of Islam, they feel as if there is no more work to be done, and so they either slow their pace or stop moving forward completely. 

Allah’s methodology is holistic. We learn this from the clear dis course of the Quran, wherein Allah teaches us to take Islam as a whole and not in parts: 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱدْخُلُوا۟ فِى ٱلسِّلْمِ كَآفَّةً وَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ خُطُوَٰتِ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ إِنَّهُۥ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ۝

O believers! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly and do not follow Satan’s footsteps. Surely he is your sworn enemy. [2:208] 

To “enter Islam wholeheartedly” means to act upon all branches of our faith and pay mind to all of the duties of Islam. Allah then warns us against following Satan, who is working hard to divert you from this wholesome and holistic approach to God’s religion. Satan knows that driving a person to delve deeply into one aspect of Islamic practice at the expense of the others will eventually lead them to lose momentum. 

Ignoring Allah's patterns and divine ways

We often see a group among those who work for Islam who aim to change society as a whole. They hope to uproot everything around them, including people’s thoughts, emotions, traditions, behaviors, and social structures. Their objectives span every level of existence, from local to political to economic, and they expect it all to happen overnight. Even their approach is idealistic and grandiose, lacking any element of practicality. This naive and erroneous approach can quickly lead to frustration and burnout. 

Even though the intention may be righteous, such individuals fail to use the tools that Allah gave us, with which we are expected to operate in the world. They do not take into account the patterns and constants upon which Allah structures our lives and environments, such as the importance of gradual growth, the necessity of patience and purification, and the reality that victory ultimately returns to those who are most conscious of Allah, not the most worldly and vocal. They overlook the temporality of everything in this world. No one can edit Allah’s timeline. When they eventually experience the gritty reality and realize that things were not as they had dreamed, those who took an unrealistic approach to their work become discouraged and reach a standstill in their work. 

Physical exhaustion

Some people exert all of the time and energy they have into serving this religion, withholding from themselves any comfort and relief. This is understandable, for there is so much work to be done with so few who are working for these causes. But these generous, sacrificing souls must be cautious against taking on unsustainable amounts of work and pressure, leading to their eventual physical and spiritual burnout. 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم heavily emphasized the right of our bodies over us. His message and example was one of balance and moderation, and he made a point to remind the Companions of their priorities. He said, “Your Lord has a right over you, your self has a right over you, and your family has a right over you, so give each their due right.”17 In another narration he said, “Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, your spouse has a right over you, and your guests have a right over you.”18 

Lack of preparation for the challenges

Many of us start this journey of Islamic work without even considering some of the challenges that might arise. These challenges can come from our spouses, our children, the world’s glamor, or a divine test of our patience during hardship. If we hit these speed bumps in our journeys without taking the proper caution to look out for them and brace for their impact, we may be unable to get past them. This could be the source of our spiritual burnout, slacking on our duties, and giving up. Allah calls our attention to the urgent need to prepare ourselves for obstacles like this all throughout the Quran. Allah guarantees that we will encounter dangers along the road so that we can prepare for them: 

مَّا كَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيَذَرَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَنتُمْ عَلَيْهِ حَتَّىٰ يَمِيزَ ٱلْخَبِيثَ مِنَ ٱلطَّيِّبِ

Allah would not leave the believers in the condition you were in, until He distinguished the good from the evil… [3:179] 

The most common, and arguably most painful, challenges come from within our own home. God says, 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَٰجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَٰدِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَٱحْذَرُوهُمْ وَإِن تَعْفُوا۟ وَتَصْفَحُوا۟ وَتَغْفِرُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ۝ إِنَّمَآ أَمْوَٰلُكُمْ وَأَوْلَٰدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَٱللَّهُ عِندَهُۥٓ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ ۝

O believers! Indeed, some of your spouses and children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon, overlook, and forgive, then Allah is truly All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Your wealth and children are only a test, but Allah has a great reward. [64:14-15] 

And in another verse, 

وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّمَآ أَمْوَٰلُكُمْ وَأَوْلَٰدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عِندَهُۥٓ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ۝

And know that your wealth and your children are only a test and that with Allah is a great reward. [8:28] 

Allah described some of our closest family members as enemies because they may distract us from our goal; their proximity to us is what is most threatening to our success. But our Lord points out that just as this enemy comes from whom we would least suspect, we must employ unconventional tactics in our defense: pardon, tolerance, and forgiveness. He then emphasized the “great reward” in store for those who make it through the tests of family without having turned back, resorted to ill character, or given up their pursuit of Allah’s pleasure. 

These challenges will be present on the road for as long as we trek it. Neither our claim to be believers nor our righteous actions can secure us from encountering these tests. God says,

الٓمٓ ۝  أَحَسِبَ ٱلنَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوٓا۟ أَن يَقُولُوٓا۟ ءَامَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ ۝  وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ ٱلْكَٰذِبِينَ ۝ 

Alif-Lãm-Mĩm. Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars. [29:1-3] 

Allah also says: 

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّىٰ نَعْلَمَ ٱلْمُجَٰهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَٱلصَّٰبِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَا۟ أَخْبَارَكُمْ۝ 

We will certainly test you until We prove those of you who struggle and remain steadfast, and reveal how you conduct yourselves. [47:31] 

Friends who drag you down

Those who are engaged in Islamic work might find themselves engaging with influencers and celebrities in the community. After seeing these figures up close and witnessing how they operate behind the scenes, the Islamic worker may discover that in some cases these celebrities are borderline charlatans who are able to maintain an appealing shell without much substance. This realization can lead to frustration and a negative, dispirited outlook that can spread like a plague, deterring the once-inspired worker from trusting anyone or putting any real work into their own development. If all you need is a microphone or a platform to gain a following in religious circles, Satan may convince you to take shortcuts in your spirituality and self-development for the sake of keeping up with a certain trend. 

This is why the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم repeatedly drew our attention to the importance of the quality of the company we keep. He said, “A person is upon the religion of his closest friend, so look at who you take as a close friend.”19 He also compared the good friend to a perfume seller who, “will either offer you some free of charge, or you will buy some from him, or you will smell from him a pleasant fragrance.” Then he compared a bad friend to a blacksmith, who, “either will burn your clothing, or you will smell a foul smell from him.”20

Lack of organized priorities

Many Islamic workers lack any structure to their approach to God’s religion. They don’t follow any particular program or develop an organized approach to their goals, self-improvement, and Islamic work. Such disorder results in a misalignment of priorities and scattered focus and efforts. It can also be the result of lack of training and education about the proper ordering of things. 

Haphazard priorities may lead someone to spend most of their time on something that has little to no importance, thereby neglecting the foundational components of Islam. It is a plan for disaster, as every wasted moment only delays their arrival and adds to their burdens. And unless God intervenes for their benefit, they will find themselves slackening and losing the momentum they initially began with. In light of this, we can understand the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم parting advice to his dear friend Muadh ibn Jabal as the latter was leaving to go teach the new Muslims of Yemen. Muadh was still young at the time, and though he had a deep understanding of the religion, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم emphasized to him the importance of establishing priorities. He said to him, 

You are going to a group from the People of the Scripture. Call them to testify that there is nothing worthy of worship but Allah, and that I am the Messenger of Allah. If they comply with that, teach them that Allah obligated them with charity that is taken from their rich and redistributed among their poor. If they comply with that, then avoid their most prized properties, and beware of the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no veil between it and Allah.21 

The prescriptions in this hadith regarding priorities are essential when assessing and developing our approach to Islamic work. 

Belittling the impact of small sins

When we begin to falter and slow down, we must consider that it might be due to the heavy pile of sins on our backs. Allah would never slow us down from reaching Him without a just reason, and it might very well be the sins we brushed off as trivial that come together to form the glass ceiling that limits our ascension. Allah says,

وَمَآ أَصَٰبَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُوا۟ عَن كَثِيرٍ۝ 

Whatever affliction befalls you is because of what your own hands have committed. And He pardons much. [42:30] 

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم also draws our attention to the destructive potential of seemingly small sins, reminding us to take great caution to avoid them. He said, “Beware of the sins that are belittled, for they will certainly gather over someone until they destroy him.” Then he drew a comparison to put it into perspective: 

It is just like when a group camps out in an open ground. When it is time to eat, one man goes off and brings back one branch, another man brings another branch, all until they gather a large pile and light a fire, scorching whatever they throw therein.22 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also warned against the scarring effect of sins on our hearts. He said, 

When a believer commits a sin, he stains his heart with a black dot. If he repents, desists, and asks for forgiveness, his heart is polished, but if he continues, it increases until it overtakes his heart. That is the stain that He, Mighty and Majestic, mentions in the Quran... and then he recited,23 

كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا۟ يَكْسِبُونَ

But no! In fact, their hearts have been stained by what they used to commit! [83:14] 

Excessiveness in worship

Occupying oneself in unbalanced worship while depriving the body of its due right of relief and comfort leads to fatigue and burnout, and even turning toward a different, or possibly opposite, direction. Someone who begins their journey overzealously will eventually become apathetic and negligent if they do not correct their approach. This consequence is only natural, as our capacities are limited, and once they are exceeded, we will shut down. 

Islam advocates balance and prohibits excessiveness in all matters. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Beware of excessiveness in matters of worship, for those before you only perished due to excessiveness in worship.”24 He صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, “The zealots are doomed!” and repeated it three times.25 The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم clearly warned against being too hard on ourselves when he said, “Do not be too intense on yourselves, for you will then be dealt with harshly. One group of people were intense on themselves, and they were dealt with harshly, and here they remain in the monasteries and temples.” Then he cited the verse from the Quran:26 

وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ٱبْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَٰهَا عَلَيْهِمْ

As for monasticism, they made it up—We never ordained it for them… [57:27] 

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, “This religion is ease. Anyone who makes the religion harsh will be defeated.”27 

Anas bin Mālik, who served as the Prophet’s assistant for a decade, narrates that three men came to the wives of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to ask about how he worshiped in private. When they left, they reasoned that they should perform even more worship than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم in order to compensate for their lesser status. They reasoned, “Where are we compared to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم ?All of his sins have already been forgiven!” One of them declared that he would pray all night without sleeping, another that he would fast every day, and the third that he would abstain from marriage. When the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم heard this, he approached them and said, "Are you the ones who said this and that? By God, I am the most fearful of God among you and the most cognizant of Him, but I fast some days and eat others, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. So whoever is averse to my path is not associated with me."28 

Aishah narrates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم once came home while there was another woman present with her. He asked, “Who was she?” Aishah replied, “She is a woman who is praised for her [nonstop] prayers.” He disapproved, saying, "No. Take on what you can handle. By Allah, Allah does not stop rewarding until you stop doing good deeds, and the most beloved religious commitment to Him is one that a person remains consistent upon."29

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, “Only take on deeds that you can handle. Allah does not waiver until you waiver, and the most beloved deeds to Allah are the most consistent, even if small.”30 

Ibn Abbas narrates that one of the Prophet’s female servants used to fast every day and pray all night. The Prophet was told that she would do this, and so he said, "Every action has a high time, and the high point leads to a slump. Whoever’s slump is according to my sunnah has followed the right guidance, and whoever’s slump is according to anything else has gone astray."31

Effects on Individual & Community 

Spiritual burnout has harmful and destructive effects on both the volunteers working for Islam and on their community work. As with all of the roadblocks covered in this book, the effect of individuals succombing to a spiritual disease has repercussions for the entire community, slowing our progress as a whole. 

On the individual level, the roadblock of spiritual burnout jeopardizes the very destiny of those who fall victim to it by causing them to accumulate fewer deeds. One might even pass away while in this state of apathy, having once been active and motivated but finally meeting Allah in a state of negligence. 

This is why the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم used to actively seek Allah’s help from laziness and incompetence. He would pray, 

Allah, I seek refuge in You from worry and grief, from incompetence and laziness, from cowardice and stinginess, and from being overwhelmed by debt and overpowered by men.32 

He would also say, “Allah, make the best of my life the last of it, the best of my deeds the last of them, and the best of my days the day I meet You.”33 One of his statements of encouragement to his nation was: “When Allah wants good for someone, He uses them.” Someone asked, “How does He use them, Messenger of Allah?” He said, “He grants them success with a good deed before death.”34 

He صلى الله عليه وسلم also said, "Someone may do the deeds of the people of the Hellfire, while he is actually one of the people of Paradise; and he might do the deeds of the people of Paradise, while he is actually one of the people of the Hellfire. Deeds are determined by their endings."35 

The Prophet also advised, “Do not be impressed by anyone until you look to see what ending is given to him.”36 

The Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم heavy emphasis on life’s ending affected the Companions deeply, especially Abdullah bin Mas‘ood. When Abdullah fell ill and sensed that he was nearing death, he wept. He said to the people around him, “I only weep because death came to me in a time when I am in a state of rest, not in a state of hard work.”37 What he meant was that this fatal illness caught him at a time of decreased worship and activity relative to the rest of his life. 

Spiritual burnout also has effects on the community as a whole and the trajectory of collective Islamic work. It makes the road longer and the tasks harder for everyone, not just for the individual whose commitment has lagged. There are fewer people to carry the work, and those few are more vulnerable amidst a pessimistic and apathetic community culture. According to God’s tradition, victory is not given to the lazy or to those who give up. It is reserved for those who put in the work and perfect their efforts. Allah says, 

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا۝

As for those who believe and do good, We certainly never deny the reward of those who are best in deeds. [18:30] 

وَٱلَّذِينَ جَٰهَدُوا۟ فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَمَعَ ٱلْمُحْسِنِينَ۝

As for those who struggle in Our cause, We will surely guide them along Our Way. And Allah is certainly with the good-doers. [29:69] 

Remedies of Spiritual Burnout 

Considering the great dangers that the roadblock of spiritual burnout leads to, we must learn how to immunize ourselves against it and treat it when it overtakes us. This can be done in a number of ways: 

1. Keeping a safe distance from all types of sins 

Sins are like a fire that incinerates our hearts. They earn us God’s anger, which is the ultimate loss one can experience. Allah says,

وَمَن يَحْلِلْ عَلَيْهِ غَضَبِى فَقَدْ هَوَىٰ

And whoever My wrath befalls is certainly doomed. [20:81] 

2. Consistency in our daily routines 

A daily routine of thikr (remembrance), dua (supplication), reciting Quran, and sunnah prayers is what sustains a healthy level of faith in the heart. It keeps our souls nourished and energized, our motivations high and our ambitions focused. Allah says, 

وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَ ٱلَّيْلَ وَٱلنَّهَارَ خِلْفَةً لِّمَنْ أَرَادَ أَن يَذَّكَّرَ أَوْ أَرَادَ شُكُورًا

And He is the One Who causes the day and the night to alternate for whoever desires to be mindful or to be grateful. [25:62] 

He directs us to use the alternation of time and the world around us as a means to remember Him, to ensure that we don’t let a single day or night pass without giving our souls the attention and sustenance needed to carry on. Consider also one of the first ayahs that God revealed to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم .Shortly after having received the mantle of prophethood, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم began to worry about his own ability to carry out this task with its due right. He fled home after an encounter with the angel Gabriel and buried himself in a garment out of fear from the responsibility that awaited him. Then God sent down: 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلْمُزَّمِّلُ (١) قُمِ ٱلَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا (٢) نِّصْفَهُۥٓ أَوِ ٱنقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا (٣) أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ ٱلْقُرْءَانَ تَرْتِيلًا (٤) إِنَّا سَنُلْقِى عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا (٥)

O you wrapped in a garment! Stand all night except a little— half the night, or a little less, or a little more—and recite the Quran in a measured way. We will soon send upon you a weighty revelation. [73:1-5] 

Allah acknowledged the ponderous task of receiving the revelation from the Lord of all Creation and relaying it to all of mankind for generations to come. He knew that attempting such an ambitious task without proper nourishment of the self could be destructive to the Messenger and the message itself. And so He commanded our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم with two simple solutions: stand in prayer at night and recite the Quran with deliberate reflection.

Not only did the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم keep his own worship sustainably consistent, but he also urged the rest of us to always be keen on maintaining our worship routines. He instructed regarding our nightly recitation of Quran, “Whoever sleeps past his usual routine or part of it and then recites it between the Fajr and Zuhr prayers, then it is recorded for him as if he recited it during the night.”38 

3. Taking advantage of blessed times 

Paying attention to the time of day, month, or year, and connecting them to the various virtues that God embedded within them is an excellent way to re-energize our souls and recharge our wills. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Aim straight, come close, rejoice, and seek strength [through worship] in the morning, the evening, and during a part of the night.”39 

4. Liberating ourselves of religious excessiveness

Shedding any extreme or excessive religious tendencies helps us keep our worship sustainable. Aishah narrates that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم had a straw mat that he would use as his niche to pray in during the night, when people would come to pray with him, and he would spread it out during the day. The people crowded around him one night, so he said, “People, you must only take on deeds that you can handle, for Allah does not stop rewarding until you stop doing good deeds. The most beloved deeds to Allah are those that are done consistently, even if they are small.” When Muhammad’s family did an action, they would remain firm upon it.40 

It is necessary to point out here that avoiding excessiveness does not mean to be negligent and lazy. Rather we must be moderate and balanced, maintaining the actions we are used to doing and striving to follow the Prophet’s example. Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin al-As nar 

rates that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم once told him, “Abdullah, do not be like that man. He used to pray all night, and now he does not pray at all at night.”41 Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “When I forbid you from something, avoid it completely, and when I instruct you with something, do as much of it as you can.”42

5. Joining the community and collective work 

Knowing very well the dangerous risks of isolation, and a tendency of people to mistake seclusion for pious restraint, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم heavily emphasized the importance of the community to his Companions. He said, “The community is a mercy, and division is torment.”43 He also said, “Allah’s hand is with the jama‘ah.”44 Ali bin Abu Talib, who proved his deep understanding of this concept by bravely putting his life on the line for the unity of the Muslims decades after the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم death, said, “The turbulence of a community is better than the peace of mind of an individual.” 

6. Paying close attention to God’s divine laws and patterns

Allah says, 

فَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ ٱللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ ٱللَّهِ تَحْوِيلًا

You will find no change in the way of Allah, nor will you find it diverted. [35:43] 

We must understand Allah’s divine ways and patterns with human beings and the world—they include unchangeable laws such as gradual change and the necessity of effort and doing one’s best. Allah says, 

ذَٰلِكَ وَلَوْ يَشَآءُ ٱللَّهُ لَٱنتَصَرَ مِنْهُمْ وَلَٰكِن لِّيَبْلُوَا۟ بَعْضَكُم بِبَعْضٍ

So will it be. Had Allah willed, He could have inflicted punishment on them. But He tests some of you by means of others. [47:4] 

When reflecting over the constants in God’s creation, we should understand that meaningful change occurs gradually out of the mercy of Allah. Aishah pointed out that the first revelations to come down were concise surahs that mentioned Paradise and the Hellfire. Then when people flocked to Islam, the rulings of permissible and prohibited came down. She said, “If the first thing to come down was, ‘Do not drink wine,’ they would have said, ‘We will never abandon wine!’ And if it was, ‘Do not fornicate,’ they would have said, ‘We will never stop fornicating!”45 Here Aishah was pointing out the divine wisdom in the gradual unveiling of Islamic obligations. 

Umar bin Abdul-Aziz, who was the first caliph to revive justice and righteousness after the demise of the Companions, had a son named Abdul-Malik who was full of youthful courage and energy. He would often criticize his father for being too slow in eradicating the remnants of injustice from the previous rulers. He once said to his father, “Why is it that you do not solve matters immediately? By Allah, I do not care if they burn us at the stake for the truth!” His wise father responded, “Do not rush, my son. Allah dispraised wine twice in the Quran before finally declaring it prohibited. I fear that if I enforce the truth onto the people all at once, they will leave it all at once, and chaos would ensue.”46 

7. Anticipating the obstacles beforehand 

Learning about what our path has in store for us from those who have already trekked some distance in Islamic work helps us stay prepared and ready to encounter the inevitable obstacles. It also ensures that we have the tools and knowledge necessary for overcoming them. This leaves no room for us to unwittingly fall into frustration and burnout. 

8. Being consistent and methodical in our work

We must check to make sure that the most pressing matter is first on our list, and that we are not spending time and effort on secondary and marginal issues. Our battles are to be chosen carefully. We should have solid habits and mechanisms in place for our workflow, protecting us from any sudden waves of lethargy, and preventing us from being sidetracked by things that are of minor significance. 

9. Spending time with hardworking, righteous people

Be keen on spending time with righteous Muslims who are focused on serving and pleasing Allah. They have pure souls, glowing hearts, and enlightened spirits that attract and energize the drive and ambition of anyone in their company. Their unwavering sense of purpose fuels our will to continue on the path with our destination in mind. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم drew our attention to this when he once asked his Companions, “May I tell you who is the best of the people?” Eagerly they responded, “Yes, Messenger of Allah!” He said, “One who reminds you of Allah, Mighty and Majestic, when you look at him.”47

10. Giving our bodies their due right of sleep, food, and drink

We must be carefully balanced in our approach to comfort and consumption. They can be a means of replenishing our physical energy, strength, and vitality if taken in moderation, but can lead to a physical and spiritual destruction if we allow ourselves to indulge thoughtlessly. Our approach must be in accordance with the daily call of the angels: “What is little, but sufficient, is better than what is plenty, but diverting.”48 

The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم taught us this sense of balance, not only in his exemplary way of life, but also in how he instructed his companions. He once walked into the mosque and saw a string extending between two pillars. He asked, “What is this rope?” They said, “This is Zaynab’s rope. When she gets fatigued, she uses it to hold herself upright.” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “Untie it. You must pray with your energy, and when you grow tired, then rest.”49 He also said

When any of you grows sleepy as he is praying he should sleep in order to rid himself of drowsiness. If someone prays while he is sleepy, he does not know—perhaps he may intend to ask for forgiveness but instead curse himself.50 

11. Relaxing the soul with healthy amusements 

There is a lot that Allah permitted for us to find pleasure and delight in. It starts within our very own home—which we should strive to make a space for comfort and security rather than tension and gloom. We must give ourselves time to play with our children and spend quality time with our spouses, and even take trips and vacations that are within our means. We can spend a day in the wilderness, engaging in recreation or quiet contemplation while exploring nature and reflecting upon God’s creation as a family. We can take hikes together, practicing cooperation and teamwork by traveling at a pace suitable for all and encouraging one another to keep climbing even when it seems unbearable. Marveling at the glorious view and remembering Allah’s beauty through it when you finally reach the end of the trail is an experience that will re-energize your soul and renew your motivation to continue on with your work for Islam.

Hanzalah bin al-Rabee‘, who was one of the Prophet’s صلى الله عليه وسلم scribes, once met Abu Bakr on the road. He asked, “How are you, Hanzalah?” He replied, “Hanzalah is a hypocrite!” shamefully referring to himself in the third person. Abu Bakr said, “Subhān Allah! What are you saying?!” He explained, “When we are with the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, he reminds us of Paradise and the Hellfire, and it is as if we can see it with our own eyes. Then when we leave the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم ,we have fun with our wives and children and businesses, and we forget so much.” Abu Bakr said, “By Allah, I experience the same thing.” They then went to the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم and said to him, “Hanzalah is a hypocrite!” When the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم asked why he said that, he responded with the same, “Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you remind us of the Hellfire and Paradise until it is as if we can see it with our own eyes. Then when we leave you, we enjoy our time with our wives, children, and businesses, and we forget so much.” The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم responded, "I swear by the One in whose hand is my soul, if you were to always be upon what you are when you are with me—in a state of remembrance—the Angels would shake your hands on your very beds and in the streets. Rather, Hanzalah it is one moment at a time." He repeated that last phrase three times.51 

12. Reading and reflecting on the life story of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم

The Prophet’s biography is filled with many lessons and practical models for Islamic work. He and his Companions were the epitome of hard work, high ambitions, unwavering commitment, and pure intentions. Reading their stories revitalizes our souls and generates within us a love for emulating their examples. This is why Allah says about the stories of the prophets: 

لَقَدْ كَانَ فِى قَصَصِهِمْ عِبْرَةٌ لِّأُو۟لِى ٱلْأَلْبَٰبِ

In their stories there is truly a lesson for people of reason. [12:111] 

We can also find these examples in the lives of the scholars and righteous men and women who lived after the Prophet’s time. Umar bin Abdul-Aziz, for example, used to dedicate the time from the end of the Fajr prayer until shortly after sunrise to remembering Allah. Whenever he would feel tired or fatigued, he would walk laps around the courtyard of his house repeating a verse of poetry:

How can I afford any rest for my eye 

When I don’t know where I will be 

Our spirits and emotions should be shaken when we catch a glimpse of these snapshots from the lives of these heroes. We draw from their will and fortitude the motivation we need to continue on in our journey of Islamic work. 

13. Remembering death 

Reflecting on death, the time in our graves, and the everlasting paradise or punishment wakes our souls from slumber and startles us into a state of awareness. It gives us the nudge that we often need to continue our march towards Allah. The best way to remember death is to visit the graveyards, even just once a week. There we can learn many lessons by reflecting on the many who once had great health, beautiful families, and so many hopes and dreams, whose bodies now lie under the soil, deteriorating slowly. This is why the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, “I once forbade you from visiting the graveyards, but now visit them, for there is a lesson therein.”52 

A tenth-century scholar named Ibn al-Sammāk dug a ditch in his house that looked like a grave. Whenever he felt himself slacking off or being lazy, he would go into that ditch and imagine himself dead. He would picture the questioning of the angels, remember his shortcomings, and begin to shout the plea described in the Quran: 

رَبِّ ٱرْجِعُونِ (٩٩) لَعَلِّىٓ أَعْمَلُ صَٰلِحًا فِيمَا تَرَكْتُ

“My Lord! Let me go back, so I may do good in what I left behind.” [23:99] 

After all of this, he would say to himself, “Ibn Sammāk, you’ve been given another chance!” and then get out of the grave as if he was born anew. 

14. Remembering Paradise and the Hellfire 

The sheer thought of permanent pleasures and pains of the afterlife should be enough to stir our spirits and spark the sense of urgency and drive that we need when our commitment starts to wane. Harim ibn Hayyan, a pious man who worked for Umar ibn al-Khattab, was known to go out of his house on some nights to call out at the top of his lungs, “How can anyone who seeks Paradise sleep!? How can anyone who fears the Hellfire sleep?!” Then he would recite the ayah,53 

أَفَأَمِنَ أَهْلُ ٱلْقُرَىٰٓ أَن يَأْتِيَهُم بَأْسُنَا بَيَٰتًا وَهُمْ نَآئِمُونَ

Did the people of those societies feel secure that Our punishment would not come upon them by night while they were asleep? [7:97] 

15. Attending gatherings of knowledge 

Knowledge restores life to the hearts. Who can know what sincere word from a truthful scholar might motivate us for an entire year, or possibly for our whole life? Those short moments in which our hearts absorb such impactful words can give us the energy we need to sustain our work for years. 

The transformational potential of knowledge is no secret to anyone who reflects on the Quran. Allah says, 

إِنَّمَا يَخْشَى ٱللَّهَ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ ٱلْعُلَمَٰٓؤُا۟

It is only the knowledgeable who fear Allah from among His servants. [35:28] 

He even directed the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم to say, 

رَّبِّ زِدْنِى عِلْمًا

“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [20:114] 

16. Taking a comprehensive approach to religion

Often out of zeal, excitement, and passion, many who begin Islamic work direct their focus on one facet of Islam. This is an impossible impediment to spiritual advancement and sustainability. Approaching Islam as the all-encompassing way of life that God intended it to be ensures that our direction stays straight and our pace stays steady until we meet Allah. 

17. Constant self-assessment 

Keeping track of ourselves and examining our own progress is a proactive and preventative way to avoid getting caught in any traps on our journey. We must set standards for ourselves and hold ourselves accountable to them, rewarding ourselves for compliance and setting consequences for ourselves for veering off track. Allah teaches us to assess ourselves and what we have prepared for our own futures: 

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَلْتَنظُرْ نَفْسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتْ لِغَدٍ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌۢ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ

O believers! Be mindful of Allah and let every soul look to what it has sent forth for tomorrow. And fear Allah—certainly Allah is All Aware of what you do. [59:18] 

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