By Marie Matney
O you who have believed, remember Allah with much remembrance. [Quran, 33:41]
Sometimes life rushes past us so quickly that we’re pulled further from Allah (swt) every day. Have you ever felt as if you were standing on the edge of the deepest abyss in the ocean and everyone and everything you love was on the other side, desperately reaching out to you? Have you ever felt like you were doing what Allah (swt) asked, but only because you had to?
Missing the Benefits
When we do things for Allah— salah or dhikr or anything that we begin with bismillah—just out of habit or with a sense of emptiness, we don’t get the baraka. We miss the benefit of carrying out the act of prayer, brushing our teeth, or even things like parenting. Saying the words without the intention drains the baraka from the act.
When we say bismillah before beginning something, we have to be present in our recitation. We have to actually make the intention to clean the house for the sake of Allah (swt) and not just say it without awareness just before going about our business.
But awareness isn’t always present in a rush-rush life. We move so fast through everything that we can’t– or don’t— stop to think about what we’re doing or why we’re doing it.
How can we slow things down and bring back that closeness to Allah (swt)?
With a Mantra
A mantra is simply a word or phrase that’s repeated over and over again in order to bring about a change— a transformation, if you will.
A mantra is self-talk. If you tell yourself, “I don’t have time,” “I’m too stressed,” or even, “I’m not good enough”— that’s your mantra.
Why not change the words you’re already saying to ones that can bring you closer to Allah (swt)?
Bismillah is just one of the words we already use many times each day. But the difference between empty words and a mantra is the intention. When you say bismillah with the full intention of sweeping the floor in the name of Allah (swt), it becomes a mantra.
When you say la hawla wa la quwitta illah billah, you’re acknowledging that your strength only comes from Allah (swt) and are asking Him to make you stronger, when you say it as a mantra and with focus.
One Step Further
Your Islamic mantra awakens your mind to the things you want to change for the sake of Allah (swt). Your mind then makes decisions based on the goal you want to achieve.
For example: you’re a good Muslim; you pray five times a day; and you make dua for others, etc. But when your neighbor is sitting beside you, you can’t help but fall into the conversation about her friend’s son who’s fallen prey to the pressures of high school. You’re backbiting. Again.
You know it’s wrong, but you don’t know how to change it. So you ask Allah (swt) for help, over and over and over again. But, you slide into backbiting still.
Ask for Allah (swt)’s help with your mantra. Develop a set of words to immediately make you aware that backbiting is wrong and say them mindfully. You could say something like, “I’m a Muslim who loves Allah (swt) and her brothers and sisters.” Say it with awareness over and over again in an effort to bring about that change. Once you have the words down, you have to use your mantra the right way.
The Right Way to Use Your Islamic Mantra
- Say it 25 times immediately after saying your dua when you wake and before getting out of bed.
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your words and say them with full intention.
- Focus on your breathing as you say the mantra.
- Repeat often throughout the day, in chunks of 25.
- Repeat your Islamic mantra after dhkir after your salah, as well.
- Then, say it again at night before sleeping.
Mantras don’t bring transformations right away. It can take up to 40 days for your mind to become accustomed to guiding your decisions toward your new behavior, so be patient and consistently ask Allah (swt) to grant you success with your mantra in worshipping Him, as well as in completing the change you want to make for His sake.
What will your Islamic mantra help you to change for the sake of Allah (swt)?