When the Going Gets Tough: Helping Activists Keep up the Momentum

by | May 10, 2024 | Publishing, Featured

Calling to truth and justice is an inseparable part of our purpose. Despite confronting the atrocities against Gaza, we may disappoint ourselves when we struggle to maintain the level of commitment we aimed to offer. We start off determined to end such injustice and throw ourselves head first into action, taking no pause out of fear of not doing enough. Every waking moment is devoted to the cause, sometimes even at the expense of our schoolwork, jobs, and families, or a proper meal and a restful night. Yet, after some setbacks, we begin to fall apart, worn to the bone. The guilt of not doing enough sets in, but, try as we might, we can’t pick ourselves up. We worry that our lost momentum makes the road longer and the tasks harder for everyone involved in the work, not just us as individuals.

We know that Allah calls each of us to enjoin good, forbid evil, and be witnesses and promoters of justice 1 yet, we feel we’ve lost a fire and wonder how to reignite it. It may be that we are disconnected from our purpose and are chasing victory in all the wrong ways, or that we’re drained in mind and spirit. It could also be that we lack meaningful support and company in the journey. Regardless of the cause, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many strategies we can implement to keep the momentum going so that we can be steady forces for justice and righteousness.

In this article, we explore some of the key approaches in the Islamic framework to aid in maintaining momentum, including changing our mindset, planning and preparation, fortifying our hearts, keeping ourselves in the company of Allah and those who work sincerely for His Sake, and balancing our many obligations. At every juncture, we’ve captured important reminders and practical steps emerging from the Quran and Sunnah so that we can maintain, or even increase, our momentum. With these strategies, we become sustained forces for good in this world 2.

Signs You May be Losing Momentum

Knowing the signs of burning out is key to avoiding and even preventing any loss of momentum. Here are some signs that indicate you may be losing steam:

  • Your responsibilities feel more burdensome than usual. You have to drag yourself to perform in the context of service and 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 performing the bare minimum and not much else. 
  • You were once much more active. Then, life happened. Maybe you got a job, got married, graduated, moved to a different city, or had a disagreement with someone. While it’s normal to adjust community work as life and responsibilities shift, you find yourself struggling to keep a steady commitment to Islamic work and maybe even allow life events to be an excuse for it. 
  • You are cynical about the community and the people working for good causes. You know how this self-talk goes. It’s never going to work, everyone is wasting their time, leaders are bad, scholars are backward, and no one is skilled, organized, or charismatic enough for you.
  • You waste a lot of time. Once, you spent much of your time volunteering, working, learning, and attending noble gatherings. Now, your time distribution has shifted towards more time-wasting, and purposeless preoccupations.
  • You are desensitized. You have grown accustomed to the news, the sufferings, and the injustice that is happening. It does not move your heart as easily anymore.

How to Avoid Losing Momentum

Losing steam can make it hard to maintain our life responsibilities, let alone the community work we do. It causes exhaustion and pessimism, and most concerningly, it could jeopardize our very eternal destinies by causing us to accumulate fewer deeds and make a lesser impact. Even the prophets and messengers needed to rest and recharge to keep their momentum strong.

وَمَا جَعَلْنَـٰهُمْ جَسَدًۭا لَّا يَأْكُلُونَ ٱلطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ خَـٰلِدِينَ ۝

We did not give those messengers ˹supernatural˺ bodies that did not need food, nor were they immortal [Al-Anbiya 21:8]

So, how do we keep our momentum strong? We’ve compiled a few practical strategies guided by the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions.


1. Adjust Your Mindset

Everything starts with the mindset. When we demand change in our behavior without adjusting our underlying mentalities, we are likely to slip right back into old habits, and find ourselves discouraged. Change begins with gradually shifting our thoughts, perceptions, and convictions of Allah; as well as our mentalities about the world around us and our purpose, and the expectations we have of ourselves and others. If we start to lose momentum, chances are we have some misunderstandings that we need to adjust. Here are some foundational perspectives that will set us on a path to sound understanding and reignite our activism. 

Recalibrate and clarify your purpose

Remember that Allah is our Master and we are His servants. He created this world for a reason and set rules in a certain balance, so we should do our best to adjust our responsibilities to that which is purposeful, and align our pleasures to that which pleases Him. Allah created us to worship Him in submission, and He assigned us the responsibility of caring for this world and establishing justice3. Without securing our mindset to this purpose, we’ll become distracted by other purposes—many of which are largely self-serving, based on human desires or limited understanding—which is a sure way to lose momentum and eventually burn out. 

The Prophet described this reality: *“Whoever makes the world their goal, Allah will scatter his affairs and make him constantly in fear of poverty, and he will not get anything of this world except that which has been decreed for him. Whoever makes the Hereafter their goal, Allah will settle his affairs for him and make his contentment in his heart, and his provision and worldly gains will undoubtedly come to him whether it wants to or not.”4

Living in the West, we absorb concepts of life and purpose that oppose the purpose for which Allah has created us. Much of these ideas are finite, tethered to this world, and individualistic in nature, while Islam is far-reaching into the Hereafter, community- and mutually-uplifting, just, and purposeful. Following a western paradigm, we could falsely assess our lives based on our level of happiness, such that we believe we’re on the right track when we feel happy, and avoid discomfort at all costs. This kind of thought process fails us time and again and causes us to burn out. It’s similar to running towards a mirage that isn’t even aligned with our purpose of creation. Ultimately, our worldly hopes will fail to manifest and we will sink into restless discontent. 

This is not to suggest we run towards discomfort; rather, it is to make our purpose crystal-clear so that our feelings alone do not dictate our purpose. While we strive for infinite happiness in the Hereafter, we seek other blessings in this world that are attainable only through fulfilling our purpose, such as: blessing (barakah) in our time, effort, and provision; peace of mind; purity of heart; contentment and gratitude; and wisdom. After a hard day’s work, we seek relief and comfort in prayer. It’s no surprise that prayer is mentioned in several areas in this article, because of its numerous benefits and its connection to everything we do—and ultimately because it reinforces our very purpose. 

While we should not run ourselves ragged by doing things beyond our capacity, we should remember that our worship and work in the cause of Allah is not a favor we offer nor is it ever enough. Allah says in Surah Al-Muddathir,

وَلَا تَمْنُن تَسْتَكْثِرُ۝

This mindset shift helps keep us humble and build our lifestyles in a way that would allow us to sustainably do our best for the sake of Allah. It reminds us to view our activism as a means towards achieving the pleasure of Allah, rather than an end in and of itself.


Understand the comprehensive nature of Islam

Even if we understand that Islam encompasses all aspects of life, we may not practically know how to implement that understanding. We might focus all our energy into one facet and fail to address others, such as striving in only shaping our morals and etiquettes without working on our salah; putting all our effort into political and civic reform without working on our connection with Allah or gentleness with people; increasing our intellectual knowledge without application or mercy towards others; or being practicing and religious but reclusive. This neglect makes us susceptible to fatigue. No matter the form, seeing Islam as one-dimensional rather than multifaceted results in eventual burnout because we need a balance of every aspect of Islam—including the social reform and morality as well as the knowledge-seeking, ritual worship, and etiquette—to function smoothly.

One way to cover as much ground as possible without over-burdening ourselves is to dedicate parts of our day, week, month, and sometimes year to each facet of Islam so that it covers all aspects of life. Alternate between activities and use time management tips to dedicate time for rituals, gaining knowledge, self-care, family time, advocating for justice, and light-hearted halal enjoyment.

Another wise practice is to prioritize obligations when they are due. Scholars call this wajib-ul-waqt: the priority obligation of the time is what needs to be done at that time. Some timely obligations are clear, such as the time of fasting in Ramadan or the times for prayer. Other situations when good deeds are of the same caliber and arise at the same time, we need a deeper understanding of Quran and Sunnah to make a decision. For example, an event is beginning soon and we might be behind on setup, but Dhuhr prayer time has started. Similarly, we may want to attend a protest, but have a sick parent in our care and no one available to spend the day with them 5. During moments like these, where multiple obligations conflict, we must be thoughtful about how to prioritize and wary of what our desires dictate to us. The more we understand the Quran and Sunnah, the more clarity and wisdom we gain on how to prioritize our obligations, live a balanced life, and conserve energy for our most effective and important responsibilities.


Think big picture

Our first priority should be pleasing Allah when approaching activism, but how does this mentality affect our big picture thinking? It means accepting that although we may not see a positive outcome in this life, we will see the reward for our actions and intentions in the next life. If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t always hold this mentality. Our priority easily slips into chasing a high, and we end up engaging in sporadic efforts that lack vision. Ultimately, we easily succumb to disappointment when efforts move slowly or do not work out. 

Allah reminds us that every believer is tested, and He builds for us the vision of Paradise as a reminder that our reward is, first and foremost, in the next life, even as we strive for victory in this one. Keeping this endgoal in mind is important in helping us overcome some of the biggest challenges we face in the work. Whether we are navigating politics between the people working for Allah, overcoming setbacks and failures, or ridding our own hearts of diseases like arrogance, being akhirah-oriented enables us to think more broadly than the current moment and immediate issue. Our work becomes more future-oriented and purposeful, and thus, more sustainable, when we understand that even if we never witness the fruits of our labor, Allah guarantees reward for those who sincerely try. (See our previous article Why do we Lose and How do we Win? Allah’s Laws of Victory for more on this topic).

Plan ahead

More often than we realize, we engage in an effort just because it feels good or seems like a good idea in the heat of the moment. We fail to properly evaluate our situation, think through the best strategies, and align on the next steps. Sometimes good work does occur, but unfortunately, most efforts that lack thoughtful planning fail to have the desired outcome. Inevitably, all those involved feel discouraged. 

The Prophet ﷺ emphasized setting a goal and gradually working towards it. His parting advice to Muadh ibn Jabal, who was leaving to teach new Muslims in Yemen, highlights the necessity of forward-thinking and gradualism: 

*“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.” 6

Planning ahead is not merely figuring out the logistics of the event happening next week—it is also understanding how this event fits into the broader scheme of the cause we are working towards. It includes envisioning what the world will look like after success, understanding how our effort advances broader community development and causes, anticipating challenges, placing team members in roles that best leverage their skills, collaborating with fellow groups and community initiatives, and so much more. 

Prepare for challenges

The fight for justice is a marathon, not a sprint. We often miscalculate the challenges we could face along the way, so we don’t prepare for them and lose wind too soon. We’ve spoken about having realistic expectations of the outcomes through understanding the Divine Laws of victory. Here, we discuss what challenges to prepare for along the road of activism.

Allah clearly guarantees challenges along the road, but also states their purpose. He says, 

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… [Aal-Imran 3:179]

The most common, and arguably most painful, challenges come from within our own homes. Some of us may not be finding support from our families for the work we do, or may be distracted with enjoying and serving our families to the detriment of our work. Others may wrestle with guilt in enjoying family while others have none. Allah 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. [At-Taghabun 64:14-15]

Our children—or families, by extension—and wealth are the biggest tests for us because they are our sources of comfort and security. Maintaining them as we should is a worrisome task and easily gives way to holding on too tightly, thus becoming distracted or afraid to engage in Allah’s cause. For each, remember that it is not our efforts which yield benefit for ourselves or our families. Rather, Allah is the Provider, we all return to Him, and with Him is the ultimate reward. Further, only through fulfilling our obligations to Him and maintaining that He is sincerely above all, will we be able to maximize the blessing He has for us, in this world and the next.

In general, it’s important to be aware of and realistic about the challenges we will face along the path, whether related to family or otherwise. We should spend time acquainting ourselves with possible risks and obstacles and make plans to address each. By anticipating challenges, we can avoid faltering or feeling disheartened by them, even if we are afraid or tired. Instead we will be like the Companions. When all their enemies allied against them in the Battle of the Trench, they said:

هَـٰذَا مَا وَعَدَنَا ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥ وَصَدَقَ ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥ ۚ وَمَا زَادَهُمْ إِلَّآ إِيمَـٰنًۭا وَتَسْلِيمًۭا ۝

“This is what Allah and His Messenger had promised us. The promise of Allah and His Messenger has come true.” And this only increased them in faith and submission. [Al-Ahzab 33:22]

2.  Nurture Your Spirit

Striving for the light means we spend a lot of time engaging the darkness. It has an effect on us; more often than we realize, we are fatigued, tense, and irritable, burdened with the heavy weight of struggling to change the world. This is understandable; it is a weight too heavy for any individual to carry alone, after all. Fortunately, it was never supposed to be carried alone, Allah has given us ways both to wash the pressures away with sincere tears and to fortify our hearts as we confront injustice. Here are some ways to improve our connection with Allah and feed our spiritual essence. 

Be mindful in prayer and recitation

Pray to Allah and engage with His Book with intentionality and focus. In both are guidance and healing for our hearts. Our prayers are designed to be a regular disconnect from life’s pressure and an opportunity to reconnect with Allah. They are a grounding for us through the tough work we have to establish justice and spread truth in the way of Allah. In fact, Allah prescribed night prayer to prepare the Prophet and the early believers for challenges in the da’wah:

قُمِ ٱلَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًۭا ۝ نِّصْفَهُۥٓ أَوِ ٱنقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا ۝ أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ ٱلْقُرْءَانَ تَرْتِيلًا ۝ إِنَّا سَنُلْقِى عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًۭا ثَقِيلًا ۝

Stand all night [in prayer] except a little—[pray] half the night, or a little less, or a little more—and recite the Quran [properly] in a measured way. [For] We will soon send upon you a weighty revelation. [Al-Muzzamil 73:1-5] 

Tahajjud in the night is one of the best tactics for rejuvenating the weary spirit. The Prophet ﷺ and his Companions relied upon night prayers during the toughest days of da’wah and persecution in Makkah. At the very least, we should leverage our five daily prayers to reconnect with Allah, but anyone who adds even two rakat (cycles) of tahajjud prayer at night when no one is around can attest to the way it uplifts and fortifies us.

Make dhikr throughout the day

Remember Allah as much as you can and seek Him out in everything. Dhikr creates a protective shield around everything that is dear to us—our hearts, minds, bodies, families, and provisions—helping us work without burdening ourselves with the worry of the results. 

Keeping in mind that Allah is helping us enables us to put all the good and the bad in perspective, and opens our eyes to His Wisdom, Mercy, and Presence in both the best and worst of circumstances. There are many options for dhikr to alternate between throughout the day: recite morning and evening athkar for protection, bless your surroundings by sending prayers on the Prophet , clean your slate with istighfar, join the angels and nature in tasbeeh, and recite a ruqya for cathartic relief from pressure on the body and soul.

Join gatherings in remembrance of Allah 

Knowledge restores our hearts and transforms us, and gatherings in the remembrance of Allah are blessed. The Prophet ﷺ said that Allah assigns angels to search for gatherings in which Allah’s names are invoked. When they find a gathering of remembrance, they sit with the believers and fold their wings around each other, forming a column between the gathering on Earth and the lowest heaven. When the gathering ends, the angels ascend to the heavens and inform Allah that they returned from some of His servants on Earth who were glorifying Him, praising Him, and seeking His favors. Allah grants them forgiveness and gives what they seek from His favors. *The angels then say, “O Lord, among them is so-and-so, a much sinning servant, who was merely passing by and sat down with them.” Allah says: “And to him [too] I have given forgiveness: he who sits with such people shall not suffer.”7

There are countless opportunities to share in the blessings of gatherings for Allah’s remembrance. We can attend a halaqa program at the masjid, take turns sharing reminders among our fellow organizers before heading to rallies or actions, organize to recite Quran or share reflections within our families. 

Do one good deed everyday with intentionality

Sometimes we don’t realize that our day could pass without a truly altruistic deed. While much of our routine could be turned into good deeds and worship with sincere intentions, we can add blessing to our day by adding an intentional, selfless good deed. Whether giving charity, visiting or calling a sick person, or sharing food with a neighbor, we can maintain a special bond with Allah by adding on a small, private deed that is between us and our Lord alone.

3.  Work with God-Consciousness

We wear out quickly when we think our Islamic work justifies missing or delaying prayers or having bad manners. We saw the value of keeping our hearts attached to Allah during our ritual worship, and recognized that we need an akhirah-oriented mindset, but it’s important to translate the mindset into action, by prioritizing Allah across the board, including in our activism. 

Plan around the prayer times

This frequently arises for our prayers. Nearly every single community worker and activist knows the struggle: we’re so busy running around getting things done that we miss a congregational prayer happening in the next room and rush through it on our own. Deprioritizing salah is counterintuitive, though, because it is fundamental to relieving our burdens and revitalizing our devotion to Allah. 

وَٱسْتَعِينُوا۟ بِٱلصَّبْرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ ۚ

And seek help through patience and prayer [Al-Baqarah 2:45]

Focusing on establishing our prayers will help with our other duties. Before scheduling your day, be mindful of when the prayer timings are and where you could pray. Carry a travel mat in your bag or car so you’re ready for different situations. Fulfill your worship obligations with your community of activists and friends. For example, if you’re at a rally and the time for prayer comes in, pray together. 

Beware of small sins

Picture yourself as a traveler with a backpack carrying all your belongings. As food spoils and you start to have empty wrappers, you’ll prefer to throw them away rather than carrying the unnecessary weight. Similarly, consuming the prohibited or unethical is risky, even when it seems like it could yield a good result. Most of us know this, but in practice, it proves challenging to avoid. Normalizing minor sins causes them to become routine. Small sins can be deceptive, as they easily pile up, becoming even heavier than big ones and sabotaging our efforts, especially because we may not see them as significant enough to repent. They also corrupt the heart; belittling minor sins to begin with indicates losing reverence for the One we are disobeying in the first place: Allah. 

As we recognize the precious nature of our relationship with Allah, we will naturally be protective of it in the face of frivolous sins. We grow inclined to guarding our eyes and ears from witnessing inappropriate content, and resistant to idle talk on our tongues. We avoid burdening the heart with ill feelings towards others or even towards ourselves. Our natural disposition (fitrah) recalls the value of a relationship with Allah and avoiding small sins becomes intuitive. 

While we are all prone to falling, Allah loves those who do their best to lift the burdens of their sins through repentance, erasing bad deeds with good ones, and moving on without continuously dragging the guilt. Every breath we take is an opportunity to return to Him that we should seize with fervor.

Present the best character

In activism, some feel justified using profane language on social media or speaking rudely to opposing protestors. However, just because the situation is dire and people are supporting oppressors and speaking with disrespect, does not mean we should sink to that level. In fact, we are obligated to be better as believers and people who emphasize character. When we neglect our foundational principles, we become vulnerable to losing momentum. Remaining consistent in our commitment to beautiful character fortifies us. We can and should speak the truth to the oppressor and those complicit whilst maintaining dignity. 

Allah reminds us of our obligation to engage everyone with kindness when we spread truth and justice, and that He alone is the source of guidance.

ٱدْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِٱلْحِكْمَةِ وَٱلْمَوْعِظَةِ ٱلْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَـٰدِلْهُم بِٱلَّتِى هِىَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِۦ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِٱلْمُهْتَدِينَ ۝

Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord [alone] knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is [rightly] guided. [An-Nahl 16:125]

It can be difficult to encounter ignorance and hate unchecked, but Allah reminds us that our role is to deliver a message, and He will take those who are heedless to account. This message was to all believers, not only the prophets or the most righteous leaders.

وَلَا تَسُبُّوا۟ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّوا۟ ٱللَّهَ عَدْوًۢا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍۢ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِم مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُم بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ۝ 

[O believers!] Do not insult what they invoke besides Allah or they will insult Allah spitefully out of ignorance. This is how We have made each person’s deeds appealing to them. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will inform them of what they used to do. [Al-An’am 6:108]

The Pharaoh is an example of one of the most corrupt humans. Yet, Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun were still instructed to approach him with respect, because even a tyrant with a devastating track record may have a change of heart. 

ٱذْهَبَآ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ إِنَّهُۥ طَغَىٰ ۝ فَقُولَا لَهُۥ قَوْلًۭا لَّيِّنًۭا لَّعَلَّهُۥ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ ۝

Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has truly transgressed [all bounds]. Speak to him gently, so perhaps he may be mindful [of Me] or fearful [of My punishment] [Taha 20:43-44]

The Pharaoh never believed and was the embodiment of tyranny, but the brothers were sent to guide the entire civilization, not just this one individual. Their tactful engagement with him inspired a generation of believers. If Prophet Musa and Prophet Harun had approached the Pharaoh with disdain or harshness, it is likely no one would have considered the message at all. Similarly, we demonstrate Islam in our words and actions every time we interact with anyone, including our adversaries. Allah alone knows who is watching and who will be turned away from Islam or guided because of our character. 

Ask Allah for support

This should be at the beginning and end of all our actions. The Messenger taught us to actively seek Allah’s help with the challenges associated with burnout. 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.” 8* Another duaa the Companions would say was, *“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.”9* With both duaas, our beloved Messenger addressed the anxiety, oscillating energies, and tendencies that make us human, providing us with a beautiful approach to both prevent and navigate burnout and related struggles.

4.  Stay with the Collective (Jama’ah)

Most of us do our activism alongside other people, and yet, we wrestle with isolation at times, which is an easy path to fatigue and dispiritedness. Sometimes it’s because we can’t find a community with similar aspirations or approaches. Other times, we retreat without realizing it, especially after experiencing inevitable disappointment from unrealistically high expectations of our communities. The Quran encourages us to stick together in Allah’s path,  

وَٱعْتَصِمُوا۟ بِحَبْلِ ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا۟

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

The positive energy of fellowship revitalizes us; their genuine advice gives us needed reminders and encouragement; and their mentorship motivates us with discipline and accountability. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told us, *“Whoever mixes with people and is patient with their annoyances is better than one who does not mix with people and cannot bear their annoyances.” 10* Be intentional about working with others, even when it can be challenging to navigate different personalities and ideas. Recall that as much as the people who do work can be difficult, they also are fellow believers who are working for the same cause as we are. 

5. Keep it Balanced

We all know the phrase: everything in moderation. It holds true for activism as well. Excessiveness comes up in a few ways for activists, from taking on too much work and overconsuming bad news to avoiding good work out of self-preservation. 

Don’t stretch yourself too thin

At times, we exert too much of our time and energy for a cause, resisting rest or even neglecting other important areas of our lives such as physical health, familial obligations, or professional work. This is understandable; there is so much work to be done weighing on the shoulders of too few dedicated workers—but it’s also unsustainable. 

As much as we want to do everything, not every opportunity is the best use of our limited time or skills. As the Prophet 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.”11* We should aim to prioritize whatever best utilizes our skills and interests and best serves the cause of Allah. At the same time, we must be honest with ourselves and others about what we can sustain and what else requires attention, including our relationship with Allah, family and health.

Although we may feel guilty for focusing on our other obligations instead of direct Islamic work, the Prophet’s advice to the Companion Hanzala reminds us that this balance is necessary. Hanzala worried of being afflicted with hypocrisy because he noticed that when he was with the Prophet , he would remember Heaven and Hell as if he could see them, but he would seemingly forget when at home, tending to his family and work. The Prophet replied, *“If your state of mind remains the same as it is in my presence and you are always busy in remembrance of Allah, the Angels will shake hands with you in your beds and in your paths. But, Hanzala, devote time for this and time for that” (meaning, devote time to worldly affairs and time for prayer and contemplation). 12

Set a steady pace

Demonstrating concern about injustice and struggle across the world is an important part of being a meaningful changemaker and sincere believer. At the same time, the fatigue and even second-hand trauma from repeatedly reading painful news, seeing disturbing images, attending rallies, and organizing ourselves have reminded us that too much of a good thing can also be counterproductive. 

The Prophet 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.”13* There is no shortage of good work that must be done, but pace yourself. We’re all more beneficial to this ummah when we have consistent energy over the long-term; and this sustained presence and effort is heavier on our scale of deeds as well.

Sometimes it’s hard to discern what we can and can’t handle, and it may require some trial and error to figure out. The best way to maintain a steady pace is by utilizing the various time management tools that suit our personalities. For example, those that tend to procrastinate can adjust by beginning with the least appealing task first thing in the morning while willpower is strong. Some may thrive with a slower start to the day; while others by doing high-energy tasks within the first time blocks and lighter tasks that require less focus towards the end of the day. Regardless of the specific strategy that works best, customizing our time management method allows our efforts and personal subtleties to be in harmony, thus enhancing our performance while decreasing our susceptibility to burnout. 

Maintain a healthy body and mind 

It’s sunnah to maintain healthy habits that keep our bodies and minds functioning at the highest capacity. Allah loaned us our bodies to use in His service, so we should prioritize caring for them. The Prophet reminds us of the necessity of balancing physical and mental health with other duties, whether worship or working for Allah. 14

We should address physical and mental health concerns with health professionals if need arises, especially because some fatigue may be associated with an underlying concern. In conjunction with this, we should practice healthy habits to prevent health concerns and keep our energy levels high. Allowing ourselves rest to recharge, even if it’s a power nap in the middle of the day, is key when we’re feeling tired. On one occasion, the Prophet ﷺ took a nap on Aisha’s lap in the middle of a long and unsuccessful search in the desert for her missing necklace. 15Allah also emphasizes taking care of our bodies through eating wholesome foods: 

كُلُوا۟ مِن طَيِّبَـٰتِ مَا رَزَقْنَـٰكُمْ

Eat from the good things We have provided for you… [Al-Baqarah 2:172]

The Sunnah is overflowing with other examples of taking care of ourselves, including cleanliness, smelling nice, and using skin oils and creams both at home and when going to the masjid. Anas, the Companion of the Prophet , used to apply scented oils to his hand in the morning for the sake of shaking hands with his brothers.16 The Prophet used to brush his teeth constantly, even when on his deathbed. This care for our bodies pleases Allah and lifts our spirits. 

Just like our bodies, our minds need care so that we remain refreshed and positive. Activities like reading, writing, and spending time in nature are means to contemplate Allah’s creation and enjoy His bounties, while recharging at the same time. The Prophet enjoyed similar practices; he once went to a garden and dipped his feet in a well, contemplating Allah in the peaceful silence.17 Abu Bakr, Omar, and Uthman also eventually joined him in dipping their feet in water and silent contemplation. Other ways we may be uplifted are playing or watching games for enjoyment, and singing to give a skip in our step. The Prophet did each of these; he raced with Aisha, lifted her up over heads in a crowd to see a performance with spears,18 and sang optimistically with his Companions while digging the trench.19 Many techniques we discussed in the Nurture Our Spirit section also go hand-in-hand with these. Uplifting our spirits and our minds both are necessary to maintain our momentum.

We all have experienced how enjoyment can help boost our mood and energy, but in excess, the opposite can be triggered. In fact, this turns a healthy and beneficial break and revival into a form of distraction from reality. The Prophet gave us an approximate calculation to help us avoid excessive indulgence: *“One-third [of your stomach] for your food, one-third for your drink, and one-third for your breath.”20* Allah also reminds us in the Quran:

۞ يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ خُذُوا۟ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍۢ وَكُلُوا۟ وَٱشْرَبُوا۟ وَلَا تُسْرِفُوٓا۟ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُسْرِفِينَ ۝ قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِۦ وَٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ مِنَ ٱلرِّزْقِ ۚ قُلْ هِىَ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا خَالِصَةًۭ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ نُفَصِّلُ ٱلْـَٔايَـٰتِ لِقَوْمٍۢ يَعْلَمُونَ ۝

O Children of Adam, take your adornment whenever you are at worship . Eat and drink, but do not be excessive. Surely He does not like the excessive people. Ask, [O Prophet,] “Who has forbidden the adornments and lawful provisions Allah has brought forth for His servants?” Say, “They are for the enjoyment of the believers in this worldly life, but they will be exclusively theirs on the Day of Judgment. This is how We make Our revelations clear for people of knowledge.” [Surah Araf: 31-32]

Allah has created adornments, and the beauty of nature for His believers—those that worship Him and work purposefully for His cause—but the disbelievers get to share in it in this world too. In the Hereafter, these pleasures are solely dedicated to the believers. Nonetheless, in this world, the bounties of Allah may be enjoyed by the believers. In fact, enjoying Allah’s bounties in this world is necessary for our rejuvenation. 

So, how do we distinguish rest and recharge from distraction and excessiveness? Scholars have explained excessiveness as our hearts becoming arrogant and attached to the comforts of this world. These are what cause us to sway from our purpose, thus becoming too fatigued to work in His Cause. We keep ourselves in check by seeing these permissible enjoyments as tools from Allah to help us continue worshiping and serving Him. As long as we are concerned with taking care of our bodies and minds, we are inshaAllah engaging in healthy practices. 

On the flipside, some of us may feel guilty taking time for ourselves. It can be tough to reconcile self-care, especially when the  ummah is in crisis. We may start rationalizing self-neglect in favor of solidarity with others who are suffering. The goal is to build resilience and recharge, so that we can maintain and increase the amount of time we spend working for Allah We should recall that Allah created us with need for rest and recharge and made this a blessing and even a source of reward, as long as we make the intention to maintain our capacity to serve through taking care of ourselves. 


Allah created us with one sole purpose: to worship Him.21 Just like the angels and all creation, He assigned us a specific responsibility: to caretake and fulfill the Will of Allah on this Earth.22 Joining hands to uplift society through establishing justice and spreading truth is a fundamental aspect of that honor Allah has bestowed upon us. Yet, in working for Allah, the road can be long and the journey arduous. 

Allah did not assign us this duty without support—He has provided us the guidance we need to succeed. Across the Quran and Sunnah, there are numerous reminders that help us reach higher levels of understanding, character, and ultimately, higher levels of reward with Him. By resetting our mentalities so that we are mindful of Allah every step of the way, we think more strategically beyond tomorrow, understanding that we work for our akhirah, whether or not we see the results in this world. With these mindset shifts, we set ourselves up for steady and sincere contribution with the support of Allah.

With Allah at the center of our efforts, we have abundant techniques to bolster and maintain our energy, tackling the pervasive challenge of fatigue in our activism. In the example of our Prophet , we strive for balance, recognizing that we owe our attention to our own development, health, and families and that leaning into these spheres also propels us forward in our work. Islam overflows with rejuvenating practices and training that protect our spiritual well being and build our resilience—whether it be anticipating and gracefully maneuvering challenges while remaining within the collective, or a mindful prayer and avoiding small sins that weaken our hearts. 

Allah did not leave us alone in the struggle for righteousness. We only have to turn to Him for support and follow His Guidance to find ease in the hardship and strength to carry a piece of light through the darkness.


  1. Quran, Surah Aal-Imran 3:110; 9:67 
  2. Important Disclaimer: this article is a religious and spiritual exploration of the causes and remedies for loss of momentum. Given the overlap this challenge has with mental and physical health, we encourage you to consult mental and physical health resources alongside this article.
  3. Surah Ad-Dhariyat: 56: “And I did not create humanity and Jinn except to worship Me”; Surah Al-Baqara: 30: “[Remember] when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to place a successive [human] authority on earth.” 
  4. Sunan Ibn Majah, 4105

    مَنْ كَانَتِ الدُّنْيَا هَمَّهُ فَرَّقَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرَهُ وَجَعَلَ فَقْرَهُ بَيْنَ عَيْنَيْهِ وَلَمْ يَأْتِهِ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا إِلاَّ مَا كُتِبَ لَهُ وَمَنْ كَانَتِ الآخِرَةُ نِيَّتَهُ جَمَعَ اللَّهُ لَهُ أَمْرَهُ وَجَعَلَ غِنَاهُ فِي قَلْبِهِ وَأَتَتْهُ الدُّنْيَا وَهِيَ رَاغِمَةٌ ‏”

  5. Sahih al-Bukhari 5972
  6. Sunan Ibn Majah 1783 8:1.
  7. 40 Hadith Qudsi, 14.
  8. Sahih al-Bukhari 6369
  9. Al-Awsat, Al-Tabarani 9448
  10.  Ibn Majah 4032
  11. Sahih al-Bukhari 6139 78:166
  12. Sahih Muslim 2750a

    فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏”‏ وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ إِنْ لَوْ تَدُومُونَ عَلَى مَا تَكُونُونَ عِنْدِي وَفِي الذِّكْرِ لَصَافَحَتْكُمُ الْمَلاَئِكَةُ عَلَى فُرُشِكُمْ وَفِي طُرُقِكُمْ وَلَكِنْ يَا حَنْظَلَةُ سَاعَةً وَسَاعَةً‏”‏

  13. Sunan Ibn Majah 4240
  14. Sahih al-Bukhari 5199
  15. Muwata’ Malik, Hadith 121
  16. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1012
  17. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 1195
    Abu Musa al-Ash’ari related that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was sitting in a walled garden on the rim of a well, dangling his feet into the well.
  18. Sahih Muslim 892d
  19. Sahih al-Bukhari 4099
  20. Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, 2380
    “‏ مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلاَتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لاَ مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ ‏”
    ‘The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath.”
  21. Surah Dhariyat: 56: “And I did not create Jinn and Man except to worship me.”
  22. Surah Baqara: 30: “[Remember] when your Lord said to the angels, “I am going to place a successive ˹human˺ authority on earth.” They asked [Allah], “Will You place in it someone who will spread corruption there and shed blood while we glorify Your praises and proclaim Your holiness?” Allah responded, “I know what you do not know.”