by Khonsa Zulfa


As we welcome the new year of the Islamic calendar, the month of Muharram, it presents us with a perfect opportunity to reflect on our lives and make positive changes. Muharram, being one of the four sacred months in Islam, is a time for introspection, spiritual growth, and setting new intentions. One of the most powerful ways to harness this moment is by cultivating good habits that can lead to a more fulfilling and productive life. Drawing inspiration from James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” and Mohammed Faris’ “The Productive Muslim,” we can explore how to start and sustain good habits effectively.

Understanding the Importance of Good Habits

Habits are the building blocks of our daily lives. They shape our behaviors, influence our productivity, and impact our overall well-being. A good habit can transform our life positively, helping us achieve our goals and fulfill our spiritual, personal, and professional aspirations. As we enter Muharram, it’s an ideal time to set intentions for the year ahead and focus on establishing habits that align with our values and aspirations.

Practical Steps to Start a Good Habit


1. Identify Your Goals

The first step in starting a good habit is to identify what you want to achieve. Reflect on your values and aspirations as you enter the new Islamic year. What are the areas of your life that you want to improve? Whether it’s enhancing your spiritual practice, improving your health, or increasing your productivity, having a clear goal will give you direction and motivation.

2. Start Small

One of the key principles in “Atomic Habits” is the idea of starting small. Clear emphasizes that tiny changes can lead to remarkable results over time. Instead of trying to overhaul your entire routine, focus on making small, manageable changes. For instance, if you want to develop the habit of reading the Quran daily, start with a few verses each day and gradually increase the amount as the habit becomes ingrained.

3. Create a Routine

Establishing a routine is crucial for habit formation. According to “The Productive Muslim,” routines help us align our daily activities with our spiritual and personal goals. Create a schedule that incorporates your new habit into your daily life. Consistency is key, so try to perform the habit at the same time and place each day. This will help reinforce the cue and make the habit more automatic.

4. Make It Attractive

To sustain a habit, it needs to be enjoyable or rewarding. In “Atomic Habits,” Clear suggests making habits attractive by pairing them with something you enjoy. For example, if you want to develop the habit of exercising, listen to your favorite nasheed or podcast while you work out. This will make the activity more enjoyable and increase your motivation to stick with it.

5. Use the Power of Intention

In Islam, intentions (niyyah) play a significant role in our actions. Setting a clear intention before performing a habit can enhance its spiritual significance and keep you motivated. Before you engage in your new habit, take a moment to set an intention and remind yourself of the purpose behind it. Always keep in mind to do everything for the sake of Allah and say bismillah in the beginning of your activity.


Overcoming Challenges and Staying Consistent

Starting a new habit is challenging, and it’s common to encounter obstacles along the way. Here are some strategies to help you overcome challenges and stay consistent:

1. Anticipate Obstacles

Identify potential obstacles that might hinder your progress and plan how to overcome them. For instance, if you find it difficult to wake up early for Fajr prayer, set multiple alarms or ask a family member to wake you up. Being prepared for challenges will make it easier to stay on track.

2. Seek Support

Having a support system can significantly impact your success in building new habits. Share your goals with family or friends who can encourage and hold you accountable. In “The Productive Muslim,” Faris highlights the importance of community and social support in achieving our goals. Surround yourself with people who inspire and motivate you.

3. Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is a powerful way to stay motivated and see the results of your efforts. Use a journal or an app to record your daily habits and reflect on your progress. Celebrate small wins and acknowledge the positive changes you’re making.

4. Practice, Patience and Perseverance

Building a new habit takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and recognize that setbacks are part of the process. If you miss a day or encounter difficulties, don’t be discouraged. Instead, focus on getting back on track and maintaining your commitment. Remember the teachings of Islam that emphasize patience and perseverance in all aspects of life.


Integrating Habits into Your Islamic Practice

As we embrace the new Islamic year, it’s essential to integrate our new habits into our spiritual practice. Here are some ways to align your habits with your faith:

  1. Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah): Incorporate dhikr into your daily routine. Use moments of downtime, such as commuting or waiting in line, to engage in the remembrance of Allah. This simple habit can have a profound impact on your spiritual well-being.
  2. Salah (Prayer): Make a habit of praying on time and with full concentration. Use prayer times as cues to perform other beneficial habits, such as reading Quran or making dua.
  3. Charity and Kindness: Develop the habit of giving charity and performing acts of kindness regularly. This can be as simple as smiling at someone or helping a neighbor. Small acts of kindness can accumulate and bring about significant positive change in your community.



As we welcome the new Islamic year and the sacred month of Muharram, let us seize this opportunity to start new, positive habits that align with our spiritual, personal, and professional goals. By understanding the science of habit formation, starting small, creating routines, and seeking support, we can build habits that will enrich our lives. Let us remember that every small step we take towards self-improvement is a step towards a more fulfilling and productive life. May Allah grant us the strength and perseverance to develop good habits and lead lives that are pleasing to Him.