Anti-Procrastination Goal Setting of an Intelligent Person


Asalamoalaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

People proudly say that they procrastinate. I got caught in the latest ‘fad’ as well a few months ago when I used to discuss what needed reviewing in terms of the topics for a certain exam and how my preparation was going in general.

I used to respond with a heavy sigh,’Ah, just been procrastinating!’

And that’s when I’ve seen people exclaiming ,’ME toooo!’ so excitedly as if it was some sort of a high-five moment.

Of course, after that encounter innocent me thought that it was OK to be procrastinating. Everyone was doing it.  I shrugged off the whole thing and didn’t give it another thought for a long time.

There must be nothing really wrong with it except not being able to finish a few chapters for the test in advance.

In terms of dunia, it was not a big deal. I mean who cares about a silly paper that needs to be done by next Monday. I’ll probably stay up all night and finish it off that way.

But do you know what? It slowly creeps into you, the germs of procrastination infect your whole body and before you know it , it actually becomes a HABIT and affects every aspect of your life!

Similarly, there are people ‘procrastinating’ (myself included) in terms of deen. That’s when it gets really dangerous. Fine, it’s extremely hard to obey Allah SWT all the time but if the goal behind that obedience is intact, then nothing in the world can stop you from obeying Him Azz Wa’Jall. In other words, if your goal (intention) is the correct kind of goal then your motivation for that certain action or act of obedience only increases with time. You no longer end up procrastinating. You’re always ‘in the zone’. You have that insatiable thirst to keep on doing the same thing over and over again, be it worship Allah SWT everyday or memorize the Quraan.


One of the ways to find out if there’s sincerity in your action is to find out if you actually procrastinate in your acts of Ibadah. So, if you procrastinate in praying your Fard Salah…check your goals and hence sincerity. You may have traces of hypocrisy. And so on and so forth.

But did you know that procrastination or the Shaytan that makes you do it, is one of the soldiers in the army of Iblees? SubhanAllah. He definitely doesn’t have any procrastination now does he! Mr.Super-determined Shaytan!

I bet you didn’t!

Al-Hasan bin Abee Bakr informed us: ‘Abdullaah bin Ismaa’eel AlHaashimee informed us: ‘Abdullaah bin Muhammad bin ‘Ubayd narrated to us: Ismaa’eel bin Ibraaheem narrated to me: Saalih Al-Murree narrated to us from Qataadah from Abul-Jild that he said:”I read in some books: ‘The word sawfa is indeed one of the soldiers in the army of Iblees (i.e. the Devil).” The Arabic word “sawfa” denotes the future tense. For example, it can be translated as: “I will do such and such” which indicates procrastinating or putting something off for tomorrow or a later time.

Why do people procrastinate? Do they think they’re going to be alive the next moment even? Do they feel secure from His Punishment? Or do they think they can tell Angel of Death that , ‘O Angel of Death! I have to make up my left-over fasts or pay off a loan or apologize to someone I had hurt in the past…so please could you come back later?’


It’s true that one needs motivation and patience to follow Allah SWT’s Commands and keep away from haram but seek strength from this ayah:

“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.” [Quraan, Surah Al Baqarah, v.216]

Ibn Al Qayyim(rahimullah) said the following about the above verse:

The perception of the ignorant does not go beyond the basics of life; his perception  does not reach the goals, but the intelligent person always keeps his eye on the goals behind his actions in life.

The intelligent person perceives forbidden things like delicious food, which contain fatal poison. Whenever its pleasure arouses his interest, the reality of the poison would push him away from it. Also(similarly), he perceives the orders of Allah as bitter medicine that leads to good health and recovery.

When it’s bitterness urges him not to take it, the reality of its usefulness leads him to comply. This requires knowledge (certainty) that is more than rudiments of the religion in order to understand the essential goals. It also requires strong patience to adjust oneself to it in order to bear the difficulties that come with that goal.

So if he loses certainty and patience, it would be difficult to achieve the goal, and on the other hand if his certainty and patience is strong, every difficulty would be rendered easy for him for the sake of permanent good and eternal pleasure. [Imam ibn Al Qayyim, Al Fawaed,pp.232]


Take-home Messages

  • Gain knowledge to increase your certainty about the reward you’ll get for having patience. If you don’t, it’s more likely you won’t feel motivated to be patient!
  • If following Allah SWT’s command difficult for you now, rejoice! It just means you’ll get more reward for it!
  • Whenever you feel you’re about to fall into sin, quickly remind yourself that a pleasure of an hour is going to kill you with regret because of several years of hellfire whose fuel are humans and stones!
  • Allah SWT knows that it may be hard for us to follow His Commands , which is why He said this in the Quraan and we should firmly believe that even if we sometimes dislike a thing, it is very likely that it is good for us.
  • If you’re sincere, your goals will be correct, you’ll have constant motivation and inshaa’Allah you’ll never procrastinate and always obey Him SWT.
  • How do you know that you’re sincere? If your intention/goal is to Seek His Pleasure Only!
    • So that can be even in your worldly matters: for example, if you’re tired and you still have to make dinner for your family, what you could do is connect your heart to Allah SWT and make the intention that I’m going to cook so that my family members get energy to do proper acts of worship which in turn will make Allah SWT happy.
    • Other examples:
      • I’m going to study engineering so that I can earn money lawfully and fulfil obligations Allah SWT has put on me such as supporting family etc.
      • I’m going to put up with my kids’ tantrums and discipline them gently regardless of what happens so that Allah SWT blesses them with a pious disposition and that they do acts of worship which please Allah SWT.
      • If parents/siblings/spouse/relatives say something hurtful, you should think: I’m going to be kind to them not because they are kind to me but because Allah SWT will be happy if I am kind to them.
      • I’m going to give a Khutbah not to become popular but to make people of my beloved Ummah love Allah SWT and help them through the Guidance and Help from Allah SWT to Jannah.
  • Summary:
    • Knowledge–>Certainty—>Sincerity—>Motivation to have a goal + to stick with a goal—>Patience throughout Action—> ACHIEVEMENT! (i.e.Jannatul Firdaus inshaaAllah)
    • 2 Key things you must arm yourself with then: (1)Knowledge  and  (2) Patience

[A gentle reminder to myself first and then others]

And Allah SWT knows BEST.

May Allah SWT make our intentions and actions sincere before the act, while doing the act and long after doing the act until we die.Ameen.


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