Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research

10 Acts of Worship When You Can’t Pray

Ramadan is a month of worship filled with fasting, prayer, and Qur’an. During this time, the Prophet ﷺ was known to be abundantly generous, engage in extra dhikr, and recite even more Qur’an. So as we continue to come closer to Allah throughout this month, let’s do our best to embody prophetic precedent and diversify our worship. And while the ritual act of salah is undoubtedly one of the best ways of connecting with Allah, the reality is that (especially for our sisters!), salah is not always an option. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have other opportunities to keep yourself engaged. Below are ten ways to increase and change up your worship!

1 – Renew your intentions for mundane acts.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Deeds are by their intentions, and a person will be rewarded according to their intention” [Bukhari and Muslim]. Anything you do can be transformed into an act of worship with the simple intention of doing so for Allah’s sake. Getting some shut-eye to have energy throughout the day while fasting? Spending hours helping your family prepare and clean up after iftar? All of these routine activities can be spiritual tools that bring you closer to Allah.
  • So how do you renew your intentions? It’s as easy as verbalizing it in your mind. For example, when you’re setting up the dinner table for iftar, you can think, “O Allah, I am preparing this for your sake.” And no need to stop there. You can also intend to help prepare to make your family happy, serve your parents, give everyone the strength they need to stand in prayer, and so on and so forth–all to please Allah!

2 – Recite Qur’an.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will be credited with a good deed, and a good deed gets a ten-fold reward. I do not say that Alif-Lam-Mim is one letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter” [Tirmidhi]. Motivate yourself to read more Qur’an by visualizing the endless reward you’re gaining by reading even just one line! This is not to mention that your reward in Ramadan is further multiplied, so every letter is worth even more.
  • Do you find it difficult to recite Qur’an? The Prophet ﷺ said, “The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur’an will be with the honorable and obedient scribes [i.e., angels], while the one who recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have double the reward” [Bukhari and Muslim].
  • On your menstrual cycle? Download a Qur’an app on your phone or tablet to listen to or recite.[1]

3 – Read Qur’anic commentary (tafsir).

  • Familiarizing yourself with the meanings and stories in the Qur’an allows you to more intimately connect with Allah’s words. It’ll give you the tools you need to engage in reflection and understand the relevance of the Qur’an in your daily life.
  • Don’t know where to start? Check out our list of tafsir books available in English. Not a fan of reading? Go ahead and follow along our Qur’an 30for30 series.

4 – Make du’a and talk to your Creator.

  • Take time to talk to Allah. Tell Him that you want to know Him better, that you want to be happy and successful in this life and the next. Ask Him to settle whatever troubles you may have and rest assured that whatever difficulty you are going through does not go unnoticed by the One Who Always Listens.
  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Du’a (itself) is worship” [Abu Dawud] and Allah commands us to make du’a to Him [Qur’an, 40:60]. Thinking of what to say to Allah can sometimes feel overwhelming. For inspiration, check out our free ebook to get a list of Ramadan du’as.
  • Make du’a for others. The Prophet ﷺ said, “The supplication of a Muslim for his brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says, ‘Ameen! May it be for you, too’” [Muslim].

5 – Express gratitude.

  • Make a conscious effort to think about all the blessings Allah has bestowed on you from your physical appearance, your talent, and your intellect, to your family, friends, and material possessions. Thank Allah verbally by saying Alhamdulilah (Praise to Allah). Think of how being able to express gratefulness is a blessing in itself, feel the sincerity of your own gratefulness, and let your heart be moved by the words.
  • Say thank you to someone you have not thanked. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever does not thank the people has not thanked Allah” [Tirmidhi]. Show gratitude to your mother for every little thing she has done in your life. Or offer thanks to your spouse or sibling for the little things they do like preparing a meal or helping run errands.

6 – Practice mindfulness and hold yourself accountable (muhasabah).

  • Choose a time of day and get into a comfortable posture in a quiet and secluded place. Be aware of your natural breathing and then progressively relax the muscle tension throughout your body. Settle your state of heart and mind by feeling the life and energy Allah gave you throughout your body. Know and feel that Allah is watching you, and focus on being present with Him in that moment.
  • Take a healthy, critical look at yourself. What makes you disobey Allah? Self-accountability (muhasabah) is not about beating yourself up for your own shortcomings, but seeing yourself (nafs) for what it is, realizing the greatness of Allah in comparison, and working on positive change.
  • Make a list of things you need to work on, from character traits like anger or stubbornness, to habits like wasting time. Reflect on the gratitude list you made. Reflect on this new list. As you raise your hands for du’a, imagine them as mountains next to each other. What do they look like? What have you been given by Allah? What do you owe Him?

7 – Serve your parents/family members.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who desires an increase in sustenance and his life to be prolonged should maintain good ties with his blood relations” [Bukhari and Muslim]. Serving our parents and family members opens the floodgates to Allah’s mercy and blessings. And like every other good deed, caring for our family’s needs during the month of Ramadan in particular is multiplied many-fold.
  • Ask your family members if they need help running errands, setting up a doctor’s appointment, or watching their children. Not only will helping them gain Allah’s pleasure if done for His sake, but it will also strengthen your relationships.

8 – Give charity.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Every day, charity is due from each joint in your body. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification (i.e., SubhanAllah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of praise of Him (i.e., Alhamdulillah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of profession of Faith (i.e., La ilaha illa Allah) is an act of charity, and every utterance of His Greatness (i.e., Allahu Akbar) is an act of charity; and enjoining good is an act of charity and forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity; and two rakahs of prayer which one offers in the forenoon (i.e., Duha) will suffice for all this” [Muslim].
  • “The Prophet ﷺ was the most generous of men, and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibril visited him every night and recited the Qur’an to him. During this period, the generosity of Messenger of Allah ﷺ waxed faster than the rain bearing wind” [Bukhari and Muslim].
  • Make an effort to give locally to support your immediate community, in addition to donating to the wonderful relief causes globally. You can also give sadaqah jaariyah, continuous charity, to Yaqeen Institute as we strive to instill faith into the hearts of people.

9 – Feed a fasting person.

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, he will have a reward like theirs, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest” [Ibn Majah]. So, invite your friends, neighbors, and family members, and if you don’t have the time to cook, go ahead and order takeout.

10 – Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah (dhikr).

  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who utters 100 times in a day these words, ‘La ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no true god except Allah; He is One and He has no partner; His is the sovereignty and His is the praise, and He is Omnipotent),’ he will have a reward equivalent to that of emancipating ten slaves, one hundred good deeds will be recorded to his credit, one hundred of his sins will be blotted out from his scroll, and he will be safeguarded against the devil on that day till the evening; and no one will exceed him in doing more excellent good deeds except someone who has recited these words more often than him” [Bukhari and Muslim].
  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who utters, ‘SubhanAllahi wa bihamdihi (Glory be to Allah and His is the praise)’ 100 times a day, his sins will be obliterated even if they are equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean” [Bukhari and Muslim].
  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who utters 10 times, ‘La ilaha illa Allah, wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay’in qadeer (There is no true god except Allah; He is One and He has no partner; His is the sovereignty and His is the praise, and He is Omnipotent),’ he will have a reward equal to that of freeing four slaves from the progeny of Prophet Ismail” [Bukhari and Muslim].
  • Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (rA) reported: We were with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ when he asked, “Is anyone of you unable to earn a thousand good deeds?” One of those present asked, “How can one earn 1,000 good deeds in a day?” He ﷺ replied, “By saying SubhanAllah (praise be to Allah) 100 times, 1,000 good deeds will be recorded for him or 1,000 sins will be blotted out from his record” [Muslim].
  • The Prophet ﷺ said, “I met Ibrahim (as) on the Night of Ascension (Al-Isra), and he said to me, ‘O Muhammad, convey my greetings to your ummah, and tell them that Jannah has a vast plain of pure soil and sweet water. It is a plain leveled land. The plants grow there by uttering: SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, La ilaha illa Allah and Allahu Akbar (Allah is free from imperfection; praise be to Allah; there is no true god except Allah; and Allah is Greatest)” [Tirmidhi].

There are so many ways to worship Allah in addition to salah. So, what are you waiting for? Ramadan time is ticking.


[1] There is a difference of opinion regarding reading the Qur’an (even without touching a mushaf) when not in a state of wudu’.