by Abu Productive
I am always fascinated by daily routines. I believe they are the key to leading a successful, productive life. How you live your day, each day, is how you live your life. The small consistent actions of today add up to create the life achievements (or failures) of tomorrow.
As part of my fascination with daily routines, I love to read and learn about the daily routines of successful men and women of history: people who achieved tremendous accomplishments and make you realise that you haven’t even scratched your full human potential yet. By exploring and learning the daily routines of successful people, you discover new habits and new routines that might lead to your own success, In sha Allah
As I was learning and exploring daily routines, it occurred to me that there could not be a daily routine that is more successful, more balanced, and more pleasing to Allah than the daily routine of our beloved Prophet Muhammad . He is the most successful man who ever lived, and the most successful man both in dunya and akhirah.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” [Qur’an: Chapter 33, Verse 21]
Some pointers to keep in mind
Based on this, I started reading and compiling the daily routine of Prophet Muhammad as narrated to us by his loyal companions and his devoted family. Before I start though, I must mention a few things:
- Most of my readings concentrated on the time after he migrated to Madinah and established the first Islamic community. The reason for choosing this period and not the Makkan period is because the Prophet Muhammad and his companions were not able to live freely in Makkah due to the persecution of the Makkans at that time and hence there wasn’t an established “routine” that they could follow without risking their lives and facing persecution.
- The word “routine” may be misunderstood; the Prophet Muhammad did not have a strict routine that he followed diligently each day. As you’ll see below, he used to adapt each day to the needs of his community and family. Having said that, you can see a clear structure for his days (mostly surrounding prayer times) and never was a moment ‘wasted’ or not utilized at its best.
- In order not to make this article too long, I avoided quoting all the narrations that make up the description of the Prophet’s daily life. This is to avoid prolonging the article and making it difficult to read. Nevertheless, if you’re not sure about any of the descriptions below or are interested to find out which hadith relates to which description, please let me know in the comments section at the end and I’ll share the reference.
- Finally, I must mention that one of the best, most concise, and well-researched books that I’ve read on this topic is a book in Arabic by Sh. Abdul-Wahab Bin Nasir Al-Torari. The book’s name is “اليوم النبوي” (“The Prophetic Day”) and it’s available to download in PDF from here for those who wish to read the detailed Arabic book.
With that, let’s begin exploring the daily routine of Prophet Muhammad and learn how we can apply some of his routine to our modern lives today. I’ll do this in two ways. I’ll first simply describe how he spent each part of the day and then highlight some practical ways of how his routine for that part of the day applies to our daily lives.
From Fajr till sunrise
I want you to close your eyes and imagine yourself in the household of the Prophet Muhammad at Fajr time. The call to prayer is called by Bilal , which wakes up the Prophet who was taking a nap after his long night prayer.
He wakes up and the first thing he does is use the siwak and say this dua: “All praise is for Allah who gave us life after having taken it from us and unto Him is the Resurrection.” He listens intently to the adhan and says what the muadhin says then he makes his wudhu and prays the two rak’ahs of sunnah of Fajr prayer. After his two rak’ahs, if his wife is awake, he speaks to her lovingly and if she’s asleep, he would lie on his right side until the iqama is called.
When Bilal would see that the people have gathered, he would come close to the Prophet’s house and say: “Prayer, O Prophet of Allah.”
Leaving the house
The Prophet would come out of his house, look up to the sky, then say this dua: “In the name of Allah, I place my trust in Allah, and there is no might nor power except with Allah. O Allah, I take refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip or be tripped, or oppress or be oppressed, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly.”
Entering the masjid
Then he enters the masjid with his right foot and says this dua: “In the name of Allah, and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, open the gates of Your mercy for me. I take refuge with Allah, The Supreme and with His Noble Face, and His eternal authority from the accursed devil.” When Bilal sees him enter the masjid, he would call the iqama and the Companions would stand in rows and the Prophet would lead them in prayers.
Following Fajr prayer
After the prayers, the Prophet would remember Allah and perform the adhkar after salah, facing the people as he performs these remembrances.
Then the companions gather closer to the Prophet and he would face them and talk to them. Sometimes he would admonish them with a powerful admonishment that would make the Companions cry, sometimes he would tell them a story, sometimes he would ask them questions, sometimes he would ask if any of the Companions saw a dream and he would explain it for him or he’d share a dream he had and explain it to them. Other times he’d just listen to the Companions as they spoke about their lives, perhaps remembering their lives before Islam and they’d laugh at the ignorance they used to live in and the Prophet would smile with them. The Prophet would sit with them until the sun rises.
After sunrise, the Prophet would go back to his home. He would enter his home saying: “In the name of Allah we enter and in the name of Allah we leave, and upon our Lord we place our trust.” As soon as he enters, he would use the siwak, and say salam to his whole family and visit all his wives, asking how they are and making dua for them. During his visits, he might ask if there’s any food available that day; if there is, he would eat, and if there’s none, he would say “Then, I’m fasting”.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Fajr and sunrise
- Waking up with the adhan of Fajr
- Using siwak as soon as you wake up
- Praying two rak’ahs of sunnah of Fajr at home before leaving to masjid
- Saying the remembrance of waking up, leaving home and entering masjid
- Praying Fajr in congregation
- Staying after Fajr prayer remembering Allah with the remembrance after salah and the morning adhkar
- Spending some time in a circle of knowledge after Fajr prayer with your friends or brothers from the masjid, learning about your deen until sunrise
- Coming back home, reciting the rememberance for entering the home, checking up on your family in the early hours after you come back from the masjid and ensuring they are all well, and making dua for them
- Occasionally deciding to do voluntary fast even after sunrise if you didn’t have anything from Fajr
Between sunrise and Dhuhr time
Morning majlis (gathering)
After he visits his family, he would go back to the masjid and pray two rak’ahs, then he would sit in the masjid and the companions would gather around him. This was a known time for everyone in Madinah to come and see the Prophet if they wanted to spend time with him, ask him anything or needed anything from him. Sometimes there’d be lots of Companions and sometimes there would be few, depending on the Companions’ schedule and activity that day. Sometimes the Companions would take turns to be at this gathering and learn from the Prophet whilst others go to trade or farm in the land and they would teach each other what they learnt from the Prophet later in the day.
The Prophet would spend this time teaching and sharing from the knowledge that Allah has given him. He wouldn’t simply sit and lecture; he would sometimes ask questions or get into a discussion with the Companions with the aim of teaching them a lesson, and this helped in developing the knowledge of the Companions and the iman in their hearts.
Sometimes newborn babies were brought to the Prophet during this time, so the Prophet would perform the sunnah of tahneek, make dua for them, and seek Allah’s blessing upon them. Sometimes a new harvest would be brought to him so that the Prophet makes dua for it and he would give this new harvest to the youngest child in the gathering.
This was the time that the Prophet would also receive delegations from those who converted to Islam and he would greet them and seek their news and see how he can help them.
At these gatherings, the Prophet never had a special seat or clearly marked symbol, to the point that when strangers would come to the gathering, they would have to ask who among them is the Prophet! (Only later in his life, did the Companions insist on making a special raised area for him and the Prophet agreed).
Sometimes food would be given as a gift at this gathering and everyone would eat together and there would be enough for everybody even if food is little, from the blessings of Prophet Muhammad .
This gathering extends or contracts depending on each day, but it lasts till the time before Dhuhr when the Companions would go to their homes or their fields for a nap before Dhuhr.
During these hours between sunrise and just before Dhuhr, the Prophet would also go to visit some of his relatives and companions. He might visit his daughter Fatimah and spend time with his grandsons, or he might visit his Companions who invited him that morning, or who are ill and not feeling well.
Also, during these hours he would walk through the market, greeting the passersby with his beautiful smile, greeting children on his way, and if a person stops him (whether male or female, young or old), he would stop and listen to them and see how he can help them. Sometimes he would walk alone, other times with his Companions.
Before Dhuhr time, the Prophet would go to the house of his wife whose turn it is to spend that day with, and as soon as he enters, he would first use the siwak, say salam to his family and pray 4 or 6 or 8 rak’ahs of Duha prayer. Then sometimes if there’s food he eats, and if there isn’t he would continue his fast if he started fasting that morning.
Usually at this time, the women of Madinah would come and visit the Prophet and ask questions about their religion which they might be embarrassed to ask in a crowded masjid. The wives of the Prophet would be there to explain feminine matters of the religion.
This is the time when he would also be helping his family, serving them, repairing his shoes and clothes, milking the sheep or goat, and helping himself and his family with daily chores. He would also spend quality time with his family, talking, smiling and laughing with them.
Sometimes whilst at home, his close Companions would visit him at this hour such as Abu Bakr , Umar and Uthman .
Then he would take a nap till close to Dhuhr time.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between sunrise and Dhuhr
- The time after sunrise till Dhuhr is the time to pursue one’s main activity during the day, either going to work, seeking knowledge, or performing duties such as visits or charitable work
- Duha prayer should be offered during this time at a minimum of 2 rak’ahs and maximum of 8 (or 12 according to some narrations)
- If you’re at home one should be serving their family, helping them with chores, and spending quality time with them
- It is recommended to take a nap before Dhuhr prayer as per the sunnah
From Dhuhr till Asr
When Dhuhr time comes and Bilal calls for prayer, the Prophet would wake up from his nap if he’s still asleep, and would make wudhu then pray in his home four rak’ahs of sunnah prayers before Dhuhr. He’d wait for the salah in his home, then he’d come out to the masjid and Bilal would call for the prayer to start.
After Dhuhr prayer, this is when he normally goes to the minbar (pulpit) and give a speech to the Companions. Most of the Companions gather at this time, so the masjid is full and they are awake from their naps so they are mostly alert and fresh.
After this speech, he would return home and pray the two rak’ahs sunnah after Dhuhr then he’d go out with his Companions to fulfill certain duties needed in the city or he’d stay in the masjid till Asr.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Dhuhr and Asr
- Praying the four rak’ahs sunnah before Dhuhr and the two rak’ahs sunnah after Dhuhr in your home (or office/school) and praying the Dhuhr prayer in congregation
- Reminding yourself with some religious knowledge after Dhuhr when you’re mostly alert (perhaps by attending a circle or listening to an Islamic podcast or lecture)
From Asr till Maghrib
When the call to prayer for Asr is called, he would wait for people to gather in the masjid, then encourage them to pray four rak’ahs before Asr prayer. He’d then lead them in prayers and after the prayers he’d face them and give a short talk. He did not prolong it since many of his Companions would need to head out to complete their duties and prepare their evening meals before the sun sets.
Once he returns from the masjid after Asr, he would visit all his wives and settle in his wife’s house whose turn it was to spend the night with. Sometimes, all his wives would meet in the house of the wife whose turn it is. Normally, at this stage, the Prophet would have like a “halaqa” with his family but in a relaxed atmosphere; he would ask his wives questions or they’d ask him questions and the Prophetic house would learn and grow in understanding of their religion.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Asr and Maghrib
- Praying four rak’ahs of sunnah before the Asr congregational prayer
- Praying Asr in the beginning of its time and not delaying it
- Spending time with family to learn about the religion and revise matters of the deen together
From Maghrib till Isha
When the Maghrib adhan is called, he wouldn’t stay long and would proceed to prayer. When he would enter the masjid, he’d see his Companions filling the Masjid and praying the two rak’ahs he recommended before Mahgrib. As he enters the masjid, the iqama is called and he leads his Companions in a prayer in which he normally recites short surahs.
After the prayer is over, he doesn’t give a talk because people need the time to rest and have their dinner. He would come home and pray the two rak’ahs of sunnah after Maghrib, then he’d have his dinner. Sometimes he used to invite some of his companions over to have dinner at his place if there’s food; sometimes he’d come home and find nothing except dates and water. Sometimes days would pass and food wouldn’t be cooked in the house of the Prophet .
His food was placed on the floor for him, and the Prophet never ate on a table. When the food is brought to him, he would say “Bismillah” and eat from what’s next to him, and he would eat with three fingers. He never complained of whatever was presented to him: he either ate it or he would leave the food if he didn’t like it.
If he was eating with one of his wives, he would make this quality time for her, to the point of feeding her sometimes or eating from the portion where his wife ate from, or drinking from the same portion his wife drank from.
If he sat with his friends, the dinner meal never went by without a pleasing talk, or teaching manners or spreading knowledge.
After he finished eating, the Prophet used to lick his fingers and praise his Lord abundantly for the food given. He would then wash his mouth.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine between Maghrib and Isha
- Praying two rak’ahs before Maghrib prayer
- Shortening the Maghrib prayer and praying it at the beginning of its time
- Not giving a lecture/talk after Maghrib prayer (depending on the situation of the people)
- Praying the two rak’ahs of sunnah after Maghrib at home
- Having dinner after Maghrib prayer, either with his family or Companions
- Speaking during the dinner meal and having a pleasant conversation
- Following the Islamic manners of eating: saying Bismillah, eating with the right hand, eating from what’s next to you, and saying Alhamdulillah after eating (try to also follow the sunnah of eating with three fingers and licking your fingers after eating)
From Isha till midnight
The Prophet would remain in his home until the call to prayer for Isha is called, and he would normally not hasten the Isha prayer. If the Companions are gathered early, he would start the prayer; if the Companions are delayed, he would delay the prayers.
He would rarely speak or give a talk after Isha, because the people are tired and they need their sleep.
More family time
Then the Prophet would return to his home and pray the two sunnah rak’ahs after Isha prayer. He would then spend a small amount of time talking to his family and enjoying their company. Sometimes he would go to his close Companions’ houses and spend time with them, especially his close friends Abu Bakr and Umar .
Sometimes on his way back from the Companions’ houses he might pass by someone reciting Qur’an beautifully and he would stand there and listen. Or he would enter the masjid and say salam to whoever is there, as the masjid always had the poor Muslims spending their days there. He would pray in the masjid before entering his home.
Going to bed
When he enters his home, he prepares himself for sleep, hangs his clothes and enters into bed with his wife, sharing a blanket and a pillow together. His bed was made of animal skin stuffed with fiber and his pillow was made of similar material. He used to place his siwak close to his head, so that he’d use it as soon as he wakes up.
He would sleep on his right side, and place his hand under his right cheek, then recite the adhkar before sleeping. Sometimes he would then talk to his wife and spend quality time conversing together before they drift off to sleep.
Then he would sleep, and if he turns during sleep, you’d hear him say a special remembrance, and would continue sleeping until midnight.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine after Isha till midnight
- Delaying Isha prayer as much as possible (this is dependent on the Imam of course: for those who are being led, they should not go late to the masjid)
- Praying the two rak’ahs of sunnah after Isha at home
- Spending quality time with the family after Isha or with close friends
- Spending quality time with the spouse before sleeping
- Remembering Allah before sleeping
From midnight till Fajr
When the night reaches midnight, Prophet Muhammad wakes up and sits, wiping sleep from his blessed face, and he’d take his siwak and brush his teeth with it, then he would look up to the sky and think plenty and read the last ten verses of Surat Al-Imran. He would then get up and make wudhu, put his clothes on and start his night prayer either at home or in the masjid.
Performing night prayer
Sometimes before starting his night prayer, he would remember Allah abundantly, glorifying him, as if to charge his energy for the long night prayer ahead. His first two rak’ahs were quite light and short, after which he proceeded with his long night prayer.
If you were to observe the Prophet praying at night, you’d feel that he’s truly immersed in another world and he’s in no haste to finish. He gathers all his emotions, feelings, and callings and pours them into his prayers and calling upon his Lord. He would read hundreds of verses, verse by verse. If he passes by a verse that has mercy in it, he would ask Allah for His mercy. If he passes by a verse that has punishment in it, he would seek Allah’s refuge from the punishment. And if he passes by a verse that glorifies his Lord, he would glorify his Lord.
Not only were his recitations long, but even his bowing and prostration were almost as long as his standing, to the point that one day one of his Companions joined him for the night prayer and was about to quit because it was getting too difficult for him.
The Prophet remained in this state of praying, supplicating, glorifying, reciting, bowing and prostrating from midnight till there was nothing left of the night except a sixth of it. He would then wake his wife to join him for Witr prayer and they’d pray three rak’ahs of Witr together.
Sometimes during the hours between midnight and Fajr, the Prophet would leave his house and go to the Baqee’ cemetery and make dua for the deceased. This was especially during his last years on earth .
When the night was about to end and the last sixth was remaining, the Prophet would go to bed and rest his body till Fajr prayer and the beginning of a new day.
Practical tips from the Prophet’s routine from midnight till Fajr
- Sleeping after Isha and waking up after midnight for night prayer
- Starting by using siwak, remembering Allah , making wudhu and getting ready for the night prayer
- Starting the night prayer with two light/easy rak’ahs and then getting into longer ones
- Immersing yourself in the experience of night prayer and not trying to hasten it
- Waking up your family to pray Witr
- Going back to sleep after your night prayers till Fajr
Reflections from the Prophet’s routine
As you read the above, you probably had a parallel thought crossing your mind: How’s my routine stacking up to this blessed routine?
Reflecting on the above, there are few points to keep in mind:
- The Prophet’s day was organised around prayer times. As we say at ProductiveMuslim, plan your life around salah and not the other way round.
- Even though the Prophet was busy (he was a husband, father, community person, statesman, general, and most importantly, a Prophet!) you can feel that his routine wasn’t stressful. Everything eased into each other.
- It struck me how much time he was spending with his family; I counted at least 4-5 times where he spends quality time with his family in a day despite the demands on his time.
- He was also a community person, making an effort to visit people and fulfilling rights, teaching, and looking after those who need help.
- You can feel that the secret to the Prophet’s energy and balance in his life, is his long night prayers at night; that barakah from the long night prayer was pouring into the rest of his blessed day and making him lead a successful, productive life.