how to balance it all

A Complete Step-by-Step Self-Development Plan for Muslims: 3 Success Levels, No Confusion, No Overwhelm.

Nobody ever makes a plan to be lazy, dumb and a failure.

But if you don’t make smart plans, you will be all of those things.


Because you failed before you even began. That’s the harsh truth.

Creating a complete self-development plan is NOT supposed to be the most difficult thing in the world. It’s a simple straightforward task. But we equate it to climbing Mount Everest.

BTW, this is the fifth article of the entire Self-development in Islam series. 

You can read the previous articles of the series by clicking the links below:

Muslim A: “Have you made your self-development plan? Ugh… I’m so confused, I don’t know whether I should start with the Fiqh or study Al-Bidaya Wal Nihaya? Maybe I will start with both…”

Muslim B: “Umm… I’ll probably start with the complete Tafseer of the Quran from Ibn-e-Kathir.”

Muslim A: “That’s smart. Do you know I was awake till 2:00am last night making my plan? I missed Fajr again man, I feel bad.”

Muslim B: “Oh yeah, I missed it too. But its fine I guess since we were making Islamic plans.”

I hear that and I sigh loudly with exasperation.

Fiqh before fixing your Fard Salah? Cloudy plans over Fajr? Seriously?

There are so many things wrong with that conversation. Here are a few:

# 1: Your self-development plan is supposed to be easy to start, should scale up the difficulty ladder and MOST importantly, should have an order of priority.

Why would you start with the study of Fiqh when you don’t even pray Fajr on-time regularly? Baffling.

# 2: It’s NOT supposed to be overwhelming or else you will bail out.

Al-Bidaya Wan-Nihaya, Tafseer Ibn-e-Kathir… can somebody please explain what’s going on here? Why would you study from such extensive sources when you should be starting with simple word-by-word translation of the Quran and Seerah of our Prophet Muhammad S.A.W?

I can understand why we all make grandiose plans because it gives us a sense of self-satisfaction.

Thinking about “great things we plan on doing” pumps up our ego. But deep-down we know that when things difficult we’ll probably drop our plans and continue as before. And the possibility of that is so difficult to face that we keep making these plans to quieten our conscience.

Look, guilt is not your ultimate goal. If not handled well, it can be a seriously harmful emotion that will drag you down with it. 

You need to create realistic plans to be a better Muslim and actually follow through them.

With that said, I know how difficult it can be to plan and follow through especially when it comes to fighting against your Nafs. 

So today I have a complete guide for you that will help you make your self-development plan from the start and direct you on how to scale upwards.

Areas of Self-Development

better muslim
The 3 most important areas that you should work on in my personal opinion are:

1. Ibadah; this includes all spiritual acts of worship such as prayer, fasts etc.

2. Islamic Knowledge; this area covers all the different branches of Islamic education that one can study such as Quran, Arabic, Fiqh, History etc.

3. Service/ helping others; this includes interpersonal relationships, giving back to the Muslim community and helping others in any way.

Before beginning, the MOST important thing to remember is- Your Islamic knowledge should help you practice all acts of worship in a better way.

Your knowledge should have a direct positive impact on both the other areas of self-development (If it’s not, then you need to re-evaluate yourself).

And your spiritual relationship with Allah should help you with your inter-personal relationships and gaining knowledge.

All of these areas are intertwined, with a directly proportional relationship with other areas.

But if I tell you to work on these areas ALL at once, you won’t be able to move further than a few steps forward before it gets too much and you drop everything.

So to make it easy for you, I’ve divided the different acts of Ibadah under 3 levels- Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

This way you’ll be able to pinpoint exactly where you are presently and where you want to be, Insha’Allah.

It will help you cut through overwhelm and work on yourself slowly but surely. You’ll know exactly what your next step is. No puzzles. No confusion. And definitely NO over-loaded plans that have a volatile expiry date. 

So here’s what you’re going to do:

You’re first going to assess your present stage as a Muslim. What level are you at? You could be starting at zero level (there’s no shame in admitting that- in fact, it takes a lot of courage to start there), or you could be a level ahead.

Each level is explained below. Study them thoroughly, then define your current level, your goals and exactly where you need to start. Be true to yourself.



  1. 5 Obligatory (Fard prayers)
  2. Recitation of Quran (with or without proper Tajweed)
  3. Obligatory fasts of Ramadan

Note: I’m not including Zakat and Hajj here as they are not applicable for everyone (especially young Muslims starting out) but they are Fard acts of Ibadah and are included at this stage if applicable.


  1. Proper Tajweed of the Quran
  2. Translation of Quran (complete Quran at least once)
  3. Hifz of important shorter Surahs (Surahs that are recited in prayers such as Surah Falaq, Surah Teen etc.)
  4. Hadith (memorization of 40 hadith)
  5. Seerah of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W (read it from one authentic book at this stage. My personal preference is Raheeq-ul-Makhtum- The Sealed Nectar)
  6. Duas & Daily Azkaar


  1. Relationship with your parents, spouse & children
  2. Minor Dawah (immediate family members)
  3. Giving minor forms of charity (For e.g., helping family members, sharing food etc.)



So by this stage you should be regularly applying all the things you learned in the BEGINNER stage. Only move forward when you have near-perfected the acts of worship in the previous stage.


Extra Nafal Prayers/ fasts & other forms of Ibadah (Salat-ul-Duha, Tahajjud etc.)


  1. Tafseer of Quran from a single reliable source (complete Quran at least once)
  2. Hifz of important longer Surahs (Surahs that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W recited day and night regularly such as Surah Yasin, Surah Mulk etc.)
  3. Studying word-by-word Arabic of the Quran


    1. Relationships with others (relatives, friends, neighbors etc.)
    2. Intermediate Dawah (close relatives, friends, social circle etc.)
    3. Giving minor as well as occasional major forms of charity (For e.g., giving money and/ or making donations etc.)


It goes without saying that by this stage you should be regularly practicing all the things you learned in the BEGINNER and INTERMEDIATE stages. 


Extra Nafal Prayers/ fasts & other forms of Ibadah (Salat-ul-Duha, Tahajjud etc.) When you progress as a Muslim, you try and make more of extra Sunnah acts of Ibadah a part of your daily routine.


  1. Tafseer of Quran from multiple reliable sources (and/ or complete Quran repeatedly)
  2. Complete Quran Hifz (starting Hifz with the intention of memorizing the whole of Quran). 
  3. Studying detailed literary Arabic with Grammar (also includes reading Arabic literature to understand the deeper meanings of Quranic Ayahs). 
  4. Other advanced fields of study (Fiqh, Islamic history etc.)


  1. Advanced Dawah (National or International level)
  2. Giving major forms of charity (For e.g., larger donations, helping refugees etc.)

A few personal tips to help you get started

* Decide what level you’re at and start working on completing that level before you move on to the next.

* Pick one thing from each area at a time and work on it till it becomes almost effortless (I say “almost” because no act of Ibadah can be a 100% effortless as Shaiytan’s evil powers will always resist in one way or another).

* Start with the acts that you find relatively easy rather than jumping headfirst into the deep waters.

* ALWAYS make du’a that Allah S.W.T helps you. Every time you get stuck- make dua. Every time you’re overwhelmed- make dua. And you don’t always have to make dua from the Arabic dua books. In fact, you should also make dua in your own language.

* Don’t compare your present state with that of other Muslims. If you constantly look at other Muslims ahead of you, you’ll get depressed and lose out on motivation. If you constantly look at other Muslims behind you, you’ll become arrogant and static. 

* Treat yourself every time you advance. Every act of worship that you practice is a MUCH bigger achievement than acing your college exams. You deserve a healthy treat!

* Surround yourself with positive people who are at the same level as you or a level ahead of you. Compete with them in a healthy Sunnah way as well as help them move forward (no- that’s not counter-intuitive, it’s possible to do both).

Wrapping up… What can you expect from this Self-Development In Islam series?

In this particular series, I will cover topics under emotional, physical and mental aspects of self-improvement.

The article updates will be delivered IN your INbox via our MYP-Weekly Newsletter ; ).. Yes we are cool, we have a newsletter B )

FYI.. Most of the content I write is exclusive to my mailing list crew– I love them to bits! You may see an article here on the blog every other week or so—BUT— I send a value-packed email every week to my list. Join in so you don’t miss out on all of the good stuff! 

1 Comment

  1. Abdulazeez

    Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh Dr Saifullah,

    Jazakallah Khair for creating a life-changing website. I plan to continue to improve and get better at my Islamic Education area because of how important they are to my Deen, my life. I plan on attending an Islamic school to educate myself more and teach the knowledge to others.


Your amazing comment...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Enter your info below to learn how to become the next best version of yourself, InshaAllah!

YAY, you're IN! Alhamdulilah :) Stoked to have you on-board! Check your email inbox. My email will be sitting there, waiting fo' you! :)

Enter your info below toget first access to the Exclusive Training for Starting and Growing your Aligned, Profitable Online Business for More Impact, Income, and Freedom

Thank you for signing up for the exclusive free training for Online Muslim Entrepreneurs! Your email has been registered and you'll get first access to the training as soon as it is released!

Enter your info below toget access instant to the Free Clarity kit:

3 Simple Steps To Finding ClarityFor Your Unique Path of Purpose, Impact, and deep fulfillment

Thank you for signing up for the free clarity kit for Muslim professionals aspiring to become Online Entrepreneurs! Check your email to access your kit and get started on unmasking your next move today!

Enter your info below toget first access to the pre-sale bonuses forEmpowered Muslim Entrepreneur

Thank you for signing up for the waitlist of our upcoming brand new program, Empowered Muslim Entrepreneur. It's the best thing I've created and it'll blow your mind away! I can't wait to share more about it with you very soon in sha Allah! Keep an eye on your inbox for upcoming emails from me with more info.

Subscribe to the Big Win Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!