Redefining My Spiritual Relationship With Self-Care As A Muslim Woman

Photo: Noor Alsaeed.
Amid the swirling chaos of work meetings, the persistent struggle to have my art respected as a Muslim woman of color, and the cutthroat NYC firm culture, I find solace in the words of Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” She taught me that self-care is an act of resistance.
As a Muslim woman, I deeply believe that self-care is a tenet that is encouraged by my religion. Because Islam is community oriented, it’s impossible to consider being in service of others without preserving and being in service of ourselves. Omid Safi, a distinguished Iranian American professor of Asian and Middle Eastern studies at Duke University and the author of my favorite book, Radical Love: Teachings from the Islamic Mystical Tradition, analyzes this notion from an academic perspective.
He explains that embracing self-love will pave the way for extending love to others and that becoming compassionate individuals is essential for genuine connections and care toward those in our communities. Islam emphasizes the importance of prioritizing health by guiding us to manage stress so that life’s challenges don’t cause us to self-destruct, practicing moderation in our eating habits, and seeking medical treatment for illnesses. 

Coming from an immigrant family, and carrying the many responsibilities and challenges that come with it, I used to have a terrible habit of overlooking caring for myself.

Coming from an immigrant family, and carrying the many responsibilities and challenges that come with it, I used to have a terrible habit of overlooking caring for myself. I often shoved aside my mental health and physical wellbeing. I used “being busy” as an excuse, which was really just a code word for being the daughter of a single immigrant mother hailing from a low-income household, where I bore the weight of providing for my family through excessive work. Yet, within the teachings of Islam, every human being is special and has a unique place in the eyes of God. Thus, taking care of our mind, body, and soul transcends mere self-care — it transforms into an act of worship.
For instance, in Islam, the concept of cleanliness is also deeply rooted in our practices. “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is absolutely a unifying factor for Abrahamic religions, including mine, as the Qur’an ordains it the responsibility of every Muslim to maintain a high level of personal hygiene. The Qur’an also promotes an optimistic mindset, with a major emphasis on always seeing life through the lens of gratitude, a mentality with a transformative power only recently tapped into by today’s wellness girls in trending TikToks and self-help YouTube videos. Anyone that’s ever had a Tumblr is familiar with the famous Qur’an quote, “Verily, with hardship comes ease.” Dedicated moments of reflection help us recenter.
Recently, I’ve finally developed a solid self-care routine and have been basking in the glow of my new groove. Along with my five daily prayers and reading the Qur’an, I like to practice recitations with my tasbih (prayer beads), which basically amounts to repeating affirmations throughout the day to promote mindfulness. It’s calming to watch my hands move over the shimmering gold and silver beads of my tasbih. In fact, I’ve become so inspired by this age-old practice that I’ll be instructing a tasbih-making activity with Muslim Girl this May 31 at the Met museum to acquaint young people with the relief that holistic meditative practices can bring us.
When evening approaches, I immerse myself in aromatherapy, inhaling the fragrant scents of lavender and sea breeze oils while repeating affirmations. Some of my favorite affirmations are “I am exactly where I’m supposed to be in God’s divine plan,” “I have been uniquely designed for a purpose,” “The more I understand myself, the more I understand His greatness.” Following my daily affirmations, I pamper my skin with a luxurious forest green liquid blend of Senself Calming Botanical Serum, made with the essence of thyme, cucumber, mulberry, and elderberry.
Completing my nighttime ritual, I treat my hands to a fluffy vanilla-scented lotion and apply Arab oud musk on my neck, a beautiful warm white musk layered with woody notes. I conclude by journaling my thoughts out where I can dive deep and be poetic. In this moment I become so rooted in my physical space even beyond my beige dotted line paper because self-care is not just about being emotionally aware, but also physically aware. 
Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is a core part of my religion. I honor God by loving myself. Even though this is a recent journey of discovery for me, I’ve been delighted to find that so many other Muslim women have been part of their own journeys with self-care through spirituality like my own. I had the chance to speak to some of them about their own experiences:

Mina Hasan

Digital creative Mina Hasan says, “Self-care is different for everyone. For me, I heavily associate self-care with fitness, prayer, and journaling. Just like skincare, these three actions require you to show up every day to improve your long-term health. Even if you can’t give your full 100%, showing up and giving 1% is better than nothing. Whenever I’m lacking in one of these categories, I find myself spiraling into low self-confidence and isolation. I’ve found that keeping a healthy balance of all three is what makes me feel healthy and fulfilled.”

Furvah Shah

Cosmopolitan UK journalist Furvah Shah explains, “Self-care and, interchangeably, self-love, is really important to me as a Muslim woman. Whether it’s having a high standard of hygiene for myself and my space or taking pride in my appearance, I believe it’s an act of faith to take part in self-care and it betters not only my mental health, but my spiritual health. Also, as Muslims, we believe that God created all living things in His fashion so I truly believe that self-love goes hand in hand with my spiritual practice and helps me build confidence!”

Roksanara Happy

Digital creator Roksanara Happy says, “Taking care of myself as a Muslim girl is like finding a balance between my daily routines, like washing up for prayer (wudu), with taking care of myself. Doing wudu several times a day isn’t just a religious duty; it’s also a chance to refresh my mind and body, keeping me clean and focused. So self-care and religious duties go hand in hand, helping me stay healthy and connected to my faith.”

Safa Arshadullah

Safa Arshadullah, a behavioral and cultural analyst says, “I try my best to pray five times a day, read the Qur’an every night, and make dua consistently — and with that, I relinquish control to God and ground myself in my faith. Islam also places importance on creating a support system that reminds you to turn back to God during times of unease, allowing me to rely on loved ones who can provide new perspectives on navigating tough moments. My self-care is rooted in spiritual and community care, placing trust in God as best I can.”


“Self-care for me has been very vital and understanding that everyone deserves a break. Days can get long, nights can be stressful, so for me self-care is really praying to my Lord as I cry my eyes out on my prayer rug and then later, washing my face and doing my skincare routine while watching YouTube. Combining both my religion and wellness into a self-care routine has really helped me be a well-rounded Muslim woman, not making me feel guilty for having bad days sometimes because we all deserve a little love,” says digital creator Safiatu

Fatima Zaidi

Writer Fatima Zaidi says for her as a Muslim woman, self-care means, “to always prioritize myself even when the situation becomes difficult. Being Muslim and South Asian simultaneously, many women like me have been taught while we were growing up that self-care or prioritization of us is at the very bottom of things we should be caring about. The things that come before are validation, being overly concerned with what people may have to think or say, doing things according to society’s expectations/deadlines, etc. So, to me, self-care, at its core, is valuing and appreciating yourself before anyone and everyone else.”
After reading these reflections, I hope to challenge and dismantle the ludicrous stereotype that Muslim women are restricted in their pursuit of self-care, or that self-care is somehow incompatible with Islam. My faith is both beautiful and perfect, and through engaging with diverse Muslim women, I aim to showcase the multifaceted ways in which self-care is embraced within our Muslim community. Each unique perspective highlights the intersectionality of faith and personal well-being, reaffirming that self-care is not only permissible but also deeply ingrained within our religious teachings.
We live in a world where capitalism will continue to hinder how we prioritize our health and self-care. However, I hope my ink — and every byline ever written by a person of color — continues to resist such systems. Let’s continue to love ourselves. 
This article is proudly published in partnership with in honor of Muslim Women's Day, the annual global campaign to amplify the real stories, experiences and voices of Muslim women.

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