Rites of passage have in the recent past given way to rights of passage. The service of traditional cultures has morphed into the entitlement of progressive societies. In a world where the ego is worshipped and gratification is the ultimate motive, it is now more imperative than ever to seek refuge in God from “The Evil I.”
The flood of Noah عليه السلام endured 40 days before the earth was renewed with land fertile for faith; Moses عليه السلام was in communion with God for 40 days before he received the law; Jesus عليه السلام was tempted for 40 days before he was called “the Spirit of God.”
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was 40 when he received his first revelation. He taught that life in the womb progresses according to three sequential 40-day terms before the angels descend for ensoulment, and he prescribed 40 days for mothers to rest after delivery. Forty is a milestone in all Abrahamic faiths, and it follows that the heart should be delivered of its maladies after 40 days of consistent striving toward a spiritual rebirth.
Virtue vanquishes vice and our sages stipulate that embellishment emanates from emptiness التخلية قبل التحلية. Research in psychology has demonstrated that it takes an average of forty days to eradicate a vice or establish a virtue. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ once said, “The best of all deeds are those most consistent over time, even if small” خير الأعمال أدومها وإن قل. The spiritual wayfarer who has set out to migrate to Allah and His Messenger ﷺ must take provision, and “…indeed, the best provision is to heed God” فإن خير الزاد التقوى (al-baqarah 2:197).
Our lord ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb once said, “Take account of yourselves before you are called to account” حاسبوا أنفسكم قبل أن تحاسبوا. Our spreadsheet will help you track your progress toward your goal of forty days.
Our spreadsheet is arranged according to devotional goals—i.e., Prayers, Qur’an, Litanies, and Fasting—and safeguarding the seven limbs and faculties—i.e., the tongue, ears, eyes, stomach, hands, feet, and privates. Each of these is separated on our spreadsheet by tabs at the bottom. We designed the spreadsheet on Microsoft Excel, so we cannot guarantee the utility of the spreadsheet on other software.
Once you have the spreadsheet downloaded to your computer, click any of the tabs at the bottom (indicated in red below) and select any of our suggested, preset goals (highlighted in yellow below). You may also change any of these to goals of your own.
For each day that you have either eschewed a vice or embodied a virtue, click on the checkbox corresponding to that day. To erase your check mark, you will need to click in the empty space right next to the check box and press the delete button.
Our 40 Day Challenge mandates only one rule with no exceptions: if you manage to get to Day 39 and fail to reach Day 40, you must start over at Day 1.