"There was for Saba, aforetime, a sign in their homeland [Yemen] two gardens to the right and to the left . . . be grateful to Him[Allah] . . .But they turned away, and We sent against them the flood released from the Dams [Maarib dam]" (Qur'an. Saba:15-16)
We did a Ramadhan poetry writing activity during our picnic today –maa sha Allah the sisters (of all ages) came up in about 20 min with very moving pieces. I provided them with the first line–one that Maryama (one of my Leadership Camp girls came up)– and they had to come up with the rest. The line was “It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye.” Vote for the best Insha Allah. Enjoy !
It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye,
Ramadhan is a month of peace,
Ramadhan is a happy month of revolution,
But we shouldn’t listen to Shaytan rather come together as one.
Ramadhan is the month of charity,
When we think of the poor,
Ramadhan is the month of taraweeh.
This is all what Ramadhan is all about.
It is almost Ramadhan,
And Shaytan will say bye bye.
Ahlan wa Sahlan ya Qur’an,
To the Sunnah we will abide.
That came from one blessed man,
And spread to all man-kind,
A month that increases our Iman,
When for forgiveness we will cry.
It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye,
Now its time to aim high to fast and pray day and night.
To strengthen our iman and ask for forgiveness,
Feed the poor and needy and try not to be greedy.
Go to the masjed daily and focus on Islam,
Make a lot of dua and perform lots of Sunnahs.
We should make most of our time asking Allah for mercy, forgiveness and Insha Allah grant us Jannah.
It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye,
We will have our food and ingest the Qur’an until we cry.
Remember those who are poor and suffering in need,
Remember those we need to feed.
This is the month to repent,
Don’t forget everything Allah has sent.
As Ramadhan comes to an end,
We must uphold and defend,
Those whom are weak,
All in all it is Jannah that we seek.
It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye,
We stay up late reading Qur’an sitting together side by side.
This holy month lifts our spirits and brings families together,
But then the month comes to an end, we hope we’ll stay forever.
We help the ones who are in need because like us they need to feed,
And in the end we figure out that worshipping Allah is what it is all about.
It is almost Ramadhan and Shaytan will say bye bye,
So let’s take advantage of this blessed month before it goes by.
Stand up and pray before you’re prayed upon,
And remember Allah from morning to dawn.
There’s a night called Laylat Al-Qadr so remember to stand,
As the angels will pray on the oceans and land.
The door of Jahanam is closed so don’t be like those,
Who have forgotten Allah and dozed.
So, give to the needy and don’t be greedy.
And remember to change and control your rage.
‘Cos you’re given a chance–the first ten is mercy, then comes forgiveness ,
So “May Allah make us among those who are freed from Hell.”
There were a lot of teary eyes during last Thursday’s halaqa. We talked about the Prophet’s Farewell Pilgrimage, Farewell Sermon and Death. His legacy is truly attests to the fact that through perseverance the victory of truth over falsehood can be realized. It shows the possibility that through faith one person can revive and change the world forever. Belief and success in a Muslims life are intertwined–both this world and the Hereafter.
We are not a “Nobel Prize Ummah.” For us the most prestigious prize is as Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an,” . . . whoever is spared Hell and is admitted to Paradise shall surely triumph” (3:185)–and if along the way according to “human” criteria we win a Nobel Prize so be it. But it is not our ultimate goal. It is not a goal in and of itself, for Allah (swt) warns us,” . . . the life of this world (with all its luxuries, wealth and privileged positions. awards, prizes etc) is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion” (3:185). This is a powerful concept, one that those dealing with Muslims would pounce on rather than crinkle their noses at. You see when a person works for a financial goal, a person’s time and effort is worth how much one is paid. Consequently when paid less the hours worked and the effort follow suit. And if one is not paid enough, then there is no reason for one to work at all–it simply is not worth it. The same applies if one is not appreciated through raises and promotions.
But imagine when Muslims do all that they do in this world solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). It is a life-long powerful concept and motive. Whether they are paid or not, appreciated or not, promoted or not in this dunya it does not matter because they have their eyes on the real prize–a life of eternity close to Allah (SWT) in a Jannah whose width is that of the earth and the heavens. This is what Umar Ibn Al-Khattab meant when he said, “We are a people whom Allah has elevated with Islam, and if we sought elevation through any other means we will be humiliated and disgraced.”
This is what makes us Muslims unique–sets us apart from other “wordly” nations. And amongst ourselves we should also seek uniqueness–so if by praying, fasting, doing hajj or umrah, and wearing hijab you think you are already unique think again? Millions pray, fast, do hajj or umrah, and wear hijab ! This is the collective uniqueness about the Muslim Ummah–something you share with the whole Ummah. But what really makes you unique among them? What are you doing for Islam that is unique? If you can’t answer this question yet, you have not found your niche in Islam. The best job you can ever have is with Allah (swt)–all the Prophets (as) worked for Allah (swt). He (swt) was their boss. So, if you are truly sincere, hand in your job application to Allah (swt) through dua, and He (swt) will guide you to your job “title” and “description.” Insha Allah. Be sincere and motivated, Allah (swt) only accepts the best among His slaves to work for Him (swt). Are you up for it?
Now to the farewell pilgrimage and sermon. They were witnessed by 100,000 Muslims. In it he (saw) showed them and us the rulings for pilgrimage–and to this very day we imitate him (saw) to a T. As for his farewell sermon, it was a message both to the Ummah during his time and the Ummah at large. They were his final commandments that he (saw) wanted us to hold on to firmly after his death. He begins:
O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I will be amongst you. Therefore, listen carefully to what I am saying and take these words to those who could not be present here today. O People! Just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, your deeds.
He then warned us against Shaytan,” Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope of that he will be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.” The “big” things are those that are like “associating gods with Allah (swt) and worshipping them either with or instead of Allah.” But remember he can lead us astray in other ways. See my summary on the BB4 Muslimas Halaqa on Shaytan.
He (saw) did not forget to warn men about our rights over them, and to remind us of our rights over men:
O People! It is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.
Throughout the Seerah we have witnessed how much the Prophet (saw) was a supporter of women’s private and public roles and rights–whether in the home or in society at large. Yea even in warfare, he (saw) never excluded women. If you ever come across someone who claims the opposite, now you know. Doubt yourself and your understanding of what you come across about his sayings related to women, but never doubt the Prophet (saw).
He (saw) warned against discrimination and racism–at a time way before anti racism, discrimination and abolition movements:
All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.
Furthermore, he (saw) reminds us that he (saw) will boast about us on the Day of Judgment to other nations, and in turn asks us not to shame him on that day by coming with sins that will prevent him (saw) from it. Then the most emotional part of all in the whole sermon was when he (saw) said:
I am a human being, and I will die. Allah will ask you about me, what are you going to tell Him?” The companions said, “We will tell Him that you had informed us with His message and you had done your best. We will ask Him to reward you with the best thing He will ever reward any prophet with. Will you bear witness that he (saw) did? Will you be able to say, ““We will bear witness that you have conveyed (the message), discharged (the ministry of Prophethood) and given wise (sincere) counsel”?
Saying it is not enough, but acting upon, implementing and applying it is the only way to appreciate it. By doing so you are attesting that it is a message that it is worth following. Nothing other than that will bear witness–i.e being true to your word. For complete farewell sermon click here. Finally on the day of Arafa, on a Friday, the following verse signaling the completion of Allah’s favor upon us is revealed. Allah (swt) announces the completion and perfection of our religion in the verse, ” Today I have completed your relgion for you, and I have perfected My favor on you, and I am satisfied with Islam as a religion for you” (5:3).
Now back in Medina, the Prophet (saw) addresses the people of Medina saying, “O my people. I am pleased with Abu-Bakr, Omar, Ali, Othman, Talha, Al-Zobayr, Sa’d, Ibn-Ouf, Al-Muhajireen, and Al-Ansar. I am asking you to take care of my family, and companions.” He (saw) warns against “whipping” others with our tongues, “Do not ever talk ill of anybody without a proof.” Then the beautiful hadith mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim by Ibn ‘Abbas (raa) said:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “All the nations were shown to me and I saw a Prophet with a small group, and a Prophet with one or two men, and a Prophet with no one at all. Then an enormous mass was shown to me and I thought that they were my community. I was told, ‘This is Musa and his community, but look to the furthest horizon,’ and there was an enormous mass. It was said to me, ‘This is your community. Among them are seventy thousand who will enter Paradise without reckoning or punishment.'”
The Prophet (saw) then fell ill, during this time he (saw) led the prayer sitting. Also during this time the last verse of the Qur’an was revealed, “And protect yourselves against a Day in which you will be returned to Allah. Thereafter ever self will be paid in full what it has earned, and they will not be done injustice” (2:281)
During the Prophet’s (saw) final days he thought about us, yes us. He missed us then without knowing us, so you can imagine what a reunion with him (saw) for real will be like insha Allah. Abu Hurayra reported:
The Messenger of Allah (saw) came to a graveyard and said, ‘Peace be upon you, abode of believing people. Allah willing, we will join you. I wish that we could see our brothers.’ They [the companions] said, ‘Are we not your brothers, Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘You are my Companions. My brothers are those who will come after me, and will believe in me without seeing me. I missed them so I cried’”(Related by Muslim and Malik in Al-Muwata).
The last three days he (saw) was too sick to lead prayer and accordingly he ordered that Abu Bakr to take his place. He (saw) then gathered his wives and asked them to grant him permission to be nursed at his wife Aishah’s (raa), and they all agreed. The prophet (saw) experienced the agony of death and said, “There is no God but Allah; death indeed has agonies.” The Muslims started to worry about him (saw). So, he (saw) with difficulty addressed them on the pulpit reminding them of the final meeting place by Al-Kawthar. He (saw) added, “Allah (SWT) gave a choice to one of (His) slaves either to choose this world or what is with Him in the Hereafter. He chose the latter.” Abu Bakr (raa) wept profusely–he understood that the world would forever weep over the loss of the noblest man who walked this earth.
Then the prophet (saw) said, “To whoever I whipped, come and whip me. To whomever I took money from, come and take my money. To whoever I cursed, come and curse me.” The prophet (saw) continued, “Fear Allah in Salah. Fear Allah in your relatives. Fear Allah in women, and take care of them.” Realize the importance of prayer. Then he (saw) made dua for this Ummah, “May Allah shelter you, grant you victory , protect and support you”. Finally he said, “Remember me to all the Muslims who will come after my death till the Day of Judgment.” He sent his salams to you back then. Wa Alaikum Assalaam O Prophet of Allah.
It is the final night, and Fatima (raa) came to see her father. She sensed that it was the end, because for the first time in his life he did not greet her at the door and kiss her on the forehead. He (saw) asked her to come close so that he (saw) could tell her a secret. He (saw) whispered in her ear and she started to cry. He whispered again, and she smiled. When asked later by Aishah (raa) she said, “He told me that it was his last night, so I wept. Then he told me that I will be the first of his family to follow him, so I laughed.”
It is the final hour, and the Prophet’s (saw) head is resting between the chest and chin of his wife Aishah (raa). Angel Gabriel (as) entered and asked permission for the entry of the Angel of Death and he (saw) granted permission, at which the Angel of Death said, “Allah sent me to ask you if you want this world or the Highest Companion?” He (saw) chose the latter, at which the Angel of Death stood at the Prophet’s forehead and said, “O good soul of Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, come out to a Lord who is totally pleased with you.” I wonder how the Angel of Death will address our souls? Will it say, “Come to a Lord who is totally pleased with you” or otherwise?
The death of the Prophet (saw) was a hard blow on the companions–how could it no be when they had spent 23 years, if not more, with him (raa). Even Umar (raa) was in shock. He drew his sword and threatened anyone who claimed that he (raa) was dead. In the midst of this all, Abu Bakr (raa) the most soft hearted of all the companions after confirming the Prophet’s (raa) death and bidding his body farewell saying, “Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you. By Allah, Allah will never cause you to die twice. As for the death which was written for you, it has come upon you.” stood up and said:
If anyone amongst you used to worship Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead. But if anyone of you used to worship Allah, then Allah is Alive and shall never die. Allah said , “And in no way is Muhammad (anything) except a Messenger; the Messengers have already passed away before him. Then, will it be that, in case he dies or is killed, will you turn (Literally: turn (s) over on) on your heels? And whoever turns (Literally: turn (s) over on) on his heels) he will never harm Allah in anything; and Allah will recompense the thankful” (3:144).
He (raa) shook the Ummah to its senses.
But despite the fact they were sad, and with sadness and difficulty they washed, shrouded, prayed over and buried the body of the Prophet of Allah (saw). With heavy hearts they went home, and grieved for the greatest calamity that had ever befallen them. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab from that moment on used to say, “Whenever a calamity befell me after that, I would compare it to the loss of the Prophet of Allah (saw) and it would seem very trivial.”
The following Fajr Bilal (raa) called for prayer and on reaching, “I bear witness that Muhammad is His Prophet,” he (raa) broke down crying as did the whole of Madinah. He (raa) asked to be relieved from that duty, a request that Abu Bakr (raa) granted.
We wept last Thursday overcome with an immense feeling of loss. But remember the real loss is if you are not reunited with him (saw) by Al-Kawthar, the promised meeting place where he (saw) will be waiting to meet you. If your lifestyle in this world is far from that of his (saw) Sunnah, it would indeed make you ineligible to be one of his companions in Jannah. He was unique in every way, are you?
Today we talked about a notable female companion, Al-Shifa bint Abdullah (raa), who entered Islam during the earliest stages of the Prophet’s message. She (raa) endured, as did the early Muslims, the persecutions inflicted upon them by both the leaders and people of Quraysh until Allah (swt) permitted them to migrate to Al-Madinah. In Al-Jahiliyyah, she was skilled in the art of Ruqyah (healing through supplication). After embracing Islam she demonstrated this skill–Ruqyah–to the Prophet (saw) for permission to either continue, modify, or stop it altogether. See how conscientious she was that all she did conformed to Islam. The Prophet (saw) not only asked her to continue performing Ruqyah, but even suggested she teach it to his wife Hafsah bint Umar ibn Al Khattab (raa).
Al-Shifa was among the few individuals, at the time of Jahliyyah and the early days of Islam, who were literate –i.e. could read and write. Al-Shifa (raa) taught these skills to Muslim women, including Hafsah (raa). She sought the reward and pleasure of Allah (swt) and is known today as the first female teacher Islam. In Musnad Ahmed it is reported that the Prophet (saw) made a very special arrangement for Hafsah’s education with Shifa bint Abdullah (raa), who taught her the art of writing. This probably has a connection with the fact that all the biographers report that the Prophet (saw) after obtaining all the handwritten portions of the Qur’an compiled, he (saw)kept a copy with Hafsa (raa) rather than any of his (saw) other wives.
Ruqyah and literacy weren’t the only two strengths of Al-Shifa, indeed Umar ibn Al Khattabl when he was caliph (raa), appointed her as officer, or wali, in the administration of the marketplace. Al-Shifaa was probably the first Muslim woman to hold an official position in public administration.
Al-Shifa was empowered by the skills that Allah (swt) blessed her with, and showed her gratigue by using them to benefit the Muslim Ummah of her time. What skills do you think we Muslim women currently need to empower us, and in turn use to benefit our current Muslim Ummah (and in the long run bring about the establishment of Islam on earth once more Insha Allah)?
We discussed the legacy of the female companion of the Prophet (saw) Nusaybah Bint Ka’ab–a.k.a. Um Umarah, the mother of the martyr Habib Ibn Zaid. We marveled at the fervor with which she defended the Messenger of Allah (saw) in the Battle of Uhud.
In the Battle of Uhud she showed tremendous courage at a time when many men deserted the Prophet (saw). Indeed, she was a women worth ten men. The Prophet (saw) said that wherever he (saw) looked there she was standing firmly defending him, even when her shoulder gave in to Ibn Qami’as blows and after she fell in her own pool of blood.
Seeing her steadfastness in defending him (saw), he (saw)looked at her and asked her who could endure what she was . With confidence and obstinacy she responded that she could endure even more. Then she requested that the Prophet (saw) grant her his companionship in Jannah, to which he (saw) answered, “Not only you, but your whole family.” At which he (saw) raised his hands to Allah (swt) and asked that Allah (swt) grant her her and her family that very honor.
Today, as in the past, the Messenger of Allah (saw) is being attacked as well. Not with the sword, but the weapon of our time–the pen. Do you remember the cartoons that came out in a magazine in Denmark and later on republished in Holland and Norway? This is but one of the many attacks on our beloved Prophet (saw). So, did Southpark here in the USA. And don’t forget the Seattle cartoonist who even launched a “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day“. The attacks continue and will continue, unless we Muslims take action. Muslims? Why Muslims? Aren’t those who attack the Prophet (saw) completely to blame? No, we are partly, if not mostly, to blame. Unlike the victims of the Holocaust and Anti-slavery activists we have not made our issue with this attack on, and disrespect of our Prophet (saw) clear.
Your group assignment is as follows:
In your respective groups, I want you come up with a plan to defend the Messenger of Allah (saw) in our current day and age–like Um Umarah did during her time, and in accordance with the moment she was in. Make use of the tools of today–the pen, the internet, media, advertising, campaigns etc. I am asking you to do so within our capacities and not beyond them. Justify your choices–for instance if you have chosen to put together a website then how is your website going to differ from those already around.
Why work hard on this assignment, although it is not graded?
Who knows, you may get to use this plan in the future to defend the Messenger of Allah (saw). But know that if today insha Allah you have the sincere intention to do so, Allah (swt) will give you the rewards for actually executing this plan. That is grounds enough to work hard on this assignment insha Allah.
At the last hour of class each group will present their plan to the rest of us.
The countdown for the most blessed month of the year has begun. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and warm up.
We want to be in “Ramadan mode” before Ramadhan rather than waste the first week trying to get into it. It is too precious of a month to waste with that nonsense, and it goes by very fast. We want to reap maximum benefits from the very start. Believe me, you won’t accomplish much without preparation. Here are some tips to welcome Ramadhan in your life and home insha Allah:
Get into the fasting mode–the first day of fasting is hard for some of us Muslim folk. I personally experience a throbbing headache the first day, and it usually lasts throughout the first day and night. Consequently, enjoying the first day of taraweeh is not an option. With every sajdah I feel my brain banging against my skull. To avoid this and any other “adjustment” symptoms that your body goes through the first day of fasting, fast on Mondays and Thursdays during Sha’ban. Your body will adjust to fasting, and you will be able to make necessary changes to help your body adjust. Remember this coming Ramadhan falls in Summer, and we will be fasting long hours. So get a feel of how your body will react to it, and adjust your Sahoor regimen to prevent dehydration/constipation etc. Also, get into the habit of eating a light Iftar in preparation for taraweeh next month, so you can enjoy it rather than pant through every Sajdah. Check out this Ramadhan Health Guide. Here’s a nice pdf about Dates .
“Clean up! Clean up!”–clean your home thoroughly before Ramadhan. Clean out your refrigerator to make space for storing food if you don’t intend to cook everyday. Clean out your pantry and make a list of what food items you will need for the whole month including Eid. A tidy house means a tidy mind. Plus you will have more time in Ramadhan to do Ibadah insha Allah.
Lose your need to shop–fill up your pantry, refigerator and freezer with what you will need both for Ramadhan and Eid. You won’t be able to stock up on fresh produce and perishable foods, but those should reduce your need to go to the grocery store at a minimum. Even better shop at the local farmer’s market for fresher produce. Furthermore, it is customary to waste the last precious days of Ramadhan shopping for Eid . How could you when there is a day in the last ten days of the month that is worth more than a thousand months (80+ years)? Get your Eid shopping done in the month of Sha’baan.
Plan on keeping cooking to a minimum–Ramadhan specific dishes are in almost every culture, although it is a month that calls for simplicity. We’re meant to cut down and not over do it. We’re meant to eat less and not more. If you must make samboosa and other time consuming dishes, then prepare them beforehand and freeze. Intend to spend no more than an hour a day max in the kitchen during this blessed month and remind yourself to make dhikr (remembrance) or listen to either Qur’an or a lecture that will add to your knowledge and elevate your spiritually while you are cooking.
Put your heads together and your arms around each other–in other words make it a family affair. If a husband is reading this and thinking that this check-list is just for his wife, it isn’t! It is for you as well. Help her prepare for Ramadhan as well by fasting with her during Sha’baan to encourage her, help her with the cleaning, shopping (love being a Yemeni, because shopping is always on the men), samboosa making etc. If you can’t help her with any of these, then the least you can do is keep the kids occuppied while she does. If you have kids get them involved as well. If your kids are going to practice fasting this year, here’s something you can use for them.Make daily family time plans, such as committing to reading a part of the Seerah every day of Ramadhan, or a surah memorization challenge etc. Here are more activities that you can do with your kids: Ramadan Activities for Kids.
Has the Qur’an been complaining about you? If you are among those who fall into the category of “. . . my people had abandoned this Qur’an” (25:31) then it is time to apologize. Not verbally but in action. Start reading Qur’an daily, preferably after Salatul Fajr. Spend time listening to recitations from the Qur’an to find a reciter you feel comfortable with check out tvquran. To read along with a reciter with correct tajweed use Quran Explorer. Enjoy Qur’an by reading tafseer. This is the time to mend your relationship with the Qur’an, in hopes that it takes you on as a companion/friend. It needs to make its mind up about how serious you are about it. It befriends those who sincerely want to be friends with it. Set your reading/recitation schedule now so you are all set once Ramadhan begins, e.g read/recite 4 pages after each salaat to finish a juzu per day. I’ll let you do the math based on your goals ! Did I mention that I am an English teacher not a math teacher?
Acquire new habits— learn new habits from the sunnah such as: having wudu’u at all times, giving charity (small so that you can keep it up) on a daily basis, doing volunteer work (help at your local soup kitchen or food shelf etc. ), praying extra optional prayers such as the duha prayer, witr prayer, qiyam al layl, etc. Make time for tasbeeh (takbir, tahmid, tahlil) and other forms of dihikr. Memorize the different duas such as those of the morning and evening, entering the restroom, looking in the mirror, leaving the home etc. Review the fiqh (Islamic rulings) of fasting. Evaluatte yourself daily before going to bed and consequently repent for your mistakes and sins. Try to “fast” from the internet during the day so you seriously don’t suffer withdrawal symptons during Ramadhan and waste precious days from Ramadhan.
A daily moment of silence–specify an x number of hours a day for seclusion (khulwah) so that you may contemplate. Be creative with this, so that you can continue it after Ramadan. If it were me for instance, since I love reading I would make a list of books by Islamic scholars I would like to read such as: Ibn Al Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyah, Al Ghazali, and read them during my hours of seclusion. The aim being that through their works they will transfer me from my life to theirs–so that I am able to see the universe and everything in it through their eyes–and consequently connect with Allah the Creator as they did.
Clean your ears out–not with a Q tip! But with listening to Islamic literature before and during Ramadhan. Make a list of either lectures or series of lectures for Islamic scholars , Shuyookh or Da’ees. Decide on for instance listening to the whole series of “Ghurabaa” by Ali at Tamimi, Ahmed Jibreel’s “Legends of Islam,: or Abu Abdissalam’s “Heavenly Pearls.” All of these and more are available at Kalamullah . There are even more on Halal Tube. At this time especially it is crucial that you listen to material on the month of Ramadhan such as for instance one of my favorites: Waleed Basyouni’s “How to Make this your Best Ramadhan”. Also Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s “Preparing for Ramadan“.
Organise a Ramadan timetable – Stick it on the wall where you and everyone in your house can see it. Divide your schedule into the following sections:
1) Me and Salaat: if you already feel you are doing well with the five obligatory prayers (as regards to when you perform them and how), try and attain khushu’u. Plan on praying the 12 rakaas of sunnah. Add shurooq , dhuha and witr salaat. Try and get some Quiyam Al-Layl every night or every other night. Don’t forget the Taraweeh everyday, and Quiyam on the last ten days of Ramadhan. Listen and read about these forms of worship to motivate yourself.
2) Me and Dua: make a list of your duaas, yes, write them down. Focus on them throughout Ramadhan.
3) Me and Qur’an: intend to finish reading/reciting the whole Qur’an this Ramdahan. If you have taken a tajweed class, now is the time to practice, and if not then maybe this is a time to take it. Try and fit in some memorization as well. If you do not read Surat Al-Kahf every Friday do it this Ramadhan insha Allah. You can also gather as a family and have everyone read an x number of verses, or if you are a couple each of you read a page, it will bring you closer insha Allah.
4) Me and my family ties: call up all your parents, siblings and relatives or send them cards with short notes to establish connections, and tell them you are thinking of them this Radmadhan. Don’t forget that long lost aunt or uncle!
5) Me and Dawah: be a good example to others, be on your best behavior at work and other than work. Be productive, more than in other months. Show how happy you are to fast for Allah although it is hard and challenging. Don’t lose your temper, be sluggish and lazy, or full of excuses not to work hard because you are fasting. A suggestion for dawah would be taking a box of dates to work and placing it in an area where all your co-workers can help themselves. Place a note saying “We are celebrating Ramadhan this month” and people are bound to come and ask you about Ramadhan, that is a golden opportunity for dawah. If you have close non-muslim friends suggest that they fast for a day and invite them over for Iftar. Maybe even provide them with articles by non-muslims on the benefits of fasting. You can even give your neighbors a tray of iftar with a note about Ramadhan.
6) Me and Sadaqa: Plan on giving sadaqa everyday, even if just a dollar a day. Be attentive to the needs of people in your Muslim community and our local Islamic centers and masajed. . For instance you can buy a few copies of the Qur’an and place them in the masjed so you can reap the rewards of anyone who reads from them. Donate to the local food shelf.You can also prepare iftar and donate to the masjed or just provide them with dates and drinks. Invite Muslims to your home for iftar and let your intention be reaping the rewards rather than showing off your cooking skills.
7) Me and my bad habits: if there is a bad habit you would like to get rid of use the month of Ramadhan to do so–could be smoking, cursing, watching too much tv and the list can go on.
No one invites a guest without preparing to welcome him or her. Ramdahan is a guest. So, let’s all roll up our sleeves and start preparing for the most awaited guest of the whole year. Have a blessed Ramadhan!
Note that our souls are in the hands of its Creator, and should we not be destined to witness Ramadhan this year then know that by insha Allah sincerely intending to, and preparing for it we will insha Allah reap full rewards. O Allah help us to meet and spend Ramadhan in a deserving manner.
I vividly remember being overcome with awe at the concept of reading.
I was 5 years old during our first few months in England where my father had been posted. I went to an inner city multicultural school, Marlborough Primary School.I still remember its sturdy brown buildings I remember its huge playground where I would race my friends and swear that the blue sneakers my mother got me, were what made me a fast runner. Ah I feel the boredom of sitting in the the wide hall with its waxed floors holding a book of hymns, rebelliously quiet while those around me sung.
My first grade teacher was Miss Lewis. She had a soothing voice that calmed my nerves the first day of school, as I stared at my father in disbelief. How could he abandon me to this strange blond-haired woman. I could not speak a word of English and she did not look like she spoke Arabic either. She sat me down, and I busied myself looking at the letters of the alphabet pasted around the classroom walls.
Months lapsed and I remember speaking English fluently but not reading yet. It frustrated me that I always forgot what my name “looked” like. I would spend far too much time trying to find my drawer labeled “Lemiya.”Occasionally Miss Lewis pitying my confused face would show me where it was. How could these scribblings on the white label also be me?
The time came to finally learn to read. I was introduced to the “book” which would from that point on become my best companion. I carried it everywhere with me, fingering the words on the pages wishing I could prod them into telling me what they were saying.
Finally one day with book in hand I dragged my feet to my mum. She understood. She took the book, opened it up to the first page and showed me how the sound of each letter connected with another to make up a word–the words sounded familiar. As she read the page, I memorized it. But my excitement quickly dampened when I thought how inefficient of a process reading was. Would I have to memorize what every single word looked like? With arms across my chest and pouted lips –which was my way of sulking–I dragged my feet to my mother again and asked her to read the second page. She looked me in the eye and said, “Lamya, if you can make out the words on the first page, you can read ANYTHING.” The light bulb on my head lit up at a 1000 volts–I got it! It was sheer glee !
I could read anything? Anything? Really? From then on my eyes devoured everything readable in sight. I read every carton, bottle, and wrapper around the house. Every sign I passed while riding in the back seat of my father’s blue Fiat. Every book on our classroom bookshelf. I couldn’t get enough.
Reading is truly one of the blessings that I can never get used to. One that feels new every day. One for which I feel I have to show my gratitude to Allah (swt) and yet find my gratitude inadequately lacking and insufficient . Insufficient for the miracle that unfolds right in front of my very own eyes, the one that makes words come alive making me smile, cry, uplifted, high spirited, and connected with my Creator. It is a blessing that compels me to raise my hands in humility to Allah and say “All Praise is due to you O’ Allah” who made me understand the word “iqra” (read) before I knew it was the first word revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Notes from the 2nd BB4 Muslimas Halaqa July 14th, 2010.
Love is reciprocal emotion. We can only truly love Allah (SWT) if we know how much he loves us. So, how much does Allah (SWT) REALLY love us?
Since childhood we have been told that we must love Allah (swt). But no one really took the time to tell us why. Maybe if you summoned up the courage to actually ask, you would have either been told, “Because he is Allah (swt)” or “Just do as you are told!” Of course, if we searched in the depths of our heart we would find our Creator (swt). But Allah (swt) out of His Mercy has made Himself (swt) known to us through His creations as well as our sacred texts, Qur’an and Sunnah.
Even before Allah (swt) created us, He (swt) prepared for us our two abodes: the temporary abode (earth), and the permanent abode (Paradise). If we look at our temporary residence, Allah (swt) has asked us to “enjoy our stay.” Look around you, at the beautiful places on earth with all its rivers, seas, waterfalls, oceans, mountains and valleys and everything in them. Look at the phases of the sun, the breathtaking view of it rising or setting in the horizon; or the phases of the moon in a single month from a crescent to a full moon. Listen to the birds chirping a thousand melodies. I mean, how many birds do we actually eat? Very few, right? The rest are for us to enjoy their colors and their melodies. And don’t forget the flowers—we hardly eat any flowers do we? Okay some of us do–but the majority of us enjoy their fragrances and their radiant colors and styles. How about the assortment of nuts we know of or not know of? We have pistachios, peanuts, cashews, almonds and the list can go on endlessly. How about the kinds of fruit and vegetables? Every human is bound to find something that they like. All of this and more if we were but to contemplate on them would bring us to one reality. Our Creator (swt) out of affection for us wants us to “enjoy our temporary stay” here on earth before we head home to our original and final abode “Paradise.”
Yet at the same time Allah (swt) has through the Prophets (as) guided us to what “enjoy” means in the forms of what is permissible and what is not permissible. Not to restrict us, but because our very creation calls for only that that is good and pure on earth. We were created from the two purest elements on earth “dust” and “water”—need proof that they are pure? Well, we know that they are the only two elements we can use to purify ourselves for prayer (salaat). If that has already “wow-ed” you, well here’s another: Allah (swt) created you with His (swt) very own Noble Hands and not with “be and it was” to show you how much He values you—He (swt) personally took it upon Himself (swt) to mold you into the shape you are in, yes into the best of proportions. I can probably knock you down with a feather right now. But there’s more. He (swt) created our father Adam (as) in Paradise, your original birth place—your final destination in the journey called “life” insha Allah. To top it all, Allah (swt) did the greatest thing of all for you. Allah (swt) says, “. . . when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me. . .” (Saad: 72). Guess what, you have a Heavenly breath inside you. Don’t worry yourself with how, what it looks like etc. but know that you do. That is enough of an honor. Hence the angels had to bow down to you. Do you see how dear you are to Allah (swt)? Isn’t this a noble legacy to internalize, or one that tells you that your grandfather was an ape or chimpanzee? How can we after knowing this contaminate our pure bodies and souls with impurities and vile actions? It only leads to our corruption and eventual destruction. Don’t believe me. Just look around you.
Let us take the opportunity this coming Ramadhan to know Allah (swt) like we have never known Him (swt) before. How about deeply studying one of the 99 names and attributes of Allah (swt) every day of Ramadhan? How about studying the Hadiths Al-Qudasiyah?
I ask Him (swt) that through our pure intentions and genuine efforts He (swt) make Himself (swt) known to us, so that love for Him (swt) fills our hearts and results in Him (swt) becoming the very and only center of our existence.