Expose yourself to the elements of the Night of Power so that you may receive its light August 29, 2010
“Has there come to you the story of Moses?” (20:9) August 28, 2010
Storytelling reminds us of magical moments around grandparents. Or maybe tender moments between a mother and child, with the child’s eyelids drooping as its mothers voice lulls it to sleep. Key phrases such as, “Once upon a time there was . . . “ or “Did I tell you the story of . . . .” unlocks hearts ANYWHERE no matter what your age, gender, or culture. There is no doubt that from an early age we are fond of those who tell us stories. Indeed for many of us, it is still the quickest way to unlock our hearts.
Similarly Allah (SWT) entertains his prophets (as) with the best of stories. In Surat Taha, He (SWT) narrates the story of Moses (as) to Muhmmad (saw), saying, “Has there come to you the story of Moses?”(20:9) We along with our beloved Prophet (saw) are wide-eyed and eager to hear the story of Prophet Moses (as) through the best of story tellers, straight from Allah (SWT). And these stories are nothing like what humans concoct. No. Allah’s (SWT) stories are true and perfect, for Allah (SWT) in Surat Yusuf says:
“We narrate to you the fairest of narratives, through what We revealed to you–this Qur’an. And yet before it you were heedless.” (12:4)
I can’t remember how many times I’ve gazed at my baby pictures, and asked my parents to tell me the story of my baby-hood. The details of a part of my life that my memory fails to recall. I enjoyed the gentleness that overcame my mother’s face, and the smile that tugged at the corners of my fathers lips . A picture perfect moment, when mine and my parents eyes would remain locked in time. Now imagine Moses (as) hearing of his baby-hood from Allah (SWT) the Lord of the Worlds, in which Allah (SWT) expresses his love for Moses (as) from the very beginning:
“We had favored you once before; Remember when We revealed to your mother what was revealed; Throw him into a basket and fling him into the river, And let the river deliver him to the bank, Where an enemy of Mine and his will pick him up. I have cast upon you a love from Me, and you shall be brought up under My caring eye. That was when your sister went about saying: ‘Shall I point out to one who will take charge of him?’ We then returned you to your mother so that she may be of good cheer and not sorrow.” (20:36-43)
I look forward to meeting Allah (SWT) so that He (SWT) may relate to me the story of my temporary residence in my mother’s womb, when it was He (SWT) who took it upon Himself to sustain my existence at the most critical time of my life. What a glorious moment that will be?
If the first 8 verses of Surat Taha , on Tawheed (Monotheism), settle in a believer’s heart they can make a 180 degree change in a believer’s life. They can transform him from a disbeliever to a believer. Bring him from darkness to light and from ignorance to knowledge. Indeed, the impact of these first verses were revolutionary in the life of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (raa). Truly the difference between night and day.
He left his home:
1) a disbeliever in the message of Prophet Muhammad (saw),
2) full of hatred for the Messenger of Allah (SWT),
3) and bent on killing him.
A companion who encountered Umar (raa) in his rage diverted his attention to Umar’s sister, who had embraced Islam. Furious, Umar rammed into his sister’s home, knocked down his brother in law, and struck his sister in the face. When he calmed down, he asked to see what they were reading before he came. His sister showed him, but not without a promise that he would not destroy it. Out of curiosity he obeyed her. He read the following ayahs:
We do not bring down the Qur’an upon you to make you suffer, rather it is a Remembrance to him who fears Allah. It is a revelation from Him Who created the earth and highest heavens./ The All Merciful is seated firmly upon the throne, /To Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and on earth and what is in between, and what lies beneath the ground. /And if you are loud in speech, He knows what is kept secret, or even more deeply concealed./ Allah! There is no god but He! To Him belong the names most glorious!” (20:1-8)
In the midst of the darkness that surrounded Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (raa) these verses pierced through like a ray of sunshine. He was drowning and Allah (SWT) had thrown him a rope to pull himself up to safety. A moment when Allah (SWT) opened up the doors of His mercy to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (raa) and Umar chose to enter willingly.
Indeed, Allah (SWT) chose Umar for the good within him—a goodness that ONLY Allah (SWT) could see. Remember, the Prophet’s supplication to Allah (SWT) to grant Islam power and dominance with the conversion of either of the Umarayn (2 Umar’s)—Umar Ibn Al-Khattab or Amr Ibn Hisham (Abu Jahl). Allah (SWT) chose the most beloved of the two men to Him (SWT). Allah (SWT) chooses whom He (SWT) wants for His (SWT) missions and sends them messages of guidance; rays of light in what otherwise may seem utter darkness. Let’s keep our eyes and ears open at all times for whatever Allah (SWT) sends our way.
Back to Umar. Now, with the light of these verses filling every crevice of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab’s heart, he carried his rekindled soul to the Prophet (saw). On seeing him the Prophet (saw), held him by the scruff of his neck and shook him saying, “Is it not time that you embraced Islam O son of Al-Khattab.” He fell to his knees. The first ayat of Surat Taha had shaken Umar to his very core, knocked sense into his stubborn self, and this final statement by the Prophet (saw) was the finishing touch to what would become a masterpiece of a character in Islamic history. He declared his Islam in front of the companions, who were beside themselves with joy. And with that Umar (raa) was transformed into an entirely different person, and with him Islam took on an entirely new phase—from underground to ON the ground. And Umar (raa) was nicknamed Al-Farooq—meaning the “Criterion, the distinguisher between what is right and wrong.” What a position to attain in the blink of an eye. When faith settles in ones heart, there is no limit to the heights that a believer can reach since the Bestower is Allah (SWT) Himself.
If anything, we should read these ayat, contemplate on their meanings and eventually faith will settle and dwell in our hearts. If so, the outcome should be a complete transformation and rebirth of our selves. We need verses that punch our hearts, and result in us taking baby steps to Allah (SWT) that will eventually mature with the aid of Allah (SWT). It will be a remarkable beginning; one that will take us to unimaginable heights. So, let us run to Allah (SWT) and not from Him (SWT).
Muhammad AlShareef’s Daily Taraweeh Truffles! August 14, 2010
Ramadhan Taraweeh Truffles:
Day One “You Decide”
Day Two “Not Kisses, Truffles!”
Day Three “Gimme that POPSICLE”
Day Four “Pray ON”
Day Five “What Allah Wants For You”
Day Six “EAT”
Day Seven “Booze”
Day Eight “Babes”
Day Nine “Taraweeh Truffles: Come Back”
Day Ten “One Nation, One Family”
Day Eleven “An-Nabi, Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam”
Day Twelve “Dua for a Baby”
Day Thirteen “Kiss and Make Up!”
Day Fourteen “Made with Cows and Bees”
Day Fifteen “E.T. Phone Home”
Day Sixteen “Stuffed Nose”
Day Seventeen “Spider Sense”
Day Eighteen “Hot Gossip and Juicy Rumors”
Day Nineteen “The Final Days” (The Last Taraweeh Truffle of the Month of Ramadhan)
FINAL TRUFFLE “Eid Spirit”
Muhammad AlShareef addresses rumors about the Tarweeh Truffles.
Also check out Muhammad AlShareef’s Heart Wheel Journal at http://www.heartwheeljournal.com/ As well as his lecture “The Fasting and the Furious“
Imam Shafi’i (ra) said, “Whoever does not get angry, he is a donkey.” Shocking I know! It was to me at first sight. But then he continues, “And whoever is not pacified (or quelled) when angry is a Shaytan!”
A powerful statement! He is referring to two extremes as far as a person’s “anger” is concerned. One in which you can either be in the “donkey” category or that of “Shaytan.”No offense to any one and that includes donkeys.
Honestly, I don’t know the nature of donkeys and I am not ready to go and search what science says about them. But from having seen and observed them from my parents’ home in Yemen—years ago—they always struck me as very patient animals. When burdened they passively endured, and when loaded above Allah’s “loading -limit” refused to budge.
Like the “donkey” some are provoked to every known human positive or negative limit and they are irresponsive–cold as cucumbers as the saying goes, or a two-tiered deep freezer! Excuse me, but that isn’t normal. Then there are others if provoked turn from kittens to roaring lions strutting around in their lair—no matter how much those around them try to quell their anger they are viciously bitten. Now that is, as Imam Shafi’i says a “Shaytan.”
Indeed the Prophet of Allah (saw) talks about the best and worst type of angers. He says, “Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.” He continued, “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendant of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and the redness of his eyes? So when anyone experiences anything of that nature he should lie down and cleave to the earth.” (Abu Sa’id al-Khudri ,Hadith – Al-Tirmidhi ,5145) The Prophet (saw) is not talking about a certain group of people, but about people in general. So, the issue is not anger as an emotion in and of itself, but rather how it is manifested. This brings me to a very important point. Anger is a blessing from Allah (swt). There you go, I uttered the unutterable! A blessing, you out of your mind! Indeed it is, like any emotion “anger” is a blessing from Allah (swt), one through which you come out as “best” as the hadith above so poignantly points out and, believe it or not, is also a way to Jannah.
When seen in this light, having anger is not the problem and we shouldn’t be doing away with it altogether. That’s impossible! We are all born with it as we are with fear, love, anxiety, etc. Originally it’s a blessing, but can turn into a curse when absent, taken to the extreme, aroused for the wrong reasons, or directed at the wrong target. Indeed, as is custom in our beautiful religion, anger can either win you rewards and Jannah, or it can pile up your sins high and lead you the only other way, hellfire.
There is that kind of anger that is one letter short of danger, as the saying goes. A human trait that is low, dirt-low, without exception. So, there’s no excuse for having any one of them in any degree, shape or form. They are a waste of your energy because simply put they are not worth getting angry over. Such as anger over the material world “dunya,” and for the self i.e. the “nafs.” These are two vast targets that your anger should not aim at. Furthermore, anger is a runner-up for violence; remember that a dog growls before it attacks. And violence is but the most severe and apparent form of anger, so beware of its undertones as well. Many don’t associate these hidden forms as “anger”: attempting to dominate by over asserting yourself; seeking faults of others; correcting others to the smallest detail of things; losing patience with others; being so brutally honest with others to the point that it hurts; holding an air of condescendence when dealing with others; constantly seeking out to debate with others; and being sarcastic. So, the kind of anger that transgresses moral boundaries, decency and propriety and cause one to be unjust is evil no doubt.
Guide your anger to a deserving target. I remember once a story I heard about a man on death row. His final request was to see his mother. When they brought her to him, he said, “I just wanted you to know that I am here because of you.” It distressed her to hear it. She had done all the right things a mother does towards her child—above all loved him unconditionally. He continued, “Remember when I was little boy and brought you a stolen egg and asked you to cook it for me?” Her face paled. “If only it had angered you to know that I had transgressed Allah’s limits, maybe you would have nipped it all in the bud. Maybe I would not have escalated from a thief to a murderer.” Her unconditional love for her son caused her to turn a blind eye to what displeased Allah (swt); by not being angry at the right moment and for the right reason she had failed her son. Actually, shared in causing his demise.
Let us look at our Prophet (saw) and how he guided his anger—his anger was never personal. It was always for the sake of Allah (swt). Narrated by Abu Mas’ud, “A man came and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! By Allah, I keep away from the fajr prayer only because so and so prolongs the prayer when he leads us in it.’ The narrator said, ‘I never saw Allah’s Apostle more furious in giving advice than he was at that time. He then said, ‘Some of you make people dislike good deeds (the prayer). So whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them are the weak, the old and the needy.’” (Bukhari, 670) In another instance, Abdullah ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet (saw) saw a gold ring on a man’s hand. He took it off and threw it aside, saying, “Would any of you take a burning coal and hold it in his hand?”When the Messenger of Allah (saw) had gone away, someone said to the man, “Take your ring and make use of it (i.e., sell it.)” He said, “No, by Allah, I will not take it after the Messenger of Allah (saw) has thrown it away.” (Muslim) This is an anger that gave us a ruling that Muslims abide by and will be abide by to the end of time. And don’t forget the incident that Aisha (raa) narrated about Quraish being anxious about the Makhzumi woman who had committed theft, and said, “Who will speak to Allah’s Messenger (saw) about her?” They said, “Who dare it, but Usama, the loved one of Allah’s Messenger (saw)?” So Usama spoke to him. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Do you intercede regarding one of the punishments prescribed by Allah?” He then stood up and addressed (people) saying,” O people, those before you were destroyed, because if any one of high rank committed theft amongst them, they spared him; and if anyone of low rank committed theft, they inflicted the prescribed punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima, daughter of Muhammad, were to steal, I would have her hand cut off.”(Sahih Muslim, 4187) Similar instances in the life of the Prophet (saw) are many, look them up.
Keeping your anger on a leash is key. Allah (swt) says, “Those who spend in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allâh loves Al-Muhsinûn (the good doers).” (3:134) The word in the Qu’an for “repress”[“kadhemeen”] is derived from a word that refers to a “string that ties the opening of a water bottle”—so basically Allah (swt) is asking us to keep our anger “bottled up,” never let it spill out of our heart, never act on it, and eradicate it completely by forgiving. And the Prophet (saw) reinforces this, “The real strong man is the one who gets intensely angry, so that his face reddens and his hair stands on end, but he suppresses his anger.” (Ahmad, 5/367)
Indeed, anger can win you Jannah as the Prophet (saw) says, “Whoever suppresses his anger when he is able to vent it, Allah will call him before all the people on the Day of Resurrection and let him choose whoever of the hoor al-‘iyn he wishes.” (Abu Dawood, 4777) Imagine if you weren’t blessed with “anger”! Apart from the fact that you would be abnormal, your parents would worry, probably take you to a psychiatrist who would diagnose you with a complicated disorder [I wonder if ‘donkey’ would be one of them—just kidding, I am just keeping Al Shafi’I in mind!], and prescribe you some meds. Not being blessed with the emotion of “anger” or completely doing away with it, would cause you to miss out on a door that would lead you to Jannah. So, indeed praised anger and the management of “wild anger” according to Qur’an and Sunnah can lead you to your ultimate destination in life–Jannah. It would be a pity if we were to find this door to Jannah and say, “Too bad, I was told that anger was all bad so I never used it for any reason.” Passivity is not part of our deen, and neither is wildness—but a responsible responsiveness to our surroundings.
Anas bin Malik narrated: “I was walking with the Messenger of Allah, and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a rough collar. A bedouin came and seized him roughly by the edge of his cloak, and I saw the marks left on his neck by the collar. Then the bedouin ordered him to give him some of the wealth of Allah that he had. The Prophet turned to him and smiled, then ordered that he should be given something.” (Fath al-Bari, 10/375)
The Messenger of Allah said: “If a man gets angry and says: “I seek refuge with Allah,” his anger will go away.” (Sahih al-Jami, 695)
3) Whatever happens keep your mouth shut—you can never anticipate what may spew out of it when you are angry. You might even shock yourself :
The Messenger of Allah said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Sahih al-Jami, 693)
4) Change your position:
“Abu Dharr was taking his camels to drink at a trough that he owned, when some other people came along and said to one another, ‘Who can compete with Abu Dharr in bringing animals to drink and make his hair stand on end?’ A man said, ‘I can.’ So, he brought his animals and competed with Abu Dharr and ended up breaking the trough. Abu Dharr was standing when he saw this, so, he sat down, then he laid down. Someone asked him, ‘O Abu Dharr, why did you sit down then lie down?’ He said, ‘The Messenger of Allah said, ‘If any of you becomes angry and he is standing, let him sit down, so that his anger will go away. If it does not go away, let him lie down.’”(Musnad Ahmad, 5/152 and Sahih al Jami, 694)
5) Remember the Prophet’s (saw) advice:
Abu Hurayrah narrated: “A man said to the Prophet, ‘Advise me.’ He said, ‘Do not become angry.’ The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet said to him, ‘Do not become angry.’”(Fath al-Bari, 10/456)
6) Keep your ultimate goal in mind:
The Messenger of Allah said: “Do not become angry [means control your anger, and aim it at what it deserves, and be wise in how you express it, and overall be sincere in it being for the sake of Allah], and Paradise is yours.” (Sahih al-Jami, 7374)
7) Fear the wrath and punishment of Allah (swt):
Ibn Abbas (raa) narrated that the Prophet (saw) sent Mu’ad to Yemen and said, “Beware of the cry of the oppressed as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.” (Bukhari)
8 ) Remember that uncontrolled and unfounded anger humiliates:
‘Alqamah bin Wa’il narrated, “My father said to me, ‘I was sitting with the Prophet, when a man came to him leading another man by a rope. He said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, this man killed my brother.’ The Messenger of Allah asked him, ‘Did you kill him?’ He said, ‘Yes, I killed him.’ He asked, ‘How did you kill him?’ He said, ‘He and I were hitting a tree to make the leaves fall for animal feed, and then he insulted me, so I struck him on the side of the head with an axe and killed him.’”(Muslim, 1307)
In the Battle of Trench a man from the enemy’s side–by the name of ‘Amr bin Abdawud who was known for his strength, courage and swordsmanship– challenged the Muslims to a duel. There was a fierce fight between him and Ali bin Abi Talib, until Ali (raa) threw him down to the ground and mounted his chest, ready to kill him. At this very moment ‘Amr spat in the face of Ali (raa), and to the surprise of the spectators Ali (raa) dismounted ‘Amr’s chest and walked away. Shortly afterwards, ‘Amr attacked Ali (raa) again but was overpowered and killed. After the battle Ali (raa) was asked why he had spared ‘Amr the first time, to which he (raa) replied, “I had no personal animosity towards him. I was fighting him because of his disbelief, on behalf of Allah. If I had killed him after he spat on my face then it would have become my personal revenge which I do not wish to take” This is one of many examples of the righteous in our rich Islamic history—go and look up some more. Live with them through their words and lives, and imitate them for they were the best of examples after the Prophet of Allah (saw).
Know your anger, keep it on a leash, and guide it to a deserving target—it matters, it really matters. It could guide you to either Jannah or Jahanam!
Ramadhan Workshop Write-Up! August 8, 2010
Alhamdullilah Rabi Al’alameen—during our Ramadhan workshop we had more than 51 participant. May Allah insha Allah make this a productive Ramadhan, one that brings us closer to Allah (swt) and awareness of Him in all our actions, and results in us attaining Jannah and emancipated from the hellfire Ameen.
What is Ramadhan usually associated with in your mind?
Variety of food, Iftar, Suhoor
Spirituality. The ONLY month when you take a break from sins.
Gatherings with friends—O those long nights with friends after sunset to sahoor time. What fun!
A time to re-acquaint with the Qur’an and prayer
Where do you stand—this is an opportunity to put things in perspective for you regarding your perceptions or misconceptions about Ramadhan—so you can take a stand for or against? Remember Ramadhan is an opportunity for change—so don’t despair. If you put your hand on the problem then you are half way there to solving it.
I want to be aware of Allah in all my actions—i.e. increase “Taqwa”
I want to build my character through lessons about the disposition of the Propher (saw) and his companions, as well as through the stories of the Prophets (as) in the Qur’an.
I would like to either attain excellence (ihsan) or even better perfection.
I would like to increase my spirituality & purify soul
I don’t know if I will make it next Ramadhan, my soul is in the hands of Allah (swt) so I want to prepare for death
Circle all that apply—but be realistic because if you are aren’t you will give up the very first day.
Give your five daily prayers a grade of 1-10—1 being the worst in terms of doing them on time, following through with its pillars, obligations and Sunnahs and attaining focus and khushu’u—10 being the best. If you have given yourself a low grade, don’t worry insha Allah work on it this Ramadhan. Here are some things to consider:
Work on improving concentration during prayer
Understanding the meanings of what you are saying during prayer, will make a world of a difference.
Be punctual—aim for praying within the first half hour after Adhan (the call for prayer)
Stand in night prayers (Tahajjud)—do your best. Either every other day, or 3 times a week, or the last ten days of Ramadhan. Promise yourself to continue this habit after Ramadhan. Again determine a realistic goal for yourself so that you can follow through—if you head to work the following day absolutely exhausted, it is less likely that you will continue during Ramadhan and after Ramadhan.
Go for congregational Taraweeh prayer—also try and pray in congregation at home as well with your husband, children, sisters, brothers etc. Do this for Taraweeh and Tahajjud (not for the Sunnahs before and after the daily prayers, those by default are not prayed in congregation). If you make it to any of the five daily prayers in the masjed but miss the Jama’a then find a sister to pray with to get the reward for it.
Be in the mood for more sujood, so incorporate non obligatory prayers in your daily routine—like witr, shurooq etc.
For families with kids who are in weekend Qur’an classes the whole year, it is time for parents to know how well their kids are doing. Have your children lead you in Taraweeh at home, either while holding the Qur’an so you can swell with pride at their mastery in tajweed or reading from memory. Rotate so that each child gets to lead two raka’s. It will boost your child’s confidence, and they will look forward to following Ramadhans, and work harder on their Qur’an. This is putting what they have worked on the whole year to practice, rather than it always being in theory. I am sure you can think of more suggestions? Share them with us in the comment to this entry insha Allah.
Read the whole Qur’an at least once—again be realistic one is plenty.
Memorize a few Surahs or even verses—start a Qur’an memorization contest at home, or among your friends and give out prizes at the end of Ramadhan.
Learn to recite the Qur’an with Tajweed—don’t know Tajweed then this is the time to start.
Understand the meanings of the Qur’an & ponder over its verses—it’s time to reflect. Allah (swt) is sending you messages, is talking to you. It’s time you understood what He (swt) is saying to you.
Study Tafseer (exegesis)—get a copy of the Tafseer of Ibn Katheer for instance and have a goal of studying the Tafseer of an x number of chapters or verses.
If you do not know how to read Qur’an yet, it is time to start. Don’t keep on postponing. Put all your fears and excuses under your feet, and stamp on them hard! Say, “Yes I can!” There are so many sources online that will help you achieve this goal, so get cracking.
Ramadhan is the month of the Qur’an, Allah (swt) says, “The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong.” (2:185) Furthermore, bn ‘Abbas narrates “The Messenger of Allah (saw) was the most generous person, and he would be at his most generous in Ramadan because Jibril would come to him every night and he would rehearse the Qur’an with him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 6/486) All the above suggestions call under the umbrella of “rehearse” the Qur’an. If you know won’t follow through alone, find a Qur’an companion or group. Do not be among those who are mentioned in Surah Al Furqan Ayah 30? Look it up, that’s a start!
List your daily duas for Ramadhan
Focus on times duas are accepted, such as during sujood, just before Iftar.
Learn duas from Quran & Hadith
Have an emotional connection with your duas. Imagine that you are a child who has greatly disappointed his parents, and is knocking at their door asking for forgiveness. Wishing and hoping that the door will come unlocked and they will rush to take you in their arms. We want dua with fervor. Intenseness of emotions. Squeeze those tears out—but not crocodile tears, real ones!
Don’t say, my duas will come to me during Ramadhan. They won’t! Write them down, and whenever you have a minute take them out and start asking for them.
Are there some bad habits that you would like to get rid of such as smoking? Well, Ramadhan is the time.
Be in control of your eating and sleeping habits—don’t overeat. It mind boggles me how so many Muslims ask around for detox programs, when they have been gifted one by Allah (swt) annually. This is the best detox program ever, so make use of it by making sensible choices of food and drink and activities.
Prefer fruits, vegetables and whole grains over unhealthy fried food. See the nutrition guide in my “Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves and Warm Up for Ramadhan.”
Don’t cancel your gym membership for the month, or put your exercise equipment in storage. Light exercise is necessary during Ramadhan. Weigh yourself before and after Ramadhan to gauge how you did this month?
We are a nation whose first commandment was “read”—you should be doing this the whole year, but hey we are making Ramadhan resolutions here so don’t sweat if you haven’t picked up the habit yet.
Read Islamic books—make a list of books that you would like to read this Ramadhan that will increase your Islamic knowledge. Again be realistic. Put aside an hour a day—preferably the same time everyday—and isolate yourself i.e. “be in Khulwah” to read and contemplate about what you have read. Keep a notepad handy to write your reflections.
Attend Islamic lectures, in person and online. Yep, we are having regular halaqas this Ramadhan, and check my blog for any halaqa announcements insha Allah.
Start a study circle or Qur’an translation program—this is a great idea for sisters with young children who feel left out from joining the Ummah in the masjed.
Listen to Islamic CDs or Audio cassettes—there are so many wonderful series by da’ees, shuyookh and scholars. I would suggest that you choose two series for this Ramadhan, and promise yourself to listen to 1-2 Cd’s or cassettes a day. Check out this site for suggestions—click on “lectures.”
Arrange for Iftar—for the rewards for this check out my article “Let’s Kindle the Energy for Ramadhan.” I will have a number of opportunities posted insha Allah in our community.
Reach out to your relatives—call them and wish them Ramadhan Mubarak, or send them an email, or a card. If there are relative ties that have been severed—connect them right away!
Be a good neighbor—to Muslim and Non-Muslim. Reach out to your non-muslim neighbors this Ramadhan, send them Iftar and a note about Ramadhan. Do the same at work, it is a great opportunity for dawah. Be alert to the needs of your Muslim neighbors, they could be in hardships and you have no clue. They don’t have to tell you, but rather you be sensitive.
Lighten the burden of others—if you are a group of sisters with kids decide on a rotating “babysitting during Taraweeh prayer schedule” so you call benefit praying with the jama’a. Welcome mothers with kids to the masjed, and ease her distress if she is struggling to get her kids to be quiet during prayer. Don’t make her feel like she is negligent and inconsiderate. Your kindness can open the door for you to give her advice on making better choices. Insha Allah.
Give to poor—in whatever shape or form.
Respect all elders—Muslm and Non-Muslim
Maintain good manners and behavior at home and work—fasting is not an excuse for you to be lazy and bad mannered. Remember Allah (swt) is doing you favors, and not torturing you. So, don’t play the “Ramadhan Victim” that calls for everybody’s sympathy or wrath.
Don’t lie—look up hadiths regarding lying. It is not the characteristic of a believer, any time of the year.
Speaking ill of others, gossiping—even about brothers and sisters in the masjed. Keep a box of toothpicks by your phone, to remind you that speaking ill of other or gossiping about them is like eating their flesh alive.
Don’t lose your temper—we will be having a halaqa with the BB4 Muslimas this Tuesday the 10th of August, 2010 about this Insha Allah. Will have an entry about it after the halaqa.
Don’t waste your time watching TV, serials, films, etc. Every minute in Ramadhan is precious.
Don’t talk just because your jaws and tongue need a good workout—beware of vain talk .
Intend to search for it either in the odd nights of last 10 days, or the whole of the ten days. I would do the latter if I were you—especially now that we as Muslims don’t agree on the first day and last day of Ramadhan.
Seek forgiveness for past sins—make a list of sins that are bothering you and do Istighfar for them. May Allah (swt) lighten your burdens.
In your list for duas for the Night of Power, make sure you ask for guidance for future.
You and the Qur’an should be close buddies by now, so consolidate your relationship and recite Qur’an even more during these last ten days and nights.
As Muhammad Alshareef said, “Give your excuses a black eye” and no matter what happens stand in prayers at night. Charge yourself with reading up on the Night of Power. Insha Allah will have a separate entry when the time comes.
Let’s have the sincere intention of making this Ramadhan an outstanding one insha Allah!
Resources to help:
Let’s Kindle the Energy for Ramadhan! August 7, 2010
Are you fully prepared for Ramadhan? Or is it taking you by surprise? Or are you on the fence about it? Well, let’s kindle the energy you will need to enter the blessed month, only 4 days away now. Insha Allah.
Although, Ramadhan is a month that encompasses all forms of worship, one worship is in the limelight—fasting. Okay, why fasting? Well, the answer is in the Qur’an. Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness.” (2:183) Still not clear? Well, let me explain. It basically means that if you “fast” you become “pious and righteous” –or in Arabic among the “Mutaqeen.” So, if we fast—the way that Allah (swt) wants us to fast—we will be “like” those who are righteous and pious in the eyes of Allah (swt) and in turn, our actions will attest to this fact. We will be like like the pious giants of our Islamic history whom we read about and admire—Abu Bakr Assidiq, Umar ibn Al Khattab, Al Hasan Al Basri etc. Yes, insha Allah. Some of you might say, “But I have been fasting for years now, and I am nowhere close to being like the righteous and pious giants in our Islamic history?” Well, Allah (swt) is right and you’re wrong. If you had “fasted” you would’ve achieved it by Allah’s will. Agree?
So this means that you, “before” and “after” Ramadhan should be radically different. Now, don’t go and take a before and after shot of yourself—I am not talking about weight! If you can take a picture of your “heart” do so—see if you can capture whether it is empty of awareness of Allah (swt) or full with it? Only you and Allah (swt) can gauge what is in your heart, for the Prophet Muhammad (saw) says, “Allah does not look at your outward appearance and your wealth, rather He looks at your hearts and deeds.” (Muslim, 1356) So, Ramadhan is like a four-week faith boosting boot camp, after which you emerge with a new faith laden heart—one that guides your whole being. One that causes you to be bound to Allah (swt), seeking His pleasure and fearing His wrath; causes you to have a tongue that speaks only about and for the sake of Allah (swt), and if and when it is silent, your heart is in the company of Allah (swt).
Are you telling me that after Ramadhan, I have to achieve this “taqwa” 100%? That’s impossible. Allah (swt) says, “Therefore do not acclaim your own virtue, / For He knows best who is truly pious.” (53:32) Attaining Taqwa should be a life-long mission for every believer—in other words a goal for life. One that provides room for improvement and the final results are only handed out by Allah (swt) Himself. What an honor? So, Insha Allah we all get an “A+” and not a big fat “F.”
Ramadhan is a time to charge our “faith batteries” to their limit and blast off to Allah (swt) the rest of the year. And for this reason Allah (swt) equipped the month of Ramadhan with all that you need to achieve this goal. Let’s look at some hadiths of the Prophet of Allah (saw) regarding Ramadhan. On the last day of Sha’ban, the Prophet (saw) addressed his companions saying,
“O people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a in which is a night better than a thousand months [one night equals over 84 years worth of rewards]; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing any of the (optional) good deeds (in this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time [so for an optional prayer you receive the same reward as an obligatory prayer etc.] and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time[Let’s calculate together the huge rewards. 1 prayer is worth 10 rewards, multiplied by 70 equals 700. If in congregation multiply by 27 that is 18,900 rewards. And if that is for 5 daily prayers, you get 945,000 rewards which is equivalent to nearly 100 thousand prayers, or as if you went to Makkah and prayed in the Holy Mosque! Apply the same equation to reading a letter from the Qur’an—each letter is worth ten deeds. You do the math!] It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah and Al Bayhaqi)
On hearing this, some of the poor companions sadly exclaimed, “Not all of us have the ability to feed a fasting person.” At which the Prophet (saw) said, that it could be as simple as a date or a sip of milk or water. I bet that drew a huge smile on their faces, as it should ours. So, do as I do. Tell your fasting Iftar guests to accumulate as many good deeds as they can on that day and not worry about what they will have for Iftar—I can take care of that! And by the way your good deeds do not go unnoticed, as they are in our human world, rather Allah (swt) boasts about them to the angels,
“Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers [I wonder sometimes if someone will pick up the study of crime rates all over the world during Ramadhan in an x number of years to see whether there is a declining trend compared to other months of the year. The Prophet (saw) does say that during this month Allah “decreases sins.”] In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” (Narrated by Tabarani)
An added convenience during the whole month of Ramadhan is that Shaytan is chained—so the biggest distraction of all is out of the way. The Prophet (saw) said,
“On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils and the giant jinn are chained. The gates of hell are closed and not one is left open, and the gates of paradise are opened without one left closed. A caller calls, ‘O you who want good, come forward, and you who want evil, retreat.’ Allah will save people from hell, and that will happen at every night.” (Tirmidhi, 549)
Some of you might say that this is not possible, “I am worse in Ramadhan than I am the rest of the year. Shaytan must be around.” Well, nope sorry. He is proud of you though, if that is any consolation. Ramadhan is the opportunity for you to determine if it is Shatytan causing you to do evil, or there is something already inherently evil about you. Difficult question I know—but face yourself. You must. Ramadhan is an opportunity for you to do so. The hadiths about Ramadhan are many—here are some more.
One of my favorite hadiths about Ramadhan is the following:
“There is a gate in paradise called ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasting will enter through it on the Day of Judgment, and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasting?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry, the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.” (Bukhari, 1896)
This is a remarkable hadith. Mark, the door of “ar-Raiyan” is not “of paradise” but “in paradise.” Wait a minute! Haven’t the people in Paradise fasted in this life? Yes, they have. But this is a higher rank in Paradise, for those who fasted for real. A fast different from everybody else’s—a fast that lasted beyond sunset and even beyond Ramadhan itself. These believers lowered their gaze because their eyes were fasting from gazing at what displeased Allah; their tongues were fasting from gossiping and cursing; they maintained ties of the womb; treated their parents with kindness; put the needs of others before their own, and gave alms; deprived themselves of sleep to stand in prayer the last third of the night; deprived themselves of a full stomach to share their food with others; deprived themselves of watching TV to go and stand in congregational prayer or for taraweeh etc. May we be called from this door Insha Allah.
So, fasting and its rewards are of different kinds and levels. Yes, and all Praise is due to Allah (swt). One kind of fasting is that of the stomach in which person has merely fulfilled the obligation of fasting, but missed out on the huge amount of good deeds as well as the opportunity to be emancipated from the hellfire. The Prophet (SAWS) describes this type of person using painful words, “Some of those who perform Qiyam get nothing out of it but staying up all night and some of those who fast get nothing out of it but hunger and thirst.” (Bukhari, 1083) We definitely do not want to be among these. The second kind is that of the stomach, and the rest of the organs of the body—eyes, tongue, hands etc—all day, even after sunset. These beleivers can’t look at anything prohibited because their eyes are fasting; they can’t listen to someone gossiping because their ears are fasting; they can’t gossip, curse, or speak ill to and of others because their tongues are fasting; their feet are fasting so they can’t go to places that will displease Allah. You get the point, right? Let’s try this one this year. But for those of you who even want to do better, there is a higher kind. Really? Yeah. I find no better words than those of Al-Junaid who was asked, “Who is the best fasting person in Ramadan?” He answered, “A servant who is absent-minded, bound to Allah. If he talks, it is about Allah. If he utters a word, it is for the sake of Allah, and if he keeps silent, he is with Allah.” During this kind of fasting, your heart becomes a permanent endowment—waqf—to Allah. You worry you may oversleep and miss out on calling on Allah in the last third of the night when He is in the closest heaven, and you worry that you may overeat and not attain khushu’u in prayer. Now that is real ambition in my opinion, so let’s all be ambitious in achieving this kind of fasting this year. Insha Allah.
The month of Ramadhan is something to look forward to. Indeed the Prophet (saw) who customarily advised us to be strangers in this world and not hold on to it fast, became an entirely different person if the month of Rajab came along. He would ask for a longer life to witness Ramadhan, and would say, “O Allah! Bless us in Rajab and Sha’ban, and bring us O Allah to Ramadhan.” (Narrated by Tabarani and Ahmed) So let’s do the same, each Ramadhan is a chance to revive and survive insha Allah.