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When the Night Equals A Thousand June 11, 2007

Posted by Shaz in Laylatul Qadr.
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Muhammad al Shareef

It was narrated that in the days that Musa (Alahi salaam) wandered with Bani Israel in the desert an intense drought befell them. Together, they raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain to come. Then, to the astonishment of Musa (Alahi salaam) and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified.
It was revealed to Musa that there was a sinner amongst the tribe of Bani Israel whom had disobeyed Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) for more than forty years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) told Musa (Alahi salaam). “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”
Musa (Alahi salaam) then called out to the throngs of humanity, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for forty years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.” That man, waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. Sweat poured forth from his brow and he knew that he was the one.
The man knew that if he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst and that if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.
He raised his hands with a sincerity he had never known before, with a humility he had never tasted, and as tears poured down on both cheeks he said: “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”
As Musa (Alahi salaam) and the people of Bani Israel awaited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured. Musa (Alahi salaam) asked Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though the sinner did not come forward.” And Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of Bani Israel with water.”
Musa (Alahi salaam), wanting to know who this blessed man was, asked, “Show him to me O Allah!” Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for forty years, do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him?”
Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed the Qur’an in the most blessed month; the month of Ramadan, the month in which the Qur’an was sent down.
On the most blessed night, the Grand night: Laylatul Qadr; “Verily, we revealed the Qur’an on the night of Qadr.”
Ibn Jareer narrates, on the authority of Mujaahid that there was a man from Bani Israel who used to spend the night in prayer. Then in the morning he would fight the enemy in the Way of Allah during the day, until the evening and he did this for a thousand months.
And so Allah revealed the Surah: “Verily, We sent it down in the night of Al-Qadr” until the verse “The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” That is, standing in prayer on that night is better than the actions of that man.
Sufyaan ath-Thawree reports, on the authority of Mujaahid (also), that the night of Al-Qadr being better than a thousand months means that the good deeds performed on it, fasting on it, and standing in prayer on it are better than a thousand months’ good deeds, prayers and fasting. (Narrated by Ibn Jareer)
It is reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: “When the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable.'” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa’i).
It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever stood in prayer on the night of Al-Qadr, in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
This one night surpasses the value of 30,000 nights. The sincere believer who worries day and night about his sins and phases of neglect in his life patiently awaits the onset of Ramadan. During it he hopes to be forgiven by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) for past sins, knowing that the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) promised that all who bear down during the last ten days shall have all their sins forgiven. To achieve this, the believer remembers the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) advice in different sayings wherein he used words like “seek”, “pursue”, “search” and “look hard” for Laylatul Qadr.
Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. The Mu’min should search for it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, passing the nights in worship and obedience.
For those who catch the opportunity, their gift is that of past sins wiped away.
The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) illustrated for us some of the things we should be doing on this Grand Night. From his blessed Sunnah we find the following:

Praying Qiyaam (night prayer):
It is recommended to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many ahadeeth, such as “Whoever stands (in qiyaam) in Laylatul Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim; the addition “and it is facilitated for him” is recorded by Ahmad from the report of ‘Ubaadah Bin as-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night.]

Making Supplications:
It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. ‘A’ishah reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say:
“Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee – O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.” [An authentic Hadith recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi.]

Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:
It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr is likely to fall. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala).
‘A’ishah reported: “When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would tighten his izaar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer) and wake up his family.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
And she said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to exert more (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights.” [Muslim]

Have we estimated Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) correctly?
The opportunity of Laylatul Qadr is coming in the next few days. Life is about people that take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), and this is indeed one of those chances.
Abu Dah Daah was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim and off to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) went the orphan boy to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) offered the companion, “would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) missed the opportunity and went away angry.
But someone else saw the opportunity, Abu Dah Daah – radi Allahu ‘anhu. He went to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and asked, “Ya Rasul Allah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “Yes.”
Abu Dah Daah chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?” The companion answered, “Take it for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”
Immediately, Abu Dah Daah went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Dah Daah, “we’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snached the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”
When Abu Dah Daah was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, Rasul Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Dah Daah now have in paradise?”
What did Abu Dah Daah lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.
Abu Dah Daah did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) on Laylatul Qadr.
Dear brothers and sisters, we do not obey, worship and revere Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in a way befitting of His Majesty.
Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed: “No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him. On the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him” (Surat al-An’aam, Ayat 91).
Everything that we have belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). When someone dies we say, Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon, Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we shall return. This is not a supplication just for when a soul is lost. It is a supplication for every calamity that befalls a believer, even if his sandal were to tear. Why? Because everything belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and everything shall come back to him. Sit and try to count the blessings Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has bestowed upon you. Have you ever tried to count stars?
“And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude” (Surat Ibrahim, Ayat 34).
We have not understood the weight of this Qur’an that we rest on our high shelves, this Noble book that was sent to give life to the dead. For even if our hearts were as solid as rock they would have crumbled to the ground in fear and hope of Allah’s (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) punishment and Mercy. Could it be that our hearts are harder than that mountain?
“Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and split asunder in fear of Allah (Surat al-Hashr, Ayat 21).
Dear brothers and sisters, as you fill the Masajid for Qiyamul Layl in the last ten nights of Ramadan, remember what Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) wants you to know:
“Know ye that Allah is strict in punishment and that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”
There shall be a night, some night in your life that you shall awaken in Jannah or Hell fire. Anas ibn Malik, on his deathbed, prayed to Allah, (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), “O Allah, protect from a night whose morning brings a journey to hell fire.” Think about that morning.
Peace shall descend on Laylatul Qadr until the dawn. It may be that you shall leave the Masjid after Fajr one day soon forgiven by Allah, Glorious and Most High.

Ramadan: What does it mean to you? What are your plans? May 14, 2007

Posted by Shaz in Uncategorized, Welcoming and Planning Ramadan.
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Ramadaan: What does it mean to you?

by Ayub Hamid

Success, in whatever we do depends on how clear we are on the objectives we want to achieve and how well we plan for it. What does Ramadaan mean to you? Does it mean more to you than, for example, going for a vacation or excursion?

Are you mentally and psychologically ready to attain all the goodness Ramadaan has to offer? Are  you then spending enough time and taking pains to plan how you can get the most benefit from the opportunity Ramadaan affords you?

Some people do plan for Ramadaan but that planning is only to the extent of who to invite for Iftaar and what special foods to prepare or how to get  the best deal on dates? But is this the type of outcome that is the objective of Ramadaan?

  The objectives of Ramadaan are:

  * to increase our Taqwaa
  * to make us more charitable, and
  * to strengthen our knowledge of the Holy Qur’aan.

So, what are the action plans you want to undertake during Ramadaan so that when it departs, you have seen significant growth in your Taqwaa,  you are more giving and more tuned to the Qur’aan?

Ramadaan is a wonderful opportunity to help us fine tune our normal patterns of behaviour thereby changing us for the better. We can ask ourselves the question: What areas of our personality, attitude, behaviour, daily routines and lifestyle, etc. do we need to change to bring us closer to the Islamic standard?

What aspect of your life have you decided to  improve on during this Ramadaan and what are your  plans for achieving this change? 

We all need many changes and many improvements. None of us is perfect and our list of proposed  improvements can be exceedingly long if we were being honest with ourselves. Naturally, one cannot pick a big list and work on all those areas in one month. The best approach is to pick one or two aspects of your personality where the change is needed most importantly and then,  devise a plan to make some defined improvements in those areas this Ramadaan.

Success in making the change would make you a  winner this Ramadaan and the month will be one of  great triumph and blessings for you.

If you have decided to make this a meaningful and triumphant Ramadaan by identifying areas requiring  improvement and if you have prepared a plan of  action, may Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala assist you and bless you for taking this step in your life.

My Plans for this Ramadaan

I would like to share with you a simple sample plan which I have been following over the years so that you can use for that purpose:This Ramadaan, I shall start with establishing a close relationship with the Qur’aan. I will gave the top priority to knowing and understanding the contents and message of the Qur’aan. I will recite and study the Qur’aan with translation and tafseer regularly and steadily throughout the month, inshaa’Allaahu, from a good, authentic translation and tafseer by a scholar such as Imam Maudoodi (The Meaning of the Qur’aan) or Syed Qutb (In the Shade of the Qur’aan). From the start and right to the end of Ramadaan, I will not sleep after Fajr, but instead study the Qur’aan until I am ready to go to school or work. Throughout the day, I will find time to revise and re-learn the Soorahs and Aayaat I already know. Once that is completed, I will learn at least one Aayah a day from a Soorah that I do not already know.

This Ramadaan, I will sleep early, soon after Salaatul ‘Ishaa. I will go to bed with clear and conscious intention of fasting the next day, as well as with the intention of getting up early for Tahajjud. Then, while remembering Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala, I will fall asleep.  I will get up well before Suhoor time, thanking Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala for giving me life, offer Tahajjud and then make special Du’a for the mercy of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala on our Ummah, His Ta’aala’s help for its success and well being, and His Ta’aala’s interference to foil the plans of Shaytaan. I will also make special Du’a that Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala protects my Ummah, my loved ones and me from the Dajjaal and his Fitnah.

For the month of Ramadaan, I will not watch TV at all. My knowing of what is shown in the news does not affect any affairs of the world. Watching the news causes only frustration, despair and anxiety. If I do not watch for a month, it will not have any impact either on me, my Ummah or the world at large. I would rather spend the month on my personal improvement, personal spirituality and building a close, personal relationship with Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala , rather than on an activity where I cannot make any difference.  (Unless I am one of those few Muslims who write letters, articles or op-ed pieces to TV producers / anchors, paper editors / columnists, politicians and media in general to make Islamic points or to stand up for the Ummah. If I am one of those, I should continue this Jihaad in Ramadaan).

While fasting, I will make a special effort to speak only to add value and to say only what is true, factual, positive, meaningful and useful. When I do not have anything good and useful to talk about, instead of saying anything else, I will remember Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala through the beautiful words taught by our Prophet Sal-Allaahu alayhi wa sallaam, while paying attention to their meanings and feeling the impact of the words on my heart, my mind, my thoughts and my attitude. Or, if I do not know them, I will learn those words of remembrance or prayer. Or, I will spend those moments to recite the portions of the Qur’aan that I know or learning those I do not.

I will not lend my ears to anything that is useless, indecent, negative, spiteful or inappropriate. In my car, I will listen to the Qur’aan or some good speech of a reputed scholar. At my computer I would repeat the same piece over and over again, I will use it to help me learn a few verses or a Soorah. Similarly, while riding the transit or subway, I will use my pocket-sized Qur’aan or book of Prophet Sal-Allaahu alayhi wa sallaam’s adi’yah (plural for du’a) to recite, practise or revise those I know or to learn those I do not know.

This Ramadaan, I will particularly watch my gaze. While glancing on a member of opposite sex, I will move my gaze away before I start evaluating or assessing the attractive features of looks, appearance or personality or before I start paying attention to or begin enjoying those attractions. I will not participate or listen to the comments of sexual nature that my colleagues, peers or friends make.

While remembering Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala  in many other ways, I will more frequently ask for Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala’s mercy in the first 10 days of Ramaadan (Yaa Hayyu Yaa Qayyoomu, bi-rahmatika astagheethu), invoke Allaah’s forgiveness in the second 10 days (astaghfirullaah-al-Azeem-alladzi laa ilaaha illaa Huwa-al Hayyu-l-Qayyoomu wa atoobu ilayh) and seek salvation from the Fire in the last 10 days (Rabbanaa aatinaa fi-ddunyaa hasanatanwa fil-aakhirati hasanatanwa qinaa adzaab-annaar). During the last ten nights, I will frequent the du’a: Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul ‘afwa, fa’fu ‘annee.

This Ramadaan, I will be exceptionally charitable. The tears that fill my eyes when I see the scenes of devastation, disease, starvation, agony, displacement, killings, blown up bodies and severed limbs of poor, helpless people of Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya and Kashmir will ameliorate my heart and open my purse. I will send all my Zakaah to them right at the beginning of Ramadaan through trustworthy Islamic charities. In addition to my Zakaah, I will pay whatever I can spare from my family’s necessities for helping those in dire need. If I have been paying my Zakaah to my relatives, this Ramadaan, I will help my relatives from my other savings and resources, so that I can pay Zakaah to the victims of state terrorism. I will avoid spending money on my home decoration or getting new clothes for Eid or buying more video games and toys for my children, so that those who are in more need than me and my family can be helped. I will even pay my Fitrah very early in Ramadaan so that it can reach those displaced from their homes before the severity of winter.

Also this Ramadaan, I will be generous and forgiving to my family, friends and the Muslim community at large. I will clear my heart from anger complaints, suspicion, jealousy, grudges or dislike against any of them. I will be extra kind, accommodating, courteous, supportive and helpful to my non-Muslims neighbours and colleagues. I will find ways to have them participate in the blessings of Ramadaan and happiness of Eid by sharing my food specialties with them or giving gifts and chocolates to them.

This Ramadaan, I will decline all invitations to Thanksgiving or pre-Christmas dinners, because every moment in this month is too precious to be spent on those activities. And this Ramadaan, I am going to take my vacations in its last 10 days, so that the precious opportunity offered by those days can be fully utilized for developing my spiritual relationship with Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala. I will kick at least one of my bad habits such as arriving late for appointments or breaking promises. I will show up or do what I indicate I will do and I will show up or do so on time. If I am a smoker, this Ramadaan, I will not smoke even after Iftaar, before Suhoor or at night. I will keep my mouth odour free for prayers and Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala’s remembrance and my lungs, blood and heart from disease.If I am a university student whose final exams are falling in Ramadaan, my act of worship is to do my utmost best to study hard and get the best possible results, given that any moment that is not spent on studying is not spent in any other pursuit except in the remembrance of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala or study of the Qur’aan. While travelling to/from or within campus or while taking a break from studies, I will automatically shift to remembrance of Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala  or recitation of the Qur’aan. For my studies, I will keep timings that are consistent with the spirit of Ramadaan, i.e. sleep early and get up very early. Instead of staying up late at the risk of missing Suhoor or Fajr, I will adjust my body clock to Islamic lifestyle instead of the western lifestyle. When I get up to study at 2 or 3 a.m., I will start with two Raka’at of Tahajjud and then continue with my studies. After Fajr, I will still spend 15-20 minutes on the study of Tafseer every day.

If we succeed this Ramadaan in living as planned above, we will be able to look back and rejoice and feel inner joy and true happiness knowing that our Eid day will be the day of celebrating rewards from Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala.

Having Taqwaa, Attaining Tazkiyah

Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala commands:

“O Believers! Adopt Taqwaa of Allaah; watch what each of you provides for Tomorrow (Hereafter);

and again, maintain Taqwa of Allaah. Indeed, Allaah is aware of what you do. And do not be like those

who forgot Allaah, and as a consequence, He caused them to forget their souls (their own well-being).” 

(Al-Hashr 59:18-19)

The attitude and approach of a Muslim towards the affairs of life that distinguishes him from a non-Muslim is called Taqwaa. It is a paradigm shift resulting from a continual awareness, remembrance and consciousness of Allaah brought about by a true faith in Allaah (Eeman).

Taqwaa is an attitude of keeping one’s duty to Allaah and a paradigm of care, caution and avoidance in the following sense:

·         Being willing, eager and careful to fulfill one’s duties to Allaah in every aspect of life.

·         Being conscious of our accountability to Allaah and being mindful that He is well aware of all our actions, intentions, thoughts and behaviours.

·         Being cautious not to get involved in anything that is prohibited or leads to something that is prohibited by Allaah.

·         Being particular about maintaining a lifestyle that will avoid incurring the displeasure or punishment of Allaah.

As per the paraphrased discussion between Ubayy Bin Ka’ab and Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them) Taqwaa is: Living one’s life as carefully as one holds his clothes closer to his body while passing through a dense jungle of thorny bushes in order to protect his clothes from being caught in any of the thorns.

To capture all the aspects of Taqwaa in translation is difficult. Hence, different scholars have translated Taqwaa as being God conscious, keeping one’s duty to Allaah, or fearing Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala. In fact, Taqwaa is all these things.

Taqwaa is the source of all virtues and goodness. It is the catalyst that reforms a person from inside. Once a person’s paradigm shifts genuinely towards Taqwaa, he embarks on a path of continuous self-improvement. He monitors his own thoughts, motives and actions to ensure that they remain pure and aligned with the guidance of Islam. He becomes motivated, eager and enthusiastic to do good, or rather excel, in his ethics, morals, dealings, human relations, and every aspect of his conduct in day to day life. He tries his best to avoid any bad behaviour in any affairs of life. Good actions please him. Mistakes give him anxiety, in which case he immediately repents, seeks Allaah’s forgiveness and makes up for them by doing more good. He loves Allaah’s creations and cares for them. He becomes generous, gracious, forgiving and kind. He becomes a champion for the rights of the weak, neglected, disadvantaged and persecuted people of the society. He courageously stands up and struggles for the establishment of justice, fairness, equity and equality of all people. He dedicates himself selflessly, never expecting or accepting any thing or any benefit in return because his goal is Allaah’s pleasure, mercy and forgiveness.

This process of ongoing, continuous self-improvement in terms of one’s thoughts, motives and actions regarding all affairs of one’s life is called Tazkiah (Purification).

Thus, true faith makes a person continually remember Allaah Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala with love and awe. This all results in an attitude of Taqwaa which, if properly understood and adopted, results in purification (Tazkiah). The result is a person at his/her best – the best a human being can be.

For such a person, the good news is: “Successful is indeed he who purifies.” (Al-A’alaa 87:14)

Ramadan: A Time for Revival or Survival May 14, 2007

Posted by Shaz in About Ramadan.
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RAMADAN: A Time For Revival Or Survival

http://www.youngmuslims.ca/publications/ramadan.asp

As in years past, the beloved yet unexpected guest of millions, “Holy Ramadan” once again enters our lives. Muslims are filled with great joy in anticipation of welcoming him. Yet to one unaccustomed, it would almost seem as if Muslims had never met him before!

All of a sudden, our new-found love for this guest causes us to radically change our daily schedules and habits to entertain him. Our Mosques mysteriously overflow with worshippers, chapters of the Quran are heard chanted till the wee hours of the morning accompanied by a hail of cries, and our social gatherings and feasts become livelier than ever before – all these sacrifices made to honor this special and ‘holy’ guest from Allah.

Isn’t it interesting and ironic that while he is among us, for a full 30 days, we starve, read numerous articles on do’s and don’ts of treating this guest, avoid watching TV in his presence, and sing songs or Nasheeds of joy, yet we fail to understand him and the mission of his visit? For some odd reason, this same “Holy Ramadan” becomes a stranger to us on the 1st of Shawwal!

Let the Scrubbing Begin!

What many of us forget is that this guest accompanies a deep purpose and responsibility. It is as Muhammad al-Shareef notes:

“Whenever a guest comes to our home, we prepare in advance for his arrival by vacuuming the carpet, dusting the shelves, and scrubbing the sinks. We should do this for our guest of Ramadan as well. But the scrubbing should not just be of our physical surroundings, it should include the scrubbing of our sins!”

Ever Wonder Why The ‘Change’ And ‘Blessings’ Don’t Last?

Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi explains in Let Us Be Muslims:

“The greatest mistake we commit is to regard the outward shape of acts of prayer and fasting as the real ‘Ibadah (worship) and we suffer from the delusion that whoever just fulfills these requirements performs the ‘Ibadah of Allah. Just as physical strength cannot be obtained from the bread until it is fully digested, the spiritual power cannot be obtained from fasting until the person allows Ramadan’s purpose to permeate one’s heart and mind and dominate one’s thought, intention and deed.”

Ramadan – A Tool Of Transformation And Month Of Sharing

In addition to the indispensable personal benefits of fasting, Ramadan is a time for social awareness. As Hammudah ‘Abd al-Ati describes in Islam in Focus:

“No sociologist or historian can say that there has been at any period of history anything comparable to this powerful institution of Islam: Fasting in the month of Ramadan. People have been crying throughout the ages for acceptable belonging, for unity, for brotherhood, for equality, but how echoless their voices have been, and how very little success they have met.”

No Time To Hibernate!

As Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick eloquently explains in Ramadan in History:

“Ramadan is actually a time of increased activity wherein the believer, now lightened of the burdens of constant eating and drinking, should be more willing to strive and struggle for Allah. The Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) nine Ramadans were filled with decisive events, such as Jihad, and he left us a shining example of sacrifice and submission to Allah. Throughout Islamic history, most of the significant battles were won in this month!”

Living Taqwa – Moving Dead Hearts To Action!

Quran [2:183] describes attainment of Taqwa to be the real purpose of Fasting. But, what is Taqwa?

Sayyid ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab: “A person with the quality of Taqwa is like a person walking with caution on a thorny road. The way he would take care to save his clothes from getting entangled in the thorns, so is a person with Taqwa conscious of every action he does (for fear of falling into wrong).”

Sayyid ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib: “Taqwa means fearing Allah, acting in accordance with the Quran, contentment with whatever little you have, and preparing for the day of departure (death).”

Imam al-Ghazali narrates: “Whoever fears something (in the creation of Allah) runs away from it, whereas whoever fears Allah runs to Him (out of love and obedience)!”

Let us all begin to live a life of Taqwa this Ramadan to avoid the ‘thorns’ that come our way in the form of worldly temptations in the media and society in general.

Intensifying Our Love And Study Of The Quran

It is said when you love someone, you would know every little thing he or she says, likes and dislikes. How can we claim to love Allah, yet know very little about His message and gift to us? Ramadan offers the rare opportunity for an intense reflection on the message of the Quran. It is the source of a constant revolution in the lives of millions of those who possess a living heart, as Allah says, “Indeed in this (Quran) there is remembrance for those who have a living heart, listen attentively and are awake to taking heed.” [Qaaf: 37]

It is reported that Imam al-Zuhri would say about Ramadan, “It is recitation of the Quran and feeding of people.” Similarly, ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) would recite from the pages of the Quran starting at the break of day at dawn in Ramadan until the sun had risen.

This Was The Spirit Of Ramadan

“This was the spirit of Ramadan that enabled our righteous forefathers to face seemingly impossible challenges. It was a time of intense activity, spending the day outside and the night in prayer while calling upon Allah for His forgiveness. Today, the Muslim world is faced with drought, military aggression, widespread corruption and tempting materialism. Surely we are in need of believers who can walk in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), the illustrious Sahabah, and leaders like Tariq ibn Ziyad, Salahuddin and the countless heroes of Islam. Surely we are in need of the Muslims whose fast is complete and not just a source of hunger and thirst. May Allah raise up a generation of Muslims who can carry Islam to all corners of the globe in a manner that befits our age.”

a passionate reminder from Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick.

A Quick Checklist Of Ramadan:

  • Make a resolve to win the maximum favour of Allah: perform extra voluntary prayers (Nawaafil), make frequent Du’a and increase remembrance (Dhikr).
  • Try to recite some Quran after every Prayer. In fact if you read 3-4 pages after every Prayer you can easily finish the entire Quran in Ramadan! Study the Quranic Tafseer (commentary) every morning.
  • Invite a person you are not very close with to your home for Iftar, at least once a week. You will notice the blessings in your relationships!
  • Bring life to your family! Everyday, try to conclude the fast with your family and spend some quality time together to understand each other better.
  • Give gifts on ‘Eid to at least 5 people: 2 to your family members, 2 to your good friends, and 1 to a person whom you love purely for the sake of Allah.
  • Commit to an Islamic study circles to enhance your Islamic knowledge and practice. Plan to complete reading a book on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life in these 30 days.
  • Donate generously to the masajid, Islamic organizations, and any where people are in need. “This is a month of sharing!”
  • Share Ramadan and its teachings of love & patience with your neighbours. Learn how at http://www.soundvision.com/info/ramadan/
  • Initiate a project to promote or revive a ‘forgotten’ social cause in the Muslim and non-Muslim community: fight against racism, AIDS, drugs, cancer, smoking…etc.
  • Did you know, our society, which constitutes only 20% of world’s population, actually consumes 80% of world’s resources! Volunteer at food bank or Anti-Poverty campaign, while fasting!
  • Seek the rare and oft-neglected rewards of ‘the night better than a 1000 months’, Laylatul-Qadr.
  • Weep in private for the forgiveness of your sins: It is the month of forgiveness and Allah’s Mercy! It’s never too late.
  • Learn to control your tongue and lower your gaze. Remember the Prophet’s warning that lying, backbiting, and a lustful gaze all violate the fast! Abandon foul language forever.
  • Encourage others to enjoin and love goodness, and to abandon everything evil. Play the role of a Da’ee (one who invites to Allah) with passion and sympathy.
  • Experience the joy of Tahajjud prayers late at night and devote yourself purely and fully to Allah in the I’tikaf retreat during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

For More Info

Islam: The Natural Way by Abdul Wahid Hamid
Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
Let Us Be Muslims by Sayyid Abul A’la Mawdudi

Some Health Guidelines for Ramadan May 14, 2007

Posted by Shaz in Health in Ramadan.
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Some health guidelines for Ramadan
Dr. Farouk Haffejee

This article provides useful advice on how to avoid some common problems encountered in Ramadhan. If followed, it would enable one to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of Ramadhan.

During the holy month of Ramadhan, our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that we maintain our normal weight, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is over-weight, Ramadhan is an ideal time to normalise one’s weight.

In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours.

Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, unpolished rice, etc. (called complex carbohydrates).
Fast-burning foods are foods that contain sugar, white flour, etc. (called refined carbohydrates).
Fibre-containing foods are bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, vegetables like green beans, peas, sem (papry), marrow, mealies, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds, etc.

The foods eaten should be well-balanced, containing foods from each food group, i.e. fruits, vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products. Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems.

AVOID

Fried and fatty foods.
Foods containing too much sugar.
Over-eating especially at sehri.
Too much tea at sehri. Tea makes you pass more urine taking with it valuable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.
Smoking cigarettes. If you cannot give up smoking, cut down gradually starting a few weeks before Ramadhan. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely.

EAT

Complex carbohydrates at sehri so that the food lasts longer making you less hungry.
Haleem is an excellent source of protein and is a slow-burning food.
Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium.
Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.
Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.

DRINK

As much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.

CONSTIPATION

Constipation can cause piles (haemorroids), fissures (painful cracks in anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.

Causes: Too much refined foods, too little water and not enough fibre in the diet.

Remedy: Avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking, brown flour when making roti.

INDIGESTION AND WIND

Causes: Over-eating. Too much fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, and foods that produce wind e.g. eggs, cabbage, lentils, carbonated drinks like Cola also produce gas.

Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink fruit juices or better still drink water. Avoid fried foods, add ajmor to wind-producing foods.

LETHARGY (‘low blood pressure’)

Excessive sweating, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness, especially on getting up from sitting position, pale appearance and feeling faint are symptoms associated with “low blood pressure”. This tends to occur towards the afternoon.

Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake.

Remedy: Keep cool, increase fluid and salt intake.

Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a blood pressure reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted during Ramadhan. They should consult their doctor.

HEADACHE

Causes: Caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, hunger usually occur as the day goes by and worsens at the end of the day. When associated with “low blood pressure”, the headache can be quite severe and can also cause nausea before Iftar.

Remedy: Cut down caffeine and tobacco slowly starting a week or two before Ramadhan. Herbal and caffeine-free teas may be substituted. Reorganise your schedule during the Ramadan so as to have adequate sleep.

LOW BLOOD SUGAR

Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiring easily, feeling shaky (tremor), unable to perform physical activities, headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.

Causes in non-diabetics: Having too much sugar i.e. refined carbohydrates especially at suhur (sehri). The body produces too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop.

Remedy: Eat something at sehri and limit sugar-containing foods and drinks.

Caution: Diabetics may need to adjust their medication in Ramadan, consult your doctor.

MUSCLE CRAMPS

Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium foods.

Remedy: Eat foods rich in the above minerals e.g. vegetables, fruit, dairy products, meat and dates.

Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication and with kidney stone problems should consult their doctor.

PEPTIC ULCERS, HEART BURN, GASTRITIS AND HIATUS HERNIA

Increased acid levels in the empty stomach in Ramadhan aggravate the above conditions. It presents as a burning feeling in the stomach area under the ribs and can extend upto the throat. Spicy foods, coffee, and Cola drinks worsen these conditions.

Medications are available to control acid levels in the stomach. People with proven peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia should consult their doctor well before Ramadhan.

KIDNEY STONES

Kidney stones may occur in people who have less liquids to drink. Therefore, it is essential to drink extra liquids so as to prevent stone formation.

JOINT PAINS

Causes: During Ramadhan, when extra salah are performed the pressure on the knee joints increases. In the elderly and those with arthritis this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.

Remedy: Lose weight so that the knees do not have to carry any extra load. Exercise the lower limbs before Ramadhan so that they can be prepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit allows greater fulfilment, thus enabling one to be able to perform salah with ease.

Dr. Farouk Haffejee
Islamic Medical Association of South Africa – Durban

Hello world! May 14, 2007

Posted by Shaz in Uncategorized.
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