“Lord of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them – so worship Him and have patience for His worship. Do you know of any similarity to Him?” Maryam [16:65] Growing up, the… More
She wakes up. Delicately rises from her bed, and whispers a prayer, grateful to be alive one more day. She walks towards her bathroom and begins her morning routine. After exiting the bathroom, she walks towards her beauty shelf, and gazes with wonder at the sight of the beautiful makeup. Her limbs freeze as she stands there, fighting a battle from within, questioning whether she will apply some or not. Her colleagues at work all wear it, she will be the odd one out for not having foundation and lipstick on, she wants to look pretty, but she knows leaving the house with makeup on isn’t permissible in her religion. She fights back her desires, and turns in the opposite direction, towards the front door. Her mind is conscious that her Islamic outfit is hanging inside her closet, silently calling her to wear it. People could think she is a terrorist. She might be attacked. She allows those thoughts to consume her from within to repel her desire to wear her hijab. But again, her thoughts about Allah’s commands prevail. She goes towards her closet and wears her Islamic outfit, allowing the soft material to drape loosely over her, concealing the treasure she holds. Her anxiety is present, but so is her trust in Allah. She takes a deep breath, and steps outside. Away from the comfort of her home, into the jaws of society.
Beauty, intelligence, success, we have it all defined for us. We live in a time where we are constantly influenced in altering our personalities, bodies, features and values. Society has defined virtually everything for us, from what it means to be beautiful, to what the definition of success should be, and we are being swayed by the current of it all. For Muslims today, the pressure is intense. On one hand, we have our desires calling us to become enslaved to societal standards, following the latest trends and ‘living it all’ no matter how immoral it is, on the other, we have Islam. A beautiful, just and pure religion dictating how we should live our lives, instructing us with a manual – the Quran, and guiding us away from the darkness and into the light.
The struggle of practicing Islam is increasing. Muslims either practice Islam properly, don’t practice at all, or compromise the religion. Whenever someone is advised to stop whatever haram (impermissible) action they are engaging in, a series of excuses are thrown. With the media successfully manipulating those around us, Muslims have become fearful of how they are being perceived by other human beings, particularly in the West. Sisters mostly, whose Islamic identity is manifested through hijab, have lost their confidence in preserving the modest aspect of hijab, and resort to makeup, tight clothes, and other things that contradict the essence of this Islamic outfit, for many reasons that mainly stem from our lack of willingness to trust Allah and respect his commands. Sadly, we are more keen to defy His laws, if it means pleasing others and ‘fitting in’. We have lost our confidence when it comes to enjoining good and forbidding evil, once again afraid of the response we will get. Once, someone was expressing to me their fears about going somewhere with a particular group of Muslims, he asked: “What if they put music on in the car?”, “Well, you tell them to turn it off” I responded effortlessly. It wasn’t until later, that I realised this wasn’t a simple, careless question. It was a worry. It was something he had been contemplating, because he knew he might not have the courage to tell them to turn it off. I wondered later, what happened to rights of Allah coming first? Why are we so concerned with what others think of us? Muslims are indeed facing a major crisis with their Islamic identities.
Our ignorance towards knowledge of Allah and tawheed is one of, if not the sole reason why we have become ashamed of our Islamic identities. The thought of choosing Allah above all else does not sit peacefully within us because we do not know who Allah is. We know our fellow human beings, what they like and dislike, and we love them so we try to please them, but we do not love Allah enough and so we do not try to please Him. Knowing Allah and learning about Him isn’t an option for a Muslim, it is an obligation! The only way we can combat our inner crisis is by weighing within ourselves who is more important: Allah or everything else? Once we know Allah, we will know that He is more important. Like the example of the Muslimah in the short story above, we will choose Him.
Many times in life, you come across certain individuals who persistently commit sins and do not seek the forgiveness of Allah, they believe with full certainty that they will not receive His mercy and consequently choose to increase in evil deeds. This is a grave mistake and misunderstanding. Allah assures us in the Quran that no matter what sin we commit, He subhanahu wa ta’ala will forgive. For example, most of us grew up knowing that shirk (associating partners in worship with Allah) is an unforgivable sin, we don’t actually know that it is only unforgivable if we die having commited shirk without repenting, if we commit even this sin, Allah can forgive us as long as we repent.
“And those who, when they have committed Fahishah (illegal sexual intercourse) or wronged themselves with evil, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their sins; – and none can forgive sins but Allah – and do not persist in what (wrong) they have done, while they know.” (3:135)
During this month especially, it is paramount that we constantly repent to Allah and seek His forgiveness. There are numerous ways in which we can do that, feom simply uttering words of forgiveness on our tongues, to praying two.
Shaddad bin Aus (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The best supplication for seeking forgiveness (Syed-ul-Istighfar) is to say: `Allahumma Anta Rabbi, la ilaha illa Anta, khalaqtani wa ana `abduka, wa ana `ala `ahdika wa wa`dika mastata`tu, a`udhu bika min sharri ma sana`tu, abu’u laka bini`matika `alayya, wa abu’u bidhanbi faghfir li, fa innahu la yaghfirudh-dhunuba illa Anta. (O Allah! You are my Rubb. There is no true god except You. You have created me, and I am Your slave, and I hold to Your Covenant as far as I can. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge the favours that You have bestowed upon me, and I confess my sins. Pardon me, for none but You has the power to pardon).’ He who supplicates in these terms during the day with firm belief in it and dies on the same day (before the evening), he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah; and if anyone supplicates in these terms during the night with firm belief in it and dies before the morning, he will be one of the dwellers of Jannah.” [Al-Bukhari].
Throughout the year we all fall short and drown in sins, constantly disobeying our Creator and transgressing the limits of Islam. If He has blessed you to witness another ramadhan, He is giving you the opportunity to repent, seize it! Know with full certainty that Allah swt is full of Mercy and Compassion towards His servants, life is short and we must use our time wisely to grow towards Him. Allah swt knows that we are a people who sin, so do not feel shy to repent to your Creator. Do not allow shaytan to delude you into thinking that Allah swt will not forgive you as this is simply not true, and remember to always keep this hadith in mind:
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “By the One in Whose Hand my soul is! If you do not commit sins, Allah would replace you with a people who would commit sins and seek forgiveness from Allah; and Allah will certainly forgive them.” [Bukhari]
Now, the same way we love that Allah should forgive us, we must also get into the habbit of forgiving others. Humans are imperfect by nature, we all fall into mistakes, to look past somebody’s mistake and to forgive them is something very noble and important to do. It is a gift only a few possess.
Forgiving someone can be very difficult to do when you are fuming with anger. It can be that this person has hurt you in a profound and unimaginable way through words or actions. Perhaps this invidual has been abusive. Nonetheless, life is too short to not forgive. In our lives, surely we’ve made mistakes, and do we not appreciate it when people accept our apologies? It is also important to take into consideration that by forgiving someone, even if they’re not concerned by your act of forgiveness, you are actually helping yourself. To hold grudges and sustain ressentment hurts nobody else but you, we know this from our religion, but it is also something emphasized by psychologist. To forgive is to heal your wound by yourself, not depending on someone to do it for you. So in shaa Allah (by the will of Allah) let us strive to forgive one another and accept that we are all flawed and can commit mistakes. Let us also strive to repent to our Lord and often as possible, especially before the inevitable comes.
Ramadan is the time of year where people go crazy with food! We have soups, samosas, cakes, sweets, juices, tea, coffee, dates, you name it! The list could go on all day! However, we must have self control and understand that our body has rights over us, we should be careful what we put in it, not only the food, but the amount!
Miqdam ibn Ma’d reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.” Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2380
That being said, I understand that it is very tempting to overeat, especially at iftaar. However, if you plan ahead then you can really decide and control what you are going to eat and how. An excellent thing that many families do, including myself, is that we break fast with dates, water and a bowl of soup. Then we go to pray salat ul Maghrib, come home and have a nice light dinner. Go pray taraweeh, come home and have dessert with tea or coffee etc.
Even if you haven’t been doing good so far, plan and prepare now, it’s never too late to start. In the past my typical Ramadan would be to break fast with dates, water, soup, samosas, some sweet treats (not all the time) go off to play (sometime we would just have dates and water, pray first and come back) and then we would chill for a few hours, pray taraweeh and have dinner. It was like having two dinners a couple hours apart from each other. So we ended up eating far too much, being crazy full and also having no energy. As you might not know, carbs makes us crash, and we have a lot of carbs during Ramadan which is why we feel so tired and have no energy at Taraweeh.
Luqmân said to his son: “O my son! If the stomach is full, one’s mental processes go to sleep, one’s wisdom is dulled, and one’s limbs refrain from worship.”
Something that I also want to correct this year is my sleeping schedule, and my eating schedule can interfere with that. If you are having dinner at say ten o clock or eleven, you are going to be too full to sleep and end up staying up for suhoor, which is what I ended up doing almost every night last year. And that way you end up not eating much for suhoor either because you are not hungry.
Allah says: “O children of Adam, take your adornment to every mosque. Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 31]
Umar observed: “Whoever eats a lot finds no pleasure in the remembrance of Allah.”
Use this blessed month as a training ground to exercise your self control and make a plan, even though Ramadan has already commenced, and strive to get your eating and sleeping habits in order.
Prophet Isa and Musa were given miracles distinct to their time, that amazed the minds of those around them, their stories forever etched in history. However, this begs the question. What about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who was sent not merely to convey the message to a certain people, but rather the people until the last day, ourselves included? What miracle was he given that could entice the minds of the people today? It’s true that just like both Musa and Isa he too had miracles that he performed that amazed his people. However, his biggest miracle, the one lasting even until this day is that of a literary miracle.
The Arabs were widely known for and took great pride and treasure in their oratory skills. Eloquence was considered the highest quality that man could possess. Language had reached its peak of development and they would often hold yearly contests in which lines of speeches and poetry were recited from memory. Language was so revered that they even went as far as to etch the ten most famous poems in gold and hang them on their sacred place of worship, the Kabah. Even today, Arab societies pride themselves on their skills of poetry and word.
Therefore, in order to tantalize the minds of the Arabs and create a lasting miracle that even the people of our time could clearly see, Allah, exalted is He, blessed the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, with the Quran. It is a miracle that stretches even farther than just a literary miracle, being one of scientific miracles, historical miracles and the like. However, for the sake of this article I will focus merely on the literary aspect of this miracle.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was a man who was known for his complete honesty and could neither read nor write, never partaking in poetry or the like. The people of his time were so overtaken by the literary miracle of the Quran that despite opposing him, it was impossible for them to deny. One such case was that of when a man of Bani Makhzum (a noble tribe in the city of Makkah) heard the verses he said:
“Today I have heard from Mohammed a speech which does not belong to the category of the speeches of the human beings and the genii [spirits;jin]. It is very melodious and possesses a special beauty. Its branches are full of fruits and its roots abound with blessings. It is an outstanding narration and no other narration is as outstanding as this.” (Majma’ul Bayan)
The Arabs fell in love with the unusual rapture, attraction, sweetness and melody because they could not find such an elegance in anything other than the Quran. The earthquake it caused in their hearts was not merely for this man alone but also for the leaders, who greatly opposed the Prophet, not wanting to change their lifestyle. The key figures of the Quraysh (the tribe of the Prophet) would go in the darkness of the night and keep hidden just to listen to the recitation of the Quran, standing there until dawn, completely mesmerized; only to find the other leaders and make a promise amongst themselves not to partake in such a thing again. However, due to its beauty they still were unable to keep away and continuously returned, catching each other again and again, making the same promises. (Ibn Hisham)
The Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him said: “All prophets were given something which would cause people to believe in them. The thing which I was given is none other than a revelation (the Quran) which Allah revealed to me. So I hope that I will have the most followers among them on the Day of Judgment.” Al Bukhari
The Quran is a guidance, a book that brings man out of darkness and into light, a map that clearly outlines the right and wrong, the best path to follow, giving clear directions to the ultimate treasure, Allah’s pleasure and Paradise. It is such a lasting miracle, that even today, more than fourteen centuries after the revelation of the Quran, the captivating sound of the recitation can still be heard in all different parts of the world, leaving an impression on the hearts and minds, and transforming those who listen to it, preserved in its original form not a single verse having changed.
“And when they hear what has been revealed to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears, because of the truth they recognize. They say, “Our Lord we believe; so register us among the witnesses.” al-Maaida (5):83
“…and We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as a guidance and mercy…” an-Nahl (16):89
“… a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion…” al-Baqarah (2):185
“And (as for) those who strive hard for Us, We will most certainly guide them onto Our ways”. al-Ankaboot (29):69
Unlike most scholarly and scientific texts, the Quran is a book that has not needed to be updated for over 1400 years. It is a work that has been preserved in its original living language without a single changed word over time nor lost to translation. The Quran itself testifies to its own literary miracle in the verse:
“And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our Servant (Mohammed), then produce a Surrah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful. But if you do not – and you will never be able to – then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the disbelievers.” al-Baqarah (2):23-24
To this day, it stands up to the test of time and no one has ever met that challenge, despite their best efforts. The Quran is indeed the biggest literary miracle of all time and with it comes the proof of its divinity as it was first spoken to the Arab community by a chosen man who could neither read nor write, yet was obviously divinely inspired to our beloved Prophet.
Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam said: “The best month for observing fast after Ramadhan is muharram, and the best salah after the prescribed salah is salah at night”
As servants of Allah, we should be always seeking ways of getting closer our Lord, and Islam teaches us that one of the easiest ways in which we can ignite a connection with Allah and grow closer to Him, is through the night prayer. When is the last time any of us left our beds for the sake of Allah, and stood in the depths of the night to pray? Last Ramadhan? Before an exam? Maybe there hasn’t even been a first time, and yet it is a beautiful act of worship with a huge amount of reward.
Salah, in general, is one of the most important actions a servant must perform in our religion, we know, it is the second pillar of Islam after the shahada (testimony), and this highlights its significance. Tahajjud is one of the supererogatory prayers we are constantly advised to perform, it is one of those actions that, when performed, enables us to become amongst the individuals mentioned in this beautiful qudsi hadith: Narrated on the authority of Abu Dhar: Allah’s Messenger said that Allah said: “He who comes with a good deed, its reward will be ten like that or even more. And he who comes with vice, his reward will be only one like that, or I can forgive him. He who draws close to Me a hand’s span, I will draw close to him an arm’s length. And whoever draws near Me an arm’s length, I will draw near him a fathom’s length. And whoever comes to Me walking, I will go to him running. And whoever faces Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, I will meet him with forgiveness nearly as great as that, provided he does not worship something with me.” [Muslim]
This act is a beautiful deed which Allah swt loves. Just imagine, during the night when the world has settled and people are caught up in their sleep, you arise and begin to pray, you’re one of the very few servants of Allah who do this. Calmness and serenity settles within you because you are alone with Allah, you worship Him, remember Him, make dua to Him. Due to the night’s calm atmosphere and silence, you genuinely feel a sense of comfort. The Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?”. What an incredible hadith subhanAllah! It is sad to think that so many of us miss this amazing opportunity because we choose sleep over prayer, and contrary to what Muslims believe, this act of worship is not tiring or difficult in anyway, in fact once it becomes a habit, it will be something you will find difficult to live without.
Praying tahajud is also one of the most excellent ways of manifesting your gratitude towards Allah swt and the uncountable blessings He has bestowed in your life. One of the best hadith that illustrates this is the one that follows: Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him: “Why do you do this, while you have been forgiven of your former and latter sins?” He said, “Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This hadith teaches us so much, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, despite not possessing much, acknowledged the blessings of Allah swt upon Him, and stood in prayer until his skin got affected to show his gratitude to His lord, what excuse do we have? Our blessings are so much that it is impossible to count them, “If you were to count Allah’s favors, you would not be able to number them; most surely humanity is very unjust, very ungrateful.” [Sūrah Ibrāhīm: 34] this verse should soften our hearts, and make us feel ashamed when we compare our ungrateful attitude towards Allah’s generosity towards us. Even though it would realistically impossible to thank Allah for all His blessings, let us implement the action of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and pray tahajud as way of showing some gratitude towards Allah.
So Ramadan is almost here! It is such a blessed and amazing time of year. I find it is during this month I feel the most connected to my religion and Allah, and I really want to do as many good deeds as I possibly can. Of course we should be doing that all the time, but I find that I tend to get back into things and it really helps me to stay on track for the rest of the year.
Sometimes it is easy to fall into thinking that we are starving ourselves but what we really need to ask ourselves is, why are we fasting? The fast is intended to bring us closer to Allah. Also, fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the hajj, pilgrimage, in Mecca.
Try to plan your days beforehand and also getting into a routine before Ramadan starts, so if you get into good habits before it starts, inshaAllah you’ll be able to continue doing them.
A great habit to have is to read Quran after every prayer, that way you’re reading the Quran at least 5 times a day! Even if it’s just a few ayas or surahs, every and anything counts.
Doing good deeds for others is something I really love to do, and especially in Ramadan there is so much you can do to help others, whether it is your family, your friends, your neighbors, the poor, everyone!
And really try to stay away from bad behavior and arguments-“If one of you is observing Saum (fast), he should avoid saying words that contain sexual matters, and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am observing Saum (fast).’”(Muttafaqun ‘alaih)
Being grateful is very important because remember, no matter how hungry or thirsty or tired you get, there’s always going to be someone somewhere who doesn’t even have food to break fast with! Imagine that??
So, to summarize: do as many good deeds as you possibly can, stay away from bad behavior and upsetting others, be grateful for what you have and those around you and read the Quran!!
May we all have a blessed Ramadan. Ameen.
As children, the phrase: “Ramadan is coming” brought joy to our hearts. Knowing that Ramadan was a month where we have guest, delicious food, night trips to the mosque; where family and friends come together to fully appreciate this unforgettable month. As children we didn’t pay much attention to what we were supposed to do and not to do, but as we’re getting older, we’re realising that Ramadhan is much more than Maghrib countdowns and good family vibes, and sometimes we may be confused with what to do as we become young adults.
Many of us are focused on the food and inviting guests during this month, to the point that we miss the actual benefits of Ramadan. We get caught up in an everyday routine and we forget the actual purpose; to praise Allah, subhanah wa ta’ala, in Ramadan, which is a widespread problem in our Ummah today .
Things to do in Ramadan
- Sleep at night, not the day
It’s easy to get your nights and days turned around as you get up to prepare Suhur before Fajr and pray Taraweeh in the Masjids after Isha’. Make it your goal to not be amongst those who waste precious hours in the day and find ways to keep yourself occupied during the daytime i.e reading Quran, make dua, etc.
- Try to be active during the day by worshiping Allah and increasing your deeds
When preparing for this Ramandan make a goal list. Think about the type of person you desire to be and pick a few characteristics or deeds and break it down into obtainable goals and work on them this Ramadan. One such goal may be to indulge in less screen time and social media. Choose goals that will help you fill your day and try and stay off that phone until after iftaar.
- When you cook, try to spend less time in the kitchen. Eat light foods and make easy meals so that Taraweeh isn’t difficult and you can worship Allah at night
Remember that Ramadan is not the month of ‘feasting’ but rather a month of training and endurance against your Nafs, self/desires, a vital stepping stone for helping you build your relationship with Allah, subhanah wa ta’ala, throughout the year. Eating a lot and ‘feasting’ will leave you tired and overly full making Taraweeh extremely difficult. This can lead to missing out on such a golden opportunity for gathering rewards.
- When the last 10 day have approached, don’t spend all your time preparing for Eid.
The greatest rewards are in the last ten days, espically Laylatul Qadr, a day that is better than a thousand months – that is longer than most people live. As stated in Surrah al-Qadar(97):3: “The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months”
A night wherein Allah sent down the Qur’ân to the lowest heavens. Our good deeds on this special night are magnified in value, so that it is as if we have been offering those deeds for 1000 months.
- Increase in kindness to those around you. Give your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters their rights.
Use this blessed and beloved month as your training ground to becoming a better version of yourself and choose take the high road when provoked by others.
- Keep yourself hydrated and satisfied when eating and drinking (make soups to maximize on hydration) and help your mum in the kitchen or around the house.
Staying active during Ramadan
Health! We all spend time trying to get to a body size, that we wish to be, or just want to eat healthy in general. Making time to workout during Ramadan can be difficult especially when you’re fasting and want to make time to sleep before getting up for suhoor. The following is a solution that you can implement during this Ramadan:
- You can workout 1-2 hours before Isha or before Fajr
- After taraweeh you can rest until 1-2 hours before suhoor and then you can workout.
It’s important to remember that spiritual and physical health are both vitally important and therefore we should strike a balance, all the while not forgetting the true purpose of Ramadan. Use this beautiful and blessed month as your training ground to prepare both and insha’Allah, by the end of the month you will see the fruits or your hard work.
After Prophet Musa (Moses), peace be upon him passed away, those who had witnessed the divine miracles sent to him also passed. Thus, the tales of those miracles faded into stories told by the people of old, not holding the same weight as it did when observed in person. Therefore, Allah, Exalted is He, in His Infinite Wisdom and Mercy sent another Prophet, Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, to the people as a reminder and to incite the return of submission back into the people’s hearts.
Isa, peace be upon him, was sent to witness to the Jews, who at that time were noted for their exceptional abilities in the field of medicine. They were highly respected and revered for their seemingly magical abilities to mend bones, heal wounds and cure the sick. Thus, Allah, Exalted is He, favored Isa, peace be upon him, with the divine miracles that made the masters of that time submit to the truth of Allah’s Unity due to the undeniable miracle that defied all human comparison. An example of this can be illustrated in a few single verses from the Quran:
She said [Mary], “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.
And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel
And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed, in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.
Aal Imran(3): 47-49
Isa’s birth was a divine miracle in itself, as he was born to a mother who was chaste and pure. Likewise, during his lifetime, by the permission of Allah, Exalted is He, he was able to make the blind see, the lame walk, heal lepers and bring the dead to life. These abilities were clearly beyond that of the Jewish doctors. You can imagine that when they saw this it was clear enough proof that he was a prophet of Allah and they too, like the great magicians in Musa’s time, submitted to the worship of Allah alone, Exalted is He and free of partners.
The miracle of the last prophet, Mohammed, peace and blessing be upon him, will be made clear and evident just as the miracles of these two great prophets that proceeded him, in part three, the final part of this series.
Oh you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious.)” [al-Baqarah 2:183]
Throughout the year, Allah blesses His servants with numerous opportunities to get closer to Him. Sometimes through a special day such as the day of Arafat before Eid, or a special time such as the hours before Maghrib on a Friday. Coming upon us is the month of Ramadhan, a month in which Allah forgives His slaves for their sins and enables them to grow closer to Him. A month in which we can rectify all our negative traits and abide by the laws prescribed by our Lord, and taught to us by his prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhu wasalam. Although we have a whole month to get the maximum benefit out of Ramadhan, we must be conscious of the fact that time goes very quickly, and before we know it, Eid will be announced. It is for this reason that we should try our best to fulfill as many as the obligatory and supererogatory acts of worship during Ramadhan to achieve the objective for which Allah has bestowed upon us. I will state some of the necessary acts of worship we must perform and fulfill to, insha’Allah, get the maximum benefit out of this blessed month.
Fixing our intention:
No matter what we do in life, we must always make sure that our intentions are present, sincere and correct. Many of us may neglect the importance of intending to fast during Ramadhan, and doing so for the sake of Allah.
It was narrated by Ibn ‘Umar from Hafsah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before Fajr, there is no fast for him.” Narrated by Imam Ahmad, the authors of al-sunan etc. SubhanAllah! From this significant hadith, we learn about the importance of intending to fast to ensure that Allah swt accepts it from us. Remember, you can intend to fast the whole month, or have a fresh intention to fast every day of Ramadhan before Fajr. The former might be easier to achieve in case any of us are forgetful.
Fulfilling obligatory acts of worship:
Fasting: This may seem obvious, but sadly, many Muslims actually refuse to fast during Ramadhan for whatever reason. Fasting is not a choice during Ramadhan, it is obligatory. It is a pillar amongst the five pillars of Islam and those of us who do not fulfill it are committing a grave, grave sin. Some of the pious predecessors even held the view that those who do not fast during Ramadhan have disbelieved. If you have exams during this month or you are not used to fasting, do not allow your fears to deter you from obeying this important command of Allah.
Salah: Also, some may fast during Ramadhan because the rest of the Ummah is doing the same, we are swayed by the Ramadhan vibe and enjoy the spirit of it, all the while neglecting something even more important than fasting such as the prayer. Know, that your fast won’t be of much use to you if you are not fulfilling other obligatory actions. Unfortunately, many Muslims fast and do not pray not realizing that prayer is the second in the pillars of Islam whereas fasting the month of Ramadhan is the fourth, this in itself, illustrates the significance of the prayer. If you’re not consistent with your prayers, do not enter the month of Ramadhan telling yourself that there is no point in fasting since you do not pray; rather make this the time you finally train yourself to obey this imperative command of Allah.
Develop a relationship with the Quran: Sadly, for many of us, the Quran has become a book we simply place on shelves as a manifestation of our Islamic identity. We no longer read, ponder or implement what is in it. If you are amongst these people, Ramadhan is the opportunity for you to rectify your relationship with the Quran, the literal speech of Allah. Keep in mind that it is during this blessed month that Allah revealed it, and the Sahabah would dedicate hours and hours on end reading and pondering over the speech of Allah during this month. Try and complete the Quran at least once by reading twenty pages a day. This may seem overwhelming, but all it takes is for you to read four pages after each of your five daily prayers. The Quran has about six hundred pages, Ramadhan is roughly thirty days, divide six hundred by thirty and you have twenty.
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)…” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
Remembrance of Allah: Ramadhan is a month about remembering Allah, separating your mind from all that it is distracted with throughout the year, and focusing solely on your Creator. Contemplate His Greatness and Perfection. Ponder over all that He has blessed you with. When you break your fast at Maghrib, remember that there are people around the world remaining hungry with their throats dry. Engage in lots of dhikr, as taught to us by the prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasalam, and continuously praise your Lord.
Being good to others: As human beings, we are prone to hurting those around us; either verbally, physically, emotionally or mentally. Many of us fall short during the year and neglect the rights of our fellow human beings, the rights of our parents or our neighbors. The rights of our friends or family members. If you have wronged someone and you know it, Ramadhan is the time to swallow your ego and make peace with that person.
If someone has wronged you, now is the time to tell the person and forgive them instead of holding a grudge. If our minds and hearts are focused on the harm we have been inflicted with by others, we will not be able to focus on Allah properly. Likewise, always take care to use the best words when addressing people during and after Ramadhan, but take special care during this month. Fasting isn’t only about restraining ourselves from eating, but also restraining ourselves from committing evil deeds.
The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wasalam, said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” Narrated by al-Bukhari.
Praying extra prayers: Praying taraweeh, the night prayer after isha, is one of the gems and beauty that comes with the month of Ramadhan. Muslims all around the world come together in the Masajid to pray these extra raka’at, it was a practice of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasalam and his companions, and the reward for it is great: Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard the messenger of Allah saying regarding Ramadan, “Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]. Try and engage in extra prayers during the day too, as well as taraweeh, such as the Sunnah prayers after or before each obligatory prayers.
Giving charity: Being charitable during the month of Ramadhan is something extremely virtuous. We have been blessed with so much from Allah, if it is only to give from what He has given to us: “Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” [al-Baqarah 2:261-262]
If you do not have the means to give money to those less fortunate than us, then there are many alternative ways in which you can be charitable such as offering food, giving away genuine compliments or helping your fellow muslim brothers and sisters.
Seeking the forgiveness from Allah: Ramadhan is the month in which Allah forgives His repentant slaves extensively. We should continuously make istughfar throughout the day, and sincerely repent to Allah while we are praying or making dua, and always remember that no sin is too big for Allah to forgive.
“Lest a soul should say, “Oh [how great is] my regret over what I neglected in regard to Allah and that I was among the mockers.” [az-Zumar 39:56]
Dua: Dua is one of the weapons a believer has been blessed with. Dua can change Qadr (the divine decree). It is the way through which we can ask Allah swt everything and anything we desire in this life and in the next. Make dua consistently to Allah during Ramadhan, ask Him to bless you and give you what is good in this life and in the next. Remember our brothers and sisters are suffering around the world, and ask Allah to send His help their way. Pray for those whom you know and do not know, ask Allah to change the state of our Ummah and to help the Muslims to regain their strength. Never underestimate the power which your silent requests to Allah may have.
I once heard someone say that it takes thirty days to develop or break a habit. When you take into consideration that Ramadhan is thirty days, you realise that this is a blessing Allah has bestowed upon us, as it gives us enough time to develop or break a habit. SubhanAllah. Ramadhan is present given only once a year, and none of us are guaranteed to witness the next. If Allah has made you amogst those blessed and alive to be able to witness this Ramadhan, make sure you strive not to waste this golden opportunity.
Man has a natural distaste towards submitting to another and only does so if he is forced by the latter’s physical strength, mental superiority or if he has shown feats far beyond the abilities of other men. In the first two cases he yields reluctantly, while in the third he yields because of his belief in a higher force or power defying all human comparison. For this reason, Allah, Exalted is He, has favored His messengers, not only with revelation but with miracles, clearly proving the divine origin and truthfulness of their messages. The inability for people to imitate these divine miracles of the Prophets made their societies willing to bear witness to Allah’s Unity and obey the commandments of the Prophets.
The early Prophets were sent to a specific time and people due to the difficulties involved in communication and transportation. Thus, their miracles were particularly suited to the areas of knowledge in which their people excelled in, in order for the miracle to have maximum effect. There are three main examples which I would like to share that clearly demonstrate this point. First of Prophet Musa (Moses), the other of Prophet Isa (Jesus), and lastly that of Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon them. Their examples go into great length and therefore I will divide them into three articles.
Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, was raised amongst the Egyptians, a civilization that was far advanced in its time and home to some proud and mighty people. It was ruled by Firaoun (Pharaoh) who thought he was mightier than God and greatly oppressed his people. In this time the people were well noted and versed with the knowledge of occult arts, sorcery and magic. Hence, Allah, Exalted is He, bestowed upon Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, related miracles that would prove to these people the truth of his message.
The following is a clear example, right from the pages of the Quran: Prophet Musa, after having received his message was ordered by Allah, Exalted is He, to return to his people, despite being a fugitive, to confront the vicious Firaoun and implore him to follow the truth.
[Pharoah] said, “If you take a god other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned.”
[Musa] said, “Even if I brought you proof manifest?”
[Pharoah] said, “Then bring it, if you should be of the truthful.”
So [Musa] threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent manifest. And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white for the observers.
[Pharaoh] said to the eminent ones around him, “Indeed, this is a learned magician. He wants to drive you out of your land by his magic, so what do you advise?”
They said, “Postpone [the matter of] him and his brother and send among the cities gatherers.”
So, magicians were assembled for the appointment of a well-known day. And it was said to the people, “Will you congregate That we might follow the magicians if they are the predominant?”
And when the magicians arrived, they said to the Pharoah, “Is there indeed for us a reward if we are the predominant?”
He said, “Yes, and indeed, you will then be of those near [to me].”
Musa said to them, “Throw whatever you will throw.”
So, they threw their ropes and their staffs and said, “By the might of Pharaoh, indeed it is we who are predominant.”
Then Musa threw his staff, and at once it devoured what they falsified. So, the magicians fell down in prostration [to Allah]. They said, “We have believed in the Lord of the worlds, The Lord of Musa and Harun [Aaron].”
[Pharoah] said, “You believed Musa before I gave you permission. Indeed, he is your leader who has taught you magic, but you are going to know. I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite side, and I will surely crucify you all.”
They said, “No harm. Indeed, to our Lord we will return. Indeed, we aspire that our Lord will forgive us our sins because we were the first of the believers.” Ash-Shu’araa 29: 29-59
These magicians, who were the best and most powerful in their land, had clear motivation to win and gain the favor of the tyrannous Firaoun, yet when they saw the miracle of Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, his message was clearly and undeniably the truth. They displayed this by falling in prostration, disregarding and having no fear of the Pharaoh’s punishment, bearing witness to Allah’s unity. The Pharaoh’s plan of gathering the people and having them bear witness that Musa was a joke and a mere magician completely backfired as they must’ve watched in awe and amazement as these great sorcerers abandoned the Pharaoh and bore witness to the truth.
In the coming article, I will discuss another example, that of Prophet Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, and how he too had a miracle that was tailored to the areas of knowledge in which his people excelled. Afterwards I will move on to the last Prophet’s, peace be upon him, miracle, a miracle that is still at work and can be seen in our lives today.