Ramadan Muslims

As people, we make mistakes, going about our day to day live’s doing things that we may know are completely wrong or forbidden, enticed by the ‘sweet’ whispers of the Shaytan. However, when it comes time to Ramadan, the sudden opportunity for change presents itself. Where you didn’t pray or perhaps wear hijab you find that you start to change, praying your five times in Ramadan, putting that hijab on to ‘try it out’. However, what usually happens after the hype of the blessed month wears off, most of us who have grasped this chance may find ourselves slipping and turning back, doing the things we used to or not to do. Perhaps, you are going through this yourself, or know someone who is experiencing this. It was only recently that I discovered that this ‘slipping’ is often referred to as ‘Ramadan Muslims’

In Ramadan the thing we’re trying to accomplish is change as it is the most blessed month and we should show gratitude to Allah, striving to get closer to Him, for He is the All Knowing, the All Seeing.  That being said, the key to change is doing good deeds consistently, keeping it up throughout the year.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” Sunan Ibn Majah, 4240 (authenticated by al-Albani)

Why is it that we act a certain way or do a certain thing during Ramadan and outside Ramadan? It could naturally be due to the fact that we are aware that Ramadan really is a blessed month, a month of striving, so we’re on our best behavior as we try to accomplish as many good deeds as possible. However, even when the motivation is low, we need to wake up and push ourselves to turn the things we’ve accomplished or worked on this Ramadan into habits, realizing that Allah is the All Seeing the All Knowing, the Judge of all things.

If we know He sees and hears all things, then we must fear His punishment, staying away from bad deeds and displeasing Him. It is sad to say, but also true that some of us are good Muslims during Ramadan and then at soon as it ends we find it as a free pass to stop praying, let that hijab slip, be rude to our parents, talk in a bad way, fight with our siblings, listen to music, etc. the list goes on and on.

We have to motivate and help each other, when we fall back and do something wrong don’t give up! Repent and move forward and remind yourself that: “I’m going to try and be the best Muslim I can be!” Repeat this mantra in the mirror everyday when you wake up if you feel it’ll help.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “All of the children of Adam are sinners, and the best of sinners are those who repent.” Sunan Ibn Majah, 4251 (authenticated by As-Suyuti)

Repentance is beloved to Allah, as He says: “Verily, Allah loves those who repent and those who purify themselves.” [Al-Qur’an 2:222]

Going forward we need to develop an awareness of how we act outside Ramadan vs. the way we act during Ramadan. The way we act during Ramadan is how we should strive to be all year round. This is because we want to change ourselves for the better, pleasing Allah, not to show off or please others. If you do a good deed such as finishing the Quran, or make a delicious iftar for your family, reaffirm your intentions that at the end of the day you’re doing this for the sake of Allah.

“And your Ilâh (God) is One Ilâh (God – Allah), Lâ ilâha illa Huwa (there is none who has the right to be worshipped but He), the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” [Al Qur’an 2:163]

We’re human and we all make mistakes and slip up. Now that Ramadan is coming to an end, use this time to evaluate yourself and where you stand. Take responsibility and make attainable goals to continue your progress outside of Ramadan, and hit the ground running rather than lagging behind.  It’s important to note, and remind yourself when the motivation is running low and you feel like lapsing back, that the next Ramadan is never guaranteed. Therefore, take this moment to return in gratitude to Allah for giving you a golden opportunity that you may not experience next year, reaffirming your belief, as you use the Ramadan as stepping stones to getting closer to Allah throughout the rest of the year.

Narrated by Abu Dhar, that 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.” Reported by Muslim.

Overeating During Ramadan

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.

 

Preparing for Ramadan

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.

Staying away from Music

Music. Something that the youth is freely hearing these days, sometimes we come up with excuses like: “it is just a song” or “what is the big deal?”, ignoring the fact that it’s haram without exception in Islam.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia, I’ve noticed that Music is something which both adults and youth listen to, which is a shame considering Saudi is a Muslim country.

I’ve spoken to people who talk about Allah and the Quran, prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings he upon him) but at the same time they’ll say things like “I’m not sure why when I was growing up my teacher would say Music is haram” eventhough Islam provides a clear explanation for this issue.

The point is, as Muslims we have to try our best to obey the rules of Islam, not taking the ones we agree with and leaving the ones we disagree with. It is not a matter of opinion, but it is what Allah has told us to do.

So if you are somewhere or with someone, and music is being played, do not be afraid to say: “can you please turn that down” or “can you please turn that off” and explain why you are making this request. Dawah is something we are obligated to do, and it is not solely for non-muslims, we too are in need of the remembrance. Do not feel embarrassed or awkward, and do not feel concerned about them judging you, we are here to worship Allah swt, and we should continuously strive enjoin the good and forbid the evil regardless of the situation we are in.

We should encourage ourselves to develop a relationship with the Quran, as when we have the words of Allah with us, we will find that they suffice and we need nothing more.

This is an Ayah that always sticks with me when I am thinking or talking about this subject –

﴿شَهِدَ عَلَيْهِمْ سَمْعُهُمْ وَأَبْصَـرُهُمْ وَجُلُودُهُم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ﴾
(their hearing (ears) and their eyes and their skins will testify against them as to what they used to do.) means, all their deeds, earlier and later; not a single letter will be concealed.

The Noble Qur’an – Luqman 31:6

And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah without knowledge, and takes it (the Path of Allah, the Verses of the Qur’an) by way of mockery. For such there will be a humiliating torment (in the Hell-Fire).

And this hadith:

Hadith – Bukhari 7:494

Narrated Abu ‘Amir or Abu Malik Al-Ash’ari that he heard the Prophet saaws saying,

“From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks, and the use of musical instruments as lawful. And (from them), there will be some who will stay near the side of a mountain, and in the evening their shepherd will come to them with their sheep and ask them for something, but they will say to him, ‘Return to us tomorrow.’ Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and Allah will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection.”

The sin of Backbiting

IMG_2673Backbiting is something that is hated by Allah, and this is evident in our religion. Sometimes we may talk about someone and think: “Oh they are not here so it is okay for me to say this”, or “they cannot  hear me so there will be no consequences”; but this does not matter, even if the person is not here, the most important thing is that Allah can see and hear us, He Witnesses everything. Backbiting is really bad characteristic and leads to many bad deeds being written. It is also very two faced and can lead to lying.

If you say something to someone, or act a certain way around them, and then behind their back you are speaking badly about them or insulting them, what type of person does that make you? Trustworthy? Loyal? Or infact a two faced and dishonest individual?!

Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasalam said :”Do you know what backbiting is?” They said, “God and His Messenger know best.” He then said, “It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike.” Someone asked him, “But what if what I say is true?” The Messenger of God said, “If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him.” (Muslim)

Just as Allah states: “Do not kill yourself.” Hence, if you kill others, they will try to kill you. Allah also says in the Qur’an: “Woe to every slanderer and back-biter!” (Surah Al-Humazah, 104: 1)

So we have to be very very careful about what we say and do without someone being aware behind their back. Also, we must treat people how we would like to be treated. Anyone of us would hate it if someome spoke negatively about us behind our backs. Is it fair to treat someone in a way that would upset or offend you? The answer is no. So then what gives you the right to do that to them?!

Please think again the next time you think to say or do something you know is wrong. And remember – “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quiet.” (i.e. abstain from dirty and evil talk, and focus on saying good and worthy things only).

Do it for the sake of Allah

We have all been placed on this earth for the same reason: To obey Allah, abide by His rules, and the objective is for us to get to Jannah, in shaa Allah.

Doing things for the sake of Allah is immensely important. When there is something we do not feel like doing, or our mums ask us to do something for her, we must do it for the sake of Allah firstly, and then  because we want to please your parents. We are here to serve them and it is all part of our test. Doing things for the sake of Allah is one of the conditions needed to have our deeds accepted, and grants us many rewards.

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” (Quran 17:23)

If I’m being completely honest, I myself am guilty of this sometimes, so it is very important to keep reminding yourself that everything you do is for the sake of Allah, and you have to make sure that your niyyah (intention) is correct, otherwise you will be performing actions void of rewards. If we just go about our day to day lives forgetting to remember Allah, and our sole purpose of why we are here and why we have been created, then we will have failed the test of this life and be amogst the losers, and we ask Allah swt to protect us from this.

So try to always remember Allah in everything you do, and always intend to perform actions for His sake, and not to make yourself look good or make other people happy in the process. It can be very easy for us to slip into this sin, to do things for the sake of others, to show off or boast. As humans, it is in our nature to love compliments and people’s approval of us, but this is insignificant. Our Creator is the One whom we should be most concerned about.

(59:19) And be not like those who forgot Allah, so He made them forget themselves. They are the wicked ones.

This also applies to things that are doubtful or wrong, but you try to justify it or make excuses. – On the authority Abi Ab’dillahi al-Nu’man ibn Basheer (ra) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: “That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear and between the two of them are doubtful [or ambiguous] matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allah’s sanctuary is His prohibition. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all the body is diseased. This part of the body is the heart”.

[Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This hadith teaches us that even doubtful matters are to be avoided, we should strive to commit good deeds ordained by the Quran and the sunnah, and abstain from comitting evil ones. If there is a matter upon which we may not be sure about, then we are told to avoid it. And as the saying goes: better be safe than sorry.

Abu Qatadah reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, you will never leave anything for the sake of Allah the Exalted except that Allah will replace it with something better.”

Making time for the Quran

The Quran should be in our lives on a daily basis, we should always try to take time out on our days to focus on reading and reciting the Quran. It is also very important for us to understand what we are reading, because sometimes you find people saying, “I’ve finished the Quran” or, “I know everything that is in the Quran” and so on, but you don’t see beauty of the Quran reflected on their behavior.

Ma shaa Allah, it’s amazing to be Hafiz, but if you’re not following what you’re reading, or abiding by the rules that Allah (SWT) has set, then it’s truly your loss. It seems as though people sometimes say it to show off, or make you feel like they’re better than you, the actions of some people are shocking. Their behavior completely contradicts the Quran.
It is so easy for the Quran to get neglected during the time in which we are living in, with phones, video games, TV, iPhone, iPad, iPod…you name it! But SubhanAllah, we have to stop and think about what we are doing here, why Allah has placed us on this earth, and how we can get to Jannah.
I highly recommend having some sort of schedule/time table, so that you can organize your day and not forget to pick that Quran up! After some time, it will become a daily habit to pick up the book of Allah, by His will, you will be reading and reciting it all the time. It really helps us connect with Allah (SWT), and understand our purpose.
Everyone’s goal is to get to Jannah in shaa Allah, and the Quran is a must for that to happen, without it we wouldn’t know what’s halal what’s haram, what we can and cannot do, how to behave and not to behave..the list goes on!
So, in shaa Allah, I hope that this piece will be a nice little reminder for those who feel that they don’t have time in the day to read and reflect upon the Quran, or that it can wait untill tomorrow. It is essential to make  time for the Quran, and try your best to seek as much knowledge as you can, and pass that on to others. And remind for verily a reminder benefits the believer” (51:55)
Aboo Umaamah relates that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Read the Qur’an, for verily it will come on the Day of Standing as an intercessor for its companions.” [Muslim]
‘Uthmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “The best of you are the ones who learn the Qur’an and teach it to others” [Al-Bukhari]
Abdullaah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas quotes the Prophet as saying “It will be said to the companion of the Quran ‘Read and elevate (through the levels of paradise) and beautify your voice as you used to do when you were (alive). For verily, your position in paradise will be at the last verse you recited!’

It’s never too late

So, we’re at that time of year again and you’re thinking: “I didn’t get that done last year, so it’s going to be the same this year” Well that is in Allah’s hands. It’s entirely up to us to push for the things we want to do, and achieve our goals. Don’t sit around thinking you can’t do it, when you can! Don’t let the past affect your future. Try and make the best of what you have and in shaa Allah with time you’ll be where you want to be and achieve what you want.

Even if you don’t get it done on the first day, first week or even first month you just have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it, and there is nothing wrong with taking your time. All it takes is patience, motivation, trust and belief. Allah (SWT) is the best of planners and you just have to put your trust in Him, and know it will work out and be fine in the end, in shaa Allah.

This past year, I’ve learnt so much about reaching goals and achieving them. In my experience, I find it really helps to plan your days and even keep a checklist of things you want to get done to keep yourself accountable. I’ve found that it’s also extremely important to not be too hard on yourself, and assign too many tasks or goals to accomplish in such a short time when you’re first starting out. It’s best to take things step by step and have a couple of things during the day and achieve them, and as you work up the motivation and habit of fulfilling your goals, you can then broaden your horizon to achieve more each day.

Another great tip is to wake up early. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prayed to Allah to grant abundance to the Ummah in their early mornings:”O Allah, bless my nation in their early mornings (i.e. what they do early in the morning)” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

We can attest to this as the early mornings are much more productive and rejuvenating, and it is so much easier to get the work done, having more hours in the day and a bright start. Doing this won’t only kick-start your day, it’ll also leave you with a feeling of accomplishment, as you’ll then have time later that day to do things that you enjoy.

Also, pull your friends and family into your goal. Tell them your ideas and include them in on your plan. This will motivate you to get it done and will also help you keep yourself accountable to achieve your dreams, as they can help give you that push you need every once in a while!

Remember do not despair as you have not failed until you quit trying and always remember to put your trust in Allah as Allah states in the Quran: “And in Allah (Alone) let the believers put their trust” 14:11

 

Aisha Afia

Asalamu Alaikum, My name is Aisha Afia, I am 18 years old, from London. I’m actually bi racial (Ghanaian and British), but both my parents grew up in London. I lived in Jeddah for eight years and have now been in Riyadh for over eight years too. So I can genuinely say that Saudi Arabia feels like my home! Funny enough.
I hope to inspire, motivate, and help people through any problems or issues they are facing, insha’Allah together we can help to establish a great future for the Muslim Youth. And it is important to know you are not alone, as Muslims we are all one big family and are here to help and support each other through good and bad. May Allah bless us all, Ameen. ❤