TheRamadhanBaby #18- Get Busy with Dhikr

The tongue , like many gifts we have been given can be utilized in different ways. It can  spring forth words of kindness or hate, truth or lies, eloquence or vulgarity, unity or discord.

But there is a great way to keep this piece of flesh busy and productive – with Dhikr
Constant remembrance of Allah brings calm, serenity and tranquility. By it, we make prudent use of that fleeting yet scarce resource -our ‘free’ time. 

We should therefore step up our frequency of uttering words and phrases of praise, glorification and acknowledgement of Allah’s greatness. Perhaps the commonest examples are:
Tasbih– SubhanAllah (Glory be to Allah)

Tahmid– Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah)

Tahlil– La ilaha ila llah (There is no deity worthy of worship besides Allah)

Takbir– Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)

(*Did you know?-  Tahlil can be said without moving the lips making it easy to say even in times of weakness, fear and other difficult situations.)
There are numerous others to be found in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
 “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”  (Q13:28)

“O you who believe! let not your properties or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. (Q63:9)
Narrated  Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him): ‘The Prophet(peace be upon him  said, “The example of the one who remembers his Lord in comparison to the one who does not remember his Lord, is that of a living creature compared to a dead one. ” ‘

(Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol 8 Hadith 416)

It is a means of earning forgiveness (imagine? without even asking for it!) as well as purification for our souls.It also increases us in piety and makes us even dearer to our Lord.
 These are more than enough reasons to inculcate Dhikr in every moment possible, everyday.

Reference: The Noble Quran: English Translation of the meanings and commentary – Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. 

TheRamadhanBaby #17: Tarawih

What has come to be known as an important hallmark of this month is the prayers said after Isha. Then , we see people staying back in Masjids after a long day of fast when all the body yearns for is rest. 

It is another opportunity to offer several extra units of prayer. Many Imams complete the Quran recitation during Tarawih through the month. In it is togetherness, seeking to be closer to Allah, and listening to the glorious recitation. Though it is mostly performed in congregation, it can also be done individually. (Al-Nawawi in Al Majmoo’ 4/31).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to pray eleven rakat as narrated in the Hadith of Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abdur-Rahman . (Sahih Al-Bukhari 1909, Sahih Muslim 738). 

Many of the pious predecessors  including the four Imams however prayed twenty units of prayer. (An-Nawawi in Al-Majmoo’ 4/31).

This  should not be a cause of division as both views are acceptable due to it being a voluntary prayer with the number of units not specified.

 It may be challenging for those who work full time in Ramadhan but it is worth it. Regarded as part of the enjoined voluntary (Sunnah) units of prayer to be offered at night, in it is great reward. Praying it involves upholding the Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

To make the best of this prayer, try not to eat too much after Maghrib so you don’t feel too tired. Also, strive to listen to the recitiation and appreciate ita beauty and meaning. It is not uncommon to see many faithfuls crying during this prayer . Such is the moving effect it has on them.

For the remaining nights in this month, try not to miss any and make it better not because it is compulsory but because of the many benefits.

Reference : http://www.islamqa.info 

TheRamadhanBaby #16- The Night Prayer

All through this month, we try to offer more Nawafil (voluntary prayers) at night. We do this with the firm belief and hope to draw closer to the Entity central to our being- Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Even if we only get to squeeze two units of  this prayer before Sahur  , we are very happy.. If we wake up late and can hardly get a bite before the Adhan is called, we feel dejected throughout the day.

Because we know that calling upon Our Creator in the last part of the night when sleep is dearest to our bodies is a sacrifice appreciated by Him, we are assured that our requests would be answered. In addition,it is a means to attaining a station of praise and glory. (Q17:79)

“They (the believers) forsake their beds, to invoke their Lord in fear and hope; and they spend (in charity in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have bestowed on them.” (Q32:16)

It is a great thing to get up and seek Allah’s Bounty while others sleep or commit nefarious acts.

Every night in the last third, Our Lord, the Superior. the Blessed descends to the lowest heavens and says, 

“Is there anyone to invoke me so that I may respond to his invocation? Is there anyone to ask me  so that I may grant his request? Is there anyone asking My forgiveness so that I may forgive him?” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 7494)

How amazing is He?!

What happens outside Ramadhan? We abandon this opportunity. Many evidences state that the blessings inherent are available EVERY night.  Think of your greatest wish

Now imagine you could get it every night. Would you sleep at all for the entire night? Indeed what regular Tahajjud gives you is better. 

Take it upon yourself to say Tahajjud More, even if it is two Rakat for those little bit constant deeds are beloved to your Lord.

TheRamadhanBaby 14: Cradle to Grave

Civilizations throughout history have flourished on knowledge. Today, countries regarded as developed in which there are better prospects for citizens are those who place high value on knowledge and thus enjoy advancement.
The first revealed verses were a command to read, with references to teaching, writing and the pen (Q96:1-5). This and many other verses talk about books, and Him being the source of all knowledge thus showing the great importance of knowledge. The Prophet always had scribes to record revelations, his narrations, political affairs and various treaties and agreements.

The companions and those who came after them spent their lives constantly gaining knowledge, with much sacrifice and going through great lengths of time and distance to do so. Gender and age were no barriers. It is how we have the Qur’an in written form, collections of Hadith and treatises on many other areas like medicine, genealogy, politics, algebra, astronomy, commerce, and other sciences and arts. Much of this is still relevant today. Try doing some research on the first university in the world, Al- Jabr, Al- Khawarzmi, the libraries of Baghdad and Damascus centuries ago. It is saddening how we have trivialized and even destroyed our own heritage.

It is not something to be slack about. We should not live our lives content with what we learnt as children or worse, the knowledge of our ancestors. We also need to stop giving excuses as the early Muslims had greater challenges. It is a lifelong duty.

We must always seek answers to our problems and learn more about our religion. Through that can we truly make our existence on earth a worthwhile one and be of benefit to others whether they share our beliefs or not. For it is a lack of correct knowledge that would make a person destroy innocent lives ostensibly to defend Allah, His Prophet and the religion. What they achieve instead is harming everyone regardless of creed.

Learn the aspects of Iman, how to perform Salah as the Prophet(peace be upon him) said, “Pray as you have seen me pray.” Learn the conditions of fasting, Zakat and Hajj. Learn about family life in Islam, treatment of relatives, neighbours, men , women and children. Learn the Qur’an, Hadith, stories of the Prophets. For we would find nought in this except goodness.

Learn whatever skills you have a flair for, are good at or are interested in and seek to be the best at it. Support and carry out research. Use this knowledge to benefit humanity. Just think where we would be in the absence of vaccines, aeroplanes, cars , trains, satellites, the Internet and countless other aspects of the modern world we take for granted.

If we do not know, we can not teach. The best thing we leave after we die is our body of knowledge.

TheRamadhanBaby 13: Our Future

There is one part of us often ignored. We mistake their innocence for lack of wisdom instead of looking at them through lens that see their potential. We carry on as if eve got other people to hand over our Deen to? Who would bury us, take care of us in old age and continue our legacy? Our children!

Let this be a call to include them. When we organize lectures, we could make sure there is a section for them not only to play but learn what is being taught in a way they can understand. Let’s inculcate our morals and values in them. Have them know what this world entails and teach them so they can take the right path, have great judgement and make good decisions.

Can we achieve all this without being kind? Definitely not.
“ He is not of us , one who does not show mercy to the children and the old”- Hadith
First we must understand they are a gift from Allah (Q42:49). We have also been enjoined to care, safeguard the property of and raise for those of them who have no one to do so. Q17:34
For they are our future, the Imams, judges, mothers, teachers, doctors, nurses and all important components of our Ummah tomorrow.

TheRamadhanBaby 12: Forgiveness

Irrespective of our standing before Allah, we all are in need of His forgiveness. We were given freewill but are more inclined to follow our desires and therefore go against the commands of Our Lord. It takes extra effort to do good for oneself and towards others. It’s our nature. Allah, The All-Knowing, long before our existence provided an opportunity for nus to constantly free ourselves from the burden of sin. He tells us many times that He is Oft –Forgiving (Q42:5).He is the Forgiver, Hider of faults and Forgiving. This should be in conjunction with avoiding the major sins (Q42:37).

A believer should never stop seeking forgiveness. Our dear Prophet used to say Istighfar so much that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) wondered why as he had been forgiven of all his sin. He said to her, “ Would I not be a grateful servant?.
Also, we realize that seeking forgiveness does not make sense if we do not forgive others. We are thus enjoined to do so. (Q7:199, 42:40)

In admitting our shortcomings and going towards Him with sincere remorse and repentance, we acknowledge His power over us and give our souls that freedom they so badly need. We increase our scale of good, open the doors to blessings and abundant provision. Our world today is a one in which sin is glorified and it seems doing the right thing brings little reward. This is more reason for us to ask him to forgive us, our family, friends and the Ummah in general. It is a reminder for us to turn a new leaf and become more pious people.

TheRamadhanBaby #11- Bent Ribs

There is an elephant in the room we need to talk about. Our treatment of women. Yes,our.

We all have something to do in improving the lives of women. Men get called out for ill treatment (not nearly as frequently as they should) but we often ignore the roles some women play in entrenching this scourge.

Since this is a big issue that is ongoing, let’s restrict this post to particular problems associated with Ramadhan.

When you single out daughters and sisters for all the housework and forget that they are fasting too, you are not being a good Muslim. Especially for some households where women  must work so the family can survive. The Prophet(peace be upon him) enjoined us to make life easy for others and not difficult. 
Many female relatives already take it as their roles without question to serve their family and generally manage the home. Most times, this is a thankless task. More acutely felt when these same chores are well paid for and much more appreciated when they are sourced commercially or come from others outside the home.
Please don’t treat your wives and other women in your family like slaves. Infact, in the 7th century when slavery was widespread in almost every land on earth,our Prophet (peace be upon him) led by example and treated them with kindness and fairness and made manumission(setting free) an act of Ibaadah. Many former slaves went on to take on great roles in Islamic history. A notable one we are familiar with is the first muadhin-  Abyssinian companion Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him). “Even if you dislike her, be good to her”

Imagine how some men treat their womenfolk. You shout at them because Iftar is not ready, you pressure them to make feasts and do not care to get them help.
Say dhikr with her. Recall the hadithwhere the Prophet taught his daughter words of temembrance ehrn she came To ask him for a servant to ease her  strain. Tell her nice words of encouragement and appreciation and please do not complain when she has gone to great lengths to get things done. Give her excuses e.g she couldn’t taste it as she is fasting too.
Let us stop demanding for perfection from only one half of our society. Boys and girls should be taught to be so good at their different but equally important roles so they grow up to become men and women that complement each other.
Don’t you think she would like to break her fast on time too?  Some husbands would not release housekeeping funds on time or plan ahead with whatever income they have. Why not make things easier? Plan together. Allah has made you a leader not a tyrant. Be just and you would get that respect,love and appreciation easily. Communicate with them. Discuss ways to improve on the faults you may have noticed without being vindictive. Don’t allow them miss Salah because they are serving you. Even in heated situations try and be the mature one. When it’s all settled, this is the person that shines.
The Prophet used to wake his family for Tahajjud. Nowadays we wake our family to cook elaborate Sahurs and have them jostle to get a bite and meet Fajr by the hairs. Make it easier for them to partake in Tarawih, Quran recitation etc. Ramadhan is already a very difficult time for many women. Don’t be a burden.
To my sisters in Iman, keep going strong. Don’t stop learning new and effective ways to conserve time, energy and other resources. As you juggle Ibaadah, work, school, illness, travel,childbirth, periods, caring for the children, sick relatives, old parents, neighbours,  etc this special month, may Allah ease your affairs. 
Let’s help each other achieve goodness in this world and be partners in Jannah. 

TheRamadhanBaby #10 – Power of Dua

Oft-overlooked, this is an essential part of a Muslim’s life. Our Lord is the Sustainer,Cherisher and Provider of all that exists. If He were to give us all the biggest bounty we can think of, it would not reduce His Wealth by a drop. Why then do we miss opportunities to ask?

Remember all those things we thanked Him for? Ask him to keep replenishing them. And those things we are to be patient upon? Ask that He changes the tide. 

Invocation is the weapon of the believer. With it, you can conquer all and can effect the most change. (Don’t be like the misguided ones who kill innocents for whatever reason)

“Invoke Me (and ask Me for anything) and I will respond ( to your invocation)” Q40:60

Be relentless. Make dua in hardship and ease, in sincerity, for good only, in humility, with His Beautiful Names and exalted Attributes.

Make dua not just when you break your fast, after Asr, in sujood, when its raining, when in difficulty, when you are oppressed, when you are sick, when you are traveling, that special hour on Fridays but in essence, everytime and every situation!

 Make dua for your parents , children, relatives, friends, enemies, strangers. It is the best gift you can give a loved one.

Make dua for all experiencing pain and suffering right now. Make dua for  our  world. Ask Him to protect the planet from all who seek to destroy it. Ask Him to place your departed loved ones in Jannah and for you to be reunited with them in bliss.

Back it up with strong  Iman and Tawakkul, good deeds and character. When you make dua, you either get an answer immefiately or delayed (both at His perfect time) or get an evil prevented. (Sahih At-Tirmidhi 3/140)

He alone should we beseech for help.(Q1:5)

TheRamadhanBaby #9 -Recite! Reflect! Share!

Every corner you turn, you would find people peering closely and reciting from a book in their hands or on their devices. The love of the Qur’an is heightened during this period.
It is after all the month in which it was revealed (Q2:185).

It is a means of drawing closer to Allah. Studying its meaning with authentic tafsirs increases your understanding of the religion.
Whether you plan to finish it once or ten times, let your recitation, memorization and studying be consistent. It may be a Juz (one thirtieth) a day or more or less, put in some work everyday. No matter what you achieve , strive to make it a part of your everyday life.

It is a miracle, a guidance and mercy (Q7:203,16:64,31:3)an absolute truth with certainty (Q69:51,32:3,35:31) a clear book which has been preserved for centuries by Allah who sent it down (Q56:77,78) . It is an holy book, which has been kept in honour and purity(Q80:13-16). It is a warning(Q50:45), it is to be reflected upon (47:24), it is mentioned in itself over 300 times.

Huge resources are currently dedicated to its printing and distribution globally in the same unique form with no changes or different editions. A scripture which millions have memorized such that if all the printed copies on the planet were to be lost, it would be reproduced from the hearts in which it has been engraved without a single letter out of place.

Pick up your copy today. Donate it to mosques, hospitals,prisons, schools and various other institutions. Design apps based on it, help more people gain access to it.

Recite it even if you are not perfect yet. You still get a reward for trying. If you can’t read Arabic yet, register for a class now. Ma sha Allah the means to this have become easy with technology. Read the transliteration in the mean time with the aim of gaining proficiency soon.

You know how you are not satisfied with reading and arithmetic but want to get that secondary school certificate, and even a university degree or even postgraduate? Show the same yearning for studying the Quran and other aspects of your Deen and see your life become richer and make your Akhirah a better investment.

TheRamadhanBaby #7- Shukr

While making Sahur today, i sustained a scalding accident on a small part of my hand. I put it in water then on ice. After several hours it felt better. But before then, it burned anytime i tried to do normal things with my hands like place them on top of each other in Salah, washing with soap, when the spicy stew touched it, using that hand as support to get up. Literally anything that touched it made it hurt. The total area affected was a few squared centimeters 

This made me realize we do not appreciate our bodies enough. We take a lot for granted and are only reminded of the importance of every minute part when we get hurt.
We always ask. We never stop. We want more and more but how many of Allah’s blessings do we actually give thanks for?
Thank Him for life, for being on this Deen and witnessing this month.

Thank Him for your job, your family, your freedom.

Thank Him for your academic success, safety and good health.

Thank Him for being there for you even when you lose faith.

Thank Him for not punishing you for all the sins you commit.

Thank Him for making you among the followers of His Prophet.

There are too many things for us to appreciate that we aren’t. 

Take time out today to always say Alhamdulillah for His Favors first before asking or complaining
“If you give thanks, I will give you more.”

Surat Ibrahim Q14:7

“Which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?”

Surat Ar-Rahman Q55