The Last Ten Days of Ramadan


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

By Moona Ali

In sha Allah, we are very soon approaching the magnificent last ten days of Ramadan. These days are more beloved to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) than any other days of the year, propelling us to action so that we can gain multiple rewards.

We humans are weak. We are constantly in need of peace, security, nafsan mutma’innah (a satisfied soul), and qalb saleem (a sound heart). We cannot miss this opportunity of finding Laylat-ul-Qadr, where all the affairs are decreed for the coming year, duas (requests to Allah) are accepted, and even the angels come into action, descending on the earth to carry out their duties.

Preparing for this one night of worshipping Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ), which is equivalent to life-long ibadah (worship), needs a headstart.

Most of the food we have prepared in advance, our groceries stacked, so we are free from all the routine activities as we prepare to cut ourselves off from worldly involvement and concentrate on making Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) the exclusive focus. It is a relationship we have to consciously build, just like Maryam (عليهِا سلام) did, through which she earned a special status, the miracle of motherhood to a prophet, the title of a lady of Jannah, and a surah named after her. Maryam (عليهِا سلام) is also called Batool. The root word of this word means the one who cuts herself off, or separates herself from, everything of this dunya, and connects to her Rabb. And this is what she did when she committed herself to the temple.

I’tikaf is the best ibadah that one can do during the last ten days of Ramadan. The Prophet(صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم)practiced it every year during his lifetime, in Ramadan. This is the sunnah i’tikaf which is done at the masjid. If one can’t afford to dedicate ten days, than they can do as many days or hours as they want, or even between two prayers like Zuhr to Asr or Asr to Maghrib, at their own home. This is a nafli (voluntary) i’tikaf.

What one can do in I’tikaf

Taraweeh

Taraweeh can be done while holding the Qur’an in the hand and reciting from it.

– In between, breaks can be taken to read the translation of what has just been recited.

– One can rest or take short naps to refresh oneself for tahajjud.

Other tips

– Long sajdah and rukuh to humble oneself and make personal duas

– After suhoor and Fajr prayer, one can just concentrate on the recitation of the Qur’an.

–  After 4 rak’at of praying Ishraq, one can sleep. Ishraq prayer is 15-20 minutes after sunrise.

–  Sitting and remembering Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) after Fajr prayer, till the Ishraq prayer, has a reward like that of hajj and umrah.

In the day time, one can:

– Read lots of different tafsir books

– Listen to religious lectures 

– Read different books on iman, taqwa, how to do da’wah, etc. There is a whole spectrum of that.

Dhikr

Many words are heavy on the scale, like:

– SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi, SubhanAllah-il-‘Azeem

– Alhamdulillah

– Allahu Akbar

– Astaghfirullah

– La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.

These tasbeehs should be done in abundance.

Also, one must not forget Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى ) Names & Attributes. Takbeerat, His Hamd, His glorification – all should be distributed throughout the day.

Even kids of different ages can be trained to have this quiet time, so they can absorb everything early in their childhood. In sha Allah, years later, this will equip them to reflect on their lifestyles and habits and make the necessary changes on what needs to be removed from themselves and their lives.

When doing tasbeeh, teach the kids the meanings of the different Attributes of Allah(سبحانه وتعالى ). Like Al-Haleem (The Forbearing)’ can be applied when the siblings are disputing and arguing. ‘Al-Karim (The Generous)’ can be applied when the kids are not sharing.  ‘Al-Mu’eed’ (the One Who can restore you back from sicknesses to shifa) when they are unwell.

Instill in children these concepts, while they are re-enacting what their parents are doing in I’tikaf. 

The subject of Istighfar (seeking forgiveness) is that which concerns all of us, as we want to purify ourselves from sins that may have angered Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).

وَاللّهُ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتُوبَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَيُرِيدُ الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الشَّهَوَاتِ أَن تَمِيلُواْ مَيْلاً عَظِيمًا 27
28 يُرِيدُ اللّهُ أَن يُخَفِّفَ عَنكُمْ وَخُلِقَ الإِنسَانُ ضَعِيفًا

“Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation. And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.”

   [Al-Qur’an: Surah An-Nisa (The Women) 4: 27-28]

How does Allah(سبحانه وتعالى ) lighten our difficulties, our burdens of sin? When we do taubah.

In another ayah, notice the importance given to Istighfar:

سَابِقُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا كَعَرْضِ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ أُعِدَّتْ لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ذَلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَن يَشَاء وَاللَّهُ ذُو الْفَضْلِ الْعَظِيمِ

 

“Race toward forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His messengers. That is the bounty of Allah which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor of great bounty.”

[Al-Qur’an: Surah Al-Hadeed 57: 21]

A beautiful and motivating hadeeth one can easily implement is this:

“The Messenger of Allah(صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said: ‘Whoever says morning and evening, Subhan Allaah wa bihamdih (Glory and praise be to Allah) one hundred times, no one will come on the Day of Resurrection with anything better than him, except for one who said the same as he said, or who said more.’”[Muslim]

One can also learn or read the ‘sayyid-ul-istighfar’, which is the most superior way of asking forgiveness.

Lastly,one should also read the beautiful dua,which we have been taught to read on laylat–ul -Qadr.Laylat-Ul-QadrNight-of-Blessings.jpg

 

 

Posted in Monthly Special, Qur'an | 1 Comment

Welcoming Ramadan


         بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Talk Delivered by Aneela Jameel
Written by Romana Sharjeel
Edited by Hiba Khan & Maha Amin

ramdan kareem

 

Most of us are well-aware of the virtues of Ramadan, as we hear about them year after year. One point that is not emphasized enough, though, is that this is the month in which many people will be freed from the Hellfire. People who had already been ‘written’ to enter the Hellfire, are freed from it this month, when they sincerely repent to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) and do acts that please Him. Hence they do not enter the Hellfire in the Hereafter. Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) guides them to do the necessary good deeds before they die, so that they can earn Jannah (Paradise) instead.

If we realize the importance of this month, then only we can prepare for it. In the same manner that a wedding in the family is prepared for months in advance, preparation for this blessed month should start early, too. The companions of the Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) used to start preparing for Ramadan six months in advance. We generally start preparing only after the sighting of the Ramadan moon! What a comparison!

If we want to get the most out of this month, then we need to know how to prepare for it. We need to prioritize our Akhirah (Hereafter), and need to work on getting the dunya (worldly life) out of our minds and out of our hearts.

For this, we need to think deeply about what we want from life. Do we want a good education, or a happy marriage? Or a big house? These things are important parts of life, but they should not become our only purpose or focus. They should be the means to the end; not the end itself.

We cry when our child does not get admission in our school of choice. We get upset when our loved one does not get promoted at work. But do we ever cry because of missing a prayer? Or because our child did not wake up for Fajr? Most of us do not, because we prefer the dunya (worldly life) over our deen (Islamic way of life). We are content in accomplishing only the bare minimum in our religion, but when it comes down to our worldly affairs, we want the best of the best!

For instance, if we go to an all-you-can-eat buffet, we are not satisfied until we have eaten as much as we possibly can. But when we pray, we are satisfied after merely reading our fard (obligatory prayer). We seldom feel troubled when leaving our sunnah (additional prayer).

Before the month of Ramadan starts, we need to start winding down our worldly affairs: Our routine should consist of only the tasks that are absolutely necessary. Everything that takes us away from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )  should be avoided at all costs. Our focus should be on building a stronger and closer relationship with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).

Salah (Prayer)

Our five daily prayers are our special link with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). They are a means by which we cut ourselves off from the world five times a day, to focus solely on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). They remind us that this world is temporary, and indeed we will return to Him. The purpose of Ramadan, as stated in Surah Al Baqarah in the Qur’an, is to develop taqwa (God-consciousness).

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”
[Al-Qur’an: Al-Baqarah(The cow):183]

The prayer in which you remember Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) sincerely is the one which opens your heart and increases you in taqwa. Therefore, improving our prayers would be a good way to prepare for Ramadan. Understand the words you recite in the Qur’an. Increase your understanding of the surahs (chapters) you read in your prayers. Memorize some new surahs to recite in your prayers, as this will improve the quality of your prayers.

When you take away another person’s rights or dues in this world, your prayers will be affected. If you take away Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى )right – which is your full focus and attention in prayer – then how can you expect such a prayer to benefit you? Start practicing before Ramadan on how to concentrate only on Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) in your prayers. Continue this in Ramadan. Practice ridding your mind of all other thoughts while praying. Leave the world behind five times a day.

Zikr (Remembrance of Allah)

Make a list before Ramadan of all the small steps you can take to increase your remembrance of Allah. This will be your taqwa. Increase your dhikr of Allah, so that by the time Ramadan comes, it is a habit. Inculcate different adhkaar (words of remembrance of Allah) in your life such as ‘La ilaha illAllah Muhammadur rasoolullah’, ‘SubhanAllahi wa bi hamdihi’, and ‘Astaghfirullah’.

The Messenger of Allah (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said, “I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”[Al-Bukhari].

Dua (Supplication)

Make a list of all the duas you want accepted by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). Do not ask for only dunya; ask for the best akhlaq (manners), ask for humility, ask for the blessing of praying tahajjud (night prayer), ask for being dependent on none other than Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).

Shukar (Gratefulness)

Change your attitude in life by focusing on having only positive thoughts. Learn to be grateful for all the blessings in your life and around you. Stop complaining. Realize that even the things we do not like can often be a hidden blessing from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).

Amal (Action)

Work on implementing the things in your life which are a part of our deen, but are not yet a part of your amal.
Pray to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) to guide you and help you towards having the best Ramadan you have ever experienced!

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How has the Quran changed me?


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

By Lyeba

How has the Qur’an changed me?

Well this is a tough question! I think I have transformed into a much better human being, in the past 5 months than the past several years. Qur’an has brought out the good in me and removed confusion and fear of this Dunya (world). Now I fully realise the things that I would just be uttering before, without understanding. I have become grateful for the blessings I would often feel insecure about, and my desire to use these to please Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )  has increased, instilling a renewed confidence in me. I have become quite grateful even for the difficult times; not that I enjoy them but I appreciate the after-effect. Quran has helped me break the shell that often forms over my heart. This allows me to connect with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) directly.

Holding onto the Qur’an does not mean you will be the happiest person in the world but it means that even at the lowest of times you will at the very least be patient, content and hopeful for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )’s Mercy. It keeps you afloat, doesn’t let you drown in self-pity and guides you through hard times. As the Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said,
 
 “Indeed this Qur’an is a rope one end of it is in the Hand of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) and the other end is in your hands. So hold firmly to it that you would never go astray and never be destroyed.”
 
 
Surah Al-e-Imran, verse 103 Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) says,
 

وَاعْتَصِمُواْ بِحَبْلِ اللّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلاَ تَفَرَّقُواْ


 
“…hold firmly to the Rope of Allah altogether and do not become divided….”
 
 
I have come to the realisation that the friendships you make in the way of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )  are better than any other kind of friendship.
 
 

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ وَأَنبَتَهَا نَبَاتًا حَسَنًا وَكَفَّلَهَا زَكَرِيَّا كُلَّمَا دَخَلَ عَلَيْهَا زَكَرِيَّا الْمِحْرَابَ وَجَدَ عِندَهَا رِزْقاً قَالَ يَا مَرْيَمُ أَنَّى لَكِ هَـذَا قَالَتْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ إنَّ اللّهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاء بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Maryam, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”  [Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-e-Imran: 37]
 
 
I gained many supporters, friends and role models through learning the Qur’an, including those not even my contemporaries. I especially connected with Maryam (عليها السلام) as a role model, and learnt that Imaan (faith) is such a strong and valuable thing that it can cross even a distance of several thousand years.
 

اللّهُ لاَ  إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْحَيُّ الْقَيُّومُ لاَ تَأْخُذُهُ سِنَةٌ وَلاَ نَوْمٌ لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ مَن ذَا الَّذِي يَشْفَعُ عِنْدَهُ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ يَعْلَمُ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمَا خَلْفَهُمْ وَلاَ يُحِيطُونَ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنْ عِلْمِهِ إِلاَّ بِمَا شَاء وَسِعَ كُرْسِيُّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضَ وَلاَ يَؤُودُهُ حِفْظُهُمَا وَهُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْعَظِيمُ

“Allah – there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.” [Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 255]
 
 
Through Ayaat ul Kursi I realised the extent of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى )  who put things into a better perspective for me. I wanted a best friend since childhood, someone I could trust fully; but no one quite lived up to my expectations. During this journey of learning the Qur’an, I realized that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) is that best friend and I if I want to talk to Him regularly in the Hereafter, then I must make Him my best friend in this life. No human can fit that criterion of a perfect friend.
 
 
I often enjoy being alone but there are always moments where you wish you were with someone. Knowing Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) is always there, gaining this realisation of Him as a friend, solved this problem completely. I prefer no one else’s company. I still have a very long way to go, and a lot to improve, but I have strengthened hope now that I will get closer and closer to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )Insha’Allah.
 
 
I have stopped worrying about this dunya (world) as much as I used to. I can just taste Jannah (Paradise) to the point where I sometimes want death to come, but then I get worried about whether I have pleased Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) yet.
 
 
change

And I often think about how I could have been somewhere else right now, missing out on all this knowledge, not learning the kalam (word) of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ). I could have been completely misled. Alhamdulillah that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) guided me to the Qur’an and may He continue to guide us all, Ameen!

 

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Delightful Little Finely Packaged Seeds!


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

By: Mariam Wasti

وَهُوَ الَّذِيَ أَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاء مَاء فَأَخْرَجْنَا بِهِ نَبَاتَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ فَأَخْرَجْنَا مِنْهُ خَضِرًا نُّخْرِجُ مِنْهُ حَبًّا مُّتَرَاكِبًا وَمِنَ النَّخْلِ مِن طَلْعِهَا قِنْوَانٌ دَانِيَةٌ وَجَنَّاتٍ مِّنْ أَعْنَابٍ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُشْتَبِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ انظُرُواْ إِلِى ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَيَنْعِهِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكُمْ لآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ

“And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.” [Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-‘An’ām (The Cattle): 99]

It happened to be a long weekend and on Friday the children were home in the morning so we decided to ‘explore’ some fruit before Jumu’ah prayers.

Alhamdulillah, for every flower, fruit, leaf and every seed on every plant that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) has ever created or intends to create. Allahu Akbar! It was like we had discovered a new place to visit! SubhaanAllah! Delight! Eating fruit became an activity full of excitement, color, discovery and gratitude towards the One Being, Our Creator who arranged it all not just for us but for the benefit of so many other creatures! pomo1Outside is the harder casing, smooth and a subtle, dull shade of pink. The shape so inviting that you are encouraged to explore the contents. Once you cut the outer casing and get inside there is the beautiful arrangement of ruby red glistening ‘gem-like’ seeds arranged side by side… the delightful, finely packaged pomegranate seeds. These groups are hidden behind curtains of white protective layers clustered together closely. Each one distinct yet united for a common purpose. When the curtains are removed and the seeds fall into you hands, just feeling them and rolling them in your palms is itself a source of delight – almost therapeutic! Then, once they enter your mouth initially you are able to feel the soft, smooth outer texture of the seeds and then when you squeeze them even slightly between your tongue and palate the burst of sweet juice is so exciting- refreshing!

الحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنِي هَذَا وَرَزَقَنِيْهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ حَوْل ٍ مِنِّي وَلا قُوَّة

Alhumdu lil laahil-lathee ‘at`amanee haatha, wa razaqaneehi, min ghairi haulimmin-ni wala Quw’wah
(Praise be to Allah Who has fed me with this food and provided me without any effort or power on my part)

pomos2

SubhaanAllah! It is amazing how this much beauty, nutrition, taste and joy exists within this one encasement that hangs on a tree under the sun for many days before being explored. Protected, cared for and at the same time showing full servitude towards its Creator doing what is required of it. It is as if these packages of delight are a celebration of that submission of a single seed that was buried in the ground many years ago, stayed unnoticed and undiscovered for so long yet was well-known by Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), Our Creator. When it was time, He alone enabled that little seed to germinate, then the sprout crept out of the soil, then through different seasons it endured ‘change’ and grew into a tree with many leaves and fruit; that process of growth so lengthy and a result of the collaboration of so many different resources and factors that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) arranged!

فَالِقُ الإِصْبَاحِ وَجَعَلَ اللَّيْلَ سَكَنًا وَالشَّمْسَ  وَالْقَمَرَ حُسْبَانًا ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ

“[He is] the cleaver of daybreak and has made the night for rest and the sun and moon for calculation. That is the determination of the Exalted in Might, the Knowing.”

 [Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-‘An’ām (The Cattle): 96]

It all started with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )’s decision to place that one seed in that one spot… and then so much Khair sprouts forth from it! Through this so many signs for all of us!

Can we ever thank Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) enough for the countless blessings He sends our way despite our many shortcomings?

وَكَأَيِّن مِّن آيَةٍ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ  يَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهَا وَهُمْ عَنْهَا مُعْرِضُونَ

“And how many a sign within the heavens and earth do they pass over while they, therefrom, are turning away.” [Al-Qur’an – Surah Yusuf: 105]

The spontaneous and most befitting response from any loyal slave to the One Most Merciful Master can only be:

  سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا غُفْرَانَكَ رَبَّنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

“We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.”  [Al-Qur’an –Surah Al-Baqarah(The Cow): 285]

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