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Ramadan Challenge: Why Start With Bismillah?

By Fatima Asad

Do you take “Bismillah” for granted? You are not alone if you do. There are many types of Bismillahs that we say throughout the day.  The kind you say before eating or drinking.  Then there’s the kind you say before reading the Quran or at the start of wudu.  Then there’s the one you read with sincere passion at the beginning of the dreaded Chemistry exam.  Oh don’t forget the Bismillah that escapes your lips when you trip on your shoe laces.  Most of us can trace back the origin of our Bismillahs to a Qari sahab, a dedicated auntie at Sunday school or our kindergarten teacher who taught us “Before we eat, we must say Bismillah, Bismillah!” (Tune stuck in my head now)

If you do take most of your Bismillahs for granted, please don’t. Saying the blessed phrase has become second nature- like riding a bike.  However, we need to refresh its meaning and renew our commitment to it from time to time.

I, for one, am always greedy to turn a “normal” act of life into an act of worship.  This is the power of Bismillah.  It’s the wonder that turns any act you do into an act of worship.  But it doesn’t stop there.

When you consciously say “In the Name of Allah” you are forcing yourself to go through a quick self-check.  These are the few seconds in which you undergo an intention change.  What you might have been intending to do for another reason (such as making your mom happy), you just ultra-purified your intention by reminding yourself that everything I do is first for Allah, then for someone else i.e. mom.


This is the beauty and power of Bismillah. It is a powerful spell. I use the word spell here on purpose because we all have in one point or another wished for a magic wand or Harry Potter-inspired spells that would make life simpler.  Well, we already have these ‘spells’ – for every occasion, actually- known as du’as.  Yes, I said it.  But please don’t get a wand or turn your black abaya into Hermoine’s witch robes and start waving the wand while reading the dua before drinking mango lassi, hoping the calories won’t attack the wrong places.  That would be sad. Not to mention utterly not Halal.

The reason I label these duas as “spells” is only to show you that they are powerful! We are instructed to read them for a reason.  That reason is to get that extra help from Allah SWT on a regular basis because we as humans are helpless without His aid- even when you don’t read these duas for various occasions, Allah SWT continues to help you.  Imagine the help we will get when we actually ask for it.

So back to Bismillah…Start reading it with high alert.  Make sure you turn as many seconds of your daily routine into worship as possible.  That includes waking up, sleeping, eating, taking a shower, going to school, doing chores, baking a cake for your best friend, wrapping Eid gifts, swimming, etc. Do you notice something with this list? I didn’t write things like stalking people on Facebook, chatting on Whatsapp non-stop, watching 3 hours of cricket, calling your girlfriend/boyfriend, visiting your best friend so you can complain about your other best friend, going to a hookah bar, etc.

That’s another power of Bismillah. If you can’t say it comfortably before a certain action you are about to do, it is a strong indication that it will not count as worship. In fact, your gut might confirm that the action is actually a sin.

So listen to your gut.  That’s Allah SWT sending you a red signal. Just say Bismillah before anything and everything you do.  Try it for 3 days and you will have undergone some serious self-evaluation without ever going to a therapist or writing in a journal.



Ramadan Challenge: Gratitude to the One!

By Abdul Rehman Raza

The One who is most worthy of our gratitude, more than anyone else, is Allah, our Lord! But why should we be grateful to Him anyway?

The basic thing that separates humans from every other living thing is the ability to think and ponder. A rabbit would never sit under a tree, stare at the sky and think why is it blue, why are there clouds or how was it made? The purpose of this post is to make you use this very thinking ability of yours. Think about what? Think about the one who has given you this ability to think! Your Creator! Almighty Allah!

Take a break from life and THINK! The One who made you, made the world for you, made everything around you, gave you the ability to think and ponder, gave you faculties of seeing, hearing, gave you this gadget that you’re using right now to read this article, the ability to read and understand this, the food you eat every single day, the clothes you’re wearing… But this list would keep going on and never end!

Let’s do a short exercise: write down all the things that Allah has blessed you with, everything you can think of. Now think again, did you deserve all this? Could you really pay Allah for this? Obviously not! But Allah still blessed us with all of this and He doesn’t stop, His Mercy is continuously falling on us even at this very moment!

Now comes the golden question, if someone gives you a glass of water, you thank that person, right? Should we not be grateful to the One Who created us and who has given us so much and keeps on giving us every moment of our lives?

Indeed, we should be! In fact, being grateful to Allah is a very important part of our faith. Feeling grateful is one thing but there is a practical aspect to being grateful as well.

Being grateful actually means having gratitude in the heart, professing it through the tongue and showing it through actions.

Some points below can help you be grateful to Allah in a practical way:

‘Ibadah, Worship Allah Only

Be His righteous slave, offer your prayers regularly, fast, especially in the month of Ramadan, give in charity, remember Him regularly, read and understand His Book, do what He likes, follow the role model of Prophets (AS) especially our final Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

Hope and Patience in Tough Times

Being grateful in good times is easy, the real test is when we face trials and hardships. A person who is truly grateful, does not become ungrateful even in hard times. He believes that Allah does everything for the person’s own good. Even in hard times, a believer finds something positive, he thanks Allah irrespective of good or bad times.

Be Good To Others

One of the best ways to be grateful to Allah is being good to others around us. Have mercy and love for your fellow human beings as well as other creatures of Allah. We should love others the same way we want others to love us and in order to acquire Allah’s love.

Mention Allah’s Blessing Upon You

Instead of complaining to people, we should tell them about how much has Allah blessed us and praise Him.

“But as for the favour of your Lord, mention [it].”, (Surah Duha, verse 11)


This one verse from the Quran should be enough (though there are many other benefits not being mentioned for brevity’s sake):

“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]”, (Surah Ibrahim, verse 7.)

May Allah make us truly grateful to Him!


Ramadan Challenge: Serve Your Family Happily!

By Fatima Asad

I’m going to be honest here.  The title of this article makes you think that I was the perfect daughter who awaited my Abu’s call for the next cup of tea or happily washed all the dishes before Mama told me to, a few (billion) times.  Now, in the role of a wife and a mother, you might think that I’m an expert model.  Not only do I make the perfect biryani but also wait impatiently for him to come home after work so I can feed him homemade besan ke ladoo. Ah the children…If you think that I have the perfect Pinterest-worthy playroom set up or that my girls are walking around in matching dresses with their perfect little curls wrapped up in perfect satin ribbons, you are too kind…and delusional I might add.

This is the real world! I too am guilty of rolling my eyes when Abu asked for a simple cup of tea.  I am really guilty of asking my husband why are you here early today? “Aj phir jaldi agaye?” Oh and I am seriously guilty of cutting those perfect curls when they get to the point of no de-tangling…did I mention I cut them with kitchen scissors…in the kitchen?  Yes, we all serve our families…but do we do so willingly? With our utmost happiness?

What really turned things around for me was when I learned the difference between compromise and sacrifice.

Compromise is when we have to do an action. Since it’s Ramadan, let’s take the example of fasting. Compromise is opting for the attitude that “Yes, it’s Ramadan, so I have to fast. I don’t really want to- it’s so hot!” Whereas sacrifice is taking the road of “I want to fast so I can get closer to Allah! I want that reward He promised. I want my sins erased.” See the difference? When you are compromising, you lack commitment, satisfaction, and happiness.  On the other hand, when you sacrifice, you are getting the ultimate satisfaction and contentment of the heart. Don’t forget that sacrifice ensures getting rewarded by Allah SWT.

This Ramadan, I decided to change my attitude drastically.  I realize that even though Itumblr_n1lrufW7Jl1tsff15o1_500 am taking care of my family, I might not always see it that way.  The first thing to happily serving your family is to change the way you label yourself.  I am a “Rahmah” (mercy), a responsible, loving daughter – not a spoiled, ungrateful, sassy teen.  I am a team player, co-manager, best friend, partner in crime, personal therapist, an awesome chef, and loving wife– not a nagging, bossy, dishevelled, smells-like-garlic, sobbing, diabetes-causing headache.  I am a nurturer, leader, dress up queen, high-heels sharing storyteller, smells-of-roses-and-jasmine friend, can fix a boo-boo with a simple kiss mother- not a yelling machine, house-obsessed, brand conscious, impatient woman who gave birth and thus should be called mom.

Most of the time, we place negative labels and unneeded burdens on ourselves which lead us to simply serving – without happiness.  Remember, the first thing you need to do is stop overfilling your plate.  Know your limits and do so much.  Don’t go above and beyond on things that don’t matter or will not benefit your family in the long run. For example, if you are intent on making a 5-course meal for iftaar, there is no way you will have any positive energy left to read the kids a bedtime story or two – at least you won’t be doing it with a big smile on your face.

Take care of your family.  Take care of them with all your heart.  When we stop doing so happily, when the simple tasks and duties involving our loved ones become a burden, we need to reexamine our intention- are we doing this simply because we must, or is there a higher purpose in mind?

Doing it for the ultimate purpose of pleasing Allah SWT will not only make it easier but also bring contentment and happiness. And above all every little act then, will be rewarded beautifully inshaAllah!


Ramadan Challenge: It’s Time To Talk!

By Abdul Rehman Raza

In the life of a Muslim, the importance of dawah (calling people towards Allah) cannot be ignored. How can we not call towards the One we believe in and place our trust in? How can we not want others to have the same happiness in their lives? Yet we often avoid doing dawah because it seems tough; telling someone to do good and avoid evil?! Umm…how do I even?!

Well, here’s something to help you! Keep your hesitations and fears aside and go through the following, you’ll be wanting to stop people and talk to them this very minute!

Play the Role of Prophets

We are here in this world for a specific purpose. Many of us go astray. In the past, Allah sent Prophets to remind people again and again, now when there are no more Prophets to come, the duty falls on us. When you give dawah, you are literally playing the role of Prophets. You are among the very few whom Allah has chosen to convey His message. Consider this an honour for yourself. Feel confident, honoured and humbled at the same time.

Talk Something Positive

Mostly when we sit with friends or family, we waste our time talking about useless things. We would discuss movies, sports or at times resort to really bad things like backbiting, insulting. We need to change our habits. We need to use this great opportunity of sitting in a gathering to talk about something positive. A few words on praying, doing zikr, being good and kind to others etc. Calling people to Allah is probably the best thing possible. And how good a gathering would be in which Allah is mentioned.

Save Your Own Self

Not only is doing dawah a responsibility but also if you don’t stop people from doing evil, they’ll only corrupt the world you live in. If you don’t stop others from backbiting or stealing, tomorrow they will backbite about you and steal from you. By doing dawah, you’re not just saving their neck, but your own too!

doing dawah

It is the Quality of the Righteous

Allah says about the righteous people in surah Ale-Imran:

“They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous.” (Surah 3, verse 114)

Doing dawah, calling people to good, forbidding evil becomes a prerequisite to be righteous.

Sharing Good with Others

Whenever we get to know something good, we share it with others. It’s in the human nature. If we find a good restaurant, we would tell everyone around us. Similarly, when we learn something about Allah and His religion, we must share this with people around us. The good part, we get a bonus here, the more we share this great thing, the more it increases.


Keep Trying and Never Give Up

Very often we think that what if I give dawah and no one listens, what if I give dawah and it doesn’t go well, what if people mock me? Such questions do discourage us. However, we need to realise that even the Prophets were mocked, ridiculed and rejected. Take the example of any Prophet, Nuh (AS) or our last Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We must understand that our duty is only to convey the message of Allah and give dawah in the best and wise way possible, that is it. Whether people listen or not, that is not in our hands. Our duty is to put in our best effort, leave the rest to Allah.

So, take this great responsibility today, play the role of Prophets and speak on behalf of Allah. For your own good and for the good of people around you.


Ramadan Challenge: It’s All About Intentions!

By Umm Ibrahim

Yesterday was not a good day. I had started the day with the intention of spending the whole day in worship – reading the Quran and nawafil (non-obligatory prayers) mostly. Yet, I was interrupted ever so often by a demanding husband, a cranky baby, relatives on the phone, never-ending chores and even the plumber! The day ended with me feeling cranky and upset because of all these distractions which had made me miserably fail in developing that connection with Allah that I had so ardently desired.

But today, it hit me that Allah is well-aware of my situation. Doesn’t He just want me to grow where he has planted me? Today, I decided to go with the flow and take the day as it comes but just to remember to do everything I do with the goal of pleasing Him. My goal today was not 20 nawafil or 3 juzz; it was simply to obtain the Pleasure of Allah.

So I sat down calmly to read the Quran and ponder over it to please Allah.

When my husband called me to iron his shirt, I closed the mushaf (Quran) without a frown, realizing that Allah is pleased with the woman who obeys her husband happily. I ironed his shirt with love and care to please Allah.

I resumed my recitation until the baby woke up. I bathed him and changed his diaper and fed him, all the while seeking to please Allah, realizing that this was a responsibility He had placed on me and I would be answerable for it.


When my aunt called while I was busy in my post-Zuhr prayer tasbih (remembrance of Allah), I responded graciously. I sought Allah’s Pleasure in the act of maintaining the ties of kinship, and speaking nicely.

And when the baby woke up from his afternoon nap for the 3rd time, I groggily picked him up and rocked him to sleep. This child would not let me sleep today, it seemed. But my heart was filled with serenity instead of resentment as I sought the Pleasure of Allah in the simple act of loving my baby and being gentle to him. I rocked him to sleep while making dua for his future in this world and the hereafter.

In the evening, when I entered the kitchen, I was not angry for having to miss out on more recitation. Rather, as much as my heart yearned to be in solitude with the Quran, I focused on seeking Allah’s Pleasure by preparing food for my fasting family and feeding them.

At night, my husband had a severe migraine attack and I decided to skip taraweeh prayer in the masjid to be there for him. Though I love every moment of taraweeh prayer, the desire to do what I thought would please Allah more in this situation won.


Finally, when I went to bed, I was seeking to be refreshed for suhoor (meal before dawn), all the while seeking the pleasure of Allah even in sleeping.

Today was a good day alhamdulillah. Today I learnt the difference between doing something just for yourself or other people and doing something purely for the sake of Allah, seeking His Pleasure.

I challenge you to try this out for yourself. Whatever you do today, whether it be a formal act of worship or a seemingly mundane chore, do it with the intention of pleasing Allah. Because without this intention, you risk all your deeds going to waste!

May Allah be pleased with us all.

Chapter 21: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 21: The Waning Dusk (series)


Myth: It’s all Yahudi saazish

Yes, stuff and bother. But Allah is the best of Planners.

With Allah’s help. He helps whomsoever He wills. And He is the Mighty, the Very-Merciful. It is a promise from Allah. Allah does not fail in His promise, but most of the people do not know. (30:5-6)

Will our glorious days repeat themselves?

‘Umar bin Khattab (ra), the first liberator of Jerusalem, says that history does repeat itself. He said that the latter generations of this Ummah would not prevail except by means of that by which the first generations prevailed.

If we try to seek honor through anything other than Islam, Allah will cause us to suffer from humiliation. Earlier generations of Muslims ruled and prevailed by following the Deen. And at the time of decline and during crusades, Salah ad-Deen Ayubi drew the same conclusion– that Islam was the only way to reclaim their glory. And henceforth, he conquered Jerusalem from the crusaders again. And none of it happened overnight.

We see the death toll rising in Gaza and the chaotic, haphazard affairs of the Muslim Ummah. People are calling for immediate and long term solutions while the skeptics smirk meanwhile. It’s amazing how we still manage to squabble, neck-down in a quagmire of problems– suffocating and dying a slow death. Snide comments like, “How many tweets have you all collected for Gaza?” or “What about people dying in your own country?” are thrown at anyone who shares related content online. First off, what kind of a human are you if someone’s concern about organised and funded butchery of your own brethren irks you? Second, let’s not make it a competition about where people are dying more.

Muslims just don’t know what to do in a state of crisis.

The only sane road out of this chaos has already been taken before. Not once, but twice. We need to rebuild ourselves from ground up. It’s not unheard of. It’s a long, strenuous, painstakingly slow process but what Muslim Ummah really needs is a generation of real men and women– not overprotected, impressionable, wannabe sissies awestruck and hypnotized by the Western lyre. Muhammad bin Qasim lead his army when he was 17. If he were from this generation, he wouldn’t even have gotten his driver’s license or considered to be an adult for that matter. And even when it comes to religious obligations (where you’re officially a responsible adult after puberty), we don’t think our 13 year old is man enough to fast or pray regularly. And the negligence continues to the point of damage beyond repair. A domino effect– the result of which we can see everywhere.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the general upbringing to lead ourselves anywhere sensibly let alone command an entire army. And this wisdom, maturity in character and clarity of thought only comes from following the Quran and the Sunnah. ‘Cause it gives you a moral compass. It makes you headstrong enough to decide for yourself where you could best invest your capabilities in. Otherwise, the status-quo is never going to change. It will be blind leading the blind to the ditch we are in now. And instead of climbing back up, we are burrowing further in because that’s where Uncle Sam keeps his gold. Or so he says.

O you who believe, if anyone from you turns back from his Faith, then Allah will bring a people whom He loves and who love Him, humble toward the believers, hard on the disbelievers, who fight in the way of Allah and are not afraid of the reproach of any critic. (5:54)

The promise of Allah will come to pass.  A generation will be borne from the ashes, like a phoenix rising from the flames. Islam will prevail. Though not necessarily through us. Above-mentioned is the class of people who have brought changes before. Yep, that is THE class. And if we don’t qualify, we will be wiped out like the others before us. Insignificant, unremembered, nameless and lost in the dark parts of history.

Still insisting that it’s a yahudi saazish?


Chapter 9: The Waning Dusk (series)


Myth: Atheism is scientific

A couple of months ago, I was  discussing the subconscious mind with a friend- more like arguing with her for argument’s sake.

You might have noticed that something holds you back whenever you decide to leave your comfort zone, or whenever you hesitate to try out something at which you have failed once or that tiny voice in your head that makes you feel guilty… it is the subconscious mind pulling the strings. Virtually capable of storing all that you have ever seen, felt and done before– it even shakes everything up into a kaleidoscope of scenarios you dream about. And much remains an enigma to the scientific world. Why do you have recurring dreams, what’s with the symbology in dreams, why is it that some people develop post traumatic stress disorder, and the questions go on…

What’s interesting here is that we all have our subconscious states hardwired the same way. We mess it up later which is another story altogether, but we are all predisposed to the same thing:

Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

(Recall) when your Lord brought forth their progeny from the loins of the children of ’Adam, and made them testify about themselves (by asking them,) “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Of course, You are. We testify.” (We did so) lest you should say on the Day of Judgment, “We were unaware of this,” (07:172)

We have been created on Fitrah and our souls have already testified to monotheism long before our physical selves existed. It’s called the Covenant of Alast (or Ahd-e-Alast) that all the spirits have pledged to. Allah has given us a natural disposition to submit to Him and the only reason we don’t do it consciously is because we’re too far gone to tap into our inner selves. This is why you must have heard some people saying they feel depressed for no real reason. And a sick sadness engulfs us sometimes too when we sin too much. There’s always a price to pay when you go against the natural order of things.

This particular verse also rejects any notion that suggests Atheism is a rational course and negates the argument that religious beliefs are born from poor education and childhood indoctrination.

In fact, a study done at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind by Dr. Justin Barett suggests that people have a disposition to believe in a supreme being, and that if a handful of children were thrown on an island and they raise themselves, they would still believe in God.

A study on the development of children’s brains by Professor Bruce Hood of Bristol University concludes that we are hardwired to believe in the supernatural and are programmed to feel spirituality by electrical activity in certain areas of the brain.

And this folks, I hope wasn’t too hard to grapple.

Hence, we have Ramadan for spring-cleaning, when we refrain from the bad and the mundane and do not indulge in our general uselessness, so we have more time to reflect on our dormant inner state. Peel away the layers of unrest and set your affairs straight. You will notice a spike in your worship and your imaan heightened. Feeling is similar to formatting your laptop. The hard-drive quietens and you get a performance boost!

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