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Ramadan Challenge: Life Goals

By Mahnoor Arif

This Ramadan started off with a trail of memories from the past as Facebook reminded me that last year, this was a time when I was immersed in countless (a bit exaggerated, though) projects, assignments reports and … My Final Year Project. Yes! I was graduating.

Most of us know the struggle of universities, the toil you have to go through, and the feeling that all those 16 years of your life are closing down upon you now as you make your way through the continuous daily grind but the struggle just doesn’t seem to be getting over. Last Ramadan had been all about this, when the announcement of the moon of Ramadan being sighted didn’t matter because the moon of Final FINAL exams of Engineering had been sighted with it as well. Even when the final exams were over, FYP (final year project) was staring right in our eyes with all its glory ready to consume all the little energies left. Last Ramadan was all about finalizing reports, testing, circuits, presentations, and all you can expect from a graduating engineering student. But it did come with its feeling of accomplishment, the feeling that its finally over after 16 years of stress and mental breakdowns.

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A year ago, it felt like accomplishing a lot. It felt like being successful finally. It was finally a time when I could raise my head high and say that I have made my parents proud by getting a degree in engineering from a prestigious university with amazing grades and you can definitely say that after all those years of getting a formal education.

Little did I know that I will be introduced to a whole new meaning of success later on.

This year, I enrolled myself in a year-long Quran course (that includes explanation of the Quran cover to cover plus many other related subjects) and that was the beginning of an all new phase of my life. Before I got introduced to the true spirit of our religion through Quran, it seemed like life is all good. Whatever little I know is fine. A few lectures here and there, some dawah projects, some classes and all done! But my first class introduced me to life as we never know it. It felt like a blind person getting to see for the first time.

All my life, I had excelled at my studies, learning those formulas, solving those equations with perfection, researching about a particular phenomenon, designing circuits, encoding and decoding but the meaning of one word ‘Al-Aleem’ belittled it all. We casually translate it as The All-Knowing but do we know what that means? He knows whatever is inside you or even whatever is building up inside you, He knows what you show outside and He even knows what your heart desires. He presents the example of a visible mosquito and even knows about the parasite invisible to our eyes that lives on the wing of that mosquito. Our knowledge compared to His is like a drop in an ocean or even lesser than that. What was I proud of?

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The meaning of the word ‘Hikmat’ turned my life upside down as I always thought that I am a person who has done things at the right moment in her life but No! The word opens a new world of good decision making, time management, stress management, family relations and basically putting anything into perspective in your life which made me realize that I have never excelled at all of them simultaneously.

The meaning of ‘Ash-Shaakir’ put me into thought for days because I have never thanked Him enough for all the countless blessings that He has given me and He is rather appreciative of whatever little good that we do. Just let that sink in! He appreciates whatever we do and we haven’t ever been grateful enough.

SubhanAllah! Quran is filled with eye-openers like that where you feel like THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR!! OH MY GOD!! THIS IS ABOUT ME!! It has been less than 30 days and only 2 juz but there has been an immense sea of wisdom in the little that I have studied. And comparison of my previous year and this time of the year leaves me in extreme love for The Lord Who gave me the opportunity not only to study His beautiful Book but to perceive it as well, to understand it and to apply it or at least try to.

Just as I graduated a year ago, I imagine the day when I will be completing all 30 juz and the amazing miracles that will come with it. It will surely be a graduation of its kind where efforts will have been spent understanding root words and their analysis, where throats will be parched practising tajweed lessons and where sleep will be managed in order to learn translation lessons. As Allah rightly says in Quran, ‘For each is a direction toward which it faces.’ [2:148], there was a direction then and there is a direction now! Rightly put into perspective!

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And the beauty of this journey is that it will never be over. The course will end but the lessons will continue, the knowledge gained will increase with passing life as our final purpose is not to gain but to apply and spread to attain our ultimate goal in the hereafter and what is our ultimate goal, you may ask? It is to see His face which will make us forget all about that ever bothered us, all that ever pleased or displeased us, all that ever worried us and all that we had to go through. Imagine that moment!

How can you get there? This is a month of spiritual high when everyone is trying to make the most out of it but attaining Allah’s pleasure is a life long goal.

CHALLENGE: Enrol yourself in something similar, pledge to understand His Book, find a regular course near you which helps you get on this journey. Make dua for it and make an effort because every moment and every bit of energy spent towards getting closer to Him will count and will bring with it lots of barakah (blessings). Make it your intention and Allah will definitely make a way for you. This is a never ending journey and you just have to keep working towards it. One day, you will get there inshaAllah.

May Allah make us of the people who understand His Book with zeal, act upon it and spread it like a light that is for everyone and everywhere. Ameen.

Ramadan Challenge: Good Deeds Post-Ramadan!

By Umm Ibrahim

We can never thank Allah enough for the blessed month of Ramadan, and the increase in worship it brings for us all. Almost all of us go one notch up than our pre-Ramadan selves in terms of worship. Maybe we read the Quran after months. Maybe we prayed Fajr on time after weeks. Maybe we made heartfelt dua after ages.

However, the real deal is not just to gel the Ramadan Iman Rush, but to try to maintain a certain level of iman (faith) and good deeds post-Ramadan. We should strive to exit Ramadan better than we entered it. Ramadan is like a training camp for us. The goal is: to instil taqwa (God-consciousness) in us!
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This Ramadan, I decided to select just three things that I would start in Ramadan and continue doing afterwards too.

The first is post-Fajr Quran recitation. I might be reading an entire Juz everyday in Ramadan, but only a page a day afterwards. But that’s okay. The goal is to maintain the post-Fajr recitation, even if it be a few verses. Post-Ramadan, I should not revert to Post-Fajr slumber, or worse, slumbering through Fajr!

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The second goal is to start and then continue to pray the 2 rak’at of the amazing Duha* prayer daily after Ramadan . It just takes 5-10 minutes, and has amazing virtues and benefits.

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And the third goal is to make a habit of doing my muhasibah (self-accountability) before bed every night. I’m starting this in Ramadan and aiming to continue it later as well. I don’t want to get lost and distracted again. Holding yourself accountable keeps you on track.

I’m going to write these down where I can see them every day after Ramadan.

I challenge you to think of three good deeds that you plan to continue after Ramadan! Let Ramadan leave its mark on you!

Because after all, the most beloved deeds in the sight of Allah are not the sixers that you hit once in a while, but the steady flow of ones and twos that you would be able to hit at every ball.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:
“The most beloved of deeds in the sight of Allah are those done consistently, even if they be little.” (Bukhari)

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*Duha prayer: It is an optional two-rakʿah prayer that the Prophet ﷺ prayed frequently and advised the companions to pray, and its time is between sunrise and Dhuhr.
Details here.

Of good company and positive attitudes

This post is an anonymous entry sent in by one of our readers for the theme #Sinless. We pray that Allah keeps the writer steadfast on her own journey.

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How do people view practicing Muslims these days? Outdated? Orthodox? Old-school? Of course!

I mean, just imagine! How can those people live without listening to music? I can’t even picture myself sitting alone and not plugging my earphones into my ears (to listen to the latest beats).

And then there’s the whole covering up issue.  Personally I believe that the only modesty is that of the gaze- don’t stare, that’s all. These Abaya-clad girls are usually looked more keenly upon. Obviously they invite more glances. How can they claim to be modest when they stand out like that? How are they even comfortable being inspected so?  You can’t talk, walk, or act like a normal human being in that kind of dress- completely out of the question!

There’s so much in this world alone; so much to see, so much to do- so little time (and money). You are obliged to earn by whatever means you can. How can you possibly make time for the daily prayers, and that too 5 times a day, what with your otherwise hectic schedule?

Then there’s these Maulvis… Nothing but a bunch of the most deviant people imaginable. All they do is impose a new fatwa every now and then- make life hard for the rest of us.  And then they have the audacity to plead about immodesty in the community. I mean they should just focus on themselves. I’m fine the way I am. I don’t need someone dictating my life!


Is this you? I don’t know about you, but this is definitely me.

I’m sorry I’m mistaken.

This WAS definitely me.

Practicing religion to the old me was just like sticking to the most frustrating restrictions one could possibly think of. And I’m not the only young person I know who had this problem- so did most of the other young people I knew.

It was a great blessing that Allah blessed me with some amazing friends who were practical examples of people who practice religion, but remain down-to-earth and ‘normal’ at the same time. Pretty amazing, right? LOL. They would talk, walk and act normal. They had fun. They were fun to be around. And their positive outlook on life helped solve many of MY problems too!

They somehow managed to live without listening to the kind of messed up music that is popular nowadays. They prayed five times a day in spite of their busy routines. They weren’t modest about their gaze alone, but also in the way they dressed.

And I could not do anything but also get inspired! Unbelievable but true- all you need to do is spend some time in good company yourself to understand this.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said,

A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”[Sunan Abu Dawud: 4833]

Yeah! My company did change the way I viewed the world. My heart started to be more inclined towards Allah and His religion. I wanted to find the source of this goodness- I wanted to be one of them. I started perfecting my own Salah. And as it is mentioned in the Quraan:-

“Indeed Salah stops you from Immodesty and Munkar (That which is forbidden)” [Surah Al-Ankaboot, Ayah: 43]

My prayers helped me to  strive even further and take more steps towards my Lord. It felt like a relief when I wore my hijab for the first time in front of my male cousins. Believe it or not, it felt better than seeing myself in front of the mirror, dressed to perfection. I gave up music slowly and turned towards Quraan. It did feel better than that temporary happiness that would blow my ears away through those meaningless lyrics. These changes were not abrupt. It took time to make them impact my heart and mind.

But there was no other option for me when all of these things made complete sense to me. No ifs, no buts. The way forward was obvious.

Only then did I understand the importance of Hijab, giving up music, praying five times a day with the utmost devotion to Allah and doing all else that was required by my religion. They all made sense now that I was sincerely tuning into Allah’s commands.  But that only happened once I had decided that I wanted to understand-  with a true and receptive heart. Temptations struck me from all sides.  I surrounded myself with an even tighter circle of strong, righteous friends.

And even after that, the struggle was not over.

This struggle won’t ever be over as it is not possible for anyone to be completely sinless. The Prophet [Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him] said:

 “All human beings without exception are sinful, but the best sinners are those who repent the most.” [Tirmidhi]

But it’s definitely something worth striving for, especially with the help of good company. It’s time we all took out a moment to reflect. Allah is always ready to forgive. Can we expect any better?

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