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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.

bismillah

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.

 

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Ramadan Dip

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

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There was this guy in a wheel chair who wanted to make a statement that even people in wheel chairs are capable. So he decided to enter into a marathon. He noticed something very interesting about the race that he was running. He noticed that there were many people at the beginning of the race and many people at the end of the race but all throughout the middle he was by himself. The only people present in the middle of the race are the participants. It has been my personal observation that the same wheel chair marathon happens in Ramadan. As soon as the moon is sighted people get all excited about Ramadan and flock to the Masjid and at the end particularly the 27th people come flocking back to the Masjid but somewhere in the middle of Ramadan people drop off. The ratio that I have devised for this is 5:2:4 ratio. Meaning there will be 5 rows in the Masjid at the beginning of Ramadan, 2 in the middle and 4 at the end. This phenomenon is the Ramadan Dip.

Now Ramadan is a training camp in which people can boost their Imaan at record levels and survive the rest of the coming year. It is essential that we find a way to overcome this Ramadan dip.

On the night before Ramadan I went to get a haircut. As my hair was being trimmed I thought wait this is a Dawah opportunity. So I started a conversation:

“What’s your name bhai?”

“Afaaq”

“Afaaq?”

“Yes,  Afaaq.”

“Afaaq bhai.  So…..what do you plan to do for this Ramadan?”

In a totally casual manner he answered

“Well…..keep fasts, pray 5 time Salaat in the Masjid but I will miss the Taraweeh prayer because of the job but no biggie. That’s all”

SubhanaAllah. He has something planned but then again we should be doing all these even if it weren’t Ramadan. What about Quran? Any plans for Quran? No! What about feeding people or sitting for Aitekaaf? No.

You know when your exams are near, some students quit their time wasters like watching series, net surfing, etc and really open the books and study. Then when they are done with the exams  tranquility and sweetness descends upon them and they truly feel freedom from all the hard work .Then again they are some to whom it doesn’t matter exams or no exams they are going to do whatever they want and so they don’t truly feel the sweetness of being free after exams. Such is the case with Ramadan those who work hard and take maximum benefit from Ramadan will truly enjoy Eid while those who were sleeping in Ramdan they will be sleeping on Eid too.

Have big intentions. Make a connection with Quran, ponder over its meaning, and memorize some Surahs. Go and feed people. I don’t mean have Iftaar parties. I mean take some good food to the Masjid and hand it out to people. Remember Ramadan is a month of feeding not eating. Don’t be fooled by all what you see on billboards; FAST and FEAST (McDonald’s Ramadan theme).

The only purpose of fasting is that you may adopt Taqwah. “What is Taqwah?” you may ask. Well…..look at it this way. Imagine there is a mouse and it comes out of its hole but as soon as it hears something in the distance it immediately scurries back into its hole. Then once again it comes out looking for food and again it runs back into the hole on hearing the slightest sound.  See? The Mouse is afraid and very cautious. Similarly the word Taqwah comes from the root letters Waqiya which means to take a shield and so Taqwah means to protect yourself from the punishment of Allah by following His commands and refraining from all those actions that bring about his wrath and displeasure. Some people do a lot of good in Ramadan but they don’t stop doing evil. Wallaahi this is not Taqwah. Both, committing of good and restraining yourself from evil is Taqwah.

I remember my most memorable Ramadan was not the one in which I went to the finest dining places for Iftaar or slept throughout the day but rather the one in which I read the Quran everyday understood it and when the Imaam recited the Quran in Taraweeh prayer it felt as if the Ayaat of Allah were being revealed on my heart.

How are you going to make this Ramadan memorable? So that at the end when it’s Eid you are like

“LOOK AT ME NOW! I MADE IT! I HAVE TAQWAH! ALLAH HU AKBAR”

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Arabic Vocabulary used:

Imaan: Faith

Wallaahi: By Allah (I swear by God)

Eid: Muslim festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan

Iftaar: Breaking of fast (includes variety of traditional meals)

Taraweeh: Optional prayer that Muslims offer at night in congregation

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