Tag Archives: Ramadan

Missing Ramadan? Worry not, the BEST 10 are here!

By Nadeem Ashraf

It’s been more than a month since the blissful time of reflection and prayer that is Ramadan has come to a swift end.
You tried your very best to get rid of niggling addictions and minor sins. You woke up even before Fajr for Tahajjud and Suhoor. You paid attention to your Salah and perhaps, read the Quran more deeply and with more reflection. In the very last days of Ramadan, perhaps you were worried about maintaining this momentum of good deeds and this serene peace of mind.

This worry is something to use as an initiative, dear reader. Revel in the fact that being worried about doing good deeds means that you crave Allah (SWT)’s forgiveness and acceptance. Indeed, it is said that even the slightest bit of guilt that comes from not doing our ordained acts properly is a blessing from Allah (SWT). It pushes us to do better next time.

So, what to do that keeps the momentum gained in Ramadan thriving?

“We are what we repeatedly do,” Will Durant observed in summarizing the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle.

(Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy)

Repetition is key if we want to maintain a state of a continual good habits. The Ramadan momentum is itself gained through repetition of key acts like salah, reading the Quran, and avoiding bad habits. Many psychologists agree that it takes 21 days to form a habit. (Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit). Ramadan is indeed a blessing then to help us form good habits and take us away from our bad ones.

The only problem is that we happen to do these habits in a ‘Ramadan-frame-of-mind’. As soon as Ramadan ends, we revert back to our everyday routine and the habits we had formed fade away. The challenge is to keep up the habits gained in Ramadan and strengthen them even after Ramadan ends.The ramadan momentum (1)

In fact, our deen has made this very task of maintaining our Ramadan ‘momentum’ easy. During Ramadan, we set a routine for ourselves. We know when we have to wake up and what we like eating for Suhoor. We know how to structure our day so as to not miss one single Rakah of our prayers and we take out time to read the Quran. With that routine set, half the battle’s won already. All you have to do is concentrate on making it a regular part of your lifestyle. Along with the following Sunnah of the Prophet,
you will be relieved to learn how easy it is in fact to never let Ramadan and its goodness fall back too much.

Right after Ramadan, Muslims are enjoined to fast six days in Shawwal which carry numerous blessings. The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days from Shawwal it is as if they fasted the entire year.” (Muslim). Similarly, it’s also Prophetic tradition to fast on Monday and Thursday each week.

It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet ﷺ was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. al-Tirmidhi, 745.
Think about this. Try to apply it. And with the right amount of effort, you will never be out of that Ramadan ‘momentum’ again. InshaAllah.

But wait, here’s the good news, you’re in for a treat! The BEST 10 days are here already! It is indeed a blessing from Allah SWT that He gifts us the first 10 days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah just when we need them the most. You retain the Ramadan feels a bit after it has passed and by this time when you’re starting to feel the dip badly, comes a lot of incentive and the opportunity of a spiritual uplift.

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allah?” He said, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2/457).

So now is the time to increase in fasts, charity, zikr (remembrance of Allah SWT), Quran recitation, extra prayers and all other good deeds that you can think of. And this time make an intention to continue some of these deeds, if not all, even after these days have gone so your year’s fuel is taken care of. Keep doing one little action you did consistently in Ramadan and are now planning to do these days after this time ends.

Indeed, the most beloved deed to Allah is what is done regularly even if it is small. (Musnad Ahmed).

It could be as simple as giving daily charity in the form of few rupees in the masjid’s charity box or committing 15 minutes to read a verse of the Quran and reflect on its meaning.

Keep your chin up and keep doing your best to please Allah (SWT). May Allah (SWT) grant us the taufeeq (ability) to do acts that are pleasing to Him and that He blesses us with Ramadan 2019 and other blessed days. Ameen.

the best ten

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Ramadan Confession #2: I have this type of Ramadan guilt every year

By Fatima Asad

Many things change in your life when you become a mother.  (Wait! This is not just another mama post; I need to tell you when I truly felt this guilt for the first time.)  In fact, you meet another person in the mirror when you are blessed with motherhood.  It was the first Ramadan after becoming a mama- I wasn’t fasting since the two-month old demanded to suck out my entire essence (along with the breast milk).  If you’re a mama who has nursed, you know the seemingly eternal hours you possess to write to-do lists (without getting anything done, subhanAllah), read that book (yes, that book that you attempted to read during the last trimester), stare at the walls, questioning your interior designing judgement, or contemplating life- really going deep within the mind’s avenues.

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It was during one of these must-feed-the-little-human sessions that a realization struck my heart chords hard. It was an overwhelming feeling of guilt that shoved me to such an extent that I felt myself freeze, choke and gasp simultaneously.  I couldn’t breathe during those moments, and I wanted to cry, but there were no tears.  I really wanted the tears to flow out so I could rid myself of this overpowering force, but there were none.  That in itself was another terrifying realization: why am I not crying? Why can’t I cry? Has my heart hardened to such an extent? Then, as I gently laid the baby on the bed and kissed her chubby little cheeks, I couldn’t let go of this affection.  As I reached for her tiny fingers, tear drops pattered on her palm.  There they were.  This miracle would continue to awaken an array of emotions I never knew were possible in the future years.

The guilt was because of this: I sadly realized that I had not been the best representation of Islam in the past and to think that I may have been the cause of even a single person missing out on this astounding blessing of Ramadan jolted me to the bone.  Having lived in America all my life, it had been a constant tug of war between faith and culture.  Most of us will confidently claim that Islam doesn’t contradict culture, but do we really believe it? Have we lived by it? Islam does not contradict culture, but I, like countless others, failed to be educated about this until it was too late in many aspects.  I had spent most of my youth years unconsciously trying to become a follower, trying to impress people through fading trends and false doctrines.  This is because I failed to understand my own identity, allowing others to pick and choose how they defined me rather than holding the reins myself.

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This guilt comes back every year, stronger each time.  I should have done more, I could have done more, I should have learned about my deen earlier, I could have paved a smoother road for myself and others, I should have embraced the real me more…ultimately: I could have painted a better, more authentic picture of Islam if only I had known it myself.  Even though the guilt increases, so does the hope.  In fact, the hope is slowly but surely outgrowing the despair and that is what being a Muslim is all about.  It’s about accepting your mistakes and circumstances, pairing hope with determination, and moving forward.  The past is just that: the past.  Look back to learn not to turn into stone, eternally frozen with despair over what can never be alive again.

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Reflect and Refresh – Purify your soul and mind with the teachings of Qur’an

By Suha Mishal

The month of forgiveness and mercy is upon us.  

This Ramadan, while treating yourself to samosas and chaats, why not also treat your soul. Ramadan is the best time to treat your inner exhausted self to a deep cleanse. Does that seem hard? Worry not, you will find inspiration to do so in this Ayah: 

 “He has succeeded who purifies the soul, and he has failed who corrupts the soul.” (Quran, 91:9-10) 

This success ultimately means success in the hereafter. So, let’s remember in this Ramadan to:  

Pause. Reflect. Purify. Restart! 

I’ve had encounters with people with a lot of money, countless other blessings and everything they’d ever wish for, yet their hearts and souls are not at peace. They constantly are in a rush for something they don’t even know themselves. And what use is money if it cannot buy you the peace and contentment that you still, after having everything, long for?  In the Holy Qur’an, Allah Almighty says, 

“Their hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah” (Quran, 39:23). 

Our heart is not just a tissue mass that is pumping blood; it’s much more than that. It is the center of all our feelings, desires, and emotions. It is the inner self; it is that boss of us that tells us what do to. Purifying your heart with the remembrance of Allah (SWT) will automatically purify your soul and bring you inner peace.  

Listed below are some tips that are guaranteed to make an impact on your journey to purify yourself spiritually:  

1: Pause.  

Imagine driving at a fast speed nonstop, without any breaks without pause for a very long period of time? What will happen? 

Eventually you’ll end up exhausted, starved, and thirsty, both a danger to your own health as well that of others.  

That is exactly how we are living our lives nowadays. We have so much stuff on our plate already that we do not bother taking a pause in that high-speed drive to even notice the beautiful sceneries that have passed us by.  

Likewise, we are so caught up in our lives that we’re forgetting WHY  we are in this Dunya (this world) in the first place. 

One of my favorite verses that really steers me back every time I lose track is:  

فَأَيْنَ تَذْهَبُونَ
So where are you going?
[Qur’an: Chapter 81, Verse 26] 

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Qur’an has, like always, made things so easier for us. Allah has instructed us in the Qur’an and He Himself has created pauses that can rejuvenate our souls and our hearts:  

  • PAUSE IN DAY – 5 Daily Prayers   
  • PAUSE IN CONSUMPTION – Fasting in Ramadan 
  • PAUSE IN SPENDING – Zakat
  • PAUSE IN LIFETIME – Hajj 

Following these pauses carefully could be your shortcut to the purity of the soul and a source of peace for the heart.  

2: Reflect  

Look back on things when you pause; reflect on all the things that you’ve done this year.  

To make it easier for you, make a list. Jot down all the times you went wrong, and the times you went right. This will give you an insight of into yourself, and all that you need to improve. 

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I find that reflection is very essential to a healthy soul. It gives you an opportunity to count your blessings and rejoice in the favours that Allah (SWT) has granted us.   

(While you’re at it, why don’t you take some time and pray two nafl rakats as gratitude for Allah’s blessings upon you?)  

3: Purify:  

After you’ve made the list, think of the ways you need to improve. 

If you’ve hurt someone, think of how you can make them happy. Or if someone has hurt you, learn to forgive them. Forgiveness is one of the keys to purification. It allows you to let go of grudges or ill-feelings and start afresh.  

Butif someone pardons and puts things right, his reward is with AllahCertainly, He does not love wrongdoers. (Surat Ash-Shura, 40) 

For all the sins and bad deeds that you’ve intentionally or unintentionally committed this year, you can always repent to Allah (SWT) for it is better to TURN to him before you RETURN to him. Indeed, Allah is Al-Ghaffur “The Oft-Forgiving” and the original source of forgiveness. 

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Allah has said in Qur’an:  

It may well be thatAllah will pardon them. Allah is Ever-Pardoning, Ever-Forgiving. (Surat An-Nisa, 99)

4: Restart 

Always remember, it’s only YOU who can make a change. You can set yourself on the right path. Once you know your mistakes from the past year, keep them in your mind and ensure you don’t repeat them.  

Avoid things that lead you into the things that don’t please Allah.  

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Start fresh with a clean slate and clear heart. You can maintain your purified state by:  

– make pledges with yourself to do good deeds.  

– keep small punishment if you break them  

– keep small incentives if you fulfill those pledges.  

– remember to reflect and purify throughout the year and not just in Ramadan. 

InshaAllah, if you follow the tips in this article, this Ramadan will prove to purify your heart and your soul, leaving you refreshed for a new step on your journey to please Allah (SWT).  

Taraweeh Optimization

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Ramadan is here and you want to make the best out of it. When you think of Ramadan nights you think of Taraweeh and Laylatul Qadr. They were MIA throughout the year but lo and behold they too come to pray taraweeh and then it’s like see you next year. The biggest regret that 90% of the Muslims have at the end of Ramadan is that they hear the Quran recited but can’t internalize the message. The Quran doesn’t touch them, it doesn’t soften their hearts. So, this Ramadan I am going to tell you what practical things you can do to make connect with the words of Allah on a deeper level.

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1. Purify your Intentions:

It is common knowledge that actions are based on intentions as per the hadeeth of Rasul Allah. We often focus on the what in our lives rather than the why. This Ramadan I want you to step back and reflect; Why am I going for taraweeh? Is it because just everyone’s doing it and it would be weird if I didn’t follow the crowd? Is it because my parents said I need to go? Is it because it’s a cultural thing? Is it because if I don’t go people will think less of me? Is it because after tarweeh I can socialize with friends?

Now here is what your intention should be this Ramadan: I want to listen to the words of Allah so that it softens my heart, changes my life, in order that I may please Allah.

Once the basis is strong the results will surely follow.

2. Dua

Undoubtedly, you’ve had a long day at college or work. You’ve been fasting in the hot weather. You are still digesting the pakoras and samosas of iftrari and you are sleep deprived. But you still wish to drawer closer to Allah through non-obligatory prayer; taraweeh. In such times supplicate to Allah to ease the hardship and allow you to focus on your Salah. Rather than be distracted by other thoughts. Then never give up as Allah will provide His help in ways you cannot imagine.

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3. Select the Masjid

There are Masjids out there where the Imam recites the Quran at lightning speed. The tarweeh is more of a workout rather than a soul touching activity. Go to a masjid where the Imam’s recitation touches your heart and makes you cry. The Imam has adequate speed such that you can hear the word properly. Furthermore, they have a Quran tafsir session where you can at least know what was recited. It’s very important that the conducive for understanding of the Quran as well because if there isn’t an AC, there are mosquito’s everywhere, the sound of the imam from the speakers is unclear, the masjid itself smells awful of sweat, chances are that you won’t be able to concentrate on your salah. Choose a masjid that is convenient for you and has at atmosphere to enable you to focus on your salah.

Traweeh

4. Prepare

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is essential that we make an effort to prepare for Taraweeh. What you should do is join a Daur-e-Quran course online or in person which should be in sync with your masjid. So at least during the Salah you can pick some Arabic words and get certain contexts that can better help you to understand. Furthermore, always take an afternoon nap otherwise you would be so sleepy during tarweeh you would be literally be dosing off in and out of Salah. Take a shower before you go for prayer. A cold shower is helpful in sharpening your senses. Don’t eat too much during iftari. Do you know what would happen to the Imam if he over ate during iftari and then attempted to pray taraweeh? He would vomit and die. And the person following the Imam is not better off either. Bring a bottle of water to the masjid. It is very important to keep hydrated as it prevents person from tiring too quickly. Don’t stick to one place during the entire tarweeh change places or move to another row after each 4 Rakaat to bring that freshness to your salah.

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5. Make it a family thing

There are certain acts of worship that a person needs to do on a personal level. However, make plans with the entire family to go for taraweeh. And then after tarweeh each person should share their experiences and motivate each other to improve themselves. So rather than going on iftar parties your rocking at the Masjid with your loved ones at tarweeh.  So, bring your fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and all and enjoy together as one family.

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6. Drive Self Accountability

Make a calendar and set a daily target for yourself for taraweeh. For example, you plan and set the target that you will pray 20 Rakat on the 5th of Ramadan. If you meet this target, then right down on the calendar 20 and say I am Awesome MashaAllah and if you don’t then write the amount that you prayed for example 12 and say I will improve inshaAllah. Now you need to be a detective of your life and figure out what stopped you from achieving your goal and then take an action to prevent its re-occurrence. Maybe what stopped you from completing your target was that you felt sleepy and back tracing you realize that you normally sleep for an hour in the evening but today you only slept for 30min because you spent too much chatting with your friend on facebook. Red flag! Take an action to limit your facebook time in the evening and go to sleep for 1 hour. Remember the golden words of Umar bin Al Khattab:

“Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable and weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.”

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7. Never lose hope

Many people lose faith in themselves and think it’s too late for them to understand the Quran. That it’s something that should be left to scholars. They then resign themselves to a life of mediocrity where rather than becoming an educated Muslim they choose to become a cultural Muslim.  Allah inspires us with a passion to win:

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (39:53)

8. Focus

Make a conscious effort during Taraweeh to focus on the words and listen to the Imam with all five senses. Make sense of the meaning and allow the what you learnt in tafsir to flow into your heart. If stray thoughts come your way, say Tawwuz and push them away. At first it will be a struggle to pull your attention back however with practice this can become easier. You need to totally immerse yourself in the moment, now. Forget about the past and forget about what you need to do next. And pray with the level of Ihsaan as if you are seeing Allah otherwise one should know that Allah sees them.

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Things are not perfect and often things don’t go as per plan and Allah is the best of planners. So even though you don’t see the results immediately but Allah knows your efforts and you will be rewarded inshaAllah based on your intentions and hard work. Understanding Quran and living it in our lives is not secluded to Ramadan; it’s a life long journey. Ramadan is here to facilitate but we need to carry the learnings forward.

How to manage Ibadah along with daily activities during the month of Ramadan

By Minahil Hasan

When we look around us, all we see is people who are endlessly busy; busy in their jobs, busy at school or even busy wasting their time. Time is now a commodity that people are constantly short of. More importantly, when we are so busy in our dunya, where do we find time for our Akhirah?

The blessed month of Ramadan has dawned upon us which is the month in which the Shaytaan is chained, the doors of forgiveness are opened, and the reward for every good deed is tenfold or more. In this month, Muslims try their utmost to perform as many good deeds as possible to gain the pleasure and forgiveness of Allah. Yet people still find it difficult to find time to do their ibadah.

The most important thing to do is to understand the FOCUS of our life. Is it to please Allah, gain his forgiveness and attain Jannah in the hereafter or is it some worldly aim? Having worldly focuses is not forbidden but the foremost focus should always remain gaining the pleasure of Allah. If your focus is clear, then no matter how busy your life gets, you will always manage to do your ibadah. But to make it easier for you, here are some practical tips:

The first thing to do is to keep the correct intention in mind while doing anything. For example, if you are cooking in Ramadan, think about how your efforts will result in an iftar for your family. If you entertain your younger siblings, have the intention of helping your parents, and even when you go to sleep, keep the intention that you are doing this so that you can wake up for Fajr refreshed. The reason for this is that keeping the correct intention can also be rewarded. So even if you are doing worldly things, you can still attain rewards from Allah (SWT).

Secondly, you should prioritize good deeds over others. For example, if you have school work to do, and you still haven’t read the Quran for the day, read the Quran first. You will be doing a good deed and completing a task which will make you feel more productive and motivated to do your school work.

You should make sure that you are never wasting time if you have an opportunity to do a good deed. If you feel like surfing the net, why not surf the net for interesting lectures by Islamic scholars or a Islamic documentary? If you want to read, why not read a biography of a notable Muslim or a book of Seerah? Repurposing your time this way will ensure that you remain connected to Allah (SWT).

You can also multitask so as to make the most of your time. Listening to the Quran or a lecture can be a soothing activity to do while you are cooking, cleaning, or doing something else.

In short, you have to correct your intentions, prioritize your good deeds and do your best to STOP wasting time. This life has been given to us by Allah (SWT) to first and foremost worship Him. To do so, we need to retain a connection with him, regardless of how hectic and busy our lives get.

Ramadan Confession #1: Why I don’t stop using social media in Ramadan

By Fatima Asad

“I can’t see the moon, Mommy!” A frustrated 6 year old tugged on my dress as she jumped up and down, eagerly trying to spy the Ramadan moon behind the infamous Beijing skyscrapers.

Ding. Ding. Ding.  As predictable as iftaar pakoras, my phone started celebrating the new moon before us.

“Oh, I have a feeling we will see the Ramadan moon soon enough, in sha Allah.” I replied as I reached for my phone. Sure enough, Ramadan Mubarak, Ramadan Kareem (which by the way doesn’t make sense- ask an Arab speaker), and Happy Ramadan messages adorned the screen.  There were also those messages- you know, the “I bid you adieu for 30 days”, the “time to turn off for a month”, the “it’s time to detox the soul” messages.  I smiled, pondering over the familiar feeling of this dedicated decision of going cold turkey with social media, as I too had sent off similar messages (because, you know the world will miss my posts about my kids eating my lipstick or how I found a dead dragonfly).

Last year, I made a conscious decision to get more active on social media, especially during Ramadan.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Let me tell you why I don’t stop using social media in Ramadan.  In a nutshell, it’s because my browsing quality improves tremendously during this blessed month and becomes more disciplined (as is the target for all activities).  You see, fasting is about increasing one’s taqwa– love, fear and consciousness of Allah SWT. That continuous string of taqwa can only be achieved when we starve our nafs (desirous self) – not merely the bodies – of negative habits, seemingly perpetual poisonous cycles of bad choices.

The first few days of Ramadan are always the toughest for me, and I’m not talking about my coffee deprivation.  I split into two people and it’s as if I am hallucinating. I see my dark side, more visible than ever.  In fact, it’s as if Iblees (Satan) has been training this “me” for this precise moment- to do his dirty work in his absence.  On the other hand, I see my truest, more serene and sensible self, slowly but surely rising up from what seems to be a stance of hopelessness and fragility.  These first days are difficult, painful, exhausting- a struggle in which I can feel each sigh, cry and pull as if it were a million paper-cuts.  The worst part is the heavy fog being pushed down by my stubborn dark side over my eyes.  My mind is clogged and a feeling of despair and helplessness overtakes me.

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What does that have to do with my social media use? Everything. I have witnessed firsthand how social media is a major tool- nay weapon for wielding out the dark sides of people.  It knows no limits of immodesty, disrespect, effortless arguing, and poisonous malice.  It’s oh so easy to slide into various degrees of wrong when swiping through a favourite app.  One thing leads to another and before you know it, you’re watching bloopers from Downton Abbey even though you actually sat down to write down the recipe for Shakshuka.

Yes, Downton Abbey may not be the most evil, immoral content in existence, but the point is that we have become techno zombies, allowing social media to lead and control us, rather than making conscious, deliberate and wise decisions ourselves.  Did I really need to waste another hour on the bloopers after watching the series? Of course not.  Even watching the series failed to help me achieve my higher purpose in life; in fact, it most certainly hurt it, no matter how respectable or innocent the content.

 

When this slip happens a few times, I still seemed to spring back; however, as it social media 3transforms into a habit, one that became a part of my being quite effortlessly, *that* is the point where the darkness within me feeds off the cycle.  This is the reason the struggle is a powerful one when the time comes to break away and remember my purpose.  After that initial struggle in Ramadan, I engage with social media with an acute, sharpened sense of consequence, realising that whatever I do will impact not only my future habits, but also my fast for that day.

The rules of engagement become refreshed and the content that I deemed acceptable or was apathetic towards now stings my eyes, ears and heart.  The energy still needs to be used, so I redirect it towards tools that will undoubtedly aid me in achieving the greatest goal: Jannatul Firdous (Paradise of Firdaws).  This takes the form of listening to lectures, audio books, motivational TED talks, brushing up on my basic Islamic knowledge, rekindling my bond with the Quran, and improving relationships.

I absolute love using social media during Ramadan- heck, I’m so thankful to be a part of halaqaat (circles of knowledge) and various tafseer circles from my afar apartment in China.  I get a sneak peak of what wonders technology and my positive choices can have all year around.  Today, I know countless around me who use social media as the measuring stick by which they measure their worth, impact and existence.

However, we need to remember that social media is just that: a tool which needs to be consciously used and controlled, not be the cause of misery, short-lived pleasures, addiction and losing one’s self.  Use this blessed month to make a positive social media change.  This is the time for new resolutions, closing past chapters, and giving yourself a fresh start- in fact, you are being gifted a fresh opening by the Creator, Himself.  Will you accept it with all your being or simply “like” and swipe left to see what if Prince Harry shaved for the royal wedding?

Say it with me: *I am stronger than my dark side and I am definitely worth more than a hashtag.*

Ramadan Challenge: Reflect- Upon the Quran

By Dr. Sonia Mohsin 

When you see the world through the Quran, it enlightens your whole life. It’s like a new pair of glasses which make things much clearer than they were, and puts everything in its right perspective. That’s why it is so important to make it a part of your daily routine. When you give the Quran its due share of attention, you will witness miracles! That, my friends, is guaranteed!

Today, I challenge you to read a verse of the Quran and ponder over its meaning.

Let me share with you some insight that I gained in the taraweeh prayer, yesterday. I heard this ayah from Surah As-Saff, which struck me hard:

“O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment? [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know.” (Al-Quran 61:10-11)

These verses are a game changer for anyone who wants to make a change in this world. Allah is talking to you and I– the people who have believed, who are already Muslims. Then he talks about saving them from the painful punishment of hell-fire. But wait! Weren’t all Muslims supposed to go to Jannah? Guess not! This verse proves that saying the kalima e shahadat (testimony of faith) alone, doesn’t save us from punishment. There is something more that needs to be done.

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Allah calls you towards action – towards a cause. Life is meaningless, if it has no goals or missions. As Albert Einstein once said, “If you want to live a happy life tie it to a goal – not to people or things”. Having a goal is what gives life meaning. The tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal, it lies in having no goals, to reach. So, stop letting other people hire or dictate you to build their dreams. Have dreams of your own. How? Allah tells you that too. It is the mission that is described by Allah for every Muslim. I’ll put it in bold in the hope that you never forget. Paste it somewhere you can see it every day!

STRIVE IN THE CAUSE OF ALLAH WITH YOUR WEALTH AND YOUR LIVES

This is the true meaning of jihad – this is the true purpose of this life. It doesn’t matter if you are a teenager or an adult – there needs to be something so big in your life, that you wake up jubilant every morning and sleep with the contentment that you have achieved something, every night. Allah calls you to put in just a portion of your life into striving for the cause of Allah. A few practical ways of doing this are:

First Step – Gain Beneficial Knowledge: No matter how little or how much of your time you can spare, dedicate it to learning and understanding parts of the Quran or hadith. Remember, Allah loves consistency, so it is the key to success.

Second Step – Understand: Eventually, as the knowledge starts to seep in, you will start seeing the world differently, things will start to make sense. The systems of life, the truth & justice in it, will all start getting apparent. View the world from Allah’s perspective and you will see it is so much more beautiful than you thought!

Third step – Self Implementation: Soon, if you are true to yourself, you will start noticing disparities between what you understand and what you do. This is the time to make a change. Remember that change always begins from within yourself. You need to be the change you want to see. Implement the Quran, one step at a time, on yourself. This is the hardest form of jihad (struggle) – to strive against the nafs (self).

Fourth Step – Social Implementation: When you feel like you have aligned the disparities as much as you could, or at least are in the process of it, that’s when it’s time to look around you. Do not to raise fingers at everything that’s wrong, but step in to make the change yourself. Involve people into a cause that you personally believe in, like going green or beginning a cleaning drive. Invite people into study circles, create a community of harmony and of as many people as you can. This is what Islam is all about. Don’t be disheartened if you are all alone, initially. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was also just one man – who changed the entire course of history. Maybe we can at least be a fraction of what he was. After all, he is our beloved Prophet (ﷺ)

Fifth Step – Find Your Niche: Every individual has his own unique talent. As Allah says in the Quran: “Say, “Each works according to his manner, but your Lord is most knowing of who is best guided in way.” (Al Quran 17:84) Our salvation lies in recognizing that hidden talent or interest that can best be used for the cause of Islam and then investing into it. Maybe you are a good graphic designer and can make amazing posters with Islamic messages on it. Maybe you are a good writer who can start a blog for the awareness of Islam. Maybe you are a good speaker and would like to tell people about Islam through it. Whatever it maybe, you need to work on it and improve it. This is what will lead to guidance and salvation from the punishment of hell-fire. At the end of this step, go back to step 1 and start all over again. This is the complete circle of life.

In the end, you see, life is too short to be wasted on games, movies and music. There is more to life than what the eye can see. These tough times upon the Muslims require our collective efforts.

We need to stretch ourselves and strive harder, because if we don’t, we will sink into the ocean of darkness, without the safe boat of Islam to relax on.  As long as we are swimming (doing jihad), we have hope.

I pray that this Ramadan opens the door for the reawakening of every Muslim, and helps us strive towards the cause of Allah in the best way possible! May Allah accept all our efforts!

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Ramadan Challenge: Facebook to Dawah-book

By Zahra Nayyer

Imagine hearing a “ping” on your mobile, it’s a reminder that your favourite event is round the corner. It brings a smile to your face and your heart skips a beat. Now imagine if that same “ping” sound signalled a reminder that the Day of Judgement is near or that you have been slacking off in your prayer. How would you feel?  Is that even possible you may ask and my answer is: yes!

Our Facebook profiles are customized to receive different notifications and our newsfeed shows us what we want to see. We may be keen to share our milestones and important events in our lives but not keen on sharing reminders that can benefit us and those around us. We don’t want to cause discomfort by talking about grim things like, life of the hereafter and the grave. But what if your reminders are the very wake-up call someone needs to change their ways and become better Muslims? Would we still shy away from sharing such vital information?

Let’s first get one thing straight, what is our motivation towards sharing reminders about our Deen? Who or what are we calling people towards?

Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): This is my way; I invite unto Allaah (i.e. to the Oneness of Allaah — Islamic Monotheism) with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allaah, i.e. to the Oneness of Allaah — Islamic Monotheism with sure knowledge). And Glorified and Exalted be Allaah (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of the Mushrikoon (polytheists, pagans, idolaters and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah; those who worship others along with Allaah or set up rivals or partners to Allaah)” [Yoosuf 12:108] 

It’s good to remind ourselves why we need to develop the habit of reminding others about this beautiful religion Allah has blessed us with, which at times can be a daunting task due to which we shy away from reminding, and the verse above does just that in a powerful way.

 I have realized that Facebook is indeed a powerful tool. One that can destroy lives with endless hours of scrolling, “liking” posts and commenting on photos. Or it can be used to spread the message of Allah and reviving sunnahs that have long been lost under the cloud of innovations and traditions.

There really is no end to what you can share; quotes from the Quran and sunnah in the form of scenic images and beautiful text, reminders to attend upcoming events in your city and short videos about various topics related to Islam etc.  You don’t need to be a scholar to share Islamic information because the Prophet ﷺ told us; “Convey from me even if it is one ayah (verse)” (Bukhari)

Calling towards Islam is really the most noble of actions a person can do, it is reviving the legacy of the Prophets and the great scholars of our time. It is a huge blessing and honour for us that now we can share a wealth of information from the comfort of our homes when in the past this same knowledge used to take days and many months to reach people in different parts of the world!

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While sharing information, be sure to keep the etiquette in mind to make this process beneficial for you and those reading your posts:

Cite the Source

Don’t share everything you read and that “sounds nice” rather always aim to share authentic information that is backed up by references from the Quran and sunnah.

Forget the “Likes”

Don’t check for the number of likes on your posts for it could be that pretty soon your intention changes from pleasing Allah to pleasing people and all the reward is then lost.

Keep out of Facebook Battles

People may not always like what you post , in case this happens remind yourself that the Prophets too faced much criticism but they didn’t take it personally and tried to cater to the people’s mindsets in a humble and polite way and we too should aim to do the same and avoid arguments.

Keep Learning and Sharing

As you aim to share more reminders through your Facebook profile and other social networking sites, make sure that you make time to improve on your own knowledge about Islam whether it’s through regular classes or reading books. Whenever you learn something or are yourself reminded of something, share it on your page or profile. It will not only help you retain the knowledge but also be a source of guidance for others and you never know just who might benefit. So keep sharing because the reminder benefits the believer!

 

Ramadan Challenge: Know & Love the Prophet ﷺ

By Umm Ibrahim

He is a man who is so easy to love. He is a man whose beauty, perfection and love for us shines through so clearly, yet our hearts seem to be blinded.

May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

The Prophet of Allah ﷺ was by far, the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He was a religious teacher, a social reformer, a moral guide, a just ruler, a faithful friend, a devoted husband and a loving father – all in one.

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He loved us more than our parents could ever love us.

He wept for us in the depths of the night.

He only wished the best for us.

He worried for us.

He wished to meet us. He called us his brothers.

We have in him, a perfect role model.

He conveyed the best religion to us.

He lived the Quran for us to see and follow.

He left us on a Straight Path, which leads straight to Jannah.

The Best of Allah’s Creation. May peace and blessings be upon him.

Through him, Allah unsealed and unlocked people’s hearts, and opened their eyes and ears, and saved them from the pit of Fire. His Prophet-hood is a great favour upon us.

Allah says: ‘Verily, Allah and His Angels send blessings on the Prophet: O’ you who believe! Send blessings on him, and salute him with a worthy salutation.’ (Surah al-Ahzaab:33)

When your heart is filled with love, the salawaat (salutations) will flow naturally from your tongue. But how can you love him when you do not know him well? His looks, his likes and dislikes, his routine, his habits, his sayings, how well do you actually know him?

Today, take out some time to listen to a lecture on Seerah.
(Recommendation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPb3tn49iDA), feel the love, and send abundant salawaat on Rasulullah (the Prophet of Allah) ﷺ.

This is one of the best ways to receive the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah, as well as to have your duas accepted!

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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.