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Ramadan Challenge: The Dip!

By Nasser Ijaz Moghal

Contrary to popular belief this article is not about a new Ramadan chip-dip recipe. What I’m about to uncover is the basis of success for the entire Muslim Ummah!

Iman (faith) is not stagnant. Faith increases and decreases during certain times, conditions and as a result of certain actions. As Allah says in the Quran:

“The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, their hearts become fearful, and when His verses are recited to them, it increases them in faith; and upon their Lord they rely” (Surah Al-Anfaal 2)

This verse tells us that for a believer, his iman (faith) increases when Quran is recited to him. Although it’s very hard to judge the level of iman as a whole of the Muslim ummah but a good indicator is the number of Muslims showing up at taraweeh prayer. When Ramadan starts, you would see 5-7 rows filled in the Masjid and as soon as we cross the 5th of Ramadan, this number begins to dwindle to 2 or 3. This remains the case for most of Ramadan until we reach the 27th of Ramadan. The time when suddenly all these people start sprouting up from nowhere and you’re like: ‘Man! I never knew we had so many people in the neighbourhood!’ That is the night in which we reach 50 rows in the masjid for taraweeh prayer. As for the rest of the year, the masjid is only occupied for Jumu’ah (Friday prayer) and Eid. As a visual representation of this phenomenon check out the iman graph below:

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As an analogy, it’s like a marathon. There are many people at the beginning and end of it, but they are only the spectators. During the middle of the marathon, you see only a few people who are, in fact, the participants. Have we also become silent spectators and resigned ourselves to mediocrity rather than excellence in execution?

Allah says in the Quran: “and Allah loves those who do good with perfection.” (Surah Al-Maa’idah 93)

Just imagine! Allah loves those who do the most perfect and beautiful actions! We need to strive to bring actions to level of ihsaan (excellence) in our lives and not settle for less. We should bring forth actions of superior quality to Allah in both this life and the hereafter.

Ramadan is a boot camp for Muslims to prepare them for the challenges of the entire year. But when the boot camp fails to achieve the intended level of ihsaan then our entire year turns out to be bad. Therefore, we need to take a proactive approach to ensure that are faith is maintained throughout Ramadan so that we can survive the harsh winter that is to come. Ideally we should always have high iman throughout the year. Taking baby steps, we can aim for this milestone and then iterate to reach greater levels of iman in the Ummah.

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In this way you will have an overall high level of iman throughout Ramadan. Then through the year the iman will increase and will be further renewed in Ramadan once more.

So, this is all theory. What practical steps can we take to ensure to remove the Ramadan dip from our lives?

1. Iftaar Party Management

With the coming of Ramadan, there is a massive influx of Ramadan iftaar deals. Say no to all of them and safeguard your iman. ‘But what if I am invited by a friend to an iftaar party by a friend?’ Politely refuse and invite him/her to your place for Eid.

There is a catch though….How would you handle when your family invites you to an iftaar party? You could always politely refuse and they’ll sooner or later get to know that you don’t come. It would become your thing. Or you could play on the front foot and invite them to an iftaar at the masjid. This way no one can run away from Maghreb or taraweeh prayer.

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2. Portion Management

The worst thing that people do during iftaar is that they think they are a camel. A camel can store water in its body. So the person during iftaar fills himself with so much food and water that there isn’t even room left for him to breathe. Then what does such a person expect he will do after eating and drinking so much? Taraweeh prayer? More like bed, if not hospital! What do you think would happen to the Imam of the masjid if he ate so much during iftaar? He would literally throw up and die during taraweeh! So have small portions of food in a tea saucer. You can have more, but limit each helping that you take.

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3. Sleep Management

1/3rd of our entire life is spent sleeping! If we can manage this, indeed we can become successful individuals. As soon as you come back from taraweeh, go to sleep. Do not Facebook! Do not stay up late on your phone! Use the  time after Fajr for work and then once you come back from office or school/college/university, go to sleep for 1-2 hours so that you remain fresh for taraweeh!

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4. Soul Management

“Indeed, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace”. We may deprive our body of nourishment but we would truly die if we mal-nourish our souls by not even attempting to read or understand the speech of Allah, the Quran. This Ramadan is special because it is the month in which Quran was revealed. So the biggest association we should have with Ramadan is Quran rather than fasting and most definitely not feasting. This Ramadan make an active effort to renew your connection with the Quran by going through the tafseer (explanation) of the Quran and pondering over its meaning.

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5. Energy Management

Normally there is a great deal of effort placed on managing your time, but what good is time, when all the time you feel drained and exhausted? That’s where energy management comes to play. The higher the levels of stress, frustration and anger you feel will directly impact your energy levels leading to diminishing productivity. Therefore, whenever faced with a situation triggering your pressure points, always remain calm and say “Ana Saaim” (I am fasting). The dude might be shouting at your face but when you say this with a smile on your face, so what can he do possibly? Furthermore, when sad or stressed, remember the rewards that Allah has placed for the believers in Jannah and let a smile beautify your face. Choose to forgive and forget rather than fret.

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Have I missed out on anything? Make sure you comment and share any ideas that you might have on eliminating the “Ramadan Dip” from the lives of Muslims.

Ramadan Challenge: Time Wasters – A Quick Fix!

By Fiza Khan

Bismillah.

Are you excited to make the most of this blessed month?! Have you listed your duas and charted out the goals? Have you planned to pray at the earliest times and offer maximum nawafil (non-obligatory prayers)?

With such enthusiasm and excitement, what could possibly go wrong, right?!

P.R.O.C.R.A.S.T.I.N.A.T.I.O.N!

Yes, that’s one big bad word we lay our arms to. With or without shaitan in town, our desires get the better of us, to the extent that we stop considering certain activities for what they really are (Hint: TIME WASTERS). We adopt them as part of our ‘daily routine’- from minutes of aimless scrolling on the phone screen with half open eyes every morning,  to evenings lost in casual ‘chill-out’ sessions, we slowly get over the initial guilt of losing our precious time to them, not realizing how these activities slowly creep up and throw our goals in the backseat, if not entirely out of the picture.

Every moment of life is a moment worth saving, to be cashed for a better result in the hereafter.

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Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

“Every soul will blame itself on The Day of Judgement.

The doer of good will regret that he did not increase in good deeds

And the sinner will regret that he did not repent from his sins.”

(Ighathatul laghfaan p.105)

Every moment not spent in attaining goodness will be a source of regret.

If this is the case of every-day life then what about the precious moments of Ramadan that we can’t measure the worth of on the scale of blessing and mercy.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“When the month of Ramadan arrives, the doors of mercy are opened”

(Sahih Muslim: 13:1)

The buffet of goodness awaits, will you sit hand on screen, ignoring it? Will you fall prey to vain desires when you have already shown such paramount strength by abstaining from even the necessities of life – food, drink and the carnal self!

NO!

That’s the resilient cry of your soul longing for a real detox. Don’t hush it, listen while you can for there isn’t much time! When are you going to hold yourself to a higher standard if not today?

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Close off your electronic device and think to yourself, what is it that consumes your days and nights, adding no goodness to your scroll of deeds? Make a list of as many as you can, write them down in actual words. Then, resolve to eliminate at least three. Slowly, or at once, choose your way but don’t give up. Take the real steps to attaining your goals; remove the hindrances that have crept in between you and your ultimate success!

“ A limited number of days…”

(Al-Quran: 2:182)

This is the month of Ramadan, a limited number of days to make the most of..and that too will be our life. May you find yourself on Eid day, not in regret for the time lost but rejoicing for the time availed. May that too be our state on the day we will account for every Ramadan we spent and for the life we lived.

“By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”

(Al-Quran:103)

Chapter 30: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 30: The Waning Dusk (series)

indexMyth: Let’s kill time

It’s the time that’s killing us.

I (swear) by the Time, Man is in a state of loss indeed, Except those who believed and did righteous deeds, and exhorted each other to follow truth, and exhorted each other to observe patience. (103:1-3)

There can be no fitting ending to this series than Surah Al-Asr, the summary of the entire Quran. I started off with a post that made a reference to it and I will converge everything here too. It’s a whole comprehensive chapter in itself and according to Imam Shafa’i, it can substitute for the whole Quran and suffice everyone. There can be no greater lesson to be picked from Ramadan. That if nothing else, we have learnt how quickly time flies by. And that tiny tinge of regret, that state of loss that it leaves us with– it’s going to be amplified when life leaves us for real. And with each passing day we are heading towards the end of our timeline. Not a day goes by when you aren’t getting closer to death, or your friends aren’t nearing their ends; some faster than others. Now that you know what loss feels like, don’t let another day pass by without making the most of it.

Allah starts with swearing by Time that is running out to make a point that we are drowning in a state of loss. But that’s not it. Allah did not just swear by time. He used all the emphasis in the second verse to make the thunderous statement. And He made the emphasis thrice! Now you don’t normally do that– unless you’re mad or Shakespeare (as Sh. Abu Abdissalam puts it). So if there’s one thing you’ve got to get out of Surah Al-Asr– it’s respect for time.

And those who believe and doing righteous deeds are the only ones not losing out. The word Saalihaat implies a handful of good deeds. Not a lot. And we can’t even do a lot after Ramadan. So Allah is not asking for much either. Except a few good deeds and a constant show of support to encourage people on the track and pulling in back those who are losing track. Find good company to check up on you and do something productive with the free time slots you’ve got.

Nothing damages faith more than free time. It’s when you decide to watch a film, play video games and go on a heedless spree. Keep yourself busy with things. Either study something interesting, memorize portions of the Quran, learn new skills or find a job. Just don’t be idle. Time is all you’ve got now. As Hasan Al-Basri had said, “Son of Adam is but a number of days…”

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