“This is the book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah” (Al Quran 2:2)
The Quran is the true benefactor of the conscious knowledge seeking human being. It envelopes a plethora of ethical directives, social, legal, moral, economic responsibilities, frameworks and guidance’s. It enjoins unity amongst all human beings from our unique races, creeds, wealth and health backgrounds, statuses and classes. The Quran offers divine solutions to every problem our world faces; imbued with practical advices that if heeded to, puts one’s mind at ease and draws one’s soul closer to peace. It is filled with words of warning yet words of justice and consolation. It aligns itself to the beat of the heart and the reality of the world- destined to play a decisive role in the reconstruction of thought and speech whilst gaining perspectives in existence and purpose. The Quran guides the followers of Islam towards a way of life.
One of the miracles of the Quran resides in its authentic preservation and protection in its totality since its completion 1400 years ago. The unadulterated and unaltered chapters has allowed simplicity of memorization by millions around the world and its content testament to timelessness and applicability to every era of time till its end. Interestingly, the first word revealed in the Quran was “Iqra” meaning read, as Allah Subhanawata’allah says “Read in the name of your Lord who created” (Al Quran 96:1). With knowledge of this verse, it becomes important for us all to turn towards the Quran with an open mind, sincerity and humbleness, seeking to gain heightened understanding of what our Creator has prescribed for us to ensure we free ourselves from the shackles of this temporary existence and travel smoothly upon this journey through to the True world.
The deep wisdom the Quran withholds, aims to benefit not only one person or a select group of people, but the whole of humanity. This is conveyed by Allah Subhanawata’allah in His book where He says “This Qur'an is enlightenment for mankind and guidance and mercy for a people who are certain in faith” (Al Quran 45:20). The personification of the ‘mercy’ Allah speaks of can certainly be ascribed to His final messenger our beloved Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him, through whom the final revelation was sent so he may serve as the "mercy to the worlds" (Al Quran 21:107), sent to humanity to perfect good character. Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him having been granted the honour of divine revelation from his Creator makes him the most authentic interpreter and expounder of the Quran. This embodiment affirmed through the description of him by his wife Aisha (RA) when she says he was like a ‘walking Quran.’ This becomes the example that every believing Muslim should embrace and continuously strive to follow.
“The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Qur'an was revealed, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights the new moon of the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and wants for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that to which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful" (Quran 2:185). This becomes the month that every believing Muslim should take as a gift from their ever Generous Creator in which opportunity is unravelled to delve greater into the understanding of His book, intent to gain profound knowledge of the wisdom He conveys- with deep rooted faith that the human disposition can reach its greatest potential through practice of the divine advices present within its pages, in the fashion it was by the best man to ever walk the earth.
The distinct features of this month resides in the beauty that it is present to purify the tarnished soul. Allah Subhanawata’allah grants His servant days where he refrains from worldly addictions and desires for His sake to make Him the sole focus of attachment because He knows the unseen aspects of our characters that are in desperate need of His divine inspiration. If these steps to seek Him and near Him are made especially during this month, He promises His reward as He says in a Hadith Qudsi “Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it,” highlighting the bountiful blessings that can come from fasting- indicating not only the power of Ramadhan but the extent of mercy of our Rabb towards us.
When one becomes aware of the work of Shaiytan, one better understands the benefit of Ramadhan. As the prominent Islamic Scholar Hamza Yusuf relates that “a clear enemy is easier to defeat than a slinking one.” We know through a famous Hadith that during this month Shaiytan is chained. Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him says “When Ramadhan comes the gates of paradise are open and the doors of hell are closed. And a caller cried out: “O seeker of good come in this month- O seeker of evil cease.” Allah decrees this because He knows that if Shaiytan cannot overcome the believers in creed or belief he has promised to probe our lusts and desires so we can stray away from His path; the path of righteousness. Therefore when the giver of ill tidings and whispers is locked up, the believer must take advantage of this time and strive to understand the state of their soul, take notice of bad influences and their own shortcomings, practice to correct their thought, speech and actions, remove negativity from their heart and fill it with love and kindness, and be mindful of Allah in all that they do.
Ibn al Qayyim said that “the body of the human is like a country, whose capital is the heart and whose frontiers are the seven limbs (eyes, ears, tongue, stomach, private parts, hands, feet).” Fasting acts as a guard of these limbs. As we shield our limbs we are encouraged to enjoin one another in righteous deeds, in hope these acts are our gateway to spiritual growth fulfilment and purity. We recognize that it is through purification of each of these limbs that we can free the soul from its constant need and dependency on the fleeting pleasures of this life, redirecting the heart towards its Ultimate abode. With the reminder of our final destination our heart lightens as our dependency shifts from the worldly to the Divine.
As the month of the Quran is with us, let us connect to the Giver and the Book Given. Let us remember that since the birth of every son of Adam, the call to prayer is recited. Since these very first few moments on earth, the Light of Allah shared in the ear of a child illuminates the love and presence of Allah in the child’s life and forms a connection to Ar Rahman as he/she was in the womb. May this month serve to strengthen this connection and act upon His book as Imam al Ghazali reminds us that “those who hold it (Quran) firm found guidance and those who acted upon it got salvation.”
Let us Muslim brothers and sisters take these last few days of this divine month to get closer to our Rabb. Our Creator, Designer, Maker and Divine Care Taker. He is indeed in control and promises to near those who near Him, correct our matters if we seek Him, get His increase if we are grateful and ever responding to those who call Him. Let us increase our heart-to-heart conversations with Him. We make great efforts with the creation to understand them and create bonds, let us make these efforts and more to understand and deepen the connections with our Creator.
May the words of our Rabb transcend our understanding. May it move our hearts and grant us clarity of mind in practicing this gift of peace that has been bestowed upon us and make us increase in His remembrance. May we grow in patience, govern our emotions and feel empowered to overcome any challenge that we are faced with.
May Allah make this Ramadhan for you and all your loved ones one of Quran, supplication, mercy and forgiveness. May Allah keep our intentions pure, see Him in all we do and accept all we do in our desire to near Him. May He grant us our deepest duas and give us the strength to remain patient through His answers and keep our heart grateful and at peace for whatever He decrees.
And finally we accept the reality that none of us knows if we will see another Ramadan. So let us take the moments we have today to strive for the understanding, mercy, forgiveness and pleasure of our Rabb. There is nothing more worthy of our concern and effort than this.
Ramadan is a spiritual-uplifting moment of reflection. A duration of reviving and purifying our scarred hearts as we witness the altering seasons of humans and their actions that either causes us pain or happiness on a daily basis. It is a time of unity with our loved ones, close and far remembering our Creator through dhikr, supplication, fasting, reading Quran, prayer and giving charity.
When we fast, we develop a compassion of those who are deprived of food and how to endure it patiently. Ramadan is a shared humanitarian experience and we do it out of deep sincere love for Allah the Almighty being grateful to everything he has blessed us such as food, water, health, money and shelter which we often take for granted. It ultimately elevates our awareness and dependence of Allah the most High for his mercy and justice. Fasting elevates our minds above our bodies and cultivates our souls, hearts and mind with peace, love, faith and wisdom to attain moral excellence and consolidate our realisation of our purpose in life and how we see the world around us.
"O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness of God" (2:183).
Besides its emotional and spiritual effects, it also allows us to develop a healthy lifestyle to improve our health and well-being. For instance, fasting enables our bodies to eradicate the harmful dietary toxins that are accumulated in our digestive system. It also increases the levels of the mineral called magnesium which is essential for our heart and prevents complication. It can also improve our sleep and memory.
The essence of the month of Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid giving thanks to Allah for the training and blessings we were given to discipline ourselves, develop empathy for the poor and allow us to become better individuals from a physical, intellectual, emotional, social and humanitarian perspective.
It's Ramadan and for me and muslims alike, we have been fasting. It's not been easy, but it does get easier and it's definitely rewarding.
Here are a few things that this month has taught me - some are random but definitely worth mentioning!
1. I cannot make samosas - Now, hold your horses, I can, ahem, cook them. What I mean is actually making that triangle shape...mine just doesn't work, the edges don't meet and there are holes! But never fear, I've heard you get better with practise.
2. Patience - Fasting really reinforces that notion of patience because we have to 'let go' for a time of so many things we think is impossible to live without, like food and water! This isn't only things like food and water, it goes further to include things such as manners. For example because the month has been described as a month of reflection, when you are speaking with someone and they annoy you, whilst fasting, you are more aware of what you are saying because of what ramadan means. So rather than putting that person in their place, like you would normally do, you think before you speak! We should really do this anyway, but because it's ramadan we are extra aware of things like this and then try to become and stay a better person throughout the rest of the year.
3. Thankfulness - I've realised that we have so much to be thankful for. This laptop I'm using to write this post on, the money I saved to buy it, the hours I worked to save for it, my job, - none of it would be possible without help. And what I'm describing to you is material, but it goes further because we have our health, strength, senses, legs, families, beds, shelter....the list is endless. So stay thankful. It also helps us to remain humble people and realise the importance of helping others - we don't know the situation other people face. So lets say thank you and alhamdulillah more often!
4. Life goes on - So there I am sitting at the desk helping a customer whilst at the same time, there is a thunderstorm in my stomach. And here it is, I may be hungry for a short time, but that doesn't mean the world stops for me. In the same way, there are people going hungry, like people who actually have no choice but to stay hungry, and still we live our lives. This really isn't meant to be in a horrible way, what I'm trying to say is that we keep doing the things we do, living whilst there are really people out there - and 'out there' doesn't just mean other countries, but also your own country, the city you live in - who are homeless, hungry, poor, have lost their families and homes, yet we carry on with our lives as if it's all the same. We have to stop and think about this, seriously.
5. Be less judgemental.
6. And lastly, there are some amazing people out there! Ramadan is a month where we reflect upon ourselves, and in doing this, it often brings out the good in people. It's about self-improvement.
But most of all, it makes me realise that we don't have to behave like this only for ramadan - we should constantly seek to improve ourselves and ramadan is the beginning of that!
So everyone, muslim or non-muslim, lets take something good from all of this. Pick something good and make it a part of your life. It's one small step that can lead to many more. It doesn't have to be something huge and can include things such as:
- smiling often,
- saying thank you,
- holding the door open for someone,
- volunteering to help
- picking a dangerous object from a path and moving it out of harms way,
- donate books to a school, shop or library,
- donate old clothes to charity,
- contribute to a charity - even if its only a penny - and if you can't give money, simply promoting it could be your form of contribution because through you, someone else might donate!
See what I mean, we don't have to go out of our way to make this happen. Lets keep it simple.
The driver pulled up in front of our hotel as the ithan of Asr echoed across Medinah. My son rolled our suitcases across the sidewalk into our hotel’s opulent marble lobby. Lining the edges of the lobby were cozy plush green couches trimmed in golden brocade. The brass handrail perched on the marble staircase glittered as the light passing through the crystals of the perpetually lit chandelier pinged off its surface. The smell of bokhoor (incense) filled the air as we plopped onto the couches while my husband checked us in. Our hotel was only two blocks from the gates of the Prophet’s Masjid. We got to our room on the 9th floor to find a beautiful view of the 9th floor of the hotel across the street.
What a change Medina had gone through over the years. It’s so sophisticated now. Gone are the quaint privately owned Dars. The Haram was now surrounded by towering hotels. Contrasts such as the Hilton next to an equally large Dar At Taqwa reflect the ever changing world we live in. It had been more than 17 years since I last had Iftar at this special place. I sat under the umbrellas as they closed slowly with the setting of the sun and the call of the Maghreb prayer. I was a tiny dot in the sea of fasting Muslims who sat waiting for the moment to plunge into a cup of dates, yoghurt, sweet breads, fruit, juices and other delicious foods which had been donated by various individuals and companies to the pilgrims who had gather and spread out across the massive marble courtyard that surrounds the Masjid.
It was my destiny to wonder through gate 11. I passed row after row of women who had come to pray A’sha Prayer with their children and extended family members. I continued until I passed into the section at the front which is reserved for women without children. Bouncers, who had no other job but to enforce the statement on the sign scrutinized the line of sisters for any stowaway children. If you get there shortly after Maghreb you will find some spots open. We squeezed into a row and greeted the sisters around us. One was from Medina another from Egypt, yet another from Sudan.
It was after Fajr prayer that I realized gate 11 was the location for the women who wanted to visit the Rawdahhttp://abdurrahman.org/umrah/rawdah-madina.html. The Rawdah is a special place located between the house of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and the pulpit where he gave his khutbahs. This special place is said to be a little piece of paradise where your duas will be answered. It is located in the men’s section and so they clear out the men three times a day (Fajr, Zuhr and after Taraweeah) and create a makeshift tunnel for the women to enter into the Rawdah.
The Haram has hired several female guides speaking various languages to try to organize the gathering crowds of women. Their aim is to try to manage the sisters into groups according to language. I found the English and French speaking sisters were to collect around the sign for Africa. I took my seat and waited for our guide to explain what we were supposed to do. She gave a very informative lesson about Tawheed and then explained that if we wanted to pray in the Rawdah that we should do it first thing. The neeyah for prayer should be as for any nawafal prayer i.e. Doha, Salat Al Istikarah, Qiyyam etc. Your objective in the Rawdah is to make dua and to send your salams to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم . We are not to pray to the Prophet but send our salams without involving shirk. Since the best time for dua is in sujud and salams to the Prophet are said in Tashahud, two rakats of prayer would encompass all that we would want to do in the Rawdah.
The groups were of varying sizes and our guides tried their best to quail any stampedes which were always on the edge. All it needed was just one renegade sister making a quick dash to set a wave of sisters racing for Rawdah. The guides lined up continuously motioning us to remain calm. It’s understandable. Sisters, who have waited a life time to come to Medinah, are unable to control their emotions once they lay their eyes on the place where the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم is buried. As we waited for our turn I, looked up and saw through the spaces in the ceiling the famous green dome of the old Masjid. It was nearly invisible from outside. The old decorations on the pillars and the ceiling were traditional hand painted patterns. Except for the electric wires and fans which have been added to accommodate modern times, the old Masjid reminded me of traditional ones lost in time in Egypt. What a contrast to the fancy brass and marble decorations in the newer sections which also sport enormous domes which slide open so quietly that you are unaware they’ve moved until you feel that sweep of air as the heat rises towards the void in the ceiling. Opening the ceiling allows the air in the Masjid to freshen up.
When our turn came, we entered semi-orderly into the Rawdah where the red carpet changes to green. In sujjud, if you have enough presence of mind, you make your duas for family, friends and Ummah. It was a special moment; the kind that stays with you for a lifetime. For a moment, an instant in time, I stood with a mix of women, a global representation of His slaves in a little piece of paradise calling upon my Rabb. Al hamdullilah for the blessing.
At the end of the Day, to HIM is our return. Success comes to those who strive hard and glad tidings is for the Muhsinoon who will be the dwellers of the best of the destinations without ANY DOUBT!
One of my favourite aspects of Ramadaan is undoubtedly Taraweeh salaah. Here in the southern hemisphere, where we’re currently experiencing winter, to see people leave the warmth and comfort of their homes, venture out into the cold, and gather in the musjids in the stillness of the night....Standing shoulder to shoulder, united in takbeer, united in rukhu, united in sujood, listening to the melodious recital of the Quraan in Shah-rul-Quraan! Taraweeh truly reminds me of the Hadith of Nabi(saw) where he said, “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other.” The Prophet then clasped his hands with the fingers interlaced (while saying that).
[Narrated by Abu Musa, Bukhari:626]
For me, nowhere is this more visible than in congregational salaah.
And whilst nowadays there is a definate shift towards masaajid being more inclusive of women, as women ourselves who wish to attend, we should also ensure we do our part to maintain this inclusivity. The musjid that we attend has a beautiful area dedicated to ladies. It is clean, well-maintained and very welcoming. That being said however, nothing is more distracting during Taraweeh salaah than hearing children misbehave.
And before I’m chastized for saying this, let me clarify. I don’t mean a baby/ young child crying, I mean children really misbehaving! Running, screaming, fighting, jumping, singing ect… So I’ve put together a few tips to make Taraweeh more enjoyable for the mums, by ensuring their kids are appropriately respectful during the salaah, which will in turn ensure that female participation within the musjid is always welcomed.
1. Introduce your children to the musjid at an early age. In this manner, its never a ‘new/foreign’ space. Children, especially young babies are also incredibly sensitive to atmosphere, and so automatically attune to what’s acceptable. If children are only introduced to a musjid environment later, their excitement at being in a new area can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, which leads them to be loud and hyperactive. Personally, Little Man has been attending Taraweeh salaah with me, since he was 8months old. Little Miss began attending when she was just over a year old.
2. Speak to children about the etiquette of a musjid BEFORE you get there. This should not be a once off talk, but constant gentle reminders. ‘We use our whispering voice during salaah’ or ‘Remember people go to the musjid to pray salaah, not to run and shout’ ect.
3. Be well prepared! This has almost become a constant mummy-mantra for me. Take ‘quiet’ toys with to alleviate the boredom, and so the children are constructively occupied. My kids favorites include cars, legos, colouring-in books, and small sturdy puzzles. We have a little bag, called our ‘Musjid Bag’ filled with these.
( Fellow blogger Fatima at Jumbish has a fanstastic roll-up which would be stunning to take with to the musjid for Taraweeh. Find it here )
4. Take a few snacks with. Little Miss’s current favourites include biscuits, peanuts, or any type of fruit. If at all possible, try to open packets, boxes ect at home, and de-can into a container that’s suitable for Little People. This prevents a pack of peanuts from flying all over the musallahs! Also, if you know that your children are going to very likely fall asleep during the salaah, take their blanket with. Trust me, nobody minds a little one sprawled out on the musallah asleep. Last year, Little Miss often fell asleep, and I would marvel at the sweetness of that sleep. Dreaming about beautiful, wonderful things whilst the Words of Allah were being recited.
5. And perhaps most importantly, be flexible. Whilst there is undoubtedly great rewards in performing the sunnah of Taraweeh salaah, know that if your children need you in that moment, it IS okay to delay your salaah, and sit with your child. Simply listening to recitation of Quraan, has great virtue as well!
This is the month of Mercy, and Allah Ar-Rahmaan, the Most Merciful, judges our actions based on our intentions.
1 Kg Chicken Fillet - cubed
2 Tb Portuguese Spice
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1 Tb Crushed Garlic
2 Tb Lemon Juice
1-2 Chopped Green Chillies
2 cups Boiled Spaghetti - chopped
2 rounds Feta Cheese - cubed small
1 bunch Fresh coriander
30 ml Milk
1 egg - beaten
Ramadan is the month where the doors of Jahannum are closed and the doors of Jannah are opened. Muslims all around the globe fast during this entire month hope of earning multiple rewards from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). However, many students miss out their fasts with silly excuses such as “I cannot fast as my exams are coming up” or “I cannot study while I’m fasting”.
Know that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will never let you down when you do anything for His sake. Know that He is watching over you and knows every little struggle you face. Know that He would never burden you more than what you can bear. And whenever you do something solely for His Sake – He will reward you with much more than you would have ever imagined. If you find studying difficult while fasting, don’t give up and continue fasting with the hope that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will reward you abundantly.
Also, during Ramadan, you need to divide time between Ibaadah (worship) and studies. Here are a few tips on how to study smart and worship hard during Ramadan:
· Become a productive Muslim
Productivity is an essential characteristic of a good Muslim. A good Muslim should avoid wasting his or her time and effort in things which do not benefit him or him. And that’s the key to stay productive during Ramadan. Avoid wasting time playing video games, and anything which brings you no benefit. Instead spend your time in Ibaadah, doing useful work and studying well.
· Divide your time.
Ramadan is a month where the rewards of the worship you do get multiplied, so you need to divide your time between your Ibaadah and studies to achieve the best out of Ramadan.
· Make your own schedule or a timetable
Make a schedule or a timetable regarding how you would spend your entire day. This would help you work better and smarter! Just make sure to follow your schedule strictly, Insha’Allah.
· Create your own goals.
Have short-term goals in Ramadan which will help you achieve your long-term dream – whether it relates to studies, Ibaadah or housework. Maintaining goals helps to remain productive throughout the month of Ramadan.
And last but not the least – Try completing as much of your studies before Ramadan begins so you can spend more time doing Ibaadah!
May Allah help us to make the best out of Ramadan and accept our deeds. Aameen.