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Posted in April 2019, How have you prepared for Ramadan?, May 2018, Ramadan

How have you prepared for Ramadan?

 

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When will the sweeter air arrive? Where is that sweetness we are searching for? Surely this year my faith and actions should be better than the last… Even with Ramadan literally round the corner yet some of us may feel despair. Instead of feeling ready and joyful at the most beautiful, annual opportunity of the celebration of forgiveness we feel disconnect, enveloped with fatigue and chaos of the rat race, that is life today. How can we release our souls and make our hearts migrate to a better place? Believing something is possible is the first step to achieving it; everything is possible with the permission of the Most Merciful…

1.       INTENTION

Every good thing starts with the best intention so I begin by asking Allah to purify our intention and filling us with authentic knowledge of the aim of Ramadan. What is the purpose of Ramadan? There are many reasons why some people may miss out on the true success and benefit of this month. They may think that:

  1. This month is about spending time cooking and spending time on family gatherings.
  2. It’s a time to appreciate and be grateful for food and to spend money and precious time on lavish Iftar buffets and Ramadan discounts.
  3. It’s a detox month and a time to get fit and healthy.
  4. It’s a time for sleeping and resting because of fasting.
  5. A focus on work productivity and continuing ‘normality’ is the goal of this month.

These are some examples of a wasted opportunity and depriving ourselves of the true benefits of Ramadan. A better intention brings better outcomes; deeper understanding; and greater benefit in sha Allah. What should success in Ramadan look like?

Sincere repentance and the acceptance of our repentance is the ultimate aim of the cleansing and purification that is the essence of Ramadan.

“Did you think that We had created you in play (without any purpose), and that you would not be brought back to Us?” (23:115) 

Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deeds And He is the Almighty, the OftForgiving (67:2) 

“And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)” (51:56) 

Eliminating food, drink and needs makes way for a clearer connection and focus on the true purpose of life. This can be sensed by inner feelings of the heart as a result of external actions of worship that are offered.

‘Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and seeking rewardhis previous sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

‘Whoever stays up and prays on Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of rewardhis previous sins will be forgiven.’(Bukhari and Muslim)

‘Whoever prays at night in Ramadan out of faith and the hope of rewardall his previous sins will be forgiven.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

These three ahadith are specific to Ramadan and these are the three actions we should be aiming to perfect and excel in. Although there is of course greater reward for all good actions in Ramadan e.g. charity, kindness, generosity, Umrah and excellent manners and relationships are all rewarded more, so we should do as much good as possible to gain more reward from the Most Generous. When we work hard on the true aim of Ramadan and reach the end of the month we can wholeheartedly celebrate. We should thank Allah on ‘Eid for His blessing of the ability to understand and work towards seeking forgiveness.

2.       TRUST AND PATIENCE

Life is not plain sailing? Maybe it was not mean to be?! Trusting Allah in less than ideal situations, whilst being happy for what is decreed for us, can be the crux of complete submission that many lack. This is when patience upon Allah’s decree can help us rise:

“We hear, and we obey. (We seek) your forgiveness, our Lord, and to you is the return (of all).”     (2:185).

When we say ‘Allah knows best’ we have to mean it and live it. Being patient upon every hardship, and controlling the tongue, thoughts and actions and accepting the decree of the Most Wise is the cornerstone to gaining wisdom. Strive and demand excellence but do so whilst having a heart and soul empowered and enlightened with the patience and trust in Allah’s decree.

 

3.       PRAYER

This is the basic connection that must be maintained to fuel our hearts, souls and minds and perfecting and strengthening our prayers is vital in the run up to Ramadan. Calling people to Allah and encouraging others to pray is a virtuous deed which brings great reward. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever calls others to guidance will have a reward like the rewards of those who follow him, without that detracting from their reward in any way. And whoever calls others to misguidance will have a burden of sin like the burden of those who follow him, without that detracting from their burden in any way.”(Sahih Muslim). So let’s become the ambassadors of Islam calling others to prayer and goodness truly lighting the way.

preparing-for-ramadan

4.       REJOICE

We should be happy and hopeful welcoming Ramadan with the conviction that it brings mercy and blessings “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Qur’an); —therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass” (10:58) Priorities should be set to make the most of Ramadan. We should count down the days as we approach Ramadan in the blessed month of Sha’baan as we await the moon sighting.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said about Sha’baan: “Do not anticipate Ramadan by fasting one or two days before it begins, but if a man habitually fasts, then let him fast.” Fasting in Sha’baan is a good way of preparing the body for fast and for those that do this habitually. “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast all of Sha’baan, he used to fast Sha’baan except a few days.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

5.        METICULOUS PLANNING AND PREPARATION

Be ahead. Discuss, plan and decide goals for the month, for every day within and thereafter. Regarding the Sahabah, ‘They used to ask Allah the Almighty six months before Ramadan to grant them long life so that they could reach Ramadan and they used to ask Allah the Almighty six months after Ramadan to accept their fasting’.

One Ramadan can make all the difference. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said regarding Talha’s dream, ‘What are you surprised about?’ They said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Out of them both, this one strove harder (in Jihad) then he was martyred but this other one was entered into Paradise before him.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Did he not remain behind him for one year?’ They said, ‘Yes (he did).’ He said, ‘Did he not reach Ramadan, fast and pray with such and such number of prostrations in the year?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘So the difference between them is greater than what is between the heavens and the earth.'(Ibn Majah)

Take in to account what is likely to happen in Ramadan and Eid. Hold a family/group meeting to agree realistic plans and set tasks for all. As with exams or travel plans preparation should be started well in advance. Do the Eid shopping; start packing or preparing; calculate and arrange Zakat; and make up missed fasts if not done already. Set goals and plans for reading Quran, praying the night prayer or family invites in advance. Preparing for Ramadan is the tip of the iceberg and a reminder of the bigger context of why we are here on earth.  “Indeed, the death from which you flee – indeed, it will meet you. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you about what you used to do.” (62:08) “And whatever good you send forth for your souls before you, ye shall find it with Allah. For Allah sees well all that you do.” (2:110).

While on this journey for that final meeting and destination are our plans ready? I pray that the Best of Planners makes this a blessed month and increases us all in goodness in every aspect. I pray that He allows us this opportunity to grow and become earnest beacons of beneficial knowledge and righteous actions that benefit ourselves and others Ameen!​

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Posted in March 2014

Failure is the road to success

Some angles of looking at failure can destroy all inner motivation. Why not teach children that failure is the beginning of the road to success? It’s okay to make mistakes. In fact mistakes can help us grow and develop in a way we may never have imagined. Failing opens up new opportunities to succeed 🙂

failure

 

 

Posted in April 2019, How have you prepared for Ramadan?, Ramadan

The Ramadan Spark

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As an annual opportunity of rejuvenation and reflection draws nearer, the ability to transform your life is within you! In a recent workshop I attended a central basis of vision for a faith based school was coined: ‘Looking back to light the way forward’. With these words in mind I would like to invite you to reflect on last year and your last Ramadan. How can past experiences be used to make this Ramadan better? Which of your weaknesses will you strengthen, and which strength will you capitalise on? How can we teach our youth to value Ramadan to reach greater productivity and success?

This Opportunity

One Ramadan can make a huge difference in terms of rewards, as all actions are rewarded with far greater weight in this month. Choose your goals wisely and strive for them. This month – when viewed through the lens of being an annual celebration of forgiveness and an opportunity or spark to a new start – can transform lives. Do good deeds: your focus may be spreading kindness; giving charity; perfecting fasting; standing for night prayers; Qur’an recitation or cleaning the mosque – everything adds up in the bank of eternal reward from Allah. Nothing is wasted:

And whatever good you send before you for yourselves, you will certainly find it with Allah, better and greater in reward. And seek Forgiveness of Allah. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. (73:20)

When to Prepare

The companions (RA) of the Prophet (SAW) knew the value and virtue of this month. They used to pray for 6 months of the year to live and have the ability to reach this month, and then five months of the year after Ramadan they would pray their actions during Ramadan had been accepted. Preparation of the soul, body and mind is necessary to optimise our worship and actions during this blessed month.

Learning

Through learning we grow and improve. We are all learners and the mindset of growth can lead us to the gates of paradise. Learn something new, and put it in to practice. Memorise more Quran. Learn more hadith. Learn more supplications to seek protection, and to remember our lord always. Learn about the wisdom of fasting, or the biography of the Prophet and his companions; the knowledge of Allah and His creation is unimaginably vast. Learning more deepens our understanding and increases us in reward and faith; It is the first step to lead us to boost ourselves in goodness further, as acting on what we learn helps us rise.

Perseverance through Patience

When facing a challenging day, persevere through patience, strengthening your soul with the belief that the reward of Allah is true and near, and that His decree is just and wise. Strong belief is the key to true success in every month, including Ramadan. Emotional and spiritual fuel comes from knowing our origin and return. In happy times and sad we must remember that to Him we belong and to Him we will return. All praise and thanks are to Him – always.

Remembrance

In Ramadan the energy and empowerment come from within, for we are like blank pure canvases fasting in devotion to our Lord. With every remembrance of Allah – e.g. subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, astaghfirullah – we plant trees and nourish the seeds of eternal fruits in paradise. Remembrance energises and nourishes souls. Let’s begin by remembrance and supplication:

اللهم بلغنا رمضان 

‘O Allah let us reach Ramadan’ (Allahumma balighna Ramadan)  

And know that, ‘Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.’ (13:28)

 أَلَا بِذِڪۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَٮِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ

 

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Posted in June 2018, March 2014, mubarak, Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak!

Is your Ramadan truly Mubarak and blessed? To enjoy the sweetness of celebrating the month of repentance and forgiveness we must use every second of this precious month well. Every action can be turned in to worship and good deeds by intending to do good for the sake of pleasing our Sustainer and Creator. Our souls and hearts can migrate to a place of satisfaction and inner peace when we dive deeper in to following Quran and Hadith…

INCREASE KNOWLEDGE AND GOOD ACTIONS

Make that connection. We should learn and follow the rulings of fasting and understand the importance and benefit of Ramadan. This is the month of Quran, ‘The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran (2:185). Reading books which increase us in beneficial Islamic knowledge and focusing on Quran reading and understanding should be a top priority.

Strive to pray more, ideally in congregation, and make every prayer perfect pondering on the meaning of the words recited. Make effort to increase the night prayer and actively seek Lailatul Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan.

PERSEVERE

Every good deed will be given at least ten-fold reward… Our Lord says: ‘Except fasting, for it is for Me, and I shall reward for it, for he gives up his desire and his food for My sake…’ and the fasting person has two joys, one joy when he breaks his fast and another when he meets his Lord.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Patience and supplication coupled with perseverance is the key to succeeding and achieving that reward; and this opens the doors of mercy.

‘Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.’  (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:153).

REMEMBER TO REMEMBER

 

‘Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace’ (Al-Raʿd 13:28)Only Allah can heal; make easy; alleviate hardship; and provide inner peace. Everything is easy for Him and ‘Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.’ (Al-Inshiraḥ 94:5) Peace comes from within and remembering our Lord, always, whilst walking, talking, eating, drinking, and from morning till night (dhikr and dua 1). This lays the foundation for a constant connection and strong relationship with our Lord.

SUPPLICATE

There is no shame in asking or begging from the Most Merciful. Hope and the belief that perfection, excellence and Ihsan is possible is a powerful way of strengthening our heart and its connection to the Most Powerful. For a strong believer laziness and pessimism should not be an option. Everything can change because Allah is the Most Powerful and He has the ability to transform the universe and every single creation within it. No job is too small or too big to expect from Allah, so we should ask with 100% certainty that He (Al Mujeeb) can and does respond.

We should learn and use the duas2 specific for fasting like for breaking the fast we say:

ذَهَبَ الظَّمَأُ وَ ابْتَلَّتِ الْعُرُوقُ، وَ ثَبَتَ الأجْرُ إنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ

Dhahabadh-dhama’u wab-tallatil ‘urūūqu, wa thabatal arju inshaAllah

The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah [Ta’ala] wills.
(Abu Dawud)

For seeking forgiveness on the last ten nights of Ramadan whilst seeking Lailatul Qadr we say:

اَللَّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ ، تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي

Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni’ “

O Allah You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.

CONTROL THE SELF (NAFS)

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray Qiyaam and get nothing from their Qiyaam but a sleepless night.” (Ibn Majah). The unfortunate ones who waste the mercy and benefit of Ramadan return back to square one. We know that satanic influences are weaker in Ramadan and there are less temptations. For those that live an empty, fruitless Ramadan, ‘Eid becomes rife with sin and disobedience. If we decide to use this month to repent and transform our minds, hearts and lives we can become blessed. Giving up bad habits and adopting good habits is achievable for all. When we know ourselves and our heart we can begin to feel and strive for Taqwa and khushoo (God consciousness and sincerity).

None of us control the circumstances we find ourselves in when we wake up, or even whether we will wake up or not; yet we do make our own choices every day and try to feed our sense of control. By submitting to the commands of the one who blessed us with life and the ability to choose we can choose to make our Ramadan Mubarak for us.

“Help each other in Al Birr and At Taqwa (virtue, righteousness & piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah…” (Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:2)

Controlling the self includes avoiding activities that take us away from the true purpose of Ramadan. Every single second should be spent wisely to gain in good with the realisation that the currency of life is time — and time is fleeting.

I hope Allah blesses our time and forgives our shortcomings. May our lives, homes, surroundings and communities be transformed by His infinite mercy, guidance and blessings. Ameen.