Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Posts tagged ‘Ramadan’

Open Up To The Possibilities

Open up to the possibilities

‘What are the possibilities presented by this situation?’

I remember I was once asked by a psychotherapist, ‘why was I so excited and looking forward to Ramadan?’. A month of no-eating! I thought, hmm … how do I answer such a question? Do I go into the features and ruling of fasting in Islam? What clever, intellectual explanation do I give?

Then  I decided on giving my personal reason, away from any fancy words and concepts.

My personal reason at the time was ‘connection’. Ramadan was a time when I felt more connected with myself and my soul. The times of Iftar when the whole family comes together to break their fast was time to connect with my family. The whole fasting and worship experience made me feel more connected to Allah.

While fasting the month of Ramadan is a pillar of Islam and has many cultural practices involved in it, it is a personal experience. You make of it what YOU make of it!

Here is where stories from the Quran can give us a glimpse of our person choice and attitude. They are gateways to change our attitude to open our hearts to the possibilities that Allah presents us through what we call life. Because life happens! An attitude change that could add so much to our lives and Ramadan is a fantastic time to practice it.   (more…)

All Change!

Hopefully the change will bring out our hidden better self

Muslimah etc.

Have you heard the hadith ?When the month of Ramadan enters, gates of Paradise are opened, gates of Hell are closed and devils are chained.? Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim? A question that comes to mind when this hadith is read: ?Why is it that we are struggling with our acts of worship or bad habits even though the devils are chained??. One response is: ?Because Shytan (the devil) has trained us so well throughout the year that we are on auto mode now!?. Have we paused to consider that change may not be happening because of us and not the commonly blamed reasons of family, credit crunch, weight etc?

Do you really want to Change?

Actions are by intentions. So what is our intention from making a change? Is it coming from within us or something that has been imposed by others? Do you feel that you have to…

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You are asking the King of Kings 

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This Ramadan Muslims in the UK are fasting a long day; around 19 hours. It sounds daunting and may seem like an impossible task to some. Let me assure you that having fasted two days so far, it is manageable. From experiencing previous Ramadans I can tell you that it does get easier; the body gets used to less food and changed pattern of sleep.

Interestingly, as the physical load of food and sleep reduces I find that my soul begins to emerge and take more of a centre stage. I find that interacting more with the word of Allah, the Quran, and having those conversations with Him through more prayers, my soul feels soothed and my love and trust in Allah is building.

What an opportunity to increase also increase in dua (supplication). Talk to Allah about what is on my mind and in my heart; what’s bothering me and what is bringing me joy. I ask for patience to overcome the challenging times and acknowledge and express gratitude for the good times and blessings.

{And when my servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon me. So let them respond to me [by obedience] and believe in me that they may be [rightly] guided.} (2:186)

Remember to also ask for the goodness of this life and the after. We don’t only have needs and desires but also aspirations and ambitions.

{And among the people is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world,” and he will have in the Hereafter no share. But among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”} (2:200-201)

Ask, you are asking the King of Kings.

…………………

If you are struggling in the asking or want to elevate your dua, I highly recommend Visionaire programme. It is starting soon so check it out now.

Today is a Gift, That’s why it’s called the Present

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Let’s continue our journey with the Quran during the month of Ramadan. A lunar month is 29 or 30 days and that is decided by citing the moon of the new month. The Quran has 114 chapters (surahs) in 30 parts so it makes good sense to decide to read one part a day to complete the recitation of the whole Quran in the month of Ramadan as was mentioned in a previous article.

Something caught my attention in the first part. There is a sentence that was mentioned three times (Sahih International translation):

Verse 2:38 {We said, “Go down from it, all of you. And when guidance comes to you from Me, whoever follows My guidance – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.}

Verse 2:62 {Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.}

Verse 2:112 {Yes [on the contrary], whoever submits his face in Islam to Allah while being a doer of good will have his reward with his Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.}

Fear will not befall these group of people and neither will they grieve and be saddened not just on the day of judgement but also in this life. In another verse in the Quran (10:62) it is the awlia or friends of Allah who are granted these blessings. The protection from fear and sadness are great blessings.

One fears something that is happening now or expected in the future; it could be real or imagined. Life is full of uncertainties and responding with fear of the unexpected has become a normal response. You may call it being prepared for worst case scenarios or simply not wanting to be complacent.  But what happens when this preparedness turns into a desire to control? What happens when ‘not being complacent’ becomes ‘not being content’?  What happens when fear turns into a suffocating anxiety?

Sadness is linked to the past: a missed opportunity or a regretful action and the frustration could be expressed as anger.  Sadness and the baggage it comes with are like a ball and chain.  Can you imagine the difficulty that person would find in moving forwards or even sideways with their life. Whenever they are presented with a glimmer of hope they respond with a ‘but’. They are totally drawing from their previous experiences and making direct links.   I wonder if what they are doing is using their pessimism to sustain their failure norms.

So if I am not constantly worrying about the future neither lamenting the past, I only have the present to be in. Make the most of now. I trust that Allah is my lord who created me and knows what is best for me. Whatever action I take it is by his will and mercy and my reward is with him. I have no control over the outcomes other than attaching my heart and hope to him alone.  Then is there a sense is being sad for what had passed? I can only reflect and seek forgiveness for myself and others. The reality is that the granting of that forgiveness is linked to my sincerity because Allah is the most generous and kind.

Going back to the verses, each has a different context and I encourage you to read the commentary and explanations in books of tafsir like Ibn Kathir’s . The theme that I can see is when these people accepted the guidance and took action they were granted protection from fear and sadness. The guidance is given in the Quran and the Prophetic tradition. As a Muslim, it is of paramount importance that I learn the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).  Knowledge cannot sustain itself and only bears fruit when acted upon.

Recharge, Renew and Reconnect … Ramadan 2015

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Here we come again to the month of Ramadan. The 9th month in the Islamic hijri calendar.  A month in which Muslims are obliged to fast; that is they abstain from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to sunset.

Ramadan is also the month of the Quran; it is when the Quran was sent from the preserved tablet to the lower heavens in its entirety then gradually revealed to the prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) over 23 years.

In Ramadan, the prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) would recite all the Quran revealed to him thus far to the archangel Gabriel. Later on the companions who were present during this recitation were instrumental in helping the Muslims put the Quranic verses and chapters in the order we find now.

Ramadan is the month of Quran because Muslims aim to recite the whole book in this month carrying on the tradition of the Prophet reciting the Quran in this month and seeking the reward that is multiplied for good deeds carried out during the month of Ramadan. Indeed, it is a blessed month.

It is affirmed in the prophetic tradition that the reward of reciting the Quran is incredibly generous; not counted per line or word but per letter, 10 folds. So reciting the shortest chapter (surah) of Al-Kauthar could earn its reciter 410 rewards.

I find it even more mind boggling that this is only entry level reward because it is accessible to any Muslims who has a basic ability to read Arabic.  Those who persevere despite the difficulty they find are given the good news that their efforts will be recognised with additional reward.

The Quran is the word of God (Allah); a book of guidance to humanity. Along with the teachings of the prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), it is a direct access to what Allah wants to teach us about ourselves, our roles and responsibilities and matters of the unseen. One does need to be a qualified scholar to deduce Islamic rulings from the Quran and prophetic tradition. But anyone can reap the benefits of pondering on the words of Allah with an open heart.

Let’s make this month an opportunity to recharge our faith, renew our intentions and reconnect with our purpose of creation: to worship none but Allah.

Reflections on Ramadan 2013

In the spirit of preparing for the coming of the blessed month of Ramadan I reflected on how last Ramadan went and lessons learned. Hand on heart, I would say that it was one of the best I have had in years. Not just in making the most of the month itself but also in keeping the blessed effects beyond that one month.

I believe that there were three main reasons for this improvement and making the most of the blessed month of Ramadan 2013:

1. The bestowed success (tawfique), mercy and blessing of Allah the most high

I believe it is Allah who inspires us to do good and sends his angels with His mercy and protection. Somewhere along the way I shifted from regretting the missed opportunities and rush and exhaustion experienced in one previous Ramadan to wanting to be and do more. A shift of mind and heart and a utilisation of limbs. Gratitude be to Allah.

 2. Preparing and planning

I went through notes from previous courses on the month of Ramadan. I also attended a course that I felt covered an aspect that I personally needed at the time, the spiritual meaning of Ramadan: Fasting, your metamorphosis by Sheikh Abu Nahla at Noesis Institute. I sat with myself and made a plan but this time kept it really simple. My personal objective was to focus on simple, sustainable actions that would feed me spiritually.

3. Striving

There is no point of a plan if it is not actioned! Say bismiallah (in the name of Allah) and go for it. Review and adjust as needed but keep moving forward. Expect it to be tough, it is a challenge after all. What better challenge than to remove those obstacles that put distance between you and your Lord. I had the opportunity to go on Itikaaf for the last five days of Ramadan with Shiekh Akram Nadawi, organised by Muslim Education & Outreach Cambridge (MEOC).  It was a tough yet immensely rewarding experience.

Maybe you’ve come across this article as a prompt, reminder, a little nudge to start preparing. A word of advice, intend Allah then take action straight away.  Go sign up on to that course you’ve been thinking about; fast tomorrow especially if it is Monday or Thursday to physically prepare; download that dhikr app so you are ready to begin in increasing your remembrance of Allah; if you’re about to do your Ramadan shopping include healthy options and maybe alternatives. Note that action does not need to be grand. Whatever is suited to your circumstances is a good start.

I say a good start because once you take the first step, the path will lead you to the next one, God willing. Productive Muslim have began a Ramadan Series where you will learn and can implement so much.  There are loads of resources out there, just resist the temptation to be a spectator!