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August 18, 2010

10

Teensie-Weensie Reminder (Day 8): Time to assess our Ramadan…- Part 1

by Umm Muawiyah

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Okay, a little apology before I begin. It seems that some people really liked the last couple of reminders. However, one should not have high expectations for every post.

This is going to be a simple, possibly drab post and might be more negative as compared to the earlier ones. I say what I have to say and I’m not going to go out of my way just to please any readers who might be expecting great posts.]

[A note: I haven’t added any references for some of the things that I’ve mentioned because: 1) It’s already late and I’m tired and 2) These things are well-known. However, if you want the references then please feel free to ask because it is your right to do so.]

So, we’ve finished 8 days of Ramadan now (less if you’re in other countries).

8 days.

8 days.

8 days.

Is it just me or does that sound like far too much considering the fact the Ramadan seemed to start just yesterday?

I had all these high aims but the first week of Ramadan has been a disappointment for me. I didn’t do all the things that I set out to do. Perhaps some of you might have the same issue.

So, what do we need to do?

We need to check and see what we did do, what we didn’t do, and what we need to do in the next 21-22 days.

If you’ve skimmed my blog, you might have noticed a category that states “Ramadan: Month of…”. There are lots of subcategories below that.

So, insha-Allah, I thought I would review our Ramadan in the context of these subcategories:

[Note: the subcategories are in alphabetical order but my list is not.]

[I’m just going to list a whole lot of questions that we need to ask ourselves.]

1) The Month of Tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)

A question to you: Do you know what tawheed is? Do you know its types, categories and nullifiers? If not, then why not?

Tawheed is the right of Allah over His slaves. Only the people of Tawheed will enter Paradise. So if our aim this Ramadan is to get granted Paradise, we should be spending our time on the main thing that gets us there.

All the acts of ibaadah (worship) that we practice are ways of applying tawheed. It’s as simple as that.

So, the question is: Did we increase in our knowledge of tawheed in the last 8 days? Did we increase in our application of tawheed in the last 8 days?

Do we love Allah more? If so, do our actions show that?

Do we fear Allah more? If so, do our actions show that?

Do we rely on Allah more? If so, do our actions show that?

What we need to do in the next 21-22 days: Spend some time every day to learn about tawheed (if you need resources, feel free to ask). Also, we need to let this knowledge reflect in our actions.

2)  The Month of Taqwa (Piety)

Allah tells us that he prescribed fasting for us so that we could become pious.

So, did we become more pious after fasting for 8 days? Did we feel more conscious of Allah?

Did we strive to do more good deeds?

Did we try to stop our bad habits?

You know, I read an article where a scholar said that we shouldn’t be in Ramadan the way we are in the other months. That statement has haunted me ever since I read it.

Why? Because if I don’t change in Ramadan, then when will I change? It’s easy to change in this month. If we can’t change when the conditions around us are good, do we really expect to change when the conditions get tougher?

By the way, increasing in taqwa means increasing in tawheed. It’s as simple as that.

3) The Month of the Starting Afresh

Everyone yearns for a new beginning. We all have days where we wish we could just erase the past and start over.

Well, Ramadan is the month where we can start leading a new life.

Did we take this opportunity? In the last 8 days, did our actions show a person who was looking to change? Or did it show the same old person who you looked at in the mirror 8 days ago?

4) The Month of Guidance

Ramadan is the month where the Quran, the book of guidance, was sent down.

We need guidance more than we need food and water.

Without food and water, we’ll die.

Without guidance, we’ll be in the eternal Hellfire.

Guidance is the greatest gift anybody can ever get. How do we get guidance? Well, by asking Allah for it and by seeking knowledge so that we can know truth from falsehood.

So, in the last 8 days, did we increase in guidance? Did we increase in asking Allah for guidance? Did we increase in our desire to be guided?

5) The Month of Fasting

Fasting is the only thing that some people associate with Ramadan. Unfortunately, they only view fasting as an act done by the stomach.

Yet, fasting (sawm linguistically means abstinence) is supposed to be done by all the limbs. The heart needs to fast as do the eyes, and the hands and the feet, etc.

So, did our limbs fast? Did they abstain from evil deeds? Did they strive to please Allah in these last 8 days?

6) The Month of Salah (prayer)

Allah has ordained two acts of worship in Ramadan: one for the day which is mandatory (fasting) and one for the night which is recommended (the night prayers).

Everyone knows that the salah is an integral part of Islam, especially in Ramadan. Yet, we still find people fasting but not praying??? I can’t understand how these people think. Or perhaps it is that they just don’t think. If they had used their brains for a grand total of 2 minutes, they would have realised that there was no use fasting without praying.

If Allah says that He has no need for our fasting if we don’t give up vain talk, do these people think that He will have any need for their fasting when they leave the second pillar of Islam???

I sometimes wonder how a Muslim can leave even one prayer. I used to be very lackadaisical about my prayers many years ago, because at that time I was an ignorant idiot whose heart was dead. Now, the thought of missing one prayer scares me more than being imprisoned in an Israili jail. The first one I have to answer for, the second one I don’t.

Now, you might say: “Well, I pray 5 times a day!”

Okay, then here are a few questions for you:

1) Do you pray them all at their earliest times?

2) If you are a brother, then do you pray all of them in the masjid, considering that it is at least recommended and probably obligatory (when all the evidence is considered)?

3) Do you understand everything you say in prayer?

4) Do you feel any khushoo (humility) during prayer?

5) Do you enjoy praying? Is it something you look forward to?

6) Do you pray the recommended prayers and pray them consistently? For example: the 12 rawatib, the nawafil, dhuha, tahajjud, the two rakahs after wudhu, etc

7) Do your prayers cause you to be more obedient to Allah outside of them?

If you don’t do all the above (and many of us don’t), then did we start doing any of them in the last 8 days?

Did we feel ANY change in our salaah? Do we feel like we have a connection with Allah?

If we don’t enjoy praying in this month, then when do expect to find this enjoyment??

7) The Month of Dua (supplication)

Right in the middle of the ayaat (verses) of fasting and Ramadan, Allah mentions that He is close (in His knowledge) and asks His servants to ask Him.

So, in the last 8 days did we ask? And did we ask the way a servant should ask (i.e. beg)?

When I compare my Ramadan this year to the Ramadan last year, I realise that I asked a lot more last year. However, when I ask this year, I do so realising that it’s a favour from Allah upon me if the dua is accepted. Last year, I didn’t realise that.

So, we need to ask and ask and ask because Allah loves to be asked. By asking Him, we are showing our utter dependence on Him and trying to seek nearness to Him.

Also, if we’ve been asking, then what have we been mostly asking for? The hereafter? Or the dunya?

Also, did we ask Allah to accept our Ramadan? Did we ask Him to make  things easy for us in this month? Did we ask Him for Laylatul Qadr? Or were we planning to do that after Laylatul Qadr had ended?

Also, in the last 8 days, did we make sure that Allah was the first one we asked rather than the last one?

Did we ask Him for every little thing or just the “big” things?

8) The Month of Charity

Giving charity is one of the great acts of worship and the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was more generous in Ramadan than he was in the other months.

From this we can understand that we really need to have this act of ibaadah in our Ramadan itinerary. Also, if we already do it on a regular basis outside of Ramadan, we need to increase in it (and in other acts of worship) during Ramadan.

Remember we shouldn’t be in Ramadan the way we are outside of Ramadan.

[Charity isn’t just limited to monetary charity but that’s another long story.]

So, did we give anything in charity in the last 8 days? Do we have any plans to give in the next 3 weeks?

Brother Taher Khalid (a lecturer here in Dubai) once said that the Muslims are reactive, not proactive. And he was right.

Many people wait for the poor people to come to them. Rather we should go and find out if there is anybody in need!

Also, others think that they have done their duty by offering to give the money to the one in need. They don’t even want to take the hassle of dropping off the money (because the one in need should come to them, right?). Also, they don’t realise that EMOTIONAL support is worth much more than the money that they are offering.

Suppose there is a sister who needs to have an emergency surgery. Someone collects money for her. How many of those who helped out with the financial side will go visit her after the surgery? Most would not because they don’t know her, after all and anyway they had done their job by providing the money.

Sigh. We’re just so pathetic sometimes aren’t we?

So, in the last 8 days, did we try to find any poor people to help? Or were we just twiddling our thumbs waiting for them to come to us?

9) The Month of Brotherhood

As I mentioned above, it’s not enough to help our brothers and sisters financially. We need to help them emotionally as well.

So many of our Muslim brethren are going through sheer hell and what are  we doing about it?

In the last 8 days, did we think about them? Did we do dua for them? Did we try to aid them in any way?

This is an issue which too many of us are lenient about, unfortunately. For many of us Ramadan is just fasting, praying and reading the Quran.

No, it isn’t. It’s also the month where we do more to help our brethren.

Here are two websites run by two sisters:

1) http://globalvoiceforjustice.wordpress.com/

This one is about helping those of us who have been wrongly imprisoned.

Oh wait, we don’t want to get involved with that. What will Mi5 (or whatever the heck that stupid thing is called) or the CIA say? Won’t we be on their hit list?

Uh…I thought we had spent the last 8 days developing our fear of Allah, remember? Do we really care what these pidgeons have to say?

2) http://www.muslimcancersupport.net/

This project aims to support those Muslims who are suffering from cancer.

When I first heard about this project, I was speechless. It was wonderful! Why is it that everyone couldn’t think in such a wonderful manner, I wondered?

This is real brotherhood, when you support your brethren when they really need you.

[For those who might say: “Well I was busy reading the Quran while these two sisters were running these websites!”, I say to you: “While you were busy reading the Quran and doing nothing else, these two sisters were APPLYING the Quran.” May Allah reward all those involved in these two projects and others similar to them. Ameen.]

So, in the last 8 days, did we support any of our brothers or sisters in need?

And did we support them simply because they were Muslims, or because they were from the same nationality as us?

Everyone who knows me knows how much I HATE the word “nationality”. To me, this is a stupid concept. I can’t stand it when we have Pakistanis helping Pakistanis, Palestinians helping Palestinians, Americans helping Americans, Iranians helping Iranians, etc.

WHY can’t it be MUSLIMS helping MUSLIMS?

And if you think that there isn’t a difference between the two cases, then you are WRONG. The latter case reflects loving others for the sake of Allah, something which is praised.

The former case reflects loving other than for the sake of Allah (i.e. loving/ helping one because you have the same stupid passport), something which is from the days of ignorance. And yes, there are many ahadeeth which talk about what an awful thing nationalism/tribalism is.

So, in the last 8 days, did we attempt to like and help people for the sake of Allah?

If you are a Pakistani, did you attempt to help the people affected by the flooding in Pakistan because they were Muslims, and not because they were your compatriots? And would you attempt to help non-Pakistanis in the same manner?

If you are not a Pakistani, then did you attempt to help the people affected by the flooding in Pakistan simply because they were Muslims, even though they were not your compatriots? And if they had been your compatriots, would  you have given them more help? Or would it not have made a difference at all?

These are just some questions that we all need to reflect over. We wasted 8 days already. Are we doing to waste the remaining 21-22 days?

This is the first part of my checklist. Part two will be tomorrow’s reminder, insha-Allah.

[ I know this seems to be a haphazard checklist but currently all my brain can say is “GO TO SLEEP”, so please excuse me. No “brilliant” post today, I’m afraid. Although if it got the message across, then it doesn’t have to be.]

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Faiza Abbasi
    Aug 19 2010

    It seems that you are not too happy about me writing in to comment on your reminders. Don’t worry I do not expect brillance day after day, I’m realistic and I know it is not possible during Ramadan. I the last few posts have touched me and I felt obligated as well as excited to let you know. Hope you get some rest and are back to your postive self soon.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 19 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum Sister.

      Firstly, my comments were not directed at you but at everyone who has commented, along with those who may have felt the same way but did not comment. (You’re not the only one who used the word “brilliant” in the comments.)

      Secondly, I loved your comments. Like all human beings, I like complements now and again.See, when I write a post, and press publish, I really have no idea what the reaction will be. So, your comments did help put my mind at ease so jazakillahu kheira for the encouragement.

      Thirdly, the reason that I put up the disclaimer about that post not being a brilliant one was because of the following:

      a) People tend to have expectations. Perhaps you didn’t expect all the posts to be “brilliant” (I don’t think that they were brilliant, by the way), but someone else might have and eventually they were going to be disappointed because what goes up must come down.So I had to mentally prepare them for what was coming.

      b) Also, I changed the tone because I had being been doing a lot of “positive” posts but I hadn’t done any “negative” posts. And yes, both are required because as Muslims we are neither positive or negative, rather we are realistic. We aim high but we also need to look at the cold hard facts. So, this post was about the facts. And the ones after it will be some rather staid ones with practical tips. So, the comments were a signal that the series style was going to change (but don’t worry, I’ll still try to be positive!).

      c) The last couple of posts were written late at night so when I reread them they really did sound confusing to me but then when I read the comments, I found out that you guys really liked them. This happened for three straight days. You know, I write when I have something to say. I don’t want to beautify my writing because some people might expect that. And that’s what I feel might have happened if I hadn’t put up yesterday’s post and instead had put up another positive piece. Shaytan is always looking for ways to attack us.

      d) You’ve been to my classes so that you know that I can go from encouraging you guys to scolding you all in the same breath. So yesterday’s piece might not have been such a big surprise for you. However, it might have been for those who don’t know me and have only read the reminders.

      So, I hope that I’ve cleared up any misunderstandings. Please excuse me for offending you.

      And yes, I got plenty of rest today and I’m back to my usual chirpy self…

      Reply
  2. Mona
    Aug 19 2010

    it did get the message across and how. jak again. may Allah SWT reward you for your efforts. i’m very inspired mA by your posts. i live on your blog and the links you put up.
    inshAllah, you and i and everyone will make better use of the remaining days of the greatest month.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 19 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      “And how” – Oh dear. Was it too blunt?

      Wa iyaaki.

      Ameen to your nice dua and jazakillahu kheira for the nice words.

      [But please don’t live on my blog…It’s not worth it.]

      Reply
      • Mona
        Aug 19 2010

        walekum as salaam. nope, it wasn’t too blunt at all. it was just the right tone i’d say. we tend to be very complacent and a nudge every now and then is just what we need.
        and what do you mean your blog isn’t worth living on? you’ve got great motivational skills, plus awesome resources. don’t sell yourself short, girl. you’re doing a very good thing here and i know you’ll be rewarded for it inshAllah.

        Reply
        • Umm Muawiyah
          Aug 19 2010

          Assalamu Alaikum.

          Okay, alhamdulillah.

          Er, I meant any blog is not worth living on. It’s just the words of a human, after all.

          I remember asking one of my teenage students how she found my blog. She said: “It was okay.” That made me laugh. My blogs are not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s fine, alhamdulillah. As long as even one person is benefiting from it, then that’s great.

          Ugh…someone else mentions my motivational skills. I think my comedic talent is far superior to that.

          Jazakillahu kheira for all the encouragement. I really do appreciate it.

          Reply
  3. Umm Abdur Rahman
    Aug 19 2010

    Jazaak Allaahu khair, My Sister!

    And may He continue to Inspire, Help and Support you!

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 19 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Wa iyaaki.

      Jazakillahu kheira for the sweet dua, sister. Ameen to it.

      May Allah grant you the same and more.

      Reply
  4. Esa
    Aug 22 2010

    Assalamu alaikum.

    Alhamthuillah, your post was very useful for people like me who just fasting, not doing much on this month.

    It reminds me to use this in valuable month to the most.

    allah will help you continue and pray for you and all

    vassalam
    Esa

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 23 2010

      Wa Alaikum Assalam Brother.

      Jazakillahu kheira.

      Alhamdulillah that the post was of some benefit.

      Ameen to your dua and may Allah grant you the same and more.

      Reply

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