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August 19, 2010

2

Teensie-Weensie Reminder (Day 9): Time to assess our Ramadan…- Part 2

by Umm Muawiyah

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, I’m in a better mood today, alhamdulillah. [Read Part 1 and then you’ll understand what I’m talking about.]

I’ll try not to be catty today (at least not as much as yesterday). Yes, I’ll be Umm Muawiyah and not Umm Meowiyah.

[And I’ve learnt my lesson about writing when I’m half-asleep.]

So, where am I headed with these reminders? The first few were on where we should be going (i.e. aiming for the top), the next few will be on where we are today (i.e. our totally sad state of existence) and the ones after that will be some practical tips on how we can go from being the losers that we are today into being the winners that we want to be.

If we want to be the winners in the hereafter, we don’t just dream about it. We need to be obsessed with attaining it, do dua consistently, make a plan for getting there and then stick to the plan as much as possible. As I keep telling my students: “Paradise is not just going to fall into our laps. We have to earn it.”

So, now that 9 days have passed, let’s continue with our Ramadan assessment:

10) The Month of Istighfaar (seeking forgiveness)

Doing istighfaar is something that is a trait of the true believers.

The whole irony is that the more one increases in good deeds and decreases in sins, the more need one will feel to do istighfaar. And the more one increases in sins and decreases in good deeds, the less need one will feel to do istighfaar.

How so? Because the more one increases in taqwa (piety), the softer one’s heart becomes, the more one fears Allah and realises one’s own shortcomings.

As for those who sin constantly, their hearts are close to dead so they don’t even realise that they need to turn back to Allah.

So, did we increase in istighfaar in the last 9 days?

If we sinned, did we rush to repent? Or did we just brush the sin off as a “little” thing?

This is the month where the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are closed. The Most Merciful is even more merciful in this month.So why aren’t we taking advantage of it?

11) The Month of Patience

As I mentioned here, there are three types of patience:

a) Patience upon doing good

b) Patience upon refraining from evil

c) Patience in the face of trials and tribulations

The greatest form of patience is the first one. The next level is the second one and the least form of patience is the third one.

Many people are always surprised to hear this because they assume that the third one requires the most form of patience.

Why should it? After all, Allah says:

“Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease.” [Surah At-Talaq (65) : 7]

So, there’s nothing great about being patience in the face of trials. As one of my friends said: “Before Allah sends the trials, He gives us the patience (to bear the trials).”

So, were we patient in Ramadan? Patient in continuously doing our ibaadaat? Patient in continuously trying to stop ourselves from sinning?

One of the signs of the believers is being consistent day in and day out with a particular set of good deeds:

Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) had a mat and he used it for making an apartment during the night and observed prayer in it, and the people began to pray with him, and he spread it (the mat) during the day time. The people crowded round him one night. He (the Prophet) then said: O people, perform such acts as you are capable of doing, for Allah does not grow weary but you will get tired. The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small. And it was the habit of the members of Muhammad’s household that whenever they did an act they did it continuously*. [Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth No. 1710]

[*The obligatory acts cannot be left. I believe the hadeeth is referring to recommended acts.]

So, were we consistent with any of our actions in the last 9 days? If not, then why don’t we take an action and be consistent with it this Ramadan and beyond?

This action could be something that you love and something that is easy for you. Start doing it daily and don’t ever leave it, not even for a single day.

For example, if you like reciting adhkar (remembrance) and it’s easy for you, then why not start reciting the adhkar for the morning and the evening (if you don’t do it already)? They are SO rewarding and help protect one from many evil things. So, start doing it and make a firm intention to do it every single day until you die.

12) The Month of Gratitude

Allah says:

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar; Allah is the Most Great) on seeing the crescent of the months of Ramadan and Shawwal] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.[Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 185]

Notice how Allah mentions that we should be grateful to Him for having guided us, in the same ayah where He states that the Quran is a guidance and was revealed in Ramadan. As I said yesterday, this is the Month of Guidance and because of this guidance, we need to turn to Allah in gratitude.

Gratitude is not just a statement of the tongue, rather it is an act of the heart and limbs as well.

What is true gratitude?

Mughira ibn Shuba reported that Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alaihi wasallam) worshipped so much that his feet were swollen. It was said to him: (Why do you undergo so much hardship despite the fact that) Allah has pardoned for you your earlier and later sins? Thereupon he said: Should I not (prove myself) to be a grateful servant (of Allah)? [Saheeh Muslim, Hadeeth No. 6772]

Sadly, there are very few grateful servants of Allah. Allah says:

“But few of My slaves are grateful.” [Surah Saba (34) : 13]

“Truly, Allah is full of Bounty to mankind, yet most of mankind are not grateful.” [Surah Ghafir (40) : 61]

So, in the last 9 days, did we behave like the few who are grateful? Did we ask Allah to make us of those few?

If not, then we need to start acquiring this trait of gratitude.

Patience (sabr) and Gratitude (shukr) go hand in hand. We are grateful when things are going well and we are patient when things are not. So a believer lives between patience and gratitude.

13) The Month of Love

Love? Yes, love of Allah.

We all say it but actions speak louder than words, don’t they? Did we prove it?

In the last 9 days, did we prove to Allah that we love Him more than anything else? Did we ask Him to make us love Him more than anything else? Did we do what He loves so that we would be amongst those that He loves?

To be loved by humans is a measly thing.

To be loved by Allah is a fantastic thing. If one is loved by Allah, then one is not in need of anything else after this.

These days, we have a new phenomenon: social networking sites. People use facebook, twitter, blogs (uh…), etc. Why? Most of them want to have a large social network. They want to feel loved. Do you know why? Because they do not love Allah and He does not love them, therefore their hearts are empty and they need something to fill in the void.

A few years ago, in Ramadan 2007, I was busy with my ibaadah so I barely checked my email. I didn’t care who was trying to contact me. When the ibaadah level dropped, I would check my email more frequently, hoping to see that someone had emailed me.

That’s when I realised that when one has a connection to Allah, one doesn’t feel the need to have a connection to anything else. However, if this connection doesn’t exist, the heart feels the effect and tries to compensate for it by having other types of lesser connections.

Look at the Sahaabah (radiallahu anhum). They faced so many hardships. So many of their loved ones died in front of them. Did ANY of them ever fall apart? No, because ultimately the one great love of their life was Allah. They did love their family and friends but their love for Allah was much greater.

“And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more. If only, those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 165]

“Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqoon (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah).” [Surah At-Tawbah (9) : 24]

So, in the remaining  days, let’s develop our love of Allah. We don’t need all those social networking to make us feel like a million dollars, because being loved by Allah will make us feel like a gazillion dollars.

14) The Month of Dawah (calling to Islam)

I put up a post about this today.

This is the month where the devils are chained up and people’s hearts are soft and more receptive to the truth.

Did we take advantage of this in the last 9 days? When we prayed in the masjid, and saw someone making a mistake in prayer, did we take a chance to correct them? Or did we think that it was none of our business?

Enjoining good and forbidding evil is a sign of the believers:

“The believers, men and women, are Awliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin Al-Maroof, and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar; they establish the Salaah and give the Zakaah, and obey Allah and his Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” [Surah At-Taubah (9) : 71]

“Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining Al-Maroof and forbidding Al-Munkar. And it is they who are the successful.” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 104]

Don’t we want to be amongst those that are successful?

15) The Month of Silence

Ah yes.

I mentioned that evil acts like backbiting figuratively nullified the fast:

Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 3, Hadeeth No. 127]

Nothing spoils our hereafter like our tongues and there are many ahadeeth which allude to this.

The silent one is the successful one:

Abdullah ibn Amr narrated the Mesenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) as saying: “Whoever is silent, is saved.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 2501. Graded ‘saheeh’ by Al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmidh, Hadeeth No. 2501.]

Ironically (or maybe not), the earlier nations were required to be silent when fasting!

It was said to Maryam (radiallahu anha) after she gave birth:

“So eat and drink and be glad, and if you see any human being, say: ‘Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.'” [Surah Maryam (19) : 26]

In his tafsir, Imam Ibn Kathir said: “The meaning here is that in their law, when fasting, it was forbidden for them to eat and speak”.

[And we thought that our shariah was difficult?]

So, did we control our tongues in the last 9 days? Did we try not to backbite, to slander, to carry tales, etc? Did we try to tell the truth at all times? A Muslim needs to be truthful even when joking.

So, this Ramadan we need to really work on our tongues. They need to be kept busy with dua, adhkar and reading the Quran:

Abdullah ibn Busr narrated that a man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, indeed, the legislated acts* have become too much for me, so inform me of a thing which I should stick to.” He said: “Let not your tongue cease to be moist with the remembrance of Allah.” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3375. Graded ‘saheeh’ by Al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3375.]

[*By this, he means the recommended acts, not the obligatory ones.]

16) The Month of Health

Yes, we’re actually supposed to get healthier this month.

Ramadan is the month where our bodies are supposed to get stronger, not weaker.

So, in the last 9 days did we feel healthier? More alive? Or did we feel exhausted?

I think many of us have a problem in the way we approach fasting. We think that it will make us weaker, therefore we feel weaker. Had we had a more positive approach, then I think we would all have ended every Ramadan healthier than we were in Shaban.

17) The Month of Activity

Looking at the Muslims today, nobody would think that this was the month of Activity.

After, we all sleep so much during Ramadan.

Did we get more active in the last 9 days? Or did we become shells of our former (Shaban) selves?

You know, many of the major battles of Islam took place in Ramadan! [Imagine, they got to do two great acts of worship together: fasting and jihad.]

So, what did we do in Ramadan? What did we accomplish in the last 9 days? Or did we delay everything until after Ramadan, because we would be more active then?

We don’t have to use the checklist to depress ourselves. Rather it should be used to motivate ourselves for the remainder of Ramadan.

Is this is the end? No, Part three is coming tomorrow, insha-Allah.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Reader
    Aug 19 2010

    “…Because they do not love Allah and He does not love them, therefore their hearts are empty and they need something to fill in the void.”

    They do not love Allah? I think, one shouldn’t be judgemental.

    Allah does not love them? Talking on behalf of Allah?

    P.s. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) probably had the largest social network (correct me if I’m wrong).

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 20 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Jazakillahu kheira for your comments. I will would like to make a few points though:

      1) If you write a comment, then please be brave enough to use your own email address and not mine. It seems that you didn’t want to be recognized. Why? Is it because I would have recognized your email address (your IP Address shows that you live in the UAE).

      If you are asked to write YOUR email address, then don’t you think that typing my email address in the box, constitutes as lying?

      I’ll assume that as you typed in this comment at 3:30 in the night, you made a rash decision. Please don’t do it again.

      2) Yes, you’re right. That might across as judgemental. Please forgive me for that.

      However, do you not think that you too came across a bit judgmental in your comment? Please remember that I’m writing these posts late at night and I don’t have anyone to proof-read these and point out these issues. That’s why I rely on reader feedback. I don’t mind negative feedback, which is why I approved your comment. However, I do mind my email being used to write comments.

      3) You seem to have misunderstood the part that you quoted and that’s my fault because I should have been clearer.

      Prior to the part that you quoted, I wrote:

      “These days, we have a new phenomenon: social networking sites. People use facebook, twitter, blogs (uh…), etc. Why? Most of them want to have a large social network. They want to feel loved. Do you know why? Because they do not love Allah and He does not love them, therefore their hearts are empty and they need something to fill in the void.”

      Firstly, please notice that I said people. By this, I was referring to both Muslims and disbelievers. I thought that was obvious but apparently not.

      Secondly, please notice that I said “most of them”. Not everyone who uses these sites has an issue with his/her iman, nor did I claim such a thing.

      I made a general statement about a specific trait that people possess. I did not pinpoint a person by name, because to say that Allah does not love such and such Muslim would not be permitted for me to do. In fact, when I gave the example of a person who allowed themselves to forget Allah due to these sites, I gave my OWN example, not anybody else’s.

      Thirdly, how do we know that Allah does not love a person? And how do we know that He does not love them?

      Well, Allah says:

      “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 31]

      The scholars called this the ayah of the test because it tells how to know if we really love Allah or not.

      Does Allah love the disbelievers? No, He does not.

      The ayah right after the above states:

      “Say (O Muhammad): “Obey Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad).” But if they turn away, then Allah does not love the disbelievers.” [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 32]

      Amongst the people there are those who call themselves Muslims, yet never pray and spend all their time on these sites. Do they love Allah? According to the first ayah, then no they don’t because their actions speak for themselves. Does Allah love them? No, because Allah loves those who truly love Him and this true love is not a mere utterance rather it has to show in our actions.

      Fourthly, I want to ask you: Are these sites MOSTLY used for good or evil? It’s obvious that most people use them for doing things that are displeasing to Allah.

      “And Allah does not like the Mufsidoon (mischief­makers).” [Surah Al-Maaidah (5) : 64]

      However, there are many people who are using these sites to do dawah or to keep in touch with family and friends. It was obvious that such individuals were not being referred to.

      4) Judging by your last sentence regarding the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), it’s obvious that you completely missed the point that I was trying to make. Again, this is probably my own fault for not being clearer.

      I never said that a person who has a “large social network” is not loved by Allah. On the contrary, one of the signs that Allah loves a person is that he causes the people of the earth to love them. So, those whom Allah loves generally will have a lot of people who love them. This is why the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) had such the “largest social network” as you put it, because he was the most beloved of Allah’s servants.

      However, how did he (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his companions (radiallahu anhum) and those like them get their social network? Did they make this their aim?

      No! Their aim was to please Allah because they truly loved Him and in turn Allah blessed them in this manner.

      Don’t many of the people who use these sites try to acquire as many friends or followers as possible? So, in quite a lot of cases, people attempt to gain the love of the people, rather then trying to gain of love of Allah, and then being blessed by the love of the people as a result. I was referring to the former type of people, not the latter.

      5) I was specifically referring to social networking SITES so your example of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) was somewhat off, don’t you think?

      I hope that my comments have clarified things for you. I’ll be clearer next time, insha-Allah and try to avoid blanket statements. From your side, please make sure never to use my email address for typing in a comment, otherwise I won’t approve it.

      Also, if you’re going to ask others to have husn adh-dhan (good thoughts) about others, then I think it’s best that you follows your own advice first, otherwise people might not take you seriously.

      Again jazakillahu kheira for your advice.

      Reply

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