Teensie-Weensie Reminder (Day 9): Time to assess our Ramadan…- Part 2
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
“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]
Don’t we want to be amongst those that are successful?
15) The Month of Silence
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:
[*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.