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August 20, 2010

10

Teensie-Weensie Reminder (Day 10): Time to assess our Ramadan…- Part 3

by Umm Muawiyah

Assalamu Alaikum.

[For those of you who haven’t read the first two parts, here you go: Part 1 and Part 2.]

[Just a note: An anonymous person wrote a comment criticizing something that I said in Part 2. I had no problem with that. All comments are welcome.

However, this individual used MY email address when typing in the comment. (You cannot submit a comment without typing in a valid email address.)

That REALLY annoyed me. I don’t mind being criticized but I hate lies and cowardice, especially considering the fact that this is Ramadan.

Why am I telling you all this? Simple. If you wish to write a comment in the future, then please don’t make the mistake of using my email address, just because you want to remain anonymous. You can either create a new email address for this purpose or else please refrain from commenting. If I see that anybody has used my email address for writing a comment, I’ll delete the comment then and there. I don’t like dealing with liars and cowards.]

Okay, so now that I’ve said what I had to say (I always say what I have to say, don’t I?), let’s continue with our checklist:

18) The Month of Integrity

Ah. Integrity.

What integrity is NOT: using the blog owner’s email address to write an anonymous comment.

What integrity IS: using your OWN email address to air your comments. And if you happen to behave in a manner other than that, then you should be willing to apologize. [Yes, this individual really did annoy me. May Allah forgive her.]

In the last 10 days, did our integrity improve? Were we honest in our dealings?

Do you know how Islam spread to places like Indonesia and Malaysia? Through honest Muslim traders. The people of those lands were totally amazed at how honest these individuals were with their business dealings.

I’ll tell you two stories that happened to me:

1) Many years ago, paid parking was introduced in our parking lot. So, in the beginning (before we all got the parking cards), I used to rush down every hour to get the ticket. Sometimes, I would put in AED 5 for two hours. (AED = Arab Emirate Dirhams.)

One day, I didn’t have any change so I went to the light shop under my house to get change for AED 5. There was an old south Indian Hindu man there. I knew him well because he had worked there for years and I had basically grown up in that building. So I asked him for change. He only had AED 4.75 so I gave him the AED 5 bill and took the change.

That was that, right? I mean, who would care about 25 fils? A quarter of a dirham? He did.

He come up to me a few days later and gave me the 25 fils. I was shocked and told him not to worry about it. He insisted that I take it because he couldn’t keep it. Subhan Allah.

I was so sad that this kind of integrity came from a non-Muslim and not a Muslim. We’re usually too ashamed to even return such a small amount in case the other person laughs at us.

[He left for India a few years ago. If I had to choose one person in the entire world that I would want Allah to guide to Islam, it would be him. I ask Allah by His Beautiful Names that He guide this man to Islam for this act that he did. Ameen.]

2) The second incident took place a few years ago (but a few years after the first incident).

I was attending a Islamic lecture series at a centre. On one of the days, the sister who was in charge of the series called to tell me that she was coming late and asked if I could get the juice. I agreed and got the juice.

When she arrived, I gave her the receipt. It was AED 31.75 or 31.25 (I can’t remember. I think it was the first one though.)

She then gave me AED 30.

Yes, 30. AED 1.75 short (or 1.25 short depending on the amount).

Now, you’re probably like “That’s nothing.”

You’re right. But it’s also 7 times (or 5 times) as much as 25 fils, isn’t it?

I was really disappointed that the Hindu had been so careful about the money but my Muslim sister who was running a lectures series had not cared enough.

And don’t many of us have this issue? We think it’s a small amount so we don’t bother. Every little thing is written in the book of deeds remember?

Many years ago, when I was working in a company, I borrowed a pencil from a colleague of mine. After I finished using it, I returned it back to him*. He was surprised and told me that I was the first person that had returned a borrowed pen/pencil to him.

[*It was a mixed environment and that before I really started practicing. I avoid such places now.]

My first reaction was “Huh?”. People didn’t return what was not theirs? When did this happen?

If it’s not ours, then we should return it to its rightful owner. Otherwise, we will be held accountable.

Also, if we make commitments, we should keep them. This is a sign of the believers (and unfortunately, something that I’m dreadful at as everyone who knows me knows, astaghfirullah. Could you all please do dua that I fulfill all my commitments before the end of Ramadan? Jazakumullahu kheira.)

Allah says:

“Those who are faithfully true to their Amanaat (all the duties which Allah has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts etc.) and to their covenants.” [Surah Al-Muminoon (23) : 8]

Allah also says:

“Woe to Al-Mutaffifin [those who give less in measure and weight (decrease the rights of others)], those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, demand full measure, and when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.” [Surah Al-Mutaffifin (83) : 1-3]

Who is the Mutaffif? Basically, it is the person who cheats others. He/she expects more from others but gives less in return.

[A scholar also pointed out that it is also a person who judges others more harshly than he/she wants to be judged. I  guess that means that most of us are mutaffifin.]

But I don’t cheat others, you say?

Okay, let me tell you a story. One day, I was in the Emarat petrol pump (gas station to the Americans) food store thingy. I bought a sandwich and helped myself to a few tissues. I thought to myself “If the manager saw how many tissues I was taking, he’d be really annoyed.”

And then it struck me. I was a muttafiffah. I was a cheat. If I had been the manager, I would have fumed if I saw others helping themselves to so many tissues because after all, they don’t come for free.

And don’t most of us do this? We help ourselves to the restaurant’s ketchup, tissues, etc. After all, it’s FREE.

Yeah but guess what? The more we use, the more their cost rises. If we were in their shoes, we wouldn’t like it.

Also, how about when we talk to someone over the phone? If we make the call, we’ll try to stick to the point, so that our phone bill isn’t too high.

But if it’s the other person who’s calling, then we just talk and talk and talk and talk. After all, we’re not paying.

So, let us work on our integrity in the next 19-20 days.

[By the way, if we treat others as we expect to be treated, we’ve done the bare minimum. In order to reach the summit, we need to treat others BETTER than we expect to be treated.]

19) The Month of Good Manners

Having good akhlaaq (character) is a great act of worship.

If I started to mention all the ahadeeth that spoke about the virtues of good character and good manners, then I’d be writing this post for a long time.

I’ll mention just one ayah for now (and I’ll put up more resources on this topic tomorrow, insha-Allah):

“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” [Surah Al-Qalam (68) : 4]

Anyone who has read the Seerah (the biography of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) knows the how magnificent his manners were.

So, it is one of the traits that we NEED to have.

In the last 10 days, did our manners improve? Did we treat others properly?

Displaying good manners is not just limited to the time when we meet strangers. We need to behave well at home and outside. We need to behave well with the rich and the poor. We need to behave well in Ramadan and outside of Ramadan. We need to behave well with Muslims and non-Muslims.

I have noticed one thing that most people have in common: they are nice to you if you are nice to them. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re nice, then they are nice.

One day, I asked a Filipina sister what the word for ‘thank you’ was in Tagalog. She told me that it was “salamath”. A few days later, I went to a supermarket that I’ve been going to for years. There’s a Filipina who has worked there for years. And she was the only grouchy Filipino that I knew. (Filipinos generally have wonderful manners. Everyone loves them.)

I bought some stuff and went to the counter. As usual, she looked grouchy. After I took my stuff, I used my newly acquired Tagalog word and said “salamat”.

Guess what happened?

She broke out into a BIG smile. She even gave me a little salute. I was speechless. I hadn’t expected that kind of reaction from her especially considering that I was one of those. (You know, one of those that covers themselves from head to toe in black.)

After my success with her, I kept using this word with other Filipinas and the reaction was always the same. (They also look at my eyes trying to figure out if I’m Kabayan. No, but I love Pandesal and I hate Joseph Estrada. Will that do?)

The point of the above story was not to imply that I have wonderful manners because I don’t. I just wanted to show how we don’t think much of these little things but they do end up making a world of difference.

So, in the remaining 19-20 days, let’s try to be more polite. This politeness should also be there when we email people or SMS them. You’d be surprised at how much you can tell about a person just by looking at a short SMS message!

20) The Month of Umrah

Everyone wants to go to Umrah in Ramadan right?

So, how many of us did dua for it? How many of us took the required steps?

Hmmm…..

Umrah itself has the ability to pump up your iman. So imagine what would happen if we went in Ramadan?

Personally, I’ve always been a bit scared to go because I’m demophobic (I have a fear of crowds). People like me need to try to go in the first few days of Ramadan.

If you’re able to apply for Umrah, then do so.

[To the women: please don’t go without your mahrams.]

21) The Month of Itikaaf

Many people don’t even know what itikaaf is. It’s secluding yourself in the masjid in the last 10 days of Ramadan.

[Can women do it at home? The majority of scholars said no. And when you look at the evidence, you’ll realise that they’re right.]

How many of us practice this sunnah?

In the last 10 days, how many of us have done dua that we do itikaaf this year? How many of us have been mentally preparing ourselves for it?

Believe me, itikaaf is one of the most wonderful things that you can do. If you go, you won’t want to come out.

If you cannot go for the whole 10 days, then at least go for one day or 2 days (that’s what I do although I still dream of doing it for 10 days). Go as a family: the fathers and sons on the men’s side and the mothers and daughters on the women’s side.

It’s amazing how much ibaadah you can do when you’re in the masjid. If we’re at home, we sleep or waste our time, but in the masjid, we’re motivated to do the ibaadah. You’re cut off from this stupid worldly life and it feels wonderful. Every time I come out from itikaaf, I have this big dopey smile on my face because it felt so great.

It’s also amazing how itikaaf improves brotherhood. I still remember all the people who I did itkaaf with. There’s a special bond there.

One of my greatest memories came last year. On my right, a Yemeni sister put her blanket around an ill Indian sister to keep her warm. A few hours later, on my left, a Chinese sister, put her huge sweater around an ill Egyptian sister to keep her warm.

That’s true sisterhood and I’m so glad that I got to witness such a great thing, alhamdulillah.

I would advise everyone (except mothers with young children) to try to go for itikaaf. I’ll be adding a couple of itikaaf resources this week, insha-Allah.

22) The Month of Zuhd

Zuhd is asceticism. It is not to be confused with rahbaaniyah which means monasticism.

Zuhd is basically not be too much into this worldly life. A zaahid doesn’t care too much about the luxuries of this world, focuses on doing his ibaadah and prepares for the Hereafter.

Ramadan (especially when doing itikaaf)  is a great time to practice zuhd, as is Umrah.

We need to do this from time to time, otherwise we’ll get sucked in by the fake glitter of this world.

In the last 10 days, did we attempt to focus less on this world and more in the hereafter? Did we increase in our zuhd?

In the next 19-20 day, let’s work on this aspect. Zuhd is a trait of the believers, and if we don’t acquire it during Ramadan, then when will we acquire it?

23) The Month of Laylatul Qadr

One of the virtues of Ramadan is that it contains this night.

In the last 10 days, did we do dua that we would get this night? Did we try to pace ourselves, so that we would peak in the last 10 days of Ramadan, thereby giving ourselves a good chance of doing a lot of ibaadah then?

This night can be on any of the last 10 nights. (Yes. It can also be on the even nights but the odd nights have more chance of being Laylaltul Qadr).

Let’s all remember something: just praying on this night doesn’t mean that we got it. We get it if Allah accepts the deeds that we did on this night.

So, let’s start preparing ourselves now for this night.

24) The Month of Self-Development

Yup. That’s why we have this month – so that we can develop ourselves.

So did we? In the last 10 days, did we develop at ALL? Or are we still the same people that we were in Shaban?

I have seen many people who are not interested in improving themselves. They are the same people that they were years ago.

We shouldn’t be like this. A Muslim is never satisfied with his level. He constantly strives to improve himself and take his ibaadah to another level.

How do we develop ourselves? Well, practicing the first 23 things on this checklist would be a good start.

25) The Month of the Quran

Why did I leave this for the last considering that this is one of the main traits of Ramadan?

Well, because the reason the Quran was revealed was so that we could APPLY it. Many of us recite the Quran in Ramadan but how many of us apply what we read?

By applying the first 24 things, we would be applying the Quran. That’s what the Quran orders us to do: apply tawheed, have taqwa, establish prayer, give in charity, call to Allah, do dua, seek Allah’s Forgiveness, etc.

In the first 10 days, did we apply any of the ayaat that we read? Did we even attempt to do so?

This was just a little checklist of what we might need to work on this Ramadan so that we can be better slaves of Allah at the end of it.

I wish that I had time to improve the post but I’m afraid that I don’t.

I hope that it was of benefit, insha-Allah, and I hope that we are all able to spend the remaining days of Ramadan in a worthy manner.

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10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Faiza Abbasi
    Aug 21 2010

    Dear Umm Muawiyah, Regarding the person who used your emai address, you wrote “may Allah forgive her”, what about you? Why don’t you forgive her and take into account that she needs guidance. I think I can’t remember anything about Thursday’ blog except that she used your email. Is this not the month of forgiveness, please do not let such readers have this affect and if you really want to help people which I know you do, let it go as you do not want to loose her as a reader if she needs guidance. Forgive me if I have offended you but I also took offence to sooo many things in my youth, instead you could take it as an opportunity – help her and gain sawab?

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 21 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      I put in the “May Allah forgive her” for precisely the reason that you mentioned – because this is the month of Mercy. [Oh and I included the part about her in the Month of integrity as a touch of sarcasm. Didn’t work apparently.] I think doing dua for a person constitutes as trying to forgive her.

      I mentioned this in the post because I didn’t want her or anybody else doing this on my blog or anybody else’s blog.

      I’m not concerned about losing anyone as a reader. If they are sincere people, Allah will guide them. Guidance is not the hands of people.

      As I said, dishonesty really makes me angry.

      And please read my reply to her. I made numerous excuses for her in my comments.

      No, you didn’t offend me at all but I think you shouldn’t have included the part about your youth (because the implication was that i wouldn’t have gotten angry if I was older). Sister, getting angry happens to both the old and the young. It’s not just a “teenage syndrome” as widely portrayed. It depends on the person.

      Jazakilllahu kheira for the comments though. I appreciate honesty which is why I liked your comments.

      PS. I also got annoyed because I think I know who the person is. That’s what really made me hit the roof.

      Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 21 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Oops, I forgot to add something.

      Jazakillahu kheira for trying to mend the relationship between your two sisters.

      Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 21 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Sorry, one more point. Please don’t use my real name on the blog (This is for all the people who know me.). I approved the comment without realising that my name was there and then I had to go back to edit it.

      Reply
  2. andulusia
    Aug 21 2010

    jazakallahu khairan for the beautiful and helpful list, mashallah.

    About the odd nights, i once had a discussion about this with a friend. that we are never sure which nights are odd or even because we may have started ramadan a day early or late. Im not talking about whether our ramadan id wrong or not because thats not an issue, im talking abouthow important every night of the last ten nights. I know its confusing what i may be trying to say but hope u get my drift inshallah :)))

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 21 2010

      Assalamu Alaikum.

      Wa iyaaki.

      Yes, I understand what you mean. (Are you sure that I wasn’t the friend that you were talking to…….?) This happened to us in 2006, remember? They declared Ramadan a day early and then we all found out towards the end.

      After that year, I realised that we really should try to do lots of ibaadah on all the last 10 nights.

      Reply
  3. shahnaz
    Aug 21 2010

    Jazakillah for the Teensy- Weensy 3 Part Reminders.

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 21 2010

      Asslamu Alaikum.

      Wa iyaaki.

      Reply
  4. shahnaz
    Aug 22 2010

    Assalamu alaikum

    The series on Wimbledon and Ramadan was very good, though I am not a Tennis fan. The format was very comprehedible and ofcourse, Insha Allah the further Parts will be useful.

    Jazakillah

    Reply
    • Umm Muawiyah
      Aug 22 2010

      Wa Alaikum Assalam.

      Jazakillahu kheira.

      Insha-Allah, they’ll be useful.

      Reply

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