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Posts from the ‘Recover Ramadan’ Category

5
Apr

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 17: Remember that zakaah and sadaqah are not limited to Ramadan…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Remember this series? The last part discussed khushoo (humility) in prayer.

Salaah (prayer) is the second pillar of Islam. After this comes the zakaah (the obligatory charity).

[Note: It is zakaah and not zakaat. And while we’re having a language lesson, I’d also like to point out that “namaz” is an Urdu/Farsi/Turkish word, not an Arabic word so could we please stop using it in the English language? Baarakallahu feekum.]

Prayer is the right of Allah, whereas zakaah is the right of the slaves of Allah.

Allah has mentioned salaah and zakaah together 82 times in the Quran (according to Shaikh Saleh Al-Fawzan), thereby showing how intertwined these two really are.

So it’s strange to find people who pray but do not give zakaah. [Of course, it’s even stranger to find people who give zakaah but do not pray!]

If one wants to be a complete Muslim, one should fulfill both the rights of Allah and the rights of creation. Safeguarding one’s prayers and paying the zakaah are the first steps towards that.

I’m completely useless with the fiqh (jurisprudence) of zakaah so I won’t even go there. [I studied it 4 times and it just keeps going above my head.] You may find many resources here though.

However, I’d like to point out the following important points:

1) Zakaah is obligatory but sadaqah (charity) isn’t.

Zakaah is a bit like the five obligatory prayers and sadaqah is a bit like the voluntary prayers, in the sense that you have the obligatory part for everyone and you also have the voluntary part for those that want to go the extra mile.

2) Zakaah is not necessarily due in Ramadan. It is due when one (lunar) year passes on the wealth.

 You might have multiple times where you pay zakaah during the year as you might have zakaah due on different things.

4) Zakaah and Zakaatul fitr are two totally different things.

The former is due after one (lunar) year. The latter is due at the end of Ramadan and is paid in the form of food.

5) Zakaah is not due on everybody. It is only due on those who fulfill the required conditions .

6) The one who doesn’t pay the zakaah out of stinginess is a major sinner. However, the one who doesn’t pay the zakaah because he doesn’t think it it obligatory is a disbeliever.

7) Zakaah can only be given to one of eight categories of people, whereas there is no restriction on who sadaqah can be given to.

Apart from the fasts and the night prayers, what also distinguishes Ramadan from the other months is the brotherhood (which is shown through the zakaah and sadaqah). So we need to extend this brotherhood to the other months as well.

Unfortunately, one of the issues that we’re facing today as an ummah (nation) is that the money flows in during Ramadan and all the people in need get enough.

However, in the other 11 months, the well seems to dry up.

Why is that? Well, I guess it’s the same reason that some people pray only in Ramadan but not outside of it.

The reason is that they don’t understand the Names and Attributes of Allah, nor do they know about His Rights. Due to this, they cheat themselves by only worshipping Him during Ramadan.

So, it is incumbent for the one who is truly sincere in worshipping Allah that he does so 12 months a year, not just one!

So we not only need to work on improving our prayers but we also need to be more consistent in giving charity.

An amazing story of consistency in giving charity would be Shaikh ibn Baz (rahimahullah). I heard that he gave so much charity that he never paid zakaah (because his wealth did not fulfill the conditions as he gave it away before the year passed), subhan Allah.

Insha-Allah, in the next post of this series, I’ll clear up some misunderstandings that people have about charity.

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26
Mar

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 16: Remember that khushoo is attainable…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about how important the salah (prayer) is.

There are two aspects of the salah: the outward actions and the inward actions.

The outward actions (i.e. that of the limbs and the tongue) all have to be in accordance with the salah of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam).

What about the inner actions? Well, that would be the actions of the heart.

That’s where the khushoo issue comes in. Khushoo, simply put, is the humility that one feels in salah.

You know, it’s that feeling. We all read about it and dream of attaining it. The key word here is dream.

Many people just think “Insha-Allah, one day I’ll pray with khushoo” and don’t take the steps that are necessary to achieve it.

What kind of steps do we need to take?

Well, I think that can be divided into two parts:

1) Just before and during the salah.

2) Outside the salah.

As for the first part, that involves many steps. I’ll just mention one.

Pay attention to what you are saying.

Yes, that’s it. Just focus and try to ponder over what you’re saying. Remember that Allah is watching you.

Just try this simple step and see how it goes. Whenever I focus on the salah, I get a different feeling.

In order to do this, you’d have to 1) understand the words of salah and 2) mix it up once in a while.

Mix up what, you ask? You know, vary the short surahs after Al-Fatihah (it doesn’t always have to be Surah Al-Ikhlaas, you know) and the various adkhar (supplications) in rukoo (bowing) and sujood (prostrating).

That was the easy part. The second step is much more difficult.

See, khushoo in salah is ultimately attained by having khushoo outside of it.

The reason that it’s so difficult for us to remain focused on Allah for a mere 15 minutes is because many of us don’t focus on Him the entire day.

How is it that we can forget about Allah for the whole day and then expect to be close to Him in prayer? Do we really think it’s as easy as flipping a switch?

No, it isn’t. The person who has forgotten Allah outside of prayer will not be allowed to remember Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that.

We all claim that the salah is very important to us so let’s ask ourselves some questions:

1) Do we constantly supplicate to Allah to grant us khushoo in our salah?

2) Have we made attaining khushoo in salah a priority in life?

3) Did we try to figure out how we can improve the quality of our salah?

4) Did we try to do some research on some ways that we can attain khushoo?

5) When we pray without khushoo, does it leave us feeling saddened and disgusted with ourselves? Or do we just let it go?

6) Does our entire day revolve around the salah? Do we plan all our days according to the prayer times?

7) Has our salah improved us as people? Has it brought us closer to the Lord of the Worlds?

We need to remember one thing: it is possible to attain khushoo. However, we need to change our attitudes, put in the required effort and keep slogging away until we get there, insha-Allah.

And even if we don’t get there, then at least when we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we can say that we tried.

4
Feb

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 15: Remember you are what your salah is…

Assalamu Alaikum.

Yes indeed. We are what our salah is.

What do I mean by that?

It means that our level of righteousness can be checked by the quality of our prayers.

Allah has mentioned many traits of the believers in the Quran. The first action of the limbs that is usually mentioned is the salah.

Also, the believers don’t just pray, rather they establish the salah and pray with khushoo (humility).

What are the proofs? The Quran is replete with references to the salah. This time I’m not going to provide the references because I’d like you to open up the Quran and search for yourself, insha-Allah.

So, what does all of this mean? Well, if we want to determine how “pious” we are, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

1) Do we consistently pray the five obligatory prayers at their proper times? Do we try to pray them at their earliest times? Do we do the adhkar (remembrances) after the salah?

2) Do we consistently pray the rawaatib (sunnah) prayers?

3) Do we ever pray tahajjud (the night prayers)? Are we consistent? Do we ever pray any of those long Ramadan-type Qiyam Al-Layl prayers outside of Ramadan?

4) Do we ever pray any of the other prayers like Dhuha, the 2 rakahs after entering the masjid, the 2 rakahs after doing wudhoo, etc?

5) Does our prayer resemble the prayer of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)? Do we pray according to the Quran and the Sunnah, or the way that “we were taught”?

6) How much focus do we have in the salah? Do we feel a sense of contentment and joy during our salah? Do we look forward to praying or is it a drag for us?

Yes, I know. These questions are very depressing. It depressed me just to write them but I had do because we all need to ask ourselves these questions.

I’ve noticed that when my salah quality is good, everything in my life is going well. And if the quality sucks, then my life seems very bad.

Think about it and you might realise that it is the same case with you.

One of the reasons that Ramadan is such a nice month for us is because we are so focused on the prayers. Our day revolves around them and we have more khushoo in them as compared to outside Ramadan.

So, we all need to work on our salah.

Why? Because we are what our salah is.

7
Jan

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 14: Remember to ask Allah to…

Assalamu Alaikum.

…keep your heart steadfast.

Why?

Because the heart is something that can change very fast.

A person could be a believer one day and a disbeliever the next.

So, we need to keep asking Allah to keep us steadfast on this religion.

After all, this is what the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) did:

Shahr ibn Hawshab said: “I said to Umm Salamah: ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said most frequently when he was with you?’

She said: ‘The supplication he said most frequently was: “Yaa Muqallib Al-Quloob Thabbit Qalbee Alaa Deenik (O Changer of Hearts, keep my heart steadfast on Your religion).”‘

She said: ‘So I said: “O Messenger of Allah, why do you supplicate so frequently: ‘O Changer of hearts, keep my heart steadfast on Your religion.’?

He said: ‘O Umm Salamah! Verily, there is no human being except that his heart is between Two Fingers of the Fingers of Allah, so whomever He wills He makes steadfast, and whomever He wills He causes to deviate.”‘

So (one of the narrators) Muadh recited: “O our Lord, do not cause our hearts to deviate after You have guided us. [Surah Aal-Imran (3) : 8]” [Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3522. Graded ‘saheeh’ by Al-Albani in Saheeh Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Hadeeth No. 3522]

At these times of great fitnah (trials and tribulations), we need to say this dua more than ever.

Let’s make sure that not a day passes by without us having uttered this dua.

For those of you who want the dua in Arabic, I’ve put the Arabic text as well as the transliteration and translation on my other blog.

25
Dec

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 13: Remember to savour it…

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Qs. Are the Recover Ramadan posts helping you to recover Ramadan? Yes or no? If not, then why not? Answers would be appreciated so that I can improve the content, insha-Allah.]

Savour what, you ask?

Savour our beautiful, wonderful, awesome, fantastic religion, of course.

[Sound familiar? Perhaps because I spoke about this issue in Ramadan. What’s the difference between this article and that one? Well, about 4 months and the content.]

How do we savour it? Let me tell you a story and you’ll understand, insha-Allah.

I met a Muslim sister last year. At that time, she was a brand new, 2 week old Muslimah.

What struck me about her was her reaction to the Islamic  information that I shared with her.

She would get that “Wow, awesome!” sort of expression on her face. You know, it was that “Aw shucks, I can’t believe that I found something so totally supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,  so completely amazing. This is too good to be true but it’s true!!!!” sort of expression.

It’s the kind of expression that tennis players get when they win a grand slam for the first time or lottery winners when they found out that they hit the jackpot. Yes, it was that sort of expression.

I was stunned when I first saw that expression and my amazement grew when I noticed that she reacted that way to all the ahadeeth that I mentioned, no matter what their topic was. Masha-Allah, she LOVED Islam and it showed.

I always thought that I loved Islam a lot, but after I met her, I realised that I was far behind her in that department.

I met her again last week. It had been over a year since our last meeting.

I wondered whether she would be the same. I assumed that the attitude might have lessened as it does for many people when they get over “the initial high”, so to speak.

Nope. She was still the same.

There was a bottle of Zam-Zam on a table nearby so I started to tell her the whole story behind it (with plenty of wonderful diversions, of course). Usually, when you tell Muslims about an Islamic story that they don’t already know, many of them are so busy feeling embarrassed about not knowing the story that they fail to enjoy listening to it.

Not her. She savoured it.

Did that expression come back?

Of course it did.  She looked like she was having a ball throughout the whole story.

When I told her three more stories (the Boy and the King, the Magicians of the Pharoah and the People of the Ditch), it was there again.

I was both relieved and saddened to see her reaction; relieved because it was so satisfying to see someone approach Islam in this positive fashion and saddened because there was still someone out there who loved Islam more than I did. My eyes were happy though as that wonderful expression is a sight to behold.

And may Allah keep her steadfast in her love of this religion.

So what do we need to do? Savour this religion, of course.

When we seek Islamic knowledge, read the Quran, ahadeeth or Islamic history or find out any new Islamic information, we need to approach it the way this sister did: like it’s the most awesome thing that we’re going to find on this planet.

And you know what? Islam IS the most awesome* thing that we’re going to find on this planet.

[*Yes, I know I overuse that word and no, I am not a teenager.]

21
Dec

Project “Recover Ramadan” – Step 12: Start learning about Tawheed

Assalamu Alaikum.

Yes, I keep saying it and I will keep saying it.

Tawheed. Tawheed. Tawheed.

This religion starts and ends with tawheed (worshipping Allah alone).

We were created to worship Allah alone. If we do not know the Names and Attributes of Allah, nor do we know how to worship Him properly, how are we going to be able to fulfill our purpose of life?

Those of you who have studied tawheed will understand the importance of it.

Sadly, those of you who have not studied tawheed aren’t going to understand its importance until you study it. After that, you’ll finally understand why studying tawheed makes a WORLD of difference to your life. (And you’ll also understand why I keep harping on about it and keep nagging you to study it.)

Studying tawheed is something that completely changes one’s perspective and puts one’s heart at ease. It is the solution to all of one’s problems.

The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) focused  only on tawheed for TEN years. How many of us have even studied it for that long?

Many people say “Oh, we know it already.”

You can be sure that anyone who can actually bring himself/herself to utter the above statement has NO clue about tawheed.

And please don’t say “later”. Say “Yes, insha-Allah” and get a book or an audio on tawheed ASAP.

PS. Here are some resources for studying tawheed that I had put up in the past.

16
Dec

Project “Recover Ramadan”- Step 11: Remember that Islam is easy…

Assalamu Alaikum.

“Islam is difficult…” complained a nonreligious Muslim teenager to a Zoroastrian man many, many years ago.

Guess what he said?

“It’s not difficult!”

The teenager was completely stunned at his response. Subhan Allah, when the Muslim said the wrong thing, Allah caused a non-Muslim to say the right thing.

[That teenager is now an adult. And you know her.]

Sadly, there are many Muslims who think the way that teenager did. They think that Islam is some sort of heavy burden. So Shaytaan succeeds in defeating them before they even begin.

The Zoroastrian was right though. Islam isn’t difficult. How can it be when Allah says:

“Allah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful.” [Surah Al-Maaidah (5) : 6]

“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 for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 185]

There is a hadeeth which explicitly states that this deen (way of life) is easy:

The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 39]

This hadeeth shows us that excellence and extremism are not the same thing. Extremism is of two kinds: 1) Being lenient with regards to the religion  and 2) Trying to do more than what the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) did.

Trying to be like the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) is NOT extremism, rather it is moderation.

This hadeeth also shows us that we need to aim for EXCELLENCE step by step.  And guess what? That’s possible.

You know why? Because Islam is easy.

5
Dec

Project “Recover Ramadan”- Step 10: Realise that you don’t have to wait for Ramadan in order to…

Assalamu Alaikum.

In order to what, you ask?

In order to really change your life for the better and do good deeds.

Why not wait for Ramadan? Because we don’t know if we’ll get there. And we’ll also be wasting precious time by just waiting.

Too often, people say: “Insha-Allah, I’ll change in Ramadan or after Hajj.”

To these people, I ask the following questions:

1) If you really want to change, what is stopping you from doing so NOW?

2) What difference does it make whether it’s Ramadan or Safar? Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, not just the Lord of Ramadan or the Lord of Hajj.

3) Will you really be able to change in Ramadan or after Hajj? Chances are that you’ll delay it again. I’ve seen this happen to many people.

So, I advise myself and all of you: let’s do whatever good that we can do now, because we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow. We can plan all we want to for tomorrow but Allah is the Best of Planners.

As the saying goes: There’s no time like the present.

And indeed there isn’t. The past is a fading memory and the future might as well be a fog. The present though is right here with us now so let’s make use of it.

21
Nov

Project “Recover Ramadan”- Step 9: Realise that the grass is greener on YOUR side

Assalamu Alaikum.

There’s this awful saying in English which goes “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

Tommyrot.

That’s what whiners say. However, if we want to be successful in this world and in the hereafter, then we need to think like winners and say:

The grass is greener on MY side. And on YOUR side.

One of the main problems that we have today as an ummah (nation) is our propensity to exaggerate our problems. We all walk around like the moon has dropped on our heads. Unfortunately, this leads to:

1) Complaining about life instead of appreciating the bounties of Allah.

2) Being destructive instead of constructive (point 1 is just one example of many).

3) Harbouring bad thoughts about Allah. How? Well, if we think that we have a sad, bad life, who do you think Shaytaan (the devil) will convince us to blame?

So what do we need to do? Be positive at all times, of course.

a) In the good times, we need to be grateful to Allah (by obeying Him).

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings), but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is indeed severe.”” [Surah Ibrahim (14) : 7]

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