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Posts from the ‘Countdown to Ramadan’ Category

27
Jun

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 3

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Okay, I have a question: How many of you are trying to follow these habits?]

Now, you might be thinking “Hey, she didn’t say ‘Choosing the third habit'”.

True, I didn’t because I chose it based upon the first two polls. This habit came in second both times.

And I mentioned it in yesterday’s post.

So what is the third habit?

Reciting at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those who don’t understand Arabic).

Okay, let’s take this step by step:

1) Why is this not a habit in the lives of many Muslims?

If one reads the lives of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (radiallahu anhum), we would find that they were attached to the Quran.

And this is something that most Muslims know so why don’t they attempt to be like this?

Well, if I had to guess, the following reasons might be amongst those that keep us away from the Quran:

a) The Shaytaan

You know, the devil is not dumb. He knows the powerful affect that the Quran has on a person so he tries his utmost to keep us away from it.

b) The lack of understanding leads to boredom.

Sad but true.

Most people don’t understand what they read which is why they really don’t want to read any further.

c) Difficulty in reciting the Quran.

Surprisingly this might be one of the main reasons why many eager beavers, who want to recite the Quran, don’t recite much – because they have great difficulty in doing so.

Spending 1 hour in trying to recite a few ayaat (verses) can be exhausting. However, remember that it is also highly rewarding.

d) Looking for inspiration in the wrong places.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I’ve noticed that many people tend to seek out blog posts and inspirational lectures when they are depressed.

Just a question: Why is it that they don’t turn to the Quran? Is there anything more inspiring than the words of the Lord of the Worlds?

Also, listen to this short lecture that I linked to earlier.

e) Seeking advanced knowledge whilst leaving the basics.

I remember one of my teachers pointing out that the Quran was the foundation so we should make more of an effort to keep in touch with it.

I’ve seen many students who regularly attend Islamic classes but have not memorised more than Juz Amma.

Why is that? Why aren’t we focusing on the Quran, on it memorisation and on its explanation?

f) Not understanding one’s priorities.

It doesn’t matter how much work you have, you are still required to keep in touch with the Quran.

If one doesn’t regularly recite the Quran, one is considered to have deserted it.

2) What are the difficulties people face in reciting the Quran daily?

I mentioned two of the reasons above: lack of understanding and difficulty in recitation.

Another reason might be not dedicating a fixed time to reciting it. It doesn’t have to be an hour. You could start with 5-10 minutes and then work your way up from there.

3) What can one do in order to make this a habit?

Right, here are some tips:

a) Decide when and how much you’re going to recite and stick with it.

Do you want to do it after Fajr? Or before sleeping? Or after lunch?

[Note: It’s much easier to recite on an empty stomach.]

How much will you recite? Try to make it at least a page. If that’s too much, then at least half a page.

b) If you don’t understand Arabic, get a nice translation.

You could try to get a word to work translation as well.

Of course, this is just a temporary measure until you understand Arabic.

[Oh and you can also use a Quran journal whilst you read so that you can record your questions, thoughts, etc.]

c) If you can’t recite properly, get some tapes of a good reciter.

Or as I said yesterday, you could use http://tanzil.net as then there’s no need to buy any tapes or translation.

d) Do dua and stick to the rountine until it becomes a habit.

Try and try until you get there.

Let’s try this for two weeks, insha-Allah.

Do any of you have any tips? Feel free to share, insha-Allah.

PS. Has everyone gone for away for the summer holidays? Certainly looks like it…


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13
Jun

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Okay, the majority of you chose “Controlling the tongue as much as possible” as the second habit that you’d like to work on before Ramadan.

[Oh and we’re still continuing with Habit No. 1, remember?]

So, here are some tips to help us all do that:

[More tips will be found on the Daily Dose blog. I’ll also be posting Quranic ayaat and ahadeeth that relate to this topic, insha-Allah.]

1) Be serious about achieving this goal.

That should be obvious but many people are not serious which is why they fail!

2) Do dua

I always say this and I’m saying it again. Dua. Dua. Dua.

Believe me, there is nothing like it.

3) Ponder

Ponder over the great virtue of those who control their tongues and also ponder over the many stories in the Quran and the Sunnah about the people that got thrown into Hell because of their big mouths.

4) Try until you die

Yes, that’s what we all have to do. Just keep going on until it’s over…

5) If you mess up, seek Allah’s Forgiveness

You know, we’re all humans so we all end up making mistakes. So no matter how hard we try, we will fall flat on our faces one day.

Now, will we just stay there in that position? No, we will not. We will get up i.e. we will do istighfar (seek forgiveness) and make a fresh start, insha-Allah, even if we have to do this a thousand times.

6) Be around righteous, silent people

You know, when the person with us talks about good things, we too will feel like talking about good things.

However, if the person with us talks rubbish, we too will eventually slip, let our tongues loose and start to talk rubbish.

7) Take it day by day

Controlling the tongue is one of the most difficult things to do, so we need to approach it on a daily basis.

8) Use your tongue for something useful

We need to do dhikr (remembrance) of Allah, dua (supplication) and say good things (e.g. enjoin good). If we don’t occupy our tongues with something good, then they will get occupied with something bad!

9) Understand what “controlling the tongue” really means

We have been asked to stay away from vain talk. So, what is vain talk?

A lecturer once pointed out that talking to your children (in a kiddish way) might appear to be vain talk but it isn’t because the whole point of the conversation is to build the relationship between you and your children.

So, controlling our tongues doesn’t mean ignoring our children and not talking to them at all.

It also doesn’t mean that we just stare at elderly relatives silently and make them feel uneasy instead of gently trying to talk about halal matters in order to make them feel better.

It also does not mean that we be silent in the face of disobedience to Allah. Shaikh Saad Ash-Shitri pointed out (in his commentary to the 40 hadeeth of Nawawi) that good speech is better than being silent.

So, not all talk is vain talk. Vain talk is that which does not bring us closer to Allah.

10) Remember that your tongue is a window into your brain.

We talk about things that are on our minds so our tongues expose our thoughts.

Let’s all ask ourselves: what is our speech like? Useful or useless?

So, let’s try this for 14 days and see how it goes, insha-Allah.

7
Jun

Countdown to Ramadan: Choosing the second habit

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Remember that we wanted to work on a whole bunch of habits?

We even started a special blog just for that purpose.

We chose to start with staying up after Fajr.

That challenge was supposed to last for 21 days.

As those 21 days are almost up, it’s now time to choose the next habit that we want to work on.

What would you like it to be?

30
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Who’s really counting down?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Allah says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ مِن بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ مِن بَعْدِ مُوسَىٰ إِذْ قَالُوا لِنَبِيٍّ لَّهُمُ ابْعَثْ لَنَا مَلِكًا نُّقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ ۖ قَالَ هَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ أَلَّا تُقَاتِلُوا ۖ قَالُوا وَمَا لَنَا أَلَّا نُقَاتِلَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ وَقَدْ أُخْرِجْنَا مِن دِيَارِنَا وَأَبْنَائِنَا ۖ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ تَوَلَّوْا إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِّنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ بِالظَّالِمِينَ

“Have you not thought about the group of the Children of Israil after (the time of) Musa? When they said to a Prophet of theirs, “Appoint for us a king and we will fight in Allah’s Way.” He said, “Would you then refrain from fighting, if fighting was prescribed for you?” They said, “Why should we not fight in Allah’s Way while we have been driven out of our homes and our children (families have been taken as captives)?” But when fighting was ordered for them, they turned away, all except a few of them. And Allah is All-Aware of the Dhaalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) :246]

So, we are told of a group of Banu Israilis who claimed that they wanted to fight in the way of Allah. However, when the time came to walk the walk (i.e. prove that they were serious), most of them did not do so.

What does that mean? Well, it means that they were just talking the first time around and they didn’t mean what they were saying.

What am I trying to say?

Well, here’s the original Countdown to Ramadan post. Look at how many replies I got. Many people pointed out that they were interested in participating in this challenge.

When we actually started, most of the people disappeared.

Of course, it could be that they are all participating silently, right? Yes, that’s possible.

So, I have a suggestion. For those of you who are really serious about participating, please let us know how you’ve been doing with this challenge.

On the Daily Dose blog, I mentioned how I was doing and asked about everyone else. A sister was brave enough to reply, may Allah reward her. She also mentioned something which helps her to stay awake after Fajr, which is a good tip for the rest of us.

So, any other brave souls out there? If I can do it (and I’m not doing too well with the challenge) then anybody can do it, insha-Allah.

What if you were working on another habit instead? Okay then, why don’t you reply to this post and tell us how it’s going.

Awaiting your replies.

26
May

A new blog: Daily Dose of Iman

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

And yes, it’s my blog (it’s sort of obvious from the name, isn’t it?).

So, what’s this new blog all about? Well, it’s a little brother to this (Ramadan) blog.

The purpose of it is to encourage people to keep continuing with the habits that we’ve chosen to work on.

Yes, I could have written daily short tips on this blog as well but that would mean:

1) That there would be more than one post a day.

2) That I might have to focus solely on these habits and I don’t want to do that. I want to finish  all the other pending series as well!

So, I thought that while we could choose the habits here, we could have the “motivation” part on another blog so that I could post twice a day if required.  Only those interested in forming these habits would subscribe to that blog.

The blog is very simple (almost twitter-like) and quite bare at the moment (only four posts):

http://dailydoseofiman.wordpress.com/

[To understand why I chose this theme, please read this.]

So, what are your thoughts? Do you have any suggestions?

Also, a question for all of you:

a) Would you like this to be a private blog just for the sisters*?

[*This would mean that I am fairly certain that they are sisters. They should also sign up for a free wordpress account. Only 35 sisters can join in.]

or

b) Keep it the way it is (i.e. public)?

The first option would mean a more relaxed atmosphere, of course, as the readers would only be women.

What do you think? Let me know, insha-Allah.

PS. My apologies for not having replied to the comments over the past week. I’ll try to do so tomorrow, insha-Allah.

21
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 1 – Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

5) Steps to be taken to solve the difficulties mentioned above (contd. for Part 1)

c) Remove any hurdles that are present in waking up for Fajr.

Well, there are many hurdles that people face. Different people have different issues. 

I would like to mention one of the hurdles though (and I apologise if it sounds crude but it needs to said) and that is something that many married people (especially newlyweds) face.

Many of them delay doing the ghusl for janaabah (the full bath to remove ritual impurity) until the morning. And what happens in the morning? Well, many of them feel too lazy to wake up and so they end up oversleeping and not praying Fajr. So, I would advise such people to do the ghusl BEFORE they go to sleep.

Of course, someone might point out that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) sometimes did ghusl before he slept and sometimes he did it after he slept which means that it is permissible both ways.

That’s right and I never said that it wasn’t. However, for those that end up oversleeping Fajr due to the ghusl issue, it is better for them to do it before they sleep.

It’s similar to the case of Witr. It’s permissible to do it before you sleep or after you wake up (before Fajr). The best time is at the end of Qiyaam Al-Layl. However, if one is generally unable to get up for Qiyaam Al-Layl then it’s better that he/she prays it before sleeping.

d) Get out of the bedroom and go to the kitchen.

And I say that as a person who loves her room and hates the kitchen…

If we stay in our rooms at this time, then all we’ll be able to see are our nice cozy beds. And after a few minutes of staring at our beds, we’ll hop back in to them.

So, what we need to do is get out of the room and go to the kitchen. [For those of you who live in studio apartments, at least try to move further away from the bed and closer to the kitchen area…]

Why go to the kitchen? Well, because it’s so uncozy (yes, a new word) and so uninviting and it’s also where the caffeine is.

Yes, I know that I said that we need to get over our caffeine addiction but first I think we need to solve the post-Fajr nap problem.

e) Keep blaming yourself the whole day and tell yourself about the amount of time you lost.

Yes, we need to feel bad for wasting so much time sleeping. If we feel bad, we’ll put in more effort to get up and stay up the next morning.

f) Start working on something important.

Have you ever noticed that when our mind is engaged in something, we forget to be sleepy?

So, working on something really important and difficult might stop us from resnoozing (yes, another new word).

Also, for those who wanted to work on the other habits, then the time right after Fajr would be the best time.

If someone spent 15 minutes reciting the Quran after Fajr, then they would also be able to cultivate a habit of reciting the Book of Allah daily.

Also, for those who want to walk daily, then you could do it for 15 minutes and you could recite the morning adhkar (remembrances) at this time.

For the brothers who pray in the masjid, you could use the time between the adhan and the iqaamah for recitation. And if you can’t stay in the masjid until the sun rises, then you could recite the morning adhkar on the way back home.

Also, if you walked or cycled to and from the masjid instead of using a car, then that would double as a form of exercise. And you’d also get lots of fresh air.

6) Suggestions for those people who might not be able to stay awake.

Okay, I think we should all understand something. When somebody makes a general suggestion, it doesn’t have to apply to everybody. A person should be able to know what works for them and what doesn’t.

So, for example, when I spoke about forming this habit, I was NOT talking to all the readers.

Why not? Because for some of them it might be more productive to go to sleep after Fajr.

For example, for those who work night shifts (like doctors), it’s not possible to ask them to stay awake in the mornings because that is their sleeping time!

Also, there might be people who suffer from insomnia. What happens if they haven’t been able to sleep the whole night? They won’t be able to function unless they get some sleep. I know this because it has happened to me frequently.

Also, there might be someone who works the entire morning and studies at night (or vice versa) and they might only get a few hours of sleep in the night as a result of this. So, this kind of person might be more productive throughout the day due to getting that extra bit of sleep.

Now, I mentioned in Part 1 that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked Allah to bless his ummah in the early part of the day and that he himself never slept after Fajr.

So, someone may ask, wouldn’t sleeping after Fajr be opposing the sunnah? Well, no, because they have a valid reason.

Also, sometimes one might give up something good in order to achieve an even greater good in its place.

For example, I recall a lecturer mentioning that Abdullah ibn Masood (radiallahu anhu) used to get very tired when doing nafl (optional) fasts which left him unable to do much recitation (his strength). So he decided to stop doing that, so he could focus on reciting the Quran. So, he left one good thing for another good thing which he happened to be better at.

However, I still have some suggestions for the people mentioned above (those who need to sleep after Fajr):

a) If you work at nights, then try to pray some rakaahs of Qiyaam Al-Layl. Also, try to remember to do dua (last third of the night) and istighfar (the time before Fajr). Also, try to remember to recite the sleeping adhkar and surahs before you go to sleep.

b) Try not to sleep until you’ve recited the morning adhkar.

c) Try to stay awake remembering Allah until sunrise and then sleep after that.

I recall reading that this is what Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) used to do and this is what most of us do when we are in itikaf.

This is because the time between Fajr and sunrise has a lot of virtue (a good time to recite the Quran and memorise it) so it would be better to stay awake during it and sleep after sunrise.

d) For those who might not get the chance to pray Dhuha later, try to stay awake 15-20 minutes past sunrise, then pray Dhuha and then go to sleep.

These are just some suggestions. If anybody has anything else that they’d like to add, then please feel free to do so.

Insha-Allah, I hope that we are all able to cultivate this habit at the end of these 3 weeks.

19
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 1 – Part 1 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Note: Lots of you asked me how my “break” went and wondered if I had lots of “rest”.

Let me be clear: I took a blogging break so that I would have time to do other work. So far from a break, I was actually slogging away!]

So, you voted for the habit that you wanted to change and it seems that No. 1 (i.e. Do Fajr early and don’t go back to sleep after that) wins because:

1) The majority wins

2) As a few of you pointed out, it is the most challenging one. So wouldn’t it be better to start with the most challenging one rather than the easiest one?

3) If we can accomplish this, it will actually help a great deal towards establishing  the other habits mentioned.

4) I wanted to start with this habit. [Look, I run the blog. That has to count for something.]

Okay, so let’s do this step by step:

1) Aim

  • To wake early for Fajr and not go back to sleep afterwards.

2) Length of time

  • To do this for the next 21 days, insha-Allah.

I had originally said 14 days but I think that it might be too short.

Now, you’ll notice that I said “21 days” and not for the rest of our lives. Why? Because it’s easier to focus for 21 days, and then keep extending this time for a few more days. By then, insha-Allah, it would have become a habit.

If we think of this as an “all my life” sort of thing, we will 1) Get exhausted early and 2) Be deluding ourselves as our lives may end before the 21 day time limit. We should just take things a day at a time, insha-Allah.

3) Benefits gained from achieving this objective

  • It’s the sunnah (the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam did not sleep after Fajr, rather he took a short nap in the afternoon).
  • Gain barakah (blessings) as the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked Allah to bless his Ummah in the mornings. [The hadeeth is mentioned in this question. However, I should point out that there seems to be a difference of opinion on the authenticity of this hadeeth. You may check the Dorar results here.]
  • Have more time in the day
  • Have more energy throughout the day
  • Be able to pray all the 5 prayers at their earliest times
  • It will helps us get up for tahajjud. If we can’t get up early for Fajr, then praying tahajjud will be difficult as it’s even earlier than Fajr!
  • Benefit from Ramadan instead of sleeping the whole day (yes, this happens to quite a few people. They sleep after Fajr and get up somewhere towards the end of Dhuhr!)

Any others that you’d like to add?

4) Difficulties that may arise when trying to attain this objective

  • Difficulty in getting up for Fajr to begin with
  • Too tired to stay awake due to a late night and a long day ahead
  • Not being able to do this day in and day out

Any others that you can think of?

5) Steps to be taken to solve the difficulties mentioned above

Okay, so how can we get up and stay up?

a) Dua

Yes. This is the first step that we need to take. We need to ask Allah and keep asking Him to help us achieve this objective

b) Give ourselves enough time to sleep in the night

Firstly, anyone who still believes in that myth about humans needing 8 hours of sleep should be ashamed of themselves. I’m sorry but that’s one third of the day! Did the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions ever sleep that much???

Secondly, what time one sleeps depends on a) when one needs to wake up and b) the type of sleeper that one is.

The adhan of Fajr in Dubai is currently 4:05 am. I am the kind of person who needs at least 4 hours of sleep at a stretch, meaning that if I sleep at 2am, there’s a 99.9999% chance of me oversleeping Fajr. On top of that, I’m also an insomniac.

So, that means that I should at least try to sleep by 11pm (and it’s already 12 as I type this!) in order to get enough sleep.

Of course, sleeping early is one of the main issues that people have due to a variety of reasons (work, children, household chores, too much socializing, etc).

So, at least what one should start to do is try to sleep earlier than usual step by step. So, if you normally sleep at 2, try to sleep at 1:45. If you sleep at 1:30, try to sleep at 1:15. Try to do this (i.e. sleep 15 mins earlier) every few days.

The reason that I mention the step by step approach is that for many people their sleep time depends on when their families sleep. So, if your whole family is the type that sleeps at 1am, it’s going to be REALLY difficult for you to disappear at 11, isn’t it? (Especially if you’re the mother and you need to put the kids to sleep first.)

So, the only way to get the whole family to sleep earlier might be to do it the gentle way (i.e a few mins earlier every day).

Insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll talk about some more techniques that we could all try to wake up for Fajr and stay up.

I would have typed it out now but I need to wake up early for Fajr tomorrow, insha-Allah.

To be continued…

PS. When is the first day of this challenge? Let’s make it from Saturday onwards (day after tomorrow), insha-Allah.

18
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit at a time

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, there are less than 10 weeks to go before Ramadan.

And they say habits take 14-21 days to form (supposedly).

So, if we assume that changing a habit takes 2 weeks, we can change about 5 bad habits to good habits before Ramadan.

So, I thought that perhaps we could all tackle this together because I have a sneaky suspicion that most of us share the same bad habits.

How will this work, you ask?

Well, I was thinking about doing it the following way:

1) I list out a bunch of ideas for the habit that we need to change this fortnight.

2) Everyone votes.

3) The habit that “wins” is the habit that all of us (those that commented) need to start implementing for the next two weeks – for ALL fourteen days. [That’s assuming that you are not already implementing it, of course.]

4) I mention subtle reminders about this habit for the next 2 weeks.

5) At the end of the two weeks, everyone (at least those who want to participate) mentions how they did, what difficulties they had and how they overcame them.

6) After this, we move on to changing another habit.

Of course, this all depends on how many people participate…

So, let me start by listing out a list of habits that we could work on. Whoever is interested in participating should vote for the habit that they’d like to start changing first.

Here goes:

1) Wake up for Fajr (early) and not go back to sleep – If we stopped doing that, we would have loads more time and energy on our hands.

2) Stop the caffeine (tea/coffee) addiction – This way, we won’t snooze through the first week of Ramadan (because our bodies are getting used to the lack of caffeine).

3) Recite at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those that don’t understand Arabic).

4) Pray all five prayers at their earliest times – This is one of the best deeds.

5) Walk for at least 15 minutes – If we need energy, we have to do this.

We can use the Habitator to keep track of our daily progress.

So, what do you think? Which habit should we all start with? I’m inclined towards no. 1 as that will end up helping with the remaining 4 in the long run.