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Posts from the ‘Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip’ Category

28
Jul

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #5: Increase in the voluntary prayers – Part 3

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here are Parts 1 and 2.]

Are there more prayers to pray, you ask?

Of course.

Salah (prayer) is the primary way of applying tawheed (worshipping Allah alone) so there are LOTS of occasions to pray.

Many times, we get overwhelmed by the different types of prayers but we shouldn’t.

Let’s just think of them as even more ways of worshipping and pleasing the Lord of the Worlds.

So what are the other prayers?

Well, at this point, it would be better for a person to read a book on the fiqh (jurisprudence) of salah.

However, I’ll give you a rundown of some of the prayers that we can do in Ramadan:

a) Prayer done after doing wudhu (ablution)

It’s 2 rakaahs and can be done after every new wudhu.

b) Tahiyyatul Masjid

This is the 2 rakaahs that one does after entering the masjid (“mosque”) and before sitting down.

Even if one walks in during the middle of the Friday khutbah (sermon), one should do this prayer and then sit down to listen to the khutbah.

Note: Some scholars consider it obligatory to pray this once one has entered the masjid.

c) Salatul Istighafar / Taubah (Prayer of Repentance)

This is not a condition of repentance being accepted* but it’s always nice to do this after one repents from any sin.

Try it. You’ll feel like a newly hatched chicken.

[*Generally speaking the conditions of repentance from any sin are: 1) Regret committing the sin 2) Stop committing the sin immediately and 3) Decide never to do it again.]

d) Salatul Istikhara (Prayer for guidance)

Once upon a time, people did this for all occasions. At present, it seems that many Muslims only do it when they are making up their minds about the big M.

Note: You need to decide on the issue and THEN pray Salatul Istikhara.

Insha-Allah,  I might mention more about this prayer in a future post because many people have misunderstandings about it.

e) Salatul Janazah (Funeral Prayers)

This one is done in the masjid and it has no rukoo and no sajdah (prostration).

[Those who go to Makkah or Madinah can pray this frequently because Masjid Al-Haram and Masjid An-Nabawi always seem to have funeral prayers after every prayer.]

A small bit of advice: If you pray in a masjid where they pray Salatul Janazah, then try to do it as well. These prayers are one of the things that cause the sins of the dead person to be wiped away (to some degree).

Which one of us would not like our sins to be reduced after we die? So, let’s do this for our brothers and sisters.

[This prayer is really easy.]

What about Taraweeh, you ask?

That goes under Qiyam Al-Layl.

So, let’s make this a Ramadan where we pray more and where we pray better i.e. with more khushoo (humility).

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25
Jul

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #5: Increase in the voluntary prayers – Part 2

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Here’s Part 1.]

[Note: I haven’t mentioned the ahadeeth in this part either. If anyone wants a particular reference, please feel free to ask.]

Okay, suppose you’re already doing the fard and rawatib prayers.

What else can you do?

Note: Once again, you don’t have to do all of them at once. Start step by step and increase in them as much as you are able to do so.

1) Nawafil

These are the supererogatory prayers. [Look, this is what they’re officially called. I don’t even know the meaning of that word.]

They are less important than the rawatib. The four rakahs before Asr fall under this category, as do the two rakah before Maghrib.

The two rakahs after the two rakahs of rawatib after the Dhuhr (that was a mouthful) are also nawafil.

Are there more nawafil? I think so and I also read about there being some differences of opinion on which ones they are. However, these are the only ones that I am sure of.

As for the four rakahs that many people pray before Isha, I tried to find the evidence for it, but thus far have been unable to do so.

There is evidence for two of those rakahs, if they are prayed between the adhan and the iqaamah (as there is a well-known authentic hadeeth on this issue).

If anyone has more information on this issue, then please do share it with us.

2) Dhuha

This prayer starts about 20 minutes after sunrise and ends about 15-20 minutes before Dhuhr.

The minimum number of rakahs is 2.

What about the maximum, you ask? Well, there is a difference of opinion on this. Some scholars say 8, others say 12 and yet others say that there is no upper limit.

If you’re not sure, don’t exceed 8 rakaahs.

The best time to pray Dhuha is in its latest time.

Here’s a short article on the Dhuha prayer.

3) Tahajjud / Qiyam Al-Layl

Yes, they’re both the same prayer.

The time starts after Isha prayer* until the adhan of Fajr. [Witr is part of Qiyam al-Layl.]

[In two places, I’ve heard that it starts after Maghrib. I need to do more research on this issue though, insha-Allah.]

When is it best to do it? Well, in the last third of the night. [The night lasts from Maghrib until Fajr.]

Qiyam Al-Layl is the best prayer after the fard prayers. It’s also one of the most difficult prayers because of its timing.

However, I think everyone will agree that it is also the most satisfying prayer (when we actually manage to crawl out of bed and actually do it, I mean).

These days, we seemed to have singled out Ramadan for Qiyam Al-Layl which is most unfortunate.

The early Muslims were OBLIGATED to spend the WHOLE night in prayer. [Please read the explanation of Surah Al-Muzzammil.]

Why? In order to strengthen them.

Subhan Allah, we are so worried about not getting enough sleep. Due to this, we don’t pray Qiyam Al-Layl and we sleep after Fajr.

And we really don’t have much time in the day nor do we have that much energy.

All of this, despite us “taking care of our sleep”.

The early generations on the other hand, seemed to be more concerned about worshipping Allah. Because of this, it seems that the little sleep that they got was more blessed than the huge amount of sleep that we get.

Despite their “little” sleep, they didn’t have to sleep after Fajr, they had lots of time and lots of energy.

So, perhaps this Ramadan, we should worry less about our sleep and more about worshipping Allah and pleasing Him, and insha-Allah, we will see a big difference.

To be continued…

9
Jun

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #5: Increase in the voluntary prayers – Part 1

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Note: Due to the fact that I’m half-asleep at the time of writing this, I won’t be putting up the evidence for the prayers. They’re all fairly well-known though.

If anyone wants the evidence for any of the points, please say so and I’ll put it up later, insha-Allah.]

Okay, so we’re working on our khushoo (humility) in the fard (obligatory) prayer.

What’s next? Well, that would be doing some of the other voluntary prayers on a regular basis. One of the virtues of the voluntary prayers is that, on the Last Day, they will compensate for the missed obligatory ones.

[Does a person sin if they do voluntary prayers one day and not the next?

NO, because they are voluntary not obligatory. However, one of the characteristics of the believers is regularity in doing the voluntary acts.

Proof? It’s all over the Quran and the Sunnah. Just look at how many times Allah mentions those who give charity or those who pray at night. Aren’t both of these acts voluntary?

Too often, many Muslims just stick to doing the obligatory acts. Whilst this is permitted, it is not a great thing. If we want to get closer to Allah, we need to start doing the acts which are voluntary and do them on a regular basis.]

On the Last Day, the voluntary prayers will compensate for the missed obligatory ones.

Okay, so which voluntary prayers can we offer?

Well, I would suggest starting with the 2 sunnah rakaahs before the (fard) Fajr prayer.

After this, one could add the witr (the time of which is from after the Isha prayer until before the adhan of Fajr). The witr prayer consists of at least ONE rakaah.It could also be 3, 5, 7, etc.

So, that’s 2 at the beginning of the day and 1 at the end.

What else?

You could do the rawatib prayers (there’s a nice house in Paradise for those who pray these).

Which ones are the rawatib prayers, you ask?

Well, the 2 rakaah of Fajr is one of the 12 rawatib prayers. The rest are mentioned below:

[Fard is in blue and Rawatib is in red.]

Fajr: 2   2

[That means that Fajr has two rakaahs of sunnah (rawatib) followed by the 2-rakaah fard prayer.]

Dhuhr: 2 2 4 2

[Some narrations imply that there are only 2 rawatib before Dhuhr but other narrations imply that there are 4.]

Asr: 4

[The 4 rakaahs before the Asr prayer are nawafil, not rawatib.]

Maghrib: 3 2

Isha: 4 2 W

[W = Witr]

Okay, some people might say “Oh, there are so many prayers!”

Well, nobody said that you had to start doing all the rawatib at once. This is a big misconception that many people have. They assume that you have to do all 12 or else leave all 12.

Yes, in order to get that house in Paradise mentioned in the hadeeth, you need to do all 12 on a regular basis. However, suppose you regularly pray the Fajr and Maghrib rawatib. You are still going to get the reward for those.

So, don’t leave all 12 just because you can’t do all 12.

You could aim to pray all 12 on a daily basis but then make sure that you try to do a portion of them regularly.

For example, suppose that tomorrow you decided you would never miss the Fajr rawatib.

You try this for one month. During this month, you pray some of the others but not consistently.

In the next month, you decide that you are going to be consistent with the Maghrib rawatib.

So, for this month, you pray both the Fajr and Maghrib rawatib regularly. As for the others, you might do them but not consisently.

Then, in the third month, you decide you’re going to pray two rakaahs before the Dhuhr prayr. So, you pray this and the Fajr and Maghrib rawatib consistently for this month.

And on this goes until you are consistent with all 12 rakaahs.

When I say “consistent”, it means that you do them every single day and never leave them* even if you are very tired.

[*An exception to this would be whilst traveling because the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) only prayed the Fajr rawatib and one rakaah of witr (along with the fard prayers, of course) at this time.]

Obviously, if you are very ill, you might have difficulty doing them. If you are unable to, then at least be sure to be regular with them when you get better. Don’t let this habit go.

In the next part, insha-Allah, I’ll talk about the tahajjud, dhuha, nawafil, etc prayers.

To be continued…

6
Jun

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #4: Improve the quality of the Fard salah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Yes, I said the “fard” (obligatory) salah because:

1) That is the first thing that we will be asked about

2) Unfortunately, many people don’t pray the other prayers.

3) Quantity without quality is not of much use. So, there’s not much point in us praying all the voluntary prayers without feeling any sort of khushoo (humility).

[Not that I’m asking anyone to stop praying the voluntary prayers. DON’T STOP.

I’m just saying that we need to work on the quality of the prayers too.]

So, how can we improve on the quality? Excellent question.

I’ve posted a lot of articles, books and lectures on this in the past. However, I’m just going to mention a few things in brief today:

1) Make sure that you pray 5 times a day

Yep.

See, you can’t have quality without any quantity.

For all those who are struggling to pray 5 times a day, here are some tips:

a) Be serious about praying 5 times a day.

It’s as simple as that. When I decided (many years ago) to get serious, I made sure that nothing came in the way of me and my prayers. Nothing.

Wherever I was, I would make sure I prayed within the permitted time.

b) Do lots of dua and istighfar (seeking forgiveness).

c) Remember the grave consequences of not praying.

d) Schedule your life around the prayer timings.

So, if you have to go out somewhere, think about when and where you will be able to pray. You need to plan all of this beforehand so that you don’t end up missing any prayer.

e) Keep a reminder for each prayer in case you’re very forgetful.

You can also ask one of your family members or friends to remind you or give you a missed call for each prayer.

This is not a permanent solution of course, but you could do it for a few weeks until you’re able to remember to pray on your own.

2) Try to pray at the earliest times

Praying early means:

1) Doing an act that Allah loves and

2) Relieving ourselves of an obligation so we won’t have that “Oh, I need to go pray” feeling at the back of our minds.

For the brothers: Please pray in the masjid in congregation.

3) Try to renew your wudhu for every salah

This really helps in reviving oneself and it will also erase our minor sins.

4) Don’t rush

Sorry, what do you have to after prayer?

As a lecturer pointed out, is there anything more important than this?

It’s ironic. We rush because we want to have more time to do other things yet what happens is exactly the opposite.

Because we rushed, we get punished by having no barakah (blessings) in our time and therefore we have less time, not more.

5) Focus

I’ve always noticed that when I rush and ramble in my salah, I have zero percent khushoo.

However, when I pray slowly and pay attention to what I’m saying, it’s a different ballgame. 

6) Memorise

Memorise what, you ask?

Some new surahs and duas so that you don’t just autopilot your way through the old ones (that you know like the back of your palm).

7) Do dua

Yes, we have to ask Allah for this (and everything else).

8) Enjoy youself

No, really, if we don’t enjoy having a conversation with Allah, what else will we feel joy in doing?

These steps are simple but we need to be focused.

I’ll talk about the sunnah prayers in the next tip, insha-Allah.

For more insight into this khushoo business, here is an older post on it.

May Allah make us of those who have khushoo in their prayers. Ameen.

3
Jun

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #3: Some tips to get into shape…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

In the last Prep Tip post, I pointed out that we really have to get fit.

So, how do we go about doing that?

Well, here are some tips:

1) Sunnahcise our health plans.

“Sunnahcise”?

Yeah. Do it the way the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) did it.

For example, suppose you want to get fit because you want to have more energy to worship Allah. So, your workout now becomes an act of worship (assuming your pure intention is still intact).

Why stop there? Add something from the sunnah into your health plans so that you can please Allah even more.

For example, some of the prophetic foods include dates, black seeds, talbeenah (drink made of barley), honey, etc. Try to incorporate those into your diet.

Why? Well, if it is recommended by the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), that means that Allah loves that we eat them.

Also, there are certain activities that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) encouraged like archery, horse riding, etc. You can add these to your health routine as well.

In addition to these, there is also the prophetic guide on not sleeping too much nor eating too much.

2) Move.

Did you know that French women don’t go to the gym? Apparently, they get fit just by walking around.

“Walking around?”

You know, park a bit farther away from the destination so that you can walk more, use the stairs, go to your colleagues to ask them something instead of using the phone or gchat, etc.

To my fellow denizens of the UAE, our dear government has actually set up airconditioned walkways so that we can get fit by using our feet, instead of getting fat by using the car.

Where are the walkways, you ask?

I haven’t a clue. I just happened to read about it in the newspaper one day.

Extra tip: You can also get an pedometer to see how many steps you take per day. When I used to use one, I would make sure to walk some more just so that the number on the screen would increase…

3) Get some fresh air.

This is an issue which really affects those of us here in the UAE as we have the air conditioner switched on all the time.

In the car, in the office, at home, etc. All the time.

When are we going to get the fresh air?

Try to take a walk early in the morning or in the evening or let the windows down whilst driving (in winter, not in summer!*).

[*For those in cold countries, that would be: in summer, not in winter!]

4) Eat properly.

Everyone always said that to me but I never understood what they meant until I started to eat properly.

[It means “Eat healthy food and stop the junk food.]

How do you know that you’re eating properly? Well, perhaps it’s when every Tom, Dick and Harry stops pointing out that you look tired and pale?

5) Have a fixed time for exercise.

When ?

Whenever you want, just be sure to do it.

I think that the morning time is the best because 1) you can get it out of the way and 2) you have more energy for the rest of the day.

[Oh and 3) you have another motive to stay up after Fajr.]

I would also have added something like “work on each muscle” but I don’t want anybody to start an exercise that they’ve never done before and then proceed to feel some pain…

More tips?

Well, you may check this post and this one as well.

Now, after reading all of this, you might be thinking “Hey, I know all of this. This is old news.”

Of course, it is. Now tell me, are you fit?

If not, then what is stopping you from applying this “old news”?

Subhan Allah, there is a big difference between knowing something and then actually getting around do doing it.

We all know this stuff but most of us don’t do these things, and even if we do them, we are not regular.

So, let’s all try to be regular in getting some exercise so that we can be a bit healthier by this Ramadan which means that we will be able to do more ibaadah (worship), insha-Allah.

27
Mar

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #2: Get into shape…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

“Get into shape?”

Yes.

“That’s how you want us to prepare for Ramadan? By getting into shape?”

Yep.

“What about prayer, fasting, charity, etc????”

Okay, let me give you a little rundown of our lives:

1) We crawl out of bed for Fajr because we’re so tired.

2) After Fajr, we get back into our nice cozy beds (assuming that we don’t have any work right away. If we do, skip to point 4).

3) We crawl out of bed when we need to get up again.

4) We revive ourselves with tea or coffee.

5) We sleepwalk through the day (aided by the tea and coffee, of course).

6) We come back home and crash into our beds because we’re so tired.

Sound familiar?

We’re all so tired. We have pain here and pain there. We need to keep chugging down that tea or coffee to keep us going throughout the day, otherwise many of us won’t be able to get any work done.

Why? Because most of us are seriously out of shape. We don’t have any sort of exercise routine and our eating habits are nothing to write home about.

Let me put this very tactfully:

The human race is slowly turning into a bunch of unfit fatsos roaming the Planet Earth.

[Okay, tact is not a strength of mine.]

How do we expect to do all that ibaadah (worship) in Ramadan when we don’t have any energy? Oh and keep in mind that we’re going to be fasting for the first half of the day!

There was an article I read recently where someone asked Richard Branson (one of those rich tycoons) how one can manage to get everything done in a day. His reply?

“Work out more.”

Think about it. He has a point.

All the Prophets (alaihissalam) and their Companions (radiallahu anhum) were extremely fit people.

Let me give you a simple example. Haajar (radiallahu anha) managed to run seven times from Safa to Marwa and back in the searing heat, and that too whilst being worried about her child.

I remember walking from Safa to Marwa and back seven times for Hajj. It was in an air conditioned place and the mountains were levelled off.

I was so exhausted.

From what I’ve heard, I wasn’t the only one. Most people get exhausted with all the walking that is done in Hajj.

Why? Because we are unfit!

So, what do we need to do? We need to get into shape before Ramadan rolls around.

Insha-Allah, that will help us with both with our prayers (especially Taraweeh and Qiyam Al-Layl) and fasting during Ramadan.

For me personally, the best time of my life (i.e. when my ibaadah was at an all-time high) was when I was at my fittest level, so I’ve seen the positive effect good health can have on one’s level of imaan.

What can we do to get fit? That’s for the next part, insha-Allah…

11
Mar

Ramadan 2011 Prep Tip #1: Know your goals…

Assalamu Alaikum.

The Greatest Month is 4.5 months away so we need to start preparing.

Before we start preparing, we need to know what our goals are.

Firstly, what kind of shape (spiritual, emotional, physical, etc) do we want to be in by the end of Shabaan?

Secondly, what goals do we have for the month of Ramadan itself?

For example, someone might want to memorise Juz Amma (30) and Juz Tabarak (29)  by the end of Shabaan. In Ramadan, they might want to memorise Juz Qad Samia (28).

Or a person might want to get up for Fajr on time everyday. In Ramadan, their goal might be to wake up 40 minutes before the adhan of Fajr so that they can do a few rakahs of tahajjud (night prayer) and then eat suhoor (the pre-dawn meal).

So, we could take the following steps:

1) Get a dedicated notebook for this. (Check out last year’s post on keeping a Ramadan journal.)

2) Ask yourself what kind of position you want to have in the hereafter. Please be very ambitious and aim for the top!

3) In order to attain that position in the hereafter, what do you need to do in this dunya (wordly life)? What’s stopping you from doing these things and how can you deal with them?

4) What goals do you need to set this year in order to get that high level of iman in this dunya?

5) How do you see yourself at the first day of Eid? What would you liked to have achieved?

6) In order to have that awesome Eid, what must you have done in Ramadan?

7) In order to have had an awesome Ramadan, what must you have done in the months preceding Ramadan?

8) In order to attain all the above, where do you need to be NOW?

Phew…that was exhausting, wasn’t it?

We do need to think backwards though. It makes things clearer.

So, we need to visualise and then write.

After this, we need to do dua 1) that we reach Ramadan 2) for all the things that we want to attain. (Please read this post on preparing a dua list.)

Ramadan 2011, here we come, insha-Allah.