بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So I came across another article that told us why Muslims fast in Ramadan.
The only problem was that it – like most of the articles before it – failed to mention the MAIN reason that fasting was enjoined.
No, it’s not to feel empathy with the poor. [I heard that so many times when I was younger!]
What did Allah say?
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 183]
So, this is the reason that fasting was prescribed: to increase us in taqwa (piety).
What is fasting, after all? It’s staying away from three HALAL (lawful) things (food, drink and sexual intercourse with one’s spouse) from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.
Why? Well, just because Allah said so.
So, this begs the question: If we can give up the halal from dawn to dusk for 30 days, just because Allah said so, why can’t we give up the haram (unlawful) outside of Ramadan just because Allah said so?
I read or heard (can’t remember) a shaikh say something very interesting. He pointed out that many people fast but do not pray (and such a fast is invalid by the way) which did not make any sense (how could a person who wanted to increase in piety leave the prayer??).
Apart from the fact that prayer is the greater pillar, fasting was tougher than prayer! You had to do it for a whole day whereas a simple prayer could be done in 5-10 minutes.
He pointed out that these people do the more difficult act of worship and leave the easier one.
Does that make sense? Obviously not.
So, we need to make sure that we know the purpose of fasting, because if we don’t, we won’t get the benefit of performing this great act of worship.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, how is it going?
If the answer is “Aaah….” or “Eek!!” or something similar to that, I would advise the following:
1) Get a piece of paper and a pen.
2) Write down why you feel so unprepared for Ramadan.
[Don’t think the answers, please write them down. Trust me, there is a BIG difference.]
Make sure that you write specific things e.g. prayers are not going well, last year’s fasts are still pending, preparing to travel, etc.
3) Now, for each point, write down how you can improve upon it in the next 4 weeks (that’s all that we have left).
4) Do loads of dua (supplication) and istighfar (seeking forgiveness). Also, start working on that list on a day-to-day basis.
So, if the prayers aren’t going well, then take it one day at a time. Don’t think of the next 29 days. Just think of TODAY.
5) Write down mini-goals for each day and then review those at the end of the day.
[Daily mini-goals really work, trust me, That’s what I’ve been doing so far and it’s working out quite well, alhamdulillah.]
6) Don’t even think of entering Ramadan unprepared.
Don’t say “Oh it’s too late”. No, it’s not too late. You still have a whole month, so strive and have good thoughts about Allah.
Besides, you’ll get the reward for the extra effort you’re putting in, insha-Allah.
If you need more tips, here’s what I wrote at the same time last year.
So once again, if you haven’t started preparing for Ramadan, please try to start TODAY.
Remember, a little adds up to a lot. As for “nothing”, well, it doesn’t add up to anything except zero.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yes, we’re almost in Shaban.
SHABAN THEN (i.e. in the good old days)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Reminder: Productive Ramadan is back up.]
Okay, so I said that I wouldn’t be linking to any more articles at present, and after that post, I haven’t.
Today, I came across this heart-warming and thought-provoking article on the importance of learning Arabic and I think it is something that everyone needs to read, especially now that Ramadan is almost here.
Here’s the article.
Read it carefully because it has SO MANY points of benefit. [Read the footnotes as well.]
Note to the sisters: Read the last part very, very carefully. [Umm Zakee’s notes can be downloaded here.]
Insha-Allah, I hope that those who don’t know Arabic ponder over this article and then decide to start learning Arabic ASAP.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
For those of you who’d like to give themselves an iman boost, here are some Ramadan Prep events:
[Note: I didn’t mention some “famous” prep events due to various reasons.]
Completely related question: Why does everyone always wait until a week before Ramadan to do these prep events? Isn’t that pretty late???
1) Knowledge International University is offering two FREE courses.
The first is entitled the “Fiqh of Fasting” and is going to start at the end of July.
The second is called “Good Manners” and is going to be taught in August.
For more information, you may keep a close eye on their Facebook page.
Why did I start with this event? Because unlike all the others, it is taught by a real scholar.
And no, I’m not putting anybody down. I’m just tired of every Muhammad, Abdullah and Ali being called a scholar.
[Even I have been called a scholar. Thrice!!! Subhan Allah, if an ignorant person like me can be called a scholar, then that means the Muslim ummah (nation) is in serious trouble.]
Home Sweet Home (Dubai)
1) Al Huda Sisters has a really nice bunch of classes (for sisters) geared towards preparing one for Ramadan.
You can find all the information on their blog.
The classes are on Wiziq as well (only for sisters) but you need to contact them for more information.
2) Dr. Muhammad Al-Jibaly is in town (yes, that Muhammad Al-Jibaly) for a Ramadan prep event called “The Essence of Ramadan”.
It’s this Friday (July 29th), insha-Allah. You can find out more here.
3) Kalemah Centre is offering a bunch of Ramadan prep lectures in various masjids around Dubai.
Most of these lectures are in Urdu though. The schedule can be found here.
4) Al Manar Quran Study Centre is offering a “Ramadan Majlis” i.e. a bunch of lectures during Ramadan.
The lectures are in English, Tagalog*, Urdu and Malayalam.
[*No, I don’t know if Brother Omar Penalbar is coming. The last Ramadan he came, about 125 Phillipinos became Muslims in one night, subhan Allah!]
Here’s the website.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Yes, I know. The title sounds like it belongs to a health blog, which is what this blog seems to be turning into.]
That’s the million (zillion?) dirham question, isn’t it?
This past week, I’ve been plotting how to get energy because, whilst I have time alhamdulillah, my engine seems to always be running on empty.
And it can’t be this way during Ramadan.
So, I asked myself “What increases me in energy?”
A few notes before I begin:
– Energy, like everything else, comes from Allah, the Most High. So if we want it, we need to ask for it.
Yes, we have to take the means (which is what this post is about) but we don’t rely on these means, rather we put our trust in Allah.
– I am not a health practitioner so please check everything I say with one of them.
– I know many people who read things and then say “Oh we can’t do that!”. If that’s the attitude that a person has to any suggestion that is presented to them, then it would be better for them not to waste their time reading those suggestions.
However, if you read, try to read with a positive attitude and don’t dismiss everything immediately. Think about it for a while first.
[And no, I’m not just referring to what you read on this blog. This is general advice for any article or book that you read or any lecture that you listen to.
– Like all of you, I’m a human and I make mistakes. Therefore, not everything mentioned in this blog might be correct. It’s up to you to verify everything that you read here (or anywhere else for that matter).
1) Ibaadah (worship) and seeking knowledge.
They increase one in energy, you ask?
Haven’t you even felt re-energised after an Islamic lecture or after performing taraweeh prayer?
Fasting is an act that gives us great energy (and it does not make us weak, remember?).
However, the first few days are somewhat tiring which is why, I once again highly recommend that everyone starts fasting BEFORE Ramadan.
Someone might say: “Well, why does productivity go down during Ramadan then?”
Does it? In the Prophet’s (salallahu alaihi wasallam) time, it used to go up.
Even if it goes down in this time, it doesn’t mean that it is due to the fasting. The problem is with us, not with the fasting.
You know, I love exercise, really I do. The only thing that I love more than exercise is ibaadah and seeking knowledge.
Now I don’t always do exercise because of various reasons (laziness, being busy, etc) but I still love it nonetheless.
However, most people hate exercise which is most unfortunate, as exercise can really give one an energy boost.
There were days when I felt very tired, only to feel refreshed after working out.
Now, someone might say “Hey, where’s the time to work out in Ramadan? And we’ll be fasting!”
Firstly, if you don’t have time, then make time. Simple.
Secondly, the people of the past fought wars during Ramadan, and we have difficulty walking from one room to another. Why is that?
Just because a person is fasting, it does not mean that they should be inactive. I can’t understand where this concept of “resting whilst fasting” came from, because it’s not there in the Quran or the Sunnah.
Thirdly, I’m not asking anyone to workout for a couple of hours. A 10 to 30 minute walk daily would be a good start. You could also add some other exercises and therefore be done with the whole thing in less than an hour.
Also, if you can’t do it daily, then try to do it as much as possible.
When can you work out in Ramadan?
I realised that the best time for me was to do it after Asr. I’ve trying it this past week and even did it whilst I was fasting.
It was excellent. I felt so tired when Asr came but I was refreshed by the time I broke my fast.
I think this would be good in Ramadan because 1) I can eat within an hour of exercising and 2) I’ll be refreshed and re-energised for taraweeh prayers.
“What about iftar preparations?” scream the women.
Sigh. You can cook before that, can’t you?
Also, if you exercise right after Asr, for less than an hour, you’ll have over an hour and a half for all the iftar prep.
Not into this idea? Fair enough. You could also consider:
a) Before suhoor – This is a really blessed time though and should be used for prayer but if you want to take a brisk 10 minute walk, it’s up to you.
b) After Fajr – Everyone feels fresh at this time.
c) After Maghrib – The time isn’t a lot so a person would really have to rush.
d) Any other time – This is for people who are used to working out.
Now, someone might say: “Should we really be wasting Ramadan, the month of ibaadah, doing exercises?”
Well, if you understand the meaning of ibaadah, then you’ll realise that exercising can also become an ibaadah if a person does it with the proper intention.
3) Healthy food
“Healthy” being the operative word.
Eating burgers after taraweeh? No wonder we’re tired.
So, what should we eat?
a) Prophetic Food
This refers to all that stuff mentioned in the Sunnah. Ibn Al-Qayyim’s book contains a lot of information.
Amongst the foods and drinks that should be part of our menu: talbeenah (drink made of barley), dates, zam zam, black seeds and honey (pure, not that fake stuff from the supermarket). [All of these are mentioned in the book.]
Also, apart from the food, you might also want to try cupping. That would be very good for someone who suffers from bad blood circulation.
Note: A person doing it for the first time will feel tired for the first few days which is why I’d recommend you do it at least a week before Ramadan.
b) Fruits and vegetables
For those memorising the Quran: try almonds and walnuts. They’re supposed to be good for the memory.
d) Drink enough water
Feeling tired all the time? Perhaps it’s just dehydration.
If you follow the 8 glasses a day rule, you can try to drink 2 glasses during suhoor and 6 glasses between maghrib and the time that you go to sleep.
Coconut water is also good for dehydration.
We need calcium, really we do. I’ve noticed it really helps fight fatigue (at least for me).
f) Vitamins and other food supplements.
I think that these really do help especially for those of us who don’t eat all types of food.
One supplement that does give energy is those ginseng tablets. You can feel the effects a few days after you start taking them. However, I noticed that the effect only lasts for about 3 weeks.
So, if you are really short of energy, try to take them in the second week of Ramadan so that they work for the last 10 days.
Flax seeds are another good supplement. They contain omega 3. As I’m not in the medical field, I’m afraid that I can’t explain more than that. All I know is that they give ENERGY.
g) Leave the useless food.
You know, burgers, hot dogs, etc.
Also, leave high glycemic index foods.
If you really can’t leave without the fast food, then at least try to stick to “decent” fast foods like Subway, pizzas, etc.
Pizzas are decent, you ask? Well, not the Pizza Hut ones, but the ones from restaurants, depending on their topping, are relatively decent, especially if you take one with lots of vegetables.
You might also want to say bye to the caffeine. If you really need some, try to switch to green tea, which has many health benefits.
When should we eat all the above? We can split it between suhoor and iftar.
One final note: If you start doing all the above ASAP, remember that it will still take some time to show the results, perhaps 2-3 weeks, insha-Allah.
So, there was nothing groundbreaking in this post. I think most people know about these ways. We just need to apply it, that’s all.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
A sister, may Allah reward her, alerted me to the fact that there was a huge crisis going on in Africa (apart from the Libyan one, I mean).
The countries which form the Horn of Africa are going through their worst drought in 60 years and the people are basically dying of starvation. The worst afflicted ones are our Somalian brothers and sisters. You can read some more here. Some are calling it the most severe food crisis in the world.
[It’s amazing. All the news agencies must have been so busy reporting that Becks and Posh finally got a little girl, that they forgot to inform us that there is a huge humanitarian crisis going on.]
So what can we do?
1) Dua (supplication)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s nothing as powerful as dua.
You know what makes me sad? Let me tell you.
Gaza crisis: All the Palestinians rush to help.
Pakistan floods: All the Pakistanis rush to help.
Egyptian revolution: All the Egyptians get depressed about it.
Libyan revolution: All the Libyans rush to help.
You know what would make me happy? Let me tell you.
Horn of Africa Crisis: All the Muslims rush to help their Muslim brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa whilst also not forgetting about other Muslims (like the Libyans, Pakistanis and Palestinians, for example) who still need their help.
So how can you donate?
Well, for those in the Emirates, I came across this news article.
For those who want to donate online, Ummah Welfare Trust seems good. They say that 100% of proceeds go to charity (none of it goes for admin costs).
[While you’re donating for Africa, you could also add some of the others to your basket. Just keep repeating “Paradise, Paradise” in order to motivate yourself. It’s okay if the money is a little, because a little can add up to a lot.]
Oh and please don’t wait for Ramadan thinking that the charity will have “more value” at that time. It won’t.
And just think how good you would feel coming into Ramadan having already helped these people.
3) Tell everybody.
Most people have no clue about this. Why is that?
4) Tell the people in the affected regions to do Salatul Istisqaa (prayer for rain).
This is for those who have relatives or friends who live in the affected regions.
I don’t know if they’ve already prayed for rain but if they haven’t, then they should get around to it ASAP.
[Here in the UAE, the prayer for rain is actually done on a government level meaning that they set a date and announce it in the newspaper!]
So, let’s all do what we can, insha-Allah.
May Allah make it easy for all our afflicted brothers and sisters throughout the world.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Firstly, one can practice just about all the deeds that one does in Ramadan outside of it, so there’s no reason to limit ibaadah to Ramadan.
Secondly, we need to understand what ibaadah is.
When we refer to “ibaadah”, it means everything that Allah loves and is pleased with. It could refer to an action of the heart, the tongue or the limbs. [Fearing Allah is an example of an action of the heart.]
Here’s an article which explains the definition of ibaadah in more detail.
Our problem is that we confine ibaadah to just a few things, and that shouldn’t be the case. Any lawful (halal) act can be turned into an act of worship with the proper intention.
Thirdly, so what can we do in Ramadan?
a) Do the basic acts of ibaadah (prayer, fasting, etc) properly.
You know, we always think in terms of quantity. Let’s first try to work on the quality. That should keep us busy for a while.
b) Add the other acts that are easy for us.
Is giving charity is easy for you? Then do it.
Is reciting the Quran easy for you? Then do it.
Is doing dawah easy for you? Then do it.
Is keep good relations with your family and neighbours easy for you? Then do it.
Is feeding orphans easy for you? Then do it.
Is making iftar for the poor easy for you? Then do it.
c) Try to improve in those acts which we fall short in.
Can’t stop snarling at your mom-in-law? Hey, Ramadan is a good time to change that.
d) Try to think about the proper deed to be done in every situation.
For example, you’re late for taraweeh. Whilst rushing to the masjid, somebody in front of you slips and falls.
Do you keep rushing to the masjid? NO! Stop and help that person. That’s the right thing to do at this time. It’s okay if you’re late for taraweeh.
Another example: Suppose you’re breaking your fast in the masjid. Do you sit and recite Quran whilst some other brothers/sisters serve the food and also end up cleaning the whole mess?
No! Get up and ask them if they need any help with the serving or with the cleaning.
Another example: Your neighbour walks into the elevator with you (let’s assume that both of you are of the same gender).
Do you stare coldly at this person or try to be cordial given the fact that they have rights over you? Be cordial and ask them how they are. You might think of this as useless talk but it isn’t if you talk about halal things and you do it with the intention of keeping in touch with your neighbour.
Remember the best thing to do at a give time is the one that pleases Allah the most.
How would we know what pleases Allah the most? Well, we need to seek knowledge. That’s what knowledge ultimately is: knowing how best to worship Allah at a given time.
e) Leave evil deeds.
You know why? Because that’s also an act of ibaadah.
A few points to keep in mind:
a) Don’t compare yourself to anybody else.
If you have to compare yourself to someone who you feel is doing more than you, then please do it to motivate yourself and not to demotivate yourself.
b) Don’t follow those famous Ramadan planners.
Sorry, I can’t stand those. They make me feel depressed.
They have a long list of all the good deeds to be done in one day and after you toil away trying to do each one, you check the list and find that you still have half the list left!
Don’t get me wrong. Some of them are useful but not as your main Ramadan planner. They’re just good for some ideas on what types of ibaadah that you could do.
I think what would be better than this, is for each of us to sit down and plan what deeds we can do during Ramadan. We could add the obligatory, then the voluntary that we are good at and then the other deeds which we need to improve upon. At least this way, we won’t feel like such losers.
Another reason that I don’t like those planners is that worship then becomes a numerical thing rather than a spiritual thing.
c) The more that you do outside Ramadan, the easier it is to do more in Ramadan.
You know why? Because your soul, body and mind are already used to doing these things.
When you dump things on them out of nowhere (like in the first few days), they get exhausted because they aren’t used to doing all these things.
d) Strive to purify your intention.
It’s the most difficult thing to do yet it is the most important one of them all.
It’s possible that someone who does a little deed with a pure intention (i.e. to please Allah alone) might get more reward than the one who does a whole lot of deeds but with an intention that is not very pure.
e) Try, try and keep trying.
Striving to do ibaadah is itself an ibaadah, so don’t give up, because we don’t fail when we keep trying.
We only fail when we give up.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) fasted most of Shabaan, as is well-known.
Well, one of the wisdoms behind this is that the body gets prepared for fasting.
If we were to start fasting on the first day of Ramadan, we would waste quite a few days whilst our bodies adjusted to the situation.
One of the other reasons for fasting is to increase in ibaadah (worship) before Ramadan.
You know, it’s strange. When many of us think of ways to increase our iman (faith), we generally think of praying, reciting the Quran, seeking knowledge, etc but I’ve rarely heard many people mention fasting.
Why not? Isn’t it one of the greatest acts of worship?
You know, we wonder why Ramadan is… Ramadan. One of the reasons is the fasting.
[Haven’t you ever felt that Ramadan feeling whilst fasting outside of Ramadan?]
It’s strange. We’re always talking about those who just pray during Ramadan and not outside of it.
Perhaps someone should dedicate an article to those who just fast in Ramadan and not outside of it……?
Now someone might say, “Hey, prayer is an obligation the whole year round but fasting isn’t!”
No, it isn’t but it is still great act of worship. It doesn’t matter if it is not an obligation.
Besides, paying the zakaah is obligatory only once a year but many people still give charity at the other times.
Also, Hajj can only be done once a year but many people still do Umrah at the other times of year.
So, why don’t many of us fast outside Ramadan?
Now, someone might say: “Well, we fast on Arafah and Ashoorah!”
Well, yes we do, but what about Mondays and Thursdays? What about 3 days every month?
What abut the best of all fasts: fasting every other day?
So, why don’t we all start fasting (if we haven’t started already)?
– The heat, you say? Well, it’s going to be hot in Ramadan as well, isn’t it?
An important point: If you have fasts to make up, then do those first. Don’t do any voluntary fasts if you have obligatory ones to make up.
We have less than three weeks to go before Ramadan. Let’s try to fast as much as possible, insha-Allah.
[If you’re wondering why I never talk much about fasting on this blog, it’s because I have difficulty fasting due to a variety of ailments so I don’t advertise what I don’t practice.
However, I think I should take a fresh approach to fasting and just try as much as I can outside Ramadan, insha-Allah.]