بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[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.
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.
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…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Recently, I attended a dawah course.
The teacher was talking about the things that the daee (caller to Islam) needs to do in order to strengthen themselves for the great task ahead i.e. calling people to Islam.
He mentioned quite a few things including qiyam al-layl (the night prayer). [For those who don’t understand how that could help, please read the explanation of Surah Al-Muzzammil.]
One of the things that he also mentioned was fasting. And he said something that really struck me:
[I’m quoting from memory.]
“Fasting doesn’t make you weak. It gives you strength.”
That’s what many of us think, isn’t it? We think that fasting tires us out (which is probably why we are so unproductive in Ramadan).
However, as the brother, may Allah reward him greatly, pointed out, it doesn’t tire us out, it actually does the exact opposite.
One of the main acts of worship of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Prophets (alaihimissalam) before him, and their companions (radiallahu anhum) was fasting.
Be honest: When you read their stories, do they seem like tired people or more like energizer bunnies*?
[*I hope you understand where I’m coming from. In our time, the energizer bunny is the epitome of the thing which just keeps going on and on.]
I get exhausted just reading their stories because…they were so active. They did more in one day than most of us do in a year.
There’s an ayah (verse) in the Quran that (for me) summarises why they were so full of life:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّـهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ
O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he (salallahu alaihi wasallam) calls you to that which will give you life.” [Surah Al-Anfal (8) : 24]
The commentators point out that the life means 1) the life of the heart and the soul and 2) the eternal life (i.e. Paradise).
Now, you might say: “Wait, I thought you were talking about physical energy? The ayah talks about spiritual energy.”
Well, I don’t think that there’s any contradicition because:
1) When we get re-energised spiritually, we also feel physically refreshed.
There were many times in my life when I went to a hifdh (Quran memorisation) class, or an Islamic lecture, completely exhausted. I was so tired at the beginning of the class.
By the end? I felt like a spring chicken. It’s amazing. Because I felt spiritually recharged, I also felt physically recharged.
I think that many of you would also have gone through similar situations.
2) If we answer Allah’s call i.e. apply the Shariah, we WILL be physically fit.
Why? Well, because it calls us to pay attention to our bodies and also because acts of worship like fasting and the night prayer (the two main acts of worship in Ramadan) are not just good for spiritual health, they are known to be good for physical health as well.
3) If we want to get the eternal life, we need to start working.
That alone is enough to turn one into an energizer bunny.
4) Good only results in more good.
If we obey Allah in one aspect, that will only result in more good. How can one fast (do something good) and expect that to lead to a bad thing (exhaustion)? No, that can’t be, because good only results in more good, so that exhaustion is not coming from the fasting.
So, if we understand these points, we’ll be able to understand how the earlier generations were so full of life.
Now, what am I trying to say?
Well, every Ramadan, we all complain how we are also so tired due to fasting in the morning and praying at night.
Those acts cannot be tiring us out because they are the ones giving us life and energy so there has to be something else draining our energy.
Perhaps it’s our negative attitude? Allah knows Better.
Either way, we need to change our perspective and approach both of these acts (and the whole Shariah in general) in a better manner.
Perhaps after we do that, we’ll see a different (and better) Ramadan this year, insha-Allah, hopefully one where we’ll all be full of life.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
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.
Which masjid is that, you ask?
The farthest one, of course.
“Glorified (and Exalted) be He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) to the farthest mosque (in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayaat (proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, etc.). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” [Surah Al-Israa (17) : 1]
Masjid Al-Aqsa actually means the farthest masjid.
One of the things that really makes me sad is the non-interest of the majority of the Muslims in reclaiming Masjid Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem from the hands of the Jews. Many seem to think that this is a “Palestinian issue”, which of course is complete nonsense.
It is a MUSLIM issue.
Here are various short videos from previous Ramadans showing taraweeh, qiyam al-layl and Eid Al-Fitr at the third greatest masjid on this planet.
Please watch them so that you can remind yourself that this is OUR masjid, and that the Jews shouldn’t be let anywhere near it:
[Okay, I’m just putting up the remaining information so I had to think of a fancy title.]
Here we go:
1) Actions Specific to the Last Ten of Ramadan
a) The Sunan that they are both referring to (about bathing between Maghrib and Isha) has been discussed here. There seems to be a dispute over its authenticity of this narration.
b) Women are NOT allowed to wear perfumes in front of non-Mahram men and especially not when going to the masjid.
Please read the following two fatwas (read the ahadeeth carefully):
2) Innovations During the Last Ten Days
Check out this article.
3) Laylatul Qadr and the dua to be said therein
Please read this (it seems to be a compilation of many articles. Unfortunately, they didn’t credit the authors!).
Also, here’s a nice article on the meaning of the famous dua that is said during Laylatul Qadr.
4) Tips for Qiyam Al-Layl in these last 10 nights
a) If you aren’t going to the masjid, then try to pray with a mushaf.
Why? So that you can lengthen your prayers.
b) For those going to the masjids, please don’t waste time.
I) By not staying silent in rukoo and sujood.
You can repeat the rukoo (bowing) duas. If all you know is “Subhana Rabi Al-Adheem”, then keep saying that until the Imam raises his head.
Scholars differed over whether you can do dua in a language other than Arabic in sujood (prostration).
Many of the fatwas that I checked said yes. Someone asked my Imam and he said “What can you do if you don’t know Arabic?” That seems quite obvious especially as we are closest to Allah at this time.
However, if you take the opinion that you cannot do dua in a language other than Arabic, fine. Just keep repeating whatever duas you know until the Imam raises his head.
II) By not staying silent in between the prayers or by chatting.
Try to just do as much adkhar (remembrance) as you can. Say “Subhan Allah”, “Alhamdulillah”, “Astaghfirullah”, etc. Don’t just sit there and stare at the carpet.
III) If you go to the masjid early, then take your mushaf with you.
You can read some Quran while you wait for the prayer to start.
c) If the Imam is giving a lecture and you don’t understand what he’s saying (because it’s in Arabic), then please don’t use this time to catch up with your old friends.
Those of us who CAN understand Arabic would like to listen to the Imam. [This happens every year in my masjid.]
d) Please don’t go to the masjid with a sulky face. Take your smiley face with you.
Smiley face + Kind words = Is from the Sunnah + May cause someone to pray FOR you.
Sulky face + Rude words = Is NOT from the Sunnah + May cause someone to pray AGAINST you.
Brothers and Sisters, knowing the fiqh of prayer is not sufficient to be a righteous person. Having good manners is required as well.
I’ll put up some resources for itikaf in another post, insha-Allah.