بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yes, that title might sound highly unusual.
It’s an English saying which means making the most out of an opportunity.
Imagine if you went to a park and found lots of little gold coins on the ground. What would you do?
Well, you know what you’d do. You’d try to pick up as many coins as possible.
Imagine if you went to a food exhibition and they were offering free fruits. [Ironically, this actually happened here once!] What would you do?
You’d try to get your hands on as many fruits as you possibly could, that’s would you’d do.
Okay, that’s what we do with gold coins and fruits. What do many people do with regards to Ramadan?
It’s Shaban 29th. Maghrib comes.
Nobody is sure if it’s Ramadan or not.
Most people just twiddle their thumbs and wait for the announcement, instead of realising that they should increase in their ibaadah (worship) as Ramadan might have already started. And if not, then at least this will help them prepare for it.
What happens once people know that it’s Ramadan? Well, for many people, nothing happens. They wait until the next day to start fasting because they think that this is when Ramadan begins.
Then they proceed to be very active in the first few days and do taraweeh every night.
After that? Well, many people tend to drop off the radar only to return in time for the 27th night.
Then on the 29th of Ramadan after Maghrib, everyone twiddles their thumbs yet again waiting for an Eid announcement, not realising that if it’s still Ramadan (i.e. it’s not Eid the next day), they need to make use of its final hours.
The minutes of Ramadan are more precious than those gold coins so why do we treat them like nothing???
We need to use our time wisely – right from the beginning of Ramadan until the end, when the moon of Shawwal is spotted.
We need to remember to use the mornings and the nights for good deeds.
We need to pace ourselves so that we steadily increase in worship throughout the month and peak in the last ten nights.
We need to make the best out of every situation whether it is at work, in the car, in the kitchen, in university, etc.
The amazing thing about our purpose of life (i.e worshipping Allah alone) is that we can do it anywhere, at any time, in any circumstance, and in any age. [This is one of the main purposes of Ramadan – to remind us of our purpose in life and to remind us to use our time in pursuing this goal.]
So, we should use every opportunity possible.
In the car? Listen to a nice Islamic lecture.
Stuck in a queue? Do istighfar (seek forgiveness).
Stuck in the kitchen? Do tasbeeh (say “subhan Allah”).
At work? Well, do your work properly and in a good way, knowing that we’ve been commanded to do all things well.
At university? Same as above.
Got stuck in a conversation with your elderly highly-talkative neighbour whom you find very annoying? Talk to them politely and remember that neighbours have rights and that we’ve been commanded to be good to the elderly. This conversation will then turn into an act of worship (I’m assuming that the neighbour is of the same gender as you) and will be a witness for you instead of being a witness against you.
In short: Milk every minute for what it’s worth. In this Ramadan and even beyond that.
Perhaps Ramadan has already begun for some of you (it hasn’t where I am).
Ramadan Mubarak to all of you.
May Allah grant us tawfeeq (guidance) in this great month.
PS. After much thought, I’ve decided to blog only for the first 7 days and then stop for the rest of Ramadan. That’s because I spent far too much time blogging the last two Ramadans and did not spend enough time with the Quran.So this year, I’m going to be rectifying that, insha-Allah.
I’ll be continuing with the Lords of the Worlds series as promised but just for the first 7 days, insha-Allah.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Yep, Ramadan is 3-4 days away.
How do you feel?
Are you EXCITED?
Or are you stressed? Anxious? Nervous? Worried about getting ready? Dreading that Ramadan is so close?
Stop thinking so much. [Okay, I’m the last person who should be saying that…]
This is the best of months.
The most awesome time of the year.
The month where it’s easy to worship Allah.
The month where the doors of Paradise are opened.
The month where those annoying devils are chained up.
I could go on and on but I won’t.
All I have to say is:
Your condition should NOT be:
Rather it should be:
Too often, I’ve noticed that we don’t take enough pleasure in practicing Islam.
[This is something that I noticed in the survey answers and will discuss this in the Step by Step series when I resume it after Hajj season, insha-Allah. I did talk about this issue in this post and in this one though.]
Let’s change that this year.
Let’s feel excited that we’re going to be fasting.
Let’s feel excited that we’ll be doing taraweeh.
Let’s feel excited that we’ll get another chance at Laylatul Qadr.
In short: Instead of dreading the fact that Ramadan is so close, let’s get excited and feel happy that the Greatest Month is practically at our doorsteps!
Remember, we are:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Subhan Allah, there’s only 4-5 more days to go before Ramadan is here.
Only 4-5 days.
If we haven’t started working, we need to start NOW for two reasons:
1) We can’t guarantee that we’ll be alive that long.
Subhan Allah, Ramadan is so close…and yet it’s so far away. We won’t reach it until we actually DO reach it.
2) I’m sorry but we can’t wait for the moon to be sighted in order to start increasing in worship.
That’s too late because that means we’ll be using Ramadan to adjust to our new schedules, whereas we should already have adjusted by then!
We need to start improving our prayers NOW.
We need to start increasing in recitation of the Quran NOW.
We need to start increasing in giving charity NOW.
[We also need to ditch those sins (random examples: smoking, listening to music, backbiting, etc) NOW.]
What are you (and I) waiting for?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Want to squeeze the most out of Ramadan?
Here’s an online course for sisters that will take place during Ramadan, that will help you to do just that:
Here’s the course description from their website:
Language of Instruction:English
This 29-day course consists of two daily classes during Ramadhaan.
Fasting from Alif to Yaa:
The first class, Fasting from Alif to Yaa, takes place beginning at noon, 12:00 PM EST, and continues for about 45 minutes. Taught by Umm Mujaahid, Khadijah Bint Lacina, the class covers both religious and practical matters related to perfecting one’s worship during Ramadhaan.
Points addressed include:
Taraaweeh prayers, supplications, beginning and breaking the fast, Zakaat Al-Fitr, safeguarding the limbs, heedlessness and controlling anger, having high aspirations, and much more.
Based upon authentic knowledge from the Qur’aan and Sunnah with the explanation of the scholars.
The Qur’aan: A Light and Mercy;
The second class begins 10 minutes after Fasting From Alif to Yaa ends. This interactive class, taught by Umm Usaamah Sukhailah Bint Khalil will cover a Surah a day from the Surahs of Juz Amma as well as Suratul-Fatiha.
It will contain explanation of the Surahs, rules of Tajweed and evaluation of recitation, tips on memorization and review, the importance and benefits of learning and reciting the Qur’aan, especially within the month of Ramadhaan, and much more.
Who should Enroll:
All Muslim women who are eager to get the most out of their Ramadhaan!
You can read more on their website.
This is the Wiziq page for the course.
This course seems to be based on a book they wrote, which can be purchased online.
Note: Please refer all questions about the course to the sisters who are teaching the course, and not me.
Please pass on the word so that other sisters can benefit, insha-Allah.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Important note: I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention this one more time. I do not like any men unnecessarily submitting comments. By “unnecessary” I mean anything other than offering required constructive criticism or a needed clarification on a post. As for advice or resources, then they should ask another brother. This should have been obvious but it seems that some people need to be told before they can understand.
From now on, I’ll delete all comments from those who are obviously brothers (sometimes their usernames don’t hint at the gender) unless, as mentioned above, it is required constructive criticism or a needed clarification on a post. This is to avoid any sort of fitnah (trial).]
Some examples of how knowledge benefits us during Ramadan
[Okay, so this part is where I finally link the “Ramadan” to the “Seek knowledge” part.]
So here are some different ways that knowledge can change a so-so Ramadan into a great Ramadan:
[Note: Once again, I’ll be summarising the issue and won’t be mentioning some of the proofs due to time constraints. I have linked to some fatwas though. If you need a particular proof, please do ask.]
1) A “normal” act can be changed to an act of worship by changing one’s intention.
– The intention can make or break a good act.
[Please note: I said “good” act. We can’t disobey Allah and say “But our intentions were good!” Disobedience is disobedience. Allah does not accept evil actions, rather he only accepts the good ones.
إن الله طيب لا يقبل إلا طيبا
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good.” [Sahih Muslim, Hadeeth No. 2214]
So, I am only referring to halal (lawful) acts and not haram (unlawful acts) when I say “normal” act.]
إنما الأعمال بالنية ، وإنما لامرئ ما نوى ، فمن كانت هجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، فهجرته إلى الله ورسوله ، ومن كانت هجرته إلى دنيا يصيبها ، أو امرأة يتزوجها ، فهجرته إلى ما هاجر إليه
Narrated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab (radiallahu anhu): Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, “The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume No. 1, Hadeeth No. 51]
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Still not prepared for Ramadan?
Well, sisters in Dubai (and thereabouts) could try to attend this lecture by Dr. Mamdouh Mohamed (a very qualified man who we in Dubai have underutilized!):
[Click on the picture to enlarge the image.]
Note: I don’t have any information about this (other than what’s on the flyer) so please do not ask me. You may call the number mentioned in the flyer.
Please remember to pass on the word.
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
[Here’s Part 1.]
I mentioned the three types of answers that I got in the survey and why one set was right, the second set was sort of right and the third set was not so right.
So, let’s go through it over again:
[Note: Some answers can be looked at from more than one perspective which would change which group they belonged to.]
1) The ones who got it right were doing it to get closer to Allah.
There’s no argument about this one.
A warning: Yes, this is the correct intention but we need to make sure that it really IS our intention and not what we THINK our intention is.
Sincerity is one of the toughest things to attain – and it’s not attained in one go. One needs to keep working on it and keep fighting oneself.
The ones who are sure that they are sincere are most definitely insincere.
So, one needs to do lots of dua (supplication) to Allah asking for sincerity and also keep taking account of oneself and one’s intentions.
2) The ones who were sort of in the middle were doing it for a reason that led to the main reason.
The answers were as follows:
– Reminding oneself about Islam
I thought about putting this answer in the third group but I didn’t because the implications of this answer differed from the implications of the third group’s answers.
This is an acceptable reason to seek knowledge and it leads to the main reason. The person realises that she needs to be reminded about the religion of Allah and hence needs to be reminded about Allah.
However, some people could also seek knowledge for this reason and miss the boat completely so one needs to be careful.
– Reminding oneself of the hereafter
I thought of putting this answer with the first group but I didn’t due to the way it was phrased.
Yes, this is also a reason for seeking knowledge but we should also remember that we were created to worship Allah alone and seeking knowledge is a way of worshipping Him. The Hereafter is the “reward” for this: Paradise for the good guys (i.e. those who worshipped Him alone) and Hell for the bad guys (those who did not worship Him alone).
– To improve oneself
This is a very common reason and it’s not wrong. However, this is a means and not an end.
Why should we improve ourselves? Well, because we can then become better worshippers of Allah and so attain a higher level of Paradise.
So, this is a goal but not the ultimate goal, rather it leads to it.
– To feel the foretaste of Paradise
I overlooked this one in Part 1 (sorry!).
Yes, seeking knowledge does give us the “foretaste” of Paradise for many reasons (the feeling of closeness to Allah, the reminder of the Hereafter, etc). This is a FRUIT of seeking knowledge though, not the main reason for doing so.
So, if the sister meant that she was seeking knowledge to feel close to Allah, then this answer is correct and would belong to the first group. If she meant that she wanted to feel “nice”, then this answer is not so correct and would belong to the third group.
[As I cannot read minds, I decided to take the safe route and put her in the second group….]
3) The not-so-right ones
Why did I say that they were not right? Well, because they missed the point.
Someone pointed out that perhaps they were still doing it for Allah and so would get the rewards.
Well, I cannot comment as to the intentions of people. I can only comment on what they’ve told me.
From what I could understand, and Allah knows Better, it seems that these reasons do NOT lead to the proper reason i.e. doing it for the sake of Allah.
[However, I did try to look at it from another perspective in order to give them the benefit of the doubt.]
Let me go through each reason and explain further:
– Just for the sake of seeking knowledge
Knowledge is not sought for its sake. Even acts like salah (prayer), zakah, fasting, etc are not done for their own sake. All of them are done in order to know and worship the Creator.
Knowledge is a means i.e a means to worship. Knowledge (of Islam and the Shariah) tells us WHY we need to worship Allah, and HOW we need to worship and the REWARD we get for doing that.
Yes, seeking knowledge is itself an act of worship but like all acts of worship, it needs to be accompanied by the proper intention i.e. seeking the Face of Allah.
Variations of the above reason (i.e. seeking knowledge just for its sake) included thirst/yearning/desire for more knowledge.
The reason I put them all together is that they all lead to the same thing: being excited about seeking knowledge for its own sake and missing the point of the whole thing.
And this is something very dangerous.
I always assumed that feeling excited about seeking knowledge meant that one was sincere – until I come across a certain article that is.
In it, the shaikh pointed out that some people get excited about knowledge for its own sake. It makes them feel “the rush”, you see. He pointed out this was not the right reason to seek knowledge.
I was very shocked to read that because it never occurred to me we might get excited by the knowledge itself, rather than the end that it was supposed to lead to.
After a lot of reflection, I realised that he had a point. Many times, seeking knowledge is a “thrilling activity” to such a degree that people even compete in this act – not for the reward, but for information gathering!
So then we get a bunch of people who are in danger of being amongst the following group:
حَتَّىٰ زُرْتُمُ الْمَقَابِرَ
“The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, until you visit the graves (i.e. till you die).” [Surah At-Takathur (102): 1-2]
Think about it.
– To know/feel the beauty of the Quran or Islam; the sadness about not knowing about Islam
Many people find Islam and the Quran beautiful. The disbelievers in the Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) time found the Quran so mesmerising that they would actually go to listen to it being recited!
So wanting to “feel” the beauty of Islam and Quran is not the purpose, rather the purpose is to know Allah and to worship Him.
Yes, Islam and the Quran are beautiful. One of the things that we can derive from that is that the Majesty of Allah, and that should cause us to strengthen our relationship with Him.
Another sister said that she sought knowledge because she felt the sadness about not knowing about Islam. I almost put this one in the second group but then I decided against it.
If she meant that she was sad about not knowing how to worship Allah, then this this answer would belong in the second group.
However, if she meant that she was sad not to learn about Islam due to its beauty, then I would say this is not quite the right answer. As I said above, knowledge of Islam is not sought for its sake but rather due to what it leads to.
Allah has not ordered us to learn each and every aspect of Islam. Rather, we have been ordered to try our best, so we should remember that.
Also, as many of the scholars pointed out, the important thing is to ACT upon your knowledge, even if it (i.e. the knowledge that you possess) is very little. So we should be sad at not practicing the aspects of Islam that we know about, rather than being sad at not knowing every aspect of Islam.
– Greater understanding in order to answer other people’s questions
A lot of people seek knowledge for the above reason. Sadly, it is not the right reason.
Why not? Because it implies that we are learning about our Creator and His religion (okay, so Islam is actually a “deen” i.e. a way of life) in order to answer other people’s questions!
Remember something, brothers and sisters: Islam is the absolute truth. Each and every aspect of it is correct, because it was revealed by the Creator, who is Perfect in every way, therefore His deen is also perfect.
Just because many people do not understand this very simple point, it does not make Islam any less perfect.
Now, there is nothing wrong with trying to correct other people’s misunderstandings. In fact, this is something that we should all strive to do. However, we shouldn’t make this the main reason for learning about Islam. Rather, we should make sure to seek it in order to first strengthen our own knowledge about Allah.
Sadly, we find many people who try to correct other people’s misconceptions about Islam, yet they themselves are not firm in their understanding of Islam!
Now, if the sister meant that she wanted to seek knowledge in order to call people to the worship of Allah, then this would be a secondary reason for seeking knowledge (as per Imam Ahmad’s statement which I mentioned in the first part) . However as I said, the main reason should be to first call ourselves to worship Allah.
– To do ijtihad on day to day issues.
The meaning of ijtihad is to try to arrive at the correct ruling of something. As such, ijtihad is the role of scholars and not the role of laymen.
If the sister meant that she was trying to seek knowledge in order to deduce the correct rulings of everything, well I think that she should first seek knowledge for at least 30 years, because I don’t think anyone can become a mujtahid in less than that time!
However, if she meant that she wishes to know how to worship Allah properly and so wants to learn about the proper way to pray, do wudhu, fast, keep family relations, etc, then this answer would be in the first group.
So, the above were my thoughts on the answers give by many of you.
I’m not saying that I’m right. I’m just asking you to think over what I said.
If what I said is not correct, then as always, you are free to share your input (and you are also free to throw my words into your brains’ Recycle Bin).
In the next part, insha-Allah, I’ll mention more issues related to seeking knowledge.
And Allah knows Better.
To be continued…