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
[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
[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…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Insha-Allah, I’ll be starting a new series on preparing for Ramadan 2012 (much like the ones I had the previous 2 years).
I think that all of us need to work on the following ahead of Ramadan:
1) Ibaadah (worship)
This includes our prayers, fasting, charity, dua (supplication), adhkar (remembrance), reciting the Quran, etc.
2) Seeking knowledge
This is something that each and every one of us needs to do: seek knowledge.
Why? Because we need to worship Allah based on knowledge, not on our own fantasies, desires or logic.
So in order for us to worship Him based on knowledge, we need to learn this knowledge first. Simple, isn’t it?
Insha-Allah, the first few posts of this series will focus on this aspect because this is the main problem that most people have (from what I’ve seen anyway).
I’m going to cover learning Arabic (and understanding the Quran), as well as give an overview of the various sciences of Islam.
3) Health and Fitness
[Yes, I am rather obsessed with this topic. I’m sure you’ve noticed.]
So, we want to fast the whole day (without sleeping) and not end up stuffing our faces at iftar time.
We also want to then stand up in prayer the whole night without dozing off.
Okay, this is not going to happen if the only time we use the word “walk” in our daily lives is “I’m going to walk to the elevator.”
We need to MOVE. And we also need to eat properly.
This is our third major problem (after lack of knowledge and ibaadah). It’s one of the reasons why many of us are always tired. We’re just not fit enough.
So, in order for us NOT to sleepwalk through Ramadan, we have to start working on this aspect.
4) Logistics and planning
Okay, I wasn’t sure how to phrase this one. What I meant was all the other stuff that we need to take care of.
For example, suppose you are not sure what you’ll be doing come July and August (especially as this is holiday time for most people). You need to plan and make sure that the environment you’ll be in is conducive to having a proper Ramadan.
Many people want to have their summer holidays so they go abroad. Well, one needs to make sure that they aren’t going for Kenyan safaris during Ramadan, if you know what I mean.
So, those are the four areas that I plan to cover, inshaAllah.
[I had originally planned to make worksheets as I’ve found them to be very helpful, but seeing that most people have difficulty finding time to participate in polls and surveys, etc, I realised that it wouldn’t be very helpful because most people wouldn’t use them.]
Are there any others that you can think of? If so, please do share, barakallahu feekum.
As for the other series, yes, I plan to continue with them as well, insha-Allah. This will include the Lord of the Worlds series.
Are there any other things that you’d like me to focus on? Or any particular topics that you’d like me to address? As I’ve said before, this is our blog, not my blog.
[I’ve read all the previous suggestions and I plan to implement them, insha-Allah. I meant something else in addition to these.]
Lastly, please remember that if we truly want something, we will put in the effort. [Remember this post?]
PS. I don’t think I’ll be very consistent in posting for the next 2.5 months because of other work that I need to focus on. I’ll try, insha-Allah but no promises.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So, how can one jumpstart it?
Well, I thought of 6 ways – all of them being things which cause one’s iman (faith) to rise.
If the iman rises, then the deeds increase which in turn causes the iman to rise even further.
So, here’s what I would do to jumpstart things:
[Of course, there are other ways as well.]
1) Do istighfar (seeking forgiveness) and taubah (repentance)
There’s nothing like bad deeds to hold a person back.
And there’s nothing like repentance to get them going again.
2) Attend the circles of knowledge
This one is a real iman booster.
It’s not just the knowledge. It’s also the serene feeling that one gets in these circles. Also, this is where you meet righteous sisters – not in Deira City Centre*.
[*To non-UAEers: This is a positively horrid shopping mall.]
3) Dua (supplication)
Don’t ask Allah. BEG Him.
4) Read the books of tawheed (worshipping Allah alone)
Knowing Allah is the foundation of all good things. And the books of tawheed introduce us to Allah, His Majesty, His Name and His Attributes, His rights over us, etc.
If you want an iman boosting book, pick up a book on tawheed.
5) Think about death.
There’s nothing like death to get the blood rushing (no pun intended).
Just thinking of it should be enough for a person to rush to do good deeds.
6) Take a day off and focus exclusively on your ibaadah (worship)
Busy with lots of stuff? Try to take just ONE day off where you stay at home and essentially focus on your ibaadah.
It really makes a WORLD of difference.
For those who are always around people, if you can try to be alone for that day, then that would be better.
I’ve always noticed that when I have a quiet day to myself (or as much as I can manage, I suppose), I have time to reflect and think. I can also try to work out what to do next. It makes things so much easier.
So, those were my suggestions. What other ways would you recommend to jumpstart one’s Ramadan preparations?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The list could fill a few volumes.
However, I think there’s one lecture that really summarises why we need this great month.
It’s by Brother Abu Uwais (rahimahullah).
I posted it last year along with its transcript.
The brother’s words are something to ponder over, may Allah reward him.
PS. It would also be good if each of us asked ourselves why WE need a Ramadan. What problems do each of us have and how will Ramadan help us to rectify ourselves?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Just one month left before the main event…
We should all ask ourselves:
1) Have we finished our pending fasts from last year?
2) Do we do dua to Allah to enable us to reach Ramadan and benefit from it?
3) Have we started to increase in our ibaadah (worship)?
4) Are we just daydreaming or do we really have goals which we are striving to attain this Ramadan?
5) Do we have a plan for pre-Ramadan (Shabaan), Ramadan and post-Ramadan (Shawwal) so that we can maintain out high levels of iman?
If we haven’t gotten started, we need to do so now.
It doesn’t matter if we have work, we still have to make time for this.
And for those who haven’t prepared much for Ramadan, I’d ask you to work backwards:
1) Write the 5-7 major goals that you want to achieve in Ramadan. [It helps to try to remember the things which messed up past Ramadans and then write the exact opposite thing.]
2) Write what you need to do in Shabaan to achieve them.
3) Start working!
For example, if one of your major goals is to understand the taraweeh prayers, then you need to be able to understand Quranic Arabic.
Impossible in a month? Well, no.
What about if your goal is to get healthy by Ramadan?
Too late? Of course not.
Just change your diet (starting from right now!) and start walking. You should see a big improvement in your health in a month’s time, insha-Allah.
So, it’s not that difficult.
Remember: Just write everything down and start working.
Also, remember one more thing: If you get into action now, it will benefit you whether you reach Ramadan or not.
If you reach Ramadan, you will be prepared for it, insha-Allah. And if you die before Ramadan, you’ll die in a higher state of iman, insha-Allah. So, it will be a win-win situation.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Bad Ramadan Prep so far? Here’s what you could do:
1) Don’t panic.
Look at the bright side: you still have over a month to repair the damage. A month is a long time.
2) Don’t give up.
That might sound weird but many people do tend to mentally give up on having a great Ramadan just because they weren’t well-prepared for it.
3) Don’t wait for the next Ramadan.
This one might also sound weird but I know that I used to go through this in the past.
The Ramadan Prep and the first few weeks of Ramadan would not be great so I would just imagine that next year’s Ramadan would be the Awesome Ramadan.
However, a few Ramadans ago, I had a dreadful first 2 weeks due to being ill. I spent most of the time sleeping.
Ironically, the last ten days of that Ramadan were probably my best ever. That made me realise that the way you end Ramadan is more important than the way you begin it.
So, even if your preparation is going bad, or if you aren’t doing well in the first 2-3 weeks of Ramadan, DO NOT GIVE UP.
Just keep going until Shawwal.
What if the entire Ramadan was dreadful?
Well, assuming you’re still alive at the end of it, could you please enlighten me as to what would stop you from having a great Shawwal? Allah is not just the Lord of Ramadan, but rather the Lord of the Worlds.
This might seem like an incredibly strange post. However, I thought it was necessary because I know that there might be people out there who would make the same mistake that I made years ago and give up because they couldn’t have their ideal Ramadan.
You know, we’ll never have that ideal Ramadan but that shouldn’t stop us from trying to get as close as we can to the dream.