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Posts tagged ‘Ramadan Preparation 2011’

2
Jul

Why we need a Ramadan…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Why?

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?

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30
Jun

4 weeks more to go…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

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.

If you dedicate some time to do the Understand Quran courses and also follow this simple tip, you’ll get somewhere, insha-Allah.

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.

27
Jun

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit a week – Habit No. 3

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

[Okay, I have a question: How many of you are trying to follow these habits?]

Now, you might be thinking “Hey, she didn’t say ‘Choosing the third habit'”.

True, I didn’t because I chose it based upon the first two polls. This habit came in second both times.

And I mentioned it in yesterday’s post.

So what is the third habit?

Reciting at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those who don’t understand Arabic).

Okay, let’s take this step by step:

1) Why is this not a habit in the lives of many Muslims?

If one reads the lives of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions (radiallahu anhum), we would find that they were attached to the Quran.

And this is something that most Muslims know so why don’t they attempt to be like this?

Well, if I had to guess, the following reasons might be amongst those that keep us away from the Quran:

a) The Shaytaan

You know, the devil is not dumb. He knows the powerful affect that the Quran has on a person so he tries his utmost to keep us away from it.

b) The lack of understanding leads to boredom.

Sad but true.

Most people don’t understand what they read which is why they really don’t want to read any further.

c) Difficulty in reciting the Quran.

Surprisingly this might be one of the main reasons why many eager beavers, who want to recite the Quran, don’t recite much – because they have great difficulty in doing so.

Spending 1 hour in trying to recite a few ayaat (verses) can be exhausting. However, remember that it is also highly rewarding.

d) Looking for inspiration in the wrong places.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I’ve noticed that many people tend to seek out blog posts and inspirational lectures when they are depressed.

Just a question: Why is it that they don’t turn to the Quran? Is there anything more inspiring than the words of the Lord of the Worlds?

Also, listen to this short lecture that I linked to earlier.

e) Seeking advanced knowledge whilst leaving the basics.

I remember one of my teachers pointing out that the Quran was the foundation so we should make more of an effort to keep in touch with it.

I’ve seen many students who regularly attend Islamic classes but have not memorised more than Juz Amma.

Why is that? Why aren’t we focusing on the Quran, on it memorisation and on its explanation?

f) Not understanding one’s priorities.

It doesn’t matter how much work you have, you are still required to keep in touch with the Quran.

If one doesn’t regularly recite the Quran, one is considered to have deserted it.

2) What are the difficulties people face in reciting the Quran daily?

I mentioned two of the reasons above: lack of understanding and difficulty in recitation.

Another reason might be not dedicating a fixed time to reciting it. It doesn’t have to be an hour. You could start with 5-10 minutes and then work your way up from there.

3) What can one do in order to make this a habit?

Right, here are some tips:

a) Decide when and how much you’re going to recite and stick with it.

Do you want to do it after Fajr? Or before sleeping? Or after lunch?

[Note: It’s much easier to recite on an empty stomach.]

How much will you recite? Try to make it at least a page. If that’s too much, then at least half a page.

b) If you don’t understand Arabic, get a nice translation.

You could try to get a word to work translation as well.

Of course, this is just a temporary measure until you understand Arabic.

[Oh and you can also use a Quran journal whilst you read so that you can record your questions, thoughts, etc.]

c) If you can’t recite properly, get some tapes of a good reciter.

Or as I said yesterday, you could use http://tanzil.net as then there’s no need to buy any tapes or translation.

d) Do dua and stick to the rountine until it becomes a habit.

Try and try until you get there.

Let’s try this for two weeks, insha-Allah.

Do any of you have any tips? Feel free to share, insha-Allah.

PS. Has everyone gone for away for the summer holidays? Certainly looks like it…


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.

1
Jun

8 more weeks to go…

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

Yes, just 8 more weeks to go before The Greatest Month is here.

I have a feeling that, like me, you find it both depressing and exciting.

Depressing – because we haven’t prepared much for it.

Exciting – because we all love Ramadan.

So, what do we need to work on during these 8 weeks?

Well, to summarise my previous posts, we need to:

1) Improve the quality and quantity of our salaah (prayer)

2) Increase the amount of time that we spend with the Quran

3) Improve our Arabic so that we benefit from both points 1 and 2 above

4) Make up any missed fasts or start doing some voluntary fasts (for those who have no missed fasts to make up)

5) Improve our health and fitness

6) Learn the fiqh of fasting and other aspects of Ramadan (for those who haven’t done so already)

In case you’re wondering why I didn’t mention “improve our character”, that’s because I personally believe that Points 1, 2 and 4 will help do that. However, that’s a topic for a later blog post, insha-Allah.

That’s just a short list of some of the things that we need to work on.

Insha-Allah, I will try to go over all of them in more detail in future posts.

A question for all of you: Is there anything else that you’d like me to cover? If so, please let me know, insha-Allah.

I’ll have more time starting from next week so I plan to:

a) Dedicate the next two months solely to all the Ramadan series, meaning that I won’t be putting up the websites/books/articles/lectures that I usually do.

Your thoughts? Look, if you want me to continue putting them on this blog, then just say so.

As I’ve said before, this is not my blog, rather this is our blog so your opinions do matter.

b) Finish all the pending series, insha-Allah.

c) Write in more detail about various scenarios e.g. how pregnant women can benefit from Ramadan or how those that work and study at the same time can find time for the ibaadah (worship) during Ramadan.

Any more ideas?

18
May

Countdown to Ramadan: Changing one habit at a time

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum.

So, there are less than 10 weeks to go before Ramadan.

And they say habits take 14-21 days to form (supposedly).

So, if we assume that changing a habit takes 2 weeks, we can change about 5 bad habits to good habits before Ramadan.

So, I thought that perhaps we could all tackle this together because I have a sneaky suspicion that most of us share the same bad habits.

How will this work, you ask?

Well, I was thinking about doing it the following way:

1) I list out a bunch of ideas for the habit that we need to change this fortnight.

2) Everyone votes.

3) The habit that “wins” is the habit that all of us (those that commented) need to start implementing for the next two weeks – for ALL fourteen days. [That’s assuming that you are not already implementing it, of course.]

4) I mention subtle reminders about this habit for the next 2 weeks.

5) At the end of the two weeks, everyone (at least those who want to participate) mentions how they did, what difficulties they had and how they overcame them.

6) After this, we move on to changing another habit.

Of course, this all depends on how many people participate…

So, let me start by listing out a list of habits that we could work on. Whoever is interested in participating should vote for the habit that they’d like to start changing first.

Here goes:

1) Wake up for Fajr (early) and not go back to sleep – If we stopped doing that, we would have loads more time and energy on our hands.

2) Stop the caffeine (tea/coffee) addiction – This way, we won’t snooze through the first week of Ramadan (because our bodies are getting used to the lack of caffeine).

3) Recite at least one page of the Quran daily with the translation (for those that don’t understand Arabic).

4) Pray all five prayers at their earliest times – This is one of the best deeds.

5) Walk for at least 15 minutes – If we need energy, we have to do this.

We can use the Habitator to keep track of our daily progress.

So, what do you think? Which habit should we all start with? I’m inclined towards no. 1 as that will end up helping with the remaining 4 in the long run.

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.