بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Somehow, I knew that word would catch your eye.
What is “Al-Muhajiroon”?
Well, that’s the name of a bi-monthly magazine run by the sisters at the Enlightened into Islam Center in Kuwait. [Here’s their blog.]
And it’s quite nice indeed. [Those of you who want to know more about the Names of Allah will REALLY like it. They have an article on a Name in each issue.]
You can download all the previous issues here.
Here are the Ramadan issues:
[Click on the picture to download the issue.]
1) Servitude in Fasting (Year 1429 AH)
2) What is after Ramadan? (Year 1430 AH)
3) Two Occasions of Joy for the Person Observing Saum (Fasting) (Year 1431 AH)
4) Patience and Gratitude during the Month of Ramadan (Year 1432 AH)
5) Lailatul Qadr – The Night of Decree (Year 1433 AH i.e. this year’s edition)
The Centre has also produced a couple of books. You can find them all online here.
Two of them are related to Ramadan:
[Click on the picture to download the book.]
1) The Verdicts of Fasting
2) Zakaat-ul-Fitr (The Breaking Fast Charity)
PS. It’s a total coincidence that three of the last four posts (including this one) have links to Islamic magazines.
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
[So, I write that I’m going to continue this series because I’m enjoying learning about the Names of Allah. After this, I get a flood of comments asking me to continue the series.
Did I miss something?]
The dua (supplication) which I referred to in yesterday’s post is as follows:
[Congratulations to the one who guessed it correctly.]
ما يمنعك أن تسمعي ما أوصيك به ؟ أن تقولي إذا أصبحت و إذا أمسيت : يا حي يا قيوم برحمتك أستغيث ، أصلح لي شأني كله ، و لا تكلني إلى نفسي طرفة عين
Anas ibn Malik (radiallahu anhu) narrated that the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said to Fatima (radiallahu anha): “What prevents you from listening to what I have advised you with, or saying at the onset of every morning and evening: “O Ever Living One, O Self Sustaining One, by Your Mercy I seek assistance, rectify for me all my affairs, and do not leave me to myself even for the blink of any eye.” [Sahih At-Targhib Wat-Tarhib, Hadeeth No. 661]
What can we learn from this hadeeth?
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Okay, technically we in the Emirates still have an hour to go but it’s already Ramadan in the Far East.]
Ramadan Mubarak to everyone.
[Last year, for the first time ever, I said “Ramadan Kareem” and then I came across a fatwa of Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen (rahimahullah) stating that it is not correct to say this.]
Well, we need to:
1) Start increasing in our ibaadah from the first MINUTE of Ramadan (that would be the Adhan of Maghrib).
2) Take it hour by hour and day by day. Don’t think about tomorrow. Think about NOW.
3) Pace ourselves so that we are in peak form by the time the last ten days roll around (Sorry, I watched too much sports as a youngster.)
4) PLAN and then act according to the plan as best as possible.
5) Try to worship Allah best in whatever situation we are in. If we are stuck in traffic for example, we could do istighfar (seek forgiveness), do dhikr (remembrance), review our Quran memorisation, listen to an Islamic lecture, etc.
Remember: Any situation can be turned into a good situation and a good situation is the one where Allah is remembered, not forgotten.
What about the blog?
Well, I need to:
– Reply to all the comments (no, I haven’t forgotten).
– Continue with the remaining series.
– Mention some common Ramadan scenarios (e.g. pregnant woman, university student, man stuck in office, woman stuck with many kiddies and even more dishes, etc)
– Put up some Ramadan lectures.
[I’ll be posting more than once a day, insha-Allah.]
Nothing special for Ramadan, you say?
Well, there is a little series I had in mind for this blog and for the Tafsir and Haafidh blogs as well.
The series will start tomorrow, insha-Allah.
May Allah make it easy for us and accept our Ramadan.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Which way, you ask?
Well, by finishing off any pending tasks before Ramadan comes.
For example, if you want to do spring cleaning, do NOT do it in Ramadan. Do it now.
If you want to shop for food or Eid clothes, do that in Shabaan, NOT in Ramadan.
If you have any work that has been pending for a long time, then do your best to finish it off BEFORE Ramadan. [That bit of advice was directed towards myself…]
What about if you have important stuff due in Ramadan?
For example, what if you’re taking a summer course and the exam is in Ramadan?
Well, why can’t you try to start studying before Ramadan so at least you’ll have to devote less time to studying in Ramadan?
So, how can you finish off all the pending work before Ramadan?
1) Take a piece of paper (or better yet, your Ramadan journal)
2) Write down each and every possible current pending task that you can think of even if it’s “Need to get around to visiting Mother-in-law”.
3) Write down any work that you might have to do in Ramadan (i.e. stuff that cannot be fully completed before Ramadan) and try to see if you can finish any part of it off before Ramadan rolls around.
4) Start doing them.
5) Finish them off before Ramadan.
“What about all the the cooking? That’s what takes up most of my time! How can I do that before Ramadan?”
Actually, there is a way around this problem.
A sister I know, who works night shifts and long hours, cooks two weeks worth of food for her family, stores them in containers (and labels them) and then puts them in the freezer.
She does this because she has too much work and so cannot cook on a daily basis so this reduces her workload considerably.
Now, you might say that this is not very healthy. Yes, but if you heat the food properly, it won’t kill you. It’s better than junk food, isn’t it? And it’s just for a month anyway.
So, I think that this is something that the sisters can do before Ramadan: cook ahead of time. This way, they could get some relief from their cooking duties before Ramadan.
[Of course, this can only be done if all the family members are okay with it.]
Oh and to all those who complain about all those dishes that need to be washed: use plastic plates (assuming that your family does not freak out) for this month.
And no, it’s not a waste of money. You’ll be buying those plastic plates so that you have more time to worship Allah.
That’s a good bargain if you ask me…
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I was thinking about the areas that we mess up in the most during this great month. What are the things that we could (and should) do that would help us improve our Ramadan?
1) We can (and should) sleep less.
Yes, yes, I know. You might say: “Hey most of us sleep less during this month!”
I beg to differ. I think that people snooze more in this month (or at least that’s what the people in this part of the world do) than they do outside of it.
This is NOT the month of “catching up on our sleep”.
2) We can (and should) stop wasting our time with useless activities, and instead focus on our ibaadah (worship).
Want to surf the Internet? Well, do it after Ramadan.
Part of the reason that we waste our time is that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that fasting is only achieved by staying hungry and as we are staying hungry, we are in a state of worship.
Well, no, there’s much more to fasting than just starving.
3) We can (and should) eat healthy food.
Yes, we can. Really.
Just stand in front of the mirror and repeat it a hundred times. Mass repetition is known to help the brain accept an idea, no matter how impossible it sounds.
[Oh and we can (and should) eat less as well. That would really end many a woman’s kitchen nightmares….]
4) We can (and should) stop fighting with each other in the masjid.
Completely silly question: Is there any particular reason that we all single out Ramadan for masjid fights……..?
5) We can (and should) take it hour by hour and not think too far ahead.
One of the main reasons that many of us flunk in Ramadan is that we go all out in the first few days and then fizzle out early. Instead, we need to take things step by step.
Question to all of you (if you’re still around. Everyone seems to have disappeared?): What other things are there that we can (and should) do in order to have a great Ramadan?
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.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
[Note: Lots of you asked me how my “break” went and wondered if I had lots of “rest”.
Let me be clear: I took a blogging break so that I would have time to do other work. So far from a break, I was actually slogging away!]
So, you voted for the habit that you wanted to change and it seems that No. 1 (i.e. Do Fajr early and don’t go back to sleep after that) wins because:
1) The majority wins
2) As a few of you pointed out, it is the most challenging one. So wouldn’t it be better to start with the most challenging one rather than the easiest one?
3) If we can accomplish this, it will actually help a great deal towards establishing the other habits mentioned.
4) I wanted to start with this habit. [Look, I run the blog. That has to count for something.]
Okay, so let’s do this step by step:
- To wake early for Fajr and not go back to sleep afterwards.
2) Length of time
- To do this for the next 21 days, insha-Allah.
I had originally said 14 days but I think that it might be too short.
Now, you’ll notice that I said “21 days” and not for the rest of our lives. Why? Because it’s easier to focus for 21 days, and then keep extending this time for a few more days. By then, insha-Allah, it would have become a habit.
If we think of this as an “all my life” sort of thing, we will 1) Get exhausted early and 2) Be deluding ourselves as our lives may end before the 21 day time limit. We should just take things a day at a time, insha-Allah.
3) Benefits gained from achieving this objective
- It’s the sunnah (the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam did not sleep after Fajr, rather he took a short nap in the afternoon).
- Gain barakah (blessings) as the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked Allah to bless his Ummah in the mornings. [The hadeeth is mentioned in this question. However, I should point out that there seems to be a difference of opinion on the authenticity of this hadeeth. You may check the Dorar results here.]
- Have more time in the day
- Have more energy throughout the day
- Be able to pray all the 5 prayers at their earliest times
- It will helps us get up for tahajjud. If we can’t get up early for Fajr, then praying tahajjud will be difficult as it’s even earlier than Fajr!
- Benefit from Ramadan instead of sleeping the whole day (yes, this happens to quite a few people. They sleep after Fajr and get up somewhere towards the end of Dhuhr!)
Any others that you’d like to add?
4) Difficulties that may arise when trying to attain this objective
- Difficulty in getting up for Fajr to begin with
- Too tired to stay awake due to a late night and a long day ahead
- Not being able to do this day in and day out
Any others that you can think of?
5) Steps to be taken to solve the difficulties mentioned above
Okay, so how can we get up and stay up?
Yes. This is the first step that we need to take. We need to ask Allah and keep asking Him to help us achieve this objective
b) Give ourselves enough time to sleep in the night
Firstly, anyone who still believes in that myth about humans needing 8 hours of sleep should be ashamed of themselves. I’m sorry but that’s one third of the day! Did the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and his Companions ever sleep that much???
Secondly, what time one sleeps depends on a) when one needs to wake up and b) the type of sleeper that one is.
The adhan of Fajr in Dubai is currently 4:05 am. I am the kind of person who needs at least 4 hours of sleep at a stretch, meaning that if I sleep at 2am, there’s a 99.9999% chance of me oversleeping Fajr. On top of that, I’m also an insomniac.
So, that means that I should at least try to sleep by 11pm (and it’s already 12 as I type this!) in order to get enough sleep.
Of course, sleeping early is one of the main issues that people have due to a variety of reasons (work, children, household chores, too much socializing, etc).
So, at least what one should start to do is try to sleep earlier than usual step by step. So, if you normally sleep at 2, try to sleep at 1:45. If you sleep at 1:30, try to sleep at 1:15. Try to do this (i.e. sleep 15 mins earlier) every few days.
The reason that I mention the step by step approach is that for many people their sleep time depends on when their families sleep. So, if your whole family is the type that sleeps at 1am, it’s going to be REALLY difficult for you to disappear at 11, isn’t it? (Especially if you’re the mother and you need to put the kids to sleep first.)
So, the only way to get the whole family to sleep earlier might be to do it the gentle way (i.e a few mins earlier every day).
Insha-Allah, in the next part, I’ll talk about some more techniques that we could all try to wake up for Fajr and stay up.
I would have typed it out now but I need to wake up early for Fajr tomorrow, insha-Allah.
To be continued…
PS. When is the first day of this challenge? Let’s make it from Saturday onwards (day after tomorrow), insha-Allah.