بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Remember this series? The last part discussed khushoo (humility) in prayer.
Salaah (prayer) is the second pillar of Islam. After this comes the zakaah (the obligatory charity).
[Note: It is zakaah and not zakaat. And while we’re having a language lesson, I’d also like to point out that “namaz” is an Urdu/Farsi/Turkish word, not an Arabic word so could we please stop using it in the English language? Baarakallahu feekum.]
Prayer is the right of Allah, whereas zakaah is the right of the slaves of Allah.
Allah has mentioned salaah and zakaah together 82 times in the Quran (according to Shaikh Saleh Al-Fawzan), thereby showing how intertwined these two really are.
So it’s strange to find people who pray but do not give zakaah. [Of course, it’s even stranger to find people who give zakaah but do not pray!]
If one wants to be a complete Muslim, one should fulfill both the rights of Allah and the rights of creation. Safeguarding one’s prayers and paying the zakaah are the first steps towards that.
I’m completely useless with the fiqh (jurisprudence) of zakaah so I won’t even go there. [I studied it 4 times and it just keeps going above my head.] You may find many resources here though.
However, I’d like to point out the following important points:
1) Zakaah is obligatory but sadaqah (charity) isn’t.
Zakaah is a bit like the five obligatory prayers and sadaqah is a bit like the voluntary prayers, in the sense that you have the obligatory part for everyone and you also have the voluntary part for those that want to go the extra mile.
2) Zakaah is not necessarily due in Ramadan. It is due when one (lunar) year passes on the wealth.
You might have multiple times where you pay zakaah during the year as you might have zakaah due on different things.
4) Zakaah and Zakaatul fitr are two totally different things.
The former is due after one (lunar) year. The latter is due at the end of Ramadan and is paid in the form of food.
5) Zakaah is not due on everybody. It is only due on those who fulfill the required conditions .
6) The one who doesn’t pay the zakaah out of stinginess is a major sinner. However, the one who doesn’t pay the zakaah because he doesn’t think it it obligatory is a disbeliever.
7) Zakaah can only be given to one of eight categories of people, whereas there is no restriction on who sadaqah can be given to.
Apart from the fasts and the night prayers, what also distinguishes Ramadan from the other months is the brotherhood (which is shown through the zakaah and sadaqah). So we need to extend this brotherhood to the other months as well.
Unfortunately, one of the issues that we’re facing today as an ummah (nation) is that the money flows in during Ramadan and all the people in need get enough.
However, in the other 11 months, the well seems to dry up.
Why is that? Well, I guess it’s the same reason that some people pray only in Ramadan but not outside of it.
The reason is that they don’t understand the Names and Attributes of Allah, nor do they know about His Rights. Due to this, they cheat themselves by only worshipping Him during Ramadan.
So, it is incumbent for the one who is truly sincere in worshipping Allah that he does so 12 months a year, not just one!
So we not only need to work on improving our prayers but we also need to be more consistent in giving charity.
An amazing story of consistency in giving charity would be Shaikh ibn Baz (rahimahullah). I heard that he gave so much charity that he never paid zakaah (because his wealth did not fulfill the conditions as he gave it away before the year passed), subhan Allah.
Insha-Allah, in the next post of this series, I’ll clear up some misunderstandings that people have about charity.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about how important the salah (prayer) is.
There are two aspects of the salah: the outward actions and the inward actions.
The outward actions (i.e. that of the limbs and the tongue) all have to be in accordance with the salah of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam).
What about the inner actions? Well, that would be the actions of the heart.
That’s where the khushoo issue comes in. Khushoo, simply put, is the humility that one feels in salah.
You know, it’s that feeling. We all read about it and dream of attaining it. The key word here is dream.
Many people just think “Insha-Allah, one day I’ll pray with khushoo” and don’t take the steps that are necessary to achieve it.
What kind of steps do we need to take?
Well, I think that can be divided into two parts:
1) Just before and during the salah.
2) Outside the salah.
As for the first part, that involves many steps. I’ll just mention one.
Pay attention to what you are saying.
Yes, that’s it. Just focus and try to ponder over what you’re saying. Remember that Allah is watching you.
Just try this simple step and see how it goes. Whenever I focus on the salah, I get a different feeling.
In order to do this, you’d have to 1) understand the words of salah and 2) mix it up once in a while.
Mix up what, you ask? You know, vary the short surahs after Al-Fatihah (it doesn’t always have to be Surah Al-Ikhlaas, you know) and the various adkhar (supplications) in rukoo (bowing) and sujood (prostrating).
That was the easy part. The second step is much more difficult.
See, khushoo in salah is ultimately attained by having khushoo outside of it.
The reason that it’s so difficult for us to remain focused on Allah for a mere 15 minutes is because many of us don’t focus on Him the entire day.
How is it that we can forget about Allah for the whole day and then expect to be close to Him in prayer? Do we really think it’s as easy as flipping a switch?
No, it isn’t. The person who has forgotten Allah outside of prayer will not be allowed to remember Him in prayer. It’s as simple as that.
We all claim that the salah is very important to us so let’s ask ourselves some questions:
1) Do we constantly supplicate to Allah to grant us khushoo in our salah?
2) Have we made attaining khushoo in salah a priority in life?
3) Did we try to figure out how we can improve the quality of our salah?
4) Did we try to do some research on some ways that we can attain khushoo?
5) When we pray without khushoo, does it leave us feeling saddened and disgusted with ourselves? Or do we just let it go?
6) Does our entire day revolve around the salah? Do we plan all our days according to the prayer times?
7) Has our salah improved us as people? Has it brought us closer to the Lord of the Worlds?
We need to remember one thing: it is possible to attain khushoo. However, we need to change our attitudes, put in the required effort and keep slogging away until we get there, insha-Allah.
And even if we don’t get there, then at least when we are questioned on the Day of Judgment, we can say that we tried.
Yes indeed. We are what our salah is.
What do I mean by that?
It means that our level of righteousness can be checked by the quality of our prayers.
Allah has mentioned many traits of the believers in the Quran. The first action of the limbs that is usually mentioned is the salah.
Also, the believers don’t just pray, rather they establish the salah and pray with khushoo (humility).
What are the proofs? The Quran is replete with references to the salah. This time I’m not going to provide the references because I’d like you to open up the Quran and search for yourself, insha-Allah.
So, what does all of this mean? Well, if we want to determine how “pious” we are, we should ask ourselves the following questions:
1) Do we consistently pray the five obligatory prayers at their proper times? Do we try to pray them at their earliest times? Do we do the adhkar (remembrances) after the salah?
2) Do we consistently pray the rawaatib (sunnah) prayers?
3) Do we ever pray tahajjud (the night prayers)? Are we consistent? Do we ever pray any of those long Ramadan-type Qiyam Al-Layl prayers outside of Ramadan?
4) Do we ever pray any of the other prayers like Dhuha, the 2 rakahs after entering the masjid, the 2 rakahs after doing wudhoo, etc?
5) Does our prayer resemble the prayer of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam)? Do we pray according to the Quran and the Sunnah, or the way that “we were taught”?
6) How much focus do we have in the salah? Do we feel a sense of contentment and joy during our salah? Do we look forward to praying or is it a drag for us?
Yes, I know. These questions are very depressing. It depressed me just to write them but I had do because we all need to ask ourselves these questions.
I’ve noticed that when my salah quality is good, everything in my life is going well. And if the quality sucks, then my life seems very bad.
Think about it and you might realise that it is the same case with you.
One of the reasons that Ramadan is such a nice month for us is because we are so focused on the prayers. Our day revolves around them and we have more khushoo in them as compared to outside Ramadan.
So, we all need to work on our salah.
Why? Because we are what our salah is.
In order to what, you ask?
In order to really change your life for the better and do good deeds.
Why not wait for Ramadan? Because we don’t know if we’ll get there. And we’ll also be wasting precious time by just waiting.
Too often, people say: “Insha-Allah, I’ll change in Ramadan or after Hajj.”
To these people, I ask the following questions:
1) If you really want to change, what is stopping you from doing so NOW?
2) What difference does it make whether it’s Ramadan or Safar? Allah is the Lord of the Worlds, not just the Lord of Ramadan or the Lord of Hajj.
3) Will you really be able to change in Ramadan or after Hajj? Chances are that you’ll delay it again. I’ve seen this happen to many people.
So, I advise myself and all of you: let’s do whatever good that we can do now, because we don’t know where we’ll be tomorrow. We can plan all we want to for tomorrow but Allah is the Best of Planners.
As the saying goes: There’s no time like the present.
And indeed there isn’t. The past is a fading memory and the future might as well be a fog. The present though is right here with us now so let’s make use of it.
Yes, I know. Perhaps I actually managed to befuddle you with that title. [Then again, perhaps not.]
Okay, so what is the point of the Recover Ramadan project, you ask?
Well, it’s to remind us that we always need to be striving hard to try to please Allah. That’s what we do in Ramadan and that’s what we need to do outside of it.
Too often, we forget the purpose of the salah, charity, fasting, dua, obedience to parents, good character, marriage, etc.
Yes, they are all good deeds (with the proper intention) but why are we doing them again? Ultimately, any good deed should be done as a form of worship to Allah in order to achieve His Pleasure.
Now you might say: “But a person can get married just because he/she wants to, and a person might just be good to his parents because he loves them! What’s wrong with that?”
Well, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, that’s not al-ihsan. What’s al-ihsan? It’s worshipping Allah as though you see Him. That’s the highest level that a Muslim can reach.
So, a muhsin (one who attains al-ihsan) would intend to get married because it is pleasing to Allah and would strive to obey his parents (in matters that are not contrary to the shariah) because that is what Allah loves. See the difference? This person performs daily life activities as a way of worshipping Allah.
Why? Because he/she always remembers the purpose of doing those deeds.
So, be sure to never forget the purpose, because if we forget the purpose, we’ll lose our way.
PS. I hope the post itself didn’t befuddle any of you.
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I spoke about adjusting our attitude.
I found this interesting lecture (I’m still at the beginning) by Dr. Bilal Philips about the “shackles” of the mind. The example that he starts of with is also interesting: the Day of Eid.
Then, he moves on to explain how Surah Al-Fatiha talks about the shackles of the mind.
Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?
[According to the comments, this is a straight to the point lecture. Just my type.]
Shackles of the Mind by Dr. Bilal Philips
In the last Recover Ramadan post, I asked what all the first six steps had in common.
The answer? All of them are connected to a change in attitude.
See, this is the main problem: our attitude.
For example, many Muslims have this belief that following Islam properly will somehow hamper their life and stop them from “having fun.” They think of Islam as some sort of shackle.
Well, that’s wrong because this dunya (worldly life) is actually the shackle but most people fail to realise that.
So, such people need to start thinking of Islam as something that frees them rather than something that traps them. After this, they’ll stop regarding Islam as a burden and will enjoy practicing it.
So, we need to figure what issues we may have with our attitude with regards to pleasing Allah and then solve them, insha-Allah.
The next few parts will deal with more “attitude problems”, insha-Allah.
It’s true, you know.
Best Days of the Year = The First Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah.
And we’re still in Dhul Qaaidah.
[Oh, you thought that I meant something else? Sorry.]
So, what do we do? Well, how about if we start preparing for it? You know, so that we can squeeze these 10 days for all they are worth?
See, these 10 days are almost like a mini-Ramadan (talk about recovering Ramadan, huh?). The only reason that we don’t think that way is because they’re not as heavily advertised as Ramadan.
What’s the first thing to do? Well, we need to read about the virtues of these great days, of course.
Here’s a really nice treatise on this matter that discusses their virtues as well as the recommended deeds to be done during them (no, Hajj is not the only recommended deed that can be done in them):
So far, we’ve had 6 steps, alhamdulillah.
A question for all of you:
What do all the previous steps have in common?
Once you understand this, then you’ll see why I started with them as opposed to starting with “Try to pray each prayer on time” or “Try to read a few ayaat of the Quran each day”.
PS. How’s the series so far? Any suggestions? Were you expecting something else?
PPS. My apologies for the length of the posts. I’ll try to make them shorter, insha-Allah, as promised.