The amazing opportunity of Ramadan is quickly slipping through our fingers; this is not the time to cry over the days that have passed. It is not too late and every second can be made to count. Here is a partial list of ways to make use of the incredible spiritual phenomenon called Ramadan: 1) Maximize doing those deeds that are unique to Ramadan and can be only done in this month: taraweeh, iftar sa’im (breaking the fast of the fasting), qiyam (nightly prayer) and seeking the night of Qadr. 2) Turn in every spare moment to Quran for this is the month of Quran, and Quran is a banquet. Partake of its feast by reading, memorizing, reading the explanation of and most importantly reflecting upon. 3) This is the month of empathy when the feeling of goodwill towards all, should spill over to generosity in words, actions and giving to: your relatives, friends, neighbors and total strangers. Give in to the feeling and act upon it. 4) It follows that this is the month in which Allah makes it easy for you to forgive and forget and free yourself of ugly feelings and grudges. Let Ramadan rinse out your heart of all emotions that muddy the waters of your heart thus making it impossible for you to reflect the noor and barakah of this month. 5) Take advantage of the most fantastical fantasy come true: answered prayers! Just before iftar begin your session of dua’ and continue till after breaking your fast. Maybe you have used up your chance at wishes coming true in the past days on everyday common matters. For the days left make dua primarily for your Iman. Turn in burning fervor to Allah asking him to show you what is right as right and to allow you to follow it; and to show you what is wrong as wrong and to allow you to avoid it. Ask for steadfastness as well. I plead with you to do so in the remaining days. Times are such that as Muslims we are bombarded with so much hurt from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Madness seeks to prevail and sadly it has seeped through the cracks of our Iman spreading poison into our system. Never before have the given principles of Islam been so attested and attacked. Never before have so many sincere and religious Muslims been so confused and disillusioned. Dua at iftar in Ramadan can break through the layers of doubt and disorientation. Make dua that Allah cure the eyes of your heart, the judgment of your heart and then grant you the needed self-discipline to heed your guided heart. 6) Pay your fitra with your heart atremble, ‘has my Ramadan been accepted?’ 7) Remember eid is not about you celebrating and joining the festivities of your community. Seek out now and make a list of those who have no family, no means of celebration or no access to a community; make it your job to bring joy to all especially the children. May this Eid bring a healing to the broken Muslim hearts all over the world, a new sense of clarity and a renewed drive to reach out to our fellow mortals in help and care – ameen.
Once upon a time there lived a very important Prophet called Ibraheem. When his baby Ismaeel was born, Allah asked Prophet Ibraheem to take the baby and his mother to the desert and leave them alone there. Hajar, the baby’s mother, knew that Allah would take care of them so when the baby began to cry with thirst she climbed up a nearby hill to look for water or travellers that carried water. She hurried seven times between two hills climbing up so she could look in every direction for water. Suddenly the baby stopped crying. Hajar rushed to him and found to her surprise that a spring of water had started to gush where baby Ismaeel was kicking his feet. And that was the beginning of Zamzam! Birds saw the water and flew toward it to drink and people followed the birds. The people asked Hajar if they may build their homes and live there and that was the beginning of the city of Mecca! When Ismaeel grew older his father Ibraheem was asked to build the Kaba. So together they raised its walls and since then people have loved to go and visit the Kaba and worship Allah and drink from Zamzam. Ismaeel became a Prophet and later his sons and their sons lived in Mecca. Time passed and people began to forget what the Prophets taught. An angry tribe buried Zamzam and no one knew where it was. For a long time, people remembered there used to be a well close to the Kaba but they did not know where. Some people began to think it was just a story people told. Many years later in Mecca there lived a man who had a special job in Mecca. He fed the pilgrims that came to the Kaba and gave them water. He dug many wells so the visitors would have enough to drink and he was a very generous man. His name was Hisham and he made his money through trade. Merchants in Mecca travelled to Sham in the summer and to Yemen in the winter buying and selling in order to make money. On one of his trips, Hisham stopped in the city of Yathrib and married an important woman there, called Selma. Shortly after the wedding he left with his caravan and died on the way. Selma gave birth to a baby boy. She named him Shaybah meaning gray-haired because he had a gray lock that stood out against the rest of his black hair. After Hisham died, his brother Muttalib took over the feeding and watering of the people that came to the Kaba. When he heard that his brother had a son in Yathrib he went with a group of men from Mecca to find him. As soon as Muttalib saw the young boy, he recognized him, for he looked just like his own brother Hisham (the child’s father). Muttalib gave young Shaybah rich clothing and asked him to come back to Mecca with him. Shaybah refused to go without his mother’s permission and the mother only agreed after she was told how her son had an important position to fill in Mecca. When the people of Mecca saw al Muttalib returning with a young boy riding behind him, they thought he had bought a slave so they called out to him, “Abd al Muttalib, slave of Muttalib”. Al Muttalib became angry and explained that this was his nephew, but the name stuck. AbdulMuttalib grew to be as generous and as noble as his father and uncle. People loved him and praised him so that he was called the ‘Praised Gray-locked One’, he was also called ‘The Generous’ and he was called the ‘Feeder of the Birds of the Sky’ because each day he would take some of his food to the top of the mountain for birds and beasts to feed upon. He was so loved and respected that when al Muttalib died, Quraish chose him to be responsible for the watering and feeding of the people who would come to visit the Kaba. AbdulMuttalib had a dream telling him where to dig for the forgotten well of Zamzam. No one believed him or agreed to help him but his only son. That made him sad. “If only a person’s sons will help him then I wish I had many” he thought. So AbdulMuttalib made a promise that if God gave him ten sons to stand by him, help him and make him strong, he would sacrifice one of them to God. That is how he thought he would thank God. Sure enough, that happened. Ten sons were born to him and when they were grown men, Abdulmuttlib told them of his promise and that it was time for him to keep his word to God. But who should he choose? To be fair, he wrote their names on ten thin sticks for the Keeper of the idol Hubal to choose from. His son Abdullah’s name was chosen and so with a heavy heart, he went to sacrifice him. AbdulMuttalib loved his son Abdullah very much. So when Abdullah’s brothers and his mother’s brothers stopped him saying, “Wait, we have a plan!” He agreed to listen.
Prophet Adam alayhi assalam was the first human being to be created. He also was the first prophet to speak to people of our Creator subhanahu wa ta’ala and to teach us how to worship him and to show us right from wrong. Adam’s children and their children’s children spread throughout the world. Whenever people forgot to do good, forgot to ask God to forgive them when they did wrong; and whenever people stopped worshipping Allah and started to worship the sun or the planets or idols made of stone, Allah would send a prophet to remind them and teach them. And so time passed and many prophets were sent to humans to show them right from wrong and to tell them of the reward or punishment that awaited them. There were times when there was more than one prophet at the same time, there were prophets that were brothers like prophet Musa and Prophet Haroon; there were prophets that were father and son like Prophet Ibraheem and Prophet Ismaeel. And then there came a time when there were no prophets at all and so many people forgot the truth and so many people did bad deeds. And this is when our story begins. Our story begins when so many people were sad. They lived terrible lives. Kings were not fair, women were treated badly and no one cared about the poor. Almost all the teachings of the prophets of long ago were forgotten and so people would lie and steal, they would cheat and harm each other. Many worshiped idols and mostly followed what everyone else did without thinking. The Jews were the followers of Prophet Musa. They had read in their Holy Book long ago, that there would be a prophet in a land of mountains and date trees and so many of them lived in the Arabian Peninsula and waited. When they fought a battle with another tribe they would say to them, “Just wait until the prophet arrives. We will follow him and then we will defeat you in war!” The Christians were the followers of Prophet Isa. Some of them had also read about this wonderful prophet. They knew which country he would be living in, they knew he had a mark between his shoulders called the seal of prophet-hood, they knew he would accept food as a gift but not as charity. Yet the world was darker and uglier than it ever had been. And it seemed as though it would stay that way. When Allah created human beings, He created them to take care of the Earth and all that is on it. He created them to worship Him because that is what makes them happiest. So Allah had a beautiful plan. His plan was to send a prophet, but this time the prophet would be different. He would not be sent to this group of people or that. His message would be so special that anyone who heard it would understand it and be moved by it. He would be sent to everyone… forever! Our story is about this amazing prophet. But first, we will start with the amazing story of two babies. One who kicked until he uncovered a spring of water and later became a prophet. And one who was born with a gray strand of hair and later became the grandfather of a prophet.
Early dawn flush with excitement Rushed showers Children’s eyes now lit with wonder Voices hushed in awe at splendor To the background of takbeer The eager struggle with new clothes, Brand new shoes, Buttons, buckles and berets Snapping price tags, peeling stickers To the background of takbeer
In Arabic, qiyam means prayer at night; usually it refers to the prayer one does at night before one sleeps. Whereas, tahajud refers to prayer one does in the night after sleeping for a period of time. The Prophet, peace and blessing be upon, him would pray both. Allah SWT mentions both in the Quran: In Surah al-Furqan, He speaks of those who spend the night in prostration and prayer. In Surah al-Sajdah, He describes the believers as those whose bodies shun their beds and they call out to their Lord in fear and hope. In Surah al-Zumar, Allah SWT says, “Is one who spends the night devoutly obedient, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]?” In Surah al-Dhariyat, He describes the righteous as sleeping little and asking for forgiveness in the time before dawn. Of course al-Muddathir and al-Muzzamil are the most known surahs requesting the Messenger, peace and blessing be upon, him to pray qiyam and tahajud. So important is this prayer that the Prophet ,peace and blessing be upon him, said, “The best fasting after Ramadan is the month of Muharram and the best prayer after the fard is the night prayer.” And of Abdullah b. Umar he said, “What a good man is Abdullah if only he would pray at night.” The Prophet entices us with the mercy of Allah deserved by a man who woke at night to pray and woke his wife ,and when she refused he sprinkled water on her; and that same mercy deserved by a woman who woke to pray at night and woke her husband up, and when he refused she sprinkled water on him. He entices us with the answered prayers at an unknown hour of the night – each night. Our beloved Prophet, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, would pray before he slept, before fajr and sometimes all night. At one point he asks Aisha if she would grant him her night. “As much as I love your closeness, I love what pleases you more.” So he rose, made wudu and prayed. Al-Sayidah Aisha fell asleep and awoke to a sound like a boiling kettle – the Messenger’s chest heaving as he wept in prayer. When asked, “Hasn’t Allah forgiven you all your deeds?” He answered, “Should I not be a thankful servant?” I often tell people this story when speaking of laylatul Qadr. One Ramadan my friend, my sister and I decided to spend the night in prayer. It was an odd night in the last third of Ramadan and after putting the babies and toddlers to sleep we began to pray. We prayed together and separately. We prayed in the yard, and the swaying trees and rippling grass seemed to pray with us. We experienced amazing feelings that could not be put to words. At one point I imagined the Prophet ,sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, was leading me in prayer. After a wonderfully fulfilling night we prayed fajr. The sun had risen when I lay down to sleep absolutely sure that this had been THE night. I had finally experienced laylatul Qadr. Just as I was drifting off to sleep, a disturbing thought jerked me awake. This was the only night I had put forth such energy in dua, Quran and prayer; what makes me think that this night was special? What night of equal effort on my part am I comparing it to? What if all the nights of Ramadan were like this? What if outside of Ramadan, any night spent in prayer were similar to this? I fell asleep disappointed and sure that it was not laylatul Qadr after all. It is unfortunate that we so seldom put forth such effort. It is sad that nightly prayer is not more a consistent part of each Muslim’s life. There are times when we get so caught up in the details of some acts of worship that we forget who they are done for and that the object of what we do is gaining the pleasure of and closeness to our Lord. Our focus should be what the Messenger taught Aisha to say in Laylatul Qadr, ‘O Lord You are much forgiving and generous, forgive me’. Our focus should be, ‘Should I not be a grateful servant?’ Our focus should be on developing or regaining the clarity of our existence — that in this world there is nothing more important than pleasing one’s Lord and that everything else in our life pales in comparison. Nightly prayer helps develop this clarity and helps develop a closeness and attachment to Allah. We were placed on this planet for a purpose: to worship Allah and to be His representatives in managing the planet and all on it. When worship and responsibility distract us from the true source of happiness, it is to our detriment and loss. Tahajud and qiyam allow us to stand before our Lord as we will during the throes of death, as we will in our grave, and as we will on the Day of Judgment. It allows for a recognition of our absolute need for our Creator, His infinite generosity and love for us. It allows for the cultivation of a dialogue between the Master and the servant, the Forgiver and the sinner, the Bountiful and the needy. Tahajud and qiyam were an integral part of Prophet Muhammad’s character, peace and blessing be upon him, may Allah make them likewise a part of our life.
The proper etiquette of interaction between men and women in Islam is spelled out clearly and is based on the best interest of the individual and the family and on their peace of heart, mind and soul. One reading Quran is sobered by the seriousness with which this subject is treated. One studying hadeeth receives a confirmation and elaboration upon the message in Quran; and one reading seerah cannot help but see how this was implemented in a balanced manner that neither secluded women from participating actively in society, nor allowed for free interaction to become a source of distraction, dissatisfaction and distance from one’s Lord. Today, more than ever before there is a need to remember and understand Islam’s position on this very delicate matter. There was a time when mere tradition and custom worldwide guarded in various degrees the mental, emotional and spiritual health of people by drawing limits and setting rules. Today, most of these rules have disappeared and where they exist they are questioned. There was a time when the unhappy results of unregulated interaction mostly affected Muslims who didn’t practice Islam; today however, the woes of crossing the boundaries of Islamic manners are common amongst the most religious and pious of Muslims. There was a time when non-Muslims deemed our views on the subject as sexist, dirty-minded and backward, now some of the soundest and most ‘Islamic’ opinions come from non-Muslims who have witnessed the folly of unregulated ‘free’ interaction. It is time we treated this subject with the seriousness it deserves, drawing on Quran and sunna in an objective, intelligent and God-fearing manner.
Laylatul Qadr. This night hidden in Ramadan, or in the last ten days of Ramadan is a night that tantalizes the heart of every Muslim. Its obscurity reminds us of the “hidden” hour of answered prayer on Friday and the hidden Great Name of Allah amongst His names. It is as though Allah wants us to put forth effort to seek out such special hours or times or Names by doing much, rather than just do good deeds on a pinpointed date. And its description as equaling a thousand nights or eighty three years makes it deserving of one’s full endeavor.
Ramadan is the month of Quran. It is the month in which the Quran was first revealed. It is the month that angel Jibreel would review with the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, all the Quran that was revealed until then. Sayidah Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked about the character of the Messenger (s) and she answered simply, “His character was Quran.” In celebration of this special month and in recognition of the one whom Allah designated as our good model, we will explore in this section, certain ayahs in Quran that deal with manners and behavior and observe how Prophet Muhammad sallalahu alayhi was sallam practiced them. Read part 1: The Night Prayer.
As Ramadan approaches, there is a need to prepare ourselves to take advantage of this blessed month in order to get closer to our Lord. Muslim scholars, and people with a strong relationship to Allah, would take this month off from their students and followers and use it to restore and further develop their iman. Unfortunately, the scholars and teachers of today do not have this luxury, on the contrary they await this month in which people’s hearts soften in order that they may help them further develop their faith. Therefore most teachers today, cannot afford to go into seclusion themselves. As for us ordinary people, who are not responsible for hundreds of students and followers, we are the lucky ones in this day and age because we can focus on strengthening our iman and aqeedah during Ramadan.
Prophetic Principles of Islamic Interaction Lesson Two: The Concept of Sadaqa The process of Islamicizing our perceptions is vital for us to act properly and in accordance with our deen. It is known that the Islamic view of giving is wide and all inclusive. Every gift you have been blessed with you must spend of or use for the benefit of others: your health, your time, your wealth, your talents, your status, etc…