Day 9: Memorable Ramadan for Children

Asalaamu Alaiakum

My son, having turned one two months ago, is now entering the stage where he is using hand gestures, speaking in baby talk (which I call bird language) and imitating those around him. One thing he is keen on imitating is Salah (the prayer). That makes sense since he has been witnessing his parents praying since his first day in this world. When I get up to pray, he watches me intently and then proceeds to place his hands on his ears and say the takbeer, maashaAllaah. He also likes saying (or attempting to say) the shahada which he hears from athaan and videos of the Eid takbeer which I play occasionally. He actually looks forward to my prayers. If he sees me pick up a garbasaar (outer garment), he starts smiling and laughing. It brings me so much joy that he is finding happiness in the prayer even if he doesn’t understand a word of it or its true purpose.

It just makes me realize that we often forget that children are sponges, they soak up everything they see around them, positive or negative. This includes Ramadan!

I remember my experiences of Ramadan as a child. My mother would encourage us to fast as long as possible. If we got hungry we would just hide behind a couch and munch on chips or other snacks. My mother would always catch on. Despite the cheating, it was a really enriching experience. It was exciting to emulate the adults around us. It was an adventure to see how long we could last without caving in. These memories remind me of a hadith.

Narrated Ar-Rubi’ bint Mu’awadh (radiallaahu `anhaa):
“The Prophet (sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam) sent a messenger to the village of the Ansar in the morning of the day of ‘Ashura’ (10th of Muharram) to announce: ‘Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.’ “She further said, “Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast.” [Bukhari]
We should strive to make Ramadan memorable for our little ones. There are a plethora of activities online that we can use to create a special Ramadan experience. These include making decorations to welcome Ramadan and Eid, calendars with different tasks for each day, coloring books, Islamic games, etc. Alhamdulilah compared to ten years ago, the Islamic marketplace is thriving and there are dozens of interactive games and beneficial books to purchase. If we use a little creativity and plan ahead we can help our children have lasting, fun and unforgettable memories from each Ramadan. They can then do the same for their children. It’s a cycle of khair!
Stay tuned for more reflections, inshaAllaah!
Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 8: Characteristics of the Believers

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Today’s reflection is a short essay by one of the Salaf (pious predecessors). We can use it as basically a checklist for all of the characteristics that we as Muslims should aspire to develop. May Allaah count us from the righteous, ameen.

Yahya ibn Mu’adh rahimahullah gathered the characteristics of the believers in one of his essays as follows, “It is to be full of modesty, and to be harmless too. To be full of goodness and not to be corrupt. For the tongue to be truthful, for the words to be little and to be plentiful in good action. To have little slip-ups and not to be excessive. To be good to one’s relatives, building closeness between them. To be dignified and grateful. To be full of contentment if Allah restricted some provision. To be forbearing and friendly to his brothers. To be compassionate and chaste. Not to curse, swear, insult, backbite, nor to gossip. Not to be hasty, envious, hateful, arrogant nor vain. Not to lean towards worldliness, nor to extend long hopes and wishes. Not to sleep too much nor to be absent-minded, nor to show-off nor be hypocritical. Not to be selfish, but to be soft and cheerful, not servile. Loving for the sake of Allah, being pleased for His sake and being angry only for His sake. His provision is taqwa (reverential fear of Allah). His worries are what will happen to him in the Afterlife. His friends remind him. His beloved is His Protector and Master. His struggle is for the Afterlife.”

SunnahOnline

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 7: Self-Evaluation Questions [Week 1]

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Can you believe it? A whole week has passed! We’ve reached the first Jumuah in Ramadan, well technically the second since Ramadan began on a Friday evening. How do you feel? How is Ramadan so far? I will dedicate today’s reflection to a few self-evaluation questions that we can answer privately, within ourselves. May Allaah grant us the ability to reach the next Jumuah and complete the remaining days/nights of Ramadan, ameen.

You and Allaah

  • Do you feel closer to Allaah since Ramadan has started?
    • If you answered yes, what are the causes? Jot down what you have done to gain nearness to Allaah.
    • If you answered no, what are the causes?  Jot down what you have done to make you distant from Allaah.

You and the Qur’an

  • Have you met your daily / weekly Qur’an goals?
  • Have you reflected on any particular Ayahs?
  • Have you read the tafsir of verses or a Surah, if so what have you learned?

You and the Nafs

  • Have you broken a bad habit?
  • Are you working on developing new (good) habits?
  • What is the biggest struggle so far in regards to your nafs?

You and the Community

  • Have you been attending Taraweeh – if so how is the experience so far?
  • Have you attended any community iftaars? Or a friend / relative’s? Have you hosted an iftaar yourself?
  • Have you given charity locally or internationally? Do you plan to give more?

What are your overall feelings about the first week? How can you improve in the coming week?

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 6: Remain Steadfast Despite Society

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Society is constantly changing in terms of values, morals, social norms and standards. Our Islaam however, should be able to wither every societal storm. I see a trend these days of Muslims bending the rules and engaging in things which they would have never come near 2, 5, 10 years ago. I understand the pressure from society is very strong, we are bombarded at every corner to change, transform, have a complete makeover but at what cost? At the cost of imaan? At the cost of lowered standards? At the cost of an unrecognizable Islaam?

Our struggles are different but society’s influence plays a part. For example, one person’s struggle could be maintaining Salah at work or school, while another is observing Hijab with all of it’s conditions. Yet another person’s struggle might be lowering their gaze and protecting their eyes from haraam. In all three scenarios, society plays a huge role. Society makes us believe that taking out a mere 5-10 minutes to pray to our Creator is somehow backwards; that showing more and more of our body is somehow fashionable and that preventing ourselves from looking at and ‘enjoying’ the beauty of others, or immoral actions, is somehow uncool.

But will society be with us when we stand in front of Allaah? Will they explain away our misdeeds? Will they take on the burden of some of our sins to lighten our scales? Will they help us cross the Siraat? Will they be with us in our graves as we await our final destination? Society can do none of these things. All society can do is impose its ever-changing beliefs, standards and morals on people. What is seen as immoral today will be applauded tomorrow and vice versa.

So the question is, will we remain steadfast despite society? Or will we continuously change our Islaam until it’s unrecognizable?

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalamu Alaaikum

 

Day 5: Give it your all!

Asalaamu Alaaikum

I came upon this beautiful reminder from Sister Maryam Amir and wanted to include it in this reflection series. I’m touched by it even more as this Ramadan is particularly challenging for me in many ways. May Allaah reward the Sister for reminding us despite the various difficulties we are facing, we need to just give it our all – and that is the only thing which matters to Allaah (good intentions followed by actions).

“For some of you, this Ramadan isn’t going to be about reading the Qur’an or making taraweeh prayers. It’s going to be about fighting to complete an entire day of fasting, one day at a time. For some of you struggling with depression or deep emotional states, fasting can sometimes make your struggle even more vulnerable. For some of you, your physical realities or your circumstances make fasting in and of itself one of the hardest acts of worship you struggle to complete.

Don’t compare yourself to people who are praying all night. Don’t compare yourself to people who are making khatm of Qur’an throughout the day. That is their form of worship as they are able to in this time.

Your greatest act of worship this Ramadan is simply to give it your all however that is for you- in spite- not despite- your circumstances. Recognize that whatever you are putting forth for God’s sake, even if it’s ‘nothing’ in comparison to what others seem to be racing to do, is huge in the sight of God. It may be even bigger than what others are doing, even if in quantity it seems smaller.

“…My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him/her, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him/her..” (Hadith Qudsi)

How can you feel like your best isn’t good enough? How can you feel like doing “just” the obligation isn’t enough? That is exactly what brings you closer to Him.

Know that even while you feel deflated and defeated, He is Al-Shakoor, The Appreciative. He appreciates your striving for His sake despite your difficulties and your pain. He loves your sincere efforts for Him.

Now, instead of hating yourself for not being good enough, know that He knows your life situation and understands your reality better than you ever could yourself. So turn to Him, give your burdens to Him, and feel lighter while seeking His light”

Source: Maryam Amir (Facebook Page)

Stay tuned for more reflections!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 4: Alhamdulilah For…

Assalaamu Alaiakum

There are many things we say Alhamdulilah for. Most of the time it’s for positive reasons or joyous occasions. For example, getting into the school of our choice, marrying a righteous person, getting a promotion or the birth of a child. Alhamdulilah for everything.

However, there are even more things which are seemingly negative which equally deserve our gratitude.

Let’s change our shukr perspective and mindset and start saying Alhamdulilah for:

  • Heartbreak and betrayal which teach us to be selective in opening our hearts, minds and lips.
  • Physical pain which purifies our bodies and teaches us endurance.
  • Insincere friends who exit our lives to make room for sincere ones.
  • The feeling of being lost before we find guidance.
  • Tragedies which soften our hearts.
  • Sick children who show us how to love unconditionally.
  • Sins which lead us to repent and can be a means for attaining Jannah (if they constantly motivate us to do better).
  • Critics who open our eyes to faults loved ones fail to comment on.
  • Deprivation which humbles us.
  • Harsh winters which make us appreciate beautiful springs and summers.
  • Rejection after rejection which makes us strive for new opportunities.
  • The what ifs that never came to be.
  • Near death incidents and accidents which make us value life.
  • The feeling of not being good enough for making us realize our true potential.
  • Falling into the wrong crowd for making us appreciate and seek out the right company.
  • Love lost for love gained.
  • Trust lost for trust gained.
  • Property, health and wealth lost for imaan gained.
  • Poverty which purifies.
  • Divorce which makes us wiser about marriage.
  • The absence of people who will only bring us harm.
  • Hitting rock bottom for making us realize our only options are to improve and grow.

Suhaib (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Wondrous is the affair of the believer as there is good for him in every matter, and this is not true for anyone but the believer. If he is pleased, then he thanks Allah and there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and there is good for him.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2999

Stay tuned for more refelctions!

Wasalaamu Alaaikum

 

Day 3: So, where are you going?

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Though the Qur’an is a miracle and every ayah within it is powerful, there are certain ayahs which make one stop dead in their tracks. One of those verses for me is in Surah Takwir, ayah  26. Allaah asks, ‘Fa ayna tadh haboon” – So, where are you going?” Whenever I come across this verse while reading or listening to the Qur’an, it feels like a strong gust of wind or a small earthquake which shakes my inner core. It’s such a powerful question from Allaah (SWT). Imagine our Creator is asking us: where are you going? Where indeed are we going? Do we stop to ask ourselves this question? Or are we just living life, letting the days pass without any self-accountability or reflection?

This ayah is even more powerful in the context of the Surah which gives a detailed account of the events that will occur on Yawmul Qiyamah (Day of Judgement). The ayah is reminiscent of a parent lecturing their child in a loving but stern manner. After explaining all the possible consequences of a certain action, the parent asks their child: “what is your decision”? “What is your plan”? “After knowing these consequences, what is the direction your life will take”?

That is a parent. Now imagine the Creator of the Universe. At the end of the day, our Creator wants the best for us. He wants us to choose the right path in life, despite the many tempting alternative paths we can take. He wants us to walk Siratul Mustaqeem (the Straight Path). Though we might not see it this way, even Allah warning us from His Punishment is a great mercy. Only someone who cares about you will tell you the truth. Only someone who cares about you will warn you about the negative repercussions of an action. Only someone who cares about you will take time to remind you, over and over again, to make good life decisions.

And who cares about us more than Allaah?

Stay tuned for the next reflection, inshaAllaah!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 2: Admonitions from the Salaf

Asalaamu Alaaikum

Today’s post is a collection of wise sayings from our pious predecessors (the Salaf). In addition to reflecting on Qur’anic verses and ahadith, I find myself going back to their stories, narrations and sayings to help soften my heart and give me perspective. I hope you find them them beneficial:

Be a good man to Allah and a bad man to yourself (desires); and be one of the commoners among the people.” [‘Ali – may Allah be pleased with him]”

He who has no manners has no knowledge; he who has no patience has no Din, and he who has no piety has no nearness to Allah for him.” [Al-Hasan al-Basri – may Allah have mercy upon him]

“I looked at all friends and did not find a better friend than safeguarding the tongue. I thought about all the dresses but did not find a better dress than piety. I thought about all sorts of wealth but did not find a better wealth than contentment in a little. I thought of all sorts of good deeds but did not find a better deed than offering good advice. I looked at all types of sustenance but did not find a better sustenance than patience.” [‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with him]

“Both religion and the world will exist so long as four things continue to exist – so long as the rich will not be miserly in spending in the path of Allah; so long as the learned will perform deeds in accordance with the knowledge acquired; so long as the ignorant will not display obstinacy and pride in what they do not know; and so long as the poor will not sell their Hereafter in exchange for the worldly life.” [‘Ali – may Allah be pleased with him]

“There are four things with which Allah is pleased – the external side of them is blessing and the inner side of them is compulsion. It is a blessing to associate with the pious servants (salihun) of Allah, but it is a compulsion to follow them (in deeds). It is a blessing to recite the Qur’an, but it is compulsory to act according to it. It is a blessing to visit a grave, but it is a compulsion to make provisions for it. It is a blessing to take care of the sick, but it is a compulsion to take a lesson from it.” [‘Umar – may Allah be pleased with him]

“I have got the taste of worship (‘ibadat) in four things – firstly in the discharge of the compulsory duties (fara’id) prescribed by Allah; secondly in abstaining from the things forbidden (haram) by Allah; thirdly in enjoining performance of good deeds in the hope of earning virtues; and fourthly in prohibiting evil deeds in fear of the curse of Allah.” [‘Uthman – may Allah be pleased with him]

“Four things produce darkness in the heart – to take excess meals recklessly, to bear company with the oppressors, to forget past sins, and to keep lofty desire. and four things produce light in the heart – to keep the stomach hungry for fear of sins, to keep company with the righteous (salihun), to remember the past sins, and to curtail desires.” [‘Ibn Mas’ud – may Allah be pleased with him]

 

Source

Stay tuned for the next reflection, inshaAllaah!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum

Day 1: Deep Clean Your Deen!

Asalaamu Alaaikum and Ramadan Mubarak to all,

This Ramadan I’ll be sharing short reflections that consist of personal stories / experiences, ahadith, ayaat, poems and more. I’ll kick start this series with an analogy.

Do you ever get overwhelmed by cleaning your home or office? Does it ever feel like it’s an impossible task so you find yourself not lifting a finger as the clutter continues to increase? This cluttered house or space then leads to a cluttered mind, at least from my personal experience it has. So, what is the solution then? It’s impractical to tackle every single corner of your home or space in one day. The mess and clutter has been piling up probably for months, in some cases years. When we reach this point, we must step back and develop a strategy to deep clean and then tidy our homes/spaces afterwards. Deep cleaning will require that we clean every nook and cranny. That we declutter and get rid of unnecessary clothes, utensils, equipment, toys, gadgets, paper, files, etc. It requires that we develop an organized system of where to place items. For example, those that are used frequently will be nearer and those we hardly use can be put way for later use.  Let’s say we accomplish this deep cleaning and decluttering in the span of a few weeks, with each day being dedicated to a specific area or task. What is the end result? Not only we will get a sense of relief, clarity of mind (and probably air!) but this will save us countless hours in the future. At most we will only have to tidy, i.e. pick up things from the floor, put away items, etc. This is because we invested time to  deep clean. I did this recently and you cannot imagine the relief I feel each day as I look at my organized and clean home. I spend about 15-20 minutes in total each day putting away dishes, wiping down counters and hanging up clothes. So, what does this have to do with Ramadan? What does this have to do with the Deen? Our current states Pre-Ramadan are like a cluttered and messy home.

Throughout the year, we have accumulated so many sins. We need to deep clean our Deen! Our ibaadah! Our intentions! Over the next 30 days, let’s devote every day to improving one aspect that we are falling short in. Let’s declutter by doing away with bad habits, getting rid of them entirely as they’re doing nothing but cluttering up our Deen! Let’s increase those habits which bring us closer to Allaah and decrease those which make us further from Him. Or those which are just not as beneficial for us even if they are permissible.  After Ramadan finishes, let’s make it a goal then to tidy our Deen by continuous, small actions so that our deep cleaning efforts do not go to waste.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4240

Stay tuned for the next reflection, inshaAllaah!

Wasalaamu Alaiakum