Keeping up the Spirit of Ramadaan

Ramadaan, a month of blessings for us, from Allah to increase our taqwa and draw closer to Him has gone, gone too soon.

It was a month of blessings and also a month of training for us, easy training to do ibadah whilst the shaytaan was locked up. Allah made it easy for us, so that after Ramadaan we can keep doing the good deeds after the month long training. Ramadaan gave us a routine of ibaadah, it prepared us for the months to come; months during which we have to battle against the shaytaan and ourselves against evil. We just have to establish goals, and maintain our schedule of ibaadah. Fair enough many of us may be back to work, or school, but that doesn’t mean we should allow the training to go down the drain.

Let’s look at the condition of our good deeds the very next day after Ramadaan; the castle of good deeds we had built comes crashing down, we see women adorning themselves, showing off and becoming a fitna for everyone around and men not even offering obligatory prayers while enjoying the eid festivities. Allahu Akbar!

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

Let’s see some useful tips to be consistent in our Ibadah:

  1. Qur’an :

Read little of Qur’an every day; if during Ramadaan you were able to read an entire juzz or sit for an hour, then try to keep it up. If not, read 20 ayahs or at least 10 ayahs, it won’t even take 10 minutes. And remember the Qur’an was revealed for guidance, not just to be read in Ramadaan.

  1. Night Prayer (Qiyam ul layl):

Now that you made a habit of praying in the night just continue it. Reducing 1 hour of sleep won’t upset your sleep pattern. Even if we pray just 2 rakaahs, it is better than letting the good habit go completely.

  1. Fasting:

If we keep fasting regularly it becomes a habit and also it is beneficial for our health. The Prophet (S.A.W) said “The evils caused for a man through his family, wealth, and neighbour are expiated by prayer, fasting, and charity.” Moreover you will be more likely to gain admittance to paradise through the gate of Ar-Rayyan.

  1. Charity:

Give in charity remembering that it doesn’t decrease your wealth but Allah gives you more and with it you get countless good deeds. Give little or more but regularly. Allah has blessed us with so much, what better way to be thankful than to share it with the less fortunate.

Remember praying, giving charity, fasting little will eventually make a collect to form a river of good deeds. In shaa Allah.

May Allah make us consistent in our Ibadah! Ameen.

 

Fatima Damad,

Writer, AAT

More Quraan

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Ramadaan truly is an amazing month. Spectacular displays of righteousness are evident in all directions. That’s not to say they are merely displays, or facades. Everyone connects with the Quraan during Ramadaan by the mercy of Allah. You find yourself, listening, reciting, reading, trying to understand…

Despite being invited for iftaar, all the guests turned up gripping onto their mushafs, eager to settle down and continue reading. It was truly a sight to behold. Those who forgot theirs requested one from the host, until there was none left. Some pulled out their phones and opened up an e-version of the Quraan. Hushed voices in alternating tones and tunes floated around the room. Each person found themselves a corner to sit comfortably and open their Quraan and continue where they last left off. The peace and tranquillity that enveloped us all could not be replicated even in complete silence. The atmosphere was unique. Everyone was engrossed in their recitation, from the eldest to the youngest.

“The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Quraan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.” (2:185) How will we ever know what is right and wrong if we don’t read, study and understand the Quraan? Allah guides who He wills, but we also have to make the effort and want the guidance, and what better way than to start with Quraan.

There is a strong relationship between the Quraan and Ramadaan. Firstly the Quraan was revealed from Lawh-al-Mahfuth (the Preserved Tablet) to a station in the lowest heaven called Bayt-al-Izzah, during Ramadaan as Allah says, “Verily I revealed it on a blessed night.” (Ad-Dukhan, 44:03). It is the opinion of Ibn Abbas that this was on the ‘blessed night’ of Layla tul Qadr. The connection between Ramadaan and the Quraan is even deeper; many scholars including, Ibn Ishaq and Ibn al Jawzi are of the opinion that the first words revealed to the Prophet (Saw) were during Ramadaan. Furthermore, Jibreel and the Prophet (Saw) would review the Quraan every Ramadaan. Ramadaan and the Quraan are entwined together. They are inseparable, for how can we attain full benefit and rewards during this month if we do not recite?

The Quraan was revealed during this blessed month…so what better way to get closer to Allah than to read His words, understand them and ponder upon them? This is a month in which we should befriend the Quraan and make it our close companion.

Reading the Quraan is also a method of piling up our rewards. We need as many rewards and good deeds as we can get. The Prophet (Saw) said, “whoever recites a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and that reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif Laam Meem’ is a letter, rather I am saying that Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter and Meem is a letter.” (Tirmidhi) In fact since it is Ramadaan only Allah knows how much He multiplies our rewards. The rewards for reciting the Quraan are immense; whether we read fluently or are struggling. Aishah relates that the Prophet (Saw) said, “verily the one who recites the Quraan beautifully, smoothly and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Imagine, the amount of reward we get from reading, even just one page a day!

Let’s not allow our Mushafs to sit on our shelves and collect dust for 11 months of the year, only to pick it up for one month. The impact of the Quraan should go beyond Ramadaan. We should love to hold it in our hands, love to strain our voices in beautifying our recitation, and love to listen, hear and understand the words of Allah.

It is said that the salaf would read the Quraan over and over during Ramadaan. Most of us nowadays barely complete one khatam! Yet we want the highest position in Jannah. Of course we should desire such a position, hope, and ask for it and no less. But we also have to work for it, to strive for it. We have to devote our efforts to pleasing Allah, to earn His mercy and forgiveness.

May Allah make it easy for us!

Bibi Zainab Dowlut,

Editor-in-chief, AAT

Gratitude to People

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“Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.”

(Jami’ Tirmidhi: 1954)

From the above hadith it has been made clear to us that if we truly want to be grateful to Allah then we must be grateful to the people as well. We are grateful to Allah (swt) because of all the blessings he has bestowed us. People, on the other hand, who help us (or at least try to help us) make a positive change in our lives which compels us to be thankful to them too.

Who are these people I’m talking about? They are not only our family, friends, and neighbors but also the ones who indirectly help us. There are two kinds of people: one who help us directly and others who do it indirectly. Nevertheless, we should be thankful to both kinds of people varying on the level of their importance in Islam.

City cleaners and garbage collectors keep our city clean and hygienic. We often think this meager kind of work is very trivial; but if we think about it, without them we wouldn’t be able breathe fresh air. They are worthy of our gratitude. How can we show our gratitude towards them? Well, we should educate our family, friends and especially kids to avoid throwing waste on the road side or in a public area, rather use the allocated bins; and educate them to be respectful to the cleaners and never look down on them.

The law enforcers; police officers, helps us indirectly. We rely on police after Allah for security reasons. Most of us dislike police officers just because they give us penalty for parking on the wrong side or for over speeding. But that doesn’t mean they oppress us in the name of law. They are merely doing their duty; ensuring the city is safe for the public. We should be grateful to them by not giving them trouble or not blocking the road or double-parking and be kind to them. By properly following the rules and regulations we also save other people from trouble.

People as consumers in the economic sphere help each other unintentionally. When a person involves in a transaction he or she gives profit to someone or the other, this is also described as the ‘invisible hand theory’. Allah is our Provider, but He has put others as a means of helping us to attain our sustenance.

Let’s head back to the close ones’- neighbors. We must be kind and gentle to them even if they are not with us. Allah says in the Quran:

“Worship Allaah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masaakeen (the poor), the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side…

                                                                                                                    [al-Nisaa’ 4:36]

Whilst being kind to them we must also be grateful to them as they may become the means for us to attain jannah. Do not shy away to meet them or invite them to your house. If they are non-Muslims then it is your chance to call them to Islam by displaying the perfect Islamic characteristics and make them love Islam. The following hadith verifies their importance in Islam.

Mujahid narrated: “Abdullah bin Amr had a sheep slaughtered for his family, so when he came he said: ‘Have you given some to our neighbor, the Jew? Have you given some to our neighbor, the Jew? I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: ‘Jibril continued to advise me about (treating) the neighbors so (kindly and politely), that I thought he would order me (from Allah) to make them heirs.” (Vol. 4, Book 1, Hadith 1943)

 

So, in islam our neighbors play a very important role, and we should honour the way our Prophet taught us to do so.

School is the place where we spend half of our lives. Teachers play a vital role in shaping our future. As we know, teaching requires extreme patience, so we should be grateful to our teachers for it. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is the best teacher and his students are an example, they were highly respectful in his (ﷺ) presence.

It was narrated that Mu’awiyah bin Al-Hakam As-Sulami said: “…May my father and mother be ransomed for him, he neither did hit me nor rebuke me nor revile me. I have never seen a better teacher than him, before or after…” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 1218)

It has become a trend to call teachers by names to such an extent that after many years that particular teacher is remembered not by his/her real name anymore. Allah forbids us to mock each other and call each other by bad names:

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”

                                                                                                         (Surah al-Hujarat: 11)

Thus, I conclude my gratitude series hoping that we stay humble and thankful for everything we have or had because the sixth pillar of Imaan is preordainment, be it good or bad. Gratitude is a vital aspect of Islam, it is incumbent upon us to express gratitude firstly to Allah, then our parents and then those near and distant from us. We have to show kindness and appreciation, even if it is just a simple ‘Thank you’. O Allah help me to remember You, express gratitude to You and worship You in the best Manner.

Maliha Rahmat, AAT

Longer Qiyaam

Lessons from Scenes in Ramadaan: Longer Qiyaam

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“Huff!” someone sighed loudly over the imam’s recitation. The mosque was small, the prayer area was crowded, and the atmosphere was stuffy. The room was getting hot and people were becoming agitated and tired. The imam’s recitation was dwindling, it seemed even he was exhausted from the long fast. Sounds of yawning and shifting could be heard as people were already ‘bored’ of Taraweeh. We had barely just begun, only four rakaah’s in! The congregation was lousy, their lines were wonky and their shoulders drooped from fatigue. They barely concentrated on the words of Allah. They merely waited for the moment they had to respond.

“Ameeeeen!” they all chimed with the imaam, when he completed Surah Fatihah. This is one of the liveliest parts of Taraweeh, everyone eager to make their voices heard, to have their ‘Ameen’ coincide with the ‘Ameen’ of the angels. Yet as soon as it was over, people seemingly fell asleep again. They shifted on their feet, bumping those next to them. They subconsciously counted the minutes until the imaam would say “Allahu Akbar” indicating the next part of the salaah. Once in ruku’ they would hurriedly mumble the words, “Subhana Rabbi al Atheem” and impatiently wait for the imaam to say “Allahu Akbar.” So impatient are they, they often rise before the imaam! Then they would all rush into sujood, banging their knees on the ground with a loud ‘thump!’

Yes, this scene is exaggerated; but often this is the case. As much as we want to pray and gain Allah’s rewards there are etiquettes for praying; beginning with lining up straight. Anas ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon) said, “Straighten your rows, for straightening the rows is a part of perfecting the prayer.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Moreover, we are standing before Allah, Lord of the worlds, should we not line up properly; the way the angels do?

Secondly, the issue of khushu’. We should not pray if we are tired, because our concentration or khushu’ will be nil. The Prophet said, “if anyone of you feels drowsy when praying, let him sleep, so that (when he gets up) he knows what he is reciting.” (Bukhari) So, if you are unable to keep still in Taraweeh, and you feel drowsy; take a nap, either before going to Taraweeh, or delay your taraweeh and pray qiyaam later in the night. When we pray, we are talking to Allah, and He listens and responds. With each verse of Surah Fatihah that we recite, Allah answers us. However, if we are repeating like parrots… well, there is no need to explain. We should stand before Him with humility and not be impatient. We should focus on our words and actions within the salaah, whether we are hot, cold, tired or hungry.

Thirdly, rising before the imaam. This is a big no-no. The imaam should have risen or bowed first, before we make a move. The Prophet said “do not bow until he bows, and do not prostrate until he prostrates. Does the one who raises his head before the imaam not fear that Allah may turn his head into the head of a donkey or turn his form like that of a donkey?” This is a severe warning from the Prophet and we should do our best, to follow the imaam and not lead him! To ensure we are not ahead of the imam, wait until he completes the phrase ‘Allahu-Akbar’ before following him.

Lastly, the du’aa in witr. That’s another part everyone waits for. Holding their hands up high, and begging Allah for forgiveness. When it comes to du’aa people often forget that they are tired, sweaty or uncomfortably positioned. This is from the blessings of Allah, and throughout our Taraweeh we should be such; unconcerned with the ache in our feet, or the sleep that makes our eyelids heavy, or the heat of the room. We should devote our full attention to our Taraweeh, and should not be distracted from it, especially during the last ten nights when we are searching for Layla tul Qadr. A night better than a thousand nights, during which we may be saved from the hell fire and have all our sins forgiven. May Allah make it easy for us, and may He allow us to witness Layla tul Qadr and benefit from it!

So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you stand for any Salah, follow the above tips to ensure you maximise the reward. For the reward is according to how you prayed.

“A man may finish (from his prayer) and all that is written (for him of reward), is one-tenth, one-ninth, one-eighth, one-seventh, one-sixth, one-fifth, one-fourth, one-third, or one-half of it.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Sahih by Sh Al-Albaani)

Maximise the reward of your salaah by focusing and giving it its due rights. Pray as if it is your final prayer.

I leave you with a final hadith to ponder upon,

“The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” (Recorded by al-Tabarani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih)

Tafseer of Surah Qadr

surah Qadr

I have always found the tafseer of the Quraan to be absorbing at least. This surah is no exception. I have chosen to share the tafseer of Imam As-Sadi’ because it is eloquent, and concise. In addition it is also comprehensive, yet easy to understand and grasp. I have chosen Surah Qadr because soon this night will pass us by, and then it will leave quicker than it came. And only Allah knows whether we will live to see the next one. We have to make the most of it when it comes and the best way to do so, is to know what Allah says about it.

The imam’s exegesis (an explanation or critical interpretation of a text) is widely regarded as being amongst the best and most moving for the layman to read. Imam As-Sadi is a well known Islamic scholar, mufassir and jurist. He was a student of Shaykh Muhammad Amin Ash-Shinqiti and many other notable scholars.

1) Truly We have revealed it in the Night of Power.
2) What will make you realise what the Night of Power is?
3) The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4) In it the angels and the Spirit descend by their Lord’s permission with every ordinance.
5) Peace! Until the break of dawn.

Allah says, explaining the excellence of the Qur’an and its sublime status, “Truly We have revealed it in the Night of Power.” Allah began the revelation of the Qur’an in Laylatu’l-Qadr of Ramadan, and through it showed a mercy to His servants that they can never show enough gratitude for. It is called the Night of Power because of its great status, its excellence in the sight of Allah, and because decrees are apportioned therein for the coming year. Allah then proceeds to emphasise its importance by saying, “What will make you realise what the Night of Power is,” its affair is tremendous “The Night of Power is better than a thousand months,” therefore a deed performed during it is better than that deed being performed over a period of one thousand months that do not contain that one night. That Allah has graced this weak nation with such a night astounds and amazes one’s mind. One thousand months: eighty odd years, the lifespan of a man who has lived a long life! “In it the angels and the Spirit descend” frequently “by their Lord’s permission with every ordinance. Peace,” it is safe from every defect and evil due to its immense good, “until the break of dawn,” i.e. this night commences when the sun sets and ends with the break of dawn. The ahadith concerning its virtue are concurrent (mutawatir), they mention that it falls in the odd nights of the last ten nights of Ramadan, and it will fall therein every year until the Hour falls. It was in the hope of finding the Night of Power that the Prophet (SAW) would perform i`tikaf and increase in worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan. Allah knows best. (Tafseer by Imam As- Sa’di translated by Abû Rumaysah)

 

This surah has deep meaning, which moves me. The Night of Power or Decree is not any ordinary night. It is a night during which we can be saved from the hellfire. A night during which we can be cleansed from sins. A night which is better than a thousand months. This night is so virtuous that Allah elevated its status by dedicating an entire surah to it. So, should we not take advantage of this night by searching for it? Should we not prepare for it, with duaas and qiyaam?

May Allah allow us to witness this night and to have our sins forgiven during it. Ameen.

Sayada Ansari, AAT

Duaa in the last 10 nights

ramadan blog series #8

By Mohammed Mirza, writer for www.menzene.com

Seldom do we stay awake all night, and when we do, rarely is it spent in worship. The last 10 nights of Ramadaan gives us this unique opportunity; just when we start to get a bit careless with our ‘ibaadah after 20 days of seemingly hard worship. However, in the last 10 nights we realize that Ramadaan is coming to an end, and as we search for Laylatul Qadr, our duaas tend to increase manifold.

Normally, my duaas are short with little emotion (not something that I’m proud of), but in the last 10 nights, I like to sit on the prayer mat and just ask. I feel like my Lord is hearing me, as we all have probably heard the hadith of Allah descending to the lowest heaven in the last third of the night. Narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh (1145) and by Muslim (1261) from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The Lord descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’”’

Reading this hadith reassures me that my Lord responds to my prayers. My father used to say that a duaa is like an application, and once you complete your duaa, it is like the application is sent to Allah. Keeping the application analogy in my mind as I compose my long list of duaas, it feels like a burden that was on my shoulders has been lifted. The Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Allah is shy and Most Gracious, He is shy that the slave raises his hands unto Him (in Duaa) and then returns them empty.” [Saheeh al-Jami]

Sometimes during the last 10 nights and when I can’t think of any more duaas, I just ponder on the blessings that Allah (Swt) has blessed me with. As I try to count some of the major blessings that I have been favored with, I find myself pleading before Allah, and the whole experience is spiritually uplifting and boosting to my imaan.

At the end of day, even if our duaa is not accepted in this world, we should try not to despair, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) also said; “There is never a Muslim who supplicates without beseeching something sinful or the breaking of blood ties, except that Allah grants him one of three things: either He fulfills his supplication immediately, reserves it for him in the Hereafter, or prevents him from being afflicted with a harm equivalent to it in magnitude.” It was said: “Then we should do so a lot?” He said: “Allah is the greatest!” [al-Adab al-Mufrad (710) and authenticated by al-Albânî].

So, continue on with your duaas, and at times when you do feel that they are not being accepted; ponder on the hadith that I mentioned above. I hope that this small article serves as a motivation for us to increase our duaas not just throughout the year but especially during the last 10 nights of Ramadaan. May Allah accept all our duaas and may He forgive all our sins. Ameen.

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The Benefits of Fasting

Fasting has numerous benefits. From physical to emotional, mental and spiritual. Fasting is a natural cleanser and purification, not just from food but also from sin. Even the ancient Greeks recognised its benefits; “Instead of using medicine, better fast today,” said Plutarch, a Greek Moralist. Fasting has been around for centuries, and was performed by the people of the past; its advantages are endless.

The Physical Benefits:

Staying away from food for so long cleanses the body and rests the digestive system. Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says about fasting “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body.” The body is purified from excess food and fat.

Fasting is a natural remedy, which helps to free up energy which can then be used more productively. It is estimated that after a heavy meal the body uses 65% of energy to digest that meal. So if you fast, you have energy that is free because there is no meal to digest. So the energy can then be used by the body to heal itself; to mend broken tissues and cells. It also opens the way for healthier eating habits, if the suhoor and iftaar are in line with the sunnah. The prophet (Saw) used to take a light suhoor and a light iftaar. Though he recommended taking suhoor “as it is blessed” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim), he was not extravagant, and did not fill his belly with a feast. He (Saw) is also reported to have said, “the worst container a human being can fill is his stomach.” (Ibn Majah)

The Mental and Emotional Benefits:

Fasting clears a person’s mind. The individual becomes less occupied with the vanities of this world and more concerned with the hereafter, if the prophetic way of fasting is observed. During Ramadaan and any other voluntary fast, the individual spends time reading the Quraan and their tongues are wet with the remembrance of Allah. Thus, attaining the pleasure of Allah becomes their primary goal and they forget the distractions of this world.

In addition, fasting has been proven to improve brain health. It helps with the homeostatic process of neuronal autophagy, and increases levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), positively affecting the cognitive part of our brains. Furthermore, the risk of many diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, brain trauma, depression and ischemic strokes have all been shown to decrease with fasting.

Recent research has also found that after a few days of fasting there are higher levels of endorphins in the blood making the individual more alert and attentive, giving a sense of metal well-being.

Spiritual Benefits:

These benefits are too many to enumerate. Fasting helps the individual get closer to Allah, to earn the pleasure of Allah. In the hadith collected by Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Allah said, “Fasting is for Me and I will give reward for it…” This indicates that fasting is between the individual and Allah. Moreover Allah will reward the fasting person as much as He wishes, and however He wishes; and Allah’s rewards are infinite!

During the month of Ramadaan, the month of fasting, “the gates of paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked and the devils are chained.” (Agreed Upon) Allah makes it easier for us to come closer to Him, and simpler to earn good deeds as the temptations of the devils are far removed. Also, Allah admits to His mercy many of His slaves and saves them from the hellfire.

An added bonus of fasting is that it will Inshallah give us access to the gate of Paradise called Ar-Rayyan; the prophet (saw) said, “There is a gate in paradise called Ar-Rayyan, through which those who fast will enter on the Day of Judgement and no one besides them will enter it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Fasting is a prophetic remedy for the body, mind, heart and soul. It contains many benefits, some of which can be felt immediately and others which will be shown to us on the Day of Resurrection. May Allah make us amongst those whom He admits to His Mercy, and those from whom He accepts their fasts, and those whom He admits to paradise through the gate of Ar-Rayyan. Ameen.

 

Lessons From A Ramadaan Scene

As we all began to gather round the table for iftaar, hushed mumblings of “I’m starving” surfaced above the hustle and bustle as everyone moved towards the dining area. The table was exquisitely laid, with dates of the sweetest and softest kind, exotic fruits, savoury finger foods, delicacies of various meat and chicken dishes, and assorted sweets. Colourful drinks in clear crystal glasses and hot cups of tea and coffee were added to the already overflowing table. What more could one want after such a long day of fasting?

Yet still, murmurs and complaints could still be heard. “Oh I don’t like that,” said one. “That won’t fill me up,” whispered someone else. “What type of iftaar is this?!” exclaimed another. The dissatisfaction was thick in the air. Nonetheless, every last one of the guests ate their fill until they could barely stand for maghrib, let alone taraweeh. Their bellies weighed down on them like a heavy burden, a stark reminder of their greed, and gluttony.

This prospect is too common amongst the ummah. Every year Ramadaan comes and goes but many of us gain nothing from this blessed month except for extra weight. As in the hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing from his fast save hunger…” (An-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah)

Today, though as we sat for iftaar at the dining table, we broke our fast with a date and glass of water. This, though seemingly meager, is from the Sunnah. As we all bit our date, the first taste of food we had had in the past twenty hours or so, my mother remarked, “Subhanallah, Allah has blessed us with so much.” We all looked up to see what she had to say. “Imagine those who break their fast with nothing or barely anything to eat.” We were all stunned. As we each drifted off into our own reverie, my mother’s words hung and brought a silence to us all. We continued our iftaar barely looking up at each other, the food suddenly becoming difficult to digest.

It was at this moment that I remembered the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions. Aishah narrated, “three new moons would be sighted and no cooking fire would be lit in the houses of the Prophet.” When asked, what they used to eat, she replied, “the two black things, i.e. dates and water.”(Bukhari) Compared to such circumstances, we are kings and queens, living lives of luxury and indulgence. Our stoves are always lighted, our pots always heavy, our plates always full and our bellies always bulging.

Why not make our stomachs lighter for Taraweeh so that we can concentrate better and stand up for longer? Do it for the sake of Allah; reduce your iftaar intake with the intention of pleasing Allah, with the intention of standing up longer in qiyaam, bowing longer in ruku’ and prostrating longer in sujood, because all these acts are loved by Allah. Moreover, if you leave something that is not haram with the intention of earning Allah’s love, Allah will love you, Inshallah.

To lighten the burden of finishing all the food, share it, as the prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.” (Tirmidhi)

iftaar

Bibi Zainab Dowlut

Gratitude to Parents

“…Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” (31:14)

After being grateful to Allah, Muslims are obliged to be grateful to their parents. They are one of the greatest blessings given to us by Allah. At the same time, they are a means of fulfillment of our daily needs. Imagine a day without mom; when you have to get up by yourself, get ready for school, make breakfast, you have to pack your lunch box, and when you return home you have to do the dishes, clothes, etc. Imagine a month without dad; where you have to get a job to sustain your family, provide shelter and food for them, where you have to do the shopping and the millions of other jobs on the list.

Over-protectiveness and the questioning of our parents is often viewed as a nuisance by us. However, we must realize that their limitless care for us is the cause of such behavior. They care for us more than we can imagine; they raise us, look after us and tend to our needs. Parents are the only one who will be there in times of both grief and happiness. No matter how upset or angry you are with your parents, when you look in the mirror you have your father’s mouth, and mother’s eyes, and on your face they are still together.

Think of the time when you’ve done something your parents want you to complete before they arrive home. Think of the smile that spread across their face, the love that was evident in their eyes, and the bonus they gave you when they saw it done. Parents’ happiness stems from the child’s obedience.

We all must be aware of the hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ), where the three men trapped in the cave made du’aa to Allah by means of their good deeds and Allah made the rock shift. One person’s deed was his respect and love towards his parents; narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar; I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) saying, “Three men from among those who were before you, set out together till they reached a cave at night and entered it. A big rock rolled down the mountain and closed the mouth of the cave. They said (to each other), Nothing can save you from this rock but to invoke Allah by giving referenda to a righteous deed which you have done (for Allah’s sake only).’ So, one of them said, ‘O Allah! I had old parents and I never provided my family (wife, children etc.) with milk before them. One day, by chance I was delayed, and I came late (at night) while they had slept. I milked the sheep for them and took the milk to them, but I found them sleeping. I disliked to provide my family with the milk before them. I waited for them and the bowl of milk was in my hand and I kept on waiting for them to get up till the day dawned. Then they got up and drank the milk. O Allah! If I did that for Your Sake only, please relieve us from our critical situation caused by this rock.’ So, the rock shifted a little…” (Sahih al-Bukhari 2272)

“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (Surah al-Isra: 23)

Abu Hurayrah reported that a person asked, “Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ), who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He replied: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).” (Sahih Muslim 2548)

We can only be thankful once we truly appreciate their efforts, and mothers top the list of round-the-clock work. Our mothers carried us for nine months, often enduring pain and hardship.

 “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years…” (Surah al-Luqman: 14)

Our mothers tended to us when we were sick, stayed up late at night to ensure we were well and healthy; they prepared our food, fed us and sacrificed their time and efforts in raising us as Muwahideen. Our fathers ensured we had a roof over our head, food to fill our bellies, they clothed us and protected us when we were most vulnerable. Our parents instilled in us the beauty of islam, they were our first teachers and educators, in all aspects of life. It is no wonder that it is our duty to respect them, to uphold their rights, and take care of them when they reach old age. The great scholar, Abu al-Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzî (d. 1201CE) explained, “to be kind to one’s parents is: to obey them when they order you to do something, unless it is something which Allah has forbidden; to give priority to their orders over voluntary acts of worship; to abstain from that which they forbid you to do; to provide for them; to serve them; to approach them with gentle humility and mercy; not to raise your voice in front of them; nor to fix your glance on them; nor to call them by their names; and to be patient with them.” (Birr al-Wâlidayn)

May Allah reward our parents abundantly and make us of those who are grateful to them and to Him (Azza wa jal).

 

The Pearly Gates

Forget about your work, forget about your problems, and everything that crosses your mind that may distract you. Because it’s Paradise…Paradise is our topic.

The Prophet’s companions said: “When we sit with the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, it’s as if we can see paradise and hell with our own eyes.”

What are we like in comparison to this? How many of us can see Jannah like it’s right in front of us?

Imagine; envision yourself looking at its rivers, its soil, imagine walking around its palaces. Imagine walking around with your friends in Jannah doing everything you desire without any restrictions.

The Prophet once asked a man, “What do you say in your prayers?” While you’re performing Salaah, what do you say? The man replied, “I ask Allah for Jannah and seek refuge in Him from the fire.” The Prophet then said, “And we as well ask for Jannah and seek refuge in Allah from the fire.”

Paradise…A place where each and every one of us would like to be destined. Paradise…A place that people died for. Jannah…A place far away from this world.

A man named Umayrah Bin Himam, a companion of the Prophet, heard only a few words about Jannah. He heard that the width of Jannah is the same width of the skies and earth. SubhanAllah! So Umayrah said, “I wish to be of those who enter Paradise.” The Prophet overheard what he said and replied: “You are of those.”

Just imagine; imagine if you were to receive good news like this from the Prophet directly. Would you still want to live in this life full of misery?

Did you know that a space the size of your foot in paradise is better than everything beautiful you see in this world?

Umayrah was holding dates in his hands as he heard this news; he replied, “it will take me a long time; a long time to finish these dates!” He threw aside his dates, grabbed his sword and plunged into the battle. He fought valiantly until he was killed, and died a martyr. However, this man is not dead, in fact he is more alive than you and I are; for he is alive in Jannah.

وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ لِمَنْ يُقْتَلُ فِي سَبيلِ اللّهِ أَمْوَاتٌ بَلْ أَحْيَاء وَلَكِن لاَّ تَشْعُرُونَ

“And say not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:154)

Keep in mind that it is not your prayers, fasting, and charity that is the price of Jannah, that is false. Your prayers and good deeds are not the price of Paradise, Jannah is more expensive than the few years we spend on this earth in worship, and no one – no one will enter Jannah with only his good deeds. Paradise costs much more than that; no one can afford it, not even the Prophet (Saw)  as he mentioned in the hadith. Whoever enters Paradise will only enter it with Allah’s mercy & not with his good deeds. The good deeds that you do in this life is a means for you to earn Allah’s mercy, and earning Allah’s mercy is what allows you to enter jannah.

So, let’s imagine. Imagine that you’ve earned Allah’s mercy and that you have been accounted by Allah. Picture yourself walking towards jannah and all that you are waiting for is the gates to open up for you. You can see them shinning in the distance, you can smell jannah, the fragrance of musk which can be smelt from a 40 years distance. Jannah, has 8 gates and the distance in between each gate is 40 years as well.

Your footsteps take you closer to paradise. Imagine who you can see.

You see Adam, Nuh, Yunus, Ibrahim, Isa; you see all the prophets. Then you lift your gaze in time to see the beloved prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) knocking on the gate of Jannah. The Angel responds with the most beautiful voice, “Who is it?” The Prophet replies: “I am Muhammad.” The Angel says, “I was commanded not to open the door to anyone before you.”

And there it is; the gates open up and you are entering paradise to live in a place where there is no misery. That’s it, the gates are finally open and you are allowed to enter.

Imam Ahmad was once asked: “When does the human find comfort that lasts?” Life is full of worries, fear, and pain; you feel comfortable one day, and the next day you feel grief, so when? When do I get to be satisfied? The Imam replied: “When you take your first step in Jannah!”

Now imagine; imagine that you have entered Jannah with your family.

جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَنْ صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالمَلاَئِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ

“Also those who acted righteously from among their fathers, and their spouses, and their offspring will enter Paradise and the Angels will meet them at each door.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:23)

And now the angels are standing at its gates as you hold the hands of your family members and enter it. And the Angels say:

سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِمَا صَبَرْتُمْ فَنِعْمَ عُقْبَى الدَّارِ

“Peace be upon you, for you preserved in patience. Excellent indeed is the final home.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:24)

Peace be upon you, you prayed on time you were patient with Allah’s commands and decree. Peace to you for fasting Ramadan; you were patient. Peace to you for glorifying your Lord when times were hard; you were patient.

Now imagine what you see as you enter it…

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ ثَمَّ رَأَيْتَ نَعِيمًا وَمُلْكًا كَبِيرًا

“And when you look there in paradise, you will see a delight that cannot be imagined, and a great dominion.” (Al-Insaan 76:20)

White land, its grass is of saffron, its soil; of pearls and rubies. You see your palace that you asked for when you lived the first life. You will know where your palace is located more than you know where the house you live in right now is located.

And there is more than palaces and jewels. For believing in Allah and praying your five prayers a day in the mosque there is more waiting for you in paradise.

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ جَزَاءً بِمَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

“No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.”(As-Sajdah 32:17)

A paradise that has what no eye has seen before, what no ear has heard of, what hasn’t crossed the mind of a human being before.

Do you know who the lowest position in Jannah is for?

It is for the last man to step out of hell. He is a man who had many evil deeds in his life, and very few good deeds. A man who gets severely punished, serves his time in hell, and is permitted to enter paradise afterwards. He will get the lowest position in Jannah, yet, he will get 10 times and more of everything you see in this world.

He gets to have 10 times more beauty of the most beautiful women of this world. 10 times more pleasure than all of the pleasure in this dunya.

How many people lose their souls every day to a person in this world that doesn’t deserve it? How many people fight each other each day for getting some kind of worldly pleasure that doesn’t last? How many thieves steal money every day to fund their drug addiction only to be pleased for a short while? How many people forget that they have to pray, how many people forget about adhering to the Quran and neglect their duties towards it?

How many people do these things? Just to have fun for a short period, in this short life, in this dunya, and the last man to enter paradise gets to own 10 times and more of what is in this world.

In Jannah, you have someone waiting for you if you are on the right path my friend;

وحَوَّرٌ عَيَّنٌ  كأمِثَالِ الُلؤْلُؤ آلَمَكُنَون  جَزَاءً بِمَا كآنَوا يعَمَلْوَن

“There will be Hur (the beautiful wives whom Allah created for the dwellers of paradise) with wide eyes like the preserved pearls. As a reward for what they used to do.” (Al-Waqi’ah 56:22-24)

‘Hur al Ayn’ are the wives of Ahl-Ajjannah; and if one of these Hur were to walk out of paradise and look down at the Earth while standing in the sky, everything in between the skies and the earth would be brightened by her light. And the skies and earth would smell like musk.

After knowing this, would you rather be patient and have a few of these wives in the afterlife, or would you rather commit zina and be forbidden to touch the Hur al Ayn? Allah leaves the choice up to you.

The Hur Al Ayn will be wearing golden crowns, dressed up in silk, covered in pearls, smelling like musk.

إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاء. فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا

“Indeed we have produced the women of paradise a new creation.” (Al-Waqiah 56:35)

 

فَلَا تَعْلَمُ نَفْسٌ مَا أُخْفِيَ لَهُمْ مِنْ قُرَّةِ أَعْيُنٍ

Imagine this, you who is righteous, who is honest, who believes in Tawheed, who prays, and reads the Quran…

Envision winning paradise, where you are enveloped in the grace of Allah and see no misery, no sorrow, where there are no sacrifices to make, nothing to lose, where you are entertained and never get bored, where you live for eternity with no pain, and no death…

لَا يَذُوقُونَ فِيهَا الْمَوْت إِلَّا الْمَوْتَة الْأُولَى

“They will never taste death therein, except for the first death.” (Ad-Dukhan 44:56)

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا تُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ تَوْبَةً نَصُوحًا عَسَى رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ

“O you who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance! It may be that your lord will expiate from your sins,”

وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَار

“And admit you into gardens under which rivers flow.” (At-Tahreem 66:8)

Yes rivers; imagine sitting near one of these rivers with nothing to worry about. We are talking about a river full of wine just for you; you who turned to Allah with sincere repentance and obeyed his commands.

In Jannah you will see pigeons flying, and when you crave for one, it will come right in front of you, grilled just the way you like it to be! In jannah you don’t need to go fishing, you don’t need to buy a grill or an oven; you just sit back, relax and whatever you crave will come right to you without even asking for it.

There will be no calls of nature, no-one will sleep. There will be no grief and no one will weep. When people sweat, it will smell of musk. Allah will be praised from dawn till dusk. And Allah says:

لَهُمْ فِيهَا مَا يَشَاؤُونَ خَالِدِينَ كَانَ عَلَى رَبِّكَ وَعْدًا مَسْؤُولا

“For the pious there will be all that they desire in Jannah, it is a promise binding upon your lord that must be fulfilled.” (Al-Furqan 25:16)

In Paradise, the people of it will gather  and talk about the life they used to live in this world, they will talk about its pain’s and grief’s, they will talk about the good things they have done, the times they used to walk to the Masjid, pray, read Quran, attend  Islamic lectures. They will even talk about the days they went for Umrah and Hajj.

إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَلِكَ مُحْسِنِينَ .كَانُوا قَلِيلاً مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ .وَبِالْأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ .وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ

“Verily, before this they were good doers, they did not sleep much at night, praying to Allah with fear and hope, and in the hours before dawn, they were found asking forgiveness from Allah, and they used to give a portion of their money to the beggar and to the poor who was in need but never asked.” (Ath-Thariyaat 51:16-19)

This is a description of the people of Paradise; do you find yourself to be one of them?

When the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him got very ill at the age of 63, Jibreel came to him and asked him: “O Muhammad would you like to live in this world any longer or would do you want to go?”

The Prophet Replied: بل الرفيق الأعلى  and he meant “Paradise”.

O Brothers and sisters listen to what Allah tells you:

مَا عِنْدَكُمْ يَنفَدُ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللَّهِ بَاقٍ

“Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever is with Allah (of good deeds) will remain.” (An-Nahl 16:96)

Many people don’t realize that they one day will lose everything they have, whether it be money, a job, a car whatever it is you will one day lose it, and what does remain is your good deeds, it remains with Allah until you meet him.

When you meet Allah he gives you all the good deeds you’ve collected in this world, he gives it back to you in full, the palaces you receive, the gardens, the rivers, the Hur al Ayn.

Only for the righteous, those who obeyed, those who kept their tongues from false speech, those who were humble and patient, those who fulfilled their covenant with  Allah and never broke it, those who keep their promises, those who enjoin good & forbid wrong, and those who do not cheat, steal, nor lie.

This dunya is nothing in comparison to the akhirah. Think about your house; how long did you work to build and pay for that house? How much sweat did you perspire for that house? How many millions and thousands did you lose for that house? Whilst the houses in Jannah are made of gold and silver bricks, yet we do not exert that effort into its construction, even though it is much simpler. To earn a palace in Jannah, not a house, palace; the prophet Muhammad said: he who reads ‘Qul huwa Allaahu ahad…’ ten times Allah builds a palace in jannah for him.

When everyone is sitting and relaxing in jannah, suddenly a man calls out a question. He says, “Friends, brothers, partners; has anyone seen my friend fulan? This was a friend of mine in the first life, have you seen him?” Everyone remains silent because nobody has seen him. He continues, “This man was my friend, he used to be close to me, and when I became a good muslim he hated it. When I used to pray and obey Allah, he tried to keep me away from being good. He told me wait, let’s enjoy life, later on we can ask Allah to forgive us. Has anyone seen him?” No one has seen him. Allah opens hell fire. They all see the torment of hellfire for a moment but they do not feel its heat. And who does this man see? He sees his friend burning in hell. And then he says, “if it weren’t by Allah’s grace I would have been with you right now!”

It is the perfect time to take advantage of Allah’s mercy, so we can earn our books with our right hands because Allah says;

فَأَمَّا مَنْ أُوتِيَ كِتَابَهُ بِيَمِينِهِ فَيَقُولُ هَاؤُمُ اقْرَؤُوا كِتَابِيهْ (19) إِنِّي ظَنَنتُ أَنِّي مُلَاقٍ حِسَابِيهْ

“Then for him who is given his book with his right hand will say: Here! Read my record! Surely, I did believe that I will meet my account!

فَهُوَ فِي عِيشَةٍ رَّاضِيَةٍ (21

So he shall be in a life, well-pleasing.

فِي جَنَّةٍ عَالِيَةٍ (22

In a lofty Paradise,

قُطُوفُهَا دَانِيَةٌ (23

The fruits in bunches whereof will be low and near at hand.

كُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا هَنِيئاً بِمَا أَسْلَفْتُمْ فِي الْأَيَّامِ الْخَالِيَةِ (24

Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent on before you in days past!” (Al-Haqqah 69:19-14)

Rayan Arab

CEO, AAT