The amazing story of Robert Davila

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

I’ve formed a habit of listening to Islamic lectures on YouTube while working in the office and I came across the story of Robert Davila a few days ago. It is one of the most amazing stories I’ve heard, it brought tears to my eyes and made my day at the same time.

There are so many lessons to be learnt in this story and I hope to reflect on these In Sha Allah. For now, I just had to share it and no doubt I will be discussing it with as many people as possible over the next few days.

Puts the phrase “God works in mysterious ways’ into real perspective.

I pray that Allah have mercy on brother Robert, that He eases his pain and allows us to meet with him one day. May Allah reward those who have contributed to this great story and particular, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan for being such an inspiration and sharing this story with the world.

SubhanAllah!

Filling empty containers…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Today’s Jumuah sermon was a continuation of Dr Mohamad Abdalla’s lecture on the importance of time management. The entire lecture series has been absolutely inspiring and has captivated the Jumuah audience over the last 4 weeks. 

The issue of Time Management is something I am passionate about and I was blown away by the 1st lecture in the series a few weeks ago. Since then, the audience has grown in number with many attending Jumuah at Kuraby just to hear Dr Abdalla speak. 

In his talk today, Dr Abdalla mentioned a letter of advice from Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi to his son on the issue of Time. The story caught my attention so I noted a few details and looked it up this evening. This is what it read:

“Know, dear son,
that days are but hours,
and hours are but breaths,
and every soul is a container,
hence let not any breath pass without any benefit,
such as on the Day of Judgment you find an empty container and feel regret!
Be aware of every hour and how it passes,
and only spend it in the best possible way;
do not neglect yourself,
but render it accustomed to the noblest and best of actions,
and send to your grave that which will please you when you arrive to it.”

As a Muslim, I’ve heard this advice many times before but I found this particular line very intriguing… “let not any breath pass without any benefit, such as on the Day of Judgement you find an empty container and feel regret”. The idea of an ’empty’ container got me thinking. 

We place so much emphasis on either doing whats right or whats wrong that we forget about the time we’re not doing anything at all. How many containers do we leave empty each day? 

Perhaps by focussing solely on the good and the bad, we overlook the amount of time we waste each day. The fact that with each hour, we have the choice of filling these containers with good deeds, bad deeds or no deeds at all really puts things in to perspective.  Despite all the good we try to accomplish with every hour, I don’t like the idea of having too many empty containers. 

What are we doing with our spare time? 

Never Miss Fajr… there’s an app for that!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

A few weeks back I found myself struggling to maintain a healthy routine and as a result, had difficulty waking up for Fajr Salaah. It’s usually as easy as simply getting to bed earlier but with a heavy workload, shorter nights and the backlog of office work, it wasn’t that simple. 

I woke up one morning to the sound of the Adhan and realised it was coming from my wife’s phone so I leaned over to turn it down and found myself answering Islamic Trivia instead of just hitting the snooze button. Half asleep, I answered 3 correct answers and the Adhan turned off, I must have been really dazed because I didn’t think twice about answering the questions despite not knowing what I was doing at the time. Nevertheless, the brain stimulation seemed to work and I was able to easily get out of bed to pray Fajr. 

Later that day my wife shared this amazing app with me… ‘Never miss Fajr’. It’s a simple, yet ingenious idea that hasn’t failed me since I started using it a few weeks back. A simple interface allowing you to select your Adhan times based on your location, your preferred reciter and your choice of ‘Trivia’ or ‘Shake’ to turn the Adhan off. 

I found the trivia option works best to get my mind working and is a good recap of some general Islamic knowledge. There’s no snooze button, volume control or any shortcuts once the Adhan begins so the app is geared to get your attention to the screen and keeps your mind at work until you work through the trivia questions. The ‘Shake to Wake’ option is fun but in my experience, less effective. 

The Salaah time calculation is very accurate and locates you right down to your suburb which is very convenient. It also allows you an alarm delay if the set times are different to your local Salaah timetable. 

One tip though, keep your phone volume at about 70% to make sure the Adhan is loud enough to wake you up but not the kids.

The phone is usually a distraction from Salaah, perhaps apps like these can give our mobile devices a more spiritual purpose in our lives. What does your phone do for you? Mine gets me up for Fajr every morning 😉

The App is FREE and available on iOS and Android. More info available here.

 

“He who offers the dawn (Fajr) prayers will come under the Protection of Allah. – Muslim 

A gift from the Almighty… a sacred trust!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

By the grace of Allah, we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl over the weekend. Despite being a 2nd child and having to wait almost 9 months for her, nothing can prepare you for the excitement, nervousness and emotions of child birth. 

Alhamdulillah it went well and after a few (long) hours, we were holding our little baby girl. Occassions like these are filled with emotions and bring back so many memories. It’s almost as if you can feel the chemical reactions in your body and if you’re not careful, you’ll feel some of the liquids drip down your cheeks 😉

In the months and weeks leading up to the birth, I took an interest in all things baby related and began doing some reading to recap on some of the information I had learnt with our first child. After various articles, google searches and lectures on the topic, there was one statement that caught my attention and resonated over time… that Children are a sacred trust from the Almighty entrusted unto parents. 

We were intrigued with the simplicity yet profoundness of this statement which also made naming her very easy… Amaanah! Sacred Trust or Entrusted in English. I hope that her name will always serve as a reminder to us that she is indeed an Amaanah from Allah. 

Perhaps this is the inspiartion I’ve been seeking. 

A new chapter In Sha Allah.

Hajj at home with my wife & kid!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

It usually starts with Hajj Package posters outside the mosque, then a few Hajj preparation seminars and finally the meeting and greeting as the chosen people depart on the spiritual journey of Hajj. Despite the emphasis on the importance of Hajj and in particular the first 10 days of the month, growing up I always assumed that the auspiciousness of the month of Hajj was exclusive to those actually performing the pilgrimage.

As a child I was always aware of the occasion, but I can’t remember anything special or different during the month of Hajj. The one time it really impacted me was the year my parents undertook the journey and left my sisters and I at home with the grandparents. When you’re a kid and you’re parents leave for such a long time, the Hajj memories you’re left with aren’t so great. Nevertheless, it was the one year, we experienced something different during the month of Hajj.

This year was a little more eventful and spiritually uplifting. As soon as Hajj approached, Facebook & Twitter were flooded with messages and reminders of the importance of Hajj and some of the commendable acts of worship associated with the first ten days. I was reminded everyday and the reminders alone instilled a sense of awareness and I found that engaging in some of these acts of worship and even fasting during these days became instinctive. Social media is not all bad, but you have to be engaged with the right people, groups & organisations to benefit from them.

At home I was reminded about Hajj through my wife’s awesome idea of a Hajj advent calendar for our 2 and half year old son. The calendar had little pockets for each day of the first 2 weeks of Hajj and he would get to open one of the pockets each day. I’ll leave the details of the calendar for my wife’s blog but by acknowledging the importance of each day and making an effort to do activities relating to the events that took place and take place during Hajj, we were constantly reminded of the importance and significance of Hajj and then Eid.

My son loved the idea and by Eid day had learnt about Hajj, the Ka’ba, Ihram, Tawaaf, Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) etc and became enthused about Eid day and the idea of one day visiting the Ka’ba In Sha Allah. All it took was a poster and a brilliant idea from my wife but the results were amazing. Being able to celebrate and enjoy Hajj at home with the family was truly a blessing. The highlight of my Hajj at home was watching my son get confused with the extra Takbeer at the Eid Salaah… truly heartwarming.

With the end of the month of Hajj and the beginning of a new Islamic year, my aim is to find ways of integrating faith and spirituality into every month. Ramdhan and Hajj are special indeed, but in order to counter the moral imbalance of the world our children live in, we need these reminders more often. I’m hoping the wife has a few more ideas up her sleeve or possibly on her blog.

 

The Forenoon Prayer…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

In my quest for the ideal Ramadan routine I revived an old habit and another Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) … The Dhuha or Forenoon prayer. It’s a simple habit that a formed while working in public practice a few years back. I would get to work early in the morning and by 10 AM I would need a break from the computer screen so I would chill in the boardroom for a while. I decided to make better use of this time to I started praying Salat-Ad-Dhuha every morning which I found very relaxing and rejuvenating.

Ironically, I lost the habit when I started working from home due to a slightly less structured work environment but Alhamdulillah, Ramadan is a great reminder and I have included Salat-Ad-Dhuha in my Ramadan routine.

It’s a simple prayer that takes only a few minutes but is a good break mid-morning and can greatly improve productivity.

“In the morning, charity is due on every joint of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s Glorification is an act of charity, every utterance of His Praise is an act of charity, every utterance of declaration of His Greatness is an act of charity, and every utterance of declaration of His Power; and enjoining Good is an act of charity, and forbidding evil is an act of charity, and two Rak`ats of Dhuha Prayer which one performs in the Forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).” [Muslim]

Fulfil the charity due on your body and seek the pleasure of Allah through this simple prayer each morning. I usually do it at about 10 AM to coincide with a break from the office but the time of Dhuha extends from 20 mins after sunrise to about 45 mins before noon.

Abu Huraira Radhiallahu ‘anhu said : “My Khalil (friend) (the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) advised me to observe three things and I shall not leave them till I die: 1. “To observe Saum (fasting) three days every (lunar) month; 2.” To offer the Dhuha prayer; 3. To offer Witr prayer before sleeping.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

I hope I can revive many for Sunnah this Ramadan and I pray that I can maintain them every month InshaAllah!

Appreciating the Qailulah…

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Alhamdulillah, the Ramadan routine is slowly taking shape. As part of my Ramadan preparation this year I decided to put together a Ramadan Routine guideline to help me stay focused, maintain productivity and still benefit from this Blessed month. I’ve always found that there is more Barakah in time during the month of Ramadan but without a few guidelines, it’s easy to slack off and lose concentration on an empty stomach.

One of the things I came across was the idea of a mid-day nap to balance the lack of sleep and refresh the body to be able to perform Taraweeh & Qiyam-al-Layl. I’ve heard countless times that a short rest/nap during the day is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and I know many people who do it regularly. I’ve tried in the past but since my naps always went longer than they should, it messed up my sleep cycle and affected my productivity during the day so I gave it up.

Thought I’d re-visit the idea and incorporate it in to my Ramadan routine so I did some research. We often hear that certain things are a Sunnah of our Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and we are encouraged to emulate his actions. Performing the action is commendable but I believe in order to truly appreciate the wisdom, we must research and learn more about these Sunnah. If you do something because someone told you to, you might do it for a while and then forget about it. If you understand why you should be doing something and you appreciate the wisdom behind it, the action becomes yours and you are more likely to have conviction and sincerity in the things you do.

In Arabic, “Al qaylulah” means “the mid-day rest”, which can be a short nap or rest period. It was a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) as well as his companions.

“We used to offer the Jumuah Salaah with Nabi (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and then take the afternoon nap. (Al-Bukhari) 

Another Hadith mentions that the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم)  said, “Sleeping early in the day betrays ignorance, in the middle of the day is right, and at the end of the day is foolish.”(Fath Al-Bari, p.73).

There are a number of narrations that confirm the practice of the Qaylulah by the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and his companions. Something science has only recently discovered seems to have been mainstream in Islam 1400 years ago. I believe it’s important to learn these practices from our own history so we can appreciate the wisdom of the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and the early Muslims and ensure that when we implement these actions, we do it for the right reasons, with the correct intentions. Sometimes all that separates a useless act from a righteous one is the intention.

So if you take a nap during the day to rejuvenate, do it as a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم). Science only recently discovered the benefits of this Sunnah so as Muslim’s we can benefit from it physically and by making the right intentions, we can benefit spiritually as well InshaAllah.

Ishaaq ibn ‘Abd-Allah said: “Taking a nap is one of the deeds of good people. It revitalizes the heart and helps one to pray qiyaam al-layl.”

Based on my experience so far, it does exactly that. The Qaylulah has made it practical to stay awake from Suhoor and gain maximum productivity early in the day which allows for more time to spend reading Quran and seeking the pleasure of Allah. It is definitely the highlight of my Ramadan routine which I am hoping to perfect in the next 2 days In Sha Allah.

Ramadan is here!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

After all the preparation and anticipation, despite not seeing the moon myself tonight, Ramadan 2013/1434 has arrived. It’s an amazing experience we are blessed with each year and I am so grateful for this opportunity again this year. The Ramadan preparation, the sighting of the moon and the welcoming of this Blessed month brings with it a sense of unity and belonging for Muslims all over the world.

As a Muslim living in the West, Ramadan brings the community together and really fosters the idea of a united Ummah or Nation. From the first night, the Mosque’s are packed, you meet people you don’t usually get to meet, everyone’s excited, lots of hugging, at times the occasional kiss from the Arab brothers – very manly and nothing queer! It is truly a festive atmosphere, sometimes you just have to take the time to appreciate it.

Despite the annual moon-sighting controversy and some differences in the approach and attitude of different ethnic groups, the concept of unity and the sense of togetherness still prevails. Once everyone is fasting, we forget the petty differences and the shared goals bring us closer again on the basis of our sheer love and respect for this great month.

I know I didn’t fully benefit from Ramadan last year which makes this year even more special to me. I am grateful that I have another opportunity and InshaAllah (God willing) I will have my redemption. The last 12 months have taught me many lessons and allowed me to appreciate my faith in a new light. After reflecting on Ramadan’s passed, I feel I have neglected a key aspect of this month and I plan to change that this year.

We get carried away with the fasting during the day and sometime forget that Ramadan is not simply the month of fasting. Ramadan is in fact the month of the Quran and without prioritising and emphasising this, the fasting becomes ritualistic and the month passes by like some sort of diet regime. This Ramadan, my intention is to fully and completely fulfil the rights of the Quran and I pray that by doing so I am able to maximise the blessings of this blessed month and come out the other end a better Muslim InshaAllah.

To my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, I wish you a Blessed Ramadan… May the Almighty shower His mercy upon you, accept your efforts and pardon your shortcomings.

Blessed Ramadan!

Ramadhan Prep… Clear up the clutter… Again!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

Ramadhan 2013 is fast approaching and with only a few days to go, it’s time to consider a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadhan.

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Read Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadhaan
  • Get a good sleep cycle going so you can handle waking up for Suhoor/Sehri
  • Go easy on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadhaan is not just about food but since we need to eat and drink, plan your menu in advance and make all necessary preparations so you don’t waste time in the kitchen.
  • Shop now – get your shopping done early, stock up on groceries and your Eid clothes too so you’re not frequenting the shops when you can be benefiting from  the virtue of this auspicious month.
It’s been a year since the last Ramadhan, take this opportunity to get into the Ramadhan zone so you don’t waste valuable time trying to find your feet. Prepare early, prepare well and get ready for the month of Mercy.
Over the years I’ve realized how Ramadhan preparation changes with our circumstances. Ramadhan as a child with my family, then as a teenager, as a husband with my wife, as a new father, this year with a toddler… It’s a good feeling!
May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadhan InshaAllah.

Remember the Quran… and the milk!

In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.

As part of my Ramadhan prep this year I’ve been looking at ways to increase Quran recitation each day. By spending more time at the mosque lately, I’ve had the opportunity to read Quran more than just once a day which naturally allows me to read more through the day. I’ve tried in the past and tried again recently to use one of the many Quran apps available to recite just about anywhere, anytime while keeping track of my progress each day. Some of the apps are really awesome and allow clear arabic text, english translation, notes and a bookmarks so you know exactly where you’re up to. The main advantage of these apps is the convenience and the progress tracking which is handy, especially when you’re reading at different times and in different places each day.

For some reason I can not find comfort in reading on a screen and scrolling through the text. As convenient as it is, I find the experience of reciting Quran on my iPhone or iPad very unusual and slightly un-natural. I grew up reading Quran the old-fashioned way and nothing can beat the familiarity and comfort in holding the Mus-haf (Compiled pages of the Quran or Kitab). I’ve been reading Quran in the same mus-haf for 12 years and no app can give you that feeling of familiarity and tranquility. The worn pages, scribblings and date markings add a dimension no technology can emulate but since I can’t carry my mus-haf everywhere, I needed a solution that allowed me to read in any mus-haf, anywhere I went while still keeping track of my progress.

I’ve been using an app called ‘Remember The Milk’ to manage my projects, emails, task list and priorities and after a few tweaks I found the perfect solution. This is what Remember the Quran looks like in my Remember the Milk app…

Remember The Quran

I’ve set it to recur everyday so I’ll have a daily reminder to ‘Read Quran’ and the notes section allows me to keep track of my progress which I can update any time I read, any where I read. It’s working well so far and I’m looking forward to really testing out through Ramadhan InshaAllah. Just love it when technology and religion come together. Alhamdulillah for Muslim Productivity.