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.

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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.

Thinking about Ramadhaan…

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

With the sighting of the new crescent, Ramadhaan is only a few weeks away. I remember the 100 day countdown on a few Facebook pages but it still felt like a distant event. It’s not too far off now so everyone’s talking about it, thinking about it and hopefully planning for it. Ramadhaan is a huge date stamp on the Muslim calendar and though we all complain that it arrives and departs very quickly, Ramadhaan memories usually last a long time.

Despite living by the gregorian calendar, there is something special about the month of Ramadhaan which makes it’s memories very vivid. Every year, the rituals and obligations remain the same but circumstances always change so your approach to Ramadhaan and the lessons learnt keep changing. Once we reach Sha’ban each year, the Islamic calendar becomes a major part of our lives and once Ramadhaan arrives, you couldn’t care less about what month of the year it is. It’s as if, the year pauses briefly to allow for this special month and then resumes when it ends.

Last Ramadhaan was a challenging time for me and my family. I had recently left work and moved back to Brisbane when my dad took ill and everything became slightly blurry for a few months. Ramadhaan arrived and unfortunately, due to the stress, pressure and unexpected commitments I had, I wasn’t able to maximise the Ramadhaan experience. I’ve found that emotional experiences during or around the month of Ramadhaan are not easy to forget.

Reflecting on these memories makes me extremely grateful for the events that have unfolded since then and I thank God for helping us get through it.

This year, InshaAllah (God willing) will be my first Ramadhaan since I left work last year without any unexpected or unplanned commitments. I am hoping to make the best of it and hopefully even make up for last year. When I was working in public practise, I remember fantasizing about what it would be like if I didn’t have to work during Ramadhaan… This time I get to test it out. I’m hoping that by remembering and reflecting on this, I can stay focused and maximise the Ramadhaan experience this year.

The Ramadhaan anticipation has struck earlier this year so I’d like to start planning earlier too. Hoping to write and reflect a little more InshaAllah.

 

اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

 

‘Allaahumma baarik lanaa fee Rajab wa Sha,baan wa ballignaa Ramadhaan.’

 

“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).

 

Sunday afternoon Halal-ness…

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

A blue, rainy Sunday at home got me feeling for some Hot Thai food and some coffee. Decided to go to Madinah Cafe which is down the road from the house. Hadn’t been there in months and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if they were still open. Halal restaurants come and go so I would not have been surprised if they had shut shop. Alhamdulillah they were open for business and lunch was awesome. Enjoyed my coffee and my cashew chicken but aside from the food, the Halal environment and peaceful atmosphere is what’s truly fulfilling.

Madinah Cafe doesn’t just serve Halal food, it provides an environment conducive to Halal dining and socializing. Cafe style dining with Arabic Caligraphy, Islamic paintings, artwork and little reminders about Allah on the wall coupled with friendly service from a humble and polite muslim family makes it more than just another halal cafe.

From the outside it probably looked like just another ethnic restaurant with noisy people and kids running around but on the inside it was a casual, peaceful place with Muslims from diverse communities coming together to enjoy Arab, Western and Asian food. Alhamdulillah, MashaAllah, InshaAllah, SubhanAllah, is what you hear around you and no one walks in or walks by without saying Salaam. It’s the little things that make the difference between simply serving Halal food and providing Halal dining.

When you are surrounded by goodness and God-consciousness, you feel more inclined towards saying and doing righteous things. It can turn a lazy Sunday lunch into something more virtuous and fulfilling. Instead of simply going out for lunch with your wife, you can spend on your family for the sake of Allah and enjoy a more satisfying experience. While waiting for our lunch, surrounded by  all the ‘Halal-ness”, I was reminded of this Hadith:

“When a man spends on his family, hoping for reward, that is (counted as) an act of charity for him.”
   (Bukhari & Muslim)

A beautiful hadith I would not have thought about if it was simply any Sunday afternoon lunch. On the micro level, this is what a Halal environment can do for you…

It doesn’t take much to create a good, Halal environment but it’s definitely worth it. Get more from your outings and gatherings, keep it Halal.

 

Time management… the right way!

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

The last few weeks, perhaps months, have been extremely busy and I often found myself searching for ways to maximise my time and increase productivity while maintaining an Islamic lifestyle.

When you’ve got a long to-do list and an ever-changing routine, you tend to get carried away and at times engrossed in whatever you’re doing. You might not read enough Quran in the morning, perhaps prayers are delayed or even neglected… Sometimes even the people around you might be distanced in an attempt to work harder, faster, better.

In my own experience I’ve found that it’s easy to put off the little things when your focus is purely productivity. The reason I emphasise the little things is because I believe it’s the little things that facilitate the larger, more significant issues. Here’s a small example: Its mid morning and you’re at work, whatever or wherever that is, as noon approaches, you’re faced with a choice, break your productive streak, take a break and stop by the Mosque for Dhur… or maintain your focus, stay in for lunch and get the job done early… what to do?

I must admit, at times I chose to stay focussed, maintained high productivity and got the job done. I didn’t sacrifice my prayer though, I prayed at work and fulfilled that too but what I did sacrifice was the opportunity to actually get away from work, visit the Mosque, pray in congregation and rejuvenate before another session of work. In hindsight, a bad call!

This afternoon I took another approach, I was at the warehouse and had a few errands to run. As 12:30 approached, I decided to drop what I was doing and head to the Mosque for Dhur… this is what I gained:

  1. Prayer in congregation
  2. A break from routine
  3. Mid-day rejuvenation
  4. Spiritual fulfilment
  5. Witnessing a Brother embrace Islam at the mosque
  6. Re-assessed my priorities for the afternoon; and
  7. Very importantly, came across this Hadith –

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said, “Verily Allah says: O son of Adam, free yourself for my worship, I will (in turn) fill your chest with satisfaction and remove your poverty, and if you don’t, I will fill your hands with distraction and will not remove your poverty.” [Ahmad, Ibn Majah]

Mind Blown! I’ve been looking at it the wrong way, it’s not about productivity to get things done so you have time to worship Allah… It’s about taking the time to worship Allah and achieving efficiencies in doing so! Productivity is pointless without contentment…

Sometimes it’s easier said than done but I hope, Insha Allah, I am able to remember this and apply it going forward.