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.

My sister’s formal…

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

Sometimes it takes a special event or occasion to remind you of the special people in your life. I am so proud of my little sister and I can’t believe she’s all grown up and done with school. It’s been an interesting few months with so much happening, so many trials and challenges, you sometimes forget to notice the little things and before you know it, the year is over.

Life happens I guess, it’s been 7 years since my formal, 4 years since I got married, 10 months since my sisters wedding in India and my son is almost 2 years old now… WOW. So much has happened, it’s good to stop and look back sometimes and I find it almost instinctive to reflect on life when you experience certain emotions. Weddings, anniversaries, special events and sometimes sad occasions often force you to stop and reflect on your life. Without these reflections, we could possibly overlook some of the most precious moments of our lives.

Despite some of the trials and challenges over the last few months, we have so much to be grateful for. I pray that we always have happy occasions to remind us of the blessings bestowed upon us and as my parents accompanied my little sister to her formal, I pray that they take my baby sister to hers one day.

Azraa… you make us all proud and we love you!

Between Ramadhan’s

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

 

I just spent a few minutes reading my own Ramadhan Reminders from last year and I can’t believe how much has changed. Alhamdulillah I am grateful for everything that I have and I trust in the way things are meant to be, but when you actually take the time to look back and reflect… it’s quite amazing.

Last Ramadhan feels like yesterday, yet so much has changed, so much has happened since then. Really puts things into perspective. I feel humbled by the lack of control yet pleased with the outcome.

When I started writing a few years back I hoped that my writing would firstly serve as a reminder to myself and then to anyone who can benefit from it. Now I know what I meant! Looking back at last years posts has truly served as a reminder and I’m hoping to take some of my own advice.

 

Blessed Ramadhan!

Living in the moment…

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

I got carried away scrolling down my Twitter timeline while sitting at the dinner table last night, I’m sure there was something meaningful I was looking for to share with my wife and sister but I got distracted and made my way through the mostly useless tweets I missed through the day. My wife was quick to remind me that it was dinner time and I immediately put my phone away. When I think about it now, not only is it sad but it was extremely rude. I don’t think we can use technology and social media to justify breaking traditional social protocols.

Facebook and Twitter connect us with family and friends around the world which is amazing but can we really justify a connection through social media at the expense of those sitting right next to us?

I’m a big fan of Facebook and Twitter so I’m not going to advocate against the use of technology and social media but I do think that it’s worth reflecting on how much time we spend using these mediums of socialising while neglecting our immediate social environment.

Next time you’re tweeting about what you ate for dinner or uploading dinner pics to facebook or drawing something for someone across the world to guess… think about the people sitting with you at the dinner table… connect with them first and live in the moment you’re in.

Friday morning…

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

As I took out the trash this morning I was reminded of a little story … The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was seen by one of his companions while taking out the trash.  His companion was alarmed and said to the Prophet: Oh Messenger of God, you are taking out the trash!  The Prophet replied: who should I have take out the trash, the mother of the believers?

Following the Sunnah is really not that difficult… Blessed Jumuah!

Ramadhan Reflections: The first few days…

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

With Eid celebrations well under way and the month of Shawwal now upon us, each day that passes by takes with it a small part of the legacy of Ramadhan. As time separates us from the Blessed month, we are presented with another opportunity to test our faith and enhance our spirituality. Many of us experienced a spiritual high during Ramadhan, no matter how much or how little we were able to achieve, we all experienced a sense of peace and spiritual enlightenment. No words can describe the feeling of satisfaction and contentment that Ramadhan brings with it.

During the past few weeks we were able to sacrifice food & drink all day, we controlled our desires and were still able to stand in prayer at night. We woke up earlier, slept later, at times didn’t sleep at all but we did it and I know most of us enjoyed it. It’s important to look back and reflect on what we were able to achieve during Ramadhan, if we could do it during Ramadhan, the only thing stopping us from continuing outside of Ramadhan is a lack of motivation.

Reflect on Ramadhan and realise your potential, the mercy and blessings that descended during this month may have boosted our faith but the real change came from within ourselves. We all made an effort, we all experienced the change and Insha Allah we will all be rewarded.

The month may have ended but our efforts and achievements shouldn’t end with it. Waking up for Fajr may not be as easy any more, and I’m speaking from experience here, it’s all good to do it for 30 days but the true test comes the day after Eid, when we’re all recovering from the celebrations and feasting. I believe it’s our actions during the first few days after Ramadhan that determine whether we are able to maintain our spirituality and carry on the legacy of Ramadhan throughout the year.

After a month of hard work and dedication, we need a little break to adjust our routine, perhaps make up for some lost sleep and enjoy the festivities of Eid. As we celebrate our achievements and return to our normal routine, remember the month of Ramadhan, remember what we achieved, remember the effort we made and remember the peace and contentment we experienced.

Our efforts shouldn’t end with the sighting (or calculation of the birth) of the new crescent. Maintaining our spirituality during the first few days after Ramadhan will allow us to benefit from Ramadhan throughout the year. May Allah accept our efforts, allow us to maintain our faith through the year and may we witness many more Blessed months Insha Allah.

…and remember… “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.”

Blessed Eid…

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

As we reach the end of Ramadhan, I pray that our efforts and sacrifice is accepted. The month of Ramadhan inspires many each year, I sincerely hope we can all learn from our experiences over the last month and implement a change to our lifestyles throughout the year. Ramadhan may only last 30 days, but there’s no reason for our spirituality to end with the new crescent. Reflect on some of your achievements over the last few weeks, no doubt we may have made a few mistakes but Insha Allah our shortcomings will be overlooked. Don’t forget Ramadhan, don’t forget the mercy and blessings we all experienced and most of all, do not forget Allah. Let us all try to maintain the level of faith we attained in Ramadhan and may we all witness many more Blessed months Insha Allah.

Eid Mubarak!