Ramadan with Zaky & Friends…

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

The latest release from One4Kids and a welcomed addition to our collection of Zaky DVDs is Zaky’s Ramadan. We’ve been listening to the Nasheeds for a few months and added the dvd to our pre-Ramadan stock-up for the kids.

As a big fan of the Zaky franchise myself, I was just as excited to check out the new release with the kids this Ramadan. So after mum had a rough night with kids last night, this morning was the perfect opportunity to take care of the kids, watch a movie and hopefully score some brownie points too.

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Zaky’s Ramadan is a good way to get kids excited about Ramadan and provides a simple, kid-friendly explanation of all things Ramadan. It’s a good introduction to the concept of Fasting, Suhoor, Iftar and the virtue of the month itself.

The Ramadan episodes cover a range of topics including:

  • Ramadan Moon Sighting
  • Doing Good Deeds
  • Suhoor & Tahajjud
  • Being Dutiful & Kind to our Parents
  • Breaking our Fast
  • Breaking our Fast
  • Cleanliness is One Half of our Faith
  • Zaky’s Advice for Ramadan
  • Helping & Feeding the Needy & Poor
  • Health & Nutrition

Zaky’s advice for Ramadan is very practical and covers more than simply when you can and can’t eat. By focussing on the concept of Good Deeds including kindness to parents, cleanliness, charity and well-being, it provides a more holistic approach to Ramadan which I think is something we need to encourage through kids education.

Too many Muslims make Ramadan about Food and Fasting only which is a great injustice to this Blessed month and gift from Allah. By facilitating a more reformist approach, we can encourage our kids to use Ramadan as an opportunity to form good habits, become better Muslims and ultimately achieve the real goal of Ramadan… the awareness and consciousness of Allah that can guide you through the rest of the year. In Sha Allah.

A $20 investment that will entertain the kids for hours and In Sha Allah encourage good habits and a love for Ramadan. Two thumbs up from me!

The DVD is available online at One4Kids as well as a number of other websites. Click here for a preview of Zaky’s Ramadan and check out my post on Zaky & Friends from last Ramadan.

Tip: Don’t just buy these movies for the kids, watch it with them, answer their questions and let Islamic knowledge be a positive experience for them. You might even learn something yourself.

I hope many more kids can benefit from these movies In Sha Allah!

Assalaamu Alaikum!

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Ramadan Prep… Clear up the clutter for 2015

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

Ramadan 2015 is fast approaching and with a only a few weeks to go, it’s time to re-visit a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies of old. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadan.

Here are a few tips I’ve used over the years to prepare for the blessed month:

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Take advantage of fasting during the month of Sha’ban
  • Recite Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadan
  • Get a good sleep cycle going so you can handle waking up for Suhoor
  • Cut down on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc
  • Talk to the kids and prepare them for the change in routine ahead – Get them excited too!
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Movies/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadan 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. My wife’s in charge of this department and I’m sure she’ll be sharing some of her Ramadan recipes on Modest Munchies.
  • 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 Ramadan, take this opportunity to get back into the 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.

For the sisters, if you need support or motivation to help with any fasts you may need to make up, check out the Making Up Missed Fasts post by Modest Munchies. Brothers, if you’re not accustomed to fasting outside of Ramadan, give it a go and you’ll have a greater appreciation for the women in your lives who have to make up these fasts.

Ramadan with 2 kids driving us crazy should be fun and interesting this year In Sha Allah. Circumstances may change but the yearning for Allah’s mercy remains and continues to grow. This is also of the blessings of Ramadan.

May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadan In Sha Allah.

Ramadan with my wife and kids… (Especially for my wife)

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

As much as we plan for Ramadan and despite the immense Barakah and Blessing in the month itself, our hectic lives and complicated lifestyles always make Ramadan a busy time in the household. With a toddler and a new born, this Ramadan was always going to be a challenge but as I reflect on the month passed, I think we did alright. This post is dedicated to the person who worked day and night to ensure the Ramadan Family Machine was well oiled and maintained.

From the pre Ramadan planning, meal planning and food preparations right up to the kids Ramadan activities, dealing with my hectic routine and taking care of the Eid Gifts… when you really think about it, Ramadan also serves as a reminder of the blessings we have throughout the year that we take for granted… the wives, the mothers, the facilitators of Ramadan.

This year, my wife (and fellow blogger) had the task of not only managing the entire household but also to create the ideal Ramadan environment for our children and in particular, our 3 & a half year old son. It required a valiant effort from the both of us but looking back right now, I believe it was well worth it and definitely well accomplished.

She cooked our food, made me oats for Suhoor every day, cared for the kids, I even saw her feeding both kids at the same time while I had my afternoon nap after work one day. ‘Super-Mum’ comes to mind when I think about it in retrospect. Cooking and cleaning aside, its the ‘Kids Ramadan’ that really impressed me, both as a husband and a father.

Even before Ramadan began, we had a Ramadan Advent Calendar on the wall detailing our ‘Ramadan Activities’ for each day. These included arts & craft, reciting Quran, learning Surah’s and even making binoculars for our Moon-sighting adventures. The activities may seem simple but the impact they had on our son was truly amazing.

The advent calendar gave him something to look forward to each day and the awareness of Ramadan encouraged him to help out around the house. The Ramadan consciousness instilled in him through these activities eventually gave him the courage to attempt fasting and also accompany me to Taraweeh at the Musjid.

I can not describe the joy of having a toddler insist on going to the mosque for Iftar and Taraweeh, I believe the Ramadan environment facilitated by my wife’s ingenious ideas played a big role in achieving this and for that I am grateful.

Despite not watching any tv for the entire month (Zaky Videos were the exception), the kids we entertained through-out the day and there was never a dull moment in the house, Alhamdulillah.

After reflecting  on the past month with my wife and kids, I am reminded of one of the teachings of Islam and this has given me a greater appreciation for the wisdom behind this teaching…

 The first right of the child over the father is to choose a righteous wife in order to be a righteous mother.

May Allah reward her and increase her! I pray that this Ramadan has been a fruitful month for everyone and that Allah shower his Mercy and Blessings on the Wives, Mothers and caretakers of this Ummah In Sha Allah.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, my blog is married to the the blog, Modest Munchies so check out some of my wife’s savvy tips and ideas for the kitchen and the family there.

Eid Mubarak!

Date thy neighbour…

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

My wife and I have been planning to share some Sunnah inspired treats with the neighbours since we moved into our new neighbourhood a few months ago. Between unpacking and having a baby, we didn’t get down to doing it. Perhaps it was better to wait…

Caring for, sharing with and doing good unto neighbours is a big part of our tradition and also a great social obligation in Islam. There could be no better an opportunity to revive this Sunnah than the month of Ramadan… the month of sharing.

Some of the benefits of Dating your neighbours:

  • Most importantly it is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a form of charity – “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498
  • Emphasises the significance of both sharing and neighbourliness in Islam
  • Encourages kids to be generous and teaches good etiquette towards neighbours
  • Increased awareness of Islam and Ramadan in particular
  • It is a great form of Da’wah and propagation of our beautiful faith
  • A good ice-breaker for new neighbours or people new to your area
  • It can be a good Ramadan Activity if you get the kids involved
  • Facilitates better relations with neighbours

A simple act that could have lasting effects, not to mention the satisfaction and fulfilment from doing something good for the sake of Allah.

Sharing with Muslim neighbours is as easy as delivering a plate of goodies but with non-Muslim neighbours it’s important to share as much information as possible. Here is the note we sent out with our treats:

“Ramadan is a special month of the year for over 1.8 Billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, contemplation, discipline and devotion to God. As we fast and sacrifice food and drink during the daylight hours, we are reminded of those who are less fortunate than us and we are encouraged to be charitable. Ramadan is a month of giving and sharing… Dates are a big part of Ramadan and the Islamic tradition, we’d like to share this delicious and nutritious fruit with you today”.

My wife put together these Cream Cheese filled Date treats and a Free Printable Template which is available here. For more Ramadan treats, kids activities and your very own Ramadan Meal planner, check out Modest Munchies.

May the Blessings of Ramadan be with you.

Ramadan Prep… Clearing up the clutter once again!

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

Ramadan 2014 is fast approaching and with only a few weeks to go, it’s time to re-visit a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadan.

  • Make up previous year’s missed fasts / Pay Fidyah, etc. depending on your circumstances
  • Take advantage of fasting during the month of Sha’ban
  • Recite Quran – if possible, complete your current recitation and begin a new one in the month of Ramadan
  • 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 – something I need to work on this In Sha Allah.
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/Gaming, etc
  • Plan your meals early – Ramadan 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. My wife’s in charge of this department and I’m sure she’ll be sharing some of her Ramadan recipes on ModestMunchies.com
  • 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 Ramadan, take this opportunity to get back into the 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 observed how Ramadan preparation changes with our circumstances. Ramadan as a child with my family, then as a teenager, as a husband with my wife, as a new father, last year with a toddler, this year with my 4 month old daughter…Alhamdulillah.

Circumstances often change but the yearning for Allah’s mercy remains and continues to grow. This is also from the blessings of Ramadan.

May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadan In Sha Allah.

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.