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!

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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.

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).

 

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!

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!

Ramadhan Reminders: Day 30…

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

Oh Allah, on this day, make my fasts worthy of appreciation and acceptance, according to what pleases You, and pleases the Messenger, the branches being strengthened by the roots, for the sake of our leader, Muhammad (S.A.W), and his purified family. Praise be to ALLAH, the Lord of the worlds.

We are encouraged to make dua in abundance during the month of Ramadhan, these are recommended Dua’s. May Allah accept all our prayers Insha Allah.

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