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.
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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).

 

Islamic College Fete…

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

I attended the annual Fete at the Islamic College of Brisbane this weekend for my weekend dose of Halal-ness and inspiration. Due to an ever-growing Muslim population virtually everywhere in the world, our functions and gatherings always come with traffic congestions, parking issues and crowd control problems which we’ve grown accustomed to. Despite the massive turnout yesterday, I was impressed at the orderly manner in which we, as a community conducted ourselves. While I can’t comment on the success of the fund-raising initiative, from a social perspective, it was a success.

Despite the anti-Muslim media frenzy over the paste decade, the broader community have learnt the secrets of our gatherings and functions… The FOOD! It’s always a pleasure to see Muslims and Non-muslims coming together to celebrate and enjoy the many diversities our cultures have to offer. A true sense of community, family and brotherhood was on display which is a real display of what we, as Muslim’s mean when we claim that Islam means peace.

Nothing is more Peaceful than a group of Muslims from all over the world, living in a Western Land, coming together to raise funds for the growth of an Islamic School. The organisation of the event has been improving each year, the school itself has grown at an amazing rate over the last 5 years which is a positive sign for the Muslim community in this area. Support came from the muslim community, non-Muslim community as well as local government representatives and officials who understand the major role the Muslim community plays in the area.

There is distinct benefit in promoting and facilitating a single, united Ummah or community, particularly when residing as minorities in Western countries. The unity, discipline and strength displayed when the community stands and works together is precisely what we need amidst the global onslaught on our Religion.

Events that are hosted, supported or held at Islamic institutions have a special significance in promoting a true impression of both Islam and Muslims in the context of social integration. When you have Muslims from a range of ethnicities including so many reverts, Islam becomes more than just a brown religion. When people of different races, cultures and ethnicities unite for the sake of faith, it makes it easier for the broader community to understand and accept that Islam is not a brown religion, not an Arab religion but a world religion. This display of unity can dispel arguments that question our ability to work together and integrate with the rest of society.

The social, yet Islamic environment also displays the simplicity of our faith and the ease with which our religious obligations can be met alongside our social and personal lives. It doesn’t take much for a gathering to be Islamic, it usually starts with a prayer or recitation, music is kept to minimum if any, entertainment is usually provided by kids in the form of song or art and when the time of prayer arrives, Muslims answer it by getting together in a designated place and praying together which usually takes no more than 5 minutes. Thereafter, the eating, drinking and socialising resumes. As Muslims, this is something we take for granted but for a non-Muslim observer, this informal display of our religion can make a massive difference to their views and perspective on what is portrayed to be a strict and heavily regulated set of restrictions.

I believe our functions should remain Islamic at the core as a point of difference rather than simply being events organised by Muslims. The Fete was truly Islamic and provided a platform for social interaction, religious integrations and most of all… the best Da’wah or propagation of Islam which is through action and behaviour rather than simply words.

The Islamic College of Brisbane is very special to me and I hope one day, to send my kids there too. I pray that Allah grant them success and protect their reputation. As Muslims, it is OUR responsibility to support OUR institutions.

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.

 

New Routine… Part 2

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

Almost 4 weeks into the second instalment of my wife’s practical experience program and 2 weeks left of my househusband duties. Despite my reluctance the first time around, it’s become second nature now with 10 weeks under my belt. To be honest, I am going to miss it when it’s over.

After successfully implementing a toddler friendly work routine I was able to work more productively and even found time to earn some brownie points by cooking dinner and taking care of the groceries. I can’t remember the last time I worked so efficiently and productively, I really hope I can maintain it going forward.

When you work smart and focus hard, you can achieve certain efficiencies but that’s not the end goal, the goal is to work smart enough to get what you need done and allow yourself time to unwind and do ‘other’ things. When the day’s work is done and the day is not over, that’s when you start having fun.

My office has been transformed into an awesome little playground, there are toy cars parked everywhere, a fuel station under my desk and car stickers on my filing cabinets… it’s awesome. We watched movies, played games, went shopping, cooked lunch and had some very interesting conversations. Became quite the pro at carting the kid everywhere I went, even managed my meetings and met all deadlines.

The best of my accomplishments though, was strengthening my spirituality and reviving old good habits. The last 4 weeks have allowed me to maximise my time and take advantage of so many things I’ve neglected and have been striving to achieve since my job description changed last year. Frequenting the mosque, setting aside time everyday to recite Quran, studying the meaning of the Quran and countless hours listening to inspirational speakers from across the globe has helped me find contentment in my productivity and a sense of peace.

My routine will change again soon Insha Allah but I’m hoping to continue on this path. If I was able to achieve so much with my current schedule, I must do even better with wife’s help during the day.

Insha Allah (God Willing)…

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!