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!

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).

 

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.

…4 years married!

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

What a way to start the year… my son turned 2 on the 1st of January and the 2nd was our 4th wedding anniversary. I guess the fact that we have a 2-year-old son forces us to believe that we’ve been married for more than 2 years but it definitely doesn’t feel that way. It really feels like it was just the other day. So much has happened, so much has changed in these 4 years but there’s 1 thing that hasn’t… our marriage. Four year’s later and despite occasionally taking things for granted and being a bit cranky, I still feel like I did then. Grey hairs have sprouted and body weight has fluctuated but inside, I still feel for my wife what I felt that day 4 years ago.

With each day comes greater challenges and bigger responsibilities but the realisation that our marriage stands so strong 4 years on is soothing and certainly reassuring. Marriage is so easily taken for granted and it’s so easy to neglect the person we wake up beside each morning, I’m thankful for these reminders that often wake you up to the many blessings you have around you.

I’d like to use this milestone to change a few old habits and make sure that my wife and our marriage are both given as much attention as they should and a little bit more. Love, affection and romance are not reserved for newly weds or special occasions and should be celebrated everyday. If I fail or come short for some reason, I hope this post will remind me and keep me on track.

The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said: “The believer with the most complete faith is the one with the best character, and the best of them are those who treat their wives the best.”

… Insha Allah!

2012 closing…

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

 

Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for seeing the end of another year. Every day is a blessing from Allah whether you live by the Lunar or Gregorian Calendar or whether you ‘celebrate’ New Years or not.

After a few hectic weeks, we took a few days off to spend some family time together and celebrate our son’s 2nd birthday as well as our 4th wedding anniversary. These dates or milestones really put things into perspective and are sometimes good reminders about the things we take for granted. I could not believe my son was already 2 and the next day I couldn’t fathom being married for such a long time. The change in routine was good and gave me an opportunity to reflect on 2 of the most important people in my life. Some may call it celebration but I like to think of it as an appreciation for my son who just turned 2 and my wife who’s been with me for the last 4 years. I probably feel the same way every year but I can not believe how fast 2012 went by.

2012 was a big year, lots happened, so much changed and with the change came a few big challenges. My sister got married and moved to America, I quit my job in public practise, began working as a virtual business consultant and finally kicked-ff my online supplement business. Circumstances changed drastically with my dad’s illness and I guess things haven’t quite gotten back to normal since then. I haven’t yet had the strength to write about some of the things I learnt and felt during this challenging time but perhaps I might, Insha Allah.

With so much uncertainty and so much going on at home, time just flew by I’m glad I was able to stop and take a break for a few days to appreciate the blessings in my life. There are many things I wish I had done, so much that was done and as always a few regrets. My aim is to do the things I wish I had done, appreciate the things I did accomplish and work on reducing the regrets Insha Allah.

2012 closes, our holiday was the perfect transition into the new year and now… 2013! Alhamdulillah!

 

 

 

My little boy is 2…

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

My little boy turns 2 at midnight tonight. It’s been an amazing 2 years but I can’t believe he’s grown so fast. I can still remember the day he was born and as I flick through the photos I have on my phone, I can’t fathom how time has passed and how much he’s grown. I remember the emotion I felt the day he was born and every so often he would do something that would reignite those emotions within me. Reflecting on the last 2 years has given me those jitters again tonight and I am so proud of him. I’m so grateful to Allah for blessing us with such a bundle of joy and allowing him to grow and develop the way he has over the last 2 years.

Kids often get taken for granted and we sometimes fail to acknowledge what a blessing they are. Someone once told me that I should work hard while my kid is young so I can spend time with him when he’s older and more understanding, after spending the last 9 months at home including 6 weeks of babysitting while the wife was studying, I disagree. The time you get with your kids is priceless whether they can understand it or not, even they’re too young to remember it, you always will and I am so grateful that I could spend so much time with him and could watch him grow and develop every day.

As he gets older, our responsibilities grow too and I pray that we always do what’s best for him. He has definitely been the coolness of my eyes and tonight I pray that he always is Insha Allah.

Perhaps one day when you’re older and you read your old man’s blog on some futuristic tech gadget… Know that I love you!

Allah, grant my little boy good health and a long, prosperous life, allows us to take care of him while he’s young and let him take care of us when we’re old!

Ameen!