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.

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10 tips to get your child to pray with you… In Sha Allah!

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

As I watched my almost 4 year old son pray at Jumuah today, I found myself reminiscing over the memories of him lying helpless on the prayer mat as I prayed beside him when he was only a few weeks old. I can’t believe it was the same kid standing beside me today.

Though the requirement to perform Salaah is only incumbent on kids at a later stage, it makes me proud to see him show such enthusiasm and respect for what is such an integral part of our faith and indeed our lives.

It might be easier to put off Salaah until kids are older, but the best habits are formed early in their childhood development, why not make Salaah one of them.

After 4 years of hands-on experience and 1 amazing wife at my side, this is what I have learnt. My 10 tips to getting your kids to pray with you…

  1. Pray with them, make it a habit of praying in front of them when ever possible – I started praying with my son beside me when he was a month old.
  2. Don’t make Salaah a chore – Allow them to witness the joy and peace you experience through Salaah.
  3. Play with them before/after you pray – let the prayer room/area/rug be a place of comfort for them too.
  4. Don’t be quick to pack up the prayer mat -leave it out for the kids to explore.
  5. Pray together, pray as a family – Let Salaah also becomes an activity the whole family can participate in and benefit from.
  6. Answer their questions, talk about Salaah and feed their curiosity – they’ll be emulating your actions in no time.
  7. Let them know when it’s time to pray – make room for them beside you in case they decide to join in.
  8. Entice them with a little kids prayer mat – make it fun and interesting.
  9. Visit the mosque with them – this can sometimes be tricky but I’ll leave it for another post In Sha Allah.
  10. Lots and lots of praise – acknowledge and praise their efforts! I recall my wife constantly questioning me about whether or not I praised our son when he prayed with me. And you can’t argue with wifey wisdom!

It’s not rocket science, but we often take these things for granted. It’s a matter of priorities and lots of patience. I need to test this strategy on our daughter now!

I pray that our children are the coolness of our eyes In Sha Allah.

Exploring the Quran… There’s an app for that!

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

Along my path towards ‘Appreciating the meanings of the Quran’, I found a Web-based app (at the time) called Quran Explorer

I used it a few times when researching the translation of some verses for speeches in the past so when I found it on the App store a few months a go, I knew it would be a handy app to have on my iPad.

As much as I enjoy reading from my hard copy of the English Translation of the Quran, the convenience of an App meant that I would never be without a copy of the Quran and it’s translation… what more could I ask for?

The Quran Explorer iPad App has been very handy and has greatly aided in my exploration of the Quran and it’s meanings. The App has a very user-friendly interface and includes a search function, audio recitation and commentary on each verse. 

Summary of features:

  • Quran (Arabic) Recitation by various reciters
  • Translation in multiple languages and by various translators
  • Audio Translation by verse
  • Tafseer or English Commentary 
  • Unlimited number of bookmarks – very handy for research
  • Auto Scroll Capabilities
  • Audio options include speed of recitation, interval time and repeat for memorization 
  • Bookmark Synchronisation through iCloud
  • Sharing options include Tweet/Email or Saving as image
  • Available on iPad, iPhone and Web App

The only feature missing is a note-taking function which would probably make it the ultimate Quran App for me. The Free version has some restrictions on the number of languages, reciters and a few other features but is fully functional. The full version costs $9.99 which may seem high but, in my opinion is worth every cent.

Having an App like this at the touch of a button allows me to study and explore the meanings of the Quran easily and more frequently than ever before. I believe it is a great tool to facilitate a better understanding of the Quran in general as well as in your Salaah. Understanding what you recite can be the difference between a ritual prayer and a prayer of serenity, humility and devotion… In Sha Allah. 

I pray that we are able to benefit from programs like this and that Allah grant Barakah and success in these initiatives. Technology is major part of our lives, why not use it to better our after-lives.

(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect. (Quran 38:29)

Translated Reflections… Patience & Restraint.

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

After falling asleep reading my Twitter feed which was filled with Anti Muslim sentiment in light of recent events around the country, I was pleased to wake up to these verses…

‘And do you be patient, for your patience is but from God; nor grieve you over them: and distress not yourself because of their plots. For God is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good’. – Quran 16:127-128.

Recite Quran, understand your recitation and embrace the divine guidance!

May Allah grant us patience during these testing times.

Beyond recitation…

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

My search for knowledge over the years has emphasised the lack of appreciation many Muslims have for the Quran, particularly non Arabic speaking Muslims like myself. While I do believe the true beauty of the Quran lies in its original form, as people of Ihsan or perfection, we have a duty to look beyond the sheer majesty of the revelation.

So many of us have spent years learning, reciting and memorising the Quran without giving much thought to the message within. Despite the years I spent myself learning, reading, reciting and memorising the verses of the Quran, I found myself very detached from the meaning and translation of the text.

The recitation of the Quran is a major part of my life and my daily routine yet the idea of reading the translation of the very verses I enjoyed reciting was cumbersome. As my awareness of this grew, I searched for a copy of an English Quran and began reading from it. It may not flow as easily or sound as melodious but the Divine nature of the revelation is definitely not lost in translation.

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As a result of this new found appreciation for the Quran, it’s been years since I was able to read a novel or even consider any non-spiritual reading. I’ve found it to be very inspirational and indeed fulfilling.

Though the verses we read remain the same, our understanding of these verses can drastically change depending on circumstances, emotions and even social and political factors. This is when you truly understand the wisdom in the saying…

“If you want to talk to Allah, then pray Salaah. If you want Allah to talk to you, then read the Quran”

5 Tips to develop Khushoo in Salaah…

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

After attending  a course titled ‘Prayer makes Perfect’ in Brisbane this weekend, I’ve spent some time reflecting on the importance of Salaah and the need for perfection in our Prayer. The concept of Khushoo is one we often hear about in the context of Salaah and is something I have pondered over for a long time.

The best way to describe Khushoo is a state of serenity, humility and devotion. In Salaah this would mean a Prayer performed with true devotion and without any distraction with the aim of achieving a sense of calmness and tranquility. Easier said than done… here’s 5 tips that have helped me develop Khushoo in Salaah:

  1. Sit down before beginning your prayer – Clear your head and make your intention
  2. Understand what you are reciting – Familiarise yourself with the translation of the verses you commonly recite in Salaah. Avoid ritualistic recitation.
  3. Remove any distractions – Turn off the tv, leave your mobile phone a safe distance from your place of prayer, find a quiet place to pray.
  4. Remain seated after completing your Salaah, even for a few seconds to make Dhikr/Dua
  5. Make Dua for Khushoo in your Salaah – In His hand is your heart, why not ask Him to grant you Khushoo in Salaah.

Sometime the difference between Praying and Praying with Khushoo is simply a state of mind. Praying 5 times a day can easily become a ritual, perhaps even a chore, the challenge is maintaining the correct awareness and reminding ourselves of our purpose in this world.

May Allah grant us Khushoo in Salaah and in our lives.

 

“Successful indeed are the believers, those who offer their Salaah (prayers) with solemnity and full submissiveness.” [Quran, Al-Mu’minoon 23:1-2]

A perpetual Eid gift…

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

A few months back I met an Arab shop owner who after asking me what my son’s name and age was, questioned whether he could recite Surah Al-Fatiha. I responded in the negative and asked that he make dua for him. I was concerned because he first asked about his age which implied that he expected a 3-year-old to have memorized the Surah already.
It got me thinking about the best way to introduce this to my son who’s only memorisation of Arabic thus far was basic Adhkar and the dua before going to bed. Surah Al-Fatiha seemed like a challenge in comparison.
I remembered how easy it was as a child, to memories the surah’s that were often repeated during Salaah so I decided to try the repetition theory. I started reciting aloud when he was in the car with me and then began reciting Al-Fatiha before reciting Quran each night when I was on bedtime duties.
I did some googling too but found most blogs and articles to be very generic and aimed at older kids. I found apps as well but I came across something on Facebook which inspired me to do it the old-fashioned way instead.
“Teach your children Surah Al-Fatiha before anyone else does. It be a part of their prayers for the rest of their lives and you will be rewarded In Sha Allah’ (via islamicrays)
One night, before doing our nightly Adhkar and bedtime story, I sat him on my lap and read from the Mus’haf using his finger to point down the page. After doing this for a few nights, he began reciting with me and we added this to our nightly routine, Alhamdulillah.
My wife continued this routine during Ramadan while I was at Taraweeh and by the Grace of Allah, while we prayed at the Musjid a few nights ago, I heard him recite the entire Surah from memory. SubhanAllah, I can not begin to describe the feeling… so I won’t.
I am proud to accept this as our Eid Gift from him this Ramadan, I pray that Allah guide him and allow us the reward from every single recitation In Sha Allah.
We’ve included Surah Ikhlas to our routine and during the last few nights of Ramadan my amazing wife also added Surah Al-Asr. I’m looking forward to revising these with him and also coming up with a few strategies that might aid other parents to do the same In Sha Allah.
Eid Mubarak!