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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Mid-day reflections…

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

There’s something very fulfilling about praying Dhur at the Mosque, something I missed when I worked in an office and something I took for granted when I started working from home. Today was a wet, blue day and the congregation was small, I’ve found that rainy days and a the silence of the mosque are quite soothing and thought provoking. 

I thought about how satisfying it feels when you simply drop anything and everything you’re doing to answer the call to prayer… an indescribable feeling that unfortunately  the modern lifestyle often deprives us off.  It’s a sad reality but for most of us, it’s something we can overcome with a slight change in mindset. 

When prayer is a chore or something we have to do at a certain time and certain place, it’ll always feel like a chore, something we do without too much thought or reflection with a goal of simply doing it. I’ve had Salaah on my chore list at times, though I’m grateful for the awareness and consciousness of prayer embedded in my upbringing, the attitude towards it makes a huge difference and can be the difference between ritual and spiritual. 

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Let prayer be a break from work or routine, not because you have to do it, but because it makes for a good break. The mistake we make is that we work, briefly stop to pray so we get it done and then take the break… which often involves some sort of mainstream leisure activity like watching tv or going for coffee. 

A small change in mindset can make all the difference. Work hard, have fun, set priorities, develop efficiencies but let cleaning, banking, changing light bulbs and gardening be chores… Salaah is the break you need from a busy schedule and a hectic lifestyle. 

For me personally, it means the difference between a 5 minute break in my office to pray and a 20 minute break to pray at the mosque, in congregation with a change in environment, some fresh air and an opportunity for reflection. 

The reward is greater, the break is better and what you may lose in time, you make up for in contentment, piece of mind and a greater sense of purpose. 

Start with one, Dhur is a perfect mid-day break to try out… then move on. Take a break 5 times a day and you’ll work better, feel better and live better. 

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.

Intermittent Fasting…

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

In 2012, Intermittent Fasting became mainstream and sparked substantial debate through-out the diet and fitness world. I first heard about it on Facebook and recall some chatter at the gym too but I didn’t give it too much thought. It sounded very boring and slow but I had heard only good things about it so when I decided to go on a shredding diet myself, Intermittent Fasting sounded like a good idea. To the Google…

What I found was more than a diet or fitness program… it was a new lifestyle. Something that promised a healthier diet, better nutrition, faster weight-loss, increased energy, decreased health risks and promote health & longevity. It sounded like another fad but before dismissing it I found a simple explanation about the foundation of Intermittent Fasting which turned my health and fitness goals into something much deeper… spiritual enlightenment.

You know that feeling when you attend an inspiring talk by an internationally renowned scholar who’s explanations and descriptions of religion, faith and spirituality make you tremble with inspiration… when you realise that you have something so amazing, so profound and you just needed someone to say it to you and remind you 1 more time… That’s how I felt, absolutely gob-smackingly enlightened.

In a new diet book titled, The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting, Dr. Michael Mosley suggests that the best way to lose weight is to eat normally for 5 days a week, and fast for 2…

This is not new science, I’ve been hearing about this since I was a kid, I’ve done it myself in the past and I know so many people who’ve been doing it for years but I’m so glad I came across this, who would’ve thought that Googling a new diet program would lead me back to the Sunnah.

SubhanAllah is all I can say right now. Perhaps I will research more and look into the program further, there are a few different takes on it but as a Muslim, the principles are sound and if I’m going to implement a new diet regime, let it be from the Sunnah Insha Allah.

Anyone out there curious about Intermittent Fasting, remember… ‘A’isha (RA) said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to take care to fast on Mondays and Thursdays.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Science is just a tool, revive a Sunnah for true enlightenment.

 

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Something’s are just not worth missing…

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

I realized today how neglectful I’ve been of some of the little things that have been taking place around me. The past few months have been absolutely hectic and it hasn’t yet subsided but when I reflect on the choices I made and the priorities I set, it might have been easier if I stopped from time to time just to take everything in.

I used to write about efficiency and time management as a Muslim but sometimes it’s easier to write about it than it is to practise it and I seem to have forgotten my own principles. When faced with a new challenge and a shift in responsibilities, I almost instinctively kicked into overdrive focussing on what I had to get done each day and what deadlines had to be met. Every task completed saw a few more added to my list and the cycle continued, I found myself staying up some nights, waking up early, spending hours in the office and at times I even forgot why I was doing certain things. I turned into a robot!

I’m grateful that I can reflect on this after only a few weeks but I’m saddened at the thought of what I may or may not have missed while I was engrossed in myself. Sometimes you just have to stop and … well, stop! Cause something’s are just not worth missing!

I hope I can learn from my own mistakes Insha Allah, seriously need to re-visit some of my old posts for inspiration!

Reflection: Less racing, more winning!

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

I realized today that I sometimes get carried away with certain obsessions at the expense of things more rewarding and fulfilling in life. It must be a human thing because it feels natural and you often notice it in other people. I guess the wisdom lies in the realization of these obsessions and the ability to recognize and alter the way you do things.

For the past few months I’ve been obsessed with my fitness and as a result, I now hold 2 concurrent gym memberships. I’m sure I’ll make good use of them but in hindsight, it may not have been the brightest idea. Reflecting on my actions I’ve realized that by obsessing over it, my expectations where higher and it became more difficult to achieve what I was set out to achieve.

That’s not what I regret though, what I regret are the things I missed out on.

As my passion for the obsession fizzled, I stopped chasing it so much and have found my priorities re-aligned with the more important things in life. As soon as my focus shifted, my priorities changed, I felt more fulfilled and despite not frequenting the gym as often… I’m fitter than ever … And I have more time for my family!

Alhamdulillah!