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!

Ramadan with my wife and kids… (Especially for my wife)

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

As much as we plan for Ramadan and despite the immense Barakah and Blessing in the month itself, our hectic lives and complicated lifestyles always make Ramadan a busy time in the household. With a toddler and a new born, this Ramadan was always going to be a challenge but as I reflect on the month passed, I think we did alright. This post is dedicated to the person who worked day and night to ensure the Ramadan Family Machine was well oiled and maintained.

From the pre Ramadan planning, meal planning and food preparations right up to the kids Ramadan activities, dealing with my hectic routine and taking care of the Eid Gifts… when you really think about it, Ramadan also serves as a reminder of the blessings we have throughout the year that we take for granted… the wives, the mothers, the facilitators of Ramadan.

This year, my wife (and fellow blogger) had the task of not only managing the entire household but also to create the ideal Ramadan environment for our children and in particular, our 3 & a half year old son. It required a valiant effort from the both of us but looking back right now, I believe it was well worth it and definitely well accomplished.

She cooked our food, made me oats for Suhoor every day, cared for the kids, I even saw her feeding both kids at the same time while I had my afternoon nap after work one day. ‘Super-Mum’ comes to mind when I think about it in retrospect. Cooking and cleaning aside, its the ‘Kids Ramadan’ that really impressed me, both as a husband and a father.

Even before Ramadan began, we had a Ramadan Advent Calendar on the wall detailing our ‘Ramadan Activities’ for each day. These included arts & craft, reciting Quran, learning Surah’s and even making binoculars for our Moon-sighting adventures. The activities may seem simple but the impact they had on our son was truly amazing.

The advent calendar gave him something to look forward to each day and the awareness of Ramadan encouraged him to help out around the house. The Ramadan consciousness instilled in him through these activities eventually gave him the courage to attempt fasting and also accompany me to Taraweeh at the Musjid.

I can not describe the joy of having a toddler insist on going to the mosque for Iftar and Taraweeh, I believe the Ramadan environment facilitated by my wife’s ingenious ideas played a big role in achieving this and for that I am grateful.

Despite not watching any tv for the entire month (Zaky Videos were the exception), the kids we entertained through-out the day and there was never a dull moment in the house, Alhamdulillah.

After reflecting  on the past month with my wife and kids, I am reminded of one of the teachings of Islam and this has given me a greater appreciation for the wisdom behind this teaching…

 The first right of the child over the father is to choose a righteous wife in order to be a righteous mother.

May Allah reward her and increase her! I pray that this Ramadan has been a fruitful month for everyone and that Allah shower his Mercy and Blessings on the Wives, Mothers and caretakers of this Ummah In Sha Allah.

For anyone who doesn’t already know, my blog is married to the the blog, Modest Munchies so check out some of my wife’s savvy tips and ideas for the kitchen and the family there.

Eid Mubarak!

Ramadan Prep… Clearing up the clutter once again!

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

Ramadan 2014 is fast approaching and with only a few weeks to go, it’s time to re-visit a few Lifestyle Optimisation Strategies. Clear up the clutter now so you can take advantage of every opportunity during the month of Ramadan.

  • 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/Sehri
  • Go easy on socialising and social media so you can avoid unnecessary talk/chat, etc – something I need to work on this In Sha Allah.
  • Limit the amount of Entertainment/Television/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 ModestMunchies.com
  • 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.

Over the years I’ve observed how Ramadan preparation changes with our circumstances. Ramadan as a child with my family, then as a teenager, as a husband with my wife, as a new father, last year with a toddler, this year with my 4 month old daughter…Alhamdulillah.

Circumstances often change but the yearning for Allah’s mercy remains and continues to grow. This is also from the blessings of Ramadan.

May Allah extend our lives so we may witness the month of Ramadan In Sha Allah.

The Forenoon Prayer…

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

In my quest for the ideal Ramadan routine I revived an old habit and another Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) … The Dhuha or Forenoon prayer. It’s a simple habit that a formed while working in public practice a few years back. I would get to work early in the morning and by 10 AM I would need a break from the computer screen so I would chill in the boardroom for a while. I decided to make better use of this time to I started praying Salat-Ad-Dhuha every morning which I found very relaxing and rejuvenating.

Ironically, I lost the habit when I started working from home due to a slightly less structured work environment but Alhamdulillah, Ramadan is a great reminder and I have included Salat-Ad-Dhuha in my Ramadan routine.

It’s a simple prayer that takes only a few minutes but is a good break mid-morning and can greatly improve productivity.

“In the morning, charity is due on every joint of the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s Glorification is an act of charity, every utterance of His Praise is an act of charity, every utterance of declaration of His Greatness is an act of charity, and every utterance of declaration of His Power; and enjoining Good is an act of charity, and forbidding evil is an act of charity, and two Rak`ats of Dhuha Prayer which one performs in the Forenoon is equal to all this (in reward).” [Muslim]

Fulfil the charity due on your body and seek the pleasure of Allah through this simple prayer each morning. I usually do it at about 10 AM to coincide with a break from the office but the time of Dhuha extends from 20 mins after sunrise to about 45 mins before noon.

Abu Huraira Radhiallahu ‘anhu said : “My Khalil (friend) (the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) advised me to observe three things and I shall not leave them till I die: 1. “To observe Saum (fasting) three days every (lunar) month; 2.” To offer the Dhuha prayer; 3. To offer Witr prayer before sleeping.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

I hope I can revive many for Sunnah this Ramadan and I pray that I can maintain them every month InshaAllah!

Appreciating the Qailulah…

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

Alhamdulillah, the Ramadan routine is slowly taking shape. As part of my Ramadan preparation this year I decided to put together a Ramadan Routine guideline to help me stay focused, maintain productivity and still benefit from this Blessed month. I’ve always found that there is more Barakah in time during the month of Ramadan but without a few guidelines, it’s easy to slack off and lose concentration on an empty stomach.

One of the things I came across was the idea of a mid-day nap to balance the lack of sleep and refresh the body to be able to perform Taraweeh & Qiyam-al-Layl. I’ve heard countless times that a short rest/nap during the day is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and I know many people who do it regularly. I’ve tried in the past but since my naps always went longer than they should, it messed up my sleep cycle and affected my productivity during the day so I gave it up.

Thought I’d re-visit the idea and incorporate it in to my Ramadan routine so I did some research. We often hear that certain things are a Sunnah of our Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and we are encouraged to emulate his actions. Performing the action is commendable but I believe in order to truly appreciate the wisdom, we must research and learn more about these Sunnah. If you do something because someone told you to, you might do it for a while and then forget about it. If you understand why you should be doing something and you appreciate the wisdom behind it, the action becomes yours and you are more likely to have conviction and sincerity in the things you do.

In Arabic, “Al qaylulah” means “the mid-day rest”, which can be a short nap or rest period. It was a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) as well as his companions.

“We used to offer the Jumuah Salaah with Nabi (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and then take the afternoon nap. (Al-Bukhari) 

Another Hadith mentions that the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم)  said, “Sleeping early in the day betrays ignorance, in the middle of the day is right, and at the end of the day is foolish.”(Fath Al-Bari, p.73).

There are a number of narrations that confirm the practice of the Qaylulah by the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and his companions. Something science has only recently discovered seems to have been mainstream in Islam 1400 years ago. I believe it’s important to learn these practices from our own history so we can appreciate the wisdom of the Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and the early Muslims and ensure that when we implement these actions, we do it for the right reasons, with the correct intentions. Sometimes all that separates a useless act from a righteous one is the intention.

So if you take a nap during the day to rejuvenate, do it as a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم). Science only recently discovered the benefits of this Sunnah so as Muslim’s we can benefit from it physically and by making the right intentions, we can benefit spiritually as well InshaAllah.

Ishaaq ibn ‘Abd-Allah said: “Taking a nap is one of the deeds of good people. It revitalizes the heart and helps one to pray qiyaam al-layl.”

Based on my experience so far, it does exactly that. The Qaylulah has made it practical to stay awake from Suhoor and gain maximum productivity early in the day which allows for more time to spend reading Quran and seeking the pleasure of Allah. It is definitely the highlight of my Ramadan routine which I am hoping to perfect in the next 2 days In Sha Allah.

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!

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.