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!
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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!

Date thy neighbour…

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

My wife and I have been planning to share some Sunnah inspired treats with the neighbours since we moved into our new neighbourhood a few months ago. Between unpacking and having a baby, we didn’t get down to doing it. Perhaps it was better to wait…

Caring for, sharing with and doing good unto neighbours is a big part of our tradition and also a great social obligation in Islam. There could be no better an opportunity to revive this Sunnah than the month of Ramadan… the month of sharing.

Some of the benefits of Dating your neighbours:

  • Most importantly it is a Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a form of charity – “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498
  • Emphasises the significance of both sharing and neighbourliness in Islam
  • Encourages kids to be generous and teaches good etiquette towards neighbours
  • Increased awareness of Islam and Ramadan in particular
  • It is a great form of Da’wah and propagation of our beautiful faith
  • A good ice-breaker for new neighbours or people new to your area
  • It can be a good Ramadan Activity if you get the kids involved
  • Facilitates better relations with neighbours

A simple act that could have lasting effects, not to mention the satisfaction and fulfilment from doing something good for the sake of Allah.

Sharing with Muslim neighbours is as easy as delivering a plate of goodies but with non-Muslim neighbours it’s important to share as much information as possible. Here is the note we sent out with our treats:

“Ramadan is a special month of the year for over 1.8 Billion Muslims throughout the world. It is a time for inner reflection, contemplation, discipline and devotion to God. As we fast and sacrifice food and drink during the daylight hours, we are reminded of those who are less fortunate than us and we are encouraged to be charitable. Ramadan is a month of giving and sharing… Dates are a big part of Ramadan and the Islamic tradition, we’d like to share this delicious and nutritious fruit with you today”.

My wife put together these Cream Cheese filled Date treats and a Free Printable Template which is available here. For more Ramadan treats, kids activities and your very own Ramadan Meal planner, check out Modest Munchies.

May the Blessings of Ramadan be with you.

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!

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).