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 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 Eclipse Prayer… BloodMoon 2014

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

My wife reminded me of tonight’s Lunar Eclipse this afternoon so I decided to dig up an old post about the eclipse prayer or Salaat-ul-Kusoof.

The prayer itself is described in the following Hadith:

Narrated `Aisha: In the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) the sun eclipsed, so he led the people in prayer, and stood up and performed a long Qiyam, then bowed for a long while. He stood up again and performed a long Qiyam but this time the period of standing was shorter than the first. He bowed again for a long time but shorter than the first one, then he prostrated and prolonged the prostration. He did the same in the second rak`a as he did in the first and then finished the prayer; by then the sun (eclipse) had cleared. He delivered the Khutba (sermon) and after praising and glorifying Allah he said, “The sun and the moon are two signs against the signs of Allah; they do not eclipse on the death or life of anyone. So when you see the eclipse, remember Allah and say Takbir, pray and give Sadaqa.” Bukhari, 2.154.

The Hadith explains the actual prayer which I have summarised below but it also clarifies the fact that solar and lunar eclipses have nothing to do with deaths, births or other events so we should avoid superstition and rather fear Allah at these times and invoke prayer. Allah’s signs are found throughout nature and though science may provide a logical explanation of these events, as believers, we acknowledge the Almighty and bear witness to His signs. While the sight itself is quite amazing, why not take advantage of the occasion by following a sunnah of our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h) and performing Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah.

Here is a summary of the prayer, also known as Salaat-ul-Kusoof:

  1. Stand up for prayer as normal
  2. Recite Qur’an as normal
  3. Perform a prolonged Ruku (Bow) with Dua/Supplication
  4. Stand up and recite Qur’an again
  5. Perform a 2nd prolonged Ruku (Bow) but not as long as the first one
  6. Stand up and then proceed into Sujood (prostration) and prolong the Sujood with Dua/Supplication
  7. Sit up straight as you normally would between prostrations
  8. Go back into sujood again and prolong it but not as long as the first prostration
  9. Repeat the above steps for the second Raka’at or second unit of prayer

The moon rises at 5:27 PM over Brisbane tonight with the eclipse ending at 7:33 PM. Observe and pray In Sha Allah.

Never Miss Fajr… there’s an app for that!

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

A few weeks back I found myself struggling to maintain a healthy routine and as a result, had difficulty waking up for Fajr Salaah. It’s usually as easy as simply getting to bed earlier but with a heavy workload, shorter nights and the backlog of office work, it wasn’t that simple. 

I woke up one morning to the sound of the Adhan and realised it was coming from my wife’s phone so I leaned over to turn it down and found myself answering Islamic Trivia instead of just hitting the snooze button. Half asleep, I answered 3 correct answers and the Adhan turned off, I must have been really dazed because I didn’t think twice about answering the questions despite not knowing what I was doing at the time. Nevertheless, the brain stimulation seemed to work and I was able to easily get out of bed to pray Fajr. 

Later that day my wife shared this amazing app with me… ‘Never miss Fajr’. It’s a simple, yet ingenious idea that hasn’t failed me since I started using it a few weeks back. A simple interface allowing you to select your Adhan times based on your location, your preferred reciter and your choice of ‘Trivia’ or ‘Shake’ to turn the Adhan off. 

I found the trivia option works best to get my mind working and is a good recap of some general Islamic knowledge. There’s no snooze button, volume control or any shortcuts once the Adhan begins so the app is geared to get your attention to the screen and keeps your mind at work until you work through the trivia questions. The ‘Shake to Wake’ option is fun but in my experience, less effective. 

The Salaah time calculation is very accurate and locates you right down to your suburb which is very convenient. It also allows you an alarm delay if the set times are different to your local Salaah timetable. 

One tip though, keep your phone volume at about 70% to make sure the Adhan is loud enough to wake you up but not the kids.

The phone is usually a distraction from Salaah, perhaps apps like these can give our mobile devices a more spiritual purpose in our lives. What does your phone do for you? Mine gets me up for Fajr every morning 😉

The App is FREE and available on iOS and Android. More info available here.

 

“He who offers the dawn (Fajr) prayers will come under the Protection of Allah. – Muslim 

Hajj at home with my wife & kid!

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

It usually starts with Hajj Package posters outside the mosque, then a few Hajj preparation seminars and finally the meeting and greeting as the chosen people depart on the spiritual journey of Hajj. Despite the emphasis on the importance of Hajj and in particular the first 10 days of the month, growing up I always assumed that the auspiciousness of the month of Hajj was exclusive to those actually performing the pilgrimage.

As a child I was always aware of the occasion, but I can’t remember anything special or different during the month of Hajj. The one time it really impacted me was the year my parents undertook the journey and left my sisters and I at home with the grandparents. When you’re a kid and you’re parents leave for such a long time, the Hajj memories you’re left with aren’t so great. Nevertheless, it was the one year, we experienced something different during the month of Hajj.

This year was a little more eventful and spiritually uplifting. As soon as Hajj approached, Facebook & Twitter were flooded with messages and reminders of the importance of Hajj and some of the commendable acts of worship associated with the first ten days. I was reminded everyday and the reminders alone instilled a sense of awareness and I found that engaging in some of these acts of worship and even fasting during these days became instinctive. Social media is not all bad, but you have to be engaged with the right people, groups & organisations to benefit from them.

At home I was reminded about Hajj through my wife’s awesome idea of a Hajj advent calendar for our 2 and half year old son. The calendar had little pockets for each day of the first 2 weeks of Hajj and he would get to open one of the pockets each day. I’ll leave the details of the calendar for my wife’s blog but by acknowledging the importance of each day and making an effort to do activities relating to the events that took place and take place during Hajj, we were constantly reminded of the importance and significance of Hajj and then Eid.

My son loved the idea and by Eid day had learnt about Hajj, the Ka’ba, Ihram, Tawaaf, Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) etc and became enthused about Eid day and the idea of one day visiting the Ka’ba In Sha Allah. All it took was a poster and a brilliant idea from my wife but the results were amazing. Being able to celebrate and enjoy Hajj at home with the family was truly a blessing. The highlight of my Hajj at home was watching my son get confused with the extra Takbeer at the Eid Salaah… truly heartwarming.

With the end of the month of Hajj and the beginning of a new Islamic year, my aim is to find ways of integrating faith and spirituality into every month. Ramdhan and Hajj are special indeed, but in order to counter the moral imbalance of the world our children live in, we need these reminders more often. I’m hoping the wife has a few more ideas up her sleeve or possibly on her blog.

 

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.