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”

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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]

Sweet reflections!

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

Despite reciting these verses repeatedly, they never fail to amaze me… SubhanAllah!

And behold! Your Lord has inspired the bee with this “Build thy hive in the mountains, trees and in the creepers over trellises: then drink nectar from every kind of fruit, and follow the ways made smooth by the Lord.” From its belly comes out a fluid of varying hues wherein is healing for mankind. Here is indeed a Sign for those people who ponder over it. – Quran, An Nahl v 68-69.

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It takes the entire lives of 12 bees to make 1 teaspoon of honey… We can not begin to fathom the mercy of our Lord.

Reflect and Appreciate!

Alhamdulillah!

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.

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!

Islamic College Fete…

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

I attended the annual Fete at the Islamic College of Brisbane this weekend for my weekend dose of Halal-ness and inspiration. Due to an ever-growing Muslim population virtually everywhere in the world, our functions and gatherings always come with traffic congestions, parking issues and crowd control problems which we’ve grown accustomed to. Despite the massive turnout yesterday, I was impressed at the orderly manner in which we, as a community conducted ourselves. While I can’t comment on the success of the fund-raising initiative, from a social perspective, it was a success.

Despite the anti-Muslim media frenzy over the paste decade, the broader community have learnt the secrets of our gatherings and functions… The FOOD! It’s always a pleasure to see Muslims and Non-muslims coming together to celebrate and enjoy the many diversities our cultures have to offer. A true sense of community, family and brotherhood was on display which is a real display of what we, as Muslim’s mean when we claim that Islam means peace.

Nothing is more Peaceful than a group of Muslims from all over the world, living in a Western Land, coming together to raise funds for the growth of an Islamic School. The organisation of the event has been improving each year, the school itself has grown at an amazing rate over the last 5 years which is a positive sign for the Muslim community in this area. Support came from the muslim community, non-Muslim community as well as local government representatives and officials who understand the major role the Muslim community plays in the area.

There is distinct benefit in promoting and facilitating a single, united Ummah or community, particularly when residing as minorities in Western countries. The unity, discipline and strength displayed when the community stands and works together is precisely what we need amidst the global onslaught on our Religion.

Events that are hosted, supported or held at Islamic institutions have a special significance in promoting a true impression of both Islam and Muslims in the context of social integration. When you have Muslims from a range of ethnicities including so many reverts, Islam becomes more than just a brown religion. When people of different races, cultures and ethnicities unite for the sake of faith, it makes it easier for the broader community to understand and accept that Islam is not a brown religion, not an Arab religion but a world religion. This display of unity can dispel arguments that question our ability to work together and integrate with the rest of society.

The social, yet Islamic environment also displays the simplicity of our faith and the ease with which our religious obligations can be met alongside our social and personal lives. It doesn’t take much for a gathering to be Islamic, it usually starts with a prayer or recitation, music is kept to minimum if any, entertainment is usually provided by kids in the form of song or art and when the time of prayer arrives, Muslims answer it by getting together in a designated place and praying together which usually takes no more than 5 minutes. Thereafter, the eating, drinking and socialising resumes. As Muslims, this is something we take for granted but for a non-Muslim observer, this informal display of our religion can make a massive difference to their views and perspective on what is portrayed to be a strict and heavily regulated set of restrictions.

I believe our functions should remain Islamic at the core as a point of difference rather than simply being events organised by Muslims. The Fete was truly Islamic and provided a platform for social interaction, religious integrations and most of all… the best Da’wah or propagation of Islam which is through action and behaviour rather than simply words.

The Islamic College of Brisbane is very special to me and I hope one day, to send my kids there too. I pray that Allah grant them success and protect their reputation. As Muslims, it is OUR responsibility to support OUR institutions.