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!

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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.

Re-thinking kids entertainment…

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

As part of my house husband duties over the last 6 weeks, I had to keep my boy entertained while I worked through my to-do list in the office. Unfortunately  the TV is a great distraction so when I needed time to get some serious work done, I would be happy for him to keep himself occupied watching some of the kids tv shows that play through the day. We have been mindful of the types of programs he watches but when you’re busy and occupied yourself, it’s not easy to regulate what he watches.

Just today I was getting some work done in the lounge and I heard something very peculiar on one of the kids channels. This ice man character was trying to convince this fire-ish mummyfied looking creature not to harm the little kids so he began offering him bribes, this was on of them… “here’s a pair of night vision x-ray goggles for when you have a lady friend over”.

My kid’s 2 and half and I know he didn’t get it but what the hell is this sort of content doing on a kids show… on the ABC? I’m a big fan of mature humour and wit in certain animated features but as a father, I can not accept adult or sexual humour on a kids show. Not to mention the fact that the mummyfied creature represented a being that was created from fire and at one point during the show attempted to possess the little kid. This is not children’s entertainment.

If you have young kids and you’re happy with them spending hours watching tv everyday, you should seriously stay home and watch with them one day. You will be disgusted at what they are exposed to and what passes as entertainment these days. I’ve been home for the last 6 weeks and I am not comfortable any more.

I don’t agree with the TV being used as a tool of distraction in the first place but I will admit, it works and sometimes that’s what you need. I think it’s important to know and understand the tv shows they do watch and it’s our responsibility as parents to protect them from anything that might not be appropriate for them.

I didn’t think I’d have to do this for a 2 and a half-year old and I’m afraid of what he might be exposed to as he grows up. Some of the older kids/teenage shows are very disturbing and unlike toddlers, there aren’t too many alternatives. For now I’ll stick to Play School, Sesame Street and our collection of Zaky videos. I’m looking for more Islamic kids entertainment as well which will be helpful with Ramadhaan around the corner.

Wife’s done this week InshaAllah so I’m hoping that with the 2 of us at home, we can find a viable alternative to the TV. Bearing in mind that kids will always do what they see their parents doing, we might need to make some changes first.

 

 

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.

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.

Our new routine ;)

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

I can’t believe 6 weeks went by so fast. I have changed nappies, brushed teeth, changed clothes, made breakfast & lunch, worked around a day time sleep routine and watched a few too many episodes of Play School. Six weeks ago I embraced my new routine and my new role as a part-time house husband. Today is the last day of my new routine and from tomorrow I’ll have a newer one Insha Allah.

Despite being an awesome dad and having some of the most amazing times with my son, I’m looking forward to our new routine and having mummy home from tomorrow. I have learnt to work efficiently while having to see to the kid so I plan to work even more efficiently with the wife’s help so we can spend more quality time together. When you don’t have a structured routine or timeline, productivity usually suffers and you end up working longer than necessary. After having to work around a toddler’s sleep routine, I’m confident I can work smarter and will do my best to avoid any after hour/bed-time/weekend work.

Since I did such a good job, I think I might continue and give the wife a hand with some of the chores too, especially looking after the little boy. We’ve shared some awesome experiences and I have learnt so much. Despite a few challenges along the way, I think it was a success and a new routine is always exciting.

A shout-out to my wife on a job well done too, she’s been an excellent student, teacher, mum and wife and took good care off us even with her busy schedule. Love you and I look forward to having you home from tomorrow Insha Allah.

 

Super Dad!

 

Living in the moment…

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

I got carried away scrolling down my Twitter timeline while sitting at the dinner table last night, I’m sure there was something meaningful I was looking for to share with my wife and sister but I got distracted and made my way through the mostly useless tweets I missed through the day. My wife was quick to remind me that it was dinner time and I immediately put my phone away. When I think about it now, not only is it sad but it was extremely rude. I don’t think we can use technology and social media to justify breaking traditional social protocols.

Facebook and Twitter connect us with family and friends around the world which is amazing but can we really justify a connection through social media at the expense of those sitting right next to us?

I’m a big fan of Facebook and Twitter so I’m not going to advocate against the use of technology and social media but I do think that it’s worth reflecting on how much time we spend using these mediums of socialising while neglecting our immediate social environment.

Next time you’re tweeting about what you ate for dinner or uploading dinner pics to facebook or drawing something for someone across the world to guess… think about the people sitting with you at the dinner table… connect with them first and live in the moment you’re in.