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.

IMG_2305

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”

Advertisements

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 amazing story of Robert Davila

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

I’ve formed a habit of listening to Islamic lectures on YouTube while working in the office and I came across the story of Robert Davila a few days ago. It is one of the most amazing stories I’ve heard, it brought tears to my eyes and made my day at the same time.

There are so many lessons to be learnt in this story and I hope to reflect on these In Sha Allah. For now, I just had to share it and no doubt I will be discussing it with as many people as possible over the next few days.

Puts the phrase “God works in mysterious ways’ into real perspective.

I pray that Allah have mercy on brother Robert, that He eases his pain and allows us to meet with him one day. May Allah reward those who have contributed to this great story and particular, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan for being such an inspiration and sharing this story with the world.

SubhanAllah!

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.

 

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!