Racing to Good Deeds in Ramadan


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Praise and thanks to Allah who has made us reach the blessed month of Ramadan yet again this year. He made it a month of mercy, forgiveness, du’aa and multiplied rewards. Every night of this blessed month, He invites the fortunate ones who witness it, to race and compete with each other in doing righteous deeds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the devils are chained, the jinn are restrained, and the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. A caller announces: O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short! Allah will save them from the Hellfire and that is during every night of Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi-682)

How amazing is that? Could our names be among the ones whom Allah removes from the list of people going to Hell? Insha Allah, Yes! With the devils being chained and the entrance to Paradise made so easy, racing to do all that Allah has commanded and trying our best to avoid all that He has forbidden has been made easy for us in this blessed month. Ramadan is without doubt a golden opportunity for all of us who hope to be saved from the Hell fire and yearn to dwell in Paradise, where we will have all that we desire. This is not a month of socializing and feasting even though it is common to see this around us. This is a month of competing with each other in improving our relationship with our Creator – A month where we ignore all distractions and race to him by doing lots of good deeds. Allah says, “And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden [i.e. paradise] as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous.” (Qur’an 3:133)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There has come to you the month of Ramadan, a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with grace, sending down mercy, forgiving sins and answering supplication. Allah looks at your competition in doing good therein, and boasts of you before His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for truly the wretched person is the one who is deprived of the Mercy of Allah during this month.” (At Tabarani)

The Messenger (peace be upon him) and his companions would pray, fast, spend time with the Qur’an and be obedient to Allah all year round but in Ramadan, they would maximize their efforts to excel in various good deeds. Nothing can be better for us than following their footsteps in this world and then being rewarded by having their company in the Hereafter. The Messenger (peace be upon him) mentioned many actions which, if performed sincerely, grant us great rewards.

The best of such actions in Ramadan is fasting, which has been made obligatory by the Almighty. The exact reward for fasting has not been specified but it is expected to be tremendous because of the way this hadith describes it: “Every deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied between ten and seven hundred times. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, said: Except fasting. It is for Me and I shall reward for it. He gives up his desires and his food for My sake.” (Muslim-1151) SubhanAllah! We need to perfect our fast by not just avoiding food and drink but also false and hateful speech and deeds so the rewards can be maximized. According to another hadith, there is a gate to Paradise that is called Ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last [one who fasted] has passed through the gate, it will be locked. [al-Bukhari and Muslim].

The blessed month of Ramadan is a celebration of the Qur’an as the blessed Book was revealed in it. Striving hard to spend the month in reading, reciting and listening to the Qur’an carries huge rewards. Regarding reciting it, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that ‘Alif, Laam, Meem’ is a letter, rather I am saying that ‘Alif’ is a letter, ‘Laam’ is a letter and ‘Meem’ is a letter.” (Tirmidhi-2910)

While for the one who listens to the Qur’an attentively (in prayer at the masjid or elsewhere), it was said that mercy does not come quicker to anyone than the one who listens to the Qur’an according to the words of Allah: “So when the Qur’an is recited, then listen to it and pay attention that you may receive mercy.” [Qur’an 7:204] The words “you may” make it mandatory for Allah! (Tafsir Al Qurtubi)

In addition to studying the Qur’an, there is a narration by Ibn Abbas that emphasizes the need to be generous in giving all kinds of charity in Ramadan: “Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of people and he was the most generous in the month of Ramadan, when Jibril would meet him. Jibril used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur’an.” (Bukhari-1716, Muslim-4268)

Speaking of charity, you can also easily get the reward of fasting not just 30 fasts in the blessed month, but 60, 90 and so on! Surprised? Well, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Whoever gives a fasting person (food or drink to break their fast), they will have similar to the reward of the one who fasted, without any decrease for the one who fasted.” (At-Tirmidhi-Authenticated by Al Albani) Buy some dates and hand them over at some masjid, for the worshippers at the time of breaking the fast or hand over bottles of cold water and small packets of dates on the road sides at the time of Maghrib. If you are unable to do any of that, then just helping out in the kitchen and setting up Iftar with dates and cold water for your family will bring a similar reward insha Allah.

Making extra voluntary prayer along with the 5 obligatory ones is another way to race to Paradise according to the narration of Rabi’a b.Ka’b who said: I was with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) one night and I brought him water and what he required. He said to me: ‘Ask (for anything you like)’. I said: I ask for your company in Paradise. He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Or anything else other than it?’ I said: That is all (what I require). He (peace be upon him) said: ‘Then help me to achieve this for you by devoting yourself to frequent sujood [prostrations].’ “(Muslim-990) Let’s rush to the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise by spending the nights of Ramadan in prayer as whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer.”  (Hadeeth classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi)

According to a hadeeth, performing an Umrah in Ramadan is like accompanying the Prophet (peace be upon him) on Hajj.” (Bukhari-1764) But as for those who live far away from the blessed land of Makkah and feel sad because they cannot perform Umrah in this blessed month, well you can get the ultimate rewards of Hajj and Umrah, from right where you are. According to a hadeeth, whoever prays Fajr Prayer in congregation, and then sits and remembers Allah until the sun rises, and then prays 2 units of voluntary prayer (Al-ishraq), he will gain a reward equal to that of performing a perfect, perfect, perfect Hajj and Umrah. (Al-Albaani, Saheeh Al-Jaami’-6346)

“Race to [all that is] good.” says Allah in the Qur’an (2:148) and one can think of no better time to do this except in the blessed season that we find ourselves in. Restraining our temper and our tongues from evil or idle talk, helping those in need, being patient in upholding ties with relatives even if they are rude to us will make us gain not just tremendous rewards but also the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise in this blessed month. Some short but beautiful and meaningful phrases of praising, glorifying and exalting Allah taught by the Prophet should also be recited in Ramadan to get those extra rewards. He (peace be upon him) said:

  • “Whoever says Subhaan Allaah il ‘azeem wa bi hamdihi (Glory and praise be to Allaah the Almighty), a palm tree will be planted for him in Paradise.”(Tirmidhi)
  • “There are) two words which are dear to the Most Merciful (Allah) and very light (easy) for the tongue (to say), but very heavy in weight in the balance. They are: Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim (Glory and praise to Allah, and Glory to Allah the Almighty)’. (Bukhari)
  • “Glorify Allah a hundred times by just saying Subhanallah (Glorified is Allah) and a thousand good deeds will be written for you, or a thousand sins will be wiped away.” (Muslim)
  • “Say ‘Laa Hawla Wa Laa Quwwataa Illaa Billaah’ (There is no might or power except with Allah) in abundance, for indeed it is from the treasures of Jannah.“ (Bukhaari) This means that this phrase is a treasure that will be preserved and rewarded to the servant in Jannah if he utters it.

How Merciful is our Lord, Who enlightened us to countless good deeds that lead to His pleasure and Paradise – Alhamdulillah! Regardless how much we do and how much we offer we will always fall short fulfilling Allah’s rights upon us, therefore we must increase in seeking His forgiveness and always seek His guidance and help in doing good for His sake. He says: “And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways (the means to attain the acceptance and pleasure of Allah). And indeed Allah is with the doers of good.” (Qur’an 29:69)

May Allah grant us the strength and tawfiq to make the most of this blessed month and be winners in this race to be among His beloved ones. Ameen.

– Written Mariam Anwer

A condensed version of this article originally published in Arab News

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Treat your sick by charity


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A translation of a profound khutbah by a respected Shaikh in London:

I was told a story by a brother from Harimla’, a suburb of the capital city of Riyadh, where a certain woman was inflicted with leukemia, may Allah protect you and us from it. In her need for care, she hired a maid from Indonesia. The sick lady was kind and righteous. A week after having had the maid, the lady noticed that the maid spent a lot of time in the toilet. More than normal and very frequent. Just after one of these occurrences, the lady asked her helper the reason for the lengthy bathroom visits. The maid started crying profusely. When asked what made her cry, she said: ‘I gave birth twenty days ago. When the employment agency in Indonesia contacted me. I took advantage of the opportunity to work for you, for we were in dire need of funds. The reason I spend so much time in the bathroom is, my breasts fill up with milk, so I go to the sink to empty them.’

As soon as the lady knew the reason, she booked the earliest flight for her to return home. She put together exactly a two year salary, summoned her and said: ‘This advance is for your two years salary. Go home to your baby, breastfeed and take great care of it. After two years, return to us.’ She gave her the contact details, in case she wished to return after two years. After the maid returned home, the lady had an appointment with her doctor for an update on her condition. After the routine blood test, to their surprise, she showed no signs of leukemia. The doctor made her do the same test several times, the result was always the same. The doctor was stupefied with her recovery due to the severity of her infliction. When the doctor was certain of her recovery, he asked her if she had used any other healing method, to which she answered: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Treat your sick by giving Sadaqah (charity).”

The Shaikh narating the story then commented: I wish that the reader of this story becomes inspired to ease hardships from those in need. Who knows…it could ward off an unexpected calamity. Give, as the shroud has no pockets.

He continued and said that another extraordinary story relates the following:

A young man’s mother was hospitalized due to old age and fell into coma. She was put in intensive care. A few days later, the doctors told him that her condition was hopeless, she could expire at any moment. He left from the hospital distraught about his mother to tend to some need. On his way back, returning to visit his mother, he stopped at a gas station. As he was waiting for the attendant to fill up his tank, he noticed that a cat had a new litter under a cardboard box. They could barely walk. The mother along with her babies looked weak and helpless. He thought: Who would feed them under these circumstances, and so went to the nearest store and bought a can of tuna, opened and poured out the contents for the tiny creatures and continued on his way to the hospital. When he entered the intensive care unit, He saw that his mother wasn’t there anymore, he dropped what was in his hands, and rushed to ask the nurse about her. And the nurse informed him that her condition had improved drastically, so they had moved her to the next room. He went to his mother and found her fully alert. He greeted her and asked what happened and she said that she had a dream while she was unconscious. She said that she saw a cat and her kittens with their hands extended towards the heavens praying for her. The young man just stood there in amazement while tears poured down his face.

فسبحان من وسعت رحمته كل شيء
Praise to the one who’s compassion is all encompassing

From Hudayfah -Radi Allaahu anhu- that the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said: ‘A fitnah (trail) which a man faces with regard to his family, his wealth, his own self, his son and his neighbor is expiated by fasting, prayer, charity, enjoining good and forbidding evil.’ [Collected by Bukhari & Muslim]

Shamsuddeen Muhammad bin Abee Bakr Ibn Qayyim aj-Jawzeeyah (d.751 A.H.) -Rahimullaah- said: “Indeed Sadaqah has an amazing effect in repelling different types of trials and tribulations, even if the charity was given by an evil person, or an oppressive person, in fact even if it was given by a non-Muslim! Indeed Allaah Ta’ala repels different types of trials and tribulations due to giving Sadaqah. This is a matter which is well-known to the scholars and the general folk, and all of the people on the earth can associate with this fact because they have experienced it.” [Taken from: ‘al-Wabil as-Sayyib’ p.63]

 سبحان الله الصدقة دفعت بلاء بإذن الله
Praise to Allah, alms giving repels calamities, by Allah’s permission!

Share and inspire others! :)

Ḥayāt ibn Sharīḥ, One of Imam Bukhāri’s teacher :)


Allah knows by sh Hayat

From the salaf uṣ-ṣāliḥeen was a scholar named حياة ابن شريح Ḥayāt ibn Sharīḥ, one of Bukhāri’s teacher. All his life, dunya constricted on Ḥayāt Ibn Sharīḥ; in unabated poverty and hunger, he adopted a life of zuhd (asceticism) unwillingly. Ibn Wahab said of him, “I have never seen a man as drastic in his istighfār as Ḥayāt ibn Sharīḥ. He was known for having his duʿās responded to. He was also of those who cried often [from khushūʾ]—and those deprived of this world’s comforts. For this reason he became a zāhid [ascetic].”

ما رأيت أحدا أشد استغفار بعمله من حياة. وكان يُعرَف بالإجابة. وكان من البكائين، وديق الحياة جداً ومع ذلك من الزاهدين

His worried students inquired about his condition; they said, “Why would Allāh restrict His rizq (provision) on a pious scholar like Ḥayāt?” And so Ḥayāt would respond to them: الله أعلم بما يصلح عباده  “Allāh knows what [worldly] conditions are best for His servant…”

One of the kirāmāt (miracles) of this scholar: Ḥayāt ibn Sharīḥ’s annual income was a mere 60 dinars, which he distributed ALL to the needy. Narrations say Ḥayāt would return home and randomly find another 60 dinars under his pillow. Like Allāh was compensating him secretly for his charitable donations. His cousin, seemingly baffled by Ḥayāt’s kirāmah, tested this to see if it would work for him.

It didn’t. And when his cousin complained to him, Ḥayāt replied: أنا أعطيت ربي بيقين وأنت أعطيته بتجربة “I give for Allāh’s sake with yaqīn (certainty) while you give to test Him.”

A quick-witted scholar, yes, but also an exemplar of virtuosic contentment. Your heart may long for wealth, but Allāh knows poverty is better for you. It may long for simplicity, but Allāh chose you for His rizq. He knows. And we know nothing.

I will give….


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“More generous than the strong, uncontrollable wind, he was,” you mouth the words to yourself lovingly, reverently. “SalAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam…” (Al Bukhari)

This Ramadan, I will give sadaqah daily, you decide…

But a worry settles in: How will you keep it up? If tonight you gave freely without hesitating, what will you do tomorrow? Do you empty your pockets daily for the sake of Allah? Where will you get the money? If you do what you just did tonight, you’ll be broke in no time…

Your heart aches because you want so much — in your own, small way — to resemble a generous wind… Maybe you can just be a zephyr, small, gentle breeze that it is. But with so little to give, how do you compete with the generosity of the generous? How do you vie for a similar reward?

Allah tabaraka wa ta’ala is so Gracious, and so Appreciative… He doesn’t ask much of us. He doesn’t burden us with more than we can bear. He’s not in need of our charity, but He asks us to give for our own good, our own purity. And He loves that when we do something, we keep it up and do it consistently.

Your sadaqah doesn’t have to be immense. And when times are tight, remember that it doesn’t have to be just monetary. If half a date can save you from Hell-fire, then don’t be shy to give half a date. If smiling in the face of your sister can be charity, then smile once with the hope that Allah will accept it, the hope that this one act will leave you smiling eternally in the Hereafter.

If you can’t spend much, then give a little, but give consistently. Give a little, but give sincerely. Give what you can now with the intention of giving more when times are easier. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala doesn’t look at our pockets, but at your hearts. All He asks us is to be sincere to Him and truly seek His Face and His Pleasure.

Give of your time. Give of your skills. Give whatever you can, but give. And do it daily.

“If you have much, give from the bottom of your heart… and if you don’t, give of your heart.“ – Sheikh Abdulbary Yahya

Perspective:

This Ramadan, change your perspective on sadaqah.

Sadaqah list:

– Put a bit of change in the sadaqah box on your way out from taraweeh. Whenever you receive a gift of money, or your salary, or any monetary benefit, take out a portion from it out of gratefulness to Allah.

– Donate a few volunteer hours to help out at the masjid.

– Help out with local projects such as food drives, volunteer at soup kitchens, etc.

– Share a good word, spread some knowledge, impart beneficial advice, lend an ear.

– After iftar, help clean up and pick up leftover litter if you’re at the masjid.

– You’re fasting. Consider all the coffee/tea/snack breaks you would take on a normal basis, and donate that amount for the sake of Allah.

– Smile. Sincerely. At everyone you meet at the masjid. And greet them well.

– Set up water bottles at taraweeh prayer for the worshippers so they can quench their thirst and make du’a for you.

– Prepare food for others and partake in the extra reward, not only for that of charity but for their fast as well.

– Donate your time to your loved ones, and those that you may have been neglecting throughout the year.

– Pray Salat ad-Duha. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Each morning, there is a charity due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Each utterance of Allah’s glorification (subhan Allah) is an act of charity; every utterance of praise (ahumdulillah) is an act of charity; every utterance of affirmation of His Oneness (la ilaha illa Allah) is an act of charity; every utterance of affirmation of His Greatness (Allahu Akbar) is an act of charity; enjoining good and forbidding evil is an act of charity. And it’s enough for all of this to offer two rak’ahs of Duha.” [Sahih Muslim]

This Ramadan, give charity daily… Look for unique ways to be charitable and make the lives of those around you even a tiny bit better. Consider sadaqah an amazing and exciting opportunity for you to draw closer to your Lord.

Originally published at I Got it Covered.

‘Where are those who fast…’


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‘… Where are those who fast and where are those who pray by night? Where are those who obey their Lord and where are those who work righteousness? Where are those who are foremost and where are are the humble ones? Where are those who remember (their Lord) and where are those devoted to Him? Where are the truthful and where are the patient? Where are the charity-givers? Where are those who enjoin good, who save the troubled ones and who forbid the wrong? Where are those who heed contemplation and who listen to good advice and life-lessons? By Allah, they have indeed gone with the Salihin (righteous), returned with the Mu’minin (believers), settled with the Anbiya’ (Prophets) and taken residence with the Siddiqin (truthful ones). But us, we remain behind with the ignorant, have settled with the wrong-doers and have taken the heedless as our guides…


Fasting is the shield of nations, protecting from the Hellfire
And fasting is a fortress for whoever fears that fire
Fasting is a covering for all the people of goodness
Those who fear the burden of blame and sinfulness
And this month is the month of the Lord of the Throne
A Most Merciful Lord, Who conceals the heavy sins & burdens
So therein have fasted men who thus profited
Their reward lies with the Exalted and Forgiving One
And so they came to settle in Everlasting Gardens
Surrounded by maidens, and rivers and plantations…

So glad tidings to those who obey the Most Merciful King in this month of Mercy, this month of Ramadan. They bore patience over a few days, and thus long-lasting mercy and abundant blessings came after them and pursued them. Every time you do good in this month, you shall be rewarded for the rest of your life because righteousness is a habit and evilness is mere stubbornness.

Where are you O’ fasting one, who prays by night? Come forth to goodness and you shall triumph with everlasting happiness! Trade with your Lord and you shall profit, work with Him and you shall be successful, apologise and He shall accept your apology, seek His forgiveness and He shall forgive your sins, draw close to Him and He shall alleviate your suffering, ask Him from His Bounties and He shall expand your provisions, repent to Him and He shall increase your portion (in life).

O my dear brother, in this month all faults and mistakes are concealed, all souls and hearts are softened, sins and burdens are forgiven, and Allah `azza wa jall relieves every sad and troubled one. He says to His angels, ‘O My Angels, look at those dry tongues, how they become moist with My Remembrance. Look at those hard eyes, how they soften and weep out of fear of Me, and look at those delicate feet planted firmly at the stations of prayer out of desire for Me!’

O my dear brother, whenever you give food to others in this month for the Sake of Allah the Lord of the heavens and the earth, you shall be raised to high ranks in the lofty grounds of Paradise, and you will be clothed with complete goodness and stripped of all sin…’

-Ibn al-Jawzi, ‘Bustan al-Wa’idhin wa Riyadh al-Sami’in’ (pg. 185-186)