Ramadan – A Nafs Killer


Ramadan to Ramadan sins

 

Isn’t Ramadan a nafs-killer?

When you want to eat you cannot eat, and there is blessing in eating at a time when you’d rather not eat! (sahoor)
When you want to sleep you push yourself to stay awake and when you’d rather be awake you know you have to get some sleep so you can remain sane…
It almost feels like you have no control over your life any more… you cant do what you please, its all about what Allah wants. This is exactly what we have signed up for:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اشْتَرَىٰ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ
Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. [9:111]

And this is what is expected of us:

التَّائِبُونَ الْعَابِدُونَ الْحَامِدُونَ السَّائِحُونَ الرَّاكِعُونَ السَّاجِدُونَ الْآمِرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَالنَّاهُونَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَالْحَافِظُونَ لِحُدُودِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
[Such believers are] the repentant, the worshippers, the praisers [of Allah ], the travelers [for His cause] / those who fast, those who bow and prostrate [in prayer], those who enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and those who observe the limits [set by] Allah. And give good tidings to the believers. [9:112]

O Allah, accept from us our lives, and give us Jannah. Ameen.

– Taimiyyah Zubair

Masters of the youth of Paradise


hasan-hussain

The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Husayn is part of me and I am part of him. May Allah love those who love Husayn. Husayn is one of my grandsons.” [al-Tirmidhi (3775), Ibn Maajah (144) and Ahmad (17111) – classed as hasan by at-Tirmidhi and al-Albaani]

Al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was killed on the day of ‘Ashoora’, he was killed by the transgressing, wrongdoing group. Allah honoured al-Husayn with martyrdom, as He honoured other members of his family; He honoured Hamzah and Ja‘far (may Allah be pleased with them) with martyrdom, as well as his father ‘Ali and others (may Allah be pleased with them all).

His martyrdom was one of the means by which Allah raised him in status, for he and his brother al-Hasan will be the leaders of the youth among the people of Paradise, and high status is only achieved by means of trials, as the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said, when he was asked which of the people are most sorely tested? He said: “The Prophets, then the righteous, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested to a degree commensurate with his level of religious commitment. If there is firmness in his religious commitment, his test will be greater, and if there is any weakness in his religious commitment, the test will be reduced for him. Trials will continue to befall the believer until he walks upon the earth with no sin on him.” [Narrated by at-Tirmidhi and others].

Al-Hasan and al-Husayn had previously been granted high status by Allah, may He be glorified, and they did not go through the same trials and hardships that had befallen their predecessors, because they were born at a time when Islam was prevalent and they had grown up with honour and dignity. The Muslims venerated them and honoured them, and when the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) died, they had not yet reached the age of discernment.

The blessing that Allah bestowed upon them was that He tested them with that which caused them to join the other members of their family, just as He tested others who were better than them. ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib was better than them, and he was killed as a martyr.

The two beautiful beloved ones who many are grieving for these days, were martyred as Allah willed it, and this was a blessing for them. They are now in Jannah with their grandfather (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) having a high status with Allah so why should we be sad for them? Instead let’s pray Allah gives us tawfiq to follow them in righteous deeds and that He has mercy on us and forgives us like He had mercy on them and that He unites us with them in Jannat Al Firdaws! Aameen!

Dealing with Grief


grieved

Allah created us unique and out of His mercy not only blessed us with intellect, feelings and emotions but also taught us how to use these faculties in the right way. Joy and grief are two such emotions decreed by Allah for us – emotions through which we can draw closer to Him if we comply with His commands. Being grateful and praising Allah when happy and patient when sad while accepting whatever He decrees is the characteristic of a true believer. For, everything that Allah decrees for a believer is good for him in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all his affairs are good, and that applies to no one except a believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is also good for him.” (Muslim-2999)

Remaining calm especially at the loss of a loved one can be devastating and the grief that follows cannot be belittled but a believer who has faith in His Lord’s promises doesn’t let shaitan overpower his senses and continues to be patient for His sake. He knows that everything good and bad is a test from Allah and the real purpose of the test is actually to make him learn to continue doing good deeds with patience despite the burden of the test he is facing. That’s when he is blessed with the mercy, guidance and reward of Allah as explained in the second surah of the Qur’an.

Experiencing negative feelings of sadness and anxiety or crying when grieving a loss is natural. Even the prophets went through such times and felt these emotions of sorrow and hurt but we need to learn and follow their attitudes of controlling their emotions and being steadfast in the obedience of Allah.

Anas bin Malik narrated: “We went with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to the blacksmith Abu Saif. He was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah’s Messenger took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later when we entered Abu Saif’s house, Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Messenger, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”  (Bukhari 23:390)

In another narration, Abdullah ibn Umar said: Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubaadah fell sick and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to visit him with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with all the companions). When he entered upon him, he found him unconscious with his family around him and he said: “Has he died?” They said: No, O Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) wept, and when the people saw the Prophet weeping, they also wept. He said: “Listen, Allah does not punish for the tears of the eye or the grief of the heart, rather He punishes for this” – and he pointed to his tongue – “or shows mercy (because of it).” (Bukhari-1304, Muslim-924)

These touching narrations teach us that being composed when grieving and submitting to the will of Allah does not exclude emotions. And while such emotions are characterized as a sign of human compassion granted by Allah, Prophet (peace be upon him) also placed limits on excessive display of grief. Merely crying when grieved is allowed but it is forbidden when it accompanies wailing or complaining. Furthermore, according to hadeeth, the family of a deceased is allowed to mourn him for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days.

Unfortunately we see many people nowadays spoil the image of Islam by grieving over the dead in ways that were forbidden by the Prophet (peace be upon him). They are seen beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords while complaining or uttering words of shirk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never prescribed for his followers to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr irrespective of his status. During his lifetime, he (peace be upon him) lost his beloved wife Khadijah, almost all his children and a number of companions were martyred such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah and Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib. He did mourn their loss, but he did not do any of the things that some people nowadays do. He or his companions did not strike their chests or scratch their faces, or shed blood or take the day of the loss of their beloved spouses, children or companions as a festival or day of mourning. Rather they used to remember their loved ones who had passed away; they used feel sad, silently shed tears and seek relief in prayer. According to a report by Abu Dawood, whenever something distressed him or pleased him, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say to Bilal: “Relieve us with it (i.e., the prayer).”  He (peace be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, tears his garment, or wails with the cry(words) of the Jaahiliyyah.” (Bukhari-1294, Muslim-103)

When one remembers his beloved who has passed away or when he remembers some similar calamity, it is best to say that which Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.” (Ahmad)

He (peace be upon him) also said, ‘A person will be in the company of those whom he loves’. (Bukhari) So be consoled, oh believers, and patiently endure as the life of this world is temporary and we will soon be reunited with our beloved in Paradise if Allah wills.

-Mariam Anwer

Flee to Allah


 

run

When speaking about our pursuit of Salaah, Allah uses the
term, فَاسْعَوْا / “Proceed” (Al-Qur’an, Surah 62, Ayah 9)

When speaking about our pursuit of Paradise, He uses the
term, سَابِقُوا / “Race!” (Al-Qur’an. Surah 57, Ayah 21)

But, when speaking about our pursuit of Him, Allah uses the term, فَفِرُّوا / “Flee!” (Al-Qur’an, Surah 51, Ayah 50)

Not every ambition in life deserves the same amount of effort.

With the above said, consider your own life, your own aspirations and what you invest most time in.

Is the above an accurate reflection of us?

Or have we flipped this Qur’anic standard upside down, where we ‘walk’ towards Allah, but ‘flee’ towards everything other than Him?

Let your slogan in life be the words of Prophet Musa (‘alayhissalam) who said,

وَعَجِلْتُ إِلَيْكَ رَبِّ لِتَرْضَى

” .. and I rush to You, my Lord, so that You be pleased.”
(Al-Qur’an, Surah 20, Ayah 84)

 

– Ali Hammuda

Racing to Good Deeds in Ramadan


ramadan

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

Ramadan is literally Mubarak!


Mubarak Ramadan

“This Ramadan, I am afraid I won’t be able to do much Ibadah…”

Did you find yourself saying this to yourself or someone else? Perhaps it continued like this “… because I have exams”, or, “… because the fasts are super long and I have work”, or may be “… because kids have school” …or something else?

I know, Ramadan is exciting, but the fear is also real. However, before you decide not to set any goals for yourself this Ramadan, or allow yourself to take it easy, read on:

1. Ramadan is a month whose every day and night is Mubarak – in fact EVERYTHING about this month is Mubarak, including the food we eat at suhoor. Simply explained, mubarak is something that has barakah in it, and barakah is ‘when you get more out of what appears to be little’.
So while you may be genuinely afraid about your limited capacity and time assure yourself of Allah’s special aid this month, and take comfort in knowing that even the little will suffice inshaAllah.

2. Allah loves deeds that are consistent, even if they may be small. Ramadan is an opportunity we really don’t want to miss no matter what is going on in our lives, because it is unlike any other time of the year. So aim for something, even if it may be small. The nights are short for many of us, but Allah’s mercy and generosity is great. If we can stand in prayer for a few minutes only, lets do it.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Would any one of you like to return to his family and find there three large, fat, pregnant she-camels? We (the sahabah) said: Yes. Upon this he (ﷺ) said: Three verses that one of you recites in his prayer are better for him than three large, fat, pregnant she-camels. [Muslim: 1908]

Perhaps you can do more?

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites ten verses in the night, a heap of reward will be recorded for him, and that is better for him than the world and whatever that is in it.” [Saheeh at-Targheeb a at-Tarheeb: 638]

And of course, the reward for Ihsan is nothing but Ihsan.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever recites a hundred verses in the night, then the worship of the entire night will be recorded for him.” [Musnad Ahmad: 16958]

May Allah allow us to worship Him in the best way that we can this Ramadan, consistently and beautifully. Ameen.

– Taimiyyah Zubair

The Blessed Martyrs


martyrs

SubhanAllah! How blessed are the martyrs! <3
How then do we grieve over their death?

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) writes (in Al-Fataawa al-Kubra, part 5): “Allaah honoured al-Husayn with martyrdom, as He honoured other members of his family, and raised his status, as He honoured Hamzah, Ja’far, his father ‘Ali and others. Al-Husayn and his brother al-Hasan are the leaders of the youth of Paradise. High status can only be attained through suffering, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him said, when he was asked which people suffer the most. He said, “The Prophets, then righteous people, then the next best and the next best. A man will suffer according to his level of faith. If his faith is solid, he will suffer more, but if his faith is shaky, he will suffer less. The believer will keep on suffering until he walks on the earth with no sin.” (reported by al-Tirmidhi and others).

Al-Hasan and al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them) achieved what they achieved and reached the high status they reached by the help and decree of Allaah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) died when they were still young, and Allaah blessed them by testing them in such a manner that they would be able to catch up with the rest of their family members, as those who were of a higher status than them were also tested. And Allah is Al Aleem and Al Hakeem.

In al-Musnad, it is reported from Faatimah bint al-Husayn, from her father al-Husayn, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no man who suffers a calamity, and when he remembers it, even if it is old, he says ‘Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon (Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return),’ but Allaah will give a reward equal to the reward He gave him on the day he suffered the calamity.” This is how Allaah honours the Believers.”

May Allaah guide us, make all of our deeds righteous and make them purely for His sake, and not let there be any share for anyone or anything else in them. Aameen.