How to Strive to Become a Stronger Muslim

 

As Salam alaikum friends!!! We are now half way through Ramadan and it’s going by very quickly. Jummah Mubarak!! I pray you are all well and that your fasting is being accepted by Allah.

We all know, as human, that we cannot be perfect; but, that should not stop us from striving to become better, stronger people and Muslims. I remind myself first of this and then others. Much love to my ummah ❤ Here are some practical tips:

1. Accept that Allah Almighty exists and that His attributes are beyond our imagination. He is capable of everything and anything. Faith in Allah is essential. Accept that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of a long line of Prophets that started with Adam, and continued with such notable figures as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others. Accept that the Holy Quran is the most recent and true word of Allah.

2Pray sincerely. Affirm that Allah is close to you. Always pray on time, never delay. Never do things that will prevent you from doing tasks that are of much greater importance. Nothing can be more important than obeying that which Allah asks of you. For instance, even while working or studying, halt everything you are doing and go to the nearest mosque to pray. If somebody were to ask you where you are heading, say that you are answering Allah’s call to prayer.

3Pray in the middle of the night. Pray when most people around you are sleeping soundly. The name of the prayer is Tahajjud. However to perform this special voluntary prayer, you must have some sleep first, even if it is of a very short duration. The night is the most efficacious time to pray.

4Recite His name every time. Also known as Zikr in Islamic nomenclature (terminology), reciting Allah’s name will ultimately make you a strong Muslim because you are constantly reminded of what good He has done for you and all of humanity.

5Be grateful for everything you have, be it spiritual, mental, or physical. The more gracious you are, the more you will realize how much you have been blessed. And, by doing this, Allah willing, you will be stronger because you will believe that Allah is omnipresent.

6Protect your chastity. You must know that adultery is a sinful act, and thus must always avoid it. This applies to both men and women. Women should not wear tight or revealing clothing, and men should always lower their gaze and be modest.

7Keep to your promises. If you feel that you cannot manage something, just inform the other party as soon as you can. Abiding by sworn promises will ultimately make you a trustworthy person.

8Respect the opinion of others. No opinions can be “bad” or “stupid”. You should treat them as gems, or learn to derive gems from them. Without opinions, things will never get better. If you do not like an idea, do not invalidate it right away; instead, add on to the idea to improve it.

9Fast for the right reasons. Do NOT fast because you want to impress others or because you want to feel superior in terms of the popularity you will gain when you get fitter. Fast with the intentions to please only Allah, and to get the reward for doing so. Additionally, fast because you will be able to perform your prayers correctly and effectively and want to be responsible over your health. Nevertheless, fast in order to relate to those who do not have privileges like food and water. Fast twice a week, preferably on Mondays and Thursdays. Fast during the month of Ramadan and also on the day of Arafah, which is on the 9th of Zulhijjah. Allah will forgive all the sins you have done for one year before and after should you fast on the day of Arafah.

10Never lie. It should be emphasized again. Allah hates his adherents to lie to others. Your integrity will directly have an impact towards your dignity. People will look high upon you if you are honest and true to whatever you say. Unless the lie will actually cover upsomebody else’s shame or will avoid distress for everybody, lying is not permissible. For instance, if your friend has stolen money from his parents, you should not tell others that your friend has once stolen money.

11Be good to your family, if you are a man. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The best of you is he who is the best to his family.” Accordingly, be kind to them, always support them.

12Struggle towards goodwill. Sacrifice your time and visit the mosque if there is a lecture. Forfeit your property to those who need it more than you do. In other words, always give charity. The recipient will be thankful that you have given them aid in their daily life. Remember, the one who gives is better (in the context of providing alms) than than one who receives.

13Practice felicity towards everything. Be gentle and good-hearted not only to your parents, but to your cousins, to your friends, and even to the flora and fauna around you. Always protect your surroundings. Never ever be aggressive towards animals. You can always protect the environment by throwing rubbish properly and using public transportation.

14Be gracious towards your parents. They work very hard to sustain the lives in their households, which includes bringing food and other things. Your mother suffered great pains to bring you into this world. What have you done to say thanks to them? They have brought joy to your life by buying you presents every now and then. Have you acknowledged that and appreciated them? Do whatever they expect of you and you will surely be fine in the eyes of Allah.

15Don’t sough over your loved one’s death. Know that Allah did that because He loves your loved ones even more than you do. Accept that death is a resting phase for your loved ones against all the trouble this world can bring about.

16Never waste your Time on useless things. Time is a blessing, make sure how you use it always comes as fruitful.

17Read the Quran/Hadith a lot. Think deeply in every sentence’s ((Ayeh)) meaning in Quran. Discuss among your friends and seek for their conclusions. Whenever you find that you can’t understand the main meaning of any sentence, refer to “Explanations of Quran” or “Tafsir” books from great ethereal persons, or ask a knowledgeable person. It will keep your iman stronger. It will keep your soul pure. You’ll get thawab for every letter you said. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Two hours of thinking in Quran’s meaning, is better than one hundred years of praying.”

18Try a lot to seek out knowledge, even if it is to be in your enemy’s hands.

19Always think right. Never let evil ideas come into your mind.

20Keep your body, clothes, housewares and everything you own clean. Use fragrances frequently and dress in warm, modest, and welcoming clothing.

21Always help the poor and orphans by any means possible. Feed them; give them some money, and etc. These have a lot of deeds (thawab).

22Repent if you have committed a sin anytime. Allah shall forgive you, Insha Allah. Then, try to not repeat the same sin again. After all, He is the one you shall meet in the after life, so obey his law and He shall give you paradise.

23In order to be a good Muslim, you are obliged to believe in what the Quran states. However, Hadiths are NOT obligations. If you do not agree with a Hadith, or it contradicts your idea of Islam, then there is a high possibility that its contents might have been altered with time. Hadiths were officially collected 200 years after Prophet Muhammed died, and The Prophet himself fought the idea and advised against it. You are not obliged to believe in Hadiths, unless you are convinced they will help you become a better person, then you might choose to follow them.

24Pick your sources very wisely. Don’t read off the Internet a lot, and make sure that what you’re reading is a fact not an opinion. Islam is between you and God, that relationship is sacred. You must not let anyone interfere with that. It is very likely that people will disagree with you, so don’t let them affect your own point of view.

Insha’Allah you have found all or some of these beneficial. If you like my blogs, please click the “FOLLOW” button at the top of the page, and leave your comments in the section below. Jazak’Allah.

May you all be blessed with happiness, health and safety. Ameen

Love, Amani

 

Ramadan Crafts and Activities For Kids

 

As Salam Alaikum friends and Ramadan Mubarak!!! Today is day 3 (here in the USA) of Ramadan, and I thought now would be a good time to post something for our children to enjoy.

We know how important it is to help our kids with understanding our deen and what it entails. Ramadan is no exception. Even if your children are too young to fast, they can still learn the blessings and reasons behind it AND have fun doing it!

In this post, I’d like to give some useful websites that I have found, for children to both learn and have fun during this Ramadan. Insha’Allah we will all enjoy these with our children!

1. http://www.dltk-kids.com/world/muslim/index.htm

2. http://ourseeds.tripod.com/activities.html

3. http://www.crayola.com/things-to-do/crafts-landing/spirals-on-paper-plates.aspx

4. http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/ramadancraftsideasactivitiesmuslimkids.html

5. http://favouritethings.com/archives/2130

6. http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/ramadan/coloring.htm

7. http://www.thecolor.com/Category/Coloring/Ramadan.aspx

8. http://www.ichild.co.uk/tags/browse/86/eid

9. http://ummlayla.blogspot.com/2006/09/ramadan-craft.html

10. http://www.islamicplayground.com/Scripts/default.asp

These are just some I could find and that work, as far as the links. Insha’Allah our children enjoy these while learning about our Holy month!

As Always, May Allah keep you blessed, happy, healthy and safe. Ameen

Love , Amani

 

Tips to Gain Hasanat!

As salam alaikum friends! Ramadan is now 6 days away, insha’Allah. As we know, Ramadan is the perfect time to strive to gain as much hasanat (rewards from Allah (s.w.t.) for good deeds done) as possible, as it is more than doubled during this time.

Did you know that reading 1 word of the Quran is equal to 10 good deeds?! Just one word! Can you imagine if you read the entire Quran, the rewards or hasanat you would receive from Allah (s.w.t.)?! And doing this during Ramadan more than doubled this! Subhan’Allah how giving and merciful Allah is!

So today’s blog is about some simple ways to gain that hasanat, during Ramadan and / or every day. Let’s do this!

1. Read Quran of course! Let’s all dust off our Qur’an, we are all guilty of it at one time or another, of neglecting our readings. Try a few ayats (verses) after Fajr, after Dhur, after Asr, Magrib and Isha and before you know it, we will have finished it. Imagine the rewards for that!

2. Try to pray on time. We all have busy lives but if we are able, one of the best way to be rewarded by Allah (s.w.t.), is to pray on time, with sincerity in our hearts and the right intentions. Even if you can do a few on time, its better than nothing, right? One thing I did a while ago was go to my local hunting and fishing store and bought an inexpensive compass that has a little hook on it that you can attach to your belt loop or purse, and it is always with me. That way if I’m out and feel like praying somewhere, I always know the direction to pray in. I also had a towel in my trunk to pray on but you can also bring a prayer mat if you have one. This way, you can find a semi private place somewhere and do your prayer on time if it’s convenient for you to do so.

3. Make plenty of dua for others, especially during their time of need and hardships. We all need that in our lives and prayer works!

4. Make dinner for your family and/or friends for Iftar (breaking of the fast) or bring some bottles of water into the masjid for everyone to share. Even bringing some dates is sufficient. Feeding people during Ramadan or anytime is big time rewards. Insha’Allah

5. Carpool to the masjid for night prayers during Ramadan or anytime, even Jummah. If someone you know doesn’t have a car and you do, offer to give someone a ride to and from the mosque.

6. Smile at friends, family and random people! Smiling is simple, kind and sunnah. You just might make someones day with just a bit of kindness. You might be the first to have smiled at that person all day.

7. Donate clothing or toys to a family in need or a shelter, or bring to the masjid to share with those who may need.

8. Make sure to pay your zakat (charity) but you may go above and beyond the required amount here and there throughout the year.

9. Help a new revert to Islam. This is not only good for them but good for you as well. Do you have so many hijabs you don’t know what to do with them, or abayas? Don’t sell them for profit, give them to a new revert. They will need to dress accordingly so help them by providing the essentials to start them off on the right path. Also, provide a Quran and Islamic reading materials if you have some to share. Many of us have collected more than one Quran and plenty of materials so why not share with those in need? The rewards for all of these insha’Allah will be immense.

10. Following the 5 pillars of Islam is essential but when followed also reaps rewards for doing so., insha’Allah.

11. Instead of watching T.V. or surfing the net, watch Islamic lectures on things like YouTube or other websites. Read Islamic books to gain more knowledge in your deen.

12. Volunteer! Helping others not only makes you feel good about yourself but Allah loves those who do it. There are many ways to do this. Volunteer with the elderly, young children, at the masjid (cleaning, cooking, watching the children while others study), taking meals to people who are home bound. These are just a couple of ways. There’s so many more. Even volunteering at an animal shelter playing with the cats, walking the dogs, etc. These animals, because of the short staff and amount of animals in shelters, sometimes do not get alot of human contact and spend days and nights in cages. Animals are Allah’s (s.w.t.) creations of course and helping them benefits them and you insha’Allah.

13. Teach Arabic or English classes at the masjid or at peoples home free of charge. There are many people eager to learn but don’t have the means to pay for such services so you can volunteer your time to help.

14. One of the most important things is to keep Allah (s.w.t.) names on your tongue all the time, as much as you can. Get into the habit of saying Bismillah, Alhamdulilah, Subhan’Allah, Allahu Akbar, and so on. Everywhere and for everything. Allah (s.w.t.) loves his slaves to mention him in all things.

15. Spend some time listening to Quran on your stereo or on the internet. Try to learn new surahs and memorize them.

16. Attend Islamic events and encourage non-Muslims to attend with you.

17. Dawah!!! If someone asks you questions about your hijab or your beard or about Muslims, its the perfect opportunity to spread the word of Islam. Don’t be offended, unless they are rude of course, by sincere questions of non-Muslims. If they are rude, try to answer politely as our Prophet (s.a.w.) did to his oppressors. Or just walk away.

18. Try to pray sunnah prayers along with obligatory prayers. More rewards also insha’Allah.

19. Try to fast Mondays and Thursday (when its not Ramadan) as our Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) did. Its sunnah and great rewards insha’Allah.

20. Attend Jummah prayer and listen to the Khutbah when possible.

Well, this is a short list compared to all that we can do but hopefully, insha’Allah they will be beneficial to you.  And as always, May Allah (s.w.t.) bless you and your families with health , happiness and safety and may you have a blessed and fruitful Ramadan. Ameen

Love, Amani xxxx

If you have other ideas you’d like to share for everyone, please leave a comment below. May Allah (s.w.t.) reward you for your efforts in doing so. Ameen

Tips for New Reverts/Converts to Islam

As Salam Alaikum friends!! 🙂 I haven’t written a post in a while and since Ramadan is fast approaching, I thought now would be a great time for a new one.

My post today focuses on some tips for new Muslim reverts or converts as some say. Here are 12 of those tips that will, Insha’Allah (God willing), have some benefit to you. I found them on another website long ago, not sure where, but saved them into a word document because I enjoyed them so much. So, here they are for you!

1. Practice Islam as much as you can

“He who loves my Sunnah has loved me, and he who loves me will be with me in Paradise.”

-The Prophet Muhammad (Tirmidhi)

As a new Muslim, you will have trouble keeping up with prayers every day, fasting during Ramadan, and the many other practices in this religion. The struggle that we face, with such a radical change in lifestyle, is difficult and will take some time. Awkward moments are bound to happen, don’t fret. You are not expected to wake up at 4am every morning to pray tahajjud (extra night prayers). If you have problems with certain practices, then gradually work yourself into the mindset of worship. A counselor once told me when I was young, “How do you eat an elephant? Just One bite at a time.” Think of it as one step at a time. Pray to Allah (swt) and ask for Him to make it easy for you and the rest will come naturally.

Keeping up with your devotional practices is something that will strengthen your faith immensely. Read the Qur’an whenever possible. Find a collection of hadith, such as Riyadh us-Saliheen, and read it often. You will start to feel a connection to Allah (swt) and you will become used to Islam as a religion and way of life.

2.  Respect your parents

“Heaven lies under the feet of your mother.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Ahmad, Nasa’i)

Keeping up a good relationship with your family is essential. Try to avoid bringing up or taking part in controversial subjects regarding religion. This is almost unavoidable, but your parents will eventually accept that Islam is not going to turn you into a terrorist if you stay calm during these tense moments. Gradually, your parents will gain some respect and understanding of Islam and may start to become genuinely interested. This is a great sign and insha’Allah, God will make a way for them to accept Islam.

What you do not want to do is act like you know everything, attempt to debate everything, or overly defend yourself in a way that might make you angry or upset. This will just cause heartache and uneasiness. Your priority now should be to work on yourself.

3. Find a teacher

“For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the path to Paradise.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Muslim)

Finding a teacher to bounce ideas off of is a great way to learn your deen (religion). I found it is good to find someone with as much knowledge as possible who also has an understanding of the English language and American culture. It is difficult to listen to someone with a thick accent or someone with a back-home mentality. When I first accepted Islam, I would drive every day to visit my teacher and I would ask him what seemed like an endless stream of questions. Sometimes he seemed overwhelmed! This is a great way to clarify things you hear on Sheikh Youtube or Google or any part of the Qur’an you are reading at the time.

This will also help you have a real grounding in the Islamic tradition. You will eventually have spent more time learning Islam than most people from Muslim families. Maintain a sense of humility if you do gain a lot of knowledge, as there will always be someone who will be more knowledgeable than you. Learn everything you can in small chunks, no one is asking you to be a scholar!

4. Keep away from debates and arguments

“Verily anger spoils faith as aloe spoils honey.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

Trying to constantly defend your religion is something that will cause you a lot of stress. I remember when I first accepted Islam, it seemed like the whole world was after me. This may happen to different people at different levels, but it was a very overwhelming experience for me. The best thing to do is avoid these arguments at all costs. If you are mature about your religion and display a desire to explain yourself without refuting others, then many doors will open for you. You are bound to give someone a refreshing view of Islam, which is what so many people are hungry for after seeing Islam in such a negative light in the media.

Staying away from these discussions will put you at peace and give you breathing room. A lot of converts are not really comfortable with bringing up their religion because of the backlash they receive. Personally, I recognized that if I just mention it when necessary, I get a more positive reaction. You’ll be surprised to hear “Oh that’s cool dude, what made you pick that religion?” This is always an opportunity for da’wah (inviting to Islam).

5. Gain a connection to the Arabic language

“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur’an that you might understand.”

-The Holy Qur’an, 12:2

This is one of my favorite parts of becoming a Muslim. To be honest, I’m a language-lover and I realize everyone is not the same in this regard. Just because you failed high school Spanish though doesn’t mean you will have trouble with Arabic. There are many tricks to learning the language that I won’t go into here, but there are ways to make this easier on yourself. These methods can be found online or in books; with a little research you can pave your way to gaining an understanding of Arabic.

Start by learning the alphabet and connecting letters together. You can learn this in an afternoon if you know someone that is a native Arabic speaker (but go at your own pace). Sit on that for a while and eventually you will be able to follow along in the Qur’an if you listen to a recitation on your computer or MP3 player. You will start to recognize words, after which you can get into simple grammar rules. I recommend learning common nouns and prepositions first (words like “in”, “on”, “for” and “with”).

Arabic can be really enjoyable, and you are bound to gain an Islamic vocabulary after listening to talks or lectures. Eventually you will know meanings of words like “furqaan” and “sajdah” and you’ll be able to use them in conversations with Muslims. Sabr (patience) is essential!

6. Understand Islam’s organic nature

“Those who make things hard for themselves will be destroyed. (He said it three times.)”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Muslim)

Coming to Islam will sometimes put you in a situation where you are overwhelmed with opinions that are hard to follow. As an example, one might be told that you have to wash your feet every time you make wudhu (ablution) unless you wipe over leather socks that have been worn from your previous wudhu. For most Americans, the idea of wearing leather socks is something that we find extremely unusual. If we do a little research, we find there are opinions of scholars that mention the permissibility of wiping over cotton socks (even ones with holes in them!). To an American convert, these opinions can cause a huge sigh of relief.

7. Maintain your Identity

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

-The Holy Qur’an, 49:1

Being a Muslim is a huge part of your identity now. That doesn’t mean you can’t barbeque with your friends or watch football on Sundays. If there are things in your culture that do not directly contradict with basic Islamic creed, then you are welcome to keep those things in your life. You do not need to start wearing Arab or Indian clothing. As long as your clothes cover what they are supposed to cover, you are in the clear.

Many converts are also exposed to really weird food that is overly spicy or funny tasting. This might lead us to think that eating curry is sunnah or something righteous. We can still have our own culture and tastes in food: pot roast and beans are still halal!

There are many other examples of things that you will be exposed to that are from foreign cultures and do not necessarily have anything to do with Islam. Our goal as new Muslims is to worship Allah (swt), not to add a Pakistani or Arab identity to our persona.

It is good to have a teacher who understands the subtleties of different opinion in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and can inform you of differences among the scholars on issues that are of concern. Most people in masajid will have a very limited view of the juristic possibilities inside the Islamic tradition. Islam is a vast tradition and we should not make it small. These diverse opinions are there to help us, not cause strain on ourselves.

8. Force yourself to go to the masjid

“The person who receives the greatest reward for the Salah is one who lives the farthest and has the farthest to walk.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Bukhari, Muslim)

Going on Fridays is a given, but I would also recommend trying to fit a few prayers (at least) per week in the masjid. This will open many doors for you and will insha’Allah grant many good deeds to your account. You will meet people who are connected to Islam; networking opportunities are more readily available; and you are bound to make long-lasting friends. This is one of the things that I really love about Islam, that you can almost always find people in the masjid.

Although this may be hard initially, try and go to the masjid. The payoff will be huge, even if you just pray and leave right after. You will eventually warm up to the community and you can feel more comfortable going to the masjid whenever you like.

9. Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties

“On the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty will proclaim: “Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade where there is no shade but Mine.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Muslim)

Saying “As-salamu ‘Alaykum” ( “Peace be upon you”)  to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe.

Also, don’t sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who Allah (swt) will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.

10. Avoid Loneliness

“Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ? (Muslim)

This is a major problem in the convert community. We are lonely. The best thing we can do to fight the feeling of loneliness is to spend as much time as possible with good company. Having dinners with people a few nights a week is a sure way to maintain a good attitude. The practice of becoming a nun or a monk is alien to Islam; we are social creatures and Islam recognizes this.

Try not to lock yourself away in your apartment to avoid the world. This will just cause a vicious cycle that will cause deep depression and can lead to searching for solace in haram (unlawful).

Make it an obligation on yourself to remain a sociable human being. It takes a lot of work but the result is happiness and contentment in life.

11. Stay away from extremism

“And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people.”

-The Holy Qur’an, 2:143

Most converts do not enter Islam looking for an extremist point of view. Unfortunately, we have seen some converts do end up overseas working for terrorist organizations. This is something that can happen from a person feeling victimized or ostracized by their own culture and being overcome with anger.

I personally have not had a problem with anyone trying to “radicalize” me. It does happen enough though that it should be a concern. It will be best for you to keep your head on your shoulders and not get caught up with extreme points of view. Know that all of the scholars overseas and in America have absolutely refuted terrorism in their fatawa (legal rulings). Extremism is on the very edges of the Islamic thought. Do your best to stay on a middle way.

12. Do not despair

“So know that victory is with patience, and relief is with distress and that with hardship comes ease.”

-The Prophet Muhammad ?

Being a convert to Islam, you will face a lot of tribulations. There is not anything that you cannot overcome though, and never despair in Allah (swt).

Allah (swt) guided to you to Islam, you searched for the answer and you found it. Be happy and constantly remind yourself of the blessings in your life. There are a lot of good things that will happen to you and you are on the straight road to Jannah (paradise). Rejoice in being Muslim. Remember the Sahabah (companions) were all converts to Islam and they were human beings that came from Adam and Eve just like you! Be strong and find comfort in your prayers and worship to Allah (swt). The first six months were the hardest for me, and insha’Allah we will all continue to grow as a convert community in America.

Friends, I hope these have been some benefit to you. If you have any questions or comments for me, feel free to use the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can! As always, May Allah keep you all blessed, happy, healthy and safe. Ameen

Love, Amani 🙂

 

Preparing Yourself For Ramadan!

As Salam Alaikum friends! I’ve been away a while and have gotten a writer’s block, unfortunately, but I’m back and I’ve missed you all! 🙂

Today’s post is about preparing for the wonderful month of Ramadan, which is quickly approaching. This year (2012), in the USA, Ramadan begins on Friday, July 20th. Note that most Muslims start observing the celebration the night before at sunset, which would be on the 19th, Insha’Allah.

Although Ramadan is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, since the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This difference means Ramadan moves in the Gregorian calendar approximately 11 days every year. The date of Ramadan may also vary from country to country depending on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

A little explanation about the holy month of Ramadan:

Observance of Ramadan is also mandated in the Quran’s second chapter, verses 183-185.

During the month of Ramadan, adult Muslims engage in ritual fasting from sunup to sundown. This practice, Sawm, which is the same as fasting, is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse. Each evening, Muslims will break the fast at sundown with Iftar, a traditional meal often beginning with the eating of dates — an homage to a practice of Muhammad.

All Muslims are expected to observe the fast once they reach the age of puberty.

In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds that are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations — anger, cursing, greed, etc. As part of this, service to the community and to those in need is a major emphasis of activity throughout the month.

The holiday of Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, takes place on the first day of the following month and celebrates the completion of the 30 days of fasting. On this day, morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebration among family and friends. Eid is a day of great thanksgiving for Muslims — an opportunity to show their gratitude for making it through the month of fasting and a chance to share their blessings with others.

There some exceptions as far as those who are not obligated to fast. People who are ill, pregnant and breastfeeding women (if they feel it would harm the baby), someone traveling, a woman during her menses (but must resume once menses ends), one who is not in a healthy state of mind, children, elderly if they are not healthy. Some of these reasons are only temporary and must be made up before the next Ramadan.

Preparing yourself for Ramadan:

Here are some ideas that may be of use to you as ways to help you prepare for fasting Ramadan.

1. To help condition your heart for this blessed month, intensify your worship before Ramadan begins. Just a small, consistent amount is enough. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us: “The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

For example, say I always pray 2 raka (units )of sunnah (compulsory prayer) after isha’ (the night prayer) from this day until Ramadan begins—and even through Ramadan, let me make the intention that I will now pray 2 extra raka of sunnah after isha’. And every time I pray these extra 2 raka, which are more than what I normally pray, let me remember that I am doing these with the intention of asking Allah (swt) to help me be prepared to strive and exert my utmost effort during Ramadan.

2. Make a Dua list! This is THE MONTH to ask for EVERYTHING, both related to this life and the Next. Let us not wait until the last 10 nights to make special dua, and then once `Eid passes realize that we completely forgot about fifty other things we needed to make dua’ for. Let’s start making our lists now, and add to it as more things come our way. Insha’Allah this should help us remember to make constant dua’ in this month where dua is accepted, and help our hearts pour out to the One Who can make those dua happen, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

3. Write out your objectives for Ramadan. Praying all of your fard (obligatory) prayers? Praying all of your sunnahs? Reading the entire Qur’an? Giving $1 in charity a day? Making itikaaf (a time for reflection and prayer in seclusion) in the masjid? Leaving one serious sin that you’ve been trying to get away from for some time now? Sincerely turning back to Allah (swt)? Write out a list, put it somewhere you will see it, and make dua’ for your success in fulfilling your objectives.

4. Make a plan. Look at your objectives and try to plan out how to realize them in this month. For example, perhaps you are really struggling to pray your sunnah prayers. In this month, realize the enormity of the ajr (reward) of praying the sunnah prayers. Think that perhaps these sunnah will be the deeds that will be heavy on your scale of good deeds when you are intensely in need of them—on Yawm al-Qiyamah, the Day of Judgment. Therefore, fight to keep doing them all throughout Ramadan. If you can’t pray your 2 raka after dhuhr (the afternoon prayer) right away, make sure to do them as soon as you get the chance.

These are just some simple ways to ready yourself this year.

So many Muslims have passed away since last month. So many people have not made it to Ramadan this year. Last year was their very last Ramadan. Will you make it to this Ramadan? Will this be your last Ramadan?

Aim to strive this Ramadan. With a very small amount of effort, such as just making a small intention or adding a few extra acts of worship, we pray that Allah (swt) will help our hearts soften and honor us with making it easy to turn to Him and open up to Him.

May Allah (swt) make us of the successful in Ramadan, and make it easy for us to turn to Him completely and perpetually. Ameen.

Love, Amani

Just a few Islamophobic leading politicians and opinion makers in the USA….See their comments….

As Salam Alaikum friends! I hope you are all having a great morning so far.

So, Ive been thinking about prejudices and phobics lately. We all know there are prejudices against all types of people, races, religions, etc, but I found a couple to be most disturbing while reading lately. Islamophobia is on the rise and here are a just a few leading politicians and opinion makers in the United States (my own country!) comments on Islam and Muslims, etc.

  • “The nation has been invaded by a fanatical, murderous cult… We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.” – Syndicated columnist Ann Coulter, National Review Online, September 2001
  • “We’re not attacking Islam, but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He’s not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It’s a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion.” – Franklin Graham, NBC Nightly News, November 2001
  • “Islam is, quite simply, a religion of war, and Muslims should be encouraged to leave. They are a fifth column in this country.” – Lloyd Lind, Free Congress Foundation
  • “I think Mohammed was a terrorist.” – Jerry Falwell, on CBS 60 Minutes, October 2002
  • “I believe that Muslims in this country are a fifth column…The vast majority of Muslims in this country are very obviously loyal, not to the United States, but to their religion…the reason they are here is to take over our culture and eventually take over our country…You think we should befriend them; I think we should kill them.” – Jay Severin, host of a popular Boston area morning talk show on WTKK-FM, April 2004
  • “Muslims attacked us because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and roots are Judeo-Christian and the enemy is a guy named Satan…We in the army of God, in the house of God, in the kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this,” – LT. General William G. Boykin, October 2003

Can’t ya just feel the hate here? Wow…well the statements speak for themselves and these are the types of people of our news stations, media, government and MILITARY!!! No wonder Americans who don’t know Islam are swayed to think of it as evil :/

In closing…May Allah keep you happy, healthy and safe Ameen

Love, Amani

 

What Happened to our Ummah?!

As Salam Alaikum friends. I hope you are well today and having a great day. I’m actually having a very good day today because I got to spend some time with a woman who is looking to studying Islam and eventually revert. Masha’Allah! She’s actually a neighbor of mine and I believe Allah brought us together under odd circumstances though, none the less lol. She has asked me to help her study! Alhamdulilah, masha’Allah…what an honor to teach someone the deen!

I felt compelled for a while now to write whats been in my heart about our Muslim community (ummah). Ummah, an Islamic Arabic term, means “community” or “nation”. Now the reason I wanted to write about this today is because the sister I am helping told me that she could not find any other willing sisters to help her study and learn our beautiful Islam! I was shocked but in a way I wasn’t.

It never ceases to amaze me anymore, with all the “every man/woman for him/herself” mentality going around. This is not Islam brothers and sisters. Our ummah is in trouble and has been for many years. My belief is that after our beloved Prophet died, and his companions, so did our ummah. No longer can we count on each other to take time out of our days to help another in need. Yet, we can be on Facebook (me too) and watch T.V., or any other thing that we do that takes away from our duties as Muslims. I am also guilty of this as well, which lead me to change in a small way by helping this young woman out. It makes me feel wonderful knowing dawah is happening! I also consider her a friend as well which as we know Allah brings us together for many reasons.

Next time you see someone sitting alone in the masjid, please, at least say your salams and maybe ask how they are. Especially if they are a new face. In my previous blog about my recent trip to the masjid, I stressed that it was an unpleasant experience, as it was. And it wasn’t the first time no one spoke to me while being alone and after giving my salams. This is exactly what I’m talking about. UMMAH!!! What happened to it?!!

What’s the solution? There may be many ways to help the situation. First off, passing judgement on other brothers and sisters of Islam ruins community (ummah). Lets face it, who wants to learn from or be around someone who is always judging them. Instead politely correct if you can, those things that you see may be wrong. It’s then up to the person to correct and for Allah to judge. Another way is to, again, reach out to others in need. Welcome new reverts with open arms as they are the fragile ones and there is currently no care for them. They take their shahada….everyone is all “Masha’Allah!!”, then BAM!, everyone’s gone! Where did everyone go. It doesn’t stop at the welcome into Islam. It should be a constant help towards those in need. I need to remind myself in this also as with everything I am writing, which is why I wanted to blog this topic.

Also, if you can, volunteer in the Muslims community for things such as helping other learn Arabic or English, which ever you speak and depending on the need. Help others learn some surahs to help them with their prayers. Teach someone that’s just reverting the 5 pillars of Islam as they are the fundamentals.

There are many other ways that I may not even be aware of but I ask if you can please comment with your suggestions. Also, what are your feelings about the state of our Ummah?

As always, May Allah keep you happy, healthy and safe. Ameen.

Love, Amani

 

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