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July 30, 2013

Day 21 – Must’ve Been Last Night

Every morning after these blessed last nights, you will see statuses accompanied by pictures of beautiful nature that read like: “Im sure laylatul Qadr was last night, did you see the sun last night”, “The beautiful light rain today makes me so sure”, “Ive never felt the tranquility that I felt last night”, etc.

While it’s awesome that people are looking for it, one thing you don’t want to happen is to think that laylatul qadr has already happened on the 21st night and slack off with the last 9! So again, the only way to make sure you catch laylatul qadr is by witnessing all of the nights in worship.

But that’s not what this resolution is about. I particularly want to focus on that “feeling” that people have of tranquility that makes them so sure that the previous night was laylatul qadr. That feeling is not necessarily laylatul qadr. That feeling is the epic feeling of qiyamul layl (the night prayer) which is possible to attain throughout the year. That is the feeling of conversing with the Lord of the worlds while others sleep. That is the nightly effect of the Lord of all the worlds descending during the last third of the night in a way that befits His majesty, and inviting the caller to a special conversation.

My point is that when you seclude yourself in worship during the night and call upon your Lord in love, hope, and fear, you WILL get that “feeling” no matter what night it is. So my suggestion is to choose any night of every month, or any night of the week, or once every 3 nights, etc., create that 27th night type of environment and excitement in your home, and I guarantee you’ll feel that amazing tranquility every time!

July 31, 2013

Day 22 – Cyber I’itikaf

The world of the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand: it provides us access to Islamic lectures/information and allows us to establish the ties of friendship and family. On the other hand: it provides us access to not so Islamic things and allows us to destroy our ties of friendship and family with a dumb email or an ill-mannered form of writing (Ref. #RamadanResolution Day 19). So lets face it, it really can go both ways. But one of the greatest casualties of increased Internet usage is our ability to engage in tadabbur (reflection) and tafakkur (contemplation). In fact, you may notice people, even in I’itikaf (seclusion) in the masjid these last 10 nights, who never part with their smart phones. And no, they’re not all just reading Quran We’re just so addicted to the internet/phone/ipad that we don’t know what to do with ourselves anymore without these things and so we never experience the true sweetness of alone time.

All of the pious predecessors were known to have an hour of the day, a day of the week, etc. in which they would completely seclude themselves from everyone including family. In our day and age, even when we seclude ourselves we still take calls, check emails, and update statuses.

So here’s a tip for your sanity and mine. Spend some time every week in cyber I’itikaf. That means no phone calls, no FB statuses, no tweets, etc. Just focus on answering the call of Allah, checking the status of your faith, and tweeting your love to your Lord.

August 1, 2013

Day 23 – Before You Share

You know that feeling when something amazing happens to you and you cant wait to share it with the world? Learn to wait. Here’s why:

1. When any good news came to the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) or if a calamity had been averted, he would immediately fall in prostration (sajdatul shukr) and thank Allah for it. This is a beautiful sunnah that should be practiced all the time and not just for major occasions like graduations, new homes, etc.

2. Take a few moments to really deeply say al hamdulila from the depths of your heart. That will be a form of maintaining that blessing as Allah will see your sincere gratitude.

3. Some of the scholars say that one of the reasons Allah did not allow Zakariyya (alayhis salam) to speak for 3 days except for words of praise was to bestow a greater appreciation of the blessing upon him. Al Baghawi (ra) said that is because sometimes when you speak about your blessings to others immediately, you lose yourself in your excitement.

So from now on when something good happens to you, hold off on the phone call, text, email, or status. Say takbeer, go into prostration, say subhana rabbi al a’ala the way you do in your prostration in prayer, AND add a personal note of dua and thanks to Allah from the depths of your heart before you rise.

August 2, 2013

Day 24 – Post-Worship Convo

While we’re on the subject of being silent, it is authentically narrated in Bukhari and Muslim by Abi Bardah that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) used to dislike sleeping before the Isha prayer and speaking after it. Now obviously back then, the people used to plan, function, and schedule around the sun. Therefore, they would start their days bright and early and sleep early also. These days, speaking after Isha is for many the only time of the day we can socialize and gather with friends and family. But that’s not the point of this resolution. What Im concerned with is why the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) disliked speaking after Isha. There are several reasons and the scholars also mentioned that this dislike did not include beneficial speech. Imam Al Nawawi (ra) says in his explanation of the hadeeth:

“As for speech which serves a good interest, it is not disliked. Such speech includes seeking knowledge, telling stories of the righteous, speaking to a guest or to a bride to put them at ease (ie. Give advice), speaking kindly to your spouse and children, speaking to travellers in regards to their accommodations or luggage, speaking to reconcile between people and intercede between them for a good cause, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, guiding people to goodness, etc. All of these are not disliked after Isha.”

So obviously the type of speech that is disliked is idle speech and harmful speech which is always prohibited. The scholars mentioned many reasons for that. Amongst those reasons is that a person should go to sleep in a state of goodness and remembrance as he may not wake up the next morning (Ref. #RamadanResolution Day 14).

Another reason though is that at times you depreciate your worship by speaking afterwards, and that’s what this resolution is about. Sometimes you attend a khutbah, lecture, prayer, even a janaza, and just as youre in the zone, your friend starts talking to you about things that are of no benefit (though they may be permissible in their nature). As a result, even though you were crying 5 minutes ago, you lost what could’ve been an hour of reflection.

So my recommendation to myself and to everyone, is that whenever we attend a lecture, prayer, etc. we avoid talking about useless things immediately after so that we can let what we’ve attained settle in. If you were able to cry in a lecture or prayer, don’t spoil those tears by immediately replacing them laughter. Go home and capitalize on that moment. Likewise, when you go to a lecture or class with family and friends, try to use the ride home to share points of benefit so that the lecture doesn’t go to waste. This will actually build bonds for the sake of Allah and transform that lecture into a meaningful turning point in our lives. May Allah keep our hearts firm and our sincerity intact. ameen

August 3, 2013

Day 25 – Inspired Clothing

The Hijab has become an issue of much controversy in our community. On one hand, you have some who wear the hijab and become complacent with their acts or worship while forgetting their sins, and can even at times be judgmental towards non-hijabis. In this case, the substance of the hijab is lost and reduced to a piece of cloth.

On the other hand, you have some who feel independent of the hijab, feel like they can just do other acts of worship in place of that obligation, and some who even no longer consider it an obligation. And believe it or not, though to a lesser extent, I’ve seen some non-hijabis who are just as judgmental towards hijabis. In this case, the form of the hijab is lost and reduced to either a matter of culture or a voluntary good deed.

In both cases, the hijab is the casualty. So let me be clear about this before proceeding:

1. The hijab is by the Quran, Sunnah, and Consensus of Muslim scholars for 1400 years, an obligation.
2. You cannot say that the one who doesn’t wear the hijab isn’t a real Muslim. She may be excelling in other aspects of faith despite falling short of this obligation.
3. Those other aspects of faith do not absolve one of the obligation of hijab, nor does wearing hijab absolve one of the other obligations.
4. No one of us knows who is most beloved to Allah amongst us and that should not even be included in this discussion.

Now with that being said, there is no greater time to start wearing the Hijab than this month. I know many sincere sisters who are hesitant to start and what better time than these fleeting moments of Ramadan? This is a blessed opportunity to show Allah that you’re turning the page and ready to take your faith a step further for His sake. Hijab is amongst the symbols of taqwa (piety) for which fasting has been revealed. You are showing Allah that His sight is far greater and more beloved to you than the cheap gazes of man. It is an outward expression of an inner realization. My dear sister, take that step now as you do not know what the future holds. It’ll be tough, but seek the support of other sisters and more importantly inner strength from Allah.

Yes, I may be a guy and not understand how hard it is. But Allah is the Creator and has legislated it while saying that he doesn’t task a soul beyond its scope. And so it is only a sincere advice from your brother.

And as a note to ALL, lets encourage one another to do good as Allah tells us in the Quran. Don’t put people down but instead help them realize what they’re capable of. When you know a sister struggling with hijab, don’t tell her off but instead encourage her. And if you know a sister whose hijab isn’t perfect, don’t make her feel like she’s made no sacrifice at all and might as well not be wearing hijab in the first place but instead help her complete it. And if you know a sister who JUST started wearing hijab, celebrate that occasion by giving her a gift, throwing her a party, etc. as a means of showing her that you are there for her to help her fulfill this obligation.

May Allah bless ALL of our sisters and brothers, and guide us to that which is most pleasing to Him. Ameen

PS. I would love to see some words of encouragement below from sisters who recently started wearing hijab. Share your story and you never know whom you might inspire. Jazakumullah khayr

August 4, 2013

Day 26 – The Illusion of Tomorrow

When we are vulnerable or weak, we tend to make a lot of promises to Allah. How many times do you here “Oh Allah if you give me this, then I’ll start praying”, or “I’ll stop selling haram”, or “I’ll stop committing this sin”, etc. The implication of that form of supplication Is that Allah hasn’t already given you enough of a reason for repentance.

It’s only natural that the aspects of faith that are convenient to us will find greater acceptance amongst the masses. But the fact of the matter is that the word “deen”, which is often translated as religion, actually comes from the word “dayn” which means debt. In principle, I am forever indebted to Allah and working to pay off that debt with all the time, health, and money that He’s given to me. He doesn’t need to give me anything else or make it any easier for me to work towards that goal. And without a doubt, we will all depend upon His mercy on the Day of Judgment as no one of us will enter paradise by virtue of his deeds.

With that being said, many people hold back on their obligations to Allah with the false certainty that they will be able to fulfill them later on in life when they become easier upon them. So you’ll often hear things like “I’ll start praying when I get out of school and have more time”, “I’ll give charity when I get rich”, “I’ll do Hajj once it falls on the holidays”, “I’ll start going to the masjid when I can move closer to it”, “I’ll wear hijab after I get married”, etc. Its almost as if you’re saying “Oh Allah, Im willing to worship you and sacrifice for you BUT only to the extent that it doesn’t hinder my pursuit of something of this world.”

The problem is that neither is tomorrow guaranteed nor those favorable circumstances that we wait for to fulfill our obligations. On the contrary, what’s guaranteed is our departure from this world and our standing in front of our Creator.

It is for that reason that Allah constantly informs us in the Quran that He will not delay a soul once it’s time comes. Therefore we should be careful not to delay our obligations or repentance even for a moment as we never know when that time will come.

So in these last few days of Ramadan, rush to the forgiveness of your Lord, the performance of your obligations, and the abandoning of all that is displeasing to Him.

Allahumma innaka 3afuwwun tuh’ibul ‘afwa fa’ffu ‘Anni (O Allah, You are the Pardoner and You love to pardon, so pardon me).

August 5, 2013

Day 27 – While You’re Ahead

As Ramadan starts to wind down, we need to ask ourselves what we can continue to do throughout the year. The most obvious deed to continue is fasting because despite how long the days have been, fasting has become your second nature by now. So it’s no coincidence that we were encouraged by the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) to follow up a month of fasting in Ramadan with 6 days of fasting in Shawwal.

Now is the time to start fasting Mondays and Thursdays and the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every Islamic month. Your body is used to it and your soul craves it. But here’s something else I would add. Although we really can’t have Ramadan outside of Ramadan, which is why the fasts will feel different, we can try to duplicate the experience as much as possible. What makes Ramadan special ASIDE from fasting is the Taraweeh prayer, Quran recitation, community/family iftars, etc. Obviously the month of Ramadan also has virtues that are completely out of our control like Laylatul Qadr, the gates of paradise opened, the gates of hell shut, etc. But for the first set of things, we should try to create a similar experience. So here are my tips:

1. Fast Mondays and Thursdays and the 3 middle days of the Islamic month

2. Invite family and friends to fast along with you

3. Organize an iftar amongst friends a few days a month that coincide with the sunnah days of fasting. This will continue to encourage one another to not let go of this habit. So rotate amongst yourselves every other Thursday or Monday, etc. This will also help build bonds for the sake of Allah and allow everyone to share in the reward of feeding the fasting.

4. Be sure to pray Qiyamul layl on those nights. I’m not attaching any significance to Qiyam on Mondays or Thursdays, but Qiyam is Sunnah EVERY night and fasting is as much about feeding the soul as it is about starving the body.

5. And finally on that note, be sure to read an extra amount of Quran on the days you are fasting. A person is undoubtedly more focused on his recitation and more aware while he is fasting.

May Allah allow us to be amongst the slaves of the Lord of Ramadan, and not Ramadan itself. May He grant us entry into Paradise through the Rayyan gate which is reserved only for those who excelled in fasting. ameen

August 6, 2013

Day 28 – Finish Strong

Depending on what part of the world you are in, you have anywhere from 1-3 days left of Ramadan. Many of us have regrets that we didn’t make the most of it. We may have had nights where we didn’t wake up for Qiyam, days in which we didn’t control our tongues properly, or spans of Ramadan in which we slacked off with our Quran reading. But now is not the time to cry. Nor is it the time to splurge in Eid shopping and act like the month is over. Reflect on this wonderful statement by Imam Ibn Rajab (RA) in his Lataaif:

“Let those who have failed to make the most of this month of Ramadan end it with good, because actions are judged by their endings.”

The last part of that statement about actions being judged by their endings is an authentic hadeeth and one that should give us much hope. Here’s my challenge:

1. Make this last day or two of Ramadan the BEST days you have spent all month and count on Allah to judge your entire Ramadan by that last day.

2. Spend the last Asr-Maghrib of Ramadan in reading Quran, supplication, and remembrance. If you can do I’itikaf (seclusion) for that last period in the masjid then do so. If not, then try to make it a time of peace, quiet, and reflection.

3. Cry your heart out in that supplication and ask Allah to forgive you for all of your shortcomings in the month and give you the full reward of Laylatul Qadr EVEN if you missed it.

4. DO NOT waste your time arguing over moon sighting now. You are not in a position to change anything. If you will differ from your community in regards to the Eid day, then do so quietly.

Oh Allah, this is what we have presented, understanding our shortcomings but still depending on Your mercy for acceptance.

May Allah allow us to finish this month strong. May we meet Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) completely forgiven, basking in His mercy, freed from the gates of hellfire, and registered in the highest level of jannatul firdaws.

AMEEN!

August 7, 2013

Day 29 – An Eid of Worship

On this joyous occasion of the coming of Eid, lets not forget that as we celebrate, we worship. Eid is a day of prayer, remembrance, and establishing the ties of kinship/friendship. Its also a day of reflection. So here are a few tips to make your Eid a spiritually enriching experience:

1. Make it a point to get to the prayer on time

2. Make it a point to listen to the khutbah (especially if you live in Dallas so that you dont distract me

3. Remember Allah on the way to the Eid prayer with the takbeerat of Eid. Try to encourage your family to do the same. It is simply awesome to have a car rumbling with takbeerat on the way to Eid and the kids will love having a halal excuse to scream.

4. Go home using a different route as per the sunnah. This is a reflection of you coming in to Ramadan and leaving as a new person.

5. Take some sweets to your neighbors and explain to them why you’re celebrating. This is a crucial dawah opportunity as well as a means of fulfilling their essential rights upon us as neighbors which is a form of worship.

6. Don’t spoil your Ramadan by celebrating Eid in impermissible ways. Consider deeply the things that you wear, the parties you go to, etc. It would be a travesty to incur the anger of Allah upon us right after the month of forgiveness.

7. Give a gift to someone you love for Allah. We already know the importance of giving gifts to family but Eid also provides an opportunity to build a stronger bond with someone who makes you a better Muslim.

With that being said, taqabalAllahu minna wa minkum (may Allah accept from us all)!!!

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