islamic notes

Welcoming Ramadan

Sunnahs of the Prophet (saw) during Ramadan

I attended a welcoming Ramadan workshop a couple of days ago. Sharing some notes on the sunnah of the Prophet (saw) during the month of Ramadan that were discussed during the workshop. 

a. Having suhoor

Having suhoor is the sunnah of Prophet (saw). Many of us skip this sunnah by eating before sleeping and waking up later to pray fajr. 

Irbadh (RA) narrates that Prophet (saw) said while calling a person to suhoor: “Come towards the meal of Barakah” (Abu Daud). 

Do not skip suhoor this Ramadan for it’s a sunnah and there is barakah in it. Having something sweet in suhoor is also a sunnah. 

Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that Prophet saw said that the best suhoor is khajoor.

b. Increase in worship

We strive to get more and more taqwa in the month of Ramadan – attaining taqwa is to stop everything that is disliked by Allah. Prophet (saw) used to increase the amount of all kinds of worship in Ramadan: dhikr, salah, nawafil, recitation of the holy Quran, staying up the night to worship. Make it a goal to increase in worship to maximize the ajar this Ramadan.

c. Decrease sleep in Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, Prophet (saw) used to decrease the number of hours he slept and used to spend that time in worship. Decreasing the sleep is also a way to train our nafs. 

Aisha (RA) narrated that Prophet (saw) slept less during the earlier days of Ramadan (as compared to non-ramadan), and in the last ten days of Ramadan he’d almost stop sleeping (Subul al Hadi)

d. Decrease in food consumption

There is a relationship between our outside actions and inward feelings. If we eat more in Ramadan than we do everyday then the entire purpose of training our nafs and fasting is defeated. Eating too much food makes us feel lethargic and diverts our focus from other activities. Going into a food coma after iftar and not wanting to do anything after is not the purpose of iftar. During Ramadan, Prophet saw used to be so busy in worship that he wouldn’t get time for food.  

Aisha (RA) narrated that Prophet (saw) would eat his night meal at the time of suhoor during the last ten days of Ramadan. (Subul al Hadi)

e. Waking up family for worship during nights of Ramadan

Do Qiyam-al-Layl during ramadan and encourage your family members and loved ones to stay up the night in worship as well.

 Aisha (RA) narrates that when the last ten days of Ramadan started Prophet (saw) would get busy in worship for complete nights and would also wake his family up for worship and would separate himself from his wives. (Muslim)

f. Complete recitation of the Holy Quran

Finish at least one Quran in Ramadan and recite it properly – recite it the way Prophet saw did. Reciting the Arabic has its own reward and blessings and learning the translation and tafseer has its own.

 Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that every year (in Ramadan) Sayyidna Jibrael would read out Quran to Prophet (saw) once, and the year when the Prophet (saw) passed away, Jibrael (AS) read it out to Prophet twice. (Bukhari) 

There is a special connection between Quran and Ramadan so read as much Quran as you can.

g. Taking shower

Even taking a shower can become ibadah if you make the intention of following the sunnah of our Prophet (saw). 

A companion narrated that I saw Prophet (saw) pouring water on himself due to intense heat. (Abu Daud)

h. Using Miswak.

Using miswak while fasting is a sunah and should be practiced. Miswak doesn’t break the fast.

Rabeea (rA) narrates that I saw Prophet (saw) do miswak while fasting many times. 

i. Encouraging children to fast

Muawwaz (RA) narrates that we used to make children fast; when we would go to the mosque we’d arrange a toy fro them made of wool and even if they cried, we’d give them food at iftar time. (Muslim).

The goal behnd this practice was to introduce children close to maturity to the concept of fasting so that when the time comes, they are mentally prepared. At the age of 7, start encouraging them and when the fast is obligated upon them they are acquainted with the practice and have less difficulty fasting.

j. Sunnah of Iftar

It’s a sunnah not to delay the iftaar: 

Qutba bin Qatadah narrates that Prophet (saw) would break his fast as soon as the sunset. (Ahmad)

It’s a sunnah to conclude fast with fresh dates, dry dates or water: 

Anas (RA) narrates that if there were no fresh dates then the Prophet (saw) would break his fast with dry dates and if there were no dry dates then he’d break his fast with few sips of water. (Tirmidhi)

k. Searching for the night of Qadr

Make special arrangements and schedule changes to permit yourself to search for the night of Qadr in the last ashore. 

Aisha (RA) narrates that the Prophet (saw) said: Search for the night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of ramadan. (Bukhari)

Dua for the night of Qadr:

l. Practice Itikaaf

Prophet (saw) use to practice itikaf (spiritual retreat) to search for the night of Qadr. Itikaf is when you seclude yourself form others in order to focus on worshiping Allah (swt). Prophet saw did Itikaaf persistently throughout his life.

Aisha (RA) narrates that Prophet (saw) performed itikaaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he passed away, and after that, his wives used to do itikaaf. (Bukhari)

Nowadays, people take it lightly and do not understand its significance. If a person is able to do itikaaf, then it’s highly recommended that he does so in the last 10 days of Ramadan.

Let’s strive to follow as many sunnahs as we can this Ramadan inshallah!

I don’t grow a beard for religious reasons, or for any reason that could place me along the spectrum of being a hipster (though, I will admit, the thought of it is appealing as a disguise if for nothing else). No, I keep my beard because a thick black beard on a brown male disturbs people; it makes them uneasy and allows for the insensitive bigot in them to come out and play.

I keep a beard because if I was white, no one would question it or treat it or me otherwise. But because I’m brown, everyone suddenly pays attention. They do everything with suddenly more caution, shift their eyes more, breathe heavier. And most of all, are waiting for an opportunity to throw generations worth of vitriol my way (a large majority of which has undoubtedly been passed down from their parents. and their parents before them, and so on).

And I can’t wait. Because you see, it is in these moments that a human being is not only this vile, inconsiderate, and in an overall deplorable state, but also the most vulnerable to revealing their weaknesses: that they, as people, are not fortunate enough to want to share in the story of another people, or perhaps were not fortunate enough to be taught to share in the journey; to act as a neighbour, or more importantly, a host (WE are the parasites after all).

No, there’s something more that goes untold in all that anger and rage against a coloured body, but above all the fear. The fear of losing ground (or jobs, whichever way you want to look at it), the fear of changing one’s ways (arguably to a better one but who wants to argue with the dense and the dull), to give way to the future (full of unseasoned food and microwave dinners? - I think not! and to think they call US villains??!!).

I mean, come on! If I inherited this land from my birth after my forefathers had raped and pillaged and forcefully taken it from people who had potentially lived on it for centuries, and then suddenly some aliens showed up one day and had said that they left everything behind for a new life here, well damn I’d be afraid of them too. Because starting over from nothing is impossible, even frightening, to comprehend to people who started with everything.

So when I am told to trim my beard, or cut it, or rid of it altogether by people who care for my wellbeing, I scoff at the idea of giving up such a valuable opportunity at performance art. Because my beard not only exists to disturb people who harbour negative feelings against me, but to remind them that I exist. And that I will go on existing despite how they feel. And that the stronger they feel, the more willing I am to exist to remind them, to demand from them, my claim of space and the respect that I duly deserve.

—  Nav K, the revolution growing on my face (on being a black-bearded, brown super villain)
Things to do in pursuit of happiness

• Wake up for Tahajjud prayers at least once a week.
• Fast on Mondays and Thursdays. And the white days every month.
• Spread salaam to those whom you know and those who you don’t know. The full salaam.
• Send peace and blessings upon the prophet Muhammad, everyday. Salla Allaahu ‘alayhi wassalam.
• Read the morning and evening and sleep adhkaar every day without fail.
• Read at least one page of the Qur-aan with the translation a day. Gradually increase.
• Dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to read from tafseer Ibn Kathir. Take notes.
• Aim to memorise the Qur-aan. Make the intention and set realistic goals.
• Have the Qur-aan or a beneficial tape playing anytime you can. When you’re getting ready in the morning… Brushing your teeth, washing your face, eating your breakfast, driving, cooking… Etc.
• At least 15 mins a day to listen and FOCUS on an Islamic reminder/audio. Or read out of an Islamic book. Take notes.
• Lower your gaze.
• Don’t talk to opposite gender without reason.
• Try to pray as soon as the time has been called.
• Pray the sunnah prayers.
• Do the adkhaar after each prayer. Astaghfirullaah. Alhamdulillaah. SubhaanAllaah. Allaahu akbar. Ayaatul kursi. Du'aa.
• Kiss your parents. Hug your parents. Smile at your parents. Serve your parents. Be kind, be kind, be kind.
• Give small gifts.
• Smile to people and say hello.
• Tell people you love them.
• Keep in regular touch with your relatives, even if its through a text.
• Give bottles of water to strangers on a hot day.
• Give glasses of water to those close to you on a hot day. And a normal day.
• Hold the door open for people.
• Offer the seat you have to someone.
• Make genuine du'aa for those you think of, those who ask you to, and those who you you say you will to.
• Think of your brothers and sisters around the world, the situations they’re in and pray for them.
• Attend the masjid regularly for prayer and talks. Think of the angels surrounding you and supplicating for you.
• Treat people according to your manners and values, not theirs.
• Eat your greens. Exercise. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. Shower. Exfoliate. Moisturise your skin. Wear clean clothes.
• Know you can’t please everyone. And forgive the mean ones.
• Do it all for His sake.
• Beg for jannatul firdous. Beg for jannatul firdous. Beg for jannatul firdous.

You will fall again and again. It’s in your nature. Just don’t stop getting up. Keep struggling and striving till you get there. Because eventually, by His will, you will.

Note to self

Spend time by yourself. Not locked away in your room, but out somewhere alone like a park. The prophet (‎ﷺ) would sit in the mountains and reflect on his own for weeks. He would make tawbah and read the Qur'an, so we should do the same. Take in and appreciate the beauty of this world because we will never return once we die, so thank Allah for everything He created.

Ways to grow your soul

Recitation of the Quran is the first thing you need to do to grow your soul. Within the sunnah you see a strong emphasis on recitation. Any human being who wants to attain closeness to Allah needs to open the Quran and read it. If you don’t do it, you have lost the most powerfool tool to grow ur soul. For every letter that’s recited you receive ten rewards. If you read the translation and commentary only, perhaps you should make an effort to learn to read the Arabic because the reward that is mentioned in the Quran and the hadith has nothing to do with translation, it has to do with articulation.

Salawat on the Prophet (saw) is the second thing that would help your soul grow. It fulfills the mandate of the Quran: 

إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا 
 "Verily Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet, O you who believe! Send you also blessings on him, and salute him with submission”. [33:56]

This is the only act of worship that Allah says that I do, my angels do it so you should also do it. By doing so, you don’t benefit rasoolAllah (saw) in anyway. It is a reflexive act: you send salawat on rasoolAllah, it reflects back with ten salawat on you. You bring blessings upon yourself and it gets presented to rasoolAllah. It connects you to the Prophet (saw) and its barakah will connect your hearts. If you can’t do it abundantly, even once in the morning and once in the evening would be sufficient for ur soul to grow.

It’tibah-e-sunnah is the third thing that causes your soul to grow. It’tibah-e-sunnah means internalizing the following of rasoolAllah (saw). Following his sunnah is the magnet that draws Allah’s love, and Allah’s love is the most tasty food for our souls. By following him, what we are doing is turning on our magnet so that it attracts Allah’s love.
For every sunnah that you follow you end up making yourself that much more beautiful to Allah. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” [Muslim :911]
Therefore, what attracts the attention of Allah is the sunnah. When you put on makeup and dress all pretty, you might be attracting the attention of others around you but to attract the love of Allah, we require the sunnah, and ecstasy lies in finding in every tiny sunnah of rasoolAllah and following that sunnah from head to toe, from heart to soul.

Notes from a lecture by Shaykh Dr Hussain.

As muslims we’re supposed to show kindness to everybody. It is innate within our religion, to be respectful and kind.

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught love, kindness and compassion to his people, and was seen to be the most loving, kind, and compassionate of all of them that even the non-believers could not lie about those attributes.

The Qur'an mentions his kind and gentle behaviour in these words:

“O Messenger of Allah! It is a great Mercy of God that you are gentle and kind towards them; for, had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would all have broken away from you” (Quran 3:159).

When making du'aa remember that Allah is Ar-Rahman, He is Ar-Raheem, He is Al-Ghafoor, He is Al-Mutakabbir, He is Al-Ali, He has 99 beautiful names that show us that He is Allah the one and only. He has the power to give you whatever you want. Allah tells us in Surah Ghafir “Call upon Me, I will respond to you.” So pray for BIG things, things that seem difficult to fathom, things that blow your mind. Don’t limit yourself to what you ask of Him.

Let it go

Do not feel remorse over that which is not in your hands. Do not think that you could have prevented the fence from falling, the water from flowing, the wind from blowing, or the glass from breaking. You could NOT have prevented these things, whether you wanted to or not. All that has been preordained shall come to pass. Surrender yourself to your taqdeer (fate) before anger and regret overwhelm you. If you have done all that was in your power, and afterwards what you had been striving against sill takes place, have firm faith that it was meant to be. Do not say ‘ Had I done such-and-such, such-and-such would have happened’; rather say ‘ This is decree of Allah, and what He wishes, He does.’

Do not be in despair: it is impossible for things to remain the same. The days and years rotate, the future is unseen and every day Allah has matters to bring forth. Just leave things on Allah and believe Him when He says : And verily, with hardship there is relief. 

[ Notes from today’s Khutbah]

Make sure you have a strong support system, and realize that sometimes we have to let go of the people we once loved so much when they emotionally abuse us. There is a difference between someone giving you advice that you don’t want to hear and someone taking jabs at who you are because of their own insecurities. Don’t be afraid to cut people off. Allah gives and takes.