Being Positive

I seem to go through phases in which I devour documentaries. I’m currently in one of those phases. This past weekend I rewatched “The Elephant in the Living Room”. If you like animals and have ever wondered what it’d be like to own an exotic animal as a pet, this documentary is a good one. Just have a box of tissues nearby. Second time around and I still cried like a baby. I also watched “Bully”, a documentary I had heard about through work. It was also recommended to me by my best friend. Working in schools, I see on a daily basis how children are treated. I also know that more often than not, the students I work with are those who tend to be picked on the most or end up being the easiest targets. It’s a good documentary for those who work in the field of education, people who are parents or anyone who may want to see what it’s like for children who are bullied in school.

This weekend I was also introduced and finally watched my first TEDTalk. (I realize and will be the first to admit that I am way behind the curve. I know that I am most likely one of the last people to jump on this bandwagon). I can’t get enough. I watched two episodes of LifeHack TEDTalks on Netflix.

This blog post aims to share what I learned from the second one which was titled: Positive Psychology – The Happy Secret to Better Work by Shawn Achor. Not only is this guy extremely witty, he also gave such good information which I have been trying to implement into my life.

Here are a few of the gems from his short, 12-minute talk.

  • “If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”

  • “[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”

  • “When I turn on the news it seems that the majority of the news is not positive, in fact it’s negative. Most of it is about murder, corruption, diseases, natural disasters and very quickly my brain begins to think that’s the natural ratio of negatives to positives in the world.”

  • Our external world is not predictive of our internal happiness. In reality, if someone knows all of your external world they can only predict 10% of your long term happiness.

  • 90% of internal happiness is predicted by the way your brain processes the world.

  • 25% of job success is predicted by IQ

  • 75% of job success is predicted by optimism levels, ability to see stress as a challenge

  • The absence of disease is not health.

  • We’ve pushed happiness over the cognitive horizon as a society

  • If we can raise level of positivity in the present, our brain performs significantly better when at a positive level than at negative, neutral or stressed

  • Dopamine (which is released when positive) – makes you happier and turns on all learning centers in your brain, making you better able to adapt to world in different ways

  • In a two minute span of time, done 21 days in a row, you can retrain your brain to work more optimistically and successful

  • 5 Ways to create lasting positive change

  1) Write down 3 new things you are grateful for

  • brain begins to scan world for things that are positive, rather than negative

2) Journaling about one positive experience that occurred during the day

  • this lets your brain relive that positive moment

3) Exercise

  • teaches your brain that your behavior matters

4) Meditation

  • Lets your brain get over the cultural ADHD that we have created by constantly multi-tasking

5) Random acts of kindness or conscious acts of kindness

  • Gave the example of opening your inbox and writing one positive email to someone in your social circle

Today I decided that I wanted to start implementing these five steps into my life. I should start by saying that I think of myself as a pretty positive person. That being said, I wanted to try it out and see if I can tell a difference after making these five steps a part of my regular routine.

Today after work I stopped by the local running store and bought myself a brand new pair of sneakers. I had purchased new shoes last September and am pretty sure I ran them into the ground. These things have no padding or cushion left which is probably why my right knee has been bothering me and not letting me go more than a mile before it would start to throb and force me to walk.

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Since I bought the shoes and was anxious to try them out, I decided I’d drive to my new hiking/walking/jogging spot. This past weekend I found a new reservoir trail which is less than five miles from my house. You wouldn’t know it’s off a fairly busy road. Once you park your car and begin walking, you’re immediately faced with a large reservoir which looks like a natural lake. There’s a long path through the woods as well as a paved road which leads into a dirt pathway which follows along the water. There’s also tons of wildlife. I tend to see something new each time I go – a fawn, rabbits, geese, ducks and today I spotted a crane.

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My new shoes are great. I ended up running (exercise) to the end of the trail and back (3 miles!) without stopping (except to take a couple pictures). It was beautiful. It was quiet. I passed only two people the whole time I was there. When I got back to my car, I realized that my knee wasn’t throbbing. I also realized that I had committed to starting my 5 steps towards becoming positive. Remembering that I had passed a bench on my run, I turned around and jogged back. Despite being quite warm, covered up in 85 degree weather and tired from the run I knew I wanted to turn back and take advantage of the quiet spot to sit and think.

As I was running back, I glanced up towards the sky. This is what I saw.

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I had felt a few raindrops. I had noticed the clouds moving away from the sun. I wasn’t expecting to see something so beautiful.

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I spent the next 15 minutes walking back and forth trying to capture the beauty with my phone. I think sat down on the bench and began reflecting on three things that I am grateful for.

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As I was sitting on the bench, under the rainbow I noticed the group of geese in front of me. I saw this same group last Saturday when I first discovered the reservoir. It lead to start thinking about my own group. The people, friends and family, that surround me on a regular basis. Alhamdulillah, I have an amazing family. I have wonderful friends. My colleagues and students feel like extensions of my family. I couldn’t ask for a better circle.

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The second thing I felt grateful for is my location. I really love Connecticut. I’ve lived 27 out of my 28 years here, yet I am just now exploring and finding it for myself. My apartment is in a great part of the state. It’s close to my family and friends. I’m close to work and close to my Muslim community and masjid. I also keep finding these gems where I can be outside and be active. I find that I feel most connected to God is when I’m in nature. And these are the places I keep stumbling upon.

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I’m grateful for my job. There’s a very common saying- if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I do love my job. I love children. They are so funny and so honest. Tomorrow is the last day of school. While I am looking forward to summer, I know that I’ll miss the individuals I work with on a daily basis. I’ll also miss my kids. I’ve made arrangements with their parents to email back and forth in order to share our summer stories. It’s an amazing feeling to see the change in children and know that you were a part of that.

I think stopped to think about one part of my day which was most meaningful. Today was the 4th grade Moving Up ceremony. I watched with pride as one of my students walked across stage, took his certificate, read his 4th grade accomplishment and sat through an hour long ceremony. Two years ago he and I spent his entire year working on how to be a student. Words can’t express how much he has changed. He no longer tears my room apart (no exaggeration). He no longer gets upset when there is a book on the table or when he’s asked to complete a math problem. He consistently uses polite language and will sweetly greet me in the morning with, “Excuse me Miss Minor. I just wanted to say hi.” During the ceremony today, he kept looking over and giving me a thumbs up. It was just great. (journaling)

I don’t plan to spend additional time meditating. When I think of our prayers, I think we are training ourselves to quiet our minds and to focus on our conversation with God. I have heard and consistently remind myself that when I am making dua, especially in sujood, I need to be asking with a conscious heart. There are times when I am more successful than not, but alhamdulillah I have (at minimum) five times a day to practice this skill.

We’re told that it is better to do good deeds in secret, so as not to mix intentions of wanting praise from others. That being said, a coworker shared a story today which shows the impact a random act of kindness can have. After sharing the gems from the TEDTalk with my colleague, she stopped and told me how she had a really rough morning. She wasn’t feeling well. She knew that she had a 12 hour work day. She had been arguing with her husband and had given up hope that the rest of her day would go in a different direction. Then she went to get her coffee from Dunkin Donuts. She was told by the cashier that the person in front of her had paid for her order. She drove away with tears streaming down her face. That one small act turned her day around. She called her husband and apologized. She saw the positive, rather than the negative.

InshAllah I hope this post brings about something good. Something positive. I encourage you to watch the TEDTalk (and the other documentaries). Let me know if you try out some of the 5 ways to create lasting positive change.

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Mother’s Day 2013

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A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said: Your mother.

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The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother.

 

mom2

 

The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother.

mom3

 

The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim).

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And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

17:24

Quran Circle – Part 3

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This is the last and final post summarizing the information I learned during the small Quran circle halaqahs that were held at midnight during the last 10 nights of Ramadan.

It’s been four days and I already can feel a decline in my drive and motivation. Didn’t take long.. This longing to learn is motivating me to look for other ways to learn – upcoming Al Maghrib classes, online lectures and so on. If anyone has a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

Surah 31 – Surah Luqman

  • Background: Luqman was a wise person. He was not a prophet. When then should we listen and why is he mentioned in the Quran? He had wisdom.
  • Wisdom: age does not necessarily equate to wisdom
    • we get the impression that Luqman is an older person because he has wisdom, which often comes with experience
    • Hadith: wisdom is the lost possession of the believer
      • therefore, we should take it wherever we can. Seek it, obtain it.
  • Ayah 13: “Oh my dear son” – this shows us the closeness. Why is this important? It’s a reminder that the message is coming out of love. It is teaching fathers how to talk to their sons.
  • Do not associate others or anything with Allah – this is the cardinal sin
  • Ayah 14: Allah swt is giving us advice, advising us because Allah swt has the wisdom that we lack
    • Treat your parents as you want your children to treat you
    • Allah swt mentions what parents go through, reminding us how much they’ve dealt with for us
    • Other ayah: we should not even say uff to them
      • (Side note: at times my dad will catch me rolling my eyes and he’ll kindly point out and say “Hmm Becca it looks like your eyes are saying uff.” He knows too much.)
      • Uff may seem trivial but we should do things for them willingly and happily, especially after the reminder of what they’ve gone through for us
  • Allah swt mentions Himself and then immediately parents “Me and to your parents”
  • The nature of our nafs are childish. They are also made in haste. This has become the norm. Just look at our level of patience when ordering something at a restaurant or those who “need” to take out a loan for the super nice car or house they want rather than saving up.
  • Ayah 15: Have companionship with the.
      • Do this in terms that are noble and admired by that society
        • Allah swt knows people are from different cultures, this means that our ways of showing or having companionship may differ.
  • Ayah 16: “Oh my dear son” – again, coming from a place of love. This ayah describes that no matter how hidden, He can extract it on the Day of Judgment.
    • size of a mustard seed (that’s tiny)
    • within a rock, not just an ordinary stone but bedrock
    • in the heavens (this includes all of the galaxies)
    • or in the Earth (in, not on.. this could be in the core for all we know)
    • Lessons from this ayah:
      • you cannot hide from Allah swt
      • Allah swt is All-Powerful
      • Allah swt knows what is in the heart of the believer. No matter how distant you try to be from Allah swt or others, Allah swt knows it is there and will expose it on the Day of Judgement.
      • We cannot hide from Allah, what we do or say and feel.
      • If He can do this with the Heavens and Earth, He can do this with our minds – Allah swt is making an analogy
  • Ayah 17: Establish the prayer
    • this means not just praying the 5 prayers but praying them on time
    • establish them at home – the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam used to pray his sunnah prayers at home (fard in masjid). Why? He wanted his home to be a masjid as well.
    • When you miss a prayer, it is 2 sins
      • 1 = missing the prayer
      • 1 = disobeying Allah by missing it
      • When you make it up by praying it later, you can erase the sin of missing the prayer but you cannot remove or replace the second sin
  • Fill your homes with Quran. Do not be modest and read Quran secretly and quietly in your rooms. Let your spouse and children hear it. Make that a normal thing.
  • Sabr: having control over your nafs. This is the most difficult thing.
  • Puff cheeks = showing pride and arrogance. This is not just a feeling rather it is the way one moves or carries their body.
  • Do not walk freely on Earth boastfully (walking with swag)
  • Humility = lowering yourself. When you raise yourself over someone else this is arrogance.
  • There is nothing wrong with wealth as long as it doesn’t affect the way you feel around others.
  • Ayah 19: lower your voices
    • loudness, looking for that stamp of approval
    • talking loudly over others
    • talking to be heard – when there is no benefit in these conversations
  • Imam Shafi (radiAllahu anhu) used to make dua for the person be debated, asking Allah to make the truth appear on his opponent’s tongue because he didn’t want to say the truth and make the other person feel badly for being wrong

Surah Yusuf – Ayahs 15-24

  • Yusuf alayhis salaam was the second youngest of his brothers. His father recognized that there was something special about him.
  • When you have a message to share it needs to begin from a place of love.
  • Ayah 4: father recognized that Yusuf was a prophet, recognized that specialness
  • Part of this story talks about lying
    • his brothers went overboard and his father saw through it
    • one of the signs of liars is that they don’t even believe their own lies
      • Ayah 17 – wouldn’t believe us even if we told the truth
    • sign of honest people is that they speak clearly, don’t need to go out of their way
  • Patience is beautiful
    • Patience is in the first shaking – having it right away
    • We usually view it as something unpleasant.
    • Having patience is beautiful because having anger in your heart is exhausting.
      • purge yourself of negativity, rid yourself of regret and frustration
      • end up in stage of tranquility
      • regain control of yourself
  • Allah swt always has a plan for His prophets
  • Allah swt challenges people to give them opportunities
    • the stories give us lessons, a window into the opportunities we have if we have taqwa
  • Ayah 22: Allah swt gave him wisdom and knowledge
    • the order of things in the Quran is incredibly important
      • wisdom first, then knowledge
      • Allah swt gave him wisdom, this was made more important, it was wisdom that saved him
  • She was tempted. Yusuf immediately sought refuge – he knew he needed Allah swt, he recognized the difficulty
  • Ayah 24: the word ham means an extreme attraction, persistent desire
    • Allah swt recognized and knew the attraction they felt, therefore this temptation was a test
    • “wa hamma bihaa” – he lusted, felt the attraction also
      • this surah, especially these ayahs show the humanness of the prophet alayhis salaam
      • the Quran is in tune with basic emotions
  • In order to be successful you need to self discipline
  • “law laa” – impossibility
    • this is a conditional statement, he didn’t let himself go, he stopped before the feelings got out of control. He recognized the red light
  • Lesson from these ayahs?
    • when you recognize the harm, don’t let yourself fall into it
    • Yusuf alayhis salaam recognized the sign from his Creator
      • we need to see the signs, look for them
    • be in tune with your feelings and know that emotions dictate actions
    • you gain something from being patient much more than from being angry
    • Yusuf alayhis salaam had human consideration – he felt that lust for the woman but didn’t want to be unloyal to the man who took him in (her husband)
    • This surah shows us that these emotions are normal and natural, its just about whether or not you act on them.

Quran Circle – Part 2

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Polishing the Heart

  • You can only polish something that is already shiny.
  • The heart is something precious and valueable. It is something to be maintained and valued.
  • When the heart is ignored, tarnish appears. It needs to be protected from the elements which will naturally wear it down.
  • Tongue: primary cause of people who will enter the Hellfire. People don’t realize its worth and the harm it can cause.
Surah 49 ayahs 9-13
  • Allah swt commands us to act as arbitor. This is most salient between families. Many ayahs describe what Allah swt loves, this is one of them (ayah 9).
  • Hadith: the blood of a Muslim is more sacred than the Kaaba. The Kaaba can be destroyed and rebuilt. Material things can be replaced, life cannot. Muslims need to value the substance more than the symbol. Do not be of those who burn and riot and kill over issues like cartoons and Quran burnings and yet are indifferent when our brothers and sisters are being killed. Do not value the symbol more.
  • Allah swt created each of us with dignity. This dignity comes from Allah, not our human relationships.
  • All ayahs that begin with “O you who believe” have a gem.
  • Person who blames the most is usually the most ignorant as they only have one view.
  • Calling others names and giving insults pollutes your emaan.
  • You always have a window of repentance with Allah.
  • Avoid suspicion.. don’t even get close because our thoughts become catalysts for changing our behavior.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt, make excuses for your brothers and sisters.
  • We will never know a person’s end, what state they will die in. Emaan is a living thing and constantly in a state of flux.
  • Do not spy. Allah swt has given privacy, something which seems trivial, worth in the Quran. Mentions it several times. Follow the sunnah of knock, wait, knock again, wait, knock a third time, wait. No answer, go away.
  • Do not backbite. Backbiting ravages our community. We need to be extremely vigilant. Allah swt uses vivid imagery of eating flesh because when one backbites the person cannot defend them selves.
  • Backbiting definition: saying something about a person (can be true) that is negative that they would not like others to hear.
  • There is no distinction between Muslims and non Muslims when it comes to backbiting.
  • We need to change the way we speak.

Surah 39 – Az Zumar

  • Ayah 53: Allah swt is telling the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam what to say to the Muslims. This shows our need to cultivate relationship with our Creator.
  • In the Quran, in this ayahh there is the word “yaa” – this is Allah swt inviting us to a conversation that He has started.
  • Ibaadi: slave of Allah. It is the worldly sense of slavery. You do not need to be the slave of anyone else.
  • Uses the word My rather than We. This shows the closeness and feeling of belonging rather than Allah swt’s grandeur.
  • Concept of blame: you can only blame yourself as you are accountable for your deeds, no one else is. On the Day of Judgment Shaytaan wil say “I am innocent of you”. He walks us to the finish line but we are the ones who take that last step.
  • Do not despair in Allah’s Mercy. Tell yourself that you are a strong believer. Repent and move on. Shaytaan wants you to despair and be depressed.
  • Allah swt is capable of forgiving all sins completely, wiping them clean. Do not hold onto this baggae of past sins. It only takes a moment of sincere repentance to wipe your slate clear.
  • Tawbah is the first step in turning back to Allah swt.
    • Components: ask the person (who you wronged) for forgiveness. Make the sincere intention not to make the same mistake again.
  • Nothing is more beloved to Allah than the person who makes a mistake, repents, has his repentance accepted, makes another mistake, repents again…
    • Allah swt never tires of accepting repentence. There is no limit to His mercy. Why is it then that we tire of asking for it?
  • Ayah 54: And submit to Him –> return to Islam after a sin
  • Islam is being sincere in orienting yourself to Allah swt
  • Arrogance
    • creates space between the peoples’ hearts
    • destroys and gets in the way of being a true slave of Allah swt
  • The word kufir means covered.
  • Whatever resources Allah swt gives you, use them to further yourself in Islam
  • Ask Allah swt to make you better
    • This is my favorite take home message from the Quran circles. I’m making it my mantra for this year. Be on the lookout for a post on this :)

Quran Circle

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It’s the night of Eid ul Fitr and I’m already beginning to grieve Ramadan. While there are a list of things that I am looking forward to (iced coffee and a bagel in the morning, working out regularly, undoing my food hoarding tendencies during daylight hours…) there are also so many things that I will miss about Ramadan. One of the things I’ll miss the most is the Quran circle that was held nightly at my masjid during the last 10 nights of Ramadan.

Our taraweeh prayers ended around 11:30. The Quran circle didn’t begin until midnight. This half hour of down time was nice. It gave me a chance to catch up with some friends, grab some water, stretch my back and just sit and take in the quiet of the masjid which minutes earlier had been bustling with hundreds of people.

At 12, the imam grabbed a microphone and sat on the ground in front of the main prayer area. Men gathered around him, creating a circle. I sat with several women upstairs in the mezzanine area. The clear glass windows provided us the ability to see, the microphone which broadcasted to speakers on the upper level allowed us to hear and being separate and above the men’s area allowed women who wear niqqab the ability to sit comfortably without having to wear it.

On the odd nights, the Quran circle had anywhere from 20 to over 100 people. The higher number being on the 27th night when the masjid was filled, mashAllah. On the even nights it was much smaller and more intimate with no more than 10 people total, men and women. The group ranged from 8 – 80 years old, with a majority being youth or “kids” as the imam jokingly renamed the group of early-teen to 20 years olds since he didn’t want to keep calling the uncles elders and renamed them “older youth”. The imam is my age, 27, putting him in a position where he has to think carefully about how to assign titles to those older than him.

Below are my notes from two of the six (of the ten) nights. InshAllah the rest will follow in other posts.

Zakat Q and A session:

 

  • Categories of those who can be given zakat: poor, needy, those accepting Islam and are experiencing hardship
  • Can you give zakat to the masjid? It is better to give money to the masjid as sadaqah rather than zakat. Allah swt is pure and accepts what it pure – this is especially important when money comes into the masjid, it should be from halal income only.
  • What about religious schools? Yes but with caution. Yes if there is a need for it in the area. If it is the only Islamic school in the area. No if there are already many established Islamic schools. This is a contemporary fatwa.
  • You need to have the intention of it being zakat at the moment of giving. Make this intention automatic. When you buy food to bring to the shelter, as you are at the cashier have the intention of giving zakat.
  • Question: does zakat have to be given to only Muslims? No. It is thought by some that since we live in a non-Muslim land, we should be giving to those in our community. Showing non-Muslims that this is part of our faith.
  • Local muslims who are needy are the #1 priority for receiving zakat.
  • Suggestion: divide your zakat in half – 1/2 to loca, 1/2 international. Try to give some to Muslims.
  • Don’t guess, use the tools out there. www.zakatcalculator.com
  • Jewelry: you don’t need to pay zakat on the items you wear on a regular basis
  • When Allah swt creates a fard, it becomes fard for us to learn about that fard. 
Surah 63
  • During this time in Madina there were several groups: Muslim (including the Ansar who were the helpers and followed and vowed to protect the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam), disbelievers, and the al-munafiqun the hypocrites.
  • Two pledges: pledge of women (fighting was reserved for men) and the second pledge (people would defend the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam within the city of Madina)
  • The Prophet, salallaho alayhi wasalaam, sent Musab ibn Umayr. Musab was from the nobles, came from one of the wealthiest families, his parents were so against his conversion that his mother locked him up in his home. Musab was young – this shows that the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam recognized youth contributions. Musab would sit next to the shoulder of the Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam and explain who the people were as they came in.
  • The Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam makes hijra, makes peace as a political leader, acted as arbitor and created a sense of rule of law. This charter upset many people.
  • This surah is mocking those who accept Islam loudly, for show.
  • Personality perspective.
    • We all have characteristics of hypocrisy within us that we need to remove from our hearts
    • The duniya usually pulls us away from the akhira
    • We need the spiritual highs (like Ramadan) to carry us through the lows to the next peak
    • Part of having emaan is constantly finding deficiency in our deeds. Questioning our sincerity.
    • To think you are safe is dangerous.
    • Debating religion is from Shaytaan. Islam is beautiful and simple. It is Shaytaan that complicates it. It’s best to leave these debates and not engage.
  • 3 signs of hypocrites
    • when he speaks he lies
    • when he promises, he breaks it
    • when entrusted with something, he breaks that trust
  • Lying: relate something to someone that has not been confirmed as true
  • The Prophet salallaho alayhi wasalaam asked the Ansar if they were willing to protect him outside of Madina. The lesson in this is that he would not assume, rather he would ask and be straightforward.
  • 63:3: Hearts don’t think. This shows the strong connection between the two. In the heart resides taqwa and eeman. The mind is the conduit, its the way we receive the guidance.
  • Emaan is felt in the heart, articulated by the tongue, and carried out by the limbs.
  • 63:4
    • Bodies that amaze you
      • We should look at the health of our own bodies
      • Hypocrites abuse their bodies just as they abuse others. They have a lack of consciousness, lack of control in consuming food.
      • Our bodies are borrowed. The believer is so poor that we don’t even own our own selves. This is our reality. 
    • Loud and want to be heard
      • when you walk into a room or are engaged in a conversation, pay attention to your voice and speaking. Are you speaking because you want to be heard?
    • Overinflated senes of self worth
      • the believer should always feel worth in that we are the slave of Allah swt.
  • Take yourself into account.

 

Ramadan 2012 – Day 24

Ramadan 2012 – Day 24

 

Ramadan Dua: Day 24

Allah, on this day, I ask You for what pleases You, and I seek refuge in You from what displeases You, I ask You to grant me the opportunity to obey You and not disobey You, Oh One who is generous with those who ask.

 

Hadith of the Day: 

Narrated Aisha: Some of the wives of the Prophet asked him, “Who amongst us will be the first to follow you (i.e. die after you)?” He said, “Whoever has the longest hand.” So they started measuring their hands with a stick and Sauda’s hand turned out to be the longest. (When Zainab bint Jahsh died first of all in the caliphate of ‘Umar), we came to know that the long hand was a symbol of practicing charity, so she was the first to follow the Prophet and she used to love to practice charity. [Bukhari]

 

Good Deed of the Day: Pay your zakat

Last night at the masjid because there was a such a small group of people, the imam decided to replace the Quran circle with a short session of Q and A centered around the topic of zakat.

The biggest lesson I walked away with from our one hour learning session was this:

 “ When Allah swt creates a fard (obligatory action), it becomes fard to acquire knowledge and learn about that fard.”

This should be applied to all of the obligatory acts of worship, our five pillars of Islam. For those of us who are old enough that we are now accountable for our prayers, it is obligatory that we learn and practice that prayer in the correct way. Similarly, if we are in a situation in which we have extra money we then are responsible for paying zakat. How many of us really know the right way to do this?

For a great explanation, video tutorial and the steps to accurately calculate your zakat, please click on this link. (It’s the same link as the good deed of the day heading).

The imam stressed the importance of learning about zakat. For those of you who haven’t already paid it this year he also said that one should choose a month and day and stick to it every year, Ramadan 15th for example. Many people choose to pay their zakat during Ramadan because of the blessings and rewards. There are numerous hadith and ayahs in the Quran that talk about the benefits of sharing wealth. Despite my very basic level of Quran reading, one connection I’ve noticed is that salah and zakat are paired again and again throughout the Quran. Many of us know and value the importance of prayer, inshAllah we can also be just as knowledgeable and vigilant of zakat as well.

Resources:

 

Quran Reading:  Juz 25

Fussilat 47 – Al Jathiya 37 (41:47-45:37)

Main Themes of 25th Juz:

“The Sûras covered are Mulk, Qalam, Hâqqa, Al-Ma’ârij, Nûh, Jinn, Muzzammil, Muddaththir, Qiyâma, Dahr and Mursalât.

Sûrah Mulk: All the finest qualities belong to Allah (SWT) Whose Message can be clearly seen in His Creation. Everything has been created for our use by Allah (SWT), Who guards us from all dangers. People who still refuse to accept Allah (SWT)’s signs will be punished. Those who accept them and fear Allah (SWT) will be rewarded. Allah (SWT)’s Promise is certain to be fulfilled on the Day of Judgment. Look at His Signs and consider once more His Favours.

Sûrah Qalam: The Pen stands for Allah (SWT)’s Record of all deeds, and His Orders. By that symbol the man of Allah (SWT) comes with a Plan and Guidance from Allah (SWT) that must eventually win. Truth is above Falsehood. Men must be tested at all times to ascertain that they do not become over confident and forget Allah (SWT). That is how He tested the Companions of the Garden who were sure of plucking their fruit the next morning. But Allah (SWT) caused the garden to become bare; so they learnt the lesson that Allah (SWT)’s Will works in wonderful ways. Evil and Good can never have the same end. Can the wrong- doers “produce their partners with Allah (SWT) if they are truthful?”

On the Day of Judgement the sinners will be punished. The good man must be patient always, like Yûnus (AS) (who suffered in agony), but his repentance brought on him Allah (SWT)’s Favours.

Sûrah Hâqqa: What is Reality? The proud nations of the past rejected Allah (SWT)’s signs and were destroyed. But this destruction was just a small suffering compared to their doom in the Hereafter, where Good and Evil will be sorted out. The righteous will enjoy a great reward while the wrong-doers will suffer a terrible penalty. This is not an idle message; it is Allah (SWT)’s Truth. The Message of the Qur’ân is the only Reality.

Sûrah Al-Ma’ârij: Patience and the mystery of Time will show the ways that rise to heaven. Only patience, prayer, good deeds, Faith, and the motive to please Allah (SWT) lead us to Allah (SWT)’s Presence where no evil can enter. No matter how rosy evil looks, it will be destroyed in the Hereafter.

Sûrah Nûh: Those who stubbornly deny Allah (SWT)’s Message will be destroyed. The lesson is that because Good must uphold Truth and Righteousness, a stage is reached when it must part company with Evil to prevent Evil from spreading its corruption further. This is all pointed out in Nûh (AS)’s story, which is almost a parable to Muhammad (SAW)’s stay with the wicked Makkan Pagans.

Sûrah Jinn: Allah (SWT)’s Truth is accepted by strange creatures, among them Jinns, which shows that Allah (SWT) is remembered by all His Creation. When man is heart sore that his own people are selfish, how pleased does he become when he learns that even spiritual forces have accepted Allah (SWT)’s Message! Man’s duty is only to proclaim Allah (SWT)’s Message. Knowledge of the Unseen belongs only to Allah (SWT).

Sûrah Muzzammil: Prayer and Humility are important if one wants to lead a good spiritual life. Devote yourselves to the service of Allah (SWT) and pray at night. Allah (SWT) will punish the evil ones in due course. Allah (SWT) wants to make matters easy. Be faithful, sincere, remember Allah (SWT) and seek His Grace.

Sûrah Muddaththir: The qualities mentioned in the last Sûrah are important for preparing a person for the role of guide and leader of mankind. But when Allah (SWT)’s Command comes, he must rise and proclaim the Message for the good of all mankind. Those who reject Allah (SWT) will be severely punished on the Day of Judgment. All can earn reward by praying, having Faith and being charitable.

Sûrah Qiyâma: Shun all evil. Believe in the Hereafter because Allah (SWT) is able to bring you back to life after your death. Allah (SWT) has not created you without purpose or responsibility. On the Day you will give evidence against your own wrong; therefore, remember the Hereafter at all times. The faces of the blessed will shine with brightness and beauty. The others will be sad as if a misfortune had befallen them. May that man be cursed who still does not think of Allah(SWT)’s Purpose and the noble destiny for which Allah (SWT) gave him life and its gifts.

Sûrah Dahr: Before his creation, man was a nonbeing. Then Allah (SWT) created him. His beginning was certainly very low an ordinary. Then Allah (SWT) “showed him the way” and left the freedom of choice in man’s hands. Those who do good are rewarded. The wicked ones are punished; therefore, be patient and praise Allah (SWT) at all times.

Sûrah Mursalât: The winds show Allah (SWT)’s Kindness and Power. They gently bring rain but they can also blow violently and destroy. So works Allah (SWT)’s Revelation. It can gently bring the Message but it can also mercilessly wipe out evil and Falsehood.

The theme is quite similar to Sûrah Qiyâma. It describes the horror of the Hereafter for the rejecters of Truth.”

* Please note the above summary was taken from this source.

Ramadan 2012 – Day 22

Ramadan 2012 – Day 22

Ramadan Dua: Day 22

Allah, on this day, open for me the doors of Your Grace, send down on me its blessings, help me towards the causes of Your mercy, and give me a place in the comforts of Paradise, Oh the one who answers the call of the distressed.

 

Hadith of the Day: 

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Allah will give shade, to seven, on the Day when there will be no shade but His. ….a man who gives charitable gifts so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity) …. [Bukhari]

 

Good Deed of the Day: Give Sadaqah

We live in a world where we can give charity without anyone knowing. Following the above hadith, strive to be someone who gives with the sole intention of giving to help for the sake of Allah. There are numerous hadith about the benefits and rewards of giving. What better time to give than now in the last 10 days of Ramadan? The month when good deeds are multiplied up to 70.. Giving just $100 right now could equal $7,000 when our deeds are weighed and counted on the Day of Judgment.

This article on increasing our sadaqah during the last 10 days states:

 “However, usually this love for wealth causes us to be stingy and hoard our wealth, without realizing that there is more virtue in giving it to the poor and the needy. Thus, one of the criteria of those who will be successful in this world and the hereafter is those who have tamed their desire for wealth, as Allāh  states in the following ayah:

And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful. (Al-Hashr 59:9)”

There are so many organizations worthy of our sadaqah:

If money isn’t something you can afford to give right now there are many other ways that one can give sadaqah.

    • Smile.
    • Go through your closet and donate the clothes you no longer wear or fit.
    • Cook a meal and bring it to the masjid for those performing itikaf
    • Give someone a compliment.
    • Volunteer your time.

 

Quran Reading:  Juz 23

Ya Sin 28 – Az Zumar 31 (36:28-39:31)

Main Themes of 23rd Juz:

“Tonight’s taraweeh consists of Qâla Famâ Khatbukum. The Sûras covered are the second portion of Ath-Thâriyât, Tûr, Najm, Qamar, Ar- Rahmân, Wâqi’a and Hadîd.

The commentary of Sûrah Ath-Thâriyât was covered last night.

Sûrah Tûr: It is also an early Makkan Sûrah. All Signs of Allah (SWT), including previous revelations and other sacred symbols, point out that Allah (SWT)’s final Judgment will take place on the Day of Reckoning. On that Day the evil-ones will be severely punished while the good- ones will prosper. Praise Allah (SWT) only. Certainly all the points raised by disbelievers are without foundation. They have failed to understand Allah (SWT)’s Message. Praise Allah (SWT) mainly in the stillness of the night and the holy hour of dawn as the stars begin fading out.

Sûrah Najm: True revelation does not consists of errors or deceptions – Rasûl (SAW) “is neither astray nor being misled, nor does he say (anything) of his own desire. It is no less than Inspiration sent down to him” by Allah (SWT), the All-Knower. Allah (SWT) is not like any of the false ideas and idols that men have. He is the Everlasting, the All- Forgiving.

Give whole-heartedly in Allah (SWT)’s Way for your benefit in the Hereafter where each soul must bear its own responsibility. The final Goal of all is Allah (SWT0, just as He is the Source of everything; therefore, serve Him obediently.

Sûrah Qamar: The theme of the Sûrah is explained by the question: “Is there any that will receive warning?” which occurs six times at the end of a reference to a past story of sin and rejection of warnings. It contains an appeal to the simplicity of the Qur’ân. “Listen to Allah (SWT)’s Truth and do good”, says the Message.

Those who reject Allah (SWT)’s Message must realise that the Day of Judgement is drawing near. On that Day they will suffer a severe penalty if they do not accept Allah (SWT)’s Truth. All those past people who denied Allah (SWT)’s Message were destroyed, including the people of Nûh (AS), the ‘Ad, the Thamûd, the people of Lût (AS) and the people of Pharaoh. Take heed from these examples and be on your guard against evil. Receive Allah (SWT)’s Warning from these stories.

Sûrah Ar-Rahmân: The greater part of this Sûrah is certainly early Makkan. It is very poetical and mystical, and the question “Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?” is scattered 31 times among its 78 verses. Here the favours of Allah (SWT) and the Hereafter are explained.

How Gracious is Allah (SWT), who has revealed the Truth in the Qur’ân and has given man intelligence to see Him in the Creation around him. The universe is ruled by laws of Balance and Justice. He has created man from mere clay; but man can still understand Allah (SWT), the Lord of the East and the West, Who sustains all His creatures, Who gives the jewels of Life and Faith, Who will live on while everything else will die, Whose eternity is the hope of man’s future. Then which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?”

Evil cannot escape Justice. Good will find its reward in Paradise where beautiful sights and sounds, delicious fruits to nourish the soul, and pure companionship to give us life, will be found. “Then, which favours of your Lord will you deny?” All praise belongs to Allah (SWT), the Exalted and Honourable. This Sûrah implies that though things are created in pairs there is an underlying unity through the Creator in the favours which He grants, and in the goal to which we are marching.

Sûrah Wâqi’a: Almost the entire Sûrah belongs to the early Makkan period. The Day of Judgement will come “when the earth will be shaken to its depths” and people will be sorted out into three classes. Firstly, those who “will be nearest to Allah (SWT) in Garden of Bliss”. Then the Companions of the Right Hand, who will enjoy great pleasures. Thirdly, the Companions of the Left Hand, who will suffer untold misery. Study yourselves, the rest of Creation, and Allah (SWT)’s Message and praise Allah (SWT), the Beneficent, Who is most Just, Most Merciful and Truthful.

Sûrah Hadîd: With this Sûrah we begin the last one-tenth of the Qur’ân which may be considered in two parts: the first contains ten Sûras, all revealed in Madîna, and each one dealing with some special advices about the social life of the Umma. The remainder contains short Makkan Sûras, with each one dealing with some aspect of spiritual life, expressed in language of great mystical beauty.

Believe in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet, and give charity out of the wealth He has given you. By spending in Allah (SWT)’s Cause you are merely giving from things which Allah (SWT) has given; it is not strictly yours. “Those who give in charity….(that loan) will be increased manifold for them, and they will have (besides) a liberal reward”. Allah (SWT) will then guide you by His Light. Be always humble before Allah (SWT) and remember Him at all times. “The life of this world is but play and amusement” compared to the life of the Hereafter. The pleasures of this world last long. But on the other hand, do not serve Allah (SWT) like hermits who shut out the world altogether. As Muslims we are to use the resources of this world to serve Allah (SWT) and His Creation – this is also worship.”

* Please note the above summary was taken from this source.

 

Ramadan 2012 – Day 20

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Ramadan 2012 – Day 20

 

Ramadan Dua: Day 20

Allah, on this day, open for me the doors of the heavens, and lock the doors of Hell from me, help me to recite the Qur’an, Oh the One who sends down tranquility into the hearts of believers.

 

Hadith of the Day: 

Aa’ishah, RA narrated: “Allaah Messenger SAW used to practice I’tikaaf in the last ten nights and say: ‘Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten days of Ramadhan.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

 

Good Deed of the Day: Search for Night of Decree

The 97th Quran states:
1. Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’an) down in the night of Al-Qadr (Decree)

2. And what will make you know that the night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?

3. The night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months

4. Therein descend the angels and the Ruh [Jibrael (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees,

5. Peace! (All that night, there is Peace and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn.

Given that tonight is the 21st night of Ramadan and that there are several authenticated hadith which state that one should seek it on the odd nights of the last ten nights (21, 23, 25, 27, 29), we should follow the advice of our Prophet, salallaho alayhi wasalaam and do everything in our power to sincerely seek it and perform our best worship during it.

I’ve found several great resources and articles to learn more about this night and the best ways to worship during it.

“This blessed night was given to our ummah as a special gift upon the concern of the Prophet for the short lives of his people in comparison with those who lived before. Thus whatever is done on this blessed night will be recorded for the sincere Muslim as if he had done the same deeds without sinning for one thousand months, which is the equivalent of 83 years and four months!” I encourage you to read the rest of this article on how to Reap the Rewards of Lailatul Qadr.

On the AlMaghrib Forums, a student of knowledge shared 5 great ways to spend Lailatul Qadr:

“1. Recite the Qur’an abundantly

Az-Zuhri used to say upon the coming of Ramadan, “It is only about reciting the Qur’an and feeding the poor.”

Abdur-Raziq said, “When Ramadan came, Sufyan Ath-Thawri would give up all acts of (voluntary) worship and devote himself to the recitation of the Qur’an.”

Laylatul Qadr is the night the Qur’an was revealed so we should spend much of the night reciting it for we will gain 700 hasanah or more by reciting each letter!

2. Strive to gain forgiveness

One should strive and do their utmost to gain the mercy of Allah especially in the odd numbered nights of the last ten days. If one leaves Ramadan without gaining the mercy of Allah then surely they are the most unfortunate ones and are the biggest losers in this world and the next.

The main Dua for Laylatul Qadr is the following:

Aisha (Ra) said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?’ He said: ‘Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.’ “

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee” (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi).

Gaining forgiveness on laylatul Qadr:

Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger said: “Whoever stands (in prayer) in Laylatul Qadr while nourishing his faith with self-evaluation, expecting reward from Allah, will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

We should sincerely repent for past and present sins with the intention of not repeating them again and ask of Allah Ta’aala to help us prevent ourselves from doing them again and ask Allah to perfect our characters and to help us improve ourselves in everyway possible.

3. Do much Superogatory Prayers (Nafil)

Rabi’ah ibn Malik al-Aslami reported that the Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said: “Ask (anything).” Rabi’ah said: “I ask of you to be your companion in paradise.” The Prophet said: “Or anything else?” Rabi’ah said: “That is it.” The Prophet sallallahu alehi wasallam said to him: “Then help me by making many prostrations (i.e., supererogatory prayers).” (Muslim)

The Prophet peace be upon him said: “Whoever draws near to Allaah during it (Ramadaan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.” – Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1887.

In this most blessed month of Ramadhan all good deeds are multiplied by 70 or more. Every Nafil one prays one will gain the reward of a Fard Salaah and every Fard Salah is the reward of 70 Fard salaah. Subhanallah what other time of the year is this possible? NONE! So let us make the best of these precious seconds and pray as many Nafil prayers as is possible!

Here are some Nafil prayers we can pray on Laylatul Qadr:

1. Two Rakat after performing Wudu (Ablution)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him): “Tell me about the best of your deeds (i.e. one which you deem the most rewarding) since your embracing Islam because I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) replied:“I do not consider any act of mine more rewarding than that whenever I make ablution at any time of night or day, I perform Prayer for as much as was destined for me to do.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)”

2. Tahajjud

Imam Abu Sa’id al-Khadimi said,

“There is scholarly consensus (ijma`) that among the best of virtuous acts is the night vigil prayer.” [al-Bariqa al-Mahmudiyya Sharh al-Tariqa al-Muhammadiyya]

The scholars derived the following in regards to Tahajjud from the Qur’an and prophetic hadiths:

1. The minimal night vigil prayer is 2 rakats. [Hindiyya, quoting Fath al-Qadir]

2. Its optimal recommended amount is 8 rakats, because this was the general practice of the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him, his family, and companions). [Hindiyya, quoting Fath al-Qadir]

3. Lengthier recitation is superior to a larger number of rakats prayed. [Durr al-Mukhtar, Radd al-Muhtar]

4. It is recommended to start the night vigil with two short rakats, because of the hadith of Abu Hurayra that the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “It you get up for night prayer, start with two short rakats.” [Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawud]

Ibn Mas`ud (Allah be pleased with him) was asked, “I cannot pray at night.” He said, “Your sins have prevented you.”

3. Salaatul Tasbih

This is a very rewarding prayer that we should pray on each of the odd numbered nights.

Ibn al Mubarak says: “The tasbih prayer is a greatly desired act and it is desirable that one should punctually observe it and never neglect it.

How to perform this Salaah:

‘Ikrimah reports from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdal-Mutalib: “O ‘Abbas, O Uncle, shall I not give you, shall I not present to you, shall I not donate to you, shall I not tell you ten things which, if you do, Allah will forgive your first and last sins, past and present sins, intentional and unintentional sins, private and public sins? The ten actions are: pray four rak’at, reciting in every rak’ah al-Fatihah and a surah. And when you finish the Qur’anic recitation of the first rak’ah, say, while standing, ‘Subhanallah, al-hamdulillah, wa la ilaha illallah, wa Allahu Akbar‘ ['Glory be to Allah. All praise is due to Allah. There is no God except Allah. Allah is the greatest.'] Fifteen times. Then make ruku’, and while you are in ruku’, say the same ten times; then stand, and say the same ten times. Then go down and make sajdah, and while you’re in sajdah, say the same ten times. Then sit after the sajdah, and say the same ten times. Then make sajdah, and say the same ten times. Then sit after the second sajdah, and say the same another ten times. That is seventy-five [repetitions of the phrases] in each rak’ah. Do that in each of the four rak’at. If you can pray it once a day, do so. If you cannot, then once every Friday. If you cannot do that, then once a year. And if you cannot do that then once in your life. “

4. Increase in Dhikr (Rememberance of Allah)

We should glorify Allah night and day, especially in the last odd nights.

Here are some easy and very beneficial Dhikr and glorification we can do throughout the last ten odd nights:

1. Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee

2. Subhanallah

3. Alhamdulillah

4. Allahu Akbar

5. Laa ilaha ilallah

6. LA HAWLA WA LA QUWWATA ILLA BILLAH

7. Asthaghfirullah

8. SUB-HAN’ALLAH HIL AZEEM WA BI-HAM’DIHI,

9. Subhāna-llāhi, wa-l-hamdu li-llāhi, wa lā ilāha illā-llāhu, wa-llāhu akbar. Wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāhi-l-aliyyi-l-azīm

10. Lā ilāha illā-llāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu lahu-l-mulku wa lahu-l-ḥamdu yuhyi wa yumītu wa huwa ḥayyu-llā yamūtu abadan abada, ḏū-l-jalāli wa-l-ikrām, biyadihi-l-khayr, wa huwa alā kulli Shay-in qadīr

Or the shortened version:

11. Laa ilaaha illal-laahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeer

One can also recite the durood that one recites in one’s Salaah or a Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallim

5. Make much dua

We should be very busy in Dua as much as we can especially in the last 10 odd numbered.

Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

“When my servants ask you concerning me, (tell them) I am indeed close (to them). I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on me.” [2:186]

The place of duaa is so high to Allah, that the Prophet(Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallim) had said: “Nothing is more honourable to Allah the Most High than du`a.” [Sahih al-Jami` no.5268].

Almighty Allah also said: “The most excellent worship is du`a.” [Sahih Al-Jami` no. 1133]

Therefore let us devote much of the night of Qadr in dua asking of Allah for his mercy and forgiveness for all of our past sins and making firm intentions to Allah that we will change for the better and strive to become closer to him as well as make our deen a FULL part of our lives and not just a little part of our life as Allah says:

Allah tells us In the Qur’an to enter fully into our deen and not partly:

O believers enter into Islam completely and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan, surely he is your clear-cut enemy…. (Surah Al-Baqara, Ayah 208-210)

So then will we not make Islam a FULL part of our lives? This is our best opportunity and if we don’t take it and death comes to us then surely we will regret it for ETERNITY!

And Allah knows best in all matters.”

Other great resources:

 

Quran Reading:  Juz 21

Al Ankabut 46 – Al Azhab 30 (29:46-33:30)

Main Themes of 21st Juz:

“Tonight’s taraweeh consists of Ilayhi Yuraddu. The Sûras covered are the last section of Hâ Mîm, Sajda (Prostration), Shûrâ (Consultation), Zukhruf (Gold Adornments), Dukhân (Smoke) and Jâthiya (Bowing the Knee).

Sûrah Shûrâ: The subject dealt with is how evil and vulgar speech can be cured by the Mercy and Guidance of Allah (SWT) which comes through His Revelation. Men are asked to settle differences in patience by discussing and settling their differences among themselves. Shûrâ means mutual consultation.

True inspiration comes from the All-Wise Allah (SWT). Everything in the heavens and on earth is His. Yet men worship false gods. The religion preferred by Allah (SWT) has always been and will always be Islam. He orders us “to remain firm in religion and not to make divisions in it”. Only selfishness and jealousy cause divisions. All disunity should stop and people should return to Allah (SWT)’s teachings and accept the judgments of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Allah (SWT)’s judgment concerning the just and the unjust will eventually come. Allah (SWT)’s mercy and care for us can clearly be seen in His creation.

Misfortunes befall us because of our own evil-doings, “and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness.” Allah (SWT)’s Plan will always be carried out. The conveniences (and comforts) of this life are temporary, “but that which is with Allah (SWT) is better and more lasting”. Do good and shun wrong. Guidance, which is Allah (SWT)’s Mercy upon us, comes from Revelation.

Sûrah Zukhruf: This Sûrah deals with the difference between the real Glory of Allah (SWT)’s Truth and Revelation, and the false glitter of what people like to believe and worship. The idea of the key word Zukhruf (Gold Adornments) occurs throughout the Sûrah.

Allah (SWT)’s Revelation makes His Truth clear. Those who mock His Message are only inviting Allah (SWT)’s Punishment on them. Allah (SWT)’s Creation points to His Wisdom and Kindness, yet some people are unkind by causing some of His servants to associate gods with Him. These are the people who feel that their forefathers were wiser than Allah (SWT); that is why they are prepared to worship what their forefathers worshipped rather than worshipping Allah (SWT).

If the Arabs prefer to follow in their forefathers’ footsteps, why do they not accept the Faith of Ibrâhîm (AS)? He was a true Believer and exposed the falsehood of worshipping idols. Like the glitter of gold adornments, the worshipping of idols may also seem a bright ideal to ignorant people. But Allah (SWT) will soon plan a victory for His Cause. Gold adornments are but things of this life, they have no place and value in the Hereafter – like idol worshipping. If the Jews trace back their ancestry and learn from the story of Mûsâ (AS), how much better will it be for them! The proud Pharaoh was eventually drowned – this shows that the power and ceremony of this world cannot last long. Only Allah (SWT)’s Plan cannot be blocked.

If the Christians go back to the true teachings of ‘Isâ (AS), they will learn that “he was no more than a servant” of Allah (SWT). He brought Allah (SWT)’s Message to explain certain points on which the sects argued, an asked his people to worship Allah (SWT) only. “But sects from among themselves fell into disagreement”. Allah (SWT)’s Truth has come and Allah (SWT) knows how everyone has received it. His Truth will last: denying it cannot help.

Sûrah Dukhân: The title means smoke or mist. Allah (SWT)’s revelation explains clearly how worldly pride is conquered by spiritual truths. The proud Pharaoh and his chief refused to listen to the Truth. Allah (SWT) punished them by drowning them. All their wealth and possessions passed on to other hands. In the end, “neither heaven nor earth shed a tear over them.”

A similar punishment was suffered by the Children of Israel. Allah (SWT) granted them gifts and favours; but they became proud and fell. The proud Quraish can also expect a similar fate because Allah (SWT) is All-Just. On the Day of Judgment, Evil and Good will be sorted out. Each will get what he deserves. Pay attention to Allah (SWT)’s Message, then wait and see what He does.

Sûrah Jâthiya: The title “Bowing the Knee” expresses the main idea of this Sûrah. In spite of Allah (SWT)’s Signs of His Goodness all around us, men reject His Guidance. But the Believers should forgive the disbelievers. Only Allah (SWT) is the Best Judge. People who make schisms and sects, or follow their desires are obviously doing wrong. On the Day of Judgment all will “bend the knee” (submit to Allah [SWT]’s Truth). All praise belongs to Allah (SWT), the Supreme Lord, the Cherisher, the All-Powerful and the All-Wise.”

* Please note the above summary was taken from this source.

Ramadan 2012 – Day 19

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Ramadan 2012 – Day 19

Ramadan Dua: Day 19

Allah, on this day, multiply for me its blessings, and ease my path towards its bounties, do not deprive me of the acceptance of its good deeds, Oh the Guide towards the clear truth.

 

Hadith of the Day: 

‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time. [Bukhari]

 

Good Deed of the Day: Perform Itikaf

Great (true) story alert: Last year, two days before Ramadan began, my father was laid off from a job and company where he had worked for the past 28+ years. Surprised at seeing him home in the middle of the day, I asked him what happened. I remember so clearly hearing him say, “I got laid off. Alhamdulillah, I won’t have to work during Ramadan.” His attitude was amazing. He took advantage of the time and spent the last ten nights and days performing itikaf. He had a job interview the day after Eid and began working the next week. Alhamdulillah.

One of my favorite memories from the past two Ramadans are nights where I packed a bag and stayed the night in the masjid. While there are a handful of men who spend the last ten days and nights in the masjid for itikaf, the top floor of my masjid that is designated for women is almost always empty after taraweeh. This means that once the night crowd slipped out to head home, I was able to run to my car, grab my bag and make myself comfortable. Being away from home meant that I was also away from many distractions – my computer, my family, etc. In my bag I packed a pillow, blanket, my copy of the Quran, an Islamic book and some food for suhoor.

If you can, I encourage you to take and designate at least one night to performing itikaf. If you’re not able to do it in the masjid, make your own spot at home. Designate a room or corner where you can pray relatively distraction free. Pile your Islamic books close by and make the intention to spend the night worshipping Allah and seeking to find the night of Decree. If you do end up doing this, please remember me in your duas.

If spending a night away is not possible, I also want to share something my imam said on the first night of Ramadan. It was to make the intention of performing itikaf every night that you enter the masjid, whether it is for iftar and/or taraweeh.

Resources for itikaaf:

 

Quran Reading:  Juz 20

An Naml 56 – Al Ankabut 45 (27:56-29:45)

Main Themes of 20th Juz:

“Tonight’s Taraweeh consists of Fa man Azlamu. The Sûras covered are the last half of Zumar (The Crowds), Al-Mu’min (The Believers) and Hâ Mîm Sajda.

Sûrah Zumar: How can a man who believes in Allah (SWT) be like a man who rejects the Truth? The believer follows Allah (SWT)’s beautiful Message, remains humble and praises Allah (SWT). The disbeliever “can have none to guide him” – his end will be horrible. Remember the Day of Judgment, when all your deeds will be brought to account. The Guidance has been given: “He that receives guidance benefits his own soul: But he that strays injures his own soul”. Even in our daily activity of sleep, there “are Signs for those who think”. Allah (SWT) takes away man’s soul at the time of death and during sleep.

“He keeps back” the soul of a person “on whom He has passed the sentence of death” whereas “He sends” back the soul to the body of a person He wants to let live. This should make man think how close he comes to death whenever he sleeps. He should prepare for death accordingly.

It is wrong to call on any helper besides Allah (SWT). Nothing can prevent Allah (SWT)’s Punishment from reaching you when it comes. Be thankful to Allah (SWT) at all times. “Do not despair of Allah (SWT)’s Mercy” at any time, ask Him for forgiveness before His Penalty comes upon you. On the Day of Judgment, Good and Evil will be sorted out.

Sûrah Mu’min: The title of this Sûrah is “The Believer”. It recounts the story of one Believer among Pharaoh’s people, who accepted Allah (SWT)’s Message and thought of the Hereafter. This Sûrah is also called Ghâfir (He who forgives). In Sûrah Mu’minûn the subject of Faith and Goodness was discussed from a collective point of view; here it is dealt with from the point of view of a single person.

We now begin a series of seven Sûras which begins with the Abbreviated Letters Hâ Mîm. They were revealed one after the other in the later Makkan period.

All these Sûras discuss the difference between Faith and Unfaith, Revelation and Rejection, Good and Evil, Truth and Falsehood. It is shown that the first in each of these pairs is the real friend, helper and protector. The second is the enemy.

Believe in Allah (SWT) because He is the All-Knower and All-Powerful. He forgives your wrongs and is All-Just. Those who do evil will receive a Painful Punishment. The rejecters of the Truth are only fooling themselves. All His creatures praise Him; therefore pray to Him only. On the Day of Judgment Allah (SWT) will pass His final Judgment on you according to your deeds.

Even history proves the terrible fate of those who rejected Allah (SWT). The mighty Pharaoh proudly rejected Allah (SWT)’s Message. Allah (SWT) caused him to drown. A humble Believer in Pharaoh’s Court supported the Truth and advised his people to obey Allah (SWT). They did not listen to him. He was saved; so the Faith he had protected, lasted.

People who strive for Allah (SWT)’s Cause will find His favour and Help ever ready. Do not be proud because you do not know your worth before Allah (SWT). Judgment Day must come. Allah (SWT) gives life and causes death, so be prepared for death. Do not argue and dispute about His Signs – rather learn lessons from them and from the history of past peoples. Learn from the story of the ‘Ad and Thamûd that science and skill will never help you if you do not believe in Allah (SWT).

Hâ Mîm Sajda: This Sûrah points out that Faith and Revelation is Allah (SWT)’s Power and Goodness. Belief in Allah (SWT) and His Revelation will lead to man’s benefit. He will then do righteous deeds.

Revelation explains things in detail. It gives good news to the doers of Good and warns men against doing Evil. Do not deny His existence or His message, because the knowledge of both can be found by studying His creation. Learn form the stories of ‘Ad and Thamûd – how they were destroyed for their disbelief. People must believe in Allah (SWT) before it is too late because on the Day of Judgment “even their eyes, ears or skins will bear witness against them”.

The true man of Faith calls others to share the beauty of his Faith. He does good deeds and bows down before Allah (SWT)’s Will. His final destination will be paradise. He will not fear or grieve and will constantly exercise patience and self-restraint in this life. Faith and unfaith can never be the same, just as Good and Evil can never be equal. True knowledge belongs to Allah (SWT), but Falsehood deprives man of hope. He then becomes proud, hypocritical and unreasonable. Therefore, follow Truth.

* Please note the above summary was taken from this source.

Ramadan 2012 – Day 15

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Ramadan 2012 – Day 15

 

Ramadan Dua: Day 15

Allah, on this day, grant me the obedience of the humble, expand my chest through the repentance of the humble, by Your security, Oh the shelter of the fearful.

 

Ayah of the Day: 

7:31 (Y. Ali) O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.

 

Good Deed of the Day: Don’t Waste

Last week I shared an article on my public Facebook page. I liked the article so much that I’m going to repost the link here. In the article, the author shares her reflection of what she saw happening at her masjid during Ramadan iftars. “I started thinking about all of the habits of waste I participated in and saw around me. It was coming from a place of entitlement. Ramadan teaches us through the long days of fasting that we don’t own anything in this world, except for our souls. Our restraint from food and water is a practice in discipline and a way to connect to our inner worlds, with God and with each other. In my fast, when I forgo food, water, buying new things, Styrofoam, plastic water bottles and so on, I remind myself of my power and my smallness. I have control of what doesn’t go in my body — perhaps setting a practice that leads me through the rest of the year.”

Last Fall the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, an organization that I am actively a part of, put on their annual Leadership Banquet. The theme of the banquet focused on stewardship. Our Keynote speaker was Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, author of the book Green Deen. For those of you who don’t have it or haven’t read it, this is a great book. I have a few copies if you’re interested and are not able to purchase a copy.

My mom was an active organizer in this event. She wants so badly to help my masjid become more green. I know it pains her to see the piles of Styrofoam plates and cups that fill the garbage cans after a community event. She decided that she didn’t want to take part or contribute to creating more waste. In doing so, she went out and purchased a dinner set of plate, silverware, and cup that she takes with her in a nondescript bag/purse. When it is time to line up for food, she takes her plate. She bought a set for me and my father as well. Occasionally someone will ask where the plate came from or why she chose to bring her own. She provides a simple explanation, hoping that others around her may adopt the idea as well.

In regards to not wasting, one can think about the recycling efforts that may or may not occur or you can think about it in terms of wasting other resources such as food or water. It is an ongoing goal of mine to not waste food, especially during the month of Ramadan. This means that I need to take smaller amounts of food and eating those tomatoes that I typically push off to the side or offer to my mother. In terms of saving water, simply turning off the facet while brushing your teeth or taking a shorter shower are easy ways of trying to appreciate and be mindful of the gifts that Allah swt has given us.

Ramadan is a time of reflection. It’s a month when we work to better ourselves and make changes to the ways we act and spend our time and resources. Starting a recycling campaign at your masjid or at home is a small step that you can take. InshAllah you may be the one that helps inspire others to do the same.

Is your masjid green? If so, please leave some advice or feedback in the comments. My masjid is trying to take this step so any easy to implement things would be greatly appreciated!

 

Virtuous Deed (taken from The Trade Which Shall Never Fail book)

 

Quran Reading:  Juz 16

Al Kahf 75 – Ta Ha 135 (18:75-20:135)

Summary of 16th Juz:

“Tonight’s Taraweeh consists the last quarter of Wa qâla l-Ladhîna and the whole of Am man Khalaq. The Sûras covered are An-Naml (The Ants), Al-Qasas (The Narration), and the first half of Al-‘Ankabût (The Spider).

Sûrah Naml: Here there is a great deal of double meaning. Wonders in our physical world stand for much greater wonders in the spiritual world. In the story of Mûsâ (AS), the ordinary fire to which he went also stands for a light from the spiritual world; i.e. he was seeing the Light of Allah (SWT)’s Truth and Guidance. Mûsâ (AS)’s drawing his hand to his side, thereby making it shine brightly also means that his hand was glorified. That is, it had become a clean and bright object, fit to carry out Allah (SWT)’s Orders. Even his rod could be changed into snake to defend him. Sulaimân (AS) knew “the speech of birds”, meaning he could com- municate with them. It is obvious that they do not speak to one another, but communication among them does exist. He kept the Jinns, men and birds “in order and ranks”, which means two other things also: (1) All his subjects despite their different tastes, occupations and levels of in- telligence were looked after by him with justice and discipline; (2) He had many gifts – he could understand birds and beasts. He was wise, and obedient to Allah (SWT). He used all these gifts properly, as if they were a well-disciplined army, thus getting the best possible results from them.

Allah (SWT)’s revelation is Wonderful, like the fire which attracted Mûsâ (AS). This fire of Allah (SWT)’s Inspiration ordered him to reform the people. The showing of his miracles made some realise the Truth, while others rejected it.

Sulaimân (AS) knew the speech of birds and had these creatures as well as Jinns and men under his command. The Queen of Sheba had a wonderful kingdom; but realised that it was nothing compared to Allah (SWT)’s Kingdom. So she submitted, “with Sulaimân (AS), to the Lord of the Worlds” and became a Muslim. Fools regard Allah (SWT)’s Punishment as ill-luck rather than a warning (as in Sâlih (AS)’s story). They do not change their ways, so Allah (SWT) destroys them.

Allah (SWT)’s Glory rules beautifully over everything. Unfaith will be conquered by faith so follow Allah (SWT)’s message, serve Him and trust in Him.

Sûrah Qasas: The greater portion of this Sûrah was revealed in the late Makkan period just preceding the Hijra. It discusses the subject of Rev- elation and how people receive it. But this Sûrah shows new points as well; viz. how an Apostle is prepared for his mission, even while he is an ordinary young man. The story of Mûsâ (AS) is related in detail to prove this point. Allah (SWT) “bestowed on him wisdom and knowl- edge” when he became a mature youth. While he was yet a baby, Allah (SWT) wanted to “make him one of (His) Apostles”. In youth, he prayed to Allah (SWT) for forgiveness and guidance. In his exile, he found help and love from his wife and family. When he preached, Allah (SWT) strengthened him. In short, Allah (SWT)’s Mercy rests with the Apostle from the time of his birth. Allah (SWT)’s Message is rejected by people who are proud or haughty like Pharaoh.

Muhammad (SAW) was also given guidance before he attained Prophethood. His Message was also rejected by the proud Makkans.

Those who want comfort in the hereafter must repent, have faith, and do good; because to Allah (SWT) belongs all mercy and truth. Those who want the comfort of this world will suffer the fate of Qârûn who was swallowed up by the earth.

Sûrah Ankabût: This series of Sûras beginning with the Abbreviated Letters A.L.M., of which Sûrah ‘Ankabût is the second one, deals with the doctrine of Ma’âd (final return of man to Allah (SWT). The main part of this Sûrah was revealed in the late Middle Makkan period to show clearly an idea of life after death.

Our beliefs will be tested, “and Allah (SWT) will certainly know those who are true from those who are false”. Allah (SWT) tested those be- fore us. Nûh (AS)’s people remained stubborn for centuries, Ibrâhîm (AS)’s people threatened to burn him, Lût (AS)’s people not only re- jected the Message but publicly defied him by doing wrong; the ‘Ad and

Thamûd put their intelligence to wrong uses and Qârûn, Pharaoh and Hâmân were punished because of their pride.

Learn from the past! Taking for your protector any being other than Allah (SWT) is like having a spider’s house which is very beautiful and interesting, but very weak. By disbelieving in Allah (SWT) you might find it very pleasant. But this will be only for a short while. Punishment will soon overtake you.”

* Please note the above summary was taken from this source.