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Posts Tagged ‘Ramadan’

I would like to share with you the history of Ramadan – the Muslim month of fasting. In the year 610 AD, the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed on the night of Laylatul-Qadr which is also known as the Night of Power. This night falls in the month of Ramadan and as a result, fasting was prescribed to Muslims for the duration of this month in celebration. So, while the concept of fasting is and was practised by other faiths, and even by the prophet, the concept of Ramadan is specifically tied to the revelation of the Quran.

In the Quran in Surah 2, Ayah 185, Allah says, “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”

Thus began the Islamic ritual of fasting on the month of Ramadan. This ritual fast known as, Sawm, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse between the hours of sun up and sun down. Beyond the physical abstinence, the reason Ramadan is known as the month of detoxing or training is explained to great effect by Nouman Ali Khan who explains that the ayah in Sura Baqara says fasting has been prescribed for you so that you may gain Taqwa. Taqwa means piety, but its literal meaning is also protection. Ramadan is the month in which you train and protect your heart to become stronger, more pious and closer to Allah by controlling your body and physical and material desires. My favourite takeaway from his video is min 14 to 16 when he says inna zalika min taqwal kuluub – the heart is the place of taqwa – which is a reference to sura Al Hajj ayah 32 where Allah swt says, ‘zalika waman yuaththim sha’aira Allahi fainnaha min taqwaalquloob’ which translates to ‘he who respects the Symbols of Allah, surely shows the piety of his heart.’ Nouman Ali Khan’s video about Ramadan I highly recommend and linked here.

Now – to answer some frequently asked questions.

What’s the point of Ramadan? In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.

Do all Muslims fast? Most Muslims believe Ramadan fasting is mandatory, but there are some groups that do not. In the Quran in Sura 2, Al-Baqara, Verse (ayah) 256 it includes the phrase that “there is no compulsion in religion”. So each person practices in the way they wish. I personally believe it is the intention rather than the act that is important. You can abstain from food and water all day but if you are cussing, angry and mean spirited during this fast then how much have you achieved the goal of Ramadan which is self-purification to attain closeness to God.

How do you fast in Islam? During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims fast from dawn to sunset with no food or water. Before sunrise many Muslims have the Suhur or predawn meal. At sunset families and friends gather for Iftar which is the meal eaten by Muslims to break the fast. Many Muslims begin the meal by eating dates as the Prophet Muhammad used to do.

Why is charity such a big part of Ramadan? Charity is an important part of Ramadan because the fast emphasizes self-sacrifice and using the experience of hunger to grow in empathy with the hungry. During Ramadan, Muslim communities work together to raise money for the poor, donate clothes and food, and hold iftar dinners for the less fortunate and or with interfaith and other community organisations.

Do you spend Ramadan studying the Quran? Many Muslims use Ramadan to read the entire Quran or read the Quran daily. Many communities divide the Quran into daily reading segments that conclude on Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. To tie this back to my earlier reference about tawqa – protecting the heart can only come from a closeness to and an understanding of the Quran. Therefore the importance of studying the Quran in Ramadan cannot be emphasised enough.

I am not Muslim but I want to fast – can I? Non-Muslims are free to participate in Ramadan. Many non-Muslims fast and even pray with their Muslim friends or family members. Non-Muslims are often invited to attend prayer and iftar dinners. Those wishing to be polite to someone who is fasting for Ramadan may greet them with Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem, which means have a Blessed or Generous Ramadan.

Do you have to fast if you are sick? Fasting during Ramadan is discouraged for those who are not of sound body or mind. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, people who are seriously sick, travellers, or those at health risk should not fast. Children that have not gone through puberty are also not required to fast during the month Ramadan.

Because the cycle of the lunar calendar doesn’t match the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan shift approximately 11 days each year. This year Ramadan began on 26th May 2017 and will end in 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon. The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. On Eid ul-Fitr, morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebration among family and friends. This year Eid ul-Fitr will most probably fall on Sunday 26th June and my video on Eid is here!

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Enjoy and leave your comments below!

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The short winter days have made the month of Ramadan as easy as it will ever get this year in Australia. In contrast, there are Muslims in the Northern Hemisphere (such as Iceland) who are fasting almost 20 hours a day! With less than 12 hours of fasting, Australian Muslims have more than half their day to make the most of a month that demands the believer dig deep and cleanse their core in order to be deserving of the celebration at the end of the journey – Eid-ul-Fitr.

To understand and appreciated Eid, a culmination of a month’s efforts, the month itself needs to be understood. Like all major religions, Islam asks its followers to abstain not merely from food but from distractions for a regulated period as a beneficial practice. Ramadan is very important to more than a billion Muslims around the globe because:

  • All the Books in major religions (Torah and the Bible) were revealed to the apostles in their time in Ramadan. Muslims believe that the prophets of Judaism and Christianity are also Prophets in Islam.
  • The Divine communication from God was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a cave close to Makkah, Saudi Arabia in the month of Ramadan
  • All these books and the communication therein is a mercy from God to his creation to inform us of our past and reveal secrets of His creations and that which shall occur in the future and it guides those who believe and accept the divine communication to follow a path from darkness to light and thereby become successful in this world and the hereafter.
  • The Holy Quran states, O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. [Surah Baqarah: 183, 184]

The verses allude to the wider requirements of fasting such as charity and self-restraint in addition to the health benefits of intermittent fasting, which modern societies are still discovering. The popularity and proven benefit of the 5:2 fast diet, the experience of non-Muslims who fast and are surprised with the results on their health and wellbeing are seeds of proof that are garnering belief in a practice Muslims follow with blind faith. Fasting is also abstinence from daily distractions and the negativity of bad practices we indulge in throughout the year. Fasting is about regulating our excesses and becoming both physically capable as well as spiritually improved. Ramadan is the Muslim month of detox and Eid is the day we celebrate successfully completing the detox program. The efforts of the month result in an Eid that is a celebration of the improvements we make on ourselves and the hope that we can maintain the good practices we’ve adopted till the next detox month.

But Ramadan is more than just fasting and abstinence from food and bad habits. It’s also disciplining ourselves and striving to feel closer to Allah spiritually. Allah has specified that the first ten days (1-10 of Ramadan) are the days of Mercy and Muslims should seek Allah’s Mercy in these days. The next ten days (11-20 of Ramadan) are the days of Forgiveness and Muslims should seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent for sins in those days. The last ten days (21-30 of Ramadan) are to seek Refuge in Allah from the Hellfire and thereby remind Muslims of the finiteness of this life and the repercussions of our actions in the hereafter. All of this is seen by Muslims around the world as a blessing from Allah and the excitement, love and care between Muslims and all we come into contact with multiplies in Ramadan when we all break our fast together and stand together in prayer.

Fasting allows us to broaden our perceptions and empathise with others who cannot enjoy the privileges of food and shelter we take for granted. When our world view broadens, our problems become smaller and we have time and scope to acknowledge and address the problems of others. Ramadan is a time to give generously to charities at home and abroad and to share what we have with the less fortunate. Celebrating Eid with Muslims and non-Muslim alike gives people a chance to learn more about each other’s faiths to bridge the cultural and religious gaps, and in doing so shed our prejudices and phobias. A festival is a great start to that journey of knowing.

On Eid day, Muslims will get up early to bathe and cleanse themselves, put on new or special clothes, perfume themselves and attend the Eid prayer. This year Eid falls on a weekday and many Muslims will go into work after their morning prayer. As a Muslim, this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate Eid with colleagues and tell them about the month just passed and what it’s meant for your personal growth. Telling your story and showing the precious care Islam affords its believers will go a long way to dispelling the misconceptions, mistrust and hate that surrounds Islam today. It will set up our society to be more understanding and respectful of each other.  If we all become the best person we can be, Muslim or not, if we can all understand and makes space in our hearts for each other, then hate will have no place in society.

Eid then is not so much about the activities we indulge in but rather the people we share it with. People strengthen their ties of family, friendship and community, through rituals of prayer, gift giving and parties. Communities create an identity for themselves and a legacy for their children in a country so open and welcoming to us and our way of life. Eid is about sharing what we have and caring for who we are with. And most of all Eid is about being grateful to our Creator for all the bounties and blessings he has bestowed upon us – a celebration of the life he has endowed.

Check out your local mosque or community centre and attend the myriad of festivals and fairs that are being held in your locale. The food, festivities, clothes, henna and general air of merriment and togetherness will warm your heart.

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Day 30 – Ramadan and Conclusions

As Ramadan draws to a close it makes me wonder about the finality of life itself, how many of us will live to see the next Ramadan, how many we know that did not make it to this one. With Eid just around the corner, in the midst of merriment and cheer, I hope I can remember the finate parameters of the life I am living so that I am motivated to make the best use of my time. 

“Be in the world as though you were a stranger or a wayfarer.” The son of Omar used to say: “At evening do not expect [to live till] morning, and at morning do not expect [to live till] evening. Take from your health for your illness and from your life for your death.” [Bukhari]

Romjaner oi rojar sheshe elo khushir eid! 🙂

Eid Mubarak everyone!

Dua day 30 – O ALLAH, on this day, make my fasts worthy of appreciation and acceptance, according to what pleases You, and pleases the Messenger, the branches being strengthened by the roots, for the sake of our leader, Muhammad, and his purified family. Praise be to ALLAH, the Lord of the worlds.

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It’s very hard to understand people. Just when you think you have someone figured out, they change, things change or how you see them change, either way.. it sucks. Sometimes I wish I could just freeze time at a single point and understand people around me and have them fixed at that constant so I wouldn’t have to keep figuring things out. But obviously I can’t do that, nor can I apply the same concept to religion.

Every time I am complacent with my deen, it has a way of slapping me awake. Ramadan was one such wake up call. I could complete a whole recitation in less than thirty days but not another one in 335 days? I could wake up at 4:30 to watch the world cup but not to pray Fajr?

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights.” (See Fath-ul-Bari, Page 102, Vol 1). [Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38]

That is the best advice I’ve heard about religion. Ever. And it’s applicable to life in general as well. Try too hard and you’re bound to step on someone’s toes or fall short of someone’s expectations. You cannot please everyone. Instead try and be near to perfection and don’t overburden yourself. If you live life constantly wondering what other people think about you, then you haven’t lived at all. Set your own expectations, pray to Allah swt to guide you and help you live up to them. As Lucian said,   “Realise that true happiness lies within you.”

Ramadan Dua: DAY 29 – O ALLAH, on this day, cover me with Your mercy, grant me in it success and protection, purify my heart from the darkness of false accusations, O the Merciful to His believing servants.

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Day 28 – Ramadan and Sleep

There is something about the condition of sleeping which has such universal appeal to everyone, so that no matter how much sleep one has had, one always covets ‘five minutes more.’ In the last two days of Ramadan, I wish I could say just five minutes more and extend Ramadan. It’s flown by way too fast and I’ve realised just how little time I have spent focusing on my deen and how much goes into the daily grind.

And yet a part of me is open to the challenge of life resuming post Ramadan. Taking into consideration the following hadith, Sufyaan Ibn ‘Abdillaah said: “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam of which I will not ask anyone else besides you (after that).” He said: “Say: ‘I believe in Allah’ and then be steadfast (upon that).” I plan to reap more until Eid and remain steadfast after Eid inshallah.

But remaining steadfast is not so easy. Ramadan has not even finished and already American Muslims nervous about Ramadan’s end coinciding with 9/11 are faced with the issue of Eid falling on 9/11 and how this may be perceived as us celebrating 9/11 instead of Eid. I expressed my frustration by saying, ‘What has the world come to when religious festivities have to be cancelled for fear of ignorant retribution? There is nothing in the heavens and the earth that can harm you unless Allah swt wills it and there is nothing in the heavens and the earth that can prevent you from harm if Allah swt wills it. Knowing this, why are we Muslims giving into the fear created by an ignorant few in the name of ‘keeping the peace’… this is NOT keeping this peace. This is giving in to ignorance!’ and I was accused of sensationalism by I in the following comment, ‘Yeah… you can only really make those comments if you’re absolutely certain you haven’t or would not do anything similar under any circumstance. think about it? have you ever compromised? if you have then your comments are ignorant in themself. And they’re nervous and worried not abandoning eid. sensationalism much?’

Comments like this really just make me sigh and roll my eyes, why is it that EVERY time we try to collectively rally up some spirit and muster some sort of unity, there will be a fair few in our midst that like to sit and poke holes in our collective passion with their negative rhetoric? I really have nothing to say in reply. To each their own. As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.’ Who you are may not please everyone else but if you try to be who everyone else wants you to be, you will never be happy. I wish the Muslim Ummah had the passionate self-confidence of Muhammed Ali, “I done wrestled with an alligator. That’s right. I have wrestled with an alligator. I done tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder in jail. That’s bad! Only last week I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick! I’m so mean I make medicine sick!” – Muhammed Ali

Ramadan Dua: DAY 28 – ALLAH, on this day, grant me a share in its nawafil (recommended prayers), honor me by attending to my problems, make closer the means to approach You, from all the means, O One who is not preoccupied by the requests of the beseechers.

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Day 27 – Ramadan and Compassion

Having finished a complete recitation of the Quran Sharif in this holy month has given me such a sense of accomplishment and joy that I wonder why I have kept myself from it in all the previous Ramadan’s that have come and gone in my life. All I can pray for now is that my duas are accepted.

In the same way that I can only hope that there is peace in the Middle East, that the flood waters recede and the relief efforts are successful, that the ground zero mosque is built with contention only so that it promotes positive dialogue and generates positive interest in Islam, that Bollywood find new storylines and that I finish my book before next Ramadan. Yes, some of those may be asking for too much but we can try right? And what better time to try than today?

Laylatul Qadr is the night of power, the night when we can fully appreciate the extent of Allah swt’s compassion. Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power) is described in the Quran as, “better than a thousand months” (97:3). Any action done on this night such as reciting the Quran, remembering Allah, etc. is better than acting for one thousand months which do not contain the night of Qadr.

  • Allah’s Messenger used to exert himself in devotion during the last ten nights to a greater extent than at any other time. (Muslim).
  • Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, related that the Prophet said: Look for Laylatul Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari).
  • The Prophet said: “Whoever prays during the night of Qadr with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim recorded from Abu Huraira).
  • Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, 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.’ “(Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi). The transliteration of this Dua is “Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee

Eid is just around the corner, spring is here, the sun is shining… can life get any better?

Ramadan Dua: DAY 27 – ALLAH, on this day, bestow on me the blessings of Laylatul Qadr, change my affairs from (being) difficult to (being) easy, accept my apologies, and decrease for me [my] sins and burdens, O the Compassionate with His righteous servants.

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