Event: Meet and Greet: Part 1

Date and Time: 19/09/2018 19:30:00 – 20:30
Location: Mosque Mcdougall Prayer Hall, Burlington St, Manchester M15 6WP, UK

To start off the year we invite you all to our annual meet and greet where you’ll get the chance to meet new Muslims and non-Muslims, freshers and old members alike. What better way to do this than through ice-breakers and GAMES, and of course FREE FOOD? Get out of your comfort zone and come and beat a group of strangers at (halal) black jack – you may just win a prize…

Ramadan: The Last Ten Nights

Ramadan has taken me by storm. Just yesterday the month was dawning upon me, yet I find myself, today, already having reached the last 10 nights, as if the first 20 had charged through my life in full force, without hindrance or interruption. Time does not wait for anyone, it flows, passes, proceeds, and continues, undefied and uninterrupted, regardless of anything or anyone. I look with deep regret at the spent days of Ramadan, how careless I had been with my time, how I had fell short of planning and prioritising, all the while knowing only too well that the fate of the remaining days will be no different unless change is incurred.

When someone presents us with an opportunity which we neglect or misuse, it is unlikely they will offer us a better opportunity next time. To go further, if we keep neglecting the opportunities given to us, it’s almost certain they will cease from being given altogether.

Yet Allah, out of his infinite mercy, will never cease from allowing opportunities to pass our way. If we end up wasting an exclusive chance given to us by Allah, he will give us more chances. And the passing of one opportunity will often signal the nearing of a better one.

The bulk of Ramadan might be over, but the pinnacle is yet to pass. Crying over the expired nights of Ramadan, nights which may never return again, should tighten your resolve to maximise these last 10, with in which is hidden an ultimate jackpot unlike no other. While the context of Ramadan was mentioned in a few verses of Surat Al-Baqarah, the context of laylat-al- qadr has an entire independent surah devoted to it.

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ ۝ وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ ۝ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ ۝

Indeed, We sent it (the Qur’an) down during the Night of Decree. And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months*.

Al-Qadr 97:1-3

As done previously with the verses pertaining to Ramadan, Allah first associated laylat-al- qadr with the Quran. Ramadan is the month of the Quran, hence it became the greatest month. Laylat-al- qadr is the night of the Quran, hence it became the greatest night. Jibreel came down with the Quran, hence he is the greatest Angel. The prophet ﷺ was given the Quran, hence he is the greatest prophet. Anything or anyone which the Quran associates with is destined for greatness, so never prioritise anything over it, especially in these critical days.

عن عمرو بن العاص: من قرأ القرآن فكأنما استدرجت النبوة بين جنبيه إلا أنه لا يوحى إليه‏‏

Narrated by Amr ibn Al-Aas: Whoever reads (memorises/learns) the quran, it is as if revelation has been brought before him, except that he is not revealed upon.

Any conversation may eventually become boring, any book may eventually bring you apathy, any friend may eventually become detached or distant from you, but the book of Allah is the best companion whose words will never become boring, and whose repetition will increase it in beauty**. The more the Quran is studied, the more the benefits and wisdom it reveals.

Finally, pray to Allah and ask him, for Allah is the one who can, wants to and will answer your supplications.

عَنْ سَلْمَانَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنَّ رَبَّكُمْ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى حَيِيٌّ كَرِيمٌ يَسْتَحْيِي مِنْ عَبْدِهِ إِذَا رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ إِلَيْهِ أَنْ يَرُدَّهُمَا صِفْرًا

Narrated by Salman: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Your Lord is munificent and generous, and is ashamed to turn away empty the hands of His servant when he raises them to Him.

Sunan Abi Dawud

Pray for yourself, your family and friends. Pray for the attainment of good and the avoidance of misfortunes.

And pray for your short life here and your infinite afterlife to come***. Isolate yourself for a few precious moments and pray and cry as though you are that terminally ill patient asking for a cure, or that drowning man asking for help. Because, ultimately, you are in no less need of Allah than the most vulnerable person on earth. The torments of the last day will render any previous calamities insignificant, and all be in need of help on that day, so don’t forget to ask Allah for his help on that day when you will need it the most.

اعلم أن من هو في البحر على لوح ليس بأحوج إلى الله وإلى لطفه من من هو في بيته بين أهله وماله ،فإذا حققت هذا في قلبك فاعتمد على الله اعتماد الغريق الذي لايعلم له سبب نجاة غيرالله

ابن قدامة

Know that a man floating on a piece of wood in the sea is not in more need of Allah and his kindness than a person in his home, sitting between his family and property. When this meaning becomes ingrained in your heart, then rely on Allah like a drowning man who knows not any other means to salvation but Allah.

-Ibn Qudamah

Ask Allah in your own words and language, but also in the supplications recommended by the prophet ﷺ.

قال رسول الله ص لعائشة: يا عائشة! عليك بجمَل الدعاء، وجوامعه”. فلما انصرفت، قلت: يا رسول الله! وما جمل الدعاء وجوامعه؟ قال : ” قولي: اللهم إني أسألك من الخير كله، عاجله وآجله، ما علمت منه وما لم أعلم، وأعوذ بك من الشر كله عاجله وآجله، ما علمت منه وما لم أعلم، وأسألك الجنة وما قرب إليها من قول أو عمل، وأعوذ بك من النار وما قرب إليها من قول أو عمل، وأسألك مما سألك به محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم، وأعوذ بك مما تعوذ منه محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم، وما قضيت لي من قضاء فاجعل عاقبته رشدًا

The messenger of Allah said to Aishah (while she was praying): Oh Aishah! Use the precise and concise supplications. So when I finished, I said: Oh messenger of Allah! What are the precise and concise supplications? He said: Say: Oh Allah! I ask you of all good, its near and far, what I knew of it and what I didn’t, and I seek refuge in you from all evil, its near and far, what I knew of it and what I didn’t, and I ask you heaven and any words and actions which bring it closer, and I seek refuge in you from Hell and any words or actions which bring it closer, and I ask you from what Muhammad ﷺ had asked you of, and I seek refuge in you from that which Muhammad ﷺ had sought refuge in you from, and whatever you had decreed for me then make its conclusion correct/guided.

Al-Adab Al-Mufrad

عن أنس قال: كان أكثر دعاء النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: اللهم ربنا آتنا في الدنيا حسنة وفي

الآخرة حسنة وقنا عذاب النار

Narrated by Anas, the most frequent supplication of the messenger ﷺ was: Oh Allah our Lord! Give us in this life goodness, and in the next life goodness, and save us from the torment of the hellfire***

Sahih Al-Bukhari

نْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ عَلِمْتُ أَىُّ لَيْلَةٍ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ مَا أَقُولُ فِيهَا قَالَ ‏ “‏ قُولِي اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي ‏”

Aishah narrated: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is your view if I know when the Night of Al-Qadr is, then what should I say in it?” He said: ‘Say: “O Allah, indeed You are Pardoning, [Generous,] You love to pardon, so pardon me”.

Jami’ Al-Tirmithi

‏While Ramadan is fast diminishing, the best of it could yet be approaching. So before crying over wasted irrecoverable time, appreciate that time isn’t measured by clocks, but by moments. Clocks quantify time, but the quality is measured by the memorable moments of your life. Perhaps a few moments of earnest worship and sincerity (especially at a blessed night) are worth more than many hours of passive or impassive worship.

Make your most cherished and memorable moments those in which you are closest to Allah, and never forget Allah’s vast unconditional mercy and love bestowed upon you, because being aware of Allah’s favour upon you will drive you to seek his pleasure, and loving Allah will open the doors of happiness for you in this life before the next.

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه ، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال‏:‏ “ قال الله، عز وجل‏:‏ أنا عند ظن عبدي بي وأنا معه حيث يذكرني، والله لله أفرح بتوبة عبده من أحدكم يجد ضالته بالفلاة، ومن تقرب إلي شبراً، تقربت إليه ذراعاً، ومن تقرب إلي ذراعاً، تقربت إليه باعاً، وإذا أقبل إلي يمشي، أقبلت إليه أهرول

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks of Me, and I am with him when he remembers Me.’ By Allah! Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than one of you who unexpectedly finds in the desert his lost camel. ‘He who comes closer to Me one span, I come closer to him a cubit; and he who comes closer to Me a cubit, I come closer to him a fathom; and if he comes to Me walking, I come to him running”

Sahih Al-Bukhari

*Called the night of decree (القدر) because in it Allah decrees matters. And it was said that it is better than an entire lifetime and the mention of 1000 months is for the purpose of exaggeration, as is normal in the Arabic language. It is better in importance, blessing, and reward. And the superiority of a set time, such as Ramadan or laylat-al- qadr, is dependent on the goodness and favours which occur at that time. The messenger ﷺ had encouraged us to seek out laylat-al- qadr in the last 10 odd nights, and in other narrations in the last 7 nights. Most scholars were of the opinion that it falls on the 27th (Abu Hanifa, Malik, and Ahmad) or the 21st (Al-Shafi’i), but there are strong authentic narrations that support it being on the 21st , 23rd , 25th , 27th , and 29th .

There is wisdom for not being given the exact night, so people do not become complacent, as Allah ought to the greater concern always, not a set time or place.

**The introduction to the poem of Qasim ibn Feerroh Al-Shatibi, known as Al-Shatibiyyah

***

{…فَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَمَا لَهُ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنْ خَلَاقٍ ۝ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا

آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ ۝ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمْ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا كَسَبُوا وَاللَّهُ

سَرِيعُ الْحِسَابِ }

{…And among the people is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world,’ and he will have in the Hereafter no share. But among them is he who says, ‘Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’ Those will have a share of what they have earned, and Allah is swift in account. }

Al-Baqarah 2:200-202

In these verses, the bad example is of someone who will ask Allah exclusively for matters pertaining to this life. Contrary to what some may expect, the good example is not of someone who will ask Allah exclusively for matters pertaining to their afterlife, but someone who asks Allah for both his current life and afterlife, because he is in need of Allah in this life before the next, and it is by turning to Allah and depending upon him in this life that one may appreciate that he is also in need of Allah in the next life.

Welcome, Ramadan

“Ramadan will be starting on Saturday”
“I’m sorry, don’t you mean Sunday?”
“Brothers, we will be fasting on Monday!”

Ramadan, the blessed 9th month of the lunar Islamic year: A cyclical guest whose very commencement is, more often than not, a matter of difference and confusion. For most, Ramadan signals the re-enactment of the accustomed tradition of usual conversations revolving around discussions of the controversial beginning date, disagreements over how many rakats of taraweeh should be prayed, and distractions due to new Ramadan-exclusive soap operas (which especially plague the Arab/Asian community).

If we comprehended how majestically significant and blessed a time Ramadan was, our overall feeling would be that of sincere gratitude that Allah had allowed us to live and experience one more Ramadan. If we truly appreciated the purpose of Ramadan, our primary concerns would not be the feasts which lie in wait or the friends which keep us occupied.

The messenger of Allah used to tell his companions at the start of Ramadan:

{ أتاكم شهر رمضان، شهر مبارك، كتب الله عليكم صيامه، فيه تفتح أبواب الجنة، وتغلق أبواب الجحيم، وتغل مردة الشياطين، لله فيه ليلة هي خير من ألف شهر، من حرم خيرها فقد حرم }

{ The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month, in which Allah had prescribed upon you fasting, in it the gates of paradise are opened, the gates of hell shut, the devils shackled, and in it Allah has a night which is better than 1000 months, whoever is denied/deprived its good is (truly) denied/deprived } – Sunan An-Nasa’i

Ramadan is an important guest like no other, and it is important to plan and prepare accordingly so one may reap the utmost benefit and fuel up, in preparation for the rest of the year and in preparation for the afterlife.

Reverence:
The month of Ramadan is among the symbols/rituals* of Allah.

{ ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ }

{ That [is so]. And whoever honours the symbols of Allah – indeed, it is from the piety of hearts } Al-Hajj (22:32)

Meaning that respecting, honouring and revering the symbols/rituals/sacred matters ordained by Allah is mark of Taqwa (awareness/consciences of Allah).

For example, you may find that an accustomed act such as a casual cinema trip or gaming night with friends is normal and acceptable on an ordinary day, but the reverence you hold for Ramadan should stop you from committing an otherwise permissible act in the blessed month. Another example would be putting everything aside and coming early for salah out of reverence for it (as you hold Allah in greater reverence and regard than any pre-salah occupation – to honour and revere salah is to honour and revere Allah).

Intentions:
The most prominent and common features of Ramadan are the obligatory fasts and recommended night prayers, both of which present great rewards if done with the right intent. A typical Muslim’s reason for fasting or attending the mosque might simply be the fact that ‘everyone else does it’. This herd mentality is a dangerous one which subjects a person to overlook the greater purpose for which this month was bestowed, and in doing so, neglect Allah**.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ يَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ:

{ الصَّوْمُ لِي وَأَنَا أَجْزِي بِهِ يَدَعُ شَهْوَتَهُ وَأَكْلَهُ وَشُرْبَهُ مِنْ أَجْلِي، وَالصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ، وَلِلصَّائِمِ فَرْحَتَانِ فَرْحَةٌ حِينَ يُفْطِرُ وَفَرْحَةٌ حِينَ يَلْقَى رَبَّهُ، وَلَخَلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ أَطْيَبُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ } ‏”

Narrated by Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah said: Fasting is for Me and I will give the reward for it: He (the one who fasts) leaves his desire, food and drink for My Sake. Fasting is a screen (from Hell) and there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. And the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better in Allah’s Sight than the smell of musk.- Sahih Al-Bukhari

Fasting which does not induce Taqwa into the ‘faster’ is flawed. Because fasting is not simply the inhibition of food, drink and desires with the culmination of an extravagant feast to top it all off. The purpose of fasting is attaining Taqwa: the awareness/consciousness of Allah. Being patient in restricting your nutritional needs is an excellent way of gaining self-control and restraint, and the benefits of self-control are innumerable. Food is something that you need AND want, so if you can control yourself in your diet, you can control yourself in anything else. Indeed, “if you can learn self-control, you can learn anything”.

Remember, the health benefits of fasting are numerous, but that’s not why we fast. The social benefits of fasting are numerous but that’s not why we fast. The mental, financial, and emotional benefits likewise, but our fasts are for the attainment of Taqwa.

Keep Allah as your intended motive and all else will follow.

Iftar:
Quality not Quantity! A habit of continuous over-eating is one that will bring you regrets in both the long and short term. The prophet ﷺ said:

{ مَا مَلأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلاَتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ فَإِنْ كَانَ لاَ مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ }

{ The human does not fill any container that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath. }– Jaami’ Al-Tirmithi

Living in an age such as this, we know of people around the world who are starving and lack enough food, and it is only by undergoing a similar experience that we really feel empathy towards them. But to say we share a ‘similar experience’ is not true per se, we spend our final minutes of the fasting day in the presence of fresh, delicious food, knowing for certain that it is just a matter of time before we indulge in it and alleviate our hunger, while many others suffer the unpredictability of not knowing whether they will find anything to break their fasts with. Amidst the cheers and joy of eating at iftar, whether you’re alone or surrounded by friends and family***, spare a thought and a prayer for those elsewhere, and ask Allah to make you truly appreciative and grateful.

Remember that something as common as food or sleep may be an act of worship if done with the right intent and in the right way.

Finally, avoid excessive profusion and wastefulness in your food. Don’t waste excessive food, don’t waste excessive money on buying food, don’t waste excessive time in preparing food. Eating in and of itself is not the aim, but a means.

Dua:
{ وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ }

{ And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided } Al-Baqarah (2:186)

If the lord of the worlds is telling you he is near and will answer your supplications, what is stopping you from supplicating?

Inactivity:
Don’t make Ramadan a time of inactivity! Just because your days are spent without food and drink and your accustomed routine is no longer in effect, is NO EXCUSE for you to lie around all day idly waiting for sunset. Be productive! As you are fasting, scavenging for food will no longer be on your agenda for the day, so you have one less major distraction, and if you ensure you are well nourished with quality food at iftar and suhoor, you will not suffer as much mental or physical fatigue. Quality rest is essential to go about your day (or night), but the difference between rest and laziness is a vast one.

Laziness is something which plagues us as muslims, no time more so than in Ramadan, yet laziness is something so detrimental, the prophet himself had sought refuge in Allah from it:

كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ ‏”‏‏.‏

The Prophet (ﷺ) used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari

Quranic contemplation:
Probably the most important paragraph here – Ramadan is the MONTH OF THE QURAN. When mentioning the verse of Ramadan, Allah first associated it with the Quran.

{ شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ }

{ The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. } Al-Baqarah (2:185)

The Quran is the most read book on earth. Unfortunately, only a mere fraction of those who recite it understand or even practice it. What’s upsetting is not that so many people will spend hours in prayer listening to the Quran being recited without understanding it, the upsetting issue is that they will do so without having a concern or a desire to change. Ignorance is bad enough, but being content with ignorance is far worse. And the true benefit of the Quran as a guidance and reminder is not obtained through mere heedless recitation.

All human knowledge is obtained by studying the world. By observing nature and human interactions, we develop the sciences of logic, mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, psychology, zoology, sociology, economics, politics etc.

The same way the world is the creation of Allah, the Quran is his literal words, and just as so much knowledge and wisdom is derived from studying his creation, so much knowledge, wisdom and guidance is obtained from studying the Quran. And you don’t need a telescope, microscope, laboratory or even a university to do so. What’s necessary is a sincere heart.

{ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ }

{ Indeed in that is a reminder for whoever has a heart or who listens while he is present [in mind]. } Qaf (50:37)

Allah has shown here in this verse that benefiting from the reminder is dependent on:

-The place in which the reminder is to settle, which is a sincere, living heart. A dead person (with a physically dead heart) cannot possibly hear, understand, or be touched by the Quran, but the same is also true for a living person with a spiritually dead heart.
-Directing your hearing and paying attention to what is being said.
-Being aware and present mentally (and in turn emotionally too)

While reciting the Quran, if you truly believed and constantly remembered that these words are from Allah, how different would your attention and concentration be?

While contemplating the Quran, note down and keep a record of the interesting words, points and questions which are bound to appear, flex your mind and ponder over what Allah had sent down to you, and reinforce your reflections with commentaries and books of exegesis, and even seek help from people of knowledge.

{ أَفَلَا يَتَدَبَّرُونَ الْقُرْآنَ أَمْ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبٍ أَقْفَالُهَا }

{ Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’an, or are there locks upon [their] hearts? } Muhammad (47:24)

Manners:
{ عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ” الصيام جنة من النار ، فمن أصبح صائماً فلا يجهل يومئذ ، وإن امرؤ جهل عليه فلا يشتمه ولا يسبه وليقل إني صائم …” }

{ The Prophet ﷺ said:”Fasting is a shield against the Fire. Whoever starts the day of fasting, let him not act in an ignorant manner during that day. If anyone treats him in an ignorant manner, let him not insult him or curse him, rather let him say: “I am fasting.’ …” } – Sunan An-Nasa’i

The importance of manners in relation to fasting is paramount, and an end to fasting or Ramadan does not mean an end to the prohibition of bad manners and conduct.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم: ‏”‏ رُبَّ صَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ صِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ الْجُوعُ وَرُبَّ قَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ قِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ السَّهَرُ ‏”

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “How many a person would fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and how many a person would pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.”
– Sunan Ibn Majah

Allah has rights upon you, but so do people. Let not your shortcomings towards others be a means of your pious actions becoming dissipated. By rowdily leaving the mosque in a loud fashion and disturbing neighbours late after taraweeh, you are probably causing more harm to Islam and Muslims than if you had not prayed!

Leniency:
Allah has blessed us with an easy religion. If anything, it is we who make it harder for ourselves with our ignorance. In the verses of Ramadan, Allah mentions some examples of exceptions and emphases leniency by saying:

يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ } }

{…Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…}

Al-Baqarah (2:185)

It may have been sufficient for Allah to just say that he intends for us ease, but the point was further emphasised with the next clause.

If you mistakenly eat and drink before recalling that you are fasting, it’s ok!

If you are sick, travelling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or have an otherwise genuine reason for not fasting, its ok! (provided you make up for it)

عن أم إسحاق ـــ أنها كانت عند رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم، فأتى بقصعة من ثريد فأكلت معه، ومعه ذو اليدين، فناولها رسولُ الله صَلَّى الله عليه وسلم عرقًا؛ فقال: “يَا أُمَّ إِسْحَاقَ، أَصِيبي مِنْ هَذَا”، فذكرت أني صائمة فنسيت، فقال ذو اليدين: الآن بعد ما شبعت. فقال النّبيّ صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: “إِنَّمَا هُوَ رِزْقٌ سَاقَهُ الله إِلَيْكِ”

Narrated by Umm Ishaq, that while she was in the presence of the prophet, he had bought a bowl of porridge, so she ate with him, and with them was Thul-yadayn, and as the prophet had passed on to her a portion, saying: “Oh Umm-Ishaq, have some of this”, she remembered that she was fasting (and had ate while having forgotten), after which Thul-yadayn had said: Now after you are full?! So the prophet said: “It is a sustenance which Allah had driven to you” – Musnad Ahmad

Regarding the time of imsaak (the suhoor finish time), the sunnah is actually to keep eating till as late as possible, within reasonable boundaries (not eating after you pray).

عن حذيفة قال: تسحرت مع رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم هو النهار إلا أن الشمس لم تطلع

{ On the authority of Huthaifa, he said: I had suhoor with the messenger of Allah and it was daytime except that the sun had not risen. }

– Sunan Ibn Majah

Contrary to our customs of ceasing from food and drink at a set time or even choosing an earlier time out of caution, the ahadith encouraging the lateness of suhoor, even beyond the time of the athaan are many and incontrovertible. If you hear the athaan but still haven’t finished from eating, you should not cease from eating.

عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال:” إذا سمع أحدكم النداءَ والإناءُ على يده، فلا يضعه حتى يقضيَ حاجته منه ”

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: When any of you hears the summons to prayer while he has a vessel in his hand, he should not lay it down till he fulfils his need.

– Sunan Abi-Dawud

——

Everyone will make the nourishment of their bodies a primary focus during Ramadan, but few are those who will busy themselves with nourishing their souls.

Ramadan has begun, Ramadan will soon end, and Ramadan will eventually return. While Ramadan’s recurrence will not disappear, our recurrence will: It is we who may not be around for the next Ramadan. The experience of Ramadan is no different to that of life: a miraculous opportunity too good to be true: a short time in which one may take heed and invest for his real future, or waste time, live heedlessly and suffer the consequences.

You have already lived through Ramadan many times before, but has it really had an effect on your remaining 11 months of the year?

Will you spend more time this Ramadan looking at TV series and films with family and friends, or looking into the Quran?

Will you attend I’tikaf at the mosque because you want to have a good time with friends**** or because you want solitude with the Quran and worship?

Will your fast only keep you away from food and drink, or will it keep you away from backbiting, bad manners, bad words, bad looks, and bad dealings too?

Could this be the Ramadan in which you break your heart’s locks and sincerely set aside time to read the Quran and reflect upon it?

Though it is distressing that you will see the Muslim masses racing to the mosque during Ramadan while neglecting it outside Ramadan*****, we should always appreciate the good in others and make that good, no matter how limited, a possible stepping stone for their improvement, and in doing so, our improvement too.

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “‏ إِذَا كَانَ أَوَّلُ لَيْلَةٍ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ صُفِّدَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ وَمَرَدَةُ الْجِنِّ وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ النَّارِ فَلَمْ يُفْتَحْ مِنْهَا بَابٌ. وَفُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ فَلَمْ يُغْلَقْ مِنْهَا بَابٌ وَيُنَادِي مُنَادٍ يَا بَاغِيَ الْخَيْرِ أَقْبِلْ وَيَا بَاغِيَ الشَّرِّ أَقْصِرْ وَلِلَّهِ عُتَقَاءُ مِنَ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ ‏”

The Messenger of Allah said: “On the first night of the month of Ramadan, the Shayatin and jinns are shackled, the gates of the Fires are shut such that no gate among them would be opened. The gates of Paradise are opened such that no gate among them would be closed, and a caller calls: ‘O seeker of the good; come near!’ and ‘O seeker of evil; stop! And there are those whom Allah frees from the Fire, and that is every night. – Jami’ Al-Tirmithi

عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ: يَسِّرُوا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرُوا، وَبَشِّرُوا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرُوا } ‏}

{ The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Facilitate things to people, and do not make things hard for them, and give them good tidings, and do not make them turn away } – Sahih Al-Bukhari

And who knows, that individual who attends the mosque less than you do or outwardly appears less practicing, less religious or less conservative, may eventually exceed you in faith, or may be worth more in the sight of Allah than yourself. A shortcoming that induces regret and remorse in the person is better than a good act which induces pride and arrogance.

We ask Allah to make us humble and steadfast, in Ramadan and outside Ramadan, and to make us among those who are granted mercy and forgiveness therein and always.

Ramadan is an opportunity like no other, but the consequences of wasting this opportunity are also severe:

قالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “… رَغِمَ أَنْفُ رَجُلٍ دَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ رَمَضَانُ ثُمَّ انْسَلَخَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يُغْفَرَ لَهُ ”

The prophet said: “may a man upon whom Ramadan enters and then passes, before he is forgiven, be humiliated” – Jami’ Al-Tirmithi

*Arabic word: شعيرة

**This ramadan, and always strive to be a muslim with religious integrity, a muslim who is drawn by conviction, not custom or culture – as the saying goes: don’t just follow the crowd.

*** Share the spirit of ramadan with others! Invite your non-muslim neighbours and friends also! Ramdan is an excellent time to exemplify the hospitable and charitable aspects of Islam for others.

****Try to strike a balance between solitude and friends who will encourage you to maximise your Ramadan. Be yourself a sincere friend who encourages others too.

*****Setting aside special times and places dedicated for the worship of Allah is no reason to completely neglect the same worship at other times and places.

The Power of You

It’s important to surround ourselves with positivity, but we must also realise that we can’t completely isolate ourselves from negative energy. Ignorance, difficulty and injustice will be found everywhere. If you get out of a testing situation, or cut ties with an angry person, understand that you will soon face negativity again.
But let me tell you something. The only one who has the power over how you feel, is you.

You cannot control the world around you, but you have the upper hand when it comes to your own heart.

Look after it. 

Learn to nurture and support yourself.

To be kind to yourself, without expecting others to be kind to you.

Learn to live by the principles of optimism. To challenge that negativity you see around you.

Learn to smile at the one who insults you.

To celebrate the personal victories that only you are aware of.

Carry the firm belief that you have a right to be happy. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.

And make it a mission to spread this happiness. To share, and to love, even when your own foundations seem to be breaking.

Learn that through giving, you will receive.

Recognise that mindset is the key to success. With desire, motivation and consistency, you will achieve beyond your expectations.

Because, ultimately, internal strength will destroy the external barriers.

What about tomorrow?

When I reflect on the past few months, I notice something.
If you’d have asked me last year where I expected to be heading, my answer would have been very different from what I see in front of me today.
In such a short amount of time, my life has changed drastically.
It’s moments like these when I realise I’ve got it wrong. I am so focused on the future. In fact, too focused.

I don’t doubt that planning and organisation are of crucial importance. But sometimes, we can go far beyond the acceptable amount of planning.

What exactly am I going to be doing in the next few months? What about in 10 years? What will my circumstances be? Who will I be surrounded by? How will I feel? What if I can’t keep up? The list goes on.

So much energy and thought is fed into worrying about what’s to come.

But this future I’m holding on to so tightly probably never will come. Just like the future I perceived in the past did not translate into what I am living today.

You see, these pages I tried to write so thoroughly were never part of my book. Regardless of how long I spent perfecting the handwriting.

The me of today was once a future me; an idea. And they couldn’t be more different.

I may see change as an obstacle, or a deviation from my well thought out plan. I may see it as a failure or a loss or a burden.

But no matter what I want for tomorrow, no matter what I think I need, what is with Allah will undoubtedly be better. His wisdom will always transcend my ignorance.

‘Say, “Never will we be struck except by what Allah has decreed for us; He is our protector.” And upon Allah let the believers rely.’

(Surah Al Taubah: 51)

Let’s talk about Mental Health

 

I’m a Muslim and I suffer from anxiety and depression.

I used to feel so alone and isolated from my brothers and sisters. I’d see statistics that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem at some point and that the odds are even higher when we look at the student population. However, I thought these statistics didn’t apply to Muslims, the statistics were surely just referring to non-Muslims. I thought Muslims don’t go through this kind of stuff because no one, in my experience, ever talks about it.

It’s like this big taboo topic, don’t bring it up. It seemed like an unspoken rule. I thought mental health was a topic not to be discussed, something to be ashamed of. And because the topic of mental health is never brought up, whether it be with family, friends or within the Muslim community, I started to think negatively about my situation. I thought that surely, it meant I wasn’t a good Muslim, that this is something I must keep quiet and pretend doesn’t exist. I thought Allah must be angry with me, I’d done something to displease Allah and He was punishing me. I thought this was Shaytaan’s doing or that experiencing a mental health problem was a sign that my imaan must be weak.

So along with struggling with anxiety and depression, I also struggled with accepting that this is something I am allowed to face as a Muslim.

I can see that this is an unhealthy way of thinking and that by not acknowledging that mental health is real and valid, we make it harder for those who suffer with it. Because it does exist in the Muslim community and the statistics do include us. I know that I am not alone in my way of thinking and my fear to talk about it.

However, bringing to light the stigma was not the only point in my post, what I really wanted to talk about is something that gives me overwhelming comfort: Surah Ad-Duha.

This Surah was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw) at a time when he had not received any revelation for six months, not even in the form of a dream. The Prophet (saw) was in a disturbed state of mind and entered a state of great depression.
He thought he had done something to make Allah upset. He thought Allah wanted no more with him anymore.

This is when Surah Ad-Duha was revealed for cases of deep sadness to give hope, positivity, and the assurance that Allah is with you no matter what. I hope that if you are struggling, you too can find peace, hope, and some comfort from this.

The Tafseer is beautiful and I wanted to share the first aayahs because I was so moved by its words. These were words that I needed to hear.

1. Wad duhaa— By the morning brightness

Straight away, the aayah reminds us that not everything is grey, all we have to do is wake up and look up at the sunshine.

2. Wal laili itha sajaa— And [by] the night when it covers with darkness,

This aayah talks about darkness to remind us that the night is supposed to give us comfort and rest. When we are going through a trial, we tend to fall into a bad sleeping pattern by staying up at night, therefore worsening our state of mind. This aayah reminds us to use the night as a comfort to ease our distress.

3. Ma wad da’aka rabbuka wa ma qalaa— Your Lord has not taken leave of you, [O Muhammad], nor has He detested [you].

This is a very powerful verse from Allah telling us that He doesn’t hate us and that He hasn’t forgotten us. These words remind us that He is always by our side. 

4. Walal-aakhiratu khairul laka minal-oola— And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].

This aayah reminds us that life in this world is temporary and that Aakhira is a better, more permanent place for us than this world could ever be. This makes us look forward to attaining a place in Jannah and helps us view problems in our lives as temporary tests of our faith from Allah. What is coming is going to be far better for you than what situation you are in now.

5. Wa la sawfa y’uteeka rabbuka fatarda— And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied.

A promise from Allah that very soon he will give us a massive reward (Jannah) and we will be happy- Subhanallah.

These are such words of comfort when you’re feeling low and fed up.

(NB: This isn’t the full Surah, there are six more aayahs.)

How many of us are fighting a battle that no one can see? Too afraid of judgement if we open up to our brothers and sisters.

So, as I draw this post to an end I would like to ask something of you.

If you understand that mental health is something real, please in some way, try to make it known that you acknowledge mental health is valid. Your closest brothers and sisters could be part of the 1 in 4 but don’t believe they have anyone they can turn to for support, so they fight a silent battle instead.

I’m not asking you all to do something really bold like update your Facebook statuses announcing that you recognise mental health is important, just maybe next time it’s brought up, don’t be afraid to talk about it. In that way we can work to reduce the stigma.

For those of you that are suffering, know that you are in my prayers and know that if I knew what you were going through, I would want to listen.

And please ask the difficult questions.
If you suspect one of your brothers or sisters isn’t okay, don’t be afraid to ask. Sometimes people just need an opportunity to open up.

– By Anonymous

My Story

As-salamu-alaikum, wa-rahma-tullahi-wa-barakahtuhu,For the next couple of minutes, you will hear my story,

It’s no Tarantino script and it’s not quite as gory,

In fact, you may find certain parts a little bit boring,

But God-willing, It will be ok and you won’t end up snoring.

Where to begin, where to start,

The name is Hamza, the Age 21, simple so far,

But there were times that were bleak, terrifying and dark,

Being a kid and being bullied definitely left a strong mark,

Later down the line, I went on to develop depression at college

Looking around, seeing no friends and definitely found no solace,

In fact, it coulda been the death of me,

But thankfully around about the age of 18,

I found my calling and fully embraced the deen,

Without it, I wouldn’t be stood here studying for a law degree,

I wouldn’t have the ability to breathe, talk or see

If it wasn’t for the mighty, the one, the supreme,

The One who watches my every move,

Pain, misery and sadness does he alone remove,

His mercy everlasting, with him you will never lose

Fast forward a few years, and here I stand in the university of Manchester,

You could say it’s like an underdog story, perhaps like Leicester,

But unlike ranieri, I intend on making it to the end of 2nd semester,

In terms of the future, the aim is to practice law, to help others,

That’s Fathers and Mothers, Sisters and Brothers,

Commercial isn’t for me, I have no desire to live that life,

Where is the time to settle down, find happiness and a loving wife?

When all my thoughts are obsessed about deals, where is the sanity of mind?

I don’t understand the obsession of chasing wealth,

When you end up making lots of money whilst losing yourself

True wealth is about being content,

Not about the shoes, whips or thousands you’ve spent,

It is the gratitude for being alive we should focus on instead,

Or even the necessities we take for granted, water and bread

Before I go, I wanted to share a profound verse that has got me through,

Now if it helped me then it can definitely help you

So, which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?

I will repeat that, so which of the favours of your Lord would you deny?

For those who may not know, that’s surah 55,

We have been blessed beyond measure, more than we realise

So this verse made me ponder on what is the goal in life?

In other words, what is the ultimate prize?

Is it Yeezys, an Audi or a house off the M5

Nah rather it is to make the most of my abilities before I die

God graced me with the ability to talk, argue and write

No so I could amass wealth, lie and ruin lives

And so which favours can I possibly deny?

We do not deserve a single thing, yet he constantly provides

Did you know that when you cry, your tears actually rehydrate your eyes,

So which of the favours of your Lord will YOU deny?

That’s enough of preaching, I’m no scholar and I’m certainly not perfect

I make mistakes hourly, I still need to repent and reflect,

So I’ll go back to my grind, try and get that 2:1

Be the first to get a degree, see my mum proud of her eldest son,

But I wanted to send a message to all of you who read this today,

You are special, you are talented, You have the potential to be great,

There are some in this world who want to build walls to separate,

Let me remind them and remind you, Love will always trump hate

On a more hopeful note, Enjoy your friends company and talk to each other honestly,

Hug your families, young and elderly,

Tell them you love them consistently and regularly

So to conclude, these aren’t just words on a page

They are thoughts and feelings stored in my brain,

A mixture of emotions, from ecstasy to pain,

Said aloud, not for fortune or fame,

With everything to lose and nothing to gain,

But to share a story that isn’t gory and maybe slightly boring

I want to say a big thanks to everyone here and to Isoc too,

I will end how I started, As-salamu-alaikum, wa-rahma-tullahi-wa-barakahtuhu

– Hamza Hasan 

You are who you surround yourself with

They say if you want to know the character of a person, look at the people they surround themselves with.

If you were to pause for a moment and evaluate your friendships, would you say that the people you surround yourself with are indicative of your character or of who you want to be?

If you had asked me this at previous points throughout my life, I would have been hesitant and unsure in my answer. But ask me now, now that I’m surrounded by so many new people, and I’ll tell you that if I am anything at all like my friends then I will be so very happy.

Moving away from home gave me an opportunity to choose who I want in my life. It allowed me to look back and see how some seemingly perfect, high school friendships weren’t what I built them up to be, and that other friendships, despite suffering bumps and bruises that distance unavoidably brings, are worth fighting for.

Old friends consisted of those I’ve shared a history with. But high school memories and Facebook albums are not always enough. There is a beauty in having old friends, that I will not deny, but history alone is not enough to bring all friendships into the present.

Comparing it to the people around me now, the difference couldn’t be more contrasting. My friends make me a better person and I am so very grateful to have found them. We are all on a journey, continuously striving to become better people, constantly changing and learning. What better and easier way to do it than in the company of those with good character?

The prophet (SAW) said ‘the similitude of a good companion is like the owner of musk, if you don’t get anything, you will get the smell of it’.

The people you surround yourself with, you become. If you subject yourself to people who are negative, it will affect you regardless of your strength as an individual. You are not immune to a constant surrounding of negative energy or bad influence.

Your friends should bring out the best in you. Good friends, who prioritise their relationship with God, will help us on the spiritual path. People who hold the same values and beliefs that we do, make the best friends. They remind you to pray, they help you to increase in knowledge and when you face difficulties they support you and help you to have Sabr. Ultimately, they will remind us of Allah during these tests and help us to rely on Him. They will love and forgive you for the sake of Allah.

Here I have made true friends; friends that will trek around Northern Quarter with you in search of a changing room to pray, friends that send you beautiful Surahs to listen to when you’re sad, friends that keep fasts with you so you don’t have to make up for them alone.

It is so important to choose your company wisely. Be relentless with surrounding yourself with those who bring out the best in you. Your direction in life depends on it.

And while you’re at it, have the courage to be a good friend to those who choose you.

‘Close friends on that day will be enemies to each other except for the righteous.’ (43:67)

– Zahra Ali 

The souls we don’t see

 

We only ever really see a small fraction of a person. Our perspective is incredibly limited.

We don’t have access to the hearts of those around us, nor do we hear their cries in the quietest portion of the night.

And often, when we make negative assumptions about others, it is a reflection of our own ill feelings and insecurities.

The person we look at with pity, the one whom we think does no good, the one we laugh at…

That person may have thousands of prayers called in their name as they sleep from those they have helped in secret.

Many beautiful souls live amongst us.
They are those who are so valuable in the sight of their Lord, yet their beauty is overlooked by the world.

If only we understood.

“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them.”

Quran – 49:11

Beginnings

 

Beginnings are special. They signify opportunity.

Just as the Sun radiates through the night sky to greet us with morning, beginnings carry with them countless blessings.

These words mark the start of Manchester ISoc’s brand new blog. A platform to share stories, thoughts and reflections.

We ask Allah (swt) to make this a good beginning, and a continuous source of benefit for us all.

And what better way to begin our endeavours than in the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful?
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم