Women’s History Campaign

2 minute read

In our second Women’s History post, we highlight the contributions two inspirational muslim women Fatima al-Fihri and Lubna of Cordoba, have made to society. With an aim to increase appreciation of the role Muslim women played in their time periods and respective fields and hope to encourage other muslim women to take inspiration and become masters in their fields.

Fatima al Fihri 

Fatima al-Fihri was born in 800 A.D into a wealthy family in Tunisia. Her father was Mohammed Bnou Abdullah Al-Fihri who was a rich merchant during the rule of Idris II. She was married but both her father and husband died soon after her marriage.

Fatima is known to be the founder of the first university in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records, dating back over 1000 years ago. When her father died, he left behind a huge fortune for her, which she invested back into her community by building a masjid and university in Fez, naming it al-Qarawiyyin after her hometown. 

This became an educational hub for people all over the world, coming to study many subjects from religion, to the sciences, to languages. From the 10th century onwards, al-Qarawiyyin masjid became the largest Arab university in North Africa. Some well-known people associated with the university were Ibn Khaldun, Abu Walid Ibn Rushd and Gerbert of Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II).

Lubna of Córdoba 

Lubna of Córdoba, an Andalusian born in the 10th century, was an intellectual known for her proficiency in mathematics, grammar and in writing poetry. Some narrations say that she was born a slave girl – this only makes it more inspiring to know that she rose to be one of the most important figures at the Andalusian court of Caliph al Hakam II.

Lubna held two main roles at the court: a scribe and a secretary. Her role as a scribe meant that she was in charge of writing and translating many manuscripts in the library of Córdoba. Additionally, she went above and beyond her role to provide her own annotations to important texts including those written by Euclid and Archimedes. She was the driving force behind the creation of the library of Medina Azahara – this famous library was home to more than 500,000 books.

Later she became the personal secretary of Caliph al Hakam II. To top this off, some sources narrate that she would give up her time to roam the streets of Córdoba teaching children mathematics.

Women like Lubna were not necessarily ordinary or unique during the reign of al Hakam II; there were many female scholars that existed during this time who were skilled in multiple disciplines, in fields such as politics, administration, social, intellectual and literary arts, during 10th Century Al-Andalus.

The many, varied contributions of women in the Andalusian Muslim civilisation, highlights the active role that they played in the advancement of a society rich in culture, education, tolerance and more

Making the Most of Ramadan: Practicing Gratitude

2 minute read

Being grateful is something we can all work on. Allah has blessed us in ways so numerous we couldn’t begin to count them; He says in the Quran:

“And if you should count the favors of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” [16:18]

However, many of us do not recognise or reflect on these blessings, or even if we do, we don’t express this gratitude to Allah.

How many of us would wake up with nothing, if all that we were left with were the things we thanked Allah for the day before?

One small way we can start to work on practising gratitude is to take a quiet moment, perhaps after prayer, to sit and reflect. In these moments we can begin by identifying 3 (or more) particular blessings Allah has bestowed on us (nothing is too small) and that we are grateful for – it’s important to choose things we feel grateful for – and then raise our hands and praise Allah and thank Him for these blessings; the simplest way we can do this is by repeating alhamdulilah.

By repeating this daily or more, we’ll begin to develop the mindset of seeing and focusing on the blessings Allah has surrounded us with, and bi’thnillah begin to learn how to be truly grateful to Allah.

Another way in which we can show gratitude to Allah is by obeying His commands – this is the physical manifestation of the gratitude we feel in our hearts and express on our tongues.

We should also make plenty of dua to Allah to allow us to be grateful and call upon Him by His beautiful names – for example, ash-Shakoor (the most appreciative) and al-Hameed (the praiseworthy).

 رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِىٓ أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ ٱلَّتِىٓ أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَىَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَٰلِدَىَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَـٰلِحًا تَرْضَىٰهُ وَأَدْخِلْنِى بِرَحْمَتِكَ فِى عِبَادِكَ ٱلصَّـٰلِحِينَ

“My Lord! Inspire me to ˹always˺ be thankful for Your favours which You have blessed me and my parents with, and to do good deeds that please you. Admit me, by Your mercy, into ˹the company of˺ Your righteous servants.”

In his dua, Sulaiman (A.S) acknowledges and thanks Allah for the favours bestowed upon his parents as well as on him. We should do the same, as our blessings are an extension of those Allah granted to our parents. We should also realise our ability to express gratitude to Allah is only by His mercy, so we should be grateful for being able to be grateful!

Making the Most of Ramadan: Maintaining Family Bonds

2 minute read

We hope your Ramadan is going well for you inshaAllah, today we bring you another mini blog post on Making the Most of Ramadan, and we discuss the importance of maintaining family ties.

While we are striving this Ramadan to improve our relationship with Allah and seek His reward and forgiveness, we shouldn’t forget our families. Islam places so much emphasis on maintaining the ties of kinship, and our relatives have certain rights over us which we should honour. Being away from home and our families means it’s even more important that we strive to honour these rights and maintain these bonds. 

Maintaining family bonds is a source of plentiful blessing for us, and severing them will have severe consequences. The Prophet ﷺ said:

Kinship (rahim) is derived from Allah. If anyone maintains ties of kinship Allah maintains ties with him. If anyone cuts them off, Allah cuts him off.

Maintaining family ties means we show our families compassion and kindness, we help them when they are in need and we stay connected. Allah placed these people in our lives and made them our family for a reason, and we should honour and cherish them as much as we can. For example, we may take some time out of our day to ring our parents, siblings, or other family members. It may be that it is our parents or relatives who usually ring us, so this simple act of reaching out first might make their day. 

Truly upholding these ties means we do so in times of difficulty and towards relatives who may not have treated us favourably in the past. This is not easy, but we should know that it is a sign of faith. We should also make plenty of dua for our family, as well as the Ummah.

Making the Most of Ramadan: Sadaqah

3 minute read

Sadaqah describes a voluntary charitable act towards another being, whether through generosity, love, compassion or faith. Sadaqah Jariyah is a long-term kindness, a gesture that continues to give after you have gone. We should think of it as an investment in our akhira; that small amount of money, or time, or knowledge we spend in the way of Allah will earn us reward – in our lifetime and beyond. When our time comes to depart from this world and return to Allah, it is one of the three things we will still be able to reap reward from, bi’thnillah:

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased).

We’ve all heard the saying ‘charity begins at home’ and we can apply this here too. Being students, we might not have much money to spare however there is still so much we can give. Many of us have younger siblings, cousins, or neighbours. Helping them practise their Quran recitation, or teaching them a small dua is sadaqah jaariyah as this will remain with them for their lifetime, and if they pass on the knowledge you impoarted upon them, you will gain reward for it also, and it will come to our aid on the Day of Judgement. Even telling them a story about one of our pious predecessors can all be forms of sadaqah for us insha’Allah. The Prophet ﷺ  said ‘Convey from me, even if it is a verse’. We all have something we can share, and we should begin with those around and closest to us. 

If we do have some money to spare, there are many amazing projects we can donate to. We can do this for ourselves, or on behalf of someone else. We don’t have to build a whole mosque or water well to benefit, even donating £1 towards any good cause will insha’Allah be a source of barakah for us, well beyond our time on this earth. Examples of Sadaqah Jariyah include helping to build a well, school, hospital, or masjid. The beauty of Sadaqah Jariyah is that you earn a reward every time it is used, for as long as it is used.

The example of those who spend in the way of Allah is just like a grain that produced seven ears, each ear having a hundred grains, and Allah multiplies (the reward) for whom He wills. Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing. [2:261]

There are many virtues of giving sadaqah and I have listed a few below in hope you take inspiration and decide to implement this in your lives, during this virtuous month of Ramadhan and after too!

1. Sadaqah eases hardships and removes calamities

The Prophet (saw) said “Give Sadaqah without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” (Tirmidhi)

As Muslim, we believe that Allah (swt) has created this life as a test of our faith and loyalty through hardships. Giving Sadaqah during a difficult time shows strong Iman and gratitude to Allah (swt). Only Allah’s (swt) infinite mercy can change a situation and giving Sadaqah is a way of drawing closer to Him.

2. Sadaqah atones our sins and offers shade on the Day of Judgement

The Prophet (saw) said: “Charity extinguishes the sins like water extinguishes a fire.” (Ibn Majah)

On the Day of Judgement, every person will be held accountable for their sins, both major and minor. Giving Sadaqah regularly is a simple way of helping to expiate any sins we have committed knowingly, and unknowingly.  

The Prophet (saw) said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” (Tirmidhi)

3.Sadaqah opens the gates of paradise

Only those believers who were charitable and gave Sadaqah in the way of Allah, to their parents, orphans, widows, the sick and the needy will be allowed to enter through Baab As-Sadaqah, one of 8 gates to Jannah.

“But those who feared their Lord will be driven to Paradise in groups until, when they reach it while its gates have been opened and its keepers say, “Peace be upon you; you have become pure; so enter it to abide eternally therein,” (Quran 39:73)

4. Sadaqah creates balance and benefits to all of society

Sadaqah benefits the whole community and ensures that the most vulnerable, including  orphans, widows, the sick and needy, have an equal standing in society.  Remember, any act of kindness is Sadaqah, not just  money.

The Prophet said: “Your smile for your brother is a charity. Your removal of stones, thorns, or bones from the paths of people is a charity. Your guidance of a person who is lost is a charity” (Bukhari)

Who is Allah? At-Tawwab, The Acceptor of Repentance

2 minute read

Continuing with our Who is Allah campaign, this week we learn more about Allah’s name: At-Tawwab, the one who accepts repentance. What better time to turn to Allah and seek his forgiveness and guidance, than the blessed month of Ramadan!

At Tawwab is the one who urges for our return to him and this beautiful month is the exact time for us to do that. He is the one who repeatedly guides us to turn back to him if we ever enter the wrong path and all he wants from us is to remember him and seek his aid.

From the root t-w-b which has the following classical Arabic connotations: to return to goodness, to repent, to be restored, to be rewarded for deeds, to be repeatedly summoned or called. This tells us that Allah is all good and pure, so to return to goodness is to return to Allah. If you are struggling, in pain, or even if you are happy and well, there is Allah’s mercy in it all, so it is vital we keep His name on the tip of our tongues.

As we have been blessed enough to enter this holy month, it is important we use our time wisely – to do ibadah (worship) and seek forgiveness. It is often the case that the more one sins, the more likely they are to stray away from God as they fear they are undeserving of His mercy. However, to think that way is also a sin as it is doubting the love and rahma of Allah SWT. To know that He wants us to return to Him and that He WANTS to reward us for our deeds, yet still believe He won’t forgive you and your sins if you were to genuinely repent, then you are once again, doubting who He is.

Ramadan is the month of forgiveness and mercy so regardless of the sins you have committed, use this time to turn back to your creator and grab every opportunity you can to do good. We must live each day as it is our last and each ramadan as if it is our last. Enjoy the moments you get at suhoor and iftaar, at taraweh and tahajjud, at the last hour before maghrib or the nap you take after duhur, the moments you share with friends and the ones you share with family, there is ibaadah in it all if you are doing it for the sake of Allah and remembering Him. So make the absolute most of this month so that even when it is over, you are no afraid to ask for Allah SWT’s mercy!

May this month be beneficial and beautiful for us all, Ameen

Asiyah & Zaynab Bint Muhammad

3 minute read

For Women’s History Month we wanted to showcase some of the amazing contributions that Muslim women across history have made. In today’s post we’ll be discussing Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoah and Zaynab, the eldest daughter of our Prophet Muhammad.

Asiyah:

Asiyah, the wife of Pharaoh, and the adoptive mother of Prophet Musa (as) was no ordinary woman. Her strength and her status will forever remain unsurpassed.

She was a woman who never allowed herself to be defined or limited by her painful circumstances, but rather carried in her such a deep faith and sense of self that she was willing to die for what she believed in. It was for this reason that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned her as one of the four greatest women of all time.

She brought Musa (as) up under her protection and believed in his message as he grew up to be the Prophet he was. When Pharaoh found out, he tortured her severely but her faith was so strong that she was willing to suffer. This made her an everlasting symbol.

{God sets forth an example for those who believe — the wife of Pharaoh who said: “My Lord, build for me with Thee a house in heaven, and save me from the Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from an unjust people.”} (66:11)

Asiyah had no attachment to this life and she was not defined by the wickedness of the man she married. Her mind and her soul remained independent from him; and her heart was not a slave to his beliefs. She refused to submit to the tyranny of her husband, but chose instead to devote her soul and her life to Allah.

And in the story of Asiyah is an everlasting example of a woman who chose the Hereafter over all of the glitter of this world, and whose love for Allah and the Home with Him inspired her to take on the greatest tyrant of all time and give her life in the process. A woman we should all take as an example.

Zaynab bint Muhammad

Zaynab was the eldest daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She was amongst the first ten people to accept Islam shortly after the beginning of her father’s prophethood.

Zaynab (ra) was married to her maternal cousin Abu Al-’As Ibn Rabi’ around the same time the revelations were first revealed to the Prophet (saw). Their first child was Ali, who died at a young age and their second child was Umama (ra).The decision that Zaynab(ra) made to accept Islam created a strain on their relationship as Abu Al-’As was initially reluctant to accept Islam as a result of tribalism at the time. This delayed Abu Al-’As’s acceptance of Islam, as he was worried that his relatives would think that he had abandoned the religion of his forefathers for his wife. However, Abu Al-As resisted the societal pressure to divorce Zaynab (ra), to which the Prophet (saw) commended him as it showed the extent of his nobility.

As the time for Hijrah began, Zaynab (ra) wanted to join the Prophet (saw) but made the difficult decision to stay behind with her husband in Makkah. Shortly after Hijrah, the first battle between the Muslims and the disbelievers of Quraysh occurred: The Battle of Badr. It was this battle that created an intense amount of emotional turmoil for Zaynab (ra) as it meant that her husband would have to fight her father, the best of mankind: The Prophet (saw) . The prospect of her children being orphaned or losing her father meant that Zaynab (ra) had to overcome much sorrow and despair.

During this battle, her husband Abu Al-’As was taken as a hostage following the victory of the Muslims. Zaynab (ra) did not own many possessions, so in order to pay his ransom she offered the necklace that was gifted to her by her late mother.

When the Prophet (saw) received this necklace as ransom, he was reduced to tears by the memory of Khadijah (ra). He then refused to accept this and asked for her husband to be released from being a prisoner and the necklace to be returned. Abu Al-’As returned to Makkah and was reunited with Zaynab (ra). However, this was cut short as the Prophet (saw) was ordered by Allah in a recent revelation to forbid the marriage of a Muslim woman to a disbelieving man. Therefore, once Abu Al-’As returned to Makkah he sent Zaynab (ra) to Medina to join her father and her family. She was once again separated from her husband but through her unwavering patience, she persevered.

After this, she refused to re-marry for many years, with the hope that one day Allah would accept her prayer and Abu Al-’As would embrace Islam.Many years later after an encounter in Medina with Zaynab (ra), Abu Al-’As said his shahadah and accepted Islam. With the Prophet (saw) permission he was reunited again with his wife. Unfortunately, their long awaited reunion was short-lived as Zaynab (ra) passed away only a year later in the year 629 CE.

From her story, we can learn Zaynab (ra) was a courageous and righteous woman through the many sacrifices she made in pursuit of Islam and the way her devotion to Allah and his Messenger triumphed over her worldly matters.

Making The Most of Ramadan: Dua

2 minute read

Dua is one of the most powerful tools that we have. It is through dua that Qadr (divine decree) can be changed and the status of Dua in the sight of Allah shouldn’t be underestimated – the Prophet ﷺ said:

Nothing is more honourable to Allah Almighty than supplication.

Allah commands us to make dua, so the action itself is a form of ibadah and a means through which we can develop our relationship with Him. Furthermore, we should not despair even if it seems our dua is unanswered, when a servant of Allah calls upon Him “ Allah will give him one of three answers: He will quickly fulfil his supplication, He will store it for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an evil from him similar to it…”

There are certain times or situations in which our duas are more likely to be answered, and this is something we can take advantage of:

  1. During the last third of the night [Abu Dawud]
  2. During prostration in prayer [Sahih Muslim]
  3. Between the athan and iqamah [Abu Dawud]
  4. While fasting [Tirmidhi]
  5. When it rains [Abu Dawud]
  6. The dua of the traveller [Tirmidhi]
  7. While drinking Zamzam water [Ibn Majah]
  8. A time on Fridays – scholars differ whether this is between the two khutbahs or the last hour before maghrib [Abu Dawud]
  9. Dua at the time of iftar [Tirmidhi]

When making dua, there are certain etiquettes that we should follow. We should be in a state of wudhu, if possible, and face the Qibla. We should begin by praising Allah and calling upon Him by his beautiful names, and send salutations upon the Prophet ﷺ as our supplication is suspended between the heavens and earth until we do so. We should be sincere in our duas and know that as Allah is the One who inspired us to raise our hands and ask, He wants to give. 

As well as making dua for ourselves and our loved ones we should make dua for the wider community and the Ummah. Whenever we make dua for others the angels reply with “Ameen may it be for you, too” so even through doing this for others, we are still benefiting. 

Here are a few topics of Dua:

  • Thanking Allah for your blessings
  • Remembrance of Allah Forgiveness 
  • Protection from harm 
  • Protection from the hellfire 
  • Entry into the highest rank of Paradise – Jannah al Firdaws
  • To receive the mercy of Allah on the day of judgement 
  • Duas from Qur’an and Sunnah
  • Your parents 
  • For others (family, friends, the ummah) 
  • Goals. 
  • Work & Rizq 
  • Health 

We have put together a Dua booklet which covers common daily Duas, different topics for Dua and an insightful overview of best times for Dua. Share this with your friends and family so that they may benefit from this (and make dua for you! )

Making the Most of Ramadan: Turning Back to Allah

2 minute read

Turning back to Allah

Allah is al-Ghafoor (the ever forgiving) and al-Ghaffar (the all forgiving). He loves to forgive us and loves those who repent often so we should try our best to be from among them. We may at times feel overwhelmed by our sins however we should realise that through sincere repentance, no matter what we have done, we can be forgiven. As humans, we will inevitably fall into sin – this is in our nature. However it is what we do next that really counts. We can fall into despair and allow Shaytaan’s whispers to overcome us or we can transform the situation into an opportunity to experience Allah’s qualities of love and mercy and forgiveness. Allah says:

O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it. [Hadith Qudsi – 34]

It may be that through committing a sin, and repenting sincerely for it, we take a step towards Allah that we may never have otherwise taken. In that way, we should see our sins as a path through which we can return to Allah rather than allowing them to create distance between us and Him. 

Say, ˹O Prophet, that Allah says,˺ “O My servants who have exceeded the limits against their souls! Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [39:53]

Seeking forgiveness often from Allah is something we can begin doing this Ramadan if we are not doing so already. One dua which allows us to do so is as follows:

Allahumma innaka `Afuwwun Tuhibbul `Afwa Fa`fu `Annii ( or Annaa)

O Allah, You are pardoning and you love to pardon, so pardon me.

We should especially make an effort to read this dua during the last 10 days of Ramadan, as the Prophet ﷺ recommended the above when Aisha (RA) asked him what she should read on laylatul qadr. [Riyadh-As-Saliheen]

Another habit we should try to form in relation to sin is following every bad deed we do with a good deed in order to erase it. This attitude embodies what Allah says in the Quran ‘Good and evil cannot be equal. Repel evil by that which is better, and then the one who is hostile to you will become as a devoted friend’ [41:34]. We can use this same concept not just when we commit sins but when sins are committed against us, by controlling our anger and being patient and forgiving, just as we hope Allah will be towards us.

6 Steps to Plan Your Ramadan!

6 minute read

Ramadan 2021 is just around the corner, and there is this beautiful festivity and excitement in the air as we all wait anxiously for the month to arrive. 

Around this time of the year, I am usually opening up my journals to plan out how I want this Ramadan to go. When we want to achieve the best in something, we always tend to have a plan. As the quote goes, ‘If you fail to plan, plan to fail.’ But sometimes we forget to apply the same system to our Hereafter too.

My first time I tried actively planning for Ramadan was around 3 years ago, when I first started bullet journaling. Its been an ongoing experiment these past 3 years, but there’s so much I’ve gained by taking this up and so I wanted to share a few tips to help anyone begin their Ramadan plan.

So, here’s 6 steps to plan for your Ramadan. 

1. Reflect

Before you begin to plan for this Ramadan, sit down with yourself and reflect on how your previous year since last Ramadan went. We want to make sure every Ramadan was better than the previous and to do that we need to first identify how the previous one went. Journaling comes in handy as it gives you access to exactly how your days played out. However, if you are not a journal-er, fret not. Simply think back to last Ramadan and jot down: 

  • What you think went well 
  • What habits were you able to sustain throughout the year
  • What you think did not go as well 
  • Why do you think this happened

Here is an example –

What went well: I prayed taraweeh every night

What habit was I able to sustain throughout the year: The 12 Sunnah salaahs

What didn’t go so well: I didn’t have as much khushoo in my prayers as I would have liked. 

Why: I didn’t cut down on my social media use and so had the same level of khushoo outside Ramadan

Jot as many as you can think of, as all these reflections will help to shape a better Ramadan for this year.

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2. Dunya Schedule

Identify what type of worldly obligations and responsibilities you have. As much as we would all like to dedicate our full days to just ibadah (worship), work and study is inevitable. By not taking into account these variables, we end up setting unrealistic goals for ourselves which inevitably leads to disappointment.

 So, do you have classes, meetings, deadlines, exams? Set out a calendar for the month of Ramadan and mark down all these events. By doing this, you are now able to create goals that are realistic to your situation.

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3. Things to cut down on

Ramadan is a month of doing as much good as possible. However, before we consider what extra deeds we want to do in the month, we first have to decide what we want to cut out. This is a step that is often overlooked, but one that is extremely crucial if we want to truly benefit spiritually. 

Reflect on this Hadith:

“Verily, when the servant commits a sin, a black mark appears upon his heart. If he abandons the sin, seeks forgiveness, and repents, then his heart will be polished. If he returns to the sin, the blackness will be increased until it overcomes his heart.”

(Tirmidhi 3334)

Think back to last Ramadan. Look at your step 1, to the points about what did not go so well for you. Were you spending your mornings with the Quran, standing the nights in prayer, listening to reminder after reminder, but found yourself unable to truly feel connected in prayer, unable to cry during your dua? If this is you, this could simply mean there was some other deed that was stopping you from really reaching that connection. If there was a sin you were indulging during the month, there may have a been a few extra black spots on your heart for it to truly take in the blessings of all the good acts you were performing.  

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Keep in mind that a lot of the time, the deeds that stop this are not exactly sins in themselves. They are in between and so we tend to guiltlessly indulge in them without realizing that this leads to a lot of ghaflah (heedlessness) and waste of time. Both these effects seep into our good deeds without us realizing, preventing us from truly gaining spiritually.

There are many different acts that can cause this; excessive socialising, entertainment, etc. And a big one — social media. While a lot of good can be found, we all know what happens when you start scrolling through meme pages. The best course of action is to limit your use, whether it be placing time limit apps or installing them only for a particular time in the day. 

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4. Things to add on

Since we have considered what we are going to cut down on, we can now move onto what we want to add. 

I like to break this down into:

  • Habits I want to build
  • Extra acts of worship

Habits I want to build

These are acts that you want to continue for the rest of the year. Ramadan is the perfect time to build new habits. It’s the New Year’s resolution time for the Muslim, and Allah gives us a month where the Shaytan are locked up to make it easier for us to set it in stone.

These habits can range from wanting to pray all 5 Salaah to more Dhikr or Sadaqah. But keep in mind 2 points when deciding what habits you want to build. Firstly, consider your why. Why do you want to build this habit, what is your intention? This helps you stay motivated to stick with the habit. After that, we need a course of action for how you are going to achieve it. This means giving it a time in your day to implement it. Without assigning a time, it becomes very easy to overlook it. My favourite way of doing this is attaching it to an action that I’m already consistent with. This makes it a lot easier to build the habit.

For example:

Habit I want to build: Reciting 100 istighfar a day.

Why: Because the one who is constant in seeking forgiveness, Allah makes for him “a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” (Riyad as-Salihin 1873)

Course of action: Recite 20 after every prayer.

A reminder to not try to become too ambitious with the number of habits you want to add. These are habits you want to keep past Ramadan, for life. Try to limit yourself to 2–3 and keep in mind the Hadith;

“the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

(Bukhari 6464)

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Extra acts of worship

We know every good deed in Ramadan is multiplied immensely in reward, so we want to make sure we exert ourselves in good deeds. These are the main areas to consider when deciding on what extra acts you want to do.

  • Quran — more recitation, reading the translation, reflecting on the meaning
  • Salaah — the 12 Sunnah, Salatul Duha, Taraweeh
  • Sadaqah — setting an automatic daily charity system, helping out with Iftar, volunteering
  • Dhikr — morning and evening duas, Istighfar, Salawat

These are all just examples. Think back to your reflections from step 1 and decide which good deeds went well for you last Ramadan and which new ones you would like to add to this year. 

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5. Timetable

Steps 1 to 4 gave us all the jigsaw pieces to achieve the best Ramadan. Now, it is about putting the jigsaw pieces together. I do not recommend having an hour-by-hour timetable as that can feel too constraining and harder to stick to. Instead, I usually take this in 2 steps.

Firstly, planning the day in slots, revolving around Salaah. Decide what you want to slot in from one salaah to the next. Your Dunya Schedule from step 2 can help identify which slots you need to dedicate to your worldly obligations, and which slots you can use for your ibadah (worship).

Secondly, extending your Salaah breaks to stay on your prayer mat for a few more minutes than usual to incorporate some good deeds from step 4. For example, reciting x amount of Quran and y amount of Dhikr after each prayer. This is a beautiful yet simpler way of incorporating those habits you want to build. It also adds this amazing barakah to your day since everything is revolving around acts of worship and it also means you do not have to dedicate chunks of your day to solely one action as that can feel difficult to maintain long term.

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6. Dua list

Although this isn’t a point explicitly connected with planning, making a Dua list is something I highly recommend. This is where you note down, in a list, all the Duas you want to ask Allah. Apart from the list helping you to not leave out anything, the most beautiful part is when you look back on this list, days or months later, and realise how many of your Duas Allah has been answering. There is no moment of greater gratitude. 

If you are struggling where to start, below are a few categories. Remember to make this Dua list personal to you. Feel free to add Duas from the Quran and Hadith but also keep in mind that Dua is your personal conversation with your Lord. 

  • My Hereafter
  • My family and friends
  • My Deen (relationship with Allah, Quran, knowledge)
  • My Dunya (career, aspirations, marriage)
  • My internal state (character, state of heart)

اَللّهُمَّ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

I pray that Allah allows us all to reach this Ramadan and fully reap all the benefits from it. Ameen.

Making the Most of Ramadan: Light on the Tongue

3 minute read

Light on the Tongue But Heavy On the Scales

So often we get caught up in the rush of life to the extent that we can go for long periods without remembering Allah outside the obligatory acts. We may utter Alhamdulilah or Subhanallah or Masha’Allah in response to certain situations, but do we ever stop to really ponder the weight of these words?

Allah says in the Quran:

“O You who believe!  Remember Allah with much remembrance” [33:41].

Dhikr grounds us; when we are busy chasing the dunya it’s a means of reminding us that we are in fact seeking far greater than it. It’s the perfect act for us to incorporate into our days, requiring nothing more than for us to move our tongues and engage our hearts. It is something we can do whilst walking around campus, or cooking or doing some other mundane task. When a man came to the Prophet ﷺ  complaining that the laws of Islam were too many for him, and asking for something he could hold onto, the Prophet ﷺ replied:

Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah [Sunan Ibn Majah – 3793]

Below are some small phrases we can repeat as a form of dhikr and reap the generous benefits from doing so:

1.     Subhanallah wa bihamdihi subhaanallahil adheem

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There are two statements that are light on the tongue, heavy on the Scale, and beloved to Ar-Raḥmān: “Glory is to Allah and the praise; Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent. (Subḥān Allāhi wa biḥamdih, Subḥān Allāhil-Aẓīm)” [Tirmidhi]

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Whoever says, ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea. [Sahih al-Bukhari – 6405]

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “He who recites ‘Subhan Allah wa bihamdihi’ in the morning and in the evening 100 times, will not be surpassed on the Day of Judgement by anyone with better deeds except the one who says the same words or more.” [Muslim]

2.     Astagfirullah wa atoobu ilayhi

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said: ‘I seek the forgiveness of Allah and repent to Him one hundred times each day.’ [Ibn Majah]

3.     La hawla wa la quwwata illa bilaah

The Prophet ﷺ said to Abu Moosa Al-Ash‘ari  : “Should I guide you to a word which is one of the treasures of Paradise?” He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet ﷺ said, “La hawla wala quwwata illa billaah.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

4.     Subhanallah wal hamdu lilahi wallahu akbar

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “He who says ‘Subhānallāh’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than 100 camels. He who says ‘Alhamdullilāh’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than 100 horses on which he sends 100 warriors. He who says ‘Allāhu Akbar’ 100 times before sunrise and 100 times before sunset, it will be better than freeing 100 slaves.” [Ibn Majah]

5.     Alhamdulilah

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

“Purity is half of Iman. Alhamdulillah fills the scales, and subhan-Allah and Alhamdulillah fill that which is between heaven and earth. And the Salah (prayer) is a light, and charity is a proof, and patience is illumination, and the Qur’an is a proof either for you or against you. Every person starts his day as a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [an-Nawawi – 23]The ultimate form of dhikr is the Quran. As the above hadith states, the Quran can either be a witness for us or against us on the day of judgement. Ramadan is the perfect time to work on our relationship with the Quran so that bi’thnillah it will be a proof for us on that day. We should set aside some time each day to read and reflect on the Quran, and if we do not know Arabic, to read the translation alongside it and try our best to understand and reflect upon the meanings.