Beyond Ramadan

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Although Ramadan was a time of spiritual excellence, which set the foundations of where we intend to go above and beyond in our worship, we should also think more long-term and look beyond the month.

Ramadan was the ideal time to begin these new habits, however, we don’t need to abandon them now the month is done. In fact, one way we can know our Ramadan has been accepted is if after the month we continue in goodness.

The following hadith gives us guidance on how we should approach this:

Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.” [Bukhari]

We most likely will not continue with every habit we began during the month; however, we should strive to incorporate one or more into our lives long-term.As the Prophet ﷺ said, the most beloved deed to Allah is the one we do regularly, despite its size, so we must recognise nothing is too small to carry on with, and we shouldn’t underestimate these deeds in the sight of Allah, because perhaps it will be through them that Allah enters us into His Jannah.

Who is Allah? Al Muhaymin, The Protector

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Al Muhaymin is the One who observes His creation with regards to their actions. It is also The One Who offers peace and security and The Trustworthy One Who proclaims the Truth. He is the One who always watches us and looks after us.

Al Muhaymin means the guardian, the witness, the overseer of all things. As He is the creator, He is the one whom watches over us and protects us to ensure His slaves are safeguarded. It comes from the root haa-meem-noon which splits into three meanings of (1) to protect (2) to witness (3) to determine truth. This can be applied to us so that we live life righteously. The Qur’an has been sent to us to that we can determine truth, witness what is right and protect ourselves and our religion. Allah SWT says in 5:48: So, judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires over the truth that has come to you. To each of you We have ordained a code of law and a way of life (end quote). This ayah emphasises the truth that this book holds, and that Allah has given us a code of law to help us live life so that He can protect us and be a witness to any wrongdoings. And if we do not obtain justice in this life, Allah promises us that He will serve it on yawm ad-din (day of judgement).

Our abilities to guard ourselves and be truthful is a representation of who Al Muhaymin is as He is the one who put these attributes in us. We know we can turn to Him when we want peace and security as He is constantly guarding us with His words, actions and more. Even the du’as we so desperately make that never see to be answered, there is rahma (mercy) in that. Surely, he is protecting you from something you do not know of. He extends His wings to us like a hen protecting her chicks – He wants to keep us protected and will continue to do so even if you feel you are going astray. Al Muhaymin has no limits.

The best way to live by Al Muhaymin is to use the Qur’an as your biggest tool in life. Do not just read it, but understand, study, and implement it. When you are struggling, go to the Qur’an; when you are at peace, go to the Qur’an; when you are in need, go to the Qur’an. It is a trustworthy book created to guide you through this dunya (life), so fulfil its rights over you no matter what. Additionally, protect your heart and learn how to best take care of yourself. The Prophet SAW said: There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart [Al-Bukhari]. Your heart is one of the greatest trusts given to you by Al-Muhaymin and it will be your most important witness when you stand before Him, so protect your heart. This can be done through seeking professional or medical help to care for your heart – be aware of the problems that can arise from things like bad food, laziness etc. And even the emotional and mental damages that can be caused and how you can protect and care for yourself against them. It is all part of the bigger picture which is protecting your body and your heart as that is an amanah (trust) from Al Muhaymin Himself.

The Month of The Quran

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This month marks the greatest gift to humanity; the final revelation from the highest heavens. A gift that transcends any era, community or place, sent to the whole of mankind. Revelation that is perfect beyond imitation, inscribed in a preserved tablet. 

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ

‘Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for mankind with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong..’ {2:185}

For the vast majority of us, Ramadan is associated with fasting. However, in this ayah, Allah reintroduces the month of Ramadan as the month of the Quran. This is the only place in the Quran where Ramadan is mentioned by name – this is our call to reap the countless benefits of this month through his divine revelation. 

So how do we truly benefit from the Quran during ramadan?

Tilawah (recitation)

Ramadan is the month of tilawah; it is in this month where Jibril (as) would descend from the heavens to recite the Quran with the Prophetﷺ. The noblest of angels convening with the noblest of creation to recite every single night highlights the immense blessing and reward involved with its recitation during this blessed month.

As to the manner in which we should recite, this was put very beautifully by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (ra), the one whose recitation was described by the Prophetﷺ to be ‘as fresh as it was revealed’.

“Do not scatter the Quran as if it were dates falling from a tree, nor recite quickly as if it were poetry. Stop at its verses that amaze you and let it move your hearts. Let not your concern be reaching the end of the surah.” Source: Akhlāq Ḥamalat al-Qur’ān 1

Our pious predecessors would recite the Quran in such a profound way, completely immersing themselves in their recitation, giving each letter its due. And if you find yourself struggling to recite, be content with the mercy of our Lord who doubles your reward; once for reading and once for enduring the difficulty of recitation.

Tadabbur (reflection)

Reflecting over the verses of the Quran involves more than just reading the tafsir but pausing, listening, repeating and pondering over its verses.

 A prerequisite to doing so is understanding the context in which each ayah and surah was revealed, we can do this by studying the accompanying moments in the seerah. This will enable us to contemplate what prompted revelations from the seven heavens to the earth. Distinguishing between Makki surahs (revealed before hijrah) and Madani surahs (revealed after hijrah) can help us comprehend the greater purpose of the surah, with Makki surahs generally focusing on promoting Tawheed and laying down the foundations of faith, whereas Madani surahs focus on the rules and regulation pertaining to the implementation of this faith. 

Our approach to reflecting upon the Quran should be one of humility and realisation. So when we read over miracles that seemingly defy logic, we should understand the dimensions of our mind have no relevance to Allah swt’s dominion. The human mind is subjected to our own observations and experiences and the Quran transcends this. We should approach the Quran with an open mind, appreciating our own limitations and with the expectation that our own preconceptions will be challenged and corrected.

لَوۡ اَنۡزَلۡنَا هٰذَا الۡقُرۡاٰنَ عَلٰى جَبَلٍ لَّرَاَيۡتَهٗ خَاشِعًا مُّتَصَدِّعًا مِّنۡ خَشۡيَةِ اللّٰهِ​ؕ وَتِلۡكَ الۡاَمۡثَالُ نَضۡرِبُهَا لِلنَّاسِ  لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَتَفَكَّرُوۡنَ‏

If we had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples we present to the people that perhaps they will give thought {59:21}

Such is the magnitude of this glorious Quran that we fail to grasp and constantly overlook.

Tadabbur Template 

A Call To Action

Reciting and reflecting over the Quran is not a means to an end but rather a call to action. When Allah says ‘يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُو ’ ‘oh you who believe’— it is us he is referring to, take heed of the guidance that follows. The companions of our Prophetﷺ would learn to recite ten verses from him and they would not study another ten verses until they had fully understood the knowledge and implemented deeds that were contained within these.They would say, “We learned sacred knowledge and action together.” The solemnity in which they approached the Quran is sadly a rarity in our ummah today.

So we must approach the Quran with a sincere determination to implement the guidance it contains—otherwise what separates reading this book from others? 

We would be doing ourselves a huge disservice if our intention is simply to recite as much as possible rather than implementing its commands and avoiding its prohibitions. So next time we recite the Quran, let’s take a step back and think about the practical ways we can apply its teachings into our daily lives

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَذِكْرَىٰ لِمَن كَانَ لَهُ قَلْبٌ أَوْ أَلْقَى السَّمْعَ وَهُوَ شَهِيد

Surely in this is a reminder for whoever has a ˹mindful˺ heart and lends an attentive ear {50:37}Consistency 

Consistency

The most beloved deeds to Allah are those that are consistent, even if small. Make the Quran a non-negotiable in your life, in the same way brushing your teeth, eating food and showering daily is. Even if on your busiest of days you only manage to recite a few verses, this is still a huge accomplishment in the sight of Allah.

So perhaps we may have felt inadequate in our worship to Allah throughout the past year, we may have even felt inadequate in our worship during this first portion of Ramadan. This month is an opportunity for us to revive our seemingly dead inconceivable hearts. The Quran is our means through which we purify our soul, and what better time to do this free of all the distractions of the Shaytan. At a time where our hearts are receptive to its message most. Ramadan is only but a limited number of days, we are not guaranteed to witness the white crescent moon of the next. So in these last ten days, let us take full advantage of the way Allah has honoured us with the blessing of reaching this month when so many of our beloved brothers and sisters weren’t afforded this.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Allah has his own people among humanity.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, who are they?” The Prophet said, “They are the people of the Quran, the people of Allah and his chosen ones.Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 215

May this blessed month be our stepping stone to making the Quran our companion in this world, and our intercessor in the hereafter. Allahumma Ameen.

The Last 10

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The last 10 days and nights of Ramadan are upon us!

This blessed month has gone by so quickly, no sooner had it come than it is now leaving. But Alhamdullilah for blessing us with these last 10 to utilize to maximise our ibadah and make the most of the rest of the time we have in order to come closer to Allah SWT. If you feel as though you have not utilised enough time in worship so far during this month, don’t worry as that’s what these last 10 nights for. They are your opportunity to go all out and devote yourself to Allah SWT in a bid to receive forgiveness and attain the spiritual contentment that this month has to offer. A chance to benefit immensely from Ramadan and seek the salvation of Allah SWT before the month comes to an end.

Narrated by Aisha (RA): With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (ﷺ) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Sahih al-Bukhari 2024]

In this last third of Ramadan, we should do our best to perfect our fasting and to avoid any shortcomings or sins. We should make dua for Allah. SWT to help us maximise in our good deeds whilst repenting to Him and seeking refuge in Him from the Hellfire. 

Allahumma Ajirna min-an-naar.”

Meaning: O Allah, protect us from the fire.

The last ten days of Ramadan are the most special because hidden within then is the night of Laylatul Qadr, the night the holy Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet SAW, and the night the fate of the creation of Allah SWT is decreed by him.

 . إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَٰهُ فِى لَيْلَةِ ٱلْقَدْرِ
 . وَمَآ أَدْرَىٰكَ مَا لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ

 . لَيْلَةُ ٱلْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ

 . تَنَزَّلُ ٱلْمَلَٰٓئِكَةُ وَٱلرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ

 . سَلَٰمٌ هِىَ حَتَّىٰ مَطْلَعِ ٱلْفَجْرِ

Indeed, We sent it [i.e., the Qur’ān] 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. The angels and the Spirit [i.e., Gabriel] descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn. [Qur’an, 97:1-5]

Narrated by `Aisha (RA), Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Search for the Night of Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 2017]

Laylatul Qadr aka the Night of Decree is a night with many virtues and is a night we should strive to attain. We do not know its exact date, but this is a wisdom of Allah SWT and so we should concentrate our efforts into each of the nights and ensure we are steadfast in our worship across the entire last third of Ramadan so that we can reap its benefits. These nights are the perfect opportunity to search one’s soul, evaluate your good and bad deeds, supplicate to Allah SWT, repent, and seek forgiveness.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) replied, “You should supplicate: (الْلَّهُمَّ اِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي) Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibbul-‘afwa, fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).” [At-Tirmidhi] [Riyad as-Salihin 1195]

What are some tips to help you make the most of the last 10 nights, and especially Laylatul Qadr?

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 1901]

  1. Go back and read through all the previous blog posts in the series ‘Making the Most of Ramadan’ which give some great tips!
  2. Renew your intentions – we are nearing the end of Ramadan so it’s very easy to be tired and sit back. But this is the time you need to go all out. You need to re energize your spiritual battery and ensure you do not waste your nights. Stay focused and do your best to achieve the blessings and rewards which can be attained.
  3. Sincerely make dua to Allah SWT – these are the nights when your all your duas could be answered insha’Allah. So, make sure you are prepared by having a dua list with all you want to ask your Lord for, for yourself and others. Abud-Darda’ (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The supplication of a Muslim for his (Muslim) brother in his absence will certainly be answered. Every time he makes a supplication for good for his brother, the angel appointed for this particular task says: ‘Ameen! May it be for you, too’.” [Muslim] [Riyad as-Salihin 1495]
  4. Recite the Quran – Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, these last 10 nights are those in which the Qur’an was revealed. So, we should increase in our recitation of the Qur’an and ensure we understand and ponder the verses so that we can connect to the words of Allah SWT.
  5. Salah ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that when the last ten nights began Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kept awake at night (for prayer and devotion), wakened his family, and prepared himself to observe prayer (with more vigour) [Sahih Muslim 1174]. So, stand up in prayer, especially in the last third of the night when Allah SWT descends to the lowest heaven, and worship.
  6. Dhikr – make sure you continually remember Allah SWT. By doing small things like reciting the Tasbeeh (SubhanAllah), Tahmeed (Alhamdulillah), Tahleel (Laa ilaaha ill-Allah) and Takbeer (Allahu Akbar), you are accumulating an abundance of rewards and coming closer to Allah SWT.
  7. Give sadaqah – increase in your acts of charity and help those who are in need. The reward for righteous acts during Ramadan is multiplied by 70, and during Laylatul Qadr it would be as though it has been performed for 83 years and 4 months, subhanAllah. Who would want to miss out on this? So ensure you donate, even a little bit consistently over these nights and show mercy to others, so that Allah SWT may show mercy towards you.
  8. Switch off – if you haven’t already, switch off worldly distractions so you can focus on Allah SWT.
  9. Perform i’tikaf – the ultimate form of switching off is to seclude yourself so you can focus solely on worship. However, as students with exams, and due to COVID-19, it may not be possible to spend your time in a masjid. However, we can still try to seclude ourselves for periods of each day in our homes, to use as a time to reflect, perform Ibadah and seek to get closer to Allah SWT.

What rewards am I seeking from Fasting?

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Many of us fast and know that it’s obligatory but don’t always know what benefits we should be seeking from it. 

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ

“He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan with Faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Why do we fast?

For many of us, Ramadan can become habitual and ritualistic, and we don’t give it deeper thought. Let’s refresh our intention every day that we’re fasting for the sake of Allah (swt), for our love and obedience to him.

And whilst there are many health benefits to fasting, including cleansing the body and removing toxins, that alone shouldn’t be our primary motivation to want to fast. We must also remind ourselves that we are fasting for Allah (swt), believing, and acknowledging that this is his deen and that it is an act of worship which he has prescribed upon us.

What rewards are we seeking from Allah (swt)?

1. Forgiveness. When we fast out of eman we’re seeking the reward of forgiveness, we want Allah (swt) to forgive our sins. All of this leads us to the end of the hadith ‘will have his past sins forgiven.’ ((Bukhari and Muslim). So we must fast with certainty that he is going to forgive our sins at the end of this month. A short dua we can implement is:

 اللْهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُعَنِّي 

O Allah, You are Pardoning and you love pardon, so pardon me (tirmidhi)

2. Purification of the heart. Fast with the intention it will cleanse and purify the heart.  

3. Mercy. When we are fasting, we are fasting so Allah (swt) can grant us mercy, we must intend we want his mercy. A dua relating to this is:

رَّبِّ ٱغْفِرْ وَٱرْحَمْ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ

My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the best of those who show mercy (23:118)

4. Fast intending that it prepares us to meet Allah (swt). Prophet ﷺ said There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts, joy when he breaks it, and joy when he meets his Lord’ [Sahih Muslim-213]. There is spiritual enjoyment in fasting. Just like Musa AS, before he spoke to Allah (swt) on Mount Sinai, Allah (swt) commanded him to fast 40 days in preparation for the meeting.

5. Taqwa. “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop Godconsciousness.” (Quran 2:183) We should say ‘Oh Allah (swt) I am seeking the reward of Taqwa, grant me this taqwa.’ Taqwa means to increase in our obedience to him and decrease in disobedience, sins and evil.

We must renew our intentions for fasting daily throughout this blessed month. 

The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Actions are but by intentions and every person shall have only that which he intended’ [Sahih al-Bukhari – 1]

The more intentions we have when fasting, the greater the reward is.

Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.’

When we are rewarded for something, we always expect the reward to be in accordance with who the one rewarding us is. When we know our reward lies with Allah swt who is Al-Mannan (The Ever Giving); Al-Wahhab (The Supreme Bestower); and Al-Kareem (The Most Generous), we can only then imagine how great and bountiful His reward must be. 

The small number of days for which we fast will inshaAllah be rewarded with an eternal abode in al-Firdaws. May Allah swt allow us to be amongst those who enter Jannah through al-Rayyan (the gate in Jannah exclusively for those who observed the fast). Allahuma Ameen.