Ramadan Articles rss

The Last Ten Days of Ramadan

Palestinian Muslims pray at Al-Aqsa mosque during Ramadan

With the Dome of the Rock Mosque seen in the background, Palestinian Muslim worshippers pray, during the first Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. AP / Muhammed Muheisen

How to take full advantage and benefit from the last part of Ramadan?

Though all parts of Ramadan are full of blessings and rewards, its last ten days hold a special status reflected in the recommendations and practices of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions. I will focus here on three major practices of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions during these days.

1-Praying in the last ten nights of Ramadan

Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A narration in Muslim states: “He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time.”

Aisha reported that With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet 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. [Bukhari]

2-Performing I`tikaf in the Masjid (seclusion in the Mosque)

Before going to the essential of this last section, let us stop by one of the great Imam of ahl Assunnah wal jama`ah, one of the greatest revivers of the Da`wah and the methodology of the Salaf, Shaikhul-Islam Shamsuddeen Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah who will give us a brain storming admonition.

He says (rahimahu Allah) in Zaad al Ma`aad fi hadyi khairi al `ibaab :

“Since the hearts’ rectitude and firmness upon the path towards Allah the Most High, rests upon directing it solely upon Allaah and causing it to turn and give all its attention to Allaah the Most High. Since the disorder of the heart cannot be rectified except by turning to Allaah the Most High, and its disorder will be increased by eating and drinking too much, mixing with the people excessively, speaking profusely and sleeping too much. These will cause it to wander into every valley, and cut it off from its path to Allah, weaken it, divert it or put a halt to it.

From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He has prescribed for them fasting, which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking, and empties the hear of its desires which divert it on its journey to Allah the Most High. He prescribed it in due proportion as will be appropriate and will benefit the servant, with regard to this world and the Hereafter, and does not harm him, nor damage what is beneficial for him.

He also prescribed i`tikaf for them, by which is intended that the heart is fully occupied with Allah, the Most High, concentrated upon Him alone, and cut off from preoccupation with the creation. Rather it is engrossed with Him alone, the One free of all defects, such that remembering Him, loving Him and turning to Him takes the place of all anxieties of the heart and its suggestions, such that he is able to overcome them. Thus all his concerns are for Him. His thoughts are all of remembrance of Him, and thinking of how to attain His Pleasure and what will cause nearness to Him. This leads him to feel contented with Allah instead of the people, so that prepares him for being at peace with Him alone on the day of loneliness in the grave, when there is no one else to give comfort, nor anyone to grant solace except Him. So this is the greater goal of I’tikaf”.

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The book Zaad al Ma`aad as well as all other books of Ibn al-Qayyim are amazing works that every Muslim should read. Al-hamdu liLLAH there is a great effort among the followers and revivers of the methodology of the Salaf in translating these books into English. Some of them or part of them are already available. You may want to contact the bookstore of al-Qur’an was-Sunnah Society of North America [USA] or al-Hidaya Publishing in UK.

I`tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practise of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, during the last ten days of Ramadan especially. He would do it during other months as well.

‘Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan.” [Bukhari]

Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu said: “Allah’s Messenger, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to perform i`tikaf for ten days every Ramadan, then when it was the year in which he was taken (died), he performed I`tikaf for twenty days. [Bukhari]

‘Aisha reported that the Prophet,salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him. [Bukhari]

`Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha also reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, “Used to perform i’tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan until Allah the Mighty and Majestic, took him. [Bukhari and Muslim]

Al-Bukhari records from Abu Said that the Prophet (S) said: “Whoever makes I`tikaf with me is to make I’tikaf during the last ten [nights].”

This Sunnah of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, has been abandoned by many Muslims and it is worth reviving it in this era.

Sayyid Sabiq says in Fiqhus-Sunnah :

The sunnah or preferred i`tikaf has no specific time limit. It can be fulfilled by staying in the mosque with the intention of making i`tikaf for a long or short time. The reward will be according to how long one stays in the mosque. If one leaves the mosque and then returns, he should renew his intention to perform itikaf.

Ya’la ibn Umayyah said: “I secluded myself in the mosque for some time for I`tikaf.” ‘Ata told him: “That is I`tikaf, as long as you secluded yourself there.”

One who is performing Sunnah (like in Ramadan) i’tikaf (i.e. not the obligatory one that is made after a vow) may end his i`tikaf at any time, even if it is before the period he intended to stay.

‘Aishah related that if the Prophet intended to make itikaf, he would pray the morning prayer and begin it. One time he wanted to make i`tikaf during the last ten nights of Ramadan, and he ordered his tent to be set up. Aishah reported: “When I saw that, I ordered my tent to be set up, and some of the Prophet’s wives followed suit. When he [the Prophet] prayed the morning prayer, he saw all of the tents, and said: “What is this?” They said: “We are seeking obedience [to Allah and His Messenger].” Then he ordered his tent and those of his wives to be taken down, and he delayed his i`tikaf to the first ten days [of Shawwal].”[Bukhari]

The fact that the Messenger of Allah ordered [his and] his wives’ tents to be struck down and [he himself left and] asked them to leave the i`tikaf after they have made the intention for it shows that they discarded the i`tikaf after they had begun it. (in this small paragraph are some additional comments to clarify things).

It is preferred for the one who is making I`tikaf to perform many supererogatory acts of worship and to occupy himself with prayers, reciting the Qur’an, glorifying and praising Allah, extolling His oneness and His greatness, asking His forgiveness, sending salutations on the Prophet, upon whom be peace, and supplicating Allah – that is, all actions that bring one closer to Allah. Included among these actions is studying and reading books of tafsir and hadith, books on the lives of the Prophets, upon whom be peace, books of fiqh, and so on. It is also preferred to set up a small tent in the courtyard of the mosque as the Prophet did.

Permissible Acts for the Mu`takif (the person performing I`tikaf)

The following acts are permissible for one who is making I’tikaf

(1) The Person may leave his place of I`tikaf to bid farewell to his wife and a Woman can visit her husband who is in I`tikaf}

Safiyyah, radhiya Allahu `anha said : The prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, was making i`tikaf [in the last ten nights of Ramadan], so I came to visit him at night [and his wives were with him and then departed]. I talked with him for a while, then I stood up to leave, [so he said:”Do not hurry for I will accompany you”,. He stood along with me to accompany me back -and her dwelling was in the house of Usaamah Ibn Zayd [until when he came to the door of the mosque near the door of Umm Salamah], two men of the Ansaar were passing by, when they saw the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, they hastened by, so the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said : “Be at your ease for she is Safiyyah bintu Huyayy.” So they said:” ‘SubhanAllah, O Messenger of Allah! [we did not have any doubt about you].’ He said: “Indeed Shaytan circulates in the son of Adam just as blood circulates, and I feared that he would insert an evil thought” -or he said : “something – into your hearts” [Bukhari and Muslim, in [] are additional narrations from Abu Dawud]

(2) Combing and cutting one’s hair, clipping one’s nails, cleaning one’s body, wearing nice clothes or wearing perfume are all permissible. ‘Aishah reported: “The Prophet was Performing itikaf and he would put his head out through the opening to my room and I would clean [or comb in one narration] his hair. I was menstruating at the time.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu Dawud].

(3) The person may go out for some need that he must perform. ‘Aishah reported: “When the Prophet Performed I`tikaf, he brought his head close to me so I could comb his hair, and he would not enter the house except to fulfill the needs a person has.” [al-Bukhari, and Muslim].

Ibn al-Mundhir says: “The scholars agree that the one who performs itikaf may leave the mosque in order to answer the call of nature, for this is something that he personally must perform, and he cannot do it in the mosque. Also, if he needs to eat or drink and there is no one to bring him his food, he may leave to get it. If one needs to vomit, he may leave the mosque to do so. For anything that he must do but cannot do in the mosque, he can leave it, and such acts will not void his itikaf, even if they take a long time. Examples of these types of acts would include washing one’s self from sexual defilement and cleaning his body or clothes from impurities.”

(4) The person may eat, drink, and sleep in the mosque, and he should also keep it clean.

Actions that Nullify the I`tikaf

If a person performs one of the following acts, his I`tikaf will be nullified:

(1) Intentionally leaving the mosque without any need to do so, even if it is for just a short time. In such a case, one would not be staying in the mosque, which is one of the principles of I`tikaf.

(2) Abandoning belief in Islam, as this would nullify all acts of worship. If you ascribe a partner to Allah, your work will fail and you will be among the losers.

(3) Losing one’s reason due to insanity or drunkenness, or the onset of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding, all of which disqualifies a person for itikaf.

(4) Sexual intercourse. Allah says [in meaning]: “But do not associate with your wives while you are in seclusion (I`tikaf) in the mosques. Those are Limits (set by) Allah. Approach not nigh thereto. Thus does Allah make clear His Signs to men: that they may learn self-restraint. [al-Baqara; 2:187]

I`tikaf is not restricted to men only, women also can do it :

‘Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, used to practice I`tikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice I`tikaf after him.[Bukhari]

Dear Sister! when reading this do not forget the modesty and the Hijab of the wife of the Prophet (S) that you should observe if you intend to perform I`tikaf.

3-Seeking Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Decree)

It is the greatest night of the year like the Day of `Arafah is the greatest day of the year. It is a night about which Allah reveled a full Surah, Suratul-Qadr [97:1-5] and the 3rd to the 6th verses of Surat ad-Dukhan [44:3-6]

It is the night when the Qur’an was revealed.

It is the night when the Message (the Final and seal of all messages) sent to Mohammad, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, started

It is the night when the light, that would illuminate mankind to the end of life, began.

It is the night when every matter of ordainment is decreed.

Allah says in what can be translated as :

“Verily! We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Decree (Lailatul-Qadr). And what will make you know what the Night of Decree is? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh (ie. Jibreel [Gabriel]) by Allaah’s Permission with all Decrees, Peace! until the appearance of dawn.” [97:1-5]

and in Surat ad-Dukhan :

“We sent it (this Qur’aan) down on a blessed Night. Verily, We are ever warning (mankind of Our Torment). Therein (that Night) is decreed every matter of ordainment. Amran (i.e. a command or this Qur’aan or His Decree of every matter) from Us. Verily, We are ever sending (the Messenger). (As) a Mercy from your Lord. Verily! He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” [44:3-6]

A person who misses Laylatul-Qadr is really a deprived person!

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said “The blessed month has come to you. Allah has made fasting during it obligatory upon you. During it the gates to Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are locked, and the devils are chained. There is a night [during this month] which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived [of something great].” [Ahmad, an-Nisa’i and al-Bayhaqi]

One who misses this blessed night then he has missed much good for no one misses it except one from whom it is withheld. Therefore it is recommended that the Muslim who is eager to be obedient to Allaah should stand in Prayer during this night out of Eemaan and hoping for the great reward, since if he does this, Allaah will forgive his previous sins (1).

What happens to the person who witnesses Laylatul-Qadr? and what should one do?

Abu Hurairah Radhiya Allahu `anhu reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said : “Whoever stands (in prayer) in Lailatul-Qadr out of Eemaan (faith and sincerity) and seeking reward then his previous sins are forgiven.” [Bukhari]

It is recommended to supplicate a lot during this night, it is reported from our mother ‘Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha, that she said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Lailatul-Qadr was, then what should I say in it?” He said.- “Say.- (Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee.)”

“O Allaah You are The One Who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me.”. [at-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah with a Sahih Isnad]

When is Laylatul-Qadr?

It is preferred to seek this night during the last ten odd nights of Ramadan, as the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam,, strove his best in seeking it during that time. We have already mentioned that the Prophet would stay up during the last ten nights, would wake his wives, and then would remain apart from them to worship.

Ibn Abbas reported that the Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of Ramadan ,’ on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (i.e. 21, 23, 25, respectively). [Bukhari]

`Aishah radhiya Allahu `anha said: “Allah’s Messenger used to practice I`itikaf in the last ten nights and say: ‘Seek out Lailatul-Qadr in the (odd nights) of the last ten of Ramadan.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

However if the servant is too weak or unable, then he should at least not let the last seven pass him by, due to what is reported from Ibn ‘Umar, who said: Allah’s Messenger said: “Seek it in the last ten, and if one of you is too weak or unable then let him not allow that to make him miss the final seven.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

This explains his saying: “I see that your dreams are in agreement (that it is in the last seven) so he who wishes to seek it out then let him seek it in the last seven.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

It is known from the Sunnah, that knowledge of the exact night upon which Lailatul-Qadr falls was taken up because the people argued, ‘Ubaadah ibn as- Saamit, radiyalloahu ‘anhu, said: The Prophet came out intending to tell us about Lailatul-Qadr, however two men were arguing and he said: “I come out to inform you about Lailatul-Qadr but so and so, and, so and so were arguing, so it was raised up, and perhaps that is better for you, so seek it on the (twenty) ninth and the (twenty) seventh and the (twenty) fifth.” [Bukhari]

Some of the ahadeeth indicate that Lailatul-Qadr is in the last ten nights, while others indicate that it is in the odd nights of the last ten, so the first are general and the second more particular, and the particular has to be given priority over the general. Other ahadeeth state that it is in the last seven – and these are restricted by mention of one who is too weak or unable. So there is no confusion, all the ahadeeth agree and are not contradictory.

In conclusion: The Muslim should seek out Lailatui-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten: the night of the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth. If he is too weak or unable to seek it out in all the odd nights, then let him seek it out in the odd nights of the of seven: the night of the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth And Allah knows best. (1)

What are the signs of laylatul-Qadr?

Allaah’s Messenger , salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, described the morning after Lailatul-Qadr, so that the Muslim may know which day it is. From Ubayy, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, who said: that he, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “On the morning following Lailatui-Qadr the sun rises not having any rays, as if it were a brass dish, until it rises up.”[Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmithi and Ibn Majah]

Abu Hurairah, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, said : “We were discussing Lailatul-Qadr in the presence of Allah’s Messenger so he said : ‘Which of you remembers [the night] when the moon arose and was like half a plate?”… [Muslim]

Ibn ‘Abbaas, radhiya Allahu ‘anhuma, said: Allaah’s Messenger, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “Lailatul-Qadr is calm and pleasant, neither hot nor cold, the sun arises on its morning being feeble and red.” [at-Tayaalisee, Ibn Khuzaimah and al-Bazzaar with a Hasan Isnad]

We pray to Allah All Mighty Most Merciful to bless us this Ramadan by witnessing Laylatul-Qadr.

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Ten Tips for Ramadan

Woman reads Quran

A Muslim woman reads a copy of the Quran at the Istiqlal mosque during the second day of ramadan in Jakarta, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, on September 2, 2008. (ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images) #

By Nabeel Khan of http://annoor.wordpress.com/

As the blessed month of Ramadhan approaches, we need to prepare for it in such a way that we can gain the maximum benefit of this month. For many, Ramadhan comes and goes. However, very few people actually benefit from this great month.

Our teachers advise us to live the whole year as if we are in the month of Ramadhan. This magnanimous achievement can only be attained when the actual month of Ramadhan is spent properly. In order to acquire a droplet of the reality mentioned above, Insha Allah, I hope to mention ten points that were given as form of advice to me and many others.

1. Discipline:

Most people already know to abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from one’s spouse during the daytime of Ramadhan. However, a level of discipline must be developed to do righteous acts and abstain from those acts which would earn the displeasure of Allah. That was a basic form of discipline that needs to be developed but along with that, one needs to have discipline in following a particular routine or schedule for Ramadhan.

This will be the real life changing factor for an individual. They wake up for suhoor but also pray Tahajjud at that time. Recite some Qur’an. They eat. Make dua’ while waiting for Salah. They pray Fajr. Recite Qur’an and make zikr. Rest if they need to.

The idea is to make a schedule and act accordingly the whole month without sacrificing their schedule. This is the desired discipline that is required.One may ask, “Why did he not just put the first point as a ‘making a schedule’?” Well, the answer is very simple. Anyone can come up with a schedule, but it takes real discipline to abide by it.

2. Devotional life (‘Ibadah):

Ramadhan is the month where Allah allows us to really fulfill the purpose of our being, and the purpose of our creation. Allah created us all to worship Him, and Him alone.Here, I will not mention virtues of various acts or worship because those can be found in the many books on the merits of certain deeds.

However, since Ramadhan and Qur’an are closely connected, I will say that much of our devotional life should be focused on the Qur’an. Reciting at least the entire Qur’an once in this month. Understanding it from erudite scholarship of our community or from accepted commentaries and Tafaaseer.

I am not asking that a person recites the entire Qur’an and completes one entire commentary of it in one month. Perhaps it may be feasible to recite the entire Qur’an and start off a regimen of a Tafseer and try to finish it on an annual basis.

3. Identifying with the Ummah:

It is important that we feel our fast, i.e. feel hunger and thirst. Apart from that, we can use this to our benefit by making other people’s fast count for us as well. This means that if we feed or give to drink something to someone who fasts, we can get the reward of their fast as well.

Another aspect of identifying with the Ummah is to be grateful for whatever Allah has given us and realize that a little of that we need to give to others so that they may have a decent Ramadhan and wonderful ‘Eid. See what the Ummah is going through and see how we can actively participate to help the Ummah in any way possible.

4. Contact with the Qur’an:

Ramadhan is the month wherein the Qur’an was revealed. This is the month of the Qur’an. It is extremely essential to establish a relationship with the Qur’an. Without going into much detail, I will just mention something practical with regards to the Qur’an and Ramadhan.For the average person, i.e. one who is not scholar or is not a Hafiz, they should read at least one juz per day so that they finish at a minimum one entire Qur’an for the month of Ramadhan.

If one can do more, than Alhamdulillah, no one is stopping anyone.The next thing is to understand the Qur’an. So take the first volume of Ma’ariful Qur’an (for example) and read one section of the Arabic part (if one can) and then read the translation, then read the commentary. Do this every day without fail. Obviously the whole commentary will not be completed in one month, but at least a schedule to read a portion regularly will be developed and hopefully within a year it could be completed.

Also, one should try to memorize those chapters/surahs which are read often like Mulk, Kahf, Ya Seen, Waqi’ah, and Sajdah. Also memorize Surahs from the last juz at least and more if possible.

5. Mujahadah:

Ramadhan is a month of sacrifice and struggle. It is a month where Allah wants our time, our health, our wealth, and our whole being. We literally live the whole year for everything and anything. It is just one month…can we not live one month solely for our Creator?!

So what if we have to sacrifice our sleep, and random other luxuries that we can do without anyway. As the saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” The amount of sacrifice and struggle we put into this month, Allah will reward us in this world and the next accordingly.Give yourself to Allah, and see what Allah has in store for you.

6. Dua’:

The essence of worship is supplication to Allah. This whole month, Allah is willing and readily open to accept all that we ask of Him. It is only to our own loss and detriment that we lack in begging Allah for the things we need.

Prioritize your supplications. Ask firstly for yourself, then your family, community, then the Ummah at large. Within that, prioritize and ask for things pertaining to the hereafter, then ask for things pertaining to this world.Just remember one thing when it comes to dua’, the point of dua’ is not that we need something or we need protection or refuge from some other thing, the point is that Allah told us to supplicate to Him, and that is why one should make dua’ abundantly. There are certain things Allah loves to do, and one of them is to answer the supplications of His servants who call unto Him.

One final aspect regarding dua’ is crying or pretending to cry. Tears are something foreign to Allah and therefore He has immense value for tears. The whole year we become filthy and impure spiritually by sinning, Ramadhan is the month where we purify our spirits by bathing our spirits in our tears.

7. Good Company:

Ramadhan is a month to maximize on good deeds and keep bad deeds at zero. Being in the company of the righteous will allow one to attain this goal. I will keep this point short. The minimum benefit one gets by being in good company is that one will not sin which in turn will cause one to become the greatest worshiper.

There is a hadith reported in Tirmidhi wherein An-Nabi (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) took Abu Hurayrah’s (Radhiyallahu ‘anhu) hand and said, “O Abu Hurayrah, abstain from all prohibitions and you will become the best worshiper.”The maximum benefit is that being with the people of Allah, Insha Allah; a person may just Attain Allah. What can be greater?!

8. Gratitude:

The secret to an increase in anything is to be thankful for it. To make sure that we see this month the next year, appreciate it this year. Be thankful for all that we have in every aspect, even the basic things we neglect and take for granted. We have Iman, we have Islam. Alhamdulillah, we are the best Ummah. We have been given the best book, i.e. the Qur’an.

The best way to appreciate a bounty is to use it for its purpose. Allah has blessed with infinite blessing and bounties. Ramadhan is one of those bounties, so to fully appreciate Ramadhan, we must spend it the way Allah would like us to spend it and attain out goal which is Taqwa.

9. Following the Sunnah:

Anything of the beloved is also beloved. That is a principle of love. Allah has proclaimed the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) as His beloved. If we follow the Sunnah and show a resemblance, then we can also gain the focus of Allah. Particularly follow the Sunnah acts which the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) performed in Ramadhan.

If we have to do something, might as well do it the best way possible. The best way for anything to be done is the way of the Sunnah. If by any chance it was some other way, Allah would have had His Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wa Sallam) do it that way then.

10. Istiqamah:

Imam Junayd Al-Baghdadi (RA) said, “Steadfastness is greater than a thousand miracles.” Please do not tire one’s self out in the initial stages of Ramadhan, rather figure out a routine that works and stick to it regularly. The most beloved of actions to Allah are those that are done consistently even though they may seem minor.

We all need to be thankful for the good that we have done and also for the evil we are able to abstain from. We also need to be thankful for whatever level of steadfastness that we have. We want to make Ramadhan last beyond Ramadhan as well.

I’ll end with a quote from one of our mashaaikh, Shaykh In’aam-ul-Hasan Kandehlawi (RA) said, “Whoever lives their life as they do in Ramadhan, then death will come to that person just as the moon of ‘Eid comes for the fasting person.”

To conclude, we pray to Allah that He accepts all of our efforts and overlooks and forgives all of our shortcomings. Aameen.

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Ramadan Recipe: Fish Sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

At the Silk Route restaurant at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, comfortable couches are strewn with colourful satin pillows, and the setting is bright and airy, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

In the kitchen, head chef Abdul Salam Hamedi works to create nutritious and delicious recipes for Ramadan, utilizing the abundant seafood of the region.

The Asian-Arabic theme of the restaurant is apparent in one of his creations, Fish Sayadiya.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

500g white fish
250g basmati rice
50g onion
250g fish bones
15g cumin
15g cinnamon
25g salt
5g black pepper
5g pine nuts
15ml olive oil
150g carrots
150ml water

Method:

Wash the rice three times, then strain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C. Mix the fish bones with the salt, pepper, half the cinnamon and cumin, the carrots and leeks. Tip onto a baking tray and place in the oven for ten minutes.

Slice the onion and saute gently in olive oil until golden.

Add the roasted fish bones to a large pan, cover with water and boil for 30 minutes.

Strain the stock into a new pan and place over a medium heat. Add the rice, season with salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Marinate the fish with the remaining spices and and roast for 12 minutes at 200C.

Serve the fish and rice with the fried onions and pine nuts scattered over the top.

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Ramadan Announcement 2012 / 1433 AH – Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak, Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Announcement by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA):

First day of Ramadan will be Friday, July 20, 2012
and Eid ul-Fitr on Sunday, August 19, insha’Allah.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” Qur’an 2:183

The Fiqh Council of North America recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’i method for determining the beginning of lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarrama as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah.

On the basis of this method the dates of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr for the year 1433 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Friday, July 20, 2012

1st of Shawwal will be on Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ramadan 1433 AH:
The Astronomical New Moon is on July 19, 2011 (Thursday) at 4:24 Universal Time (7:24 a.m. Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on July 19 is at 7:05 p.m., while moonset is at 7:11 p.m. Moon is born before sunset in Makkah and moonset is after sunset. Therefore first day of Ramadan is Friday, July 20, insha’Allah. First Tarawih prayer will be on Thursday night.

Eid al-Fitr 1433 AH:
The Astronomical New Moon is on August 17, 2011 (Friday) at 15:54 Universal Time (6:54 p.m. Makkah time). On Friday, August 17, sunset at Makkah is 6:49 p.m. and moonset is 6:30 p.m. Moon is born after sunset in Makkah and moon sets before sunset. On Saturday, August 18, sunset at Makkah is 6:49 p.m. and moonset is at 7:11 p.m. Moon is born 24 hours before sunset, while moonset is after sunset. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid al-Fitr is Sunday, August 19, insha’Allah.

May Allah (swt) keep us on the right path, and accept our fasting and prayers. Ameen. For more detailed information, please visit: www.fiqhcouncil.org  or www.moonsighting.com

Sincerely,

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America

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Eid 2011 Photos – 20 Great Pics

Here are some great photos of Eid-ul-Fitr 2011 around the world. I collected these from the BBC, International Business News, and a few other sources. Happy Eid!

Children in Jakarta, Indonesia celebrate Eid 2011.

Children in Jakarta, Indonesia celebrate Eid 2011. Some Indonesians celebrated Eid on Tuesday despite the government setting Wednesday as the official date.

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Ramadan Reflections on Surat al-Fatihah, the Grand Opening

The Holy Quran is a light

The Holy Quran is a light

By Ismail Kandar for MuslimMatters.org

This year, I am enjoying the benefits of praying Tarawih (night prayers of Ramadan) behind Mufti Ismail Menk and listening to his powerful Tafseer (explanation of the Quran) afterwards. On the opening night, Mufti Menk brought up an issue which always amazes me, the unique method in which the Qur’an begins. This made me reflect on the opening pages of the Qur’an.

Surah Al-Fatiha and the first three pages of Surah Baqarah are an amazing and unique method of starting a book. Perhaps, it is because we recite Surah Fatiha everyday, multiple times, that many of us do not take these verses seriously. Yet, the reason this Surah is emphasized so much is because it is the most important chapter of the Qur’an. It is Faatihatul Kitaab (The opening chapter of the book), Sab’a Mathaani (the seven oft-repeated verses 15:87) and Ummul Kitaab (the essence of the book 13:39). It is the Surah that when recited, Allah replies to each verse. It is the most important du’a that we can make.

The first half of Surah Fatiha is a declaration of Tawheed (Oneness of Allah) in all of its forms: tawheed of Rububiyyah (Lordship) ”All praise to Allah, the Rabb (Lord) of the universe,” (1:1), tawheed of Asma Wa Sifaat (names and attributes) “Most Gracious, Most Merciful, Master of the Day of Judgement,” (1:2-3) and tawheed of Ibaadah (worship), “You alone we worship and you alone we ask for help.” (1:4)

The second half of Surah Fatiha is the most important du’a a person could ever make, “Guide us to the straight path!” (1:5) The Surah then explains what is the staight path and what is not. The straight path is that which was shown to us and followed by those whom Allah has favoured, which Allah explains in another verse, “whoever obeys Allah and His messenger, then they will be with those whom Allah has favoured from the prophets, truthful, matyrs and righteous.” (4:69) This verse refutes the claim by some people that you can find your own way towards Paradise without following the people of the past. True salvation lies in following the Salaf As-Saliheen (The righteous predecessors) and their understanding and practice of the Qur’an.

An old illuminated manuscript of the Quran

An old illuminated manuscript of the Quran

Allah then shows us two types of misguidance. The first form of misguidance is to earn Allah’s wrath by knowingly rejecting the truth and the other form is to go astray by choosing to remain ignorant. So we need to realize that choosing to remain ignorant can not excuse us for our sins and deviations, and if we knowingly reject the truth, we will be cursed by Allah. The only option left is to seek the truth and ask Allah to guide us to the straight path.

Answers in Surat Al-Baqarah

Amazingly, the very next Surah begins by answering this du’a for guidance. “This is the book in which there is no doubt! It is a guidance for those who are God-conscious.” (2:2) Three things are interesting about this verse. Firstly, show me one other book which begins by declaring its own perfection. No human author would dare readers from the beginning by making the claim that there is nothing doubtful in his book, this immidiately makes skeptics look for mistakes. The Qur’an, being the perfect word of Allah, begins with this challenge, a unique and powerful starting point.

Allah then explains to us that this Qur’an is the answer to our du’a (prayer) for guidance but the condition is that we approach this Qur’an with Taqwa (God-consciousness). This is why not everyone benefits from reciting the Qur’an. Allah warns us on the next page to not be from those who only recite ritually or with an evil intention as “it is the same whether you warn them or not, they will never believe.” (2:6) This verse is aimed primarily to those who choose to reject Islam, but like all verses we need to apply it to ourselves and make sure we do not possess any of the qualities that Allah dislikes.

The first three pages of Surah Baqarah describe three types of people in terms of belief and relationship with Allah. Allah goes into detail describing those who have Taqwa and attain success, then briefly mentions those who choose to disbelieve, and finally He mentions in even more detail, the hypocrites. It is for us to study these verses and put into the practice the qualities of the successful while being careful to guard ourselves from possessing the qualities of the disbelievers or hypocrites.

After all of this, Allah mentions the first commandment in the Qur’an, the most important commandment and the benefit of obeying it. Allah says, “O mankind, worship your Lord who created you and those before you so that you may attain Taqwa.” (2:21) The first and most important commandment is to uphold Tawheed by worshipping Allah alone as it is through this that we can attain Taqwa and through Taqwa that we can attain guidance from the Qur’an.

I ask Allah to grant all of us Imaan (faith), Taqwa and a deeper understanding of the Qur’an. Ameen.

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Thomas Jefferson’s Ramadan Iftar

Thomas Jefferson's Quran

Thomas Jefferson's Quran

Did you know that the first ever Ramadan iftar at the White House was held over 200 years ago by President Thomas Jefferson?

“Ramadan,” said President Obama at a White House iftar dinner in 2010, “is a reminder that Islam has always been a part of America. The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan — making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago.”

The dinner to which the president referred took place on December 9, 1805, and Jefferson’s guest was Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, an envoy from the bey (chieftain) of Tunis who spent six months in Washington. The context of Mellimelli’s visit to the United States was a tense dispute over piracy on American merchant vessels by the Barbary states and the capture of Tunisian vessels trying to run an American blockade of Tripoli.

Mellimelli arrived during Ramadan, and Jefferson, when he invited the envoy to the president’s house, changed the meal time from the usual hour of 3:30 p.m. to “precisely at sunset” in deference to the man’s religious obligation.

Jefferson’s knowledge of Islam likely came from his legal studies of natural law. In 1765, Jefferson purchased a two-volume English translation of the Quran for his personal library, a collection that became, in 1815, the basis of the modern Library of Congress.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://iipdigital.usembassy.gov/iipdigital-en/index.html)

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25 Beautiful Ramadan Photos 2011

Muslims break their fast at the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India during Ramadan

Muslims break their fast at the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi, India on Aug. 2.

Enjoy these lovely images of Muslims fasting, praying, reading Quran, and breaking their fast in this month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a lunar month, so it is either 29 or 30 days long. It is a time of sacrifice, purification, prayer, and devotion to God.

Over a billion Muslims worldwide participate in the Ramadan fast.

My own daughter Salma is five years old, so she’s a little too young to fast. But she really wants to try, so I’m letting her fast two hours in the morning, except on school days 🙂

– Wael, Zawaj.com Editor

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Ramadan Dishes Bring Relief – Nutritious and Light Ramadan Meals

Osman Kiranoglu prepares cacik

At Boston Kebab House, chef-owner Osman Kiranoglu, who grew up in Turkey making yogurt, cuts cucumbers to mix into cacik, a versatile dish during Ramadan. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

The Boston Globe, August 3, 2011
Omar Sacirbey, Globe Correspondent

Relief for a hot month of Ramadan

Dishes reward both memory, faithfulness

As the son of a goat, sheep, and cow herder in the tiny northeastern Turkish village of Rize (REE-za), Osman Kiranoglu grew up making and eating lots of yogurt. Today, Kiranoglu parlays his fluency in yogurt as the chef-owner of the Boston Kebab House in Liberty Square.

Kiranoglu counts on his experience again during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday, when observant Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk to remember the hardships of the poor. “This year, it’s going to be very difficult,’’ Kiranoglu says. “Long days. Hot.’’ For religious holidays, Muslims follow a lunar calendar, whose year is about 10 days shorter than the solar-based Gregorian calendar. This means that the first day of Ramadan always falls about 10 days earlier than the previous year. For example, Ramadan is likely to start around July 21 next year, and July 11 the year after, and so on.

It takes about 35 years for Ramadan to travel through the solar calendar, so it will be a good seven or eight years before it leaves summer for the shorter, milder days of spring.

Cacik: the perfect summer dish

Until then, Boston-area Muslims have a bevy of dishes for either suhur, an early morning breakfast that precedes the fast, or iftar, the meal after the fast, with which to sustain them during this fasting month. Kiranoglu’s go-to summer recipe is cacik, a combination of yogurt, cucumbers, fresh dill, and mint, which can be served thin for a soup, or thick for a tangy bread dip. “If you go to any house in Turkey, they give you this,’’ says Kiranoglu, who learned the recipe watching his mother in the kitchen and, as the oldest of six children, knew how to make cacik by the time he was 9 or 10.

Cacik has several advantages during a hot summer Ramadan. It is fast, easy, and doesn’t require an oven or stove, and the yogurt helps rehydrate the body after a long day without fluids. It is also deliciously refreshing, as soup and dip, led by the saltiness of the yogurt, followed by the tanginess of the dill, finished with the sweetness of the mint.

Chickpea and roasted red pepper salad: nutritious but light

Ahmad Yasin, owner of Yasin Culinary, a catering company and cooking class studio in Watertown that specialize in Arabic cooking, also has fond memories of Ramadan in northern Syria, where he grew up. “The most beautiful time of the day is when everyone is rushing home after work, before iftar, to be with the family and prepare the food,’’ says Yasin.

Among the dishes he learned to prepare, and one of his favorites, is chickpea and roasted red pepper salad, with chili pepper, black or green olives, thyme, and parsley. It’s a tasty dish packed with protein and vitamins that recharge the body, but light enough for Muslims to respect the dietary advice of the Prophet Muhammad, says Yasin. “You shouldn’t eat until you’re hungry, and you shouldn’t overindulge, so you can work and pray.’’

Another prophetic tradition with nutritional value, Muslims say, is always breaking the fast with dates, which are high in sugar. The theory is that hunger is caused not by an empty stomach, but low blood sugar. A few dates can quickly quell hunger, and prevent overeating after fasting. Typically, after a few dates to break their fasts, Muslims perform evening prayers, which take just a few minutes, before starting their meals.

Khushaf – sweet and refreshing

Sugar’s knack for mollifying hunger is also behind the popularity of khushaf, a mixture of dried fruits and nuts soaked in water until it becomes syrupy, consumed after the dates but before prayers. “It’s sweet and refreshing,’’ says Sana Fadel of Newton, who remembers the dish from childhood visits to relatives in Egypt, where the weather was “super-hot.’’

Qamar Ad-Deen: popular in Egypt

Dishes prepared from qamar id-deen, an apricot paste, also figure prominently during Egyptian Ramadans, Fadel says. Among the most popular are apricot drink, which frequently accompanies dates and khushaf, and apricot pudding as dessert.

This Ramadan, Fadel hopes to introduce khushaf to her two sons, who are too young to fast but old enough to enjoy a family tradition.

Omar Sacirbey can be reached at osacirbey@hotmail.com.

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Ramadan 2011 Photos – Muslims Getting Ready

Muslim women having Ramadan iftar in Italy

Muslim women having Ramadan iftar in Italy, 2008.

Ramadan has already started, but even before Ramadan began, Muslims all over the world were getting ready in many ways. Here are some photos of Muslims preparing for Ramadan in 2011 (and there’s one photo from 2008 as well – I came across it and found it interesting):

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Ramadan Announcement 2011 / 1432 AH

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak!

If you’re looking for the 2011 Eid Announcement, see: ISNA Eid Announcement 2011

Ramadan Announcement by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA):

First day of Ramadan will be Monday, August 1, 2011
and Eid ul-Fitr on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, insha’Allah.

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” Qur’an 2:183

The Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) recognize astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’ia method for determining the beginning of lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. The FCNA & ECFR use Makkah al-Mukarramah as a conventional point, and take the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and the moon must set after sunset in Makkah.

On the basis of this method the dates of Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr for the year 1431 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Monday, August 1, 2011

1st of Shawwal, which marks the start of Eid ul-Fitr, will be on Tuesday, August 30, 2011.

Ramadan 1432 AH:
The Astronomical New Moon is on July 30, 2011 (Saturday) at 18:40 Universal Time (9:40 pm  Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on July 30 is at 7:01 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is 6:41pm local time (20 minute before sunset).  Therefore the following day Sunday, July 31, 2011 is not the 1st day of Ramadan.   First day of Ramadan is Monday, August 1, insha’Allah. First Tarawih prayer will be on Sunday night.

Eid ul-Fitr 1432 AH:
The Astronomical New Moon is on August 29, 2011 (Monday) at 3:04 Universal Time (6:04 am  Makkah time). On Monday, August 29, sunset at Makkah is 6:40 p.m. local time, while moonset is at 6:44  pm local time. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid ul-Fitr is Tuesday, August 30, insha’Allah.

May Allah (swt) keep us on the right path, and accept our fasting and prayers. Ameen.  For more detailed information, please visit: www.fiqhcouncil.org or www.moonsighting.com

Sincerely,
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America

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