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5 ways to make your Ramadan extraordinary

Ramadan parade in Indonesia

Ramadan parade in Indonesia

Even though we are all excited by the coming of Ramadan, I think many of us harbor inner doubts, and fears of inadequacy. I recently came across this beautiful piece by Tawfique Chowdhury that addresses these issues honestly. Insha’Allah it will benefit us and stengthen our resolve. – Wael Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com Editor

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

My dear friends and students,

Welcome to our long-lost friend: Ramadan. How we have missed the days of self-restraint and the nights of mercy and delight! After eleven months of sinning, we now have the opportunity to avail ourselves of a month of mercy and forgiveness. For those whose duas have not been answered, the month of answered duas has arrived. For those who have drifted away from the soothing night prayer, or who have never achieved it, the month of the blessed taraweeh has arrived. Welcome to our Lord’s mercy: the month of Ramadan. No doubt each and every one of us approaches Ramadan with a special excitement. Alas for many of us, however: the excitement is met with fear and dread instead.

Will this Ramadan be like the previous ones where I failed to truly take full advantage and mend my ways?

Will this Ramadan only demonstrate to me how far away from Allah I truly am?

Will it be yet another month that passes by without my taking full advantage of it?

If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone. Many of us feel this way and do not know how to tackle it. As a result, the fear and dread are enough for us to avoid setting new goals and higher aspirations for this month. As a result, we find ourselves at the end of the month in the situation of having failed to benefit from this opportunity and languishing in sorrow at the thought that we will never improve.

I too used to get these whispers and thoughts in my mind. However, I overcame these thoughts with the help of Allah. Here are five things that I have done to tackle these “Ramadan blues”. Let me share them with you; perhaps the suggestions may benefit you, and help you to overlook the past and focus on the future.

1) Good thoughts about Allah:

I remind myself that my Lord is most Generous and Kind. He loves me sincerely. The proof is that even when I disobey Him He still provides for me. That is why He is giving me yet another Ramadan: yet another opportunity to get closer to Him again. He loves to forgive, and His best friends are those who seek His forgiveness the most. He has brought me to another Ramadan so that I can have yet another chance at Laylatul Qadr, and yet another chance to make my duas accepted at the time of iftar, and yet another chance to do Hajj with Rasul-Allah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) by doing umrah in this month. He has brought me to Ramadan to sooth the sorrows in my heart with His remembrance, and for me to be reminded of the nights in my grave by the solitude of i’tikaaf: by seeing how it feels to be alone with Him in the mosque. He wants me to lighten the load on my mind, so that is why He has given me the month of the Qur’an: so that I can relive the amazing Word of my Rabb (Lord and Master).

The salaf (pious predecessors) would beg Allah for another opportunity for Ramadan, so how fortunate I am that He has given me this chance once again. How fortunate I am that He has given me the chance to know when this month is, so that I can take advantage of it. How fortunate I am that He has given me the yearning in my heart to meet my Lord in this month – and I know that the one who loves to meet His Lord, Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala also loves to meet him.

2) Forget the past and focus on the future:

Forest path to sunlight

Forgive the past, and look to the future

I remind myself that past deeds are just that: a matter of the past. I live for the future, not the past. The past will be forgiven insha’Allah if I can mend the future. My concern should be the next deed that I do, because Allah loves to forgive; so I can have every confidence that He will forgive the past because I have nothing but regret for my past sins.

The most important consideration for me is what sort of amends I make now. I remind myself of what Imam Ibnul-Qayyim (rahimahu-Allah) said in his Nooniyyah:

By Allah I am not afraid of my past sins,
For indeed they are upon the path of repentance and forgiveness;
Rather my real concern is that [in the next deed] this heart
Might cease to act upon revelation and upon the noble Qur’an.

3) Evaluate previous attempts in order to plan a strategy to make it work this time:

I remember that it is illogical to think that my future chances of success are a reflection of my failures in the past. My past inabilities only show me what to do better this time so that I can increase my chances this time around.

So if I tried to pray taraweeh every night but failed, I should look back at what happened in order to learn lessons from those failures. Was it that the Imam’s recitation was not good? If so, then let me try to find a mosque to go to whose Imam recites better. If I failed to complete reciting the whole Qur’an last year, let me look at why that was the case and how I can change it. Can I put up reminders to read the Qur’an, or shall I buy a few more copies of the Qur’an and put them in more convenient places, such as one in my car, another in my briefcase and another on my table, so that I have a mushaf always on hand?

If I missed getting up for fajr last Ramadan, why did it happen and how can I change it? Perhaps I should buy more alarm clocks, so let me go to the store right now. Perhaps I should SMS my friends to start a fajr prayer-calling group so that each day one of us is responsible for waking the others up. Perhaps I should make my suhur my heaviest meal so that my body feels hungry at suhur-time and so I get up more easily.

4) Reward, challenge and penalise myself:

I can plan and prepare to reward myself if I finish this Ramadan satisfactorily. So I tell myself that if I can make myself pray all my prayers at the earliest time this Ramadan and recite the Qur’an five times this month, then I will buy myself a new laptop; if I can recite it ten times then I will go away with my family for a holiday, or some other significant reward that I know I would definitely like to treat myself with.

I warn myself that if I fail to at least recite the Qur’an five times in this month, then I will donate a thousand dollars to charity. I remind myself that even Allah’s Messenger sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam used to give worldly rewards to those who excelled in battle: e.g. half the war-booty from the raids to the Muslim knights who had taken part in the raid; he (saw) would consider it a great sin upon the one who fails to join the obligatory battle.

In the same spirit of reward, challenge and penalty, I would do this for my children and my wife as well by helping them with a reward if they do something extraordinary this month, and a penalty if they did not even do the minimum extra level. In this way I can give them an added incentive to do good in this limited time of Ramadan.

I remind myself that ultimately we must do it for Allah and never for a physical prize, but associating an emotional desire with an action and fear of a punishment at the non-performance of it will cause that action to be foremost in the subconscious part of my mind. I remind myself that the worst thing about not making this Ramadan special would be something worse than the penalty I have stipulated. It would be the disappointment of a Ramadan wasted, and the risk of Allah’s wrath.

5) Create peer-pressure and responsibility:

I remind myself that if I make my friends and family aware of some of my goals, then they might help me. So I share some of my goals with them, ensuring that I am doing it to engage their help in performing it, not in a spirit of boasting. I hope that this will give me added support and encouragement to ensure that they help me in achieving the good things I have set out to do. If they do not help, at the very least they should not mind when I excuse myself from their service or company in order to spend some time on working towards my goal.

Young Syrian women talking

If I share my goals with my family and friends, they might support me

I hope that some or all of these things will help you to look upon this Ramadan with a fresh outlook. Make lots of dua to Allah that this Ramadan will be special for you, for your family, and for the Ummah of our beloved sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. I am interested in hearing from you if you have other things that you do to focus positively at the advent of another Ramadan.

Jazaakumullahulkhair and my duas for you and your family for a fantastic and blessed Ramadan, insha’Allah;

wassalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Tawfique Chowdhury
Director General
AlKauthar Institute and Mercy Mission World

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Ramadan Mubarak! Blessed Ramadan 2010 / 1431 A.H.

Ramadan Mubarak

Ramadan Mubarak

The sacred month of Ramadan is upon us, Alhamdulillah. As I mentioned in the previous post, Ramadan Announcement 2010, the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) have announced that the first day of Ramadan will be Wednesday, August 11, 2010, and Eid ul-Fitr on Friday, September 10, 2010, insha’Allah.

Allah says in the Quran, in Surat Al-Baqarah verses 183 to 186:

(183) O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous – (184) [Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew. (185) The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. (186) And when My servants ask you, [O Muúammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

And the Messenger of Allah (saw) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying,

“Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” [Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah]

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Ramadan Announcement 2010 / 1431 AH

Indonesian Muslim girl prays in Ramadan

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

First day of Ramadan will be Wednesday, August 11, 2010
and Eid ul-Fitr on Friday, September 10, 2010, 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 Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1st of Shawwal, which marks the start of Eid ul-Fitr, will be on Friday, September 10, 2010.

Ramadan 1431 AH:

The Astronomical New Moon is on August 10, 2010 (Tuesday) at 11:08 am Makkah Time. Sunset in Makkah on August 10 is at 6:55 pm. On that day, the Topocentric Altitude of the moon in Makkah at sunset is 1.6 degrees. Therefore, the first day of Ramadan is on August 11, 2010 (Wednesday), making the first Tarawih prayer to be on the night of Tuesday August 10, 2010.

Eid ul-Fitr 1431 AH:

The Astronomical New Moon is on September 8, 2010 (Wednesday) at 6:30 pm Makkah Time. Sunset in Makkah on September 8 is at 6:31 pm. On that day, the moon in Makkah at sunset is below the horizon. Therefore, the first day of Shawwal, which marks the start of Eid ul-Fitr is on Friday, September 10, 2010, 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

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

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If `Eid is on Friday, do We Pray the Friday Jum’ah Prayer?

Bangladeshi Muslims offer their “Jummatul Bida” or last Friday prayer during holy fasting month Ramadan in Dhaka.

Reprinted from SuhaibWebb.com
Answered by Imam Mustafa `Umar

Scholars, past and present, have differed over whether the Friday Prayer remains an obligation on adult males or not, in the occasion that Eid falls on Friday. These are the three opinions and who held them:

Opinion 1: Whoever prays Eid must also pray the Friday prayer if it is normally binding on him.

Opinion 2: People living in isolated areas coming from out of town to attend the Eid prayer are exempted from the Friday Prayer. This is the opinion of: Abu Hanifa[1], Malik, and Shafi’i[2].

Opinion 3: Whoever performs Eid is exempted from the obligation of Friday prayer. This is the opinion of: Ahmad, Shu’ba, Nakh’i, Awza’i[3], Sayyid Sabiq, and Ibn Taymiyah.

Now we will present the evidence and reasoning for these opinions.

Reasoning behind Opinion #1

The verse in the Qur’an ordering people to pray the Friday Prayer is crystal clear:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِنْ يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَى ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“O you who believe: When the Prayer is called for Friday hasten toward the remembrance of Allah and leave your business. That is better for you, if only you knew.” (62:9)

The commandment in this verse, and other statements of the Prophet about the necessity of Friday Prayer, are not to be overridden by any reports (ahadith) which indicate something different unless they are of rigorous authenticity. If there are any reports that the Prophet made an exception they should be confirmed by more than one Companion because this is not something that would only be heard by one person. Also, there should be no reason for one obligation to drop because of another.

Reasoning behind Opinion #2

There is an authentic report that indicates that the second Khalifah, Uthman, gave permission for some people to skip the Friday Prayer:

ثُمَّ شَهِدْتُ الْعِيدَ مَعَ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ فَكَانَ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَصَلَّى قَبْلَ الْخُطْبَةِ ثُمَّ خَطَبَ فَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ هَذَا يَوْمٌ قَدْ اجْتَمَعَ لَكُمْ فِيهِ عِيدَانِ فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَنْتَظِرَ الْجُمُعَةَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْعَوَالِي فَلْيَنْتَظِرْ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ فَقَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَهُ (البخاري والموطأ واللفظ للبخاري

“…then I witnessed the Eid with Uthman ibn ‘Affan, and that was on Friday. He prayed before the sermon (khutbah) then gave a speech and said: ‘O people. This is a day where two Eids have fallen on the same day. So whoever from amongst the people of the outskirts[4] of Madinah wants to wait for the Friday Prayer, they may; and whoever wants to return (home), I have given them permission.” (Bukhari, Muwatta’)

Uthman clearly only excused the people who lived outside of Madinah. Since the ruling did not apply to everyone, it must only be those people who live on the outskirts of the city and rural areas that are allowed the option of praying the Friday prayer.

Reasoning behind Opinion #3

There is evidence which indicates that the Friday Prayer is optional when Eid falls on a Friday:

ثُمَّ شَهِدْتُ الْعِيدَ مَعَ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ عَفَّانَ فَكَانَ ذَلِكَ يَوْمَ الْجُمُعَةِ فَصَلَّى قَبْلَ الْخُطْبَةِ ثُمَّ خَطَبَ فَقَالَ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ هَذَا يَوْمٌ قَدْ اجْتَمَعَ لَكُمْ فِيهِ عِيدَانِ فَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَنْتَظِرَ الْجُمُعَةَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْعَوَالِي فَلْيَنْتَظِرْ وَمَنْ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَرْجِعَ فَقَدْ أَذِنْتُ لَهُ (البخاري والموطأ واللفظ

“Two Eids were on the same day during the time of Ibn az-Zubayr. He delayed people from coming out until the daylight had spread. Then he came out and gave a sermon, and made it long. Then he descended and prayed while the people did not pray the Friday Prayer on that day. This was then mentioned to Ibn ‘Abbas who said: ‘He has acted according to the Sunnah [the way of the Prophet]’” (an-Nasa’i)


Clearly, there is a legitimate difference of opinion over the issue. However, it should be kept in mind that it is a fact that the Messenger of Allah used to pray it, and obviously this implies that he had a group with him because you can’t pray the Friday Prayer alone:

بكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقْرَأُ فِي الْعِيدَيْنِ وَفِي الْجُمُعَةِ بِسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الْأَعْلَى وَهَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ الْغَاشِيَةِ قَالَ وَإِذَا اجْتَمَعَ الْعِيدُ وَالْجُمُعَةُ فِي يَوْمٍ وَاحِدٍ يَقْرَأُ بِهِمَا أَيْضًا فِي الصَّلَاتَيْنِ

“The Prophet used to read surah al-A’la and al-Ghashiyah in the two Eid Prayers and the Friday Prayer. When the day of Eid and Friday would come together on the same day he would still read both of them in both prayers.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i)

Considering the fact that this Eid al-Adha not only falls on a Friday but on Thanksgiving weekend where most people are off from work, they should take some time out of their celebrations to celebrate the praise of Allah.

And Allah knows best.

[1] This opinion is attributed to him by his student Muhammad ash-Shaybani in his narration of al-Muwatta’.
[2] Nawawi, al-Majmu’.
[3] Ibn Qudama, al-Mughni.
[4] The word used is “al-‘awali” which refers to people living about one or two miles from the masjid in Madinah. Refer to Abdul Hayy al-Lacknawi’s commentary on al-Muwatta’ known as at-Ta’liq al-Mumajjad for more details.
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Photo Gallery: Muslim Women Around the World in Ramadan

Palestinian girl cries at a checkpoint

A Palestinian girl cries as she waits to cross the West Bank Israeli checkpoint of Qalandia into Jerusalem to attend the second Ramadan Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa mosque in the old city

These lovely photos of Muslim women and Muslim girls were all taken in Ramadan 1430, i.e. Ramadan 2009. They come from various Muslim nations around the world. Some are happy, some are spiritual, and one in particular is heartbreaking. Enjoy them and feel free to comment.

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Before the Month of Ramadan: a Personal Reflection

Brother Hassan Abdulmalik

Brother Hassan Abdulmalik, author of this article

By Hasan Abdulmalik on July 26, 2009

Reprinted from Ummah1.com Islamic Community

أشهد أن لا إله إلاَّ الله و أشهد أن محمد رسول الله – I bear witness that there is no god, but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is His messenger. All praises are due to Allah, who gave us the blessed month of Ramadan and I am truly a grateful servant of Allah for His mercy and blessing.

Over the last few weeks, I have been doing some personal introspection, thinking and pondering about the upcoming month of Ramadan. Like many other Muslims from around the world, I am going through a self-assessment process and critique of my life over the past year. I am contemplating about the fate of my future based on my actions and Allah’s mercy. In this process I recounted how many Ramadan’s that I have fasted in my life (over 30, Alhumduillah) and I quickly realized that as you get older the month of Ramadan has so much more significance.

Ugandan Muslims waiting to break their Ramadan fast

Ugandan Muslims waiting to break their Ramadan fast

With this reality in mind, I am looking forward to hearing the upcoming news that the crescent moon has been sighted to begin fasting, or that we have one more day of the month of Sha’ban, and then Ramadan with definitely begin. By then, I am in a spiritual zone and even the annual Ramadan fitna doesn’t bother me. Such as, the repeated confusion of whose sighting of the moon we are going to abide by (local or oversees), or is there going to be a unified Eid prayer this year (or Eid’s on two separate days), or who will lead the Taraweeh prayer, (I sincerely pray that one day our leadership will get their act together).

At this stage of my life it really doesn’t matter, I just go with the flow and avoid the self-inflicted fitna. I just want to enjoy the spirit of Ramadan with the brotherhood because everyone comes to the Masjid during Ramadan. Gosh why couldn’t everyday be like Ramadan, when the Masjid is packed and we are pleasantly uncomfortable because there no room to pray, I can live with that.

For me Ramadan, it is like being acquainted with your best friend again, (or BFF in text language), the one that you have not seen in a long time, and you miss the friendship and camaraderie. Your friend is coming to town and you are going to be able to hang out like old times and pick up the friendship from where you left off. In the process you reminisce and think of the old times, and if you are one of those Muslims that has moved from your home town you can identify with this feeling.

In some metaphorical ways Ramadan is like your best friend that lived next door, the one that you grew up with and then moved away. You clearly remember every day of how you could not wait to go outside and play with your friend. You would spend every waking hour with your best friend and never grow tired of each other. Now that friend has come to visits you and will be in town for a while. Your excited because it is going to like old times again.

In thinking about the our beloved UMMAH, what is our the friendship with Ramadan?

Ramadan is that good friend that positively says to “hang in there fasting is difficult but it is good for you” and then you feel better and can endure the struggle of a long day of fasting.

Ramadan is that good friend that encourages you to do good and reminds you to “don’t say such and such, because backbiting does not please Allah.”

Ramadan is that good friend that tells you the truth especially when you don’t want to hear it. A friend that says to you “get your priorities in order before it’s too late.”

Ramadan is that good friend that cheers you up when you are down, by always reflecting on a positive alternative to any situation. The friend that has the right words to say even in the most troubling of times.

Ramadan is the good friend that encourages you to fast (sincerely) because it brings Allah’s mercy ten-fold, and reminds you that fasting can save you from the fire of hell.

Ramadan is the good friend that is strict and punctual about religious obligations. The friend that reminds you of Allah and keeps you in check, The benefit is that out of respect you are mindful of your words and actions in their presence.

Ramadan is that good friend that gets you into shape and helps you exercise. Spiritual shape that is and the exercise is to pray Taraweeh at night and endure the minor in convince of standing for a long period of time, because traditions says that standing long in pray brings light to your grave.

Ramadan is a good friend that is a spiritual guide and comforts your soul through pray and the recitation of Allah’s words.

Ramadan is that good friend that gives you hope, because you have been disobedient to Allah and Ramadan reminds us of the unlimited opportunity to receive Allah’s forgiveness and mercy.

Ramadan is that good friend that says I am here to help you, but you have to be willing to help yourself, so turn off the TV, video game, stop gossiping and remember Allah much if you are to prosper.

Ramadan is the good friend that we all need. It is my sincere pray that all of us on UMMAH and our family and friends have a blessed Ramadan. May Allah grant us all the highest level of paradise.

Brother Hasan

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Recommended Ramadan Reading

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan Mubarak! Here is some recommended Islamic reading for Ramadan or anytime.

This new version of Zawaj.com is still in development phase and is actually not “open” to the public yet – that’s why the matrimonial search form on the home page doesn’t function yet. We will formally introduce it within a week or so Insha’Allah. I’m thinking of Friday, August 28th as the likely target date.

But the site has already been indexed by the search engines and some of you are finding your way here, so so I thought I would give you folks something productive to do with your time, ha ha.

Here are some excellent books that I consider essential Islamic reading. Any one of them would be great to read a little from every evening after Iftar, or to give as a gift. All are available through the link below:


1. An Interpretation of the Qur’an : English Translation of the Meanings : A Bilingual Edition (Majid Fakhry) – I have this and I read it often. It’s an excellent, modern and scholarly translation. If you’re still reading Yusuf Ali’s poetic but archaic translation, it’s time to check out something different.

2. The Qur’an : A New Translation (Dr. Thomas Cleary) – I would have listed this first except that it’s in English only. The language is modern and clear, yet retains some of the powerful poetry of the Arabic. I highly recommend it.

3. Muhammad : His Life Based on the Earliest Sources : Revised Edition : Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din) – All-time best-selling book on the life of the Prophet (pbuh), now the latest revised edition. You may have read some of the briefer Seerahs (biographies of the Prophet Muhammad) such as The Sealed Nectar of The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, but you have not experienced the breadth and depth of Muhammad’s (pbuh) struggle and indomitable character until you have read this book.

4. Forty Hadith, and Forty Hadith Qudsi – these are brief but fundamental. Read one or two each night and discuss them.

5. Ramadan: Motivating Believers to Action – Ramadan is not just a month of fasting, but a month of spiritual healing. Presented from an interfaith perspective as a means to motivate believers to action, the articles by such famous writers as Muhammad al-Ghazzali, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani, Imam Jawziyya, Ibn Sirin, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Maulana Mawdudi and Laleh Bakhtiar include essays on both the Law and the Way.

6. Purification of the Heart : Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart – Translation and Commentary of Imam al-Mawlud’s Matharat al-Qulub (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf).

7. The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips – A Muslim should be familiar with the basics of Tawheed, which is the fundemental principle of Islam. This book presents a detailed explanation of the classical Islamic concept of God’s unity as it relates to faith and acts of religious devotion.

Well, as you can see my preference is for more scholarly works, but you can find all kinds of good stuff at IslamicBookstore.com, including children’s books, movies and CDs, and toys. I have been shopping with them for several years now and I’ve always been satisfied.

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Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr Announcement for North America

Ramadan mubarak - Quran and spirituality in Ramadan

Ramadan Mubarak to our readers and all Muslims around the world.

First day of Ramadan will be Saturday, August 22, 2009
and Eid ul-Fitr on Sunday, September 20, 2009, inshaAllah.

“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) recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’ia method for determining the beginning of lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and takes 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 1430 AH are established as follows:

1st of Ramadan will be on Saturday, August 22, 2009
1st of Shawwal will be on Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ramadan 1430 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:01 Universal Time (1:01 pm Makkah time). Sunset at Makkah on August 20 is at 6:47 pm local time, while moonset at Makkah is at 6:46 pm local time (1 minute before sunset). Therefore the following day Friday, August 21, 2009 is not the 1st day of Ramadan. First day of Ramadan is Saturday, August 22, insha’Allah. First Tarawih prayer will be on Friday night.

Eid ul-Fitr 1430 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Friday, September 18, 2009, at 18:44 Universal Time (9:44 pm Makkah time). On Saturday, September 19, 2009, sunset at Makkah is 6:20 pm local time, while moonset is at 6:36 pm local time. Therefore, first day of Shawwal, i.e., Eid ul-Fitr is Sunday, September 20, 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

Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi
Chairman, Fiqh Council of North America

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How to pray and fast in countries where the day or night is continuous?

Northern lands experience a phenomenon called "perpetual twilight".

Northern lands experience a phenomenon called “perpetual twilight”, in which the summer sky retains some light all night long. This is Alaska’s Kuskokwim River, taken from 40,000 feet up, from a 747 commercial flight from New York to Tokyo.

Reprinted from Islam Questions and Answer
With Shaykh Muhammad S. Al-Munajjid


Due to the inclination of the earth’s axis of rotation, regions nearest to one pole experience continuous day for some months, for example, the trading city of Tromso (about 50000 inhabitants) in northern Norway (in which 0.4% of its population comes from Islamic countries) where the sun is visible continuously from late May to late July, while regions nearest to the other pole experience continuous night during that same period. How do Muslims living in Tromso do for Maghrib and Eshaa salaat as night never falls during these few months and also given that the month of Ramadhan falls during this period, how can they fast?


Praise be to Allaah.

Fatwa no. 2769 was issued by the Council of Senior Scholars and the Standing Committee concerning an issue similar to the one you are asking about. This is the text of the question and answer:

Praise be to Allaah alone and blessings and peace be upon the one after whom there will be no Prophet.

The Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas has read the question that has been sent to the General Secretary by the Secretary the Union of Muslim Students in Holland, and which has been passed to them by the Secretary of the Council of Senior Scholars. The text of the question is as follows:

We hope that you can provide us with a fatwa concerning the way of determining the times of Maghrib, Isha’ and Fajr prayer, and also the first day of Ramadaan and the first day of Eid al-Fitr. That is because the way the sun rises and sets in the countries of Northern Europe that are close to the North Pole is different from the way it rises and sets in the eastern Muslim countries. The reason for that has to do with the timing of the end of the red and white twilight. It may be noted that in summer the white twilight lasts almost the whole night, so it is difficult to determine the time of ‘Isha’ and the onset of the dawn.

They replied:

The Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a statement on the determining of the times of prayer, determining the start of dawn each day, and the end of the dawn in Ramadan, in countries such as yours. This is what it said:

After studying, researching and discussing the matter, the Council decided the following:

Whoever resides in a country where the night can be distinguished from the day by the onset of dawn and the setting of the sun, but the day is extremely long in the summer and extremely short in the winter, is obliged to perform the five daily prayers at the times known in sharee’ah. That is because of the general meaning of the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning):

“Perform As‑Salaat (Iqamaat‑as‑Salaat) from mid‑day till the darkness of the night (i.e. the Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Ishaa’ prayers), and recite the Qur’aan in the early dawn (i.e. the — Fajr morning prayer). Verily, the recitation of the Qur’aan in the early dawn (i.e. the morning — Fajr prayer) is ever witnessed (attended by the angels in charge of mankind of the day and the night)”

[al-Isra’ 17:78]

“Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”

[al-Nisa’ 4:103]

And because it was proven from Buraydah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that a man asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about the times of the prayers, and he said to him: “Pray with us for these two” meaning two days. When the sun passed its zenith, he told Bilaal to give the adhaan, then he told him to give the iqaamah for Zuhr. Then he told him to give the iqaamah for ‘Asr when the sun was still high and clear white. Then he told him to give the iqaamah for Maghrib when the sun had set. Then he told him to give the iqaamah for ‘Isha’ when the red afterglow (twilight) had disappeared. Then he told him to give the iqaamah for Fajr when the dawn had appeared. Then on the second day, he told him to delay Zuhr until the extreme heat had passed and he did so. He prayed ‘Asr when the sun was high, delaying it beyond the time he had previously performed it. He prayed Maghrib before the twilight had vanished; he prayed ‘Isha’ when a third of the night had passed; and he prayed Fajr when there was clear daylight. Then he said: “Where is the man who was asking about the time of prayer?” The man said, “Here I am, O Messenger of Allaah.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The time for your prayer is within the limits of what you have seen.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The time for Zuhr is from when the sun has passed its zenith and a man’s shadow is equal in length to his height, until the time for ‘Asr comes. The time for ‘Asr lasts until the sun turns yellow. The time for Maghrib lasts until the twilight has faded. The time for ‘Isha’ lasts until midnight. The time for Subh (Fajr) prayer lasts from the beginning of the pre-dawn so long as the sun has not yet started to rise. When the sun starts to rise then stop praying, for it rises between the two horns of the Shaytaan.”

Narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh.

And there are other ahaadeeth which have been narrated concerning the definition of the times of the five daily prayers through the words and actions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). It makes no difference whether the night and day are long or short, so long as the times of the prayers can be distinguished by the signs which were identified by the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

This is with regard to the timings of the prayers. With regard to the timings of their fast in Ramadaan, those who are accountable should refrain from food, drink and everything else that invalidates the fast each day of Ramadaan, from the time of dawn until sunset in their countries, so long as the night can be distinguished from the day, and when day and night together add up to twenty-four hours. It is permissible for them to eat, drink, have intercourse, etc during the night only, even if it is short. The sharee’ah of Islam is universal and applies to all people in all countries. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall”

[al-Baqarah 2:187]

Whoever is unable to complete the fast because the day is so long, or who knows from experience or from the advice of a competent. trustworthy doctor, or thinks it most likely that fasting will lead to his death or make him severely ill, or will make his sickness worse or impede his recovery, may break his fast and make up the days that he misses in a month when he can make them up. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days”

[al-Baqarah 2:185]

“Allaah burdens not a person beyond his scope”

[al-Baqarah 2:286]

“Allaah does not want to place you in difficulty”

[al-Maa’idah 5:6]


Whoever lives in a land in which the sun does not set during the summer and does not rise during the winter, or who lives in a land in which the day lasts for six months and the night lasts for six months, for example, has to perform the five daily prayers in each twenty-four hour period. They should estimate their times based on the nearest country in which the times of the five daily prayers can be distinguished from one another, because it was proven in the hadeeth of the Isra’ and Mi’raaj (Prophet’s Night Journey and Ascent into Heaven) that Allaah enjoined on this ummah fifty prayers each day and night, then the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) kept asking his Lord to reduce it until He said, “O Muhammad, they are five prayers each day and night, and for each prayer will be the reward of ten, that is fifty prayers…”

And it was proven in the hadeeth of Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: A man from Najd with unkempt hair came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “(You have to offer) five prayers each day and night.” The man asked, “Do I have to do anything else?” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “No, unless you want to offer voluntary (naafil) prayers”

And it was proven in the hadeeth of Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) that he said: We were forbidden to ask the Messenger of Allaah (S) (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about anything, so we used to like it when an intelligent man from among the desert people came and asked him a question in our hearing. A man from among the desert people came and said, “O Muhammad, your messenger came to us and said that you claim that Allaah sent you.” He said, “He spoke the truth.” … The man said, “And your messenger claimed that we have to offer five prayers each day and night.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “He spoke the truth.” The man said, “By the One Who sent you, has Allaah enjoined that upon you?” He said, “Yes.”

It was proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told his companions about the Dajjaal (antichrist). He was asked how long he would stay on earth, and he said, “Forty days, one day like a year, one day like a month, one day like a week and the rest like your days.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allaah, the day which is like a year, will the prayers of one day be sufficient for us then?” He said, “No, estimate them.”

So the day which will be like a year is not regarded as one day in which only five prayers will be sufficient, rather we are obliged to offer five prayers in each twenty-four hour period. He commanded them to offer the prayers at intervals as on a regular day.

So the Muslims in the country mentioned in the question have to define the times of prayer in that land, basing those times on the closest country in which the night and day can be distinguished from one another and the times of the five daily prayers are known according to the signs described in sharee’ah, within each twenty-four hour period.

Similarly they also have to fast Ramadaan. They can set the time for their fast and determine the beginning and end of Ramadaan and the times of starting and breaking the fast each day by the dawn and sunset each day in the closest country in which night can be distinguished from day. The total period must add up to twenty-four hours, because of the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about the Dajjaal mentioned above, in which he told his companions how to determine the times of the five daily prayers. There is no difference in this regard between fasting and prayer.

And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

Al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta’.

Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 6/130-136

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On Ramadan, students hold fast together

Mattar Iman prays before the breaking of fast for Ramadan in Michigan.

On Ramadan, students hold fast together

During holiday, Muslim students build ties at dinner table

Reprinted from the Michigan Daily

LSA freshman Seher Chowhan wakes up at 5 each morning, while most of campus sleeps, to eat a large breakfast and pray.

It’s an unconventional schedule for most college students, but for Chowhan it’s a key part of the observance of Ramadan, a 30-day-long holiday during which observant Muslims do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. It began Sept. 1, the day before classes started.

“It’s tough for me,” Chowhan said. “Living in the dorms, you have to explain to your roommate why you’re waking up at five in the morning to eat and pray.”

Fasting Muslims usually eat a meal before sunrise and then gather for a large meal to break their fast and pray when the sun sets, but those traditions can be lost amid the bustle of college campuses.

To maintain the community element of the holiday, the Muslim Student Association organizes group meals to break the fast from Monday through Thursday.

On Wednesday night, LSA senior and MSA’s social co-chair Malik Mossa-Basha gathered with about 50 male students in the basement of South Quad to break their fast with 200 tacos and burritos from Taco Bell.

“Back home, it’s like a huge event,” Mossa-Basha said in between bites of a burrito. “When we’re here, we try to make Ann Arbor our community. It’s like a home-away-from-home thing.”

Because Ramadan is determined by the lunar calendar, it starts ten days earlier every year. And as the start date moves further into the summer, the days lengthen and get hotter.

“I remember seven years ago, fasting from 7 to 4:30,” LSA senior and MSA Outreach Chair Salim Al Churbaji said. “Now it’s, what, 13 hours?”
LSA senior and MSA President Yamaan Saadeh said that while the long days make it harder to fast, having Ramadan at the beginning of the school year helps build bonds between Muslim students on campus.

“It’s more of a challenge because it’s harder to manage your time, but it’s also a blessing, too,” he said. “All of the students have a reason to come together as a group and have dinner together and spend time with each other.”

Thursday night, MSA invited incoming freshmen to break their fast with current members. It was again held in South Quad’s basement, but this time, the burritos were replaced by an Egyptian buffet.

“They’re going away from their families, they’re going away from what they’re used to,” Saadeh said about the freshmen. “So it’s kind of an opportunity for them to join our organization, and find a new family here.”

Chowhan said the MSA’s group meals have helped her make the adjustment to college life.

“Of course I miss my family and my mom’s cooking,” she said. “But it’s really great having this community.”

University Housing also offers accommodations for Muslims fasting Ramadan through a meal plan suspension program. Students can elect to forgo their meals for the month, and get the equivalent value in Blue Bucks.

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said about 70 students suspended their meal plans for the month, while five exchanged their meals for packaged dinners to eat later.

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Ready for Ramadan

A Muslim family breaks their fast in Falluja Iraq

Ready for Ramadan

Reprinted from the GulfWeekly (Bahrain)
August 31, 2008

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. It begins with the sighting of the new moon after which all physically mature and healthy Muslims are obliged to abstain from all food, drink, gum chewing, any kind of tobacco use as well as sexual contact between dawn and sunset.

The month of Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends.

The fasting is intended to help teach Muslims self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity.

It also reminds them of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It is common to have one meal (known as the Suhoor), just before sunrise and another (known as Iftar), directly after sunset.

Because Ramadan is a time to spend with friends and family, the fast will often be broken by different Muslim families coming together to share in an evening meal.

Kenyan Muslims at Sir Ali Muslim mosque

Kenyan worshipers gather at the Sir Ali Muslim mosque for Eid prayer

Bahraini Wesal Mohammed Al A`amer started fasting at the age of 10. “I began to understand the concept of Ramadan at the age of nine and I was very interested in the whole fasting process, so my parents allowed me to fast everyday but for half-a-day only,” said the 30-year-old shop assistant.

“By the time I was 10, I was able to fast for the whole day, it was tiring at the beginning but when your body gets use to the new system it gets easier by time.”

Fasting Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.

“I fast because I believe in my religion and have faith in God. Ramadan is a very holy month where Muslims from all over the world get closer to their Creator,” she said.

“My daily routine during the month is waking up in the morning, going to work, coming back home, preparing a meal for the Iftar time, praying, breaking my fast, spending time with my husband and my two girls, Latifa, aged eight and 10-year-old Najla, reading the Holy Quran, watching the television and going to bed.

“I wake up again for Suhoor, prepare a light meal, pray and go back to sleep again.”

Ms Al A`amer said her little girls try to copy their parents by fasting most of the day.

“They are two young to not eat or drink anything during the time of fasting so what they do is drink water if they are really thirsty but restrain themselves from eating as much as possible,” she said.

“They join us on the table at the time of Iftar and after that we all pray together.”

Ms Al A`amer said Ramadan was a month she looks forward to every year.

“In addition to its religious and spiritual aspects, Ramadan is the month of forgiveness, taking care of the poor and the needy as well as trying to have a closer bond with your family members and friends … simply, Ramadan makes you a better human being.”

Her husband, 38-year-old Bahraini Yasser Mohammed Abdulrahman says he fasts because he chooses to. He said: “Nobody can force anyone to fast, Muslims fast because they choose to.

“We wait the whole year for this one month because it means a lot to us, religiously, socially and spiritually,” said the Bahrain Airport employee.

“I started fasting when I was in elementary school. Once you grow to understand the meaning of this month and practice it in the right way; you will find yourself in a whole different level.

“I believe that Ramdan purifies your heart, soul and mind,” he said.

Mr Abdulrahman said fasting doesn`t affect his job because he works in an indoor environment. “I am sure it would be very difficult for the people working on the streets especially during the summer time,” he said.

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