Youthful Reflections on Faith

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A New month; A New project & Less than 24 hours to Launch!

It is a new month – the blessed Dhul Hijjah (last month of the lunar calendar). And it is 3 days into the month already.

In this special month, Muslims go on the Holy Pilgrimage to Makkah. The first ten days are special and blessed; and recommended for different acts of worship. From fasting and charity to supplication and sacrifice.

It feels special to launch my new project during these blessed days – Days which bring with it reminders of sacrifice and hastening to do many good deeds. Though the blog launch wasn’t planned this way, I cannot think of a better plan.

Alhamdulillah!

The launch has been postponed twice already, so this feels like an opportunity not to be missed.

A Dhul Hijjah launch!

In less than 24 hours In Sha Allah [God Willing). I will unveil my passion project, it is residing on a self hosted WordPress blog, as a little gift for the Muslim Youth.

I will post a link here when the blog is live. So share the goodness & spread the word.

This blog (Faithied.wordpress.com) will live on In Sha Allah. Hopefully to bigger and greater heights.

Let’s keep striving for good deeds in the remaining days coming up to Eid Al Adha.

Stay Faithified!

 

Endings … & new things

Society

Society (Photo credit: R~P~M)

Its never easy when holidays end, family or friends depart or books reach their end. In what ever way the ending comes, it brings with it a bitter sweet feeling.

We all love the familiarity, routine or simply develop an attachment for whatever activity it is. Yet, the end has to come. And when it does, we must learn to take important lessons then move ahead with clarity and certainty.
Ramadan had to come to an end, with all the wonderful teachings & feelings it came with. But we have to move ahead holding tightly to the lessons it came with.
You alone know what you felt in your heart, so hold on to it tightly and try to create similar opportunities even after the blessed month. So as re-live it and improve things all around.
Strive hard to maintain your connection with Allah and seek His Pleasure always.
Sometimes, the fresh breath that comes at the end gives room for focusing on new ideas and projects and just allows you to put your feet up as you gear up for a great comeback.
Ermmnh! No comebacks here! Just a few passion projects still under wraps. I will let them cook and simmer at appropriate temperature, then let you have a taste.
So stay tuned! Watch this space for some new announcements.
Don’t we all love new things – whether its a new idea or project? It brings with it super excitement and uncertainties.
To all great endings and special beginnings!!!
So how have you experienced any remarkable endings recently?  Are there surprises to go with it as well? Please share…

Thanking Allah for Blessing us with Ramadan

English: Interior wall and ceiling of the Shei...

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The date for my journey was drawing closer, yet I had not decided on the appropriate gifts for my cousin and her three children. I was very excited and mentally doing a countdown but knew I couldn’t travel without any gifts.

It has been almost two years since I last saw them, so I wanted to get them something simple yet special; which they will love and find meaningful – a little token to show that I was thinking about them even across the miles.

On arrival, I was delighted to watch them opening their gifts with pleasure and even trying them out and feasting on their all-time favourite; chocolates.
Alhamdulillah, their joy made it worth the effort in addition to praying that it pleases Allah and strengthens the ties of kinship.
Would you agree that gifts – no matter how small or inexpensive, proclaim that someone is thinking about you? And this can serve as an effective means of expressing love that transcends the boundaries of time and place; leaving behind a trail of warm feelings & memories to last for a while or even a lifetime.
Thinking further, why would that ‘someone’ chose you to give such a gift? Could it simply be out of a feeling of love or because you deserve it; therefore must be given one? Perhaps in many cases, it is more of a gesture born of kindness, thoughtfulness, care and love rather than that of being deserving.
As the recipient, what kind of feelings do you experience when receiving a gift, and afterwards that keeps you attached to it or the giver? This may easily stem from emotions such as love and feeling special/remembered rather than reasoning about the quality and quantity of the gift.
Most times, we try to choose gifts that the other person will appreciate and connect with meaningfully; and also something to elicit a favourable response rather than a dull one. What will come to mind easily when choosing a gift is the recipient’s age, interests, career, likes and other personal qualities. So while cards and chocolates would be suitable to people of different ages and interests, a toy car or cookery book would be meaningful to fewer people.
And what better gift than from someone who knows you thoroughly! Now imagine, who will you truly like to receive a gift from? And what is your dream gift?
You earn when you fast 
Neither cash nor gold 
But bounties from the Almighty 
Lasting to the hereafter 
A month among many others 
Yet so many blessings 
How many thanks can you give?
For this priceless gift of Ramadan 
Allah created us with knowledge of our needs and emotions. His love and mercy encompasses us in all phases of our life. His favours and bounties are limitless; with a promise of everlasting peace and happiness in the hereafter.
Amongst these favours, Allah offers us opportunities to repent and turn to Him through worship in various ways.
One of such opportunities is the month of Ramadan, where we not only benefit spiritually but at all levels.
Is there any gift with all its accompanying blessings and mercy that is comparable to that of the month of Ramadan? A gift from the Creator to His creations, Master to His slaves, Beloved to His servant; a private yet communal form of worship.
Abu Huraira Allah be pleased with him reported that Allah’s Messenger peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: Allah, the Exalted and Majestic said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward him for it. (Agreed Upon)
Ramadan is a month of compulsory fasting which goes beyond simply restraining from food and drink. Rather, it is a way of life affecting every Muslim holistically and at all levels within and beyond the month. It is truly a divine gift, eliciting waves of positive feelings – ultimately leading to consciousness of Allah and gratefulness to Him.

Now let us look closely at this gift. What do we expect to find? Any surprises? We know that Ramadan is a month of…

– Qur’an

– Forgiveness & Mercy

– Patience – Generosity

– Laylatul Qadr (Night of power) ~ better than a thousand months of worship

Wait…there is more.
Yes! It is also a month of Seclusion (I’tikaf), Striving, Self reflection, Multiplication of good deeds, Answering of supplications and protection against hell-fire. Devils are locked up and doors of paradise opened. There is also the festival of Eid after 29 or 30 days of fasting; a prescribed celebration for breaking of the fast. What other gift can compare to this?
The Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) 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]
Undeniably, these blessings affect us at all levels – whether it is spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical, social or worldly wise. How is that possible? Well it is! Whether it’s through the discipline and commitment in worship, change of habits, communal worship, doing extra good deeds or remembering worship is not just fun or routine but a way to success.
In what ways can we strive to enjoy this gift of Ramadan; utilise its blessings during the month and beyond? How can we show gratitude and be thankful in ways befitting the Majesty of the One who has blessed us with this gift?
How can we take this gift with its fruits to the next level beyond this transient world, to the hereafter – our everlasting abode?
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (S) said : “The time between the five prayers, two consecutive Friday Prayers, and two consecutive Ramadans are expiations for all that has happened during that period, provided that one has avoided the grave (major) sins.” [Muslim]
For all the wise, it would be good to reflect deeply about the enormity of this gift, knowing that it is one given out of mercy from the Most Merciful and love of the Most Loving each year. Or do you think you deserve such a gift by virtue of being a Muslim?
True gratitude would mean preparing to receive and utilise the gift so as to make it into a wise investment as the companions used to do; Acknowledging and appreciating its blessings, relating it to the One who has given it. It is also a form of submission in worship by having sincerity and seeking the pleasure of Allah alone.
The big goal should be to gain His love and rejoice knowing that you are very special to be blessed with such a priceless gift that will only lead to more blessings and joy in this world and the hereafter.

Or what price tag would you put on this gift of Ramadan?

Originally posted on habibihalaqas.org

[Welcoming Ramadan] #3: Reflecting on the ‘WHY’

Fast

Fast (Photo credit: photophilde)

In the final part of this series, let us keep up with the countdown by trying to keep our lenses on how to bust a common syndrome.

As Ramadan brings with it the opportunity to get more rewards from doing the usual good deeds – from charity to supplication and even community work; So also can the reward be profound if we plan ahead.

The Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) when asked which Charity is the best, said that ‘Charity in Ramadan’  [Tirmidhi].

Yet, at the same time many find during this period the opportunity to indulge in more of eating, spending, sleeping and time wasting.

Whether on the left or right side, is it enough to simply go through the familiar routine of fasting from dawn to dusk?

This routine involves waking up for the early morning meal, performing the five daily prayers, going through work hours, preparing for the iftaar meal, attending tarawih prayers, giving charity when possible, watching some of Islam Channel/ Peace TV or Huda TV, getting some sleep, and so the cycle continues.

Then repeating the motions till the last ten days when the night time prayers become longer. That is what I call the RRS – Ramadan Routine Syndrome. The routine engine is started and automated when the moon is sighted for Ramadan, and turned off on Eid morning or the night before Eid.

And all to what effect? An empty stomach, heart and soul with little or no spiritual connection. A struggle with no deep meaning.

Let’s stop & think!

Should one simply stay hungry for most of  the 29 or 30 days thinking, if I  want more reward I must maintain these fasts till the end of the month – no more, no less!

Well, it obviously isn’t about denying yourself food and drink for the entire month, it is much more than that. The inner struggle is meant to rise beyond the physical motions and RRS.

Since we are all human and want to fast the entire month with the hope of gaining all the countless bounties, what we need to make this struggle wholesome is a little reminder about the ‘why’ of fasting.

Why do we fast?

There is no doubt that fasting is supposed to bring us closer to our Lord. But the question is, how? The Prophet [PBUH] said, ‘Every act of the son of man is for himself except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward it.’ [Bukhari]

This secret act is meant to discipline the character, awaken one’s spirituality and faith-i-fy the heart. With an attentive heart, one can easily enter a state of utter submission and surrender to Allah – foregoing all desires – and hence draw closer to Him with deep consciousness.

Scholars have described the month of fasting as a school for great training of the soul  and purification of the heart. It holds various doors all leading to goodness. So ask yourself, WHY do you fast? Reflect, then assess yourself now.

If you want to increase your presence of mind, stay balanced and committed while partaking actively in rewarding deeds this Ramadan…. Ask yourself, Why am I fasting?

Reflect on your ‘Why‘ before Ramadan, then every morning you wake up for the pre-dawn meal….. ask yourself the same question. Begin your daily fast with this sense of purpose.

Imagine the feeling of connecting with your Lord in Ramadan, learning and growing through ripe blooming seeds of Taqwa! An amazing bundle to last beyond Ramadan through the coming months till the next Ramadan In Sha Allah.

What better gift would you desire this Ramadan?

And don’t you deserve it?

As the days draw closer, if you have not done so already try to – Plan ahead, Think Balance and break free of RRS with a simple ‘WHY‘.

Wishing you all a deeply connected + RRS – free Ramadan.

[Welcoming Ramadan] #2: Think ‘Balance’

Balance

Balance (Photo credit: ant0720)

As we continue with the countdown to Ramadan, it is important to try and maintain a balanced outlook. The reality of fasting may not be the same as we wish to experience it, so rather than get over-ambitious with the planning, let us try to give each activity its due right.

Aa’id Abdullah al Qarni  described the righteous predecessors in his book Thirty lessons for Those Who Fast”, as ‘people who accepted fasting as a season for goodness and also an opportunity for competition’.

He further explains that when a person fasts, the soul is humbled, the heart is subdued, ambitions curbed and canal desires are dispelled. Thus, his/her prayers are answered because of his/her closeness to Allah”.

We should therefore strive to remain close to that primary path of reward from fasting; The path of gaining consciousness of Allah. And avoid getting overwhelmed from an overdose of plans – all aimed at gaining rewards.

Being excessively busy is no guarantee that one is engaging in rewarding deeds because the sincerity of intention and manner of striving matters a lot.

So, rather than plan to read the entire Qur’an two or more times during the entire Ramadan while holding a demanding job or running a business; And also caring for children or significant others after work hours; In addition to planning to attend nightly tarawih  and pray tahajjud.

Why not have a focus, say completing the Qur’an once – while reading the tafsir + translation along the way? The reward for reading the Qur’an should not be underestimated but appreciated so as to read it with attention and intention for the reward involved.

It is important to be realistic, knowing the limits of how much you can achieve in Ramadan due to responsibilities and priorities.

It is tempting to get carried away by the quantity of what we want to achieve – rather let’s switch that with a heart full of sincere intention and polishing one’s worship and actions during the month with it.

This is no way encouraging laziness or making excuses – but rather seeking balance, partaking in healthy competition for rewards, and maximising the opportunities within the special month.

Consider seeking balance in various circumstances during the month of fasting and even beyond.

  • Extravagance/ Waste vs. Miserliness  Think charity & sharing
  • Complete seclusion vs. Unnecessary socialisation  Think keeping ties & community projects
  • Overburdening the self vs. Laziness…    Think small but consistent acts
  • Wasting time with random activities  vs. Hanging around till iftaar time Think preserving time
  • Backbiting/ Slandering vs.  Sleeping all day & night Think pure speech e.g Reading the Qur’an & books of  Tafseer, engaging in Dhikr (remembrance) & Dawah.
  • Negligence in worship vs. Ignorance in worship Think consciousness in worship
  • Excuses + Regrets at sins and transgressions during fasting vs. Arrogance & show-off over the many acts of worship one is engaging in Think pleasure & submission from seeking blessings and rewards of fasting.

 Let’s countdown to a Balanced Ramadan!

Resources to getting you more Balanced In Sha Allah

Click HERE on ”Tips for Balancing Work, Home and Spiritual Obligations During Ramadan”. By Sr. Kimberley Ben

Click HERE on ”Working in Ramadan” by Sr. Saiyyidah Zaidi

Check out Part 1 of the [Welcoming Ramadan] series HERE, in case you have not read it.

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