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Aug 29, 2011

Fasting and Working Out Are More Alike Than You Think: The Unforeseen Parallels Between Staying Fit Year Round and Staying Devoted During Ramadan

by Sarah Hassaine, NASM Certified Trainer, Nadoona Exercise Consultant

I think we all experience that moment of hesitation the day after Eid. Your eyes are still shut as you stir in bed and suddenly you remember that Ramadan is indeed over.

“I am not fasting today!” Your mind excitedly communicates.

“Wait really? Am I really not fasting?” You question.

“Yes I am not fasting!” Your eyes fly open and your mouth forms an excited smile. “Back to normal,” you think, breakfast time!

This fuels you to kick off the covers and run to the bathroom and freshen up before you decide what to eat for breakfast. You may not even be hungry, and you may not even have a craving, but hey, you have been fasting for a month – you deserve it, right? Just like you deserved all that honey baklava last night at the festive Eid party you went to.

But do you?

There is a discipline that we embody when fasting, we prove to ourselves every year that we are strong and can overcome our desires and be patient and appreciative of all that we have. I want to show you that this same mantra is applicable to a healthy lifestyle YEAR ROUND.

The truth of the matter is that we make excuses, and working out and eating right seem to fall off the radar, most likely because it takes diligence, time and commitment to see results. We live in a society where we undoubtedly like immediate reactions; making a gradual transition to a healthy you, will take a while, thus we all tend to swerve, fall off the wagon, or just never get on.

Fasting, is of course, a spiritual experience. While your body does use the “quiet time” of not processing food to repair your cells and detox your organs, the reality is that spirituality can be used in other aspects of your life, like taking care of your body. You have just gone through 30 days of an amazing journey, but now that life is “back to normal” – the idea is to translate some of that same willpower and spirituality you exhibited this past month. Focus on the physical changes you want to make in your life to accompany the spiritual ones that carry on post Ramadan, such as prayer.

So as you descend the steps for breakfast the day after Eid, take some deep breaths to think about how you will get your body on the “right” physical path of exercise and on a healthy regime starting today. For starters, our body should eat 4-5 times a day so that we keep our metabolism working. Ironically, this is similar to how many times we should engage in prayer. Just as it is prescribed in the dogma to space out your prayers throughout the day, think about how you can space out your meals more frequently. This keeps your body in a constant state of burning calories. Unlike during Ramadan, where you would eat two meals a day (you all woke up for suhoor right? ;)) – this is unhealthy because whatever we do eat at iftar or suhoor is stored away given the day-long starvation mode.

In light of the fact that Ramadan marks the beginning of a New Year and your success in fasting, I want to share tips on how to turn the page and focus on a new rejuvenated you.

For starters: What is your goal? For a lot of women, it is just weight loss, and that is okay if you understand that is a very broad wish. Weight loss is like falling in love and being in a relationship: it requires responsibility, ownership, compromise and commitment. For this New Year, your first goal should be to believe in yourself enough to want to lose weight and engage in all aspects of weight loss, albeit eating healthy, exercising, reducing intake of sugars/starch, etc.

First step: Find and organize your motivation! Share your goal with friends, family, or look for support from groups like nadoona.com who challenge Muslim women to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Decide if you need a food journal or a workout journal and set it up conveniently for your access (Phone App/Google Doc/Written journal). Food for thought: over 50% of women who had a journal saw results sooner than those who did not.

Second step: Write out a grocery list with healthy food options and stick to it. Set the incentive to try to cook more and have healthy snacks at home (no more Starbucks cookies mid-day!). Invite friends over instead of going out. Treat yourself to healthy cook books (Do I hear Eid gift to yourself?).

Third step: Plan out all 4-5 meals every morning or the night before. For example, I pack my lunch and all snacks the night before. Occasionally I even prepare my breakfast. You will feel so in charge of your body and empowered by your control. In Ramadan, you most likely planned all your meals and you made it a point to be on time every day for dinner. Be good to your body like this year round and eat frequently and not too late– skipping meals just results in weight gain.

Fourth step: Most importantly - Exercise! It is true ladies, if you don’t burn it, you sit on it. Start with three days a week of cardio for at least 30-45 minutes and then move up to four days within a few weeks and start interval training. Once you start working out, your energy will increase and you will slowly feel more addicted to the process. It’s like fasting, once you started, it got easier. Diversify your workouts so that muscles are always challenged and stimulated. Remember to integrate core balance training and weights two to three times a week as well. Make sure it’s fun! The idea is to get your heart rate up and sweat so that you are burning calories, so if you prefer to take dance classes, kick boxing, or anything of the sort, sign up!

Post Ramadan, we are all kind of weak and tired from a month of late nights, heavy meals and socializing. After you read this article, do me a favor and go to the mirror and look at yourself in the eyes and think about these four steps. Set the intention to start afresh. Reflect upon your routine and see where you can make changes. You just made changes for 30 days, now the idea is to make small changes in your daily life that will result in a healthier, lighter and happier you. Ask yourself “When is the best time to work out? In the morning or evening?” Answer your question and find a schedule that works, do not shrug it off and say neither! Ask yourself, “What shall I pack for lunch in the morning?” Answer your question with viable options, not, “I don’t have time I will just go to the deli.” You need to exercise control and demand the change from yourself.

I encourage you to check out nadoona.com. Nadoona is a movement for Muslim women to become aware of their bodies - essentially how they treat it and what they put into it. On the site, you can sign up to take part in their weight loss challenge program, get fitness tips, partake in a health forum and get inspired by many success stories told personally by other muslimahs nationwide. Nadoona will work with women to make sure that their workout program and nutrition matches their lifestyle and culture.

Ladies – there are so many resources and opportunities out there, so seize this New Year and unearth your motivation to take care of you. You have just proven to yourself throughout Ramadan how much discipline and self-control you do indeed have. Now, this needs to be translated and extended to healthy living year round. After all, if you don’t take care of your body – who will? So now that you are in the kitchen and its breakfast time, what will you have?

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 26, 2011

Ramadan, Jumuah and maybe Laylat ul Qadr: If Not NOW, Then When?

27th night of Ramadan <--> Last 10 days/nights of Ramadan
Last Friday (Jumuah) of Ramadan
Possibly Laylat ul Qadr tonight!

Can YOU imagine: $1 charity TODAY is like giving in charity every night for 30,000 nights!

Laylatul Qadr is better than a 1000 months (thats 30,000 nights!). We focus on prayers and reading Qur'an in it, but we forget charity...if you donate $1 on laylatul qadr, that is like donating for 30,000 nights! Subhan Allah

Today is the 27th night, so it is quite possible that it maybe laylat ul qadr! So make sure you donate something, even if its a dollar, because the reward is immense! Better yet, donate $20 or more daily in the last ten nights. Guaranteed to catch laylatul qadr, insha'Allah.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE - http://bit.ly/30000nights_charity

 By now, I am sure you have heard of Habibi Halaqas. We are an exciting initiative providing online webinars on topics related to Islam, life skills specific to Muslim sisters, social psychology, and more! Our website now includes articles, e-books, bookstore, videos, wallpapers etc. and we hold special projects on our facebook page such as the one this Ramadan about memorizing Surah Mulk.

Habibi Halaqas has now been running for about a year and a half and in this time, it has grown by leaps and bounds, alhumdulillah. It started off with an audience of about 20 sisters and now the average attendance of the halaqas is around 300 sisters, alhumdulillahi rabbil 'alameen. Also, Habibi Halaqas facebook page consists of almost 15000 active brothers and sisters, ma sha Allah, tabarak Allah. We now consist of a staff of over 35 dedicated sisters who are striving to take this project to even greater heights. I attribute this success to none other than Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, who in His utmost kindness and mercy allowed me and all the sisters involved with Habibi Halaqas to help so many sisters around the world and we ask Him to accept it from us, ameen! 

Posted below are feedbacks that I have received from sisters over the past year:

I just finished watching the Fiqh of Menstruation Webinar and Alhumdulillah I found it extremely helpful. I had so many uncertainties about this issue and this webinar has cleared all of them Alhumdulillah. I especaially took home the imporatnt message of not being ashamed to ask questions we may have about our deen especially in sensitive areas of discussion. I just wanted to let you know what a great job you are doing and I support you 100%! I am looking forward to your next webinar about marriage and being happy. May Allah reward you for your continued efforts InshAllah

Jazak Allah  khair  sister for a fantastic webinar on a much needed  topic. Subhan Allah this was the answer to my dua, i have been chasing after this seminar all whole the net ever since i first held of it.  Finally i was able to benefit from, even though i missed the beginning coz being in uae it was in the middle of the night for us. Al hamdo lillah, it was worth it. 

mashallah, very informative webinar. i really enjoyed listening to it, and appreciate my husband even more now:-) i think the advice overall was very practical, and one of the best highlights was the questions to ask a prospective husband. because most sisters get that part wrong and have no clue what to ask!...also good reminders to those who are married to keep the fun going:-) jazakallah to the habibi halaqa team for making this available to us.

Here are some messages I received from sisters who started wearing the hijab after our hijab webinar, alhumdulillahi rabbil 'alameen!

Salaam alaykum to all sisters @ Habibi Halaqas... Thank you to your halaqa it helped me so much to build courage and start using hijab. Last Saturday was my first time using hijab fulltime. Jazaka'Allah khayr.

Salam sisters. I proud to say that your lecture gave me the final push I was seeking and with the help of Allah swt I donned the hijab (or khimar I should say, now knowing the difference from the lecture) yesterday:)))).  I feel elated and enveloped in Allahs swt love and mercy, truely only he can guide us. Nevertheless I have thanked him loads and inshalah will continue to do o, but I would like to thank you for your efforts in producing the lecture, you have already helped one sister in islam. 

The reason I am sharing this with you is to request you to support us in our endeavors and gain ajr through Habibi Halaqas. Allah has truly put barakah in this project, alhumdulillahi rabbil 'alameen, and I wish for all of you to be a part of this. 

 Please donate to Habibi Halaqas so brothers and sisters around the world can continue to benefit from it, in sha Allah. Your donation will help keep Habibi Halaqas running more smoothly and allow us to improve our halaqas and our website even more, in sha Allah. Please donate anything you can, no matter how small the amount may be. I praise Allah and ask Him to increase you in your blessings and reward you with the best of rewards in the hereafter. 

CLICK HERE TO DONATE - http://bit.ly/30000nights_charity

Please email us at habibihalaqas@gmail.com if you would like to send in a cheque instead. Jazzak Allah khair.

If you are unable to donate, please keep us in your duas and please forward this message to as many as you can. Jazzak Allah khair.

Ibn Al Mubarak would only give his charity to people of knowledge. He was asked, 'why do you not broaden (your charity to other people)?' So he responded, 'I do not know any station, after the station of prophethood, that is more noble than the station of the scholars. So if one of them is restrained by (not being able to) provide for himself, then he will not have any time for knowledge, nor will he teach others. So to provide them time to study and teach is better (than giving it to others).'

Aug 25, 2011

Ramadan & The Last 10 Nights Special: Have We Realized How Important Laylat ul Qadr Is?

by Ni'mah Ali

Just as the month of Ramadan is more special than the other months, the last ten nights of Ramadan are more special than the first 19 or 20 nights of Ramadan - reason being that in the last ten nights there is a very important night in which all Muslims await for eagerly, a night which is most blessed than any other night in all the months. That night is Laytul Qadar or in English “the night of decree.” In the Qur’an Allah says about this particular night:

Verily, We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al Qadr (Decree). And what will make you know what the night of Al Qadr ( Decree) is? The night of Al Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months ( i.e. worshipping Allah in that night is better than worshipping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months). Therein descend the angels and the Ruh (Angel Gabriel) by Allah's Permission with all Decrees. (All that night), there is peace (and Goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn. [Quran - 97]

A thousand months! mashaaAllah, imagine the ajar (reward) we will get in that one night if we actually participate and spend that entire night worshipping Allah through salaat, reciting the Quran and doing a lot of dhikr? Subhanalaah! This is a night that comes with a lot of opportunities! It is a night where Allah can answer all of your du’as. All sincere Muslims should be looking forward to this night with excitement and joy. We not only have the opportunity to get closer to Allah in this blessed night, but we can have our dreams to come true. Allah can grant us our wishes to become better Muslims, to protect us from the shayteen forever and to strengthen our iman. This is the reason why the last ten nights are so special, and we see many Muslims fill up masjids in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Since we don’t know which of the ten nights the laytul qadar will fall on, we have to try our best to make our selfs busy with remembering Allah, praying Salaat, reciting Qur’an and making lots and lots of du’a to Allah until the end of Ramadan. No one knows for sure when laytul qadar is, but what we know from ahadith of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is that it is in the odd numbered nights -21, 23,25,27, or 29. In a report by Al Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah; Prophet Muhammad Salalahu Alayhi Wasalam said; "Seek it (the Qadr Night) on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan". In another hadith, he said, "Seek the night in the last ten days, and if any of you is weak, or cannot observe it, he should not miss the remaining seven days (Muslim). In fact, there are other authentic hadiths on the Qadr night, and one basic point in all of them is that, the night is found in the last ten days of Ramadan. Even though we don’t know which night is laytul qadar, there are some signs that indicate it is layatul qadar. Scholars have described what these signs are and we will need to look out for these signs to determine when this special night will be, but truly Allah only knows.

Now that we know the importance and blessedness of laytul qadar, what signs can we look out for which indicates that is indeed that special night we all cannot wait for? There are several signs: in the same night, and then the following day.

During this night, the night is pleasant, it is not hot or cold.
The night is bright,
There are no meteors seen being thrown at the shaytan
The following day, the sun rises with no visible rays
The following day the sun rises red and week
For references of hadiths, please visit Link

In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters the entire month of Ramadan is a blessed one which has so much opportunity for us to get closer to Allah. The last ten days are even better, so we all should try our hardest to take full advantage of these opportunities in Ramadan. May Allah the all mighty and great, accept our du’as, our sawm, and zakat and all other good deeds we do for His sake only. May Allah give us protection from His enemy and our enemy, the accursed shaytan! and may Allah bless us and reward our efforts by giving us full mercy and admitting us to His beautiful Jannah in the akhira. Allahuma Amin!!!

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 24, 2011

Ramadan Special: In Last Ten Nights is The Night Of Qadr

by Rubina Siddiqi

Allah (swt) says in the Quran :

1. We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power.
2. And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is?
3. The Night of Power is better than a thousand months.
4. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by Allah's permission, on every errand: 5. Peace! This until the rise of morn!
Surah 97:1-5 Al-Qadr (Night of Power)

Abu Hurairah (rA) reported that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi 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 to 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 it’s good is really deprived.” (Related by Ahmad, an-Nasa’i and al-Baihaqi)

It is on this night that a miraculous event took place in the history of mankind when the first ayaat of the Holy Quran were revealed to our beloved prophet Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This is the night of honour and prestige when a faithful servant is rewarded. All his or her good deeds will be multiplied through the mercy of Allah. Because of the magnificent blessings of this night, the angels descend from Heaven. They come down in great numbers with the blessings and mercy of Allah. They visit the believers worshiping Allah subhaana wa ta'aala

Whether they are reciting Quran, making dhikr (remembrance) or performing prayer. It is with extreme sincerity and earnestness and enthusiasm that we should worship to seek the pleasure of our lord and have complete faith that any good deed will be rewarded.

Abu Hurayrah (rA) reports that prophet Mohammed sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever stands in prayer and ibaadah on the night of Power with sincere faith and with sincere hope of gaining reward, his previous sins are forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

The exact date of Laylatul Qadr is not known to us. Perhaps the wisdom in this is that the Almighty wanted us to continuously work hard throughout the month to gain his mercy, forgiveness and pleasure. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam strove his best in seeking for this night during the last ten nights of Ramadan.

Ibn Abbas as reported: The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi 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 3:238)
What can we do to gain the Allah’s forgiveness in the last 10 nights?

Practice Itikaf:

Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used to practice Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan till he died and then his wives used to practice Itikaf after him. (Bukhari 3:243)
Sisters who cannot spend a lot of time in Itikaf as caring for kids or other activities may make this difficult, can try making the intention of Itikaf for short periods of time whenever possible.

Intensify Dua - We should strive our best to make lots of dua for everything and everyone. Make dua for our muslim Ummah and everyone who is suffering with sincere intention that our Lord will listen to our supplication and grant us whatever halal we desire and whatever is good for us, Ameen. Aside from Prayer, Dua is our strongest connection with our Lord where He is there for us, listening to our needs and ready to bestow his mercy on us.

A'ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that she asked the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, peace and blessings be upon him, "O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul-Qadr, what should I say during it?" And he instructed her to say: “O Allah! You are Oft-Forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.” (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and At-Tirmithi)"
Make sincere repentance -We should earnestly ask Allah subhaana wa ta'aala to forgive the sins that we have commited knowingly or unknowingly. Weep and ask for his Forgiveness. For the wrong-doings we have made towards others to cause them hurt and most importantly, for the mistakes we have done to displease Him. Make dua for those muslim brother and sisters who are no longer with us and ask for their forgivness.

Narrated Shaddad bin Aus (Radhi-Allahu 'anhu), the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

"The most superior way of asking for forgiveness from Allah is:  O Allah, You are my Lord, there is none worthy of worship but You. You created me and I am your slave. I keep Your covenant, and my pledge to You so far as I am able. I seek refuge in You from the evil of what I have done. I admit to Your blessings upon me, and I admit to my misdeeds. Forgive me, for there is none who may forgive sins but You. 

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa sallam) added: "If somebody recites it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise."[Sahih Bukhari - Book 75: Hadith 318]
Dhikr- Increase the amount of Dhikr (more of extra salat, reading more of the quran, tasbeeh etc.). While reading the Quran try to contemplate on the meanings of the verses you recite and to connect with them. During Salat try to make your prayers longer, deeper and meaningful. If you are familiar with longer Surahs, read the translation and explanation and then recite these Surahs in Salat (qayam-ul-lail or night prayer), carefully reflecting on the meaning while you pray.

Narrated Aisha: 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 3:241)

This time of the month is very precious for the benefit of our souls and akhira and we are solely responsible for our gain and loss. Alhamdullillah, we are still present today, blessed with the opportunity to have witnessed yet another Ramadan and to repent for our misdeeds. To strive to increase our good deeds and take full advantage of this opportunity. Some of our brothers and sisters who were present and active last Ramadan are no longer here this year, May Allah grant them paradise, Ameen. This may be our last opportunity too, so we ought to do our best and avail it. May Allah guide us to the best and grant us His mercy, forgiveness and deliverance from Hellfire, Ameen.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 22, 2011

Common Errors Made During Ramadhan (10 Lessons)

source: Al-Jumuah Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 9

1. Excessive spending: Ramadhan should be a time to avoid being wasteful, and learning to be prepared in facing harder times by distinguishing the needs from the luxuries. Unfortunately, many people go beyond their limits to spend during Ramadhan. Whether in the varieties of food that they savor each night, or by the other types of spending.

2. Staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day: Some people sleep during most of the day when they are fasting. Ramadhan is not a time of being lazy, and this do not allow the full benefit from the experience of fasting. It is as if they have only inverted their nights into days and vice versa. In addition, some may spend a great portion of the night indulging in eating and drinking and socializing

3. Spending more time in socializing: Because people invite each other more often during Ramadhan they do tend to spend more time socializing with friends, and relatives. While it is a good deed to feed the fasting person, this should not result in precious time lost in vain talk. Use the occasion for remembering Allah and offering additional prayers, and for the Da'wah to Allah.

4. Insisting on performing a certain number of Rakaas during the Tarawih (night) prayer to the point of not praying behind the Imam and thus forfeiting the benefit of congregational prayer. This might also bring hatred and disagreement between the Muslims of one community.

5. Reading Qur'an too fast: Some insist on finishing the whole Qur'an once or more, even if they have to read very fast. Although reading the Qur'an many times is desirable, this should not be done hastily, especially during the Tarawih prayer without pondering upon its meaning. Allah ta'ala said: "This is a Book which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses," (Saad 38:29), and the Prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said: "Those who read the Qur'an in less than three days do not grasp [its meaning]"

6. Socializing in l'tikaf: Many people are eager to do I'tikaf but some confine themselves in the masjid not to pray and worship Allah but to talk and socialize.

7. The ways of doing good are numerous in Ramadhan Many people try to perform more than they are able to. By going beyond their capabilities, they end up not performing any deed in the desired way.

8. Scholars and Dai'ahs should assume a more prominent role in educating the people - both by talking to them and by giving the best example in their behavior which should comply to the Shariah and following the Sunnah.

9. The Muslim should realize that his priorities dictate that he does what benefits him in the Hereafter and should not put worldly interests first.

10. The Muslim should apply himself to deepen his sense of following the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, in every aspect of his life, at all times and especially during the month of Ramadhan. This necessitates seeking more knowledge about the Fiqh of fasting and its etiquette, assimilating the wisdom and goals of fasting, and facilitating the means that allow all the Muslims to benefit from their fasting.

We ask Allah to accept our fast and our good deeds.

Aug 19, 2011

Why is fasting haraam for menstruating women?

Praise be to Allaah.


The believer has to submit to the ruling of Allaah and accept it even if he does not know the reason behind it; rather it should be sufficient for him that Allaah and His Messenger have commanded it.

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error” [al-Ahzaab 33:36]

“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allaah (His Words, the Qur’aan) and His Messenger , to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise)”[al-Noor 24:51]

The believer should believe with certainty of faith that Allaah is Wise and that He does prescribe anything except in accordance with His ultimate wisdom, and He does not enjoin anything except that which is in people’s best interests and He does not forbid anything except to protect people from its harm and evil. How well Ibn Katheer put it in al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah (6/79) when he said:

The law of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the most complete of laws; it did not leave any good thing that is recognized by the wise as being good but it enjoined it, and it did not leave any evil thing that is recognized by the wise as being evil but it forbade it. It has not enjoined anything of which people could say, ‘Would that this were not enjoined,’ and it has not forbidden anything of which people could say, ‘Would that this were not forbidden.’

We may understand the reasons, or they may be hidden from us, and most or part of them may be hidden from us.


The scholars are unanimously agreed that it is forbidden for a menstruating woman to fast, and that she has to make up the days that she misses because of menstruation if that was an obligatory fast, as in Ramadaan.

They are also agreed that if she does fast, her fast is not valid. See question no.50282.

The scholars differed as to the reason why the fast of a menstruating woman is not valid.

Some of them said that the reason is not known to us.

Imam al-Haramayn said: We do not know why her fast is not valid, because purity is not a prerequisite for it.

From al-Majmoo’, 2/386.

Others said: The reason why Allaah has forbidden menstruating women to fast at the time of their period is out of mercy towards them, because loss of blood weakens them and if a woman were to fast when menstruating, she would be weakened both by menstruation and by fasting, in which case fasting would be an unfair burden and may even be harmful.

Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (25/234):

With regard to menstruation we say:

Islam brings moderation in all things, and going to extremes in worship is a kind of unfairness that the Lawgiver forbids, and commands us to be moderate in worship. Hence Islam tells us to hasten breaking the fast and to delay suhoor, and it forbids continual fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best and most moderate of fasting is the fast of Dawood (peace be upon him). He used to fast alternate days and he would not flee when meeting the enemy.” Moderation in worship is one of the greatest aims of the Lawgiver. Hence Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Make not unlawful the Tayyibaat (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons) which Allaah has made lawful to you, and transgress not. Verily, Allaah does not like the transgressors”[al-Maa'idah 5:67]
Forbidding permitted things is regarded as a transgression which goes against moderation. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“For the wrongdoing of the Jews, We made unlawful for them certain good foods which had been lawful for them — and for their hindering many from Allaah’s Way;

161. And their taking of Ribaa (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it”
[al-Nisa’ 4:160]

Because they went astray, they were punished by being forbidden good things, unlike the ummah that follows the middle way, for whom good things are allowed and bad things are forbidden. As this is the case, the fasting person is forbidden to eat and drink things that strengthen him and nourish him, and he is forbidden to deliberately cause his body to eject things that may weaken him. Otherwise if he were allowed to do that, he would be a transgressor and one who goes to extremes in his worship, and he would not be moderate.

Things that come out of the body are of two types. The first type is those that are unavoidable or which come out in a manner that does not cause any harm. There is nothing wrong with these, like urine and stools, because they do not cause any harm and they cannot be avoided. If they need to come out, that does not harm a person, rather it benefits him; the same applies if a person vomits and cannot help it, or experiences a wet dream, which also cannot be helped. But if a person vomits deliberately and ejects the food and drink that give him nourishment, or masturbates accompanied by feelings of desire … and the menstruation that causes blood to flow. A menstruating women can fast at a time other than the times when she is bleeding, because then she will be fasting at a time when she is in a good state, when she is not losing blood which gives strength to the body. Fasting at the time when she is bleeding would weaken her physically and would mean that she is fasting at a time when she is not in a good state, so she is commanded to fast at times other than menstruation.

Source: islamqa.com

Aug 18, 2011

Video: Ramadan Reruns - Baba Ali

The point of the video is to make people more conscious of these silly actions so they will think twice before they do it during the next Ramadan. Reminding myself before anyone else, Ramadan is a blessing so let's try not to take it for granted but rather take advantage of it by increasing our Iman (faith) so we can become better Muslims, even after Ramadan is over InshAllah.

Aug 17, 2011

Understanding Ramadan: The Blessed Month Of Mercy

By Seema Muhammad Belushi

Allah subhanahu wa ta’laa says in the Qur’an: And I (Allah) created not the jinn and humans except they should worship Me (Alone)…Adh-Dhariyat 51:56

In this ayah from the Qur’an Allah is reminding us about the purpose of our lives, that we (humans) have been created just to worship Allah alone…Many people especially the younger generation today may think otherwise, that if a human was created just to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa then why did He create the Angels for worship? For Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa has created the Angels who have been worshipping Allah even before the first human was created! There are Angels who (only Allah knows their exact number) are in unremitting prostration; there are ones who praise Allah day and night, and they are doing it in a better way than us humans.

No doubt the Angels have been worshipping Allah before the time the humans were created but there is a difference between an Angel and a human’s worshipping of Allah…The Angels who are sin-free, have been given the power to worship Allah effortlessly/incessantly without fatiguing, as they have been programmed in such a way that they are always obedient to their lord and do not have a free will to do as they please. Hence they do not feel hunger, thirst, or have sexual desires. Even their hearts are clean from committing a sin; in fact they don’t even get whispers from the shaytaan like humans do. And the truth is the Angels do not have any rewards from Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa for their worship! Where as we (humans) have been given this opportunity to accumulate as much of rewards as we want by our worship of Allah…subhanAllah!

So if the Angels don’t eat, it’s not a big deal as the yearning for eating has not been put in them. But a human was born weak with all the necessities of life like eating, drinking, and sexual desire even the Prophets; who were the best of all creations had to eat and drink to keep alive. Now if a human feels hungry and he does not eat just because Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa has commanded him not to eat but keep a fast from morning till evening then this is really something amazing which even an angel is not able to achieve. Allah has said fasting is for Me and I will reward the person who fasts… Isn’t it wonderful to receive a reward for being obedient to your Creator and pleasing Him? Reward for not eating or drinking? Yes! How?

For in veracity, fasting helps us to accomplish Taqwa of Allah which is a state of being cognizant of our Creator all the time. Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala says which translates as: “Take provisions for your journey, but the best provision is Taqwa, or piety and righteousness” Al-Baqarah: 197. It is actually the righteous and pious who are truly the happy ones in this life. By worshipping Allah, they will occupy the highest ranks in Paradise in the Hereafter.

O Believers, with the blessed month of Ramadan fast approaching us, a month in which Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala has made obligatory upon you to fast so that you might become righteous, pious, fearful and conscious of Allah, we humans are at the mercy of our limbs, such as our eyes, ears, hands, tongues, stomachs and the private parts. The heart is the leader and regulator of all of these. The heart ‘fasts’ when it directs its worship and service completely and purely for the sake of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala. It does this by submitting to His Glory, seeking closeness to Him, addressing and approaching Him and supplicating to Him.

Unfortunately nowadays people keep grousing about how long fasting will be this year, as it’s in summer!! Yes, it’s going to be a bit hard, so it is important to eat foods that will give you the correct resistance throughout the working day... for fasting is not just about eating or drinking but for our spiritual augmentation which is the most important thing for us, here too the Angels have been deprived this opportunity, and Allah has only given this chance to us humans for our own benefit. Further, you need to have eeman and correct intentions to realize it is purely for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa taalaa ( just imagine the rewards which you will gather in the akhira, one of which is You will get to enter Jannah through a door called Ar-Rayan which is mainly for the ones who fast! A VIP service just for the fasters!! subhanAllah!!

One thing you must be thankful for is that you have food for you sitting on your table, unlike some people worldwide who are just having perhaps one meal (or nothing at all) and are dying due to hunger. So Prepare yourself psychologically and comprehend, that this month could be your chance for all your sins( of the past 11 months!) to be forgiven in sha Allah, who knows if we will even make it till the next 15 days and who knows if this may be our last Ramadan!?

Now if you enter something with optimistically, this will be the result. If you go into Ramadan with a negative attitude, then that is how you will feel…

Be appreciative towards Allah subhanahu wa taalaa, for He has asked us to fast only for 30 days out of 365! subhanAllah!!.

I wish you all a blessed Ramadan in sha Allah!

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 16, 2011

Ramadan Food/Kitchen Special: Easy to Make Recipes

By Farheen Naaz

Every Ramadan the biggest task women face is to balance time between praying and cooking! We want to spend the least amount of time in our kitchen and more on the prayer mat. Here are a few easy to make and less time consuming recipes.

A tip I’d like to share here is, it’d earn us rewards as well as make the food tastier if we recite various adhkaar while preparing food items for iftar! It sure makes a difference!

Chicken Kabab
Chicken mince 1/2 kg
Degi red chilli powder 1tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Brown onion 4tbsp (grinded)
1 big onion finely chopped
Paste of : garlic (2 cloves) + 4-5 green chillies + 4-5 tbsp coriander seeds

Mix all the ingredients and marinate for 1 hour. Make any shape you like. Heat some butter and fry on medium flame till done.

Golden Baby Corn
Baby corns: 20 – 24 (1 small can is sufficient for a family of 5}
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Red chili powder: 1.2 tsp
Oil: to deep fry
Refined flour 2 tbsp
Corn flour 2 tbsp
Coriander, chopped 1tsp
Red chilli powder 1/4 tsp

Marinate the boiled baby corns in gg paste, red chilli powder, salt and chat masala for 15 minutes
Make batter by mixing all ingredients with sufficient water
Dip marinated corn in batter and deep fry till golden and crisp

PS: I used the tinned baby corns so didn't marinate them but just used a little extra gg paste and red chilli powder in the batter and dipped them directly.

Easy Samosa Filling
Oil 3 tbsp
Mashed potatoes ½ kg
Mint leaves grinded into a paste – 4 tbsp
Green chillies grinded – 2
Salt as per taste

MethodHeat oil in a wok and sauté green chillies paste for one minute. Add the mint leaves paste and sauté on medium flame till aroma arises. Add mashed potatoes, salt and mix. Keep on low flame for two to three minutes or until the mint gets incorporated into the mashed potatoes.

You can use this filling in the ready to make samosa patties or use it as a filling for parathas.

I'd love to hear your views on this recipe! Please share with me by posting in comments section below :)

Aug 15, 2011

Ramadhan : The Month Of Charity, Patience And Mercy

By Ni'mah Ali

I have titled this article ‘the month of charity, patience, and mercy because this month is just that. Certainly, it is the month of starting over. It’s the month when we Muslims are most hopeful in Allah’s’ forgiveness and mercy. It is the month when you will see those who are religiously committed and those who are not rushing to the masaajids, women who have not observed the hijab before covering up, people who never performed salaat before praying and why is this we wonder? Why do people put up so much effort in Ramadan that they otherwise don’t? Because in Ramadan the biggest of the shayateen (devils) are chained up and people rush to do good so they can be forgiven for their past sins. It is this month that many people are guided to the straight path, and many people are forgiven for their previous sins and Allah turns to them in mercy and gives them true guidance. But it is only those who take full advantage of this great months’ many benefits who will reap its fruits. The prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam used to say to the people in Sha’ban just when Ramadan was approaching

"O Muslims! A noble and generous month has come to you. A month in which a night is better than one thousand months, and this month is the month of charity, patience, and mercy. In this month the gates of Paradise become wide open and the gates of Hell are shut, and the devils are chained" (An-Nasa'i).
So we must take full advantage of this month and not let a single minute pass us by without remembering Allah, without doing good deeds such as praying more, giving charity, helping the poor, and calling on Allah night and day to help us, save us from our false desires, the shaytan’s tricks and always asking for Jannah. Not that we should not do good deeds on a daily basis during other months, of course we should, but during Ramadan, every good deed we do is worth so much more. It is a blessed month in which there is peace and calmness among people and on earth and in this month there is a great opportunity to get closer to Allah. The sahaaba used to ask Allah to bless them to witness and participate in Ramadan six months before Ramadan even started—this shows us how great and blessed this month truly is. People of knowledge and those who want to get closer to Allah will yearn for Ramadan because they know the benefits it carries.

Ramadan is not only about fasting, but it is about doing all good deeds which will get you closer to Allah; it is about staying far away from all bad things for the sake of Allah so we can discipline our souls, purify our hearts and have patience in the long hours without food during the day. Ramadan is the time in which we have a glimpse at what many people in the world go through; hunger, thus we become more thankful to Allah for giving us good food, not only that but we remember all the good things in our lives with which Allah has blessed us with. During Ramadan it is good to forgive those who have hurt you knowingly or unknowingly for Allah is most forgiving and loves those who forgive others. In part two of this article, I will inshaAllah, attempt to discuss exactly what are the best deeds we can focus on during Ramadan. Also, just like Ramadan is most special among all the months, there are days in Ramadan which are more special—I am talking about the last ten days, and specifically laytul Qadar. So stay tuned!

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 14, 2011

25 Golden Advices For Ramadan

1. Fast Ramadan with belief and truly seeking the reward of Allah the Most High so that He may forgive you your past sins.

2. Beware of breaking your fast during the days of Ramadan without a valid Islamic excuse, for it is from the greatest of sins.

3. Pray Salat ut-Taraweeh and the night prayer during the nights of Ramadan – especially on Layatul-Qadr – based on belief and truly seeking the reward of Allah, so that Allah may forgive you your past sins.

4. Make sure that your food, your drink and your clothing are from halal means, in order that your actions be accepted, and your supplications answered. Beware of refraining from the halal while fasting and breaking your fast with the haram.

5. Give food to some fasting people to gain a reward similar to theirs.

6. Perform your five prayers on time in congregation to gain the reward and Allah's protection.

7. Give a lot of charity for the best charity is that of Ramadan.

8. Beware of spending your time without performing righteous deeds, for you will be responsible and reckoned for it and will be rewarded for all you do during your time.

9. Perform `umrah in Ramadan for `Umrah in Ramadan is equal to Hajj.

10. Seek help for fasting during the day by eating the sahoor meal in the last part of the night before the appearance of Fajr.

11. Hasten breaking your fast after the sun has truly set in order to gain the love of Allah.

12. Perform ghusl before fajr if you need to purify yourself from the state of major impurity so that you are able to do acts of worship in a state of purity and cleanliness.

13. Cease the opportunity of being in Ramadan and spend it with the good that has been revealed in it – by reciting the noble Quran and pondering and reflection of its meanings so that it be a proof for you with your Lord and an intercessor for you on the Day of Reckoning.

14. Preserve your tongue from lying, cursing, backbiting and slander for it decreases the reward of fasting.

15. Do not let fasting cause you cross your boundaries by getting upset due to the slightest of reasons. Rather, fating should be a cause of peacefulness and tranquility of your soul.

16. Upon completion of fasting, be in a state of taqwa of Allah the Most High, being aware of Allah watching you in secret and in public, in thankfulness for His favors, and steadfastness upon obedience of Allah by doing all what He has ordered and shunning all that He has prohibited.

17. Increase in remembrance of Allah, seeking of forgiveness, asking for Paradise and protection against the Fire, especially when fasting, while breaking the fast and during suhoor, for these actions are among greatest causes of attaining Allah's forgiveness.

18. Increase in supplication for yourself, your parents, your children and Muslims, for Allah has ordered making of supplications and has guaranteed acceptance.

19. Repent to Allah with a sincere repentance in all times by leaving sins, regretting those that you have done before and firmly deciding not to return to them in the future, for Allah accepts repentance of those who repent.

20. Fast six days of Shawwal, for whoever fasts Ramadan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasts all the time.

21. Fast on the Day of `Arafah, the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, to attain success by being forgiven your sins of the last year and the coming year.

22. Fast on the day of `Aashuraa, the 10th of Muharram, along with the 9th, to attain success by being forgiven your sins of the past year.

23. Continue being in a state of iman and taqwa and perform righteous actions after the month of Ramadan, until you die. And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death). [Quran 15:99]

24. Ensure that you attain the positive effects of your acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj, sincere repentance and leaving of customs that are in variance with the Sharee`ah.

25. Invoke a lot of salawat and salam upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him, his Companions and all those who follow them until the Day of Judgment.

We'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell us in the comments section below :)

Aug 13, 2011

Suggestions To Kick Start Your Hifdh This Ramadan

Ramadan is a month of Quraan! Why not start your dream journey to memorize Quraan in this blessed month?

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Surah al Mulk or Surah As-Sajda
  • 30 verses in total
  • 2 verses daily, 
  • memorized by 15th Ramadan
  • ponder over its Tafseer for the next 15 days
Virtues of Surah al Mulk: It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is a soorah of the Qur’aan containing thirty verses which have interceded for a man until he was forgiven. It is the surah Tabaarak alladhi bi yadihi’l-mulk.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2891; Ahmad, 7634; Abu Dawood, 1400; Ibn Maajah, 3786. This hadeeth was classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi and by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 3/6.]
Virtues of Surah al Mulk and Surah as-Sajda: narrated from Jaabir, that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)never used to sleep until he had recited Alif-laam-meem tanzeel [al-Sajdah] and Tabaarak alladhi bi yadihi’l-mulk [al-Mulk]. [Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2892; Ahmad, 14249. Al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi (3/6) that this hadeeth is saheeh]

2. Surah Al Kahf
  • 110 verses in total
  • 4 verses daily (2 after Fajr with meaning, 2 after Dhuhr with meaning )
  • memorized by the last day of Ramadan
Virtues of Surah Al Kahf: Imam Ahmad recorded from Abu Ad-Darda’ that the Prophet said: “Whoever memorizes ten Ayat from the beginning of Surat Al-Kahf will be protected from the Dajjal.” This was also recorded by Muslim, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i and At-Tirmidhi. According to the version recorded by At-Tirmidhi, “Whoever memorizes three Ayat from the beginning of Al-Kahf.” He said, it is “Hasan Sahih. ” In his Mustadrak, Al-Hakim recorded from Abu Sa`id that the Prophet said:”Whoever recites Surat Al-Kahf on Friday, it will illuminate him with light from one Friday to the next.” Then he said: “This Hadith has a Sahih chain, but they (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) did not record it. [Source: Tafseer Ibn Kathir]

3. First 4, mid 3 (255-257) and last 3 verses of Suratul Baqarah

In Musnad Ahmad, Sahih Muslim, At-Tirmidhi and An-Nasa’i, it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet said, “Do not turn your houses into graves. Verily, Shaytan does not enter the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is recited.” [At-Tirmidhi said, 'Hasan Sahih']
Also, `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, “Shaytan flees from the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is heard.” This Hadith was collected by An-Nasa’i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah, and Al-Hakim recorded it in his Mustadrak, and then said that its chain of narration is authentic, although the Two Sahihs did not collect it. In his Musnad, Ad-Darimi recorded that Ibn Mas`ud said, “Shaytan departs the house where Surat Al-Baqarah is being recited, and as he leaves, he passes gas.” Ad-Darimi also recorded that Ash-Sha`bi said that `Abdullah bin Mas`ud said, “Whoever recites ten Ayat from Surat Al-Baqarah in a night, then Shaytan will not enter his house that night. (These ten Ayat are) four from the beginning, Ayat Al-Kursi (255), the following two Ayat (256-257) and the last three Ayat.” In another narration, Ibn Mas`ud said, “Then Shaytan will not come near him or his family, nor will he be touched by anything that he dislikes. Also, if these Ayat were to be recited over a senile person, they would wake him up.” [Source: Tafseer Ibn Kathir]

4. Last 10 verses of Surah Ale Imraan

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Once I passed the night in the house of Maimuna (his aunt). I slept across the bed while Allah’s Apostle and his wife slept length-wise. The Prophet slept till midnight or nearly so and woke up rubbing his face and recited ten verses from Surat Aal-Imran.” Allah’s Apostle went towards a leather skin and performed ablution in the most perfect way and then stood for the prayer. I did the same and stood beside him. The Prophet put his right hand on my head, twisted my ear and then prayed two Rakat five times and then ended his prayer with Witr. He laid down till the Muadh-dhin came then he stood up and offered two Rakat (Sunna of Fajr prayer) and then went out and offered the Fajr prayer. [Volume 2, Book 16, Number 106]

We'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell us in the comments section below :)

Aug 12, 2011

The Fragrance Of Ramadan

by Seema Muhammad Belushi

So what can revive the stricken heart?
Allah set a month apart.
A time of healing, a time of hope.
A time when everyone can grasp a lifeline boat.
Drifting to Allah's mercy, escaping to the plains of tranquility...wherein lies a night...better than a thousand nights.
Containing beauty and power concealed from sight.
A time to walk through a new door and emerge with vows of "no more"

(Miriam Islam)

Even during the days of my “jahilliyah” (when I knew nothing about Quran or Hadith) Ramadan for me was a very special month for many reasons… It was a time spent together with the whole family…a time of special Ibadah for everyone…for me it’s always been the best time of the year.

There was always a sweet fragrance felt everywhere around which brought with it a feeling of peace, a sentiment which was felt only during Ramadan…I often wondered what was it about Ramadan that made it so special? Was it the fasting long hours? Was it the delicious food? Was it the time spent in and out of the Masjid or was it the recitation of the Qura’n in a beautiful voice of the Imam of the Masjid…? It’s Ramadan! It is a month of fasting, prayer and good deeds and is intended to teach patience, humility and spirituality.

Ramadan, the field of cultivation for the servant has come,
To purify the hearts from corruption and vices.
Therefore, adhere to it’s rights, in word and deed,
And take it as your provision for the final return (Hereafter).
For whoever plants seeds and fails to water them,
Will wail with regret on the day of harvest.

(Taken from Ibn Rajib al-Hanbali’s book: Lataaif al-Ma’arif)

It’s an opportunity given to everyone to reform altogether within (human body, mind and soul) from bad to good and from the good to the best! Is all this possible in just one month? Alhamdullila yes, we have been given the power to change ourselves only if we want to be changed, for this is the month when the doors of heavens are open and the doors of hell are closed. Allah sends down the angels to the earth to help protect and see the good deeds that Allah's subjects are into during the holy month.

Allah says in the Qura’an Chapter 2, Verse 183: "O You who believe Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that ye may learn self restraint".

These days to Allah you must also dedicate
then disbelief and ignorance your will hate
The Quran and Sunnah will be your guide
Only then faith in your heart will reside.

Beginning this Ramadan lets make amends
Study and practice until our life ends
Everything but our deeds we leave behind
this is the truth to which we were blind

Our cars, wealth and house on earth will stay
our actions are the companions on that day
when your breath expires so does hope
so hold on firmly to Allah's rope

There is great wisdom in this rhyme
Its dedicated to me before its my time
for these changes my soul does yearn
this Ramadan in sha Allah its my turn

(Zahid bin Ghulam)

Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said that Allah (subhanu wa Ta'ala) said"All the deeds of man are for himself, except for fasting. Which is for Me. and I shall reward it Myself”. AL BUKHAARI, AL FATH no: 1904

May Allah give us the strength and Patience to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, Accept all our fasts, give us the opportunity to worship in the night of Qadr, and accept all our dua. Help us to continue, with all the good deeds in this month and beyond…AMEEN

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 10, 2011

Ramadan Women Special: Turn off that Stove

By Farheen Naaz

If you're in charge of cooking in your household, and it's usually women around the world who are, then you can feel like most of your Ramadan is spent over a hot stove instead of on a prayer mat.

I was once complaining to a friend of mine about how so many Muslim women seem to miss the blessings of Ramadan because of the overemphasis on great food at Iftar time. While I attributed this to a lack of consideration for the needs of women, my friend shared an interesting story.

She was originally from Egypt, and she recounted how her mother and the women in her neighborhood actually competed with each other in Ramadan over food. In other words, they vied for the title of "maker of the best Ka'k (cookies) this side of Alexandria." And this was despite the fact that male family members and even the Imam were encouraging women to share in the blessings of the month through prayer and mosque participation.

This Ramadan, let's remove our inner and outer obstacles to spiritual success.

At the inner level, let's start by ditching any feelings of guilt, competition or jealousy we may have for other sisters. You know who I'm talking about: the ones who can whip up a five-course Iftar plus dinner faster than you can say "what should I make for supper tonight?"The ones who can hold a full-time job, ferry their kids to extra-curricular activities and still hold grand Iftar parties at their homes.

Now we're ready to do something about the biggest outer obstacle to spiritual success every Ramadan: our families. We love them and yes, their demands for food high in fat, salt and sugar can be indulged once in a while in Ramadan. But doing this every Iftar seems to defeat the purpose of fasting in the first place. Remember, it's about self-control, even after we're allowed to eat.

Here is an eight-step plan to help you gain more time in Ramadan for spiritual success:

  1. Call a family meeting-today. We've got barely a week until Ramadan begins. Choose a day and time when everyone can be present.
  2.  Serve a sample Iftar menu at the meeting (I'll explain why in point 3)
  3. Start off the meeting with the food. Then once everyone is comfortable, explain very kindly that you will only be making this food five times this Ramadan: once a week and once when guests are invited over.
  4. When the news has sunk in, explain further to your family that you would like Ramadan to be a time for becoming closer to Allah. You cannot do this if you have to spend most of your time cooking and cleaning up after everyone. Be firm but polite.
  5. Discuss the Ramadan meal plan. Ask everyone to share what kind of dishes they would like to eat that are healthy.
  6. Once all the ideas are in, establish a cooking and cleaning schedule so that everyone pitches in. Explain that while you will still be doing the main cooking, other family members will have to help either with pre-Iftar arrangements (setting table, calling everyone, etc.) or post-Iftar ones (washing dishes/loading dishwasher, wiping counters, sweeping, etc.).
  7. Enforce the schedule by rewarding children. For younger kids, a chore chart with a sticker for each day of help offered could work, as well as a small toy or gift at the end of every successful two-week period. For older kids, you could promise to spend a whole day with them doing something they enjoy after Ramadan or extend a privilege they have (e.g. access to the car if they drive).
  8.  For husbands, express your appreciation verbally by saying thank you and explaining how the extra help is a real spiritual boost.
If this plan is successfully implemented, you can extend it to the rest of the year, thereby gaining more time to focus on your spiritual needs. But even if you get more time on your prayer mat than over your stove just one month out of the year, the one where our good deeds count for more, it'll be worth the effort.

So go ahead. Turn off that stove and call that meeting!

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 9, 2011

Essential Points To Remember While Reciting Qur'an

To the Mu'min-believer, the Holy Qur'an incomparable.

For him, the words perpetually ringing in his mind - "This is the book (Holy Qur'an) which has no doubt" - injects his soul with inspiration. He is overtaken with the desire to subject his life to the will of Allah Ta'ala by following His commands as elaborated in the Holy Qur'an.

It is always the desire of a Mu'min to recite the Holy Qur'an correctly and in the best manner. In order to fulfil the Haqq (rights) of recitation, important points should be observed.

1. The Holy Qur'an must be read for the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala and for His happiness.

2. The Holy Qur'an must be read with proper pronounciation, knowing and employing the basic rules of Tajweed.

3. Recite as often as possible, at every available time.Rasulullah (sallallaahu Alaihi wasallam) said, 'Oh reciter of the Qur'an! Don't neglect the Qur'an. Fulfill its rights by reciting it day and night. Recite it with a melodious voice and ponder on its contents (to practice) so that you are successful. Don't attempt to look for any (financial) gains in this world because your (great) reward will be in the hereafter.

4. When reciting the Holy Qur'an, one should create an expression of fear and absolute respect to the greatness of the words of Allah Ta'ala, as if to say that the reciter is in the presence of his Creator.

5. Tears should flow from one's eyes while the heart takes effect from the words of Allah, as Allah says, 'The believers are those whose hearts tremor when the name of Allah is mentioned and whose Imaan increases when the Qur'an is recited. (S8 V2) In a narration of Hadhrat Umar (Radhiallahu Anhu), he reported that it was asked to Rasulullah 'Who is the best reciter in regard to (the reciter's) voice? He replied, 'The person whose recitation is such that you can determine that the reciter has the fear of Allah in him'. (Tabrani)

6. One should at all times show respect to the Holy Qur'an and never dishonour it. It is reported from Hadhrat Anas (Radhiallahu Anhu) that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, 'The Holy Qur'an is better than everything (of this world in status). So whoever honours it has honoured Allah Ta'ala and whoever dishonours it has (in reciting) dishonoured the rights of Allah Ta'ala (Riaaya)

We'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell us in the comments section below :)

Aug 5, 2011

Ramadan Parents Special: Loving Him Is Loving Them

By Umm Sulaym

In the deepest parts of me, from the deepest cores within me, gushes the Spring of Your Love.

In the darkest of hours of my life, from the darkest of places of time, I always rise in Your Love.

How can I not love those whom You Created for me and only me to love?

How can I not strive to strengthen my link with You by cherishing those who nurtured me with love?

For loving You is loving them…

And worshipping You is obeying them…

Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah Dearest Sisters,

Ramadan knocks. We hasten to answer the door, to welcome the New Guest warmly. To open the door, to free our ‘hands’, we throw whatever we held. We feel proud of ourselves when we finish the Quraan but we don’t realize that the words of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala just cursed us because we didn’t bother to follow His Commands.We fast, but we lose our patience. We give Sadaqah (charity) to those outside without asking anything in return but we follow up with hurt when giving charity to those right under our roof. We are willing to jump at the command of our Team Lead at work place or when volunteering but when our parents ask us for a favour while we’re on the computer, we just are the slowest of the slowest sloths on this planet. And if some of us don’t feel like it, we conveniently shrug away responsibility by saying,

‘Well, my mum wasn’t there for me when I needed her the most. Why should I care?’

‘My dad didn’t allow us to get married even though he was such a pious brother. He didn’t care about my feelings. How can I ever forgive him?’

‘My parents emotionally abused me and didn’t build self-esteem within me as I was growing up. I don’t feel like being respectful to them.’

We may not verbalize these but these thoughts do creep up inside some people’s minds which prevent them from fulfilling their obligations.Why is it a burden to love those whom Allah asked us to love? Because we’re not loving them for the Sake of Allah subhaana wa ta'aala. Because we only care about what we get and not care about what we give. We forget that we’ll be answerable for what we do and not how people behaved with us.

Abu Bakr bin ‘Ayyash said:
“I used to sit with Mansur (a scholar) in his house and would hear his mother, who was loud and rude, shout at him, ‘O Mansur! Ibn Hubairah (governor of Iraq during that time) appointed you to the post of judge, but you refused. Mansur would not even look her in the eye out of respect for her.’ [Al Birr was-Silah,Ibn al Jauzi,pp.85]

Ramadan is the time in which most of us are trying to do as much of ‘Ibaadah as we can squeeze in our daily schedules. We are extra kind to our Muslim brothers and sisters. We mustn’t forget that while it’s praiseworthy to do all that, it is important to remember that the most deserving of our compassion and care are our parents.No, I’m not going to make you emotional to encourage you to be kind to them. I’m just going to state some scary facts.Trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss what is to come ahead in this article.

Allah subhaana wa ta'aala says in the Quraan:
"And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as] 'uff' [i.e., an expression of irritation or disapproval] and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say: 'My Lord! Have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.'" [Surah Al Israa, 17:23-24]
We read articles upon articles and research and plan to have the best Ramadan ever but do we ever think twice about our relationship with our parents? The irony is that some sisters are usually seen day-dreaming about building their own Islamic households (getting married, having kids etc.) while they can’t even handle and do Ihsaan in the relationship that Allah subhaana wa ta'aalahas already blessed them with.

Why do I make the connection between Ramadan and being dutiful to our parents?

It is stated in Tafseer Ibn Kathir regarding the above verse that:

There are many Hadiths which speak about honoring one's parents, such as the Hadith narrated through a number of chains of narration from Anas and others, which states that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam climbed up on the Minbar, and then said, ‘Amin, Amin, Amin.’ It was said, "O Messenger of Allah, why did you say Amin'' He said: ‘Jibril came to me and said, "O Muhammad, he is doomed who hears you mentioned and does not say Salla upon you.’ He said, ‘Say Amin,’ so I said Amin. Then he said, ‘He is doomed who sees the month of Ramadan come and go, and he has not been forgiven.’ He said, ‘Say Amin,’ so I said Amin. Then he said, ‘He is doomed who grows up and both his parents or one of them are still alive, and they do not cause him to enter Paradise.'’ He said, ‘Say Amin,' so I said Amin.

Want to know why is it important to hasten to be dutiful to parents before doing other voluntary good deeds? Because: if done otherwise, one’s deeds are USELESS!

Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: “Three acts will render one’s deeds useless: (1) associating others with Allah, (2) ‘Uquq towards parents and (3) fleeing from battle.” [At-Tabarani]
A very brief definition of ‘Uquq is being disrespectful,unkind and undutiful. Some types of ‘Uquq include : causing grief and sadness to parents because of a statement/action (making them cry), practicing evil in front of them(haram and immoral acts), disowning/abandoning parents,refraining from maintaining regular contact with them,wishing to ‘break free’ from parents who are strict in disciplining you to do righteousness.

Two Favours we seek from Allah subhaana wa ta'aala in Ramadan which can be multiplied by being dutiful to parents:

1. We all want our duaas to be accepted especially this Ramadan. Want to know about the individual whom Rasulalah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallamstamped as the one whose duaas get accepted?

Asir ibn Jaabir radiallahu `anhu narrated:Whenever people would come from Yemen, `Umar radhiallahu `anhu would ask them, "Is Uways Al-Qarani amongst you?" until, one year, he met Uways.He said, "Are you Uways Al-Qarani?" He said, "Yes."`Umar continued, "From Muraad, then Qaran?" He said, "Yes."`Umar then asked, "Were you once afflicted with leprosy and your skin healed except for a dirham’s area?" Uways said, "Yes."`Umar finally asked, "Do you have a mother (that is alive)?" He said, "Yes."`Umar then said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah – sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam– say, ‘Uways ibn Aamir will come to you with the delegations from Yemen, from Muraad, then from Qaran. He was once afflicted with leprosy and his skin healed except for a dirham’s area. He has a mother, and he treats her kindly. If he was to ever swear by Allah (for something) Allah would fulfill his oath. If you can, request that he ask forgiveness for you."`Umar then requested from Uways, "Ask forgiveness for me." And Uways Al-Qarani did. [Sahih Muslim]
Note that Uways al Qarani had the chance to leave his mother and go meet Rasulalah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam but he didn’t. What could be more important than meeting the beloved Prophetsal Allahu alayhi wa sallam? Yet, he stayed with his mother! SubhanAllah!

2. We seek Paradise in honoring people’s rights by protesting and standing up for justice. How about if we honor the rights of people within our homes?

The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallamregarded that as the best of deeds after prayer, and the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam heard the recitation of Haarithah ibn al-Nu’maan in Paradise and said: “He attained this level (in Paradise) because of honouring his mother.” Narrated by Ibn Wahb in al-Jaami’ (22); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (913).

Things to do this Ramadan to improve your relationship with parents:

By default: you’re supposed to fulfill all their needs and requirements except that which is against our religion. Ask them to forgive you especially this Ramadan. If they’re angry/upset, don’t leave until you seek their forgiveness, repent and make them laugh. Don’t do what makes them upset such as travelling when they don’t want you to and so on.Do hidden good deeds on their behalf such as distributing Islamic literature.There are several ahadith to support this so please do your research!

If you live with them:

  • Prepare a nice Suhoor for them and serve them in their room.
  • Put ‘Itr (perfume) on your father when he goes for Tarawih and our mother when she prays at home.
  • Ask them to teach you something Islamic to you even if you’re an Islamic scholar. This will make them feel important. Or ask them something you think they’ll know about Islam even if you know the answer to it, just on purpose. And listen to their response as if you’ve never heard the answer to it before. They’ll feel that honored that you listened to them attentively and feel that you respect their knowledge despite not being a young child anymore.
  • Give them shoulder and feet massage especially after Tarawih. Put lotion/cream on their feet to make them feel that you’re willing to humble yourself to show your concern.
  • Iron their clothes and organize their working space without them knowing (of course don’t breach the privacy rights).
  • Allot a certain time of the day to talk to them about things they want to talk about. This will show that you are interested in their lives.
  • Give them random hugs and don’t hesitate to have a heart-to-heart talk with them (politely of course).

If you do not live with them:
  • Send a Ramadan card/e-card filled with duaas for them and thanking them for all the times they helped you have a nice Ramadan when you were a child. Remind them about all the good things they did for you and assure them that you haven’t forgotten those tiny things.
  • Send flowers to them wishing them a great Ramadan to them or give a surprise visit with Iftaar ready.
  • Call them as often as you can and lend them an empathetic ear. Don’t hurt their honor by pitying them.
  • Honor their close friends and their extended family members by calling them up. This will increase respect of your parents in the sight of those people and will increase love between your parents and them.
  • If you have children, make them love their grandparents. Ask them to make different crafts and send it via mail to their grandparents.
  • If you have non-Muslim parents, you can do Dawah to them by being extra kind to them and telling them that Islam promotes kindness to parents regardless of their religion

If they’ve passed away:
  • Make duaa for them (you must make duaa for them even if they haven’t passed away)
  • Amir bin Abdullah bin Az-Zubair said: “For a year after my father died, all what I did was invoke Allah to forgive him.” [Birr-ul-Walidain, Ibn al Jauzi, pp.78]
  • Fulfill their oaths and promises(their will etc.)
  • Do Hajj on their behalf.
  • Start a perpetual charity on their behalf, such as digging up a well, building a Masjid, an Islamic Centre, an Islamic library, an Islamic hospital, an orphanage, etc.
  • Be generous to their friends, send them gifts and call them for Iftaar.
  • Teach your children and other people’s children to be respectful to parents.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do all this for His Sake without asking anything in return and mentally preparing yourself that the path of righteousness always comes with its set of emotional trials to that the truthful and sincere ones are sieved from the liars and hypocrites.

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested? (2) And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allâh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allâh knows all that before putting them to test). (3) [Surah Al Ankaboot]

Rabbir-Ham-humaa Kamaa Rabba-yaani sag-heera [Surah Al Israa, 17:24]
Let’s strengthen our relationship with our parents so that all our good deeds are accepted in Ramadan inshaa’Allah!

And Allah subhaana wa ta'aalaknows best.

-Umm Sulaym

P.S. To read more about Kindness to Parents, please refer to this wonderful e-book.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)

Aug 3, 2011

Ramadan Special: 19 Causes Of Forgiveness For Sins

"That is the grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty." [57:21]

1. Perfecting one’s ablution

“No worshipper perfects his ablution except that his past and future sins are forgiven.” [Hasan, al-Bazzaar. Al-Haythami and al-Mundhiri agreed.]

2. Fasting the month of Ramadan with belief and seeking Allah’s reward

"Whoever fasts Ramadhan out of Iman and seeking Allah’s reward then his past and future sins are forgiven." [Hasan, Ahmad. Declared Hasan by adh-Dhahabi, as mentioned in al-Mughni (5876).]

3. Performing the night prayer in Ramadan with belief and seeking Allah’s reward

"Whoever stands (in prayer) in Ramadan out of Iman and seeking Allah’s reward then his past and future sins are forgiven." [Saheeh. an-Nasaa’i.]

4. Performing the night prayer on the Night of Qadar with belief and seeking Allah’s reward

"It (Laylatul-Qadr) is in Ramadan, and expect it in the last ten days; it is on an odd night: on the 21st, or the 23rd, or the 25th, or the 27th, or the 29th, or on the last night (of Ramadan). He who performs the night prayer on it out of belief and seeking Allah's reward his past and future sins are forgiven." [Narrated by Ahmad. There is a difference of opinion among scholars regarding this hadeeth, some declaring it weak and some Hasan. Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajr said in Al-Fath (4/116), "This addition – meaning, 'and future (sins)' – is also in `Ubadah bin as-Samit's Hadeeth, in (the Musnad of) Ahmad, in two narrations. Its chain is Hasan and it is supported by the previous chain."]

5. Praising and thanking Allah after eating and putting one’s clothes on.

“Whoever ate a food and then said, ‘Praise be to Allah who has fed me this food and provided it for me, without any strength or power on my part’, is forgiven his past [and future*] sins. And whoever wears a garment and says, ‘Praise be to Allah who has clothed me with this (garment) and provided it for me, without any strength or power on my part’, is forgiven his past and future sins.” [Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasa’i, al-Bukhari in al-Kabeer, al-Hakim, ibn Sunni and Ahmad. The addition marked by (*) is related by Abu Dawud. Shaykh Al-Albani declared the hadeeth Hasan in Saheeh al-Jaami` (6086) and in al-Irwaa’ (1989). He said in al-Irwaa’, “Such a hadeeth causes hesitation between making it Hasan (good) and Da`eef (weak). Maybe the first one is closer to be the truth, because those who made it weak didn’t explain it and didn’t explain the reason for its weakness. Allah knows best.”]

6. Getting old in Islam

“No one reaches forty years in Islam except that Allah protects him from madness, leprosy and leucoderma. When he is fifty, Allah makes easy his reckoning. When he reaches sixty, Allah grants him repentance. And when he reaches seventy, Allah loves him and the inhabitants of the heavens love him. And when he reaches eighty, Allah accepts his good deeds and overlooks his sins. When he reaches ninety, Allah forgives his past and future sins, he is named ‘the prisoner of Allah on earth’ and is granted intercession (for forgiveness) for his family.” [Hasan, Ibn `Asakir. Ahmad Shakir said in his notes to Al-Musnad (8/23,25): “Its chain is at least Hasan. It is supported with other chains which raise it to the level of Saheeh.”]

7. Leaving the following: performing ruqya (curing with Qur’an), seeking having ruqya performed on one, cauterization, believing in bad omens.

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas, radhiallahu `anhu: Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, “…I was told: ‘These are your people and amongst them there are seventy thousand who shall enter Paradise without being taken to either account or torment.’ …'They are those who do not make Ruqya nor seek it, nor believe in bad omens, but trust in their Lord (Allah).'” [Bukhari and Muslim]

8. Whose two or three children die and he remains patient

“Whoever buries three children, Allah will forbid the Fire for him.” [Saheeh, Tabarani in al-Kabeer, Al-Albani authenticated it in Saheeh Al-Jaami` (6238)]

“There are no two Muslim parents whose three children die before reaching puberty except that Allah will enter them into Paradise due to His mercy to the children. It will be said to them, “Enter the Paradise”, so they will say, “Not until our parents enter first”. It will be said, “Enter the Paradise you and your parents.”[Ahmad, an-Nasaa’i, and Al-Albani authenticated it in Saheeh al-Jaami` (5780)]

“’Whoever iHtasaba (remains content and patient after the death of) three of his offspring will enter Jannah.’ A woman said, ‘What about two?’ He said, ‘And two’”. [Saheeh, an-Nasaa’i, Ibn Hibban, authenticated by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami` (5969)]

“To no woman three children die and she remains patient and content, except that she will enter Jannah. Or two (children).” [Muslim]

9. Who raises three daughters or sisters and is nice to them

“There is no one from my Ummah who takes care of three daughters or three sisters, and is nice to them, except that they will be a veil (protection) for him from the Fire.” [Saheeh, al-Bayhaqi and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab, authenticated by Al-Albani in Saheeh Al-Jaami` (5372)

 10. Defending the honor of a Muslim

“Whoever defends the honor of his brother in absence has the right over Allah to be freed from the Fire.”[Saheeh, Ahmad, al-Tabarani. Authenticated by Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami` (6240)]. Al-Manaawi commented, “’Whoever’ is limited to other than the disbeliever and public wrongdoer.” [Fayd al-Qadeer 6:136]

11. Sincerity to Allah

No servant who says ‘la ilaha ill Allah’, seeking the pleasure of Allah, will reach the Day of Judgment, except that Allah will forbid the Fire for him. [Ahmad, al-Bukhari] Hafidh Ibn Hajr said, “It’s not like that (i.e. not entering the Fire at all) for everyone who believed in tawheed and worshipped, but it is specific for the sincere, and sincerity (ikhlas) requires the realization of its meaning by the heart. One cannot imagine that the heart will reach that while persisting upon sins, as the heart would be filled with the love and fear of Allah, whereupon limbs will embark upon obedience and leave disobedience.”

12. Crying out of fear of Allah

“No man who cried out of fear of Allah will enter the Fire until the milk returns to the udder, and dust in the path of Allah (jihad) and the smoke of the Fire cannot go together.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nasaa’i and Hakim who authenticated it. Authenticated by Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami` (7778)]

13. Performing the prayer in congregation for forty days while reaching the opening takbeer

“Whoever prays to Allah for four days in congregation, reaching the opening takbeer, will have two written for him: freedom from the Fire and freedom from hypocrisy.” [Hasan. at-Tirmidhi, declared Hasan by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami` (6365)]

14. Being consistent in praying four rak`ats before Dhuhr and after it

“Whoever is consistent in praying four units of prayer before Dhuhr and four after it, Fire will be forbidden for him.” [Saheeh. Abu Dawood, An-Nasaa’i, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, al-Hakim who authenticated it. Al-Albani authenticated it in Saheeh al-Jaami` (6195)]

15. Being consistent in praying before sunrise and before sunset.

“No one will enter Fire who prays before sunrise and after sunset.”[Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud, an-Nasaa’i] Meaning, Fajr and `Asr prayers.

16. Dust of Jihad

“The dust of Jihad and the smoke of the Fire will never coexist within a servant, and greed and Iman will never coexist in the heart of a servant.” [Saheeh. An-Nasaa’i and al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak. Authenticated by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jaami` (7616)]

17. Good character

“Whoever is easy-going, easy to deal with and kindhearted, Allah will forbid the Fire for him.” [Saheeh. Al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, al-Bayhaqi, at-Tabarani. Al-Albani authenticated it in Saheeh al-Jaami` (6484)]

18. Freeing slaves

“Whoever frees a believing slave it will be his salvation from the Fire.” [Saheeh. Ahmad, Abu Dawud, an-Nasaa’i. Authenticated by al-Albani (6050)]

19. Salat ut-Tasbeeh (Tasbeeh Prayer)

There is an unusual difference of opinion about this one. Scholars have greatly differed about the authenticity of the relevant narrations, with their rulings ranging from fabricated to authentic. In a narration, Al-Mustamir ar-Rayan relates, “Whoever prays it will be forgiven his past and future sins, what he did secretly and what he did openly.”[Mentioned by Ibn Hajar in Ma`rifat al-Khisal al-Mukaffirah, p. 48, who said it was Hasan due to supporting narrations. Allah knows best.]

Dr. As-Sayyid bin Husayn al-`Affani
From "Al-Bihaar az-Zaakhirah fee Asbaab al-Maghfirah"