Top Five Ways to Prepare for Laylat-ul-Qadr

laylat ul-qadr

The Night of Power and Destiny – Laylat-ul-Qadr – is almost here. We all know that worship done in this night is better than that done in a thousand months! Can we think of any other night or day in our lives that could be more special than this one night? Yet, it is our birthdays and anniversaries, the hyped up mother’s and father’s days that take up all our attention and tireless planning! And here is Laylat-ul-Qadr, the perfection of all nights, and what is it that we do?

The righteous predecessors would prepare for the last nights of Ramadan and for Laylat-ul-Qadr. Here are the top five things we can also do in order to prepare for the Night of Destiny:

1. Clean up – on the outside

Take a Ghusl and make sure you are completely clean. According to Ibn Jareer, the righteous predecessors “used to prefer Ghusl every night of the last ten nights, and an-Nakha’i used to make Ghusl every night of the last ten nights. Some of them would make Ghusl and get perfumed on the nights when it was most hoped to be Laylat-ul-Qadr.”

2. Put on your best perfume

Perfume yourself! It is time to meet the Lord and the King of the Worlds in prayer – nothing should stop you from looking and smelling your best. Some of the righteous predecessors would even perfume the Masajid on the nights they hoped would be Laylat-ul-Qadr. We can even do this in our homes. (A note of caution for the ladies: If you are planning to go out to the Masjid or a congregation for Taraweeh, then do not perfume yourself. However, there is no reason you can’t look your best, while avoiding anything Haram.)

3. Take out your best dress

Tamim ad-Dari (rta) had a garment he had bought for 1000 dirhams, which he would only wear on the night which he hoped would be the Laylat-ul-Qadr. We don’t need to spend beyond our means to buy expensive clothes for this night, but if you have a dress you’ve been saving for a special occasion or a dress that you absolutely love, this is the night to wear it! Who has more right to your beauty than the very Creator, Who gave you this perfect form?

4. Clean up – on the inside too

Aisha (rta) asked the Prophet (sa): “O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?” He replied: “Say: ‘O Allah, You are the One, Who pardons greatly and loves to pardon, so pardon me.’” (Ahmad, Ibn-Majah and At-Tirmidhi)

It’s time not only to be our cleanest and best on the outside, but also on the inside! Ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness for all your wrongdoings – intentional or unintentional. Let go of all your grudges! Forgive those who have hurt you, and hope for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness in return!

5. Make the best of this blessed opportunity

It sounds almost unbelievable that one night could be equal to one thousand months! But this is Allah (swt), our Lord, promising us! He is giving us an unparalleled gift on this special night, and we should make the best of it. Spend this night in Qiyam (standing in prayer) and beg Him for forgiveness. Make a list of what you want in this world and the next and ask Him for everything this night.

Remember, Laylat-ul-Qadr is THE event of the year! Don’t miss it!

Your Circle of Influence

circle

“O God! Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

How many of us find ourselves frustrated and ready to bang our heads against the wall? Pro-activity is all about taking responsibility and the initiative to focus on things in our lives about which we can do something. Perhaps, they can be better understood through a well-acclaimed research about the ‘circle of influence’ and the ‘circle of concern.’

The circle of concern is the larger circle that encompasses everything that affects your life. The circle of influence is the smaller circle within the circle of concern that includes the things about which you can actually do something.

While reacting, we tend to focus on our circle of concern, which overshadows our circle of influence. The nature of the energy in the circle of concern is negative. When this is combined with neglect of the influence circle, the space of our influence becomes smaller. Thus, you give up the power to change many things that you could have otherwise.

Pro-active people tend to focus more on their circle of influence, so their reactive space is bigger.

A lady in her seventies once shared that she was brought up like a princess. She was pampered and cared for to every extent possible. She was a beautiful young maiden, who read romantic novels and had a bright and sunny disposition. Then, she was married into a family, whose habits were just opposite of what she had been brought up with. From morning till noon, she was expected to cook, clean and housekeep for a large family. Her husband was away at work for most of the time. Even when he was home, he hardly stood up for her. She seldom visited her parents. Her mother-in-law was extremely rigid and bossed her around. Her whole life seemed to be out of her control and dominated by others. She felt caged because she couldn’t make even a single decision for herself.

Then, she realised that it was a dead end, and she could do nothing to reduce her circle of concern. Turning bitter would not make her life better in any way.

Time went by and the woman endured all pain with great forbearance. When it was her time to become a mother-in-law, she had two choices: either to drag her children through the same difficult path she had walked or take an entirely different road to create new possibilities. The woman chose to do the latter. Instead of depriving her daughters-in-law from the opportunities and happiness she had missed out in her own life, she worked in her influence to help them create more loving homes based on respect and freedom of choice. One person’s decision to pro-actively change the status quo touched the lives of generations to come. Even though it took decades to achieve, it changed the lives of many after her.

How can you tell in which circle you are?

The best way to tell whether you are in your circle of concern or in your circle of influence is to listen to your own language. Hear yourself out:

· Circle of Concern

Your language will be accusing and over-reactive:

  1. “I can’t believe the way these kids are behaving! They are driving me crazy!”
  2.  “My spouse is so inconsiderate!”
  3. “Why can’t my mother-in-law just leave us alone and settle on the moon?”

· Circle of Influence

Your language will be pro-active and confident about the things you can improve or change:

  1. “I can help create rules in my family that will enable the children to learn about the consequences of their behaviour. I can look for opportunities to teach and reinforce positive behaviour.”
  2. “I can begin to be considerate. I can model the kind of loving interaction I would like to see in my marriage.”
  3. “I can learn more about my mother-in-law and the causes of her behaviour. I can seek to understand her and to forgive her. I can decide to ensure that this behaviour does not become part of my interactions with my married children in future.”

Your own level of pro-activity/reactivity

In order to get a deeper insight into your own level of pro-activity or reactivity, you might like to try the following experiment. You may ask your spouse or a friend to become your partner and help you give feedback:

  1. Identify a particular problem in your family.
  2. Describe it to your partner in reactive terms. Work hard and focus on your circle of concern. Try to convince your partner that the problem under discussion is absolutely not your fault.
  3. Now describe the same problem to your partner in a pro-active way. Focus on your response in the circle of influence. Convince your partner that you can make a real difference in this situation.
  4. Now consider the difference in the two descriptions. Which one resembles your normal pattern of behaviour when marital issues or family problems arise?

If you discover more reactive tendencies through the language you use, you can be more responsible about it. Notice the word ‘response-able.’ It means the ability to choose your own response. That is the essence of pro-activity. Learning and using pro-active words and phrases works wonders. When you consistently hear yourself using responsible language, you take yourself more seriously, too. You begin to believe in your own hidden potential. When others witness you modelling pro-activity, they also try to work in their circle of influence.

At the end of the day, it is all about knowing oneself in order to deal best with others. Remember, the change begins with us not with the others. It also begins by working in the circle of influence and learning to leave the circle of concern alone, and saying ‘Qadr’Allah’ (Whatever Allah swt wills). Great marriages are not a case of accidents. They are achievements one has to strive for, sometimes even for years.

Learning to let go

let go

Controlling comes to many parents naturally and quite spontaneously, regardless of the age of the child. It is literally on ‘auto’ mode. And it is obviously meant to be in the best interest of the children.

When your children fall, you run to help them get up. When they don’t do well in exams, you step in to take over the reins. You dictate or influence their career choices. You pick the perfect spouse for them. And even after they are married and have had children of their own, you tell them they are inexperienced and immature, and you continue to make decisions for them.

However, the real problem occurs when your child’s spouse, who probably isn’t used to being dictated, experiences suffocation of independence. He/she becomes frustrated and in most cases vents out this anger on your child. This complicates relationships not only between your son/daughter and their better halves but also between you and them. Eventually, in most cases, a mandatory distance is assumed, either by moving out of joint family set-ups or, in some extreme cases, even travelling to a far away country.

Sadly, well-meaning parents often do not realize the actual reason behind the bitter turn of relationship between them and their married offspring, which could be avoided by a sensible role adjustment on their part. As parents, you can assume the role of a guide and mentor when your children have become adults, as compared to your initial role of a decision-maker when your kids are young and dependent. Here, I would like to share my positive experience with my mother-in-law.

Why do I love my mum-in-law?

Yes, I am sane to state that. No, we are not related. Yes, I have also lived with and without her in the same family unit. But still, after my own mum (which is only natural), I love and admire my mum-in-law the most. And I would like to share with you some remarkable traits she has demonstrated with her four married sons and two married daughters that I have witnessed in fourteen years.

  1. I’ll call you if you are busy/lazy

Being the youngest in my family, I was often careless about establishing family protocol. Hence, when my husband and I got married and started living in our dream home by ourselves, it was quite often very easy to completely forget the world outside this dream. My husband would obviously call up his mum daily and even go to meet her often. But with a full time job, I would wiggle out of the situation and stay at home after work. In all such incidents, my mum-in-law initiated to call me up, just to find out how I was doing, without ever complaining. That embarrassed me so much that gradually I tried to build time to call and meet her up, realizing that it was the only decent thing to do on my part.

  1. I’ll wait and watch if you need my advice

Whenever there was a rift among her offspring and their spouses, I noticed that my mum-in-law didn’t just land from the sky like a paratrooper with custom-made advice for them to follow. She silently waited and watched, allowing petty issues to be resolved by themselves. Only when things started to get out of control or the children sought her advice, did she step in to counsel each party gently without ever taking sides. This, in my sight, is one of the noblest qualities my mum-in-law possesses, for which she is appreciated by all.

  1. I’ll pro-actively care for you

She cared for each soul like no one else ever did. Who would let her daughter-in-law sleep in because she is pregnant and unwell? Who would cook her daughter-in-law’s favourite meals to cheer her up in her baby blues after the delivery? Well, she is an exception by all means.

  1. I’ll let the romance bloom

When I hear horror tales of malice and envy between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law, I am stumped. The only experience I had was to see my mum-in-law instructing her sons to take their tired wives for an outing after a hard day’s work. Or, cracking funny jokes with them as a couple, which lifted the mood in the house immediately. I could tell that she was a romantic at heart and loved to see it thrive between her married kids and their spouses.

  1. I’ll be heard because I have heard you

Only because she treated everyone so kindly, everyone wanted to hear her out when she spoke. The family members, old or young, had absolute trust in her. They realized that she would never exploit or betray. So when my mum-in-law lost her temper, no one dared to speak up. In fact, almost everyone agreed with her willingly each time. They didn’t find their independence being challenged. They knew that they had been given a fair chance to think and work as an adult. But the matter required a deeper insight, so mum-in-law was there to help resolve it.

  1. I’ll not tolerate any misgivings in the family

If there was one thing my mum-in-law had no patience for, it was backbiting. She simply hated it, when one of her daughters-in-law wanted to tell on another. She highly discouraged this habit.

  1. Decide for yourself

Whether it was deciding the menu for dinner, décor preferences, name of the very first child, which school to send the children, or planning a family vacation, my mum-in-law granted full freedom to her married children and their spouses to decide on their own. She never felt the least bit insecure, if she wasn’t consulted or simply informed of any decision made by one of her married child’s nuclear family.

Lastly, it’s not that her humble and loving nature always brought her happiness. In spite of being such an accommodating individual, sometimes she has had to face hardships at the hands of her kids. She is an exemplary human being and gives so much love and independence to her kids; hence, she receives a great share of it back. Every son and daughter-in-law welcomes her to come and stay with them. She is not a burden but a wonderful and pleasant company to be with. She is showered with respect and love by all. As a token of our love, we always happily buy generous presents for her.

May Allah (swt) help us appreciate her more, for she is truly the binding force of the family maintaining much peace and tranquility. May Allah (swt) also help us reap rewards by serving her well and earning Jannah eventually, Ameen. I know one day I would aspire to be a mum-in-law just like her – loving unconditionally.