Ramadan – A Time to Improve and Sustain Yourself

RamadanAbdul Azeez Qari invites all Muslims to make the most of the blessings of Ramadan

The Prophet (sa) used to give glad tidings to his companions, upon the arrival of this month. Allah made it a time of action, when believers should strive for four things: fasting, Quran, worship, and righteous deeds. These are the most obvious gifts of Ramadan.

Why does evil diminish in Ramadan?

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Heaven (in another narration – the gates of Paradise) are opened, the gates of the Hellfire are sealed, and the Shayateen (devils) are chained” (Bukhari and Muslim)

He (sa) also said: “On the first night of Ramadan, the Shayateen and the leaders of the Jinn are chained.” (Ibn Majah)

This means that during Ramadan, their ability to tempt people diminishes. Evil and disobedience decrease, because, although the causes of disobedience are many, the greatest factor of all is the whispers of Satan. However, narrations prove that during this month only the leaders of the Shayateen are chained. This is why the evil does not come to a complete halt.

There also are many other sources for evil, one of them being the human soul, which is naturally inclined towards evil. Human devils are another reason for immorality in addition to man’s own lusts and desires. Yet another reason is that the remaining devils, which do not get chained, continue to misguide people. Nevertheless, all of these sources of evil have a lesser effect on the fasting people, because fasting bestows upon them a certain blessing.

What are the mercies of Allah during Ramadan?

Allah ordained fasting during this month, whereby people refrain from food, drink, and conjugal relations from dawn until sunset. When the sun sets, a fasting person can eat, drink, and have marital relations. The nations that came before us were not allowed to touch their spouses even at night. Likewise, if a person from them fell asleep before he had the chance to eat or drink, he was restricted from food and drink until the end of the next day.

However, Allah has made it easy for this nation. He says: “…Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and (wants) for you to complete the period and to magnify Allah for that (to) which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

One of such signs of ease is that an ill person and a traveller can break their fasts and make them up at a later time after Ramadan. Also, the elderly who cannot bear fasting, as well as the people, who have no hope for a cure (i.e., the chronically ill), instead of fasting, can feed the needy – they do not have to make up their missed fasts. In these mentioned cases, the believers should make use of the permission Allah has furnished for them, because He likes, when people take heed of the mercy He has endowed.

O, Muslims! Know that fasting is a protection from wrongdoing. This month is an opportunity for you to purify yourselves. During Ramadan, a Muslim has fewer burdens, as his desires are diminished and he acquires more goodness from being involved in fasting. One can rid himself of bad habits, such as overdoing matters, which are lawful – overeating, talking too much, and being over indulgent in sexual relations with ones spouse. We must stop the awful habit of going to extremes in fulfilling these desires.

What about hypocrites during Ramadan?

Some people fail to understand the reality of fasting. They spend their mornings hungry, while their evenings are full of sin. They spend the whole night watching television with their families, eating all night long to make up for the food they have missed while fasting. Therefore, fasting means no more to such people, but a change in the times of eating.

A Hadeeth states: “A man by the name of Abu Ghazwan came to visit the Prophet (sa). This was before Abu Ghazwan had become Muslim. The Prophet (sa) was the most generous of all people. He milked seven sheep for him, so the man drank all of the milk. Then the Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Is it not time for you to become a Muslim?’ He replied, ‘Yes’ and became a Muslim. The Prophet (sa) then stroked his chest (while supplicating for him). The next day, the Prophet (sa) milked only one sheep for him, but Abu Ghazwan, was not able to drink all of the milk. So, the Prophet (sa) asked: ‘What is the matter, Abu Ghazwan?’ He, responded: ‘I swear by the One Who sent you as a Prophet, I have had enough.’ So the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Last night you had seven stomachs, while you were a disbeliever, and today you have only one stomach’ (At-Tabarani)

A believer can eat less and control his desires more, since he does not eat to enjoy nor to fulfil a desire, but rather to stop hunger and become stronger, so that he can worship Allah. The disbeliever, however, who does not believe in the Day-to-come, eats with a strong desire and the lust of animals, as Allah describes him in the Qur’an, saying that which means:

“…But those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as grazing livestock eat, and the Fire will be a residence for them.” (Muhammad 47:12)

What about the marketing strategy for MORE?

One type of cooked food is enough; let us not be like the Children of Israel, who would not settle for only one kind of food. O, people, who observe fasting! When you put these different types of foods on the table in front of you, before you begin to eat, remember that the Prophet (sa) would remain without lighting a fire in his house (i.e., without cooking) for one or even two months: “He and his family only ate dates and drank water” (Bukhari)

This was not because he could not have obtained it. It was merely because he stayed away from worldly pleasures, living a simple life and aiming to draw ever closer to Allah. Even though Allah offered him control of the treasures of the earth, the Prophet (sa) chose to live in poor conditions, eating as a slave eats, sitting as a slave sits. He used to say: “O Allah! Let me live as a Miskeen (humble servant) and resurrect me with the Masakeen (humble)” (Tirmidhi & Baihaqi)

How does Allah reward fasting?

Allah says as reported in a Hadeeth Qudsi: “He left eating and drinking and his desires for My sake. Fasting is for Me and I give reward for it – one blessing (for fasting) is multiplied ten times.” (Bukhari)

Ready to Tie the Knot?

ready to tie

The bright lights of the wedding hall are pouring down on guests fitted in their choicest attire. The bride and groom attend the wedding reception resplendent in their meticulously prepared finery.

Yet, sadly, not many young Muslims, coming to the wedding hall for finalizing the most important decision of their lives, are fully aware of what an Islamic marriage actually entails. “Most couples spend more time preparing for the wedding, than they do preparing for the marriage.” The future husbands and wives-to-be go through numerous cultural rituals, yet only a few of them are ready for forming a strong, Islamically based family unit.

There are several matters young Muslims should consider, while getting ready for the life changing decision to ‘tie the knot’. Firstly, special care should be taken in selecting a good future life partner – one that would become your companion in paving your way to Jannah. Secondly, it is highly advisable that the young people go through some sort of Islamic premarital counseling that not only would provide them with knowledge regarding their Shariah rights and responsibilities, but also prepare them emotionally and mentally for building a successful Muslim family.

Finding the right man

It might be next to impossible to find a perfect man for marriage; however, it is within your reach to take some precautionary measures, which would assure that you do not end up in a disaster. Where to get started? Mona White suggests, “Nothing, absolutely NOTHING (including that BMW and indoor swimming pool) compares with the man’s religion and character.”

“If a man, whose practice of the religion satisfies you, asks you for your daughter in marriage, you should marry them; otherwise, there will be corruption on the earth.” (At-Tirmidhi).

There must be a reason, why such a great importance is placed on the Deen of man. Allah’s perfect order ensures that a God fearing husband would take good care of his wife and children and would not harm or dishonor them in any way. Ibn Uthaymeen says: “The most important thing is that the one proposing marriage should be good in the Deen and in his character – since regarding one possessing Deen and good character, she will not lose out in any respect: if he keeps her, then he will do so in a good manner and if he releases her, he will do so in a good manner.”

M. White draws up a checklist, which will guide you through the selection process:

(1) Correct Aqeedah: Believing in all those principles that Allah has commanded us to believe and keeping away from Shirk and innovations.

(2) Understanding and application of the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah: According to M. White, “a person who does not understand the authority of Sunnah in his religion has no understanding of his religion at all.” The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “I have left among you two matters that if you adhere to them, you will never be misguided: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” (Baihaqi)

(3) Character and habits: For this, you will have to do some research through the relatives and friends of the concerned man. Inquire, whether he prays in congregation, is generous in giving for the sake of Allah, has a beard, is a contributing member of the society, etc. Do not leave any question pending. The more you will ask the better understanding you will have about the prospective husband-to-be.

Searching for the ideal wife

The Prophet (sa) has said: “When a man marries, he indeed perfects half of his religion. Then, he should fear Allah for the remaining half.” (Bukhari)

This Hadeeth suggests that a Muslim man should be especially careful in choosing his wife, because his marriage will affect not only the soundness and happiness of his future family but also the status of his own religion. According to another Hadeeth, “A woman may be married for four reasons: for her wealth (or property), her lineage (or family status) her beauty, and her religion; so try to marry the one who is religious, may your hands be rubbed with dust [i.e., may you prosper].” (Bukhari)

Thus, in the case of the ideal wife, priority should be given to her Deen. According to Umm Rashid, “A Muslim man could not ask for anything better than to have a religious wife to be by his side and to teach his children.”

Further, Umm Rashid discusses the traits a prospective wife should have:

(1) Correct Aqeedah is once again on the top of the list.

(2) Good character: Shaykh al-Uthaymeen describes some qualities of a good character: Wishing the Muslims well, being content, having a cheerful countenance, speaking well, being generous, being courageous and dealing with others in an open and sincere manner.

(3) Proper Hijab: It gives to Muslim women their due respect and serves as a protection, ensuring that they would not be harassed. Allah says in the Quran: “Enjoin the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty; not to display their beauty and ornaments except what normally appears thereof; let them draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their charms…” (An-Nur 24:31).

(4) Good reputation: According to Umm Rashid, “Whether a woman is a virgin or one previously married, she should be chaste.” Allah says in the Quran: “… pure women are for pure men, and pure men are for pure women…” (An-Nur 24:26).

Islamic Premarital Counseling

Another matter to consider, while preparing for marriage, is Islamic premarital counseling. What is it and what are its benefits? “In professional terms, Islamic counseling would be a confluence of counseling and psychotherapy with the central tenets of Islam. The idea behind Islamic counseling is to borrow the positive aspects of the Western psychotherapy and counseling, integrate them with the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah, and thus form a unique type of counseling that would be specifically beneficial for Muslims.

“Marriage counseling has three main areas including pre marriage, post marriage, and family counseling during marriage. Premarital counseling is a preventive measure to help people understand marital relationships, the responsibility that comes with it, and their expectations of one another.”

Premarital counseling is done in two ways:

(1) Premarital education: Lectures for single men and women that are open for anyone interested to learn and do not involve any formal responsibilities.

(2) Premarital counseling: A more private option that deals with the case-specific queries and concerns of a couple seeking marriage.

Premarital counseling can address a wide variety of topics, including the significance of marriage; communication between husband and wife; abuse within the family; styles of parenting, financial planning, relations with the extended family, decision-making; and conflict resolution between the spouses.

Creating awareness of these topics before marriage can become an effective preventive measure for avoiding unnecessary marital complications.

The Newlywed Game

Dos Don’ts
1, Be creative and have fun exploring what makes you and your spouse unique. If your likes and dislikes differ, there is nothing wrong about it. 1, Get real. Do not hold grand expectations of the Hollywood-style all-too-perfect, but non-existent marriage.
2, When looking for faults, look in the mirror. Learn to admit mistakes, focus on self-improvement rather than critical analysis of each other. 2, Do not fall a victim of ‘ADD’ (Attention Deficit Disillusionment). When you two don’t share the same ideas for spending leisure time, allow space to do your own things separately.
3, Be flexible and never lose your sense of humour. If you start taking every little thing seriously, life will become like a pressure cooker. 3, After a conflict do not carry your anger around waiting forever for your spouse to apologize. If the deserved apology comes – great! If it doesn’t, let go and have faith that Allah must have planned something better for you.
4, Be forgiving and kind. Instead of picking the worse in each other, focus on the positive and appreciate it. 4, Never try to change each other to please others. What may be good for your friends may not be ideal for you and your spouse. Change for the better should only be for Allah and then for each other.
5, Be prepared to sacrifice. Selfish and self-centered people can never make any relationship work. 5, To have a successful marriage one person cannot always be the taker or the giver. The street cannot be one-way.
6, Whenever you feel like gossiping about your spouse, pour it all out before Allah. He will know and understand much better than your friends, or relatives ever will. 6, When you are least expecting something good and it happens, the feeling is unimaginable. If you always expect a royal treatment, you will end up hurt and frustrated.


Ibn Battuta

Rym Aoudia, brings to us the life of the brave Muslim traveler, who visited of what corresponds to 44 countries in our times

“(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (Him), who praise (Him), who go out (or travel, in Allah’s cause)…” (At-Taubah 9:112)

Islam insists on the importance of learning and contemplating about Allah’s creation. For Ibn Battuta, traveling was an experience that allowed him to do so. It was an opportunity to gain knowledge, observe nature, and understand different societies. As he traveled vast lands and crossed seas, Ibn Battuta became the greatest traveler of the 14th century and is regarded as an equivalent to Marco Polo. With approximately 75,000 miles traveled, he far exceeded Marco Polo in the distance journeyed.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, also known as Shams ad-Din, was born into a rich family in Tangier Morocco on February 24th 1304 C.E. His aim was to become a judge. After his studies, he left Morocco to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. This was a summer day on June 14th, which marked the beginning of his journeys. He was only 21 years old at that time. Even though his main reason to travel was to perform Hajj, he developed a passion to travel. This passion led to his adventurous travels that lasted for 30 years. During this period he frequently went back to Mecca to perform Hajj.

Back then, traveling was not safe by land and sea. Ibn Battuta first traveled alone on land by riding a donkey. He then joined a caravan with other pilgrims and traders for protection. Some walked, others rode horses, mules, donkeys, or camels. By the time they reached Cairo, Egypt, the caravan had several thousand members. He also traveled by horse, camel, and sailboat.

Ibn Battuta visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time like Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. He also traveled to Sri Lanka, China, and South Russia. He stayed in India for several years and was appointed as the ambassador to the Emperor of China. These countries were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders. During these travels, he had the opportunity to gain religious and legislative knowledge and to meet Muslim scholars.

After thirty years of traveling, he returned to Fez, Morocco. At the court of Sultan Abu Inan, he dictated accounts of his journey to Ibn Jazay al-Kalbi. These accounts are known as the famous travels, or Rihla, of Ibn Battuta. The travel accounts were completed in three months. Nowadays, one can read a translation of his travels in English.

One can greatly learn about society in Ibn Battuta’s time through his travels. For instance, from his accounts of the sea voyages and references to shipping, one notices how Muslims completely dominated the naval movement of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Chinese waters. One also observes how a mutual respect existed between the Muslims and Christians. Even though the Christian traders underwent certain restrictions, most of the financial negotiations were carried out on the basis of equality.

He was a careful observer of the societies he visited. He paid close attention to people’s dress and architecture. He also observed their social customs, rituals, governmental organization, and local attitudes. Literary scholars are fascinated with his role as an early example for travel literature.

In Fez in 1364 C.E, Ibn Battuta passed away. His historic travel accounts that transcend time still contribute to society and continue to be a source of learning.

The Prophet (sa) as a Husband

our role modelKindness

Allah says in the Quran: “…and live with them in kindness, even if you dislike them perhaps you dislike something God has placed much good in.” (An-Nisa 4:19). The Prophet (sa) said: “The best among you is he who is best to his family and I am the best among you to my family.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

He was even kind to the relatives of his wives. An old woman came to the Prophet (sa) and he smiled at her, showed her respect, and asked her, “How are you? How have you been doing?” She answered, “I am fine, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O, Messenger of Allah.” When she left Aisha (rta) asked, “Why did you welcome this old woman so warmly in a way that you do not welcome anyone else?” The Prophet (sa) replied, “She used to come and visit us when Khadeejah was alive. Do you not know that honoring the ties of friendship is a part of faith?” (Bukhari and Muslim)


The Prophet (sa) was so keen to keep his wives happy that he would call Aisha (rta) to enjoy some innocent kinds of entertainment.

Aisha (rta) reports that on one occasion, the Prophet (sa) was sitting, and he heard some noise from people and children outside. There was a group of people gathered around some Abyssinians who were dancing.

He said: “O, Aisha, come and see!” I put my cheek on one of his shoulder and looked through the gap. Then he asked, “O, Aisha, have you had enough? Have you had enough?” I said: “No, just to see how much I meant to him and I saw him shifting his weight from one foot to the other.” (Nasai, Bukhari and Muslim)


Once, the Prophet (sa) asked his family for some food, which he could eat with bread, they told him, “We have nothing apart from vinegar.” He asked them to bring it and said: “How good a simple food is vinegar.” (Muslim)

One of the charactistics of the Prophet (sa) is that he never criticized food, if he liked it, he ate it and if he did not like it, he simply left it. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Easy-going nature

Umar (rta) said: “We Quraish used to have control over our women. When we came to Madinah we found a people whose women had control over them, and our women began to learn from those women.

One day my wife was angry with me, and was arguing with me. I did not like this but she told me, ‘Do you not like my arguing with you? By Allah, the wives of the Prophet (sa) argue with him. They get angry and keep away from him all day until night falls.’ So, I went to see Hafsa (Umar rta’s daughter) and asked her, ‘Do you argue with the Prophet (saw)?’ She said: ‘Yes’. I asked her, ‘Do you get angry and keep away from him until night falls?’ She said: ‘Yes’.

I said: ‘The one who does that is doomed to loss! Do you not fear the anger of Allah on account of the anger of his Prophet (sa)? Soon you will be condemned! Do not argue with the Messenger of Allah, and do not ask him for anything. Ask me for whatever you need.'”

Umar (rta) came to the Prophet (sa) and told him about the conversation he had with Hafsah (rta), and the Prophet (sa) just smiled. (Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, Nasai)

Conversations between the Prophet (sa) and his wives should not be assessed as that of a prophet and his wife, but as between a man and his wife; after all they were human beings.

Good Humour

Narrating an incident, Aisha (rta) said: “I came to the Prophet (sa) with some Harirah (a dish made with flour and milk) that I had cooked for him, and told Sawdah (rta) (Prophet’s saw other wife) – as the Prophet (sa) was sitting between me and her – “Eat.” She refused; so, I said: “Either you eat or I will fill your face!” She still refused, so I put my hand in the Harirah and dubbed her face with it. The Prophet (sa) laughed, put some Harirah in her hand and told her: “Do the same to her!” In another report: He lowered his knee (moved out of the way) so that she could get even with me, then she took some and wiped my face with it, and the Prophet (sa) smiled. (Al-Haythami 4/316, Al-Muntakhab 4/393, Kanz al ummal 7/302).

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakar (rta) happened to come and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her but the Prophet (sa) prevented him. After Abu Bakar (rta) had left, he remarked, “See, how I save you.” (Abu Dawood)


Prophet Muhammad (sa) never demanded or bothered his family members. In spite of a challenging and time-consuming mission he managed to run many of his own errands. His wives reported that he would often sew his torn clothes, repair his worn out shoes, milk his goat. (Ahmad)

Fairness and Steadfastness

Prophet (sa) was easy going in other matters, but was very firm in the matters of religion. Once during the course of conversation, Aisha (rta) described a woman as short. The Prophet (sa) interrupted her and said that this amounted to back biting. (Masnad Ahmad)

Sense of Justice

Aisha (rta) stated,” Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to divide his time equally amongst us and would pray, ‘O, Allah, this is my division in what I posses, so please do not hold me to blame for the division (of affection) which only you control.'” (Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah, and At-Tirmidhi)

In another statement Aisha (rta) related that when Allah’s Messenger (sa) was ill he called all his wives and said: “Verily I am no longer able to visit all of you, so, if you do not mind that I remain with Aisha, please allow me to do so.” (Abu Dawood).

Allah says in the Quran: “Men are in charge of women by (right of) what (qualities) Allah has given one over the other and what they spend for maintenance from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard…” (An-Nisa 4:34)

This position of Qawwam (maintenance) means the man is completely responsible for his wife. It is indeed a difficult one. But every Muslim can find a solution to all challenges of his marital life from our beloved Prophet’s (sa) own exemplary role as a husband.

Divorce Boom In Asia

DivorceOnce, the idea of divorce was unthinkable in the Asian culture. Over the past decade, the divorce rate in Asia has soared. Time magazine quotes, the percentages of marriages that ended in divorce in 2002:

South Korea – 47%

Hong Kong – 41%

Japan – 38%

Alhamdulillah, Muslim countries still have the lowest rate of divorces, compared to their Asian counterparts. However, this does not mean that cracks are not beginning to emerge in the family value system.

Clearly, stigmas once attached to divorces are losing their force. People are becoming more individualistic. A marriage counselor Rita Leung, states, “Because of globalization, couples in Asian cities are more like American couples nowadays.” If a problem emerges after getting married, couples tend to think more of their own interests, than of harmony within family.

Surprisingly, women are initiating more divorces today than men. The metamorphosis has occurred mainly due to economic independence, which empowers females not only to take care of themselves, but also bring up their children. Married men, who have been denying rights to their spouses, are also a major contributing factor. Suffering abuse is no longer modern woman’s prerogative.

We feel that for most men walking out on a failed relationship is as easy as pouring a cup of tea. Research proves the opposite – urban men do not cope with divorce that well. According to councilor Ikeuchi, divorced men live nine years less than their married peers, even though many may envy their freedom and the assumed peace of mind.

The question is – where to go from here? Nowadays, the concept of ‘marriage education’ is being introduced as the way to control the epidemic of divorces. It simply means learning the ropes before tying the knot. A councilor explains that it is like a vaccination instead of surgery.

According to Gottman, a clinical psychologist, in relationships conflicts are common. However, only 31% of conflicts get resolved over the course of a marriage. The other 69% are perpetual, unsolvable problems. The insight is not to bother to fix the unfixable. However, what one should attempt to do is conquer four of the most common negative factors of unstable unions: criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling.

As Muslims, we have a very simple formula that always works, provided it is followed. We build every relationship with trust in Allah. Then, for nourishing the ties, we use the skills given to us by Him. If self-improvement is required by giving up bad habits, we do it. We make every effort to save our relationships, rather than give in to easier choices, such as breakups. Finally, if it works, we thank Allah. In case it does not, we still thank Allah, trusting that His supreme decision is for our best interests. Without losing hope, we try to make a new beginning.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) married Zainab (rta), who was the divorcee of his adopted son, Zaid (rta). Thus, he gave her the second chance to rebuild her life.

Allah states:

“…if they disagree (and must part), Allah will provide abundance for all from His all-reaching bounty; for Allah is He that cares for all and is Wise” (An-Nisa 4:130)

Concerning divorce, the Prophet (sa) said that it was made permissible by Allah, but it is also the deed most disliked by Him. Divorce must be viewed as the final resort, after all sincere efforts for reconciliation have proven futile.

Months and More

Sabahat Anwar discusses the significance of 8th-10th months of the Islamic calendar

Shaban – the 8th month

‘Shaban’ means ‘to spread,’ ‘to distribute’. It is so named because in Shaban:

  • Arabs used to disperse (Tashaba) in search of water;
  • Arabs would set out to make raids and sudden attacks.

A Hadeeth states: “There is a month between Rajab and Ramadan called Shaban. People are very ignorant towards this month, even though the reward of each deed is greater within it, and the deeds are presented to Allah.” (Baihaqi)

Thus, the fasts of Shaban are the most meritorious after those of Ramadan. The Prophet (sa) would fast during Shaban, and make up any missed fasts from the previous Ramadan. However, fasting the whole month of Shaban or during its last few days is Makrooh (disliked), unless outstanding fasts or a vow or an act of Kaffarah (expiation) have to be fulfilled.

Ahadeeth about the 15th night of Shaban (Lailat Al-Barat – the night of forgiveness), when Allah forgives sins and showers mercy on those who repent, are weak. Specifying nights for worship is against the Sunnah.


  • 2 AH – the Qiblah changed from Bait Al-Muqaddas (Jerusalem) to the Kabah (Makkah)
  • 2 AH – fasting in Ramadan made compulsory

Ramadan- the 9th month

‘Ramadan’ derives from the Arabic word ‘Ramadha,’ which means ‘intense heat.’ Ramadan is named so because:

  1. When the months were given names, it coincided with the hot summer months.
  2. Fasting causes the stomach to feel ‘hot’.


The Quran was first revealed in Ramadan. Abstaining from food and drink not only teaches us compassion for the poors, but also gives the chance to reconnect with Allah and focus on increasing our Eeman and Taqwa. By constantly doing Dhikr (remembrance), we thank Allah for guiding us and giving meaning to our existence. Lastly, the nightly Taraweeh prayers establish a great unity among Muslims.


  • Revelation of Quran started
  • 2 AH – battle of Badr
  • 3 AH – birth of Hasan (rta), the Prophet’s (sa) grandson
  • 3 AH – marriage of the Prophet (sa) to Zainab (rta)
  • 8 AH – conquest of Makkah
  • 11 AH – death of Fatima (rta)

Shawwal – the 10th month

‘Shawwal’ derives from the following meanings:

  1. ‘to be light and vigorous’ – Arabs used to be active and hunt often during Shawwal;
  2. ‘raise’ – during Shawwal, she-camels would raise their tails, when they would become pregnant;
  3. ‘uplift or breakage’ – in the days of Jahiliyah, Arabs believed that any marriage held in Shawwal would be unsuccessful (these superstitious beliefs were later abolished).


Eid-ul-Fitr – the 1st of Shawwal marks the end of Ramadan and is a day of celebrations.

Ash’hurul Hajj – Shawwal is the first among the three months of Hajj. The other two are Dhul Qa’da and the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah.


Many Ahadeeth praise the virtue of fasting 6 days in Shawwal. In one, the Prophet (sa) says: “A Saim (fasting person) is regarded as if he fasted perpetually” while in another, that “The Saim is purified of sins, as if he was just born that day.” (Muslim) These fasts may be observed any day after Eid-ul-Fitr.


  • 2 AH – fight between Banu Qaynaqa
  • 3 AH- battle of Uhud
  • 4 AH – Hussain, (rta) the Prophet’s (sa) grandson, was born
  • 4 AH – the Prophet (sa) married Umme Salamah (rta)

5 AH – death of Khadija (rta) and Abu Talib

Blessed Repentance – A True Story

repentanceNayyara Rahman tells the true story of a girl who rebuilt her life

Deliverance comes in unusual ways, and to unusual people. On the surface, nobody would think of her as unfortunate. Being born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother not only exposed her to different cultures, but different lives.

When her Lebonese family moved to Australia, she fit right in. For although she was half-Muslim, the girl was quite unscrupulous about how she dressed, dined, and generally lived her life. The Quran was more of an ornament than anything else in the household, the prayer mat just another piece of tapestry.

Upon reaching adulthood, she never missed her childhood innocence. In fact, she was eager to lose it, and soon did. Purity was a distant thought, as it sometimes is when you are young and beautiful. Her list of admirers grew, especially after she became the cover girl for an illicit magazine. For someone whose sole purpose in life was to be happy, she was doing very well indeed. But, something was still gnawing at her. Soon she found out what it was.

As she was channel surfing at a friend’s house one day, an unusual program caught her eye. It was about Chastity. She felt that the words were directed towards her. After all, every day of her life consisted of the evils being talked about: immodesty, fornication, and an overwhelming lust for this world. She thought about the Fire that was so real, and shivered.

Now, she knew. The best way to understand Allah’s Mercy is to know that all you have to do is ask, and He gives. Once she had made up her mind to reform, guidance followed soon after. She left her boyfriend. The girl who never grew tired of tank tops began to see the beauty of the Hijab. Someone who prided herself on being the darling of fashion magazines began to appreciate the Quran’s Eloquence. Drugs and drink were shoved away to make room for fasting and prayer.

At last the gnawing stopped. Her days were now periods of peace – a very welcome change from the rowdy clamour she had left behind. She had never known such contentment, and she believed that life did not get any better than this. That is when fate stepped in again.

Allah has a way of testing His Faithfuls, and He tested her too. She had not been feeling well for some time. At an examination at the local hospital, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, she was not afraid. After all, her life belonged to Him. He had much more of a right over it than she did.

Nevertheless, the surgery took place. The result was gloomy. She died soon after, at the tender age of twenty-two. It all happened in the course of three weeks. Her reversion to Islam up until her death.

However, her brief attempt to reconstruct her life did not go in vain. There is so much we can learn from her: For one thing, we must remember Allah helps those who work hard towards self-improvement. It is never too late to change, and no goodness, no matter how small, goes unseen by Him.

Above all, remember, that there is no such thing as a ‘long life’ for those of us who understand what it is. Should not we make the most of whatever time we do have left?

Good Pickings

Can women find any good in their mothers-in-law, asks Uzma Rizvi

Mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law share a special bond – a bond that is sometimes difficult to come to terms with. Some have it easy and adjust with one another from day one, while others have differences that are resolved over time. Some keep bickering all their lives, and some just learn to tolerate each other’s shortcomings. So, when I was assigned this article to dig up qualities that women admire about their moms-in-law, I took it up with some reservations – Would I be opening a can of worms? Will I get any positive replies? Well, read on and find out.

When I put the question to Samira, who lives in a joint family, she was quiet for a long time, then said: “Right now I just cannot come up with any thing I admire about my mom-in-law, except that … I can say, she is time-conscious. She does not procrastinate, whether it is visiting people, doing household chores, or just going to the bazar. As for her other commendable qualities I will call you back if I can think of more.” I have not heard from her since!

Rafiqua, remembers her mother-in-law quite fondly and answered readily, “My mother-in-law expired a few years ago, but before that we had thirty years together. The thing I liked most about her was that she did a lot of Ibadah, whereas in my family I had not seen elders praying so much or so regularly. I also appreciated that although I had four daughters she never ever taunted me, like many in-laws do. Though we had our share of misunderstandings, she would always make up some how through her actions. Like she would call me for a chitchat, or would just hug me for seemingly no reason at all.”

Mahnaz gave a meaningful smile, when asked to identify some worthy characteristics of her mother-in-law, “Umm…let me think. It’s a little difficult to come up with something.” Then she admitted, “Yeah, I know one thing, she is very patient with everybody – with her husband, with her son and with me. Even if she does not like something she usually keeps quiet and shows no reaction, no matter how much it bothers her. While I, on the other hand, am impatient. Now, I have learnt that her way of keeping quiet and letting things simmer down is a real asset in maintaining peace around the house.”

Sajida lived as a newly wed bahu with her mother-in-law only for a few months, before the lady expired. “Unforgettable,” is how she describes her mother-in-law, and adds, “She was very loving. The most admirable thing about her was that she would go out of the way to help others. She would pool in money for the needy. And yes, she also had wonderful tips and hints about house-keeping and interacting with people.”

Now, that was not too difficult, was it? It just takes some effort to focus on virtues. Whenever a misunderstanding occurs, let us remind ourselves that each one of us has positive and negative traits. If we focus on the good rather than on the bad traits of others (especially close relatives), we will not only make our lives stress-free, but will also earn Allah’s pleasure.

* (Some names have been changed)

Beautiful Names

Beautiful namesAl-Khaliq – The Creator

Al-Khaliq appears 8 times in the Quran. This name has a root word Khalaqa, which means to create. It also refers to measuring and proportioning.

An apt example of Allah’s Power is mentioned when Allah is reminding Isa (as) of His favours upon him: “…who you designed from clay [what was] like a form of a bird with My permission…” (Al-Maidah 5:110)

Referring to the basis of life, Allah reminds us in the Quran: “Is it you who created it or are We the Creator?” (Al-Waqi’ah 56:59)

He also states: “He has created everything, and has measured it exactly according to its due measure.” (Al-Furqan 25:2)

A person should recognize his insignificance before the Creator, knowing the One who can create is also the One who will question one day. This attribute should also apprise the feeling of gratitude in a person realizing what a wonderful world and its inhabitants Allah has created for him. The slightest bit of imbalance in the galaxy alone can lead everything to its doom. But Allah’s Creation is perfect and controlled. He has not only created but set everything in its place too till an appointed time.

Al-Bari – The Evolver / The Maker

It means to create without previous example. It refers to inventing and bringing into existence what He has created and measured. The root word for Al-Bari is Bara’a. Allah creates everything from nothing and creates all things with the knowledge of what will happen to them.

Despite revolutionary advancements in science and research today man has still not been able to create life from nothing. To initiate the process of building life man is still dependent on a living cell. Al- Bari, the Evolver, created that cell. Genetic engineers are still clueless about this miracle. Another theory that is blatantly proved incorrect is the Darwin’s theory, which propagates how lifeless chemical compounds came together to create life.

Allah states: “He is Allah, the Creator, The Evolver- The Bestower of Forms. To him belong Al-Asma Ul Husna (the best names)…” (Al-Hashr 59:24)

Al-Mussawwir – The Bestower of Forms / The Fashioner

It comes from the word Sawwarah- To fashion, to give something a shape or appearance. Allah is the one, who designs all things and gives them their shape and form. Al-Mussawwir has been mentioned in the Quran 4 times.

Quran states: “Allah, it is He who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shade and made your shapes good (looking) and has provided you with good things…” (Ghafir 40:64)

This is an incredibly important Ayah. For all of us who criticize and marvel at others’ looks must realize, whose creation are we challenging? Allah has declared that the form and appearance He gave us is the best according to Him. Why then do we belittle faces? Is it not equivalent to disgracing Al-Mussawwir’s creativity? Truthfully there is great wisdom and beauty in the tiniest creature like an insect right up to the huge mountains Allah formed.

He is Allah, Al-Khaliq, Al-Bari, Al-Mussawwir. If Allah wills something, He merely says to it ‘be’ and it comes into existence.