Feed Your Heart in Ramadan – A Beautiful Reminder


heart-purification                                                   Image Courtesy www.ramadan.co.uk


Many Muslims approach Ramadan very much like they do in previous years. They slip into similar habits and routines, and their ibadah from one Ramadan to the next is predictable. They may have the same taraweeh schedules, read similar quantities of Quran, or perform similar types of ibadah. And they end up coming out of Ramadan very much like they did the year before.

The Prophet (sa) said: “The example of hypocrisy in it (the heart) is like an ulcer that thrives on blood and pus.” (Ahmad)

You might be wondering what that even means; the end of the hadith explains it, and specifically in Ramadan we can see how it benefits us.

The Prophet (sa) further said: “Whichever one of the two (faith or hypocrisy) is getting more, whichever one of the two has the upper hand; the heart will follow suits; the heart will be overcome by that.” (Ahmad)

What does that mean? What you feed your hearts is supposed to directly impact whether or not your heart will be that of a Mumin or a Munafiq; a believer or a hypocrite. When you go to rehabilitation it’s about quitting things, and so if I am going to Taraweeh every night but while I am at home I have the TV on and I am still spending the same amount of time on internet and I am still talking about the same types of things to people and I am hanging out with the same group of people who are polluting and corrupting my heart then I am feeding the plants or I am feeding the ulcer? You are feeding the ulcer and the Prophet (sa) taught us to feed the plants specially in Ramadan. You are cutting out all these things which feed the ulcer. This is the meaning of the Hadeeth and Rasulullah (sa) said: “Whoever does not abandon idol speech, foolishness and backbiting (and the flaws of the tongue), Allah has no need of him abandoning his food and his desire; Allah does not want all that.”

Your heart has to fast as well; your limbs have to fast as well; so what are you feeding your heart in Ramadan? If you are feeding the Quran and you are feeding the Dhikr of Allah (swt), you are feeding the good material, listening to beneficial things for the entire month, throughout the month the plant in your heart is growing, your Iman is growing because you are feeding it with the pure water and sustaining it with pure water.

Imam Ibn Al-Jawzi said: “If you find the darkness in your hearts after you commit a sin then that means you still have light in your heart”; because if there was no light in the heart you would not have felt the darkness, (think about it, it is profound). If you still feel bad and uncomfortable in Ramadan when the stuff is going on and outside of the Ramadan as well, you still feel bad, you still have the guilty conscious; this means there is still Noor in your heart; there is some form of light in your heart.

The great scholar from the 9th century Than-Noon Al-Masri said: “Just as a sick body cannot enjoy fine food, a sick heart cannot enjoy worshipping Allah.” So if you are feeding that ulcer and you go to Taraweeh later, what’s going to happen? It’s not going to do anything. The great lecture and everything that you are hearing is not going to work because you have been feeding an ulcer for nine hours; now you are just trying to feed this plant for an hour a day; the plant will die.

So use Ramadan in particular to bring in the right things into your home and into your heart; surround yourself with things that will feed that plant; that will nourish that plant of Iman inside your heart.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi


15 Common Mistakes in Ramadan


Common Mistakes

                                             Image Courtesy www.infoaboutislam.blogspot.com


Video URL ->https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5sZWEWl6zQ


Errors committed regarding the rules and regulations of fasting

  1. The most common is that the Muslims- many a times- they don’t do Niyyah for fasting.Intention is very important; without Niyyah, without intention, the fasting is not accepted. Hence, making intention is obligatory.
  2. Many Muslims continue eating their Sehri even after the Fajr Adhan has started; and they think that the end of the Suhoor time is only at the end of the Fajr Adhan. In fact, the moment the Fajr Adhan starts, the moment the beginning of Dawn starts, the Suhoor time ends. So, this is error which normally nullifies or invalidates the fast.
  3. The third error is that many people delay paying their Zakat-ul- Fitr; and many a times, they pay that after Eid-ul-Fitr Salah. If we pay the Zakat-ul- Fitr after Eid-ul-Fitr, then it is like normal charity, it does not come under the Zakat-ul- Fitr.

Errors contradictory to the Sunnah of fasting

  1. Many people skip the Suhoor.
  2. Some people have an early Suhoor i.e. they have the suhoor one or two hours before the Fajr time; in fact the Suhoor is a blessing- every Muslim should have it. And, the Prophet (sa) said: “You should delay the Suhoor as much as possible.” Thus, you can have Suhoor till just before the Fajr time.
  3. The third mistake committed by Muslims in this category is that they delay opening their fast- that is they delay their Iftar. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: ‘The people will be good, as long as, they hasten in breaking their fast. That means immediately after sunset, they should have their Iftar.
  4. Many Muslims read unauthentic Dua during Iftar. The most authentic Dua for Iftar is:


Meaning: “My thirst is quenched, the veins are moistened, and the Ajr is near Insha’Allah (God willing the reward is near).”

  1. Some people when they read this Dua for breaking the fast, they say it before breaking the fast. Before they put the date in their mouth, they say this Dua; and its contradictory to its meanings- that my thirst has been quenched, and the veins have been moistened- thirst cannot be quenched before breaking the fast. So normally, it should be said after you eat the date, after you have water, and you are satisfied- may be some minutes after you break the fast, you can read this Dua.
  2. Many Muslims eat excessively during Iftar, and many of them, even eat throughout the night.
  3. They are negligent, as far as, Taraweeh are concerned. Because Taraweeh is not a Fardh-they think there is no problem if a Muslim misses Taraweeh. Though Taraweeh is not a Fard, but it’s a very important Sunnah; and a Muslim who misses Taraweeh, is missing a great reward.
  4. Many Muslims who perform Taraweeh, they read very fast- 100 miles per hour. They try to finish it in short time, and they defeat the purpose; in fact, they should read it in the moderate pace so that people understand, and they grasp the words of Allah (swt).
  5. Those who go for Itikaf in the mosque, many of them socialize during Itikaf- as though it’s the time to meet people and friends- which is totally contrary to the Sunnah.
  6. Many Muslims think that the Laylatul Qadr is on the 27th night of the Ramadan, and they only worship Allah (swt) on this night. In fact, the beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Search for the laylatul Qadr in the odd nights of the last 10 days (the last Ashra).” Therefore, Laylatul Qadr can either fall on the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, or 29th Hence, this is one of the common errors made by Muslims.
  7. They spend their time during Ramadan in unproductive work rather than engaging in Dhikr, and worshiping Allah (swt). They must rather spend time offering the Nawafil (the voluntary Salah) – the Sunnah Salah besides the compulsory Salah.
  8. They should do a lot of Dua.
  9. Ask for forgiveness; this is the month of forgiveness.
  10. They should read the Quran- as much as possible- to get blessing of Allah (swt).
  11. They fast and they keep themselves hungry; but basically, they are not mentally prepared for the fast. And, it is as though, they are staying hungry. But, the main purpose of fasting is to acquire Taqwa which is not obtained.

Transcribed for Hiba Magazine by Hira Naqi

Interview with Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan – How to have a productive Ramadan


Image Courtesy blog.iiph.com 

The following interview was conducted by Abu Productive and posted originally as a video interview. You can watch the entire interview here.

Interviewer: Assalamualaikum and welcome to this very special interview with our favourite teacher Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

NAK: Walaikumasalam Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuhu

Interviewer: Jazak’Allah Khair for joining us for this interview

NAK: My pleasure.

Interviewer: I really want to talk to you about how you plan to prepare for and spend Ramadan? My first question is: What’s your definition of the purpose of Ramadan? What should we look out for, and try to achieve in Ramadan?

NAK: To me personally, my thoughts on Ramadan are inspired by the only passage in the Quran that deals with the subject. A little past the middle of Surah Al- Baqarah, Allah (swt) talks about the function, the purpose of Ramadan  and what I find probably the most inspiring in that passage- first and foremost- is that Allah (swt) did not describe this month as a month of fasting, nor did he describe it as a month of prayer. He described it as the month in which the Quran was revealed; and then, when He described the Quran, He described in a way as though He was introducing the Quran for the first time- like never before. And, this is a Madni Surah, which means that the Muslims have been receiving Quran through the Prophet (sa) for over a decade now, well over a decade. And, yet Allah (swt) says,

“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” (Al-Baqarah 2:185).

As though, it’s like Allah (swt) is telling us what the Quran is for the first time; so what that teaches me at least, and I hope other Muslims too- is that you have to renew the relationship with this Book almost as though you never knew it before, and you have to come at it anew. Hence, it’s a month of rejuvenating your experience with the Quran, so you can experience it like the first generation that was taught to experience it all over again. That’s the first and foremost thing, like this month should be a celebration of revelation itself. That’s what it should be.

Interviewer: Subhan’Allah, that’s amazing. And based on that, what would be your most important goal to achieve in Ramadan.

NAK: I study the Quran throughout the year, but I turn it up a few notches in the month of Ramadan. My memorization goes up; I haven’t finished memorizing the Quran yet; I’m working on it- part time slowly but surely. But, it goes on an accelerator in the month of Ramadan. I try to catch Itikaf every year, and in Itikaf I do a lot of review of Quran. For me personally, the act of memorizing the Quran, is not just the act of memorization- but actually- when you recite the Ayat over and over again, it gives you a chance to reflect on the word of Allah (swt) too; and to think about the same thing over and over again. It brings about opportunities for insight which I really enjoy. So, that’s one thing that’s certainly I look forward to in Ramadan.

The other thing I really enjoy doing in Ramadan is the nightly Taraweeh prayers; but I will be honest with you- many a times, I don’t join the entire Taraweeh prayers; or a lot of the times, I’ll go to a Masjid- which actually takes it easier. Because some Masajid- unfortunately- their big goal is to finish the recitation of the entire Quran, and they rush through the recitation; and there are other Masajid Alhumdulilllah in our area that actually take it easy. They won’t recite a lot, but what they recite, they really enjoy reciting; and this month should not be about quantity, it should be about quality. There is no religious guideline that you have to finish the entire Quran- there’s no such thing.. We impose this upon ourselves, and you find people that pray their eight Rakat, and there’s a mad rush outside the Masjid. It’s just that I got over with it, let me get out of here. But actually, prayer is supposed to be reflective, a spiritual experience where you’re enjoying the word of Allah (swt) in ever Rakat; and that’s really something, I hope to restore every year for myself in Ramadan, and I hope other people do too Insha’Allah.

Interviewer: Insha’Allah. You mentioned about balancing your energy levels- trying not to do too much in the first days- for example, trying to leave some energy for the last ten days. Do you sort of structure the whole of Ramadan that way? You try to sort of spread out your energy so that you can maintain momentum throughout the month?

NAK: You know,  one of my teachers Dr. Madwi, has some pretty interesting insights on Ramadan, and how you should spend your time in Ramadan, and I tend to agree with him.

Ramadan is, actually, not supposed to be a time where you’re not productive in everything else- like you’re supposed to be as fruitful, as productive at your work, and with business and education and everything else as in the other months.

It’s not a time for vacation; in some Muslim countries- for example, people stay up until Fajr almost, and then they pass out until 4 p.m. Just in time for Iftar and start all over again. They become like creatures of the night, or something, because for them that’s what Ramadan is supposed to be.

That’s silly, that’s not the point of this month. As a matter of fact, the nightly prayers, they are just really a manifestation of Tahajjud, -that’s what they are. Lots of Muslims have a struggle even with the five prayers; but if you’re praying your five prayers, and you’re not good at Tahajjud- this is the month to get into it. There is an (Ayat), even the Ayaat for reciting the Quran in slow rhythmic tone; there are Ayaat about the night prayer,  and Taraweeh is actually supposed to be an exercise for the night prayer; so if, you don’t catch the Taraweeh, but manage to get up for Tahajjud, that’s even better for you.

We have to change- shift our mentality about how we make the most of Ramadan. The other recommendation I very strongly have for people is- if you didn’t catch the Taraweeh prayers at night, but you went to pray Isha, and a few extra Rakaat at the Masjid ,and then you came back for Fajr at the Masjid- that’s way much better for you than staying up until midnight doing Taraweeh, and then, barely catching Fajr, or not coming to the Masjid for Fajr. So, you have to be realistic with yourself; what is a bigger priority? I mean the Prophet (sa) instructions are true, and we should believe in them; if you catch the prayer at the Masjid at Isha and Fajr, it’s as though you prayed the entire night. That’s his promise. So, let’s believe in that promise, and especially, get into that habit in this month.

I personally believe, in my personal life, and I recommend it to my friends and students that if you can make a habit of catching Fajr and Isha at the Masjid, then you’re just going to have a productive life. Allah (swt) is going to put some Barakah in your life throughout your day, throughout your night, a lot of good comes of it; and then, this is the month to get into that habit, because you’re going to go anyway, but don’t overdo it in a way that you just totally can’t sustain it after it’s done. You want to use this month as an opportunity to instill habits in your life that you can sustain after this month is over. So, that’s how I see it.

I: You just touched on Barakah there; and I want you to touch on Barakah in particular. How can your fast and spirituality sustain you? How does Barakah of Suhoor and fasting boost your productivity

NAK: It’s pretty amazing because fasting is tough, but, and if you try to fast tomorrow, it’ll be really hard. You’re going to be dazed, you’re not going to be able to focus at work, and things are going to happen. But, what Allah (swt) says about Ramadan is pretty awesome. It’s not a universal statement; it’s actually intended within the month of Ramadan. Allah (swt) intends ease for you; the fasting in the month of Ramadan is actually easier than fasting any other time, and that’s something Allah (swt) instills into this month. It’s special; so nobody is going to be able to say genuinely that they’re having a hard time because of the fasting As a matter of fact, you might even find yourself having more energy than you ever had. Now, if you don’t find yourself having energy, then there are some other causes- not fasting.

What are those other causes? You’re over eating at Iftar; you’re going to town at Suhoor time you’re eating like four times the breakfast you normally eat; no wonder you’re tipped over half the day because you’re dying of how much you ate; the other half you’re dying over your starvation- so, a balanced diet is a big part of how productive you are. A balanced sleep schedule is really important. People have messed up sleep schedules in Ramadan; they’re not supposed to have those sleep schedules. You’re supposed to have a normal sleep schedule in Ramadan- so maintain these things, take care of these things, and Insha’Allah, it’s not going to be a problem. Speaking of the word Barakah, you know, the linguistic meaning of the word is increase beyond expectation.

In Service to the Book of Allah – Sheikh Muhammad Ayub


By Ejaz Taj

It was at Fajr time this morning; I received the sad news about the passing of our beloved Sheikh Muhammad Ayub from his son in Madinah. He was a man whose life was in service to the Book of Allah (swt) and its teaching – from his earliest days to his final moments before returning to his Lord. He was born in a poor Burmese migrant family living in Makkah, in 1952. His family had fled oppression against Muslims in their native Burma. His childhood was difficult. Being the eldest of his siblings, he had to work to provide for his family (as his father was imprisoned in Burma). At the same time, he attended his daily Hifz classes in Makkah.

At that time, there were very few roads developed, and no tunnels were constructed through the mountains that we see today. The Sheikh mentioned in a rare interview that his daily journey used to be on foot to the Masjid where he studied; his route involved ascending and descending two steep hills, between which were wild dogs and other desert creatures. This is a testament to his dedication from a young age in this era of Skype classes from the comfort of our bedrooms.

As he grew older, he showed a great aptitude for the recitation of the Quran – impressing his teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman, who held in a high standard. The Sheikh accompanied his teacher wherever he went, practising and perfecting his recitation.

In the year 1410 AH (1990), the Sheikh had just been given the position of Imam in Masjid Quba. The head Imam of Masjid Nabawi at that time, Sheikh Abdul Aziz As-Salih, was informed of a new Imam by the name of Muhammad Ayub in Masjid Quba who was known for his beautiful voice and excellent skill in recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, towards the end of Shaban, summoned Muhammad Ayub to a gathering. In the end, he called him to sit next to him in front of everyone and asked him to recite. The Sheikh, unsure of what exactly was happening, proceeded to recite, something that was as natural to him as breathing; he managed to impress everyone in the gathering by his eloquent recitation. Sheikh Abdul Aziz, taken aback, immediately said to him (with only a few days notice before the start of Ramadan) “You will be leading Taraweeh in the Masjid of the Messenger of Allah (sa).” Dazed and unable to believe what had just happened, he prepared himself for the great moment.

He said about his first night in the Mihrab of the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid: “My heart was racing and my ears were buzzing. My hands were shaking uncontrollably from the greatness of where I stood and in remembrance of those who stood here before me. I sought refuge with Allah (swt) and proceeded.” He also said: “Every single time I stood at the Mihrab of the Messenger of Allah (sa), I was filled with intense awe and a deep fear; fear that I would not be able to do justice to this great position, nor fulfil this heavy responsibility on my shoulders.”

In his first year as Imam, he led all twenty Rakahs of Taraweeh alone for the entire Ramadan apart from three days. This feat was matched only by one other Imam of the Haram Sheikh Ali Jabir in Masjid Haram (who was a close friend of his and over whom he led the Janazah). His teacher Sheikh Khaleel-ur-Rahman was away when Sheikh Muhammad Ayub got appointed as an Imam and only found out when he heard his student on the live radio broadcast from Masjid Nabawi. He would then call him every day, pray for him, and remind him of the importance of sincerity.

The Sheikh continued to lead the Taraweeh and Tahajjud in the Haram till 1417 after which he was removed. He spent a few years leading at Masjid Quba and various other Masajid. He moved on to teaching Tafseer at the Islamic University until his retirement in 2014. The Sheikh travelled extensively delivering lectures and study programmes on Arabic Language, Quran, Aqeedah, and Fiqh in places such as Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Senegal, and Turkey. Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham hosted him in the 90s where the Sheikh led the Taraweeh prayers.

After his retirement, the Sheikh took on a handful of dedicated Huffadh, who he would listen to in order to give them Ijazah, daily in Masjid Nabawi, until he passed away. Despite his ill health, he did this daily and never failed to show up, often listening to four students simultaneously while stopping and correcting each one. This is something that I witnessed personally. He would then head back to his Masjid where he led Isha and Fajr every day.

He holds a very unique position in the world of Quran reciters; respected widely by the Qurra from all backgrounds and nationalities. He had a massive impact on reciters in Saudi Arabia in general being a master of the Hijazi style which, by his aptitude and position at Masjid Nabawi, became very popular. Mishary Rashid, in a show about the biographies of modern day Qurra, said about the Sheikh: “He was the Mustafa Ismail of the Arabian Peninsula; he was far more influential in shaping the recitation of many reciters, and Imam of Masajid in that region than anyone else.” Today, he is widely imitated, even in the Haramain with Imam, such as:

Abdullah Johani, Bandar Baleela, Ahmad Talib Hameed and Khalid Al-Ghamidi, in both Makkah and Madinah, demonstrating deep influence by him, as they studied the Quran themselves.

He maintained a sadness that remained with him after no longer being appointed to lead at Masjid Nabawi in 1417 AH. The Sheikh mentioned in an interview when asked about his wishes for the future that he hoped he would be given the opportunity to lead in the Prophet’s (sa) Masjid one last time before he returns to Allah (swt). His Dua was answered as he was appointed one last time to lead the Taraweeh in the final Ramadan of his life in 1436 AH (2015) before returning to His Lord at Fajr 9th Rajab 1437 AH (16th April 2016).

I was blessed to meet the Sheikh a number of times. I felt honoured praying behind him in Ramadan 2015, and again just two weeks ago before his passing, in Masjid Nabawi as he sat and listened to his students. His final words to me were:

“The Arabic language is not difficult. Had it been as such, we would not have been able to memorise and learn the Book of Allah (swt), as it has been today from East to West.”

The Janazah was held on the 16th of April 2016 after Dhuhr in Masjid Nabawi. The Sheikh had thirteen children: five sons and eight daughters. The men are all Huffadh and well-accomplished within their fields; and a handful of the women are Huffadh, some still memorising, and also well studied in their respective fields.

May Allah (swt) raise him in rank in the hereafter; and may He allow the Book to which he dedicated his life to intercede for him in the grave and on Qiyamah. May Allah (swt) join him with the Messenger of Allah (sa), Abu Bakr (rta), Umar (rta), Uthman (rta), Ali (rta), and all those of the righteous with whom he shared the Imamat of that blessed Masjid throughout history, in the Akhirah. Ameen.

Reconnecting with Ramadan

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Planning for RamadanO Ramadan, my friend, you are here. I sense peace and happiness as we re-connect again. I remember last year begging Allah to allow me to meet you in the coming year.

You are the month in which the Quran was sent down as a guide to mankind. Your spiritual aspects of Taraweeh prayer (Night Prayer), reading the Quran, fasting, helping the poor by paying Zakat-ul-Fitr, and inviting others to break their fasts together soothes our hearts, develops compassion, and creates a spiritual atmosphere. We seek Laylat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) in your last ten odd nights.

When you come, we fast during the day. Fasting means abstinence from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn till sunset. Many consider fasting to be an act of hardship but the truth is it teaches patience and perseverance, and it germinates a feeling of moral accomplishment. Certain individuals are exempted from fasting – they include the sick and the travellers. They can make up the days after Ramadan. Allah says in the Quran:

“[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know.” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Fasting is an act of obedience and submission to the Almighty Allah; its foundation is based upon love to gain His pleasure. This is why fasting enhances feelings of inner peace, optimism, and contentment. Abu Hurayrah (ra) narrated that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise the voice; if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him he should say: I am a person fasting. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgement than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two (occasions) of joy, one when he breaks the fast he is glad with the breaking of (the fast) and one when he meets his Lord he is glad with his fast.” (Muslim)

Fasting ‘shelters’ us from sins. The one who is fasting says: I am fasting – and becomes one of the righteous. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:

“Fasting is a shield; when one of you is fasting, he should neither behave in an obscene manner nor foolishly. If a man fights or abuses him, he should say: I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Abu Dawood)

O Ramadan, my friend whilst you are here, I pray to Allah (swt) to enable us to make the most of it.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 2

pearls2Hasten for Hajj – it’s obligatory!

It is Shaytan who discourages a person from hastening to do good. People delay the obligation of Hajj until they have attained old age. Who has guaranteed you that you will live that long? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time; you will have the health to perform Hajj? Who has guaranteed you that if you are alive by that time, and also have health; you will get the permission to perform Hajj? What are you delaying Hajj for? Why not take hold of the time you have now?

Allah (swt) says, “Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path.” (An-Nisa 4:26-27)

This is the reason why people delay doing the good. They are following their desires: a bigger home, a better job, another degree, an exotic foreign vacation, and then in the end, comes the Pilgrimage to the House of their Lord. Remember, Hajj becomes obligatory upon you at the age of twenty and when you fulfill other conditions too. You cannot delay it until you are fifty. It is an obligation for you!

Hold on to your better half!

An important topic that Surah An-Nisa deals with, is about resolving issues; particularly the marital disputes. Allah (swt) discusses conflict resolutions in steps; where the first step is willingness to reconcile. Do not be too arrogant to resolve matters. Remember, divorce is not a seven letter word that you can throw any time. You have to live by the consequences. The person within whom you  find tons of problems might be the best person you ever meet. There is no person in the world created as per our liking. Therefore, married couples need to try as hard as possible and keep their marital secrets between themselves.

But when matters go out of hand, Allah (swt) says, “If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things.” (An-Nisa 4:35)

This is the most pertinent key to resolving issues. If the couple wants to settle disputes, Allah (swt) will pave the way for resolution. But if the couple wants to proof who was right and who was wrong, they will never be able to reconcile. And this is true for any kind of dispute that one might face.

Split without a slam!

But if they separate (by divorce), Allah will provide abundance for every one of them from His Bounty. And Allah is Ever All-Sufficient for His creatures’ need, All-Wise.” Yes, separation is permissible in Islam. (An-Nisa 4:130)

This teaches us the etiquette of separation. Do not let that separation be an event to mud sling one another; where the whole family and the entire town gets to hear rumours about you two. After the divorce live like two civilized people. The children need both their parents. It is too much for them to witness their parents’ separation and later their slandering and accusations.

Jealousy kills, Dua brings!

A reason couples fight is jealousy. We look at other people’s lives and feel they have a better life than us. The grass is never greener on the side. Everyone has their tests which we are unable to see. Allah (swt) says, “Or do they envy men (Muhammad (sa) and his followers) for what Allah has given them of His Bounty?” It is Allah’s (swt) decision that who gets what. We should not look at other people’s treasures and wish it is snatched from them. If we like what someone else possesses, we should Dua for them and ourselves. We should ask Allah (swt) to bless them and grant us with the same goodness.

Then Allah (swt) says, “Then We had already given the family of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Book and Al-Hikmah, and conferred upon them a great kingdom.” (An-Nisa 4:54) This is what we need to make Dua for. Of course, we cannot attain Prophethood but we can get something from it. We should ask Allah (swt) for wisdom and the commendable conduct of the Prophets (as).

Say “No” to hypocrisy!

During Prophet’s (sa) days in Madinah, there were some hypocrites who had embraced Islam. They would come to Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, take notes of his speech, go out and tell people the opposite. Sometimes, they would leak out plans to the enemies. This resulted in serious setback to the Muslims. About their faith Allah (swt) said, “And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: ‘We believe in Allah and the Last Day’ while in fact they believe not. They (think to) deceive Allah and those who believe, while they only deceive themselves, and perceive (it) not!” (Al-Baqara 2:8-9)

Most often, our deeds don’t match our statements. What we say is entirely different from what we actually do. Allah (swt) says, “If He wills, He can take you away, O people, and bring others. And Allah is Ever All-Potent over that.” (An-Nisa 4:133)

This verse serves as a stern warning. At another place He says, “O you who believe! Whoever from among you turns back from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him.” (Al-Maidah 5:54)

It is hypocrisy to say we believe in Allah (swt) and consider Muhammad (sa) as His Final Messenger, and then not follow His commands. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, the hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is He Who deceives them.” (An-Nisa 4:142) Can anyone deceive the One Who knows what our hearts conceal?

Who are the hypocrites?

“And when they stand up for As-Salat (the prayer), they stand with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not remember Allah but little.” (An-Nisa 4:142) How many of us stand up for Salah because we want to? Many of us offer Salah only because it is obligatory upon us. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to offer Salah, because we want to and not because we have to.” Ameen.

Many of us, when we are standing for Taraweeh, we are thinking when it is going to end; when we are reciting the Quran we are counting the pages, how much left to reach the end. We act more like ‘Abd-clock (the slave of clock) than ‘Abd-Allah (the slave of Allah (swt)). Will such an act of worship be acceptable to Allah (swt)? In worldly matters, no one accepts half-hearted deeds or presents. We try our best and often go beyond our means and capacity to please people. Then, why not exert ourselves to please Allah (swt)?

In verse 142 cited above, Allah (swt) said that the hypocrites do not remember Allah (swt) except a little, but they like to show off. During Ramadan, Quran classes and Masajid are filled with people. Everyone wants to join the study circle or Taraweeh and tell others about it. But what is the condition of our hearts and where is our mind? Sometimes, we go to the Quran class and Masjid only to be seen. While we are listening to the Quran recitation, our minds are focused on what’s happening outside.

Hypocrites – the fire-dwellers

About the hypocrites, Allah (swt) said, “Verily, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire; no helper will you find for them.” (An-Nisa 4:145) This is where the Fire is most intense. May Allah (swt) protect us from doing such acts that can lead us to Fire. Ameen.

Glad tiding for the repenting ones

After highlighting a significant yet often callously ignored matter of our worships, and talking about the punishment Allah (swt) ends Juz 5 by saying, “Why should Allah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and have believed in Him. And Allah is Ever All-Appreciative (of good), All-Knowing.” (An-Nisa 4:147) This statement gives us so much hope. Why would Allah (swt) want to punish anyone who honours his commitment to Allah (swt) sincerely? Why would He warn us of the consequences if He didn’t care for us? Rather, when we turn to Allah (swt) out of love or in repentance, it delights Him for He says that, “Look, My servant knows there is a Deity Who understands him and can comfort him.”

Another trait of the hypocrites that Allah (swt) stated is, “And when it is said to them: Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), you (Muhammad (sa)) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad (sa)) with aversion.” (An-Nisa 4:61)

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Nisa 1

pearls4Before we begin today’s Pearls of Peace, there’s a challenge for everyone reading this. The brother reciting the Quran in the Taraweeh is visually impaired, yet he has memorized the entire Quran by listening to his father and CDs. You and I have been blessed with eyes. We can see the beautiful world of Allah (swt). We can read all that we want and whatever we want. What efforts have we made to read and memorize the Book of Allah (swt)?

We now start with Surah An-Nisa, the Surah named after the women. This is the status of women in Islam. There’s an entire Surah named after the women while there’s no chapter in the Quran called Ar-Rijal (the men). In this Surah, Allah (swt) draws our attention towards the rights of a woman and warns us against usurping them.

Man vs. woman

He begins the Surah by saying, “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa (Eve)), and from them both He created many men and women.”

Allah (swt) describes the creation of mankind- from a single father and a single mother to make us feel compassionate about each other. Then, He says, “and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship).”

The mention of wombs is an indication that men and women are physically different and thus created for different purposes. Men cannot perform the roles of women and women cannot perform the roles of men. He ends the first verse by saying, “Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” meaning Allah (swt) is watching how we treat one another.

Dignity of a woman

In order to know how to treat someone, we first need to learn about their status. The woman needs to know where she stands in the Sight of her Creator. She needs to know how to carry herself without compromising on her values. She cannot give in to peer pressure and go against the commands of Allah (swt). She must live such a life that her living confirms that she is a gift from Allah (swt).

Rights of orphans

After honouring women, Allah (swt) talks about another stratum of the society which is weak, but its status before Allah (swt) is really high. These are the orphans. Allah (swt) chose for his Last Messenger to be an orphan, and throughout the Quran we find many verses that remind us to be kind to this weak stratum of society and give them their rights.

In our society, when the father passes away, others relatives come and take charge over the wealth of the orphan children. While they are to act as custodians until the children attain the age of maturity, the guardians do not return them their wealth or they cheat them by understating their property. Allah (swt) says, “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!” (An-Nisa 4:10). The wealth of this world is not worth trading our peace and contentment for it. A person who cheats others cannot live a peaceful life.

Rights of women

There’s another type of cheating that is done at the time of marriage. Men don’t give their brides the bridal gift known as Mahr. Allah (swt) says, “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart…” (An-Nisa 4:4).

Women are often too shy to demand for it themselves; therefore Allah (swt) has made it a duty of the husbands to gift it to them. In Islam, a woman is a queen. When she is small she is looked after by the father. As she grows up and is married off, it becomes the duty of the husband to look after her needs. In absence of a father and a husband, the closest Mahram relations look after her. Allah (swt) gives women rights so that she is not treated as a commodity; as it used to happen in the ignorant days. In the pagan days, the male relatives would inherit the woman along with all her wealth. Allah (swt) says what belongs to woman remains with her.

Islamic law of inheritance

In verses 11 and 12, Allah (swt) informs us about the exact proportions of inheritance to be distributed among heirs. Some people say in Islam women are oppressed, they get less of what men receive.

We must acknowledge that the system of Allah (swt) is based on justice, as He says, “These are the limits (set by) Allah (or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as)) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success..” (An-Nisa 4:13)

Consequences of defiance

One who follows the commands of Allah (swt) will attain peace in this life and the next. On the contrary, the one who finds flaws in Allah’s (swt) system can never live in peace in this life, and in the next he will face torment. This is what Allah (swt) talks about in the verse right after this, And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (as), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:14)

By warning us of the consequences, it is clear that Allah (swt) wants the best for us. Let’s understand this through an example. A mother tells her children to do something and at the same time tells the repercussions of not following her instructions. She tells them, “If you do this I will give you such-and-such gift, but if you don’t do this, then watch out.” The mother does not want to hurt her children; however, it is in their best interests that she warns  them beforehand. Allah (swt) wants the best for us. He does not want us to suffer in this life or the next; therefore He has explained us the repercussions of not following His commands beforehand. May He allow us to surrender to His commands. Ameen.

Share of a woman

To briefly touch up on the share a woman gets, let’s look at what Allah (swt) says, “…if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is half.” (An-Nisa 4:11) No male takes this much percentage of wealth. Before we use our tongues to declare something ordained by Allah (swt), we must understand the Shariah. How can something that has been decided by Allah (swt) be wrong? The problem is that we value human opinions more than what Allah (swt) tells us. And this is the reason to why we have lost our peace.

Repentance – a peaceful move!

Some of us may have committed something wrong in our lives. We might not have given others their rights, mistreated orphans or spoken bad words about Allah’s (swt) laws. This brings us to repentance. Repentance is accepted only for those who do wrong in ignorance and then repent soon after. Allah (swt) says, “And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:18)

Our dilemma is that we like to delay things till the last minute. Look at how do we treat our prayers. When the Muezzin gives a call for prayer, and that is when we get up for ablution. By then, we are left with little time to reach the Masjid and stand in the first row. Some of us delay our prayers to the point when only a few minutes are left for it to expire and that is when we get up for prayer. Will such a prayer be accepted? Likewise, a person who has been delaying repentance until the time he meets the angel of death, will his repentance be accepted? All of us want the best in this life, then why do we offer Allah (swt) a very poor quality of deeds? May Allah (swt) protect us and help us realize our mistakes. Ameen.


Taraweeh – The Essence of Ramadan

Vol 4- Issue 2 Essence of taraweehUmm Usman highlights some important Ahadeeth discussing the rulings for Taraweeh

The Ramadan nightly prayer has a special merit over other nights. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Whoever observes the night prayer in Ramadan as an expression of his faith and to seek reward from Allah, his previous sins will be blotted out.” (Muslim)

In this Hadeeth, ‘faith’ means the faith in what Allah (swt) has promised the observers of night prayers. ‘To seek reward’ means that the observer’s intent is not for the eye service.

Taraweeh is derived from the Arabic root word Raaha, which means ‘to rest, relax, and use as recreation.’ It is so called, because the believers used to prolong it. After every four Rakahs, they would stop for rest and resume, until Taraweeh was complete.

Taraweeh in Congregation

The Messenger of Allah (sa) was the first to establish the Sunnah of congregational (Jamah) prayer of Taraweeh in Masjid. Then, he did not continue with this Sunnah because of fear that it might be made mandatory on the Ummah in Ramadan, and they might not be able to do it.

Aisha (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) observed Taraweeh prayer in the Masjid one night and people prayed with him. He repeated the following night and the number of participants grew. The companions congregated the third and fourth night, but the Messenger (sa) did not show up. In the morning, he told them: ‘I saw what you did last night, but nothing prevented me from joining you, except my fear that it might be made mandatory on you in Ramadan.’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Number of Rakahs in Taraweeh

The worthy ancestors Salaf As-Salih disagreed on the amount of Rakahs for Taraweeh and Witr. The following numbers are mentioned: 39, 29, 23, 19, 13, and 11 Rakahs. According to a particular view, of all the numbers mentioned, none is sounder than 11 Rakahs. When Aisha (rta) was asked regarding the prayer of the Prophet (sa), she replied: “He did not pray in Ramadan or some other times more than eleven Rakahs.” (Muslim and Bukhari)

However, there is nothing wrong with praying more than 11 Rakahs. Perhaps, this is why different numbers are observed. When the Prophet (sa) was asked about the night prayer, he said: “It may be done in two Rakahs, and if anyone fears the appearance of morning, he should pray one Rakah as a Witr for what he has already prayed.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

In their desire to pray more Rakahs, some people make Taraweeh in extreme speed. This is wrong, especially when the speed leads to a breach of certain rules of prayer. In that case, the prayer will not be valid. Similarly, it is undesirable for an Imam to pray with such speed, whereby the followers would have difficulty observing the necessary deeds in Salah.

Neglecting Taraweeh

No one should neglect Taraweeh without a good reason. It is part of physical and spiritual training, and its observation soon after Iftar insures timely and proper digestion of food. Besides, there are spiritual rewards awaiting the observers of this prayer.

Everybody should attend the Masjid prayers, including women, provided they are properly covered. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Prevent not the women servants of Allah, from going to the Masjid of Allah.” However, some scholars state that there must be separate arrangement for ladies when they attend the Masjid to avoid creating Fitna (trails). They should also neither wear perfume, nor raise their voices, nor show their beauty. Allah (swt) states: “They should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof.” (An-Nur 24:31)

‘What ordinarily appears’ refers to the outer garments, for when the Messenger (sa) commanded women to attend Eid prayer, Umm Atiyah (rta) said: “Messenger of Allah, some of us do not have the outer garment (Jilbab).” The Messenger of Allah (sa) told her to let a sister (who has more than one) give her one to wear. (Agreed upon)

It is Sunnah that women pray behind the men in the rear lines. The Messenger (sa) has been reported as saying: “The best lines for men are the front lines, and the worst lines for men are the rear lines. The best lines for women are the rear ones, and the worst lines of women are the front ones.” (Muslim)

The women should leave the Masjid as soon as the Imam says ‘As-Salaamu Alaikum.’ They should not delay without a valid reason. Umm Salmah (rta) said: “When the Messenger of Allah (sa) saluted to end prayer, the women would stand up to leave, and the Messenger (sa) would remain in his place for a while. Allah is the Best Knower, but perhaps the Messenger (sa) did this, so women would leave, before men could overtake them.” (Bukhari)

Taraweeh is significantly the essence of Ramadan. Qiyam-ul-Lail might not be possible for many through out the year except in the holy month of Ramadan. Muslims flock to the Masjid or other Taraweeh congregations in hope of reaping optimum benefit. And why not? Ramadan is the only month when Nafl Ibadah (optional worship) equates to the reward of Fard Ibadah (obligatory worship). May Allah (swt) bless every believer with this golden opportunity to earn His Pleasure. Ameen.

Food for Thought

Misplaced discipline in our eating lifestyles must be harnessed to discover the true joys of health and harmony, writes Dr. Sarah Shahab

Just as lack of food in many parts of the world causes misery and malnutrition, an excess of it poses the most common problems of the modern world. The relationship between diet and disease has long been established. Excess consumption of energy rich foods (containing fat and sugar), combined with physical in activity can lead to many chronic diseases-like obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and arthritis in weight bearing joints (spine, hip, and knee).

A balance between energy intake and energy expenditure can be achieved through moderate physical activity, such as thirty minutes of brisk walking, five or more times a week, by limiting the amount of saturated fat, mainly animal fat, hydrogenated vegetable fats, and tropical fats (coconut and palm oil).

A diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, fish, beans, low-fat dairy and whole grains increases longevity and reduces the risk of overall mortality. A large number of anti-carcinogenic agents are found in fruits and vegetables. It has been observed in many studies that persons with low fruit and vegetable intake experience about twice the risk of cancer compared with those with high intake.

Body Mass Index

Health professionals consider the body mass index or BMI as a reliable means of identifying health risks in people due to obesity. BMI takes into account an individual’s weight and height. It can be calculated by dividing ones weight in pounds by the height in inches squared multiplied by 703. A person with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered over weight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or more is obese.

Benefits of Fasting and Taraweeh

It takes motivation and commitment for a permanent change in eating habits. Just like animals can be tamed by planned feeding and hunger intervals, much self-control can be developed in human beings through fasting. Fasting not only nurtures the soul, but the body through a voluntary control of physical desires. Depending on the correct and consistent choice of food consumed at dawn and dusk, fasting prevents formation of atheroma, lowers serum cholesterol and triglycerides. Serum Magnesium also increases during fasting-which has a cardio-protective role.

Studies reveal that underfed animals live longer and suffer less from disease than overfed ones. Just a few of the many diseases that benefit from fasting are hypertension, diabetes, obesity and osteo-arthritis. There is enhanced secretion of growth hormone by the pituitary gland during fasting. Besides stimulating erythropoeisis, increased insulin response etc., GH stimulates protein and collagen synthesis-hence preventing the skin of those who fast regularly from wrinkling. Opiods or narcotic-like substances are released during fasting, producing tranquility and elation.

The benefits of the five times Salah, as well as the optional Taraweeh Salah helps each and every muscle in the body contract. This increases blood flow and improves physical strength. Gentle exercise, as in prayer and in the Taraweeh prayer increases bone mineral density at sites of maximal stress, for example, during Ruku and Sujood, thus reducing osteoporosis. When blood sugar levels begin to rise after Iftar, the Taraweeh helps oxidise the circulating glucose to carbon dioxide and water during prayer.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Food for one man is enough for two, and that for two is enough for three, and that for three is enough for four.” (Bukhari)