August 4, 2009
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This talk was given last year and was highly acclaimed and InshAllah, this year on August 17th, Muhammad Al Shareef is presenting another highly anticipated talk live, titled “The Fasting and the Furious”. I got a chance to watch/listen to “Towards An Outstanding Ramadan” on Youtube today and decided to share some notes I took down as I listened. Here we go:
- When Allah(swt) gives the command to fast, the ayah begins with “O you who believe…” – this is always important to note, as either a) some good will be highlighted for you to do, or b) you will be warned about some harm that may come to you for a certain act.
- Various religions today have some remnant of fasting, modified from the original fast but only Islam has the original method of fasting preserved through centuries. SubhanAllah!
- What is your goal for Ramadan? It is illogical not to have a goal – like a traveller who would turn up at the airport without knowing the destination he wanted to travel to!
- Imagine Ramadan as a “marathon”. There are some who are just spectators at the start and finish lines (likened to those who just worship at the start and end of Ramadan). In the middle are the participants who’re putting in all the effort to win the race, from the start to the finish, likened to those who do Ibadah throughout, consistently.
- Ramadan is the month of feeding people – giving charity, cooking food for the needy. It is not about about eating more ourselves or attending dinner parties where we stuff ourselves with food.
- We have lots of excuses for not being regular in prayers or not waking for Fajr or being unable to control anger throughout the year. In Ramadan, we are able to do many of these things – there is no substance in “excuses” then – we are only lying to our ownselves.
- Ramadan is a time to build up Taqwa. There are only two instances in Islam where Halal things are temporarily denied for us – in the Hajj (eg: cutting hair) and during Ramadan (eg: not having food while fasting) – why? It is to…
– recognize the blessings we have and
– to train the body to avoid what is Haram
This is training for after Ramadan!
- The Imam of a masjid is the person to look to – he leads the prayers throughout the day, is not able to attend iftaar parties that are far away as he has to be in the masjid. What about the people who come to the masjid? Very easily, they cite an iftaar party far away from the masjid as the excuse for missing Taraweeh.
- The Imam cannot eat much at Iftaar as he has to lead Maghrib and Isha, then Taraweeh while the people stuff themselves with food and then are late for Taraweeh.
- We have forgotten past Ramadan that we spent but is there any time that we particularly remember? Usually, it has something to do with offering Taraweeh regularly and with concentration – it makes Ramadan unforgettable!
- Ramadan makes us disciplined – why not continue after Ramadan?
- Make your intention now – do not be like the traveller who shows up at the airport and does not know his destination.
August 3, 2009
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“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn.” (2:183)
Ramadan is fast approaching and I’ve been spending the past few days trying to get that into my head – it’s time to pick up the pace and prepare for Ramadan in the right way. I’ve still got under two weeks of vacation to go before college starts again so this is a golden opportunity to spend more time reading or listening to the Quran, audio lectures on various subjects and organizing other tasks. Every year, I enter Ramadan with a lot of excitement and zeal, only to slack off very early and this time, I’m hoping that preparing myself early on will protect me from going off track later on. Besides, every time we get to experience this amazing month, it’s a huge blessing from Allah(swt) – how many people have passed away during this year after the last Ramadan?
Allah(swt) commands us to fast and then tells us that the purpose of fasting is to become Muttaqoon – those who have Taqwa. Taqwa means piety or being conscious of Allah(swt), avoiding sin out of that awareness and happily doing good deeds for His Pleasure. When you think about it, does everyone who fast become such a kind of person or even close to it at the end of Ramadan? Everyone can analyse their ownselves here. If the answer is ‘no’ or something like that, we’ve missed the whole point of fasting. Sadly, that’s what we’re doing every passing year – not all of us, but many – and that’s why Ramadan’s coming and going makes no positive difference, may Allah forgive us!
Part of the reason for such a tragedy is that we don’t prepare for Ramadan at all. Washing your face and sitting down at the table for Suhoor on the first day of Ramadan is not what preparing for Ramadan is about. Checking out the Iftaar deals in your favorite restaurants is not preparation either. Fasting is for the pleasure of Allah(swt) and to strive to become more righteous in our relationship to Him and to His creation so that’s what our preparation should be about. But how does one prepare the soul and body for that?
Preparing the soul:
(Preparing the body is pretty useless without focusing on the soul)
- Read more Quran than in usual days, reflect and ponder upon it’s meaning
- Listen to Quran audio tapes or mp3 on your ipods, car CD players, etc. by your favorite Qari
- Read inspiring books geared at cleansing yourself of wrong characteristics, such as “The Ideal Muslim” and “The Ideal Muslimah” by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi
- Try to develop a routine that you can carry into Ramadan – such as one juz of the Quran recited after Asar prayer everday
- Try to offer your prayers in the golden timings – immediately after the Adhaan (except Ish’aa which is preferably delayed an hour or two)
- Become more conscious of all the wrong you’re doing as Ramadan is the time to work off those habits
- Keep a close check on the words you’re uttering, your relationship with your parents and other people close to you
- In the days leading up to Ramadan, try to wake up for Tahajjud if you don’t do that already
Preparing the body:
- Eat a little less than usual if you’re not already on the way of the Sunnah (that is, keeping only one-third of the stomach for food, one-third for water and one-third empty)
- Try to cut down on your sleeping hours to put in more time for Ibadah in Ramadan
- Something I’d like to do is take this opportunity to give up one bad eating habits (at least) this Ramadan, like giving up certain ‘junk’ foods InshAllah
- Try and go without food for six hours at least between meals, to prepare the body metabolism to adapt to the change
That’s what I can share right now. I’ve got to apply it all on myself first InshAllah. I really, really, really hope you all have an outstanding Ramadan InshAllah that strengthens the soul, liberating us from all the shackles that hold us back from worshipping our Lord and then carry that on throughout the year… Ameen!
“And I (Allâh) created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me.“ (Quran 51:56)