Archive for July, 2013


Ramadan Review 2013-1434

[This is a series of posts to chart how well I do with my Ramadan goals. Last week’s review is here.]

OMG – Ramadan is half way over!! How did this happen so fast?! Ugh, it’ll be gone before we know it! 😦 And worse, I’m not happy with the way that this week has gone. I’ve been on my praycation for most of it, and so I was hoping to really get ahead on a lot of things. Well, I haven’t. The only things I’ve done this week that I’m really proud of are to keep up with the exercise and the blogging. We went out for Iftar at my grandma’s on Sunday and went to Bab Ezzouar shopping centre yesterday, so I basically have no routine whatsoever at this point. I need routine. Routine is how I meet my goals. No routine = lazy Sarah. It’s not good. This is what my week has looked like with regards to my Ramadan goals:

Things I will do:

  1. Pray Taraweeh: 2/2 I’m now on my praycation, so this is as much as I could do.
  2. Read the whole Qur’an: 19/30 I am so not happy with this. I have basically read just one juz’ since Sunday. I’m glad that I was ahead on this, and I know that the last 4 Juz’ will be easy for me to read because I either know them, or am very familiar with them, so I would really like to finish the last 11 Juz’ this week. It’s definitely possible, I just have to get on with it.
  3. Pray 2 rakat before/after every prayer: 5/5 Alhamdulillah, for the few days I was praying this week, I had no problem doing this at all.
  4. Blog a minimum of 3 times a week: 3/3 YAY! I actually managed this one! Alhamdulillah, Inshallah I’ll keep it up.

Things I’d like to do:

  1. Revise at least 4 hizbs of Qur’an: 0/0 I did start on this one, but then I stopped. So I haven’t done anything on it.
  2. Exercise 3-4 times a week: 3/3  Alhamdulillah, this one’s going strong! 😀
  3. Say extra duas / adhkar along with my daily dhikr: 1/2 Unfortunately, I haven’t been all that great with this one. I’ve said my extra dua & adhkar about half the time, but I’ve also started to slip on my regular ones in the morning. I feel like I really need to clean up my act on this one. 😦
  4. Listen to Qur’an: 0/0 You know how I said I’d download some Qur’an last week? Yeah, still hasn’t happened.

Things I won’t do:

  1. Watch crappy TV (except The Biggest Loser): 7/7 Like last week, I’ve had no time to even consider doing this.
  2. Spend hours in the kitchen: 7/7 This one’s also going really well. Alhamdulillah our menu planning thing has really worked. 🙂
  3. Overeat: I’m a little unsure about this one as I haven’t been logging my food diary since I stopped fasting. Worse, I’m  eating quite a bit at night, but eating a meal in the day too.  :/

So for this week I need to focus on:

  • Reading the Qur’an. Inshallah I’d like to finish this week.
  • Revise one hizb. I’m really shooting for two, but I’m trying to be moderate.
  • Sort out my morning adhkar because it’s ridiculous that I’ve done so well for so long, and now it’s Ramadan I’m not saying them. Grrr.
  • Resume food diary, because stuffing myself is not Islamic.

I would still like to download the Qur’an to listen to it, but it’s not as much of a priority as the other things. What about you – how’s you’re week gone?

Ali-Imran, 133

Bargain Duas

Bargain Duas, Adhkar

Being as it is Ramadan and the Prophet (pbuh) really encouraged us to make dua (He said: “There are in the month of Ramadhan in every day and night those to whom Allah  grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication  which he can make and will be granted.” [Ahmad, Saheeh]), I’ve compiled a list of dua / adhkar that I want to make this month in addition to my usual ones. (I’m trying to keep my Ramadan goals going!) I’ve picked ones that I consider to be absolute bargains (I’m a shopper, shopping analogies work for me. Roll with it.), that is Duas / Adhkar that are short, easy and pack serious rewards. The ones I have picked are:

  1. Seek Forgiveness for Muslims, dead and alive: The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever seeks forgiveness for believing men and believing women, Allah will write for him a good deed for each believing man and believing woman.” (Al-Albani declared it Hasan.) Ask forgiveness for believers alive today and you get 1.75 BILLION rewards instantly. If you pray for the living and the dead, then, allowing for exponential growth, I conservatively estimate around 3 Billion rewards. One dua: 3 billion rewards. See why it’s top of the list? 😉
  2. سبحان الله وبحمده Subhanallah wa bihamdih x 100 am & pm: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ[peace be upon him] said: ‘Whoever says subhan Allah wa bi hamdih (praise and glory be to Allah) 100 times, morning and evening, his sins will be erased even if they are like the foam on the sea.” (Bukhari & Muslim) And in another hadith he (pbuh) said “Whoever recites this one hundred times in the morning and in the evening will not be surpassed on the Day of Resurrection by anyone having done better than this except for someone who had recited it more.” (Bukhari) Need I say more?
  3. سبحان الله Subhanallah x 100: According to a hadith in Muslim, if a person says, “Subhan Allah (glory be to Allah),” 100 times, a thousand good deeds are recorded for him and a thousand bad deeds are wiped away. (Muslim) Again, enough said.
  4. لا إله إلا الله، وحده لا شريك له، له الملك وله الحمد، وهو على كل شيء فدير La Ilaha Ila Allah, wahdau la sharika lahu, lahu almulk wa lahu alhamd, wa huwa ala kuli shayin qadir x 1o am: Abu Hurayrah narrated that the messenger (pbuh) said: “Allah will write one hundred hasanat for whoever says ‘There is no God but Allah alone, He has no partner. To Allah is possession of everything, and to Him all praise is due. He is Capable of all things.’ ten times in the morning, and forgive him one hundred sins. he will have the reward of freeing a slave and will be protected from Satan throughout the day unto dusk. Whoever says it in the evening will have the same reward.” (Ahmad, Ibn Baz declared it Hasan). I was doing this last Ramadan, but 100 times, and it was just too much to maintain after Ramadan – I had to sit down and concentrate to do it and that doesn’t work very well for me, long term. 😦

And that’s it! Nothing too complicated, nothing too difficult. Simple, easy and hugely beneficial Inshallah on the scales of the next life.

What extra dua / adhkar are you saying in Ramadan?

Ramadan Review 2013-1434

The first week of Ramadan is over and it feels like was an eternity. Alhamdulillah I don’t feel tired out or beat yet, I just can’t believe it’s only been one week! At the same time, I can’t believe that this is ¼ over. 😥 No likey. Last week I set myself some goals (and so did my friend!), and here I’d like to review them to see how I’m getting on and what needs to change and what needs to stay the same. Here goes:

Things I will do:

  1. Pray Taraweeh: 7/7 Alhamdulillah I’ve done this every night all week, and, because the mosques are reading one hizb a night and I’m doing 2, I’m actually ahead of them. This means that even when I have my praycation (seriously ❤ that word 😀 ) I’ll still be ahead. Booyah!
  2. Read the whole Qur’an: 14/30 I didn’t read any  Qur’an the first day, and then made up for it the next by reading 5 juz’      in one day. To be honest, I’ve done well with this because it’s easy for me to read the surahs that I know, but now that I’m in unchartered territories I’m talking it much slower – just the normal one juz’ per day. Alhamdulillah, I’ve still completed 14 Juz’, so I’m nearly half way there. Yay!
  3. Pray 2 rakat before/after every prayer: 4/5 Well I always do this for at least 4 prayers out of 5. Dhuhr, Asr and Maghrib (<– I thought this would be a challenge) are no problem, so it comes down to whether or not I pray Taraweeh immediately after Isha or delay it until before Fajr (I’m counting Qiyam in the last part of the night for Fajr, too). Either way, I need to sort this one out. From now on, even if I delay Taraweeh, I don’t take off my hijab after Isha until I’ve prayed 2 extra rakat, and I always leave Shaf’ & Witr until Fajr.
  4. Blog a minimum of 3 times a week: 1/3 (I’m counting last week’s ramadan plan post.) This I really need to pick up. I have 2 topics in mind, plus this post I’ll have three, but I have to write them within the next 24 hours and then I can schedule them for Friday and Sunday inshallah.

Things I’d like to do:

  1. Revise at least 4 hizbs of Qur’an: 0/0 Although I originally said that I’d do this after I’d finished reading the Qur’an, I’ve now changed my mind. I’m so ahead with my reading, and I’ve slowed down to a more manageable amount, so I have the time and focus to do this too Inshallah.
  2. Exercise 3-4 times a week: 3/3  I did this!!!! I’m soooo proud of myself for doing this Alhamdulillah. I work out for 25mins on the evenings when it’s my sister’s turn to do the washing up and that’s working for me so far. (Watching the Biggest Loser motivates me too 😉 .)
  3. Say extra duas / adhkar along with my daily dhikr: 0/0 I went through the dua app on my phone and picked out the ones I want to say, but I haven’t looked at it since. I need these on a list. Inshallah I’ve decided to put them together and publish them as a post. (NB: I have been doing my regular adhkar – it’s just the extras I keep forgetting.)
  4. Listen to Qur’an: 0/0 I haven’t even downloaded it to my phone ( I don’t like the reciter I have). Inshallah I’ll do this today.

Things I won’t do:

  1. Watch crappy TV (except The Biggest Loser – whilst stuffing my face): 7/7 I haven’t had time to watch anything else.
  2. Spend hours in the kitchen: 7/7      Alhamdulillah this one’s been easy to keep up. The most I’ve ever spent was 2hrs (and part of that is due to how slow I move just before Maghrib – seriously, it’s like slow mo). A major factor was in having a meal plan which divides the work fairly evenly between my mum, sister and I.
  3. Overeat: 7/7 I reckon I’ve done this one really well. I haven’t been that hungry at iftar time, but I snack during the night, and I’ve got that taken care of as well      Alhamdulillah. There have been times when I’ve felt uncomfortable, but that was liquids, as I’ve been drinking about 3litres every night.

Okay, so this week I mostly just want to keep up the good work, and add the following:

  • Focus on praying 2 rakat after Isha if I delay Taraweeh, and always pray 2 before Fajr if I don’t.
  • Write 2 blog posts and schedule them for Friday and Sunday.
  • Revise one hizb of Qur’an. (I’m starting bottom up, because they’re much neglected by me)
  • Actually write my dua list and make time to do them.
  • Download Qur’an recitation and put it on my iPhone. (I’ll listen when in the kitchen.)

Over to you guys: How’s Ramadan been for you and your goals so far? What has gone well? What do you need to work on?

Ramadan Plan 2013 / 1434

Tis that time of year again. Not the New Year, nor the Islamic New Year, but Ramadan: the month where good deeds are worth more, the devils are locked up (good riddance) and by sheer necessity all routines are adapted, modified or completely redone. As is my habit, I’ve got some goals for this Ramadan. Like last year, I’m going to break my goals down according to what I want to do (like, really really want to do), what I’d like to do and what I won’t do Inshallah.

To be honest, my goals feel very repetitive – it’s like I do the same things every year. But then again, I guess that’s what I do. 😀

Things I will do:

  1. Pray Taraweeh. (I’ll do this at home – the mosques in my area aren’t that good – after Isha or before Fajr or between the two.)
  2. Read the whole Qur’an. (I take advantage of the early enthusiasm at the beginning by reading extra, which keeps me motivated, which helps me to finish.)
  3. Pray 2 rakat before/after every prayer. (Taraweeh after Isha is included in this.)
  4. Blog a minimum of 3 times a week. <– This is important to me because I really need to blog more often Inshallah, and if I find a blogging groove then I hope that it’ll last outside of Ramadan too. I’m hoping to write three posts in one go and schedule them throughout the week Inshallah.

Things I’d like to do:

  1. Revise at least 4 hizbs of Qur’an. I think I’ll probably start this after I’ve finished reading the Qur’an. Also, I’ll be praying with the same hizb / juz throughout the beginning of Ramadan which will help me to revise them.
  2. Exercise 3-4 times a week. (Side note: I’m so unfit these days 😦 ) I can only do this at night, probably on the nights when it’s my sister’s turn to do the washing up.
  3. Say extra duas / adhkar along with my daily dhikr. (which I have kept up from last Ramadan 😀 ) I have a list of Duas / dhikr I want to say, and I’m going to stick it to my bedroom wall to remind me Inshallah.
  4. Listen to Qur’an. I’ve gotten out of the habit of this and it’s important as it helps me revise / memorise. I’m going to download a recitation I like and put it on my iphone Inshallah.

Things I won’t do:

  1. Watch crappy TV (with the exception of The Biggest Loser – don’t ask, it’s a weird Ramadan family tradition). I will maybe watching documentaries, but I need to catch up on my blog reading first. I simply haven’t downloaded anything to watch, so that’s pretty much taken care of.
  2. Spend hours in the kitchen. I tend to get caught up in Ramadan with all the food I’d love to eat, and then I spend ages in the kitchen cooking, experimenting or washing dishes, so I’d like to cut back on this, just to keep it in proportion. To do this, we’ve got a Ramadan menu so that we know what we have to do and it’s planned so that nobody has to be in there all day.
  3. Overeat. I did well on this last year, and I so want to keep it up this year Inshallah. I’m going to be using myfitnesspal.com to track my meals Inshallah.

Ok, there we have it: this year’s Ramadan plan. May Allah make it easy.

Do you have any goals for Ramadan this year? How do you intend to fit them in Inshallah?

Ramadan Rulings Refresher

A few years ago I read Hilali’s book Fasting in Ramadan (which I highly recommend) and took a load of notes. Over the following years, I’ve just read through those notes as a reminder of the rulings concerning Ramadan and to refresh my memory. It’s worked well for me, so I thought I’d share them with my Aqeedah class (which I teach once a week in English)and it was a success with them, so I thought I’d share it here too. Here goes:

Ramadan was only made obligatory in the year 2H, 15 years after the start of the revelation, as Allah Ta’la said:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.

(Surah Al-Baqarah: 185)

I broke down the rulings regarding fasting into three groups: before fasting, while fasting and after fasting, because it just makes it easier to keep track of.

Before fasting:

1)     It’s important to have the intention to fast before fajr. You don’t say it out loud, and basically if you plan on fasting the whole month, your intention is already sorted.

2)     Suhoor (aka: breakfast / brekkie / nom-nom am / etc):

This is a meal that is recommended for fasting people to eat just before fajr prayer. The reason for it’s importance is that it distinguishes us from the people of the book, as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) : “The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is the taking of the pre-dawn meal (suhoor).” (Muslim)

Also, the reward of this meal is pretty great, the Messenger (pbuh) said: “The suhor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a (gulp) of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take suhoor.” (Ahmad). So basically that means: Blessings + Mercy + Forgiveness = Suhoor. I like that equation.

While fasting:

1)     Things that nullify your fast:

These are the things that if you do, you eat and drink the rest of the day and make up the fast after Ramadan. They are:

a)    Eating & drinking (duh!)

b)    Periods / post-natal bleeding.

c)    Intercourse.

d)    Injections that provide nourishment (note: anaesthetic doesn’t nourish, so dental work is ok!)

e)    Making yourself vomit. This is gross, I know, but if you vomit unintentionally and you swallow some of it back down, then that also breaks your fast. Throwing up unintentionally and not swallowing any of it doesn’t break the fast.

2)     Things that are allowed while fasting:

Basically, everything is allowed except that which the evidence dictates is not allowed. Common causes of confusion (could I get anymore C’s in? lol) that are A-ok, include:

a)    Starting fasting before doing Ghusl for Jannabah / after a period.

b)    Having showers.

c)    Using a siwak.

d)    Washing your mouth and nose out – but do it gently. No industrial gargling. Heck, no gargling at all: you run the risk of accidentally swallowing it.

e)    Tasting food – just be sure to spit it out afterwards.

f)       Using Kohl, and putting anything in the eye, providing it doesn’t leave a taste in the throat.

g)    Toothpaste, provided you don’t swallow it and you spit it out very thoroughly.

3)     Things we’re not allowed to do, but don’t require us to make up the days:

a)    Lying

b)    Ignorant / indecent speech, which includes swearing, gossiping, etc.

Obligatory acts of worship are done for two reasons: obligation and reward. Someone who does either of the things above loses the reward for fasting, but has still fulfilled their obligation. This is the person of whom the Messenger (pbuh) said: “It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from his fasting.” (Ibn Majah & Ahmad)

After fasting:

It is sunnah to break the fast before praying Maghrib, but after the Adhan obviously. It’s also sunnah to rush to break the fast because, like Suhoor this distinguishes us from the people of the book, as well as being a sign that we’re still following the Sunnah and doing good. As the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

While it’s ok to break the fast with anything (my brothers have been known to pick a few chips to break their fast with, the gits), Anas said: “The Prophet (pbuh) used to break the fast with fresh dates before praying, and if not with fresh dates then with older dates, and if not with dates then with some mouthfuls of water.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The dua for breaking the fast is:

ذهب الظمأ، وابتلت العروق، وثبت الأجر إن شاء الله.

Thahabadhdhama’u wabtallatil-‘urooqu, wa thabatal-‘ajru ‘inshaa’Allaah.

The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills. (Abu Dawud – no 176 in the Fortress of the Believer)

And don’t forget that this is a great time to make Dua generally, as the Prophet (pbuh) said: “There are three whose supplications are not rejected: the fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just ruler and the supplication of the oppressed.” (Tirmidhi). This means that while you’re breaking the fast you can ask for anything – just don’t make it too long, remember you still have to pray Maghrib.

In addition to this, I just want to include a note about the hadith that states that the first ten days of Ramadan are for mercy, the second for forgiveness, and the last for salvation from the fire. You see, this hadith is, at best, weak. But more accurately, it’s a fabrication. It ain’t true people! When I first found this out, it really shook me – I’d heard it for so long, subhanallah! And then it’s like duh! Allah’s mercy and forgiveness are timeless, and people are saved from the fire throughout Ramadan.

May Allah make this a blessed Ramadan, in which all our sins are wiped clean, many good deeds are written for us and we come closer to Allah.

Ameen.