Category: Uncategorized


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?

Yay!!! Fireworks!!! Why can’t we use them in HALAL celebrations? 😦

Meaning:

The Arabic term ‘Mawlid’ is used to refer to the birthday of someone important. Sufi’s use it for their Sheikhs’ birthdays, and it’s most common use is for the birthday of the prophet: al-Mawlid an-Nabawi.

Timing:

The sunnis celebrate it on the 12th of Rabi’ al-awwal, while the Shiites celebrate it on the 17th, which also happens to coincide with the birth of their 6th Imam (Jafar As-Sadiq – so it’s sort of a double celebration).

However, according to the almanac, his birthday was on the 9th of Rabi al-awwal. And, until not that long ago, his birthday was called “Bara Wafat” by some, which means “Day of Death”. This is because it’s a celebration of what is commonly held to be the day of his death. If you want to know more about the whole timing of the birthday (and how utterly unimportant it was in Arab culture at the time, and to the prophet’s companions) read this fantastic article on the topic. Or skim through it, like I did.

History:

At the end of the 11th Century AD (so about the 400 years after the death of the prophet), in Egypt, the ruling Fatimid dynasty (who were Shiite, fyi) started to observe 4 Mawlid celebrations throughout the year. They were for:

1)     The Prophet (pbuh)

2)     Fatimah (AS)

3)     Ali (AS)

4)     The Ruling Khalif

Essentially, the Khalif decreed his birthday to be a special holiday, and he knew that the only way he was gonna get away with it was to include Allah’s messenger and – because he was Shiite – Ahl al-bayt (the prophet’s family).

The celebration itself consisted of a grand procession of the courtiers during the day, with three khutbahs preached at the end in front of the khalifah. It is part of Islamic tradition to have two khutbahs on days of celebration (the two Eids and Jumuah), so they’re instituting three goes above and beyond the sunnah. It’s like “woah!”

The first recorded Sunni festival was at the beginning of the 13th Century in Iraq. People travelled to attend two months in advance, with the partying starting a month before. And by ‘partying’ I mean partying: they had jugglers, musicians, entertainers, etc all out on the streets of the city. Then the evening before there was a torchlight procession which passed through the town and on the actual day there was a Khutbah and a super-lavish feast. Super-lavish, I tell ya. Thousands of sheep, oxen, etc were slaughtered for dinner. I bet they had Shawarma back then…

Anyways, the tradition spread across the Muslim world mainly because of Sufis, who liked to celebrate the birthdays of their Sheikhs too, as this was in their heyday.

It is Haram for several reasons:

1)     It isn’t from the sunnah, nor from the Salaf.

Allah’s messenger (pbuh) said:

“Stick to my sunnah and the sunnah of my rightly guided Khalifs, cling to it firmly with your molar teeth. Beware of newly invented matters, for every new matter is an innovation and every innovation is misleading.

[Ahmad 4/126 & Tirmidhi No 2676]

So basically, doing something new is essentially ignoring and disbelieving in Allah’s statement:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي

… This day, I have perfected your religion for you, and completed My Favour upon you …

(Surah Al-Maidah:3)

Also, just because you have a good intention about something doesn’t make it halal. Trust me, I could have a lot of great intentions about eating a haram Big Mac, but it still wouldn’t be Halal.

2)     It is an imitation of Christmas.

In the early days it was celebrated in the same way that Christians celebrated Christmas – a sermon and a feast. Why is this wrong? Because the Messenger (pbuh) said:

“Be different from the Mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Allah)”.

[Saheeh Muslim]

He also said:

“Whoever imitates or resembles a people is one of them.

[Ahmad 2/05 & Abu Dawud 4/314]

3)     It’s exaggerating in honouring the prophet.

He (pbuh) said:

“Do not exaggerate (i.e. in praise and honour) in me, as the Christians exaggerated about the son of Maryam. I am only a slave, so say ‘the slave and messenger of Allah’.

[Bukhari 4/142, no 3445]

He also said:

“Beware of exaggeration for those before were destroyed due to exaggeration.”

[Nasa’ee no 2863]

4)     It opens the doors to other innovations.

Such as mixing, celebrating other innovative days, Sufism, etc.

Regarding Omar Ibn Al-Khattab’s statement “What a good bidah this is!”

Ibn Taymiyyah explained it by saying that the word ‘Bidah’ has two meanings:

1)     Linguistic: which is anything new or original. So you could say “Ooh! The design of that skirt is a beautiful Bidah.”

2)     Technical (i.e. in the Shariah): which means anything for which there is no basis in the Shariah. So any new laws, rules, prayers, etc.

Regarding the following Hadith:

Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari narrated, ‘There came a man to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, why do you fast on Mondays?” He (pbuh) replied, “That is the day on which I was born and the day on which I was entrusted with the Mission or when I was first given Revelation.”

[Saheeh Muslim]

Some people use this hadith as an argument for the celebration of al-Mawlid an-Nabawi, which is amusing given that it’s actually an argument against it, because:

–  Fasting on Mondays is an act that has been allowed and encouraged by the Messenger (pbuh) on a weekly basis. If a blowout celebration once a year were permissible and good, don’t you think he’d have been the first to do it? Who knew more about what’s good in terms of remembering Allah’s messenger: you or him?

– His (pbuh) ‘celebration’ (if that’s what you want to call it – but really? What’s so fun about NOT eating? Doh!) involves worship – one of the most beloved acts of worship before Allah that is done only for His Sake alone, and is, in fact, a form of worship that we are expressly forbidden from performing on days of great celebration (i.e. the two Eids, and – not quite forbidden, but almost – on Fridays). So what this means is that what this hadith is referring to is not a celebration, but rather a symbol of gratitude to Allah that He created the Messenger (pbuh) and sent His Revelation.

–  If these people don’t fast on Mondays (and let’s be real – very few do), then they have no claim of following the Messenger’s way or of honouring him especially, as Allah Ta’la said:

أَتَسْتَبْدِلُونَ الَّذِي هُوَ أَدْنَىٰ بِالَّذِي هُوَ خَيْرٌ

… Would you exchange that which is better for that which is lower? …

(Surah Al-Baqarah:61)

And as a final point, I’ll leave with Albani’s words on this:

“So, where are the scholars who defend Mawlid, why don’t they enlighten the people that fasting on Monday is the legislated celebration of Mawlid (i.e., birthday of Allah’s Messenger)? And why don’t they encourage the people to it instead of defending the unlegislated celebration?”

So, to summarise:

–          Mawlid – not really the Prophet’s bday.

–          Shiites first came up with it, about 400 years after the Prophet (pbuh) died. It took another 200 years for the Sunnis to start.

–          It’s not allowed.

–          If you really want to show your love for the prophet and gratitude to Allah for creating him and sending the revelation, fast Mondays.

It’s Dhul Hijjah, yo!

Eyes on the prize, people 😉

I know, that’s a terrbile blog post title. But I’ve seen so many serious ones that I simply decided to take a different route. Anyways, this post is more a summary than a detailed analysis, but Inshallah it serves as a reminder.

Ibn Hajr said in Al-Fat’h Al-Bary (His explanaintion of Sahih Al-Bukhari):

It appears that the reason for the specialness of the 10 (days) of Dhul Hijjah is due to the possibility of uniting the mothers of worship during them, and they (the mothers of worship) are: prayer, fasting, charity and Hajj, and this does not come about in any other time.

 What is recommended for us to do during these days:

1 – Prayer:

Thawban (RA) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:

“You must frequently prostrate to Allah, for you do not prostrate to Allah a single prostration except that Allah raises you with it a level and removes from you a wrongdoing with it.” (Muslim) – This is a general Hadith that applies to all time, not just Dhul Hijjah.

2 – Fasting:

Imam An-Nawawi said regearding fasting during these ten days that it is strongly recommended.

From Hunaidah Bin Khalid, from his wife from some of the wives of the Prophet (saw) said:

“The messenger of Allah (saw) used to fast nine (days) of dhul hijjah, and the day of Ashura, and three days of every month.” (Ahmad, Dawud and Nasai).

3 – Takbir, Tahmid and Tahlil.

That is, saying Allahu Akbar (Takbir), Alhamdulillah (Tahmid) and La Ilaha Ila Allah (Tahlil). Also, it is recommended that takbir is said aloud.

Manner:

– Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbaru Kabria.

– Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilaha ila Allah, wa Allahu akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahi Alhamd.

– Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, la ilaha ila Allah, wa Allahu akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahi Alhamd.

4 – Fast the day of Arafat:

He (saw) said:

“I hope for Allah to wipe out (the sins of) the previous year and the following year.” (Muslim) This is specific and unique to Arafat.

5 – The blessing of slaughter.

He (saw) said:

“The greatest day to Allah is the day of slaughter, then the day of Al-Qar.” (The day of Al-Qar is the day when the pilgrims stay in Mina on the 11th of Dhul Hijjah.)

What should we focus on during these blessed days?

1 – True and sincere Tawbah.

2 – Honest and serious determination to make the most of them with what pleases Allah.

What is to be avoided by the one who wishes to slaughter:

He (saw) said:

“ If the ten (days) begin and one of you wishes to slaughter, then he should withhold from (cutting) his hair and nails.” (Ahmad and Muslim)

Note: this only applies to the actual person who will slaughter the sheep – not the entire household. The reason/wisdom behind this is that the slaughterer shares with the pilgrim in some of the rites of Hajj, specifically the sacrifice.

Some interesting links on this topic include:

Productive Muslim came up with 6 simple ways to try to gain Allah’s pleasure during these 10 days for all the family.

Here is an excellent summary of the virtues of these ten days, with a longer, more detailed version here.

And in the interest of not forgetting that this is the time for Hajj, here’s a great list of ways to get kids learning about the pilgrimage (ugh! Why is that word so hard to spell?!), and for those actually going (I actually think that most have left by now, so this is kinda late, but whatevs.) there’s this list of 106 tips to help your hajj go well.

Have you read any interesting / novel / useful posts about Dhul Hijjah lately? If so, please share! Do you have any specific plans to make the most of these ten days?

 

No monthly goals. Sorta.

A baby cardigan, pair of mittens, and pair of booties I knitted for a relative.

So, I’ve been a little absent recently trying to figure out more goals, whilst getting my actual life (as opposed to the fantastical fake life I live in my head) into some kind of gear. As a result I’ve decided to scrap the whole monthly goals thing for this month, which of course is handy given that we’re nearly half way through the month. My only intentions are to keep doing what I’ve been doing. So that means:

– Keep up with my morning / evening dua.

– Pray 4 rakat 4 times a week.

– Read / memorise / revise some portion of the Qur’an every day. (Basically: PICK. THE. BOOK. UP. every day.)

– Keep blogging twice a week.

– And keep up with healthy stuff (food diary, exercise, etc).

And would you look at that! I have goals people! Exactly what I said I wouldn’t have.

Hmmmm.

Well, in that case I might as well add in these two:

– Finish reading the whole Qur’an again.

– Seriously make the most of Dhul Hijjah.

Et voila! October goals.

What you been up to lately?

Well, this is the last post of September. It’s been a so-so week – for some reason I haven’t been sleeping well (a reason that may or may not include watching TV) and it’s hard to stick to anything when you’ve no willpower, because you’re too tired. 😦 Generally speaking, this week was simply more of the same: it was very like last week and the one before that, as you can see:

Things I will do Inshallah:

1) Finish reading the Qur’an.

2) Perform 4 Rakat of voluntary prayer a day 4 times a week.

Done! Alhamdulillah I did this. I find that praying two rakat of the Duha prayer (mid-morning) helps to set me up for the rest of the day. I often have prayed the four rakat before Asr, which is nice.

3) Morning and evening Dua.

I’ve kept up with this almost every day, Alhamdulillah.

4) Work on my thesis for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week

Again, nothing.

5) Read the Qur’an again in its entirety.

Nope.

Things I’d like to do, but might not:

1) Blog twice a week.

Mission accomplished! Which is really surprising to me, because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this.

2) Revise three hizbs from the end of the Qur’an.

Nope.

3) Keep a food diary.

7/7 – Hey hey!

I still feel a bit meh about this week, although I do feel it was better than last week. I’m trying to psych myself up for October now, because the Lord knows, I need to pick some of these things up. In addition to the above, I’ve also sort of got back to teaching, but it’s yet to cement, I’ve had knee problems, so I haven’t been exercising like I should and I’ve been reading magazines online more than books (not crap magazines, FYI, just not generally Islamic ones).

I don’t think this month went anywhere near as well as Ramadan, and I’ll probably post up a short review soon, as well as deciding what to focus on for October (bearing in mind Eid-Al-Adha will be at the end of the month).

How about you? How’s your week been?

Patience – Part II

[These are my notes taken from “Patience and Gratitude: An Abridged translation of Uddat As-Sabirin Wa Dhakhirat Ash-Shakirin by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah” translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab. So I hereby give you the summary of a summary. 🙂 Oh, and the first part is here. ]

Sabr – Patience

When do we need patience?

1)  For worship: in order to perform it regularly, sincerely and correctly.

2)   To keep from wrong, through:

–     haya’ (shyness or shame) before Allah.

–     Learning more about Allah (this is the importance of learning His Names and Attributes).

–     Fear of punishment.

3)   In accepting Allah’s will, through:

–     Husn a-Dhun, or thinking well, both of Allah and of His creation, including people.

–     Remembering Allah’s previous blessings, as Luqman said to his son:

31:17
Oh my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong; and bear with patience whatever befalls you; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs. (Surah Luqman : 17).

The worst and hardest type of patience is in trying to keep away from our Lord, as this contradicts a person’s natural state (fitrah).

How to strengthen patience:

1)   Through knowledge of Allah and His attributes, because if you love someone, you should want to be like them. It’s a case of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery. Also, it enables you to attain Allah’s love, as He is with those whom He loves, and He loves those with His characteristics. And as Allah has said:

2:153
O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer, verily Allah is with those who patiently persevere (Surah Al-Baqarah: 153).

2)   By taking action to reduce temptations, and surrounding yourself with positive reinforcement as much as possible.

Tools to develop patience:

1)   Remember the glory and greatness of Allah and that He is too great to be sinned against.

2)  Remember that if we love Allah, as we claim, then we should not disobey Him.

3)  Think of all that He has given us – do not sin against one who has bestowed so much on you.

4)  Think of the wrath and punishment for those who sin.

5)  Think of what you have to lose: iman (faith), the next life, etc.

6)  Relish the idea of defeating satan.

7)  Remember the reward and compensation of Allah.

8)  Be mindful of death.

9)  Stop thinking of falsehoods and rubbish.

10) Gradually strengthen yourself by defeating your whims and desires, etc, because the more you do it, the more you can do it.

11) Direct your thoughts towards contemplating Allah.

12) Remember how short our stay on earth is. Do you really have the time to be sinning?

Looking at this list of tools to increase patience, I’m reminded once again how little I do them. Alhamdulillah I’ve started making dua and saying adhkar, so my thought are directed towards Allah more, and since Ramadan I’ve tried to keep up some of my Ibadahs, even if I’d rather read, watch TV, or do anything else (Procrastinating Queen, right here) and as such I’ve been fighting them whims and desires. Aaaannnnndddd that’s it. The problem, of course, is that you need patience in order to practice the tools to develop patience. Hah! So I guess the key is to start small – slow and steady wins the race, people!

Which – if any – of the tools do you utilise? Are there any others that you can think of?

September Week 3 Review

[For previous reviews of this month’s goals, see here and here.]

Oh boy, what a week. I feel like this whole month has been a waste – like I’ve accomplished nothing. Alhamdulillah we got to see quite a few people last week (and go the hairdressers, which always makes me feel better), and as a result everything pretty much went out the window.

Anyways, on to the nitty-gritty! Here’s the review of this month’s goals for this week:

Things I will do Inshallah:

1) Finish reading the Qur’an.

2) Perform 4 Rakat of voluntary prayer a day 4 times a week.

Not praying, so doesn’t count.

3) Morning and evening Dua.

Mostly yes, but I’ve been cheating and skipping some of the Adhkar most of the time. This is a bad thing because even when I do say my dua, I feel as though I haven’t really because of my cheating.

4) Work on my thesis for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week

This goal is a joke. I’ve done nothing on it yet.

5) Read the Qur’an again in its entirety.

Ummm, I got as far as Surah Al-Maidah this week before slacking off, so I guess that means it aint gonna happen this month. 😦

Things I’d like to do, but might not:

1) Blog twice a week.

Alhamdulillah, this does seem to be happening, which is kinda funny when you think about it. I mean, this is one of the things that I’d like to do, but might not and I’ve done pretty well on it, but the things I was definitely going to do, I’ve been slacking on.

2) Revise three hizbs from the end of the Qur’an.

I’ve basically given up on this one.

3) Keep a food diary.

7 out of 7 – Woohoo! Alhamdulillah I’ve gotten back into my usual food / exercise routine, which is something I am really happy and relieved about. It’s only taken a year to form these new healthier habits, but they seem to finally be habits. May Allah make it last – especially though winter, cause that’s my weakness; winter makes me lazy.

As for my other non-Islamic goals, I’m picking up the teaching again so inshallah by the first week of October I’ll have my timetable all figured out, I’ve been reading lots of articles online from various magazines (non-Islamic) that I’ve subscribed to on my Google Reader, but I need to finish my fiction book. Unfortunately it’s a crime/mystery/thriller-ish type, so I can’t read it before I go to bed – it either keeps me awake, or gives me such vivid dreams that I wake up after an hour or two and can’t go back to sleep for ages. #ReadingProblems.

This week, I’m just going to try to focus on my habits, reinforcing them. That means no cheating on my adhkar, praying 4 rakahs 4 times this week, and continuing to read the Qur’an. At least this way I’ll start October with something approaching good habits.

How’s your week been?

Patience – Part I

[These are my notes taken from “Patience and Gratitude: An Abridged translation of Uddat As-Sabirin Wa Dhakhirat Ash-Shakirin by Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah” translated by Nasiruddin Al-Khattab. So I hereby give you the summary of a summary. 🙂 ]

Sabr – Patience

What is patience?

Sabr (the Arabic word for patience) originally means: to refrain, detain and stop. Spiritually, this means to stop ourselves despairing and panicking, to stop our tongues from complaining and to stop our hands from striking and tearing clothes at times of grief and stress.

Abu Uthman said: The one who has patience is the one who has trained himself to handle difficulties.

 Is it better to have patience at a time of difficulty or to be in a situation which does not require patience?

Some scholars define patience as not seeing or making any difference between times of hardship and ease. Ibn al-Qayyim disagrees, because:

~ This is too difficult.

~ We are not told to be this way.

~ We were made to feel the difference – it is part of our nature.

~ Having an easy time is better than having a hard time.

His evidence is that the Prophet (May Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him) said in a supplication (Dua): “If You are not angry with me, then I do not care what happens to me, but still I would rather have Your blessings and favour.” Therefore, it is acceptable to differntiate between hardship and ease.

Complaining:

There are two types of complaint:

1)    To Allah: this does not contradict patience.

– e.g.: the words of Ya’qub (Jacob):

12:86
[I only complain of my distraction and anguish to Allah.] (Surah Yusuf :86).

– And the words of Ayyub (Job):

21:83

[And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord, “truly distress has seized me”…] (Surah Al-Anbiya’ :83).

2)    To people: this contradicts patience.

– Through words, actions, behaviour and looks

– N.B.: this is different from seeking advice, which is when you confide in a trusted person who you believe has more knowledge and may help you overcome your difficulties. Complaining is simply bemoaning something in your life to anyone/everyone without seeking to actively improve your condition.

Types of Patience:

Psychologically speaking, we have two opposing forces: a driving force and a restraining force. Patience uses both: it drives a person to good and restrains them from bad.

Different people have different levels of patience for different aspects of the religion (deen):

1)    Strong iman (faith) and patience driving them to perform Ibadah (worship), but weak faith and patience in stopping them from evil.

~ e.g.: Someone who spends all night in prayer, but cannot lower his/ her gaze. (Yup. Lots of long bearded brothers S.T.A.R.E. It’s like dude!)

2)    Weak faith and patience in driving them to worship, but strong faith and patience stopping them from evil.

~e.g.: Someone who does not practice their faith, but lowers their gaze.

3)    Weak both ways. (Few people are like this – phew!)

4)    Strong both ways. These are the best people.

Most people lack patience in one of the aspects only.

In terms of staying away from our desires (like sleeping when it’s time to get up and perform the fajr (dawn) prayer), patience is three types:

1)    Religion is the biggest motive and desires are controlled and defeated. This is achieved through consistent patience.

2)    Desires win out. Total surrender to Satan, with the simple reason being that they ran out of patience; they failed to outlast him.

~ This is characterised in the Hadith of the prophet: “The helpless man is the one who follows his whims and desires, and indulges in wishful thinking.”

~ Different forms include: those who hate Islam, those caught up in worldly interest, hypocrites who try to gain from everything, those who say that they want to be better but that its too hard, those who say that God is the All Merciful All Forgiving (true) as if they have to give Him something to forgive(!?)…

~ A key feature in these people is that their desires control their reason, so their reason finds ways to meet their desires.  (Been there, done that, unfortunately. But, really, my excuses/reasons are epic. 🙂 )

3)    A Raging war between the two. This is the situation of the majority of the ummah. Sometimes the religion wins, sometimes the desires take over. And I don’t know about you, but for me it really feels like an active battleground. (I was going to go deeper on the war metaphor, but decided it was probably best avoided on an Islamic blog, given the current climate and all. :/ )

What are your strength and weaknesses when it comes to patience? And which category do you fall in with regards to the 4 levels of patience in religion?

I read through that list and got thoroughly depressed because really I think I’m weak both ways, it depends on the scenario, I guess. Although having said that, I find it easier to not do haram than I do in doing good deeds. So I guess that makes me a level 2? And personally, I have a terrible habit of complaining. To everyone.

[Here is the list of goals for this month, and this is the review of the first two weeks.]

Another week’s whizzed by, leaving us a few days short of the end of Shawwal and with only a couple of weeks to the end of September. I feel like this week overall was a bit meh. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, it just was. Anyways, onto the review:

Things I will do Inshallah:

1) Finish reading the Qur’an. DONE!!!

2) Perform 4 Rakat of voluntary prayer a day 4 times a week.

I did this 3 times this week. I could’ve done it more, but I remembered too late that I wouldn’t be praying the whole week. Either way, 3 aint bad.

3) Morning and evening Dua.

Not every day. Most days, but not every day.

4) Work on my thesis for 2 hours a day, 4 days a week .

Nothing. Again.

5) Read the Qur’an again in its entirety.

Nope, haven’t started this either.

Things I’d like to do, but might not:

1) Blog twice a week.

I’ve done this alright, although God only knows what my next post this week is gonna be about. And, even though I’m blogging and reading my comments, I haven’t gotten around to answering any of the comments or even doing some commenting myself.

2) Revise three hizbs from the end of the Qur’an.

Nope. I haven’t done any of this.

3) Keep a food diary.

5/7 – Which is good. I never really manage to keep the food diary every day of the week. I usually aim for 5 or 6 days, so I’m happy with this one.

As for the other goals I had, well Alhamdulillah I’ve finished all my fasting: both from Ramadan and the six days of Shawwal, may Allah accept them. I’ve also gotten back to exercising (cardio! – Yay!) and I’ve finished an audio book. Other than that the most notable thing that I did was meet up with my bestest BFF (that’s Best Friend Forever AND Bestie From Forever 🙂 ).

I really feel like September is slipping through my fingers and I’m not getting anything done. I think I really underestimated how much fasting would take out of me this month, but still; it’s not like my goals are really tough or unattainable. I need to find a rhythm Inshallah, so I think that’s going to be my new aim for this week: get back my groove.

And do all the stuff I said I’d do this month.

 Is your September shaping up as bad as mine? Or are you having a better time of it? What’s your week been like?

This is the second post about fasting the six days of Shawwal, the first one’s here. I’m nearly finished fasting my six days this year, and as encouragement I thought I’d post this list of benefits/virtues of fasting these six days. Most of this is actually copied verbatim from this article by Salman Al-Awdah, but I’ve rewritten some of it to make a bit more sense and show a bit of my personality. 😉

1. Fasting six days in Shawwâl after observing the Ramadan fast gives the person the reward of fasting throughout the year. Really this list could stop right here, I think. Imagine the reward of having fasted an entire year. Alhamdulillah – Allah’s mercy is limitless.

2. The fasts of Sha`bân and Shawwâl are like the Sunnah prayers that accompany the five obligatory prayers. Like the Sunnah prayers, these extra fasts cover up for the deficiencies in our performance of our obligatory worship. On the Day of Judgment, our voluntary acts of worship will compensate for the shortcomings in how we carried out our duties. Most of us have deficiencies in our observance of our Ramadan fasts and we need something to cover up for those deficiencies. [Note: The deficiencies being discussed here are not missing days of fasting. Rather, they are the deficiencies in our conduct that detract from the value of our worship. Like losing one’s temper, talking about things that one should avoid, etc.]

3. Our return to the habit of fasting right after Ramadan is a sign that our Ramadan fasts were accepted. When Allah accepts our worship, He blesses us to engage in further acts of piety. The saying goes: The reward of virtue is further virtue. Therefore, following one good deed with others like it is a sign that the first deed had been accepted by Allah. By contrast, if a person’s good deed is followed by a sinful one, it is an indication that the first good deed might not have been accepted. (This is a good point, especially for someone who’s counting down the days to when I’m finished fasting and has no intention whatsoever of keeping this up throughout the year. I’ll have to really focus on the other good habits I picked up during the month.)

4. After fasting Ramadan, we are given the blessing of Eid Al-Fitr. Getting into the habit of fasting again after that is a way of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings that we have recieved. There is no blessing greater than forgiveness for one’s sins, and we know that fast of Ramadan is recompensed with forgiveness of one’s previous sins.

Fasting these days in Shawwâl is one way for us to express our thanks for Allah blessing us in our observance of the Ramadan fast.

It is known that some of the Pious Predecessors would try to get up at night to pray the Tahajjud prayer. When Allah blessed them to wake up and do so, they would fast the next day in thanks to Allah for blessing them to observe that prayer.

Once Wuhayb b. al-Ward was asked about the blessings of various acts of devotion and he replied: “Do not ask about the blessings that can be earned by performing these acts of worship. Rather, ask how you can show your thanks to Allah if He blesses you to perform them, for he is the one who assists us in doing so.”

Every blessing that Allah gives us is something that we have to be thankful about. Moreover, when Allah blesses us to show thanks, this is a further blessing from Allah that deserves further thanks from us. If we show further thanks, this in turn is another blessing deserving our gratitude. There is no end to this and we can never be thankful enough. When we recognize that our thanks is never enough, this is the highest expression of gratitude we can give.

Can you think of any more benefits/virtues of fasting these six days? I really hope that remembering these things will give us the necessary boost to finish these days in strong Iman.