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Fasting New Muslims

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It is observed by Muslims during the month of Ramadan, a season of intense worship. How can Muslims make the best use of those precious moments? What should they do and not do while fasting? And what are the benefits that can be gained out of this blessed month?

Watch this video to know the answers and more…

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Categories
Fasting New Muslims

All About Ramadan (1433/2012)

By Editorial Staff

ramadan-2012-1433Ramadan is the month in which Muslims observe the obligatory fast which has been prescribed by God on those who believe in Him as it was prescribed on previous nations.

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain piety. (Al-Baqarah 2: 183)

The above verse explains the main purpose of fasting. It is to attain taqwa (God-consciousness) which means that every Muslim must be watchful of everything. He must watch out every word he utters and every action he does.

In this Special Folder, we will focus on fasting and its related issues.

Prepare Yourself for Ramadan

Your First Ramadan: Get It Right

Ramadan: Ready for the Blessings?

How Did Prophet Muhammad Prepare Himself for Ramadan?

Preparing for Ramadan: 3 Top Tips

Ramadan Countdown for New Muslims

Approaching Ramadan

Prepare for Ramadan: Your Body

Prepare for Ramadan: Your Mind

Preparing for Ramadan

What Is Fasting? 

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Ramadan: Objectives & Lessons to Learn (Part 1)

Ramadan: Objectives & Lessons to Learn (Part 2)

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Objectives of Fasting

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A Blessed Month of a Special Nature

Objectives of Fasting and Ramadan

Why Do Muslims Fast during Ramadan?

The Key to a Successful Day: Words of Remembrance and Supplication

Managing Ramadan with Your Non-Muslim Family

The Prophet in Ramadan

The ProductiveRamadan Online Course (Animation)

Fasting in Ramadan: Worship or Habit?

Introduction to Ramadan

Fasting From One’s Desires

Ramadan: The Month of Fasting and Spirituality

Fast of Ramadan: A Way of Life

The Secret of Fasting in Ramadan

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Productive Ramadan Resource: The Ramadan Daily Planner

Virtues of Ramadan (1-30)

A Day in Ramadan with the Prophet

Ramadan: Raining with Mercy

 

In the Shade of Ramadan

“In the Shade of Ramadan” is an annual online video series that is produced by MAS Youth during the month of Ramadan ramadan2012every year. It is a series of educational and motivational reflections on the month of Ramadan featuring various speakers across the country. This year’s season will feature 15 episodes (an episode every other day) with the theme: “Racing to Allah.”

Episode 1: Racing to Allah

Episode 2: Racing to the Houses of Worship

Episode 3: The Believer is Quick to Respond

Episode 4: Forgiving Others

Episode 5: Turning to Allah

Episode 6: Attaining a Pure Heart

Episode 7: Sincerity

Episode 8: Reach Out and Help Someone

Episode 9: Love for the Sake of Allah

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Episode 11: Overcoming Obstacles

Episode 12: Overcoming Our Whims

 

Ramadan Reminders

Ramadan Reminder Day 1

Ramadan Reminder Day 2

Ramadan Reminder Day 3

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Ramadan Reminder Day 4

Ramadan Reminder Day 5

Ramadan Reminder Day 6

Ramadan Reminder Day 7

Ramadan Reminder Day 8

Ramadan Reminder Day 9

Ramadan Reminder Day 10

Ramadan Reminder Day 11

Ramadan Reminder Day 12

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Ramadan Reminder Day 13

Ramadan Reminder Day 14

Ramadan Reminder Day 15

Ramadan Reminder Day 16

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Ramadan Reminder Day 17

Ramadan Reminder Day 18

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Ramadan Reminder Day 20

Ramadan Reminder Day 21

Ramadan Reminder Day 22

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 Ramadan Reflections

Ramadan Reflections 2012: Introduction

Ramadan Reflections (1): Imam Ash-Shafi`i

Ramadan Reflections (2): Imam Al-Ghazzali

Ramadan Reflections (3): Imam Abu Hilal Al-`Askari

Ramadan Reflections (4): Imam Al-Ash`ari

Ramadan Reflections (5): Imam As-Suyuti

Ramadan Reflections (6): Imam Ibn Sayyid An-Nas

Ramadan Reflections (7): Ibn Khaldun

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Ramadan Reflections (8): Ibn Al-Jazari

Ramadan Reflections (9): Sibawayh

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Ramadan Reflection (10): Imam Ad-Dardir

 

Tarawih Prayer

tarawih prayer in makkah

Ramadan’s First Night: Open the Gates of Blessings

Live Tarawih Prayer from Makkah

Work Schedule and Tarawih Prayer

Q & A Session on Tarawih and Ramadan

Making the Most of Tarawih this Ramadan

How Can I Enjoy Listening to the Qur’an in Taraweeh When I Don’t Understand What Is Being Recited?

A Gift for the 27th Night: A Ramadan Du`a’ with English Translation

 

Qur’an Reflections

CDI Quran reflections

Join Imam Mohamed Magid, Dr. Jasser Auda, and Guest Scholars every Ramadan evening at 7 PM to listen to their reflections on the part of the Quran that will be recited in Taraweeh prayer that night.

Qur’an Reflections

 

Your Health in Ramadan 

Fasting and Overall Health

What Happens to Your Body When You Fast?

 

 

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Last Ten Days of RamadanLast ten days of Ramadan

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The Last Ten Nights of Ramadan – Don’t Miss!

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An Unmatched Night: Don’t Miss

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In the Shade of Ramadan (5) Episode 12: Overcoming Our Whims

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Why I Spent a Day Fasting This Ramadan and What I Learnt

By Jon Ashworth

Jon Ashworth, MP, tells why he spent a day fasting this Ramadan and what he Learnt….
Over 3000 Muslim athletes competed in the Olympics earlier this summer and at the same time it was Ramadan. Like thousands of my constituents in Leicester, many of those athletes will have observed the fast.

With this in mind this year I wanted to make an effort to appreciate Ramadan on a much deeper and indeed personal level. I wanted to get a direct sense of what Muslims physically and mentally go through in denying themselves food and drink from sunrise to sunset. But I also wanted to understand further the spiritual side of Islam. So this year I decided to fast myself, although only for day.

Before deciding to fast I honestly thought long and hard about whether the gesture from a white politician of a Christian background would be considered patronising or as stunt and indeed some have accused me of that. But I embarked on this challenge from a genuine sense of respect for Islam, and a curiosity to understand more fully something which is so important to so many people across Leicester.

My day started early at around 2.30am, I wasn’t sure what to expect so thought best to stock up on a healthy breakfast of porridge with berries and a large fruit smoothie.

Arriving at the mosque at 3 am I was struck by the sheer beauty of the building inside and by the buzz as worshippers sat on the floor at the front tucking into a breakfast of toast and cornflakes. Perhaps I was expecting a quietness like a retreat but there was a real camaraderie as everyone greeted one another and enjoyed suhoor together. Feeling encouraged I had my second breakfast of the day, and heeding advice I had received minutes earlier on twitter drank as much water as I possibly could.

At around 3.30 the mosque was now full and the imam began the prayers, I sat at the back watching and thinking how remarkable it was such numbers were present including so many young people in the mosque this early in the morning. There was a real community spirit and a sense that what was happening was very special and important. As prayers ended and I left, I felt grateful I had enjoyed the privilege of witnessing these prayers. It had made getting up so early in the morning worth it, though I was still determined to go back to bed even if only for a few hours.

Later my day followed the usual pattern of a constituency MP – going to the office dealing with correspondence, meeting constituents, reacting to news that unemployment had increased again. But this time I couldn’t stop thinking about coffee and was beginning to feel hunger cramps in my stomach.

Realising I wouldn’t be able to cope simply sitting in my office all day, I took more advice from twitter and decided to keep busy by going out and about in the constituency.

First stop was the Jassat family. The daughter Farah has already blogged about it here. This family explained to me how important Ramadan is to both family life and community life. Farah told me that between breakfast and lunch she usually feels hungry but in Ramadan the spiritual experience gives her strength and she feels no hunger. It occurred to me that I too was no longer feeling hungry either, was I beginning to experience something more spiritual as well?

However, although I might have defeated the hunger cramps my head was starting to pound, “am I allowed nurofen I texted a Muslim friend?” apparently not came the unsurprising reply.

By five I was feeling tired and while fielding questions on a local community radio station on the outrageous and atrocious sectarian violence towards the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, I worried I was becoming less and less coherent. Finding it difficult to concentrate I wondered how Muslim students would cope in a year or two when Ramadan coincides with exam time.

Thinking about how I would have been as a teenager at Ramadan I decided to meet some young people and ask of their experiences of fasting. It soon was obvious that these young men and women were like most other teenagers, chatting about the Olympics, football, television, music and so on. But it was also clear how important their religion is to them. They told me they enjoyed fasting and that being a Muslim was part of their identity. Many had been involved in extensive charity work throughout Ramadan and they were all driven by a desire to help those much less fortunate than themselves. I was impressed.

Later that evening I was due back at the Mosque at about 8.30pm for the breaking of the fast before the iftar meal.

In the mosque sitting with others, waiting to break fast I felt I was genuinely part of something quite extraordinary. It was certainly a time for reflection and when we all together broke the fast with a date it was an emotional moment. Not because I was finally eating, but because I genuinely felt a sense of solidarity and community doing something in the knowledge that thousands of others were taking part in the exact same ceremony.

I finished the evening at the neighbouring church for an inter-faith iftar meal where all of Leicester’s faith groups were represented. It had been a long tough day but equally a worthwhile and moving day. Especially as I had been bowled over by the kindness and support I had received throughout the day from people of all backgrounds. That evening I felt even prouder than usual to represent such a wonderfully diverse constituency and city.

It was appropriate to finish the day at an interfaith iftar because through my own small experience of Ramadan, I saw that Islam shares the same guiding principles as many other faiths. On a very basic level, using the discipline of abstinence as a way of appreciating what you, and your loved ones, are fortunate enough to enjoy while allowing you to empathise with those who have very little. But more than that, it is about a shared experience, about family, friends and community. For example, when I was invited to break fast with others at the Mosque, I was offered friendship as well as food.

Islam is a religion, sadly often much misunderstood in the west and although my own experience was for just one day, I saw a religion which took pride in extending kindness, peace and understanding to those within the religion and those from outside.

And next year, I’m already looking forward to doing it again.

______________

 

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk.

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Plan Your Schedule in Ramadan

Daily Planning

During these 30 days of mercy and forgiveness, we have the privilege of getting closer to Allah so much that we are expected to be given whatever we ask for.

Abu Hurairah reported that our dear Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan out of faith and seeking reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)

We are now witnessing the most important yearly spiritual experience in a Muslim’s life. During these 30 days of mercy and forgiveness, we have the privilege of getting closer to Allah (Exalted be He) so much that we are expected to be given whatever we ask for. This article will focus on tips to follow during Ramadan.

The First Night of Ramadan

Before the first night of Ramadan, Muslims all around the world wait for the announcement of the month. So, how to collect reward from this moment?

Try to look for the new moon with the family, make the little ones busy with this. However, if the religious authority in your country announces the beginning of Ramadan and you are still unable to see the new moon, you should accept the decision without any fuss.

Send greetings to family members and friends. If you live in a non-Muslim community, try to explain the significance of Ramadan to your neighbors. It is important to explain to them that Ramadan is more than just abstaining from eating and drinking.

Share the joy of Ramadan with your children. Do not refer to the night of `Eid (festival day)! Kids should feel that the coming of Ramadan is a special event to celebrate, even if they do not fast it yet. Involve them in decorating the house, making lamps using craft work, etc.

Do not miss Tarawih (night Prayer in Ramadan). Many people miss the Tarawih Prayer on the first night of Ramadan for different reasons. They say the first day of Ramadan starts after midnight, and thus they don’t attend the first Tarawih. Others are occupied with congratulation calls regarding the coming of Ramadan. Some others may just forget it.

Keep Niyyah

Ibn `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Actions are judged by intention. A man will be rewarded only for what he has intended.” (Al-Bukhari)

Intention (niyyah) in Islam has an immense importance. During the first night of Ramadan, make a lot of good intentions and ask Allah to help you fulfill them. Examples of intentions:

–      Fasting for Allah’s sake

–      Having a rewarded month

–      Attaining inner peace

–      Pardoning friends and family members

–      Witnessing the Night of Qadr and getting its rewards

–      Preparing food for the fasting persons to get the reward

Daily Planning

While planning your schedule, there are two points that should be taken into account. First, do not pile tasks on our schedule and wait till the appropriate minute to fulfill them. Instead, you should allocate an enough time for each task. Second, there are blessed moments in Ramadan that we should not miss by focusing on other tasks. For example, you should not visit people during Tarawih (night Prayer in Ramadan), or watch a religious program right after Fajr when you are supposed to do dhikr (remembrance of Allah) and read the Qur’an.

Divide your day into at least 6 parts:

– The morning: For sahur (pre-dawn meal) Tahajjud (Night Prayer), Fajr Prayer, reciting Qur’an after Fajr, istighfar (asking forgiveness).

– Work: Fasting is not an excuse to be inefficient at work. It does not justify being ill tempered because you miss your coffee or cigarette. Concentrate on dhikr (remembrance of Allah) especially while waiting in traffic, driving to and from work, etc.

– From `Asr to Maghrib: 30 minute nap, family time, reciting Qur’an, watching an educational program, reading about the Prophets´ stories, preparing Iftar (breaking the fasting meal) and any other task you planned for.

– Breaking fast

– `Isha’ and Tarawih: It is unnecessary to spend hours in traffic to go to a mosque with the best sheikh in the city. Choose a masjid in your neighborhood.

– Night: This time depends on when you complete the Tarawih Prayers. (Family time, completing other tasks, Qiyam)

– Keep each salah as a time interval between tasks, so you can pray at the masjid if possible.

– Have intention for i´tikaf (staying in the masjid for a particular time period in the worship of Allah with certain conditions).

Monthly Planning

– Divide the month into three parts where each part consists of 10 days. This is an efficient way to accomplish your schedule in this blessed month.

– Set the goals you want to fulfill in each of the 10 days. Write them in a separate column. You could concentrate on social tasks in the first 10 days, family tasks the following 10 days, du`aa’ and dhikr (personal spirituality) in the last ten days. I do not mean to totally separate your tasks, but give you a rough time period to focus on.

– Start dividing these tasks and goals. If your lifestyle is organized with minimal surprises, you can plan these 10 days in advance. If not, try and make a draft for 2 days. Making a draft helps you feel less guilty if something unexpected happens. This does not mean that you get out of your actual task but, you might need to double the effort for the next 2 days. Place an X on completed tasks, to give you a sense of accomplishment.

– For the last 10 days of Ramadan, try to intensify all kinds of `ibadat (acts of worship), especially praying at night.

– Recite the whole Qur’an. In case you cannot read, listen to it and read the translation.

‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported: I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Laylat Al-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He replied, “You should supplicate: Allahumma innaka `afuwwun, tuhibbul `afwa, fa`fu `anni (O Allah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me).”(At-Tirmidhi)

Last Night of Ramadan

After all the effort of planning, helping others, praying, fasting and keeping good intentions, we will reach the last night of Ramadan hoping for the great reward of being saved from the fire and accepted in the Heaven. It is important to trust Allah that He will accept your hard work. At the night of `Eid, the joy is not because we are not supposed to fast the next day. Yet, it is because we have accomplished an act of worship that is most beloved to Almighty Allah.

– Supplicate Allah that He accepts all of your efforts done in Ramadan, and that He supports you to sustain your productivity after Ramadan.

– Share greetings for `Eid (feast).

– Give the kids the joy of `Eid (new clothes, money, decorating the house, gifts, going to the park and making plans for the day of `Eid)

– Do not forget to pay Zakat Al-Fitr (the charity paid during the month of Ramadan). It is preferable to delay it to the last days of Ramadan, as reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this concern. However, scholars stated that it is permissible to give it during the whole month.

– Do not forget the families with limited income. Although you pay your Zakat Al-Fitr, you are still asked to donate for those people in order to bless them with Ramadan and `Eid.

– As soon as the authorities prove it to be the end of Ramadan, start repeating the Takbir (Saying “Allahu Akbar” [i.e. Allah is the Greatest]) and teach it to the young ones.

These are some of my tips for Ramadan, please share yours! I will pray from the heart that Allah accepts all of our good deeds and efforts this Ramadan. Please do not forget me in your du`aa’.

_________________________

Source: productivemuslim.com

 

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Qur’anic Gems: Juz’ 2

Welcome to a new interesting episode of Qur’anic Gems series with Nouman Ali Khan. Here Nouman reflects on the verse number 185 of Surat Al-Baqarah (the second chapter of the Qur’an).

Nouman begins his talk by mentioning the objectives and the wisdom of fasting that month. Follow us on this interesting talk to know more about the objectives of the fasting.

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All About Ramadan (1434/2013)

By Editorial Staff
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Ramadan is the month in which Muslims observe the obligatory fast which has been prescribed by God on those who believe in Him as it was prescribed on previous nations.

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain piety. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

The above verse explains the main purpose of fasting. It is to attain taqwa (God-consciousness) which means that every Muslim must be watchful of everything. He must watch out every word he utters and every action he does.

In this Special Folder, we will focus on fasting and its related issues.

 

Ramadan Daily

Patience

Patience is a virtue of the Muslim, and Ramadan is the very time to test one’s patience endurance and tolerance. Fasting requires a great deal of patience.
So, how can we keep our patience during Ramadan, and make use of the Holy Month to develop this trait?

Your Health in Ramadan

Fasting and Overall Health

Fasting and Overall Health

In some cases, fasting could do more harm than good to some ill people, but could be beneficial to others, and even improve health. Who is exempted from fasting, who can decide this? How should fasting…

E-Books on Ramadan
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New Muslim Ramadan Guide

With the coming of Ramadan, every Muslim has to prepare himself for that blessed month. This book tackles the most important issues that a Muslim has to be aware of before going on fasting. It tries to present the rulings of fasting as well as the spiritual objectives for which fasting was obligated. Take your time in going through this helpful book and we hope that we provided something that has been beneficial for you.

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Worship in Islam: True Purpose and Motives

God-consciousness

What does make a Muslim say their prayers at places where there is no one to ask them to offer them or even to see them offering them?  Isn’t it so because of their belief that God is ever looking at you?  What does make them leave their important business and other occupations and rush towards the mosque for Prayers?

What does make them terminate your sweet sleep in the early hours of the morning, go to the mosque in the heat of the noon, and  leave their evening entertainments for the sake of prayers?

Is it anything other than sense of duty; their realization that they must fulfill your responsibility to the Lord, come what may?  And why are they afraid of any mistake in prayer?

Congregational prayer arouses in Muslims the sense of their collective unity and fosters among them national fraternity.

Because their heart is filled with the fear of God and they know that they have to appear before Him on the Day of Judgment and give an account of their entire life.

Now look!  Can there be a better course of moral and spiritual training than Prayer?  It is this training which makes a man a perfect Muslim.  It reminds him of his covenant with God, refreshes his faith in Him, and keeps the belief in the Day of Judgment alive and ever present before his mind’s eye.  It makes him follow the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) and trains him in the observance of his duties.

This is indeed a strict training for conforming one’s practice to one’s ideals.  Obviously if a man’s consciousness of his duties towards his Creator is so acute that he prizes it above all worldly gains and keeps refreshing it through prayers, he would certainly not be inviting the displeasure of God that he all along has striven to avoid.

He will abide by the law of God in the entire gamut of life in the same way as he follows it in the five prayers every day.  This man can be relied upon in other fields of activity as well, for if the shadows of sin or deceit approach him, he will try to avoid them for fear of the Lord that would be ever present in his heart.  And if even after such a vital training a man misbehaves himself in other fields of life and disobeys the law of God, it can only be because of some intrinsic depravity of his self.

Then again, a Muslim should say their prayers in congregation and especially so the Friday Prayer.  This creates among the Muslims a bond of love and mutual understanding.  This arouses in them the sense of their collective unity and fosters among them national fraternity.  All of them say their prayers in one congregation and this inculcates in them a deep feeling of brotherhood.

Prayers are also a symbol of equality, for the poor and the rich, the low and the high, the rulers and the ruled, the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white all stand in one row and prostrate before their Lord.  Prayers also inculcate in Muslims a strong sense of discipline and obedience to the elected leader.

In short, prayers train them in all those virtues that make possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.

These are a few of the myriad of benefits Muslims derive from the daily Prayers.  If we refuse to avail ourselves of them we, and only we, are the losers.

If you see that some Muslims shirk the prayers, this can only mean one of two things: Either they do not recognize Prayers as our duty or they recognize them.  In the first case, their claim to faith shall be a shameless lie, for if they refuse to take orders from Allah they no longer acknowledge His authority.

In the second case, if they recognize Allah’s authority and still flout His commands, then they are the most unreliable of creatures that ever trod the earth.  For if they can do this to the highest authority in the universe, what guarantee is there that they shall not do the same in their dealings with other human beings?  And if duplicity overwhelms a society, what a hell of discord it is bound to become!

Fasting

What the prayers seek to serve five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan (ninth month of the lunar year) does once a year.  During this period from dawn to dusk, Muslims eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water, no matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty they feel.  What is it that makes them voluntarily undergo such rigors?  It is nothing but faith in God and the fear of Him and of the Day of Judgment.

Each and every moment during the fast, Muslims suppress their passions and desires, and proclaim by their doing so the supremacy of the Law of God.  This consciousness of duty and the spirit of patience that incessant fasting for full one month inculcates in Muslims help them to strengthen their faith.

ramadan

fasting has an immense impact on society, for all Muslims, irrespective of their status, must observe fasting during the same month.

Rigor and discipline during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life, and help them make their life during the rest of the year a life of true subservience to His will.

From yet another point of view, fasting has an immense impact on society, for all Muslims, irrespective of their status, must observe fasting during the same month.  This brings to prominence the essential equality of men, and thus goes a long way towards creating in them sentiments of love and brotherhood.

During Ramadan evil conceals itself while good comes to the fore, and the whole atmosphere is filled with piety and purity.  This discipline has been imposed on Muslims to their own advantage.  Those who do not fulfill this cannot be relied upon in the discharge of their duties.

But the worst are those who, during this holy month, do not hesitate to eat or drink in public.  They are the people who by their conduct show that they care not a trifle for the commands of Allah, in Whom they profess their belief as their Creator and Sustainer.

Not only this, they also show that they are not loyal members of the Muslim community; rather, they have nothing to do with it.  It is evident that in so far as obedience to law and regard for a trust reposed in them goes, only the worst could be expected of such hypocrites.

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Ramadan Reminders: Your Daily Gift in Ramadan

A Daily Gift to You in Ramadan!

Every day of Ramadan, Muslim Aid Australia along with local leaders will be giving you short lessons in order to implement that each day and continue with these changes beyond Ramadan insha’ Allah.

The Speakers:

Sheikh Hassan Elsetohy

Dr. Muhammad Abdulllah

Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman

Sheikh Omar El Banna

Sheikh Tareck Al Bikai

Sheikh Ramy Al Sharawneh

Bro. Mohammad Quadan

Follow them through this series…

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Ramadan Pro Tips (Series)

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, throughout which Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours (from dawn to sunset) in complete fast.

During the daylight hours throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, sexual enjoyment and physical or verbal abuse.

In fact, fasting is much more than just refraining from eating and drinking. It is a time for the purification of the soul and the development of God-awareness and self-control.

Watch this series to know more about Ramadan and how to make it your ever best Ramadan:

 

———————

Source: Quran Weekly Youtube Channel.

 

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A Blessed Month of a Special Nature

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars upon which the structure of Islam is built. The other four are the declaration of one’s belief in God’s oneness and in the message of Muhammad (peace be upon him), regular attendance to prayer, payment of zakah (i.e. obligatory charity), and the pilgrimage.

If we examine these five pillars, taking into account the fact that Islam aims at improving the quality of human life at both the individual and social levels, we find that the first of these five pillars is concerned with beliefs which influence man’s conduct. The second, i.e. prayer, provides a constant reminder of man’s bond with God. Zakah, the third pillar, is a social obligation which reduces the gap between the rich and the poor, while the fifth, i.e. the pilgrimage, has a universal aspect that unites the Muslim community throughout the world.

Fasting in Ramadan, which is the fourth of these pillars, has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship. Although in a Muslim country it is extremely difficult for anyone to defy public feelings by showing that one is not fasting, there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating God’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary.

The fact is that fasting cannot be used by a hypocrite in order to persuade others of one’s devotion to God. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan. On the other hand, a person fasting voluntarily at any other time should not tell others of the fact. If he does, he detracts from his reward for his voluntary worship. In fact, people will find his declaration to be fasting very strange and will feel that there is something wrong behind it.

This explains why the reward God gives for proper fasting is so generous. In a sacred, or Qudsi hadith, the Prophet quotes God as saying: “All actions done by a human being are his own except fasting, which belongs to Me and I reward it accordingly.” This is a mark of special generosity, since God gives for every good action a reward equivalent to at least ten times its values. Sometimes He multiplies this reward to seven hundred times the value of the action concerned, and even more. We are also told by the Prophet that the reward for proper fasting is admittance into heaven.

It may be noted that we have qualified fasting that earns such great reward as being ‘proper’. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. Perfection of fasting can be achieved through restraint of one’s feelings and emotions. The Prophet said that when fasting, a person should not allow himself to be drawn into a quarrel or a slanging match. He teaches us: “On a day of fasting, let no one of you indulge in any obscenity, or enter into a slanging match. Should someone abuse or fight him, let him respond by saying: ‘I am fasting! I am fasting!’” (Al-Bukhari)

This high standard of self-restraint fits in well with fasting, which is, in essence, an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in physical desire. This is indeed the purpose of fasting. It helps man to attain a standard of sublimity, which is very rare in the practical world. In other words, this standard is actually achieved by every Muslim who knows the purpose of fasting and strives to fulfill it.

Fasting has another special aspect. It makes all people share in the feelings of hunger and thirst. In normal circumstances, people with decent income may go from one year’s end to another without experiencing the pangs of hunger which a poor person may feel every day of his life. Such an experience helps to draw the rich nearer to the poor.

Indeed we are encouraged to be more charitable in Ramadan in order to follow the Prophet’s lead who was described by his companions as “the most generous of all people.” Yet he achieved in Ramadan an even higher degree of generosity. His companions say of him that he was in Ramadan “more generous and charitable than unrestrained wind.”

Fasting has also a universal or communal aspect. As Muslims throughout the world share in this blessed act of worship, they feel their unity and equality. Their sense of unity is enhanced by the fact that every Muslim individual joins voluntarily in the fulfillment of this divine commandment. The unity of Muslims is far from superficial; it is a unity of action and purpose, since they all fast in order to be better human beings. As a person restrains himself from the things he desires most, in the hope that he will earn God’s pleasure, self-discipline and sacrifice become part of his nature. He learns to give generously for a good cause.

The month of Ramadan is aptly described as a “festive season of worship.” Fasting is the main aspect of worship in this month, but people are more attentive to their prayers in Ramadan than they are in the rest of the year. They are also more generous and charitable. Thus, their devotion is more complete and they feel in Ramadan much happier because they feel themselves to be closer to God. Therefore, they love this month, which is one of endless benefits and blessings.

Indeed, nothing describes our great month better than the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he addresses his companions and all generations of Muslims on the eve of Ramadan, saying: “A great and blessed month is approaching. One of its nights is better than a thousand months. God has made fasting in it obligatory and worship in its nights voluntary.

He who fulfils one religious obligation in it receives the reward of 70 such obligations fulfilled in other times. It is the month of perseverance and endurance, which can be rewarded only be admission into heaven. It is the month of comforting in which the means of a believer are improved. He who gives food to another to break his fast is forgiven his sins; thus he saves his neck from hell. He is also given a similar reward to that given to the fasting person without detracting anything from the other’s reward…

God gives this reward even to a person who offers another a piece of a date, a drink of water or milk… the beginning of this month is compassion, its middle is forgiveness and its end witnesses people’s release from the fire of hell.”

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Taken with slight modifications from: www.arabnews.com.

Adil Salahi teaches Islamic Studies at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, England. After working for the BBC Arabic Service for several years, he worked for the Arabic daily, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. He continues to publish a column, “Islam in Perspective”, in its sister publication, Arab News, an English daily published in Saudi Arabia.


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