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Fasting New Muslims

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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Fasting New Muslims

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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Fasting New Muslims

Fasting in Ramadan: Worship or Habit?

It is related that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Good conduct is a habit, and bad conduct is just obnoxious.” (Ibn Hibban and Ibn Majah)

This Prophetic statement brings up the question of the extent to which our formal worship is prescribed to us to positively develop our personalities and cultivate our spirituality.

This role for our worship is further reinforced by the Prophet’s words: “A man continues to speak the truth and verify the truth until it is written with Allah that he is an honest man… And another man continues to lie and chase after false reports until it is written with Allah that he is a habitual liar.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

When we do an act over and over again, it becomes a habit. Carrying it out becomes part and parcel of our personalities and identities. When a person strives to be honest by deliberately and consistently choosing to speak truly (even against self-interest), then honesty becomes a character trait. Ultimately, Allah elevates that person to the status of Siddiq (One Who is Truly Honest).

For honest people, honesty is indeed a habit. However, this does not negate the fact that speaking the truth remains an act of worship and pious devotion.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not separate between habituation and devotion. In fact, he did the opposite. In fact, he said: “The most beloved of good deeds with Allah are those which are practiced with constancy over a long period of time, even if the deed is small.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Also, `A’ishah relates that: “When Allah’s Messenger practiced a good deed, he would do so consistently.” (Muslim)

A Positive Habit

Habituation becomes a problem when people begin carrying out habitual acts unthinkingly. Some habits – like the manner of combing one’s hair, or moving one’s hands, or biting one’s nails – become so ingrained that the person ceases to be conscious of doing the habitual act. People might even deny such a habit if it is brought to their attention.

At the same time, some positive habits have a tangible good effect on a person’s character and outlook on life. For instance, a person who has a habit of devoting a certain hour of every day to the remembrance of Allah or to reading the Qur’an has integrated these virtuous acts into daily life. They become, as a consequence, resulting in greater blessings and spiritual growth.

Once a man came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and said: “All the Islamic rites have become so many for me. Give me something I can hold fast to.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Keep your tongue moist with Allah’s remembrance.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah) This is a recommendation to turn the remembrance of Allah into a good habit.

We should therefore not use the word “habit” as if it is a bad thing, like when some of us say: “Prayer is an act of worship and not a habit.” Certainly prayer is an act of worship, and if it is our constant habit as well, then all the better.

It is a good thing that it is a person’s habit to pray, as long as we do not mean by “habit” that the person is just going along with the crowd or is praying absentmindedly. The positive connotation of habit we intend here is that of constancy and dedication, along with presence of mind and sincerity. A habit is something a person is comfortable doing. Leaving it off is something that makes the habituated person uncomfortable. How good it is for worship to be easy and comfortable for a person so that it never feels like a burden.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said: “O Bilal! Call the people to prayer. Give us our relaxation in prayer.” (Abu Dawud) This shows us that for the Prophet and his Companions, the performance of prayer was a source of comfort and solace.

The Prophet also said: “Prayer has been made the sweetness of my eyes.” (An-Nasa’i)

Devotion and piety can themselves become habits. When a person starts concentrating in prayer, it is difficult at first to keep focus. The mind is easily distracted. However, after years of persistence, devotion and presence of mind in prayer become second-nature.

Ask yourself honestly: Do you feel happy about the arrival of Ramadan? Or does it get you down? Or do you have mixed feelings?

If you have any negative feelings, then take some time to read about the virtues and blessings of Ramadan. Then think of your own life and your shortcomings. Think of how much you need Allah’s mercy and forgiveness. Know that fasting in Ramadan was prescribed by the One who is Most Generous, Most Kind, and Most Forgiving. He did not prescribe fasting to punish us, but rather to purify our minds and hearts, and to make us more generous, compassionate, and healthy people. You will come away from such thinking looking forward to the arrival of Ramadan, thankful that you are able to fast.

With the same spirit, you will be motivated to perform the nightly Tarawih prayers, or at least to observe of those prayers daily what is easy for you. Think of the great number of people who are praying with you. Look for a location where the positive atmosphere is most conducive. Find a mosque where the imam reads most beautifully. There is nothing wrong with that.

Observe the prayer as much as your heart stays engaged with it. If you find yourself growing weary, then depart. Keep in mind that Allah’s mercy is descending upon the congregation and you are among them sharing in that blessing. “They are such an assembly, that one who is in their company is not bereft of blessings.”

When you are prostrating, disclose your troubles and sorrows to Allah while beseeching Him to forgive you and overlook your sins. No matter how great your transgressions might be, they are nothing in comparison to Allah’s generosity and mercy. Be optimistic that Allah will accept your prayers, despite the shortcomings in your devotion and presence of mind. Everything in life requires striving, and we all have our shortcomings and difficulties. We place our hopes in Allah.

Remember that Allah says: “I am as my servant expects of Me to be.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Ramadan will become the beginning of a change for the better. It will be an experience of faith that will bring joy, new hope and greater happiness to your life.

Make it your habit in Ramadan to spend in charity. When you are shopping to choose nice foods to break your fast with, consider those who do not have enough to eat. Think about the mothers in the world who do not have enough food to feed their starving children and whose decision is to determine which of them is presently closer to death.

Make it your habit in Ramadan to be with your family. Make the atmosphere at home one of love and kindness. Ramadan gives us many occasions to spend quality time together and to share memorable experiences with our children. We should likewise make it our Ramadan habit to cement ties with our relatives, neighbors and friends, even by making phone calls, sending an e-mail, or giving Ramadan greetings by Blackberry.

Let us not make it our Ramadan habit to overeat at night. Let us not make it the month where we eat more than at any other time of year.

Instead, make it your habit to show kindness to others, to keep your anger in check, and to forgive others their faults.

May Allah accept from us our worship during this blessed month.

____________________

Taken from islamtoday.net.

 

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New Muslims Reflections

With Every Shahadah a New Life Is Born

 

Last week my husband alerted me to a halaqah (study circle) for sisters at our local masjid (i.e., the one across the street). I’ve since been recommended to this particular halaqah by a few other sisters in the area, so I’m getting the impression it’s supposed to be pretty good. I’ve been twice now-last Friday and this one-and don’t think I’ve really gotten the chance to see what others see.

The first week, the instructor wasn’t there as she’d recently been visiting with family overseas. This week’s halaqah involved a little bit of catching up, and then it was planned to be short due to some activity at the Redmond Masjid-I can’t seem to figure out what it was though. But it was further cut short by a new sister wanting to take Shahadah (Testimony of Faith).

That actually took 15-20 minutes, even though the sister had studied Islam plenty before choosing to make this decision, I guess it is the protocol here to run through a crash course in `aqeedah (Islamic creed) for anyone who wants to take Shahadah, so the remainder of the halaqah was spent reviewing the articles of faith and pillars of Islam.

In Raleigh, we would basically quickly articulate the primary tenets of faith and practice if the convert was new to the masjid, but not nearly so extensively as I heard tonight. So I begin to wonder how other masjid react when someone wishes to say Shahadah?

But more than the `aqeedah crash course, a new Shahadah is always a reminder of guidance in our lives, a reminder that Allah guides whom He chooses. Maybe if we busy ourselves with da`wah we start to think we have a hand in people finding Islam, but so often people just show up at the masjid, ready to take Shahadah (this happens a lot in Ramadan.)

The guidance truly is from Allah, and He leads people to Islam. While we should definitely try to be as active in da`wah as we can (as it’s from the Sunnah and has the promise of a beautiful reward), it’s plain that we only ignite, and we cannot guide.

Watching someone say their Shahadah also brings to mind the overwhelming feeling of truly embracing Islam. From a hadith qudsi (Divine Hadith) we know that Allah comes closer to us as we come closer to Him, and it’s been my experience that certain acts of worship, performed with sincerity, nourish the soul beyond the imagination.

For me, saying Shahadah was the first such experience I had being overcome with faith in this way, and I’ve seen that experience reflected on the face (and in the tears) of many others when they also embrace Islam. Do you wonder why so often converts cry at their Shahadah?

At the very least, their sins have been forgiven. Even if they don’t know it, all their bad deeds are now written as good, and the effect of that beautiful purification-as we are being purified of our sins by Allah-is not merely academic. It can be felt in the heart, and so it’s extremely emotional.

Tonight, getting to see that, just reminded me of what I should be striving for.

_________________________

Source: ibnatalhidayah.blogspot.com.

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Prayers: A Special Connection with God

Prayers: A Special Connection with God

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God.

 

Islam signifies the subjection of all activities in all walks of life to the Law of God Almighty, and leaving nothing to the whims and fancies of anyone else. God has commanded the believers to declare:

Truly, my prayer, my service of sacrifice, my life, and my death, are (all) for Allah (God), the Cherisher of the Worlds (Al-An`am 6:162)

This means that a Muslim is a person who has submitted his or her whole self and whole life to God, so that the first duty of a Muslim is to lead a life of obedience to God alone.

And the above quoted commandment also implies that it is wrong to consider our lives to consist of water-tight compartments, saying that “this is the part of my life within the bounds of religion where I am bound to obey God, and these are the secular areas of life where God’s laws are irrelevant.”

The twin sources of Islam — the Qur’an and the Sunnah — teach  that when God Almighty is accepted as the Creator, Sustainer, and Lawgiver, we cannot go after “other gods”.

Islam is a complete way of life that asks its followers to mold their entire lives in accordance with its principles laid down in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. This in fact is not an unrealistic idea; it only means a change of perspective or approach.

Of course, such a change is bound to have its impact on our life, both internal and external; but for those who wish to lead a good life here, Islam is the way.

The important point to note here is that Islam does not impose on its adherents rituals for the sake of rituals, as they are likely to be performed mechanically without understanding their meaning in life.

God says in the Qur’an, which Muslims believe is His word, what means:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give zakah (regular charity); to fulfill the contracts which you have made; and to be firm and patient in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

That is to say, if our rituals do not have any impact on our day-to-day life, they are of little value. Similarly, if we do our daily duties that are considered to be outside the generally recognized borders of religious ritual with sincerity and faith expecting reward from God, they too become acts of worship.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once told his Companions that they will be rewarded even for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The Companions were astonished. They asked: “How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?”

The Prophet asked them: “Suppose you satisfy your desires illegally, don’t you think that you will be punished for that?”

They replied, “Yes”. “So” he said, “by satisfying it legally with your wives, you are rewarded for it.” (Muslim)

This all-inclusive approach to worship encourages people to purify and spiritualize their whole lives. But this is not to disparage ritualistic worship. In fact, rituals, if performed with a full understanding of their inner significance, equip the worshippers with a moral and spiritual power that help them to carry out their daily activities in the various spheres of life informed by the guidance of God.
Thus in Islam, the term “worship” (in Arabic, `ibadah) does not signify merely the “pillars of Islam” such as Prayer, fasting, charity or pilgrimage. It includes all the activities of a believer; in fact, it stands for everything a Muslim believes, says, or does. When believers perform all the activities of their lives seeking the pleasure of God, then all their deeds become worship. Naturally, this also includes the rituals they perform, such as prayer.

We can see that the worship of God as visualized in Islam — whether it is ritual or non-ritual — prevents evil thoughts and actions, thereby purifying life. Indeed, sincere Islamic worship trains the individual to lead a life of complete obedience and submission to God.

Prayers

Of all the forms of ritual worship in Islam, Prayer (in Arabic, salah) is unique. It is typical of Islam and is entirely different from the usual kind of Prayer familiar in other religions.
The prostration in Prayer symbolizes the worshipper’s total and unconditional submission to God Almighty. Of course, certain supplications are recited in Prayer, following the Prophetic teaching.
But the objective of Prayer is not this-worldly. Muslims can pray to God for the solution of the immediate problems they confront any time, in any language. But they are not authorized to change the language of the utterances in Prayer, nor can they change its form or content. Muslims have to strictly adhere to its form as taught to by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Muslims believe that God has made Prayer compulsory for all His prophets as well as their followers, as it is evident from the Qur’an. To Moses, God said what means,

Verily I am Allah: There is no god but Me: so worship Me only and establish regular prayer for My remembrance( Ta-Ha 20:14)

The important aspect of a believer’s faith is his or her relationship with God; and nowhere is this relationship exemplified as in Prayer. Prayer lifts a person spiritually towards his or her Creator and if it is done with devotion and sincerity, his or her heart will be filled with the love of God and the hope of Paradise.
Praying five times a day helps Muslims to constantly remember God and seek His forgiveness and pleasure. Besides, it offers an occasion for repentance, so that they earnestly ask Allah for forgiveness of the sins they committed. Prophet Muhammad said: “Imagine a stream outside a person’s door and imagine that he bathes in it five times a day; do you think he would have any dirt on him?” The people said, “Not at all.” The Prophet then said, “The five daily prayers are like that: Allah wipes away the sins by them.” (Al-Bukhari)
The most important aspect of a person’s relationship with God, is his or her strong faith and sincerity. This relationship with God is clearly borne out and strengthened by Prayer. If the Prayer is performed with true devotion to God and with a sincere heart, it will have a lasting effect on the person.
God says in the Qur’an what means:

Establish regular prayer: for prayer restrains from shameful and evil deeds; and remembrance of Allah is the greatest (thing in life) without doubt. And Allah knows the (deeds) that you dd. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

Certainly a person’s God-consciousness awakened by Prayer strengthens him or her against temptations arising from the weakness of the flesh.
Again God says in the Qur’an what means:

Truly man was created very impatient; fretful, when evil touches him; and niggardly, when good reaches him; not so those devoted to Prayer and those who remain steadfast to their prayer(Al-Ma`arij 70:19-23)

Thus, it is the Prayer that enables believers to keep in constant touch with their Creator and to keep steady in the face of the temptations and the pressures life.

____________________

Taken with slight modifications from Onislam.net.

 

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New Muslims Prayer

Is Tarawih Mandatory on Women?

What is the ruling of Tarawih prayer? Is it permissible for women to offer it at the masjid? Click here to find the answers to these questions and more…

Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, fasting, and qiyam (prayer at night). Ramadan comes with mercy, forgiveness of sins, patience, spiritual nourishment and hygiene. Fasting in Ramadan is a way to perfect our behavior, sharpen our sense of responsibility and unite our nation.

In his response to a question about performing Tarawih (night prayer in Ramadan) for women, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:

According to the consensus of Muslim scholars, Tarawih is not considered mandatory on either men or women. It is only considered a recommended act. There is no evidence that it is an obligatory act of worship. As far as I know, no jurist or imam of Fiqh has expressed such an opinion.

Moreover, Tarawih can be performed individually at home or at the mosque. If for some reason you cannot go to the mosque, you can offer it at home.

It is reported that the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and other companions would pray Tarawih at home. Some of them even would open the mushaf (copy of the Qur’an) and read from it while performing Tarawih.

Based on the above, if you are not able to go to the mosque, you would not be deprived of the reward or blessings if you perform Tarawih at home.

The prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah, professor of the Islamic Studies & Comparative Religions at Al-Azhar Univ., adds:

Tarawih prayer is recommended and performing it in a Mosque is desirable.

Nevertheless, all Muslims, whether women or men or even children, should attend it at the Masjid because this displays the unity of Muslims and cements their relationships.

Finally, remember that we should honor the month of Ramadan to the utmost of our ability because in this month the Qur’an, which is our light, guide, and legal and spiritual force, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

________________

Source: onislam.net.

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The Night Prayer

‘Qiyam’ means standing and ‘Qiyam Al-Layl’ means standing in night. In the Islamic terminology, both terms refer to the voluntary night prayer, whose time extends from after `Isha’ (Night) prayer until dawn. Qiyam Al-Layl is also known as Tahajjud.

A widespread misconception is that Tahajjud is a different night prayer than Qiyam. The true is that there is only one voluntary night prayer known by different names.

The Excellence of Night Prayer

Numerous Prophetic narrations and Qura’nic verses mention the excellence of night prayer and the merit of those who perform it regularly. Allah the Almighty says:

O you who wraps himself [in clothing], arise [to pray] the night, except for a little – half of it – or subtract from it a little or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation. (Al-Muzzammil 73:1-4)

It is reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Allah, Our Lord, descends (in a manner befitting His Majesty) to the nearest heaven to us of this universe during the last third of the night and says: ‘Is there anyone to call upon Me so that I shall respond to him (fulfill his prayer). Is there anyone to ask of Me that I may grant his request. Is there anyone to seek My forgiveness so that I shall pardon him (and forgive his sins)’.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

`A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet said: “The most beloved deeds to Allah are the most constant, even if they were little.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

She said in another narration: “Do not ever stop praying Qiyam. The Prophet never ceased praying it. When he was sick or weak, he prayed sitting.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet also said: “You should pray Qiyam Al-Layl, for it is the habit of the righteous people who came before you, and it will bring you closer to your Lord, expiate for bad deeds, prevent sin, and expel disease from the body.” (At-Tirmidhi and Ahmad)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “The best of prayer after those prescribed (i.e. obligatory prayer) is that in the depth of night.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) also reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “May Allah have mercy on a man who wakes up at night, prays, and wakes his wife to pray; and if she refuses, he sprinkles water on her face. And may Allah have mercy on a woman who wakes up at night, prays, and wakes her husband to pray; and if he refuses, she sprinkles water on his face.” (Abu Dawud)

Again, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Verily, there is one hour during the (entire) night when any Muslim (submitting to the Will of Allah the Almighty) may call upon Allah and request anything of Him, regardless of whether the matter be worldly or of the hereafter. Allah, the Almighty will grant and fulfill the request. This is the case every night.” (Muslim)

Those who regularly perform the night prayers are the righteous and are more deserving of Allah’s bounty and mercy. Allah says:

Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and springs, accepting what their Lord has given them. Indeed, they were before that doers of good. They used to sleep but little of the night, and in the hours before dawn they would ask forgiveness. (Adh-Dhariyat 51: 15-18)

Allah says that those who do not possess these qualities cannot be treated as equal to those who possess them. He The Almighty says:

Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding. (Az-Zumar 39: 9)

Etiquettes of Night Prayer

The following acts are Sunnah (recommended) for the one who wishes to perform the night prayers. Upon going to sleep, one should make the intention to perform the prayers. Abu Abu Ad-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Prophet said: “Whoever goes to his bed with the intention of getting up and praying during the night, and sleep overcomes him until the morning comes, he will have recorded for him what he had intended, and his sleep will be a charity for him from his Lord.”(An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)

Upon waking, one should wipe one’s face, use a Miswaak (tooth stick), and make this supplication: “There is no god but You, Glory be to You, I seek forgiveness from You for my sins, and I ask for Your mercy. O Allah, increase my knowledge and let my heart not swerve after You have guided me, and bestow mercy upon me from Yourself. All praise be to Allah who has given us back life after our death and unto Him is the resurrection.”

Then, one should recite the last ten verses of chapter Aal-`Imran, then one should say, “O Allah, to You belongs the praise. You are the Light of the heavens and the earth and what is therein. And to You belongs the praise. You are the truth and Your promise is true. And the meeting with You is true. And the paradise is true. And the Fire is true. And the prophets are true. And Muhammad is true. And the Hour is true. O Allah, to You have I submitted. And in You have I believed. And in You have I put my trust. And to You have I turned. And by You I argue. And to You do I turn for my decisions. Forgive me of my former and latter sins, and those done in private and those done in public. You are Allah, there is no god besides You.”

One should begin the night prayer with two quick rak`ahs and then may pray whatever he wishes after that. `A’ishah said: “When the Prophet prayed during the late-night, he would begin his prayers with two quick rak`ahs.” (Muslim)

The Recommended Time for Night Prayer

The night prayer may be performed in the early part of the night, the middle part of the night, or the latter part of the night, but after the obligatory `Isha’ (Night) prayer.

Anas described the prayer of the Prophet as: “If we wanted to see him praying during the night, we could see him praying. If we wanted to see him sleeping during the night, we could see him sleeping. And sometimes he would fast for so many days that we thought he would not leave fasting throughout that month. And sometimes he would not fast (for so many days) that we thought he would not fast during that month.” (Al-Bukhari)

Commenting on this subject, Ibn Hajar said: “There was no specific time in which the Prophet would perform his night prayer, but he would do whatever was easiest for him.”

Best Time for Night Prayer

It is best to delay this prayer to the last third portion of the night. Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said: “Our Lord descends to the lowest heaven during the last third of the night, inquiring: ‘Who will call on Me so that I may respond to him? Who is asking something of Me so I may give it to him? Who is asking for My forgiveness so I may forgive him?”‘ (Abu Dawud)

The Number of Rak`ahs (units of prayer) to be Performed during Night Prayer

The night prayer does not entail a specific number of rak`ahs which must be performed nor is there any maximum limit which has to be performed. It would be fulfilled even if one just prayed one rak`ah of Witr after the obligatory night prayer.

Samurah Ibn Jundub (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah ordered us to pray during the night, a little or a lot, and to make the last of the prayer the Witr prayer.” (At-Tabarani and Al-Bazzar)

It is Preferable to pray eleven or thirteen Rak`ahs for Night Prayer

One may choose between praying them all together or to separate them. `A’ishah said: “The Messenger of Allah never prayed more than eleven rak`ahs, during Ramadan or otherwise. He would pray four rak`ahs, and don’t ask about how excellent they were or how lengthy they were. Then, he would pray four rak`ahs, and don’t ask about how excellent they were or how lengthy they were. Then, he would pray three rak`ahs. I asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, do you sleep before praying Witr?’ He replied: ‘O `A’ishah, my eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.”‘ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

`A’ishah said: “The prayer of the Messenger of Allah during the night would be ten rak`ahs and then he would make Witr with one rak`ah.”

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Source: islamweb.net.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

New Muslims & Loneliness

believer

When the person truly obeys Allah, he is overcome with the feeling that he and all the forces of this creation are acting as one in worshipping the One and only true God.

When many Muslims think of Ramadan they can remember beautiful moments spent together as a family: eating suhoor (pre-fast meal) and iftar (meal to break the fast), bustling into the car to make it to the masjid for Tarawih (late night congregational prayer), celebrating `Eid together.

Yet speaking to some reverts will reveal the deep sense of loneliness they can experience at iftar or on `Eid day. This article had initially been intended for any revert brothers or sisters experiencing loneliness during Ramadan. However as I came to realize, this feeling of loneliness is not restricted to reverts or the month of Ramadan, so I hope it will be of benefit to whomever and whenever they feel utterly alone. So here’s an ayah (verse) to reflect upon from the Book of Allah, a mercy, healing, and source of peace for the believers.

Whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts Allah, and He is the Exalted in might, the Wise. (Al-Hadid 57:1)

“Whatever is in the heavens and earth”

We should not feel we’re alone in worshipping our Creator and try to fulfill our sole purpose on this earth. You may be the only Muslim in your house, neighborhood, or even town, but remember that everything in the heavens and earth – the trees, birds, plants, animals, and so on – are also declaring the perfection of Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exalted is He).

The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts (Allah) by His praise, but you do not understand their (way of) exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving. (Al-Israa’ 17:44)

Do you not see that to Allah prostrates whoever is in the heavens and whoever is on the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, the moving creatures, and many of the people? But upon many the punishment has been justified. And he whom Allah humiliates – for him there is no bestower of honor. Indeed, Allah does what He wills. (Al-Hajj 22:18)

So let’s remember that the greatest blessing that Allah bestowed us with, out of His bounty, kindness, and mercy towards us, is that He guided us to be Muslims. Whether the people and environment around us do not know, realize, or fulfill their purpose, let’s remember that we are in the company of all that is in the heavens and earth exalting Allah and declaring His perfection—from the noble angels to tiny ants. (There is no deity worthy of worship but God).

The Angels

Beyond the creatures visible to us, the angels that belong to the realm of the unseen are in the constant worship of Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us: “The sky creaked and it had the right to creak: it had not a single space of four fingers on which an angel was not prostrating (in worship).” (Al-Bukhari)

Subhan Allah (Glory be to God)! We can also obtain a sense of blessed company by pushing ourselves to remain in our place after prayer:

“The angels supplicate in favor of one of you so long as he remains in the place where he has performed prayer and does not break his ablution or leave. They (the angels) say: ‘O Allah! Forgive him, O Allah! Have mercy on him.”’ (Malik, Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We can use this time to say the sunnah adhkar (remembrances of Allah; specific du`a’, supplications, in this context) after salah (prayer) and do dhikr (remembrance of Allah). This quiet time and space to remember Allah has great spiritual benefit. It brings calmness and contentment of the heart as well as provides us with renewed spiritual strength and endurance.

The Outcome

So what’s the effects of the realization that “…every created being is in a state of submission to Allah and worships Him in a manner appropriate to its situation. The sun, moon, stars, trees and animals are all in a state of subjugation and (prostration) to Allah, and all of them worship Him in an appropriate manner”?

A believer may find ridicule and rejection, hindrance and objection, in his endeavor to obey Allah and adhere to the straight path. However “Allah’s soldiers are with him. The angels worship Allah and dedicate their lives to Him as the believer does. Thus, this true believer is not alone on the road to Allah.”  (Kitab Al-Iman: According to the Classical Works of Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, by Dr. Muhammad Naim Yasin)

As Sheikh Jamal Al-Din M. Zarabozo puts it: “An astounding result of this realization is that when the person truly obeys Allah, he is overcome with the feeling that he and all the forces of this creation are acting as one in worshipping the one and only true God and Creator.” (Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process, and Means)

Action Points

Remain sitting at your place of prayer a bit longer, as much as you can, whenever possible, remembering Allah (Exalted is He).

Allah is the One Who is praised extensively, and all that He does is praiseworthy, so we should remember His decree is praiseworthy and we are rewarded for showing patience and contentment. Be happy that we are among those whom Allah has guided to worship Him. We discussed how everything in the heavens and earth declares the perfection of Allah.

Learn a du`aa’ that our Prophet used to say in ruku` (bowing in prayer) and sujud (prostration): “Subooh, Qudoos, Rabb Al-Malaa’ikati wa Ar-RooH.” (the One Who is Exalted a lot, the One Who is very pure, the Lord of the angels and of Jibreel (Gabriel).

Also from this root of sa-ba-ha in subooh comes the dhikrsubhan Allah’  (Glory be to God). Choose a time every morning, daytime, or evening, to reap the following benefit: “Whoever says ‘Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi’ (Allah is free from imperfection and to Him belongs all the praise) 100 times a day, all his (minor) sins will be wiped out even if they are equal to the extent of the foam of the ocean.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Surely we’ll fell less lonely when praising and remembering Allah.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

The Deeds Most Beloved to God: The Gates to Goodness

First of all, the Muslim must commit to perfecting all the mandatory acts of worship. Thereafter, each one may find certain acts of worship which He likes most and make them His way to getting closer to the pleasure of Allah.

The Companions were keen to draw closer to Allah so; they used to ask the Prophet about the means for accomplishing that goal.

Here are some of the Prophet’s answers: (Note: The answers will vary according to the person and the situation)

Dhikr

Narrated Mu`adh ibn Jabal, I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is more beloved to Allah, He said: “To die while your tongue is wet with the remembrance of Allah.” (Ibn Hibban and At-Tabarani)

Praying on Time, Being Good to Parents, and Jihad

Narrated `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, ”I asked the Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds are most beloved to Allah? He said: ‘Praying on time” then I asked and which is next?

He said: ‘Kindness to parents’, then I asked, and which is next? He said: ‘Jihad in thecause of Allah’ and, if I asked him for more, he would have given me more.” (Al-Bukhari)

Devote all of your worship to Allah,

Be good to your Kin,

Ordain good and forbid bad

Itis reported from a man from Khath`am, who said, “I came to the Prophet and, he wasamongst his Companions and, I said, ‘you are the one who claims to be the messenger ofGod?’ He said: ‘Yes’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds is morebeloved to Allah?’ He said: ‘Faith in Allah’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which isnext?’ He said: ‘Kindness to the kin’. I said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, which is next?’ Hesaid, ‘Ordaining good and forbidding bad’.” (Abu Ya`la)

Be good to your Muslim brother,

Help him with his needs,

Pay off his debt, and bringhappiness to his heart

Control Your Anger and Rage

Narrated Ibn `Umar that a man came to the Prophet and said: Oh Messenger of Allah,which of the people is more beloved to Allah and which of the deeds is so? The Messenger of Allah said: “The most beloved of people to Allah are those who are mostbeneficial to the people, and the most beloved deeds to Allah, the most High, is to bring happiness to a Muslim, or ease his hardship, or to pay off his debt for him, or to end his hunger. And it is more beloved to me to walk with a brother of mine (in Islam), to run an errand for him than to make I`tikaf (seclusion) in this Masjid (in reference to the Masjid of Al-Madinah) for a month. And he who controls his anger, Allah will cover his shortcomings, and he who suppresses his rage despite being capable of taking it out(against his opponent), Allah will fill his heart with hope on the Day of Judgment, and he who walks with his brother to run an errand for him until it is done Allah will make his feet stable on the Day when feet will be paralyzed.“ (At-Tabarani)

Prayers, Zakat, Fasting, Hajj, Mustahab Fasting and Charity, Night Prayers, Jihad,Control Your Tongue.

Narrated by Mu’adhibnJabal: “I was traveling with the Prophet and, I was close to himwhile we are walking then, I asked him, ‘Oh Prophet of Allah, tell me of a deed that willenter me Paradise and keep me away from the Hell?’ He said, ‘You have asked about agreat matter, but it is easy for those whom Allah will make it easy for; worship Allah anddo not associate partners with him, perfectly perform the prayers, give Zakat (obligatory donations), fast the month of Ramadan and make pilgrimage to the House (Al-Ka`bah).’

And then he said, ‘Should I tell you about the gates of goodness! Fasting is a protection(from Allah’s punishment), Charity puts off the sins, and a man’s Prayer in the middle of the night’ and, then He recited the saying of Allah the Most High:

“Their sides forsake their beds…” until he reached”…that which they do.”, and,then he said, ‘Should I tell you of the head of the matter (meaning the religion), its pillar,and its peak?’ I said, ‘Yes, oh Messenger of Allah.’ He said, ‘The head of the matter andits pillar is the prayers and, its peak is Jihad,’ and, then he said, ‘should I tell you of themalak(the string that holds all the beads together) of the matter?’ I said, ‘Yes, Oh Messenger of God.’ So, he held his tongue and said, ‘Control that.’ Then I said, ‘OhMessenger of Allah, shall we be accounted for what we say?’ He said, ‘May your mother lose you Mu`adh! (Note: the phrase is not interpreted literally), and would anything befall the people in the Hell but the earnings of their tongues.’” (Ahmad and others)

Control Your Tongue and Be Good to Your Neighbors

On the authority of Anas, the Prophet said: “The faith of a servant is not put right until his heart is put right and, his heart is not put right until his tongue is put right and, the man whose neighbor does not feel safe from his harm, shall not enter Paradise.”(Ahmad)

Reciting the Book of Allah with Contemplation

Almighty Allah says,

And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may strengthen your heart thereby. And We haverevealed it to you gradually, in stages.(Al-Furqan 25:32)

Know that it is only Allah who guides and misguides and-as He said- all peoples’ hearts are between two of his fingers so, ask Him with humbleness, and humility, and, with certainty that without his help and favor you will perish.

Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us…(Aal `Imran 3:8)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj whichwas prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Islam & Life’s Struggles: What Is Missing in Your life?

nature seat

What is standing between you and God?

What do you struggle with in life? Do you ever wonder what is really missing in your life?

What is standing between you and true peace; between you and God?

In what do you believe? Do you really believe the things you believe in? Are you a true believer? And how do you know you are one? What should we do to enhance our faith?

Do you feel God’s love? Are you struggling with perfecting your faith and getting really close to Allah?

Have you asked yourself these questions before?

Some fellow American Muslims were asked these and other similar questions and here are their responses…

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Source: ibn.net

 

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