Acts of Worship New Muslims

Ramadan’s Most Special Days: Unmatched Rewards

What is special about Ramadan’s last ten days; why are they that blessed? What do I do in these days? What are the rewards for these days?

Watch Sheikh Yusuf Estes reflecting on the Holy Month of Ramadan and its precious last ten days…

The Most Special Days

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

New Muslims & Ramadan’s Last Precious Ten Days

By Amal Stapley

The last ten days of Ramadan are here. How do you find yourself, your heart and worship so far? How’s Ramadan going for you?”

It’s the perennial question on everybody’s lips at this time of Ramadan, and how are you answering it?

Insha’Allah you’re able to say that it’s going well for you and you’re achieving your targets and gaining the benefit from this blessed month. But don’t worry if you can’t say that fully yet, as the best has been saved for last!

We’re now on the final run down to `Eid, having passed through the ten days of asking for mercy and the ten days of asking for forgiveness, and now we’re into the ten days of asking for protection from the Fire. These last ten days are the most precious days of the most precious month.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) “would strive (to do acts of worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time”. (Muslim)

So this is the time to follow his beautiful example and really start to focus on your `ibadah (worship). So how can you, as a new Muslim, do that?

Be Generous in Thoughts…

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the time to be generous in both your thoughts and your deeds.

It’s very easy as a new Muslim to be critical of other people, especially about other Muslim’s practice of Islam. Sometimes we get so carried away with our own striving to please Allah that we forget that Islam for others isn’t something new and exciting. It’s something they have been living with all their lives; they may not have sought knowledge as enthusiastically as you have been doing or they may be experiencing an iman dip.

So instead of criticizing other Muslims, who find it difficult to practice Islam as well as you’d like them to, try to understand them and then try to gently encourage them. The same goes for non-Muslims. Remember back to your pre-Islamic days and how you justified your behavior? Be generous in your thoughts of others and instead of criticizing, find an excuse and also ask Allah to guide them.

“…and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allah, and because of this He sent the bringers of good news and the warners…” (Al-Bukhari)

… and Deeds

Also strive to be generous in your deeds. Look out for any opportunities to do a good turn for your family, neighbors and friends. Use your initiative and show them the best face of Islam that you can. You could even invite them to join you in iftar (breaking fast) or just take some food round to them.

This is also a great time for giving extra in charity, as its reward is increased. Many people choose this time to give their zakat al-mal (obligatory charity on wealth) away to cleanse their wealth and to get the extra benefit. If you don’t personally know someone from the eight categories who is deserving of zakah, look out for charities that support people in your local area or country, and if there is no-one locally in need, seek out those in other countries in need. Many charities have special Ramadan drives to take advantage of this generous time, so choose the most reliable trustworthy ones, as far as you can.

The last ten days of Ramadan is a great time to clear out your cupboards. I make it an annual habit to go through mine and give away all my unwanted and unused items or send them to be recycled. If you have items in the back of your cupboards that you have no use for and that others might benefit from, give them away or find a local charity or charity shop to give them to. If you have clothes that you haven’t worn for a year, especially your old pre-Islamic ones, do you really need to keep them? And don’t just give away the tatty ones; give the good stuff away too:

Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. (Aal `Imran 3:92)

I`tikaf or Qiyam

One of the best ways of really focusing on your worship is to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque; cutting out all worldly cares and just concentrating on getting closer to Allah. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the religion from good practicing Muslims and many mosques hold extra talks and classes at this time. If you’ve been able to plan for this and make arrangements to do this, do make the most of it, and do lots of du`aa’ that the rest of us will be able to do it next year with you!

If you can’t spend all the last ten days in the mosque, try to spend some time at least, even if it’s only over the weekend or maybe at night between Maghrib and Fajr. As long as you make your intention for i`tikaf (retreat in the mosque), your reward will be in accordance with the amount of time you spend there. The same applies to sisters too. If your local mosque has provision for sisters, follow in the steps of the Prophet’s wives and spend some time in i`tikaf too.

If you really can’t get to a mosque, make sure that you increase your efforts to worship at night either at home or with other new (or not-so-new) Muslims in your area. You could maybe organize Qiyam (Night Worship) gatherings, so those who live with their non-Muslim families can come and worship in a relaxed Islamic atmosphere.

Wherever you spend your time, find a quiet place where you can bury yourself in worship of your Creator, away from the internet, TV and family worries. If you have slipped in any of your targets of reading the Qur’an in your language or in Arabic, or memorizing Qur’an or new du’a`, this is the perfect time to catch up. You can get out your du’a` list and use this time to supplicate for everything you want Allah to help you or others with; especially for Him to guide your family to Islam. And you can read inspiring books and articles and make pledges about the changes you’re going to make in your life. And just take time out to contemplate on Allah’s blessings and mercy.

Last Precious Ten Days & Laylat Al-Qadr

“Look for Laylat-Al-Qadr (The Night of Power) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)

This is the most precious night of the precious days of the precious month. Whatever you do, make plans to spend the odd nights of the last ten (i.e. the night before the odd day, as Islamic days start from Maghrib) in deep worship, either in the mosque, with friends or at home. Set aside all other plans so you can get the reward of this night, which is worth that of a thousand months. Imagine one night’s worship being equivalent to worshipping consistently for 83 years and 4 months! How can you afford to miss it?

This is a great night to ask Allah to keep you on the path He has guided you to, to ask Him to strengthen your faith and your wisdom, and to ask Him to help you find the path by which you can best serve Him and His Ummah. And while you’re there, add this du`aa’ as well:

`A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Laylat-Al-Qadr was, what should I say in it?”

He said

“Say: Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee (O Allah! You are the One who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me).”



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Ramadan: Reshape Your Life with the Qur’an

The month of Ramadan is a time when we, despite the struggle, keep ourselves away from that which is otherwise permissible and a necessity in our life. For the past eleven months, at some level we have given preference to our physical self, in terms of nourishment, than our soul. We’ve done things we shouldn’t have, we’ve probably neglected some duties towards Allah (Exalted is He) that we shouldn’t have. Maybe we haven’t been reciting much of the Qur’an or maybe we’ve been neglecting some of the prayers.

This month is a time when Allah commands us to limit our physical nourishment and instead focus on the spiritual – in order to give life to our hearts and fix and improve our spiritual state. This is the time to rise up and acknowledge our deficiencies during the past months and resolve to move ahead with the aim to improve our relationship with Allah, with His Book, and with His Messenger (peace be upon him).

Ramadan, as an institution, is designed as a whole to bring our hearts back to life, thus allowing the light of taqwa (God-consciousness) to illuminate itself within us. The fasting during the day reminds us that our purpose in life isn’t merely to satisfy the desires of our self (nafs) and this reminder leads us to focus instead on feeding our soul. We are taught during the day to empty our hearts from the desires of our nafs so that at night we can fill it up instead with the light of the Qur’an.

Therefore, we find the next logical step is the Taraweeh (the night prayer offered in Ramadan) where we stand after a long day listening to the Qur’an being recited in prayer in order to give our soul its much required nourishment. As we get in tune with this during the early phases of the month and our hearts are revived and rejuvenated, the bar is raised and during the final ten nights we stand even longer and even later in prayer in the Tahajjud (late night prayer) seeking the rewards of the Laylat Al-Qadr, reciting Qur’an and engaging in `ibadah (worship) so as to fill our hearts with the sweetness of worship.

Allah says:

The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion… (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

The interesting thing to note about this ayah (verse) here is that Allah at the mention of Ramadan didn’t talk about fasting first. When we think about Ramadan, what comes to our mind immediately? Usually, our first thought is fasting right? But we find that Allah instead couples Ramadan firstly with the Qur’an as if to say that Ramadan’s first and foremost role in our lives should be to increase our relationship with the Qur’an and only then does He follow it with the command to fast in the month.

The goal of fasting is taqwa, but what actually allows us to establish taqwa in our lives if not the Qur’an? So the logical step for us is that we need to try and prepare ourselves towards establishing a relationship with the Book of Allah. As mentioned earlier, fasting trains us to empty our hearts from desires and aspires towards a loftier goal and that goal can only be achieved with the soul food that the Qur’an provides.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression. (Al-Kahf 18:14)

This verse is talking about the story of the Youth of the Cave when they stood up and said to the people in their vicinity that they only worshipped Allah. They were able to do that only because Allah strengthened their hearts. However, the interesting thing to notice here is that they made the first move to get closer to Allah – Allah only strengthened their hearts when they stood up. Meaning, they had to commit to following the truth and when this commitment was proven by their action, Allah made their efforts easy for them.

Likewise, in Ramadan, we need to make sure to put in the effort to establish that bond with the Qur’an. Once we start making the effort, Allah will make it easier for us and we will start tasting the sweetness of servitude. We need to go into this month not just with the intention of improving ourselves, but with actual preparation by increasing in good so that our good actions are a reason by which Allah gives us the ability to come out of Ramadan improved and forgiven. As the Messenger told us, ”Whoever fasts Ramadan out of iman (faith) and seeking Allah’s reward then his past and future sins are forgiven.” (Ahmad)

Let’s try and set some goals for ourselves with regards to the Qur’an. If we don’t know how to read it correctly, let’s try to learn. If we don’t recite it often, let us take the time out every day to recite. If we are already reciting, then we can try and add some more or increase the frequency. If we listen to music in our iPods, in our cars and on the way to school or work, then let’s empty our hearts and devices from music and instead try and fill it up with the Qur’an for this month.

Let’s begin to reflect upon the guidance in the Qur’an and try to internalize the lessons therein. Let’s aim to set a powerful foundation for the Qur’an in our lives by which we can establish routines that will allows us to begin a functional relationship with the Qur’an in Ramadan and continue it thereafter so that once the devils are let out, we have a solid defense mechanism, taqwa, within our hearts to help us.

After all, this is the month of the Qur’an and that necessitates that we give special attention to this Book during the month. Our aim should be to build this relationship, not just for the 30 days of Ramadan but rather setting a strong, deep, unshakeable foundation for a relationship that will flourish for the next eleven months.



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Excellence and Rulings of the Last Ten Days of Ramadan

Ramadan is the best of all the months because of the many blessings, favours, mercies, forgiveness and protection from the Hell-fire bestowed upon worshippers during it. One of the best favours ever bestowed upon people is, however, the revelation of the Gracious Quran.

It was the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was first sent down

The best book, the Gracious Quran, was revealed to the best of all messengers, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) through the best of all angels, Gabriel (peace be upon him) in the best of all the months, Ramadan. Hence, Prophet Muhammad’s Ummah (Community) is the best of all people. Allah says,

“You (believers) are the best Community ever brought forth for (the good of) humankind: You enjoin what is right. And you forbid what is wrong. And you believe in God.” (Quran 3:110)

Having known that Ramadan is the best of all months, you should know that the last ten days and nights of it are the best of these days and nights of the month. On the other hand, there are the first ten days of the last month in the lunar calendar, the month of Dhul-hijjah. The virtues of these days are very well-known in the Gracious Quran and The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Which is better, the last ten days of Ramadan or the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah?

In reply to this question, Shaikh al-Islam, Ibn Taimiyah said,

“The daylight time is better in the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah than the last ten days of Ramadan. However, the nights are better in the last ten days of Ramadan than those of Dhul-hijjah.”

The nights are better in the last ten days of Ramadan because there is Lailat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree). On the other hand, the daylight is better in the first ten days of Dhul-hijjah because of the 9th day, the Day of Arafat, and the 10th day, Eid Al-Ad-ha. On these two days, Muslims perform most rites of Hajj (Pilgrimage).

The last ten nights of Ramadan

It is highly recommended that people spare no effort in worship during these nights so that they can be among those who worship Allah at the Lailat al-Qadr. The worship of Allah during this night is better than the worship during a thousand months without that night.  Also, it is a sunnah of the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to increase worship during those nights.

‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year; and he would devote himself more (in the worship of Allah) in the last ten nights of Ramadan than he strove in earlier part of the month. (Muslim)

It is also recommended that family members encourage each other to spend most of the night worshipping Allah.

‘A’isha (RAA) narrated, ‘With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. keep away from his wives) and used to stay up praying all night, and he would also wake his wives (to pray and recite Qur’an etc..).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Lailat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree)

Lailat al-Qadr is one of the last ten nights of Ramadan. It’s not known which specific night it is. Allah concealed it to test people so that it can become clear who is keen on seeking its virtues and blessings. To pass the test, Muslims strive to do more acts of worship during these nights. These acts of worship include performing the night prayer, reciting the gracious Quran, making du’a (supplication), etc.

Moreover, Allah concealed it to shower His servants with His Mercy. This means that if people increase their worship during these blessed nights, this will bring them closer to Allah besides the greater reward they shall get.  The reward for worship and the virtues of this night is the greatest of all the year. Allah says,

“I swear by the Quran, the clear Book! Indeed, it is We (alone) who have sent it down in a blessed night. For, indeed, it is We (alone) who are giving (humanity) forewarning (of a nearing Judgment). In that (blessed night) every wise affair is determined.” (Quran 44:2-4)

The Quran describes Lailat al-Qadr as a blessed night because of the many virtues and blessings bestowed upon the believers on this night. Moreover, the revelation of the gracious Quran is one of the blessings of this night.

The meanings of “al-Qadr

First, al-Qadr means decree. So, on Lailat al-Qadr, every wise affair or decree is transferred from the Preserved Tablet of Heaven- the timeless record of all things- to the angelic scribes who write down the decrees of the coming year including life span, provision, and what will happen until the end of the year.

Second, it also means very valuable. Hence, the reward for worship on that night is better and has more value than any other night of the year. It is even much better than the worship during over 83 years.

The reward for performing night prayer on lailat al-Qadr

Muslims spend more time praying on the last ten nights. They perform night prayers after Salat al-‘isha’ (the evening prayer). Because it usually takes a long time, they take a break before they continue to perform Salat Al-Tahjjud (another name for night prayer) usually after midnight.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whosoever performs Qiyam (night prayer) during Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Decree), with Faith and being hopeful of Allah’s reward, will have his former sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Surat al-Qadr

Allah says,

“Indeed, (it is) We (who) have sent this (Quran) down (from on high) on the Night of (Empowering) Decree. And do you realize what the Night of (Empowering) Decree is. The Night of (Empowering) Decree is better than a thousand months! Therein do the angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) descend, by the permission of their Lord, with every (divine) commandment. Peace it is till the rise of dawn!” (Quran 97)

This is the 97th chapter of the Gracious Quran which also stresses that the Quran was first revealed on that night. The angels descend on this night with goodness, blessings and mercies. Lailat al-Qadr is a night of peace to the believers as a great number of them are freed from the punishment in the Hell-fire. This continues till dawn.

The best du’a (supplication) made during those nights

Du’a is one of the best acts of worship made especially during those nights. Everyone can make his own du’a or plea. However, the following du’a should be made often:

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! If I realize Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree), what should I supplicate in it?” He (ﷺ) 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).” [Al-Tirmidhi].

Going on a ritual retreat in a mosque (I’tikaf)

I’tikaf is one of the recommended acts of worship observed for the last ten days of Ramadan. People remain in the mosque to worship Allah. They do not go out of the mosque except for necessary needs. It starts when the sun sets on the 20th day of Ramadan till the end of the month.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to seclude himself (in the mosque) during the last ten nights of Ramadan. He would say, “Search for Lailat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) in the last ten nights of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

If a person cannot observe I’tikaf, they should spend as much time as they can in the mosque especially during the night.

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