Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Invocations for Breaking the Fast


Thahabadh-dhama'u wabtallatil-'urooqu, wa thabatal-'ajru 'inshaa'Allaah.

The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills.

Reference: Abu Dawud

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Switch off the TV during Ramadan.

doing something beneficial. Here are some ideas
  •    Set aside some time every day to read Qur’an.
  •       Help out more in your home.
  •       Spend time with your brothers and sisters.
  •       Visit friends who are good for you.
  •       Read! Make sure it is something from which you’ll learn something.
  •       Take up a hobby like any kind of craft, collecting things, and so on.
  •       Get a CD about some Islamic subject.

 http://areweprepared.ca

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Muslim’s Day in Ramadan

Ramadan is a month of seeking forgiveness and accumulating maximum reward. A hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allāh be pleased with him) states that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:
“Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said: ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me’. For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time of joy when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of Musk.” [Muslim]
We set high aims for this month but achieve only a little because we are not prepared. We continue juggling between our distractions and our priorities during the month and by the time we have a routine the month is nearing its end.

We have all heard the quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Ramadan preparations should begin at least thirty days before the month approaches. The sahabah (may Allāh be pleased with them) used to prepare six months in advance. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) trained himself for the tough month of fasting by fasting the first fifteen days of Sha’ban. This indicates that we need a plan to have a successful Ramadan.
Before we work on our schedule for Ramadan let’s first identify the areas that we need to work on. Ask yourself, “What are the actions that are dearer to Allah (glorified and exalted be He)?” These are salah, Qur’an, dhikr, dua, sadaqah, gaining and sharing knowledge and improving akh’laq (conduct). The next question to ponder upon is, “How can we get maximum benefit out of these actions?”

Salah

  • Make a goal of performing every fard prayer at its prescribed time. The best tip to help you in this regard is to prepare for the salah a little before the adhan goes on.
  • Add sunnah and voluntary prayers with each fard prayer that you perform (where applicable).
  • Perform different extra voluntary prayers such as Duha and Tahajjud.

Qur’an

  • Recite a quarter of a juz’ after every prayer.
  • As you recite take out a few minutes to read and understand the tafsir of the ayah that you just recited.
  • Work on your Arabic knowledge by identifying new words in the ayah and studying their syntax and morphology. Corpus Qur’an is an excellent website to study Arabic grammar. Another resource for understanding root words is Project Root List. Here you can search Arabic words by their root letters and find their meaning. Next time when a similar word appears you will have an idea of what it means.

Dhikr

  • Keep your tongue moist with dhikr throughout the day. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught us morning and evening adhkar that are beneficial for the dunya and in the hereafter.
  • Besides the morning and evening adhkar do astaghfar as much as you can. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) sought Allah’s forgiveness and repentance more than seventy times a day. Sincere repentance is our key to Jannah and a means for increase in provision. Don’t ignore it.

Dua

  • Prepare your dua list in advance. Write down everything that you really desire in your life, no matter how insignificant or silly it may appear to you.
  • Memorize the masnoon duas. Understand their meaning so that when you recite the dua, you do so with full khushu’ and sincerity.
  • Be creative and make dua cards for yourself and your family. Hang or place them around your house so that you are reminded to recite them.

Sadaqah

  • Besides the obligatory zakat keep some allowance for sadaqah.
  • Give your time, your company or sincere advice to someone, is also a sadaqah.
  • Look for opportunities to volunteer your time and skills.

Gaining and Sharing Knowledge

  • Work on your tajweed or help a friend in improving theirs.
  • Along with studying the tafsir, take out time to study the sahih ahadith books. Start from Sahih al-Bukhari.
  • Purchase or download awe-inspiring and motivational books to strengthen your iman. Kalamullah.com is a resourceful website that offers free books, lectures and articles.
  • Share your knowledge with others. Teach the tafsir that you learned with at least one more person; do so either verbally, through a Facebook status, a text message or an email.
  • Teach a hadith or masnoon dua to your family. Ask them the lessons they can derive from it.

Improving Akh’laq (conduct)

  • Utilizing the knowledge that you have acquired, start working on your character, righteousness and integrity.
  • Commit to leave one bad habit and seek sincerity from Allah (glorified and exalted be He). Avoid gossiping and backbiting. Do not concern yourself with other’s private matters but concentrate on cleansing your soul.

Now that we have identified the areas we can work on to extract maximum benefit, let’s plan a schedule:

Morning

  1. Wake up for Tahajjud by reciting the masnoon dua for waking up. Wash yourself and use the siwak.
  2. Perform Tahajjud in a quiet place seeking Allah’s love and forgiveness. Complete your prayer by asking dua for your concerns and worries.
  3. Prepare or help the family in setting up suhur. Pick nutritious food and thank Allah for His blessings.
  4. Perform Fajr as early as possible. Recite a portion of the Qur’an and study its tafsir. Make morning adhkar, read one hadith and perform Duha. Get ready to start your day.
  5. Keep reciting adhkar or astaghfar as you dress up for work or school. Listen to a lecture during your commute. Try to talk less and do more dhikr throughout the day.

Afternoon

  1. Perform Dhuhr. Recite a portion of Qur’an along with its tafsir.
  2. Recite five masnoon dua’s and do astaghfar.
  3. If you are not at work try to squeeze in a power nap for 15 – 20 minutes i.e. qailulah. This will give you the energy to stand up during Qiyaam-ul-Layl.

Evening

  1. Before the Asr prayer take out a book and improve your Islamic knowledge by reading a page or two. Perform wudhu and get ready for the prayer.
  2. Recite the Qur’an portion for Asr along with its tafsir.
  3. Recite five masnoon dua’s and do astaghfar.
  4. Give sadaqah either through money, giving food to a poor person or removing something harmful from the path.
  5. Exercise
  6. Help the family with preparations for iftar while keeping your tongue busy with adhkar.

Late Evening

  1. When the time for Maghrib approaches go into seclusion, take out your dua list and earnestly pray for whatever you want.
  2. Make dua loudly at the iftar table so that if there are any young children at home they too can pick it up from their elders.
  3. Recite the masnoon dua for breaking fast. Start with dates and thank Allah for your provision. Do not eat too much and consume food in moderation.
  4. As you wait for the Isha adhan, sit with your family and share an ayah that you learned today or a hadith. Ask them what they learned or a good deed that they performed during the day. Share with them stories of the Prophets and how they used to worship Allah (glorified and exalted be He).
  5. Recite the fourth part of the juz’ before you leave for Isha prayer.

Night

  1. Start preparing for the exclusive worship of Ramadan i.e. the Taraweeh prayers.
  2. Take your family along if there is an arrangement for women as well.
  3. Pray the Witr praye, recite Surah Mulk and go to bed in a state of ablution.
  4. Set an alarm for Tahajjud and recite the masnoon dua for sleeping. Contemplate on your life in this world, the Day of Judgment and the hereafter.
Make dua to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) to accept your good deeds, and give you the strength to perform better. The deeds dearest to Allah (glorified and exalted be He) are the ones that are done consistently. Stay committed to your goals and do not become a “Ramadan Muslim” only!

About the Author:
Uzma Awan is a freelance writer having interests in health, nutrition, sustainability and Islam. She journals her quest for a sustainable lifestyle at Embracing SustainabilityShe also has a Qur’an blog where she shares Qur’an tafseer.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

“Super Foods”…for Ramadaan

The modern world has swept us off our feet in so many ways… our dressing, our lifestyles and most noticeably our eating habits. We have so casually adapted the western culture of unhealthy eating, moving further and further away from the Noble teachings of the Quraan and Sunnah of The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him).
Yet, the newest nutritional research continues to discover the benefits of certain foods, labelled as “Super Foods”. They have also unravelled the great benefits of certain eating habits, such as washing the hands before and after meals, eating with the hands, not drinking with meals…just to mention a few. However, all of this has already been outlined in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah more than 1400 years ago.
We are certainly the losers if we do not make an effort to practice upon the Sunnah in our homes and kitchens. What better time to bring about these changes than now? Our beautiful Deen offers us the opportunity during the beautiful month of Ramadhaan, to bring about positive changes in our lives- changes that benefit us mentally, physically and spiritually which Insha Allah (Allah Willing) can be sustained for the future.
Physically, fasting gives the digestive system a much needed rest. Energy normally used for digestion is now directed to body detoxification, tissue repair and system healing. 
With that in mind I have chosen to highlight just a few of the favourite foods of our The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). With the special month of Ramadhaan fast approaching, we can all ensure we have these foods on our shopping lists. InshaAllah, by us adopting the lifestyle of The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) we will be rewarded enormously… Ameen.
DATES
Dates are the most mentioned fruit in the Quraan.  They are high in energy, fibre, iron, vitamins and minerals. The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)said: “ The home with no dates is like the home with no food”.(Hadith- Sahih Muslim)
The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)used to break his fast with fresh dates and a few sips of water. If he did not find fresh dates, he would use dried dates. He (pbuh) said: “When one of you breaks the fast let him do so with dates, for they are a blessing and if he cannot find dates then with water for it is a purification” (Hadith-Tirmidhi)
He often consumed dates with cucumber, butter, cream or bread. A dessert called “Haisa” made with ghee (butter), dates, cheese and yoghurt was also prepared.
Tips: At iftaar (breaking fast) time, dates can also be used to prepare date milkshakes, date chutney, date desserts as well as sprinkled over salads. For sehri (pre-dawn meal), dates can be used as a softened spread over bread or added into muffins, rusks etc. 
OLIVE OIL
Dieticians and nutritionist the world over have been advocating the use of olive oil for its excellent cardio-protective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Ongoing research is revealing more and more great benefits on the consumption and application of olive oil.
The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)said: “Eat the olive and use it as an ointment as it comes from a blessed tree”.(Hadith-Tirmidhi)
Tips: During Ramadhaan, olive oil is best used raw as a dip for breads or as a salad dressing. The lighter olive oils are well suited for cooking and baking purposes. Whole olives can be added to salads as well as de-pitted and added to breads, muffins, pies and pizzas. 
BARLEY

A recent Readers Digest article highlighted barley as one of the five healthiest foods we tend not to eat. Yet it was barley that was one of the staple foods in the diet of our The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). Modern research is discovering that barley has a very high soluble- fibre content. This helps to keep the arteries clear and healthy.  It has an extremely low glycaemic index (GI), which means it takes a longer time to digest, keeping one fuller for longer.

It is mentioned that The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) consumed barley in the following ways:

SAWIQ – a coarse broth prepared from ground wheat and barley - very much like a haleem (soup)
THARID Barley bread covered in gravy cooked with meat
TALBEENAH – A porridge prepared using barley and milk

A Hadith in Mishkaat narrates that The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)never used sifted flour in his lifetime. We should take lesson from this, as we are all moving to consuming more refined and processed foods where all the beneficial nutrients have been stripped off. Allah SWT mentions in the Holy Quraan grains with their husks, amongst His many gifts to us. Un-sifted flour as used by The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him)contains all the valuable nutrients found in the bran and germ layers and has a lower GI.

Tips: During Ramadhaan, barley can be added to soups and broths or prepared as a drink by boiling and straining mixture. A hadith in Bukhari mentions that The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) consumed “Sawiq” at iftaar. Barley flour can be used for preparing breads and rotis. Substitute 1.5 cups barley flour for every 3 cups regular flour. Cereals containing barley flakes like muesli can be purchased, or barley flakes can be added to biscuits, muffins, breads and other cereals.
Barley can be prepared as a filling porridge for sehri -Talbeenah.  Soak 1-2 tablespoons whole barley overnight in a flask filled with rapidly boiling water. At sehri time, strain water out and prepare porridge with honey and milk.  (Store bought “pearled barley” has been polished with some of the bran layer removed). 
HONEY
Modern research has been abuzz with the myriad of health benefits associated with honey- anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, energising tonic….to name a few.Our beautiful Deen has encouraged the use of honey 1400 years ago. The Holy Quraan mentions“there comes forth from the bee’s belly, a drink of varying colours, wherin is a healing for men.(Qur’an 16:68-69)

The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) further said “ Make use of two cures- honey and the Quraan”(Hadith-Ibn Majah)

The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) loved drinks that were sweet and cold and often consumed honey water.

Tips:  Honey can be used to sweeten items like tea, fresh juices, milk drinks and cereals etc.  Raw honey which is thicker and creamier has a lower GI, and can be mixed with cinnamon and used as a spread on toast for sehri.  

GRAPES AND RAISINS
Grapes have been found to contain resveratrol- a powerful antioxidant that protects the body on a cellular level from damage. The seeds are rich in flavonoids which lower the risk of fatty plaque accumulation on the lining of blood vessels to the heart.
The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) loved eating grapes. Hadith in Abu Dawood  mentions The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him )often consumed a drink “Nabeez”- prepared from soaked raisins. Nabeez can be prepared by soaking raisins after Esha (evening) prayer in clean water covered with a plate. The following morning the water can be drunk and the soaked fruit eaten or just use the blender to obtain a beautiful cloudy Nabeez. And, if you soak in the morning, drink in the evening.  Nabeez should be consumed within twelve hours of soaking to prevent fermentation.
Tips: Nabeez or fresh grape juice can  be prepared as a drink after Taraweeh (evening prayer in Ramadaan). Grapes can be served as part of salad or dessert. Raisins eaten with nuts can be enjoyed as a healthy munch after taraweeh salaat.
The Sunnah way of eating is the healthy way of eating.  InshaAllah, let us all strive to revive and bring alive the Sunnahs of The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) in our homes this Ramadhaan. I have highlighted just a few. Make an intention to eat on the floor, share eating utensils and to fill a third of your stomach with water, a third with food and a third left for air.
Besides the immense health benefits outlined above our greatest rewards really lie in following the Sunnah, as it comes in Hadith mentioned by The Noble Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him):
“ The person who follows my Sunnah is the one who truly loves me, and will be with me in Jannah”   (Hadith-Tirmidhi)
 Allah Ta’ala said to His Messenger (pbuh)“Say (to mankind), if you love Allah, follow me – Allah will love you and forgive your sins.” (Qur’an:3: 31)  
 Wishing you all healthy eating, the Sunnah way………………….Ramadhaan Mubarak!

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Recitation by Hani Ar-Rifai Surah Al Fajr from the Holy Quran NICE


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