Ten Ways to Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship? Nour Merza gives women ten practical ways to spiritually benefit from this blessed month.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. When their menstrual period begins many women find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in. This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities, and challenges that Allaj has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying Allah, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near Allah. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

1. Increase the Remembrance of Allah

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such as subhan Allah, alhamdulliLlah and Allahu akbar. If you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking Allah’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, insha Allah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase Supplication 

Supplication (dua) is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of supplication is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful supplications of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, or reaching out to Allah with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Duas That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed Others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members, or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the peace and blessings  (salawat) on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen. 

4. Gain Islamic Knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersGuidance podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your Charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through SeekersGuidance. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make Your Responsibilities a Form of Worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please Allah, which makes them a type of worship. Ask Allah to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

Although the Hanafi school holds that women cannot touch the mushaf or recite the Qur’an while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Qur’an. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such a heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to Allah. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask Allah to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that Allah is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to Help Mothers Worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray tarawih. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman.

10. Spread Love and Light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers, and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

 

Nine On Demand Courses for Ramadan

We are blessed to reach one more Ramadan. Allah grant that we make the best use of our time. Allah willing, these On-Demand courses will help us focus and benefit from this month of the Qur’an.

Each course contains a downloadable lesson set which you can listen to at your convenience.

1. Why Muslims Fast: The Higher Aims of Fasting Explained

The fast: mere hunger and thirst, or a means of growing spiritually and getting closer to Allah. How can we transform ourselves from being the former into the latter? In this course, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explains the great potential latent within one’s fasting, and gives clear, and practical advice to changing one’s fast from being passive hunger and thirst into an active spiritual refinement of one’s soul. Students will learn how to benefit from fasting in general, and more specifically from the month of Ramadan.

2. Renewal by the Book: Daily Qur’an Tafsir Based on Imam Ghazali’s Ihya

In this series, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and other scholars and teachers will be looking at points of reflection from key verses in the Qur’an. The series follows the thematic order of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences). The aim is to connect the key verses of guidance from the Book of Allah with the blueprint of renewal, the Ihya so that we experience renewal by The Book.

3. Renewing Religion: Overview of Ghazali’s Ihya

This overview of Imam Ghazali’s great work, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences) will serve as a blueprint for how the believer can bring their religion to life. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the outer form of the religion properly, but to also to bring its spirit to life and practice it with excellence.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Riad Saloojee, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

4. 30 Sacred Acts to Transform the Heart

Our scholars in residence explore 30 simple deeds that could have a far-reaching spiritual impact on our lives – and the lives of others. Whether it’s forgiving someone who’s wronged us or sharing a meal with a neighbor, these powerful lessons will remind us of the great gift the Prophet ﷺ‎ gave us: the best of character. The scholars also remind us to make the intention to put each teaching, each sacred act, into practice.

Lessons by: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Shaykh Walead Mosaad, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Amin Muhammad, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Dr. Ingrid Mattson

5. Giving Life to Sura al-Kahf – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

In this seminar, Shaykh Walead Mosaad explains this key Sura of the Qur’an – a Sura the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, urged us to recite every Friday. In eight videos Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura Kahf; the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent – the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power.

6. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Hanafi) – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting, according to the Hanafi school.

This essential four-part course is designed to

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Hanafi school.

7. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Shafi‘i) – Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan

This preparation course teaches the fiqh of Ramadan and fasting according to the Shafi‘i school.

This essential four-part course is designed to:

    1. Remind you that Ramadan is a true blessing from Allah Most High.
    2. Teach you the proper way to approach this blessing.
    3. Motivate you to make the most of this blessed month.
    4. Ensure that you understand and implement all the key aspects of Ramadan, including the Prophetic sunnas according to the Shafi‘i school.

8. The Tafsir of Sura al-Hujurat with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Religion revolves around respect and reverence. Sura Hujurat summarizes the keys to true religion by outlining the right adab with Allah, His Messenger (peace be upon him), and with Allah’s creation. In just 18 verses, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives believers a clear roadmap on how to walk the Straight Path with excellence in conduct and attitude.

9. Keys to the Qur’an: Ghazali’s Manners of Qur’an Recital with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this lesson set Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will guide students through Imam al Ghazali’s work on the adab of the Qur’an and aims to inspire the student to bring the book of Allah into their life fully.

 


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The Three Degrees of Fasting – Imam al Ghazali

This is a translation of the passage on the three degrees of fasting from the Ihya of Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al Ghazali. Translation by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

It should be known that there are three degrees of fasting: ordinary, extraordinary, and perfect.

Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink, and sexual satisfaction.

Extraordinary Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.

Perfect Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world.

Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true saints, and the intimates of Allah. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists of utmost dedication to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than Allah, Exalted is He.

It is bound up with the significance of His words:

قُلِ اللَّـهُ ۖ ثُمَّ ذَرْهُمْ فِي خَوْضِهِمْ يَلْعَبُونَ

Say: “Allah,” then leave them to their vain play. (Qur’an 6:91)

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment.

See Not What Displeases Allah

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be Allah’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of Allah will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.”

Jabir relates from Anas that Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.”

Speak Not What Displeases Allah

Guarding one’s tongue against idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing, and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with the remembrance of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and with the recitation of Qur’an. This is the fasting of the tongue.

Said Sufyan: “Backbiting annuls the Fast.” Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: “Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.”

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: ‘I am Fasting, I am Fasting!’”

According to Tradition: “Two women were Fasting during the time of Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing.

They, therefore, sent a message to Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.”

One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”

Hear Not What Displeases Allah

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible, for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer. In His words, Exalted is He:

سَمَّاعُونَ لِلْكَذِبِ أَكَّالُونَ لِلسُّحْتِ

Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain. (Qur’an 5:42)

Allah, Great and Glorious is He, also said:

لَوْلَا يَنْهَاهُمُ الرَّبَّانِيُّونَ وَالْأَحْبَارُ عَن قَوْلِهِمُ الْإِثْمَ وَأَكْلِهِمُ السُّحْتَ ۚ لَبِئْسَ مَا كَانُوا يَصْنَعُونَ

Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit? (Qur’an 5:63)

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said:

إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِّثْلُهُمْ

You are then just like them. (Qur’an 4:140)

That is why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “The backbiter and his listener are partners in sin.”

Guarding the Limbs

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful.

A man who fasts like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food is injurious in quantity not in quality. Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison.

The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation.

Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!” This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

Avoid Overeating

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food.

Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering Allah’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods?

It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety.

If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The Secret Nature of Fasting

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting.

No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven.

Layla al-Qadr

The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

We surely revealed it on the Night of Power. (Qur’an 97:1)

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but Allah, Great and Glorious is He.

That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

Look To God With Fear And Hope

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of Al-Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Basri, that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: “Allah, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By Allah, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.”

Rather it is the one whose fast is accepted who should be too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while one who has suffered rejection laughter should be precluded by remorse.

Of Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: “You are an aged elder. Fasting would enfeeble you.” But he replied: “By this I am making ready for a long journey. Obedience to Allah, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.”


The Fiqh of Fasting According to Shafi‘i School

Dear Seeker, making the most of Ramadan depends on getting things right and removing doubts about acts of worship. We have compiled this ebook on The Fiqh of Fasting According to Shafi‘i School for your use and benefit.

Allah, Exalted is He, tells us, “Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, and clear signs for guidance and judgment. So every one of you who witnesses this month should spend it in fasting.” [2:185] The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him), informed us: “Allah the Exalted has said: ‘All good deeds of the son of Adam are multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine, and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food, and drink for My sake.’” [Bukhari and Muslim] Fasting, in a general fashion, has been prescribed in every revealed scripture.

However, this particular manner of observing the fast during Ramadan is specific to the community of Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him). A weaker opinion states that fasting during Ramadan had been prescribed for every past community except that they strayed from it. Ramadan was legislated in the month of Sha’ban in the second year after the Hijra. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted nine months of Ramadan in total; one of which was 30 days, and the remaining eight as 29 days. It is said that perhaps the wisdom behind this is to put the believer’s heart at rest when Ramadan ends at 29 days, as he may feel in his heart that his Ramadan was not complete or as a way of letting the umma know that a 29 day month of Ramadan is equal in reward to a complete month of 30 days.

Imam al Haddad reminds us, “Increase your good works, specifically in Ramadan, for the reward of a supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it comes to good works, is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are open, and the herald calls every night at Allah’s command: “O you who wish for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt! You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when it arrives.”

 

The Fiqh of Fasting According to the Hanafi School

Dear Seeker, making the most of Ramadan depends on getting things right and removing doubts about acts of worship. We have compiled this ebook on The Fiqh of Fasting According to the Hanafi School for your use and benefit.

Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Companion Abdullah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) say: ‘The religion of Islam is based upon five (pillars): testifying that there is no deity except God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God; establishing the prayer; giving zakat; making pilgrimage; and fasting (the month) of Ramadan.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

In truth, fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the greatest acts of worship a believer can perform. It is an act that cleanses one’s mind, body, and soul from the spiritual and physical impurities of this world. It is an act that brings the hearts of Muslims together on a world- wide level as they endeavor to practice the virtue of self-discipline in unison. And it is an act that satiates the hungry soul for its eagerness to please the Lord of the Worlds.

The act of fasting was also practiced by previous religious communities. Likewise, it has been ordained for the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). Allah All- Mighty says in the Quran, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed onto you as it was prescribed onto those before you, that perhaps ye may (learn) self-restraint.” [Qur’an 2:183]

Fasting, Prayer, Qur’an, Ihsan: A Ramadan Reader

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful. The Seekers’ theme for this Ramadan is Hope and Closeness. This Ramadan Reader has been compiled for your benefit and in the hope that it may strengthen your hope, your closeness to Allah, and help make the blessings of this Ramadan sweet and lasting.

 

Fasting:

A Complete Guide To Fasting (Hanafi)

A Complete Guide To Fasting (Shafii)

Breaking One’s Fast Due to Weakness

Does Watching Pornography While Fasting Break One’s Fast

Worship in Ramadan For a Menstruating Woman

Overview of the Fidya Payment

Applying Medicine to Teeth While Fasting

Types of I’tikaf

Can I Pray Eight Rakats for Tarawih

When is Laylat al-Qadr

Worship During Laylat al-Qadr

Preparing for Ramadan

40 Hadiths on Ramadan

Fasting Its Principles and Virtues: Imam Ghazali from al-Arba‘in

Inner Dimensions of Fasting: Imam Ghazali

Practical Tips to Fasting

Prayer

Illuminating the Heart in Prayer

The Prayer of the Prophet Peace Be Upon Him

Nine Keys to Prayer

The Power of Prayer

Transformative Effects of Prayer

Virtues of the Prayer

Qur’an

Our Relationship with the Qur’an

Can I Touch my Iphone Without Ablution

Touching the Qur’an and Menstruation

Placing the Qur’an on the Floor: Not Permissible

Rights of the Qur’an and Completing It in 40 Days

Beautifying One’s Voice When Reciting the Qur’an

Ihsan or Works of the Heart

Marvels of the Heart

What Does it Mean to be Sidq (True)

The Path of Taqwa

Good-Character is not Becoming Angry

Thankfulness

The Sound Heart

 

 

To Remedy the Heart by Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi

The following is the third in a series of three excerpts on the heart of the believer from Hakim al-Umma Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi’s book (Allah have mercy on him) Sukoon-e-Qalb, translated by Saad Razi Shaikh.

For human beings, two kinds of worlds exist. The first is the material world, which we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands. Along with it, there’s another world (batin) which we can neither see nor touch. In this hidden world, the soul lives, the heart beats, wishes are born, hopes and desires find wings, joy and sorrows, love and hate, selflessness, and other emotions are cultivated. The fascinating thing is that it is this hidden world that we can neither see nor touch that is our real world. As long as it works, the person stays alive, they get all rights in society, when it no longer works, the person is declared deceased and their rights cease to exist.

Just as the human’s apparent body is sometimes healthy and sometimes sick, the soul too is sometimes healthy and sometimes it becomes sick. Just as flu, fever, and other diseases are from the sicknesses of the body, so too are sorrows and anger, selfishness, arrogance, pretense, and vanity from the diseases of the heart.

Islam’s Holistic Way of Life

Because Islam is a holistic way of life, it has not disregarded either of these two worlds. It has given us guidance for the outward diseases, it has also given us rulings for the hidden diseases.  For our outward lives, it has given such brilliant actions like prayers, fasting, zakat; it has also refrained us from bad deeds. Similarly, for our inward lives, it has decreed certain beautiful attributes for us and refrained us from vile ones. The rulings of outward acts are the subject of the field of fiqh, the rulings relating to the inward acts are explained in the field of tasawwuf.

The Reality of the Heart

The subject matter of tasawwuf, therefore, relates to the world of the heart which is hidden from us, yet which holds deep importance for us. The question arises, what is the heart? If we ask doctors, we’ll get the reply that the heart is a lump of flesh in the chest of the human being, which pumps blood. But the heart spoken of in tasawwuf is different from this lump of flesh. In the spiritual understanding, the heart and soul are two forces that the Creator created with the outward heart. Just as the eyes can see, the ears can hear, and the hands can touch, so the lump of flesh that is the heart is able to desire. In the spiritual understanding, the heart is this very force capable of creating different emotions and desires.   

Tasawwuf teaches us that this hidden world of the heart is the foundation of the outward world. The making and unmaking of human beings depends on this, if the world of the heart is right, if its system is okay, the right desires are created in it. If the right emotions are born in the heart, the person remains healthy, if the world of the heart begins to disintegrate, the outward life of the person also begins to disintegrate.

To Remedy the Heart

The treatment (islah) of the heart is necessary. If you desire salvation in the hereafter (akhirah) and well-being (afiya) in this world, rectify your heart. After the obligatory acts of worship (fard) start spending more time in voluntary acts, in the reading of the Qur’an. Many people spend more time in worship but they do not have much religious knowledge. They should acquire the knowledge of the deen. The cure to the diseases of the heart is religious knowledge, the remembrance of Allah, and the company of the people of Allah.

About the Author

Mawlana Ashraf Ali Thanwi (Allah have mercy on him) was one of the foremost Indian scholars of the twentieth century. A prolific writer with over three hundred books to his name, his works span the Islamic Sciences, touching on matters of everyday fiqh, correct beliefs, and spiritual remedies, amongst others.

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 5: Hope

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah. 

The fifth article in this series explains what is truly meant by hope.

Step 5: Hope

The fifth step in getting closer to Allah is hope. Hope is commonly misdirected towards one’s own actions and worldly circumstances. This results in losing hope and falling into despair when one makes a mistake or when things go poorly. Rather, the believer directs one’s hope towards Allah Most High alone. The Aphorisms (Hikam) of Ibn Ata’ Allah opens with, “From the signs that you are relying on your actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” Hope should not be attached to any other but Allah Most High. 

Hope is to desire pleasing outcomes having taken the means to acquire them, but one should not seek those outcomes from other than Allah Most High. He Most High tells us, “Truly you have in the Messenger of Allah the most beautiful of examples for whoever hopes in Allah and the Day of Resurrection”. (Qur’an 33:21) Hoping from Allah means one’s hope doesn’t increase with one’s good deeds nor decrease with one’s sins because one hopes in Allah Most High, seeking pleasing outcomes from Him alone. 

Allah Most High says, “It is the All-Merciful who is established on the throne.” (Qur’an 20:5). He is All-Merciful to whomever you are. Whoever knocks on His door will find it open, so do not despair. 

May Allah Most High realize us in directing our hope towards Him alone.

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 24: Ten Steps to Allah – 05 – Hope | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of: Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 10: Supplication

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

Allah has promised to answer our prayers—all that is left is for us to ask. But supplication itself is an art. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives practical guidelines on how to engage in dua, what supplications to make and how, and what it means for our prayers to be “answered.”

Step 10: Supplication

Dua is not something that you do. It is not something that you say. It is not something you repeat. Dua is that you ask of Allah Most High. It encapsulates all that you are concerned about so learn the art of asking Allah.

Our beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Supplication is the very essence of worship.”

The heart of dua is you voicing your need to Allah. There’s a metaphor in you raising your hands. It’s as if you’re saying that I am so much in need that I am like a beggar and I have nothing to beg with except my own empty hands. 

When you make dua remember to have certitude. Our Lord Mighty and Majestic tells us, “Call upon Me, I will answer you.” [Qur’an 40:60] That is a Divine promise. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) tells us, “Call upon Allah with complete certitude in His answer.” [Tirmidhi 3479]

Make dua with hope and contentment. We are assured that when Allah loosens our tongue to ask, He is willing to give. How He will give and when He will give is up to Him. He is Wise and Merciful and Generous, and what He chooses for you is far better than what you choose for yourself. 

Then you should ask yourself, what is it that you are asking from Allah. You should ask for the greatest of your needs. There is no dua we can make like the duas of the Qur’an. The duas of the Qur’an are amazing because it is Allah Himself telling us: Ask Me for this and I will give you. The duas of the Sunna are the duas of Allah’s beloved, our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). 

The dua’ of the Qur’an and Sunna should be recited but they are not substitutes for you to make heartfelt duas yourself. The scholars tell us to reflect on the meanings when we recite the dua from the Qur’an. Or repeat the same dua in your own language because dua is your asking Allah not just saying the dua. 

You should recite the transmitted duas from the Qur’an and Sunna after you wake up, after your prayer, after Fajr,  before you go to sleep, and also have heartfelt duas in your own words. Make routines of duas. The best of what you could ask from Allah is what He asks of you. Ask Allah for His love, for His closeness, for the Hereafter. Ask Allah for your worldly needs. Ask Allah to change those qualities that keep you away from Allah.

Each of us should have a good manual of dua. The Book of Remembrance by Imam Nawawi is a wonderful thing that every household should have and you should access it. Some scholars say that you should have a large book of duas that you refer to and familiarize yourselves with, but also to have a brief collection of Prophetic duas. We should live with these. Our collections of duas that we can recite by morning and by night like the Hizb al-Bahr or the Wird al-Latif by great scholars train us in how to make dua. Recite them and reflect on their meanings.

It is also important to repeat the duas that you make. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to repeat the duas three times. 

When you make dua, observe the etiquette of dua. You can make dua at any place at any time, but it is better to face the qibla, remove distractions, consider the greatness and majesty, but also the mercy and compassion of the One you’re calling upon. Call with certitude and desperate neediness but also with deep joy in the fact that you have One you can turn to for all your needs.

We ask Allah to open for us the door of dua—the door of all openings and all giving and the door of closeness. Allah make us of the people who go through to our Beloved through this door. 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 29: Ten Steps to Allah – 10 – Supplication | Sh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.

 

Ten Steps to Allah. Step 9: Repentance

As we get closer to Ramadan, focusing on what we are seeking through our devotions is ever more crucial. The ultimate aim of any Muslim is to gain the closeness of Allah Most High. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gives us clear guidelines with 10 key steps on the path to Allah Most High elucidating for us how to get closer to Allah.

 A key step on the path to Allah is repentance. Often, we don’t understand what it means or imagine it to be something negative. Shaykh Faraz explains what repentance really means—turning back to Allah.

Step 9: Repentance

Repentance is a key step on the path to Allah. Many say that repentance is the first step. However, we often have a very negative attitude towards repentance. Some people think that repentance means to accept that you’re a loser or that you never forget your sin. But repentance means to resolve to return to Allah. That is why faith is an act of repentance because you leave disbelief and you return to belief. Our acts of obedience are a type of repentance because we leave disobedience and we commit to obeying Allah. Likewise, our virtuous deeds are a type of repentance because we leave blameworthy things and disliked matters and we commit to doing what is better. Every station of the journey to Allah has the meaning of repentance in it. To leave distance and return to Allah.

Practically how do we operationalize repentance in our lives? Firstly, we commit to seeking Allah and desire to be ever-returning to Allah. So first we work at correcting our faith: learning sound beliefs and striving to live those in our lives. Leave your fear of other than Allah, leave your hope from other than Allah, leave your seeking for other than Allah. You leave lesser expressions of faith for pure Divine oneness which is you believe in the One, seek the One, you rely upon the One, you hope in the One, you love the One. 

There’s also repentance related to our actions which is that you leave sin, commit to leave sin, to leave the disliked, to leave things that are not of benefit to you in life,  to leave things displeasing to Allah, and to return to Allah in obedience, return to Allah in what is recommended. The journey continues in degrees of repentance. This quality of repentance, to always return to Allah, make it a habit. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that he seeks Allah’s forgiveness and repents 70 times a day.

You may have bad habits that you have acquired that are sinful, sinful speech such as backbiting, talebearing, gossip. You may have bad habits related to some desires of yours. Bad habits related to the kind of entertainment that you listen to or watch. These are the days of your life. Resolve to leave your bad habits. Have remorse for turning away from Allah disobeying Allah. Resolve to leave it and not to return to it for the sake of Allah Most High. and then any time you err, renew your repentance.

After every prayer, pause and genuinely repent as part of the supplication. Don’t just repent with the tongue, because repentance is not an action of the tongue. We say Astighfirullah: I seek Allah’s forgiveness. That’s like saying I am sorry but repentance is the act of actually leaving the thing that you’re saying you’re sorry for. Without repentance, seeking forgiveness is just words without reality. Repentance and seeking forgiveness together are light upon light. 

This repentance is the key. Allah Most High says in the Qur’an, “Indeed Allah loves the oft-repentant.” [Qur’an 2:222] Repentance is a magnificent gift from Allah. What do we need to do to return to Allah? Nothing! You may have a lifetime of turning away from Allah but you repent and Allah is waiting to accept your repentance. The door is open. The treasuries are full. All you have to do is knock on Allah’s door with repentance and you will find that the door was never closed even if you messed up. 

Allah Most High tells us, “O my servants who have transgressed against themselves, do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed it is Allah alone who forgives all sins. Indeed it is He who is the all-forgiving and most merciful.” [Qur’an 39:53]

It does not matter how many times you have failed to break that habit of sin, how many times you followed the same desire, the same wrong, the same bad habit, turn to Allah with repentance. 

The key to repentance is what Ali ibn Abi Talib (Allah be pleased with him) said, “True repentance  is to leave the sin in such a way that you never return to it.” 

The episode can be found on this link Ramadan 2020 Reminders | Episode 28: Ten Steps to Allah – 09 – Repentance | Shaykh Faraz Rabbani – YouTube

About the Author

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani spent ten years studying with some of the leading scholars of recent times, first in Damascus, and then in Amman, Jordan. His teachers include the foremost theologian of recent times in Damascus, the late Shaykh Adib al-Kallas (may Allah have mercy on him), as well as his student Shaykh Hassan al-Hindi, one of the leading Hanafi fuqaha of the present age.

He returned to Canada in 2007, where he founded SeekersGuidance in order to meet the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge–both online and on the ground–in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He is the author of Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School (White Thread Press, 2004.) Since 2011, Shaykh Faraz has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center.