The Beginning is Allah; the End is Allah~ Imam Amin

The Beginning is Allah; the End is with Allah.

Join Safina Society and leading contemporary teachers and scholars in the premiere of the Converts Conference  as we visit essential themes and issues facing the awakened community and how to benefit and enrich the faith within every heart.

Imam Amin  begins our conversations with a moment of reflection. Imam Ghazali in his magnum opus indicates that there are two fundamental aspects ,that if properly understood by the individual would lead them to the purpose of life.   Take a moment and reflect on what is your beginning? and  what then is your End? If you can answer these then you have your purpose at hand. sTherefore,  the ultimate purpose of paradise is not itself , it is Allah.

When you are with Allah, there is no End; and when you start with Allah there is no Beginning.

 

Why knowledge?
The purpose of life is to know Allah. Since knowing Allah is the Ultimate goal, how do we go about this? What then is beneficial knowledge?

It is that which leads you to Allah; that which leads you to realisation of Allah.

everything other than Allah is truly false; and when you understand that you will never get trapped in any other than Allah.

Whatever you imagined ; it is not Allah.
When you are no longer in the forms of words, sounds and imaginations…you are in reality.
Why beneficial knowledge? So that we may possess what we need to fulfil our purpose. We are travelling, on a journey to get back to our location; back to our Lord. It takes knowledge to get there.

everything other than Allah is truly false; and when you understand that you will never get trapped in any other than Allah.

when you have a hard time with worship, good deeds or kindness to others…know that you are cut off from Allah.

Allah commanded Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, in the Quran–” My Lord, Increase me in Knowledge.”
The prophet will teach us, increase us  in knowledge and purify us so that we may receive the gift of a Sound Heart : Qalb Saleem.

Seeking the knowledge of the religion is an obligation on every Muslim.Knowledge is that which is necessary for your existence at your present condition.

What do I need to know right now to get right with Allah?

There are 3 basic  types of knowledge:
1) knowledge of tenets of faith that will help you know Allah — what am I supposed to believe as a Muslim?
because if the belief is firm and established then you will make a connection with Allah
The Prophet (SAW) was asked, which knowledge is superiour? Faith that is not shaky– faith that is firm.
Think of big mountains–do you notice that they do not crumble? but if they are faced with something that is unshakeable.

Your faith needs to be unshakeable

2) The knowledge of how to serve Allah; Islamic Jurisprudence  opens the doors to practice what you learn and strive to fulfil what your personal responsibility is to Allah. Within yourself you need to be One. ‘You need to have a faith that if everything else was gone, I would still stand on La Ilaaha Illallah’, states Imam Amin; for our Lord is truly , ” with you everywhere you go.”

3) Spirituality. This is where  you taste the sweetness of Faith; for faith has a sweetness like nothing else in the world.

All of our sciences lead us to our purpose…to please our Lord.

Why do I marry? I want this person to help me to reach Allah
Why do I have friends? I have friends to help me know Allah
These righteous people have ” no fear and no anguish”; Allah takes care of all of their concerns.

Society has taken  the soul of the religion; and the body without a soul is just a hollow form. We need to put the soul back into the body.

How do we get there?

Knowledge is required by an active process of learning.
Islam is the religion preserved by the relationship based on the framework of the  teacher and student transmission of knowledge.
The one who acquires knowledge comes to the realisation that they have no knowledge to speak of; and humility sets in.

Humility of the heart is to be able to say ‘I do not know’ in its own proper place.’ explains Imam Amin.

for knowledge to transform you need 3 matters:
1) Sources and evidences: ask yourselves where do we get it from? Our primary resources in the whole world are the Quran and Sunnah.
The true wayfarer finds all his sources from the Quran, if you are getting things from somewhere else then you are without.
2)  Now that we have connected to the Quran and the Prophetic Traditions; you need a methodology of how to extract rulings and understandings from these sacred sources.  If you do not have a way, then you will be caught up in opinions.
3) You need someone with the ability and the  divine gifts from Allah to understand the received knowledge.

I’ve learned enough to know that I don’t know anything…knowledge is a journey that never ends.

A student is not a student who doesn’t learn from those who know more than him,  from the  one  equal  in knowledge and the one less  in knowledge.
Traditional learning is defined as the studying with a teacher; so no book without a teacher. The framework set in place, requires a deep respect and love for the way of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Knowledge is vital and ‘ learning is from the cradle to the grave, ‘reminds Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

We are grateful to Safina Society for this video. Cover Photo by  Al Maaida

 

 

Resources for Seekers:

Worship, Coffee and the Meaning of Life

Habib Hussein Al Saggaf on Beneficial Knowledge and Intentions

Audio & Notes: What is Beneficial Knowledge

How does Islamic knowledge transform us and why?

The Treasure of a Sound Heart, Surat al-Shu’arā’ (verses 83-89)

The Rights of Our Hearts 

On Knowing Yourself to Know God

Keys to Successful Seeking of Islamic Knowledge: Advice from Teachers and Teaching Assistants

Bringing Certainty to the Heart: A Step-by-Step Guide

Who is looking out for Muslim converts this Ramadan?

How Can A Convert Follow A School Of Thought Correctly?

Family Problems, Islamic Support, and Marriage Preparation for Converts

What Role Does Culture Play in Islam?

Cultivating One’s Environment to Develop the Inner Self – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

* Courtesy of Cambridge Muslim College

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus draws a beautiful parallel between the human heart and soil.  We are experiencing over-cultivation and depletion of minerals in our soil that bares real fruits that lack any sort of nutrients.  Our hearts, similarly, have experienced a drought, and as a consequence this has manifested within our limbs.  We need to till our hearts. Even though this is our current state, we must understand that our hearts are not void of good, Shaykh Yahya says:

…there are so many aspects of our religion that are of a social nature, because its in the coming in contact with human beings that a lot of the meanings that lie dormant in the hearts rise to the surface, stirred up, in a way that you would have a bitter cup of tea with sugar at the bottom of it, that tea is not going to taste sweet until you stir it up, and once you stir it up, depending upon the amount of sugar, it will taste sweet.  Likewise, there are many things that lie dormant by way of potentiality in the hearts of the children of Adam that it’s only with that spiritual struggle and exerting oneself that these things ever truly become realized within one…

Check out this lecture on their Youtube page and leave them a comment.

Here are some courses we offer by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus at SeekersGuidance:

  • Haddad’s Book of Assistance: Complete Guidance for Turning to Allah | Click here for this free course
  • First Principles of Islamic Spirituality: Ibn Ashir’s Introduction to Sufism Explained | Click here for this free course
  • Clarity and Calm in an Age of Anger – Lessons on Navigating Troubled Times| Click here for this free course
  • The Divine Opening: Sura al-Fatiha Explained | Click here for this free course
  • 30 Days, 30 Deeds: A Roadmap of Virtues and Good to Transform Your Life and Relations | Click here for this free course

The True Eid – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

“Be Joyful with Allah.” This is what Ustadh Amjad Tarsin heard while he was studying abroad. Here, he speaks about Eid in our religion, and encourages us to see the beauty encompassed in the tradition.

Pray for Acceptance

One of the best things we can do on Eid, is pray for the acceptance of the actions that we performed in Ramadan. Even great deeds are meaningless if they are not accepted by Allah. Imam Ali once said that no accepted action is insignificant. Scholars say that the sign of acceptance of your actions, is that Allah places in your heart a greater commitment to continue those fasts. They also say that a sign that your Ramadan is accepted, is that you are able to fast the six days of Shawwal, which carry the reward of fasting the rest of the year.

Before Ramadan ends, we should try to make intentions to carry on certain acts of worship. Of course, we cannot continue fasting every day, praying 20 rakats at night, and reading a whole juz a day. However, we can try to pray tajajjud, do some voluntary fasts and recite a page of Qur’an a day. Small, consistent actions enable you to stay engaged with Allah’s word.

Be Thankful

Why do we chant “Allahu Akbar” and other words of praise, on Eid day? The answer lies in a very special verse on the Qur’an.

“So that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, so that you may be grateful.” (2:185) 

Therefore, we celebrate the completion of Ramadan by praising Allah. Of course, our celebrating Eid is like an engagement party, with the real celebration is in the next life, when we meet our Lord. Eid is a celebration, and any day that we are able to fulfill our duty towards our Creator, is a cause of celebration.

Remembering the Greatest Eid

As we celebrate this Eid, let’s remember the Greatest Eid; the day we meet our Lord. For some people, their whole lives are like Ramadan, and their day of Eid is when they see Allah.

There was once a righteous man who told one of his students, “When you hear of my death, buy sweets and distribute it to those at the madrassa.” Because he was so eager to meet Allah, he considered his death a celebration, rather than a cause for fear.

An Invitation to Support the Islamic Scholars Fund from Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

 

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Welcoming Ramadan in the Best Way – By Shaykh Naveed Arif

Is the holy month approaching faster than you’re able to prepare yourself? Shaykh Naveed Arif has some simple and practical steps on how to get into the optimum frame of mind.

* Our thanks to Ha Meem Foundation for this recording.

 

Resources for Seekers

Ramadan Seminar Q&A Session – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally posted on May 8, 2018

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani answers questions on the fiqh of fasting, including the nullifiers of fasts, expiation for broken fasts, and the spiritual retreat.

Among the many questions and points Shakyh Faraz addresses, he mentions that if one breaks fast deliberately or by accident, the time of fasting is not over, and one is able to fast, then one refrains from everything a fasting person refrains from until fasting ends. This is a sign of contrition and remorse.

Hasten to Break Fast

The Shaykh also mentions that one should not delay breaking fast excessively out of a mistaken sense of piety or fervor. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said:

قَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَحَبُّ عِبَادِي إِلَيَّ أَعْجَلُهُمْ فِطْرًا

Allah Mighty and Majestic said: “The most beloved among my servants are those who hasten to break their fast.” (Tirmidhi)

Be Tactful and Considerate with Others

But one must also remember that when in a group of people who believe they are in the right to delay, one must be discreet about the matter and not make disagreement a point of contention or rancor. If you consider breaking it in such a situation do it tactfully.

These and many others points and rulings are covered in this session. And you should listen to it even if you know all the answers as there is no harm and abundant good in reviewing what one knows and strengthening one’s knowledge.

May Allah grant us eternal success in the blessed month of Ramadan and in all the months He has decreed for each and every one of us until we are brought before Him. Amin.


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 SeekersHub 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.

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Ramadan: Constructing a Plan – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin gives key pointers on the importance of constructing a plan for Ramadan, in order to make the most of it, and how to do so.

Ramadan is a unique time of year. There’s no other time of year like it. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, he would push himself. He would strive and he would exert himself, Allah bless him and give him peace, in Ramadan that would surpass the way that he would exert himself outside of Ramadan. He would strive and exert himself, Allah bless him and give him peace, in the last ten nights of Ramadan more than he would exert himself in the rest of Ramadan.

There is this emphasis on action. Ramadan is a time that you step up your game as they say. You really pick up your slack and you strive and you exert yourself in a way that maybe you don’t exert yourself outside of Ramadan.

Three Point Plan for Ramadan

Part of our plan is we should get into this mental state where we say: Okay, I’m going to push my self a little harder. I’m going to cut out certain things from my life so that I can push myself a little bit harder. My weekends are going to be different. My school schedule or work schedule. My sleep schedule. I’m going to try to work it out in such a way that I can make the most of them. All of these things really make a difference.

As we mentioned, Ramadan is a madrasa. It’s like an intensive course, but it’s also like a marathon. It’s a month long. If it’s in the summer, it can be physically draining. But the thing that’s beautiful about Ramadan is that – I’m sure we’ve all felt this – after the first two or three days fasting actually becomes quite easy. And Ramadan comes with its own energy. It’s a blessing from Allah Most High.

Pace Yourself for the Long Run

If we were going to run a marathon or take an exam, we would prepare ourselves. We would say: Okay, the first X number of miles I’m going to go at this speed. The next number of miles I’m going to go at that speed. I’m going to take a little break. I’m going to slow down in the middle. Whatever it may be, you pace yourself.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “The most beloved actions to Allah are those that are most consistent, even if it’s a few.” So the point of Ramadan is not to push yourself so hard and then it is over you just give up.

Build for Consistency

Allah says that “fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed on those before you so that you can grow in taqwa.” (Sura al Baqara 2:183) Let’s look at a couple of the layers of the the spiritual breezes and the mercies that Allah unites in this month.

Firstly, it’s the month of the Quran and it’s a month where, insha Allah, everyone in the Umma reconnects with the Qur’an on some level. The Qur’an is the center of everything for us. So we reconnect with the Qur’an. We come together as a community. And we stand for the majority of the night in prayer.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Whoever fasts in Ramadan with faith, expecting and hoping for reward from Allah, then all their previous sins are forgiven. And whoever stands in Ramadan with faith, expecting and hoping for reward from Allah, then all their previous sins are forgiven.

So one of the aspects of Ramadan is the recitation of the Qur’an both individually and collectively in tarawih and reconnecting with it.

The Virtues of Recitation

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal had a dream of Allah and because the dream is a spiritual vision one can can see Allah. Imam Ahmad had many dreams about Allah. In one of his dreams he asked Allah: “O Allah, what is the the most beloved act to you>” And Allah said: “The recitation of My Book.” Then Imam Ahmed asked: “With understanding or without understanding?” And Allah said: “With understanding and with out understanding.”

This doesn’t mean that without understanding is as good as with understanding. But there’s a virtue, even if without understanding we are reciting the Qur’an with reverence, with love, with some sort of blessed intention, wanting something Allah. There’s great reward in that. For every letter there’s ten hasanat, there’s ten rewards. And then Allah multiplies that.

There was a woman who who had a lot of ta‘dhim (reverence) but she couldn’t read Arabic. She sometimes would just open up the Mushaf and look at it and touch the pages. Not that that’s as far as we should aspire, but she had that love and reverence for the Qur’an. She didn’t say: Oh, I don’t understand it so I’m not even going to look at it. No, she would look at and say how beautiful it is, and she would just look at the words and read whatever she could with that kind of of reverence for the Book of Allah Most High.

Plan Beyond Ramadan

Coming back to putting this within our plan. We should devise a way that we can recite the Qur’an regularly for the rest of the year. That’s something that we have to put in our minds from the jump. One way to look at Ramadan is that it’s like a honeymoon with the Qur’an, but after the honeymoon you still have to keep the love alive. Now you’re here after the honeymoon. You’re tied together. You have that pact and you have that union. And you have to keep it alive and the way to do that is to keep up consistency in small things.

It’s easy to recite the Qur’an in Ramadan and sometimes we recite great amounts of it or we set goals for ourselves. Whether it’s one khatm or two khatms, but the goal that we should also have is that we should have a long term relationship with the Qur’an. It’s something that we need every single day of our lives. So we should build that relationship during the honeymoon that is Ramadan, and build it to last.

Qiyam al Layl

Another aspect is standing in prayer. Subhan Allah, Qiyam al Layl becomes so easy in Ramadan and that is a proof that it is blessed. If you told people get up for Qiyam al Layl any other month of the year even in sacred days like the ten days of Ashura or the ten days of Muharram or the ten days of Dhu’l Hijja, or whatever it may be, it’s hard. But you tell them to do so in Ramadan and it’s like: I’m here!

The soul is almost rejuvenated like Habib Umar says: “Even smelling the sweet breezes of Ramadan is a blessing.” It is as if the soul is immediately rejuvenated when Ramadan enters. So coming together, increasing in our nafila, increasing in our extra acts of worship, as Habib Kadhim mentioned, is the way to increase our love for Allah.

We ask Allah for that, but the way that we do, the way that we take the means is bhy engaging in extra acts of worship. When one of the Sahaba asked the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, when the Prophet said, “Ask me anything you want. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, I ask you for your companionship in Paradise. I just want to be with you in the Garden.” And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Help me against your nafs with a lot of sujud (prostration).”

So you have people in our great and illustrious history like our master Zayn al Abidin, the great-grandson of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who was known to do a thousand rak‘at of sujud a day. and they called him Zayn al Abidin: the adornment of worshipers, Allah be well pleased with him.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

If we want to get to the core of Ramadan, it’s a time where you just roll up your sleeves and you get to work. You just get busy. Get up and pray some rak‘ats. Recite the Qur‘an. If you can’t do that – in the case of our sisters, at certain times of the month they might not be able to – do those things then make dua. Say: la ilaha illa Allah. Say: Astaghfirullah. Turn to Allah Most High with your heart. Listen to a good lesson. Keep yourself in good company. Even duas that you are making in those days are especially powerful. Do whatever keeps you busy with whatever good you can muster.


Get ready for Ramadan with these SeekersHub On Demand courses that you can work through at your own pace: Ramadan On Demand courses.

Support SeekersHub Global as it reaches over 10,000 students each term through its completely free online courses. Make a donation, today. Every contribution counts, even if small: http://seekershub.org/donate/


 

10 On-Demand Courses for Ramadan

We are blessed to reach another Ramadan. Let’s make the best use of our time. These On-Demand courses will help you to focus and get maximum benefits from this month of the Qur’an.

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

1. Preparing for Ramadan: Lessons and Advice from Leading Scholars

This series of lessons by various scholars revolves around Sura al Baqara 2:183.

“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may have taqwa.”

Each scholar unfolds the meanings of this and related verses, the practical aspects, and the hidden spiritual depths and heights one is called to attain in the blessed month of Ramadan.
Central to it all is Allah’s call to love Him and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Scholars included in this course: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Imam Zaid Shakir, Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, Habib Umar ibn Hafiz, Shaykh Rami Nsour, Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali, Ustadh Abdullah Misra, Ustadh Ali Ataie, Habib Kadhim al Saqqaf, Shaykh Ahmed Saad al Azhari, Habib Muhammad al Saqqaf, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin, Shaykh Qutaiba Albluwi, Ustadha Umm Umar

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 Surat 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. Ramadan Explained: Virtues and Fiqh of Fasting (Maliki) – Shaykh Rami Nsour

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

9. 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.

10. Living the Quran: 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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Fasting The White Days of Sha‘ban – Muwasala

We are now approaching the “White Days” of the month of Sha‘ban. The “White Days” are the days which follow nights in which the moon is full, namely the 13th, 14th and 15th days of each lunar month.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ encouraged his Companions to fast three days in every month and to fast these days specifically.

We should attempt to fast all three days if we are able, since Sayyidah ‘A’ishah said of the Prophet ﷺ: “I did not see him fasting in any month more than Sha‘ban.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

If we are unable to do so, we should attempt to fast the fifteenth, since the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that when this night comes we should spend it in prayer and fast the following day.

Please check the moon sighting in your locality.


With gratitude to our Content Partner: Muwasala.org.


 

Playing Kids, Praying Adults: A Taraweeh Lesson – Saad Razi Shaikh

Ramadan is a good time to teach children. And to learn from them.

 

Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good. (3:134)

Sometime in early Ramadan, our blessed mosque was hit with an expected Taraweeh problem. This was a menace many foresaw, but few had the stomach to tackle it. The problem was of children. Yes, children running around Taraweeh, screaming their lungs out, creating a racket not unlike birds on an early morning. Elders were distraught, they were bound by the obligation to be kind to children, while at the same time they desired a hassle-free Taraweeh. It took two spirited warnings from the Imam to cut the din out and restore some normality. Save for the odd kid, still merrily gliding from the stair rails, the prayers went about with little disturbance.

My own thoughts on the matter were torn between two urges. The first was to show patience and mercy to the kids. The next, more pressing desire, was to send them back home. Surely, there had to be some decorum in the mosque? Kids need to be taught by their parents as much, I reasoned. Otherwise, how on earth were the worshipers supposed to pray? The mosque would not be reduced to a child’s playground.

But this line of argument couldn’t hold for long. If the children were not praying, rather playing during the prayers, it was because they did not know any better. Their nature was not attuned to silence and attention, and they fell easy prey to distraction. One mischievous glance would bounce off from one child to the other, an elbow jab, a back slap, all before it would spread into a full-blown pandemonium. The children were just acting upon their distractions.

Acting upon their distractions. These words stuck to my mind, for they made me uncomfortable. As an adult, I knew the importance of the prayers. I knew the importance of attention. I had been taught the manners regarding the prayer. Yet my prayers were far from perfect. At the spiritual level, particularly retaining to attention and reflection, I knew my prayers fell well short of the desired levels. Was it not true that my mind wavered often? On particularly tiring days, did my attention not slacken? The more I reflected on my own shortcomings, the more the noise of the children receded away from my mind. For while both the children and I were distracted, falling woefully short in our prayers, the distraction of the children was visible. Mine wasn’t. That was the lone difference between us.

Imam Ghazali, in his characteristic brilliance, mentioned in ‘The Beginning of Guidance’ that one shouldn’t see oneself as being superior to anyone else, even children. He writes:

‘If you see a child, you should say [to yourself], “This child has not transgressed against Allah, and I have, so certainly he is better than me.”

‘If you see an ignorant person, say, “This person has transgressed against Allah most high in ignorance, while I have done so knowingly, so Allah’s evidence against me is greater. And what do I know about what my final state [at death] will be and what his state will be?’

This short piece is not intended as a manual on how to go about dealing with children in mosques. Rather, it is about how the pulls and the triggers of everyday can serve as a means to check ourselves, who we are and where we are in our standing with our Lord. We often fall prey to the slightest provocations, the slightest turn away from the expected norm. Things often ‘rub us the wrong way’. Ire is predictable as the first line of reaction. But if we restrain for a moment, and prevent the worst of our impulses from bursting out, we could look into the clues the situation is providing us.

Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, I was sent to perfect good character.Ramadan is the perfect month to better ourselves, to begin anew, to hold our tongues, to watch what we do, to reflect on what can be the better course of action. If the kids are creating a racket, perhaps it’s a test to see which one of us will show mercy to them, which one of us will rise to the Prophetic ethos and show the best of character. It’s easy to lose our patience, if not our minds. But as the Prophet ﷺ reminded us, ‘Circumspection brings nothing but the good.’ We need to remember this, in thought and action. We need to be those who remember the rank of forbearance, as ‘forbearance (hilm) is the best of character’. And that’s a struggle. But without the inner struggle, how will we improve?  

These are reflections, meant as a reminder, a ‘pull-up-your-socks’ moment first and foremost for my own self. Would I be more comfortable with silence during prayers? Certainly. Would I have improved as a person if the calmness of my own mind overcomes the noises outside it? Most certainly. This is the aim, Inshallah. And Ramadan is a great time to intend it sincerely, in thought and practice. May Allah make us those who are patient, who are kind, who are attuned to the Prophetic ethos, particularly in showing mercy, to ourselves and to others.


Saad Razi Shaikh is a journalist based in Mumbai. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives. He can be reached on Twitter @writweeter