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Ten Ways to Prepare for Ramadan From Now

With Ramadan just around the corner, many of us are looking for ways to make sure that this will be the year we change, writes Nour Merza. With this in mind, here are ten ways to prepare yourself for Ramadan.

1. Make the right intention

Beginning right now, make an intention that this Ramadan will be a time of great spiritual effort and sincerity. To help turn that intention into reality, make checklists of both daily goals for Ramadan (read a section of Quran or a beneficial lecture every day, etc.) and goals for the overall month (visit a home for the elderly, invite two non-Muslim friends for a chance to experience iftar, etc.).

See What Is the Intention” in The Complete Guide to Fasting

2. Prepare your body

Make sure you are up to par physically by adjusting the amount and quality of your food intake. Start by eliminating snacks and have smaller meals in the weeks leading up to Ramadan. Also reduce your caffeine intake so that the lack of your morning coffee or afternoon tea doesn’t debilitate you in the first few days of the holy month. Of course, if you’re fasting during the month of Sha’baan, you’re halfway there.

See: Ramadan Detox for a Healthy Ramadan – Dr. Rehan Zaidi of MysticMedicine

3. Review all medical situations before Ramadan

Make sure to get your medical business in order before Ramadan arrives. If you suffer from a particular illness, check with a doctor, preferably one who understands the importance of fasting, on whether fasting is a reasonable option for you. If you are taking medication, ask your doctor if you can take your doses during non-fasting hours instead of during the day. Also, check if there are options to take your medication via injection instead of orally, as in the Hanafi school injections do not break your fast.

See: When Does an Illness Allow One To Break The Fast?

4. Observe voluntary fasts

Voluntary (nafl) fasts are a great way to help prepare the mind, body and soul for Ramadan. If you can do it, follow the Prophetic sunna and fast the month of Shaaban, which comes just before Ramadan. If that proves too difficult, try to implement some of these other sunnas: fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, or fasting on the ‘white days’ of each Islamic month: the 13th, 14th and 15th.

See: Should I Fast on the White Days or Mondays and Thursdays?, and Merits of Sha’ban Muwasala

5. Increase Quran recitation

Many people aim to do a complete reading of the Quran at least once during Ramadan. If you don’t have a habit of reading the Quran daily, take this as an opportunity to incorporate that habit into your life. This will enable you to read longer sections of the book during Ramadan. Even if doing a complete reading of the Quran during Ramadan is too difficult, making a habit of reading one page or even a few verses a day will bring many blessings during the holy month and afterwards, as the Prophet (pbuh) said: “The most beloved of actions to Allah are the most consistent ones, even if in little amount.”

See: Our Relationship with the Quran – Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari

6. Perform extra prayers

prepare for Ramadan

Credits: Ccarlstead

If you have no missed obligatory prayers to make up, start to pray voluntary sunna prayers to prepare yourself for the extra prayers that take place in Ramadan. If you do have missed obligatory prayers, use the time you would give to the sunna prayers to make some of them up. Don’t feel that you are missing out on the opportunity to do voluntary sunnas, because God says in the famous Hadith Jibreel, “My servant draws near to Me by nothing more beloved to Me than that which I have made obligatory on him.”

See: Informative to Transformative: How to Upgrade Your Prayer, and Praying the Confirmed Sunnas with Make-Ups: I Feel Overwhelmed.

7. Give charity

Use the weeks leading up to Ramadan to increase your acts of charity, be that in the form of giving money to needy people or worthy causes. These could be anything from sponsoring a Syrian refugee family, to  supporting scholars and students of sacred knowledge through SeekersHub’s #SpreadLight campaign. Giving charity is a way to purify your wealth, and you can enter the month of Ramadan in a greater state of purity. It also opens doors for great good in your life, for the Prophet (pbuh) has told us, “Allah says, ‘Spend, O son of Adam, you will also be spent on.’”

See: How Much Should I Give in Charity?

8. Engage in service (khidma)

Spend some time before Ramadan to find a local charity or community service opportunity to work with, whether it be in an Islamic environment or in the wider community. If you begin well before Ramadan starts, you will adjust to the environment before you begin fasting, so that you can explain to co-workers  why you can’t join them for a coffee break or a meal.

See: The Roots of Fruitful Service and Seven Counsels for Successful Service and Activism – Advice from Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

9. Focus on your character

Imam al-Ghazali discusses the inner dimensions of the fast in his Revival of the Religious Sciences , which you can observe before Ramadan arrives. He mentioned that one must learn to fast with all the limbs, from all that harms the heart. You can, for example, avoid certain television shows to keep the eyes from seeing nudity, leave particular conversations to keep the ears from hearing foul language, and control the ego to keep the tongue from argument or backbiting. The inner fast is among the most important aspects of fasting Ramadan and is often more difficult than the physical fast from food, water and sexual relations, so the earlier you begin to practice this, the better.

See: The Inner Dimensions of Fasting – Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

10. Organize your life to minimize waste, overconsumption and the ills that come with this

One of the major concerns about how Muslims practice Ramadan today is the high level of overconsumption and waste that takes place during the holy month – a reality which is completely antithetical to the Prophetic tradition. Imam Zaid Shakir and others have spoken about ‘greening’ Ramadan as practiced today in the Muslim community, while Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad has suggested that Muslims use Ramadan to support ethical, fairtrade companies.

Imam Zaid’s mosque in Oakland, California offers a great model for doing this. With a little bit of extra organization and commitment, communal iftars are served on borrowed crockery and silverware (from friends, neighbors or a local Muslim restaurant) instead of their disposable variation. Washable handclothes are used instead of paper towels. The amount of trash saved by these actions – especially over the course of the month – is enormous, and embodies the Prophetic example of being, as the Quran describes, “a mercy to all the worlds.” See: Global Warming and Wasterfulness

Written by Nour Merza. Cover photo by Oliver Hegenbarth.

Advice of Leading Muslim Scholars on Seeking Islamic Knowledge

Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Shaykh Salek bin Siddina and Habib Ali al-Jifri: the keys to succeeding on the path of knowledge, the adab of gaining Sacred Knowledge, and the blessing and high rank of this path.

 

Resources for Seekers

Habib Ali al Jifri and the Man Who Killed His Teacher

Habib Ali al Jifri tells the story of the day he met the man who killed his teacher and unfolds it into a lesson on showing mercy to those who wrong us.

I was in Aden.

Someone who was one of the leaders of the regime which killed scholars in this blessed valley [of Hadramawt] was present in a gathering I was in. Fate had it that I should meet him.

This man was one of the key suspects in the abduction of my master, the Imam and Martyr, Habib Muhammad ibn Salim ibn Hafiz. On merely seeing him and being told who he was, I felt extremely uncomfortable. This is human nature.

It was difficult for me to talk to him even for the sake of dawah. I confess this is a mistake and a shortcoming. Regardless of how much I love my teachers, calling to Allah is a duty which dictates we speak to everyone whoever they are.

All of a sudden, he came up to me and said: “I want to repent. How do I go about this?”
I tried to contain myself so I could answer his questions. Tried to smile so I would not turn him away from the truth.

After I returned from the gathering, I still felt uncomfortable. So I phoned my master, Habib Umar, and told him about this person. He asked: “What does he want?”

I said: “He approached me saying he wants to repent to Allah. I knew you would tell me to call him to Allah, but I had great difficulty speaking to him and I disapproved of my state.”

He said: “Ali, fulfill Allah’s right upon you in guiding him to Allah. Bring forth mercy and concern for him from your heart. As for you disliking being in his company or looking at him, turn it into hatred for his actions and not for him as a person.”

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted Wahshi’s Islam even though he had killed his uncle Hamza but he found it difficult to look at him. So he said: ‘Let him not show his face to us.’”

These words are priceless.

These words are priceless, because the one who said them is talking about a man who did the greatest evil to him: he caused him to lose his father and caused the family to be split up.

Yet look at how he applied the Prophetic principle. He immediately brought to mind the statement of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Let him not show his face to us.”

This is what Habib Abu Bakr al Adani speaks of regarding the concept of trying to find a precedent from the life of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, for every event that occurs.

 


With gratitude to Muwasala.


O Seeker! – Habib Ali al Jifri

Habib Ali al Jifri speaks on overcoming the seven obstacles in spiritual wayfaring to Allah Most High, and the fruits thereof.

This is the third and perhaps final series of “O Seeker!” by His Eminence al Habib Ali al Jifri, may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him.

The first series filmed in 2008 in the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, may Allah grant its people relief, was about the concept of spiritual wayfaring to Allah, the Exalted, and awakening a desire for it.

The second series held in the Heart of Chechnya Mosque in Grozny in 2016 detailed how to overcome each of the seven obstacles during spiritual wayfaring to Allah.

The current series of thirty episodes is about the fruits of overcoming these obstacles, which are spiritual stations and spiritual states. If Allah wills, a new episode will be added to this playlist everyday this Ramadhan (2018).

The program also airs on TV on the following channels (GMT +3 Makka time):

Al Irth al Nabawi (Nilesat 11334H) – 7:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
CBC (Nilesat 11488H) – 10 p.m., 12 p.m.
CBC +2 – 12 a.m., 2 p.m.
Extra CBC – 3.10 a.m., 3:45 p.m.
Palestine (Nilesat 11823H) – 2:30 a.m.
Libya (Nilesat 10872H) – 1:10 a.m., 5 a.m.

Among the works referred to are Al Risala al Qushayriyya of Imam Abd al Karim al Qushayri (465 AH / 1072) of Nishapur, Iran, and Manazil al Sai‘rin of Shaykh al Islam Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (481 AH / 1088) of Herat, Afghanistan. May Allah be pleased them!

The program airs with English subtitles.


With gratitude to Muwasala.org and Almoreed.com.


Victories and Openings From the Isra and Mi‘raj – Habib Ali al Jifri

Habib Ali al-Jifri, may Allah protect him and benefit us by him, tells us how victories and openings come through learning about the Isra and Mi‘raj.

The key to attaining divine gifts is showing mercy. When the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, showed mercy to the people of Ta’if, even though he could have asked for their destruction, Allah bestowed upon him the greatest of gifts on the night of the Mi‘raj.

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, made his Isra from Makkah, which at that time was the centre of the struggle between truth and falsehood. He went to Masjid al Aqsa which is now the centre of the struggle between truth and falsehood.

Just as the Prophet was given victory in Makkah, likewise victory will be given in Masjid al Aqsa. If we see how difficult the situation is in Palestine now, we recall how difficult the situation was then in Makkah in the time of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Traits of the Victorious

Victory eventually came in Makkah to people whose hearts had absolute love for the Prophet. Victory will be given in Palestine to people whose hearts have absolute love for the Prophet.

On the day the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was given victory in Makkah, he ordered his army not to disturb a dog which was nursing its puppies. This was an army whose soldiers’ hearts were filled with prophetic mercy.

In our times armies have no regard for human life, let alone animal life. The army that will be given victory at the end of time must be made up of those whose hearts are filled with mercy. They cannot be people who encourage others to blow up innocent civilians.


The above extracts from a talk delivered at Majelis Rasulullah in Jakarta, Indonesia on the night of the Isra and Mi‘raj, Rajab 1439. With gratitude to Muwasala.org.

Humanity Before Religiosity, a series by Habib Ali al-Jifri (English subtitles)

Habib Ali al-Jifri’s Ramadan program Humanity Before Religiosity has been translated into English and Sign Language. SeekersHub will feature each new episode on this page.

Our sincere thanks to Habib Ali’s team, particularly those who manage his YouTube channel and his Facebook page, for making this wonderful resource available to us, Alhamdulillah.

Episode 18: Dealing with Non-Muslims

Episode 17: Citizenship and Rights

Episode 16: When Religion is Violated

Episode 15: Sexual Identity

Episode 14: How to Deal With Wrongdoers

Episode 13: Forgiveness and Pardon

Episode 12: Chanelling youthful passion (part II)

Episode 11: Channeling youthful passion

Episode 10: A Humane Approach to Dealing With Transgressions

Episode 9: “Al-Walaa Wa-l Bara’a” – Is It From Islam?

Episode 8: The Impact of God’s love and the Prophet Muhammad’s love

Episode 7: How Love Affects Humanity

Episode 6: On Human Rights

Episode 5: Ethics and values

Episode 4: Striking the right balance

Episode 3: The Different Types of Desires in Humans

Episode 2: What is Humanity?


Episode 1: The Vessel of Religiosity

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A Message To American Muslims, from Habib Ali al-Jifri

“Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’ returned with grace and bounty from God; no harm befell them. They pursued God’s good pleasure. God’s favour is great indeed.” [Quran 3:173-174]

Despite the apparent challenges facing the American Muslim community, the underlying meaning behind such circumstances is great. This situation is a moment to deeply root your faith with trust in Allah, have certainty in Him alone, and relieve yourselves of the veil that is reliance on people and their institutions.

What transpires during these days presents an opportunity to acquaint American society with the realities of Islam through eloquence that is articulated through behaviour and character before it is articulated with words. The world is in greater need of seeing actions than words and people are in need of fellow humans with sincere hearts more than eloquent tongues. And it may just be that holding steadfast to these meanings is more appropriate, more pleasing to Allah and His Prophet ﷺ, and more redeeming of our goals in this life and the next, than entering the battle zone of current domestic politics.

Brothers and sisters, you have seen during this time, and by Allah’s grace, the support extended to you by your fellow citizens and various organizations whose hearts still beat with a strong sense of humanity and justice. This is but a message from Allah: seek refuge in Him and place your trust in Him alone, for Allah is the holder of the hearts of human beings and turns them as He wills. It is a reminder for you to fulfill the duty of what it means to be a good citizen and acquaint your fellow Americans with the magnanimity and tolerance of this religion and its noble traits in the best way possible.

The path towards realization of these meanings can be summarized as follows:

1. Filling the heart with mercy and compassion. Being resolute in your love of wanting good for everyone—for those who disagree with you before those who agree and for your adversary before your ally.

2. Being unfaltering in your commitment to upholding noble, prophetic character traits with those who are good to you as well as those who wrong you, all for the sake of Allah.

3. Having excellence in your life affairs and upholding the virtue of ‘perfection’ (itqan) in your work, by which you are seeking to attain the pleasure of Allah.

4. Extending the hand of support and cooperation to fellow Americans to work together to promote a spirit of love and human fraternity in society, and to collectively stand against calls for division, hatred and animosity.

5. Doing all of this sincerely for Allah alone, having true reliance on Him and tranquility in the heart that flows from the light of placing trust in Him.

6. Putting your trust in what Allah has above and over the anxiety that comes from expecting from His creation, and pursuing Allah’s pleasure such that it occupies the heart away from seeking the pleasure of people, for Allah said: “And Allah’s good pleasure is greatest of all”

A litany for attaining tranquility of the heart

Read every morning and evening:

HasbunaLlah wa ni’ma-l wakīl (x70)
Wa ufawidu amri ilaLlah, innaLlaha basirun bil-ibaad (x11)

May Allah grace you with every success, ennoble you with the light of His love and protect you with His protection.

With the greeting of peace,
Ali Al-Jifri, seeker of your prayers

Cover photo by Geoff Livingston. Thumbnail photo by jprwpics.

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Do You Respect The Women Around You? – Habib Ali al-Jifri

Islam has done a favour for women; the oft-repeated rhetoric about the status of women in pre-Islamic Arabian society seems to suggest, but how true is this statement today? Habib Ali al-Jifri invites the male listener to reflect and ask timely questions regarding the role and status of women Islam.

Do you respect her? What is the relationship between you and the women in your life? Do you respect them? What examples do you have in building and maintaining your relationships?

Take Care Of Your Women

In his final sermon, the Messenger of God ﷺ, after the express call to hold fast to prayer, urged the community to take care of the women.  Habib Ali explores this statement along the central theme of worship; he invites us to explore the lives of the  female companions surrounding the Prophet ﷺ to guide us on our way.  What were their roles in society? What was their voice and what impact did they have at an individual and communal level? What was their relationships with the Prophetﷺ?

Call to Rabita

Rabita constitutes building a wholesome relationship with others; specifically women. The foundation is cultivating a relationship with Allah by becoming the true worshipful servant. A journey of body, heart and spirit that illuminates our external relationships.

We are grateful to Al-Madina Mosque Barking for this recording.

 

Resources for seekers

Lessons from the Life of Prophet Jesus, by Habib Ali Al-Jifri

“Between me and him, there is no other prophet” – saying of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon them both

Habib Ali al-Jifri spoke as part of the Muhammed: Master of Change campaign organised by the Radical Middle Way in the United Kingdom. Habib Ali visiting nine cities in 10 days, including St. Philip’s Centre, a Church in the city of Leicester that is well renowned for its extensive interfaith work and which is located next to a mosque names after Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him. The lecture was on the lessons to be learnt from the life of the Prophet Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, on being a good neighbor and fostering co-existence.

Translation by Sidi Wael Zubi.

Putting Shoes On Our Heads, Counsel from Habib Ali Al-Jifri

Habib Ali al-Jifri asks us to imagine if someone walked into a room and placed his shoes on top of his head. What would we think of him? We would think he was crazy or if we had a good opinion, we might say he’s just trying to make us laugh.

This dunya is like a pair of shoes

It’s a funny analogy but in actual fact, we are all constantly “putting shoes on our heads”. This world, the dunya, is like a pair of shoes and our dogged pursuit of fleeting worldly achievements, such as rank, status, popularity, possessions and wealth – is akin to putting shoes on our head.