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Praying Whilst Seated Without an Excuse.

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

I used to pray some of my fard prayers sitting down even though I was able to pray standing. I just felt lazy. Do I have to make up those prayers?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, you would need to make up the prayers you prayed whilst seated without a genuine, permitting excuse.

‘Imran ibn Husayn reported that the Noble Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Pray standing. If you are unable, then [pray] seated. [And] if you are unable [to do that], then [pray] laying down [on your side].” (Bukhari)

Standing (qiyam) in the prayer is a decisively established obligation which must occur, just like the bowing and prostration. There are of course a limited number of exceptional cases, but this is the general rule.

What I’d suggest is taking some time to ensure that you have sound knowledge of the details of the prayer before proceeding to make up your prayers. You don’t want to be in a situation where you’ve made up many prayers but there was a recurring, problematic issue.

May Allah Most High make things easy, and may He grant you felicity in this life and the next.

(Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah (1.310))

Please also see this answer.

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

The Night-Vigil Prayer (Tahajjud)

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Can I pray the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) 5 minutes before the entry of true dawn (fajr)?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

Yes, you can pray the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) even minutes before the entry of true dawn (fajr).

The night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) is generally that which is prayed after the nightfall prayer (‘isha), and after having slept. Praying in this manner was the habitual practice of the Noble Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace). As for night prayer (qiyam al-layl), this is more inclusive, and accordingly, the night-vigil prayer (tahajjud) is a subset of it.

The false dawn (fajr kadhib) is the vertical stream of light which appears on the horizon briefly, and then disappears. Shortly thereafter, true dawn (fajr sadiq), or the time for the normal dawn prayer (fajr), enters. Hence, praying during the false dawn or before or after it, and until the time of dawn, is permitted without dislike.

(Ibn ‘Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar ‘ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar; Zada, Sharh Shir’at al-Islam (357))

Please also see this answer and this one.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,
[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Illegitimate Children and Leading the Prayer.

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

Can Allah accept sa prayer where the Imam’s Father is Christian born out of wedlock?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

The prayer of a convert or somebody born out of wedlock is valid. Acceptability (qabul), however, is something which the jurists (fuqaha) cannot usually make a judgement on because it doesn’t relate to outer forms of worship, but rather it is a matter between servant and Maker.

It is reported that the Noble Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Indeed, a man leaves his prayer, and none of it is recorded for him except a tenth, a ninth, an eighth, a seventh, a sixth, a fifth, a quarter, a third or a half.” (Abu Dawud) The takeaway is that outward forms aren’t sufficient, except, perhaps, for very partial acceptance. There is no correlation, then, between validity and reward or acceptance.

Illegitimate Children and Leading the Prayer (imama)

Statements in the books of Sacred Law (fiqh) which would seem to indicate the dislikedness (karaha) of an illegitimate child leading the prayer are based on what was perceived to be the norm, namely, that such children were often quite remiss when it came to religious knowledge. Clearly, when this is no longer applicable for a given individual, the ruling does not apply because rulings revolve around their legal causes.

As for a convert who was born to married, non-Muslim parents, they are not considered to be illegitimate because the marriage of the parents is recognised and affirmed in our tradition, barring some exceptional cases.

Finally, there is no shame in having been a non-Muslim and then converting. The divine love for you as a faithful believer reached you before you were created, despite anything which may have happened before you formally entered the faith. If anything, the initial submission of somebody who chooses faith in adulthood is greater than somebody born Muslim. At any rate, once you are a Muslim, there is no disparity between believers except in godfearingness (taqwa).

(Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah, with Tahtawi’s Gloss (1.409); Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh al-Mishkat)

Please also see this answer, this answer and this one.

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

Praying Zuhr With a Asr Congregation.

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

If praying the Zuhr prayer after the Shafi’i Asr has entered (but before the Hanafi Asr), would it be permissible to join a congregation praying Asr to complete my Zuhr prayer?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

No, it is not valid to pray the noon prayer (zuhr) behind somebody praying the mid-afternoon prayer (‘asr), even if you deem it to be the former time.

The basis is that the follower’s prayer must be equivalent to or lesser than the prayer of the imam, such as when the follower prays the same prayer or a voluntary prayer, respectively. When this isn’t the case, the follower’s prayer would not be valid because he is basing a different prayer of equivalent legal strength, or a legally stronger prayer, on a legally weaker prayer.

(Quduri/Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab)

Please also see this answer.

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

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


 

Conquering Mount Sawm, by Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya

Especially motivating for those dreading the long summer fasts, the following diary entries, written by British educator Tushar Imdad-ul-Haq Bhuiya, should provide reassurance that keeping hunger at bay isn’t as hard as it seems.Although describing the challenge of keeping a voluntary fast, the lessons are just as relevant for Ramadan.

After reading extracts from Brad Pilon’s Eat. Stop. Eat, encouragement from my teacher and reflection upon the Sunna, I decide to embark on the ultimate challenge for a food-loving Muslim: a voluntary fast. (And since it’s British summer time, the fast lasts from 02:30 till 9PM – 19½ hours!). What encouraged me was last Ramadan’s experience; we British Muslims dreaded the long summer fast of 2012 – the longest of its kind for almost 30 years! And yet, we did it. It wasn’t that hard. Indeed, I found this extract from a hindsight entry made last year under the title ‘Miracle of Fasting’:

“I somehow fasted from 4.50am till 9.30PM, possibly my longest ever. And it wasn’t hard – despite my normally having 3 square meals and 2 tea-breaks in that time! Allah made it easy, put baraka in my suhur and gave me energy, Alhamdulillah!”

So I went to sleep last night, after a late Isha, with the intention that if Allah would get me up at Tahajjud, only then would I fast with the following intentions:

  1. To follow the exalted Sunna, which should suffice us from having any other motive (though, as with other Sunnas, modern scientific findings help us appreciate the worldly benefits)
  2. To discipline my mind and nafs (self/soul) not to think about food all the time, and therefore
  3. Have a more productive day

02:50 AM

Allah woke me at 2:05AM and I knew He wanted me to try this experiment (perhaps so I could share it with SeekersHub Global readers!). I scrambled to the kitchen to prepare an odd suhur of instant porridge, last night’s pizza & chips leftovers, tea, a date and orange juice. Suitably stuffed, and after some fervent du’a, I’m ready to face the day… after the small matter of sleep!

1:15 PM

Breakfast wasn’t an issue as I was still full from suhur. No headaches or tiredness either. Skipped my compulsory tea-break at work without fuss. This is a big deal as, normally, the first moment after finishing my lesson at 10:30  I’d be rushing to the kitchen to make a cuppa! Got some less intensive down-time for the next few hours. Over half way now: so far, so good.

From a teacher’s point of view I find the ability to fast extraordinary. The nafs is like a teenager/child. Where it knows it has options, it’ll test the boundaries and ask for more than it deserves. However when the boundaries are clear from the outset of the day and one has made the firm resolve NOT to eat until sunset, the nafs grows quiet and barely a squeak of defiance is ever heard!

4:30

Three hours later and still no pangs, Alhamdulillah. I got a slight headache after hours of study on a Seekers Guidance course,  email checking and internet research. The research was worth it though: found out about The Fast Diet which contains much of the inspiration that got me started.

Now, after a brief rest, am pretty energized whilst tutoring the first of two lessons. Only two problems I’ve encountered so far: tendency to do excessive or useless internet jobs, and a longing for Maghrib time to come!

7:00

Last lesson done. Slight headache. Will rest for 20 mins before Tai Chi class at 7:30.

10:00

OK, Tai Chi was agony on my legs for some reason (found out later that this was due to my incorrect posture in one of the positions!) But Maghrib came upon me far from passing out due to hunger.

Conquering Mount Sawm…From the Outside

So if I could climb and conquer Mount Sawm outside Ramadan, anyone can. I’ll leave you with a few top tips that helped me get there:

  1. Have a strong intention for Allah.
  2. Consume a hearty, nutritious (I did have porridge remember!) suhur
  3. Read inspiring literature about benefits of the fast: if you’re not up to date with the two world famous and highly popular diets that lead incredible scientific support to the Sunna fasting system, then do read The Fast Diet by Mosley and Eat.Stop.Eat by Pilon
  4. Keep really busy. I’m sure you noticed my day was quite packed with different activities including work, study and fitness.
  5. Ponder that if millions of other Muslims around the world can do it, so can you. Mothers do this to get over the fear of childbirth. Fasting is not nearly as painful. If you need motivation outside Ramadan, when you are struggling to fast when most people aren’t, then there are a few things to consider: a) Your worship is especially likely to be more sincere. Keep your fast secret (as is recommended with all voluntary acts) and enjoy the special connection you have with Allah, knowing that you are fasting sincerely for His pleasure alone; b) The health benefits you learn from acting upon point 3 above is enough to inspire anyone to take up fasting weekly. Non-Muslims throughout the UK are ‘fasting’ Monday and Thursday due to the proven long-term benefits to health. As Muslims we have even more motivation; c) Although, not everyone is fasting, you can be sure that the ‘ulema of Taqwa, awliya and saliheen all fast regularly. It’s certainly comforting to know you are united with them in following the Sunnah of regular voluntary fasting.
  6. Allow yourself a Sunna qaylula (afternoon nap) after Zuhr; in long summer days this means you can get through plenty of work before your nap. Many nap straight after work. When you wake, it’s just the final lap with the finish line in sight.
  7. Enjoy and take advantage of the fact that you can be so much more productive on a fast day.

The Thought is Scarier Than the Experience

As we’ve all experienced, the thought of fasting – of not having one’s regular meals, of skipping one’s normal snacks – is actually a lot more frightening than the fast itself. Ironically, this is like productivity generally: the anticipation of how difficult it will be to achieve important goals is normally much worse than the actual experience.

And so the upshot is also the same: stop worrying; just do it! Ramadan Mubarak to all reading this and I’d be so grateful if you could remember me in your duas when you break your fasts.

Fruit Photo by Michael Stern. Clock picture by Christine Callahan.

Resources for Seekers

Ramadan Guide For Menstruating Women

Although we all know that it’s really the inward that matters, sometimes the outward helps us get there. But when we lose certain acts of worship in Ramadan, it doesn’t mean we have to lose out. Here is a handy resource list for menstruating women to get the best out of Ramadan.

 

Menstruation Is Not A Punishment

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said about menstruation, “Verily this is a matter Allah has written upon the girls of Prophet Adam [peace be upon him].” (Bukhari)
Those who claim that menstruation is like a punishment because one cannot perform acts of worship are severely mistaken. On the contrary, there are many forms of worship that a woman can do while menstruating aside from what is legally prohibited.
Allah says in the Quran, “He who obeys Allah and His messenger, and fears Allah, and keeps duty [unto Him]: such indeed are the victorious.” (Sura al Nur 52)
Allah Most High has commanded menstruating women and women in a state of lochia (post-natal bleeding) to refrain from the ritual prayer and ritual fasting.

Thus, if a menstruating woman fulfills this command with the intention to submit to Allah’s order, she is actually worshiping Allah the entire time that she refrains from the ritual prayer and ritual fasting.

It has been said, “Her praying while pure is worship (ibada) and her refraining from prayer while menstruating is worship. All of it is worship.”
Therefore, there’s nothing dreadful or awful about menstruation or lochia (post-natal bleeding), rather it is a person’s attitude towards it that matters.

Suggested Acts of Worship

  1. Listen to the Quran
  2. Make remembrance (Dhikr) of Allah (see: Selected Supplications)
  3. Send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) (see: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long)
  4. Give generously in charity (see: How Much Should I Give In Charity?)
  5. Be kind to others, including spouses & family members (see: Prophetic Guidance: On Forbearance, Patience and Kindness)
  6. Make Dua for the Ummah (see: Remembering the Ummah in Prayers)
  7. Make much repentance (see: Chapter on Repentance-Imam Nawawi)
  8. Feed fasting people (see: Feed the People – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said)
  9.  Carry out any righteous deed (see: Easy Good Deeds by Mufti Taqi Usmani)
  10. Gain Islamic knowledge (see: 10 On-Demand Courses for Ramadan)
  11. Babysit to help mothers worship (see: Making the Prophet Real for Children)

 

 

 

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service – Ustadha Umm Umar

Ustadha Umm Umar reminds us of incorporating the aspect of service in Ramadan as a means of drawing near to Allah Most High.

She advises to not make Ramadan just revolve around one’s self, rather to also be concerned with others and their needs. Ustadha Umm Umar gives key advice and practical methods on how to engage in service through Ramadan.

I wanted to talk about another aspect of Ramadan that sometimes we forget. Often people think of Ramdana as my month. It‘s between me and Allah. Then they sort of annihilate the idea of doing goodness to others. It’s about me and my time with Allah. About how much time I can put in with the Qur’an. And then when we talk about service some people get a little bit bitter.

Especially the sisters. They’re like, well, why do I have to be the one to do this? why do I have to be the one to cook the iftar? I’d like to spend all day reading Qur’an. It’s sort of losing sight of what Ramadan is really about. And what the the scholars today talked and emphasized a lot is the love of Allah Most High. And rectifying the self. Turning to Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

But these two concepts do not contradict each other. Rather they run in parallel. Because it’s when we turn help each other, help fellow believers, and it’s all done out of love for Allah, that we manifest that love. That we love to have His creation turned to Him. And if there is anything we can do to help other people turn towards Allah we should run to that opportunity. Whether that be to people in our own family, whether it be our children, whether it be members of our community. We should be avid to do what we can to help other people.

Balance Service and Self

That being said, it needs to be balanced of course, because you can’t just spend all of your Ramadan running around serving other people with neglect to oneself. One needs that personal time where you’re turning to Allah. Reading the Qur’an with reflection and understanding. Spending time reading other beneficial material or listening to beneficial lectures. Benefiting the self.

But there are a lot of things, there is a lot of extra time in the day, in which one can do things for other people. And as our teachers say, it’s almost as if there’s a sale during Ramadan, because now actions that you do are multiplied. Good actions that you do, even reading the Qur’an – all the good things that you can think of doing are multiplied. So it is best to take advantage of this time .

And doing what you can to help other people is also part of making the most of one’s time. It is not that one spends a little time in intensive worship and then closes the book and goes to relax, and just sort of vegetate for part of the day. Or one decides to go to sleep for another part of the day. One strives to make the most of every moment. As we should on every other day of the year.

We should make the most of all parts of our day on a daily basis. Even when we get up from this gathering we should be striving to make the most of our lives as believers. To make all of our moments count for us and not against us.

Primary Benefits of Service

There are three primary benefits of service. One is that it erases your past sins. When you do things for other people these things get erased. So there is nothing better you can ask for. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and would do anything to not face Allah with those on our record. And by His mercy He can forgive a lot of those things when you’re serving other people with that intention.

Another benefit of doing service at this time is that you get the dua of fasting people. When you’re doing things to benefit them you’re earning their dua. And Allah knows whose dua is accepted. When you’re doing it for a number of people, that includes even small children, know that when we do things for other people they make a dua for you.

The Hidden Secret of Service

And perhaps that single dua from one single person, child or adult, known or stranger, is the reason for your success. It might not be all of these customs that you’ve done in the past or all of these other things. It might be the dua of one elder in the community that you helped in a real time of need. Allah has this knowledge. It is with Allah Most High.

It’s a hidden secret in our service to other people that we don’t know where where our ultimate success will lie. And with what action and with what person. That leaves us continuously striving to do our best at every moment.

And finally the third aspect of service is that the deeds are multiplied during Ramadan. So one might be doing things for other people at other times of the year but in Ramadan these deeds are actually multiplied. They weigh heavier on your record. So strive in this regard and in sha Allah the reward for your service will be multiplied.

 

 

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.

My Husband Doesn’t Pray.

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My husband used to pray and go for jumu’ah, but now he doesn’t pray at all. He says he is mad at Allah for all the suffering in the world, and why should he pray to a God who is supposed to be merciful, but let women and children be violated etc? We end up arguing sometimes. His mother is not Muslim. My kids and I are Muslims and practice, but he refuses to pray with us, so I lead salah with my kids. What else can I do? I keep making dua to Allah to bring him back to the straight path. He knows the punishment of neglecting his salah and jumu’ah.

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Meaning of tribulations

This must be such a difficult situation for you and your family. May Allah grant you a way out, and bring your husband closer to Allah.

When we view suffering through the lens of the dunya, then there is no end to pain. But this is not the way of the believer. We must remember to look at suffering through the lens of the akhirah.

Please refer him to these resources:

Suffering and Divine Wisdom
The Problem of Evil and a Summarized Islamic Response
Why We Suffer – 2 – What Is the Problem of Evil? – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

Husband’s anger

Your husband sounds very sensitive. This quality, when harnessed well, is a very positive trait. When it is not channeled well, then it can cause great harm to himself, as manifested by his refusal to pray.

Anger is a secondary emotion. Beneath it is often deep sadness, anxiety and/or powerlessness. Your husband was not born into a Muslim family and embraced Islam at a later age. He needs stronger foundations. He needs to better understand Allah, and have a better opinion of Him, through a courses such as Absolute Essentials of Islam (Shafi‘i): Habshi’s Encompassing Epistle Explained: Getting Started With Your Belief and Practice or Absolute Essentials of Islam (Hanafi): Getting Started With Your Belief and Practice. I pray that he enrols in these courses.

I discourage you from arguing with your husband. Focus on nourishing your connection with him. Soften him through your own kindness and patience with him.

Beautiful character of the Prophet

I encourage your husband to soften his anger through getting to know the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). There is deep healing in that. Studying the Shama’il with a teacher would be so beneficial for him. In lieu of that, perhaps he can listen to A Beauty Most Sublime and The Prophet’s Heart: Understanding the Prophet’s Beautiful Relationship with Allah and with Allah’s Creation. Even if does not want to, please strive to listen to these blessed recordings. Your heart will change, and impact on his, inshaAllah.

If he is willing to listen, encourage your husband to write a letter to the Prophet (peace sand blessings be upon him), pouring out his sorrow, anger, disbelief and so on. When his eyes shed tears, then his heart will often.

The door of punishment is not changing your husband’s behaviour. Perhaps the door of Prophetic love will.

Spiritual nourishment

Please look after your own heart during this time. Guard your prayers, and increase your acts of worship. Bring light into your home. Have regular gatherings of goodness in your home, and connect to like-minded and like-hearted families.

Be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, I encourage you to practice these Self-Compassion Guided Meditations and Exercises

Guiding your children

It was narrated from Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness in all things.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Your children are so blessed to have you as their mother. Please ensure that your own aqidah foundations are strong, so that you can teach them about Allah and protect them from being negatively influenced by your husband. You are the wellspring from which they draw from, and they learn best from you who are.

I strongly recommend that you purchase and go through these wonderful children’s books from Fons Vitae. I have bought them for my own children.

Please continue to lead salat for your children. Do acts of worship together, as a family (reading Qur’an, reading Hadith, making dua together etc), even if your husband is unwilling to join you. The states of your illuminated hearts will flow to your husband. Trust in this.

Please see:

A Reader on the Problem of Evil, Suffering, Destiny, and Allah’s Mercy

[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.