Ramadan Advice from Shaykh Salek
Ramadan Advice from Shaykh Salek
NEW YORK — In a crowded dorm meeting room last week, Khalid Latif posed an unusual scenario to dozens of students and young professionals gathered for a weekly Islamic studies class.
“A girl walks into a (mosque) and she’s wearing a miniskirt,” the 28-year-old Muslim chaplain proposed to the group at New York University. “What do you think?”
Some participants giggled. Others looked perplexed. Traditionally, women and men are expected to wear conservative clothing in mosques. Most women who do not typically cover their heads will wear headscarves in a mosque. But the idea of a girl in a miniskirt entering an Islamic house of prayer? Absurd.
The answer, Latif suggested, was not to scold or ignore the woman, but to welcome her to pray.
“Your tongue has been given to you as a way of being closer to others and closer to the divine,” he told the group. “Think of how you use your tongue.”
The lesson is one of many the 28-year-old Muslim chaplain at the university has imparted in recent weeks as part of a popular series of classes and discussion groups he launched ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins Aug. 1.
Little changes each year about the fasting month except its dates, which are determined by the lunar calendar. Muslims awake before dawn for breakfast and abstain from food, water and sex during the day before breaking their fasts with group dinners at night. The days are punctuated by prayers, and Muslims try to read the Quran, their holy book, at least once in its entirety before the month’s end. Mosques will also often organize community service activities.
But in his six years as the Muslim chaplain at New York University, Latif said he has noticed that Ramadan has become routine for many Muslims. As the director of the university’s Islamic Center, he works with hundreds of students, among them American-born Muslims, converts and international students from Islamic countries. The diversity of the group, he said, means a lot of varying ideas and questions about Ramadan and Islam.
A few weeks ago, Latif proposed an idea to those Muslims, many who have observed Ramadan since puberty, the time of life at which Muslims are required to start the practice of fasting: How about a class about Ramadan? Despite it being summer, when the student population empties out of NYU, hundreds of people signed up via the organization’s email list and website. The Islamic organization has hosted social events during Ramadan for years, but a class to teach Muslims about one of the most integral aspects of their religion was a new idea.
“We wanted to create an open space outside the mosque. A lot of Muslims get into a frame about religion where they feel unwelcome or judged or feel like religion is a set of rules,” said Latif, whose group has been meeting for six weeks to prepare for Ramadan. Latif’s students have kept daily journals of their spiritual progress, which they will consult during Ramadan as the group meets for dinners and more discussions to break the fast.
“Yet Islam is about reality. What fasting teaches you is the reality of your own situation and those around you. It allows you to think of what you can start changing about yourself,” he added.
Maureen Ahmed, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Stony Brook University, started coming to Latif’s classes after hearing about them from friends and watching online sermons about womens’ rights posted by Latif, who is also an imam (prayer leader). Unlike at many mosques, the majority of the class’s attendees have also been women.
“I don’t know where I stand with Islam myself,” said Ahmed, who is a research assistant at the Institute of International Education in Manhattan. Ahmed has fasted during Ramadan since she was young, but says she has only recently “come into my own terms about my religion.”
“I don’t have my parents telling me how to practice or what to do anymore. I have to figure it out on my own and what it means to me,” said Ahmed. “It’s good to come here and know if you don’t wear an hijab (headcover) or have other questions, that it’s OK.”
Ahmed participated in the recent conversation about the woman in the miniskirt as part of a class on the subject of character. Other classes have focused on Muslims’ intentions, habits, prayer and gratitude, as well as the legal aspects of fasting during Ramadan.
“Why you do what you do is really important, especially in regard to fasting. It’s much more meaningful if you look at it as more than abstaining from food,” said Latif, echoing one of the course’s themes.
Sara Mahmoud, who is studying for a graduate degree in public health at Columbia University, also recently began attending the classes with her friends after hearing about them from other Muslims.
“They help us get pumped up — as a group — about Ramadan,” she said. One of the simplest lessons from the discussions is about health and nutrition, she added. “A lot of people, when they break the fast, they’ll just gorge on tons of greasy food. You’re supposed to be taking care of yourself, not overeating.”
Latif, who was raised in a Pakistani-American family in New Jersey before attending NYU and training in chaplaincy at Hartford Seminary, said he was motivated to teach about Ramadan by his experiences as a counselor. As a chaplain at both NYU and the New York Police Department, he gets many questions from Muslims and non-Muslims alike about Islam. Hosting his classes outside of a mosque — the group also plans to meet in the basement of a Catholic church for breaking-the-fast dinners during Ramadan — may open up the discussion, he said.
In addition to the debate about the miniskirt, Latif posed another challenging question at the meeting last week.
“What is a good Muslim?” he asked the crowd.
“A good Muslim is one who prays five times a day,” a man offered in reply.
“Being a good Muslim is being kind to others,” another man suggested.
A woman chimed in: “Who is to judge?”
Read more about the Islamic Center at New York University
In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful
1. Focus this Ramadan on reconnecting with Allah, His Book, His Messenger, & His Creation.
2. Feel your neediness to Allah as you fast.
3. Recognize & be thankful for all His Blessings.
4. Make your worship & good deeds expressions of yearning for Allah.
5. Strive to bring the Prophet’s way of excellence (peace and blessings be upon him) into your life.
6. Commit to consistency in worship & good deeds, as this is a sign of sincerity with Allah
Ramadan Program | SeekersGuidance
SeekersHub Toronto (www.SeekersHub.org) has a full program of activities for this Ramadan. See their Ramadan Program for details!
SeekersHub is a project of SeekersGuidance.
See their Ramadan Program for details
In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful
A Complete Guide To Fasting (Hanafi)
A Complete Guide To Fasting (Shafii)
As salamu ‘alaykum,
As Ramadan approaches, it is imperative that we begin thinking about how we can benefit most from the journey ahead of us. Here are five simple ways through which we can prepare for this blessed month:
1) Intention (niyyah): Make the sincere intention that you want this Ramadan to be a sacred and special Ramadan.
2) Make a plan: Plan how you would like to spend each day this Ramadan. Postpone things that can be postponed, and focus on activities that will benefit you, insha’Allah, in the hereafter. Here are some examples: Set a target for how much Qur’an you will recite, and make a plan for when you will recite it. Set a target for how many prayers you will pray at the masjid, and make a plan for how you will reach this target.
3) Make a du’a list: Make a du’a list and include the following: a) your needs for this dunya; b) your needs for the hereafter; c) the needs of your family members and friends; d) the names of your friends and family members. A great book to have for du’as is Accepted Whispers.
4) Serve (khidmah): Go beyond just yourself and your own needs during the month of Ramadan. Before Ramadan begins, find an avenue for community service so you can serve others throughout the month.
5) Charity (sadaqah): Figure out how you can spend less on yourself so you can spend more on the needy during Ramadan. Begin calculating your assets, so that when Ramadan begins, you are ready to pay your zakat and sadaqah.
We pray to Almighty Allah that we are blessed with a fruitful and beneficial Ramadan, during which we may become closer to Allah. Ameen.
You can find more from Imam Tahir on his Facebook page.
Preparing For Ramadan with Al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz (May Allah Preserve Him) said:
“Make sure you end Sha’ban in the best of states, for Allah records the rewards that we will receive and the supererogatory actions that we will perform before Ramadan enters. He also records the bad deeds and the wretchedness of those that will be deprived the blessings of Ramadan. What will be your state on the last Friday of Sha’ban and the night before it? Attend the gatherings at the end of this month with a heart focused on the All-Merciful.
Prepare for the first night of Ramadan, for on this night Allah gazes at His creation, a special gaze which is unique to this Ummah. Allah will never punish the one upon whom He gazes. Look at how many gifts have been given to this Ummah – when Ramadan enters the gates of the Garden are opened and the gates of the Fire are closed.
If someone who is destined for the Fire dies during Ramadan he will see that the gates of the Fire are closed!
The odour that comes forth from the mouth of the fasting person is sweeter in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk!
Every night Allah decrees the safety of 600,000 people from the Fire (in some narrations one million). Then on the last night he decrees the safety of the same number of people that he decreed on every night of the month. He also decrees the safety of others during the day – particularly at sunrise and sunset.
This is not to mention what happens on Laylat al-Qadr! Allah make us amongst those who reach that night and attain all that it contains. Ask from Allah in the best of ways because Allah does not accept a du`a from a heart which is heedless. Likewise a du`a from a sound heart is more likely to be accepted than a du`a from a tongue which is fluent.
Al-Sayyida `A’isha asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) what she should ask for if she knew that it was Laylat al-Qadr.
He replied: “O Allah, truly You are all-Pardoning, You love to pardon so pardon us.”
He also said (Allah bless him and grant him peace): “Do four things in abundance: two things with which you please your Lord, and two things which you cannot do without. As for the two things with which you please your Lord: your testifying that there is nothing worthy of worship other than Allah and your seeking His forgiveness. As for the two things which you cannot do without: your asking Allah for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from the Fire.”
So say these things in abundance, for they are the best things for which you can use your tongue. Say them in your homes, in the streets, in the mosques not just at Iftar or after Tarawih.
[On the basis of these two hadiths the scholars and people of Tarim repeat the following du`a throughout the month of Ramadan:
أشْهَدُ أن لا إلهَ إلا الله نَسْتَغْفِرُ الله نسأَلُكَ الجنَّةَ ونَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ النَّار (3)
Ashadu alla ilaha illallah, nastaghfirullah, nas’aluk’l-jannata wa na`audhu bika min an-nar
“I testify that there is nothing worthy of worship other than Allah and we seek the forgiveness of Allah. We ask You for Paradise and take refuge in You from the Fire.” (3 times)
اللهمَّ إنَّكَ عَفُوٌ تُحِبُّ العَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنَّا (3) يا كَرِيم
Allahumma innaka `afuwun tuhibbu-l’`afwa f`afwa `anna
“O Allah, truly You are all-Pardoning, You love to pardon so pardon us” (3 times). On the third time say “O Most Generous” (Ya Karim).]
Allah give us the biggest portion of all goodness. Make Ramadan a cause of rectification and the removal of tribulations.
 Jalsat al-Ithnayn, Dar al-Mustafa the night of 25th Sha`ban 1432/25th July 2011
 Narrated by al-Bayhaqi
 Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim
 Narrated by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi with a sahih chain of transmission
 Narrated by Ibn Khuzayma
Duties of the Month of Muharram
1. It is the best of months for general voluntary fasts, after Ramadan.
2. It is especially recommended to fast the 10th of Muharram (known as the Day of `Ashura), with a day before it or after it. [Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar, quoting Kasani’s al-Bada`i]
3. It is also virtuous to give in charity on this day.
Extracts from Ibn Rajab’s Lataif al-Ma`arif, regarding the month of Muharram:
The Virtues of Fasting in the Month of Muharram and Its First Ten Days
Muslim reported from Abu Hurayra (Allah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said , “The best of fasts after the month of Ramadan are in the Month of Allah, which you call Muharram. And the best of prayer after the obligatory prayer is the night prayer.” [Muslim, 1163]
This refers to general voluntary fasts according to Imam Ibn Rajab (Allah have mercy on him): These are best in the month of Muharram, just as the best general voluntary prayer is night prayer.
The virtue and honor of this month can be attested to by the fact that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) called it, “the Month of Allah.” (Shahr Allah) Such ascription is only made by Allah to the most special of His creation, such as the ascription of the Prophets Muhammad, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Ya`qub, and others to his slavehood (Allah’s peace and blessings be on them all), and His ascription of the House (Ka`ba) and the camel to himself.
Given that Allah ascribed fasting, between all spiritual works, to Himself [saying, “It is Mine,”] it was suitable that this month, which is also ascribed to Allah, be selected for this particular form of worship.
Fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord. This is why Allah Mighty and Exalted says, [in the divine hadith (hadith qudsi)], “Every action of the son of Adam is his, except for fasting. It is Mine, and it is I who reward it.” [Bukhari and Muslim, from Abu Hurayra]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) also said, “The fasting person has two joys: one when he breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord.”[Muslim]
As for voluntary night prayer (qiyam al-layl), it is superior to voluntary prayer during the day because it is closer to secrecy, and nearer to sincerity (ikhlas).
Allah Most High said, “Lo! the vigil of the night is (a time) when impression is more keen and speech more certain.” [Qur`an, 73.9]
This is because the time of the night vigil (tahajjud) is the best of times for voluntary prayer, and the closest a servant gets to his Lord. It is a time when the doors of the skies are opened, supplications answered, and needs fulfilled.
Allah Most High has praised those who wake up at night in His remembrance, supplication, seeking forgiveness, and intimate entreating (munajat), saying, “Who forsake their beds to cry unto their Lord in fear and hope, and spend of that We have bestowed on them. No soul knows what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.” [Qur`an, 32.16-17]
And, “Or he who pays adoration in the watches of the night, prostrate and standing, bewaring of the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord? Say: Are those who know equal with those who know not? But only those of understanding will pay heed.” [Qur`an, 39.9]
And He said to His Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace), “And some part of the night awake for it, as voluntary worship for you. It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate.” [Qur`an, 17.79]
It has been said that those who worship at night will enter Paradise without reckoning, and that standing in night prayer shortens the length of one’s Standing on the Day of Judgment.
This is why the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “Stick to night prayer, for it was the way of the righteous before you. Night prayer is a means of closeness to Allah Most High, of expiating for bad deeds, avoiding sins, and keeping away illness from one’s body.” [Tirmidhi (3543], Bayhaqi, and others; it is a sound (hasan) hadith]
Similarly, it has been related that fasting is a means for good health. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) is reported to have said, “Fast, and you shall have good health.” [Ahmad, from Abu Hurayra]
Lovers have no time more joyous than when they are alone in entreating their Beloved. This is the healing for their hearts, and the great thing that they could long for.
This is why Abu Sulayman al-Darani would say, “The people of the night find more joy than the people of distraction (lahw) in their distractions. Were it not for the night, I would not like to remain living.”
The Day of `Ashura: The Tenth of Muharram
It is mentioned in Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him and his father) that he was asked about fasting the Day of `Ashura [10th of Muharram]. He said, “I did not see the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fast a day while more avid to seek its virtue than this day,” [meaning the Day of `Ashura]. [Bukhari (2006), and Muslim (1132)].
The Day of `Ashura has great virtue, and tremendous sanctity (hurma). The virtue of fasting it was known among the Prophets (peace be upon them all). Both Prophet Nuh and Prophet Musa (peace be upon them both) fasted it.
The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) used to fast this day even in Mecca, though he had not yet ordered others to do so, as mentioned in both Bukhari and Muslim. [Bukhari (2002), Muslim (1125)]
When he migrated to Medina, and found the People of the Book fasting this day and venerating it, he ordered the Muslims to fast it, and encouraged it so much that even the children would fast it.
It has been reported in both Bukhari and Muslim from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him), that, When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) reached Medina, he found the Jews fasting the Day of `Ashura, so he asked them, “What is this day you are fasting?” They said, “This is a tremendous day. Allah saved Musa and his people on this day and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Musa fasted it out of thanks, so we fast it too.” The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, “And we are more deserving of Musa than you are.” So he fasted this day, and ordered that it be fasted. [Bukhari (2004) and Muslim (1130)]
At the end of his life, the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) made the determination not to fast this day alone, but with another day [f: either before or after it], in order to be different from the People of the Book.
It has been reported in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (Allah have mercy on him), also from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that, “When the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) fasted the Day of `Ashura and ordered his companions to fast it, they said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This is a day that the Jews and Christians venerate.’ So the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) said, ‘When next year comes – if Allah wills – we will fast the Ninth [of Muharram with it].’ But the next year did not come before the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) passed away.” [Muslim (1134), Abu Dawud (2445)]
And it is reported in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Allah have mercy on him), from Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Fast the Day of `Ashura” and be different from the Jews by fasting a day before it or a day after it.” [Ahmad]
Giving in Charity on the Day of `Ashura
It has been reported from Abd Allah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As (Allah be pleased with him), that “Whoever fasts `Ashura, it is as if he has fasted the entire year. And whoever gives charity this day it is like the charity of an entire year.”
Some of the Virtues of the Day of `Ashura
It is a day in which Allah forgave an entire people. Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to a man, “If you want to fast a month after Ramadan, then fast Muharram, for it has a day in which Allah forgave an entire people, and He turns to others in repentance in.” [Tirmidhi (841)]
And Allah alone gives success.
Ramadan is over, and I’ll miss its strange intensity.
Dry mountains suddenly flower
purged of their pent-up poisons.
The air is the same, an
growling through it
overhead. Underfoot the same earth
slowly spins, but
with this month of time spliced neatly into our
time frame there’s a
renewal, a re-
awakening to our
human strengths and
frailties, and the
sweet taste of relief that comes as a
friend. Such a wind
blows through palm trees at the edge of a sleepless sea,
such a powerful link-up with time
past and time future, with
long marches, endurance of prisoners of
conscience, famine, sudden
calamities on high snow mountain peaks when
storms from nowhere force climbers into a snow-cave with
few supplies and only the
warmth of each others’ bodies to
stay alive –
images press forward, faces and thoughts of
people pushed to their limits
flood forward from their being where they are
to our Ramadan apprehension
in the luxury of our normal surroundings
with the Fast ordered from God through His
Prophet, peace be upon him, so that it has the
total weight and ring of
Divine obligation, the
daily observance, and the
celestial gifts at the end
which come as
dots of light in
space all around us
as we walk with our
faces turning left and right
at new worlds
all around us
For more excellent poems on Eid:
Born in 1940 in Oakland, California, Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore’s first book of poems, D
awn Visions, was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights Books, San Francisco, in 1964, and the second in 1972, Burnt Heart/Ode to the War Dead. He created and directed The Floating Lotus Magic Opera Company in Berkeley, California in the late 60s, and presented two major productions, The Walls Are Running Blood, and Bliss Apocalypse. He became a Sufi Muslim in 1970, performed the Hajj in 1972, and lived and traveled throughout Morocco, Spain, Algeria and Nigeria, landing in California and publishing The Desert is the Only Way Out, and Chronicles of Akhira in the early 80s (Zilzal Press). Residing in Philadelphia since 1990, in 1996 he published The Ramadan Sonnets (Jusoor/City Lights), and in 2002, The Blind Beekeeper (Jusoor/Syracuse University Press). He has been the major editor for a number of works, including The Burdah of Shaykh Busiri, translated by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, and the poetry of Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Munir Akash. He is also widely published on the worldwide web: The American Muslim, DeenPort, and his own website, among others: www.danielmoorepoetry.com. The Ecstatic Exchange Series is bringing out the extensive body of his works of poetry, beginning in 2005 with Mars & Beyond, Laughing Buddha Weeping Sufi, Salt Prayers and a revised edition of Ramadan Sonnets, and continuing in 2006 beginning with Psalms for the Brokenhearted, I Imagine a Lion, Coattails of the Saint, Love is a Letter Burning in a High Wind, and The Flame of Transformation Turns to Light. Abdallah Jones and the Disappearing-Dust Caper is the tenth in the series, and the first for young adults in the Ecstatic Exchange / Crescent Series.
Islam has two major holidays, Eid al-Fitr (Post-Fasting Festival) and Eid al-Adha. The word Eid itself is an Arabic word, whose root connotation is “that which comes back, time after time, and rejoicing.” Its particular usage in Islam, for the two major holidays, is because these two days are meant to be days of rejoicing. 
The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “These are days of eating, drinking, and remembrance of God.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, an authoritative collection of the sayings of the Prophet.]
In this same spirit, the Qur’an mentions that, “Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Allah, Lord of us! Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast (eid) for us, for the first of us and for the last of us and a sign from You. Give us sustenance, for You are the Best of Sustainers.'” (Qur’an, 5: 114)
Eid al-Fitr celebrates the completion of the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and increase their spiritual devotions, and is meant to be a recognition the material and spiritual favors of God to His creation.
On this day, Muslims all over the world thank God for the gift of fasting, in which they avoided food, drink and intercourse from dawn to dusk, out of obedience and servitude. The Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan out of faith, seeking its reward, shall have all their past sins forgiven.” [Also reported by Bukhari in his Sahih, and others]
The many lessons in Ramadan are acted upon on this day of festivity, in order that they not be forgotten:
1. Devoting oneself to God: Muslims start the day by showering after dawn on Eid day, then go to the short Eid prayer and sermon that takes place early in the morning.
2. Recognizing one”s blessings and thanking God for them: Muslims are encouraged to wear their best clothes, give gifts (especially to children) and celebrate with family, friends, and neighbors.
3. Remembering the plight of the poor and giving in charity: On Eid day, it is especially recommended to give in charity, the best time of which is before going to the mosque or prayer hall in the morning.
It is a day in which Muslims seek to join between worldly and spiritual celebration, for it is said, “True rejoicing is not (merely) in wearing new clothes, but in becoming true in one”s devotion to God.”
As a result, it is encouraged for Muslims to fast another six days after Eid during the month of Shawwal, in order to keep alive the lessons learned during the month of Ramadan, and to become of those devoted to God. It is because of this that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Whoever fasts of Ramadan then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal shall have the reward of having fasted the whole year.” (Sahih Muslim)
The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) said, “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” [Reported by Bukhari in his Sahih]
The Fiqh of Eid – Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali (SeekersGuidance Blog)
 Raghib al-Isfahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur”an, 594 (Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 1997). This is a classic work on the vocabulary of the Qur”an.
MMVIII © Faraz Rabbani and SunniPath.
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