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Daily Checklist for the Spiritual Traveler to the Divine – Compiled by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Sha‘ār

Any individual wishing to turn to Allah on a daily basis should try their upmost to implement the following checklist and advice.This daily checklist was compiled by Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Sha’ar, son of Sidi Abu Munir, the longtime personal attendant of the great Damascene scholar of Islamic spiritually, Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Shaghouri.

صلاة ركعتين في السحر
1. Performing 2 units (rak‘a) of prayer in the last part of the night

أداء الصلوات الخمس جماعة وخصوصاً الفجر مع الخشوع والحضور في الصلاة
2. Performing the five obligatory prayers in congregation, especially Fajr, with presence and humility before God ﷻ

المحافظة على الوضوء
3. Consistency upon ablution (wudū’)

المحافظة على السنن الرواتب وأربع ركعات الضحى
4. Consistency upon the supererogatory prayers (sunan) associated with the obligatory prayers and four units of the morning prayer (duhā)

قراءة جزء من القرآن مع قراءة (الواقعة, الملك, أواخر البقرة والحشر) كل ليلة
5. Reciting a juz’ of Qur’ān every day, as well as al-Wāqi‘a, al-Mulk, and the endings of al-Baqara and al-Hashr every night

وقراءة (100) استغفار – (100) صلاة على النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم –       (100)  لا إله إلا الله – (100) سبحان الله وبحمده صباحا ومساء
6. Reciting 100x istighfār, 100x prayer on the Prophet ﷺ (salawāt), 100x lā ilāha illā Allāh, and 100x subhān Allāhi wa bi hamdihi every morning and evening

صلاة ركعتي التوبة كل يوم قبل النوم مع البكاء من خشية الله
7. Performing 2 units of the prayer of repentance (tawba) every night before sleeping, crying out of humility before God ﷻ

التصدق ولو بشيء يسير كل يوم
8. Giving in charity, even very little, every day

صيام الاثنين والخميس على قدر الاستطاعة
9. Fasting Mondays and Thursdays as much as one is able

الجدية التامة وقلة الخلطة وعدم الانشغال بسفاسف الأمور
10. Maintaining complete solemnity, spending little time intermingling with people, and not wasting time in trivial matters

حسن الخلق والتزام الآداب الشرعية
11. Having good character and maintaining the etiquette (adab) of the sacred law

الاضطرار والحرقة للوصول إلى الله تعالى وإشغال الفكر بالتقدم في السلوك وترقية الحال
12. Having a deep, burning need to arrive at God ﷻ and busying one’s thoughts with spiritual advancement and the elevation of one’s state

إحكام الصمت الشرعي واغتنام الوقت
13. Staying silent in accordance with the law and taking advantage of one’s time

النصيحة لكل مسلم
14. Advising every Muslim

محاسبة النفس كل يوم
15. Taking oneself to account every day

مسامحة الخلق أجمعين
16. Forgiving all people

التواضع والشعور بأنك أقل الناس قدراً
17. Being humble, feeling that one is the least worthy of people

الحرص على تتبع السنة في كل الأمور
18. Covetousness in following the Sunnah in all matters

التفاني وبذل النفس للدين
19. Spending and exhausting the self in service of the religion

ملازمة مجالس العلم
20. Constantly attending gatherings of sacred knowledge

قراءة أصول الطريق كل أسبوع مرة على الأقل
21. Reading the foundations of the spiritual path at least once a week

الابتعاد عن الأمور التالية
Avoiding the following matters:
– Love of being seen and of leadership | حب الظهور والرياسة
– Anger | الغضب
– Tale-telling | النميمة
– Backbiting | الغيبة
– Lying | الكذب
– Deceit | الغش
– Ostentation | الرياء
– Letting others hear of one’s religious works | السمعة
– Conceit | الغرور
– Mentioning immoral acts | الخوض في الباطل
– Arguing | الجدال
– Reliance on oneself | الاعتداد بالنفس
– Being intimate and delighted with the people of heedlessness | الانبساط والاستئناس مع أهل الغفلة
– Satisfying one’s hunger beyond filling one-third of the stomach | الشبع بمجاوزة ثلث المعدة
– Looking down upon other people | التعالي على الخلق
– Coveting this world | الحرص على الدنيا
– Sloth in acts of worship | الكسل في الطاعات

Are You Making the Most of Your Wuḍūʼ? (Podcast Transcript) – By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The following is a transcription of “Are You Making the Most of Your Wuḍūʼ?” podcast.

 

People ask: “What are the spiritual meanings of our ritual ablution?” – the wuḍūʼ. 

Very often people forget that the ritual ablution – wuḍūʼ – is an act of worship. Very often our wuḍūʼ turns into a routine: “I need to pray, so let me do my wuḍūʼ, let me finish my wuḍūʼ.” So sometimes it just becomes routine: “I’m doing this, so I can now go and pray.” 

And this is true, in that wuḍūʼ is a means to be able to pray, but it is at the same time an act of worship. So one needs to pay attention to it. 

Other people make a mistake with respect to the wuḍūʼ, in that they become excessive and fall into misgivings about it. They put all their focus on worrying and that is a mistake, because the Prophetic teachings give us a balance, that we do things in a right way, as best we can, but we attach our hearts not to our actions but to the One we are doing the actions for. 

So what is the wuḍūʼ? The word wuḍūʼ in Arabic, comes from waḍā’a, from radiance, and naẓāfa, cleanliness. So the purpose of wuḍūʼ is to clean oneself in a ritual manner to be ready to pray, and it is a means of radiance, because the outward washing has a sense of spiritual purification and spiritual illumination. 

So when we make wuḍūʼ we have to keep in mind that we begin the wuḍūʼ with intention: “Why am I making wuḍūʼ?” For the sake of Allāh. This is an act of worship. It contains a beautiful reminder that God loves purity, God loves beauty. So you are readying yourself for the encounter with your Beloved. 

So you begin with the intention. In fact, some of the great masters of spirituality, like Imām Aḥmad Zarrūq, he says that presence of heart in prayer begins with presence of heart in the ritual ablution, in the wuḍūʼ. So you begin with intention: “I am seeking Allāh through this action,” and you behold the meaning that each of the limbs that you wash, that you are seeking to rid it of blameworthy qualities, and to adorn it with the qualities of spiritual illumination, the qualities beloved to Allāh. So that when you wash your hands, intend to wash yourself of all acts that are sinful that you may have committed with your hands, in your dealings, in your actions. And to acquire with your effort, and your actions all those qualities that are beloved to Allāh. When you rinse your mouth, you intend to rid yourself of vile speech, and the consumption of anything that is displeasing to Allāh, and to characterize yourself with speech that is beloved to Allāh, of remembrance and supplication and recitation of Qur’ān, and speech that inspires others, that encourages others, that assists others. Likewise, when wash your face, you intend to wash away directing yourself in life towards all that is displeasing to Allāh, and to characterize yourself with those radiant concerns, the concerns for God Himself and for all that is beloved to Allāh in your life. When you wash your arms, the same meanings, that you be of those who receive their book of good deeds in their right hand, the hand in which the righteous receive their book of good deeds on the Day of Judgment, not to be of the people of perdition, those who receive their book of deeds in their left hand. That you perform the actions of the servants of good, not the actions of those who turn away. Likewise, with your feet, that you direct your feet towards all that is pleasing to Allāh, and that you rid yourself of directing yourself in life towards all that is displeasing to Allāh. 

In the ritual ablution, in the wuḍūʼ, not only is it from the Prophetic example to begin in the name of Allāh, by saying bismiLlāh, but it is also from Prophetic practice to remain in remembrance of Allāh throughout the wuḍūʼ, So with each of the actions that we perform, before you wash your mouth engage in remembrance, before you wash your face engage in remembrance. You can say lā ilāha illa Allāh, or subḥān Allāh, or to make a du’ā, make an interactive wuḍūʼ. With each action ask Allāh for meanings related to that particular action. This was not only from the broad Prophetic practice, but the early Muslims used to engage in frequent supplication at each of the stages of wuḍūʼ. In some of the great books of Islām, like the Beginning of Guidance by Imām al-Ghazālī, are suggested particular supplications that you can recite at each stage of your wuḍūʼ, and this is the kind of wuḍūʼ that results not just in physical cleanliness and then to be outwardly ready to pray, but it results in inward purification, inward radiance, and a spiritual readiness to pray. And this is why when we finish the wuḍūʼ, we take a sip of the water source from which we are making wuḍūʼ, and then we look up to the Heavens, we raise our finger, and we make the testification of faith, and we make the du’ā: 

“رَبِّي اجْعَلْنِيْ مِنَ التَّوَّابِيْنَ وَ اجْعَلْنِيْ مِنَ الْمُتَطَهِّرِيْنَ”

Oh Lord, make me of the oft-repentant and make me of those who purify themselves completely!” 

And these are the two meanings of the ritual ablution: complete repentance and complete purification, illumination, and readiness for the prayer.

What is Special About the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah? – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

* Originally Published on 1/09/2016

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said explains why the first ten days of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah are so special, and what actions we can take to benefit from them.

The life of a Muslim is very special as it is full of opportunities to get closer to Allah ﷻ‎ by doing the various forms of worship that Allah ﷻ loves.  These forms of worship turn the life of a Muslim into a life of righteous action, speech and continuous activity for the benefit and goodness of everyone.  This means that the life of Mu’mins should be devoted to worship, obedience, righteous deeds and absolute connection with Allah ﷻ in every part of their life, and in all their affairs.  They do not need to go to the mosque, in particular, to approach Allah ﷻ, as He is with them all the time, as He said in the Qur’an (Surah Qaf: 16):  “…and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.”
From this we know that our life cannot be cut off from the Mercy of Allah ﷻ.  So, from having this connection, during the five prayers that are spread over twenty-four hours, the special day of jummah once a week, fasting during the month Ramadan once a year, fasting the six days of Shawwal, fasting on Monday and Thursday every week, fasting the three bright days every month, and then, add to this, the ten days of Dhul Hijjah; those days in which every good deed we do, not only are we rewarded, but Allah ﷻ loves good deeds in these days more than any other time of the year.

What is Special About the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah?

The special worship, hajj is particular to these ten days, and Rasulullah ﷺ said if Allah ﷻ accepted the hajj of someone, they go back from their Hajj as a new born baby. Umrah is also performed in these days.  For those who do not go for hajj, they can fast for the first nine days, give charity, and they can do a lot of forms of worship. Ibn Hajr (radiallah anhu) said that “during these ten days you can do all the major forms of worship, but this is not possible to gather in any other set of days.”
So our life and our striving does not stop anywhere, and neither does are ability to get closer to Allah ﷻ.  There is no limit to qurb!
Speaking of having no limit to closeness with Allah ﷻ, Surah Alam Nashrah alludes to the station of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

Did We not expand your breast? – the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is absolutely Rahma (mercy)!

And raised high for you your repute. – Whenever Allah ﷻ is mentioned the name of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is mentioned

And to your Lord direct [your] longing!  Keep striving in your connection with Allah ﷻ as there is no limit to closeness

The Virtues of the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah in the Qur’an and Sunnah

Qur’an

In Surah Fajr (1-2), Allah ﷻ swears by the time of fajr and by the ten days, and for Allah ﷻ to swear by something is to make it great.  Ibn Abbas, ibn Zubayr, Mujahid and others (radiallah anhum) all agree that the mention of the ten days is those first ten days of Dhul Hijjah.
In Surah Al-Hajj (28), Allah ﷻ says:  “…remember the name of Allah ﷻ in the known days…”  ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) mentions that the days referred to in this ayah are the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.

Sunnah

In a Hadith narrated by ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that “The best days that Allah ﷻ loves good deeds the most in are these days, meaning the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.” (Abu Dawud 2438)
And in a Hadith narrated by Syedina Jabir (radiallah anhu), the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:  “[of] the ten best days, the tenth is the day of  sacrifice (Adha), and the uneven numbered day is the day of Arafah, and these are the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”  (Imam Ahmad)
And in another Hadith, Syedina Jabir (Radiallah anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that there are “no days better than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.”  (ibn Hibban 3853)
Ibn Abbas (radiallah anhu) narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:  “the best of deeds to Allah ﷻ, that which He loves and rewards greatly and generously, are those actions performed in the ten days of Dhul Hijjah.  (Sunan al Darimi 1774)
In a Hadith, the Sahaba (radiallah anhum) asked the Messenger of Allah ﷺ if the mujahid could compare to the one who worships in these ten days, to which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ responded that no one can compare to the person who worships in these ten days except for the mujahid who gives away everything he owns and takes what remains with him and leaves it all on the battlefield, including his life.  Only this person can compare to the one who worships in these ten days!

Best Actions for the Ten Days of Dhul Hijjah

1)      Nawafil: try to do as many supererogatory prayers as you can, as it is a mentioned in a Hadith that a person’s station is raised and that bad deeds are erased with each prostration.
2)      Fast as much as you can.  It is mentioned in a hadith, when a companion asked what the best of deeds was, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to fast.
3)      Qiyam ul Layl.  Night prayers should be encouraged in these ten days.  Abdullah ibn Salam (radiallah anhu) mentioned that when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ came to Madinah with all his radiance he mentioned three things to the community:  spread peace, feed people, and pray while others are asleep.  Normally, after such a migration, people would be sceptical and cautions of others, but instead the Messenger of Allah ﷺ summarized the deen upon his arrival in Madinah al Munawarrah.  The great tab’ee Said ibn Jubayr (radiallah anhu) said in the first ten nights of Dhul Hijjah, do not turn off your lights!
4)      Tahlil, Tahmeed, Takbeer:  To repeat La ilaha illallahAlhamdulillah and Allahu Akbar – La ilaha illallah – wAllahu Akbar wa Lillaahi’l-hamd.  Abdullah ibn Omar and Abu Hurrairah (radiallah anhum) were known for reciting takbeer in the market place.  Abdullah ibn Omar (radiallah anhu) would keep reciting his dhikr, and would only return salam in these ten days.
5)      Day of Arafah:  The day of Arafah should be occupied with dua and tawbah.  The life of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ was dua, to remember Allah ﷻ with every action in every moment.

Dua on Day of Arafah of Sayyidina Ali 

In making dua on the day of Arafah, Sayyidina Ali (RA) used to repeat the following dua:

Oh Allah! Free me from the hellfire.

Ya Allah! Grant me abundant halal rizq.

Ya Allah! Keep away from me the disobedient ones, whether they be jinn or human.

Practically, on the day of Arafah, you should try to take off from work if possible, that way you can spend your day in dua.  In addition, sleep directly after isha the night before, and wake up a hour before fajr in order to be present at the time Allah ﷻ loves to accept dua.  Make the intention to make this a different day of Arafah; make it a day that is different from all the rest.
In closing, it is important to remind ourselves of the purpose of our deen, as is stated in Surah Anbiya:  “We did not send you other than to be a Mercy to all the Worlds,” speaking about the Messenger of Allahﷺ.  So we can never stop striving, we must be that mercy.
May Allah ﷻ grant His Mercy and the company of His Mercy ﷺ, and may He make these ten days those of forgiveness and acceptance of our duas.

Intentions For After Ramadan – Habib Umar bin Hafiz

What intentions should we make for after Ramadan?

 

We intend to be among those whose entire year is Ramadan

We intend that our connection with Allah is expressed in our actions throughout the day and the night

We intend to serve the Ummah in the best way by focusing on the Three Objectives (knowledge, devotion and service)

We intend to seek the pleasure of Allah and to make His Messenger ﷺ happy in all that we do

We intend to attain an increase in presence of heart with Allah at all times but especially during the prayer and recitation of the Quran and the adhkar

We intend to establish gatherings with our brothers and sisters who we love for Allah’s sake

We intend to fast the Six Days of Shawwal and other blessed days such as Tāsūā’ and Ashura (9th and 10th Muharram) and the Day of Arafah and at least three days in every month

 

* Courtesy of Muwasala.org

Post-Ramadan Renewal: 5 Lessons to Live By – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

* Originally Published on 24/06/2017

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani shares some key advice from the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on how to keep the spirit of renewal post-Ramadan.

Farewell Ode to Ramadan – Hafith Abdullah Francis

* Originally Published on 3/07/2016

Hafith Abdullah recites odes of farewell to Ramadan after the Tarawih prayers, in the Cape Malay tradition. He concludes with supplications asking for God’s mercy, forgiveness and His emancipation from the hellfire.

The Impact and Fruits of Worship in Ramadan and Beyond – Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said

Originally Published on 15/06/2017

In this Friday sermon, Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said calls us to make the most of what is left of Ramadan. He provides key advice on how to engage in worship that impacts and reflects on us positively. The impactful and fruitful worship he talks about is one that rectifies our character, and lasts beyond Ramadan. Shaykh Faid gives multiple examples of worship with lasting impact through multiple stories of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him and his folk).

* This Friday sermon was delivered at Jame Masjid Mississauga (Coopers Masjid), on June 9th, 2017. With special thanks to Ustadh Nazim Baksh for providing the recording of the sermon.

Finishing Ramadan Strong – Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

* Originally Published on 5/06/2018

In this reminder, Ustadh Amjad Tarsin gives advice on how to take advantage of the last ten nights and days of Ramadan. He discusses their virtue, the value of seeking Laylatu ‘l-Qadr, and the example of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in reviving these last ten nights. He compares Ramadan to a marathon and urges us not to give up and to put in every last bit of effort even if we won’t get first place. Ustadh Amjad highlights the spiritual magnitude of these last ten nights and particularly of Laylatu ‘l-Qadr, within which, he says, an action is multiplied 30,000 fold. He stresses encouraging one’s family to perform night devotion, even if a little, just as one would be avid for them to claim a million-dollar prize. He closes emphasizing the importance of even small acts of worship to make the most of what’s left of the month.

 

On That Mid Ramadan Slump – Ustadh Salman Younas

Originally Published: 22/06/2016

With half of Ramadan gone, does your worship feel routine and stale? Is feeling this way making you lazier and less excited about performing more acts of worship? Ustadh Salman Younas says this is not uncommon.

This is a challenge that every one of us faces when it comes to our acts of worship. As humans, we have been created weak and part of this weakness are the fluctuations we experience in our states. Sometimes we feel good, excited, and spiritually high; other times we feel stale, lazy, and lacking in presence. Ramadan is no exception when it comes to this.
Before giving you specific advice, the first thing you need to recognize is that feelings are ultimately inconsequential. We worship because we believe God is worthy of worship. Whether it makes us feel good or excited is not the main focus. However, since these feelings become impediments to worship itself for most people, it is important to take some concrete steps in overcoming them when possible.
In this noble month, I would advise you to do the following to reignite the spark:

1. Renew Intentions & Seek God’s Aid

This may sound obvious but it is not so for many people. When we begin to wane in our worship and do not feel the same presence we used to, it is a good time to pause, analyze one’s intention, and turn to God in assistance. Often times, these states are sent precisely as a test to see whether we try to lift ourselves up, turn to Him, and continue striving to do our best. So, perform ablution, pray two cycles, and renew your intention to be in the worship of God to the best of your ability.

2. Don’t Miss Suhur

This is one of the first actions that people stop doing as Ramadan progresses. But suhur is not simply done to keep us somewhat satiated for the long day ahead. Rather, it is a spiritual act which when done the right way with the right intention fills one’s day with blessing (baraka). As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “Partake in suhur for indeed there is blessing in it.” [Bukhari, Muslim] Force yourself to wake up with some time to spare, eat a healthy breakfast, and engage in some worship – no matter how little – before Fajr. When you start your day in a blessed manner, chances are that it will continue in that manner.

3. Freshen Up & Dress Well

If you’re at home, don’t lounge around in your nighties. This is almost asking to be lazy and unproductive. Stay fresh by taking a shower (ghusl) or at the least remaining on ablution (wudu’), keep yourself well-groomed, and dress well. Studies show that clothing can systematically influence an individual’s psychological processes and effect productivity. Additionally, taking care of one’s appearance is part of the sunna.

4. Change Up Your Worship

Often times, breaking out of a stale state requires modifications to one’s daily habits. If you are not finding presence in your supererogatory prayer (nawafil), try to replace some of it with Qur’an or dhikr. Perhaps introduce some reading of tafsir or listening to a lecture by a scholar you enjoy. If you worship mostly at home, visit the masjid for spiritual upliftment; if you do dhikr in your room, go out for a quiet walk with your misbaha (prayer beads); if you usually pray by yourself at home, start praying with other family members.

5. Be Diplomatic & Balanced

The self (nafs) is not an easy thing to tame. Sometimes, we need to approach it diplomatically. Demand worship from it but let it breath a little a bit too. If it wants to check Facebook or Twitter or relax for a bit, then do so in moderation but make sure you tell it to read some Qur’an or perform a few cycles of prayer after. As one of my teachers said, “Give your nafs what it wants from the halal and then take from it what you want from good actions and worship.” This will hopefully ensure that you don’t burn out. As the Prophet (God bless him) said, “This religion is ease and none makes it difficult except that it will overwhelm him. So, perform your deeds properly and in moderation…” [Bukhari]

6. Good Company & Collective Worship

There is a reason why the larger community is so stressed upon in our tradition. Believers feed off each others’ states and push each other towards something higher than themselves. They uplift each other and provide motivation to engage in the good. The mosque is an obvious place to meet others and engage in collective worship, but so is your home. Keep the Ramadan excitement going in your household by making the family have iftar together, praying together, watching your favorite lectures, going to talks/events, and visiting/inviting people over for iftar. The same can be done with your friends.
While there are a number of other points that can be mentioned, the most important thing is to keep at it. Do not give up on your worship simply because you are not feeling it anymore. Rather, try your best and recognize that worship transcends the temporal feelings that we may experience. These ups and downs are part of the test that God has laid out for us to see who among us “will excel in good deeds.” (11;7) Hopefully, by following some of the above points, the excitement of worship will be reignited. That is what we require at this point: a little spark that we can capitalize on so as to fully benefit from this month.
And God alone gives success.

The Point of Worship in Ramadan – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this timely reminder, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us that our acts of worship in Ramadan are means to an end – seeking Allah Most High. He uses the Qur’anic verses on fasting to show us the objectives of such works of worship. Furthermore, he urges us to find our purpose in our devotional acts by seeing them as a means to seek our Lord.

*This video was recorded on  May 15, 2018.