Ramadan Reflection Day 1: Manners, Manners, Manners

The last few months have solidified one concept for me: we are more in need of good manners than a little bit of knowledge. Don’t get me wrong here – the need for knowledge is immense. I pray that we continue to learn that which is beneficial to society as a whole until the day we die. However, people tend not to listen to those who are rude and condescending even if they are knowledgeable. This is amplified for those who speak on behalf of religion.

Ramadan is a month of reflection and looking at ourselves. We want to improve ourselves for the upcoming year and benefit our akhirah. It is relatively ‘simple’ (I use this term loosely) to fast and pray in this age of air conditioning and summer vacations where we can sleep the hot day away and stay up the short nights. The real challenge comes into how you act when you are hungry and someone annoys or angers you. When things don’t go according to your plan. When you are running late to an important meeting. When you meet someone new and when you see someone you haven’t seen in a while. When dealing with your family. When just frustrated about something in general and taking it out out on the first person who comes by.

Anas radhiaAllahu ‘anhu, said, “I served RasulAllah, sal Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me as much as ‘Oof’ if I did something wrong. He never asked me, if I had failed to do something, ‘Why did you not do it?,’ and he never said to me, if I had done something wrong, ‘Why did you do it?” [Bukhari]

Anas ibn Malik was with the Rasool for a decade. Think about that for a second. He watched his actions during the good times and the bad. He watched him deal with his family. He watched him interact with the general public. He saw him interact with those whom he had just met and those whom he had known for ages. He observed him while he was fasting and when he was not. He pretty much saw it all. Yet could not recall a time when the Rasool took out any sort of frustration upon him.

For many of us, a person just needs to watch us for an hour to see the anger come out. And what about when fasting? Shaykh Ibrahim, during Jummah a few weeks ago, mentioned how we all know a person (or may be that person!) who is the one to avoid while fasting. Br. or Sr. Bad Mood While Hungry. Hangry. Stay away or else you will suffer his or her wrath. After iftar? All is back to normal. SubhanAllah, what a backwards concept. How different it is from our righteous predecessors.

We should be more aware of our actions while fasting than any other time. It should be a training ground, not just physically or spiritually, but for our interactions with others. We hear all the time about the physical acts – which shouldn’t be ignored! – but too quickly set aside our adaab. I hope that this Ramadan is a reflection upon our manners. We can attain a lot of other things, both in our deen and dunya, but without proper akhlaaq, they will be useless.

Ramadan Reflection Day 11: Jealousy

Social media has its benefits and its negatives. One of those negatives happens to be the fact it is a breeding ground for jealousy. It happens to all of us – you see an accomplishment or a picture of a life update which just happens to release a twinge in your heart. If he/she has this, why can’t I?

One of the best reminders I ever heard on the topic of jealousy is remembering this: when ever you feel jealous, when you think why does someone have something you don’t, remember that you are in fact questioning Allah swt’s will for blessing that person with whatever it may be. That is an extremely scary thought. Allah swt has given us so much to begin with and jealousy makes us forget what we do have and focus on what we don’t have. Jealousy also almost takes us into the realm of kufr, questioning Allah swt’s Divine Wisdom. May Allah swt protect us.

Remember that people tend to post the highlights of their life on social media. Yes, God may have blessed that person immensely but you’re not seeing the struggles he or she may go through on a daily basis to be where they are today. It’s very easy to sit behind a computer or phone screen and judge. It could be that the same blessing, in your hands, would have led you astray. It could be that the same blessing is in fact a test for that person which you could not have handled.

In the blessed days of Ramadan, the following hadith is extremely relevant: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Envy consumes good deeds just as fire burns wood. Charity extinguishes sinful deeds just as water extinguishes fire. Prayer is the light of the believer and fasting is his shield from the Hellfire.” [ibn Majah]

Don’t allow envy and jealousy – during Ramadan and the upcoming year – to extinguish the deeds of praying, fasting, and charity that you so painstakingly racked up. In the end, the person who will most greatly benefit or be afflicted from the jealousy in your heart is you. Don’t allow the fire to consume you.

Ramadan Reflection Day 8: Du’aa

‘Nothing could change Qadr except Du’aa.’ [Musnad of Imam Ahmad]

Does it ever feel like something is impossible? That you can’t accomplish it? Or that it just won’t happen? I can’t help thinking these things sometimes. When we get so sucked in by our narrow perspective of what we are capable of, we forget the ability and power of the all Capable, AlQadeer.

It’s been said over and over that Ramadan is the month in which du’aas are answered. The du’aa of a fasting person is answered. The du’aa at qiyaam is answered. The du’aa at a time on Jummah is answered. So what’s stopping us from taking advantage? Why not ask for every single thing we wish for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to bless us with? Those things that look impossible to us? God can make them possible. All we need to do is *ask* Him.

If you haven’t already made a du’aa list, make one now. There is still more than half the month left, inshaAllah. Make a list of things you want in the dunya and in the akhirah. Include yourself, your family and friends. Keep it with you – on a paper, on your phone, tablet, laptop, etc, and pull it out when breaking your fast, after salah, even when looking for a form of ‘ibaadah during some down time.

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Du’aa benefits in the things that have happened as well as the things that have not happened yet. The calamity comes down, but the Du’aa confronts it and they may continuously wrestle until the Day of Resurrection.” [Reported by AlHakim]

If the sea parted for Musa, the fire cooled for Ibrahim, Yaqoob was reunited after years with Yusuf, Ayyub was granted a full recovery from his sickness, and the angels joined the ranks at the battle of Badr, what is stopping us from at least asking? If we claim to believe these stories and have full faith in them, the least we can do is have full faith in our sincere supplications. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala promises that He never leaves His slave empty handed. So what is there to lose?

Ramadan Reflection Day 1: Off-Duty Problems.

It’s the typical Moslem-Girl-Problem-in-Ramadan. You can’t fast. Or pray. So you’re all bummed out. Because you won’t be eating suhoor or iftar with your family or praying taraweeh with the community.

But here’s the deal. We always look at the things we can’t have or can’t do and forget about what we CAN do or CAN have. Out of all the things you can do in Ramadan, for the few days you are on your period, you can’t fast, pray, or read Qur’an while directly touching the mus’haf. That’s a grand total of *drum roll* 3 things.

Guess what? Everything else is still available to you. Shocking, isn’t it? Do your dhikr, read Qur’an in another manner, read tafsir, listen to lectures, give sadaqah, volunteer in the mosque, help make food for someone’s iftar or suhoor, getting up at qiyaam time for du’aa, du’aa in general, etc. There is no need to slow down in any way.

This is a reflection not just for Ramadan and your favourite little period, but for life. Just because you can’t do A or B doesn’t mean the rest of the alphabet is also off-limits. Even in Islam, for all the things that are forbidden, there are exponentially more things which are permissible. Don’t let shaytaan (or in this month – your nafs) get to you and have you miss out on all the other forms of khayr there is.