Start your Ramadan guilt free! [Message from Dr Tawfique Chowdhury]

As-salâmu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullâhi wa barakâtuhu

My dear friends, students, patrons, supporters, brothers and sisters in faith.

My deepest love and respects to you and your beloved ones on the advent of Ramadan. Like the other 1.5 billion Muslims on this earth, I am sure we cannot wait to start fasting daily and enjoying the blessings of prayer and the Quran in this month. Many positive feelings overtake us this month: excitement, happiness, anticipation of blessings and reward, joy upon meeting family and friends regularly and the delight of amazing delicacies on the iftar table!

However for many of us, it is the negative emotions that predominate at the start of this month: fear of yet another unsuccessful Ramadan, apprehension and guilt. We start this month of Ramadan feeling guilty for being away from Allah for so long; for not having read the Quran this year until now; of not having prayed any tahajjud prayer until now; of not having fasting throughout the year – except for now. This guilty feeling leads to a lot of negativity in our approach to this month and perhaps to the lack of optimism in retrying those special attempts we had made before to read the whole Quran or to pray taraweeh and tahajjud every night or some other good deed in Ramadan. In fact for so many of us, guilt takes us away from Allah and makes us feel inferior and sometimes cripples us to lesser levels of aspiration and success. “What can this poor slave of Allah achieve anyway, when he is so engrossed in sins having done so many evil deeds?” For many – the thought of what we have done in the past – cripples us to what we can do in the future.

However, I would like to ask you all to approach this Ramadan guilt free! Free of guilt of the past. Why worry about something you can’t change? It is not the past that should worry us or bother us, rather what could happen in the future. The past is the past – we can’t change the sins we have done in the past – so to constantly focus on that for the vast majority of us – is far more crippling for the future than anything else. The prophetic guidance is to regret the past sins and missed opportunities, whilst fearing the future possible sins and being weary of missing future opportunities.

It is as Ibnul-Qayyium said in AnNooniyyah: “By Allah, I don’t fear my past sins, since I have sincerely repented to Allah and Allah loves to forgive.However, what I truly fear is that in the future this heart of mine will cease to rule by this Quran and this revelation.”

Remember that Allah is AlWadud – the loving God – He is the one who loves you more than your own parents! Have you not heard how Sufyan atThawri said: “I would rather that Allah judges me on the Day of Judgement rather than my own parents, for indeed I know that Allah loves me more than my own parents!” [Reported in Hilyatul-Awliyaa] So overpowering is Allah’s mercy that it has transcended His anger. So wide is His Mercy that the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “If the disbeliever knew of the extent of the Mercy of Allah, then none would have despaired of entering His Paradise!” [Reported by Muslim] And plus, what past sins, when your sincere repentance with Allah’s Mercy would have wiped it away and replaced it with equivalent good deeds: “Except those who repent, believe and do righteous deeds – they are the ones who Allah will turn their bad deeds into good deeds. And indeed Allah is most Forgiving most Merciful.” [AlFurqan 25:70]

My friends, how do you dare to think that Allah does not love you when He says so clearly in the Quran: “Allah has not forgotten you, nor does he hate you!” [AdDuha 93:3] If He hated you, why did He keep you alive till another Ramadan? If He hated you, why does he provide for you even when you disobey Him? If He did not love you, why is He allowing you to taste the sweetness of loving Him this month by fasting and praying? If He didn’t love you, why did He keep you upon Islam?

So come back to AlWadud – your loving Lord – the one who loves you more than anything else. He is waiting for you and is more happy with you remembering Him than you can imagine. If you come to Him today, He will rush to you. If you remember Him, He will remember you. If you talk about Him, He will talk about you to those with Him. If you say sorry O Allah, He will forgive you and turn them into good.

So start your Ramadan guilt free and enjoy a month of renewed emaan and focus on the good that you can do this month. Learn from the past, but focus on the future! It is truly as the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said: “Verily actions are judged by their endings.”

With all my love and prayer for your success in this month

PS Please forward to your friends and family

Your brother,

Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury
Director General
Mercy Mission World
http://www.mercymissionworld.org

Five ways to make this Ramadan extraordinary

Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

My dear friends and students,

Welcome to our long-lost friend: Ramadan. How we have missed the days of self-restraint and the nights of mercy and delight! After eleven months of sinning, we now have the opportunity to avail ourselves of a month of mercy and forgiveness. For those whose duas have not been answered, the month of answered duas has arrived. For those who have drifted away from the soothing night prayer, or who have never achieved it, the month of the blessed taraweeh has arrived. Welcome to our Lord?s mercy: the month of Ramadan. No doubt each and every one of us approaches Ramadan with a special excitement. Alas for many of us, however: the excitement is met with fear and dread instead.

Will this Ramadan be like the previous ones where I failed to truly take full advantage and mend my ways?

Will this Ramadan only demonstrate to me how far away from Allah I truly am?

Will it be yet another month that passes by without my taking full advantage of it?

If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone. Many of us feel this way and do not know how to tackle it. As a result, the fear and dread are enough for us to avoid setting new goals and higher aspirations for this month. As a result, we find ourselves at the end of the month in the situation of having failed to benefit from this opportunity and languishing in sorrow at the thought that we will never improve.

I too used to get these whispers and thoughts in my mind. However, I overcame these thoughts with the help of Allah. Here are five things that I have done to tackle these “Ramadan blues”. Let me share them with you; perhaps the suggestions may benefit you, and help you to overlook the past and focus on the future.

1) Good thoughts about Allah: I remind myself that my Lord is most Generous and Kind. He loves me sincerely. The proof is that even when I disobey Him He still provides for me. That is why He is giving me yet another Ramadan: yet another opportunity to get closer to Him again. He loves to forgive, and His best friends are those who seek His forgiveness the most. He has brought me to another Ramadan so that I can have yet another chance at Laylatul Qadr, and yet another chance to make my duas accepted at the time of iftar, and yet another chance to do Hajj with Rasul-Allah (sall-Allahu ?alaihi wa sallam) by doing umrah in this month. He has brought me to Ramadan to sooth the sorrows in my heart with His remembrance, and for me to be reminded of the nights in my grave by the solitude of i?tikaaf: by seeing how it feels to be alone with Him in the mosque. He wants me to lighten the load on my mind, so that is why He has given me the month of the Qur?an: so that I can relive the amazing Word of my Rabb (Lord and Master). The salaf (pious predecessors) would beg Allah for another opportunity for Ramadan, so how fortunate I am that He has given me this chance once again. How fortunate I am that He has given me the chance to know when this month is, so that I can take advantage of it. How fortunate I am that He has given me the yearning in my heart to meet my Lord in this month – and I know that the one who loves to meet His Lord, Allah subhaanahu wa ta?ala also loves to meet him.

2) Forget the past and focus on the future: I remind myself that past deeds are just that: a matter of the past. I live for the future, not the past. The past will be forgiven insha?Allah if I can mend the future. My concern should be the next deed that I do, because Allah loves to forgive; so I can have every confidence that He will forgive the past because I have nothing but regret for my past sins. The most important consideration for me is what sort of amends I make now. I remind myself of what Imam Ibnul-Qayyim (rahimahu-Allah) said in his Nooniyyah:

By Allah I am not afraid of my past sins,
For indeed they are upon the path of repentance and forgiveness;
Rather my real concern is that [in the next deed] this heart
Might cease to act upon revelation and upon the noble Qur?an.

3) Evaluate previous attempts in order to plan a strategy to make it work this time: I remember that it is illogical to think that my future chances of success are a reflection of my failures in the past. My past inabilities only show me what to do better this time so that I can increase my chances this time around. So if I tried to pray taraweeh every night but failed, I should look back at what happened in order to learn lessons from those failures. Was it that the Imam?s recitation was not good? If so, then let me try to find a mosque to go to whose Imam recites better. If I failed to complete reciting the whole Qur?an last year, let me look at why that was the case and how I can change it. Can I put up reminders to read the Qur?an, or shall I buy a few more copies of the Qur?an and put them in more convenient places, such as one in my car, another in my briefcase and another on my table, so that I have a mushaf always on hand? If I missed getting up for fajr last Ramadan, why did it happen and how can I change it? Perhaps I should buy more alarm clocks, so let me go to the store right now. Perhaps I should SMS my friends to start a fajr prayer-calling group so that each day one of us is responsible for waking the others up. Perhaps I should make my suhur my heaviest meal so that my body feels hungry at suhur-time and so I get up more easily.

4) Reward, challenge and penalise myself: I can plan and prepare to reward myself if I finish this Ramadan satisfactorily. So I tell myself that if I can make myself pray all my prayers at the earliest time this Ramadan and recite the Qur?an five times this month, then I will buy myself a new laptop; if I can recite it ten times then I will go away with my family for a holiday, or some other significant reward that I know I would definitely like to treat myself with. I warn myself that if I fail to at least recite the Qur?an five times in this month, then I will donate a thousand dollars to charity. I remind myself that even Allah?s Messenger sall-Allahu ?alaihi wa sallam used to give worldly rewards to those who excelled in battle: e.g. half the war-booty from the raids to the Muslim knights who had taken part in the raid; he (saw) would consider it a great sin upon the one who fails to join the obligatory battle. In the same spirit of reward, challenge and penalty, I would do this for my children and my wife as well by helping them with a reward if they do something extraordinary this month, and a penalty if they did not even do the minimum extra level. In this way I can give them an added incentive to do good in this limited time of Ramadan. I remind myself that ultimately we must do it for Allah and never for a physical prize, but associating an emotional desire with an action and fear of a punishment at the non-performance of it will cause that action to be foremost in the subconscious part of my mind. I remind myself that the worst thing about not making this Ramadan special is going to be something worse than the penalty I have stipulated. It will be the disappointment of a Ramadan wasted, and the risk of Allah?s wrath.

5) Create peer-pressure and responsibility: I remind myself that if I make my friends and family aware of some of my goals, then they might help me. So I share some of my goals with them, ensuring that I am doing it to engage their help in performing it, not in a spirit of boasting. I hope that this will give me added support and encouragement to ensure that they help me in achieving the good things I have set out to do. If they do not help, at the very least they should not mind when I excuse myself from their service or company in order to spend some time on working towards my goal.

I hope that some or all of these things will help you to look upon this Ramadan with a fresh outlook. Make lots of dua to Allah that this Ramadan will be special for you, for your family, and for the Ummah of our beloved sall-Allahu ?alaihi wa sallam. I am interested in hearing from you if you have other things that you do to focus positively at the advent of another Ramadan.

Jazaakumullahulkhair and my duas for you and your family for a fantastic and blessed Ramadan, insha?Allah;

wassalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Tawfique Chowdhury
Director General
AlKauthar Institute and Mercy Mission World

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A request from Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury

As-Salaamu-Alaikum Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I Pray you are all well and in high emaan?.

One of our brothers in Canada, who accepted Islam from hinduism whilst studying in Canada has requested for some help with clearing his student loan.

After accepting Islam his family has ostracised him and although he is working to try and clear his debt (Can $10K), he just makes enough to pay for his rent and other living expenses and just about manages to pay the interest amount of the loan, which is due by end of May 2009. If he fails to pay by then it will end up with the Debt Collectors which will have adverse effects on his student?s visa and also his permanent residency application which is currently under process.

Please dig deep into your pockets and let us try to help our brother in Islam by giving some of our Zakat to him isA. Sheikh has requested us to raise £5K for this cause.

Please let me know if you are able to contribute anything and JazakumAllah U Khair in advance for your generosity. May Allah subhanawatala ease your burdens in this life and the hereafter and add this kind gesture on to your scales of good deeds?Ameen?

Ma?Salaam

Arifa Parkar

PA to Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury

Director, Mercy Mission & AlKauthar Institute

www.mercymission.org.au

www.alkauthar.org

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Eid mubarak & how to know if your Ramadan has been accepted

Assalamualaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Eid Mubarak! May Allah the great accept from us and you! You have fasted and prayed and wept and begged Allah the Great and now is your time to rejoice as His mercy and forgiveness envelopes the Universe. May Allah shower you and your family with His choicest rewards and please you on the Day you meet Him just as you are pleased today.

A lot of people ask the question: How do I know if Allah has accepted my Ramadan? How do I know that my deeds were not rejected, but accepted and written in my scale of good deeds? And you too must ask this question, since Ali radiallahu anhu said:

â??Do not be so concerned about the number of deeds as the acceptance of it. Do you not remember what Allah the great said? (Verily Allah only accepts from the pious) [AlMaâ??idah: 27]â?

The answer to that, is simply: That your relationship with Allah after Ramadan is better than your relationship with Him before Ramadan. That you feel and act closer to Allah in Shawwal than you did in Shabaan. This strengthening of your relationship with Allah, is a feeling of the heart as well as from the action of the limbs.

The feeling of the heart, is that you see Allahâ??s signs in creation, and feel His authority and mercy and blessings in your life and thus draw nearer to Him by constant remembrance of Him. Ibnul Qayyim rahimahullah said:

â??The more that you witness the magnificence of His Lordship and the meagerness of our servitude to Him, and the more you learn about Allah and His greatness and about your soul and its meagerness, it will become manifestly clear to you that that which you have put forward from your offerings is not the least bit suitable for the Lord of Truth, even if you were to offer the deeds of all of Mankind and Jinn together. As a result, you would be full of fear how your measly offerings would ever be acceptable to Him. However, it is out of His honour and nobleness and graciousness that He accepts it. On top of that, He even rewards you for it, by His grace, nobleness and honour!â? [Madarij As-Salikeen (2/439)]

Glory be to Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful!

And that you draw closer to Him through your actions. That you feel the need to turn to prayer so you resolve to pray at the earliest time, that your heart wants to come back to the mosque so you make every attempt to pray in congregration, to open the Quran even on the day of Eid or start memorizing â?? so you make every effort to read it frequently, that you desire and miss the taraweeh and so make the resolve to continue to pray tahajjud and that you miss the fasts, so you resolve to do the 6 days of Shawwal. Then you remember the hadeeth of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wa sallam:

â??If the Prophet used to do any action, then he used to stick to it (i.e. make it a habit).â? [Reported by Muslim]

Based on this, you resolve to make good habits out of the bootcamp that Ramadan provided so that good deeds become second nature to you.

Remember, if you want to get that special Ramadan feeling in your heart again, then take a path to gaining knowledge.

â??Whoever Allah wants good for, then He gives him the fiqh of this religion.â? [Reported by AlBukhari]

This is the surest sign that Allah accepted your Ramadan, that after it, you are more knowledgeable about Islam than you were before it. Islamic knowledge is now more accessible to you than ever before. So, make every effort to attend courses, read books and listen to lectures so that you draw closer to Allah every day. There is an AlKauthar course in your city, just around the corner, so make sure you attend it. Once you have gained that knowledge, then act upon it by calling to Allah through all those projects that are working on helping Allah deen. Mercy Mission has a project that you can get involved in or help you to launch your own.

Lastly, I hope to see you all soon in an event near you. Glory be to Allah that He has given us life until the end of this Ramadan, may Allah give us all the opportunity to see the next Ramadan and protect you and your families and all Muslims till then. Ameen.

Yours sincerely,

Tawfique Chowdhury
Director


AlKauthar Institute and Mercy Mission
www.alkauthar.org | www.mercymission.org.au | www.mercymission.org.uk