Imam Tahir Anwar’s 5 Simple Ways to Prepare for Ramadan

Assalamu ‘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. Amin.

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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Friday Khutbah (07 August 2009): Transcript: Ramadan: The month of Quran by Imam Al-Haramain Sa?ud ash-Shuraim

Friday Khutbah (07 August 2009): Transcript: Ramadan: The month of Quran by Imam Al-Haramain Sa?ud ash-Shuraim

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon His Messenger, his household and companions.

Fellow Muslims! I implore myself and you all to fear Allah; this honours the soul and brings it close to its Lord. No God-fearing person will ever fail and anyone who disregards the importance of piety will never be successful.

Dear Muslims! Whoever observes the condition of people in light of the current trials, tribulations and calamities that are occurring all over the world will see that the Muslims are in dire need of a generous guest that brings with it relief and progress. They are in need of this grand guest with whom they hope to be strengthened after a series of indescribable calamities and weakening incidents; hence their need for this great month of tranquility and spiritual development. It is the month of self-examination, conscience reawakening and freedom from selfishness and lustful desires. Allah says that which translates as:

?O you who have believed! Decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous.?
—  (Surah Al Baqarah 2:183)

Fellow Muslims! The month of Ramadan is the month of the Quran; a Book whose light will never fade and which is a path that never leads one astray. The Glorious Quran is to man as the soul is to the body; it is a light for guidance. Whoever does not read the Quran or put its injunctions into practice is dead, despite the fact that they may speak and move. Whoever does not put it into practice has gone far astray even if they are apparently successful in all areas of life. Allah says that which translates as:

?Is one who is dead and We gave him life and made for him light by which to walk among the people like one who is in darkness, never to emerge therefrom??
— (Surah Al An?am 6:122)

A human being without the guidance of the Quran is like any living being without air or water; all their endeavors will end up in bankruptcy. Allah says that which translates as:

?Say: ?It is for those who believe, a guidance and a cure? And those who do not believe ? in their ears is deafness, and it (i.e. the Quran) is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place.?
— (Surah Fussilat 41:44)

Fellow Muslims! There is no doubt that the relationship of many Muslims with the Quran is one of abandonment of either its recitation or implementation of its injunctions. It is no exaggeration to say that the diseases of past nations have affected the Muslims, while they are unaware of this. Allah says that which translates as:

?And there are among them unlettered people who do not know not the Scripture except (indulgement in) wishful thinking, but they are only assuming.?
— (Surah Al Baqarah 2:78)

The scholars of Tafsir say about this verse: ?It means: they know nothing about the Book except for its recitation, for it never passed their lungs and throats. This is because of the fact that there was a spiritual absence in their recitation and therefore, they were unable to ponder over its meanings?.

Among the causes of the absence of reflection on the meanings of the Quran is the failure to explore and understand the laws of Allah in relation to human-beings and natural phenomena. Also to blame is the sanctification of erroneous concepts and wrong interpretations of life that have become widespread among people and which are caused by unrestrained love for this world and the hatred of death. Ziyad Ibn Labid Al-Ansari, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam mentioned something and then said:

?? and that is when there will be no more knowledge.? We said, ?O Messenger of Allah! How will knowledge disappear while we have the Quran with us and we teach it to our children and while they will also teach it to theirs?? The Prophet sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam retorted: ?I thought you were one of the most knowledgeable of the people of Madinah! Are there not Jews and Christians who have their scriptures with them and yet they take no benefit from what is inside them??
— (At-Tirmidhi and others)

One is stricken with grief and shock when they see the stance that many Muslims have adopted with regard to the Book of their Lord. They have been covered by darkness and wander aimlessly; the foreign systems and ideologies that they have embraced have done nothing for them. How can it be that we have the light and yet follow the paths of other nations?

The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam lived for sixty-three years; we are used to believing that old age and the vicissitudes of life cause hair to turn grey. What then will you think of a man who attributed grey hair to some verses of the glorious Quran that he used to recite? Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, asked the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam about what caused some of his beard to become grey, he sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam replied: ?It was caused by Surah Hud, Surah Al-Waqi?ah, Surah An-Naba? and Surah At-Takwir.?
— (At-Tirmidhi)

Brothers in faith! The blessed month of Ramadan should be regarded as a wonderful opportunity for every Muslim to save himself from destruction and to purify their soul in preparation for the Quranic guidance that is inherent in night prayer. Allah says that which translates as:

?Indeed, the hours of the night (i.e. the rising for Tahajjud prayer) are more effective for concurrence (of heart and tongue) and more suitable for words (i.e. for recitation of the Quran and for hearing and understanding it).?
— (Surah Al Muzzammil 73:6)

Brothers in faith! The blessed month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for the Muslims to wake up for night prayers, seek refuge with Allah and turn to Him for their needs, for none has the power to answer their call except Allah alone. The Lord descends to the nearest heaven, in a way that befits his majesty, in the last third of the night and asks: ?Is there anyone who seeks My forgiveness so that I can forgive him?? Do any of us ever reflect upon and appreciate this great period which is one of those in which supplications are answered? Tell me, what are the people doing in this last part of the night? Many a miserable soul missed this blessed period! Many people are in deep slumber at this time. It is saddening that some of those who are negligent of this great period are however, ready to go anywhere where they can lodge their complaints and seek solutions to their problems ? from their fellow human beings, forgetting that it is only Allah who is capable of removing sorrow and distress. He says that which translates as:

?What is (the matter) with you that you do not attribute to Allah (due) grandeur while He has created you in stages??
— (Surah Nuh 71:13-14)

Imam Tirmidhi reported that the Prophet of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam said:

?There are three persons whose supplications are never rejected: The just leader, the fasting person when he breaks his fast and the oppressed when he supplicates and whose supplication is raised above the clouds and the gates of heaven are opened for it and Allah will say, ?By My Glory! I shall assist you even if it is after a while.??

Brothers in faith! There are however, some people who raise their hands in prayer and are impatient for a rapid answer; they may even feel despair if their supplications are not speedily answered. The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam said:

?Allah will answer the supplication of any one of you as long as he is not hasty and says: ?I called my Lord and He did not answer.??

The delay may also be caused by sins such as the failure to uphold the rights of kinship, or perhaps it may be due to the fact that the prayer emanated only from the tongue and was not rooted in the heart. The Prophet sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam said: ?Allah does not accept the supplications from an inattentive heart.? The heart is not free from turning to the desires of this life and we all know that one who always looks back does not reach his goal in time.

Therefore, I implore you O Muslims, to make plentiful supplications to Allah, for supplication is the essence of worship. Let nobody slight their requirements however great or small they may be. Allah says that which translates as:

?And your Lord says: ?Call upon Me; I will respond to you.? Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell (rendered) contemptible.?
— (Surah Ghafir 40:60)

Here is an example for those in sorrow and distress: The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam entered the mosque one day and saw an Ansari (a resident of Madinah) man there by the name of Abu Umamah. The Prophet sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam asked him,

?O Abu Umamah, why are you sitting in the mosque at a time that is not a prayer time?? He replied: ?I was forced to do so by sorrow and debt.? The Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam then asked: ?Shall I teach you a supplication by which Allah will remove your sorrow and pay for you your debts?? He answered: ?O yes, Messenger of Allah!? The Prophet sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam then said: ?Say every morning and evening: Allahumma inni a?udhu bikka minal-hammi wal hazan, wa a?udhu bika minal-?ajzi wal-kasal wa a?udhu bika minal-jubni wal-bukhul wa a?udhu bika min ghalabatid-dayn wa qahrir-rijal.? (Meaning: O Allah, I seek refuge with You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being over powered by men.) Abu Umamah said: ?I did that and Allah removed my distress and paid for me my debt.?
— (Abu Dawud)

Fellow Muslims! The month of Ramadan is a month of generosity and spending in ways that are virtuous. Let every Muslim take part in the generosity of this month and not hesitate to wipe the tears off the faces of orphans, widows and the destitute. Let everyone keep away from stinginess and covetousness for these are two of the bad qualities from which the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam sought refuge with his Lord from. The Prophet sallallahu ?alaihi wa sallam was the most generous of mankind and his generosity multiplied during the month of Ramadan. He would never say ?no? when he was asked of anything.

Further, the benefits of charity are not restricted to the beneficiary; the donor also has a share. An example of this is when a generous person gives in charity, their heart becomes gladdened and they become pleased with that. Therefore, this person will be encouraged to give more and gain extra rewards. As for the miser, whenever he thinks of giving in charity his heart feels constrained; he feels as if he is giving away a chunk of his life!, this in turn leads to his whole life feeling constrained. However, nothing destroys the tricks and insinuations of Satan more than giving sincerely in charity. Allah says that which translates as:

?Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is All-Encompassing and Knowing.?
— (Surah Al Baqarah 2:268)

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Life after Ramadaan

by Imâm al-Madîna al-Munawarrah â??Abdul Muhsin Ibn Muhammad al-Qâsim

All praise is due to Allaah. We thank Him, we seek for His help and forgiveness. We also seek His refuge against the evils of our souls and that of our deeds. Whoever Allaah guides, nobody can mislead him, and whoever He misleads will never have no guide. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May He bestow Peace and blessing upon this noble Prophet, his family and companions.

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah as He should be feared for, the fear of Allaah is the best treasure for you.

Dear Muslims! Months, days and years are made to determine lifespan and to afford people the oppurtunity to perform good deeds. Further, death do patrol day and night to take the souls of those whose time is due and you shall be addressed on the Day of Ressurection on account of your deeds. It is then that your Lord will say:

“These are only your deeds that has been recorded for you and for which I am going to reward you. So, whoever gets a good reward should be thankful to Allaah and whoever gets otherwise should only blame himself.”

Dear brothers! Your month of Ramadan has now gone with your deeds. Let those who have committed wrong among you quickly repent and mend their ways before Door of Repentance is closed and let those who have done good continue on the same for, the best of all acts of obedience are the the ones followed up with its like. Be concerned more over the acceptance of your deeds than over the deeds itself for, Allaah does not accept deeds except from the pious ones. Also, beware of following up good deeds with bad ones because, if we say that good deeds eradicate bad ones, it is also not impossible that bad deeds destroy good ones.

Brothers in faith! You were – during the just concluded month of righteous – fasting in the day, praying in the night and doing different kinds of sacrificial acts in oder to get reward and to be saved from the Fire. With the depature of this month, a stage of our live has passed. Such is how we pass days of this life in stages on our way to the everlasting abode. Indeed, continuation of good deeds at all time is character of righteous people for, acts of obedience do not have a specific time; it is rather Allaahâ??s unconditional right upon His servants as long as they are alive. Though, month of Ramadaan is an opportunity for the faithfuls to race with one another towards good deeds and an opportunity to direct oneâ??s soul towards meritorious acts and keep it from vices; yet, it is quite incumbent on Muslims to remain on the path of righteousness even after Ramadaan. Worshipping Allaah should not be restricted to Ramadaan alone for, there is no end to Muslimâ??s worship except when he dies. What evil people those who worship only time and do not know Allaah except in Ramadaan!

Dear Muslims! Certainly, the acceptance and rejection of deeds in this month have signs. Among the signs of acceptance of good deed is when it is followed up by good deeds and it is among the signs of rejection to follow up oneâ??s good deeds with evil ones. Therefore, follow up the good deeds with its like, it will be a sign of acceptance of that good deed and follow up your evil deeds with good ones, that will indicate that those evil deeds have been overlooked. Allaah says:

“Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).” (Hood 11:114)

The Prophet saws also said:

“Fear Allaah wherever you are, follow up the evil deed with good one it will remove it and relate with people with good conduct.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhee)

Let those who are determined to go back to sins after Ramadaan know that Allaah is always pleased with those who obey Him regardless of the month the obedience takes place and is angry with those who disobey Him irrespective of the month the disobedience takes place. The essence of posperity lies in long life and good deeds and a personâ??s continuation of good deeds without restricting it to a certain period, particular month or special place is a sign of oneâ??s righteousness and acceptance of his good deeds.

Fellow Muslims! Though Ramadaan season is now gone, yet, fasting is still recommended in other months. The Messenger of Allaah saws has recommended fasting on Mondays and Thursdays. He said:

“Deeds are presented to Allaah on Mondays and Thursdays and I would like that my deeds be presented while I am fasting.”

It is also reported that he admonished Aboo Hurayrah ra thus:

“Fasting for three days in every month is (equal to) fasting forever.” (Reported by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim).

He also said:

Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadaan and then follows it with six days fasting in Shawwaal has done as if he has fast for live.” (Reported by Muslim)

Though, night prayer during Ramadaan might have gone; yet, the night prayers throughout the year is also recommended. It has been authentically reported from the Prophet saws that

“Allaah use to descend to the nearest heaven to this world when it is the last third of the night and say: â??Who is going to call Me that I may answer him? Who is going to ask from Me that I may give to him? Who is going to seek for my Forgiveness that I may forgive him?”

Therefore, the most pleasing to Allaah of all acts are the ones that are continuously done.

Fellow Muslims! While there are a set of youths who during the noble month of Ramadan were busy passing their time in lustful things, sins and acts of obedience, there are others who were busy doing deeds of righteousness such as Iâ??tikaaf in the Houses of Allaah severing all ties with fellow creatures and meditating with the Creator. They gave obedience of their Lord preference over their own desires. You would see them bowing, prostrating and reciting the Glorious Qurâ??aan. Such youths are the hope and pride of this Ummah.

Dear Muslims! Fear Alllaah for fear of Allaah is the head of all matters. Obey Allaah and keep away from His restrictions, you will achieve His pleasure and be saved from His torment. Do not go back to sins and disobedience so as not to be entitled to His punishment.

Dear brothers, thank your Lord for making you complete the fasting of this month. Enjoy your Eid by remaining consistent on the those good deeds and keep away from undesirable things that are capable of removing Allaahâ??s favors from you. One of our righteous predecessors said:

“Each day in which no act of disobedience to Allaah is committed is Eid and each day a believer spent in acts of obedience to his Lord is Eid”