Monday, August 12, 2013

Preserving the Gains of Ramadan:10 Deeds to be continued after Ramadan

Honorable friends, we are in post-Ramadan stage, and on this occasion we should mention that every believer who fasted this noble month, prayed in its nights, recited the noble Quran, lowered his gaze from what is forbidden, and sought the halal in his income, should continue that behavior, which accompanied him during Ramadan, even after Ramadan, so that the gains are cumulative. 

The higher you climb up the ladder of faith qualitatively; you should keep it, strengthen it and build upon it for higher steps. 

With this attitude we will benefit from acts of worship, where all our gains accumulate until they reach the point that Allah the Almighty is pleased with us.

It is unreasonable to go back to the usual, unacceptable life-style and behavior one used to have before Ramadan, as this means that he did not improve, there are no accumulative gains, all the gains were instantaneous, gone when Ramadan is over. 

As a poet said:
"Ramadan is over so give us wine o waiter
It misses me and I miss it"

 When after Ramadan one goes back to what he used to do before it, he cancels the accumulation of achievements in his life, as they become related and limited only to a certain period and stage, and they end with the end of that stage. 

Therefore, no progress, no upgrading in one’s life who understands only the month of Ramadan as a season of  worship, commitment, discipline, sharing, giving, reciting Quran, making Duas, seeking Islamic-knowledge, seeking Allah's forgiveness, etc, but goes back after Ramadan to what he used to be before Ramadan.

This noble month was meant by Allah to be a return to Him, making peace with Him, repentance to Him, walking towards Him. But the heroism is to let this 'return' and repentance continue after Ramadan, and to maintain and build up on all the goodness you had in Ramadan for the rest of the year. 

Let the eating and drinking be the only difference between Ramadan and after Ramadan.

Any way, your relationship with Allah the Almighty should not be limited to a certain time. You performed all the acts of worship and then you go back to what you have been before? No! 

All your gains must be cumulative, continuous and keep increasing in quality and quantity till you meet your Lord.

Ten Aamaal (acts of worship) to be continued after Ramadan:

1. Maintaining the regularity of  Fardh Salaah in Masjid and also      praying Nafl salaahs and Tahajjud.
2. Reading a portion of Quran daily.
3. Dua and Istighfaar.
4. Taking some time out for Dhikr/ Salawaat (Durood).
5. Fasting Nafl fasts of Shawwal, Mondays and Thursdays etc.
6. Charity and Feeding the Poor.
7. Good Akhlaaq/ behaviour.
8. Avoiding Sins by adopting Taqwa (particularly, controlling the tongue, eyes and ears).
9. Acquiring Islamic Knowledge.
10. Adopting pious company.

If you could not benefit fully from Ramadan:Do it Now!


 Those who could not benefit from Ramadan the way Allah commanded: Do not despair. All the months of the year, Allah is there!

 If you have realised now, found time now- you can worship, you can seek to please Allah now! 

Allah is waiting for your return every moment, every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, every year till you die!

You can sincerely Repent and make up the missed Fasts, read the Quran, pray Salaah regularly, do Dhikr, Supplicate to Allah, give Charity, adopt good manners- doing enormous good deeds is possible even after Ramadan.

Allah's assurance to us all:

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against  their own souls (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the sins altogether; surely He is the Forgiving the Merciful.

وَأَنِيبُوا إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ وَأَسْلِمُوا لَهُ مِن قَبْلِ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمُ الْعَذَابُ ثُمَّ لَا تُنصَرُونَ

And return to your Lord time after time (repenting) and submit to Him (in obedience) before there comes to you the punishment, then you shall not be helped.
--Quran 39:53,54

 If someone did not give Ramadan its due right because of a mistake, misunderstanding, difficult circumstances, ill health, or any other reason, he can compensate for this after Ramadan.

To the delinquent we say: make up, and to the outstanding we say: continue.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ramadan call to Sinners:

Ramadan call to Sinners:

 Those sinners who continue to lead wayward lives and neglect their duties to God, even in the blessed month of Ramadan, even they needn’t despair:
 
‘Just because God’s mercy has been specified for the doers of excellence, it doesn’t mean sinners should despair of receiving it.
 
Just because forgiveness is ordained for the God-fearing, those who wrong themselves [through sinning] are not veiled from it …
 
Say: “O my servants who have transgressed against their own souls! Do not despair of God’s mercy! For God forgives all sins.” [39:53]
 
So, O sinner – and we are all sinners – do not let your evil deeds make you despair of God’s mercy. How many like you have been liberated from the Fire during these days.
 
So entertain a good opinion of your Protecting Lord and turn in repentance to Him. For no one is damned with God, save he who damns himself:

If sins pain you then take your medicine;
By raising your hands in the depth of the night.
Despair not of the Divine Mercy; for surely
Despair of it is worse than the sin itself.
His mercy to the doers of excellence is generosity;
While His mercy to the sinners is pure benevolence.’

From imam Ibn Rajab's 'Lata’if al-Ma‘arif' (Riyadh: Dar Ibn Khuzaymah, 2007)
 
(Taken from thehumblei.com)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Farewell moments of Ramadan


As the month of great mercies draws to a close, as the faithful engage in final acts of Ramadan devotions, as believers anticipate divine acceptance and as Muslims across the world prepare for the coming Eid celebrations, let us close our series of Ramadan exhortations from Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali with the following:

‘Servants of God! The month of Ramadan has resolved to leave, and only a little of it now remains. Those among you who have done well in it, let them see it through till its end. Those who have fallen short, let them finish it with goodly actions. Enjoy the remaining few days and nights that are left of it. Bid it farewell with righteous deeds that will testify in your favour before the All-Knowing King. See it off by parting with it with the purist greeting of peace …
O month of Ramadan, be gentle! The tears of the lovers are streaming down at your departure and their hearts torn asunder at the pain of separation. Perhaps standing to bid you farewell may quench the flames of yearning that burn within. Perhaps a few moments of repentance and abstinence may mend of the fast all that has pierced it. Perhaps one cut-off from the caravan [of fasters] may find divine acceptance along with them. Perhaps one who was deserving of the Fire will be set free. Perhaps one shackled by sins will be liberated. Perhaps the sinner shall be shown mercy to by the Protecting Master.’1

Salamun ‘alayka ya shahr al-siyam wa’l-qiyam. Salamu ‘alayka ya shahr al-tilawati

wa’l-qur’an. Salamun ‘alayka ya shahr al-barakah wa’l-ihsan. Salamun
‘alayka ya shahr al-ghufran wa’l-ridwan. Salamun
‘alayka ya shahr al-Ramadan.
Salamun ‘alayka.
Salam.

1. Lata’if al-Ma‘arif (Riyadh: Dar Ibn Khuzaymah, 2007), 486-7.
Taken from thehumblei.com

Friday, August 2, 2013

How to derive Full Benefits from Quran Recital? Imam Ghazali

How do I improve my recitation of the Qur'an, spiritually?
 
Based on Imam Ghazali's explanation in his Ihya' `Ulum al-Din
 
1. One should understand the magnificent nature of the Qur'an.
 
This is a divine gift from Allah, and a tremendous favor. One should bring to mind the favor of Allah and be thankful.
 
2. Magnification of the Speaker.
 
Bring to mind the magnification of the One who is addressing us. The reciter will then remain conscious of the fact that this Book is the speech of Allah. So when one recites, it is not like reading any book, rather the very speech of Allah. Allah is speaking to the reciter through his recitation.
 
3. Paying attention to the Qur'an:
 
One may avoid whisperings of the self. "Oh Yahya, take the book firmly," which may be understood as ... take the words contained in it with seriousness and sincerity.
 
4. Pondering over the verses. How?
 
Recite it according to the Sunna with tarteel, a slow, measured, distinct manner. Tajweed helps in inward reflection. There's a hadith from Nasai and ibn Majah that the Prophet, peace be upon him, prayed at night reciting one ayah repeatedly: "in tuaddhibhum fa 'innahum 'ibaaduk..." If You punish them, then they are Your servants, and if You forgive them, surely You are the Mighty, the Wise. (5:118)
 
5. Seek to understand the meanings.
 
1) in the linguistic sense - study a translation if you do not know Arabic,
2) and the deeper meanings found in tafsirs,
3) and with reflection. Studying 'aqida helps, for example, reading verses about the power of Allah, and about His qadr. Don't interpret it with your own opinion; go look it up in a tafsir.
 
6. Remove obstacles to understanding the Qur'an.
 
There are four veils according to Imam Ghazali:
* Being overly concerned with outward recitation (this is one of the tricks of Shaytan to turn you away from reflecting on meanings). Find a middle path.
* Superimposing one's ideas/perspectives/beliefs on the guidance of the Qur'an (ex: someone is a feminist, socialist, economist - reading the Qur'an according to his or her own perspective - preventing true spiritual benefit from the Qur'an.) Take guidance from the Qur'an itself with an open mind.
* Sin, both outward and inward. Sin creates darkness in the soul and clouds the mirror of the heart, so it doesn't reflect the light of Divine guidance. How to polish the heart? With sincere and consistent repentance, and leaving sin. Keep doing this and striving until you leave those sins. This is a process: cleaning the heart and approaching Allah Most High.
* One finds sufficiency on finding how meanings relate to you from tafsir. However, this is an interpretation; these tafsirs shouldn't take the place of personal reflection and application.
 
7. Take everything in the Qur'an as guidance for yourself because it is for all creation.
 
When it talks about the oppressors, sinners, etc. look at your life, act on what's implied relative to your life. "Fastaqim kama umirta," be steadfast as you were commanded. Imagine how the Prophet, peace be upon him, applied the Qur'an to his life - his hair turned gray! His companions asked why his hair had turned white. He, peace be upon him, said, "Sura Hud and its sisters made my hair white." He was upright and truthful in following the Qur'an. He took every address to apply to himself personally.
 
8. Rise in degrees of recitation:
 
There are three grades of recitation. Any recitation is a tremendous grade.
 
* The lowest grade: one supposes one is reading the Qur'an to Allah, as if one is standing before Allah, in His Divine Presence, and Allah is listening to one's recitation. This is an inward state of begging, entreating, and supplicating.
 
* The middle grade: When one beholds Allah and sees for themself that Allah is addressing us with His favor. He is bestowing His gifts, His mercy through the Qur'an. There is a sense of shame, modesty (haya) and magnification (ta'dhim). One seeks to understand and be more serious. Now it is from Allah to you! There's also a feeling of ecstasy, thankfulness, and joy! One piece of dust like you is being addressed by the Lord of every speck of dust!
 
* The highest grade: When one beholds the Speaker Himself and His Attributes. One does not see his own actions, but completely engrosses himself in beholding Allah Most High Himself. Then next, he sees the address of Allah Most High, then sees his own recitation.
 
9. Feel the Qur'an when talking about Paradise, Hell, or anything, put yourself in tune with the Qur'an.
 
10. Recite the Qur'an while knowing that there is no might or power except with Allah.
 
'Qul bifadhlillahi wa birahmatihi'... say by the Grace of Allah and His Mercy; in that let them rejoice - better than what they amass - whether (worldly or spiritual amassing).
 
Thank Allah upon good deeds. In addition, one always beholds one's shortcoming in reciting it. And reminding ourselves that we are not being thankful enough, look even the Prophet's hair turned gray...The soul is what turns to Allah...the body is just dust. We have infinite fear, and infinite hope in Allah... so turn to Allah and hope for His Pleasure.

Taken from Sunni path website.
 

The Inner Dimensions of Zakat- Imam al-Ghazali


The Inner Dimensions of Zakat

Excerpts from Imam al-Ghazali's  'Ihya ul Uloom'

Certain inward attitudes and duties are incumbent on those who seek, through the payment of Zakat, that which leads to good in the Hereafter:

1. Knowing Zakat's purpose and significance

To understand the necessity of paying Zakat, how it represents a test of character, and why it has been made one of the fundamentals of Islam, even though it is a financial transaction and not a physical  act of worship.

Three points deserve consideration here:

(a) Testing the degree of love for Allah

Worldly goods are an object of love in everybody's eyes, being the means by which they enjoy the benefits of this world. Because of them, we become attached to life and shy away from death, even though death leads us to meet the Beloved (Allah).
The truth of our claim to love God is therefore put to the test, and we are asked to give up the wealth which is the apple our eye.
That is why Allah said: "God has bought from the believers their persons and their goods, Paradise being theirs for the price " (part of Quran: 9:111).
Allah also says that true piety means giving away one's wealth, in spite of love for it, to close relatives, orphans, the wayfarer and beggars, and for the emancipation of slaves (see Quran 2: 177) .

(b) The elimination of miserliness
The Divine decree by which Allah bids His servants to spend their wealth, is also significant  in purging the habit of miserliness, which is a deadly sin.

"And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful" (Quran 59:9).
"He who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification" (92:18)

The habit of miserliness is only eliminated by making oneself accustomed to spending money, for to break an attachment one must force oneself away till a new habit is found.
The purity he acquires is in proportion to his expenditure, to his delight in giving away and to his joy in spending for the sake of Allah.

(c) Expression of gratitude
The third factor is gratitude for benefits received, for the servant is indebted to Allah for personal and material bounties

2. Payment of Zakat at the proper time

The second duty with regards to Zakat concerns the time of payment .
A good practice is to anticipate the moment when payment is due.
This demonstrates a willingness to comply by bringing joy to the hearts of poor, forestalling the obstacles time might place in the way of charitable action, being aware that there are dangers in delaying payment, as the servant runs the risk of disobedience should he or she postpone beyond the appointed moment.
Whenever the impulse to good arises from within, the opportunity must be grasped at once as the believers heart lies between the two fingers of the All-Merciful. Yet how fickle is the heart! The devil threatens poverty and bids us to commit atrocious and abominable deeds.
Demonic suggestion follows hard on the heels of angelic inspiration. One should therefore seize the opportunity and fix a definite month for giving Zakat (if one is used to paying it all at once.)
One should endeavor to choose one of the most opportune times to pay Zakat, resulting in more closeness to Allah and compounding the value of the Zakat.
One such favorable time would be month of Muharram, since it is the first month of the Islamic year and one of the sacred months. Another is Ramadan.

3. Give In Secret

The third duty is secrecy, for this is farthest removed from hypocritical display and reputation-seeking.
Allah says, "If you disclose your Sadaqat (alms giving), it is well, but if you conceal it, and give it to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will forgive you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do" (Quran 2:271).
According to one Hadith, the Prophet said, "Seven people will be shaded under Allah's Throne on the Day on which there will be no other shade: (1) a just ruler, (2) a young person who worships Almighty Allah, (3) a person whose heart is attached to Masajid, (4) two people who love one another for the sake of Allah, and who come together and part for His sake, (5) a man who is called by a beautiful woman of good family, but refuses her, saying "I fear Allah", (6) a person who gives his money in charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives, and (7) someone who remembers Allah privately, so that his eyes brim with tears." (Bukhari, Muslim).
According to one of the scholars, "Three things are accounted among the treasures of righteousness, one of them being to give Alms in secret."
Whenever fame is the donor's objective, his work will be in vain, since the purpose of alms giving is to eliminate miserliness and to weaken the love of wealth. But the love of status has a stronger hold over the soul than the love of wealth, and both of them have deadly consequences in the Hereafter.

4. Give openly

The fourth duty, when one knows that such conduct will tend to encourage others to follow suit, is to let one's giving be seen.
In doing so, however, one must be inwardly on guard against hypocritical motives.
Apart from the expectation of gratitude and the risk of hypocrisy, there is another danger in visible alms giving, namely that of offending a poor man's dignity. It may be hurtful to him to be seen to be needy.
But someone who begs in public is bringing the disgrace upon himself; there is therefore no sense in being wary.

5. Avoid Taunting and Hurting

The fifth duty is not to invalidate one's alms giving through taunting and hurting.
As Allah said, "Do not make your Alms giving void by taunting and hurting." (part of Quran 2: 264).

Taunting is reminding a person of a favor, while hurt lies in making it known. According to others taunting is to exploit a person in return of a gift, while hurt lies in making him feel ashamed of his poverty.
Still others say that taunting means making one's gift an excuse for arrogant behavior.
One should therefore realize that giving alms is actually paying Allah, Great and Glorious is He, what is due, while the poor person is actually receiving his sustenance from Allah.
Anyone who grasps the significance of the three points mentioned above while discussing the purpose and importance of the Zakat, or even one of them, realizes that he is a benefactor only to himself , through spending his wealth either to demonstrate his love of Allah or to purge himself or herself of the voice miserliness, or to give thanks for the blessing of wealth in the hope of receiving more.

6. Adopt humility

The sixth duty to think little of one's donation, for to regard it highly is to invite that pride which is one of the deadly sins, making good deeds worthless.
It must be recognized that ten of two and-a-half percent is a tiny fraction, and that to pay only this is to content oneself with the least generous level of expense as we have explained above.
This is something to be ashamed of rather to boast about. Even if one rose to the highest level, disbursing all or most of one's wealth, one should still reflect on where it came from in the first place, and for what purpose it is being spent.
For all wealth belongs to Allah. It is to Him that one should be grateful for for being given it and being enabled to spend it, so why pride ourselves on spending for the sake of Allah when it is actually His property?
And, if one's situation is such that one must look to the Hereafter, spending for the sake of spiritual reward, why boast of giving what one expects to receive many many times over?
As for action, one's giving should be done with a sense of shame at one's meanness in holding back the rest of one's wealth from God, Great and Glorious is He.
One's demeanor should be humble and abashed, like that of someone who is asked to hand back a deposit but returns only part of it and holds on the rest.
For all wealth belongs to Allah and He would prefer to see us give all we possess. If He has not commanded His servant to do so, it is only because that would be too hard on them by reason of their greed.
As Allah says: "If He were to ask you of it, and press you, you would covetously withhold, and he will bring out all your (secret) ill wills'" (Quran 47:37).

7. Give the best and the dearest

The seventh duty is to select from one's wealth what is best and dearest to one: the finest and most excellent part, for God, exalted is He. Allah is good and accepts only what is good.
If the offering has been acquired by dubious means, it may not strictly belong to the donor and will then be disqualified.
"O you who believe! Spend of the good things which you have (legally) earned, and of that which We have produced from the earth for you, and do not aim at that which is bad to spend from it, (though) you would not accept it save if you close your eyes and tolerate therein. And know that Allah is Rich, and worthy of all praise." (Quran 2:267).

8. Seek the Worthy and Deserving

The eighth duty is to seek out the truly worthy recipient for one's offering (Sadaqa), rather than be content with just anybody who happens to fall within the eight categories of legally qualified beneficiaries.
For among those generally eligible there are some with special qualities. Attention should be paid to these five qualities:
First, one should seek out those pious people who have renounced the world and devoted themselves exclusively to the business of the Hereafter.
Second, the recipient should be chosen from among the people of learning, to support him in his quest for knowledge. Learning is the noblest form of worship, so long as it is based on right intention.
Third, the recipient should be a person who kept his need to himself, not being given to fuss and complaint.
Fourth, the recipient should be someone with a large family or disabled by illness or some other cause.
Fifth, the recipient should be a close relative, whether paternal or maternal.
Each of these points should therefore be taken into consideration, for they represent the desired qualities. Within each quality there are further gradations, so one ought to seek the highest.
If anyone can be found in whom all these qualities are combined, that is the greatest treasure and the supreme prize. If one does one's best and succeeds, one gets a double reward, but even if one fails, there is still a single reward for the effort.