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Developing Our Relationship with the Qur’an

Developing Our Relationship with the Qur’an

Developing Our Relationship with the Qur’an

We connect with the people who are important to us on a daily basis. We meet with, call, message, and e-mail them. Who do you voluntarily communicate with the most? Chances are that person is someone you love and are close to.

Why not spend this Ramadan connecting with the One who is the most important in our lives? Why not spend this month connecting with and becoming a lover and beloved of our Creator?

You can really get to know a person through their words. The things a person talks about, their word choice, and their style of communicating their words can reveal so much about them.

If you really want to get to know your Lord, take a look at His Glorious Words. Let’s try to develop our relationship with Allah swt this Ramadan by connecting with the Qur’an.

Ways to strengthen your connection with the Qur’an:

Recite.

There is no form of dhikr [remembrance] that is higher than the Qur’an. If a person wants to get closer to Allah swt, it is absolutely necessary for him/her to recite the Qur’an—there’s no way out. And for those of us who feel that we recite very slowly or that reciting the Qur’an is very difficult for us, never fear! For our beloved Nabi (saws) has said:

“Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Of course, this does that mean that if we do not know how to read the Qur’an properly we can kick back and continue making mistakes without worrying about it. We should definitely make an effort to learn the art of Tajweed from a qualified teacher and we should try our best to improve our recitation and seek to rectify our mistakes. However, if despite our continuous and sincere efforts we still find it difficult to recite the Qur’an, we should not despair, as Allah (swt) knows that we are trying and we should have hope that He will give us the reward mentioned in the Hadith quoted above, Insha’Allah.

Also, it should be noted that by recitation, we mean reciting the Qur’an in Arabic. These days, many people settle with reading the translation of the Qur’an and remain deprived from the spiritual blessings and rewards of reciting the Qur’an in the original Arabic it was revealed in.

Rasulullah (saws) said, “Whoever recites a letter of the Book of Allah earns a good deed, and each good deed is worth ten like it. I do not say that ‘Alif-lam-mim’ is one letter, but that alif is a letter, lam is a letter, meem is a letter.” [At-Tirmidhi]

It is no doubt a highly noble and encouraged act to study the meaning of the Qur’an, but it does not give anyone the excuse of leaving the recitation of the Qur’an in Arabic.

Memorize.

Memorizing the Qur’an is not only the job of the huffāzh or of those who are striving to memorize the entire Qur’an. Even if your goal is currently not to memorize the entire Qur’an, you should still try to make an effort to memorize more surahs and portions of the Qur’an. Memorizing the Qur’an allows you to develop a very unique kind of connection with the Qur’an that cannot be put into words. It allows you to enjoy reciting those portions of the Qur’an that you have memorized in a different way.

The Prophet (saws) said, “It will be said to those who know the Qur’an, ‘Recite and ascend. Recite slowly as you did in the world below. Your station will be at the last verse you recite.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

Also, whether you memorize an ayah a day or a page a day, try to recite what you memorize in your salah. You will likely find this to be beneficial not only in retaining what you memorize, but also in developing khushū’ [the desired calmness and the spirit of salah] in your salah. Memorizing more Qur’an means having more ways to interact with Allah (swt) in your salah. Instead of repeating the same surahs over and over again, you’ll have more options to choose from. Each salah can become a unique experience and interaction with Allah (swt).

Listen.
Whether you are cooking iftar, in the car, or walking on the street, try to make a habit of listening to the recitation of the Qur’an whenever possible. Let the words of your Beloved flow into your ears and penetrate deeply into your heart. Fill your life and mind with the recitation of the Qur’an.

It is considered greater adab [etiquette] to drop everything while the Qur’an is being recited and to fully focus on the recitation. However, some scholars have given the permission to listen to pre-recorded, non-live recitation of the Qur’an while doing other quiet activities such as doing chores and typing up an e-mail. This is neither against the shari’ah nor against adab and it has immense spiritual benefit. If you are talking to someone, however, then you should not play the Qur’an in the background.

Additionally, listening to the recitation of someone who recites well with Tajweed and who understands the meaning of the Qur’an has a special kind of impact on our hearts and it increases our own desire to recite the Qur’an.

Understand.
Our responsibility as Muslims is to not only recite the Qur’an but to also act upon it—and we cannot act upon the Qur’an if we do not know what the Qur’an is telling us. We should try to study the Qur’an under the guidance of a qualified ‘alim [Islamic scholar].

If it is not possible for you to study the Qur’an under the guidance of a qualified teacher, you can still read authentic books of tafseer. An excellent recommendation is Ma’ariful Quran by Mufti Shafi Usmani Sahib (db), which is available in both Urdu and English.

If you ever are unsure whether a teacher offering tafseer classes is qualified or whether a certain tafseer book is authentic, you can always contact the Nawal Academy administration and consult with them.

Remember, the Qur’an is essentially Allah swt speaking to us. Try to understand what Allah swt is telling us. Reflect and ponder on the words of your Lord. Try to implement one verse of the Qur’an into your life every day.

And beg Allah swt to bestow you with the noor of the Qur’an.

May Allah swt allow us to make the most of the remainder of this Ramadan and may He allow us begin leading lives colored with the beauty of the Qur’an this month. May Allah swt allow us to develop a special connection with the Qur’an this month and may He make that connection a means of bringing us nearer to Him. Ameen!

References:

 “Advice to Youth” by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db) (http://www.islamicspirituality.org/lectures/general)

Written by:
Hafiza Safa Subhani Sahiba
Head of Hifz Dept.
Nawal Academy

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Advice for Parents of Hifzh Students

Advice for Parents of Hifzh Students: Prospective, Present, and Past

 

Memorizing the entire Qur’an is a dream many Muslim parents today have for their children. And indeed, this is a goal nobler than many if not all others. However, after children have memorized a number of surahs and perhaps even a juz or two of the Qur’an, there is a question that plagues many parents: how do I know if my child is ready to commit to memorizing the entire Qur’an?

 

Parents should be aware that doing hifzh of the Qur’an is not a small task. It requires a tremendous amount of effort, focus, and dedication on behalf of the student, parent(s), and the teacher. Therefore, when deciding whether or not to enroll your children in a hifzh program, you should make sure that you, the child, and the teacher are prepared for this huge and blessed commitment. If the child has a Qur’an teacher, ask the teacher if s/he feels your child is capable of doing hifzh of the Qur’an. If the teacher thinks that the child indeed has the focus and persistence needed to memorize the Qur’an and that he does a very good job memorizing surahs, then you may consider enrolling the child in a hifzh program. However, first you, the parent, must make sure that you are willing to expend the time and effort needed to support your child during this endeavor. If not, it may not be best to put this responsibility on the child’s shoulders. Last, but certainly not least, the child should be asked if he or she is willing to strive to become a hāfizh or hāfizha. If the child says no, then the parent should drop the idea, at least until the child is willing to make this commitment.

 

Unfortunately, many parents do not follow this advice, which was given by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad Naqshbandi Mujaddidi (db), a very well-known and authentic scholar, hāfizh, and spiritual guide from Pakistan. Parents often force their children to do hifzh, when it is not fardh [obligatory] on everyone to memorize the entire Qur’an. Children should only be enrolled in a hifzh program if they are happy and willing to commit to this blessed task.

 

Okay, so you decided your child is ready to do start doing hifzh. What next?

 

After children are enrolled in a hifzh class, the children’s parents and teachers should encourage them and teach him with love, care, softness, and gentleness. When children are taught by someone with these characteristics they soar and reach heights they may have never imagined.

 

In contrast, under no circumstances should the parents or the teacher beat children for not memorizing or doing well on their lessons. When parents and teachers show children such harsh behavior, there is a danger of them losing their desire to recite the Qur’an and love for Islam. How many students are there who memorized the Qur’an under a harsh teacher and, after completing the memorization, stopped revising the Qur’an and therefore forgot what they had worked so hard to memorize? How many huffāzh went on to become astray and began leading a life of sin? There are unfortunately many such cases, and often the reason is that those students had been taught the Qur’an with harshness and force.

 

It is much better if a child happily memorizes half, or even a juz, of the Qur’an rather than being beaten and forced into memorizing the entire Qur’an. 

 

The following are some additional things the parents of hifzh students can do to help their children succeed:

 

  • Make du’ā for your child. Parents’ du’ā for their children is extremely valuable and it is the best gift you can give them. Allah (swt) is the only one who can truly help a person in any matter, which of course includes memorizing His Blessed words.

 

  • Help and encourage your child to abstain from sins. Light and darkness cannot coexist in the same place. Similarly, by nature, the dazzling radiance of the Qur’an and the darkness of sins simply cannot gather in one place. Watching movies, missing prayers, listening to music, and engaging in other sins are displeasing to Allah (swt), and this has a detrimental impact on both students’ memorization and on their connection with Allah (swt). However, parents must keep in mind that they should remind children to abstain from sins with love and softness rather than through fear and force.

 

  • Be a good role model. When your children see you reading the Qur’an, then they will very likely be encouraged to do the same, Insha’Allah. The same goes for praying salāh, engaging in Allah’s (swt) dhikr [remembrance], etc. Engaging in acts of ibādah causes a person’s soul to grow, very similar to the way food causes a person’s body to grow. A stronger soul will make it easier for your child to memorize the Qur’an, Insha’Allah.

 

  • Make sure your child is eating the right foods. It is crucial to make sure that your child consumes only halāl foods. Consumption of harām foods is of course prohibited, and it may negatively impact a person’s progress in his or her memorization of the Qur’an. There are several breads, cereals, etc. that contain harām ingredients and we must be very wary of the foods that enter our bodies and the bodies of our children. Also, make sure your children eat nutritious meals, that they maintain a balanced diet, and that they eat a healthy breakfast before class every morning so that they are energized for class, Insha’Allah!

 

  • Help your child create a schedule. It is necessary for hifzh students to devote at least a few hours every day for their memorization and revision. It is beneficial to create a set time for this task, as it will help ensure that neither memorization nor revision ever gets “skipped.” The times after Fajr and after Maghrib are very blessed times for memorization and revision, but any time of the day that is convenient will work, Insha’Allah.

 

Of course, even if the parents and teacher put their maximum effort into helping a student, if the student is not willing to strive to achieve his or her goals, then there will be very little progress. The following are a few, but not all, of the qualities that should be found in every student willing to memorize the Qur’an. Some of these qualities come with time, so if your children are lacking in any of them, then you and their Qur’an teacher(s) should try your best to patiently and gently instill these qualities in them. Moreover, if you yourself are a person who is striving to memorize the Qur’an, check to make sure you are making an effort to obtain the following qualities:

 

  • Sincerity. Hifzh students should recognize that the only reason they are memorizing the Qur’an is to please Allah (swt). Attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt) is the purpose of every mu’min’s [believer’s] life, and everything he or she does should be a step towards that ultimate goal, Insha’Allah.

 

  • Devotion. Hifzh students must be aware of the blessing and responsibility that Allah (swt) has gifted them with. They should recognize that memorizing the Qur’an takes a great amount of time and effort and they should be willing to expend that time and effort on their memorization and revision.

 

  • Concentration. When hifzh students are memorizing their lessons or revising their previous lessons, they should be fully concentrating on what they are reading. All distractions should be eliminated and their attention should be on the blessed words of their Creator.

 

  • Self-Discipline. Although parents are most certainly encouraged to remind and help their children practice their lessons, hifzh students should recognize that this is their responsibility, given to them by Allah (swt). They should not need someone to constantly remind them to practice their lessons. They should know that practicing Qur’an may sometimes mean that they will have to wait a couple hours before getting to play or engage in other activities, but that they must finish their memorization and revision before play in order to progress and reach their goals.

 

  • Patience. Hifzh students should realize that some lessons are not as easy as others and that they might not always see the results of their efforts as soon as they like. Hifzh takes time and students should not become frustrated if they are not reaching their goals quickly. Hifzh students should know that although memorizing may sometimes seem a little difficult, they should never give up and that their efforts are never done in vain—for any effort to please Allah (swt) is never done in vain. Hifzh students should know that if they keep trying their best to perfect their memorization of Allah’s (swt) words, Allah (swt) will make it easier for them and allow them to reach their goals, Insha’Allah.

 

  • Gratitude. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an: “If you express gratitude, I shall certainly give you more” (14:7). Although we can never thank Allah (swt) enough for the countless blessings He bestows upon us, when hifzh students are grateful to Allah (swt) for allowing them to memorize His blessed words, He will Insha’Allah make it easier for them to memorize the Qur’an. When the great Imām Abu Hanifa (rah) would understand a new concept, he would say “alhamdulillah,” and thereafter Allah (swt) would increase his knowledge. Hifzh students should make an effort to constantly thank Allah (swt) for all the blessings He has given them, particularly this blessing of memorizing the Qur’an. If possible, they should try to make it a habit to pray at least two nafl [optional] rak’āt salāt-ul-shukr [prayer of thanks] every day, Insha’Allah (however, parents should not force their children to pray these two rak’āt).

 

  • Humility. It is natural for students, children and adults alike, to compare themselves to their peers, and sometimes students who memorize the Qur’an begin to think of themselves as better than others. However, it is very important for parents and educators to gently remind students that this opportunity of memorizing the Qur’an is a gift from Allah (swt) and that we have no reason to be arrogant because of it. Allah (swt) does not like arrogance and He can easily take that gift away, God forbid, and give it to someone else instead. Hifzh students should be humble and should know that the fact that they are memorizing the Qur’an does not necessarily make them better than their peers. The heavier the fruit, the lower the branch bows. Similarly, the more knowledge Allah (swt) gives a person, the more humble the person should become, as we are absolutely nothing compared to Allah’s (swt) infinite greatness.

 

Perhaps your child has already completed his or her memorization of the Qur’an, whether recently or years ago. Or perhaps you have completed your memorization of the Qur’an. In either case, huffāzh must do their best to maintain a schedule of revision. It takes approximately 10,000 focused hours to excel in any field in the dunya, which means that it will take at least that much time to excel in a field in the deen. Hence, the time spent doing the actual memorization is just the formation of the base—the real excellence in hifzh comes much later. Huffāzh and their parents alike often forget the importance of regularly revising the Qur’an after the memorization has been completed and students get busy with school and other responsibilities. However, it is crucial for huffāzh to remember the gift and responsibility Allah (swt) has given them and, thus, to continue to consistently revise the Qur’an for the rest of their lives—which they will naturally be driven to do if they had a soft, encouraging, gentle, loving, and caring learning experience, Insha’Allah.

 

Additionally, huffāzh are encouraged to acquire knowledge of the deen, to teach the Qur’an to others if they get the opportunity, and to practice upon the Qur’an that Allah (swt) chose their hearts to preserve.

 

May Allah (swt) keep us on the straight path and may He make it easy for us and our children to excel in memorizing, retaining, and practicing upon the Qur’an with love and happiness. Ameen.

 

Source:

 

 

 

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Benefitting from the Days of Hajj

Benefitting from the Days of Hajj

 

Alhamdulillah, we are now nearing the end of Dhul Qa’dah, which is the eleventh month of the Islamic calendar and the first of the al-Ash-hurul hurum, or the four sanctified months in which war was prohibited during the time of Rasulullah (saws).

 

During Dhul Hijjah, most of the individuals planning to perform Hajj [hujjāj] make their final preparations for the big journey. Of course, Hajj is something that should be prepared for weeks, months, or even years in advance. However, here are a few things that the hujjāj are advised to make sure they have done before they embark upon their journey:

 

  • Seek forgiveness. There are two types of rights [huqūq] that are upon us: rights of Allah [huqūqullah] and rights of other servants [huqūq-ul-‘ibād]. When we make deficiencies in worshipping and obeying Allah (swt), we must seek forgiveness from Allah (swt), who is the Most Forgiving and the Most Merciful and who loves the servant who repents to Him. Sometime before the journey, you should aim to pray two rak’āt salāt-ul-tawbah and seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness for all our past sins.

 

However, when we make deficiencies in fulfilling huqūq-ul-‘ibād, then in order to be forgiven by Allah (swt), we must also seek forgiveness from the person we wronged. Therefore, the person intending to perform Hajj should try their best to seek the forgiveness of every person they have wronged in the slightest way. Better yet, just to be on the safe side, you can try to make a list of all the people you have interacted with from birth onwards and seek out the forgiveness of all those people, just in case you wronged someone and do not even remember that you did.

 

  • Make a will. Although Hajj is a relatively safe journey, whenever and wherever death is destined for us, we will expire. It is therefore wise to learn the proper method of making a will from an authentic scholar, to ensure that you have that covered in case you do not return.

 

  • Study. You should make sure you are familiar with the fiqh of Hajj and that you are mentally prepared for what to expect by reading books, attending seminars, listening to lectures, buying a map, discussing the topic of Hajj with others, etc.

 

  • Prepare yourself spiritually. Spend some time in the remembrance of Allah (swt) [dhikr], recitation of the Qur’an, and worshipping Allah (swt). Hajj is a beautiful journey of love. It is important to spend some more time remembering your Beloved (swt) before the journey so that you will be able to remember Him even more when you’re at His blessed Haram.

 

  • Make sure you have what you need. Don’t wait until the last minute to pack your bags, make copies of your passport, etc. Do it as soon as possible to eliminate stress during the journey. Shaytan takes advantage of us when we’re stressed out! We need to try to be as prepared as possible so that we can remain calm during the journey, which will consequently help us in trying to spend every moment remembering Allah (swt).

 

  • Pray two rak’āt before you leave. It is sunnah to pray two rak’āt before embarking on a journey, so it is highly recommended for the person leaving for Hajj to pray two rak’āt before s/he leaves. Pray these two rak’āt in extreme gratefulness—for you are only going on this journey because Allah (swt) has permitted you to do so, out of His infinite grace and generosity—and beg Allah (swt) to allow you to perform an accepted Hajj. No good deed we perform can ever be worthy of being presented to Allah Almighty. Also remember that when Allah (swt) invites you to His House for Hajj, it is more or less a hint that Allah (swt) is inviting you to be forgiven.

 

The following are three things that should NOT be done during the journey:

 

  1. Impatience. No matter how long it takes for you to get your food, no matter how many people are losing their temper, and no matter how hot it gets, you absolutely must remember to be patient! Living in the 21st century, we’re used to instant everything. However, the Hajj itself is actually one big trial of waiting, and we have to remember that.
  2. Ungratefulness. How can we dare complain when Allah (swt) has allowed us to be His guests?
  3. Sins. The journey is accepted if no disobedience is done.

 

Make as much du’ā as you can throughout the entire journey. Pour your heart out to Allah (swt). Ask Him for all your heart’s desires. Ask for both religious and worldly needs. Such golden opportunities are very rare, and when Allah (swt) bestows us with them, we should really try to take advantage of them.

 

This was just some extremely brief advice for the people intending to perform Hajj. So what about the people who are not performing Hajj this year?

 

Hajj has many themes that we can learn from—but a major theme of the Hajj is that it is a time for forgiveness. Just like the hujjāj come to ‘Arafah with their mistakes, we all have our own mistakes. The days of Hajj are a time to think about how we’ve spent our lives, to reflect on our sins, to seek Allah’s (swt) forgiveness for those sins, to try to rectify some of our mistakes, to beg Allah (swt) for protection from future sins, to spend time in the dhikr of Allah (swt), and to then enjoy our Eid the way we have been told to celebrate it.

 

We should try to make the same intense du’ās and the same pledges we would have made if we had gone for Hajj. For Allah’s (swt) mercy is not just limited to one area during these days; that special mercy spreads all across the earth.

 

May Allah (swt) allow all the hujjāj to perform their journey with ease, may He accept it from them, and may He allow us all to partake from the blessings of the days of Hajj. Ameen. We at Nawal Academy request that you (both hujjāj and non- hujjāj) remember us in your du’as and we hope you have a wonderful Eid, Insha’Allah!

 

To learn more about the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah, Eid-ul-Adha, and the rulings associated with these days, please click here.

 

Sources:

 

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Shawwal

The Blessed Month of Shawwal

 

We hope everyone had a beautiful Ramadan and a joyous Eid, Insha’Allah! Hopefully the blessings of these joyous events reached all the members of the ummah of our Beloved Nabi (saws).

 

Before we move into Dhul Qa’dah, let’s briefly go over some of the highlights of the blessed month of Shawwal.

 

Shawwal is the tenth month of the Islamic calendar. One major event in the month of Shawwal is the blessed Muslim holiday of Eid-ul-Fitr. This festive day is an immediate reward that Allah (swt) gives to His servants who spent the month of Ramadan in fasting and worship. In other religions and cultures, it is the norm to celebrate a holiday singing, dancing, or engaging in other vain forms of entertainment—in other words, in sheer heedlessness. However, our perfect deen is truly one of a kind, and for a Muslim, there is no “day off” from the beautiful shari’ah that Allah (swt) has gifted him/her with. Allah (swt) has mandated all well heeled Muslims to begin their joyous Eid day by remembering the less wealthy members of the ummah in the form of paying sadaqatul fitr. That way, the poorer members of the community may also enjoy their Eid without worrying about earning their livelihood for at least that day.

 

After giving charity, it is wajib on Muslim men to gather together to offer the Eid prayer. What more of an excellent way to begin this festive day than to perform acts that are pleasing to and attract the blessings of our Creator? SubhanAllah, Allah (swt) is so Merciful and Generous to give us special opportunities to please Him on the joyous day of Eid-ul-Fitr!

 

After the Eid salah, we should enjoy the rest of the day while taking care to remain within the boundaries of the shari’ah. Many Muslims spend their Ramadan in intense worship but then on Eid, they “celebrate” by performing acts of sin. This is very unfortunate, and we should by no means violate the shari’ah under any circumstances.

 

The first night of Shawwal, or the night preceding Eid day, is also very blessed, and we are encouraged to spend it in worship. On this special night, du’as are accepted and a large number of people are released from the Hellfire. Rasulullah (saws) said: “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die” (Ibn Majah).

 

Another special act of Shawwal is the six fasts that we are encouraged to keep this month. The Prophet (saws) said, “Whoever completes fasts of Ramadan then adds to them the fast of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the thawab of fasting for the whole year” (Sahih Muslim). The scholars have interpreted this Hadith such that it is established by the shari’ah that the reward of every good deed a Muslim performs is multiplied by ten. Therefore, the 30 fasts of Ramadan are multiplied by ten, resulting in 300 fasts. Additionally, the six fasts of Shawwal are also multiplied by ten, resulting in 60 fasts, for a total of 360 fasts—which is equal to the number of days in the Islamic calendar. SubhanAllah, how Merciful our Lord is! He constantly gives us promises of such huge rewards for such little effort on our part. We should aim to keep these six fasts on the 2nd to 7th of Shawwal. However, even if we weren’t able to and we complete them later on in the month, there is still hope for the same reward, Insha’Allah.

 

Another important thing to remember is that the night Ramadan ends, the days of Hajj begin. Shawwal is the first of the three months of Hajj, and those fortunate individuals who are invited to the House of Allah this year should begin preparing for their esteemed journey! Even those who are not going for Hajj should work on strengthening their connection with Allah (swt) during these months and should aim to spend the days of Hajj making the same du’as and hoping to make the same changes in their lives as they would if they had gone for Hajj.

 

May Allah (swt) allow the entire ummah to partake from these blessed months and may He allow many of us to enter His Glorious House this Dhul Hijjah! Ameen.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.inter-islam.org/Miscellaneous/months.htm#Shawwaal

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Ramadan: A Ray of Hope

 

The sinner spends the entire year smothering himself with the filth and grime of sins. He spends eleven months wandering astray in a tunnel of darkness. He oppresses his soul and gives into the evil commands of Shaytan and to the temptations of his lower self [nafs]. He commits the most tremendous sins, both openly, in broad daylight, and secretly, under the concealing blanket of the night. One day, he realizes the extremity and horrendousness of his deeds, and his heart fills with remorse. In despair, he weeps and miserably falls to the dank floor of his dark tunnel of sins.

 

But then the sinner sees something that causes his heart to race. There is a dazzling light at the end of the tunnel. A ray of hope. There is still hope.

 

Allah’s (swt) mercy is infinite. And in Ramadan, that mercy is exemplified beyond our comprehension. For sinners like us, who spend a large portion of the year displeasing our Lord, the month of Ramadan serves as a shining ray of hope—a chance to rejuvenate our dead souls, which we have killed ourselves by committing countless sins, and a chance to start fresh. A chance to actually live like the Muslims we have been claiming to be for so long.

 

The month of Ramadan is only a few days away. Do not let this opportunity go to waste.

 

Many people consider fasting to merely be abstinence from food, drink, and sexual relations. Although that is indeed the legal definition of fasting, there is so much more to fasting than that. There are, essentially, three levels of fasting. The first level is the most common, which is to fast from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse.

 

The second level of fasting is to fast from sins, such as backbiting, listening to music, disobeying parents, etc. Rasulullah (saws) said: “Allah has no interest in any person’s abstention from eating and drinking, if that person does not give up lying and dishonest actions” (Saheeh al-Bukhari).

 

The third level of fasting is to fast from everything other than Allah (swt). A servant striving to achieve this level of fasting may fast from unnecessary speech, the internet, his cell phone, the newspaper, sports, and anything else that competes in even the slightest way with his love for Allah (swt). For, our hearts have a limited amount of space—how can we expect to develop a love for Allah (swt) when we constantly fill our hearts with love for the things that distract us from Allah (swt)?

 

One direct consequence of faith [imān] is love for Allah (swt). This is clearly exemplified in this verse [āyah] of the Qur’an:

 

“And those who believe have intense love for Allah.” (2:165)

 

When a servant loves Allah (swt), it is easy for him to do the things that attract the mercy of Allah (i.e. good deeds) and abstain from the things that displease Allah (i.e. bad deeds). Since love for Allah (swt) is evidently part of the definition of belief, if we find ourselves to be lacking in that love, there must be something wrong with our belief. However, how fortunate it is for us that the month of Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to empty our hearts of the filth that we have filled it with and to let our hearts naturally attract the love of Allah (swt). For, even if we do not do great acts of worship [ibādah], if we simply withdraw from distractions and make a little bit of effort to worship and please Allah (swt), we will naturally allow the seed in our hearts to grow. And once Allah (swt) allows us to develop that love for Him in our hearts, everything else—such as the night vigil [tahajjud], recitation of the Qur’an, desire to give charity [sadaqah], etc.—will come naturally, Insha’Allah.

 

So, with the month of Ramadan right around the corner, we as Muslims have some very crucial planning to do. These 29 or 30 days and nights of extreme mercy must be taken seriously. We should strive to plan each action very carefully, and we should set our goals of what we hope to achieve in this month—for, if we don’t have a goal, it is unlikely we will reach anything. We should increase our recitation of the Qur’an, remembrance [dhikr], and other acts of worship [ibādah] now, so that it will be easier for us to do so when Ramadan begins. We should abstain from sins and eliminate distractions now, so that when the first day of Ramadan comes upon us, our filthy habits will have completely disappeared from our lives. If we know we will have to go Eid shopping, we should try to do it now so that we don’t miss out on single precious opportunity of worship [ibādah]. And we should also keep in mind that we are worshipping Allah (swt), not Ramadan. It is extremely unfortunate that many of us spend the whole month of Ramadan in worship, only to return to our filthy lives of sins the first day of Shawal. We must remember that Allah (swt) is there for us twelve months a year. The reason Ramadan is special is because it is especially brimming with the blessings of Allah (swt). It should then be our goal to strive to take advantage of those blessings in Ramadan so that they will last us for the remaining eleven months of the year, Insha’Allah.

 

This could be the opportunity many of us have been waiting for—the opportunity to become alive again.

 

“Wash all the filth away and change my dead heart.

Make me alive again, give me a fresh start.”

Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmad (db)

 

May Allah (swt) allow us to reach Ramadan and take full advantage of this blessed month, may He make this month a means of our forgiveness [maghfirah] and of our freedom from the Hellfire, and may He allow us to continue to reap the benefits of this month long after it ends, Insha’Allah. Ameen.

 

We ask that you keep Nawal Academy and the entire Muslim community [ummah] in your prayers, especially during the blessed days and nights of Ramadan.

 

To read more about Ramadan and its virtues, please click here.

 

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The Blessed Month of Rajab

The Month of Rajab

 

Rajab is the seventh month of the Islamic calendar. The word rajab is derived from rajaba, which means “to respect.” Rajab is one of the four sacred months [ashhurul hurum] in which fighting is prohibited. The other three sacred months are Zhul Qa’dah, Zhul Hijjah, and Al-Muharram.

 

Rajab is a very significant month for the believers, as it reminds us that the blessed month of Ramadan is only two months away. When the moon of Rajab was sighted, our Beloved Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم used to await and prepare for Ramadan. Rajab begins a new “season” of hope, mercy, and forgiveness that lasts until the end of the blessed month of Ramadan. Shaykh Abu Bakr Balkhy رحمة الله عليه said, “Rajab is a month in which we plant the seeds of good (i.e. by increasing our ‘ibadah). In Sha’ban we water them, to cultivate (and reap the rewards) in Ramadhan.”

 

Hadhrat Anas رضى الله عنه narrates that when Rajab would begin, Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم would recite the following supplication [du’ā]:
اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

 

Allāhumma bārik lanā fī rajaba wa sha’bāna wa ballighnā ramadhān.

 

Translation: “O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadan.”

 

One can hope that through this supplication [du’ā], Allah سبحانه و تعالى will grant one blessings [barakah] in these months so that one may increase his or her acts of worship [‘ibādah] in preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan. How often do we remain heedless of the blessings of Ramadan until it actually starts, or even until we enter the month’s last few days? It is vital for us to prepare for Ramadan well before it arrives so that we are ready to use every moment of the glorious month striving to excel in pleasing Allah سبحانه و تعالى, Insha’Allah. Additionally, one can hope that through this supplication [du’ā] Allah سبحانه و تعالى will give him or her the ability [taufīq] to actually reach Ramadan. There are several people who die before the crescent moon of Ramadan is sighted. We ask Allah سبحانه و تعالى that He allows us to reach Ramadan with wellness [khair] and ease [āfiyah] and that He prolongs our life so that we may experience many more Ramadans in the future, Insha’Allah.

 

There are no specific forms of worship designated to the month of Rajab by the Islamic law [Shari’ah]—one may engage in any form of worship [‘ibādah] he or she likes. The Companions [Sahābah] used to increase their recitation of the Qur’an during Rajab and especially in Sha’ban, in preparation for Ramadan. Additionally, there is great reward in fasting in Rajab and is the sunnah of our beloved Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلم.

 

Hadhrat Abdullah bin Zubair رضى الله عنه, a cousin of Rasulullah صلي الله عليه وسلم, is reported to have said, “If someone relieves a believer [mu’min] from anxiety during the month of Rajab, Allah سبحانه و تعالى will grant him a place in Firdaus, extending as far as the eye can see. Yes, indeed you must honor Rajab, for then Allah سبحانه و تعالى will honor you with a thousand generous favors!”

 

SubhanAllah! Relieving a believer [mu’min] from anxiety during this month may be the deed that, through Allah’s سبحانه و تعالى acceptance, will get one into the highest level of Heaven, Jannat ul Firdaus. May Allah سبحانه و تعالى allow us to attain the merits of the blessed month of Rajab, may He allow us to use the remainder of this month to plant the seeds in preparation for the grand harvest in Ramadan, and may He allow us to live to see and benefit from that harvest, with wellness [khair] and ease [āfiyah], Insha’Allah. Ameen.

 

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Diseases of the Heart: Spite (Hiqd) and Hatred (Bughudh)

Diseases of the Heart: Spite (Hiqd) and Hatred (Bughudh)

When a person is ill, he is usually unable to use his sense of smell as efficiently as a person who is well. Additionally, he also often loses his sense of taste. Everything he eats tastes bland, and he therefore becomes deprived of the tastes of the most delicious foods. In fact, there is a certain illness in which pus increases in the body and everything the afflicted person eats tastes bitter to him, to the extent that even the sweetness of honey seems bitter to him. Similarly, there are certain diseases that afflict our heart, such as anger, pride, jealousy, etc. When a person’s heart is full of such diseases, he becomes deprived of spiritual virtues and of the incomparable sweetness of faith [imān].

 

Spite [hiqd] and hatred [bughudh] are such very terrible diseases of the heart. Hadhrat Fazlul Karim writes in his translation of Hadhrat Imām Ghazali’s (rah) book, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din, that hatred is “the prevalence of the effect of anger in the mind.” This means that when a person develops a grudge or feelings of hatred or enmity towards someone, his heart is afflicted with spite [hiqd]. Spite [hiqd] is a disease that is unfortunately both incredibly destructive and very commonly found. It is an illness that destroys relationships and that leads to several other sins, such as jealousy, backbiting, and lying.

 

Sometimes a person gets into a small disagreement with someone about a certain matter, or someone does something that the person dislikes, and, soon afterwards, he begins to despise him. And it is unfortunate that he begins to hate the person himself instead of his flaws or bad deeds, when in reality, we should hate the sin as opposed to the sinner. For instance, if a certain Muslim brother is known to drink wine, then we should hate the brother’s tendency to drink wine—for, consuming alcohol is prohibited [harām] and hated by Allah (swt)—rather than the brother himself. If Muslims begin to treat each other with love rather than spite, then more Muslims will become inclined to leave sin and to hasten towards the religion [dīn]. Additionally, we have no idea how Allah (swt) views the same person whom others deem a sinner. What if that same brother who drinks wine wakes up in the last portion of the night and makes sincere repentance [taubah] to Allah (swt) and consequently becomes one of Allah’s (swt) beloved slaves?

 

The cure for spite [hiqd] is that the afflicted person should forgive the person he despises and overlook his flaws, even though he may find this to be a very difficult thing to do.

 

Additionally, it has been said that in order to cure hatred [bughudh], the afflicted individual must first recognize that hatred [bughudh] and be disgusted by it. The second step is for the individual to become genuinely ashamed of himself for thinking such terrible thoughts and of the type of person he has become. When a person is ill, the only way he will be able to free himself of his illness is by actually acknowledging the fact that he is ill. Only after this recognition will he go see a doctor and take the steps to cure his sickness. Similarly, it is only when a person feels sincere remorse for his hatred [bughudh] that he will be able to escape from it. The third step a person who intends to cure his hatred [bughudh] must take is to make sincere supplication [du’ā] for the person he hates. Again, this may not be an easy thing to do, but he must force himself to make the same type of heartfelt supplication [du’ā] for that person as he would for a loved one.

 

When a person forces himself to make supplication [du’ā] for the brother or sister he developed hatred [bughudh] towards, and he does this with the sincere intention [niyyah] of removing that hatred [bughudh] from his heart, then Allah (swt) will remove the hatred [bughudh] from his heart, Insha’Allah. The “secret” to curing spite [hiqd], hatred [bughudh], or any other spiritual disease is simply a person’s earnest intention [niyyah] and seeking [talab]. For, if we truly desire to rid our heart of spiritual diseases, then Allah (swt) is the one who is going to cure us. No matter what we learn or do, we are incapable of curing ourselves. Allah (swt) is the only one who is capable of curing us; all we must do is attempt to become magnets of His mercy [rahmah]. And when we do these things (e.g. making supplication [du’ā] for the person we despise) with the sincere intention [niyyah] of curing ourselves, we become magnets of Allah’s (swt) mercy [rahmah].

 

May Allah (swt) purify our hearts of all spiritual diseases, may He allow us to experience the sweetness of faith [imān], and may He bestow us with hearts that constantly remember Him. Ameen.

 

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The Month of Rabi-ul-Thani

The Month of Rabi-ul-Thani

Rabi-ul-Thani, also known as Rabi-ul-Akhir, is the fourth month of the Islamic calendar. The word Rabi-ul-Thani or Rabi-ul-Akhir literally means “the second month of spring.”
The Shari’ah has not designated any specific forms of worship or gatherings to this month. Nonetheless, some people violate the Shari’ah by commemorating the death of Hadhrat Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani رحمة الله عليه which is said to have taken place on the 11th of Rabi-ul-Thani. The Shaykh رحمة الله عليه was a very prominent Sufi and was among our most pious predecessors. Thus, people cook and distribute special meals on that day, thinking that by doing this they will please the Shaykh’s رحمة الله عليه soul, and, as a result, the Shaykh رحمة الله عليه will aid them in fulfilling their worldly needs and in achieving their spiritual aspirations.

 

These beliefs are absolutely incorrect. Such commemorations of anniversaries are innovations in the Shari’ah. Even the celebration of Allah’s (SWT) beloved Nabi’s (SAWS) birth is impermissible—how, then, can it be permissible to observe the anniversary of anyone else’s birth or death, no matter how pious they were? (See the article on Rabi-ul-Awwal for further details.)

 

Additionally, the belief that cooking and distributing special meals pleases the Shaykh’s رحمة الله عليه soul and that he will help people in their worldly and spiritual matters is wrong and can lead to shirk, na’oodhu billah (we seek refuge in Allah (SWT)). Allah (SWT) is undoubtedly sufficient for us in fulfilling our needs and, moreover, He is the only one who can help us. How, then, can we have the audacity of turning to anyone else for help?

 

On top of that, it is not even certain that the Shaykh رحمة الله عليه passed away on the 11th of Rabi-ul-Thani. According to some historians he died on the 9th, while others say he died on the 17th. No matter what the date was, commemorating the Shaykh’s death day in such a manner is totally impermissible.

 

There are certain acts taught to us by Rasulullah (SAWS) that can be done to benefit a deceased Muslim. These acts are known as Isaal-al-Thawaab (sending reward to the deceased) and include reciting Qur’an, making du’a for the deceased person, and giving sadaqah (charity). The deceased keenly waits for his loved ones to send him rewards by making du’a for his maghfirah (forgiveness) and giving sadaqah, etc. on his behalf. However, one must be careful to not transgress the limitations Rasulullah (SAWS) has set for us regarding sending reward to the deceased. For instance, many people believe the practice of Fatihah is a necessary part of the deen. This is untrue and is an innovation to the deen, as it has not been reported that Rasulullah (SAWS) ever ordered or carried out this practice. Anything that leads to a possible alteration of the deen is prohibited and is a major sin.

 

May Allah (SWT) grant all of our pious predecessors and deceased Muslim brothers and sisters maghfirah and Jannat-ul-Firdaus, may He give us the guidance and ability to practice the deen in a manner that is pleasing to Him, and may He protect us from transgressing the limits of the beautiful Shar’iah He has gifted us with. Ameen.

 

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Poem For Those Who Are Striving To Memorize the Quran

Poem For Those Who Are Striving To Memorize the Quran

A Most Noble Task

 

O, servant who strives to memorize Allah’s (SWT) Words,

You have been chosen to perform a most noble task.

It is a task that will take you far in this life and the next;

In blessings upon blessings it will cause you to bask.

 

A Book that will intercede for the one who recites it,

A Book that can cause a mountain to tear apart.

A Book that will serve as a companion in the grave,

A Book that was originally in the Prophet’s (SAWS) heart.

 

That is the Book you have been chosen to memorize,

That is the Book your heart is destined to preserve.

For Allah (SWT) is the Most Generous and Most Kind,

And He bestows us with things we can never deserve.

 

This Qur’an is your guide, your intercessor.

May it give you light in your life and your grave.

May it always be with you and protect you like armor,

In the darkest of paths and the deepest of caves.

 

May it ease your hardships and struggles in life,

May it cheer you up when you’re feeling down.

May it be your friend, your source of light,

May it give your parents a dazzling crown.

 

Keep your tongue moist with the recitation of the Qur’an,

Keep your heart shining with its everlasting noor.

Never let go of this friend Allah (SWT) has given you.

Let it be your guide, your companion, your cure.

 

Keep the Qur’an close to you wherever you go,

Remember the guidance that lies within it.

Practice what it commands and avoid what it forbids,

And soon you’ll be a shining star from which noor emits.

 

By: Hafiza Bint Hanif Subhani

Hifz Teacher Nawal Academy

 

 

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The Month of Rabi-ul-Awwal

The Month of Rabi-ul-Awwal

Rabi-ul-Awwal is the third month of the Islamic calendar. Rabi-ul-Awwal literally means “the first month of spring.”
Rabi-ul-Awwal is a monumental month in Islamic history. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an: “We have sent him (Muhammad SAWS) as a source of mercy for the ‘Aalameen (humans, jinns, and all else that exists)” (Surah al- Anbiya, Ayah 107).

Sun rising behind dark leafless winter treesIndeed, it is in this blessed month of Rabi-ul-Awwal that Allah (SWT) sent our Beloved Nabi (SAWS) into the world to wipe away the darkness of Ayyaam-ul-Jahiliyyah (the Days of Ignorance) and to fill the world with the eternal light of the Qur’an.

In addition to the birth of our Beloved Prophet (SAWS), there are several other significant events that took place in Rabi-ul-Awwal:

  • Rasulullah (SAWS) was bestowed with Nubuwwat (prophethood) in this blessed month.
  • According to several scholars, Mi’raaj occurred in Rabi-ul-Awwal as opposed to Rajab.
  • Rasulullah (SAWS) reached Madinah after Hijrah (migration) in Rabi-ul-Awwal.
  • Rasulullah (SAWS) departed from the world in this month, 63 years after his birth.

Hazrat Abu Qataadah (R) reports that Rasulullah (SAWS) was asked as to why he (SAWS) would fast on Mondays. He (SAWS) replied, “That is the day in which I was born” (Sahih Muslim).

This Hadith illustrates the fact that our commemoration of significant events consists of fasting or performing other acts of worship (such as on the 10th of Muharram). Our celebration of important events should not be similar to those of the Kuffaar (disbelievers). It is therefore unfortunate that many Muslims cross the boundaries of the Shari’ah in observing the birth of our Beloved Nabi (SAWS). For instance, several Muslims participate in the celebrations of Milaad-un-Nabi (“the birthday of the Prophet (SAWS)”), believing it to be a way of expressing their love for Rasulullah (SAWS).

If celebrating the Milaad was permissible then it would also have been performed at the time of Rasulullah (SAWS). Who can possibly have a deeper love for Rasulullah (SAWS) than the Sahabah (R)? However, there was no such practice present amongst Rasulullah (SAWS), the Sahabah (R), or the Tabi’een. The celebration of the Milaad is Bid’ah (an innovation) in Islam. Rasulullah (SAWS) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e., Islam), it will be rejected” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari). Therefore, participating in Milaad-un-Nabi is impermissible.

Additionally, there are many evils that can take place at a Mawlid (a gathering for celebrating Milaad-un-Nabi) such as music, wasting money, missing fardh (obligatory) prayers, and intermingling with members of the opposite gender. Furthermore, the Mawlid resembles the Christians’ celebrations of the birth of the Messiah (AS).

It should also be remembered that our love for Rasulullah (SAWS) and obedience of him is not just confined to the month of Rabi-ul-Awwal. Allah (SWT) sent Rasulullah (SAWS) and allowed him to live the perfect example of a complete way of life for all the believers to follow.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: “Verily for you in the messenger of Allah there was a good example […]” (Al Ahzab, 21)

Also, Rasulullah (SAWS) said “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his children, and mankind in its entirety” (Bukhari).

According to this Hadith, in order to have kaamil (complete) imaan, we must love Rasulullah (SAWS) more than all of mankind. This love should exist all the time and should not be confined to designated month or day. And the best way to express our love for Rasulullah (SAWS) is by obeying him and by following the beautiful example that Allah (SWT) has set for us through him.

May Allah (SWT) shower us with the blessings of Rabi-ul-Awwal, may He allow us to develop an intense love for our Beloved Nabi (SAWS), and may He allow us to become firm adherents to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (SAWS). Ameen.

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