Don’t forget to pay Zakat al-Fitr

The month of Ramadan is celebrated by all Muslims, rich or poor, due to several reasons which include the charitable acts emphasized in Islam. There are various types of charity given during Ramadan such as Zakat Al-Fitr,  Zakat Al-Mal, Sadaqah etc.

During the month of Ramadan, we are given a chance to collect our rewards manifold times. Not only does Ramadan provide us with the opportunity to cleanse our past sins, but also that  it is during Ramadan that every act of goodness is multiplied 70 times by Allah (SWT).

Zakat al-Fitr is exclusive to the month of Ramadan and can be paid any time after the start of the holy month. The latest time one can pay is before the Eid prayer so that the needy can benefit in time for Eid. So, don’t forget to pay Zakat al-Fitr!

Ramadan Reminders – Don’t Delay Iftar

While you may think you would get more rewards for enduring your hunger by delaying your Iftar – it’s actually the total opposite. Allah wishes us ease, not hardship. The prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The people will remain upon goodness so long as they hasten to break the fast. Hasten to break the fast, for the Jews delay it.” (Ibn Majah)

Ramadan Reminders – Read Al-Quran

Like Dhikr, reading the Quran is something many of us tend to forget. We get so caught up in food preparation, after going to work and school, and forget that Ramadan is the month that the Quran was revealed. It is vital that we read it and understand it as much as we can. Read the Quran everyday during Ramadan and make effort to read the translation of it, no matter what language you speak.

Reciting the Qur’an may become a way to escape the heat and thirst caused by the weather, as well as removing ourselves from the temptations of backbiting, gossiping, and wasting time. Make a goal to complete reciting the Quran during the Ramadan, purely for pleasing Allah (SWT) and obtaining greater rewards. Remind yourself often about your intention because this alone works as a great encouragement.

Reciting the Qur’an is a source of barakah and, as we know, barakah is a key to productivity. Therefore we must aim to recite it in anticipation of Allah’s pleasure and barakah from Him. Don’t let our empty stomach reduce our productivity in gaining rewards during Ramadan.

Indeed reading the Arabic words contains reward and you attain 10 rewards for every single letter that you pronounce. But imagine reading the Quran in the month of Ramadan, just how enormous the rewards will be?

Ramadan is a blessed month of the year. We can indulge more in reciting Quran to receive immense rewards and get closer to Allah. This can be quite easy for some, and a challenge for others. The easiest step to complete reading the  Quran is by setting an intention, drawing up a plan, implement the plan, and remain consistent!

All the best in completing reading up the Quran as many times as you can!

Ramadan Reminders – Don’t Miss Your Suhoor

Don’t miss the Suhoor meal. It should be a wholesome and moderate meal that is filling and provides energy for the fasting hours ahead. Not eating Suhoor can lead to many unexpected situations including having a really bad headache the next day especially due to inadequate food and water in your body.  If you have not noticed, skipping Suhoor may lead to a loss of concentration the next day, which isn’t something you want to happen during work or while driving.

Delaying Suhoor is also a part of the Sunnah and the Prophet’s companions would delay eating Suhoor until as close to Fajr as possible. One must stop eating when the dawn appears.

Moreover, Suhoor is also a blessed time, the third part of the night and the best time to pray to Allah (SWT), make dua and seek forgiveness. The prophet said: “Take meal a little before dawn, for there is a blessing in taking meal at that time.” (Sahih Muslim No. 2412)

So, don’t miss your Suhoor!

Ramadan Reminders – Make A Lot of Dua’s

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me.”(Surah Baqarah: 186).

A Du’a is a conversation with Allah, our Creator, our Lord and Master, the All Knowing, the All Powerful. This act in itself is of extraordinary significance. It is the most uplifting, liberating, empowering, and transforming conversation a person can ever have. We turn to Him because we know that He alone can lift our sufferings and solve our problems. We feel relieved after narrating our difficulties to our Creator. We feel empowered after having communicated with the All Mighty. We sense His mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful. We get a new commitment to follow His path for that is the only path for success. We feel blessed with each such commitment.

In every difficulty our first action is du’a, as is our last. We ask Allah to show us the way to handle that difficulty; we seek His help in following the path He shows to us; we seek His aid in making our efforts successful. When we fall sick, we know that we cannot find the right doctor without His Will; that the best doctor may not be able to diagnose our condition without His Command; that the best treatment plan will not succeed without His Permission. We make du’a for all of these. We make dua before we seek medical help, while we are receiving it and after it has been delivered. The same is true for all of the other difficulties we may encounter.

The power of du’a itself is already magnificent, so what is the status of a du’a made while fasting Ramadan?  The Prophet SAW (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“The supplications of three persons are never turned away: a just ruler, a fasting person until he breaks his fast, and the supplication of an oppressed person which is raised by Allah to the clouds on the Day of Resurrection, and the gates of heaven are opened for it and Allah says: By My might, I will help you even if it is after a while” (Sunan Ibn Majah No. 1624).

So let us not waste any time in the month of Ramadan and let us utilize this month wisely by increasing our du’as to the One who responds to all invocations. When you break your fast at the time of Iftar, make du’a. When you pray Qiyamul Layl in the night of Ramadan, make du’a. When you are in the Masjid between the Adhan and the Iqamah, make du’a.

What is Ibadah? It’s ‘slavery’, but that’s the best part of Islam.

What is Ibadah? It’s ‘slavery’, but that’s the best part of Islam.

Because this ‘slavery’ grants you liberty: wait, am I reading this right?

This might be life’s eternal question: what is the purpose of our being here, alive in this world? What are we, and why we?

Being here in this world are we meant to be  growing up, chasing our dream, leaving behind some legacies, and returning to earth ? That’s it?

Or are there a more ultimate purpose ? We need to be enlightened on this curious purpose?

Allah, the Almighty Lord and the Creator of us, sent down His Word to satisfy this eternal curiosity of mankind. And you know what? To your surprise, we are but  ‘slaves’ in this world!

“And I (Allah) did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (al-Quran 51:56)

Ibadah: a Total Submission

In Arabic, the word ‘Ibadah’ means submission and surrender. The same derived word ‘Ya’buduni’ (translated as worshipping Me) is used in the said Quranic verse, grammatically to indicate current, common and ever-happening states, as well as the future.

Let us rephrase it for you: it’s total, absolute and eternal submission to Allah. In Islam, life is but a full-time ‘slavery’ to Him solely.

From that precept come the decreed acts of worship: the specific tasks we have to perform in our life as His ‘slave’ and worshipper. Among the well-known are the five daily prayers and fasting throughout the  month of Ramadhan.

There are also the obligations to adhere to the ordained practices. Some of these pertain to   character building (the akhlak) which encompasses enacting divine injunctions of  ethics, principles, morals, and much more.

It is expected of  a full-time ‘slave’ of a comprehensive religion to accept that Islam guides on every aspect of life as Allah decrees. These constitute principles that relate to the economy, politics, education, parenting, community, hygiene, research and the like.

Does it sound restricting? No, it’s liberating, in fact!

How can restricting be liberating? You might be interested in this infamous story in Islamic history during the battle of Qadisiyah. The Persian general, Rustum, requested from Rabi’ bin Amir, a companion of Prophet Muhammad, to shed light on their intention regarding the battle.

Rabi’ delivered to him a brief, inspirational declaration on liberating people through the ‘slavery’ of Islam:

“Allah has sent us to deliver whomsoever He wishes of mankind from subjugation to the creation to the servitude and worship of Allah; from the narrowness of the dunya (the world) to the vastness of the akhirah (the Hereafter), and from the injustices of (fabricated) religions and ideologies to the justice of Islam.”

Being a Muslim is to be liberated from being  enslaved by other people. All people are the creation of Allah, hence worshipping the creations is a grave degradation to the nobility of mankind.

Allah is the only One deserving of servitude, not the aristocrats or the corrupt leaders who exercise control beyond what is determined by Him.

Being a Muslim is to be liberated from being a slave to the worldly life. The world is but a sowing land to be reaped in the hereafter. We should give our best in this life, but only for the purpose of gaining Allah’s pleasure and securing the best rewards in the hereafter.

In the end, the righteous deeds resulting from our worldly performance are what really matters, not those accomplishments themselves.

Being a Muslim is is to be liberated  from being lost, wandering in this world without a purpose. Allah sent down the comprehensive guidance through the Quran and the Prophetic traditions. With  these super guides other ideologies about life should be redundant.

Some consider liberation as an absolute right and sanction for them to do anything they think is good. It does not occur to them that they might end up trapped by their limited and fallible thought. By contrast,  Allah offers an all embracing guide of life as befits the encompassing perspective and wisdom of a Supreme Creator, Designer and Arbiter.

“(Mention, O Muhammad), when the wife of ‘Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb as muharraran, so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” (al-Quran 3:35)

Commenting on the above verse, an Islamic scholar, Syed Qutb explained that the term ‘muharraran’ used here is derived from the root word of “freedom” or “liberation” — al-Hurr.

This term  signifies that no one is truly free unless and until he devotes himself totally to God, and liberating himself from servitude to anyone, anything, or any value.

Thus the submission to Allah alone indicates total freedom. Any other situation is a form of slavery however it disguises under the name of freedom or liberty.

It’s a ‘slavery’ built on faith and love

Being a worshipper — a ‘slave’ — of Allah is to experience  a  relationship of pure love. We will discover a vast expression of Allah’s love for us: how concerned is He with every bit of our life affairs, how delighted is He to forgive us when we return to Him, how caring is He about our wellbeing that He persistently reminds us to avoid harm.

Allah sent down trainers — the prophets — to introduce us to Him. Sometimes He grants us with some trials and challenges so we would rely greater on Him and become stronger in our faith.

Allah never stints from giving us mercy and bounties, despite all the mistakes we have committed before Him.

Being His beloved slave, we portray our love to Him by worshipping Him and live according to what He has assigned us. We do everything in our life to please Him and try our best not to incur His wrath.

We bear strong faith in the destiny that He has written for us. At the same time, we give our best effort to make a great ending.

By virtue of our sincere devotion to Him, we hope that He will be pleased with us and prepare the best rewards for us in the Hereafter.

Ibadah in Islam — in all its established forms  through all the deeds which we perform to please Allah — is the best manifestation of life. It provides us with the very purpose of life itself.

And one thing for sure, it is the best part that makes Islam worth accepting and embracing: the virtuous, direct relationship with Allah , the real Most Supreme Lord of the Universe that we won’t find anywhere else.

Ramadan Reminders – Guard your tongue

Fasting during Ramadan does not only consist of refraining from food and drink, but also that  we must protect ourselves from using bad language, backbiting, lying, and giving in to anger. Unfortunately, for many of us, refraining from food also means an increase in anger and irritability, causing us to say some things we probably do not mean to.

It happens to all of us sometimes. In the heat of the moment we tend not to be aware of what is coming out of our mouths and sometimes, the words that do come out are not befitting of a servant of God to utter. It is at these times that we need to be extra mindful of what we are saying precisely because this is when we lose control over our tongue. Everything we utter, no matter how insignificant we believe it to be, is being written down by the angels and will be shown to us on the Day of Judgment.

This Ramadan is a perfect time to intensify our practice of cultivating a disciplined tongue. These are not only days of peak restraint but also of increasingly remembering God, seeking forgiveness and longing for salvation.

Guard your tongue, don’t make it as the reason for your efforts to gain His blessings rejected.

Ramadan Reminders – Don’t waste Food!

In Islam, there are many verses in the Quran and numerous hadiths on eating and matters associated with it. Food is seen as not only to fulfil one’s need or hunger, but also as something that benefits our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Additionally, food is also something that connects humans to The Creator through the sense of dependency, gratefulness and responsibility

But in some countries, a third of all food goes to waste. This has a negative impact on the environment and also goes against the teachings of Islam.

Allah command Muslims to avoid waste – “Eat and drink but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not those who waste.” (Quran 7:31) The Prophet (pbuh) encouraged people to avoid leaving leftovers, saying, “You do not know which part of your food carries the blessings.”

To avoid wasting food, Muslims must uphold the true teaching of Islam especially moderation in buying, preparing and eating food. In order to achieve that, planning what to buy and eat is crucial. We must have certain skills to manage our food. Thus, we should learn those skills in order to be a good consumer and to avoid wastage.

We must try our best not to waste food. Remember that it is not easy to produce food. There are people who endure hardship in order to provide the food on our table. Food is a blessing from Allah, thus do not waste it. Even more so in the glorious month of Ramadan, we must make an extra effort to avoid wasting food.

Ramadan Reminders – Eat less, share more

Eat less, share more.

Ramadan teaches us to understand how it feels to be poor and hungry. Many people around the world live in dire poverty, with very little means to overcome the misery they live in. Young children are forced to live under extremely miserable conditions. They have to struggle daily to get food, many have no homes or shelters, and some have to join the workforce to earn for their families. For such children, childhood as a period of carefree days filled with play and laughter is non-existent. Toys, delicious food, new clothes and all the other comforts of life taken for granted by many of us, are all unattainable dreams for them.

It is the duty of those who are fortunate in terms of material wealth, to help the less fortunate in different parts of the world. An important point to remember is that the wealth which human beings enjoy actually belongs to Allah. The Qur’an continuously brings men’s attention to the fact that wealth is only Allah’s, and that man is no more than a proxy of God in supervising it; consequently, man should not disobey God regarding the trust put under his charge. “Allah is the Owner of heavens and the earth: To God belongs the dominion of heavens and the earth” (3: 189). “And it is God Who provides sustenance to all people: Is there a Creator, other than God, to give you sustenance from heaven or earth?” (35: 3).

Ramadan is a month of fast, not a month of feast. It is not about eating, but feeding.

Just as fasting teaches us to sympathize with the poor and the needy, it also teaches us to be grateful for all the blessings of the Almighty we enjoy. The food and wholesome drinks so abundantly available are great blessings of Allah. Because we have them everyday, we do not realize their importance. But when we are forced to restrain ourselves while fasting, we understand the importance of having enough to eat and satisfy the pangs of hunger.

Learning from this Ramadan, together we shall start to eat less, and share more.