Smile, it’s a charity!

Want to spread good vibes to those around you and making others feel at ease just by looking at you? Smile. It’s simple, it’s easy and it’s free! 

It is distressing to note that some of our scholars have been depicted as angry, unsmiling men who often scold and frown when Islam is known to put much emphasis on friendliness, peace, serenity and kindness. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had set the example of always smiling in his interactions with his Companions to the extent that Abdullah ibn Al-Harith ibn Hazm said,

“I have never seen anyone who smiles more than the Prophet does.”

(At-Tirmidhi)

So, let’s  follow the Prophet’s tradition – don’t forget to smile!

And remind, for indeed, reminders may benefit believers

Have you ever suddenly come across reminders on social media, by the sidewalk, or anywhere, which you feel are exactly what you need at the moment?

Be grateful! Because those reminders you receive may actually come from Allah. 

O Allah, give us the chance to perform Hajj! Ameen.

As Allah is the Most Merciful, He has always given reminders to His servants through any medium including YOU! We, humans are always forgetful. Thus, it’s our obligation to constantly remind each other about the deen, using whatever medium we can access.

Allah has charged believers with the task of enjoining the good, forbidding the wrong and reminding of the truth. Therefore, each reminder a believer receives is important. The Qur’an advises people to enjoin good and forbid evil and to remind one another of their responsibilities.

Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is a communal obligation; if some people do it, the rest are absolved of blame; but if all of them fail to do it, then each one who was able to do it but did not, with no reasonable excuse or fear, is guilty of sin! 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah, His angels, and the inhabitants of heaven and earth, even the ant in its hole and even the fish, send blessings – i.e., pray for good – upon the one who teaches the people good.”

(Tirmidhi).

Giving a good reminder is a great gift we can give to others. Yet, we sometimes run into trouble because of the way we offer it. Not all people are born with the ability to give advice tactfully, or offer constructive criticism effectively. Most people forget that the point of giving advice is to help others be successful and not to demean or belittle their worth or abilities.

Dispensing advice improperly, particularly to a close family member or friend, may jeopardise a valued relationship. The ability to give advice in a positive and beneficial way is an art. Avoid being judgmental. Do not attack the other party’s character. An advice that is perceived as being harsh or judgmental is likely to offend the person hearing it.

And for those who are lucky enough to receive good reminders from someone, take it seriously into your heart. As reminders may benefit the believers, try to make ourselves as part of those who take reminders from others as a gift. 

“Who could do greater wrong than someone who is reminded of the Signs of his Lord and then turns away from them, forgetting all that he has done before? We have placed covers on their hearts, preventing them from understanding it, and heaviness in their ears. Though you call them to guidance, they will, nonetheless, never be guided.”

(Surat al-Kahf: 57)

Still, remind others, as reminders may benefit the believers!


Be Grateful for Everything

If you are grateful, I will give you more

(Ibrahim: 7)

That seems like a very memorable and nice moment for the revert, right?

When we are given favors by someone, we always show our appreciation for them. And the one who is most deserving of thanks and praise from people is Allah S.W.T because of the great favours and blessings that He has bestowed upon His servants in both spiritual and worldly terms. Allah has commanded us to give thanks to Him for those blessings.

As we open the Quran, the very first chapter (Surah al-Fatihah) starts with ‘Alhamdulillah’ which is generally translated as “all praise is for God.” In reality, the word Alhamdulillah signifies gratitude and thankfulness in our daily life. Hence, when someone asks how we are, Muslims often respond with, “Alhamdulillah.”

Gratitude is going beyond words into actions. We can see this in the example of our beloved prophet. It was narrated that Aishah said:

 “When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) performed the solats, he would stand for so long that his feet would become swollen. ‘Aishah said: O Messenger of Allah, Why are you doing this when Allah has forgiven your past and future sins? He said: “O ‘Aishah, should I not be a thankful servant?”

(Bukhari and Muslim) 

The immutable fact is we were created from nothing, and then given everything that we have today such that there is no way we can calculate all the blessings Allah has given us:

“Is, then, He Who creates comparable to any that cannot create? Will you not, then, take heed? For, should you try to count Allah’s blessings, you could never compute them”

(An-Nahl 16:17-19).

Everything that happens to us – including those negative ones such as natural disasters or even events that we may consider to be personal afflictions – are from Allah. They may yet bring some good for us if we know how to perceive and respond to it appropriately. 

The Prophet said:

 “How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him – and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing. If he receives some bounty, he is grateful to Allah and this bounty brings good to him. And if some adversity befalls him, he is patient, and this affliction, too, brings good to him”

(Muslim).

Being grateful to Allah may do wonders, even if you may not discern them readily. For instance, you may be in the middle of a problem and not having the least bit of knowledge about what to do about it, and what would happen next; then suddenly the solution dawns upon you.

Thankfulness liberates the heart from greed, conceit, jealousy and envy. When we are thankful to Allah, we remain mindful of Him and His continuous Mercy on us, and this in turn humbles us and improves our characters.

May Allah allow us to truly acknowledge His constant blessings and favours, so that we could forever be conscious of expressing gratitude and thankfulness to Him.

Be Kind

We often forget that we are all connected. That is to say the joy you spread will eventually find its way back to you. Life is a chain reaction. Everyone has the potential to help eradicate poverty, hunger, disease and wars by causing a ripple effect with one small and selfless deed. Which simply means, if each one of us can be a little kind and spread love to one another, many grave problems in this world may start to diminish.

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Be Humble.

When we find ourselves in a position where we are more fortunate than others, sometimes it is easy to lose sight of our humility. Learn from the mistakes of Iblis. It was this same trap that he fell into. Iblis was once so pious that he was allowed to worship with the angels. But due to his arrogance he openly disobeyed Allah’s order to bow to Adam. He was cast out and became the accursed.

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Eid al-Fitr: A Time for Gratitude and Generosity

During Eid al-Fitr, Muslim families and friends get together to celebrate. The day usually begins with the whole family enjoying a small breakfast. This is the first daytime meal they have after a month-long fasting. Muslims then gather outside or at a mosque to pray together and to listen to the Eid al-Fitr khutbah. There may then also be parades, processions, and other outdoor celebrations. They will then greet each other with “Taqabbala Allahulahu minna wa minkum”, which literally means May Allah accept (the fast and worships) from us, and from you.

Throughout  the day, Muslims rejoice by visiting friends and relatives, hosting food parties and sharing delicious desserts. Usually, children receive new clothes and shoes. Some families also give cash gifts to their elders and relatives.

The celebratory mood, however,may often be accompanied by bittersweet sentiments. Negative feelings of nostalgia may creep in and mar the serenity, spiritual blessings and rewards that come with Ramadan and the act of fasting itself. 

Be that as it may, the Eid al-Fitr serves as another occasion to be grateful to Allah for all that He has blessed us with. The day should encourage us to remember Allah and His kindness and mercy upon us.

Indeed, the holy Eid al-Fitr day allows Muslims to introspect and reflect upon their inner character. Ramadan serves as a character challenge for individuals as it brings out the best and the worst in them. They are brought to a reality check of  their sense of self , their strengths and weaknesses following which they may want subsequently to work upon improving what needs to be improved. The vital gift of Ramadan is self-awareness which is the first step in making an intrinsic change for the better.

It must also be highlighted that Eid al-Fitr enjoins individuals to give portions of their wealth in charity and help those in need. After experiencing personally – by means of the act of fasting in Ramadan – what the poor and needy go through, Muslims are expected to have gained  a greater sense of empathy and community-consciousness, and be encouraged to help those who are not as fortunate as themselves, including those servants living under their roofs.

Eid al Fitr is a rejoiceful day for Muslims as it signifies the fruits of their labour and sacrifice that took place during the observance of Ramadan.  What is even more wonderful is the sense of community and unity that Eid brings forth.

Don’t change yourself only for Ramadan, but change yourself for your entire life!

We are in the end of this holy month. Some of us are indeed turning into veritable zombies from the long fasting hours and lack of sleep as we race to get the most from Ramadan. The holy month usually turns people into better versions of themselves, but for the majority of us, we tend to revert back to our old ways when the month folds up! 

What a waste.

Note that the real change that Ramadan challenges us to achieve s the internal change – a change that positively transforms our lifestyle, character, attitudes, conversations, and habits for good. Allah has described this type of change in the month of Ramadan as follows: “O you who believe, fasting has been ordained on you as it was decreed upon those before you so that you may acquire Taqwa” [Quran 2:183]

If our change is limited to the outer physical practices of fasting then we become slaves to Ramadan, instead of being servants to Allah.

Prophet Muhammad has warned us about those who don’t ‘fast’ from bad conduct : “Allah has no interest in any person’s abstention from eating and drinking, if that person does not give up lying and dishonest actions” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

Even though the real purpose of instituting fasting in Ramadan is to discipline our soul and moral behavior, and to develop sympathy for the less fortunate, it is also a comprehensive tool of change in various spheres of our lives be they  social, economic, intellectual, humanitarian, spiritual, physical, private, public, personal, common, inner and external.

During Ramadan, we are doing our best to make positive changes. From the early hours of the morning as dawn breaks until the later hours of the evening, we carefully schedule our eating, praying and performing other tasks. We are more conscious of time and of our behavior. Some people have even started to be efficient with time management and know the time of Maghrib down to the minute or second, even though they used to be heedless of that before Ramadan. Muslims generally harness their ibadah to reap the rewards, increase their Quran recitation, increase their solah quality, and increase their charity.

So let’s not just waste away what we have learned in the school of Ramadan but strive to make them last our entire life!

May Allah accept your prayers and good deeds this Ramadan and enrich our lives henceforth.

Stay productive in Ramadan

“It’s Ramadan! I’m fasting, I don’t want to do anything else. I need a lot of rest !

This usually emerges in most minds when it come to fasting. Ramadan is that time of the year when we start making excuses as to why we can’t be most productive during fasting. Of course, in the upcoming month, we are still going to be an employee who works, or students who need to attend classes. But does fasting means that we are going to have a lesser performance at whatever we do? 

The answer is to the contrary.  

This is because Allah has instilled Baraqah in this month, which should make our work more successful than we expect it to be. Even the prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions went to war during Ramadan. So why should this fasting month be a reason to be any less productive?

However, it is understandable that it is tough to sustain our productivity during Ramadhan. Therefore, here are some tips to help you have a fruitful Ramadan.

  1. Don’t skip your suhoor! The food we eat has such a big impact on the way our bodies feel. Pick foods that are nutritious and that give you energy for the day. Have a bowl of oatmeal, rather than a bowl of sugary cereal, for suhoor, along with plentiful fruits, and a glass of milk.
  2. Take a power nap in the day, either before or after zuhoor. For those of us who work or have to go to school, the day can seem so long, especially when we’re not eating. It’s important to retain our energy. However, it should be just a short nap, don’t sleep all the day!
  3. Make a to-do-list. A proper plan for the day is always good as it will encourage you to finish your daily task. Make sure to put the important things to be done early in the day.
  4. Force yourself to grab all the Ramadan rewards! It’s not just to be productive in the worldly aspect, but to make more efforts in our ibadah. This is a month of barakah, which happens once a year, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll have another Ramadan. Grab this opportunity, push yourself to the limit to read the Quran, to perform the  congregational prayers, taraweeh, and to give charity.

Stay productive in Ramadan, guys!

Start your day with Bismillah

Start your day with Bismillah
(The author of the poem has give permission to do some editing especially regarding the grammar):

And now just like before,
The dawn at four,
The stars leaving all,
The big ones and even that small.

Clouds wear white,
Here’s a goodbye to another night,
Sun spreads it’s first ray,
It somehow finds the easy way.

It is all nothing but His grace.
Window sheets curl in joy,
The bright lights through my window,
Oh, the way they annoy.

I pull myself out of bed,
As I have to get my prayer mat spread,
I know prayer mat to be the place,
Where I can get all the grace.

As the sun come out red,
I help myself to milk and bread,
All praise belong to HIM alone,
Who’s up above the seven heavens,
On His majestic throne.

Only He is worthy of worship,
Trust Him in your hardship,
His mercy encompasses everything,
And I got to worry about nothing,
In Him I have believed,
Even in the rough days,
That I have lived.

Credit to @ab_tanzeem and @orphanage_helper for this poem.