Monthly Archives: August 2009

Allah loves

Allah loves:

1. Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers):

“And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” [2:195]

“Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity , who repress anger , and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” [3:134]

“So, because of their breach of their covenant, We cursed them and made their hearts grow hard. They change the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the Message that was sent to them. And you will not cease to discover deceit in them, except a few of them. But forgive them and overlook (their misdeeds). Verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (good-doers).” [5:13]

“Those who believe and do righteous good deeds, there is no sin on them for what they ate (in the past), if they fear Allah (by keeping away from His forbidden things), and believe and do righteous good deeds, and again fear Allah and believe, and once again fear Allah and do good deeds with Ihsan (perfection). And Allah loves the good-doers.” [5:93]

2. Al-Muttaqun (the pious):

“Yes, whoever fulfils his pledge and fears Allah much; verily, then Allah loves those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” [3:76]

“Except those of the Mushrikun (see V.2:105) with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfil their treaty to them for the end of their term. Surely Allah loves Al-Mattaqun (the pious).” [9:4]

“How can there be a covenant with Allah and with His Messenger for the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) except those with whom you made a covenant near Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah)? So long as they are true to you, stand you true to them. Verily, Allah loves Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” [9:7]

3. As-Sabirun (the patient):

“And many a Prophet (i.e. many from amongst the Prophets) fought (in Allah’s Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Sabirun (the patient).” [3:146]

4. At-Tawabin (those who repent):

“They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they are purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers).” [2:222]

5. Al-Mutatahirin (those who purify themselves):

“They ask you concerning menstruation. Say: that is an Adha (a harmful thing for a husband to have a sexual intercourse with his wife while she is having her menses), therefore keep away from women during menses and go not unto them till they are purified (from menses and have taken a bath). And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah has ordained for you (go in unto them in any manner as long as it is in their vagina). Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and loves those who purify themselves (by taking a bath and cleaning and washing thoroughly their private parts, bodies, for their prayers).” [2:222]

“Never stand you therein. Verily, the mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety is more worthy that you stand therein (to pray). In it are men who love to clean and to purify themselves. And Allah loves those who make themselves clean and pure [i.e. who clean their private parts with dust (which has the properties of soap) and water from urine and stools, after answering the call of nature].” [9:108]

6. Al-Mutawakilin (those who put their trust in Him):

“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” [3:159]

7. Al-Muqsitin (those who act justly):

“(They like to) listen to falsehood, to devour anything forbidden. So if they come to you (O Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), either judge between them, or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they cannot hurt you in the least. And if you judge, judge with justice between them. Verily, Allah loves those who act justly.” [5:42]

“And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both. But if one of them outrages against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which outrages till it complies with the Command of Allah. Then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are the equitable.” [49:9]


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Be a leader

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

–Peter F. Drucker

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Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life

Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life
Make Ramadan a Starting Point in Your Life. Image credit: euthman

The month of Ramadan is a gift from our Lord. Its days are the sweetest of days and its nights are the most rewarding. Allah gives us this gift so we may purify ourselves, fortify our character, and aspire to greater spiritual heights, thereby attaining eternal bliss. It is a time for us to clean our slates and be forgiven our sins. It is a real opportunity for us to renew our commitment to our faith, perfect our moral character, and earn Allah’s pleasure.

This is why Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would give glad tidings to his Companions on the arrival of Ramadan:

The month of Ramadan has come to you, a blessed month, wherein Allah has enjoined fasting. It is a time when the gates of Paradise are opened, those of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained. In it is a night greater than a thousand months. Whoever is denied its goodness is truly bereft. [Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Nasâ’î]

Ibn Rajab says:

How can there be anything but glad tidings for the believer to hear that the gates of Paradise are open? How can there be anything but glad tidings for the sinner to hear that the gates of Hell are closed? How can any sane person not embrace the glad tidings that the devils are chained? How can this time of year even be compared to any other time?

Three Simple Steps

There are three simple steps we should take if we wish to make Ramadan a starting point to bettering our lives.

1. First, start out by feeling more responsible about how you behave in Ramadan.

In light of the great opportunities that Ramadan presents us with, we should feel an acute sense of responsibility about everything we say and do in Ramadan. This is the first critical step. We are all bound by the deeds that we do, and we will be held accountable by Allah to fulfill our duties and shun sinful deeds.

2. Work to infuse yourself with the spirit of this special month.

Ramadan has its own incomparable atmosphere. No other time of year is quite like it. Allah has singled out Ramadan for many blessings. He has given the month a number of distinctions. The most emphatic of these is when the Prophet declared that: “Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith, seeking Allah’s reward, will be forgiven all previous sins.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

This is an immense opportunity to renew our faith. The chance to put our accumulated sins behind us really should inspire us and invigorate us.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Our faith gets worn out and shabby just like our clothing, so ask Allah to renew your faith.” [Sahîh al-Jâmi` al-Saghîr (1590)]

The special atmosphere of Ramadan helps us to put our faith into practice, ad it is through practice that we truly reform our inner selves. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Knowledge comes by way of learning, a patient character comes by practicing patience, striving for good brings good, and shunning evil protects one from evil.”

3. Set for yourself practical and attainable Ramadan resolutions.

We should consider what we wish to accomplish in the blessed days and nights of Ramadan. We should be confident about ourselves and desire to do as much as we can, but at the same time be realistic about our time and our capabilities. We should set for ourselves genuinely reachable goals.

Pick up a pen and paper and write down what you want to accomplish this Ramadan. Plan out your Ramadan schedule so to your goals and aims will be perfectly clear to you and as well as how you are going to fit those goals into your already busy schedule. It is important to plan well, since as the old saying goes: “Whoever plans poorly, plans for failure.”

Be honest with yourself. Write down what you wish to achieve in all aspects of your life: in your faith, character, interpersonal dealings, cultural development, et cetera. Avoid negative statements. Be positive in your choice of words, like: “I want to do so and so.” “I want to achieve such and such.”

After Ramadan

Ramadan is a month wherein it is easy to perform good deeds. We observe the fast on a daily basis for the sake of our Lord. It is a time when worship and the remembrance of Allah become a believer’s habit. The fast schedules our daily activities. We start our day with our pre-dawn meal and end it by breaking our fasts. We balance out our bodily nourishment with our spiritual enrichment.

Ramadan is a practical course for us in moral development, charity, and good conduct. We are reminded to help the less fortunate and to strive against our selfish tendencies. We must make sure to make use of what we learn in this course after the course comes to an end.

Ibn Rajab identifies two kinds of resolve: The first is the resolve we have to undertake a course of action. This is the resolve that gets things going. The second kind of resolve is the resolve to persevere. This is the resolve that gets us to our goals.

The devils are chained for a whole moth. In this time, we can accustom ourselves to improving our religious observance and our character. We should keep in mind that our Lord is our Lord in Ramadan and throughout the year. What we achieve in Ramadan is a real achievement when it becomes part and parcel of our lives.


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When Should Children Be Encouraged to Fast?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, thanks for your question. We implore Allah to guide our children to the best and to guide us all to that which pleases Him, Amen.

It is well known that fasting, like other obligatory acts of worship, becomes mandatory when the person reaches the age of puberty. As regards children, we would like to stress that it is highly desirable to encourage them to fast when they reach the age of seven if they are physically capable of doing so.

Here, the prominent Saudi Islamic lecturer and author, Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, states the following:

It is encouraged that children observe fasting when they reach the age of seven, if they are physically capable of bearing it.

Some Muslim scholars state that the child should be physically disciplined if he does not fast by the age of 10, which is the same rule that is applied to prayer. This is stated in the book of Al-Mughni. Al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwadh (may Allah be pleased with her) said about fasting `Ashoura’ at the time when it was mandatory to fast it and not voluntary: We used to make our young children fast, and we made them a toy made out of wool. If one of the them cried (wanting) food, we would give him the toy to distract him until it was time to break the fast. (Reported by Al-Bukhari ). (`Ashoura’ is the tenth day of the month of Muharram. Although fasting this day is now voluntary, the majority of Muslims usually fast it.)

Some people are quite lenient and lax when it comes to making their children fast. A situation may even arise where the young child feels enthusiastic and chooses to fast and is physically capable of doing so, then his father or mother order him to break his fast claiming that it is out of sympathy. Little do they know that real sympathy is in stressing the importance of fasting and teaching the child about it. Allah Almighty says, (O you who believe! Ward yourselves and your families off from a fire (Hell) whose fuel is of men and stones, over which are appointed angels stern and severe, who do not disobey the commands they receive from Allah, and execute that which they are commanded.) (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Also, we must pay extra attention to the young girl when she first starts fasting after she reaches puberty. There is a possibility that she will fast while she has her period (the first time) out of shame or shyness, and end up not making up the days later on.

Excerpted with modifications from

Moreover, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, adds:

Fasting, like all the other obligations in Islam, becomes mandatory at bulugh. That is when a person reaches the age of puberty. There is a Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Tell your children to pray when they are seven years old and discipline them if they don’t when they are ten years old.”

The same can be said about fasting. That is, we should encourage our children to fast when they are seven years old and we should emphasize fasting to them when they are ten, but it becomes obligatory when they reach the age of puberty.


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Ramadan & Weight Lifting: How to Maintain Muscle & Strength

Ramadan Weight Lifting
Ramadan & Weight Lifting. Image credit: Noushad Akambadam.

Ramadan 2009 starts August 21st and lasts until September 20th. During this period, practicing Muslims fast from dusk till dawn. This is a complete fast: you eat nothing, but also don’t drink. Not even water.

Weight lifting can be hard during Ramadan. Especially since it falls during the warmer summer months this year and the following ones. This post will teach you how to train and what to eat for best results during Ramadan.

What Is Ramadan?
The 9th month in the Islamic calender is the Ramadan. All practicing Muslims drink and eat nothing from dusk till dawn. The goal of fasting is to teach you patience, discipline, modesty & spirituality.

Ramadan stresses prayers, fasting, charity and self-accountability. You want to gain awareness and empathy for the poor. Practicing Muslims pray 5 times per day, including at dusk and dawn.

The Islamic calender is 11-12 days shorter than the solar year. This is because it’s a lunar calender, based on moon cycles. That’s why the Ramadan migrates through the seasons. Example:

  • Ramadan 2009: 21st August – 20th September
  • Ramadan 2010: 10th August – 9th September
  • Ramadan 2011: 1st August – 30th August
  • Ramadan 2012: 20th July – 19th August
  • Ramadan 2013: 9th July – 8th August

Ramadan during the summer is harder: longer fasts and shorter feeds. Weight lifting gets harder too because you can’t drink during the fast. And your nights are shorter which can cause sleep deprivation.

Common Mistakes During Ramadan.
Lack of planning is the biggest mistake you can do during Ramadan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Make a plan for your diet, training, job, sleep. More errors to avoid:

  • Not Training. You won’t lose much muscle & strength if you stop weight lifting during Ramadan. But you’ll tend to stick to your diet less. And this can cause more muscle/strength loss and fat gains than not lifting.
  • Not Eating Healthy. Lots of people gain fat during Ramadan. The main reason for this is that a lot of the Ramadan foods are high in sugars & fats. Example: harira soup, often served with bread/dates.
  • Not Eating Enough. Food is energy. If you don’t eat enough you’ll lack energy at the gym and won’t recover well. You must focus on caloric dense foods to get the most out of your feeding window.
  • Not Sleeping Enough. Short nights can cause sleep deprivation. This can kill your motivation to go to the gym. Consider naps.

Popular Fasting Myths.
I highly recommend you get a copy of Eat Stop Eat. It has all the research regarding fasting and its benefits. Some myths:

  • Metabolism Slows Down. Studies show that fasting doesn’t decrease your metabolism. And more frequent meals don’t increase it neither.
  • Muscle & Strength Loss. Fasting doesn’t cause muscle loss. You’ll most likely feel stronger & more aggressive training fasted.
  • Low Energy. You’ll have energy if you eat enough during your feeding window. Productivity will increase since you’re not wasting time on food.

When To Lift Weights During Ramadan.
Train fasted: 2 hours before you break your fast. This way you can eat several times post workout to help recovery. You also maximize your feeding window since you don’t spend it training.

You should feel stronger and more aggressive training fasted. If you don’t: you’re not eating enough food during the feed. Or it’s psychological.

Predators in the wild only hunt when they are hungry.

– Ori Hofmekler, The Warrior Diet.

How to Lose Fat During Ramadan. Fasting improves fat loss. You can get away with more carbs than you would usually, without gaining fat. Tips:

  • Get Stronger. Strength training prevents muscle loss. Keep lifting weights and work at getting stronger. Check StrongLifts 5×5.
  • Eat Healthy. Eat whole, unprocessed foods 90% of the time. Ground round, chicken breast, tuna cans, oats, rice, pasta, bananas, eggs, …
  • Drink Water. Avoid coffee & green tea: they’re diuretics. Drink water to avoid dehydration. Aim for 1 gallon between dusk & dawn.
  • Avoid Junk Food. Lots of people gain weight during Ramadan because they gorge themselves with foods that aren’t healthy. Avoid.
  • Avoid Cardio. You can’t drink water during the fast so cardio or HIIT is a bad idea. Stick with lifting only until Ramadan ends.

How to Gain Weight During Ramadan
. Gorging yourself with food goes against the spirit of Ramadan. Meet your daily caloric needs but don’t be a pig. Tips:

  • GOMAD. Drink 4 liters whole milk per day. Spread your intake between dusk and dawn. Read the GOMAD guide for more info.
  • Eat Caloric Dense Foods. White paste is the best food you can choose: 250g contains 1000kcal. Try also: rice, mixed nuts, bananas.
  • Get Stronger. The fastest way to build muscle mass is to get stronger. Squat heavy & frequently. Check the StrongLifts 5×5 routine.
  • Make Liquid Meals. Digest faster than solid meals. Drink lots of whole milk. Make smoothies: banana, oats, plain fat free yogurt, milk.
  • Drink Water. Milk is 87% water so you won’t need to drink that much water on top of your daily gallon of whole milk.
  • Use Fitday. Track everything. Aim for +5000kcal/day. 1 gallon whole milk and 500g pasta per day equals 4500kcal.

Ramadan & StrongLifts 5×5
. Training fasted works if you eat well during the feeding window. Thirst can be a problem if you’re used to drinking a lot or if it’s warm. Best is to cut down your workout time. Tips:

  • Train Fasted. Train 2 hours before breaking your fast. This way you can eat several meals post workout to help your recovery.
  • Switch to 3×5. Do 3×5 instead of 5×5 on all exercises (Deadlift 1×5). Keep doing the StrongLifts 5×5 routine 3x/week.
  • Drop The Assistance Exercises. Do Squats, Deadlifts, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Inverted Rows only during the Ramadan period.

Example Ramadan Training & Diet Plan.
The length of fast/feed changes as the days go by and depending on the season. In 2009 these are the starting and ending times of Ramadan in Brussels, Belgium:

  • First day: 21st August 2009: 4:22am – 8:57pm
  • Last day: 20th September 2009: 5:32am – 7:50pm

Ramadan gets easier as the days go by since the fast gets 2 hours shorter. Sleep deprivation can be problem and will kill your motivation. Consider naps. Example schedule during Ramadan:

  • 7pm: lift weights. 3-4 compound exercises for 1 hour max.
  • 9pm: break fast. Proteins & carbs. Pasta, tomato sauce, ground round.
  • 10pm: proteins & carbs. Example: tuna, brown rice, pineapple.
  • 11pm: light pre-bed meal. Cottage cheese, berries, ground flax seeds.
  • 11:30pm: bedtime
  • 3:30am: breakfast: eggs, veggies, meat. Back in bed after 1st prayer.
  • 7am: wake up, get ready for work
  • 1pm: 30mins nap
  • 5pm: 1 hour nap pre-workout

While Ramadan is challenging this summer with the short feeding times, don’t let it get into your head. You can progress regardless. I won’t do Ramadan since I’m atheist. But I fast 2x/week for 24h. And training is going great.


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Precautions to Make this Ramadan Better

The month of Ramadan is almost here and like every year before the start of the month, our E-mail inboxes flood with inspiring E-mails reminding us about the countless blessings of this noble month. Ramadan – as most of these reminders emphasize – is the Month of Quran, the Month of Taqwa, the Month of Prayers, the Month of Charity and the Month of Remembrance of Allah. This month provides a system to help us organize, struggle and liberate ourselves from the addictions, temptations and unbridled desires that sometimes drive our lives more than our thought out plans and good intentions. Ramadan is therefore a month for the spiritual and physical rejuvenation of oneself and the wise and fortunate amongst us are those that reap the most of what this month has to offer.

In preparing ourselves for this year’s Ramadan, it may be beneficial to recall last year’s Ramadan to assess how successful were we in aligning our behaviors with the spirit of Ramadan. If we reflect and ponder, we can most likely recognize the many ways where we may have fallen short in fulfilling the spirit of Ramadan and how we can refocus to potentially make this year’s Ramadan better than last. \

Getting the Food Mania Under Control

First, let’s discuss what’s hard to ignore in Ramadan – FOOD. Food, as we all know, becomes the center of attention in this month. Walk in any store frequented by Muslims a day or two before Ramadan and Muslims’ food frenzy becomes quite clear. The sight of a Muslim’s shopping cart – packed to the brim with a variety and volume of food offers an amazing as well as an amusing scene. Such a view is common only when people are restocking to get ready for an emergency like an impending hurricane. It just can’t be that everyone’s kitchen shelves become empty immediately at the start of the month. More likely, this can be attributed to a defense mechanism that the subconscious triggers against an impending trauma – a defense to cope with the hunger and thirst while fasting during the day. However, stocking for food isn’t that problematic usually – until that shopping frenzy translates in overeating and other eating disorders and habits.

Barring any health and medical challenges, fasting otherwise is known to provide numerous health benefits. However, overeating during iftar and suhoor, eating fatty, fried and other unhealthy foods, and stuffing our bellies too quickly are some of the major health hazards that potentially can nullify the health benefits gained during fasting. In addition to controlling the size of our portions, we do not have to eat or taste everything that crosses our tables, though our temptations may tell us otherwise. In this Ramadan, let’s strive to substitute unhealthy items with healthy foods. Keeping our food and drink intake to moderate and light levels also provides the added benefit of helping us to stay focused in prayers that follow Iftar and Suhoor rather than feeling physically uncomfortable and guilty of unhealthy eating. Remember, the prophet’s food intake was very light and he (saws) said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1381), Ibn Maajah (3349); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265).”

Use Time to your advantage

“Time” in Ramadan, as we all know, passes quickly. The prayers at their prescribed times, Taraweeh prayers, Iftar and Suhoor meals leave little time for other activities. To top it all off, by packing social activities in the remaining pockets, the time goes even faster. The amount of time spent on “food” related activities in Ramadan can become excessive. Add up the time for shopping for food, waiting to eat, preparing food, planning for all social activities related to food (e.g. Iftar) and the time spent socializing during the Ramadan feasts can compromise the spirit of Ramadan.

The theme of Ramadan – we should tell ourselves and others – is not supposed to be food, socializations, lavish iftar parties, and fashion shows. By not dedicating time to Quran, extra prayers, reflection and repentance, Dua to Allah, and so much more, we lose opportunities for personal atonement and heavenly rewards. Good deeds in this month get multiplied manifold. So, why not be careful with our time during Ramdan?

For this Ramadan, we should strive therefore to make a few deliberate and focused changes to collect more blessings and rewards. Rather than merely going with the flow of the family and the community members around us, we can plan to take charge of our time. By substituting self centered and social activities with Ramadan specific activities such as Quran recitations, extra prayers, dhikr, helping the needy, etc. we can hope and pray to get closer to Allah this time. Perhaps, that can help in washing away those sins that we accumulate courtesy of our temptations and unbridled desires.

Atonement for Sins

Ramadan is the month of seeking forgiveness from sins. It helps to ponder on how we accumulate sins, the way sins impact our lives, and how cleansing from them can make our life in this world and in the hereafter better. Sins are those roadblocks that we personally put on our own paths to worldly happiness and in the hereafter. We engage in those sins by the hour – daily, weekly and yearly. Yet, do we repent for those sins? Do we commit ourselves to not commit those sins again? Unfortunately, in many cases we are not even aware of committing those sins. Ramadan provides us the opportunity to ask for heartfelt forgiveness from those sins. The Prophet (may Allah send His blessing and peace upon him) said, “Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent.” (Ibn Maajah). In this Ramadan, let’s strive not to be amongst those unfortunate ones who barely spend anytime reflecting on their sins and transgressions.

Training ourselves for prayer and masjid etiquettes

Ramadan is the month of prayers and Taraweeh. Through longer prayers and Quran recitation, Taraweeh provides us more time to be closer to Allah and listen to and ponder on Quran. By staying focused in a state of Khushu or piety for that long can be challenging, but longer prayers also provide the opportunity to correct and calibrate those Khushu levels every time our minds lose focus. Taraweeh prayers are not about merely taking credit to stand behind the Imam while he finishes the Quran in melodious recitations. Rather, Taraweeh is about understanding what is being recited and to become closer to the One for whom you made all that effort in the first place. By perfecting khushu levels during Taraweeh prayers we can extend this benefit to other prayers as well. After all, the reward for each prayer is proportional to the quality of our prayers.

According to Ibn Rajab (may Allaah have mercy on him) “The basic meaning of khushoo’ is softness of heart, tranquility, submission and humility. If the heart is properly focused in this manner, then the rest of the body will follow it in focus, because they follow it as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “In the body there is a piece of flesh which, if it is sound, the entire body will be sound, but if it is corrupt, the entire body will be corrupt. Verily it is the heart.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (25) and Muslim (1599).” Jaami’ al-‘Uloom al-Hukam (1/35). (Ref:

A side note to review some misconceptions about Taraweeh prayers. Although the larger number of people at Taraweeh prayers may make it appear as if these prayers are more important than the obligatory prayers, they are not. Many of us still would rather exert extra efforts to pray Taraweeh than attend obligatory prayers. That behavior needs to be corrected.

As attending mosques is one of the highlights of Ramadan, we should also ensure that our physical presence in the masjid should not in any way be displeasing to other Muslims. Every Muslim should ensure that others in the masjid are protected from the displeasing appearance or smell of his or her clothes, mouth or body in general. Any offensive smells from smoking, garlic, onions, etc. are not permitted according to hadith and many scholars. For example, the prophet (saws) said, “Whoever eats garlic or onions, let him not approach our mosque and let him pray at home.” And it was reported that he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The angels are offended by the same things that offend the sons of Adam.” Therefore, it is very important that every person is careful not to offend the person standing next to him or her in prayers and at other times.

Remembering not to forget the “Remembrance of Allah”

Ramadan is about remembering Allah. Remembrance of Allah (also known as Zikr or dhikr) extends beyond the obligatory prayers to remembering Him at other times (when walking, driving, sitting, laying down, etc.). The benefits for reciting azkars are numerous but are not part of the scope of this post. Suffice it to remind ourselves, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Shall I not tell you of the best of your deeds, the most pleasing to your Sovereign, those that raise you most in status, and that are better than your giving gold and silver, …………..” They said: “Yes,” He said: “Remembrance of Allah (dhikr), may He be exalted.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (3373) and Ibn Maajah (3790); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

While attaining the discipline to attend 5 obligatory prayers may be more common, many of us need to strive further to remember Allah outside those prescribed prayer times. It may be difficult at first to put that discipline in action. The prophet (SAWS) through his Ahadith has prescribed numerous prayers (about thanking Him, praising Him, seeking forgiveness, etc.) that we should recite during the day – outside the prescribed prayer times. But the point is to adopt a discipline to remember Allah through saying of those salutations in the various pockets that we find during the day. (See for a link on the side of this page where you can download a book of Azkar and Dua’s).

So, with a little effort, we can change the theme of this month for ourselves and for our families. Let’s strive to not make this the month of food or month of socializations and to instead substitute that time with activities, which are more in line with the spirit of Ramadan. Let’s make use of this month to achieve taqawa, the ultimate objective of Ramadan.

Allah says in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)” – Quran [al-Baqarah 2:183]

Everything else that we do in Ramadan is just a means to that end. Let’s constantly gauge our hearts and if our actions, deeds, and heart and soul are not attuned to Allah and to the spirit of Ramadan, we may have adopted a theme for this month not sanctioned by our prophet (saws).

May you have a happy Ramadan and that all our good deeds are accepted!

Share with everyone any ideas that you have to make this Ramadan better than before!

[Iqra Sense]

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Be not entangled in this world of days and nights; Thou hast another time and space as well.

— Iqbal

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Filed under Islam, Poems/Quotes, Religion, Tasawwuf