Tag Archives: ramadan

[Khutbah] Allah’s Beloved Month

As we enter into the middle portion of the month of Ramadan, many of us will find that our resolve has started to get weaker. A completely normal occurrence with a very simple solution, by the permission of Allah.

This khutbah details the abundant blessings awaiting us in Allah’s beloved month, the month of Ramadan, with hopes to motivate and energize the listener to overcome this slump and attain the massive treasure that is waiting to be taken.

 
icon for podpress  Allah's Beloved Month - Khutbah by Yasin Ahmed: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download (317)

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To Do List After Ramadan

prayer-beads
Image credit: Wikipedia

Ramadan ended. (May Allah accept all our prayer, fasting, du’a, and good deeds during this blessed month — ameen!) How should we, as Muslims, act now?

We graduated from the school of Ramadan; can life simply return to normal?

Our scholars mention a few points about this:

  • Allah says, in surah Baqarah, that Ramadan was prescribed on us in the hope that we gain taqwa. Did we achieve that goal of the school of Ramadan? Or did we simply fast because of our parents, our friends, our spouse, or our culture?
  • The continuation of our deeds shows the acceptance of our deeds (even if we continue them at a smaller scale than during Ramadan).
  • We live life for a purpose, not haphazardly; just like we create dunya goals (get a degree, get a job, get a spouse, get a house, etc.) we must create deen goals, and work towards improving ourselves. Ramadan puts us through an obligatory one-month “boot camp” of self-improvement every year.

Did you pass the test of Ramadan? Did you benefit from Ramadan? The litmus test is: are you better after Ramadan than you were before Ramadan?

You can’t compare to yourself to in-Ramadan, because it’s not sustainable. At the same time, scholars say, if you live your life like you did in Ramadan, the Day of Repayment will be your Eid. That’s what this is all about. That is a goal worthy of setting.

Now, the game plan: the secret sauce of what to do after Ramadan comes from one key hadith of rasulullah (ﷺ):

أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلاَنَ، عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْمَقْبُرِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرَةٌ يَبْسُطُهَا بِالنَّهَارِ وَيَحْتَجِرُهَا بِاللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهَا فَفَطِنَ لَهُ النَّاسُ فَصَلَّوْا بِصَلاَتِهِ وَبَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُمُ الْحَصِيرَةُ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اكْلَفُوا مِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَدْوَمُهُ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ تَرَكَ مُصَلاَّهُ ذَلِكَ فَمَا عَادَ لَهُ حَتَّى قَبَضَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكَانَ إِذَا عَمِلَ عَمَلاً أَثْبَتَهُ ‏.‏
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Do as much of good deeds as you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired. And the most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are continuous, even if they are few.‘ Then he stopped that prayer and did not return to it until Allah took him (in death), and if he started to do something he would persist in it.” (Sunan An-Nasaai, 9/21)

(You can click the link to read the full English translation, instead of just this excerpt.)

In Ramadan, think about the actions we performed. We:

  • Prayed a lot.
  • Prayed in jama’ah/congregation
  • Prayed Qiyaam Al-Layl
  • Fasted. Every day.
  • Gave charity. Lots of it.
  • Reached out to our family.

We can continue all these deeds after Ramadan:

  • Don’t pray 5x a day yet? Start. Improve yourself. Add just one prayer to what you pray now.
  • Don’t pray qiyaam? Start. Pray two short rakahs right after Isha, and gradually make it longer and later and larger in quantity.
  • Don’t fast any extra fasts? Start. Aim for three times a month (the White Days), or every Monday, or every Monday and Thursday.
  • Don’t give sadaqah outside of Ramadan? Start. Give sadaqah, even if only a dollar once a week.
  • Don’t have a good relationship with some of your relatives? Fix it. Talk to your family, especially distant relatives.
  • Don’t read the Qur’an regularly? Start. Read something every day. Start with just one page a day, but read it with tafseer.

And a final warning: aim for slow, steady improvement over time. One trick Shaytaan capitalizes on is to encourage us to do everything and anything, all at once. Just like you can’t quit smoking today and run a marathon tomorrow, you can’t change full-force in a short amount of time.

Don’t even try. This may appear to work — for a day or two, or a week — until you burn out, and give up completely. Don’t fall for it. Start slow, and improve yourself until you become a much better person than you are.

May Allah allow us to seek the true, long-term benefits of Ramadan and better ourselves as people.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 7, 2015.

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Ramadan Retrospective

Eid Mubarak! As the sahaba would tell each other: May Allah accept our good deeds and your good deeds (from Ramadan). Ameen!

Ramadan is still fresh in your mind; the long days of fasting, the pain in your legs and back from taraweeh, and most of all, that biting regret that you didn’t do enough.

Would you like to make the next Ramadan even better? With only five minutes worth of effort?! Try this out: create a new document (by hand or computer, whatever you like) called “Ramadan Retrospective.” List out the following:

  • What you did well. Maybe you read more Qur’an than ever before! Or you prayed taraweeh every day. Whatever it is.
  • What you didn’t do well enough. Maybe you neglected your sunnah prayers because you were tired, or slept after Fajr. Write all that down.
  • What to do better next time. List the missed opportunities. Maybe you didn’t have a concrete plan for the last ten nights. Or you never bothered planning for ‘ittakaaf, and so, missed it.

The key step is to keep this in a safe place and look at it next Ramadan. This will insha’Allah give you a strong starting-point to move forward from. The key is to spend some time really thinking about it. If you don’t, it’ll just be superficial.

May Allah accept our good deeds and keep us doing them even after Ramadan has ended–ameen. And that, scholars say, is one of the best signs that your deeds were accepted.

Wallahu a’lam.

One final point–please list in the comments any lessons you learned (or heard about but maybe already knew) from Ramadan. Let’s see how much benefit we can come up with, insha’Allah. Here are a few to get you started from what I learned:

  • Eat little in Iftar, because bloat makes you sleepy in taraweeh.
  • Learn Arabic, because then taraweeh will be enjoyable, not endless.
  • Make a du’a list and use it every night in the last ten nights.
  • Pray two rakaahs before Fajr. It counts as Tahajjud!
  • Make du’a when you break your fast — that’s one of the best times.
  • Eat healthy.
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Plan for the Last 10 Nights of Ramadan

make an action plan for the last ten nights of Ramadan

Ramadan is coming to a close. Like the last half-kilometer of a 10km race, the finish-line is in sight. This is the time to pull out all the stops and to sprint, flat-out. This is the time when Laylatul-Qadar, the night where deeds are multiplied by more than one thousand, hides.

Are you ready for it?

Maybe you felt like Ramadan breezed by. Maybe you felt like you didn’t do enough. Well, this is your chance to make up for it. You need to finish strong, insha’Allah.

So take five minutes and make an action plan. This plan will, insha’Allah, help you milk the end of the month. Grab a piece of paper and write “Ramadan Plan” on it.

First, list two categories of historical items:

  • The Good: List all the things you did, that you’re happy with. You read Qur’an. You prayed Taraweeh. You donated $100. And so on. You need to ensure you keep doing these things.
  • The Bad: Maybe you didn’t pray tahajjud. Maybe you didn’t even pray Fajr in the masjid! List all these things. Don’t hold back.

Then, create your action plan: Pick as many items as you think you can handle, the best of The Good and whatever you can take from The Bad. Using the example above, your action plan might include: Read Qur’an, pray Taraweeh, pray Fajr in the masjid.

Then, list all the things you need to stop doing to get this to work. Maybe you watch 2-3 hours of TV a day. Or you spend six hours daily on Facebook. Whatever it is–list it, and aim to get rid of it.

It’s crucial to realize that you need to sacrifice in the short-term. You want to maximize Laylatul-Qadr. Do so, even if you’ll drop behind on things here and there for a few days.

Insha’Allah if you do this, you’ll have a strong, action-oriented plan for the last ten nights. And remember to stretch yourself. Go beyond your comfort limit. That’s what Ramadan is about–breaking the limits.

If you have any other tips, insha’Allah list them in the comments. I’d love to squeeze more benefit out of Laylatul-Qadr. May Allah give us all the tawfeeq to catch this awesome night with the best good deeds.

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Ramadan Resource Bonanza!

treasure chest.

What’s better than a chest of gold and jewels? A post full of Qur’an and sunnah!

Bismillah.

This is a guest post by an author who compiled a wide number of resources related to fasting, reciting Qur’an, and sincerity of intention. This is a great resource of ahadith and ayaat related to fasting. May Allah grant them a great reward (ameen!) and forgive any mistakes I have made in re-formatting it and linking all the sources to their citations.

So without further a-do, let’s jump into it.

Reported al-Bukhari that Umar bin al-Khaatab narrated: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alyhi wa salaam) saying: “The reward of deeds depend on the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.” [Al-Bukhar: 1/1/1]

The Intentions of Fasting: Compilations of Intentions and benefits of fasting in the month of Ramadan

  1. To carry out the orders of Allah and to attain piety as Allah said: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-Muttaqun (pious)” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
  2. To get protection from Hell-Fire. Allah’s Messengers (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) said: “When a person fasts for a day, for the sake of Allah, Allah drives away the Hell-Fire from him to a distance of seventy years of traveling.” [Al-Bukhari: 4/52/93 and Muslim 6/2570 to 6/2572]
  3. To expiate one’s past sins. Allah’s Messenger said: “whoever observes Saum (fasting) during the month of Ramadan, out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s Rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari 1/2/37 and 3/32/231]
  4. To enter Paradise .Abu Umamah said: I asked the Prophet,’O Allah’s Messenger, guide me to a deed with which I may enter Paradise. “He (salallahu alyhi wa salaam) replied,’ Observe fasting; there is nothing like it.'” [An-Nissai, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim]
  5. To get the intercession on the Day of Judgment. “On the Day of Judgment, fasting and Qur’an will intercede for the person who observes fast and recites the Qur’an.” [Ahmed]
  6. To get a granted invocation (supplication).Allah’s Messenger said:’ Three kinds of invocations are to be granted; the invocation of the person who observes fast, the invocation of an oppressed person, and the invocation of a traveler.” [Al-Silsilah as-Sahiha no. 1797]
  7. To enter through the gate of Ar-Rayyan on the Day of Judgement. Allah’s Messenger said: “There is a gate of Ar-Rayyan on The Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it.”
    [Al-Bukhari 3/31/120, Muslim 5/2239 and 5/2240].
  8. To receive the reward in full without reckoning. Allah’s Messenger said:’ A man’s good acts are recompensed many times, from ten times to 700 times. Allah, the Exalted, says ‘But a fast is an exception because it is undertaken simply for My Sake) i.e.,there is no limit for it’s recompense) and I, Alone shall bestow the reward for it.'” [Muslim 6/2566 to 6/2568]

The intentions When taking Sahur (the Pre-Dawn Meal):

  1. To carry out the commandment of Prophet Muhammed (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and follow his sunnah, when he said: “Take the Sahur because there’s blessing in it.” [Al-Bukhari 3/31/146, and Muslim].
  2. To be different from the people of the scriptures who do not observe partaking of Suhur [Muslim].
  3. To seek the salaah of Allah and his angels upon oneself. The Prophet Messenger (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) said: “Allah sends his salaah (graces, honors, blessings, mercy, etc.) and also his angels send their salaah (ask Allah to bless and forgive them) upon those who take sahur.'” [Ibn Hibban and at-Tabaraani]
  4. To facilitate fasting and gain strength for worshipping.
  5. To make Du’aa and ask forgiveness after taking Sahur at the end of the night.

The intentions at the time of breaking Fast.

  1. To carry out the orders of Allah (Subhana wa ta’ala) by eating at sunset.
  2. To gain strength for worshipping Allah (Subhana wa ta’ala).
  3. To follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) in hasting the breaking of the fast.
  4. Allah’s Messenger said: “The people will continue to be in a good state of affairs as long as they hasten the breaking the fast.'” [Bukhari 3/31/178 and Muslim 6/2417]
  5. To get the pleasure (Joy) when one will meet his Lord on the day of resurrection. Allah’s messenger said: “There are two pleasures of the person observing fast, one at the time of Iftar (breaking fast), and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; Then he will be pleased because of his Saum (fasting).” [Al-Bukhari 3/31/128 and 9/93/584]
  6. To get a granted invocation (prayer) at the time of breaking the fast. Allah’s messenger said: “Indeed the fasting person has at the time of breaking fast a prayer (supplication) which is not rejected.” [Ibn Majah and Al-Hakim]

The Intentions of Qiyaam (Establishing the nights with Prayer):

  1. To expiate ones past sins. Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever establishes (Nawafil, voluntary) prayers during the nights of Ramadan, faithfully, out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s Rewards, all his past sins will be forgiven.'” [Al Bukhari]
  2. To search for Lailatul -Qadar (The Night of Qadar).Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) said: “Search for the night of Qadar in the odd nights of the last nights of Ramadan.” [Al-Bukhari 1/2/37]
  3. To enter paradise with peace. Allah’s Messenger said: “O people! Spread Salaam (greetings), feed others, join your kin, and pray at night while people are sleeping, you will enter paradise with peace.” [Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi]
  4. To be one of the Muhsinun (Goodoers) who, “They used to sleep but little by night and in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness.” (51:17-18)
  5. To imitate and follow the way of the righteous predecessors. Allah’s messenger said: “exert your utmost to offer night prayers, because it is the way of the righteous predecessors before you it is nearness to your Lord, it expiates sins and prevents one from committing evil deeds or sins.” [At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by al-Albaani]
  6. To receive the great booty that comes from reciting the Qur’an in the night prayer is. Allah’s messenger (salallahu alyhi wa sallam) said: “Whoever establishes the night prayer and recite ten verses, will not be written down as one of the heedless and whoever prays at night reciting 100 verses will be written down as one of the sincere devotes, and whoever prays at night reciting 1000 verses will be written down as one of the al-Muqantarin [i.e. those for whom is written a Qintaar (a weight measure) of reward].” [Abu Dawoud and authenticated by al-Albaani]

The intentions when reciting the Qur’an

  1. To get the intercession. Allah’s messenger said: “Read the Qur’an as it shall come on the day of resurrection as an intercessor for its readers” [Muslim 4/1757]
  2. To get the healing for that which is in the breast (disease of ignorance, doubts, etc…)
  3. To be raised in grade (ranks) Paradise.
  4. To make it a protection (and a shield) from Hellfire
  5. To attain high ranks and to be with the angels.
  6. To be one of Allah’s special people.
  7. To get the Light with which one can be guided in the darkness (i.e. it is a light in the heart, in the face, in the grave and on the bridge (As-Siraat) on the day of Resurrection)
  8. To get increased amount of reward and to attain Allah’s love.
  9. To get the guidance and mercy of Allah.(Subhana wa ta’ala)

We ask Allah to help us be among those who implement all of these things consistently in our lives–allahumma ameen!

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Which Ramadan Opinion Do I Pick?

crescent-moon

Sight the moon, and if you cannot, then count the days …

Ramadan is coming, alhamdulillah. Ramadan, a time when all the shayateen are chained up, as the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

Narrated Abu Huraira (radiallahu ‘anhu): Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”[Saheeh Bukhari, volume 3, book 31, #123]

Ramadan, when people fast all day and pray all night. Ramadan, when we all reach new levels of eman and ihsaan.

Ramadan, a time when, if you live in a country in a western society (like the US, Canada, UK, etc.), there are as many opinions are there are masjids.

So when is Ramadan starting? Why are there so many opinions? How do we pick one–the right one?

Let’s first see why different opinions exist, and whether this is acceptable or not.

The Origin of Difference of Opinion

Difference of opinion existed at the time of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) too. We have lots of narrations about companions differing. For example, this hadith about the battle of Al-Ahzaab:

Narrated Ibn Umar (radiallahu ‘anhumaa): On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. Clans) the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “None of you Muslims) should offer the ‘Asr prayer but at Banu Quraiza’s place.” The ‘Asr prayer became due for some of them on the way. Some of those said, “We will not offer it till we reach it, the place of Banu Quraiza,” while some others said, “No, we will pray at this spot, for the Prophet did not mean that for us.” Later on It was mentioned to the Prophet and he did not berate any of the two groups. [Saheeh Bukhari, volume 5, book 59, #445]

Notice, they had the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) with them to make a final decision. And he would. And nobody could question it after that. In this case, he didn’t berate either group.

So difference of opinion is not inherently evil. In fact, in Usool-ul-Fiqh, they quote a hadith:

Narrated ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas (radiallahu ‘anhu): That he heard Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) saying, “If a judge (aka mujtahid) gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is correct (i.e. agrees with Allah and His Messenger’s verdict) he will receive a double reward, and if he gives a verdict according to the best of his knowledge and his verdict is wrong, (i.e. against that of Allah and His Apostle) even then he will get a reward .” [Saheeh Bukhari: volume 9, book 2, #450, and Saheeh Muslim: book 18, #4261]

“For the mujtahid (who’s qualified to make ijtihaad) who makes ijtihaad, and comes up with the right answer, he gets two rewards. And for the qualified mujtahid who makes ijtihaad and comes up with the wrong answer, he gets one reward..”

Not nothing. Not one punishment. One reward. BUT! Provided he’s a qualified mujtahid. Imam Shafi’ee has a long list of qualifications for what exactly that means. Bottom line, it doesn’t mean you, or your brothers/sisters/aunts/uncles/grandparents/kittens.

So the gem is, accept difference of opinion. Don’t force people into one opinion. Respect it. And don’t act like everybody is going to Hellfire just becuase they started Ramadan one day after/before you did.

The Methodology for Knowing When Ramadan Starts

Are there opinions about when Ramadan starts? You bet there are. They all stem primarily from one hadith of Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam):

Abu Huraira (radiallahu ‘anhu) reported Allah’s Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying: Whenever you sight the new moon (of the month of Ramadan) observe fast. and when you sight it (the new moon of Shawwal) break it, and if the sky is cloudy for you, then observe fast for thirty days. [Saheeh Muslim, book 6, #2378]

This hadith lays out clearly what we should do. Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: sight the moon. That means, physically, sight the moon. With your eyes.

Wait. Your eyes, or the eyes of the guy “down under” in Australia? Check out this ayah:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

Translation: The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. [Surah Baqarah, verse 185]

Notice here, as shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimahullah) points out in his fatwa, the verse is conditional–fast if you see it. Notice also, the hadith we quoted earlier–whoever sees the moon should fast. Again, a condition. The condition, then, is valid for whoever it applies to–meaning if YOU see the moon, then YOU fast.

This is, Allahu ‘alam, the strongest opinion; that fasting is city-based, or region-based. So in fiqh, you’ll read about “horizons.” That’s the translation; it means one place where all the people fast the same fast. Usually, in Muslim countries, the whole country fasts together.

And if you can’t sight the moon? It’s cloudy? Then you count 30 days. And by count, some people say, calculate. Count means, you know all Islamic months are 29 or 30 days; so you can count the days of Sha’ban. If they’re 30, then today’s the first of Ramadan. Or if they’re 29, it could be 30th Sha’ban, or 1st Ramadan.

Ok, so we know that ikhtilaf is ok. And we know the proper method; and we know that, even if the proper method is followed, different opinions can be followed. So …

But What Did They do Before?

Wait. You might say, “hey, we used to have an Islamic state, and a real khalifah. How did they decide when to fast?”

The answer is simple. The khalifah calls all the scholars and advisors around. He says, “tell me which opinion you think is the best.” So one says “moon-sighting!” the other says, “no, not that! Calculating!” “No, not that! …” and so on.

And they debate. And it goes back and forth.

And then the khalifah says, “ok, let me think.” He thinks. He considers the evidence. And he says: “For this year, we’re going with this opinion.” [Mentioned by Muhammad Alshareef in Rizq Management]

And it’s decided. And if you start a masjid across the street on a different opinion, you can be whipped. It’s a serious matter. Don’t go against the ummah. [Mentioned in Rizq Management]

As for us, today? We should be like the people before, and acceede to authority once a decision is made.

So Whose Opinion Should we Follow?

Well, there is no khalifah. And as we said, there can be multiple correct opinions. So which do you choose? Who do you follow?

Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef was asked precisely this. And his response was, find a masjid you trust with people of knowledge and taqwa, and follow them. Leave them the difficult, complex, brain-exploding task of looking at different opinions and evidence and choosing what to do.

Why a masjid you trust? Because Allah says, in the Qur’an: “Ask the people of knowledge.” And taqwa is often the fruit of knowledge. So find a masjid where the imam has knowledge, someone you trust, someone who you believe has taqwa, and run with it.

Because, remember, you’re not a mujtahid. Don’t even try to figure out all the opinions. Just make it easy.

And, a final tip: Try and get your family on board with the same opinion. Do this by buying them into the knowledge of the masjid. Or, if you’re The Authority in your house, explain to them why it’s important to be together, take their opinions, and pick a masjid. Together. It’ll be really a sad ‘Eid if half the family has Eid while the other half is fasting.

And finally, what if you’re given two or more equally-trustworthy choices to pick from? How do you choose? At the end, you have to make a decision. So try:

  • Consensus: Go with what the majority of people in your city are doing.
  • Consult: Ask your family members who they want to go with. Most likely they have some preference. If you really are ok with either option, this will probably decide it.
  • Make Istikhara: Allah will not let you down. If you make istikhara, you will never regret your decision insha’Allah.
  • Make du’a: Nothing beats sincere, heartfelt du’a as a means of achieving goals.

We ask Allah to make easy this often tumultuous and emotional time, and to help our ummah understand and implement “unity” in the way that we fast–allahumma ameen.

References:

  • Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Rizq Management. University of Toronto, Toronto. June 2006
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Praying Isha While The Imam Prays Taraweeh

It’s well-known in our communities, alhamdulillah, that you can pray ‘Isha behind an imam praying Taraweeh. (Which happens if you run late, very late, indeed!) But we’re just going to dive a bit into the details of how and why this is.

Note: We do not issue fatwa! For that, please consult Islam Question and Answer!

First of all, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars about whether this is permissible or not. Let’s examine the opinion of those who say it’s not permissible (which includes the majority of companions).

What’s their proof that it’s not permissible? They cite the hadith where the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “The imam was sent to be followed.” [Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, #656]

How does that hadith apply? If the imam is praying Isha, you pray Isha! If he’s praying Taraweeh, you pray Taraweeh! Follow! That’s the connection.

What about the side that says that it’s permissible (and Allahu ‘alim, this side is more correct)? What’s their proof?

They cite two ahadith; one is about the companion Mu’adh (رضي الله عنه‏); he used to pray (a fard salaah) with the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and then return to his people and lead them in the same prayer! [Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 11, #668] So he might pray Dhur (for example) with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and then go back to his city/tribe/etc. and lead them in Dhur.

The other proof is salaat-ul-khawf, the fear prayer; when praying in a state of fear (i.e. on the battlefield), you only pray two rakaahs. Once, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) prayed two rakaahs of salaat-ul-khawf with one group of companions, and stood up and prayed another two rakaahs of salaat-ul-khawf with a different group of companions. (The second time it was nafl for him (صلى الله عليه و سلم), but fard for those companions behind him.)

Notice, this is exactly the same situation as praying Isha when the imam prays Taraweeh–imam praying nafl, and you praying fard.

But what about the hadith that the imam was sent to be followed? How does this group view it? They say that it means, as the hadith says, the imam should be physically followed; make rukoo’ when he makes rukoo’, sujood when he makes sujood, etc. Abdul-Bary Yahya, in the Purification Act fiqh of salaah class, also confirms this understanding, and mentions an example: if the imam intended his prayer to be riyaa (i.e. showing off, i.e. minor SHIRK) would this hadith command you to have that intention? No! So the hadith means physically follow the imam.

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alim. (You can also pray Isha when the imam prays Witr, according to the same understanding.)

For the full story, read the Islam QA Fatwa on this topic.

References

“Praying ‘Isha’ behind someone who is praying Taraweeh or Witr.” Islam Question and Answer. 2 Sept. 2008 <http://islamqa.com/en/ref/79136>.

Abdul-Bary Yahya. Lecture. AlMaghrib. The Purification Act. University of Toronto, Toronto. November 2006.

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Local or International Sighting?

As yet another Ramadan comes, the question arises? should we follow the opinion of the local moonsighting, or the international moonsighting? Great arguments erupt, people insulting each other left and right, breaking ties, breaking families …

Brothers and sisters, ya Muslims, WAKE UP!! Realize that all the opinions which are backed by the scholars are correct!

What? All of them?

Yes. all of them.

How does that work? In Islam, we have scholars (‘ulama), and we have people who have the knowledge and tools and responsibility to give fatwa (mujtahidoon). For us, the ignorant lay-people, we don’t have the tools or knowledge; we are sinful if we try and make fatwa out of ignorance (even if we’re right–the way a random guy off the street is still liable to be hauled into jail for doing brain surgery, even if he succeeded).

Islamically, the scholars are the ones who determine what exactly Allah wants from us. They wade neck-deep into books and books of Qur’an, tafseer, ahadith, opinions of companions and tabieen, rulings of previous scholars, consensuses of the ummah, and so on. More importantly, they are the ones who determine which opinions are acceptable.

And it’s a tough job. At the end of it, you’re saying, “Allah wants this.” That’s a big statement to make! Don’t take it lightly!

So what about the moonfighting issue? What have the scholars said?

According to the scholars, there are multiple correct opinions about when to start Ramadan. Not just one. More than one. And they all have legitimate proofs.

What are some of the opinions that have scholarly backing?

  • Local moonsighting is correct.
  • International moonsighting is correct.
  • Calculating the dates is correct.

So what does this mean for you and me? What are we supposed to do, if every opinion has some legitimacy?

  • Find people of knowledge and Taqwa, and follow them. Let them do the hard work of determining what’s the best opinion each year, and follow it. Trust them. They have more knowledge, and they have taqwa of Allah; they won’t try and follow their desires.
  • Accept that (almost) every opinion has legitimate scholarly backing. This means that, if someone follows an opinion that’s not yours (and who are you, anyway?):
    • They’re not kaafir
    • They’re not faasiq
    • They’re not sinners
    • Their fast is not invalidated; it’s legitimate.
    • They’re not doing anything haraam
    • They should NOT break their fast and make it up
  • Follow the majority. If 80% of the massajid in your area follow one opinion, and just two or three masjids follow a different opinion, don’t be those two or three masjids.
  • Relax! Chill out! Don’t get so stressed! Take an opinion and run with it; don’t cause stress to yourself, your family, your relatives, your friends. Chill!

And this difference-of-opinion thing? Islamically, with an issue, two people (who have the knowledge and tools and responsibility) make fatwa; the one who’s wrong? He gets one rewards, subhanallah! Not sin! Reward! Why? Because he had the tools and knowledge, and he did his best; even if he’s wrong, he gets reward! And the one who’s right? He gets two rewards!

So RELAX! Enjoy Ramadan! It’s a time of ibadah, a time to turn over a new leaf, a time to pick up new good habits and drop some old bad ones.


Ramadan Mubarak to you and your families!

References

Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Rizq Management. University of Toronto, Toronto. June 2006.

Muhammad Alshareef. Lecture. AlMaghrib. Code of Scholars. University of Toronto, Toronto. August 2005.

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The Islamic Diet

Bismillah.

We are constantly bombarded in this society with diet after diet, new ways to loose weight or supposedly be ‘healthy’. As Muslims, we know that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) sent the Qur’an to us as a huda, a guide. Not only is the Qur’an a guidance for us in our beliefs, our worship and character, but we learn basic lessons on how to live our lives in a way that is pleasing to Allah. So rather than turning to outside sources for guidance in these basic matters, turn to the Qur’an, for by Allah you will find your answer.

Did you know that Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) teaches us the “islamic” diet in the Qur’an? He (سبحانه و تعالى) says,

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا وَلَا تُسْرِفُوا ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

“O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.” [Suratul A’raaf, verse 32]

Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) outlines in this simple verse how we as Muslims should eat. He mentions first to “take your adornment at every masjid”, which means to wear nice, clean clothes when attending the masjid. Then He (سبحانه و تعالى) says: “and eat and drink, but be no excessive”. The word for excessive here is ‘israaf’ (اسراف) and israaf not only means to be excessive, but it means to waste and be extravagant. Imam ibnul Qayyim mentions two extremes that can be defined as ‘israaf’ in eating:

1) Firstly, the person will not follow the verse which says to “eat and drink”; they will under eat and constantly be in a state of malnutrition and starvation. This diet brings about sickness and prevents health.

2) Secondly, the person will overeat and go beyond what the limit of what is normal. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam taught us, “there is no worse vessel for the son of Aadam to fill than his stomach, but if he must fill it, the let him allow one-third for food, one-third for drink, and one-third for air.” (Saheeh, Ahmad) This extreme also brings about sickness and prevents health.

The Muslim must avoid these two ways of doing israaf, and remain balanced in their diet–without overeating or under eating.

InshaAllah this serves as two reminders for us. Firstly, that the Qur’an is a guide for us in all aspects of our lives and also a reminder for us to leave both of these extremes in diet, especially during this special month of Ramadaan.

wa Allahu ta’ala alam.

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