Monday, August 24, 2009

Common Mistakes Made During Ramadan


I received this from a friend and wanted to share, I hope you all find it as beneficial as I did InshaAllah.

Most Muslims who fast Ramadan focus on the benefits and rewards of it. But in doing so, we often make mistakes that instead of adding to our experience actually detract from it. Mistakes that can make us commercialize Ramadan as so many other religions have commercialized their sacred days. Insha Allah the following serves as a reminder to myself first and to all Muslims. May Allah help us to spend our time wisely this Ramadan and help us to avoid these mistakes. Aameen!

1. Taking Ramadaan as a ritual

For many of us Ramadaan has lost its spirituality and has become more of a ritual than a form of Ibaadah. We fast from morning to night like a zombie just because everyone around us is fasting too. We forget that its a time to purify our hearts and our souls from all evil….we forget to make dua, forget to beseech Allaah to forgive us and ask Him to save us from the Fire. Sure we stay away from food and drink but that's about all.

Although the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:
'Jibreel said to me, 'May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person to who Ramadaan comes and his sins are not forgiven,' and I said, 'Aameen'. Then he said, 'May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person who lives to see his parents grow old, one or both of them, but he does not enter Paradise (by not serving them) and I said, 'Aameen'. Then he said, 'May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person in whose presence you are mentioned and he does not send blessings upon you,' and I said, 'Aameen.'' (Tirmidhi, Ahmad, others. Saheeh by al-Albaani)

2. Too much stress on food and drink

For some people, the entire month of Ramadaan revolves around food. They spend the ENTIRE day planning, cooking, shopping and thinking about only food, instead of concentrating on Salaah, Quraan and other acts of worship. All they can think of is FOOD. So much so that they turn the month of 'fasting' into the month of 'feasting'. Come Iftaar time, their table is a sight to see, with the multitudes and varieties of food, sweets and drinks.. They are missing the very purpose of fasting, and thus, increase in their greed and desires instead of learning to control them. It is also a kind of waste & extravagance.

'…..and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allaah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance) ' [al-Araaf :31]

3. Spending all day cooking

Some of the sisters (either by their own choice or forced by their husbands) are cooking ALL day and ALL night, so that by the end of the day, they are too tired to even pray Ishaa, let alone pray Taraweeh or Tahajjud or even read Quraan. This is the month of mercy and forgiveness. So turn off that stove and turn on your Imaan!

4. Eating too much

Some people stuff themselves at Suhoor until they are ready to burst, because they think this is the way to not feel hungry during the day and some people eat at Iftaar, like there is no tomorrow, trying to 'make up for the food missed.' However, this is completely against the Sunnah. Moderation is the key to everything.

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.' (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah. saheeh by al-Albaani).

Too much food distracts a person from many deeds of obedience and worship, makes him lazy and also makes the heart heedless.

It was said to Imam Ahmad: Does a man find any softness and humility in his heart when he is full? He said, I do not think so.

5. Sleeping all day

Some people spend their entire day (or a major part of it) 'sleeping away their fast'. Is this what is really required of us during this noble month? These people also are missing the purpose of fasting and are slaves to their desires of comfort and ease. They cannot 'bear' to be awake and face a little hunger or exert a little self-control. For a fasting person to spend most of the day asleep is nothing but, negligence on his part.

6. Wasting time

The month of Ramadaan is a precious, precious time, so much so that Allaah calls this month 'Ayyamum Ma'doodaat' (A fixed number of days). Before we know it, this month of mercy and forgiveness will be over. We should try and spend every moment possible in the worship of Allaah so that we can make the most of this blessing. However, there are some of us who waste away their day playing video games, or worse still, watching TV, movies or even listening to music. Subha an Allaah! Trying to obey Allaah by DISOBEYING him!

7. Fasting but not giving up evil

Some of us fast but do not give up lying, cursing, fighting, backbiting, etc. and some of us fast but do not give up cheating, stealing, dealing in haraam, buying lotto tickets, selling alcohol, fornication, etc. and all kinds of impermissible things without realizing that the purpose of fasting is to not stay away from food and drink; rather the aim behind it is to fear Allaah.

'O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)' [al-Baqarah 2:183]

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and ignorance, Allaah has no need of him giving up his food and drink.' (Bukhaari)

8. Skipping Suhoor (sehri)

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'Eat suhoor for in suhoor there is blessing.'(Bukhaari, Muslim).
And he (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'The thing that differentiates between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is eating suhoor.' (Muslim)

9. Stopping Suhoor at 'Imsaak'

Some people stop eating Suhoor 10-15 minutes earlier than the time of Fajr to observe 'Imsaak'.
Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen said: This is a kind of bid’ah (innovation) which has no basis in the Sunnah. Rather the Sunnah is to do the opposite. Allaah allows us to eat until dawn: 'and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)' [al-Baqarah 2:187]

And the Prophet (pbuh) said: '….eat and drink until you hear the adhaan of Ibn Umm Maktoom, for he does not give the adhaan until dawn comes.'

This 'imsaak' which some of the people do is an addition to what Allaah has prescribed, so it is false. It is a kind of extremism in religion, and the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:
'Those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed.' (Muslim)

10. Not fasting if they missed Suhoor

Some people are too scared to fast if they miss Suhoor. However, this is a kind of cowardice and love of ease. What is the big deal if you missed a few morsels of food? It's not like you will die. Remember, obedience to Allaah overcomes everything.

11. Saying the intention to fast 'out loud' or saying a specific dua to start fasting:

The intention is an action of the heart. We should resolve in our heart that we are going to fast tomorrow. That is all we need. It is not prescribed by the Shari'ah for us to say out loud, 'I intend to fast', 'I will fast tomorrow' or other phrases that have been innovated by some people. Also, there is no specific dua to be recited at the time of starting the fast in the correct Sunnah. Whatever 'dua' you may see on some papers or Ramadaan calendars, etc. is a Bid'ah.

12. Delaying opening fast

Some people wait until the adhaan finishes or even several minutes after that, just to be 'on the safe side'. However, the Sunnah is to hasten to open the fast, which means opening the fast the moment the sun sets. Aa'ishah (RA) said: This is what the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to do. (Muslim)

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'The people will continue to do well so long as they hasten to open the fast.' (Bukhaari, Muslim)

Inspite of the above Hadith being so clear, the Adhaan in many of the mosques is given 5 minutes after sunset. You can check the newspaper everyday and see the exact time of sunset that is mentioned there. You can also check it on the net and then check for yourself when the Adhaan is given).

Determine to the best of your ability, the accuracy of your clock, calendar, etc. and then have tawakkul (trust) on Allaah swt and break your fast exactly on time.

13. Eating continuously until the time for Maghrib is up

Some people put so much food in their plates when breaking their fast and continue eating, enjoying dessert, drinking tea, etc., until they miss Maghrib. That is obviously not right. The Sunnah of the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) was that once he broke his fast with some dates, he would hasten to the prayer. Once you are done with the prayer, you can always go back and eat some more if you wish.

14. Missing the golden chance of having your Dua accepted

The prayer of the fasting person is guaranteed to be accepted at the time of breaking fast.
The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'Three prayers are not rejected: the prayer of a father, the prayer of a fasting person, and the prayer of a traveler.' (al-Bayhaqi, saheeh by al-Albaani).

Instead of sitting down and making Dua at this precious time, some people forego this beautiful chance, and are too busy frying samosas, talking, setting the food, filling their plates and glasses, etc. Think about it….Is food more important than the chance to have your sins forgiven or the fulfillment of your Duas.

15. Fasting but not praying

The fasting of one who does not pray WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. This is because not praying constitutes kufr as the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his giving up prayer.' (Muslim)

In fact, NONE of his good deeds will be accepted; rather, they are all annulled.
'Whoever does not pray 'Asr, his good deeds will be annulled.' (Bukhaari)

16. Fasting and not wearing Hijaab

Not wearing the Hijaab is a major sin as it is obligatory for Muslim women. (See Surah Nur, Surah Ahzaab). So fasting and not wearing hijaab certainly takes away enormously from the rewards of fasting, even if does not invalidate it.

17. Not fasting because of exams or work

Exams or work is NOT one of the excuses allowed by the Shariah to not fast. You can do your studying and revision at night if it is too hard to do that during the day. Also remember that pleasing and obeying Allaah is much more important than 'good grades'. Besides, if you will fulfill your obligation to fast, even if you have to study, Allaah will make it easy for you and help you in everything you do.
'Whosoever fears Allah, He will appoint for him a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect, Allaah is Sufficient for whosoever puts his trust in Him.' (Surah at-Talaaq 2-3)

18. Mixing fasting and dieting

DO NOT make the mistake of fasting with the intention to diet. That is one of the biggest mistakes some of us make (esp. sisters). Fasting is an act of worship and can only be for the sake of Allaah alone. Otherwise, mixing it with the intention of dieting may become a form of (minor) Shirk.

19. Praying ONLY on the night of the 27th

Some people pray ONLY on the 27th to seek Lailat ul-Qadr, neglecting all other odd nights, although the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: 'Seek Lailat ul-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadaan.' (Bukhaari, Muslim).

20. Wasting the last part of Ramadaan preparing for Eid

Some people waste the entire last 10 days of Ramadaan preparing for Eid, shopping and frequenting malls, etc. neglecting Ibadah and Lailatul Qadr. although, the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to strive the hardest during the last ten days of Ramadaan in worship (Ahmad, Muslim) and not in shopping. Buy whatever you need for Eid, buy before Ramadaan so that you can utilize the time in Ramadaan to the max..
Aa'ishah (RA) said: 'When the (last) ten nights began, the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam)) would tighten his waist-wrapper (i.e., strive hard in worship or refrain from intimacy with his wives), stay awake at night and wake his family.' (Bukhaari and Muslim).

21. Iftaar parties

Although inviting each other for breaking fast is something good and encouraged, some people go to extremes with lavish 'Iftaar parties' with all sorts of disobedience to Allaah, from flirting, mixing of the sexes and hijaab-less women, to show-off and extravagance, to heedlessness of Salaah and Taraweeh. Some even resort to music and dancing.

It's not too late to rectify ones mistake and do good for the sake of Allaah.

[15:49] Inform My servants that I am the Forgiver, Most Merciful.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Ensuring a Successful Ramadhan

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Ensuring a Successful Ramadhaan

The gates of the heavens have been opened, the doors of Hellfire closed and our accursed enemy, the Shayateen, are locked up. Ramadhaan is upon us, the blessed month of mercy, forgiveness and compassion.
Indeed, we are in need of such a blessed month, so that we may immerse ourselves in the remembrance of Allah ta'ala after having been heedless, turn our sights to the Hereafter after having retreated to the dunyaa, read the Book of Allah after it has been untouched, collecting dust o­n our shelves. Surely our state is a distressing o­ne; our hearts have become hardened, we have lowered our barrier of taqwa, chasing after our whims and desires somehow, we have become of those who are negligent.

Yet the opportunity presents itself to humble o­neself, return to Allah and seek His forgiveness. It is a month wherein we may purify our hearts and free ourselves from the stronghold of transgression. And what is it that causes such a transition? For some it may be the large congregation of Muslimeen in salaat, a renewed sense of gratefulness after food has touched your lips, spending long nights in taraweeh prayer, raising your hands in du'aa qunoot and hoping fervently for the mercy of Allah ta'ala. Even still it may be the emergence of the Muslimeen, the many greetings of salaam, the smiles and heartfelt words, reflecting sincerely over the Qur'aan, or performing itikaaf in the masaajid, There is a change in the air and it can readily be sensed, a breeze of wellness overtakes us, sprinkled with ihsaan and taqwa, as we strive to enjoin the good. Suddenly we realize that the Promise of Allah is true, and fearing His Threat and hoping for His Mercy, we increase ourselves in worship and remembrance.

The Son of Adam often makes excuses for themselves their faults and their shortcomings. Truly this is an obstacle in the way of change. The beauty of Ramadhaan is that it diminishes such obstacles. Tasting the sweetness of faith allows for contemplation, reflection and self-assessment, such that we may diagnose our faults, make tawbah (repentance) and seek to remedy our condition. And what better time to make a firm resolution of change than in the blessed month of Ramadhaan, when the melodious recitation of the Qur'aan is resounding in your ears, when your eyes look upon believers who congregate to worship their Lord, and when your mouth abstains from food and drink instilling within you self-discipline? Surely, the time is now, ya Muslimeen.

The virtues of Sawm are many; the special quality of this ibaadaah is found in its close connection with Allah ta'ala: He says, The Fast (Sawm) is for Me and I will reward it.'' [Bukhari and Muslim] This statement relays the high status granted to fasting. Moreover, fasting stifles desires and is ultimately a shield from the Hellfire. Abu Sa`eed al-Khudri relates that the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said : "Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire" [Ahmad, Sahih] and likewise, "No servant fasts o­n a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the Hell Fire seventy years further away from his face." [Bukhari and Muslim] Another unique aspect of Sawm is that the reason behind the command is given. Allaah, the Exalted and Most High, says in the Noble Quraan:

O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become people having Taqwaa. Soorah al-Baqarah 2:183

So the wisdom behind fasting is not just in preventing o­neself from enjoyable and permissible things, but so that we may attain taqwaa. Therefore, the wisdom behind the prescription of Fasting is that the Muslim should increase in obedience to Allaah ta'ala in Ramadhaan, and become more obedient than he was before it.[1] Thus this blessed month does indeed facilitate change within the believer as they strive to increase themselves in worship. Having knowledge of the reason behind the legislation should motivate the believer to hasten to do good works, hoping to earn the pleasure of Allah ta'ala.

Know O Believer that the fast is not purely o­n a physical level - refraining from food and drink - but rather the complete fast involves œthe refraining of o­nes gaze, tongue, hands, feet, hearing and eyes, as well as the rest of his body parts from committing sinful acts. The o­ne who is fasting lowers his gaze and safeguards his tongue from the repulsive speech that is forbidden, disliked, or which has no benefit, as well as controlling the rest of his body parts. [2] This is elucidated in a hadeeth by al-Bukhaaree: " Whosoever does not abandon false speech and the acting upon it, Allaah is not in need of his food and drink.'' [Bukhari]

Just as the life of this world, Ramadhaan shall come to an end. And while we may lament at the closing of this blessed month at having experienced a closer relationship to Allah ta'ala and an increased level of emaan. It may serve to be a beacon of light henceforth. Perhaps the key lies in realizing Ramadhaan's worth so that we do not use our limited time in vain. The rightly guided predecessors (As-Salif As-Salih) used to seek the forgiveness of Allaah and repent so much so that it was reported that they would supplicate to Allaah for six months that He would allow them to reach Ramadaan. If He allowed them to reach Ramadaan, they would fast, pray at night and supplicate for the next six months that He accepts the month of Ramadaan from them. [3] Such was their piety, and may we follow in their footsteps.

"If the Muslim is in a good state after Ramadaan, performing many good deeds and righteous actions, then this is a proof of acceptance. If the opposite is true, and he follows good with evil, and as soon as Ramadaan is over he follows o­n from this with sins, heedlessness and turning away from the obedience of Allaah, then this is a proof that it hasn't been accepted." [3] Let not the Eid celebration symbolize a return to the vice you were o­nce in, for Alhamdulillah you have been shown the radiant light by way of Ramadhaan. Do not revisit the crooked path, but instead follow this nur and continue your beautiful journey seeking the Pleasure of Allah, seeking Al-Jannah, seeking His Face.

Surely we wish to be of the people of Taqwaa', and may Allah make it so. [Aameen].


[1] Sunnahs Neglected During Ramadhaan Shaykh al Albaanee
[2] The Inner Secrets of Fasting Imaam Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee
[3] A Successful Ramadhaan Shaykh Saalih Al Fawzaan

Friday, July 31, 2009

Introducing the new Mrs. G

Assalamu alaykum everyone,

It's been a while since I posted and I have a confession....a good one. I was busy preparing for my wedding :). Alhamdullilah, I got married earlier this week to a wonderful man MashaAllah , Mr. G.

I'm so sorry for keeping you all in the dark through the whole process and I'll be sure to fill you in with more details later InshaAllah. I don't have internet at home yet so am just sneaking in a quick post from the office, lol.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Authentic Jamaican food....In Jeddah

Jamaican Grill, an authentic Jamaican Restaurant is now open in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and has been getting good reviews MashaAllah. It's owned and operated by one of my best friends brothers, Rasheed Muncey a trained chef.

We’ve been eagerly awaiting the opening of Jamaican Grill since we first heard about it, and so it was refreshing to learn that not only is the founder of this restaurant Jamaican, he is also a trained chef, and one who is bringing a little bit of Carribean cuisine into the heart of Jeddah.

Jamaican Grill is pretty easy to find, in fact its hard not to miss if youre driving down Hera Street, the bright neon lights are a dead giveaway; lights that have been attracting Jeddahs youth like moths to a flame for the last month or so (according to the member of staff we spoke to). All were turned away with flyers detailing the forthcoming menu, but they may be happy to know their wait is now finally over. The Venue has its soft opening on the 2nd of July 2009.

Traditional Jamaican grub is served up in this carefully decorated restaurant, shoots of bamboo cover the walls from floor to ceiling, while photos from Jamaica adorn the walls. Elsewhere it’s easy to spot Jamaican memoribilia decorating the walls along with ornate boards detailing humourous takes on the Jamaican Alphabet and even Jamaican slang!

You can read the rest of the review from JeddahFood here.

MashaAllah! I feel so happy for them. May Allah Subhana wa ta'ala grant them success in this life and the next, Ameen!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Successfully Integrated and Niqabi Interrupted

This news item on the bbc made me wonder at the hidden agenda behind this.... is this some subtle way of telling the 'Muslim World' that no hijab = successfully integrated into American Society ? I wonder whats next...

Here's an interesting article written by Naima Robert about the Niqab and her choice to wear it, in response to Mr. Sarkozy.