Tag Archive | Ramadan

Make Your Ramadan More Effective This Year

Download the Ramadan Planner 2010

You are about to embark on a remarkable journey, along with a billion other souls across the world, to challenge and push yourself to greater heights.  Coming soon is a remarkable season of goodness, intense spirituality and soaring faith, with unimaginable opportunities for reward and virtue.  But all of this requires adequate preparation and planning.  Don’t let Ramadan this year catch you by surprise.  Remember that failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

أتاكم رمضان شهرٌ مباركٌ ، فرض اللهُ عليكم صيامَه ، تـُفتـَحُ فيه أبواب السماء و تـُغلــَقُ فيه أبواب الجحيم و تـُغـَلُّ فيه مَرَدَة ُ الشياطين ، فيه ليلة هي خير من ألف شهر ، من حُرمَ خيرها فقد حُرِم

Ramadan has come upon you, a blessed month.  Allah has obligated for you its fasting.  In this month, the heavens’ gates are opened, the gates of Hellfire are closed and the devils are chained.  In this month there is a night that is better than a thousand months.  Whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived indeed.

[Sunan al-Nasā’i 2079, Musnad Ahmad 6851, 9133, 8631, authenticated by al-Albani]

This was the Prophetic welcome of Ramadan, with which he would congratulate his Companions and celebrate the arrival of the month of Ramadan.  His Companions were known to anticipate and plan for this season for half a year and then miss it for another half.

All of us should formally welcome Ramadan as well.  So gather your family, hold a meeting, and get everyone ready.   Many Muslim societies have a beautiful practice of decorating or renovating their homes prior to Ramadan, and each of us should also thing of creative ways to send a signal to our families, friends and neighbors that this time is indeed very special.

Here are 7 things you can do to make this Ramadan more powerful.

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Imām Nawawī on the Taraweeh Prayer

The Prophet [peace be upon him] stated:

مَنْ قامَ رَمَضانَ، إِيماناً واحْتِساباً ، غُفِرَ له ما تَقدَّم مِنْ ذَنْبِه

Whoever stands for prayer in Ramadan with faith and anticipation, will have his previous sins forgiven.

[al-Bukhārī and Muslim]

Imām Nawawī [d 676H] states:

Standing in Ramaḍān refers to the Tarāwīḥ prayer.  The scholars agree upon the fact that it is a recommended prayer, but differ on whether solitary prayer in one’s house is more virtuous or the congregational form in the masjid.  The majority of scholars, including Imām al-Shāfi‘ī and most of his followers, Abū Ḥanīfah, Aḥmad, some of the Mālikī jurists and others, opine that the congregational prayer is more virtuous as this was practiced by ‘Umar and the rest of the Companions, and remains a practice of the Muslim nation and has become an overt symbol of the religion much like the ‘Eid prayer.  Imām Mālik, Abū Yūsuf the student of Abū Ḥanīfah, some Shāfi‘ī jurists and others hold the view that solitary prayer in one’s house is preferable due to the Prophetic saying:

أَفْضَلُ الصَّلَاةِ صَلَاةُ الْمَرْءِ فِي بَيْته إِلَّا الْمَكْتُوبَة

The best prayer is the prayer of a person in his house, apart from the obligatory prayers.


Celebrate Ramadan

Autumn LeavesThe ending of Ramadan is marked by festivities and cheers by all. Even those who don’t pray or fast do celebrate Eid. But why do we reserve our smiles and cheers for the end of Ramadan? This is a month of celebration, from beginning to end, and on each and every day. Farah (joy) is the flavor of this month. [click here to listen] (Based upon the editorial from the current Jumuah magazine)

Approaching the Noble Qur’an

 Allah’s blessings are so abundant that it is difficult to show gratitude in any meaningful way. Life itself, good health, a roof over our heads, sufficient food in our possession to last  a few days, they go on endlessly. But by far, the greatest of all of these blessings, above and beyond  any blessing you can enumerate, is the Book of Allah. It is for this reason Allah declares at the outset of Surah al-Kahf: “Praise is due to Allah, for revealing unto His servant the Book, not placing therein any crookedness.” [al-Kahf 18:1]


Part of showing gratitude for this esteemed blessing is to read this Noble Book and attempt to understand and implement it. The Qur’an was revealed in the month of Ramadan, and specifically on the Night of Power.

The Isti‘ādhah

When we open this Book, we find that it commands us to begin its reading in a particular way.


When you recite the Qur’an, seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Shaytan. [al-Nahl 16:98]


This supplication is called the isti‘ādhah and its formula is as follows:


أعُوذ ُ باِ للهِ مِنَ الشَّيطانِ الرَّجِيمِ


Now what is the wisdom and significance of the isti‘ādhah?


The greatness and virtue of studying the Qur’an is unimaginable, as we saw in the beautiful Hadith Qudsi from yesterday’s lesson. The Prophet also declared without reservation that the best people among the entire ummah are those who study and teach the Qur’an. Unfortunately, your enemy, Shaytān knows this fact all too well and will be doing his job to divert you. Hence the need for the isti‘ādhah.


Secondly, it is quite clear that in order to study and derive benefit from the Qur’an, one must rely on certain well-known means and tools, such as the Arabic language, proper works of tafsīr, knowledge of the life-history of the Holy Prophet, etc. The isti‘ādhah is an affirmation that the greatest tool and means of deriving benefit from the Noble Qur’an is supplicating the One who revealed it. This is an expression of our utter dependence on and complete need for Allah’s mercy and support. Hence we should constantly supplicate Allah to help us in all our affairs, especially if it involves His Noble Book.


There is one such supplication related to the Qur’an, a beatiful Prophetic du‘āh that shows us what our orientation should be towards the Qur’an:


 O Allaah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You name Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.’ [Musnad Ahmad, authenticated by al-Albani]


The Noble Qur’an should really be the springs of our hearts, the light of our chests and the erasor of our worries and concerns.


Today we live in an age of learning and study. Academic education is now considered a universal human right. While there is nothing wrong with that, the real crux of the matter is:


Read in the name of your Lord who created. [al-‘Alaq]


Real knowledge and learning is that which is connected to Allah. All other study is ignorance (jahālah). All other paths to learning lead to confusion. The Noble Qur’an is the only way out. The only way to a “Good Life” (Hayāt al-Tayyibah).


As for anyone – be it man or woman – who does righteous deeds, and is a believer withal – him shall We most certainly cause to live a good life, and most certainly shall We grant unto such as these their reward in accordance with the best that they ever did. [al-Nahl 16:97]


The Basmalah


It appears from a study of the Qur’an, Sunnah and Islamic works that it has been a divine method to begin all matters with Allah’s name. The Prophet Nuh rode his ark with Allah’s name, “And he said: Embark therein! In the name of Allah be its course and its mooring. Lo! my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful” [Hud 11:41]. The Prophet Sulayman began his letter to the Queen of Sheba with Allah’s name [al-Naml 27:30].


Likewise, all chapters of the Qur’an begin with the bamalah, the debate over whether it is a part of the surahs or external to them aside. The only exception is Surah al-Tawbah, which does not begin with it due to 2 possible reasons: its stern content relating to themes of jihad and dealing with hypocrites, etc. or its continuity with the previous chapter al-Anfāl. This fact is proof of the meticulous preservation and transmission of the Qur’an by the Companions and successive generations, for had it been a careless matter or related to our logic, the chapter may have began with it to preserve the “coherence” and continuity of the Qur’an.


The scholars of the Shafi‘ī legal school and others recite the basmalah aloud before each surah, considering it a portion of the surah. Our Hanafi school  considers the basmalah to be a continual verse of the Qur’an that should be recited at the beginning of recitation but is not necessarily the first verse of each surah.


Remember 4 key points relating to the basmalah:


  1. We have been commanded to recite with the basmalah [al-‘Alaq 96:1], so we should do so before every recitation.
  2. It is an Islamic custom and tradition to begin all tasks with Allah’s name. This is supported by a Prophetic hadith that deems any deed not beginning with Allah’s name as susceptible to failure.
  3. The basmalah contains 3 of Allah’s noble names and 2 of His key attributes (al-Rahmān and al-Rahīm), and so any deed beginning with it is truly blessed and worthy of Divine help. Al-Rahmān is the root of all Divine attributes, and the logical culmination of this attribute, the mercy of Allah, is the Qur’an, As he says, The Most Gracious is He who has taught the Qur’an (al-Rahmānu ‘allamal Qur’ān)  [al-Rahmān 55:1-2].
  4. If you make a habit of reciting the basmalah before each task, your sins will begin to diminish, for no person, however wretched, would dare to do evil deeds such as stealing with the recitation of Allah’s name.


Shaykh Yusuf Islahi,


Sep 10, 2008