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How can one take their worship up a level in this blessed month of Ramadan? Here are 6 things that will help you take your worship up a level:

Just focus

Bring yourself to the present moment and truly experience it all. When you wake up for the pre-dawn meal (suhoor), don’t do it heavily, dragging your weight about while groggily shoving food down to sustain you for the day. Instead, do it with purpose. Plan to wake up simply because it is a sunnah of our Prophet ﷺ, and because you know there are blessings in it.

Learn the words

When you stand for your salah, it has little impact when you don’t know what you’re actually reciting. Start small. Study the meanings of the various phrases said in salah as you transition from one position to another; study the meaning of Al-Fatiha if you don’t know it already. And when you know it, feel every verse. If you’re not sure where to start, why not download our Tell Me How to Pray E-Book.

Talk to Allah

More than anything else, Ramadan should be about building our relationship with Allah. And it only makes sense that part of the reason we feel disconnected and unconscious in our worship is because we don’t know who we’re worshipping, or who we’re talking to. To start to find out more about Allah swt, why not download our Tell Me About Allah E-Book.

You will stumble

You might fall. But the absolute most important thing is that you never stop trying. If you slip up one day and feel like your fast has been empty, void of all consciousness of what you were doing and why don’t use that as the go-ahead for the rest of your month. Use it as a turning point and a reminder of what you should be working for. And when you know it, feel every verse. If you’re not sure where to start, why not download our Tell Me How to Pray E-Book.

Do only as much as you can handle

Don’t become overzealous, planning to do everything that gets reward during this month. Hours of lengthy Qur’an recitation cease to be meaningful when you’re reciting just to get through them but your heart is not connected.

Remember the reward

Our hunger means nothing when it is mindless and unconscious of Allah. we need to remind ourselves of our reward with Allah. Without that, everything is pointless and empty.

 

Adapted from an article posted by Free Quran Education

Ramadan is still a dream for me I am a convert keeping my Islam secret for 7 years now. Every Ramadan is a hope for me that one day I will do Ramadan and fast in that month ☺️ SubhanAllah from sister Hafeeza, 31, living in India.  Sometimes we can take our fasting, ability to pray, to educate ourselves openly for advantage. For many reverts, keeping their Islam a secret is usually out of fear for their lives or of societal rejection. Family culture and traditions can control the structure and relationships of a household. Yet we find these brave souls, by the mercy of Allah swt, discovering Islam amongst such a tight web. Alhamdulilah, Sister Hafeeza has kept her emaan, her love for Allah swt for 7 years, not giving up.

Holding on to that rope of Allah swt whilst facing so much aversion from family, friends etc is extremely hard. It takes so much strength and passion in wanting a different lifestyle for yourself. In honesty, it takes a great amount of love and fear of Allah swt with the aim to please Him, to do the right thing. But it usually comes with insults, threats, being ostracised, loneliness, rejection, being told you are mental and so on. Telling your family is not an easy conversation.

Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“There shall come upon the people a time in which the one who is patient upon his religion will be like the one holding onto a burning ember.”

Remember this Ramadhan, do not take your Islam for granted. Your ability to fast and pray openly is a blessing. The blessing is this – you can develop yourself inwardly and outwardly. When you are not being restricted or practising in secret, you can really make huge changes in your life, there is no limit to how much you can advance yourself in faith.

We pray Allah swt protects all our revert brothers and sisters, who from fear, hide their faith. We ask Allah swt the Most-Wise, to grant them the ease to practice their faith openly. Ameen.

Week 2: Ramadan – A month not to be lazy!

عن أنس بن مالك -رضي الله عنه- قال: كان رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- يقول: ((اللهم إني أعوذ بك من العَجْزِ، والكَسَلِ، وَالجُبْنِ، والهَرَمِ، والبخل، وأعوذ بك من عذاب القبر، وأعوذ بك من فتنة المحيا والممات)) مسلم 2706

Anas RA said that the Prophet SAW used to say: O Allah, I seek refuge with You from weakness, laziness, cowardice, senility, and miserliness. And I seek refuge with You from the torment of the grave. And I seek refuge with You from the trials of life and death.’ (Muslim) This is one of the oft-repeated dua’s made by the Prophet SAW.  From amongst the things the Prophet SAW sought refuge from was laziness.  He would ask Allah to protect him from this and this is the point of discussion in this reminder; laziness.
Being in the month of Ramadan it is even more pertinent we fully understand the concept of laziness and the impact it can have on our lives.  We can truly understand this by dividing laziness into two categories like some of the scholars have said:

1)     Laziness of the mind – This is when a person cannot and does not reflect or ponder over the great blessings Allah has bestowed upon us with from our health, wealth and children.  Alongside this we don’t see the creation around us from its natural beauty and lush green lands.  As Allah says in the Qur’an

 

الَّذِينَ يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ قِيَامًا وَقُعُودًا وَعَلَىٰ جُنُوبِهِمْ وَيَتَفَكَّرُونَ فِي خَلْقِ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ (ال عمران:191)

 

Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth   (Al Imran: 191)

2)     Laziness of the body – This is everything that culminates concerning our limbs falling short in the worship of Allah.  This includes things like not praying in congregation, not seeking knowledge, not rushing to do those deeds which are beloved to Allah from the acts of worship.  All of this is to do with laziness pertaining to our body.

This month is a month where we train our bodies and mind to reflect on the blessings we have been given by Allah and to remove laziness from our bodies when it comes to His worship.  We ask Allah to remove all forms of laziness from our lives, Ameen!

Today’s blog is written by a very special friend of mine. She is a White British revert and has been a Muslim for over 14 years. Sarah inspires me in every single conversation I have with her. It is her sincerity for wanting to be better and her genuine gratitude for being a Muslim that I love. She is a quiet, reflective, inner peace and calm type, whilst I’m a reflect then talk and talk and get over-excited type!

Sarah has overcome many tests mashaAllah by keeping close to Allah swt, and to her husband. She is doing an incredible job of raising amazing children; so when you read this know that it comes from a place of wisdom.

As salaamu Alaikum…

Ramadaan for me I think has always been a little difficult. Since becoming a Muslim many years ago…that feeling of being incredibly hungry but wanting to feel a sense of peace and connection…and not always achieving it…not until my own children started to want to fast. 

The past few years have been incredible for me, watching my children have a desire to fast the month with us, watching them grow, taking them to taraweh was when I really felt Ramadaan. Not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally. 

Having little family traditions that will live within them forever, praying together, abstaining from food and water together, learning together, growing together was the real highlight for me. 

Last year my eldest daughter said to me that she had her best ever Ramadaan, she felt that she had attained a real connection with Allah and really benefited from her fasting and all of the ebadah that she had done – may Allah accept it from her and from all of us aameen. 

Of all the struggles that we go through as reverts these moments of connection with Allah and our children are the things that I’m eternally grateful for. 

May Allah allow us to reach Ramadaan and make it our best yet!!!

Sarah 

 

Once you experience that connection with Allah swt and that sweetness, you will find that He gives you so much strength in continuing through all of life’s struggles. Allah swt is surely the giver of ease, the most gentle, loving and most powerful. That sweet moment will keep you going just to taste that sweetness all over again. You will have the strength to get through everything because you know Allah swt is with you in every moment. Nothing else matters.

May Allah swt bless Sarah and all her family, Ameen.

Today I would like you to read a reflection written by brother Anish, 44, London.

What stood out to me in this blog is the determination, the step-by-step journey, the knowing attitude that ‘I am doing this for Allah swt and it is good for me’.

I took my shahada in the late summer of 2002, it was roughly 8-10 weeks before Ramadan. I was steadily learning about my new faith and I had kept it a secret from my family. Coming up to Ramadan, I had decided to disclose the secret to my parents, as I believed that the shayateen were locked up during this month, therefore it would soften the blow somehow. I decided to leave some Ramadan and other dawah material in my room, hoping my mother or my sister would see it, again, hoping it would not be a surprise when I tell them.

Building up to Ramadan I could sense the anxiety in my Muslim friends and not many of them were practising Muslims. Therefore, my initial anticipation of Ramadan was that it was going to be a ‘scary’ and arduous time.

As soon as maghrib of Ramadan set in, I felt instantly different. Fear turner into tranquillity and I was feeling suddenly connected to the masjid. I had probably visited the masjid on less than 5 occasions in the preceding 3 months. I remember praying esha and tarawih that night, then readying myself for the next morning.  My friend gave me a timetable to follow, alluding to the start times and finishing times is all I need to know.

I woke up early the next morning, forcing myself to eat my suhoor and pouring all the water down my throat. Then made my way to the masjid for fajr, I had planned to go to work straight after. No one warned me that liquids do not stay in that long and what goes in equally comes out. Nearly had an accident on the way to the masjid, just about made it in time.

The day was extremely difficult, I was constantly looking at the clock, waiting for 4.40pm. There was even a free lunch (feasts in those days) from the medical sales rep at work on that day. I was not that bothered about the lunch all I wanted was my bed. I have never tried harder to stay awake in my life. Looking back at it now, it was not even that long of a day. I still think to this day, this was my most difficult fast. Maghrib eventually came and I broke my fast, water and a cheese sandwich had never tasted so nice up to that point in my life. 

I felt like a sense of achievement finishing my first fast. The feeling did not last long when I looked at the time table and saw the other 29 days on the calendar. Boy, how was I going to go through this month? My emaan was still under development at that moment in time and the thing that kept me going was, If I missed a fast with no valid reason, then I would have to fast 60 days.  

The next day came along and I repeated the routine, crossed off another day on my calendar. Again momentarily feeling a sense of accomplishment till I saw the remaining days left on the calendar.

For some reason, I thought it was the ‘fajar jammat’ time was the starting time, so I would eat and drink up to that point. I nearly did that for the whole month till I was corrected.

Then some days into the month, my parents confronted me, why was I waking up so early and where was I going so early in the morning. Eventually, I told them about my conversion and I still remember the look on their faces. I was expecting an angry, upsetting confrontation. But what I received in return was confusion and puzzled faces. Naively thinking, that was not too bad after all, felt enormous relief, Now I could tell the whole world, this does not have to be a secret anymore. The next few months and years were very different after the reality had kicked in.

Ploughing through the days, going to the masjid in the evening, it became an easier routine. I had managed to keep all the fasts which was a great relief and a sense of joy at the end of the month. Armed with this sense of achievement I believed I could accomplish anything. Soon I dropped my smoking habit where I failed numerous times before my first Ramadan.

I hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did. Having to plan how and when to tell your parents that you are a Muslim is daunting, if not stomach churningly terrifying. The learning of how to fast, figuring out timings of suhoor, the difficulty of working, clock watching, and yet, despite all of this, being overcome by such an overwhelming sense of achievement at the end of the day –  Subhanallah. Brother Anish has truly touched on so many realities. He has inspired me with his love and determination for the deen, his achievements and sheer willpower.

Please share your comments and make dua that Allah swt increases our brother in emaan, gives him good in this world and the next, Ameen.

Week 1 – A month that will intercede on our behalf on the Day of Judgement! The first week of Ramadan has passed us by like the blinking of an eye.  Next week will pass us by even quicker, and before we know it, Ramadan will have ended. Imagine yourself on the day of judgement with nothing. No wealth, no position, no family, no friends. Everyone worried and concerned about themselves. Standing before your Lord, everything will be accounted for, everything you have said and done in this life.  This is the moment you will need something or someone to intercede on your behalf, as your deeds alone will not get you into paradise.

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو ، أَنّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ، قَالَ:”الصِّيَامُ وَالْقُرْآنُ يَشْفَعَانِ لِلْعَبْدِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، يَقُولُ الصِّيَامُ: أَيْ رَبِّ، مَنَعْتُهُ الطَّعَامَ وَالشَّهَوَاتِ بِالنَّهَارِ، فَشَفِّعْنِي فِيهِ، وَيَقُولُ الْقُرْآنُ: مَنَعْتُهُ النَّوْمَ بِاللَّيْلِ، فَشَفِّعْنِي فِيهِ، قَالَ فَيُشَفَّعَانِ”

`Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم, said: The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” (Imam Ahmad)
The scholars have mentioned that the Quran will intercede for those who read it and act upon it. Similarly, our fasts will intercede for us if we perfect them, by controlling our tongues and staying away from prohibited acts. So, this intercession needs to be earned. We need to take hold of this opportunity that we have in front of us…but the month is quickly passing us by.  On the day of judgement, what would we give to have something intercede on our behalf? We have an incredible opportunity with us this month so let’s make the most of it!
Assalaam’alaykum, It has taken me some time to write this blog as I have been moving house. My head was overtaken by carpets, paint and walls being knocked out. Alhamdulillah, I’m in a new house just in time to begin Ramadhan.

I couldn’t write until I had my ‘moment’. My ‘moment’ is that time of pure sincerity and concentration, you know, the one moment where you can say without a doubt that you focused entirely on Allah swt. Ashamedly sometimes that moment lasts only 3 minutes but honestly, it is the best 3 minutes ever. It gives you a boost, a recharge and the will to continue! For me, it was in fajr salaah after Suhoor this morning.

I had this desperation in me, this plea with Allah swt: Ya Allah it is You I need and You I seek help from, please please Ya Allah guide me to the straight path, not the wrong one where I will cause You to be displeased with me, pleeeeease.

Often in life, I do not know if I am doing the right thing, making the right decisions. Often in life, at key times like Eid, Ramadhan and yes even the old celebratory days like my birthday, I find myself completely alone. I have learnt that in those times I have my strongest ‘moments’ and so I have learnt not to dwell in self-pity or cry (too much). Instead, I have come to understand this is part of a plan and is good for me.

Alhamdulillah, I can only say it is through my several 3-minute moments in life that I have found Allah swt to be my best friend. He is always there, and always comforts me. SubhaanAllah, I tell the truth when I say that sometimes after my moment a friend will call and invite me round, or knock on my door or sometimes it is just an immediate ease of the heart.

More recently I have learnt how to be grateful at times when I’m low, not only at easy blessed times; that was difficult! I have trained myself to temporarily but politely block out people or situations that will make me sad, and then focus on all the good around me. That might mean you speak less to people, why? Because sometimes when talking to others you will talk about your problems, reminding yourself with sadness constantly on your tongue and heart. Whereas taking some time out and making yourself busy can help with that gratitude mindset. Give yourself a ‘pick me up’, it is amazing! Recognise your own behaviour patterns and know when to go quiet for a little while in order to give yourself that positivity boost.

Saying all that, my friends are brilliant too. Alhamdulillah. I always say to reverts – find a pious circle of friends, not just one or two. I can’t rely on two friends, they will get burned out with the amount of love I seek off them. I have an entire family and extended family to replace! I am now blessed with an entire family and extended, made of pious friends. Alhamdulillah.

So back to my suhoor, this is what it has looked like for the past 3 years: I have my tea and toast, large glass of warm water, I sit on the floor with my back against the radiator (which has been timed to come on 30mins before my alarm to get up) my feet are pressed against an American style fridge freezer (recently featured in a post by brother Saleem from GLM who helped the house move), the view to my left is the beautiful night sky, the moon, the view to my right is my front door – not much to say about that! The sound whilst prepping food is Qur’an and whilst sitting to eat it is a short video by Sh. Yasir Qadhi / Sh. Omar Sulayman / Sh. Ahsan Hanif – any of the short daily Ramadhan reminders. I am perfectly alone – just me and Allah swt. I love it. The stillness. I can concentrate, I can feel, really feel the atmosphere and the spiritual side. It is my favourite part of Ramadhan.

So, this Ramadhan if you are alone, if you are struggling to connect to Allah swt, if you are looking at others who have family, if you have a deep sadness – find your moment. Find your moment with Allah swt and make Him your best friend. Aim for gratitude. It is hard, I know. When you’re sad it doesn’t come easy, but try…just try, and keep training that mindset. Have an iftar with friends. The prophet (peace be upon him) advised us to surround ourselves with pious people for a reason. There is no room for shyness when you are trying to improve your deen and become a stronger person, so don’t be shy in needing others sometimes.

Life is a balance; at times you need to be alone to reflect upon Allah swt and at times you need to be with people to keep you smiling. Take this Ramadhan as your ‘moment’ with Allah swt – train yourself and set that goal. The outcome? You will learn to rely only on Him.

Allah swt says in the Qur’an: ‘Is Allah not sufficient for His servant?’ (39:36).

To conclude, I have asked others to share their Ramadhan reflections this year, so I will be posting them in due course (once I’ve unpacked some boxes, oh I forgot to mention my first suhoor in this house this year – alone obviously, surrounded by boxes, wiring, the fridge was not in a comfortable position and the radiator was covered in plaster dust – still amazing though alhamdulillah). Please look out for Ramadhan Reflections and share widely! Let’s spread our message.

Have a blessed Ramadhan.

We are about to enter the month of Ramadan. A very special month in the Islamic calendar, a month that is full of mercy and an abundance of opportunities to increase in our worship to gain more reward and strengthen our connection with Allah.

Some of us will feel very excited, although for some, this excitement will come with a hint of trepidation, especially for those that have not fasted before. Some will feel nervous and daunted by it all, wondering how it is possible to go for a whole day without food and drink, others will wonder how they are going to go through it by themselves sometimes without those around them not even aware that they are fasting. Whatever your situation you can be assured that you won’t be alone in feeling this way.

We at Islamwise are here to help you get through this month and emerge stronger in your faith and yearning for the next Ramadan. To ensure we make the most of this beautiful month we are sharing some tips that will hopefully help you maximise your share of the reward in shaa Allah (If Allah Wills).

Short-term fasting has many health benefits, fasting for the whole month is slightly different though, for some people, they just breeze through it, but many will notice some disruption to their sleep and food consumption. This can have a knock-on effect on the rest of our health and affect our mood and productivity. Therefore, we need to give our bodies a little help to minimise any negative effects of fasting.

Get plenty of sleep; This is not going to be eight hours of solid sleep as you will be waking up for suhoor (Pre-Dawn Meal), so you will need to plan a nap or naps to make up for the shortfall. Remember that these should be short naps and not you sleeping the whole day as this will take away from the reward of fasting.

Food Consumption: Ideally, we should practice fasting earlier in the year in the run up to Ramadan, there are many voluntary fasts that one can observe for extra reward that have other benefits too. However, many of us may not have been able to keep these fasts. So, we should try and go for longer periods without food to get our stomachs used to not being constantly filled with something. If you can’t do this then don’t worry as its usually only the first few days that you will find difficult, our bodies adapt fairly quickly.

Tiredness and Fatigue; this can really affect people in the middle of the month when the initial euphoria and enthusiasm starts to wane. It’s good to have some reminders of the rewards and the virtues of this month that can help keep us motivated. Eating properly will also help, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and keeping ourselves hydrated will help us feel energetic. Fried and sugary food should be kept to a minimum although we know everyone loves a samosa or two in Ramadan!

Finally, let us remember the primary objective of fasting, which is to increase in Taqwa (Awareness and fear of Allah) “O you who believe, Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (piety)” [Qur’aan 2:183]

Fasting helps us in gaining in Taqwa in many ways, we will focus on just two for now.

We give up food and drink for Allah, there is no worldly gain, so this makes us more aware of our purpose in life which is to worship Allah. Secondly, most of us will engage in extra worship such as night prayers, reading the Quran and many give more in charity. We do this in hope of a reward from Allah and to help us to gain a place in Paradise, where we will get to see Allah, reminding us of the ultimate reward and that is seeing the face of Allah, in shaa Allah.

May Allah allow us to fast the month of Ramadan and make it a means to gain nearness to Him, Aameen.

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