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Battling Loneliness During Ramadan

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Battling Loneliness during Ramadan

Although Ramadan is known for those who are born Muslim as a time of community and family gatherings just like any typical holiday season, for the new Muslim it’s just not.

When you’re going through a test alongside someone else, it’s a bit easier. So, what can the convert to Islam do, on their own, to make Ramadan special?

Virtual Family

The New Muslim Academy forums are busy with activity all year. Why not join the discussion?  Great pains are taken to ensure that all students are converts to Islam, so you will be discussing Ramadan, breaking fast alone, predawn meals in secret and other topics with people that are going through the same struggles that you are experiencing.

Break Fast with a Lecture

Plan ahead, and look for a great lecture to watch or listen to while you eat your break-fast meal.  You will really benefit from listening to someone’s voice so it may as well be someone who is teaching you something new! Here are some recommended lectures:

“The Prophet’s Ramadan” series

“The Prophetic Day” series

“Building the Foundation” series

Be the Host with the Most

You could get rewards multiplied by hosting a dinner at your home, at which you break your fast with your family, co-workers or fellow students.  Everyone loves to eat! If you invite people to come and eat when you are having dinner, it will be a great way to introduce your new faith.

The charity that you spend on your family and neighbors is also greatly rewarded. Consider inviting a few non-Muslims, who are close to you, love you and accept you for who you are, over while you break your fast.

Have mercy on yourself and make it a potluck, explaining your dietary restrictions, and the time of day that you will be breaking your fast. The fastest way to a person’s heart is through his/her belly!

May God bless your heart with gratefulness and satisfaction in your chosen faith and Way of God, and may He ease your emotional hurt of loneliness this Ramadan.

What Fasting Does For You

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What Fasting Does for You

God has prescribed fasting for us, so that means there’s good in it.  The word used in the Quran is  ‘prescribed’. What does that mean?
It’s like a doctor’s prescription: it helps. It heals, and by the permission of God, cures.
Here are some things that fasting can do for your body, and your soul:


Fasting improves brain function, and because the body doesn’t produce as much hormones to use for digestion, stress levels are lowered.
Losing weight in Ramadan helps your body detoxify, as toxins in the fat stores will be eliminated through fasting and losing weight.
The fast of Ramadan helps the body achieve a greater metabolism which has many known health benefits.


Gaining mindfulness of God, as is mentioned in the Quran, “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” 2:183
Renewed commitment to obedience to God, as mundane acts like eating and drinking are avoided for His sake
Confidence in the strength of your belief is supported for each successful fasting day
Unselfishness blossoms in the heart of the mindful fasting Muslim as we consider those less fortunate who are hungry all year
If not a communal feeling of brotherhood, a spiritual one can be felt in the heart during Ramadan as we fast along with the Muslims in the rest of the world

When the doc says no to fasting: some rulings for the New Muslim

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When the doc says no to fasting: some rulings for the New Muslim

Whether it’s a temporary or permanent illness, being too sick to fast is no fun.  You want to be able to fast, but it is harmful to your health, unlike other Muslims who have been blessed with good enough health.
Fasting is a big part of participating in Ramadan, but thankfully it’s not the only way you can worship God at this time.  We’ll explore what else you can do during Ramadan when you can’t fast, but first let’s discover when it’s allowed to break the fast.
 “Fast for a specific number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, then on other days later..” (2:184)
This is the part of the Quran that the scholars use to prove that someone who is sick does not have to fast.  It means that if a person is sick enough to be exempt from fasting, they can make up those days after Ramadan when they are feeling better.  But how sick do you have to be, to break your fast?
If fasting will make your sickness unbearable, then the scholars have said that it’s allowed to break your fast.  After all, the Quran says “God does not burden a soul with more than it can bear” (2:186). You know yourself, and your condition, to know how much discomfort you can bear in order to be able to fast.
You might have an illness that doesn’t make fasting hard to do, but will worsen or lengthen the time that you are sick.  If at least one doctor tells you that fasting will make you sicker, then it is better for you to break your fast.  You can fast if you like, but it is better not to do so.
Some of you might have to take medications that are prescribed to be taken throughout the day. Break your fast while you are on these meds.
Maybe your sickness doesn’t fall under any of the above categories.  Perhaps fasting doesn’t make it impossible, or you don’t have medicine to take. However, if your sickness is severe enough that breaking your fast will help you get better quicker, then you should break your fast.
Did you know you can also break your fast while you are travelling?  The hardship of travel is made worse by avoiding food and drink, so the phrase from the Quran mentioned above shows us that you are exempt from fasting while you travel.
It’s really hard to break your fast.  It’s a real accomplishment to make it for the whole day.  But if you’ve forced yourself to the point of extreme discomfort in order to fast, then perhaps you are missing the point.
There are many benefits to participating in worship during Ramadan.  The patience that is required to fast can be exercised outside of fasting, too.  Practice being patience and avoid arguing, just like those who are fasting.  Go out of your way to be kind to people. Recite and listen to Quran. Pray to God and use the nighttime for devotion.
If your illness is of a type that you don’t expect to ever be able to fast, then instead of fasting you can feed one person for each day that you have missed fasting.  You can cook the food yourself, and feed the poor, or donate money to Islamic charities who feed the poor on your behalf.

Covert Fasting for Converts to Islam

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Covert Fasting for Converts

Dear New Muslim

Even though you feel alone, and this Ramadan is a struggle, we are proud of you and praying for you.

Every pain you feel and every challenge you face we increase in your love. We support you and wish to provide you with some tools to help you at this trying time.

Keep in mind that each circumstance and situation calls for a different course of action. The following are only suggestions and you are best suited to implement what works for you.

Muslims around the world share the bond of fasting as a brotherhood around the world.  A big part of the difficulty of fasting is relieved when everyone around you is also fasting, openly.

But what if no one knows you’re Muslim?  Many of us, New Muslims, have not disclosed the decision of embracing Islam to our family and loved ones.

 How can you fast when everyone expects you to eat?  In some situations, your family may not have accepted your conversion to Islam and will pressure you to eat.

Here are some creative ways that you can use to avoid the awkwardness of being the only one in the room not eating:

 6 Tips for Fasting in Secret

1. Deflect and Avoid

If invited to a dinner or a party, excuse yourself out.  No one can force you to attend a gathering, like a birthday, where partaking in food will play a central role.  You can opt out of that cake and ice cream by simply telling your family, friends, or co-workers, that you “don’t feel like it”. You can soften the blow by asking for a rain check and promising to make it up to them at a different time.

2. Excuses, excuses

If getting out of the gathering is unavoidable, simply refrain from eating. You may opt out at the table, and join in the conversation.  There is no need to lie or make up a false excuse. It is doubtful that you will be pressured to eat if you refuse, and unlikely that someone present will force you to eat. If you are physically forced to eat, you would be excused and should not feel guilty.

3. Get busy

If you are at home and there is an event that will put pressure on you to eat or drink, you could make yourself busy in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house, preparing for the guests. You can stay busy while the meal is served, or start cleaning up.

4. Home away from home

If you predict that when you return home at a certain time, you will be caught fasting, then stay out. Go to the library or to a museum or another place that will occupy your time until you imagine the meal at home is over. Your alibi can be reinforced if you take up a class that brings you home after the sun has set.

5. Time for Eating

If invited out, or to plan an event where you will feel this pressure, plan it so that it extends past the time the sun sets.  You can duck out to offer your prescribed ritual devotion and come back to the event to break your fast.  If the choice is there to decide between a daytime or night-time gathering, choose the late one so that you can eat and drink along with the rest of the group.

Build Your Faith While Alone

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Build your Faith While Alone

Being in a group of Muslims remembering God can be a great boost for our faith. For those of us who are not blessed with the ability to mingle with observant Muslims and benefit from them, it can be a struggle to increase faith in our hearts. While some new Muslims have access to physical Muslim communities, many of us are on our own to seek knowledge without real life community. Many of us find other Muslims virtually but it causes so much confusion due to conflicting information and the vulnerability of not knowing who to ask and who to listen to.

You are reading this online, which means you are already aware of the programs that the New Muslim Academy offers for new Muslims.  We have a forum to which you can contribute your conversion story, introduce yourself, and take part in discussions.

The most important step to building your faith in Islam is finding a trustworthy, empathetic and qualified teacher.  The teachers at NMA specialize in your service and are wisely aware of the struggles you go through. Continue to come back to the site to voice your concerns. Chances are, other converts to Islam are wondering the same things that are of concern to you.

With NMA, your knowledge base is covered. You can also find an avenue for social interactions with others going through your struggles.

What we find when we look into building faith in Islam is that it is a solitary activity.  Our relationship with God is an intimate one which takes dedication and consistency to build and strengthen. Consider the following acts which can help you strengthen your faith in Islam on a  daily basis:

1.Speak to God regularly and ask Him for help
2. Try to be consistent in offering your prescribed ritual devotion
3.Open the pages of the Quran randomly and read the translation of the phrases therein
4.Spend time alone each day without distractions or noise, whether at home or outdoors, and contemplate your surroundings, considering that God put all of it in motion through His wisdom and mercy.

The biggest mistake made with prayer

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The biggest mistake made with prayer

Interesting history tidbit: prior to Islam, the Arabs used the word ‘Salah’ which merely meant prayer. It meant the casual, any-time talking to God that has no rules or prerequisites. After God sent down the Quran, however, this word took on an entirely different meaning. The new meaning of ‘Salah’ is prescribed ritual devotion.


Translating ‘Salah’ as prayer is a mistake and causes confusion for many reasons, especially for new Muslims.

  1. While a person maybe used to just talking to God and asking Him for things, some people tell the new Muslim that prayer cannot be offered without ritual washing first, and facing a certain direction. This results in many new Muslims not praying to God outside of the prescribed ritual devotion.

  2. The supplications that the Messenger of God said and taught were all in Arabic since that was his language. The new Muslim gets the impression that as a Muslim one must talk to God in Arabic alone. This creates an invisible language barrier in our relationship with God.

  3. Offering the prescribed ritual devotion is a struggle for new Muslims. Having the wrong impression that Salah and prayer are one and the same, many feel very depressed as they feel that their worship has no meaning or is completely useless due to lack of punctually.


Most new Muslims (and born Muslims for that matter) are not Arabic-speaking.  The offering of the prescribed ritual devotion begins as something mechanical, involving body movements and foreign words.  Making sure to make this devotion on time each day is hard enough.  If the new Muslim has been told that prayer is “Salah”, they become frustrated as they are not communicating with God intimately and can not find spiritual fruits in their devotion.


Here is the good news for everyone, especially new Muslims:

“You don’t need to know Arabic to talk to God, nor to communicate with Him!

You don’t need to know Arabic to learn about Islam, or to pray to God.

Speak to God in your own language with your own words.

Prayer is something very important in Islam and is something we should do at all times. “

Shaykh Ahmad Al Kurdy

Your Fast Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

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You Don’t Have to Be Perfect.
Once I met a nice woman who was interested in Islam, learning a lot about its regulations. She even learned how to perform the ritual devotion before she became Muslim.
She had it in her head that once she becomes Muslim, she wanted to start off getting everything right.  But what she was trying to do, is not even possible. She thought she could get it perfect on the first try.
The point of the story is that when she accepted Islam, she realized that there was still a lot  more to learn, and a lot more to do. Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Many people get overwhelmed because they do not follow the prophetic guidance of gradual growth with proper guidance. They also start learning about regulations before the fundamental beliefs and basic foundations.
When you try fasting, and worshiping during Ramadan, just try your best.  God accepts all good deeds done for His sake, not just the perfected ones.  Check out what God says regarding trying:
“I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with my servant when he mentions Me.
If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself;
and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it.
If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length.
And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him fast.’”
So, trying is rewarded by God.  Ramadan is a month when each Muslim has the chance to look inside themselves and work on their shortcomings.  It’s a time of mercy, that we can have mercy on ourselves, and take our time in our own development.
Last year, I attended a webinar of super-wealthy Muslims who told us about their Ramadan goals. One amazing man mentioned he had a goal to feed 200,000 Muslims during the month Ramadan.  I have no doubt that he accomplished that.
At first, I thought, ‘What is that, compared to me just feeding my family?’
Then I remembered the spirit of Ramadan is NOT comparing yourself to others, but comparing yourself at the beginning, and the end of the month, and coming out a better Muslim.
So I’m writing this to say that you should take little steps towards whatever personal goals you have this Ramadan. If you beg God to help, and take those tiny steps, you will have a successful Ramadan.
Check out the tips in this Ramadan ebook. We have your back, and are here to help you achieve the greatness that you hope for in yourself.


The Definition of living Means Change

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BY: Sakina


Of the simplest science lessons offered to children is deciding whether a thing in the creation is living or nonliving.  Observation tells us that non-living things do not move, grow or change.  Change is the primary way that we can judge whether something created is living or not.  Having accepted Islam, you have changed something inside your heart.  You have decided to concern yourself with devotion to God and to prioritize your life for His worship. Although there may not be any physical change that people can notice about you, the most important change has taken place: a change of heart.


While you may go about your business throughout your day, you feel a renewed sense of purpose.  You may still attend work or school, prepare food, and groom yourself like before, but you may feel like you are doing these things for the first time.  A secret identity that you had has now become public. The real you is before the world.


What’s hard about embracing this new identity, is that those who knew you before you accepted Islam do not expect things to change.  You may find friends and family members who appreciate the ‘new’ you, but you will encounter among your contacts people who want everything to stop changing, to stagnate.  It will be challenging to pull away despite their wish that the motion of life should stop.  Life is all about changing, and the best changes are those that facilitate growth.  At times you feel ten feet tall, and other times you may feel smaller than you have ever been. Don’t let your past mistakes define who you are. Whatever bad decisions you made prior to accepting Islam, God will forgive you for doing, and reward you for changing for the better.


Stories abound from Islamic history of those with terrible pasts accepting Islam and erasing their sins by achieving excellence as Muslims.  What did these people possess that caused them to excel? What secret, what key component did they have that allowed them to rise above their dubious pasts and reach levels of greatness among Muslims? It was guidance.


Guidance was also the reason that those with good character and behavior as non Muslims were drawn to Islam, as they are shown the right way to God.


Guidance was the secret ingredient that made all the Prophets of God stand out, too. Be pleased that you share in that beautiful, amazing legacy of following the guidance that came to you.  You can also become an excellent Muslim. You can achieve a high status with God; you have an equal chance with every single Muslim to succeed at practicing Islam.


You can stand, as all amazing Muslims of the past did, in front of God when you pray, and beg for guidance from Him.  All the great Muslims prayed with that same prayer in the very first chapter of the Quran: it is a prayer requesting guidance, consistent guidance, an increase of guidance and firmness on the path. You are now a Muslim, and that is the first step. That opens the door. Keep moving, keep requesting the guidance of God, and He will place you on that well tread path.

Seeking Change in 2017

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These Are 8 Habits From The Quran for the New Muslim To Achieve Greatness

Greatness! We seek it, but often times in the wrong places.


God tells us in the Quran, “When guidance in revelation comes to you from Me, as it certainly will, there will be no fear for those who follow My guidance nor will they grieve.” 2:38


As new Muslims, we’ve made a lot of changes.  Let’s try to really transform ourselves in 2017, let’s take inspiration from these 8 habits from the Quran to achieve success and greatness in our lives.


  1. Spend time consciously listing what you are grateful for in your life


“Remember that your Lord promised, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you.” 14:7


It’s that simple. If what you seek is more of something, then consciously thank God for what you already have. Make a daily list of 3 things you are grateful for in your day.


  1. Stay focused on your target and race towards it


“Race toward your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in God and His messengers. That is God’s bounty which He bestows to whomever He pleases. God’s bounty is infinite.” 57:21


In more than one place in the Quran, God reminds us to race and be among the first towards doing good. To be a competitor in any race, one must have a target and a direct path towards it.


Make it a habit to take immediate action toward your goals, rather than delaying and procrastinating.


  1. Find your burning desire and motivation


“God does not change the condition of a people (for the worse) unless they change what is in themselves.” 13:11


We procrastinate or struggle with consistency when there is a lack of burning desire and motivation to achieve a goal. The more passion for a goal, the more persistent we should be.


Seek what excites you, take the steps, have a sense of self-responsibility, and God will magnify your results.  


  1. Ask God for every need, no matter how minuscule


“I am near. I respond to those who call Me” 2:186


Muhammad the Messenger taught us to ask God for our every need, even for salt or for a sandal strap when it breaks.  As converts to Islam, we may think that asking God for small things is not correct, yet we have this wonderful report from the Prophet.


We should convert our goals, milestones, and resolutions into supplications and prayers. Let’s ask God to help us achieve our dreams and greatest desires.


  1. Ask God for good in both this world and the next


“There are some who pray, ‘Our Lord give us good in this world’ and they will have no share in the Hereafter: others pray, ‘Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.’ “2:201


God teaches us to ask for goodness of both this world and the Hereafter. It is encouraged to ask for worldly needs (like career, marriage, health, or even leisure), so long as we are also asking for success in the next life.


  1. Structure and plan your day around the five daily prescribed ritual devotions


“When the prescribed ritual devotion has ended, disperse in the land and seek out God’s bounty. Remember God often so you may prosper.” 62:10


Our first priority of the day is to perform the five daily prescribed ritual devotions on time. This will first, ground us and increase blessings in our day, and second, result in productivity and consciousness of time.  As new Muslims this can be the most difficult change in our lives to make, but it is also the most important.


  1. Sleep early and start your day at dawn


“Did they not see that We gave them the night for rest, and the day for light? There truly are signs in this for those who believe.” 27:86


“Perform the prescribed ritual devotion (formal prayers) in the period from the time the sun is past its zenith till the darkness of the night, and recite the Quran at dawn. Dawn recitation is always witnessed (by the angels).” 17:78


Even the most successful people in the business and academic world start their day at dawn. Seek blessings from the words of God by reading from the Quran soon after your dawn prescribed ritual. You will find that your most productive work is in the morning, and your most restful sleep is at night.


  1. Stop and smell the flowers


“Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides. Who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth: ‘Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose–You are far above that!– Protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’ ” 3:191


“In the creation of the heavens and earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the great ships that sail the seas with goods for people; in the water which God sends down from the sky to give life to the earth when it has been baren, scattering all kinds of creatures over it; in the changing of the winds and clouds that run their appointed courses between the sky and earth; there are signs in all these for those who use their minds.” 2:164


“It is He who spread out the earth, placed firm mountains and rivers on it; and made two of every kind of fruit; He causes night to cover the day. There truly are signs for people who reflect.” 13:3


It’s a busy, hectic world we live in. Make sure to take time out for self-care and reflection. Pause and reflect on your direction and purpose in life, while seeking inspiration from nature and scripture.
God bless you and grant you success.

Who is John the Baptist in Islam?

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The Biblical and Quranic narrative of John the Baptist have some similarities and variations. If you are a convert to Islam from Christianity, you will be familiar with the story.  In Islam, we know John as Yahya, a unique name give to him by God Himself.

Relationship to Jesus



Conception and Birth


Zechariah was an ageing Israelite Prophet reaching his nineties without having fathered any children. He lived in a time when religious leaders diluted and altered the Law of Moses. The spirit of the religion was quickly disappearing, and he feared who would take his place after his death.


As the patron and caretaker of the orphaned Mary, he checked on her in her chamber of worship where she remained for days without seeing a soul. Each time he entered, he found with her fresh food. Surprised, he asked, “From where has this come to you?”


She replied, “It is from God. Indeed, God provides for whom He wills without account.”


This was the reminder Zechariah needed to call upon God, the Provider of all things, for righteous offspring.


“My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy. And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing to You.”


And indeed, God did respond, sending angels with the good news of a son named Yahya (John).


Zechariah, despite his supplication, was surprised with the news. He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel replied, “Such is God; He does what He wills.”


Upon asking for a sign, he was informed, “Your sign is that you will not be able to speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt Him with praise in the evening and the morning.”


The Given Name of “Yahya”


When God gave Zechariah the good news of a boy, God stated that his name will be Yahya, a name not given to anyone before. The meaning of Yahya is “to come alive”; whereas the meaning of John is “God is Gracious.”


Yahya is not a direct equivalence to John in meaning. Yahya was also known as Yuhannan (in Arabic), which is the exact translation of John (Johanan in English Old Testament and Yochanan in the original Hebrew).


There is no direct Biblical translation of Yahya, a unique name given by God Himself.

Parallels of John and Jesus


John was wise from a young age, kind to his parents and affectionate towards plants and animals. He was sent to renew the spirit of the religion and support Jesus in his teachings.


John Jesus
Their surprise conception and their parents’ dialogue
He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel said, “Such is God ; He does what He wills.”


She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is God ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.


John came to confirm and support Jesus
“Indeed, God gives you good tidings of John, confirming a Word from God and [who will be] honourable, chaste, and a prophet from among the righteous.”


“O Mary, indeed God gives you good tidings of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to God].


Knowledge and application of the Scripture
God said, “O John, take the Scripture with determination.” And We gave him judgement [while yet] a boy and affection from Us and purity, and he was fearing of God.


[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of God. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive.


Dutiful to their parents
And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant.


And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.


Peace surrounded them both
And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.


And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.



John, Jesus and Zechariah (peace be upon them) faced intense resistance from their own people and the Judean Kingdom within the Roman Empire.