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A Woman’s Faith, Dedication and Strength

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A Woman’s Faith, Dedication and Strength

As a new Muslim, no doubt you have been instructed that one has to believe in, respect, honor and accept all the messengers that God has sent to humanity. In the Quran God tells us about many of these role models and their stories. Unfortunately, for many converts to Islam familiar with the Biblical report of Abraham’s story, Ishmael and his mother Hagar do not get much attention. In fact, they are mentioned briefly in a negative light. Likewise followers of the Bible never give them the honor which they deserve.

 

Islam and its scripture the Quran, set the record straight on this and other historical matters which people have lost or ignored. The 12th month of the Islamic year is the Month of the Pilgrimage. The Pilgrimage is the 5th pillar of action in Islam along with the Feast of Sacrifice are Divinely mandated celebrations and a commemoration of the lives of Abraham, Hagar and their son Ishmael.

 

Some of the main highlights of Abraham’s story in Islam are: the trial of separation from family in Arabia to test dedication to God, vision of sacrificing the firstborn son Ishmael to test his love of God, then having the ransom ram out of God’s grace, building the cube structure (Kaba) in Mecca along with his son Ishmael, dedicating it as the first house of worship for the One True God, and inviting humanity to the Pilgrimage in obedience to God’s command.

 

Hagar was Abraham’s partner in much of the story. She cared for Ishmael in infancy in the barren valley for what would later become Mecca. She trusted that her son would build the Sacred House with his father when things looked so bleak in the early days. She gave the blessed special spring of water it’s name. She raised her son to be dedicated and obedient to God and to honor his father which would manifest in him accepting to be sacrificed.

 

She was an absolute trim tabber, which is the small wheel in large titanic ships that needs to turn in order for the bigger wheel to turn and for the whole ship to move. She was an essential component and the behind the scenes figure in Abraham’s story. Without her, fundamental quantum leaps and changes in the world could not have taken place. That’s how critical her role was.

 

Lessons to take from Hagar’s Amazing Story:

  1. Hagar was placed with Abraham by God as a key support system and a righteous partner. She bore Abraham his first child, Ishmael.
  2. Once she was blessed with a son, God tested her and Abraham shortly thereafter. Often when we want something so badly, we let it consume us not realizing that we’re so engrossed in the gift that we have forgotten the giver.
  3. She had total submission and amazing belief in God. When she was tested, She asked Abraham, “has God commanded you to leave us here?” He nodded his head. So immediately she was calm. This is solid, unflustered belief in God.
  4. Hagar was an example of fine belief. She never questioned or doubted. The person that is able to leave their matters to God in such a way, is a truly happy believer. One may ask…“Why me? Why is this happening to me? What did I do? Why do believers have to suffer while those who are less religious or religionless have everything they want? What’s the point? Where is the wisdom? Where is the mercy?” So many questions go through people’s minds when they’re facing a difficulty. But God doesn’t leave our questions unanswered.
  5. To be pleased with God no matter what the outcome. The person who championed this was Hagar.
  6. When she was being tested, she decided to take the means, without doubting God. To take the means is to do what is in your control. Yet to put your complete trust in God and not in the means.
  7. This woman faced her difficulty saying “God will not neglect us”; she went through physical struggle, emotional struggle, psychological, spiritual and even existential struggle… She could have doubted the words of faith she uttered at the beginning. But she remained steadfast. The relief eventually came with an angel repeating her same words “God will never neglect His people”. This is a live embodiment of the saying of Muhammad the Messenger of God who said, “God the Exalted says: ‘I am as my slave expects Me to be”
  8. God loved Hagar for her faith and trust in God, so He sent her help through Angel Gabriel. As a result, a spring of water was gifted to all of humanity. This is known as the well of Zamzam. She had good expectations of God. God didn’t only meet her expectations, but He gave her beyond what she imagined or prayed for.
  9. The place that was barren became the honorable location of the House of God where millions upon millions of people gravitate towards year after year until the end of time.
  10. The moments of faith, patience and hard work experienced by Hagar became a fundamental part of a faith followed by billions of people. She initiated one of the main rites of the Pilgrimage which is walking between Safa and Marwa. This rite is a fundamental part of the Pilgrimage. A pillar of Islam won’t be complete without following this woman. This is not merely in the physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense of trusting God in the hardest of moments, continuing to pursue Him and having hope in Him despite everything that we may be facing.

 

Our Islamic heritage is rich with a plethora of females that shook the world. Many target Islam as oppressive to women when in fact it calls to submission to God equally for both men and women. All are equal in their ability to gain favour with God and achieve high levels of spiritual rank. Many women may have influenced the world. However, true and everlasting influence is that which God praises and asks His servants to commemorate. Hagar is a figure which God himself has honoured.

 

This is the story of Hagar in a nutshell.

Keeping Faith: 10 pieces of advice for New Muslims

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Keeping the Faith: 10 pieces of advice for New Muslims

Accepting Islam is just the beginning. A New Muslim’s journey is paved with many tests, but it’s also marked with many blessings. Answering the call of God by way of embracing and practicing Islam is the path that is the most worthy of being tread.

Having some valuable advice from others who have gone on this path before you, can help in navigating through it with ease.We’ve worked with many new Muslims and always come across great pieces of advice they share from their experiences. There are some that really stick out, and we wanted to share with all those New Muslims who are probably going through similar challenges.  Here are 10 pieces of valuable advice they would like to share with you.

10. Breaking the News:. Accepting Islam may be at odds with your family’s religious beliefs.  NMA students advised taking it gradually, slowly easing them into the news. Some suggested inviting them to dinner or taking them to an Islamic event.

9. Reconciling Differences: Non-Muslim family and friends may start to debate with you over your choice. NMA students advised not to engage in heated debates, rather address them respectfully and avoid arguing.

8. Bridging the Gap: It’s important to show you have not lost your identity by becoming Muslim. Although, you may not be able to participate in certain events you used to, attendance of these events does not define you as a person. These issues will continue to arise. NMA students advised to be confident in explaining your decisions and values. Don’t be apologetic about your Islamic values. Refrain from criticizing and having a judgemental tone when speaking to family about their values and decisions.

7. The New Muslim Colleague: With a new set of practices and values like prescribed ritual worship and fasting it may be difficult to keep your conversion private. NMA students advised, letting your co-workers know through a friendly conversation, and maybe starting with your boss.

6. Destination Paradise: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said whoever treads a path in search of knowledge, God will ease the way to paradise for him”. NMA students advised New Muslims to begin studying by utilizing NMA and seeking NMA teachers’ guidance in reading Islamic books, attending events, and taking online classes.

5. The Starting point:  Having a good foundation will help while on the path of seeking knowledge. NMA students advised starting with a general understanding of beliefs followed by major practises of Islam. Some suggested learning commonly used Islamic terms and phrases.

4. Taking the Best Route: Treading the path of knowledge means learning the ins and outs of Islam. Many advised first finding a reliable source of learning, followed by seeking a mentor or a supportive community.

3. Slow Down: Immersed in a vast amount of knowledge and desire to implement can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. Don’t take on too much too soon.Take things on gradually, you don’t have to do everything in one day. Try a Muslim buddy system, where you can keep in touch and check up on each other.

2.  Roadblocks and Open Roads: It’s natural for new Muslims to have questions and concerns about the knowledge they are acquiring and implementing. Please ask NMA teachers or other qualified and properly trained teachers for guidance about your religious concerns.

1.Crossing Borders: New Muslims can find themselves entering a foreign community with its own language, cultures and unique dynamics. NMA students advised to attend Islamic events and gatherings with more seasoned Muslims who can show you around. Slowly get involved in local programs, by volunteering in order to better acquaint yourself, and also developing your own confidence and skills.

Want to read more, get our free e-book:  http://newmuslimacademy.org/ebook/

Charity of Breaking Fast

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Dear NMA family,

We wanted to remind you about the obligatory Charity of Breaking Fast (Zakat Al Fitr) which is due on Muslims and to be given at the conclusion of the month of Ramadan. Many New Muslims are not aware of this regulation although it is something that completes the ritual of fasting as it was prescribed by God.

This charity is to be given before the day of the Feast of Breaking Fast (Eid Al Fitr). It serves as a form of gratitude for the ability to serve God during the month, expiation of sins committed during the month and a way of showing compassion to those Muslims in need, so they enjoy the holiday like everyone else.

It’s significance:

1. It purifies the person who fasted Ramadan and cleanses him/her of indecent behavior and minor sins committed during Ramadan.

2. The Feast of Breaking Fast is a day of eating and drinking, as the month prior to it was one of fasting. This charity ensures that even the poorest of Muslims will partake in this outward show of festivity.

This charity is required of every Muslim who has a means to a full day of food. You may offer it one or two days before Eid to ensure that it is delivered to the poor in due time.

Who to Give It To? It is given to a fellow Muslim with limited financial means.

This offering manifests the importance of the social cohesion and welfare of the Muslim community. Due to the fact that many of us, New Muslims, are not in a close proximity to any local Muslim community where we can give this charity to the needy, it is best to designate a charity organization to give on your behalf.

Eid and End of Ramadan – New Muslims eLearning Site

May God accept your good deeds during this month.

The Night of Special Status

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The Night of Special Status [i] and Virtue, is a significant night during the month of Ramadan for Muslims all over the world. For it was on this blessed night that the Quran’s revelation commenced over 1400 years ago, as a guidance and mercy.

God describes this Night by dedicating a whole chapter in the Quran to it # 97

“We sent it down on the Night of Special Status. What will explain to you what the Night of Special Status is? The Night of Special Status is better than a thousand months: on that night the angels and the Spirit (Angle Gabriel) descend again and again with their Lord’s permission on every task. Protections and wellbeing it is until the rising of dawn.”
These verses teach us, the Night of Special Status, is a night that is better and higher in rank than 1,000 months. When calculated into years, this adds up to over 83 years! Most people do not even live past the age of 83 and yet God Almighty has gifted mankind with a single night of innumerable blessings, a night worth more than a lifetime!
It is a night in which Angel Gabriel along with all the other angels descends from the Heavens to the Earth. A night abundant with blessings and mercy showered down upon believers by God, as each of them turn sincerely to Him, seeking His Forgiveness and Guidance. The pages of their records are opened and their destinies are decreed for the coming year.

God Almighty speaks about this in the Quran when he says: “A night where every matter of wisdom was made distinct at our command.” (44: 4).

Meaning the matters of deaths, births, provisions and calamities for the whole (coming) year are decreed by God.

This night, according to the Prophet Muhammad, is to be found and searched for during the last ten nights of Ramadan and will most likely fall on an odd-numbered night.

Thus, during these last ten nights, Muslims from all over the world, in groups and in solitude, in public and in private, in every language known to exist, strive to worship God ardently and sincerely, seeking entrance into Paradise and protection from Hell.

It is these nights in which the essence of the belief in Divine Unity is revived and rekindled in the hearts of Muslims, as the realization that their fates ultimately and completely lie with their Lord.

Night-long prayers are established, and fervent supplications are made. Every tongue is active with the remembrance of God and every heart is yearning to seek His pleasure. Hands are raised, eyes are overflowing with tears, knees are bent, and foreheads are bowed out of sheer humility, in complete submission to the Creator. It is a night on which Muslims are reminded of the simple fact that they are slaves, that their Creator is the Almighty and All-Powerful, that this world is perishable, that the Hereafter is everlasting and that every beat of their heart is bringing them closer to their final End.

So look out for the Night of Special Status and increase your worship on this night; a night on which wellbeing will descend on the world, your every supplication will be answered, and your sins will be forgiven.

We ask God Almighty to allow us to reach the night of Special Status, to grant us the amazing opportunity of drawing closer to Him on this great night, and to accept and bless all our worship to Him on this night and all others.

Practical tips:

  1. Boost your worship to a higher level and spend the whole night in worship. Aim to excel! These are the best nights!
    2. Plan your worship beforehand so you do not waste any precious time on those nights.
    3. Make heartfelt supplications to God Almighty and open up your heart to Him. Indeed He is the Hearer of supplications.
    4. Connect to the Quran during these nights and read it with understanding and meaning. 5. Strive in worship and devotion in the last 10 nights. Then increase in worship and devotion in the last odd nights of the last ten. Then strive even more on the 25th night. Then increase further on the 27th night. And carry on worshipping and seeking forgiveness on the 29th night.

 

 

[1] An earlier version of this blog appeared last year with the title ‘The Night of Power’ and has since been edited. The night of power is an incorrect/inaccurate translation that is unfortunately very popular in English speaking communities. The statement does not mean Night of Decree either. The Quranic word and title of the chapter is neither القُدرَة nor القَدَر rather it is القَدْر with a Sukoon  ْ.The more accurate translation is Night of Special Status/Virtue.

Making Plans and Resolutions

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Ramadan is not only a month of increase in devotion, prayer, charity and fasting, but it is also a month of reflection and introspection. It is the perfect time to get out those journals and write down your resolutions, your new ideas and your future goals.

As new Muslims, we need to be people of vision, people of purpose. Our ultimate goal should be to please God Almighty and enter Paradise, and so we should keep this in mind every minute of every day. However, in order to reach that end goal, we need to have small stepping stones and aspirations in this world hat will lead us to that goal in the Hereafter.

A wise person once said, “Use what God has given you in this life, to build your Hereafter.”

We are all blessed with talents and abilities. Each and every one of us is special. We were born to do something great. We are unique, different from every other human being that was ever brought into existence, and simple proof of this is in our fingerprints. We were all created with different strengths and weaknesses, but together we form one nation of people that has the power to do GREAT things.

Being a new Muslim, we are not just ‘anybody’ – we are ‘SOMEBODY’. We have been granted the greatest gift in this world, and we should never ever take this lightly. We need to take this gift of Islam and DO something with it. It is incumbent upon us to strive to excel and to not let the talents that God has gifted us with go to waste, except that we allow them to be opportunities for us to gain closeness to God and to offer everything within our abilities to the world and the Muslim community at large.

So, I want to share with you some practical tips on how you can set your vision and goals this Ramadan.

Firstly, write down your goals. Buy yourself a notebook or a journal. Try to get one that looks eye-catching, bright and funky – something that appeals to you. The reason for this is because in this book you’ re going to write down your dreams and your life ambitions, so you want it to be something that when you look at, fills you with excitement and reminds you of where you are heading. Be as ambitious as you want when setting these goals for nothing is impossible for God.

Secondly, make a plan. Now that you know exactly what you want in life in order to please God. Make a plan.Set milestones. And then work to achieve them. Consider these questions,

When do I want to achieve this goal by?

What do I want to achieve by the end of this year?

Where do I see myself in three years’ time?

Don’ t miss anything out. Whether after Ramadan you want to work on becoming an author or entrepreneur or you want to begin learning the Arabic language or embark on a journey towards understanding Islam better, or perhaps you want to set up a pure and beneficial business or even launch a project for sharing Islam. Whatever your dreams are, write them down and give yourself a deadline. Then take small baby steps each day to get to that goal. And you will God willing, slowly but surely.

Lastly, and in my opinion one of the most important things, is to pray and supplicate to God, and rely
completely on Him. Indeed God will respond to your call. Want to learn Arabic in 2 years? Want to launch a project for sharing Islam next year? Just write it down and then beg God in the darkness of the nights and in the serene mornings to grant you what you want and most importantly, to make it good for you in this life and the next. And work towards that goal with willpower and determination.

Beloveds, what are you waiting for? Set yourself some goals this Ramadan and strive to reach them. Remember, no dream is too big because God can do whatever He wills!

May God Almighty give us the life and ability to reach our goals and aspirations for His sake alone, and grant us all that we wish for that is good for us.

Key Points:

  1.  The believer should focus on improving all aspects of their life.
  2.  It’s time to wear a positive spectacle. Change your frame if all this while you’ve been clouded with negative thoughts. Push yourself. Do not give up because a believer doesn’t give up hope and never despairs.
  3. Put your head up and increase in prayer and worship. May God guide us to the right path and grant us success in this life and the next.

Empathy Towards the Poor

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God Almighty says in the Quran:

“See how We have given some more than others–but the Hereafter holds greater ranks and greater favors” 17:21

In Islam, we believe that God has favored in provision some people over others, by giving them more wealth, blessings and gifts. This is a test for both, the rich and the poor. It is also a mercy and blessing in disguise from God. For those who do not have the material pleasures of this world, they will be recompensed with better in the Hereafter if they are patient during this test. It also stands as a test for those with material provision, to see whether they will spend from their money for the sake of God and if they will show empathy and compassion towards the poor and destitute. For those who share their wealth, they will be rewarded generously by the Most Generous Lord.

The month of Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to help the poor, as it is in this month that rewards are multiplied by great amounts. It is in this month that God’s mercy extends far and wide and is at hands reach. Therefore, the blessed month of Ramadan should be a time we empty our pockets by spending in the way of God.

The Prophet Muhammad (God’s blessings be upon him) was known to be the most generous of people. He was especially generous in the month of Ramadan, increasing in giving and sharing. Throughout his life he showed mercy to the poor and treated them with utmost kindness. He was near to them and there was no barrier between them and him. Through the many examples in his life, we learn that generosity and compassion towards those who are less fortunate can be displayed in several different ways. Let’s be creative in giving.

From donating money so that the poor can provide for themselves and their families, to going out of our way to purchase goods, food and clothing which can be donated to those less fortunate in the community. Perhaps even cooking a meal for them or sharing one’s breakfast meal with them. Whatever it may be, God is Ever Seeing and will not let any of these deeds go unnoticed. Our acts of generosity will be rewarded in manifold and multiplied in this noble month.

Empathy towards the poor also includes raising our hands in prayer and asking God Almighty to shower His mercy and aid upon the needy and to remove their poverty, bless their wealth and grant them ease in all their difficulties.

This is a responsibility that we owe our fellow brothers and sisters suffering around the world. Supplication to God for another individual is from amongst the best gifts that one can give! God Almighty will respond and grant you in return the same or more. The angels ask God to accept every supplication you make for your brother or sister in their absence and they also beg for you to have the same.

Let this month be a month where we give, give and give more. Let it be a time where we reflect upon the plight of people suffering in all corners of the world. Let’s raise our hands in prayer and supplicate for those who have not been blessed with the luxuries and wealth that we may live with every day. Let’s also extend our hands and spend in the path of God sincerely seeking His pleasure, and He will grant us much more in return.

Let’s be kind to the poor, and have mercy towards them. Perhaps, God will raise us in spiritual status and shed His grace on us. A single dollar is very precious to someone in need. Let’s not be stingy.

May God soften our hearts to give and share.

Taraweeh prayer

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Taraaweeh

 By: Sh.Sajid Umar

In Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to increase in their good deeds and acts of worship. Now, there is a special prayer which has been prescribed for Muslims, specifically in this blessed month, which carries manifold rewards. This prayer is known as ‘Taraaweeh’ and is performed after the ‘Ishaa night prayer. The word Taraaweeh comes from an Arabic word which means to ‘relax’ or to ‘rest.’ This is something very beautiful as it illustrates to us the soothing and harmonious nature of this prayer.

The purpose of the Taraweeh prayer is to give individuals time to reflect, ponder and contemplate over the verses of the Qur’an which are being recited. To soften hearts through the eloquent speech of God Almighty, so that Muslims may draw closer and attach themselves to the Qur’an. Taraaweeh is one of the most pleasurable acts of worship in the month of Ramadan and carries abundant virtues. Along with being a great means of attaining the pleasure of God Almighty, Taraweeh also offers new Muslims the chance to have all their previous sins forgiven! Now, that’s a deal I would take any day. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) further emphasised this point when he said:

“Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from God, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.”

What an amazing blessing the Taraweeh prayer is!

The prayer is to be performed in the nights, usually straight after the Ishaa’ prayer. It can be performed individually; however it is encouraged for Muslims, both men and women, to pray Taraaweeh in congregation behind an Imaam – the one who leads prayer. Although it is a voluntary act, it is one that is strongly encouraged. Taraaweeh prayer is a lengthy prayer and sometimes can last for an hour or even more. It is prayed in two units, and in each unit a long portion from the Qur’an is recited. The Imaam may recite small portions too, but he also may emphasise certain verses of the Qur’an and recite slowly, so that the listeners may reflect and take heed. After every four cycles of prayer, the Imaam often pauses for a short break, giving time to those praying to reinvigorate themselves for the remaining prayer, and then rises to begin the prayer again. Many Imaams strive to recite 1 out of the 30 parts of the Qur’an every night, so that by the end of the 30 days of Ramadan, recitation of the whole Qur’an has been completed.

The prayer is very beloved to many, as it is performed exclusively in the noble month of Ramadan, in the darkness of the night, and is a voluntary act which means there is much reward to earn. Taraaweeh also increases unity in brotherhood and sisterhood. When you stand feet to feet, shoulder to shoulder in prayer, and listen to the eloquent and melodious speech of God Almighty, it not only humbles you in front of your Creator but increases the love between you and your fellow brother or sister. It boosts your faith and your efforts in trying to understand the verses of the Quran.

Being a new Muslim, it may sound difficult at first to stand in lengthy prayers, so if you have just recently begun praying, then try to take it slowly and only do that which is in your capacity. Taraweeh is great training for you to build up your stamina in prayer.

So, dear  new Muslims, rise and stand for this beautiful prayer, hoping and yearning for reward from God and may God shower His mercy upon you.

We ask God Almighty to allow us to reach Ramadan in good health and faith; and to grant us the ability to stand in the Taraaweeh prayers and have our sins forgiven.

Key Lessons:

1- Taraweeh literally means “to rest”, it means to rest every four raka’at. The ‘rest period’ is what we get after every four raka’at. It is encouraged not to pray too fast and observe the meaning behind “Taraweeh”.

2- Taraweeh was offered during the time of the prophet Muhammad ﷺ It is practiced once every year, in the whole glorious month of Ramadan.

Abu Salamah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan, who asked ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), “How did the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) pray during Ramadaan?” She said: “He did not pray more than eleven rak’ahs in Ramadaan or at other times. He would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were, then he would pray four, and do not ask how beautiful and long they were, then he would pray three. I said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, will you sleep before you pray Witr?’ He said, ‘O ‘Aa’ishah, my eyes sleep but my heart does not.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1909; Muslim, 738)

3- The Taraweeh prayer is a special prayer so beloved to Allah Almighty. It’s Sunnah  to pray the Taraweeh with the Jama’ah (congregation) and this is better than praying individually.

 

May we spend in prayer together in Jama’ah(congregation) and treasure every moment spent with your loved ones. Ameen.

 

 

Sickness and Fasting Ramadan

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Many of us at NMA (New Muslims) are eager to fast and to show our dedication to God. Some of us are feeling guilty for not being able to fast due to our health condition. It is important for us to realize that God does not desire for us to put ourselves in harm’s way. Showing dedication to God is to obey Him, even if it means taking the legal concessions He has given us instead of doing a ritual devotion that we may desire.

I want to remind you that God knows your condition and does not hold you accountable for what you cannot do physically.

The general principle with acts of devotion is that they are based on one’s ability to perform them. This is taken from the text of the Quran and the prophetic teachings.

God says, “…..He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty.” 22:78

“God does not charge a soul except with that within its capacity.” 2:286

“Keep your duty to God as best you can” 64:16

Islam is not meant to overburden you or cause you stress, neither are its regulations and commands. What is meant is peace of mind, heart and soul through devotion to Almighty God.

Sicknesses are of different types and degrees of severity. Some sicknesses affect the fast while others do not.

A sick person has one of these three scenarios

Does not get effected by fasting. Examples of this are having a minor cold, a light headache, toothache etc. This individual is obligated to fast.

Experiences difficulty by fasting but it does not risk definite personal bodily harm. Examples of this are flu (unless the person is very old); certain common infections like tonsillitis; migraine headaches or severe tension headaches, etc. This individual is recommended not to fast.

Experiences difficulty by fasting and it causes personal bodily harm. Examples of this are kidney failure, diabetes, cancer etc. This individual is forbidden to fast and will be sinful for doing so. Hence, a person with a chronic disease is obligated not to fast.

As for making up the missed days of fasting: If the sickness is temporary with the hope of recovery, the person should make up those days sometime in the near future after recovery. However, if you have a chronic condition where the sickness is permanent and there is no hope of recovery, the person atones for the missed days by feeding a poor person twice daily for the amount of days he/she has missed.

A sick person who has a chronic condition does not fast. Instead, you get the same reward of fasting by feeding a poor person for everyday you miss.

This is an example of how to do so utilizing one of the many Muslim charity organizations.

If you live in the USA, by paying $10/per day ($300 total) to a charity organization. They will handle the rest of giving the money to those eligible.

One such organization is Islamic Relief

Tazkiyyah

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The call to prayer sounds out as the believer sits on their prayer mat, repeating after the melodious and tear-jerking words. He looks towards the ground and recalls the sins he committed in the day. His heart is filled with a sudden fear as he begins to make Istighfaar and seek forgiveness. The words ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is Great – cause his skin to tremble as he contemplates over the greatness of the One he sinned against. O God Almighty, purify my heart of all the evil I have done and guide me to do good, are the hearts plea and call…

Tazkiyyah in Arabic alludes to the ‘purification of the soul’ or its growth and development in reaching a state of excellence. The root word of Tazkiyyah comes from Zakaah, which means ‘to cleanse, or to purify.’ The subject of Tazkiyyah is one of great importance as Muslims should always be constantly cleansing their hearts and souls through means of Istighfaar – seeking forgiveness, reflection and worship. The Tazkiyyah of ones innerself involves the correction of the innerself and the eradication of false assumptions.

God Almighty tells us in the Qur’an:

“And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it. And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, He has succeeded who purifies it, And he has failed who instills it [with corruption].” (91:7-10)

This verse clearly tells us that those who purify their heart and soul will be the ones who are successful. It is noteworthy to know that as human beings, our hearts are constantly changing, and thus it is important for us to constantly re-check our intentions and renew them, so that our actions remain pure for the sake of God Almighty alone.

Tazkiyyah is a very broad subject that requires much discussion, however in a nutshell, Tazkiyyah signifies nourishing ones soul through doing good deeds and refraining from evil and sin. It is an act of cleansing the heart from all ill feelings towards the Creator and creation, and working towards being a better person each minute of every day. Tazkiyyah means constantly evaluating our lives and filling the gaps where it is needed.

A person who performs Tazkiyyah pushes himself or herself in performing all obligations, fighting temptations and desires and practicing self-restraint and Taqwa (awareness of God Almighty) at all times. They work hard to improve themselves, aim high and supersede obligatory acts by performing sunnah and optional acts too to reach a state of excellence. The main weapon in this daily battle is patience and perseverance. A believer understands that Paradise is expensive and must be earned through striving and struggling against evil desires and in doing good, which will cause our hearts to also be upon good, so that one can attain the pleasure of God Almighty.

Hence, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would always supplicate to God Almighty, saying: “O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm upon your religion.”

So dear brothers and sisters, this Ramadan, aim to purify your hearts and souls through remembrance and worship of God Almighty, through seeking forgiveness and repentance, and by going above and beyond in your acts of worship and charitable acts. So that you will not only be purifying your hearts, but also clearing them of the evil and sins you have earned. Take time out during this blessed month to reflect over your actions over the past year and find out what changes you need to make within yourself in order to become a better, more sincere Muslim.

We ask God Almighty to grant us a true understanding and purify our hearts from all the evil we have earned.

 

Making Resolutions For The Year

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Ramadan is not only a month of increase in prayer, charity and fasting, but it is also a month of reflection and introspection. It is the perfect time to get out those journals and write down your resolutions, your new ideas and your future goals.

As Muslims, we need to be people of vision, people of purpose. Our ultimate goal should be to please God Almighty and enter His Paradise, and so we should keep this in mind every minute of every day. However, in order to reach that end goal, we need to have small stepping stones and aspirations in this world that will lead us to that goal in the Hereafter.

A wise person once said, “Use what God Almighty has given you in this world, to build your Hereafer.”

We are all blessed with talents and abilities. Each and every one of us. We were born to do something great. And each of us is unique, different from every other human being that was ever brought into existence, and simple proof of this is in our fingerprints. We were all created with different strengths and weaknesses, but together we form one nation of people that has the power to do GREAT things.

And being Muslim, we are not just ‘anybody’ – we are ‘SOMEBODY’. We have been granted the greatest gift in this world, and we should never ever take this lightly. We need to take this gift of Islam and DO something with it. It is incumbent upon us to strive to excel and to not let the talents that God Almighty has gifted us with go to waste, except that we allow them to be opportunities for us to gain closeness to God Almighty and to offer everything within our abilities to the world and the Muslim community at large.

So, I want to share with you some practical tips on how you can set your vision and goals this Ramadan.

Firstly, write down your goals. Buy yourself a notebook or a journal. Try to get one that looks eye-catching, bright and funky – something that appeals to you. The reason for this is because in this book you’re going to write down your dreams and your life ambitions, so you want it to be something that when you look at, fills you with excitement and reminds you of where you are heading. Be as ambitious as you want when setting these goals for nothing is impossible for God Almighty.

Secondly, make a plan. Now that you know exactly what you want in life in order to please God. Make a plan. Set milestones. And then work to achieve them. Consider these questions, When do I want to achieve this goal by? What do I want to achieve by the end of this year? Where do I see myself in three years time? Don’t miss anything out. Whether after Ramadan you want to work on becoming an author or entrepreneur or you want to begin learning the Arabic language or embark on a journey towards understanding Islam better, or perhaps you want to set up a Halaal and beneficial business or even launch a dawah project. Whatever your dreams are, write them down and give yourself a deadline. Then take small baby steps each day to get to that goal. And you will God willing, slowly but surely.

Lastly, and in my opinion one of the most important things, is to make Du’aa and supplications to God, and rely completely on God. Indeed God Almighty will respond to your call. Want to learn Arabic in 2 years? Want to launch a dawah project next year? Just write it down and then beg God in the darkness of the nights and in the serene mornings to grant you what you want and most importantly, to make it good for you in this life and the next. And work towards that goal with willpower and determination.

So, brothers and sisters, what are you waiting for? Set yourself some goals this Ramadan and strive to reach them. Remember, no dream is too big because nothing is impossible for God!

May God Almighty give us the life and ability to reach our goals and aspirations for His sake alone, and grant us all that we wish for that is good for us.