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Fasting is Mine : Rewards associated with fasting by God

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Unimaginable. When no clear descriptions are offered, that means it could be anything.

Limitless. When no limit is given to something, that means that we can’t imagine it ending.

Undefined. A hidden reward…something that we will only discover later…

This is the reward for fasting.

God says, “Fasting is Mine and it is I who give reward for it. [A man] gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for My sake. Fasting is like a shield, and he who fasts has two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his Lord. The change in the breath of the mouth of him who fasts is better in God’s estimation than the smell of musk.”

Let’s take a look at each of these beautiful reminders about fasting:

 

In the open and in secret

 

The first thing God mentions about fasting in this report is that when people fast, they are doing it for His sake.

People who fast for the sake of God, and those that don’t can look just the same. One is fasting for the sake of God, and another one is fasting so that people will think he’s religious.

They are both giving up their passion, food and drink all day long.

The difference is the sincerity. How aware the fasting person is of God! He or she will not even take a sip of water, because of the sure knowledge God is watching!

What prevents you from eating, when no one’s around? You know you can’t hide from God, or trick Him. You actually have to do it.

So fasting people avoid food and drink when they are by themselves, or when they are in public where people can see them.

Because they know that God can see them. And that makes all the difference.

 

A challenge and a shield

 

The great, mysterious reward that God has decided not to describe for us looms just ahead of us as we make our way through each day of fasting.

There’s a bit of a personal victory at the end of each day, too, isn’t there? You hoped you could do it, then as the day went on you doubted yourself, but then, at the end of the day, you did it.

We challenge ourselves every day, and the more days we finish, the more confident we feel about the next day, and the rest of the month.

We can also begin feeling confident about the next life, too.

God calls fasting a shield. What it is shielding us from?

It is a shield from the hellfire.

We may think we are adding to a list of days during the month, but we are also adding layers to that shield as we fast.

 

Joy in this life and the next

Everybody’s happy when they break their fast. A little food in the stomach can do wonders for a fasting person’s mood!

When the time is coming soon, we get excited, and the food we break our fast with tastes delicious, even if it’s just dates and water.

That’s one type of joy.

The other type of joy is reserved for the next life.

On the Day of Resurrection, God will settle accounts with everyone. A man who used to fast might have nothing left in his account of good deeds.

Except fasting.

God will then allow the man into Paradise because of it.

He’ll even have a special door, which the Messenger called ‘Ar-Rayyan’ which is a VIP door for fasting persons only.

Imagine the joy.

 

What we smell and the scent of musk

 

We’ve noticed ourselves in the middle of the fasting day. The breath. It changes.

We avoid offending people in many different ways, like brushing our teeth or avoiding facing people.

It’s inescapable and to be expected…but God loves the smell.

He loves it so much, He mentions in this report that it is better to Him than the smell of musk. Perfume. Cologne.

That goes against our senses, doesn’t it? But we are not like God. And there’s nothing like Him.

It is to show that God loves fasting so much, and He honors someone who fasts in a great way.

 

May God bless us to be able to fast during this Ramadan, and help us to make it a regular habit throughout the year.

These 6 Things Happen to You When You Fast

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Follow the prescription. That’s how to do it.

God has prescribed fasting for us, and for those before us. For our own good.
So what’s good about fasting, aside from the great feeling you get when you made it to the end of the day?

Plenty. There are all kinds of good changes that are happening inside your body that you might not be aware of.

Here we list those hidden, behind-the-scenes benefits that take place when you fast.

You’ve got guts

Did you know that your digestive system works on what you eat up to 40 hours after you’ve had a meal?

That being said, it only takes between 6-8 hours for your food to pass through your stomach. So when you do not eat for a while, your digestive system takes a break.

The digestive system can end up taking energy that the body needs to heal and maintain the rest of the body.

So giving it a rest means more energy for the other good things your body needs to do to keep you healthy.

Mind

How are you feeling? When you fast, the hormones that make you feel excited and happy are at higher levels in your bloodstream. So fasting improves your mood!

Your mind becomes sharper because digesting your food is not robbing your body from energy. The physical act of eating and drinking also distracts the mind.

Studies have shown that your ability to think clearly is a side effect of fasting. Your memory even improves.

While fasting, we experience just a taste of what it must be like for someone who is often hungry, and not by choice. This thought makes us more sympathetic towards the poorest of the world.

Fasting is the only way we can really understand hunger.

Heart

When I first started fasting, I was worried because I tended to have low blood sugar. I was worried that I might faint while fasting.
I was advised to at least give it a try. So I did.

What amazed me is that I did not faint, and was not weak. And at the end of the month, I realized that I had no more problems with my blood sugar!

Scientists have noted that fasting helps stabilize blood sugar. Not only that, but fasting helps your heart stay healthy by attacking cholesterol.

Because your body uses up the energy taken from your food, it then goes after the fat stores in your body.

Cholesterol passes into your bloodstream and instead of clinging to your arteries and veins, it is eliminated by your body.

 

Fat

 

When the food that your body uses for fuel is used up, then the body starts using your fat stores as fuel. This happens after the 12-hour mark.

It might seem like a no-brainer that you would lose weight fasting. But it’s a good kind of weight loss that is not harsh.

It’s possible to lose a half a pound of body fat for each day that you are able to fast! The weight loss is steady and slow, but this is one of the more noticeable benefits of fasting.

 

Your Skin

If you struggle with acne or skin problems, then you may have already noticed that your skin is clearer!

This comes from the obvious: whatever you were eating that was giving you blemishes has been avoided, so your skin has a nice, healthy glow.

Processes in your body that react to fasting allow the body to regenerate cells, and discard old cells.

The skin being the largest organ in the body, it shows signs when your body is in poor health. So during Ramadan, your skin improves because the rest of your body is in such good health.

 

May God allow us to experience the blessings of fasting Ramadan in our bodies and our health.

10 Tips from Muslim Nutritionists on What to Eat in Ramadan

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Did you know that our bodies have rights over us?

 

We are supposed to take care of ourselves, for the sake of God. He gave us the bodies we have as a gift, but we will have to answer how we took care of them.

 

We like the sweets, and the fried foods, don’t we?  These treats can get to be a bad habit.

 

But during Ramadan, every meal counts. Don’t just take my advice about how to eat and drink during Ramadan. Learn from the experts: nutritionists.

 

Here is a sample of 10 tips from Muslim nutritionists on how and what to eat in Ramadan to maximise your health and your devotions:

 

A Simple Suhoor

  • Keep suhoor light and as simple as possible
  • Make sure to drink water through the night
  • Water with fruit and whole grains is best

Hold the Salt

  • Some of the foods you eat already have salt, like cheese
  • Salt dehydrates the body’s fluids, so cut down on the salt
  • A taste for salt can be brought down by gradually adding less and less

Fries with That?

  • Frying foods in oil is considered by everyone, not just nutritionists, to be poor for your health
  • Your fasting body will use up the sugars in your body and then process fats. You don’t want to add to the fat in your body.

Clean, Pure Water

  • When you wake, and as you prepare your meal, sip on water.
  • Keep fruits handy when you eat your morning meal, as they contain a lot of water, especially watermelon and grapes
  • Add a squirt of fresh lemon juice to give your digestive organs a gentle boost

A Hearty Soup

  • Your stomach won’t take rich sauce and meat right away, so begin your evening meal with some soup
  • A broth with beans and vegetables is a nice way to ease your empty stomach into a meal
  • Soup is of course a liquid and another way to make sure you keep up your fluids

Start with Salad

  • Consider a salad for the second course of the breaking-fast meal
  • Another gentle side to introduce eating to your stomach
  • Salads provide the good roughage that your digestive system will appreciate

Veggies with Meat

  • Balance your proteins with your carbs
  • Although carbs might give you energy right away, they will leave you hungry later on
  • You want to stay light, keeping in mind that you will be standing to offer devotions in the night

Best Midnight Snack

  • Staying up late to offer devotions will require more snacks, so stick to fruit and nuts, and water to replenish your energy stores
  • Stock up now on whichever fruits are your favorites: consider dried fruits, such as raisins and dates

Make a Smoothie

  • Fruits, milk or alternatives, and protein will fuel you through the night, or at the early meal time

Guilty Pleasures Sometimes

  • Eat your baklawa or candy bars if you need to celebrate an especially tough day
  • Do not make sticky sweets or fatty foods a habit, but an occasional indulgence

5 Lessons the New Muslim can Learn from Fasting

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I see it in my children, when the beginning of Ramadan starts.

 

The food stash, otherwise known as hoarding.

 

During the day, they see something that they want to eat, and then they take a little.  Then they hide it for themselves for later, when they break their fast.

 

Typical. Natural, even. Encouraging yourself to keep going, so you can have that tasty treat you saved for yourself.

 

Chances are the treat is not a healthy, nutritious thing. It’s junk. But our eyes want it, and our stomachs agree, at least at first.

 

During Ramadan, however, you have precious few meals, and those have to last. They have to be good, and wholesome, and beneficial.

 

God gave you food and drink that was meant to nourish you.

 

Here are some other things that fasting can teach you. May God bless you with learning these things as you fast this month:

 

Shunning Waste

 

You don’t really appreciate the taste of water until you’ve tasted water after a whole day. That water-date combination can feel like the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten, when you’ve been fasting.

 

One time all I had to break my fast was a bit of watered-down pop left over in a paper cup. What I probably would have thrown away any other time, I cherished and made sure to sip every drop!

 

So to waste food in a month when we are not eating most of the time should really turn our stomachs. Leftovers are great for the early morning meal, and extra food at dinner can be brought to a neighbor to share with!

 

Clean your plate when you are finished eating. In a report from the Messenger, he commanded the licking of fingers and the cleaning of the dish, saying, “You do not know in which portion the blessing lies.”

 

Ramadan fasting teaches us about avoiding waste. We get a better understanding of how real hunger feels, and can appreciate what the truly poor go through on a daily basis. It makes us treasure the food we have.

 

Sharing the Good

 

You know the saying ‘sharing means caring’? Ramadan can bring about a sincere care for our fellow humans through sharing food.

 

We might not know it, but a neighbor of ours could go hungry each month. Perhaps someone in our neighborhood could use some food. We share with our neighbors, and perhaps invite them to eat with us, out of care for our fellow human beings.

 

Feeling the pain of hunger  makes us want to try to make sure that the pangs of hunger we feel are not felt by anyone. We donate money and food to those less fortunate because of that feeling.

 

We are blessed with more than enough, and Ramadan motivates us to share what we have with others. Invite others to eat with you, too:

 

‘O Messenger of God, we eat but are not satiated.’ The Messenger of God said: ‘Perhaps you eat separately?’ They replied that they did. He said: ‘Eat your food together and say Bismillah before you start, that will bring blessings into your food.”

 

Quality vs Quantity

 

As the month progresses and we are more and more aware of our bodies and what they need, we see ourselves making better and better food choices.

 

We follow the advice of others.  But we also get to know what foods are going to help us with our fasting: healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and plain old water.

 

Our bodies have such a small amount of time each night to absorb those nutrients in our food, so we choose better things to eat. It helps us with our fasting, and it helps us be strong after we break our fast, so that we can stand and offer more devotions in the night.

 

Self-Restraint

 

It’s a funny mental exercise that we have to do daily when we fast.  We have to program ourselves that over-eating will NOT help us the next day, as if we were camels filling up on water before a desert trek.

 

That food and drink make us slow, and sluggish and bad-tempered.

 

As the month progresses we realize that that a full belly is not our friend.  If we stretch our stomachs’ capacity in one night, the next day becomes so much more difficult to fast!

 

When we choose smaller, more valuable meals, then we continue to train our body and have mercy on our digestive systems. We have mercy on ourselves by training our body, giving it nourishing food, and letting our digestive system have a break.

 

We learn to hold ourselves back from what’s in front of us. We learn to think ahead, and plan out how best to conduct ourselves. We learn that holding ourselves back from things is rewarding, and this translates to other things in our lives that may cause us problems in the long run.

 

Eyes and Stomach the Exact Same Size

 

Ever heard the phrase, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”? That can happen at the beginning of Ramadan.

 

At first, we have a misunderstanding that the more we eat in the evening and early morning, the better we will handle fasting. In reality, it’s just the opposite.

 

We think about our dinner all day long, and perhaps prepare or go out and get a lot of food. Then when it’s time to break our fast, we stuff ourselves.

 

Or at least we try.

 

As the month progresses, we get to know our capacity, and we hold ourselves back from a huge plate at either meal.  We eat what is enough for us, in accordance with the report:

 

“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.” Messenger Muhammad.

 

May God bless us with being able to experience these great lessons that fasting can teach us, to strengthen and train our bodies, and to make the most out of every day, and every meal.

5 Steps to Trusting in God

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When everything falls apart around us and we are alone, we beg God for support and help. If things are going great, we praise and thank God.

Trusting in God is mentioned many times in the Quran and the traditions of the Messenger Muhammad. It is a very important aspect of faith and it brings us such a great sense of peace and security.

But what does it mean to have trust (tawakkul) in God?

We have trust in God when our hearts depend on God for bringing us good things and protecting us from bad things.

Who better to trust than God?

Here are 4 Steps new Muslims can take to begin this journey of trust in God:

 

1.Knowing Our God

 

The more we study about God, the more comfortable we should feel with His Lordship over us. We can feel happy and safe knowing that God has all our affairs in order.

God’s beautiful names are full of benefit for us as new Muslims. When we learn about God, our hearts will be satisfied and happy.

The One Who Guides, God is the only one that can bring our families and friends to Islam. No matter the influences around us, our own hearts would not have come to Islam except that God guided us.

The One Who Elevates, God brings up the status of those who truly believe in Him. He will honor us when we remember Him.

 

2.Knowing Our Place

 

When we are backed up against a wall and a threat is coming close, we wish we had someone bigger or stronger around to help us.

Who is greater than God?

It’s not just when we’re in trouble that we need God’s help. Every breath we take is a gift from God. God is always protecting us, and guiding us towards good things.

Our position below God as slaves reminds us that we can’t do a thing unless He has allowed us to do it. We trust in the plan of God, because He is the Most Just, and Most Wise.

In the first chapter of Quran, we read “It is you alone we worship, and it is you alone we ask for help.” (1:5)

 

3.Knowing Our Provision

 

The One Who Provides, God controls and measures exactly what we are going to get, and when. When we realize this, we can stop worrying about money, food, and bills.

Our whole lives, God has been giving us what we needed. That will continue until we reach our final days.

Messenger Muhammad told us, “A soul will never die until it’s reached its time and it has taken in all its provision. So be proper about working for it and do not let a restriction of provision make you do crimes to get it..”

Since we know that God has already written all the goods in this life we will get, we can relax and trust in God for our provision.

We can work towards our goals and know that tricking people or lying to get provision won’t bring anything except what God had already written for us.

 

4. Knowing our Return

 

Everything in this life is temporary. We can only bring our good deeds with us when we die. Then we will be brought back to God, for judgement.

Our trust in God has to extend past just this life. We hope that God gives us Paradise, forgives our sins, and helps us enter the garden.

When we think about going back to God, we trust that God will accept our good deeds and hope for Paradise in the next life.

Our reward for the tests of this life, showing reliance on God, could be waiting for us.

We could be part of the chosen group that gets to spend the rest of existence in Paradise.

This is the Eternal Reward

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What are some of the biggest hassles of life? A lot of people complain about being tired. Not having enough time to enjoy life. Some people wish they had better relationships with others. And others just want it all.

In the next life, we can have it all, and more than we ever dreamed.

Because God made us for Paradise, human beings are naturally attracted to having whatever we want, whenever we want it. Paradise is full of delights, and pleasures that contrast the hardships of this world.

When we consider some of life’s most common drawbacks, we see that God has placed in the Quran descriptions of their opposites.

Here is a list of the things that Paradise holds for us, God willing.

No Poverty

We’ll never experience being poor in Paradise. To be poor means that resources have run out, or are limited. Paradise is limitless.

The food, drink, and fun of Paradise is never-ending. It is eternal, just as we are.

“Dishes and goblets of gold will be passed around them with all that their souls desire and their eyes delight in.” (43:71)

“They will have gardens of lasting bliss graced with flowing streams..” (18: 31)

No Bad Weather

Whether you are a fan of the hot or the cold weather, there are harsh extremes that no one likes in this life. A beautiful, sunny day can get really hot with no shade.

A nice, cool day can become really miserable when a harsh wind blows. In Paradise, the weather is always pleasant. No harsh heat or cold.

“They will sit on couches, feeling neither scorching heat nor biting cold.” (76:13)

 

No death nor sickness

Death is an unfortunate part of life on this earth. The sickness and death of others causes pain that lasts a while, and after death, the pain of missing them. In Paradise there is neither sickness, nor death.
Messenger Muhammad told us, “(The people in Paradise) will never fall ill, blow their noses or spit.” And he also told us that a call will be made, addressing the people of Paradise:

“Indeed may you be healthy and never be sick again
May you live and never die again,
May you be young and never grow feeble again,
May you enjoy, and never feel sorrow and regret again.”

Sickness and pain in this life can help us get forgiveness for our sins, and serve as a reminder to be grateful for healthy times, or for the sickness to not be worse than it is.

But in the next life, we are forgiven, and the tests of sickness and death have gone with all other earthly discomforts.

 

No hunger

 

Even if we’ve always had plenty of food, it is very sad to see that others go hungry. And if we ourselves have been hungry, then we know how bad it feels.

No one should go hungry on this earth, if people are responsible and share the earth’s resources.

There is no greed nor injustice in Paradise. The provision of God in Paradise is limitless and overflowing.

“Here is a picture of the Garden that those mindful of God have been promised: flowing streams and perpetual food and shade. This is the reward that awaits those who are mindful of God…” (13:35)

“This is what you are promised for the Day of Reckoning: Our provision for you will never end.” (38: 53-54)

No fading beauty

As we age we see the changes that bring us farther away from our youth and the beauty we used to enjoy. But in Paradise, everyone is the same age.

Not only do we never decline, we actually increase in beauty and attractiveness!

In a motivating narration from the Messenger Muhammad, we learn the transformation that happens every week in Paradise:

“In Paradise there is a market in which (the inhabitants of Paradise) will come to every Friday. The North wind will blow and scatter fragrances on their faces and on their clothes. This will add to their beauty and their attractiveness. They will then go back to their families after having an added luster to their beauty and their attractiveness. Their families will say to them, ‘By God you have been increased in beauty and loveliness after leaving us,’ and they will say, ‘By God you too have increased in beauty and attractiveness after us.'”

 

No people problems

Even if we don’t want to, we have to interact with other people. Sometimes that’s pleasant and other times, it’s not.

We endure insults and harm from others, and sometimes we hurt others. Fights break out. Everyone feels bad, even long afterwards. Words can hurt longer than bruises.

But God has told us that no harmful words are spoken in Paradise.

“They will hear no idle or sinful talk there, only clean and wholesome speech.” (56:25-26)

In Paradise there are no hurt feelings, and any bad feelings we had, we forget.

“We shall have removed all ill feeling from their hearts; streams will flow at their feet…” (7:43)

Messenger Muhammad told us that instead, of wasting time talking badly, people will be praising God:

“There will be no hatred or resentment among them, their hearts will be as one, and they will glorify God, morning and evening.”

 

Just nothing like it

We can see that Paradise is a beautiful reward for bearing the harms and discomforts of this life. Our hope is that learning about Paradise will motivate us to work harder for it.

All these delights are wonderful, but what is greater than that? We don’t even know. And we can’t imagine.

“No soul knows what joy is kept hidden in store for them, as a reward for what they have done.” (32:17)

5 Signs You’re Passing the Test

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When tests come, we try to do our best. We keep our faith strong, and ask God to make the tests easy. Yet how can we tell if we’re passing?

All it takes is a look inside, when things get rough outside.

 

Here are 5 ways we can tell we’re winning:

 

Gratefulness

What happens when things don’t go our way?  Do we complain and think the worst? Or do we think to ourselves, “Why us?”.

 

If we look to what happened before the test, we can be grateful.  We can appreciate the time of good before the time of bad.

Or look to those who have it worse off than us. Messenger Muhammad said, “Look at those who are beneath you and do not look at those who are above you, for it is more suitable that you should not consider as less the blessing of God.”

 

Maybe this present test is the worst thing we’ve ever been through, but it’s nothing to somebody else. We should get to know the hardships of others, so we can be grateful.

 

When we are grateful for the test, we realize

  • It could be worse
  • It’s nothing compared to what other people have to go through
  • The good things we still have are there, and we appreciate them more

 

Acceptance

We can tell if a test is a punishment by how we react to it.

 

If we’re freaking out and impatient, that’s a sign that we are not passing.  So, the opposite of that, acceptance, is what we show when we’re making progress.

Part of what can help us accept our test is that the Messenger of God told us, “Great reward comes with great trials. When God loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, but whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.”

 

So when God sends a test our way, we accept it as a test. We have a chance to get closer to God, to show Him that we are strong.

We accept the test, and we continue doing good things.  The test might make it harder for us, but with more work is more reward.

Humility

It’s amazing that just a slight change of our condition can totally throw off our day.  Like a hangnail, or a paper cut.

 

How fragile we are!  We’re top of the food chain, yet some small pain will cause us big problems.

And how sensitive we are. Our egos can be hurt so easily. Sometimes a test from God can be an chance to grow in humility.

 

The Messenger of God explained to us that God has tested the Prophets more than anyone else.  Then, the next best, and the next best people.

The more difficult the test, the higher in status we are. The Messenger continued to say that we are tested in accordance to our level of faith.

 

And tests and trials will continue to fall on us, purifying us our whole lives.

 

Asking Forgiveness

When you think about it, there isn’t a person living that is sinless.  Even the best people make mistakes and sin.

 

So we consider the tests of life, and realize that God is purifying us through them.  We admit we have sins to erase.

When tests come, we can take the chance to ask God to forgive us.

 

Messenger Muhammad told us, “Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but God will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed.

 

If we think to ask God to forgive us when we are in a test, then that’s a sign that we’re dealing with it well.

The tests of life are good for us.  Even if all we see in the test is a chance to have our sins erased.

Reflecting

‘Why me?’ is a common way to react when bad things happen. It’s a knee-jerk reaction, coming from pure defence.

 

We need to relax.  If we take a moment and reflect on the test, we might be able to see some good in it.  

Perhaps there’s a lesson in the test.  Even if it’s just a lesson on how not to be.

 

In the end, God has allowed something to happen to you. And He is the One Who plans everything for the best.

We praise and thank God for everything that happens, including the things we think are bad.

 

God does not allow any injustice to take place.  That means, eventually, justice will come. It’s not for us to force it to come, but for us to trust that God will sort things out.

 

In this life, or the next. And then, there’s this:

 

Messenger Muhammad said, “If a certain status has previously been decreed by God for a person, and he does not attain it by his deeds, God afflicts him in his body or wealth or children.

 

Think about the test.  Consider that God is lifting you up, bringing you closer to Him through it. So rather than ‘Why Me?’, we might start to say, ‘God chose me.’

 

Through our tests we always think the best of God.  We focus on Him, and His greatness and perfection. Whatever comes from God is good in the end, and will help us succeed in this life and the next.

How Passing God’s Tests Makes a New Muslim Stronger

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God sends us tests to strengthen us. We can’t let life make us tired and want to give up. Here are some examples from the lives of new Muslims that can help us pass the tests.

Troubles with Friends

 

Just because we’ve become Muslim doesn’t mean that we have changed…much. Then why do our friends treat us differently?

Is it just us, or are so many more things awkward now that we’ve accepted Islam? Our friends who used to be chill are now uncomfortable.  They are restless, and don’t seem to know how to be normal around us anymore.

 

A lot of these reactions to our conversions can be from fear.  Fear is usually caused by not knowing. So to solve this problem, we can educate our friends.

We can be brave and cut through the awkwardness.  We can explain to them what things are still the same, and what things are going to change.

 

When we take a stand on what we believe, our true friends can see our sincerity, how much Islam means to us.

Real friends will support us and try to understand.  If some friends don’t, then we pray for their guidance.  

 

If our circle of friends becomes smaller, then perhaps that is a way that it becomes stronger. Just like us.

 

Conflicts with Family

 

Nothing is more strong or more important to keep strong than family ties.

And nothing can be harder.

 

Some people in our families believe that we are in some kind of phase, and will ‘snap out of it’ eventually.

And that’s ok.  They are entitled to believe what they like.  We must make sure they know we are still members of the family.  And we are Muslims.

 

And those two things don’t oppose each other.

 

Maybe some of our family members are open for discussion. Maybe all they need is just to clarify a few points, so they can understand the little changes they will see from us in future.

It’s respectful and wise to explain things to our families.  But it is important to understand that they may continue to think what they want, regardless of what we tell them.

 

All we do is offer the info. Then, we know we’ve done our part.

How many Messengers of God had their families make trouble for them? Lots.

 

So we do what they did: pray for them.  Guidance comes from God alone.

 

Issues with Change

 

In our excitement after accepting Islam, we might want to make big changes, to reflect how different we feel inside.

But sometimes our circumstances just won’t allow for that.

 

Our work, our school, our living situation…they can slow down the changes we want to make.

As long as we are making progress, then we can expect the help of God. That may come as a change in our situations, or can also come as as peace in our hearts.

 

Change brings with it adjustment, and discomfort. But also strength.

 

Take things slow.  When we take things slow, we can lessen the growing pains on ourselves and those around us.

We can feel at peace, knowing we’re moving forward.

 

Distress with Judgement

 

As new Muslims, we have big challenges.  We are raised a certain way, with certain habits…and then one day, we make a change.

And those around us, who have been beside us, want to pull away.

 

But we’re still the same.  We haven’t become a different person altogether!  Yet we are judged.

 

Our friends and family want to analyse us, put us under a microscope: “Why are you doing this?”

“Are you just being a rebel?”  “Are you mentally ill?” “You’re just doing this to spite me.”

 

They may put together complicated theories tied to forgotten events, real and imagined.

 

But we have a simple answer: it’s the truth.

 

But only God can make them see that. Until they actually become Muslims themselves, those around us will just not get it.

So we move forward, and the distance of others can make us want to get closer to God.  We study His Names, learn more about Him and about our relationship with Him.

And we don’t feel alone. God gives us strength when all we have is Him.

7 Steps to Learning for New Muslims

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When we think about starting to study of Islam, it’s like planning to climb a mountain.

We look up, and hope to get there. It’s that first step that’s the hardest of all.

Here are 7 steps to help you get going on the path of knowledge.

Time to Yourself

We all have different things to do each day. If we think about our days, we can probably find time to sit and study.

When we consider how much time we waste on things like social media and TV, all we need to do is cut back on those a little. Then we’ll find that time we can put aside.

We can use this time to read something.  Listen to a short lesson.

Even if it’s just 5 minutes, this can become a regular routine.

 

Put Aside Distractions

Now that we’ve got our time set aside, we have to put away our phones, or the other things that distract us. We have to concentrate, and really focus on what we are studying.

If you disagreed with me about the previous point, then your time is really precious. That’s all the more reason to make the most of that time.

We’ll get more out of a focused five minutes than a whole hour of divided attention on a lesson.

Get your mind ready to learn, and open your heart to the guidance of God. Then you can make a study plan.

 

Bite-Sized Pieces

Just like that mountain is not climbed by jumping forward, we take our study in small steps.  Baby steps.

It’s so much better to focus and apply on small lessons. If we overload ourselves, we may not catch everything.  And we might get overwhelmed, and leave study altogether.

Breaking up a topic into small parts makes study easy. We focus on just one lesson at a time, and think about it until we have study time again.

 

Study, Break, Repeat

Even though we’ve broken up our topic into smaller chunks, it is all new.  

We are new to Islam, so we won’t have a frame of reference to go off of. It will take time to really sink in.

So we take breaks. Just like that mountain climb, breaks are necessary…healthy, even.

Our brains need the break to process what we learn, and our hearts need space to open up to the knowledge and wisdom.

This isn’t just any topic, it’s our way of life.

Then, we come back to it and repeat the lesson.

Repetition is a huge key to really learning and understanding anything. If lessons aren’t repeated on a regular basis, they may slip from our minds.

 

Slow and Steady

If we race up part of the mountain, and then stop for a week, it will be just that much harder to start going again.

It’s the same with studying Islam. We can burn ourselves out. And if we take a really long break, we might not get back to it.

We start out slow, and we keep slowly going through our lessons.  Remember “The Tortoise and the Hare”?

Slow and steady wins.

Learn at a steady, slow pace, so that it becomes a daily practice.

Practice means repetition+consistency.

And we know consistency is good, because the Messenger told us God loves it.

The Messenger of God said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

 

Lifetime of Learning

Let’s say we make it to the top of the mountain. Then we see many other mountaintops that are much higher.

While that might get us down, we could accept is as a challenge.

No matter how much we’ve studied a lot about Islam, there’s always more to learn.

Many great scholars died, wishing they could have studied just a bit more.

The thing is, we’ll never know everything about Islam. The journey is supposed to take our whole lives.

That’s the point: that climb. The reward is in the climb. The goal is to keep going.

 

Never give up

Sometimes when you have done all you can, and you’re exhausted, you want to just sit still.

It’s just too hard sometimes to keep going. The test seems like too much.

But what is the purpose of a test? To exhaust us and defeat us?

Nope, a test is there to qualify people to get to the next level.

Are you ready for the next level? To get closer to God?

When our knowledge helps us come close to God, we’ve already won.  And the more we learn, the more we understand Him.

The more we build a link with God, the easier the tests will be.

At the top of the mountain the sky is clearer and the path behind you well worth the climb.

How the New Muslim Can Live These Pillars of Faith

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Islam has pillars of actions, and the beliefs in the heart.  The action pillars are the Testimony of Faith, Prescribed Ritual Devotion, Charity, Fasting, and the Pilgrimage to Mecca.  Not everybody gets to do all five pillars of Islam during their lives.

 

The pillars of belief are not affected by how much money you have, or your level of health like the pillars of Islam.  They are beliefs in the heart. Every Muslim has to have them.

 

Here are some of the Pillars of Faith, and how we as new Muslims can live them each day:

 

We believe in God

 

It’s not just the obvious: God exists. We call on God alone, and believe that nothing can help us, but Him. He is the only one that gives us what we need, and keeps us safe.  Believing in Him and hoping for His help when we pray to Him is one way to demonstrate our faith in Him.

 

We believe that only He can truly describe Himself.  He taught His beautiful Names, and His actions.  We are showing our faith in God by calling on Him using these names.

 

He is absolutely perfect. He’s not like anything that He created, because He always existed. He looks after and maintains everything He made with perfection and justice.  Nothing will come to us except what God has planned for us to have.

 

We learn about God from reading the Quran, and from understanding the traditions of Messenger Muhammad.  If we spend just a little time each day learning something new about God, we are living this pillar of faith.

 

We believe in God’s Angels

 

We only believe what is true about angels, and we get our information about them from the Quran and Prophetic traditions.

 

We have guardian angels, and angels that write down every single deed, good and bad, that we do.  And when our lives are over, we will be tested in the graves by angels.  Angels spend their whole lives serving God by doing errands.

 

Some angels have specific jobs, such as Gabriel, who brings revelation from God, and Malik, who is the gatekeeper of Hellfire.  They are not, contrary to some traditions, the daughters of God, or the pure souls of good people who have died on earth.

 

They are an entirely different creation of God, not male or female.  They are made from light and have wings.  Sometimes, as we read in the Quran, angels have taken the form of humans, because God has a special message to send to earth.

 

We do ourselves a service by remembering the writing angels in particular. Their job is to write down everything we do and say. Even when we don’t think anyone is listening or seeing what is happening, the angels are recording.

 

We believe in God’s Messengers

 

Notice the plural? Messengers. God sent a lot of Messengers throughout time. He wanted people to come back to worshipping Him and fix their lives. It happened to every nation on earth.

 

The Quran mentions only 25 by name, and we believe in all of them.  Not only that, but we repeat their prayers, and take lessons from their lives, too.  If we didn’t, God would not have placed their stories in the Quran and in the sayings of Messenger Muhammad!

 

They brought us lessons from God on how to worship Him.  They never said to worship them. They always directed people to worship God alone.

 

This is especially important for us as new Muslims.  We haven’t left belief in the Messenger of our people, we’re only continuing belief in them.  Muhammad is the last in a long chain of Messengers of God.

 

We hold all the Messengers, including Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon and John the Baptist with the greatest respect and honor. They are all our Messengers, too.  Their lives’ work is finalized by Muhammad, the last of all the Messengers. He called them his brothers.

 

We Believe in His Books

 

And the Messengers brought messages, the revealed books. Just like our belief in the Messengers, we believe in all the books that God sent.

 

We only know of the ones that are mentioned in the Quran, but there were many more.  Each time God wanted to communicate to the people on earth, He sent a book. Jesus got the Gospel, Moses got the Torah, and Muhammad got the Quran.

 

While we believe that God sent all these books, the final word is the Quran.  It is the only revealed book that God preserved to this day from being changed or corrupted at all.  The messages inside it are universal and timeless, and the Quran confirms what is in the previous books.

 

Whatever truth you found in the book of revelation you might have known before Islam will be confirmed by the Quran. You may continue your faith in God’s messages as New Muslims.

 

We Believe in The Last Day

 

Remember how I mentioned the angels that write down everything? The Last Day is when all those books of deeds are going to be weighed.  Whichever book, the good or the bad deeds, is heavier will decide our home after this life.

 

It’s really critical to the human being to believe that they will one day be held accountable. People will just not behave unless they think someone’s aware of what they’re doing.  Security cameras, and even just the presence of others, deters many crimes worldwide.

 

It gives us hope that even if no one seems to be keeping track of the good we do, it’s going to be taken up on Judgement Day.

 

The Day of Judgement is when God will sort out the people of the earth.  We don’t know when this day will come. Not even Messenger Muhammad knew.

 

The great lesson in believing in this day, is to focus on what we are preparing for it.

 

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While for one reason or the other we might not make it to the Pilgrimage, or ever have enough money to give the regular Charity, we can hold all these beliefs in our hearts.

 

May God bless us with firm belief, and allows us to learn more so our hearts can become stronger with each day.