Welcome Ramadan 2018

When the new crescent moon is sighted, about 1.8 billion muslims, nearly a quarter of the world’s population, rejoice in preparation for the most spiritual month of the year.

During Ramadan, muslims give up food, drink and sexual relations for the entire day- from sunrise to sunset. They are also encouraged to give to charity and to keep one’s tongue free from backbiting and slander. It is a month of patience and renewal. It is welcomed by us all as a time of inward reflection and change.

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you so that hopefully you will gain taqwa”

Al-Quran (al-Baqara: 183)

Ramadan 2018 is upon us.  It is the best time for a spiritual boost, to take time to reflect and read and most probably the best time to go on a technology detox.

It is time to reassess our lives, re-prioritise.

Where are we going ?

Where are we going as individuals, as families, as communities?

When you put God in the centre of your priorities in life, God will put you at the centre of his providential care.

Taken from Shaykh Hamza’s reminder to prioritise this month, here.

It is a time to give in charity. Muslims are actually the biggest demographic group to give to charities around the world. It’s an actual fact.  In 2016 British Muslims alone collectively gave a staggering £100 million to charity in Ramadan.  That’s £38 a second. Read more here. And that’s just what’s been recorded; muslims are known to do numerous charitable acts throughout the month, not to mention, feeding their neighbours at iftari time (which is sunset and the breaking open of the fast time) with glorious treats up and down the country.  If you are of a rare variety of people who do not enjoy this treat, please knock on the door of your nearest muslims, I assure they’ll be happy to oblige, with a smile.

To “Read” which was the first word revealed to our Prophet (PBUH) in the Quran in this Holy of Month of Ramadan, is what we need to focus on.

The Prophetﷺ said:

 “No people gather in a house of the houses of Allah reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves except that serenity descends upon them, mercy envelops them, the angels surround them, and Allah makes mention of them to those with Him.” [Muslim]

May our houses be of those that are remembering God together, with the recitation of His Holy Book, during this blessed month and beyond!

It is also a tradition in some muslim countries to revisit the seerah of the Prophetﷺ.  Muslims believe the Quran was revealed in Ramadan, during the last 10 days.  By revising the Seerah, one can reflect and revisit the times in which it was revealed.  In this way, we can draw closer to God and His beloved Messenger.  Click here if  you’d like to listen to the Seerah by Martin Lings on Audible.co.uk.  The first download is free! I highly recommend this site for audio stories as an alternative to TV. If, in the tradition of my parents, you’re planning to cut-back on anything that involves the screen this Ramadan.

I love these:

I think it’s pretty obvious why it’d be to our advantage to cut down screen time this month.

The gates of Paradise are said to be opened, the great big devils locked up and therefore one is more closer to the spiritual realm.  It is a lot easier to perform good deeds, give in charity and be good to one another. Please listen to this wonderful and touching short talk on how the dynamics of the world change and our soul responds to that, this is a time to upgrade our iman and level of connection to God.   SubhanAllah! Glory be to God.

Healthy Eating and Fasting

Here are 10 health benefits to fasting, which have been taken from this website. Evidence to back this up can be seen if you click the link. Here the term intermittent fasting is explained and can be done in many ways, including the daytime Ramadan fast.

  1. Intermittent fasting has now been scientifically proven to be good for us. When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases. Your cells also initiate important cellular repair processes and change which genes they express.
  2. Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories, while boosting metabolism slightly. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.
  3. Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels, at least in men.
  4. Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.
  5. Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
  6. Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.
  7. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer in animal studies. One paper in humans showed that it can reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
  8. Intermittent fasting may have important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage.
  9. Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
  10. One of the most exciting applications of intermittent fasting may be its ability to extend lifespan.

A physical detox occurs, and what better month to have this effect than in the same month our souls are experiencing a spiritual detox.  Body and mind are both emptied in order to make space for all the goodness to come in.

If we stay away from the fried foods…OK OK guys maybe if you don’t have these sensational savouries every evening, at least.  Let’s go for dates, which are not only sunnah (a tradition began by the Prophet ) but also pack a nutritional punch.  Smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetables, porridge (for slow release energy) are all recommended amongst the sunnah foods, of course.  Even a portion of carbohydrates and good fats will do you good this month. Everything in moderation. Just not, you know, everything, every evening.  I’m talking to YOU. You know who you are. 🙂 

See this article. to remind yourselves of the benefits and guidelines of this blessed month.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has to fast during the month of Ramadan. Those who are elderly, ill, pregnant or breastfeeding have a choice of whether or not to fast.  It is recommend that a person ‘tries’ to fast before making a conclusive decision based on how one feels. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please click on this article which will help you make the best decision for you inshaAllah (God-willing). Those who are chronically ill, and are not ever able to make up their missed fasts will have to pay a fidya (expiatory payment), which is the equivalent of the cost of 2.2kg of wheat per day.  See this article for more information.

Doterra Oils and Fasting.

It is OK to continue to use the essential oils during Ramadan. Please see the guidelines on this page which have been given from Ustadh Tabraze Azam, from the renowned Seekershub website. Also, information on how to order the exclusive Ramadan Survival Pack is given here.

A note from Shaykh Aslam of Birmingham on ‘Ramadan Muslims’ on how we must always withhold our judgement.  There is always so much good that comes through during Ramadan.  The collective endeavours of a whole community of people from around the world gives us a spiritual boost and reminder and all those actions and deeds we never seem to have time for become a priority in Ramadan.  So to those people who are blessed enough to not change much during Ramadan, please give encouragement to those who are still taking baby steps.  Every step leads towards goodness, so remember to encourage and inspire people to be the change you wish to see in the world.

When you see that girl with a messed up reputation at college putting on the hijab and praying in Ramadan – that isn’t ‘trying to acting holy.’ That’s the essence of Iman (belief). When you see the guy give up the club, put down the bottle, and replace listening to rap tunes with the Book of Allāh in Ramadan – that isn’t fake. That’s the pinnacle of faith. When you see people taking the Qur’an off that dusty shelf and reciting it for the first time in the year – that isn’t being ‘typical’. That’s true belief. When you see a person sharing Islamic posts in the month despite their shortcomings – that’s not double standards. That’s a sign that a light exists in the heart. When you see that person without tajwid reciting without a beautiful voice – that’s not embarrassing. That’s a testification of the beauty that lives within in their souls. When you see Mosques which are empty all year round fill up during the blessed month – that’s not hypocrisy. That’s a sign that truth still exists within the community.
Perhaps this year a single action of that person you label as a ‘Ramadan Muslim’ will surpass all of the worship and good deeds that you spent a life time doing. We all had a moment in life when things clicked and we were blessed with guidance. If Allāh can forgive prostitutes, and thieves and give them Jannah due to sincerity then you think that girl without the jilbab, the brother without tajwid, those men without beards, those guys who didn’t pray, and the ‘Ramadan Muslims’ can’t be forgiven and given guidance due to sincerity?

SubhanAllah.  Let us just reflect on that. God is so Merciful, and every moment is an opportunity for change and progression. Let us always remain open-minded and help ourselves and others ‘keep the faith’.

Here is a beautiful reminder from one of my favourite inspirational motivational speakers and teacher Yasmin Mogahed.DdP2ujkU8AELzYw.jpg-large

This is a poignant and true message to remind ourselves that ultimately, Ramadan is a chance. A beautiful chance for us to improve ourselves. A chance to put Allah first and heal ourselves. A reminder that indeed. Allah is near.

You know how some people spend millions on retreats every year? The imaan, or spiritual, boost we get from these retreats are simply priceless.  We pray that this feeling stays with us long enough to not only give us a boost but to make a difference in our everyday lives. Well, think of Ramadan as a free retreat from none other than our Lord, Most High.  A reminder to read the quran, give in charity and do good deeds.  The obligatory act of fasting all day and standing in taraweeh (night prayer) for a good part of the night will free your spirit inshaAllah (God-Willing).  The abundance of good deeds will unshackle your heart from the duniya (this world) and connect it to the One who is Most Deserving of our love and attention. SubhanAllah.

The Night of Power

‘A’isha said, “The Messenger of Allah , used to do i’tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and he said, ‘Look for the Night of Power during the last ten nights of Ramadan.’”

‘Itikaf’ is when a muslim decides to focus on God alone and actually has minimal interaction with the outside world during this time. For a man, it traditionally takes place in a mosque and for a woman, in her room at home.  It is more common for men to perform it than women- let’s be honest, how often is it that a woman can switch off all her worldly duties for one full day, never mind ten days?

The recommended prayer in the last ten days is:

Tips-on-Maximizing-Your-last-10-days-of-Ramadan

“I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, if I know what night the Night of Power is, what do you think I should say during it?’ He said, ‘Say: “O Allah, You are Pardoning and you love pardon, so pardon me.”‘” [at-Tirmidhi]

And now we must strive to make the most of this month, while it is here.

Shaykh Riad Saloojee, from seekershub.org, reflects beautifully during his ‘itikaf’, on his efforts to cling onto what little is left of the blessed month of Ramadan.

From the generous bay windows of my i’itikaf mosque, I can see out into the world. I’ve been in seclusion now for three days. The world already appears different and distant.

The trees sway in the wind. The leaves are taken by the faintest breeze. Their green changes in the sun’s rays. The sky is there and gone. The clouds sweep slowly across its blue canvas. They have no form, always in motion, always in motion.

The sunnah of i’itikaf marks the closing time of this blessed month. If you listen closely, you can hear its whispering farewell. The Sacred Law teaches us to remain in His house, to leave only for pressing need, to free our hearts from all besides.

Interesting, isn’t it, that i’itikaf means literally to cling, to hold fast, to devote, to attach?

I’m trying. But already, the dread starts to set in: What thereafter? Can I survive with my heart — out there?

High in the clouds, the birds soar in circles.

Here I sit, trying to hold on.

Trying to hold on to the One that gave me this month of gifts: all the good; all the chances for worship; all the opportunities to disconnect from the addictions that fetter my mind, body and soul; all the epiphanies about my deficiencies: and all those precious moments to feel my dire need for Him.

The wind stops but only to resume again.

Nothing lasts. This, too, shall pass.

But He will remain. As He always was. As He always will be. His grace and love and subtle kindness have no passing end.

We can keep the sprit of Ramadan through the i’itikaf of our hearts. That doesn’t have to change. We can be in Ramadan forever, in I’itikaf forever.

This is the path: to be in I’itikaf of Him with our hearts, to cling to Him with all indigence and poverty, to keep our hearts raised in supplication at the threshold of His door.

The poet writes: The one who fasts from passing pleasures, at the ‘Eid finds love itself.

O Allah, let us find you in these swiftly departing days and nights.

You as our ‘Eid. And ‘Eid forever.

That was so poetic and touching, mashaAllah (God has willed).  May we be affected by this month as we are supposed to.  An effect that lasts our entire lives. Let’s make our lives Ramadan. Let us strive to be in Ramadan forever.

Have you got anything to add to this discussion on Ramadan? Are there any other reminders you’d like to share. Please do comment below. There have been a few useful Ramadan Packs flying around on WhatsApp.  There are some for children (older and younger) and adults.  If you haven’t received any and would like one just drop me a message on my contact page and I’ll send it to you by the weekend inshaAllah.

BLOG NEWS: I am going to introduce audio files to each post soon.  This will enable you to listen to my articles when time is short and you aren’t able to read them. Or maybe you just like the idea of taking my voice to accompany you as you set about your daily tasks at home, work or even whilst you’re driving. 😀. Maybe! Either way, do check back on the site and your favourite pages for an audio file update. I look forward to sharing with you in this way. Exciting!

Peace and love,

Sidra Ansari ❤

PS To help me on my journey to enoughism I will write down 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each post. These are:

  1. Ramadan is nearly upon us! May God guide us to make the most of it and it’s beauty and opportunities before the chance is gone forever.
  2. I’ve been invited to celebrate Ramadan with Jackie’s Kindergarten class next week.  I’m really looking foward to sharing a story, songs and yummy food! Please pray it goes well for us.
  3. I really am grateful for the longer days and sunshine.  It’s taken a long time coming but I honestly haven’t heard many people complaining about the heat this time!

Since you’re here I have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the the7ofus.blog than ever but advertising revenues are non-existent. And unlike many lifestyle magazines, I haven’t put up a paywall – I want to keep my writing as open as I can. So you can see why I need to ask for your help. These posts take a lot of time and hard work to produce. It would be amazing if you could help fund me by donating a coffee a two to keep me going! Please press here to give.

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