Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preparing for Ramadan

Ramadan, the month in which Muslims fast for 29-30 days without food or drink, is coming in a few days.

Because the Arabic months and the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar system, we have to wait for the moon to show up to start fasting (the next day). This year Ramadan may begin on August 1.

I am trying to prepare ahead of time for Ramadan by reading verses, hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad sws, articles, and listening to lectures on Ramadan to fully embrace the holy month.

Rituals in Ramadan include fasting from dawn until dusk, by beginning with a pre-dawn meal (suhoor), and breaking of the fast (iftar). During the night Muslims will pray Tarawih or extra prayers for a full-on spiritual awakening. 

The Prophet said,  "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." 

During physical fasting, Muslims must also refrain from gossiping, cheating, back-biting, lying, or doing any sins which may take away the blessings of fasting. God says in the Quran fasting was prescribed to learn self-restraint and to help people become better.

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. (2:183)"

Deeds during this month are multiplied from 10-700 times.

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward... (Muslim).

What a beautiful way to spiritually bring yourself back to God.

Happy Ramadan!

More verses on Fasting in the Quran:  http://quran.com/2/183-187

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"I make dua because in the end that's all that I can do. And because it's the strongest thing I know of. " -A.A.

This has been my motto for the past couple of months.

Muslims pray five times a day. This is basically the five times of the day where we are required, and it is incumbent upon us, to worship our Lord. And this is known as salat.

This five- times- a- day prayer is not to be confused with making a prayer to God. The kind of prayer where you verbally send a letter to God saying "Hey God, can you help a sister (brother) out!" or "Hey God, I need you right now. Are you listening?" That form of prayer is also a form of worship, however it is known as dua.

And obviously that's in laymen terms, cause I would hope no one would go around saying "Hey, God!" Cause that's just rude.

These past couple of months, weeks, and days I've just spent making as much dua as I possibly can. It is said that there are certain times when a dua is accepted. And those particular times and moments include when it's raining and while a person is traveling, etc. And every time I see rain, the first thing I try to do is make dua. And I dont travel, but this past weekend we went out of town, and I was so excited to be considered a "traveler" and instead of reading the book I took along with me, I spent the trip, making dua.

It's funny because a couple of years ago, if memory serves me right, I wasn't so keen on making dua. For anything. It wasn't my thing. And it wasn't what I did in times of distress, helplessness, or even gratitude. And I didnt quite understand it, which can be attributed easily to just plain old ignorance.

And I dont know when my thoughts changed and how they changed over the past couple of months. It could be because a person constantly reminds me never to forget the immense power of dua. It could be because during a very weak moment in my life, a friend and I made salat together, made dua together and I felt a peace inside of me that I hadnt thought was possible. It could be because during a lecture I heard a Hadith Qudsi* where God says "I am as My servant expects Me to be". And to paraphrase, God is saying I am whatever you think I am. If you think I am merciful, then I am merciful. If you think I am forgiving, then I am forgiving, and so on a so forth. I really loved that Hadith because I never thought of it that way until I heard the lecturer explaining it, and I never realized we, humans, could have that type of relationship with God. (Does that make sense?)

It could have been a combination of so many things.

Whatever it was, I'm glad it happened.

I just know that making dua is something that I have truly embraced and have been fortunate enough to do so. It's reassuring to know that when I think all hope is gone, I can just make a dua to God, and he is listening. I can ask for something, I can beg for something, I can cry for something, and my distress, anger, or hurt may not go away immediately, but the simple fact that God is listening, knows what's in my head, knows what's in my heart, and will eventually respond in some way, sooner or later, gives me immense comfort.

And when I'm feeling extremely helpless, and I dont know what to do for those around me and for those that I love who are going through difficult times, such as losing a loved one, school, or anything really, all I'm left with is making dua for them. Keeping them in my prayers.

Because in the end, that's all a person can do for another. And that's all there is to do.

*Hadith Qudsi are the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) as revealed to him by the Almighty Allah. Hadith Qudsi (or Sacred Hadith) are so named because, unlike the majority of Hadith which are Prophetic Hadith, their authority is traced back not to the Prophet but to the Almighty.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Playing hopscotch outside with the neighbors

Sidewalk chalking the driveway

Running through the sprinkler

Eating popsicles on the porch with family

Beading friendship bracelets

Life used to be so simple and easy when responsibilities didn't lie on our shoulders. When the world felt like one huge playground ready to be painted with realities of our imagination. Those are the days I miss when I think about work, bills, and responsibilities that keep getting added to my shoulders.

لَا         يُكَلِّفُ      اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا         وُسْعَهَا
Allah [God] does not burden a soul except [with that within] its capacity. 
[Qur'aan 2:286]