Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Alhamdulillah, all praise is due to Allah, we should all be thankful to have reached another Ramadhan, even if it is a strange one, and that we’re not been among those who we celebrated Eid with after fasting last year, only for them to not reach this month with us again.
After that sad note, and being grateful to Allah I wanted to write about Ramadhan (or Ramadan if you prefer) being so quiet and peaceful this year and how much I feel I am benefiting from this month, this time around, even more so than other years.
Don’t get me wrong, there are obvious and massive benefits in the usual way we go about Ramadhan, with work, fasting and then quickly onto our iftar before going to the Masjid for Taraweeh, before we sleep what little we can, then repeat. It’s a struggle at times, but spiritually rewarding to strive in this way but this year I am finding I am more and more at peace with myself, able to walk with my wife and my children or just by myself, to spend time to think, reflect upon how we are living our lives and what is really important.
We are getting more time also as a family in the home, as I work from desk in the dining room, able to turn and see my kids as they come downstairs on waking up, able to chat with them, knowing them as they grow up that little bit better, or just enjoy seeing them go about their daily lives.
I am also able to give more quality time to my Quran, and not just snatching a few minutes reading on the bus on my mobile phone, and we’re able to pray our salaat together as a family.
So it’s a very different feeling, and one I don’t want to lose when Ramadhan is finished this year as there is really no reason we cannot do many of these things outside of Ramadhan also if we wanted to.
This month is meant to be a time we turn back to Allah, but also one where for 30 days we can build up good habits we wish to continue for the rest of the year.
So this year I want to give myself and my family more time, to reflect on how much of my busy life was really necessary and how much I can give away to gain again this peace and tranquility, rather than falling back into the hustle and bustle of life once the Corona Virus / Covid 19 lock-down is lifted.
I think we’d all find there are large parts of our lives, we simply don’t need and which don’t benefit us, which also come at a cost of losing a little of ourselves and our family life and so let’s use this quiet time during lock-down to reflect and learn to spend our time wisely again.
Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
We all have goals in life, we want to be successful in one area or another and not just as believers and achieving success in the next life though of-course that is our primary goal, but we have things we want from the dunya as well and want to do well in life in different ways.
So how do we get there?
Well unless you’re extremely well raised and made up to start with you at first kinda go generally in the direction you think you will need to go to achieve success in one area or another and that sometimes works a little. A lot of people stick with that their whole lives and then wonder why they don’t succeed that much with the really whiny annoying ones then finding someone to blame for their failures.
Some however realise this only takes you so far, that it is not a very effective strategy. So you reflect where you went wrong and realise you need to plan, you need to aim and you need to measure where you are going and how fast you’re getting there, and this is done through targets.
So you want to be rich…
How much do you earn, how much do you want to be earning in each period of your life to get where you want to go on this?
You want to healthy…
So you check your weight and how this is changing as you go through your diet / exercise regime and measure how changes to your lifestyle has affected your weight.
‘Can’t see the wood for the trees’
We can all potentially get so obsessed with our targets and measuring ourselves toward them that we forget the target is only a means not an end in itself.
We run after the target so much, we forget we were only using this as a measure of success, and confuse that with success itself.
So a man wants to be rich, but ends up forgetting wealth is a means to an end so becomes a miser or greedy, or pursues haram means or allows it to warp him so he forgets others or he suffers setbacks so he may end up losing hope of his dreams being fulfilled as he struggles and strives to succeed.
Or in extreme cases someone trying to lose weight ends up becoming anorexic, or having some other form of body dis-morphia or else loses the will to continue as the scales refuse to shift even as they lose inches off their waist and are otherwise feeling fitter and healthier.
This goes for all matters, including our deen and we shouldn’t allow the targets we set get in the way of the goals we are trying to achieve.
So you may want to read the whole Quran during Ramadhan, but you’re a few days in and already your way behind but what if you’ve really benefited from the reading you’ve done?
You’ve learn’t new meanings and acted upon them, surely that was your a bigger move towards your goal of gaining taqwa and understanding from the Quran not just racing through it which was the target you set yourself to get towards that goal?
So I would remind myself and everyone else to yes set yourself ambitious goals, then plan how to bring them about in your life, and how you’re going to measure that success but don’t let that process, or the measuring of it get in the way of what you actually want in life.
We also need to remember that whatever we plan to do, Allah is the best of planners as we are reminded in the Quran, so we need to respect that and that success only comes from Allah, and that if He does not wish us to achieve a goal, despite our best efforts we should be content with the decree of Allah.
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
I’ve been going through a period of introspection lately, as I often do, every few months or year or two but this time it’s been much deeper and broader in scope than anything I’ve probably done since I said my Shahadah nearly 16 (lunar) years ago and indeed has lasted months not the days or weeks it has before.
Normally I pause, I reflect, maybe do a bit of research and ask people I trust around me and I correct my course slightly but still moving onward and upward again in the same direction more or less but this time it I find myself unable to move on again, I am frozen in place, and think I must choose a different path to what I’ve been on before.
Do they not think deeply about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
Quran translation, Surah Ar-Rum, 8:8
I’ve come to realise the image of myself I have in my head, which in some ways is a reflection of what others think of me in the community and that I’ve taken their word for is not actually true. It is not me as I know me truly or a accurate reflection of how I feel in my interactions with others and I am not being honest with them, or my family or myself to continue this lie, and it is a lie in part at least.
Until now I thought myself in some ways a deep thinker, an activist, a Da’ee, a caller to the truth, the community reformer, even if only on a very modest scale but the truth is I am far from these things, I barely have mastery of my own household and it’s development or reform, or indeed of myself which is where the heart of this problem I think comes from.
Like many other reverts, almost since I said my Shahadah I’ve been pushed into this role, and that’s not to blame others, I’ve relished it, and ran with it from the beginning, and the mistake of faking becoming this thing I am not, of fooling myself is my own and no one else’s.
This has really hit home this ramadhan and especially last night at a community iftar meal, when I was speaking to an elderly brother who I know thinks a great deal of the work I do in the community. We spoke about family, and also homeschooling and he made mention how it must be good for the kids to benefit from a father who is able to teach them so much in terms of the deen and life.
I had to be truthful, tell him straight up this is not me, I do a little, but barely anything in terms of my kids Islamic education, or indeed other educational needs other than offering words of advice as any father would, that such lessons are taken up by my wife, my children’s devoted mother who has in her efforts to become a better home-schooler educated herself in ways I have not over the years.
This conversation, though brief prayed upon me all night, stopped me sleeping even the little hours I had to sleep, though the migraine which came in the middle which jammed the on-switch on my brain probably didn’t help, but this discussion played over and over in my mind summed up neatly my thoughts through many wakeful nights these past few months.
I know my own weaknesses, I cannot allow the assumptions of others that I am someone good or great at what I do to hide the truth, at least to myself that I am not that person they think I am. Allah knows the truth, I know the truth and I am not really helping anyone, least of all myself to continue to pretend otherwise.
In the past I’ve fooled myself I would change, become this person as time went on as I lived it, but looking back to my recent past this has just not happened, and I think for the past few years I’ve known this and hidden it deep within myself.
“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII
I am only child in the fields I dabble in, fundamentally lacking in anything more than basic knowledge and so unable to enact change in anyway like the effectiveness I wish I could achieve.
My self development over the years has been severely lacking, forget learning arabic I am still struggling with reading the Quran fluently after 16 years of Islam and though languages is the one major area of learning I struggle with, I’ve allowed this difficulty to stop me even trying in anything like a meaningful way.
This Ramadhan has been the first time in years I have regularly prayed my sunnah prayers, rather than just the fard ones, my practice and knowledge is severely lacking yet the classes, the access to knowledge and skills was out there, I allowed myself to be distracted by being busy, but in an ineffectual manner.
In other fields I have a cursory understanding and knowledge, and being the one eyed man I’ve allowed myself to be setup as a ruler or at least and adviser among the blind when I know I can be, and should be far more.
In every aspect of my life I am falling short, deeni and other education, health and fitness, character and moral fibre, family and home, community and social life, career and wealth.
I am spread thin, running from area to area, helping this person or that project at an individual or small scale yes, but failing to build systems which could help enact change on the level on which it needs to take place.
It’s just not enough. I need to withdraw, reeducate myself, strengthen my being, redefine who I am internally and then have that reflected externally, so I become the man I know I could be, which others now wrongly think I am.
If I don’t the alternative is to know I ultimately fail in life. Myself, my family, my community and ultimately Allah who has the parameters of my being and how far I could truly go if only I pushed myself as I should and who knows how short I fall in reaching those limits.
So I am not running away, not exactly. I cannot stop everything which I have been doing, the need is too great and others are not yet willing to pick up those burdens but I am over the coming months going to be withdrawing from some activities where I can, taking up less new projects, freeing up the time I need, the space I need to grow and learn and become who I know I need to be.
I need my space each month, my time away in the cave of Hira, relaxation and reflection and not to be so busy with life and activism that I am stuck in being the role rather than becoming the man who can truly fulfill it as it needs to be filled.
For those worried about such things, I am not burned out, far from it, I am more determined than ever but I know continuing the way I have been for so long would ultimately lead me to that end, I’ve seen enough activists fall over the years to see the warning signs in myself and to take steps to avoid them if Allah wills it.
Writing is also something which I have neglected and I’ll probably be blogging more over this time also, I find I need to vent, and find the truth in what psychologists say, that far from thinking before we speak, instead giving word to my innermost thoughts helps me clarify what is true and good for me and others. I need to hear the words, or see them written to see the truth in them or not.
It is my sincere hope, that if Allah wills it, I can come back in a few years as a better man, someone people can genuinely look up to but I am not willing to keep living right now as someone I am not and if not at least I will have tried.
Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,
“Strive in ALL of the last ten nights, not just a few. This is the sunnah of the messenger salAllahu alayhi wa sallam.”
Abu Ibraheem Hussnayn
Assalaamu alaykum readers,
And a belated EID MUBARAK! TaqabAllahu minna wa minkum, May Allah accept from us and from you. OK I’m late, I know but been a bit too busy with family in the past couple of weeks to post anything and the blog is not my full time job or anything so forgive me on that.
So I hope you all had wonderful Eid celebrations and not too many of you spent your time and money throwing a welcome back party for Shaitan as too many do these days, throwing away your good deeds.
If you did… then make tawbah and remember the purpose of Ramadhan. It’s is meant to be time of purification, and I am not talking about a one-month detox before you spend the other 11 months on one big bender kinda-purification. No, instead Allaah states in the Quran:
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous
Quran translation, Surah al Baqarah, 2:183
So now use all those times you got into the habit of making du’a in Ramadhan by doing so again now, asking Allaah to forgive you, follow up an evil deed with a good deed.
On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu ‘Abd-ir-Rahman Mu’adh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with them) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: “Be conscious of Allah wherever you are. Follow the bad deed with a good one to erase it, and engage others with beautiful character.”
Related by Tirmidhi
I ask Allaah that he accepts your deeds and my deeds this ramadhan and forgives us our shortcomings, helps purify our deeds and intentions and makes us better believers for the whole year, not just one month, ameen.
Don’t worry about those who carry out the moon-sighting wars at the beginning and often all throughout the month of Ramadhan, most of them if questioned cannot even tell you the month, never-mind the date through out for the rest of the Islamic year.
There is validity for both local and global moon sightings, so please stop getting all uptight and doing shaitan’s work for him when Allaah has him locked up.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, when speaking about the matter of one who prays ten rak’ahs with the imam, then sits down and waits for Witr and does not complete the Taraaweeh prayers with the imam:
It grieves us deeply that we find in the Muslim ummah a group which differs concerning matters in which differences of opinion are acceptable, and they take these differences as a means to cause division. Differences within the ummah existed at the time of the Sahaabah, yet they remained united. The youth in particular and to all those who are committed to Islam must remain united, because they have enemies who are laying in wait.
Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 4/225
Two groups have gone to extremes with regard to this matter. The first group denounced everyone who prays more than eleven rak’ahs and said that doing so was bid’ah. The second group denounced those who do only eleven rak’ahs and said that they are going against scholarly consensus (ijmaa’).
Let us listen to what Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
Here we say that we should not go to extremes or be negligent. Some people go to extremes in adhering to the number mentioned in the Sunnah, and say that it is not permissible to do more than the number mentioned in the Sunnah, and they aggressively denounce those who do more than that, saying that they are sinners.
This is undoubtedly wrong. How can they be sinners, when the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), upon being asked about night prayers, said that they are to be done two by two, and he did not specify any particular number? Of course the one who asked him about the night prayer did not know the number, because if he did not know how to do it, it is even more likely that he did not know the number. And he was not one of those who served the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) so that we might say that he knew what happened inside his house. Since the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told him how to do it but did not say how many times, it may be understood that the matter is broad in scope, and that a person may pray one hundred rak’ahs then pray Witr with one rak’ah.
With regard to the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), “Pray as you have seen me praying”, this does not apply in absolute terms even for these people. Hence they do not say that a person should pray Witr with five rak’ahs sometimes and with seven rak’ahs sometimes and with nine rak’ahs sometimes. If we understand it in absolute terms, then we would have to pray Witr with five rak’ahs sometimes and with seven rak’ahs sometimes and with nine rak’ahs sometimes. But what is meant by the hadeeth is pray as you have seen me praying with regard to how to pray not how many rak’ahs, unless there is a text to state what the number is.
Whatever the case, a person should not be strict with people with regard to a matter that is broad in scope. We have even seen some brothers who are strict on this matter accusing the imams who pray more than eleven rak’ahs of following bid’ah, and they leave the mosque, thus missing out on the reward of which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever stands with the imam until he finishes (the prayer), the reward of qiyaam al-layl will be recorded for him.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 806; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 646). Some of them even sit down after completing ten rak’ahs, thus breaking up the rows of worshippers by sitting there, and sometimes they start talking and disturb the people who are praying.
We have no doubt that their intentions are good and they are doing their best to come to the right conclusion, but that does not mean that they are correct.
The other group does the opposite. They sternly denounce those who pray only eleven rak’ahs and say that they have gone against scholarly consensus. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell — what an evil destination!”
All the generations who came before you only knew the number as twenty-three rak’ahs, and they denounce anyone who says anything different.
Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 4/73-75
With regard to the evidence quoted by those who say that it is not permissible to do more than eight rak’ahs in Taraaweeh, they quote the hadeeth of 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
They said: This hadeeth indicates that the Messenger of Allaah was consistent in his prayers at night in Ramadaan and at other times.
The scholars refuted this use of the hadeeth as evidence by saying that this is what the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did, but the fact that he did something does not imply that it is obligatory.
The evidence that there is no set number for prayers at night – which include Taraaweeh – is the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar according to which a man asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) about prayer at night. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Prayers at night are to be offered two by two (two rak’ahs at a time). If any of you fears that the time of dawn is approaching then let him pray one rak’ah as Witr.”
(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 846; Muslim, 749)
If we look at what the scholars of the prominent schools of thought said, you will clearly see that this matter is broad in scope and that there is nothing wrong with doing more than eleven rak’ahs.
Al-Sarkhasi, who is one of the imams of the Hanafi school, said:
It is twenty rak’ahs, apart from Witr, in our view.
Ibn Qudaamah said:
The favoured view according to Abu ‘Abd-Allaah (i.e., Imam Ahmad, may Allaah have mercy on him), is that it is twenty rak’ahs. This was the view of al-Thawri, Abu Hanfeefah and al-Shaafa’i. Maalik said it is thirty-six.
Taraaweeh prayer is Sunnah according to scholarly consensus. Our view is that it is twenty rak’ahs with ten tasleems, and it is permissible to pray it individually or in congregation.
These are the views of the four imams concerning the number of rak’ahs of Taraaweeh prayer. All of them said something more than eleven rak’ahs. Perhaps the reasons why they said something more than eleven rak’ahs include the following:
1- They thought that the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah did not mean that this was the specific number.
2- A greater number was narrated from many of the salaf.
See al-Mughni, 2/604; al-Majmoo’, 4/32
3- The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to pray eleven rak’ahs and make them very lengthy, so much so that it used to take him most of the night. Indeed, one night in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led his companions in praying Taraaweeh, he did not end his prayer until just before dawn, and the Sahaabah feared that they would miss suhoor. The Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) loved to pray behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and they did not feel that it was too long. The scholars thought that if the imam made the prayer so long, this would be too difficult for the members of the congregation and that might put them off. So they thought that the imam should make the recitation shorter and increase the number of rak’ahs.
The point is that the one who prays eleven rak’ahs in the manner narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is doing well and is following the Sunnah. Whoever makes the recitation shorter and increases the number of rak’ahs is also doing well. A person who does either of these two things is not to be denounced. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said:
If a person prays Taraaweeh according to the madhhabs of Abu Haneefah, al-Shaafa’i and Ahmad, with twenty rak’ahs, or according to the madhhab of Maalik, with thirty-six rak’ahs, or with thirteen or eleven rak’ahs, he has done well, as Imam Ahmad said, because there is nothing to specify the number. So the greater or lesser number of rak’ahs depends on how long or short the qiyaam (standing in the prayer) is.
Al-Ikhtiyaaraat, p. 64
What is narrated in the saheeh and hasan ahaadeeth is the command to observe night prayers during Ramadaan, which is encouraged without specifying a particular number. It is not proven that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prayed twenty rak’ahs of Taraaweeh, rather that he prayed at night, with an unspecified number of rak’ahs. Then he delayed it on the fourth night lest it become obligatory for them and they might not be able to do it. Ibn Hajar al-Haythami said: There is no saheeh report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) prayed twenty rak’ahs of Taraaweeh. The narration which suggests that he “used to pray twenty rak’ahs” is extremely weak (da’eef).
Al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 27/142-145
So you should not be surprised that people pray Taraaweeh as twenty rak’ahs. There have been generation after generation of those imams (who used to pray twenty rak’ahs), and all of them are good.
And Allaah knows best.