Taleem Institute

Ramadan is a time where Muslims all over the world refrain from food, drink, and physical relations during daylight hours. While most people tend to focus on the food aspect of Ramadan, this holy month is a great opportunity for Muslims to transcend animalistic needs and instincts and focus on spiritual growth.

Here are some tips that make your Ramadan a truly special month!

Avoid Negative People

We all have toxic people in our lives. They are the people who are naysayers, make fun of your goals, or plain don’t like you. Well, try to avoid those types of people this Ramadan. Not only will it make you happier, but there is also a bonus of avoiding the huge sin of backbiting. It will also help you hunker down and focus on achieving your goals for Ramadan too.

Eat Suhoor (pre-fasting meal before dawn)

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Researchers have shown that people who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Can you imagine the benefits of eating a nice balanced suhoor before you embark on your fast? Eating suhoor ensures you will have the energy to face the day of fasting and free your mind to reflect on deeper thoughts.

Have a Plan

While these tips are generally helpful, we should all have specific goals in mind for Ramadan. Is it to complete the Quran? Pray every night of tarawih at the masjid? Whatever your goal may be, make sure to map out a plan of success. For example, if you want to complete the Quran, break up the Quran into blocks each day to read. If you want to be at the masjid every night, make sure you plan out your meals and arrange for things in your home to be taken care of. Whatever your plan is, ask for help so that you can reach your Ramadan goals inshallah.

Avoid Idle Talk and Engage in Dhikr

Take this month of Ramadan do avoid chit chats and rather focus on the tasks you need to attend to. This does not mean to be unfriendly but avoid unnecessary conversations. This allows you to stay focused on what you need to accomplish and efficient in your tasks which is an ideal win-win deal! Doing dhikr also keeps remembrance of Allah close at hand too.

Go Easy on Iftar (post-fast meal)

While it’s normal to want to binge eat after you break your fast, try to avoid overindulging. While traditional foods for breaking fast are deep-fried, just eat a few dates and drink some milk. This way you can pray without having a bloated belly! After that, you can try some light protein with a few veggies. That way, you get healthy nutrients, and you can avoid losing lean muscle mass.

We live in a time of advancement; pioneers in science and technology are making huge strides that will greatly impact our lives and the lives of the generations to come. Everything is either automated or in the process of being automated, hinting at a future in which robots could take over the world. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are common parlance amongst those involved in the tech sector and even amongst laymen who are passionate about these topics. Only a few decades ago, these advancements were considered fantasies but much of it is a conceivable reality now.

As humans living in structurally developed cities allowing our limited exposure to the natural world and its beauty, we are heavily reliant on gadgets just to get on with our daily lives. There is an app for almost everything. Though this may be cause for celebration, it is also definitely a reason to be wary, as well. The aim of most gadgets and advancements is to make things easier and, as a result, save a person time. However, today’s generation of technology-dependent users complains that they have less time to do that which is truly meaningful.

Smartphones and social media have taken over our lives and it is quite the norm for people to live their lives online, seeking approval and fan following. Social media has exponentially increased the reach of our message and things going ‘viral’ are commonplace.

This has made the world a global village where people are instantly aware of something happening at the other end of the world. It has allowed families and friends living thousands of miles apart to speak with or share pictures and messages at any time of day or night.

Despite these advantages, there is one prevalent drawback to such a phenomenon: the considerable lack of basic human face-to-face interaction. Paradoxically, in this age of global connectivity, people yearn for meaningful, real-world interactions and relationships. The world is becoming a lonelier place for us all.[1]

There are those with hundreds and thousands of friends on Facebook and millions of followers on Twitter and yet they cannot find a couple of people with whom they can share their concerns or open about their vulnerabilities. Lack of meaningful relationships and human touch has reached such a point that there is even a market for a ‘cuddling’ business for strangers to get cuddled by professional cuddlers for £55 per hour.[2]

Empathetic people, too, are rare, especially in this age of self-interest and indulgence taking priority over everything and everyone else. Individualism has a firm footing in our society and we, as a community, have fallen into this trap as well.

It is prudent to note that, as Muslims, we should adopt a balanced path in life, including our use of social media. We should not make the mistake of shunning new things that come our way just because they are new. Our community has suffered decades of stagnation partly due to this and it seems that only recently we have realised the importance of using modern tools to enjoin good and make a positive impact on the wider society.

However, it is preposterous that we should wish to change the world but cannot lend a helping hand to a relative, friend or neighbour in their time of need. It may be that their needs seem trivial or that there is no perceived value in pursuing them. It may be that your helping them gets you no ‘likes’ or ‘retweets’ or your deed may not go ‘viral’. But know that the reward that Allāh has in store for those “simple” actions far outweighs many other endeavours we might consider worthy of our time and effort.

People who suffer from depression or have suicidal thoughts usually have their condition exacerbated simply because they had no one around to talk to or with whom to share their worries and fears.

The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. – Rick Warren

Muhammad Ali, the famous sports personality, and role model, once chanced upon a man about to jump to his death from a building in Los Angeles. He approached the man, spoke to him and encouraged him to come back to safety. What an amazing deed.[3]

What follows are examples from aḥadīth of reaching out to fellow humans and the great reward it entails.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) once advised ʿUmar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) to ask Owais al-Qarni to make duʿā’ for him if he had the good fortune of meeting him. Owais earned this high status simply because he used to treat his mother kindly and look after her.

Ibn ʿUmar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said: The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “Jibrīl kept urging me that neighbours should be treated well such that I thought he would make them heirs.”[4]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “He is not a believer whose stomach is filled while the neighbour to his side goes hungry.[5]

Ibn ʿUmar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) reported: The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “The most beloved people to Allāh are those who are most beneficial to the people […] Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allāh the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”[6]

Reach out to people in the real world, put a smile on their face and build strong, meaningful relationships. This is what makes communities thrive. Daʿwah by actions has a far greater impact than Daʿwah just by words. Each of us is a representative of this beautiful din and we need to live up to it through our actions. Let us not talk about it all our lives in the virtual world without practising it in the real world.

 

It has been estimated that working fathers spend about 3 minutes a day with their children. Fathers who abandon their families, fathers who rarely see their children because of divorce, and fathers who are busy and have little or nothing to do with the raising of their children are common.

Dad gets up early, takes the long drive to work, gets off late, takes the long drive home, and gets home very tired. He just wants to have supper, relax a little, and go to bed so that he can repeat the same routine the next day. Every now and then, he tells himself that he will spend more time with his children tomorrow.

But Muslims are not like that, you say. Perhaps. How much time do you spend with your children during the day? Not just in the same house, but together — together.

“Cats in the Cradle”, by Harry Chapin tells the sad story of a boy who always tries to spend time with his father, but always finds him too busy. When the boy grows up and the father gets older, the father always wants to spend time with his son, but his son always has other things to do.

Quality time spent between a father and his children is essential for both the parent and the children. The children need to know that their father loves and cares for them, and the father needs to be careful that he does not lose his relationship with his children by neglect.

Whenever a person faces hardship, it is easy for him/her to give up and walk away from their challenges or complain and blame those around him/her. They fall into depression, feel sad about their situation, and feel powerless. They do not understand “why this is happening to them” or “what they did to deserve this”.

But for a Productive Muslim, his/her way of thinking is completely different.

Whenever a Productive Muslim faces hardship, he/she takes a step back from their difficult situation and thinks about it from a higher level. They step back from their life with all its worries, anxieties, problems, and think about it from an Akhira perspective, then they ask themselves the question: what does this ALL mean when compared to the Hereafter? What does this ALL mean when compared to eternity in Jannah?

One of the main misunderstandings we all have in this life is that if we do good, we should get good in this life and hereafter. This is not entirely true.

This life is not the life we will get justice in. If this were the case, there would be no need for a Day of Judgment or Akhira.

This life is a life of duality; there’s good and bad, justice and injustice, mercy and oppression, love and hate, truth, and falsehood. Your role in this life is to live your life according to how Allah (Subhanahu Wa’Tala) asked you to do, seeking His pleasure, avoiding His anger. And Allah (Subhanahu Wa’Tala) promises you in many places in the Quran, that if you do just that, He will give you a ‘good’ life. Allah says in the Quran:

Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Surat Al-Nahl, Verse 97)

“He that is righteous and patient, – never will Allah suffer the reward to be lost, of those who do right.”(Surat Yousef, Verse 90)

There are 7 practical steps to help you face any difficult situation-

  1. Make sure you stick to praying on time – 5 times a day. Never miss a salah and do your best to pray each Salah with sincerity as if it’s your last salah in this world.
  2. Read the Quran.This Quran is so beautiful that no matter what difficulties you face you will find solace in it.
  3. Make Dua. Especially the dua for removing anxiety.
  4. Give Sadaqah. Give lots of charity, as much as you can, because it helps push away hardship. And if you cannot give money, even kind words or physical sadaqah can do (i.e. helping people physically or emotionally).
  5. Set Goals and Have Vision. Do not let Shaytaan play with you and keep replaying the video of your hardship in your mind repeatedly, move on! Set new goals, new projects, and remember you are with Allah, nothing should stop you!
  6. Wake up Early. Wake up before fajr and work on your ideas and projects, or simply read Qur’an. Getting busy before daybreak is a definite way to move away from your hardship and overcome challenges. Get most of your ideas/work done in these early hours, these are blessed hours.
  7. Hardship is Not Lost. Remember, Allah will never forget the injustice/hardship you faced, so don’t worry about seeking revenge or trying to get justice

I pray that Allah (Subhanahu Wa’Tala) removes all your ordeals and hardships, blesses you all with a good life, and helps you remember Him day and night, for Verily, with the remembrance of Allah, do hearts find rest”. (Surah Ar-Ra’d, verse 28)

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