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My sister Umme Maryam translated and transcribed this lecture by Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed (db) from Urdu- I have condensed it for readability.

It is written in the Maktoobat of Imam Rabbani Mujaddid Alf Thani that the night of 15th Shabaan is the budget night of the Islamic calendar year.  A simple example is that every nation prepares a budget for the upcoming year, a sort of “to-do list” which determines what tasks need to be undertaken.  Once prepared, the (national) organizations work according to the outlined policies.

Allah’s system is similar, a to-do list is prepared in which all  the tasks to be undertaken in the upcoming year are finalized.  The children to be born, the individuals written to die, the sustenance (rizq) one gets, the accidents, the diseases, the honors bestowed, the humiliations destined.  All the activities of the next year are drawn up.

That is why the Holy Prophet said, “I prefer to be in a state of fasting the day the next year’s list of dead is drawn. “ We do not know whose name will be in that list. No one knows when one will die.

If we ponder, all the problems facing human beings are related to this (list of) sustenance in one way or the other.  A woman is unable to bear children, a man cannot get married (his attaining a wife is also related to rizq), a person is unsuccessful in getting a job, getting a job is included in rizq.  So if you look closely, the majority of our problems are sustenance-related. i.e. somewhere, a daughter does not get a proposal, a wife does not get her husband’s love, a husband does not get his wife’s loyalty.  Someone’s business fails, another is crushed under debt, one works tough hours but cannot pay for his children’s education.

Since the majority of our problems are related to rizq, and this is the special time the list of rizq allocation is being prepared, then it makes sense that this is the time one should beseech Allah the most.

15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan- Time to Ask

When this list starts being prepared, Allah grants a special mercy to the people, He gives the people a true chance and a lengthy time to ask.   This time extends from 15th Shabaan to 27th Ramadan.  The decisions are finalized on the 27th of Ramadan and then the list is forwarded to the angels for execution.  In other words, had the Lord wanted, then the decision would have been made in one night alone and the deed would be done. But no, the slaves are granted a chance to ask for a longer time.  Ask for shifa for diseases, protection from difficulties; ask whatever you may, the doors of Allah’s treasures are open.

That is why Ramadan is such an important month.  It is a month of blessings and mercy.  Allah says,

‘O My slaves, remain hungry and thirsty, you will get reward, you heart will attain Nur, divert your attention to Me, ask Me, and I will give you.’

Because Allah wants to forgive his slaves, He gives us more than a month to ask. So instead of being pushed around by and spreading our hands in front of the created, why not ask the Creator?  He wants to Give, then why not ask the One who loves to Give. Ajeeb, Allah is happy when He gives and man is happy when he gets.  Ask Allah.

That is why the days and nights of Ramadan are very important. We should not pass them in negligence.  We should ask. We have time until Ramadan 27. The more we ask, the better Allah will destine for us. This is the time to ask, to be Mutawajih illallah (attentive towards Allah).

Another Ajeeb bounty of Allah is that He has informed us; the faster’s dua is accepted by Allah at Iftar time. So, present your needs haajah in front of Allah and ask for Allah’s mercy.

Kullu yaumin wa laylatin daawatun mustajaabah.
Ramzan sharif ke har din aur har raat mein usski dua qubul hoti hai.
A person’s dua is accepted in every night and day of Ramadan.

Preview Of the Coming Year

How one spends Ramadan, that is how the coming year will be spent.  For example, if one is not regular in praying tahajjud, and he strives to pray Tahajjud all of Ramadan, then you will witness that it will become easy for him to pray tahajjud in the upcoming year.  If a man who cannot protect his gaze (from looking at non-mahram women),  strives to protect it completely during Ramadan, then the next year he will be cured of this disease. So those individuals who say we cannot do muraqabah, dhikr or tasbeehat regularly should try to do it in Ramadan

Be particular for one month, and you will see the rest of the 11 months you will receive help from Allah.  Therefore, we have to create the specimen, and Allah will give us the ability, the tawfiq (to do that particular kind of ibadah) for the rest of the 11 months according to that specimen.  We never asked the tawfiq for tahajjud, we never asked protection from falsehood, takabbur (arrogance), hasad (jealousy), and keenah (malice). Swhy complain?  That is why we should spend Ramadan the way we want to spend the rest of our lives.  Make a schedule.

Shaykhul Hadith Maulana Zakariyya Kandhalvi did not speak to anyone unnecessarily during Ramadan.  Once his friend said to him, Ramadan comes to us as well but it does not come like a fever like it has come upon you. In reality, Ramadan should come upon one like a fever so you are gripped in the fever.

If we do not protect ourselves from lying, backbiting, unnecessary gazing in the month of Ramadan, then how do we expect to protect ourselves during the rest of the year?

Can’t Blame The Devil

We find proof in hadith that before Ramadan, Jibrail (AS) comes down and handcuffs the (major) devils (shayateen,) so that they may not ruin the fasts of the ummah of the Holy Prophet .

Now if the big devils are chained, then why does one still commit sins in Ramadan?  There are two answers to this:  Either the little devils are enough to entice a person to sin, to seduce, to cause him to slip, so the person doesn’t need the big devils to commit sins as the small ones are enough.

Or, other ulema say, that just like a piece of iron is still hot when taken out of the furnace (it remains severely hot you cannot touch it for a good half hour), similarly, the nafs (self/ego/soul) which was soldering in the furnace of sins all year long, even when removed from the furnace of sins in the month of Ramadan, will still emanate the heat of the sins it committed.  The ones who are drowned in sins all year long will feel the evil of the nafs in Ramadan.

The sins committed in the month of Ramadan are not due to major shayateen, but due to the human nafs itself.  Thus, (Ramadan) is a ‘litmus test’ of our spiritual diseases.  Whoever wants to check his spirituality, then do this easy test in Ramadan.  If your spirituality is sound, you will remain protected from sins in Ramadan. And if your spirituality is unsound, then you will commit sins in Ramadan just like you used to commit outside of Ramadan.  This is because the soul is weak.  The sins of Ramadan are very harmful, because they are due to the mischief and evil of the nafs. You can’t blame the devil.

There are so many blessings of Ramadan that if one pays even a little bit of attention, the Lord forgives.  Nabi mentioned a tribe at the outskirts of Madina, Bani Kalb, which was renowned for their possession of sheep.  Each family of the tribe had hundreds of sheep, so much that when the sheep came out for grazing they used to fill a huge valley between two mountains.   Nabi said that during each night of Ramadan, the amount of dwellers of Hell, equivalent to the hair on the sheep of Bani Kalb, are freed from the hellfire. Now if the sheep used to fill a whole valley, imagine how much hair (wool) would the sheep have?

When the River of Mercy is flowing, then isn’t the one who does not reap its benefits (by seeking forgiveness) the most unfortunate?  See, the love a mother has for her child is so deep that if someone curses her child, she leaps like a lioness to defend him.  ‘Who are you to curse him?’ she will exclaim unable to stand the abuse.  Thus, love does not allow one to say even one word.  But when a mother’s heart is hopeless, pained, broken by her own child, then even if someone curses him she says Ameen.  The same situation is described in the following hadith.

Jibrail (AS) came and made dua. “May the one who finds the month of Ramadan and does not get himself forgiven be destroyed.”  And when the Holy Prophet heard this, he said Ameen.  So this means the one who does not spend the time of Ramadan in worship pains the heart of the Holy Prophet .  How can one be heedless in this month of mercy?

Ramadan to Hajj- An award ceremony

Allah’s slaves worship and pray during this time.  The tradition is every worker gets compensated for the work he performs.  And when someone does some unique work, he gets recognized by special honors.  Some get awarded medals, some get Presidential honors etc.  Allah’s tradition is that he rewards his slaves for their ibadah in Ramadan by calling him to His house after Ramadan.  Hajj is, in essence, a convocation, an award ceremony of sorts for the work performed in Ramadan. Worldwide, whoever spends Ramadan enjoyably, Allah calls him to His house to distribute rewards.

Our Shuyookh say, Ramadan is the month of work and Zulhijja is the month of reward.  Allah gives a period of two months in between (the work and reward).  This is because if Hajj was on 1st of Shawwal how would people be able to reach His house from the world over?  They are humans. Preparations have to be made; some travel by air, car, some by boat, and some by foot.

Ya’teena min kulli fajjin ameeq.They will come to Us from deep and distant highways.

His slaves needed time, so Allah gave them time to travel in Shawwal and Zulqaddah to reach His house.  From the 1st Zulhajj, Layalin ashr (the ten Holy Nights) start. These nights are so wondrous that Allah has sworn by them in the Holy Quran,

Wal Fajr. Wa Layaalin Ashr.By the dawn. And by the 10 nights.

Allah is so happy that all His admirers of the world are sitting in His house just like the hosts of a wedding function are so happy when all the guests arrive.    That is why He swears by those ten days.

Just think, Hajj is not about praying salah.  You do not go to Hajj and pray two rakat salah to complete Hajj, because the main purpose of Hajj is not performing salah. Hajj is whoever reaches the grounds of Arafat on the 9th Zilhajj between Zuhr (noon prayer) until Maghrib (sunset).   This is rukn e azam (the greatest obligation) of Hajj.  If salah was a requisite for Hajj, then everyone would be in need of wudhu; and weak people like us would be running to do ablution.  And the many women who traveled from so far would come and be unable to pray salah (due to menstruation).  Allah is so merciful.  Even if a sick or unconscious person reaches Arafah, then his wuquf (stay) is complete.

Hence Nabi mentioned, I never saw shaytan so humiliated as I did on the Day of Arafah.  The only other day he was as humiliated was on the Day of Badr.  He screams, shouts, and pours dust over his head, “My effort of years has been wasted!”

And Allah forgives His slaves.  Not only the ones who reach Hajj are forgiven., look at how Nabi favored his ummah in this amazing dua.  

‘Oh Allah, forgive the pilgrim (Haaji), and forgive the one the haaji prays for.’

This dua shades the duas of pilgrims until Qiyamah.  Allah forgives the pilgrims as well as the one the pilgrim prays for.   If we were to depend on our duas alone, our false tongues would take us nowhere. But now, our duas are shaded by this great dua of the Holy Prophet himself.  Our duas get accepted.

When Allah’s guests arrive at Arafah, Allah bestows them with an unusual honor.  He says, ‘Ask whatever you want, I will give according to your wish! ‘  He gives the choice to His slaves.

After Arafah, our Lord calls us to Mina for a few days.  He wants us to express freedom from our two enemies: Nafs and Shaytan.  First, we sacrifice an animal (Qurbani) and symbolically pass a knife over our ego.  Second, we throw stones at Shaytan to express our hatred towards him (Rami).  The reward for throwing stones at Shaytan yields great rewards.  The jurists write, a pilgrim throws a total of 70 stones at shaytan during his Hajj.  Every stone expiates such a major sin that if that sin were not forgiven, it most definitely would have dragged that person into hellfire.  So 70 kabirah (major) sins are forgiven after Rami.  Subhanallah!

Then the slave says, ‘Oh, Allah we have expressed freedom from shaytan, and have sacrificed an animal – we have slit our desires with a knife’. Now Allah says, “You are mine! Now come to My House!”  Now is the time of meeting and visitation (deedar and mulaqat).  Because of this reason, this tawaf is also named Tawaf e Ziarah (The Circumambulation of Visit).

So, this Tawaf e Ziayarah is reward of Ramadan.  Then after Tawaf e Ziyarah, live there as many days you wish, do Tawaf e Wida (Farewell Circumambulation) and return to your homes.  Subhanallah!  Ramadan is the month of effort and Zulhijjah is the month of reward.

Don’t Waste Ramadan

This was the reason that Allah’s Habeeb used to wait for Ramadan and make dua two months before it came.

Allahumma baarik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’baan wa ballighna Ramadan.
Oh Allah bless us in Rajab and Shaban  and make us reach Ramadan.

He knew the importance of this month that is why he made dua two months before it came.  We need to strive in Ramadan.  It is one month.  How hard is it to leave sins for one month?  When our salaf (pious predecessors) wanted to extoll the virtue of a person, they used to coin it this way, ‘He has passed 45 Ramadans of his life.’  The witnessing of a Ramadan was considered a standard of nobility and savance i.e He has passed 45 Ramadans therefore he has had so much time for worship.

That is why for six months our elders made dua for Ramadan to come.  And after Ramadan, for six months they made dua for their Ramadan to be accepted.  All year round, duas for Ramadan were made.

There are no words to describe the blessings of Ramadan. Hazrat Ali (RA) used to say, “Allah does not want to punish the ummah of His Habib Rasoolullah ”.  When someone asked, what is the daleel? He answered, “Had Allah wanted to punish the ummah of Rasoolullah , He would not have gifted Ramadan to them.”

The purpose of gifting Ramadan is that no one remains unforgiven, everybody may be forgiven.

Ulema write that Yusuf (AS) had 11 brothers .

Ahada ashara kawkabaEleven stars…

.. and the 12th was Yusuf (AS).  So they were 12 in total.  Eleven committed a mistake but were forgiven due to the twelfth one.  So Ramadan is like Yusuf (AS).  If the ones who commit sins for 11 months, spend Ramadan the correct way, then Allah will forgive the sins of those 11 months due to this holy month of Ramadan.

May Allah grant us the tawfiq to value this time. Let’s prepare now.  Preparing for Ramadan is not merely buying grocery and foodstuffs and arranging for delicious meals and drinks.  This is a need. Need is separate from purpose.  True preparation is to leave sins now, do taubah now, and get busy in ibadat (worship), nafl (involuntary prayers), zikr (remembrance), tasbeeh, tilawat (recitation), start this routine now!  We still have a few days left.

Imam Mujaddid Alf Thani gives an example, that when day breaks, then 11/2 to 2 hours before sunrise is called subah sadiq (true morning).  The day breaks in the black darkness of the night.  And the morning light starts emanating and increasing until 15 minutes before sunrise it is as bright as it is after the sun rises.  Experience tells us that if a person wakes up late for Fajr, he looks up at the sky 15 min before sunrise and assumes that his salah has become qaza.  But when he looks at the chart, he realizes he still has ten minutes to pray Fajr.  However the light is so bright it seems the sun has risen.

What this means is that the subh sadiq of barakah starts on the the 15th of Shabaan and each day the nur increases until the 29th of Ramadan the anwarat are as much as they would be in Ramadan.  That is why in these days, even a layman wishes to do more good deeds.  And the sahib e batin (those bestowed with the inner eye) see mercies being showered from the sky like rain.

Value this ni’mah. Ask Allah. Our Rabb has given us the chance to be forgiven.

May Allah forgive us and include us in those people.  Ameen

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As a Muslim mom of two sons who will grow up in the U.S., one of my greatest fears is radicalism. What if I am taking them to the masjid to learn how to get closer to Allah (SWT) and somewhere along the way they are exposed to extremist ideology through internet radicals or overzealous ‘ticket to heaven’ freaks, or agent provocateurs. My sons are toddlers but this is a bleak reality faced by mothers of our youth; the horror of finding your own son involved in this craziness. But the answer isn’t to keep your sons away from masjids as some moms do but to communicate with them and teach them what Allah allows us to do in His name and what He absolutely abhors. We are so pleased that they are turning away from haram and towards deen that we stop reaching out to them, guiding them.

I am also a youth group leader and every time some young man falls prey to FBI baiting and decides to take other people’s lives, I feel the need to talk to the boys and remind them to be careful, to talk to a trusted adult if someone approaches them and talks about overseas contacts and other shady stuff. Many people just blame the FBI, but our Muslim youth have to take responsibility for their own actions too. That finger on a remote is yours and you will be accountable for what you have done.  Imam Zaid gives us some very direct words of wisdom that are loaded with common sense. Use them, talk to the youth in your community, repost this on your blog, you don’t know whose life you may save. (He is definitely a straight-shooter.)

Letter to a Would-be Mujahid

Recent developments have forced me to put some things on hold to write you this letter.  You might ask how I know you. I have met you at student events, in mosques, and at conferences. I have listened to your arguments and I have made my counter arguments. Oftentimes, my arguments have been somewhat formal. I figured I would write you a letter, since that is a lot more personal and less formal. Perhaps this way you will be more inclined to listen.
To begin with, whenever you are criticized for your bloody, anarchistic ideology, you point to the bloody abuses of the American war machine or their Zionist accomplices. This diversionary tactic on your part does not impress serious and thoughtful people. It is simply an abdication of your moral responsibility. It is as if you are saying you reserve the right to violate established Islamic principles, such as those guaranteeing the protection of innocent life, because the American military or the IDF do no respect innocent Muslim life. That would be a credible argument if the American military or the IDF claimed to be operating on the basis of Islamic principles. They don’t, but you do. I hope, without further elaboration, you can immediately sense the moral dilemma you are creating for yourself.
Along those lines, please allow me to remind you of something else. Your misguided attempts to kill and maim innocent Americans only make it easier for the American military to kill more Muslims with greater impunity. Your actions help to create a political climate that removes any moral restraint from the actions of the American military, the IDF and soon the forces of India’s increasingly Hindu nationalist armed forces. You see, fear is a very potent emotion and when it is carefully manipulated it can lead to very irrational politics. That most extreme form of those politics is called genocide.
Fear can be especially dangerous when it is combined with another emotion, insecurity. You are so divorced from reality that you probably haven’t noticed that a lot of Americans are extremely insecure right now. Especially, the white middle class or what is left of it. They don’t know if they will soon lose their homes, if they will have a job tomorrow, if their money will be in the bank next week, if they will be able to send their children to college or if their retirement funds will be stolen or totally devalued. Those insecurities combined with the spectre of the “Muslim terrorist next door” are a lethal combination that a group of people called demagogues is exploiting to justify an all out war on Muslims.
Those demagogues use the fear of you to prevent people from building the kind of grassroots, popular, movements that are necessary to challenge the corporate rape of our society and from challenging the destructive logic of permanent war. For example, remember the growing movement to challenge the new invasive TSA screening procedures at airports? Did you notice how it disappeared after the would-be mujahid in Portland allowed himself to be trapped into the scheme to blow up the Christmas tree ceremony? Do you think the timing was accidental? It is a shame that you and your ilk are so mindlessly complicit in such schemes.
Now you think the mujahideen can win an all out war against the Americans. Look at what the mujahideen are doing to them in Afghanistan. Sorry, but Afghanistan is not what all out war looks like. I’ll give you a clue what all out war looks like. Remember a couple years ago when the Israelis were bombarding the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Muslims, for all of their courage, couldn’t do anything except appeal to outside powers to stop the carnage? Or a few years before that when Jenin was flattened? Think of the scale of that devastation expanded to encompass all of the major cities of the Muslim world. Imagine America unleashing a new generation of “tactical” nuclear weapons being designed to be used specifically against Muslims targets raining down on Muslim capitals and there is no Muslim strategic deterrent available to stop it. AK-47s and RPGs will be of no avail. Imagine the calls to human rights organizations to stop the slaughter finding no ears to hear them because the neo-fascist forces your stupidity has helped to unleash have swept those organizations away in its maddening torrent.
I have heard you counter that such an argument is a manifestation of a lack of faith. God has promised the believers victory. Indeed, He has. However, it is very pretentious of you to assume that someone who murders women, children and innocents with blazon impunity in the Name of God are the believers that victory has been promised to. He has promised the believers victory, but that promise is not unconditional. God is not going to give victory to people who murder in His Holy Name.
I applaud your courage, but how it manifests itself puzzles me. You have the courage to fly halfway around to world to engage in an armed struggle, but you do not have the courage to knock on your neighbor’s door to explain Islam to him or to give him your take on world affairs. I am also baffled at how you can smile in his face, but are ready to blow him up if he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. What calculus do you use to assume he would not be amenable to your message? What has he done to you to be the target of your bloodlust?
You claim a refined understanding of Islam, so refined that you can make grave decisions concerning life and death, decisions with huge strategic implications –yet you seem to perceive nothing of the divine wisdom of your being in this country. You have an opportunity to be an educator at a time people are looking for a new way. You have an opportunity to be a guide at a time people are looking for a new direction. You have an opportunity to provide a source of spiritual solace at a time people are confused, angry and afraid. You have an opportunity to be a fierce advocate for truth at a time when lies are transforming the image of your religion and the direction of your country. You have the skills, the command of the language, the knowledge of the people to do all of that and more, but you choose to run away from this battle to join one you do not even know who the commander is.
Did I say that? “To join a battle you do not even know who the commander is.” No! I didn’t say that. Do you think that if the FBI can send fake mujahids into mosques all around America to find confused, vulnerable Muslims, develop fake bomb plots, with fake bombs, for very real political objectives, the CIA couldn’t do the same thing abroad? No, wait a minute. Didn’t the CIA build the Afghan mujahideen network? Didn’t what’s his name, Zbigniew Brzezinski, describe the Afghan operation as the CIA’s finest hour?
They would never use fake mujahids, operating through fake websites, to recruit confused and desperate Muslim youth to engage in operations that keep the climate of fear alive, would they? They wouldn’t do that to keep support for bloodsucking, treasury-draining wars alive at a time when there is no money for the poor, the elderly, health-care, education, infrastructure or investment in the green economy. No! It’s preposterous. Those would be psychological operations (psych ops) and that would be cheating. America never cheats, we’re the good guys!
I apologize, I’m tripping. On a serious note, I hope you don’t one day end up feeling as stupid and abused as young Antonio Martinez or Mahomed Osman Mohamud, the Somali kid in Oregon, are probably feeling right now. They have been tricked, deceived, used, and abused by fake mujahids and then thrown in a dungeon to rot for the rest of their lives. Do you think your fate will be any different? Don’t be a fool.
Sincerely,

Imam Zaid Shakir

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This year Ramadan coincides with the first day of school for many families. Realizing that many of our Muslim brothers and sisters do choose the public school system for their kids’ education, this is a resource to help make the best out of Ramadan in public school. This blessed month is such a vital part of being Muslim that enjoying it and sharing it with others, instead of hiding it, goes a long way in maintaining Muslim children’s Islamic identity while attending public school. After the will of Allah, it begins with parental involvement in the lives of their children. You owe it to them.

Elementary School

Send in a letter or email to the school principal and the classroom teacher introducing your family and informing them about Ramadan. This sample letter to your child’s principal includes an offer to come into class and do a presentation on Ramadan.  You can correlate it to the phases of the moon in science especially for first and third graders as it is a part of the curriculum. One year, we did the phases of the moon craft and asked the kids to watch out for the waxing and waning of the moon throughout the month.

To preempt any misunderstanding, meet with the teacher and/or principal and show her your material. For example, the Adam’s World Ramadan DVD is a great resource, so I asked the classroom teacher to preview it beacuse she is more familiar with the school disctrict’s rules; she chose to show the second stanza onwards of thenasheed “We scanned the sky” by Dawud Wharnsby Ali – it was such a hit!! The kids kept asking her to replay it over and over again.

There are several great books on the subject that are perfect for sharing during story-time.

My First Ramadan by Karen Katz – this little book is perfect for preschoolers – 2nd graders and makes a great gift for the class library.  You can mix in a nasheed. It was amazing watching my daughter’s preschool class holding hands in a circle singing along to the chorus of ‘These are the days of Eid.”

Hamza’s First Fast by Asna Chaudhry – I read this book to my daughter’s third grade class, which led to a great discussion where kids of all different faiths talked about how their parents fast too. “Oooh, my mom fasts too, on Lent! Mine fasts to lose weight! We do it too on Yom Kippur” The kids gushed after I finished my presentation. My daughter loved being the center of attention and the discussion was alive for days.

The Three Muslim Festivals is a beautifully illustrated book that has stories of Muslim kids celebrating Ramadan, Eid ul Fitr and Eid ul Adha in a western country. It is a must-have for every Muslim kids’ library, and to educate others, gift it to your school library.

Print out some Ramadan activities for your kid’s classmates to color or crafts that they can make.

Send in Eid gifts – its great dawah. It’s the beginning of the school year; it will break the ice and help your child feel special. Alhamdulillah, the children in our elementary school look forward to being in my kid’s classroom and remember that Zahrah doesn’t celebrate Christmas. They don’t have to be elaborate; pencils, dollar-store toys, chapsticks, ahandmade rendering of their names in Arabic, etc. Attach a tag that says Eid Saeed/Happy Eid.

If your school has a newsletter and the administration wishes the students on their religious holidays then do ask for Muslim holdays to be acknowledged as well.  This little note started the beautiful tradition of wishing Muslim students Happy Eid in our elementary school.

For Middle/Junior High and High School Kids-

Fasting is fardh for most Muslim youth this age. A letter should be sent to the principal, homeroom teacher and especially the P.E. teacher. In this letter, explain your child’s physical and spiritual needs. This sample letter for high school can be adjusted to fit your family.With so many Muslim kids participating in team sports, coachs have to be included in this conversation. They are often concerned out of care and liability issues but a friendly letter or talk can ease their worries.

If your son wants to  follow the example of Muslim atheletes i.e. Hakeem Olajuwon and Husain Abdullah and man up to attending P.E.class, then let them. It is hard being the only guy in class sitting on the sidelines. (My maternal instinct says no way in this 102 degree weather, but  I give this advice based on talks with Muslim teens).

Make sure you make them get up for suhoor – if they are in the pratice of getting up for fajr this should be easy if not, use these tips for waking them up. Have them eat a healthy breakfast, say yes to the smoothies, multi-grain pancakes, oatmeal, and eggs their way. This is not the time to insist on a traditional meal from the home country. Keep them hydrated through the night with a water bottle designated just for your teen at their bedside.

Don’t go back to sleep after fajr – this is a great oppurtunity for family time. Read Quran together. It is one thing to tell your kids “Go read Quran” and quite another to read Quran to each other. They can also study at this time and do homework as well. This frees up the afternoons for dhikr, helping around the house, reading Quran and napping so your teenager is fresh for taraweeh.

Empower your children with information. When they are younger role-play with them so if friends ask them why they are fasting or if they are made fun of, they have some standard answers to give. For high school kids, have honest discussions about Ramadan, its virtues and its spiritual aspects; listen to or watch a lecture together.  They want their whys answered – so talk to them about the psychological aspects, about reflecting on their lives, about cleansing their spirit, about using this time to set up good habits for the rest of the  year.

Ask you teen to go to the library during lunch time or help out a teacher in class. Staying away from the cafeteria helps makes fasting easier.

Urge them to have a good attitude – “If you complain and say I am hungry – that’s just not good dawah and frankly people don’t care or will urge you to eat.” Listening and sharing other Muslim youths’ stories on how they handle Ramadan in school can spark great dialogue between teens, their parents and siblings.

Read the rest here

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Last year, Mr. LF came back from a business trip to Europe puzzled over Swiss grocery stores’ policy of selling the plastic one-use grocery bags. My response was GREAT idea! Finally California is catching on to the idea, the ban has passed the state assembly hope the Senate has the gusto to pass it too. It would prohibit grocery stores from offering plastic bags and would require customers to pay for paper bags by June 2012.

There is a joke about desis; that you can tell if you are a desi (from Southeast Asia) if you reuse grocery bags or the empty yogurt cups.  I guess because we are cheap. Better cheap than a polluter I say. So if they aren’t for FREE anymore, we will definitely reuse them.

This is such an easy way to go green. Imagine how many resources we can save. As Muslims, it is incumbent on us to protect the planet that Allah has given as an Amanah (trust). As Muslim moms, we are the ones who usually buy the groceries for our homes- how hard is it really to make it a priority NOT to use plastic single use bags, paper or plastic.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in the United States alone more than 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year. Worldwide, the number of plastic bags used is anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion every year. Meanwhile, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, as only 0.6 percent to 1 percent of them are ever recycled.

They choked up gutters, suffocated dolphins, accumulate in your drawers. It takes a 1000 years to biodegrade one. The little pieces of plastic act as a sponge for chemicals. They soak up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater (Reusablebags.com).

Marine life then eats these pieces and dies. It is estimated that over a 100,000 different birds, seals and whales die every year (Reusablebags.com). After the animal dies its carcass decomposes and the plastic is free to roam the ocean and kill again.

These days every store sells multiple-use bags for usually a dollar. They last so long, I have some that are a few years old and they still look the same. Just rinse them out from time to time. Otherwise use canvas bags, they are the best. No one will look at you like you are a weirdo any more than they already do.

Ask the clerk NOT to bag things that already come in bags ie. the bag of oranges, onions. And Milk and Juice jugs are easier to carry without a bag-ever had one burst because the bag broke?

It take just a bit of retraining our habits. Keep the bags in your car and return them to the car when you have emptied out the grocery! I have a big insulated bag (free from American Express) I that I keep in the car along with several reusable bags. Most stores even give you a nickel back for every bag you reuse.

plastic vs paper? NEITHER use an insulated reusable grocery bag

Reuseable grocery bags

Sometimes I forget to take the bags ( am so not perfect :P), that is when I ask the clerk to give me paper bags as a last resort. They are not that great (it takes one gallon of water to produce ONE paper bag) but at least it can go in your compost bin and you are much more likely to reuse them. You can make bookcovers, use it as craft paper or wrap a gift. Or if you absolutely must use a plastic bag- please RECYCLE them.

The next step for my house is getting rid of the single-use Glad garbage bags- I have heard of biodegradable/compostable ones  iA

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Do Not Despise The Sinners

By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Translated by Shaykh Yusuf Laher

An original Deoband.org article

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “That person who taunts and ridicules his Muslim brother over a sin from which he has repented, will not die until he himself commits that same sin.” For example, you come to know that a certain person committed or was involved in a particular sin and you also know that this person has repented from it. To think low of him or to taunt or ridicule him because of that sin, by saying something like: “You are the one who was involved in certain evil actions”, is in itself a sin.

Through repentance a person has corrected his relationship with Allah Most High. Through repentance not only has the sin been forgiven, it has also been erased from his book of deeds! Allah Most High has erased it from his book of deeds but you, because of that sin, are thinking low of him and treating him with contempt. You are taunting and ridiculing him. This action is extremely despised by Allah Most High.

This is regarding a person whom you know has repented. If you don’t know whether he has repented or not, then there is always this possibility that he, being a mu’min (believer), has repented or will repent in the future. Therefore, if someone has committed a sin and you do not know whether he has repented or not, you still do not have the right to hold him in contempt. It is possible that he has repented. Remember! Abhorrence should be for the sin and not the sinner! Hatred should be for sins. Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) did not teach us to despise those who sin.

On the other hand, the sinner is worthy of pity and compassion, for this distressed person has been overtaken by a sickness. If a person is overtaken by a physical sickness, do you abhor his sickness or the person who is sick? Does the sick person become the target of your hatred? Obviously, the sick person is not deserving of your hatred. Yes, despise his sickness. Concern yourself with removing his sickness, so make du’a. The sick person should not be the target of hatred. He should be pitied for the reason that this poor person is caught up in a difficulty.

If someone is a kafir (disbeliever) then despise his kufr (disbelief), do not despise him. Make du’a for him that Allah Most High grants him guidance. Amin. How much did the kuffar (disbelievers) not persecute the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)? They shot at him with arrows, they pelted stones at him, and his body bled from various places, but the words that flowed from his mouth were the following: “O Allah! Grant my people guidance, for they do not know the reality” (of this din).

Take note that that he did not despise them because of their kufr, shirk (associating partners with Allah), oppression and transgressions. Rather, while expressing pity and affection, he made du’a for them that ‘O Allah! These people are ignorant. They are unaware of the reality; therefore they are treating me in this manner. O Allah! Grant them guidance’.

So when seeing someone involved in sin, have pity on him and make du’a for him and try to steer him away from sin. Advise and counsel him but do not think low of him. Perhaps Allah accepts his repentance and he surpasses you in the sight of Allah.

I have heard the following words of advice of Hakim al-Ummah Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi from my respected father, Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ and ‘Arif Billah Dr. Abdul Hayy ‘Arifi (may Allah have mercy on them): “I consider every current Muslim and every non Muslim, as far as the future is concerned to be superior to me.” “As far as the future is concerned” means that although the person is presently in the condition of kufr, maybe Allah Most High grants him the tawfiq (guidance) of repenting and he is freed from the burden of kufr. Thereafter, Allah Most High raises his status so high that he surpasses me!

“Every current Muslim” means that a person who is a Muslim, a person of iman (true faith), one whom Allah Most High has granted the wealth of iman. What do I know regarding his connection and status with Allah Most High? Every person’s relationship with Allah Most High is unique. How can we judge anyone? Therefore, I consider every Muslim to be superior to me.

In this statement of Hakim al-Ummah, “I consider every Muslim to be superior to me”, there is obviously no possibility of lies and deception, or that he just said it out of moral courtesy. He said it because he firmly believed it. Anyway, to think low of someone, even though it is due to his committing of sin, is not permissible.

This malady of regarding others with contempt is found mostly in people who have reformed and turned towards din (Islam). They were not concerned with din previously but now have changed and became steadfast on salah and fasting. They have made their dressing and appearance in conformity with the Shari’ah. They have started frequenting the masjid. They have become regular in performing salah with congregation.[1] Satan induces such a person with this thought that you are now on the straight path. These people who are involved in sin are ruined. The result of this thought is that he starts thinking low of them and treats them with contempt. He now starts criticizing them in a hurtful manner. This results in Satan involving such people in vanity, self-regard and pride. When a person suffers from self-regard and pride, all his good actions are destroyed.

When a person’s gaze falls on himself that he is pious and others are bad then he is caught up in vanity. Vanity causes all good actions to become worthless. Only that action is acceptable which is done with sincerity for Allah Most High alone. After performing the action the person makes shukr (gives thanks) unto Allah Most High that He granted me the tawfiq to perform this action (if He did not grant me the tawfiq, I would never have been able to carry out this action).

Therefore, do not treat anyone with contempt. Do not think low of any non-Muslim or any sinner.

It is mentioned in a hadith that when seeing a person afflicted with any sickness, recite the following du’a:

اَلْحَمْدُ للهِ الَّذِىْ عَافَانِىْ مِمَّا ابْتَلاَكَ بِه وَ فَضَّلَنِىْ عَلَى كَثِيْرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقَ تِفْضِيْلاً

All praises are due unto Allah, who has granted me safety from that which he has afflicted you with, and granted me well-being over many of the creation. (Al-Hisn al-Hasin, p.349)

It is sunnah to recite this du’a when seeing an afflicted person. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us this (Note: it should be recited softly lest the afflicted person is offended).

Shaykh Dr. Abdul Hayy ‘Arifi (may Allah have mercy on him) used to say: “Whenever I pass by a hospital, then, praises be to Allah, I always recite this du’a.” He would also make du’a that Allah grants the sick good health.

One of my teachers used to say that Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us to recite this du’a when seeing a sick person, but I also recite it when seeing someone involved in sin. Sometimes when walking on the road I see people lined up at the cinema houses purchasing tickets. I recite this du’a on seeing them. Then I make shukr unto Allah Most High that He has saved me from this sin.

The reason for reciting this du’a when seeing a person involved in sin is that just as a physically sick person is worthy of pity, so is the sinner worthy of pity and sympathy, for he is also caught up in a predicament. Also, make du’a for him that: “O Allah! Remove this difficulty from him.”

It should be known that those who are presently involved in sin and you consider them low and worthy of contempt may later on receive the tawfiq of repentance and surpass you! So for what reason are you boasting? If you have been granted the tawfiq of abstaining from sin then make shukr unto Allah Most High. If they haven’t as yet received the tawfiq, then make du’a for them that Allah Most High grants them guidance and grants them relief from their afflictions. Amin.

Anyway, despise kufr, despise sin and transgression, but do not despise the person. In fact, you should treat him with love and kindness. When you speak to him, speak with softness and affection. Speak with feeling and love so that it may have a good effect on him. This was always the method of all our pious elders.

I heard this story of Hadrat Junayd al-Baghdadi (may Allah have mercy on him) from my respected father Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ (may Allah have mercy on him). While passing a certain place, Hadrat Junayd saw a person hanging from the gallows, whose hands and one leg was amputated. He inquired from the people regarding this person. The people informed him that this person was a habitual thief. His hand was cut when he was caught the first time. His leg was cut when caught the second time. Now on the third occasion he has been hanged. Hadrat Junayd went forward and kissed the dead man’s foot.  People said to him: “This man was such a big and habitual thief, and you kissed his feet?” He replied: “Although he had committed such a big crime and sin for which he has been punished, but he had a wonderful quality in him, and that is steadfastness (istiqamah). Although he used this quality in a wrong way, however, he remained steadfast on the manner of his chosen occupation. His hand was amputated but he never left his choice. His leg was amputated yet he remained steadfast on theft. His other hand was amputated and still he did not give up his occupation. He remained steadfast on theft until finally his life has been taken. It is now apparent that he had the quality of steadfastness in him and I kissed his foot because of this quality.” May Allah Most High grant us this quality in our worship and obedience unto Him. Amin.

Anyway, the pious servants of Allah do not despise people but despise the evils perpetrated by them. They (the pious) go to the extent of saying that if an evil person has any good qualities in him then those good qualities should be striven for! Concern yourself with trying to remove the bad qualities in a person by speaking to him with love and affection. Speak only to him and do not speak to others about him.

It is mentioned in a hadith: “A believer (mu’min) is a mirror to another believer” (Abu Dawud). If a person has a spot on his face and stands in front of a mirror, the mirror will reflect that spot on his face. The mirror is showing him his defects. In the same way, a believer is also a mirror to another believer. When a believer sees another with a defect, he should inform him with love and affection that you have this certain weakness in you, remove it.

It is just like when a person has a worm or any insect crawling on him, then out of concern you inform him that there is an insect crawling on him, so remove it. Similarly, if a Muslim brother has a dini defect in him, then with love and affection, inform him that he has this defect in him, because a believer is a mirror to another believer.

Mawlana Ashraf ‘Ali Thanawi says that this hadith teaches us that when you see a fault in another person, then inform only that person of this fault, do not tell it to others. The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) compared a believer to a mirror. The mirror only exposes the spot on the face to the person standing in front of it and not to others. Thus, the duty of a believer is to inform the person involved that he has a certain weakness in him and not to inform others of his weakness. If a person also tells others then it implies that he has acted upon his own evil desires and this will not be an act of din anymore. If he only informs and advises the afflicted person with love and concern, then this is what iman (true faith) and brotherhood demands. But to despise or think low of him is not permissible under any circumstance.

May Allah Most High grant us the understanding and the guidance to practice on this. Amin.

Obviously this is not always the case. There are those among the reformed who are not like this. Also, there are those who have always been regular on their din but suffer from this malady. The respected author is saying that this malady is mostly found in such people, but not always. (Translator) ↩

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Its been more than two month since we switched off the cable- but we still have the basic channels, like PBS and ABC. To be honest I miss my favorite shows on Food Network and Home & Garden TV but do not regret turning it off for a second.  People are getting all worked up about some out of control satellite killing their cable, it was on the radio this morning and then I read this on the LA Daily News:

A TV communications satellite is drifting out of control thousands of miles above the Earth, threatening to wander into another satellite’s orbit and interfere with cable programming across the United States, the satellites’ owners said Tuesday. Communications company Intelsat said it lost control of the Galaxy 15 satellite on April 5, possibly because the satellite’s systems were knocked out by a solar storm.

If this does happen around May 28th as predicted, please take the opportunity to kick the cable. I grew up in Khartoum, Sudan. There was no TV, except a poor excuse for a local channel that played old ABBA songs and grainy ‘iftah ya Simsim’ the Arabic version of Sesame Street.  My siblings and I spent many lazy afternoons biking, making zip lines and reading Enid Blyton. We baked mud pies and jumped over walls into our neighbors’ yards to catch our rabbits.  Treasure hunts and impromptu plays ruled the bougainvillea-covered house on 33rd Street.

If you ask my kids, their memories revolve around cartoon characters or Disney princesses. I have to prompt them to talk about vacations or fun trips, which they enjoy but come second to the GREAT TV moments. I am jealous.

We were totally TV free (except for some pre screened DVDs) for at least 6 years after my daughter was born.  Then one day, Mr LF sign up for three months of free cable, thinking we would turn it off after the offer expired.  I was away visiting my parents during summer break. So three years went by and we never shut it off.  It is depressing to see the look of total absorption when the kids are watching and 1/2 an hour turns into two and soon the whole afternoon is gone.

I lived in constant fear of inappropriate ads and uncensored language. They would wake up in the morning and switch it on and would want to watch something before being tucked into bed. It wasn’t that they were watching too much by ‘normal’ standards. I was following most of the tips suggested by parenting websites. The incessant asking for more and the whining was out of control and I felt it in every part of my soul. I was sick of saying NO no more, turn it off- Listen to ME- they were wearing me down.

I threatened to have the cable turned off and when the words came out of my mouth, I realized if I didn’t go through with it they would never take me seriously. It was my moment of truth.

So far the biggest change is in LF#4. Since he can’t watch his favorite shows ie. Diego he doesn’t want to watch TV. He is no longer throwing hissy fits when we turn off the telly; his tantrums one of the major reasons I ‘pulled the plug’.

It is amazing how he knows that those shows are no longer available and so he is stopped asking for them.  I let him watch one or two ‘educational’ cartoons. He wants to play with blocks and his train set. I am working on going 100% TV free, please pray for me.

If you need more info check out this e-book the Awful truth about TV.

Trashyourtv.com has some great info as does this great website filled with articles and resources to help you make the decision of turning of your TV.

Unplug your kids has great alternative activities for TV free kids as does this site. For a Muslim perspective read Brother Khalid Baig’s article and this kutbah by Brother Shareef on TV-The Third Parent.

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Calligraphy of the Declaration of Faith

Teaching the articles of faith, Iman e mufassil to the kids? Have them listen to this beautiful nasheed by Talib Habib.  It will help them learn it easily when sung to this tune. My kids love to hum this rendition of the declaration of faith.

Listen to Articles of Faith

You can buy the album Songs of Innocence and help this brother.

The Lyrics to the Nasheed Articles of Faith

Amantu billahi wa mala’ikatihi
wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wa al-yaum al-akhiri
wa al-qadri khayrihi wa sharrihi min Allah
wa al-ba’si ba`d al-maut, la ilaha illa AllahFaith is belief in Allah and the Messengers
The angels and the Final Day, and the holy scriptures
And to believe in destiny
That good and bad both come from Him
And the Resurrection; there is no god but Allah.La ilaha illa Allah (x3), Muhammad Rasulullah

Allah is the creator of heaven and of earth
Nothing may compare with Him, He is the One alone
The prophets, best of humankind
Sent to all nations and all tribes
Last of all Muhammad, mercy to the worlds.

Formed of light and beauty, the angels of the Lord
To praise Allah, to help mankind,
Jibril brings the word.
The scriptures, all by Allah sent,
Torah, Psalms and Gospel then
The source of perfect guidance, the Glorious Quran.

The reckoning, the Final Day, when all will see their works
Remade in soul and body to stand before the Lord
With patience bearing every grief
With thankfulness for all blessings
We are content with destiny, the Will of Allah.

Faith is belief in Allah and the Messengers
The angels and the Final Day, and the holy scriptures
And to believe in destiny
That good and bad both come from Him
And the Resurrection; there is no god but Allah.

This is for educational purposes only- this is the property and copyrighted by  Brother Talib ul Habib.

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