Checklist – The Last Ten Nights and Days of Ramadan…

In this blessed month of Ramadan, we have now come to the grand finale – the last ten days of Ramadan that are even more blessed than the rest of Ramadan. In it is a night that Quran tells us is better than 1000 months (yes, months – not days).

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month which Allah has enjoined you to fast, during which the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the rebellious devils are chained up. In it there is a night which is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.” Narrated by al-Nasa’i, 2106; Ahmad, 8769. classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 999.

So, in preparation for the grand finale, here is a checklist of some of the things that we can all do to make the remaining days of Ramadan work to our advantage –

khushoo prayers

1) Get in high gear for the next 10 nights and days –

Time is of the essence. Every moment counts. Whatever you need to do for the next ten days to make the most in Ibada, good deeds, reciting Quran, dhikr, making dua, etc., rewards are going to be multiplied. No one knew about the importance of these days more than the prophet (saws). Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from ‘Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that when the last ten days of Ramadan began, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and tie his lower garment tight. According to Ahmad and Muslim: he would strive hard in worship during the last ten nights of Ramadan as he did not do at other times.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Hurayrah said “When Ramadan would come, the Messenger of Allah would say,

Verily, the month of Ramadan has come to you all. It is a blessed month, which Allah has obligated you all to fast. During it the gates of Paradise are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled. In it there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good, then he has truly been deprived.)” An-Nasa’i recorded this same Hadith.

If we lose this opportunity, we get our next opportunity next year – assuming we are still around and are in good health and shape to make use of it. Even if we are – we have the past years’ sins on our shoulders and life’s normal trials and tribulations to face the coming year. So, there is no better time to ask Allah to make all that easier than NOW.

2) Get a Quran and recite as often as you can –

A few lines on this post can’t even come close to explaining the benefits and virtues of Quran. It is proven in the saheeh Sunnah that the Quran will intercede for those who read it at night, as Ahmad (6626) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Fasting and the Quran will intercede for a person on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say, ‘O Lord, I deprived him of his food and his desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.’ And the Quran will say: ‘I deprived him of his sleep at night so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will intercede.” Narrated by Ahmad; classed as saheeh by al-Albani in Saheeh al-Jami’, no. 3882.

Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said,

The example of a believer who recites the Qur’an is that of a citron (a citrus fruit) which is good in taste and good in smell. And the believer who does not recite the quran is like a date which has a good taste but no smell. And the example of an impious person who recites the Qur’an is that of Ar-Rihana (an aromatic plant) which smells good but is bitter in taste. And the example of an impious person who does not recite the quran is that of a colocynth which is bitter in taste and has no smell.” (Book #93, Hadith # 649)

As is stated in the hadeeth narrated by ‘Abd-Allah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with them both), in which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Whoever recites ten aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will not be recorded as one of the forgetful. Whoever recites a hundred aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the devout, and whoever prays a thousand aayaat (verses) in qiyaam will be recorded as one of the muqantareen (those who pile up good deeds).” (Reported by Abu Dawood and Ibn Hibbaan. It is a hasan report. Saheeh al-Targheeb, 635).

3) If your sins are holding you to move forward, this is the time to get them forgiven –

First the bad news – In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Thawbaan said: The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said:

A man is deprived of provision (Rizq) because of the sins that he commits.’” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4022, classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah).

And now for the good news

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Whoever spends the night of Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and in the hope of reward, will be forgiven his previous sins.”

4) What to say on Laylat al-Qadr –

One of the best dua’s that can be recited on Laylat al-Qadr is that which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her). It was narrated by al-Tirmidhi, who classed it as saheeh, that ‘A’ishah said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah, If I know which night is Laylat al-Qadr, what should I say?” He said: “Say: Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibb al-‘afwa fa’fu ‘anni (O Allah, You are All-Forgiving and You love forgiveness so forgive me).”

5) Get in the class of the Pious People –

Allah has described the pious as follows (interpretation of the meaning):

They used to sleep but little by night (invoking their Lord (Allah) and praying, with fear and hope). [Quran: Surah Adh-Dhariyat (17)]

And in the hours before dawn, they were (found) asking (Allah) for forgiveness, [Quran: Surah Adh-Dhariyat (18)]

6) Finally……

Think of all that you need to ask Allah for and ask Him now. If you haven’t before, this is the time to connect with Him and feel closer to Him. And when you do during these last ten nights and days of this Ramadan, you would want to do this again and again – even after the month is over.

And finally, when you are in a state of prayers and worship, please open your heart for others as well and please do remember your brothers and sisters in your prayers. Remember what the Prophet said:

“The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.” Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi

May we all make the most of the last ten nights and days of Ramadan…

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A Ramadan 2016 Message – A Time for Reflection

Ramadan is here again providing us the opportunity to reach out to Allah more than ever and ask for His forgiveness and blessings. As Allah has singled out this month more so than others for showering His blessings and mercy, it is only prudent that we also use the opportunity to reassess our conditions, our purpose and direction in life, and accordingly make appropriate changes in line with His commands.

This Ramadan, as we look at the state of Muslims around the world in general, we see that Muslim suffering has reached levels it has never reached in living memory. In many affected communities and countries, Muslims are being subjected to torture, killings, persecution, and all forms of unimaginable suffering. With every passing day, their plight does not seem to be getting any better. Images of families with shattered homes, dead children, and faces traumatized from the horrors of rape, hunger, and persecution are plastered throughout the media channels. As Muslims, one cannot stop but wonder whether we are being punished for our doings or if it is a test of our faiths. We also ask if something can be done not only to alleviate the current sufferings but also to ensure that it does not spread to engulf other Muslim communities.

This Ramadan we ought to pause and reflect upon this condition of the people that share our faith.

We know both from Quran and Hadith that in times of hardship we should persevere with patience, prayers, and Dua. But it is also prudent that we inquire whether our miserable situations are also due to our conduct unbecoming of a Muslim. Such a conduct obviously tends to keep us preoccupied with the attractions of this world distracting us in turn from Allah’s remembrance and subservience. It then should come as no surprise to us that when we turn a blind eye to the divine truths and warnings, we forfeit His blessings and mercy and pay a price both in this world and the hereafter.

Relearn the Message of Quran

Let us then refocus at this Ramadan and read and listen a bit more attentively to those divine truths that Allah tells us in the Quran. With added devotion and dedication, we will be able to hear and understand the Quran’s verses and Allah’s wisdom in those direct messages to us. That will surely pave the way toward our transformation and open up Allah’s gates for His mercy, forgiveness, and kindness, which we need so desperately to be successful in this life and the hereafter. As we ponder over those messages, we will also relearn what is really good for us and that will enable us to reprioritize accordingly. Those messages will also remind us that a soul that is forgiven and less burdened with sins can bring more benefit to us than the one burdened with materialistic gains of this life. As Allah tells us in the Quran,

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‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.’ (Surah Younus, 58.)

Relearning and internalizing what’s good for us will also provide us with the spiritual fuel that we need to motivate ourselves to do more good and to bring the Quran into our lives rather than merely paying lip service to its messages and referring to them as if they were superficial maxims. After all, unless we truly understand what is good for us and how that relates to the truth, our purpose in life, and our lives in general, how else can we get spiritually motivated?

Our salaf (righteous followers of the prophet) clearly understood and internalized those divine truths and their behaviors clearly reflected that understanding. Imam Ahmad records Abu Dardaa as saying: “If only you knew what you will certainly see upon your death, you would never eat again a single bite out of a craving appetite, and you would never again drink an extra sip of water for the pleasure of unquenchable and insatiable thirst.”

Cleanse Our Lives of Sinful Behaviors

This Ramadan also provides us the opportunity to pause and pay heed to those hidden sinful behaviors that may have crept into our lifestyles. For many of us, despite our indulgence in those sins, Allah has given us the respite to wake up and change course. Let us not forget that Allah has told us in the Quran the following:

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“And if Allah were to seize mankind for their wrong-doing, He would not leave on it (the earth) a single moving (living) creature, but He postpones them for an appointed term and when their term comes, neither can they delay nor can they advance it an hour (or a moment).” Surah An-Nahl (16:128).

So, let not the comforts of our lives fool us into assuming Allah’s acceptance of our sinful conduct. Instead, we should utilize our peaceful times and act with a sense of urgency by reforming our behaviors and turning to Him in sincere repentance lest the time comes unexpectedly and we are held accountable for our actions both in this life and the hereafter by getting burdened with hardships.

Let us also remind ourselves that Allah has warned us that Satan who lurks in the shadows is our worst enemy and is committed to detract us from Allah and His message by making this life appear as an end all for our pursuits. Let us reflect, ponder and become more aware of how Satan tricks us into rationalizing our actions of bringing haram into our lives and by pushing us to compromise our values and ideals.

Worship Allah the Way He wants to be Worshipped

Let us use this month to manifest our faith by worshipping Allah the way He wants us to worship Him. We know from the Quran as well as prophet (s.a.w.s)’s traditions about the need to exert ourselves more – both physically and spiritually – to manifest that faith. We know that in this month the prophet (s) besides fasting during the day, prayed for longer hours at night, exerted more in Allah’s dhikr and remembrance, humbled himself in front of His Creator, and performed in a way that showed His love and fear of Allah and special reverence for this month. This Ramadan we, too, need to take the minutes and the hours from our schedules to exert more in that worship so it can also help train us to do so during other months.

Correct the Lies About Islam

This Ramadan let us also remind ourselves of the harsh reality that we live in a world infested with misinterpreted truths about Islam that are essentially just lies. Some of these lies have come about by the evil intentions of some and others have taken hold due to our inability to show the truth to others. Whether we have not taken the initiative to correct those misconceptions because we lack enough knowledge or because we choose to keep hiding in the shadows so as not to be “controversial”, we must realize that as Muslims we have a duty to correct those misconceptions. We can blame the evil mongers for spreading the lies but we are to be blamed for letting those lies lurk unchallenged. Once we strive to correct those misconceptions by educating ourselves more and by being bold, we will also learn the shortcomings in our behaviors, providing us with the opportunity to correct and improve ourselves.

Make Dua for Others’ Suffering

Going back to the suffering of the millions, let us do what we can this Ramadan to provide them whatever help we can to alleviate their suffering. At a minimum, we should make sincere Duas for the souls that are undergoing such trials. The prophet (s) had told us in a hadith that “The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.” (Reported by Abu Daw’ud and Tirmidhi.)

Finally, let us ensure that we do not let this month go by without asking profusely for His mercy and forgiveness because if we received even a portion of that, it would be better than all that we accumulate in this world. To review the verse again, Allah says:

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‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Surah Younus, 58.)

Let us pray that Allah gives us the ability to do what He pleases and may He accept our worship and good deeds in Ramadan!iq-ramadan image

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Ramadan Taraweeh – Sheikh Juhany in Haram Mosque in Makkah

Taraweeh that was led by Sheikh Juhni for the first night in Makkah in the Haram mosque for 2013 Ramadan.

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Dua that Saved Prophet Ibrahim from the Fire (and hardship)

When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was relaying Allah’s (God’s) message, he warned his people not to take idols made of wood and stones as their false gods. To make his point that these idols could not help them in anyway, one day while the people were attending a festival, he broke their idols. The Quran relays this story in the following verses:

“So he broke them to pieces, (all) except the biggest of them, that they might turn to it”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa 21:58]

Once the people returned from the festival, they saw the broken idols and they accused Prophet Ibrahim (of breaking them). He said to them:

“Nay, this one, the biggest of them (idols) did it. Ask them, if they can speak!”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa 21:63]

Because they knew that these idols could not speak, they said to Ibrahim:

“Indeed you [Ibrahim (Abraham)] know well that these (idols) speak not!”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa’ 21:65]

When they admitted that these idols could do nothing, Ibrahim said to them:

“Do you then worship (these idols) besides Allah, things that can neither profit you, nor harm you? Fie upon you, and upon that which you worship besides Allah! Have you then no sense?”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa’ 21:67]

When they had exhausted all lines of argument, they resorted to the use of force and said:

“Burn him and help your aalihah (gods), if you will be doing”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa’ 21:68]

They therefore decided to burn him in a great fire and called the masses to witness the event. Then they threw Ibrahim (peace be upon him) into that fire.

He said,

“Hasbi Allah wa ni’am al-wakeel (Allah is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs).”

dua tough situations

So Allah saved him from it and made it coolness and safety for him, and foiled the plot of his enemies.

The Quran mentions this in the following verse:

“We (Allah) said: ‘O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim (Abraham)!’
And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers”
[Surah al-Anbiyaa 21:69-70]

 

This Dua, therefore, can be recited in times of hardship and challenges. This Dua appears in the following verse of Surah Aal-e-Imran and was revealed on Prophet Muhammad (SAW) when his enemies had gathered around him. Abu Bakr Ibn Marduwyah recorded that Anas bin Malik said that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wassallam was told on the day of Uhud, “Verily, the people have gathered against you, therefore, fear them.” Thereafter, Allah sent down this Ayah 3:173.

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“Those (i.e. believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said, “Verily, the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in Faith, and they said: “Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”

[Surah Aal-e-Imran 3:173]

 

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Benefits and Blessings of Performing Sujood or Sajdah (Prostration to Allah)

Prostration to Allah, referred to as Sajda (or Sujood) is an important part of a Muslim’s prayers. A Sajda to Allah reflects humility and Khushu that is in one’s heart. Both the Quran and Hadith have highlighted the numerous blessings associated with the act of Sajda (prostration). More importantly, Sajda provides the Muslim with an opportunity to get closer and nearer to his (or her) Creator and Lord.

Rabie bin Ka’b was one of the prominent companions of the Prophet (S). As is narrated in Sahih Muslim, he said that one night while he was with the Prophet (S), the Prophet (S) asked him to bring water for him. Rabie brought him some water and whatever else the Prophet (S) had asked to bring. On this, the Prophet (S) became pleased with him and offered Rabie to ask for anything that he liked. After contemplating the offer, Rabie told the Prophet (S) that he wanted the Prophet’s companionship in Jannah (Paradise). The Prophet became amazed at this and became silent, after which he asked Rabie again if he wanted anything else. Rabie responded by saying that that was all he wanted. On this the Prophet (S) advised him to devote himself to a lot of Sujood so that it may facilitate his path to Paradise to join the company of the Prophet (S).

This, therefore, is an indication to Muslims to stay steadfast on their obligatory prayers and increase their optional prayers (and hence the Sujood that are part of them.)

Many other hadith of the Prophet (S) also tell us of the benefits and blessings of performing Sujood. Here are some of them.

The prophet (S) reminded us that the slave of Allah is closest to Him when the person is in a state of Sujood. That, therefore, is an excellent opportunity to make a lot of Dua to Allah. According to the hadith, he said:

sajdah prostration Allah

“The nearest a salve of Allah is to his Rabb (Lord) is in the state of Sujood (Prostration) so increase the Dua (that you make to Allah).” (Sahih Muslim)


 

The Prophet (S) also reminded us that whoever humbles himself or herself in front of Allah, Allah will raise his status. The Prophet (S) said:

Allah gives respect

“Whoever humbles himself in front of Allah, He will raise him (in status and rewards).” (Sahih Muslim and Tabarani)

 


 

The Prophet (S) also said:

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“Perform Sujood much because there is no Muslim that prostrates (perform Sajdah) to Allah except that Allah raises him one degree (in Jannah (Paradise) by it and forgives for him a sin.)” (Hadith by Ahmad)


Allah says in the Quran:

sujood Allah

Nay! (O Muhammad (S))! Do not obey him (referring to Abu Jahl). Fall prostrate and draw near to Allah! (Quran, Surah 96:19).


Another verse of the Quran says:

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“… You see them bowing and falling down prostrate (in prayer), seeking Bounty from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure. The mark of them (i.e. of their Faith) is on their faces (foreheads) from the traces of prostration (during prayers)….” (Surah Al-Fath, 48:29)

Scholars such as Mujahid state that the mark refers to that of Khushoo (humility) rather than a physical mark. In this context, the Prophet (S) had said,

“My nation (ummah) on that day (the Judgement Day) will surely have bright faces because of sujood (that they would have performed), and bright arms and feet because of wudu (ablution).” (Hadith of Ahmad)


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When in Sujood (in a state of prayers), one should make a lot of Dua. However, making Sujood outside prayers solely for the sake of making a Dua is not recommended (Ref). This is because many hadith point to the Prophet’s actions (and encouragement) of raising ones hands when making Dua.

Outside the regular prayers, the Prophet’s hadith taught us to perform Sujood in the following states:

  • Sajdat Al-Tilawah (Sajdah during recitation) – This refers to the Sajdah that a person performs when reciting some special verses (as marked in the Quran).
  • Sajdat Al-Shukr (Prostration of Thankfulness) – This refers to the prostration when a person performs in gratitude and in thanking Allah. The Prophet (S) performed this Sajdah at numerous occasions when he received any good news. Similarly, the companions of the Prophet (S) did the same.

Also, according to hadith of the Prophet (S), one is not allowed to recite any part of the Quran in a state of Sujood. Rather, the prophet (S) encouraged the recitation of certain Azkar (mentioned below) and to strive in Dua. (Sahih Muslim 479). In another hadith in Sahih Muslim (480), Ali ibn Abi Talib mentioned that the Prophet forbade him to recite the Quran verses in a state of prostration. However, many scholars agree that it’s permissible to recite those verses of the Quran that have a Dua in them. So, the intent there is that of making a Dua and not reciting Quran (Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah, 6/443).

 

Supplications for Sujood

The following are the two prayers that one can say in a state of Sujood (prostration):

prostration to Allah

Allaahumma laka sajadtu wa bika aamantu wa laka aslamtu wa anta rabbi, sajada wajhi lilladhi khalaqahu wa sawwarahu wa shaqqa sam’ahu wa basarahu, tabaarak Allaahu ahsan al-khaaliqeen (O Allaah, unto You I have prostrated and in You I have believed, and unto You I have submitted and You are my Lord. My face has prostrated before Him Who created it and fashioned it, and brought forth its faculties of hearing and seeing by His Might and Power. Blessed is Allah, the Best of creators). ‘Jami’ al-Tirmidhi [Narrated by ‘Abdul ‘Aziz bin Abi Salma b. ‘Ubaidulla]. Also, this was narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh, 1290

sujood azkar

Subhaana Rabbiy al-A’laa (Glory be to my Lord Most High)

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Islamic Beliefs on Afterlife: Questions asked after a person’s death

According to Islamic beliefs, a person will be held accountable for all his deeds after the person moves on to the next life. According to hadith, the following are first of the many questions that a person will be asked. LIFE-AFTER-death

 

First Stage of questioning (In the Grave)

A person’s first stage of reckoning will be in the grave where he will be asked three questions. Allah will help reinforce the person’s answers based on his deeds in this world. The three questions are the following:

  • Who was your Lord?
  • What is your religion?
  • Who is this man who was sent amongst you? (referring to Prophet Muhammad (S))

[Based on the hadith Narrated by al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (may Allaah be pleased with him), which was narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan (4753) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 2979.]

Second Stage of questioning (On the Day of Resurrection)

The second stage of the person’s reckoning will be on the Day of Resurrection when he will be brought to account for every major and minor action, even though he has already been brought to account for that in the grave. The first thing for which he will be brought to account for then will be his prayer.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The first thing among their deeds for which the people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be prayer. Our Lord will say to His angels, although He knows best, ‘Look at My slave’s prayer, is it complete or lacking?’ If it is complete, it will be recorded as complete, but if it is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether my slave did any voluntary (naafil) prayers.’ If he had done voluntary prayers, He will say, ‘Complete the obligatory prayers of My slave from his voluntary prayers.’ Then the rest of his deeds will be examined in a similar manner.”
(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 864; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 770).

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