Ramadaan 2016: Get into the spirit

Masjid Al-Aqsa - seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Masjid Al-Aqsa – seen through festive Ramadan lights (2009 – AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

With Ramadan almost here, it’s a good time (even if a bit late) to start planning how we’ll spend the month. In the video below, brother Nouman Ali Khan gives some critical advice for preparing. Even if you’re not able to follow it all, try to implement some of it.

Also on the topic, here are some other resources that might help:

  • The Ramadan Planner: MS Word template to help you plan your Ramadan.
  • The Ramadan Early Bird series: An in-depth planning series that helps you to gradually improve various aspects of your life – with Ramadan in mind.
  • The Fasting and the Furious: A lecture by Sh. Muhammad Al-Shareef focussing on having a consistent Ramadan – especially avoiding the middle of the month dip.

If you have any other resources that would benefit myself or others, please feel free to post them in the comments section.

May this final week of Sha’baan bring us maximum benefit, and help us to build enough momentum to kick start our Ramadan and take the most out of it.

Vicissitudes of life

chill.jpg

It’s been a challenging period of late, with illness, stress, and the burdens of life weighing heavily on me. I’m not complaining, though, because my struggles are miniscule in comparison to millions of others on this planet. People who suffer and persevere through the most cruel of circumstances, day after day.

As a resident on this planet – in this world – one should be very aware that trials will come your way. They are a part of life and should be expected at any time – regardless of how physically, mentally, or emotionally comfortable you are. And your job is to take each challenge and do the best you can with it. Recognise that what is put in your path is no accident – no mere matter of misfortune – but in fact a deliberate and calculated event, designed just for you, and given to you by the One Who controls all things.

When you can recognise the tests…when you approach challenges with that mindset, it becomes easier to be patient. It becomes a little easier to persevere through the difficulty. You know that there’s purpose to this occurrence…even if you don’t immediately recognise what that purpose is. And you know that if you keep calm and navigate your way through this, as best you can, you’ll come out better for it. You’ll come out stronger.

Getting to that mindset, however, is a challenge in itself if you are living well – carefree and without difficulties. It’s similar to remembering death. We all know that it’s highly virtuous – and beneficial – to remember death often, yet how often do we actually do this? How many of us actually live our lives with our impending death constantly in our minds? Or is it only when someone else departs, or is critically ill, that the reality sinks in?

But even then, the remembrance is temporary – short-lived – because we get back to ‘normal’ and are once more in our default state of heedlessness.

Living in an age of luxury and affluence only deepens this internal crisis, because we are so distracted from the reality of life.

I recall the story of a wise man, centuries ago, who dug himself a grave right next to his bed. And each night, before retiring, he would go and lay in it for a while, to remind himself of his future home. The home that – although temporary – is still far more long-lasting than the time we’ll spend alive on Earth.

None of us would go that far in today’s times; nor would we want such a stark and close reminder.

But maybe it’s just what we need to help us throw off the shackles of heedlessness that keep growing and tying us down, over and over, as we navigate through these minutes…days…years of our lives.

Regardless, though, whatever your struggles are on this day, I pray that you are blessed with the right mindset and the necessary patience and strength to see it through, and come out of it better and wiser…until the next challenge arises.

Of refugees having it easy…

Note: This was not written by me, but I found it too powerful to not share. Original writer is Faz Ali (who I know nothing about).


You’re 29 years old with a wife, two children and a job. You have enough money, and can afford a few nice things, and you live in a small house in the city.
Suddenly the political situation in your country changes and a few months later soldiers are gathered in front of your house. And in front of your neighbours’ houses.
They say that if you don’t fight for them, they will shoot you.
Your neighbour refuses.
One shot. That’s it.

You overhear one of the soldiers telling your wife to spread her legs.
Somehow you get rid of the soldiers and spend the night deep in thought.
Suddenly you hear an explosion. Your house no longer has a living room.
You run outside and see that the whole street is destroyed.
Nothing is left standing.

You take your family back into the house, and then you run to your parents’ house.
It is no longer there. Nor are your parents.
You look around and find an arm with your Mother’s ring on its finger. You can’t find any other sign of your parents.

~~~~~

“But asylum seekers have so many luxury goods! Smartphones, and designer clothes!”

~~~~~

You immediately forget it. You rush home, and tell your wife to get the children dressed. You grab a small bag, because anything bigger will be impossible to carry for a long time, and in it you pack essentials. Only 2 pieces of clothing each can fit in the bag.
What do you take?
You will probably never see your home country again.
Not your family, not your neighbours, your workmates…
But how can you stay in contact?

You hastily throw your smartphone and the charger in the bag.
Along with the few clothes, some bread and your small daughters favourite teddy.

~~~~~

“They can easily afford to get away. They aren’t poor!”

~~~~~

Because you could see the emergency coming, you have already scraped all your money together.
You managed to save some money because of your well paid job.
The kind people smuggler in the neighbourhood charges 5,000 euros per person.

You have 15,000 euros. With a bit of luck, you’ll all be able to go. If not, you will have to let your wife go.
You love her and pray that you the smugglers will take you all.
By now you are totally wiped out and have nothing else. Just your family and the bag.
The journey to the border takes two weeks on foot.

You are hungry and for the last week have barely eaten. You are weak, as is your wife. But at least the children have enough.
They have cried for the whole 2 weeks.
Half the time you have to carry your younger daughter. She is only 21 months old.
A further 2 weeks and you arrive at the sea.

In the middle of the night you’re loaded onto a ship with other refugees.
You are lucky: your whole family can travel.
The ship is so full that it threatens to capsize. You pray that you don’t drown.
The people around you are crying and screaming.
A few small children have died of thirst.
The smugglers throw them overboard.
Your wife sits, vacantly, in a corner. She hasn’t had anything to drink for 2 days.
When the coast is in sight, you are loaded onto small boats.
Your wife and the younger child are on one, you and your older child are on another.

You are warned to stay silent so that nobody knows you’re there.
Your older daughter understands.
But your younger one in the other boat doesn’t. She doesn’t stop crying.
The other refugees are getting nervous. They demand that your wife keeps the child quiet.
She doesn’t manage it.
One of the men grabs your daughter, rips her away from your wife and throws her overboard.
You jump in after her, but you can’t find her again.
Never again.
In 3 months she would have turned 2 years old.
Isn’t that enough for you? They still have it too good here and have everything handed to them on a plate?

You don’t know how you, your wife and your older daughter manage to get to the country that takes you in.
It’s as though everything is all foggy. Your wife hasn’t spoken a word since your daughter died.
Your older daughter hasn’t let go of her sister’s teddy and is totally apathetic.
But you have to keep going. You are just about to arrive at the emergency accommodation.
It is 10pm. A man whose language you don’t understand takes you to a hall with camp beds. There are 500 beds all very close together.

In the hall it’s stuffy and loud.
You try to get your bearings. To understand what the people there want from you.
But in reality you can barely stand up. You nearly wish that they had shot you.
Instead you unpack your meagre possessions:
Two items of clothing each and your smartphone.
Then you spend your first night in a safe country.
The next morning you’re given some clothes.
Among the donated clothes are even branded ‘label’ clothes. And a toy for your daughter.
You are given 140 euros. For the whole month.

~~~~~

“They’re safe here. Therefore they should be happy!”

~~~~~

Outside in the yard, dressed in your new clothes, you hold your smartphone high in the air and hope to have some reception.
You need to know if anyone from your city is still alive.
Then a ‘concerned citizen‘ comes by and abuses you.
You don’t know why. You don’t understand “Go back to your own country!”
You understand some things like “smartphone” and “handed everything on a plate.”
Somebody translates it for you.

~~~~~

And now tell me how you feel and what you own?
The answer to both parts of that is “Nothing.”


 

Syria