Making Gatherings Meaningful in Ramadan

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We are reminded all the time that Ramadan is a month like no other… and therefore, should not be treated like a normal month. It’s hours, minutes and seconds are precious… and yet, with Ramadan traditionally comes iftar invites, sehri gatherings, sports events and the like. And with that, potentially, the usual chit chat, time-passing and other things that are often not so fruitful.

So how can we marry the two? I have put together a list of ways we can change this gatherings into ibadah, Inshallah, if we do it right! Some are the usual ones, and hopefully some may be some new ideas for you 🙂

  • Clarify your niyyah

It is highly recommend to feed others during this month, and so inviting people over for Iftar is a great way to fulfil this. But whether you are inviting others, or going somewhere yourself, ensuring that your intention is to do it because it is an act that pleases Allah will hopefully bring blessings into your evening. Even if you go to play sports, clarifying your intention that you are doing it to keep your body healthy during this month, so that you can serve Allah in other ways, will allow you to transform that sport into worship.

  • Don’t overdo it

Now that your intention is sorted, it is important to remember that balance is important. Moderation is the way in Islam, and this is the same. There is no need to attend every event that is going on, or accept every invite. It is OK to be choosy and attend a select few which you think will be beneficial for you

  • Have a talk

Last night I attended a wonderful family gathering where we got together to celebrate the birthday of Imam Hasan (as), as well as enjoy some quality time together with cousins. The highlight of the evening was a short talk by a cousin, which was simple, practical and very effective. Adding meaning to a gathering by a short talk is a wonderful way to bless the occasion!

  • Share goals for the month

One lovely thing to do – especially closer to the beginning of the Holy month – is to identify and share at least one goal for yourself for Ramadan. We did this in a friend’s group one year, and found that hearing other’s goals not only inspired us but helped us clarify our own, and motivated us to see it through! To top it all off, the hostess gifted us a little notebook for penning down these goals and other reflections during the month, and had blessed it with a personalised message for each of us!

  • Share a hadith each

If you feel a talk is too formal, or perhaps no one attending can give a talk, then another great way to get everyone learning as well is to ask all coming to bring a hadith to share. When we did this at a gathering of friends recently, we found that the hadith that everyone chose to bring really inspiring and led to some great discussions!

Here is one of the hadith shared – very aptly 😉

  • Share any other info – a favourite verse, a favourite line of a dua, a new Quranic dua you want to learn, one thing they have learnt so far, etc!

In the same vein, why not branch out and give guests a little fun homework! So they can bring a favourite verse that they like, or their favourite line of dua, a new Quranic dua they want to learn to recite in their Qunoots, or even one thing they have learnt so far in the Holy month.

Somebody hosted a themed iftar last year – the theme was ‘His Love is in the Air’ 🙂 All the friends were actually asked to do all four of the suggestions above! Furthermore, they were asked to present it nicely, but were not told why. When everyone had eaten, they began sharing their four things and showing what they had put together. Once each person shared what they had chosen and why it was meaningful to them (which was beautiful in itself!), they picked a name out of a hat and in line with the verse, “You will not attain piety until you spend of what you love; and whatever thing you spend, Allah knows of it.” (3:92), they then were asked to gift their presentation of their favourite verse/dua etc, to that person whom they picked.

Then in line with Allah’s promise of giving us more when we give something, they each got a little something as a gift. The gifts were little things to do with the kitchen and home, such as a cake tin, worktop saver, etc, but each item had a small dua to go with it! So for example, with a tray, the message read: “A tray can hold so many things and requires a balancing act to carry! This Ramadan, may you put all of your prayers and problems on Allah’s tray and leave the balancing to Him!” and so on…

Alhamd it was a lovely evening filled with the remembrance of Allah in the most beautiful, personal way.

P.S. Here is the poster I got! It was so cleverly done, with pictures to symbolise each of the four things, and the text behind.

  • Discuss a good book

Last year we started a book club, and held our first sehri during the month of Ramadan. The book was secular, but had lots of links to Islam and as we all shared our thoughts and relevant hadith on the topic, it felt like a beautiful session with God at it’s center. Why not choose a book a month in advance, and set a date to discuss it during a gathering?

(P.S. This wasn’t the book we read for Ramadan, this came later… but you get the gist ;))

  • Hold an event for a greater cause

There is a group in our community who host a beautiful iftar every Ramadan, and it’s ultimate goal is to raise money for charity. We pay tickets to the event, and there are raffles sold with lots of people donating their services as prizes; lots of money is raised, and an evening of community building and fun is had in the process!

  • Top it all off with Sadaqah!

And lastly, a lovely way to top it all off is to encourage giving when people attend a gathering. For younger children, inviting them to bring in food to donate to a food bank, or new gifts to give to refugees or the sick, is a lovely way to incorporate charity into an event. For adults, having a sadaqah box present on the table alongside the food, and inviting people to donate to a cause is also a lovely idea.

Have you had any meaningful gatherings during Ramadan? Please do share!

Make Iftar for your neighbours!

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Saw this awesome idea on Facebook and loved it. Building bridges with those around us is something we believe in strongly (thus the neighbour cards/cards for non-Muslims) and boy has she done it in style 🙂

Feeling inspired to cook now!

P.S. here is her link to the printables: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0BwFM0_BVA5l3aXNVbzU4cUlHeHM&usp=drive_web

 ***We may not always see the effect but we are having one! Check out this man’s response to someone knocking on his door!

“In light of recent events, I’ve felt the need to share a heartwarming experience I just had with anyone who is willing to pause scrolling for just a minute.

I just had a knock at the door – I wasn’t expecting anyone, so opened the door pretty sheepishly. A lady who was clearly of Muslim faith was standing outside with a carrier bag filled to the brim with containers. Confused, I asked if she was okay – she told me her name, and apologised for knocking so late in the day before explaining that she lived on my road in another flat and was walking round the houses to give people gifts; bearing in mind that I hadn’t ever seen or spoken to her before. She opened her bag and handed me a selection of beautiful smelling food, wrapped in foil with a small note titled ‘Dear Neighbour’, a jar filled with Bombay Mix, and a double-sided letter titled ‘Ramadan’ – picture attached.

She told me that she wanted to share something with everyone on our road to explain what Ramadan actually is for those of us who aren’t aware, and to give us the gift of food at a time when neither her, nor her family, we’re able to eat. The letter detailed what Ramadan is, why it is practiced by followers of Islam, and what the principles of Islam actually are. I had expected the knock at the door to be a disgruntled neighbour complaining about my parking, or god forbid, a political canvasser – *shudder* – I didn’t expect a visit from someone who simply wanted to share community spirit, generosity and most importantly, someone who wanted to actively share the knowledge of a religion which is currently at the center of recent events, and which is integral to the lives of over a 1/6th of the planets population.

Recently there’s been a lot of headlines in the news referencing Islam in relation to the terrible events which are taking place far too regularly. I’ve found it disheartening and disappointing to see quite a few comments online, and quite a few ignorant tweets from moronic individuals which have been aimed at anyone who classes themselves as a Muslim – all because a small handful of barbaric, twisted individuals feel the need to commit atrocious acts in the name of a God they incorrectly believe they’re serving.

Innocent lives have been unnecessarily lost enough times now in this country alone; not to mention the fact that the events which have happened in the UK are more of a daily occurrence for thousands upon thousands of people in less privileged countries around the world – places where the inhabitants don’t have the luxury of safety, emergency services, protection, or shelter. Some people need to be reminded that these attacks have not been carried out by true followers of Islam; these events have been carried out by Extremists who have their own fucked-up beliefs. The people affected most by these events are people within the Muslim community, who have to fight against the claims made by the so-called Islamic State on a regular basis.

Today, I’ve been lucky enough to learn a bit about a religion which I’ve never invested time to learn about. If the c***s who are carrying out these destructive acts had any brains, they’d learn to read and have a flick through the Quran themselves, because as I understand, they’re clearly reading a different book entirely if it’s telling them to go and slaughter innocent men, women and children without any reason or cause. Perhaps they’ve mistaken the Holy Scripture for Mein Kampf?

There need to be more people like my neighbour, because it’s amazing what a bit of good can do in a time when almost everything we read in the news is negative. What an amazing lady.”

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