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!

Tasbih and Dhikr for Children

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I love the way this mum explained dhikr to her children – and her ideas for making it a part of their family life are lovely!

As seen on Facebook:

Hosai Mojaddidi

This past week my boys began a new Islamic Studies class. The teacher assigned them the homework of saying “astaghferullah” 100 times a day.

Alhamdulillah, we’ve been consistent in doing it every day. Yesterday, after we finished reciting together, I asked them if they knew why we did it.

They said to remember Allah and ask forgiveness.

I said, “But you are children, Allah doesn’t hold you accountable. So why should you do it?”

They shrugged and said they didn’t know.

I replied, “Well, one day in sha Allah you’re going to grow up and then Allah will hold you accountable, right? So, it’s very good to get in the habit of these things now to prepare you for later. Does that make sense?”

They said yes.

I then said, “There’s also another reason why doing this type of dhikr and dhikr in general is very good for you. When you can focus your mind on doing something by repeating it, it’s very good for your brain. Do you know why? Well, your brain is kind of like a muscle in that it needs exercise every day. Just like people spend hours in the gym doing “reps,” which is short for repetition, of different exercises or weightlifting because they are working out their body’s muscles, we need to also exercise our brain. Dhikr is a great way to do that. We focus on something and get very good at it and our brain gets stronger. It’s also very good for our hearts because anytime we call on Allah ﷻ’s name our physical and spiritual hearts, and our whole body actually gets healthier.”

In the digital age when an unprecedented amount of teens and youth, and even small children, are either addicted to devices, video games, television, or on very serious prescription medications for anxiety, depression, ADHD, and a variety of other mental health related issues, we need to empower our small children with ways to quiet their mind.

Dhikr is the best practice to teach mindfulness and meditation to children. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend that every parent do the following:

1. Buy individual prayer beads for every member of the household based on everyone’s color/bead preferences. You can even get them involved and excited by taking them shopping to buy their own prayer beads at a nearby Islamic bookstore or online if you don’t have one in your community!

2. Keep the beads in a special container somewhere in the house that is easily accessible to everyone.

3. Have dhikr circles daily (if possible) after one of the prayers or even before bed time.

4. Teach your children that they can do dhikr by themselves whenever they are sad, upset, sick, tired, etc. Teach them from an early age to call on Allah ﷻ (not just mommy or daddy) when they are not feeling happy.

5. Give them clear objectives and goals based on THEIR preferences. Some children might like doing simple tasbih like “alhamdulillah, subhanAllah, and Allahu Akbar,” where other children might want to do salawat an-nabi or astaghferullah. Give them options of which dhikr THEY like most and let them pick that one to start. Guiding them to do what their hearts incline to instead of what you assign to them is a much better way to encourage them in sha Allah.

May Allah ﷻ guide and protect all of our children and always keep their hearts close to Him. Amīn. 

Thoughtful Gifts Ideas 43: Fruits in a Bowl

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Fruits in a bowl is our next Thoughtful Gift! Healthy and pretty, with a dua linked in – hopefully this gift was enjoyed a lot!

The dua reads: “And (mention) when Abraham said: My Lord, make this a secure city and provide its people with fruits – whoever of them believes in Allah and the last day.” May Allah bestow His fruits on you this Eid!

Helping children understand the Ramadan dua

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Inspired by the video below, here is what someone came up with to help even young children understand what they are reciting…

“For our Ramadhan classes we created a child friendly adaptation of the beautiful Ramadhan dua ‘Allahuma adkhil’. It helps our children learn the meaning simply by associating it with pictures.

If you would like the printable link it can be found here.”

Motherhood – An Answered Dua

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Just beautiful.

Pls read, whether you are going through a trial or not!

“Alhamdhulillah, Allah showered His Mercy upon me and granted me a child but it doesn’t mean I am no longer tested. We must know that until the last breath we take, we will be tested. We may be tested in all kinds of ways in life, but we will be tested. Some of us are tested in matters of money, others with health and sadly many of our ummah are tested with the severity of absolute tyrant rulers.

If you’re a sister experiencing anything similar to what I did, then please know my dearest sister, you’re not alone. Know that many before us were tested in the same way and know that others who may have been blessed with children are being tested in different ways. What brings comfort is knowing that it is not what befalls us that shapes who we are, but that it is a Decree of our Creator subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that helps us turn to Him in our time of need.

Don’t lose hope, know that the real reward is with Allah. We might be given what our heart desires in the dunya, but what awaits us insha’Allah is much more superior. Imagine how lovingly Allah looks down at His servant when the servant shows sabr when facing a calamity.”

Read the full article here: http://muslimmatters.org/2016/01/28/motherhood-an-answered-dua/

The Powerful Dua of a Parent

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A beautiful dua of parents for their children…

*just to clarify, this was written by parents themselves 🙂

** Source: http://seekershub.org/blog/2015/06/the-powerful-dua-of-a-parent-2/

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful

All praises are for Allah SWT, the most Compassionate, the most Forgiving.

Salutations and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad SAW, his family and companions.

Oh Allah, I submit myself to You.

I realise that parenting a child is a very difficult task and I turn to You in humility for Your help.

I implore You for Your wisdom and guidance.

Oh Allah, I know that our children are an amaanat from You, to care for and to raise in a manner that is pleasing to You.

Help me do that in the best way.

Teach me how to love in a way that You would have me love.

Help me where I need to be healed, improved, nurtured, and made whole.

Help me walk in righteousness and integrity so that You may always be pleased with me.

Allow me to be a God-fearing role model with all the communication, teaching, and nurturing skills that I may need.

Oh Allah, You know what our children need. Help and guide us in praying for our children.

Oh Allah, put a hedge of safety around our children. Protect their bodies, minds, and emotions from any kind of evil and harm.

Oh Allah, I pray that You protect them from accidents, diseases, injuries, and any other physical, mental, or emotional afflictions and abuse.

Oh Allah, I pray that You keep our children free from any addictions and vices.

Draw them close to You for protection from every ill and evil influence of our society, whether it’s apparent to us or not.

Oh Allah, grant them the best of company as their friends — people who will inspire them to love and worship and obey You.

Oh Allah, grant our children hidaaya and a heart that loves to obey You.

Shine Your light on any secret or unseen rebellion in their hearts and destroy it before it takes root.

Oh Allah, guide them away from any pride, selfishness, jealousy, hypocrisy, malice, and greed and make them uncomfortable with sins.

Penetrate their hearts with Your love and reverence today and always.

Oh Allah, make apparent to them the truth in any situation and let them not be misled by falsehood.

Oh Allah, grant our children the ability to make clear decisions and let them always be attracted to good things that are pure, noble, true, and just.

Oh Allah, guide them in making choices that please You.

Oh Allah, help them to taste the sweetness of walking with a humble spirit in obedience and submission to You.

Oh Allah, grant them the wisdom to choose their words carefully and bless them with a generous and caring spirit.

Oh Allah, I pray that they never stray from the path of deen and that You give them a future filled with Your best promises.

Oh Allah, always keep our children cleansed and pure from evil and shaytaan.

Oh Allah, keep them steadfast in establishing Salaah and help them revere the Glorious Quran as Your Word and Law and to read it with understanding daily. Let it be their source of light and guidance.

Oh Allah, let our daughters love wearing hijab and our sons the dress of a humble Muslim.

Let their dress be a representation of their Imaan and of their love and respect for Your commands.

Lead them to a position where they rely truly on Your power alone and fear You in the open and in secret.

Oh Allah, make them so strong in their deen that they never encounter doubt.

Oh Allah, do not allow any negative attitudes in the place of our children’s lives.

Oh Allah, guide our children in honouring and obeying You, Your Rasool (peace be upon him), and us as parents (when we are commanding that which is pleasing to You).

Make them the coolness of our eyes.

Oh Allah, fill our children with compassion and caring that will overflow to each member of our family.

Oh Allah, grant them piety.

Oh Allah, help them love, value, appreciate, and respect one another with good communication between them always.

Oh Allah, drive out any division between our children and bring them healing.

I pray there be no strain, breach, misunderstanding, arguing, fighting, or severing of ties.

Oh Allah, allow them to one day marry righteous, God-fearing, kind, hard-working, intelligent, beautiful, healthy spouses who get along with and respect and love (and genuinely enjoy) every member of our family and who lead our children (i.e. their spouses) even closer to You and Jannat ul Firdaus.

Oh Allah, please grant me the company of pious friends, relatives, extended community members, and teachers who will be inspirational role models for my children and will help me raise them to be the best of believers.

Oh Allah, please don’t let me become self-satisfied and arrogant in my parenting, but please don’t humble me or shame me through my children’s misdeeds either. Please let me always give credit for their good character to You and please don’t ever let me stop praying for them.

Oh Allah, please don’t let my children be “late” in meeting any of life’s milestones that are expected of them.

Oh Allah, protect my children from debt. Make them givers and not takers.

Oh Allah, grant my children noble professions with halal incomes that give them respect and dignity in Your Eyes and in the eyes of their fellow human beings.

Oh Allah, grant them worldly comfort so that my children can come to You through the Door of Gratitude and so that they are not forced to come to You through the Door of Patience. Please let them always be grateful…and patient.

Oh Allah, I pray for a close, loving, happy and fulfilling relationship with them for all the days of our lives and to be reunited with them in Jannat ul Firdaus.

 

The Universal Beauty of Dua

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Had a busy weekend with two stalls where I was showcasing Buzz Ideazz products. One of these stalls was particularly unique because for the first time, non-Muslims were there and browsing around – this was at an Eid fair held at a school.

I was curious to know how they would react to the products – would they walk quickly by, feign some interest perhaps? It was great to see a genuine interest, with some even buying Eid cards for friends, and one for his daughter who couldn’t come to the fair because she was ill.

For me however, the best part of this was when a non-Muslim liked the wording on our foldable hairbrush/mirror and bought it for her granddaughter!

Alhamdulillah – and what beautiful and universal wording it is indeed 🙂

“O Lord, just as you have made me good-looking on the outside, so make my character good inside.”

http://buzzideazz.com/shop/foldable-hairbrush-and-mirror-with-the-dua-for-looking-in-the-mirror/

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