Just Another Ramadan

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بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Ramadan is back here. Has a year flown away so soon? We haven’t really retrieved from the excitement of last Eid and Ramadan has knocked our doors again. We have ensured we have done our best to welcome this month. Our Homes are shining; Our freezers are full of frozen snacks to fry; We have even purchased our Eid clothes. Insha Allah, our time will be well spent in Ibada. Our Dua(invocation) books are out and we are determined to spend most of our time with Quran; we will try our best to read Quran at least once. After all, this has been our standard procedure all our life. Great! We are at bliss. Are we? Now let us see our Ramadan routine in a new light.

ARE OUR HOMES WELCOMING?

Are our homes welcoming enough for the angels? Of course, the house has been dusted and arranged. Check again, is there anything in the house which would keep angels away? Why wouldn’t angels of mercy enter our home, when we have ensured that our home even smells great?!! WELL, ARE OUR WALLS FREE OF FAMILY PHOTOS?

angels do not enter a home with pictures

Is a photo in your living room meant to honor a predecessor? Or, do you proudly display the photo of your child receiving a trophy? Indeed, the elders need to be honored and the youngster’s achievement is worth being applauded. But, we don’t need a framed photo to prove our love for them. Our love for Allah is much stronger and with all the devils locked it should be much easier to obey Him. Let us remove the photos and ensure that our home is welcoming enough for the angels.

SERVE IT RIGHT

It’s the first day of Ramadan, and kids are already speaking of goodies they would get to eat in iftar. Most of us have loaded our freezer with partly cooked snacks. Moms are wondering whether to defrost kabab, samosas or spring rolls. We have taken all this pain to ensure that our family gets to eat tasty food while we don’t waste our valuable time in a kitchen. Well, have we also ensured that our deeds are being presented before Allah?! Are we in good terms with our extended family and friends? If you are in doubt, without delay connect to your loved ones. Please click here to read more about this.

Gates of paradise opened on Monday and Thursday
Hadith Wait until they reconcile

LET US MAKE THIS RAMADAN THE BEST RAMADAN!

We all love the month of Ramadan. We love the fasting, reciting Quran and standing in tarawih salah. How we wish that we can feel this closeness to Allah all our life. Yet, after Ramadan, we slowly slip back being our usual self. Months of Ramadan come and go, with hardly any impact on our life. Why aren’t we able to hold on to something from our experience in Ramadan? How did you feel, when you first fasted for an entire month? Alhamdulillah. How did you feel on completing the recitation of the Quran for the first time? Are there any more memories which would make a Ramadan stand out? 

fasting for a year

LIVING THROUGH THE MONTH OF RAMADAN IS A HUGE BLESSING. Every Ramadan in our life counts. Perhaps, it’s time we push ourselves to do a little more. Look at Ramadan as an opportunity to change our life for better. It’s time to elevate our Rank in heaven.

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My Little Quran Buddy

 

my little quran buddy
My little Quran buddy

 

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Dear friends, I would like to share with you something which made me very happy!! For me, it is an achievement too good to be true! This happened a year ago. Yet, I can’t cease being pleased about it. My son, who was then just a six-year-old had memorized 30th para (last part) of Quran! Allahu Akbar. But there is more to be happy about. With him, his thirty plus years old mommy (me) memorized Juzz Amma too!!!! Alhamdhulillah. And we did it ourselves by the grace of Allah. If you see my journey, you would understand the reason behind my uncontainable happiness.

I had been childless for the first few years after marriage. This is when I took up a course to study tafsir (explanation) of Quran. Like any other infertile Muslimah, I recited invocations of Zakkariya (PBUH).

Zakkariya As invocations

Quran clearly showed the state at which Zakkariya (PBUH) asked Allah for a child. It was more than a mere desire. Zakkariya (PBUH) was an old man with a barren wife. This is when he prayed for a child! His humble plea showed the prophet’s Tawakul (Trust) in Allah. He wasn’t unhappy with Allah’s decree. There a strong reason for his request. HE WANTED SOMEONE WORTHY TO INHERIT HIS PROPHETHOOD! Subahan Allah.

Zakkariya As reason for invocation

I had no idea what had Allah decreed for me. As I read the above verses, I wondered why did I want to be a mom? I realized being a parent is a huge responsibility. We parents work hard to provide the best nourishment for our child. We spend a fortune on our little one’s education. Are we ensuring that they are brought up on the way of Islam? Do we instill the love of Quran in our child’s heart? How can we show our gratitude to Allah for being blessed with a child? We could learn from the attitude of Zakkariya (PBUH) on being blessed with a child.

zakkarriya as being grateful for the blessings

We are to raise our children as believers adhering to Allah’s command. Inspired by the narration in Quran, I prayed for a child with whom I could worship Allah with ease; a child who would be a means of sadaqa jariya (who becomes a reason for increase in my good deeds after the parent’s death). I resolved that If Allah blesses me with a child I would encourage him/her to memorize Quran. For the majority of my life, I had only uttered surat ul Fatiha and surat ul Ikhlas in my Salah! And, with no hafiz-a-Quran as far as I know in my lineage, this indeed is a very heavy resolution.

Alhamdulillah. The Most Merciful Allah soon blessed me with a son. When Zakir was less than three years old I attempted memorizing surat un Naba from a popular website. A group of ladies repeated the teacher as she recited the verses. I tried reciting the memorized verses at the end of the session. Whenever I stumbled my little innocent baby would help me!! I was stunned. The truth is every toddler would readily learn things which are repeated to them. Don’t we teach our children poems?

When my son was ready for a nursery, I wanted the best of the teachers to teach Quran to my son. Either he was dismissed as too young or the institute was too far away. The teachers who were willing to teach him at home would only spend a little time with him and I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome. With a birth of another son, life turned busier. I wasn’t sure when to start or whom to approach to help Zakir memorize the Quran.

As a kindergartener, Zakir used to return home early. To prevent him from troubling the baby, I used to play nasheed (Islamic poems/songs) on the computer. He would hum the nasheed while playing. This is

when it struck me – MY SON COULD LEARN TO RECITE FROM THE BEST QARI IN THE WORLD! Qari (Quran reciters) like Misry AlAfasy, Khalifa Al Tunaiji, Husairi and more could indeed help my son memorize the Quran! Several websites with memorizing option are freely available for us to explore! I tried such a website. Alhamdulillah. 4-year-old Zakir was happily reciting the verses I had just played on repeat mode! And here began our Quran memorization journey.

Prior to the birth of my son, I had attempted several times to memorize few small chapters from the Quran. We all know the story of the Hare and the tortoise. Let’s just say, my approach was more like that of the Hare! I could have never completed the mammoth task like this. I did pray and plead to Allah to make Quran my companion in the grave. But, I was not doing enough to give life to my supplications. The All-wise Allah, who had installed this desire in my heart also showed me a way to give life to my desire. I wanted my son to see Quran as a part of his life. This required me to take time out and dedicate myself completely for memorization. During this fixed time, nothing else was to be given preference! Could there be a better way to have quality time with one’s child?

Does one’s smartness or memorizing speed make a difference? It wouldn’t help if we are not consistent. I tried my best to make memorization an everyday task. It didn’t bother me if we just memorized a line or a word as long as we continued spending time with the Quran. We read and listened to the verse over and over again. Having a little buddy made this task much easier. My son’s company served as the much-needed push to keep me on the track.

All my life, I avoided studying anything I didn’t understand. Even as a teen I preferred reading the translation of the Quran to the original Arabic text! Back then, I just couldn’t read Arabic. Even after, I had taken up tafsir (explanation) course, I hesitated reading Arabic text while explaining translation to others. When I finally had to, I was down to tears due to my inability to read Arabic fluently. And in my tajweed (art of reciting Quran) class, I was probably the weakest student. Till date, my pronunciation in any language is far from perfect. Honestly, even in my early twenties, I would have never foreseen myself trying to memorize the Quran. But most merciful Allah has helped me start this journey of memorizing Quran. Alhamdulillah. When I could do it, anybody could do it with Allah’s help. The first step is the most difficult step.

 

Allah remembers/ mentions you as you remember Him
Allah draws close to one who moves towards Him

Additional benefits of Memorizing Quran

Like any other normal seven-year-old, my son loves to play and read books. He too demands the toys that are in trend. He dislikes cleaning up. He too plays pranks around his little brother and tests my patience with his mischief. I can’t keep him from being influenced by factors outside the home. But, I hope in future he’ll influence those around him in a positive way. When he first joined the school, he returned home singing a song in a language I didn’t understand. After he started memorizing, he returned home stating that he taught few of his friends the chapters he had learned. His love to memorize things surprise me. Even if it is not necessary, he readily memorizes any poem he loves during the school hours.

This journey was originally taken to help my son memorize Quran. The truth is – it is my little buddy who has helped me more. Like any other little chap, he is much faster than me in memorizing and refuses to continue unless I too memorize the verses. This has resulted in me spending more time with Quran when he is at school. I know I am not good enough to teach him or anyone else. His pronunciation is far better than mine (We still have a teacher helping him recite Quran). The necessity to improve my tajweed has dragged me to the masjid. I opted to visit a masjid which is a bit far from home. Well for every step towards masjid don’t our sins shed. Plus, a brisk walk is good for our health. Sometimes, I feel lazy. Then I think of a walk in the paradise which I could be rewarded for this. (Insha Allah <3) This gives me the much-needed boost.

Ascend with Quran

Insha Allah, I would like my son to join the halaqa (memorizing circle in masjid). There he could study much better. I don’t know how long will I be able to keep pace with him. Maybe soon he would not need me to help him out. Ah, it would be nice to see him take a role of the teacher and teach his brother (and me too). Yes, I would love to become a hafiza. I would love more to see my sons turn into Hafiz and live trying their best to please Allah. After all, parents are rewarded in heaven for this!

crown

Quran time is a blessing in other ways too. My naughty explorers are silent during and after Quran session. It keeps us away from TV and the computer. We have things to speak and laugh about, which only we understand. Zakir has even invented some Quran recitation games and pop quizzes!

I can’t thank Allah enough for blessing me with a son, who in turn helped me take this major step. Now I work like the tortoise (recollect the good old story about hare and the tortoise 😊). We take a step at a time. The finish line is far away. I am not sure whether I’ll be able to reach it. Insha Allah, I’ll never give up. May Allah make it easy on us. Aameen.

Would you like to take up such a journey? Who would be your memorizing buddy? Maybe my upcoming post on tips to memorize from home will motivate you further.

Per published in muslimahbloggers

For list of other articles please click here

Are we slaves to the gadgets?

Assalamu alikum.

Alhamdhulillah, one of my articles has been republished in Aboutislam

image

.

http://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/are-we-slaves-to-our-gadgets-instead-of-allah/

Do check to see, the changes. 🙂

Why We Need A Hobby

Crochet needle hobby

Assalammu Alikum,

Do you miss your childhood? Apart from pure state of innocence and overwhelming love from elders, what makes childhood special? It’s the desire to explore. I love seeing a child’s face gleaming with joy on learning simple things. When was the last time you felt like that? Can we still experience such uncontainable excitement on accomplishing simple stuff? Yes! We could.

Within each of us is a child, eager to learn and explore. I never knew a needle could bring out a child in me. I am not speaking about my visit to a Doctor. This needle works on a thread, but it is not sharp! Instead it has a hook at its end. Have you guessed, what is it? CROCHET. This had a huge positive impact on me. Let me share with you how it helped me.

Why Crochet?

When I am free, I feel an urge to hold a gadget and explore. I had written all about it in my last post. I didn’t want to turn into a game/media addict. I had to do something.

As I was wondering how to refine my life, I learnt that my grandma wanted to gift me her crochet needles. Ah! Long back I had enjoyed making a crochet cap. (Well I had attempted to make a flat circle with chain and split knots. It accidentally turned into cap. shhh! Let it be our secret. 😉 ) I decided to give it a try. I took out my crochet needle and explored a couple of basic tutorials on the net.  The yarn and the needle kept me away from fiddling with the keyboard. Initially, I couldn’t hold the yarn right. Instead of online puzzles, a bundle of yarn was now challenging me! Do you think I would give up easily? No way, I had to tame my fingers to bend the yarn. This indeed was an answer for my addiction.

Learning to empathize

I found it difficult to use a needle. But to the tutor (in the video), this needle was like an extension of her fingers. This reminded me of teaching my son how to hold a pencil. I used to wonder why was it so difficult for the little ones. Now it was clear. ☺ Often, we forget the struggles we underwent as a beginner. Learning a new art reminds us our limits and the need for experience. Now, I could empathize better with my sons.

Hadith crochet disgrace adorn
Be compassionate

Finally, I was able to make a chain (knots). As I progressed I learnt ABC of crochet – single, half double, double, triple and double triple crochet. Unlike puzzles or games, the result of my practice was in my hands. Honestly, it looked no better than a scribbling. It looked more polished on the tutor’s hands. Well, I wasn’t working on the right bead (the knots). With attention to margins my work turned neater. Now I had a renewed appreciation for handiwork. I recollected how often I had argued with poor vendors while buying an art work. I could appreciate handiwork better.

Hadith crochet coasters beginner yarn empathy
Be lenient

Valuing Time

I tried making some coasters. It is pure magic to see plain long yarn turn into beautiful clusters and floral patterns. A crochet comes to life with repeated action of yarning over and pulling. To crochet, it’s equivalent to inhaling and exhaling in order to breathe. Yep, this is all that we need to learn. Yet, there was so much we can do with different combinations and colors!

Let’s consider our life as a yarn. All of us are gifted with the same 24 hours. Our life is filled with several simple repetitive actions like – climbing stairs, eating food, sleeping, waking up, etc. Generally, we don’t give much thought about them. With these actions, we could be yarning for here after. How?

Our prophet has taught us dua (invocation) for every occasion in our life. Do you remember to say bismillah (In the name of Allah) in the beginning and Alhamdhulillah (All praise belong to Allah) in the end of an action?  If so, we have ensured to knot it in for here after. Do you say Allahuakbar (Allah is great) while climbing and SubahanAllah (Glory be to Allah) while descending. If so we have added one more bead to the knot. Would you like to add more? Add in other duas. Recite dua while entering or leaving masjid, before sleeping and after waking up and so on. With these simple invocations intricated into our life, we can turn our 24 hours into moments worth living.

Hadith sweater simple design crochet "Keep your tongue wet with the remembrance of Allah."
Remember Allah

Strengthening Bonds

Do you remember how it felt to do a craft work at school? I was reliving the excitement. Before I could think of what to do next, I got a request for a sweater from my hubby. I decided to make sweaters for my sons first. I saw a few tutorial on you tube and settled for one I was comfortable with. The little one (3 years) was very pleased with the attention he was getting. The sweater involved an easy stitch- Half double crochet. As I practiced the stitch I would think about my granny. As  a child, I had seen her work on the border of a shawl.   Later, she had gifted this priceless shawl to me along with numerous lace works she had done. Honestly, could there be better way to express love than with a useful handmade gift? The shawl would keep me warm and always remind me of my generous loving grandma.  May Allah reward her in abundance for every bead she has worked on. May I be blessed with a heart like hers, which finds joy in giving things. And, may I be blessed with love of my grandparents for many more years to come. Aameen.

Hadith crochet shawl priceless grandma
Gifts increase love

Within three days, I completed the sweater! Alhamdhulillah, I had managed to design a multicolor sleeve less sweater for my little one. I didn’t know how to add buttons to it. So, I used lace to close the front opening (zig zag pattern). The rugged look really matched his personality. No sweater in the market could replace this. I hoped this sweater would last for several generations and keep several kids warm. Maybe someone in the future will appreciate my simple work too. ☺

Rewind

Now my elder son was upset. He wanted a sweater too. I was not going to follow the same design or pattern. Something more challenging would be fun. I decided to try basket weave. For this I had to learn front and back post crochet – to make the work stand out or hide. This was tougher than I had expected. It required more yarn and time. I made several mistakes. So, did I waste good amount of yarn on this? No. Well, with crochet we can rewind with ease! We just need to pull the yarn to unwind. Alhamdhulillah, I was able to rectify my mistakes. How I wish I could do the same with my life – go back to some point and start afresh.

Are there any regrets in your life? I have a long list. We cannot go back into the past but still we can have a clean record! Does it sound too good to be true? Well, Allah is The Most Merciful and He loves to pardon. With sincere repentance, we could shed our sins away. After all, pleasing Him should be our prime concern. Still, how often do we repent?

Crochet basket stitch Hadith: Allah forgives repeatedly as long as we seek forgiveness
Seek forgiveness repetedly

It took me more than two weeks to complete the sweater. I was surprised at the outcome. May our book of deeds look better with our sins forgiven. All praise be to Allah who is always eager to forgive. ☺

Appreciation

Finally, it was my hubby’s turn to get a sweater. It was really nice to see my relatively silent hubby involved in something I was doing. I picked a real hard design with cable patterns which cross over (should be piece of cake for professional). I planned to combine designs from two different tutorials. Every day, having returned from work, my hubby would rush to see how much I had completed. I would place the incomplete work on him and see how much more work needs to be done. 😉 I loved seeing his face gleam as I did this. In spite, of knowing absolutely nothing about crochet he would be generous with his suggestion and I would oblige. I had always had an overwhelming desire to wrap my entire family in my love. Well, with crochet, I have indeed managed to do it. ☺ One can’t make out, how pleased am I to see my entire family wear what I made. Alhamdhulillah.

Crochet crochet cable stitch complicated sweater Quran dua for loving family crochet
Comfort of our eyes

A useful hobby, could strengthen bonds of love.

Bonus

Handmade crochet work is of great value. Alhamdhulillah, this could help anyone make a decent living from the comfort of one’s home.  With time, simple projects could be worked even with our eyes closed. This made me easier to catch up few missed lectures. In fact, it helped me concentrate better.

On the down side, when unfinished work is left unprotected, children could easily unwind the work. My little one used every opportunity to unwind as much yarn as possible. I could do nothing. Initially, I was angry. Then I realized, there is no point blaming a kid while as a grownup, I had failed to preserve it. I was turning more patient and vigilant.

My grandma was very impressed with my work. How can one become an expert? Here is her advice –

“YOU CAN DO ANYTHING AS LONG AS YOU ARE PERSEVERANT AND WILLINGLY TO UNWIND AND RECTIFY YOUR ERROR.”

This should be mantra for successful life! This hobby, was not just keeping me away from gaming but was also teaching me perseverance, patience and importance of Tawba (Repentence).  Indeed crochet helped me improve.

Dua crochet flower cap
Bless our deeds/action

If you think you are wasting your time, or, if you are bored with the usual routine, would you consider learning something new? What would you like to do? Do let us know, how your hobby helps you.

Preprinted in Muslimahbloggers.

A MONTH WITH LIGHT

Are there any desires harboring in your heart? Fear of failure prevents us from even attempting to accomplish some desires. Some great halal desires are left buried in our heart. Let me share with you my secret desire. It is to memorize the entire Quran before I enter the grave. I went to masjid to accomplish my goal. I stopped going to masjid once I was pregnant. I decided to go back after delivery. Now 6 years later, I’m a still at home with 2 kids.

Few months back, as I was casually browsing through messages in a WhatsApp group, my eyes fell upon a contest.  Do contests excite you? Well, this made me feel butterflies in my stomach. It was an invitation to MEMORIZE SURAT AN-NOOR in about a months’ time for sisters above 18 years of age! This rekindled my desire. But, I was afraid I could never do it within time.

I had been praying to Allah to make me a hafiz. I hardly did anything more to become a hafiz. This contest appeared to be an invitation just for me.  I recollected, this Madanee surah LIGHT spoke about chastity, hijab and related matters; I had found it even difficult to recite it in my tajweed(recitation) classes! Casting away the fear of failure, I decided to grab this smiling opportunity. I registered for the contest. Few days later I got a message stating that – I was selected! Contest was 35 days later.

This is when I opened the 24th chapter of quran – THE LIGHT. This chapter contained 64 long verses and occupied nearly 10 pages of the quran. Never in my life had I tried memorizing 10 pages within a month. Was this going to be something bigger than I can chew? I told myself Allah will make it easy for me.  I read the first line:

surah

The word obligatory/enjoined/ordained made me realize the weight of the surah.  First verse also stated – “it was revealed to be remembered.” More than memorization it is important to live by the rules set by quran. Memorization could help us remember/recollect the rules better. Next few lines spoke of penalty on false accusation. By night, as I rocked my baby to sleep, I attempted to memorize. I read a first word repeatedly. Then I read two words together and so on. Within minutes I had memorized a verse! Indeed Allah has made Quran easy for us.

Quran

The next day was usual. Daily chores and family had consumed all my time. By evening, memorizing noor appeared to be an impossible task for me.  Such whispers were silenced by “Auzbillahi minash shaitan nir rajeem – I seek refuge in Allah the Shaitan the outcast.”  Now with a clear head I wondered why I didn’t find time for Noor?

I felt like a kid at store who had blown the cash on candies instead of bread for family! Candy is something we DESIRE but bread is our NEED/ Requirement.  What was I toiling for –Family, Perfect Home, Good impression, High standards? These are the ‘candies’ of this world.  The real eternal life starts after death. I had to stock good deeds (my bread) to save my eternity. It was time for me to turn wise.

wealth quran

First I had work on my intention. It had to be strong enough to motivate. My dream, to memorize quran was in wrong category – DESIRE. I had to promote it to – MY NECESSITY / desperate NEED. I had to give Quran the first preference. There would always be 1000 excuses to stay away from quran. Such a ‘busy’ life would leave me alone in a dark grave with no hope. But just one good strong intention“To please Allah” would make life easy and fruitful.

quran chapter 102

Next, I focused on practical changes to fit Noor memorization into my life:

  • Fix target: I decided to memorize at least a page in 3 days. By doing this, I would have 1 spare week to revise and improve.
  • Multi task: World class reciters were now reciting Noor for me in my kitchen as I cooked! Alhamdhulilah, websites and quranapps came handy here. J
  • Involve family: So it was time for the whole family to connect to quran! I discussed the tafseer (explanation) of surah with my hubby.
  • Save time: This required avoiding unnecessary calls and visits. I had to curb my addiction to solve online puzzles.
  • Simplify chores: I settled for less complicated recipes with few ingredients. I allotted few chores to my family too.

Alhamdhulilah within a week I memorized 2 pages (20 verses)!

Little did I think – the contest was going to test much more than my memorization skills. It was to test my perseverance, dedication, patience, self-esteem and IMAN (faith) level too. Please read my next post to learn more about my journey.

Prepublished in Muslimahbloggers

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