30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 18: Gifts}

عن أبي هريرة عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ( تهادوا تحابوا ) . رواه البخاري في الأدب المفرد ، وأبو يعلى بإسناد حسن .

Translation: “Give gifts and you shall love one another” Bukhari

Who doesn’t like receiving gifts? It doesn’t have to be something expensive or elaborate, something simple and inexpensive but unexpected could really brighten someone’s day.

I like to ask my daughter to paint and draw pictures to give to her father as a gift. She stands at the door until he comes home and squeals with delight to tell him Daddy Daddy I have a gift for you. My sister (mashalla) is a wonderful gift giver. She buys little gifts for everyone whenever she sees something someone she knows might like. My mother too is wonderful at gift giving, although she usually gifts me the really expensive stuff I lust after for months on end. She also spoils my daughter with gifts, I know that she spends time, energy and money looking for the perfect things for Lulu. She buys books and little toys, that my daughter always proudly claims that they were a gift from tattou (she calls my mom that). My husband too, sometimes gets me the weirdest gifts when I don’t expect it, like the hand held vacuum cleaner, he came home one day with it but it is probably one of the most useful things ever. Or, the kitchen scale, I had been wanting one forever and one day he just got it for me.

A gift doesn’t have to have a reason, except to say I love you, I appreciate you and I want to say thank you.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 14 and 15: Keep trying}

Sometimes it is hard and all you have to do is keep trying and ask Allah to help you.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 9 and 10: Say a little prayer}

قال رسولُ اللهِ صَلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم:”دُعَاءُ المَرْءِ المسلِمِ مُستَجَابٌ لأخيهِ بِظَهْرِ الغَيْبِ عندَ رأسِهِ مَلَكٌ مُوَكَّلٌ بِهِ كُلَّمَا دَعَا لأخِيهِ بِخَير قَالَ المَلَكُ ءامِينَ ولَكَ بِمِثْلِ ذَلِكَ ”
رواهُ مُسْلِم.
ومَعْنَى الدُّعَاءِ لأخيهِ بِظَهْرِ الغَيْبِ أنْ يَدْعُوَ لَهُ في غَيْبَتِهِ أَيْ لَيْسَ في حُضُورِه.

قال (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ينقطع عمل ابن أدم إلا من ثلاث ( صدقه جاريه ، أو علم ينتفع به أو ولد صالح يدعو له )

So when you pray, remember to pray for others and remember to pray for the loved ones who are no longer with us.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 8: Silence}

Be silent for 30 minutes. Sit down and make your mind go blank then let it wander and ponder the greatness in this world. Sub7an Allah.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 7: When the going gets tough}

When the going gets tough the good Muslim remembers these du’aas

حَسْبِيَ اللَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَهُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
Hasbiya Allahu la ilaha illa huwa AAalayhi tawakkaltu wahuwa rabbu alAAarshi alAAatheem
Translation: Allah sufficeth me: there is no god but He: On Him is my trust, He is the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme!

لاإله إلا أنت سبحانك إني كنت من الظالمين
La ila ha illa anta subhanaka inni kuntu minazzalimeen
Translation: None has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah)), Glorified (and Exalted) are You (above all that (evil) they associate with You). Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.

30 Days of Ramadan {Day 6: Better Driving}

What does better driving have to do with Ramadan? A lot, people tend to drive like monkeys on crack when they are fasting. Get in your car, say the duaa and relax. Inhale, exhale and start your car. Be considerate of others. Causing an accident is not being a good Muslim. Double parking is not being a good Muslim. Driving in the wrong direction and generally ignoring traffic laws is just being a bad Muslim and a bad person.

There are other people in the world besides yourself. They all have places they would like to get to in a hurry, so relax and let go. Being a couple of minutes late is not the end of the world. Listen to quran while you drive or download interesting lectures or audio books to make your drive more entertaining or offer to drive a friend or relative somewhere so you can focus on having a good time instead of fighting traffic.

Drive safe and always wear your seat belt.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Days 4 and 5: Giving}

I spaced out yesterday but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten about my own challenge.
So I am grouping two together and it is a about giving. We all know how important Sadaqa and Zakat are. But I am not talking about that kind of giving. I am talking about giving time and giving off a happy vibe. It is so easy and doesn’t cost you a thing. Sometimes giving advice is important but somethings just giving a shoulder to cry on is even more important. Think of all the things the people around you give you all the time. Think of how much time your mother has spent raising you and making you who you are today. Give your child an hour of uninterrupted play time. Get down on the floor and make a mess and don’t care about it. Give yourself permission to take a couple of hours off today to reflect and think about all of Allah’s blessings. Give yourself permission to take a longer bath or shower so that when you get out of it you are happier and more relaxed and ready to give happiness to everyone else around you. Stop thinking of what you get from people and comparing it to what you give to them, instead be grateful that you can give a lot, and I am sure if you look closer you will realize you actually get more than you think or assume.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 3: Feel Sad}

Kind of weird after smiling right?
Not really, or at least, I don’t think it is weird.

I came across this by chance today on Shrouk‘s blog:

“إن الإستسلام للحزن احيانًا أشجع من مقاومته، بعض الأحزان لم تأتِ لتقاتلنا ، بل لتعتصم حول جراحنا أمام الأقدار .”
— محمد حسن علوان

Which translates into :
“Surrendering to sadness is sometimes braver than fighting it, some sorrows did not come to fight us but to surround (in protest?) our wounds in the face of out fate” by Mohamed Hassan Olwan

It is beautiful isn’t it?
We fight the sadness, we oppose the unhappiness, we resist anything that we think might make us feel sorrowful or upset. It is exactly what I was looking for because I was thinking ( I do a lot of thinking on my own ) about how sometimes our sad mood seem like they do not want to leave us. We fight them, we go out, meet with friends, eat French Fries, buy expensive shoes, and the list goes on but nothing seems to help. We fight the unhappiness instead of embracing it and accepting that it is here as part of the journey. Really, there is nothing wrong with being sad, unhappy or just plain down in the dumps. It is a phase and it will pass. If it doesn’t go see a therapist you might be depressed. In the depths of our souls we need sadness, because without sadness we would not be able to understand happiness. Ramadan is also a good time to sit down and accept the sadness and be grateful for it, as well as being grateful for the good things. That is the basic difference between 7amd and Shukr [الحمد و الشكر] you can only be thankful for good things, but 7amd is for both good and bad.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and if you sit down and look back you will easily find that many things that you considered catastrophes in your life were just speed bumps or road blocks that either slowed you down or made you reroute so you were kept you on the right track.

Give yourself permission to feel sad, accept that being sad is not always a bad thing. Concentrate on things that make you sad, and for each thing I am sure you can find 10 things that make you happy.

What happened with yesterday’s challenge?
It went ok, although I was grumpy for an hour before noon, then thankfully it all went away and now I am back to being cheerful bubbly smiling self.

On a side note, here’s a wonderfully scientific article (with references and sources, because I hate scientific articles without them) about the health benefits of fasting. It mentions health benefits that are rarely mentioned or attributed to fasting so be sure to read it.

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 2: Smiles}

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98

Doesn’t get much easier than that.

Just because you are fasting doesn’t mean that smiling will kill you.  Wake everyone up with a smile. Serve iftar with a smile.  And please please please spread the cheer, please please please spare us your grumpy facebook status updates and tweets.  Smile at the kids.  Smile at the sales counter lady even if she was slow.  Just smile at everyone, smiles are contagious and they are a sunnah.

What happened today with my patience challenge?

If you are curious, I was quite patient, I could have been more patient, but then again it is an ongoing process.

 

How was your first day of Ramadan?

30 Days of Ramadan Challenge {Day 1: Patience}

Well maybe 30 or 29, but let’s not get lost in the details and loose perspective OK?

Also to make things clear, I am a liberal feminist Muslim but we can all agree that Ramadan is a great time for cleansing the self and becoming a better person and a better Muslim.  This is my own personal challenge.  I like setting goals and I like going after them.  This Ramadan, I am going to look for 30 things that I would like to practice every day and I thought of inviting you all to join me.  I will be posting my  challenge the day before and then I will let you know how it went.

So since tomorrow is the first day of Ramadan (Ramadan Kareem to all of you) my first challenge is patience.

Patience and its derivatives was mentioned 103 times in the Quran
قال تعالى ( البقرة 155 ) : { ولنبلونكم بشيء من الخوف والجوع ونقص من الأموال والأنفس والثمرات وبشر الصابرين }

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient)”. (2:155

Day one is perfect for patience because everyone is so edgy, tired and hungry, not to mention thirsty this year with Ramadan in August.  I wasn’t fasting today and everything went exactly opposite to how I wanted it to and by the end of the day I was ready to jump out of the window.  If I were a more patient person, days like today might be easier to deal with.

يا رب إرزقني الصبر

God give me patience