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Fasting Week Two Thoughts

21 Jul

As-salam alaikum. About two weeks ago the entire Muslim ummah began our fasting. SubhanAllah, it’s been great and I’ve been able to pass through the days and take full advantage of them.

One of the things that concerned me the most wasn’t the fasting, but how I would manage my time in regards to reading the Qur’an, reading other Islamic books and reciting and trying to memorize parts of the Qur’an.

Surprisingly it’s gone quite well and I’ve succeeded so far in reading one juz of the Qur’an daily as well and having plenty of time for other things. What I like to do is read some Qur’an before or after my prayers, so that way I can have more dhikr or remembrance in Allah throughout the day.

Since I’m the only Muslim in my household, I was worried if I would be able to wake up every morning for suhoor. I wasn’t much of a morning person before reverting and even as a Muslim we all struggle to wake up for fajr. But Alhamdulillah I have woken up every morning on time, and have been able to have my suhoor or breakfast every day.

A week ago my father came to visit us. My parents are divorced and he lives about 4 hours away, so he always tries to visit us every 2 weeks. I was really hoping he would have come the Sunday before Ramadan began, but he ended up coming right in the middle of it all. I wasn’t concerned about having to fast and going with them to eat, but how was I going to tell him I was fasting? He doesn’t even know I’m Muslim, and quite frankly I’m not prepared to tell him it all just yet. My relationship with my father isn’t the best and since we barely see him, I don’t like to share much with him.

The smells were tantalizing. We decided to go to a mall in San José and I do have to admit my mouth was watering the whole time. However, after a while I got used to it and even forgot about the hunger. He was really worried why I wasn’t eating; he offered me everything there was, from chicken to chili to ice cream to even some mangos at a food stand there.

Finally, I told him in front of my brother, who didn’t know I was fasting, either. You see, I’m not going to go around telling everyone that I am. It’s something very personal and we fast to get closer to Allah, to control our bodily desires and to remember the poor and needy. It’s not to tell the entire world that you are fasting. Besides, they won’t understand, especially if they’re Christian. I did have to tell my mother as I knew she would get worried seeing me not eat all day (especially since I love to cook and make really delicious meals at lunchtime hehe).

So there I was, trying to explain to my father I was fasting.

Nobody really fasts here. There’s this so-called “fasting” during lent in Catholic religion where you abstain from meat for one entire day. Oh, and you can eat fish if you want instead. So, it’s not fasting for me. It’s just a day where you decide to be a vegetarian, but then decide not to and have fish instead.

So I was really worried what he would think. Would he think I was crazy? Or would he scold me and start blaming my mom about all this? I mean I’m 21 but he still doesn’t see me like an adult. But Alhamdulillah he took it quite well and even made a joke about it, how fasting was only for healthy people since he is a diabetic and wouldn’t be able to fast for too long.

Once I got home my mom asked right away what he said. I guess she has this idea in her mind that he would get angry at me or something. I didn’t mention to her that I hadn’t told him I was Muslim. I mean I did say quite clearly “in Islam…” but I don’t know if he associated that with his daughter being a Muslim or not. He didn’t ask any questions, so I didn’t bother to explain to him my personal decisions.

So Alhamdulillah Allah has truly been listening to my du’aas. Of course He always have, but I had taken it all for granted until past experiences that have shown me the mercy of Allah. We are truly blessed to be Muslim, if only others could realize this.

The rest of my fasting has gone quite well. Please share your own personal experiences on the comment section if you’d like.

Strangely, I really don’t get hungry when maghrib comes. I know it’s strange, as everyone is gorging themselves with food, but I don’t know why I don’t get hungry. Maybe it has to do with the fact that maghrib here is at 6:00 p.m. and everywhere else it’s around 8:00 or 9:00. But honestly I don’t feel hungry even at that time. Do you get really hungry when maghrib comes? Let me know if it’s not just me that this happens to.

One night a cousin came, so I broke my fast with some water and started to prepare some food afterwards. We ended up having dinner around 8:30 p.m. and I really wasn’t feeling like extremely hungry. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I have my mind on other things and not so concerned about the hunger.

May Allah reward you this Ramadan and bless us and protect us from the evils of Shaytaan. May Allah accept our fasting and our salat, and insha’Allah may He reward us Jannah. Ameen.

Chao!

Video

Juz 11 commentary on Qur’anic Gems

19 Jul

Jumm’ah Mubarak everyone.
Never should we feel disappointed by all the insults out there on Islam, because the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) never let this distract him from his true message: to spread Islam.

Fasting Day Two thoughts

10 Jul

Happy Ramadan to all! I myself started fasting yesterday, so today’s fasting quite surprisingly has felt a bit more difficult. Maybe due to the fact that my cousins from the states came over yesterday and spending all afternoon with them made me forget about the hunger and thirst.

It was only during that last hour before breaking my fast that I got a bit light headed and really started to feel the effects of not eating.

What really bothered me the first day were the headaches during the afternoon. I’ve read that’s due to dehydration, so today I drank two cups of water instead of just one to ensure that I don’t get them that badly today. Insha’Allah.

Needless to mention, my mother wasn’t very supportive about this yesterday. I was helping her cook last night, and it was only about 10 minutes till I could break my fast that she had to ruin it all for me. I was telling her what a sacrifice it is to fast and all the reward you get from it.

Her reply, you may ask? “I don’t find the logic in it. For me it’s useless.”

Way to go mother. Way to kill all my happiness for ikftar. Seriously, couldn’t you have saved that answer until after I had eaten?

I felt so sad, like a huge knot in my throat, after seeing her reaction. She has never fasted a day in her life, how can she ever know what it’s like to fast and all the hunger pains you go through?

Even when I told her that she didn’t know what it’s like to fast, she answered the contrary and said, “Oh, I have.”

Yes, let’s think for a moment you have, I thought to myself, but not for this many hours a day. And especially not for the sake of Allah. Maybe you’ve done if for a doctor’s appointment, or to lose weight, but I knew she has never done it for God. She even said to me how silly it is to fast for God.

I broke my fast with some water, ate enough to get me a bit full, and left to pray Maghrib. Alhamdulillah I didn’t say anything to her, even though the tears were inevitable. Her attitude towards me is pretty hard to deal with to be honest, but I know she speaks out of her ignorance towards Islam.

Paradise lies at the feet of your mother. No matter what your mother may say, what insult she may throw at you, or what nasty comment is directed to you, just keep your cool and remain silent. You don’t want to end up fighting with her over something only you can truly feel inside.

Well enough about that.

What I really wanted to concentrate on is the mental part. Instead of making it a fasting focused on the hunger (and all the whining you do internally), I’ve organized my time on spending as much of it on the Qur’an.

Seeing all these posts about the physical part of Ramadan, which is abstaining from food and drink and sexual intercourse during the daylight hours, I’ve felt there isn’t enough emphasis on our own selves about the main purpose of Ramadan.

Today I’m on the 3rd juz (section) of the Qur’an. I started reading the Qur’an on Monday, began my fasting Tuesday, and now I’m on the third part as planned Alhamdulillah.

Yesterday’s part was very intriguing. It talked about fasting and what is prescribed for us.

This morning, right after fajr I sat down and read about 8 pages of the first juz. The ayat that I liked was Ayat ul Kursi. The message behind it is incredible;  it is the basic understanding of who is Allah and where is Allah. I’m no scholar on this, but if you’d like to find a tasfeer on this ayat please do, as it is very important to understand what we are saying as we recite.

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Also, there is a tasfeer on Surah al Mulk on SistersOfSunnah.org today at 2:00 p.m. Costa Rican time (4:00 p.m. EST) if you’d like to join.

May this Ramadan be an opportunity for you to ask Allah (subhana wa ta’aala) for forgiveness and seek his refuge from Shaytaan.

Ameen.

What are your goals for this Ramadan?

9 Jul

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Ramadan Mubarak to all! As opposed to what the masjid here has confirmed of Ramadan beginning tomorrow, it has been approved by numerous organizations here in the American Continent and other parts of the world that the moon sighting was last night and that Ramadan has officially started on our side of the world. Subhanallah!

I really pray to Allah that we can take the most out of this Ramadan, whether you were raised a Muslim, or have reverted to Islam, Ramadan is still the same sacred and holy month worldwide. I think that many reverts learn to really appreciate this month because we know what it’s like to not be Muslim, and to not worship Allah (subhana wa ta’aala) often. As a Christian, I used to skip attending church on Sunday just out of laziness because I knew there wasn’t any bad outcome of it if I didn’t go. As opposed to this belief, Muslim men are obliged to attend Jummah prayer at the masjid because of the great reward there is behind it.

We all should learn to not take for granted Ramadan. Sometimes we want to do so much that we can’t really stick to our goals. As a means to facilitate this for you, I’ve decided to write down the three main goals you should stick to during this Ramadan.

Of course we must remember that we have to accomplish our obligatory actions, which is salat (prayer) and sawm (fasting).

But why should we keep these goals for Ramadan? Why shouldn’t we just lay on the couch all day watching TV or playing video games? Why should we keep goals if I’m fasting anyways?

We must learn to not be like the hypocrites, that are a certain way with certain people, and then are different when they are alone and no one is watching. Also, we must remember what is said in the Qur’an:

Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof, and they will not be wronged [al-An’aam 6:160].

So if our good deeds are multiplied by ten during any time of the year, imagine the reward we will get out of them if we accomplish good deeds in Ramadan! Subhanallah. This verse is also a sign of mercy from Allah (swt), as he does not multiply our evil deeds, but does so only with our good deeds.

  • Goal # 1: Read the entire Qur’an

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The first and foremost goal we should all set for ourselves this Ramadan is to read the Qur’an. As I mentioned in my previous article, Ramadan is not about fasting, but instead it’s about the Qur’an. If we keep it a habit to read the Qur’an during Ramadan, we will seek the guidance of the Qur’an after this month as well.

Reading the entire Qur’an during Ramadan is also Sunnah. The sahaabah (followers of the Prophet salalahu alayhi wa salaam) would read the Qur’an a great deal during Ramadan. For example, some would even complete the Qur’an every seven nights, and during Ramadan every three nights, and then every two nights during the last ten days of Ramadan.

So if they could complete the Qur’an in this time period, why can’t we complete one reading of the Qur’an in an entire month?

There is great benefit in the reading of the Qur’an. At-Tirmithee states:

Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah, he will have a reward. And that reward will be multiplied by ten.

Also, the Qur’an will intercede for us on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet (saws) said:

The Qur’an is an intercessor, something given permission to intercede, and it is rightfully believed in. Whoever puts it in front of him, it will lead him to Paradise; whoever puts it behind him, it will steer him to the Hellfire.” [An authentic hadith found in At-Tabaraanee, on the authority of ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood]

There are many more benefits on reading the Qur’an. The reasons to read it this Ramadan are more than enough.

  • Goal # 2: Memorize an entire Surah

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I had mentioned this on my previous article, and it is a goal I plan to accomplish. A great way to help you stick to it is by finding yourself a friend that can help you achieve this challenge.

One way I learn things by memory is by reciting it about 8 or more times until I can finally recite it without having to look at it. I gues this is because I have photographic memory and everything I see I will remember. If you are someone that learns faster by hearing it, then playing it on your iPod or phone as many times as possible will help you memorize it.

Start by learning one ayat per day. As you advance throughout the month, remember to always recite the previous ayats as to not forget them.

  • Goal # 3: Read a book of beneficial knowledge this Ramadan

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My final goal is to read a book that will help me be a better Muslim. A good book can be 40 Hadiths on the Islamic Personality by Shaykh ‘Alee Hasan ‘Alee ‘Abdul Hameed. If you read one hadith every day, reflect on it, and think about how you can practice this in your daily life, the benefits of it will be more than beneficial for you.

Again, I recommend you find someone that you can share this with you. Whether it be your husband, a sister or a family member that can help you, you will both be getting the rewards out of it and benefiting one another insha’Allah.

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I know the list is rather short, but it is better to stick to short, simple goals than to create a huge list of things that you won’t be able to achieve and end up feeling bad with yourself. The following hadith also explains the virtues of doing something consistently.

Indeed, the Mother of the Believers `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that “the most beloved action to Allah’s Apostle was that which is done continuously and regularly” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #469).

Insha’Allah this was beneficial for you. If you have any other goals please add them to the list on the comment section and share with other your goals for this Ramadan.

May Allah bless us this Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak!

Chao

Final Tips for Ramadan…

9 Jul

As-salaam alaikum everyone.

So the month of Ramadan has finally come – Alhamdulillah! – and insha’Allah you are more than prepared to take on this wonderful opportunity of mercy, forgiveness, and love from Allah (subhana wa ta’aala).

It seems like we were all expecting the month to begin tomorrow, July 9th, but as the moon was not sighted in Saudi Arabia, they have informed us that it will begin on Wednesday. In other words, Ramadan shall begin tomorrow night, with the first taraweeh prayers and the fasting will initiate on Wednesday insha’Allah. This has been confirmed in Costa Rica, so I’m not sure what the situation may be in your country.

Just a few tips to keep us motivated before we begin our fasting, and that insha’Allah we can take advantage of all the blessings given during Ramadan.

  • Don’t think about the fact that you’re hungry all the time.

I put this one up first because I know that many people will be thinking more on what’s not inside their belly than on more important matters. Not only will this make us waste valuable and precious time thinking and whining about our own selves than on the Qur’an, but also it will feed your ego. When you’re constantly thinking I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am sleepy, I, I, I… your unconsciously feeding your ego and distancing yourself from Allah (subhana wa ta’aala).

Remember the 800 million people on the face of this planet that don’t even have clean, fresh water, that can’t even have a bite to eat sometimes even during the whole day. When you are fasting, remember to make du’a for those that need it the most; for the hungry, the poor, the sick and those more in need of Allah’s mercy than us.

At least you’ll be able to eat something tonight, what about those millions that can’t? Take advantage of this sacred month and make du’a.

  • Divide the Qur’an up during the day instead of reading it in one sitting.

It’s easier to jog a mile every morning than to wake up one day and jog 10 miles. Not only will it be exhausting to read one juz or section of the Qur’an after a long day, but also you won’t be able to reflect on it sufficiently. If you divide the reading of the Qur’an during the day, you will be able to reflect more on what you read, think more about it and act upon the teachings of the Qur’an. Divide it up in a way that you read approximately 5 pages before salat, and 5 pages after each salat. That way you will be able to finish the entire Qur’an throughout the day, and reading 5 pages of Qur’an isn’t a whole lot.

If you work or are busy with your studies, then read some before starting your day (so that you can act upon it and reflect), during lunch break, and some more after work or school. Finally, save a good chunk of the juz for the night, when you’re relaxed and calm with your thoughts.

  • Make a goal to learn one new surah this Ramadan.

Whether it be big or small, the important thing is that you memorize it, know what you’re saying and stick to your task. Remember that the Prophet (salalahu alayhi wa’salaam) says that Allah (aza wajal) loves those that do something, no matter how small it may be, but are consistent on it. A sister and I have decided to memorize Surah Al Mulk, which is composed of 30 ayats, one for each day of Ramadan. If you’d like to join the challenge with us you are more than welcomed to, and if you can find a friend to take the task with you, that would be even better so that you can help each other out insha’Allah.

  • Remember why you are fasting.

Are you fasting to lose a few extra pounds on you? To quit your smoking habit or chill more on the amount of coffee you drink? Because everyone else is doing it and you don’t want to feel left out? If your reason for fasting is everything BUT to please Allah (swt), then your intentions are all upside down. Remember why Allah prescribed fasting for us, remember those that have no food on their plates, remember that Ramadan is a month in which we come closer to Allah and not distance ourselves from our Rabb, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, of our Sustainer, of our Lord. When you know exactly why you are fasting and have the good intention to, everything else will be easy for you insha’Allah.

  • Ramadan is not about fasting, it is about the Qur’an.

There are those that cannot fast, such as the sick, the poor, women that are pregnant or breastfeeding, etc. However, are these people exempt from the mercy and forgiveness of Allah during this month? Of course they aren’t. Even if we are fasting and have the health and possibilities to, Ramadan is not just a month of fasting. It was the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saws), and we must learn to make this month about the Qur’an and not about the fasting prescribed in it. Of course it is a huge factor that is part of the month, but truly the treasure in this month is the Qur’an itself and we must learn to meditate, study and actually sit down and read the Qur’an!

Ramadan Mubarak copy

So those were my simple yet informative tips for you before Ramadan begins. Insha’Allah you will benefit from them.

Just a heads up, this Ramadan since it is my first (Subhanallah for new reverts!), I’ve decided to share my experiences and stories along my Ramadan this year through here. It’s very important to keep a journal if you are new to fasting so that you can help yourself through the month. I encourage each and every one of you to keep a journal for Ramadan, to write in it and to save this so that you can look back at it throughout the years and remember your first, second, or any numbered Ramadan. 🙂

May Allah grant you guidance, wisdom and knowledge this Ramadan and the many months to come. May Allah (aza wajal) strengthen your emaan and bless your families, friends, and loved ones this Ramadan insha’Allah. Ameen.

Chao.

My Pre Ramadan To-Do List

4 Jul

set and reach goal concept

As a means to help others out there who aren’t quite sure what they can do right before Ramadan begins, I’ve decided to share this list with you on things you can do just before Ramadan.

I know many people are too busy with work, school, children or other time consuming activities, so insha’Allah this list will help you prepare for Ramadan.

Before I begin, it’s important to highlight this following hadith:

Abu reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When half of Sha’ban remains, then do not fast.” [at-Tirmidhi]

Fasting this last week is not recommended. I had the intention of fasting a few weeks ago, but Alhamdulillah I found this hadith narrating the importance it is to not fast right before Ramadan.

Plan a food calendar.

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If this is your first Ramadan, or you are unsure of what to eat for suhoor and iftar, then plan ahead. Make sure to base your early breakfast – suhoor – around enough vitamins and nutrients to help you withstand the long hours of fasting throughout the day.

The Messenger of Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water. [Abu Dawud]

It was Sunnah (prophetic way) for the Prophet (saws) to break his fast with dates, and if they were not available then with water.

Watch Ramadan Prep series on QuranWeekly.com

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An easy way to help you learn before Ramadan, to prepare you and to spend some time remembering Allah ta’aala (dhikr) is by watching these informative videos. There is a new video up every night at 7:00 p.m. Costa Rican time if you are interested in watching them. You can look back to the previous 4 videos they have up to catch up, and they also have the videos from last year’s Ramadan Prep series if you’d like to learn from those as well. Insha’Allah we can learn how to prepare ourselves for Ramadan before it finally comes.

Learn a new Surah

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A great and simple way to improve yourself before Ramadan is by memorizing a part of the Qur’an.

Whether it be an ayat, or an entire Surah to recite in our Salat (prayers), it is very important to take advantage of this month and actually learn from the Qur’an.

How many people fast just with their bodies? The true fasting is that which is in the heart, abstaining from evil thoughts and devoting your time and effort to learning and acting upon the Qur’an.

This website will help you learn to memorize a Surah or Ayat of the Qur’an: www.MountHira.com

Hear a short Podcast from Bayyinah Institute.

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These small podcasts are free, and open to anyone in desire to improve their emaan.

I know that here in my country, the ummah is spread around the country in different parts. Therefore, I can’t indulge myself in the activities held in the masjid for distance and financial reasons, so what better way than to learn Qur’an through the Internet.

So far I’ve listened to the first 21 ayats of Surah Al Baqarah from two separate podcasts. They have helped me learn what these ayats truly hold, and the ustadh Nouman Ali Khan is a great teacher to obtain knowledge from.

Here is the link to the podcasts. Feel free to download or hear as many as you’d like. Just remember that it is better to hear a short 30 minutes per night than to try to hear 2 hours of tasfeer, which can be exhausting to the mind.

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/002-surah-al-baqarah/

Learn and practice du’aas

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Another simple way to prepare yourself for Ramadan is to practice easy du’aas before and after an action. Not only is this beneficial to you, but also you will learn to perform actions for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’aala) and achieve humbleness and taqwaa (fear or piety to Allah).

You can find tons of duaa’s online and websites that can help you memorize duaa’s.

I recommend you write them down, and hang them around your room for you to memorize them. For example the du’aa said when you wake up and before you go to bed you can hang next to your bed so you can remember to recite it. Or even saving them on your phone is a good idea.

I will leave you with a du’aa to help you retain whatever you listen to or read.

According to Imam Ali ibn abi Talib to retain in memory whatever one listens or reads, recite the following dua’a after every obligatory salat.

In the name of Allah the most kind the most merciful.

Glory be to Him who does not treat the citizens of His kingdom unjustly.

Glory be to Him who does not let the torment and pain come suddenly upon mankind.

Glory be to the compassionate the merciful.

O Allah, fill my heart with true enlightenment, wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

Surely you are able to do all things.

SUBH’AANA MAN LAA YA-TADEE AA’LAA AHLI MAMLAKATIHEE SUBH’AANA MAN LAA YAAKHUD’U AHLAL ARZ’I BILWAANIL A’D’AABI SUBH’AANAR RA-OOFIR RAH’EEMI ALLAAHUMMAJ-A’L LEE FEE QALBEE NOORAN WA BAS’ARAN WA FAHMAN WA I’LMAN INNAKA A’LAA KULLI SHAY-IN QADEER

Commit yourself to watching a Ramadan series video every day

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There are two Ramadan series I’ll be watching this Ramadan insha’Allah.

The first one is from Qur’an Weekly, called the Quranic Gems. You can watch the video on their website, and tune in every day to hear a specific part of the Juz for that day commented on. Here is the link to their website: http://www.quranweekly.com/quranic-gems-series-ramadan-special/

The second series I’ll be watching insha’Allah are live clases every day for the month of Ramadan. Here is the link, and you can enroll for free with your name and e-mail account. http://www.ramadanwithquran.com

Insha’Allah you can enroll as well. If you have any other series we can watch for Ramadan please link in the comment section for others to benefit from.

Make voluntary prayers

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We all know we are obliged to complete our fard prayers every day. Another simple yet rewarding way to improve your emaan is to also make Sunnah prayers when you perform your Salat. Not only will this help you strengthen your connection and taqwaa with Allah (swt), but when you are feeling down or spiritually low, you will sacrifice making your Sunnah or voluntary prayers, but not sacrifice your fard prayers.

When Ramadan comes, you will be performing your five salat, and on top of that making voluntary prayers as well. Thus, your emaan will grow insha’Allah.

Our prayer will be the first thing questioned upon on the day of Judgment. Allah (swt) says in the following hadith:

The Messenger (S.A.W.) told us in an authentic hadith , “The first thing the people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer, Allah will say to His angels (even though he already knows) : “Look at my servants prayers. Were they complete or not?” If they were complete It will be written as complete. If they were not fully complete Allah will say: “See if my servant has voluntary prayers, If he has them Allah will say: Complete his obligatory prayers shortage with his voluntary prayers.” Then the rest of his deeds will be dealt with in the same manner.” {Reported by Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nisa’i, and Al-Hakim}

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Insha’Allah this list will help you improve your emaan and help yourself prepare for Ramadan.

Remember that fasting without true emaan and having true intentions, is not the same as if you just fasted with your body. Fasting is far more than abstaining from food and drink. It is also a means for you to come closer to Allah, to fast with the heart and for the intention to be only for the sake of Allah.

“and fast, it is better for you, if only you knew” [al-Baqarah, 2:184]