10 Tips for the 10 Nights

The last blessed nights of Ramadan are upon us! Sadly, I have not been making the most of this Ramadan.
In between moving, work and running after my active tarzan toddler, I can’t seem to be very productive.  After talking with other moms, I guess they too feel the same frustration. I have  tried to compile some easy  ways in which we can try to make the most of these last few days/nights of Ramadan.

*Indicates things that can even be done when a woman can’t pray.

*1. Iftar: When preparing Iftar, make a little more and drop it off at the masjid.  The people sitting in itikaaf or spending the night in Qiyam-ul-layl can have food to munch on.  You can even leave energetic food items such as gatorade, granola bars and fruits to give them the energy to spend the night in ibadah.  For suhoor: You can buy breakfast items such as bread, butter, juice and bagels and leave them in the refrigerator in the masjid.

*2. Bathing Every Night: Ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabari mentioned that of the Salaf who used to encourage bathing every night of the last ten nights of Ramadan, and Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’i was among those who bathed every night. Others used to bathe on those nights which they expected was laylat’l-qadr. It was reported that Anas b. Mālik would bathe, apply perfume and dress in his finest on the night of the 24th of Ramadan and every night. Ayyūb al-Sukhtiyāni would bathe on the nights of the 23rd and 24th and wear new clothes for these nights and fragrance himself with incense. It was also transmitted that Thābit al-Banāni and Hamid al-Tawil would dress in their best and apply fragrance during these ten nights.

*3.  Clean-up: Depending on your children, if you can manage to go to the masjid during the day then try to do a quick clean up of the musallah, hallways and bathroom.  Usually during this time the bathrooms are trashed, so it would be a big help to just throw away any paper towels or tissues.  On that note, it may even be a good idea to donate bottles of soap, paper towels or tissue.  Not all masjids are good about refilling, therefore us spending a few dollars can go a long way.

*4. Quran: Either before or after Fajr is a nice quiet time to sit and recite Quran.  Even during the day you can play the Quran while performing other tasks.

5. Sunnah or Nafil prayers: This may be easier to do since a person can pray before or after the obligatory prayers. Narrated by Muslim, “A house will be built in paradise for every Muslim who offers twelve Rak’ah of optional salah other than the obligatory salah in day and night, to seek pleasure of Allah.” Here is a source on the excellence of praying Sunnah.http://islamqa.info/en/ref/12844

6. Tahajjud: All it takes is 5 minutes (depending on the Surah), just get up 5 minutes before and do Tahajjud.  Abu Hurayrah (RA), related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: When the last one-third of the night remains, our Lord, the Glorious One descends towards the heaven of the earth & proclaims: Who is that who supplicates for Me, & I grant his supplication? Who is that who begs Me for anything & I grant it to him? And who is that who seeks My forgiveness, & I forgive him? (Bukhari, Muslim).

7. Qiyam ul Layl: Spending the night in worship, If you can manage to squeeze in a nap during the day then do so that way you can have some energy to stay up at least even a portion of the night.  What works for me is to let my child watch television while I take a quick power nap on the couch.

*8. Adhan: download the adhan apps or listen to it on youtube (at the designated prayer times) and repeat the adhan and make du’a between the adhaan and iqaama. Duah during this time is not rejected.

9. Tahiyyatul Wudu – 2 Raka’ahs Sunnah after doing Wudu (Ablution)
Abu Hurayrah (RA) reported the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying to Bilal (RA): “Tell me about the best of your deeds (i.e. one which you deem the most rewarding) since your embracing Islam because I heard your footsteps in front of me in Paradise.” Bilal (RA) replied: “I do not consider any act of mine more rewarding than that whenever I make ablution at any time of night or day, I perform Prayer for as much as was destined for me to do.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)”

*10. Dhikr: As mention in a previous post, reciting these short words are extremely beneficial.
1. Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘annee – Recite this abundantly during the last ten nights of Ramadan.
2. Subhaanallah
3. Alhamdulillah
4. Allahu Akbar
5. Laa ilaaha illallah
6. LA HAWLA WA LA QUWWATA ILLA BILLAH-HIL ALIYYIL ADHEEM
7. AstaghfurAllah

You can even print out the Ramadhaan Planner to plan your time effectively.

May Allah SWT accept our fasts and good deeds Ameen

Something to be active about….

Reminiscing Ramadan

When I was younger and lived with my family Ramadan was so much fun, now that I have my own family I hope that I can also make Ramadan memories with my kids. My mom made Ramadan an incredibly happy month for us. She was the glue that held the family and our Ramadan traditions together, she would spare no detail when it came to both  the sehri and iftaar table spread and much to her dismay would even tolerate our cravings for  french fries, doughnuts, Mcflurries, and other things over her freshly cooked food.

The mornings were the hardest (still are) My sisters and I would wake up to find my mom fully awake and frying shami kababs and eggs. There were always fresh parathas but  we much preferred eating cereal or even a frozen waffle. Mom would be chirping along enjoying her breakfast while my sisters and our dad would be eating like zombies. Somehow no matter how early we would wake up we would always be running late on our sehri, Dad would be updating us on the time  and would give us a 5 minute and a 2 minute warning. The 5-minute warning went something like this:

The 5-minute warning:

Dad: 5 minutes left, where’s the water?

Mom: oh no I haven’t even finished my food.  Kids drink lots of water

Kids: ok mom

The 2-minute warning:

Dad: okay lets go, only 2 minutes left

Mom: okay let me drink my water

Dad: there’s very little time left

Mom: I have to drink my really large glass of water no matter what

Kids: Mom were going to brush our teeth

Mom: drink all of your water before you go!

Mom: OK stop drinking your water and go brush your teeth we have no time left!!

 After the 2-minute warning:

Mom: still finishing her water

Dad: thats it, your fast is not valid! its past time!

Mom: Nothings going to happen, im okay, just about done

There was a lot of water gulping and pushing as my sisters and I  made it to the bathroom to brush our teeth and make wudu. After Fajr we would be fully awake but would still attempt in vain to snuggle back in our beds to get a few minutes of sleep before waking up for school. The day would pass in school activites and when we would come back home, we would rest  for a  bit until iftaar time. Is it bad if food is the thing that keep coming to mind, when I think back on spending Ramadan with my family? The warm samosas, the tangy cholay (chickpeas), and the cold dahi baray (yogurt dumplings). What’s funny is that at that time none of those things were a big deal. Around iftaar time I would start hovering around the kitchen and would help prepare the Rooh Afzah while filling my mom in on what happened at school that day.

During Ramadan we would go to many iftaari’s and frequently visit  the Mosque, this was fun for me because I would get to catch up with all my friends. As the days of Ramadan progressed we would start thinking about Eid. Eid was HUGE, I mean there was nothing better than Eid, and its funny because on the actual Eid Day we didn’t do much but there was so much anticipation that half the fun was preparing for Eid. Eid preparations for us consisted of two things our annual Eid party and our eid outfits.

The Eid party was something we really enjoyed and it seemed like everyone in the community would be there! My mom would make a slew of different traditional Eid foods and then ask all three of her daughters to make either a dessert or an appetizer, I would be the slacker when it came to cooking and would rather clean than cook and I somehow got away with it. Our eid clothes were of the utmost importance to us. We would either save a shalwar kameez outfit from the ones our family in Karachi would send us, or we would make our own! Our mother would make it a project and take us to JoAnn’s to pick out the fabric we liked, then the buttons, etc. She would guide us and then eventually we would lose interest or would get bogged down with school work and she would finish them up for us. After the shalwar kameez was ready we would  pick out shoes and jewelry to complete our outfits.

One of my favorite memories is on eid morning  when our mom would wake us up and she would look at our mehndi and comment on how great the color came out, she would be wearing her Eid Shalwar, an oversized t-shirt and bangles. She would always change into her kurta at the very end so that the ironing doesn’t get ruined. Once we were all in the car we would all recite the Eid Tasbih which is one of my most favorite things to do. After Eid Prayers we would start hugging everyone around us with a 3 embrace rule – while saying  Eid Mubarak all three of those times!

We would seek out our mom and she would be so happy to see us in our full eid outfits. After that we would meet all of the aunties in our community, who would be genuinely pleased to see us looking our best. I would hang out with my friends and we would be inseparable, Aleya, Kiren, Tahirah these were a few of my friends that I grew up with and we would make our way around the Mosque meeting our families and other community members. Our family was among the last ones to leave the Mosque because my dad would always help to count the Fitra money that the Mosque had collected.

We would then go to my friend Kiren’s house for an Eid breakfast, from there on, we would hop from house to house and eat all kinds of food. My friends and I would always try to stay together or plan out the day to see whose house we would meet up at next. It wasn’t that we were ever doing something very special but I remember having a blast. One of the uncles that we knew would be standing at the door with a stack of bills.  As children entered in the house he would give them a dollar. At about 5:00 after a full day of party hopping, we would make the long trek from Jacksonville  back to Orange Park and would immediately start preparing for the big dinner at our place.

We would do a Bollywood style outfit change and get ready to start hugging and greeting our guests with the traditional three time Eid Mubarak! Over the years we’ve had many different versions of Eid, but with the same pattern I described above, as we got older and my friends started driving we began going out in the evenings and meeting up our friends to get ice cream or go to a movie. One year Eid coincided with the release of the animated movie” The Last Messenger”  and the entire community was found at the movies.

Ramadan and Eid have definitely changed maybe because I’m older and I have my own family now,  but one thing is for certain that at the start of every Ramadan I become nostalgic for the Ramadan I spent as a child. I reminice about the days when I would go to the  Islamic Center of Northeast Florida and recognize every single person at the Mosque, of the times when our Dad would lead us in prayers and when I would wake up to my Mom’s excited exclamation of, “Eid Mubarak, today is Eid!”