A Bid À Dieu

In the fleeting moments of the last fast of Ramadan, I became apprehensive, overcome with sadness as this beautiful month was coming to an end. I started prancing around my room trying to figure out how to make the best of the remaining minutes. I resolved to making dua, which is basically a conversation with Allah. I asked the all mighty to accept my duas, prayers and fasts while forgiving any sins I may have committed knowingly and unknowingly. I wished I had done a lot more worship during this Ramadan, all of a sudden it felt like I hadn’t done enough. I wondered if I’d be amongst those blessed with the lifespan to experience another Ramadan. As my mind was flooded with such thoughts, my eyes welled up with tears. I started to cry as my final appeal to God to accept my deeds from this holy month. I heard the call to pray signalling the time to break fast, the last fast of Ramadan.

Farewell Ramadan, you have been good to me, showed me what I am capable of achieving, pushed the limits I had set for myself, transforming me into a better being. I shall return the favour by embodying the virtues you have taught me.

Inshallah, see you next year!

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The Significance of Laylat al-Qadr

My little sister wrote the following essay for a competition:

Ramadan is the holy month of Islam. It is the month where the Quran was revealed to our mankind for guidance to Jannah. It’s the generous month where our good deeds, our worship to Allah, and our charity acts are multiplied. Moreover, the gates of Jannah are unlocked, the gates of Jahannam are closed, and Satan is tied up. Fasting is an obligatory act for Muslims to retain from eating or drinking from before the starting of dawn, till the sunsets. Ramadan isn’t just for humans to experience thirst and hunger, it is to stay away from un-Islamic possessions and become devout. Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Whoever fasted Ramadan out of belief in it and sincerely seeking the reward from Allah, all his past wrong doings will be forgiven”.

In this particular month it includes a sacred night, Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Power), which is a night that is better than a thousand months. This night has a big significance in Islam. This is the night where the very first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), when the angels were sent down, and the night where your destiny is written.  Allah revealed the whole Quran from the preserved tablet, to the lower heaven. From the lower heaven, few verses of the Quran were revealed in the span of 23 years. The Quran was revealed through Angel Jibril in Mount Hira, the mountain that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) went to meditate.  Angel Jibril asked Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) three times to read the verses of the Quran, but each time he answered saying, “I don’t know how to read.” Each time Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) didn’t read the verses, Angel Jibril would vigorously press him against his chest until he couldn’t tolerate the pain. The fourth time he was asked, our Messenger recited, “Read, in the name of your Lord, who created: the human being from clotted blood. Read, for your Lord is Most Generous, who taught by the pen, taught the human being what he did not know.” Surat al-‘Alaq [96]. After this, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) received the revelation and went home. He told his wife, Khadija that he was crazy or he became one of the Messengers of Allah. He realized he was definitely a prophet when Angel Jibril kept visiting him.

On this extraordinary night, Allah accepts all the duaas asked by his slaves, and forgives all the people with the intentions to absolve. On Laylat al-Qadr, believers should stay up all night and pray with the right intentions since it’s the holiest night of the year. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) worshipped Allah on the last 10 nights like he has never done before by praying, making dhikr, reading the Quran, and making duaa continuously. If a person misses one blessed night, they’ve missed out on a lot of rewards. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Whoever spends the night of Laylat al-Qadr in prayer out of faith and seeking reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” Plus, whoever takes the time to pray all night for Laylat al-Qadr, and if it is actually the night of Laylat al-Qadr, his previous and future sins will be dismissed. Furthermore, on Laylat al-Qadr, Allah tells his angels what will happen throughout this year (this Laylat al-Qadr to the next Laylat al-Qadr). Some Muslims perform Itikaf in a masjid by remaining in the mosque for the last 10 days to pray and recite the Quran. Laylat al-Qadr can be on any of the last five odd nights of Ramadan (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th, and 29th). When Prophet (S.A.W.) was going to tell the Muslims when the day of Laylat al-Qadr was, he witnessed two men bickering with each other and forgot what he was going to say.  The rationale of why no one knows when Laylat al-Qadr is because Allah wants us to praise Him throughout the last 10 days of Ramadan. A person can find out if it was Laylat al-Qadr after it has passed. If the sun appears weak, reddish, and has no sunrays, the night before was Laylat al-Qadr.

This is beneficial after Ramadan because we become more pious. One gains taqwa by fearing Allah and staying away from the deeds that upset Allah. When we recite and reflect the Quran and pray Taraweeh it drew us closer to Allah. It takes a lot of patience to fast and give up eating and drinking. People become more charitable by donating money, making food for others, and even smiling. Fasting has medical benefits too because it teaches Muslims to take care of their bodies.  All in all, if a person is accustomed to these qualities in the month of Ramadan, this person can also continue being a deferential believer that feels closer to Allah and wants to cherish Him even more after Ramadan. One can change for the better.

-N.W. Khan

UPDATE : She won second place, only 4 marks behind the winner. She received $50 as the prize money! 

This maybe the VERY last 10 days, last Ramadan…

It has been a very emotional Ramadan for me, a very teary one. Each Ramadan is somewhat different than the previous one, but this year specifically has uniqueness unmatched to its predecessors. My uncle (Mother’s elder brother) suddenly passed away in March. The days leading up to Ramadan, I would be overcome with the realization that he is no longer alive and my eyes would well up with tears. I cried for the first time ever during the first day of Taraweeh (night prayers during Ramadan) as I was engulfed in thoughts of my uncle, who we were supposed to finally meet this Ramadan after 10 long years.

He had moved to the states about 6 years ago to work a menial job at a gas station on top of the hills in Clearwater, California. He lived alone, worked long tiring hours, 6 days a week, rarely had proper meals, neglected his health and his well-being just so he can provide for his wife and kids back home in India. His only source of happiness, comfort and motivation were the few minutes he spent talking to his wife, kids and mother every day after work.

Ramadan 2011 was a joyous one for my uncle as he finally got his green card, something he had been fighting for. We were all happy, it meant that he could go back to visit his family. My family lives in Toronto, Canada and we are the closest relatives in terms of geographical proximity. Mom and I tried to plan a trip to California about a year ago. But my uncle told us not to come as he was literally living in the middle of nowhere and had no means of hosting us. He said he will come visit us in Canada on his way to India, Inshallah (God Willing)…but Allah never willed it.

He had finally gotten another job and moved to Vallejo, CA five days before he passed away. Now he was living with some family friends. The job was easier, the boss was nicer and more importantly he had access to a Masjid. In Clearwater, due to the long hours, dictator like manager and the lack of Masjid, my Uncle did not get to pray properly. It had greatly saddened him that he couldn’t pray Jummu’ah  (Friday Prayers). So he was extremely content when he moved into Vallejo on a Thursday and attended Jummu’ah the next day. Little did he know, that would be his very last Jummu’ah as he would pass away the next Tuesday.

Overcoming many obstacles and unlikelihood, Mom and I flew to California to arrange/attend my uncle’s funeral. My grandma, aunt and cousins were eagerly awaiting this Ramadan so they can finally see their son/husband/father after 6 years. My mom had thought her elder brother would come visit her in Toronto and they would finally meet after 10 years. Instead, Mom and I saw him wrapped in three pieces of white shroud, lying in a coffin, ready to be transported to the burial ground right after the Janazah prayer. And all his loved ones, relatives and friends back in India got one last glimpse of him from the video of the Janazah that was streamed online.

Last Ramadan, I had been very disappointed with myself in regards to how I had spent the month, basically I wasted it as I did not gain anything spiritually. I told myself that I will make it up next year. Allhamdullilah (Praise be to God), I had never been happier to be alive to experience another Ramadan.  We all think there will always be a ‘next year’.  However, I learned this year that we should think, ‘What if this was our LAST Ramadan?!?!’. The last 10 days are upon us and it is this thought that should motivate us through it. In the spirit of the Olympics, go for GOLD, aim for JANNAH.