Friday, August 27, 2010

Why forgive Others this Ramadan?

The Prophet Muhammad (saws) said: Musa, the son of Imran once asked, "Oh my Lord! Who is the most honorable of Your servants? And He replied, the person who forgives even when he is in a position of power" (Baihaqi). Peace and blessings be upon the Prophet.

You know you're right.

You know what I'm referring to - those times when you get into an argument(s) with a family member, friend, boss, employee, coworker, classmate, teacher or whoever. You know your facts are right or that you've been wronged with an insulting remark, sarcastic comment or rudeness.

And so, you choose to hold a grudge. After all, you've got a right to. Nobody should be treated this way. Why should you forgive? You're not the one who started this. You're not the one who doesn't have the facts straight.

True. You may be right. You may be in that position of power mentioned in the Hadith above. But forgiving others, apart from positively affecting our health (less stress) and our minds (one less negative thing to focus on), is a necessary step to closeness to God.

How can we move up the ladder of spiritual development when we hold bitterness and anger towards another person? While we may have been in the right, is it worth sacrificing our energy on a grudge instead of on growth?

Is there not something strange about asking for God's forgiveness of our sins while withholding our forgiveness from someone who has hurt us?

One of the distinguishing features of Ramadan is forgiveness. The Prophet explained in one Hadith that Ramadan is a month whose beginning is Mercy, whose middle is Forgiveness and whose end is freedom from the Hellfire. This makes it a great time to ask God for His Forgiveness. It's also a wonderful time to open our hearts and cleanse them of grudges and bitterness by forgiving others.

The path to connection to God is always paved with tests and difficulties. Nobody gains spiritual upliftment without having to prove their mettle. This process includes facing all kinds of hardships, including injustice at the hands of others.

If we truly want Allah's love, mercy and forgiveness, we must remember that the hurts of this world are temporary, and we are working towards that which is permanent. Is it worth being bitter and stunting our growth? Will it really benefit us? How will our anger and bitterness change the person who has hurt us?

Let us use these remaining days of forgiveness this Ramadan to open our hearts to those who have wronged us and forgive them as we beg Allah to forgive us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Family and Ramadhan

Ramadan has been called the month of the Quran, since it was during this month that Allah began revealing the Holy Book to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Most Muslims try to finish one reading of the whole Quran during this month individually. But it's also a good idea to get the whole family in on this effort.

One Chicago Muslim family this year has decided to keep up this goal with its youngest member, who is eight years old. This young Muslim is aiming to finish his first ever reading of the whole Quran by the end of Ramadan.

To get the whole family involved in reading more Quran this year during the blessed month, here are some tips:

1.Decide how much of the Quran to read daily

One of the keys to reading the Quran for completion is to establish small, attainable, daily goals. For instance, have everyone aim to read one-quarter, or ten lines of the Quran daily. While this may mean finishing the Quran after Ramadan, it will, however, put in place a system that can continue after the month is over.

2.Read part of the Quran together every day

An ideal time is before bed, when everyone is in a calmer mood and food, chores, and homework are out of the way. Sit together and recite part of the Quran. It does not have to be the daily target, but just a small portion so everyone is keeping track with each other.

3.Have a Quran family meeting every week

Make this a party. After Iftar on say, a Saturday or Sunday, following a delicious meal in a Muslim restaurant or at home, have everyone share how much of the Quran they have covered.

4.Come up with a Quran reading chart

Get the younger kids to decorate theirs with stickers, etc. Then hang it up on the fridge or family bulletin board where everyone can see. Have one person in charge of keeping track of everyone's progress and noting it on the chart. This visual reminder can encourage and make everyone more determined to reach their goals for the Quran this Ramadan.

5.Listen to the Quran in the car

If your family drives together to school and work, use this as an opportunity to listen to the Quran on cassette or CD together. Rotate the schedule so that on day one, the verses that mom is reciting are listened to, on day two one of the kids' selections are heard, etc.

6.Encourage everyone to start a Quranic journal

This will encourage everyone to not just read the Quran, but to also attempt to understand at least some of what they are reading. Encourage family members to share entries if they feel comfortable during the Quran family meetings.

7.Establish a Quran reading corner for each family member

Have each family member choose the place they feel most comfortable to read the Quran daily. It could be the place they normally do their homework, or it could be somewhere not associated with academics. Make sure the place is comfortable and pleasant, with enough heat and light. You can also hang up some verses of the Quran drawn in beautiful calligraphy or post the Quran reading chart in the vicinity.

8.Offer incentives

These need to be in accordance with the ages and interests of everyone involved. For kids, this can be a toy or candy. For teens, permission to use the family car or a slight increase in their weekly allowance may be helpful. For mom and dad, a night out alone together. The purpose is to make the process enjoyable and to help family members look forward to a short-term reward for their Quran reading.

9.Help each other memorize too

While you're reading more of the Quran this month, try to get everyone involved in at least some memorization of the Blessed Book while you're at it. One way is for family members to break up into groups of two and test each other's memorization of some of the Surahs (chapters). You could also use the family meeting time to cover some memorization.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food Tips During Ramadhan part 2

Below are Dr. Haffejee's recommendations for a Ramadhan diet:


Fried and fatty foods.Foods containing too much sugar.Over-eating especially at suhoor.Too much tea at suhoor: Tea makes you pass more urine taking with itvaluable mineral salts that your body would need during the day.Smoking cigarettes: If you cannot give up smoking, cut down graduallystarting a few weeks before Ramadhan. Smoking is unhealthy and one should stop completely.


Complex carbohydrates at suhoor so that the food lasts longer makingyou less hungry.Dates are excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassiumand magnesium.Almonds are rich in protein and fibre with less fat.Bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates.


As much water or fruit juices as possible between iftar and bedtime so that your body may adjust fluid levels in time.

Below, Dr. Haffejee has listed common health issues faced in Ramadhan, their causes, and their remedies:


Constipation can cause piles (haemorrhoids), fissures (painful cracksin anal canal) and indigestion with a bloated feeling.

Causes: Too much refined foods, too little water and not enough fibrein the diet.

Remedy: Avoid excessive refined foods, increase water intake, use bran in baking and brown flour when making flatbread.


Causes: Over-eating. Too many fried and fatty foods, spicy foods, andfoods that produce wind e.g. eggs, cabbage, lentils. Carbonated drinks like Cola also produce gas.

Remedy: Do not over-eat, drink fruit juices or better still, drinkwater. Avoid fried foods, add ajmor to wind-producing foods.

LETHARGY ('low blood pressure')

Excessive sweating, weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, dizziness,especially on getting up from sitting position, pale appearance andfeeling faint are symptoms associated with "low blood pressure". Thistends to occur towards the afternoon.

Causes: Too little fluid intake, decreased salt intake.

Remedy: Keep cool, increase fluid and salt intake.

Caution: Low blood pressure should be confirmed by taking a bloodpressure reading when symptoms are present. Persons with high blood pressure may need their medication adjusted during Ramadhan. They should consult their doctor.


Causes: Caffeine and tobacco-withdrawal, doing too much in one day, lack of sleep, and hunger. Usually occur as the day goes by andworsens at the end of the day. When associated with "low bloodpressure", the headache can be quite severe and can also cause nausea before Iftar.

Remedy: Cut down caffeine and tobacco slowly starting a week or twobefore Ramadhan. Herbal and caffeine-free teas may be substituted.Reorganise your schedule during the Ramadan to have adequate sleep.


Weakness, dizziness, tiredness, poor concentration, perspiring easily,feeling shaky (tremor), unable to perform physical activities,headache, palpitations are symptoms of low blood sugar.

Causes (in non-diabetics): Having too much sugar i.e. refinedcarbohydrates especially at suhoor. The body produces too much insulin causing the blood glucose to drop.

Remedy: Eat something at suhoor and limit sugar-containing foods and drinks.

Caution: Diabetics may need to adjust their medication in Ramadhan.Consult your doctor.


Causes: Inadequate intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium foods.

Remedy: Eat foods rich in the above minerals e.g. vegetables, fruit,dairy products, meat and dates.

Caution: Those on high blood pressure medication and with kidney stone problems should consult their doctor.


Increased acid levels in the empty stomach in Ramadhan aggravate the above conditions. It presents a burning feeling in the stomach areaunder the ribs and can extend up to the throat. Spicy foods, coffee,and Cola drinks worsen these conditions.

Medications are available to control acid levels in the stomach.People with proven peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia should consulttheir doctor well before Ramadhan.


Kidney stones may occur in people who have less liquids to drink.Therefore, it is essential to drink extra liquids to prevent stoneformation.


Causes: During Ramadhan, when extra Salah are performed, the pressure on the knee joints increases. In the elderly and those with arthritis, this may result in pain, stiffness, swelling and discomfort.

Remedy: Lose weight so that the knees do not have to carry any extraload. Exercise the lower limbs before Ramadhan so that they can beprepared for the additional strain. Being physically fit allowsgreater fulfillment, thus enabling one to be able to perform Salah withease.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Food Tips During Ramadhan part 1

This article provides useful advice on how to avoid some common problems encountered in Ramadhan. If followed, it would enable one to fast comfortably and enjoy fully the spiritual benefits of Ramadhan.

Come Ramadhan, our diet is radically altered. Our meals get condensed in mornings and evenings, with no intake in-between for an extended period of time. For some of us, the intake of oily foods skyrockets. These changes in diet aren't well received by everyone.

Dr. Farouk Haffejee of the Islamic Medical Association of South Africa(Durban) has created a list of recommendations for dealing withRamadhan in a healthy fashion. They deal with common problems encountered in Ramadhan.

Dr. Haffejee suggests that in the month of Ramadhan, "our diet should not differ very much from our normal diet and should be as simple as possible." He says that our diet should maintain our normal weight, although he does mention that if one is over-weight, Ramadhan is a good time to shed some pounds.He also recommends foods that last longer."In view of the long hours of fasting, we should consume slow digesting foods including fibre containing-foods rather than fast-digesting foods. Slow digesting foods last up to 8 hours, while fast-digesting foods last for only 3 to 4 hours," writes Dr. Haffejee.

Slow-digesting foods are foods that contain grains and seeds such as barley, wheat, oats, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour, and unpolished rice. These are called complex carbohydrates.

Fast-burning foods are foods that contain ingredients such as sugar and white flour. They are called refined carbohydrates.

According to Dr. Haffejee, whole wheat, grains, seeds, vegetables (like green beans, peas, and spinach), fruit with skin, dried fruit(such as dried apricots, figs, prunes, and almonds) are all examples of fibre-containing foods.

Dr. Haffejee says that meals in Ramadhan should be well-balanced, and they should contain foods from each food group, such as fruits,vegetables, meat/chicken/fish, bread/cereals and dairy products.He discourages fried foods that some of us are addicted to.

"Fried foods are unhealthy and should be limited. They cause indigestion, heart-burn, and weight problems," Dr. Haffejee points out.

part 2 coming soon!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ramadhan and TV

By Anthea Davis

Watching TV and videos has become the most popular modern pastime for young people. Business people have made good use of this and are continually producing more and more exciting, enthralling films.
We can sit down to a smorgasbord of soap operas, live talk shows, scary films, horror films, science-fiction films, action films, old black-and-whites, or bloodthirsty revolting films—just about everything a depraved heart could desire. To be fair though, there are also informative programs, nature programs, documentaries, news, current affairs, and lots of other inspirational and enlightening programs.
There is so much to choose from that a person could sit in front of the TV all his life and still never watch all there is to watch. Is that however a noble pursuit? How much has TV come to dominate our lives? And how much of our talk is based around the latest film?Some people are not content to watch a film or program now and again but have reached the extent that they are addicted to watching TV. You might think this is a strange thing to say, but there are many people who cannot be in their home unless the TV is on, even in the background. As soon as they enter the house, on it goes.
If there happens to be an electricity cut they will move around feeling lost, not knowing what to do with themselves. Even reading a book, sewing, doing any kind of hobby, or sitting with friends is all done with the TV in the background. How many people, if you ask them “What are you doing tonight?” or “What did you do last weekend?” will answer, “Watching TV”?If you were to ask such people about this phenomenon of being glued to the TV, you’ll probably find that watching TV and video helps them to escape from reality. Is reality so bad that they have to escape from it? Or is it that they no longer recognize reality or don’t know how to deal with it?
How often have you heard about people who actually copy what they see on TV even to the extent that they might murder, plan a theft, rape, or do any other type of depraved behavior? So people say they are escaping from reality into the world of TV only to act out what they see there in their “reality.” It sounds strange. If watching TV helps people escape the reality around them, which they perceive to be uncomfortable or even unbearable for them, then in this way it acts like drugs and alcohol to a certain extent, numbing the brain and the senses.
The film plays with their emotions and leads them to excited heights or lets them drop to the depths of despair. Films play with us—forming our ideas, engaging our emotions, and mostly, wasting our time.The questions are, why can’t we use things in moderation? Why do people get addicted to something that harms them?
Surely, since TV and videos are part of a massive market and money-making enterprise, the supply will fit the demand. If people demand quality programs, they’ll get them. Is it that TV has become a reflection of ourselves?People are often driven by their desires; that’s why some people overeat and others might oversleep, or practice other kinds of extreme behavior. It’s up to us to work on our behavior and channel our energy into things that do us good, instead of harm.
So you have to decide whether the amount of video and TV you watch is just a pastime or if it has started to turn into something else. You control the on/off switch. But if you are going to make TV play only a small part in your life, then you must replace it with something else—something beneficial for you.The month of Ramadan is the perfect time to make a fresh start in every aspect of your life. I know of many people who really turned their lives around in Ramadan, with the help of Allah Almighty.
One person gave up smoking, another person started performing prayers on time, and this lasted far beyond the time of Ramadan. Another person I met gave up old friends who were influencing her in a negative way. She used the time and opportunity in Ramadan to meet new friends in the mosque, and those friendships have lasted.Since we know that TV and videos now dominate the lives of so many young people around the world, it is then our responsibility to question ourselves on how we use these technological devices.
They can be a means to learn, to gain experience, to see the perspectives of different people; but they can also be used to help waste our time, which is so very precious. But if you feel that videos and TV are crowding you in your life and you want to decrease their role, then use Ramadan as a starting point.
So here is the challenge. Switch off the TV during Ramadan. I mean don’t switch it on at all! After that, you will be left with only yourself and your reality. How will you feel? How will you pass your time? If you think this will be difficult, then why not get a few friends together and help each other out by reminding and encouraging each other. At the same time, encourage filling your time, the time you would have spent watching TV, in doing something beneficial. Here are some ideas:

  • Set aside some time every day to read Qur’an.
    Help out more in your home.
    Spend time with your brothers and sisters.
    Visit friends who are good for you.
    Read! Make sure it is something from which you’ll learn something.
    Take up a hobby like any kind of craft, collecting things, and so on.
  • Get a CD about some Islamic subject.
Any other ideas?
Ramadan is all about drawing closer to Allah. It’s about shaking off the bad habits that slow us down in developing in our lives and becoming better people. Ramadan is also about learning self-control. By restraining and controlling yourself, you also learn more about yourself and all the wonderful hidden strengths and abilities that lie hidden within you.
Isn’t it a pity that some people have all that potential, all that strength, all those abilities, but they lie rotting, wasting away in front of a TV!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


1. Always remember the reason you got married. (if this was a wrong reason, renew your marriage with a better reason)

2. Respect each other; respect each other’s views and opinions even if you do not agree with them – just respect them.

3. Tackle problems with prayer and good intention.

4. The letter “I” really isn’t there in “we” or “us” or “our”.

5. Leave dangerous thoughts in a faraway garbage bin before you enter your home, and don’t go searching for them when you leave the house either. (Dangerous thoughts being cheating, negative thoughts about your spouse, if only my wife/husband could be like her/him..., stress etc)

6. Never forget the words – I love you, thank you, please, I am sorry, and what I can do to make it better.

7. Always be a helpful hand rather than a criticising one.

8. Listen with love than just your ears, sometimes the heart hears well.

9. Always show interest in your spouse’s activities. (NO, this does not include spying O.O)

10. Always keep things fresh, surprising and sparkling in the bedroom.

11. Make your home a paradise of love, peace, consideration and mercy.

12. Keep your heart a place of safety for secrets, your body a place of beauty, your hands a place of warmth and your mouth a place of kind words.