By Fadwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
I updated the attached blog of previous years. I hope to comment on Ramadan in this blog for the coming year. I have a few posts to help us prepare for this month on Engage Minnesota, FaceBook. I updated the blog with the new dates of the upcoming Ramadan as well.
Quran as your companion
The best book to read is the Quran.
I ask You by every name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or You taught to any of Your creation, or revealed in Your Book, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Quran the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety’, Allah will remove his anxiety and sadness and replace it with happiness.”(Aḥmad 3704)
Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.
Take the Quran as your companion. I like reading or listening to people tell their stories. However, I have not seen or heard stories so beautifully described as the stories in the Quran. The arguments used are reflective and engaging. The details are just enough to make you think and reflect. There isn’t any sensationalism, drama, or unnecessary information.
First, be still and listen. After years in the land of Midian, Moses, upon him peace, was called and God explained the wisdom behind his life experiences.
What does it mean to listen?
Most of us will read the Quran with an argument in mind, looking for ways or verses to win an argument. Most of my blogs or writings were reflections from years ago, that I started to polish and share when I became a blogger for the Star Tribune. As I mentioned in the attached blog, layer by layer, the Quran unfolds its wisdom. Try not to read the Quran looking for cool quotes or memes. There is a time to share what you learned. However, enter Ramadan to learn and to listen. It is a different journey if you are coming to Ramadan to listen attentively with humility:
“Generally speaking, don’t forget that as Muslims we must always try our best to realize that our lives are a personal education program designed and created by Allah to achieve knowledge and worship. Whatever happens in our lives, as ‘radical monotheists’ as we are sometimes referred to; we should realize that Allah has developed this personalized program called life to teach us about Him. But He has given us three important tools to achieve knowledge of Him, as He says in the Qur’an: His revelations, His creation, and ourselves. Through these three tools, everything that we experience in life can become a sign of His greatness in some way. It is for this reason that [Messenger of Allah] (upon him peace and blessings), if we reflect back on his way of life a bit, was able to make du`aa’ [supplication] continuously in whatever situation he found himself. He lived at this state or level of realization where his God-consciousness was so high that it was if he was in a constant, ongoing conversation with Allah. “Dr. ‘Abd. Lateef Krauss Abdullah
Rules and guidelines
Islam is a way of life, and while you have heard me say – don’t focus on the Do’s and Don’ts, this does not imply that we ignore the Sacred Law. There is a balance that we must embrace. The Sacred Law teaches us discipline and helps keep us on the Straight Path, but the law’s spirit nurtures within love, hope, and commitment. So as one begins the month of Ramadan – reach out to teachers to understand the rules and guidelines of acts of worship that you are obligated to perform. Your children might have questions that need to be answered. You can schedule lessons with a teacher and answer their questions. Be sure to pay for the teacher’s time. Do you know the rules and integrals of fasting, praying, and paying zakat?
Faith is a gift
Now when [the Queen’s messenger] came unto Solomon, he said: “Do you people mean to add to my wealth? But that which God has given me is [so much] better than all that He has given you! Nay, it is [only such as] you that would rejoice in this gift of yours!(Quran 27:36)
Receive with gratitude
Whenever you do an action of worship, take time to thank God for enabling you to do the action. You should feel happy and proud that you performed these actions, and ask God to enable you to do more out of His Grace.
“O my Lord! so enable me that I may be grateful for Thy favours, which thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants.”(Quran 27:18-19)
Hope is a reality, not thoughts
- True hope requires effort. Hope is a reality and holistic. It is not passive, unless you have reached the state of Prophet Jacob, upon him peace or Prophet Job, upon him peace. Both reached a state of physical illness that is outside their control. Yet, both did not allow their souls to follow their caprice. They accepted this as a call to be alone with God. In such a state, you can just make prayers. Otherwise, genuine hope requires effort. An example of this is the story of Hajar, who did not wail, woe is me in the desert, but exerted herself to the utmost in search for water in the desert, until she reached the state of desperate need – the springs of Zamzam opened for her, so she can bear witness to God’s Greatness. Likewise, just like our prayer is holistic, hope requires effort and work. It is your limbs that will do the talking.
“That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet bear witness, to all that they did.”(Quran 36:65)
- So, hope requires effort. Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings said: “The intelligent is he who takes his soul to task and works for that which is after death; and the incapable is he who makes his soul follows his caprice and merely hopes on Allah.”
Love of God
- In preparation for the month, I have done a theme on God, the Most Loving or Al Wadud. I will compile it here later. You can begin reading it at FaceBook here and scroll up. The first post was dated February 13th, 2021. Start from that date and continue to read the following posts after that date until Ramadan post.
Every vision one has, and mission one undertakes, faces obstacles. Commitment to a mission builds resolve and helps one to become vigilant. You prepare for Ramadan before it arrives and put a firewall to keep distractors or invaders out. Adam, upon him peace, was warned but forgot. God has warned him not to listen to Satan. You see references to avid listeners to lies in the Quran as a trait of people who pay lip service to faith. Adam, upon him peace was a Prophet, and he forgot the covenant made. It was not intentional or deliberate; however, this story teaches us to be vigilant and on-guard to demonstrate our commitment to the covenant.
We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot: and We found on his part no firm resolve.(Quran 20:115)
I discussed the covenant in the previous Ramadan. A link to that blog is on the top of this page. I hope to polish it further. Our commitment to agreements build firm resolve in our character, and keeps us building and planting seeds, even when the Day of Judgment comes. The resolute prophets are: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Prophet Muhammad, upon them peace and blessings. They did not waver once in their mission. Reflect on their stories if you wish to understand commitment in faith, and build resolve in your character.
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, upon him peace and blessings, said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.”
The Sacred Law builds a firewall to protect you and your faith, while the Law’s spirit drives you forward and keeps you moving. It does not matter if one is flying, another driving a race car, and another limping. Just keep moving forward. Don’t give up.
“Journey to Allah limping and broken and don’t wait for wellness, because waiting for wellness is inability.”Imam Shafi’i
No and Yes
“Let there be no compulsion in religion:(Quran 2:256)
Truth stands out clear from Error:
whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah
hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks.
And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”
Our faith is based on principles and ethics. It is not based on desire and whim. The first pillar of faith is the Shahada or Declaration of Faith. We begin by rejecting what is false and accepting what is true. Principles require us to know our beliefs – to what to say No, and to what to say Yes. For this reason, Adam, upon peace was tested. As humans we go in auto-pilot sometimes and forget, but God, Most Loving – reminds us to be aware, you are not paying attention – there is security risk here.
In addition, some have said to me during public speeches that God sent us to earth and just left us to fend for ourselves, like a parent abandons their child. I explained our five daily prayers are like five appointments a day with God. And in the night, God asks: “Is there any who has a need?” We also have times of the year where God reminds us of our covenant made, and gives us opportunities to increase in wisdom and receive mentorship and nurturing to our higher selves. I explained that Ramadan is like a boot camp – where Muslims review, remember, and reflect. This is a moment where we must say No to ourselves and Yes to God. Even in arguing, we must say, No [I am fasting] to our ego, and remind the other in kind, “I am fasting.”
“Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a cubit, and if he draws near to Me a cubit, I draw near to him a fathom. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.”Sahih al-Buhkari (also by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah)
Spiritual Guru or God?
Have you not seen those who claim themselves to be pure?(Quran 4:49)
Rather, Allah purifies whom He wills, and injustice is not done to them,
[even] as much as a thread [inside a date seed].
Sometimes people claim a level of insight and purity, when in reality they are in a state of pure delusion. You cannot give yourself what you do not have or own, so how can you give it to others? They claim to have learned the art of spiritual purification, help you see your real self, and make such claims that they can help you attain a higher station. They can even hear you when you are silent, and know your thoughts and will put the mirror of your real self before you. Take a deep breath when you meet such charlatans. A deep breath is needed. The Angels who are pure and sinless could not see Satan’s true self or Adam’s secret, so how can mere human beings claim such purity and powers that are solely the powers of God alone?
We witness how human beings discriminate in matters of wealth, power, housing, etc., – for that reason, God does not allow something that our salvation depends upon to be in the hands of any, but Him alone. If we listen to the Prophets, we see that they did not try to put a mirror in anyone’s face, but rather they turned the individual to God as God knows best their reality. Furthermore, Moses, upon him peace did not know the Magicians were compelled by fear, however God knew, and it was God who put Moses before them, to teach them courage and purify them.
What is a mirror?
The mirror helps you see the darkness within. Imagine if God put someone who is cowardly before the Magicians, would they have seen their cowardice? No. You need light to recognize the darkness. It is one whose being enacts the cure that can be a flashlight to help you walk out of that darkness. Hence, the Prophets who were carrying the message, living that message, and Divinely protected from error, help us to see our own imperfections, flaws, and shortcomings. So, to put a mirror in someone’s face is to put the cure before him/her. That is how purification works.
Likewise, God sent Moses, upon him peace, who asks the Pharaoh, if he wishes to be guided to Allah?
When his Lord called to him in the sacred valley of Tuwa,(Quran 79:16-19)
“Go to Pharaoh. Indeed, he has transgressed.
And say to him, ‘Would you [be willing to] purify yourself
And let me guide you to your Lord so you would fear [Him]?'”
If you wish to be purified, you have a choice: spiritual guru or charlatan as I call them, or God. Choose wisely. If you turn to God, and you are struggling with stinginess, God will place before you a generous person. If you are mean, God will place before you a loving person. If you are egotistical, God will place before you a humble person. If you refuse to repent and you are proud, defiant, and unremorseful, God will place before you a humble, repentant soul who is remorseful. Adam, upon him peace, was the mirror for Satan to see himself. If you want to be purified, turn to God and He will place the mirror before you or use you as a mirror for others. Be yourself, and let God.
Contentment in reading Quran
Case in point: Growth through Crisis
Prof. Dr. Abdul Lateef Krauss Abdullah addresses spiritual intelligence and nurturing the youth on coping in an unpredictable world and facing crises that we all face in our life journey. Listen and share:
In summary, if you turn to God seeking guidance, He will facilitate the path of guidance for you. If you turn away, He will facilitate the path of misguidance for you.
Faith: between hope and fear
We began with nurturing, love, hope, and commitment, seeking forgiveness and mercy, and we are taught to end the month with nurturing fear of God, as we beg God to save us from the Hellfire.
Supplication and Response
I listened to a few reminders of making prayers during these blessed nights. Most if not all stressed the importance of having certainty that God will address your prayer.
I address the issue of psychotherapy and prayers over and over again. However, I stress less on getting a material issue and more on the blessings within, mainly to ensure our prayer is not a complaint or accusatory prayer.
Just a note that my emphasis on psychotherapy is not to challenge or undermine the need for mental health experts or counselors. There is a need for such physicians. This piece is outside the scope of the conversation.
We all have moments in our lives – where we have struggled with what one can say is temporary mental illness due to various life events and factors. This is aimed at such conversations.
Part of worship is to make prayers or supplications to God. Growing up, I used to read some books on thought-stopping. I also looked into monitoring one’s breath, as well as received biofeedback. I learned from that experience the importance of monitoring our thoughts.
Hence, I look at the feelings and thoughts embedded in supplications.
Here is an example from Prophet Zakariyyah:
In chapter 19 of the Qur’an, Maryam, the end of verse 4:
وَلَمْ أَكُن بِدُعَائِكَ رَبِّ شَقِيًّا
“and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, complaining in an accusatory manner.”
This leads to a question, what if we do not get what we want or what we supplicated for, do we stop supplicating?
Some scholars teach that supplication repels the Lord’s Decree, which leads to supplicating and supplicating and do not get what they supplicated for and stop supplicating altogether.
How does one reconcile this and help people?
Shaykh Ramadan al-Buti said:
Below are notes from one of his lessons on, “Learn, Then Speak”
A questioner asks me, and he says, ‘You once said that supplication (du’a) does not repel the Lord’s Decree (qadaa’).’
Shaykh Buti: Yes, and I say, once again, that supplication is part of the decree. The decree repels the decree.
Supplication is not something outside the decree.
Our master, ‘Umar, when he was approaching Amwas and heard about the plague of Amwas, that it had spread inside Amwas, he didn’t enter it.
One of the Companions then came to him and said, ‘Are you fleeing from the decree of Allah?’ In other words, enter it. What are you worried about?
He replied, ‘I am fleeing from the decree of Allah to the decree of Allah.’
In other words, this fleeing of mine, and returning to the al-Madinah; is this outside the decree of Allah?
Let’s say someone has fallen ill and I ask Allah to cure him, and he is thus cured; is my supplication not part of Allah’s decree? Was it not recorded in Allah’s knowledge that I would supplicate to Him?
Was it not in Allah’s knowledge that He would answer me? And what is the decree? It is Allah’s knowledge of what will happen.
Yes, and the hadith that only supplication repels decree does not mean that supplication is outside the decree. No.
Rather, the meaning of this hadith is that man must supplicate, and not say, ‘By Allah, why should I supplicate?’
‘If Allah has decreed that such and such will happen, it will happen, whether I supplicate or not. If Allah has decreed that such and such will not happen, I could supplicate for twenty years and it still won’t happen.’
This is how a lot of common Muslims think. Bring this hadith to refute them.
Just as the illness is part of the decree, the supplication is part of the decree. Any prayer that I do, by my choice, is part of the decree.
My fasting is part of the decree. My reading of the Quran is part of the decree. My seeking refuge in Allah is part of the decree. Thus, the decree repels the decree.
And Allah’s decree, Glorified and Exalted is He, can be repelled. And this the meaning of His statement, Glorified and Exalted is He:
Thus, He erases something decreed and replaces it with something decreed.
Maintaining the ties of kinship; what do you do? This increases your lifespan, and you prolong the time. You extend the time. The same goes for charity. These are facts.
What if God does not give you what you asked for?
- First repent, privately, not for show and tell.
- Repair the harm, give people their rights or return to people their property.
- Find people who are more powerless and helpless than you, and help them, seeking nothing in return.
- Fix your income and purify it from impermissible wealth.
- Do not ask why or question God’s wisdom. Trust and have good opinion of God.
- Oppressed will be aided according to God’s timing. Keep supplicating, and follow 1-5.
- God will respond to your prayers according to His Wisdom and timing, be patient, we do not know the timing.
- We pray out of need, but we do not obligate Him. If you stop, who are you going to run to?
- There are some righteous people who don’t pray to God for dunya (materialism), they only pray for akhirah (beneficial deeds for the next life), like a good ending, honorable resurrection, etc.,
- It is not obligatory to pray for dunya (materialism), but it is obligatory to pray for akhirah (prayer, hajj, faith, guidance, salvation, acceptance of deeds, doing good deeds, love of God, love of the Prophets, etc.,).
–notes from Shaykh Ramadan al-Buti and Imam Sharaawi
How do we know we are sincere or the saliheen (righteous)?
You cannot investigate yourself – that is like Israel investigating its soldiers. Whoever investigates himself/herself is deluded. The Prophets just had a good opinion of God, acted as He commanded, trusted His judgment and decree, and prayed to be of the saliheen (righteous).
“And admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants.”
–Prophet Suleiman (Solomon), upon him peace
“Take Thou my soul (at death) as one submitting to Thy will (as a Muslim), and unite me with the righteous.”
–Prophet Yusuf (Joseph), upon him peace
“O My Lord! Let my entry be by the Gate of Truth and Honour. and likewise my exit by the Gate of Truth and Honour; and grant me from Thy Presence an authority to aid(me).”
–Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings
Just keep supplicating, for you, your family, and people in need or oppressed.
Your grade will be given to you, after you transition to the next world, not before.
What if you love sinful cunning, projections, gaslighting, machinations (kade) and cannot stop yourself, as you find it enjoyable and it makes you laugh and smirk like a charlatan or psychopath? Some people find pleasure in harming others in the name of religion. You can also make du’a or supplication for yourself if you are such a person or someone you know.
“O Allah, I seek Your forgiveness for every sin for which I employed such cunning that invokes Your wrath, or in committing which I overcame those in Your disobedience, or by which I lured-or intended to lure-one of Your creation into disobeying You. And though I made it seem to your servants that through my endeavors I seek You [and Your pleasure], my true aim was to disobey You, and as such my desire was turned away from Your obedience.”Hasan al-Basri, Prayers for Forgiveness
If you are not such a person, ask Allah to protect you from such people. In life, you will be surprised to find that some people in religious clothing proclaim to be lovers of justice, guidance, modesty, faith, and piety; however, they love sinful cunning and love to play God. Allah knows the reality of people’s hearts. Just ask God to protect you from such people.
Read this passage as a warning for you and someone you know who suffers from such a state.
Always, always be in a state of du’a (supplication)
For further reading, listen to and follow the recommended fasting du’a (supplication):
We will remove whatever amount of malice they had in their hearts. Rivers will flow beneath them, and they will say, “All praise is to Allah who has guided us to this. We would not have been able to find the way, had Allah not guided us. Surely, the messengers of our Lord came with the truth.” Then they will receive a call, “Here is the Paradise which you have been made to inherit because of the deeds you have been doing.”(Quran 7:43)
Fadwa Wazwaz | \ Fəd-wə Wəz-wəz\ is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. She is an author of God Intervenes Between A Person And Their Heart: Key Lessons From The Prophets.