Mufti Menk Gives a Fantastic Lecture about Ramadan and its Etiquette

July 16, 2013

Mufti Menk


I hope many people take the time to watch or listen to this lecture.  It is about an hour long but so worth the time and effort.  This Scholar is just so humble and close to the hearts of people.  Most of all – what he says makes so much sense.  Please let me know what you think after listening to this.  For those who are not Muslim, there is much in this for any God fearing people.  Just keep in mind what most people do not know,  “Allah” is the Arabic word translation for “God” in English.  Allah is not some odd unknown god, He is the same God of Abraham Issac Jacob, Noah and all other known prophets and messengers sent before.  Enjoy!

sakina and sarah



August 24, 2009

Some Common Mistakes in Ramadaan

Lets Strive Not to Repeat the Same.

By Asma bint Shameem


1 : Taking Ramadaan as a ritual

For many of us Ramadaan has lost its spirituality and has become more of a ritual than a form of Ibaadah. We fast from morning to night like a zombie just because everyone around us is fasting too. We forget that its a time to purify our hearts and our souls from all evil….we forget to make dua, forget to beseech Allaah to forgive us and ask Him to save us from the Fire.  Sure we stay away from food and drink but that’s about all.

Although the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“Jibreel said to me, May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person to who Ramadaan comes and his sins are not forgiven, and I said, Ameen.

Then he said, May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person who lives to see his parents grow old, one or both of them, but he does not enter Paradise (by not serving them) and I said, Ameen.

Then he said, May Allaah rub his nose in the dust, that person in whose presence you are mentioned and he does not send blessings upon you, and I said, Ameen.’”

(Tirmidhi, Ahmad, others. Saheeh by al-Albaani)

2 : Too much stress on food and drink

For some people, the entire month of Ramadaan revolves around food. They spend the ENTIRE day planning, cooking, shopping and thinking about only food, instead of concentrating on Salaah, Quraan and other acts of worship. All they can think of is FOOD. So much so that they turn the month of fasting into the month of feasting. Come Iftaar time, their table is a sight to see, with the multitudes and varieties of food, sweets and drinks. They are missing the very purpose of fasting, and thus, increase in their greed and desires instead of learning to control them. It is also a kind of waste & extravagance.

“…..and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allaah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance) “[al-Araaf :31]

3 : Spending all day cooking

Some of the sisters (either by their own choice or forced by their husbands) are cooking ALL day and ALL night, so that by the end of the day, they are too tired to even pray Ishaa, let alone pray Taraweeh or Tahajjud or even read Quraan. This is the month of mercy and forgiveness. So turn off that stove and turn on your Imaan!

4 : Eating too much

Some people stuff themselves at Suhoor until they are ready to burst, because they think this is the way to not feel hungry during the day and some people eat at Iftaar, like there is no tomorrow, trying to make up for the food missed. However, this is completely against the Sunnah. Moderation is the key to everything.

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah.  saheeh by al-Albaani).

Too much food distracts a person from many deeds of obedience and worship, makes him lazy and also makes the heart heedless.

It was said to Imam Ahmad: Does a man find any softness and humility in his heart when he is full? He said, I do not think so.

5 : Sleeping all day

Some people spend their entire day (or a major part of it) sleeping away their fast. Is this what is really required of us during this noble month? These people also are missing the purpose of fasting and are slaves to their desires of comfort and ease. They cannot bear to be awake and face a little hunger or exert a little self-control. For a fasting person to spend most of the day asleep is nothing but, negligence on his part.

6 : Wasting time

The month of Ramadaan is a precious, precious time, so much so that Allaah calls this month “Ayyamum Madoodaat” (A fixed number of days). Before we know it, this month of mercy and forgiveness will be over. We should try and spend every moment possible in the worship of Allaah so that we can make the most of this blessing. However, there are some of us who waste away their day playing video games, or worse still, watching TV, movies or even listening to music. Subhaan Allaah! Trying to obey Allaah by DISOBEYING him!

7 : Fasting but not giving up evil

Some of us fast but do not give up lying, cursing, fighting, backbiting, etc. and some of us fast but do not give up cheating, stealing, dealing in haraam, buying lotto tickets, selling alcohol, fornication, etc. and all kinds of impermissible things without realizing that the purpose of fasting is to not stay away from food and drink; rather the aim behind it is to fear Allaah.

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)” [al-Baqarah 2:183]

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, and ignorance, Allaah has no need of him giving up his food and drink.” (Bukhaari)

8 : Smoking

Smoking is forbidden in Islam whether during Ramadaan or outside of it, as it is one of al-Khabaaith (evil things). And this includes ALL kinds of smoking material eg.cigars, cigarettes, pipes, sheesha, hookah etc.

“he allows them as lawful At Tayyibaat (all good and lawful things), and prohibits them as unlawful Al Khabaa’ith (all evil and unlawful things) [al-Araaf :157]

It is harmful, not only to the one smoking, but also to the ones around him. It is also a means of wasting ones wealth.

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:”There should be no harming or reciprocating harm.”

This is especially true during fasting and it invalidates the fast. (Fatwa -Ibn Uthaymeen)

9 : Skipping Suhoor

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “Eat suhoor for in suhoor there is blessing.”(Bukhaari, Muslim).

And he (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “The thing that differentiates between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is eating suhoor.” (Muslim)

10 : Stopping Suhoor at Imsaak

Some people stop eating Suhoor 10-15 minutes earlier than the time of Fajr to observe Imsaak.

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: This is a kind of bidah (innovation) which has no basis in the Sunnah. Rather the Sunnah is to do the opposite. Allaah allows us to eat until dawn: “and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)” [al-Baqarah 2:187]

And the Prophet (pbuh) said: “….eat and drink until you hear the adhaan of Ibn Umm Maktoom, for he does not give the adhaan until dawn comes.”

This imsaak which some of the people do is an addition to what Allaah has prescribed, so it is false. It is a kind of extremism in religion, and the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:

“Those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed, those who go to extremes are doomed.” (Muslim)

11 : Not fasting if they missed Suhoor

Some people are too scared to fast if they miss Suhoor. However, this is a kind of cowardice and love of ease. What is the big deal if you missed a few morsels of food? Its not like you will die. Remember, obedience to Allaah overcomes everything.

12 : Saying the intention to fast out loud or saying a specific dua to start fasting

The intention is an action of the heart. We should resolve in our heart that we are going to fast tomorrow. That is all we need. It is not prescribed by the Shariah for us to say out loud, “I intend to fast”, “I will fast tomorrow” or other phrases that have been innovated by some people. Also, there is no specific dua to be recited at the time of starting the fast in the correct Sunnah. Whatever dua you may see on some papers or Ramadaan calendars, etc. is a Bidah.

read more :Uttering the intention to fast out loud is an innovation (bidah)http://groups. group/LoveIslam_ LiveIslam/ message/258 Authentic & UnAuthentic Dua for Iftaar !!!http://groups. group/LoveIslam_ LiveIslam/ message/263

13 : Delaying breaking fast

Some people wait until the adhaan finishes or even several minutes after that, just to be on the safe side. However, the Sunnah is to hasten to break the fast, which means breaking fast whenever the adhaan starts, right after the sun has set. Aaishah (RA) said: This is what the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to do. (Muslim)

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “The people will continue to do well so long as they hasten to break the fast.” (Bukhaari, Muslim)

Determine to the best of your ability, the accuracy of your clock, calendar, etc. and then have tawakkul on Allaah and break your fast exactly on time.

14 : Eating continuously until the time for Maghrib is up

Some people put so much food in their plates when breaking their fast and continue eating, enjoying dessert, drinking tea, etc., until they miss Maghrib. That is obviously not right. The Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) was that once he broke his fast with some dates, them he would hasten to the prayer. Once you are done with the prayer, you can always go back and eat some more if you wish.

15 : Missing the golden chance of having your Dua accepted

The prayer of the fasting person is guaranteed to be accepted at the time of breaking fast.

The Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said:”Three prayers are not rejected: the prayer of a father, the prayer of a fasting person, and the prayer of a traveler.” (al-Bayhaqi, saheeh by al-Albaani).

Instead of sitting down and making Dua at this precious time, some people forego this beautiful chance, and are too busy frying samosas, talking, setting the food, filling their plates and glasses, etc. Think about it….Is food more important than the chance to have your sins forgiven or the fulfillment of your Duas.

16 : Fasting but not praying

The fasting of one who does not pray WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. This is because not praying constitutes kufr as the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his giving up prayer.” (Muslim)

In fact, NONE of his good deeds will be accepted; rather, they are all annulled.

“Whoever does not pray Asr, his good deeds will be annulled.” (Bukhaari)

17 : Fasting and not wearing Hijaab

Not wearing the Hijaab is a major sin as it is obligatory for Muslim women. (See Surah Nur, Surah Ahzaab). So fasting and not wearing hijaab certainly takes away enormously from the rewards of fasting, even if does not invalidate it.

18 : Not fasting because of exams or work

Exams or work is NOT one of the excuses allowed by the Shariah to not fast. You can do your studying and revision at night if it is too hard to do that during the day. Also remember that pleasing and obeying Allaah is much more important than good grades. Besides, if you will fulfil your obligation to fast, even if you have to study, Allaah will make it easy for you and help you in everything you do.

“Whosoever fears Allah, He will appoint for him a way out and provide for him from where he does not expect, Allah is Sufficient for whosoever puts his trust in Him.” (Surah at-Talaaq 2-3)

19 : Mixing fasting and dieting

DO NOT make the mistake of fasting with the intention to diet. That is one of the biggest mistakes some of us make (esp. sisters). Fasting is an act of worship and can only be for the sake of Allah alone.

Otherwise, mixing it with the intention of dieting may become a form of (minor) Shirk.

20 : Fighting over the number of Rakaah of Taraweeh

There is no specific number of rakahs for Taraweeh prayer, rather it is permissible to do a little or a lot. Both 8 and 20 are okay. Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “No one should be denounced for praying eleven or twenty-three (rakaah), because the matter is broader in scope than that, praise be to Allaah.”

21 : Praying ONLY on the night of the 27th

Some people pray ONLY on the 27th to seek Lailat ul-Qadr, neglecting all other odd nights, although the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) said: “Seek Lailat ul-Qadr among the odd numbered nights of the last ten nights of Ramadaan.” (Bukhaari, Muslim).

22 : Wasting the last part of Ramadaan preparing for Eid

Some people waste the entire last 10 days of Ramadaan preparing for Eid, shopping and frequenting malls, etc. neglecting Ibadah and Lailatul Qadr. although, the Prophet (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam) used to strive the hardest during the last ten days of Ramadaan in worship (Ahmad, Muslim) and not in shopping. Buy whatever you need for Eid before Ramadaan so that you can utilize the time in Ramadaan to the max.

Aaishah (RA) said: “When the (last) ten nights began, the Messenger of Allaah (Sal Allaahu Alaiyhi wa Sallam)) would tighten his waist-wrapper (i.e., strive hard in worship or refrain from intimacy with his wives), stay awake at night and wake his family.” (Bukhaari and Muslim).

23 : Iftaar parties

Although inviting each other for breaking fast is something good and encouraged, some people go to extremes with lavish Iftaar parties with all sorts of disobedience to Allaah, from flirting, mixing of the sexes and hijaab-less women, to show-off and extravagance, to heedlessness to Salaah, and Taraweeh to even music and dancing.

HOW DO I KNOW WHEN TO START FASTING? Downloadable program will help you

September 1, 2008

For many Muslims around the world who do not live near a mosque or masjid, they do not have access to athan, so here is a site which one can insert their location and the program can be downloaded to your computer and you can choose which type of athan you prefere.  Please note that in some places such as Saudia Arabia, and Tucson, we do not use day light saving time so you need to put no in that block.

I hope that this will help those who dont know what time they need to start fasting at sunrise or what time they can break fast at maghrib.  Please note that if you do not know what co ordinates you need it is so easy to google them, just google lattitude and longitude for …… San Francisco, or Montreal, or New Brunswick or which ever city you are near that may be a major city.

Once you have the longitude and latitude numbers, enter them into the IslamicFinder athan program and it will give you the Qibla direction comparable to north, and the timings for all prayers and they will update daily on its own.  Also note that you may chose to have the athan on or off or to choose the style of athan that appeals to you.


I greatly hope that this is a help to many of you. Ramadan Kareem.



Du’aa For Ramadan

September 1, 2008

Du’aa for Ramadhaan



At the sighting of the crescent signaling the start of Ramadhaan:


اللهـم أَهِـلّـهُ عَـلَـيـنَـا بِـالأَمْـنِ وَ الإِيـمَـان، وَ الـسَـلامَـةِ وَ الإِســلام،

رَبِّـي وَ رَبُّـك الله، هَـلالُ رُشْـدٍ وَ خَـيـر

Allaahumma ahillahu ‘alaynaa bil-amni wal-amaan, was-salaamati wal-islaam,

Rabbee wa Rubbuka Allaah, hilaalu rushdin wa khayr


Oh Allaah, let this moon appear on us with peace and faith;

with safety and Islaam.  (Oh moon!) Your Lord and mine is Allaah. 

May this moon be bringing guidance and good



At the time of breaking fast:


ذَهَــب الـظَـمـَـأُ، وَ ابْـتَـلَّـتِ الـعُـرُوقُ، وَ ثَـبَـت الأَجْـرُ إِن شَــاءَ الله

Dhahab ath-Thama-u, wabtallat il- ‘urooq, wa thabat al-ajru in shaa Allaah


The thirst has gone, the veins have been quenched,

and the reward is confirmed, if Allaah wills



During Laylat ul-Qadr (last 10 days):


اللهـم إَنَّـكَ عَـفُـوٌ تُـحِـبُّ الـعَـفْـوَ فَـاعْـفُ عَـنُّـي

Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibb ul-‘affwa, fa’fu ‘annee


OhAllaah, You are Most Forgiving, and You love forgiveness; so forgive me




September 1, 2008

Last year I must have made a list of 70 some dishes for ideas because I knew I would get bored of cooking daily something new and appetizing for the family especially when they were fasting. However, even with such a list, I would look down it and say oh, no not today, oh no not in the mood or I don’t have the ingredients, or hmm too heavy or too salty.

So what is there that is good to eat in Ramadan? Well, I will share with you some of our family favorites and some of the mistakes we have found out.  I will start out with those first! Things that are high in salt like snacking on chips or nuts or crackers are things to stay away from.  Foods which contain MSG or monosodium glutemate, also listed as flavor enhancers, or those of you who eat out at Chinese, fast food places, or restaurants such as Fridays, the foods usually do contain this ingredient which will increase your level of thirst.  Foods which are dense in tomato paste or sauce such as pizza, spaghetti, lasagna and so on may also make you very thirsty all through the night and into the next day.  Pickles and other types of condiments should be used sparingly of course. 

Those of us who like to eat Mediterranean foods especially manakeesh with zatar, may suffer from heartburn in the morning so eat is sparingly.  Drinking anything with caffeine at night and then sleeping may relax the sphincter muscle leading from the stomach to the esophagus also causing heartburn.

Now on to the good foods.  Water, fresh juices, fruits, dates, nuts, and any fresh vegetables. In the mornings we have found that “drinking Laban” with some dates is great, as well as wholesome cereals like muslix, bananas and honey, and we especially love lebni or kefir cheese with whole wheat peta bread, sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and fresh mint with a small cup of tea. 

For iftar we like a simple meal, the best is a great lentil soup, and a full mixed vegetable salad with homemade lemon and oil dressing.  Some like a dash of apple cider vinegar.  Other dishes that can replace the soup, are simple baked chicken with mashed potatoes, beefsteak with carrots and potatoes, stuffed zucchini, chicken kabsa with rice ( sooo horribly easy the kids can make it),  grilled fish with steamed vegetables, and sometimes when in a pinch I take out chicken breasts, sprinkle just a little bit of oil in a frying pan, flatten the breasts with a heavy mallet or spoon and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash, or a mixture of herbs and a little salt, and gently brown in the pan, adding in chopped onions for more flavor, served with a nice green salad and baked potatoes ( microwaved, 6 minutes per potato) and its so tasty your mouth will be watering for the next time you cook it. Want a new salad dressing?? Mix a spoon of honey with a spoon of brown mustard and a little mayonnaise, its deliciously different!

Many people also like different kinds of soups like the meat and oatmeal soup which not only nourishes the body but is easy on the stomach.  Ask around and I am sure someone can suggest the recipe or look only for oatmeal soup. Also adding barley to a vegetable soup adds flavor and health benefits and is filling along with a simple green salad.  It is not important to stuff ourselves during Ramadan, it is important to replace the fluids and the nutrients that the body needs.

So, as we say here in the Middle East—-Sahtain!


Another Ramadan- Will it Pass Away Like All The Others?

August 31, 2008

Its Ramadan, its here again— a blessed month like no other.  29 or 30 days in which we have a chance—a chance for what??

 FOOOOOD—– FESTIVITIES WITH FAMILY! WOWOW its great! Fantastic I know. The shoping is nice, the late nights together talking and laughing, and the special deserts that mom always makes for us. Hmmm.  Lets not forget the Sahour. Its like majical moments being awake and being close with every one in warm and tender  moments waiting for the athan.  Then we all pray and fall into bed and sleep until– until well, I am not really sure when, it depends. It doesnt really mater. Sami for sure won’t be awake he stayed up chatting on the net all night.  Danny was watching some scary movie, and Amanda was on the phone with Inas. Me?? Ohh– well, I was reading a good book. The Quran?? Oh, yes, I have it somewhere on the shelf, but no it was an exciting romance novel.

But wait? Is this the way Resullallah used to spend his time in Ramadan? Is this what fasting is all about? Will Ramadan end and then we wish we could go back and start it over again and do it right? Why wait for it to end to feel regret that its gone and won’t come back? Let us start now, tonight, from day ONE! Let us think what should we do with our time.

As women:

  • Instead of spending hours and hours in the kitchen cooking huge meals, explain to all family members that this ramadan is different, we will not gorge ourselves on food, we will follow as the prophet did and fill our stomachs with 1/3 water, 1/3 air, and 1/3 food.  Simple dishes such as a soup, salad and one dish is more, more, more than enough.
  • Get the family in there to help you and talk about islamic stories while you work.
  • Remember to start every action you do with bismillah, especially when cooking.
  • Wake up for suhur but make it simple, laban and dates, fruit, water, grains like the prophet pbuh used to eat.  Spend the extra time reading Quran, praying sunna, or teaching each other new hadith.


  • Spend time with the children reading islamic seerah or stories of the prophets or of the caliphs
  • Gather the family to pray the sunnah and “don’t let your homes be as graves” (Bukhari)  Also:  Narrated Zaid bin Thabit: Allah’s Apostle made a small room in the month of ramadan (Sa’id said, “I think that Zaid bin Thabit said that it was made of a mat”) and he prayed there for a few nights, and so some of his companions prayed behind him. When he came to know about it, he kept on sitting. In the morning, he went out to them and said, “I have seen and understood what you did. You should pray in your houses, for the best prayer of a person is that which he prays in his house except the compulsory prayers.” (Book #11, Hadith #698)
  • Help in the home so that your wife can join the rest of the family to go out for Taraweeh prayers on a regular basis, encourage other family members to go if they do not already.
  • Let your children join you as much as they can for kiyam al layl and let them see you reading Quran al Kareem.  Remeber children do as they see not as you tell them.



  • Make it a goal to read the Holy Quran in full during this month.
  • Try to wake up in the last third of the nights to read, pray and make doa and thikr
  • Try to not spend the whole day sleeping and wasting of time when you can keep making use of the day also in reading and sunnah prayers.
  • Find ways to make dawa, by inviting your neighbors for iftar, giving in charity, visiting the poor and needy, helping the orphan.
  • If you cannot go out, call those you have lost touch with and great them with salam, ask about their needs.
  • If you have fences that need mending do it now. Do not leave angry feelings for another year.  If you have cut the rope of al rahim ( family ties) try to repair it as best you can and leave the rest up to Allah swt.
  • for young men, make bags of drink and dates and distribute on the streets to those who may be late getting home.

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Allah’s Apostle was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of ramadan to teach him the Qur’an. Allah’s Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).  (Book #1, Hadith #5)

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said: “Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.”  (Book #2, Hadith #36)

Narrated Abu Huraira: One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is faith?” Allah’s Apostle replied, ‘Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of ramadan.” Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan (perfection)?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you.” Then he further asked, “When will the Hour be established?” Allah’s Apostle replied, “The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents. 1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master. 2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah. The Prophet then recited: “Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour–.” (31. 34) Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, “That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion.” Abu ‘Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith.  (Book #2, Hadith #47)

Narrated Abu Jamra: I used to sit with Ibn ‘Abbas and he made me sit on his sitting place. He requested me to stay with him in order that he might give me a share from his property. So I stayed with him for two months. Once he told (me) that when the delegation of the tribe of ‘Abdul Qais came to the Prophet, the Prophet asked them, “Who are the people (i.e. you)? (Or) who are the delegate?” They replied, “We are from the tribe of Rabi’a.” Then the Prophet said to them, “Welcome! O people (or O delegation of ‘Abdul Qais)! Neither will you have disgrace nor will you regret.” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! We cannot come to you except in the sacred month and there is the infidel tribe of Mudar intervening between you and us. So please order us to do something good (religious deeds) so that we may inform our people whom we have left behind (at home), and that we may enter Paradise (by acting on them).” Then they asked about drinks (what is legal and what is illegal). The Prophet ordered them to do four things and forbade them from four things. He ordered them to believe in Allah Alone and asked them, “Do you know what is meant by believing in Allah Alone?” They replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” Thereupon the Prophet said, “It means: 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. 2. To offer prayers perfectly 3. To pay the Zakat (obligatory charity) 4. To observe fast during the month of ramadan. 5. And to pay Al-Khumus (one fifth of the booty to be given in Allah’s Cause). Then he forbade them four things, namely, Hantam, Dubba,’ Naqir Ann Muzaffat or Muqaiyar; (These were the names of pots in which Alcoholic drinks were prepared) (The Prophet mentioned the container of wine and he meant the wine itself). The Prophet further said (to them): “Memorize them (these instructions) and convey them to the people whom you have left behind.”  (Book #2, Hadith #50)

There are for sure many more things that we should do and can do during this blessed month.  Let us not be tied up in the pace of this wordly life which is so short compared to the hearafter. Its a month that Allah has given to us and in it are many gifts— shall we throw those gifts away unheaded and unthankfully?

Lastly, as a challenge, I ask, why when Ramadan ends do we suddenly drop all the good behaviors we strive to learn, waking in the last third, reading Quran, making doa, making thikr— suddenly life goes back to normal and fast paced again as if these behaviors only need to be done in Ramadan.  Challenge ourselves to be moderate and to keep these good deeds even after Ramadan is over— until the next Ramadan comes- the blessings are great inshallah.

Seven Strategies to Train Kids this Ramadan

August 30, 2008

Seven Strategies to Train Kids this Ramadan

Shehnaz Toorawa

The Prophet Muhammad “No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training.” (Tirmidhi), peace and blessings of God be upon the Prophet.
The many aspects of Ramadan–fasting, prayers, moral values, charity, Quran, family, Eid— provide a valuable opportunity to train kids. Whether they are your own kids or kids you teach, education or training isn’t an automatic or easy process. Children don’t bring empty minds and fill them with what we say. Training requires effort, energy and a few techniques to take off.
Here are some training tips and techniques to transform your children’s minds and memories this Ramadan:

Let them get their Hands Dirty

“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.”
Herbert Spencer
Children learn by “doing”. On average, students retain 75 percent of a lesson when they learn through hands-on activities compared to five percent through a lecture or 10 percent through reading (Brunmer, Jerome, “The Process of Learning”).
If, for example, you want to teach your kids the concept of Zakat, get them to help you calculate your Zakat, decide where to send the money, and mail the envelopes. Action and implementation can occur while children learn, not necessarily after!
The Prophet used to take his daughter Fatima with him when he went for prayer at the Kaba in Makkah. Later, in Madinah, he would bring his grandchildren, Hassan and Hussain, to the Masjid as toddlers before they knew how to pray.
A concept becomes real and important to children when they experience it rather than simply read about it. They’ll remember how to do it years later when you may catch them telling their friends, “I’ve been calculating Zakat since I was a kid!”

Involve their Emotions

When children get emotionally involved in an activity, they rarely want to leave it. Video games and TV shows target children’s emotions. As parents and educators, we can use the same technique for training.
Stories, songs, skits, crafts and games grab children’s emotions. Once a child is interested and excited, she is more likely to stay attentive till the end and get the message you want to give. Just as we remember events in our lives that were emotionally significant, children remember concepts learned through activities that were “fun”, “funny”, “exciting” or “different”.
Don’t be afraid to stir some fun into your training—you don’t have to lose any content. Write a song about Eid, create a Hadith treasure box, organize a Ramadan trivia night, or read a story about Ramadan in Madinah. If they enjoy it, the kids will come back for more!

Reveal the Purpose

We often hear students complain, “Why do we have to do this?” or “This math exercise is pointless”. Unfortunately, we often hear responses like, “Because I’m telling you to,” “Because you have to”, or worse, “You’ll get a new CD player if you finish the book”.
Like us, if children don’t see the purpose or importance of an action, they won’t have the motivation to complete it. To avoid getting similar comments from your kids about prayer or fasting, make sure they understand the purpose. Before you begin any lesson, whether it’s a story about the Companions of the Prophet or an Eid craft, explain exactly why you are the doing the activity and what benefits the children will gain from it.
Remind your children that they are doing acts of worship to please Allah, not you. Explain why we need to please Allah and how every action, including washing dishes or math homework, will help us achieve that goal. If children are praying only to please you, when you leave, their motivation and prayers will disappear.
If children are motivated to fast Ramadan or complete the Quran for a material incentive (like a CD player), they may never develop a love of Allah or an intrinsic desire to perform the action. They may, instead, learn to value material rewards and when the rewards disappear, the actions may disappear with them.
Help your children understand that, for Muslims, rewards don’t necessarily come in this life. They may have to wait for the bigger and better rewards of the hereafter.

Highlight the Big Ideas

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
Albert Einstein
Ask yourself how many equations or formulas you remember from your Grade 12 Math textbook. It may be five or two or none. Let’s be honest – most of us retained very little of the details we learned.
Children will not retain all the Fiqh rulings of Zakat or Wudu or SalahÉ.and they won’t need to! Make sure the little that they retain is exactly what you want them to remember. Focus on the big ideas, such as the awareness that Allah is watching us, that we get our rulings from the Quran and the Sunnah, that prayer is a means of self-purification, etc. Repeat these ideas every day in different ways. While your children instil these principles in their minds, show them how to learn the rest on their own, when they need it.
Help your kids learn “how to learn”. Teach them where to find the Fiqh information they need or how to do research on a topic and who to ask for information. They will be better prepared if they master the basics and know how to get the specifics. Memorizing every ruling will be a waste of their time and yours.

Let them Lead!

Children often take responsibilities more seriously than adults. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, appointed young adults like Ali, Anas and Usamah ibn Zaid, young adults, for important assignments that sometimes required them to lead even older and more experienced Companions.
Give children leadership over important tasks and step out of the picture. Assign one child to wake up all his siblings for Suhur.  Let someone else be in charge of updating the Iftar time every evening. Allow the children to plan, budget and buy Eid gifts for all the relatives. Let them choose which task they want to “be in charge of”.
Allow children to make mistakes and realize on their own what they should have done. Experience often trains better than instruction. Once a child goes out into the cold without a jacket, he’ll remember, before you can remind him, to put on his jacket next time.
Train kids to be responsible for their own learning. If a child asks, “Does brushing teeth break my fast?” a simple “yes” or “no” may give her the answer, but won’t provide any long-term training. Ask her instead, “Where can you look to find that answer? Let’s do some research.”
Begin the month of Ramadan by asking your children to do a research project on what breaks the fast and what does not. If they find the information themselves, they are likely to remember it and know exactly where to get it again next year.
“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
Carl Rogers

Get Excited!

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
W. B. Yeats
Kids catch on to your enthusiasm. Show some excitement and passion about the topic you’re teaching. Show your kids that you “can’t wait” for Ramadan to begin. Be cheerful at prayer times. Decorate the house in anticipation of Eid.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, taught by example. His character and actions motivated people to love and emulate him. Be the example you want your kids to be. Make a genuine effort to love the activities you want your kids to love.

Combine Love with Learning

Abu Huraira reported that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, kissing Hasan (his grandson). He said: I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah’s Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, said: He who does not show mercy, no mercy would be shown to him.  (Muslim)
Show children that you love them, regardless of how they perform.  Allow each child to progress at his own pace. Saying, “look at your cousin Aminah—she’s already finished the fifteenth juz“, will only lower your child’s self-esteem and discourage what she’s already accomplishing.
Excessive competition and comparison can often result in helplessness and lack of motivation for children who learn in different ways or at a slower pace. Allow children to judge their own progress and compare themselves to their former level rather than that of others.
Make this Ramadan the beginning of a memorable and long-lasting training experience for you and your children!


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