How is everyone doing? How is your Ramadan going?
Ramadan in the last few years now has fallen during exam season and this year is the second Ramadan living away from family. I hope your Ramadan, or if it’s just another month, is going well. I hope it is mindful, I hope it is peaceful, I hope it is healing, filled with light, and guidance, goodness and ease.
Ramadan is always a beautiful and tough time. The month meant to bring us taqwa – God consciousness, self-control and awareness, is often the one where routine is most difficult to achieve. My early mornings, evening gym and bed before 12 no longer exist, but the calm in my late nights and the birds as I go to bed are incomparable.
I wanted to share some things I’ve been reading and reflecting on. Last Ramadan was probably the least spiritual and disorienting month for me. This Ramadan, I am reminded Ramadan is for the disoriented, spiritually distant and broken.
*small-big disclaimer that I literally know nothing and these are just some ways and things
- Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, of guidance and of healing, the month when the Qur’an was revealed. Commit to a few ayahs a day, or whatever is most feasible for you. Our ISOC is doing a Qur’an completion with people commit to completing a single Juz/Chapter to complete the Qur’an together.
The Qur’an is meant for contemplation, this is an accessible translation with introductory pages on understanding the revelation of the Qur’an and different types of Surahs: Professor M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (it’s on Amazon prime).
Short tafsir series: A series of videos commenting on every Surah in the Qur’an: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8I6BZQED7E&list=PLHPW7nn9Wmb4NhafhzF_qBQR1uQ_p9p_H
This is a book that has 365 Ayahs from the Qur’an, (in translation) every day you read one, there’s quite a bit of space around the page too for your own annotations: ‘Daily wisdom, sections from the Holy Qur’an’ by Abdur Raheem Kidwai
There are signs…in the alteration of day and night, in the ships that sail on the sea, carrying goods that are of profit to humanity…in the changing courses of the winds and the clouds pressed into service between the heavens and the earth.’ [2:164]
- Books –
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf: An Agenda to change our condition
I think a big part of this book is about achieving self-awareness and God consciousness. The text is a very short read, but this is almost a guidebook for me and is something I can constantly return to and try to internalise. There are many Verses and Duas included with the explantions.
Here are some of my favourite bits:
‘The deeper and more refined our spiritual state, the greater will be our capacity to deal with the tribulations involved in any worldly endeavour’
‘We are all terminally ill, and prisoners on time’s death row. It is only a matter of time before the executioner, the angel of death, makes his call.’
‘Our souls are the greatest thieves, robbing us of our good health and free time’
Shaykh Akram Nadwi, on the Qur’an in conversation with Carla Power: If the Oceans were Ink
This book is essentially going through the Qur’an in the perspective of Shaykh Akram Nadwi who was educated in Madrassah’s in India to teaching at Oxford. His commentary on the Qur’an, how he applies it daily and navigates faith is beautiful. Carla’s questions are candid and ones I’ve had too. The book discusses the Shaykh’s personal journey too, of immigrating to the UK, to his student days at Oxford.
Some of my favourite bits:
‘His faith had anchored him even while propelling him out into the world’
Faith is an anchor. It grounds you, it’s a foundation. Ramadan doesn’t mean life stops, it’s a reminder and time to strengthen this foundation.
‘Prayers were a home, even far away from one’s homeland. A five-times-daily return to origins no matter where in the world one found oneself.’
Mufti Menks tweets. ❤ And his Ramadan lecture series:
‘Don’t be sad’ – an amazing book. I know we shouldn’t really distribute PDFs but: https://afiqekie.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/en_do_not_be_sad.pdf
3. Dua / prayer
I don’t think I really understood the concept of supplication for a long time. I’m not sure how much I do now. But there are moments of faith everywhere for me. And whispered duas when I come across something, so I started to write them all down in a black book and I read – or pray them after Salah/ whenever I need to.
Another simple thing is just to centre your duas around the different stages of Ramadan.
– -Pray for others ‘honour the guest of your heart’ and the angels say Ameen to the same supplication for you.
Keep your tasbeeh on your desk/ bag and do dhikr
Taraweeh is not the only night prayer, if you’re staying up all night, stay in whudu and offer two rakat’s before Fajr
A few Ramadan’s ago in London, Shaykh Hassan Ali spoke about prayer and he said when we say Allahu Akbar and start prayer, it is a surrender, the actions with our hands and prostration is us leaving behind this world.
‘The Prayer contains a vast spiritual light that radiates in the hearts of those who truly pray, but it is only obtainable by one who has humbly submitted himself. Thus, should you come to the prayer, empty your heart of the ephemeral world and what it contains and occupy yourself with vigilant awareness of your Master for whose sake you are praying. Firmly believe that your prayer is humility and abasement for the sake of Allah…’ Shaykh Abd al-Rahman al-Akhdari
This is your circumstance. This is the place, space, situation Allah has put you in. Faith, worship, Allah can be sought everywhere.
‘The space you found yourself in was not in your control, said Akram… your circumstances were given to you by Allah… tend to this cycle of faith, said Akram, rather than worrying about your circumstances.’ (If the Oceans were Ink)
5. Podcast recommendations
- Freshly Grounded
- Qalam Institute
- Yaqeen Institute
I pray Allah gives you everything your soul needs this Ramadan. I pray Allah gives you the peace, light and guidance you seek in him. I pray Allah makes you an embodiment of the good you seek. I pray this Ramadan heals you.
I pray we can ‘be the light we seek from You [Allah]’. (Shaykh Omar Suleiman)
lots of good thoughts and prayers,
*If you’re in Cambridge and ever need an iftar, my kitchen is always open.