Lecture by Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick | Hosted by Br. Abdullah Syed | Transcribed by Zara T.
[The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]
[Br. Abdullay Syed]: Asalamualaykum warahmatulahi wabarakatuhu. This is Abdullah Sayyad, your host, on Day 9 of Ramadan Prep, and I just want to say thank you to everyone that’s out here on our webcast online or whether they’re joined in via Skype over phone. Alhamdulilah we have our dear shaykh with us as well.
Before we get started, viewers and listeners, I would like to encourage you to go ahead and invite all of your friends and families whether they’re inside your home, whether they’re online, whether you can text message them or Google chat them or Facebook them please go ahead and put that status up of Ramadanprep.com/live inshaAllah. And I would like to quickly introduce the shaykh. He doesn’t need any introduction. MashaAllah I’m sure you have all heard his lectures, maybe seen his YouTube videos, perhaps have attended his Al Maghrib classes or any other sessions by him. So inshaAllah I’ll just read a quick introduction that I got from the AlMaghrib Institute’s website.
Of course he is coming to us live from Toronto and I want to give a shout out to our camera man there, Br. Ozair, who is inshaAllah recording this and putting this online on the YouTube channel. You can you on Quran Weekly and you can subscribe to the YouTube channel
So Shaykh Abdullah, he’s also called Dr. Quick and mashaAllah he has accomplished a life time worth of achievements spanning many continents, enlightening many millions of Muslims alhamdulilah. He was born in the United States of America. He accepted Islam in Canada in the year 1970 mashaAllah. He pursued his study of Islam in the Islamic University of Madinah in Saudi Arabia where he graduated and received ijaazat from the colleges of Dawah and Islamic Sciences in 1979. He was one of the first two students from the West. He later completed his Masters degree and doctorate in African History at the University of Toronto in Canada. He’s one of the few people that whenever I think of Islamic history, his name comes to mind. I’m really honored and glad to have him here on Ramadan Prep. InshaAllah we will just get started with your presentation, Jazakumallahu Khairan.
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick]: All praises are due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. And surely, Allah is the friend and protector of the righteous. I bear witness that Allah is one and has no partners and that Muhammad, the son of Abdullah, is His servant and His last messenger. May Allah always and constantly send peace and blessings to Muhammad, to his family, to his companions, to all those who call to his way and establish his sunnah till the Day Of Judgment. As to what follows, my beloved brothers and sisters, Asalamualaykum warahmatulahi wabarakatuhu. And special salams to the Ramadan Prep and Quran Weekly viewers. We pray that Allah aza wajjal would bless you and bless me and this ummah at the coming of this momentous occasion, blessed, glorious month, Ramadan. May Allah aza wajjal give this ummah its reward, great reward, that would enable them in this life to take a leading position in the world and would also give them forgiveness for the hereafter.
I also pray that Allah would send peace and blessings to our beloved Prophet Muhammad and all those striving in his way, all those who are suffering, all those who have fallen, all those who are sick, may Allah give them shifaa and may this blessed month of Ramadan be a source of consolidation for them; a source that their strength in their body can come forward and that they can be blessed in this life and the hereafter. The month of Ramadan is a glorious occasion. And it is a special time. and with this coming of the blessed month of Ramadan, especially this particular month in the life of the Prophet Muhammad , this made a major change in the history of humanity. This was the time of the revealing of the last testament. The Quran came down in the 27th night of this month and it was, we could say, the final major contact between Allah aza wajjal, creator of the heavens and the earth, and humanity.
And Allah tells us in the glorious Quran, in Suraht’l-Baqarah verse 185, The month of Ramadan was that time in which the Quran was revealed as a guidance to humanity and clear evidence from the guidance and the Furqan. The furqan is that which separates truth from falsehood, light from darkness, and so this month of Ramadan was a special occasion. It’s a unique time that believers need to take advantage of. It’s a special period of existence given by the creator of the heavens and the earth in order for believers to raise their darajah, their level, but also to make an impact in the world itself
I want to look at Ramadan in terms of its relationship with history, relationship with human beings, and the essence of this month itself. In many cases, people have the wrong understanding of this month. You will find in many parts of the world during the month of Ramadan, people gather their food together and they fix their house up, they get a new bed, sheets, pillows, and what not. They prepare themselves for what we would call in Canada, “hibernation.” Hibernation, as you know, the animals in the cold weather, especially animals who are not able to migrate, when the cold season comes in, they’ll hide inside of trees, they’ll go down into the ground, and their body goes into a sort of suspended animation. Their temperature lowers, their heartbeat lowers, and they stay in that state until the coming of the spring. When the spring season comes, they return to their normal functions and they go back into the world.
Similarly, there are Muslims in many parts of the ummah who have the wrong understanding of the month of Ramada in that they look at the month as a time in where they involve themselves mainly in sleep. There are some countries, the people after salahtul Fajr, they immediately go to sleep and stay in bed all the way until Dhuhr. Those who Allah has mercy on will wake up and make salahtul Dhuhr. Then they go back to sleep all the way until Asr and those that Allah has mercy on will get up and make salahtul Asr. Then between Asr and Maghrib they get up and they make their drinks and their samosas, their food and what not. Finally, they break their fast and then they eat and drink until the rising of the dawn. This is completely opposite to the time of the Prophet Muhammad . It is opposite to the revelation itself because we see that Allah aza wajjal is telling us “This is a guidance for humanity. This is a clear evidence. This is the time when truth is separated from falsehood.” And therefore, through the text of this verse and through the life of the Prophet Muhammad , we can say that Ramadan is actually the time of heightened activity. It is a time of focus; spiritual focus, it is also a time that people look into their own lives to try to make some change. They look at their family, they look at their society, they are in a special state, blessed by Allah aza wajjal to be fasting, to be controlling their desires, they are in the world but not of the world. In that state, Allah blesses the ummah to make great accomplishments during this time.
And when we look at the life of the Prophet Muhammad , we see that of course number one, in the 27th night during the Makkan period, this is when the Quran was revealed, and the Prophet Muhammad wasn’t in his house, he wasn’t in his bed, he was on a mountain and it was in a cave that the angel Jibreel came to him, revealed this Quran, he revealed to him Read in the name of your Lord who has created , He created man from a clot of blood. And so this revelation that he got, this communication from the creator of the heavens and the earth, this caused him to rise, he was going out of his mind, he fled down to his home, his wife covered him up, but it was this communication that changed his consciousness. It was this time period that actually brought on the prophet hood. And so this is the contact, the final contact, this is the major action between Allah , from above 7 heavens to humanity, to communicate in the words of Allah , a divine revelation to last all the way until the Day Of Resurrection. So right from the beginning in the Makkan period, Ramadan was that transition point, it was that point that brought on the prophet hood, it was here that the revelation began
Prophet Muhammad did not actually have a special relationship in the month of Ramadan until actually the Madinah period. And we find that the Prophet peace be upon him had 9 Ramadans during the Madinah period and it was here that we see major actions that took place. We see that it was a time of activity, that the companions of the Prophet look forward to the month. They didn’t see it as a time where they would be in a dream-like state. They saw it as a time for action, a time to clean out their bodies, clean out their lives, clean out their homes, and also to call to the good and to forbid evil. And so it was during this time that the Prophet Muhammad set for us a unique approach to fasting.
Fasting in many societies was a type of punishment that was put onto the body. In many religions, people believed that the fast actually burns away your sins. That through the pain and suffering of deprivation, that the individual actually raises to another stage. Fasting for some people is used for a political thing. The hunger strike. For other people, it is a way for them to lose weight in their body, it’s a social thing. There are different approaches to fasting. In the case of Islam, as we have learned from the Quran, fasting is in order that you would have the consciousness of God. And so taqwa, the essence of fasting is taqwa and taqwa is fear and hope. You fear the punishment of Allah and you hope for the mercy of Allah. Fear and hope are both action oriented qualities. When you fear something, you run away from it. When you hope in something, you move towards it. So taqwa is an active element that comes into the life of an individual, raises his consciousness, and brings him closer to the creator of the heavens and the earth.
So the Prophet Muhammad , right from the beginning, started to change what was around him during this month. It’s reported in the first month after the hijrah that Hamza ibn Abdul Mutallib was sent to Saif al Bahar with 30 riders – it was during the month of Ramadan – in order to investigate the Quraysh because information had come to the believers that the Quraysh had sent 300 riders. And so Hamza was sent at that time, in the month of Ramadan, in order to confront evil, and by the mercy of Alla aza wajjal, he returned safely, and it was a local person who actually came between the Muslims and the mushrikeen. The point is that the Prophet did not see his companions as As habul Kahf. They were not the people of the cave. He sent them out in the month of Ramadan, he sent them out to confront evil, to stand up against that which was confronting them.
In the second year after the hijrah…
it is reported that Abu Sufyan from Makkah, with a huge caravan, had stolen the goods of the believers in Makkah and made his way to Syria, he was on his way back. The Prophet gathered his companions, 313 companions gathered together in order to take back what was theirs. And so they were prepared during the month of Ramadan not to sit, but to go out and to confront and to bring to justice the wrong that was done to them in Makkah. By the will of Allah, Abu Sufyan escaped but Makkah sent over 1000 warriors. And so this 17th of Ramadan is what is known as yawmul furqan. It is the day of the separation of truth from falsehood.
This time that the Prophet and his companions being outnumbered, facing a massive army from the Quraysh, it’s at this time that Allah aza wajjal gave them strength. They slept in the evening, they woke filled with iman, Allah separated truth from falsehood. It is reported that angels were on the battlefield. It is reported that Allah gave one of the greatest victories in the history of Islam during this time
Because it was with this furqan, with this separation of truth from falsehood, that Muslims were now recognized as a force. That Muslims were now recognized not as a band of refugees who were running, but as strong believers who were ready to stand up and to defend themselves. And so Ramadan, every time it came, the believers prepared themselves. The believers focused on the book of Allah aza wajjal, focused on themselves, and not only just took it in, they didn’t just take in the knowledge, but they actually practiced the knowledge that they were taking from the book of Allah as it was being revealed. And so, that process is a very important one. That we read the Quran with melodious tones and tajweed, we think of what is being revealed, that we follow its commands, that we implement it, we put it into practice.
In the 5th year after the hijrah…
terrible news came to Madinah. The Prophet and his companions were informed that a large army, over 10,000 mushrikeen from Makkah and the major tribes of the Arabian peninsula had assembled a force and were on their way to destroy Madinah. With 10,000 warriors, they actually had more soldiers than the men, women, and children in the city itself. For the mushrikeen, this was the final solution. This was complete genocide that they had in their minds and it was during this time that Ramadan was now coming in. And it was cold. So they needed to make a solution. The Prophet , following the words of Allah, “and their affairs are dealt with in mutual consultation” gathered believers together in shura. Salman al Farsi , a Persian man, a new Muslim, came forward with an idea and said that we in Persia, when we’re surrounded by a major enemy, we build a trench. And therefore protecting ourselves and it makes a large army into a small force because they have to cross over the trench. And so the preparation for the Battle of the Trench happened in the month of Ramadan. And it was during this time in the cold that they had to use their hands, pick axes, and they had to cover the northern side of Madinah, building a trench that was so wide that a horse could not leap over it, and they were able to protect themselves. It was during this time that the Prophet Muhammad and his companions were suffering and a huge stone was in front of them. They called the beloved messenger peace be upon him and he struck it and said “I see the Persian empire opening.” He hit it again, “I see the Roman empire opening” he hit it again, “ I see the empires of the world.” They were surprised, “how can you see the empires of the world when we are about to be surrounded and killed?” but he had the greater picture. It was Ramadan that gave him that connection. It’s that taqwa, it’s that consciousness of Allah that puts you in the world but not controlled by the world. And so guidance to humanity, and clear evidence, separating truth from falsehood.
In the 6th yr after the hijrah…
the Prophet sent Zaid ibn Haritha to wady al quraa, to a woman who was controlling a tribe, her name was Fatimah bint Rabiy’a and she controlled 50 swords, she hung 50 swords in her tent for the 50 horsemen; and she had threatened the believers and Zaid was sent during that time to forbid the evil, and it was at that time that this major incursion from the hostile tribes was put down in the month of Ramadan. It wasn’t a time of sleep. It was a time of action, and the believers went into action and Allah aza wajjal gave them victory in the month of Ramadan.
In the 8th yr after the hijrah…
it is during this time that the treaty of Alhudaybiyah was broken. And so the 10 year peace that was agreed upon between Makkah and the Muslim ummah, that 10 year peace was ended. Prophet Muhammad gathered together the believers and they moved towards Makkah in the month of Ramadan. Instead of sitting, instead of waiting, many people would say “ok its Ramadan, I’m busy, I’m fasting, I need to get my sleep, let’s wait till Shawwal” Prophet went out during this month and it’s during this month that Allah gave one of the greatest victory, if not the greatest victory in the history of Islam to the Prophet and this ummah; and that was fathul makkah. that was the opening up of makkah where the Prophet peace be upon him confronted the cities and where Alla aza wajjal put fear in their hearts and the people surrendered.
The Prophet peace be upon him took over the city during this time with no violence, with no fighting, Makkah was opened up. Remember after being driven out of their homes, after being exiled and tortured, they come back in the month of Ramadan, it was the 21st day of Ramadan that they went in, fathul Makkah, Allah blessed them. They started on the 10th of Ramadan and it was the 21st now, the opening of Makkah; right in the middle of the month, right at the time going into the last 10 days that Allah gave them victory. This was the opening up of Makkah. not only was this the time for the opening up of this mighty city, but it was also a time when Allah cleansed the kabah from all forms of idolatry. It is reported that in the month of Ramadan, the major idols Lat, Manaat, Suwaa, they were all destroyed during this month. And so this was a time of action. The Prophet peace be upon him and his companions came into the city, they forgave the people of Makkah, and they began taking down the signs of polytheism, cleaning the house of Allah aza wajjal, they went inside the kabah, they took down the idols, they stopped the nakedness, the killing, the prostitution, the alcohol consumption, the evil, the murder, all the things that were going on in the month of Ramadan.. Makkah was changed from a city of evil, it was changed into Makkahtul Mukarramah, into that righteous holy city that people go to all around the world. When did it happen? In the month of Ramadan.
In the 9th year after the hijrah…
right after the opening of Makkah, Ramadan was now coming in again. But this time they were confronted not by Arabian tribes, they were confronted by the power of Rome, and so probably the greatest military strength on the face of the planet earth challenged the believers in the month of Ramadan. And it was during this time that the Muslims prepared themselves, they started to give in the path of Allah.
Uthman ibn Affan gave what would be considered millions of dollars today, gave this towards the believers. Abu Bakr, Umar, Talha, Saad, Abdur Rahman ibn Auf , believing women took off their jewelry, they gave their itr, all of this happened in the month of Ramadan and they moved towards the Romans, prepared themselves with 30,000 believers, they went forward to face an army which could go up to 150,000. It was during the month of Ramadan and it was hot at that time. They had to cross the desert. And so it was during this month that they went through one of the most difficult time periods in the desert up until the point where, the army is called jaysh al ‘usr, it was the army of difficulty, they went through the desert, they fasted, they submitted to Allah and Allah aza wajjal put fear into the hearts of the Romans and they never came.
And so the battle of Tabuk was a great victory and was won by the believers without any major fasting. The greatest struggle was in the month of Ramadan. The greatest struggle was making the intention, going forward.
Ramadan has come in, it’s during the warm weather, the grapes are there, the dates are ripened, the water is sweet, it is a time you want to relax, but no they went forward in the path of Allah and Allah aza wajjal gave them a victory which not only gave them a strong reputation pre-eminence in Makkah and Madinah, but it gave them pre eminence throughout the Arabian peninsula. And it was in that year, 9th year after the hijrah, that Allah aza wajjal then gave victory to the believers and opened up, you could say, the whole of the Arabian peninsula because from then, it was the year of the delegations.
Right after the 9th year after hijrah, delegations started coming into Madinah. One of the most important delegations that came to Madinah was the delegation of the people of Taif. Taif was the place the Prophet had gone to seeking refuge in the Makkan period. He left out of Makkah feeling really bad, he went to Taif looking for some sort of solidarity with the people. He was stoned at that time till the blood ran down into his sandals. He didn’t give up. The angel of the mountains came and informed that he would destroy Taif, just give the word, but the Prophet said no because maybe there will be someone among these people who will worship one God and not associate partners.
And so in the 9th year after the hijrah, in the month of Ramadan, people from Taif came to Madinah and accepted Islam in crowds. And they fasted with the believers. The kings of Yemen, a very old society, famous kings, also embraced Islam during the month of Ramadan and a special treaty was made with them, special rules were made to govern their ancient kingdom.
In the 10th yr after the hijrah…
they didn’t quit then. Prophet sent Ali Ibn Talib to Yeman. Yeman which was considered to be probably the oldest civilization in the Arabian peninsula. Yeman wanted more information about Islam. The tribes were starting to come in. And so Ali ibn Talib went to Teman and the tribe of Hamdaan accepted Islam, every single man, woman and child, in the month of Ramadan. So Ramadan was a time of dawah as well; outreach, calling to Allah aza wajjal. It was a time of clear evidence. It was a time of guidance, where humanity is entering Islam, where humanity is able to now go through the shades and the darkness of disbelief and see clearly the light of tawheed.
After the death of the Prophet saw, the believers continued and struggled during this time. And it is reported that 53 years after the hijrah, the Muslims opened up the strategic island of Rhodes. It was at that time Rhodes island, very difficult, it was done during the month of Ramadan, and the believers opened it up
91 years after the hijrah, the time has now gone by but the spirit of Islam is still there. It was during this time that Islam had spread right across North Africa and the Muslims led by Musa ibn Nusayr who sent Tariq ibn Ziad. What many people do not know is that 91 AH, Musa ibn Nusayr, after he had heard that the Jewish people and the Unitarian Christians were being tortured in Spain and Portugal, he sent Tareef bin Malik with a small force in the month of Ramadan and they entered into Spain and countered the enemy and they returned.
Following this, the ameer Musa [rah] sent Tariq ibn Ziad, they landed on a mountain, jabl Tariq, which is now known as Jibralta. They landed there and they were confronted with an army of over 100,000 Trinitarians. The Muslim army, the small army, after they got their reinforcements only became around 19,000. They confronted 100,000 men and Allah aza wajjal gave them victory. They stood up for the truth, they came to liberate the land, to lift the oppression off the Jewish people and off the Unitarian Christians, to open up a land for Islam, and Allah gave them victory during that time. And it is reported that the fighting was so difficult that they continued to struggle and fight right through the last days of the month, right through these days, 3 days of Eid, they were still on the battlefield. And finally Allah gave them victory and it is from that point, and the real crisis comes in, in those last days in the month of Ramadan, the night of power, Allah gave them victory and they were able to not only open up the southern part of Spain, but they continued until the Muslims controlled most of the Iberian peninsula right up to the Pyrenees mountains of France. So Allah separated truth from falsehood. It was at that time that Muslims took a stand. People were suffering. Even people of other religions were finding themselves in difficulty. And so it was in the month of Ramadan that Allah gave victory to the believers and those who stood for the truth.
Following this, we find educational achievements…
The great Azhar university was actually founded 361 yeas after the hijrah. It was founded in the month of Ramadan. And you’ll see that many great institutions are being founded during this time. You’ll see that people focusing on the book of Allah aza wajjal are very much attuned to education, wanting to apply the Quran. And so they read it in a beautiful way, they reflect on it, and they follow its commands. And so that process in the month of Ramadan, this we can see, is one of the great gems coming out of this month
Following this, many great victories happened…
Amongst them probably the two most prominent times that I want to leave you with, 584 years after the hijrah, the great sultan Salahuddin [rah] made remarkable victories in the month of Ramadan. After the great victory, after they had opened up Jerusalem and people were so joyous, Salahuddin continued. And it was during Ramadan that he opened up Syrian cities. It was during this time that believers took a stance. We can only pray that Allah aza wajjal would bring peace to the bilad’l-Shaam during these times and that Allah aza wajjal would also bring about believers who can consolidate their country and bring back peace and unity and love inside of Syria, in such a beautiful country that should not be torn up in the way that we see it torn up today.
Probably one of the greatest victories in the history of Islam after the time of the Prophet Muhammad , happened in the month of Ramadan. And this happened approximately 658 years after the hijrah. It was at that time that the Muslims in Baghdad had reached a very high level of civilization. Baghdad was probably the jewel of the world at that time. But the contradiction that happened was although they had so much wealth and so much power, there were no hujjaj who went from Baghdad to Makkah. the ulema were only paid small amounts of money and small groups of rich people just drowned themselves in the life of this world.
Nationalism, tribalism, oppression, the weak being defeated and conquered by the strong, this type of corruption spread throughout the Muslim world. It’s at that time that a man was raised up in Mongolia, his people were attacked by Muslims and he went to his son god and said “there is only one sun in the heaven and there is only one khan on this earth” and Genghis Khan unleashed onto the muslm world a punishment, a purification, which we have not seen in any other time in the history of Islam.
He unleashed his forces. Hundreds and thousands of people were put to the sword. And because the Muslims were not united, because they were not fearing Allah aza wajjal, because they were so engrossed in the life of this world, the Mongol forces continued to move east until they reached Baghdad and they sacked this beautiful city, the river Tigris and Euphrates ran black with the ink from the books. It ran red with the blood of the people. Over a million people were killed. Innalilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon.
This was a tremendous; this was a terrible catastrophe that struck the Muslims. But it was not only terrible because of that, it was terrible because the Mongols extended their intention, they looked towards Syria, they even started talking about taking Makkah and Madinah. Europe was trembling at that time.
No power on earth could stand in the way of the Mongol force. It was the most fearsome army ever put together. More people were slaughtered in a 20 year period than probably any other time in human history. It’s at that time that Allah aza wajjal raised up in Egypt Saif ud deen al Quttus(?) ..Abdu Mamluk. He raised him up and with the guidance of Allah aza wajjal, he united the believers and put together a force of united Muslims and they met the Mongols in a place called ayn jalut.
Terrible things had been done. The Mamluks turned to Allah aza wajjal. Right at their doorstep, the Mongol army had reached even into the Sinai peninsula. They were threatening to come into Cairo itself. They sent a message to the Mamluks telling them “submit, you have no other choice” Saif udeen Quttus came forward in the month of Ramadan. He came forward against this tremendous force of evil.
What was the day? Yawmul jummah, the 25th of Ramadan. And so in laylatul jummah, this 25th night, a possible night of the night of power, it is during this time they prayed to Allah aza wajjal and they went forward in the break of the dawn, they confronted the Mongols. It was one of the greatest victories in the history of humanity. Because if the Muslims had not stopped the Mongol hoards, only Allah knows what they would have done to the rest of Africa, to the rest of Arabia, and then gone onto Europe and the rest of the world. Allah separated truth from falsehood during this time in the month of Ramadan. And this again is a tradition set by the Prophet peace be upon him, set through Allah who told us “it is during this month the Quran was revealed as a guidance to humanity and clear evidence from the guidance and that which separates truth from falsehood.”
May Allah enable us to also separate truth from falsehood during this month. May Allah aza wajjal help us to deal with our own demons, the demons in our families, the evil around us, may Allah aza wajjal give us that tawfiq and success to be able to make great achievements during this month. May Allah give victory to the believers in Syria and all the parts of the world where people are suffering and falling down. May this month of Ramadan be a time of great victory, of great opening, may Allah answer our prayers and forgive us of our sins.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Shaykh, before we get to the Q&A that’s coming in, I want to ask you a question inshaAllah if that’s okay. I wanted to ask you, you know mashaAllah it’s very motivating when we see somebody become Muslim, it rejuvenates all the muslims’ hearts. We would love to hear your story about how you became Muslim
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Oh, well alhamdulilah I don’t consider myself anything but one of the believers. Allah blessed me as a young man growing up in the United States in the city of Boston in a Christian family. My mother was very devout and I used to go to the church and I was really looking for something. I was looking for something in the Lord’s prayer where it speaks about the father. And so I wanted to worship the creator and I found too many contradictions in the church with the idols and the statues and the pictures. So I left the church and I went searching for knowledge in the 60’s in America. Travelled across the United States, tried different religions. Finally I found myself in Canada, travelling throughout the world trying to seek knowledge. And by the mercy of Allah , I was actually in the streets and I only had about $37 in my pocket. I never forget, I came to this house and there was a sign Room for Rent, I asked them and they said “$37” and there was a Pakistani spice store underneath the room. And I saw the Quran and I was looking for something and I started to read it, and I was really interested, and they took me down to the masjid and Dr. Ahmed Sakr, a famous Lebanese dawah person, was in Toronto at the time and he put it in a beautiful way and I was ready. Because I was searching for something to give me a world view, also that I could practice my religion in a practical way, raise a family, deal with society, a complete way of life. That’s what I was looking for. And alhamdulilah Islam answered all of my questions and I pray that Allah would help me remain on the path for the rest of my life.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Ameen ameen and all of us, May Allah keep us all on the straight path. There are a lot of interesting questions coming in. We’ll start with one from Toronto Canada, it says Asalamualaykum warahmatullah, my question is how do I maintain concentration during taraweeh prayer? I find it very hard to have concentration with the screaming children, constantly moving people, and just in general, how do I keep my concentration in the taraweeh prayer?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] As far as concentration in the salahtul taraweeh, I think it is important, number one, to try to find that masjid where the imam, the qari, is actually reading in a very soft way, in a very organized way, and not too fast. Try to find that masjid that has a good environment. Also realize that taraweeh is not only done at the masjid, sometimes you can do it at home. The prophet did it at home on some occasions. In the masjid itself, we don’t want what they call express taraweeh, where they’re reading so fast that you cant understand what’s being read. The beauty of it is to try to find where the qari is. If he’s in the first juz, Surahtul Baqarah, we should try to read Surah Baqarah before so that when he reaches certain points, we can actually try to follow the meaning. Because the more you understand the meaning, the more you can concentrate, so its not just words. There was a Libyan reader who came to Toronto from Libya. He was reading so beautifully, I was just living through the stories. So the more you can prepare yourself, in other words, don’t just come blind into the masjid. Try to follow along where the qari is and look at the verses the night before. Try to follow along so that you actually get a review and you think about what is in the verses. This is the key thing. Concentration, we have to again realize we’re standing facing the creator of the heavens and the earth, but also the book of Allah, its not just words. It’s revelation from Allah . Focus on the meaning and try to find a good environment to make the salah.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair, shaykh. I have a few more questions. One of them is coming form the Philippines. There is a new revert sister MashaAllah. This is her first Ramadan. She’s a bit scared. She’s asking how do I survive this first Ramadan? How did shaykh Abdullah when he first became Muslim, survive his first Ramadan?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Well the first thing you have to realize is that when you first accept Islam, you don’t have to do everything immediately. In other words, you try the best that you can. The way the Islamic law is set up, the person who accepts Islam does not immediately have to do everything within Islam. And so you try your best. When I first accepted Islam, I was serious. I wanted to change my life and I said ‘I’m gonna do this’. And so I fasted immediately. I just held myself until the evening. Once you make the intention, you’d be surprised how the body actually responds. It seems like a long time not to eat and drink but you’ll see how your body will get used to it. I can recall that first night of taraweeh when I went to the masjid and I lined up with the brothers. I stood in the line and made four rakat salahtul Isha and then they made sunnah and then they stood up and started making twenty rakat of prayer and I was in that line and I said, ‘If this is Islam, I don’t know if I can make it. I don’t know if I can do this.’ But then one of the intelligent brothers pulled me over and he said “No, Abdullah. You don’t have to do this. This is a special prayer in the month of Ramadan. You can sit down.” Right away, I realized that the religion is ease. The prophet said, ‘Make things easy, don’t make it difficult.’ Look at Islam as it’s going to liberate your body, it’s going to liberate your mind, and go into the fast in an enjoyable way. If it is really difficult, you’re really feeling sick, you can break your fast. Speak with the local imam there and try to regulate yourself with somebody with knowledge, and may Allah make it easy for you during this month.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair, Shaykh. We really make duaa for all of our new revert brothers and sisters and all those who are fasting for the first time, may Allah make it super easy for them inshaAllah this Ramadan.
Going to another question, this one is from Bangladesh. The sister is asking, is it compulsory for women to make itikaaf? What are the minimum number of hours a woman should make itikaf? And can she make itikaf at home instead of the masjid?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Okay our topic tonight is Ramadan and history. This sort of takes us a little bit off. She should realize itikaaf is not compulsory, number one. It is a sunnah. It is something which is a way the prophet , it’s encouraged to do it, its sunnah. It is permissible, if there are facilities in the masjid, for women to make itikaf in the masjid. She could also make a type of itikaf in her home. But the specific itikaf of the prophet is inside of a Jami’ masjid, and I know in Capetown and some places here in Toronto as well, we make an area where women can also get involved. Don’t look at it as fard, as something that you have to do. Take it easy and do as much as you possibly can.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair, Shaykh. Another question, kind of off topic, but I think its very important for a certain age group. It was actually asked a couple of days ago but I didn’t have the right words to phrase the question so I’ll go ahead and phrase it. Last time, it was asked from the US. This time its being asked from Karachi, Pakistan. The question is: While we’re fasting, how do we basically, do not have sexual thoughts? I don’t have any other good way of putting it. How do we put a hijab on our sexual thoughts?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Number one, we have to realize that fasting itself is not just avoiding food and drink. Some people look at fasting as just staying away from food and drink. The prophet said ‘Some people fast and they get nothing from their fast but hunger. Other people stand in the night and get nothing but sleeplessness.’ So it’s not just a struggle against food and drink. Fasting is also a fast of the mind, a fast of the eyes, your eyes should stay away from looking at evil things. Turn the tv off, don’t be in the movie houses. Lower your gaze. Your ears should be fasting as well. Your tongue should fast. Stop swearing. Your hands should fast. Don’t be involved in evil things with your hands. Your feet should fast in the sense that they don’t take you to evil places. Your heart should be fasting in that you try to rid yourself of pride and jealousy and anger. It’s a complete fast. Keep yourself busy, look at your day and structure your time and say I’ll read the Quran during this time, I’ll sleep at this time, I’ll be involved in dhikr at this time. You’re also supposed to go to work and school. The prophet and his companions confronted evil. So if you say “I’m going to confront evil.” If that evil thought comes in your mind from yourself, you seek refuge, make istiaza from the shaythan. Audhubillahi min al-shaytan’l-rajeem. You don’t have to worry about the jiin. The evil jiin are in chains in Ramadan. Whatever is coming from your mind is from yourself. The struggle of good and bad in yourself, confront it. Look at yourself as a strong person, I can stay away from food and drink, I’m going to confront evil wherever I find it. With that intention inshaAllah, and your prayers to Allah, I believe Allah can protect you and guide you.
[Br. Abdullah Syed]: Jazakumullah Khair Shaykh. So to read another question for you, it’s from Sydney, Australia. The person is asking, why is it today we are told during Ramadan to focus ourselves on the personal ibadah and on our schedule and basically on our personal things. And then we see around the globe, Muslims in strive and struggle in Burma and other places. How are we expected to focus on our personal ibadaat when there is so much going on across the world?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] The example of the companions of the prophet was that they would worship Allah during the evening and they would be horsemen during the day. So in other words, you can combine both things. There are five times when you deal with your ibadah, and your fasting as well. But at the same time, this is the time when we need to confront evil wherever we find it. This is the time when Allah has given us victories throughout our history and so I agree, this is a time when Muslims should make major achievements. Challenge yourself. Challenge evil around you. Challenge the society. Try to do something that you don’t think you can do in the month of Ramadan. Look at it as a time of activity and this is how it should be. Not just the time to read the Quran, go to sleep, eat your samosa, and then go to sleep again
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair. May Allah make all our difficulties easy all across the world, ameen. Another question is, what lessons are we supposed to derive from the victorious events that happened during the month of Ramadan? Why are we learning all this stuff that happened in Ramadan in history?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] We are learning this to see that Ramadan is not an end unto itself. That Ramadan is actually a door which is opening up. Ramadan trains us to actually implement Islam. That angelic state that we are in is not to stay as a monk in a monastery or a nun in a nunnery. We are supposed to take that angelic state out to the world itself. Implement it in our life. So if we have this type of attitude, then after the month of Ramadan, we’ll be a changed person. This really is the essence of the month itself. This is a training period. It’s a challenge from the creator. Our load is lightened during this month and we need to take advantage of the fact that our load is lightened and to go forward to try to meet these challenges during this blessed time.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair. This question is from New York. MashaAllah Jazakumullah Khair for the lecture, I really enjoyed it. Do you have any tips on how Muslims can also achieve such amazing things as our Muslim brothers and sisters in the past? Any tips for us in the current state?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Well every long journey begins with one step, and every great achievement begins with an opening. And you know, if we make the intention and we follow the Sunnah, the rules set up for fasting and we try to achieve something, and can ask Allah to use us for Islam. And don’t think all the major achievements are the achievements on the battlefield. These are what we hear about in history but some of the greatest achievements are individual achievements. Kindness being done, Islam being spread, children being given love, education, helping the needy, giving back to society. The prophet used to give more in Ramadan than any other time during the year. So this is a time of giving as well. We can make some of these small achievements in our own lives, in our own societies, during the month of Ramadan, if we keep our eyes open for these opportunities when it arises in front of us. And we pray that Allah would use us possibly for the major achievements, but we have to realize that these major achievements come with a price. It is not easy and Allah is the one who will choose those to be shaheed and those to be taken up to Him in a special position.
[Br. Abdullah Syed] Jazakumullah Khair. Our last question for today before a couple of announcements, and this question is actually from MashaAllah one of our volunteers here in Texas. She asks: Asalamualaykum shaykh, do you have any recommendations for trustworthy books to learn Islamic history, any videos, any books, some that could be written by yourself or anybody else?
[Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick] Well you know there are a number of books, the seerah itself, start off with the seerah. Al Raheeq al Makhtoom, Mubarakpoori, has done an abbreviated version of the biography of the prophet Muhammad . If you know Arabic, you go into Ibn al Khatir, his history, Bidaya wa Nihayah. And you try to read Ibn al Qayyim’s Zaad al Ma’ad and then you go to the different history books you can get and it’s a very vast field, Shaykh Abdul Hassan al-Nadawi has done some excellent work in history and there are a number of books, keep in touch with us, with AlMaghrib, maybe possibly through AlMaghrib you can get in touch with me and I can give you a more detailed list. There’s a huge list, it depends on which part of history and where you want to go. Through the AlMaghrib institution, inshaAllah you can be in touch with me and I’ll try to give you some more information. May Allah bless you and all those viewers and listeners. May Allah accept us in the month of Ramadan.