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Tips for Ramadan Taraweeh (Tarawih) Prayers

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Gateway to all Ramadan related posts on MM

Here are a few things that I have learnt over the past few years of attending Taraweeh prayers, masha’Allah:

Tip number one: Do not fill your belly to bursting point at iftaar time! I’m sure you’ve heard that many times already, but it’s worth repeating; it’s that important to remember. If the masjid is too warm, you’ll get sleepy during Qiyam. If you go for all 20 rakaat, you’ll likely get a stitch! Would you eat a full meal an hour before swimming? The same logic applies here.

Tip number two: Try to avoid spicy/smelly foods at iftaar time. Instead, indulge your chilli and garlic tastebuds when you return home. Even if you brush your teeth real well before leaving for the masjid, your breath will still smell of digesting curry, and it’s simply not good manners to inflict others with that kinda hardship! Especially when they’re trying to worship Allah in peace.

Tip number three: Don’t sit or lie down after Iftaar. Get ready to leave for the mosque straight away, as otherwise you’ll just get lazier, and more tired as the seconds tick by. Also, leave the dishes and cleaning until you return home, because it’s just a waste of your precious time at that moment, and it will make you late to get that good spot in the front row!

Tip number four: Take someone with you to the mosque. Having company on your journey has many benefits: one, there is safety in numbers (especially important for sisters travelling late at night); second, if you’re car-pooling, you’ll get the reward of helping fellow Muslims in their worship (and of course, saving the environment); third, it may give you, or your companion, greater encouragement to fulfil the Sunnah of attending the Taraweeh prayers. Basically, it’s all good, insha’Allah!

Tip number five: Read an English translation of the Qur’an, bit by bit, every day. I, personally, do not know very much Arabic; just a few words that are oft-repeated in the Qur’an. Therefore, I tend to easily lose concentration during the recitation, and more importantly, I do not fully appreciate the wisdom, warnings, and lessons that are being shared with me through Allah’s words. IMO, that’s like, 70% of the value of Taraweeh lost, right there! Therefore, this year I decided to take a few minutes out in my day to read the English translation of the part of the Qur’an that I predict the imam will recite the same evening. I’ve asked around, and most imams usually get through a Juz n’ a bit per night, in their aim to complete the Qur’an by the 27th night.

So with this new plan in mind, for the first four nights of Ramadan, I simply read the translation, and went to the mosque empty-handed, and waited for random familiar words to jog my memory. Alhamdulillah, it worked around 50% of the time, and my concentration improved greatly as I intensely listened out for my ‘cues’. However, there were still chunks of recitation where my face was all screwed up in confusion, as I had little idea of what was being said. On the fifth night, I decided to take the translation with me, so I could read short passages during the breaks in between each prayer unit. Alhamdulillah, this drastically improved my rate of recall, and I felt I had a good idea of what was being recited about 90% of the time! Though, admittedly, it does depend on the speed of the reciter.

For best results, calmly read the entire portion that you think will be recited (or as much as you can) before arriving at the mosque. Then, during the rest breaks, speed-read through the few paragraphs that you predict will be recited in the following two rakat.

Of course, if you’re ‘in’ with the imam, you could simply ask him for the exact bits of the Qur’an that he will be covering each night – I don’t have that luxury, hence all the ‘predictions’. :)

If you’re already blessed with a working knowledge of Arabic, masha’Allah, then try to read the tafseer regularly instead, for a deeper appreciation of the recitation.

Tip number six: Save up some dua. Depending on how many rakat your mosque completes per night, you will have multiple opportunities to make dua during the blessed moments of sujood. Pick a few ‘faves’ and try to fit them in when you can.

Tip number seven: A special one for the laydeez. If you’re not in a state to pray Taraweeh due to menses or nifaas (post-childbirth bleeding), you can still benefit from the community spirit of worship, by sitting in a place away from the masallah (i.e., the place where people make sujood), with a copy of the English-Arabic Qur’an, and silently follow the imam as he recites. Make sure not to touch the words of Allah directly in an impure state – wear gloves, or use some other clean barrier to touch the pages.

Disclaimer: I am aware of differences of opinion in this matter, so please consult with your imam or other local knowledgeable person if you’re not sure. If you don’t wish to attend the masjid, then you can always watch an online transmission of the Taraweeh from Masjid-al-Haram in Makkah Mukarramah.

I haven’t been attending Taraweeh for very long, but I aim to make it my own Ramadan tradition, insha’Allah. Employing such small tips helps make the experience more productive and enjoyable. I invite the more seasoned Taraweeh-goers to add your own tips below, for the benefit of all. JazakumAllah khair in advance!

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Dr Mehzabeen b. Ibrahim joined MuslimMatters as a blogger in late 2007 under the handle 'iMuslim', whilst still a struggling grad student. Since then, she has attained a PhD in Molecular Biology and a subsequent Masters in Bioinformatics, and now works as a specialist in this field for a well-known British, medical charity, masha'Allah. Somewhere in between she found the time to get married, alhamdulillah. She likes to dabble in photo and videography, a sample of which can be found on her personal blog: iMuslim.tv.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Avatar

    mcpagal

    August 29, 2009 at 10:29 AM

    Jazakallah for the advice! Sometimes you get into so much of a routine, it’s good to shake things up a bit.

  2. Pingback: Tips for Ramadan Taraweeh (Tarawih) Prayers | iMuslim.tv

  3. Avatar

    Yasir Qadhi

    August 29, 2009 at 11:52 AM

    Great, practical advice!

    My biggest source of irritation is the constant belching that is heard during tarawih – and if you’re unlucky to be next to the guilty party, Allahul musta`an

    Actually, to each his own I guess; sometimes I do lie down for half an hour after iftar, to feel more energized for tarawih. I find that it gives me that ‘boost’ that I need (but only do this if you have had a light iftar!)

    Also, when I was a kid (and didn’t understand Arabic), one of the best ways that I found to retain my concentration was to follow along with the Imam, holding a Quran in hand. There is no problem doing this in tarawih prayer, insha Allah. But holding a translation would present other problems – because then you would begin to read the English and divert your attention away from the Arabic Quran. Your solution would work best (to read in between); or you could combine and read the English before the salat begins and then follow along with the Arabic.

    But for me, the single best way to enjoy tarawih is to find an Imam who recites Quran flawlessly, with a beautiful voice. There is no substitute for that!

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      August 29, 2009 at 12:14 PM

      But for me, the single best way to enjoy tarawih is to find an Imam who recites Quran flawlessly, with a beautiful voice. There is no substitute for that!

      Agreed!

      I used to lie down, but it’s only because there is so little time here between Iftar and Isha, that I feel the need to get ready straight away; I find that I only have 30-40 minutes in between the two – and I only live a few mins away from the masjid. Plus, this year the sisters’ section of the small mosque I attend is packed – if you don’t get in early, you’ll be suffering all night. Though alhamdulillah that more and more sisters are attending the Taraweeh prayers.

      Btw, it is hard to avoid burping a little when you pray straight after eating – even a light meal – but belching?! That sounds like they’re not even trying to cover it up. Don’t they feel embarrassed? I’d be mortified! Or is this a guy thing?

    • Avatar

      SaqibSaab

      August 31, 2009 at 12:35 AM

      Perhaps the advice can be read not necessarily as don’t lie down (energy boost), but rather don’t lie around (set up for laziness).

      JAK for the article!

      • Avatar

        iMuslim

        August 31, 2009 at 8:54 AM

        Well, in the end, they’re ‘tips’ not ‘rules’, so apply whichever you find beneficial for you, insha’Allah. (I actually was originally going to label each point “Rule number 1, 2, 3 before I realized that not everything applies to everyone, hehe)

    • Avatar

      Abu Rumaisa

      August 31, 2009 at 9:55 AM

      I grew up doing this in Saudia but I realised later (in US), not to do so in a masjid where the Imam is Hanafi. He’s likely to be frustrated at u, especially if u give him luqma by reading from the Quran.

  4. Avatar

    ironie101

    August 29, 2009 at 1:46 PM

    If you really want to be able to understand more of the recitation, I’d suggest you go over what ever is to be recited on a particular day – not just the translation, but go over it on a word-to-word translation, whilst listening to your favorite qari reading the same verses. Since it’s just over one chapter a day, it’d take 45-50 mins max.

    This gives you a more in-depth understanding of the words themselves, and you’re struck with just how beautiful the qur’an is – in terms of depth, and yes, even just to listen to.

    Plus, it’d be a real treat. Personally for me, any reason to listen to Sh.Mishary al-Afasy!

    On a serious note, it makes a HUGE difference – whether you read the translation verse-by-verse or word-by-word.

    Check out http://www.emuslim.com/Quran/Translation_English.asp

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      August 30, 2009 at 9:48 AM

      Jazakallah khair for the link to the word-to-word translation resource. I was thinking about it just the other day, so alhamdulillah, my inner prayers have been answered! :)

  5. Avatar

    aarij

    August 29, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    A great tip for taraweeh: start learning Arabic and its application to Qur’an starting today so that by next Ramadan, so the need for a translation is not there. Alhamdulillah, this is THE best preparation for Ramadan.

    See http://www.lqtoronto.com for a great Arabic language course.

    • Avatar

      hamida

      August 30, 2009 at 9:12 AM

      JAK soo much

      i just check out the link , its a great tool for beginners. Learning Arabic for me at this point is very important

  6. Avatar

    checkdis

    August 29, 2009 at 8:05 PM

    Assalamualikum,

    Excellent suggestions. Some extremely handy tips and tools on concentrating in Taraweeh also exchanged here:

    Do you concentrate in Taraweeh?
    http://forums.alkauthar.org/showthread.php?t=6987

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      August 30, 2009 at 9:53 AM

      Jazakallah khair. :)

  7. Avatar

    Mohamed

    August 30, 2009 at 1:14 AM

    Jazakom Allah Khairan for these suggestions

  8. Avatar

    midatlantic

    August 30, 2009 at 4:31 AM

    SubhanAllah there is nothing to lift your eman like a beautiful recitation from someone who you can tell himself is feeling the verses he is reciting in taraweeh.

    My biggest external distraction BY FAR is kids gone wild during taraweeh and handling this delicate issue without offending is very challenging in many masajid I am sure. Perhaps someone can put up a post giving tips on how different masjids deal with this issue.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      August 30, 2009 at 12:30 PM

      Such a post is coming up in the next few days, insha’Allah.

  9. Avatar

    muslimah

    August 30, 2009 at 5:19 AM

    jazakAllah kheir : ) there’s also http://muslimco.com

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      August 30, 2009 at 9:41 AM

      Cool link, masha’Allah! Watching Islam Channel now. :)

  10. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    August 30, 2009 at 8:06 AM

    Salam aleikum,

    One thing I really appreciated about tarawih at Abu Huraira masjid in Scarborough was the fact they were handing out water bottles to everyone because it was getting so hot! I know some other masajid do this but may Allah bless these brothers, to put in such ikhlas into the house of Allah. Really these small things make you really feel welcome and valued as a brother in Islam. They have daily halaqas too, and they record it and stream it online for the sisters! I also like their idea of a Parking pass to deal with Jumuah parking congestion- coordinated with the other buildings in the neighborhood. This is what I call ihsaan! A great example for other masajid! Ma sha Allah la quwatta illah billah, very impressive!! Here is there website: http://www.abuhuraira.org/

    One other tip for tarawih: SMILE LOTS! Its contagious. People get pooped out and tired in Ramadan–headaches, hunger, long worship so you need to smile and be amicable with everyone, just to keep the spirits high, even with strangers– if all they see of you is you smiling goofily from far, it will improve their tarawih experience. Otherwise, everyone seems to look like they are attending a Janaza so put your positivity on steroids! :P

    Baraka Allahu feek
    Jazaka Allahu khayran for the article and alhamdulillah, good to see this sort of discussion happening on bettering ourselves in small, but practical ways that reflect proper intentions.

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      August 30, 2009 at 9:39 AM

      Jazakallah khair bro for the great tips!

      Parking coordination would be great in general. In my area of London, there are many mini-mosques, masha’Allah (about five in the same high street, and more scattered in side streets). So most brothers walk from home, alhamdulillah. Unless they are bringing female family members, and of course sisters drive themselves for security reasons.

  11. Avatar

    Ameera

    August 30, 2009 at 10:09 AM

    Aha! And my tip for attending Taraweeh…

    Leave your negativities at home!

    What do I mean by negativities? Scowling, rude behavior, turning people off from your “exclusive” prayer spot, arguing with people whose children are creating nuisance. The whole experience can go a bit sour when you witness people scowling and telling off others for what can be managed with a lot less negative reaction!

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      August 30, 2009 at 12:34 PM

      Tell me about it! And the way the places right in front of the pedestal fans are fought over! Astaghfirullah!

    • Avatar

      Hibo

      October 15, 2009 at 11:56 AM

      SubhanAllah, thinking about your comment makes me laugh now that I remember the times people at the masjid I attended got upset.

      I remember I accidently turned off the ceiling fan once thinking that I put it at max and boy did I getting an ear full of yelling from sisters dripping of sweat. I apologized profusely but they wouldnt even accept it.

      At the end of the day- I totally love the masjid during Ramadan even with the drama (apparently it prevalent in the sisters side). Smiling back at people who are yelling at you, or even those people who came in with just a negative mood is interesting/fun.. mostly after the fact though.

  12. Avatar

    abs

    August 30, 2009 at 10:53 AM

    i usually drink water to relief dehydrated muscles, use bathroom to answer call of nature, so that i feel much lighter. Brush my mouth 4 dat extra freshness – and go to a mosque where tajweed is sweet and rakats are not too long. Thats me. I guess ppl use their own techniques. Prepare body and spirit.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      August 30, 2009 at 12:33 PM

      Brushing teeth, flossing, miswak – any form of oral hygiene….is a very, very important tip for attending prayers in congregation.

  13. Avatar

    Everyday Muslimah

    August 30, 2009 at 1:33 PM

    Jazzak Allah for sharing this helpful article during this blessed month. I love the tip about “saving some duas for sujood” I always try to keep that in mind.

    I came across this website today and MashahAllah very impressed. Keep up the good work–May Allah bless your efforts. Ameen!

    I’m new to the blog world and would like to invite you all to visit my blog: http://everydaymuslimah-everydaymuslimah.blogspot.com

    I’m looking for followers so please do subscribe. Thank you!

  14. Avatar

    Nahyan

    August 30, 2009 at 4:19 PM

    niice, I liked the “save up du’a” part.

    It’s so much easier said than done eh? Allahumusta’an.

    ————————–
    Here’s a burp tip: (i know, it’s weird we’re discussing this but I smelt the other end of 12 biryani belches few days ago. I avoided looking the brother in the face to not know who it was)

    –> Eat IT
    ————————–

    Instead of blowing it all out and polluting the place, ‘swallow’ the air back — exhale thru nose — inhale with your mouth to ‘swallow’ it further.

    • Avatar

      Ameera

      August 31, 2009 at 1:05 AM

      Not sure how that would work… considering when this is attempted with carbonated drinks, you get mixed results. :S

    • Avatar

      TR

      August 31, 2009 at 6:26 AM

      haha, cool.

  15. Pingback: Tips for Ramadan Taraweeh « Confusingly Simple

  16. Avatar

    Abu Ayesha Al Emarati

    August 31, 2009 at 4:48 PM

    Praying behind an Imam whose recitation is melodious always helps.

    Tajweed is important, at least for me.

    Slow, measured recitation is what I prefer.

    Another Taraweeh tip I have is don’t burn yourself out if you aren’t used to long qiyaam.

    Pace yourself so that once the last 10 are here you can give it your all.

  17. Avatar

    Saleha

    August 31, 2009 at 4:58 PM

    JazakAllah khair for the tips.
    I gotta agree on getting a qari you really love to hear so it can better help you concentrate.
    One thing I’d do differently is wash the dishes before leaving. If you divide up your time accordingly, you’ll have enough inshaAllah. It’s better to go to the masjid stress free and then you can come home without dreading to do dishes when yo’re so tired.

    • Avatar

      UmmOsman

      September 1, 2009 at 1:04 PM

      Assalamo elikuim
      I agree with Sr.Saleha to do dishes before you leave for taraweeh .
      By the time we come back from taraweeh its a mad rush to get everybody to sleep for suhoor , school and job next day.

      Wasalam
      UmmOsman

  18. Avatar

    husham

    September 1, 2009 at 12:02 PM

    Aslamaleikum wrwb

    Personally I would suggest something that is rarely done by people which is to follow the recitation with the quran in your hand. Read the quran as it is being recited for ultimate focus, for learning tajweed (if it is being recited properly) and for memorisation (hifz). I’m not sure if there is a difference in opinion on this matter but I know some people do it and I wouldn’t see anything wrong with it because you are doing it with intentions of learning.

    The question may arise about what to do with the quran when in sujood and the solution is to simply hold the quran in one hand without having to place it on the floor. I know for a fact that when a person is learning to pray – salaah, it is permissable for the person to have the text written in transliteration or otherwise on a piece of paper which they can hold and read while praying to help them learn.

    Take a compact version of the quran for ease when holding.

    Waleikumaslam wrwb

  19. Pingback: [Ramadan Series] 11 Tips to Help You Enjoy Taraweeh This Ramadan! :: Productive Muslim

  20. Pingback: لتكون أكثر نشاط في صلاة التراويح و تصليها يوميا نصائح هامة | ثقافه و صحافة

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  22. Avatar

    Prayer Times Perth

    June 10, 2019 at 2:47 PM

    Jazak’Allah for the advice!

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity
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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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The Etiquettes of Sacrifice for Eid al Adha

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As Eid al-Adha approaches, the staff at MuslimMatters thought it would be beneficial to include some reminders about this blessed Sunnah. For your convenience, we have links to pdfs of the following articles by Imam Mikaeel Smith and Sr Julie Mair if you would like to print them for yourself or to distribute in your community. -Hena Zuberi, Editor in Chief

A Simple Request for Eid al-Adha | Sr Julie Mair

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. It is a blessed time, a time for celebration, a time to share with family and loved ones—but it can also be a time of immense cruelty if the slaughter is not done properly and mercifully. 

Allah Ta’ala tells us in the Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alaihi was sallam, was sent as a rahmatan lil ‘alameena – a mercy to the worlds (Surah al-Anbiya, 21:107). Much has been reported on the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) kind treatment of animals, and some hadith specifically mention animals to be slaughtered:

Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. (Sahih Muslim) 

Etiquettes of the slaughter are often unknown or overlooked, such as: hiding the knife from the animal; slaughtering out of the sight of other animals waiting to be slaughtered; killing in a comfortable way; and avoiding unnecessary suffering. 

Tying an animal’s legs together and leaving it to moan in the hot sun clearly results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Hanging animals together from hooks by their feet and killing them one-by-one results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Even less egregious actions such as dragging an animal or otherwise handling it roughly results in unnecessary suffering. It is incumbent on anyone who is going to slaughter an animal to learn the Islamic requirements and etiquettes of slaughtering so that it is done properly and mercifully.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) warned us, “Someone who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

So please, before this Eid al-Adha, educate yourself on the proper and merciful way to slaughter. If you are going to a farm or other facility, make sure that it will be done correctly. Educate those who do not know. Enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.*

Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like the one who did it. 

(Sahih Muslim)

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. 

To download this article and share in your community, click A Simple Request for Eid

Perfection in all things | Sh Mikaeel Smith

Imam Mikaeel Smith

There are certain narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that are a source of great inspiration and which force one to discover a higher purpose and the deepest of meanings and lessons in the most trivial actions. These narrations, when continually contemplated upon and kept at the forefront of one’s mind, can create a very profound sense of mindfulness and presence throughout one’s day to day affairs. Throughout our day to day life we have to do a number of seemingly mundane actions for our personal well-being and the well-being of those around us. But there is a single narration that teaches us that there is no such thing as a trivial action or a mundane affair for the believer. Everything has a purpose. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said, 

عن أبي يعلى شداد بن أوسٍ رضي الله عنه، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيءٍ، فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القِتْلة، وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذِّبْحة، ولْيُحِدَّ أحدُكم شفرته، ولْيُرِحْ ذبيحته))؛ رواه مسلم.

“Indeed Allah has ordained perfection and excellence in every matter. When you fight, do so with excellence. When you slaughter an animal do so with excellence. Sharpen your knife because this will make it easier for the animal.” (Muslims #1955)

Everything in life is a chance to strive for perfection and thereby fulfill one’s duty to his or her creator and sustainer. While this narration inspires people of all fields to be the best at what they do, the Prophet ‎ﷺ‎‬‎ mentions two specific examples where excellence should be sought. One is in war and situations of conflict and the other is the ritual sacrifice which takes place at the time of the pilgrimage. It should be noted that perfection just like beauty is highly subjective. Therefore as Muslims, we look to the sunnah or way of Muhammad to define perfection for every affair. 

The sacred month of the pilgrimage is getting close and so we are approaching the time to remember and imitate the sacrifice of Ibrāhīm (AS). We imitate him because he is the quintessential example of submission. By imitating his unparalleled level of submission we become pupils to this great teacher. Imitation is the first step for every student. Secondly, we must understand that imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

It is not the meat or blood of this sacrifice which Allah desires from us — rather obedience. That being said we should learn how to do this sacrifice is the best way. 

My personal opinion as an American Muslim who desires to see Islam as an intrinsic aspect of American religious life, I strongly encourage Muslims in America to personal do their sacrifice themselves instead of sending money for their sacrifice to be done overseas. I am completely aware that there are brothers and sisters who need meat more than ourselves. But this train of thought completely misses the objective of this great act of imitation. If a person wants to help poor Muslims around the world one should do so. But not at the expense of teaching their own family the significance of this day. By outsourcing your ibadah we lose the spiritual impact and meaning. We essentially deprive our children and family of participating in the primary act of worship on this great day. Now let us look at some of the religiously recommended actions that one should observe when doing the sacrifice. Striving for excellence in all things, as Muslims, means first and foremost setting one’s moral compass to the “Prophetic North” by reviewing the Prophetic teachings surrounding this great worship.

Below I have listed a few of the etiquette of this sacrifice:

Internal Aspect

  1. One should internally remember the significance of this sacrifice and what it represents. Study the life of Abraham 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and internalize how he was able to overcome his own moral judgments when he was commanded to sacrifice his own son. 

Pre-Sacrifice Aspects

  1. One must use a very sharp knife. This is done so that there are no complications and delays in the process of slaughter. 
  2. The sharpening of the knife should be done away from the field of vision of the animals.
  3. The animal should be given water before the sacrifice. 
  4. The animal should be gently brought to the place where it will be slaughtered.
  5. The animal should be slaughtered out of the field of vision of the other animals. 
  6. The animal should be gently placed on its left side.
  7. The one doing the slaughter should face the Qiblah.

During the Sacrifice

  1. The slaughter must be as quick as possible.
  1. Before the slaughter one should say, “Allah is the Greatest” thrice followed by the statement, “In the name of Allah”. 
  2. The two major arteries should be cut along with the windpipe. 

Post Sacrifice

  1. It is recommended that the first thing that one eats after the Eid prayer is meat from the sacrifice. 

It is important to keep in mind that the things mentioned above are not mandatory aspects. This means that is someone was to leave out one of these things the sacrifice would still be legally valid, while at the same time lacking the level of perfection that we as Muslims should strive for. 

Through this sacrifice, we are reminded of our pursuit of excellence for the sake of our Creator in all that we do. We perfect our skills, trades, and academic pursuits and all that we do for our love of our creator. Whether one is studying for an exam, or striving to be an athlete, excellence for the sake of Allah is our goal. 

To download this article and share in your community, click Perfection in all things

*More Resources:

http://halalcertification.ie/islamic-method-of-slaughtering/

https://kalamullah.com/Books/The%20Islamic%20Laws%20of%20Animal%20Slaughter.pdf

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