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Ramadan Prep Guide for Busy People | Part 1: Training Season

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

I’m all for uplifting messages that inspire us to put forth our best effort in worshiping Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) during Ramadan.  However, in lands where people do not have the luxury of time and sleep post-suhoor, getting maximum benefit out of Ramadan requires a bit of doing before entering into the month full force.  With this in mind, the following is a series of posts covering:

Part 1 – Training Season: The month of Ramadan can be as physical as it is spiritual, and the body needs time to adjust.  How can we “train” ourselves for the physicality of it beforehand?  What practices can we take from the Sunnah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to help us?

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Part 2 – Goal Setting:  While we certainly want to push ourselves above and beyond our normal spiritual limits, we also want to be careful of making unrealistic goals, as this can set up unrealistic expectations for what will get done and can cause a rapid loss of momentum, resulting in functioning on a “bare minimum” mindset.  How can we set realistic goals that make sense not only for ourselves personally, but as well in the context of the needs of others around us.

Part 3 – Calendaring: This goes hand-in-hand with Goal Setting – how will you schedule your week, given your Ramadan goals and still-running commitments?  This article will show you an easy way to do that, and why it’s important to do so.

Part 4 – Miscellaneous Stuff: We’ll cover clearing your schedule, working out, and other items of concern to keep in mind during this month.

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Personal and time management articles have a tendency towards coma-inducing detail.  I will make every attempt to keep these brief and prescriptive, but beware of conflating simplicity with ease ;)

Training for the Ultimate Spiritual Triathlon

An Ironman Triathlon involves 2.4 miles of swimming, followed immediately by 112 miles of biking, and again followed immediately by 26.2 miles of running.  Can you imagine showing up to compete with no preparation, no training, and not even so much as a warm-up before starting?  Can you imagine thinking, “I’ll do this event to kickstart swimming, biking, and running more regularly”?

You’d never do something like that.  If you wanted to compete, you’d train ahead of time, build up your strength and endurance, and then push yourself to the extreme during the event.  Once the event is done, you’d return back to maintenance and training.

Ramadan is the ultimate spiritual triathlon of siyaam (fasting), salaah (prayer), and Qur’an.  We fast all day, pray throughout the day, attempt to complete the Qur’an during the month, and pray late evening / pre-fajr early morning prayers.  To truly take this month on and reap its full benefits, we have to contend with the sheer physicality of it if we’re to maintain the consistency required to reap the full reward that awaits us.

Ramadan is when you show up with your game face on.  Let’s start training for it now.

Fasting

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was known for fasting Mondays and Thursdays[1], recommending fasting the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the month[2], and increasing his fasting during the month of Sha’baan more so than any other month apart from Ramadan[3].  With this level of consistency, it’s a safe bet he didn’t have the caffeine and fasting detoxification withdrawals that occur with many of us when we return to Ramadan.  With this in mind, let’s consider how we can ramp up our fasting this month:

Week 1: Fast One Day

This week, you just want to get over the hurdle of what may be your first fast in a long while.  Pick the day that’s easiest for you:

  1. The Weekend: One day on the weekend may be easier for you because less is going on, and you need your office coffee during work hours.  The weekend allows you to sleep more and comfortably ease into fasting.  Having said that, since this is one day, you can’t do Saturday, only Sunday, unless you plan on either fasting Friday or Sunday with the Saturday[4].
  2. The Weekdays: Or, you might be on the opposite side of the spectrum where working keeps you pre-occupied and helps you get over fasting quickly.  Bonus incentive might also involve fasting on a Monday or  Thursday.

Week 2: Fast Two Days

  1. The Sunnah: Hit up Monday and Thursday, as these are the days the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) generally fasted year round.  If you’re really ambitious, you can combine both Monday / Thursday fasting with the recommended 13th, 14th, and 15th as Thursday falls on the 14th.
  2. The Weekend: Although it’s not generally recommended, you can fast these days as well if you find it easier.  You should still try to get at least one work day in if you can, as this is where the real test begins.

If you haven’t fasted at all in Weeks 1 and 2, do not proceed to fasting Weeks 3 and 4.  Although the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is known to have fasted most of the month of Sha’baan, he ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) also prohibited people from starting a new fasting practice in the latter half of the month.  Those who fasted before this time frame can fast the whole month, including this latter half[5].

Week 3 and 4: Fast Four Days, then Three Days

This final stretch will get you close to ready insha’Allah.  It’s the fast of Dawud, which alternates days and gets us to right before Ramadan.  Because week 4 is shortened, I’ve switched around the number of days of fasting, so Week 3 = 4 days and Week 4 = 3 days.

Other Tidbits

  1. Other Sunan: Make sure to eat suhoor, break your fast quickly when the time for iftar is upon you, eat moderate quantities, and avoid arguing, even when you’re not fasting.
  2. Non-fasting Days: Train yourself to feel and ignore hunger pangs.  Eat no more than 4 meals a day, keep the portion sizes medium-sized, and avoid eating calories between meals.  For those looking to lose some fat, this is one way to do it.

Prayers

The Five Daily Prayers

The five daily prayers are the second pillar of Islam and required.  Most people are not lazy in and of themselves, they just don’t see the importance and priority of this habit[6].  If you’re one of those who skips the five daily prayers but goes crazy to get to taraweeh, realize that the amount of religious zeal you have towards Ramadan taraweeh vs the five daily should be switched around.  If you skipped all of taraweeh forever and just did the bare minimum five daily prayers for the rest of your life, that would be better for you, if you had to choose, as nothing brings you closer to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) than obeying Him in the duties He’s required upon us.  If you don’t have the five daily prayers down, this is where you start, nowhere else.

You can begin with the easiest prayer for you to fulfill in its proper stated time in the first week.  From there, start doing two prayers daily in week 2, then three in week 3, and finally four in week 4.  By the time Ramadan starts, you should be hitting all 5 every single day, and this will likely be the most singular important habit in your life that you must maintain post-Ramadan, no matter what.

12 Daily Sunan

There are more than 12 Sunan prayers one could complete in a day, but a good starting point is to get 12 sunan prayers in daily with consistency, and these are:

  1. 2 rakat before Fajr
  2. 2 or 4 rakat before Dhuhr, and 2 rakat after
  3. 4 rakat before ‘Asr
  4. 2 rakat after Maghrib
  5. 2 rakat after ‘Ishaa

Tahajjud / Qiyam ul-Layl

Since there are likely few masjids performing any type of qiyaam style prayers at night, it’s up to you get started on this.  It’s a great time to gather your family, if you live with them, and pray together.  I would recommend attempting to complete 1/4th to 1/2 a juz (5 – 10 pages, respectively) within 8 or 20 rakaat (your choice).

If your level of memorization is less than a half juz, don’t sweat it, just recite the same surahs multiple times in each prayer, and recite them in multiple prayers.  The point is to stand and pray to Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) with whatever you have, and insha’Allah it will be accepted and rewarded.

Finally, you can do it on evenings of the nights you fasted if you’re already in spiritual beast mode from fasting, or you can do it on non-fasting days to because you’d like to relax on days you fasted – it’s your call to make.

Qur’an Recitation

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would revise the Qur’an every Ramadan, so all of us should have a goal of completing the Qur’an as many times as possible.  While it is normally recommended to read with understanding, during Ramadan some scholars recommend focusing on attaining the reward for reciting alone.  Minimally, that would entail reading 20 pages / day on average to complete the Qur’an.  In order to shake off the cobwebs if you’re out of practice, start with the lower number and ramp to the higher number by the end of the week.  So if the recommendation is 2 – 4 pages for that week, start with 2 pages a day, then go to three, and end the week with 4 pages a days:

  1. Week 1: 2 – 4 pages daily
  2. Week 2: 5 – 8 pages daily
  3. Week 3: 9 – 12 pages daily
  4. Week 4: 13 – 16 pages daily

When Ramadan itself starts, there are many different ways to go about completing the Qur’an, depending upon your time constraints, and in part 2 we’ll review some techniques that can be used to make completing the Qur’an easier in Ramadan, insha’Allah.

Putting It All Together: A Sample Week 2 Schedule

We’ll talk more about this in detail in part 3, but here is what a person’s calendar might look like on Week 2 (click the picture, it expands :):

RamadanTrainingCalendar

I consider those items “important”, so they are given their own appointment time and schedule.  Prayers are given a full half hour for wudu’, the fardh, and the sunan prayers.  The Qur’an is placed after Fajr because it’s generally a good habit to get the most important matters done first, and while reading the Qur’an is spiritually uplifting, knowing there’s one less item to complete is less worry in your mind.  And besides, it’s a great way to start the day ;)  But if post-Fajr is too much for you, make sure you choose a time when you’ll have mental energy to put in the effort to read.

Another reason to put it in your calendar is because you can set up alerts that sync with your smartphone (if you have one) and can track your day and religious habits right from there, insha’Allah.

Conclusion

That’s it for Part 1, look out for Part 2 next week which will insha’Allah cover setting goals for yourself and along with your family.  Feel free to ask any questions you have below:

References

  1. It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was keen to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 745; al-Nasaa’i, 2361; Ibn Maajah, 1739; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1044.
  2. It was narrated from Jareer ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Fasting three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime, and ayaam al-beed are the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.” Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, 2420; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1040.
  3. Muslim (1156) narrated that Abu Salamah said: “I asked ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) about the fasting of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and she said: ‘He used to fast until we thought that he would always fast, then he would not fast until we thought that he would always not fast, but I never saw him fast in any month more than he fasted in Sha’baan. He used to fast all of Sha’baan, and he used to fast all of Sha’baan apart from a few days.’”
  4. http://islamqa.info/en/81621
  5. http://islamqa.info/en/13726
  6. “The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.” [Recorded by al-Tabarani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503.

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Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Dreamlife

    June 4, 2014 at 3:58 AM

    JazakAllah for the timely and practical article. I’m looking forward to part 2 :)

    Regarding the recitation bit, there is often a focus on completing the Quran, but for those with limited time, is it not better to split your Quran time into recitation and tasir / gaining understanding? (and subsequently planning how to apply the messages of Quran into your life)

    You probably have considered this in writing the article, so I’d like to know your views on it.

    Even if you don’t complete the Quran, is it not better to complete a portion of it with understanding in your own language?

    • Avatar

      Dreamlife

      June 4, 2014 at 4:01 AM

      Just to clarify on the above – I did see the part where you say some scholars focus on recitation alone…so I guess my comment is asking for your opinion on that advice.

      It is the month of the Quran, and probably the best time to take in the meaning of the Book – even if the recitation volume will be lower….just my view though.

      • Avatar

        Siraaj

        June 4, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        Salaam alaykum Dreamlife,

        Because my reading speed was much slower in years past, I also subscribed to the philosophy of quality over quantity. However, I think the reasoning is that because we know reciting each letter of the Qur’an is already multiplied 10 times, and deeds are multiplied in Ramadan, the recommendation is to complete the Qur’an as often as possible and to use the rest of the year for tafseer and contemplation, insha’Allah. This was the recommendation of Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, by the way.

        In the next 2 articles, we’ll look over how you can find yourself more time, insha’Allah :)

        Siraaj

  2. Avatar

    Binte Yusuf

    June 4, 2014 at 4:44 AM

    Isn’t it “2” rakaah of Sunnah after Maghrib?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      June 4, 2014 at 1:58 PM

      Yes it is, good catch, edit made.

  3. Avatar

    Syed

    June 4, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    Shouldn’t we not be fasting after the 15th of Shabaan?

    • Avatar

      Siraaj

      June 4, 2014 at 10:39 PM

      In the references section of this post (bottom), see reference #5.

  4. Avatar

    Sheikh Junaid Ahmed

    June 8, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    Great article! You have witten it in a very descriptive way. The life and the sayings of Muhammad (SAAW) have defined every single aspect of life. I need to be answered of a problem that some people says its some replies in negative. The question is; whether it is permissible to fast in the night of Meraj? Please answer me at my E-mail if you can. Thanks!

  5. Pingback: Ramadan Prep Guide for the Busy Professional | Part 2: Planning and Hitting Ambitious Goals Easily | MuslimMatters.org

  6. Avatar

    Ramadan

    June 11, 2014 at 2:56 AM

    Very informative thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  7. Pingback: Pedoman Persiapan Ramadhan untuk Orang Sibuk| Bagian 1: Musim Latihan | Rummaan

  8. Pingback: Ramadan Prep Guide for Busy People | Part 4: Clearing the Decks | MuslimMatters.org

  9. Pingback: Ramadan Prep Guide for Busy People | Part 3: Keeping on Track for 30 Days | MuslimMatters.org

  10. Avatar

    Justice For All

    May 29, 2015 at 8:18 PM

    THis is an excellent article on how to prepare for Ramadan and activities in Ramadan. However, the email from MuslimMatters came just yesterday which is too late to implement the week one.

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Coronavirus

Alternative Eid Celebrations In The Midst Of A Pandemic

“Eid-al-Quarantine” is what my sister has so fondly dubbed our upcoming Eid al Fitr this year. I find myself asking, “How are we going to make Eid a fun and special celebration this year in the midst of a dangerous pandemic?” With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, this Eid can be fun–no matter the current circumstances. This post will provide you with some inspiration to get your alternative Eid preparations underway! 

Special note: Shelter-in-place restrictions are lessening in many places in the United States, but this does not give us the green light to go back to life as normal and celebrate Eid in the ways we usually would have in the past. I am no health expert, but my sincerest wish for all Muslims throughout the world is that we all err on the side of caution and maintain rigorous precautions.

In-person gatherings are going to be much riskier in light of public health safety concerns. I do not recommend that people get together this Eid. Keep in mind, as well, that this is a big weekend for all Americans, as it is Memorial Day Weekend and crowds may be expected in places like parks and beaches. 

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Eid Day Must’s

Just because you are staying in, doesn’t mean that all of the Eid traditions have to go. Some may be exactly the same, some may be slightly adjusted this year. 

  • Get dressed up, even if it’s just for an hour or two. This might be a good chance to do hair and make up for sisters who normally don’t on Eid because of hijab or other modesty concerns. 
  • Take your family pictures, as usual. 
  • Decorate your house, even if it’s just with some fresh flowers in a vase or hanging up some string lights. (This time, I think sharing pictures of your setup may  have some more wiggle room.)
  • Find a way to pray Eid salah at home, if your local imam mentions a way to adapt for the current situation or check out this MM article
  • Eat some good food, and make sure to feast. 
  • Take that infamous Eid nap. 
  • Greet loved ones (phone calls, video calls, text messages, voice/video messages, make and send Eid cards).
  • Give and receive gifts. (Electronic ways to transfer money/checks in the mail, dropping off gifts to homes/sending gifts in the mail/having an online order pick-up in-store. You may also choose to do a gift exchange, if not this weekend, next). 

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Virtual Parties

Virtual celebrations are a great, safe, option. The best thing about virtual hangouts is that people from all over the world can “come together” to celebrate Eid. This can be as simple as talking and catching up, or can be as orchestrated as a full-out party including games. Keep in mind, the games and virtual parties aren’t only for the kids–everyone should have fun this Eid! We recently threw a virtual birthday party for our one-year-old and it was quite the experience. 

  • Split guests into different calls (kids’ call, adults’ call; men’s call, women’s call)
  • Party agenda for a rigorously planned party so everyone knows what to expect
  • Party games, either with certain items that everyone has (or can easily and quickly purchase) or games that do not require much else besides an internet connection 
    • Games requiring physical items (think of items that everyone is likely to have and think of carnival-type games):
      • Soccer ball juggling or basketball shooting competition
      • Water balloon toss
      • Timed races (three-legged, holding an egg in a spoon, etc.)
    • Games with little to no special equipment
      • Online Pictionary https://skribbl.io/
      • Online Scrabble
      • Video games
      • Charades
      • Taboo (we do this for our cousin game nights with pictures of cards that one person sends to people from the opposite team)
      • Scattergories
      • Bingo
      • Mad libs
      • Speaking games that take turns going around a circle (going through the alphabet saying names of animals or colors or foods, rhyming words [we played the last two lines of “Down by the Bay” for our son’s birthday party])
      • Movement game (Simon says, dancing if you’re into that [“Cha Cha Slide,” dance-off, passing along dance moves as was a TikTok trend I heard of, simply dancing…])
      • Games like in Whose Line is it Anyway? or like the “Olympics” (specifically the “middle games”) that I wrote about way back
  • Performances
    • Skits prepared by one family or even across households
    • Reciting a poem or surah or singing
    • Other showcases of talent, by individuals or not
  • Gift Exchanges (I’ve been doing this virtually since 2013 with friends/distant family members.)

Alternative Virtual/Group Celebrations

Being “together” isn’t always gathering for a party, and that’s what I think most people miss during the forced isolation caused by the pandemic. There are many things you can do to get ready for or celebrate Eid with loved ones even if you’re not together. 

  • Share special recipes with each other or plan to serve the same meals.
  • Coordinate Eid outfits or attempt to do matching henna designs.
  • Send Eid pictures to family and friends.
  • Prepare and cook meals or clean or decorate while on a video call (you don’t have to be talking the entire time).
  • Watch the same movie or show (whether that’s something everyone does as separate households or you do concurrently/even with a video or phone call running. This might be a good time to watch Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King” and do the 10 things it invites us to do.)
  • Go through family pictures or old videos together. Maybe even create a short slideshow/video of your favorites. 
  • Story time full of family legends and epic moments (the best Eid, a difficult time of sickness, immigration or moving story, new baby in the family, etc.). Someone build the fire and get the s’mores going.

Alternative “Outings”

In the same breath, it’s so refreshing to go out and do something fun, not just stay cooped up in your house, right? Seriously. 

  • Check out a virtual museum tour
  • Go on a nice drive to some place you love or miss going to, like drive by the masjid or school or a beautiful area (but stay in your car if there are other people around)
  • Watch an Eid Khutbah (or a regular one) on Eid day (make it special by listening outside in your yard or as a family where you pray).
  • Create a movie theater experience inside the home (that might just mean some popcorn and homemade slushies).
  • Get carry out from a favorite restaurant (if it’s open), and finally have the motivation to take a longer drive if needed
  • Make fruit or gift baskets for friends and family and drop them off at their homes
  • A “paint night,” or some other craft, that everyone in the family participates in
  • Decorate your car and drive around to show it off to friends (I’ve heard there’s an actual Eid car parade at various masaajid in Chicago

Interesting Alternative Community Celebrations I’ve Heard About

Some communities are getting super creative. As I mentioned above, a handful of masaajid in Chicago (Orland Park Prayer Center, Mosque Foundation, and Islamic Center of Wheaton as well as Dar Al Taqwa in Maryland) are putting together Eid drive-thru car parades. I’ve heard of different communities, whether officially sponsored by the masjid or just put together by groups of individuals, having a drive-in Eid salah, in which families pray in their cars in a rented drive-in theater or parking lot (Champaign, Illinois and a community in Maryland). I’m  definitely impressed with that last option, and I’m waiting to hear about more creative ways to get together and worship and celebrate.

So, what am I doing for Eid (weekend) this year? All the must’s, inshaAllah, including getting extra dolled up and making donuts from biscuit dough. A “game night” (virtual party) with alumni from my MSA. A gift exchange party with my cousins as well as another gift exchange party with classmates from my Arabic program (we’ll send unboxing videos out instead of meeting at the same time.) Check out a local college campus we’ve been dying to drive around. Binge a few episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender newly released on Netflix and do some online Memorial Day sale shopping. Le’s put a tentative on all of those, haha.

At the end of the day, Eid al Fitr is about acknowledging the month of worship we engaged in during Ramadan and spending quality time with loved ones. It doesn’t really matter what that quality time looks like–as long as it is intentional, this Eid will be special no matter what, inshaAllah. Who knows, this might be one of the best, most memorable holidays ever!

Eid Mubarak!

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#Islam

Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting | Hadiths 3-6

– وعنه أن رسول الله ﷺ قال: “من أنفق زوجين في سبيل الله نُودي من أبواب الجنة: يا عبدالله هذا خيرٌ، فمن كان من أهل الصلاة دُعيَ من باب الصلاة، ومن كان من أهل الجهاد دُعيَ من باب الجهاد، ومن كان من أهل الصيام دُعيَ من باب الريان، ومن كان من أهل الصدقة [480] دُعيَ من باب الصدقة” قال أبو بكر رضي الله عنه، بأبي أنت وأُمي يا رسول الله! ما على من دُعيَ من تلك الأبواب من ضرورةٍ، فهل يدعى أحدٌ من تلك الأبواب كلها؟ قال: “نعم وأرجو أن تكون منهم” متفقٌ عليه().

Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) also reported:

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “He who spends a pair in the way of Allāh will be called from the gates of paradise: ‘O slave of Allāh! This is goodness’ and one who is among the people of ṣalāt (prayer), will be called from the gate of ṣalāt; and whoever is eager in fighting in the cause of Allāh, will be called from the gate of jihād; and one who is regular in fasting will be called from the gate Ar-Rayyān. The one who is a charitable person will be called from the gate of charity.” Abū-Bakr (May Allāh be pleased with him) said: “O Messenger of Allāh ﷺ ! May my mother and father be sacrificed for you! Those who are called from these gates will stand in need of nothing. However, will anybody be called from all of those gates?” He replied, “Yes, and I hope that you will be one of them.” ”.

Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.

“ The Messenger of Allāh said, “He who spends a pair in the way of Allāh will be called from the gates of paradise: ‘O slave of Allāh! This is goodness’ ”

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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.

In some narrations of this ḥadīth it is added: “It was said: what is a pair? He ﷺ said: two horses, two cows, or two mules”.

It is possible that his ḥadīth applies to all virtuous actions, be it two ṣalāt, fasting two days, or two acts of charity. That is substantiated by the wording of the rest of the ḥadīth, which enumerates those different actions.

In the way of Allāh applies to all acts of goodness [i.e for Allāh’s sake]. It is also said that it is specific to jihād, but the first interpretation is more correct and apparent. That is Imām Al-Nawawī’s position.

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Goodness here is said to mean reward and delight. It is also said that it means this is better i.e we think that this is better for you than the rest of the doors, due to the abundance of its reward and bounties. Come and enter through it.

Ḥāfiẓ Ibn-Ḥajar however contends in Fatḥul-Bārī: “The meaning of goodness is virtue, not superiority, although the wording may lead to think so. The intent of the statement is to provide additional encouragement to the individual for entering through that door”.

“And one who is among the people of ṣalāt (prayer), will be called from the gate of ṣalāt; and whoever is eager in fighting in the cause of Allāh, will be called from the gate of jihād; and one who is regular in fasting will be called from the gate Al-Rayyān.”

Al Qurṭubī explains: to be among the people of ṣalāt means that one performs abundant optional prayers to the point that it represents the most common of his optional actions. The obligatory ṣalāt is not meant, because all people are equal in that respect.

The same reasoning applies to fasting and ṣadaqa.

The door is called Al-Rayyān i.e the one who is satiated/quenched, as opposed to the one who is thirsty i.e the person fasting. This is to signify that he is rewarded for his thirst through a permanent satiation in paradise.

“The one who is a charitable person will be called from the gate of charity.”

After the mention of this door, four of the five pillars of Islām have been included, leaving the pillar of Ḥajj. There is no doubt that there is a door for [those who performed] Ḥajj [abundantly]. That leaves a remainder of three doors to complete the number of eight doors.

One of those doors is the door for ﴾ الْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ﴿ “those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind” (s. Āl-ʿImrān, v. 134). Imām Aḥmad bin-Ḥanbal narrates from Al-Ḥasan [in a ḥadīth mursal] “Certainly Allāh has a door in paradise which none except those who forgive injustice will enter through”.

Another one of those doors is “the door of the right side.” That is the door of the mutawakkilīn i.e those who used to put their entire trust in Allāh, through which will enter those who will not go through any reckoning nor will they be subject to any punishment.

As for the third door, it may be the door of the remembrance of Allāh, as a ḥadīth in Tirmidhī alludes to it. It is also possible that it is the door of knowledge.

Considering the fact that the types of virtuous actions number much more than eight in total, it is then possible that the doors through which people will be called are in fact internal doors which are located beyond the eight main doors of paradise.

Al-Suyūṭī explains in Al-Dībāj: “Al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ explains: the remaining doors are mentioned in other aḥādīth: the door of repentance, the door of “those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind”, the door of those who are content, the door of the right side from which will enter those who will not undergo any reckoning”.

Al-Ḥāfiẓ Ibn-Ḥajar explains in Fatḥul-Bārī: for one to spend in the way of Allāh in ṣadaqa, jihād, knowledge and ḥajj is obvious. It is however not so obvious for other actions.
Spending in ṣalāt may refer to acquiring its tools such as the water to purify oneself, and one’s suitable garments or the like thereof.
As for spending while fasting it would be on those things which strengthen one to do such as suḥūr [pre-dawn meal] and fuṭūr [meal after sunset].
Spending to forgive others would mean that one forsakes those rights which he is entitled to from them.
Spending in tawakkul would be that which one spends during a sickness which prevents them for earning a living, while exerting patience in one’s affliction. It can also be that which one spends on someone else who is afflicted by the same, seeking thereby reward.
Spending for dhikr would be along the same lines.

It is also possible that what is meant by spending on ṣalāt and fasting is for one to exert their person in those acts. In the language of the ʿArab, exertion of one’s person is called expenditure [nafaqa]. They will for instance say, “I have expended my life on it” when referring to a trade which one has learnt. Exerting one’s body in fasting and ṣalāt would therefore be considered expenditure.

“Abū-Bakr  (May Allāh be pleased with him) said: “O Messenger of Allāh ﷺ ! May my mother and father be sacrificed for you! Those who are called from these gates will stand in need of nothing. However, will anybody be called from all of those gates?” ”

He means that one being called by anyone of these doors would certainly not suffer any diminution or loss. This statement brings alertness to the fact that very few people will be called from all those gates.

The one who has all those actions to his account is called from all the doors is an expression of merit, but entrance will nevertheless occur from only one door . That door is likely to be the one corresponding to the action which was most dominant for that person.

In this same context, one should not be confused by the ḥadīth of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim which says “Whoever performs ablution and does so most adequately, and then says I bear witness that there is no deity but Allāh…” and then it mentions “then the eight doors of paradise will open and he may enter from whichever one he choses”. The takeaway from this ḥadīth is that the doors are opened in this instance as a sign of esteem. One will nonetheless only enter through the door corresponding to their most abundant action.

Al-Zarkashī explains: “It is possible that the paradise is a fortress with embedded walls, and each wall would have its own door. Some will be called from the first door only, while others will be made to skip to the first door and taken to the interior door. So on and so forth…”.

“He replied, “Yes, and I hope that you will be one of them.” ”

The ʿulamāʾ explain: “Hope from Allāh and His Nabī ﷺ unequivocally comes to realization”.

The author-Imām Nawawī-explains: among the things which are inferred from this ḥadīth is the virtue of Abū-Bakar , and the permissibility of praising a person in their presence as long as a tribulation is not feared for them such as them becoming fond of themselves.

 وعن سهل بن سعدٍ رضي الله عنه عن النبي ﷺ، قال: “إن في الجنة باباً يُقالُ له: الريانُ، يدخلُ منه الصائمون يوم القيامة، لا يدخلُ منه أحدٌ غيرهم، يقالُ: أين الصائمون؟ فيقومون لا يدخل منه أحدٌ غيرهم، فإذا دخلوا أُغلق فلم يدخل منه أحدٌ” متفقٌ عليه().

Sahl bin-Saʿd  (May Allāh be pleased with him) narrates:

The Prophet ﷺ said, “In paradise there is a gate which is called Al-Rayyān through which only those who observe fasting will enter on the Day of Resurrection. No one else will enter through it. It will be called out, “Where are those who observe fasting?” so they will stand up and no one else will enter through it. When the last of them will have entered, the gate will be closed and then no one will enter through that gate.”

Narrated by Bukhārī and Muslim.

“The Prophet ﷺ said, “In paradise there is a gate which is called Al-Rayyān”

The significance of the name Rayyān i.e the one who is satiated/quenched has been explained earlier. One may add here that being satiated has been used to also signify that one’s hunger is satisfied, because they clearly go hand-in-hand.

“Through which only those who observe fasting will enter on the Day of Resurrection”

The mention of the day of resurrection is because that is when this will occur. It can also be said that it’s to differentiate from the souls of the martyrs and those of the believers which enter paradise during the duration of this lowly world, without it being contingent upon the action of fasting.

“No one else will enter through it. It will be called out, “Where are those who observe fasting?” so they will stand up and no one else will enter through it. When they have entered, the gate will be closed and then no one will enter through that gate. ”

The narration of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim mentions “when the last one of them will have entered”.

The repetition of the fact that no one else will enter through it is done for emphasis. The wording of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim is also narrated by Ibn Abī-Shayba in his Musnad, Abū-Nuʿaym in his Mustakhraj, Ibn-Khuzayma, and Al-Nasāʾī. Al-Nasāʾī added: “Whoever enters will never ever experience thirst again”.

Both Bukhārī and Muslim narrated this ḥadīth in the chapter of fasting.

وعن أبي سعيد الخدري، رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله ﷺ: “ما من عبدٍ يصومُ يوماً في سبيل الله إلا باعد الله بذلك اليوم وجههُ عن النار سبعين خريفاً()” متفقٌ عليه().

Abu Saʿīd Al-Khudrī  (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “There is no slave of Allāh who observes fasting for one day in the way of Allāh, except that Allah will detach his face from hell-fire to the extent of a distance to be covered in seventy years. ”

Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.

“The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, “There is no slave of Allāh”

Meaning no legally responsible individual, and what will be mentioned next is true for both men and women. This is substantiated by the fact that a narration of Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim does not specify a gender “Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allāh, He detaches their face from the hell-fire for a distance of seventy years”.

“Who observes fasting for one day in the way of Allāh”

Meaning in the obedience of Allāh.

“Except that Allāh will detach his face from hell-fire to the extent of a distance to be covered in seventy years.”

Meaning for the duration of a journey lasting seventy years.

وعن أبي هريرة، رضي الله عنه، عن النبي ﷺ، قال: “من صام رمضان إيماناً واحتساباً، غفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه” متفقٌ عليه().

Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who observes the fast of the month of Ramaḍān with faith and reflecting upon its reward, will have his past sins forgiven.”

Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.

“The Prophet ﷺ said, “He who observes the fast of the month of Ramaḍan with faith”

Meaning in a mental state where one affirms the truth of the reward related regarding it.

“And reflecting upon its reward”

Reflecting upon it and seeking thereby Allāh’s countenance [i.e His pleasure].

“Will have his past sins forgiven.”

Al-Nasāʾī and Aḥmad both add in a fine [ḥadīth ḥasan] narration, “and future sins”.
The sins which are forgiven on account of acts of obedience are those minor sins which relate to Allāh’s rights.

Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting. Hadiths 1-2

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#Islam

Moonsighting Gone Wrong, Again.

Moonsighting is just not working out.

Atleast not for our community here in the Toronto area. As I speak to my friends in other large (read: fragmented) communities, such as those in the UK, I hear similar tales of confusion, anxiety and horror. The problem in these communities stems from the fact that there are numerous moonsighting organizations in the same area, all following different methodologies for declaring Eid and Ramadan. This naturally results in a catastrophe and Muslims from the same family living in the same city are forced to celebrate the holidays on different days.

To give you a taste of how (and why) things went wrong in this year’s Ramadan declaration, here’s a summary highlighting the series of events as they unfolded. (Reminder: Ramadan was expected to start on Friday, April 24th or Saturday, April 25th 2020 in North America)

  • Wednesday, April 22, 10: 13 pm EST: Crescent Council of Canada (CC) declares Ramadan to start on Friday, 24th April based on the fact that it received no reports of moonsighting sighting on Wednesday night. This committee follows global moonsighting and it declared Ramadan so early because it was already the 29th of Shaban based on the lunar calendar it follows (for most of North America, the 29th of Shaban was to be on Thursday). So, starting Ramadan on Saturday was simply not an option for the group (as it would have meant observing 31 days of Shaban). Also to note is that this group gives precedence to official declarations from authorities from Muslim-majority countries, even if these declarations conflict predictions of visibility charts and astronomical calculations. It argues that testimony of witnesses takes precedence in the sharia over astronomical data.
  • Thursday, April 23rd, 7:27 pm EST : The Hilal Council of Canada (HC), another committee in the area that follows global sighting, states that there has not been any sighting of the moon in any country, including South and Central America (it is past sunset in most of the Muslim world by now). The committee decides that it will wait till sundown in California to receive the final reports before making a declaration. Confusion starts spreading in the community as one organization has already declared Ramadan while another claims no one in the Muslim world saw the moon. Note that HC does not accept moonsighting reports if they contradict astronomical data.
  • 8:39 pm: Confusion continues. The CC claims that Saudi Arabia, UAE, Malaysia, Turkey and a host of Muslim countries have declared Ramadan. The committee thus feels validated in its original declaration which it made on Wednesday night.
  • 8:48 pm: More confusion: California-based CrescentWatch.org also claims that moonsighting reports from the Middle-East and Africa are all negative. People naturally start wondering how so many countries supposedly declared Ramadan if there were no positive sightings.
  • 9:40 pm: The Hilal Committee of Toronto and Vicinity, the oldest moonsighting group in the city, declares Ramadan to start on Saturday the 25th of April. Since the committee did not receive any positive reports by sunset from areas in its jurisdiction, it declared Ramadan to commence on Saturday. This committee follows local moonsighting and doesn’t rely on reports from the Muslim-world. Two of the three major moonsighting groups in the city have declared Ramadan on different days at this time. Residents are confused whether to fast the next day or pray tarweeh as its almost Isha time.
  • 11:11 pm: The HC finally declares Ramadan to start the next day, i.e. Friday, based on confirmed reports from California. Mosques following the HC advice to pray tarawih – an hour after Isha time had already entered. After an anxiety filled and frustrating evening, residents finally know the positions of the various moonsighting groups in the city. Now they just have to decide which one to follow!
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This baffling circus of contradictory declarations is nothing new; it has become a yearly occurrence. Last year we saw the exact same series of events unfold and the same confusion spread throughout the community; it is entirely expected that the same will happen again in future years.

Our leadership has decided that it is acceptable to put the average Muslim through this nerve-racking experience every year. For Eid declarations, the experience is far worse as thousands are often waiting till midnight to decide whether to go work the next day or send their children to school. The stress and anxiety this decision causes for the average person year after year is simply unacceptable.

Popular advice in these situations has been to ‘follow your local masjid’. However, this idea is impractical for large communities where there are numerous local mosques, all following various opinions. It is also impractical for the thousands who simply don’t frequent the mosque and are not tied to a particular organization. The layperson just wants to know the dates for Ramadan and Eid; it is an undue burden on them to research the strength of various legal opinions just to know when to celebrate a religious holiday with their families.

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Only one way forward: astronomical calculations

There have been numerous sincere attempts to solve these long-standing problems associated with moonsighting over the past 50 years – all have failed. I have documented in detail these attempts, the reasons for their failure and argued for the only viable solution to this problem: astronomical calculations.

Since its introduction in 2006, Fiqh Council of North America’s calculations-based lunar calendar has proven to be the definitive solution for communities struggling to resolve the yearly moonsighting debacle. An example of such a resolution is the 2015 agreement by some of the leading mosques in the Chicago area who put aside their differences and united behind FCNA’s calendar. This approach has brought ease and facilitation for the religious practice of thousands of Muslims in that community.

While the use of calculations has been a minority position in Islam’s legal history, it has a sound basis in the shariah [1] and has been supported by towering figures of the past such as Imam Zakariya al-Ansari and Imam Ramli. Given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in now, it is incumbent on scholars of today to revisit this position as a means of providing much needed relief to the masses from this lunar quagmire.

References:

[1]  From SeekersGuidance: Scholars upholding this can be traced all the way back to the first Islamic century. The textual basis for this opinion is the hadith narrated by al-Bukhari, “When you see it [the new moon of Ramadan] then fast; and when you see it [the new moon of Shawwal], then break the fast. If it is hidden from you (ghumma ‘alaykum) [i.e. if the sky is overcast] then estimate it (fa-qdiru lahu);” (al-Bukhari, hadith no. 1900). The last verb, fa-qdiru, can be validly understood to mean calculation. Of the scholars who held this, are Abu al-‘Abbas b. Surayj (d. 306/918), one of the leading founders of the classical Shafi‘i school, the Shafi‘i scholar and renowned mystic Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072), the leading Shafi‘i judge Taqi al-Din al-Subki (d. 756/1355), the Shafi‘i legal theorist al-Zarkashi (d. 794/1392), the renowned Maliki legal theorist al-Qarafi (d. 684/1285), and some Hanafi scholars. The late Shafi‘i commentator al-Qalyubi (d. 1069/1659) held that all sighting-claims must be rejected if calculations show that a sighting was impossible, stating, “This is manifestly obvious. In such a case, a person may not fast. Opposing this is obstinacy and stubbornness.” See al-Mawsu‘ah al-fiqhiyyah al-kuwaytiyyah, c.v. “Ru’yat al-hilal,” vol. 22, pp. 31-4. The leading scholar of the late Shāfi‘ī school Muhammad al-Ramli (d. 1004/1596) held that the expert astronomer was obliged to follow his own calculation as was the non-astronomer who believed him; this position has been used by some contemporary Shafi’i scholars to state that in the modern world, with its precise calculations, the strongest opinion of the Shafi’i school should be that everyone must follow calculations; see ‘Umar b. al-Habib al-Husayni, Fath al-‘ali fi jam‘ al-khilaf bayna Ibn Hajar wa-Ibn al-Ramli, ed. Shifa’ Hitu (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), pp. 819-22. See also the fatwa of the Hanafi scholar Dr Salah Abu al-Hajj (http://www.anwarcenter.com/fatwa/معنى-حديث-لا-تصوموا-حتى-تروا-الهلال-ول) last accessed 9/5/2016) which states, after arguing against relying on calculations, “However, the position of [following] calculations is the position of a considerable group of jurists, so it is a respected disagreement in Islamic law, whereby, if a state were to adopt it, it is not rejected, because the judgment of a judge removes disagreement, and the adoption of a state is [as] the judgment of a judge.

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