Laylatul-Qadr – Important Tips To Take into Consideration

Some tips by Sheikh Omar Suleiman:

1. Observe each and every single one of these last 10 nights because we don’t know where that treasure is. We want to be in a state worthy of khayr in these last nights.

2. Diversify our deeds – The best thing we can do in these last 10 nights is to stand in prayer and enjoy as much as salah as we possibly can. There is a beautiful statement by Imam Ash-Shafi’e rahimahullah, where he said that the way Laylatul-Qadr started was with a word “Iqra'” [read] to Rasulallah ﷺ and the Surah ends with “Wasjud Waqtarib” [prostrate and come closer to Allah SWT]. So Laylatul-Qadr should be spent with everything from Iqra’ to Wasjud Waqtarib – from reading the Qur’an, praying, prostrating, and coming closer to Allah SWT such as tasbih, dhikrullah and everything in between. Meaning it’s okay to switch to different types of ‘ibadah. The point is to stay engaged.

3. Watch ourselves from sinning – What we definitely don’t want to do on Laylatul-Qadr is to allow ourselves to be in a state of disobedience. Many scholars pointed out that in times in which good deeds are multiplied, the severity of sins is also compounded. Because it is as though we are purposely turning away from a massive blessing from Allah SWT, from a time where we should be exerting in khayr. The shayateen are locked away in Ramadhan, and on top of that, the angels descend on Laylatul-Qadr – yet we still found a way to be satanic? So watch ourselves in these last few nights. Don’t get caught in any act of disobedience.

4. The greatest supplication for Laylatul-Qadr – We know that THE supplication Rasulallah ﷺ recommended for these last 10 nights is:

Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun, tuhibb al-‘afwa, fa’affu ‘anni
(Allahumma, You are forgiving, and You love forgiveness, so forgive me).

This is the most beloved du’a right now. So when we find ourselves blanking out, or trying to think of the next du’a, or when walking, then repeat this du’a constantly. However, don’t treat it merely as a ‘transition’ du’a, because it is THE most special du’a that we should be making right now. From this we can derive that the best supplications on Laylatul-Qadr are the ones that entail forgiveness. There is nothing in the decree of Allah SWT that is more precious to us than His SWT complete forgiveness.

5. Don’t overlook kindness, generosity, and other good deeds –  Did you know that the date of Laylatul-Qadr was lost because of an argument?

Rasulallah ﷺ went out to inform the people about the (date of the Al-Qadr). There happened a quarrel between two Muslim men. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“I came out to inform you about the Night of Al-Qadr,
but so-and-so and so-and-so quarrelled, so the news about it had been taken away;
and maybe it was better for you…”
[Sahih Bukhari]

So how bad would it be if on Laylatul-Qadr we got into a fight with someone? Don’t allow our ego to get in the way. Don’t get into arguments and backbiting. Smile and give salaam to people. It is better to remain patient so we may receive the blessing of that night. And lastly, show generosity. Exert ourselves in charity in these last 10 nights.

May Allah SWT help us to fully utilize these last 10 nights. May He SWT accept all of our good deeds and forgive us all in this Ramadhan, and then beyond.

Allahumma ameen.

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Ramadhan Thoughts

 

“The heart that loves Allah,
loves being exhausted and exerting itself for Allah;
surely, Allah’s love is not acquired through comfort!”
– Ibn Rajab, Majmoo’ ar-Rasaa’il

 

Many of us have really picked up the pace as we’re inching closer towards end of Ramadhan. But in that effort, perhaps many of us have also started to feel really tired and exhausted and struggling to keep up.

To the one who is struggling to read another page of the Qur’an, or forcing yourself to pray Taraweeh for one more night, or struggling to wake up to pray that extra raka’ats of Tahajjud, or whatever good deed that you’ve been striving to do – I ask you to turn your hearts to Allah SWT and say a heartfelt ‘Alhamdulillah’.

Alhamdulillah that our limbs and bodies are tired from fasting, from praying, from reciting the Qur’an and dhikr. Alhamdulillah that your very essence is exhausted from those charity work, or from those house chores that nobody wants to do. Alhamdulillah that some return to their beds for the night exhausted from misdeeds, but you return to your bed exhausted from good deeds with anticipation to do better tomorrow. Alhamdulillah that Allah SWT has enabled you to do all these things because there is no greater satisfaction than being exhausted from working for the sake of Allah.

It’s an indication of Iman to keep on striving these last few days and nights of Ramadhan.
If you have been doing well, then do well and do better.
If you haven’t had a chance to pray taraweeh at the masjid, then pray at home.
If you haven’t had a chance of a private moment due to obligations, then wake up earlier before your suhoor and have that moment of privacy with your Rabb.
The point is: Keep on working, keep on going.

May Allah SWT grant us physical and spiritual strength to keep on going until end of Ramadhan, and then beyond.

May Allah SWT accept all our good deeds and enable us to do more, for indeed we could not have done any single one of them without His help.

And may Allah SWT forgive all of our sins, for indeed we would be utterly destroyed if there’s even one single sin left unforgiven.

Summary of Al-Fatihah and Al-Baqarah

These notes are extracted from Sheikh Omar Suleiman’s 2016 Ramadhan Series entitled “Quran 30 for 30”. Full notes (in PDF) can be downloaded at: https://goo.gl/LErWn0

★ The Beginning of the Qur’an: Du’a

All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Rabb of the ‘Alamin.
The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner of the Day of Recompense.
You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help.
Guide us to the Straight Way.
The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace,
not of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray.
[Al-Fatihah 1:1-7]

The Noble Qur’an begins with Surah Al-Fatihah, in which Allah s.w.t. gives us a beautiful and important du’a. Rasulallah s.a.w. said: “Supplication (du’a’) is itself the worship.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

The Qu’ran did not begin with a story of the prophets, or about someone else’s relationship with Allah. But the very beginning of this Manual for all mankind is Du’a, which shows us the nature of the relationship that Allah s.w.t. wants us to have with Him – that we can always approach Him directly, without any intermediary.

★ Supplication For Guidance
Surah Al-Fatihah is a supplication for guidance. Therefore the Qur’an begins with us speaking to Allah s.w.t. for that guidance. And immediately after our supplication, notice how the next Surah eloquently begins with:

Alif-Lam-Mim. This is the Book (the Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt,
a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun
(the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much and love Allah much).
[Al-Baqarah 2:1-2]

As soon as we ask for guidance in Surah Al-Fatihah, Allah s.w.t. immediately answers that supplication in the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah. Allah s.w.t. responds: Here is the Book, the Qur’an, in which is the guidance that you’ve asked for. This is a beautiful correlation between the two Surahs.

In summary, Allah tells us in Surah Al-Baqarah: what guidance is, why we should seek guidance, how to be sincere in that pursuit of guidance, then Allah s.w.t. tells us the stories of those who fell off the path of guidance and the factors that led them to such so that we don’t fall in the same trap, and Allah s.w.t. affirms that this Message is one that requires dedication from us believers, and if we are sincere, then Allah will constantly see us through our obstacles.

The Entire Qur’an is Guidance for Those Who Believe in The Unseen
In the early part of Surah Al-Baqarah, notice that Allah s.w.t. mentions those who believe in the unseen:

This is the Book, whereof there is no doubt,
a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun.
Who believe in the Ghaib (unseen) and perform As-Salat (the prayers),
and spend out of what we have provided for them.
[Al-Baqarah 2: 2-3]

And at the end of the Qur’an, Allah tells us in Surah An-Naas to seek refuge with Him from Shaitan – and amongst the functions of Shaitan, are the unseen whispers and doubts that he brings to us:

Say: “I seek refuge with (Allah) the Rabb of mankind.
The King of mankind. The Ilah (God) of mankind.
From the evil of the whisperer (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men)
who withdraws (from his whispering in one’s heart after one remembers Allah),
who whispers in the breasts of mankind, of jinn and men.”
[An-Naas 114: 1-6]

The Qur’an begins by saying that this is the guidance for those who believe in Allah and the unseen, and the Qur’an ends by saying how we have to constantly fight the unseen attacks of Shaytan by seeking refuge in the One who sent the guidance in the first place. So we are constantly in this struggle, and for that struggle, Allah s.w.t. has already given its solution in and between from the very beginning of the Qur’an until the end of the Qur’an, subhanallah.

The Story of Adam a.s. and Iblis
In the next passages of Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. gives us briefly the traits of 3 types of people, how they responded when the guidance was brought to them:

  1. Those who believe in Allah and wants to sincerely accept the guidance
    They are on (true) guidance from their Rabb, and they are the successful. [Al-Baqarah 2:5]
  2. Those who purposely and arrogantly turn away from guidance – and because they turn away, Allah seals their hearts, eyes, and ears
    Verily, those who disbelieve, it is the same to them whether you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe. [Al-Baqarah 2:6]
  3. The hypocrites who are not sincerely seeking guidance, but instead they use it for their lowly, worldly, material benefit whenever they see fit.
    And of mankind, there are some (hypocrites) who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day” while in fact they believe not. [Al-Baqarah 2:8]

Then Allah s.w.t. gives us their stories – and we usually think that the stories in the Qur’an are random. They’re not random at all. Look how Allah s.w.t. first gives us the story of the first man, Adam a.s., and what caused him to fall. Allah also gives us the story of Iblis who fell away from guidance. So Allah is showing us how Adam a.s. fell and how Iblis fell, but to a much different and greater degree. So here we learn 2 reasons how a person can turn away from guidance: Desire and Pride.

In the case of the fall of Adam a.s., it was his simple desire, which temporary disconnected himself from the guidance of Allah. Therefore shahwat / desire is a means where we can miss out on guidance, if we let our desires get the best of us.

But in the case case of Iblis, it was his pride / kibr. When a person suffers the disease from pride, they will find it much harder to come back to Allah than a person who suffers from a simple desire. For Iblis, it was his destructive characteristic, his flaw of pride which causes Iblis to permanently turn away from guidance. Whereas in the case of Adam a.s., he came back to Allah and to guidance. Hence why Allah s.w.t. says:

“We said: Get down all of you from this place (Paradise),
then whenever there comes to you Guidance from Me,
and whoever follows My Guidance,
there shall be no fear on them, nor shall they grieve.

[Al-Baqarah 2:38]

The Story of Bani Israel and Fir’aun
Then there is a transition to the story of Musa a.s., Fir’aun, and Bani Israel. Bani Israel initially turned away from Allah due to their desires, but as they insisted upon their desires, that itself became a form of pride on its own. But we learnt in the Qur’an that they kept wavering – at times they did came back to Allah, but at other times they arrogantly turned away. Here Allah s.w.t. is giving us an example of when our desires get the best of us – they can lead us far, far, really far astray.

But in the case of Fir’aun, this is an example equivalent of Shaitan in the form of a man – a man who insisted and literally put his pride before guidance, before humanitarian, before empathy. He worshiped himself and expected everyone to worship him in every true sense of the word.

So Fir’aun insisted on pride, while Bani Israel insisted on desires. Some of the Bani Israel came back to Allah like how Adam a.s. repented to Allah after he erred, but some of the Bani Israel insisted on their desires to a point that their hearts were hardened until it became a form of pride. So subhanallah, we have these 2 divergent paths that start with guidance, then how the audience in general receives the guidance, then the story of Adam and Iblis, and then Bani Israel and Fir’aun – all in correlation to one another.

★ The Story of Sulaiman a.s.
Then Allah s.w.t. mentions to us Sulaiman a.s. But wait, why is he so significant in this theme? Because Sulaiman a.s. had access to his desires the way that Bani Israel could only dream of having access to, and he had ALL the elements that usually would make a person full of pride, he had a kingdom GREATER than the kingdom of Fir’aun – he had EVERYTHING that usually would leave someone astray. YET he a.s. took all of these and channelled them in a way that would bring him closer to Allah s.w.t. He used these to make him a means of a beacon of guidance, rather than a person who turns away from guidance.

★ The Story of Ibrahim a.s.
The Qur’an next mentions our father, Ibrahim a.s., who is significant for many reasons. But in this context, it is about a uniqueness of the children of Adam a.s. who follow the ways of Ibrahim. Allah s.w.t. praises Ibrahim’s character – he a.s. is an epitome who is truthful to Allah, who always seeks guidance, and who – no matter what is thrown at him – constantly responds in a way that is pleasing to Allah. He is an example of complete submission to the guidance, and he does not feel any sense of pride by the great position that Allah gave him, never show preference of his desires but always prefers the commandments of Allah and what is pleasing to Him s.w.t., not questioning Allah, not looking for loopholes like what Bani Israel did. Ibrahim a.s. represents everything that a person would want to achieve in coming close to Allah. And this is also what he wanted to see from his offsprings and nation.

And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (i.e. Islamic Monotheism)
except him who befools himself?
Truly, We chose him in this world,
and verily in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous.
When his Rabb said to him: “Submit (i.e. be a Muslim)!”
He said: “I have submitted myself (as a Muslim) to the Rabb of the ‘Alamin.”
And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim upon his sons
and by Ya’qub (saying): “O my sons!
Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion,
then die not except in the Faith of Islam.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:130-132]

This is one of the reasons why Ibrahim a.s. made this du’a for his offsprings and nation:

“Our Rabb!
Send amongst them a Messenger of their own
(and Allah answered this invocation by sending Muhammad s.a.w.),
who shall recite unto them Your Verses
and instruct them in the Book (this Qur’an)
and Al-Hikmah (the Sunnah of Rasulallah s.a.w.) and purify them.
Verily! You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:129]

We might wonder: Purify from what? Purify from the elements that took people away from guidance – the desires that people take preference over Allah’s commandments, and the pride that cause people to permanently insist on misguidance until they meet a humiliating end. This is what Ibrahim a.s. wants to see in the ummah of Rasulallah s.a.w.
Then Allah s.w.t. mentions the change of the Qiblah – the change of the direction of the prayer from Jerusalem to Ka’bah. This is a beautiful imagery, because Allah first mentions about Ibrahim and Ismail a.s. making du’a to Allah to send a prophet that would live up to THE expectation and standards, while they were building the Ka’bah, and right after then, Allah mentions that very same prophet s.a.w. coming and his ummah being commanded to face that very Ka’bah that was being built by them.

Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Rasulallah s.a.w.) face
towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah that shall please you,
so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid- Al-Haram (at Makkah).
And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction.
Certainly, the people who were given the Scriptures know well that,
that (your turning towards the direction of the Ka’bah at in prayers)
is the truth from their Rabb.
And Allah is not unaware of what they do.
[Al-Baqarah 2:144]

So we face the way of Ibrahim a.s. both physically and spiritually, and we are expected to adopt that standard that Ibrahim a.s. wishes to see in his progeny and the ummah of Rasulallah s.a.w.

★ Ramadhan: Taqwa and Gratitude for Guidance
And then Allah mentions:

O you who believe!
Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you
as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun
(the pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much and love Allah much).
[Al-Baqarah 2:183]

Remember earlier, in the beginning of Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah s.w.t. also mentions:

…a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun… [Al-Baqarah 2:1-2]

So fasting is a means to attain taqwa so that we can properly bring guidance into our lives. Not only do we gain taqwa, but as we finish the month of Ramadhan, we glorify and praise Allah, we declare His greatness, and we thank Him for the guidance He gave us. Allah s.w.t. says this guidance is not imposing, it’s not harsh, it’s not to cause us stress or anxiety, but it gives us the best of this world and the best of the next.

The month of Ramadhan in which was revealed the Qur’an,
a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance
and the criterion (between right and wrong).
So whoever of you sights the month, he must observe Saum (fasts) that month,
and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not observe fasts must be made up) from other days.
Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you.
(He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days),
and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu-Akbar)]
for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.
[Al-Baqarah 2:185]

★ How Should We Seek Guidance?

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad s.a.w.) concerning Me,
then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge).
I respond to the invocations of the supplicant
when he calls on Me (without any intercessor).
So let them obey Me and believe in Me,
so that they may gain guidance [يَرۡشُدُونَ]

[Al-Baqarah 2:186]

Notice that Allah s.w.t. uses the word [Yarshudun / Rushd] for ‘guidance’ instead of [Hidayah]. [Rushd] means a level above hidayah – it’s a GREATER guidance, it’s when guidance manifests itself in one’s actions as well. Some scholars said that hidayah is guidance towards knowledge, while rushd is guidance in our actual actions. This is why our righteous khulafa are called Ar-Rashidun Al-Mahdiyun – they are guided in both their action (rushd) and knowledge (hidayah). So in this ayah, Allah says that when we call upon Him AND when we answer His call, we will achieve guidance in every single way (rushd).

O you who believe!
Enter perfectly in Islam
(by obeying all the rules and regulations of the Islamic religion)
and follow not the footsteps of Shaitan.
Verily! He is to you a plain enemy.
[Al-Baqarah 2:208]

So do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan like Fir’aun, like the way Bani Israel insisted on doing which made them earned their destruction. But follow the way of Ibrahim a.s., the way Adam a.s. who came back to Allah immediately once he erred, the way of Musa a.s. who did not let any obstacle in life deterred him. Enter into Islam altogether, enter fully and completely into submission.

★ This Guidance Is Not Overbearing
At the end of the Surah, Allah s.w.t. says:

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope.
He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned,
and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned.
“Our Rabb! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Rabb!
Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; our Rabb!
Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.
Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us.
You are our Maula (Supporter, Protector, etc.)
and give us victory over the disbelieving people.”
[Al-Baqarah 2:286]

Allah does not burden us beyond our scope – this guidance is not overbearing. Allah did not give Adam a.s. something he could not handle, Allah did not give Bani Israel what they could not handle. This guidance is not beyond our scope – Allah will not give us more than what we can handle and therefore He expects us to submit to it completely.

It’s All About Guidance
The Qur’an starts with a du’a for guidance.
Then Surah Al-Baqarah tells us that Allah has sent us that guidance, and how to be guided.
Then Allah mentions Ramadhan is the month in which we really learn to value guidance.
Then Allah mentions du’a again in the last ayah of Al-Baqarah.
So in Al-Fatihah, we ask for guidance, and at the end of Al-Baqarah, we ask Allah to keep us firm on that guidance.

See the beautiful correlation? Subhanallah, they all come together.

Everything in Al-Fatihah and Al-Baqarah is about guidance. As long as we submit wholly to it, we can ask Allah s.w.t. and He will guide and answer our supplications.

We ask Allah s.w.t. to guide us and make us firm upon His guidance. Ameen.

Post-Ramadhan Musing

Taqabbal Allahu minna wa minkum! ❤

May Allah reward us with the gift of taqwa,
And may we all emerge from Ramadhan cleansed of our sins and our hearts healed.

Indeed, all good things come to an end except Jannah. And the pursuit of Jannah doesn’t end in Ramadhan. Allah s.w.t. says: “And worship your Rabb until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death).” [Al-Hijr 15:99]

As Sheikh Omar Suleiman once said, Ramadhan is only mentioned once in the Quran, yet the other 11 months of the year revolve around it. Jumah is only mentioned once as well, yet the other 6 days revolve around it. Of the many lessons we take from this is that the life of a believer should revolve around Allah no matter what day of the week it is, or what month of the year it is. Ramadan and Jumah are simply two means of realizing that ultimate reality.

 

Ramadhan Gem – Day 29

When was the last time we shed tears in our salah, in our Qur’an recitation, or in our du’a to Allah? Ponder the following causes of an ill heart:

“There is no harder punishment
than when the servant has a cruel heart and moves away from Allah.

If the heart was cruel, the eye will never shed tears.
Cruelty of the heart is caused by increasing four things over and above one’s needs: excessive food, sleep, talk, and socializing.
When the body is sick, food and drink is no use to it.
Likewise when the heart is ill because of desires, advice is useless.

Whoever wants to purify his heart,
must prefer Allah over and above his own desires.”
[1]

Make sincere repentance in these last few hours of Ramadhan. I am reminded of an advice by Sheikh Omar Suleiman, may Allah preserve him, that we should try as much as possible to force a tear out in each of the last 10 nights or Ramadhan – even if we gotta fake it. Make our faces as if we’re crying until we actually start to cry.

Find that surah or ayah that really gets to us
ponder about its meanings
ponder about Jannah and Jahannam
about the sirat that all of us have to walk across
whether we will be among those who will receive our Book of Deed on the right hand
or whether we are among the ones who are doomed, who’ll receive on their left
ponder on the ayah when Allah s.w.t. Himself will say to those who are doomed: “Remain you in it with ignominy! And speak you not to Me!”
and ponder, in our current heedless state, whether we will truly be the ones when Allah s.w.t. says: “Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah (shining and radiant). Looking at their Rabb.”

Force just ONE tear out and then make du’a from the bottom of your heart, in hope and fear of Allah. For that one tear might be our one accepted deed that will save us on the Day of Judgment.
_____________
Reference:
[1] Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) | Al-Fawwaid, P-176

Ramadhan Gem – Day 28

Depending on what part of the world you are in, you have anywhere from 1-3 days left of Ramadan. Many of us have regrets that we didn’t make the most of it. We may have had nights where we didn’t wake up for Qiyam, days in which we didn’t control our tongues properly, or spans of Ramadhan in which we slacked off with our Quran reading.

But now is not the time to cry. Nor is it the time to splurge in Eid shopping and act like the month is over. Reflect on this wonderful statement by Imam Ibn Rajab (RA) in his Lataaif:

“Let those who have failed to make the most of this month of Ramadan
end it with good, because actions are judged by their endings.”

The last part of that statement about actions being judged by their endings is an authentic hadeeth and one that should give us much hope. Here’s my challenge:

1. Make this last day or two of Ramadan the BEST days you have spent all month and count on Allah to judge your entire Ramadan by that last day.

2. Spend these last Asr-Maghrib of Ramadan in reading Quran, supplication, and remembrance. If you can do I’itikaf (seclusion) for that last period in the masjid, do so. If not, then try to make it a time of peace, quiet, and reflection.

3. Cry your heart out in that supplication and ask Allah to forgive you for all of your shortcomings in the month and give you the full reward of Laylatul Qadr EVEN if you missed it.

May Allah allow us to finish this month strong. May we meet Allah s.w.t. completely forgiven, basking in His Mercy, freed from the gates of Hellfire, and registered in the highest level of Jannatul Firdaws.

Ameen!

– Sheikh Omar Suleiman (abbreviated)

Ramadhan Gem – Day 27

Increase your du’as in these last remaining days and nights of Ramadhan, and do not lose hope. Imam Sufyan ibn ‘Uyaynah (rahimahullah) said:

Don’t ever leave off making du’a,
nor allow what (bad deeds) you commit to prevent you from it,
for indeed Allah answered the du’a of Iblis
and he is the most evil of creation (when he said to Allah):
“Grant me respite until the Day in which they will be resurrected.”
He (Allah s.w.t) said,
“Indeed you are from those who are granted respite.” [Al-‘Araf: 7:14-15]

________________
Reference:
Ash-Shu’ab, 2/1147