Reform your Character: Ramadan reflections on recited verses during Taraweeh prayers

Reform your Character in Ramadan

Reflections by Shaykh Haytham Tamim

Day 1 – Mercy and Deceit

Positive Action

Reflect on the mercy in our lives.

In the hadith the Prophetﷺ said if we want more mercy, we have to practice more mercy.

Allah bestows His mercy only on those of His servants who are merciful (to others). [Bukhari]

Negative

  • Beware of being deceitful and cunning.
  • You shouldn’t be the kind of person that can’t be trusted.
  • Don’t be in this category.
  • Be a person of principles.
  • And be consistent in all facets of your life.
  • Don’t have multiple personalities – one for mosque, one for customers, one for home… This is a disease.

May Allah make us of the sadiqeen.

Day 2 – Gratitude and Rebelliousness

The story of the people of Musa  ‎ shows they were ungrateful which led to their rebelliousness and then corruption.

Positive action

  • Be grateful
  • Gratitude is the station of anti depression.
  • Be of those who are hamideen (praise Allah)

Negative traits

  • Ingratitude
  • Don’t break Allah’s limits, it leads to dhulm/ oppression

Day 3 – Hypocrisy and Honouring your Word

Allah told Bani Israel to stop following their own wishes against His will.

Whenever you give precedence to what YOU want, over Allah wants you go wrong.

‘Do not follow your desire’ (38:26)

As per the hadith:

‘None of you believe unless your likings and desires are in line with the shariah.’

Positive action

  • Fulfil your promises. Don’t break them, that is hypocritical.
  • Part of honouring your word is to be punctual.

Negative traits

  • Hypocrisy
  • Breaking promises
  • Being late

We ask Allah to make us of true believers and rid is of all traits of nifaq (hypocrisy).

Day 4 – Leadership and the Quran

‘Those whom we have given the Book recite the Quran as it should be recited ‘ (2:121)

Positive actions

Read, understand and apply the Quran in your life.

Why recite the Quran?

Is it just for the sake of reciting or is it the key for understanding, learning and practicing Islam?

Reading the Quran is the first step to applying it in our life.

Though we gain barakah from just reciting it, it is transformational when we understand and apply it to our self.

The example of the believer who recites the Quran and applies the Quran is like the utrujja fruit it tastes sweet and it’s smell is fragrant. (Bukhari)

Who should be our leaders?

Prophet Ibrahim ﷺ asked Allah as a parent ‘What will happen to my children?’

Allah replied that they will not be granted leadership or impunity if they are oppressors.

Leaders should be fair and just people.

Negative traits

  • Nepotism and favouritism

May Allah make us of those who read and apply the Quran and reflect fairness and justice in ALL our relationships and dealings.

Day 5 – Identity and Obedience

Reflection

Changing Qibla from Bait al Maqdis to Kaaba was a lesson in obedience.

Obedience to Allah is paramount as it brings salvation as well as tranquility.

Kaaba is symbolic of the unity of the ummah. We all face this direction in salah and the truth in our life.

Positive action

  • Be proud of your Islamic identity.
  • Don’t adopt nicknames just to fit in.

Negative traits

Do not follow the footsteps of shaytan (2:168)

Shaytan’s footsteps are virtual – he wants you to come after him. But that is his trap. Be smarter than him.

Don’t make shaytan your leader. Make the Prophet ﷺ your leader.

May Allah make us of those who stay on the right path. Ameen

Day 6 – Taqwa and Ihsan

Reflection

The aim of fasting is to achieve taqwa (obedience).

2:183-187 are the verses of fasting.

The word taqwa ends the first and last ayah of these verses.

Taqwa is: Doing the obligations and refraining from the prohibitions.

There is a link between fasting and excellence (ihsan)

Fasting belongs to Me and I am the only One who rewards it. The son of Adam leaves his food, his drink his desire, only for my sake. (Bukhari)

When we suppress our desires (for food and intimacy) to do what Allah wants then we excel.

Fasting is between us and Allah. No one except Him truly knows if we are fasting or not. So it is having the consciousness that Allah is watching that prevents us from eating.

Positive actions

  • Worship Allah as though you see Him. Know that He is always there, watching you.
  • Nurture ihsan (excellence) during siyam (fasting)
  • Ramadan is a month-long training course in excellence.
  • Control your eyes, ears and tongue in Ramadan.

Negative traits

Don’t be controlled by your desires as you will fall

May Allah make us of the mutaqeen (obedient). Ameen

Day 7 – Desires

The preservation of blessings comes by utilising what we have in the way of Allah.

If you were to be grateful I would increase you(14:7)

Positive actions

  • Be grateful

Negative traits

  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the beauty of the dunya and don’t let your desires control you.
  • Do not marry a woman for her beauty if she is not practicing

May Allah protect us from the evil of our desires. Ameen

Day 8 – Justice and Emotions

In the midst of divorce:

‘Do not forget the good things that happened between you’ (2:237)

Usually we are overtaken by revenge and anger in divorce but Allah is saying behave with kindness and grace.

There was no divorce in jahiliya, it was introduced as relief and release for the ummah, if they were trapped in bad marriage forever.

Allah gave divorce to the ummah as a solution, and a last resort, not a problem.

When Talut was to become a leader people looked down on his lack of status.

This mentality still exists today. Being from the elite is not important. Allah gave him special traits and knowledge so made him a leader.

Positive action

  • Be a person of principles, justice and fairness at all times – good and bad.
  • We need to change our way of thinking to create a better society and to become better humans.

Negative traits

  • Don’t be overcome by emotions.

May Allah enable us to change ourselves and be better. Ameen

Day 9 – Spending

Part of purifying ourselves is purifying our wealth, not just our bodies.

In the verses of infaq (spending) we learn to purify our wealth through zakat.

Those above a certain bracket, must give zakat and those below it can receive it, though these may give sadaqah (voluntary charity).

We need encouragement to spend in charity, as it is easy to take but harder to give.

Positive action

  • Enjoy giving and taking.
  • Give good quality – it doesn’t have to be the best, but it must at least be useable.
  • Allah multiplies the reward of giving when it is given for His sake, with the right intention, and etiquettes.
  • Give what you would like to receive, not what you would hate receive.

Negative traits

  • Giving with the wrong intention.
  • Giving what you dislike yourself

May Allah enable us to give as per the Sunnah and with the right etiquettes. Ameen.

Day 10 – Ramadan Tasks

Recitation of the Quran is rewarding but should be accompanied by reflection.

Positive action

  • When you recite the Quran take just 2-3 ayahs to reflect on and action. This was the practice of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them).
  • Establish this daily habit in Ramadan.
  • Within the month you will have 30-60 new good habits from your reciting, in addition to the reward.
  • Teach your children and loved ones to apply the ayahs.

Negative traits

  • Not reflecting on what you read
  • Not applying what you read

May Allah make us of those who reflect and apply the Quran. Ameen

Day 11 – Debts

Money matters are serious.

This is why the longest verse in the Quran (ayatudain) is an entire page.

It covers financial issues, as these are among the biggest sources of conflict in the community.  Families fall out over them. And are even prepared to disown their members.

If you give a loan or take any debt Allah says write it down and have the agreement witnessed, no matter how much you trust the other person. (Over time, you could forget or you could die or you could fall out).

Allah forgives martyrs all their sins but NOT debts.

Debts are so serious the Prophet ‎ ﷺ would not pray janaza over companions whose debts had not been cleared. (Then friends would clear it for them).

There is more reward for lending money, than for giving it charity.

Positive actions

  • Relieve someone of their financial difficulties.
  • Write down any debts and have the agreement witnessed.
  • Give people their financial rights.
  • Be careful to pay off your debts.

Negative traits

  • Do you not abuse the one who lent you money by delaying repayment.
  • If you’re lent money, it’s not a free ride. Pay it back as soon as you can.

May Allah make us of those who fulfil their trusts. Ameen

Day 12 – The Fruits of Sincerity and Dedication

The main point in the story of Maryam is her devotion, dedication and sincerity to Allah, for which she was honoured by becoming the mother of Eesa ‎

When you dedicate your life to Allah, Allah gives you special gifts in return.

The more you give Him, the more you receive from His gifts and blessings.

This is something you experience but don’t describe to others.

From the story of Zakkariah ﷺ we see the power of dua – due to his persistence in dua Allah granted him Yahya, which was a miracle.

Positive

  • Do not underestimate the power of dua.
  • Trust in Allah and have certainty that He will respond.
  • Always think positively about Allah because He is as you think He is.

Negative traits

  • Being impatient for the result of your dua. If you doubt Allah will answer you, He won’t.
  • Having a negative opinion of Allah.
  • Being angry or upset with Allah for not giving you what you want for yourself.

May Allah make us of those who have sincerity, who dedicate our time and efforts to Him and whose duas He answers.

Day 13 – Amana

The importance of delivering the trust (amana) has been mentioned repeatedly in the Quran.

We have been commanded to fulfil our trusts and this is a heavy duty.

One of the signs of the Day of Judgement is that people will not be trustworthy.

The mountains refused to carry the amana but humans carry it.

Positive actions

  • Double check you are fulfilling your amana – not just your financial obligations but also your salah, zakat, the treatment of your employees, and in teaching and delivering knowledge.
  • Children, health and time are an amana too.
  • Be ‘People of the Lord’ (the rabbaniyyoun’ – those who reflect the jamali attributes of Allah.
  • Allah has Jamali (beautiful) attributes e.g. mercy and kindness and Jalali (majestic) attributes e.g. proud and avenging etc.
  • Be a person of mercy, kindness and generosity in your words and actions.

Negative traits

  • Not realising that you have a duty to fulfil your trusts and neglecting them.

We ask Allah to make us trustworthy and to fulfil our trusts and to reflect His beautiful attributes in our words and actions. Ameen

Day 14 – Command Good and Forbid Evil

On the Day [some] faces will be light and [some] faces will be dark. (3:106) 

The faces who are dark are those who neglected their akhirah. They got what they wanted in dunya but they have no share in akhirah.

Those who have bright faces will have Allah’s mercy and remain in Jannah forever. They prepared for that Day and they will get what they desired.

You are the best nation that ever existed among humanity. You command people to good and prohibit them from evil, and you believe in God. (3:110)

Allah did not make Muslims the best nation because of their race or nationality.  But because we command what is good and forbid what is evil, otherwise we are no different from any other nation.

We have the potential to be the best but it is not an empty label; it is conditional on our carrying the responsibility of spreading good in society.

We are not the best right now – until we advocate good at home, as well as socially and politically.

Positive

  • Be concerned about what is best for the ummah and for humanity.
  • In all areas of life promote goodness and discourage whatever is bad.
  • Be people of perfection and trustworthiness.

Negative traits

  • Do not accept corruption or be lax in your towards attitude to it.
  • Do not let corruption be the norm.

May Allah make us of those with bright faces. Ameen

Day 15 – Tests and Enlightenment

Life is a series of tests. Individuals are tested personally, socially and as a community every day.

The test of imaan reveals what is truly in our hearts.

Anyone can claim they are Muslim but how real is this claim?

Sometimes we cannot see our test and we keep failing, until one day we pass.

The Prophet ﷺ once asked Hanzala how he was and he replied he was a true believer. When the Prophet ﷺ asked him to prove his claim, Hanzala said,

‘I’m not very interested in dunya so I’m fasting all day and praying all night. Dunya doesn’t mean very much to me anymore. It is as if I can see the throne of my Lord with my own eyes. And as if I can see the people of jannah visiting one another and I can hear the screams of the people in jahanum.’

The Prophet said, ‘This is man whose heart Allah has enlightened with imaan’

Positive actions

  • Prepare well for your test – it isn’t just theory – it is practical.

Negative traits

  • Duas are not enough, we need action.

May Allah enable us to pass our test and have the right intention. Ameen

Day 16 – The Antidote to Anxiety

Whenever you have fear or anxiety, seek the help of Allah and frequently recite this ayah of the Quran:

Those to whom the people have said, ‘The people have mobilised against you, so fear them.’ But this only increased them in faith, and they said,

’Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the One we trust the most.’ (3:173).

The Prophet ﷺ ‎ would recite this whenever he had concerns, anxiety or difficulties.

When people were told that troops had gathered against them their imaan was strengthened by reciting this verse.

Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! Thou hast not created this in vain! Glory be to Thee; save us then from the chastisement of the fire. (3:191)

Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. (13:28)

Positive actions

  • Recite Hasbunallahu wa Ni’mal Wakeel
  • Remember Allah at all times in your heart, tongue and actions.
  • Mindfulness of Allah can be through dhikr, e.g. la ilahaillalah, astaghfirullah, alhamdulilah, subhanallah
  • Mindfulness is also being conscious of Allah in our hearts and His presence in our lives and that He is always observing us.
  • Tranquility is missing from our lives so increase your remembrance of Allah.

Negative traits

Being immersed in the rat race of dunya

Being oblivious towards Allah through ghafla.

May Allah give us tranquility in our hearts. Ameen

Day 17 – Understanding what is beyond your test

Reflection

In Surah Nisa Allah says:

Allah accepts only the repentance of those who make mistakes out of ignorance and foolishness and repent soon afterwards (4:17)

But repentance is not [accepted] from those who [continue to] do evil deeds up until, when death comes to one of them. (4:18)

Repentance is the return back to the straight path when you have taken the wrong turn. The junction is always available- just push the button and the exit opens for you instantly.

It may be that you dislike something in which God has placed much good. (4:19)

Ibn ‘Ataillah As-Sakandari says:

Sometimes He gives while depriving you, and sometimes He deprives you in giving.

When He opens up your understanding of deprivation [al-man‘], the deprivation becomes the same as the gift [al-ata’].

Whoever does not draw near to Allah as a result of the caresses of love (mulatafat al-ihsan) is shackled to Him with the chains of misfortune (salasil al-imtihan)

Sometimes we need a whip – but it is the whip of rahma because it brings us back – with pain to Allah.

Positive actions

  • Repent to Allah quickly for any mistakes, shortcomings and sins.
  • Allah accepts repentance, He is Al Tawab, the One who keeps accepting repentance.
  • Your experience could be bitter and painful but it still might be good for you. Look who is sending it to you- Allah the Almighty!
  • You need to understand the goodness and the message Allah is sending you. Think deeply.

Negative traits

  • Do not postpone repentance till it’s too late.
  • Remain positive in all situations.

May Allah Ta’ala enable us to understand the signs He sends us and to live by the commands gives us. Ameen

Day 18 – Fighting miserliness with true imaan and generosity

Those who are miserly and bid people to be miserly and hide what Allah has given them out of His grace; and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement. (4:37)

There are people who love money more than anything else.

The first rebellion in Islam was over the payment of zakat and financial issues.

Stinginess is a disease.

The sweetness of imaan.

Imaan is a great privilege and responsibility. It is uplifting, comforting and gives us indescribable tranquility inside and out.

Allah wants everyone to believe but it is their choice.

Allah out of His mercy is asking us to taste imaan He does not force it upon anyone.

Positive actions

  • Fight miserliness in yourself with true imaan and generosity.
  • Train yourself to be more generous and how to give rather than how to take.
  • Realise the importance of spending from the blessings which Allah bestowed on us.
  • Keep repeating this ayah:

What harm would it do them if they believed in Allah and the Last Day and spent in charity what Allah has provided them? (4:39)

This ayah is about charity but also allowing yourself to have imaan.

Negative traits

  • Don’t make your mind up against something (unless it’s harmful) without even trying it.

May Allah keep us on the straight path and enable us to taste the sweetness of imaan in Ramadan and always. Ameen.

Day 19 – Obedience leads to goodness

Reflections

Anyone who obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those whom Allah favoured, the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous. What a wonderful fellowship. (4:69)

Scholars link this ayah to the ayah in Surah Fatiha:

Guide us along the straight path; the path of those on whom You bestowed Your favours

The best company is that of those whom Allah has favoured:

  • Prophets
  • Truthful
  • Martyrs
  • Righteous

And the heirs of the prophets who carry the message.

Attaining their company is linked to our obedience.

By contrast, Allah talks about those who are rebellious :Shaytan, Bani Israel etc.

Today there are many who rebel against Allah and those who deny Him and claim that we are here as a result of nature or science.

Allah wants us to experience goodness, but there are plenty of tests along the way to reveal our quality and our patience.

Positive actions

  • Be obedient and you will attain good companionship in dunya and akhirah

Negative traits

  • Rebelliousness and disobedience towards Allah, and the prophetic example.
  • Denying Allah. Closing your eyes does not abolish the sunlight. It only blocks it from you.

We ask Allah to make us with the four categories whom He’s pleased with. Ameen.

Day 20 – Misquoted and Misunderstood Verses

Kill them wherever you find them. (4:89)

Reflection

Infamously adopted by so called Al Qaeda and later by ISIS and others and oft-quoted by the media after 9/11, this verse has been misused.

This verse is related to a specific time and context. It is ONLY applicable to a war zone – not for every day.

When you remove any verse from its context, its meaning is corrupted.

The prohibition of killing in Islam has been mentioned clearly. Killing anyone regardless of their race, or religion is STRICTLY PROHIBITED. It is 100 percent haram by Islamic law, all Abrahamic religions and by international law to kill others.

The prohibition to kill is lifted in a war zone, against enemy soldiers on the battlefield. (Not civilians). Even then there are strict restrictions on what is and isn’t permissible. There is no blanket approval of killing. Absolutely not.

In the midst of battle, you are fighting and risking your life. You don’t offer your enemy tea and coffee.

There are many such misrepresented verses and so we need to understand the contexts of the verses.

Also widely misunderstood is the verse that Muslims should migrate to Muslim lands.

While the angels are removing the souls of those who have wronged themselves, they will say, ‘What was the matter with you?’ They will say, ‘We were oppressed on earth.’ They will say, ‘Was God’s earth not vast enough for you to emigrate in it?’ Such men will find their abode in Hell. What a wretched destination! (4:97)

Islam states the freedom to practice your religion. Where you are unable to do this, and face persecution, you are obliged to protect your life, dignity and livelihood by migrating.

However this does not mean migrating to an imaginary utopia.

Some shuyukh advocate migrating to Islamic countries. Which countries might they be?? Muslims live in many countries but there is no Muslim state.

Some go further and have bought land to build an Islamic city. But Islam is not a cult or a ghetto. Islam is a universal religion which can be practiced anywhere as long as there is no threat to you.

Many Muslims and non-Muslims are misunderstanding, misquoting and corrupting the beautiful, peaceful and simple message of Islam.

Positive action

  • We need to understand the Quran and Sunnah from its context.
  • Learn from properly qualified teachers- it’s not the letters after their name that matters, but those who have classical knowledge, a deep understanding of religion, as well as an understanding of the reality of our lives.
  • Knowledge of books without knowledge of our reality is not enough.

Negative traits

  • Not making time to understand your deen.
  • Learning your religion from those who do not understand either the context of the revelation or the reality of our time.

May Allah protect us from those who corrupt His verses and grant us a deep understanding of our deen.

Day 21- Being productive. Finding solutions. Not just problems

There is no good in much of their private counsels, except for him who advocates charity, or kindness, or reconciliation between people. Whoever does that, seeking God’s approval, We will give him a great compensation. (4:114)

Reflection

Allah says involve your self – your time, expertise and skills in charity (not just in the financial sense), and in anything marouf (beneficial) and in reconciling those who have conflicts.

This ayah teaches us the importance of being productive. And also that identifying the haram is not sufficient as it is just as important to identify the halal.

We need to facilitate solutions and alternatives to what is haram, just as Allah made riba (interest) haram but then directed towards trade and told us business is halal.

We need to embed this constructive approach in our mindset.

Positive action

  • Occupy your time in useful things.
  • Don’t just identify problems, find solutions.
  • Have a positive approach.
  • Create peace and promote harmony in the community.
  • Be involved in bringing hearts together.

Negative traits

  • Do not to waste time.
  • Do not engage in backbiting or gossip, and anything makruh (disliked).
  • Do not exacerbate conflicts and feuds within the family or community.

May Allah release all of us and our loved ones from hellfire. Ameen.

Day 22 – Selfie with Shaytan

God does not like the public uttering of bad language, unless someone was wronged. God is Hearing and Knowing. (4:148)

Those who love to see immorality spread among the believers—for them is a painful punishment, in this life and in the Hereafter. God knows, and you do not know. (24:19)

Reflection

In Surah Nisa Allah says He does not like people’s sins to be exposed unless they are causing oppression.

It is prohibited to share, spread and publicise evil.

Social media has proliferated and facilitated the publicity of evil. We have cyber bullying and aggressive prying into the private life of people which is haram. It incurs Allah’s anger and a

a severe punishment.

Positive actions

  • Keep people’s sins private.

Negative traits

  • Do not ‘share’ and ‘like’ evil. Do not be part of it. Unless there is oppression within Islamic boundaries and the legal framework.
  • Do not pry into peoples secrets.
  • Those who want evil to be everywhere
  • Do not boast about your sin and post pictures of your selfie with shaytan.

May Allah release all of us and our loved ones from hellfire. Ameen.

Day 23 – Understanding the role of Hudud in Islam

[As for] the thief, the male and the female, chop off their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (5:38)

Reflection

The shariah establishes hudud (punishments). Punishments in Islam are commonly misunderstood; however they have a context. It’s not for individuals to mete out punishment or chop hands. It is the responsibility of the state, in order to establish safety and security for the community.

Law and order are crucial for a community to be protected and flourish.

In Surah Quraysh, Allah bestowed safety as a favour and blessing on them.

For stabilising and unifying the Quraish,

(We maintain for them) their trading caravans by winter and summer,

So let them worship the Lord of this House (Ka’ba),

Who fed them against hunger and secured them from fear. (106:1-4) 

Allah has also given sanctity and dignity to human life.

We have honoured the Children of Adam, and carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, and greatly favoured them over many of those We created. (17:70)

Allah wants to establish safety in the community, so anyone who threatens this safety is doing something unacceptable.

Although the punishments seem quite harsh, we have to be aware that punishments are set within a framework cannot be carried out unless certain rules and regulations have to been met.

When an individual attacks the safety of the community, we do not sacrifice the safety of the community for the sake of the individual. We sacrifice the individual for the community. We cannot live in fear. We cannot allow criminals to destroy our peace.

These are the limits of God—whoever oversteps God’s limits has wronged his own soul. (65:1)

The scared months were established to preserve safety. (Particularly to ensure that Hajj could be carried out peacefully.)

As per the hadith:

Avoid establishing hudud with doubt. (Tirmidhiand ibn Majah)

The point of hudud is not for it to be implemented. But as a deterrent.

Like CCTV it is to make people behave and to preserve the well-being of society.

It is not that straightforward to apply hudud such as chopping hands. There are many restrictions in place. And if there are any doubts the hudud is not carried out.

Islam is not about chopping hands. It is about respecting human dignity and establishing security.

Positive action

  • Hudud have been established for our own safety. Protect them and don’t overstep them.
  • Understand why we have punishments in place and their context.

Negative traits

  • Misunderstanding the verses relating to punishments.
  • Thinking that punishments can be applied out of context.
  • Underestimating the value of security and safety in the community.
  • Placing individual rights above the community’s rights.

May Allah enable us to understand His Book and the Sunnah. Ameen.

Day 24 – Corruption: a cancer in the community

And they strive to spread corruption on earth. God does not love the corrupters. (5:64) 

Reflection

There is always a group of people who are spreading corruption- some are discreet and well-hidden, while others are in your face.

They are the essence of evil in the community till the Day of Judgement.

Allah does not like these people or corruption in any form.

In many verses by contrast, Allah tells us the qualities of those whom He loves – e.g. the ones who repent. (Attawabeen) We want to be from this category.

God loves the repentant, and He loves those who keep clean. (2:222)

God loves the charitable. (2:195)

Corruption spreads like a tumour when no one stops it. It creeps into every sphere of life- work, home, society and even religion. Not just politics.

On an individual level, community, ummah level we have an obligation to stop corruption.

As per the hadith:

Whoso- ever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith. (Muslim)

It is everyone’s business to stop corruption. Otherwise we all suffer.

As per the hadith, Zainab bint Jash asked: ‘Are we going to be perished, when among us there a righteous people?’ The Prophet said ‘Yes. When evil overtakes, then you will be perished.’ (Bukhari)

Our ummah is perishing because we have allowed corruption to become a norm in many countries.

Our ummah is suffering calamity after calamity because we have been asleep and become accustomed to it.

Positive action

  • Speak out against corruption. If you see an evil then stop it.
  • Speak the truth, defend the truth, support the truth and spread the truth.

Negative traits

  • Don’t turn a blind eye to corruption otherwise you are part of it.
  • Until we change ourselves our condition will not change.

May Allah enable us fight corruption and be people of truth and trustworthiness. Ameen

Day 25 – Alcohol and the Concept of Gradualism

O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, idolatry, and divination are abominations of Satan’s doing. Avoid them, so that you may prosper. (5:90)

Reflection

The verses on intoxication came in four stages. This is called gradualism as the rulings were brought in slowly so people could become accustomed to them and build up to the next level.

The Quran was revealed over 23 years. And the final prohibition of alcohol only came after 20 years after the birth of Islam, once imaan has been firmly established.

In a society where drinking was prevalent, Aisha observed that if a prohibition on alcohol been introduced overnight people would not have been able to implement it.

Aisha said, ‘The first thing that was revealed thereof was a Surah from Al-Mufassal (medium size), and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal halal and illegal Haram things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’ (Bukhari)

Stages of prohibition of alcohol:

In Surah Baqarah people asked about alcohol and gambling. Allah said there was some benefit (I.e profit from sales) and some harm in alcohol.

They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say, ‘There is gross sin in them, and some benefits for people, but their sinfulness outweighs their benefit.’ (2:219)

In Surah Nisa believers were told not to pray while they were intoxicated (as they would not focus on their salah) so the amount of time they could drink was reduced. They were being weaned off their addiction to alcohol slowly, and rehabilitated.

O you who believe! Do not approach the prayer while you are drunk, so that you know what you say. (4:43)

In Surah Maidah alcohol was prohibited completely – so not a single drop could be consumed thereafter.

It takes strength of imaan and conviction to leave any addiction.

Once it was prohibited, Allah closed the gates that lead to this haram by making it sinful to have any connection to alcohol.

He therefore cursed 10 types of people as per the hadith, narrated Anas bin Malik:

The Messenger of Allah  cursed ten involved in wine: The one who presses it, the one who has it pressed, its drinker, its carrier, and the one it is carried to, its server, its seller, the consumption of its price, the one who purchases it and the one it was purchased for. (Tirmidhi)

Similarly with zina (adultery), Allah said don’t even go near it. I.e fo not do anything which puts you in a position that makes zina possible.

And do not come near adultery. It is immoral, and an evil way. (17:32)

And this is the same concept for all big sins, like riba (any interest on lending) and killing, as it is not just the act itself which is prohibited but all the things that lead to it are sinful as well.

Positive action

  • Be clear in your understanding of what is haram.
  • Stay far away from everything that leads to sin.
  • Refrain from what is prohibited.
  • Repent from past sins and start a new page. Allah forgives.
  • Strengthen your imaan and resolve to quit bad habits – as they not only displease Allah but are bad for you.

Negative traits

  • Quibbling with verses to justify your whims.
  • Associating with those who sin as it increases your susceptibility to sin.
  • Do not disparage those who observe Allah’s prohibitions to appease your conscience.

May Allah enable us to stay away from all the things Allah prohibited and dislikes and make us from among those whom He is pleased with. Ameen.

Day 26 – Avoiding argumentative people

Had We sent down upon you a book on paper, and they had touched it with their hands, those who disbelieve would have said, ‘This is nothing but plain magic.’ (6:7)

What of him whose evil deed was made attractive to him, and so he regards it as good? God leads astray whomever He wills, and He guides whomever He wills. Therefore, do not waste yourself sorrowing over them. God knows exactly what they do. (35:8)

Reflection

In Surah Anam, Allah describes a particular type of person – the one who specialises in argumentation. No matter what you say, they always say the opposite. You can’t win. ‘It’s my way or the high way.’

They are in every community and household.

This kind of person always posed difficulties for prophets and messengers.

When prophets tried their best to guide them, show them the truth and asked them to believe, they were not interested. They were cunning. They didn’t say no outright but would go in circles and always find excuses for not doing what they were told to do.

They would come back with conditions that may induce them to believe such as a mountain of gold, a book from the heavens with their name in it or a special kind of food, which might make them consider believing in the Message.

No matter what you say or do, they are always right- they are Mr and Mrs Right.

They justify why they are not following the truth. But at the end of the day, they will not believe. They will drive you mad.

Allah tells the Prophet ﷺ ‎ in other verses, not to be sad because these people have chosen not to believe.

Keep reminding them but don’t waste time on them. Instead shift your time, energy and focus on someone else who needs guidance and where your time is fruitful and produces goodness.

Shaykh Shaghuri used to say ‘Don’t feed your food to those who have no appetite for it.’ They will not appreciate it. They will find fault in your biryani, nihari, etc.

Positive actions

  • Stay away from argumentative people.
  • Spend time and energy on those who are responsive to you and need you.
  • Focus on fruitful projects.

Negative traits

  • Don’t engage in futile arguments.
  • Don’t waste your time.
  • Don’t let people upset you.

May Allah keep our hearts firm on the straight path and keep us away from those who argue and waste our time and we ask Allah to give us humility peace and tranquility in our lives, Ameen

Day 27 – Laitaltul Qadr

The Night of Honour (not the Night of Power) is a blessed night and a night of peace.

Allah described it clearly in a special Surah (97), Surah Al-Qadr.

Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree.

And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree?

The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months,

The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter.

Peace it is, until the emergence of dawn. (97:1-5)

Reflection

The angels and Jibreel descend on this night and pack the air. Usually when Allah sends the angels down it is with punishment, but not on this night. Though we can’t see them, we can feel their presence and serenity.

They are sent with light, mercy and blessings.

So from asr til fajr we have ‘peace until the rise of the dawn’.

In Surah Al-Isra’, it reminds us with the journey of Me’raj through the heavens when the Prophet ﷺ  received the obligation of the salah. He passed through seven skies and met prophets and messengers. Hopefully on Lailatul Qadr our souls too travel to Allah and do not cling to dunya but to Allah, His mercy and the akhirah.

The link between these surahs is the journey of the soul, the angels are coming down and our souls are going up.

We recited in Surat Al-Isra’: On the Day of Judgement, Allah will say to every single one of us, Iqra’ kitabak

‘Read your book of deeds.’ (17:14)

If it is good, you will be pleased with it. If not, then god forbid it’s a different story.

On this day, there is a private audience with Allah, and we will be able to see all our deeds. Plainly. The good and the bad. And we will have to read it out.

There is none of you but Allah Almighty will speak to him on the Day of Judgement. There is no translator between him and Allah Almighty. (Bukhari and Muslim)

And the record [of deeds] will be placed [open]…And they will find what they did present [before them]. (18:49)

The Prophet ﷺ  was sad because his ummah had a short lifespan compare to previous nations and so would have less opportunity to accumulate good deeds.

So Allah gifted us Lailatul Qadr which gives us the equivalent of over 83 years of worship and good deeds as a reward.

We require the right understanding, intention and etiquette to earn this.

Ask whatever you want from Allah and for release from hellfire. He is the Owner of the Kingdom. Ask with yaqeen. Have certainty Allah will respond to you.

Call in Allah with certainty that He will respond to you know that God will not answer that application of a heart that is hesitant. (Tirmidhi)

Allah treats you as you treat Him. If you supplicate with certainty He answers, but if you doubt His response, Allah will not respond.

The Prophet ﷺ  sought this special night in the first ten nights and was told by Jibreel that it was ahead, so he secluded himself (went into etikaf) again and sought it in the next ten nights and was told it was ahead. So discovered it was in the last ten nights.

He taught us the sunnah that we need time to seclude ourselves with Allah, so we can sort out our accounts. Set aside a special time for Him. Escape from distractions and dunya.

On this night we can do etikaf.

The Prophet ﷺ  said,

Your Lord has plenty of gifts throughout the year. Go and seek them. (Tabarani)

So these blessings are everywhere but we have to seek His pleasure, mercy, forgiveness and blessings. Insha Allah by coming to the mosque, and praying we may acquire them and be pleased with the result.

Positive actions

  • Seize the opportunity to sort out your book of deeds.
  • Repent and rectify the bad things you have done with good deeds.
  • Value time. Life is short, pack it with goodness.
  • Make dua with certainty and you will be answered.
  • Make time to seclude yourself with Allah.

Negative traits

  • Being oblivious of the eternal reality to come.
  • Being connected only to the material world.
  • Delaying your spiritual progress while you are preoccupied with other matters.
  • Being complacent about your shortcomings.

May Allah bless us and make us close to Him. Ameen

Day 28 – Where to draw the line between culture and religion

In Surah Ibrahim, Allah presents the discussion which takes place between the prophets and their followers, who reject them for being human.

They said: ‘You are no more than human beings like us! You wish to turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring us a clear authority i.e. a clear proof of what you say’. (14:10)

In their minds, a prophet has to have a special aura. Even today, people expect leaders to look and act a certain way. However, it is not their appearance, but their sincerity which is important.

Commonly, people reject an idea even when it is the truth, simply because they are not familiar with it. It is not in their existing culture.

People follow culture blindly. Even when it contradicts Islamic rulings.

We still let culture dominate our practices – how we conduct our weddings, funerals, dress and treat our spouses and children.

In different areas in the Muslim world, women are not allowed a share in her father’s inheritance, this is completely haram.

When cultural practice is in line with the truth, accept it and embrace it. But when culture goes against Islam, reject it.

Otherwise we are no difference between us and the people of Jahiliya.

Positive actions

  • Give precedence to Islam over culture when they contradict each other.
  • Follow Allah and His Messenger.
  • Have the courage to stand up for what’s right.
  • Do what Allah says is right not what others say is right.

Negative traits

  • Being more concerned about culture than shariah.

May Allah enable us to follow the truth. Ameen

Day 29 – Sincerity unleashes tremendous blessings

Reflection

Though Prophet Zakariya ﷺ was old, he was insistent in his dua that he wanted offspring, so Allah granted him Yahya, even though his wife was old and barren.

And I fear for my dependents after me, and my wife is barren. So grant me, from Yourself, an heir. (19:5)

Similarly, Hana was a pious lady and she made sincere duafor a child and was granted Maryam, who then had Eesa (peace be on them).

These examples show us the importance of piety, obedience and taqwa.

And mention in the Scripture Mary, when she withdrew from her people to an eastern location. (19:16)

The wife of Imran said, ‘My Lord, I have vowed to You what is in my womb, dedicated, so accept from me; You are the Hearer and Knower.’ (3:35)

In Surah Kahf, at the end of the story of Musa and Khidr, Khidr rebuilt a wall for two orphan boys free of charge due to the piety of their parents.

And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphaned boys in the town. Beneath it was a treasure that belonged to them. Their father was a righteous man. Your Lord wanted them to reach their maturity, and then extract their treasure—as a mercy from your Lord. I did not do it of my own accord. This is the interpretation of what you were unable to endure. (18:82)

Sincerity and piety have a positive effect on one’s family even for several generations.

Maryam dedicated herself to Allah, so He bestowed a special status on her and mentioned her by name – which is rare in the Quran.

Ibn Ataa’illah As-Sakandari says in his book ‘Al-Hikam’ (709 AH / 1310 CE):

Empty your heart from otherness He will fill it with spiritual knowledge and subtle meanings

By otherness (aghyar) he means everything but Allah, then Allah fills it with special blessings.

Positive actions

  • Do not underestimate the power of sincerity.
  • Empty your heart of ‘otherness’. Fill it with piety.

Make dua with conviction.

Negative traits

  • Lacking focus and khushoo (sincerity and humility) in worship.
  • Being in a state of ghafla (distraction).
  • Making dua half-heartedly.

We ask Allah to fill our life with His blessings and mercy. Ameen.

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001.His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College).He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.

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