Project Ramadan: Setting New Baselines

By Thaqib Moosa

Bismillah-ir-Ra7maan-ir-Ra7eem.

A guest is about to come visit us. A guest who comes once a year, and a guest whom we have to prepare ourselves for. That guest is the month of Ramadan. In this article, I wanted to share one reason why it is so important to avail this opportunity, followed by a small practical plan which I have been using for the past couple of years to help prepare for Ramadan. The plan and downloadable documents are in links right at the end.

So firstly, why do we need to prepare? The Prophet (SAW) is reported to have been climbing the pulpit and said Aameen thrice. When the companions asked about it he said that Jibreel made three du’as, and I said Aameen to them. One of them was for a person who reaches the month of Ramadan and does not avail it to gain forgiveness. (The other two were having elderly parents and not serving them, and not saying peace and blessings be upon him when the prophet’s name is mentioned). The Prophet (SAW) himself and Jibreel, the leader of the angels, have said this for those of us who don’t avail Ramadan.

Also, in Surah Ghaafir/Mu’min, right after a discussion on the fate of Firawn and his people, these two verses (47-48) about a conversation happening in the Hellfire:

(وَإِذْ يَتَحَاجُّونَ فِي النَّارِ فَيَقُولُ الضُّعَفَاءُ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُغْنُونَ عَنَّا نَصِيبًا مِنَ النَّارِ)

Behold, they will dispute with each other in the Fire! The weak ones (who followed) will say to those who had been arrogant, “We but followed you: Can ye then take (on yourselves) from us some share of the Fire?

(قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُلٌّ فِيهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ حَكَمَ بَيْنَ الْعِبَادِ)

Those who had been arrogant will say: “We are all in this (Fire)! Truly, Allah has judged between (his) Servants!”
[Surat Ghafir 47-48]

Imagine how fearful that scenario will be. There is a group of people who had ended up in the fire due to following others, due to just being lazy and kind of “going with the flow”. In the heat of the fire, surrounded by flames like serpents enveloping their bodies, gasping for water, their throats parched to the extent they will feel like thorns in their necks. Every time their skin peels off, a new skin is given to them for that to peel off as well. Stuck in the position of the sins they might have died upon. Trying to leave but stuck there. Languishing in a prison made out of fire, surrounding them and constricting their movements, feeling like they are in dark pillars made out of fire. They will desperately scream to their fellows, fellows they had taken as leaders, given respect to, followed them thinking that their so-called leaders knew what they were doing. They will ask for the leaders to take off some of their burden (of punishment), but there’s none of that. Nobody can take the blame for someone else’s actions on that day. Allah has ruled in his perfect justice, and YOU are accountable for YOUR actions.

What we can get out of these verses is, if you don’t get yourself out of the hellfire, you have no-one to blame but YOURSELF. This means we really need to buckle up for Ramadan, and one step to buckling up, to hitting the ground running, to getting hyped up, is to PLAN AHEAD. Keep your eyes on the prize (descriptions of the amazingness of Paradise in the Qur’an etc.) and be on it basically.

Now to define this post’s title. We need to enter each Ramadan with a new baseline to improve upon. So after Ramadan we can’t simply fall into the bad habits we were in before Ramadan. We need to be improving in Ramadan, staying on the new level, and then that new level (or very close to it) will be our baseline for next Ramadan and then we will build that up to a whole other level, and then stick to that one. Each subsequent Ramadan should be better than the last in terms of what we achieve until we look back at ten Ramadan’s ago and say “Mate, that’s all I did back then? I was such a lightweight.” In shaa Allah.

The following are links to a few useful attachments which can help you prepare your du’as, your detailed plans, and also read about some tips to help brainstorm goals. I can’t emphasize how much it helps to WRITE THIS DOWN. If you just do this in your head, it’s fluid and you will forget it in a few days. But if it’s on paper it’s concrete and you can hold yourself accountable by coming back to the targets regularly.

A plan template for Project Ramadan https://goo.gl/SZEIpM, there are notes on the sides to what you can use it for, I also have a word doc version which I can email to you if you want (just email me at thaqib.moosa@gmail.com)

The Ultimate Du’a Workbook (A now-free workbook which helps to organize the du’as, the videos can also help, especially to get you hyped about the du’as): www.VisionaireOnline.com/ultimate-dua-machine.pdf with videos http://www.visionaireonline.com/raise-your-duas/

A link to a treasure trove of articles and resources on ProductiveMuslim.com:

http://productivemuslim.com/ultimate-ramadan-preparation-resource/?utm_source=getresponse&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ProductiveMuslim+NewsLetter&utm_content=%5B%5Brssitem_title%5D%5D#utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ultimate-ramadan-preparation-resource

Here is an example plan:  

Phase 1: (1st of May)

  • Reduce Food intake
  • No Whatsapp except for 9PM to 12 midnight.
  • De-activate Facebook, Get off Twitter and Instagram
  • Daily Qur’an (minimum two pages)
  • Starting to get regular with daily adhkaar (morning and evening, waking up and sleeping)
  • Start fasting on some Mondays and Thursdays to get body used to it

Phase 2: (20th of May, 15 days to Ramadan)

  • Start the first Khatm already.
  • Adhkaar game should be on point by now
  • Prepare some sort of light exercise programme to implement while fasting
  • Select some YouTube series (Seerah by Shaikh Yasir Qadhi, Surah Jinn by Shaikh Suhaib Webb/ Amazed by the Qur’an by Nouman Ali Khan recommended) or Podcast (Shaikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, SeekersHub podcast or other)

Phase 3: (11th of June, in Ramadan, first day after exams)

  • Start ramping up Qur’an
  • Review beforehand what will be recited in Taraweeh (Start Dr. Israr Ahmad Quran in Urdu)
  • Work through list of books to read and other constructive hobbies instead of other chill stuff., -Du3a’s listed, ready for memorization.

Phase 4: (22nd of June-ish, Day 16 of Ramadan) The final stretch

  • Putting in 2+ hours of Qur’an time daily memorization and reflection
  • Ra7eequl Makhtoom Arabic Seerah book started for completion by 7ajj,
  • Du3a’s listed and memorized prepared for last ten nights

Phase 5: (July 5th/6th/7th, Eid Night)

  • Review of Ramadan
  • Repeat the Du3as as tonight is Lailatul Jaa2iza,
  • Maintenance, consolidation and already preparing for the next baseline
  • Review six month goals in line with the du3as made in the last ten nights

 

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…and remember the name of Allah

by Anonymous

“… and remember the Name of Allah much (both with tongue and mind), so that you may be successful.” (8:45).

By 11am at work a couple of days ago, I was already having a bad day. I couldn’t find my USB that had on it 6 hours of typed work I had done late the night before, computers in my classroom decided they had done enough work for us and started randomly switching off, causing students’ mock exams to be repetitively interrupted, my phone charger stopped working (or, should I say, required wire manipulation to function, which, at this particular moment in my day, I had not the energy to resolve), I received an email informing all tutors that Ofsted were round the corner to observe unannounced and another email requesting a fresh pile of paperwork for a new system of exam bookings, which I simply would not have had the time to turn in by the stipulated deadline.

Anyway, as I rummaged through my bags in attempt to locate my USB, whilst running around the classroom reviving computers, seeing to students and responding to countless emails at the same time, I tried hard to reflect on what I had, or hadn’t done, that morning that may have caused this chaotic and stressful day, especially since I had only seen four hours of it by this point and there were a few more hours to come!

After that teaching session, I made wudu and prayed 2 rak’as for Duha, as I left home in a rush this morning and didn’t get time to perform this at home. I asked Allah to recover my USB and help me get through the busy day ahead with ease and success.

After I finished praying, a thought came to my mind that, despite already emptying my bag and not finding my USB there, it just was somewhere in there. So, I emptied it again completely, but I still couldn’t find it. Only after I tipped my entire bag upside down could I hear a piece of rattling plastic… The USB had fallen through a virtually invisible gap in the seam of the internal pocket of my handbag. I actually cried in relief. I glanced upwards in gratitude and prostrated sujood alshukr that The Merciful returned my work to me and relieved me of the burden of reconstructing what I had spent hours initially putting together. I felt that Allah was directly reminding me of His effortless mercy and power when I most needed it .

Alhamdulillah, my day steadily improved since praying salat Al-Duha, but I still felt unusually stressed. I sought forgiveness from Allah and, again, attempted to identify what it was that I seemed to have been missing on this day in particular.

Approximately an hour later, I received a text message from a friend which led to the the epitome of a lightbulb moment. She had kindly forwarded a dua for seeking aafiyah (to be saved from afflictions), which I will share with you below. I realised that, on this day, I had not read this dua which is normally part of my daily morning and evening dhikr.

I came to the realisation that I had now experienced a very different kind of day. A day where a number of things turned out complicated, inconvenient and quite testing. A day, perhaps, unadorned with aafiyah from Allah that we so desperately need but sometimes forget to ask for.

We are reminded that we need our daily adkaar (morning and evening duas) more than food and water, yet sometimes simply forget to read them. Ibn Alqayyim said: “I was always surprised by the strength of Ibn Taymiyyah. It amazed me how much strength and Iman he had.” One day, he asked Ibn Taymiyyah about his ability to do all of this, and Sheikh Al-Islam replied that the supplications he said every morning and evening were what gave him the strength to write, read, teach and debate to the extent that one time, one of his students said that Ibn Taymiyyah would sit doing dhikr from after fajr until close to Duhr time, and he asked him if he did this every day. Ibn Taymiyyah replied that, without it, he could not function.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “… ask Allāh for aafiyah for wallahi, you cannot be given anything better than aafiyah.”

Dua for aafiyah:

اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَفْوَ وَالْعَافِيَةَ فِي دِينِي وَدُنْيَايَ وَأَهْلي، وَمَالِي، اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُرْ عَوْرَاتِي، وَآمِنْ رَوْعَاتِي، اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظْنِي مِنْ بَيْنِ يَدَيَّ، وَمِنْ خَلْفِي، وَعَنْ يَمِينِي، وَعَنْ شِمَالِي، وَمِنْ فَوْقِي، وَأَعُوذُ بِعَظَمَتِكَ أَنْ أُغْتَالَ مِنْ تَحْتِي“.

O Allah, I seek Your forgiveness and Your protection in this world and the next. O Allah, I seek Your forgiveness and Your protection in my religion, in my worldly affairs, in my family and in my wealth. O Allah, conceal my secrets and preserve me from anguish . O Allah , guard me from what is in front of me and behind me , from my left , and from my right , and from above me . I seek refuge in Your Greatness from being struck down from beneath me.

On that reflection, I end with but a few of the numerous verses in the Quran which urge the remembrance of Allah:

﴿يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ ذِكْرًا كَثِيرًا(41) وَسَبِّحُوهُ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا(42) هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَلِّي عَلَيْكُمْ وَمَلَائِكَتُهُ لِيُخْرِجَكُمْ مِنْ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا(43)﴾ 

41. “O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance.
42. And glorify His Praises morning and afternoon [the early morning (Fajr) and ‘Asr prayers].
43. He it is Who sends Salat (His blessings) on you, and His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive you), that He may bring you out from darkness (of disbelief and polytheism) into light (of Belief and Islamic Monotheism). And He is Ever Most Merciful to the believers.” (33:41-43).

﴿وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ﴾

“… and remember the Name of Allah much (both with tongue and mind), so that you may be successful.” (8:45).
﴿وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا﴾. {الأحزاب:35}.

“… and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35).

اللهم اعنا على ذكرك وشكرك وحسن عبادتك.

O Allah, aid us in remembering You, praising You and effectively worshipping You.

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Keep Motivated

by Tayaba Haider

Exam/Assignment period can be very stressful, but at the same time do take time out to relax your mind. Be persistent and keep motivated but remember to take time out for yourself too.

A quote on persistence that comes to mind is:

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out” – Robert Collier

So create a revision plan and stick to it and in sha Allah all will be well!


Duas that can be recited for knowledge:

اللهم انى أسالك علماً نافعاً و رزقاً طيباً و عملاً متقبلاً

Allahumma inni as’aluka ‘Ilman naafi’an, wa rizqan tayyiban, wa ‘amalan mutaqabbalan

O Allah! I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision and deeds that will be accept,


رَّبِّ زِدْنِى عِلْمًا

Rabbi zidni ilma
O my Lord! Advance me in Knowledge [surah Ta-Ha; 20:114]


May Allah SWT ease the stress and grant you all success…Aameen

Good Luck everyone!
In Sha Allah you all will Smash it! 🙂

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