Day 15- Are You Having a DEENGASM?

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Annual MAS Ramadan Qiyam, Imam Suhaib Webb at ISOC from Junaid Ahmed on Vimeo.

Half way through Ramadan!!!  How CrAzY is that?  I suggest you make the most of your time during Ramadan, watch this deengasm!

Day 14- Chasing Away the Loneliness Birds

The thing about Ramadan is that its a time where being alone isn’t an option.  You are surrounded by people in the community, happens that also means being surrounded by your family.  One thing though is that Ramadan is also a time where if you don’t have family, you start feeling it.  But also, its when you start noticing the things that might be missing in your life, i.e.. a wife or husband.

I been talking about this with a couple of friends who are single like me.  What was most interesting was that their is a good degree of discrimination for familial relations, or lack there of in the Muslim community.  Being single often means you get excluded from activities.  One married friend said that that would be good enough reason to get married, he said its “encouragement to the bachelors”.  I disagree with that perception.  Everyone seems to think that people “choose to be single” and then on the other hand suggest that its all about naseeb (the concept of divine will).  What a contradictory paradigm that seems irreconcilable.

But what of the loneliness birds?  What are the loneliness birds,  you wonder?  Well its a myth from Africa that discusses how stones lying around together in a seemingly nest like situation were placed by “loneliness birds” that scan the earth searching for places to lay their eggs.  They are species of the high altitudes and are rarely seen beyond their silhouettes.  Humans are tempted to pick up these egg stones, when you do you find the they are super heavy.  That heaviness you feel is the heart that is grieving of a loved ones death, but for my purposes I would say its the feeling of being alone without a loved one.

I first ran into the myth when I read The Power of One by Bryce Courtaney where Peekay, the protagonist in the novel experiences loneliness as well as being an outsider wherever he goes in the novel.  The birds surface at various moments throughout his life.  The idea of being alone not only in terms of familial relations but also in terms of ideological perspectives was something I found intriguing in that it was something I could relate to as a child.  The way Peekay held on to his ideals and matured presented a wonderful plot.

But I am fascinated in how Ramadan brings out the loneliness birds for folks who are far away from home.  I somewhat feel parallels with my parents feelings of loneliness during these times of religious festivities.  How they immigrated here and didn’t feel the Ramadan cheer, but during Christmas time were surrounded by these alien celebrations they couldn’t make sense of.  I grew up with Christmas so the season isn’t that unfamiliar to me.  But here is an excerpt from my brothers blog about being alone even with his efforts to make Boston home:

Having just dropped off a visiting friend from California at the bus station, I was reminded how lonely things are here. That even despite my best attempts to make Boston my home, it is only a stop in the greater schemes of things. I don’t know where life will take me next…. maybe I’ll end up staying in Boston, maybe I’ll get to move back home or maybe end up in another part of the world! But as I walked from Copley Square to the medical campus in South End, I was at peace with where I am in life. Picking up a hot choclate from a popular bakery/cafe in the area, Flour, I sat on a bench facing the school and the sunrise, soaking up the early warmth of the sun, and thinking to myself how lucky I was. Depsite becoming aware of feelings of isolation, I was reminded we are born alone and die alone. I was reminded of the importance of creating strong bonds with hte places and people you come across. I was reminded how important it is to smile even to strangers

So remember to make that stranger at  your masjid feel at home this Ramadan, its a form of charity that is rewarded by God, so smile often!

Day 13- Chronicles of an Esquire in Training

Today was the first day of Law School orientation, all future posts on my law school experience will be under a title yet to be determined, but for now I began using “Chronicles of an Esquire in Training”.  This Ramadan my reflections focused on the idea of sufficiency.  Particular focus has been on the idea of eating sufficiently.  But sufficiency is not limited to just eating food, obviously.  I told you about how you should try to use this Ramadan to go on a journey in which you could lose yourself in your inner reflections.  Well no journey is going to be a success if you do not plan for it, and here is where I pull out a hadith- The Prophet SAW said “There is no wisdom equal to good planning.”

Wisdom is not this intellectual thingie as much as it is an accumulation of life experiences from which you have learned some lessons.  Life experiences that teach the best lessons are failures I believe.  I have had a lot of failures, especially those leading up to my being in Law School.  I looked at my mistakes and my failures so I could work toward a goal.  My goal was to attend law school but it required that I address the shortcomings that prevented me from getting into law school- LSAT score, GPA, credit rating, family and personal discipline or desire to go to law school.  Now I am in law school I have an end result I am working toward, I have personal achievements I am shooting for.  But oftentimes I found myself setting a lofty goal where there are significant gaps between where I am and where the result I was trying to get to.  So when you start toward your Ramadan journey, just think about realistic and achievable goals so that way you can carry out what you want to do during the remaining time in Ramadan.

Read this great article on “Goal Setting for Muslims” by Ahmed Adam.

As you focus on your inner journey of self-reflection for the rest of Ramadan take a look at this video with Sheikh Imam Ustadh Suhaib Webb at Zaytuna College giving a lecture on “Fasting, Materialism and Time Management

 

Day 12- Ramadan’ing With the Prophet

So its day twelve.  I am doing pretty well but I admit the schedule is really jammed packed tight.  I feel like every moment I get to rest, its time to get up and do something.  Even when I go to sleep, I feel like my alarm is going off and its time to wake up.  In this daze I started to wonder about the Prophet’s time and how Ramadan might have been then.  I get really caught up in imagining this because thinking about it makes me feel like I am closer to this man that lived 1400 years ago.  Its funny why we- Muslims- feel so close to a man that we don’t even know personally.  For entire generations a thousand and four hundred years removed to love a man this much amounts to something.

I think that because God loved his messenger so much, we Muslims today are left with that feeling of love towards him.  In the Quran, Allah says “The Prophet is preferable for the believers even to their own selves” (33:6).  The Prophet SAW in a hadith is recorded as saying “None of you becomes a believer until I am dearer to him than his children, his parents and all mankind” as reported by Bukhari and Muslim.  It sounds weird, I had a hard time understanding this.  I feel I still do.  But I think one thing I realized was that this is not something that isn’t reciprocated.  Infact, we know from the Allah in the Quran that “The Prophet is greatly grieved at your loss and extremely anxious for your good.  For believers he is full of kindess and rahmah (mercy, love)” (9:128).

A hadith that really chokes me up- literally- is the one of the Prophet SAW saying to his companions (those GRANTED Paradise mind you!)

Would that I can see my brothers coming toward me to the pool and welcome them with bowls filled with sweet juices. Before entering the paradise, I wish I can offer them from my Pool of Kawsar.

Upon these words, the companions said: Messenger of God! Are we not your brothers?

He replied:  You are my companions. And my brothers are the believers who believe in me without seeing me. Surely, I ask of my Lord to illuminate my eyes with you and the believers who believe without seeing me.

God even promises in the Quran in Surah al-A’araf that “those who believe in him, honour him, help him and follow the light which is sent down with him – it is they who will prosper” (verse 57).  That is where this love for the Prophet SAW stems from.  I could go on, but I want to get back to my imagining Ramadaning with the Prophet SAW.  In a hadith narrated by Anas RA, the Prophet SAW used to break his fast before offering Maghrib prayer by eating three fresh dates, if there were no fresh dates, he would eat three dry dates and if there were no dry dates, he would take three sips of water to break his fast.

I hate dates.  I despise dates.  I don’t like them at all.  But the Prophet SAW was a big fan, and had I been around for breaking my fast with the Prophet, surely, he would offer a date to me to break my fast.  How can I say no to a date offered by the Prophet SAW?  So I eat dates, at first begrudgingly.  Now I eat them knowing that if I were ever offered a date by the Prophet I would no make faces or feel guilty about eating something I don’t like.

Then I read about how the Prophet SAW said, as narrated by Anas RA “Eat Sahoor (predawn meal).  Surely, ther is a blessing in Suhoor.” The hadith tells me that sleeping in for sahoor is a bad idea.  The Sunnah of the Prophet is to eat something, even if its- get this- a DATE!

Day 11- Looking Like a Ramadan Zombie

Ramadan day 11.  Fasting might be getting to you.  If you are doing those late night prayers and waking up at 430AM to eat your sahoor than you might just look like a Fleischer zombie.  People around you must be wondering whats going on with your life to make you look so crazy or tired, but obviously if you been reading my post you’ve shared Ramadan with folks outside the Muslim community.  I thought I would share a quote that I read each Ramadan that helps me remember the way of the asthetic (a word I use loosely to suggest someone that is focused on spiritual nirvana and so is not caught up in the fine details of the world, like grooming, so some might say for men its the Ramadan beard.)  The quote is from Imam al Ghazali’s On Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires found as part of the larger volume known as The Revival of the Religious Sciences (“Ihya ulum al din”), and if you own the book, or buy it, you will find it in (23.1) “An Exposition of the Merit of Hunger and a Condemnation of Satiety” on page 109, the quote reads:

The nearest of all men to God on the day of Arising shall be those who were often hunry, thirsty and sad in this world, and who were affectionate and God-fearing; who, when seen, went unrecognised, and who, when absent, were never missed by men, but yet were known to the provinces of the earth and were compassed by the angels of heaven.  Others rejoiced in teh world, but they rejoiced in their obedience to God.  Others made soft beds for themselves, w hile they rested only on their forehead and their knees.  Others caused the works and morals of the Prophets to be lost, while they observed them.  The earth itself weeps when it loses them, and the Almighty’s wrath descends upon every land in which they are not found.  They did not rush into the world as dogs decend upon a carcass; rather did they eat such food as was sufficient to retain life, wear patched raiment, and were dishevlled and dusty-headed.  When people saw them they through them to be sick, yet they were not sick.  It was said, “they are deranged; they have lost their minds”; yet they were of sound mind, it was only that the people’s hearts behld the decree of God, which had idivested them of the world, so that for the world’s epeople they walked without minds.  Yet when the minds of the people had departed from them, it was they who understood.  Theirs is the hour of the Afterlife.  When you see them in a land, know that they are a source of protection for its people, for God shall never loose HIs chastisement upon a nation amonst whom the live.  The very earth rejoices at them and with them the Almighty is well-pleased.  Therefore hold your salvation.  And if you can live so that when death comes to youyour stomach hungers and your liver thirsts, then you shall attain the most exalted ranks, and shall abide with the Prophets; the angels theemslves sahll rejoice at the advent of your spirit, and the Almighty shall grant you His blessing.”

Hope you had something to reflect on as you fast today!

Chronicles of an Esquire In Training- The Begining of the Year They Scare You to Death: One-(hel)L

I imagine a future where I can be referred to as- Affad T. Shaikh, Esq.- the post-nominal “Esq.” stands for “esquire”. I find that quite sexy and it sends chills down my spine thinking that in three years I will have a chance to sit for the bar test and take on the license to practice law. I won’t bore you with why I chose to pursue law school, nor will I go in-depth into how I got to law school, now. If you follow my earlier blog, then you know all about my civil rights advocacy in the American Muslim, Arab, South Asian and Middle Eastern community in Southern California so simply that’s what brought me to law school.

For now you should know that I am a sane and rational being that has elected, volunteered, knowingly-signed-my-life-away-to-student-debt in order to pursue a legal education and eventual career as a licensed attorney.

Also you should know that I am 28 years old and I have worked for the past five years in a non-profit full time. I should also share with you that I am somewhat athletic, that I enjoy food and I am unique. I am a practicing Muslim who identifies with my American experience but appreciates my South Asian (Pakistani nationality) heritage. I have friends, family and lots of interesting hobbies. I am human and tend to show great amounts of sympathy as well as empathy.

Slowly, I imagine as you read this chronicle, you will notice how all those things melt away until I am an insane, irrational, readily institutionalized law student.  Telling people about my new endeavor has elicited cautious, and often completely repulsed, reactions.  People see the logic in my decision to pursue law school, but most law students suggest I not attend.

So look out for titled posts “Chronicles of an Esquire in Training” (or if it catches on CEIT) where I hope to elaborate about my law school experiences, try to also tell you the lessons I learned having gone through the experience if you happen to be an aspiring law students you can better prepare yourself for law school. The first year I have been told is defined as the “year they scare you to death”; the second year is “they work you to death”; and, finally, the third year is “when they bore you to death”. The first year is also called 1 (one)-(hel)L. I already sense the ominous environment I am about to find myself in shortly.

I do not claim to be practicing the law in the State of California or in the United States. In fact, I am incompetent to offer any legal advice and nothing here is such advice. You will find my opinions and experiences and various interesting facets of the law I have met on my way towards becoming a future licensed member of the legal profession in the State of California. In essence I am an esquire in training, and this is just a sarcastic, real, obscene and frantic chronicling of my law school experience for the benefit of whoever reads this blog. Its a cautionary tale for some, for others inspirational or comical, however you take these blog posts, know that this is my REAL EXPERIENCE. So handle with care.

Day 10- When You Completely Lose Yourself, You Find Yourself

shoes on the beach One Third of the Way- thats how far we have gotten!  Ten days ya’all, good job on hanging in there!  Thats the crazy thing about Ramadan, the month seems like its going to be so much but then it comes and goes.  We all are left wondering where did the time go, just out the window?

This post is from my buddy Abrahim, who is currently in Mexico City.  He went on a little journey there, and you can follow him on his blog American Accents. He advised that this Ramadan you “accept, learn and see the lesson in the failure.”  So immerse yourself in your Ramadan experience so you can let Ramadan in and not pretend that you are doing the most with it, rather do make the most of it.

Journeys that involve loosing oneself are the most likely to produce the real self, and I believe that’s what Ramadan needs to be.  We- and I am speaking to myself first get caught in the game of wanting to do for others, which is good, but we often times lose ourselves in maintaining a certain life style, or present ourselves as something we are not, or become beholden to societal pressures of what is acceptable, “normal”, proper, socially and culturally reasonable.  Shakespeare’s true about the world being one giant stage on which we are all but little actors, the sad part of this whole farce is that we never really play the characters we are inherently able to be.  God has given each one of us the ability to be the best we can be, but because we go around chasing these illusions that others around us have mandated, we merely play the back up actors or worse some people are the rocks and trees and shrubs!

If we truly want to be that person that we have been given the capacity to be, then we must loose ourselves in inner reflection.  Question why you are who you are.  Question what are the good traits and bad traits you have.  Question whether you are living to your potential or not.  Loose yourself in your inner reflections.  Reflect on why you feel the way you do, why you act the way you do, why you don’t feel or act the way you think you should.  I mean if you get upset at something and that reaction then infects the rest of your day and the way you interact with other people, then you should work on addressing the way you react to unpleasant things and also how to discuss that first reaction.  People try to change other people because its easier to try to change other people, the alternate, to change yourself, is much harder and more painful.

I always remember this story of how a Muslim scholar set out to change the world, when it wouldnt change he looked around and decided he would change his country.  When he couldn’t change his country for the better, he looked around and decided to change his region.  When that failed, he decided to work on his city and to change his city.  Sadly that didnt work to well so he decided to focus on his neighborhood, but that failed.  Finally he gave up and focused on changing himself to be a better person.  His change inspired his family to be better people.  Then those around his family were inspired to become better.  Then the neighborhood was focused on being better Muslims.  You get the picture, at the end the person focused on bettering themselves has a greater impact on society, you are the person you have control over most.

Before closing, I want to say this, because you focus on yourself, shouldn’t mean that you lose sight on whats going on around you.  We as humans will never be perfect.  We were not designed to be.  The Quran tells us that Allah told the Prophet SAW that he was to tell others that he is only human.  God admonishes the Prophet SAW in the Quran for his mistakes.  Perfection is a state of being we should strive for, but not get lost in.  We need to balance our self-reflection and betterment with our responsibilities around us- family, work, friends, community, volunteer work.

Day 9- Remedy for Complain-i-tis

سُبْحَان اللهِ وَ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ وَ لآ اِلهَ اِلّا اللّهُ وَ اللّهُ اَكْبَرُ وَلا حَوْلَ وَلاَ قُوَّة ِ الَّا بِاللّهِ الْعَلِىّ الْعَظِيْم

Subhāna-llāhi, wa-l-hamdu li-llāhi, wa lā ilāha illā-llāhu, wa-llāhu akbar. Wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāhi-l-ʿaliyyi-l-ʿazīm

Glory be to Allah and Praise to Allah, and there is none worthy of worship but Allah, and Allah is the Greatest. And there is no might or power except with Allah, the Exalted, the Great One

I posted up on facebook this little status about how “hard fasting was getting” while I was out and about doing errands.  I was also complaining about the noisy kids and the large crowds and the lack of spirituality all that was having on me.  Bloody fartikus.  If you think about it I got nothing to complain about because I am alive to make the most out of this situation.  I mean maybe these things wont let me make the most out of the situation, but that really give me no right to complain.  Again the people of East Africa are dying and they have no food to eat.  Mothers and Fathers are having to choose which child to keep alive.  I read a story about a women who committed suicide because she could not bear watching her child die in her arms.

Who am I to complain.  What test do I have that I feel so entitled to blurt out to the world my problems when compared to the suffering these people are going through.  If Ramadan is all about self-discipline and living with sufficiency then I should bear the burden of the complaints I have and take them to God.  How can I have a good disposition if all I am doing is finding things to complain about.  I focus on that complaint, soon enough it takes over my thoughts and enters my heart, tainting my spirituality.  In the end I suffer no one else does because attitude turns black and my smile turns to a frown.  I can no longer benefit from the most easiest form of charity- smiling at another person.

I realized this thanks to Mona Shadia, a reporter friend of mine.  She posted up this beautiful post on my complaint status- “Say subhan Allah, wa Alhamdulilah, wa la ilaha ila Allah, wa Allahu akbar. I say it and wake up, usually.”

Honestly thinking about those simple words- Subhan Allah= Glory is to God

قُلْ هَـذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

12:108 Say thou: “This is my way: I do invite unto Allah,- on evidence clear as the seeing with one’s eyes,- I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah. and never will I join gods with Allah.”

Then wa Alhamdulilah=Praise belongs to God.  Much like the Jewish Halelu Yah (hallelujah).  Unfortunately today this phrase is a sort of “oh thats good that happened” but the reality is the Arabic means so much more.  It means to say with so much love, passion for the gratitude owed to God.  I feel its good to say it often, as the remembrance of God is as sweet as honey on the tongue, but to say it and not understand it is truly a shame.  This particular is found in the second verse of Surah Fatiha, and that surah in of itself is the entire Quran.

Then we have wa la ilaha ila Allah, wa Allahu akbar= There is one God, God is Great.  Without giving to much credit to this story, as I do not have anything I can reference it to and will have to check with some folks, as a kid I was told about this phrase and how it came about.  When the angels were asked to move God’s throne they found it heavy and their strength lacking so God taught them the phrase Subhan Allah.  They moved the throne but also fell in love with the phrase so much that they buzzed around reciting it.  Then God created Adam, giving him the breath of life from which Adam AS sneezed.  Adam AS recited Alhumdulillah after his sneeze, so the Angles heard him, finding the phrase beautiful they added it to their hymn.  When Noah AS spent 900 years preaching to his people, telling them la-ilaha ill-Allah, the Angels heard his determination and so added this to their hymn as well.  Then came Abrahim, not finding the strength to slaughter his son, he AS called upon Gods greatness to give him strength, and so the Angels hearing Allahu akbar, they also added this to their hymn.  Then came the blessed event of miraj, the night journey on which the beloved Prophet Muhammad SAW ascended to Gods presence and he SAW heard the angels reciting their hymn, to which he added Wala Howla Wa La Quwata Illah Billah Hil Aleyeel Azeem- there is no power or might greater than God.

To finish on a more orthodox or secured note of authenticity here is the following hadith to reflect on:

Abu Hurairah also reported that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “I love repeating subhanallah, wal-hamdulillah, wa la-ilaha ill-Allah, waAllahu akbar (Glorified is Allah, all praise is due to Allah, and there is no God but Allah, Allah is the greatest) more than all that the sun shines upon.” (Muslim and Tirmizhi)

Day 8- The World is a Sorcerer

After  a while I realized that my reflections were coming up with a theme, but it wasnt until blogger reader Maryam D. in Canada identify it and label it for what it is- living sufficiently.  So this years Ramadan reflections are truly about living sufficiently.  The remains the focus for me in the future posts I have been conjuring up my thoughts on.  But also because I feel that in a time of such economic volatility, so much unrest throughout the world and continuous natural and man made disasters be falling humanity left and right, living sufficiently seems to be something people are having a hard time coming to terms with, atleast here in the West.  We are so used to a life of plenty that living that we see that standard of living as our birthright.

Sufficiently, defined as:

1. Being as much as is needed.
2. Archaic Competent; qualified
I brought this topic up especially during my post on Day 2: Iftari’ed Out where I wrote about what eating sufficiently meant for the Prophet SAW.  I want to take the time to expand on that definition to speak from an Islamic perspective on what “sufficiency means” and then go into the spiritual implications of this, without spending to much time on either issues.  I would highly recommend you read Imam al-Ghazzali’s, specifically Discliping Ones Soul.
To understand what it means to live sufficiently, as Muslims we need to take step back and look at what “the world (dunya)” means to us, as described in the Prophetic example:
Jesus (AS) in his own revelations, saw the world in the shape of an old woman.  He (AS) asked her “how many husbands have you had?” She replied “Too many to count.”  He responded by asking “Did they die or divorce you?” She answered “Neither, I slew them all.”  Jesus said “How strange it is that those other fools who saw what you had done to the others, nevertheless desired you and did not learn the lesson.”
Yes, he called us all fools.  We got the Prophetic smack down there, but it wasnt limited to Jesus (AS) who referred to the life in this world in an analogy of a assassinating old women who beguiled the inhabitants with her charms, many of the Prophetic traditions hold the world to be of such a nature.  But we have a purpose here and not all is bad in this world.  Prophet Muhammad SAW said “Just as it is not possible for a person to enter the water without getting wet, it is not possible for a person to engage in the affairs of the world without getting tainted.”  So we aren’t required to be perfect, but what is required according to Jesus (AS) is the ability to understand that drinking from the bounties of this world will only make us thirstier, and we will try to quench our thirst in this world until we “perish, and the thirst never passes from” us.
In the Quran we can find God telling us “And the good deeds which endure are better in God’s sight” (19: 76), for which we find ourselves here in this world in the first place.  God wants us to strive to be our best, what our nature our inner self, nafs– is in conflict with.  We get lost in this world and our life.  Imagine being a pilgrim going for Hajj in Mecca where you busy yourself with the logistics and the planning and get there to find yourself only focused on finding a way to get from place to place that soon you forget about yourself, you loose sight of the Kabah, and eventually you loose sight of the purpose of your journy- the Hajj.  We loose ourselves in this world all the time trying to secure what we believe is “sufficient” for us.
Imam al-Ghazzali succinctly observed that the root of all we need in life is food, clothing and shelter.  God created us and this Earth along with the plants and animals and minerals.  We instinctively busy ourselves with these creations, our animal soul, according to the Imam busied itself out of love of these items or their acquisition, or the body with its desire to improve or care for these things.  When we engage in a love for these things traits of greed, envy, enmity and such appear in our heart, further entwining us with the world.  Being so meshed with the worldly affairs and the subsequent emotions creates the psychological desire, which is a human necessity, to develop specialized branches of work- farming, construction, art- each of which is intertwined with one another.  We can’t do each of these specialized jobs so it requires our ability to negotiate, develop relationships and come together.  Ghazzali states that “eventually, transactions appear among them from which antagonisms arise, for each person may not be satisfied with his own portion, and they may attack and cheat one another.  As a result they find themselves in the need for three more arts: one, the art of politics and rule; two, the art of adjudication and government; and three, the art of religious jurisprudence by which the law of mediation among the people may be known.”
So we busy ourselves with that which we think is sufficient- food, clothing and shelter- but  we justify the necessity of these things for satisfying the three basic needs, the three things that are necessary for the body, the body is necessary for the heart, to serve as its vehicle.  The heart is necessary for knowing God.  So the Prophet SAW says “The world is more of a sorcerer than were Harut and Marut; beware of it!”
You must be wondering what does this have to do with living sufficiently and Ramadan- well if you dont get it, go back  up and read this post again.  Our hearts are weak and we are designed to fall into the trap that this world is all about.  God didn’t want us
to be perfect, he created us to have our weaknesses and our strengths.  What is required of us is our ability to self-discipline our souls and body to cultivate good character, to create a just society and to be at peace with this world and its transitory nature.
Fudayl Iyad RA said “I prefer the company of a good-natured sinner to that of a bad-natured holy man.”  Our disposition is what helps us to understand what it means to live sufficiently, because living sufficiently is about living a balanced life- ” And those who, when they spend, are neither prodigal nor grudging, and there is a firm station between the two (25:67)”-  the path of Islam is narrow and straight, between two extremes.  Those who have the power of reason, in excess and involved with bad works, gives rise to deception and hypocrisy, while when its deficient gives rise to ignorance and foolishness.  With anger, when in excess you have recklessness and when deficient you have cowardice and lacking spirit.  Lust, in excess gives you jealousy and an attraction for this world more toxic then when in deficiency where you are lethargic and impudent and lacking honor.  Imam Ghazzali believed that these traits were at the root of what it meant to have a good disposition in which you can walk the straight path, because in sufficient doses each trait offered the characteristic of a Muslim- temperance, modesty, contentment, patience, tolerance, wit, approval, courage, good planning, sound insight and wisdom.

Day 7- ISOC Qiyam’ed Out

(post up pictures later…sorry)

If you notice how social media is a bit dead right now, then you are observing the post-Qiyam syndrome. Last night the Islamic Society of Orange County aka Garden Grove Masjid (aka Muzzamils house), along with Muslim American Society hosted the first “All Masjid Qiyam Program” and the masjid was off the wall. I mean I was sitting next to folks like Imam Saddiq Safir (his son Imam Jihad Safir), Sheikh Alauddin el Bakri, Sheikh Abdul Jalil and board members from the large masjids from across five counties of Southern California. I was seeing folks I was active with in college from UCSD and folks who were family friends with my parents.

If you don’t get what I am getting at its simply- the whose who of Southern California American Muslim community was present last night amongst the 2,000 plus people (which is the number in the prayer hall, but i hear there were just that many outside in the lobby and around the masjid complex!) that showed up there. My sincere and warmest appreciation to the organizers. (I hope the FBI felt the need to send forth their minions to such an auspicious gathering.) This event was not simple by any means, especially while fasting all day and staying up all night. But if you didnt go because of the “crowd” prospect than you were not the only one, I was actually hesitant to go because I don’t feel comfortable in carnival like environments such as the Qiyam potentially presented. I decided to put all that aside because of a girl….my SISTER!…and also because I realized while at the event, it’s about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. I wanted to make the most of it, so I found whatever means I could to get away from the places where people were talking and socializing. I was sitting right up front of the prayer hall. It was worth it!

Like I mentioned before in my past reflections on Ramadan this year, Ramadan is all about a spiritual flu shot type of scenario. Its 30 days of intense spiritual immersion so you can face the rest of the year and have the means to survive to the next Ramadan opportunity. Ramadan is what you make out it. Shiekh Suhaib Webb said “If the doctor prescribes you medicines and you refuse to take it, then don’t blame the doctor for your illness or lack of recovery” so the same is true of Ramadan. Allah prescribed for us a month in which we can refuel our souls no matter how religious we are or the degree of religion we lack, his Mercy knows no bounds and this is especially true during Ramadan. So what is a Qiyam and furthermore what is a Qiyam program?

God tells us in the Quran, Surah Isra

And during the part of the night, pray Tahajjud beyond what is incumbent upon you; maybe your Lord will raise you in a position of great glory (17:78)

We also can learn from the Quran, in Surah Furqan, that those who spend a portion of the night in prostration will be amongst the righteous and earn God’s mercy and benefit from his innumerable bounty. The crazy thing about Tahajjud prayers is that if you make a sincere intention to wake up and pray, but fail to wake up because you are drowsy, according to one hadith, the Prophet SAW says that you will have your intentions recorded as if you had woken up and prayed that night prayer (reported by Abu Darda). Thirmidhi reports that the reason for this status of the Tahajjud prayer lies in that this action and its timing are the closest that a servant comes to his Lord, where you “remember Allah the Exalted One at that time, then do so” in prayer, an inconvenience to your sleep.

Also think about this if you are trying to get closer to God. If you are the closest to God at this moment when you pray Tahajjud but you are prevented to wake up or even make the intention, do you ask yourself why this is happening? I found it interesting to read in the chapter of “Praying at Night” in Purification of the Soul which was compiled from the works of Imam al-Hanbali, Imam al-Jawziyya and Imam al-Ghazali, Al Hasan responded that “A man commits a sin and because of it he is deprived of staying up at night” which basically translates to “Do not disobey God during the day, so that you can not benefit from his mercy at night.”

While its better to start with just praying one prayer on time, as Imam Wisam Sheriff suggested at the Qiyam last night, to come together at a opportunity like last nights is truly uplifting to the soul and can do wonders for you spirituality.

A Qiyam program is basically a program created to bring together folks to listen to brief lectures throughout the night punctuated by prayers that equal the 11 rakat’s of tahajjud prayed by the Prophet SAW. At all times you are in the presence of your brother and sisters in Islam and better yet you are in the masjid surrounded by Angels sent down to record your names which are reported to God who asks the Angels “which of his servants is remembering him late and night and what is it that they request of me.” (amalgamation of surah’s and hadith, forgive me but I ran out of time complete the research.)

So there are some more Qiyam programs coming up, if not organize one with your Youth Group in your community. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to maximize your reward during this month!

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