Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2 Down, 1 to Go

As of last week I have finished 2 out of 3 computer courses at the employment centre. I learned Microsoft Word and Excel in the first one and then Microsoft Word, Excel and Publisher in the second one. Can I say I love Publisher? Its like what I took back in the day at college when I studied Advertising; a program called PageMaker. Now, with just one left, which will include Access this time, I am almost done. Insha Allah, hope to complete this by Ramadan and then add these skills to my resume. Hopefully, employers will take note. Can't see why they wouldn't ,since every office  job seems to need these skills. What's your favourite Microsoft program? Oh I also like Powerpoint which my kids taught me.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mini Job

Haven't written anything in awhile as first my daughter got really sick and then I got a mini job and then I got sick too. Whew. Things are back to normal now. Feeling healthy and back to taking my lessons for Microsoft Office. Circumstances have put me far behind though. Insha Allah I hope to finish before Ramadan. So what was my mini job? I was a distributor/ promoter for the MS Society. What did this entail? Well I had to construct these little boxes by folding them together and then bundle MS Walk and Bike cards to be put into it. Then I had to go to various businesses/offices to ask them if they would allow me to leave the boxes on their counter. Doesn't seem like a big deal but my whole day and night was taken up with this work for 8 days and in the middle of it I got a call from school saying my daughter was sick. As well I was doing this during the coldest days of the year; record breaking temperatures that they haven't seen since the 1960's! Was I cold? For sure! But I'm a Northern girl originally so I can take it. Well almost. One day was so bad I had to go home early. This job was interesting because I got to interact with the public and learn a lot about human nature in a short time and also realized how many businesses had been closed down. I went to over 300 place in 3 cities/towns. I got to hear stories about people that had MS which were very sad and once I broke down as I was told about the death of one of them. I mainly did this job for two reasons; to freshen up my resume and to help find a cure for MS which I apparently have. From this job I realized that I really like being independent; no one breathing down my neck and working outdoors (partially) and dealing with people. I wonder now what job I will get in the future. Meanwhile I'll continue working on my computer skills. Have you ever worked for a charity?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Skating Test

So its been 4 years since I've had MS or a virus or whatever it is that is causing me my troubles. Since I had this I've been unable to skate which is one of my favourite pastimes because of how it connects me to my kids. I'm either teaching them how to skate or enjoying time at the rink with them but no more. For the past few years I've had to sit in the bleachers and ....just watch. Last year I decided to give it a whirl. I went around the rink while holding onto the side but my legs collapsed and my teenage daughter had to bring me back to my seat. This year after going to a homeopath for a year I thought I would try it again. This time I did not collapse but it was still impossible for me to skate. I held onto the sides again and took breaks in the side seats and completed one round and gave up. I'm sure everyone thought I was an immigrant who didn't know how to skate instead of a convert who had been skating for 40 yrs and now had MS or whatever I have. Its depressing but I am grateful for all the years I had to skate and know many people have never had the chance due to worse situations than me like the woman in the wheelchair that I see there often. I am in no way allowed to complain and as Muslims we must not. What saddens me is being cut off from my kids. I wave to them through the window/plexiglass and I help them tie up their skates and take pictures but its not the same. I long one day to skate again with my kids. I am thankful that my youngest quickly learned to skate though with my teen daughter. I am grateful for older kids to take my place but still melancholic. It would also be nice if I knew anyone there to pass the time with as well but for one and half hours each week I peer through the window and enjoy the bliss that is mine; children with the ability and chance to skate for free every week.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Country who reads my blog the most!

I checked out my stats and was expecting that my own Country, Canada, would be the one who reads my blog the most but its not! Can you guess? My second guess would have been Malaysia since I write about that all the time but nope. So then you could guess USA since they are close or a Muslim country right? Nope, again! Shockingly, its the Czech Republic! What? I was so surprised! So to all of you out there thanks for reading my blog and leave me a little note about why you as a Czechoslovakian read my blog, please. I'm really curious.

Read about Czechoslovakia here.

Is Muslim blogging dying?

I looked at my blogroll and some people haven't blogged for 1, 2,3,4 or even  5 years! What's happening to Muslim bloggers? Is blogging dying in general? I know I'm not the most frequent blogger but come on, I don't go for years without blogging! What's up? Did everyone move on?

What kind of blogs do you read? What makes you come back? Are you sad when bloggers disappear? Are you a blogger who has stopped blogging?

Share your thoughts, preferably this year. Better yet, how about today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Walking through the door.

Did I get a job? You've been wondering right? Well, no. So in the meantime I've been exploring my options. I looked at job postings and people's profiles on linkedIn and realized that I needed to upgrade myself.

 First, I thought ,I had to learn SEO, but could see that it takes years and/or lots of money. Apparently its a competitive niche market and maybe I should just concentrate on content writing.

 Then, I had to explore where I could find these sites, which offered writers' jobs. Did you know that one place is Twitter? I don't even have a Twitter account but you can see them without that.

 I also found out  you are supposed to have a blog and no, not this one, but a real, business one where you brand yourself and put up examples of your writing. Well first you have to write something fresh and recent and do your best, so that you can be chosen, out of all other writers. Pressure!

 Besides SEO, I also noticed that everyone wants you to have the latest programs down pat, such as Microsoft Word (at least  2010) and just about every Microsoft Office program you can think of. So in that vein, I have been taking Microsoft Word with 2007 booklets, on a computer which has the 2010 program, which is pretty close. Insha Allah, I will also be taking Excel and PowerPoint and all three of these programs are FREE at your local handy-dandy employment centre. Isn't the gov't nice?

So I'm not sure what I will end up doing. I would prefer a job with a steady cheque, but,maybe I'll have to end up doing freelance work. Only Allah knows the future. In the meantime, I will keep bettering myself and looking out for opportunities insha Allah.

Here is a useful link to a site with free program learning. 

Oh and yes I am still homeschooling my son. He is reading The Travels of Ibn Battuta.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Out of Hibernation

The bear is awake and she's groggy and hungry and disoriented. Yup that's me. After 16 years since my last job, I am on the prowl once more for gainful employment. I know, I know, I should just take it easy right? All my kids are off to school. I've been doing this forever. So why not rest? Truth is I'd love to but I have a debt to pay, a student debt that I incurred when I was still Christian and a college student. Due to discrimination I never really got a real job and haven't been able to pay off my loan. I've been just sigh an old Muslim woman in the shoe. Hey according to society its nothing and doesn't pay the bills or off debts. So here I am leaving the cave and I haven't got a clue what I am doing. Resume, check. References, sort of check. Trip to the employment centre, check. Interview workshop, check. Calling potential employees, check. Applying for a few jobs, check. Joining LinkedIn, check. Getting nowhere, check. Ok I'm still a newb in a way because  its been so long, the world has changed. I graduated from Advertising in 1991. I know some of you reading this weren't even born yet. Picture a world of giant computers,floppy disks,no cellphones and MC Hammer pants. Are you gasping yet? Good. So anyway I am embarking on my journey. I'm looking for some honey to sweeten my pot and maybe a fish or two. But the bees are all dying I've heard and the fish are becoming depleted. 2014 is a new world to be traversed. If you have any job search tips for an old woman, I'm all ears. Ready to claw myself up the ladder.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What would happen if you sat beside me?

We're not in grade school anymore right? Well when you convert to Islam it feels like you are plunked right back there. This month I will have been a Muslim for 23 yrs insha Allah. When you convert you lose your friends and family members..at least that's what happened to most GenX converts. BabyEcho converts have chill parents that used to be hippies so it plays out a bit differently. But then you think hey there will be replacements. Not so much. You go to the mosque and no one wants to sit with you. You are not from their country, do not speak their language, are not engaged in their country's politics etc etc. You go out into the world and your countrymen don't want to sit with you either. They think you are a foreigner, a terrorist. You spend your new life sitting alone, being alone. At first its ok..you are deeply involved in learning Islam. You are in love with it. But then? What would happen if you sat beside me? Would the world end? Or would you make a friend? The other day I saw a woman and her daughter from the library and told my daughter to say hi. She did and also sat with them leaving me alone like a freak. My daughter said would you like to sit with my mother (my daughter is 5) and the woman said and did nothing. Then at the park I was sitting on a bench with room beside me but a mom/grandma avoided the bench and went to sit on the....curb. Really? What would happen if you sat with me? I promise I don't bite. Before becoming Muslim I don't ever remember being shunned like this..well the popular girls like to play that game but I just ignored them; I had my own friends. But now when everyone shuns you it becomes glaringly obvious. You know you don't even have to talk, just sit next to me. Would it hurt you? Seriously? How bad could it be? Half my life (almost) I 've been Christian and half my life I've been Muslim. So either way I could easily talk to anyone. I always have in fact and have never been afraid to sit with you. Now come sit with me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ramadan memories

Whew! Long summer days of fasting and short nights. But we made it right? We did a couple of things we didn't do before this year. One, giving out Ramadan boxes. I got the idea from a facebook group and decided why not? I headed over to the dollar store and began the process.I highly recommend it. After 7 yrs I got to meet a lot of neighbours I hadn't met before and everyone was so nice. The next day one neighbour said thank you and that they wished more neighbours were like us. I also saw one of my neighbours at the library and it was so nice to realize we knew each other and to carry on a conversation. No one was upset that we did it.

 Another new thing was my daughter making handmade Eid cards from an old wallpaper book and dollar store finds for converts.Converts are often forgotten so it was a nice thing for my daughter to think of. This year I did get an Eid card from New Muslim Academy plus a phone call which was really nice and made my day.

  Finally I hosted a convert iftar at the mosque for the first time by way of New Muslim Care of which I am the chapter manager.It wasn't a very good turn out in terms of converts but we also got to break the fast  of the huffaz , some students and some tablighi brothers and one gentleman who was searching for the truth. One sister who helped out (not a convert) said let's do this every year. :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Good Cheer
Yunus (Jonah) - Chapter 10: Verse 58
"Say, 'In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy - in that let them rejoice; it is better than what they accumulate.'"
We must learn to remedy our sorrows with joy and good cheer. There are so many things that we can rejoice in. We should rejoice in our very humanity, knowing that Allah has so honoured the human being.

We should rejoice in the blessings that we have, and that we often overlook or take for granted. We should feel joy in being alive. We should rejoice in our family and loved ones, and in the provision that Allah has given us.

We should take cheer in thanking Allah for His blessings, since through our gratitude Allah will continue to bless us. 

When Allah says in the aforementioned verse: "Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His Mercy…" He is calling us to rejoice in His bounty and His mercy. This refers to all the goodness that Allah provides for us in our lives, including but not limited to material wealth.

Allah's bounty refers to His providence – to everything that He gives us that we obtain in a wholesome and lawful way. Even if what we are given is little, we should not exhaust ourselves spiritually and emotionally in the pursuit of wealth and in the incessant competition with those who may have more than us. A little wealth that suffices our needs is far better that an abundance of wealth accompanied by avarice and discontent.

Allah likewise tells us to rejoice in His mercy, which we can find in our knowledge of Him, in our faith, in the revelation of the Qur'an, and in the goodness He has placed in our hearts.

When we achieve joy and contentment in these two aspects, we have attained true worldly happiness. This is a blessing that Allah bestows on whomever He pleases. Moreover, it is a blessing born of faith, since faith brings us to pin our hopes on Allah and to set our sights on the Hereafter. Faith allows us to look beyond our present circumstances – even when those circumstances seem hopeless – with the expectation of surmounting them by Allah's grace.

We take strength in such faith so we can persevere.
Compiled From:
"Say: In the bounty of Allah and in His Mercy - in that let them rejoice" - Salman al-Oadah

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Purifying Fast
It is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Remember! Zakat al-Fitr is Wajib (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) on every Muslim, man or woman, free or in servitude, adult or child." (Tirmidhi)
Literal meaning of Zakat (or Zakah) is the process of purification. Fitr is from the word Fitrah and its literal meaning is (one’s) nature or natural state. Hence, the meaning of Zakat al-Fitr is to purify one’s nature.
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet made the Zakat al-Fitr obligatory for the purpose of: purifying our fasting from vain talk and shameful mistakes, to make arrangements for the poor and the needy for food and clothing (for the festival of Eid). (Abu Dawud, Ibn Maja)
Every adult Muslim, with sufficient food for the family for a day, should pay Zakat al-Fitr for himself/herself and all his/her dependents. Even those who did not fast should pay it. Zakat al-Fitr should also be paid for the child born or the person died before the Fajr (dawn) on the day of Eid.
At the time of the Prophet, payment of Zakat al-Fitr was made in terms of weight of grain. It is one Sa for each person. One Sa approximately equals to 3.15 kg or 6.94 lbs. The Muslim jurists agree that Zakat al-Fitr can also be paid in cash equivalent to the cost of 3.15kg/6.94 lb. of grain including rice, wheat, lentils, corn, and dry cheese.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said, "Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity."  The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. (Bukhari)

Zakat al-Fitr should be paid early enough so it will reach the needy and the poor before the Eid day.  It will enable them to use it for food and clothes and give them the opportunity to enjoy the happiness of Eid-ul-Fitr.
Zakat al-Fitr should be paid directly to the needy and the poor.  However, you can also pay it to an organization, which would distribute it in accordance with the teaching of Islam. Remember! It is still your responsibility.  So, make sure before paying that the organization will distribute it according to the teaching of Islam and before Eid Prayer.
Compiled From:
"Zakat Al-Fitr is Wajib" - Ali Siddiqui
Grief on Eid
While Eid is definitely a time of joy and happiness, it's also one of sadness for those who recall happy occasions with deceased family members. Whether we're experiencing this sadness ourselves, or know someone who is, grief is something we can't ignore.
Pray to Allah (Dua)
One way of dealing with sadness on Eid is through Dua (supplication). Once a man from the tribe of Salmah came and said to the Prophet, peace be upon him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do my parents have rights over me even after they have died? And Rasulullah said: Yes. You must pray to Allah to bless them with His Forgiveness and Mercy, fulfill the promises they made to anyone, and respect their relations and their friends. (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah).
Why not use Eid to make Dua and remember deceased parents? As well, why not use it as an occasion to visit and show respect to their relatives and friends? This will alleviate some of the pain of missing them on an occasion when families get together and celebrate.
Cherish the good memories
If the deceased is another relative or friend, why not invite over those who remember him or her on Eid day for a meal followed by an Eid gift. This way you can be with those who cherish the memories of your loved one.
Turning the tables, if you know someone dealing with personal grief this Eid, make a special effort to invite them over. If this is their first Eid after their loved one has passed away, then extra sensitivity may be needed. Maybe you can take them out for a meal at a restaurant instead of having a large get-together so that you can both share fond memories of the relative or friend.
Avoid Isolation
Personal grief isn't just connected to the death of a loved one. It could be related to family problems, losing a job, failing grades or more. In this case, the need to get together with others on Eid is even more important. The key is to avoid isolation on a happy occasion. If you have a family member or friend who is suffering through such problems, inviting them over on Eid day can lift their spirits. This can help them break the cycle of depression and hopelessness they may be going through. Offer them words of Dua, hope and comfort which can also help them cope with their difficult situation.
This Eid, if you see someone suffering, try to comfort them. We must make a special effort to help anyone in need, and Eid day, which is a happy occasion, is an excellent occasion to do so.
Compiled From:
"Dealing with grief on Eid" – SoundVision.com

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Ethics of Consumption
Al-Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 219 (partial)
"... They ask what portion of their wealth they should spend in charity. Answer: What remains after you have covered the necessities ..."
The principle of world-affirmation which devolves from al tawhid implies the legitimacy of consumption. Consumption, i.e. apprehension of the material values, or satisfaction of desires and wants, is a basic right which belongs to all humans by birth. Its minimum is subsistence, and its maximum is the point at which consumption becomes tabdhir (extravagance, indulgence). That point can be defined as that in which psychic factors play a greater role in determining consumption of material goods than material need. Where the good or service in question is itself psychological, the extravagance point can be defined as that at which consumption is dictated by other psychic needs than those immediately affected by the product or service.
An example of the former would be the person who buys a product not because he needs it but out of vanity; and of the latter, the person who buys a ticket for an orchestral performance, not in order to enjoy the performance, but to "outdo the Joneses." Under al tawhid, a person may consume according to his need. The rest of his income or wealth should be spent on charity, in the cause of Allah, or reinvested in a business where it may produce more wealth as well as employment and income for others. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked what portion of their income/wealth should the Muslims spend in the cause of Allah, the answer was given through revelation of the above verse. This answer defines extravagance retroactively, as it were, by the assignment of all that goes beyond the satisfaction of real needs, to charity or public cause. Of course, increased production and its requirements of investment and entrepreneurship are included in the term "needs" as used by this verse.
Compiled From:
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, p. 180

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Honest Living
Muslim has reported Abu Hurairah as saying that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Verily, Allah is pure and He accepts only that which is good and pure."
One of the practical requirements before a supplication is accepted is that the supplicant must pursue an honest living and earn his livelihood through lawful means. The food that he eats or the clothes that he wears, in fact all his possessions, must be lawful and acquired through lawful means. This presumes noble qualities, like honesty, good behaviour, and contentment with what one has. These qualities make one the subject of others' love and of brotherly feelings and goodwill. A strong will is evidently necessary to achieve all these noble qualities.
Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, p. 201

While the modern West has concentrated on "change" and has rejected or ignored any "permanence," many Muslims have stuck themselves to "permanence" and have ignored "change," its effects, and its implications in the human life in different times and places. They became fond of the "oneness" in the Muslim thinking and the Muslim society, thinking that this is a natural and essential result of the belief in the One God and in Muslim unity. Such a fundamental misconception has developed other distortions about human nature, the message of Islam, and Muslim history.
A static understanding of the Islamic "model" has led to ignoring human diversity in conducting a Muslim lifestyle and adhering to the same faith and divine sources. The flourishing civilization under the Umayyads and Abbasids has been simply considered a deviation from the right path, since the pattern of that lifestyle was different from what had existed at the time of the early caliphate in Medina. Naturally not every difference is deviation, and all the Muslim life and the entire Muslim society cannot be restricted to the political system and the rulers. Magnificent material and intellectual developments in the Muslim civilization which were brought up by the whole people, whatever the rulers' behaviour may be, cannot be denied, and they had their impact on non-Muslim countries at the time. Hereditary monarchy and absolute authority characterized the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties, but during that period fascinating developments took place in the exegesis of the Quran, the examination and collection of Sunna and the commentary on it, jurisprudence, theology, logic and philosophy, linguistics and literature, science in its various fields, medicine with its various areas, architecture, art, agriculture, industry, trade, transportation etc. Can we ignore such total distinguished civilizational developments produced by all the people because of the negatives of palace life?
Compiled From:
"Human Rights in the Contemporary World" - Fathi Osman, p. 11

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Reasons to Fast
Al Baqara (The Cow) - Chapter 2: Verse 183
"O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness of God."
“What is fasting?” “How does the fasting of Muslims in Ramadan differ from the fasting of other faiths?” “Why should one ‘torture’ one’s body in the first place?” “What do you really gain from fasting in the end?" These are a few questions that a number of non-Muslim friends and colleagues often ask us, usually out of fascination with this spiritually-uplifting practice of Islamic faith, and at times out of pity and sympathy for us, thinking, why should anyone suffer from hunger and thirst like Muslims? I wouldn’t be surprised if many of us shared the same negative perception of fasting.

It is important to note that fasting in Arabic is called “Sawm”, which literally means ‘to be at rest’. Fasting in the month of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is one of the Five Pillars upon which the “house” of Islam is built. During this month, every able-bodied Muslim is required to fast everyday from dawn until dusk
7 Reasons To Fast
  1. Fasting is an institution for the improvement of moral and spiritual character of human being. The purpose of the fast is to help develop self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, the spirit of caring and sharing, the love of humanity and the love of God. Fasting is a universal custom and is advocated by all the religions of the world, with more restrictions in some than in others. The Islamic fast, as opposed to mere starvation or self-denial, is an act of worship and obedience to God, thanksgiving, forgiveness, spiritual training, and self-examination.
  2. Fasting indoctrinates us in patience, unselfishness, and gratitude. When we fast we feel the pains of deprivation and hunger, and learn how to endure it patiently. The meaning of this powerful experience in a social and humanitarian context is that we are much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to their needs.

  3. It cultivates in us the principle of sincere love because when we observe fasting we do it out of deep love for God. And a person, who loves God, truly is a person who knows what love is and why everyone on this Earth should be loved and treated justly, for the sake of God.
  4. Fasting elevates the human spirit and increases our awareness of God. It strengthens our willpower as we learn to rise above our lower desires. The institution of fasting is both unique and a shared experience in human history. From the very beginning of time, humans have struggled to master their physical and psychological selves: their bodies and their emotions. Hunger is one the most powerful urges that we experience. Thus, when a person purposefully denies something to their own self that it craves, they are elevating their mind above their body, and their reason and will above their carnal passions.
  5. With the clarity of mind and absence of distractions also comes a greater focus. In the month of Ramadan, many Muslims try to avoid watching TV, listening to music, and some other leisure activities, which spares them more time and energy to be spent on more productive activities such as academics, intense study of Islam, voluntary prayers, social and humanitarian causes, and a quality time with the family, to name a few. It is a reminder of our duty to God, our purpose and higher values in life.
  6. It makes us realize the reality of life and death. Fasting makes us realize how dependant our lives are on things that we often take for granted, such as food and water. It makes us think about our dependence on God and God’s mercy and justice. Moreover, it reminds us of the life after death, which itself has a great impact on our character and our worldview.
  7. Ramadan is a blessed month for a special reason: it is actually the month in which God first revealed His final message and guidance for mankind to our beloved Prophet Muhammad. This message has been perfectly preserved both orally and textually in the form of a Book, called the Quran (The Reading/Recital). Therefore, Muslims try to do an intense study of the Quran in this month especially, and evaluate their lives according to the standards and guidance contained in it.
In a nutshell, even though the real purpose of the dynamic institution of fasting is to discipline our soul and moral behavior, and to develop sympathy for the less fortunate, it is a multi-functional and a comprehensive tool of change in various spheres of our lives including social and economic, intellectual and humanitarian, spiritual and physical, private and public, personal and common, inner and outer –  all in one!
Compiled From:
"The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Change!" - Taha Ghayyur & Taha Ghaznavi

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) hated to let his Companions nurture a pointless feeling of guilt. He kept telling them that they must never stop conversing with the One, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful, who welcomes everyone in His grace and benevolence and who loves the sincerity of hearts that regret their misdeeds and return to Him. This is the profound meaning of at-tawbah, offered to everyone: sincerely returning to God after a slip, a mistake, a sin. God loves that sincere return to Him and He forgives and purifies. The Prophet himself exemplified that in many circumstances. On one occasion a Bedouin came and urinated in the mosque; the Companions rushed on him and wanted to beat him up. The Prophet stopped them and said, "Leave him alone, and just throw a bucketful of water on his urine. God has only sent you to make obligations easy, and not to make them difficult." [Bukhari]
Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, p.  113

Cool Tips!
Ramadan Family Time
“Ramadan is family time,” one Muslim mother said recently in discussion about plans for the upcoming blessed month. She described how her busy household was usually scattered in different places throughout the year, with school and extracurricular activities taking precedence. But in Ramadan, everyone gathered to at least eat Iftar together.
While this may be true for some families, it is not for all. For many, there are scheduling conflicts. But hours on the job can be readjusted, classes can be rescheduled, and other activities can take a back seat.
If even this is not possible, you can still make time, as impossible as that may seem. If you and your family can commit to a daily Ramadan ritual of 20 minutes or less, it will go far in strengthening not just personal faith, but family bonds as well. Here are some ideas that offer ways to do that.
1. Family bedtime story
Set the timer to 10 minutes. Everyone gather in the same room in their pajamas. Take turns sharing or reading short Islamic stories. Suggestions for Islamic include "Treasury of Islamic Tales," "Companions of the Prophet," "Stories from Islamic History," among others. If the story is long, read only 10 minutes of it. Continue the following day. Be, and encourage all readers to be, as dramatic as possible in his or her presentation to retain audience interest.
2. Pray one prayer together at home
Most prayers easily take 20 minutes or less, in fact 10 minutes or less if you are praying only the required Rakat. Choose which prayer can be offered together and encourage all to participate.
3. Eat Suhur or Iftar together
Some of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "We eat but are not satisfied." He said, "Perhaps you eat separately." The Companions replied yes. The Prophet then said, "Eat together and mention the Name of Allah over your food. It will be blessed for you” (Abu Dawud).
Eating together is about so much more than food, as this Hadith makes clear. It is about satisfaction not just of our physical appetites, but our spiritual and emotional need for companionship as well. And who better to build that companionship with than our families?
4. 10-minute Ramadan craft
Arts and crafts can be fun and therapeutic. But you don’t need hours in front of an easel to enjoy them. Google “fast and easy crafts” to come up with some great ideas that you can adopt and adapt for Ramadan. Make sure older kids in the house also participate. Also, have all of the materials and preparations done beforehand so the actual craft work really does take 10 minutes or less.
5. Daily dua ritual
This can be done right after the family has prayed together, or if that is not possible, at any other point in the day that everyone is in the same place, be it the home or the car. Begin by praising Allah, and then the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. After this, each person takes turns making one Dua. It could be for better health for a family member, a pet, or a gift wish for Eid. Make sure to set a timer and to remind participants to keep their duas short and meaningful so that everyone gets a chance to share.