Keeping the Ramadaan Momentum

Keeping the Ramadaan Momentum

It’s so strange. The moment we see the new crescent moon and hear the Eid Takbeer, we can feel the absence of Ramadaan.  In Ramadaan it just feels easier to do good deeds and pray more often – whether it is the promise of multiplied rewards, the hope of being of those who are forgiven or  the collective community encouragement and spirit – there is no short of motivation to put in extra efforts during this month.

We know from Surah Baqarah Ayah 192, that Allah ta’ala prescribed fasting for us so that we may become of those who attain Taqwa. In Ramadaan Taqwa feels like an achievable possibility – we are so much more aware of the Presence of our Creator, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.  Many of us feel a spiritual low after the Eid rush, trying to find our feet and re-establish our “normal routine”. Here are 10 easy ideas to keep the “Ramadaan Feeling”, to help us be of the people of Taqwa, Bi IthniLlah (By the Will of Allah ta’ala)

  1. Read the Quran: Surah Baqarah, Ayah 2 may be translated as: “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, guidance for those conscious of Allah (People of Taqwa). ” Set aside some time every day to read at least 1 page of the Quran. Shaykh Muhammad al Ninowy recently said: “Read the Qur’an with the intention of healing”. I like to think, a page a day will keep the doctor away J
  2. Fast : It is widely known that it is sunnah to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Having just come out of Ramadaan, with our days still short, it is an excellent time to establish this sunnah as a practice within our homes. Fasting in Shawaal comes with extra barakah and blessings – don’t miss this opportunity! The awareness of being in a state of fasting helps to increase our awareness of our Creator, Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala.
  3. Pray Tahajjud: Make an effort to pray Tahajjud at least one night a week (late night prayers).  The best time for Tahajjud prayers is the last third of the night, based on the hadith narrated by Abu Huraira Radiallahu ta’ala an, where he says the Messenger of Allah, sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wasalam said: Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”[Bukhari]
  4. Recite Salawaat: The quickest, easiest way to establish a connection with RasulAllah sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam is to send salutations on him. Surah Al Ahzab, Ayah 56 may be translated as: “Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” Get those tasbeehs out… Allahuma Salli Ala Sayyiduna Muhammad Wa Alihi….
  5. Be generous: In Ramadaan there is a spirit of giving. Surah Al Imran, Ayah 92, may be translated as, “You will never attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. And whatever you spend, indeed Allah is Knowing of it”. True generosity is giving before being asked. Be generous with your wealth, your belongings and possessions, and your time and skills. Give, share, love and serve for the sake of Allah ta’ala – and see how the barakah, blessings and goodness in your life increases.
  6. Be good to our neighbours: Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, “I heard the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam) say, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.'”(Sahih; Al Adab Al Mufrad). Don’t let sending food and treats to our neighbours only happen in Ramadaan. Sharing is caring and giving is living!
  7. Visit the masjid: Make a point of praying in congregation and attending mosque events and gatherings. The Masjid is an ideal place to make friends, clear your mind, and connect with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Alhamdulilah, in Cape Town we’re very lucky, most of our masajid welcome women – let’s make the most of it!
  8. Encourage children: In Ramadaan, kids are encouraged to dress modestly, pray, fast, attend the masjid, be involved in charity, donate of their pocket money and visit neighbours. These are excellent character-building activities that should not just be reserved for Ramadaan. Try and develop these habits in children throughout the year.
  9. Make dua: Sometimes we get so caught up, we simply forget to make dua, or we’re so rushed, we just think “Allah Knows what is in my heart”. That is true – He is All Knowing. But despite Him Knowing what we want, and what is best for us, He gave us this gift of dua. Dua is an opportunity to talk to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.  It is an opportunity to develop a connection with Him, a relationship with Him. It is a chance to express our love for Him. He is All Hearing. The sweetness of sincere dua is a feeling unmatched.
  10. Never lose hope in Allah ta’ala: We will make mistakes, and we will slip up – the important thing is to get back up and try again. We have to have sincere intentions, put in the effort, and do our very best, Allah ta’ala is the Most Merciful, and the Oft-Forgiving.

In Surah Baqarah, ayah 177 Allah ta’ala explains Taqwa : “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveller, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfil their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the Mutaqun (People of Taqwa)”.

May Allah ta’ala make us people of Taqwa, who love Him and His Messenger Sallahu alayhi wa alihi wasalam, and may He grant us Tawfiq (success) in all our efforts to attain closeness to Him, subhanahu wa ta’ala, Ameen


Saleemah Jaffer

Published in Modest Muse, June/July 2016



The Book of Love: shining brightly

This is based on a talk given at the official launch of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Ninowy’s book, The Book of Love, at the Academia Library.

WHEN we pick up a copy of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Yahya al-Ninowy’s latest book, The Book of Love, we expect it to be a serious tome, with seriously weighty content. Serious the book is, indeed, but when the first page opens, we see a sentence resting upon a page.

At first glance, it defies the senses. We expect books to be full of words, chapters, meandering paragraphs and lush descriptions. Instead, we are confronted by little bunches of words, like cherries tantalisingly placed in a bowl.

And then we read, and then we realise that the The Book of Love has a few words, but actually says a lot more – a lot. In fact, as one dives deeper and deeper into its pages, and its meanings, it becomes a big ocean – or as a Sufi Shaykh always used to say – a Mercy Ocean.

Shaykh Ninowy, a scholar of classical training and tradition, has skillfully and strategically placed a series of aphorisms, or sayings and quotes, over 322 pages. A summary of his thoughts on a number of issues over the years, it has no particular order, but still creates a coherent whole.

Normally when I buy a book, I get excited. I’m old fashioned. I hate the distant, digital feel of tablets. I like to look at a book’s texture, design, paper and even smell. For me, a book is still a tactile experience. As a hard cover on high quality paper, the The Book of Love feels just right. As a bibliophile, I also have a strange habit – I sometimes read a book backwards, or randomly open it at any page.

So it should come as no surprise that the first page I opened in The Book of Love was page 122, and not page one. I came across aphorism #57: “Islam is a religion that came to give life, not to take it away”. I glanced across to #58: “It is never about fatwa, but about taqwa…”

Interestingly, both were things I had actually heard Shaykh Ninowy saying. They have always struck me, because so few have been able to bring the inherent poetry of classical Arabic into their English as Shaykh Ninowy – who hails form a scholarly family from Aleppo – has.

Paging forwards, this time, I stopped at #73: “This Din of ours is a Din of love – no love, no Din. The Beloved sent his Beloved out of love, with love, for the sake of love”.

This Rumi-esque statement enjoys resonance in this world of sectarian hatred, and speaks to the spirit of Shari’ah, which aphorism #81 certainly does: “Love is a moral law…it connects you to the soul of the universe, gives wings to the heart, unlimited skies to the mind, and life to life itself…”

Undeniably, the aphorisms are a tapestry woven together with experiential wisdom. We catch a whiff of Qur’an here, Hadith there…with Shaykh Ninowy holding the needle and thread. The Book of Love is a companion, a very accessible and readable companion – but it’s also framed as a classical text, the hub of a multi-layered commentary that will be filled out by sharh, or explanation.

Each aphorism in this book, therefore, is a door to another – as one travels from room to perfumed room. It is a refuge for the soul, and an escape from the undesirable human urges that drive us.

But more importantly, The Book of Love is a book of wasatiyyah, the celebrated Qur’anic middle way. However, wasatiyyah, or moderation in all things, is not a capitulation, or a watering down, of the core values of belief.

Wasatiyyah is totally, uncompromisingly, absolutely, about love. Wasatiyyah is love, and love is wasatiyyah. It is truly, unselfishly, loving for others what you love for yourself. This is a key to the Nur ul-Muhammadiyyah, the Prophetic light – a light of love and knowledge that awaits every soul on this earth.

The Book of Love is an extraordinary book written for extraordinary times – an era where confusion is the King, ignorance the Queen and Mr Nafs the treasurer. The Book of Love shines a light that shrinks the contemporary darkness. It is a book for everybody, and a mercy to all.

The Book of Love  published by the Madina Institute, 2018.


By Shafiq Morton; Published in the Muslim Views, August 2018