Study Tips for Ramadan

Thameenah Abrahams is an English graduate from the University of Cape Town. She is currently a Usul ad-Din student at Madina Institute.

Study Tips for Ramadan

Out of all the months of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is the most anticipated month for most Muslims. It’s a time where blessings and rewards are multiplied, mosques come alive at night, and families unite. However, with this blessed month, not everyone has the luxury to remove themselves from their busy schedules. Even students are not exempt from writing exams.


Our busy schedule should not dampen our zest for not being able to make the most of the Holy month. Instead, we should use it as a challenge to be more conscious of God. Constant remembrance of Him will decrease the temptation of sin. Similar to studying, when we study, we start our task of studying with the name of God, and we follow it with the salwāt on our Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)


In addition, we also need to make sure we are doing justice to our bodies during the month of fasting. When studying, we use an extensive amount of our energy on mental activities. However, being in a state of hunger is also advantageous. In the Ihya of Imam Ghazali, he lists ten benefits of hunger and one of those benefits is the ‘sharpening of one’s insight.’ Overconsumption of food and drink makes the mind dull-witted whereas depriving your body of food opens up the pathways of the mind.


The food we consume affects our spiritual being, as well as the physical. We need to eat food that is ‘halal and tayyib’ (pure and good) and refrain from unhealthy foods or take out. Food from a pure source will nourish the physical body and will enable you with more energy to take on more acts of worship and provide ease with studying.


If we want to maximise the month of Ramadan, we also need to prioritise our time. An effective method would be to create a time management system. Ideally, preparing ahead for the month of Ramadan should take place at least two months prior, in Rajab and Sha’ban. The most important part is to know what your objectives are and work towards it.


Ramadan is a month filled with limitless blessings and worship is not restricted to the four walls of the masjid.



Thameenah Abrahams

The Benefits and Virtue of Prayer

Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi, 27, is from Germany with Moroccan origin. She is enrolled in the Madina Institute Bachelor of Arts in Usul Al Din Program, together with her husband. They came to Cape Town in order to learn and study at Madina Institute, with the intention of transmitting Islamic knowledge in Germany.

The Benefits and Virtue of Prayer

The month of Ramadan is the month when Allah, Creator of all the worlds, revealed the last message to the Seal of all Prophets through the Angel Jibriel. A message that as Muslims accept as the basis of our way of life, our way of acting and our way of thinking; we align our existence with. The entire month of Ramadan can be viewed as a reminder and serve as an opportunity to renew this connection. But how do you internalize the message of the Quran? Through prayer, by not only reciting the Quran, but by reading and internalizing it, in the presence of the One.


Prayer plays a special role within the acts of worship. For this reason, when we say Allahu Akbar we bid farewell to our worldly worries and enter into the presence of Allah. This means that we do not only remember our Creator but enter into a direct conversation with Him in which He answers us when we praise Him. When we testify that we serve Allah alone, Allah answers “this is between Me and My servant and My servant shall receive what he asks for” (Sahih Muslim).


Allah has prescribed prayer for us and every form of worship has a purpose in it and the act itself is not an end in itself. The movements in prayer, the ritual purification before prayer, the recitation and the remembrance in prayer all these parts that make up prayer are attributed to a single goal: God-consciousness. Therefore, Allah describes those who attain God-consciousness in their prayers as successful (23:1-2).


So the advantages of prayer are not only in prayer itself but also in the process of the prayer. A believer who consciously worships Allah five times a day will try to keep away from sins whether they be small or large, conscious or unconscious. The awareness of the omnipotence of Allah ultimately leads to the believer improving his character and restraining his self from evil. This is already a success in this world and the success in the hereafter is much greater. The Prophet said: “The first thing for which the slave will be held accountable for on the day of Resurrection is his prayer; if it is good (by performing it properly and on time), then all his affairs will be good, and if it is ruined (by neglecting it), then all his affairs will be ruined.” [At-Tabaraani].



Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi

A Sister’s Struggle: Maintaining the Feeling of Ramadan during Menstruation

Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi, 27, is from Germany with Moroccan origin. She is enrolled in the Madina Institute Bachelor of Arts in Usul Al Din Program, together with her husband. They came to Cape Town in order to learn and study at Madina Institute, with the intention of transmitting Islamic knowledge in Germany.


A Sister’s Struggle: Maintaining the Feeling of Ramadan during Menstruation


Muslim women sometimes feel that their menstruation can set them back in Ramadan; they feel excluded from the Ibadat that brings a believer closer to Allah. Fasting is no longer an obligation, like the prayer. Moreover, not being able to participate in the uplifting prayers of tarawih at night is difficult for many. But do we believe that menstruation is a disadvantage? This mindset is not what Allah ascribed to the noblest of His creatures. Allah says He created the human being and thus also the woman “in the best of stature“ (95:4) and this also includes the physical functions of the body.


The Origin of Life

A woman’s menstruation is the origin of the offspring. Therefore, it is a form of  sustenance (rizq). If we assume this, then staying away from the Ibadat is an act of devotion to God in itself. Allah has given us relief in a phase that is physically challenging. In fact, staying away from Ibadat enables a new start when one returns to it after the period. With this knowledge, Muslim women would find it easier to devote herself to other Ibadat. So how can we keep close to Allah during our period? At the times of prayer, we can retreat and remember Allah.



Keep up the Connection

The best way to keep up the connection is to make Istighfar; meaning to ask Allah for forgiveness often. Especially since we know that Ramadan is the month of forgiveness. We can use the time that we do not spend in prayer to take ourselves into account. From this, we have to become more aware of our mistakes and ask God for forgiveness. To make Istighfar is a Sunnah of the prophets and women can follow this practice during their menses.

The Prophet used to say: “My Rabb! Forgive me and pardon me. Indeed, You are the Oft-Returning with compassion and Ever Merciful” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi).

Many women feel physically weakened and vulnerable during their periods. This is the right time for Du´a. Because in those moments of weakness it is especially important to ask Allah for strength and patience. Du´a is so important in Islam that the Prophet – peace and blessing on Him – said “Dua is The essence of worship” (Musnad Ahmad Tirmidhi).


Service as Ibadat 

Worship is not limited to remembrance. With the right Niyyah, our deeds throughout the day can be considered a service; cleaning up, looking after children, taking care of parents and brothers and sisters, shopping and cooking. We also receive the reward for their fasting through the cooking and eating of the fasting family members alone.


The possibilities are infinite because the month of Ramadan is for the believer no matter what condition we find ourselves in. We owe only the effort, the success comes from Allah.


Hafssa El-Bouhamouchi

Preparation for Ramadan

Zochara Peters, 49, is currently a student at Madina Institute studying the one year Usul al Din course. She is married and has a 14 year old daughter. She enjoys baking, cooking and hiking in her free time. She loves to help people, and is an active member of a community soup kitchen.


Preparation for Ramadan

Ramadan is a once a year occurrence on the Islamic calendar. It is reported on the authority of Umar (Radiallahu ta’ala an) when the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Alihi Wa Salaam) was asked about Islam, he clearly indicated that “to fast in the month of Ramadan” is one of its principles. In chapter 2 verse 185 in the holy Quran it states* “Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed to man and clear proof of the guidance and criterion. So when you witness the month, let him fast it…..”.

There are numerous verses in the holy Quran and many sayings of the Prophet (Sallalahu Alayhi Wa Alihi Wa Salaam) that refers to Ramadan. This is a clear indication of the importance of this month. When we want to know if something is important then we ask questions. One particular question comes to mind, “how do I prepare for Ramadan?”.

There are many things that a person can work on in order to prepare for Ramadan. I believe that Fasting is not only the abstaining from food, drinking and sex from sunrise to sunset – but rather it’s much more. Let us look at a few examples. My sentiments is that we need to fast with our eyes, meaning we don’t look at Haraam. Also with our mouths, we don’t indulge in vain talk. We fast with our ears, we don’t listen to gossip. Fasting must also be done with our hands, do not take what’s not yours, similarly, the feet must be used to go to good places and not to Haraam places that keep one away from the remembrance of our Creator. In fact, we must fast with our whole being, body and soul

I think the inclination to do good is definitely on the cards. So the question would be “what good” do I do? The Revelation of Quran is synonymous with the month of Ramadan. The only difference is that Ramadan is one month of the year but the holy Quran is for every moment of our lives. So there is the answer. My preparation for Ramadan should revolve around the study of the holy Quran. Not only in Ramadan but the whole year through.

The holy Quran is in a book form but it is the speech of our Creator. This book was not send to be read or recited only but more for us to read, reflect on the verses, to study the meanings to get an understanding in order for us to implement the laws of Allah ta’ala in our daily lives.

Ramadan Mubarak.

By Zochara Peters

*The Qur’an is Arabic, and the English translation is a possible meaning 

The virtues and mercies of the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan

Sharfaa Mustapha, 17, is currently doing the one year Usul al Din course at Madina Institute. She is an animal lover, and is very adventurous. She loves the outdoors  and enjoys reading and knitting in my free time. She is passionate about community empowerment and embracing new challenges.

The virtues and mercies of the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan

Ramadan is a blessed month for Muslims all over the world in which they increase in Ibaadah and good acts of worship in the hope that Allah ta’ala will forgive them their sins and free them from the fire of Jahannam.

The last ten days of this beautiful month is very special and is associated with freedom from the fire of Jahannam. Muslims spend these nights engaging in increased thikr, dua, istighfaar,and recitation of the holy Quran. They have a strong desire of attaining closeness to their Creator, while not only abstaining from food, drink and sexual interaction, but undergoing spiritual cleansing as well.

It is an opportunity for the erasing of previous sins and of creating good habits that can be practiced outside of the month of Ramadan as well.

There are many small changes we can make to the good things we do to ensure multiplied blessings. We can encourage our friends to accompany us to the mosque to pray solaah and taraweeg, we can make a bit extra food and feed our neighbors to ensure everyone has something to break their fast with, we can spend time with orphans and the elderly… the options are limitless.

Muslims also search for the night of Qadr (power) in the last ten days as the holy Quran was revealed to the beloved Nabi Muhammad (Sallahu alayhi wa alhi wa sallam) on this very night as a guidance for mankind. It is said to be a night greater than 1 000 months and anything we do on this night will have maximized rewards. When Rasullulah (Sallahu alayhi wa alhi wa sallam) was asked what prayer to recite during Laylatul Qadr he replied, “Say: O Allah, You are forgiving and You love to forgive, so forgive me.”

May Allah ta’ala grant us to reach Ramadan and gain the benefits thereof inshallah.

By Sharfaa Mustapha

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