Small mercies: istighfaar

A good friend recently told me about the benefits of istighfar and how life changing it has been for her. She shared a simple anecdote about how she was running late for her inter city train, increased in istighfar and by the grace of God the train was delayed by a short period- enough time for her to reach the station and jump on.

Today I experienced something similar. While running late for a meeting and each taxi that passed by wouldn’t stop, my friend’s story came to mind and inspired us to do some istighfar. Within seconds, a taxi with one passenger drove past and picked us up. When we were in the taxi, unbeknown to them about the context, the driver and passenger shared how they were on the way to another part of town, and somehow ended up on our road. The driver spoke of his amazement at having planned one particular direction and then another plan took hold. The passenger then asked the driver to stop us off first despite him being in the car first – he didn’t know that we were running horrendously late!

When we open our hearts to these possibilities, His mercies, big and small truly manifest. Alhamdulilah


Iftar kitchen with Moroccan Youth UK

One person who has been breaking his fast with Moroccan Youth UK since the beginning of Ramadan is this wonderful man below. Every evening he leaves by praying that God rewards all those who have supported the Iftar kitchen and hopes that they find their reward on the day when it matters most. This project has only been made possible due to people’s support and care for one another. I have seen countless people donate their money, food, time and effort towards the service of others. Young people have volunteered every single night of this month to prepare and serve food, choosing to celebrate wonderful occasions like passing their A-levels volunteering than at home with friends and family. Women sit for 5 hours cooking food for the night- hunched over bowls of soup and kneading dough. Young children put chairs away and clean for up to 2 hours after iftar to get the centre ready for the next day. People knock on the door and leave behind food.

There is a Hadith whereby the Prophet’s wife Aisha once gave items to charity and she told the Prophet she gave away everything but left one date for their household. At this point the Prophet corrected her, saying that in actual fact she had kept everything, and only gave away the one date. The meaning behind this is that all your good work, your charity, your service towards others- it matters. It matters both in helping those in need in this life and it matters in helping you in the hereafter.

Thank you all for your support.

To find out more about the charity, visit http://www.moroccan-youth.co.uk

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Ramadan note to share with friends and colleagues

*Please amend as you see fit* 

Hello ‘XX‘: ),

I thought it might be nice to share a personal perspective about the month of Ramadan, a month of fasting that I always participate in.

This month (based on the lunar calendar) represents an opportunity for many Muslims, who observe the fast to pause, reflect and focus on their devotion and service to God.

Practicing Muslims will be fasting every day from dawn to sunset. This is a strict fast during the day- so no food or drink. Muslims will begin their fast, rising early in the morning to take a meal (called suhoor) before the dawn and first prayer of the day and will break their fast (called Iftar) as soon as the sun sets.

Fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink, Ramadan encourages one to go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge the self of negative thoughts and motivations- anger, cursing, greed, gossiping, complaining etc. Fasting is an exercise of focus and self-restraint as well as humility and one is encouraged to reach out to family and friends, seeking to also mend any broken relationships.

It is important to note, that while Ramadan is an important tenant of the Islamic faith- there are categories of people who are excused from partaking in the physical act of fasting; for instance, the young, old, pregnant and nursing mothers and those who are unwell.

The act of fasting in Islam is a continuation of the traditions found in the other two Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Christianity. At face value, it is an external act, but in reality its purpose is primarily to influence and affect the internal through a fast of the soul. By fasting, I aim to achieve ‘consciousness’; that is to say that I try to be mindful and grateful for all that I have been given by God.

Another important aspect of Ramadan is the awareness that fasting brings to us of other’s suffering and the compassion we can cultivate from that awareness. I often take food and water for granted and feeling the absence of those things during a fast makes me more aware of those who do not have enough food, clean water to drink or shelter overhead. As a result there is an emphasis of charity and community service throughout the month that should try and be maintained for the rest of the year. One of Ramadan’s ‘nick names’ is the month of charity.

The whole point of Ramadan is to be changed – for good. The emphasis is always on reflection, gratitude, prayer, charity and company with loved ones. Similar to New Year resolutions, Ramadan is a time for renewal, of rededication of yourself to live a good life and to try and continue from lessons learnt post-Ramadan.

The end of Ramadan is marked by the celebration Eid ul Fitr in which Muslims celebrate with family and friends the completion of the fast. In the days leading up to the end of Ramadan, each Muslim must pay Zakat ul Fitr; this is a small amount of charity that goes towards people living in poverty.

I have brought in some dates (food that Muslims traditionally tend to break their fast with) to share in the spirit of giving and sharing of the month, please do help yourself : )