Green Muslims Tips for 08/13/2012

This year the MSA began its partnership with Green Muslims, a national organization that provides support for organizations like ours in committing ourselves to the Islamic ideal of environmental stewardship. What follows is a set of tips provided by Green Muslims on how to go green this Ramadan. Try to apply these for the coming week and observe what a difference small steps can make.

For it is He who has brought into being
gardens-[both] the cultivated ones and those
growing wild -and the date-palm, and fields
bearing multiform produce, and the olive
tree, and the pomegranate: [all] resembling
one another and yet so different! Eat of their
fruit when it comes to fruition, and give
[unto the poor] their due on harvest day. And
do not waste [God's bounties]: verily, He
does not love the wasteful!”
-Quran 6:142
***

Challenge Yourself: Don’t waste a single
morsel of food this week. Anything you
cannot eat, compost. Don’t allow any of
your leftovers go to waste. Consider inviting
friends over for a “leftar” where you eat only
leftovers for iftar.

Reflect: Being mindful of food waste helps
us to be more in tune with the focus of
Ramadan. Think of those less fortunate, and
how what you throw away, could be feeding
others.

-As we enter the final week of this blessed month, we should pay special attention to this advice. College students in particular stand to benefit from the ability to stretch food.

“And you see the mountains and
think them solid but they are
fleeting like clouds – the creation of
God who has well completed the
creation of everything.
-Quran 27:88
***
Challenge Yourself: If you don’t
already, make a commitment to
recycle. See how many things that
you throw away, could be re-used.
Just as the ayat says, the most solid
things are fleeting. Our most basic
energy sources are drying up and
we are left to consider how
wasteful we really are.
Reflect: Allah created us as the
caretakers of this Earth. What are
you personally doing to fulfill this
trust?

-Thankfully, Ann Arbor and the University have taken major steps towards making recycling easy. What can you do to make sure that recycling is easy at home?

“None of you truly believes until he
wishes for his brother what he
wishes for himself.”
-Hadith
***
Challenge Yourself: Start a new
tradition of planning your Eid
celebrations to include a service
project. Incorporate service,
volunteerism, and community
support in your annual tradition.
Reflect: Find ways to connect more
with the idea behind Zakat-ul-Fitr.
Servicing and supporting our
closest community in need should
be more than dropping a few
dollars in a box at the Eid prayer.
What are ways you connect with
your Zakat?

-Especially during Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to act in ways that improve the lives of their brothers and sisters in humanity. Find a project you believe will have a positive impact, then do your best to make sure it becomes a success.

“…and Allah is the best of Planners”
-Quran 3:54
***
Challenge Yourself: Bad planning and
disorganization often lead to multiple
trips, impulse buying, and wasted
energy. Make a to-do list. Plan your
week so that you can run all your
errands on the same day. Organize
your time and define your actual
needs before setting out for the day.
Reflect: Setting aside time to think
about your plans helps you reflect on
the actuality of what you do in any
given day. What are your patterns?
Are you happy with what is on your
to-do list?

-Islamic philosophies can guide us to a heightened mindfulness of our resources. Too often, though, we forget about time, one of the most precious resources we’ve been given.

“Do not turn your knowledge into
ignorance or your conviction into
doubt. When you gain knowledge,
act upon it and when you acquire
conviction, proceed.”
-Nahjul Balagha
***
Challenge Yourself: Going forward,
try to continue the more
environmentally friendly habits
you have started this Ramadan.
Take the knowledge you have
gained and turn it into conviction.
Reflect on this past month during
these last few days and plan out a
path going forward. What habits
have had a true impact on you?
What changes have you made to
your spirit, your community, your
practice?

-Actions are hollow without the proper intentions behind them, and a good set of beliefs can help us align our intentions with where we want them to be. Spend some time reflecting and sort through the advice you’ve picked up lately. What gems are worth following, and what will lead you astray? When you’re satisfied with your results, internalize them and let them guide your intentions.

To get in touch with the MSA’s Green Muslims Initiative staff, email greenmuslims@umich.edu.

Photos of Ramadan Campus Iftars

Thanks to everyone who came out to the MSA iftars over the summer, and a big thank you to all volunteers who helped out in anyway. Check out pictures of all three campus iftars below. Warning: you may feel a warm fuzzy sensation while viewing these photos due to the abundance of bro/sister-hood compassion.

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View more here

Green Muslims Tips for 08/06/2012

This year the MSA began its partnership with Green Muslims, a national organization that provides support for organizations like ours in committing ourselves to the Islamic ideal of environmental stewardship. What follows is a set of tips provided by Green Muslims on how to go green this Ramadan. Try to apply these for the coming week and observe what a difference small steps can make.

“One of the arts of appreciating
nature is developing our knowledge of
the names and characteristics of
things; the other, companion art, is
knowing how to keep quiet and pay
attention, both within and without.”
–The Book of Nature
***
Challenge yourself: Spend a day
out of doors, in nature. Leave your
phone at home. Listen to the
rhythm of the Earth. Pay attention
to the sounds of the forest, the
waterfront, the field, the hillside.
Do you know the names of the
flora and fauna around you? Make
a goal to look up and learn the
name of a flower, tree, or plant.
Reflect within. Notice the patterns
of the day. Are you comfortable
with quiet? Are you able to sit still?

-An undertaking like the Green Muslims Initiative is far less meaningful without reflection. Spend some time unplugged at a nature park, and make it a point to think of the beauty of God’s creations.

“Have they, then never considered
the earth – how much of every noble
kind (of life) We have caused to grow
upon it?”
- Quran, 26:7
***
A step forward or back tracking?
Ramadan should be a time of
instilling good habits, both spiritually
and literally, in your daily practice.
Challenge Yourself: At every iftar
this week, BYOD – Bring your own
dishes, instead of adding to the
landfill, start a sustainable trend in
your community!
Reflect on your Ramadan Footprint.
How much leftover food do you
waste? How many Styrofoam cups
of chai do you idly toss in the trash?
Calculate your carbon footprint at:

http://www.conservation.org

-This one is especially relevant considering the MSA’s upcoming BYOPlate Iftar at the Rackham building.

“Don’t you see how God has
created the seven heavens in
harmony and made the moon a
light in their midst and made the
sun a glorious lamp?”
-Quran 71:15-16
***
Reflect on the sunnah of rising at
Fajr and sleeping right after Isha
and the effects of this practice on
our energy consumption.
Challenge Yourself: Take
advantage of the long, bright days,
and keep your electricity and
energy usage to a minimum. See
how long you can go without
turning on a light before Maghrib
prayer.

-Here’s a fun and rewarding challenge that’s worth some effort. Try to cut back on electricity usage. Another tip: before you leave the house/apartment, remember to adjust your thermostat’s settings. Your wallet will thank you.

“It is He who sends down water from the
skies, and brings out of it everything that
grows, the green foliage, the grain lying
close, the date palm trees with clusters of
dates, and the gardens of grapes, and of
olives and pomegranates, so similar yet so
unlike. Look at the fruits, how they appear
on the trees, and they ripen. In all these are
signs for those who believe.”
-Quran 6:99
***
Challenge Yourself: The consumption of
meat in the US is at an all-time high and the
environmental ramifications are
devastating. Acres of rainforests have been
destroyed to feed these habits, to name
only one effect. Try extending your fast, and
avoiding meat during your iftar this week.
Reflect: Just as you reflect on how you feel
while fasting all day, reflect on how you feel
without meat in your diet.

-Cows and other ruminants produce methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, as a by-product of their digestive processes; combined, they account for about a third of America’s agricultural emissions. Consider changing your diet around to lower your personal impact.

“In the name of Allah and there is no
power save with Allah. Praise be to Allah
who made this means of transport
subservient to us, what we (by ourselves)
could never have accomplished.”
-Travel Dua
***
Challenge Yourself: Set up a Jumuah or
Tarawih car-pool for the week. Make sure
no fewer than 4 people are riding with
you as you make your way towards these
forms of worship.
Reflect: What is your daily energy use,
when it comes to transportation? If you
drive, could you share the ride? If you
share the ride, could you bike? What’s
one habit you could change that would
take you a step closer to a more
sustainable method of transportation?

-On campus, MSA-ers have plenty of resources to help us move from place to place without leaving a large footprint. Back home, though, options like regular buses can be hard to come by. Make the extra effort to travel by car only when necessary, and to consolidate your trips.

Green Muslims Presents: BYOP Iftar

Assalamu Alaikum,

“O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters.” - 

- (Quran 31:5)

Please join us for the last MSA iftar of the summer this Thursday at 8:40pm in Rackham. There will be deliciously catered free food as usual, but here’s the catch- your ticket to this iftar is the plate you bring!
 
As you may know, Green Muslims was just launched as a long-term, comprehensive MSA project. In an effort to steadily build our way to becoming a more ethical and environmentally conscious community, we hope to start right away by taking small steps to reduce our waste. At this iftar, please bring a reusable plate with you and we’ll provide biodegradable cups and utensils. In addition, we’ll have recycling bins, composts bins and tupperware so that nothing goes to waste.
 
Asking you to bring your own plate to a campus event might sound absurd, but what’s really absurd is that Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, plates, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. Unlike most other kinds of paper materials, paper plates that are contaminated with food residue aren’t usually recyclable and often end up in landfills. Currently, plastic accounts for approximately 10-12% of all generated waste, most of which is landfilled. Simply dumping plastics in landfills does not solve the problem- the chemicals in these plastic materials often sink into nearby land and contaminate our ground water, making it toxic and hazardous to the ground water community’s biodiversity. 
 

In a groundbreaking report called “Plastics, the environment and human health,” by the scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Science, the lead editor of the report, Richard Thompson, concluded that plastics, if used wisely, “have the potential to reduce mankind’s footprint on the Earth.”

In the long run, we hope to always hold zero-trash events so that doing so becomes intuitive, but it takes practice and learning to get there. We can start with small steps now so that we can reach this goal in the near future, inshaAllah. So please do your part and bring a plate to this iftar! And don’t worry- we’ll be happy to wash them for you after dinner so that you can take it home clean! If you feel like any of these ideas could work in your own community or at your hometown mosque, feel free to take it there, too!

Go Blue. Live Green.

The Green Muslims Team

Have any tips for cutting down during Ramadan? Feel free to share them by adding your comments below!

Ramadan Reflection: “Being There”

The following is a submission by an anonymous community member.

Last week I was reading the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) when my younger brother interrupted to talk with me.

Engrossed in the inspiring story of the early life of the Rasul (peace and blessings be upon him), I responded to him with one-worded answers, mhms and nods. He tried to talk to me again—I don’t even recall now about what—maybe it was about the Olympics or what we would have for suhoor in a few hours or when he should sign up to take his SATs.

I brushed him aside and tried to maintain my focus to the book in my hands. Eventually he took the hint and left, without me really realizing it.

A few days later, I am sitting here continuing to read the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and have run into an invaluable lesson. I just came across the story of when in the early days following Revelation, and shortly after the young Muslim community began to publicly profess their faith, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was working tirelessly to watch over the community’s safety and best interests. I reflected on what a huge burden that must have felt like—knowing that even as the number of people taking Shahada was growing steadily, so was the fierceness of their rejection, suffering and persecution from society, and that people looked to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as their leader and guiding light.

One day, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) decided to ask a powerful leader of the Makhzum tribe, Walid, to protect the small Muslim community. While the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went to build his case in front of the leader and gain his support, he was interrupted by an old, blind man who had already embraced Islam. The man stopped the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and asked him to recite some verses of the Qur’an for him to listen to. Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), on an important and urgent task, in trying to present his point before it was too late, brushed the man aside exasperatedly and attempted to continue to persuade the chief, but the leader shut him out and refused to even hear his request.

Soon after, God revealed Surat ‘Abasa.

“He (the Prophet) frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him. But what could you tell but that perhaps he might grow in purity? Or that he might receive admonition, and the reminder might profit him? As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient, you attend to him, though it is no blame to you if he does not grow in purity. But as to he who came to you striving earnestly, and with fear (in his heart), of him you were unmindful. By no means (should it be so). For it is indeed a message of remembrance. Therefore, let who will, keep it in remembrance.” – Qur’an 80:1-12

In these verses, Allah (SWT) taught Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and humanity to never turn away from a human being, regardless of whatever difficult circumstances one might be facing, and regardless of who the person is (e.g.,  someone not seemingly important or who does not bring you any benefit back).

The lesson serves as a reminder to us to never neglect or turn away from a human being, especially those who are seemingly in need and are clearly requesting your help. You should give them your sympathy and sincere attention, and do your best to serve them, even if all they need is someone to speak with.

Without doubt, Ramadan is a time for self-reflection and inward evaluation. But it is also a time to show mercy to all humans, not only in the sense of forgiveness, as we are often reminded to do, but also being merciful and kind in the sense of being tender hearted, compassionate, and available to others.

This Ramadan, without doubt, focus on rectifying your self, on nourishing your soul and soaking up spiritual goodness. God knows we all need to look inwards and care for our hearts. But this Ramadan, go out of your way to spread mercy and kindness as well. Do not feel like you must hide from people because you are so focused on healing yourself. Do not think that your spiritual boost comes at the expense of ditching others. Humans aren’t isolated creatures. We grow together; we are stronger together; we need each other.

Be merciful and welcoming to others, just as you hope that Allah (SWT) will shower you with mercy and receive you with open arms. This month, in your quest for consistent, heartfelt worship and spiritual enrichment, invite others to strive with you. Pray with others, make dhikr with others, and reflect with others.

This Ramadan, go out of your way to make an effort to be there for others. Open your homes for iftars, not just for your closest friends but also for people who could use some company. Don’t rush to the mosque without first checking if your neighbor or acquaintance needs a ride too. Spread salam and greet people you see at the mosque, old and new—especially the new. Check up on those who attend regularly who may have missed a few nights at  the mosque to see if they’re okay.

Go out of your way to be conscious of how people are feeling and doing. Healthy and happy communities aren’t based on how many rows are filled at the mosque or the monetary wealth of the community; healthy and happy communities are communities where people are there for one another and fulfill the needs of one another before even having to be approached or asked to do so. These communities are created by the individual bonds that we form; it is a bottom-up approach that begins with you and me.

This Ramadan, don’t ever think that you’re too busy to help someone—too hungry, too tired or too focused on praying or making dhikr that you reach a point where you feel as though others’ needs or problems aren’t worth your time (a phenomenon Sidi Usama Canon refers to as “spiritual bypassing”) or that what you’re doing is more important than someone else’s worry. Never think that the strengthening of your relationship with God and your service and help to people are mutually exclusive practices. When someone comes to you with a question or request, don’t brush them aside or think that it can wait until after Ramadan for you to respond, or for when you have time. You only have time. 

This Ramadan, be as selfless as possible. Be there for your brothers and sisters. Make them feel loved and welcomed as they deserve to be. Be present and accessible. Without doubt, you will be busy immersed in different acts of worship, but don’t ever forget that showing kindness, mercy and service to others is in itself a hefty kind of worship.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), had calmly turned someone away just once out of his immense love, devotion and concern for the community. Even then, God reminded him to not do so. Who are we, then, to turn away from others for matters that concern only us?

A Letter from the Chairs of Green Muslims

Assalamu Alaikum Fellow Muslim Wolverines,

Ramadan Mubarak! From the Green Muslims team (AKA the GM team) we hope you’ve all been enjoying your summer and Ramadan so far. If you haven’t already, you’ll probably soon be headed to a few big iftars this month with lots of food, people, foam cups, plastic plates, plastic spoons, plastic knives, plastic forks…oh my! Then every night at taraweeh prayers, you may be running into some amos and aunties practically taking a shower in the bathroom while making wudu.

This environmental negligence is a big problem in our communities, yet is one that is treated like a marginal issue when it comes to discussion and, more importantly, to action.

And like many other problems our community faces, the MSA is here to help! Brothers and sisters, ladies and gents, wasteful wudu-making aunties and uncles, we present to you: *Drumroll Please*

The Green Muslims Initiative!

Beginning this fall, the MSA at Michigan is making green living a priority, and we are taking steps to becoming a more environmentally friendly organization. The GM team is doing a lot of planning and brainstorming now so that when the school year comes around, we can hit the ground running and adopt measures to be more environmentally conscious at all of our events and activities. Yes, that also means there will be more recycling bins available in your Tower Plaza apartment and lots of great tips to live a more simple and sustainable life. You can even look forward to green socials, dinners, halaqas and more insha’Allah!

It’s time that we step up our game and accept a responsibility that Allah (SWT) has assigned to us. He has entrusted this conduct upon us, for “it is He who appointed you as khalifas (vicegerents) on this earth” [6:167]. “And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that there are Signs indeed for those who reflect” [45:13].

The GM team is super excited to engage our community in a wide variety of green activities and projects to help fulfill our obligations and responsibilities as conscious and active Muslims. Look out for some fun blog posts during Ramadan that will give you tips on how to start going green today!

We need your help and would love to hear from you! If you would like to get involved, please contact us at greenmuslims@umich.edu with any ideas, thoughts or questions.

Go Blue! Live Green!

Wasalams,

Green Muslims Chairs
Tesneem Alkiek & Mustafa Mohammed

Ramadan Posts: “Awaiting My Return”

As we experience the first days of the month of Ramadan, we welcome submissions from community members looking to showcase their creative works and their reflections. The following is one of our creative submissions, a poem by Aliza Hirani.

“awaiting my return”

waiting for my forehead to press against the smooth velvet like it once did five times

subhana rabbi al ala subhana rabbi al ala subhana rabbi al ala

hands firm on the ground not wanting to let go knowing it’s my last time

eyelashes bat across on the Kabaah to and fro

so intricately designed that my eyes yearn to be there everytime

catching every tear drop after every heavy sigh

after every istaghfar my heart so desperately pines

for forgiveness from The Only One who defines

my worth.

waiting for me before I wake up

ready for me before I go to bed

and three more times in between

yet I do not come

my sajjadah awaits my return and all i can think is

inshAllah in due time.

The Inner Dimensions of Fasting

From The Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship, by Imam Al-Ghazali (Translated by Muhtar Holland). The entire ebook is available here.

Chapter 3
Fasting
(Sawm)

Three Grades
It should be known that there are three grades of Fasting: ordinary, special and extra-special.

Ordinary Fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.

Special Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet — and all other organs — free from sin.

Extra-special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world. Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An'am,6:91]

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment:

1. SEE NOT WHAT DISPLEASES GOD
A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.’

Jabir relates from Anas that God’s Messenger, on him be peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’

2. SPEAK NOT…
Guarding one’s tongue from idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He, and with recitation of Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Said Sufyan: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’ Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am Fasting, I am Fasting!”‘

According to Tradition: ‘Two women were Fasting during the time of God’s Messenger, on him be peace. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing. They therefore sent a message to God’s Messenger, on him be peace, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, on him be peace, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.” One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, on him be peace, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”‘

3. HEAR NOT…
Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why God, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words, Exalted is He: Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [al-Ma'idah, 5:42] God, Great and Glorious is He, also said: ‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [al- Ma'idah, 5:63]

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said: ‘You are then just like them.’ [al-Nisa, 4:140] That is why the Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are copartners in sin.’

4. DO NOT…
Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast — to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fast like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

5. AVOID OVEREATING
Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to

experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr, 97:1]

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

6. LOOK TO GOD WITH FEAR AND HOPE
After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted, so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’ In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.

Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: ‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to God, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.’

Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting.

Ramadan Mubarak, Campus Iftars & More!

As-Salamu Alaykum,

Baihaqi reported on the authority of Salman Al-Farsi that the Prophet (PBUH) delivered a sermon on the last day of the month of Sha’ban. In it he said,

“O People! The month of Allah (Ramadan) has come with its mercies, blessings and forgiveness. Allah has decreed this month the best of all months. The days of this month are the best among the days and the nights are the best among the nights and the hours during Ramadan are the best among the hours. This is a month in which you have been invited by Allah (to fast and pray). Allah has honored you in it. In every breath you take is a reward of Allah, your sleep is worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations are answered.”

Beloved Michigan Muslims, Ramadan Mubarak!

We pray that this special month brings you continuous blessings and benefits. We pray that God makes this special month smooth for you and accepts all your worship. We pray that it is a productive, joyous and tranquil month for you and your families. We pray that this Ramadan is your best one yet, and that you are able to experience and nourish yourself through many more Ramadans to come insha’Allah. Jazakum Allah Kheir for being an integral part of this community that, for many, provides a sense of family.

Speaking of family, they say that the family that prays together, stays together- and eats together! The MSA will be hosting a campus iftar every week during Ramadan, insha’Allah. Please save these dates and be on the lookout for emails with location details. We would love to see you and break our fasts with you!

Thursday, July 26 (East Hall – co-sponsored with the Michigan Muslim Alumni Foundation- a reunion!)
Thursday, August 2 (East Hall)
Thursday, August 9 (Rackham)
Wednesday, August 15 (Rackham)

On these nights, will also hold taraweeh prayers on campus. For all other days of the month, we are organizing carpools to the local Muslim Center of Ann Arbor (MCA). If you need a ride or can offer others a ride (even if just once a week), please e-mail Omar Hadied (mhadied@umich.edu) or Nour Soubani (nsouba@umich.edu).

To use public transportation, TheRide #2 city bus can get you to the MCA in about 15 minutes. Riding the bus is free with your M-Card!

MCA website: http://mca-aa.org/
Bus #2 route schedule: http://aata.org/rideguide.asp?route=2
From downtown (to MCA): http://aata.org/rideguide/2out.pdf
To downtown (back to campus): http://aata.org/rideguide/2in.pdf

Also, stay tuned for blog posts from MSA’s soon-to-launch Green Muslims project for tips on how you can make this month a Green Ramadan!

Peace and blessings,
Your MSA Board

Mini-Qiyam Transcript: June 11th, 2012

The MSA’s Education Committee organizes weekly Mini-Qiyams on Mondays. Between prayers, UMich student speakers deliver a talk on a subject they feel is relevant to themselves and others. As part of a new initiative to share spiritually uplifting content, student speakers are invited to share the transcripts of their remarks.

The following is a transcript of Omar Hadied’s Mini-Qiyam talk, which he delivered on 06/11/2012.

I begin in the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.
We are now about to finish the month of Rajab and enter the month of Shaban.  We are about  6 weeks away until the blessed month of Ramadan.  We need to realize that the months preceding Ramadan are also considered blessed and we should not hesitate to take full advantage of our time in order to prepare for Ramadan.

Hadith on the month of Sha’ban: The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid , reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad : “Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha`ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Prophet Muhammad , replied: “That (Sha`ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.”

Another version: ‘In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year”

The prophet (SAW) conveyed that the month of Sha’ban is often neglected.  We can definitely see this today.  Some Muslims anticipate Ramadan and the struggles of fasting and staying-up late praying taraweeh so much so that they try to limit themselves during the preceding months.  We do not want to do this because the prophet (SAW) warned to not neglect the preceding months of Ramadan
The way that I have always seen the months of Rajab and Sha’ban is as prep months for the month of Ramadan.  We want to be on the top of our Islamic game.  Good deeds done during Ramadan are multiplied many times more than normal.

Hadith on Multiplication of Good Deeds: Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: “Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like).

It is for this reason we want to build good habits during the preceding months of Ramadan, in order to fully reap the benefits of this blessed months.

A’isha said that Prophet (SAW) said: “The deeds most loved by Allah (are those) done regularly, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

In order to better conceptualize the year as Ramadan approaches, I thought of an analogy that might help myself and others understand the place of Ramadan in the year:
Sprinting Analogy
Imagine you run for your schools track team. Your coach has you and your team run around the track for practice. It isn’t a normal 400m track, it’s much longer. The track weaves all throughout the school grounds. Your coach watches the team run from one section of the track, and as you reach that section you begin to sprint. As you come closer to your coach, you want to show him that you are capable of running really fast, and that you deserve to stay on this track team. Once you pass your coach on the track you begin to slow down to a normal pace until you come around again. What you don’t fully realize is that your coach can see you running the entire time, however, you feel more obligated to speed up your pace when you see yourself getting closer to him.
The track is supposed to represent the year. It’s long and winding, and takes us on our journey. You can imagine this track split up into 12 sections that represent the months of the year. The sections of track leading up to your coach and the section closest to your coach are the months of Rajab, Sha’ban and Ramadan respectively. As we come closer to Allah in these scared months we want to pick up our Islamic pace. We want to show Allah that we are still strong in our Iman and that we are worthy of the title of believers. However, we need to realize two things: 1. Although we get closer to Allah during these months, he is always watching us throughout the year. 2. If our intention is to metaphorically sprint during the month of Ramadan, we have to pick up our pace during the preceding months. If we don’t, we will spend time speedy up during the month of Ramadan, and not be able to reap the fully benefits of this blessed month.  3. Our Islamic pace will inevitable decrease after Ramadan, but if we build strong habits before and during the month of Ramadan we will leave the month a changed person.

A couple things we can start doing:

  1. Reading Quran
    1. The Quran was revealed to the Prophet (SAW) during Ramadan
    2. Make it a habit, even if it’s one page a day, before you sleep/when you wake up)
    3. ‘Abdullaah Ibn ‘Amr (radiallaahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The fast and the Qur’an will intercede for the servant on the Day of Judgement. The fast will say: ‘My Lord, I restricted him from food and drink, so allow me to intercede for him.’ And the Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night, so allow me to intercede for him.’ So they will be allowed to intercede.”
    4. Verily the one who recites the Qur’an beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, he will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. And as for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have TWICE that reward.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


  1. Making more Dua’a
    1. Ask for forgiveness, ask for mercy.  Prepare yourself for making dua’a during Ramadan.
    2. If it isn’t a habit now, try to make it a habit, after fajr/isha.  Make dua’a for your family, make dua’a for your friends.
      1. On the authority of Umm Darda (May Allah be pleased with her) it is reported that Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “…the dua of a muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted, and an angel is appointed to his side, whenever he makes a beneficial dua for his brother the appointed angel says “Ameen and may you also be blessed with the same”


  1. Fasting
    1. Ramadan in the summer = Longer days, it might be hard to start right away without trying it a couple times. How does fasting work with your schedule?
    2. Try fasting Mondays and Thursdays
    3. (remember the hadith of prophet (SAW) and how much he used to fast during Sha’ban)


  1. Making more prayers in the Masjid (Isha)
    1. Ramadan is known for taraweeh prayer, 4,8,12,20, whatever you plan to pray, make sure you get in the rhythm of going to the masjid for isha to start.


  1. Practicing Focus and Concentration in our Salah
    1. 10-700 multiplication is only for the times you are focusing
    2. Tips: Start by learning what you are saying in salah if you don’t know already and learn the translation and tafssir of the surahs you read most.


  1. Giving Zakat (donating)
    1. Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur’an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).


  1. Feeding others (iftaars)
    1. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever feeds the person who is breaking his fast, he will have his reward (for his fasting) without decreasing anything from the reward of the fasting person.”
    2. Plan to host an iftaar during Ramadan or even before then.  It’s a great opportunity to build bonds.

Lastly, another analogy that we may benefit from: It’s said that the month of Rajab is a month in which you plant the seeds. You initiate your good habits, brainstorm different ideas of ways you can improve your ebada. Then they say that the month of Sha’ban is the month that you water those seeds and they grow. You practice consistency with your good habits making sure that they are strong or getting stronger. Then they say that the month of Ramadan is when you collect your harvest. Now that you put in the time and effort to improve in the months preceding Ramadan, you will be able to collect the ajr when it is multiplied most.