Preparing for the blessed month – Ramadan

How is it possible that Ramadan is about to arrive again. I’m sure it was just recently that I had been fasting and celebrated Eid. But it’s about to arrive again in a few months! SubhanAllah time flies! So as I begin to think about what I want to achieve this Ramadan I realised that I have a lot of preparation to do. So I thought about what I need to be doing now to ensure I get the best out of Ramadan. With so many changes that happen to our routine during Ramadan we can easily burn out if we don’t try and add these into our routine beforehand. It can be a shock to the system to try and do all this suddenly and most of us regret not doing or not being consistent in them the whole month. So I made a list of things that I thought will be really good to implement before Ramadan.

1. Attend a Ramadan preparation class or if there isn’t anything in my local area then watch it online. There are so many classes we can attend either in person or online. Alhamdulillah I’ve been able to attend it each year for the last few years and they are so helpful in getting you into the zone and giving helpful tips. They teach and remind you of how amazing this month really is and how we can get the best out of it. 
2. Make time to read Quran daily. It can be 5 minutes or 10 ayahs but what ever it is try and be consistent in reading Quran daily. Everyone has their own level in reading Quran some can read for an hour but others can’t and it’s okay to read to how long you can manage. The important thing is to be consistent. It’s better to read 5 minutes a day than for an hour once a month. Slowly as you read you can increase the length of time or number of ayahs you read a day.
3. As Ramadan is going to be during summer and we will be fasting for long hours it’s good to start fasting before Ramadan actually begins. You can get used to fasting and you will be rewarded for keeping these voluntary fasts too. Begin by fasting Monday’s and Thursday’s as that’s the sunnah and you can revive a sunnah too!
4. Not only is it important for me us to read the Quran in Arabic but we should also know what it is teaching us. So we need to read the translation and learn the Tafsir. If we’re just reading in Arabic we won’t be able to get the full benefit from the words of Allah. A good way to read it is to read the Arabic and then read the translation or Tafsir of the ayahs you read in Arabic.
5. Another good practice is to read nafl prayers so that when it is Ramadan we can reap the most rewards. We will find it easier if we start reading the extra prayers now rather than trying to do everything all at once in Ramadan. 
6. Increase in your dhikr, dua and istaghfar. We sometimes overlook these especially if we are really busy. We pray but don’t do our dhikr after, we barely make istaghfar and dua is reserved for when we want something from Allah. We should start to make it a point to increase in these and give it importance. Remember to say our duas when we wake up, sleep, eat, study etc. recite subhanAllah, alhamdulillah, allahu akbar after our salah and say astaghfirullah as often as we can. 
7. Carrying on from my last point, make a dua list, what I mean by this is write down every single dua you want to make to Allah. Whether it’s specified duas we learn from the Quran or personal duas for your own circumstances. Nothing is too big or small. Remember it’s only Allah that can give it to you. You can ask for good health, a new job, good grades, hajj, to be able to pray 5 times a day consistently etc. I think it’s so useful because especially during the last 10 nights we all know how special it is and we want to stand at night and ask Allah for what we want but how many of us remember everything at that time? Later you realise you didn’t make dua for x, y and z. So by writing it down you have a list and you can keep it in front of you so you remember. Start the list now and as you remember things you can add to the list. When I look back at my last years dua list it’s amazing how many things on that list get answered. It also reminds you in the rest of the year to make dua for these things too.
8. Over the next few months we could get together with our family and friends and talk about Ramadan. It’s so much more than just not eating and drinking but many of us don’t know all its virtues and significance. So we can share knowledge and encourage and motivate each other to increase in our good deeds. Teach the children in our family about Ramadan, so that they will love it rather than see it as something they are forced to do. I love reading my little cousins islamic stories and making Ramadan decorations and making a Ramadan calendar where we countdown the days to Ramadan. It helps them get excited about it. They even love keeping “half fasts” where they fast from fair until dhuhr and then make them a special Iftar. Seriously the kids love it alhamdulillah.
9. Okay so we all want a new outfit for Eid but how many of us rush around in the last few days of Ramadan to find it. It takes up precious time and you’re stressed out. My advice, buy it before Ramadan begins! I have 4 sisters so it’s a nightmare for us (well my dad) but since we began buying our clothes early it’s so much easier. No rush and we don’t need to waste time on it during Ramadan. 
10. Lastly I want to say sisters don’t spend all day cooking! I’m not a big fan of cooking on a normal day but it’s worse when I’m fasting! But I know we need to eat healthy food so what I do is when I cook I make larger portions so that I can freeze some or we can eat the same meal for a couple days. That way we have food in the freezer to take out or I can cook every other day instead of cooking daily. That frees up my time to do other things. In Ramadan it means I can be free to engage in acts of ibadah. Also cook simple healthy meals that are light. We often cook huge feasts that take up so much time and we eat far more than we should which means it becomes hard for us to stand up in prayer at night. So prepare healthy food in advance and freeze it so that you don’t have to cook everyday. 
So these are things that I thought about in order to make the most of Ramadan inshaAllah. I hope you all have found it useful and if you have any tips and ideas please do share inshaAllah. 

Liebster award

So my lovely sister has nominated me for the Liebster award. So surprising as I’ve not been blogging long and wasn’t really expecting it. Please do check out her blog. Here’s the link 

The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award 

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

1. thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2. display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)

3. answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.

4. provide 11 random facts about yourself.

5. nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)

6. create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.

7. list these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:

8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)

Okay so my lovely sister asked these questions which I now need to answer so here goes…
1. The one thing you wish to achieve in your life? What is stopping you from getting it?
Well my passion well and truly is studying, yes lol studying. I have especially grown to love studying about Islam and what I would love nothing more is to spend time really studying, attending a structured full time class, maybe even doing BA in islamic studies or something. But at the moment it isn’t possible for me to study full time, my husband is about to start university and I want to fully support him and make it as easy as possible for him to be able to complete his degree. Once he graduates then inshaAllah I can return to university or attend a full time course studing about our deen. For now I attend evening and weekend classes.
2. Who is the person closest to your heart and what is the one quality in him/her that you love most?
Without a doubt it’s my cousin brother Rayyan, he’s 7 years old now but ever since he was born I loved him like my little brother. Leaving him to move to London when I got married was harder than leaving the rest of my family, it’s him that I miss most often. The thing I love about him most is his curiosity especially about Islam. He loves to listen to Quran stories and always asks loads of questions about Allah and our deen and they’re not just any questions they’re really deep thought provoking questions.
3. One skill you wish you had and one thing you already have in yourself that you are proud of.
Hmm that’s a hard one lol well I know I wish I had more patience as I’m quite short tempered. If I’m tired then I can snap easily especially at my husband. And I think what I do have is determination. I am one of those people that when I want to achieve something I will put my absolute best effort into it. I don’t believe in just maybe giving it a go, if I want to do something I will try my best so whether I achieve it or not I know that at least I tried my best and I won’t have any regrets. I am glad I’m like this as alhamdulillah it has help me achieve a lot over the years.
4. Do you consider yourself spiritual, moderately spiritual or not spiritual?
Hmm well I would say that I try to practice Islam as much as I can but my knowledge is limited so I try and do as much as I can to the best of my knowledge. I think over the years especially when I started university I began practicing more. 
5. Your favourite blogger and why?
Well I don’t think I have a favourite blogger yet as I’ve only recently started blogging on WordPress and I haven’t had a chance to really look through many blogs. But I do love my sisters blog, I love the flip side stories they’re so interesting and although they’re fictional they could just as easily be true which is what I love best about them. 
6. One thing about your country that you would like to change.
Well that’s easy, change how the media works! It should be illegal to spread lies and exaggerate stories and they have to post real news and not just gossip about celebrities. I hate gossip and slander more than anything else.
7. Your thought of an ideal life in this dunya.
Well actually Boona Mohammad’s spoken word called back to the future describes it perfectly. You can listen to it here:
But aside from that if life could be exactly how I wanted I would spend it studying the deen and then inshaAllah teaching my children. I would love to be attending classes with my husband and living in sukoon inshaAllah.
8. Would you forgive someone who immense hurt you in exchange for him/her being your neighbour in Jannah? 
Hmm that’s a really difficult one, I think I could forgive them eventually but I don’t think I could forget what they did. It’s something that makes it difficult for me to forgive someone who has really deeply hurt me. But inshaAllah once we’re in Jannah it will all be forgotten anyways.
9. Three most beautiful names you heard.
That is so difficult I love so many names! I guess if I had to pick it would be Hafsah, Ruqayyah, Khadijah. 
10. What is the genre you like to read?
I grew up loving fantasy books, but the last few years I discovered islamic fiction and I’m in love with it.
11. The one question you hate answering.
The question I hate to answer most of all is…so, can you tell me something about yourself…I absolutely hate it, it’s so vague and I have no idea what they would actually want to know!
So that’s all the questions answered! Okay so now I need to tell you some random facts about myself, so here you go…
  • Hardly any pronounces my name right initially, Naleem is the most common “name” I’m called.
  • I’m the oldest of 5 sisters, yup no brothers!
  • I’m a complete bookworm! I could spend the whole day reading if I had time.
  • I’m sure I have ocd when it comes to keeping things organised. Everything has to be kept in its specific place or it drives me crazy!
  • I hate cooking lol I only cook now because I have to lol
  • Even though I hate to cook I actually love to bake, trust me they’re different lol
  • I love banoffee pie, actually everything banoffee flavour lol
  • I got married almost 9 months ago, time flies!
  • My little cousin Rayyan (he’s 7) hated my husband for “stealing” me and he wouldn’t talk to my husband for months after we got married.
  • I have a really bad addiction, accessorize bags! 
  • Lastly, I think everyone should know that despite being married, me and my husband are the biggest kids ever! 
So my list of questions are for you all to answer inshaAllah 
1. What inspired you to start blogging?
2. What’s your favourite quote/saying?
3. What is your favourite book?
4. And why?
5. What is the one thing you would love to do/achieve?
6. Where would you love to travel to?
7. What is your dream career?
8. What is your favourite subject? What do you love to study or learn about?
9. Who inspires you? 
10. What is your favourite food?
Okay so the blogs I nominate are:
If you do accept please do let me know inshaAllah I would love to read yours! 🙂

The only Certainty in Life

…He gives life and causes death… Quran (9:116)

I find it so strange that people think it’s pessimistic to talk about death. Surely if we remembered death more often we would be much more realistic people? It is better than denying what is certain. Knowing that we could die tomorrow should make us change our perspective on life. Wouldn’t we live life to its fullest everyday. We wouldn’t procrastinate on things we have been meaning to do. But we forget that we will die, instead we think we will live forever. How many people regret not doing things? The biggest regret we will have is not doing enough good deeds at our death bed, and know for sure that death is your only certainty in life.

We are taught by the prophet (saw) to increase in the remembrance of the destroyer of desires; death. He also told us to visit the graveyards to remind ourselves of death. This is a reminder we need. We should remember death. But it needs to be balanced like everything else in life, if all we think about is death we won’t be able to do anything in life but if we never remember death then we may procrastinate in doing the things we need to do. 
Before you are even born the angel in your mothers womb writes down when you will die. We need to just think about that for a moment. And we read these Hadiths and don’t even reflect on what it actually means, what is the purpose of us knowing this? What does the prophet (saw) want to teach us?
Even the dua we recite every morning as we wake up is about thanking Allah for giving us life after having taken it from us. This should be reminder to us every morning that Allah has given us the opportunity to do something good, to seek His forgiveness to change ourselves for the better.

It’s strange that when we travel, go on a holiday or move to a new place we meticulously plan every detail and decide what we need to take with us yet the journey that every single one of us is  most definately going to take we don’t prepare for. It reminds me of the story of Dawud (as), the angel of death came to him and he was surprised, saying you came without warning. The angel of death replied, saying that he had in fact told Dawud (as) that he would come. He asked him about his fathers death , his neighbours death, his friends death. People around him had died and this was his message to Dawud (as) that he will be coming for him too. So when someone we know passes away it should remind us that one day this will be us and we need to prepare ourselves for it.
So then how should we be preparing for it? There are many things we can do, we should increase in our good deeds; give more in charity, be good to our family and friends, fast, pray our salah etc. We also should increase in our seeking forgiveness for all the sins we have committed. All the haram we indulged in, the rights of others we trampled over, slander, gossip, stealing. Whatever it was that we did we need to seek forgiveness for it. Seek forgiveness all the time as we don’t know which breath will be our last. 
I will leave you with this quote from Imam Al-Ghazali: O friend, the cloth from which your burial shroud will be cut has already reached the market yet you remain unaware. 

Am I too skinny?

Being told you’re too skinny is just as soul destroying as being told you’re fat. Trust me.

Although I have now accepted that I’m slightly underweight and will probably remain this way for at least a few more years, due to my fast metabolism, I did at one time feel like there was something wrong with me for being so skinny. Before I got married I was constantly told I’m too skinny, so skinny that my wedding dress won’t look nice on me and that my husband won’t find me attractive. People told me I looked anorexic even though I wasn’t. It made me feel quite insecure about my body, I started to believe what people told me. I know I shouldn’t have but when your constantly told something it does affect you. After I got married it took some time for me to accept that my husband thinks I’m perfectly fine the way I am. Alhamdulillah for my husband, when I told him how I felt he told me that’s ridiculous and made me feel like I’m the prettiest girl in the world (to him anyways). Just like we wouldn’t say to someone you’re so fat your husband won’t think your pretty, we also shouldn’t say it to someone who is skinny. 
I’ve come to realise that no matter what size you are you will always be the wrong size. There’s no winning. So I learnt to accept it and be happy with the size that I am. Yes I know I am slightly underweight but my doctors aren’t concerned so there really is no problem. If people spent less time worrying about other peoples dress size and more time on themselves the world would be a much happier place. I mean how is my dress size going to affect anyone else’s lives? Now I know some people are genuinely concerned but then you need to be tactful in the way you handle the situation. Yes some people need to lose weight for health reasons and yes some people may have an eating disorder causing them to be severely underweight but is saying you’re too fat or you’re so skinny that you look ugly going to help? Instead how about you focus on them and their wellbeing rather than their image? Why do girls become anorexic? Because society says you need to be super skinny to look pretty. Well how about the society focuses on more important things rather than a dress size. Seriously!
And lastly I want to remind myself and anyone out there who’s been told they’re not the “right” dress size that Allah has created you perfectly. You are exactly how Allah intended you to be and and you are perfectly unique and special to Allah, no matter what anyone else says. Allah created every single person differently, right down to our fingerprint so then why would we want to look like someone else? And remember that there is wisdom in why you were created the way you were and it is exactly the way Allah intended you to look. And what could be more perfect than the way Allah wanted you to look?

We have certainly created man in the best of stature. Quran 95:4