salam aleikum, peace and blessings be on to you. Firstly I would like to congratulate all of you with the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan. A month filled with remembrance of God and physical restrain allowing for greater spiritual development. May your prayer, dua and fast be accepted by the Almighty God and may you always be guided by Him on the straight path leading to Paradise, insha'Allah.
Secondly I wanted to apologize for my obscenely long absence and the great gaps of time between my posts. As I explained in some posts before I am pursuing a Master degree and have been quite busy doing so. I have however not forgotten about this blog and will try to keep updating it with new posts as Ramadan goes on. I have made many of my good decisions during or after Ramadan, which points out the great effect this holy month has on one's spiritual situation. During my first Ramadan I decided to quit listening to haram music and I am still grateful to God for giving me the strength to keep this up.
'The best form of worship is breaking a habit or an addiction'. (Ghurar al-Hikam, no. 2873.) I can totally relate to this saying, because I have experienced the uplift in faith and general content with life, not only when I reverted to Islam but also after I started wearing the hijab (veil) and when I left haram music behind. In modern day psychology it is the norm to say that keeping up or breaking a habit for 40 consecutive days will lead to a greater chance of keeping up the change afterwards. All I can say is, try it for yourself and get closer to God by leaving habits which potentially lead to sin behind.
Now on a different note, as it is the holy month of Ramadan, I would like to share a series of very strong lectures by Sayyed Ammar Nakshawani. I first watched the lecture of Day 3 as this was the most recent one at that time, but I surely recommend watching the other two lectures preceding it as well. I will shortly discuss the content of the 3rd lecture as it really made me reconsider how I was going to spend Ramadan.
This lecture was mainly about how the majority of us Muslims recite the Quran, at least in our 5 daily prayers and then also in supplications (duas) and ziyarat. However this recitation, how valid is it when we do not know what we are saying? I as a revert could fully relate to this question, as I myself felt I was just repeating sounds when I first started praying. I mean we all either understand Arabic well enough or have translations to help us understand at least the words/sentences of the Quran, however the context and reason why the verses were revealed at those exact times and situations are mostly unknown to us. Let me give you an example mentioned in this lecture which I found really underlined the importance of UNDERSTANDING and ACTING ACCORDING TO the Quran rather than mere recitation and memorization. The enemies of the Prophet (peace be upon him and his family), who later proved their pure hatred towards him by participating in the massacre of Kerbala, were memorizers of Quran meaning that they knew all the surahs and all the verses off by heart. A process which takes years of practice and hard work to perfect. Looking however at their deeds and their sheer ignorance to the request of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his family) to safeguard both the Quran and his family, will prove that they might have memorized the text of the Quran but its meaning alludes them completely. This is also emphasized in the many hadiths stating that one hour of contemplation/pondering upon Quranic verses is worth more than 7 years of worship.
So as I know that my understanding or even memorization of the translation of the Quranic verses I recite during my prayers is quite low, I decided to change this by reading the Tafsir (or the meaning of the verses)of the Quran. This gave me a much better feeling than mere recitation of the Arabic text, although it gives me a feeling of inner peace and tranquillity, my need for knowledge and understanding is greater as this will again lead to a longer lasing feeling of peace. One this note I would like to share the link to the comprehensive English translation of Tafsir Al-Mizan writen by the great religious scholar Allamah Tabatabai.To make a long story short; this Ramadan try to make permanent changes, try to break bad habits and cultivate better ones, read Quran but also try to understand it (even if its a slow process, it is a lasting process), do not forget to give alms to the poor as this is a great way of worship and staying humble (as Allah's blessings can be taken away and given to anyone), fast not only by not eating, but also by abstaining from back-biting and bad deeds, it is important to enjoy this month and to increase the relation you have with your loved ones.
My dear readers, I thank you for reading this post
and insha'Allah I will continue to post during Ramadan and afterwards.
May Allah bless you for your efforts in this blessed month and for all the months to come. I send my Ramadan congratulations to you and your families and please pray for the less fortunate ones being oppressed, killed and force-fed in Palestine, Pakistan, Syria, Guantanamo Bay and sadly enough many more places across the world.
Ramadan 2013 lectures by Sayyed Ammar Nakshawani