Mama got spontaneous with Natural Delights medjool dates the other day, filled some with Philadelphia cream cheese and Nutella hazelnut spread. The results were finger licking delicious! Would you try these? Have you tried other fun filled dates?
It’s been seven years since I observed and celebrated a full month of Ramadan back home in San Francisco. I plan to break fast with my family, kneel in worship with my friends and try to find peace within myself.
May this Ramadan find you breaking fast with family, worshipping with friends and finding peace within yourself… ameen.
Blessed and rewarding Ramadan to one and all.
.يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint” -Quran, 2:183
As the crescent hasn’t been sighted in this part of the world, the month of Shabaan 1436 is a full 30 days. This means that Insha’Allah Ramadan 1436 begins on the evening of Wednesday, June 17th with the first fasting day being Thursday, June 18th.
From my family and I to yours, may you all have a blessed, rewarding and joyous month… Ameen.
It’s that time of year again, as Ramadan comes to a close and Eid is suddenly upon us. Ramadan is, amongst many things, about purification. With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring in the new for the coming year. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading.
Zakat ElFitr, or “Fast Breaking Charitable Offering” is a major part of Ramadan. It’s been noted than one must purify their materials by donating at least 2.5% or whatever one can from their assets they’ve held for at least a year. This is calculating any financial accounts, properties, gold, etc. There are helpful online zakat calculators one can use to help determine how much they should give. Remember, that this must be given before Eid ElFitr prayers to make everything you did in Ramadan count Insha’Allah.
Remember, Zakat isn’t only finances, but it’s also your time and energy such as volunteerism and referring others to do the same. With that and reflecting on my post from two years ago, below are some organizations, Zakat approved, that you should continue to support now and throughout the year.
The San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) has truly come a long way in the last several years. They’ve grown with the love and support of the community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are working tirelessly to start San Francisco’s first full time Islamic faith based school in the coming year and can use all the support they can get. If you can donate financially or volunteer just a couple of hours a week, I urge you to go to their website and learn more!
A community can not be called one if it does not have a strong support system. From losing a job because of faith to defending civil rights on a larger scale, Muslims in the US do come across bigotry and backlash on a daily basis. Through it’s many chapters across the country, CAIR has been that support system for the Muslim community at large. Educating the masses to “know your rights” as well as voicing common concerns of the Muslim community on Capital Hill is the tip of iceberg of the great work CAIR does. Your financial and volunteer contribution goes a long way to support the community. Find a chapter near you and ask how your zakat can support the community.
With all that is happening in the world, be it natural disasters or man created conflict, you will always find Islamic Relief of USA there. Day after day, I’m impressed by this 4-star organization’s efforts and dedication to serving humanity at large. When other organizations leave an area, Islamic Relief is still there, for the long haul be it locally throughout the US or on a global scale. I’m honored that I know many individuals on a personal level that work and contribute their time and efforts into this organization and I ask you to do the same.
If you know of any organizations that should be on this list, please post their information in the comments or tweet them to me (@ms_hala).
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat (for Ramadan) before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity.” The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. – Bukhari, courtesy of Friday Nasiha
It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve moved to Doha, Qatar from San Francisco, California. So far, I’m settling in slowly but surely, taking in this diverse atmosphere and doing my best to survive this ridiculous summer heat. I have gone out and about exploring bits and pieces of Doha which I’m sure you’re aware of from my many posts on Twitter and foursquare. Not sure how much of that is going to continue as Ramadan approaches.
My favorite time of year is about two days away. As I sit trying to figure out what I need to know about Ramadan in Qatar, I was reminded by my weekly email subscription from Friday Nasiha that this will be my first Ramadan alone, away from my family. It’s not going to be like when I was in grad school a few years back and working long hours where I only had iftar at home maybe once or twice a week. It’s not going to be like when I was in Egypt last year constantly surrounded by extended family and friends.
Realizing this has officially made me homesick.
I had to appreciate the efforts with some of the tips for spending Ramadan alone away from family which I’ve reposted below. I am blessed that I would be spending Ramadan in Qatar with friends I deem family however I appreciate and will definitely be utilizing tips #3, #4 and #6!
Are you spending Ramadan alone this year? What tips here work for your situation? Do you have other tips to add on? Any tips for spending Ramadan in Qatar?
For most Muslims, Ramadan is family time. You get up together, eat Iftar together, pray together, etc. But what if you don’t have your family near you?
Waking up in a lonely apartment and eating food you’ve sometimes burnt in an effort to catch Suhur in time are some of the realities of being a single Muslim in Ramadan. But there are ways to make Ramadan special when you’re on your own. Here are few ideas.
1. Establish a Suhur telephone tree
Get a couple of friends together and establish a telephone tree to wake each other up for Suhur. Establish a time to call and a schedule of who will call whom. Make it a little exciting by adding some funny phrases every week that will really wake everyone.
2. Invite people over for Iftar
Even if even you couldn’t eat the food the last time you cooked, invite people over for Iftar. Make it a potluck, order pizza or if you can afford it, get it catered. The food isn’t the thing. The blessing is in the company, and you’ll be rewarded for feeding everyone. Make sure to especially invite those who are away from their families.
3. Attend prayers at the local mosque/MSA
Even if the Imam’s recitation isn’t the best and the behavior of other Muslims can be more than annoying, try to attend Tarawih prayers organized by your local mosque or your Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). While praying alone in peace and quiet is great, praying shoulder-to-shoulder with other Muslims with whom you have nothing in common except your faith is a unique and uplifting experience.
4. Keep the Quran playing when you are alone
It’s often tempting to keep the TV or radio on when we’re alone to avoid the silence. This Ramadan, find a Quran reciter you like and play their recitations during those moments when you want to fill your place with some sound. Choose selections you’d like to memorize, like the 30th part of the Quran.
5. Take care of others
Know a new person at the school/office? Is a friend who lives nearby having problems with their spouse? Or is someone you know having money problems? This Ramadan, reach out with an attentive ear, a generous hand, and most importantly, an open heart to others. Don’t let these small opportunities for gaining blessings slip you by.
6. Pick and pursue Ramadan goals
Choose at least three goals to pursue this Ramadan. Whether it’s curbing a bad habit or starting a good one, doing this will help you focus and work harder this month to change for the better. It takes 21 days to establish a good habit. With Ramadan, we’ve got 30. Why not make the best of it by picking up the good?
“A single Muslim’s guide to Ramadan” – SoundVision.com
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I owe my readers an apology for my lack of postings. If it is any consolation, one of the reasons I’ve been busy is due to critiquing your resumes and having career counseling sessions. Now you know I haven’t fully abandoned my job seekers!
Last year I wrote Fasting While @ Work to help both sides through the Islamic fasting month. With Ramadan just around the corner, I’ve decided to rewrite this piece to include more information and resources.
The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan begins on Wednesday, August 11th. For working Muslims, fasting while at work isn’t the easiest of things to do; especially when you feel like the only one fasting during the month. If you’re a working student, it can be much more difficult. Trust me when I say, “I know the feeling”! When I was a junior in high school, I used to be in class all day before going to my night job and breaking my fast just an hour or two before going home to my moms’ home cooking. All through my time in college and grad school, I’d break my fast during my evening courses while some classmates look at me in amazement at the fact that I’m eating.
With that, I think a few pointers for my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters observing Ramadan this year as they work or go to school is just as appropriate as it is necessary.
Being from San Francisco, I must say that we are blessed with the number of mosques in or near the downtown area, including the financial district. Muslim employees should try during their lunch hour to go to a mosque near by. As this is the month to celebrate the scriptures of the Holy Quran being brought down to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh), what better way to pass that hour then by being in a place where others are worshiping and reciting the scriptures, right? Not sure if there is a mosque near your place of work? You should be able to find one through IslamicFinder.
If you’re a high school student, only go to a nearby mosque if your campus is an “open campus”. The Career Club does not condone cutting class or sneaking off campus!
If there isn’t a mosque near by, there is always a quiet space where you can be to worship and read the Holy Quran. I’ve worked in many parts of the Bay Area where there wasn’t always a mosque near by. I ended up discovering a quiet small garden I could sit in or an empty conference room I had to myself during that time. Many businesses and organizations are highly respectful of one’s beliefs and practices as long as it does not interrupt their productivity. Do not expect for them to assume your needs, so make the request for space during your break in a professional manner.
For university students, there should be an MSA (Muslim Student Association) at your school where there is a designated space for meetings and worship. If not, please check where you can go, such as the library (where there is almost always secluded spaces for projects) or an empty classroom. For high school students, an MSA should have a similar situation at your campus. Otherwise try to find a quiet space on campus. When I was in high school, we had a few professors that kept their classroom open as well as the library being open during lunch.
As Muslims, we believe that the most beloved scent to God (swt) is the scent of one’s fasting breath. However, that isn’t going to be the same amongst many mortals, Muslim or not. Nothing to be offended about as it is a natural occurrence of halitosis or bad breath when one doesn’t consume food or beverage for a while. What can you do about it? Simple things such as making sure you have good distance between yourself and others. Always brush your teeth, even if it’s rinsing with water. If you have a “miswak“, even better! Click here to read some good tips on things to do during Suhur (pre dawn meal) to assure that your breath stays decent throughout the day.
If you know someone is fasting, don’t start eating and drinking in front of them. Be as courteous as you would want others to be if you too were fasting. If you want to know what it is like to be fasting, fast with a fellow colleague then go with them to break your fast. It’s an amazing learning experience according to my many colleagues that have done the same with me. Plan to either fast the whole month of even try it for a few days, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
Also, as many of you may or may not know, Muslims do a physical prayer that does not allow for interuptions. This means that Muslims do not speak to others during their prayers. So if you walk in on someone praying, be respectful by being silent or even stepping out. Prayers shouldn’t last more then 5 minutes.
I always tell people that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Ask your Muslim colleagues and classmates about Ramadan while being courteous. There are several resources online to learn about Ramadan, including IslamicFinder.org, IslamiCity.com, Islamic Society of Northern America and Islamic Center of America.