Making Time for Prayer

I’m sure you have noticed that I am blogging a little less these days, which is mainly due to the long hours of fasting, as well as being kept busy with work, food preps and taking time for quick naps!

One of the biggest parts of Ramadan when fasting is prayer – not just the five times a day worship, but other forms of prayers as well. Fasting is not enough on its own, for a lot of Muslims there is no point starving yourself of food all day if you do not understand spiritually why you are doing this, and how it can help us. It is this which makes our fast more meaningful, and also more likely to be accepted by God as something truly offered in Ramadan

Unfortunately, in today’s busy society, we all have pretty lives – I know my sisters and I all have full-time jobs and household responsibilities which can take up a lot of our time, and even in the long hours of Ramadan, we find ourselves busy. We also find ourselves tired, running on less sleep and low energy which can make it more difficult for us to make sure we put some time aside for ibadah and prayer.

My goal this month has been to spend more time reading the Quran, as well as looking at the English translated copy I have, which I have always enjoyed reading because of the detailed background it gives to so many stories. It’s ironic, when we were all little and learning our letters, being taught the Quran by our father, we were never that appreciative and we always tried to hide from our lessons or fall asleep in them (me!). These days, when we want to do these things, we feel like we just have no time for it, let alone free time to ourselves. We all try to set goals for ourselves every Ramadan – but meeting them can be a little bit of struggle. Equally, a lot of women who aren’t fasting due to pregnancy, or nursing children, or even busy mothers who keep fasts but are unable to pray, often feel guilty because they feel their contribution isn’t enough – I think I can agree with those who say that raising your child and nurturing them is a form of worship to God, and that feeding and looking after your family shouldn’t be underestimated.

I’ve been lucky enough this year, however busy I have been, to be helped a lot by my husband, who often takes the time to cook after work, or clean around the house (he still doesn’t pick up his coffee mugs though), which leaves me with more free time. I’ve been making an effort to make more time for prayer and looking a small duas that I can incorporate. As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, each night becomes more special, and even though I’m pretty sure I’ll get busier (that Eid shopping won’t get done by itself!), that special atmosphere in the air, that sense of camaraderie will make it more of a reason to take the time to count our blessings : )

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #21: U is for Ummah

After watching the wonderful Snapchat Mecca story yesterday which has gotten Muslims and non-Muslims talking, I was so pleased to see such an amazing reaction to the snapshots and videos sent in by worshippers in Mecca performing Umrah on the holiest night of Ramadan – the 27th night known as Lailat as-Qadr, or the Night of Power – showing images of the Kaaba, the night prayers and the millions of dishes handed out for iftar to everyone.

It made me think of how far-reaching we have become, and what a wonderful opportunity there is to unite Muslims, as well as informing non-Muslims of the beauty of Islam.

So today’s post is one of the ones taken from the Snapchat video showing a packed full scene of people – all there for one reason, and all appreciating the beauty of Mecca and Islam : )

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #16: P is for Prayer

As we enter the last ten days of Ramadan, the focus is on prayer, and how we can best make the most of our time to focus and show appreciation for what we have. The last ten days of Ramadan are even more blessed because its marks the time that the Qu’ran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W.) on the night of ‘Laylat Al Qadr‘, also known as the ‘Night of Power’ – it’s also an amazing time to prayer, make requests and reflect.

So here’s a prayer for you all who are fasting these last ten days – I hope you make the most of it and that your prayers are answered.

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Let the *real* Hunger Games begin.

It’s that time of the year. Making, stocking up and freezing a couple of hundred samosa or so for that special time in a mere few days, Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting). Time to make promises about not eating too many oily fried stuff, or too much sugar and time to stock up as if there’s an oncoming seige and we’re about to be locked in our cellars. It’s a strange in-between feeling right now, that anticipation building up of what to expect, how to behave and how to make the most of this time.

But at the same time, as much as I try not to be negative about this special time, I can’t help but worry about the heat, the dehydration, the long days and not-enough-sleep feeling. Last year Ramadan time wasn’t easy because of the thirty-plus degrees weather and long days without water – one day in particularly stands out as a day that I felt really thirsty and weak, thinking about a nice cool glass of water all day.

But I know I’m lucky still. I can’t complain, when we have electric fans and AC in the offices, when there’s a huge feast for us to break our fasts , and when the heat is nothing compared to that in India, Pakistan, Africa. We choose to fast to understand what the less fortunate go through, and it helps us appreciate what we do have. There are many who don’t have the luxury of fasting for a month, and instead go without much food or clean water for a lot longer than just one month because of their poverty and poor living situation.

It’s when I remember this that I remember what Ramadan really teaches us.

So yes, it’s a strange in-between feeling at the moment. not quite there in the period of fasting, and not quite binge-eating either. In the mean-time, enjoy these samosas being made by my mum, ready to freeze so we can fry them later on. Made of two simple ingredients, spring roll sheets and mince filling (and my mum’s magic fingers making them into perfect equilaterals).

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #22: Prayer/Free

The last ten days of Ramadan are the most special ones and important ones, particularly because of the opportunities which are given to us to make prayer, ask for forgiveness, give charity and really make the most of worshipping Allah as sincerely as possible. It’s also the best time for us to gain rewards and forgiveness which would not be accessible in the rest of the year.

Throughout Ramadan, my family and I do the best we can to pray and keep remembrance of Allah, whether it’s reading the Holy Quran, with prayer beads, listening to lectures or with prayer and salah itself – something which never fails to give us peace of mind and a sense of belonging. So I’ll describe Prayer today as something like a window – one of opportunity, one to see inside ourselves and our souls, and one which can be used to look outwards too, for a more positive future.

Keep husn adh-dhann bi Allah (good expectations from Allah). When you ask, remember you are asking the Most Generous King. If you hope for the best, He will give you the best. Don’t hold back. Trust in Him, pour out your heart in front of Him, and let no doubt, no barrier, no evil thoughts keep you away from ar-Rahman, ar-Raheem!

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #20: Grateful for…

…Sisters. I have three of them, and now a sister-in-law who joined the family a few years ago to become one of us.

She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities.
She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway.
She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark.
She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink.
Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.

— Barbara Alpert

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #17: Mosque

I couldn’t go down to my local mosque to take photos (and I didn’t think it would look quite right either, a random hijabi hanging around a mosque with a camera at prayer times…maybe not). So here’s a few crystal and glass ornaments of famous mosques in Saudi Arabia that we have at home that we all love, they’re small and pretty and beautifully made.

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And here is my Godzilla-Baby niece messing with my ‘studio’ and showing me how it’s really done!

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Journal Your Ramadan – Day #15: ME

So, this is me. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I love photography. I also love a lot of other things. I love books (I read far too much sometimes, I’ll read at work, on the train, on my mobile, on my eReader, my computer, and of course I read a lot more comic books than perhaps I should). I love drawing. Not so great at it, but I try anyway. I also like looking at stupid and funny things on the internet very much, half of the Weekly Links I’ve found are purely by accident, through one of those sessions where you type in ‘jobs in London’ and end up with ‘Dancing cats with bread on their head’.

Ramadan for me is one of those times which feels almost surreal, there’s something in the air which makes it feel all Ramadan-y, perhaps it’s the smell of samosas in the air, but I like to think that it’s more the feeling of unification in Islam, and the fact that our faith feels stronger, purer. Every year it feels like it will be a long month, and consistently, every year the month rushes by so fast that before you know it, it’s Eid. It’s crazy to think that we’re halfway through Ramadan already, we’re just settling in and learning new things we didn’t know about before, and most of all there’s that feeling of appreciation, of our follow Muslims, of the food we have, the lives we lead and the feeling that we are very, very lucky.

So that’s me today, I feel blessed that I’m able to sit here on a laptop and tap away with ease – I could easily be in another country worrying about my next meal or about my safety. In this month we learn not to take what we have for granted too much, and to use our positions to help others less fortunate. I’m hoping to do just one thing this month which will make a difference to someone, whether it’s charity, or sending aid to developing countries. I’d urge you to do the same in this month, if not to help others, then for the reward you’d get for it.

– Harlequin x

day15Props to my sister for letting me take a picture of her face with her sunglasses on!

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #13: In my kitchen

Thought I’d show you a few things that we have in our kitchen, apart from the usual pots and pans and spoons, basically the little pretty and quirky things which make up all the home delights in our kitchen. I won’t mention our chocolate stash in our cupboards, though.

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Some beautifully colourful small bowls that my sister and her husband bought for my Mum from their holiday in Turkey
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Some of our fridge magnets 🙂
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A postcard we have, one of my favourite ones (My mum thought it was a bit strange that I wanted to take a picture of it, but she’s used to me by now!)
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A pickle jar we have on our windowsill
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My mum’s amazing tea collection, she’s been collecting these for years

Journal Your Ramadan – Day #12: Prayer/Mercy

I believe all of us can, with prayer, with good deeds and kind words, ask for mercy and for understanding. The month of Ramadan is particularly a valuable month for prayers, because of how more more mercy we can get, and how much more accessible it is for us to go towards the doors of Jannah.

Hope you had a blessed and relaxing weekend, all.

img_1722Prayer mat.