17 Ways to Create Your Own Spiritual Space

Spiritual

After several conversations with friends and family members regarding their frustrations with the masjids in their communities and the lack of a community-feeling in their masjids really got me thinking about what the solution to this problem could be. I’ve studied masjids and tried to identify best practices, but realized that while best practices are important one’s spirituality and imaan (faith) is far more important.

It’s easy to build a masjid, but to build a community is another task all together. Many communities succeed in whatever way they can to at least have a physical structure for their masjid, but many fail miserably to build a community. This lack of community can virtually kill people’s connection to the Muslim community, Islam, and eventually with Allah all together. This trend of being unmosqued and more and more Muslims feeling alienated from the masjid is something that can have significant consequences for the future of our community.

As we continue to pray for and work towards building more warm and welcoming masjids it’s important for one to build their own masjid. No, I don’t mean a physical structure, but create your own spiritual space. What do I mean by this? I have a couple of tips below of how to create your spiritual space:

1) Pray Your Salah on Time

Start off simply by praying your salah on time. Schedule your work schedule or school schedule around the 5 daily prayers. If you need reminders download IslamicFinder’s athaan on your computer or on your phone. If you’re lazy for fajr set two alarm clocks, one on your phone and another on your alarm clock.

2) Slow Down Your Salah

A lot of us, including myself, speed through our salah without even thinking about what we’re saying and what we’re doing. After we pray we feel empty and regretful which further exacerbates our feeling of unease and lack of connection to Allah. Also, make it a point to dress appropriately when you pray. Make it an event—dress nicely, smell nice, and spend your time slowly doing wudhu and concentrate on each action. Try to also learn what you’re reciting in salah to make it more meaningful. Check out the following lectures for tips on how to improve your salah:

  • The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui(Short Imaan Booster)
  • Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)
  • Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman(Short Imaan Booster)
  • Sweetness in Prayer (Salah) – Moutasem Al-Hameedi(1 hour)
  • Salah in Focus-Abdul Nasir Jangda(1 hour)
  • Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas(1 hour)
  • Meaning of Tashahud-Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda(50 mins)

3) Create a Prayer/Dhikr Place at Home

In your home or apartment keep a prayer mat, dhikr beads and a Quran in one area to designate as a prayer/dhikr place. This will help you keep focused in salah as well as create an environment in which you can feel at peace when you pray. Below is my prayer/dhikr area.

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4) Create a Fajr Routine

 

What do I mean by a Fajr Routine?

  • Tahajjud: Try to get up 10-15 minutes earlier than Fajr to pray 2-4 rakahs of Tahajjud and also pray the 2 rakahs of sunnah before Fajr.
  • Read Quran Post-Fajr: Read a couple of pages of the Quran post-fajr
  • Duas: Create a dua list, you can find duas from the Quran and sunnah, simply copy and paste them onto a Word document, print them out, or you can buy Accepted Whispers (I highly recommend it):
  1. Accepted Whispers: http://www.amazon.com/Accepted-Whispers-English-Translation-Munajaat/dp/B0021IZYEQ

2. My Dua List: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101667123/Dua-List-Final

3. Dua by Muhammad Jibreel: http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/worship/fasting-ramadan/a-gift-for-the-27th-night-ramadan-dua%E2%80%99-with-english-translation/

  •     Pray Salat-Ishraq: These are two rakahs of salah post-sunrise.

“Whoever prays fajr in congregation, then sits remembering Allah until sunrise, then prays two units of prayer, has a complete reward of Hajj and `Umrah [The Prophet, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, repeated ‘complete’ three times for emphasizing].” [at-Tirmidhi]

5) Pray Fajr and/or Isha at the Masjid

 

If you do have access to a masjid at least pray fajr and/or Isha at the masjid. It doesn’t matter how much you hate going to a particular masjid, but if you simply go to pray in congregation and make it a routine it’ll help you keep your imaan up and give you a imaan-boost. If you can’t make it for Fajr, at least make it for Isha.

6) Memorize Short Duas

 

Try to memorize short and simple duas. What I do is I post duas on my doors or in key areas where I’ll be sure to read them. Post daily duas for when you’re leaving home, after eating, etc.

DUAS

 7) Memorize and Understand Juz Amma (Short Surahs)

We all have memorized the short surahs in juz amma (maybe not all but some). Use this as a starting place to add meaning and purpose to your salah. If you want, try to get friends to review with or even make a weekly halaqa to go over the tafsir and meaning of the short surahs in Juz Amma. Make it a goal by the end of the year to memorize all of the surahs in Juz Amma. Here are a couple of resources to get you started:

-Juz Amma Tafsir by Nouman Ali Khan

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/juz_amma/

-Word for Word Translation:

http://www.islamicstudies.info/wordtranslation.php

  • Reconnect with the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

Listening to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)s seerah can help you increase your love and appreciation for the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and truly understand who he was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMu_654ASDk&list=PL7839C1DDE0524207

9) Make Dhikr or Send Salawat on the Prophet SAW in Your Downtime

Make it a habit to make dhikr throughout your day. If you’re sitting in traffic, or studying, or working either make dhikr or send salawat on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

10) Create a Daily To-Do List and Spiritual Routine

Try to create a routine of self-improvement that includes not only spiritual self-improvement, but also personal improvement academically, professionally, or physically (Work out!). Creating a spiritual and workout routine are both good ways to keep your spiritual heart and physical heart healthy. Below is how I organize my to-do list. On the left hand side I have my tasks for the day. On the right side I have my regular daily tasks that I need to accomplish and below that I have a section (since I like blogging/writing) for article/blog or paper ideas.

IMG_2754

On how to create a daily spiritual routine I highly recommend getting Imam Ghazali’s The Beginning of Guidance and also purchasing Sh. Hamza Yusuf’s Purification of the Heart, both are great ways to start your journey of spiritual refinement.

BookPH

11) Listen to Lectures of Scholars You Enjoy

Yes, the masjid you may go to may have awful khutbahs, classes, and lectures (or you may not have a masjid close to you), but alhamdullilah for technology we have access to several scholars who we can benefit from. You can take classes on SeekersGuidance or you can simply or you can simply listen to lectures on HalalTube.com. Find lectures you’re interested in and can be imaan-boosters for you.

12) Start a Small Weekly Halaqa with Close Friends

If your masjid is failing to have quality lectures, classes and halaqas that cater to your spiritual needs create a small weekly halaqa with close friends who you can discuss Islamic topics with or make it focused upon a book or studying the Quran.

13) Reduce Unnecessary Socializing

This means reducing time spent with friends or acquaintances who bring no value into your life. You want to keep friends who bring value to your life and push you and encourage you to be a better person at every level (spiritual, emotional and personal). This’ll be a difficult task, but if you start categorizing people and start making quality friends.

Read: 10 Steps on How to Make Quality Friends

https://sabrshukr.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/10-steps-on-how-to-make-quality-friends/

14) Reduce Distractions

This means reduce your time on your smartphone, computer/laptop, and even music. I’m not saying any of these things are haram, but reducing our time on social media and technology can have an immense impact on reviving our imaan and spirituality. I remember taking a Facebook fast during Ramadan, it was the best feeling in the world and it’s amazing how much time you have once you cut down time on social media. Delete apps on your phone which are a distraction or time wasters (this includes social media apps, games and other time wasting apps).

15) Increase Your Dua

Start making dua more regularly and do so throughout the day. It can be a silent internal dua or a silent dua you say to yourself in any situation you’re in. This will help you keep spiritually fresh and help you feel closer to Allah.

16)Keep Clean and Organized

Having a clean and organized home and workplace will reduce stress and allow you to focus primarily on your dhikr, Quran-reading and will allow you to be more productive spiritually and work wise too.

17) Reflect on Events and Situations in Your Day

Use every moment, second, minute and hour of your day assessing, reflecting and pondering about events and situations. What lessons can you learn from them? What can you improve on? What can you do differently? How can you learn from these moments to become a better person? This isn’t to say you need to be obsessive about events or situations, but use every moment of your life to be a moment to learn from and improve yourself, your understanding of others, Allah and the world around you.

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15 Ways to Recharge Your Imaan This Ramadan

Ramadan Recharge

So a few of my friends have asked how to make the most of this Ramadan and that they were feeling spiritually low. I sat down and thought about it and here are my simple ways to recharge our imaan (faith) this Ramadan and inshallah for year to come.

1. Tune out Distractions/Drama + Decrease Socializing

-Spend as much time as you can by yourself by making dua, dhikr, etc.

-This isn’t to say to not be nice to people and turn down invites to iftar dinners, but don’t make food the focus of your Ramadan

2. Read more Quran + Review the Meaning

-Find a Quran Translation You Find Easy to Understand

-Find a Quiet and Peaceful Place to Read Quran (I like to read Quran after fajr up until sunrise and then pray Ishraq after)

-The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever offers his morning (fajr) prayer in congregation, then remains seated making the dhikr of Allah until the sun rises, and thereafter offers two rak’ats, they will receive the reward of performing a Hajj and Umrah.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 586)

 

3. Make Dua Daily

-Create your own dua list

-OR buy: http://www.amazon.com/Accepted-Whispers-English-Translation-Munajaat/dp/B0021IZYEQ

-Dedicate a special time to make your dua with sincerity and focus)-After Fajr or Every Salah

-Here is my list of duas: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101667123/Dua-List-Final

 

4. Add one Small Sunnah to Your Routine

-Add the Sunnah Before Fajr

– 2 rakahs after Maghrib, Dhuhr, Isha

5. Slow Down Your Salah!

-We all rush through our salah, but try to slow down and understand what you’re saying and what position you’re in relation to Allah in your salah. Think to yourself: ok I’m in prostration to Allah, this means I am submitting myself to Him, I’m in Ruku, I am in a position of weakness and am proclaiming His strength.

-Great Lectures about how to gain tranquility in salah:

The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0efbrGqO1Os

Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGPCMJZ7zto

Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3k3ZkQUHYU

 

Sweetness in Prayer (Salah) – Moutasem Al-Hameedi(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O724d95udWg

 

Salah in Focus-Abdul Nasir Jangda(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhV4p0_QGxk

 

Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KRqNv22F6E

 

Meaning of Tashahud-Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda(50 mins)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IevbR3-SnSk

 

 6. Learn Daily Duas

-Post Duas Up On Your Fridge so whenever you open the fridge you read the dua

-Post Duas in Common Places like Your Front Door (Dua When Leaving the House and Dua when Entering on the Other Side of the Door)

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 6. Reconnect with the Seerah

-Seerah Series by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda: http://www.qalaminstitute.org/category/podcast/seerah/

-Omar Ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMu_654ASDk&list=PL7839C1DDE0524207

-Omar ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series Study Guide

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231024116/Omar-Ibn-Khattab-MBC-TV-Series-Study-Guide

 

 7. Learn Tafsir, Learn the Meaning and Memorize Short Surahs (Juz Amma)

-Juz Amma Tafsir by Nouman Ali Khan

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/juz_amma/

-Word for Word Translation:

http://www.islamicstudies.info/wordtranslation.php

 

8. Make a Dua List (of Things You Need in Dunya/Deen)

Make a dua list where you divide your needs for your dunya (immediate needs) and your deen (i.e. spiritual needs). Also, make a list of things you’re grateful for and thank Allah for them.

9. Ask Forgiveness for People You May Have Hurt

Write an email, text or call someone you may have hurt recently or in the past to ask for their forgiveness and also make a point to forgive others who have wronged you as well!

10.Make a Commitment to Repent for and Stop Any Sins You Are Engaged In

This is easier said than done, but if you look at the way your life is going you’ll begin to realize your sins have already caught up with you or will catch up with you one day or another. Key is to keep struggling against the sin(s) or temptation and never give up.

 11. Attend Tarawih Prayers

Here some tips to get the most out of your tarawih prayers:

http://www.atlantamuslim.com/2014/jul/05/5-ways-improve-tarawih/

12. Learn About the Stories of the Companions of the Prophet SAW

-Learning About the Companions can be a source of Inspiration for Us

-Here is a Great PDF: http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/books/compprophet.pdf

-Youtube Sh. Zahir Mahmood lectures on Youtube, he has some great short clips about the Companions that are Imaan Boosters. There are other lectures too so find them on Youtube.

 13. Make a Commitment to Fast Mondays and Thursdays

-Plan now to fast the extra 10 days after Ramadan–you’ll get used to fasting so why not fast Mondays and

Thursdays?

14. Try to do Ithikhaaf if You Can in the Last 10 Days

If you can’t go to the masjid and stay in the masjid for the full 10 days at least dedicate a few hours on weekends or evenings and make the intention of it counting as an ithikhaaf and inshallah you’ll get the reward for it from Allah. Dedicate the last 10 days of Ramadan just for you and Allah time to ask Him for any of your needs, forgiveness, and use it as a time to realign your life according to the Quran and Sunnah

15. Make it a Habit to Go to the Masjid for Salah

If you’re attending the masjid for Isha and tarawih then after Ramadan stick to at least coming

 

 

Facebook Marriages

FB Marriage

In the Muslim community we have a marriage and divorce crises….one element that usually isn’t spoken about in detail is how we live our married lives on Facebook and other social media and  what a detrimental effect it can have on married life. With that said….let’s get started….

Marriage: A Sacred Trust

Marriage. Yes, we’ve all heard the many scholarly lectures, Quranic verses, hadith, and stories from the seerah regarding marriage.  We know it’s a sunnah and encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and many of us seek to get married or are already married. However, while many of us may intellectually know what marriage is and have an image of what marriage is, but truly don’t understand the essence and institution of marriage. We may be married, but may be struggling to piece together the marriage to make it work or maybe it’s working (alhamdullilah for those couples and keep them strong) or you may be seeking to get married.

Regardless if you’re single or married, we need to realize that in our community we have a severe lack of knowledge and understanding about the institution of marriage and thus, we have a marriage and divorce crisis in our community. Many marriages may be crumbling or not functional at all. We have emotional and domestic violence issues that are swept under the rug, we have miscommunication between husband and wife, we have anger issues, and the list goes on and on. There are several internal and external forces that seek to rip apart the sacred trust and bond of marriage. We must make sure we are not the cause to the best of our ability and ensure that our actions and words in our marriages are in accordance to Quran and Sunnah. Now that may sound vague, we hear “Quran and Sunnah” far too many times, but what is meant by that is that we need to fulfill each others’ rights and lower our wings and quell our egos. This goes for every relationship even with Allah and also with His creation. Thus, our relationship with our spouse (or future spouse) is a constant test and also a blessing for us to ensure we’re fulfilling the rights of our spouse, fulfilling the commandments of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and also ensuring our own spiritual development and connection with Allah is strong.

After your relationship with Allah, marriage is the most intimate relationship you can have with another being. It is a sacred trust and relationship that helps individuals complete according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) half of our deen. We are familiar with the oft quoted ayahs:

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

 [Al-Rum: 21]

It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 [AI-A`raf: 189]

Now, marriage is and can be a very beautiful and dynamic relationship in which both the husband and wife benefit from one another and grow spiritually and emotionally together. They learn about one another and learn about their Creator through their relationship. It can also be very challenging experience which both husband and wife can be tested severely with outside forces or internal forces in the form of weaknesses in both the husband and wife. What binds the husband and wife together is their sacred trust and commitment to one another and their duty to Allah.

As we mentioned before, there are several internal and external forces that seek to destroy marriages. We need to look at the institution of marriage like a fort. You and your spouse (or future spouse) are the guards and must ensure that no external forces breach your fort and cause chaos and destruction. At the same time, you need to ensure that you and your spouse (or future spouse) are working on your internal weaknesses and strive to become strong and build trust, caring, love, understanding, communication and mercy between one another. There are several doors of your fort that fitnah and challenges can enter through so it’s important to remain vigilant and also guard those doors jealously when it comes to your marriage. Our definition of jealousy can often be negative, but there is healthy jealousy in marriages when it comes to protecting the honor and dignity of your spouse and your marriage. Mutually agreed rules, regulations and modes of conduct must be agreed upon by you and your spouse to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and fitnah in the marriage.

Privacy, Facebook and Marriage

 FB Marriage 2

With that said, we come to the main point of this: privacy in marriage. Just as we used the analogy of the fort and several doors being entry points, privacy is one of those doors. There are several ways to destroy a marriage and removing the hijab of privacy from your marriage can destroy trust between spouses. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) elaborated on maintaining the privacy of a marriage:

“On the authority of Asmaa’ bint Yazid who narrated “that she was once in the presence of the Prophet and there were both men and women sitting. The Prophet then said:  “Perhaps a man might discuss what he does with his wife, or perhaps a woman might inform someone what she did with her husband?” The people were silent. Then I said: “O, Yes! O Messenger of Allah verily both the women and men do that.” Then the Prophet said: “Do not do that. It is like a male Satan who meets a female Satan along the way, and has sex with her while the people look on! “

[Reported by Ahmad]

Yes, marriage can be a very joyous occasion and merits celebration. However, when it comes to a point where your married life is starting to be lived on Facebook or other social media it becomes problematic. Several young couples (or even “veteran” couples) post various pictures, statuses, etc. about intimate events, moments or quotes of them or their spouse. When you share intimate moments freely and openly online or with anyone for that matter, it cheapens the value of it. As we mentioned before, marriage is a sacred trust and one of the most intimate relationships you have with another being. Thus, the love, mercy, compassion and feelings you have for one another should be considered a sacred trust. Facebook and other forms of social media you may be connected to on it who neither care about your marriage or may harbor ill-will, may backbite about you and your spouse, use that information against you in a vile way, or may be jealous and overall may hate you without you knowing it.

Imagine if we were to live our lives in real life as we communicated on Facebook. Would we literally go up to everyone we see on the street and tell them about what we had for breakfast with our spouse, what vacation you went on with your spouse, how cute/handsome/beautiful your spouse looked, etc.? The obvious answer to that is no. We would not. We value our relationship with our spouse too much to go tell strangers. When you do expose too much information about yourself and your spouse that is intimate it’s basically like opening every door to your house and letting complete strangers into your house and telling them everything that goes on in your house.

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t share our happiness or joy with others, but do so with discretion.

It’s funny, when we complain about the government spying on us or invading our privacy, yet when we put private lives out on the internet for all to see it isn’t a problem. Whenever we post something on the internet or any social media platform we need to make sure we are not exposing too much of ourselves to people who don’t care or don’t matter to us. Share your intimate moments with people who genuinely care for you and appreciate your comments, thoughts and ideas—not with a random social media network of thousands of people. You want to protect your fort from invaders who may spread rumors or seek to undermine your marriage in other ways.

Now, we mentioned the good stuff people share, but what about the bad stuff? When/if we have marital problems we shouldn’t share them with strangers period. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek the advice of counselors or trained therapists, but don’t go expose your problems with your spouse or their weaknesses to the world. As the Quran says, you are a garment for them and they are a garment for you, thus, you need to cover their problems and shortcomings just as you would expect them to. If you are going through marital problems and you do post them on Facebook or any other social media you may be causing more problems than solving them. When you use Facebook as your counseling tool you’ll realize it’s really not that effective and 99.99% of the time won’t solve your marital problem.

 

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard.

[Al-Nisa: 34]

The above verse addresses women, but also pretty much should be the same mode of thinking for men as well. Protect your spouse’s honor, dignity and character. There will be several shaytaans in the form of “friends” who may drop a rumor or make a comment to character assassinate your spouse. You must know and trust your spouse enough to defend their character, honor and dignity in public. Also, exposing your marital problems essentially opens the door to your house to complete strangers and allows them to literally know what’s happening in every inch of your house. That is the ultimate breach of privacy and allows for more invaders to come and destroy your fortress of marriage.

There have been several instances of how Facebook has broken marriages and caused divorces, so why expose yourself and your spouse to so much scrutiny and unneeded attention. If you value something or someone you should protect them and not put them unnecessarily in harm’s way and allow them to potentially become targets of jealousy and evil-eye.

Think Twice

FB Marriage 3

Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for good and education, however, as with any technology they can have terrible consqeuences. As much as social media has made us more connected it has the ability to make us more narcissistic, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. It also has the ability to make us waste a lot of time which many of us agree 🙂

  With that said, we must be careful about what we post on Facebook and social media in general, but also when it comes to information about our spouse or married life and make sure that what post or say be misconstrued, misinterpreted or used against us. We need to ask ourselves: is this information I am posting up too intimate? Is it private? Can the information or post or comment I put up be misconstrued or misinterpreted? Who is this being shared with? Am I sharing this information with people who genuinely care?

What we post and what we post about can also become the object of gossip and backbiting. Why put someone you love in that position to be exposed to such filth?

“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Qur’an 50:18)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”  ( Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #485)

All in all, we need to think twice about what we post, what we post about and be more protective of our character, honor, dignity and the honor, dignity and character of our loved ones and our spouse (or future spouse).

We need to stop being so concerned with our virtual connections and stop having Facebook Marriage lives and begin having more intimate in-person relationships with our spouse and Allah.