A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 15] The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn

Muslim Matters - 26 March, 2024 - 09:51

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


The Night is Darkest Before the Dawn

by Naved Bakali



Now well in the midst of the month of Ramadan, we are reminded of the importance of our connection to the Quran. Ramadan is the month of the Quran. It was in this month that the Quran was revealed and based on the examples of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the Sahaba [ranhuma], and the pious predecessors of the past, we understand the importance of renewing our connection with the Quran during these blessed days. When I read the Quran, I always try to remind myself that the lessons and stories contained in it are timeless, and just as applicable now as they were when they were first recited from the blessed lips of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Over the years, I have come to realize that, depending on the circumstances one is experiencing, the Quran will impact and speak to you in different ways. For many of us in the current moment, our minds and hearts are with our brothers and sisters in Gaza, who are enduring a genocidal onslaught and famine. It is with our brothers and sisters in Palestine and all over the world enduring oppression that I share some reflections from the 15th Juz of the Quran.

The 15th Juz is composed of two chapters; Surah Al ‘Israa (17th chapter) in its entirety, and most of Surah Al Kahf (18th chapter). These surahs are complementary to one another. Surah Al ‘Israa begins with the glorification of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and Surah Al Kahf begins with the praise of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Both surahs were revealed in Makkah and their revelations speak to the challenges and realities of that period. Lengthy commentaries and tafseer have been written on these two chapters of the Quran. For the purpose of this reflection, I’ll be selectively referring to brief portions of these surahs in attempts to draw lessons from them. From Surah Al ‘Israa I’ll be discussing the first verse and more critically, the timing of the event that this verse describes. Thereafter, I’ll engage in a discussion of Surah Al Kahf and one of stories therein.

Reflections on Surah Al ‘Israa


Verse one of Surah Al ‘Israa states:

“Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al- Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.” [Surah Al ‘Israa: 17;1]

Al Aqsa [PC: Cole Keister (unsplash)]

This verse is describing one of the most significant moments in the Seerah, known as Israa wa al-Mi’raj.  This was the moment when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) engaged in his night journey from the Ka’bah in Makkah to Masjid al-Aqsa in present-day Jerusalem and from there ascended through the heavens to engage in a divine discourse with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to receive the commandment of the daily prayers. There are differences of opinion as to the precise date of this event. According to Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), the passing of Khadija raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) took place before the commandment of the daily prayers.1 As such, evidence suggests that the momentous event of Isra wa al-Mi’raj took place within the last 18 months of the Makkan period of the Sirah.2 It was around this time, in the 10th year of the Prophethood, that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) experienced immense social and emotional challenges. This is referred to as the year of sorrow in the Seerah literature. It was in this year that both the uncle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), Abu Talib and the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) blessed wife Khadija raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) passed away, within 40 days of each other.3 Abu Talib and Khadija raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) represented the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) two pillars of support. Abu Talib, as the head of the Banu Hashim, the most renowned and a powerful clan of the Quraish, extended protection to his beloved nephew, which was essential in the tribal system of Arabia. Khadija raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) through her unwavering love and support of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his mission, was his pillar of emotional support that he needed to endure the challenges of his mission. Upon their passing, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was in a vulnerable state and needed to look beyond Makkah for support. He traveled to the neighboring city of Ta’if, only to be repelled in the most vile and abhorrent fashion. Pelted with stones by the foolish riffraff of the city added to the grief and sorrow experienced by the prophet in these latter years of the Makkan period. In a tradition related in Bukhari, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) had asked the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) if he had ever experienced a day more difficult than Uhud, to this, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) recounted how he was turned away from Ta’if. It was after the difficulties experienced throughout this year that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in His Divine Wisdom willed that the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) go on his miraculous night journey.

The Night Journey: A Tremendous Blessing after Hardship

As is described in Surah Al-Israa, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) had the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) engage in this journey so that He could show the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) some of His Divine signs. This was a miraculous journey into the world of the unseen, where the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) interacted with angels and other divine creatures, led all of the Prophets in prayer, ascended the heavens to greet a number of Prophets and receive council and advice from them, saw the rewards and punishments of the afterlife, had a meeting with the Divine beyond the furthest Lot Tree from behind a veil, and was gifted with the most central act of worship that Muslims were to perform. All earthly conceptions of time, space, and reality were defied on that journey. After experiencing the magnitude of the realm of the unseen and catching a glimpse of a world beyond the stretch of human imagination, how could the residues of worldly pain, concerns, and challenges dim a heart that was imbued with the light of these realities? The timing of this event gives credence to Allah’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying in the Quran:

For truly with hardship comes ease!

Truly with hardship comes ease! [Surah Ash-Sharh: 94;5-6]

As we watch our brothers and sisters in Gaza living through and experiencing a genocide in real-time, our Rohingya brothers and sisters languishing in refugee camps as survivors of a genocide, our Uyghur brothers and sisters being ethnically cleansed from their homeland in East Turkistan through imprisonment in concentration camps, and all of the other places around the world where Muslims are suffering and going through hardships and oppression, we may feel helpless and powerless. At times, we may feel that our prayers, sadaqah, letter campaigns, and protests don’t amount to anything. We should never lose hope and remain steadfast, as the first verse of surah Israa reminds us at its end, Truly, He is the Hearer, the Seer! All of our actions are important and a means for change to take place. Change may come about sooner or later. Regardless of the circumstances we see before us, it is paramount for us to take heed from the lessons of the Quran and to know that with these difficulties and hardships, ease will eventually follow in a way that is befitting to Allah. subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

Surah Kahf


The Night is Darkest

Surah Kahf [PC: Hafizh Haqqani (unsplash)]

The second surah in the 15th Juz is Surah Kahf. Surah Kahf is situated right in the middle of our present-day mushaf. It is a surah that we are encouraged to recite every Jumu’ah, as a tradition relates thatWhoever reads Surat al-Kahf on the day of Jumu’ah, will have a light that will shine from him from one Friday to the next.” Furthermore, among the blessings of this surah is that the opening verses are a protection from one of the greatest fitan that Muslims will face, that of the Dajjal.4

There are four main stories in Surah Kahf: the story of the youth who fled to the cave; the man with the two gardens; the story of Musa and Khidr; and the story of Dhul-Qarnayn. Each of these stories are a treasure trove of lessons and priceless pearls of wisdom. For the sake of brevity, I’ll be reflecting on the first of these stories, from which the surah derives its name.

The Story of the Sleepers of the Cave: Placing this Life in Perspective

The story of the youths who sought refuge in the cave is recounted from verses 9-27 of Surah Al Kahf. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us of their story:

Or have you thought that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder? [Mention] when the youths retreated to the cave and said, “Our Lord, grant us from Yourself mercy and prepare for us from our affair right guidance.” So We cast [a cover of sleep] over their ears within the cave for a number of years. Then We awakened them that We might show which of the two factions was most precise in calculating what [extent] they had remained in time. It is We who relate to you, [O Muhammad], their story in truth. Indeed, they were youths who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression. These, our people, have taken besides Him deities. Why do they not bring for [worship of] them a clear authority? And who is more unjust than one who invents about Allah a lie?” [The youths said to one another], “And when you have withdrawn from them and that which they worship other than Allah , retreat to the cave. Your Lord will spread out for you of His mercy and will prepare for you from your affair facility.” [Surah Al Kahf: 18;9-16]

Classical sources of tafseer bring forth lots of opinions about the details of this story. However, I wanted to focus on the essence of the story encapsulated in the above verses. Ultimately, these youths were sincere people who feared persecution by their society. The threat was so serious that they were forced to hide away, seeking refuge in a cave. They sacrificed their homes, families, and all other comforts and attachments. Viewing this story from a materialistic perspective, these youths lost everything and were destitute. However, in reality, they preserved what was most important and essential. Their faith and beliefs. Our temporal existence when compared to the eternity of the next world, is but a drop in an ocean.

Though I’ve read this story hundreds of times over the years, in light of the deprivation and suffering happening to the people of Gaza, this story holds so much more meaning for me at this moment. It reminds me of the reality of how life can become unbearably difficult, to the point that we may be driven to caves in the mountains. This would be a miserable and pitiful situation to be subjected to by anyone’s reckoning. However, if one can hold fast to what is most important, to what gives meaning to life in this world and ultimate success in the eternal realm of the akhira, the situation described above is success.

Our brothers and sisters in Gaza’s persistence, steadfastness, and will to survive in the face of depraved oppression and brutality is an inspiration and reminder for the ummah of what success in its truest and most raw expression looks like. Their example brings this and so many other lessons in the Quran to life, placing the deceptions of this life in perspective with the realities of the next.



Overcoming Trials | The Message of Surah al Kahf

The Magnificent Journey: Al-Israa’ wal Mi’raaj


1    Ibn al-Athir, Usd al-Ghabah, vol. 7, p. 862    Yasir Qadhhi, The Sirah of the Prophet: A Contemporary Analysis3    Yasir Qadhhi, The Sirah of the Prophet: A Contemporary Analysis4    Al-Jami’ al-Sahih of al-Tirmidhi, 2190; Sunan Abu Dawud, 4321

The post A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 15] The Night Is Darkest Before The Dawn appeared first on

Between Japa And Sapa: Nigerians Unearth Ghosts Of Ramadan Past

Muslim Matters - 26 March, 2024 - 08:31

Iya Alhaja e dide nile, nitori Oloun, saari ti too gbo! 

Baba Alhaji e dide nile, nitori Oloun, nafila ti too ki!

The sound woke me up almost every day, long immeasurable minutes before my mum or Anti Sera, the maid, came to get us up for sahur. “Were”, sung by boys and young men in their early twenties, usually students in the local madrassahs, are irrevocably tied to my childhood memories of Ramadan. Going from street to street, singing with or without the accompaniment of drums, waking the neighborhood to prepare the sahur (for women) or pray supererogatory naafil (for the men) they were the communal wake-up call long before we all had handheld devices with inbuilt alarms. This art form would eventually devolve into Yoruba fuji music, but that is an entirely different subject.

At the time, my family lived in a three-bedroom flat in central Lagos. The compound had two or three buildings (we moved when I was nine, some details have fallen through the cracks of my memory) each with three levels, and three units on each level. With the norms of large family sizes and housing a myriad of distant relatives, there were probably over a hundred people living in that compound. A community unto itself, complete with a mosque just inside the gates, that high occupancy was most keenly noticeable in Ramadan.

From the increased attendance at salah, especially in the first half of the month, to the evening tafsir sessions held in the open expanse of the compound after ’asr every day. These culminated in communal iftar, a potluck-style event where people tried to outdo each other with the food and fruits they provided. We prayed maghrib in that air of fanfare, stomachs stuffed with local seasonal fruits (I was in my late teens the first time I saw a date), different assortments of paps, porridge, and foods we considered ‘snacks’ and placeholders – ogi, akara, moinmoin, tapioca, the list is endlessly varied. After maghrib, everyone retreated to their homes for proper foods, an array of carb-laden dishes that guaranteed half of us children were drowsy by halfway through ashamu (tarawih, in Yoruba.) Two minutes after we were carried or finally crawled into bed, the ‘were’ boys were at it again…


First year of boarding school, all of 11 years old, I was appalled to find out a lot of my Muslim classmates had never fasted before. The school also had no provisions for Ramadan. With a handful of other students, mostly older kids doing the actual work, we managed to extract a concession from the school for a modified meal timing. That was what we got: the standard school-issued breakfast at 4 am, and the cold dishes from lunch served alongside our dinner at 7 pm. Undeterred, we organized and encouraged, assigning different tasks to different students, talking the other kids into joining us. Six years later, when I was graduating, Ramadan was an unmissable event in that Muslim-(by a slight)-majority school. 

Nigerian (Abuja) mosque

Mosque in Abuja [PC: Habila Mazawaje (unsplash)]

Sahur and iftar meals were prepared on a proper, special menu, taking into account the types and quantity of food fasting teenagers needed. Quality, unfortunately, was a feature we’d all learned to give up on within a few weeks of admission. We also began, for the period of the month, to pray in congregation: fajr (after sahur), isha’ and tarawih for which we were exempted from night prep. Initially led by the few male Muslim teachers, we later had a group of student imams, from the few who could recite the Qur’an. Held out in the open assembly ground, the festive air of tarawih – and the dressing accommodation: girls could turn up in colorful wrappers and hijabs over the ugly brown of the school-mandated ‘house-wear’ – resulted in a number of students suddenly discovering long-lost ancestors that were Muslim in their family tree. Everyone was welcome.

For my generation of Nigerian Muslims, university was when we connected spiritually with the deen. Ramadhaan was a particularly heady time, drunk as we were on what we were learning: of aqeedah, and fiqh, and stories of the Prophets and his companions, and Arabic, tajweed, the proper ways of doing our ‘ibaadah… For the first time in our lives, Ramadhaan was more than food and festive community, and we threw ourselves into milking every possible good we could from the month. We ‘raced for the goodness of our Lord.’ Organizing and attending circles of learning, we read the Qur’an and many, many beneficial Islamic books. We spent hours in tarawih, and even longer in our personal qiyaam-u-layl. And we prayed, making elaborate dua’ lists weeks before the month started, to ask for everything we wanted: from good grades and a good life, to brother Abdullaah bin Abdullah (or sister Umm Sulaym) as our chosen partner in both Dunya and Jannah.


As a mother of young children just beginning to build a medical career, the spiritual rituals of my university days are what stayed with me the most. I did not belong to any neighborhood Muslim community like my parents had back in the day: Nigeria had gradually moved into the culture of gated estates, in the face of rising insecurity. Besides, with an early career in medicine and 2 kids under the age of 5, it was all I could do to complete the recitation of the Qur’an once in Ramadan and pray the Salafi-approved 11 raka’ah of my qiyaam. Sahur, iftar, tilaawah, qiyaam: Ramadan became a me-and-my-children affair occasionally accompanied by decorations or a new picture book. This isolation, the loss of community, would be worsened – rather ironically – by our family moving to Saudi Arabia.

In the early 2010s, Saudi life was very segregated and women existed, for the most part, in the domestic realm. This did not change during Ramadan. Unless you were in Makkah, Madina, or another big city, the masaajid remained a male realm. It would take several years of finding myself in this new place, and a move to Madina, to find places open to women for tarawih. And that was the extent of it; even regular halaqaat of hifdh closed for the month. Unless you went to the Haramain, Ramadhaan in Saudia was pretty much a private/familial affair, especially isolating for a foreign female-led household. I yearned for the Nigerian Ramadhaan of my childhood.


Dates [PC: Saj Shafique (unsplash)]

When you move away, though, home moves on, too. The march of time is relentless, and time has not been kind to the Nigerian economy. For Nigerians living in Nigeria, the Ramadans I kept alive in my memories are a thing of the past. Many of them answered my call on Twitter, sharing their childhood memories of the month. Mayowa Oladeji, who was born of an interfaith marriage and accepted Islam as a teenager had this to say, “Lagos in the 90s, sweltering under the Harmattan’s dusty caress, hummed with a different rhythm during Ramadan. I, a curious eight-year-old, wasn’t a Muslim at the time, but Ramadan was an annual spectacle that painted my childhood memories in vibrant hues.”

“The pre-dawn call to prayer, a haunting melody echoing through the labyrinthine streets, would jolt me awake. I’d peek out the window, mesmerized by the silhouettes of neighbors scurrying towards the mosque, prayer mats clutched under their arms. The day stretched long, punctuated by the aroma of steaming moin-moin and golden akara wafting from nearby kitchens…

Come sunset, the world transformed. The muezzin’s call, this time a joyous song, ripped through the lazy twilight. Laughter crackled like electricity as neighbors emerged from their homes, faces aglow with anticipation. The air buzzed with an infectious excitement, a communal joy I yearned to share.

The mosque courtyard, usually quiet, became a vibrant tapestry of activity. Colorful prayer mats covered the ground, children chased each other in gleeful abandon, and elders sipped on dates, their faces etched with contentment. As the call to Maghrib prayer resonated, I’d stand mesmerized, watching rows of people bow in unison, their voices rising in a collective hum of gratitude.

The communal feast that followed was a sensory explosion. Platters heaped with jollof rice, spicy stews, and mountains of fried chicken were passed around, eliciting delighted gasps and satisfied sighs. Laughter mingled with the clinking of cutlery, creating a symphony of joy that resonated long after the last morsel was devoured.

As the days of Ramadan unfolded, I absorbed its spirit. I learned the value of patience, the power of community, and the sheer joy of giving. The dusty haze of Harmattan became a backdrop for a season of generosity, where the true feast wasn’t just for the stomach but for the soul. Even today, the Ramadan moon evokes a childhood memory painted in warmth, laughter, and the sweet taste of togetherness, a reminder that joy can bloom even in the harshest of environments.”

Unlike Mayowa, looking as he was from the outside, one of the most common threads of childhood Ramadhaan memories mentioned by the respondents raised Muslim include getting treats, as kids, for participating in Ramadhaan rituals: tins of milk after tarawih, gifts for the one who fasted the most among siblings, monetary gifts for every day fasted – varying from family to family, Nigerian Muslims from across different parts and ethnicities made the children included and invested in Ramadhaan. 

The act of singing by madrassah boys to signify sahur time, called by different names in local languages, cut across geo-political zones. The communal tafsir / Islamic lecture sessions, after asr in some places, at night in others, was another recurrent memory. As is, by the overwhelming majority, the communal feel of iftar. Breaking the fast together as a community, potluck style so everyone brought what they could and no one went hungry appears to loom largest in the collective memory of Nigerian Muslims, home and in the diaspora.


Almost all of that is non-existent in the Nigerian Ramadhaan experience of today. The economic freefall and rising insecurity has driven the month more and more to an individual/family event, rather than a communal one. “People can no longer afford to feed other people,” Hawa says. “People no longer give gifts.” The Nigerians who can afford to, now exist behind locked doors and gates of their homes and estates; everyone is suspicious of everyone else. 

The communal iftar of our collective childhood memories have devolved into a spate of food distribution campaigns with unoriginal names and slogans. We assuage our guilt by donating money to ‘charities’ that display no transparency. And they hand out meal packages to the most desperate members of our community, the only ones who engage with those ‘Feed a Fasting Person’ type drives. Everyone else “no longer trusts enough to eat food from other people,” Hawa concluded.

Within the confines of their homes, too, Nigerians are not smiling with the impact of the economy on their Ramadan. “The abundance of fruits for iftar has almost been erased,’ Saeedah says. Rafeeah agrees, “the food options and variety…It costs too much now…” Gone are the days of pounding yam for sahur almost every day, and iftar spreads every night. Nigerians back home have had to adjust to a leaner, lonelier version of the month, just like those of us in the diaspora. 

And maybe there is space here for a conversation about moderation and the spirit of Ramadan, about focusing on spirituality and not food (or even community), about how full moon upon full moon would pass and there would be no cooking fire kindled in the house of Rasulullah. Or how many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world – Palestine, Sudan, Yemen – do not have the little we take for granted. Yet for many Nigerians the nostalgia for the Ramadan of old lingers, even as we tighten our metaphorical girdles for the ones to come.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) make us from those who benefit from Ramadan.



Islam In Nigeria [Part I]: A History

‘Religious’ Violence in Nigeria fueled by Poverty and Ethnicity?

The post Between Japa And Sapa: Nigerians Unearth Ghosts Of Ramadan Past appeared first on

Desperate Tories, shameless lies

Indigo Jo Blogs - 25 March, 2024 - 23:49
A black-and-white picture of Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, a middle-aged clean-shaven Asian man. In this picture he has a noticeably dour expression.Sadiq Khan

Today the Tories published on their Twitter/X account a video claiming that Sadiq Khan’s London was the model for how the country would be governed if Labour were to win the forthcoming general election, and it is the most bizarre apocalyptic video I’ve ever seen from a mainstream political party. The video is in black and white and features a voice with a faint American accent telling us that London’s “ancient streets bear witness to a different tale, not of kings and queens but of crime and desperation” as a result of being governed by the Labour party. This itself is a dubious claim; the Tories have been in power for 14 years and the police have seen cuts during that time as has the rest of the public sector. But the video contains two outright lies, one of them libellous.

This is the first:

In the depths of these narrow passageways tread squads of ULEZ enforcers, dressed in black, faces covered with masks, terrorising communities at the beck and call of their Labour mayor.

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone and means that people who drive older cars that emit higher levels of pollution have to pay a charge to drive them in London. People living in London who own them have had to sell or alternatively accept a scrappage fee from the mayor’s office. This may seem harsh, but it’s about protecting people’s health; pollution from cars damages people’s lungs, and sometimes kills. ULEZ enforcement is mostly done through roadside cameras and sometimes with detector vans with the same cameras used in mobile speed cameras, the same as with the congestion charge and previous versions of the Low Emission Zone. The only people running round with masks are the people sabotaging ULEZ cameras and anything else perceived to be ULEZ infrastructure, including in some cases traffic lights. ULEZ was bipartisan until the Tories realised it was unpopular in outer London when it contributed to them winning the Uxbridge by-election unexpectedly; in fact, the government insisted that Khan expand the scheme to cover all of London as a way of paying back debts Transport for London ran up during the pandemic.

The video then claims that the streets of London are empty as a result of “a tax on driving implemented by their Labour mayor master”, which “forces people to stay inside or go underground”. Perhaps they mean to take the Underground, which is a rail system which serves much of central and north London. Nobody is forced to stay inside anymore; they weren’t even during the height of the coronavirus lockdowns when we were still allowed out to exercise and shop.

It continues:

Gripped by the tendrils of rising crime, London’s citizens stay inside. The streets are quiet; quieter at night now than they used to be. A 54% increase in knife crime since the Labour mayor seized power has the metropolis teetering on the edge of chaos.

The original version of this video included scenes shot in a New York subway station; that scene has been replaced in the version currently available. This doesn’t change the main issue with the claim, however.

The claim that the mayor seized power is simply a flat out lie, and indeed is libellous. The mayor won a free and fair election carried out under a Conservative government. Their candidate Zac Goldsmith might have stood a chance, but the party hired Lynton Crosby to run a divisive, racist campaign, accusing him of being friends with terrorists and of being a threat to Hindus’ jewellery collections and an enemy of India’s fascist PM Narendra Modi. Anyone who lives in London can confirm that people aren’t staying at home; they are going about their business and getting out and having fun, as much as they can given the cost of living crisis made much worse by Brexit. Maybe it’s true that the streets are quieter than they were before the pandemic, but pandemics do that; they change people’s habits, at least for a time.

The video then claims that Sadiq Khan favours decriminalising drug use, which may or may not be true, but Sadiq Khan also is not Labour leader or even an MP anymore. He alleges that when Labour is in power “crime goes up, justice goes down” and that in London “the scales of justice remain tipped in favour of the darkness, leaving them to navigate the shadows alone”. This has nothing to do with Khan but with the Tories’ cuts which have run down the court system, underpaid the legal profession until they went on strike, and caused delays of years to criminal trials; in some cases defendants jailed on remand have had to be released, because the lengthy imprisonment was deemed inappropriate for someone who had not been convicted.

Politicians telling lies is nothing new; usually the lies consist of stretching the truth somewhat, or making a possibility out to be a fact, or using words in an ideological way as if that were fact rather than opinion. This is a straightforward personal accusation and Sadiq Khan is quite entitled now to sue the party for libel. One wonders if the Tories have just lost the plot, or were motivated by desperation or arrogance to put out a video so riddled with brazen untruths.

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The Guardian World news: Islam - 25 March, 2024 - 16:23

After years as the only Muslim woman on the comedy circuit, the standup is now making history with a female touring troupe. She relives the attacks she faced on the way, from ‘letterbox’ burqa taunts to Isis allegations

For years, Muslim women have been the butt of the joke. We have been described as looking like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” by the likes of Bernard Manning and Boris Johnson. And from Jack “take off your veils” Straw to Donald Trump, who said at least we “don’t have to put on makeup”, white men in power have continuously attacked us for cheap laughs.

We couldn’t retaliate. We were the voiceless, faceless, humourless, powerless underdogs of society. While white women operated in a variety of roles – pop stars, models, newsreaders, politicians – we were only ever seen baking cakes in a burqa or becoming Jihadi brides.

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Women need the mosque

Indigo Jo Blogs - 24 March, 2024 - 23:46
A picture of a large white mosque with three domes, one much bigger than the other two, and four minarets in the Turkish style. There is red scaffolding on part of the building. In the background are mountains, with a gap in the middle.The Namazgah mosque in Tirana, Albania

The issue of women’s access to the mosque and the inadequate space for women in many mosques in the UK has been a thorny issue in the community for decades, way back before blogs (though this blog has covered it in the past); the issue was covered in at least one issue of Q-News back in the day. Many mosques in the UK simply have no spaces for women to pray at all; many have a fraction of the space afforded to men, and often the space is inaccessible or inadequate: dingy, dirty, lacking ablution facilities, lacking access to the imam. The root of the problem seems to lie in the custom “back home” in India and Pakistan where it’s not usual for women to pray in the mosque and where the dominant scholarly understanding is that they should not. Earlier today I saw a brother who did not use an actual name, just a Twitter handle, post a long series of proofs for not allowing women into the mosque, or restricting their access to them, dismissing the women who objected as ‘emotional’ and being addressed by someone else as ‘Maulana’. Yet he failed to grasp the differences between the time when those narrations happened, and today, and it’s not just “that was such a better time than today”.

We aren’t living in a mostly Muslim country. We are (allegedly) three to four million out of seventy million in the UK. In Madinah, Kufah or Baghdad in the early centuries of Islam, there were Muslim institutions that were capable of attending to Muslims’ needs in one way or another. In the UK now, the major Muslim spaces in most towns and cities are mosques, or at least a mosque is their centrepiece — sometimes there is a canteen, a shop, various offices, a lecture hall, a clinic and a few other amenities but it will be called a mosque even if it’s officially titled the “Islamic Centre”. There are Muslim businesses such as restaurants, but those aren’t places many Muslim women consider it safe or appropriate to be. But the primary purpose of a mosque is a space to pray, and the prayer is a duty, and the prerequisites of a duty, the things that make it possible, are also duties. Yes, it’s permissible to put a prayer mat down anywhere, in the street or the office, but the mosque is a place designed for Muslims to offer the Islamic ritual prayer and the street is not. A mosque has a marked qibla (prayer direction) and a washing room designed for the ritual ablution; the street and office do not. Crucially, a mosque offers a place where prayer can be offered without distraction or interruption; the street does not. The street is not even a safe place to pray in many places, especially for women.

There is another reason that perhaps did not apply in the time of the early Muslims: in England in particular, we have a short day in the winter time and there are three prayer times within about four hours in the afternoon. If a family is making a shopping trip, for example, to kit out a new home, they will likely need to pray at least once. Some shopping centres have prayer rooms, but most do not. How can it be justified to allow the men to perform their duty but not the women? Of course, women work, and some of these jobs really need doing by a woman, so the demand that they should “just stay home” does not hold any water. Some women are converts who actually need to go to the mosque as their families will not tolerate their salaat; others have homes that are not peaceful and they cannot count on being able to pray undisturbed. Others are homeless.

Women do not have to attend the mosque to the same degree men have to. The Friday congregational prayer, in particular, is not compulsory for them. However, a congregational prayer is the principal opportunity people have to hear the Qur’an being recited properly by a human voice rather than a tape of it and to receive in-person Islamic education or counsel, and to pray in the company of other Muslims undisturbed. We all know that the company of practising Muslims is important for maintaining iman; the mosque is where many of us meet other Muslims and make friends. It’s also important for receiving good advise and correcting mistakes that might not come to anyone’s attention if women just did what these men think they should and prayed at home. In a situation where Muslims are a minority, the justifications these men provide for denying women access to the mosque do not hold any water. It’s a practice which is damaging to the community.

Back in the early 2000s, there was a book published called “Port in a Storm” by Shaikh Nuh Keller, demonstrating that the correct direction of prayer in North America was north-east rather than south-east, as this was the straight line to Makkah in light of the curvature of the earth. I thought this was a strange position to take given that Makkah is both south and east of anywhere in the USA, and mentioned to a brother at a gathering that this ruling would mean that the qibla in some places, such as Seattle, would be more north than east. “Would the salaf (early Muslims) have done such a thing?” I asked a brother. “The salaf weren’t living in Seattle,” he responded. The salaf also weren’t living in England where three prayer times occur between 12 noon and 4pm in the winter, and were the powerful group in their society at all times except when in Makkah in the first few years of the mission. They were not vulnerable. The mosque was not the only Muslim space and there was not the need for it that there is here. Any organisation running a mosque that clings to Subcontinental custom and refuses Muslim women the benefits of access to the mosque is failing to serve its community’s needs and obstructing people from fulfilling their duties in Islam. And Allah knows best.

Image source: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, via Wikimedia. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (BY-SA) 4.0 licence.

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IOK Ramadan: Becoming People of Truth | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep11]

Muslim Matters - 24 March, 2024 - 16:00

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters is pleased to host the Institute Of Knowledge‘s daily Ramadan series: Keys to the Divine Compass. Through this series, each day we will spend time connecting with the Qur’an on a deeper, more spiritual, uplifting level.

Previous in the series: Juz 1 Juz 2 Juz 3 Juz 4 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9 Juz 10

Juzʾ 11: Becoming People of Truth


Bismillah-ir Raḥmān-ir Raḥīm. All praise to Allah and peace and salutations upon his servant and final messenger Muḥammad (pbuh), Assalāmu ‘Alaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh!

Welcome to another episode of our Ramaḍān Reflection series, Keys to the Divine Compass, where we go over verses of the Qur’an from every Juz throughout the month of Ramaḍān so that we can derive lessons and apply them to our lives.

InshaAllah today I will be going over verse 119 from Sūrah al-Tawbah (Sūrah 9) in which Allah (swt) says, “Oh you who believe, fear Allah (swt) and be with those who are truthful.” This verse can be understood by its context. On the surface, it is simple: those who believe should fear Allah (swt), be with those who are truthful, and speak the truth. For the believer, the biggest truth that we can proclaim, acknowledge, and speak of is the truth of Allah (swt) creating us, creating us with a purpose, and giving us guidance to that purpose through revelation and the prophets. That is the biggest truth that every creation of Allah (swt) can acknowledge and the biggest truth that any creation of Allah (swt) can ignore. So, at a very basic level, Allah (swt) is instructing the believers to be with the people who continuously acknowledge Allah (swt), believe in Him, and obey Him.

However, this verse also comes at the conclusion of a particular incident that we know from the Hadith. You see, in verse 119 Allah (swt) reminds us to be with those who are truthful and in verse 118 Allah (swt) refers to the three individuals who did not participate in the campaign of Tabuk, the most prominent of them being Ka‘b bin Mālik (R). If you look in, for example, Imam Nawawī’s Riyādh al-Ṣaliḥīn, in the second chapter, the chapter of repentance, one of the longest narrations is where Ka‘b (R) recounts how he had procrastinated leaving Madinah and joining the Prophet (pbuh) and the ṣaḥābah for the campaign, and had procrastinated to the point where the Prophet (pbuh) was already on his way back. When he returned, he presented himself to the Prophet (pbuh) and was truthful. He told him that he had no legitimate reason for staying back even though the Prophet (pbuh) ordered everyone to join the campaign. The other two companions, Murārah ibn Rabī‘ (R) and Hilāl bin Umayyah (R), did not have legitimate excuses for staying behind either. The hypocrites, on the other hand, were coming to the Prophet (pbuh) and giving all sorts of excuses which the Prophet (pbuh) just accepted. The Prophet (pbuh) did not call them out on their excuses even though he knew they were making it up. The Prophet (pbuh) told the companions that their judgment would be given by Allah (swt) and they were socially boycotted until then. In verse 118 Allah (swt) talks about how the earth felt constricted upon them despite its vastness, and they knew that the only refuge they had was from Allah (swt). When Allah (swt) revealed this verse, it was an indication that their Tawbah (repentance) had been accepted and they were subsequently welcomed back into the community.

So, these verses talk about the difference between the believers and the hypocrites who stayed behind and did not join the campaign of Tabuk, but one group was honest about why they stayed behind and the other group made excuses. Allah (swt) follows that with a verse that instructs us to be with those who are truthful, as in the believers should not be like the hypocrites. Be like those who are honest, be like those who stick to the truth even when the truth is difficult to say. This is of course applicable to our practice as well. As Muslims, when we acknowledge Allah (swt) and acknowledge our obligation to follow the revelation and the example of the Prophet (pbuh), we are acknowledging that our actions and our words are supposed to align, that our hearts and our bodies are supposed to align, that our public lives and private lives are supposed to align. When we say the things that we do not do ourselves this is having hypocrisy within ourselves. When we do things that we should not do and then tell others to do the opposite, that this is a sin. When we commit a sin ourselves and encourage people to worship but we ourselves do not worship, this is the edge of hypocrisy. It is something that can have devastating consequences for a person because it deludes a person into thinking that they are an obedient believer, that if I know what should be done but do not do what should be done, I am still okay. But it is not okay. Allah (swt) reminds us that being truthful means having every aspect of our lives be aligned with what is the truth, to be like those ṣaḥābah who confronted the truth and stuck with the truth even though they knew the potential consequences of it. The hypocrites who really had no care or concern had no problem saying something and doing the opposite, and we do not want to be from amongst that group.


May Allah (swt) guide us, protect us, give us the ability to always stay with what is the truth, acknowledge the truth, see the truth for what it is, apply the truth to our lives, have our actions be aligned with our words, have our hearts be aligned with our words, and have our public lives and private lives be in alignment with each other. Assalāmu ‘Alaykum wa Raḥmatullāhi wa Barakātuh.

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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 13] Bringing Oppressors To Justice

Muslim Matters - 24 March, 2024 - 10:58

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


Juz’ 13: Reflections on Bringing Oppressors to Justice

by Nada Shalash


[I want to first start with a disclaimer that I am not an expert or a scholar, and these are simply my personal reflections on the 13th juz.] 

Juz 13 is a special one. It contains the remainder of Surat Yusuf, the only surah with a single story as its theme, relayed in order from beginning to end. It is a surah that teaches us the importance of patience and trusting in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) plan. It is among “the best of stories” [Surah Yusuf: 12;3] and a beautiful example of how, in the end, everything ultimately comes together perfectly according to His Divine Decree, and in this is a lesson for those with albab (minds) [Surah Yusuf: 12;111]. It contains what I find to be one of the most comforting ayat when experiencing sadness or hardship:

“He said, ‘I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know.’” [Surah Yusuf: 12;86].

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the one who hears and understands you when no one else does. 

Surat Al-Ra’d contains one of my favorite ayat in the entire Quran, aya 28, which says that indeed,

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.

Surat Ibrahim contains another one of my favorites [14:24-25] demonstrating the beauty of good speech. 

However, what I want to focus on is the last 11 ayat of Surat Ibrahim. One of the reasons I chose to write about juz 13 in particular is that I found myself frequently thinking of and reflecting on these ayat in the past five months in the context of the genocide in Gaza. Each ayah in the Quran deserves pause and reflection, and subhanAllah it is incredibly powerful that different ayat can take on new meaning or be particularly relevant based on something you are going through or something happening in the world.



“And never think that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only delays them for a Day when eyes will stare [in horror].” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;42]

This ayah in particular has taken on a new light in the past five months. Israel has been indiscriminately bombing civilians in Gaza,  using deliberate starvation of the population as a weapon of war, blocking humanitarian aid, attacking aid convoys (the Flour Massacre being one of many horrific examples), and committing several other violations of international law. 

And Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not unaware of what the oppressors do. 

Even if they manage to get away with it in this life, they will definitely be punished in the next. A lot of people watching what is unfolding in Gaza over the past few months have wondered how this oppression can continue without any significant consequences so far besides the ICJ case brought forth by South Africa. I take comfort in knowing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not unaware of the wrongdoing, and is only delaying oppressors and wrongdoers until the Hereafter. 

Note that this is not a justification for being complicit or refusing to take action now to end the genocide in Gaza in whatever way you can. As Muslims, we have an obligation to advocate for justice and speak up for people experiencing oppression (I will expand on this in a future piece inshaAllah). However, I take comfort in knowing that advocacy (and proper journalism) should continue while also knowing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is All-Hearing and All-Knowing and will surely bring oppressors to justice.

“Racing ahead, their heads raised up, their glance does not come back to them, and their hearts are void.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;43]

“And, [O Muhammad], warn the people of a Day when the punishment will come to them and those who did wrong will say, “Our Lord, delay us for a short term; we will answer Your call and follow the messengers.” [But it will be said], “Had you not sworn, before, that for you there would be no cessation?” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;44]


“And you lived among the dwellings of those who wronged themselves, and it had become clear to you how We dealt with them. And We presented for you [many] examples.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;45]

“And they had planned their plan, but with Allah is [recorded] their plan, even if their plan had been [sufficient] to do away with the mountains.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;46]

The next few ayat continue describing what oppressors/wrongdoers will experience on the Day of Judgement. Their hearts are empty due to extreme fear and fright. They will ask for respite from the torment they are experiencing. Those who wrong themselves by disobeying and disbelieving in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), or wrong others by oppressing them (or both) will experience this torment and wish it were possible for them to be delayed in their punishment.


“So never think that Allah will fail in His promise to His messengers. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Owner of Retribution.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;47]


“[It will be] on the Day the earth will be replaced by another earth, and the heavens [as well], and all creatures will come out before Allah , the One, the Prevailing.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;48]

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) always keeps His promises and is fully capable of punishment. I find ayah 48 a very powerful and stark reminder. In particular, the phrasing of the Day of Judgement as replacing/changing the earth and the heavens is a profound description of how temporary this life is. In the context of bringing oppressors to justice, I also think of it as a reminder that ultimate victory and ultimate justice are near because the Day will come when the earth and heavens are replaced and everyone will be held accountable.


“And you will see the criminals that Day bound together in shackles,” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;49]

“Their garments of liquid pitch and their faces covered by the Fire.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;50]


“So that Allah will recompense every soul for what it earned. Indeed, Allah is swift in account.”[Surah Ibrahim: 14:51]

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) holds everyone accountable for their actions and in accordance with the deeds they have committed, and these ayat explain how wrongdoers will be held accountable for theirs.



“This [Qur’an] is notification for the people that they may be warned thereby and that they may know that He is but one God and that those of understanding will be reminded.” [Surah Ibrahim: 14;52]

Just like in the end of surat Yusuf as mentioned earlier, this is a lesson for those with minds. These ayat serve as a reminder for the believers to fear Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) punishment, and to internalize that everyone who transgresses in this life will not get away with it forever. 

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alleviate the suffering of the oppressed of the Ummah, and grant them His promised justice against the oppressors.



Oppressors Beware & Oppressed Be Comforted: IOK Ramadan Reflections Series #13

Palestine: Reflecting, Responding, and Moving Forward


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IOK Ramadan: True Love | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep10]

Muslim Matters - 24 March, 2024 - 05:00

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters is pleased to host the Institute Of Knowledge‘s daily Ramadan series: Keys to the Divine Compass. Through this series, each day we will spend time connecting with the Qur’an on a deeper, more spiritual, uplifting level.

Previous in the series: Juz 1 Juz 2 Juz 3 Juz 4 Juz 5 Juz 6 Juz 7 Juz 8 Juz 9

Juzʾ 10: True Love

Juzʾ 10 Contains: Sūrah al-Anfāl – al-Tawbah (#8-9)

Al-Tawbah (9): 24

قُلۡ إِن كَانَ ءَابَاۤؤُكُمۡ وَأَبۡنَاۤؤُكُمۡ وَإِخۡوَ ٰ⁠نُكُمۡ وَأَزۡوَ ٰ⁠جُكُمۡ وَعَشِیرَتُكُمۡ وَأَمۡوَ ٰ⁠لٌ ٱقۡتَرَفۡتُمُوهَا وَتِجَـٰرَةࣱ تَخۡشَوۡنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَـٰكِنُ تَرۡضَوۡنَهَاۤ أَحَبَّ إِلَیۡكُم مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ وَجِهَادࣲ فِی سَبِیلِهِۦ فَتَرَبَّصُوا۟ حَتَّىٰ یَأۡتِیَ ٱللَّهُ بِأَمۡرِهِۦۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا یَهۡدِی ٱلۡقَوۡمَ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقِینَ ۝٢٤

My Prophet! Tell the believers, ‘If your parents, children, siblings, spouses, families, wealth you’ve earned, deals and contracts that you’re worried might fail, and/or the properties that you enjoy are more beloved and dear to you than Allāh, His Messenger, and fighting/striving in The Path of God, then just wait until the decision of Allāh comes! Allāh does not guide transgressive people.’


He makes it clear that if we love

  1. Our Parents
  2. Our Children
  3. Our Siblings
  4. Our Spouses
  5. Our Families
  6. Our Earned Money
  7. Our Businesses that we’re afraid to lose
  8. Our Homes that we love

more than Allāh, The Prophet ﷺ, and fighting and striving in God’s Path, then we need to just wait until the Command of Allāh comes. But what is “the Command of Allāh – أمر الله” in this āyah referring to? There are two main opinions among the companions and their students: (a) the victory of Allāh via the Conquest of Makkah and (b) the punishment of Allāh (see Zād Al-Muyassar by Ibn Al-Jawzī raḥimahu Allāh).

This āyah (verse) is in reference to the believers who were still living in Makkah, even while the Prophet ﷺ and Muslims were living in Al-Madīnah. They had to migrate (hijrah), but they didn’t due to their love of one or more of the eight categories just mentioned. They had the physical and financial ability to perform hijrah (migration), but they didn’t. As a result, Allāh told His Prophet ﷺ to address them in a very stern manner: who do you love more? Are you willing to sacrifice everything for The One True God Allāh, or not? And if you are not ready and willing to do anything and everything for His Sake, then go ahead and wait until the punishment of Allāh comes. We can also understand it in a less harsh tone, wherein they are being told to wait until the Conquest of Makkah, at which point the obligation of migration (hijrah) will drop off.


With that in mind, the Qurʾān is still applicable to us, even if the context of revelation was specific to certain individuals. Who do I love more? Am I more likely to obey Allāh and His Messenger ﷺ, even if my family wants me to disobey? Or am I more likely to give in to the peer pressure of my family at the expense of ignoring the rules of Allāh? What am I willing to sacrifice for the sake of Allāh? Am I willing to give up some financial gain if that means I will earn money in a way that Allāh has permitted? Or am I excited to use impermissible means to earn massive amounts of money, all the while opening the door of the punishment of Allāh?


To summarize, there are 4 categories of balancing love:

  1. Loving Allāh and The Prophet ﷺ more than everything
    1. This is the highest and best category. I will never prioritize anything above their judgment. I will gladly sacrifice worldly pleasures, luxuries, and enjoyment if that means I will earn the pleasure of Allāh ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ.
  2. Loving Allāh and The Prophet ﷺ less, but still fulfilling their rights
    1. This is not good, but can be acceptable in a practical manner. Someone’s heart may have a stronger attachment to their family or their wealth, but they will still take time away to obey Allāh by praying, fasting, giving zakāh, performing Ḥajj, taking care of others, and having good character. They may have a hard time going above and beyond, and excelling, but they are fulfilling the bare minimum requirements set by Allāh.
    2. We must work on ourselves to grow, deepen, and strengthen our love for Allāh ﷻ, and make His Reward our number one goal.
  3. Loving Allāh and The Prophet ﷺ less, and failing to fulfill their rights
    1. This is unacceptable. We can never find ourselves in a state wherein we neglect the duties, morals, and lifestyle given to us by Allāh ﷻ and His Messenger. This requires us to seek His forgiveness (istighfār) and turn our life around (tawbah). We cannot continue a life in this state. We are open and susceptible to the anger and punishment of Allāh.
    2. We must start by forcing ourselves to obey Him ﷻ, learn about Him ﷻ, and wholeheartedly submit our lives, wealth, and beings to Him ﷻ.
  4. Not loving Allāh and The Prophet ﷺ at all
    1. We simply cannot be a part of this category. Once we believe in Allāh as our One True God, and Muḥammad as His Messenger, there has to be even the slightest bit of love.


Allāh has made it clear that we must love Him, His Prophet ﷺ, and submitting ourselves to His Will. Or else we’re in for possible punishment, and being considered amongst the fāsiqīn, those who transgress the bounds set by Allāh.


When it comes to truly loving Allāh and His Messenger, the Prophet ﷺ said:

  1. لاَ يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى أَكُونَ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ وَالِدِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ
    1. “None of you will truly believe – your faith will not be perfectly complete – until I (The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ) and more beloved and dear to him than his own parents, children, and all of humanity.” Narrated by Abū Hurayrah (raḍiya Allāh ʿanh) and Anas ibn Mālik (raḍiya Allāh ʿanh) in Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
    2. This can be considered as an explanation of the āyah above from Sūrah Al-Tawbah. We may have “some” level of faith (Īmān), but it is not complete until The Prophet ﷺ is more dear to us than all other people.
  2. ثَلاَثٌ مَنْ كُنَّ فِيهِ وَجَدَ حَلاَوَةَ الإِيمَانِ أَنْ يَكُونَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَحَبَّ إِلَيْهِ مِمَّا سِوَاهُمَا وَأَنْ يُحِبَّ الْمَرْءَ لاَ يُحِبُّهُ إِلاَّ لِلَّهِ وَأَنْ يَكْرَهَ أَنْ يَعُودَ فِي الْكُفْرِ كَمَا يَكْرَهُ أَنْ يُقْذَفَ فِي النَّارِ
    1. “Whoever has the following three (3) qualities has tasted and experience the sweetness of Faith (Īmān). (1) Loving Allāh and The Prophet ﷺ more than anything and anyone else. (2) Loving someone for the sake of Allāh alone. (3) Hating to become a disbeliever, just like you hate being thrown into Hell.” Narrated by Anas ibn Mālik (raḍiya Allāh ʿanh) in Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim
    2. We see that quality and condition #1 again has to do with ensuring that we love Allāh ﷻ and His Messenger ﷺ more than anyone else

The post IOK Ramadan: True Love | Keys To The Divine Compass [Ep10] appeared first on

Ramadan Guilt: The (Very) Unwanted Visitor

Muslim Matters - 23 March, 2024 - 23:15

We’re well into Ramadan: the blessed month we all hope will breathe new life into our weary souls. But we often fall short of the plans we had, the goals we set, and an unwanted visitor -Ramadan guilt- soon arrives to sabotage our opportunity for renewal.

Feeling guilty, about not doing more or exerting ourselves like others are, is something we’ve all experienced. But sometimes these feelings go too far.

I remember a close friend once confiding that she wasn’t looking forward to Ramadan; even though she was surrounded by people buzzing with motivational reminders, her main experience of the month was one of self-loathing.

Where do these feelings come from? And how can we overcome them?

Feelings of guilt and inadequacy about Ramadan are part of a larger pattern of limiting beliefs and negative self-talk that are likely manifesting in many areas of our lives. Doubting our abilities, beating ourselves up about our mistakes, and comparing ourselves to others are some of the ways this negativity crops up.

Here are seven ways to overcome these feelings:

  1. Recognize that it’s from Shaytan

Each one of us has a companion from the jinn whose job it is to whisper evil thoughts to us. They’re a creative lot, and they try everything to turn us away from good deeds and towards evil deeds (or, if they’re unsuccessful, useless deeds).

Because they have no power except to suggest, these whispers are all-important tools. If we can be persuaded to believe that we’re unworthy—by convincing us to despair, think negatively of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), or think negatively of ourselves—our desire and motivation to do good will be eliminated.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qur’an that Shaytan is a clear enemy to us and that his life mission is to lead us all astray.Surah Fatir - ramadan guilt

“Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze.” [Surah Fatir: 35;6]

And Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

Once we recognize that these thoughts are from Shaytan, we can begin to challenge them.

  1. Shift your mindset

Worship (PC: Muhsin CK [unsplash])

Remembering what Ramadan is all about will help us see it as the gift it is—not the burden it becomes if we’ve placed unreachable expectations on ourselves. 

It’s the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed, to bring humanity out of darkness and into light. In a world where we’ve witnessed the depths of depravity human beings can reach, we need to hold on to the guidance we’ve been blessed with.

We can all agree that we need to better understand the Qur’an and apply it in our lives, and that we desperately need its comfort and healing.

Tapping into the “why” behind our Ramadan goals can help us see the bigger picture and let go of some of the details. If you’re not able to read as much Qur’an as you planned to, it’s okay. Just read whatever you can. As long as you’re moving in the right direction, you’re succeeding. And remember that actions are judged by intentions; perhaps you will get the entire reward of what you intended even if it didn’t happen.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others

One of the most damaging things to our well-being—in all matters—is comparing ourselves to others. In the context of Ramadan, this is often what directly leads to the consuming guilt that we feel. All around us, we see people completing the reading of the Qur’an (sometimes multiple times), standing for hours in prayer, and doing acts of charity. What if we can’t live up to that?

It’s simple; we don’t have to. Each one of us has different circumstances, responsibilities, and struggles. And Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows about them more than you do!

Instead of looking at others, compare yourself to yourself. What can you do during these blessed days that you don’t usually do outside of Ramadan? What habits do you want to build that you can carry forward after the month is over?

Remember, choosing what deeds to do during Ramadan is very personal. What’s possible for you? What’s beloved to you? What will increase your iman? Then do it consistently, no matter how small.

Remember also that just as there are many gates to Jannah, there are many ways to do good. With the right intention, all your interactions and all the work you normally do—a nine-to-five job, parenting, activism, writing, even cooking—can be converted into good deeds.

  1. Be practical

Avoid setting yourself up for disappointment by steering clear of goals that are unrealistic for your particular circumstances. If it’s not possible for you to pray daily at the masjid, for example, or finish reading the Qur’an, what’s the next best thing?

Ask yourself what’s doable for you, and try to stick to it. Remember, worship is not an all-or-nothing affair. If you can’t pray eight rak’ahs of taraweeh, you can still pray two; if you can’t read an entire juz, you can still read one page.

Remember that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is aware of your circumstances, and He is Appreciative of any effort you make to come closer to Him. Also, remember what the Prophet taught us about consistency: “the most beloved of deeds to Allah is the most regular and constant, even if it were little” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

  1. Be kind to yourself

If you don’t reach your goals, treat yourself with kindness and mercy. And keep trying! If you notice harsh and blaming self-talk, imagine that you’re speaking to a friend in the same situation. Unfortunately, we often forget to be kind to ourselves—including comforting ourselves when we fall short—even when being kind to others is second nature.

  1. Cut out distractions

Cut out distractions (PC: Thought Catalogue [unsplash])

One way to increase the quality of our worship even when we can’t increase its quantity, is to cut out as many distractions as possible from our daily lives.

Instead of rushing about completing endless tasks, prioritize what really needs to get done and see what can be delayed until after the month.

Instead of spending hours preparing elaborate meals, try to simplify your iftar fare and use the time saved for your worship.

Instead of unwinding with things that won’t benefit you, seek out soul-nourishing content like tafseer, seerah, or a series on Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) names and attributes. (Listening to this content while commuting or cooking is a great way to incorporate it into your daily routines; a practice that will help with continuity after Ramadan)

Our minds can only hold so much, so this Ramadan, let’s slow down, turn inward, and be mindful of our words and actions. Let’s disconnect from whatever distracts us, and keep words of remembrance and praise on our tongues.

  1. Connect with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

The best way to combat negative self-perceptions is by connecting with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Himself. He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created each one of us and chose what to bless us with. He knows what our hearts whisper to us and is closer to us than our jugular vein.

“And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein.” [Surah Qaf: 50;16]

The more we learn about Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) attributes—and what better way to learn than through His words?—and internalize this knowledge, the kinder we will be with ourselves.

We will learn that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is Ash-Shakur, The Appreciative; He subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sees and appreciates our deeds, even if they are small. He is Al-Ghafur, The Forgiving; He gave us the gift of Ramadan to wipe away our sins, and He loves those who seek forgiveness. He is Al-Wadood, The Loving; He revealed many verses in the Qur’an to comfort the hurt feelings of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) (e.g. Surah Al-Hijr:97-99), and He returned baby Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to his mother so that she would not grieve (e.g Surah Taha:40). And He loves the believers!

So what are you waiting for? You’re a believer—one of those whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves—and Ramadan is not over yet! Roll up your sleeves, hold your head high, and walk forward in the world with all of the unique abilities Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has planted inside of you.



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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 12] Surah Yusuf And The Millennial Muslim Mom

Muslim Matters - 23 March, 2024 - 02:10

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


Surah Yusuf And The Millennial Muslim Mom

by Sumaiyya Ayub


Everyone rushes to finish their dinner plates, you can hear the forks clanking, the deep gulps of water, and the adrenaline hit as your family breaks their fast. You can sense the rush of excitement after Maghrib as everyone hurries to get ready for the masjid, to be able to make it in time for a decent parking spot, and be able to hear the athan for ‘Isha before Taraweeh. To be able to feel the sense of community during these trying times. To hear the recitation of Qur’an and follow along, and truly immerse yourself in the “Ramadan Spirit”. 

But not for us millennial moms. Instead, we are left to pick up the crumbs— literally. To console our crying baby, or finish feeding our cranky toddlers. We get a sense of FOMO after the kids are asleep and you can finally have time for your own personal ‘Ibaadah. 

And for the most part, that’s all I needed the first years I had my little ones. To be able to pray without interruption, to be able to make suhoor without getting piggybacked on by my toddler, or make du’a for as long as I can without my crawler snatching my hijab off my head. 

But some nights, I felt lonely. Especially if I wasn’t fasting because I was either pregnant or nursing a baby. I didn’t feel like I was fully part of Ramadan. And by the time I would be done with putting the baby to sleep, I was so exhausted and drained from the day, I didn’t have the energy to go to Taraweeh. And then I would feel guilty. 

And then I would go down the rabbit hole of Instagram reels, influencer after influencer, showing their perfectly decorated Ramadan homes, their aesthetic little family. And most of the time, I knew it was all a display— it’s impossible to have little children and have that best of a home 24/7. But a little part of me felt let down, that I couldn’t keep up with having my perfectly decorated home, with my perfectly matched family. 

We don’t realize the toll social media can have on mothers trying to be the best they can. Everyone’s circumstances are different in their own right, and sometimes we need to hear that that is okay. And we can’t all keep up with what is shown on social media. 

And to my Muslim millennial mom who is nursing her baby in the middle of the night, and feels guilty for not being able to give those same hours to Tahajjud, I see you.  We are being rewarded for every single act we do as a mother. And it is amplified in Ramadan. This is our test, and there is a reason why mothers have the status they do in Islam; no one else does what we do for our children. 

Surah Yusuf, verses 30-34, depicts a powerful narrative surrounding the Aziz’s wife, who sought validation from the women of the city through manipulation and deceit. 

“And women in the city said, ‘The wife of al-‘Azeez is seeking to seduce her slave boy; he has impassioned her with love. Indeed, we see her [to be] in clear error.'” [12;30]

“Hearing of their sly talk the chief’s wife sent for those ladies, and arranged for them a banquet, and got ready couches,26 and gave each guest a knife. Then, while they were cutting and eating the fruit, she signaled Joseph: ‘Come out to them.’ When the ladies saw him they were so struck with admiration that they cut their hands, exclaiming: ‘Allah preserve us. This is no mortal human. This is nothing but a noble angel!'” [12:31]

“She said: ‘So now you see! This is the one regarding whom you reproached me. Indeed I tried to tempt him to myself but he held back, although if he were not to follow my order, he would certainly be imprisoned and humiliated.'” [12:32]

“Joseph said: ‘My Lord! I prefer imprisonment to what they ask me to do. And if You do not avert from me the guile of these women, I will succumb to their attraction and lapse into ignorance.'” [12:33]

“So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [12:34] 

Upon hearing their gossip, she orchestrated a banquet to confront them, aiming to prove her innocence while attempting to maintain her social status. However, her plan backfired when the women, upon seeing Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) , became captivated by his beauty, inadvertently injuring themselves out of astonishment.

 Despite her efforts to gain validation from others, the Aziz’s wife ultimately acknowledges her wrongdoing but resorts to further manipulation to save face.

millennial muslim mother - social media

Seeking validation (PC Karsten Winegeart [unsplash])

This narrative resonates with contemporary society, particularly regarding the relentless pursuit of validation through social media. Like the Aziz’s wife, many individuals, especially women, often seek approval and validation from online platforms, comparing themselves to influencers and striving to portray a flawless image of their lives. 

However, the story of Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) reminds us that true validation comes from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and our loved ones. By prioritizing our relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and cherishing the support of genuine connections, we can find security within ourselves, diminishing the need for external validation and overcoming the vulnerabilities associated with social media scrutiny.

We are only human. It’s not easy to be a mother to young children. It’s a grueling job that is 24/7. And in those times we feel weak, or depressed while scrolling through social media, we should instead read this ayah for our solace. That we are inherently made to have egos, to seek validation. Whether it be through an Instagram post, or being recognized as the Aziz of Egypt in Prophet Yusuf’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) case. 

And most importantly we must turn to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and seek His Mercy. To protect us from our egos, to help us feel secure enough in our physical selves, in our motherhood, and in our imaan

When we feel guilted into making a social media post about our children and family, or feel upset that we can keep up with the lifestyle of other influencers, this Ramadan we should try our best to make du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and express to Him how difficult it is to not succumb to peer pressure, and to uplift our souls. 

How Can we Uplift Our Souls?
  • Don’t overwork yourself this Ramadan. Concentrate on your fardh first, and then see what you can handle. A friend who had a baby three months ago mentioned to me that she hasn’t been able to go to Taraweeh once this Ramadan, that her baby keeps her up all night and it is hard for her to pray Tahajjud. But she had to check herself and realize that she should instead concentrate on solidifying her fardh, trying to fast while nursing (which is not easy) before exhausting herself over her nafl.
  •  Du’a, Du’a, Du’a! Every mother’s circumstance is different. Making du’a can be done while doing the dishes, or helping your kids with homework. My advice to all mothers is to use du’a as your tool, find times throughout the day when you are feeding your kids, or nursing the little one. Plus in your headphones and listen to Qur’an or a lecture while doing chores around the house. 
  • Free yourself. If social media is bogging you down, or making you feel less than, delete it. I remember the relief when I deactivated my Instagram during a dark time in my life. It was liberating because I was not bound to it anymore. I didn’t have to see every Muslim influencer’s mansions, carefully decorated with lavish embellishments, or feel the pressure to post a story about my own Ramadan corner of my house. 

Most of the time, we are the unseen, unheard foundations of Ramadan. The quiet caretakers, the strong saviors. You are the pillars of your family, and you are valued in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) eyes. 

Making a du’a nourishes your soul, and puts you in a better state of mind. While you may feel gutted for not being able to make it to Taraweeh, for being to tired to stay up late for Qiyam, know that this is temporary, and when your children are older you will have the bandwidth inshaAllah for the “usual” ibaadat of Ramadan. But right now, at this very moment, in this tiny window of time, you are being rewarded immensely for your efforts.

The famous hadith, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of your mother,” underscores the unparalleled significance of mothers in Islam. It highlights the honor and reward bestowed upon mothers for their unwavering love, sacrifice, and guidance. Something we are doing every single day. By emphasizing the importance of revering and cherishing one’s mother, Islam elevates the status of motherhood to a level where serving and respecting one’s mother becomes a direct path to attaining Paradise. This Hadith serves as a reminder for us if we ever feel down. It reminds us of the profound blessings and spiritual fulfillment that accompany the role of motherhood, reinforcing the eternal bond and divine connection between us and our children.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) raise the ranks of all mothers in our Ummah. The mothers in Gaza, struggling to get formula for their babies, and the mothers in the Congo, already thinking about the next meal to feed their families. To the mom listening to a lecture on her headphones while nursing a colicky baby in the middle of the night, to the mom who tries her best to be patient with a restless toddler. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reward us all, and put patience in our hearts and resilience in our souls. 



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The post A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 12] Surah Yusuf And The Millennial Muslim Mom appeared first on