A short history of Fasting the month of Ramadan, by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

This is a true account of the mercy of Allah be He Exalted and Glorified, to the believers. Fasting the month of Ramadan was prescribed in the early years after the hijra of the Prophet (SAWS) from Mecca to Medina. However, the rulings regarding fasting were not all revealed at once; there were several incremental updates from Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala that were sent down to the Prophet (SAWS) as revealed texts, and appearing in verses in the Quran.

For example, when the Prophet (SAWS) first came to Medina, they used to fast three days out of every month and they use to fast the day of Ashooraa. After that, Allah sub’haanahu wa ta’ala made it incumbent upon them to fast Ramadan, by revealing the verse: “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint, (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” [2:183-184] observing the month of Ramadan became incumbent, but they had a choice; they could either fast, or they could ‘ransom’ their fast by feeding a poor person for every day instead of fasting. “For those who can do it, is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent.” [2:184] Still it was better for them to fast, by the verse; “But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him”. [2:184] Despite the choice of either fasting or feeding, fasting was deemed the better of the two options; “And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” [2:184] In either case, it was better for them to do extra, such as feeding more than one person for each day or by fasting and feeding a person based upon the verse; “But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him”.

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 7.15.13 PM
This Ramadan, our dear sister Aisha is homeless. Spend you sadaqa in helping her get an apartment of her own.

After that, another verse was revealed which made fasting incumbent (fard) upon everyone; “So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting”, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. [2:185] After this verse was revealed, it was incumbent on every person who was present when Ramadan came, to fast the month except for who was sick, or travelling.  The dispensation of being able to ransom by feeding, instead of fasting, remained for the frail and the elderly, until this day.  Anas ibn Malik when he became a very old man, would have a big feast during Ramadan and feed thirty people at a time.
The companions of the Prophet (SAWS) used to, if a man was fasting, and the time of iftaar came but he fell asleep, or prayed ishaa before he ate a meal; he wouldn’t eat for the rest of the night and continue to fast until Maghrib the next day. So one day Qais ibn Sir’ma al-Ansaari was fasting and when the time of iftaar came, he said to his wife; do you have any food? She said: no but let me go and see if I can get some for you He had been working that day, so he ended up falling asleep (while he was waiting). She finally came and when she saw him asleep, she said: ‘you missed it’.  It was reported in another narration that when his wife came to him with the food, he said to her: “I feel asleep”, she replied: “no you didn’t” and he insisted that he did. Nevertheless, he slept that night without eating anything, and the next day, when he got up in the morning, he was fasting.  By the middle of the day, he lost consciousness. This incident was mentioned to the Prophet (SAWS) and then the verse was revealed: “Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and ye are their garments. Allah knoweth what ye used to do secretly among yourselves; but He turned to you and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what Allah Hath ordained for you,” [2:187], when this verse was revealed,  the Muslims were extremely happy because as they understood it now, they were able to continue to eat, drink or have relationships with their wives throughout the night without restriction, whereas before, if they happened to fall asleep, or if they prayed ishaa, they wouldn’t eat afterwards until sunset the next day.

Right after that, the versed was revealed: “and eat and drink, until the white thread appear s to you distinct from the black thread; then complete your fast Till the night appears”. [2:187] However, the words; (of the dawn) were not revealed yet. So the companions of the Prophet (SAWS) updated their fasting according to what was revealed and would consider it permissible to continue to eat, drink, or have relations with their wives throughout the night until the dawn came, and many of them would tie a black and white thread around their leg.

It was reported about Sah’li ibn Sa’d, who said: the verse: “and eat and drink, until the white thread appears to you distinct from the black thread”, and the words; (from the dawn –min al-fajr) were not revealed. So when men wanted to fast, they would tie a black thread and a white thread around their leg, and continue eating in the morning, until they could distinguish one from the other. After that, Allah revealed the words: (of the dawn) and they knew then that what were meant were (the threads of night) and day. This is how Allah showed his mercy to the companions of the Prophet (SAW) and heralded in the fast of Ramadan as we know it today, step by step.

Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and the weekly khateeb at the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim the challenges and issues related to American Muslim converts in the United States. He is also and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a critical look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

 

Free Audio Lecture by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad, Explanation of the Hadith: ‘The Shayaateen are chained during Ramadan’

Ramadaan Mubaarik beloveds, “When Ramadaan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up” [Related by Bukhaari] Every Sunday, our family, (the Ahmad clan) has a class together, today the topic was the chaining of the devils during Ramadan. Click on the link below to listen if you like. Please remember us in your du’aa. Wal Allah al-Musta’aan Imam Luqman Ahmad

Explanation of the hadith: ‘The Demons are chained’ during Ramadan

Audio Khutba: Welcoming Ramadan by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

The sacred month of Ramadan is upon us. It is the month in which we recharge our faith to prepare for the coming year. The Prophet (SAWS) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan in faith and in seeking reward (from Allah), his past sins will be forgiven”. In this khutbatul Jum’ah held @ Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center in Sacramento, Ca, we explain the importance of observing the month of Ramadan. Click on the link below to listen. Wal Allahu al-Musta’aan.

Welcoming the month of Ramadan

The Virtues of the Islamic Month of Rajab [Fadaa’il Rajab] by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

“BEHOLD, the number of months, in the sight of Allah, is twelve months, [laid down] in Allah’s decree on the day when He created the heavens and the earth; [and] out of these, four are sacred: this is the ever-true law [of Allah]. Do not, then, sin against yourselves with regard to these [months].”[1] According to the shariah[2] of Islam, years are properly reckoned by the cycles of the moon and not the sun; “They ask you concerning the crescent moons; say: they are time determinants for people and for the Hajj.[3]

The names of the Muslim lunar months:


1. Muharram 7. Rajab
2. Safar 8. Sha’ban
3. Rabi’ al-awwal (Rabi’ I) 9. Ramadan
4. Rabi’ al-thani (Rabi’ II) 10. Shawwal
5. Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I) 11. Dhu al-Qi’dah
6. Jumada al-thani (Jumada II) 12. Dhu al-Hijjah

The Muslim Hijri calendar was first introduced by the Caliph and companion of the Prophet (SAWS) Umar ibn al-Khattaab in the year 628 C.E[4]. It consists of 12 lunar months. The beginning of each month is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Each lunar month lasts approximately 29 or 30 days. The month of Rajab is one of the sacred months of the Islamic calendar. The other three sacred months are the consecutive months of Dhul Qi`da, Dhul Hijja, and Muharram. Thus we have just entered into the sacred month of Rajab, the seventh month of the Hijri calendar as of May 11th 2013. It is a good idea to keep track of the Islamic months because during each month, there are recommended and sometimes compulsory actions which are recorded in the Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS).

There are many areas of ah’kaam (jurisprudence) related to the month of Rajab. Some of the reported traditions of Rajab trace back to the days of jaahiliyyah[5] (pre-Islamic period) and continued after the dawn of Islam.  Others were prohibited by the Prophet (SAWS). Scholars differ as to which of these traditions continued after Islam. So in response to a question by one of the sisters about the month of Rajab and what are the recommended actions of the month, I have prepared the following.

  1. Animal Sacrifices: During the days of jaahiliyyah, people used to make animal sacrifices of sheep and called it al-ateerah[6]; scholars differ whether the practice is still permissible.  It was reported the hadith of Abu Hurraira that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “There is no far’a[7] and no ateerah[8].  Other scholars say that the practice of ateerah is permissible, among them is ibn Seereen and it was related about Imam Ahmad that the people of Basra used to do it. It was related that the Prophet (SAWS) said while standing of the mountain of Arafat:  “each year, every household should slaughter a sacrifice and that is what they call al-ateerah[9]. In another tradition it was reported about Abu Razeen[10]; he said: “I said:  O Messenger of Allah, we used to perform animal sacrifices during the days of jaahiliyyah (during Rajab), we would eat it and feed whoever came to us” the Prophet (SAWS) replied: “there is nothing wrong with that.”[11] In another tradition reported by ibn Abbaas, he said: “The Quraish sought permission from the Prophet (SAWS) continue the ateerah and he said: “You may do the sheep slaughter of jaahiliyyah; however, if you sacrifice for the sake of Allah and want to eat it and give some away as charity then you may do so.[12]” scholars of Islam reconcile the prohibition in the hadith of Abu Hurraira and the permissibility of the practice reported in the other hadith by saying that the prohibition relates to the pre-Islamic practice of offering sacrifices to gods other than Allah. Sufyaan ibn Uyyaina says that what’s meant by the prohibition here is the removal of wujoob (obligation). Other scholars say that the hadith of Abu Hurraira is the most authentic narration available on the topic and should provide the standard on how the action is mitigated[13].  It was related about Hasan al-Basri that he said: “There is no ateerah in Islam. Ateerah is something that existed in jaahiliyyah. Some of them used to fast the whole month of Rajab and perform an ateerah during it and the sacrifice would resemble a religious rite or holiday.[14]” it was related about ibn Abbaas that he used to dislike that people take Rajab for a holiday. [15] The conclusion is that if a person wants to slaughter a sheep during the month of Rajab for the sake of Allah and eat some and distribute or feed some to others; that is permissible. However, they shouldn’t take a specific day or make into a holiday occasion for that would not be consistent with the Sunna.  And Allah knows best.
  2. Prayer on particular days of RajabThere are no authentic narrations about the Prophet (SAWS) regarding a specific prayer designated for the month of Rajab. There are several narrations regarding ‘salaatul raghaa’ib’ during the first Jum’ah night of Rajab but they are weak narrations with no validity.  Such a prayer is considered an innovation by the majority of scholars but not all of them. Ibn Jawzee[16] and Abu Bakr as-Sam’aani are amongst the latter-day scholars who mention this. The rulings on salaatul raghaa’ib were not mentioned by earlier scholars because the practice did not appear until about the fifth century of the Hijra.
  3. Fasting during Rajab: There is nothing authentic reported directly from or about the Prophet (SAWS) or any of the companions regarding fasting during specific days of the month of Rajab. However, there is a report about Abu Qalaaba that he said: “There is a castle in paradise for those who fast during the month of Rajab.” According to al-Baihaqi, Abu Qalaaba being one of the luminaries of the taabi’een would not have said such a thing unless he received it from one of the companions.[17] It was reported in a narration Mujeeba al-Baahiliyyah about her father that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “fast some days of the sacred months and leave some days.[18]” Some of the Salaf[19] used to fast the entirety of the sacred months; among them Abdullah ibn Umar, and al-Hasan al-Basri, and Abu Is’haaq as-Sabee’i. Ibn Abbaas and Anas ibn Malik used to dislike that people fast the entire month of Rajab and in another narration about ibn Umar and ibn Abbaas; they used to prefer that if people fasted Rajab, they break their fast at least some of the days. It was also reported about imam Ahmad, Sa’eed ibn Jubair and Imam Shaafi’ee that they used to dislike that people would fast the entire month of Rajab. Imam Shaafi’ee was reported to have said in a former opinion; “I dislike that people complete the fast of Rajab like they would the fast of Ramadan.” His argument for this was the hadith of Aisha; “I never saw the Prophet (SAWS) complete a month (of fasting) ever, except for Ramadan.[20]” Some of the Hanbali scholars view that fasting the complete month of Rajab is not disliked if they also fast another month before or after it in its entirety as well.  I already mentioned that Ibn Umar and others used to fast the entirety of all the sacred months. There is no harm for a person to fast the entirety of the month of Rajab if it is incorporated as part of a perpetual fast (siyaamul dahr[21]) Some fasts are customary in the sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) and can and should be incorporated into Rajab: Such as fasting three consecutive days of the month, as reported in the hadith of Aisha, she reported: “the Prophet (SAWS) used to fast three consecutive days out of each month.” Or fasting Mondays and Thursdays as recorded in the Sunna.  According to Imam Nawawi; “Neither prohibition nor praiseworthiness has been established for the month of Rajab in itself, however, the principle concerning fasting is that it is praiseworthy in itself, and in the Sunan of Abu Dawud, the Prophet has made the fasting of the sacred months praiseworthy, and Rajab is one of them. And Allah knows best”.[22] I also like the statement of my late Sheikh, Sayyid Saabiq; “Fasting during Rajab contains no more virtue than during any other month. There is no sound report from the Sunna that states that it has a special reward. All that has been related concerning it is not strong enough to be used as a proof. Ibn Hajar says: “There is no authentic hadith related to its virtues, nor fasting during it or on certain days of it, nor concerning exclusively making night prayers during that month.” Thus fasting during Rajab particularly has no special bearing in Islam but fasting during the sacred months is acceptable and was practiced by some of the companions. Fasting three days of the month and on Mondays and Thursdays is a Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS) and a praiseworthy act.
  4. Zakaat during the Month of Rajab:  Some Muslim countries and communities have become accustomed to collecting and paying zakaat during the month of Rajab. Such a practice is permissible as the zakaat is due annually and needs to be paid. However, here is no basis for singling out Rajab for zakaat in the Sunna of the Prophet (SAWS). This alone does not make it prohibited to do so because zakaat is due annually and its payment is based upon reaching the nisaab of a year and not a particular date.    However it was reported about Uthmaan ibn Afaan that during his term as Caliph that he ascended the pulpit and said: “Oh people, this is the month of your zakaat, so whoever amongst you has a debt, then he should pay his debt.[23]” Other scholars say that zakaat should be paid in the month of Muharram because it marks the beginning of the year and some of the jurists say the Muharram is the time when the imam should dispatch the people to collect the zakaat. Others say that zakaat should be paid during the month of Ramadan because of the sheer virtue of Ramadan and the virtue of charity during the month of Ramadan. The fact of the matter is that zakaat is due after the nisaab has reached a year. According to Abu Saud, the basic definition of nisaab is that amount which is sufficient to sustain the minimum average family for one year. In some modern Muslim countries, nisaab is often interpreted to equate a governmentally determined poverty threshold. Once a person’s holdings have reached the level of nisaab, the zakaat is due on that wealth, regardless of the month. The issue of zakaat is a lengthy subject and not the central topic of our discussion. Please refer to the books of fiqh for more detail.
  5. Umrah[24] during Rajab: Once ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet (SAWS) performed umrah during Rajab, Aisha was present and repudiated what Ibn Umar said, he heard her repudiate it and didn’t object[25]. Umar ibn al-Khattaab and other companions used to like to perform umrah during Rajab. Aisha used to do it as well as Abdullah ibn Umar. Ibn Seereen reports that the Salaf used to do it. Thus there is no harm performing Umrah during the month of Rajab or any other month.

Conclusion: Rajab is indeed a sacred month and on should increase acts of goodness during the sacred months as in other months. It was reported in the hadith of Anas that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “Oh Allah, bless us in our Rajab and Sha’baan for they deliver us into Ramadan.” The hadith although it has weakness in its chain, shows that it is permissible to ask Allah to prolong your life to a more blessed time so that you can perform good deeds during that time. It’s like saying; oh Allah keep me going until Ramadan. The Salaf used to like that when they died, it would happen at the end of a good deed; right after Ramadan, or on the way back from hajj and they used to think that if someone died in that manner their sins would be forgiven. It was also reported that the Prophet (SAWS) said: “verily deeds are reckoned according to one’s final acts”. And Allah knows best. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad

Imam, Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center

Sacramento, California, imamabulaith@yahoo.com


[1]Quran, 9:36

[2] Sacred law.

[3] Quran, 2:189

[4] Christian era.

[5] Jaahiliyyah refers to the period that existed before Islam. It also refers to practices which contradict Islam and the principles of Islam.

[6] Ateerah: a sheep sacrifice.

[7] Far’a: the first born of a she camel which during the days of jaahiliyyah they used to slaughter n the name of the pagan gods.

[8] A sound hadith (sahih) collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[9] A good hadith, collected by Abu Dawud

[10] His name was Laqeet ibn Sabira, a well known companion of the Prophet (SAWS)

[11] A sound hadith collected by Al-Nissa’i

[12] Collected by Tabaraani with his own chain except that the chain of this particular hadith contains Ibrahim ibn Ismaa’eel ibn Abi Habeeba, who was considered trustworthy by Ibn Ma’een but a weak transmitter by most others.

[13] Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali, page 207

[14] Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif, page 206

[15] Collected by Abdul-Razaaq with a broken chain

[16] Abu Faraj Ibn Jawzi; his name was Abdul-Rahmaan ibn Ali Ibn Muhammad, one of the great Hanbali scholars of Baghdad; he died in the Hijri year of 597.

[17] This alone does not validate the hadith as authentic, but it does according to some scholars lend marginal credence to the narration.

[18] A weak hadith collected by Abu Dawud and others.

[19] Righteous people and scholars of the frst three generations of Islam.

[20] Collected by Bukhaari and Muslim.

[21] Perpetual fast; this is when you fast every single day perpetually.

[22] Imam Nawawi, Explanation of  Sahih Muslim, Kitab 13 Bab 34

[23] Collected by Imam Malik in the Muwatta.

[24] The lessor Hajj.

[25] This story is related in sahih al-Bukhaari.

Qualities to Look For in a Muslim Husband by Shaykh Luqman Ahmad

If you are looking for the perfect Muslim man who is the embodiment of prophetic character and constitution in every possible way, then you will never find that person, and if you did, it is unlikely that you will be the perfect paragon of virtue to match him. I mean, anything is possible, but being human and all, it is likely that you, as well as your spouse or potential  spouse will have human qualities. However, there is such a thing as an ideal spouse that fits and compliments you.

Every Muslim woman who seeks marriage in Islam should be aware that you are seeking a person to not only be a husband, friend, lover, life-partner, and all those good things; but you are seeking someone to be the imam of your home and family. Of course you want him to be a kind, generous, patient, good-natured, healthy, attractive (to you), and a god –fearing , virtuous husband who is reasonable. Nevertheless,  as a woman, you need to be clear about what you really want and seek in a marriage. The imam part is important because any man who is worth his salt as a Muslim man, realizes that in addition to being other things, he must be the Imam of his home. That is not his choice, that is an obligation, a contract between him and his Lord.

Many sisters say they want one thing but when they get it, it turns out that it’s not what they really want. Don’t say you want a strong man, and then resent his strength when he tries to lead, or his firmness in some things, or say you want a knowledgeable man, and want him to disregard his knowledge and follow your or someone else’s whim, and don’t say you want a god-fearing, pious man, and then oppose him when he wants to direct his family to piety.

If a woman wants a man who has these good and godly qualities then she should seek that type of man, and not be overtaken by his looks, his swagger, his car, his walk or his talk.  If a woman seeks a husband who does not have the qualities of a good man, then she will likely get a joker. The first thing to check about a potential Muslim spouse is his salat, and if you check his, make sure that you check yours too. Keep in mind that all the beautiful qualities that you want in a husband,  you should make sure that comparable qualities exist in your own self.  Realistically people are human, are fallible, and no one is perfect, and you are much more likely to find a husband and a lasting marriage by seeking a good man, than a perfect man.

couple-silh-2

If you are a Muslim woman who does not particularly want to be married to a religious man, or a man who prays, or enjoins you to pray, pays zakaat, fasts and enjoins you to fast, and observes a healthy (non-extremist) Islamic lifestyle, then that is your choice, and you should be honest with yourself about that. He can still be a decent person and not be that much into practicing his Islam.

This is not about blaming this or that person for how they want to live and what they consider important. Islam is a path, not a destination and people struggle with all aspects of their faith from time to time, that is life.

Nevertheless,  lets keep it real sisters, if you are not really trying to live the Islamic lifestyle as a wife and a woman, then don’t waste the time of a brother who is looking for that type of lifestyle.  You need to be clear with yourself about that, and he needs to be clear with you about that. Likewise, if you as a Muslim woman, know that you want to life a serious and sober Islamic lifestyle, and raise your children accordingly, then don’t be beguiled by a brother who is handsome, talks a good game, drives a nice car, wears designer clothes, but lacks the substance that you are seeking. A woman can help a man evolve and grow, and vice versa, but people can’t change people.

Every woman should have a general idea about how she wants to get pattern her home life, what she’s willing, or not willing to do, and how where she is in her deen, and Allah is the best judge. However, for the new and not so new Muslim woman who wishes to be married and live an Islamic lifestyle here in the United States to the best of their ability, it is important to seek and marry the kind of men who can and will support that type of life.  With that in mind, here are some things that you should look for in a real Muslim man. These qualities will not make a perfect man, for such a thing is a fantasy. However, if a brother has these qualities, and you have problems in your marriage as many of us do, a man with the qualities mentioned below, gives you a lot to work with. Just keep in mind, your marriage is not entirely built upon the man and what he does and who he is, it is equally dependent on who, who you are and what you do. Marriage is a two-way street.  So each trait that you look for in a husband, you must ask yourself, do you have similar complimentary traits? Similarly, each question you ask about his past and upbringing, be prepared to answer similar questions about yourself. Wallahul Musta’aan.

  1. You have to know something about his background, his family, his upbringing, his history. Family background is important. You want to know what kind of family he came from, whether or not he was raised by both parents, came from a single parent household, or reared in a foster home. Some of our men who are converts come from broken families, from prison and criminal backgrounds and from the thug, gang, culture of the inner city streets. Of course that is not true for all; nevertheless, is true for many, and we are seeing the results of it in our communities. Thus, in these cases, the question is how much of the previous jaahiliyyah lifestyle has been discarded and replaced by Islamic thinking, Islamic habits, and Islamic traits? If he is a Muslim, but still likes to run the streets, hang out on corners, go to the clubs, sling dope, smoke weed, or run game, then he hasn’t yet crossed over to an Islamic way of life. People can, and will change, and change takes time; however, these days, people are not changing. They are falling to the wayside of Islam in very high numbers
  2. Does he pray or even know how to pray? If a brother does not know how to pray, then he should be actively learning his salat, and have a salat book in his pocket, or his backpack. He should be up in the Masjid, praying behind someone who knows how to pray. Salat is not an option. If he doesn’t know how to pray, and is not actively learning how to pray, then he is a joker as far as Islam is concerned; he does not take his Islam seriously, and neither should you. The hardest salat upon the hypocrite is the Fajr and Isha prayers. The prophet (SAWS) said: “if people knew what was in the Isha and Fajr (prayers in congregation), they would attend them even if they had to crawl.[i] If a brother cannot get out of bed for Fajr, or cannot put down the remote control for Isha, then it is likely that he will not establish prayer in the home.
  3. Does he know about purification? Does he know how and when to perform a ghusl, the proper manner of wudu, and the performance of istin’jaa? If he does not know the above, then his whole worship apparatus is in disarray, and dysfunctional, not withstanding that he is probably in a perpetual state of impurity. The Prophet (SAWS) said, “Purification is half of faith”. Thus if he doesn’t understand and practice purity, he is bereft of half of his eemaan. On the other hand, if he is attentive with regards to purification, then he is more likely to be dutiful with respect to salat. It goes without saying that if he is steadfast and attentive to salat, then he will be the same in other areas of his deen.
  4. Is he employed? Does he have halal income? If he is a street hustler, most of the time, his income is from haram sources and in our experience, street hustler dudes, rarely takes care of their families. However, all street hustles are no haram and all street hustlers do not neglect their families, keep that in mind also. You just have to ask the right questions and look into it to the degree it matters to you.
  5. If he is employed, does he pay zakaat, or take care of his children if he has any? If he is employed, does he make sacrifices for the sake of his job and career, at the expense of his religion? Does he integrate the salat into his work schedule, does he attend Jum’ah. If he sacrifices his religion to earn a living then it is likely that you will get a man who brings home the money, but won’t be an Imam in his home, won’t raise the children as Muslims, and will be less inclined to uphold islamic moral values while he is at work, or at home.  There is such a thing as balance; however balance in in following religion and using the latitude that it affords.
  6. Does he play hooky from Ramadan? If he plays hooky from Ramadan, then he is a joker. He does not take his Islam seriously. Where is this brother during the month of Ramadan? Is he around the Muslims, is he near the Masjid, is he at the iftaar (breakfast), is he in the salat line during any of the taraaweeh? Or is he one of those brothers who calls the Masjid three weeks into Ramadan and asks; ‘when does Ramadan start’? Where is he at Fajr time? Is he sleeping, or is he busy with suhoor and salat. These are the things you need to look at in choosing a good Muslim man. The observance of Ramadan is one of the things that separates the men from the boys as far as deen is concerned. Pay attention to how he handles Ramadan and it will give you a glimpse into what he’s made of.
  7. Does he take care of himself? Does he have his own place, have his own bills, have his own car, buy his own food, buy his own clothes, pay for his own bus pass? It’s okay if he takes care of himself but is struggling because times are hard these days, but sisters need to understand that taking care of yourself is a certain mindset that a man has, and trying to live off of mommy, baby momma, or your girlfriend is a totally different mindset; it’s the mindset of a boy, pretending to be a man.
  8. Who are his friends? Are they practicing Muslims? The Prophet (SAWS) said: “A person is upon the religion of his close friend (khalil)”. If his friends are trifling, know nothing, do nothing dudes, then your guy is bound to be like them. If he is still rolling with the non-Muslim, then rest assured, he probably still thinks like one. If he’s rollin with the boys and not the men, then he’s probably still a boy. grown men don’t roll behind little boys.
  9. Does he have an Imam, or a sheikh from whom he takes instruction? Or is he a floater? If he has no Imam, then his imam is probably Shaitaan. If he is not linked to leadership, or scholarship, (and I’m not talking about the internet), then he is likely going around in circles as far as his deen is concerned, and he will lead you around in circles. This is not true in every case, but it’s very likely.
  10. What is the relationship with his mother? If he doesn’t honor and respect his mother, then there is hardly any chance that he will honor and respect you as his wife. If he disrespects his mother, then he is already engaged in major sin from the very beginning. You should also talk to his mother. Mothers know their sons, if the mother says he is no good, then she’s probably right.
  11. Does he attend Jum’ah prayer or does he make invalid excuses? If a brother is missing Jum’ah without a valid excuse, more than 3 times in a row, then he already has a seal on his heart. Abu Ja’d al-Dhamri (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever misses three Jumu’ah prayers by taking the matter lightly, Allah will seal his heart.”[ii]

These are just a few things that our women must consider in choosing a mate. If you are already married, then you should encourage your husband to adopt some of these traits and don’t make excuses for him or just be another mommy for him. Sisters, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage, and there are no perfect men, just like there are no perfect women. However there is such a thing as good and bad qualities in a man, as well as a woman. Try to choose someone in whom the good qualities outweigh the bad. And Allah knows best. Wa bihi tawfeeq. Imam Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad.

Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam at the Toledo Masjid al-Islam in Ohio. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a critical look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism, and the author of the new e-book, “Killing Marriage in Black Muslim America“, a brief look at the marriage dilemma among Black American Muslims and converts to Islam.

He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at imamabulaith@yahoo.com.

[i] Related by Bukhaari

[ii] Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Tirmidhi, Sunan Nasa’i, Sunan Ibn Majah and al-Darami

CAIR’s ‘Sharing Ramadan’ Campaign: Well intended? Maybe. Bad Idea? Definately!

The national campaign suggested by the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] to “Share Ramadan”, although perhaps well intended, is ill-conceived, misleading, and quite frankly, borders upon sacrilege. The concern of some American Muslims about the increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment in America is, understandable. Albeit overblown and hyperbolic, nevertheless, it is a legitimate concern. However, sharing Ramadan, inviting people to fast for a day, sprucing up our behavior for the benefit of the media, or thinking that a non-Muslim will somehow vicariously experience what a believing Muslim feels when he or she breaks their fast, will do little to stem the rising tide of islamophobia or change public opinion about Islam and Muslims except to demonstrate the degree of ostentation (riyaa) which we are willing to embark upon to get someone to like us. It gives the impression that we are a disingenuous and desperate people. Such actions breed more contempt and suspicion than sympathy, or a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Muslims.

Ever since 9/11, American Muslims have been on the defensive, and more often than not, we are over-defensive. Many times, acting at the behest of American Muslim political and advocacy organizations, we will leave no stone unturned in prostituting various foundational aspects of our faith in order to influence public opinion. True Islam belongs to Allah; we don’t need to defend it, we only need to practice it. Not surprisingly, ten years of spin doctoring Islam, have netted very little tangible results. To this day, we’re till complaining how much they don’t like us.

Consider that acting under the unhealthy influence of islamic political organizations, American Muslims have already changed, (may Allah help us) for the benefit of public consumption, the meaning of Islam from submission to peace, we’ve established the despicable precedent that Friday prayer (Salaatul Jum’ah) does not have to be performed for Allah only but can be done on a state capitol lawn in order to make a political statement, and we’ve asserted that it really makes no difference whether you are Muslim, Christian or Jewish, it’s really just one religion. Now, as we approach the holiest month of the year, our ambitiously bodacious political Islamic leaders at CAIR, are asking us to share one of the most personal acts of devotion; the observance of the month of Ramadan, with our non-Muslim neighbors and associates!

 The ‘Sharing Ramadan’ campaign inaugurated by CAIR suggests that we do group spectacle and mockery of our own faith during the holiest month of the year, and that we invite partners with whom we will share our devotion to Allah, and then, as suggested in CAIR’s ‘Sharing Ramadan’ resource guide, film it all, and send it to CAIR.

Increasing righteous acts during Ramadan is a Sunna of our Prophet (SAWS). Make your non-Muslim friends, neighbors or family member a plate of food if you want, or spend some of the money you save during the month in charity.

However, your fast, your iftaar, your worship, and your devotional observance of the month of Ramadan, is  between you and Allah. It’s not for sale, it’s not for public relations and it’s not to impress and it’s not for show. We cannot share or magically transfer our experience of fasting Ramadan because each persons fast, is known only to Allah, Judged only by Him, and accepted or rejected, by Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. Your fast is not yours to share. If you share it, you have associated partners with Allah. 

 Fasting, iftaar, taraaweeh, qiyaami lail, are all for Allah only, and He imparts, the blessings, the joy, the spiritual bliss and the reward of Ramadan, to whomever He pleases and in whatever measure He wants.. When we invite guests to the Masjid to ‘share’ Ramadan, we should realize that they cannot share in the blessing or reward since in order to be rewarded for fasting the month of Ramadan, you must first be a Muslim, after that, you must observe the fat, and it’s applicle rules and conditions according to the Quran and sunna.

CAIR suggests that a person can fast without belief, and break the fast without fasting, and that we should thank them for it.  [Please do not forget to send “thank you” notes to the religious, political and civic leaders who attended the iftaar;][1]

Ramadan is a pillar of faith, and should in not be prostituted as part of a public relations campaign initiated by a national political Islamic organization, to alter perceived public opinion about Islam. If we allow that, then we are corrupting the very foundations of what we believe sacred, which is the unique oneness and devotional exclusivity of, and to the Almighty God, Allah (tawheed and ikhlaas). Without tawheed and ikhlaas, the essence of righteous and devotional acts of worship is rotted and devoid of any spiritual value.

Observance of the month of Ramadan is considered ritual worship (ibaadah) according to sacred law. The unanimous opinion of Islamic legal orthodoxy, is that ritual worship and devotion (including observance of Ramadan) is invalidated by partnering [shirk]; It may still look good on the outside. However, on the Day of Reckoning, when it counts, it will be worth nothing.

The slogan of CAIR’s campaign; “sharing Ramadan” suggests a compromise in devotional exclusivity (ikhlaas) to Allah, and it goes downhill from there. Although that may not be the intention behind the campaign, the slogan ‘sharing Ramadan’ is a misnomer to say the least and only adds to the confusion that a non-muslim may already have about Islam. Sharing food or sharing a meal is considered one of the noblest acts of faith, and something that every Muslim should do when he or she is able. However, feeding food is best when done for the sake of Allah, and not for the purpose of the cameras, public relations, or Muslim image making;

إِنَّمَا نُطْعِمُكُمْ لِوَجْهِ اللَّهِ لَا نُرِيدُ مِنكُمْ جَزَاء وَلَا شُكُورًا 76:9

“[Saying, in their hearts,] “We feed you for the sake of God alone: we desire no recompense from you, nor thanks:”

Taking iftaar is a devotional act that is part of the observance of Ramadan; you can’t share that with anyone. Iftaar to a Muslim is a very special moment that is part of the observance of Ramadan. Iftaar, to a non-Muslim, it’s just a meal just like any other meal. The only way for a person to experience Ramadan, is to first, believe in the Lord who commanded it, and second, observe the month according to the rules and ordinances of the Quran and prophetic tradition (Sunna). It is the divine right of God that worship should be done exclusively for him and him only.

فَمَن كَانَ يَرْجُو لِقَاء رَبِّهِ فَلْيَعْمَلْ عَمَلًا صَالِحًا وَلَا يُشْرِكْ بِعِبَادَةِ رَبِّهِ أَحَدًا 18:110

Whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner. 18:110

Fasting is a special type of worship and devotion to Allah. Even though every act of worship is done for devotion to Allah, and for the benefit of one’s soul, fasting is particularly for Allah in ways that are beyond our comprehension. Allah has said, “All of the actions of mankind are done for his own sake except for fasting; it is done exclusively for me, and I reward it accordingly[2]

Although it frequently resorts to hyperbole and fear tactics to elicit support, CAIR is arguably a necessary organization and occasionally does good work on behalf of people who need support. The local people whom I know at CAIR are passionate, hard working people who I admire and respect, but like us all, they make mistakes, and the ‘Share Ramadan campaign is one of them.

Islamic Political organizations should not be in the habit of setting agendas for what are supposed to be religious based initiatives. It is for this reason, many Americans regard Islam as a political ideology bent on takeover instead of a god centered religion that leads to salvation for the human soul. Public relations are important, and have a place in Islam. However, islamic public relations is accomplished by going out amongst the people who live amongst you, and serving them, feeding our poor, helping the elderly shut in, who lives down the block, protecting our children from drugs, gangs, keeping an eye out for criminals, predators and violence in the neighborhood. That’s how you are neighborly in Islam, and that’s how people understand neighborliness in America.

You don’t reach out to your neighbors by sending formal invitations to politicians and religious leaders, to a controlled, choreographed, dry scripted event at the place where you worship, in an environment that is totally foreign to them. There is no spontaneity in that, no sincerity, and no personal interaction with everyday people. As far as most Americans are concerned, such events are fake, and disingenuous. Our mothers and grandmothers who weren’t Muslim, taught us better than that. I grew up on America as a Muslim, and lived next door to folks for years and we interacted with our neighbors all the time, as Muslims. We played football in the street, shared food, utensils, shoveled each other’s snow off the sidewalk, picked up each other’s mail when we went on vacations, and watched over each other’s houses. If you look out for your neighbors, they will look out for you. That’s the way things are done in America, and for Muslims who are tired of people looking at you like you don’t belong here, it’s important that you understand that.

Being a good neighbor is part of the Islamic way and it is part of the American way. Every Muslim family in America has the opportunity on a daily basis to get to know their neighbors. You don’t need a national political Islamic organization, to puppeteer you through it, step by step like you are a robot. Americans can see right through that.

Being a good neighbor is not something that you do once a year, at a staged event, with the cameras rolling and with flash cards, talking points and press kits. You can be a good neighbor and reach out to them simply by walking a few feet to the next door on either side of you with a bag of groceries, or by shoveling the freshly fallen snow off your neighbors pavement as you shovel your own, or offering to feed their dog while they are on vacation. Being a good Muslim is to worship Him alone in the proper manner, without associating partners with Him. Trying to please politicians will not bring us closer to Allah, and it is not the basis for success in this life or the hereafter. American Muslims need to rediscover tawheed and ikhlaas, and not let our worship and duty to our Lord be compromised by partnering our worship with political objectives a public relations imagery whether it is orchestrated by CAIR or anyone else.

Restricting CAIR’s unhealthy and destructive influence in our nation’s masaajid (mosques) and Islamic centers will do more to change public opinion about Islam, than a thousand camera ready iftaars and open houses. It will also open the door for American Muslims to practice Islam and interact with our neighbors in faith, sincerity, and without political or public relations consideration, all of which are detrimental to our disposition of our souls when we stand before Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala. Islam is a religious journey, not a political campaign. If we concentrate on practicing our faith, instead of trying to control the image of it in the public eye, people might start to believe that Islam is indeed a religion based upon truth and godliness, and not subterfuge and deception. Ramadan only comes around once a year and we are not promised to see the next one.

The sad part about this is that CAIR actually does good work on behalf of Muslims in certain areas of advocacy, and since they recruit their volunteers from within the nation’s Muslim congregations, the people who work with CAIR are usually hard working, god fearing conscientious. I love our local CAIR Director here in the city that I live, and I support him in the good work he does for our community, and he does a lot. May Allah reward him and strengthen him.

This is the United States of America and people are free to do as they want. We all have to answer to Allah for our actions when we meet Him. For that reason, we should not allow our mosques, Islamic centers and congregations to be manipulated and our great to be politicized by a few people to serve their organizational self-interests. All criticism of Islam and Muslims cannot be summed up as a case of islamophobia; there are elements that come into our masaajid and politicize and take advantage of ordinary, unsuspecting Muslim Americans, using fear tactics, hyperbole, and spiritual blackmail, and we need to put an end to it so we can go about or lives, being productive while practicing Islam as a religion and not as a political ideology Let’s keep politics, public relations, and pandering to media and public opinion out of this Ramadan, and the Ramadans to come. May Allah accept our observance of the month, forgive us for our sins, and purify our intentions. Wa Allahu al-Musta’aan wa bi hi tawfiq.

Imam Luqman Ahmad



[1] CAIR brochure ‘Sharing Ramadan Resource Guide’

[2] Collected by Bukhaari

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