Naureen Aqueel

Archive for the ‘The News’ Category

Published in The News, You magazine, June 2, 2009.

Hepatitis can turn into a very deadly disease if not taken care of in it’s initial stages. Each year many fall sick due to hepatitis. The disease affects an estimated 12 million people, which means that every sixth or seventh person in the population may be suffering from it. However, with greater awareness the number of people who die is decreasing each year.

Taking in view the importance of the role of the media in spreading awareness, the final year students of the Development Support Communication course at the Department of Mass Communication, University of Karachi organised a seminar titled “Hepatitis: What We Need To Know…” The event was an attempt to inform people about the disease and to examine the media’s role in helping people understand how it can affect their lives. Organised under the aegis of the Stivya Youth Interactive Forum, managed by the Creative Groove, the advertising and PR wing of the Department of Mass Communication, it was a well-attended event.

The seminar raised the issue of the essential link between doctors and media. Doctors have the knowledge about the disease and the media has the power to disseminate that knowlege. The speakers at the event suggested that doctors and media should collaborate in their efforts to battle life threatening ailments. Mrs Samina Qureshi, the Event Incharge, highlighted the aims and objectives of the seminar which sought to provide useful information about Hepatitis. Basically the mode of transmission of the disease includes transfusion of infected blood, sexual contact, unsafe injections, unhygienic intrusive practices of barbers and beauty parlours, hemodialysis services, surgical and dental procedures, needle stick injury, acupuncture, ear and nose piercing and shared tooth brushes etcetera. It is important to note that the disease however, is not spread by social interaction like shaking hands and eating together.

In his key note speech by Dr. Agha Umer Draz, District Coordinator and Master Trainer for Prime Minister’s Programme for Prevention and Control of Hepatitis, spoke about the main aims of his programme. It seeks to achieve 50 per cent reduction in Hepatitis by the year 2010 by establishing screening and diagnostic centres, providing counselling and treatment facilities along with drugs for the patients and vaccinations against the disease in high-risk population areas.

The next half of the seminar was addressed by media professionals who spoke about the part the media is playing in spreading awareness about Hepatitis. Ms. Seema Raza, Senior producer at a popular radio station, highlighted the contribution the radio industry in spreading awareness regarding Hepatitis.

A documentary was also prepared by the students of the DSC course; the short film highlighted the state of Hepatitis patients in the different hospitals of the city of Karachi. It also pointed out the different steps that need to be taken to improve the state of these patients. The documentary also tackled the questions of how the average individual can avoid getting infected.

The discussion ended with Ms. Qureshi launching the “Talent Shop,” an exhibition to be held on 12th August, 2009 to commemorate International Youth Day. She announced that the exhibition will provide a window of opportunity to the youth to showcase their creative skills and talents.

The seminar proved successful in the sense that it managed to create awareness about Hepatitis among the youth and was able to stir debate about the role of the various agencies – the media, the government and doctors – in spreading awareness about health-related issue in our society.

An edited version of this article was published in The News, Educationzine, August 9, 2008.

Schools and colleges often require students to complete a certain number of hours of community service in various areas before they pass out. Many universities also give preference to students who have participated in some form of community service.  The aim behind this is usually to instill in students a healthy conscience to help others, be of benefit to the community or society at large and to make them interact first hand with people who may not be as privileged as they are.

Many schools and colleges in Pakistan make it mandatory for students to complete a specified number of hours in community service, while others encourage students to do it in return for extra credit or extra certificates. This practice proves beneficial in that it provides a steady stream of volunteers to charitable organisations which are in dire need of people willing to spend time with the less privileged for whom these organisations are built. Students taking part in community service go to places like homes for the mentally and physically handicapped, old homes, orphanages, hospitals, charitable trusts, and schools.

Till now, the more popular trend in Karachi was for students to go to organisations like Darul Sukoon, which houses the mentally and physically handicapped and other old-age homes. A unique programme however has now been initiated by an NGO by the name Society for Educational Welfare (SEW) which runs a network of community based welfare “Baithak Schools” for underprivileged children in less developed areas of the city.

In line with its new Collaborative Community Development Programme (CCDP), SEW has initiated a programme of collaboration with mainstream schools and colleges whereby students from these schools and colleges come to the “Baithak Schools” and share their knowledge and time with these underprivileged children who cannot afford to study in schools like theirs. “This programme provides a platform for outsiders to help these children without having to invest time and money in gathering the resources and children,” says the In-charge of the Collaborative Community Development Programme at SEW. “It bridges the gap between these students and students of mainstream schools.”

The prototype of the programme was initiated in collaboration with Foundation Public School (FPS), whose students spent 24 Saturdays in community service at different branches of the “Bhaitak Schools”. The students of Foundation Public School were given themes like ‘helping others’, ‘a place for better living’, ‘colours around us’ etc to work with each Saturday. In accordance with these themes, students prepared lectures, demonstrations and other creative work to carry out with the children. They also taught the children pot-painting, drawing, collage work, sentence construction etc.

“Alongside their regular studies, we wanted the Baithak children to learn new skills as a result of this programme,” says Shaheen Arif, Co-ordinator of the Pehlwangoth branch.

The students of Foundation Public School also added to the infrastructure of the school by painting walls, setting-up a library for the children and re-organizing the office.

“It was an invigorating experience,” says a student of FPS who was a part of this programme. “It brought passion into out hearts.”

Most of the FPS students found it to be ‘an excellent experience’ and said it was a process of ‘two-way learning’ wherein they not only taught the Bhaitak students different skills but also learned many things from them.

Speaking about an extremely misbehaved child whom the FPS students helped transform into a more disciplined student, the In-charge of the CCDP says, “He could have been tomorrow’s terrorist, thief or criminal, but the attention the FPS students gave him helped transform him into a better Pakistani.”

Miss Zeba, the principal of the FPS branch whose students were a part of this programme describes this as “touching their lives”. Indeed, this programme helped touch the lives of many students who are less privileged than their counterparts who study in elite private schools. It also helped bridge the gap between the two extremes in our educational system. Programmes like these are desperately needed in societies like ours where the gap between the rich and the poor is growing day by day.

An edited version of this article was published in The News, Iqra page, March 21, 2008.

Love is a potent emotion and it is one of the most vulnerable avenues by which the Shaitan attacks and misleads people. When limits are crossed in love, we often fall into the most despised sin in the sight of Allah, and that is the sin of Shirk (associating partners with Allah). We have the example of the people of Nuh (a.s) who, because of  their great reverence and love for their pious elders, ended up making idols of them which later generations began to worship.

Whenever the expression of love deviates from the method taught to us by the Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) and His Messenger (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) it opens doors to shirk and innovation and we fall into sin while thinking we are involved in worship.

Love for the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, is an essential part of our Iman. A Muslim’s Iman (faith) cannot be complete unless he/she loves the Prophet more than all other creation. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “None of you believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his child, and all of mankind.”  (Bukhari and Muslim)

And the Muslim must hold the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, dearer than his/her own self. This is made clear by the following hadith. Narrated ‘Abd Allah bin Hisham: ‘We were with the Prophet (s.a.w) and he was holding the hand of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (r.a).  ‘Umar said to him, “O Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w)! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.” Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w) said: “No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete Faith) until I am dearer to you than your own self.”  Then ‘Umar (r.a) said: “However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.”  He (s.a.w) then said: “Now, O ‘Umar, (now you are a believer).” (Bukhari)

We see nowadays, that it has become fashionable to claim to love the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and to sing elaborate praises to him and make exaggerated claims of all that we could do for him. Sadly, these claims stand void when it comes to practicing what we say. Allah (s.w.t) says in the Quran:

“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” (Surah As-Saff 61:2-3)

The best way to express our love for the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is to follow his teachings and his Sunnah. The companions who greatly loved the Prophet (s.a.w.) expressed this love by following him in every deed to the extent that even if he had his upper button open they would follow him. Urwah Ibn Masood speaking about this to the Quraish, once said:

“O people, I swear by Allah that I have visited kings. I went to Caesar, Chasroes and the Negus, but I swear by Allah that I never saw a king whose companions venerated him as much as the companions of Muhammad venerated Muhammad. By Allah, whenever he spat it never fell to the ground, it fell into the hand of one his companions, then they would wipe their faces and skins with it. If he instructed them to do something, they would hasten to do as he commanded. When he did wudoo´, they would almost fight over his water. When he spoke they would lower their voices in his presence; and they did not stare at him out of respect for him.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “All of my ummah will enter Paradise except those who refuse.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, who would refuse?” He said: “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me has refused.” (Bukhari)

Thus, we see that the true way of expressing our love for the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is to obey him and follow his Sunnah. This sincere advice of the Prophet (s.a.w) is particularly pertinent here: “I urge you to follow my Sunnah and the way of the rightly-guided khaleefahs after me; adhere to it and cling to it firmly. Beware of newly-invented things, for every newly-invented thing is an innovation (Bid‘ah) and every innovation is a going-astray.” (Ahmad & Tirmidhi)

A paradox of ours is that we can spend thousands of rupees on a gathering the Prophet (s.a.w) never held, but we cannot feed seventy needy people or build one school for the poor. We can take out time to listen to people singing elaborate praises to the Prophet (s.a.w), but we cannot take out time to learn the Sunnah way of Salah. We can illuminate our homes and streets with lights commemorating the birth of the Prophet (s.a.w), but we cannot illuminate our lives with the two things he brought—the Quran and the Sunnah.

We sing excessive praises to the Prophet (s.a.w), but we forget that he taught us: “Do not extol me as the Christians extolled the son of Maryam. For I am just His slave, so call me the slave of Allaah and His Messenger” (Bukhari). We claim to sacrifice our lives for him, but we cannot sacrifice one un-islamic festival that has become a part of out weddings and which goes against the teachings he brought. What kind of love is this?

If the Prophet (s.a.w) were to come today to spend time with us, would we feel happy or restricted? Would we keep living our day-to-day life the way we do, or would we have to change or ways significantly? Would he be proud to see how our homes are decorated and how we spend our time or would we have to do a quick but temporary makeover only to please him?

I believe this provides enough food for thought.

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An edited versioon of this was published in The News, Educationzine, March 1, 2008.

Childhood is one of the most innocent periods of an individual’s life. For those who are already raising their eyebrows at reading the word ‘innocent’ associated with children, it should suffice to say that the children whom they call ‘little devils’ are in fact at a crucial stage of their lives when consistent planning and effort can help mould them into ‘little angels’.

But the difference is indeed of that consistent planning and effort. What kind of approach is adopted has a major effect on what the turnout is. Teachers, in addition to parents, play a very important role here. They can either build a child’s life or ruin it. It is obvious then that being a teacher is no piece of cake. This role carries with it immense responsibility. Teachers not only have to teach their subjects, they also have to master the art of dealing with children, and that includes controlling their anger and not succumbing to emotions of frustration, desperation or hopelessness.

Knowing how to deal with children, how to react to misbehaviour and knowing when to be stern and when to be soft requires considerable wisdom and understanding. Teachers must know that a soft approach is, in most cases, the best method to adopt. In the few cases that require being stern, it must be clear that that does not involve inflicting physical pain on the child.

Our schools are replete with examples of corporal punishment. One case in point is the recent alarming death of 14-year-old Mudassar Aslam after physical beating by his teacher. Such examples indeed point to a very dark side of the educational system.

Corporal punishment is in no way the answer to misconduct. Students’ behaviour cannot be moulded by harsh penalties meted out to them by teachers. Such measures usually produce fear due to which certain behaviours maybe repressed for sometime but find an outlet some other time. In some cases, this practice also produces rebellion. Research has shown that corporal punishment is associated with an increase in violence and other crimes, depression, alienation and lowered achievement. It also lowers the self-esteem of the child and severely disrupts the learning process.

An interesting analogy can help make clear which approach to teaching and influencing student behaviour is better. When a freshly moulded clay pot is wet and soft, how does one handle it? Surely, anyone that touches it and does not want to ruin the intricate way in which it is moulded handles it with extreme care. They may touch it delicately on the areas needing improvement, being extremely careful not to disturb the other areas. Children too are in this moulding stage. They need to be handled with extreme care. It is their experiences at this stage of life that will shape their personalities in the future. And it is teachers who hold this in their hands.

Love and gentleness have always been more effective than harshness and aggression. Children can learn a lot more if a soft approach is adopted. However, it must be clear that this soft approach must also be principled, since being gentle does not mean compromising on rules and principles. Teachers can be firm in matters of discipline. But then, being firm does not mean being harsh. Inflicting physical pain on the student is thus not acceptable.

A wise man once said: “We can achieve through gentleness much more than with severity. Can’t we see that water grinds away hard rocks?”

Inflicting physical pain on the child is indeed a very negative method of influencing behaviour, which may not even be effective. It is thus very important that teachers realise the impact their actions can have on children and that they adopt a soft, but principled, approach that helps influence the child’s behaviour in a positive and constructive way.

An edited version of this was published in The News, EducationZine, January 19, 2008.

In today’s global competitive environment, education is the vehicle for progress. A strong education system is the prerequisite for any developed society. Sadly, Pakistan’s educational system is plagued by many problems and inefficiencies. To add to the predicament, different sets of educational systems run side by side, imparting very different types of education.

For purposes of space, we will consider only the two major categories: mainstream education imparted by private and public schools, and religious education imparted by Madrassahs or religious seminaries. There is a vast difference in the curricula of both these systems, with the former emphasizing mainly on ‘secular’ education, and the latter on ‘religious’ education. Of late, we see a new type emerging that claims to provide a balance between both religious and secular education and as such, provides a breath of fresh air.

Madrassahs have been around for quite a long time. They have existed since the times of the pre-partitioned subcontinent and have acted to fill a major gap in the education system, especially for those children that come from financially weaker backgrounds. They play an important socio-economic role by providing lodging and education to many who would otherwise have not been able to afford it.

Recently, Madrassahs have come under much pressure to include secular subjects in their curricula. This is justified by bringing to the light the argument that to be equipped with modern education is the need of the present knowledge driven world; and that having modern education will help expand the Madrassah students’ career opportunities, broaden their outlook, bring them into mainstream education and dispel extremist tendencies.

Such arguments indeed hold much weight. By incorporating modern education into their syllabi, Madrassahs will be brought into the mainstream of education thus allowing students to benefit not only from Islamic knowledge but also the modern sciences.

While some Madrassahs have included modern education into their curricula, others have resisted. Their resistance is based primarily on the way they view modern education as ‘secular’ and ‘of the faithless West’.

There is thus a need to change the mindset of those who attend and run these Madrassahs, and of the Muslims in general. We must realise that Islam has never opposed the acquisition of knowledge of science or the humanities. Evidence for this is present in Islamic sources and in the way Muslims of the past utilised the literature of the Greek and other civilizations, which later helped drive the golden age of Islam that saw prominent Muslim scientists, physicists, mathematicians and philosophers like Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, Al-Zahrawi etc whose works are used to this day.

It was these works which later on fueled the Renaissance which was the rebirth of learning in the West. So, while the West took a giant leap ahead in modern education by benefiting from our scholarship, we Muslims fell back by considering these sciences as opposed to Islam, ignoring the fact that the Quran and Sunnah exhort us to ‘read’ and ‘reflect on Allah’s creations’. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said:

“Wisdom is the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it, he should recover it.” (Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi)

Knowledge in itself is not ‘secular’. It is the angle of vision which can make it thus. So, if Madrassahs incorporate modern education into their curricula, they do not necessarily have to teach it with a ‘secular’ vision. In fact, in addition to just benefiting their worldly life, it can help students broaden their knowledge even of religion, by deeply understanding God’s creation etc.

Including modern education in the Madrassah curriculum can also help train competent scholars who will be able to bridge the difference in the understanding of classical Islamic sources and that of the secular world. Such scholars will be able to defend Islam against intellectual attacks from the West. They will be able to reach out to the educated masses and create a better understanding of Islam.

Just like the West benefited from Muslim knowledge during the Renaissance, Muslims can now benefit from Western knowledge to lead to an Islamic Renaissance. And for that, it is necessary that Madrassahs and Muslims in general, recover that lost property wherever they find it.

Published in The News, Educationzine, November 24, 2007.

As exams approach, many students who could otherwise do well, often get bogged down by stress and tension which lowers their performance and prevents them from doing their absolute best.

It is therefore, very important for us to learn how to manage stress and for that matter, how to avoid getting stressed out. The application of this knowledge must not be limited only to exams, because stress accompanies almost every role in life. You may be a student with a deadline hovering around the corner and too much work to do; a housewife experiencing strains in your relationship with your husband; a young graduate facing unemployment and having many mouths to feed; or an entrepreneur pressurized by the cut-throat competition in the corporate world—life is filled with stress which threatens the smooth pace of life and can have detrimental effects on health. But what matters most about a stressful situation is not how bad it is, but how you take it.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid stress and how to fight it back when it actually does come:

1. Take things lightly:

Try to maintain a positive and optimistic attitude towards life. Avoid getting tense and worried over little things. When confronted with a new and difficult situation or project, tell yourself:  “I can do it, it will all come out okay. I’ve been through similar things before.” They say: “The difference between mediocrity and excellence is attitude.” If you approach problems with a positive attitude, you will most certainly make it through.

2. Know you limits:

Many people in their over-enthusiasm to achieve more and more take up too much work upon themselves. Others are unable to say “No” when requests are made to them. Over-commitment and the inability to say “No” is one of the major causes of stress. Learn to say “No” when you know you cannot do it.

3. Get a proper diet and proper sleep:

The food that you take into your body can affect how you handle the stresses that come your way. Take a proper diet rich in essential nutrients, fresh fruits and adequate water. Avoid going hungry when faced with a workload. This only increases stress and sometimes makes you get worried over the smallest of issues. So does going on without sleep just to meet deadlines. Remember that just like any other machine, you must refuel your body and that is done with rest, sleep, food, water, exercise and leisure. Manage your time properly and ensure that you get enough of these “essential fuels” for a healthy life.

4.Ask for help and don’t be afraid to delegate:

Sometimes it is wise to delegate work and ask others to help you instead of trying to tackle all the tasks yourself. Don’t be shy to ask others for help, as long it is not unethical to seek the help of others for a specific task. You can do much more and without stress when you have others to help.

5. Give yourself proper breaks:

Set time out for physical, mental and emotional breaks. The mind relaxes with variety and not just sleep. So, make sure you provide yourself with different activities to help your mind relax.

6. Relaxation exercises:

When you feel the stress clouding over, take out only a few minutes to simply relax by stretching out in a comfortable position and carry out breathing exercises. This can do wonders to your stress level. Concentrate on breathing deeply and slowly. You can also use your powers of imagination to envision yourself in a tranquil setting. This will help your mind and body relax and you will feel at peace. Short afternoon naps can also help ease the chaotic situation you find your mind in.

7. Seek Social Support:

Social support from friends and family, or from others such as teachers or counselors can be very helpful at coping with stress. Talk out your problems with those who listen and whom you trust. You will feel lighter by doing this. Psychologists have found that talking about one’s problems is one of the most effective coping strategies. People who have strong socially supportive relations to listen to them when they talk about their stresses, problems, frustrations and pains have been found to be higher on the psychological and subjective well-being scale.

8. Hope:

When matters seem to be taking on strides where you feel there is nothing you can do and when you feel helpless, the best way to cope is to live with it. Hope in being able to live through it, many a time helps people survive the worst of circumstances. Strong faith and prayer can help us survive the most unbearable of situations. A common quote in this regard is: “If God has brought you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Therefore, what really determines stress is how you react to what comes your way. You yourself can determine your level of stress, it is only a matter of taking control and not giving in.

Published in The News, Iqra page, August 31, 2007.

Spring heralds a season of happiness, joy and colour—a time when nature is in full bloom. One such season is about to dawn upon us. However, this is not the spring of nature but the spring of Islam or the spring of good deeds—the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is the month of blessings; the month of greatness; the month of kindness and good deeds; the month of patience; the month of charity; the month of mercy, forgiveness and freedom from the Hell Fire; the month of the revelation of the Quran and the month of the blessed night of Laylat-ul-Qadr. With so many positive words used to describe this month, it would be a loss indeed to miss it and let it pass by like any other month.

Ramadan is the month when the Quran was revealed.

This month brings with it feelings of joy, peace and spirituality which cannot be expressed in words. It is in this month that the spirit of Islam blossoms to its absolute best. Good deeds and acts of kindness dot this month like flowers in a lush garden. Things that we don’t normally do throughout the year, we do eagerly during Ramadan. An unexplainable aura of spirituality fills the air, and most muslims, whether very religiously inclined or not, can feel it. Every moment of this month carries with it such great treasures of excellence and blessings that voluntary good deeds (nawafil) reach the ranks of obligatory deeds (faraiz) and the (reward of) obligatory acts becomes seventy times greater. (Baihaqi)

It is in this blessed month that we received the great blessing of the Holy Quran and the blessing of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as the Messenger of Allah (swt). And not only this. In this month lies another treasure more valuable than thousand months of effort and all the wealth we could amass in them—the blessed night of Laylat-ul-Qadr which is described in the Quran as better than a thousand months.

Ramadan is basically the month of fasting as fasting is made compulsory during this month. Allah says in the Quran:

“Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa.” (Al-Baqarah:183)

Fasting is one form of ibadah that is unique from all others

Abu Huraira (ra) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “ The reward for every good deed of a person is increased by ten to seven hundred times (according to the intention and sincerity); but in respect of the reward for fasting Allah proclaims: “Fasting is for Me and I, Myself shall bestow the reward. The person who fasts forgoes his desires, eating and drinking for My sake. He will be entitled to two kinds of delights: one at the time of breaking the fast and the other at the time of meeting his Lord” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Many ahadith of the Prophet (s.a.w) emphasize on the fact that the one who is deprived of the blessing of Ramadan is indeed unfortunate. At one instance the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is reported to have said ‘Ameen’ to Jibrael’s (a.s.) prayer for destruction for the one who witnesses Ramadan but does not have his sins forgiven. (Hakim)

The Prophet ( used to prepare his companions before the coming of Ramadan to benefit fully from the treasures this month has to offer. The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) addressed his companions on the last day of Sha`ban, saying, “Oh people! A great month has come over you; a blessed month; a month in which is a night better than a thousand months; a month in which Allah has made it compulsory upon you to fast by day, and voluntary to pray by night. Whoever draws nearer (to Allah) by performing any of the (optional) good deeds in (this month) shall receive the same reward as performing an obligatory deed at any other time, and whoever discharges an obligatory deed in (this month) shall receive the reward of performing seventy obligations at any other time. It is the month of patience, and the reward of patience is Heaven. It is the month of charity, and a month in which a believer’s sustenance is increased. Whoever gives food to a fasting person to break his fast, shall have his sins forgiven, and he will be saved from the Fire of Hell, and he shall have the same reward as the fasting person, without his reward being diminished at all.” (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah)

Now imagine: if you were told that there is a sale somewhere and that your most needed items and most favourite things are available there at the lowest rates and in great quantities, would you not race to avail this opportunity? Would you not spend the night planning all you want to get and then spend the next day shopping and then try to stuff as many things in your car as possible? Maybe you would even hire a bigger vehicle to fit in all that you want. You would cancel routine plans, arrange alternate replacements for tasks in which you are needed but dare you miss this opportunity!

Now compare this to the excellent month that is about to dawn upon you with all its treasure trove of blessing being showered each day and each moment. Abu Huraurah (r.a) related that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: “On the very first night of Ramadan, the Satan’s and rebellious jinns are chained. The doors of Hell are closed; not a single one of these is left open. Whereas all the doors of paradise are opened, not a single one of these is left closed. And a proclaimer (angel) announces, “O seeker of goodness! Advance and do not delay. O seeker of evil, halt!” And in every night of Ramadan, Allah liberates people from Hell.” (Ibn Majah)

To gain maximum benefit from this month we must make effort, plan and prioritize and try to manage our time in such a way as to capitalize on its every moment. The Prophet (s.a.w) said: “Whoever fasts in Ramadan with faith and seeks Allah’s pleasure and reward will have his previous sins forgiven.”

Complete pending tasks, get over with Eid shopping, prepare in advance for those fancy meals (possibly by preparing and freezing items used in Ramadan) to minimize time spent in other activities. Get everything done before this month arrives! And plan the best use of your time. During Ramdan, be sure to take out some time to understand the Quran and learn about the life the Prophet (s.a.w) in addition to other acts of worship.

So, as the doors of the heavens open for the shower of blessings, we must prepare the land in order for it to produce the best fruits…Let’s sow our seeds and pray to Allah to give us the opportunity to reap the greatest benefit and then do our best.

Are you ready?

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