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October 25, 2004

Ramadan Public Service Announcements

Being the stellar citizen of the world that I am, I am taking this moment to offer some public service announcements to better your lives

1. I’ve had it with UIC Webmail. Seriously. (i’m sure many of you UIC’ers can relate). I’m sick and tired of how it’s always down when I need to use it for school email. I had thought that by delegating all my school-related mail to my UIC account, I could have all my school-related stuff in a logical place. I was also enticed by the bigger account size that is given to post-grad students. Needless to say, like with many things at UIC, it was such a tease. The service is always down when I need to send an important email. Even when the website is up, it takes like 3-4 minutes after I enter my ID and password to log into the damn thing. Moreover, I think UIC is selling my email address to outside companies (being the opportunistic cheapskates they are) to raise money–since they’re always “in debt”… which is a LIE, cause I’ve seen some of the department parties and expenses that their highly touted research departments have… complete waste. I thought at least at my school account I wouldn’t have to receive spam, but sure enough, I receive emails about the latest cell phone deals, the upcoming bhangra parties, and stupid deals only “available to UIC alumni”. Due to all these transgressions, I’m declaring jihad on UIC Webmail. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’ve declared jihad nonetheless. So let it be written, so let it be done.

2. Please stop complaining to your local Imam that taraweeh is taking too long. There is no Cliff Notes version of the Qur’an that your imam can read instead of the whole Book. And no, even though the story of Musa is mentioned about 40 times in the Qur’an, your imam will not skip one of those times to make it go faster. And stop telling him to read faster too. I say this because last week, several people complained that taraweeh is taking too long at the masjid where I lead at. I tried explaining to them Isha, Taraweeh, Tafseer, Du’a and Witr takes a good two hrs at any masjid. Some people also said I read slow (which has been a historical complaint) which really ticked me off… and which led to me saying something (because I wasn’t going to speed up for anyone) that I won’t mention here. But Wallahi (I never use this word, if you’ve noticed), there is such an ecstasy of the heart and joy of the soul that cannot be described to those who don’t know the Qur’an or Arabic. This joy, if weighed against all the possible “highs” that people can get from recreational drugs, will outweigh that, as if one were to weigh a mountain against a mustard seed. If people understood this euphoria, not only would they never ask their imam to read faster, but they’d actually ask him to read slower so they too can bask in this sweet felicity as the Words of God enter through the tunnels of the ear and lodge themselves in the heart, establishing themselves as kings in that vast kingdom. The Queen of Sheba–quite astutely–mentions in the Qur’an, “Indeed when kings enter a realm, ruin it, and make the highest of its inhabitants to be low; and this they always do.” The diseases of our hearts have established themselves as false kings within the kingdom of our hearts; the Words of God are the means for which the true King of Kings can enter our hearts and lay waste to those propped-up kings. Bottom line: there is nothing better you can be doing in the evening that to stand in prayer and listen to the Qur’an. Stop complaining to your imams and asking them to read faster. The goal of taraweeh isn’t to fly through the Qur’an. The purpose of taraweeh ought to be to allow the Qur’an to work its magic on you.

3. Stop leaving after 8 rak’ahs. The World Series, your favorite sitcom, or the news is not so important that people leave after 8 rak’ah. I swear, this is one of my biggest pet peeves in this month because it kills the spiritual atmosphere that is present during the first 8 rak’ah. When I’m leading and I see a crowd of people, it makes me feel joyous to be part of something so beautiful… and then when these people leave, it just kills that feeling of togetherness and it begs the question: Do you have something better to do? And don’t even raise the weak argument of 8 rak’ahs only… this is Ramadan, I don’t want to waste my time tearing that stupid argument apart. Bottom line: 8 rak’ahs = 40% sawaab vs 20 rak’ahs = 100% sawaab.

4. Don’t eat a heavy meal and come to Taraweeh.  My boy Hisham talked about this (may Allah smoothen and soften his earlobes) on his website about people burping and ruining the peaceful atmosphere of the prayer. Thank God that at least for 10 rak’ahs, I don’t have to stand next to anyone… but the other 10 rak’ahs… man, there are some burps that make me gag. And I’ve been through anatomy lab, so my nose can handle the worst of smells. But seriously, if you do eat a heavy meal, take the 5 minutes to mouthwash, brush, and floss your teeth before coming to the masjid (do all 3). Consider it as an act of charity to others. The best thing to do would be to follow the classic Huffaz diet in Ramadan. This will prevent you from contaminating the air at your local masjid, keep you energetic during the day, and allow you to enjoy that big meal:

Suhoor: cereal or some other breakfast food; dates; water.

Iftar: three dates, water, mango shake (NOT rooh afza, God forbid), 1-2 samosas, 1-2 pakoras. NO POST-MAGHRIB MEAL.

Post-Taraweeh Dinner: a standard meal, a perfect end to the Ramadan day.


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  1. Anonymous permalink

    Straight up.  LOL jIHAD UIC MAIL.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Also take a dump if need be after you eat and pre taraweeh.
    actually on second thought, not if need be, force it.. clear the stomach.

  3. have u tried linking ure webmail to outlook? thats what i did…my webmail works fine now and more efficiently. props on the 40% vs. 100% comment.

  4. Interestingly enough, most of the Gulf, save for the Kaa’ba, does 8 rakat for Tarawiah. And, they don’t read the whole Qur’an, just some of the longer suras.  I wonder what the origin of the reciting the whole Qur’an during Tarawiah.
    My only disagreement about your eight Rakat argument is that some people might benefit stopping after eight rakat and go and read Qur’an instead.  Granted, there is much benefit from staying the whole 20, but if you start losing focus or your mind starts going all over the place, it may be a better option. Then again, I’m not super-hafiz like you. 😉

  5. Well if the Gulf does it, it must be right!  Please.  In the days of Imam Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), the Medinan community was the vanguard of the Sunnah and the best of examples to the growing Muslim world.  Nowadays, there is not ONE Muslim country, not even those in the Gulf, that I would feel minimally comfortable holding up as an example of Islamic practice.  For all the West-bashing that goes on over there, it’s interesing that every single one of them is selling their nation to Western commercialism.  Maybe its just the analytic and rationalist aspects of the West that they hate so much because they’ve certainly abandoned their own intellectual inheritance from the great Muslim societies of the past.

  6. yeah… what rich said.

  7. i like the term super-hafiz 😉 along with the part of cleaning the air in our masjids by not eating so much.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
    First off, don’t get upset at people for leaving at 8.  From my limited knowledge, doing Taraweeh in jamaat was the Sunnah of Umar (R), not the Prophet (S).  He (S) did not do it so people would not think it necessary, but we do it anyway.
    Second of all, people are at different levels.  Doing 20 rakat taraweeh for you is less than some other brother just waking up for Fajr.  Surely Allah (SWT) is most Just and most Fair, so who are you to judge what can be better or what can be worse?  How would you like it if Imam Abu Hanifa’s pet peeves was that people didn’t stay up all night doing tahajjud or something (which it isn’t I’m making that up).
    Perhaps only doing 8 rakat is better actually, if the Prophet (S) on occasion did only 8 rakat.  What of the ahadith about the three sahaba who came and asked the wives of the Prophet (S) about his life (you know the hadith) and one promised to fast everyday, one to stay up in worship everynight, and 1 not to get married.  Then the Prophet (S) responded that he fasted some days and ate some days, he stayed up some nights and slept some nights, and he got married.
    I disagree with your math.  20 rakat does not necessarily equal 100% sawab, in fact, 8 rakat could equal 100 % sawab and 8 rakat could be 17% sawab.
    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

  9. Listen, Rich, I NEVER said that just because the Gulf does it, its right. So relax, alright?
    I just thought it was interesting that practice of certain things are different.  So I guess your guard your tongue instead of lashing it out without due reason.

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