My Salah Mat – A welcomed innovation.

One of the greatest joys and fears as a Muslim father is watching your kids emulate you in everything they do. As young parents, we were determined to set a good example for our kids and this alone was a key factor in many of the lifestyle choices we made as a family.

I recall taking my son to the Mosque with me from a very young age which I believe was a key factor in his understanding and love for Salaah. By creating a positive relationship with the Masjid from a young age, he was always excited to accompany me for Salaah. By observing me and everyone else around him, it wasn’t long before he began praying as he saw us pray and this extended beyond the walls of the Masjid too. I am so grateful for this experience with my son and I do believe that it was his early exposure to Salaah and the Masjid that contributed to his enthusiasm and appreciation for prayer in general.

Take your kids to the Masjid and show them how you pray well before you teach them about the importance of Salaah or even how to perform Salaah. That early foundation of love and familiarity will form the basis for their understanding of the fiqh later on. Based on my experience with my son, I wrote a post back in 2015 on how to encourage kids to pray with you which you can peruse here.

When it came to my daughter a few years later, we had a very different experience. She wasn’t as energetic about visiting the Masjid, she wasn’t excited about emulating me or mum when we prayed either. Kids learn and develop differently so I wasn’t too concerned but I was hopeful that my little girl would also come to appreciate the sweetness of prayer as her brother did.

Though this wasn’t of great concern to me, I have been searching for ways to encourage her to pray with us and when I came across My Salah Mat a few months ago, I thought it would be a great opportunity to create some excitement about Salah again. I am grateful for the opportunity to share our experience with this amazing new product.

First up, the service was fantastic. Once we finalised the details and logistics, I received a notification that the item was dispatched and I received it 3 days later all the way down in Brisbane, Australia. This was great since I had already told my daughter about it and she was ecstatic to check it out.

We received our package on a Friday morning and unboxed it immediately. The packaging and bright colours were so enticing that my little girl who hadn’t shown much interest in praying until then asked if she could pray on the mat. I rushed to find batteries and had it up and running in no time.

A few notables:

  • The 36 touch-sensitive keys guide you from Wudhu right through to completion of each prayer including Adhan and recommended dua’s.
  • The brightly coloured keys contain basic information regarding each step of the prayer process including the number of rak’ a in each prayer, when to recite aloud or not and even basic prayer times through the day.
  • By using touch-sensitive triggers, the mat is able to encourage the correct position and movements for prayer.
  • The mat is waterproof and fire-resistant making it very durable.
  • The bright colours are very attractive and appear almost toy-like.
  • The activity book is great fun and even contains basic information on Salaah, dua and surahs.

When I returned from Jumuah later that day, my little girl ran up to me and shouted ‘Guess what daddy? I prayed with mummy today’, I smiled and thought to myself, this review just wrote itself! We were pleasantly surprised and I was reassured that everything has its time, sometimes we just have to try different things and be patient particularly when teaching our kids about our faith.

My little girl is now regularly praying with us and has also begun enjoying our trips to the Masjid. We attended Jumuah together last week and she was proud to stand beside me and pray as she does on her special prayer mat at home. I am thrilled by the results we’ve had with this product and absolutely grateful for the opportunity to work with the team behind this amazingly innovative device.

If you’d like to order one or know someone who might benefit from this product, check out the My Salah Mat website and for a limited time, use code ‘modestman10’ for a 10% discount at checkout. See other reviews and how people are using their Salah Mats on Instagram @MySalahMat and follow me@ModestManStuff – Salaam.

Disclaimer: I received this product at a discounted price in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Views expressed and images are my own.

10 tips for the greatest days of the year…

The month of Dhul Hijjah has always been a notable event on our calendar. As a child, my first real memory of this month was the year my parents made the pilgrimage. More recently I feared having to leave my own kids to perform our pilgrimage and since performing Hajj 2 years ago, this blessed month has a special place in my memory and in my heart.

While the pilgrimage is the ultimate act to perform during these Blessed days, we shouldn’t restrict God’s mercy and blessing to the pilgrims alone. The Blessings of this month transcend the plains of the holy lands and we should all be striving to achieve more in them.

Eid-Ul-Adha has always lacked the enthusiasm and zeal with which we anticipate and celebrate Eid-Ul-Fitr each year and I believe this is closely linked to the manner in which we spend the days leading up to it.

We spend an entire month sacrificing, reforming, reflecting and reciting in Ramadan which leaves us with a true appreciation of the celebration of Eid-Ul-Fitr. We need to apply this to Dhul Hijjah and in particular, these blessed 10 days so we can also earn the joy and blessings of the celebration of Eid-Ul-Adha.

10 tips for the greatest 10 days of the year:

  1. Reciting more Quran
  2. Reading and Reflecting on the meaning of the Quran
  3. Visiting the Musjid more often
  4. Optional prayers throughout the day/night
  5. Increased charity
  6. Reading and seeking Islamic Knowledge
  7. Increased Dhikr and the remembrance of Allah – particularly Tahleel, Takbeer and Tahmeed*
  8. Optional Fasting – at least fasting on the day of Arafah.
  9. Hajj activities with the family**
  10. Teaching the kids about Hajj and the importance of Udhiya/Qurban

Think about how you spent the last ten nights of Ramadan… and do it again!

* Tahleel = La Ilaha Illallah, Takbeer = Allahu Akbar, Tahmeed = Alhamdulillah

** Check out some of our previous years Hajj activities here.

May we all benefit from the Blessed days of Dhul Hijjah and may the efforts of those who are performing Hajj be accepted.

When interests align…

Taking time out each day to unwind and play with the kids has been a big part of our parenting strategy over the last 8 years. On most days it’s something we and the kids look forward to and when things get crazy or the routine changes, it becomes a fall-back, a safety net of sorts that we could all bank on at the end of the day. 

Avengers… Assembled.


The other day as I was setting up our Lego Avengers HQ with my son, I thought about a piece of parenting advice I came across a few years ago. I don’t recall the details but it was about taking a real interest in the things that interest your kids. Simple advice that stuck with me over the years which I am very grateful for. 


It got me thinking about all the ‘play-time’ activities that truly bring a smile to their faces. It’s the things we share an interest in that gets us excited and when we’re excited, we let down our guard, we get involved and actually ‘play’. This is where the magic happens.


I shared my interest in cars and superheroes with my son when he was a toddler without realising that they would become a great source of joy and bonding for us later on. We have our ups and downs, sometimes life gets the better of me but we can always connect and talk about cars or superheroes. Much like I can always connect with my dad on all things automobile. 


Children will seek out their curiosities and find their own interests but we have an opportunity while their young to nurture shared interests that will allow us to bond with them for years to come. 


Sounds easy enough but the catch is that we have to be willing to indulge them. Let down our guard, get on all fours and actually play with them. For some reason, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. We’re too busy, too tired, too old, or otherwise pre-occupied. We tell them to play, buy them toys, give them whatever they want but not what they need… our time, our interest. 


The mistake we make when becoming fathers is that we assume that fatherhood changes who we are. That we need to act ‘fatherly’, that fatherhood removes our inner child, our desire to play. We have to ‘man-up’ and be more responsible. All true, but no one ever said it had to come at the expense of our children’s childhood. Becoming a father should be our gateway back to our childhood, it provides an opportunity for us to re-live our childhood and re-visit our inner child. 


If we let go of our ego’s and allow ourselves to find our inner child, perhaps we’ll be better equipped to nurture and raise our own kids. 


I’m a Marvel fanboy that plays with lego, I watch super-hero movies and ‘invest’ in superhero merchandise. I have the Avengers assembled on my office desk and sip my coffee from an Iron Man mug. If anyone questions my actions or doubts my maturity, I like to remind them that…

‘we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing’ – George Bernard Shaw.

5 tips from an 8-year-old for the last 10 nights of Ramadan…

As we drove to Taraweeh a few nights ago, my son asked me if he could accompany me to Taraweeh prayers more often during the last 10 nights of Ramadan. I was impressed and I wasn’t sure how to respond since he’s at school this year and I wouldn’t want to make a commitment I couldn’t follow through on. I told him it was a great idea and that we could think about it over the next few days.

 
This got us talking about the significance of the last 10 nights of Ramadan and Layaltul Qadr which we discussed in detail when he memorised Surah Al-Qadr a few years ago. He has an excellent understanding for his age so I gave him some homework to come up with a few tips for kids to benefit from the last 10 nights of Ramadan and Laylatul Qadr. 


These are 5 tips from an 8-year-old on how to benefit from the last 10 nights of Ramadan:

  • Read the Quran and revise surahs every night
  • Go for Taraweeh prayers as often as possible
  • Read Ramadan Stories 
  • Give charity at the Masjid every night
  • Don’t waste time watching tv and playing video games

I was pretty impressed with the list so I told him I would share it. May Allah bless him. 

Easy and simple tips from the mind of an innocent kid who doesn’t have the burden of guilt, societal pressure or judgement. 

I pray you and your families benefit from these special nights and have a productive end to this blessed month. Ameen. 

Ramadan endgame…

When we become neglectful during Ramadan, there’s always the promise of redemption in the last ten nights. Once we reach the last third though, there’s less room for error. We’re in the endgame now. 


Our faith is diverse and flexible so everyone’s worship is somewhat unique to there own circumstances. Fluctuating levels of faith also make it difficult for a one-size-fits-all approach so these last 10 nights could mean different things to different people. 


Where ever you’re at with your worship, no matter your level of faith right now or the number of missed opportunities over the last 20 days… there is always room for improvement, there is always hope in the boundless mercy of our Lord. 


The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.” – Sunan Ibn Majah.


My game-plan for the last ten nights of Ramadan:


Quran before bed: I usually read Quran after Fajr and Asr so I’ll be adding some time at night to increase my recitation. 


Nafl prayer before bed: My post-Taraweeh time has been less productive recently so I’ll be adding Nafl prayers to increase my worship at night. 


Nightly charity: Small amounts regularly will allow you to maximise rewards and also create a habit of being charitable.

Check out My10Nights to automate your donations and ensure you don’t miss the opportunity of giving in charity on Laylatul Qadr. Many Masjids now have tap and pay facilities making it quick and convenient to donate every night.


Consistency is key because we’re at the tail end of the month, it won’t take too much for us to burn out. Small acts done regularly and consistently over the next 10 nights will allow us to end this blessed month on a high while also creating a few good habits with which to leave Ramadan with.


Whatever your gameplan, I pray you have a blessed end to Ramadan. May we be among those who find and achieve the blessings of Laylatul Qadr. 

Ruqyah & Meditation

My son recently went through a phase of fear, insecurity and what appeared to be mild anxiety. He went from being loud and very talkative to being very soft, quiet and scared for some reason. 


At first I assumed he might be having trouble at school since it was his first term at school after 3 years of homeschooling. Then we noticed that he was still excited about school and seemed to get into this quiet mode around 5 pm each evening. 


My indo-pak-ish family speculated that it was the evil eye. I even heard about egg-related rituals etc. but I decided that if it was indeed, something along those lines, I would deal with it according to the Sunnah. No eggs were harmed.

 
I pulled out my ‘Ruqyah’ book and did some research on what the best practice would be. My wife felt the same way and asked me to perform Ruqyah for him so I did and I was  absolutely gobsmacked at the results. 


He went from tearing and sulking that night to dancing down the stairs the next morning and we haven’t had any issues since. 


I have always erred on the side of caution when dealing with culture-heavy rituals and practices so this was not new to me but I was amazed at the simplicity, the sense of peace and of course, the results. Completely vegan friendly too. 


Following this, we also added meditation to our nightly routine again which I’ve found to be very effective in calming the mind and facilitating mindfulness, gratitude and better sleep. 


Hoping to put together a summary of both, the Ruqyah practice and our nightly meditation soon. 

Mothers Day thoughts

Growing up in an indo-pak Muslim environment, love, respect and servitude to your mother is almost instinctive. We read about this in Madrasah, listened to entire sermons on the topic and even sang songs about the elevated status mothers have in our faith. 

Ironically, it’s the same culture that will propagate against the celebration of Mother’s Day each year which is something I’ve reflected on for many years.

 
The reason I don’t ‘celebrate’ Mothers Day is because I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve my parents everyday. If you love and take care of her everyday then Mother’s Day becomes just another day. 


Modernity has slowly but surely removed much of the emotional and spiritual bonding between parents and children, particularly teenage and adult children so unfortunately, not everyone has the ability to love, respect and serve their mothers every day. For these people, at least there is Mother’s Day. 


If you look beyond the mindless capitalism and token gestures you will find an innate desire to love and show love even if it’s just for this one day and I don’t see why anyone should ridicule that. 


The commercialisation of Mother’s Day is frustrating in many ways but equally frustrating is the judgement calls from narrow minded,  self-righteous keyboard warriors making people, Muslim or otherwise feel like there is something wrong in displaying love or affection for your mother on this day. 


Mothers Day is not Haram and every day is not Mother’s Day for everyone. 

أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ

“Be grateful to Me and to both your parents.” (31:14)


If everyday is Mothers Day for you, be grateful for that. If not, let Mother’s Day serve as a reminder of the importance of loving, respecting and serving her. In Sha Allah there is Khair in Mother’s Day too. 

Afternoon reboots…

“The replenishing thing that comes with a nap — you end up with two mornings in a day.” – Pete Hamill. 

The Qaylulah, Siesta or power nap has been a part of my Ramadan arsenal for a few years now and I think I may have finally mastered the art. As someone who is sleep averse and does not/can not nap at any time during the rest of the year, I find great solace in adopting this prophetic-inspired habit during the month of Ramadan. 

In Arabic, “Al Qaylulah” means “the mid-day rest”, which can be a short nap or rest period. It was a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) as well as his companions.

“We used to offer the Jumuah Salaah with Nabi (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) and then take the afternoon nap.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is the most practical means of maximising morning productivity while facilitating the balance in energy levels to allow for the endurance and stamina needed for the rest of the day.  I honestly can not fathom a Ramadan routine without it.

Ishaaq ibn ‘Abd-Allah said: “Taking a nap is one of the deeds of good people. It revitalizes the heart and helps one to pray Qiyaam Al-Layl.”

It does just that. While there is a plethora of health and other benefits associated with day time naps, I’m grateful for the wisdom in this simple but often overlooked Islamic tradition. 

The mid-Ramadan slump…

When the fasts get slow, when the days feel long and the Taraweeh lines get short…

We go trough this every year and I think everyone experiences it in some way or the other. It’s important to acknowledge that this is happening so you can deal with it and re-energize ahead of the last 10 days.

Focus on quality over quantity. Remember, everyone’s worship is different and fluctuations in your level of faith or Imaan are completely natural and normal. We can not experience the highs without the lows.

  • Take a break from your Ramadan routine – change things up.
  • Reflect on the importance of Ramadan and what you’ve achieved so far.
  • Read the translation of the Quran to compliment your Arabic recitation.
  • Get some rest, catch up on some sleep.
  • Listen to motivational lectures about Ramadan.
  • Listen to the recitation of the Quran.

Don’t make Ramadan unnecessarily hectic and it won’t be a blurred memory. By taking some time out during the middle 10 days of Ramadan, we can improve our chances of maximising the final 10 days/nights.

Decide on what your core Ibadah actions are and focus on achieving this as a minimum during the middle 10 days. Plan ahead and establish some sort of direction for the final 10 days/nights of Ramadan and then give it all you have In Sha Allah!

In the words of Muhammad Ali, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count’.

Ramadan game-plan…

The month of Ramadan is almost upon and as always, is a month of spiritual devotion, reflection and discipline. As part of my Ramadan preparation each year, I like to reflect on Ramadan’s gone and plan ahead to make the most of this blessed of months.

 

Plan Ahead
If you seek to gain maximum benefit in any activity, planning is essential. Whether you’re studying, working or at home, Ramadan requires preparation. Physical and psychological preparation is just as important as spiritual preparation and combined, can make a significant impact on the quality of your Ramadan experience.

 

Meal planning, food preparation, priority management and efficiency strategies are vital to a productive and spiritual Ramadan. Everyone has their own way of adjusting to a new routine but don’t underestimate the importance of planning even the little things ahead of Ramadan.

 

Fasting
The month’s leading up to Ramadan provide a number of opportunities to get yourself back into the fasting groove. It might be a year since your last fast so it’s a good idea to test your mental and physical resolve with a prep fast. I find fasting outside of Ramadan to be more challenging but it also helps me realise how well I can cope without all the coffee and protein shakes.

 

Clean eating
What you eat and drink can greatly impact your ability to last the fast as well as your level of productivity while fasting. For some reason, some cultures associate fasting with greasy, deep fried anything and everything which tastes amazing but will also make you lethargic in your prayers. Not to mention the reflux, heartburn and weight gain.

 

Drink lots of water through the night and avoid high sugar and salty foods. Watermelon, cucumbers and dates make for awesome snacking and keep you refreshed for the night prayer. Green Tea is a good source of natural caffeine for the extra energy hit if you’re feeling down after a long day of fasting. Coffee is probably not the best at Iftar but I do look forward to my post-Iftar cuppa which helps me re-energise for Taraweeh.

 

Read Quran
We should be reciting the Quran on a regular basis anyway but Ramadan is the month of the Quran so there is almost a natural inclination towards a greater awareness of the book and it’s message. Increase your recitation and aim to complete at least one cycle of the Quran during the month of Ramadan. Recitation is important, understanding is key so try to compliment your recitation with the Tafseer or explanation of the verses.

 

Family Time
The change of routine associated with Ramadan is not a bad thing. Play your cards right and the new routine can shake things up at home for the better. If your kids are early birds like mine are, they will love waking up early and getting a head start on the day. Suhoor and Iftar are great opportunities for family bonding and spiritual enlightenment. Eat together, have a picnic in the backyard, pray as a family and let Ramadan be something your family looks forward to every year. Don’t stop at Iftar, post-Taraweeh date night can be very romantic too – late night dessert and dhikr is a good way to end the the day.

 

Charity
Ramadan is also the month of giving. Give a little, give a lot, every bit counts. Always carry cash so you can contribute to the local Masjid collection box, pay your Zakaat in Ramadan for extra rewards and increase your voluntary charity throughout the month. Ramadan is the perfect time to teach the kids about charity and the value of giving. We always have charity boxes handy for the kids which gets them collecting throughout the month. Give money, give your time, give food, give prayers… we all have something to give.

 

Keep Busy
Work, school and other commitments don’t stop for Ramadan so it’s important to find the right balance. What you do in your downtime can make a huge difference, don’t waste time with meaningless activities. Give thought to the things you do and find meaning in your actions. If you find yourself with some time on your hands, do something good, it doesn’t have to be something big. Help with Iftar preparations, go early to the Musjid, visit the sick, perform optional prayers or read a (beneficial) book. Sometimes, a changed perspective is the only difference between meaningless and meaningful.

 

Keep going
In the words of Rocky Balboa, ‘It ain’t about how hard ya hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward’. Life will always get you down or get in the way, that’s part of the struggle. If you find yourself falling behind, perhaps the fasting proves difficult or you have difficulty coping with other commitments, just keep going. Have a plan, do your best to stick to it and make an effort. One of the beauties of Ramadan and fasting is that the reward is with Allah alone.

 

I pray for a productive and successful Ramadan In Sha Allah.