The Life of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

The Life of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was born in 164 AH in Baghdad. He studied under the great Imam Shafii as well as one of the two greatest students of Imam Abu Hanifa – Qadhi Abu Yusuf. May Allah be pleased with them all. It was narrated he had memorised 1 million Ahadeeth and was known, not only for Fiqh and Hadith, but also exceptional Adab (manners).

The imam was highly praised by his teacher, Imam Shafii (may Allah be pleased with him) who Imam Ahmad and many others considered to be the mujadid (reviver) of the second Islamic century.

Imam Shafii said, 

“I left Baghdad and I did not leave behind me someone more pious, cautious (regarding doubtful matters), understanding (in fiqh) and knowledgable than Ahmad.”

Imam Shafii said,

“Imam Ahmad is an authority in 8 fields – Hadith, Fiqh, Language, Quran, Faqr (poverty), Zuhd (asceticism), Wara (being cautious) and the Sunnah”.

Despite all of the above this, he is most well remembered and recognised for his standing in Al-Mihna (the trials) where was amongst the only scholars who openly defended the religion against the Caliph at the time.

Al-Mihna (The Trials)

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was in Baghdad during the time of the Abbasid Caliph al-Ma’mun, who reigned from 813-833. Although al-Ma’mun was vital to the establishment of Baghdad as an intellectual center, he was heavily influenced by a group known as the Mu’tazila.

Mu’tazili philosophy championed the role of rationalism in all aspects of life, including theology. Thus, instead of relying on the Quran and Sunnah to understand God, they relied on philosophical techniques first developed by the Ancient Greeks. Chief among their beliefs was that the Quran was a created book, as opposed to the un-created literal word of Allah.

Al-Ma’mun believed in the Mu’tazili line of thought, and sought to impose this new and dangerous belief system on everyone in his empire – including the scholars. While many scholars pretended to subscribe to Mu’tazili ideas in order to avoid persecution, Imam Ahmad refused to compromise his beliefs.

Al-Ma’mun instituted an inquisition known as the Mihna. Any scholars who refused to accept Mu’tazili ideas was severely persecuted and punished. Imam Ahmad, as the most famous scholar of Baghdad, was brought before al-Ma’mun and ordered to abandon his traditional Islamic beliefs about theology.

When he refused, he was tortured and imprisoned. His treatment at the hands of the political authority was extremely severe. People who witnessed the torture commented that even an elephant could not have handled the treatment that Imam Ahmad was subject to. Despite all of this, Imam Ahmad held to traditional Islamic beliefs, and thus served as an inspiration for Muslims throughout the empire.

His trials set the precedent that Muslims do not give up their beliefs regardless what the political authority imposes on them. In the end, Imam Ahmad outlived al-Ma’mun and his successors until the Caliph al-Mutawakkil ascended in 847 and ended the Mihna. Imam Ahmad was again free to teach the people of Baghdad and write.

During this time, he wrote his famous Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, one of the largest available collections of hadith that served as the basis of his school of legal thought, the Hanbali Madhab.

To read more on Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal’s life go to: http://lostislamichistory.com/imam-ahmad-ibn-hanbal/

How can Muslims practice mindfulness?

The 4 Aspects of Islamic Mindfulness

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instil conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

Mindfulness is a term we hear a lot today. It is generally understood to be a form of meditation and self-awareness, vaguely associated with Buddhist or Zen practices.

From the Islamic context, whilst ‘mindfulness’ as it’s generally understood today has many benefits, its major shortcoming – and likely the reason for its widespread popularity – is the absence of a requirement for God-consciousness or theological understanding for any practitioner.

Instead, the Islamic tradition espouses the practice of muraqabah, the vigilant awareness of Allah and one’s relationship with Him. Indeed, the traditional understanding of this concept not only includes mindfulness as we understand it today, but encompasses it within an orthodox understanding of Allah and the responsibilities He has given us.

According to Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, muraqabah involves an active, conscious awareness of 4 aspects:

Knowledge of Allah

Our knowledge of Allah [God] comes only from the understanding which He Himself gave us, through His divine scriptures and the Prophets and Messengers that He sent to teach us.

According to ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, by reflecting on the 99 Names of Allah, particularly on the names the Watcher (Al-Raqib), the Guardian (Al-Hafith), the Knowing (Al-‘Alim), the Hearing (Al-Sami’), the Seeing (Al-Basir), one can acquire muraqabah.

Knowledge of the enemy of Allah, Iblis [Satan]

The two sources of evil in our life are primarily the demonic whisperings of Satan, and the suggestions and weaknesses of our own souls [nafs].

By reflecting on the reality of Satan, his whisperings, and his weakness and reliance on Allah, we are able to protect ourselves from this fundamental danger in our path to Allah ﷻ.

Knowledge of your own soul, and it’s capacity to suggest evil

An understanding of our own self is the sole focus of what we today call “mindfulness”. The Islamic tradition becomes very beneficial in this regard, as the insights it holds for the reality of our souls are numerous.

By reflecting on the major diseases of the heart, as well as the beautifying qualities and characteristics we should replace them with, we can consistently refine and elevate our soul.

Knowledge of deeds to be done for the sake of Allah

This aspect is necessary for the practice of muraqabah to be consistent with the Islamic tradition, and is essential in fulfilling the goal of refinement and nearness to Allah.

By learning and reflecting upon Islamic law and jurisprudence, as well as the various actions that good character calls for, we can give true meaning to our acts of worship for Allah.

Many spiritual practices within an orthodox understanding of Islam involve a consistent practice of ‘meditation’ upon these 4 aspects.

Ibn al-Qayyim described,

muraqabah as the reality of the pure heart [al-qalb al-salim]…by which no one is saved but by coming to Allah with it”.

A true practice of muraqabah requires consistency and discipline, and involves a comprehensive awareness of the basics of Islamic creed, law, ethics, and of one’s own subtle psychological make-up.

Read more in How to be a Mindful Muslim: An Exercise in Islamic Meditation by Justin Parrott

Sheikh Shady Just Won a Lawsuit against News Corp

The Rising Resistance to Racist Media

The head of the Australian National Imams Council, Sheikh Shady al-Suleiman, has just won a defamation case against Nationwide News, the owners of the Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, and the Courier Mail.

With lawyers from Birchgrove legal, the Sheikh sued for defamation over the flurry of reckless and combative articles written in 2016 over his invitation to the Kirribilli House iftar, hosted by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The legal counsel for Sheikh Shady, Sue Chrysanthou, complained to the judge that “the amount of money poured into this case [by News Corp]… is now becoming quite unreasonable.”

The judge, Justice Geoffrey Flick, ordered News Corp to the cover the costs “thrown away” at additional proceedings, to remove the offending articles from the relevant websites, and commented that, “This case has not been conducted by the respondent [News Corp] in a way that covers them in glory” and when it concluded “will be a model of how not to conduct litigation”.

The articles alleged that he was a “hate preacher” who incited hatred for homosexuals and violence against women. They also claimed that events like the iftar which promote “tolerance and compassion only allow [the] threat of radical Islam to flourish in Australia.”

As of May 22, most of the articles have been removed from the main websites published to, such as the Daily Telegraph, Courier Mail and Herald Sun, however, a number of related websites, such as the Australian, and other unrelated sites continue to host these defamatory articles.

The lawsuit is another example of a rising pushback against provocative and false coverage of the Muslim community in Australian media. Since 9/11, media outlets owned by News Corp Australia have been at the forefront of vitriolic speech against Australian Muslims and their faith.

Their dehumanising rhetoric has for the most part gone unchecked, leading to a media landscape which thrives on fear and hatred of the other, with a particular focus on Muslims and immigrants.

“It is hoped that with such action, the culture of blameless, inaccurate and damaging reporting within Nationwide News and News Corp will begin to change,” said the Australian National Imams Council in a statement last June.

Recent lawsuits, such as the defamation case in 2016 won by the former Grand Mufti, have been able to challenge this rhetoric, forcing media outlets to apologise and rescind their statements. These kinds of consequences encourage journalists and platforms to hold themselves to a higher standard of ethics and norms around coverage of minorities in Australia.

In January, OnePath Network released an extensive report on the rising tide of disproportionate and overwhelmingly negative coverage of Islam in Australia by News Corp affiliated newspapers, showing the danger and damage that comes with unchecked media bias.

Tawba Is Not Just Forgiveness

Is the door of “Tawba” always open?

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

The concept of “Tawba”, or “returning”, is a central aspect of Islam, and an action which both the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad  called to repeatedly.

However “Tawba” is not simply just asking for the forgiveness of Allah, although that is an important part of the process.

Rather, Tawba is a “return” to Allah (swt), where you humbly admit your fallibility, express sincere remorse while asking for forgiveness, and intend to restrain, reform, and improve yourself in the future.

It calls for you to hope in Allah, without assuming you’ll be forgiven, and to pray for yourself and all sinners without despairing.

So for all the times you feel regret or think it’s too late to change, know that the door to Tawba is wide open, as long as you’re alive.

Read more in “Tawba” Is Not Just “Forgiveness” by Roohi Tahir   

What to wear for Eid – #ReviveRamadan

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What to wear for Eid.

As we farewell Ramadan and get ready for Eid, it is essential to keep following the Sunnah during the Eid Festivities.

We have all made resolutions and we all want to stay steadfast after the holy month of Ramadan so what better way to implement that change during Eid. So As you’re picking out your clothes to go attend Eid Prayer, remember our Prophet ’s advice and try to emulate him during this blessed day.

Wear a nice white Abaya, as the Prophet has taught us that white is a pure colour.

He (ﷺ) said,

‘Wear white clothes because they are the purest and they are closest to modesty and shroud the dead in it.”

(An-Nasai)

Women as well should pick their clothes carefully making sure that their private parts are covered and are encouraged to attend the Eid prayer.

“Allah’s Messenger ﷺ would order the virgins, the mature women, the secluded and the menstruating to go out for the two Eid. As for the menstruating women, they were to stay away from the Musalla and participate in the Muslims supplications.”

One of them said:

‘O Messenger of Allah! What if she does not have a Jilbab? He said: ‘Then let her sis lend her a Jilbab.'”

(At-Tirmidhi)

Also, one should dress nicely but not extravagantly this Eid for it was narrated from Salim that:

His father said: “Umar bin Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, found a “Hullah of Istabraq” (Adorned garment) in the market. He took it and brought it to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), why don’t you buy this and adorn yourself with it for the two ‘Eids and when (meeting) the delegations?’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘This is the clothing of one who has no share in the Hereafter,’ or: ‘This is worn by one who has no share in the Hereafter.’ Then as much time passed as Allah (SWT) willed, then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) sent to Umar a garment made of Dibaj. He brought it to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, you said that this is the clothing of one who has no share in the Hereafter, then you sent this to me?’ The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Sell it and use the money for whatever you need.'”

(Sahih)

So let us all enjoin the Eid Prayer this Eid Al-Fitr and revive the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ and #Revive Ramadan!

Miracle of the Quran – #ReviveRamadan

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The Quran is a Miracle

They ask for a miracle…but we can’t show them the sea splitting.

فَأَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَىٰ مُوسَىٰٓ أَنِ ٱضۡرِب بِّعَصَاكَ ٱلۡبَحۡرَ‌ۖ فَٱنفَلَقَ فَكَانَ كُلُّ فِرۡقٍ۬ كَٱلطَّوۡدِ ٱلۡعَظِيمِ

“Then We revealed to Mûsa (Moses) (saying): “Strike the sea with your stick.” And it parted, and each separate part (of that sea water) became like the huge mountain.”

Quran 26:63

We can’t show them the staff of Moses.

قَالَ إِن كُنتَ جِئۡتَ بِـَٔايَةٍ۬ فَأۡتِ بِہَآ إِن كُنتَ مِنَ ٱلصَّـٰدِقِينَ (١٠٦) فَأَلۡقَىٰ عَصَاهُ فَإِذَا هِىَ ثُعۡبَانٌ۬ مُّبِينٌ۬ (١٠٧)

[Fir’aun (Pharaoh)] said: “If you have come with a sign, show it forth, – if you are one of those who tell the truth.”Then [Mûsa (Moses)] threw his stick (staff) and behold! it was a serpent, manifest! Quran 7:106-107

We can’t show them the she-camel of Saleh.

وَيَـٰقَوۡمِ هَـٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّهِ لَڪُمۡ ءَايَةً۬ فَذَرُوهَا تَأۡڪُلۡ فِىٓ أَرۡضِ ٱللَّهِ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٍ۬ فَيَأۡخُذَكُمۡ عَذَابٌ۬ قَرِيبٌ۬

“And O my people! This she-camel of Allâh is a sign to you, leave her to feed (graze) in Allâh’s land, and touch her not with evil, lest a near torment should seize you.”

Quran 11:64

But today in 2018 we can witness the miracle of the Prophet () via the Quran.

In fact, even up until the day of judgment.  It’s an everlasting miracle for the eyes to see and the ears to listen to until the day of judgment.  And it also surpasses the other miracles of the early prophets in the sense that we can use the Quran to worship Allah ‘with’ it.  

That’s right, we can worship Allah via the Quran in a variety of ways, not just one.  

Listening to the Quran is worship.  

Reading the Quran is worship.

Judging by it is Worship.

Learning it is worship. Teaching it is worship.

Acting upon it is worship.  

Understanding it is worship, and acting upon its meanings is worship.

SubhaanAllah!  An amazing miracle, indeed.  

Let’s connect with the Quran, and Revive Ramadhan.

3 Tips to Remain Steadfast After Ramadan – #ReviveRamadan

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How Can I Keep Being Consistent in Ibadah After Ramadan?

We’ve done so many good deeds during Ramadan: fasting, sadaqah, night prayers etc, but the question is:  What happens after this month?

Allah tells us in the Quran:

“…and do good.  Indeed, Allah loves those who do good.” (2:195)

The Prophet (ﷺ) also has told us that the most loved deeds by Allah are those that are consistent.

Narrated ‘Aishah: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,

“Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

(Bukhari)

So, here are three tips to staying steadfast after Ramadan:

  1. Purify your intentions. Ensure that your good deeds are only for Allah.
  2. Make it a habit.  Even if it’s only a $1 sadaqah a day, or two raka’at of extra prayers each day. Make sure you do small consistent deeds, every day.
  3. Ask Allah for consistency in your good deeds. By asking Allah for His help you are showing your sincerity.

Stay consistent this Ramadan, and Revive Ramadan.

Make Your Intention to Fast – #ReviveRamadan

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Don’t forget to make your intention to fast before Fajr.

A common mistake people often make in Ramadhan is forgetting to actually make the intention to fast before Fajr.  

Narrated by Ibn ‘Umar from Hafsah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before Fajr, there is no fast for him.”

(Imam Ahmad)

This is only in regards to obligatory fasts (eg: Fasting in Ramadan). With regard to voluntary (naafil) fasts, it is permissible to make the intention to fast on the day, if you have not had anything to eat or drink or relations with your spouse after Fajr.  

This is proven in the hadeeth of ‘Aishah that the Prophet (ﷺ) entered upon her one day at Duha time and said,

“Do you have anything (any food)?” She said, “No.” He said, “Then I am fasting.”

(Muslim)

So, make sure before you sleep, or any time up until the adhan of Fajr, that you make the intention in your heart to fast, and let’s ‘Revive Ramadan’.

Exert Yourself in the Last 10 Days of Ramadan – #ReviveRamadan

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Make the Most of the Last 10 Days and Nights of Ramadan

The one who has wasted the first 20 days of Ramadhan but perfects the last 10 days of Ramadhan is better than the one who perfects the first 20 days of Ramadhan but wastes the last 10 days.

The reason for this is because the last 10 nights contain a night which is better than 1,000 months, ie: Laylat al-Qadr (The Night of Decree).  

Allah mentions “The Night of Qadr (decree)” three times in just five ayaat of Surah al-Qadr (97).

  1. We have sent down this (Quran) in the Night of Qadr
  2. And what will make you know what the Night of Qadr is?
  3. The Night of Qadr is better than a thousand months.
  4. The Angels and the Ruh (Jibreel) descend in it with every decree, by the permission of their Lord.
  5. All that night there is peace, until the rising of the dawn.”

This surah by itself highlights the supreme importance and greatness of this night. We do not know which night it will be and that’s why RasulAllah (ﷺ) commanded us to,

“Search for Laylat al-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadhan.”

(Malik)

So, Ramadhan is all about the ending, and how you end it.  

The Prophet ‎ﷺ said:

إنما الأعمال بالخواتيم

‎ “Verily deeds are according to their endings.”

(Bukhari)

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“The lesson lies in perfection of the conclusion of a thing, not in the shortcomings of the beginning of it.”

We all know that the most important part about a race is winning at the end.  If we exert all of our energy in the beginning but exhaust ourselves, and the end we could come last.  So, Ramadhan is the same. Exert your energy in the last 10 days, race towards the finish line, and win the race and end on a high.

Thikr in the Kitchen – #ReviveRamadan

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Thikr in the Kitchen – #ReviveRamadan

No matter what you’re doing, always remember Allah whether it’s cooking in the kitchen, driving the kids to school, waiting at the doctors, or waiting at the checkout.  

‘Aishah said:

“The Apostle of Allah (ﷺ) used to remember Allah at all moments.”

(Muslim)

So, imagine that you’re cooking for your family to break their fast, and at all times you are remembering Allah.  How will that food taste? How much more reward will you receive? Enjoy this time to be with yourself and Allah. And remember, ”…Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” (Quran 13:28)

Also, the one who is truly alive is the one who remembers Allah.

Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“The similitude of one who remembers his Rubb (Lord) and one who does not remember Him, is like that of the living and the dead.”

(Bukhari and Muslim)

Here are some examples of what you can be saying during these times:

Abu Hurayrah reported: The Messenger of Allah () said,

“The uttering of the words: ‘SubhaanAllaah, Alhamdulillaah, Laa ilaha illallaah, and Allaahu Akbar’ (SubhaanAllaahi wal-hamdulillaahi wa laa ilaha illallaahu wal-laahu akbar) is dearer to me than anything over which the sun rises.”

(Muslim)

SubhaanAllaah

“Glory be to Allah”

سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ

Alhamdulillaah

“All Praise is for Allah”

الْحَمْدُللّهِ

Laa illaaha ilAllaah

“There is no God but Allah”

لا اِلهَ اِلَّا اللّهُ

Allaahu Akbar

“Allah is the Greatest”

اللّهُ اَكْبَرُ

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) said,

“Whoever says, ‘Glory is to Allah and all Praise is to Him,’ one hundred times a day, will be forgiven all his sins even if they were as much as the foam of the sea.”

(Bukhari)

SubhaanAllaahi wa bihamdih

“Glory is to Allah and all Praise is to Him”

سُبْحَانَ اللهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ

Abu Hurayrah said:

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said to me: “Be frequent in saying: ‘There is no might nor power except by Allah’. For verily, it is a treasure from the treasures of Paradise.’”

(Tirmidhi)

Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illaa billaah

“There is no might nor power except with Allah”

لا حَوْلَ وَ لا قُوَّةَ اِلَّا بِاللّهِ     

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said,

”Whoever says one hundred times in a day: ‘Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeer’, he will get the same reward as given for freeing ten slaves, one hundred good deeds will be written in his account, one hundred sins will be deducted from his account, and it will be a shield for him from Shaytaan on that day till night; and nobody will be able to do a better deed except the one who does more than he.”

(Bukhari)

Laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah, lahul-mulku wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeer

“There is no god but Allah Alone, Who has no partner. His is the dominion and His is the praise, and He is able to do all things”

لا اِلهَ اِلَّا اللّهُ وَحْدَهُ لا شَرِي كَ لَهُ ، لَهُ الْمُلْكُ وَ لَهُ الْحَمْدُ وَ هُوَ عَلَى كُلِّشَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ     

Istighfaar is also a very important way to remember Allah.

Abu Hurayrah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying,

“I swear by Allah that I seek Allah’s Pardon and turn to Him in repentance more than seventy times a day.”

(Bukhari)

Astaghfirullah

“Oh Allah forgive me”

أستغفر الله

The Prophet (ﷺ) said,

“The best supplication for seeking forgiveness is to say Syed-ul- Istighfar. Whoever says it during the day with firm faith in it, and dies on the same day before the evening, he will be from the people of Paradise; and if somebody recites it at night with firm faith in it, and dies before the morning, he will be from the people of Paradise.”

(Bukhari)

Allaahumma anta Rabbee, laa ilaha illaa ant, khalaqtanee wa anaa ‘abduka wa anaa ‘alaa ‘ahdika maas-ta-ta’at, a’oodhu bika min shari maa so-na’at, aboo-u laka bini’a-matika ‘alayya wa aboo-u bi-dhanbee fagh-fir-lee fa-innahu laa yagh-fir-udh-dhu-nooba illaa ant

“O Allah! You are my Lord! None has the right to be worshipped but You. You created me and I am Your slave, and I am faithful to my covenant and my promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with You from all the evil I have done. I acknowledge before You all the blessings You have bestowed upon me, and I confess to You all my sins. So I entreat You to forgive my sins, for nobody can forgive sins except You.”

اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ رَبِّى ، لاَ إِلهَ إِلاَ أَنْتَ ، خَلَقْتَنِى وَ أنَا عَبْدُكَ وَ أنَا عَلَى عَهْدِكَ ما اسْتَطَعْتُ ، أعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ شَرِ مَا صَنَعْت ، أَبُوءُ لَكَ بِنِعْمَتِكَ عَلَىَّ وَ أبُوءُ بِذَنْبى فَاغْفِرْ لِى فإِنَّهُ لاَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ

So, this Ramadhan use your spare time in the remembrance of Allah.  And, in sha Allah, your kids will learn to do it too and it will become a beloved practice that you and your kids do all the time after Ramadhan.