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Thursday, 18 December 2008

Islam in America: The American Crescent

Islam in America: The American Crescent & Islamic Stars & Stripes

This is a very good two part documentary presented by Rageh Omaar that were shown on the Al-Jazeera news agency.

In the first episode of a special two-part film (shown on 19 Oct 08 ) Rageh Omaar looks at why Islam has come to be described by some people as a "very American faith".

The American Crescent - Part 1/4


For the other parts...

The American Crescent - Part 2/4 - Click Here!
The American Crescent - Part 3/4 -
Click Here!
The American Crescent - Part 4/4 -
Click Here!

In the second part of his journey across the US (shown on 26 Oct 08), Rageh Omaar looks at how America's Muslims have coped with the aftermath of the events of 9/11, exploring the demands of patriotism and belief.

Islamic Stars & Stripes - Part 1/4


For the other parts...

Islamic Stars & Stripes - Part 2/4 - Click Here!
Islamic Stars & Stripes - Part 3/4 - Click Here!
Islamic Stars & Stripes - Part 4/4 - Click Here!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Eid ul-Adha

‘EEDUL ADH‘HÃ
By Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat
Taken from
idauk.org

First Ten Days of Zul Hijjah
Ibne Abbaas radhiyallahu anhumaa relates that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:

“Good deeds performed on other days are not superior to those performed on these (first ten days of Zul Hijjah).” The companions radhiyallahu anhum inquired: “Not even Jihaad?” He replied: “Not even Jihaad, except for that person who goes out putting himself and his wealth in danger and does not return with anything.” (Bukhaari)

Night of ‘Eed
The nights of both ‘Eeds are described in the hadeeth as amongst the great and sacred nights in the Muslim calendar. To remain awake on the nights of ‘Eed and perform ibaadah is a source of great virtue and reward.

Mu’aaz Ibne Jabal radhiyallahu anhu relates that Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam said:
“Jannah is waajib (incumbent) for those who stay awake with the intention of making ibaadah on the following nights: 8th & 9th, the night of ‘Eedul Adh‘haa (10th of Zul Hijjah), the night of ‘Eedul Fitr and the night of the 15th of Sha’baan.” (Targheeb)

Qurbaani
Qurbaani is a practice commanded by Allah:
…so turn in prayer towards your lord and sacrifice (animals). (108:2)

Aa’ishah radhiyallahu anhaa said:
“There is nothing more dearer to Allah during the days of Qurbaani than the sacrificing of animals. The sacrificed animal shall come on the Day of Judgement with its horns, hair and hooves (to be weighed). The sacrifice is accepted by Allah before the blood reaches the ground. Therefore sacrifice with an open heart. (Tirmizi, Ibne Majah)

Sunnahs on the Day of ‘Eed
1. To rise early.
2. To clean the teeth with miswaak.
3. To have a masnoon bath.
4. To dress in one’s best garments in an Islaamic manner.
5. To use ‘Itr
6. To avoid eating before ‘Eed Salaat
7. To go early for ‘Eed Salaat.
8. To go walking for ‘Eed Salaat.
9. To read the Takbiraat of Tashreeq in a loud voice while going for ‘Eed Salaat.
10. To use different routes to and from the place of ‘Eed Salaat.
11. To eat the meat of Qurbaani (sacrifice) of ones own offering, after the ‘Eedul Adh‘haa salaat.

Mas’alah:
It is haraam to fast on the 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th Zul Hijjah, (i.e. ‘Eed day and three days after) and the day of ‘Eedul Fitr.

The Method of ‘Eed Salaat
1. Make niyyah of performing two raka’at waajib of ‘Eedul Adh‘haa behind the imaam with six waajib takbeer.
2. The first takbeer in the first raka’at is the takbeer-e-tahreemah which is followed by three waajib takbeer. Raise your hands to the ears in all four takbeer (saying the takbeer). However, after the first takbeer fold the hands under the naval and read thanaa (subhaanakallaahumma). Thereafter, in the following two takbeer raise the hands up to the ears and drop them on the sides and after the fourth takbeer fold again.
3. The imaam will recite the soorah Faatihah and another soorah and go into rukoo and sajdah etc. as usual.
4. In the second raka’at, after the recitation and before rukoo another three takbeer will be called. In all three takbeer raise the hands to the ears and drop them on the sides and go into rukoo when the fourth takbeer is called.

NOTE:
Four takbeer are said together in each raka’at; at the beginning of the first raka’at and before going into rukoo in the second raka’at. The easy method of remembering when to drop the hands and when to fold is mentioned hereunder:

(a) Remember the following words: Fold, drop, drop, fold, for the first raka’at; drop, drop, drop, rukoo, for the second raka’at.

(b) Or keep the following general rule in mind: when there is something to be recited after a takbeer, the hands should be folded and when nothing is to be recited the hands are to be dropped to the sides.

Mas’alah:
It is makrooh to offer any Salaat, in the masjid where the ‘Eed Salaat is to be performed, before or after the ‘Eed Salaat. Hence, we should not perform nafl Salaat such as Ishraaq on ‘Eed day.

Mas’alah:
It is also makrooh to perform any Salaat at home before the ‘Eed Salaat, but it is not makrooh after Salaat.

Mas’alah:
If anyone missed the ‘Eed Salaat then he cannot offer it individually.

Mas’alah:
Khutbah after the ‘Eed Salaat is sunnah. However, the listening of the khutbah is waajib.

Mas’alah:
It is waajib to say the takbeer of tashreeq after the ‘Eedul Adh‘haa, according to some ulamaa; therefore one should recite it after the salaat.

Mas’alah:
If anyone joins the ‘Eed salaat after the imaam has said the three takbeer in the first raka’at he should say his three takbeer immediately. If he joins while the imaam is in ruku, then if he feels and has strong hope that he will say three takbeer and join the imaam in ruku’ then he should complete the takbeer before going into ruku. Otherwise he should join the imaam in ruku and say the three takbeer instead of the tasbeeh of ruku.

NOTE:
Whilst saying the takbeer in ruku, he should not raise his hands.

NOTE:
If the imaam rises from ruku; before his takbeer are completed, he should also rise with the imaam and his takbeer will be remitted for him.

Mas’alah:
If anyone missed the first raka’at and joined the imaam in the second raka’at he should say the three takbeer of the the first raka’at after the recitation when he gets up to complete the missed raka’at.

Mas’alah:
If anyone joined the imaam in the second raka’at after ruku, them he should perform two raka’ats as mentioned above.

Millions of Muslims ask forgiveness at Mount `Arafat

Taken from IslamOnline.net & Newspapers, Sun. Dec. 7, 2008

`ARAFAT, Saudi Arabia — A sea of three million white-clad pilgrims flocked on Sunday, December 7, to Mount `Arafat, east of the holy city of Makkah, for the climax of hajj.

"Being here is better than anything I had ever experienced…better than the time I saw my children for the first time," Rawya Mohammad, an Egyptian secretary, told Reuters.

She was one of many who arrived before dawn, some on foot, others on buses and thousands on top of any vehicle they could find.

Pictures from Reuters


Chanting "Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik (Here I am answering Your call, O God)," the faithful started at the dawn moving to `Arafat, where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered his last sermon 14 centuries ago.

Their ascending comes after spending a day of meditation and introspection in the tent city of Mina, marking the start of hajj.

The pilgrims performed shortened Zhuhr and `Asr prayers at the Namirah Mosque and listen to a sermon commemorating that of Prophet Muhammad.

They will spend the whole day on `Arafat supplicating to Allah to forgive their sins and praying for Muslim unity and world peace.

Standing on Mount `Arafat, also known as Jabal al-Rahma (Mountain of Mercy), is the climax of hajj, and pilgrims who fail to make it on time must repeat their hajj in future.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an obligation for all able-bodied, financially capable Muslims at least once in a lifetime.

Muslims who perform hajj properly return to their homes having all their sins washed way as promised by Prophet Muhammad.

Reward
Omar Salah, a 38-year-old engineer from Egypt, is happy Allah has chosen him to perform hajj this year.

"I feel privileged," he told Reuters.

"This is a reward."

`Arafat rituals end at sunset and pilgrims then move to Muzdalifa for shortened Maghrib and `Isha’ prayers and for a short rest.

They will collect pebbles for stoning of the three pillars symbolizing Satan.

Pilgrims will get for the first time the necessary pebbles in pre-packed bags to spare them the effort of searching for the stones.

A special committee organized the collection, washing and packaging of the pebbles after first obtaining a fatwa permitting the initiative.

Early Monday, December 8, the pilgrims will move back to Mina and mark the beginning of the four-day `Eid Al-Adha, which marks the end of hajj.

Saudi authorities have been implementing tight security measures to assure pilgrims' smooth and safe flow to `Arafat.

"The hospitals have intensive care units, X-ray machines and pharmacies, and will provide specialized treatments for diseases of heart, bones, thorax, abdomen and ENT," health Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Manie said in a statement after inspecting health facilities at `Arafat.

The ministry affirmed that arrangements were in place in all facilities at `Arafat to take care of millions of converging pilgrims.

Three hospitals — Jabal Al-Rahmah, Namirah and Arafat General — have been built in the area with a capacity for 671 beds.

The ministry has also put in place some 24 field hospitals with 4,000 beds, in addition to nearly 140 health centers.

Authorities have also made renovations over the past year to ease the flow of pilgrims inside the Grand Mosque and Jamarat Bridge.

An extra level has been added to the bridge so pilgrims have four platforms from which to throw stones each day.

"This is the first journey I have ever made in my life," Mohammed Abdul Salam, an Egyptian pilgrim, told the Saudi Gazette.

"I was surprised at the great facilities provided by the Saudi government."

Friday, 5 December 2008

3 million Muslims in Mecca for pilgrimage

Extracted from Associated Press
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Draped in white robes to symbolize purity and the equality of mankind under God, nearly 3 million Muslims from all over the world gathered Friday in Mecca, on the eve of the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage.

A pillar of the Muslim faith, the hajj is packed with symbolism and ritual aimed at cleansing the soul of sin. Every able-bodied Muslim who can financially afford to must perform it at least once in his or her lifetime.

For Turkish pilgrim Omar Danis, the journey to Mecca was a dream come true.

"As soon as I saw the Kaaba, I felt a light in my heart. I kneeled down to thank God as my tears flowed," said Danis, in his 60s.

Saudi Arabia has deployed some 100,000 security personnel to keep order during the five-day pilgrimage, which starts Saturday.

Roadblocks have sprung up on all roads leading to Mecca, and police check for hajj permits from Saudi nationals and for passports from pilgrims who arrived from abroad.

There have been scores of arrests ahead of hajj, but they have targeted people allegedly trying to defraud pilgrims or breaking other regulations connected to the hajj. Among them were two Egyptians who allegedly operated an illegal hajj tour company. Pilgrims are required to come to Mecca through recognized tour companies, a system aimed at managing the huge numbers.

Iranian pilgrim, Ismaeil Bahramian, said the pilgrimage is a crowning moment in a Muslim believer's life.

"Here, there is no difference between the rich and the poor, white and black. We are all brothers and sisters," said Bahramian, at the hajj for the first time, choking back emotion. "Truly, this is the original home of God. It is an honor to be a guest of God here."

Ambulances and medical centers have been readied to deal with emergencies. Stampedes or fires at past pilgrimages have killed hundreds.

The hajj culminates Sunday, when the pilgrims gather on Mount Arafat, 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Mecca in the desert, where Islam's Prophet Mohammed is said to have given his last sermon 14 centuries ago.

The hajj will continue for several more days, as pilgrims carry out a ritual symbolizing the stoning of the devil at the nearby plain of Mina, before concluding on Wednesday.

Just 50 years ago, the pilgrimage attracted only about 10,000 people. This year, Saudi embassies world over have issued nearly 2 million visas. Just under a million pilgrims also come to the hajj from Saudi Arabia. Many others are believed to come without proper documents.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The Fiqh of the Eid al-Adha Sacrifice (udhiya/qurbani)

Taken from Sunni Path

Please state the The Fiqh of the Eid al-Adha Sacrifice (udhiya/qurbani).
Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher

Q. What is the ruling of the sacrifice?
A. The slaughter of 'Eid al-Adha (in Arabic: udhiya; in Urdu: qurbani) is a confirmed sunna (sunna mu'akkada) and only becomes obligatory if one vows to perform it by saying, for example, 'I hereby owe Allah to perform a sacrifice,' or 'I hereby owe Allah to sacrifice this animal,' or if one says something like, 'This animal is my sacrifice.' Not performing the sacrifice is disliked (makruh), because some scholars (such as the Hanafis) say that it is obligatory. (al-Yaqut al-Nafis fi Madhhab Ibn Idris, 204; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj, 9.346)

Q. What if I can't afford it?
A. The sacrifice is only a confirmed sunna for morally responsible (mukallaf) Muslims who are able to sacrifice. Able to sacrifice means that they own enough to buy a sacrificial animal plus enough to fulfill their own needs and the needs of everyone they are obliged to support on the day of 'Eid and the three days that follow it. It is not required from a Muslim who is not morally responsible, such as a child or someone who is insane. (I'anatu'l-Talibin, 2.330)

Q. Is it a confirmed sunna for everyone in the family?
A. No. The confirmed-ness (ta'akkud) of the sunna is of collective nature ('ala'l-kifaya). If the head of the household performs it, it is no longer a confirmed sunna for everyone he is obliged to support (such as his wife and children), although if they choose to perform it anyway, it is praiseworthy. (I'anatu'l-Talibin, 2.330; al-Yaqut al-Nafis fi Madhhab Ibn Idris, 204)

Q. What kind of animals can be slaughtered?
A. It is only valid to slaughter camels, cattle, sheep, or goats. Camels must be over five years old, cows and goats must be over two years old, and sheep must be over one year old. Sheep can, however, also be slaughtered after six months if their front teeth fall out. It does not matter whether the animals are male or female; both are valid to slaughter.

Camels and cows fulfill the sunna for seven people and can be shared among them. Sheep and goats cannot be shared by multiple people, since they only fulfill the sunna for a single person.
The animals must be free of any defect that diminishes the quality of their meat. For example, it is not valid to slaughter animals that are lame, blind, insane, or sick. See Reliance, j14.2 for a more detailed description of defects that make the animal invalid to slaughter for the 'Eid sacrifice.

(Reliance, 14.2; I'anatu'l-Talibin, 2.331; al-Yaqut al-Nafis fi Madhhab Ibn Idris, 204-205; Mughni'l-Muhtaj, 4.379)

Q. Do I have to slaughter myself?
A. It is sunna for males to slaughter themselves if they can slaughter well, although it is valid to commission (tawkeel) someone else to do it on their behalf. If one cannot slaughter well, or if one is a female, it is sunna to commission someone else to perform it on one's behalf. If one commissions someone else to do it, it is sunna (but not necessary) to be present and witness the actual slaughter.

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to the Lady Fatima (Allah be pleased with her), 'Stand up to your sacrificial animal (udhiya) and witness it, for at the first drop of its blood, all your previous sins will be forgiven.' (Hakim)

It is best to commission a Muslim who knows the fiqh of the sacrifice.

If one slaughters oneself, one must intend at the time of slaughtering that this is the sunna sacrifice of 'Eid al-Adha. If one commissions someone else to slaughter, one can intend when one authorizes them to slaughter on one's behalf.
(Mughni'l-Muhtaj, 4.378; Reliance, j14.3-j14.4; I'anatu'l-Talibin, 2.335)

Q. Can I commission a trustworthy Muslim to slaughter on my behalf in another country?
A. It is valid to give someone money and commission him to buy an animal and slaughter it in a country other than where one is living (I'anatu'l-Talibin, 2.335). This is discussed in more detail in a separate answer posted on this list.

Q. When is it valid to slaughter?
A. The time for slaughtering enters after sunrise once enough time has passed to perform two short rak'as (i.e. consisting of only the integrals) and two short khutbas (i.e., consisting of only the integrals). Before this time, it is not valid to slaughter. It remains valid to slaughter until sunset on the 13th of Dhu'l-Hijja. It is disliked to slaughter during the night (al-Yaqut al-Nafis fi Madhhab Ibn Idris, 205; Mughni'l-Muhtaj, 4.383).

Q. What do I do with the meat?
A. If one made the sacrifice obligatory upon oneself by vowing it, one must give away the entire animal in charity (including the hide, horns, and hooves) and it is forbidden (haram) for one to eat from it.

If the sacrifice was a sunna sacrifice (meaning that one did not vow it), it is permissible to eat from the meat of the sacrifice, although some of it (meaning any non-trivial (ghayr tafih) amount) must be given away in charity. It best to give all of the meat away in charity except for a few morsels (not more than three) that one eats oneself; it is sunna that these morsels be from the liver (kabid). It is common practice in many Muslim lands to give one-third of the meat in charity, one-third to wealthy Muslims, and to keep one third for oneself, and this is acceptable.

To give in charity means to give the meat to someone who is poor (faqeer) or short of money (miskeen) as defined in the chapter of zakat (see Reliance, h8.8, h8.11). It is not necessary to give to more than one person. The meat must be given uncooked.

It is invalid to sell any of the animal'even its hide. If the sacrifice was not obligatory, then one may give the hide away in charity or as a gift or use it oneself, but one may not sell it. It is not permissible to destroy it (itlaf) either. It is not permissible to give it to the butcher as payment for his slaughtering, although one may give it to him as a gift (if the sacrifice not obligatory, it is only be permissible to give it to him if he is poor or short of money). It is unlawful (haram) to give or feed any of the sacrificial animal to a non-Muslim.
(al-Yaqut al-Nafis fi Madhhab Ibn Idris, 206; Tuhfat al-Muhtaj + Hashiyat 'Abd al-Hamid, 9.363-365; Hashiyat al-Bajuri 'ala Ibn Qasim al-Ghazzi, 2.324).

Q. Are there any other recommended measures related to the sacrifice?
A. Yes. It is disliked (makruh) for the one who intends to perform the sacrifice to remove any hair or nails from his body from the 1st of Dhu'l-Hijja until he performs the sacrifice. This hair includes all the hair of the body, whether it is from the head, beard, moustache, armpits, private parts or anywhere else. Some of the Shafi'is even said that to remove one's hair or nails during this period is forbidden (haram), although this is not the relied-upon position of the school.
This ruling is taken from the hadith of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace),
'When you see the moon of Dhu'l-Hijjah, and you intend to perform the sacrifice, then don't remove (lit. 'touch') any of your hair or nails.' (Muslim)

(Mughni'l-Muhtaj, 4.378; al-Minhaj Sharh Sahih Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, 7.139; Reliance, j14.1)

And Allah knows best.

Hamza Karamali


Further Reading:
SunniPath - The Fiqh of Ritual Slaughter (Udhiya/Qurbani)

Scientists Prove that Islamic slaughter of Animals is healthier

Scientists Prove that Islamic slaughter of Animals is healthier
Taken from Darul Ihsan Islamic Services Centre, South Africa

The following is a summary of research done by Professor Schultz and his colleague Dr.Hazim of the Hanover University, Germany about the methods of animal slaughter and their merits.

The conclusion drawn was that:-Halaal slaughter is the humane method providing hygienic meat to the consumer.

Al Shaddad Bin Aous (Radhiyallaahu Anhu) has quoted this tradition of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) "Allah calls for mercy in everything, so be merciful when you kill and when you slaughter".

"Sharpen your blade to relieve its pain." Many allegations have been made that Islamic slaughter is not humane to animals. However, Professor Schultz and his colleague Dr. Hazim of the Hanover University,Germany, proved through an experiment, using an Electroencephalogram (EEG - An instrument that records the electrical activity of the brain) and Electrocardiogram (ECG - An instrument that records the electrical current generated by heartbeat) that:

1. Islamic slaughter is the humane method of slaughter; and,
2. Captive bolt stunning, practised by the western method, causes severe pain to the animal.

Experimental Details
Several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points on the skull of all animals, touching the surface of the brain. The animals were allowed to recover for several weeks. Some animals were slaughtered by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides; and also the trachea and oesophagus i.e. the Halaal method. Some animals were stunned using a captive bolt pistol slaughter by the western method. During the experiment, EEG and ECG were used on all animals to record the condition of the brain and heart during the course of slaughter and stunning.

Results and Discussion:

Halaal Method
The first three seconds from the time of Islamic slaughter as recorded on the EEG did not show any change from the graph before slaughter , thus indicating that the animal did not feel any pain during or immediately after the incision. For the following 3 seconds, the EEG recorded a condition of deep sleep -unconsciousness. This is due to a large quantity of blood gushing out from the body. After the above mentioned 6 seconds, the EEG recorded zero level, showing no feeling of pain at all. As the brain message (EEG)dropped to zero level, the heart was still pounding and the body convulsing vigorously (a reflex action of the spinal cord) driving maximum blood from the body, resulting in hygienic meat for the consumer.

Western method by Captive Bolt Stunning
Reference: http://www.grandin.com/humane/captive.bolt.html

The animals were apparently unconscious soon after stunning. EEG showed severe pain immediately after stunning. The hearts of the animal stunned by C.B.P. stopped beating as compared to those of the animals slaughtered according to the Halal method resulting in the retention of more blood in the meat. This in turn is unhygienic for the consumer.


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Useful Reading:

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (UK) - Animal welfare: Qurbani/Udhia

Friday, 14 November 2008

Fajr Prayer

Fajr Prayer
Taken from amouna1987

A man woke up early in order to pray the Fajr prayer in the masjid. He got dressed, made his ablution and was on his way to the masjid.

On his way to the masjid, the man fell and his clothes got dirty. He got up, brushed himself off, and headed home.

At home, he changed his clothes, made his ablution, and was, again, on his way to the masjid.

On his way to the masjid, he fell again and at the same spot! He, again, got up, brushed himself off and headed home.

At home he, once again, changed his clothes, made his ablution and was on his way to the masjid.

On his way to the masjid, he met a man holding a lamp.

He asked the man of his identity and the man replied 'I saw you fall twice on your way to the masjid, so I brought a lamp so I can light your way.'

The first man thanked him and the set off on their way to the masjid.

Once at the masjid, the first man asked the man with the lamp to come in and pray Fajr with him. The second man refused.

The first man asked him a couple more times and, again, the answer was the same.

The first man asked him why he did not wish to come in and pray.

The man replied 'I am Satan.' The man was shocked at this reply.

Shaitan went on to explain, 'I saw you on your way to the masjid and it was I who made you fall.

When you went home, cleaned yourself and went back on your way to the masjid, Allah forgave all of your sins.

I made you fall a second time, and even that did not encourage you to stay home, but rather, you went back on your way to the masjid.

Because of that, Allah forgave all the sins of the people of your household. I was afraid if i made you fall one more time, then Allah will forgive the sins of the people of your village, so I made sure that you reached the masjid safely.'

Satan will do his best to break us. Don't let him change our good intensions - It's important we do don't let him succeed.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Warning over Hajj pilgrimage rip-offs

Warning over Hajj pilgrimage rip-offs

Taken from The Observer, UK, Sunday August 31 2008

The government has warned British Muslims embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia this year to be on their guard against scams and rip-offs. Up to 50,000 Britons make the pilgrimage each year, but ministers have become concerned with the growing problem of unscrupulous travel agents cashing in on religious devotion.



Hotel and flight deals can cost more than £3,000, and every year hundreds fall victim to a variety of scams: paying for a five-star hotel near the Masjid al-Haram (the mosque that is a focal point of the event), but getting a tiny room far from the centre of Mecca; visas and flight tickets not arriving; and in extreme cases agents disappearing with their money.

Consumer affairs minister Gareth Thomas convened a conference of travel agents, community groups and consumer organisations last month, and told them that the government aimed to 'help pilgrims avoid booking with rogue travel agents, and to get redress when they fall foul of those who break the law'.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is planning a poster campaign in community centres and mosques aimed at improving awareness of consumer rights, and stressing the need to check that a tour operator to December's Hajj holds an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (Atol), that any company booked with is a member of a trade organisation such as Abta and to keep all documents such as contracts and invoices in case of later problems.

One of the groups that flagged up the problem, the Association of British Hujjaj, welcomed the move, saying the 'vast majority' of Hajj travel operators were one-man operations and 'simply opportunists who are looking for monetary gain by taking advantage of the vulnerable'. Last year, it handed a petition signed by 5,000 Hajj travellers to the government.

Dr Nadim Nayyar, from Liversedge in West Yorkshire, booked last year through a Luton-based firm, Go4 Hajj. His party of nine paid for a luxury package costing £32,000. Just 48 hours before they were due to depart, Nayyar discovered their Saudi Arabian visas had not been obtained by the company. 'Our Hajj was over. I felt totally devastated,' he said.

'The pre-Hajj seminar, where we were supposed to meet other travellers, kept on getting delayed. Then we found that our flights had been altered from scheduled to chartered, changing in Bahrain. Then we found out they couldn't get the five-star hotels they had promised, and we were being downgraded.'

After learning that their trip was cancelled, Nayyar and 60 other pilgrims who had been let down were told the firm had no assets left to refund them, although he eventually recovered his money through Go4 Hajj's Atol cover.

'This is not just a package holiday, but an obligatory religious visit, so people tend to be far too trusting,' said Nayyar. 'I think that's where we fell down.'

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Makkah’s Zamzam Mafia Is Active Once Again

Makkah’s Zamzam Mafia Is Active Once Again
Taken from Arab News, 24 September 2007
By Badea Abu Al-Naja


Citizens and visitors in Makkah this year hoped for a hassle-free filling system at the Zamzam refill station near Kuday roundabout. However, they have been shocked to find a gang of overstayers monopolizing the water distribution.



A gang of overstayers are monopolizing the Zamzam distribution. (AN photo by Badea Abu Al-Naja)

The Zamzam mafia sells holy water, which is available free of charge, at SR16 per gallon. Arab News toured the area to see the illegal activities of the Zamzam mafia — mainly illegal Africans and South Asian nationals, especially Burmese.

The Zamzam mafia is effectively managing a monopoly of Zamzam taps and prevents pilgrims and visitors from filling their cans with water. If any of the gang members manning the taps leaves, then another member of the gang takes his place.

One wonders why there are no policemen at the location to stamp out this problem. People are unable to obtain even a drop of water unless they pay the gang members small fees. The mafia also physically pushes people away and is known to beat people who “invade their turf.”

The absence of police or officials at the location offers the overstayers a perfect opportunity to make a fast buck. Arab News also discovered that some overstayers and foreign residents adulterate Zamzam water with ordinary water and sell it to pilgrims as pure Zamzam. The absence of authority has allowed the Zamzam station to become dirty with spilt water everywhere — something that poses a serious health hazard.

Arab News also learned that the various gangs that make up the Zamzam mafia fix prices and have an agreement not to step into each other’s turf. They also buy hundreds of empty cans to sell to pilgrims.

I approached one of the members — a Burmese man, and told him that I wanted to fill 500 Zamzam cans. “Do you have the empty cans? If you want, you can buy them from me at the rate of SR10 per can, which I’ll fill for you for SR8 per gallon,” he said. I haggled with him for a reduced rate but he refused saying that his price was final. I went to another man and he offered to fill it for SR7 per can. If one person could fill an average of 500 gallons per day at the price of SR8 per gallon, then they would make around SR4,000 a day.

Ali Hassan, a Saudi citizen, feels frustrated by the Zamzam mafia. “Last year the place was divided into two sections. One section was for individuals and the other section was for mosques and charity organizations,” he said.

“The refilling process at the place was controlled by a private company. Each individual had the right to fill five gallons at one time. We used to pay SR1 per gallon. Now the whole place is under the total control of these unscrupulous overstayers,” he said.

Majed Samir, a Saudi citizen, arrived at the place in the afternoon to fill two gallons of Zamzam water. He said that he tried to fill it himself but was not allowed by the Zamzam mafia. In the end he had no choice but to pay them SR16 per gallon.

“I agreed to pay under the condition that they would carry them to my car and they agreed.

Shortly after that, the Passport Department raided the place and the mafia members ran away.

After the Passport Department left, another foreigner came to me and told me that the man who offered to fill the cans for me was arrested,” he said.

“This second man offered to fill my cans if I paid him SR7 per can. While he was filling my gallons I saw the first man walk in. I realized then that these people even con each other. I decided to leave and not to create a big scene because it wasn’t any use in the absence of the police,” he added.

Nizar Suwaileh said that what was happening inside the Zamzam station was a joke. He wondered how foreigners had managed to take control and why the police were not addressing the issue. “The government built this place to help people get Zamzam water without any hassle.
Instead we’re insulted and pushed around by these people,” he added.

Ayed Al-Luqmani, head of the Passport Department in Makkah, said that the department is conducting daily raids to arrest overstayers and has managed to arrest several violators.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Dial M for Mufti and you can quiz the world's first Islamic helpline

Taken from The Times, UK, October 10, 2008
By Sonia Verma

One of
the most distinguished muftis in the Gulf switches on his computer, dons a headset and prepares to issue yet another fatwa.




Abdulrahman Ammoura, 48, usually dispenses his religious advice to the faithful at a nearby mosque but today he is in a cramped cubicle in Abu Dhabi, answering the telephone at the world's first call centre for people seeking a fatwa, or religious edict. The popularity of the service easily eclipses attendance at his Friday prayers; it is used by Muslims all over the world, and its organisers say it now takes about 3,700 calls a day, including queries from Britain.

“I am tired, so tired,” the mufti says, midway through a six-hour shift. “I hear ringing in my ears.” He is distressed by his most recent caller, a married woman whose alcoholic husband had turned violent, hitting her and forcing her to have sex. Should she seek a divorce, the woman asked. “I said, ‘No - it is better for him to find help'. A woman living alone with children could face too many problems.”

His advice now counts as an official fatwa in the United Arab Emirates, under new rules issued by the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments. The UAE Government established the call centre three months ago in an attempt to root out extreme interpretations of Islam issued by unqualified scholars. All fatwas issued through the call centre comply with the Government's moderate religious stance. Any others are considered invalid instructions.

The 48 muftis who staff the phones - there is also a handful of female scholars - are screened by the authority and must show impeccable credentials in Islamic law. They work in teams, with six men and two women on six-hour shifts, between 8am and 8pm on working days.

A skeleton staff takes calls for “religious emergencies” during the night.

The UAE follows the Maliki school of Sunni Islam, which the Government considers a “moderate, middle way” of the religion.

Callers can select the service in Arabic, Urdu or English. Each workstation is equipped with religious reference texts and the internet so that the muftis can consult a variety of sources before issuing their rulings.

Most callers have questions concerning the rules of worship, relationships and business. All the muftis interviewed said that, so far, none of their callers had questions relating to any kind of extremism or violence. “The hardest questions I am asked involve sex,” said Mufti Ammoura, who began his career as an imam in the UAE Air Force 25 years ago. “I feel shame, but I have to answer the questions because it is my duty.”

Apart from the freephone line (800 2244 within the UAE, for which the international prefix is +971) the muftis get thousands of questions via their website, awqaf.ae - although the site is Arabic only - and by SMS, with a maximum 270-character response.

Each call is limited to three minutes, but the muftis complain that some callers break the rules, refusing to hang up or calling again and again with the same question. “One caller opened his heart to me for more than an hour. What can I do?” one said.

Officials will not disclose the cost of the call centre. Depending on his qualifications, a mufti can earn between £1,250 and £2,300 a month, not including overtime.

There are also plans for expansion, hiring 50 more muftis and opening satellite centres elsewhere in the Muslim world. “We were not prepared for the popularity,” one official said. “Already, we get more calls than Emirates Airlines.”

Further Reading:
Give us a Mufti, say UK Muslims - Times, June 10, 2007

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Pic: Day of Eid-ul-Fitr in Makkah 2008

Pictures taken from Daily Mail, 30th September 2008

It's one of the most awe-inspiring sights in religion.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims circled the Kaaba inside and outside the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabian city of Makkah this morning.














Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Common Errors in Prayer that must be avoided

Thanks to Nazrul Islam for forwarding this...

Forward it to many Muslims, so that they can learn and correct their mistakes with the help of Allah

Common Errors in Prayer That MUST Be Avoided:-

1. Reciting Surat al-Fatiha fast without pausing after each verse.
The Prophet (SAW) used to pause after each verse of this surah. (Abu Dawood)

2. Sticking the arms to the sides of the body, in rukoo' or sujood, and sticking the belly to the thighs in sujood.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "Let not one of you support himself on his forearms (in sujood ) like the dog.

Let him rest on his palms and keep his elbows away from his body." ( Sahih Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) used to keep his arms away from his body during rukoo' and sujood that the whiteness of his armpits could be seen ( Sahih Muslim).

3. Gazing upward during prayer. This may cause loss of concentration. We are commanded to lower our gaze, and look at the point at which the head rests during sujood.
The Prophet (SAW) warned: "Let those who raise their gaze up during prayer stop doing so, or else their sights would not return to them. [ i.e. Lose their eyesight]. " ( Muslim)

4. Resting only the tip of the head on the floor during sujood.
The Prophet (SAW) said: "I am commanded to prostrate on seven bones the forehead and the nose, the two hands [palms],the two knees, and the two feet." ( Sahih Muslim)

Applying the above command necessitates resting the forehead and the nose on the ground during sujood.

5. Hasty performance of prayer which does not allow repose and calmness in rukoo' or sujood.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) saw a man who did not complete his rukoo' [bowing], and made a very short sujood [prostration]; he(SAW) said: "If this man dies while praying in this manner, he would die upholding a religion other than the religion of Muhammad."

Abu Hurairah (RA) said:"My beloved friend, Muhammad (SAW) forbade me to perform postures of prayer copying the picking of a rooster; (signifying fast performance of prayer), moving eyes around like a fox and the sitting like monkeys ( i.e. to sit on thighs)." (Imam Ahmad & at-Tayalisi)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "The worst thief is the one who steals from his own prayer." People asked, 'Messenger of Allah! How could one steal from his own prayer?' He(SAW) said: "By not completing its rukoo' and sujood."(At-Tabarani & al-Hakim).

To complete rukoo' is to stay in that posture long enough to recite 'subhana rabbiyal Adtheem' three times, SLOWLY,and'subhana rabbiyal-a'ala' three times, SLOWLY, in sujood.

He (SAW) also announced:"He who does not complete his rukoo' and sujood, his prayer is void." (Abu Dawood & others)

6. Counting tasbeeh with the left hand
The Prophet (SAW) used to count tasbeeh on the fingers of his right hand after salah.

lbn Qudamah (RA) said:?"The Messenger of Allah (SAW) used his right hand for tasbeeh." ( Abu Dawud)

The above hadeeth indicates clearly that the Prophet (SAW) used only one hand for counting tasbeeh. No Muslim with sound mind would imagine that the Prophet (SAW) used his left hand for counting tasbeeh. Aa'ishah (RA) said that the Prophet (SAW) used his left hand only for Istinjaa', or cleaning himself after responding to the call of nature.?He never used it for tasbeeh.

Yasirah (RA) reported:?The Prophet(SAW) commanded women to count tasbeeh on their fingers.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: "They (the fingers) will be made to speak, and will be questioned (on the Day of Resurrection.)" (At-Tirmithi)

The above hadeeth indicates that it is preferable to count tasbeeh on the fingers of the right hand than to do so on masbahah(rosary).

7. Crossing in front of a praying person.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) warned: "Were the one who crosses in front of a praying person to know the consequences of doing so, he would have waited for *forty better than to cross in front of him." (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim).

*The forty in the tradition may be days months or even years.
Allah knows best.


Further Reading:

For more advice on avoiding mistakes during Salaat please read the following document:

40 Commmon Mistakes in Salaat - Saalih Ibn Abdul-Azeez Ibn Muhammad Aalish-Shaykh (hafithahullah) (PDF)

Friday, 12 September 2008

Boycott fake Zam Zam water

A couple of years ago during Ramadan, I purchased a few bottles of Zam Zam water from my local mosque. Little did I know that the Holy water of Zam Zam is prohibited by the Saudi government to be sold within the Saudi Kingdom or to be exported outside it for commercial purpose.

Zamzam is the name of a famous well in al-Masjid al-Haraam [the Sacred Mosque in Makkah], which is thirty-eight cubits away from the Holy Ka’bah.

The miracle of how it came to being in the middle of a desert, its consistency throughout 1000s of years, the beneficial qualities it has, and the fact that it never dries up makes this water is special.

Muslims refer to the water of ZamZam as something revered and unique. They crave this mysterious liquid and love to drink it whenever they can. And for those who managed to go to the Hajj, they return home carrying it for thousands of miles as a prized possession and to give as special gift to their friends and families.

It is noted that what is called "Zam Zam water" is sold all over the country in different packages and bottles for the Muslim community.



In most cases the water is just ordinary imported contaminated water with salt added to it.

But in some cases - the imported water has almost three times as much nitrate and twice as much arsenic as the World Health Organisation believes is safe.

Studies show children under six months and elderly people are particularly vulnerable to excessive nitrate while regular consumption of arsenic in water is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths a year in south east Asia. Diluted arsenic has been associated with disorders of the nervous system, loss of sensation in the limbs and hearing impairment.

Criminal gangs operate multi-million pound illegal racket selling these fake holy water. The black market trade in fake 'Zam Zam' water - is becoming a serious concern for health officials.

Real Zam Zam water was tested in 1971 and found to be fit for drinking. Tests showed it had a greater quantity of calcium and magnesium salts than normal water, which may explain why it can help refresh pilgrims. It also contains fluorides that can help combat germs.

The UK Food Standards Agency has warned Muslims not to buy the water. A number of London councils, have seized fake bottles. LAst year trading standards officers seized bottles from a shop in Notting Hill, west London, and similar seizures have been carried out in Gloucester, Barnsley and Leicester.

My advice to anyone is boycott these shops that sell Zam Zam water. If you want to taste Zam Zam water simply ask someone who has done Hajj recently - they will happily share some water with you insha-Allah.

Further reading:


(1) UK Muslims warned: don't drink poisonous 'holy' water - The Observer, October 7 2007

(2) Batch of fake holy water seized - BBC News, 13 September 2007

(3) Letter from Saudi Embassy to UK Food Standards Agency - Central London Mosque, 22 August 2005

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Pictures: Makkah redevelopment project

Following on from the article
Islam's holiest city set for 130-skyscraper redevelopment

Here are some pictures of the redevelopment that is currently taking place in Makkah. The pictures are in no particular order and has been taken from forum on skyscrapercity.com. Do visit the site for up-to-date pictures. Thanks to Fahd Masood for the idea of a pictorial update of Makkah redevelopment.

Pictures before redevelopment
(click on the pictures to make them bigger)













Different Proposals
(I am not sure which one has been selected)













Pictures of the redevelopment taking place







The Quran and Hadith on Ramadan

Taken from soundvision.com

THE QURAN ON FASTING

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).

(Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know." (2:183-84)

"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days.

Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him" (2: 185).

"It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of the fasts. They are garments for you and you are the same for them. Allah knows that you used to deceive yourselves, so He turned to you and forgave you. So now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allah has ordained for you, and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your fast till the nightfall.

And do not have sexual relations with them (your wives) while you are in Itikaf in the mosques. These are the limits (set) by Allah, so approach them not. Thus does Allah make clear His signs to mankind that they may become Al Muttaqun (the pious)" (2:187).

"Verily! We have sent it (this Quran) down in the night of Al-Qadr.

And what will make you know what the night of Al-Qadr is?

The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months

Therein descend the angels and the Ruh (Gabriel) by Allah's Permission with all Decrees,
Peace! until the appearance of dawn (97:1-5)


THE HADITH ON FASTING

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: If anyone omits his fast even for one day in Ramadan without a concession or without being ill, then if he were to fast for the rest of his life he could not make up for it (Bukhari).

Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord" (Muslim).

Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness (Darimi).

---------------------------------------------

(Some additional ahadith not mentioned in this article)

Allah's Apostle was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur'an. Allah's Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds). (Bukhari)

When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. (Bukhari )

"Fasting is a shield and a powerful fortress." (Ahmad, Baihaqi)

Jabir (RA) related that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, "In every day and every night, during the month of Ramadan, there are people to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and it will be granted". (Ahmad)

Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years' distance. (Muslim)

Allah, the Majestic and the Exalted, said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him except fasting. It is done for my sake, and I will give a reward for it. By Allah in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad [SAW], the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk. (Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, ‘Fasting and reciting Qur'an intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: O Allah, I prevented him from eating and satiating his lawful lust, so let me intercede on his behalf; and the Qur'an will say: I prevented him from sleeping during the night, so let me intercede for him.’ (Ahmad & Tabaraani)

Abu Umaamah (RA) reports that (SAW) said: “Recite the Quran for indeed it will come on the Day of Judgment as an intercessor for its Ashaab (those who read, memorise and implement it)

The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn and the meal is blessed (Muslim)

To feed a person fasting to open his fast is righteous, the reward for it is the same as the person fasting while no reward is deducted from the person fasting [Tirmidhi (Kitab ul Saum)]

The Sahabah asked: “Oh messenger of Allah none of us finds means wherewith to give food to a fasting man!”He (SAW) replied: “Allah will bestow this reward on one who gives food to a fasting man even if it is a sip of milk or a date or a sip of water. And whosoever gives satisfaction to a man, Allah will give him a drink from my fountain that will not make him thirsty till he will enter Paradise. And it is a month of which the beginning is mercy, the middle is forgiveness and the end is freedom from the fire. And whosoever makes light the (burden of) his covenanted slaves therein, Allah will forgive him, and He will make him free from the fire.” (Mishkat ul Masabih)

---------------------------------------------

When to start fasting
Ibn Umar related that the Prophet said: Do not start fasting unless you see the new moon, and do not end fasting until you see it. If the weather is cloudy then calculate when it should appear (Bukhari, Muslim).

The Suhoor meal (which is eaten before dawn)
Anas related that Rasulullah said: Take the Suhoor meal, for there is blessing in it (Bukhari, Muslim).

Breaking your fast
Salman ibn Amir Dhabi related that the Prophet said: Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

Fasting during a journey
Aisha related that Rasulullah was asked whether one should fast when on a journey, and he replied: Fast if you like, or postpone it if you like (Bukhari, Muslim).

Behavior while fasting
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink (Bukhari, Muslim).

Forgetfully eating or drinking while fasting
Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: If anyone forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks he should complete his Siyam, for it is Allah who has fed him and given him drink (Bukhari, Muslim).

Providing for those who are breaking the fast
Zaid ibn Khalid Juhni related that the Prophet said: He who provides for the breaking of the Siyam of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing Siyam diminishing in any way the reward of the latter (Tirmidhi).

Lailat al-Qadr
Aisha related that the Prophet said: Look for Lailat al-Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari).

Anas ibn Malik related that Rasulullah said: When Lailat al-Qadr comes Gabriel descends with a company of angels who ask for blessings on everyone who is remembering Allah, whether they are sitting or standing (Baihaqi).

Friday, 5 September 2008

Can you use Toothpaste and Mouthwash whilst Fasting in Ramadan?

Taken from islam.ca

Q: I would like to know if during your work day in Ramadan, if you are allowed to gargle with mouth wash given that you have to interact with people constantly.

Answered by Shaikh Ahmed Kutty, Islamic Institute of Toronto

Your intention to appear in public and interact with people in a pleasant and pleasing manner is indeed commendable; and that is what every Muslim should do; for Islam teaches us to be people- friendly and easy to interact with.

Coming to your question about using mouth wash to gargle while fasting, let me state: There is nothing wrong about it as long we take care not to swallow the water.

It goes without saying that we are also allowed to use toothpaste while brushing. I wish to stress this point for many Muslims are under the wrong impression that use of toothpaste or mouth wash would break the fast.

Let me reiterate that such actions do not in anyway affect the validity of one’s fast for the following reasons:

First of all, such actions do not in any way fall under the category of consuming foods/drinks.

Secondly, we have ample evidence in the sources that companions such as Ibn Abbas and others allowed people to taste saltiness of foods—while fasting-- by placing them on the tip of the tongue.

Prophet, peace be upon him, was also in the habit of brushing his teeth numerous times during the day while fasting, even as he was wont of pouring water on his head to cool himself.

May Allah accept our fasts, prayers and supplications-aameen.

---------------------------------------

UPDATE by MC: I would like to add that many people view that using a toothbrush would be makrook (disliked) - if we swallowed the paste directly or via an aftertaste then the fast would be broken. If people have any doubts then please brush without the paste or simply use a Miswaak. They are cheap to buy and by using it you will feel more comfortable.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Top 10 Bad Habits in Ramadan

Some useful information that we should all avoid...

Ramadan observed from around the world!

Here's some interesting clips I've found on You Tube. I will add some more in the near future Insha-Allah.

Muslims in America fasting Ramadan


Non Muslim experiencing Ramadan with Muslim Family P1/2


Non Muslim experiencing Ramadan with Muslim Family P2/2


Russian Muslims celebrate Ramadan


Ramadan moon sighting on Japanese TV


Lebanon, Ramadan

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Sincerity of a Six Years Old

Taken from islamcan.com

There was a little girl (six years old) who was fasting in Ramadhan, even though it is not obligatory on people below the age of puberty.

She was in school, and at lunch time, when all the other children went out to eat and have lunch, she sat in the classroom, because she was fasting.

Her (non-muslim) teacher thought that she was too young to fast, and so said that it was not necessary, and she could eat a little.

The girl still didn't eat. Then the teacher said: "Your parents are not here, it doesn't matter if you eat a little".

The girl replied: "I am not fasting for my parents, I am fasting for Allah".

This simple statement had such a profound effect on the teacher, that later she accepted Islam.

Monday, 25 August 2008

The Age of Aishah

Taken from islamonline.net

Q: I was wondering what was the true age of `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) at marriage. I have read in places that the hadiths that say what her age was at marriage are weak hadiths.

Answered by Counselor: Hwaa Irfan

The issue of `A'ishah bint Abi Bakr has arisen purely around the fact that she married Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) when she was young and as you said, “Do we know what her true age was?” The problem is that we are dependent on reports of information.

Even with accurate reporting, it is difficult to sustain that level of accuracy 100% of the time, all the time. The true records that are referred to by Muslims for guidance are the Qur’an and the Hadiths (traditions) of Prophet Muhammad, the essence of both of which is the religion of Islam.

They are not sociology textbooks although Islam covers all aspects of life. One of the foremost records depended upon is the collection of hadiths of Prophet Muhammad in the Sahih of Al-Bukhari. From the translation of Dr. Amin Al-Masri of Cambridge University, England and Head of Shari`ah at the College of Shari`ah and Islamic Studies in Makkah, we are informed:

`A'ishah reported that the Prophet wrote the marriage contract with her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: “I have been informed that `A'ishah remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e., till his death).” (Al-Bukhari 7: 65)

The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with `A'ishah while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death). (Al-Bukhari 7: 88)

Islamic scholar Maulana Muhammad Ali was one of the first to challenge `A’ishah’s age. In his books Muhammad, the Prophet and Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad, he states:

A great misconception prevails as to the age at which `A'ishah was taken in marriage by the Prophet. Ibn Sa`d has stated in the Tabaqat that when Abu Bakr (father of `A’ishah) was approached on behalf of the Prophet, he replied that the girl had already been betrothed to Jubair and that he would have to settle the matter first with him. This shows that `A'ishah must have been approaching maturity at the time.

Again, the Isaba, speaking of the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah, says that she was born five years before the Call and was about five years older than `A’ishah. This shows that `A'ishah must have been about ten years at the time of her betrothal to the Prophet, and not six years as she is generally supposed to be.

This is further borne out by the fact that `A'ishah herself is reported to have stated that when the fifty-fourth chapter [i.e., surah] of the Qur’an entitled “The Moon” [Al-Qamar] was revealed, she was a girl playing about and remembered certain verses then revealed. Now the fifty-fourth chapter was undoubtedly revealed before the sixth year of the Call. All these considerations point to but one conclusion, viz., that `A'ishah could not have been less than ten years of age at the time of her nikah, which was virtually only a betrothal.

And there is one report in the Tabaqat that `A'ishah was nine years of age at the time of nikah. Again it is a fact admitted on all hands that the nikah of `A'ishah took place in the tenth year of the Call in the month of Shawwal. This is while there is also preponderance of evidence as to the consummation of her marriage taking place in the second year of Hijrah in the same month, which shows that full five years had elapsed between the nikah and the consummation. Hence, there is not the least doubt that `A’isha was at least nine or ten years of age at the time of betrothal, and fourteen or fifteen years at the time of marriage.

If we dig deeper, we find that the great Islamic historian Ibn Jarir At-Tabari in his History iterated:

In the time before Islam, Abu Bakr married two women. The first was Fatila daughter of `Abdul `Uzza, from whom `Abdullah and `Asmaa’ were born. Then he married Umm Ruman, from whom `Abdur-Rahman and `A'ishah were born. These four were born before Islam.

Looking at `A'ishah's impressions of her early life, we can indeed see that she was born before the Call:

Since I reached the age when I could remember things, I have seen my parents worshiping according to the right faith of Islam. Not a single day passed but Allah’s Messenger visited us both in the morning and in the evening. When the Muslims were persecuted, Abu Bakr set out for Ethiopia as an emigrant. When he reached a place called Bark Al-Ghimad, he met Ibn Ad-Daghna, the chief of the Qara tribe, who asked Abu Bakr, “Where are you going?” Abu Bakr said, “My people have turned me out of the country and I would like to tour the world and worship my Lord.” Ibn Ad-Daghna said, “A man like you will not go out, nor will he be turned out, as you help the poor earn their living, keep good relations with your kith and kin, help the disabled (or the dependents), provide guests with food and shelter, and help people during their troubles. I am your protector. So, go back and worship your Lord at your home.”

Ibn Ad-Daghna went along with Abu Bakr and took him to the chiefs of Quraysh saying to them, “A man like Abu Bakr will not go out, nor will he be turned out. Do you turn out a man who helps the poor earn their living, keeps good relations with kith and kin, helps the disabled, provides guests with food and shelter and helps the people during their troubles?” (Al-Bukhari 3: 37 #494)

570 CE: Prophet Muhammad born
595 CE: Married Khadijah, his first wife
610 CE: Received the revelation that led to his Call to Islam
613 CE: Started preaching publicly
615 CE: His daughter Fatimah born
622 CE: Left Makkah for Madinah
623 CE: `A'ishah entered the household of Prophet Muhammad
625 CE: Battle of Uhud

The famous classical commentator on the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir, wrote in Al-Bidayya wan-Nihaya: “Asmaa’ died in 73 AH at the age of one hundred years. She was ten years older than her sister `A'ishah.”

It might be worth noting that pubescence is characterized by the proliferation of sex cells which begins with the menarche, or first menstruation, in girls. Research has noted that the average age at which the menarche begins has been decreasing among Western European girls and apparently among girls of the United States and Canada, as well, since as far back as 1976.

What this means is that we should try to avoid generalizations about when menstruation begins; this differs from culture to culture as well as epoch to epoch. If you want to take this further: puberty comes from the Latin word pubertas, which means “adult”. The Qur’an states what means:

*{And when the children among you have attained to puberty, let them seek permission as those before them sought permission; thus does Allah make clear to you His communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise}* (An-Nur 24: 59)

It all depends on what one wishes to recognize, the laws of nature or the social laws constructed by man. `A'ishah married willingly under circumstances that supported that marriage, whichever argument one chooses to follow.

Further reading:

(1) More About `A'ishah (islamonline)

(2) About the Marriages of the Prophet (islamonline)

The Pillars of Islam

Taken from islam-qa.com

Islam is based on five pillars which the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has explained for us, when he said: “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing regular prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadaan.” (Agreed upon; narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 8)

Islam is both belief and laws, in which Allaah and His Messenger have told us what is halaal and what is haraam, morals and good manners, acts of worship and how to interact with people, rights and duties, and scenes of the resurrection. When Allaah completed this religion, He chose it to be the way of life for all of mankind until the Hour begins:

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion [al-Maa'idah 5:3 – interpretation of the meaning]

These are the pillars of Islam and the principles upon which it is based:

The first pillar: al-Shahaadatayn (the twin testimony of faith)

This means that a person believes that Allaah alone is the Lord, Sovereign and Controller, the Creator and Provider. He affirms all His most beautiful names and the sublime attributes that Allaah has affirmed for Himself or that His Prophet affirmed for Him. He believes that Allaah alone, and no one else, is the Only One Who is deserving of worship, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. How can He have children when He has no wife? He created all things and He is the All-Knower of everything.

Such is Allaah, your Lord! Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakeel (Trustee, Disposer of affairs or Guardian) over all things”[al-An’aam 6:101-102]

And he believes that Allaah sent His Messenger Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and revealed to him the Qur’aan, and commanded him to convey this religion to all of mankind. He believes that loving Allaah and His Messenger and obeying them are duties which are obligatory upon all of mankind, and that love of Allaah can only be realized by following His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him):

“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love Allaah, then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’aan and the Sunnah), Allaah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:31 – interpretation of the meaning]

The second pillar: salaah (prayer)

The Muslim believes that Allaah has enjoined upon every sane adult Muslim five prayers each day and night, which he does in a state of purity, standing before his Lord, every day in a state of purity and humility, thanking his Lord for His blessings, asking Him of His bounty, seeking His forgiveness for his sins, asking Him for Paradise and seeking refuge in Him from Hell.

The five obligatory prayers which are required day and night are Fajr (early morning, before dawn), Zuhr (mid-day, just after noon), ‘Asr (mid afternoon), Maghrib (just after sunset) and ‘Ishaa’ (at night, after dark has fallen). There are also Sunnah prayers such as Qiyaam al-Layl (prayer at night), Taraweeh prayers, two rak’ahs of Duha prayer, etc.

Prayer, whether it is fard or naafil, represents a sincere turning towards Allaah alone in all one's affairs. Allaah has commanded all the believers to guard strictly the observance of the prayers, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Guard strictly (five obligatory) As‑Salawaat (the prayers) especially the middle Salaah (i.e. the best prayer ‑ ‘Asr). And stand before Allaah with obedience [and do not speak to others during the Salaah (prayers)]”[al-Baqarah 2:238]

The five daily prayers are obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, night and day:
“Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours”[al-Nisaa’ 4:103 – interpretation of the meaning]

The one who abandons prayer has no share in Islam. Whoever neglects it deliberately is a kaafir, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“(And remain always) turning in repentance to Him (only), and be afraid and dutiful to Him; and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah) and be not of Al‑Mushrikoon (the polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allaah)[al-Room 30:31]

Islam is based on co-operation, brotherhood and love, and Allaah has prescribed coming together for these prayers and others, in order to attain these virtues. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Prayer in congregation is twenty-seven times better than prayer offered alone.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 650)

Prayer helps the believer at times of hardship and calamity. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And seek help in patience and As-Salaah (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khaashi‘oon [i.e. the true believers in Allaah — those who obey Allaah with full submission, fear much from His punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise) and in His Warnings (Hell)].[al-Baqarah 2:45]

The five daily prayers wipe out sins, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do you not think that if there was a river at the door of any one of you, and he were to bathe in it five times each day, would there by any dirt left on him?” They said, “No dirt would be left on him at all.” He said, “That is the likeness of the five daily prayers, by means of which Allaah erases sin.”

Prayer in the mosque is a means of entering Paradise. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever comes and goes to the mosque, Allaah will prepare for him a house in Paradise for each time he comes and goes.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 669)

Prayer brings the slave and his Creator together. It was the delight of the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Whenever any matter grieved him, he would turn to prayer and converse with his Lord and call upon Him, seeking His forgiveness and asking Him of His bounty.

Prayer done with proper humility and fear of Allaah brings the Muslim closer to his Lord, and keeps him from doing evil, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Recite (O Muhammad) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’aan), and perform As‑Salaah (Iqaamat‑as‑Salaah). Verily, As‑Salaah (the prayer) prevents from Al‑Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse) and Al‑Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed)”[al-‘Ankaboot 29:45]

The third pillar: zakaah (poor due, charity tax)

Just as Allaah has created people with different colours, attitudes and levels of knowledge, so too their deeds and provision vary. He has made some of them rich and some poor, to test the rich as to whether they show gratitude, and to test the poor as to whether they are patient. Because the believers are a brotherhood, and brotherhood is based on compassion, kindness, love and mercy, Allaah has enjoined upon the Muslims zakaah which is taken from the rich and given to the poor. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Take Sadaqah (alms) from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allaah for them. Verily, your invocations are a source of security for them”[al-Tawbah 9:103]

Zakaah purifies and cleanses wealth, and purifies the soul from stinginess and miserliness. It strengthens the love between the rich and poor, takes away hatred, makes security prevail and brings happiness to the ummah happy.

Allaah has made the payment of zakaah obligatory upon everyone who owns the nisaab (minimum amount) for one year. The rate of zakaah on gold, silver, other metals and trade goods is one quarter of ten percent. On agricultural produce and fruits the amount is one-tenth if it is irrigated (by artificial means), and one-half of one-tenth if it is not irrigated (by artificial means, i.e., it is watered by rainfall or other natural means). Concerning an’aam animals (i.e., sheep, goats, cattle and camels) the details are explained in the books of fiqh… Whoever pays zakaah, Allaah expiates his sins thereby, and blesses his wealth, and stores up for him a great reward. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give Zakaah, and whatever of good (deeds that Allaah loves) you send forth for yourselves before you, you shall find it with Allaah. Certainly, Allaah is All-Seer of what you do”[al-Baqarah 2:110]

Withholding zakaah brings disasters and evils upon the ummah. Allaah has threatened those who withhold it with a painful torment on the Day of Resurrection. He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Verily, there are many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks who devour the wealth of mankind in falsehood, and hinder (them) from the way of Allaah (i.e. Allaah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism). And those who hoard up gold and silver (Al‑Kanz: the money, the Zakaah of which has not been paid) and spend them not in the way of Allaah, announce unto them a painful torment.

On the Day when that (Al‑Kanz: money, gold and silver, the Zakaah of which has not been paid) will be heated in the fire of Hell and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, (and it will be said unto them:) ‘This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what you used to hoard’” [al-Tawbah 9:34-35]

Concealing one’s zakaah is better than paying it openly in front of people, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“If you disclose your Sadaqaat (almsgiving), it is well; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, that is better for you. (Allaah) will expiate you some of your sins. And Allaah is Well-Acquainted with what you do [al-Baqarah 2:271]

When a Muslim pays his zakaah, it is not permissible for him to give it to anyone except those whom Allaah mentions in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):

“As-Sadaqaat (here it means Zakaah) are only for the Fuqaraa’ (poor), and Al‑Masaakeen (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allaah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidoon — those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveller who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allaah. And Allaah is All-Knower, All-Wise”[al-Tawbah 9:60]

The fourth pillar: sawm (fasting) in Ramadaan

Fasting means abstaining from things which break the fast, such as food, drink and intercourse, from sunrise until sunset, with the intention of fasting.

The relationship of patience to faith is like that of the head to the body. Allaah has enjoined upon this ummah fasting for one month of the year, in order to draw closer to Allaah, to avoid that which Allaah has forbidden, to get used to being patient, to bring the nafs (self) under control, to compete in generosity and to demonstrate co-operation and mutual compassion. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”[al-Baqarah 2:183]

The month of Ramadaan is a great month, in which Allaah revealed the Qur’aan. The reward for good deeds, acts of charity and acts of worship are multiplied in this month. In it is Laylat al-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months. The gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the shayaateen (devils) are tied up.

Allaah has made fasting the month of Ramadaan obligatory upon every sane, adult Muslim, male and female alike, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

“The month of Ramadaan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadaan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allaah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allaah [i.e. to say Takbeer (Allaahu Akbar: Allaah is the Most Great)] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him” [al-Baqarah 2:185]

There is a great reward with Allaah for fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Every action of the son of Adam is multiplied, each good deed receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allaah said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for he gives up his desire and food for My sake.’” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Siyaam)

The fifth pillar: Hajj (pilgrimage)

Allaah has given the Muslims a Qiblah (direction of prayer) which they face when they pray (salaah) and offer supplications (du’aa’), wherever they may be. This qiblah is the Ancient House (the Ka’bah) in Makkah al-Mukarramah:

“so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid Al-Haraam (at Makkah). And wheresoever you people are, turn your faces (in prayer) in that direction [al-Baqarah 2:144 – interpretation of the meaning]

Because the Muslims scattered all over the world, and Islam calls people to be united and get to know one another, just as it calls them to co-operate in righteousness and piety, to recommend one another to the truth, to call people to Allaah and to venerate the rituals of Allaah – hence Allaah has made it obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the means, to visit His Ancient House, to circumambulate it and to perform all the rituals of Hajj as explained by Allaah and His Messenger. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka‘bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allaah, those who can afford the expenses (for one’s conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allaah], then Allaah stands not in need of any of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” [Aal Imraan 3:97]

Hajj is an occasion on which the unity of the Muslims, their strength and pride, are made manifest. For the Lord is One, the Book is one, the Messenger is one, the ummah is one, their worship is one and their clothing is one.

Hajj has its own etiquette and conditions which the Muslims must observe, such as restraining their tongues, hearing and sight from all that Allaah has forbidden, being sincere in their intentions, using money from good sources (for Hajj), fostering the best attitude, and avoiding everything that could invalidate the Hajj, such as sexual relations, sin or arguing unjustly, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e. the 10th month, the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, i.e. two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein (by assuming Ihraam), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allaah knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!”[al-Baqarah 3:197]

If the Muslim does Hajj correctly, in the manner prescribed and sincerely for the sake of Allaah, it will be an expiation for his sins. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allaah, and does not have sexual relations or commit sins, will come back like the day his mother bore him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 15210)

Taken from Usool al-Deen al-Islami, by Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem al-Tuawyjri