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Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action,and Change - By: Taha Ghayyur & Taha Ghaznavi

"Fasting in Ramadan develops in a person the real spirit of social belonging, of unity and brotherhood, and of equality before God. This spirit is the natural product of the fact that when people fast they feel that they are joining the whole Muslim society (which makes up more than one fifth of world's population) in observing the same duty, in the same manner, at the same time, for the same motives, and for the same end. No sociologist or historian can say that there has been at any period of history anything comparable to this powerful institution of Islam: Fasting in the month of Ramadan. People have been crying throughout the ages for acceptable 'belonging', for unity, for brotherhood, for equality, but how echoless their voices have been, and how very little success they have met..." says Hammudah Abdalati, in Islam in Focus.


"What is fasting?" "How does the fasting of Muslims in Ramadan differ from the fasting of other faiths?" "Why should one 'torture' one's body in the first place?" "What do you really gain from fasting in the end?"...These are a few questions that a number of non-Muslim friends and colleagues often ask us, usually out of fascination with this spiritually- uplifting practice of Islamic faith, and at times out of pity and sympathy for us, thinking, why should anyone suffer from hunger and thirst like Muslims? I wouldn't be surprised if many of us shared the same negative perception of Fasting.


12 Reasons To Fast!

1. Fasting is an institution for the improvement of moral and spiritual character of human being. The purpose of the fast is to help develop self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, the spirit of caring and sharing, the love of humanity and the love of God. Fasting is a universal custom and is advocated by all the religions of the world, with more restrictions in some than in others. The Islamic Fast, as opposed to mere starvation or self-denial, is an act of worship and obedience to God, thanksgiving,
forgiveness, spiritual training, and self-examination.


2. Ramadan gives us a break and provides us with a rare opportunity to think about our own selves, our future, and our families. It is a time to give our selves a mental break and to temporarily forget about the hundreds of worries and stresses we are constantly
bombarded with. In hectic times, such as ours, and in places like the West, this valuable time to think about our lives, on individual basis, is a luxury and is desperately needed! It is a unique month of self-analysis, and of taking stock of one's moral and spiritual 'assets and liabilities' .


3. Fasting indoctrinates us in patience, unselfishness, and gratitude. When we fast we feel the pains of deprivation and hunger, and learn how to endure it patiently. The meaning of this powerful experience in a social and humanitarian context is that we are much
quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to their needs. "It is the month to visit the poor, the sick, and the needy to share their sorrows. It is the month where the food, sustenance and the earnings
of a believing Muslim increases and they are blessed," says the Final Prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), a man who was known for his noble humanitarian causes, for social justice, and for being the first to respond to other's needs, despite the fact that he himself lived a very simple and humble life. It is only during such a trying time as Ramadan that we can reflect on the condition of those in this world who may not be as fortunate as us.


4. Fasting in Ramadan enables us to master the art of mature adaptability and Time-Management. We can easily understand this point when we realize that fasting makes people change the entire course of their daily life. When they make the change, they naturally adapt themselves to a new system and schedule, and move along to satisfy
the rules. This, in the long run, develops in them a wise sense of adaptability and self-created power to overcome the unpredictable hardships of life! A person who values constructive adaptability, time-management, and courage will appreciate the effects of Fasting in this respect as well.


5. It cultivates in us the principle of sincere Love, because when we observe Fasting, we do it out of deep love for God. And a person, who loves God, truly is a person who knows what love is and why everyone on this Earth should be loved and treated justly, for the sake of Allah SWT.


6. Fasting elevates the human spirit and increases our awareness of God. It strengthens our will-power as we learn to rise above our lower desires. The institution of fasting is both unique and a shared experience in human history. From the very beginning of time, humans have struggled to master their physical and psychological selves: their bodies and their emotions. Hunger is one the most powerful urges that we experience. Many, through over- or under-eating or consumption of unhealthy foods, abuse this urge. Thus, when a person purposefully denies something to their own self that it craves, they are elevating their mind above their body, and their reason and will above their carnal passions. "A fasting person empties his stomach of all the material things: to fill his soul with peace and blessings, to fill his heart with love and sympathy, to fill his spirit with piety and Faith, to fill his mind with wisdom and resolution," says H. Abdalati in Islam in Focus. The person who can rule their desires and make them work, as they like, has attained true moral excellence.


7. With the clarity of mind and absence of distractions, also comes a greater focus. As students, the period of fasting, especially early during the day, serves as a tool to focus our minds on our academics. In the month of Ramadan, many Muslims try to avoid watching TV, listening to music, and some other leisure activities, which spares
them more time and energy to be spent on more productive activities such as academics, intense study of Islam, voluntary prayers, social and humanitarian causes, and a quality time with the family, to name a few. It is a reminder of our duty to God, our purpose and higher values in life, as God Himself describes the purpose of fasting as follows, "O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness of God" (Quran 2:183).


8. Fasting has numerous, scientifically proven, benefits for our physical health and mental well-being. The time, length and nature of the Islamic Fast all contribute to its overall positive effect. One of the medical benefits is a much-needed rest to the digestive
system. The reduced food intake during the day allows the body to concentrate on getting rid of harmful dietary toxins accumulated as natural by-products of food digestion throughout the year. The length of the Islamic Fast itself (around 12-14 hours) is in sync with the 'transit time' of food from the mouth to the colon of the large intestine, ensuring that no stimulus reaches the stomach or digestive system while it remains in homeostasis. Therefore, for the vast majority of healthy individuals fasting poses no medical risks but in fact provides many health benefits, such as: an increase in serum Magnesium, essential for cardio-vascular health and prevention of heart complications; improvement in the quality and depth of sleep; improvement in memory and slower skin aging over time; increased production of growth hormone, etc. Also, as a general note, it has been observed that underfed animals live longer than their heavily fed counterparts and suffer fewer illnesses during their lives.


9. The month of Ramadan provides us with a sort of "Boot camp." It is a month of intense moral training. Since we know that Fasting is a special duty prescribed by God, we learn that any sins may spoil our record of fasting with God, so we go through great lengths making sure we are on our best behavior. Many people who experience fasting in this month, feel the impact that this intense training has on their habits, and realize the power of this transformative tool designed to make us better human beings- the ultimate goal of any spiritual exercise. The entire Ramadan atmosphere provides the driving force for this positive change.


10. It makes us realize the reality of life and death. Fasting makes us realize how dependant our lives are on things that we often take for granted, such as food and water. It makes us think about our dependence on God and God's mercy and justice. Moreover, it reminds us of the life after death, which itself has a great impact on our character and our world-view.


11. Ramadan is a blessed month for a special reason: It is actually the month in which God first revealed His final message and guidance for mankind to our beloved Prophet Muhammad. This message has been perfectly preserved both orally and textually in the form of a Book, called the Qur'an (The Reading/Recital) . Therefore, Muslims try to do an intense study of the Quran in this month especially, and evaluate their lives according to the standards and guidance contained in it.


12. After the month of Ramadan is over, Muslims celebrate one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic year: EID-UL-FITR, or the Festival of the Fast Breaking. It is a day to thank God for the blessing and training that He provides us with throughout the month of Ramadan. EID-UL-FITR is marked by praying in a huge congregation at an Islamic center or mosque, and by giving a small donation to the poor in the community. The adults give the donation on behalf of their children as well. Dinner parties, family outings, fairs, carnivals, and great joyous celebrations follow the prayer and charity.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farewell Khutbah for the Last Friday of Ramadan - Br Anas

Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakathuhu,

Al Hamdu Lillaahi Rabbil 'Aalameen was Salaatu
was Salaamu 'alaa Ashrafil Anbiyaa'e wal Mursaleen

All Praise is due to Almighty Allah, the Bounteous King; He is the
Mighty, Omnipotent, Gracious and Obliging, Who reveals Himself
everyday in a different state. I always praise Him, and am thankful
to Him secretly and openly. I bear witness that no one is worthy of
worship but Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala.

He is One and has no partner. This is the testimony which I sincerely
believe with my heart and tongue. I also bear witness that our
Spiritual Chief, our Apostle, and our Friend Nabee Muhammad
Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam is the Servant and True Messenger, whom
Almighty Allah sent with True Guidance and explanation (of Truth).

Let us reflect and ponder upon who we are, and the great blessings
that have been bestowed upon us. What lessons have we learnt from
this Most Holy and Auspicious Mubarak Month? Yes my most beloved
brothers and sisters! It is an open secret that we have accepted this
bond as something inevitable through our submission to the Din of Al
Islam. Differences, disputes, and even tensions, may cast a pall on
this fact, but Alhumdolillah, they can always be washed away by
recourse to wisdom, reason and forbearance.

Let us therefore view the conclusion of this most glorious month of
Love and Sabir in such a spirit so as to be able to draw the benefits
from it for our own selves and that of the great Islamic Ummah. Islam
is the religion of humanity, Islam is the religion of moderation,
wisdom, and submission to Almighty Allah Jallah Wa'ala, and without
doubt all religions have been such before being subject to
distortion. Islam presented to humanity the remedies of human
afflictions and sufferings, remedies which were free from any form
of extravagance, excess or neglect, and which were appealing and
acceptable to reason. Despite what the avowed enemies of Islam have
to say, Islam did it in the past and will continue to do so till the
Last Day.

Alhumdolillah! Islam has been and continues to be the Only True Path
leading to a new world and holding out the promise of a life of
Muhabbat, understanding, felicity, morality and salvation to mankind.
Islam invited humanity toward the remembrance of Almighty Rabbul
Ala'meen Exalted, humility, and an inner relationship with the Most
Glorious Creator and Sustainer. It taught man and exhorted him to
combat evil, aggression and corruption and to a constant struggle
against egotism, selfishness, the accumulation of material wealth,
and the pursuit of carnal desires.

O People who are present here! The Most Glorious Month of Ramadan is
coming to an end; where are the eyes that will weep and where are the
hearts that will humble themselves by the fear of Almighty Allah, the
Bounteous King? You have heard this so many times from the Holy
Qur'an: "All the creatures will certainly die." The time of the
departure of the month of Ramadan is very near and with you it will
stay just like a night-guest, or like a departing beloved. Never
forget that the separation of good friends is a very bitter thing; so
where are those who will perform as many good deeds in this month?
Undoubtedly those who have fasted, have collected great benefits and
the transgressors are the losers.

Bid farewell to this month with sighs, cries and constant weeping
when you say:

"Salaam to you, O month of Revelation: Salaam to you O Month of
Forgiveness (of Allah) and release from Jahannum! Salaam to you O
Month of the Illumination of Hearts! Salaam to you, O Month of
compensation of past sins! Salaam to you, O Sacred month, wherein
lies a night which is better than a thousand months!

Salaam, Salaam, O Month of Ramadan! Salaam to you, O Month of
Ramadan! Salaam to you, O Sacred month, whose nights are blessed by
Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala, and are a means of one's past
sins! Salaam to you, O Month of Virtue and Blessings of Almighty
Allah: Salaam to you, O Month of Charity and of fasting! Salaam to
you, O Month of Ibadah, Tarawee and remembrance of Allah!
Salaam to you, O Month of Takbir and glorification of Allah!

Salaam to you, O Honourable Visitor, whom we have welcomed
(enthusiastically) . O Traveller, we bid you an honourable farewell.
Salaam, Salaam, O Month of Ramadan! Blessed are you O Month of
Ramadan. O Month of Ramadan! We do not know whether you will be a
witness for us, or against us (on the Day of Judgement).

This is your last interview with us; we do not know whether you will
return to us (in our lifetime) or whether death will overpower us. O
Month of Ramadan! How fortunate is the person, to whom you will
return with blessings of Almighty Allah, and how fortunate is the
one, against whose misdeeds you will be a witness (on the Day of
Judgement!).

May Almighty Allah Rabbul Ala'meen bless our Masaajids' with your
presence for a long time, and may He light our lamps with your divine
light. The performance of Taraweeh is coming to an end, and our lamps
are going to be put off (by your departure). No one will wait for
Iftaar, and no one will see the stars for his or her Suhuur. For a
time our bellies were under your command, and our eyes were
kept awake in constant Ibadah. Undoubtedly, we are for Almighty
Allah, and to Him we will all return! Oh! How sad will be your
departure and separation from us. The day of your departure will be
sorrowful for all of us. O Most Holy Month of Almighty Allah! We bid
you our Salaam.

May Almighty Allah Most Merciful take mercy on the person who bid
farewell to Ramadan with repentance and devotion. All of you should
say: "O Almighty Allah!

Let us be among those who have attained salvation during the Holy
month of Ramadan. Deliver us from the fire of Jahannum, by the honour
of Ramadan. Pardon us with Your Mercy, O Most Merciful of those who
show Mercy. And all praise is due to Almighty Allah, the Lord of all
the worlds. I seek refuge in Almighty Allah, from Shaytaan the
rejected one. (Says Almighty Allah in the Holy Qur'an)!

"The pious will reside in an abode of Peace, in Jannah (with)
fountains; they will be dressed in brocade and silk, as they sit
before each other.

"Subahana Rabieka Rabiel Iezzatie Amma Yaseefoon Wasalamoon Alal
Moersaleem Wal Hamdoelillahi Rabbiel Ala'meen Bierahmatika Ya
Arahammar Raheemeen."

Ameen Ya Rabbal Ala'meen.

Baarak Allaahu Feekum wa-sal Allaahu wa-Sallam 'alaa Nabiyyina
Muhammad Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam.

Was Salamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu


The Fasting Person has Two Occasions for Joy

By Sheikh Riyâd al-Musaymîrî


Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah says: ‘Every deed of the child of Adam is for himself, except for fasting. It is for Me and I shall reward it.’ Fasting is a shield, so if it is a day of fasting for any one of you, then he should engage in no obscenity or shouting. If anyone belittles him or fights with him, he should just say ‘I am a person who is fasting’. I swear by Him in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the smell of the fasting person’s breath is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgment than that of musk. The fasting person has two occasions for joy, one when he breaks his fast because of his breaking it and the other when he meets his Lord because of the reward for his fast.”


[Sahîh al-Bukhârî (7492) and Sahîh Muslim (1151) with the wording being that of Muslim]


The Prophet (peace be upon him) says in this hadith: “The fasting person has two occasions for joy…” This does not mean that the fasting person experiences no other joys aside from these two. It is just that these two particular occasions of joy are exclusive to a fasting person and are experienced by no one else.


The fasting person experiences the first occasion of joy when he eats and drinks after a full day of self-restraint, patience, and obedience seeking Allah’s reward.


He experiences the second occasion of joy when he meets his Lord after a full lifetime of fasting and seeking Allah’s reward every time the month of Ramadan called upon him as an honored guest.


The first of these two joys comes every night in Ramadan when the Sun sets and the fasting person stretches out his hand to eat a sweet date or take a sip of cool, refreshing water to relieve his hunger and thirst.


And why should he not feel joy at this moment? He had expended every effort throughout the day only for his Lord’s pleasure and forbade himself his share of food and drink, seeking Allah’s eternal and everlasting reward.


It is the joy of having control over the demands of one’s own body and ascendancy over the everyday habits of life. It is, in this way, a spiritual joy, an exuberance that comes with the appearance of every Ramadan and with the exercise of goodly patience.


The happiness of a fasting person when he breaks his fast is not merely because he assuages his hunger and thirst, for even the lowliest of animals share in such pleasures. Instead, it is the joy of triumph over Satan and over one’s own passions and basest desires.


It is also the joy of having successfully carried out the command of our Lord. When He asked us to abandon our food, we abandoned it. When He called upon us to abstain from quenching our thirsts, we abstained from it.


We had hearkened to Allah’s words: “The month of Ramadan in which the Qur’ân was revealed as a guidance for humanity, clear proofs of guidance, and a criterion. So whoever among you witnesses the month, let him fast it.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 185]


As for the second occasion of joy, it is an experience like no other, reminiscent of the joy felt when meeting someone who is most beloved. It is the meeting of the fasting person with his Lord who had helped him to carry out his fast and had blessed him with success in doing so, and who had promised him for his fast the best of rewards that He has kept in store for him.


This is an experience of joy by which all the pains and sorrows of life are forever forgotten. It is an overwhelming joy. On that day, the person who had fasted during his worldly life will be entitled to rejoice in it. However, this will be the case only as long as he had restrained his hands from sinful deeds and his tongue from evil words and thereby safeguarded his fasts from becoming bereft of blessings.


Those who are barred from the blessings of their fasts are indeed doubly deprived. Their fasts deprived them of their food and drink, and then their conduct deprived them of the blessings and rewards. This is because they had violated the sanctity of the month of Ramadan with the ignominy of their words and the wickedness of their deeds.


Therefore, every fasting person needs to be aware of what the fast really means. He needs to fully appreciate its great and noble purposes. He must prepare himself mentally to safeguard his fast from every evil word and deed, so he can be sure to experience both of the joys that are unique to the fast. He should, likewise, let all the goodness that Allah has prepared for those who fast with sincerity be a means for him to restrain his eyes from casting their gaze upon that which is unlawful.


If, instead, a person opts not to lower his gaze from the foul images on the television screen and the forbidden sights of the street; if he chooses to indulge his ears in listening to provocative music and indecent songs; if, above all that, he allows his tongue to speak falsely and injuriously, then he should know that the only pleasure he shall experience when he breaks his fast is that felt by the cattle when they are set out to pasture or by the lion when it catches its prey.


Of joy, he will have nothing else.


The Three Grades of Fasting

From Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali

Translated from the Ihya' by Mukhtar Holland

Three Grades

It should be known that there are three grades of Fasting: ordinary, special and extra-special.

Ordinary Fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.

Special Fasting means keeping one's ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet -- and all other organs -- free from sin.

Extra-special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world. Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: 'Say: "Allah (sent it down)": then leave them to play in their vain discussions.' [al-An'am,6:91].


Reflecting on Our Roles in Ramadan

RAMADAN is the time of year in which we engage in a month-long process of introspection, repentance, and self-renewal. It is not only a time when we are to increase our commitment to performing various acts of worship such as fasting and prayer, but it should also be a time for reevaluating all aspects of our lives. As Muslims men, this process should include room for assessing our performance as both husbands and fathers.


For most people around the world, these are indeed strange and trying times. For Muslims, not much else needs to be said along these lines. Perhaps it is only knowing that this world is the realm of testing and that in one way or another in our lifetimes we will all be tested, that allows us to get up every day and face the outside world. For many family men, however, rigor and severity are not a reality only on the outside, but inside the home as well. For such individuals and their families, the abode of peace that the home is supposed to be is anything but that and many such families are living quiet lives of sadness, desperation, and rancor due to family relationships that are simply not working. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a very well-known Hadith was recorded as saying that marriage was equal to half of the deen [of Islam]. This profound statement by our master has spurred volumes of scholarly commentary over the centuries and from a layman s perspective, the Hadith is monumental in its meaning and importance for those who have embraced the way of marriage and family. Only through deep reflection on our lives as husbands and fathers can we begin to understand the essence of the Messenger s (peace be upon him) words and why marriage is awarded the weight of half of our faith as Muslims.


The life partnership and commitment that marriage entail should be approached as a spiritual undertaking that can be an important facilitator of individual spiritual development. Just as we are essentially spiritual beings in a human existence, marriage is a journey that if approached as such can be a rich source of learning and personal development for both spouses. As Muslim men, much of what we are taught about family life pertains to our roles and responsibilities as husbands, i.e. the X s and O s of marriage and family life.However, too often the spirit of marriage is ignored or missed. Too often, in the course of trying to manage our families, we completely overlook the nuances that make marriage and family so important a human experience. Often we overlook the patience, sacrifice, compromise, love, understanding, humility, strength, and so many other inputs that are needed to be a good husband and father.


These are the fruits of the dedication and hard work that go into family life that help us to develop into better and more universal human beings. Though certainly there is no magic formula for achieving a successful marriage and family life, selflessness, love, and service are a few key principles from the teachings of our tradition that, when applied, can have remarkable transformational qualities on our roles as husbands and fathers and subsequently, our families in general.



Giving without expectation of reward


One of the most important themes in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the notion of meeting the needs and fulfilling the rights of others without any expectation of reciprocity. It is well-known that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) actively participated in household duties such as sewing, cooking, serving his guests and cleaning. The modern world often teaches us to expect reward for our work, time and efforts. Even as Muslims, it often seems as though we take these same expectations into our home lives. It is common to hear about Muslim husbands and fathers demanding to be treated like kings in their homes with their wives and children expected to act like servants rather than loved ones.


This phenomenon, despite going against the spirit of love and service that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) brought to the world, has many negative effects on families. For one, the distant father syndrome prevents children from fulfilling their divine role as a source of love and inspiration to their parents. As is commonly understood from the famous Hadith that all children are born in a state of Islam. Our scholars have told us that the greater meaning of this Hadith is that children come into this world pure and it is only what they learn from their parents and societies ( i.e. the world) that turn them away from this pure state. This purity of heart means that they are essentially beacons of mercy and love, a reminder of the endless blessings of the All-Merciful.

However, the distant father, the one who would be king in his own home and God-knows-what outside of it, himself a product of rejection, is not open to this divine blessing sent in the form of his children. The child, in turn, learns rejection early on and internalizes it, eventually manifesting his frustration in a multitude of ways including acting out, rebelliousness, mental illness, oppression, or simply the inability to open up to others the feeling of separation that typically goes hand in hand with illnesses such as depression and severe anxiety.


All HalfDate Donations Over This Weekend Will Be Matched 7 Times!!





Friday, September 26, 2008

How to Seek Laylatul-Qadr

By Shaykh Muhammad Nasir-ud-Deen al-Albani

Adapted from "The Night Prayers: Qiyam & Tarawih from works by Muhammad Nasir ud-Deen al-Albani (and other scholars)"

Compiled by Muhammad al-Jibali


Laylat ul-Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is zealous to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience. If this is facilitated for him, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.


Praying Qiyaam


It is recommended to make a long Qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylat ul-Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many hadeeths, such as the following:


Abu Tharr (radhiallahu `anhu) relates:


"We fasted with Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) in Ramadaan. He did not lead us (in qiyaam) at all until there were seven (nights of Ramadaan) left. Then he stood with us (that night - in prayer) until one third of the night had passed. He did not pray with us on the sixth. On the fifth night, he prayed with us until half of the night had passed. So we said, 'Allah's Messenger! Wouldn't you pray with us the whole night?' He replied:


'Whoever stands in prayer with the imaam until he (the imaam) concludes the prayer, it is recorded for him that he prayed the whole night.'…" [Recorded by Ibn Abi Shaybah, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmithi (who authenticated it), an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, at-Tahawi (in Sharhu Ma`an il-Athar, Ibn Nasr, al-Faryabi, and al-Bayhaqi. Their isnad is authentic.]


[Point of benefit: Abu Dawud mentioned: "I heard Ahmad being asked, 'Do you like for a man to pray with the people or by himself during Ramadan?' He replied, 'Pray with the people' I also heard him say, 'I would prefer for one to pray (qiyaam) with the imaam and to pray witr with him as well, for the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "When a man prays with the imaam until he concludes, it is recorded that he prayed the rest of that night." [Masaa'il]


Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu `anhu) narrated that the Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said:


"Whoever stands (in qiyaam) in Laylat ul-Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah's reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim; the addition "and it is facilitated for him" is recorded by Ahmad from the report of `Ubaadah Bin as-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night.]


Making Supplications


It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. `A'ishah (radhiallahu `anha) reported that she asked Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), "O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?" And he instructed her to say:


"Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuh.ibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee - O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me." [Recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and at-Tirmithi. Verified to be authentic by Al-Albani]


Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship


It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylat ul-Qadr is likely to be. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah. `A'ishah (radhiallahu `anha) reported:


"When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) would tighten his izaar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer), and wake up his family." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


And she said:


"Allah's Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) used to exert more (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights." [Muslim]


The Excellence of Ramadan

Allah has enjoined observing Ramadan as a pillar of Islam, and performing in it night prayer (Qiyam, or Taraweeh) as supererogatory devotion for augmenting the rewards. Allah, the Exalted, revealed the first portion of the Qur'an in it. In it too the battle of Badr took place between the Muslims who were 300 and umpteen men, and the pagans who were about a 1000. The Muslims emerged victorious and killed seventy of the leaders of Quraish and captured another seventy as prisoners of war.The third occasion, Makkah was conquered by the Prophet (S) without fighting. He entered it victorious on Friday, the 20th of Ramadan in the year 8 of Hijrah.


RAMADAN - THE MONTH OF BLESSINGS


We are grateful to Allah for giving us the opportunity to enjoy another blessed month of Ramadan. It is indeed, the month of ibadah, divine bounty and blessing in which the reward of good deeds are multiplied greatly. Abu Hurairah, with whom Allah is pleased, reported that the Prophet, (s), said: "My Ummah is given five privileges in the month of Ramadan that no Ummah was given before:


* The khuloof of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter in the estimation of Allah than the fragrance of musk.


* The angels keep praying to Allah to forgive them (i.e. those who are fasting), until they break their fast.


* Allah decorates Jannah every day saying to it, 'My pious slaves are about to be relieved of their burdens and sufferings and enter you'.


* Satans are chained in this month, so that they are not able to accomplish their evil


* The believers' sins are forgiven by the last night of Ramadan.


Someone asked the Messenger of Allah (S): Is it the night of Lailatul-Qadr'? He said: 'no. But the laborer is usually paid upon finishing his task.'


THE EXCELLENCE OF FASTING


Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (s) said: ""He who observes the month of Ramadan believing (it is fardh) and expecting (the reward for fasting), Allah forgives his past sins."


The rebellious Satans, according to the authentic hadeeth, are chained, during the month of Ramadan, and the gates of Jannah are opened, and the gate of Hell-Fire is closed. In the month of Ramadan, a caller announces: "O you who intends to do good, come forward, and you who intends to do evil, relinquish your evil deeds. The real bereft is the one whose sins did not wash away in Ramadan.


Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, (s) said that Allah said: "All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him, except fasting, it is for Me, and I will reward for it. And fasting is a means of protection (against Hell-Fire and committing sins). When one of you happens to be fasting, let him avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling. If someone fights or quarrels with him, let him say, 'I am fasting.' By the One in Whose hand is my life, the odor of the mouth of the person who is fasting is sweeter in estimation of Allah than the odor of musk. The fasting person has two occasions in which he rejoices: When he break his fast, he rejoices, and when he meets his Rubb, he rejoices for having observed fast."


The Qur'an will intercede with Allah on the Day of Resurrection on behalf of the person who reads it and applies it, and so will fasting on behalf of the person who observes it. Abdullah bin Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah exalt his mention, said: "Fasting and Qur'an will intercede on behalf of the slave on the Day of resurrection. Fasting will say to Allah, 'My Rubb, I deprived him from eating and curtailed his desires, so permit me to intercede for him. And the Qur'a will say: 'I deprived him from his sleep, so permit me to intercede for him.' The Prophet, may Allah exalt his mention, said: 'Both will be given the permission to intercede on behalf of that that person."


Fasting is a pillar of Islam. It is obligatory which is known by necessity as an integral part of Islam. Whoever denies it as a pillar of Islam apostatizes, and should not be buried in a Muslim graveyard.


Once a trustworthy Muslim sights the new moon of Ramadan, it becomes incumbent on everyone to begin fasting. If the new moon of Ramadan was obscured, then the previous month of Sha'ban must be completed as thirty days, according to the instruction of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah exalt his mention.


Ramadhan - The Holy Month

The holy month of Ramadan unites all Muslims in fasting, feasting, worship and prayer. It is a time for contemplation, spirituality and brotherhood. It is also known and recognised as the month of the Qur'an Allah swt says:


“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” (Al-Baqarah 2:185)


"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)


May this Ramadan be one we benefit fully from and whereby we increase in emaan and taqwa, ameen.


May our acts of worship multiply abundantly ameen. May we increase in righteous actions, and do good deeds sincerely for Allah Alone, ameen.


May our character become beautified, may our hearts become connected upon this haqq and we fulfill each others rights with happiness, ameen.


May we be saved from the punishment of the fire, and enter Paradise, ameen. May Allah forgive us of our sins and have mercy on us all, ameen.


Please also remember to make Dua for all our Muslim brothers and sisters facing difficulty around the world. Iftaar time is the best time for your Duas to be accepted. Don't count how many different savouries & cakes are on the table, but count your blessings for all the favours Allah Ta'ala has given you and think how the destitute are struggling around the world tonight and every night.


Reaping the Benefits of Ramadan - By Ali Al-Timimi

In the month of Ramadan it is very important that we spent a few moments to understand some of the wisdoms and lessons that we can learn from this month of fasting. Unfortunately, many Muslims come in to this month and they are as a companion of the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Let it not be that the day that you fast and the day that you break fast be equal." Meaning, one's behaviour, attitude and outlook are the same whether one fasts or not, i.e. fasting has no effect upon that person. This is why we need to reflect on some of these lessons.


LESSON 1: Gaining Taqwa (piety)

God legislated fasting for gaining Taqwa, "O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed upon you as it has been prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa." (meaning of Surah Al Baqarah (2):183) Taqwa in this case means to make a shield between oneself and God's anger and Hellfire. So we should ask ourselves, when we break our fasts, 'Has this fasting day made us fear God more? Has it resulted that we want to protect ourselves from the hellfire or not?


LESSON 2: Drawing closer to God

This is achieved by reciting and reflecting on the Quran during night and day, attending the taraaweeh prayers, remembering God, sitting in circles of knowledge and, for those who can, making `umrah. Also for those who can, making I`tikaaf (seclusion) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, so as to leave all worldly pursuits and seclude oneself in a masjid just thinking of God, so as to bring oneself closer to God . When one sins, one feels distant from God. That is why one might find it hard to read the Quran and come to the masjid. However, the obedient worshipper feels closer to God and wants to worship God more, because he is not shy from his sins.


LESSON 3: Acquiring patience and strong will

God has mentioned patience more than seventy times in the Quran and has commanded patience in more than sixteen ways in His Book. So when one fasts, and gives up one's food and drink, and one's marital sexual relations for those hours, one learns restraint and patience. This Ummah needs man and women that are strong willed, who can stand upon the Sunnah and the Book of God and not waver in front of the enemies of God. We do not need emotional people, who just raise slogans and shout, but when the time comes to stand upon something firm, they cannot do so, they waver.


LESSON 4: Striving for Ihsaan (righteousness and sincerity) and staying away from riyaa' (showing off).

Ihsaan means to worship God as if one seeks Him, and even though one does not see Him, He sees all. Hasan al-Basree said, "By God, in the last twenty years, I have not said a word or taken something with my hand or refrained to take something with my hand or stepped forth or stepped back, except that I have thought before I have done any action, 'Does God love this action? Is God pleased with this action?' So when one is fasting, one should gain this quality of watching oneself and also staying away from riyaa' (showing off). That is why God said in a hadeeth qudsi, "Fasting is for Me and I reward it." (al-Bukhari) God singles out fasting from all other types of worship saying, "Fasting is for Me", because no one knows whether you are fasting or not, except God. For example, when one is praying or giving charity or making tawaaf, one can be seen by the people, so one might do the action seeking the praise of the people. Sufyaan ath-Thawree used to spend the nights and the days crying and the people used to ask him, "Why do you cry, is it due to the fear of God? He said, 'No.' They said, "Is it due to the fear of the Hellfire?" He said, 'No. It is not the fear of Hellfire that makes me cry, what makes me cry is that I have been worshipping God all these years and doing scholarly teaching, and I am not certain that my intentions are purely for God.'"


LESSON 5: Refinement of manners, especially those related to truthfulness and discharging trusts.

The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then God has no need that he should leave his food and drink." (al-Bukhari) What we learn from this, is that we must pay attention to the purification of our manners. The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "was sent to perfect good manners." (Malik) So we must check ourselves, are we following the behaviour of the Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him)? For example: Do we give salaam to those we don't know and those we do know? Do we follow the manners of Islam, by telling the truth and only telling the truth? Are we sincere? Are we merciful to the creation?


LESSON 6: Recognizing that one can change for the better

The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent." (Ibn Maajah) God provides many opportunities to repent to Him and seek His forgiveness. If one was disobedient they can become obedient.


LESSON 7: Being more charitable

Ibn `Abaas said, "The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) was the most charitable amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibreel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month." (al-Bukhari) The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, without nothing being reduced from the fasting person's reward." (at-Tirmidhi)


LESSON 8: Sensing the unity of the Muslims

The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, ".Those of you who will live after me will see many differences. Then you must cling to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided khaleefahs. Hold fast to it and stick to it." (Abu Dawood) In this month we sense that there is a possibility for unity, because we all fast together, we break fast together, we all worship God together, and we pray Salaatul-`Eid together. Therefore we sense that the unity of possible. It is possible for Muslims to be a single body, but this will only be achieved when obedience is only to God and His Messenger.


LESSON 9: Learning discipline

The Prophet (ma God send His blessing and peace upon him) made us adhere to discipline and strictness, strictness that does not lead to fanaticism or going outside the bounds that God has laid down. One cannot knowingly break the fast before the sunset, as this will not be accepted by God. Muslims should learn to be very strict in their lives, because they are people of an important message, which they mold their lives around.


LESSON 10: Teaching the young to worship God

It was the practice of the people of Madina that during the fast of `Aashooraa (which is now a recommended fast of one day) to get their children to fast with them. When the children would cry of hunger and thirst, their parents would distract their attention by giving them some sort of toy to play with. The children would break their fast with their parents. (as mentioned in al-Bukhaaree). So the young should be brought to the masjid and they should pray with their parents, so that they are able to get into the habit of becoming worshippers of God. If one does not encourage children to fast when they are young, they will find it very difficult to fast for thirty days at the age of puberty. This is why the Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "Command your children to pray at the age of seven and beat them at the age of ten (if they do not pray." (Haakim)


LESSON 11: Caring for one's health

Fasting has many medical benefits and it teaches Muslims to take care of their health and too build strong bodies. The Prophet (may God send His blessing and peace upon him) said, "A strong believer is better and is more beloved to God than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone." (Muslim)


The Power of Dua - By Khalid Baig

The du’a can change our life, our outlook, and our fate. It is the most potent weapon of a believer. Once Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) passed by a people who were suffering from some affliction. "Why don't they make du’a (prayer) to Allah for protection," he said. With all the suffering and disasters Muslims are facing in various parts of the world, the question can be directed to all of us today.


It is not that we have forgotten du’a completely; we refer to it regularly. But, our ideas and practice regarding du’a have become distorted. Often it is reduced to the level of a ritual. Generally it is considered when all our efforts have failed --- an act of last resort. It is belittled through actions and sometimes even with words. Is it any wonder that today mostly a mention of du’a is meant to indicate the hopelessness of a situation.


What a tragedy, for du’a is the most potent weapon of a believer. It can change fate, while no action of ours ever can. It is the essence of ibadah or worship. With it we can never fail; without it we can never succeed. In the proper scheme of things, du’a should be the first and the last resort of the believer, with all his plans and actions coming in between.


Du’a is conversation with Allah, out Creator, our Lord and Master, the All Knowing, the All Powerful. This act in itself is of extraordinary significance. It is the most uplifting, liberating, empowering, and transforming conversation a person can ever have. We turn to Him because we know that He alone can lift our sufferings and solve our problems. We feel relieved after describing our difficulties to our Creator. We feel empowered after having communicated with the Almighty. We sense His mercy all around us after talking to the Most Merciful. We get a new commitment to follow His path for that is the only path for success. We feel blessed with each such commitment.


In every difficulty our first action is du’a, as is our last. We ask Allah to show us the way to handle that difficulty; we seek His help in following the path He shows to us; we seek His aid in making our efforts successful. When we fall sick, we know that we cannot find the right doctor without His Will; that the best doctor may not be able to diagnose our condition without His Command; that the best treatment plan will not succeed without His Permission. We make du’a for all of these. We make du’a before we seek medical help, while we are receiving it and after it has been delivered. The same is true of all other difficulties we may encounter.


Du’a is the essence of ibadah. A person engaged in du’a affirms his belief in Tawheed (monotheism) and shuns belief in all false gods. With each du’a his belief in Allah grows. He beseeches Him, affirming his own powerlessness. A person seriously and sincerely engaged in du’a understands exactly the relationship between himself and the Creator and affirms it through his actions. That is the essence of worship! Additionally, such a person can never become arrogant or proud, a logical result of true worship.
Du’a is conversation with Allah … It is the most uplifting, liberating, empowering, and transforming conversation a person can ever have.


Du’a is our most potent weapon in all struggles of life as well as in jihad in the battlefield. During the battle of Badr, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) stood up all night in prayer seeking Allah's help in the battle between unequal armies that would follow the next day. In the decisive battles against the crusaders, Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi was busy day and night. His days were devoted to Jihad. His nights were spent making du’a, crying, seeking Allah's help. This has been the practice of all true mujahideen.


We should make it a point to make du’a for all things big and small. It is the beginning of wisdom to realize that big and small are arbitrary labels that are totally irrelevant in this context. Nothing is too big for Whom we are asking from; nothing is too small for the one who is asking. That is why we have been taught to ask Allah when we need something as small as shoelaces. We should ask as a beggar, as a destitute person, for that is what we in reality are in relationship to Allah. At the same time we should ask with great hope and conviction that we shall be granted our prayers. We should remember the Hadith: "There is nothing more dear to Allah than a servant making du’a to Him." On the other hand, a prayer lacking concentration and conviction is no prayer at all.


We should make du’a at all times, not only during times of distress. The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: "Whosoever desires that Allah answers his du’as in unfavorable and difficult conditions, he should make plentiful du’a in days of ease and comfort." Also he said: "The person who does not ask from Allah, Allah becomes angry with him."


We should ask for all of our needs: those related to this world as well as those related to the Hereafter. Those who only concentrate on the former are, in effect, announcing that they don't care for their life in the permanent abode. They should blame no body but themselves for the total ruin in that world that Qur'an assures us awaits them. Those who only concentrate on the later are also showing lack of balance, for we need Allah's help to lead a good life here as well.


We should make du’a not only for ourselves but also for our parents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children, relatives and friends, teachers and other benefactors, and destitute and struggling Muslims everywhere. We should pray for them for the good in this world as well as in the Hereafter. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: "The du’a of a Muslim for his brother (in Islam) in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial du’a for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Aameen. And may you also be blessed with the same.'" [Sahih Muslim]


In the dark ages that we are living in today, everyday brings fresh news about atrocities committed against our brothers and sisters in Palestine, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, and the list goes on. And what do we do? We can continue to just feel frustrated and depressed. We can petition the determined perpetrators or a fictional "International Community". We can just forget all this and move on to some other subject. Or we can stand up before Allah and pray for His help, who alone can help. The du’a can change our life, our outlook, and our fate. It is the most potent weapon. But it works only for those who try sincerely and seriously to use it.


Sadaqatul Fitr explained in detail

By Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips- Islamic Studies Vol. 1


1. MEANING


Zakaah al-Fitr is often referred to as Sadaqah al-Fitr. The word Fitr means the same as Iftaar, breaking a fast and it comes from the same root word as Futoor which means breakfast. Thus, Islamically, Zakaah al-Fitr is the name given to charity which is distributed at the end of the fast of Ramadaan.


2. CLASSIFICATION


Sadaqah al-Fitr is a duty which is Waajib on every Muslim, whether male or female, minor or adult as long as he/she has the means to do so.


The proof that this form of charity is compulsory can be found in the Sunnah whereby Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam) made Zakaah al-Fitr compulsory on every slave, freeman, male, female, young and old among the Muslims; one Saa` of dried dates or one Saa` of barely. [collected by Bukhaaree - Arabic/English, vol. 2, p. 339, no. 579]


The head of the household may pay the required amount for the other members. Abu Sa'eed al-Khudree said, "On behalf of our young and old, free men and slaves, we used to take out during Allaah's Messenger's (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) lifetime one Saa` of grain, cheese or raisins". [collected by Muslim - English transl. vol. 2, p. 469, no. 2155]


3. SIGNIFICANCE


The significant role played by Zakaah in the circulation of wealth within the Islamic society is also played by the Sadaqah al-Fitr. However, in the case of Sadaqah al-Fitr, each individual is required to calculate how much charity is due from himself and his dependents and go into the community in order to find those who deserve such charity. Thus, Sadaqah al-Fitr plays a very important role in the development of the bonds of community. The rich are obliged to come in direct contact with the poor, and the poor are put in contact with the extremely poor. This contact between the various levels of society helps to build real bonds of brotherhood and love within the Islamic community and trains those who have, to be generous to those who do not have.


4. PURPOSE


The main purpose of Zakaah al-Fitr is to provide those who fasted with the means of making up for their errors during the month of fasting. Zakaah al-Fitr also provides the poor with a means with which they can celebrate the festival of breaking the fast (`Eed al-Fitr) along with the rest of the Muslims.


Ibn Abbaas reported, "The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) made Zakaah al-Fitr compulsory so that those who fasted may be purified of their idle deeds and shameful talk (committed during Ramadaan) and so that the poor may be fed. Whoever gives it before Salaah will have it accepted as Zakaah, while he who gives it after the Salaah has given Sadaqah." [collected by Abu Dawood - Eng. transl. vol. 2, p. 421, no. 1605 - rated Saheeh by Shaikh Naser Al-Albanee]


Hence, the goal of Sadaqah al-Fitr is the spiritual development of the Believers. By making them give up some of their wealth, the believers are taught the higher moral characteristics of generosity, compassion (sympathy for the unfortunate), gratitude to God and the righteousness. But, since Islaam does not neglect man's material need, part of the goal of Zakaah al-Fitr is the economic well-being of the poorer members of society.


5. CONDITIONS


Zakaah al-Fitr is only Waajib for a particular period of time. If one misses the time period without a good reason, he has sinned and can not make it up. This form of charity becomes obligatory from sunset on the last day of fasting and remains obligatory until the beginning of Salaah al-'Eed' (i.e. shortly after sunrise on the following day). However, it can be paid prior to the above mentioned period, as many of the Sahaabah (companions of the Prophet(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) ) used to pay Sadaqah al-Fitr a couple days before the `Eed.


Naafi reported that the Prophet's companion Ibn `Umar used to give it to those who would accept it and the people used to give it a day or two before the `Eed. [collected by al-Bukhaaree - Arabic/English, Vol. 2, p.339, no. 579]


Ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) order that it (Zakaah al-Fitr) be given before people go to make the Salaah (al-'Eed).


And Ibn `Abbaas reported that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Whoever gives it before the Salaah will have it accepted as Zakaah, while he who gives it after the Salaah (will not, for it will only be considered as) ordinary charity. Therefore, one who forgets to pay this Zakaah al-Fitr on time should do so as soon as possible even though it will not be counted as Zakaah al-Fitr.


6. RATE


The amount of Zakaah is the same for everyone regardless of their different income brackets. The minimum amount is one Saa` (two handfuls ) of food, grain or dried fruit for each member of the family. This calculation is based on Ibn `Umar's report that the Prophet(sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) made Zakaah al-Fitr compulsory and payable by a Saa` of dried dates or a Saa` of barley.


The Sahaabee, Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree said, "In the Prophet (saw)'s time, we used to give it (Zakaah al-Fitr) as a Saa` of food, dried dates, barley, raisins or dried cheese". [collected by al-Bukhaaree - Arabic/English vol. 2, p. 340, no. 582]


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Zakat - Imam Al-Bayhaqi

The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith [Mukhtasar]


God Most High said: They were enjoined only to worship God, sincere in their faith in Him alone - and of upright religion - and to establish the Salat and the Zakat. Such is the upright religion, [98:5] and: Those who lay up treasures of gold and silver and spend them not in the way of God; give them the news of a painful punishment, on the Day when that [wealth] will be heated in hellfire, and their foreheads and their sides and their backs branded therewith: "This is the treasure which you laid up for yourselves! Taste, then, your hoarded treasure!" [9:34-35] and: Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising. [3:180]

Bukhari and Muslim relate on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (radiyallahu `anhu) that the Messenger of God (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) sent Mu`adh to the Yemen he told him, "You are going to a people who have a Scripture, so call them to testify that there is no deity but God, and that I am the Messenger of God. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed five Salats upon them in every day. If they respond to this, then teach them that God has imposed upon them a charity to be taken from the wealthy amongst them and given to their poor. If they respond to this, then beware of taking any more of their wealth! Beware also of the prayer of the oppressed, for there is no veil between such a prayer and God."


Bukhari relates on the authority of Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Whoever is given wealth by God and does not pay the Zakat due thereupon shall find that on the Day of Arising it is made to appear to him as a hairless snake with two black specks, which chains him, and then seizes him by his jaw and says, 'I am your wealth! I am your treasure!'" Then he recited the verse, 'Let not those who are miserly with what God has given them of His bounty think that this is good for them. Rather, it is bad for them. That which they withhold shall be hung around their necks on the Day of Arising.' [3:180]


Az-Zakat - Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah

"Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it." [Surah at-Tauba 103]


Of the five fundamentals of Islam, Zakat occupies the second position (after the shahada), the first being prayer. This word is derived from the verb ‘Zaka’, which means: ‘It (a plant) grew.’ The second derivative of this word carries the sense of purification, e.g., ‘Qad aflaha man zakkaha (he is indeed successful who purifies himself). Spending the wealth for the sake of Allah purifies the heart of man of the love of material wealth. The man who spends offers that as a humble gift before the Lord and thus affirms the truth that nothing is dearer to him in life than the love of Allah and that he is fully prepared to sacrifice everything for His sake. There is no burden of obligation on one who receives Zakat, but a sense of thankfulness and gratitude on the part of the giver, since has been enabled by the recipient to discharge his obligation that he owes to Allah and society. Zakat is paid on surplus of wealth that is left over after the passage of a year. It is thus a payment on the accumulated wealth. Leaving aside animals and agricultural yield, Zakat is paid at almost a uniform rate of 2 ½%.


The minimum standard of surplus wealth over which Zakat is charged is known as ‘Nisab’. It differs with different kinds of property, the most important being nearly 21 OZ in case of silver and 3 OZ in case of gold. The Nisab of cash is the same as that of gold and silver. Twenty percent of buried treasure, i.e. wealth that does not imply exertion of effort in collecting it; as for agricultural crops that require labour to gain, Zakat would be 10% and it is known as `Ushur (tenth). If the land is irrigated by artificial methods, one-twentieth part of the yield is to be paid as Zakat. Should the land producing the yield be in need on constant labour and catering, then the owner is bound to pay one-fortieth of the produce. There is no Zakat on less than five camels, but if the person pays it out of his own sweet will that would be a voluntary act of charity. Upon five camels the Zakat is one goat, provided they subsist upon pasture throughout the year, because Zakat is due only upon such camels as live on pasture and not upon those which are fed in the house with fodder. One goat is due upon any number of camels from five to nine, and two goats on any number from ten to fourteen. There on any number from fourteen to nineteen and four upon any number from twenty to twenty-four and upon any number of camels from twenty-five to thirty-five, the Zakat is a ‘Bint-al-Makhaz’, that is, a camel’s yearling colt.


No Zakat is due upon fewer than forty goats and upon forty goats that feed for the greater part of the year upon pasture, there is due, at the expiration of the year, Zakat of one goat. One goat is due on thirty cows. As for horses, no Zakat is due on them in the light of the Holy Prophet’s guidance.


The objects and persons on whom Zakat is to be spent are included in the following verse: "The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and for those employed in connection therewith, and for those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and for the (freeing of) slaves, and for those in debt, and for the cause of Allah, and for the wayfarer – an ordinance from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, Wise." [9:60]


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

When the Night equals a Thousand

By Muhammad ash-Shareef


It was narrated that in the days that Musa (Alahi salaam) wandered with Bani Israel in the desert an intense drought befell them. Together, they raised their hands towards the heavens praying for the blessed rain to come. Then, to the astonishment of Musa (Alahi salaam) and all those watching, the few scattered clouds that were in the sky vanished, the heat poured down, and the drought intensified.


It was revealed to Musa that there was a sinner amongst the tribe of Bani Israel whom had disobeyed Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) for more than forty years of his life. “Let him separate himself from the congregation,” Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) told Musa (Alahi salaam). “Only then shall I shower you all with rain.”


Musa (Alahi salaam) then called out to the throngs of humanity, “There is a person amongst us who has disobeyed Allah for forty years. Let him separate himself from the congregation and only then shall we be rescued from the drought.” That man, waited, looking left and right, hoping that someone else would step forward, but no one did. Sweat poured forth from his brow and he knew that he was the one.


The man knew that if he stayed amongst the congregation all would die of thirst and that if he stepped forward he would be humiliated for all eternity.


He raised his hands with a sincerity he had never known before, with a humility he had never tasted, and as tears poured down on both cheeks he said: “O Allah, have mercy on me! O Allah, hide my sins! O Allah, forgive me!”


As Musa (Alahi salaam) and the people of Bani Israel awaited for the sinner to step forward, the clouds hugged the sky and the rain poured. Musa (Alahi salaam) asked Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), “O Allah, you blessed us with rain even though the sinner did not come forward.” And Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) replied, “O Musa, it is for the repentance of that very person that I blessed all of Bani Israel with water.”


Musa (Alahi salaam), wanting to know who this blessed man was, asked, “Show him to me O Allah!” Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) replied, “O Musa, I hid his sins for forty years, do you think that after his repentance I shall expose him?”


Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed the Qur’an in the most blessed month; the month of Ramadan, the month in which the Qur’an was sent down.


On the most blessed night, the Grand night: Laylatul Qadr; “Verily, we revealed the Qur’an on the night of Qadr.”


Ibn Jareer narrates, on the authority of Mujaahid that there was a man from Bani Israel who used to spend the night in prayer. Then in the morning he would fight the enemy in the Way of Allah during the day, until the evening and he did this for a thousand months.


And so Allah revealed the Surah: “Verily, We sent it down in the night of Al-Qadr” until the verse “The night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” That is, standing in prayer on that night is better than the actions of that man.


Sufyaan ath-Thawree reports, on the authority of Mujaahid (also), that the night of Al-Qadr being better than a thousand months means that the good deeds performed on it, fasting on it, and standing in prayer on it are better than a thousand months’ good deeds, prayers and fasting. (Narrated by Ibn Jareer)


It is reported from Abu Hurairah that he said: “When the month of Ramadan came, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah has made it obligatory for you to fast; in it the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained. In it is a night better than a thousand months, whoever loses the benefit of it has lost something irreplaceable.’” (Narrated by Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaa'i).


It is reported on the authority of Abu Hurairah, that Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever stood in prayer on the night of Al-Qadr, in faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, he will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).


This one night surpasses the value of 30,000 nights. The sincere believer who worries day and night about his sins and phases of neglect in his life patiently awaits the onset of Ramadan. During it he hopes to be forgiven by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) for past sins, knowing that the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) promised that all who bear down during the last ten days shall have all their sins forgiven. To achieve this, the believer remembers the Prophet’s (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) advice in different sayings wherein he used words like “seek”, “pursue”, “search” and “look hard” for Laylatul Qadr.


Laylatul Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. The Mu’min should search for it in the last ten nights of Ramadan, passing the nights in worship and obedience.


For those who catch the opportunity, their gift is that of past sins wiped away.


The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) illustrated for us some of the things we should be doing on this Grand Night. From his blessed Sunnah we find the following:


Praying Qiyaam (night prayer):


It is recommended to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many ahadeeth, such as “Whoever stands (in qiyaam) in Laylatul Qadr [and it is facilitated for him] out of faith and expectation (of Allah’s reward), will have all of his previous sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim; the addition “and it is facilitated for him” is recorded by Ahmad from the report of ‘Ubaadah Bin as-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night.]


Making Supplications:


It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. ‘A'ishah reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylatul Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say:


“Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee - O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.” [An authentic Hadith recorded by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and at-Tirmidhi.]


Abandoning Worldly Pleasures for the Sake of Worship:


It is further recommended to spend more time in worship during the nights on which Laylatul Qadr is likely to fall. This calls for abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worshipping Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala).


‘A'ishah reported: “When the (last) ten started, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would tighten his izaar (i.e. he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship), spend the whole night awake (in prayer) and wake up his family.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]


And she said: “Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) used to exert more (in worship) on the last ten than on other nights.” [Muslim]


Have we estimated Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) correctly?


The opportunity of Laylatul Qadr is coming in the next few days. Life is about people that take advantage of their opportunities to win the love of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), and this is indeed one of those chances.


Abu Dah Daah was one of those who found an opportunity and won that which is greater than the heavens and the earth. An adult companion of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) cultivated his garden next to the property of an orphan. The orphan claimed that a specific palm tree was on his property and thus belonged to him. The companion rejected the claim and off to the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) went the orphan boy to complain. With his justness, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) measured the two gardens and found that the palm tree did indeed belong to the companion. The orphan erupted crying. Seeing this, the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) offered the companion, “would you give him the palm tree and to you is a palm tree in Jannah?” However, the companion in his disbelief that an orphan would complain to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) missed the opportunity and went away angry.


But someone else saw the opportunity, Abu Dah Daah - radi Allahu ‘anhu. He went to the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and asked, “Ya Rasul Allah, if I buy the tree from him and give it to the orphan shall I have that tree in Jannah?” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) replied, “Yes.”


Abu Dah Daah chased after the companion and asked, “Would you sell that tree to me for my entire garden?” The companion answered, “Take it for there is no good in a tree that I was complained to the Prophet about.”


Immediately, Abu Dah Daah went home and found his wife and children playing in the garden. “Leave the garden!” shouted Abu Dah Daah, “we’ve sold it to Allah! We’ve sold it to Allah!” Some of his children had dates in their hand and he snached the dates from them and threw them back into the garden. “We’ve sold it to Allah!”


When Abu Dah Daah was later martyred in the battle of Uhud, Rasul Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) stood over his slain body and remarked, “How many shady palm trees does Abu Dah Daah now have in paradise?”


What did Abu Dah Daah lose? Dates? Bushes? Dirt? What did he gain? He gained a Jannah whose expanse is the heavens and the earth.


Abu Dah Daah did not miss his opportunity, and I pray to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) that we do not miss our opportunity of standing to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) on Laylatul Qadr.


Dear brothers and sisters, we do not obey, worship and revere Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in a way befitting of His Majesty.


Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) revealed: “No just estimate have they made of Allah, such as is due to Him. On the Day of Resurrection the whole of the earth will be but His handful, and the heavens will be rolled up in His right hand: Glory to Him! High is He above the partners they attribute to Him” (Surat al-An’aam, Ayat 91).


Everything that we have belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). When someone dies we say, Inna lillaahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon, Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we shall return. This is not a supplication just for when a soul is lost. It is a supplication for every calamity that befalls a believer, even if his sandal were to tear. Why? Because everything belongs to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and everything shall come back to him. Sit and try to count the blessings Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has bestowed upon you. Have you ever tried to count stars?


“And He giveth you of all that ye ask for. But if ye count the favors of Allah, never will ye be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude” (Surat Ibrahim, Ayat 34).


We have not understood the weight of this Qur’an that we rest on our high shelves, this Noble book that was sent to give life to the dead. For even if our hearts were as solid as rock they would have crumbled to the ground in fear and hope of Allah’s (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) punishment and Mercy. Could it be that our hearts are harder than that mountain?


“Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and split asunder in fear of Allah (Surat al-Hashr, Ayat 21).


Dear brothers and sisters, as you fill the Masajid for Qiyamul Layl in the last ten nights of Ramadan, remember what Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) wants you to know:


“Know ye that Allah is strict in punishment and that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”


There shall be a night, some night in your life that you shall awaken in Jannah or Hell fire. Anas ibn Malik, on his deathbed, prayed to Allah, (Subhanahu wa ta’ala), “O Allah, protect from a night whose morning brings a journey to hell fire.” Think about that morning.


Peace shall descend on Laylatul Qadr until the dawn. It may be that you shall leave the Masjid after Fajr one day soon forgiven by Allah, Glorious and Most High.