Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hajj - The Journey of a Lifetime (part 2 of 2): The Rites of Abraham

Just after sunset, the mass of pilgrims proceeds to Muzdalifah, an open plain about halfway between Arafat and Mina. There they first pray and then collect a fixed number of chickpea-sized pebbles to use on the following days.

Before daybreak on the third day, pilgrims move en masse from Muzdalifah to Mina. There they cast at white pillars the pebbles they have previously collected, a practice associated with the Prophet Abraham.

As pilgrims throw seven pebbles at each of these pillars, they remember the story of Satan’s attempt to persuade Abraham to disregard God’s command to sacrifice his son.
Throwing the pebbles is symbolic of humans’ attempt to cast away evil and vice, not once but seven times - the number seven symbolizing infinity.
Following the casting of the pebbles, most pilgrims sacrifice a goat, sheep or some other animal. They give the meat to the poor after, in some cases, keeping a small portion for themselves.
This rite is associated with Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s wish. It symbolizes the Muslim’s willingness to part with what is precious to him, and reminds us of the spirit of Islam, in which submission to God’s will plays a leading role. This act also reminds the pilgrim to share worldly goods with those who are less fortunate, and serves as an offer of thanksgiving to God.

As the pilgrims have, at this stage, finished a major part of the hajj, they are now allowed to shed their ihram and put on everyday clothes. On this day Muslims around the world share the happiness the pilgrims feel and join them by performing identical, individual sacrifices in a worldwide celebration of ‘Eid al-Adha, “the Festival of Sacrifice.” Men either shave their heads or clip their hair, and women cut off a symbolic lock, to mark their partial deconsecration. This is done as a symbol of humility. All proscriptions, save the one of conjugal relations, are now lifted.
Still so journing in Mina, pilgrims visit Mecca to perform another essential rite of the hajj: the tawaf, the seven-fold circling of the Kaaba, with a prayer recited during each circuit. Their circumambulation of the Kaaba, the symbol of God’s oneness, implies that all human activity must have God at its center. It also symbolizes the unity of God and man.
Thomas Abercrombie, a convert to Islam and a writer and photographer for National Geographic Magazine, performed the hajj in the 1970’s and described the sense of unity and harmony pilgrims feel during the circling:
“Seven times we circled the shrine repeating the ritual devotions in Arabic: ‘Lord God, from such a distant land I have come unto Thee.... Grant me shelter under Thy throne.’ Caught up in the whirling scene, lifted by the poetry of the prayers, we orbited God’s house in accord with the atoms, in harmony with the planets.”
While making their circuits pilgrims may kiss or touch the Black Stone. This oval stone, first mounted in a silver frame late in the seventh century, has a special place in the hearts of Muslims as, according to some hadeeth, it is the sole remnant of the original structure built by Abraham and Ishmael. But perhaps the single most important reason for kissing the stone is that the Prophet did so.
No devotional significance whatsoever is attached to the stone, for it is not, nor has ever been, an object of worship. The second caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, made this crystal clear when, on kissing the stone himself in emulation of the Prophet, he proclaimed:
“I know that you are but a stone, incapable of doing good or harm. Had I not seen the Messenger of God kiss you - may God’s blessing and peace be upon him - I would not kiss you.”
After completing the tawaf, pilgrims pray, preferably at the Station of Abraham, the site where Abraham stood while he built the Kaaba. Then they drink of the water of Zamzam.
Another, and sometimes final, rite is the sa’y, or “exerting.” This is a reenactment of a memorable episode in the life of Hagar, who was taken into what the Quran calls the “uncultivable valley” of Mecca, with her infant son Ishmael, to settle there.
The sa’y commemorates Hagar’s frantic search for water to quench Ishmael’s thirst. She ran back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, al-Safa and al-Marwah, until she found the sacred water known as Zamzam. This water, which sprang forth miraculously under Ishmael’s tiny feet, is springs from the same well from which pilgrims drink today
These rites performed, the pilgrims are completely deconsecrated: They may resume all normal activities. They now return to Mina, where they stay up to the 12th or 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. There they throw their remaining pebbles at each of the pillars in the manner practiced or approved by the Prophet. They then take leave of the friends they have made during the Hajj. Before leaving Mecca, however, pilgrims make a final tawaf round the Kaaba to bid farewell to the Holy City.
Usually pilgrims either precede or follow the hajj, “the greater pilgrimage,” with the umrah, “the lesser pilgrimage,” which is sanctioned by the Quran and was performed by the Prophet. The umrah, unlike the hajj, takes place only in Mecca itself and can be performed at any time of the year. The ihram, talbiyah and the restrictions required by the state of consecration are equally essential in the umrah, which also shares three other rituals with the hajj: the tawaf, sa’y and shaving or clipping the hair. The observance of the umrah by pilgrims and visitors symbolizes veneration for the unique sanctity of Mecca.
Before or after going to Mecca, pilgrims also avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the hajj or the umrah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, the second holiest city in Islam. Here, the Prophet lies buried in a simple grave. The visit to Medina is not obligatory, as it is not part of the hajj or umrah, but the city - which welcomed Muhammad when he migrated there from Mecca - is rich in moving memories and historical sites that are evocative of him as a Prophet and statesman.
In this city, loved by Muslims for centuries, people still feel the effect of the Prophet’s life. Muhammad Asad, an Austrian Jew who converted to Islam in 1926 and made five pilgrimages between 1927 and 1932, comments on this aspect of the city:
“Even after thirteen centuries [the Prophet’s] spiritual presence is almost as alive here as it was then. It was only because of him that the scattered group of villages once called Yathrib became a city and has been loved by all Muslims down to this day as no city anywhere else in the world has ever been loved. It has not even a name of its own: for more than thirteen hundred years it has been called Madinat an-Nabi, ‘the City of the Prophet.’ For more than thirteen hundred years, so much love has converged here that all shapes and movements have acquired a kind of family resemblance, and all differences of appearance find a tonal transition into a common harmony.”
As pilgrims of diverse races and tongues return to their homes, they carry with them cherished memories of Abraham, Ishmael, Hagar, and Muhammad. They will always remember that universal concourse, where poor and rich, black and white, young and old, met on equal footing.
They return with a sense of awe and serenity: awe for their experience at Arafat, when they felt closest to God as they stood on the site where the Prophet delivered his sermon during his first and last pilgrimage; serenity for having shed their sins on that plain, and being thus relieved of such a heavy burden. They also return with a better understanding of the conditions of their brothers in Islam. Thus is born a spirit of caring for others and an understanding of their own rich heritage that will last throughout their lives.
The pilgrims go back radiant with hope and joy, for they have fulfilled God’s ancient injunction to humankind to undertake the pilgrimage. Above all, they return with a prayer on their lips: May it please God, they pray, to find their hajj acceptable, and may what the Prophet said be true of their own individual journey:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hajj - The Journey of a Lifetime (part 1 of 2): The Day of Arafah and its Preparation

The hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, a central duty of Islam whose origins date back to the Prophet Abraham, brings together Muslims of all races and tongues for one of life’s most moving spiritual experiences.

For 14 centuries, countless millions of Muslims, men and women from the four corners of the earth, have made the pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam. In carrying out this obligation, they fulfill one of the five “pillars” of Islam, or central religious duties of the believer.
Muslims trace the recorded origins of the divinely prescribed pilgrimage to the Prophet Abraham. According to the Quran, it was Abraham who, together with Ishmael built the Kabah, “the House of God”, the direction toward which Muslims turn in their worship five times each day. It was Abraham, too who established the rituals of the hajj, which recall events or practices in his life and that of Hagar and their son Ishmael.

In the chapter entitled “The Pilgrimage”, the Quran speaks of the divine command to perform the hajj and prophesies the permanence of this institution:
“And when We assigned for Abraham the place of the House, saying ‘Do not associate Anything with Me, and purify My House for those who go around it and for those who stand and bow and prostrate themselves in worship. And proclaim the Pilgrimage among humankind: They will come to you on foot and on every camel made lean By traveling deep, distant ravines.’” (Quran 22:26-27)

By the time the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, received the divine call, however, pagan practices had come to muddy some of the original observances of the hajj. The Prophet, as ordained by God, continued the Abrahamic hajj after restoring its rituals to their original purity.
Furthermore, Muhammad himself instructed the believers in the rituals of the hajj. He did this in two ways: by his own practice, or by approving the practices of his Companions. This added some complexity to the rituals, but also provided increased flexibility in carrying them out, much to the benefit of pilgrims ever since. It is lawful, for instance, to have some variation in the order in which the several rites are carried out, because the Prophet himself is recorded as having approved such actions. Thus, the rites of the hajj are elaborate, numerous and varied; aspects of some of them are highlighted below.

The hajj to Mecca is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation upon male and female adults whose health and means permit it, or, in the words of the Quran, upon “those who can make their way there.” It is not an obligation on children, though some children do accompany their parents on this journey.
Before setting out, a pilgrim should redress all wrongs, pay all debts, plan to have enough funds for his own journey and for the maintenance of his family while he is away, and prepare himself for good conduct throughout the hajj.

When pilgrims undertake the hajj journey, they follow in the footsteps of millions before them. Nowadays hundreds of thousands of believers from over 70 nations arrive in the Mecca by road, sea and air every year, completing a journey now much shorter and in some ways less arduous than it often was in the past.
Till the 19th century, traveling the long distance to Mecca usually meant being part of a caravan. There were three main caravans: the Egyptian one, which formed in Cairo; the Iraqi one, which set out from Baghdad; and the Syrian, which, after 1453, started at Istanbul, gathered pilgrims along the way, and proceeded to Mecca from Damascus.
As the hajj journey took months if all went well, pilgrims carried with them the provisions they needed to sustain them on their trip. The caravans were elaborately supplied with amenities and security if the persons traveling were rich, but the poor often ran out of provisions and had to interrupt their journey in order to work, save up their earnings, and then go on their way. This resulted in long journeys which, in some cases, spanned ten years or more. Travel in earlier days was filled with adventure. The roads were often unsafe due to bandit raids. The terrain the pilgrims passed through was also dangerous, and natural hazards and diseases often claimed many lives along the way. Thus, the successful return of pilgrims to their families was the occasion of joyous celebration and thanksgiving for their safe arrival.
Lured by the mystique of Mecca and Medina, many Westerners have visited these two holy cities, on which the pilgrims converge, since the 15th century. Some of them disguised themselves as Muslims; others, who had genuinely converted, came to fulfill their duty. But all seem to have been moved by their experience, and many recorded their impressions of the journey and the rituals of the hajj in fascinating accounts. Many hajj travelogues exist, written in languages as diverse as the pilgrims themselves.

The pilgrimage takes place each year between the 8th and the 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Its first rite is the donning of the ihram.
The ihram, worn by men, is a white seamless garment made up of two pieces of cloth or toweling; one covers the body from waist down past the knees, and the other is thrown over the shoulder. This garb was worn by both Abraham and Muhammad. Women dress as they usually do. Men’s heads must be uncovered; both men and women may use an umbrella.

The ihram is a symbol of purity and of the renunciation of evil and mundane matters. It also indicates the equality of all people in the eyes of God. When the pilgrim wears his white apparel, he or she enters into a state of purity that prohibits quarreling, committing violence to man or animal and having conjugal relations. Once he puts on his hajj clothes the pilgrim cannot shave, cut his nails or wear any jewelry, and he will keep his unsown garment on till he completes the pilgrimage.
A pilgrim who is already in Mecca starts his hajj from the moment he puts on the ihram. Some pilgrims coming from a distance may have entered Mecca earlier with their ihram on and may still be wearing it. The donning of the ihram is accompanied by the primary invocation of the hajj, the talbiyah:
“Here I am, O God, at Thy Command! Here I am at Thy Command! Thou art without associate; Here I am at Thy Command! Thine are praise and grace and dominion! Thou art without associate.”
The thunderous, melodious chants of the talbiyah ring out not only in Mecca but also at other nearby sacred locations connected with the hajj.
On the first day of the hajj, pilgrims sweep out of Mecca toward Mina, a small uninhabited village east of the city. As their throngs spread through Mina, the pilgrims generally spend their time meditating and praying, as the Prophet did on his pilgrimage.

During the second day, the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, pilgrims leave Mina for the plain of Arafat where they rest. This is the central rite of the hajj. As they congregate there, the pilgrims’ stance and gathering reminds them of the Day of Judgment. Some of them gather at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet delivered his unforgettable Farewell Sermon, enunciating far-reaching religious, economic, social and political reforms. These are emotionally charged hours, which the pilgrims spend in worship and supplication. Many shed tears as they ask God to forgive them. On this sacred spot, they reach the culmination of their religious lives as they feel the presence and closeness of a merciful God.
The first Englishwoman to perform the hajj, Lady Evelyn Cobbold, described in 1934 the feelings pilgrims experience at Arafat.
“It would require a master pen to describe the scene, poignant in its intensity, of that great concourse of humanity of which I was one small unit, completely lost to their surroundings in a fervor of religious enthusiasm. Many of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their cheeks; others raised their faces to the starlit sky that had witnessed this drama so often in the past centuries. The shining eyes, the passionate appeals, the pitiful hands outstretched in prayer moved me in a way that nothing had ever done before, and I felt caught up in a strong wave of spiritual exaltation. I was one with the rest of the pilgrims in a sublime act of complete surrender to the Supreme Will which is Islam.”
She goes on to describe the closeness pilgrims feel to the Prophet while standing in Arafat:
“ I stand beside the granite pillar, I feel I am on Sacred ground. I see with my mind’s eye the Prophet delivering that last address, over thirteen hundred years ago, to the weeping multitudes. I visualize the many preachers who have spoken to countless millions who have assembled on the vast plain below; for this is the culminating scene of the Great Pilgrimage.”
The Prophet is reported to have asked God to pardon the sins of pilgrims who gathered at Arafat, and was granted his wish. Thus, the hopeful pilgrims prepare to leave this plain joyfully, feeling reborn without sin and intending to turn over a new leaf.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What After Ramadan?


AlHamdulillahi wa kafaa, was-Salatu was-salamu `alaa `ibaadihi-lladheena Stafaa Amma baad:

We leave the blessed month of Ramadan, its beautiful days and its fragrant nights. We leave the month of the Qur'an, taqwa, patience, jihad, mercy, forgiveness and freedom from hellfire…

Have we fulfilled the requirements of taqwa and graduated from the Ramadan school with the diploma of the god-fearing?

Have we fought our souls and desires and defeated them, or have we been overtaken by our customs and blind imitations?

Have we performed our actions in a way that fulfills the conditions for receiving mercy, forgiveness and release from the Fire?

Many questions and numerous thoughts come to the heart of the sincere Muslim, who asks and answers with truthfulness.

- What Have We Gained From Ramadan?

Ramadan is a school of imaan and a 'stop to recharge one's spiritual batteries'- to acquire one's provision for the rest of the year...

For when will one take a lesson and change for better if not in the month of Ramadan?

The noble month is a true school of transformation in which we change our actions, habits and manners that are in variance with the Law of Allah 'azza wa jall.

{Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves} [Al-Rad 13:11].

If you are from those who benefited from Ramadan, fulfilled the requirements of taqwa, truly fasted the month, prayed in it with truthfulness, and strove against your soul, then praise and thank Allah, and ask Him for steadfastness upon it until you meet your death.

Be not like one who has sewn a shirt and then destroyed it... Have you seen one who sewed a shirt or thaub, so when she looked at it, she liked it. Then she destroyed it pulling a thread by thread for no reason. What would people say about such a person?!

Or have you seen one who earns a fortune trading throughout the day, then when the night comes, he throws away all that he earned, dirham by dirham. What would people say about such a person?!

This is the condition of one who returns to sinning and evildoing after Ramadan and leaves obedience and righteous actions. So after he was favored with the blessing of obedience and enjoyment of communicating with Allah he returned to the blaze of sins and evil actions. How evil are the people who know Allah only in Ramadan!

My dear ones,
Falling short in one's commitment to Islam after Ramadan is manifested in many ways, including:

1- Men leaving the five prayers in congregation, after they filled mosques for Taraweeh prayers, thus going to the Masjid for recommended prayers and leaving obligatory ones.

2- Return to musical entertainment, forbidden films, women displaying their adornment beyond that which ordinarily appears thereof, free mixing etc.

This is not thankfulness for blessings and favors, nor is it the sign of acceptance of one's actions, rather this is opposition to favors and absence of thankfulness.

These are from signs of one's deeds not being accepted – and Allah's refuge is sought – for one who truly fasts rejoices on the occasion of `Eid, praises his Lord for helping him complete the fast, and remains fearful that Allah may not accept his fasting, just as the Salaf would continue asking for acceptance of their actions in Ramadan for six months after it.

From signs that one's deeds are accepted is that he or she has improved in his or her obedience to Allah `azza wa jall.

{And remember when your Lord proclaimed, 'If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]…} [Ibrahim 14:7].

Increase you in good, faith and righteous actions. So if the servant is truly thankful to his Lord, you will see him guided to more obedience and distanced from sinfulness. Thankfulness is leaving sins, as the early Muslims said.

{And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty [i.e. death] } [Al-Hijr 15:99].

The Muslim must continuously be in the state of obedience of Allah, firm upon His Shari'ah, steadfast upon His Deen, so that he or she is not of those who worship Allah only during one month or only in one place. Rather, the believer knows that the Lord of Ramadan is also the Lord of other months, and that He is the Lord of all times and places, so he is steadfast upon the Shari'ah of Allah until he meets Him while He is pleased with him. Allah `azza wa jall said:

{So remain on a right course as you have been commanded, [you] and those who have turned back with you [to Allah]} [Fussilat 11:112] And,

{So take a straight course to Him and seek His forgiveness} [Fussilat 41:6].

And the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said: «Say 'I believe in Allah', then be steadfast» [muslim].

- If the fasting in Ramadan has ended, then there remains voluntary fasting, such as fasting six days in Shawwal, on Mondays and Thursdays, the three days in the middle of the month, the days of `Aashoora and `Arafat, and others.

- If standing in prayer at night during Ramadan has ended, then there remains voluntary night prayer throughout the year

{They used to sleep but little of the night} [Adh-Dhariyat 51:17].

- If the charity in Ramadan and Zakat ul-fitr have ended, then there is the obligatory Zakat, and also there are many other open doors to charity, voluntary actions and jihad.

- Reading of the Qur'an and contemplating it is not only for Ramadan, rather it is for all times.

Righteous actions are for all times and all places, so strive – O my brothers and sisters – and beware of laziness. And remember that it is not allowed for us to leave the obligatory actions or delay them, such as the five daily prayers on time, in congregation.. etc.

And do not fall into forbidden actions, such as forbidden sayings, food and drinks, or by looking at or listening to what is forbidden.

Be steadfast and upright upon the Deen of Allah at all times, for you do not know when you'll meet the Angel of Death. Beware of him taking you while you are in a state of sin.

"O Allah, Who turns the hearts, keep our hearts steadfast upon Your Deen"

I ask Allah to accept from us and you our fasting, our prayers and other righteous actions, that our condition after Ramadan be a better one, that the state of our Ummah improves, that we are granted honour and that we truly turn to our Lord…Ameen.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Welcoming the Arrival of Ramadan

The month of Ramadan has arrived, the month of fasting and prayer. It is the month that provides an opportunity for forgiveness from Allah and emancipation from our sins. It is the month for performing good deeds and giving in charity. It is the month when the gates of the heavens are opened and the rewards for our deeds are magnified many times over. It is the month wherein prayers are answered and the status of the worshipper is elevated. It is the month wherein sins are forgiven.

The month of Ramadan has arrived again, the month of fasting and prayer. It is the month that provides an opportunity for forgiveness from Allah and emancipation from our sins. It is the month for performing good deeds and giving in charity. It is the month when the gates of the heavens are opened and the rewards for our deeds are magnified many times over. It is the month wherein prayers are answered and the status of the worshipper is elevated. It is the month wherein sins are forgiven.

Allah bestows so many blessings upon his servants in the month of Ramadan. This is the month of fasting that is one of the five pillars of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) fasted during this month and directed his followers to do the same. He told us that whoever fasts this month with faith, seeking Allah’s reward, will have all of his past sins forgiven. He likewise informed us that whoever stands in prayer throughout this month will have all of his past sins forgiven.

The month of Ramadan contains within it a night that is superior to a thousand months. Whoever is denied the goodness of that night is indeed deprived.

We should welcome this month and embrace it with happiness and joy. We should have the truest resolve to observe the fasts and the prayers and to compete in doing righteous deeds. During this month, we should ardently repent for all of our sins and encourage each other to engage in virtuous deeds and call to what is right and forbid what is wrong. In this way, we will succeed in attaining the blessings and the great rewards of Ramadan.

The fast provides us with many benefits and is full of wisdom. It purifies and strengthens our hearts. It rids us of our baser tendencies like exuberance, arrogance, and stinginess. It reinforces our good traits like fortitude, clemency, and generosity. It supports us in our inner struggle to please Allah and attain nearness to Him.

Fasting teaches us about ourselves and our needs. It shows us how weak we are and how truly dependent we are upon our Lord. It shows us how much Allah has blessed us. We are reminded of our brethren those who are less fortunate and are inspired to treat them well. We are compelled to thank Allah and to use the blessings He has provided us in obedience to Him.

Allah draws attention to these many benefits when he says: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those who were before you that you may learn self-restraint.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 183]

In this verse, Allah makes it clear that he prescribed fasting in order to purify us. Fasting is a means for us to learn self-restraint and cultivate our piety. Piety is to observe the commandments and prohibitions of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) sincerely out of our love and reverence for Allah, and to avoid His punishment and anger.

Fasting is a great act of piety in itself and a great means of increasing our piety in all aspects of our religious and worldly lives.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) pointed out one of the benefits of fasting when he said: “O young people, whoever among you has the wherewithal to marry should do so, because it assists us in lowering our gazes and safeguarding our private parts. Whoever cannot do so should fast, because fasting diminishes sexual power.”

The reason that fasting has this effect is because Satan flows like blood through our veins. Fasting constrains this flow while and acts as a reminder of Allah and His greatness, thereby reducing Satan’s influence over the fasting person while at the same time his faith strengthening. He naturally starts engaging in more acts of obedience and fewer acts of sin.

There are many other benefits of fasting that we can discover with a little thought and reflection. Fasting is good for bodily health. It gives the body a chance to purify itself of accumulated poisons, a fact which has been confirmed by numerous doctors.

The sacred texts speak quite extensively about the virtues of fasting in the month of Ramadan and about it being a duty upon the believers. Allah says: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those who were before you that you may learn self-restraint. Fasting for a fixed number of days… The month of Ramadan in which the Qur’ân was revealed, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and the criterion. So whoever witnesses the month should fast it. And whoever is sick or upon a journey should fast the same number of days (later on). Allah wishes ease for you and he does not wish hardship upon you. He wants that you should complete the period and that you should exalt Allah for that to which he has guided you that perhaps you may be thankful.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 183-185]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Islam is built upon five things: testifying that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing prayer, paying Zakâh, fasting the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to the House. [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

When the angel Gabriel asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about Islam, he replied: “Islam is to bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to pay charity, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if you are able to make the journey.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]

Gabriel then said: “You have spoken the truth.” Then he said: “Tell me about faith.”

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) replied: “It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and divine decree, both the good and bad of it.”

He said: “You have spoken the truth. Tell me about excellence in faith.”

Allah’s Messenger replied: “It is to worship Allah as though you see Him, and though you do not see Him, you know that He sees you.”

He said: “You have spoken the truth. [Sahîh Muslim]

This hadîth is of considerable importance and deserves serious thought and consideration.

Once Mu`âdh b. Jabal said to the Prophet (peace be upon him): “Tell me about some deed that will admit me into Paradise and distance me from the Hellfire.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “You have asked about something great, yet it is very simple for one for whom Allah makes it easy. Worship Allah and do not associate anything with him in worship. Establish prater, pay Zakâh, fast the month of Ramadan, and undertake the pilgrimage to the House if you are able to do so.” Then the Prophet (peace be upon him added: “Should I not inform you about the gates of goodness? Fasting is Paradise. Charity extinguishes sins like water extinguishes fire.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]

Fasting is a most virtuous act with a reward commensurate with its greatness. This is especially true in Ramadan, since Allah has made fasting therein an obligation upon the believers and a means of their attaining salvation.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every deed of the human being is for himself and its reward is multiplied for him from ten to seven hundred times. Allah says: ‘Except for fasting, for truly it is for Me and I alone will reward it, for verily he abandoned his desires, his food, and his drink for my sake.’ The one who fasts experiences two joys, one upon breaking his fast and one when he meets his Lord. Surely the breath of the fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Ramadan commences, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are bound in chains.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him said: “On the first night of Ramadan, the devils and rebellious jinn are bound in chains, The gates of Paradise are opened until not a single gate remains closed. The gates of Hell are bound shut until not a single gate remains open. Then a caller calls out: ‘O desirer of good, go forth! O desirer of evil, restrain yourself! Allah is emancipating people from the Fire every night’.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhî]

On the eve of Ramadan, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a sermon and said: “O people! A great and blessed month is coming upon you, a month containing a night better than a thousand months. Allah has made fasting in its days an obligation and observing prayer in its nights a voluntary act. Anyone who seeks nearness to Allah in theis month through any virtuous act will be like one who carried out a religious obligation at another time, and anyone who performs an obligatory act of worship in this month will be like one who performed seventy such acts at another time. It is the month of patience, and the reward for patience is Paradise.” [Sahîh Ibn Khuzaymah]

We must seize the opportunity presented to us in this blessed month and appreciate the greatness of this time by engaging in all the worship that we can. We must hasten to perform good deeds. Allah has made this month a time for worship and for competing with one another in righteousness. We must increase our prayer and our spending in charity. We must busy ourselves with reading the Qur’ân. We must hasten to help the poor, the needy, and the orphans. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people and he was even more generous in Ramadan. We must follow the good example of our Prophet (peace be upon him) by redoubling our efforts in this month.

We need to safeguard the blessings of our fasts from our sins and our shortcomings. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does not leave off false speech and false conduct, Allah has no need of his leaving off food and drink.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When any one of you is observing the fast for the day, he should neither indulge in obscene language nor raise his voice. If someone insults him or quarrels with him, he should say: ‘I am fasting’.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

We must beseech Allah for forgiveness in this month and do all that we can to take advantage of this precious time. We must avoid committing any offence against the fast that will diminish its blessings and invoke Allah’s anger. Therefore, we must not be negligent of our prayers or stingy with our Zakâh. We must not consume interest or the property of the orphans. We must not steal, oppress anyone, or disrespect our parents. We must not spurn our kinfolk. We must avoid backbiting, slander, lies, and falsehood. We must eschew false oaths and claims. We must not shave or trim our beards or leave our moustaches to grow. We must not listen to song and musical instruments. Women must not make a wanton display of themselves and men should not mix with them. These sins are forbidden throughout the year, but in Ramadan they are even more forbidden and more sinful.

We must fear Allah and avoid what Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have prohibited us. We must be upright in our obedience in Ramadan and throughout the rest of the year. We should call one another to this and by doing so attain the success and salvation that this month promises us.

Sheikh `Abd al-`Azîz b. Bâz

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Muslims Contribution To Science

Lost of Christians left Christianity & the reason was clearly : It contradicts science ! What about Muslims ? Here you can read a brief information about Muslims & Science in the past ..

  • Astronomy :

Muslims have always had a special interest in astronomy. The moon and the sun are of vital importance in the daily life of every Muslim. By the moon, Muslims determine the beginning and the end of the months in their lunar calendar. By the sun the Muslims calculate the times for prayer and fasting. It is also by means of astronomy that Muslims can determine the precise direction of the Qiblah, to face the Ka'bah in Makkah, during prayer. The most precise solar calendar, superior to the Julian, is the Jilali, devised under the supervision of Umar Khayyam. The Qur'an contains many references to astronomy.

"The heavens and the earth were ordered rightly, and were made subservient to man, including the sun, the moon, the stars, and day and night. Every heavenly body moves in an orbit assigned to it by God and never digresses, making the universe an orderly cosmos whose life and existence, diminution and expansion, are totally determined by the Creator." [Qur'an 30:22]

These references, and the injunctions to learn, inspired the early Muslim scholars to study the heavens. They integrated the earlier works of the Indians, Persians and Greeks into a new synthesis. Ptolemy's Almagest (the title as we know it is Arabic) was translated, studied and criticized. Many new stars were discovered, as we see in their Arabic names - Algol, Deneb, Betelgeuse, Rigel, Aldebaran. Astronomical tables were compiled, among them the Toledan tables, which were used by Copernicus, Tycho Brahe and Kepler. Also compiled were almanacs - another Arabic term. Other terms from Arabic are zenith, nadir, albedo, azimuth.

Muslim astronomers were the first to establish observatories, like the one built at Mugharah by Hulagu, the son of Genghis Khan, in Persia, and they invented instruments such as the quadrant and astrolabe, which led to advances not only in astronomy but in oceanic navigation, contributing to the European age of exploration.

  • Geography:

Muslim scholars paid great attention to geography. In fact, the Muslims' great concern for geography originated with their religion. The Qur'an encourages people to travel throughout the earth to see God's signs and patterns everywhere. Islam also requires each Muslim to have at least enough knowledge of geography to know the direction of the Qiblah (the position of the Ka'bah in Makkah) in order to pray five times a day. Muslims were also used to taking long journeys to conduct trade as well as to make the Hajj and spread their religion. The far-flung Islamic empire enabled scholar-explorers to compile large amounts of geographical and climatic information from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Among the most famous names in the field of geography, even in the West, are Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Batuta, renowned for their written accounts of their extensive explorations. In 1166, Al-Idrisi, the well-known Muslim scholar who served the Sicilian court, produced very accurate maps, including a world map with all the continents and their mountains, rivers and famous cities. Al-Muqdishi was the first geographer to produce accurate maps in color. It was, moreover, with the help of Muslim navigators and their inventions that Magellan was able to traverse the Cape of Good Hope, and Da Gama and Columbus had Muslim navigators on board their ships.

  • Humanity:

Seeking knowledge is obligatory in Islam for every Muslim, man and woman. The main sources of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunnah (Prophet Muhammad's traditions), encourage Muslims to seek knowledge and be scholars, since this is the best way for people to know Allah (God), to appreciate His wondrous creations and be thankful for them. Muslims were therefore eager to seek knowledge, both religious and secular, and within a few years of Muhammad's mission, a great civilization sprang up and flourished. The outcome is shown in the spread of Islamic universities; Al-Zaytunah in Tunis, and Al-Azhar in Cairo go back more than 1,000 years and are the oldest existing universities in the world. Indeed, they were the models for the first European universities, such as Bologna, Heidelberg, and the Sorbonne. Even the familiar academic cap and gown originated at Al-Azhar University.

Muslims made great advances in many different fields, such as geography, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, pharmacology, architecture, linguistics and astronomy. Algebra and the Arabic numerals were introduced to the world by Muslim scholars. The astrolabe, the quadrant, and other navigational devices and maps were developed by Muslim scholars and played an important role in world progress, most notably in Europe's age of exploration.

Muslim scholars studied the ancient civilations from Greece and Rome to China and India. The works of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid and others were translated into Arabic. Muslim scholars and scientists then added their own creative ideas, discoveries and inventions, and finally transmitted this new knowledge to Europe, leading directly to the Renaissance. Many scientific and medical treatises, having been translated into Latin, were standard text and reference books as late as the 17th and 18th centuries.

  • Mathematics:

It is interesting to note that Islam so strongly urges mankind to study and explore the universe. For example, the Holy Qur'an states:

"We (Allah) will show you (mankind) Our signs/patterns in the horizons/universe and in yourselves until you are convinced that the revelation is the truth." [Qur'an, 14:53]

This invitation to explore and search made Muslims interested in astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, and the other sciences, and they had a very clear and firm understanding of the correspondences among geometry, mathematics, and astronomy.

The Muslims invented the symbol for zero (The word "cipher" comes from Arabic sifr), and they organized the numbers into the decimal system - base 10. Additionally, they invented the symbol to express an unknown quantity, i.e. variables like x.

The first great Muslim mathematician, Al-Khawarizmi, invented the subject of algebra (al-Jabr), which was further developed by others, most notably Umar Khayyam. Al-Khawarizmi's work, in Latin translation, brought the Arabic numerals along with the mathematics to Europe, through Spain. The word "algorithm" is derived from his name.

Muslim mathematicians excelled also in geometry, as can be seen in their graphic arts, and it was the great Al-Biruni (who excelled also in the fields of natural history, even geology and mineralogy) who established trigonometry as a distinct branch of mathematics. Other Muslim mathematicians made significant progress in number theory.

  • Medicine:

In Islam, the human body is a source of appreciation, as it is created by Almighty Allah (God). How it functions, how to keep it clean and safe, how to prevent diseases from attacking it or cure those diseases, have been important issues for Muslims.

Prophet Muhammad himself urged people to "take medicines for your diseases", as people at that time were reluctant to do so. He also said: "God created no illness, but established for it a cure, except for old age. When the antidote is applied, the patient will recover with the permission of God."

This was strong motivation to encourage Muslim scientists to explore, develop, and apply empirical laws. Much attention was given to medicine and public health care. The first hospital was built in Baghdad in 706 AC. The Muslims also used camel caravans as mobile hospitals, which moved from place to place.

Since the religion did not forbid it, Muslim scholars used human cadavers to study anatomy and physiology and to help their students understand how the body functions. This empirical study enabled surgery to develop very quickly.

Al-Razi, known in the West as Rhazes, the famous physician and scientist, (d. 932) was one of the greatest physicians in the world in the Middle Ages. He stressed empirical observation and clinical medicine and was unrivaled as a diagnostician. He also wrote a treatise on hygiene in hospitals. Khalaf Abul-Qasim Al-Zahrawi was a very famous surgeon in the eleventh century, known in Europe for his work, Concessio (Kitab al-Tasrif).

Ibn Sina (d. 1037), better known to the West as Avicenna, was perhaps the greatest physician until the modern era. His famous book, Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb, remained a standard textbook even in Europe, for over 700 years. Ibn Sina's work is still studied and built upon in the East.

Other significant contributions were made in pharmacology, such as Ibn Sina's Kitab al-Shifa' (Book of Healing), and in public health. Every major city in the Islamic world had a number of excellent hospitals, some of them teaching hospitals, and many of them were specialized for particular diseases, including mental and emotional. The Ottomans were particularly noted for their building of hospitals and for the high level of hygiene practiced in them.

· Definition:

The word ISLAM has a two-fold meaning: peace, and submission to God. This submission requires a fully conscious and willing effort to submit to the one Almighty God. One must consciously and conscientiously give oneself to the service of Allah. This means to act on what Allah enjoins all of us to do (in the Qur'an) and what His beloved Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) encouraged us to do in his Sunnah (his lifestyle and sayings personifying the Qur'an).

Once we humble ourselves, rid ourselves of our egoism and submit totally to Allah, and to Him exclusively, in faith and in action, we will surely feel peace in our hearts. Establishing peace in our hearts will bring about peace in our external conduct as well.

Islam is careful to remind us that it not a religion to be paid mere lip service; rather it is an all-encompassing way of life that must be practiced continuously for it to be Islam. The Muslim must practice the five pillars of the religion: the declaration of faith in the oneness of Allah and the prophet hood of Muhammad (pbuh), prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, alms-tax, and the pilgrimage to Makkah; and believe in the six articles of faith: belief in God, the Holy Books, the prophets, the angels, the Day of Judgment and God's decree, whether for good or ill.

There are other injunctions and commandments which concern virtually all facets of one's personal, family and civic life. These include such matters as diet, clothing, personal hygiene, interpersonal relations, business ethics, responsibilities towards parents, spouse and children, marriage, divorce and inheritance, civil and criminal law, fighting in defense of Islam, relations with non-Muslims, and so much more.

taken from islam way.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Muhammad's Banishing the Jews from Al-Madienah

But why did Muhammad (PBUH) banish the Jews from Madienah?? Is not this also a kind of Religious oppression.?

Nice you have said "banishing the Jews"! because this is what really happened. Muhammad(PBUH) banished the Jews from Madienah instead of applying the rules of the Quran or that of the Old Testament "Al Taurah" upon them ; he (PBUH) didn't kill them because of "treason" .Raising of this event is for the behalf of Muslims ,if this case was presented under the Man-Made laws that are applied in any country, then the judgment would have been severe, hard and also a shame: They would have been convicted with "high treason". And proofing conspiration with enemies against the country deserves the penalty of execution!.

Jews were a part of the Islamic society living in Madienah, where they used to live with Muslims as one family, the prophet (PBUH) gave them all rights of citizenship just the same given to every Muslim. He did not kick them out, or burned them, or seized their properties as the church's Popes or the European Kings did. Beside this, the Prophet (PBUH) held with them a protection and safety convention, in which both parties (Muslims & Jews) were obliged to protect each other in case any harm or danger menaced them.

But the Jews contacted secretly the enemies of the Prophet (PBUH) and provoked them to fight against him, and offered them all forms of support.

Here we get surprised by a very ridiculous and strange attitude, when we realize that the Jews denied their religion- that contains the idea of unification and orders to fight polytheism and paganism exactly like ISLAM- when the polytheists of Makkah asked them about the Religion of Muhammad (PBUH); they said that their religion (that of The polytheists) is better than that of Muhammad (PBUH)!!!
By this reply the Jews preferred to worship the statues than believing in ALLAH the UNIQUE the ONE!!!

This answer alone is enough to describe them as being betrayals and disbelievers!!
While the prophet (PBUH) was visiting them, their leaders thought and said :"you would never find the Prophet in such a condition - suitable for killing him; as being among a little number of men(his companions)- Isn't there a man among you to go on the roof of that house in order to throw a big stone on him?!"
An ugly intrigue that trampled on all ethical values. Where is the faith of keeping promises? Where is value of welcoming the guests? Where is respect for the neighborhood?
They wanted to make out of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) another Jesus. But the same way as Allah have protected Jesus from being crucified, HE protected HIS prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from being killed..

I'll here represent a comment said by a man that no one from the Jews doubt about his faith and trust. He is the Jewish professor " Israel Wilfinson", where in his book:" The Jews' History In the Arab World" ,page 123 he says: "The think that causes pain to any believer either he is a Jew or a Muslim is that conversation held between some Jews and the polytheists of Quraish, where those Jews preferred Quraish's religion on that of the leader of the ISLAMIC MESSAGE."
Then he says: " Normally wars allow nations to use all means of ruses, lies, tricks and misinforming to defeat the enemies, but those Jews had no right to get involved in such a raffish mistake, and never announce in front of Quraish's leaders that their religion "in worshipping status) is better than the ISLAMIC UNIFICATION. Because the Jews were holding the banner of MONOTHEISM in the world for centuries against polytheism in the name of their old fathers. In addition to that, they faced uncountable catastrophes like killing, kicking out, expropriations, torturing, and oppressing because of their faith in ONE GOD during different eras (ages) in history….their duty was to sacrifice their lives to desert the polytheists.

But Instead of that they took the side of the disbelievers and so they offended themselves before offending others, and showed themselves in a way that made even friends repulse from them…

Saturday, August 2, 2008

worship In Islam 7

The Hajj (Pilgrimage)

The Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It was the last of them to be revealed. It entails making a journey of faith from the Muslim’s own land to Allah’s Sacred House in Mecca during specific days to perform specific rites with the purpose of attaining nearness to Allah.

The Hajj evokes the memory of Abraham (peace be upon him). Allah had ordered him to build the Sacred House as a sign of His unity and as a place of worship.

Allah says:
Verily, the first house established for the people is in Mecca, blessed and a guidance for all the worlds. It contains clear signs and the place of Abraham. Whoever enters it finds sanctuary. And for Allah the people must make pilgrimage to the House, whoever among them is able to make the journey.
The pilgrims go into a reverent state known as ihrâm where they remove their normal clothing and don the pilgrim garb as a sign of the unity and equality that Abraham (peace be upon him) called to and represented. Allah says, relating the words of Abraham (peace be upon him):
Whoever follows me is from me, and whoever disobeys me, then You (O Allah) are forgiving and merciful.
The pilgrims pace between Mount Safâ and Mount Marwah in remembrance of the trial that Abraham’s wife Hajar had to undergo when he left her with their infant son in Mecca, trusting in Allah. Allah says, relating the supplication of Abraham (peace be upon him) at that difficult time:
Our Lord, verily I placed my progeny in a barren, uncultivated valley at Your Sacred House – O Lord – to establish prayer. So make the hearts of the people go out to them and provide them with fruits so perhaps they might be thankful.
The ritual of throwing stones at the jamarât (stone pillars) signifies when Abraham (peace be upon him) was tempted by Satan who tried to dissuade him from fulfilling Allah’s command to sacrifice his son. Abraham began to repel him with stones. For this reason, it has been prescribed for the pilgrims to throw stones at the jamarât.

Some benefits of the Hajj:

1. The Hajj emphasizes the Islamic characteristics of unity and equality of the Muslims while at the same time proclaiming the absolute unity of Allah.

2. The Hajj is a weighty spiritual and emotional event that remains a part of the believer for the rest of his or her life. The pilgrim will always remember that these experiences occurred in the places where the best of Creation had tread. Allah says:
It is the religion of our father Abraham. He has named you Muslims.
Allah says:
Who disdains the religion of Abraham except the most feebleminded?
3. The Hajj is a cultural journey, rich with experiences. These qualities are well known to those who have performed the Hajj with others from all over the world. Allah says:
And proclaim the pilgrimage to the people; they will come to you on foot, on every lean camel, and from every steep mountain pass.
This huge congregation of Muslims provides an excellent opportunity for them to exchange ideas and discuss their concerns. It can be both a religious and worldly exchange. Those who come for Hajj or follow its progress can benefit economically, socially, and politically. Allah says:
They shall witness benefits for themselves and they should remember the name of Allah in the well-known days.

taken from

Worship In Islam 6


Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. It entails abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset with the intention of attaining nearness to Allah. It is obligatory every day throughout the lunar month of Ramadân.

Fasting was a religious obligation for the followers of the religions before Islam, though its form may have been different. Allah says:
O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you that perhaps you might be God fearing.
Some benefits of fasting:

1. It develops willpower. In this way, it trains the Muslim to rise up to the challenges of life. It gives the individual the ability to control his or her desires. It teaches patience; because the fasting person must give up pleasures that he or she is normally accustomed to enjoying.

2. Fasting is a way of recognizing the blessings of Allah that surround the individual. Allah says:
If you try to count the blessings of Allah, you will never be able do so.
Most of the time, people forget these numerous blessings, never remembering them unless they are lost. Fasting provides a reminder of these blessings throughout the fasting person’s life.

3. Fasting reminds people of the suffering of those who are deprived, affording those who have means a glimpse of the hardships and hunger suffered by the poor. This makes the well off more likely to want to help the poor.

4. Fasting is healthy. It provides rest for the digestive system and cultivates the habit of eating less. It also provides the body relief from harmful habits the fasting person might have, like smoking, the use of stimulants, and possibly other forbidden things.

5. Fasting provides an opportunity for complete devotion to Allah. Fasting is a perfect example of total submission to Allah and fear of Allah alone. The reason for this is that a person’s fast is not witnessed by anyone except Allah himself. The person gives up all physical desires for the whole day exclusively to seek Allah’s pleasure. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) related to us that Allah said: “Every action of the descendants of Adam is for them except for fasting; it is for me and I will reward it.”
taken from

Friday, August 1, 2008

Worship In Islam 5


Zakâh is the third pillar of Islam. It consists of the payment of a specific portion of wealth whenever a person’s total savings reaches a specific level and is held for a specified period of time. This wealth is then distributed to a predetermined set of beneficiaries.

The previous scriptures recognized the essential meaning of the Zakâh tax, this being consideration for the poor by giving them a portion of wealth. Allah says:
And when We took the covenant of the Children of Israel: do not worship anyone except Allah and show respect to parents, near relatives, the orphans, and the poor, and speak righteousness to the people, and establish prayer, and pay the Zakâh.
The Messiah (peace be upon him) mentioned Zakâh when he was in the cradle. Allah relates his words:
And He enjoined prayer and Zakâh upon me as long as I live.
Islam encouraged spending in charity even before the institution of Zakâh was established. Allah says:
In their wealth is a clear right for the beggar and the destitute.
When the Islamic state was established in Madinah, Zakâh became one of the formal Islamic rites with a distinct system of its own based on the following principles:

1. It is an obligatory duty on the wealthy. It is not voluntary charity. Allah describes Zakâh as a duty from Him and commands His Messenger (peace be upon him), saying:
Take from their wealth charity.
2. It is taken from specific types of wealth, each type having a unique minimum limit, whereby no Zakâh is levied unless it is reached.

3. The amount of Zakâh levied is inversely proportionate to the effort needed to acquire the wealth. In the Zakâh on produce, for instance, rain-fed produce is taxed more heavily than produce that is cultivated with irrigation.

4. It is given to a specific set of beneficiaries that are mentioned in the Qur’ân. Allah says:
The charity is only for the poor, the destitute, the Zakâh collectors, to reconcile hearts to Islam, to free the slaves, people in debt, those in the path of Allah, and the wayfarer; an obligation from Allah, and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.
Zakâh is a manifestation of Islam’s concern for the human being. Allah says:
Truly, We have honored the descendants of Adam.
One of the ways in which this honor can be seen is Allah has taken into consideration those who are unable to provide for themselves. He has made society responsible for their needs through a number of injunctions in the Divine Law, among the most important of which is Zakâh. This concern is conditional. The needy person is expected to expend the maximum possible effort to provide for his or her self, so that any charity given will be of a supplementary nature. Thus, this charity might be to remedy a temporary misfortune, or it might be to provide for someone who is completely incapable of providing for his or her own needs.

Zakâh is an institution managed by the state. It is the responsibility of the political authority to collect the Zakâh, safeguard it, and distribute it to its rightful recipients who are mentioned in the Qur’anic verse. Allah commands His Messenger (peace be upon him) in the following way:
Take from their wealth charity to cleanse them and purify them.
In an Islamic state, the government must appoint the officials who are responsible to collect, safeguard, record, and distribute the Zakâh. The political authority must also set the salaries of these officials, which is also drawn from the Zakâh.

Some benefits of Zakâh:

Zakâh is a means of purification. It purifies the character of the wealthy individual from the stain of selfishness that, if left unchecked, can bring ruin to the social fabric by making society constricted and egotistical. It also purifies the wealth by taking from it the right of the poor. If this right were not taken from it, the wealth would become bereft of all blessings. Zakâh also purifies all the members of society, rich and poor, by removing the causes of social strife and discord.

Zakâh causes an increase of wealth:

1. It elevates the social standing of the wealthy by cultivating within the wealthy person a sense of tranquility and a kind heart, because doing good is one of the greatest reasons for contentment of the heart. It also develops the personality of the poor person by providing for him a sense of solidarity with others in society.

2. It increases wealth and allows it to be blessed. The apparent decrease in the wealth of the affluent is more than offset by the social stability and security that circulating this wealth provides for society.

3. Zakâh is an important means of providing social security.

Islam refuses to allow individual members of society to be denied the basic needs of life, like food, clothing, and shelter. It is necessary that these things are available to all members of society. Allah says:
In their wealth is a clear right for the beggar and the destitute.
4. It narrows the gap between the rich and the poor. People have a natural desire to possess things. Islam recognizes human nature and also recognizes that people will not possess things equally due to their different circumstances and abilities. Islam, however, puts regulations on the acquisition of wealth to keep the wealthy people from going to excess and to prevent the poor people from becoming ruined by their poverty or forced into deviant, destructive behavior on account of jealousy and hatred.

Zakâh is an important way of realizing this objective. Allah says:
What Allah has bestowed upon His Messenger from the people of the towns is for Allah, His Messenger, the kindred, the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer so that it may not merely circulate between the wealthy among you.
Zakâh provides a minimum limit for charitable spending. It is by far not the maximum. It is the absolute minimum that is required as a religious duty from those who possess wealth. Islam encourages everyone to give in charity as much as they can. Allah says:
You will never attain piety until you spend of what you love.

taken from

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Worship In Islam 4


Prayer is the second pillar upon which Islam rests, the first pillar being the testimony of faith. Islam stresses this act of worship and sternly warns against neglecting it. Prayer is the central pillar of faith. It is the key to Paradise and the first thing to be accounted for on the Day of Judgment. It is also the first of the religious obligations brought by the Prophets after faith in Allah. Allah says, addressing Moses (peace be upon him):
Verily I am Allah. There is no god but Me, so worship Me and establish prayer to celebrate My praises.
Allah relates to us the supplication of Abraham (peace be upon him) as follows:
My Lord, have me and my descendants establish prayer. My Lord, accept my supplication.
Likewise, Ishmael (peace be upon him) used to order his family to pray. Allah says:
He used to order his family to pray and pay Zakâh, and he was pleasing to his Lord.
The Messiah (peace be upon him) mentioned prayer when he was in the cradle. Allah relates to us his words:
And He enjoined prayer and Zakâh (alms) upon me as long as I live.
Some benefits of prayer:

1. It enriches the soul and fulfills its yearning to connect with its Lord. This gives the soul peace and contentment.

2. It purifies the heart from the effects of indolence and sin by providing a continuous opportunity for communication with Allah and for repentance. The Messenger (peace be upon him) indicated this when he said to his Companions: “Consider if one of you had a river by his door in which he bathed five times a day. Would any filth remain on him?” They responded in the negative. He said: “Likewise, Allah wipes away sins with the five daily prayers.”

This stresses the meaning of Allah’s words:
Verily prayer forbids licentiousness and wrongdoing. And the remembrance of Allah is the greatest thing.
3. It emphasizes the proximity between religion and daily life. Life, from an Islamic standpoint, is to be directed to Allah. Life is an opportunity for worship and the remembrance of Allah. Praying repeatedly throughout the day, interrupting the daily activities, brings about the realization of this concept. The believer, through prayer, acquires a spiritual awareness that he takes with him throughout all of life’s endeavors.

4. It teaches a Muslim punctuality. Prayer shows how important time actually is. Allah says:
Prayer is enjoined upon the believers at prescribed times.
5. It teaches the Muslim the virtues of constancy and perseverance. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The best of deeds with Allah are the ones performed most regularly, even if it is small.”

6. It cultivates brotherhood, equality, and humility between the Muslims.

taken from

Worship In Islam 3

The Rites of Worship in Islam

We shall now turn our attentions to the four principal acts of worship prescribed by Islam, which are prayer, Zakâh, fasting, and the Hajj pilgrimage. These four acts of worship – along with the testimony that there is no god besides Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah – are the five pillars that Islam rests upon. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Islam is built upon five things: testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing prayer, paying Zakâh, fasting during the month of Ramadân, and making pilgrimage to the House if one is able to do so.”

These four pillars are the minimum required acts of worship. Negligence in performing these acts of worship is considered a major sin and can lead to apostasy.

Muslims are encouraged to perform more than this in order to draw even nearer to Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) relates to us that Allah said: “My servant does not seek nearness to me with anything more beloved than what I have commanded him to do. My servant then continues to seek nearness to me with voluntary acts until I love him.”

These acts of worship are as old as they are new.

Acts of worship similar to these were prescribed in the religions that came before Islam. They were an integral part of those faiths. Allah says, referring to some of the Messengers (peace be upon them):

And We made them leaders that guided people by Our command. We inspired them to perform good deeds, establish prayer, and pay the Zakâh, and they were to us devout worshippers.

Allah says, after speaking about Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (peace be upon them all):

O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those who came before you that perhaps you might be God fearing.

Allah says regarding the Hajj:

And when We gave to Abraham the site of the house (saying): Do not associate with Me anything in worship, and sanctify My house for those who circle it, or stand up, bow, and prostrate in prayer. And proclaim the pilgrimage to the people; they will come to you on foot, on every lean camel, and from every steep mountain pass.

Necessarily, the exact forms taken by these acts of worship were different for the previous manifestations of the Sacred Law. The manner of prayer in Islam is different than it was for the Jews and Christians. The same can be said about alms, fasting, and pilgrimage.

These acts of worship, though they are pure acts of devotion that must be carried out no matter how restricted the worshipper’s understanding of them might be, have wisdom behind them. Knowing the wisdom behind them and the positive effects that they bring about can increase the worshipper’s resolve and zeal in performing them. This knowledge can increase the benefit realized by the worshipper as well.

taken from

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Worship In Islam 2

The Purpose of Worship

Worship provides the believers with many benefits that contribute to both their spiritual and worldly well-being. Some of the most significant of these benefits are as follows:

1. Enrichment and development of the soul:
The human body needs material resources for its existence, like food, drink, and a means of reproduction. As for the soul, its needs cannot be fulfilled except through nearness to Allah by means of faith and obedience, which can only be achieved through worship.

Allah must be worshipped in times of hardship and times of prosperity. Allah says:
We truly know how your heart is distressed by what they say. So celebrate the praises of your Lord and be of those who prostrate themselves and worship your Lord until the sure hour (of death).
Allah says:
When the help of Allah and the victory comes and you see the people entering into the religion of Allah in crowds, then glorify the praises of your Lord and seek His forgiveness. Verily He is Most Forgiving.
2. Realization of human freedom:
Worship liberates the human being from subjugation to anything besides Allah and prevents a person from surrendering his or her will to false gods. This is true freedom that brings about security and contentment. Submission to Allah is a great source of strength. Allah says:
If anyone seeks might, then all might is with Allah.
3. Preparation for the life to come:
Allah says, quoting Moses (peace be upon him):
O my people, this worldly life is but a provision, while the Hereafter is the eternal abode.
The worldly life is a time of trial. The substance of this trial is the worship of Allah in fulfillment of His commandments. Allah says:
(It is Allah) who created death and life to try you as to who is best in deeds.
4. Social reform:
We find that worship, in its most comprehensive meaning, embodies every possible means of individual and social reform. This is because every individual and collective endeavor can enter into the domain of worship. Islam has prescribed certain obligations on the societal – as opposed to the individual – level. This takes societal needs into consideration. Allah says:
Allah has promised those among you who believe and do righteous deeds that he will give them authority in the Earth as He has done for those who came before and that He will establish their religion that He wants to replace their fear with security. They may worship Me and not associate partners with Me.
The advent of Islam brought about great reforms in the domain of worship. Islam came at a time when there were many forms of worship in the world. Some of these were remnants of the previous divinely revealed scriptures. Others were completely man-made. Even those acts of worship that were of divine origin had been corrupted, altered, and removed from their proper contexts.

Some religions exaggerated the importance of formalism and mindless ritual. Others went to extremes to free themselves of all notions of form and order. Some religions went to extremes that made worship a harmful and painful thing. Some of them also demanded monasticism from their adherents. Other religions went to extremes in indulgence, often completely abandoning religious obligations altogether.

Islam came to correct and reform these excessive tendencies, while establishing principles of its own. It provided principles to bring about reform and to safeguard worship. The most important of these principles is that no one deserves to be worshipped except for Allah.

The first thing that Islam came with was the concept of monotheism. Bearing witness to monotheism is how a person enters into the fold of Islam and is considered to be a believer. The testimony is as follows:

There is no God but Allah. Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

These words are a testimony that there is no one worthy of worship except for Allah. In this way, Islam negates every possible manifestation of polytheism.

Allah addresses His Messenger (peace be upon him) with the following words:
It has been revealed to you and to those who came before you: If you commit polytheism, your deeds will be naught and you will be among the losers.
We can see how the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited anything that could lead the people to polytheism or to their falling into excessiveness in their belief. He made it clear that he was merely a slave of Allah and His Messenger. He said: “Do not praise me excessively the way that the Christians praised Jesus the son of Mary. I am only Allah’s slave and Messenger, so say that I am His slave and Messenger.”

He also said: “None should seek help through me. Help should be sought from Allah alone.”

Near the time of his death, he would repeatedly say: “Allah’s wrath became severe towards those people who turned the graves of their Prophets into places of worship.”

He also said: “Whoever takes an oath in other than Allah’s name has fallen into polytheism.”

He said: “Allah has cursed those who offer sacrifices to other than Allah.”

taken from

Monday, July 28, 2008

Worship in Islam 1


In Islam, worship is understood as any utterance or activity, whether manifest or hidden, that Allah loves and is pleased with. It also implies the greatest degree of love and submission on the part of the worshipper.

Every Prophet throughout history called his people to worship Allah alone.

Allah says:
And We sent no Messenger except that We revealed to him: There is no God besides Me, so worship Me.
The purpose of worship is to attain nearness to Allah with what He loves and is pleased with. It is necessary for this worship to be based on clear guidance and to be free from deviance. Therefore, an act of worship must fulfill two conditions:

1. It must conform to the dictates of Allah’s Law as found in the Qur’ân and Sunnah. Allah commands His Messenger (peace be upon him) with the following:
Say (O Muhammad): If you love Allah, then obey me. Then Allah will love you.
2. It must be performed purely for Allah’s sake. There should be no other object of worship involved whatsoever.

Allah commands his Messenger (peace be upon him) with the following:
- Say (O Muhammad): I worship Allah alone, sincerely, and with full devotion.
- Say (O Muhammad): Verily, my prayers, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are for Allah, the Lord of All the Worlds. No partner has He. With this I am commanded and I am the first to submit to His Will.

Comprehensiveness of Worship

The Islamic understanding of worship allows the whole of one’s life to be an act of worship, as long as the objective of that life is the pleasure of Allah, which is achieved by doing good and refraining from evil. A person can turn everyday activities into acts of worship by purifying his or her intention and sincerely seeking Allah’s pleasure through these activities. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
Greeting a person is charity. Acting justly is charity. Helping a man with his steed is charity. A good word is charity. Every step taken on the way to performing prayers is charity. Removing an obstacle from the road is charity.
Earning a living can be a form of worship The Companions saw a man and were astonished by his hard work and industry. They lamented: “If he were only doing this much work for the sake of Allah…”

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “If he is working to support his small children, then it is for the sake of Allah. If he is working to support his elderly parents, then it is for the sake of Allah. If he is working to occupy himself and keep his desires in check, then it is for the sake of Allah. If, on the other hand, he is doing so to show off and earn fame, then he is working for the sake of Satan.”

Even the most natural acts can become acts of worship if they are accompanied by the proper intention: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “When one of you approaches his wife, it is an act of charity.”

The same can be said for eating and drinking, as long as it is done out of fear of Allah and seeking to obey him.

In order for these otherwise mundane actions to be counted as acts of worship deserving of divine reward, the following conditions must be met:

A. The action must be accompanied by the proper intention. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Actions are but by intentions, and a person gets only what he intended.”

B. The action must be lawful in and of itself. If the action is something prohibited, its perpetrator deserves punishment. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Allah is good, and He accepts only what is good.”

C. The activity must be performed in the best possible manner. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Allah has prescribed excellence for all things.” He also said: “Allah loves that if one of you does something, he does it well.”

D. The dictates of Islamic Law must be completely observed. Deception, oppression, and iniquity must be avoided. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “He who deceives us is not one of us.”

E. The activity should not keep the person from performing his or her religious obligations. Allah says:
O you who believe, do not let your wealth and children distract you from the remembrance of Allah.

taken from