1429H A YEAR-LONG MEDITATION ON THE MUSLIM FAMILY
YOUR GUIDE TO AN ISLAMIC LIFE
VOLUME 20 IS SUE 09 RAMADHAN 1 4 2 9 H
THE WAY OF THE BELIEVER IN THE WORLD
ISLAM’S ETHIC OF ESSENTIAL
"God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship" [2:185]
by Ahmad Zaki Hammad
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US $3.50 CAN $4.00 UK £3.50 Saudi Arabia SR13
THE SUNNAH OF CELEBRATING THE DAY OF EID READYING CHILDREN FOR RAMADHAN THE RAMADHAN CONFESSIONS OF A SPIRITUAL WANNABE THERE GOES RAMADHAN SHARING RAMADHAN WITH YOUR COMMUNITY FATAWA: FASTING FOR INSULIN-DEPENDENT DIABETICS
COV E R S TORY
RAMADHAN 1429 H/SEPTEMBER 08
THE ETHIC OF ESSENTIAL EASE In Surat Al-Baqarah
In the Qur’an, we learn God alone has legislative prerogative, yet we also learn that He intends for us ease and facility and does not intend for us any type of difficulty. In a rather disturbing trend, many are quick to embrace the concept of ease, but only to then direct an accusatory finger towards the Shari’ah, as if to suggest the two concepts are mutually exclusive.This month’s feature article, however, places ease and difficulty in proper perspective and exonerates our Shari’ah from any accusation that would imply it to be inherently stifling and burdensome. Moreover, and most importantly, ease is examined within light of the Qur’an and the Prophet’s teachings, and our conclusions are likely to radically alter your outlook on life and religion.
by Ahmad Zaki Hammad
STRAIGHT TALK For some, coming to terms with the grim reality of poverty can radically alter our own perceptions of good fortune.
HEART TALK Hearts swinging between hope & fear.
CHARACTER Lost amidst our busy schedules is the simple act of gratitude.
What follows in this special issue is a spate of refreshing, invigorating, inspirational and informative articles on a host of Ramadhan topics.Whether you want to know how to perform a proper i’tikaf, are ambivalent over the number of rak’ahs Salat at-Taraweeh should have or spiritually desolate with seemingly no relief in sight, you can be assured that we’ve got it covered!
Vol. 20, No. 9
The White Nights of Ramadan By Maha Addasi
A Comprehensive Guide to Zakat: Charity in Islam By Omer Faruk Senturk
F A T A WA
Fasting For Insulin-Dependent Diabetics Breaking Fast for No Legitimate Excuse � When a Breastfeeding Mother Cannot Make up Missed Fasts Before the Advent of the Next Ramadhan � Deciding the Beginning and End of Ramadhan � When to Pay Zakatul-Fitr � Commencing Ramadhan Fast in One Country and Celebrating Eid in Another � What Foods Are Permitted as Zakatul-Fitr � �
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RAMADHAN 1429 H/SEPTEMBER 08
YOUTHFUL HORIZONS Food for thought: Children are more likely to reflect our own selves than they are to reflect our grandiose expectations of them.
LETTERS FROM THE BACKWOODS Learning to be content with what we have is perhaps the best antidote to avariciousness.
SCIENCE UPHOLDS FAITH Our bodily systems function flawlessly without any intervention on our part.
NUTRITION AND SPIRITUALITY Missing out on the morning suhoor meal is an act of bodily and spiritual malnourishment.
QUR’AN AND LIFE Allah is ever Respondent to the pleas of His servants.
MADARIJ-US-SALIKEEN Translation series of Ibnul Qayyim’s classic manual of Islamic Spirituality: Madarij-us-salikeen (Steps of the Seekers).
REFLECTIONS Being plunged into darkness can be an illuminating event.
Al-Jumuah Magazine Published by Al-Muntada Al-Islami Publisher & Editor Hassen A. Hassen Laidi firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Director Safwan M. Shoukfeh safwanS@aljumuah.com Managing Editor Moeed Z. Sufi email@example.com Contributing Editors Michelle Al-Nasr firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Aisha Hamdan email@example.com Marketing & Advertising Alper Bolat Tel: (608) 277-1855 Ext. 21 firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation Manager Yahya Clute email@example.com Art Director Mohammad Ashfaq Rahim firstname.lastname@example.org Advisory Board Dr. Haitham Bogis Dr. Abdulmohsen Al-Shaikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim Dr. Mansour Al-Mansour Dr. Alhussein Assiry Dr.Yousef Alyousef Fuad Al-Rasheed US Office:
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Mothers, fear not! Pure devotion in Ramadhan is in fact com patible with taking the utmost care of your young ones.
Al-Jumuah (ISSN 10923772) is published monthly for $30.00 per year by Al-Muntada Al-Islami, Inc. The publication date for this issue is September 1, 2008. Principal Office: 4718 Hammersley Rd., Madison WI 53711. Periodicals postage paid at Madison Wisconsin and additional offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Al-Jumuah P.O. Box 5387 Madison WI, 53705-5387. Copyright © 2008 Al-Muntada Al-Islami, Inc.All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior permission is prohibited. Al-Jumuah Magazine is not responsible for the accuracy of information provided by the advertisers. Readers are encouraged to verify such information directly with the advertisers. AlJumuah Magazine reserves the right to reject any advertisement.
PLAY AND LEARN
This magazine contains some of Allah’s names.Please do not throw in the trash. Either keep, circulate, shred or recycle.
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A practical guide to help introduce your children to Ramadhan and actuate a sense of spirituality.
Puzzle and matching list.
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
1429H A YEAR-LONG MEDITATION ON THE MUSLIM FAMILY
Why We Take It Hard with Ease EASE CAN BE a hard thing to understand. In the midst of Allah’s rulings on the fast of Ramadhan—a worship ritual that is arduous for most of us—suddenly He admonishes us with this: “God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” [2:185]. Most of us really don’t comprehend how this can be.Yusr, “ease,” seems, perhaps, too difficult a concept to think through.Thinking is hard, to begin with. It usually means reading a lot—through the Qur’an and the hadeeth, and what the insightful before us have said.That requires structuring all the knew knowledge we’ve gleaned—and then the hardest part of all: Attempting to systematically reflect on the sacred texts for themselves, and to critique the perceptions of others—to come to our own ideas. “Will they not, then, reflect on the Qur’an…” [4:82]. It just seems far easier not to have to work so hard for such understanding of ease, to relax your mind and leave it all behind. I mean, isn’t that a contradiction? Isn’t that the message modern life, and everything from philosophy to countless pop songs, send us today? Muslims even ask me:What’s the point of talking about yusr when life is so unbelievably hard for everyone? But wait. Let’s think about this for a minute.That’s not a long time to turn off the ambient sounds of life that we can’t ever seem to escape—in the car, at work, in the souk, at home; to tune in exclusively to our own souls—without the rush of thoughts about duties, desires, and debts crowding in on us; to come to a stillness in solitude to think by, to remember? So I ask you what I ask those who ask me about yusr in this non-stop hard life, what I ask myself these days, over and over. Why? Why is life so painfully, universally difficult for us—all of us—Muslims and non-Muslim, east and west, male and female, young and old, animal, vegetable, and mineral?Why is life so hard these days, if the Creator Himself, by His own divine words, intends for us ease? Call up the courage of an honest answer. Could it be that life is so catastrophically difficult for the earth and all its inhabitants
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today, for us as individuals, because we neither obey Allah much any longer, nor even seek to think about what He has asked us to do and why? Would life be easier or more difficult (for us and everybody around us) if we did lead a life that had piety instead of pride as its ultimate goal? Faith-communities before us confused faithfulness to the will of God with hardship.They eliminated all inconvenient worship, severed all compulsory good deeds, so as to reduce the consequence of belief to an airy feeling in the heart: Love. Did their lives grow easier? Did this ethic actually fill them and the world with love? Rather, the diametric reverse is true. In witness of the ensuing devastation, others proposed to push faith to the personal, banish the public soul, and lower life to the purely sensory level.This had only the affect of divesting the world of all vestiges of compassion and baptizing acquisitive materialism and the cult of the "self" as the natural religion of man, justifying all manner of unprecedented viciousness and exploitation of the vulnerable. Ease, in the primordial understanding of moral man, always meant one thing: Subduing selfishness because it is uncontainable in its “necessary” destruction of self and other, and in its crowding out the soul’s native nobility; namely, its full acceptance of the responsibility of the spiritual and worldly vicegerency—not to which it has “evolved”—but for which it was created— intentionally, by a single, eternal God, upon which all depends utterly. Ease, therefore, means executing our worshipful responsibilities in the most direct and simplest manner—that of the prophets—in order for us to be blessed and spiritually disciplined enough to forgo our own material interests for the benefit of the weak, the human community, and the fellowship of all creation of which we have temporal charge—and doing so purely for the purpose of seeking the Face of Allah, that is, His pleasure with us, so as to be ever close to Him in an inevitable and fast-coming Hereafter. It is for this reason, we learn in Surat AlInshirah (94) that although the revelation of
the Qur’an, and thus the commencement of the call of Islam, seemingly brought the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, from a state of ease in life to one of hardship, the reverse is actually true. For hardship in reality is when the human heart is constricted by its recognition of the evil, immorality, and injustice plaguing the people one loves and the world all around it; yet not knowing the truth by which to set things aright, and not comprehending how to train that heart by sure means which will make it grow big enough and loving enough to sacrifice mere things and immediate comforts—in order to free itself and the countless benumbed and desiccated human souls, which it well knows are its true brothers and sisters— from the back-breaking bondage of a hard and fast, hopelessly worldly life. Perhaps this is why Allah twice stresses that only “with hardship comes ease,” meaning that we must endure two types of difficulty to gain two kinds of ease: First, we must strive to deliver the message of truth—that God is One and the Light of the Heavens and the Earth—to a deeply benighted world that will either not understand us, or perceive our message as an end to the inequality that makes for the unfair advantage of the few; and second, that we ourselves must undergo the earthly privations in our strive to perform the ritual worship He has made obligatory on the believers, in order to prepare our hearts and souls to withstand the great pressures they must, if they are to uphold Allah’s message and Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and establish it in the world. This makes yusr, the ethic of ease in Islam, one of our religion’s great objectives (maqasid), for therein Allah has placed so much goodness and guidance for all—provided we Muslims bear up under the apparent hardship. Embrace, then, O Muslims, your month of striving in obedience! For herein lies all the world’s ease.
S T R A I G H T TA L K
For young adults about Faith & Life
Get Up, Khansa! B Y K H A N S A PA D R I
HANSA, GET UP!” my mother called for the third time. Suhoor was coming to a close and I was still asleep.That realization pierced the haze and I jumped out of bed, made tahajjud, and quickly forced some cereal down my throat. Instead of retreating back into bed, today I had business after fajr and had to dress and prepare to leave. By the crack of dawn I was already on my way up to Skid Row, the most poverty stricken street in downtown Los Angeles. After we were all set up with our tents of food, clothing, hygiene products, medical care, and other goods, I finally saw a stream of people coming our way. A child with only one leg dragged himself along. A woman in rags, with four tattered children around her, hurried toward the food. An elderly man hunched over and barely capable of walking slouched down the lane, helped by one of our boys. One by one, all day long, men and women of all ages and backgrounds made their walk down the line.We ourselves were fasting—Muslims in Ramadhan—but we served food and other essentials to people who needed it most, all for the sake of Allah. Unlike other communities, we chose not to extend our services and then preach to them about religion. Instead, we decided to give wholeheartedly, no strings attached, except to gain the pleasure of Allah. Some people smiled at me. Others gave me their blessings. Some stared
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out blankly. Others yelled and threatened. Most were grateful for the provision and services they received. My back ached. My throat dried up from talking to people without end.Yet my heart quenched itself and my soul grew with gratitude, for I knew none had any share in whatever I did that day but Allah. I sought His Face only in my service to others. Then amid the crowd I spotted a girl no more than the age of five, her skeleton shoulders protruding visible through a thin white, hole-riven shirt. Her dirt-covered legs bore the design of fresh cuts and bruises. Her bare feet were dust, and her hair fell in jetblack locks over a small lined face stained with tears. People taller and older than herself shoved and pushed her aside. But she never let go of the teddy bear she clutched close to her heart, as she tried to make her way through the crowd. At once, I was devastated. I walked over and gently pulled her aside toward myself. Sonia.That was her name. At least she thought it was, for no one called it out anymore. She had no memory of her parents, save for this bear that she held onto with her life. Sonia told me that she didn't worry about herself because she had faith in Allah and knew that He would take care of her. I gave her food. I gave her clothes.Then she gave me a smile and something else: “May God be with you,” she said, blessing me in a small clear voice. Never had I heard those words with such profound power.
And never since have I forgotten Sonia: Her shocking image, her angelic words, her song of a name and desolate plight on a cold Ramadhan day. Difficulty never besets me in life but I think back on Sonia and her unshakable faith in Allah.Then I remember the verses of the Gracious Qur’an: “Indeed, with hardship comes ease” [94:6]. Sonia’s strong conviction in Allah has made me realize that regardless of how tough times might get, we must all place our faith in Allah, for it is through His mention alone that we come to relief. Whose hand was the upper, whose heart dispensed gifts solely for the sake of Allah on that day, I cannot say. Was it mine, strong and able? Or Sonia’s, small and helpless? But this she gave me: A lesson that I am to appreciate and be grateful to Allah for all that He has given me, and to be content with Him in every moment of triumph and trial. Each time I find myself complaining about some insignificant lack or another, I remember Sonia, and what Allah says in the Qur’an: “And were you to [endeavor to] count the blessings of God, never could you enumerate them. Indeed, God alone is most surely All-Forgiving, Mercy-Giving” [16:18].Then my constrained heart becomes mindful like Sonia’s and grows calm. For “these are the ones who truly believe and whose hearts grow calm [with assurance] at the remembrance of God. For most assuredly, it is by the remembrance of God that hearts grow calm” [13:29].
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Your Magazine Occasioned my Epiphany! I am writing in response to “The Station of Ridha: ContentmentWith Allah” (Vol. 20, Issue 06).This article, Alhamdulillah, was exactly what I need at this particular point in my life. Contentment with Allah’s decree, rather than questioning and fighting it, is what I feel is needed for me to live a life of peace and serenity. After reading this article, I took some well needed time out to reflect over my own life and ponder over how much different a person I would have been had I only known that all we can do is worship Allah to the best of our abilities, accept His decrees, and strive to better our own selves. By the way, I just recently began reading this magazine and I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for opening up an avenue for me to further enjoy and understand my own religion. Thank you, Al-Jumuah Magazine! Titus Miller Marcy, NewYork
Contemplating Hijab I am a 12 year old girl, on the edge of being a muhajjabah. I have been looking for articles of inspiration and real-life experiences others have undergone. In “The First Time IWore Hijab” (Vol. 20, 08
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Issue 06) of Al-Jumuah Magazine, I found what I was looking for. I loved the article and showed it to my mom. She loved it as much as I did and said it inspired her, even though she’s been wearing a hijab for more than 20 years. Personally, I would love to read more articles about this topic and I would greatly appreciate it. Joumana Altallal Charlottesville,Virginia.
Do We Really Value Selflessness? The author of “In a SelflessWorld,” (Vol. 20, Issue 06) argues that, historically, selflessness is no foreign concept to Muslims and I certainly agree. However, in today’s world, it has lost its trueness, especially for the wealthy Muslim nations, rich businessmen, tycoons and politicians, as they consider themselves to be superior to the common man. Interestingly, selflessness is mostly found in the middle and poor classes, such as the article’s wonderful example of the poor man who donated a large percentage of his meager wealth in order to help save the life of a fellow Muslim. Islam is God’s best gift:We are supposed to live as one race, one nation, one large family that seeks to bring about universal change to the entire humanity. I hope and pray that all Muslim governments and leaders revert to the example of our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, if they truly want to assist the Ummah and help us stand on our own two feet.The following are some examples
of his that our leaders should follow: He prevented the distribution of charity to his progeny; he avoided giving any key post to his kith and kin during his time as head of the Islamic polity; he kept open to all Muslims the office of the head of state for all time after his death. Our leaders must understand that their role is about serving others, the Ummah, and not the pursuit of their own interests. Oh Allah, join our hearts as You have joined the hearts of the Prophet and his Companions in love of You and of Your deen, ameen! Syed N.A. Moulvi London, England
Taking Marriage Back I am a long-time reader of Al-Jumuah, and in each issue there is always something that touches me and makes me want to respond. In Volume 20, Issue 6, “Taking Marriage Back,” is the particular article that prompted me to write this letter. I want to echo the article’s disappointment on the ever-increasing divorce rate; we should always remain true to our hearts and souls because marriage is “half of the religion” and we Muslims should be strict when it comes to upholding that sacred bond. My wife and I, like any married couple, have our issues.With the grace and mercy of Allah, however, we remain together and will remain like that until our death—and God knows
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Mecca and Medina are the two sanctuaries of Islam, places which every Muslim dreams of visiting at least once in a lifetime. Mecca is believed to be the very first location of human settlement and it was the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.The Kaâ€™ba, found in Mecca, was raised by the Prophet Abraham from its foundations to become the direction of prayer for believers. Medina is the
city in which Islamic civilization was centralized and flourished religiously, politically, and socially. Publisher:The Light ISBN:9781597840613 Pages: 232 Book Type: Hardcover Size: 10 x 12 inch $80.00
Ramadhan, 1429 H September 08
*Starting & ending dates for Islamic months are only approximate.Actual sighting needed to ascertain exact starting date.
I N V I TAT I O N T O PA R T I C I PAT E
The Letters to the Editor Section wants to hear from you. Are you concerned about certain issues that are being talked about? Your opinions are important to us. Please address your correspondence to the Editor: Al-Jumuah Magazine P.O. Box 5387 Madison WI 53705. email: email@example.com or fax them to 608 277 0323. Letters are subject to editing for clarity and space.
best.What upsets me so much is how quick we are at giving up and giving in to whatever marital problems we encounter. Sometimes, a problem isn’t really that big of a deal and sometimes it may be a trial and test.The Qur’an tells us that we are going to be tested just like the people of faith before us were tested, so we should view our problems within that context and interpret it to be a part of Allah’s decree. It may be that He is testing us with our other half, but many of us fail to see this and take what looks to be the easy way out. It really disturbs me to see so many in our Ummah divorce only to remarry so soon after abandoning the previous marriage. Something so precious like marriage should not be taken lightly, yet that is precisely what so many of us do—men in particular. They figure they can marry a prettier wife or marry another woman that will make them happier, yet they forget to remember that we “may like a thing that is bad for us and may dislike a thing that is good for us.” My wife and I make our marriage work by focusing on our faith while reminding each other that whatever God puts together we should do our best not to break apart. In the West, we place so much emphasis on physical appearances and neglect the importance of what is inside. But we should remember that since husbands and wives are meant to dwell in tranquility, everything about our spouses, including the inside, matters. Their opinions matter, so do their feelings, viewpoints, goals and ambitions. My wife is my other half and we are to share everything a marriage brings. Although life can throw an occasional roadblock our way, we endure and keep our love strong. If we have comfort in knowing that Allah has placed us together for a higher purpose, everything inevitably works out in the end.
Sometimes my wife holds my hand as I stumble here and there, and at other times, it is my shoulder she leans on for support. Unfortunately, this can be hard for many Muslim men who do not like that their wives hold them accountable and expect them to maintain all of the obligations of Muslim husbands. Men marry for many reasons, but we mainly marry for the sake of saving our souls and enhancing our relationship with Allah. My challenge to the Muslim Ummah is to stick to the tenants of Islam and marry for the right reasons. If that happens, I sincerely believe we will stop this divorce epidemic that is plaguing our communities and ripping our families apart. Shaheed Khaliff Malik Al-Shabazz Bayport, Minnesota
Al-Jumuah-Setting a Good Example First of all, I would like to congratulate you publishing such a beautiful, highly informative as well as reformative magazine. I came into contact with your magazine just a few days back when a friend of mine sent me a gift pack of 60 issues from the USA. I couldn’t resist leaving one until I finished reading it.The main aspect which loved and observed in it was its pristine traditional Islamic color, which usually is rare to find in Western tracts or tomes. It gives me pleasure to let you know that we, at the Institute of Islamic Research, Darul Uloom Al-Ilahiyah, are also publishing a monthly called “Radiant Reality” from this part of the globe—Srinagar, Kashmir—and your magazine has already become a source of inspiration for those of us working to produce it. Sameem Husain. G.P.O. Srinagar, Kashmir, India.
Hearts Swinging Between Hope and Fear
The Fasting Paradox QUR’AN “(But as to) those who strive for Us (alone),We shall guide them upon Our pathways (to salvation). For, indeed, Allah, most surely, is with those who excel in (doing) good.” [29:69] HADEETH The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Read Qur’an (regularly) for it will act as an intercessor and entreat on behalf of its readers on the Day of Judgment.” (Muslim) NOTABLE QUOTES “Blessed be the slumber of the wise and their non-fast. How they outwit the worship and the fast of the foolish. A speck of worship by the pious outweighs a mountain of worship by the arrogant.” ––Abu Dardaa, Uwaymir ibn Malik “The essence of devotion in one’s heart is rooted in knowing his Lord, knowing His greatness, magnificence and perfection.The more knowledge one achieves of this the more devotion one will experience.” –Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali “Distances of This World are travelled by the body; distances for the World to Come are travelled by the heart.” –Anonymous “(A wholesome) Aql is necessary for salvation and a man’s religion is not perfected until his rationality is perfected.” –Al-Hasan Al-Basri
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BY AHMAD HALEEM
HEN WE THINK of fasting during the month of Ramadhan (or indeed whenever we choose to fast), we obviously think of, well, avoiding all consumption of food articles and fluids for a certain period of time. From the early hours of dawn to the grey twilight of dusk, we stay clear of our kitchens.The dinnerware stays clean, quietly awaiting use as soon as the sun sets (a hallmark blessing of Ramadhan for those who are responsible for kitchen duty, such as myself). Yet, despite our seemingly authentic comprehension of fasting, we often fail to recognize that we are, in fact, still eating, still consuming nutrition.Temporarily deprived of nourishment from liquids and food, our bodies—literally—switch into high gear.As food is gracefully and politely denied entrance by the person behind the body, the higher soul still receives sustenance, but now in greater amounts, in a ratio larger than the diminished earthly provision. Done right and with the right intent, the duration of the sacred month of Ramadhan becomes a spiritual feast for a person’s heavenly core, for the soul.With every good action, we are fed soul food. I do not mean the traditional food of the African Americans of the south, but the transcendent food of the angels in the sky, a different kind of nutrition, a vitamin packed with spiritual energy. In this one exclusive month, we are given the opportunity to supplement that thing inside of us that makes us who we are, that piece of cloud nine we so often neglect. Paradoxically, we are fasting yet consuming at the same time! So don’t look so glum and blah. There is a real reason as to why we don’t eat or drink, why we turn off the electronics, why we temporarily keep from intimate contact with our spouses, why we put an accent on all our salah and such. Its not just some randomly formed dogma, some manmade canon that dictates that we break away from the earth as we know it. No, indeed! Allah knows the psychology of
His creation infinitely well. In order to be healthy and fit, all our human faculties and elements need to be working smoothly, void of rust. For the month of Ramadhan, we endeavor to put our more earthly cravings and desires on the backburner, making room for the saucepans with some of that exquisite crème de la spirituality, some of that nice organic, nutritious, and all around nourishing food for the spirit. We are, my fellow humans, physical, spiritual, emotional and cerebral. Each of these mechanisms needs to function properly for us to remain fit and, well, spunky. Ladies and gentlemen, bothers and sisters, the blessed month that we now have the great privilege to take part in, the consecrated days of Ramadhan are designed to rehydrate, refuel, replenish (not with Gatorade) our inner essence, our spiritual environs.These are the days specially engineered to fulfill all that we missed in the last year, to recalibrate our sense of balance. These are the days of unchecked forgiveness and clemency and purity. For all the young men and women out there, for my Hero generation who have seen and done much that they wished they had not, this month is for you, for you to change your past, your present, and your future. For the men and women of my father’s and my mother’s age calibers who have seen changes, who have migrated from their pasts, changed their ways, this month is for you, for you to achieve all that you haven’t, to go beyond the title “bread-winner,” to have the angels write your best page yet, your best record, and at the pinnacle of your life. For the aged, the most seasoned individuals of our communities, this month is for you, for you to live another entire life in the space of a month, to better the heavy pasts you have endured. So go on, enjoy some of that traditional and transcendent soul food and remember that this here selected period of time that we call Ramadhan, this marvel of a month is designed to help us win the test—this life that we have all chosen to take.
“His character was the Qur’an.”
Thankfulness BY EMAAN KHAN
UGS, KISSES, FLOWERS and countless congratulations.
No I didn’t just get married. I just graduated! Walking up the stairs, I approached the sign, Go Bruins! and tears filled my eyes.This day had finally arrived. I walked down the aisle in my black cap and gown and smiled to myself and thought back to my childhood. As far as I can remember, I have always had this dream of graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and that Friday, my dream came true.While Kareem Abdul Jabbar spoke to us about leaving a legacy, I thought of my long journey that brought me to graduation and all the obstacles I overcame along the way. From financial problems to transportation issues, and from critical looks to juggling various responsibilities, there was never a shortage of problems.Yet by Allah’s grace and with the support of loved
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ones, I became the first to graduate from college in my family. What once seemed impossible was now reality, my parents’ heads held high in pride. And for that, I can never thank Allah enough. The Arabic word ‘shukr,’ or ‘thankfulness,’ in its varying forms, is mentioned in the Qur’an 75 times as a human quality, as well as an attribute of our Most Gracious Lord, Allah, transcendent and exalted. According to scholars, shukr for humans is the practical form of showing consideration and offering acknowledgment for a favor. Divine shukr, from Allah alone, is bestowed upon us in the form of blessings, reward, and guidance—material or otherwise— and may be received in this life or kept for us in the one to come. Further, the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was beheld in acts of shukr countless times.When asked by his wife Aisha why he exerted himself so arduously
in worship when Allah had forgiven his mistakes, past and future, he said, simply: “Shall I not then be a thankful servant?” (Bukhari and Muslim). We go through life, from one accomplishment to the next, often without ever uttering a word of thanks to the One who granted us the very success that we celebrate. Yet it is absolutely crucial that we remember Allah at these precious moments and not become blinded by the adrenalin rush of “our” seeming achievements.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Remember Allah during times of ease and prosperity and Allah will remember [be there for] you in times of adversity” (Tirmithi). Clearly, it is essential that we remember our Creator in moments of happiness and difficulty, for it is only He Who can and will see us through it. Yet making shukr to Allah for a perceived success is but one part of worshipful thankfulness.We must not neglect to express gratitude to God on a daily basis. For it is He alone that has created the beautiful blue sky, this Earth, and has provided us with clothing to wear, food to eat, and homes to live in. It is only because of His will that we are alive today and able to say, alhamdulillah! Truly we are blessed with the mercy of our Creator. In the Surah of Ibrahim, Allah reveals “Thus has He given you of all that you have asked Him. And were you to [endeavor to] count the blessings of God, never could you enumerate them” [14:34]. As the list of Allah’s blessings upon us are endless, so too should be our thanks to Him.
Indeed, being thankful works in our benefit, for Allah says: “And it is the thankful whom God shall [soon] reward” [3:144]. He said as well: “If you give thanks [for My blessings], I shall, most surely, increase [them for] you” [14:7].This reward can come to us in many different ways, sometimes immediately and others with some time. So thanking Allah for my graduation from UCLA might lead to my admission into a prominent graduate program. Or it may be as simple as forgiving me for previous sins, or accepting any other duaa I may invoke.The point is, by merely showing gratitude to our Lord, we are rewarded with even more favors, and who would want to deprive themselves of such blessings? When was the last time you thanked Allah for something? Maybe it was for that “A” you got on an exam, or for the car you’ve been dying to have, or maybe it was for the delicious meal you had today. If you haven’t taken time today to thank Allah, let’s do it now.Think of one thing you are grateful for and sincerely thank your Creator for it. Stop reading and spend a moment doing that right now—and may you be from those who Allah will soon reward! There are several ways in thanking Allah. Performing our daily salah, doing thikr, verbally expressing it, and reading those short duaa before and after performing the daily routines of life, for example, before and after eating, before going to sleep and after waking up.The list is endless. The quality of shukr doesn’t simply end with thanking our Lord. Instead it extends to thanking the people around us.Think about it, where would you be without your family or friends, or even co-workers or friendly strangers? The love and support we receive from those around us is essential in keeping us going and
One of the best ways you can thank people is by remembering them in your duaa, just the way we would want to be remembered by them. helping us reach our goals.Therefore, it only makes sense to take time and thank them, as well.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “One who thanks not people, thanks not God” (Tirmithi). Let us not forget those who help us and thank them for all that they do, whether it is your father who paid for your college education, or your
mother who cooks delicious food everyday so you don’t go hungry. One of the best ways you can thank people is not only by verbally expressing it to them but by additionally remembering them in your duaa, just the way we would want to be remembered by them during their sincere worship. As we continue to live our lives, let us try and thank not only Allah for all that He has bestowed upon us, but also all those individuals who make up our world, in the hope that Allah will reward them and increase His favors upon us. Let’s remember this duaa that the Noble Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, often made: “O Allah, grant me the strength to be grateful to You” [47:16]. And jazakum Allahu khairan for taking the time to hear me out.Thanks.
Great Expectations: First Thoughts BY SOBIA ASRAR
T’S A MANTRA in “expert” parenting circles: Expecting too much of kids by setting unrealistic goals for them crushes their selfesteem, turning them into low risk-takers. It further bespeaks parental neglect in viewing their children as just that—children. While every parent denies culpability, it is universally observed that parents often push their kids to excel in every arena from academia and sports to personal relationships. As John Steinbeck put it: “It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” Maybe that’s what so-called “stage moms” take to heart as they voraciously coach a young daughter in acting, modeling, and singing, in hopes that she’ll be the next siren of the big screen. Thankfully, our Muslim world is scarce on such moms. But that’s not to say we haven’t always had parents infusing us with their ideas of what we must do in life. So we have mothers who plan out a son’s life from the day he first soils a diaper up to (and including) his wedding day, wherefore compulsion to conform to her expectations is finally waived. And we have fathers who want nothing more than to see his boy out-earning the neighbor’s kid. And, of course, the good of the child is always foremost in mind. Yet, in a strange twist, many parents no longer expect their kids to be them. Instead, they see themselves to be a sort of prototype, with us, their children, being the more advanced, best-selling model. So, we are to be 16
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better, and that, too, in everything— in income, education, and social standing. In theory, it is hard to find fault with high expectations. Every parent wants his child to have what they didn’t, to be what they couldn’t. And, as educators affirm, setting high goals infuses a child with confidence and boosts him to perform better. But, what it often translates into in practice is that soon enough, a child starts wondering why his parents did not achieve what they push him to. That is when “I know you can do better” starts sounding awfully similar to
“do as I say, not as I do.”Their advice comes across as parents absolving themselves of their shortcomings, while wanting to vicariously experience the success that eluded them through their children’s achievements. But let’s take another view, from the top. Such “child analysis” of parents, they might say, is neither fair nor true in most cases. In fact, would a parent tell a child to be better than, and not like, him, only because of his or her high expectations? Isn’t it more likely a result of parental awareness of failures, and heightened concern for one’s offspring? After all, to tell your own child that you are not really “the best dad in the world” as his son scribbled on that Eid card, and that he himself could and should, one day, be better than his own father, is a humbling act. It proves parents know firsthand
that perfection is not easily attainable. And yet, they offer their love and support to help us get closer to it than they could. But in what way are we expected to outshine our parents? Because, while many of our folks have high expectations of their children with regard to material accomplishments, when it comes to their spiritual and moral being, the rules are generally quite lax. As a matter of fact, have we not seen too many parents devastated by children whose desire to become religious trumps their other expectations of them? Our parents must raise the bar of expectations for us in terms of our religion and the spiritual traits imbued within us, because it is that alone which will help us grace the stairs of the castles they build for us in the air. And yet, if they do not provide us with the environment to cultivate our life skills and faith, by practicing it themselves, then how can we be expected to reach such lofty heights? Being watched 24/7 by an innocent child with every action etched on his mind as model behavior is the singularly most difficult, yet most inevitable, aspect of parenting, though none of it – childbirth, potty training and all – is easy. As Levitt and Dubner posit in their book, Freakonomics, “It’s who you are” that matters most in how your child turns out. And so, the challenge today is for our parents to set high expectations of themselves, and then of us. Only then will they give us what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, called “the best gift from a father to his child,” which is “sound upbringing” (Tirmithi).With that, we may even surpass our parents’ expectations of our income or emotional and social intelligence levels. But, best of all, we will hold the key to every subsequent success: Islam. That, then, must be our great expectation of them.
New and Noteworthy in Islamic Publishing
THE WHITE NIGHTS OF RAMADAN BY MAHA ADDASI “TheWhite Nights of Ramadan” is a short children’s story about Noor, an exuberant Muslim girl anxiously awaiting the arrival of the three nights of Girgian. According to author Maha Addasi, Girgian is a festive occasion that usually occurs during the middle of Ramadhan, typically a time when a splendid full moon covers the earth, giving the appearance of a ‘white night’. Children usually don their finest traditional outfits during Girgian, a tradition endemic to the Arabian Gulf, and collect treats from neighbors as they visit house to house, much like Halloween. Overwhelmed with joy at the arrival of the middle of the month, Noor fastidiously prepares
for the following three nights of candy collecting while she observes the fast.While delighted with Noor’s enthusiastic spirit, her elders remind her that Ramadhan, despite all the fun, is really about spending time with family and sharing with those less fortunate.This important lesson isn’t really meant to temper Noor’s enthusiasm as much as it is to remind her of Ramadhan’s greater purpose; in other words, Noor is taught that it’s perfectly fine to enjoy Ramadhan’s festivities so as long as she remains mindful that benevolence and God-consciousness remain the primary objectives . Noor absorbs the lesson, much to her
elders’ (and our) delight, and enjoys the first night of Girgian with her doting grandfather. Ned Gannon’s colorful illustrations accompany Addasi’s story and manage to wonderfully capture Noor’s exuberance and the general tenor of festivity that has clearly permeated Noor’s household. On each page of the book, Addasi's text is placed against the backdrop of Gannon’s fullpage illustrations.The arrangement has the pleasant effect of letting the visuals do much of the story-telling as Addasi’s words guide us along. “The White Nights of Ramadan’s” joyful story, subtle life-lessons, and positive message make for a very entertaining read. Illustrated by Ned Gannon Boyds Mills Press, Pennsylvania 2008 28 pages. Reviewed by Mueen Ahmed
A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ZAKAT: CHARITY IN ISLAM BY OMER FARUK SENTURK Zakah is a duty every fiscally-capable Muslim is required to fulfill.While somewhat related to the general concept of charity, zakah contrasts sharply with popular charity in at least three different ways: zakah is a required act of every able Muslim and not merely optional. In fact, the deliberate failure of an able Muslim to pay zakah is tantamount to forsaking any other pillar of religion, such as salah or fasting Ramadhan. Secondly, zakah is a much more nuanced act than the random distribution of charity; indeed, one must meet several conditions before he/she can be said to have completely fulfilled the obligation of zakah.And thirdly, zakah is not a perfunctory excise of one’s wealth in the pursuit of praiseworthy causes. In fact, the Prophet, sallallahu
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alayhe wa sallam, has taught us that the spending of one’s wealth in obligatory zakah is spiritually and monetarily enriching.To many, the notion of increasing one’s monetary wealth through charity may seem rather paradoxical.This counterintuitive teaching is one issue, among many others, that Omer Faruk Senturk wishes to address in “A Comprehensive Guide to Zakat: Charity in Islam.” For a duty so seminal to the life of a Muslim, the fulfillment of zakah can be quite cumbersome at times. For example, while one may know to pay a certain
percentage of his or her wealth to the needy, one is also obliged to know which of their monetary assets qualify as material liable for zakah. Questions concerning intangible assets, such as bonds, trust funds and stocks further cloud the issues. Moreover, who or what is eligible to receive zakah, and how much is one obligated to pay? The payment (or acceptance) of zakah without knowledge of its conditions may cast doubt on the validity of the act altogether.While one may consult a scholar or expert on these issues, many in the West may find it particularly burdensome to both find a scholar and obtain comprehensive, easy-to-follow instructions on the matter.
Senturk’s “A Comprehensive Guide” thus figures to allay the anxieties of many who wish to fulfill this obligatory act yet lack the fiscal and fiqhi expertise to do so. Much like a traditional textbook or instructional manual, “A Comprehensive Guide” provides Muslims with an assortment of information on the rulings and practical applications of zakah.With many, sometimes discrepant, rulings in circulation, Sentruk prefers to approach zakah by emphasizing “the unique purposes behind each [variant] verdict of jurisprudence” with consistent reference to corroborative reports from the
Qur’an and Sunnah. Sentruk also manages to fuse the typically tepid, matterof-fact writing of textbooks with deep insight into the spiritual dynamics of zakah in a style sure to satisfy those seeking a deeper, spiritual meaning of zakah. For example, Sentruk ably expounds on the etymology of zakah; its relation to voluntary charity; its spiritual link to penance, benevolence and piety; its role in the alleviation of socio-economic class disparity; and its place in the greater context of social justice and spiritual enrichment. A translated work, “A Comprehensive
Guide” can at times resemble academic prose but is nevertheless accessible. Amidst constantly evolving definitions of monetary assets and a disturbing disconnect from the obligation and purpose of zakah, “A Comprehensive Guide” is sure to find its niche among many readers concerned with fulfilling this oft-neglected duty. Published by the Light, Inc. Somerset, New Jersey. 2007 Softcover: 172 pages. Reviewed by Mueen Ahmed
SPECIAL SECTION FOR RAMADHAN BOOKS 1. Fasting In Ramadaan As Observed By The Prophet Author: Saleem al-Hilaalee Publisher:Al Hidaayah Publishers & Distributors (UK) Publishing Pages: 114, Paperback Many Ramadhaninspired traditions and folklore have proliferated across Muslim lands across the past several centuries, leaving many confused as to what is fact and what is fiction. In “Fasting In Ramadhan as Observed by The Prophet,” Saleem al-Hilaalee examines Ramadhan in light of the classical sources, including:Authenticated ahadeeth of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam and selected statements from the Companions and early scholars, thus presenting the blessed month as the early Muslims understood it. Using these early, scholarly sources, al-Hilaalee discusses jurisprudential rulings related to Ramadhan as well as the month’s numerous spiritual traditions. 2. Imran Learns About Ramadan Author: Sajda Nazlee,Abia Asfar-Siddiqui Publisher:Ta-Ha Publishers Pages: 16, Paperback
In this short, illustrated story book, a young boy anxiously awaits his mother’s answers to his innumerable questions on the origins, traditions and stories of Ramadhan. Her answers are accompanied by vivid, colorful illustrations that provide important visuals to supplement the text. 3. Matters Related to Fasting Author: Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House IIPH (2005) 2nd Edition Pages: 80, Paperback While many look forward to fasting the month of Ramadhan, there still exists an urgent need for Muslims to understand what is expected out of them this month in order to ensure that their deeds are accepted. In this concise booklet, Shaykh Salih al-Munajjid conscientiously outlines the rulings of a proper fast with proof from the Qur’an and Sunnah.Al-Munajjid discusses what invalidates a fast, the proper time of commencement and
completion and many related issues that no Muslim can afford not to know. 4. Magid Fasts for Ramadan Author: Mary Matthews, E. B. Lewis (Illustrator) Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co. Reprint edition, 2000. Pages: 48, Paperback Join little Magid in this entertaining journey about an earnest boy who, despite the orders of his parents, endeavors to join the family in fasting. Set in Egypt, “Magid Fasts for Ramadan” describes poor Magid’s predicament and offers numerous insights into fasting, Ramadhan, and Islam along the way. E.B. Lewis, a professional artist, and Mary Matthews, an accomplished writer, collaborate on this entertaining story. 5.The Nature of Fasting Author:Taqiuddin Ibn Taymiyyah Publisher: Darussalam Publishers and Distributors (November 2000) Pages: 80, Paperback The erudite, 9th century (AH) scholar Ibn Taymiyyah tackles the fiqh of fasting AL JUMUAH
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with a detailed analysis of its various jurisprudential rulings. Relying on his own expertise in matters of fiqh, Ibn Taymiyyah explains fasting in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah and delineates what the believer should do when traveling, when sick, when pregnant, and countless other scenarios Muslims may find themselves in during the duration of their fast.While there may be a multitude of books and pamphlets available on the same subject, very few can match the precision and depth that is so typical of an Ibn Taymiyyah work. 6. Understanding Ramadan Author: Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan Publisher: Darussalam Publishers and Distributors Pages: 102, Paperback While fasting may be the most conspicuous sign of Ramadhan, plenty of other widely practiced rituals also constitute Ramadhan and thus deserve equal attention. In “Understanding Ramadan,” Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan explains the rituals of Ramadhan, from fasting to taraweeh to the Night of Power, in encyclopedia-like treatment. Khan’s “Understanding Ramadan” figures to be an exceptionally resourceful book that any Muslim can resort to in times of doubt or ambivalence. 7. Zakah and Sadaqah:An Outline of Basic Rulings Author: Saheeh International Publisher:Abul Qasim Publishing House Pages: 34, Paperback “Zakah and Sadaqah:An Outline of Basic Rulings” discusses zakah’s legal status in Islam, its relationship to and differences
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from sadaqah, and what type of tangible and intangible monetary sources are subject to zakah. Furthermore, the work discusses sadaqah vis a vis zakah and makes some important distinctions between the two.After delineating the differences between sadaqah and zakah, the work discusses the legitimate recipients of sadaqah and what constitutes a valid, acceptable act of sadaqah. 8. Zakat Calculation : Primarily Based on Fiqh uz Zakat by Yusuf alQaradawi Author: Mushfiqur Rahman Publisher: Islamic Foundation (2003) Pages: 118, Paperback “Zakat Calculation: Primarily Based on Fiqh uz Zakat byYusuf al-Qaradawi” is a work that takes a jurisprudential approach to Islam’s fourth pillar. It attempts to explain the essence of zakah, its purposes for both the individual and society, and finally, it provides a detailed calculation form within which the reader can simply plug in his or her earnings, expenses, and monetary possessions to determine whether he/she is eligible to pay or receive zakah, and exactly how much he/she is obliged to pay if eligible.As the title indicates, author Mushfiqur Rahman draws primarily from the renowned, contemporary scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s work on the same subject. 9. Zakat: Raising a Fallen Pillar Author:Abdalhaqq Bewley,Amal Abdalhakim-Douglas Publisher: Black Stone Press (UK) Pages: 88, Paperback
Abdalhaqq Bewley and Amal AbdalhakimDouglas’ “Zakat: Raising a Fallen Pillar” makes a hortatory appeal to Muslims across the globe to re-examine their languid approach to zakah. That Muslims have an inaccurate perception of zakah contributes to increasing poverty rates and general economic stagnation.The road to economic empowerment, argue Bewley and Douglas, is the reinvigoration of this forgotten fourth pillar. “Zakat: Raising a Fallen Pillar” also discusses the proper allocation and distribution of zakah to appropriate recipients. 10.Ameena’s Ramadan Diary:A Practical Guide to Getting the Best out of Fasting & Ramadan Author: Sara Kabil,Abubakr El-Banna Publisher:Ta-Ha Publishers (2008) Pages: 100, Paperback Ameena, a dutiful sister and ambitious Marketing Executive, has her sights set on a spiritually fulfilling Ramadhan, but is such a goal possible given all her professional and familial responsibilities? It sure is, and we have her diary to prove it! Join Ameena as she recollects all her pre-Ramadhan planning and discover how she managed to balance all her responsibilities while still being able to achieve all her spiritual ambitions during the month of Ramadhan. Perhaps we may be able to glean insight from her adroit goal making and time management processes and duplicate her success in our own lives.
C O N T E M P O R A R Y
Islamic Answers To For Insulin-Dependent Q. Fasting Diabetics Can Muslims on insulin or those who are hypoglycemic fast the month of Ramadhan if it causes them medical distress—falling insulin levels, etc?
PROPERLY ANSWER A. TO your question, one would need
more facts about the expected outcome of fasting and the extent of its impact on the fasting person’s health, and, of course, much of that would depend on the severity of the individual’s condition. Such a person should see a trustworthy Muslim physician to determine if fasting in his or her particular case is detrimental. If no Muslim physicians are accessible, then I recommend seeking opinions from two non-Muslim physicians whom one trusts. If they agree that it is harmful for one to fast, then one is entitled to a Shari‘ah concession (legal rukhsah) and Fast for No Q. Breaking Legitimate Excuse
If I broke my fast because of a mandatory court appearance, would I have to make up for it? And how can I do that? breaks the fast in A. Whoever Ramadhan for reasons other
than illness or traveling has sinned and must repent to Allah for perpetrating such disobedience. In addition, one must make up (carry out qadhaa) for each day missed. If, however, one breaks the fast by having sexual intercourse, then, in addition to the qadhaa, one must expiate oneself through one of the following acts, and in order of priori22
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one may not fast or cease fasting Ramadhan, as needed. If such is the case, then one is required only to expiate for one’s not fasting in Ramadhan by feeding a poor person one meal for each day one does not fast. If his condition allows, the use of a pump, after adjustment, or a combination of Glargine and ultra short-acting insulin may be better than other modalities of treatment.This, of course, must be determined by a qualified physician. As for those with HYPOGLYCEMIA, it may be harder for them to fast, but it is important that they consult a specialized physician, familiar with their individual physical issues and the details of fasting. Allah Knows Best. Answer by Shaykh Hatem Mohammad AlHaj Aly Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
ty, as here listed: (1) Freeing a slave—yet should one find no slave to free or has not the means to do so, then (2) one must fast for two consecutive Islamic calendar months— yet if one is unable to do so (for legitimate reasons), then (3) one must feed 60 of the poor. If one breaks the fasting of Ramadhan for a legitimate reason, a lawful exemption, then one need only make up for the fasting days missed (carry out qadhaa) by fasting an equal amount of other days. Our All-Wise and Knowledgeable Lord has allowed us to break our obligatory fasts for specific reasons that become legitimate exemptions—
the Beginning and Q. Deciding End of Ramadhan
Every year, when the month of Ramadhan approaches, disputes erupt regarding the correct, determinative method we should employ to decide when to start fasting Ramadhan. Should we follow any Muslim country east of us, or should we cite the hilal (the new crescent) locally? In some cases, Muslims in one city or even in one family celebrate Ramadhan and the Eid on different days. Obviously, this creates an atmosphere of division and confusion. Recently, our masajid have each decided to employ a similar method to determine when to begin and end Ramadhan—local sighting. responsibility for the A. Typically, process of determining when
the month of Ramadhan begins and ends is charged to the office of Wali al-Amr—the Muslim ruler or his deputy judge. Since that is not our case in America, Islamic scholars
such as (a) a sickness that fasting will exacerbate, (b) traveling, (c) pregnancy, (d) breastfeeding, or (e) old age. We cannot simply break our fast whenever and however we choose. Anytime we think we may need to break an obligatory fast, we must first enquire about the lawfulness of our reasons—prior to our breaking any obligatory fast—from those who have knowledge, in order to obtain and understand their recommendation. Allah Knows Best. Answer by Shaikh Hatem Mohammad AlHaj Aly Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
should instead preside over the decision-making process. If the local masajid in your state, or area, have agreed upon what you mentioned, following them is a must, since it is the Sunnah.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Fasting will be obligatory when all of you (decide to) fast” (Abu Dawud and Tirmithi). The same should apply to whole ummah, or if that is not possible (as is our unfortunate case these days), then at the very least it should apply to the city in which one lives. This is the reason I recommend to you that you follow your local masajid and Islamic Centers when they agree on the same decision. But should they disagree, then follow the masjid you frequent most, or the masjid that you think employs the most accurate method. My final word is for those in charge in our masajid and centers is that they follow the scholars and those who are most knowledgeable among us. Allah Knows Best Answer by ShaykhWalid Ben Khaled Basiony Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
to Pay Zakatul-Fitr Q. When Is it permissible to distribute
Zakatul-Fitr on the weekend prior to the Shari‘ah-recommended time? is meant to lessen A. Zakatul-Fitr the need of the poor on the day
of Eid. So it must be delivered to them in a way that materially facilitates that goal. For this reason, it must not be delayed until after the Eid salah is finished.The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, commanded Muslims to give this zakah before going to the Eid salah. It may be given immediately before the salah, i.e., in the period between the Fajr salah and Eid salah.
a Breastfeeding Q. When Mother Cannot Make up
Missed Fasts Before the Advent of the Next Ramadhan My wife was pregnant last Ramadhan and was able to fast 10 days only. Now she is breastfeeding and feeling very weak. If her situation does not change and we enter the coming Ramadhan, what should she do?
A. wife except to make up (carry out qadhaa) for the days of fasting she There is no obligation on your
has missed, be it 19 or 20. As you have described it, her condition when she ceased fasting comprises a legitimate excuse, or exemption. Also, since the majority of scholars
Or, it may be given on the eve of Eid. Even though this is strongly recommended, it still can be given one or two days ahead of Eid Day, as was related from Ibn Umar, and in the opinion of the majority of scholars. Some scholars have, however, stipulated that it can be given away as early as two weeks ahead of the Eid Day. The point is this: So long as one gives Zakatul-Fitr in a way that satisfies its basic intent in the Shari‘ah, when one does this, prior to Eid salah, does not matter greatly. So,to answer your question directly,Yes, you may give it a few days before the Day of Eid. Allah Knows Best Answer by Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA). Foods Are Permitted as Q. What Zakatul-Fitr
Are there any foods that cannot be given away as Zakatul-Fitr?
foods mentioned in the A. The ahadeeth regarding Zakatul-Fitr
include dates, barley, raisins, cheese, and wheat. According to the hadeeth of Ibn Umar, the Prophet
stipulate no obligation on a person to pay expiation in addition to making up the missed fasts, unless the person is negligent in postponing the delayed fasts until the next Ramadhan arrives, your wife is under no further obligation to do anything else. She could not carry out the qadhaa because of breastfeeding, and in all likelihood she will not be able to do so until after the coming Ramadhan.Yet, nonetheless, she is excused because the Qur’an tells us that “Allah does task a soul beyond its capacity” [2:286]. Allah Knows Best Answer by Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, declared Zakatul-Fitr to be a saa‘ (a standard measure that equals 2172 grams) of dates, or of barely on behalf of every male and female, young and old, free or slave, and commanded that it be given away before people go to perform the Eid salah” (Bukhari). In another hadeeth, Abu Sa‘id alKhudri related: “We paid Zakatul-Fitr as a saa‘ of wheat, or barely, or dates, or cheese, or raisins” (Bukhari).These were the types of food most commonly used in the Prophet’s time. Later, scholars made the food and drink of a particular region or land analogous to the food and drink the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, mentioned in the previous ahadeeth. Thus, they said that the one who is financially able to give Zakatul-Fitr is to give a saa‘ of the region’s typical food. Therefore, you may give ZakatulFitr by means of any food that is common to your area. Allah Knows Best Answer by Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA). AL JUMUAH
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Ramadhan Q. Commencing Fast in One Country and
Celebrating Eid in Another I arrived in the United States during Ramadhan and didn’t fast that day, being exempt because of travel. How shall I make it up? The day of Eid differed in the United States from that in the country I came from—where I began my fast. Should I celebrate Eid with the Muslims where I am now, or should I follow the country I came from?
are bound to the times and A. You days of the country in which
you currently reside—both in the commencement of your Ramadhan fast and your cessation of the month’s fast.Thus, if you end up fasting less than 29 days in total, you must make up one day, for the month of fasting cannot be less than this. Allah Knows Best Answer by Dr. Salah Al-Sawy Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA). Expiation Needed in Q. IsAddition to Making up a
Ramadhan Fast? What is the evidence for having to pay expiation for not making up missed fasts, without an excuse, prior to the next Ramadhan? Also, is the expiation repeated for more than one missed year? And, if I choose to feed the poor in expiation, how do I know who deserves it? Whoever puts off qadhaa for a A. Ramadhan fast, that is, making
up for obligatory fasts missed on their due times, without a legitimate excuse until the following Ramadhan arrives, the scholars have agreed that he or she is sinful in having done so, and agreed, as well, that he or she is obliged to make them up. They, however, have disagreed as to whether expiation in this case must include feeding the poor in addition to making up for whatever days of fast one has missed. In this regard, the majority of Maliki, 24
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Shafi‘i and Hanbali scholars stipulate that it is also obligatory to pay expiation in addition to making up the missed fasts.Their evidence for this are the opinions narrated from some of the Companions, such as Abu Hurayrah and Ibn Abbas. Imam Abu Hanifah, however, differed. He did not see it as obligatory for one to pay expiation in addition to making up for the missed fasts.This is also the opinion of Imam Bukhari.They both claim in support of their opinion the fact that the Qur’an does not mention any stipulated addition to making up the days missed. Thus, they argue, it is not legitimate for one to oblige another with something that Allah has not commanded that person to, except if one has decisive proof that would clear one of the responsibility [of innovating a new obligation]. According to them, Ibn Abbas and Abu Hurayrah only “recommended” feeding the poor (in addition) and did not imply that it was an “obligation” for one to do so. In any case, we advise you to act in accordance with the more circumspect position.Thus, whoever makes up the missed fasts and pays expiation has ensured a clear conscience in terms of his religious duties and has striven to please his Lord, the Mighty and Majestic. So, if you choose to offer food in expiation, in addition to making up the missed fasts, it should be given to the poor. Seek the assistance of your local masjid or people known for helping the poor and needy in your area to find out who and where they are.You will find many. Allah Knows Best Answer by Dr. Salah Al-Sawy Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
Questions On Paying Q. Multiple Expiations for Fasting
Is there any tahajjud after the taraweeh salah? Secondly, how does one pay expiation during Ramadhan? Do we simply buy, say, a bag of rice or beans and give
them to the person for the whole of Ramadhan, or do we give him cooked food for suhoor and a cooked meal for iftar? Also, can a woman pay expiation to her husband as is the case with Zakah? And what if I pay expiation to someone who sins persistently? Should I be cautious about this when I pay my expiation, or does this not matter? Finally, when someone intentionally breaks his fast by inducing vomiting, does he expiate himself with just one or 60 days of fasting? Tahajjud is the voluntary night A. salah and usually means mak-
ing salah during the last part of the night. It could also mean making salah after you wake up from sleep. Taraweeh is the name we give to tahajjud salah in Ramadhan.You may make as many rak‘at (salah cycles) as you please, whenever you please, throughout the night.The last third is more rewarding, however. As for the expiation, you may give a poor individual money to buy food, or you may cook food for him, or simply give him uncooked food. If it is uncooked, it is half a saa‘, which is about 1.3 kg of rice. Additionally, yes, a woman may give expiation to her husband if he is poor.The person who gives the expiation should try to give it to righteous people if he can. However, he need not worry what the recipient of his expiation does with it. The person who induced his vomiting must, indeed, make up for his or her fasts, day for day. However, beware, that breaking the fast without legitimate exemption for just one day of Ramadhan cannot be completely made up for even if one were to fast one’s entire life.
Allah Knows Best Answer by Shaikh Hatem Mohammad AlHaj Aly Fatawa Panel of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America (AMJA).
The Ethic of
ESSENTIAL EASE In Surat Al-Baqarah by Ahmad Zaki Hammad
Ahmad Zaki Hammad is a professor in Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Languages and Translations, with a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from University of Chicago. His translation of the meaning of the Qur’an, The Gracious Quran: A Modern-Phrased Interpretation into English is recently released. He teaches Qur’an Commentary, Hadeeth, and the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. 26
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship”
ELIGIONS, LIKE PEOPLE, have vital spirits running all through them, even as life’s blood courses through our own veins. From its creed, to its rites, to its worldly vision and way of life, Islam is suffused with an essential spirit that we may characterize as an ethic of ease (yusr), as opposed to one of difficulty and recondite complexity (‘usr).This same life force everywhere pulses through the revealed verses of Surat alBaqarah. Again and again, the Qur’an’s longest and most summative surah shows us, sometimes tells us outright, that the nature of genuine religiousness seamlessly matches the nature of upright man, and man in community: It is not stringent. It cannot endure the imposition of the relentlessly rigid outlook, nor the invariably extreme practice. It has a natural affinity for the enjoyment of the wholesome things that God has created for humanity and created humanity for. And its native temperament is modesty and moderation, just as its natural dwelling place is the environment of latitude and lenity, where a soul may breathe contented, far, far away from hyper-restriction and harsh obligation. The Qur’an’s ethic of ease, in essence, runs counter to that of faith by force, cruelty in human transaction, and incivility in human communication. Moreover, it is to be universally applied by the believers with both friend and foe, for it rests upon the divine bedrock of God’s will to leniency (tayseer) for humankind and His repudiation of their distress (ta’seer) on His account. Cast for all time in the meaning of God’s own words—“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” [2:185]—the echoes of al-Baqarah’s categorical statement on the divine intentionality of ease for His upright, symmetrical creation reverberates throughout the Qur’an as one of the prime ethical assumptions of human life. “God does not wish to place any strain upon you. Rather, He intends to purify you and to perfect His blessings upon you, so that you may give thanks” [5:6]. For delicate is the human disposition, as its Creator knows very well.Thus “alleviation” of the earthly human load (samaaha) characterizes the obligations that Islam’s religious rulings enjoin upon this mere creature of clay. “God desires to lighten [the burden] for you. For man is created weak” [4:28]. The objective of religion, then, is to equip the human being to traverse the hills and dales of worldly temptation and personal trial gracefully in the pleasure of his Lord, with the express purpose of testing his faith. It is not to bog him down under a groaning burden of encumbering statutes and impeding ordinances. God is not the one who has freighted the human way of life with the inscrutable dogmas and intolerable practices that press down inexorably upon man, breaking his back with indignities and separating him from his own nature. “For He has not placed
“ThusWe have indeed made [this Qur’an] , for you to give with it to the God-fearing, and to warn therewith a contentious people” [19:97]
easy in your tongue glad tidings
on you any [undue] strain in [your] religion” [22:78]. Rather, it is humanity that has incessantly weighed itself down with its unremitting generation of convention after canon that has no foundation in divine prescription. It is humanity that has willingly doffed its native mantle of liberty for the straight jacket of synthetic traditions that are without basis in prophetic wisdom. Indeed, as a safeguard against the imposition of such fiats of the few upon the many, God has charged all human beings with reflection on His Final Revelation, the Holy Writ of the Qur’an, which He has given them precisely to preserve their inalienable right of ease as opposed to duress and tyranny.The Qur’an’s purpose is to fire humanity’s endowed imaginative genius to harness the free-flowing energy of its Heavenly guidance and transform it into the luminous social structures that will ameliorate the conditions of earthly life. Hence, with a multilayered wisdom has He filled it and with a many-splendored beauty has He formed it, so that people would not tire or bore (but on the contrary find joy and ease) in the fulfillment of their master mission, their highest task; namely, the transmutation of all mundane life into Godconscious service by memorializing revelation in their enterprise by day and their endeavor by night. “And truly We have made the Qur’an easy for remembrance. So is there any to remember?” [54:17, 22, 32]. None are to find themselves counted out of revelation’s luminescent mercy.Whether by encouraging word or firm admonition, every human being has a divinely ordained right to hear its address from those to whom the Qur’an has been bestowed with facility. Indeed, this universal entitlement fixes the communal mission of the latter among the global human family. “ThusWe have indeed made [this Qur’an] easy in your tongue, for you to give glad tidings with it to the God-fearing, and to warn therewith a contentious people” [19:97]. And since the Children of Adam are, indeed, a single brotherhood in the eyes of their sole Creator, then whomever God has provided with sustenance and ability AL JUMUAH
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” must especially cherish God’s essential ethic of ease, not only for him- or herself but also for one’s impoverished brother—if not by means of bread (if this is not within one’s able reach), then by way of a fervent desire to do something if one could, were God ever to grant one such a measure of His mercy.This is symbolized in the bond of a charitable word that, at a minimum, a man is required to express to his downtrodden brother to promote his human dignity and to bring relief to his troubled mind. “Yet if you must turn away from those [who are needy]—while you [yourself] seek mercy [and means] from your Lord [and] hope [ardently] for [provision from which you can give]—then [at least] say to them a tender word [of prayer to ease their hearts]” [17:28]. Yet this divinely ordained human interchange that clasps help to hope in the promise of God is not the mere institution of a social balm or superficial protocol. In it, both the benevolent and the bereft are truly to take heart. For “as to one who gives [charity] and fears [God], and confirms [his faith] in God’s ultimate reward,We shall then ease him into ease” [92:57]. And as to the believer beset by crushing need, he is reminded of God’s unfailing pledge to the steadfastly pious, that “whoever fears God, He shall make for him a way out [of every difficulty].And He shall provide for him from where he has never conceived.And whoever relies on God, then He [Himself] becomes sufficient for him” [65:2-3]. In this manner, both are reminded that God [alone] is the consolation of every man and woman in their hour of affliction. “And whoever fears God, He shall make for him a way out [of every difficulty]” [65:2].With this realization the seed of benevolent ease implants itself in the character of the believer.
THE SPIRIT OF EASE IN THE MUSLIM PERSONALITY
UST AS GOD has fixed ease into the precepts of the Qur’an, those who would uphold their real meaning are to make ease the rule between them in their interaction. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, himself is drawing this connection when he states: I have been sent with the [Message of] upright [faith] and tolerant [spirit]. Compassion in action evinces the faith of the heart to which the Muslim lays claim. As with every moral value in Islam, its practice begins with oneself and continues successively outward. Those who observed firsthand the conduct of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, noted: “Never was he faced with a choice between two things,” one easier than the other, “without choosing the easier, so long as it was not an ungodly act. And were it ungodly, then he was, indeed, the furthest of people from it.” This habit of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, tells us at least two things: First, there is no inherent reli28
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gious excellence in the difficult over the easy merely for the fact that a particular worthy end might be attained by one route that is more arduous than another. Indeed, in light of the Prophet’s own practice, the simpler way is likely more desirable. Forgoing the pre-dawn meal of suhoor before a fasting day in Ramadhan, for example—even if one’s intention is to make more strenuous his daytime fast for the sake of attaining to piety—has no merit over partaking of it, in its proper time and quantity, and then fasting. On the contrary, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, exhorted us to the “blessing” of the latter. Second, the precedence of ease over difficulty has nothing to do with validating our impious wants (even if they come easy) over the execution of more demanding obligations or preferable acts of devotion. Nor does it legitimate the performance of one good act or obligation in the place of another unrelated act or requirement. One cannot say, for example, “I have meditated on the melody of a spiritually meaningful song or the verses of a high-love sonnet in preference to attending an uninspired Friday Sermon”; or, “The prohibition against wine is for the crude masses, not a refined intellectual like myself.” Nor may one argue, “I have prayed the recommended night vigil in place of the obligatory Fajr salah”; or, “I have given charity to my neighbor, so I will not clothe my child.” Ease is not to be mistaken for the spiritual lassitude and moral confusion that has, very unfortunately, characterized much of the Muslim community, and nearly all the world, in our time. The Qur’an’s essential ethic of ease is a self-correction against the inherent tilt toward extremism to which human beings become especially susceptible in affairs of the heart—which include, not only matters spiritual (the
“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” notions of religious fanaticism or eccentric mysticism that have been disproportionately advertised in our own time), but the intellectual and the imaginative dimensions of human perception, as well. For, particularly in the modern era, humanity has shown an unabated tendency to elevate even mundane ideas to the level of essentialist ideology, and to magnify the most narrowly construed conceptions to the point of obsession. In other words, extremism is a human proclivity that grows out of our innate disposition, the overriding need of our hearts, to worship. Islam adjusts this human propensity by fusing devotion and compassion into a mutually imperative sense of worship, identical in their fundamental purpose and function; namely, to draw man near to God. United together by the principle of ease, it is this that serves to center the spiritual focus between ‘self’ and ‘other.’ In this way, it thoroughly informs the believing attitude: One is to be unwaveringly clear and convicted in his belief in and worship of God, as well as highly motivated and resolute in striving with oneself and one’s wealth for social equity in the service of God, but each of these activities is to be circumscribed within the revealed margins of an “ease” that recognizes the due rights that the human condition itself imposes on each one of us and the concentric liabilities in which God has enrolled us.We have souls that pull us heavenward, but earth-drawn bodies of clay and need.Yet we fail if we satisfy our earthy selves by means of others, while depriving them of the spiritual means we have.We share a general responsibility for our fellows in humanity, but a primary accountability for our own souls, our near and far kin, our community, and so on, in that order.Yet one sins, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has taught us, if his
one sins, as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has taught us, if
his stomach is full, while he knows that his neighbor’s is hungry.
stomach is full, while he knows that his neighbor’s is hungry. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that as a practical method of cementing Islam’s “personal-faith-in-public-service” paradigm in the personalities of his followers, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, used the ethic of ease in his sage advice: “Persist in doing the good deeds that are within your reach.” Nor was he content with the good intentions of his community in so central a concern.They were to take care to attain its objective, which was to remove the hardships of creed and canon that human beings had put as obstacles to faith in God.They were not to complicate what God had made straightforward and simple. He said: “You have been raised up for the purpose of easing [the way to faith for people], not to make [their lives] difficult” (Bukhari and Muslim). Implicit in these admonitions is that Muslims were not to do what others—whom God had chosen, even before them, as host communities for prophethood and divine revelation—had done with faith; namely, to use it as a means of cordoning off for themselves power by segmenting human fellowship and inventing rites and obligations that enthroned some over others in artificial “knowledge” hierarchies that sapped the wealth, intellectual ingenuity, and moral vitality of the community. And were that implicit instruction less than clear, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, explicitly warned:‘Indeed [the essence of] religion is [comprised of] ease. And none struggles against it by way of [bringing to it] extremism, but that it defeats him.Therefore, keep fast to its center, trying always to approximate it. And be of good cheer. And seek [God’s] help in the early morning twilight, and the afternoon, and a portion of the traverse of night.” These times the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has here mentioned are not mere hours of recommended remembrance of God in the course of one’s day, though they encompass this. It is as if the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was addressing a traveler, telling him the most auspicious times by which to journey.Thus they are metaphors of a lifespan and one’s ultimate destiny in the Hereafter (Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari, 1:118-120). AL JUMUAH
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ALLAH INTENDS FOR YOU EASE AND
by Uwaymir Anjum It was the month of Ramadhan in which the Qur’an was [first] sent down as guidance for all people, having [in it] clear proofs of [divine] guidance and the criterion [for right and wrong]. So whoever among you bears witness to the month shall then fast it.Yet if one among you is sick or is on a journey, [such a person shall then fast] the same number of other days. God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship. Rather, [He wills] for you to complete the number [of prescribed days]—and that you shall extol God for [the blessing of faith to] which He has guided you, so that you may give thanks [to Him alone for easing its way and establishing you therein]. —The Qur’an 2:185 30
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship”
N THIS VERSE of the Qur’an, which prescribes fasting, the mention of ease and facility deserves special attention and reflection.The essence of fasting is self-denial and deprivation from natural desires—behaviors we find the most difficult of all. For Allah, the Most Exalted, to remind us of the principle of ease in Islam at such an occasion is both curious and timely. The element of ease in Ramadhan and fasting is especially relevant, because fasting is the closest practice to monasticism—rahbaniyyah in Islam. It attends to the soul’s need to deny the demands of the physical body. But even in this context of deliberate privation by abstinence, God Almighty reminds us that the purpose is not difficulty and self-torture, and still here, moderation and reasonableness are paramount concerns. Thus, the practice of fasting in Ramadhan embodies three salient characteristics of Islam: (1) Moderation, as we have seen, (2) community, and (3) equality. In the human past (even in some aberrant historical formulations of this faith by Muslims), the men of religion sought to draw closer to God through a life of austerity, but in the process considered it necessary to violate these principles.The elite among them practiced harsh asceticism, celibacy, and fasting, while the commoners engaged in worldly activities, working hard to feed this spiritual aristocracy, and marrying and bearing children so the human race would continue (since, obviously, celibacy is not a sustainable way of life if practiced by all.) This type of godliness was not only difficult but, indeed, harmful to human society. Ramadhan, on the other hand, is the month in which all Muslims, as brothers and sisters, young and old, poor and rich, practice celibacy, selfdenial, and asceticism, for a prescribed period. Some, during the last 10 days, even practice a form of “monasticism” through the reclusion of i‘tikaf in the masajid [see the article “A Ramadhan Primer on the Ritual Retreat of i‘tikaf” in this issue].The plainly self-denying nature of monasticism and
asceticism, notwithstanding, the fasting and salah of Ramadhan remain resolutely easy, moderate, and accessible even to teenagers, laborers, and the weak alike. In fact, as almost any Muslim would testify, there is no time for getting closer to the family and to the community like Ramadhan. Furthermore, as you can read for yourself in the translation of the fasting-verse we began with, Allah the Most Merciful is quick to add that if anyone is genuinely incapable of fasting, he or she is excused, with the promise of the same reward.The discerning heart cannot but exclaim:What beauty! What simplicity! What fairness!
GOD INTENDS FOR YOU EASE AND FACILITY
ET US BEGIN by establishing the significance of the Arabic clause in the aforementioned verse “yurid Allahu bikum al-yusra wa la yuridu bikum al-‘usr”—Allah intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship.This statement is not particular to the occasion of fasting alone, but is a general principle at the heart of all legislation in Islam. Imam ash-Shawkani (Fath al-Qadir, 1:183) says in explanation of this verse: “In this verse, yusr (ease) is a [decisive] objective that is part and parcel of the [collective] of objectives [established for humankind in the Divine Law] of the Lord, the Exalted. Further, it is an intent infusing all of the intents conveyed in His religion.”These words indicate a significant consensus of the ‘ulama, or Islamic scholars, one that has been sustained in various forms throughout the whole history of Islam. Allah emphasizes this principle of Islam in another verse, which is general and summative and not related to any particular legal ruling: “…Nor has [Allah] placed upon you any [undue] strain in [your] religion” [Hajj, 22:78]. These verses form the very foundation of a basic principle in fiqh which states that “al-mashaqqa tajlib altaysir”—a difficult situation calls for an allowance of ease. This means that Islamic Law is based on facilitating human life.Thus when its standard principles, in exceptional circumstances, lead to some hardship for its adherents, it makes allowances for them by way of exemptions and leniency. The commandments in Islam that require sacrifice and self-denial for their own sake are exceptions, not the rule (even such exceptions—such as God’s command to Ibraheem to sacrifice his son, or to Muslims to not eat pork—have wisdom, but possibly beyond human reason). As to previously revealed Laws (God’s Shar‘), the Qur’an informs us, God had at times straitened the rules in response to the nit-picking and obstinate disobedience of AL JUMUAH
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” charged and abrasive situations such as divorce, in which men and women typically consider it their right to take advantage of each other and hurt one another in revenge for emotional damage, Allah requires the same attitude: “Let a man of abundant means spend of his abundance [accordingly]. But a man whose provision is of limited measure, let him spend from whatever God has given him, [accordingly]. For God does not task a soul except [in accordance with] what He has given it. God shall bring about, after hardship, ease” [65:7]. The secret of the way of ease is to be mindful of God even in the engrossing struggles of this life. Our high consciousness of God, in other words, does not spoil our worldly life, but, on the contrary, facilitates it. So in the circumstance of divorce—which our previous example addressed, as to the rights of wives, and what may be in their wombs, and so they may be assured of a swift and definite date wherein they are free to remarry, but wherein them may also be domiciled, Allah states: “Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if you have any doubts, is three months, and for those who have no courses (it is the same): for those who carry (life within their wombs), their period is until they deliver their burdens: and for those who fear Allah, He will make their path easy” [65:4]. Not only in His legislative decree (i.e., in what He asks us to do), but also in how He orders human life through His creative decree (i.e., in what he destines for us), Allah, the Most Exalted, deals with us in the same way: Ease and forgiveness: “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is ease.Verily, with every difficulty, there is ease” [94:5]. the people. With the coming of the last Prophet, Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, those laws have been revoked, and with this the Shari‘ah has been restored to its pure, natural form: “…Those, moreover, who believe in [all of] Our [revealed] signs—[these are] the ones who shall follow the [last] Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, [Muhammad—he] whom they find inscribed in the Torah [that is] with them and [in] the Evangel; [he] who enjoins them with what is right and forbids them from what is wrong, making lawful for them wholesome things, and prohibiting for them impure things; and relieving them from the burden [of strict obligation] and the yokes [of oppression] that were [before laid] upon them. So those who believe in him, and who [ardently] uphold him and support him, and who follow the [guiding] light that has been sent down with him—it is these who are the [truly] successful.” [7:156-57] Ease and convenience are thus attributes that characterize the general attitude of Islam not only in God’s commandments to humans but also in how we are asked to treat each other. Even in such difficult and emotionally 32
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THE PROPHETIC WAY OF FACILITY AND MODERATION AS OPPOSED TO HUMANLY INNOVATED EXTREMISM AND MONASTICISM
HE PROPHET OF GOD, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, embodied this divine teaching. Allah describes him thus: “We sent you but as mercy for the worlds” [21:107].The Mother of the Believers, Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, reports, “Whenever the Messenger of God, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was given a choice between two matters, he chose the easier of the two, so long as it was not a sin. If, however, it constituted a sin, he would be the most distant of people from it” (Bukhari and Muslim). It was natural and expected that with the great emphasis on God and other-worldliness in the Prophet’s teachings, some of his Companions, especially those aware of other religious traditions, considered it praiseworthy to
“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” abandon the world altogether. Allah and His Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, unequivocally declared this to be a deviation from the straight path of Islam and a rejection of the Prophetic path, thus explicitly distancing Islam from the prevalent religious attitudes in the Holy Land and the Middle East, in particular Christianity. Excessive manifestations of religiosity, such as monasticism (rahbaniyyah) were forbidden, and it has been made explicit in the Qur’an that it is being censured—not due to its ill intentions, or for its disobedience—but owing to its incompatibility with human nature: “…We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary, and bestowed on him the Gospel; and We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him Compassion and Mercy. But monasticism, which they invented for themselves,We did not prescribe for them (they did so themselves).We prescribed only the seeking of the Good Pleasure of Allah. But they did not foster it as they should have.Yet We bestowed, on those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are rebellious transgressors” [57:27]. It should be noted here that the term used in this verse, rahbaniyyah, is a precise translation of the term monasticism—which was a practice of extreme and organized asceticism, self-denial, and celibacy that spread among the Christians of the fourth century onward, and was wide-spread in the Middle East at the advent of Islam. Abu Qulabah narrated that “some of the Companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, decided to relinquish the world, forsake their wives, and become like monks.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, admonished them against it: ‘People before you perished because of their excess [in religion].They made excessive demands on themselves until Allah brought hardships upon them:You can still see a few of them remaining in monasteries and temples.Worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, perform the Hajj and the Umrah, be righteous, and all affairs will be set right for you’” (Abdurrazzaq, Ibn Jareer, and Ibn al-Munthir). It was in this light, that when sending Abu Musa alAsh‘ari and Muath ibn Jabal to Yemen as his governors,
Ease does not mean to follow Islam requires no effort, but that it is natural—in perfect accordance with the nature or constitution (fitrah) upon which God has created humankind.
People before you perished because of their excess [in religion]. They made excessive demands on themselves until Allah brought
hardships upon them
the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, instructed them as follows: “[Both of you must] make things easy [for the people] and do not make hardships for them. Moreover, give them glad tidings and do not repel them [with harshness and negativity]. Furthermore, keep in agreement with one another and do not fall into disagreement” (Bukhari and Muslim). The Companions fully absorbed these teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.The most discerning of the Successors (the generation that followed that of the Companions) tell us of this distinctive attitude of the Companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Umar ibn Ishaq said: “I met the majority of the Companions of the Prophet, and I have not met any people more easy-going in character and less [constrained] by strictness than them.” One Successor was asked about a woman who died without a guardian (this was a legal question about what to do regarding her burial, etc.). He said, “I have met a people [a reference to the Companions] who neither were stringent like you nor did they ask the (nit-picky) questions that you do” (Ad-Darimi in Musnad, 128-9).
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship”
EASE AND THE OBJECTIVES (MAQASID) OF ISLAMIC LAW
HE PRACTICE OF the Companions, as mentioned earlier, shows that they were concerned less with the minutiae of Law and more with the welfare of the people and their connection with their Lord.With the development and sophistication of jurisprudence, this natural attitude of ease and practical rationality was replaced by emphasis on technical legal knowledge and strict hierarchies and schools of jurists. It is the essential quality of the Islamic tradition’s selfreforming nature that led jurists to gradually recover this religion’s earlier, more natural attitude. As early as Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni (d. 478 AH), scholars of usul alfiqh (theoretical jurisprudence) came to explicitly identify some ends of the Shari‘ah as the ultimate objectives of all of the Shari‘ah. Imam al-Ghazali (d. 505 AH) clearly formulated five of these in this order: Preservation of religion, life, reason (‘aql), progeny (nasl), and property.This emphasis reached its zenith with Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728 AH) and ash-Shatibi (d. 790 AH). 34
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Scholars have since disagreed about this order and about the sufficiency or exclusiveness of this list, but rarely has any great scholar, to my knowledge, rejected that the basic point that God’s law is ultimately designed without any arbitrariness to attain the ultimate welfare and felicity of humans in both worlds, this one and the eternal life to come.That obedience to divine decree will attain happiness in the Afterlife is self-evident, but the aforementioned verses, as well as the detailed analysis of Islamic law that these great scholars have undertaken, confirm that human happiness in this life is just as much the concern of Islamic Law.Therefore, in the domain of Islamic Law, the consideration of human interest (maslahah), in accordance with God’s pleasure, is the most paramount concern. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote, “the focal point of Islamic Law may be found in the words of God Almighty: “Remain, then, conscious of God as best as you can” [ittaqu Allaha ma istata‘tum, 64:16], which serves as the basis for interpreting God’s words: “Be conscious of God as is His due” [3:102]. Similarly, the Shar‘ rests upon the words of the Prophet: “If I give you a command, obey it to the best of your ability”—and also upon the principle that it is obligatory to seek out and perfect human interests (masaalih) and to minimize and neutralize that which causes harm and corruption. If there is a conflict between two interests, the fulfillment of the greater interest should be given priority over the fulfillment of the lesser one. Similarly, priority should be given to averting the greater of two evils while tolerating the lesser one” (Majmu‘ al-Fatawah, 28:248).
WHY, THEN, IS FOLLOWING ISLAM SO HARD?
ET,WHEN WE learn so persistently in Islam that God wishes for us ease and Islam is the religion of ease (yusr), a question must occur to us. Why is it hard and challenging to follow Islam—which requires, at times, great sacrifices of one’s desires, wealth, and even self—if it is supposed to be natural and easy? The answer is that ease in Islam does not mean that following Islam requires no effort, but that it is natural—in perfect accordance with the nature or constitution (fitrah) upon which God has created humankind. It is human nature to develop, grow, and prosper through challenges and difficulties as much as through Allah’s blessings. It is of the essence of who we are as a creature to be spurred by loss as much as by gain, and to improve and advance through discipline and challenge. It is the most fundamental drive in the divinely ordained human nature to seek excellence, and, indeed, perfection, just as it is it is part of
“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship” fectly crafted way of life, which is in consonance with all of the aspects, requirements, and drives of human nature. Of course, the interpretation of God’s commands is challenging and compound. But that too is part of the challenge for human mind and soul which they need in order to grow—and, indeed, part of the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment by which Allah rewards His ‘ulama.What God has commanded, as well as what He has omitted and left for us to figure out, are all elemental aspects that make up the parts of the unified yet broad natural path—the wide path of ease—to which He has guided us.
IN ‘SOME’ DIFFICULTIES, THERE IS EASE
HIS THEME OF difficulty in what seems easy, and ease in what is apparently difficulty is clearly stated in the Qur’an. Allah the Most Exalted says in Surat al-Layl (chapter 92):
human nature to seek happiness, one immediate physical form of which is comfort and convenience. Any system of conduct that does not set high our moral aspirations even as it challenges us to be better by disciplining our souls is unfit and unworthy. Some modern philosophies such as existentialism and nihilism are the lowest state of humanity in that respect, for rarely have humans justified such aimless and decadent lives as these philosophies do. (Of course, only a tiny but influential minority clings to such ideas.The vast majority of people yearn for meaningful lives for God.) We know well by experience that to constantly seek instant gratification can be the most disastrous and uneasy path. Parents, for instance, who do not discipline their children might be taking the easy path in the short run, but we all know that such parents as well as their children are going to face the difficult consequences of their laziness and neglect all too soon.The natural path is not to merely satisfy the impulses of the moment or the physical body, but to take into account what is best in the longterm and short-term future, as well as the requirements of the body, mind, and soul. Ease of Islam, therefore, is not the “path of least resistance”—which cannot guarantee any sort of happiness, ultimate or otherwise. Rather, ease in Islam is the path of “least unnecessary difficulty” to quickest end of genuine good and gladness for one and all and ultimate happiness. God provides us, through His commandments, the per36
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By the Night as it conceals (the light); By the Day as it appears in glory; By [the mystery of] the creation of male and female; Verily, (the ends) you strive for are diverse. So he who gives (in charity) and fears (Allah), And (in all sincerity) believes in goodness, Surely We shall ease his way unto the state of ease.
“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship”
Giving charity opens the door to ease in social existence, in addition to opening up chambers of the human soul not accessible without sacrificing one’s own immediate interest—though charity is without doubt also in one’s worldly interest.
Now, by the standards of short-sighted, material calculation, we see three things: (1) To give is harder than to hoard, (2) to believe in the Unseen God appears harder than to deny anything beyond the perceptible, and (3) to believe in goodness (and hence to accept the responsibility of right conduct for oneself) appears harder than to deny any basis of goodness and to act in sheer self-interest. In godless cultures of all times, no less than those of our own day, all of these deceptive “paths of ease” have, indeed, been glorified and preferred. Capitalism today valorizes hoarding and consuming endlessly rather than giving. Materialist philosophies encourage the existentialist attitude of believing in nothing, that, hence, considers no goals and values as worth adhering to, except for mere existence and perusal of self-interest.
But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself selfsufficient, And disbelieves in goodness, Surely We shall ease his way unto adversity. These verses force us to think against the backdrop of nature—night and day, male and female—as well as taking into account tΩhe nature of man—the empirical fact that men all seem to seek different goals, and that despite all the diversity, there are ultimately two types of paths they follow:That of ease or that of adversity and dis-ease.The path of ease is marked by giving in charity and being mindful of God, while that of discomfort and adversity is marked by unbelief and covetousness. But these considerations of short-sighted self-interest are like those of an infant who impulsively wishes to hold a burning coal in her hand.To exercise some self-control and stay away from the fire would allow that infant to have the visual pleasure and warmth that the burning coal affords. Of course, this requires knowledge, and such is the key in all of this. Experience has taught us to stay away from the fire, so that it has become our beneficial servant and not a cruel master. Proper knowledge and self-discipline allow us to make it easy and comfortable for us to live with fire and not make the mistake that an infant would. Similarly, Islam is the divine path of ease, yusr, that makes this life easy by guiding us along the path that makes the many fires of human passion our beneficial servants, not our cruel masters. These verses of the Qur’an therefore reverse that order of shortsighted calculation. Giving charity opens the door to ease in social existence, in addition to opening up chambers of the human soul not accessible without sacrificing one’s own immediate interest—though charity is without doubt also in one’s worldly interest.The path of miserliness or of denying anything but material calculations, AL JUMUAH
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“God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship”
The ease of concentrated reflection on divine revelation, which, in turn, leads to the ease of knowing how to follow the straight path to a successful worldly and eternal life back to God—which gives way to yet another ease although, perhaps, easy on the surface, is ultimately the path of difficulty, pain, and regret. Human reason well attests to this, and recorded history will never let us dodge its truth or forget it. If you think about what’s just been said (and overlook the shortcomings), one cannot help but realize the profound and palpable truth of God’s words that accompany the command of fasting—God intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship. Its meaning resonates in the human soul with such a ring of truth and flash of light as to enable one to glimpse a pattern of factual pathways that connect to a whole raft of “eases” which come to us simply as a result of fasting. First and foremost, fasting in Ramadhan is a celebration of the Qur’an whose guidance it enables us to ponder more deeply, even as it frees our souls from the tentacles of so many of our passions. Forgive me if my sentences run on, but follow this: By fasting Ramadhan we come to know, for instance, the ease of concentrated reflection on divine revelation, which, in turn, leads to the ease of knowing how to follow the straight path to a successful worldly and eternal life back to God—which gives way to yet another ease:That of systematically avoiding problem-fraught choices, which, in line, enormously reduces countless stresses of life (a reduction further augmented by learning, truly, how to trust in Allah, which the sustained reflection on the Qur’an that Ramadhan affords additionally bequeaths, and which, as we noted, is now thrice enhanced in a fasting state).The combination of each one of these aforementioned “eases”—ease unto the Qur’an, ease as a result of the enlightenment sustained reflection on it gives us, the ease of good decision-making based upon its divine guidance and the stress reduction we enjoy as a result, and finally the trebling of that enlightenment as fasting suppresses our passions—all of these give way to an additional ease, which adds immense and real value to the quality of our lives, namely:The ease of minimizing or dropping contentiousness between ourselves, individually, and all others because of the self-control, divine illumination, and 38
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higher fear of God we are enjoying as a result of the multiple eases bequeathed to us by fasting. This latter improvement in our character (giving up contentiousness), of course, immediately comes to a staggering enrichment in the form of all our personal relationships, and particularly our closest ones, with husband or wife, son and daughter, mother and father, friends, neighbors, and so forth. Now, there can be no doubt that when our personal relationships become positive, our happiness quotient soars, and we ourselves become incalculably more productive—which only further elevates our happiness. In such a state—that of high contentment—it is the most natural human response to become concerned about welfare of all those around, in concentric waves beginning with those nearest you and moving out, without limit, into the world. This renewal of love in relationships, of a necessity, increases our own, and very personal, sense of self-worth and purpose, which brings about a crucial refinement: Understanding our larger human mission. Moreover, it has the effect of surrounding us with positive people of ease and latitude, motivated to help us and others around them, again in concentric waves ever outward, in the accomplishment of that human mission.This sense of togetherness creates a broadening atmosphere of support and help, which engenders—in you, and in others who now feel safe from you—evermore security in one’s life and environment—a tremendous source of anxiety unexpectedly turned into an even greater font of ease. Suddenly, we have gone from simple, circumscribed, highly doable act of very modest privation—fasting—to a global cascade of ease. And all the while, one is accruing evermore reward and ever higher approval in the pleasure God, which inures to one’s ultimate benefit and hope for felicity in the everlasting Garden Hereafter. One could go on, of course, almost endlessly detailing the connections of an infinitely elaborate latticework of how the fasting of Ramadhan—which God has specifically intended to cause our own ease to proliferate—will inevitably result, utterly miraculously and exponentially, in precisely this state of contentment, provided we give it its due right. Put another way, fasting necessarily leads to the mitigation of hardship in human life. Now look into every horizon of the world you can perceive, and into the regions of your own soul, as well. Do you not see in them both uncounted scenes of shocking hardship? Fast, then, O Muslims, in this Ramadhan even as Allah has prescribed it for you. For therein lies a pleasure worthy of the worshippers of the Lord of all the universe—a whole anguished world’s hope forever and for ease. And from God alone comes all grace and success.
FIQH OF RAMADHAN
A Ramadhan Primer on the Ritual of
BY OMAR ABDL-HALEEM
N ISLAM, I‘TIKAF refers to a form of worship in which one stays in a masjid as a way of getting closer to Allah.The word ‘i‘tikaf’ comes from the Arabic root ayn kaf fa’, represented here in English as ‘ k f, or ‘akafa, which means to adhere to a certain place for one reason or another, or to detain someone or something in a place preventing him or it from going elsewhere. �
The wisdom behind having a kind of worship like this in Islam is that when one is in the world (especially in the hustle and bustle of today’s societies) there are many distractions that cause one to forget why one is here and where one is going. So sometimes a person needs more than just the five daily salahs to revive the spirit.That is why Islam provides its followers with i‘tikaf, the option of surrendering themselves totally to God and distancing themselves as much as possible from all worldly concerns, for a time. The goal of i‘tikaf is for one to remain in the masjid and busy him or herself in salah, contemplation, reciting Qur’an, attending lessons, and such. I’tikaf is not obligatory in Islam. Rather, it is a prescribed form of worship that is strongly recommended in Ramadhan, and especially in its blessed last 10 days. In fact, the recommendation of i‘tikaf in the last 10 days of Ramadhan—seeking out Laylatul-Qadr, The Night of Empowering Decree—is so emphatic that some scholars deem it a communal sin if no one in the com40
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munity performs it during these days. There are many authentic reports of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, making i‘tikaf for exactly this duration. The Four Integrals of i’tikaf I’tikaf contains four essential elements: 1.The one who is performing it. 2.The intention to perform it. 3.The place in which it is performed. 4.The act itself (of remaining in the masjid for a period of time). The First Integral: The One Performing I’tikaf As for the one performing i‘tikaf, he must fulfill three conditions: 1. He must be a Muslim. 2. He must be of sound mind. (This condition rules out the performance of i‘tikaf by the insane, intoxicated, unconscious, or very young children who cannot sufficiently discern crucial things (a child under about five or six years of age)).This does not mean that those who fall under these categories
are not allowed to make i‘tikaf. Rather, it means that the act of remaining in the masjid is not considered an act of worship from them. (Similarly, were they to do something wrong therein, they would bear no sin). 3. He must not be in a state of major ritual impurity (janabah) (Janabah is a bodily state that requires ghusl, or ritual, whole-body bathing, occasioned by marital relations, sexual emissions, menstruation, and postpartum bleeding). Hence, neither a menstruating woman nor one in a state of post-birth bleeding can make i‘tikaf, since it is forbidden for them to remain in the masjid in that state.Also, a man or woman who has participated in a sexual union or come to orgasm must perform ghusl before making i‘tikaf, since it is likewise forbidden for them to remain in the masjid in that state. There is no disagreement that the i‘tikaf of an unmarried woman is valid. If she is married, she must have the permission of her husband to validate it. It is slightly undesirable for a woman to make i‘tikaf, especially if she is a woman of beauty and good form. When a woman makes i‘tikaf, it is desirable for her to put a curtain between herself and the men, as the wives of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, used to do.There is also nothing wrong for a man to put up a curtain around where he sleeps and makes salah, if he wants privacy.
The Second Integral: The Intention to Perform I’tikaf As for intention, as with all worship, one must deliberately make it. If the one performing i‘tikaf leaves the masjid, his i‘tikaf has ended. If he returns to make i‘tikaf again, he must renew his intention.
gral that constitutes the worship of i‘tikaf. The opinion of the majority is that intending to spend any amount of time in the masjid—even less than an hour—can be considered i‘tikaf. They agreed, however, that it is desirable for the one who wishes to perform this worship to spend at least a day and a night in the masjid because the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was never reported to have made i‘tikaf for less than that interval. It is preferable for one, as well, to fast while making i‘tikaf.
The Third Integral: The Place of I’tikaf As for the place of i‘tikaf, there is consensus among the scholars that if a man performs it anywhere other than the masjid it is invalid due to verse 2:187, which means in its related part, “for so long as you may be in ritual retreat in the mosques… ,” and due, as well, to the fact that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never made i‘tikaf anywhere other than the masjid. They also agreed that i‘tikaf in the three sacred masjids (the Haram of Makkah, then the Masjid of the Prophet in Madinah, then Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem) is better (in that respective order) than i’tikaf elsewhere, and that, similarly, i’tikaf in a “central” masjid is preferred to i’tikaf in a “peripheral,” that is, “local” masjid. The scholars differed as to whether or not a woman can make i‘tikaf in the prayer area (musalla) of her house.The majority is of the opinion that her i’tikaf in the prayer area of her house is not valid owing to what Al-Bayhaqi reported about Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) in his book AsSunnan Al-Kubra (4:316), wherein he records him as stating: “It is an innovation (bid’ah) for a woman to make i‘tikaf in the prayer area of her house.” The Hanafis were of the opinion that this is valid due to the fact that it is slightly undesirable for a woman to make i‘tikaf in the masjid.
1. Sexual Union The proof for this is verse 2:187 whose relevant meaning is “…but do not ever lie with them for so long as you may be in ritual retreat in the masajid…”The preferred opinion is intimate contact that leads to sexual union, such as kissing and touching, also invalidates the i’tikaf. 2. Leaving the Masjid Leaving the masjid unnecessarily also ends i‘tikaf, though there is relatively extensive discussion about what is considered necessary.There are no solid lines dividing what is necessary from what is not, but it is for the most part self-evident. Basically, if one leaves the masjid to shower, eat, be treated for an illness, and the like, it does not end the i‘tikaf. 3. Intoxication Whether by means of alcohol, drugs, or other substances, intoxication ends the i‘tikaf. 4. Leaving Islam This invalidates the i’tikaf. 5. The Commencement of Menstruation or Post-Birth Bleeding This ends the i‘tikaf.
The Fourth Integral: The Period of Remaining in I’tikaf As for staying in the masjid for a period of time, it is the most essential inte-
Things that Are Undesirable While in I’tikaf 1. Abstaining from Speech as a Way to Come Closer to Allah
Things that Invalidate or End I’tikaf
The reason for this is that abstention from speech as a form of worship is not prescribed in Islam. However, there is no harm in refraining from speech if there is a lack of need. 2. To Speak Needlessly or Delve into Argumentation and Conversation for Entertainment. 3. Busying Oneself with Religious Lessons that Involve Debate As to this, there is a difference of opinion regarding whether this is desirable or undesirable for the one performing i’tikaf.The evidence of those who contend that it is desirable is that learning about matters of religion is worship, as long as the intention is to benefit others or receive benefit and not to boast.The evidence of those who hold it undesirable is that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was never reported to have engaged in such discourse in i’tikaf. 4.Wearing Ostentatious Clothing What is considered “ostentatious” here depends upon what the people of the time and place deem more than ordinary neat and clean attire. What is most important to know is that the goal of i’tikaf is for one to separate him or herself from the distractions of the world.As such, those who intend the ritual retreat of i’tikaf should rid themselves of two types of corruptions of their intention and of their thoughts during their vigils, and refresh their intentions and refocus their worship often with a third remembrance.As for the first two to avoid, they are as follows: 1.To engage in competition with one another by means of i‘tikaf for the sake of family, wealth, and prestige. 2.To shun anxieties associated with harms that may come to one, or benefits that might be withheld, as a result of performing i‘tikaf. In regard to the remembrance, it is this: 3.To remind yourself incessantly that you are here for worship, and how very soon you shall return to Allah. AL JUMUAH
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FIQH OF RAMADHAN
The Sunnah of Celebrating the Day of Eid BY OMAR ABDL-HALEEM
THERE ARE TWO holidays for Muslims: Eid al-Fitr, which is the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islam’s 12 th month lunar calendar, and Eid al-Adhaa, which is the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, or the 12th Islamic lunar month.There is no celebration of any other holidays in Islam. The Meaning of the Word ‘Eid’ The Arabic word ‘Eid’ comes from the trilateral Arabic root ayn � waw � dal, represented here in English as ‘ � w � d, or ‘awada.The verbal noun, ‘awd, from which the word ‘Eid’ directly derives, means ‘returning’—and more specifically, ‘recurring’ in a cyclical fashion.Thus our two holidays are called “Eid” because they “return” every year. But the denotation of the term ‘Eid’ has been further derived to mean ‘holiday,’‘festival,’ or ‘celebration,’ for obvious reasons. The Legal Ruling of Attending Salat-ulEid (The Eid Congregational Salah) The Hanafis maintain that attending Salat ul-Eid is wajib, obligatory.They cite as proof that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, consistently performed Salat ul-Eid and was never reported to have been absent from it even once.And because it is a congregational salah, were it not wajib, they argue, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, would have missed it at least once to show its nonobligatory nature, as he did with taraweeh and the salah of eclipse. The Hanbalis classify Salat ul-Eid as a fard kifayah, “a communal obligation,” meaning that if no one in the community
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performs it, everyone in the community carries a sin, while if some attend to it, the sin is lifted from all. The Malikis and Shafi‘is hold that Salat ul-Eid is a sunnah mu‘akkadah, an “emphatically recommended” practice of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, citing the same report as the Hanafis just previously. Their evidence that it is not wajib, “obligatory,” is the well-known authentic report, narrated by both Bukhari and Muslim, wherein a Bedouin asked the Prophet if he was obligated to perform the salah for anything other than the five daily salawat.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, answered: “No.” Sunnah mu’akkadah is a term used when discussing legal rulings in Islam and is most commonly translated into English as it is here, “emphatically recommended.” It is the closest ruling to an obligation.The sunnah mu’akkadah ruling means that one who abandons such practices should be reprimanded, or even lightly punished. In a tradition narrated by Bukhari, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, taught Muslims that the entire community should participate in the celebration of Eid and come to the salah of Eid. No child—male or female—nor woman or young virgin—should be kept from coming to Salat ul-Eid, although the women who are menstruating should not enter the musallaa, that is the salah or “prayer area,” though they should attend the gathering.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, specified the attendance of “young virgins” as a means of emphasizing that
none should be kept back from the gathering for any reason. Bukhari also reports that a woman came to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, asking if she could refrain from coming to Salat ul-Eid since she lacked sufficient clothing to cover herself properly.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, instructed her to borrow a garment from a friend, and come to Salat ul-Eid. Desirable Practices of Eid The two Eids are commemorative celebrations of the successful completion of our obedience in observing two particular and major rites of worship set apart from all other kinds and times of worship by Allah. Eid al-Fitr,The Holiday of FastBreaking, marks the fulfillment of the month-long fast (and other attendant obligations) of Ramadhan. Eid al-Adhaa (The Holiday of Sacrifice), honoring the pilgrims’ completion of Hajj, specifically their descent from the Mount of ‘Arafat and their daylong remembrance, salah, and supplication to Allah.As special days of joy, there are customs of remembrance and latitude the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and the Companions observed on that day, whose wisdom we are to emulate. Here are 9 important ones: 1. INTENSIFY EID-EVE WORSHIP: It is desirable for one to make the night of Eid (that is the night preceding Eid day) lively with acts of worship,
such as thikr, uttering remembrances of Allah, and nawafil (extra) salah, and by glorifying Allah much, in general, and asking for His forgiveness.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was reported to have said: “One who makes the night of Eid lively for the sake of Allah, his heart shall not die on the day hearts die.”This is a weak hadeeth narrated by Al-Haythami in his book Majma‘ alZawa’id (book 2, no.198).The point of this practice of filling Eid eve with worship is to protect our hearts from abrupt spiritual collapse with the passing of Ramadhan. 2. MAGNIFY ALLAH MUCH ON EID MORNING: It is desirable to say Allahu Akbar much on the morning of Eid, at home, in the market, and while walking or riding along streets and roads.This should continue until the commencement of the Salat ul-Eid. 3. DRESS UP: A. MEN It is desirable for a man to bathe, anoint himself with perfume, dress well, and adorn himself with a turban for Salat ul-Eid. In an authentic tradition reported by Ibn Sakan,Aisha said: “The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “What is it for any one of you to have two garments: One for his livelihood and one for Jumuah and Eid” (see Ibn Hajar’s Talkhees Al-Habeer (The Estimable Abridgement, book 2, no. 70).
B.WOMEN It is desirable for women to wear neat and clean clothing, in accordance with the proper attire of hijab, breaking the body form, including limbs, and fully covering hair and limbs. But it is undesirable for them to don decorative, “attractive” garments, in the literal meaning of that word.This caution against public feminine adornment on Eid is a social safeguard, to prevent men from looking upon women with any sense other than a general admiration for their honor as Allah’s successful servants and their dignity as fellow believers.The fine but unornamented garments of women on Eid thwarts the impulse in men to conceive a specific desire for their persons. 4.TAKE DIFFERENT ROUTES TO AND FROM SALAT UL-EID: It is authentically reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, would take one route to the place of Salat ul-Eid, and another in his return from it (more at item 6). 5. GREET AND CONGRATULATE: When Muslims meet one another on the day of Eid, they should greet each other with joyous faces and congratulate each other for the blessing of the great spiritual accomplishment they have achieved in fasting, standing for extra salah, giving charity, paying the fitr payment, and controlling their lower desires in Ramadhan, for the Companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, have been widely reported as doing just this. 6.VISIT FAMILY AND FRIENDS: One of the great purposes of Eid is for family and friends to visit one another. In an authentic tradition narrated by Bukhari,Aisha tells of her father,Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq, visiting her on the day of Eid.Also, Ibn Hajar Al-‘Asqalani, in his magisterial explanation of Sahih AlBukhari, Fath ul-Bari, says that one of the valid interpretations of the wisdom behind the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, coming back from Salat ul-Eid by means of a different route than the one
taken to get there was to visit his relatives living in different areas. 7. ENJOY AMUSEMENT AND PLAY: It is appropriate to have wholesome entertainment, as well as to frolic and sing on Eid day. In the above mentioned tradition, transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim, Aisha narrates how she had two young girls (children) at her house on the day of Eid who were singing the epic of Bu‘aath, which tells of a notorious battle between the Aws and Khazraj before Islam.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, entered upon them while they were in that state and did not prohibit them. Rather, he lay down on his bedding and turned his face in the other direction. (There is no dispute among the scholars that if the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, sees something and does not speak out against it, it is ‘tacitly” permissible.) Then Abu Bakr entered and rebuked Aisha exclaiming: “The instrument of the devil in the house of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam!”The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, turned to him and said: “Leave them, O Abu Bakr. For, indeed, there is for every people a holiday, and this is our holiday.” In another tradition narrated by Bukhari and Muslim, a group of Abyssinians were entertaining the people of Madinah on Eid, with a spear and leather-shield dance, and the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, granted Aisha permission to watch the ceremony. 8.CEMTERY VISITATION IS PERMISSIBLE: There is no harm in visiting the cemetery on Eid, greeting the deceased and supplicating God for them. Muslim reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “I had forbid you from visiting the graves. Now (I advise you to) visit them, for they are reminders of the Afterlife.” Muslim also reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Visit the graves because they are reminders of death.” Some scholars, Ibn Sireen, Ibrahim AnNakha‘i, and Ash-Sha‘bi notable among AL JUMUAH
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FIQH OF RAMADHAN
them, deemed it offensive for one to visit the cemetery on Eid, or any other day. Their reason was to prevent any kind of ancestor-worship from creeping into the belief and devotions of unknowing Muslims. The accurate opinion, however, is that there is no harm—on the contrary there is benefit—in one going to the graves to be reminded of the inevitability of the Hereafter, as well as to supplicate God on behalf of deceased relatives (especially a righteous son who makes duaa for his father), so long as the one visiting does not do anything that is not prescribed in Islam, such as putting flowers on the grave. 9.THE IMAM SHOULD ADDRESS WOMEN IN AN EXCLUSIVE GATHERING: It is desirable for the community leader to address the women congregants separately and specifically after Salat ul-Eid with words of admonition, in the sense of advice about things to do and not do that relate to their concerns expressly.They should be instructed, as well, by way of reminder, of the important duties in their religion, and also directly exhorted to individual acts of charity. Bukhari reports the following hadeeth: Ibn Jurayj said: “Ata told me: ‘I heard Jabir ibn Abdullah say:The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, stood up on the day of [Eid] AlFitr and led us in the salah.Then he gave a sermon and when he finished, he descended [from the pulpit] and went to the women and reminded them while he was leaning on Bilal’s arm. Bilal spread the front of his garment out before him and the women were tossing charity [for the poor] into it.” This shows that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was keen to involve the women of the community directly and independently in the various activities and righteous deeds of Eid. Indeed, every member of the community should participate in and celebrate with joy, Eid al-Fitr. Eid Mubarak.
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The Unrestricted Number of Taraweeh Rak‘ahs
BY OMAR ABDL-HALEEM
1. What Is Salat at-Taraweeh? Salat al-Taraweeh is a congregational salah that Muslims perform in Ramadhan.The word ‘taraweeh’ comes from the trilateral Arabic root raa � waw � haa, represented here in English as r � w � h.The word rahah,‘rest’ in English, is derived from this root. Tarweehah is a single specified “rest” (as opposed to “rest,” in general). ‘Taraweeh’ is plural for ‘tarweehah.’ So Salat at-Taraaweeh literally means “The “Prayer (Salah) of Rests.” Its name comes from the practice of the Companions, who took intermissions of “rest” after every four rak’ahs, or “cycles” of salah, performing them in sequences of “two by two…,” as specified by the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, to an inquiring Bedouin about nafl salah in the night, reported in Bukhari and Muslim.We learn from this, as well, that it is healthy when engaged in work or worship to take small breaks, now and again. 2. What Is the Legal Ruling of Salat at-Taraweeh? Salat at-Taraweeh is a sunnah
mu’akkadah, “emphatically recommended,” for men and women. It is recommended that it be performed in congregation, jama‘ah, in the masjid. If one cannot make it to the masjid, then one performs it in congregation with the members of the household. It is also recommended for the imam to stop for a short break after every four rak’ahs, as did the Companions. During this rest it is best for those following to sit in quiet contemplation or utter remembrances of Allah.The imam should try to complete recitation of the entire Qur’an at least once in the Salat at-Taraweeh of Ramadhan. 3. How Salat at-Taraweeh Was Established in Islam The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, established the performance of Salat at-Taraweeh by his actions. Aisha reported that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, entered the masjid in the depth of the night (during Ramadhan) and led some Companions in salah.The following morning people discussed what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, did and the next night more people made salah
with the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, than the first.The third night the people increased even more and the fourth night the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, did not come to the masjid until the morning salah.When he completed the morning salah, he faced the people and testified to the oneness of Allah (by way of introduction) and said: “As to what follows: I was not unaware of your awaiting my arrival, but I feared that (Salat atTaraweeh) would become obligatory for you and that you would be unable (to fulfill this obligation).” After the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, passed to his Lord, the fear of Salat at-Taraweeh becoming an obligation was removed. So there was no harm in officially establishing it in the masjid. So Umar Ibn Al-Khattab commanded the Companions to perform Salat at-Taraweeh in congregation in Ramadhan and all consented.This action of Umar was based on what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, did and was not a bid’ah, “heretical innovation.”The legality of Salat atTaraweeh is further established by the consensus of the Companions. 4. What Is the Relationship Between Salat at-Taraweeh and Qiyam alLayl? Salat at-Taraweeh is in actuality a form of qiyam al-layl, “performing extra salahs at night.” So, from the standpoint of Islamic jurisprudence, Salat at-Taraweeh and qiyam al-layl are synonymous.The differences between them are strictly semantic due to the fact that Salat at-Taraweeh become known as the qiyam al-layl specifically performed in congregation in Ramadhan, usually shortly after the Isha salah, “the Nightfall salah.” 5. How Many Rak’ahs Is Salat atTaraweeh? In light of the fact that Salat atTaraweeh is simply an extra salah (nafl), there is no disagreement among the
scholars that it can be any number of rak’ahs. However, despite the agreement of the scholars, the number of rak‘ahs in Salat at-Taraweeh has sometimes become a point of contention, especially among the diverse Muslim community in America. There are two reasons for this: 1. Lack of knowledge about this issue. 2. The hadeeth narrated by ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never exceeded 11 rak‘ahs of nafl salah at night, whether in Ramadhan or any other month (Bukhari and Muslim). As for the first cause, it can easily be remedied by educating people on the rulings pertaining to Salat at-Taraweeh. Misunderstanding of the hadeeth, however, has lead some people to think that 11 rak‘ahs is a limit, anything more being a bid‘ah and, therefore, invalid. The proofs that taraweeh can be any number of rak‘ahs is the following: a. The Companions performed Salat at-Taraweeh in 21 rak‘ahs (sahih, Muwatta), as well as 23 rak‘ahs (sahih, no. 3270, Al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunan AlKubraa) and there was consensus among them that this was permissible. b. Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz (widely known as the “Fifth Caliph”) used to perform Salat at-Taraweeh in 39 rak‘ahs. c. In the hadeeth cited above, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said to the Bedouin who asked him how to perform the salah of the night only “two-by-two…,” setting no limit
(Bukhari and Muslim).The most any such scholars have articulated is a preferred number. d. The vast majority of the ummah—including the imams of the four major legal schools— concur that there is no restriction as to the number of supererogatory salah (nafl), in the permitted times, and taraweeh is a nafl salah. e. The above-mentioned tradition states that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never “exceeded” 11 rak‘ahs in nafl “salah at night.”This undoubtedly includes what we would call Salat at-Taraweeh, or qiyam al-layl. So if one says it is forbidden to perform more than 11, then anyone who had performed Salat at-Taraweeh, could not pray anything at home on one’s own—even during LaylatulQadr, or at any other time—and the invalidity of this opinion is obvious. For while there is a text specifying the number of rak‘ahs the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, performed, there is none putting a maximum limit to it. f. It is offensive to place rigid boundaries where Allah has left open space for people. For some it is easier to perform many short rak‘ahs, while others prefer a lesser number of longer rak‘ahs. 6.What are the benefits of Salat atTaraweeh? The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “The best salah after the obligatory salah is that of the night” (Muslim). He also said: “One who stands [for qiyam al-layl for the month of] Ramadhan—believing and seeking the reward of Allah—shall be forgiven all his previous sins.” We ought to take this as the strongest reminder and incentive to take advantage of this blessed month and be consistent and persistent in our Salat at-Taraweeh, that we may emerge from this month sound of heart and sinless. AL JUMUAH
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FIQH OF RAMADHAN
Contemporary Nullifiers of Fasting BY AHMAD M. AL-KHALIL
N RECENT DECADES many developments in medical testing and treatment have posed fiqh challenges and raised original legal questions for Muslim jurists across nearly all the sub-disciplines of Islamic Law. But this has been particularly true with regard to siyam, or fasting—especially in the fiqh of what is termed fasting’s “nullifiers,” or “invalidators,” that is, “things”—meaning substances or objects—that break one’s fast. While a collective of contemporary scholars of the Islamic Jurisprudence Assembly dissected and defined a number of these new issues, for the most part it is the accumulation of fatawa from individual mujtahids, or fiqh practitioners, that have constituted, or reconstituted, this branch of our current Shari‘ah understanding.A number of these discussions have found their way to publication in general works on the ahkam, or rules, of fasting. But I know of no book or independent study that has collected and classified these fasting nullifiers in a single volume.That is what I have attempted in my own recent work:To itemize and explain in a systematic investigation all of the categories of siyam invalidators (at least as they have been thus far clarified) in light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, and in view of the authenticated opinions of the earliest Muslim fuqaha or jurists, may Allah’s mercy be upon them all. This is a subject of central importance, for it touches almost every Muslim individual and home.Yet it is also an expansive one, far too extensive to receive full discussion in this forum. Still, a brief introduction to the emerging fiqh conception of modern medical fasting nullifiers is certainly valuable—indeed, necessary—and that is our purpose here: To give one an idea of the major concepts at issue in the discussion of our jurists, along with an understanding of how complex the application of juristic theories about fasting invalidation can become when a scholar attempts to wed that theory to the new tremendously intricate reality. So with this in mind, I think it is important for us to look at, first, the basic juristic notion of what is termed ‘al-jawf,’ or the meaning and limits of the “inside” of the human body.Then we can illustrate how that understanding impinges on opinion through a look at two instructive examples of “fasting nulli-
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fiers.” For those whose interests become sufficiently whetted, a much fuller discussion is soon to be made available, inshaAllah, online at aljumuah.com. Fasting Nullifiers (Al-Mubtilaat) AL-MUBTILAAT OF the siyam is the specialized Arabic term for what we’ve been translating as “fasting nullifiers.” It refers to those acts that once committed by the faster, or that happen to him or her, render one’s fast legally invalid.To cite three well-known nullifiers, virtually all Muslims are aware that there is unanimous agreement (ijma‘) among the fuqaha over the following universal mubtilaat: Eating, drinking, and sexual union.The legal proof for each of these is inferred from this verse of the Qur’an: “So now, have relations with them (your wives or husbands) and seek whatever (offspring) Allah has decreed for you. Moreover, you may (now) eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the black thread of (night).Then complete the fast until the night (i.e., sunset)” [2:187]. Menstruation is a fourth well known and agreed upon fasting nullifier for women. Legal evidence in support of this claim is found in the hadeeth of Bukhari which was narrated by Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, who reported that Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Is it not true that a woman does not make salah and does not fast when menstruating?” All other fasting nullifiers are directly or indirectly related to these four elements. Importantly, both early and contemporary fuqaha name and categorize these nullifiers in terms of (a) how they impact the faster,
and (b) where in his or her body their effect eventuates. Both of these qualifiers, but particularly the second, impinge directly upon the concept of al-jawf, or the person’s inner body or “inside.” In fact, most of the differences in the opinions of the jurists are directly related to their varying views regarding what delineates and constitutes the “inside” of a person, one’s jawf, and specifically as this concept coincides with the questions of how and where they nullify one’s fast. Let us look, then, at how the view of the jawf varies among our celebrated four schools of fiqh (al-mathaahib al-arba‘). Al-Jawf: Physical designation and meaning formulation EACH OF THE schools commences their discussions of al-jawf with an analysis of the various forms by which physicians introduce medicine, treatment, or tools “inside” the human body: Cutting, piercing, inserting, imbibing, etc. It is essential to understand that the main reason why scholars differed in designating al-jawf or the “inside” is the fact that the Arabic aljawf is a mushtarak word—a noun shared in by several meanings, an Arabic homonym of sorts.Thus it is open for interpretation. Based on this, there are, for our purposes, two important technical Arabic terms to keep in mind: (1) Al-ja’ifah, an adjectival form of the word al-jawf, which is any area where an incision can be made to reach one’s inside, specifically the chest, back, abdomen, sides and the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum (in a male) or between the anus and vulva (in a female).There is, therefore, no ja’ifah in the hands, legs, neck, and the mouth because an incision can’t lead to the “inside,” in the sense of aljawf; and (2) Al-ma’moomah, something that strikes the forehead, and, for our purposes, makes an incision into it, including any substance it carries into it with it. THE HANAFIS They explained their interpretation of the “inside” with reference to ‘al-ja’ifah’: Thus, according to Hanafis, the inside is not just the stomach. It is the stomach
“inside,” al-jawf (for them, the full abdomen area).
and all other organs in the abdominal area. As to the throat, they hold that “things” entering it also nullify the fast by virtue of the fact that the throat is a “passageway” to the jawf. Similarly, they rule that substances or objects entering the cavities in the head nullify fasting for they too are “passageways” to the “inside.” In fact, they deem that anything that enters any passageway to the jawf—including through the anus, urethra, and vagina—are nullifiers because they pass through them to the inside. In sum, the Hanafis, for the purpose of defining what nullifies the fast, consider the body in two ways: (1) Areas designated as jawf, and (2) channels specified as passages to the jawf.All things that enter the first, or reach it through the second are classified as nullifiers.
THE SHAFI‘IS The scholars of this school are the most extensive in designating what qualifies as the “inside”:The jawf of a person is every “hollow-cored” body area, including, but not limited to, the interiors of the ears, the skull, the urethra—even if “things” entering them do not actually reach the stomach.Therefore, substances or objects nullify the fast simply by entering the (cavity) of the mouth, and without necessarily reaching the stomach. Indeed, they go even further.They argue that the “inside” does not have to be a dietary digestive organ, as it is stipulated by what is termed the mash-hoor (widely accepted) opinion of other jurists.There are, however, scholars among them who make it a condition that the receiving organ be capable of digesting food or medicine for it to be designated as an “inside.”This is, incidentally, the opinion of Al-Ghazali in an early work, Al-Wajeez, his well-known fiqh compendium.
THE MALIKIS Maliki scholars define the jawf, or the “inside,” as the full abdominal area and not just the stomach.This is clear in many of the statements of their prominent scholars, from the early Abdurrahman alQasim in his work Al-Mudawwanah, to the more recent Muhammad Al-Kharashi in his Commentary on the Compendium of Khalil, to Abdul Baqi in his Commentary on the Muwatta of Imam Malik.They further state that “things” nullify by way of the throat—but not by going through it, but even by the mere reaching of the (beginning of the) throat, the pharynx— even if they do not pass through the pharynx and the esophagus all the way to the stomach. They differed among themselves, however, with respect to what enters through the head cavities; that is, some deem them as nullifiers while others don’t.As for the remaining body cavities, they have stipulated as a necessary condition that “things” that enter them only become fasting nullifiers when they reach the
THE HANBALIS Hanbali jurists hold that the “inside” has two distinct parts:The inside of the body (the abdomen), and the cavities of the head.Anything that reaches either of these two “insides,” they classify as a fasting nullifier. Ibn Taymiyyah further qualifies this, stating: “It is indisputable, according to our colleagues, that “substances” which reach the abdomen, or any part in the body that is linked with the abdomen, through a passageway—that these are also to be termed ‘fasting nullifiers.’” Based on this, they clarify procedures (surgical or otherwise) that entail (a) tissue cutting and penetration, or (b) the introduction of fluid through the urethra, or by way of enema, do not qualify as fast nullifiers, unless the substance or object introduced reaches the technically defined “inside.” Thus the Hanbalis appear to be of the opinion that the stomach is the “inside.” This has been clearly stated by Ibn Qudamah, who claims that a “fasting nulAL JUMUAH
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lifier is what reaches the stomach.” Other scholars like Al-Bahooti and Ibn Mifleh have made similar claims. As for the cavities of the head, their scholars differed about whether to consider them (and hence the head) as constituting an independent “inside,” where substances or objects reaching it actually nullify the fast (without having to reach the abdominal inside), or whether they nullify the fast only via the condition that a passageway exists between these head cavities and the body (abdominal) “insides.”Again, Ibn Taymiyyah writes in this regard (after mentioning that whatever reaches the head does, indeed, nullify the fast), saying: “As a result of (the fact that there is) a passageway between the head cavities and the body (the abdominal) “inside,” whatever reaches the head must attain the throat and, therefore, the “inside.” The Considered Opinion: Examining the various juristic views discussing al-jawf as being other than the aforementioned abdominal area, one may conclude that they may be grouped into two key opinions: FIRST:The fuqaha who consider “things” that reach other than the abdominal-area “inside” (the head cavities, the rectum, and such) to be fasting nullifiers. This claim is easily refuted, as advancements in biology and physiology have clearly proved that these cavities have no passage to the “inside,” as herein defined. SECOND:The fuqaha who claim that these cavities can be seen as an “inside,” independent of whether they are connected (through a physical passageway) to the “inside” or not. Included among these scholars are those who categorically claim that al-jawf, the “inside,” comprises more than the stomach. ANALYSIS: Proper examination, however, points to the fact that the physical evidence does not support this claim, either. In fact, the textual evidence, of the Qur’an and Sunnah, clearly indicates that the nullifiers of concern here are eating and drinking, and such are not of full use to a person if they do not reach
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the stomach.This simple empirical truth is considered by all fuqaha to be a “suitable cause,” and thus a perfect illah, or ratio legis (that is, “legal rationale”), the presence of which justifies the existence of a ruling (hukm) classifying something as a fasting nullifier, or the absence of which exempts something from that classification. The Selected Opinion: Hence, and Allah knows best, our conclusion is that the stomach is the only part of the human body that may be rightly designated as al-jawf, or the “inside.” CONCLUSIONS: As such, only “things” that reach the stomach may be classified as nullifiers of fast.This strongly implies that since the intestines are the medium through which the body absorbs nutrients and makes use of the food that went into and out of the stomach, then foods, drinks or nutrients made to reach “there” (that is, the intestines) in an absorbable nature, they, too, become nullifiers. Finally, I know that some physicians define al-jawf as being inclusive of the Digestive System (DS) as a whole—i.e., the mouth, the pharynx, the esophagus and the stomach.This designation, however, cannot be correct. Consider, for example, the following two situations: 1. If food reaches the esophagus but comes out again (in the case of vomiting for example) and nothing of it reaches the stomach such that one could not benefit from that food—can we, then, pronounce such a one’s fast as nullified? No one ought to assume the right to do so. 2. Since the mouth is part of our DS, this is an indication that the DS cannot be designated as an “inside,” for we have principal textual evidence that clearly excludes the mouth from being a part of the “inside.”The Sunnah has permitted the faster to rinse the mouth by introducing water into it and swishing the water around in it during ablution. And Allah knows best. Potential Fasting Nullifiers LET US NOW illustrate our discussion with two examples of suggested modern
medicinal fasting nullifiers. I’ve chosen them from a group of treatments introduced into the body through the mouth. I. INHALERS, OR INHALATORS The asthma inhaler, a common treatment device, is a canister that contains a vaporized medicinal liquid made from three components: (1) Chemical materials— pharmaceuticals, (2) water, and (3) oxygen.The user takes it by pressing down on the canister while slowly inhaling the medicinal mist produced, which passes through mouth, to pharynx, to trachea, to lungs. Its residue inevitably remains in the pharynx and some small amount may even enter the esophagus. RULINGS: As to whether the use of asthma inhalers breaks one’s fast, contemporary fuqaha are divided in accordance with two major opinions: THE FIRST OPINION: ASTHMA INHALERS DO NOT BREAK ONE’S FAST This is the opinion of Shaikhs AbdulAziz ibn Baz, Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen,Abdullah ibn Jibreen, Muhammad Al-Khayyatt and the Permanent Committee for Fatwa in Saudi Arabia. EVIDENCE: 1. Whatever enters the stomach from the inhaler through the esophagus is a very small amount compared to the amount of water leftover from mouth rinsing and snuffing (during ablution). This is explained as follows:The asthma inhaler canister contains 10 ml. of fluid, including the medicinal substance.This quantity is prepared for 200 sprays (that is to say the 10 ml. produces 200 sprays). In other words, in each spray, there is only five-hundredths of a milliliter of liquid. Each spray thus represents less than a drop of fluid, itself broken into parts,
the largest portion of which enters the respiratory system. Another portion deposits on the esophagus, and the residual may go down into the stomach.The amount descending into the stomach is exempt (from being classified as a nullifier) by analogy with mouth rinsing and snuffing (during ablution), for the residual amount of the ablution water is greater than the residual of the inhaler mist. “If a person rinses his or her mouth with fluorescent colored water, we would quickly discover the fluorescent material in the stomach. Authentic ahadeeth indicate that the amount emanating from the mouth is too miniscule to break the fast. And while this residual is small, it is unquestionably greater than the residual escaping or seeping into the esophagus from the asthma inhaler, if there be any seepage at all.” 2. The fact remains that some of the inhaler mist may or may not enter the stomach.This is a situation of doubt that calls for applying the well-known juristic principle of the primacy of certainty. Certainty cannot be displaced (in the sense of it being “effectively opposed”) by what is uncertain.Therefore, there is no solid ground for nullifying the fast based on mere possibility. 3.This is a case of faulty qiyas, imperfectly analogizing the inhaler mist to eating and drinking. Rather, in the correspondence between the two there is only a possibility of similarity.The use of asthma inhalers is not, in fact, similar to eating and drinking, but rather to needle injections—with the exception of nutritional intravenous solutions (IV). OBJECTION:The problem with this evidence is that the medicine contains some water, as mentioned previously. ANSWER:The mist coming out of the asthma inhaler evaporates after reaching the trachea and before reaching the stomach. OBJECTION: Still, a very small amount of the inhaler mist could reach the stomach.
ANSWER: 1. Physicians reported that miswak (the root of an herbal tree, the tip of which, when softened by chewing is used for cleaning one’s teeth) contains 8 chemical substances which protect the teeth and the gums from diseases.These substances dilute with the saliva and enter the pharynx.There are authentic ahadeeth, like the one reported by Bukhari, in which Amir ibn Rabi‘ah said: “I saw Allah’s Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, a countless number of times, cleaning his teeth with a miswak while he was fasting.” 2. If these substances which enter the stomach are exempt and deemed inconsequential and unintentional, whatever enters the stomach from the asthma inhaler should be exempt for the same reasons. THE SECOND OPINION: ASTHMA INHALERS BREAK ONE’S FAST THUS,THEY SHOULD NOT BE USED IN RAMADHAN, EXCEPT BY THE ILL WHEN NEEDED.AFTER RAMADHAN PASSES,THE ILL SHALL MAKEUP FOR WHATEVER NUMBER OF DAYS MISSED. This is the opinion of Dr. Fadhl Hasan Abbas, Shaikh Mohammad Al-Mukhtar As-Sulami, Dr. Muhammad Al-Alfi, Shaikh Muhammad Taqiu-ddeen AlUthmani, and Dr.Wahbah Az-Zuhayli. EVIDENCE:The only evidence I have found for this position is that the inhaler contents may reach the stomach via the mouth, which breaks the fast. OBJECTION:The first submission of evidence listed in the previous opinion above refutes this evidence. The Selected Opinion: There appears to be no conclusive evidence that asthma inhalers actually break the fast. Therefore, they are not fasting nullifiers.The evidence argued by the holders of the first opinion is well founded. In addition, their qiyas, proof by analogy, with mouth rinsing by swishing during the ablutions of Ramadhan fasters,
and as to the use of miswak is a full and correct one. And Allah knows best. II. UPPER-GI ENDOSCOPY Upper-GI Endoscopy is a visual examination of the upper intestinal tract using a lighted, flexible fiberoptic or video endoscope.The upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract begins with the mouth and continues with the esophagus, which carries food to the stomach.This instrument captures images while passing to the stomach through the mouth and the esophagus, helping physicians to diagnose diseases, such as ulcers, and the like. Before discussing the ruling of Upper GI Endoscopy, we must first mention a juristic (fiqhi) matter upon which to build our ruling: Does everything that enters the stomach break the fast, or is that limited to nourishing substances only? The Maliki scholar Ibn Rushd (d. 595 AH) stated the question best: “The reason for their [scholar] disagreement over this question stems from whether qiyas, proof by analogy, can be correctly applied to what is known to be non-nutritional based on what certainly is.And since the textual evidence (from the Qur’an and the Sunnah) gave explicit reference only to foods and drinks two interpretations developed: Scholars who held that the purpose of fasting is to be understood and evaluated rationally did not accept such qiyas (that is to say, treating foods and non-foods as analogous). Scholars who maintained that fasting is purely ritual and that the worship of God does not lend itself to a rational meaning, defined the aim of fasting as a prohibition on anything reaching the stomach (that is, the “inside” of the body, as explained above). Thus they declared food and non-food items to be equals in this regard, as to fasting’s purpose” (Bidayat’ul Mujthid 2:153, available in English as “The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer”). AL JUMUAH
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RULINGS: As with the previous fiqhi illustration, contemporary fuqaha hold two major opposing positions: THE FIRST OPINION:THE MAJORITY OF SCHOLARS, PAST AND PRESENT, OPINE THAT WHATEVER ENTERS THE STOMACH—EVEN IF IT IS NON-NOURSHING OR NONDIGESTIBLE—BREAKS THE FAST For example, the intentional swallowing of a piece of metal, gravel, or the like breaks a person’s fast.This is the opinion of the Four Fiqh Schools.The Hanafis, however, add the condition that the object must be completely contained in the stomach such that nothing of it is connected to something outside the stomach. EVIDENCE: 1.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, instructed Muslims to avoid the use of kohl, which can enter from the eye to the throat while fasting, despite the fact that kohl is a non-nourishing substance. Hence, it is concluded that it is not necessary for that the “entering” substance be nourishing for it to break the fast. OBJECTION:This hadeeth was rejected by Yahya ibn Ma‘een and Imam Ahmad, who ranked it as a weak narration—unacceptable. 2.The general evidence from the Qur’an and the Sunnah actually prohibit eating and drinking. Based on this, the issue of “non-nourishables” and “nondigestibles” becomes a part of point of contention. OBJECTION:This evidence is a part of the point of contention since the disagreement is as to whether we can call such an action “eating” or not. 3.To fast is to abstain from everything that reaches the stomach. It is acceptable lexically to say: “So-and-so eats mud,” or “eats stone.”
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OBJECTION:The required abstinence must refer to something relevant [to the discussion].The issue, then, is this: “What must the faster abstain from?” In Arabic [and others languages], it is the case that people [commonly or] always associate eating with food. In addition, there is a qudsi hadeeth (a divine pronouncement) which implies what we should refer to when we talk about eating: “...he [My fasting servant] abstains from his diet and drink, for My sake…”Therefore, to classify anything that enters the stomach as a fasting nullifier, it should fulfill the requirement of being food or drink. 4.The narration that Ibn Abbas said: “Fasting is nullified by what enters not what exits”—for example, food as opposed to vomit. THE SECOND OPINION: FASTING IS NULLIFIED BY NOTHING THAT ENTERS THE STOMACH, EXCEPT FOOD OR DRINK. This is the opinion of Al-Hasan ibn Salih and some Maliki scholars. It is also the opinion adopted by Ibn Taymiyyah. EVIDENCE: 1. The intent of using the words ‘food’ and ‘drink’ in the texts of the Qur’an and hadeeth related to fasting is exactly that: Food and drink, as this is universally known by people, and toward whom the texts are actually directed. Obviously, food as mentioned in the texts, does not include “eating” gravel, swallowing coins, etc.This is why the renowned Arabic lexicographer Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad defined food simply by stating: “Food is known.” 2. Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, declared “food and drink” fast breakers—because they nourish and strengthen the fasting person’s body, and not merely because they enter the stomach. Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The faster was banned from eating and drinking because they strengthen one.Thus one is supposed to give up the food which regenerates the blood stream in which Satan “flows” (a reference to the well-known hadeeth).This is a byproduct
of diet and has nothing to do with injections, or eyeliners such as kohl. The Accepted Opinion: The first opinion is more conservative (and thus safer regarding one’s religion).Yet the second has the benefit of stronger evidence. CONCLUSIONS: As such, we may say of endoscopy: 1.The Maliki, Shafi‘i and Hanbali schools consider whatever enters the stomach—food or non-food—to nullify the fast.Therefore, endoscopy in their ruling is a fasting nullifier. 2.The Hanafi school also holds that whatever enters the stomach, food or non-food, nullifies the fast, with the stipulation that it must be completely contained inside the stomach.Therefore, since part of the scope in endoscopy remains outside the body (the stomach), the rule that endoscopy does not nullify the fast. 3. As for the scholars who deem that only nourishing materials that enter the stomach break the fast, they rule that endoscopy does not nullify the fast.This is the opinion of Shaikh Muhammad Bakheit and Shaikh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen. In my view, it is clear that classifying endoscopy as a non-fast-breaker is the strongest opinion. Passing a scope down the stomach is no more than a procedure that has nothing to do with food, eating, or drinking.Any addition of a nourishing substance, however, like gels, to ease the entrance of the scope down to the stomach, does, indeed, break the fast because it is certainly a food-like substance. And Allah knows best.
Ahmad Muhammad Al-Khalil has a Ph.D. in Shari’ah and is an assistant professor in Al-Qassim University, Saudi Arabia, Faculty of Usuluddeen. He is the author of many books including, “Mufattirat As-Siyam AlMu’asirah,” from which this article was abridged and translated by Nabil Darwish.
(Food) Crisis Averted Bringing Barakah Back to the Table BY AMIRA MURPHY
OOD IS THE new gold, say investors and market analysts, and we had better get our (inedible) shares of it while the prices are high and the demands even higher.
Besides economic opportunity, this catchphrase can be interpreted in terms of an alarming phenomenon that is gripping citizens of every country. Food, the very bounties of this vast earth, has become a commodity that is quickly slipping out of the reach of millions.The estimated 1 billion people who are living on less than $1 a day, never qualifying to be a substantial part of their nations’ economies, have been placed in a dismal situation. In (Muslim!) countries like Mauritania, planning one meal has become a weekly endeavor with parents often choosing to forgo the meager scraps that are mustered in unavailing attempts to sustain their extremely malnourished children. The food is there, mind you, but the prices are so obscene that the one-dollar earned will buy only a fraction of what it did just last year. Similar conditions have been copied and pasted to more than 37 different countries, while citizens of economically developed countries have been reduced to coupon-clipping, bargain-hunting, eatat-homers—not as heart-wrenching a description, but significant in its own right. Undoubtedly, we have all been affected by inflated food prices. We can criticize the intricate economic lattice that has been tangled into an insufferable knot, one that cannot be undone by governments or United Nation Programmes, but chances are 52
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we will be left tired, frustrated, and…hungry.Whether we like it or not, these high food prices are here to stay.The cost of living will go up, and we will all be paid the same, but we must go on living (and eating). In these trying times, we hear an endless parade of compound words like “costeffective” and “fuel-efficient,” but once these words are prescribed for things we put in our mouth, chew, and swallow, we should be more than afraid. I stand at the grocery checkout as light, easy-listening music is droned out by the succession of beeps emitted incessantly by dozens of price scanners. I watch as food, sneakily packaged in smaller containers with heavier price tags, travels down the conveyer belt and across the threshold, changing the digits on the price display exponentially. A thought crosses my mind: we strive to find cost-efficient ways to live, but if we want to maintain a diet of good, wholesome food, a different approach has to be taken.We need to
focus on the “barakah-efficiency” of our eating habits. How do we maximize the blessings and benefits of our meals? Is it possible to have less and still feel fulfilled? Can anything be done to change a mundane act into something that will strengthen me both physically and spiritually, both here and in the Hereafter? The longer I go on in life, the more I am blessed to see that all of the world’s problems have their solutions in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The practices of Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, are the best of practices and emulating him while seeking the pleasure of Allah is the way to spread barakah to every aspect of our lives. His Sunnah is ever the ultimate etiquette. So here are 9 steps in the path of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, that you can take to maximize the barakah benefits of your next (and every) meal: 1. EAT AS AN ACT OF WORSHIP: I remember an imam telling a younger me that any and every action done can be a way to worship Allah. “Anything?” I asked. “Anything,” he smiled, “even playing basketball.” I have never liked basketball, but the point was made. By intending to perform an action to please Allah and to improve ourselves in His Worship, the action itself becomes a blessed form of worship. So the proverbial phrase “food for the soul” can denote a more literal meaning! Intend to eat to maintain the strength and health to correctly worship The Sustainer.We should make all of our meals a source of spiritual sustenance, as well as physical maintenance.
2. BEGIN GRACIOUSLY: Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “When one of you eats, he should mention Allah’s name (i.e., say bismillah). If he forgets to mention Allah’s name at the beginning, he should say (when he remembers):‘I begin in the name of Allah in its beginning and its end*’” (Abu Dawud and Tirmithi).We hear of various ways that Satan hinders our pursuit of Paradise, taking pleasure in our follies. According to a report in Muslim, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, explained that Satan partakes in a meal that was not initiated with the name of Allah. Imagine you are very hungry and have just completely destroyed a plate of food only to feel as though you have eaten a small amount.We have all been there. Remove Satan from your table! I still wait for the day when we widely equate overeating with neglecting to say bismillah.There could be subtle dawah in the form of a diet book (The Bismillah Diet: LoseWeight and Attain God’s Mercy!). 3. PUT YOUR BLESSED HAND FOR WARD: In the Qur’an, the right hand is something that inspires thoughts of blessing and success: “So as to one who is given his book [of deeds] in his right hand, he, then, shall undergo an easy reckoning, and he shall return to his people rejoicing [84:79].” In Imam Nawawi’s Riyadh-usSaleheen, a section is dedicated to the performance of all good acts by the right hand.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Do not eat with your left hand for Satan eats with his left hand” (Muslim). 4. EAT TOGETHER: Some of the Companions complained to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, that they ate and did not feel satisfied.After finding out that they had eaten alone, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Eat together and recite the name of Allah.The food
will be blessed for you” (Abu Dawud). The TV is not another person. Neither is the computer. 5. STAY ON YOUR SIDE AND SIT UP: When the Prophet was teaching Umar ibn Abi Salamah the etiquette of eating, he told him to start with the name of Allah, use his right hand, and eat from the portion in front of him. It is also against the Sunnah to lie down while eating (Bukhari). 6. FIND NO FAULT IN FOOD: When something that does not suit our taste is presented to us, remember that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, never found fault with any food. If it was something he liked, he ate of it. Otherwise, he silently left it alone. 7. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: Allah tells us in the Qur’an, “...eat and drink [freely], but waste not by excess. For, indeed, [Allah] loves not those who waste by excess” [7:31]. Sometimes it takes the month of Ramadhan for us to realize that food is a blessing and a mercy from Allah. Anas ibn Malik narrated that “the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, ordered us not to leave anything in the plate and he said:‘You do not know in which bit of your food Allah has put the barakah’” (Muslim). 8. GIVE YOURSELF SOME BREATHING ROOM: Anyone who has eaten to their capacity (and beyond) knows that, while the process may have been pleasing, the discomfort and lethargy that follows is not nearly as nice as that second (+plus) serving. Said the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for his breath”
(Ahmad,At-Tirmithi,An-Nasai, Ibn Majah). 9. END THANKFULLY: No matter how down and out we may feel with our current economy, we must remember to be thankful to Allah for the sustenance He has provided.At the end of eating say: “All praise is for Allah,Who has given me this and provided for me without any effort or power on my part” (Tirmithi). Remember: Eat food, good, wholesome, and pure. For barakah is not just connected to how we eat, but also to what we eat (refer to “Eat, Drink and Be Muslim” from a previous edition of Al-Jumuah for a fantastic, comprehensive approach to eating in a God-conscious way.Also read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food). Achieving a barakah-efficient meal will cause us to reflect on how little we need in order to be sustained. It should likewise initiate heart-felt reflections on how much we have and how much others need.We should add barakah to our lives by helping quell the suffering that comes with extreme hunger and poverty. Support Muslim charity organizations that strive to ease the pain of the present food (price) crisis with the help of Allah, the Most High. A final note on the hopefully obvious: we must teach our children from an early age to lead barakah-filled lives, especially when it comes to eating. It warmed my heart to see a friend’s very young daughter, who, after grabbing a grape with her left hand, proceeded to pop it into her mouth. Just then, a peculiar look crossed her face and her brow furrowed. Instantly, her chubby fingers were searching her mouth. She removed the grape, set the morsel in her right hand, and, with a silent whisper of Allah’s name, continued her barakah-filled snack. *All Duaa are available in Arabic in Imam an-Nawawi’s Riyadh-us-Saleheen.
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Setting Goals for Ramadhan BY ABDULLAH KHAN
OALS ARE OUR anchors. “Goal-less” people drift aimlessly, without direction or destination in mind.The change in daily routine that Ramadhan brings makes the month an opportune time to set goals for (and begin) self-improvement. In the Sha‘ban 1429 AH issue, last month, we reviewed the types of goals we should pursue in Ramadhan and the underlying values for which cause we pursue them. A Brief Review In case you missed it, the ultimate and underlying goal of every believer should be to meet Allah, pleased and well pleasing.The mini-goals we set to accomplish this life mission of ours must cover all the different dimensions of our lives. Balance between our physical, spiritual, and creative components is the key to attaining true happiness in this life and the next. This spiritual element is at the core of the others (as demonstrated to us by Prophet Ibrahim). If we sincerely pursue the fulfillment of our spiritual lives, Allah promises to facilitate the other aspects of our wellbeing. Moreover, we must begin with what is obligatory and not the supererogatory. That said, we are practical beings, nonetheless, and must set and attain sensible goals. It is the small and consistent deeds that carry us to great ends. In the mundane, we often find the seeds of transcendent truth and everlasting success. So grows the great import in setting these tedious and ordinary goals. In your planning, be
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sure to make those goals SMART (Sensible, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic,Timely). Settle Your Accounts Before The Final Accounting Heedlessness of the Day of Judgment can lead to carelessness in accounting for one’s wealth.We very easily may become consumed by the desire to gain more to the point of neglecting our other responsibilities. Financial ambition can (and has) led many a devout Muslim to place work and lifestyle over worship. I know of a person who went from performing
Fajr in the masjid, to not making it at all because he had to work so much to keep his extravagant house. No one is safe from a spiritual plummet such as this.We should first and foremost pray as the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, did: “O our Lord! Make us content with whatever you provide.” And so our financial objectives in this life should complement our ultimate goal of pleasing Allah. Know that you will be asked two questions concerning your wealth on the Day of Judgment: (1) How you earned your wealth, and (2) how you spent it. With that in mind, consider these financial tips this Ramadhan: 1. If your earning is from a haram source, then your first goal should be to quit that immediately—or start working toward giving it up and cleaning your wealth from it. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “How excellent the wealth of the Muslim is, if it is collected through legal means and is spent in Allah’s cause and on orphans, the poor, and wayfarers. But he who does not take it legally is like an eater who is never satisfied.Thus his wealth will be a witness against him on the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhari). 2. If your source of earning is halal, then focus on purifying your wealth by fulfilling any obligations you may have concerning zakah. 3. Next, maximize your savings for the Hereafter by spending your wealth for the sake of Allah in Ramadhan.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was the most generous of us all.Yet his generosity increased even more before and during the month of Ramadhan. Social Goals Muslims should be sincere in their dealings with others and strive not to
harm them.We are exhorted to be quick to forgive when wronged and must love for others what they love for themselves.Allah, the Just, on the Day of Judgment, will not forgive a harm done by someone to another until and unless that person seeks forgiveness from the one he/she has harmed or the harmed one is compensated for the wrong done to them by the one who harmed him/her. Keep the following in mind as you set goals for your social life in Ramadhan: 1. Forgive those who harmed you in any way, even if you were right (meaning, hold no grudges). 2. Hearts become softer in Ramadhan. It’s a good time to repair damaged relationships. Allah says: “Indeed, the believers are not less than brethren.Thus, set aright [relations] between your brothers. And fear Allah, so that you may be shown mercy” [49:10]. 3. Ramadhan events provide excellent opportunities to mend (and start) relationships. Invite friends and family who you’ve fallen-out with for an iftar at your home. Have iftars for neighbors and others you would like to connect with. 4. Spend more time with your family.Take your family to the masjid on a daily basis for iftar and for the taraweeh salah.
Physical Goals Our bodies are a trust from Allah (as are our time and wealth).We are accountable for what we do with our bodies and how we maintain them. Our own body parts will either testify for or against us on the Day of Judgment.We will also be questioned as to what we have consumed to sustain our bodies. Health is important. Check these suggestions out: 1. Control what you eat. Our food must be halal.The quality must be wholesome.The quantity must be moderate. As your eating habits inch closer to these ideals, you will become healthier, both physically and emotionally. 2. Purify your body parts by pulling them away from prohibited acts and engaging them in God-pleasing acts. a. If your tongue is occupied in gossip, cease this and occupy your tongue in thikr. b. If your hands are used to manipulate scantily clad characters in a video game, then busy them with helping someone out. c. If your ears are absorbed in music, then change the tune: Start listening to and reciting Qur’an more. Ramadhan contains its own motivational energy, free for all to access. Take advantage. Remember, the obligatory duties are priority.And goal number one should be to maintain those duties throughout the year, not just in Ramadhan. Be balanced, as well. Umar ibn Al-Khattab said: “Audit yourselves before being audited,” meaning by Allah on Judgment Day. Use this blessed month to step back, evaluate yourself, and reset your intentions. Then adjust your reality. May Allah make Ramadhan a blessed means by which we attain His pleasure and forgiveness, and a source of positive change in the lives of each and all of us. Ameen!
On the Proper Usage of the Terms ‘Sahoor’ and ‘Suhoor’
HE ARABIC WORD ‘sahoor’ means the food and drink of night’s end.The well-known lexicologist, Al-Azhari, notes:The noun ‘sahoor’—with the Arabic letter “seen” vocalized with a “fath,” represented in English as ‘sa’—is a name denoting what is eaten at that time, that is the “meal” itself.The mention of sahoor, in this ‘fath’ form, occurs in more than once place in the hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. According to Ibn Al-Atheer:‘Sahoor,” with the Arabic letter ‘seen’ vocalized with a ‘fath’ is a name for what one eats and drinks at night’s end. When the Arabic letter ‘seen’ is vocalized with a ‘dhammah’— represented in English as ‘su,’ as in ‘suhoor’— the term is a verbal noun, and thus indicates the “action” itself, that is, actually eating at that time of night’s end. Most of what has been narrated from the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, mentioning sahoor occurs with the “fath” vocalization, as in sahoor. It has been said, however, that the correct vocalization is with the dhammah, as in suhoor, for with the “fath” vocalization, as in sahoor, it means the “food’ or the “meal” of that time, while the blessing is, in fact, in the action of eating the food at that time, not the food itself. Thus, the meal of night’s end is properly sahoor, and the action of eating it at night’s end is suhoor.
Lisan al-‘Arab, 4:351 see sahara (sin � haa � raa)
BY ZAINAB KHAN
THE RAMADHAN CONFESSIONS OF
A SPIRITUAL WANNABE
LIVE A block away from a large, active masjid and two Muslim schools in the midst of a populous Muslim city. So Ramadhan has always come to my community with great anticipation and excitement. Evenings of taraweeh, numerous iftars, and early morning salah crowd this month of blessings. 56
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But while I have enjoyed the spirit of Ramadhan’s special motion, dare I say that I never mourned its passing nor understood why people were so sad to see it end. And though completing a whole month of fasting, taraweeh and tahajjud salah, and reading the entire Qur’an were ever and intently pursued Ramadhan goals of mine—feats I had to accomplish before any feast— still I never tasted that sweet feeling of closeness to Allah, resplendent and exalted, the enjoyment and tranquility that is supposed to descend upon one steeped in ‘ibadah. You may know what I’m talking about:That sense of humility and tenderness that seems to overwhelm the worshipper as she stands in salah, crying out to her Lord for forgiveness and mercy; the pure joy that appears to suffuse one after completing the rigors of a sustained daily thikr, or the contentment rumored to wash over a young man at the end of a day of nafil fasting. Such emotions always eluded me, Ramadhan after Ramadhan, even though I filled my days and nights with worship. I watched the tears flow from the eyes of a long row of women during the duaa al-qunut, mistrusting their sincerity.Was this all a show? Do people today really love salah? Are people now genuinely that moved by the verses of the Qur’an? The cynic in me doubted others’ emotional displays.Yet my heart told me there must be truth in it—that the worship of Allah, Exalted and Most High, must necessarily produce intense emotion. (Not to mention the fierce competitive streak in me needed to make sure I wasn’t outdone in my service to Allah, Exalted and Most High, by anyone else.) As hard as I wanted to claim the title of “rational pragmatic,” I knew I felt something akin to that feeling, the intensity of God’s Oneness and greatness, when I gazed up at night, and saw the moon waxing bright, fixed
into the dark black sky. It was nothing short of overwhelming to reflect upon the vastness of the galaxies that stretched far beyond my conception of time and space, and to think of the Originator of those Heavens, this Earth. My soul stirred, and I knew it was a sincere response to the recognition of my Creator’s might. I knew also that reflection upon the ayat of the Qur’an could—no, would—elicit the same emotion in me that looking at the skies and pondering the ayat in nature produced. I wanted so badly to be a great worshipper of Allah, Exalted and Most High, deliberate and systematic in my daily ‘ibadah. So I began to do what I thought would be best: I prayed for it. I begged Allah, Exalted and Most High, to make me a sincere and intense worshipper. Nothing stood in my way more than these two giant impediments: Knowledge (or, rather, the lack of it) and laziness (or shall I say its plentiful supply).When you don’t know much about the amazing world of ‘ibadah, it’s hard to transcend the daily motions of salah. Not understanding or fully comprehending the words we recite in salah and with which we to our Lord for our most ardent desires severely weighs down our spiritual flight and limits our communion with our Creator. To be unaware of why we do the things we do, or where our rituals come from, or what reward lies in store for our performance of them can make a simple thing like saying subhaanallah wa bihamdihi a hundred times, feel like nothing more than word-repetition rather than spiritual release for the guilt-ridden servant of Allah, the 100 keys unlocking the promise of divine forgiveness for a sea of sins, even if they frothed endless like the foam on the tides of all the oceans. Now onto to the distasteful obstacle that no one really wants to admit to—
Hundreds of people that probably live near you and millions upon millions of those who share the planet with you, all put their life on hold, in a manner of speaking, to worship Allah, Exalted and Most High, as they’ve never worshipped Him before. laziness. It takes a lot of spiritual energy and commitment to put down that book, close your internet browser, turn off the television, and tell yourself you are going to pray your heart out this Maghrib salah. It means working for it, sacrificing for it, and making a long-term investment in your spiritual self to see results. It means reading Qur’an every day, even if you find yourself too busy to do anything else. But I will tell you this: Once you experience the feeling of performing a “real” rak‘ah, a worshipful stand between the Hands of Allah that holds something of the focus, the vision, the ardor He is worthy of, when you finish it with deep concentration, you can never go back—back to the distracted, thoughtless, shell of a rak‘ah you used to make. I began by mentioning Ramadhan because it was in this blessed month of revealed miracles, one year of my life, that I finally wept, in the quiet of my room, from the gratitude I felt for having the blessing of faith. Some years before, Ramadhan was the month that I finally broke away from the incessant outward activities that have come to define it for us— iftar parties, sleepovers, etc.—and devoted myself to the quiet worship of Allah, Exalted and Most High. A few years before that, it was the month I became regular in my five daily salahs,
after longing and praying to Allah, Exalted and Most High, to make me consistent. The same blessing is there for you. There is no better time for you to become the worshipper you want to be, than in Ramadhan. Opportunity surrounds you. Hundreds of people that probably live near you and millions upon millions of those who share the planet with you, all put their life on hold, in a manner of speaking, to worship Allah, Exalted and Most High, as they’ve never worshipped Him before. We all commence and culminate together, giving each other the moral support and brotherly companionship necessary to make this month a pivotal point in our spiritual lives.We put away our music CDs, move the T.V. into the basement, and find time we say we never have to do salah for hours in the masjid.The collectivity with which Ramadhan begins and ends is a mercy from Allah, Exalted and Most High, letting us know we are not alone in our quest to make this month a blessed one. Banish the laziness and the darkness of ignorance. Fill your days and nights with the light of worship—with thikr, salah, supplication, and reciting Qur’an. Learn about what you can do to make the most of your Ramadhan and then do it. Set small goals that you can easily do but that go a long way. Keep in mind that the most beloved deeds with Allah are the consistent ones though they be little.This may be the month that Allah, Exalted and Most High, apportions for you your place in Paradise. It may be that your heightened worship this month will strike the proper chord that will rouse your heart, awaken your soul, and revive your spirit. Here now is the month that brought down the Book the eons waited for. My brother. My sister. Cease your revelation! AL JUMUAH
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To Comprehend a Nectar BY MARRYAM HALEEM
And when I become ill, then He is the One who heals me.
CERTAIN SWEETNESS comes with sickness. It’s the sugar of truth and reality.As for the honeyed truth, it is that you cannot possibly be alone in this world, left to impersonal chance—left and never a thing even to be remembered.The reality is that you are mortal, your life on earth almost insignificant, a fleeing moment, a vanishing dream. Sickness carries a person to a loftier height of realization, shattering the myth that life is merely mundane. We are all taught this fable in our clinically secularized world.We are told that we are only physical beings and that all life is physical and all truth, therefore, must be physical, as well.The judges of truth, they say, are only our senses (the physical ones that is—for they claim we have no others).And we insensately believe it. But then we fall ill and our education (read: indoctrination) falls to pieces.As our bodies break down, we become more aware of them. If it is our stomachs that feel the ailment, we suddenly realize how very central it is:We use its muscles when we walk, when we talk, when we breathe, even when we lift a finger. Physical weakness makes clear the miracle of walking: the perfectly choreographed dance between the muscles of the toes and heals and legs and hips.And if pain strikes our heads, only then do we become cognizant of its complexity:The canals and cavities in our skulls, the action and intensity in that small place where most of our sensory organs are packed.
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And none of it has anything to do with us.We neither control nor comprehend those universes we call our bodies.We lose faith in our flesh as we recognize the inherit temporality and feebleness of our bodies and our physical world.And so, added to the agonies of illness and the frustrations of its handicaps is the emotional heartbreak of disillusionment and abandonment. But we must beware not to lose faith altogether when sickness strikes, not to feel abandoned by all.This is, indeed, a mighty trial, however,—probably more so than the illness itself. I for one am grateful that our Sustainer has unveiled this in His divine revelation. And I am grateful to Prophet Ayyub, Job, on him be peace, for being such a worthy and patient exemplar. For he too fell painfully ill. He too was abandoned by all that we take comfort in—his health, his family, his wealth. And still he clung to faith in his Lord with all his being: “And mention, as well, the tiding of Job. Behold! He cried out to his Lord: Indeed, unbear-
able ailment has touched me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful!” [21:83]. The secret to his unwavering hope and trust in God lies in the impeccable state of health of one, single organ. It, unlike all the others, has senses not limited to the laws of a physical world: It is the heart. And sickness sets it free from its bodily prison.The degeneration of the body gives the heart a chance to grow tender and sincere. Sickness gives the heart a sorely needed imperative to incline toward purity. Pain gives it reason to reach out daringly for something transcendent. Our hearts reaffirm what our sicknesses have taught us:We are dependent beings and cannot depend on our physical reality. It is too weak and temporary. Our hearts reaffirm to us that we cannot possibly be the sovereigns of our own souls let alone the apex of all existence. It steals into us the loving truth that Someone must lord over us, Someone self-sufficient, over and above all. And thus the hearts of the sick grow calm. We know we are not alone. We’ve read the signs and are empowered by our weakness.We have a better Caretaker.The doubts we experience with our bodies dispel any doubts about our Creator. As we lessen our faith in Physicalism (the disbelieving faith of our secular society), we strengthen our faith in the Manifest and the Hidden. It is true that sickness was the trial of Prophet Ayyub, on him be peace. But it was also something much more than this to him. It was his road to everlasting and eternal honor, in this life and the next: So “We answered him, and We removed whatever ailment was upon him.Thus We gave back to him the joy of his family—and, along with them, the like of them besides—as a mercy from Us—and a reminder of God’s relief for the devout worshipers of God who endure patiently” [21:84].
It’s About Time BY NAFEES SYED
KNOW OF many for whom just the thought of an approaching Ramadhan is stressful.Their lives are so incomparably busy.They barely squeeze in space to prepare iftar and have to calculate the moments they can devote for extra worship. In our extremely timeconstrained world, not a few of us find it difficult to finish our worldly activities and spend time remembering Allah. Let us ponder for a moment how Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, accomplished so much in so little time centuries ago, before Blackberrys, I-Phones, and all of those nifty time management gadgets. He was the best of worshippers, the best of leaders, the best of fathers, and the best of husbands. He led his community through times of persecution, starvation, and war.Yet he would help his wives do household chores and play with children. Even when people did not ask him for help, he would inquire about their well-being and assist them, whether they were Muslim or not. Most importantly, he worshipped Allah as no human being ever has or will. I examined his daily schedule to find that at a minimum he began with Fajr salah. Often he would remain in the masjid with his Companions, remembering Allah, teaching, or deciding with them matters of state.Then, he would spend time with his family, eat with them, take a short nap, perform Dhuhr, attend to community concerns and people’s needs, make every salah on time in the masjid, spend more time with his family, sleep early, and make tahajjud for at least one third of the night. The point here is to make it clear he led a lifestyle that revolved around
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salah times and wasted not a minute aimlessly. Even his minimal sleep and rest were merely to recoup energy. His lifestyle, that is, his sunnah shows us that every second of life is dearly valued and equally counted toward a Muslim’s ultimate goal in life. Allah tells us in the Qur’an to “establish salah. Indeed, salah is prescribed for the believers at appointed times” [4:103]. He states, as well: “He is the One who has made the sun radiant and the moon a light and measured out for it [heavenly] phases, so that you may know the number of the years and [their] calculation” [10:5], meaning Allah has created the sun and moon partly so that we can tell time. Moreover, He even swears—“wal ‘Asr”— “By the decline of Time!” Take note that the Qur’an indicates a similar time-consciousness and bal-
anced lifestyle for all of Allah’s Prophets. Each of them had many burdens and trials, yet they managed their time effectively and always resorted to remembrance of Allah and to salah. In a well-known hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, likens the five daily salahs to bathing five times in a river as a means to complete purity.To me, making salah in that fashion helps me stay ‘clean’ of heart and mind.This has an incredible effect on being focused for it reduces waste, keeps one away from all sorts of harmful thoughts and deeds, and highly motivates toward goodness, usefulness, and productivity. Just remember that Ramadhan is a month of even greater focus on our worship and reflection on our day-today lifestyle. I sometimes feel and think of it as training season for the rest of the year, a chance to put into practice what we have learned about time (self) management. In fact, I know it is true for me and many others that being productive reflects very positively on us spiritually.With the element of worship being at the center of this productivity, the spiritual tide reaches successively higher crests with each Ramadhan. This Ramadhan, I am certain it is going to be the same for me. I am so sure because I sensed a building motivation and heightened awareness with the advent of the preceding month of Sha‘ban. But even if you have come to Ramadhan harried and hurried, and with a sense of being pressured for time, steal a moment (Go ahead. It’s halal.). Cast the world behind your back. Make two rak‘ahs. Sit quietly. Breathe.Then plan out your spiritual program for the coming days until Eid. Recognize that you are not busier than the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, not even close.You are merely much more spiritually disorganized and far less focused on one appointment you shall never miss.
The Ice-Breaker That Started The Greatest Conversation BY AMANY SULEIMAN
VERY CONVERSATION BEGINS with its icebreaker. How’s it going? What’s going on? Hey! We feel the need to start off with some line (that doesn’t really require a real response) to jumpstart the talking. Sometimes, that opening statement serves as a tonesetter for the rest of the spoken exchange. When we were created, Allah, transcendent and exalted, gave us speech and understanding as the basis of our existence.Words would come together to make up languages which would be used to shape and change the world, to do good and prevent harm, and to steer individuals and groups of people in all directions.With our creation began the great conversation of humanity, one that would connect, by its effects, times and peoples of all ages.We needed the right icebreaker to set the tone. Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: When Allah created Adam, He said to him: “Go and greet the company of angels who are sitting there—and then listen to what they are going to say in reply to your greetings because that will be your greeting and your off-spring’s.” Adam said to the angels: “As-Salamu ‘alaikum (Peace be with you).”They replied: “As-Salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah (Peace be with you and the Mercy of Allah).”Thus they added in reply to him: “Wa rahmatullah (and the Mercy of Allah)” to his greeting” (Bukhari and Muslim). And we’re off!
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Why The Special Salutation? “And, whenever you are greeted with a salutation, then return the greeting with an even better salutation. Or [at the least] return it [in kind]. Indeed, ever is God a [just] reckoner of all things” [4:86]. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, has taught us to exercise silence when one feels speaking would not be good.This, of course,
As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu
means we can use only the most pleasant words in addressing people The Heavenly “As-Salamu alaikum,” Peace be with you, is the way we are to greet our Muslim brother or sister, and the better way to return (or give) the greeting is by saying “As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.”The following hadeeth illustrates the reward for taking this salutation to its highest level: A man came to the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and said: “AsSalamu alaikum.The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, responded to his greeting and the man sat down.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Ten!” (meaning that the man had earned the merit of 10 good deeds). Another one came
“As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah” and said: “As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah.The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, responded to his greeting and the man sat down. The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Twenty!” A third one came and said: As-Salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu (Peace be with you and the mercy of God and also His blessings).The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, responded to his greeting and the man sat down.The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Thirty!” (Abu Dawud and Tirmithi). Our greeting is one of peace, of supplication, and a means by which hearts are softened, for people feel the gentle care of others for them. Its power is such that it compels the angry or upset to subdue their antagonistic feelings and become the “better” person, in the sense that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “It is not permissible for a Muslim to forsake his brother for more than three days, each of them turning away from the other if they meet.The better of them is the first one to offer the greeting of peace” (Bukhari). The Hierarchy of Salam Our greeting of peace is part of a protocol specifically taught by the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and that each of us should know. “The rider should greet the pedestrian.The pedestrian should greet one who is sitting.And the small group should greet
a large group (of people)” (Bukhari and Muslim). The hadeeth reported in Bukhari adds to this: “The young should greet the elderly.” These guidelines allow Muslims to get past cultural expectations and norms, which can be difficult, controversial, and spread animosity or disdain, and in place of this follow wholesome, prophetic directions. Expectations become universal, as do roles, and this itself becomes a system that engenders love. Some of you might be thinking, what if we are not in any of the above situations and we come upon someone.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, offers this rule of thumb, and incentive: “The one who is first to offer greeting is the one who is nearest to Allah” (Abu Dawud). With this in mind, the elderly celebrate the young’s lag in salam initiation by taking it as an opportunity to be closest to Allah.Those in their youth
Having good, peaceful, kind, and just interaction with our fellow human beings is not only a responsibility. Rather, it is a transcendent blessing that Allah has given to us
are left with double the reason to race toward uttering “peace” to their elders.Then behold how a simple greeting of Heaven creates an entire earthly society rushing to bring about love and goodness. Moreover, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, made clear to us that giving voice to the proper Islamic greeting is no simple “extra-credit” act. Rather, it is a proud member of an elect group of noble mandatory deeds, all of which we are to be conducted with utmost care, scrupulousness, and solemnity. The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, commanded us to do seven things:To visit the sick, follow the funeral bier (of a believer who has passed), invoke the mercy of Allah upon one who sneezes (i.e., by saying to him: Yarhamuk-Allah), to support the weak, to help the oppressed, to spread the greeting of As-salamu alaikum, and to help those who swear to do something to keep their oaths.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Back to Heavenly Talk Note that Allah tells us in Surat AlWaqi‘ah of the sabiqun, the “forerunners”—those who shall first enter Paradise, for they were first in the excellence of the practice of their faith on earth: “They shall not hear therein vile talk nor sinful speech—but only the word Peace,[and more] peace” [56:25-26]. To such heights can the genuine greeting of salam exalt us. Language in Heaven shall be used as it is here, in this world, though it shall be of much fairer sound and content, banishing all foul language and the notions they represent. And herein lies a clue: Having good, peaceful, kind, and just interaction with our fellow human beings is not only a responsibility. Rather, it is a transcendent blessing that Allah has given to us, like our first father Adam before us, straight from Heaven, for us to enjoy and profit from right here on earth. AL JUMUAH
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There Goes Ramadhan Ramadhan leaves us faster than we expect. Here are ways to hold on to the blessings of this blessed month. BY NOOR ALI
I REMEMBER BEING very small, prancing around the family in beautiful Eid clothes, acting my best in front of our new video camera. In the background of that childhood video, there was an old, old “deflated balloon.”That was how my mother teased Nanah at the end of Ramadhan. Nanah was not just a grandmother. She was inspiration, wisdom and tranquility put together in the grandest, yet most humble of ways. Nanah had the Qur’an in her heart. She memorized the Gracious Book in its entirety. So imagine what Ramadhan, the month of Qur’an, did to her. I could not then have understood what my mother’s teasing words meant. Perhaps, I still can’t comprehend what Ramadhan itself did to Nanah. All I can decipher now is what the departure of Ramadhan did to Nanah. All through that month, she was her happiest, her most energetic.Whether it was cooking for the family, telling us stories, teaching us to read Arabic, revising her Qur’an uncountable times, sitting in i’tikaf, or waking up for the nighttime tahajjud salah, Nanah never tired of any of these good deeds. Until Eid came. On that festive day—though she never said anything sad, for one must celebrate it—you could see that it was, indeed, like someone from whom something vital had escaped, a bal64
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loon whose air had gone stale or been lost. Happy with Ramadhan’s remembrance and obedience fulfilled, her heart yet sagged with the blessed month’s passing. Only one year later, my own heart drooped with the loss my nanah. She too left the world, also in the month of Ramadhan. That year we all felt deflated. How true that Ramadhan always goes by faster than it comes! No sooner do we start its siyam and qiyam than Ramadhan begins to near its end. Perhaps, this too is Allah’s way of teaching us the fleeting nature of time, and how, if we are unable to make the very most of each moment, we might very soon be regretful that we have no moments left at all—no second chance, no future life, no further benefit of the blessed month. No, nothing at all. This year, I plan on keeping hold of as much of this short-lived portal as I can. Here’s how. USE CONCRETE MEASURES One of the best ways to gauge if Ramadhan was truly beneficial, accepted, and fruitful is to see what difference it makes in our lives when it is over.We know that Allah does not need our hunger or thirst.These are not the goals of fasting. Abstinence is but a means to the greater end of taqwa, of becoming God-fearing. If false talk and base deeds mixed with our worship before Ramadhan and
resume unabated thereafter, then our fasts only troubled us with bodily deprivations and momentary weakness. Ramadhan needs to find us setting long-term goals that permanently alter practical behaviors which, in turn, yield lasting positive changes in our character.We need to do things in Ramadhan that become, in some measure, constant deeds of goodness with us.We are not, for instance, expected to institute long evening taraweeh salahs during the rest of the months of the year. But our focused experience through a month of taraweeh ought to train us to consistently perform the much shorter five daily obligatory salahs in congregation as much as we can, as well as to establish a briefer version of nighttime salah vigils in the practice of tahajjud until the following Ramadhan—and thus for the rest of our lives. Perhaps most obviously, we can make a lifelong habit of fasting.We desisted for a whole month of daytime food, drink and the like, and we should not stop there.The Sunnah of Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, highly recommends ongoing ways of fasting:Two fasts a week (Mondays and Thursdays); three fasts each lunar month (in their well-named “white,” that is, middle, days); as well as fasting six not necessarily consecutive days of Shawwal, the month following
Making sadaqah a habit after Ramadhan also helps us earn good deeds and enables us to, quite literally, buy forgiveness from Allah—before a Day comes when no ransom shall be accepted to free ourselves from Allah’s Judgment.
Ramadhan; along with special days, such as those of Hajj, especially ‘Arafat (if we are not making Hajj) and ‘ashurah, or the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar year. If we do this, we stay in touch with fasting, rather than let it dip below our spiritual horizon with the last sunset of Ramadhan. What an amazing power observing the Sunnah confers on us. It is the surest and shortest way, no doubt, to draw ourselves nearer to our Lord. With that in mind, keep up the charitable giving of sadaqah after Ramadhan. Many of us pay most of our zakah and sadaqah in Ramadhan. But this is a habit that needs to become permanent throughout the year, in terms of charity.The practice of giving Zakat al-Fitr, a gift to let all people participate in the joys of giving and the festivity of Eid is an affirmation of the spirit of openhandedness inculcated in Ramadhan. For in it, we are reminded to have con-
cern for the destitute in a time of celebration. Making sadaqah a habit after Ramadhan also helps us earn good deeds and enables us to, quite literally, buy forgiveness from Allah—before a Day comes when no ransom shall be accepted to free ourselves from Allah’s Judgment. Ramadhan should have taught us not to be stingy and to trust in Allah more than the illusion of our material wealth. If such faith has not entered our heart in Ramadhan and Satan re-enters the scene the moment his Ramadhan shackles are unfettered—whispering anew fear of poverty in our minds and hearts, unraveling our newly attested belief that we have the All-Rich and Most Generous One on our side—then truly we have little understood Ramadhan’s intensive tutorial in benevolence. Another important benchmark of Ramadhan’s intensive faith-immersion experience is salah. If on Eid day when we do not need to fill the stomach with suhoor, we suddenly lack incentive to wake up for fajr, then we have seriously lost a great battle. Satan successfully ties the knot on our ears as we ignore the athan, refuse to get up and make wudhu, and fail to stand in submission before Allah before the rise of dawn—whether it be the first dawn after Ramadhan or any other day, for that matter. Persisting consciously with each salah, guarding it, establishing it, and making each one like it is the very last we shall AL JUMUAH
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ever make such that we give it our all—these are the essential lessons of Ramadhan qiyam that we need to internalize in order to grow in faith. KEEP YOUR BALLOON INFLATED The athkar, mention, remembrance, and praising of Allah that we made so frequently and with such alacrity during Ramadhan should become so ingrained as to be second nature. Remembering Allah with each act of eating, drinking, sleeping, sneezing and the like should be given conscious care.The idea is to hold on to every good practice we gained in Ramadhan. So that brings us to the most important habit of the heart we can acquire in this blessed month: Constant connection with the Word of Allah. Make a conscious effort to recite much on the night before Eid.That night there is no taraweeh salah, but do not forget Allah’s Book in the moment of celebration. Make the effort to continue a recitation and understanding of the Qur’an even though the next day is Eid.We are told that this last night is like payday, when we receive our due from Allah for all the work we did during the month. How is it if the worker disappears into disobedience the very night that he has to be paid? Similarly on the day of Eid, we are expected to listen attentively to the special khutbah, or sermon. For this religion does not lose any moment of gathering to dispense naseehah, good advice that reminds one with the glad tidings and forewarnings of Allah. On Eid day, then, remember to recite the Qur’an for the sake of Allah. Part of the celebration of Allah and His deen is that we celebrate His Word, not forgetting it at first convenience. If your main personal goal this Ramadhan was to control anger, envy, gossiping, or backbiting; to rid yourself of the vices of time wasting, being compulsively judgmental, or failing to show appreciation for family; or to take responsibility for governing a
sharp tongue, then continue with these good practices throughout the year so that next Ramadhan you have one less character defect to work on. Moreover, the belief that you were able to shore up, with the help of Allah, this Ramadhan will actually help you to sustain a higher quality of faith until the next. A caution is in order. On Eid, television channels provide a host of entertainment programs, which—in the name of celebration—are no less atrocious. Restraint from bad viewing (or listening) during Ramadhan—for you and your family—should continue throughout the year.We need to do our souls the favor of nourishing them with the kind of spiritual diet they need, rather than all this carnal indulgence that so besets us. Just as a righteous Hajj divinely accepted bequeaths newborn purity upon one, so too will the sincere fasting of Ramadhan and exhaustive standing for salah therein alter our lives and afterlives, if Allah receives them unto Himself, for, indeed, they constitute an intimate, exclusive worship of Allah that none can verify but Him. So while Satan is at bay, make the most of this month of Qur’an by exerting your soul in earnest worship and engendering it with good traits and a return to fitrah, its original wholesome nature. In this way, when all the considerable blessings of Ramadhan have been fulfilled, we will not be left battling our polluted spirits all over again, but only the temptations of a feebly equipped Satan. When this Ramadhan expires, a sense of its passing may, indeed, take the wind from our spiritual sails. But while we may feel deflated, as did my wise grandmother, we shall not be depleted—not while we store up the blessed provisions it has bequeathed to us in our hearts to sustain us through all the days until like a hallowed gust it returns to nurture, nourish, and regale us with its numinous delights.
Muslim Youth and Ramadhan COMPILED BY MARRYAM HALEEM
AMADHAN FAST APPROACHES.The pathways of our hearts and minds carry us to myriad thoughts and reflections surrounding this blessed month. In the words that follow, I’ve collected some of these meditations from my peers, our Muslim young, both men and women.Words unspoken, more often than not, get buried beneath the incessant buzz of daily bustle, never to witness the breath of even possibility, let alone life. This, I fear, is the norm among my generation, those from their early teens to young twenties. Far too often we have neither the chance nor the forum to be heard by the older generations, let alone to be taken seriously (though I think many of us do not feel this loss, since we ourselves take each other very seriously and love to listen to each other, as well as hear our own voices).Thus I hope through these interviews to bring together some musings and concerns we very young have about this upcoming Ramadhan. In turn, I hope you (be you young or old) will lend a listening ear and respond to us with a little reflection of your own.
Where DoYou Stand? ARE YOU A HAMZA? “Fasting is worth it in this day and age,” says Hamza. He is a 22-year-old college student who loves Ramadhan and fasting. It is the intense spiritual atmosphere of Ramadhan that gives him the drive he needs to fast.While the society at large also has a positive impact on his fasting, he still tries to keep his fasting hidden because he believes it is an act of worship exclusively for his Lord and he does not want to fast for people. Hamza enjoys fasting because it helps him focus on the more impor68
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tant things in his life and weed out the frivolous concerns he has.There are
also the added physical benefits that he gets from fasting—it detoxifies his body and makes him healthier. Are You an Umar? Fasting is useless in this day and age, having no impact whatsoever on people. So says 21year-old college student, Umar. “People still do the same [wrong] things,” he says matter-of-factly. “They’re just hungrier when they do them.”The only practical value he sees in fasting is weight loss. It is for these reasons that Umar does not fast (or perform salah) all the time. He knows he is supposed to fast, and he knows that he needs to work on it, but he becomes unmotivated because he sees so many hypocritical Muslims who only fast because it’s a custom. “I’m just not like that,” he says. Knowing that Muslims are not fasting for the right reasons and still engaging in bad activities makes him look both at them and fasting in a negative way. He doesn’t see any point or benefit in it. When he does fast, he does so because his family fasts and because he knows it is an obligation. Fasting is not physically difficult for him—not any more than it is for any one else, that is. He used to be embarrassed to let people know that he was fasting because he did not really know how to explain himself to people, what it meant, and why he did it. Now, as he has gotten older, he does not care what people think about him, how they view him, and whether or not they know he is fasting. Are You an Usama? “We need fasting
especially in this modern age because people are too into their work lives and do not have any time to practice Islam.” Ramadhan, 18-year-old Usama argues, gives us a break from the relentless conveyor-belt “busy-ness” that most of us experience year-in and year-out. While he fasts because it is a religious obligation, he also sees the great spiritual and practical values of fasting: It helps him build an internal tolerance and watchfulness that he normally does not have. It creates an added awareness in him, preventing him from doing wrong things that normally he wouldn’t think twice about if he weren’t fasting.The act of fasting draws him closer to Islam because it gives him a spiritual appetite, making him strive to gain more knowledge and understanding of his religion. Are You a Hashim? A 15year-old-high school student, Hashim performs his salah and fasts. He fasts in Ramadhan because the people around him expect him
to fast. But there’s a catch to the fasting thing—he doesn’t fast all the time, and he has friends that do not fast either. If he knows he will be partaking in a particularly grueling activity (such as football practice) he will not fast. And yet, he likes the physical and emotional challenges of fasting, such as striving without water and experiencing the hunger and thirst of the needy. He also publicly acknowledges when he fasts because he is proud to be a Muslim. It also helps that he gets positive feedback from the society at large. Are You an Asim? Asim fasts for three reasons: (1) He strives to be the best Muslim he can be. (2) All the people
he looks up to fast in Ramadhan. (3) Fasting helps cleanse his body of impurities. The 19-year-old college student is proud to be a faster and likes to tell people why he is fasting. Besides the hardship of the first two or three days, fasting is easy for him. He believes fasting is worth it because it helps strengthen one’s resolve to follow more closely the teachings of Islam rather than “the many temptations out there.” It has that impact on him, he says. Fasting also forces people to pause from filling their bodies with the junk that we eat regularly in this day and age, and it also makes him more health-conscious. Asim ends with wishing all his brothers and sisters a blessed Ramadhan. Me too.
What’s Stewing This Ramadhan? WE ALL SAY Ramadhan is not about the food.True, but it’s about the food too. I think it is safe to say that many of us eat much more in Ramadhan than we do in any other time of the year, or at least we focus on eating a lot more. And, of course, with eating comes cooking—lots of cooking. Let’s get unabashedly honest, while we’re at it. In our communities, the women do most of the cooking (Can I be so bold as to interject that this has been the case for all humanity for, well, forever?)
I was told by some “well-informed” community members that “many young Muslim girls” (like myself?) “do not like to cook, and they hate it even
more in Ramadhan—some to the extent of hating (it’s me, again: the practical as opposed to spiritual) Ramadhan because they have to do a AL JUMUAH
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lot of it, which makes fasting harder and much more of a burden.” Wanting to find out if there was any merit to that rumor, I interviewed a group of unmarried young women, between the ages of 14 and 26, asking them their thoughts on Ramadhan cooking and the added time spent in the kitchens. All the young women I interviewed unanimously denied this rumor. Do not mistake me.They all agreed that most young women who have grown up in America neither cook nor like the idea of cooking.
“A lot of young girls in America,” said one interviewee, “regardless of their religion or ethnicity, simply don’t hold cooking in high regard.” Not only that, but young Muslim women are not “expected” to cook either.Their families’ prioritize education (meaning the business of running a business called the university) and career pursuits for their daughters. One interviewee informed me that even if that weren’t the case, the girls who did not want to cook (all of us?) would “put their foot down” and not cook (we’re too busy spending our parents money on the business of education). The vast majority of the girls I interviewed spent, on average, an hour or less assisting in the preparation of iftar—occasionally, if it suited their schedules. (This contrasts nicely with the three hours or more they spend eating like wrestlers.) The remaining 70
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few girls spent between 1 and 3 hours also helping their mothers prepare iftar.The interviewees made up for their overwhelming lack of culinary involvement (not counting their marathon eating) with very strong opinions about this whole cooking thing (albeit that it barely effected any of them). Almost all girls, when asked, said that cooking was a blessing, a way to get rewards from God, and an act of worship. A few talked of the spiritual boost cooking in Ramadhan gave them:Through it they were able to spend productive time with other family members while preparing food that fasters would feast upon. Nearly all added “no-go” stipulations, however, to these great kitchen blessings: 1.When cooking takes away from other acts of worship, such as salah and Qur’an reading 2.When it leads to excess, waste and gluttony—all acts that, through fasting, we attempt to curb 3.When the recipients of the food are an exclusive group of family and friends and not enough food directed at the empty bellies of the needy On the subject of the big iftar-dinners themselves, those who had and went to them frequently were not enthusiastic, reiterating the above stated “un-blessings” of both the cooking and the eating. One interviewee admitted she wished her family had
less iftar-dinners because she did not like the un-Islamic activities that accompanied them, such as gheebah and inappropriate mixing between genders. Another young woman said that she didn’t mind the iftar-dinners as long as they were “few and far in between.” Those interviewees who did not have many iftar invitations expressed the wish to have more of them.They argued that they missed out on the great practice of coming together with good people for wholesome reasons. The iftars, they believe, added to the spirit of Ramadhan. (Can I just add that perhaps what we need is to strike a middle ground in between these two views, making both parties happy, some skinnier and some chunkier!). When asked if there was an alternative to women doing most of the cooking, my interviewees roared-up, unanimously:Yes! Men! The men, they said, could help in the kitchens.While this is a natural response for women raised in the vacuum of modernity, it is not, perhaps, the most thoughtful or constructive of responses.Thankfully, a few interviewees went beyond that stainless-steel stance and came up with non-knee-jerk advice. One young lady said that we really need to focus on making the meals we eat smaller and simpler. Not only is this the most efficient way to cut out time in front of the stove, but it is also more in accord with Ramadhan’s profound theme of restraint. Another advocated “encouraging all of the family members to take part in meal preparations regardless of their gender.” She added, astutely, “Ultimately, meal preparations are dependent upon each family’s unique family dynamics.” When all is swallowed and digested, you can chew on this:The main course of Ramadhan is nothing less than a taste of Truth.We don’t fast to eat; we eat to fast.
SHARING RAMADHAN WITH YOUR COMMUNITY SHARING RAMADHAN WITH YOUR COMM
Teaching a Ramadhan Class at Your Child’s School BY JACQUELINE MUSALLAM
E KNOW THAT Ramadhan provides us with boundless opportunities to gain endless rewards, be it through feeding the poor, refraining from sinful vices, or spending long nights in salah. But we can reap even greater returns by helping our communities at large understand why Ramadhan is special to Muslims and how we make that “specialness” count in our lives and in the life to come. Ramadhan offers the very best time to get our communities better oriented to our religion.While all the media is busy focusing on Islam and the many lifestyles of the Muslims around the world, it is wise for us as Muslims to take advantage of this specific time to introduce the real Islam, and our blessed month. Here’s a plan to acquaint your local elementary school with Ramadhan.
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This 10-step process gives good advice about what you and your family can do to make your presentation effective. But it is not complete, nor can it be. Islam is about making your own judgments, and that is something you must do here. So consult the experienced about your Ramadhan seminar, talk with your neighbors about what they’d like to see, and use common sense. For all you parents out there with children in grade school, our kids usually go to school in Ramadhan. Not only do they face the everyday challenges of being a Muslim at a nonMuslim school, but they are usually confronted with even more tests, or even dilemmas, in the month of fasting. It is immensely important for you to talk to your children’s principals, teachers, and classmates in order to help your children feel less awkward
when it comes to identifying themselves as Muslims.Take the initiative in meeting with all of the above. Create a Ramadhan orientation day, and here’s a little advice that, God willing, will go a long way:
1. START EARLY: Calling
your child’s teacher in the middle of Ramadhan is just too late. Call teachers early, as much as six weeks in advance, to ask to meet with them about the upcoming Ramadhan, and to do a class or school presentation. Experience indicates that teachers need at least three weeks of planning time to incorporate a special lesson. They have packed schedules and need proper time to make fruitful adjustments.
GET PERMISSION FROM YOUR CHILD’S TEACHER: Parents normally have a lot of influence when it comes to the school system. But this doesn’t give them a license to show up unannounced on Monday morning to do a Ramadhan presentation for their child’s class. It is much more appropriate to send a letter giving a general idea and indication of your intentions.Then it’s best to wait for the teacher to call (make sure you provide ready contact information). If you don’t get a call within a week, give him or her a follow up call.
SELECT THE RIGHT PERIOD FOR YOUR PRESENTATION: Does your child have Social Studies? Try to suggest a class in which Ramadhan best fits in, a Religious Studies period, for example,
MMM U N I T Y S H A R I N G R A M A D H A N W I T H Y O U R C O M M U N I T Y S H A R I N G R A M A D H A N W I T H Y O U
if it is a private school.You can always ask the teacher about which time would be best for your seminar.
BE POLITE AND CONFIDENT: Speaking kindly to people is part of our religion. So focus on the fact that the presentation’s purpose is to not merely educate students, but to make a good impression on the teachers, as well, with good manners. Courteous behavior enhances your talk and doesn’t indicate any weakness in your desire to present. Rather, it will help build bridges and encourage communication, and could ensure future presentations on other Islamrelated topics, opening doors to further teacher-parent cooperation.
ASK THE TEACHER HOW LONG THE PRESENTATION SHOULD BE AND WHICH AREAS TO DISCUSS:Tailor your presentation to the age level of the students.This will help them to understand as well as connect it to what they are already learning.This does not mean you can’t bring in other types of information, but knowing what to cover from the teacher will help you hone in on what needs to be said. It will also enable you to develop your points fully, and touch on others that are topically related. Knowing how long your seminar can be will help you decide what is most important to include in it.
READ, READY, REVIEW, REVISE: These four “R”-words are at the very core of a successful talk and performance. Once you’ve gotten the teacher’s permission, your work has just begun. DO NOT sit back and wait till the night before the presentation to put it all together. Remember, if you want your presentation to be appealing to student
eyes, especially younger ones who need “attention getters,” you are going to need to do more than just talk. Visuals are a great help.You can search for a Ramadhan banner picture of Muslims fasting, and even show part of a video aimed at children about Ramadhan. It might take a couple of weeks to round up this material. Again, starting early is imperative. Preparing is your most important task.And even though you may have fasted all of your life and think you know all about Ramadhan, it behooves you to get a children’s Islamic book and read what it says about Ramadhan. Go online and read a couple Ramadhan articles written by a teenager.This will also help you better understand which points to emphasize to the young crowd in your presentation. Studying up on Ramadhan from reliable sources will enable you to distinguish any cultural practices that may have seeped into Ramadhan’s authentic traditions, some of which, by the way, you yourself may not have been previously aware of.Talking to knowledgeable Muslims is key when in doubt.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE PRESENTATION:Who knows better the mindset of the kids in class than your own
child? Sit with him or her and ask about what to include, what the kids like, and what they seem most misinformed about.This will do more than improve your talk, it will also make Fatimah and Omar feel their real worth and make them more confident as individuals, and as Muslims.
A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE SEMINAR: Call the teacher to reaffirm the date and time of the presentation.This will remind the teacher about your visit and prepare the class accordingly. It will also help you to ensure the formal inclusion of the seminar in the class plan.
WRITE HIGHLIGHTED PRESENTATION POINTS ON NOTE CARDS: Reading off a paper about Ramadhan will not hold the interest of most people, especially young ones. Instead, writing brief notes on note cards that you can occasionally glimpse at, so as to not miss topic, is more befitting.This technique will also help you avoid straying from the subject while allowing you to make eye contact with your audience and maintain a conversational style presentation. If you use a Power Point presentation instead of note cards, keep yourself between the students and the slides, without getting in the way of their line of sight. People are more interesting than slides.
10. MAKE DUAA! As with
all things in life, your success in this project is in the Hands of Allah. So turn to Him and be sure to make lots of duaa, to loosen your tongue and keep relaxed. If you want to heighten the trust of your audience in you, heighten your trust in Allah. Invoke His blessings at the beginning, and ask Him to make the presentation fun and likeable to the children. AL JUMUAH
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SHARING RAMADHAN WITH YOUR COMMUNITY SHARING RAMADHAN WITH YOUR COMM
Sharing Ramadhan with Your Neighbors BY JACQUELINE MUSALLAM
HE ARCH-ANGEL Gabriel so emphasized the rights of neighbors on Muslims and their duty to be good to them with such urgency that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, thought Allah would next command that—Muslim or non-Muslim—they be made beneficiaries in the wills of the Muslims they lived near. Caring for, calling upon, and doing good unto neighbors is as vital and mammoth a social obligation in Islam as there is, save tending, supporting, and showing lovingkindness to parents.And there can be no better time to institute or enhance this noble and wonderful Sunnah of neighborliness than in Ramadhan. Here are 10 practical steps you can take to share the blessings of Ramadhan with your neighbors in order to clue them in to its true meaning. No other outreach, incidentally, will provide a finer way to invite them to understand and consider Islam as the true religion of Allah.
MAKE FLYERS: Create a fun flyer that says something like: “Ramadhan Open House! Come Break the FastWith Us!” Make multiple copies and put them on the doorsteps, or in the railings or mailboxes of your neighbors as an invitation for an iftar 74
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dinner. Do this at least a week in advance in order to get their attention and give them time to shuffle schedules. Invite as many as you think appropriate. It need not be a block party, incidentally.
2. MAKE A SPE-
CIAL, FUN RAMADHAN BANNER AND PIN IT UP ON YOUR DOOR: Hand-make it, or print it up formal, but be sure to be creative. Make it “marketable.” Remember you want to inspire people to be curious about Ramadhan and Islam. Make it flamboyant enough to pique the interest of passersby that will cause them to ask questions about Ramadhan. Put an interesting fact sheet up about this blessed month, and start off the list with a phrase like “Did you know that….” Help the readers understand what Ramadhan is and what it means to Muslims.
3. SEND NEIGHBORS
IFTAR SNACKS: Include little notes with the food that say the month of Ramadhan is here and you are simply sharing its blessing and your joy with them.Try offering snacks that are not just “American,” but also “ethnic” such as African, Middle Eastern, Indo-Pakistani, etc. Include printed or handwritten index cards with the snacks, as well, listing all of the ingredients.This will help your neighbors avoid foods that set off allergies or that interfere with dietary restrictions.
GIVE OUT RAMADHAN BALLOONS AND CANDY: Let the neighbor’s kids feel the excitement of Ramadhan by giving out chocolate and candy. Balloons are even a nicer touch, especially those with Ramadhan Mubarak printed on them. This will help them to remember this blessed month long after it has passed…and to look forward to its next appearance.
PUBLISH RAMADHAN INFORMATION IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSLETTER: If you are part of a tenants association, a group within your housing complex
MMM U N I T Y S H A R I N G R A M A D H A N W I T H Y O U R C O M M U N I T Y S H A R I N G R A M A D H A N W I T H Y O U or your neighborhood block parents’ association, and they happen to publish a newsletter, inform them about Ramadhan and try to prepare a short article about this holy month.This is a great way of informing the neighborhood about Ramadhan.
ORGANIZE AND HOST A NEIGHBORHOOD IFTAR GATHERING: Here’s an even greater way to clue the neighborhood in to the advent of Ramadhan. Send fun, colorful, handmade invitations with something like: “Come to our home for a family iftar gathering this Friday at 7:30 pm at the Ahmad Family in Apartment 208!” Do this a few days in advance, just in case they did not get the flyers you made a week earlier. Fold them neatly and tape them on the doors of those you want to invite.Try to avoid words like “party,” as it could be misunderstood to mean a gathering including alcohol and loud music. Include popular and “ethnic” food. Make sure you write in your phone number on the invitation. Be sure to invite Muslim family and friends who are comfortable interacting with non-Muslims. Brief them about how they should share Ramadhan with your neighbors properly and effectively. Make sure you have some articles or pamphlets about Ramadhan, and keep pamphlets about Islam on hand, as well, for those who might have more questions.You can also make a large poster-board-size fact sheet and put glue sparkles and
decorations on it. Pin it up next to the table where all the pamphlets and booklets are.This will give a sort of festive air to the evening.You can even go as far as pinning up lights to make it even more exciting. Remember to be courteous at this gathering. Make good manners the adornment of the evening, and let the neighbors feel welcome like family. Serve them like honored guests with your personal choices, such as Arabic coffee, or Chai, and fresh juice, for example. Be generous and friendly, but maintain modesty and Islamic rules of behavior.This should not be a “party,” but rather a religious celebration that is a part of your faith, a spiritual time according respect to all. Don’t impose information on people. Let the guests ask questions if they wish. Also, be ready to answer questions about Islam, violence, terrorism, and oppression of women. Give the neighbors the benefit of the doubt, and be calm when clarifying their misunderstandings. Remember that nothing but good comes from gentleness, while harshness engenders only bad feelings and worse reactions.
GET YOUR KIDS IN ON IT:Talk with your kids about informing your neighbors’ kids as to what Ramadhan means and what happens in it. Have them invite their classmates to your iftar gatherings, as well.
TALK ABOUT WHAT RAMADHAN IS LIKE FOR YOU:What is it like to fast from the early morning to the evening? How do you work, go to school, do your normal activities and still fast? What is it like to abstain from food and drink? Be prepared to answer questions like these. Don’t just point your guests to the pamphlets. Speak with them and
use personal examples they can relate to. Also, tell them that fasting is a form of purifying oneself from bad deeds.Talk to them on a personal level to help them better understand.
GIVE GIFTS: Don’t let your neighbors leave empty handed. Prepare small presents for them.The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Tahaadu, tahaabbu,” meaning: “Give gifts to each other and you will love one another.” Let it be something simple and nice. I like to give out essential perfume oils and incense wrapped in nice netting, which I get from a craft store.You don‘t have to empty your wallet, but make it special. Remember that giving gifts to non-Muslims is a practice of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, to win their hearts, for the sake of Allah, and for the noble purpose of inviting them to Islam. A little goes a long way, and this will not only gain their affection, but when done sincerely, will create mutual admiration and respect for one another as neighbors. And remember, all good deeds are infinitely multiplied in Ramadhan. So take advantage while you are able and share Islam with your neighbors during this blessed month, in hopes of gaining the pleasure of Allah, Most High.
10. WRITE DOWN PHONE NUMBERS: Make sure you write down everyone’s phone numbers, mailing, and email addresses and keep their numbers organized in a easy-tofind place so that you have them readily at hand for future dawah gatherings. For in the end, our primary social purpose as Muslims is to uphold the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and to clearly bear witness and convey these treasures to those who have not had the good fortune to know and understand them. AL JUMUAH
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“Perky Life Narratives for the Spirit”
GRASS IS GREENERISM
On Treating with the Biggest “Ism” On the Face of the Planet BY AHMAD HALEEM
AGGIE IS A great girl, and I must concede the fact that I love her like no other.The grace of her walk can make the professional ballerina flush with envy, while the strength of her form discourages the likes of great wrestlers, even before the match has begun. Concerning the sound of her voice, she outstrips, by far I might add, the greatest operatic voices of the western world, including the soprano voice of the character Susanna in Mozart’s celebrated opera The Marriage of Figaro and Isolde from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.
From her majestic brow to her welldefined feet, my Maggie possesses more proportionality, more symmetry than that of a perfect square. While, sometimes she can get quite stubborn when I beseech her ladyship to go for a ride with me, she nonetheless is fabulous. She’s one fine mare. And yet, despite all her good attributes and the various hyperboles and exaggerations I’ve thrown in, she has one flaw, one nicely sized downside. As a member of the equine family, my Magpie (a nickname I call her by), while in her pasture, cannot resist the temptation of trying to eat the grass on the other side of the fence, despite the fact that perfectly formed grass grows on her side, within easy reach. Indeed, the grass that she strains her neck to reach is the exact same blend of wild meadow that grows in her paddock. But, for some odd reason, due to some original gene coding, horses always go for the growth 76
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that is out of their reach, beyond the barrier in most cases. This is not limited to my Maggie. Other horses outside of my property exhibit that exact same habit of desir-
ing the grass on the other side, the pasture that grows beyond the limitation conjured around the horse. Could horses possibly be displaying a kind of gluttony, a kind of insatiability? I don’t really think so, what with my little mass of compiled equinerelated experiences. I think these giant herbivores we call horses are exhibiting what I have come to know as Grass-is-Greenerism. Don’t shut me up and turn the page just yet, simply because you think you’re about to sit through another monotonous lecture on some past ideology or dogma that formed in the dark of some giant political shadow. Grass-is-
Greenerism is not some scary red hand stealthily creeping over the minds of mean people, nor a complex theory about how the political environment should be structured and run. No. On the contrary, this “ism,” though big in the sense that it is widely shared by people, is rather basically constructed. Not confined to the psyche of horses, this “ism” concerns you as a human being, a creature made of clay and water that has a natural tendency to collect things and want more and more earthly objects to own. We are constantly in the pursuit of higher quality waters, more substance to satisfy our diets, cleaner environments to live in, all perfectly sound needs. Yet the human being (and I hope I am not sounding like a philosophical mastermind) is unique in that we, provided that our wealth is sufficient, possess the capacity to surpass our bare necessities and seek more things, more rings and precious stones, to array on the body, as well as more calories to pack in it, and great expanses of space to keep our more than substantial selves in, as well. I am not saying that jewelry, beautiful works of art, precious knickknacks, meaner kitchen blenders and bad-boy Makita drills for dad should not be bought (in fact, I am quite a chocolate aficionado and tea connoisseur, and I enjoy them either separate or mingled in some excess fusion). When you feel like you never can get enough of something or another, however, and you start to get that twinge of, well, dissatisfaction to the point of obsession—with the rims on your ride, the eyes of your spouse, the length of your eyelashes, the sheen of your hair, the guy or gal on the other side of that mirror, the appeal of the grass in your life’s pasture, consider yourself an official victim of Grass-is-Greenerism, wherein
...we have learned from him completely and utterly what my dear Maggie can never learn: To be happy in the pastures we are so sufficiently provided with... the world beyond always looks better than the world inside. When you begin to hate, to frown at the “miserable” coordinate pair that marks your place on earth and at the series of “unfortunate” events and circumstances that your life has become, you better believe, my brother or sister, that you are in the prescribed state of insatiability, that you are the unknowing follower of the dogma that brought down the mighty yet expansionist of every age—from ‘Aad to the Roman Empire and all Imperiums beyond and in between. For them, the land was never enough, authority never enough, spoils never enough, superiority never enough. Know then that you now seek the one ring that promises you the world, that you are experiencing the most classical and the biggest "ism" facing humankind since Cain ended the life of his brother, Abel, over the possession of earthly substance. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, moms and dads, the fact is that we are not horses. We are human beings and that means desiring the grass on the other side of the fence is not the biggest of our ambitions. No. We want so much more. We want love. We want wealth. We want power. We want Tutankhamen’s very mask of gold. We want the Mona Lisa on our own
wall. We want, we want, we want the world. Like the grand kings of old that we hear about as bedtime stories, like the sprawling empires of the past, like the world of tragedies born from the lust, the overpowering desire of love, we want so much more. And little do we realize that the same unquenchable desire for more, which led to the possession of half the known world, couldn’t save Rome with all its legions, couldn’t stop the ruthless monetary corruption in its higher governmental echelons. And yet Joseph, a young man and handsome beyond the likes of any human being, turned down the truly attractive opportunity offered by the beautiful, powerful and wealthy wife of the minister of Egypt. Secluded, just the two of them, in the protective and aesthetically pleasing chamber of the palace, Joseph could have stayed and experienced a most earthly fulfilling sensation.Yet he fled, fled from her passionately wild attempts to seize him for her own, fled on the wings of his soul, which but for the grace of God, would have broken under the intensity of the situation. And so, like the Prophet Joseph, we learn that we can resist, that we can be satisfied with our conditions, whatever they may be.We learn from our Prophet Joseph that we are blessed with an astonishing capacity to accept who we are, to be humble. We learn from the breathtaking story of Joseph to love those around us, be their condition ever so meek, to be content with the objects we possess, the environments we live in, the legitimate loves we are given. We learn from Joseph and from all the Prophets—May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them and Muhammad—we have learned from him completely and utterly what my dear Maggie can never learn: To be happy in the pastures we are so sufficiently provided with. AL JUMUAH
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ALLAH’S ART OF DETAIL–3/14 BY HARUN YAHYA
The Honeybees’ Superior Architectural Abilities When it comes to making contiguous hexagons with an exact angle of 109 degrees and 28 minutes, one would need compasses and set squares to produce the various angular measurements and regularity necessary for devising the angles that determine these shapes. In the absence of such tools, there is both a considerable likelihood of error as well as the need to make various adjustments and redraw some of the hexagons. All of this would probably take a considerable amount of time.While this is a difficult matter for human beings, who possess reason and consciousness, the same task is carried out by honeybees, who possess no reason or consciousness, in a perfect and continuous manner without any compasses or set squares. All honeybees build their combs using this flawless angle. Although there are hundreds of bees around the hive, there is no deviation from the angles of 109 degrees and 28 minutes and 70 degrees and 32 minutes when building their honeycombs. The combs are built by bringing in their edges by 13 degrees, which prevents the honey from pouring out. If you stand close to a honeycomb, all you will see is honeybees flying around it.Yet every one of them is also an expert mathematician that knows 78
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where to stick the wax it is carrying and at what angle. How is this possible? Given that they possess no mathematical knowledge, did they learn to build these perfect combs by chance? Could each one of them, over the course of millions of years, have been born with this ability by chance, an ability that human beings never managed to acquire by chance? It is certainly impossible for a bee to possess an ability that human beings do not as the result of chance. It is Almighty Allah, the infinitely powerful,Who creates these creatures together with their superior abilities and Who
inspires His own knowledge within them, “Your Lord revealed to the honeybees,‘Build dwellings in the mountains and the trees, and also in the structures which men erect.Then eat from every kind of fruit and travel the paths of your Lord, which have been made easy for you to follow.’ From inside them comes a drink of varying colors, containing healing for humanity.There is certainly a Sign in that for people who reflect” [16:68-69].
Talented Liver Cells Each liver cell carries out some 500 different chemical processes. Somehow, they are aware of each activity taking place in the body’s circulatory, digestive, excretory, and other systems. Due to these tasks that they perform, each cell is the site of intense and continuous activity. If any part of the liver is damaged or extracted, its cells immediately switch to a new function—high-speed multiplication—to repair the affected part. As a result of the cells’ extraordinary abilities, the liver is the only bodily organ that can reconstitute itself. When the liver regains its normal size and is fixed, the cells suddenly cease this activity. There is no difference between liver cells and those in your finger tips, for both sets carry exactly the same information.What makes them different is what part of that information they
use. A single cell, invisible to the naked eye, knows that the reproduction process has to begin and so begins copying itself.When it learns that the regeneration process has been completed, it and all other cells stop this activity in a perfectly orderly manner that betrays no haphazardness. During reproduction, no cell decides to postpone the other functions and thereby cause interruptions in the system. No new copied cell is told what to do. Nonetheless, every new cell unhesitatingly begins its work inside the liver. This wide-ranging system does not belong to human beings. Evolutionists, however, must first account for how a single liver cell came into existence if they are to defend their claims that this complex system is the result of chance.That they have been unable to do so is hardly surprising, for only the Omniscient Allah Who creates all living things and their cells, and Who controls and supervises them at every moment, can perform such a miracle. This miraculous system is the work of Almighty Allah,Who remains unchanging, Omniscient, and Allpowerful, “O humanity, if you are in any doubt about the Rising, know that We created you from dust then from a drop of sperm, then from a clot of blood, then from a lump of flesh, formed yet unformed, so that We may make things clear to you” [22:5].
Genes: An Important Detail in the Cell, Yet Invisible to the Naked Eye Human beings cannot control the beating of their hearts, manage their salivary glands while eating, or remember to breathe every few seconds. Countless such vital functions take place without any human intervention at all.Yet despite this lack of personal supervision, all bodily systems function flawlessly.
An individual’s chromosomes contain information regarding that person. Each of the forty-six chromosomes in the nucleus possesses genes that, utilizing the framework of the blueprint contained therein, construct each bodily organ according to His will. For example, a person’s skin is controlled by 2.559 genes, the brain by 29.930, the eye by 1.794, the salivary glands by 186, the heart by 6.216, the breast by 4.001, the lung by 11.581, the liver by 2.309, the intestines by 3.838, the skeletal muscles by 1.911, and the blood cells by 22.092 genes. The way that countless tiny components hidden inside a cell that is invisible to the naked eye supervises a person’s bodily systems is a great mira-
to them? Each gene, which is an amazing marvel of creation, acts according to His will instead of some posited model. Proof for this statement is all around us, for how could an unconscious gene accomplish such miraculous deeds if Allah did not will it to be so? This state of affairs makes itself crystal clear in every detail in the universe. Everything is a manifestation of Allah’s sublime creation. Genes are able to control everything related to the body’s systems at every moment. This sublime control belongs to Allah, the Elevated One, the true Lord of this entire system, “Allah, there is no deity but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in
cle. It is extraordinary that this system is never interrupted and that the same genes control the same systems and organs in every new-born human being. Despite the vital functions for which they are responsible, genes consist of nothing but blind and unconscious atoms.Therefore, how can the superior consciousness and flawless regulation visible here belong
the Heavens and Earth belongs to Him.Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them, but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge, except for what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the Heavens and Earth, and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent” [2:255]. AL JUMUAH
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NUTRITION AND SPIRITUALITY
By Taking Advantage of Its Blessings BY SEHBA KHAN, MS, RD
OU WAKE AT 4 a.m., extended hours of fasting ahead of you—much longer than in the delightful winter days of Ramadhans past. Despite your complete lack of appetite and strong desire to go back to bed, you get up and fix yourself a meal of dates and cereal.You reflect as you eat in quiet, surrounded by the stillness of a pending dawn:Your awareness of Allah always deepens at this time and you know He is watching you partake in His blessing of the predawn meal, suhoor. But you in this scenario are, unfortunately, an anomaly. Most people fast without suhoor.They usually claim an inability to wake up that early in the morning, or a disability in digesting food at that time. And yet, such acclaimed discomforts do not outweigh either suhoor’s spiritual or physical benefits. All That Is Gold Does Not Glitter The idea of waking in the middle of the night to make and eat food—while they could use that time to catch up on well-needed sleep—doesn’t settle well with many of us. But know (as our feature articles in this issue tell us) that Allah desires for us ease, even if we cannot detect it at its surface. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Indeed it (the suhoor) is a blessing that Allah has given to you, so do not leave it out” (Ahmad). Like shortening salah while traveling, excusing fasting for the sick, and providing an optional way to do wudhu‘ when there is no water, tayammum, Allah has given us ease by exhorting us to take sustenance before the fast. “Then which of the favors of your Lord will either of you deny?” [55:13] Most of the world’s religions prescribe fasting, in 80
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some form or another, or did at one time.We Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Others fast in some form from one sunset to the next. Still others fast from when they awaken until the early evening.The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “What differentiates our fast from the fast of the People of the Book is the Suhoor meal” (Muslim). By eating suhoor, we not only show gratitude for this blessing that Allah has given us, we also distinguish ourselves as Muslims from other fasters.We begin our sacrifice with taking in sustenance—a beautiful balance between our physical and spiritual compositions. (Corpo)real Affirmation Ramadhan comes from the root word, ‘ramada,’ meaning scorching heat or dryness. Fasting leaves our bodies in a state of mild dehydration. Like hunger, thirst in a fast is unavoidable, but we can be thirsty for a shorter amount of time if we wake up and partake in suhoor and have some water and juice before starting the fast.
The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “Eating the suhoor is blessed. Do not neglect it even if you take a gulp of water, because Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who partake in the pre-dawn meal.” [Ahmad]. Your body typically needs replenishment (either meals or snacks) every three to four hours during the day. After so long without food or drink, your body begins to take energy by breaking down your glucose (sugar) and fat stores. Ramadhan is not the time to diet and you want to limit this breakdown. Suhoor accomplishes this and will sustain you both physically and mentally longer while fasting. If you do not eat suhoor, by the time you break your fast, you will have been without sustenance for a good twenty hours at least, far exceeding the amount of time your body should healthily be without sustenance. The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, ate dates for suhoor. Dates are an ideal pre-fast food as they are “nutrient-dense.”That is, they are low in calories, but high in complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.These foods digest slowly and stabilize your blood sugar longer. Other nutrient-dense foods include fruits and vegetables, lentils, whole grain breads and waffles or pancakes, high-fiber cereals, such as oatmeal or all-bran, and nuts (in small portions). Eat foods such as these for suhoor, and your fast will be easier.
As in all times of eating, eat well, but eat in moderate amounts. Overeating can cause abdominal cramps, indigestion, and overall discomfort. Drinking too much water or liquid can cause bloating and discomfort, as well. Remember to eat and drink until you are less than completely satisfied.
Food For Thought The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down to the Heaven nearest to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?” (Bukhari)
Before you sit down to eat your suhoor, take a few moments to perform a couple rak’ahs. Remember, this is last part of the night, just before dawn.This is a time when Allah is nearest to His servants and thus, an ideal time to squeeze in those voluntary salawat that you normally don’t do during the rest of the year. Suhoor is a blessed, peaceful time when we can reflect on the food in front of us, the hunger ahead of us, and the poor and beleaguered who are without the blessings of regular daily meals. Simply getting up in the middle of night and saying bismillah before your meal is an act of invocation and recognition of the benevolence of Allah.Your time spent eating suhoor is a direct response to your Lord and Prophet’s call. Ramadhan is a time to make permanent changes for the benefit of our souls. Eating the filling and nutritious foods that Allah has given us and remembering Allah in salah during this time is a change that we can incorporate simply by setting our alarm clocks one hour before Fajr. May Allah grant us all a month of blessed suhoors in a rewarding and healthy Ramadhan. AL JUMUAH
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QURA’N AND LIFE
Cry of the Believer BY AMER HALEEM
Now, if My servants ask you [O Prophet] about Me—then, indeed, I am near. I answer the call of the caller when he calls upon Me.Then let them [all] respond to Me, so that they may be rightly guided. — The Qur’an, 2:186
IN THE MIDST of Allah’s prescription and description of the obligatory fast of Ramadhan in Surat Al-Baqarah, the verses suddenly break upon the hopeful ayah whose meaning you’ve just read. One of two incidents, or both, reportedly occasioned its revelation. People inquired of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, as to whether Allah was near or far, so that they should call softly or loudly upon Him. Others asked what the best hour was to petition Allah with prayer, duaa. Such questions may sound simplistic to our modern minds of metal.They are nothing of the sort.The directness of the Transcendent One’s answer, however, is breathtaking in its immediacy, assurance, and the immaculate logic of its divine argument: If Allah promises the fulfillment of our every prayer, shall we not fulfill our promise to Him—and for the sake of our own souls in this world and the Hereafter, no less? The answer to the first inquiry posed to the Prophet, we know, is that Allah is closer to us than our own jugular veins. “For very truly,We created man [out of earth].Thus We know [with certainty] all that whispers within his [very] soul. For We are nearer to [each] one than [even] the jugular vein” [50:16]. “Rather, it is We [alone] who are, most surely, nearer to the [one dying] than you. But you do not see” [56:85]. The Prophet’s well known admonition to a host of Companions journey82
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ing with him makes clear the implications of this Immortal nearness when it comes to voicing our prayers. Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ari said: “We descended no hillock, nor ascended another, nor entered a valley, save that we lifted up our voices in unison with the shout Allahu Akbar!”The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, thus came up from behind the company and said:
“Restrain yourselves. For you call upon One who is neither deaf nor absent. He to whom you pray is allhearing and near. Indeed, He is with you” (Muslim). As for the second inquiry, about the most promising hour for Allah to receive our pleas, this depends upon conditions both within and without us. But certainly Ramadhan affords us among the most blessed times, if not the most sustained, in which to make long, copious, and earnest duaa. Consider this: For 29 or 30 straight days, virtually all the main factors that enhance the chance for divine acceptance of our entreaties prevail—fasting, spiritual focus, an occasion of holiness, the heightened receptivity of a deliberately subdued nafs, or lower self, the systematic softening of the worshipful heart, the fettering of the satans, vastly increased opportunities for bowing the face down to the ground in sujud, heightened humbleness, deepened reverence (khushu‘), the natural occurrence of an incessant repetition of our requests, disciplining ourselves to patience, and a steady progression through the days of Ramadhan of systematic devotions and repentance leading to inner purification. And note this:At what point of convergence do all of these dynamics of the successful duaa culminate? In the most propitious event of the divinely ordained human calendar: Laylatul-
Qadr,The Night of Empowering Decree—namely, the anniversary of the Qur’an’s revelation from the Heavenly Tablet to Al-Bayt Al-Ma‘mur, The Haram of Heaven, and its divine intervention into the world—and a full thousand month’s and more worth of the choicest rewards and blessings, condensing a lifetime of divine favor— 83 and third years—into a singular earthly night. If you have found yourself, as your life winds home, searching for a miracle moment for rescue, resuscitation, alteration, illumination, reorientation, vivification of spirit, of purpose, of mission—the waiting is over. Surely, this is divinely appointed role of Ramadhan, and Ramadhan (no matter what the Coca Cola company says) is unequivocally, categorically, it! If You Had Just One Prayer to Make… How to make it count? That’s the only real question before us this Ramadhan. First, remember the forewarnings of the Qur’an when it comes to duaa. Over-impassioned human beings, Allah tells us, are just as likely to pray against themselves as for, unwittingly: “Yet [in anger] man [unknowingly] invokes evil [upon himself] as [eagerly as] he invokes good. For man is, indeed, [given to] haste” [17:11]. Also: “Now, were Allah to hasten on for people the evil [they invoke even] as they seek to hasten on for themselves good, their term [of divine Judgment] would come due [at once and] be [irrevocably] determined for them” [10:11]. And the next ayah continues: “For when harm touches a human being, he calls upon Us [for relief]—lying on his side, or sitting, or standing.Yet when We remove from him his harm, he goes about as if he had never called upon Us concerning the harm that touched him. In this way, what the
transgressors do is made fair seeming to them” [10:12]. Yet when it comes to knowing what makes for a good duaa, you need worry not. For your Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, is, as the late Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ghazali so aptly called him, a genius of duaa. No prayers ever uttered by a man are more compelling, complete, and soulstirringly cogent as the Prophet Muhammad’s, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Moreover, your marvelous Muslim ‘ulama who came before you in a millennia-and-a-half of faith have left no stone unturned to transfer to you the summary of all the knowledge you need to accelerate your own duaa’s acceptance, and a meticulous record of the Prophet’s utterances of prayer. …What Might Stand in Your Way? Answerable duaa has three internal requirements:That you (1) turn exclusively in prayer to Allah; (2) be pure of intention in doing so, and (3) have certainty that it will be answered. Some people are surprised or skeptical about this latter point.Yet this is precisely the promise of Allah in the verse cited at the top of this page: “I answer the call of the caller when he calls upon Me”, which is repeated in Surat Ghafir: “Call upon Me [in prayer], I shall answer you” [40:60]. Some ask:Why, when I pray with good intention to Allah alone, do I not get what I prayed for? The answer, say Qurtubi and Ibn Katheer, two of our greatest Qur’an commentators, is as follows. First, Allah’s acceptance of our supplications occurs variously, as our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, stated: “No Muslim prays, wherein one asks not for something sinful, or the severance of family ties, save that Allah grants him one of three outcomes:What one has prayed for immediately, or He reserves it for one in the Hereafter, or prevents for one
an evil of like measure.” Upon hearing this a Companion said: “Then we shall surely supplicate plentifully.”The Prophet, sallallahu wa sallam, replied: “Allah is more plentiful in responding.” In addition, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, further prohibited praying against oneself, one’s children, and one’s possessions, disallowed prayers for one’s own demise, and taught that scrupulous morality— especially in earnings and sustenance—are crucial to the divine acceptance of duaa. Pay heed now, for the celebrated sage Ibrahim ibn Ad-ham of Balkh (d. 778 AH) who, according to Qurtubi, was asked the selfsame question we are posing here:Why do our prayers go unanswered when Allah has vouchsafed them to us? His 10-part answer, shatteringly instructive, is all too relevant for us today. He said: 1.You have known Allah but obeyed Him not. 2.You have known the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, but followed his sunnah not. 3.You have understood the Qur’an but lived by it not. 4.You have devoured the blessings of God but offered thanks for it not. 5.You have known of the Garden but sought it not. 6.You have known of the Fire but sought to flee from it not. 7.You have known of Satan but declared war on him not. On the contrary, it is him you have befriended. 8.You have known death but prepared for it not. 9.You have buried the dead but learned from it not. 10.You have known your own failings but busied yourselves with the failings of others instead. “How, then, shall your prayers be answered?” Ramadhan is upon us.To us, I submit these goals. AL JUMUAH
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Steps of the Seekers
The Fruits of Contentment and Being Pleased with Allah (Ridha) (PART-5) TRANSLATION FROM MADARIJ-US-SALIKEEN BY IMAM IBNUL QAYYIM
EING CONTENT AND pleased with Allah, Most Exalted, brings one’s faith to many kinds of fruition that raise one’s status before Him. Among these are 11 fruitful qualities of the contented believer. 1. The perfection of Allah’s worship (‘ubudiyyah) requires doing what one’s lower self dislikes of His decrees.To do only what one likes is the opposite of servitude to one’s Master. Contentment (ridha) is not being pleased only with what is pleasing to one’s natural disposition (that is, one’s animal self). Rather it is being pleased with even those decrees of Allah which are opposed to [the inclinations of] one’s nafs, or self. 2. To be pleased with one’s Lord, the Exalted, in all circumstances earns the Lord’s pleasure in return. If one is pleased with one’s Lord even with little of sustenance, the Lord Almighty will be pleased with one, with even a small measure of good deeds. 3. Discontent and anger (sakhat) [over one’s circumstances] opens the door of grief, anxiety, and misery; of confusion of the heart and eclipse of the soul; and of ill thoughts about Allah, the Most Exalted. Ridha rids one of all these ills, and opens the door of the Paradise of this world before the Paradise of the Hereafter. It causes tranquility, coolness of the eyes [that is, satisfaction with one’s circumstances] and serenity of the 84
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heart, while discontent brings about only disturbance, doubt, and unrest. 4. Contentment empowers one to abjure opposition to the Lord in His commandments and decrees. For being angry and discontented is to indulge in opposition and hostility toward one’s Master. His displeasure with his Lord’s decree was the source of Iblees’s hostility toward Allah. 5. The decree of the Lord Almighty is irresistible and imminent, and His judgment invariably just. As one hadeeth [recording a supplication of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam] says: “Your decree upon me is done.Your judgment in my case is justice” (Ahmad and others), and only
a transgressor is displeased with justice.The “judgment” referred to in this hadeeth includes the predestination as to a servant’s sin and the resultant punishment, for He is the most just in all this. It might be said that to punish a sinner is evidently just, but how could destining one to commit sins be just? I say, it is thus because the commission of sin is Allah’s punishment for the servant’s heedlessness of Him, and for the evasion of his heart from Him.The hearts of the mindless are mines of sins, and retribution comes to them from all sides and every different way. For if one is complete in his sincerity and attention to and remembrance of Allah, it is impossible for him to commit sin. As Allah Almighty says: “In this way did We turn evil and lewdness away from him. Indeed, he was one of Our sincere, elect servants” [12:24]. You might say:Why did He decree that the servant be heedless of Him, turn away from Him, and lack sincer-
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ity to begin with? I say to this: Such is the nature of the human self. If He, the Most Exalted, does not wish good for a servant, He leaves him at the mercy of his lower self, which manifests itself as heedlessness and forgetfulness. You might then say:Why did He create the human self with such a nature? I say to this:This is an invalid question, for you might as well ask: Why did He not make him an angel rather than human? If you then ask:Why did He not give him the grace (tawfeeq) by which the servant could save himself from the evil of his self and the darkness of his nature? I say in response:This question is tantamount to asking why did Allah not create all of His creation equal and identical? Why did He create differences and oppositions? This is the most invalid of questions.We have already explained the requirements of His wisdom, and consequences of His Lordship and Dominion. 6. One’s lack of contentment can be attributed to either missing what one loves and desires, or experiencing what one dislikes. But since it is certain that whatever has eluded one could never have been his, and what befell him could never have been averted, there is no use in being angry and displeased about it. 7. Contentment opens the door of safety, guarding one’s heart against deception, anger, and confusion. Moreover, none shall be saved from the chastisement of Allah “except one who brings before Allah a sound heart” [26:89].The greater the contentment of a servant with what his Lord has given him, the greater the soundness and safety of his heart. For wickedness, corruption, and deception are companions of discontentment and anger. Similarly, envy (hasad) is one of the evil fruits of dis-
contentment and displeasure of the heart. 8. Discontentment opens up the door of doubting Allah, His predestination (qadha wa qadar), wisdom, and knowledge. For anyone who is angry and discontent will find, upon closer inspection, doubt and weakness in his heart.This is the meaning of a hadeeth found in Tirmithi, “If you can act with contentment along with certitude, do so. If not, there is much good in being patient over your suffering” (unknown tradition, not found in Tirmithi). In brief, contentment with what Allah has given you fills the heart with Allah, while discontentment empties Allah’s presence from it. 9. Contentment bears the fruit of gratitude (shukr), which is the highest of the stations of faith. Rather, it is the very essence of faith. Discontentment bears the opposite fruit—namely, ingratitude for one’s gifts (kufr an-ni‘am), and, possibly, even the denial of the Giver (kufr alMun‘im). 10. The Devil overcomes a man mostly due to either his discontent or uncontrolled desire.This is especially so if his discontentment or anger becomes a well-established habit and character. Such a man routinely intends, says, and does what displeases the Lord.This is why the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said at the death of his son, Ibraheem: “The heart grieves, the eye sheds tears, but we say naught but what pleases the Lord” (Bukhari and Muslim). 11. Finally, contentment with the Lord’s decrees drives out undisciplined desire and lust from the heart, for the one who is pleased with his Lord seeks the pleasure not of his lower self but of the Lord. For true contentment and illicit lust do not coexist in a heart.
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FAMILY LIFE MUSLIM FAMILY LIVING HAPPILY AND HEALTHFULLY
Readying Children for Ramadhan BY FAHMEEDA GILL
HERE’S NOTHING LIKE that feeling of anticipation in the weeks before Ramadhan. My heart flitters ceaselessly somewhere between agony and ecstasy at what I hope to put forth and what that blessed month may bring. This pre-Ramadhan excitement is an essential ingredient for a productive, meaningful Ramadhan and it can never begin too early. In fact, it must start early if we hope to instill the love and importance of Ramadhan in our children. Let the Fasts Begin! Fasting is the obvious Ramadhan activity to begin engaging your children in. However, it does not become obligatory upon them until they reach puberty (baligh).The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said: “The pens have been lifted from three: From one who has lost his mind until he comes back to his senses, from one who is sleeping until he wakes up, and from a child until he reaches the age of adolescence” (Abu Dawud). Scholars differ regarding the age a child should start fasting. Some analogize fasting to salah, holding that parents must begin training their children to fast at the age of 7 and then hold them accountable at the age of 10. Ibn Qudamah said: “This means that he should be made to fast and told to do so. And he should be spanked if he does
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not do it, so as to train him and make him get used to it, just as he should be made to perform salah and told to do it.”This is the view held by other prominent scholars such as Imam AshShafi‘i, Ata ibn Rabah, Al-Hasan AlBasri, and Ibn Sireen. Moreover, we know from various ahadeeth that the child-Companions of the Prophet fasted. ❂ The Prophet sent messengers to the villages of the Ansar on the morning of ‘Ashura (i.e., 10th of Muharram) with the message: “He who has started the day not fasting, let him finish his day, and he who has started the day fasting, let
him continue fasting.”A Companion remarked: “We used to fast that day thereafter, and make our children fast as well.We would make them woolen toys. If any of them cried of hunger, we would give him a toy to play with until it was time for ending the fast” (Bukhari). ❂ Bukhari points out that the practice of the people of Madinah was to encourage children to fast. He relates that Umar, the second Caliph, saw a man who was drunk during one day in Ramadhan. Umar than reproached him, saying: “Confound you, how do you do this when our children are fasting?” ❂ Ar-Rubyi’, the daughter of Mu‘awwath reported, “We used to fast and have our children fast.When we went to the masjid, we would give them cloth toys to play with.Whenever a child would cry for food, we would give that child the toys.We would do this until it was time to break the fast” (Bukhari and Muslim). Imam Ibn Hanbal, however, recommends the age of 10 and this view is also held by Al-Kharqi, the well-known Hanbali jurist, who said: “When a child is 10 years old and is able to fast, he should start to do so.” Other scholars recommend even older ages, Ishaaq said:
“When (a child) reaches the age of 12, he should be made to fast so that he gets used to it.” But according to Imam Malik, children do not need to fast until they reach the age of puberty. Still other scholars, like Imam AlAwza‘i, do not recommend an age, as every child responds differently to fasting. He said: “If a child is able to fast for three consecutive days without interruption and without becoming weak, then he should be made to fast Ramadhan.” It is obvious from these statements that parents need to exercise judgment in order to determine when to start working with every child on his or her fasting training. Fasting: Bite-By-Bite The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, “No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training” (Tirmithi). Generally speaking, the earlier the training, the better.As with introducing them to prayer, we should gradually introduce them to the concept and practice of fasting, nor should we coerce them into fasting while they are yet young. Dr. Rashad Lashin advises: “Between seven and nine years of age, it is possible to gradually introduce children to the fast.At the beginning, they can be encouraged to fast until 10 AM.Then the time can be increased until the time of the Dhuhr salah, then until the time of the Asr salah.At this point, we can encourage them, saying,‘Come on, be brave. Keep up the fast until sunset and complete it all the way.’” Our teacher, sallallahu alayhe wa sal-
PLAY AND LEARN
lam, spent the early years of the Islamic message developing consciousness of Allah in the hearts of the believers whereby they implemented His commands of their own accord, out of love, fear and hope of their Lord. Similarly, we should focus on helping our children cultivate their own personal relationship with Allah so that they may incline toward ‘ibadah of their own accord as they get closer to puberty. The Point of the Pangs We must ground our children, first and foremost, in firm knowledge of what the purposes of Ramadhan are. 1. Rahmah: Ramadhan is a mercy from Allah for it gives us an opportunity to draw closer to Him through increasing our ‘ibadah and taqwa.Thus our past sins are forgiven and our fasting shields us from the Hellfire and intercedes for us on the Day of Judgment. 2. Reward: It is a great time to reap reward since these are multiplied up to 700 times this month. 3. Reflection: Ramadhan provides a welcome break from our hectic lives to appreciate the blessings of Allah, reflect on shortcomings and identify areas for self-improvement. 4. Recharging: Fasting enables the body to take a rest from our constant intake of food. It shifts our focus away from the distractions of this world so that we may recharge our minds, bodies and souls for the coming year. Ramadhan: Points of Perspective Ramadhan is special. Let your children know why so that they feel rooted in his-
tory and participating in the past.Tell them that in this very month the Qur’an was first revealed, Islam first came to the world, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, began his prophethood. Tell your children that this is the month in which the Angel Gabriel would recite the whole Qur’an with the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam.Work with your children in their recitation and memorization; encourage them to pray taraweeh at home or in the masjid, to make thikr, and to learn new duaa and ahadeeth. Read the Seerah with them or have them listen to it on tapes before they sleep. Take this month to teach your children that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was sent to reform our character. Allah, we should reiterate, does not need our fasting. Fasting is a tool we need that should help us improve our character through teaching patience and kindness. Fasting is not a license to get easily upset or angry; it is meant to do just the opposite, in fact. (Note: the best way to teach this, and perhaps the only way, is to actually do it yourself). Nonetheless, parents need to keep in mind that fasting is hard in the beginning, especially when days are long and hot. Children will get tired and more irritable. Parents should find different ways to occupy their fasting children and work out several strategies to diffuse tension and potential arguments. Crank Up the Ramadhan Special-ness The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, taught by example. So too should we. Make the milestone events of AL JUMUAH
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daily Ramadhan life exciting and momentous. Get the whole family up for suhoor and eat your favorite foods (this is a sure-fire seller for falling utterly in love with Ramadhan. Believe me, there is nothing quite so thrilling for children as waking in middle of the night and having a feast.) Make iftar and taraweeh just as unique and memorable in their own ways. Let your children participate as much as possible:Appoint a Waker-Upper, a muathin, an Imam for salah, and so on. Encourage your kids to compete in acts of worship, have them perform as many good deeds as they can in this month. Hang a calendar on the wall to document their achievements so they may follow their progress. If they attend a Muslim school or even an after school madrasah, work with their instructors on motivational plans. I am not inclined toward the whole sticker-reward-culture or offers of money and gifts.We should nurture our children to do good deeds without expecting anything back. As frequent television use stifles creativity, wastes time and stagnates brain activity we should strongly consider eliminating it for the month.With the TV out of the way, you’ve just completed the first step to making a creative-
ere’s a sing-along-song I made up for you to sing with your young children. Create any lively tune for it.
Are You Ready to Fast?
Are you ready, are you ready for the Ramadhan fast? O month of mercy, you’re here at last. The gates of Heaven are thrown wide open. No word of thanks shall we leave unspoken. Allah’s mercy and forgiveness too Ramadhan holds these blessings for you. It starts with sighting the crescent moon O how its over all too soon! No food or drink from dawn to dusk. Our breath and spirit flow as sweet as musk. So hold your temper when you get in huff. Draw back your nafs when its starts puff.
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friendly environment for your children. Get up and do things! Go to the park, the zoo, the library, the museum, and other such places. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, was particularly generous in Ramadhan. Inculcate this characteristic in your children. Organizing iftars for friends, family and neighbors not only makes Ramadhan livelier for children, but it also teaches the great ethic of giving.Visit the sick and elderly with your children, explain to them this prophetic practice of emotional charity. Have your children make their own sadaqah box, instilling in them creativity, accomplishment, and generosity. Use different sorts of entertaining educational material, such as interactive quizzes, nasheeds, videos, and the like. Do arts and crafts. Kids old enough can keep their own Ramadhan Diary, writing in it their thoughts and feelings about their Ramadhan. Do not forget to engage your kids in discussion about what they’ve learned. If your children are in public schools then try to do a presentation about Ramadhan at their school. Do not underestimate the power of congratulating your children on their achievements and giving them positive feedback.
Leap & Bound Toward Eid It is critically and absolutely important in this anti-Muslim environment that your children have spectacular Eids.You should do your best to hype your kids up for that day. Plan Eid together and make it as special and fun as possible. Explain the moon-sighting to your kids (as simply as possible) and try to sight it together.This is a wonderful way to get children excited about and interested in Eid. Make the breakfast before the Eid prayer a big to-do.The first meal eaten in daylight after a month carries its own magic. Get together with family and organize a kid’s party with decorations, games and gifts to commemorate Ramadhan and give it that finishing touch. Finally, some words of advice from a brother who started fasted on his own volition at age 6 even though his parents would go to great lengths to avoid waking him up for suhoor: “After the first day, I found fasting addictive and it was easy to complete Ramadhan. I would fast even though my parents did not wake me up, as I wanted to do it for myself. My parents would give me extra pocket money and that kept me going.” May Allah accept it from you, and bless the Ramadhans of all our young.
Are you ready, are you ready for the Ramadhan fast? O month of mercy, you’re here at last. The gates of Heaven are thrown wide open. No word of thanks shall we leave unspoken. Allah’s mercy and forgiveness too Ramadhan holds these blessings for you.
No word of thanks shall we leave unspoken. Allah’s mercy and forgiveness too Ramadhan holds these blessings for you.
Early we wake for suhoor’s blessings to take, With khushoo‘ we pray our fast to break. In qiyam we stand for Taraweeh, O how we weep as the Qari reads We grow weary like the refugees do We feel the pangs as the hungry too Are you ready, are you ready for the Ramadhan fast? O month of mercy, you’re here at last. The gates of Heaven are thrown wide open.
We read Qur’an all through the day, The nightlong we stand and pray We give and give, then we give some more To clothe the naked and to feed the poor So keep on looking in the last ten days Pray that the Night of Power comes your way Are you ready, are you ready for the Ramadhan fast? O month of mercy, you’re here at last. The gates of Heaven are thrown wide open. No word of thanks shall we leave unspoken. Allah’s mercy and forgiveness too Ramadhan holds these blessings for you. Umm Ismail copyright Sha’ban, 2007
ILLUSTRATED INVOCATIONS AND PRAYERS OF THE PROPHET When Waking up
“Praise be to Allah who gave us life after having given us death, and to Him is [our] final return.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Before Entering the Bathroom
“In the name of Allah, O Allah, I take refuge with you from male and female demons.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
After Leaving the Bathroom
“[O Allah] I seek Your forgiveness.” (Abu Dawud)
At the End of Ablution
“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.” Then recite the following: “O Allah, make me of those who repent and of those who maintain purity.” (Tirmithi)
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ILLUSTRATED INVOCATIONS AND PRAYERS OF THE PROPHET After Hearing the Call to Salah
“O Allah, Lord of this perfect call and the established Salah, grant Muhammad a place near to You, an excellent and exalted degree, and raise him to the praiseworthy station that you have promised him.” (Bukhari)
When Entering the Masjid
“In the name of Allah, and may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, O Allah, open for me the doors of Your mercy.” (Abu Dawud)
Before Starting Recitation of the Qur'an
"I seek refuge in Allah from Satan, the accursed."
Duaa of the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr)
“O Allah,You are forgiving [and You] love forgiveness, so forgive me.” (Tirmithi)
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W O R D S E A R C H DID YOU KNOW That the Qur’an has 30 major parts, each called Juz’, and that it is further divided into 114 surahs or chapters of which 86 are Makkan surahs and 28 are Madinan surahs. And according to Kufi count, the Qur’an has 6236 verses comprised of 77934 words and 323670 letters. And that the recitation of each of these letters carries a minimum reward of ten blessings, and that the recitation of the surah of al-Ikhlass (112) three consecutive times entitles one to reward equal to one full recitation of the whole Qur’an.
ANSWER OF LAST WORD PUZZLE A
D U L
H U S
NAMES AND ATTRIBUTES OF THE QUR’AN Scholars are in Agreement that al-Qur’an and Al-Kitab are two names of the Book of Lord and Creator,Allah the Most High. Other names are sometimes called attributes of the Qur’an. Here are a few names and attributes for you to learn of what they mean and of the Qur’anic verse that state each of them.
1. Breaking of the fast after sunset. 4. The Arabic word for fast. 6. Gate of Jannah through which the people who often observe fasting will enter on the Day of Judgement. 8. The ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. 9. Starts right after the Adhan of Fajr.
1. Spending the night at the Masjid in prayer and repentance. 2. Better than a thousand months. 3. Takes place on the 1st of Shawal. 5. This is pillar of Islam. 7. Breaking your fast with this food is sunnah.
Name of the Surah:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
A. The Light, [43:44]. B. The Revelation, [21:45]. C. That which read or brought together, [41:3].
Al-Qur’an Al-Kitab Al-Furqan Ath-Thikr An-Noor Al-Wahy
D. The Book, Scripture, [2:2]. E. The Reminder, [15:9]. F. Criterion, [25:1].
Answer Matching list 20 08: KEY: 1G – 2C – 3K – 4A – 5L – 6B – 7D – 8J – 9F – 10I – 11E – 12H AL JUMUAH
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Ramadhan….with BABY! Tips on Making a Mother’s Fast Last BY SUMAYYAH MEEHAN
“To Allah belong the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills” —The Qur’an, 42:49 A MOTHER LODE OF RAMADHAN BLESSINGS CHILDREN ARE GOD’S gifts to whomever He so pleases.As such, they should not become obstacles to our thankful efforts in Ramadhan to increase our worship of a most gracious and generous Lord. Ramadhan is back again, Alhamdulillah—and not a moment too soon! We should be grateful we are granted another precious chance to fast, increase our acts of worship, and pile up as many good deeds as possible in just a month’s time. It is often over in a blink of an eye. So it’s a race to make the most of each day and night in devotion to, and sincere worship of, Allah, our Lord and Creator. But for a worshipper who’s also a wife, this goal can be an oh so difficult one to achieve—balancing a Ramadhan schedule for the soul against taking care of a home and a family in a fasting and night-intensive time.This is exponentially truer for mothers who are breastfeeding and caring for a baby while fasting and running a fasting household. How often a new mother is up all night with her baby tending to its needs 92
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and settling it to sleep! She barely closes her eyes before it’s the wee hours of the night and its time to get up and start the fasting day.The loss of sleep, weakness from fasting, and the substantial calorie and time losses of nursing a hungry baby can leave a worshipping mother exhausted, even depressed. These are the last feelings of spirit a Muslim seeks to mine, especially during the auspicious month of Qur’an. When that Muslimah is also a mother, she struggles both to fulfill her families needs and that of the home, in addition to her own Ramadhan worship.There can be no doubt that fasting, salah, and recitation of Qur’an own a higher priority over her, even as the Noble Qur’an reminds us: “O you who believe! Let not your wealth nor your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah.And whoever does this— then it is they who are the losers” [63:9].Yet a Muslim
mother’s household and care-giving worship do not desist. Yet while maintaining the fast and sustaining increased acts of worship in Ramadhan presents such women with particularly arduous challenges, it nonetheless remains true that she can excel on the siyam and qiyam side and in the administration and nurture of home and baby too. Indeed, it is not only absolutely possible, but utterly spiritually invigorating.With substantial organization and pre-planning, motivated new mothers (and new mothers again) can reap all the rewards of Ramadhan and then some, and enjoy this special month too. DOWN-HOME RAMADHAN ADVICE Sister Alayah, a stay-at-home mother of four in Georgia, has this counsel for Ramadhan mothers: Do as much preparation as possible well before Ramadhan even begins. “I have fasted during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and [while] coping with colicky babies. You name it and I went through it.” What worked best for Sister Alayah was making a balanced Ramadhan schedule and sticking to it. “I just made sure that everything had its time and place. I planned the Ramadhan suhoor and iftar meals beforehand. I created the daily menus and went shopping.” For older children,Alayah recommends having crafts and simple toys on hand to keep them occupied so that you can make salah, read the Qur’an, or work in the kitchen. “I make Ramadhan folders for my children. They have their own schedule for fun activities during the Ramadhan day, as well as Qur’an and hadeeth study pages. I also print coloring and craft pages from the Internet, which is an excellent resource.” As for caring for a baby Alayah says: “I always make sure that my baby is well fed and cared for first before I tend to other activities.” By doing this, the baby is less likely to be fussy when the mother wants to perform salah or
read the Qur’an.With a clean diaper and a full belly, the baby will most likely be content while the mother engages in acts of worship or other activities. Mothers can also rely a bit on technology when trying to free her hands up for worship or housework. Automated baby swings and rockers are hot items for infants, though they can cost.They may soothe your baby, but they won’t protect them. Be sure you are in the same room supervising to ensure the safety of your baby. SAMURAI STRATEGIES FOR A SWEET RAMADHAN Aasiya, another stay-at-home mom who lives in Japan, remembers being all alone during Ramadhan with her then 1-month-old baby Safa. “I was recovering from a C-section and could not do much around the house. I relied on an ‘old wives’ technique to make my baby sleep longer during the Ramadhan nights.”Aasiya bathed her daughter every night before bed then swaddled her firmly in a blanket. “She would sleep tight through the night. I would be able to recite Qur’an and [make] thikr or warm up my heart in salah without interruption.” Aasiya also made it a habit of getting up an hour before the suhoor meal so that she could perform the tahajjud salah night vigil and prepare things for the next day while her baby snoozed. Simple things like quickly chopping vegetables or defrosting meat can be done right before suhoor so that they will be ready when you need them later in the day. What helped Aasiya most during Ramadhan was keeping the iftar menu simple. “I stuck with preparing one appetizer, one main course and fruit salad every day during Ramadhan.” She also kept the cleaning of her home to a bare minimum. “Being a cleaning freak, I had to make myself understand one thing in Ramadhan: I am supposed to do my salah and Qur’an recitation properly. Nobody is going to award me
medals for keeping the house super clean.All energy I have would be my baby’s requirement when she was awake in the daytime, so I should be loyal to Allah and my daughter in Ramadhan.” For breastfeeding mothers who want to fast but fear their milk supply will diminish or they will feel extra thirsty, Aasiya shares some advice that helped her during Ramadhan with her baby. “I always ate yogurt during the suhoor meal, as someone told me it helps prevent thirst. It worked like a charm for me. I also drank a lot of fluids, mostly water, during suhoor and after iftar.”As a result, Sister Aasiya had no trouble fasting in Ramadhan and rarely felt thirsty, even though she maintained her regular breastfeeding schedule to keep up with the demands of her baby. …If Only You Knew It’s important to note that pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are not required to fast during Ramadhan and can make up the missed days at a later date. But the incentives, the incentives… Allah,Transcendent and Exalted, says in the Gracious Qur’an: [Fasting] is for a specified number of days. But one among you who is sick or is on a journey [shall fast] the same number of other days.Yet for those who are [hardly] able to endure it, [and do not fast,] the redemption [for each day] is feeding an indigent person [instead]. And if one volunteers a good offering [over and above this], it is better for him, [still]. However, if you fast [despite difficulty], it is best for you, if only you were to know [2:184]. Thus many Muslim women opt to
fast during Ramadhan and it is permissible for them to do so, in accordance with the approval of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. Remember! All the missed fasts from Ramadhan must be made up at a later date. Say, 29 or 30 days of fasting, sometimes running into multiple years of childbearing and nursing, can be hard to make up on your own. Moreover, not fasting in Ramadhan truly makes the heart heavy and sad. “When you are determined to fast in Ramadhan so that you do not have to make up the fasts later all alone, you show courage,” observes Aasiya. “Ask Allah for help. It is His blessing that will energize you during the fast.You will feel successful after a whole month of Ramadhan worship while juggling the care of your baby and the housework.” Ramadhan is like a rainbow that appears in the sky after a cloudburst on a sun-drenched day. Its beauty and mercy last only as long as the time it is permitted by Allah. Muslims must seize the Ramadhan days and nights in utter worship of Allah while striving to keep distractions at bay. “Ramadhan is a beautiful month, so have patience,” says Sister Alayah. “Get the whole family involved in worship and lending a hand to the mother of the home so that she, too, can worship.” Incidentally, Sister Alayah has taken her Ramadhan scheduling to the ultimate level by implementing it for the entire year, not fasting daily, of course. “Everything I have shared is now the basic routine for my family, not just during Ramadhan. So, when Ramadhan comes again it is not hard for my family to adjust.” AL JUMUAH
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R E F L E C T I O N S
In Light of a Mid-Day’s Night BY KASHIF GAMIELDIEN
EING PLUNGED INTO darkness can be an illuminating event. But, let me explain. South Africa—where I live—has been affected by on-and-off electricity-supply cuts for the past three years—with no solution in sight. And no, this is not yet another diatribe against the national energy supplier. Allow me to muse about what happens when “the lights go out.” First, poof! Silence…except, that is, for passing traffic, and the odd lawnmower and low-flying airplane. 96
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Ignore, if you can, the sickening knot rising in your stomach when you realize that the last time you deliberately hit “save” on your pc, was three years ago—in fact, the day after the first “power-outages” struck your city! Ignore too, for the moment, the domino scenario speedily falling into ominous shape in your imagination— fed, it is obvious, directly by that now bitter-tasting knot rising in your stomach. Now, if your phone’s not working, your PC’s in hibernation, and there’s not even the welcome escape into a cup of tea to seek out, then, peering out of the gloom in your office, you might just start to notice those morethan-half-forgotten shapes of old “familiars.” Other people! What did you think I meant? After routinely ignoring them (all in the name of greater productivity, and the cultivation of a “no-nonsense,” unsentimental, “see-me-going-to-thetop,” attitude), we find, sometimes felicitously, that we have been rubbing shoulders not only with a shape, but one that has a head (and a heart, too). But how now to immerse myself in these scattered pools of barakah that, day-in, day-out, come “and make mouths” at me? What was that parable set forth in the inimitable Qur’an? Ah, yes! “A good word [of faith, in witness of One God] is like a good tree: Its root is set firm. And its branches are in heaven.” [14:24] I can’t be wrong in attempting to sow some worthwhile seeds. I gulp down another knot—this time in my throat, the one colored with the rosy-blush of embarrassment—and try to start a conversation with whoever is responsive. Disaster! Everyone speaks at the same time. Everyone takes a breath at the same time. And then starts up again…at the same time! Giggles. Laughter even. Ice broken. Some try again. And there it was! We were covered in it!
The delicious realization that here were so many varied, imperfect, interesting, helpless people, mirroring, uh, let’s see. Oh, me! Another pearl of priceless worth thuds into my mind.Then barbs suddenly sink into my consciousness: “He frowned and turned away….” How easy it is to overlook the thousand natural blessings that cry out: “Duaa! For I too am a mirror of others, another sign of the All-Living, the MostHigh!” Not that we do not already know this, of course! But that we can so easily and culpably forget the innumerable blessings, both small and great, that our hardened hearts take all-too-much for granted. Now, don’t get me wrong. Practically speaking, I, too, like most all of you, am driven to my knees to beg the Provider to “not lay upon me a burden that I have not the strength to bear.” I too am concerned about global insecurity, the scarcity of rice, the astronomical rise in the price of Brent Crude, global warming, the “increase of natural calamities toward the end,” as indicated by a hadeeth of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam. But—at the risk of sounding trite to some—do I not enjoy sight, and see around me others deprived of it? What is life like not being able to hear your children’s voices? And do my limbs not take me—well, you can see where I am being taken…. I awaken to my unlit surroundings. Not everyone wants to talk. Some have better things to do. I seek out those whom I hope will help me while away the time not unprofitably. The conversation inevitably makes its way to “What’s wrong with the world?” Hmmm… …And then, half consciously, I hear in the corridor a barely audible, “Alhamdulillahi ala kulli hal,” “Praised be God in every circumstance,” said with a smile, as two hands meet…and clasp…and hold…