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How to Raise Truthful Children

By Muhammad Al-Ghazali

Islam commands that in the hearts of the children the seeds of the greatness and importance of truth be sown, so that they may grow up and develop on truth and may become young in its lap; and they may give it its due place in their talks.

How to Raise Truthful Children

Adoption of straight dealing and telling the truth has been very strictly insisted upon in Islam.

`Abdullah ibn `Aamir said: “once my mother called me when the Prophet was present in my house. My mother asked me to come and said that she would give me a certain thing. He asked what did she want to give? She said that she wanted to give me a date (fruit). The Prophet said: “If you had not given him this date, then the committing of a falsehood would have been entered into your record of deeds”. (Abu Dawud)

Abu Hurayrah says that the Prophet has said:

“Anybody who called a child saying that he would give him a certain thing, and did not give it, then it is a lie.” (Ahmad)

It is worth noting that in what a wise way the Prophet has instructed his followers to train their children in such a manner that they should consider truth and straight dealing respectable things and should avoid telling lies. Had the Prophet ignored these things and had not emphatically reminded about them, then there was a danger that the children on growing up would not have considered telling lies as sin.

Adoption of straight dealing and telling the truth has been very strictly insisted upon, so much so that it has been enjoined upon to take care about this in even small household matters.

Asmaa’ bint Yazid narrates that she once asked the Messenger of Allah:

“If someone of us women stated that she had no desire to have a certain thing even though she had that desire, then would it be considered a lie?”

He replied: “Falsehood is written as falsehood, and a small falsehood is written as a small falsehood.” (Muslim)

Not to Tell a Lie Even in a Joke

The establisher of the Shari`ah (peace be upon him) has warned of all the occasions where falsehood can be used and the adverse consequences of the same, so much so that it is not possible for even an ordinary enforcer to misguide the people about the reality or to lessen its importance.

A man tends to make false statements in cutting jokes, thinking that on the occasions of entertaining people there is nothing wrong if baseless information is given or false and imaginary events are related. But Islam, which considers providing relief to hearts as permissible, has fixed only those methods proper and permissible which are within that: limits of truth, because halal is much broader than haram and that truth is independent of falsehood. Allah’s Messenger has said:

“Death for the man who indulges in story-telling in order to make some people laugh and for that he relies on falsehood. There is death for him, there is destruction for him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

In another hadith it is stated:

“I give guarantee of a house in the middle of Paradise for the man who has given up falsehood, though he was required to indulge in humor.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

The Prophet has said:

“A believer cannot have complete faith unless he gives up falsehood in his jokes and debates though in all other matters he speaks the truth.” (Ahmad)

This is our daily observation that people give full rein to their tongues in the matter of humorous talks to make others laugh, and do not hesitate to spread the tales and stories invented by friends or foes only for the purpose of getting some pleasure or for pulling some one’s leg, when the world has absolutely prohibited such a wrong policy, and this is a fact that this kind of entertainment and amusements and false acts create enmities and rivalries,

Avoid Exaggeration in Praise

Some peoples when they praise somebody, go to the extent of exaggerating and making false statements. For a Muslim it is necessary that when he praises somebody he should do it to the extent to which he knows about that man, he should avoid exaggeration and falsehood in showering praises of the praised one, although he may be deserving of the praises, for exaggeration is a kind of falsehood which has been forbidden,

To a person who was praising the Prophet, he said: “Do not indulge in exaggeration while praising me, as the Christians did in the case of Ibn Maryam (Christ). I am only a slave. So only say that he is a slave of Allah and His Messenger.” (Al-Bukhari)

A group of such people is always found who lick the boots of the leaders and rulers of the country and praise them to heaven. The main purpose of their lives is to compose very lengthy panegyric poems or to write long-drawn essays in praise of their benefactors.

Thus, they try to make a mountain of the molehill and place an unknown person in the palace of fame. Sometimes they do not even hesitate to call the tyrant rulers as standard bearers of justice and coward and chicken hearted soldiers as brave and lion-hearted fighters. Their only purpose in this is to earn wealth.

This is the worst kind of falsehood. Allah’s Messenger has counseled us to totally reject them and expose them till they give up their wrong practices.

Abu Hurayrah says that the Prophet has commanded us that we should throw dust in the face of those who indulge in exaggeration in their praises. (At-Tirmidhi)

The commentators have pointed out that the persons mentioned here are those who make exaggeration as their habit and through this try to earn gifts and presents from the praised ones but those persons who praise the performers of good acts with a view to encouraging them and to inciting others to follow their example are not meant.

The limits where a Muslim stops and which keep him distinct from the bootlickers and the exaggerators are: that he praises his benefactor or a good person, but he does not let him indulge in vanity and pride. These limits have been clarified by the Prophet.

Abu Bakr narrates that a man praised someone in the presence of Allah’s Messenger and the Prophet told him:

“Fie on you, you have separated the head of your companion,” He repeated these words and then said: “If someone wants to praise his brothers then if he is aware of the facts then he should say that I think he is such and such and Allah is the real Knower, and there is none purer and innocent than Allah; I consider him bearer of these qualities.” (Al-Bukhari)

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim

 

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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Islam and the Right of Privacy

By Zeinab Hassan Ashry

In Islam, the right of privacy for every individual is highly respected.

Prying into people’s private affairs and spying on their secrets are not permitted even if they are engaged in sins as long as they do it privately and not openly.

Respect People’s Privacy

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ”Whosoever listens to people’s conversation against their wishes will have molten lead poured into his ears on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud and others)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:

“Beware of suspicion (about others), as suspicion is the most dishonest talk, and do not spy upon each other, and do not listen to the evil talk of the people about others’ affairs, and do not have enmity with one another, but be brothers. And none should ask for the hand of a girl who is already engaged to his (Muslim) brother, but one should wait till the first suitor marries her or leaves her.” (Al-Bukhari)

Be a Big Brother/Sister

Islam builds its community on mutual love, brother-hood co-operation. Muslims are but brothers and sisters. The Qur’an states:

The believers are but a single Brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your brothers. And fear Allah so that you may receive Mercy.

A Muslim should guard the rights of brotherhood. He should do his best to show sympathy toward people and remove their difficulties.

He must strive to overcome his pride, anger, hatred, ill feelings, and jealousy toward people and humble himself toward them.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever covered a Muslim, Allah will cover him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet also said:

“Do not envy one another, and do not inflate prices one to another, and do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another, but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt.

Piety is right here,” and he pointed to his breast three times. “It is evil enough for a man to hold his Muslim brother in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for another Muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honor.” (Muslim)

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The article is excerpted from the author’s  The True Muslim, published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How to Acquire Knowledge of God?

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

How does one acquire knowledge of and belief in God, His Attributes, His Law and the Day of Judgment?

How to Acquire Knowledge of God

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator.

There are countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is One and only One Creator and Governor of this Universe and it is He Who controls and directs it.

These manifestations reflect the divine attributes of the Creator: His great wisdom, His all-embracing knowledge, His omnipotence, His mercy, His all-sustaining power – in short His attributes can be traced everywhere in His works. But man’s intellect and capacity for knowledge have erred in observing and understanding them.

Searching for Balanced Code of Life

Some men have argued that there are two gods, others have professed belief in a trinity, and still others have succumbed to polytheism. Some have worshiped nature and others divided the Creator into the gods of rain, air, fire, life, death and so on.

Similarly, men have put forward many erroneous notions about life after death; for instance, that man is reduced to dust after death and will not rise to life again; or that man is subject to a process of continuous regeneration in this world and is punished or rewarded in future cycles of life.

Even greater difficulty arises when we come to the question of a code of living. To formulate a complete and balanced code that conforms to God’s pleasure merely using human reason is an extremely difficult task.

Even if a man is equipped with the highest faculties of reason and intellect and possesses matchless wisdom and experience, the chances of his formulating the correct views on existence are slight.

And even if, after a lifetime of reflection, he does in fact succeed he will still lack the confidence that he has really discovered the truth and adopted the right path.

Need for Guidance

The fullest and fairest test of man’s wisdom, reason and knowledge might have been to have left him to his own resources without any external guidance. But this would have meant that only those with the determination and ability to find the path of truth would find salvation.

God, therefore, spared His human creatures such a hard test. Through His Grace and Benevolence He raised for mankind men from among themselves to whom He imparted the true knowledge of His attributes, revealed to them His Law and the Right Code of Living, gave them the knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life and of life after death and thus showed them the way by which man can achieve success and eternal bliss.

These chosen men are the Messengers of God – His Prophets. God has communicated knowledge and wisdom to them by means of revelation, and the book containing the Divine Communications is called the Book of God, or the Word of God.

The test of man’s wisdom and intellect therefore lies in this: does he recognize God’s Messengers after observing their pure and pious lives and carefully studying their noble and flawless teachings? A man of wisdom and common sense would accept instructions given by the Messengers of truth.

If he denies the Messengers of God and their teachings, his denial would signify that he was devoid of the capacity to discover truth and righteousness. He would fail his test. Such a man will never be able to discover the truth about God and His Law and life after death.

Faith in the Unknown

It is an everyday experience that when you do not know a thing, you look for somebody who does know. If you get ill and you cannot treat and cure yourself, you go to a doctor and follow his instructions without question. Why? Because he is properly qualified to give medical advice, possesses experience and has treated and cured a number of patients.

Similarly, in matters of law you accept whatever a legal expert says and act accordingly.

In educational matters you trust in your teacher. When you want to go to some place and do not know the way, you ask somebody who knows it, and follow the way he points out. In short, the course that you adopt in your day-to-day life about matters which you do not or cannot know is that you approach someone who does know about them, accept his advice and act accordingly. You make every effort to select the proper person.

But from then on you accept his advice unquestioningly. This kind of belief is called “belief in the unknown (Al-Ghayb)”.

The Prophets

Belief in Al-Ghayb signifies that you get knowledge of what was not known to you from one who knows. You do not know God and His real attributes. You are not aware that His angels are directing the machinery of the whole Universe according to His orders, and that they surround you on all sides. You have not the proper knowledge of the way of life through which you can seek the pleasure of your Creator. And you are in the dark about the life to come.

Such knowledge is given to you by the Prophets, who have had direct contact with the Divine Being. They are the persons whose sincerity, integrity, trustworthiness, godliness and absolute purity stand as irrevocable witnesses to the truth of their claim to knowledge.

And above all, the wisdom and force of their message makes you admit that they speak the truth and deserve to be believed and followed.

This conviction of yours is Belief in Al-Ghayb. Such a truth-discerning and truth acknowledging attitude is essential for obedience to God and for acting in accordance with His pleasure; for you have no other medium than God’s Messengers for the achievement of true knowledge, and without true knowledge you cannot proceed on the path of Islam.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Towards Understanding Islam” by Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi.

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His Life New Muslims

The Prophet’s Biography: A Well-Preserved Model for Mankind

By Salman Al-Oadah

The Prophet…His Biography

God has selected Muhammad as the finale of the divine message. He said:

…he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

As such, God made him a model for people:

Truly in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks to Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much. (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Prophet’s biography be so apparent to those who lived during his time, both friends and enemies, men and women, young and less young, those nearby and those at a distance. They knew every detail about his life; nothing of his personality was hidden from them. And that which they could not see about his private life was reported to them in detail by his wives.

So much so that we know of his private life – his ways of eating and drinking, traveling and home staying, while he was awake or sleeping, and other everyday activities, more than we know about any celebrity. We know more about him than we know about our parents or teachers.

I would not be exaggerating if I said that we know more about him than we know about our own selves: some of us do things that we may pay little attention to. But once others have commented on us, we may say that we were not aware of what we were doing if what is said about us is really true. However, we know about the life of our Prophet down to the smallest detail. And what an exalted and fascinating biography it is!

A Well-Preserved Biography

It is with the will of God that this biography was preserved in minute detail. When you read such books on the Prophet’s special features as Al-Shamayl Al-Muhammadiya, by At-Tirmidhi, or its simplified version Al-Mokhtassar, by Al-Albani, as well as other similar works, you see a very detailed portrayal of the Prophet. For example, they would talk about the white hairs in his hair and beard.

Anas reported that “I did not count in the Prophet’s hair and beard more than fourteen white hairs.” (Ahmad and Ibn Hibban) Or, in another report, “…and there were less than twenty white hairs in his hair and beard”. (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Hibban)

In another report, a Companion states that “Allah had the soul of His Apostle without betraying his age with white hair: there were hardly thirty white hairs in his hair and beard”. (Ahmad) Even the number of white hairs in the hair and beard of the Prophet was documented.

Not only that, the very location of those hairs was specified.

One of the most attractive features of this biography is that by preserving it and making it a model for mankind, God left no excuse to humans. This biography has been carefully preserved by scholars and historians like no other biography has been. And none of the other prophets’ lives has been documented the way this prophet’s life has.

For example, if asked about the life of Moses, the Jews will give scattered accounts from parts of his life, with little historical evidence based on scientific facts. The Muslims, however, have paid attention to the smallest details about him, with utmost rigidity as to the credibility of the reporters of the accounts as well as their names.

The discipline of ‘Al Jarh wa al-Ta’deel’ (Criticism and Commendation (of reporters)) enumerated about five hundred thousand names at the time, although people had no printers, computers, or other assisting machines. However, they reached exceptional levels of memorization and accurate distinctions of names and people which surpassed many of the machines which technology has produced today. All this was done for one purpose– the conservation of the Prophet’s biography, tradition, and guidance.

An Exalted Biography

God – the All Wise – did not choose His Messenger at random. He made pure his interior and exterior, his speech and acts, his body and his heart.

But when you read his biography – when you read about his biography, every aspect of his life stirs further admiration in you for him. When you read about the details of his look, his face, hair, stature, clothing, etc. you feel more love in your heart for him, and your soul bolsters in faith.

His behavior, his manners, and the way he treats all people are all the more amazing!

In a word, the more you discover about him, the more you love him. This is why loving him is a sign of faith. It is a condition of believing in him as a messenger to find in your heart a great place of sincere love for this noble prophet.

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The article is excerpted from the book  “In the Company of the Prophet (God’s Chosen Messenger)” , by Salman Al-Oadah, published by IslamToday, 2012.

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Moral Teachings of Muhammad: Lessons from the Sunnah

By Editorial Staff

Prophet Muhammad had possessed an exceptionally moral character among his people from the very beginning of his life. God selected such a man to convey the message of Islam.

morals sunrays

The Prophet’s life mirrored the due harmony between faith and actions.

Muhammad perfectly fulfilled his message of responsibility of leading Arabia from the darkness and ignorance of Jahiliyyah to the light of Islam and its moral teachings which are actually offered to all humanity.

It was by the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them (O Muhammad), for if you had been severe or harsh-hearted, they would have dispersed from round about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. And when you are resolved, then put your trust in Allah. Lo! Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

The Prophet’s life mirrored the due harmony between faith and actions. He is the exemplary and the prime model of conduct for all Muslims to follow.

The Qur’an emphasizes the exalted moral character of the Prophet (peace be upon him):

Nun. By the pen and by what you write, (Muhammad), you are not insane, thanks to the bounty of your Lord. You will certainly receive a never-ending reward. You have a sublime morality. (Al-Qalam 68:1-4)

Lessons from the Sunnah

The Prophet’s hadiths about righteousness, tolerance and moral conduct are the embodiment of his noble character.

Morality and moral conduct constitute a basic principle of Islam and one cannot be a true Muslims without good moral qualities.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“There are two characteristics which are not combined in a believer; miserliness and bad morals.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Ad-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“The heaviest thing which will be put on the believer’s scale (on the Day of Resurrection) will be good morals.” (Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

Also, Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah  said: “The fear of Allah and good morals (akhlaq) are the two major characteristics which lead to Paradise.” (At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim)

The Best Believer

Allah’s Messenger also said: “The best amongst you are those who are best in morals.”  (Muslim)

An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an narrated, ‘I asked the Messenger of Allah about virtue and sin and he replied:

“The essence of virtue is (manifested in) good morals (akhlaq) whereas sinful conduct is that which turns in your heart (making you feel uncomfortable) and you dislike that it would be disclosed to other people.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“You (people) cannot satisfy people with your wealth, but satisfy them with your cheerful faces and good morals.” (Abu Ya`la and Al-Hakim)

Moral Conduct in Daily Life

Once the Prophet passed by an Ansari who was scolding his brother about his immodesty. The Prophet advised him to let him go as modesty was a branch of faith.

A man who harasses his neighbor and makes him suffer any kind of damage is called cruel and stonehearted by the religion. In this connection the decision of the Prophet is:

“By God, he cannot be a believer; by God, he cannot be a believer; by God, he cannot be a believer. He was asked: ‘who’, He answered: ‘He from whose misdeeds his neighbor is not safe’.“ (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet advises his companions to keep away from the talk that is trash, the acts that are wicked, and the deeds that are senseless. He says:

“A person who believes in Allah and the Hereafter should speak about good things or else should keep quiet.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Prophet’s Du`aa’ for Perfect Morality

Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “O Allah You have made my creation perfect, so make my moral characteristics also be the best.” (Ahmad)

Also, Qutbah bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to say:

“O Allah, I seek refuge in you from evil morals, deeds, passions and diseases.” (At-Tirmidhi and Al-Hakim)

 

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`Ashura’: History and Significance

There are many hadiths reported from the Prophet (peace be upon him) in relation to `Ashura’. `Ashura’ is the tenth day of the month of Muharram, the first month in the Hijri calendar. When the word `Ashura’ is mentioned, people immediately think of one thing, i.e. fasting.

Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. Muslims have to fast during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Hijri calendar. Apart from the obligatory fasting, Muslims are highly recommended to practice some other voluntary fastings such as fasting on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each lunar month, fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, fasting on the Day of `Arafah, etc.

Fasting on the month of Muharram is the best type of voluntary fasting. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.’” (Muslim)

The Significance of `Ashura’

Therefore, fasting during the month of Muharram is highly recommended in Islam. For this reason, fasting on the Day of `Ashura’ is greatly rewarded because first it falls in the month of Muharram and second it has a special significance in Islam.

Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet came to Madinah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of `Ashura’. He asked them about that. They replied, “This is a good day, the day on which Allah rescued Bani Israel from their enemy. So, Moses fasted this day.” The Prophet said, “We have more claim over Moses than you.” So, the Prophet  fasted on that day and ordered (the Muslims) to fast (on that day). (Al-Bukhari)

From Moses On

Based on this hadith, we can claim that fasting on the Day of `Ashura’ has its historical roots. It was practiced before the advent of Islam. The Prophet and his Companions used to fast on that day while they were in Makkah. Scholars maintain that it was an obligatory fasting and later when Allah commanded Muslims to fast during the month of Ramadan, the Prophet asked someone to make it clear to people whoever wants to fast, he may fast and whoever wants not to fast there in nothing wrong with him.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fasted this day. It was the day on which Allah the Almighty, out of His Mercy, rescued the Children of Israel from their enemy; Pharaoh and his army.

The story of Prophet Moses is repeated many times in the Qur’an because it has something in common with the story of Prophet Muhammad in terms of the hardships they both went through.

From day one Prophet Moses was put to test until he received divine revelation and since then the challenges became even huge. Prophet Moses was supported with many miracles, but his people did not follow his message. Pharaoh and his army plotted against him.

Prophet Moses was commanded by Allah to leave Egypt and go to Syria. I will let the Qur’an to summarize what happened and how Moses and the Children of Israel were saved:

We revealed to Moses, ‘Go out at night with My servants and strike a dry path for them across the sea. Have no fear of being overtaken and do not be dismayed.’ Pharaoh pursued them with his armies and was overwhelmed by the sea. Pharaoh truly led his people astray; he did not guide them. Children of Israel, We rescued you from your enemies. We made a pledge with you on the right-hand side of the mountain. We sent down manna and quails for you. (Ta-Ha 20:77-80)

This encounter happened on the 10th of Muharram. For this reason Prophet Moses and the Children of Israel used to fast on that day. What we learn from the story is that truth will prevail and falsehood will come to an end.

Following the habit of Prophet Moses strengthens in us the spirit of human brotherhood. The was the message that the Prophet wanted to convey from his words: “We have more claim over Moses than you.”

Back to the issue of fasting on the day of `Ashura, let me remind you of the great reward for observing fasting: Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove, because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years’ distance.” (Muslim) Therefore, fasting will serve as a shield against Hellfire.

Levels of Fasting

Scholars view that there are three kinds of fasting on the occasion of `Ashura’. The best of which is to fast on the 9th, 10th and 11th of Muharram. Then comes the fasting on the 9th and 10th. Finally comes the fasting on the 10th of Muharram.

The Prophet is reported to have observed fasting on the 10th  and he said: “If I live next year, I shall also fast on the 9th day.” (Ahmad)

Odd Actions on the Day of `Ashura’

Some people spend generously on their children on the day of `Ashura’. Some decorate their houses. Some apply kohl. All these practices have no authentic evidence from the Prophet’s Sunnah.

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Muharram and `Ashura’: History and Blessings

Allah’s sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month. It is the first month of the Hijri year (Islamic calendar which started with the Prophet’s migration from Makkah to Madinah) and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says:

Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year) so was it ordained by Allah on the day when he created the Heaven and the Earth; of them four are Sacred – that is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…. (At-Tawbah 9: 36)

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet said: “The year is twelve months of which four are sacred, the three consecutive months of Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram, and Rajab which comes between Jumada al-Thani and Sha`ban.” (Al-Bukhari)

Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.

Allah’s words: so wrong not yourselves therein…. mean: do not wrong yourselves in these sacred months, because sin in these months is worse than in other months.

Ibn `Abbas said that the phrase “so wrong not yourselves therein….” referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

Qatadah (may Allah be pleased with him) said concerning the same phrase that wrongdoing during the sacred months is more serious and more sinful than wrongdoing at any other time. Wrongdoing at any time is a serious matter, but God gives more weight to whichever of His commands He wills.

God has chosen certain ones of His creation. He has chosen from among the angels Messengers and from among mankind Messengers. He chose from within speech the remembrance of Him. He chose from upon the earth the mosques, from among the months Ramadan and the sacred months, from among the days Friday and from among the nights Laylat Al-Qadr, so venerate that which Allah has told us to venerate. People of understanding and wisdom venerate the things that Allah has told us to venerate. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

More Voluntary Fasts During Muharram

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The best of fasting after Ramadan is fasting Allah’s month of Muharram.’” (Muslim)

The phrase “Allah’s month”, connecting the name of the month to the name of Allah in a genitive grammatical structure signifies the importance of the month. Al-Qari (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “The apparent meaning is all of the month of Muharram.” But it was proven that the Prophet never fasted any whole month apart from Ramadan, so this hadith (Prophetic narration) is probably meant to encourage increasing one’s fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast the entire month.

It was reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast more in Sha`ban. It is likely that the virtue of Muharram was not revealed to him until the end of his life, before he was able to fast during this month.

Allah Chooses Whatever Times and Places He Wills

Al-`Izz ibn `Abd As-Salam said: “Times and places may be given preferred status in two ways, either temporal or religious/spiritual. With regard to the latter, this is because Allah bestows His generosity on His slaves at those times or in those places by giving a greater reward for deeds done, such as giving a greater reward for fasting in Ramadan than for fasting at all other times, and also on the day of `Ashura’ (the 10th of Muharram), the virtue of which is due to Allah’s generosity and kindness towards His slaves on that day…”

Muharram is so called because it is a sacred (Muharram) month and to confirm its sanctity.

`Ashura’ in History

Ibn `Abbas said: “The Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of `Ashura’. He said: ‘What is this?’ They (Jews) said: ‘This is a righteous day; it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Musa (Moses) fasted on this day.’ He said: ‘We have more right to Musa than you,’ so he fasted on that day and commanded (the Muslims) to fast on that day.” (Al-Bukhari)

The practice of fasting on `Ashura’ was known even in the days of Jahiliyyah (pre-Islamic period), before the Prophet’s mission. It was reported that `Aishah said: “The people of Jahiliyyah used to fast on that day…”

Al-Qurtubi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Perhaps Quraish used to fast on that day on the basis of some past law, such as that of Ibrahim (Abraham).”

It was also reported that the Prophet used to fast on `Ashura’ in Makkah, before he migrated to Madinah. When he migrated to Madinah, he found the Jews celebrating this day, so he asked them why, and they replied as described in the Hadith quoted above. He commanded the Muslims to be different from the Jews, who took it as a festival.

Apparently the motive for commanding the Muslims to fast on this day was the desire to be different from the Jews, so that the Muslims would fast when the Jews did not, because people do not fast on a day of celebration.

Fasting on the day of `Ashura’ was a gradual step in the process of introducing fasting as a prescribed obligation in Islam. Fasting appeared in three forms. When the Messenger of Allah came to Madinah, he told the Muslims to fast on three days of every month and on the day of `Ashura’, then Allah made fasting obligatory in the verse: O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting … (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

The obligation was transferred from the fast of `Ashura’ to the fast of Ramadan, and this is one of the proofs in the field of Usool Al-Fiqh (Judicial fundamentals) that it is possible to abrogate a lighter duty in favor of a heavier duty.

The Virtues of Fasting `Ashura’  

Ibn `Abbas said: “I never saw the Messenger of Allah  so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of `Ashura’, and this month, meaning Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)

The meaning of his being keen was that he intended to fast on that day in the hope of earning the reward for doing so.

The Prophet said: “For fasting the day of `Ashura’, I hope that Allaah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before.” (Muslim)

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Source: Islamweb.net 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Foundations of Good Moral Character: The Prophet’s Excellent Example

Mere teachings and commands of Do’s and Don’ts do not form the foundations of good moral character in a society, because these things are not sufficient for developing these good qualities in the human nature; a teacher may merely order to do such and such things and not to do such and such things, and the society becomes a moralist society.

Perfect Trainer

The teachings of fruitful good conduct requires long training and constant watchfulness.

The training cannot be on the right lines if the example before the society is not such that commands full confidence, because a person having a bad moral character cannot leave a good impression on his surroundings.

The best training can be expected only from such a man whose personality, by the force of its morality, would create a scene of admiration in the beholders. They would sing praises of his nobility and feel the irresistible urge to benefit from the example of his life. The world would spontaneously feel the urge to follow his footsteps.

For nourishing and developing more and more excellent good character among his followers it is necessary that the leader must possess higher and nobler character and attributes than his followers.

The Prophet himself was the best example of the good moral character, to emulate the call he was giving to his followers. Before advising them to adopt a moral life by giving sermons and counsels, he was sowing the seeds of morality among his followers by actually living that kind of life.

`Abdullah ibn `Amr says:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was neither ill-mannered nor rude. He used to say that the better people among you are those who are best in their moral character.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas says: “I served the Prophet for ten years. He never said ‘Uf’ (expressing dissatisfaction), nor did he ever ask me why I did this or did not do that.” (Muslim)

It is also reported by him: “My mother used to hold the Prophet’s hand and used to take him wherever she wanted. If any person used to come before him and shake his hand, the Prophet never used to draw away his hand from the other person’s hands till the latter drew away his hands, and he never used to turn away his face from that person till the latter himself turned away his face. And in the meetings he was never seen squatting in such a way that his knees were protruding further than his fellow-squatters.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Lady `A’ishah says: “If there were two alternatives, the Prophet used to adopt the easiest alternative, provided there was no sin in it. If that work were sinful, then he used to run away farthest from it. The prophet did not take any personal revenge from anybody. Yes, if Allah’s command were to be disobeyed, then his wrath was to be stirred. Allah’s Messenger did not beat anybody with his own hands. neither his wife nor a servant. Yes, he used to fight in the wars in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“I was walking with the Prophet. He had wrapped a thick chadar round his body. One Arab pulled the chadar so forcefully that a part of his shoulder could be seen by me, and I was perturbed by this forceful pulling of the chadar. The Arab then said: ‘0 Muhammad! Give me some of my share from the property which Allah has given you.’ The Prophet turned towards him and laughed, and gave orders for a donation being given to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

`A’ishah has reported that Allah’s Messenger has said:

“Allah is soft-hearted. He likes soft heartedness. And the reward which He gives for soft-heartedness does not give for hardness, nay, such a reward He does not give for anything.” (Muslim)

In another tradition it is stated: “Softness in whichever thing it may be, will make that thing beautiful. And from whichever thing softness is taken out, it will become ugly.”

Jarir narrates that the Prophet has said:

“The reward which Allah gives for soft-heartedness He does not give it for folly; and when Allah makes any slave His favorite, He gives him softness. Those families that are devoid of softness become deprived of every virtue.”(At-Tabarani )

`Abdullah ibn Harith has reported that he did not see anybody smiling more than the Messenger of Allah. (At-Tirmidhi)

`A’isha was asked what did Prophet do at home?

She replied:” He used to be in the service of his home people; and when the time of prayer came he used to perform ablutions and go out for prayer.” (Muslim)

Anas has narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger had the best manners of all the persons. I had an adopted brother, whose name was Abu `Umayr. He had a sick sparrow, who was called ‘Nagheer’. Allah’s Messenger used to be playful with him and ask him : ‘0 Abu `Umayr! what has happened to your Nagheer” (Al-Bukhari)

Of the habits and traits of the Prophet one trait was very well known that he was extremely philanthropic. He was never miserly in anything. He was very brave and courageous. He never turned away from Truth. He was just, loving. In his own decision he never committed any excesses or injustice. In his whole life he was truthful and an honest trustee.

The same Qur’an, Same Criterion, Same Yasin, Same Taha

Allah has commanded all the Muslims to follow the excellent habits and the best traits of the Prophet and to take guidance from the holy life of the holy Messenger.

Surely there is in the person of Allah’s .messenger an excellent example for you-for every person who has hope in Allah and the Hereafter and remember, Allah, reciting His name many times. (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Qazi A ‘yaz says that the Prophet was the most excellent-mannered, most philanthropic and the bravest of all. One night

the people of Medina were terribly frightened. Some people proceeded towards the sound ( which was probably the

cause). They saw that the Prophet was coming from that direction. He had rushed before all others to find out what was

the trouble. He was riding the horse of Abu Talha, without a saddle, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he

was comforting the people not to be afraid saying there was nothing to worry.

Hazrat Ali says that in the battles when fighting started, we used to worry much about the Prophet, because nobody was nearer to the enemy in the fighting than the Prophet.

Jabir ibn `Abdullah says that whenever anything was requested of him, he never said: No.

Lady Khadija had told him when he was first blessed with the Divine Revelation:

“You carry the loads of the weak people, you earn for the poor, and help a person if any trouble comes to him in following the Truth.”

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How Should I Declare the Shahadah?

shahadah

In order to be recognized as a member of the Islamic community one needs to do Shahadah in front of people.

What are the procedures to follow if someone wishes to convert to Islam?

Conversion to Islam is a simple procedure; it does not entail any complicated rituals or ceremonies, since Islam allows for no intermediaries in worship, and as such there are no priestly classes to administer specific rites.

Conversion therefore is mostly a person’s own choice; as long as he/she is willing to accept the basic tenets of faith, without any external coercion or pressure, and as long as one expresses it in words in front of people the conversion is acceptable.

However, because of the need for documentation, it is best that a person goes to an Islamic center which can issue a certificate of conversion. For this one needs to simply book an appointment with the imam of the local mosque; he would be more than willing to facilitate the conversion.

At the time of conversion one will be asked to repeat the following words of testimony: Ashhadu ana la ilaha illa Allah wa ashahdu anna Muhammadun rasulu Allah (I bear witness there is no god but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God).

Besides this, it is also good to affirm faith in the following tenets of Islamic faith: I believe in Allah; in His angels; in His scriptures; His messengers; the Last Day and the fact that good and bad are decreed by God. You should request a certificate indicating the date of conversion as you may need it for purposes of pilgrimage to Makkah.

Finally, let me also suggest that you consult the following excellent work entitled, ”Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam“ by Yahya Emerick (2nd edition) as it has all of the essential information you need to know about Islam.

In Public

Is it enough to declare the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) by oneself order to be converted into Islam or is it considered obligatory to make the declaration in front of two witnesses?

Although between you and God it surely is enough for you to say Shahadah (the Testimony of Faith) by yourself, however, in order for you to be recognized as a member of the Islamic community you need to do so in front of people.

As mentioned above, you are best advised to do so in the presence of an imam in a recognized Islamic center or mosque, for in this way you can hope to gain proper orientation in regards to your actual practice of Islam.

Islam teaches us that we should do whatever we do as professionally and efficiently as possible. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has enjoined excellence in each and every act one performs.” (Muslim)

Therefore, I advise you to call on the nearest Islamic center and get an appointment with the imam; let him facilitate your task of reversion to Islam; in the meantime, if you haven’t already found some useful books on Islam, let me mention another important book – besides Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam – which, I urge you to read and study well; “Islam in Focus” by Dr. Hammudah Abdul `Ati.

I pray to Allah to grant us all steadfastness in faith, and may He grace us all with His mercy and forgiveness in both worlds. Ameen.

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Source: askthescholar.com

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Five Pillars of Islam: Their Meaning and Priority

By Jamal Badawi

What are the Five Pillars of Islam and what is the origin of this expression?

The term and the specification of the number appear in more than one saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). One of the most famous sayings is narrated in the collection by Muslim and says that “the infrastructure of Islam is based upon the Oneness of Allah, the performance of regular prayers, the payment of Zakah or the poor’s due, the fasting, and the pilgrimage”. (Muslim) The term was based on the mention of this hadith.

More specifically the first pillar on the Oneness of Allah means that in order for a person to be Muslim they would have to confess with conviction of the heart and mind that there is no deity but one God and that is Allah who is the One and Only universal God of all. One is required to mention this a minimum of one time in their lifetime in order to be Muslim.

The second pillar is the performance of regular prayers and these are also specified as five specific prayers which follow a specific format during the day and night. This is not prayer in terms of supplication, I use the term prayer in English because it is the closest translation. It is not prayer in the sense of sitting and making supplication but requires lots of preparation.

The third pillar is the payment of poor’s due and is called Zakah in Arabic.

The fourth is fasting and this refers to observing the fast from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan which is the ninth lunar month in the Islamic calendar.

Finally is the pilgrimage to the Holy places in Makkah (Mecca) at least once in a life time if a person is able to.

When non-Muslims write about Islam and mention these Five Pillars quite often one is under the impression that these Five Pillars is all that Islam is about. Is this correct?

Unfortunately, it is not. The problem with many non-Muslim authors, writers, film producers, and narrators is that they try to interpret Islam from the point of view of their own background which is like placing Islam in an alien framework and this is where the mistake occurs. Most writers in films and so on and many who pose as experts on Islam come from a background which views religion as a large set of dogmas or rituals or something that focuses on the spiritual aspect of life with some kind of separation from the secular or mundane activities.

True Islam is an all embracive comprehensive way of life, it is a way of looking at life and taking it as a totality not making an artificial separation between religion and secularism.  The lack of understanding of this particular point makes many people view the pillars of Islam in the sense that doing those five things is all that Islam is about.

Any particular structure pillars are not everything but essential for a building’s support. In addition to the pillars one needs a roof, walls, partitions, insulation heating system and furnishing. The same thing applies to Islam. Many people think that once we talk about the Five Pillars of Islam that they’ve got everything. No they have not.

If we look at Islam the same way we look at the structure of a building as a functioning religion as a faith that is not limited to the spiritual aspect but is a complete way of life. One doesn’t have a functional building just with the pillars one has got to have all the other things that go along side with the pillars.

The pillars are essential and are the create the base but they are not everything. There is a difference between saying the pillars are everything and between saying the Five Pillars are the basis of everything. This is the way a Muslim looks at the Pillars of Islam.

In fact Islam addresses spiritual, moral, social, economic and even political aspects of life. When those writers refer to the Pillars of Islam they do not even depict it in sufficient depth. It is depicted as a formal ritual, whereas if one looks very closely in depth at the nature of those pillars one finds that they give lots of lessons which regulates social, moral, economic and even political life. In a way Islam goes far beyond the simple notions of rituals or formalisms.

Is there any significance as to the order in which these pillars appear and if so which come first and why?

Yes, there is a hierarchy. For example the first pillar which we mentioned which is the corner stone of Islam is the belief in the one universal God of all. Belief in God and faith in Him and acceptance of his prophets represents the very foundation upon which any good deeds can be accepted by God. This is the source of all virtue.

One notices that the second Pillar is the keeping of regular five daily prayers which is the most noble act of communicating directly with God without an intermediary. This is a reflection of how a Muslim after accepting God tries to nourish this direct relationship with his creator.

The second pillar is followed by the poor’s due which is an instrumental pillar in building social equity and justice in society. This is followed by the fourth pillar which is fasting. This is a method to discipline one’s self and control our desires and as such lead a virtuous life. Finally is the pilgrimage for those who are able to. As I understand it there is a hierarchy of relative importance.

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Source: jamalbadawi.org

 

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