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The Requirements Of The Accepted Hajj

By Editorial Staff

On their journey to Makkah, pilgrims hope and pray that their hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah) will be accepted. They want to be rewarded, gain Paradise and the pleasure of Allah and to be saved from the Hellfire. To achieve this, they need to meet the requirements of Hajj.

What are the requirements for an accepted Hajj?

1. Sincerity

The pilgrim must have a purely sincere intention to observe this great pillar of Islam, Hajj, solely for the sake of Allah. This is the most important requirement which if not met, the Hajj will be invalid. Allah says,

“Though they were not commanded but to worship (One) God making the (practice of their) religion (pure and) sincere to Him (alone), being ever upright (of heart)” (Quran 98:5)

Observing Hajj for showing off invalidates it. On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Allah (glorified and exalted be He) said: I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else’s sake as well as Mine will have that action renounced by Me to him whom he associated with Me. (Muslim)

2. Giving people their due rights

If the pilgrim succeeds in keeping away from bad manners, they will be back home with no sin at all.

The pilgrim must hasten to give people their rights back. This includes the redress of past injustices, paying off debts, etc. Although Hajj is one of the greatest means of forgiveness of sins, the other sins related to people’s rights require their pardon first to be forgiven.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever has wronged his brother, should ask for his pardon (before his death), as (in the Hereafter) there will be neither a Dinar nor a Dirham. (He should secure pardon in this life) before some of his good deeds are taken and paid to his brother, or, if he has done no good deeds, some of the bad deeds of his brother are taken to be loaded on him (in the Hereafter). (Al-Bukhari)

It is also highly recommended to seek the pardon of family members, relatives, friends and other people for anything the pilgrim may have done and made them angry.

3. Taking provisions for the journey

The pilgrim should have enough food or enough money to be able to buy food, drink, clothes and other things necessary for the journey.

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: The people of Yemen used to come for Hajj and used not to bring enough provisions with them and used to say that they depend on Allah. On their arrival in Medina they used to beg the people, and so Allah revealed,

“Moreover, take with you your (own) provisions and, indeed, the best provision is to be ever God-fearing. (Quran 2:197).” (Al-Bukhari)

4. Having lawful money

For Hajj to be accepted and for du’aa (supplication) to be answered, the pilgrim’s money must be earned lawfully.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “O people! Allah is Pure and, therefore, accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers as He has commanded His Messengers by saying:

‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things, and do good deeds.’ (Quran 23:51) And He said:

‘O you who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism)! Eat of the lawful things that We have provided you…”‘ ( Quran 2:172).

Then he (ﷺ) made a mention of the person who travels for a long period of time, his hair are dishevelled and covered with dust. He lifts his hand towards the sky and thus makes the supplication: ‘O Lord! O Lord!’ But his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful, how can, then his supplication be accepted?” (Muslim)

5. Travelling with a good company

It is recommended that the pilgrim travels in the company of the people of knowledge about the rites of Hajj. If he or she makes mistakes, forgets something or have no knowledge about a certain rite of the Hajj, they should be there for help. This is highly recommended especially for people observing Hajj for the first time because they are more liable to miss something or make mistakes.

6. Making a will

Making a will before setting off for Makkah is recommended.

Narrated `Abdullah bin `Umar: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay for two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7. A Mahram for a woman

A mahram for a woman is the male person who Allah made it unlawful for her to marry for good because they are related by blood such as a father or a son, breastfeeding or marriage such as her father-in-law.

For a woman to perform the Hajj, she has to travel in the company of her husband or a mahram of hers. As for a woman who has no mahram to accompany her, there are two opinions regarding whether she is allowed to treavel or not. Imam Al-Tirmidhi summarizes this issue as follows:

“Scholars hold different opinions concerning a woman who is wealthy enough to perform the Hajj but has no Mahram. Is the Hajj obligatory for her?

Some scholars are of the opinion that it is not obligatory for her to observe the Hajj. Allah says,

“Thus Hajj-Pilgrimage to the (Sacred) House (in Makkah) is owed to God, as an obligation upon all people who are able to attain a way to it. And as to those who disbelieve (this, know), then, (that) God is, indeed, self-sufficient, without (any need for any of His creation in) all the worlds.” (Quran 3:97)

Unless a woman has a mahram, then, she is not able to attain a way to it. This is the opinion of Sufyan Al-Thawri and the scholars of Kufa, a city in Iraq.

Other scholars hold the opinion that a woman who has no mahram may perform the Hajj only if the roads or the journey are safe and secure. She can set off with other people. This is the opinion of Malik ibn Anas and Imam Al-Shafi’i.”

8. Learning how to observe the Hajj

It is highly recommended for the person who wants to perform the Hajj to learn its rites and rulings so that he or she can perform it properly and make sure that the things that invalidate it are avoided. Moreover, the pilgrim will get the best of reward for both learning and performance. It happens that some people miss very essential elements of hajj such as Standing on ‘Arafat.

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Ten Blessed Days: Don’t Miss

By His wisdom, God gave preference to some places and times over others. For Muslims, Friday is the best day of the week, Ramadan is the best month of the year, “Laylat al-Qadr is the best night in Ramadan, the day of “Arafah” is the best day of the year. Likewise the first ten days of the month of “Dhul-Hijjah” are the blessed days for Muslims.

God says in the Qur’an what means:

By the daybreak, by the ten nights, by the even and the odd, by the passing night – is this oath strong enough for a rational person? (Al-Fajr 89:1-5)

Early Muslim scholars differed on what is meant by the “ten nights”. But most of them agreed that the ten nights refer to the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

In another verse God says:

… to attain benefits and mention God’s name, on specified days. (Al-Hajj 22:28)

Most of the Qur’an commentators view that the specific days are the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.

What a great virtue attached to those days which pass unnoticed by many people nowadays.

On the merits of the first ten days, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days.” The people asked, “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing.” (Al-Bukhari)

In what follows are suggested ideas on how to make the best use of the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah:

Repent to Allah

Make a sincere repentance to God and promise Him that you will not do bad deeds again. This may be your last chance. You are not sure if you will live till next year.

Pray at the Mosque

Try to perform the five daily prayers in the mosque. If you have time after Fajr prayer, try to sit in the mosque, read a juz’ (part) of the Quran, make du`aa’, or recite some Adhkar (remembrance of Allah). Then offer two rakahs before you go home. If you do so, you are reviving a tradition that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to do, a tradition which these days has been neglected by many Muslims.

Observe Fasting in the First Nine Days

Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said: I heard the Prophet saying, “Indeed, anyone who fasts for one day for Allah’s Pleasure, Allah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years.” (Muslim)

Do not observe fasting on the tenth day because it is an `Eid day and it is prohibited to fast that day.

Good deeds are rewarded abundantly in these first ten days; and as fasting is a good deed, it is recommended to fast these nine days.

Do not Miss Fasting the Day of `Arafah

On the day of `Arafah, non-pilgrims are highly recommended to maintain fasting. It is reported that the Prophet was asked about fasting on the day of `Arafah, whereupon he said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year.” (Muslim)

He also said: “There is no day in which Allah frees a greater number of His slaves from the Hellfire than the Day of `Arafah.” (Muslim)

Make a Lot of Supplications (du`aa’) on the Day of `Arafah

The Prophet said: “The best supplication is that of the Day of `Arafah, and the best thing that I and other Prophets before me said, is: La ilaha illa allahu wahdahu la sharika lah, lahu al-mulku wa lahu al-hamdu wa huwa `ala kulli shai’in qadeer (There is no god but Allah alone. He has no partners. To Him belong the sovereignty and all praise. He has power over all things.) (Al-Tirmidhi)

Try to Do Something New this Year

If you used to recite a part of the Qur’an last year, try to finish reading the whole Qur’an this year. Try to pick some verses everyday and check the books of Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur’an) to reflect on their meaning in order to derive lessons from them in your daily life.

If you do not read Arabic, I recommend Muhammad Asad’s translation of the Qur’an. If you are well-versed in the Qur’an recitation, try to teach a group of new Muslims how to read the Qur’an correctly.

Maintain your Family Relations

Visit your relatives even for a few minutes. If they live far away, give them a call. Do not forget your parents. Be kind to them, visit them, and attend to their needs. Some new Muslims think that after their conversion, they should cut off their family members. God orders Muslims to be kind to their parents even if they are non-Muslims. This occasion might be a good opportunity to talk about Islam to your non-Muslim parents.

Give to Charity

Make it a daily habit to help the needy. Look for humanitarian organizations in your neighborhood and help them in any way you can.

Don’t Miss Offering at Least Two Rak`ahs of “Tahajjud” at Night

Offer many extra prayers, as much as you can. God promised a great reward for offering extra acts of worship. The Prophet said: “Allah said, ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a pious worshipper of Mine. And the most beloved things with which My slave comes nearer to Me, is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (praying or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him, so I become his sense of hearing with which he hears, and his sense of sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he grips, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks Me, I will give him, and if he asks My protection (refuge), I will protect him; (i.e. give him My refuge) and I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer, for he hates death, and I hate to disappoint him.” (Al-Bukhari)

Reciting the Takbir

It is an act of Sunnah to say “Takbir” (Allah is the Greatest) in the first ten days.

The “Takbir” should be pronounced everywhere; in the mosque, at home, in the streets, etc. It is reported that: “Ibn `Umar and Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with them) used to go out in the marketplace during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, reciting Takbir, and the people would recite Takbir when they heard them.” (Al-Bukhari)

There are many forms of Takbir, but the most common one is: Allahu akbaru, Allahu akbaru, Allahu akbaru, la illaha illa Allah, Allahu akbaru, Allahu akbar, wa lillahi al-Hamd.

In another version of the Hadith mentioned above on the merits of the ten days, there is this addition: “… so increase saying Tahlil (saying la-illah illa Allah), Takbir (saying Allahu akbar), and Tahmid (saying Al-hamdullilah)” (Ahmad) Therefore, these kinds of “dhikr should be recited day and night.

The Best Good Deed in These Days is to Offer Hajj

Go to Hajj, if you are physically and financially able to perform it. If not, try to offer a sacrifice if you have the means. By doing this you are commemorating the story of sacrifice of both prophet Ibrahim and his son Isma`il (peace be upon them). The poor and the needy have a share in the sacrifice and feeding them is one of best deeds that can be done on the day of `Eid.

I pray to Allah to accept our good deeds in these days of Dhul-Hijjah and throughout the year. When our good deeds are accepted by God, we will be admitted to Paradise, by His Mercy.

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A Brief Guide to Hajj By E Da`wah Committee (EDC)

A Brief Guide to Hajj…

Islam organizes the spiritual and moral life of man as well as the practical side in order to live a normal balanced life. Every act of worship in Islam has a meaning, a purpose and a significance, and of great spiritual, moral, and physical benefits.

Hajj, one of the five main pillars of Islam, gives a specific and practical example of acts of worship in Islam. As a rich spiritual experience, Hajj has a great message and lessons for the benefit and well-being of man and all humanity, resulting in spiritual and behavioral development in the life of a Muslim.

Hajj is a life-time journey; if conducted properly, it will erase all sins of the pilgrim. So, every Muslim intending to undertake this journey should first learn well its rituals and how to perform them correctly.

The E-Da`wah Committee presents this brief guide to Hajj for those intending to make this life-time journey…

_________________________

Source: E-Da`wah Committee

 

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Du`aa’: the Essence of Worship

 

Du`aa’ is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Du`aa’ is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Du`aa’ is an Arabic word written here in English letters. Three small letters that make up a word and a subject that is large and breathtaking. This word du`aa’ could be roughly translated to mean supplication or invocation, although neither word adequately define du`aa’. Supplication, which means communicating with a deity, comes closer than invocation which is known to sometimes imply summoning spirits or devils.

In Islamic terminology du`aa’ is the act of supplication. It is calling out to God; it is a conversation with God, our Creator, our Lord, the All Knowing, and the All Powerful. In fact the word is derived from the Arabic root meaning to call out or to summon.

Du`aa’ is uplifting, empowering, liberating and transforming and it is one of the most powerful and effective act of worship a human being can engage in. Du`aa’ has been called the weapon of the believer. It affirms a person’s belief in One God and it shuns all forms of idolatry or polytheism. Du`aa’ therefore is essentially submission to God and a manifestation of a person’s need for God.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “A slave becomes nearest to his Lord when he is in prostration. So increase supplications in prostrations.’’ (Muslim)

“The supplication of every one of you will be granted if he does not get impatient and say: `I supplicated my Lord but my prayer has not been granted’.’’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

At this point in understanding exactly what du`aa’ is, it would be easy for someone from a Christian background to think that du`aa’ is prayer. Du`aa’ certainly holds certain similarities to the prayer of Christians; however it should not be confused with what Muslims call prayer. Prayer, or in Arabic salah, is one of the pillars of Islam, and in performing the five daily prayers a Muslim actually engages in a physical form of du`aa’ asking God to grant them Heaven through their actions. Throughout the prayer one also supplicates to God directly.

For Muslims prayer is a set of ritual movements and words performed at fixed times, five times per day. God says in Qur’an:

Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours. (An-Nisaa’4:103)

Muslims pray in the early morning before sunrise, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, at sunset and at night. Prayer is an act of worship, in which a Muslim reaffirms his belief in One God and demonstrates his gratefulness. It is a direct connection between God and the believer and it is an obligation.

Du`aa’ on the other hand is a Muslims way of feeling that connection to God at anytime, in any place. Muslims call on God frequently throughout the day and night.  They raise their hands in supplication and ask for His help, mercy, and forgiveness. Du`aa’ incorporates praise, thanksgiving, hope, and calling on God to assist the one in need and grant his or her requests.

Du`aa’ can be made for the individual, their family, friends, strangers, those in dire circumstances, for the believers, and even for the whole of humanity. When making the du`aa’ it is acceptable to ask for good in this worldly life and in the hereafter. A person making du`aa’ should not hold back, but ask God to grant both the largest and smallest requests.

Prophet Muhammad encouraged the believers to make du`aa’. He said:

“The du`aa’ of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial du`aa’ for his brother the appointed angel says: Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same’”. (Muslim)

Although making du`aa’ is not an obligation, there are many benefits to making du`aa’ to God frequently and with full submission. Feeling the closeness to God that comes with sincere du`aa’, it increases faith, gives hope and relief to the distressed and saves the supplicant from the despair and isolation.

Throughout the Qur’an, God encourages the believer to call on Him, He asks us to lay our dreams, hopes, fears and uncertainties before Him and to be sure that He hears every word.

You alone do we worship and You alone do we ask for help. (Al-Fatihah 1:5)

And your Lord says, Call on Me; I will answer your (prayer). But those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely find themselves in Hell, in humiliation. (Ghafir 40:60)

Say, O My slaves who have transgressed against their souls; despair not of the Mercy of Allah: For Allah forgives all sins; for He is oft Forgiving, most Merciful. (Az-Zumar 39:5)

Say, Call upon Allah, or call upon Ar-Rahman (The Most Beneficient): By whatever name you call upon Him, (it is well): For to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. (Al-Israa’ 17:110)

And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the supplications of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright. (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Prophet Muhammad called du`aa’ the essence of worship. (At-Tirmidhi)  He also  suggested that the believer  be humble, yet firm when making du`aa’ and said: “When one of you supplicates, he should not say: ‘O God, forgive me if You will’, but be firm in asking and make the desire great, for what God gives is nothing great for Him.” (Muslim)

When we make du`aa’, when we call upon God in our hour of need, or express our gratefulness, or for any other reason including simply to feel the comfort of being close to God, we must remember to examine our sincerity and to check our intention. Du`aa’ must be addressed to God Alone, who has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries. Our intention when making the du`aa’ must be to please God, obey Him and trust Him completely.

When a person makes du`aa’ God may give him what he asked for or He may divert a harm that is greater than the thing he asked for, or He  may store up what he has asked for, for the Hereafter. God has commanded us to call upon Him and He has promised to respond to our call.

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Source: islamreligion.com

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The Virtues of Hajj And `Umrah

By Editorial Staff

Definitions

The Hajj, Pilgrimage

The Arabic word ‘Hajj’ literally means to repair to, betake oneself or set off for a place. In the technical usage of the term, it means to repair to the Sacred House in Makka and perform the rites of the Pilgrimage. Allah says,

“Thus Hajj-Pilgrimage to the (Sacred) House (in Makkah) is owed to God, as an obligation upon all people who are able to attain a way to it. And as to those who disbelieve (this, know), then, (that) God is, indeed, self-sufficient, without (any need for any of His creation in) all the worlds.” (Quran 3:97)

This verse highlights the obligation of Hajj for every Muslim who meets the requirements of observing it. Observing it more than once is voluntary.

“So complete the Hajj –Pilgrimage and the `Umrah-Lesser Pilgrimage solely for (the sake of) God.”

The `Umrah, Lesser Pilgrimage

In the Arabic language, `Umrah means a visit. It means in Islamic law to visit the Sacred House in Makka to perform the rites of the Lesser Pilgrimage. Allah says,

 

“So complete the Hajj –Pilgrimage and the `Umrah-Lesser Pilgrimage solely for (the sake of) God.” (Quran 2:196)

The difference between the Hajj and the `Umrah

Unlike the `Umrah, the Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. It differs from the `Umrah in the legal ruling, the rites and the time of performance. As for the legal ruling, the Hajj is obligatory for once in a lifetime and for every Muslim who can afford it, namely, the person has enough money and health to make it, whereas the `Umrah is non-mandatory. Secondly, there are a few differences concerning the actions of both rites. The most important one is standing on ‘Arafat which the Hajj cannot be complete without observing this pillar on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the last month of the lunar year. Thirdly, the hajj can only be performed at a particular time of the year on specific days of Dhul-Hijjah, whereas the `Umrah may be performed at any time of the year.

The virtues of the Hajj and the `Umrah

1. Hajj is one of the best acts of worship. To be accepted, it must be observed sincerely and with the intention of seeking only Allah’s pleasure. Moreover, it must be performed properly based on the rulings derived from the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) was asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad). The questioner then asked, “What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, “To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.” The questioner again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To perform Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca) ‘Mabrur, (which is accepted by Allah).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

2. There is a great reward for the observance of this great pillar. Observing `Umrah also expiates sins. However, what is meant by sins in the following hadith is minor sins. As for major sins, they require sincere repentance. In addition, the sins that are related to people’s rights require a person to give those people their rights back. That’s why sincere repentance and to free oneself from acts of injustice are highly recommended before setting off for Makka.

Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said, “The performance of `Umrah is an expiation for all the sins committed (between this `Umrah and the previous one), and the reward for Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah or the one which was performed without doing any wrong) is nothing save Paradise.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

3. If the pilgrim succeeds in staying away from sinning, mischief or doing any wrong during Hajj, he or she will have his or her sins forgiven. Millions of Muslims gather together in one place where they are tested to show how well they can treat each other. This sheds light on the ethical aspect of hajj which promotes good manners, peace, tolerance and cooperation among Muslims.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Whoever performs Hajj (pilgrimage) and does not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commits sin, nor disputes unjustly (during Hajj), then he returns from Hajj as pure and free from sins as on the day on which his mother gave birth to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

4. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged Muslims to perform hajj and `Umrah because of the great benefits brought to the pilgrim in this life and Afterlife. In addition to the forgiveness of sins, the hajj and `Umrah are also legal means of alleviating poverty.

Ibn ‘abbas said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Perform Hajj and ‘Umrah consecutively; for they remove poverty and sin as the bellows removes impurity from iron.” (It is a hasan (good) hadith related by Al-Nasa’i)

 

5. For Muslim women, Hajj is a substitute for Jihad as it is not obligatory for them. In fact, this shows the facilitation and moderation of Islamic teachings.

‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

I said: “O Messenger of Allah! We consider Jihad as the best deed, should we not then go for Jihad?” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The best Jihad for you women is Hajj Mabrur (i.e., one accepted by Allah).” (Al-Bukhari)

 

6. It is known that the blessed month of Ramadan is one of the best months. This may be the reason why observing `Umrah in it has a greater reward.

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “(The performance of) `Umrah during Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj (i.e. in reward).” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

 

Finally, Hajj and `Umrah have a lot of other benefits and virtues because there are other acts of worship included while performing them. These include performing prayer, fasting, giving to charity, remembrance of Allah, making du’aa (supplication), etc. There are also social benefits as these kinds of worship help solve problems like racism. In fact, a lot of differences disappear there as all people dress the same and observe a lot of acts of worship collectively and at the same time.

 

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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.

_________________________

Source: askthescholar.com

 

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The Muslim’s Behavior on Fridays: Dos and Don’ts

By Marwan Ibrahim Al-Kaysi

The Muslim’s behavior on Fridays: dos and don’ts

1- Though Friday, according to Islam, is the best day on which the sun has ever risen, and the lord of days, it is not the Islamic Sabbath, because Sabbath does not exist in Islam.

2- A Muslim should bathe or purify himself with wudu’ as perfectly as possible before going to prayer. Though bathing is not obligatory, it has a more cleansing effect; though wudu’ is good, bathing is more excellent.

3- Best clothes should be worn and perfume applied, if this is available, or pleasant-smelling oil should be put on the hair.

4- A tooth stick or toothbrush should be used to ensure that the mouth is clean and has a pleasant odor. This is more important on Fridays before leaving for prayer than on other days.

5- Before leaving for prayer, nails should be cut and cleaned, and one should ensure that clothes are clean and beard and mustache tidy.

6- The Friday prayer in congregation is a necessary duty for every Muslim, with certain exceptions, e.g. children, women, invalids and those too ill to perform prayer.

7- If there is more than one mosque available, it is yet better to say the Friday prayer together at one mosque.

8- Going as early as possible to the mosque on Friday is recommended. Walking to the mosque, if this is possible, and not driving is also more worthy.

9- On entering the mosque, the rules of behavior in the mosque as discussed in Chapter 16, must be observed.

10- Care should be taken to avoid annoying others in the mosque; for example, squeezing between two men or stepping on others.

11- Most mosques on Fridays become full of worshippers. No individual has the right to make another get up and then move into his place. He should politely ask those present to make room for him.

12- While in the mosque, the worshipper must avoid any sitting position which could cause him to drowse, to sleep, or which would invalidate his wudu’.

13- If a worshipper should find himself dozing, he should try to change his place. In this case, he should change places with his neighbor.

14- A worshipper should avoid taking any position that would uncover his body between the navel and the knees.

15- Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) forbade worshippers to sit together in a circle in the mosque before Friday prayer, because this hinders straight rows, and reduces the available space.

16- Facing the imam while he is giving khutbah from the minbar (pulpit) is polite conduct.

17- When the imam asks God’s blessings, etc. for the Muslims, he should not raise his hands in an attitude of supplication.

18- When the Friday prayer is finished worshippers should not rush to leave the mosque, or crowd the exits.

19- As mentioned above, a Sabbath does not exist in Islam, therefore, it is not required that a Muslim abandons working during the whole of Friday. What is required, is to stop working during prayer time.

20- A worshipper should listen to the imam as soon as he starts his khutbah, and keep silent until he finishes. To attend prayer with a frivolous attitude is against the aim of the Friday prayer.

21- It is undesirable to fast on Friday alone; to fast on Friday, however, in conjunction with Thursday or Saturday is allowed.

22- It is neither necessary nor required to abandon travel on Friday.

23- Friday is a good occasion to remember the Prophet (peace be on him) and invoke a blessing on him by saying: Allahuma Salli `ala Muhammad wa ‘ala ali Muhammad (O God, bless Muhammad and Muhammad’s family).

24- Reading Surat Al-Kahf (The 8th chapter of the Qur’an) every Friday is recommended.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book Morals and Manners in Islam (A Guide to Islamic Adab) published by The Islamic Foundation- 1986.

Dr. Marwan Al-Kaysi is Lecturer of Islamic Culture at Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan.

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How to Attain Peace of Mind, Tranquility, and Contentment?

Dr. Naji Ibrahim Arfaj

How can a Muslim achieve tranquility and peace in life, and where does true happiness lie? How does Islam help us reach and maintain this state of peace and contentment?

Key 1: Know your one true God.

How to Attain Peace of Mind

Islam teaches us that we can attain peace of mind, happiness, and salvation, by knowing and believing in the One True God willingly and wholeheartedly.

Key 2: Believe in Him alone.

Key 3: Follow His will.

Key 4: Believe in God’s prophets (including Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him).

Key 5: Remember God.

Key 6: Seek God’s forgiveness.

Key 7: Worship Him alone.

Key 8: Love for others what you love for yourself.

Key 9: Be generous to others and try to make them happy.

Key 10: Have sincerity and piety.

Briefly, these top 10 secret keys through which we can achieve tranquility and contentment as well as spiritual, social, and global peace are among the magnificent treasures of the Qur’an and the Sunnah/Prophetic sayings.

Believing in the One True God

To sum up, Islam teaches us through its two main authentic sources: The Qur’an and the Prophetic sayings that we can attain peace of mind, happiness, and salvation, by knowing and believing in the One True God (Allah) willingly and wholeheartedly. We must also believe in all God’s true prophets (including Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) and follow their true guidance and teachings.

Thus, the gateway to a happy, content, and eternal life is through believing in and uttering this testimony:

I testify that there is no god but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

Worship

However, Islam tells us that belief alone in God and His prophets is not enough to have peace of mind, happiness, and salvation!

We have to do the will of Allah through worshipping Him alone and keeping His commandments.

Submission

Submission to the will of God is the essence of the message of Allah. Confirming the true meaning of submission to Him and the reward prepared for those who believe and do good deeds, Allah points out in the Qur’an:

Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds – they w ill have the Gardens of Paradise as a lodging. (Al-Kahf 18:107)

Similarly, the Bible reports the words of Jesus’ brother, James, saying:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead also. (James 2:26)

Interestingly, James (4:7) also referred to the meaning of Islam- submission to God:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. (James 4:7)

Following the Prophets

Therefore, Muslims are true followers of Jesus and the prophets. A Muslim means a person who submits his or her will to the one true God.

Muslims have faith in Allah (the one true God) and do good deeds. They obey and follow the commandments that Jesus and the prophets taught and did, like believing in one true God, praying, prostrating, kneeling down in worship, fasting, giving alms and charity, saying“ if God wills” (Insha’Allah ), and using the greeting of Jesus and the prophets: “Peace be upon you ” (Asalamu `Alaikum).

These are just some examples and pieces of evidence which clearly indicate the truth, unity, and universality of this great and beautiful religion of all prophets: Islam.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s “Have You Discovered It’s Real Beauty?”

Dr. Naji Al-Arfaj He is the Director of the Inter-Cultural Communication and Dialogue Center in Saudi Arabia. He attended Michigan State University, USA and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics in 1995. He spent more than 20 years researching comparative religion. He is the author of several books, and presents radio and TV programs.

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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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The Conditions of the Shahadah to Be Accepted by God

It is not enough that one merely utter the Shahadah for it to be accepted by Allah. It is the key to the gates of Paradise, but in order for it to work, it needs to have the right ridges.

The Shahadah must meet the following conditions for it to be accepted by Allah:

1- Knowledge

One must have knowledge that all other deities worshipped besides Allah are false, so there is no deity worshipped in truth except Allah. Never should anyone else be worshipped, even if he be a prophet, a messenger or an angel. Allah is the only one who deserves all types worship, such as salah (prayer), du`aa’ (supplication), hope, sacrificial slaughtering, making oaths, etc.

Whoever directs any type of worship to other than Allah has committed kufr (disbelief), even if he uttered the Shahadah.

2- Certainty

One must have certainty in the Shahadah. Certainty is the opposite of doubt, so there is no room for a person to doubt or waver in his belief. Allah says:

The believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and afterward doubt not, and strive with their wealth and their lives for the Cause of Allah. Those! They are the truthful. (Al-Hujurat 49:15)

3- Acceptance

One should accept the Shahadah fully and not reject it. It is not sufficient that a person merely know what the Shahadah means and believe it with certainty. Rather he must accept it my pronouncing it openly and accepting to become a Muslim. Allah says:

Truly, when it was said to them, “La ilaha illa Allah (no deity is worshipped in truth except Allah),” they puff themselves up with pride and deny it. (As-Saffat 37:35)

4- Compliance

It means obedience and acting upon all what the Shahadah necessitates.

A person must do according to what Allah ordered and abstain from what He prohibited. Allah, Exalted be He, says:

And whosoever submits his face to Allah, while he is a muhsin (doer of good), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold [La ilaha ill-Allah]. And to Allah return all matters for decision. (Luqman 31:22)

We should note that the word muhsin” in the verse literally means a person who does something well. Here it means one who does righteous deeds sincerely for Allah, according to the method the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us.

Here we see that Allah mentions both submission to Allah along with doing righteous deeds, and only if a person does this has he grasped onto the sure handhold of the Shahadah.

5- Truthfulness

One must be truthful in his Shahadah. Even though a person may be doing all these things on the outside, he might be hiding disbelief in his heart, like the hypocrites.

Allah says:

They say with their tongues what is not in their hearts. (Al-Fath 48:11)

6- Sincerity of worship

One must make his worship and obedience sincerely for Allah alone. And it may be that one fulfills all the previous conditions, but he directs worship to other than Allah at times, like supplicating to the dead, etc. He has not made his worship purely for Allah.

Allah says:

And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, following the religion purely and sincerely for Him, turning away from other religions. (Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

7- Love

One must love Allah, His Messenger, and His righteous slaves. He must hate and show enmity towards all who show enmity to Allah and His Messenger. He must prefer what Allah and His Messenger love, even if it is different to what he desires. Allah says:

Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight… are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and fighting in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the rebellious and disobedient to Allah. (At-Tawbah 9:24)

Shahadah & Oneness

The Shahadah also necessitates that Allah is the only one who has the right to legislate, whether it be in matters concerning worship, or matters concerning the government of human relations in both the individual and public affairs. The act of making something prohibited or lawful is for Allah alone. His Messenger merely explained and clarified Allah’s commandments.

And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). (Al-Hashr 59:7)

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The article is an excerpt from”How to Become a Muslim” by Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha.

 

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