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Kindness to Parents

Muslims should show kindness to their parents.

Allah has ordained the good treatment of parents.

If you type the words, “kindness to parents” in Google, six of the first ten results are Islamic articles stressing the importance of being dutiful and kind to one’s parents.

Why is this so?

Islam is a beautiful religion that stresses the qualities of mercy, tolerance and respect among human beings. Allah has ordained the good treatment of parents and warned us against treating them with disrespect.  There are several verses in the Qur’an where kindness to parents is even coupled with the most important aspect of Islam; worshipping Allah alone.  This indicates that being kind to parents, honoring and respecting them, is extremely important in the way of life that Islam stipulates.

And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him.  And that you be dutiful to your parents.  If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

It is crystal clear in this verse that no word of disrespect should be uttered toward a parent, nor even a look of resentment or contempt.  Honoring parents can be considered a form of worship if the intention is to please Almighty Allah by respecting His commands.

Allah continues this verse by reminding us that parents are deserving of kindness because they raised their children with gentleness and often made great sacrifices for their wellbeing.  His use of the word wing invokes the image of a mother bird tenderly shielding her young and calls to mind the gentleness that parents have for their children.

 And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord!  Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.’ (Al-Israa’ 17:24)

 The love and mercy that emanates from the Most Merciful Allah is manifest in the kind treatment existing between parents and their children.  Allah clearly prohibits the bad treatment of parents, and in another verse of the Qur’an He enjoins on us the need to show gratitude to Him, our Creator, as well as our parents.  Again, Allah clearly links the rights owed to Him to the rights owed to parents.

 And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents.  His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.”  (Luqman 31:14)

Prophet Muhammad reinforced the duty to be kind to parents. A companion of the Prophet once asked him which of the many good deeds a man can do is the most loved by Allah.  Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) answered him by saying, “To offer the Prayer in its proper time”.  The companion then asked, “And what is next?” to which Prophet Muhammad replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents…” (Al-Bukhari).  The responsibility to be kind and good to parents comes right after the greatest duty in Islam, the prayer.

More than Goodness

The Arabic word that is used in the Qur’an and the narrations of Prophet Muhammad to denote this kindness to parents as bir, and more often than not, it is translated as goodness.  However, as is the case with most Arabic words, a direct translation into English often fails to explain the true depth of meaning. Bir does not only mean goodness; it contains shades of meaning that indicate kindness, compassion, respect and even patience.  Islam, the way of life, encompasses all these qualities, and Muslims must strive to model this behavior in all dealings, particularly in the relationship between parents and their children.

With hardship and endurance, most parents care for and nurture their children their entire lives, but at one point this duty reverses, parents become old and feeble and in need of this care and nurturing themselves.  The child is obligated to care for the parents by displaying all the qualities of bir and knowing that the reward for this is with Allah.  Prophet Muhammad said, “If anyone possesses these three characteristics Allah will give him an easy death and bring him into His Paradise: gentleness towards the weak, affection towards parents, and kindness to slaves.” (At-Tirmidhi)

One Man’s Devotion

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) was a close companion of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). He is credited with remembering and transmitting many of the Prophetic sayings.  The life of Abu Hurairah also contains many demonstrations of his love and devotion to his mother.  When he first embraced Islam, no amount of pleading could convince his mother to do the same.  Weeping and afraid, Abu Hurairah approached the Prophet and begged him to make supplication to Allah asking that his mother be guided.  Prophet Muhammad complied with this request and within a very short period of time Abu Hurairah’s mother uttered the words, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his slave and Messenger”, thus embracing Islam.

Throughout his life, Abu Hurairah remained kind and courteous to his mother.  Whenever he wanted to leave home, he would stand at the door of her room and say, “Peace be on you, mother, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.”  She would reply, “And on you be peace, my son, and the mercy and blessings of Allah.”  He would also say, “May Allah have mercy on you as you cared for me when I was small,” to which she would reply, “May Allah have mercy on you as you delivered me from error when I was old.”

Abu Hurairah always encouraged other people to be kind and good to their parents.  One day he saw two men walking together and enquired of the younger one, “Who is this man to you?” to which the young man replied, “He is my father”.  Abu Hurairah advised him by saying, “Do not call him by his name, do not walk in front of him, and do not seat yourself before he does”.

Therefore, this gentleness and affection Abu Hurairah demonstrated to his mother teaches us that mutual respect and love is a duty.  A Muslim is obliged to show respect towards parents even if they are non-Muslim, and the greatest love he can show towards them is to supplicate to Allah in hope that they will be guided to Islam.  At the time of the Prophet, many of those who embraced Islam found that it conflicted with the beliefs and requests of their parents, but they were taught to be kind and to obey their parents, except if the parents demanded they disobey Allah.

But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience.  Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do. (Luqman 31:15)

Being dutiful to parents, obeying them and treating them with kindness is embedded in the teachings of Islam. However, obedience to Allah is always the first and foremost duty in Islam.

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This article was originally published on islamreligion.com. It has been taken with modifications from onislam.net

 

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Two Supererogatory Rak’ahs of the Dawn Prayer

By Editorial Staff

As well as being the second pillar of Islam, the Salah (performing prayer) is the first practical pillar. Muslims perform five obligatory prayers a day at different prescribed times. The five obligatory prayers are al-Fajr (the Dawn Prayer), al-Dhuhr (the Noon Prayer), al-‘Asr (the Afternoon Prayer), al-Maghrib (the Sunset Prayer), and al-‘Isha’ (the Evening prayer).

For almost every obligatory prayer, there are other supererogatory prayers which are recommended to be performed before and/ or after it.  These supererogatory prayers are divided into sunnah mu’akkadah, whose performance is stressed or highly recommended, and sunnah ghair mu’akkadah, whose performance is less recommended or not stressed.

Of these supererogatory prayers which are regarded as sunnah mu’akkadah, there are ten or twelve rak’ahs (units of prayer) that are highly recommended to be performed on a daily basis.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The two rak’ahs before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.”

Al-Fajr (The Dawn Prayer)

When the time of al-Fajr Prayer is due, it is recommended to perform two rak’ahs individually between Adhan (the call to prayer) and Iqamah (the second call to prayer).

Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) never missed performing them whether he was resident or travelling. ’A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The two rak’ahs before the dawn (Fajr) prayer are better than this world and all it contains.” (Muslim)

This hadith highlights the virtue of these two rak’ahs. Furthermore, if this is the case regarding the reward of this supererogatory prayer, how great, then, the reward of the obligatory prayer of al-Fajr is!

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said: Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (Al-Bukhari)

What verses to recite during the two supererogatory rak’ahs of Al-Fajr?

It is an act of the sunnah to recite surat al-Kafirun (Chapter of The Disbelievers) after reciting surat al-Fatihah (Chapter of the Opening) at the first rak’ah and surat al-Ikhlas (Chapter of the Pure Sincerity) at the second one.

In another narration related by Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would recite the following verses:

At the first rak’ah after reciting surat al-Fatihah, he would recite:

Say, (O believers): We believe in (One) God, and (in) all that has been sent down to us (in the Quran); and (in) all that has been sent down to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and (to) the (prophets of the) Tribes (of Israel); and (in) all that was given to Moses and (to) Jesus; and (in) all that was given to (all) the (other) prophets from their Lord. We do not differentiate (in faith) between any of them. Thus are we muslims, in willing submission to Him (alone). (Quran 2:136)

At the second rak’ah after reciting surat al-Fatihah, he would recite:

(O Muhammad,) say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an equitable word between us and you: That (together) we shall not worship other than God. And (together) we shall not associate anything (at all) in (our worship of) Him. And (together) we shall not take one another as lords apart from God. Yet if they turn away, (O believers), then say (to them): Bear witness that we, indeed, are muslims, in willing submission to God (alone). (Quran 3:64)

A Muslim can choose to recite either the two surahs or the two verses. However, reciting the two surahs is more common.

Should the two rak’ahs be short or long?

They are recommended to be short. Narrated `A’isha:

The Prophet (p.b.u.h) used to make the two rak`at before the Fajr prayer so light that I would wonder whether he recited Al-Fatiha (or not). (Al-bukhari and Muslim)

It should be noted that a person should be aware not to perform them so quickly to an extent that they become invalid. Feeling at rest in every pillar of the prayer is a must.

The legal ruling concerning lying down after performing them

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

The Prophet (ﷺ) used to offer eleven rak’ahs of optional Salat (prayers) in the latter part of night. When it was about dawn, he would offer two short rak’ahs and then would lie down on his right side till the Mu’adhdhin (one who calls for prayer) would come to inform him that the congregation had gathered (for prayer). (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Scholars hold different opinions regarding lying down after performing the two supererogatory rak’ahs of al-Fajr. There are three opinions as follows: obligatory, recommended and allowed.

1. Obligatory

Scholars who adopt this opinion use the following hadith to support it. Abu Hurairah narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger (S) said: “When one of you prays the two (supererogatory) Rak’ahs of Fajr then let him lay down on his right (side).” (Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi)

To explain how they deduced this legal ruling, they say that this hadith contains the form of imperative which denote obligation in Arabic.

Discussing this opinion, scholars of hadith consider this narration, which contains the form of imperative, as shadh (anomalous). Secondly, supposing it is authentic, the form of imperative here should not be understood to mean obligation because there are other proofs that clearly denote that lying down is not obligatory.

2. Recommended

The following hadith denotes that lying down is not obligatory. Narrated `A’isha:

After offering the two (supererogatory) rak`ahs,  the Prophet (p.b.u.h) used to talk to me, if I happen to be awake; otherwise he would lie down. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

3. Allowed

Lying down was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), however, he did not command Muslims to do that. Furthermore, had it been common among the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), they would have reported it.

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The supplication made between the Adhan and the Iqamah is never rejected.” (Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi)

The legal ruling concerning the person who misses the two supererogatory rak’ahs of Al-Fajr

If a person arrives at the masjid (mosque) and finds out that Muslims are performing the obligatory congregational prayer of al-Fajr, he must join them.

As for the missed prayer, there are two opinions concerning the time when a person can make it up.

1. After sunrise

The person should wait till about 10 or 15 minutes after sunrise to be able to make up the sunnah (supererogatory) of al-Fajr.

Abu Huraira is reported to have said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) prohibited to observe prayer after the ‘Asr prayer till the sun is set, and after the dawn till the sun rises. (Muslim)

2. After performing the obligatory prayer

Scholars who support this opinion say that making up the missed prayers is an exception.

Qatada narrated on the authority of Anas b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

He who forgets the prayer, or he slept (and it was omitted), its expiation is (only) that he should observe it when he remembers it. (Muslim)

Um Salamah (Allah be pleased with her) said, “I sent a slave-girl to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asking her to stand by his side and say to him that Umm Salama says:

Messenger of Allah, I heard you prohibiting these two rak’ahs, whereas I saw you observing them; and if he (the Holy Prophet) points with his hand (to wait), then do wait.

The slave-girl did like that. He (the Holy Prophet) pointed out with his hand and she got aside and waited, and when he had finished (the prayer) he said:

O Daughter of Abu Umayya! You have asked about the two rak’ahs after the ‘Asr prayer. Some people of ‘Abd al-Qais came to me for embracing Islam and hindered me from observing the two rak’ahs which come after the noon prayer. So those are the two I have been praying. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Both the time after al-Fajr Prayer and the time after al-‘Asr Prayer have the same ruling. This makes the second opinion more preferred.

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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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Who Do Muslims Worship: God or Allah?

One of the biggest misconceptions about Islam concerns the name “Allah”. Some people believe that Muslims worship a different God than Christians, Jews and others, and some missionary organizations distribute literature in English in which they say such things as: “Allah is the god of the Muslims” and “Muhammad told people to believe in the god, Allah”.

God Allah

“Allah” is the only word in the Arabic language equivalent to “God”

They thus imply and reinforce the idea that “Allah” is some sort of false deity.

This is totally incorrect because “Allah” is the same word that Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use for God. If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will find the word «Allah» wherever «God» is used in English.

“Allah” is also the proper name of God. Therefore, Muslims use the name “Allah” even when they speak other languages.

The Creator, the Sustainer

“Allah” is a special word. It indicates the only entity in existence who truly possesses the qualities of divinity and lordship, the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and earth. It is the name of the only being worthy of worship, the one upon whom all creation is dependent at every moment.

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves, and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Ash-Shura 42:11)

O men! Here is a parable set forth! listen to it! Those on whom, besides Allah, ye call, cannot create (even) a fly, if they all gathered together for the purpose! and if the fly should snatch away anything from them, they would have no power to release it from the fly. Feeble are those who petition and those whom they petition! (Al-Hajj 22:73)

This name belongs to God alone and no one else. “Allah” is the only word in the Arabic language equivalent to “God” with a capital “G”. It is also a unique word grammatically since it cannot be made plural or given a masculine or feminine gender. This is consistent with the Islamic concept of God. In English and other languages the word “god” can be used in various forms such as “God”, “gods” or “goddess”, all with different connotations and meanings.

The One and Only “God”

The only difference between “god” (meaning a false god or any object of worship) and “God” (meaning the one true God) is a capital “G”.

Thus, a more accurate translation of “Allah” might be “the one and only true God”.

But there is another important point, which is that Islam is particularly concerned with the correct concept of God.

Someone can have an erroneous concept of Him whether he uses the name “Allah” or the word “God”.

Followers of previous religions gradually deviated from the original pure belief in God due to the fact that their scriptures were not adequately protected from loss and alteration. None of these are still available for study in their original form or language.

But this is not true of the last divinely revealed message, the Qur’an.

No son did Allah beget, nor is there any god along with Him: (if there were many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have lorded it over others! Glory to Allah! (He is free) from the (sort of) things they attribute to Him! (Al-Mu’minun 23:91)

Hence, the accurate concept of God can be found therein.

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only; Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him. (Al-Ikhlas 112:1-4)

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Source: The article is excerpted from the book Clear Your Doubts about Islam, Compiled by Saheeh international.

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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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Acts of Worship New Muslims

`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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Hijrah: Perfect Planning and Reliance on Allah

Hijrah

The Hijrah event was by all measures an outstanding milestone.

If greatness of historical events is measured by their constructive influences and decisive resultant effects on the motion of life as well as the march of human beings on earth, the value of such events is – besides this – known through the elevated morals, noble principles and ethical demeanors that co-occur with these events.

Hence, the Hijrah event was by all measures an outstanding milestone. It yielded great fruits, displayed lofty principles and values in action, and expounded Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings be upon him) prominent skill in planning as well as putting his whole trust in Allah the Almighty.

This can be seen in so many situations and incidents that took place throughout the course of Hijrah. Some of these will be cited here to help Muslims emulate them and put them into action in due, similar contexts. Two of the many perfect aspects of the Prophet’s personality that appeared during the Hijrah event will be highlighted here: the Prophet’s paramount ability to plan, and putting his full trust in Allah following observing all the possible material means.

Perfect planning

No doubt the Hijrah witnessed a number of extraordinary incidents that show Allah’s perfect care for His Prophet and his personal safety. Foremost among these is the fact that Allah provided him with unseen aides besides showering mercy and tranquility upon him. The Qur’an states this as saying: ”And Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and supported him with soldiers [i.e., angels] you did not see.“ (At-Tawbah 9:40) However, the flow of incidents was guided by the natural laws set by Allah to manage this present life and govern all that takes place therein. This can be seen in what follows.

  • As soon as the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was commanded to emigrate to Madinah he entrusted Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), his closest friend and companion, with the information. Two she-camels were purchased and prepared for the journey by the latter. The Prophet agreed to take one of them for himself, known as Al-Qaswaa’ afterwards, provided that he would pay its price.
  • In order to deceive the Quraishites, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), his cousin and companion, to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allah’s protection and told him that no harm would come to him. It is remarkable that `Ali was then less than twenty years old!
  • The Prophet (peace be upon him) hired a guide who knew the desert’s pathways very well to guide them throughout the way to Madinah to ward off any possibility of getting lost. It is also remarkable that the guide who is known by the name `Abdullah ibn Urayqit was then still a disbeliever. However, the divinely-guided Prophet hired him on the basis of having two basic qualities: professional experience as a guide and his well-known honesty.
  • When the Prophet (peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr set out for Madinah they went out from the latter’s house through a skylight or a wicket in order to evade the Quraishites who were resolved on capturing them.
  • In order to further camouflage their escape, the Prophet and Abu Bakr took an unusual route to Madinah. Instead of taking the road to Madinah in north side of Makkah as the polytheists would expect, they walked along a least expected road south of Makkah leading to Yemen. They reached the cave known by the name Thawr where they stayed for three days until the search for them lessened.
  • `Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr used to mix with the Quraishites in their gatherings in order to collect information and then visit the Prophet and his father at the cave to apprise them of the latest situation in Makkah. His sister, Asmaa’ bint Abi Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her) used to carry food provisions to the Prophet and her father twice a day. In addition, `Amir ibn Fuhairah who was tending his master Abu Bakr’s flock, used to follow both `Abdullah and Asmaa’ to erase their footprints. This is due to the fact that the Arabs were famous for tracking and through these footprints they could have figured out which road the Prophet and his companion have taken and the whole plan would have failed.
  • The great caution exercised by the Prophet and Abu Bakr in all their actions throughout the journey; whoever asked Abu Bakr about the identity of his honorable companion (i.e., the Prophet), he would reply that he was a man who guided him on his way. The questioner would think that Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was a guide, in terms of roads, whereas Abu Bakr used to mean guide to the way of righteousness. (Al-Bukhari)
  • Thus, using his wit, Abu Bakr answered the questioner without revealing the Prophet’s identity or resorting to telling lies.
  • Choosing Madinah as the final destination was not a passing thought or a mere chance. Rather, it was a well-studied decision and a predetermined fate. This is due to the strategic geographic location Madinah then enjoyed that would give the forthcoming Muslim state a great influence on stirring events and happenings all over the Arabian Peninsula. Added to this the unique demographical structure as it encompassed the three Jewish tribes: BanuQainuqa`, BanuQuraizah and Banu An-Nadir side by side with the Arabs who belonged to the Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes. Besides, the people of Madinah had amicable relations with Da`wah as they met with the Prophet (peace be upon him) twice in `Aqabah where they swore allegiance to him. Thus, they were prepared for receiving Muslims as well as the Prophet as a first step towards establishing the first Muslim state.

Reliance on Allah

In this pattern that is characterized by putting the Prophet’s full trust in Allah as well as cherishing the material means or natural laws set by Him in the universe, the Hijrah incidents succeeded in a row. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was so protected and supported by Allah Almighty that all the Quraishites’ malicious schemes were defeated. It was Allah’s Will that the plans of Prophet Muhammad succeed and those of the disbelievers fail. He says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an: “Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.“ (At-Talaq 65:3) And, regarding DhulQarnain, Allah says: “Indeed, We established him upon the earth, and We gave him to everything a way [i.e., means]. So he followed a way.“ (Al-Kahf 18:84-85)

In a narration by Imam Ahmad on the authority of Asmaa’ bint Abi Bakr that she said: “We prepared food provision for them… they set out going around the mountains of Makkah until they found the mountain which they chose as their [temporary] resort. Upon seeing a man in front of the cave, Abu Bakr said, “O Prophet of Allah! He could see us!” The Prophet replied, “No! There are angels that cover us with their wings”. The man sat to relieve himself facing [the mouth of] the cave. Thereupon the Prophet said, “If he could see us, he would not do that.” (Musnad Ahmad)

Despite all the efforts the Prophet has exerted to camouflage the Hijrah event and maintain its secrecy, the Quraishites reached the mouth of the cave where he and Abu Bakr were hiding. This means that when the required human effort is exhausted, comes the aid from Allah Who never lets down or abandons His Prophet and/or his worshippers in a way that may deliver them to His and their adversaries.

The Almighty reaffirms this meaning in the Qur’an that He will protect His Prophet when he is forsaken and/or unattended by all other supporters. The companions were scattered at that time as many of them have emigrated to Madinah earlier, while some remained in Makkah. Thus, the Prophet (peace be upon him) had no one else left beside him at that very time except Allah and Abu Bakr…  

If you do not aid him [i.e., the Prophet] – Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he [Muhammad] said to his companion, “Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us.” And Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and supported him with soldiers [i.e., angels] you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah – that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:40)

Thus, following taking care of all material means in terms of planning and preparing for the action, the Prophet put his trust in Allah and declared his complete dependence on Him Alone and he earnestly directed his face along with his heart towards Allah seeking His mercy, guidance and assistance. In short, the Prophet (peace be upon him) put his trust in Allah without negligence of material means.

This is a great lesson that needs to be learnt by each and every Muslim who should have strict faith that Allah’s help will descend when one’s human means are exhausted and that s/he should be confident that victory is always from Allah who states: “And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (Aal `Imran 3:126)

To conclude, human effort in the world of observing material means cannot be neglected or made little of by Muslims especially those who shoulder the responsibility of inviting others to the way of Allah under the pretense of depending on Allah and leaving everything to Him. If Prophet Muhammad – though was well protected by Allah – observed all possible human material means to make his plan work out, no doubt we would be more entitled to observe all possible means and use all our cunning and planning skills to make our designs succeed. We have to do all what we can then leave the results to Allah Who knows better than any of His creatures.

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First Muslim Community in Madinah & the Groundwork for Hijrah

It was 620, a year after the deaths of Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and his uncle Abu Talib, and the time of the yearly pilgrimage to the Ka`bah and Makkah’s annual market period was drawing near. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was still dispensing his teachings in a climate of rejection, exclusion, and persecution.

Toward Exile

About a hundred Muslims now lived under protection in Abyssinia, but no solution seemed to present itself for the faithful who lived in Makkah.

The pilgrims, coming from all areas of the peninsula, started to settle in the Mina area, to remain there throughout the festival period. Muhammad often went there and conveyed his message to women and men who, in their distant dwelling places, had heard about it but did not know its actual contents. He was far from always receiving a favorable response.

At Al-`Aqabah, not far from Mina, the Prophet met a group of people from Yathrib. They were from the Khazraj tribe, one of the two great rival tribes in Yathrib (the other being the Aws), and he began to deliver his message to them. They had already heard of the message from the Jewish tribes who lived in their city, and they wished to know more about it. They listened to the Prophet and eventually accepted the message of Islam: they promised to inform the members of their tribe of the substance of the message and to keep in permanent contact with the Prophet. They went back home and started preaching in Yathrib.

In Makkah, conversions kept increasing, and Muhammad carried on with his public call. As far as his private life was concerned, many advised him to think of remarrying. Proposals had been made, but the Prophet had never pursued the matter. He had, however, had two dreams in which the very young `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter, who was then six years old, was offered to him in marriage.

When Khawlah, who had taken care of the Prophet’s needs since Khadijah’s death, advised him to remarry and suggested two names-Sawdah, a widow in her thirties who had very recently come back from Abyssinia, and `Aa’ishah, Abu Bakr’s daughter- Muhammad saw in this strange coincidence a sign of the truthfulness of his dreams, and he asked Khawlah to do what was necessary to find out whether the two unions were possible.

Polygamy was the norm in Arabia then, and the Prophet’s situation was the exception, since he had remained monogamous for twenty-five rears. The union with Sawdah was particularly easy to concretize: Sawdah immediately, and most favorably, answered the proposal made to her, and they married a few months later.

`Aa’ishah had already, in keeping with Arabian customs, been promised by Abu Bakr to Mutim’s son, and her father had to negotiate with Mutim in order to break the engagement. `Aa’shah then officially became Muhammad’s second wife, though the union would not be consummated for several years.

A year later, pilgrims and traders were again flocking to Makkah for the celebrations of 621. A second meeting was organized at Al-`Aqabah between the Prophet and the Yathrib delegation that had come to report on the evolution of the situation in their city. Twelve people from Yathrib, two of whom belonged to the Aws clan, took part in the meeting. They pledged allegiance to the Prophet, stipulating that they would worship only the One God, no others, and that they would honor the duties and interdictions of Islam.

They were therefore to constitute the first Muslim community in Yathrib. Muhammad sent back with them a Companion, Mus`ab ibn `Umayr, who had just returned from Abyssinia and who was known for his calm, his wisdom, and tile beauty of his recitation of the Qur’an.

Message of Brotherhood

Back in Yathrib, the delegation kept spreading the message and Mus`ab taught Islam, recited the Qur’an, and answered questions. In spite of age-old and still very sharp divisions between the Aws and Khazraj, members of both tribes converted to the new religion and realized that their former rivalries had become pointless: ’Islam’s message of brotherhood united them.

Clan chiefs nevertheless remained very reluctant to embrace Islam. Mus`ab never reacted to their attacks nor to their aggressive attitude; rather, he invariably answered: “Sit down and listen to the message: if you like it, accept it, if you do not, leave it.” As a result, the number of conversions was high, even among leaders.

During the following year’s pilgrimage, the Prophet met an important delegation of Yathrib. Muslims, composed of seventy-three people, two of them women. They belonged to both me Aws and the Khazraj, and they had come to bring the Prophet the good news of their commitment to Islam. After a few discussions about the nature of their future relationship, they concluded a second covenant stipulating that the Yathrib.

Muslims pledged to protect the Prophet, as well as Makkah’s Muslim women and children, against any aggression. This second covenant, granting refuge and protection and a commitment of Yathrib Muslims to support their Makkan brothers, opened before the Prophet the prospect of a promising future.

From then on, Muhammad encouraged Muslims to emigrate to Yathrib discreetly, while his closest Companions still remained by his side.

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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The Hijrah: History and Living Lessons

By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed

The significance of Hijrah (the migration of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to Madinah) is not limited to the Islamic history or to the Muslims. The Hijrah not only reshaped – socially and politically – the Arab Peninsula, but also had its impact on worldwide civilizations.

God says in the Qur’an:

Those who believe, and have emigrated, and have struggled in the way of God with their possessions and their lives are greater in degree with God; and those, they are the triumphant.
Their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and beatitude; for them shall be gardens wherein is enduring bliss, therein they shall abide forever. Surely with God is a tremendous reward.
(At-Tawbah 9: 20-2)

Meaning of Hijrah

Throughout the history of Islam, the migration was a transitional line between the two major eras, regarding to the message of Islam; the era of Makkah and the era of Madinah. In its essence, this signified a transition from one phase to another, as follows:

– Transition from the position of weakness, where the non-believers of Makkah – particularly the people of Quraysh- humiliated, tortured and killed Muslims, to the position of strength. This is where Muslims were allowed to defend themselves and were able to defeat their adversaries.

– Transition from spreading Islam through individual Da`wah (inviting others to Islam) to the spreading of Islam through institutionalized Da’wah, initiated by the state.

– Transition from a position where Muslims represented a small group of people, surrounded by enemies and threatened by death, to the position of a regional power with a strong central leadership. This was one that was surrounded by a large number of followers and allies.

– Transition of Da`wah from regionalism, in which the focus was only on Quraysh and the tribes surrounding Makkah, to the phase of universalism. This is where the Muslim State began reaching out to Persia, Egypt, and the Byzantine Empire.

– Transition from being a simple Islamic group of believers, to being the Islamic nation. This was an organized Islamic state, with a central leadership and other organizations.

– Transition, which is most significantly for early Muslims, to the phase in which Islam was not only the act of worship, but a way of life. This was encompassing (surrounding) politics, economy, social interactions and every other aspect of life. This was the first time when Islam was looked upon as a comprehensive religion.

This contrast between the two periods is clearly noticeable in the Qur’anic discourse. Muslim scholars describe the part of Qur’an that was revealed in Makkah as the Makkan Qur’an, and that which was revealed in Madinah as the Madani Qur’an.

Although both parts are intermingled in the Qur’an and constitute one divine script, the discourse of both parts is clearly distinguishable. Whereas the part revealed in Makkah concentrated on Tawheed (the Oneness of God/monotheism), the part revealed in Madinah covered rules regarding Islamic life in general.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the migration of Prophet Muhammad to Madinah was the crucial event, which established the Islamic civilization. This was a civilization that thrived for many centuries.

Hijrah, the Turning Point in Islamic History

Hijrah (Immigration to Madinah), no doubt, kindled the light of hope in the hearts of the early Muslims who set a shining example for all Muslims, in every generation, to emulate.

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor (attempt). Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from hijrah.

Hijrah was one of the most important events in the history of Islam. It is for this reason the Caliph `Umar adopted hijrah date to calculate years. Muslims chose hijrah as the focal point to reckon their chronology.

In physical terms, hijrah was a journey between two cities about 200 miles apart, but in its grand significance it marked the beginning of an era, a civilization, a culture and a history for the whole mankind. Islam progressed not only from the physical Hijrah, but because Muslims took Hijrah seriously in all its aspects and dimensions.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) immigrated from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or took shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived to Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect:

Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet first established a mosque to worship God. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. That was the beginning, but soon other mosques were established in Madinah.

Brotherhood: He established brotherly relations between the Muslims who migrated from Makkah and the residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his companions. What was important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet Muhammad also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet prepared a covenant for relations between these communities.

Cleaning the City: Yathrib, previous name of Madinah, was a dirty city. When the Companions came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them got sick and did not like that city. The Prophet asked them to clean the city and remove its dirt and filth. Aisha said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking. (Al-Bukhari)

Water System in the City: The Prophet asked the companions to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for everyone.

Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet encouraged the Companions to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that anyone who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for everyone.

Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Everyone had enough food and shelter and the Prophet used to give gifts to coming delegations.

Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, Hijrah teaches that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.

Did Other Prophets Perform Hijrah?

A hijrah was not something special for Prophet Muhammad. Rather, other Prophets emigrated before Prophet Muhammad. Yet, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad differed from those of other Prophets because it was not intended as a flight from torture but as the beginning of the Islamic state. The eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states the following:

Most of Allah’s Messengers, if not all, emigrated. However, their emigrations differed from that of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For example, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) emigrated, as related in the Qur’an : “And Lot believed him, and said: Lo! I am a fugitive unto my Lord. Lo! He, only He, is the Mighty, the Wise” (Al-`Ankabut 29: 26). In another verse, God says:  “And he said: Lo! I am going unto my Lord Who will guide me” (As-Saffat 37: 99). So, Prophet Abraham migrated from place to place till he settled at a town in Palestine, where he was then buried. That town, Al-Khalil Ibrahim (Hebron) is now named after him.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) also emigrated before he was assigned with the divine mission. He fled from Egypt after he had mistakenly killed an Egyptian. He sought God’s forgiveness for that, and a man advised him to get out of Egypt in order to escape people’s revenge. God says:  “And a man came from the uttermost part of the city, running. He said: O Moses! Lo! the chiefs take counsel against thee to slay thee; therefore escape. Lo! I am of those who give thee good advice. So he escaped from thence, fearing, vigilant. He said: My Lord! Deliver me from the wrongdoing folk” (Al-Qasas 28: 20-21)

Then Prophet Moses went to a country called Madyan, where he married the daughter of a righteous old man (Prophet Shu`aib, peace be upon him) and stayed with him for ten years. Throughout that period, Moses had no divine mission. He lived as a righteous man, a good husband, and a generous son-in-law; however, he had no prominent role to perform. That is to say, Prophet Moses emigrated for fear of revenge. He said, as related in the Qur’an: “Then I fled from you when I feared you, and my Lord vouchsafed me a command and appointed me (of the number) of those sent (by Him)” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26:21).

On the other hand, the hijrah of Prophet Muhammad was not only to escape temptation and torture of his people. It was the starting point to establish the Muslim nation, a new Muslim community based on Islam, the universal divine message that calls for morality and human rights. That was the very purpose of Prophet Muhammad’s hijrah to Madinah, and he performed his role as best as possible. He put the foundation of a sound Muslim community and established the best nation ever created.

What Is the Hijrah Calendar?

Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Makkah to Madinah (approximately July 622 CE).

The Islamic calendar was first introduced by the close companion of the Prophet, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab. During his leadership of the Muslim community, in approximately 638 CE, he consulted with his advisors in order to come to a decision regarding the various dating systems used at that time. It was agreed that the most appropriate reference point for the Islamic calendar was the hijrah, since it was an important turning point for the Muslim community.

After the emigration to Madinah, the Muslims were able to organize and establish the first real Muslim “community,” with social, political, and economic independence. Life in Madinah allowed the Muslim community to mature and strengthen, and the people developed an entire society based on Islamic principles.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in many Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia. Other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

Lunar Months Each Year

The Islamic year has twelve months that are based on a lunar cycle. God says in the Qur’an:

The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) – so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth…. (At-Tawbah, 9: 36)

It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory, and the moon to be a light of beauty, and measured out stages for it, that you might know the number of years and the count of time. Allah did not create this except in truth and righteousness. And He explains His signs in detail, for those who understand (Yunus, 10: 5)

And in his final sermon before his death, the Prophet Muhammad said, among other things: “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumada and Sha`ban.” (Al Bukhari)

Islamic months begin at sunset of the first day, the day when the lunar crescent is visually sighted. The lunar year is approximately 354 days long, so the months rotate backward through the seasons and are not fixed to the Gregorian calendar.

The months of the Islamic year are:

1. Muharram (“Forbidden” – it is one of the four months during which it is forbidden to wage war or fight)

2. Safar (“Empty” or “Yellow”)

3. Rabi` Awwal (“First spring”)

4. Rabi` Thani (“Second spring”)

5. Jumada Awwal (“First freeze”)

6. Jumada Thani (“Second freeze”)

7. Rajab (“To respect” – this is another holy month when fighting is prohibited)

8. Sha`ban (“To spread and distribute”)

9. Ramadan (“Parched thirst” – this is the month of daytime fasting)

10. Shawwal (“To be light and vigorous”)

11. Dhul-Qi`dah (“The month of rest” – another month when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

12. Dhul-Hijjah (“The month of Hajj” – this is the month of the annual pilgrimage to Makkah, again when no warfare or fighting is allowed)

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Source: Islamic Research Foundation International – www.irfi.org.

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