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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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The Greatest Covenant for the Muslim and How to Fulfill It

By Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali

The Muslim Covenant with AllahFor a Muslim, the most honorable and the holiest covenant is the one which he has made with his Lord, for Allah has created him with His Power. He has nourished him under the shadow of his favors and blessings, and has demanded of him that he should recognize what is the reality and admit it.

No misguiding factors should cause him to deviate from the right path lest he may deny these realities or he may lose sight of them:

Did I not enjoin on you, 0 you children of Adam! that you should not worship Satan.. for that he was to you an enemy avowed? And that you should worship Me, (for that) this was the straight way? (Ya-Sin 36:60-61)

Those who do not listen to the Prophets and do not follow their teachings, in their nature also there is a motivator which pricks them, shows them the path of their Lord, and tries to make them realize the greatness of the Creator, however corrupt and polluted the environment may be:

This is the meaning of this covenant which Allah has taken from all the humans:

When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam-from their loins-their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying).. . Am I not your Lord ( Who cherishes and sustains you)?’ They said: .Yes, we do testify.’ (This), lest you should say on the Day of Judgment: ‘Of this we were never mindful.’ Or lest you should say: ‘Our fathers before us may have taken false gods but we are (their) descendants after them.. will you then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?’ Thus do We explain the signs in detail in order that they may turn (to Us). (Al-A`raf 7:172-174)

Here, no regular dialogues had taken place as is clear from the apparent sense of these verses, but this is a picture of the right-natured people showing how they are mindful of Allah, how they recognize Him, how they discover His Oneness and Greatness from the proofs scattered in the universe, and shun from all the conventional customs and habits which keep men away from this Lord, and which associate someone with Allah. This style of speech and writing is common in the Arabic language.

Faithfulness

With honoring this Covenant, a man’s faithfulness is the foundation of his respect and honor in this world and of success and glory in the next world.

It is an undue misgiving and fear from Allah that we should fulfill the covenant made with Him and still be apprehensive that some disaster would befall us:

“Recall the favor, which I bestowed on you, and fulfill your Covenant with Me ” I will fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to give these instructions to the tribes which came to him, while conveying the Message of Islam, and used to place before them only a few aspects in the beginning according to the intellectual and physical capacities of the people instead of giving them the complete teachings.

`Awf bin Malik says that he was with the Prophet when there were about seven, or eight or nine persons present. He asked us: “Will you not take a pledge on the hand of the Messenger of Allah?” We stretched our hands and said: “We take a pledge on your hand, a Messenger of Allah!”

He said: “(Your pledge is) That you should worship Allah. Do not associate anybody with Him, and offer salah for five times and listen and obey.” And he said in a low voice: “And do not ask for anything from the people.”

Auf bin Malik says: “I saw some of these persons who had taken pledge that when their hunter fell on the ground, they did not ask anybody to pick it up and give it to them.” (Muslim)

How scrupulously the pledge is being observed and how severely and strictly it is being enforced! There was no special significance of this pledge. Every group used to be instructed according to its nature and circumstances. The ruler used to be advised not to be cruel. The trader used to be instructed not to indulge in adulteration and deceit, and the employees were admonished against accepting bribes.

Otherwise, every Muslim is bound to follow the entire religion, all its tenets and principles, and he will be asked on the Day of Judgment about the entire Shari`ah.

However, in the Islamic world there have appeared a few sects which take a pledge of a special kind. They should not be entertained.

They are like quacks who pose as physicians. They administer spurious drugs and complicate the disease and endanger the life of their patient.

Islamic teachings cannot be divided and distributed. All of them must be followed, and their enforcement is necessary in every place at every time.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Muslim Character”, a translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s “Khuluq Al-Muslim”.

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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.

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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.

_________________________

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 Straight Path and How to Follow It

nature

The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations.

God says:

Say: “Come, I shall recite what your Lord has forbidden to you”:

Do not associate anyone with Him in His divinity.

Be good to your parents.

Do not kill your children for fear of want.

We shall provide for you and for them.

Do not approach shameful deeds, whether open or secret.

Do not take life which Allah has made sacred, except in a just cause.

This He has enjoined upon you so that you may reflect.

And do not approach the property of an orphan except in the best manner until he comes of age.

And give full measure and weight with justice. We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity.

When you speak, be just, even though it be against a near relative.

And fulfill the covenant of Allah. This He has enjoined so that you may remember.

This is My way – the Straight way. Follow it then and do not follow other paths; that will deviate you from His way. This He has enjoined so that you may fear Allah.

And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice- We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. (Al-An`am 6:151-152)

Exploitation of the weaker sections of society is a common sight. The Qur’anic guidance for following the ‘straight way’ covers this aspect of social life as well. For the Qur’an forbids all forms of usurpation or misappropriation of an orphan’s property.

The Qur’an aims at developing such righteousness among man that any wicked thought of taking away an orphan’s belongings should not even cross one’s mind. For the Qur’an instructs that the guardian’s sole concern should be the protection and betterment of the orphan’s interest. He should look after such orphans until they come of age and are in a position to manage their own affairs.

The Islamic stance on ensuring the welfare of orphans has elicited the following tribute from a leading Western social scientist:

“One of the most commendable things which one finds in reading the Qur’an is the solicitude which Muhammad (peace be upon him) shows for the young, and especially for such as have been deprived of their natural guardians. Again and again, he insists upon kind and just treatment being accorded to children.

And working upon his words, the Muhammadan doctors have framed a system of rules concerning the appointment and duties of guardians which is most complete, and extending to the most minute details.” (Robert Roberts, Social Laws of the Quran, London, 1911)

Consciousness-based

The same Qur’anic concern for extirpating injustice and for promoting peace and cordial relations in society lies at the core of its other directives for acting with honesty and fairness in business transactions.

It goes without saying that fraudulent trade practices make man’s life miserable and breed a host of vices which tarnish man’s spiritual and moral well-being. Let it be clarified that the directive for giving full measure and weight signifies uprightness on man’s part. Included in it, by implication, is the point that man should be conscientious in all that he does. For example, he should perform his duty well and not waste time.

Punctuality in duty is as important as precision in weight and measure. As a trader is forbidden from cheating customers, an employee should faithfully serve his employer. The employer too, stands obliged to act fairly towards his employees. The Qur’anic worldview is all-inclusive.

It is not restricted to the performance of obligatory prayers on time in the prescribed manner. Rather, it seeks that the same spirit of devotion to Allah, which permeates one’s prayer, should also be reflected in every walk of life, especially in a person’s dealings with his fellow human beings.

It is not therefore surprising to note that many components of the Straight Way, as embodied in this passage, relate to man’s social life, not to devotional theology. As part of the same stance, business practices find mention in clear terms in that these affect all members of society. The Qur’an insists that these be characterized by fairness, transparency and justice.

After having prescribed this particular code of conduct and exhorted man to abide by it, failing which he will incur Allah’s wrath, the Qur’an comforts man also with an eye on bolstering his morale.

Within Capacity

It is noteworthy that at the conclusion of these commandments the Qur’an records the observation that Allah does not burden man beyond his capacity. Gifted with the numerous faculties and potentials granted to him by Allah, man can easily follow all these commands.

The Qur’an has not set man some gigantic tasks, which are beyond his capacity to accomplish. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions stood this test and performed admirably what was expected of them.

It is not therefore beyond our capacity to emulate them. Implicit in the above assurance is the fact that Allah will condone any lapse on man’s part in pursuing the Straight Way, as long as his intention to observe these directives is pious and sincere.

The Qur’anic exhortation to profess and practise justice at all costs is to the fore, once again, in its directive that man should be fair in his testimony. Evidently this directive is not special to the legal sphere. The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations. This point emerges on studying the above directive in conjunction with the following verses:

O Believers! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against the rich or the poor. For Allah can best protect both. (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

O Believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is next to piety and fearing Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Mosques in Islam: Purpose and Role

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah.

As the primary religious institution, the masjid has the greatest role in community building, and its success in performing this role is essential for the wellbeing of the community, particularly where Muslims live as minorities.

Sadly, the role of the masjid in many Muslim communities around the globe has recently been reduced to being a physical place where prayers are offered. It is time to reverse that trend and revive the role of this institution to what it was in the early history of Islam. Such a revival cannot be fully realized without first developing a clear understanding from the revelation, the Qur’an and Sunnah, about the importance, virtue, and role of the masjid in Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “The best patches (of earth) are the masajid (mosques) and the worst are the markets.” (Ibn Hibban)

Thus, Allah chose His Prophets to establish them, He said:

And (mention) when Abraham was raising the foundations of the House and (with him) Ishmael. (Al-Baqarah 2:127)

And He commanded them to purify them and keep them clean, He said:

And We charged Abraham and Ishmael, (saying), “Purify My House”… (Al-Baqarah 2:125)

Furthermore, Allah made the reward of building the masajid most abundant. Regarding this, the Messenger of Allah said:

“Whoever builds a mosque for Allah, though it be the size of the ground nest of a sand-grouse, Allah will build for him a house in Paradise.” (Ibn Majah)

Refuge for Hearts

Allah made the masajid a refuge for the hearts of His righteous servants, as the Prophet said:

“There are seven (types of people) whom Allah will protect with His Shade, on the Day (of Resurrection) when there will be no shade except His Shade.” Of them is, “A person whose heart is attached to the masjid.”

It should suffice the caretakers of the masajid that Allah praised them with this description,

The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah, for it is expected that those will be of the (rightly) guided. (At-Tawbah 9:18)

It was not a coincidence that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) started his mission in Madinah by building the masjid, which he made in its center.

The masjid takes its name from one of the actions of salah (prayer), which is sujud (prostration). It is the action wherein the believer shows the utmost humility to Allah. The salah is the best of our actions, as the Prophet told us in the hadith of Thawban.

Beyond Prayer

However, the role of the masjid is not limited to the performance of salah. The masajid should be places wherein Muslims learn how to prostrate their hearts before Allah, and not only their bodies. They are places of tarbiyah (refinement) of the Muslim character.

To the Prophet  and his Companions, the masjid was not only a place where they prayed, but it was also a place where they learned, recited the Qur’an, made dhikr (remembrance) and du`aa’ (supplication), met with each other, socialized, received the delegations, prepared the expeditions and raised funds for various good causes.

In fact, it was sometimes even a place for tending to the sick, and a shelter for the homeless. In the physical world, it was at the center of their lives. At the same time, it was the cradle of their learning and spiritual growth.

Whatever can be said about the importance of the masjid for Muslim communities throughout the world it is even more magnified when we talk about the Muslim minorities, to whom the masjid is truly the ark of Noah. In America, for example, Muslims are a small minority scattered throughout a large continent. For some of them, weeks or months may pass by without getting a chance to see another Muslim except in the masjid.

The masjid, therefore, constitutes the link between them and their deen (religion). In it, they develop that emotional bond with their community, which is vital to the wellbeing of their allegiance to the Ummah and faith in Allah. Many youth may find in the masjid the role models they lack at home.

In addition to this, for Muslims to see a masjid– especially the youth who did not grow up in Muslim countries– is vital because it’s the most evident symbol of Islam in their tangible world.

What Else?

The pressing question now is how to revive the role of the masjid in our times, particularly where Muslims live as minorities? Here are some of the things we need to do as a community.

We need to educate ourselves regarding what may be done at the masjid…

To begin with, one must emphasize that the primary actions in the masjid are salah (prayers), dhikr (mention of Allah), du`aa’ (supplication), tilawah (recitation), and education.

In light of that, priority must be given to the main jama`ah (congregants) of the masjid and activities led by the designated imam. Those who do anything else, or do something other than what the main jama`ah does, should not cause disruption. Abu Sa`eed narrated that the Prophet was in i`tikaf and heard them raising their voices with recitation, so he said:

“Each one of you is in munajah (soft conversation) with his Lord, so don’t bother one another, and don’t raise your voices above each other in recitation (or salah).” (Abu Dawud)

If it is prohibited for someone who is praying or reciting the Qur’an to bother the other worshipers, then it is more prohibited for someone doing something inferior to that to bother them.

Having said that, there is still room for much to be done at the masjid, and while many actions are prohibited in it, such as conducting business, advertising, announcing lost items, many other practices are thought to be prohibited when they are not.

Some of us Muslims have this mental image of the masjid as a sterile, extremely quiet place where people pray together and disperse thereafter. This causes some to enforce many restrictions in the masjid that would eventually make it an unwelcoming place for children and families, and even to adult men. However, a tour through the masjid of the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his time may help us rid ourselves of this false conviction.

To be continued…

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Source: muslimmatters.org

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Why Do Muslim Women Cover Their Heads?

By Saulat Pervez

Islam’s code of modesty extends to all aspects of one’s life, including attire. b, the head-covering worn by Muslim women, is an outer manifestation of an inner commitment to worship God. But why actually do Muslim women cover their heads?

cover

More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech.

This brochure explores the different dimensions hijab brings to the lives of women and the responsibility men and women share in upholding modesty in society. Along the way, it debunks common stereotypes and celebrates the voices of women who practice hijab with pride!

One of the questions often asked by people is, “Why do Muslim women cover their heads?” The answer lies in understanding the essence of one’s existence as explained in Islam.

Act of Worship

Muslims believe that their true purpose in life is to worship God according to His instructions, as revealed in the Qur’an and through the teachings of Muhammad(peace be upon him), the final prophet of Islam.

Worship in Islam is a holistic concept which encourages God-consciousness in every facet of daily life, from charity and neighborliness to prayer and honest dealings in business. Modest clothing is an integral aspect of worship in Islam as well.

In the Qur’an, God says,

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms… (An-Nur 24:31)

When God revealed this verse, the female companions of the Prophet Muhammad promptly adopted these guidelines. In a similar spirit of obedience, Muslim women have maintained modest covering (hijab) ever since.

Hence, the primary motivation for covering/wearing the hijab is to obey God.

A Personal Journey

Wearing hijab is a personal and independent decision that comes from a sincere yearning to please God while appreciating the wisdom underlying His command. Many people mistakenly believe that women are forced to cover their heads/wear the hijab. This concept is not based on Islamic teachings as God says in the Qur’an, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Likewise, Prophet Muhammad never forced religion upon anyone. If a woman is being forced to cover, it is contrary to this clear Islamic principle and might be due to cultural or social pressure. According to Islam, a woman willfully chooses to commit to this act of worship.

Days of contemplation, an inevitable fear of consequences as well as reactions and, ultimately, plenty of courage weigh heavily in making the leap.

Katherine Bullock, a Canadian convert to Islam, stated, “For me, the lead up to the decision to wear hijab was more difficult than actually wearing it. I found that, praise be to God, although I did receive negative comments from people, I appreciated the feeling of modesty that wearing the hijab gave me.”

Further, many people make the error of thinking that the hijab is a definitive statement of a woman’s religiosity, as if it is a clear indicator of her spiritual commitment. While veiling is a reflection of one’s beliefs, the hijab simultaneously becomes a tangible reminder to the woman herself: to embody the modesty and dignity it represents and to carry one’s self in a way that pleases God. In that sense, the hijab symbolizes a journey of devotion rather than the end-result of piety.

“After I started wearing hijab,” continued Bullock, “I noticed that people would often behave more cautiously with me, like apologizing if they swore. I appreciated that. I feel that wearing hijab has given me an insight into a decent and upright lifestyle.”

Saba Baig, an American woman converted to Islam, stated, “Before I started wearing hijab my self-perception was rooted in other people’s perceptions of me. I dressed to elicit compliments, keep up with the latest trend, wearing the most desired brand name – which had very little to do with me, and more importantly, what God thought of me.

Before hijab I was in bondage to the surrounding society. After hijab, I became attached to God. With that connection to God came an enormous amount of freedom. Confidence and self-respect were just some of the benefits.”

Ambassadors of Faith

Generalizations and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims are rampant in today’s society and, by extension, in the minds of many people whose worldview is shaped by the media. Muslim women in hijab are frequently stigmatized; they are regarded on the one hand as oppressed and, on the other, as religious fanatics. Due to such misconceptions, unfortunately, the larger society fails to acknowledge and appreciate Muslim women’s courage in standing up to societal norms in their determination to preserve their modesty.

Hijab clearly identifies women as followers of Islam, which can have its disadvantages in a land where misinformation about the faith and its adherents abounds. For instance, some Muslim women are discriminated against in the workplace while others are emotionally abused through insensitive remarks. Yet, drawing on inner strength and resolve, Muslim women take these incidents in stride. Their love for God and commitment to modesty empower them in the face of challenges.

Indeed, Muslim women identify themselves with Mary who is commemorated for her piety and modesty. Aminah Assilmi, who converted to Islam in 1977, was once asked about going out in public without her hijab and she responded, “I cannot help but wonder if they would have ordered Mary, the mother of Jesus, to uncover her hair.”

“By focusing on what God wants from me, and thinks of me, I am no longer a prisoner of other people’s desires,” declared Baig. “Knowing that I am doing what God, my Creator, has ordained for me gives me a contentment and happiness like no other.”

Despite all the odds, Muslim women in hijab have managed to carve a niche for themselves while upholding their Islamic identities. They actively participate in their surroundings, be it as homemakers or professionals, on the sports field or in the artistic arena, in public service or in charitable activities. Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith.

Cover…Mutual Modesty

More than a dress code, the hijab encompasses modest behaviors, manners and speech. The inner humility as exhibited through etiquettes and morals completes the significance of the physical veil. However, contrary to popular belief, these characteristics are not limited to women alone.

God also commands men to maintain their modesty in the Qur’an:

Tell believing men to lower their glances and guard their private parts: that is purer for them. God is well aware of everything they do. (An-Nur 24:30)

In Islam, the responsibility falls on each gender to protect their own modesty and to control their own desires. Whether a woman dresses modestly or not, it is the obligation of each man to guard his own chastity.

While many people may think that hijab is worn primarily to restrain men’s illicit desires, this is another misconception. Indeed, it is not women’s duty to regulate the behavior of men. Men are accountable for their own conduct; they are equally required to be modest and to handle themselves responsibly in every sphere of their lives.

In reality, Muslim women cover/wear the hijab to seek the pleasure of God and to uphold Islam’s code of modesty. The majority of women who cover consider it a constant reminder that they do not adorn their bodies for men:

“Hijab forces someone to look past the external and focus on the internal. How many women do we know that feel they have to sexualize themselves to gain attention; why don’t we see as many men wearing short bottoms and tighter tops? Because we have always given men a pass on their looks, demanding from them success and intellect instead,” reflected Baig.

“Women however, are valued for their looks, their beauty. We have entire industries built upon making a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough, or thin enough,” she added. “Hijab, on the other hand, takes one beyond the superficial. It elevates her in society by desexualizing her, and individuating her instead.”

Islam is a religion of moderation and balance; it does not expect women alone to uphold society’s morality and dignity.

Rather, Islam asks men and women to strive mutually to create a healthy social environment of practical values and morality. In short, the concept of modesty in Islam is holistic, and applies to both men and women. The ultimate goal is to please God and to maintain a wholesome and stable society:

…In God’s eyes, the most honored of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

Islam clearly establishes that men and women are equal in front of God. At the same time, it does recognize that they are not identical. God created men and women with unique physiological and psychological attributes. In Islam, these differences are embraced as vital components to a healthy family and community structure with each individual contributing their own distinctive talents to society.

Hence, God’s rules apply to both genders, but in diverse ways. For example, men are also required to cover parts of their body out of modesty, but not in the same way as women. Similarly, men are prohibited from wearing silk clothing and gold ornaments whereas women have no such restrictions. Therefore, God has ordained different commands for men and women while encouraging both to be modest.

As more and more Muslim women embrace hijab, they renew their commitment to God through their appearance as they continue their lifelong spiritual journey. Unfortunately, such women often seem mysterious to those not acquainted with the religious significance of hijab.

Understanding the beliefs and lifestyle choices of Muslims, and the emphasis Islam places on modesty, eliminates the stereotypes associated with hijab. People of many different faiths and beliefs make up this patchwork world of ours. Muslims are an integral part of this diversity. It’s time we overcome our fears and bridge our distances. So, the next time you see a Muslim, stop and chat with them – and decide for yourself!

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Source: whyislam.org

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What Are the First Steps a New Muslim Should Take?

What Are the First Steps a New Muslim Should Take?

Embracing Islam and coming back to the true religion of Allah (Exalted be He) is truly a blessing. Becoming a Muslim is not just an ideological change but a lifetime change. One who accepts Islam is said to have all their past sins erased.

What should a new Muslim’s first steps be right after accepting Islam? How should he deal with their new life as Muslim?

Sheikh Abdullah Hakim Quick, History Specialist, answers in the video below…



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Source: Faith IQ

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