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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

How to Acquire Knowledge of God?

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi 

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

How to Acquire Knowledge of God

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

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

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

Searching for Balanced Code of Life

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

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

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

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

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

Need for Guidance

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

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

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

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

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

Faith in the Unknown

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

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

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

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

The Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Women’s Prayer in Mosques: Allowed or Not?

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan 

Our religion is a perfect one that comprehensively covers our welfare and interests in this world and in the Hereafter, Islam came with good to all Muslims, whether male or female as Allah says:

Women’s Prayer in Mosques

One of the things by which Islam honors woman is allowing her to attend the mosques.

Whosoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily we shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do. (An-Nahl 16:97)

Islam takes an interest in women, conferring honor and respect upon them as long as they abide by its rulings and adorn themselves with its virtues.

Allowed

One of the things by which Islam honors woman is allowing her to attend the mosques to witness the congregational prayers and the assemblies for remembering Allah in order to win reward. However, at the same time the woman must do that with due decency and precautions that keep her away from any satanic seduction and preserve her dignity as well.

With Men’s Permission!

It is detestable to prevent women from going to the mosque if they ask permission. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah (women) from (going to) the mosques of Allah, but they should go while they are not perfumed.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

This is because performing the prescribed prayers in congregation has a great reward for both men and women: moreover, walking to the mosque has a great reward.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“If your women ask permission to go to the mosque at night, allow them.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Why?

The wisdom behind asking their husbands’ permission is that it is among the rights of men upon their women (wives) to stay at home. Thus, going to the mosque, in this case, is only permissible, and they art not to abandon what is obligatory for the sake of what is permissible. When the husband gives permission to his wife to go to the mosque, he then gives up his right (upon his wife to stay at home).

The Prophet said:

“ … yet their houses (women’s) are better for them (to perform prayer therein).” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) means that it is better for women to perform prayer in their houses to avoid any satanic temptation. The Prophet also said:

“… But they should go while they are not perfumed”

On this Condition

This means that women are allowed to go to the mosque (to perform prayer) on the condition that they should not be perfumed, lest they might tempt men with their perfume, thus diverting men’s eyes to them. The intended meaning here is that perfume is something that tempts men towards women. Joined to perfume (in prohibition) is what resembles it (with regard to temptation) like wearing attracting clothes, jewels and adornments.

Thereupon, if a woman perfumes herself or puts on attractive clothes, then she is prohibited to go to the mosque and must be forbidden from going out of her home. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever woman perfumes herself should not join us in the `Isha’ (Night) Prayer.” (Muslim)

Besides, if a woman went out to the mosque (for prayer), she should keep away from crowded gatherings of men, Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

Thus, those in authority must forbid mingling between men and women in marketplaces and  gathering of men. The responsibility for this is upon those in authority since mingling between men and women brings about a great affliction. This is according to the hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘After me I have not left any affliction more harmful to men than women.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Ibn Al-Qayyim added:

“Thus, those in authority must forbid women from going out adorned and beautified (in a seducing way). They must also forbid women from talking to men in streets and forbid men as well from doing the same.”

                                                                                                                                                                      To be continued

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.

 

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

The Definition of Sunnah

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Following the Prophet is a divine command.

Linguistically, Sunnah means a way or method that can have two states, either good or bad. It is derived from the word “Sanan”, which is Arabic for: a road or a path.

Sunnah in this sense is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Whosoever does a good Sunnah will get the reward for it and the reward of others who followed him in doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment. And whosoever does a bad Sunnah will have the punishment of doing it and the punishment of others who followed him in practicing it.”(Muslim)

However, the definition of Sunnah differs depending on the area of Shari`ah. For example, a scholar in the area of Usul al-Fiqh (Arabic for: fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence) will define Sunnah as “whatever the Prophet was reported to have said, did, or permitted others to do.”

As an example of what he said are the hadiths that deal with the different rulings in different contexts, such as his saying, “The reward of deeds depends on intentions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Examples of his actions include the acts of worship, such as the way to perform Prayer, pilgrimage, the etiquette of fasting, etc.

The third type of Sunnah was represented by the Prophet’s silence upon seeing the Companions doing or saying something; his silence in such case served as an approval. Such approval might also be expressed verbally.

An example of his permission is when the Companions had two different opinions during the battle of Bani Qurayzah regarding the Prophet’s command “Do not pray `Asr till you are at Bani Qurayzhah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Some of the Companions understood that the Prophet meant that they should delay Prayer till they reach the place. However, some Companions understood that the Prophet only wanted to urge them to hurry, and so they did pray `Asr on time – before reaching their destination. In neither case did the Prophet say anyone of them was wrong and he did not reject what they did.

Another example of the Prophet’s permission of an action is when Khalid ibn Al-Waleed ate a lizard that he himself refused to eat. Some of the Companions wondered and asked him, “Is it prohibited to eat it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “No, but it is not common where I live, and I don’t feel like eating it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The term Sunnah is also used to refer to a religious ruling that is based on a legal evidence whether from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sayings, or ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) by the Companions, such as the collection of the Qur’an in one book and unifying the reading of the Qur’an on one reading narration.

Opposed to Sunnah, there is bid`ah (innovation in religion) about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said clearly, “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous Caliphs after me.” and did not say follow my bid`ah, which should not be taken as the same as Sunnah. This can be shown by the definition used in fiqh where we say this is a sunni divorce (done in accordance with Sunnah) and that is a bid`i divorce (not according to Sunnah).

These differences in looking at Sunnah are dependent on the faculty of scholars, just like any area of science where definitions vary. In general, we can define the Sunnah as whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said or did to be way of life for us.

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This article has been taken with modifications from onislam.net.

 

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Tarawih Prayer: Its Meaning, Rulings and Manners

By Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan 

The Tarawih Prayer (Nightly Supererogatory Prayer during the month of Ramadan) is among what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has ordained for Muslims in Ramadan, and it is a stressed act of the Sunnah.

Trawih Prayer

It is more desirable to perform the Tarawih Prayer in congregation in the mosqueو

It is called ‘tarawih’ which means in Arabic ‘intervals of relaxation’, because Muslims used to take an interval of relaxation after every four rak`ahs  of the Tarawih Prayer as they used to prolong the prayer.

It is more desirable to perform the Tarawih Prayer in congregation in the mosque, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) led his Companions in performing the Tarawih Prayer for some nights then he stopped for fear that it might become a burden on Muslims.

`A’ishah  (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated:

“One night, Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) performed prayer in the mosque and some people followed him. The next night he also performed prayer and too many people gathered. On the third or the fourth night, more people gathered, but Allah’s Messenger did not come out to them. In the morning he said, ‘I saw what you were doing and nothing but the fear that it (i.e. the  prayer) might be enjoined on you, stopped me from comil1g to you.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

In the narration of Al-Bukhari the words “… and that happened in the month of Ramadan” were added. It is well-known that the Companions performed the Tarawih Prayer after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Muslim nation has accepted and followed this practice.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) says:

“Whoever stands (performing prayer) with the imam until he finishes prayer, (the reward for) performing prayer all the night will be recorded for him.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’I, and Ibn Majah)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also says:

“Whoever performs prayer during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping for Divine reward (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Thus, performing the Tarawih Prayer is stated (stressed) act of the Sunnah that a Muslim should not leave.”

How Many Rak`ahs?

Concerning the number of rak`ahs (units of prayer) performed in this prayer, nothing definite is narrated about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and hence Muslims are free to choose. Sheikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“A Muslim can perform twenty rak`ahs (in the Tarawih Prayer) according to the famous Hanbali and Shafi`i schools, thirty six rak`ahs with regard to the Maliki School, eleven rak`ahs  or thirteen. Thus, all is good and a Muslim can perform more or less rak`ahs according to the (long or short) time of his standing reciting the Qur’an.”

When `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) gathered Muslims to perform the Tarawih Prayer in congregation behind Ubay Ibn Ka`b, the later performed twenty rak`ahs. Some of the Companion used to perform more rak`ahs and other Companions performed less. So, there is no definite text related about the Prophet (peace be upon hgim) determining certain number of rak`ahs to be performed in the Tarawih Prayer.

Tranquility

Many imams of mosques perform the Tarawih Prayer without paying attention or feeling tranquil while bowing or prostrating. Feeling tranquil is an integral part of prayer and a Muslim must pay attention while standing before Allah (Exalted be He) and learn from the words of Allah (the Qur’an) while they are being recited.

Of course, a Muslim cannot feel this when performing prayer with detestable haste. It is more befitting to perform less rak`ahs in a state of tranquility and reciting the Qur’an for a long time than to perform twenty rak`ahs with detestable haste. This is because the essence of prayer is to turn one’s heart to Allah.

Verily, a few rak`ahs (with tranquility and reflection) can outweigh so many ones. Also, it is better to recite the Qur’an with measured recitation than reciting it with haste. It is allowable to be quick in reciting the Qur’an provided that no letter is neglected since it is prohibited to neglect a letter for the sake of quick recitation.

Pondering the Qur’an

However, it is good for an imam (in congregational prayer) to recite the Qur’an in a way that benefits those performing prayer behind him. Allah dispraises those who recite the Qur’an without understanding its meaning as Allah reveals:

And among them are unlettered ones who do not know the Scripture except in wishful thinking, but they are only assuming. (Al–Baqarah 2:78)

The verse refers to those people who recite (the Book) without understanding its meaning. Allah has revealed the Qur’an for Muslims to understand its meaning and carry out its rulings, not only to recite it.

Some imams of mosques do not perform the Tarawih Prayer as it should be performed, for they recite the Qur’an so hastily that they violate the sound reciting of the Qur’an.

Moreover, they do not feel tranquil while standing, bowing, or prostrating though feeling tranquil is an integral part of prayer.

Furthermore, they may perform only a few rak`ahs in (units of prayer). Thai is, those imams combine many detestable acts which are performing only a few rak`ahs, shortening the the time of prayer, and reciting the Qur’an in a bad way.

Thus, they perform worship heedlessly. They must fear Allah, establish their prayer well and not deprive themselves and those (performing prayer) behind them from performing the Tarawih Prayer according to the legal way.

We invoke Allah to guide all Muslims to success.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.

 

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.

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Acts of Worship New Muslims

What Are the Conditions and Obligatory Acts of Wudu?

What Are the Conditions and Obligatory Acts of Wudu?

Allah, Exalted be He, says:

O you who haw have believed, when you rise to (perform) prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles… (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

This verse states that performing ablution whenever rising to prayer is obligatory, and tells us which organs should be washed and those which should be wiped during wudu, and specifies what part of them should be washed or wiped.

What Are the Conditions and Obligatory Acts of Wudu

The elbows are included when washing the arms during ablution.

Then, the Prophet (peace be upon him), through his hadiths (sayings) and practices has dearly shown the way ablution is to be performed.

Every Muslim should know that wudu has certain conditions, obligatory acts, and practices of the Sunnah to be observed while performing it. Both conditions and obligatory acts must be fulfilled as much as possible in order to ensure the validity of ablution.

As for the acts of the Sunnah related to ablution, they are considered complementary practices that guarantee the perfection of wudu. Observing these acts of the Sunnah, during ablution in increases ones reward, yet abandoning them does not affect the validity of ablution.

The Conditions of Ablution

There are eight conditions of ablution:

1- Being a Muslim

2- Being mentally sound

3- Having discretion

4- Having the intention of performing wudu

According to the aforementioned four conditions, ablution is invalid if performed by a disbeliever, an insane person, a young child who does not distinguish (between right and wrong), or one who does not have the intention of ablution (upon performing it), such as performing it as a way of refreshment in a hot weather, or as a means of cleaning one’s body organs or removing certain impurities or the like.

5- Using pure water: Water used for performing ablution must be pure, so impure water is inadequate for performing ablution.

6- Using legally-obtained water: If the water used for ablution is unlawfully acquired, or taken by force, ablution will not be valid.

7- Being preceded by istinja’ or istijmar (cleaning one’s stool and urine exits following defecation or urination,) when necessary.

8- Removing what may prevent water from reaching skin of the ablution organs: That is the one performing ablution ha, to remove anything covering the organ of ablution, such as mud, dough, wax, accumulated dirt, thick paint, etc., in order to allow water to reach the skin of the organ directly without hindrance.

The Obligatory Acts of Ablution

There are six obligatory acts related to the organs of ablution:

1 -Washing the whole face

Washing the whole face involves rinsing the mouth and the nose with water. Accordingly, one’s ablution is void if one washes one’s face without rinsing ‘both’ the mouth and the nose with water. This is because the mouth and the nose belong to the face, and Allah says. (regarding ablution): “Wash your faces.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

Thus, Allah commands washing the whole face during ablution. So whoever disregards washing any part of the face is considered to be disobedient to the Command of Allah.

Moreover, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to rinse his mouth and nose with water while performing wudu.

2-Washing the forearms including the elbows

Allah says “….. And your forearms to the elbows…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6), i.e. washing them including the elbows, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to do according to a hadith narrated in this regard. It is also slated in another hadith that the Prophet “…washed his hands (during ablution) until he reached the upper arms”. This indicates that the elbows are included when washing the arms during ablution.

3-Wiping over the whole head

Wiping over the head includes the ears, for Allah says “…And wipe over your heads…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) Moreover, the Prophet said “The ears are treated as part of the head” (Ibn Majah)

Therefore, it is incorrect to abandon wiping over the ears, for it is insufficient to wipe over one part of the head and neglect another during ablution.

4- Washing the feet including the ankles

During ablution the feet must be washed including the ankles, for Allah, Exalted be He, says: “…and wash your feet to the ankles…” (Al-Ma’idah 5:6) Here, the preposition “to” means ‘with’ according to the hadiths pointing out how ablution is performed, and through which it is stated that the whole feet must be washed ‘including’ the ankles.

5- Sequence

The decreed sequence has to be observed while performing wudu. To clarify, one begins with washing the face, followed by the hands, then wipes over the head, and finally washes the feet, as clearly shown in the verse Allah says:

O you who have believed, when you rise to (perform) prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles· (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to follow that order while performing ablution, saying:

“This is an ablution without which Allah does not accept any prayer·” (Abu Dawud)

6- Succession

This means to wash the organs successively without any interval between washing the organs, i.e. the organs must be washed successively without pause as much as possible.

These are the obligatory acts of wudu that must fulfilled as commanded by Allah in His Book, the Qur’an.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “A Summary of Islamic Jurisprudence”.

 

Dr. Salih Al-Fawzan is a Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence, Member of the Board of Senior Ulema & Member of the Permanent Committee for Fatwa and Research.

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