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Acts of Worship New Muslims

New Muslims & Ramadan’s Last Precious Ten Days

By Amal Stapley

The last ten days of Ramadan are here. How do you find yourself, your heart and worship so far? How’s Ramadan going for you?”

It’s the perennial question on everybody’s lips at this time of Ramadan, and how are you answering it?

Insha’Allah you’re able to say that it’s going well for you and you’re achieving your targets and gaining the benefit from this blessed month. But don’t worry if you can’t say that fully yet, as the best has been saved for last!

We’re now on the final run down to `Eid, having passed through the ten days of asking for mercy and the ten days of asking for forgiveness, and now we’re into the ten days of asking for protection from the Fire. These last ten days are the most precious days of the most precious month.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) “would strive (to do acts of worship) during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time”. (Muslim)

So this is the time to follow his beautiful example and really start to focus on your `ibadah (worship). So how can you, as a new Muslim, do that?

Be Generous in Thoughts…

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was the most generous of all people in doing good, and he was at his most generous during the month of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This is the time to be generous in both your thoughts and your deeds.

It’s very easy as a new Muslim to be critical of other people, especially about other Muslim’s practice of Islam. Sometimes we get so carried away with our own striving to please Allah that we forget that Islam for others isn’t something new and exciting. It’s something they have been living with all their lives; they may not have sought knowledge as enthusiastically as you have been doing or they may be experiencing an iman dip.

So instead of criticizing other Muslims, who find it difficult to practice Islam as well as you’d like them to, try to understand them and then try to gently encourage them. The same goes for non-Muslims. Remember back to your pre-Islamic days and how you justified your behavior? Be generous in your thoughts of others and instead of criticizing, find an excuse and also ask Allah to guide them.

“…and there is no one who loves to accept an excuse more than Allah, and because of this He sent the bringers of good news and the warners…” (Al-Bukhari)

… and Deeds

Also strive to be generous in your deeds. Look out for any opportunities to do a good turn for your family, neighbors and friends. Use your initiative and show them the best face of Islam that you can. You could even invite them to join you in iftar (breaking fast) or just take some food round to them.

This is also a great time for giving extra in charity, as its reward is increased. Many people choose this time to give their zakat al-mal (obligatory charity on wealth) away to cleanse their wealth and to get the extra benefit. If you don’t personally know someone from the eight categories who is deserving of zakah, look out for charities that support people in your local area or country, and if there is no-one locally in need, seek out those in other countries in need. Many charities have special Ramadan drives to take advantage of this generous time, so choose the most reliable trustworthy ones, as far as you can.

The last ten days of Ramadan is a great time to clear out your cupboards. I make it an annual habit to go through mine and give away all my unwanted and unused items or send them to be recycled. If you have items in the back of your cupboards that you have no use for and that others might benefit from, give them away or find a local charity or charity shop to give them to. If you have clothes that you haven’t worn for a year, especially your old pre-Islamic ones, do you really need to keep them? And don’t just give away the tatty ones; give the good stuff away too:

Never will you attain the good (reward) until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. (Aal `Imran 3:92)

I`tikaf or Qiyam

One of the best ways of really focusing on your worship is to spend the last 10 days of Ramadan in the mosque; cutting out all worldly cares and just concentrating on getting closer to Allah. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about the religion from good practicing Muslims and many mosques hold extra talks and classes at this time. If you’ve been able to plan for this and make arrangements to do this, do make the most of it, and do lots of du`aa’ that the rest of us will be able to do it next year with you!

If you can’t spend all the last ten days in the mosque, try to spend some time at least, even if it’s only over the weekend or maybe at night between Maghrib and Fajr. As long as you make your intention for i`tikaf (retreat in the mosque), your reward will be in accordance with the amount of time you spend there. The same applies to sisters too. If your local mosque has provision for sisters, follow in the steps of the Prophet’s wives and spend some time in i`tikaf too.

If you really can’t get to a mosque, make sure that you increase your efforts to worship at night either at home or with other new (or not-so-new) Muslims in your area. You could maybe organize Qiyam (Night Worship) gatherings, so those who live with their non-Muslim families can come and worship in a relaxed Islamic atmosphere.

Wherever you spend your time, find a quiet place where you can bury yourself in worship of your Creator, away from the internet, TV and family worries. If you have slipped in any of your targets of reading the Qur’an in your language or in Arabic, or memorizing Qur’an or new du’a`, this is the perfect time to catch up. You can get out your du’a` list and use this time to supplicate for everything you want Allah to help you or others with; especially for Him to guide your family to Islam. And you can read inspiring books and articles and make pledges about the changes you’re going to make in your life. And just take time out to contemplate on Allah’s blessings and mercy.

Last Precious Ten Days & Laylat Al-Qadr

“Look for Laylat-Al-Qadr (The Night of Power) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, on the night when nine or seven or five nights remain out of the last ten nights of Ramadan.” (Al-Bukhari)

This is the most precious night of the precious days of the precious month. Whatever you do, make plans to spend the odd nights of the last ten (i.e. the night before the odd day, as Islamic days start from Maghrib) in deep worship, either in the mosque, with friends or at home. Set aside all other plans so you can get the reward of this night, which is worth that of a thousand months. Imagine one night’s worship being equivalent to worshipping consistently for 83 years and 4 months! How can you afford to miss it?

This is a great night to ask Allah to keep you on the path He has guided you to, to ask Him to strengthen your faith and your wisdom, and to ask Him to help you find the path by which you can best serve Him and His Ummah. And while you’re there, add this du`aa’ as well:

`A’ishah (may God be pleased with her) said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if I knew which night Laylat-Al-Qadr was, what should I say in it?”

He said

“Say: Allahumma innaka ‘affuwwun tuhibbul `afwa fa`fu `annee (O Allah! You are the One who pardons greatly, and loves to pardon, so pardon me).”

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Source: onislam.net.

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The Prophet’s Tahajjud Prayer

How did Prophet Muhammad perform the Tahajjud (late night) prayer? How did he praise Allah? What du`aa’ did he say?

It is the middle of the night, or maybe a little before that time or a little thereafter. The Prophet wakes up. He sits in bed and wipes the sleep from his eyes. He picks up his tooth stick and brushes his teeth. He then turns his gaze to the heavens and avails himself of the peace and quiet at night to meditate on Allah’s greatness and how it manifests itself in the majesty of His creation. He recites a ten-verse passage from Surat Aal `Imran which begins with words:

Verily in the creation of the heavens and Earth, and in the alternation of night and day are signs for those who understand. (Aal `Imran 3:190)

He stands up and takes a water skin down from where it hangs on the wall. He opens it and pours out some water into a large cup. He uses this to perform ablution for prayer. He does not use much water for his ablution, though he completes them thoroughly.

Before he commences with the late night prayer (Tahajjud), he sometimes engages in the glorification of his Lord with the recitation of a number of remembrances. This prepares his mind for prayer. `A’ishah gives us an account of the things he says:

“When Allah’s Messenger got up at night to pray the Tahajjud, he used to extol Allah’s greatness ten times then praise him ten times. Then, he would say the words “Glory and praise be to Allah” ten times. Then, he would say “Glory be to the Holy King” ten times. Then, he would ask Allah for forgiveness ten times. Then, he would say “There is no God but Allah” ten times. He would conclude by saying:

“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from the tribulations of this worldly life and the tribulations of the Day of Resurrection.”

Then, he would commence his prayer.

He begins by offering two brief units of prayer. The prayer will become much longer. Though he prays quickly when he leads others in prayer, he is just the opposite when he prays alone. He prolongs every action in the Tahajjud prayer, form the opening recitations, to the recitation of the Qur’an, to the supplications. Tahajjud is the longest prayer he makes. He is following Allah’s specific command to him in the Qur’an:

Stand in prayer the night long, except for a little. (Al- Muzzammil 73:2)

If we consider the Prophet’s state of mind, we realize that he is totally immersed in prayer while offering Tahajjud. His every thought and feeling are engaged and his communion with his Lord is total. It is as if his spirit has ascended to heaven and is being bathed in divine light while looking upon the throne of his Lord. It is as if he is having a private audience with Allah, so he extols His praises in the most emphatic way and beseeches Him with the most perfect supplications. This is not surprising, since the Prophet really had such an experience on the night of his ascension above the seven heavens, where he was brought to a level where could hear the scraping of the pens as they wrote out the decrees.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) has greater knowledge of Allah and stronger faith than anyone else in creation. His faith is certain. He admits this to his Companions: “The most God-fearing and knowledgeable about Allah among you is none other than myself.” (Al-Bukhari)

He commences the Tahajjud prayer with a heart full of reverence, love and longing for his Lord. His words are full of invocations of awe and praise. Among the words he uses to commence his prayers are the following:

“O Allah! Lord of Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, Creator of the heavens and earth, Knower of the seen and unseen, You will judge between Your servants in what they used to differ. Guide me by Your Grace to the truth in what they differ about. Indeed, You guide whomever You please to a path that is straight.”

“O Allah! Our Lord, Yours is the praise. You are the light of the heavens and earth and all that they contain. Yours is the praise. You sustain the heavens and earth and all that they contain. You are the King of the heavens and earth and all they contain. Yours is the praise. You are the Truth. Your Promise is true. The meeting with You is true. Your Word is true. Paradise is true. Hell is true. The Prophets are true. Muhammad is true. The Final Hour is true. O Allah, to You I have submitted and in You I have believed, and upon You I rely. I repent my sins to You. For Your Sake I dispute and by Your Standards I judge, so forgive me for what I have done before and what I have left behind, for what I have committed secretly and what I have committed openly and what only You know that I have done. You are the One Who sends forth and You are the One Who delays. There is no God but You. There is no might or power except with You.”

“I turn my face to the Creator of the heavens and earth upon the pure faith, and I am not from among the polytheists. Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my life, and my death are for Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, Who is without partner. This is as I was commanded, and I am of those who submit. O Allah! You are the King. There is no God but You. You are my Lord and I am Your servant. I have been unjust to myself and I confess my sins, so forgive me all of my sins, for indeed no one forgives sins but You. Guide me to the best conduct. No one guides to what is best except You. Keep me away from bad conduct, for no one can do this for me except You. Here I am. I heed Your Call, happy to serve You. All good is in Your Hands and no evil belongs to You. I exist by Your Will and shall return to You. You are Blessed and Sublime. I seek Your Forgiveness and repent unto You.”

 The Qur’an & the Tahajjud

Then, the Prophet begins to recite the Qur’an. He recites in a slow and melodious voice and is attentive to every word. When he recites a verse that speaks about Allah’s Mercy, he beseeches Allah. When he recites a verse that warns of Allah’s Wrath, he seeks refuge from it. When a verse of the Qur’an speaks of Allah’s Glory, he glorifies Allah.

He stands for a long time in recitation. Ibn Mas`ud tells us: “I prayed with Allah’s Messenger one night, and he stood for so long that I almost resolved to do a very bad thing.” When asked what that bad thing was, he says: “I considered sitting down and not continuing with the Prophet in prayer.”

Sometimes the Prophet prolongs his recitation and offers a few very long units of prayer. On other nights, he stands in recitation for a shorter time and offers more units of prayer.

When he bows, he remains bowing for a long time, almost as long as the time he spends standing in recitation. He says:

“O Allah! I bow to You. In You I believe, to You I submit, and upon You I rely. You are my Lord. My hearing, my sight, my flesh, my blood, my mind, my bones, my sinew, and what my feet bear up, all of them submit in humility to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds. Glory be to the Possessor of Might, Pride, and Greatness, the Glorified and Holy, the Lord of the angels and of the Holy Spirit.”

Near the end of his life, he will often say while bowing and prostrating:

“Glory and praise be to Allah, our Lord. O Allah, forgive me.”

`A’ishah asked him about this, and he said: “My Lord has told me that I will see a sign in my community, and if I see that sign I should start saying: “Glory and praise be to Allah. I seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent to Him.” I have seen this sign (which is found in the following verses of the Qur’an):

When the help of Allah and the victory come, and you see the people entering into Islam in droves, then glorify the praises of your Lord and seek His forgiveness. Verily, He is ever ready to accept repentance. (An-Nasr 110:1-3)

The Prophet understands from this verse that the end of his life is near.

The Prophet prolongs his prostration in Tahajjud. He spends almost as much time prostrating as he in his bowing. It is here that he asks of Allah’s Grace and beseeches Him in many ways. The Prophet tells us:

“The nearest we are to our Lord is when we are in prostration, so beseech Him often at that time.”  (Muslim)

He also says while in prostration:

“O Allah, to You I prostrate myself and in You I believe. To You I have submitted. My face is prostrated to the One who created it, fashioned it, and gave it the faculties of hearing and sight. Blessed is Allah, the Best of Creators. O Allah! Forgive me all my sins, great and small, the first and the last of them, those that are apparent and those that are hidden. O Allah! I seek refuge in Your Pleasure from Your Anger, and in Your Forgiveness from Your Punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot count Your Praises. You are as You have praised Yourself.”

This is how the Prophet relates to his Lord in the depths of the night, in communion filled with worship, exaltation, reverence and submission. His spirit is raised up to great heights from his devotion and longing for his Lord. It is as if the world with all its vast mountains and starry skies recedes and regards him from a distance, bearing witness to his compliance with Allah’s command:

“Remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to Him with full devotion. (Al- Muzzammil 73:8)

The Prophet remains in worship throughout the night, reciting the Qur’an with reverence, beseeching his Lord in humility and praising Allah’s holy name, until only one-sixth of the night remains. At this time, he pauses from his Tahajjud prayers and wakes up his wife so they can offer the Witr Prayer together. He performs the Witr Prayer as three consecutive units. In the first, he recites Surat Al-A`la (87th chapter of the Qur’an). In the second, he recites Al-Kafirun (the 109th). In the last, he recites Al-Ikhlas (the 112th). Sometimes, in the final unit of prayer, he also recites Surat Al-Falaq and Al-Nas (the 113th and 114th chapters of the Qur’an).

At the end of the Witr Prayer, he says:

“O Allah! I seek refuge in Your Pleasure from Your Anger, and in Your Forgiveness from Your Punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot count Your Praises. You are as You have praised Yourself.”

After completing the Witr Prayer, he says three times: “Glory be to the Holy King.” He holds the words longer on the final repetition.

The Prophet prays Tahajjud in his small one-room house that is free from luxuries and worldly effects. Sometimes he has a mat to pray on that is just big enough to accommodate him in prostration. At other times, he only has the bedding that he shares with his wife. He prays while she lies sleeping in front of him. There are no lamps in his house, so when he wants to prostrate in prayer, he makes a gentle indication to her so she can move her feet out of his way. When he stand up again, she stretches her legs back out.

On rare occasions, he goes to the mosque to pray Tahajjud. He does so when there are extenuating circumstances, like when his wife is in extra need of rest and he wants to avoid disturbing her. On one occasion, `A’ishah realizes he is not in the house, and she reaches out of the door leading into the mosque and finds his foot. He is engaged in worship there and saying:

“O Allah! I seek refuge in Your Pleasure from Your Anger, and in Your Forgiveness from Your Punishment. I seek refuge with You from You. I cannot count Your Praises. You are as You have praised Yourself.”

On another occasion, she finds him missing and fears he may be at the home of one of his other wives. She goes out searching for him and returns to find that he is deeply involved in prayer. She says to herself: “By my father and mother, O Messenger of Allah, my mind is on one thing and yours is on something else entirely.”

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The text is written by Sheikh Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Turayri

Source: islamtoday.net

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Ramadan: Reshape Your Life with the Qur’an

The month of Ramadan is a time when we, despite the struggle, keep ourselves away from that which is otherwise permissible and a necessity in our life. For the past eleven months, at some level we have given preference to our physical self, in terms of nourishment, than our soul. We’ve done things we shouldn’t have, we’ve probably neglected some duties towards Allah (Exalted is He) that we shouldn’t have. Maybe we haven’t been reciting much of the Qur’an or maybe we’ve been neglecting some of the prayers.

This month is a time when Allah commands us to limit our physical nourishment and instead focus on the spiritual – in order to give life to our hearts and fix and improve our spiritual state. This is the time to rise up and acknowledge our deficiencies during the past months and resolve to move ahead with the aim to improve our relationship with Allah, with His Book, and with His Messenger (peace be upon him).

Ramadan, as an institution, is designed as a whole to bring our hearts back to life, thus allowing the light of taqwa (God-consciousness) to illuminate itself within us. The fasting during the day reminds us that our purpose in life isn’t merely to satisfy the desires of our self (nafs) and this reminder leads us to focus instead on feeding our soul. We are taught during the day to empty our hearts from the desires of our nafs so that at night we can fill it up instead with the light of the Qur’an.

Therefore, we find the next logical step is the Taraweeh (the night prayer offered in Ramadan) where we stand after a long day listening to the Qur’an being recited in prayer in order to give our soul its much required nourishment. As we get in tune with this during the early phases of the month and our hearts are revived and rejuvenated, the bar is raised and during the final ten nights we stand even longer and even later in prayer in the Tahajjud (late night prayer) seeking the rewards of the Laylat Al-Qadr, reciting Qur’an and engaging in `ibadah (worship) so as to fill our hearts with the sweetness of worship.

Allah says:

The month of Ramadan (is that) in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion… (Al-Baqarah 2:185)

The interesting thing to note about this ayah (verse) here is that Allah at the mention of Ramadan didn’t talk about fasting first. When we think about Ramadan, what comes to our mind immediately? Usually, our first thought is fasting right? But we find that Allah instead couples Ramadan firstly with the Qur’an as if to say that Ramadan’s first and foremost role in our lives should be to increase our relationship with the Qur’an and only then does He follow it with the command to fast in the month.

The goal of fasting is taqwa, but what actually allows us to establish taqwa in our lives if not the Qur’an? So the logical step for us is that we need to try and prepare ourselves towards establishing a relationship with the Book of Allah. As mentioned earlier, fasting trains us to empty our hearts from desires and aspires towards a loftier goal and that goal can only be achieved with the soul food that the Qur’an provides.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

And We made firm their hearts when they stood up and said, “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never will we invoke besides Him any deity. We would have certainly spoken, then, an excessive transgression. (Al-Kahf 18:14)

This verse is talking about the story of the Youth of the Cave when they stood up and said to the people in their vicinity that they only worshipped Allah. They were able to do that only because Allah strengthened their hearts. However, the interesting thing to notice here is that they made the first move to get closer to Allah – Allah only strengthened their hearts when they stood up. Meaning, they had to commit to following the truth and when this commitment was proven by their action, Allah made their efforts easy for them.

Likewise, in Ramadan, we need to make sure to put in the effort to establish that bond with the Qur’an. Once we start making the effort, Allah will make it easier for us and we will start tasting the sweetness of servitude. We need to go into this month not just with the intention of improving ourselves, but with actual preparation by increasing in good so that our good actions are a reason by which Allah gives us the ability to come out of Ramadan improved and forgiven. As the Messenger told us, ”Whoever fasts Ramadan out of iman (faith) and seeking Allah’s reward then his past and future sins are forgiven.” (Ahmad)

Let’s try and set some goals for ourselves with regards to the Qur’an. If we don’t know how to read it correctly, let’s try to learn. If we don’t recite it often, let us take the time out every day to recite. If we are already reciting, then we can try and add some more or increase the frequency. If we listen to music in our iPods, in our cars and on the way to school or work, then let’s empty our hearts and devices from music and instead try and fill it up with the Qur’an for this month.

Let’s begin to reflect upon the guidance in the Qur’an and try to internalize the lessons therein. Let’s aim to set a powerful foundation for the Qur’an in our lives by which we can establish routines that will allows us to begin a functional relationship with the Qur’an in Ramadan and continue it thereafter so that once the devils are let out, we have a solid defense mechanism, taqwa, within our hearts to help us.

After all, this is the month of the Qur’an and that necessitates that we give special attention to this Book during the month. Our aim should be to build this relationship, not just for the 30 days of Ramadan but rather setting a strong, deep, unshakeable foundation for a relationship that will flourish for the next eleven months.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Ramadan: Feel the Beauties

By M. Fethullah Gulen

Like rain pouring on the earth, Ramadan comes with streams of meanings and emotions that water dried and thirsty hearts.

Like rain pouring on the earth, Ramadan comes with streams of meanings and emotions that water dried and thirsty hearts.

At this time when we experience occasions, of much sorrow and some contentment, we sense the promise in the advent of Ramadan, the month of mercy and forgiveness. In the climate of this month of light, we feel both spring and autumn at the same time in our inner worlds, seasons of lovely expectations and longing.

With their profound, spiritual breezes, every sound and breath of air in Ramadan announces in a most exalted and exhilarating style all the pleasures we would like to taste in life and the hopes of good we deeply cherish.

Coming like successive rays of light, the smiling days of Ramadan envelop us with the expectations, hopes and joys they carry from the worlds beyond, and present to us samples from Paradise.

When Ramadan begins, our inner life, its thoughts and feelings, are renewed and strengthened. Breezes of mercy, coming in different wavelengths, unite with our hopes and expectations, and penetrate our hearts. In the enchanting days and illumined nights of Ramadan, we feel as if all the obstacles blocking our way to Allah are removed and the hills on that way are leveled.

Like rain pouring on the earth, Ramadan comes with streams of meanings and emotions that water dried and thirsty hearts, making the inner worlds of people propitious for new meanings and conceptions. By means of the light of the days, hours and minutes of this blessed month, hearts attain such spiritual depth and become so purified that they never desire to leave its climate of peace.

As Ramadan approaches, we live the delight of anticipation and preparation for it. The food and drink that come into our kitchens in the days before Ramadan comes, put us in mind of it with a thrill of expectation. And then it comes at last, laden with mercy and forgiveness. As soon as it honors us, each of us finds himself in a spiral of light rising toward the heavens and advances toward the Unseen Existent One in a new spiritual mood in the night-time and in another, different spiritual mood in daytime. We open our eyes to each of its days with a different solemnity and self-possession and reach every evening in an enchanting, delightful serenity.

The pleasant nights of Ramadan receive warmest welcome from all souls. Eyes look more deeply in them and people feel deeper love for each other. Everyone desires to do good to everyone and passions and ill-feeling are subjugated to a certain extent. In Ramadan, everyone feels so much more attached to Allah and is so careful in his relations with others that it is impossible not to see this.

Believing souls taste the contentment of belief more deeply and experience the blessing of the good morals prescribed by Islam and the spiritual ease of doing well to others.

Moreover, they try to expand, to share, this contentment, blessing and ease with others. Since these souls at rest are convinced that one day will come when this life will end in an eternal happiness and whatever they suffer and sacrifice here for Allah’s sake will be returned with very great reward, they struggle against their animal appetites in a mood of doing an act of worship.

The meals they take at sunset to break the fast give them the pleasure of worship and are followed by early night prayer with the addition of the supererogatory service of worship particular to Ramadan. The meals they take before dawn to start fasting are united with supererogatory night prayer (Tahajjud) and become a dimension of their nearness to Allah.

Streets are filled with the people going to and returning from mosques, in which declarations of ‘Allah is the Greatest’ resound as in the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah. You would think that the streets are each a mosque and each mosque is Ka`bah. The people shaped by Ramadan in this way, though mortal in nature, gain a sort of eternity and each of their acts done in the consciousness of deliberate worship becomes a ceremony pertaining to the Hereafter.

Nights are experienced more deeply and in consideration of the afterlife, and days are spent as portions of time dominated by resolution and strong will-power. Those fasting for Allah’s sake feel a thrill of joy, and spend every and each day in the excitement of a new re-union. They reach every morning in an indescribable feeling as if they were called to a new testing. You can discern on their faces a sign of humility mixed with solemnity, a feeling of nothingness before Allah together with serenity and seriousness and melancholy combined with a feeling of security. Their every act reflects spiritual peace and exhilaration coming from adherence to Allah’s will and confidence in Him, and sincerity and kindness acquired by being cleansed in the cascades of the Qur’an. As if created from light and consisting in only their shadows, they are very careful to give no one any harm or trouble. Respect and courtesy are so much a part of their nature that, even after a day of thirst and hunger and resisting their carnal desires, they remain gentle and pure-hearted. They display a mood shaped by fear and reverence, discipline and contentment, solemnity and politeness. They are respectful and reverent toward the Almighty and well-mannered and sincere toward one another.

Their faces and eyes reflect different degrees and dimensions of depth of spiritual realms and are radiant with the lights of the unseen world. Though each individual may have been shaped by a different climate and different ideas, all of them, including the intelligent and pure-hearted, those used to a disciplined, careful life and those a bit untidy and careless, the nervous and the calm, those very sensitive to problems of the age and those a little unfeeling, the rich and the poor, the happy and sorrowful, the healthy and the ill, the white and black, share almost the same feelings in Ramadan.

They reach the night and morning together, listen to the call to prayers and perform the prayers together, take the meals before dawn and break their fasts together. They feel together one of the two instances of rejoicing promised for those who fast. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There are two instances of rejoicing for the person who fasts: one when he breaks his fast, the other when he will receive the reward of fasting in the Hereafter”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

All Muslims, whatever their nationality or country of origin or temperament or social status or physical state, come together and breathe the same ‘air’ in the climate of Ramadan. In it, their souls are shaped in a way particular to that climate, and they share a sort of deeply-felt happiness which can be experienced only by spirit beings. Ramadan has a fascinating effect on Muslims that leaves its positive imprints on even the souls of the poorest and most oppressed people.

Ramadan envelops us with many beauties: the pleasure in the supererogatory prayers performed after the prescribed night service; consciousness of the blessings of Ramadan; the light that pours on us both from the heaven and from the lights that decorate the mosques.

As if planned and commanded in order to kindle such feelings and thoughts in us, each element of the public rites in Ramadan causes the ‘strings’ of our heats to resonate: the calls made from minarets and the blessings called on the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the pronouncements of Divine Unity, Grandeur and Glory which resound in our ears, all prepare our souls for worship. They awake us to spiritual and celestial truths and enable even the crudest soul to perform its duties of worship in the way those duties are meant to be performed.

The voices rising from minarets meet with the voices of the inhabitants of the heavens and resound throughout the heavens and the earth. They penetrate our souls and take us through a climate of purest meanings and poetry, a realm of sweet imagination. In this pleasant atmosphere, we feel as if it is Ramadan which pours from the heavens, which is discerned on the faces of people and scents the air and is written in the lights of the mosques. Enchanted by this calm and peaceful atmosphere, we achieve a sort of infinitude and feel as if comprehending the whole of existence. Ramadan captivates particularly those open to eternity to such an extent that they experience nothing else than it.

I remember well that during my childhood when there was as yet no electricity in cities, people walked to mosques with kerosene lamps in the darkness of night. We imagined that Ramadan was walking around in the alleys in the lights of those lamps. Under the influence of poetry, meaning and deep spirituality which Ramadan poured into our souls, we desired that it should never come to an end. Nevertheless, despite our heartfelt desire, it flew away and the festive day followed it with all its pomp.

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Source: fountainmagazine.com.

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Self-development between Purity of Heart & Worldly Conduct

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Even though spiritual purification is important seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Islam is a way of life that teaches Muslims to focus on bettering themselves by following the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and the teachings of the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Prophet Muhammad once said, “Truly I was sent as a Prophet for the purpose of perfecting human character.” (Ahmad) This prophetic tradition defines a very important aspect of Islam: self-improvement through spiritual and physical purity.

An old Arab proverb aptly states: “The one who lacks something cannot give it to others.” This saying establishes the fact that in order for one to spread “good” in terms of his or her character, manners, words or actions, he or she must first strive to possess it. One should not neglect to improve one’s own faults even as they attempt to assist others.

Of course, this does not mean that one has to be perfect in order to be of benefit to others; for instance, some people think that they cannot spread knowledge because they are not scholars. Instead, this adage goes hand in hand with the English saying, “Practice before you preach.” As Prophet Muhammad said, “Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.”

In Islam, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to seek self-improvement in regards to every aspect of their lives. As a result, one’s good character will impact others and therefore improve society as a whole. This dynamic change all begins at the individual level. In this regard, God says:

Truly God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Ar-Ra`d 13:11)

Pure Intentions

Before an individual consciously embarks on this journey, he or she must define and cleanse their intention. A pivotal teaching of Islam is derived from the prophetic statement, “All actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”

Hence, a desire to genuinely improve oneself, please God, and provide benefit is paramount. On the other hand, having impure intentions such as seeking the admiration of other people or showing off is counterproductive. For these reasons, purifying one’s intentions is critical to the success of one’s pursuit of self-development.

Cleansing of the heart is also a large component of self-improvement because it directly impacts one’s actions. God says in the Qur’an:

God did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of God, sanctifying them, and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. (Aal `Imran 3:164)

This verse demonstrates the role of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the importance of self-improvement in Islam. Prophet Muhammad taught the pagan Arabs of Makkah to believe in the One God and to live righteously; he implored them to renounce idolatry and their impulsive lifestyles. Over the course of 23 years, his message uplifted the status of women, brought God-consciousness among people, and safeguarded the poor and needy.

In doing so, not only did he help individuals to attain self-improvement, he rehabilitated an entire society: racial discrimination was practically eliminated, tribal warfare was replaced with united ties of brotherhood, usury and alcohol were completely forbidden.

Righteous Actions

Self-development begins at the individual level and requires a vast amount of discipline. Along with striving to become more physically pure by maintaining a healthy and clean body, it is equally important for an individual to maintain his or her spiritual health through righteous actions. Purification of the soul allow an individual to become closer to God and exhibit more positive behavior which will translate into his or her deeds.

In order to purify and enhance oneself, Islam outlines several pragmatic steps:

Core worship, such as prayer, fasting, supplication, etc. Performing these allows Muslims to draw closer to God by increasing the individual’s awareness of God throughout the day.

This will, in turn, decrease his or her likelihood to commit acts that would displease God, enabling people to raise their moral and ethical standards.

Smiling, being kind, and staying positive when interacting with others. This leads to mercifulness and forgiveness, which are attributes which God loves in human beings.

Prophetic traditions mention that smiling is an act of charity and removing obstacles from the road is a sign of faith; others encourage people to spread good news and exchange gifts as a way of increasing love between people.

Having self-discipline and managing one’s time so that the person is more productive throughout the day:

By (the token of) time (through the ages), verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)

Lending a helping hand to those in need. Once Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What actions are most excellent?” He answered: “To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”

Striving to increase one’s knowledge whether it be religious or academic. Working towards becoming an informed and proactive citizen.

According to Prophet Muhammad, “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

Maintaining good company and friends that will influence the individual in a positive manner.

Prophet Muhammad has stated, “It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.”

Performing sincere repentance for one’s sins and seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God. Feeling guilty for transgressions that one has made, and then making an active effort to learn from one’s mistakes and never repeat them again:

Your Lord has inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-An`am 6:54)

As you may have noticed, many of these steps involve interacting with others. Even though spiritual purification is important, it is critical to note that seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.

Prolonged seclusion for the purpose of spiritual purification is in fact inconsistent with Islamic teachings. A large component of self enhancement involves treating others with compassion and respect, and helping the less fortunate. This is not possible if one leads the life of a recluse.

One of the prophetic traditions encourages people to look at those less privileged when making worldly comparisons with others: “When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those who have been given less.”

This advice is very important because it enables us to be grateful for the blessings we have and be less greedy or miserly. Such an attitude allows one to remain focused on the quest of attaining self-improvement and eternal success in the hereafter rather than the transient materials of this temporary life.

The Virtues of Selfishness!

Self-improvement plays a significant role in the lives of Muslims also due to another key Islamic concept: that every individual will be held accountable for only him/her self in the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, God will question each soul on its actions, and how it spent time on earth. On that day, each person will solely be concerned about the magnitude of his or her deeds.

The importance of self-development cannot be overemphasized in Islam although it may seem like a selfish endeavor on the surface. However, such “selfishness” may actually be considered a virtue rather than a vice. When one is constantly struggling for self-improvement, he or she becomes more willing to help others and disperse the good that he or she has gained to society at large.

As a result, one person’s efforts contribute towards collective development. Such commitment is not possible in the individual who is self-absorbed for the sake of self-gratification. Therefore, “selfishness” for the purpose of self-improvement and the greater good is the first step to selflessness.

Indeed, the essence of all good deeds stems from a pure and tranquil soul.

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Source: whyislam.org.

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The Friends of Allah: Who and How?

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That is what worship is all about: your purification and elevation in iman (faith) and taqwa (piety).

Good Deeds Will Get You Closer to Allah

Allah says:

But had they done what they were exhorted to (do), it would have been better for them; and would have strengthened/stabilized their (faith). (An-Nisaa’ 4:66)

Narrated Abu Hurairah that Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah said: ‘Whoever harms a wali (a friend or a supporter) of mine I will declare war against him. And my servant has not drawn closer to me with anything more beloved to me than what I made obligatory on him (faridah). And he continues to draw closer to me with nawafil (the preferable non-obligatory deeds) until I love him; And when I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, and his sight with which he sees, and his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks, and if he asks Me, I will give him, and, if he seeks refuge in me, I will protect him and, I do not hesitate to do anything as I hesitate to take the soul of the believer for, he hates death and, I hate to sadden him’” (Al-Bukhari)

Why We Worship God?

In fact that is what worship is all about: your purification and elevation in iman (faith) and taqwa (piety), for Allah will not benefit from your worship. In a hadith qudsi (divine hadith) Allah said:

“O my servants! I have made unlawful oppression upon myself and I have made it unlawful between you. So do not oppress each other. O my servants! All of you are astray except the ones whom I have guided, so seek my guidance and I will guide you. O my servants! All of you are naked except those of you whom I have clothed, so seek clothing from me and I will clothe you. O my servants! All of you are hungry except those of you whom I have fed, seek food from me and I will feed you. O my servants! You make errors in the night and in the day and I forgive all sins. Seek forgiveness from me and I will forgive you. O my servants!

You will never be able to harm Me and you will never be able to benefit Me. O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you and the jinn from among you and the men from among you, were to fear Allah as the best among you, that would not increase in My Majesty/Mastership any. O my servants!

If the first of you and the last of you and the jinn among you and the men among you, were to perform the worst forms of crimes, that will not decrease from My Majesty/Mastership any. O my servants! If the first of you and the last of you, the jinn of you and the men of you, were to stand on one side and ask Me, I will give each one of you what you ask and still this will not decrease from My Majesty/Mastership; as if you dip a needle into the ocean.” (Muslim)

So when fasting was prescribed for you, it was to bring you closer (i.e., closer to Allah), Allah said:

O you who believe Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain piety. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

And when you make Hajj and slaughter the sacrifice it is that you may get closer to Allah. Allah said: It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah but, it is piety from you that reaches Him. Thus, have We made them subject to you that you may magnify Allah for His Guidance to you. And give glad tidings to the good doers. (Al-Hajj 22:37)

And when you give charity it is to get closer, Allah said:

Take alms from their wealth in order to purify them and sanctify them with it, and invoke Allah for them. Verily! Your invocations are a source of tranquility for them; and Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

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The article is an excerpt from the paper “Acts of Worship as a Means to Strengthen the Attachment between the Servant and his Lord” by Dr. Hatem Al-Haj which was prepared for a conference in Austin, Texas, 2002. It first appeared at drhatemalhaj.com.

 

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Islam: Guidance to the Straight Path

Description of the Straight Path

Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us.

Muslims plead to be guided to the straight path at least seventeen times a day while reciting Surat Al-Fatihah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) in the five daily prayers. How many of us have reflected on the nature of this guidance and the path that we are supposed to be upon?

“Guide us” (Ihdina)

In Arabic the word hidayah does not simply mean guidance, but it means to guide gently. The word “gift” (hadiyyah) in Arabic also comes from the same root letters as the word for guidance (hidayah). Religious guidance is the greatest gift that a person can possess. It is also something that we do not control or own, but rather it is bestowed upon us in an act of infinite mercy and grace of Allah (Exalted is He).

Notice how it is in the plural- not ‘guide me’ but “guide us”. This instills in us a sense of brotherhood by making this request on behalf of fellow Muslims, especially as we stand in prayer as a group.

Types of Hidayah Mentioned in the Qur’an

There are four types of hidayah mentioned in the Qur’an, according to (Ibn Al-Qayyim).

1- General hidayah that is given to all creation. This type of guidance and knowledge is given by Allah to all created things. By this guidance, animals, plants and even inanimate objects fulfill the purpose for which they were created. This also includes the general intellect, wits and inherent intuitive knowledge given to all responsible beings regardless of their faith. This is referred to in the following verse:

He said, “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and then guided (it)”. (Ta-Ha 20:50)

2- Hidayah that is in the form of explanation and education by way of defining the two paths of good and evil. It is when someone guides you by explaining that which is good and warns you from that which is evil according to Islam. This is the type of hidayah referred to in this verse::

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

3- Hidayah that is tawfiq (a specific type of divine guidance) and inspiration (ilham) from Allah to be guided to the truth of iman (faith), Islam (submission), etc. The following verses refer to this type.

…Thus does Allah leave astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. (Al-Muddaththir 74:31)

No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things. (At-Taghabun 64:11)

4- Hidayah that is in the next life, by which one shall be guided to Paradise.

And We will have removed whatever is within their breasts of resentment, (while) flowing beneath them are rivers. And they will say, “Praise to Allah, who has guided us to this”. (Al-A`raf 7:43)

Each one of the above types of hidayah has a sequential connection and relationship. Without the first level of guidance you will not have the capacity to attain the second and without the second you cannot attain the third and fourth levels.

We have absolutely no power to guide anyone using any of the above types of guidance except for the second type of hidayah that is explanation and education.  This type of guidance is what is referred to in the following verses.

And indeed, (O Muhammad), you guide to a straight path. (Ash-Shura 42:52)

You are only a warner, and for every people is a guide. (Ar-Ra`d 13:7)

The remaining types of guidance, particularly the third type which is tawfiq from Allah to have iman, are what are referred to in the following verse of the Qur’an, again addressing the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the (rightly) guided. (Al-Qasas 28:56)

In other words even the Prophets cannot guide whom they choose to become believers in the sense of actually putting faith in a person’s heart.  They can only guide in terms of explanation, exhortation, clarification and instruction regarding the truth.

The first lesson here is that we should seek guidance in every matter with Allah first and foremost before turning to others. Secondly, it should humble those of us who are inviting or ‘guiding’ others to Islam to acknowledge and internalize the fact that we have no real power over this matter, and that true guidance is the sole dominion of Allah, the ‘turner of the hearts’.

However, that should not make us despair of the work we do, for which our reward is with Allah. But rather it should increase our confidence in inviting others knowing that the result is not dependent on ‘my da`wah’ or speech, which is full of weakness and defects, but is in the hands of Allah Who can instantly change the hearts of the most wicked and tyrannical into the most pure and righteous.

The Ten Levels of Guidance

A Muslim may question why he or she has to ask for guidance at least seventeen times a day whilst they have already been guided to Islam. Scholars have explained that it is because firstly we ask for constancy (thabat) on guidance and secondly because there are so many levels and aspects of guidance that we are in need of in every detail of our daily life.

The following will help to clarify. For example, there are a further ten levels of guidance that need to be attained for one to be truly guided. (Ibn Al-Qayyim)

Therefore one should bear in mind when asking for guidance that one is asking Allah to:

1- Be granted guidance of knowledge and clarity, in order for one to know and reach the truth.

2- For the capacity to be guided

3- Make one desirous of guidance

4- Make one act upon the guidance

5- Make one remain steadfast on guidance

6- Remove all barriers and obstructions that impede guidance

7- Be granted a distinctive and detailed level of guidance on the path itself and its stations

8- Be granted sight of one’s ultimate goal along the path, to be alerted to it so that one can perceive it on the journey, catching sight of it without being blocked from seeing it.

9- Make one aware of one’s own destitution and desperate need for guidance (from Allah) over and above all other necessities.

10- Make one see the two misguided paths that veer off from the path of guidance; firstly the path of the people of wrath- those who intentionally, out of rebellion, turned away from following the truth; secondly the path of the people of misguidance- those who turned away out of ignorance and misguidance. One then sees the straight path upon which are all the Prophets and Messengers (peace be upon them) along with their followers from the truthful (siddiqeen), the martyrs and the righteous.

We are instructed by Allah to ask for guidance to the straight path (as-sirat al-mustaqim). What then is the nature of this path?

Description of the Straight Path

In the language of the Arabs a path (sirat) needs to possess five qualities for it to be called a sirat. The path needs to be:

1- Straight

2- Easy to travel upon

3- A familiar well-trodden path

4- Wide and spacious

5- Leading one to the desired destination

Since the path that we are asking guidance to is Islam itself, notice and reflect on how these qualities apply to Islam. Islam is straight in that it is a correct and firmly established way, pure and protected from any crookedness or deviation from the truth.  Allah describes those who want to block people on the path of Allah:

…Who averted (people) from the way of Allah and sought to make it (seem) deviant while they were, concerning the Hereafter, disbelievers. (Al-A`raf 7:45)

Islam is also easy as Allah has said:

Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you, (Al-Baqarah 2:185))

and as the Prophet said, “The deen (Islam/religion) is easy…” (Al-Bukhari).

Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity. There will be challenges, temptations and difficulties in living as a Muslim but they are things that we ultimately have the capacity to bear. Everything in Shari`ah (Islamic law) benefits us or wards off harm for us in this world and/or the next.

Islam, which is submission to the commands of Allah, is also a familiar and well-trodden path, the path of all the Prophets and their followers. As Allah says:

And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger – those will be with the ones upon whom Allah has bestowed favour of the prophets, the steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and the righteous. And excellent are those as companions. (An-Nisaa’ 4:69)

The final, universal revelation of Islam is wide and spacious and accommodates all, regardless of color, race or social status. It is us with our parochial attitudes that restrict the vastness of this path to our favorite ‘saved’ group, way of thinking, sheikh or a specific allegiance that excludes others that Islam hasn’t excluded.

Ibn Majah records that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I have left you on a (wide, spacious) clear (white) path, its night is like its day, whoever deviates from this after me will be destroyed….”

Indeed, the path of Islam leads to the desired destination, which is Allah’s Pleasure gained by obeying Him. Allah says:

So those who believe in Allah and hold fast to Him – He will admit them to mercy from Himself and bounty and guide them to Himself on a straight path. (An-Nisaa’ 4:175)

You will also notice that the word as-sirat (path) in the surah (chapter) has the definite article “Al”. The definite article is close to the meaning of ‘the’ which renders it ‘the straight path’ in English and has several possible meanings in Arabic. Here it is said that it denotes something definite which is in the mind as well as in reality.

For example, when students waiting for their teacher to arrive say ‘the teacher is late.’ The teacher they are referring to is known amongst them and in their minds they know exactly who they are referring to. In that sense, grammatically, ‘the teacher’ is a definite noun phrase and not an indefinite one. They would not say a teacher is late in this case.

Similarly, in this case, it is a specific and definite known path that we are seeking guidance to. It is the path that Allah has ordained for the people that He has favored, the path that leads to His Pleasure and His Paradise, which is in fact His deen (religion) – besides which nothing is acceptable to Him.

It is said that it is also the path that we intuitively know in the deepest core of our hearts that must exist because as human beings we were affirmed, when we were created, that Allah is our Rabb (Lord).

All praise is to Allah Who has gently guided us to the straight path, described to us with crystal clarity its features and guided us to pray for it every day of our lives.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com

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How to Offer the Funeral Prayer

funeral-prayer

The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

The prayer to God for the deceased Muslim is a common collective duty (Fard Kifayah). This means that some Muslims should offer this prayer, and when it is offered by some of the Muslims present at the time it is sufficient, and the other Muslims become exempt from responsibility.

– When a Muslim dies, the whole body – beginning with the exposed parts washed in ablution (wudu’ ) – must be washed a few times with soap or some other detergent or disinfectant, and cleaned of all visible impurities. A man washes a man and a woman washes a woman. A woman may wash her husband, and a man or woman may wash young children. During the washing, the washer’s hands should be covered by gloves or cloth, and the private parts of the dead body should be washed without being seen.

When the body is thoroughly clean, it is wrapped in one or more white cotton sheets covering all the parts of the body

– The dead body is then placed on a bier or in a coffin and carried to the place of prayer, a mosque or any other clean premises. The body is put in a position with the face toward the qiblah (direction of Makkah).

– All participants in the prayer must perform an ablution unless they are keeping an earlier one. The imam stands beside the body facing the qiblah at Mecca with the followers behind him in lines.

– The imam raises his hands to the ears declaring the intention in a low voice to pray to God for that particular deceased one, and saying Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest). The worshippers follow the imam’s lead and after him place their right hands over the left ones under the navel as in others prayers

– Then the imam recites in a low voice the “Du’ a Thana’” and Al-Fatihah (the 1st chapter of the Qur’an) only.

– Then he says Allahu Akbar without raising his hands and recites the second part of the Tashahhud:

Allaahumma salli ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa sallayta ‘ala Ibraheema wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed. Allaahumma baarik ‘ala Muhammadin wa ‘ala aali Muhammadin kamaa baarakta ‘ala Ibraheem wa ‘ala aali Ibraheem. Innaka hameedun majeed.” (O Allah, exalt Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You exalted Ibrahim (Abraham) and the family of Ibrahim. Verily You are full of praise and majesty. O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Verily, You are full of praise and majesty.)

– Then he makes the third takbir saying Allahu Akbar without raising the hands and offers a supplication (du`aa’ ) in any suitable words he knows, preferably these

O God! Grant forgiveness to our living and to our dead, and to those who are present and to those who are absent. And to our young and to our old folk, and to our males and to our females. O God! whomsoever You grant to live, from among us, help him to live in Islam, and whomsoever of us You cause to die, help him to die in faith. O God! Do not deprive us of the reward for patience on his loss, and do not make us subject to trial after him.”

– Then the fourth takbir (saying Allahu Akbar) without raising the hands is made followed by the concluding peace greetings right and left as in other prayers. It should be remembered that the worshippers behind in lines follow the lead of the Imam step by step and recite privately the same utterances in low voice.

– After completing the Prayer, the body is carried to the graveyard, there the body is lowered in the grave for burial with the face resting in the direction of Mecca. When lowering the body down these words are said:

“In the name of God and with God, and according to the Sunnah (Traditions) of the Messenger of God upon whom be the blessings and peace of God.”

– Besides these, any other fit prayers may be offered. If the deceased is a child under the age of puberty, the prayer is the same except that after the third Takbeer and instead of that long supplication the worshippers recite these words:

“O God! Make him (or her) our fore-runner, and make him for us a reward and a treasure, and make him for us a pleader, and accept his pleading.”

The whole funeral prayer is offered in the standing position.

Whenever a funeral procession passes by, be it of a Muslim or otherwise, every Muslim should stand out of respect for the dead.

The grave should be built and marked in a simple way. The dead body should be covered with white cotton sheets of standard material. Any extravagance in building the grave or dressing up the body in fine suits or the like is non-Islamic. It is false vanity and a waste of assets that can be used in many useful ways.

The custom of some Muslims of offering a big and costly banquet upon burial of the deceased is also non-Islamic and an irresponsible waste of money and effort that can be of infinite benefit If used otherwise.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s well-known book “Islam in Focus”.

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What Did the Prophet say about Congregational Prayer?

By Editorial Staff

The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged Muslims to attend the congregational prayer at the mosque, warning against staying away from it, and that it is fard kifayah (collective obligation).

Congregational Prayer

“The prayer in congregation is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.”

Superiority of Congregational Prayer

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The congregational prayer  is twenty seven times superior to the prayer offered by person alone.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The prayer of a man with another man is better than his praying alone, and the prayer of a man with two other men is better than his praying alone or with only one other man, and the more people there are, the more beloved it is to Allah.” (An-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud)

Also, it was narrated that Ma`dan ibn Abu Talhah Al-Ya`muri said:

Abud-Darda’ (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:

“If three men in a village or in the desert, make no arrangement for Salah (prayer) in congregation, Satan must have certainly overcome them. So observe prayer in congregation, for the wolf eats up a solitary sheep that stays far from the flock.” (Abu Dawud)

Anas bin Malik narrated that:

Allah’s Messenger said: “Whoever performs prayer for Allah for forty days in congregation, catching the first takbir, two absolutions are written for him: absolution from the Fire, and absolution from the Fire, and absolution from hypocrisy.” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Isha’ & Fajr

Uthman ibn `Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:

“Whoever attends `Isha’ (prayer) in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) stood half of the night. And whoever prays `Isha’ and Fajr in congregation, then he has (the reward as if he had) spent the entire night standing (in prayer).” (At-Tirmidhi)

`Uthman ibn `Affan reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying: “One who performs `Isha’ (Night) prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer for half of the night. And one who performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed prayer the whole night.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in congregational prayers) and found no other way to get that except by drawing lots they would draw lots. And if they knew the reward of the Zhuhr prayer (in the early moments of its stated time), they would race for it (go early). And if they knew the reward of `Isha’ and Fajr (morning) prayers in congregation, they would come to offer them even if they had to crawl.” (Al-Bukhari)

Congregational Prayer

“For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.”

More Virtuous

It was narrated that Ibn `Umar said:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “The prayer of a man in congregation is twenty-seven levels more virtuous than a man’s prayer on his own.” (Ibn Majah)

It was narrated that `Uthman ibn `Affan said:

“I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: “Whoever does wudu’ (ablution) properly, then walks to (attend) the prescribed prayer, and prays with the people or with the congregation or in the Masjid, Allah will forgive him his sins.” (An-Nasa’i)

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying, “When the Iqamah is pronounced, do not come to it running, you should walk calmly with tranquility to join the congregation. Then join in what you catch for and complete what you miss.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Allah will prepare for him who goes to the mosque (every) morning and in the afternoon (for the congregational prayer) an honorable place in Paradise with good hospitality for (what he has done) every morning and afternoon goings. (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Musa (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

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

“The person who will receive the highest reward for Salah (prayer) is the one who comes to perform it in the mosque from the farthest distance. And he who waits for Salah to perform it with the Imam (in congregation) will have a greater reward than the one who observes it alone and then goes to sleep.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Messenger of Allah peace be upon him) said, “For when one of you is walking for Salah, he is, in fact, engaged in Salah.” (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah reported Allah’s Messenger as saying:

“The servant is constantly in prayer so long as he is in a place of worship waiting for the prayer (to be observed in congregation), and the angels invoke (blessings upon him in these words): O Allah! pardon him. O Allah! show mercy to him, (and they continue to do so) till he returns (from the mosque having completed the prayer) or his ablution breaks. I said: How is the ablution broken? He said: By breaking of the wind noiselessly or with noise. (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“The prayer offered in congregation is twenty five times more superior (in reward) to the prayer offered alone in one’s house or in a business center, because if one performs ablution and does it perfectly, and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for each step which he takes towards the mosque, Allah upgrades him a degree in reward and (forgives) crosses out one sin till he enters the mosque. When he enters the mosque he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and the angels keep on asking for Allah’s forgiveness for him and they keep on saying: ‘O Allah! Be Merciful to him, O Allah! Forgive him, as long as he keeps on sitting at his praying place and does not pass wind.” (Al-Bukhari)

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New Muslims Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

The Blessings behind Zakah

Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you.

Deep down, you may think of zakah (obligatory alms) as a tiresome once-a-year event that simply involves a quick online payment of 2.5% of your cash and a bunch of gold weighed on scales in your kitchen! But there is a lot more to it. Fully understanding and practicing this beautiful Pillar of Islam can lead to a more productive and successful existence at both an individual and community level. How?

Paying your zakah correctly triggers some marvelous productivity boosters that you probably have never thought of! Here’s what actually happens to you and your life when you pay your zakat:

1- Purifying the Soul

Nothing prevents us more from reaching the heights of productivity than our sins. Day and night, we disobey Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in all sorts of ways, knowingly and unknowingly, blotting our hearts and blocking the light of Allah from entering them. One critical way of clearing out the junk from our hearts is to pay zakah.

Linguistically, zakah carries meanings of cleansing and purification, originating from the same root as the word tazkiyah. In fact, when Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to collect zakah, He specifically mentioned its purifying power:

Take from their wealth a charity to cleanse and purify them through it and pray for them. Indeed your prayer gives them tranquility. And indeed Allah is All Hearing, All Knowing. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

2- Blessing the Wealth

Apart from purification, zakah also carries meanings of growth and enhancement. Paying your zakah means that what is left of your money will be more blessed and more productive for you. Our Prophet emphasized this by warning against delaying the payment of zakah or not paying it at all:

“Zakah is never intermingled with any amount of wealth without destroying and rotting it.” (Al-Bukhari)

It is said that zakah represents the ‘filth’ within our wealth, i.e. an amount that we may have incurred through some form of sin or dishonesty, however small or great. For our money to remain blessed, it is vital to get rid of the ‘filth’ as soon as possible. This is akin to the dross that is filtered from a blast furnace, leaving a pure, pristine metal behind.

3- Opportunities for the Poor and Needy

One doubtless benefit of zakah is to help the poor and needy become more productive. By freeing them of the immediate stress of meeting their very basic needs, distributing zakat effectively allows those in need to pursue opportunities to help them turn their lives around.

4- Incurring the Mercy of Allah

In a powerful verse in the Qur’an, Allah says:

…I afflict with My punishment whomsoever I choose, but My mercy encompasses everything. So I will prescribe it (i.e. My mercy) for those who are God conscious, pay Zakah and believe in Our signs. (Al-Anfal 7:156)

This verse is one of just two in Qur’an where zakah is not mentioned in conjunction with the obligatory prayer. Notice how Allah mentions the fulfillment of zakah in such an amazing position: between the qualities of taqwa (God-consciousness) and iman (belief) in His signs. At the same time, He (Exalted be He) makes paying zakah a direct cause for incurring His mercy, without which being productive would be utterly impossible.

5- Endless Rewards

Just after one of the most famous verses in the Qur’an, the Verse of Light, Allah mentions a special group of people:

Men who are not diverted by business or trade from the remembrance of Allah, establishing the prayer and paying zakat, fearing the day (of judgment) in which hearts and sights are turned upside down. (An-Nur 24:37)

Here Allah extols the virtues of those who are busy, productive and successful in a worldly sense, but at the same time do not allow themselves to forget the most important aspects of their faith: remembering their Lord, establishing the prayer and paying zakah.

Allah then promises them an amazing outcome:

Allah will recompense them according to the best of what they have done and He will grant them increase out of His bounty. Allah provides for whomsoever He wills without measure. (An-Nur 24:38)

May Allah (Exalted be He) make us among those mentioned in the above verse! May He enable Muslims everywhere to understand and fulfill their obligation of zakah, thereby incurring His mercy and pleasure. Ameen.

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Source: productivemuslim.com.

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