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Acts of Worship New Muslims

Objectives of Fasting and Ramadan

By Jamaal Diwan

Discussing the objectives of our actions is an important thing because to do so is to discuss the actions in a true and deep way. It is possible that if we do not know why we are doing certain things, we could miss the entire point behind the action itself. So, what are the objectives of fasting in Ramadan?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said about this concept, “Maybe a fasting person gains nothing from his fast except hunger and thirst. And maybe a person who prays in the night gains nothing from their Prayer except staying up late.” (At-Tabarani) So this is a person who does an action but gets no result from it.

This is because if someone does an action without knowing why they are doing it or what the objective behind it is, then it is possible that the action will be useless. This is because, as Imam al-Shatibi said, “Actions without objectives are like bodies without souls.” So in this article we will discuss some of the general objectives of fasting and Ramadan.

1. Attaining Taqwa

This is the major objective of fasting in Ramadan as clarified by the Qur’an. God said,

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (muttaqun). (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

Fasting also teaches a person how to have taqwa because while one is fasting they are careful about all kinds of things. They watch what comes out of their mouth, what they look at, and all that they do. As a result, the person learns how to have a certain level of restraint regarding their actions. This helps them build their taqwa by making them watchful over everything that they do.

As to the definition of taqwa, the clearest way to understand it is through the definition that was provided by Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him).

Someone came to him and asked, “What is taqwa?” He responded by asking the man if he has ever walked through a thorny road. He said, “Yes.” He asked, “What did you do?” He replied, “Whenever I saw thorns I would avoid them or adjust my clothes to keep them safe.” Abu Hurayrah told him, “That’s taqwa.”

2. Fasting is a Shield

The Prophet said in an authentic hadith (narration) that “fasting is a shield.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Even the word shield in Arabic has the connotation of protection and this is one of the meanings of the word taqwa. The Prophet also said, “O youth! Whosoever amongst you can afford to get married, let them get married. And whoever cannot afford to do so then they should fast because it will help him control his desires.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

This protection that fasting gives cannot be accomplished by just reducing one’s food intake because it is the material and immaterial elements of fasting that aide one in controlling themselves. For this reason Imam al-San`ani said about this, “It is for a secret that God put in fasting, so just reducing how much food you eat will not be enough.”

3. Fasting and Patience

Another thing that we should learn in Ramadan is to be patient with what we face in our daily lives. The Prophet said in a hadith, “Fasting the month of patience, and three days of every month is equivalent to fasting the entire year.” (Al-Nasaʾi and Ahmad) In this hadith, the Prophet refers to the month of Ramadan as the month of patience, emphasizing the importance of patience in this month.

It is also said that fasting is half of patience. This is because patience basically consists of staying away from bad deeds and persisting in good deeds. In the month of Ramadan, one of the major things that we seek to do is stay away from as many bad deeds as possible so that our fasting is half of patience.

4. Ramadan is the Month of the Qur’an

In the month of Ramadan, we spend more time with the Qur’an than in any other part of the year. We spend time reading it by ourselves, we spend time studying it, we spend time listening to it during Tarawih Prayers, and so on. In this month, the revelation of the Qur’an began and a civilization of learning and knowledge was born.

5. A Month of Generosity

It is narrated that the Prophet was the most generous of people and his most generous time was Ramadan. In doing this, the Prophet was combining between a personal act of worship, like reading the Qur’an, and a social act of worship, charity. Thereby, he showed what it means to live a comprehensive existence as someone who worships God. In doing so, he shows that our responsibilities are not only limited to ourselves but also include those around us.

6. The Importance of Time

We also learn in Ramadan that time is one of the most important blessings that we have in our lives. The Prophet said, “Two blessings, many people are at a loss regarding them: health and free time.” (Al-Bukhari) The major acts of worship in Islam are all related to specific times. We pay our zakah at a particular time. We pray at specific times. We start fasting at a particular time, in a particular month, and we break our fast at a particular time. We go on hajj at a particular time. All of these specifications are meant to teach us, among other things, the importance of time.

For this reason al-Hasan al-Basri said, “O son of Adam! You are nothing but a compilation of breaths, so every time you inhale and exhale, a piece of you is lost.” The believer is strict with their time and the more a person’s faith increases, the more their observance of their time increases. The responsibilities we have are more than the time we have to carry them out, so we should try to be as strict with our time as possible.

These are just some of the objectives of fasting and Ramadan that we should seek to actualize. We can use these as a measuring stick for our month and see how we add up. If we look throughout and see that we are improving in these aspects then we should thank God for His bounties upon us, and if we find that we are not, then we should seek His forgiveness and grace and work harder.

May Allah accept from us all our good deeds in this month and forgive us for our shortcomings. Ameen.

Note: Most of the this article is taken from an article on the topic that was written by Shaykh al-Raysuni.

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ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Friends of Allah: Who and How?

clouds_nature

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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New Muslims Zakah

Zakah in Islam: Concepts and Rules

Zakah, one of the five pillars of Islam, is meant to purify one’s wealth and create harmony and compassion between members of society.

In this lecture by Sheikh Shady Sulaiman learn in details about Zakah;  its meaning and concept. He also tackles the rules related to this Islamic obligation.

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Rights of the Poor and Needy in Islam

poor and needy

Muslims willingly offer the due amount in obedience to Allah’s commands. They pay it to the poor and the needy.

Allah (Exalted be He) praises those who spend for His cause in order to help the poor and the needy in the Islamic society. This is based on the instructions of the verse in the  Qur’an:

And in their wealth is a recognized right. For the (needy) who asks and the one who is deprived. (Al-Ma`arij 70:24,25)

As a matter of fact Islam regards the charity given to the poor and the needy as one of the most virtuous deeds. Moreover, Islam warns those who conceal and save up their wealth and do not spend for the cause of Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an:

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But the righteousness is to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Prophets, and to give of your wealth out of love for Him, to your kin and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves… (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

The ones who accumulate the wealth without giving the due right of the poor and needy as commanded by Allah, are promised by Allah that they will receive a severe punishment on the Day of Requital. Allah says in the Qur’an:

And those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend in the Path of Allah then warn them of the painful torment. (At-Tawbah 9:34)

For this reason Zakah was prescribed as one of the basic tenets of Islam. Zakah is a set percentage (2.5%) of the accumulated wealth over a period of one year.

On Whom & To Whom?

Muslims willingly offer the due amount in obedience to Allah’s commands. They pay it to  the poor and the needy. Zakah is obligatory upon those who possess the appropriate amount on which Zakah is due. Allah states in the Qur’an:

And they were commanded not except to worship Allah, offering Him alone sincere devotion, being true (in faith); to establish regular Prayer; and to give calculated Charity; and that is the right Religion. ( Al-Bayyinah 98:5)

Zakah is prescribed with the following principles and conditions:

1- The person to pay Zakah must possess “nisab” (the appropriate amount as stipulated in the Islamic Shari`ah).

2- A period of one-year must pass while the owner maintains this amount in his possession. If less than a year passes, Zakah will not be required.

Islam defines the types of people who are entitled to receive Zakah. This is based on the verse in the Qur’an:

Verily alms are for the poor and the needy, and those employed to administer (the funds); for those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to the truth); for those in bondage and in debt; in the cause of Allah; and for the wayfarer: (thus is it) ordained by Allah, and Allah is All- Knower and All-Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:60)

Why We Pay It!

Islam imposes Zakah in order to uproot poverty from the Islamic society, treat the resulting problems stemming from poverty such as: theft, murder, attacking people and taking their property unjustly. In addition, it revives the mutual social welfare and support among members of the Islamic society.

Furthermore, Zakah is used to fulfill the needs of the needy, the destitute, and to pay the debts of those who have debts and are not able to pay their debts due to a sound and legitimate reason.

Moreover, the payment of Zakah purifies one’s heart, soul and  wealth as well. An owner of a wealth will become less selfish and greedy when he/she pays this charity with a pure heart. The Almighty Allah states in the Qur’an:

And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls; they are the ones that achieve prosperity. (At-Taghabun 64:16)

Zakah purifies the hearts of those who are less affluent since they will have less hatred, jealousy and bitterness against the rich and wealthy class of people of the society because they see that they are paying their just dues and the rights to their poorer brethren.

The Almighty Allah warns those who refuse to pay their due Zakah against a severe punishment:

And let not those who covetously withhold of that which Allah has bestowed on them of His Bounty (wealth) think that it is good for them. Nay, it will be worse for them; soon shall the things which they covetously withheld be tied to their necks like a twisted collar on the Day of Resurrection. To Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Aal `Imran 3:180)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.

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The Prophet On Charity and Its Virtues

By Editorial Staff

Charity is one of the best deeds a Muslim can do. Giving charity, we are actually giving back to Allah what He has gifted us, is a practical way of showing gratitude to Allah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.”

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked. (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

Narrated Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr that she had gone to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said, “Do not shut your money bag; otherwise Allah too will withhold His blessings from you. Spend (in Allah’s Cause) as much as you can afford.“ (Al-Bukhari)

Several hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) indicate the virtues, importance and rewards of spending in the way of Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Ibn Mas`ud: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying:

“There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to the others.” (Al-Bukhari)

Virtues of Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah says:

And the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure, and for the strengthening of their souls, is as the likeness of a garden on a height. The rainstorm smites it and it brings forth its fruit twofold. And if the rainstorm smite it not, then the shower. Allah is Seer of what you do. (Al-Baqarah 2:265)

A Way to Paradise

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Who among you is fasting today?” Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I am.” He said: “Who among you has attended a funeral today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has fed a poor person today?’ Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” The Messenger of Allah said: “These (traits) are not combined in a person but he will enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, “Tell me of such a deed that will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet said, “Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakah, and fast the month of Ramadan.” The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man.” (Al-Bukhari)

Charitable People Will Be under Allah’s Shade on the Day of Judgment

Narrated Abu Hurayiah:

The Prophet said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Best Charity

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.’ And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late).” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas narrated that the Prophet was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said: “Sha`ban in honor of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He said: “Charity in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Before It’s Too Late

Narrated Harithah ibn Wahab: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying,

“O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, “If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but today I am not in need of it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Hour (Day of Judgment) will not be established till your wealth increases so much so that one will be worried, for no one will accept his Zakah and the person to whom he will give it will reply, ‘I am not in need of it.’” (Al-Bukhari)

The Longest Hands

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

Some of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, “Who amongst us will be the first to follow you (i.e. die after you)?” He said, “Whoever has the longest hand.” So they started measuring their hands with a stick and Sauda’s hand turned out to be the longest. (When Zainab bint Jahsh died first of all in the caliphate of `Umar), we came to know that the long hand was a symbol of practicing charity, so she was the first to follow the Prophet and she used to love to practice charity. (Sauda died later in the caliphate of Mu`awiyah).

Only the Halal

No charity is accepted from what is grabbed from an illegal way.

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

“If one give in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly earned money and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money –Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much as that it becomes as big as a mountain. (Al-Bukhari)

To Relatives

It was narrated from Salman bin `Amir that the Prophet said:

“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (An-Nasa’i)

Narrated Zainab (the daughter of Um Salamah): My mother said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Shall I receive a reward if I spend for the sustenance of Abu Salama’s offspring, and in fact they are also my sons?” The Prophet replied, “Spend on them and you will get a reward for what you spend on them.” (Al-Bukhari)

Good Deeds are Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said :

“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah reported that Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“On every joint of man, there is charity, on every day when the sun rises: doing justice between two men is charity, and assisting a man to ride an animal or to load his luggage on it is charity; and a good word is charity, every step which one takes towards (the mosque for) Salah is charity, and removing harmful things from the way is charity”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Even Voluntary Prayers

Even the Duha (fore-noon) Prayer is a charity. It is recommended to pray Duha, the least of which is two rak`ah, the best of which is eight, and the average of which is four or six, and encouragement to do so regularly

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying:

“In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise of Him is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness is an act of charity, enjoining good is an act of charity, forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity, and two rak`ahs which one prays in the forenoon will suffice.” (Muslim)

Abu al-Aswad al-Dailani said:

While we were present with Abu Dharr, he said: In the morning, alms are due for him, ever fast is alms, every pilgrimage is alms, every utterance of “Glory to be Allah” is alms, every utterance of “Allah is most great” is alms, every utterance of “Praise be to Allah” is alms. The Messenger of Allah  recounted all such good works. He then said: Two rak’ahs which one prays in the Duha serve instead of that. (Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al-Albani)

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