Sunday, October 29, 2006

Poll result 1: Fast in Ramadan?

Update: Polls and Future

Thank you sincerely to all contributors and readers. This blog has been the hub of positivity and good energy thanks to all of you.

We aim to be back next year, for Ramadan 2007 and I hope more of you will be ready to join in!

I shall be posting Poll Results for all the 6 polls that have been running here during Ramadan. So do watch out for that.

In roughly a month we have had 6,488 visitors!

Now what? Many of us ask ourselves. We are working on a new idea so do stay in touch with the blog to find out what it is.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Eid Mubarak - Guest Post

Guest Post by Shazia Awan-Qureshi


Assalamo alaikum
I just want to make this short post for the blog:
A belated Eid Mubarak to everyone. It has been a real pleasure this month to read about fasting experiences and insights from all over the world and it was touching to learn some non-Muslims were also participating in the fasting. When you get so much bad press, you begin to feel all non-Muslims view Islam negatively but I have seen from this blog that this is not the case.
I read in a book once that Ramadan is a time to carry out an annual service on yourself, much as you do on your car, and try to make yourself roadworthy for another year and that the aim is to reach the next Ramadan (if you live that long by Allah's Grace) in slightly better spiritual shape than the previous one. This helped me a lot because I fell in the category of people who think they can change everything about themselves overnight. Of course when this did not happen I would become disheartened and give up. I finally realised its a lot of small changes that happen gradually over a long time and its OK to make mistakes along the way as long as you keep trying to change for the better.
Businesses improve by doing a SWOT (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities and threats) analysis. We should do one on ourselves and last year I found a great tool at www.soundvision.com: a personal evaluation form. You can find it at this link:
If anyone would like a copy of a more detailed version I created for a Ramadan halaqa, please let me know and I can forward a copy via the blog moderator.
May Allah shower His Blessings and Mercy Upon you all. Amin.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Eid Saeed

It was Eid day today in Pakistan except for the North West Frontier Province, which had celebrated Eid earlier. It's been with usual fervour and warmth that Eid has been celebrated here with people greeting each other and children enjoying the bounties of eidi. Obviously, the centre point of all greetings has been siwayyan.

Eid Mubarak to everyone out there. May this Eid bring with it the most happiness, bliss and peace and the best of what life has to offer. May we all revel in the showers of Allah's Blessings that come our way this Eid and always.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

carrying it forward..

our faiths enjoyed a poetic overlap this year with ramadan and yom kippur coinciding neatly and trailing awful events.. what i urge of us all is that we abide by the moral and spiritual and religious obligation not to wait to this time every year but to exercise the shared beauty of our respective heritage on a daily basis.. moment by moment..

thank you again for having provided the privilege of sharing ramadan through your stories and experiences.. as well as your warm and remarkably hospitable welcome..

salam peace shalom to you all

:)

lirun
telaviv

Photo Album

Tonight, after most of the guests finally left, and everything was washed up and put away for the last time, I viewed my drawing room.
There are still some guests, gorged to the point of buttons undone, sleeping like beached whales all over my drawing room.Its like our typical "shaadi ghar" (wedding home), where guests are sleeping in every available space.

Mashallah. It is Barkat to have guests in your home. Exhausting for the hostess though!
The children are both fanning their eidi (money gifted to younger ones at eid) and knowing only too well by tomorrow MOM will have, handed them a pathetic sum and will have put the rest away safely! (Where that "safely" is, has been a mystery for many generations!!)
It is the first 10 miutes I have literally had, off my feet in the last 2 days.
So, I came here. To my extended family. Strangers who's names, over the course of a month have become a part of my regular conversation.
Names with whom I link now certain memories, because of their posts or comments.
It is like opening a photo album. Each post is a photograph, with a memory, a moment linked to it. The laughter we have shared, the warmth, the wonderful moments.

Its a wonderful feeling. And I know on days when I cannot speak to you, hear your voices (as I read your words), days when you will be on my mind.
I can always come back here and turn the pages of my album and I will find you here.

God Bless you All.

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Nation, Two Eids

The Central Ruet - Hilal (Moon Sighting) Committee is to be convened today at Saudi Tower in Islamabad for the purpose of moon sighting and deciding upon the incidence of Eid. A couple of members of zonal committees' members will also take part in the deliberations. However, as always, the Zonal Committee in Peshawar announced yesterday (Sunday) that Eid in NWFP will be celebrated today (Monday). Thus, the good guardians of the faith in that province led the subjects to celebrate Eid today and I saw news footage on TV of Eid prayers being offered at Charsadda Road.

Well, what should I say except for wishing a very happy Eid? I don't know why this country can't go together. Although there's a Central committe, I fail to understand why everyone (read pathan brothers) feels the need to flaunt the writ, more so when the central committee is a government mandated body!!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006


EID MUBARAK

MAY ALLAH BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN ALL OF YOUR ENDEAVOURS. AND LEAD YOU ON THE PATH OF CONTINOUS SUCCESS AND PROSPERITY.

Happy Eid!



Happy Eid all!

I'm in Hong Kong without celebrations and without sweets :-(

I'll consider KitKat and Snickers as Eid sweets, and try to consume as much amounts as possible!

Please send me in-depth details about all the types of sweets your moms are preparing (with photos if possible!).

Doing my part, i'm attaching photos of my Eid sweets!

29th of Ramadan

Ramadan in Hong Kong seems to be about a day ahead of most of the readers on this blog. I guess it has to do with being this far in the East. A days ahead means tonight is the 29th of Ramadan and tomorrow, we'll be looking for the new moon. Although, from what I heard at an Indian food stall today was that they are expecting it to be a 30 day Ramadan.

Needless to say, the stall owner was not the happiest man. An additional day of Ramadan is a blessing. We have one more day, one more chance to have our sins pardoned. But for someone whose livelihood depends on selling food, the blessing is potentially hard to see. This, actually relates very well to the last post made by Syed Sibghatullah, about how age tends to take away the joy in worship.

I really think that as we mature and develop reasoning according to the ways of this world, it gets hard to believe. And I'm not talking about saying, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad (pbuh) is the messenger of Allah". What I'm talking about is for a halal food stall owner in Hong Kong (with majority Muslim customers) to really and truly wish for another day of Ramadan, instead of saying "I hope it ends tomorrow".

I'm talking about for every one of us to believe that giving out Zakat does not lessen our money. Our acquired intelligence and knowledge in this world tells us otherwise. I have $100, and I give away $2.5 out of it, I must be left with less. Right? "If I have ten million dollars, do you actually expect me to pay $250,000 without complaining? That's 250,000!!!" is our general attitude.

I am the last person to say that I believe in all of this with absolute conviction. May God forgive me, but I have been concious of this for a while now. I can say that I believe, but do I really? My first Ramadan in Hong Kong is coming to a close, and I hardly went for tarawih (special prayers offered in Ramadan during the night) during this month. You must have noticed I went AWOL from this blog as well for quite some time, and I blame it squarely on my workload at office. Working 60 hours a week can take its toll on a person.

Coming back to the topic at hand, what is my level of faith then? My thought process throughout this month with regards to tarawih was on the lines of "there's sooo much to do at office. How can I leave for tarawih?". I say "I believe" but I give up prayers for work. I obviously do not believe that offering my prayers by taking up lesser work will bring me "success". How can it? How can I expect to stand out as a great employee, if I leave work for prayer?

I know that the fact that I am myself writing about it is somewhat paradoxical, but I have been thinking about it for some time and had to bring it up. Notice I say "thinking about it" and really that's all it has been. But as ramadan comes to an end, even if I am, as yet, unable to convert my thinking process into actions, I figure I can at least put it to words and hopefully get some more people to think about it.

I have been through a lot in my life that should make be 'believe'. I have been down on luck at numerous ocassions, all of which has proven to be great for me in the longer run. Times when I would sit in my room crying, I look back upon now and laugh about. How the events that caused me to cry have turned in my favour in a great way.

I have to admit, the All Merciful has been exceptionally merciful on me. Even then, I fail to really believe. I need to, we all need to start. We need to believe that trying to fulfil our duty towards God does not make us weaker in this world. We (at least I) need to believe that going to say prayers at 8 at night does not constitute neglecting work. We all need to believe that another day of ramadan is not a burden. On the contrary, it is a great blessing, one whose magnitude we cannot fathom. Fasting in Ramadan is not about "taking it easy because I feel weak " or "I am fasitng alternate days". We need to believe that believe that each day of fasting in Ramadan brings so much reward that temporary weakness should not even be a consideration for leaving a fast. We need to believe that giving out Zakat does not diminish our money, and that giving away for the consent of Allah actually increases our wealth. God returns us many times more as reward.

And while we are on the topic of giving money in the path of God, why stop at Zakat? That is only 2.5% of excess assets that is mandatory to give away. We should give as much as we can... and truly believe that God knows we are doing this in His way, and that He does not let anyone's sacrifice go unrewarded. A dollar given today will come back as two, five, ten, maybe even more tomororw. And if it doesn't come, our reward still awaits in a world that really matters.

So the question you have to ask yourself is 'do you believe?'. If the answer is yes, the next question is 'how much?' or in other words 'what would you do for the sake of Allah?'. Would you pray, with all your heart that Ramadan not end at 29 days? Would you tell your boss that the client can wait another day since you need to go for prayers after working 10 hours? If you have a business where a large potential buyer says they'll meet with you at 1.30pm on Friday, would you give up your prayer for it? Or would you give up the potential business opportunity to fulfil your obligation to God? Would you give up your money to help someone, seeking nothing in return other than God's good will? How much would you give? 2.5%... well, 2.5% you have to give away. How about more? How about all of it? Half of it? Quarter? Quarter of what you spend on yourself in a month?

Wheredoes your belief starts to shake?

Take that point, and try and build on it; to push it to the next level, and the next, and so on... and pray that Allah gives us all the strength to make the push.

The first fast of a child

On Monday my aunt had invited members of the family to an iftar - dinner hosted in the honour of her two sons who experienced fasting for Allah for the first time in their lives. It was such a beautifull event and my two little cousins looked so excited and happy more so, when the elders appreciated them and presented them with gifts. Both seemed to feel like flying in the clouds by becoming so special and the center of attention of all those present there.

This drove me to make a realization that children are particularly more enthusiastic about prayers and answering to the call of God than us shameless adults. Those two young fellows called up in the morning that day to tell that they were fasting. They felt so happy about it and there was so much energy and enthusiasm. On the other hand, we shameless adults seek to shirk every possible duty towards religion. We want to skip Salat; we want to "save" money by cutting back on Zakat; we feel ill by keeping fasts and while we don't spare a single moment about the importance of following the Qur'an and the Sunnah, yet the Holy Book remains wrapped up in one corner of the house for the whole year round.

We adults are so hypocrites. Small children are so better than us. But, weren't we, when we were children, as enthusiastic about religion as other children are? Yes we were. I remember myself as a child and I see children all around me. I'm getting amazed that as we grow up, we're supposed to get mature and develop our habits into our personalities. But what actually happens is the opposite. As we grow up, the lines between good and bad keeps getting blurred in our minds and we continue to accept bad as good. Small children have something serious to teach us!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tea á la Somalia

Ingredients:

-2 cups of Water
-One tea bag (any black tea will do)
-3/4 tsp ginger powder
-4 Cardemums
-A pinch of cloves
-One spoon cinnamon powder
-Sugar to taste

Mix it all up in a pot, don't boil. Keep a medium heat and let tea brew for atleast 15 minutes.

Hand made/painted cups in the picture by my favourite artist Soizick de la Brugiére. Can be bought in Paris and online.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gajerela or Gajer Halwa?

This has to be my all time favourite Pakistani dessert. Proof that you don't have to have desi blood to create something as yummy as this; my Swedish mother made this lovely dish. I'm confused about the name though. I have called it Gajerela, but now been told that this is Gajer Halwa and Gajerela is the dish made with lots of milk.

Gajer means carrot in Urdu. The dish is made with carrots, cashew nuts, raisins, cardemum, butter, little bit of milk, sugar and mom's secret touch of shredded coconut. We often eat this during Ramadan.

Ramadan in Thailand

Guest post by Enda Nasution

This is a screenshot from Thai morning television during Suhoor.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, with only 10% of the population from about 60 million being Muslim (mostly in southern area).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Chocolate Mosque

















At the Grand Melia Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, chefs add the final touches to a chocolate replica of a famous mosque in Jakarta. 250 kg's of chocolate was used making it. Anyone know the name of the mosque?

Who should I pay Zakah to?

An explanation on who can recieve the Zakah you wish to pay can be found here:
Zakat Foundation

Other Essential Points on who to give and not to give to:
A person who qualifies to pay Zakah is not eligible to receive.

It is not permissible to pay Zakah to husband, wife, parents, grandparents, and the children and grandchildren.

Use of Zakah fund is not permissible on the construction of mosques.

It is preferable to pay Zakah to deserving relatives (other than the above mentioned that were not eligible).

Zakah of every locality should be spent on the poor inhabitants of the same community except when there is a calamity in other parts of the country or the world.

Zakah can be given to any one, who qualifies to receive it, as assistance or gift, without telling him that it is Zakah.

Online Zakah calculator

There are many helpful devices online these days to better assist in calculating on what exactly zakah needs to be paid.

Online Zakah calculators:
Islam Banktree has a good online calculator.
Islamic Society of Boston for people paying in Us dollars, Euros or UK pounds.
Islami City has one too.
Ramadhan Zone.
Muslim Hands.

Gold & Silver

The time to pay Zakah is approaching. Time to bring out the silver and gold that you have owned for atleast a lunar year, weigh it and calculate it.

The price for gold per ounce can be found here listed in many different currencies.
The price for gold per gram can be found here.
The price for gold in kilograms can be found here.
The price for gold in US dollars can be found here in both ounce, gram, and kilo.
The price for gold per gram in Swedish Kronor I calculated to roughly 144 kr/gram.

The price for silver per ounce can be found here listed in many different currencies.
The price for silver per gram is not listed however one ounce is roughly 31.1 grams.
The price for silver in kilograms can be found here.
The price for silver per gram in Swedish Kronor I calculated to roughly 2.8 kr/gram.

One pakistani tola is equal to 11.66 grams.

Whatever your silver or gold is worth after you weighed and calculated it, draw off 2,5 percent from both the gold and silver's total worth. Those 2,5 percent is what you should pay in Zakah (alongside of course any other wealth).

Example: If you have 500 grams of gold. And one gram is worth 19 US dollars.
Multiply 500 x 19= 9 500 dollars.

Then take 2.5 percent off that sum.
9 500 x 0,025= 237,5 dollars to pay in Zakah.

Sighting of the Moon

I dont know if you people are aware of the news that is circulating in U.A.E nowdays about the mistake in the sighting of the moon for the start of ramzan. According to some people the ramzan was started one day before than it should have and now the question arrises if the moon is of 30 days than we in UAE will have 31 roza's. Any idea what is done in such a situation. I mean do we keep 31 roza's and take the first one as nafal and the next 30 as faraz?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sawalis - The Sehri Awakers of India

How would you like if instead of your alarm clock or mobile, a nice religious song woke you up from sleep for Sehri?

This is a unique tradition in some parts of India - 'Sawalis' as they are called (perhaps because they always have a 'Sawaal' or request) go around town in the middle of the night, singing songs on Ramadan to wake up the faithful for Sehri. They usually have some basic music instrument (such as a Daf or even a set of large tongs) to accompany their songs.

I remember, as a child, lying awake waiting for them to come in their unique way. Nowadays, with mobile alarms (or screaming microphones) replacing their need, the subtleties, finesse and spirit is lost. How can a microphone compare to a person who awakens you in the middle of the night with a melodious 'Kya Khuda ne Rahmat Laaya, Ramzaan Mubarak Aaya' (What a blessing God has bestowed, Ramadan Mubarak has arrived!) or Utho Momino, Chamka Sitara.. Aaya Ramzan Pyaara hamaara (Wake up, O momins, the stars are shining.. Our beloved Ramadan is arriving).

What for me makes the whole thing commendable is the fact that these people are usually simple traditional muslims who do this as a duty and will come every night, no matter if Ramadan is in the summers, the torrid winter or in rains....their spirit is commendable - they truly live Ramadan!

However, over the years, their numbers have gone down - whereas there would be almost a dozen Sawalis earlier, nowadays there are hardly 1-2. In order to record this tradition, I took the opportunity to make short clips of their rendering.... (yes, in the middle of the night!) and loaded them on youtube (links below)

Hope you like them.. and as the last Ashra of Ramadan is on, lets hope all of us are able to maximise its benefits before the month is past.



PS: Apologies for the poor quality of video - it was an impromptu shoot on the roads of Calcutta, with a basic digital camera!

The Night of POWER

*****IN THE NAME OF ALLAH,
THE MOST GRACIOUS,
THE MOST MERCIFUL.*****
Verily we have sent it (this Quran), down in the night of Al Qadr (decree). And what will make you know what the night of Al Qadr is?
The night of Al Qadr is better than a thousand months(ie worshipping Allah on that night, is better than worshipping him a thousand months, which is 83 years and 4 months).
Therin descend the angels and the RUH (Jibrail) by Allah's permission with all decrees.
-All that night, there is peace and goodness from Allah to his believing slaves) untill the appearence of dawn- (chapter 97)
WHAT TO DO IN THE NIGHT OF GLORY OR POWER
Narrated Aisha (RAA): Allah's messenger (SAW) said: "SEARCH FOR THE NIGHTS OF QADR, in the odd nights of the last 10 DAYS OF RAMADAN''.
(sahih Al Bukhaari, Vol 3, Hadith no 234)
Aisha Narrated, "I asked Allah's Messenger (SAW), What should I do if I find the night of Qadr''.
The Holy Prophet(SAW) replied: "Pray to Allah: O' our Lord! You are the most forgiving, You love to forgive, so forgive us".
(Al Bukhaari and Muslim)
MAY ALLAH
Give us the strength and Patience to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, Accept all our fasts in this Holy month.
Give us the opportunity to worship in the night of Qadr, and accept all our worshipping.
Help us to continue, all the good deeds, we do in this Holy month.
AMEEN

Friday, October 13, 2006

Best Time For A Dua

Guest Post By Junaid

Middle of the night:
The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The Gates of Heaven are open at midnight, and a caller calls, 'Is there a supplicant that his supplication may be granted? Is there a petitioner that his petition maybe granted? Is there a distressed person so that his distress may be removed?' At that time, no Muslim makes a Dua but that it is answered, except for an adulteress who trades with her body, or a person who gathers his money unlawfully." [Sahih al-Jami' 2968]

At the time of Azan and between it and the Iqamah:
The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "A Dua between Azan and the Iqamat is not refused, so make du'a at that time." [Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban]

The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Two kinds of du'a are not rejected - or rarely are they rejected - du'a at the time of the call for prayer, and du'a at the time of fighting when the warriors are engaged with each other." [Abu Dawud]

On Friday after 'Asr The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Friday has twelve periods. Among them is a period when no Muslim asks Allah for anything but He grants it to him. Search for that period late after 'Asr." [Sahihal-Jami' 8402]

When it is raining:
The Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Two kinds of du'a are not rejected: du'a at the time of the call for prayer, and du'a during rain." [Abu Dawud]

Being a parent, while fasting and while travelling:
The Messenger (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: "Three types of du'a are undoubtedly granted: a parent's du'a for his children, du'a of a fasting person, and du'a of the traveller." [Abu Dawud]

While Making Sujood:
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "The servant is closest to his Lord while in sujud (prostration), so ask Allah in that time."

Laylatul-Qadr:
Aisha asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) What should I say on Laylatil-qadr? And he replied, O Allah, indeed you are a Pardoner, and you love pardon; so pardon me "Allahuma inaka afuuin tuhibul afua Fahafu Anni"

A broken fast?

If you break your fast 65 seconds early due to 2 incompetent individuals informing you that the adhan is on tv, is your day lost?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Smoked chicken KABAB PARATHA ROLES



















Ingredients

1 KG Chicken breasts.
2 tblspn Colmans mint sauce.
I tspn white pepper powder
2 tblspn fresh lime juice
I tblnspn sweet parika powder
1 tblspn roasted ground cumin seeds
A pinch of red food colour (powder)
1 tblspn mayyonaise
7-8 cloves crushed garlic
4-6 table spoons of cooking oil
Salt to taste
1 pkt frozen parathas
(finely sliced onions soaked in cold water- to get rid of pungency)

Chop chicken into small pieces. Stir fry with all ingredients(except food colour) till chicken is done.
You will need 2-3 pices of wood coal. Leave them on the fire while you cook the chicken. They should be glowing red by the time the chicken is done.
Add food colouring at this point sprinkled on the chicken.
Place the coal, on a square of foil, and place on chicken. Put a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) on the burning coals and cover with a airtight lid.
Leave for 15 minutes till smoke diperses. Remove lid, throw away foil and coal.

*STIR IN THAT MAYYONAISE NOW!*
Cook the parathas as per instructions.
Now on each paratha, lay out a enough chicken, add a few slices of finely sliced onions, green chutney or ketchup and roll it into ...well a roll!













Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Monday, October 09, 2006

BRUSHING YOUR TEETH

maybe a simple question but what is you stand on brushing your theeth in the morning during fasting. I am of the view that you can brush but i dont do it as am not sure and get varied views of it.

Unfolding of the Rose

A young, new sheikh (teacher) was walking with an older, more seasoned sheikh in the garden one day. Feeling a bit insecure about what Almighty Allah had for him to do, he was asking the older sheikh for some advice.

The older sheikh walked up to a rosebush and handed the young sheikh a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals. The young sheikh looked in disbelief at the older sheikh and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the Will of Almighty Allah for his life and ministry.

But because of his great respect for the older sheikh, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact... It wasn't long before he realized how impossible this was to do. Noticing the younger sheikh's inability to unfold the rosebud without tearing it, the older sheikh began to recite the following poem...

It is only a tiny rosebud,
A flower of Almighty Allah's design;
But I cannot unfold the petals
With these clumsy hands of mine.

The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I..
Almighty Allah opens this flower so sweetly,
Then in my hands they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of Almighty Allah's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?

So I'll trust in Allah for leading each moment of my day.
I will look to Almighty Allah for His guidance each step of the way.
The pathway that lies before me,
Only Almighty Allah knows.

I'll trust Him to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose..


(Discovered on the web... but a beautiful thought really!!)

16 days and counting

We are on the 16th day of fasting, for those who started on Saturday (23rd of September). More than half of Ramadan has gone by. For me it has gone every fast. Almost too fast.

Today was also one year since the earthquake shattered Pakistan. It is Ramadan without Iftaar all year round for many people in the world.

Every year Muslims are supposed to pay their zakah (2,5 percent of their wealth accumulated after a lunar year). This is usually done during or after Ramadan. We have included a list of websites where you can choose to donate online if you don't already know where to donate this years zakah.

Hope we make the most of the little time that is left in this blessed month. It is a personal joy for me to see everyone making the most of this online Ramadan forum.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Benefits of Fasting - part 1

"O Ye who believe Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that ye may learn self restraint".
------------------Chapter 2, Verse 183-----------------------------

General Recommendations

It is strongly recommended by Prophet Mohammed (SAW) to have to observe these practices during Ramadan.
  • To have a light meal before the break of dawn known as Suhoor.
  • To eat 3 dates, and have a drink of water, saying this prayer, "O Allah, for your sake we have fasted, and now we break the fast with the food you have given us.
  • To make your meals as light as possible, because as the Prophet put it, 'the worst thing man can fill is his stomach'.

------------Al Tirmidhi, no:2380--------

  • To exchange social visits and intensify humanitarian services.
  • To observe supergatory prayers known as Taraweeh.
  • To increase study and recitation of the Holy Quran.
  • To exert the outmost in paatience and humblesness.
  • To be extraordinarily cautious in using the senses, the mind and especially the tongue, to abstain from careless talk, gossip and suspicious motions.

THE REWARDS OF FASTING

Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said that Allah (subhanu wa Ta'ala) said"

"ALL THE DEEDS OF MAN ARE FOR HIMSELF, EXCEPT FOR FASTING, WHICH IS FOR ME, AND I SHALL REWARD IT MYSELF".

--------------AL BUKHAARI, AL FATH no:1904--------------------------------



BEING CRITICAL OF ONES SELF IS NOT A BAD IDEA?

I had shared my experience of ramzan in Pakistan after a long time in my last posting. Jaydee had commented on it that first we can not force anyone to fast and second i should be more positive about Pakistan. I would like to make this the basis for my post today and would like you guys to give your inputs or comments with a serious thought to the points.
First in my post i had written about how i saw some people not keeping their Fast and smoking at the airport and others drinking at other place that i saw. Jaydee has the view that we can not force anyone to fast. I agree with the point, you can not force someone to do anything in Islam. But what my objection was that back in the old days (6-7 years) there was a sense of respect you would not find people have a smoke or eating out in the open. It was confined to the house or even your own room. People have reasons for not fasting but if you are not fasting you had respect for others and you would not be proud of it.

Second point Jaydee commented was that i was being too harsh on Pakistani society, there are things happening in the middle east also, and i should take a positive point. My biggest conceren is that we as a whole nation and umah do not want to see our faults and point out to the others. If we are not self critical than we will not change. Ignoring a problem wont solve it and diverting attention wont help either. We have to admit that today where we stand is not a good place to be. We need to admit that there are faults in our society (not only Pakistan but Muslaim Umah as a whole) and we need to be critical of ourselves if we want to change things around.

I once had a discussion with a friend about problem in our society and he said a very nice point. He said a problem is always solved if we agree that there is a problem. If we keep on ignoring that there is no problem than we will not be able to solve it. There is nothing wrong in admitting that oue society has problems and than we start talking and thinking and discussing about it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Ramadan Media

Check out the following:

This is a site in UK with downloads of excellent speeches in English
(on all Islamic topics) but particularly, there is this page of MP3
downloads of Taraweeh with explanations in English and Urdu!!

http://www.alkawtharacademy.org/ramadhan.htm

There is also a link to the Leicester Ramadhan Radio station (UK).
Well worth a listen...

How RAMZAN HAS CHANGED IN A FEW YEARS

First an apology for being away from the blog, like a few others i was also away to Pakistan for a small trip.
It was after a long time that i got a chance to spend some days of ramzan in Lahore, Pakistan. The experience was a good one as far as food was concerend as a got a chance to eat a lot of heavy and oily food. But my general feeling was of dissapointment.
When i landed at 6:00 Am in the morning at the airport people were pushing to get ahead in the immigration line, that is acceptable as we Pakistanis are fast mvoing people and can not go by the slow system. Anyway when i reached the luggage collection point and was waiting for the luggage i saw a man having his morning smoke. I thought i must have mis calculated the Fajr timing but i did not. He was smoking during the ramdan timming and no one seemed to mind it.
This was not the only time i saw people having something to eat or smoke. Than what was disappointing was the general attitude of people towards ramzan, First people were not into keeping fast as it was not possible for them during work. They got pain in the head or something else. Than Beer or Vodaka (I did not see but heard) is a good way of opening your fast. Than the dressing of girls just put a stamp on you fast. They were dressed head to toe and what was neither a shalwar kameez nor a western shirt and trouser. It was all very very upsetting and confusing. May God guide us in the right path

Iron Chef!

To all those who've had the (mis)fortune of having to make your own Sehri (or cook for others) during Ramadan, what's the quickest you have had to whip up something because you didn't wake up in time? To those who have had someone do their cooking all their lives, what's the quickest you've had to gobble down everything because you woke up only a few minutes before sunrise?

The inspiration for these questions came to me yesterday when I broke all of my own records. Here is the step by step analysis of my record setting Sehri:

1. Woke up about 10-11 minutes before sunrise
Minute 1:
2. Looked at the watch, and ran into the kitchen (I know these are two steps but they were really in one fluid motion. Can't seperate the two).
3. Lit up the stove under the frying pan on full flame.
4. Took out an egg and a frozen paratha from the refrigerater.
Minute 2:
5. Drowned a glass of milk as I waited for the pan to heat up.
6. Put the paratha on the pan and started "willing it" to cook faster.
Minutes 3 - 4:
7. Drowned a glass of water.
8. Kept on "willing" the paratha. It still took the 3 minutes it is supposed to.
Minute 5:
9. Put the paratha off the frying pan and poured about a tablespoon of olive oil in its place.
10. Wait about 10 - 15 seconds for the oill to heat up a bit.
11. Crack the egg and pour it in for frying.
Minute 6:
12. Wait for the under-side of the egg to cook (about 10-15 seconds) and then flip it over.
13. Wait another 10-15 seconds for the (new) under-side to cook.
14. Put the egg in the plate with the paratha.
Minute 7 - 10:
15. Consume the iron chef-style cooked cuisine at a leisurely pace along with a few glasses of water.
Minute 11:
16. Drink the second glass of milk.

TADAAAAA!
Thank you... thank you very much. Please, no need to stand up to applaud. You can do it while seated.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hectic?

I apologize for absenting myself for so long, but I was busy in my term examinations at the university. Now when they are a thing of the past, I'm here again.

During the holy month, there's a common complaint that people just don't get enough time to perform their daily work. However, there's also a general environment of laziness all around. For me, I also have experienced this. When I wake up in the morning and getting off with Fajr, I'm like dying for a sleep and this has led me to get late a number of times from my classes. In the afternoons, I feel like sleeping my life out, but can't get enough of it.

I remember when I was at school, there was this Sri lankan teacher who would fume at any instance of lethargy ever displayed by a student during the month of Ramadan. He used to lecture us on the need to keep working hard and working harder in Ramadan, saying that God didn't meant Ramadan to be a sleeping month!!! :) But I suppose it was utopia, as how much may one try, it's really really hard to get over the temptation to sleep. Atleast that has been the case with me :) And yes, this habbit cost me in terms of compromised performance during exam time.

American Christians Keeping the Fast of Ramadan

Ramadan 1427 / 2006
To our Muslim brothers and sisters everywhere:

All praise and thanks be to the one God whom we all worship, who has called you to worship Him after the manner of al-Islam, and us to worship Him according to the gospel of Jesus, whom both faith traditions hail as the Messiah: it is our deep wish that God strengthen you in your devotion to Him, your love of Him, and your trust in Him during this month of Ramadan, and that everything that you do for His sake may be pleasing to Him.

We have joined you in keeping the fast of Ramadan this year, as a freewill offering to God accompanying our prayer for peace, justice, and a spirit of love to grow among the peoples of the Abrahamic religions. It is our desire that all over the world, if God so wills, Muslim, Jew and Christian can learn to stand together in brotherhood in the sight of their Creator. But we are mourning many of the deeds of our government and our people, as they continue to involve themselves in the affairs of Islamic peoples, and the lives of Muslim detainees held at United States facilities, without sufficiently caring or understanding what they are doing to the people whose lives they affect. To our sorrow, we see many American Christians trusting, supporting, and following policy-makers whose guiding principle seems to be “let us do evil, that good may come of it,” as if they did not know that our own scripture explicitly condemns it (Romans 3:8).

Our power to make the world’s leaders humble themselves, question their own behavior, and repent, seems very small. And yet we draw hope from our certainty that we are listened to by the true Ruler of this world, who sees everything and holds all power. This month we curb our natural appetites during daylight hours to be more mindful of the One to whom we must return, the Highest, our Helper. We perceive, sadly, that many American Christians lack understanding of what it means to be a Muslim. How better to change that than for some of us to join the Muslim world in its Ramadan fast? We also hope that such self-restraint as we gain from the fast might help restore a spirit of self-restraint to American culture, in however small a way, for on our learning self-restraint now seems to depend the saving of the world from ruin.

Advised by Jesus himself to fast privately and without open display (Matthew 6:16-18), we make ourselves available for responses to this communication but without identifying ourselves individually by name. May God comfort you, sustain you in hope, and bestow on you every blessing.


Ramadan Fasters of Christ
christsfasters@aol.com

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lord of Ramadan

This is the second time I post this video but this time it is for the UAE readers and anyone else who previously had You Tube blocked. It is now unblocked.
Balkan Ramadan Song

Singer Driton Salihu sings the song Agjëro about Ramadan. The video looks like it was shot in Sarajevo however he is definitely not singing in Bosnian. My guess is it is Albanian. The video is interesting, and something I noticed about Muslims in the Balkan in general, they can be very devout without the "traditional uniform" many Muslims insist on applying to religious people (headscarf, beard etc). Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Travel during Ramadan

Hello everyone. Sorry for being missing in action the last few days but I was on a 3 day trip to Pakistan. Got a couple of Suhoors and Iftaars with family, which made me realize (even more than before) what I'm missing, spending Ramadan alone in Hong Kong. It is just so much different spending the Ramadan alone in a country where you don't hear the Azaan compared to having family around and religious programming on TV!

Not that I had much time for TV. I was out and about on the roads most of the time, running errands and meeting people. It is somewhat tough to meet people without having food around. Ever thought of meeting up an old friend/acquaintance whom you haven't seen in months over a cup of... nothing? Slightly strange, wouldn't you agree?

Anyway... I returned last night. I didn't fast yesterday since I was travelling from 9.30am Pakistan Standard Time to 10.00pm Honky time. In retrospect, that is something I am not entirely happy about. I did fast on my way to Pakistan since most of the journey was during the night. I only had a couple of hours in flight after Sehri. The way back was almost all during the day and since one is allowed to defer fasting during travel, I decided to take up the option.

By the time iftaar arrived (and since I was travelling in Pakistan International Airlines, they had announcements and special arrangements for Iftaar), I found myself trying to justify my decision to self. How harsh is it really to sit in a temperature controlled airplane and wait 10 hours for the destination?

Any thoughts?

Ramadan


Contribution by: http://www.aicp.org

Muslim? Arab? In Turkey?



Turkey is the country with probably the most beautiful mosques. Turkey was once the seat of the most powerful Muslim empires for almost 400 years. Turkey has a lot to offer in terms of history but unfortunately history is written in the past tense.

About 15 years ago I visited Turkey, and I found many everyday things very peculiar over there. As a Muslim whose mother tongue is Arabic I found it most interesting in a country with such a long history of Islam that very few people actually knew how to speak Arabic. I am not talking about the daily Arabic you might hear in Cairo or Damascus, but the Arabic you would use in prayer.

For me what really killed it was when I went to Friday prayers and had to hear the athaan (call to prayer) from a tape player as the Imam (Muslim priest) apparently didn't know how to say it. However, the sermon that followed was in Turkish, but it was hurried. As if people didn't want to be caught in the mosque. It has become inconvenient to be a Muslim in Turkey.

It's amazing to find such a country rich in Islamic history lacking in basic elements. Sad to find that some of the most beautiful mosques over there locked shut by the government. Sad to meet some of the kindest people there (Kurds) who cannot speak their own language because it's illegal yet somehow have an excellent grasp of Arabic, and were more than happy to give us a helping hand.

I guess we were both foreigners.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I wonder....


Clayfuture's post on 'No Shame in Ramadan' reminded me of this poem which many of us must have read. Slightly longish, but nevertheless, worth reading again - here it is:

If the Prophet Mohammad visited you, just for a day or two,
If he came unexpectedly, I wonder what you would do.

Oh, I know you'd give your nicest room to such an honored guest;
And all the food you'd serve him would be the very best.

And, you would keep assuring him you are glad to have him there,
That serving him in your home is joy beyond compare.

But... When you saw him coming, would you meet him at the door,

With arms outstretched in welcome, to your visitor?

Or...would you have to change your clothes before you let him in?
Or hide some magazines and put the Quran where it had been?

Would you still watch forbidden movies on your TV set?
Or would you rush to switch it off before he gets upset?

Would you hide your wordly music and instead take hadith books out?
Could you let him walk right in or would you rush about?


And, I wonder... If the Prophet spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing the things you always do?

Would you keep up each and every prayer without putting on a frown?
And would you always get up early for prayers at dawn?

Would you sing the songs you always sing and read the books you read?
And let him know the things on which your mind and spirit feed?

Would you take the prophet with you everywhere you plan to go?
Or would you, maybe, change your plans just for a day or so?

Would you be glad to have him meet your very closest friends?
Or would you hope they'd stay away until his visit ends?

Would you be glad to have him stay forever on and on?
Or would sigh with great relief when at last he was gone?

It might be interesting to know, the things that you would do,
If the Prophet Mohammad, in person, came to spend some time with you.

Something to think... truly!!

No Shame In Ramadan!

Some people have no respect for the Holy month of Ramadan. Ok, it's understood that there are people of various religions apart from muslims, but at least have some respect for the country you are living in. It is a muslim country after all, with islamic traditions and values. It doesn't matter that the UAE has a liberal approach to these issues, in fact I have liberal views on most topics, but Ramadan comes just once a year and at least in this month, muslims and non-muslims alike can try not to be shameless.
It's a regular sight in almost all shopping malls. Ladies are wearing skimpy tops, backless dresses, mini skirts and the lot. Even for men who don't want to look, can't help looking, sometimes ogling! These would be the residents of this country. I can't say much about the tourists who are here as most of them would be unaware on the dress code during the holy month. That is the governments job to make sure they are informed upon arrival. I doubt they would bother anyhow!
Secondly, the flesh trade doesn't seem to hit the speed breakers at all this month! It's still going in full swing. You just don't see a lot of "business ladies" on the roads as usual. What saddens me, apart from the "I don't see no shit" non-action attitude of the local authorities to decrease this business, the muslim men think it is OK to have sex after opening your fast! So many times I have seen men in kandoorahs getting out of the car with a woman and walking into a seedy hotel.
Also, let's not forget to mention how much us muslims drink! We drink like there's no tomorrow. Especially the Saudi's. They drink from sunrise to sunset!
Can't we all just behave for 30 days? Is that too much to ask? By practicing abstinence we will only be doing ourselves a favor in front of Allah!
God help us all!

nana's lemonade..

today was yom kippur.. we started fasting last night at around 5pm until around 6pm today.. i live a half hour walk away from my grandmother's place so i missed the breaking of the fast but i did get some of my grandmother's lemonade which for me is liquid heaven..

for one litre she puts 3 generous spoons of sugar two fresh lemons squeezed and a whopping dash of rose water (mayet zahar).. its the best! its not the ingredients though.. my gran (who i have always called "nana") loves preparing it and when she serves it her heart goes out to you.. i love my nana.. ;)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fasting and Gandhi


Today (2nd October) is the 137th birth anniversary of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, one of the greatest leaders of the Indian sub-continent. It is interesting to note how Gandhi used fasting as an effective strategy for his 'Satyagraha' or 'Protest with Truth' campaign in India.

Gandhi considered fasting as an important tool for exerting mental control over the biological activities. He believed that fasting would also put the body through unusual hardship which in turn would cleanse the spirit, by stimulating the courage to withstand all impulses and pain.

Gandhi fasted to death on three occasions:
  1. To stop all revolutionary activities after the Chauri Chaura Incident of 1922;
  2. Against the 1934 communal award giving separate electorates to Untouchable Hindus; and
  3. In 1947, when he wanted to stop the bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims in Bengal and Delhi.
In all three cases, Gandhi succeeded in achieving his aims.

On his birth anniversay, it is perhaps fitting to remember some of his words on non-violence which we have forgotten today:

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

... and perhaps the best one:

"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no cause that I am prepared to kill for!".

More information on Gandhi is available here.

Shrimp Samosas

INGREDIENTS
500 grams frozen shrimps
3 medium onions chopped
chopped coriander
chopped green chillies (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
3 tblspn oil
Salt to taste
Samosa strips

Thaw shrimps, and give them a quick toss in the pan with oil, salt, lime juice.Just about 3 times ,you dont want to overcook the prawns.

Drain out every drop of water in the pan, as frozen shrimps will leave water, and trying to dry it out on fire, overcooks them. once the water is drained add in chopped onions, chopped coriander and the chillies if you want. (Because my kids eat, so I have to opt out of the green chillies, however they add a nice punch to the taste).Back on fire for another 2-3 tosses max. Turn off heat and allow to cool.

THESE ARE YOUR READY MADE SAMOSA STRIPS.Available mostly everywhere, or you can also use the spring roll wrappers.

You will need to make a paste with water and flour,to seal your samosas.The folding bit is a bit tricky, you need to smear the strip with your glue, and make a cone.You will fill this cone with your stuffing and seal the remaining flap to close it up like an envelope.

So Now. All u have to do is fry them and ENJOY with your choice of poison.





CHUTNEY OR KETCHUP!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A unique Aftar

Today's Roza was very special. Had an Aftar invitation to the Calcutta Muslim Orphanage, a 110 year old institution housing almost 600 boys and girls who have lost their parents.
A modest building in Syed Saleh Lane houses the Boys Section (350 at present) with an inhouse mosque, madrasa (school) and infirmary. The children are taught not only religious and academic subjects but also vocational skills. The girls section is separately house where the young girls are taught basic skills and the orphanage even helps for arranging their match and marriage.

The aftar was sumptuous which included 'Haleem', a unique delicacy for Ramadan, fried food, fruits and sweets. It was a chance to share our love with those who are less fortunate, but perhaps more importanty, an occasion to thank Allah for the blessings that we sometimes take for granted.


These children are not weak. They do not want our sympathies. All they want is their Haq (right) to become what they are destined to be!

Free food for Iftaar

In Dubai (and many Muslim countries) during Ramadan at Iftaar time, it is customary for many families to offer free meals to the public (in general poor people), outside or inside their homes. This picture was taken at such an occasion where food and people (mainly from the sub-continent) were lined up with their buckets and plates.

Capital Punishment in Ramadan


Alongwith several other countries, India has also been a victim of several terror attacks. Perhaps the most daring (and thankfully unsuccessful) attack was in December 2001 on the Indian Parliament.

Last week, an Indian court convicted Mohammed Afzal Guru of Kashmir for the attack and ordered his hanging at 6 am on October 20. This has led to a series of political posturing and mass protests in Kashmir where people believe that Afzal is being wrongfully charged.

What is important is that the date fixed for Afzal's hanging is 20 October, the Jum'a-tul-Wida or last Friday of Ramadan, and just before Diwali (October 21), the Hindu festival celebrating victory of Truth. Due to these, the entire issue is becoming a communal cauldron with political leaders of Kashmir proposing a mercy petition to the President and Hindu outfits demanding the execution be carried out as scheduled. Link

The Chief Minister of Kashmir anticipates violence and unrest if the date is maintained and has requested for a postponement. Afzal, apparently, is unfazed and ready to die the death of a martyr.

I am not trying to start a political debate here but to share some of the thoughts that are on the minds of Indian Muslims as they go through the month of Ramadan...How is it in Islamic countries? Are capital punishments carried out during Ramadan?

Iftaar time in Dubai
















A view of Dubai snapped during Ramadan on the way home from work, the sun was setting which is very important in Ramadan for practicing Muslims. That is when they open their fasts (iftaar).

-Guest post by: DXBluey

Rak’ahs in Taraweeh

Guest Post by I,Zak

Q. In my home country, India, Taraweeh prayer is offered in 20 rak’ahs in most mosques. The same is the case in the two sacred mosques of Makkah and Madinah. However, in most mosques in Saudi Arabia it is offered in 8 rak’ahs only. This difference has become confusing for us. Can you please explain which is the proper way of offering this prayer?

Ashraf T.K., Taif

A. To start with, Taraweeh, which is the name given to night worship in Ramadan, is a Sunnah, which means that it is voluntary, not obligatory. This means that there is much leeway and flexibility with regard to offering this prayer. The difference you speak about is found all over the Muslim world.

Yet it is a healthy difference, which should not confuse anyone. Night worship may be offered on any day, in any number of rak’ahs, because it is voluntary. Yet in Ramadan it is more emphasized because the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave it a special stress. Nevertheless, it may be offered in any number of rak’ahs, with a minimum of two and no maximum. However, the general practice is to offer it in either 8 or 20 rak’ahs.

Those who offer only 8 rak’ahs rely on the Hadith in which Aishah reports that the Prophet never prayed more than 11 or 13 rak’ahs of night worship on any day, in Ramadan or at any other time. These two figures add the three rak’ahs of witr offered after Taraweeh, and the higher figure adds two short rak’ahs of Sunnah before Taraweeh.

The other view relies on the practice of the Prophet’s companions when Umar saw different groups offer this night worship in the mosque at the same time. He did not like that there should be more than one congregation offering this prayer at the same time.

He appointed Ubayy ibn Kaab to lead the prayer and asked all those in the mosque to join him in congregation. This was immediately adopted. Ubayy was chosen because he was one of the best reciters of the Qur’an among the Prophet’s companions. Ubayy led this prayer every night, offering 20 rak’ahs in Taraweeh. Since none of the Prophet’s companions objected, this was considered a unanimous decision which is a valid evidence.

The proper attitude is to join the imam in the mosque in whichever form he decides. If you wish to add more afterward, this is open to you. This is what happens in the two sacred mosques in the last ten days of the month

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness...

Salaam alaikum all,

There was some discussion in the comment section of an earlier post about the different Books of the Peoples of the Book. Since I was raised Christian I'm familiar with the Bible, and it hadn't occurred to me until Rijju mentioned it that the Muslim readers of this blog might not all have familiarity with the Bible. So I wanted to post a key section of the the New Testament that embodies the message of Jesus as Christians understand it. It's been in my mind recently partly because there's a verse that's very relevant to the meaning of Ramadan and because the messages of Jesus and the Prophet coincide here. I am not familiar at all with the Torah (except as it might overlap with the Old Testament of the Bible) and I'd be very interested if Lirun wanted to post on that?

This is from the King James Version, the book of Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 1-12. It's the famous section called the Beatitudes, which means something like "the blessed states of the soul".

"And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

My spirutal journey

Guest Post By Daniel, the fasting newbie:

Some more background to my spiritual heritage is in order for you to fully understand where I am and where I'm going. I was born in Sweden which is traditionally a protestant country but we still have strong heathen tradition. My father is brought up without (to my knowledge) any strong religious beliefs. My mother is from a strict Catholic family originally from Norway, she is like me a seeker and she has "tried" everything from Christianity to "new age" so I think I have inherited my spiritual side from her. I have a younger sister on my father's side who is a devoted Lutheran and an uncle on my mother's side that is a Catholic but except for that I have
next to no religion in my family.

I did my confirmation in our church at the age of 15 but that was more for the opportunity to meet girls from other schools than my own and for the gifts you recieve from relatives than anything close to religion.

When I was in my late teens I travelled to England where I was for the first time in touch with "real" religious people. Most of them were Christians and Rastafari. This opened my eyes to religion in a new way as I lived close to people with rituals of worship.

I have also a different source of inspiration to my spiritual side. I love history and while studying history it is inevitable to run in to religion, so I have studied the Tora / Bible / Qur'an on the side of the history books. And I have a hard time to see a big difference between the three of them... But I have no formal training in interpreting religious texts so I might be wrong : )

I believe that there is only one divine power in the universe but different cultures put different faces on it. Some might give it three faces like the Christians and the Rastafari some might go closer to the source of "the light" and just give it one. Even the Hindu with their thousands of gods recognize that there is one single divine power behind them all...

I'm not looking for a religion but for rituals of worship. Since I don't have a "religion" I don't have rules to live by just my sense of morality (based strongly on Christianity) and the one thing I "miss" is a way to live a more "religious" life. The fast is a good way to practice your will and to show your devotion to what I from now on will call "The light" (the face I have put on my god, sexles, not looking like me. Just the pure force behind the faces of all the gods in the universe). Prayer is another ritual of worship that I have borrowed from religion, I pray 5-10 times a year, only when I really feel that I need it. I also give thanks, a prayer of sorts but not the deep prayer I use when in need. I give thanks 3-5 times a day when I'm happy and less when I'm down. The fast will probably be a part of my "religious repertoire" in the future and I will most likely share it with Muslims as Ramadan is a good time to fast as any other and I get the support of others and I can celebrate with fellow believers...

6 feet of earth

Abrahim's post on Sabr- The true lesson of ramadan ended with the namaz-e-janaaza. On which Shaykhspeara commented about how dying at Makkah during Hajj, and then ramadan being the second preference for us mortals to be called back to our Maker, which prompted me to write this post.

At Umra everyday after every namaaz there would be at least 2-3 namaaz-e- janaaza.5 prayers a day and at least 10-15 people passing away. Young ,old,sick, who knows what the cause was, but the call to leave the world behind.
No doubt those who came away alive, could not choose a better place.But I wonder this yeh saari zameen Allah ki hai (all the land is his) and when we die, it is our actions that will speak for us, not the 6 foot of earth we lie under. Still such is the magic of the Holy land to be buried in its soil alone seems to be jannat. But it is the state we die in (ie with wuddhu, performing some rites) that will give us any access to jannat.
So then, would I guess, passing away in a holy month, for those who have lived their lives the right way.
I have members of my family, who have passed away in a foreign land with strict wishes for the body to be buried in the homeland.
I have seen in Makkah, people cutting of pieces of the black cloth, to take home, because they wish to buried with it. This is SHIRK ( to go against Islam) or BIDAA (innovation), ofcourse but such is the belief of our people.
People cling to the Haram (the Holy Mosque in Makkah), and they weep and beat their chests, and ask for forgiveness. Then some go away changed, and some continue their lives of wrongdoing.
They steal a piece of the cloth, or any other item they can lay their hands on, and in that act itself denying the whole purpose of being there. Such is their ardour to be amongst the chosen ones.
When no piece of cloth will gain you access into heaven, nor gallons of zamzam poured onto your grave will cool the fires of hell.
What will save you is your actions, your words, your deeds.Your salvation lies in what you did, because thats all you will take with you.

Yes, ramadan is a holy month, and no doubt a good month to die in, but all that good is only good, when you have done thus.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Reading and reciting the Qur'an

Sorry about that blip--

What I wanted to ask was: How many of the people reading or contributing to this blog are native speakers of Arabic or have enough Arabic to read and recite the Qur'an in Arabic without having to translate in their heads? For you who do speak Arabic, is it difficult to read and recite in the Arabic of the Qur'an as opposed to modern standard or dialect Arabic? I have to confess that it's been difficult for me to enjoy and feel close to the Qur'an, and this Ramadan I'm very grateful to have found Michael Sells' Approaching the Qur'an, which not only translated the Meccan surahs beautifully but gives a lot of background about the structure and style of the text and so on.

So I'm curious-- What language do you prefer when reading the Qur'an to yourself? What about those of you who are bi- or multi-lingual? And for those of you who don't speak Arabic, how does praying in Arabic work for you? (I know it's required; I'm just wondering if it makes you feel closer of more removed when you pray?)

Sleepy this morning-- I apologize if my grammar's horrible!

Sabr - the true lesson of Ramadan

A post after a long gap - today is the fifth of Ramadan in India and the first Juma. It also holiday season with Durga Puja / Dussehra festivities over the weekend.

At home today, attended Namaz-e-Juma at Nahoda Mosque in Calcutta. The sky was overcast but thankfully no rain during Namaz. The multitude spilled out of the mosque and onto the roads... a usual feature here when the faithful suddenly strengthen their faith (perhaps a topic for discussion - Why do Muslims lose their religious fervour after Ramadan?).

The Friday Sermon (Khutba)is traditionally in Arabic (started from the time when the mosque had imams from Egypt)with today's theme being the benefits of Roza. The essence of Ramadan lies in man controlling his 'Nafs' or desires and exercising 'Sabr' or patience.

I recalled hearing the recitation during Tarawih a couple of days earlier in which Allah says 'Seek help through Sabr (Patience) and Salaat (Prayer)' (Quran 2:153) ; the relative importance of 'Sabr' being enphasised even over Prayer. In fact, the early muslim era is a perfect example of 'Sabr' when the faithfuls faced persecution from the Meccans. It is perhaps their patience which strengthened their faith and made them extraordinary men of character and success.

After that Tarawih when I got into my car to return home, I hesitated a bit before putting on the Air Conditioning trying to apply the message of Sabr ... this is going to be a Ramadan of Sabr; and without AC!!

PS: A Janaza (funeral) after Juma Prayers in the mosque... Inna Lillaahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Raji'oun (We are for Allah and to him shall we return). Lucky Soul...to be recalled in Ramadan.

rKaImPaPdUaRn

its so awesome that these two holidays are coinciding this year - we ask for forgiveness and we all fast at the same time!!

wouldnt it be great if the leaders of our region sent apologies to eachother.. and we behaved like a good little region..

thats all the aliens see when they look at us.. see? :D

LIGHT A LANTERN

It is 5.40 am on a friday morning. It is our first friday fast. The call for prayer rings through the air like rain. Washing away the burdens of yesterday. Calling us to pray to cleanse our souls.

A couple of days ago, I got my usual newsletter from Nestlé. They usually send me mails, updating me on their new products etc. Most days I do not have the time to read the newsletter, but something caught my eye, and this is what I got.

Nestlé has organised an event called Light a Lantern. With just one click you will donate 1 Riyal to a needy orphan.

Oh! And there are recipees galore so Hanna, get cooking!

Ramadan in Reading

Mabrook everyone on this amazing blog! Ramadan Kareem to you all from Reading. If you're wondering where is this place then it's a small town in England.. it's also the last stop on the train before you reach London!

Having spent pretty much all of my Ramadans during my adult life in the UK, I am always noting my different experiences. My fasting is generally the same, and I try to always go above the lack of food and water and try to purify myself, but what I find interesting is how my fasting affects those non-Muslims around me.

Every year is different in those around me. I enjoy telling people that we cannot eat, drink and smoke during the daylight hours and then they ask why. I always reply saying it's to give us a sense of equality with those less fortunate than us and to get us patience. This year I got asked if I had to pray to the East! I had to explain the we pray towards Mecca which happens to be East of the UK, but for the Indonesians that would be West!

Anyway I wish you all well and goodness in this special month. I wish all your wishes to come true, and your sins to be erased. I wish you happiness in these happy days sharing the time with those you love.

Ramadan Kareem.

PS: Good work S.Shaira and D.Rebel and all the other contributors to make this a great success!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Question

Guest Post By Abid

I have a question which is not about Ramadan or fasting. It is about our etiquette and rules in Islam.

Every time I visit the mosque, the imam and the others frown on me because I wear two gold rings on my finger.

I like wearing the rings. It is a vanity thing which I find difficult to explain to the imam.

However I would like to know if anybody can give a clear explanation on whether it is permitted to wear rings (made of gold). I did read somewhere that ornaments and amulets that bear images or idols are banned, which is completely acceptable to me. However rings and lockets which carry my initial or my loved ones name or some design – what about them?

Can somebody help me here?

By the way, I am beginning to feel the lack of sleep. Hope it does not affect my work.

Fasting as a value

Guest post by UAE Alias:

I look around and I see people fasting because they were told to do so, no thinking process is involved. They believe that fasting is about ceasing food and drinks on an indicated time interval. Fasting is something like yoga "a discipline aimed at training the consciousness for a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility," not aimed at reaching a state of repletion by the end of the day. Therefore, to reach this aim we should THINK!

When you are hungry think of those who are hungry and have no Maghrib Adhaan with a table full of food, which means they don't know when they are going to get a decent meal. Think of the blessings you have and think of how thankful you are for Allah. Now try to translate those thoughts into actions through helping others more, through appreciating what you have more, through doing your worshipping duties.

Patience is another great value aimed by fasting. Even those muscular guys, they sit on the Iftaar table by the end of the day thinking "Hey Imam, hurry up!" It's a human nature; human beings are so vulnerable and so driven by their feelings. Fasting is dealing with controlling those feelings, not only the hunger and thirst. Muslims are not allowed to eat, drink, have sex, look at/hear anything that may inflame certain feelings, lie, cheat, etc… during fasting.

See how many feelings this fasting process is dealing with and aimed at controlling? Try to get out of this Ramadan experience stronger, think about it so you know what you achieved by the end of this Ramadan. The sense of achievement will encourage you to work on many other aspects of your life, only if you think about this whole fasting concept.

Tunisian Recipe for Tharid (bread soup)

Guest Post By Hannah Picture submitted by www.aicp.org
This is a recipe for a soup that is supposed to have been a favorite of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him). There is apparently a hadith in which he says that Aisha held the same place among his wives that tharid held among food—anyway, it sounds tasty and we’re having it for iftaar tonight, and I share it in case it sounds good and in the spirit of Ramadan to anyone else.

In a large pot, put ¼ c. cooked chickpeas, 5 stalks parsley and 1 stalk celery, a 3 ½ lb. chicken, salt and pepper, 2 Tbsp. ghee or clarified butter, and 2 ½ quarts water. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for an hour or until the chicken is no longer pink.

Discard the herb and celery. Remove the chicken, and take the meat off the bones when it’s cool. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 ½ tsp. baharat (a spice mixture, recipe below) and salt to taste.

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl with ½ Tbsp lemon juice. Whisk a few spoonfuls of the hot soup stock into the eggs, then transfer the mixture back into the soup, whisking rapidly so the eggs don’t curdle from the heat. Keep the soup over very very low heat.

In a large skillet, heat ¼ c. olive oil and brown the chicken meat with 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice (the total lemon juice in the recipe should equal that of one lemon) over medium-high heat. Remove the browned meat to a platter, add ¼ c more olive oil to the pan, and cook slices of dry/day-old bread (about ½ baguette) until lightly golden.

To serve, place bread in the bottom of each bowl, ladle the soup on top, and serve the chicken on the side or in the soup.

To make baharat, mix together 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp dried rose petals, and 1 tsp finely ground black pepper. I substituted ground allspice and a little freshly ground nutmeg for the rose petals. This recipe comes from Clifford Wright’s wonderful book, “A Mediterranean Feast”.

I’d like to add as a question—What are people reading during Ramadan, apart from the Qu’ran?

Working hard in HK...

Open eyes... realize there is light outside... look at watch to confirm it is not a hallucination... curse under breath (that was rather impulsive)... say the Dua for starting the fast... turn over... go to sleep again.

That was little after 6am (yesterday). Now at 2.45am, having got home from office about a half hour ago, I am thinking if I want to risk that again, or should I keep awake till 5am for suhur? There is no doubt in my mind that if I go to sleep now, the chances of waking up at 4.30am are not too high. As a statistician, I would not bet on my odds. Then again, I would not bet on my odds to get to office on time either if I don't sleep now.

The day actually went by surprisingly well given the lack of nutrition. Possibly even better than the day before, when I was late for a meeting in the morning and decided to run most of the way to work and had to spend the rest of the day feeling pretty thirsty.

I have to admit though, AlhamdulIllah, so far I haven't had a hard time dealing with the hunger or the thirst. The thing I really feel is the lack of energy! I was remembering today how when I was 14, I would go out in the afternoon and practice with my basketball team for a couple of hours while fasting. We would be done more than an hour before iftaar time and it just wouldn't matter.

I like to think I'm not too old, but I can't help but notice the difference in energy. I miss it. And its only been 4 days...