Monday, August 31, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ramadan through my eyes

Ramadan (Guest post by L.W Age 13)


The phrase means “May peace be bestowed on you”, it is widely used in the religion of Islam, the Middle East or any other place where Arab cultures or Islamic traditions lie. In the month of Ramadan, we all seek repentance, forgiveness, patience and peace. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar. The Muslims were commanded by Allah to fast for 29-30 consecutive days from dawn till sunset. Every sane and healthy Muslim, man or woman, must fast. Obligatory fasting starts at the age of twelve until you are too old or sick to perform.

We usually wake up dawn, or at the call of the Fajr azaan to eat a light meal to start the day called, suhoor. It is recommended to get up and consume at least a glass of water, for waking up and eating/drinking at this time has its blessings. We also must take an oath that we are fasting for the sake of Allah.

During the day, it is expected of an ideal Muslim to perform extra prayers we call, Sunnah along with the 5 daily other prayers.
Quran is to be read a great deal more in this month.

Later on, when the Maghrib call for prayer is read aloud, muslims sit at the table reading a duaa, or a grace prayer before starting the meal. They break their fasts traditionally with dates and a glass of water. Then they continue to eat what else is being served, but the aim is to keep it a light meal.

At the end of the day, when it is time for the final prayer of the 5 prescribed, Isha, the obligatory prayer is read, followed by extra prayers called Taraweeh. This is a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
It is usually read in pairs of two, the most common being 8-20 Rakahs.

The last 10 days of the holy month are very important, it is believed that the first verses of the Quraan was sent down to the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) by the angel Jibreel or Gabriel in this time. We know not of exactly which date, but it is in the last 10 days. We are advised to stay up all night, reading extra Quran and prayers.

Another event during the last 10 days is Itikaf, a person is to stay in a room or usually the mosque spending all day with Allah, by reading more Quran and performing more prayers. It is obligatory when one has made his intentions that it must be done, but other wise it is voluntary.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ramadan 2009 Mubarak

The month of Ramadan has dawned upon us all with its blessings, mercy and forgiveness. The first Taravih was held today in almost all of India and the first Roza (fast) starts from tomorrow.

It is interesting to note the American President Barack Obama making a special effort to reach out to the Muslim world on the occasion of Ramadan. Here is the video:

Wish everyone a Blessed Ramadan.

Baba Ganoush

Stuffing garlic in the eggplant while you cook it makes it extra tasty. It also gives it a very unique smoky flavor. Traditionally this dip is served with pita bread but I have known people to use it as a vegetable dip as well. No matter what you choose I am sure it will be fantastic. You can not go wrong with a great recipes like this.

1 large eggplant
3garlic cloves, smashed
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Prick eggplant all over carefully with a knife, stick garlic inside of eggplant slits. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and cook for 1 hour turning occasionally.

2. After eggplant has cooled peel skin. Place eggplant in a strainer with small holes and smash with fork allowing extra water to drain.

3. In a bowl add eggplant and continue to mash. Add lemon juice, olive oil and tahini, mix well.

Ramadan in Sweden

"The guest" is arriving tomorrow, at least in Sweden. As every year, we find some countries fasting on one day, and some on another day. Apparently in Sweden the bosnian/turkish community started fasting today (Friday), and the rest tomorrow on Saturday. My husband's Bosnian grandma reacted to us fasting tomorrow instead of today by saying: "Oh you are following the kurds!"

Not quite sure what that meant :)

Either way, it will be a challenging fast for us northerners. Starting the fast at 3.38 am and ending it at 8.26 pm is not exactly a walk in the park...more like a hike in the mountains!

Still, as has famously been pointed out many times before; where there is a will there is a way! And a will there is!

This year will be my first Ramadan as a mom. I am not quite sure how it will affect things... also it is the first Ramadan my husband and I will spend in our own home. I am curious to see what kind of traditions he will bring to the table with his Bosnian heritage!

Will keep you all posted. But for now, I wish all of you out there a blessed and joyous month of fasting and self-improvement, God willing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ramadan: a Spiritual Time in Senegal for a Foreign Student

by Ben Hubbard

Northwestern University

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Salaam Alekum. At this time last year I was fasting. For those of you who don't know, this is the month of Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year. It is observed by Muslims worldwide through fasting and increased concentration on purification of the soul and closeness with God.

While not a Muslim myself, this time last year found me in Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, whose population is 90 percent Muslim. Given that just about everyone I knew was Muslim and would be fasting during Ramadan, I decided, rather reluctantly, to fast as well.

If all my friends had to force themselves through it, I figured the least I could do was try it for myself to better sympathize with what they were going through. When in Rome, do as the Romans; when in Senegal, fast.

While I had resolved to fast for the entire month, I can't say I was particularly excited about it. The prospect of no food or drink from sunrise to sunset for 28 days straight didn't strike me as particularly appealing, especially in a climate much more conducive to thirst than our own.

Senegal is not known for its mild mid day temperatures, which often soar above 90 degrees.

Ramadan started with a bang, a rather large one, that woke me up at 5:30 a.m. as my friend pounded on my door telling me we had to go eat before sunrise or we would never make it to 7 p.m. when we could break our fast.

Reluctantly, I pulled myself out of bed and dragged my half-asleep body to the dining hall where we ate the heavy porridge that was supposed to get us throug h the next 11 hours of non-consumption.

"This is what they have to go through every day," I told myself, proud for being so compassionate and forcing myself to experience the pain and suffering that my friends had to go through every day.

But this is where I got it all wrong. I went into Ramadan thinking that it was a miserable time in which Muslims forced themselves to endure the excruciating discomfort of hunger and thirst out of some cruel religious obligation.

But as the month progressed, I discovered that quite the opposite was true. The early breakfasts I had originally despised became more tolerable. I actually began to look forward to sunset, when we would all gather in friends' rooms to break the fast together while talking and joking about who was hungrier.

As time went on, I discovered that the focus of Ramadan is not, as many outsiders believe, on the pain and self-denial of fasting.

For Muslims worldwide, Ramadan is a time of increased focus on spiritual purity and closeness to God, a time for reconciling differences between people, and a time for visiting with friends and family.

While I had gone into Ramadan thinking that I was "putting myself through it" in order to "better sympathize" with my friends, sympathy was the last thing they needed.

Ramadan was the most treasured time of the year.

When it ended, I was sitting with one of my friends, saying, "I can't believe it's over already." All the fun had just begun.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Authentic Islamic Websites

Asalam Alaykum,

There are so many deviant Islamic sites online now here is a short list alhumdullah of ones that are correct with Quran and Sunnah. May Allah protect them Ameen.

Here are a few inshaa allah ta'ala..

Bidah Alert for 15th of Shaban

Specifying the day of the 15th of Sha'baan by fasting or reciting the Qur.aan or performing naafilah prayers

Question: We see some people specifying the 15th of Sha'baan with particular supplications and reciting the Qur.aan and performing naafilah prayers. So what is the correct position concerning this, and may Allaah reward you with good?

Response: That which is correct is that fasting the 15th of Sha'baan or specifying it with reciting (the Qur.aan) or making (particular) supplications has no basis. So the day of the 15th of Sha'baan is like any other 15th day of other months. So from that which is known is that it has been legislated for a person to fast the 13th, 14th and 15th of every month, however, Sha'baan is characterised unlike the other months in that (except for Ramadhaan) the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) used to fast more in Sha'baan than any other month . So he used to either fast all of Sha'baan or just a little. Therefore, as long as it does not cause difficulty for a person, it is befitting to increase in fasting during Sha'baan in adherence to the example of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam).

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen
al-Bid'u wal-Muhdathaat wa maa laa Asla lahu - Page 612
Fataawa Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen - Volume 1, Page 190

Standing the night of the 15th of Sha'baan in prayer and fasting during it's day

Question: Is standing the night of the 15th of Sha'baan in prayer and fasting during it's day legislated?

Response: Nothing firm and reliable has been established on the authority of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) that he stood in prayer in the night and fasted during the day of the 15th of Sha'baan. So the night of the 15th of Sha'baan is like any other night, and if someone is a regular worshipper during other nights, then he may stand the night in prayer on this night without assuming anything special (because of it being the night of the 15th of Sha'baan). This is because specifying a time for any act of worship requires a authentic proof, so if there is no authentic proof then the act is regarded as an innovation and all innovations are misguidance. Likewsie, regarding specifically fasting during the 15th day of Sha'baan, then no (authentic) proof has been established on the authority of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) to indicate the legislation of fasting on that particular day.

As for that which is mentioned from the ahaadeeth regarding this subject, then all of it is weak as the people of knowledge have indicated. However, whoever has the habit of fasting the 13th, 14th and 15th (of every month), then he can continue and fast during Sha'baan as he fasts during the other months, without assuming anything special about the 15th of Sha'baan. Also, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) used to increase in fasting during this month (Sha'baan), however, he did not particularise the 15th day, rather proceeded as per norm.

Shaykh Ibn Fowzaan
al-Bid'u wal-Muhdathaat wa maa laa asla lahu - Page 614
Noorun alad-Darb Fataawa Shaykh Saalih Ibn Fowzaan - Volume 1, Page 87

Giving sadaqah specifically on the night of 15th of Sha'baan

Question: When my father was alive, he entrusted me to give sadaqah (charity) according to my means on the 15th of Sha'baan every year, and likewise I have been doing this ever since. However, some people have admonished me for doing so saying it is not permissible. So is giving sadaqah on the night of the 15th of Sha'baan permissible according to the willment of my father or not? Kindly advise us and may Allaah reward you with good.

Response: To specify the giving of sadaqah on the night of the 15th of Sha'baan every year is an innovation, and despite your father having entrusted you with that, it is not permissible. It is befitting you give this sadaqah without specifying the night of the 15th of Sha'baan, rather do so every year and in whichever month, but without particularising any one month (on a consistent basis). However, it is permissible to do so in the month of Ramadhaan (for the evidence which indicates so).

And with Allaah lies all success and may Allaah send prayers and salutations upon our Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and his family and his companions.

The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa
al-Bid'u wal-Muhdathaat wa maa laa Asla lahu - Page 611
Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa.imah lil-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa. - Fatwa No. 9760


Monday, August 03, 2009

Ramadan Questions and Answers

Q: How did the fast during Ramadhan become obligatory for Muslims?
The revelations from God to the Prophet Muhammad that would eventually be compiled as the Quran began during Ramadhan in the year 610, but the fast of Ramadhan did not become a religious obligation for Muslims until the year 624. The obligation to fast is explained in the second chapter of the Quran: "O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint...Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)

Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?
One of the main benefits of Ramadhan are an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as work and education.

Q: Why does Ramadhan begin on a different day each year?
Because Ramadhan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadhan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Q: What is Lailat ul-Qadr?
Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power") marks the anniversary of the night on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receiving revelations from God, through the angel Gabriel. An entire chapter in the Quran deals with this night: "We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power: and what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God's permission, on every errand. Peace!...This until the rise of morn." (Chapter 97) Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadhan.

Q: Is it difficult to perform the fast in America?
In many ways, fasting in American society is easier than fasting in areas where the climate is extremely hot. This year at least, the number of daylight hours will be less than when Ramadhan occurs during the spring or summer. In Muslim countries, most people are observing the fast, so there are fewer temptations such as luncheon meetings, daytime celebrations and offers of food from friends. Many American Muslims would prefer a daytime work shift during Ramadhan so that they may break the fast with their families and attend evening prayers.

Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?
Employers, co-workers and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadhan and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for its physical demands. Special consideration can be given to such things as requests for vacation time, the need for flexible early morning or evening work schedules and lighter homework assignments. It is also very important that Muslim workers and students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadhan. Eid is as important to Muslims as Christmas and Yom Kippur are to Christians and Jews. A small token such as a card (there are Eid cards available from Muslim bookstores) or baked goods given to a Muslim co-worker during Eid ul-Fitr would also be greatly appreciated. Hospital workers should be aware that injections and oral medications might break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition exempts them from fasting.

Q: Do people normally lose weight during Ramadhan?
Some people do lose weight, but others may not. It is recommended that meals eaten during Ramadhan be light, but most people can't resist sampling special sweets and foods associated with Ramadhan.

Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Explaining Ramadan

Who Must Fast? Fasting is compulsory for those who are mentally and physically fit, past the age of puberty, in a settled situation (not traveling), and are sure fasting is unlikely to cause real physical or mental injury.

Exemptions from Fasting (some exemptions are optional)
  • Children under the age of puberty (Young children are encouraged to fast as much as they are able.)
  • People who are mentally incapacitated or not responsible for their actions
  • The elderly
  • The sick
  • Travelers who are on journeys of more than about fifty miles
  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers
  • Women who are menstruating
  • Those who are temporarily unable to fast must make up the missed days at another time or feed the poor.
Special Events
  • Special prayers, called taraweeh, are performed after the daily nighttime prayer.
  • Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power" or "Night of Destiny") marks the anniversary of the night on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receiving revelations from God, through the angel Gabriel. Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadan.
Traditional Practices
  • Breaking the daily fast with a drink of water and dates
  • Reading the entire Quran during Ramadan
  • Social visits are encouraged.
Eid ul-Fitr ("Festival of Fast-Breaking") Prayers at the End of Ramadan

  • Eid begins with special morning prayers on the first day of Shawwal, the month following Ramadan on the Islamic lunar calendar.
  • It is forbidden to perform an optional fast during Eid because it is a time for relaxation.
  • During Eid Muslims greet each other with the phrase "taqabbalallah ta'atakum," or "may God accept your deeds" and "Eid Mubarak" (eed-moo-bar-ak), meaning "blessed Eid."

Council on American-Islamic Relations

The Purpose of Ramadan

The month of Ramadan is not like any other month; its purpose is to rid man of those habits which he has accumulated throughout the rest of the year. It is a month that prepares man for the remaining eleven months by teaching him discipline and self control. Thus, Allah has made some acts which are beloved to man, like eating, drinking and fulfilling one’s desires, Haraam. If man can control these desires in this month, which are usually permissible for him, then he can surely control himself from other desires which are not permissible throughout the remaining months.

This blessed month has been sent by Allah to His bondsmen so that can create a connection and draw closer to Allah by reaping the many rewards that lie in this month. A person who has been given the opportunity to be present in this month can take this as a sign that Allah Ta’ala has given him another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His paradise through worship in this month.

In this month we will be given many opportunities, as mentioned above to reform ourselves and seek forgiveness for our bad sins. This is a month of reformation and self reflection, where a believer can ponder of over spirituality and piety and bring a change for the better. The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has clearly stated:

مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]

It is clear from this Hadeeth which has been narrated on the authority of Hadrhat Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه that Allah is not in need of any person to leave his food or drink. Allah is far from needs and desires. However, it is the mercy of Allah that He wants each and every person to leave those things which will lead him to the hellfire and by controlling one’s desires throughout this month it is hoped that one will be able to control himself throughout the following months also.

For those who can relate, we can look at the month of Ramadhan like an MOT test. It is vital to be on form during this test. Once the test is over then we should be at a standard where we can continue through the following months. Indeed, there will be repairs and faults in between, but these will be minor and can be dealt with on the spot.

May Allah Ta’ala make us successful in this test, for the one who is unsuccessful in this test may not be given an opportunity for a re-test.

ان جبرئيل عرض لي فقال بعد من ادرك رمضان فلم يغفر له قلت آمين
“Jibreel came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have his sins forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say ameen.” So I said “Ameen” [Mustadrak al-Haakim]

In summary, the month of Ramadhan has been made so that mankind can take benefit of the merits and blessings contained within to change themselves for the better and by doing so create a bond with Allah that will continue throughout the eleven remaining months.

It is a month within which Allah has instructed us to place more emphasis on actions regarding our Deen (religion) as opposed to our daily routine and emphasis on worldly matters.

I pray that this information comes in use and aids the readers in preparing for the month of Ramadhan.

As a reminder, please commit the following Du’a to memory and make a habit of reciting it daily until the day of Ramdhan.

اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان
“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan.” [Musnad-e-Ahmed]

Source: Collection of Treasures
by Maulana Zain