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~ Muslim by Choice ~
"Allah! None has the right to be worshipped, but He." Surat Al-Baqarah: 255

Celebrate Eid

Friday, October 28, 2005

What does Eid celebrate again and again? God's bounty and His mercy
By Khurram Murad.

As the sun sets on Ramadhan, multitudes of Expectant jubilant eyes become glued to the skies, eager to sight the new moon. For that new moon heralds the coming of the Eid day - one of the two days Muslims all over the world celebrate each year in thanksgiving festivities and rejoicing.

What does Eid celebrate again and again? In what do we rejoice? Obviously, in the first instance, we are thankful for that grace from God which carried us through the month of earnest, joyous labour, of constant, faithful toil, spent in fasting, prayers, and Quran recitation. But upon a little reflection, we can immediately see that our joyous festivities, in fact, hail and celebrate that unique moment when God's infinite mercy, the first light of His last guidance, dawned upon mankind.That is why Ramadhan has been reserved for the Fasting; that is why the end of Ramadhan has been earmarked for rejoicing:

'O mankind, now there has come unto you an admonition from your Lord, and a healing for all that you may rejoice; for it is better than all that they may amass!(Al-Quran 10:57-58)

'Come, ye thankful people, come', the Eid seems to be echoing the Quranic call - 'that you complete the number (of Fasts) and proclaim the greatness of God for having guided you, and so that you may render thanks and rejoice' (Al-Quran 2:185).

How many and priceless are the riches and gifts from God to us, how abundant are His bounties - who could count them? Yet the most priceless undoubtedly are his words that illuminate the pathways of life and guide the steps of His servants to success, here and in the Hereafter the joy and the glory of those who submit to them. Hence, from the moment the new moon heralds the coming of the Eid day the constant cry of the heart and tongue is 'God alone is great; to God belongs all thankful praise'. This cry remains on the lips while the festivities of Eid remain, in response to God's command.

The two Muslim festivals are just one measure of how Islam emphatically and totally centers their lives in the Quran. If Eid al fitr celebrates the beginning of its coming down, the other festival, Eid al adha, marks its completion. For if in Ramadhan is the night in which the first revelation came, on the Day of Hajj came the verse proclaiming the perfection and completion of the guidance it bought (Al-Quran 5:3).

All our days are crowded by God's blessing, the varying seasons have their own rounds of bounties, but no day and no season can be like the day and season which were crowded by God's guidance.

No people live without festivals of their own. They are essential means for keeping collective consciousness, for sustaining unity and cohesiveness. But no festival is like Eid, it is unique among all of them.Some centre their celebrations on the person of the one who created their identity, but not Eid; it does not celebrate even the birth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the last Messenger who bought Devine Guidance to mankind, and a great mercy from God unto the worlds, rather it celebrates the sending down the word of God. the Quran, and its triumph. Some rejoice in the beginning of the New Year, but not Eid; it rejoices in the dawn upon mankind of a new era of light and peace. Some celebrate the end of the dark winter days and the coming of the spring light and warmth, but not Eid; it celebrates the end of the dark, cold night of ignorance and the coming of a warm spring of Justice and Equality. Some give thanks for the harvest of grain, fruit or cattle, but not Eid; it gives thanks for the harvest of the richest blessings of God for soul and intellect, for mind and heart, for living and conduct.Could not one say that Eid raises man's festivities from the Physical, from level of flesh and blood, space and time, to the spiritual and intellectual and then roots them there, symbolising what Islam does to mans entire life, vision and hope. Thus, while providing a radical new mould for Muslim collective memory and identity, Eid symbolises a radically new basis for human unity as well.

Those who form their identities by persons and events, temporal and physical, erect barriers that are insurmountable. Who can change his race, colour, place of birth, or who can share in the physical harvests of another except by their permission? But not so in Islam, says the Eid; anyone who is prepared to turn away from all the false gods, and return to his Creator and surrender himself unto Him by following his guidance, can always join a new unity.

Yet, the solemn, spiritual character of Eid does not rob Muslims of delights, pleasures and merriment that must accompany any human celebrations. Muslims begin to look ahead to the day as Ramadhan sets in. As Eid approaches, joyful expectations increases, the day is more talked of. Houses are cleaned and decorated, especially on the day and night before. New clothes are prepared, for everyone must wear his best. Near sunset all turn their eyes to the horizon – in corners, in open grounds. Some exchange cards and gifts – a recent addition. There is no selfish spending spree though; Eid is not a commercial venture. Delicious meals are cooked and, in sharing, heartily eaten. But not a morsel should be thrown away. Every worldly thing is from God, a bounty, and must therefore be made use of to honour His occasion, to rejoice in His greatest bounty. It is this spirit which pervades Eid celebrations.

Ramadhan is a time to reap; and obligatory good deed increases seventy folds; a voluntary one becomes like the obligatory; the doors of Hell are closed and the Satan's are chained, those of Paradise are opened. It has a night better than a thousand months. It is a period of heightened devotion and quickened piety, of self-discipline and generous sharing. Only the festival of Eid softens the sadness in the heart, the tears in the eyes, as Ramadhan is bid farewell. It seems, does it not, to be over too soon, to have sped too quickly? Eid brings joy and promises a certain of Ramadhan (for Eid literally, means to recur, to come again and again) and incites to even greater celebrations that lie in store for those who proclaim the Greatness of God, mention His name and live by His name, in hearts and in homes, market places and corridors of power, thereby seeking admittance to God's pleasure and rewards, here and in the Hereafter.

Women & Their Role

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bismillah Ir-Rahmaan Ir-Raheem

I thought about just posting the article - but I believe it deserves to stay with its rightful owner. I really think this is something for us, as Muslim women, to really contemplate.

To see the article, click here.

Before the Sand Slips Away

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Before the Sand Slips Away by Muhammad Alshareef

"Hasn't there come upon man a period of time when they were nothing remembered?"- Insaan 76/1

Imagine that you are on the beach. You are four years old. The camp leader has told you that you have five minutes to build a great castle. "Quickly," your three year old Ameer tells you, "the sand here is too soft. Run closer to the water and get better sand!"

Off you run and grab, with your tiny hands, as much sand as you can hold. But, as you run back, plop, plop, plop, you feel the sand slipping through your fingers. You can do nothing about it. In your haste, all the sand has slipped away. Bang. The competition is over. This is the analogy of our lives. This is the analogy of our time in Ramadan.

For many living in Western countries, Ramadan is passed daily with 9 to 5 jobs or school - nights where we may or may not go for Taraweeh. A peak at the TV (may Allah protect us) and the night is over. Back to work where all around us people are eating and drinking from crystal water fountains. Blink. Ramadan is over.

The question of the hour is: how do we take full advantage of this gift of Allah? This is our topic, before the sands of Ramadan slip away.

How many years have we been fasting Ramadan? 10 or 15 or 40 years? Are we 10 or 15 or 40 times better? Or, does it seem like we have arrived back at the drawing board every time Ramadan comes around? All acts of worship are for our own benefit! Don't do it and harm befalls you, which is the way life was programmed.

Ramadan is no small matter. It is one of the pillars of this Deen of Islam - without it one's Islam would not be complete. In this month, Rasul Allah - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - would intensify his worship of Allah ta'ala. In doing so, he laid the foundation for his Ummah after him to emulate.

Ibn AlQayyim - rahimahullaah - wrote: "From his blessed guidance - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - in Ramadan is that he used to intensify and diversify his actions of worship. So, for example, Jibreel used to rehearse the Qur'an with him during the nights of Ramadan. When Jibreel would visit him, he would intensify the amount of Sadaqah that he would give. He was the most generous out of all people - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - and Ramadan was the time when he was most generous. In Ramadan, he would fill his time with Sadaqah, treating people kindly, reciting Qur'an, performing Salah, remembering Allah, and performing I'tikaaf." - Zaad AlMa'aad

Observers described the way Allah's Messenger- sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - gave like Ar-Reeh AlMursalah, like the blessed wind. Why? The blessed wind, as they knew it, was a wind that brought coolness to everyone - no one was denied its blessing. The blessed wind, additionally, was not lazy in bringing its goodness to the people. It would come swiftly to all. This is how Rasul Allah - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - was described, and this is how our service to humanity should be: swift and encompassing. Bi idhnillah.

Below are ten ideas to and help make the most of Ramadan - before it slips through our hands.
Idea one: Compound Your Siyaam!If you told your financial broker that you just want to keep money in the bank and save it, he would say, "You are wrong." "Invest it in the stock market. That way your money will be compounded - you will earn multiple times what you put in." So now I ask the question: Wouldn't you love to get two times the reward of fasting Ramadan?


Zayd ibn Khaalid AlJuhanee narrates that the Prophet - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - said, "Whoever gives a fasting person (food) to break his or her fast, he (the one feeding) will get the reward equivalent to the (fasting persons) reward - without diminishing anything from the reward of the (fasting person)."

How do we do this? Ask any Muslim relief agency if they have a feed a fasting person program. Subhan Allah, you may find that it only costs $1 to feed a person! So, for $30 you could come out of Ramadan having doubled your reward.

And, we should not forget the needy in our city. We think that in a 'modern' western country or city there are no needy people. That is not true. There are many needy families that are waiting to be discovered. Ask around and you will find a gold mine of people to help, in your own backyard.

I speak about Washington, DC. If one was to have a food drive, all the food could go to needy Muslim families in DC and still not be enough! I've seen this with my own eyes. How blessed it would be to get the youth that just hang out in the back of the Masjid during Taraweeh to take on this task. Organize the collection of the food and distribute it. It can happen! It just takes a leader with vision to set this up for the youth and all the good people who want to make a difference.

Idea two: Operation Guide the Youth

Often in Ramadan, there are khaatirahs, words of wisdom, halaqahs and reminders, all geared to the adults praying Taraweeh. The youth, it seems, are being disrespectful by talking in the back of the masjid.

"Shhhhhsh!" someone shouts at them. "Listen or go outside (and we prefer if you just go outside)!" So, quietly they sneak out of the Masjid and chat and chill all Ramadan. How Eman boosting is that? Remember, Allah commands that you protect your wife and children also.

Try this: Just like there are things for the adults, we could have Ramadan activities and reminders geared specifically for the youth. And, it need not be 'in' the Masjid. Let's say the youth like to chat and chill outside in the parking lot. Why not organize the activity there? Yes, on the basketball court or in the parking lot. Have a 5-minute Khatirah, play games with them, and give them some noble projects to complete in Ramadan.

Again, making a difference like this needs a leader with vision, one who recognizes that the youth are his or her responsibility. I pray that person is you!

Idea Three: Turnoff TV Month

Every parent knows that when they want their child to do well in their studies they tell them, "no TV." If this is for Dunya, then how about someone who wants to excel in Ramadan?

"Fasting and the Qur'an will come and testify on behalf of the 'Abd on the Day of Resurrection.

The Fasting will say: O my lord, I denied him food and desires, so allow me to be a means for him to enter paradise. And the Qu'ran will say: O my Lord, I denied him sleep at night so allow me to be a means for him to enter Paradise. And (he will be entered into paradise) because of those two." - Musnad Ahmad

Try this: Announce in your household that Ramadan is the official turnoff TV month. Be an example for others and do fun and rewarding things instead. Visit people, take on a Ramadan feeding project, increase yourself in knowledge, etc. Turn off the TV and turn on life.

Idea Four: Dua' Time

Ramadan is the month of making dua' to Allah, an essential compliment to fasting. Rasul Allah - sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam - said, "There are three persons dua' that will be accepted (by Allah). The fasting person, the oppressed one, and the traveler."

Try this: Make a list of all your goals in life. Make a section for your a) personal goals; b) spiritual goals; c) economic goals; and d) contribution goals. Every day during Ramadan, take out your list and make dua' to Allah to grant you the tawfeeq to accomplish your goals. Insha Allah, you will attain your goals with hard work, both during and after Ramadan.

Idea Five: Parent Appreciation Month

We all know that the one who wakes us up for Suhoor is our mom. I know it was for me. If not for her alarm clock, her early morning cooking, her motherly love to go and wake everyone up . well, let's just say our iftars would have become our suhoors. If you are living away from your parents, you know what I'm talking about.

Remember the hadith of the person who doesn't reach Ramadan with forgiveness? The end part of the Hadith says they found their parents in old age and they were not a means for him to enter Jannah!

So, why not announce it loud and clear this month, "Thank you Mom! Thank you Dad!" Let's take care of them this month with extra calls, extra hugs, and extra love.

Idea Six: Masjid Power Hour

During Ramadan, why not spend a few more moments in the Masjid before taking off. This could be done after Fajr or after Asr. Sit back, grab a Qur'an and remember Allah. As your time in the Masjid increases, bi idhnillaah, your love and heart attachment will increase. Make this your personal Masjid power hour.

Idea Seven: Bad Habit Buster

Many people already do this. They may have a smoking problem or a TV addiction. When Ramadan comes around they say, "I'm going to train myself to stop smoking or to stop watching excessive TV by abandoning it throughout Ramadan."

So, you don't have a smoking problem huh? Everyone has a bad habit and everyone has a recurring sin they pray they could desist from. Make Ramadan the training month by telling yourself to go without this sin for the entire month. Then, if Allah grants one Tawfeeq to complete the month, one should continue to pray to Allah to keep them away from the sin after Ramadan.

Idea Eight: The Gift Groove

Have you ever noticed how beloved a bottle of perfume is when it is handed out by a little four year old Muslim? Everyone loves a gift.

Why not take this a step forward? Go to your local Islamic bookstore and request a bulk purchase of some beneficial Islamic materials, something in the $1 range. Then, hand it out to everyone that comes to your masjid. Bi idhnillaah, you will find for the little effort one may put, people all throughout Ramadan will be learning from the gift.

Idea Nine: Ramadan Muslims, Convert!

It is true that on the first day of Ramadan, the number of Muslims in the local Masjid multiplies considerably. And, it is a sad moment on the first day after Ramadan that the Masjid attendance drops significantly.

This idea is Operation No More Ramadan Muslims. We want people all year long!

Ibn Abbas I'tikaaf: A man came to Ibn Abbas while he was doing I'tikaaf in the masjid and asked him for his assistance. So, Ibn Abbas stood to leave and people around him warned him, 'but you are in I'tikaaf'. He replied, "To assist my brother in fulfilling his need is more beloved to me than to perform I'tikaaf for 2 months in the Masjid of Rasul Allah - sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam."

Try this: Make a 'compassion crew' that reaches out specifically to Ramadan Muslims. Extra special attention is showered on them and roles of responsibility are delegated to them so that they can participate more in the Masjid. Invite them to special Iftars where they are the center of attention.

With this extra attention and responsibility, bi idhnillaah, every month will be Ramadan for them and the masjids will be full all year.

Idea Ten: Home HalaqahMuslim families often keep their worship for the Masjid, but why not make Muslim family time at home. It could work like this: After Taraweeh or Asr, the family gathers together for 15 minutes. There are many things you could do in your Halaqah, the main thing is that you set time aside for it.

For example, each family member may recite a few verses of Qur'an. Or, one of the kids can read a story of the Sahaabah so that all family members can be reminded. Or, each family member can speak about the blessings of Allah upon them and what they have in their lives for which they are thankful.

Just 15 minutes for the home Halaqah. For the entire family, bi idhnillah, it will be a spring of Eman.

Ten ideas to enhance your Ramadan:

Idea one: Compound Your Siyaam!
Idea two: Operation Guide the Youth
Idea Three: Turnoff TV Month
Idea Four: Dua' Time
Idea Five: Parent Appreciation Month
Idea Six: Masjid Power Hour
Idea Seven: Bad Habit Buster
Idea Eight: The Gift Groove
Idea Nine: Ramadan Muslims, Convert!
Idea Ten: Home Halaqah

The past saw Muslims that spent their nights of Ramadan awake praying to Allah. It saw days where people, for the sake of Allah, went thirsty.

They knew that this season may never return on them and they heard Allah's words "Ayyaman Ma'doodaat"- a limited number of days. Don't let the sand of Ramadan slip away.

Struggling to Stay Faithful - Ramadan 2005

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bismillar Ir-Rahmaan Ir-Raheem:

Note: This post was written prior to Rammadan, but sat as a draft all this time. Had the chance today, so I thought I'd post it.

You'll have to forgive if this is not put together too well - I wrote this yesterday and then hit submit only to have it time out and delete the entire blog entry. I thought it might be important, so I tried writing it again . . . so here goes:

Why is it such a struggle to stay faithful to Allah? What is wrong with our hearts? We find ourselves living our lives day in and day out and paying little attention to what is truly important - our relationship with Allah. We have something happen to us . . . or we hear of tragedies happening to other people and then we start to reflect . . . only to return to our previous state of forgetfulness once things calm down.

When we become stressed . . . we go play a game . . . we go watch tv . . . we need to relax . . . we need to take a break from everything. However, when the Prophet (saw) and his companions became stressed for any reason, they would turn to the Qur'an - read it and reflect upon it. It calmed their hearts. In times of stress they would also pray and feel great comfort. Why don't we use these great gifts that Allah has given us to improve ourselves and to uplift us? Why do we always have to turn to worldly comforts? The Qur'an is a great blessing that only those who truly recite it daily and reflect on its lesson will truly ever know. I want to become one of those people, insha'Allah.

For more on this topic: "Modern Stress and Its Cure from Qur'an"
and "Dealing with Worries and Stress"

There are many things ailing us these days . . . causing dissention amongst ourselves . . . causing division . . . not to mention the bad habits and ailments that plague our very own hearts. When are we going to wake up and realize that we are becoming our own worst enemy? There are many things that we do these days . . . there are many things about the way in which we think these days that are going to harm us if we don't WAKE UP and realize our current situation.

Think about it - during the time of the prophet (pbuh) and the time of the righteous predecessors, people took seriously even the small sins and strived to cleanse their hearts of them. Nowadays, we just swat the small sins away as if they are bothersome flies around us that are of little importance. Don't we realize that the small sins make room for greater sins? Besides that - the small sins, when gathered up, can amount to a whole lot.

For more on this topic: "All Virtures, Big and Small" & "The Danger of Taking Sins Lightly"
and "Abandoning Disobedience" & "Importance of Abstaining from Sin"

What's worse, many of us have not yet properly educated ourselves about what constitutes great and minor sins and we commit great sins without even knowing their impact on ourselves and society. We can't claim ignorance when we have all this knowledge before us . . . we just need to take the step and start looking for the information!

For more on this topic: "25 Great Sins in Islam" & "The Major Sins in Islam"

What about those of us who say certain actions are "just Sunnah". I've heard people explain that they don't follow a certain sunnah action (wear hijab, grow the beard, etc.) because they don't want to be a hypocrite. They don't want their outward appearance to show that they have great iman while they do not. Yet, how do we expect to ever gain this iman when we aren't willing to sacrifice and work for it? If it were so easy, then everyone would be a Muslim! The way to increase our iman and the way to improve our standing with Allah is to do what is pleasing to Him. Whenever we make a step closer to Allah, Allah will make that next step even easier.

A hadith Qudsi states, "...Whoever draws near to me a handspan, I will come to him the extent of a forearm. Whoever draws near to me the length of a forearm, I will come to him the length of two outstretched arms. Whoever comes to me walking, I will come to him at speed. And whoever comes to me with the Earth’s weight in sin without associating anything with me, I will come to him with forgiveness of equal measure.” [Sahîh Muslim]

With that promise . . . don't we realize the great achievements we can make in just moving one step closer to Allah (and then another) by following that which He has provided us . . . the Qur'an and Sunnah? What exactly does it mean when something is "just Sunnah" anyway. According to Allah, we are supposed to follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). The way I look at it . . . the Qur'an is a Map and the Sunnah is our guide. We follow the map and refer to the guide to make sure we are not going astray. Otherwise, we may never make it to our destination.

For more on this topic: "Vilifying the Sunnah"
and "The Status of the Sunnah in Islam" & "Following the Messenger of Allah is a Must"

In the long run, we need to realize that the first step to improving our condition is repentance - true repentance. There is no greater promise than the promise of Allah in Surat Al-Zumar:

"Tell them (O Muhammad): 'O My slaves who have wronged their souls, do not despair of Allah's mercy, for Allah will forgive all the sins. He is indeed very Forgiving, very Compassionate, Turn to Him then, and obey Him (in all your affairs).'" (Al-Zumar:53,54).

and in a Hadith Qudsi: Allah, the Almighty, has said:

"O Son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it."

For more on this topic: "Repentance" & "I Would Like to Repent . . . But"

We need to start working on these issues now . . . we cannot wait until tomorrow because there is no promise that tomorrow will ever come. Let's take this time . . . this Ramadan to improve our relationship with Allah . . . We need to walk out of this Ramadan a new person . . . and we need to take with us the good habits and practices we have learned this Ramadan to improve our condition.

"The Wisdom Behind Fasting"
"Reaping the Benefits of Rammadan"
"Impotant Lessons from Rammadan"
"Repentance in Rammadan"
"Sunnahs Neglected in Rammadan"
"How the Prophet Fasted in Rammadan"
"Reading the Qur'an in Rammadan"

And, my final words of advice can be found in this article:

"It's Time"

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