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Islamic Months

The 12 Months:
  1. Muharram
  2. Safar
  3. Rabiul-Awwal
  4. Rabi-uthani
  5. Jumadi-ul-Awwal
  6. Jumadi-uthani
  7. Rajab
  8. Sha'ban
  9. Ramadan
  10. Shawwal
  11. Zhul-Q'ada
  12. Zhul-Hijja
 

Muharram & Aashura

 
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MUHARRAM is the first month of the Islamic, Hijrah calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which Allah Ta'ala says, 'The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve (in a year) - So ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred: That is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves therein.' (Surah Taubah).

The four months, according to authentic Ahaadith, are the months of Zhul-Qa`dah, Zhul Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these four months was observed in the Shari'ah of all the Ambiyaa (Prophets) (AS).

'Allah Ta'ala made them (i.e. the four months) sacred and increased their sanctity. Hence declared a sin therein more severe and increased the virtue of good deeds and (also) the reward thereof.' (Ibn Katheer).

THE MONTH OF MUHARRAM

The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadan is the fast during Allah's month of Muharram and the best of Salaats besides the Fardh (obligatory Salaat) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight). (Sahih Muslim).

THE DAY OF AASHURA (10th OF MUHARRAM)

The tenth of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is a very significant day in the Islamic calendar. The holy prophet Mohammed (SAW) has exhorted the Ummah to fast on this day. Hadhrat Aaisha (RA) reports that Nabi (SAW) ordered the observance of the fast of Aashura. However, when the fast of Ramadan became compulsory, Nabi (SAW) left the fast of Aashura (i.e. the compulsion). Thereafter, whosoever desired kept this fast and whosoever desired, (not to keep it) did not observe this fast'. ( Bukhari, Vol 1).

Ibn Abbaas (RA) says, 'I did not see Rasulullah (SAW) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to over other days, but this day (of Aashura) and the month of Ramadan ( Bukhari, Vol. 1).

VIRTUE OF THE FAST OF AASHURA

With regard to the blessing of this fast, Nabi (SAW) was asked regarding it's virtue. He answered, 'It is a compensation for the sins of the past year.' i.e. the sins of one year that has just gone by will be forgiven. Muslim, Vol. 1).
Note: Only minor sins are forgiven. For the forgiveness of major sins, Towbah (repentance) is a prerequisite.

THE FAST OF AASHURA

Ibn Abbaas (RA) narrates that when Nabi (SAW) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura, he inquired, 'What is the significance of this day on which you fast?' They replied, 'This is the day Allah saved the prophet Moosa (AS) and his followers and drowned Fir'oun and his army, thus Moosa (AS) fasted on this day as a token of thanksgiving. Therefore we too fast on this day.' ( Muslim, Vol 1).
Rasulullah (SAW) said, 'We are more worthy of Moosa (AS) and nearer to him than you.' Thereafter, he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah (companions) to fast on this day. ( Muslim, Vol. 1)

Rasulullah (SAW) is reported to have said, 'Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose (the way of) the Jews. Fast a day before it (also) or a day after it.' (Baihaqi, Vol 4)

Hence, one should fast for two days: Either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th. To fast only on the 10th of Muharram is MAKROOH (reprehensible) and bears semblance to the Jews.

GENEROSITY TO ONE'S FAMILY

Besides fasting on the day of Aashura, being generous to one's family and spending more than what is normally spent on food, etc. is an act of great merit. It is mentioned in a Hadith, 'He who will be generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.'

FALLACIOUS BELIEF

The day of Aashura is regarded by many people as the day of mourning the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA). To attribute the significance of Aashura to Sayyiduna Hussain (RA)'s martyrdom is totally baseless because the sanctity of Aashura is proven, beyond doubt, from the time of Rasulullah (SAW), whilst Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) was martyred fifty years after the holy prophet Mohammed (SAW) left this earthly abode. The fact that the martyrdom of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) occurred on the Day of Aashura has absolutely no bearing on the significance of this day nor is the sanctity of this day derived from this event. On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyiduna Hussain (RA) that he was martyred on the Day of Aashura.

RESPECT WHAT ALLAH HAS HONORED, FOR VERILY TO HONOR THINGS DUE TO VIRTUE WHICH ALLAH HAS ACCORDED THEM IS AMONG THE TRAITS OF THE INTELLIGENT.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HIJRAH (Islamic Year)

A religion contains within itself entirely all that it needs for its later growth and development. The 'Hijrah' migration of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and those of his Sahaaba (companions) (Radhiyallaahuanhum) who were 'the first to lead the way' from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah in order to settle down there was not only an important event but a turning point in the history of Islam which evidently contributed to the progress and generation of Islamic heritage.

Undoubtedly the Hijrah took place according to Allah Almighty's Will; since the Prophet of Allah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) would take no such step except under Allah's instructions in Whose Knowledge migration must have been the required course. In the eyes of the Muslims, the birth of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and forty years later, the beginning of the revelation of the Noble Qur'an were two events of singular importance but the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) signified neither of the events as the commencing epochs of a calendar reckoning. Before the Hijrah to Madinah Munawwarah, a number of companions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had migrated to Abyssinia and were there when the Hijrah took place. But the migration to Abyssinia too was not made the starting point of the Islamic calendar. Thus, after the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) having signified the beginning of the calendrical reckoning from Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah). The second Khalifah, Hazrath Umar (Radhiyallaahuanhu) made it compulsory for the dates to be inscribed on all official correspondence.

Basically the Hijrah institutioned three important aspects of life: social, economics and political.

In the social aspect when the first revelation was made to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) a period of twelve (12) years was devoted by him to inculcate religion in the minds of individuals while no pattern of a collective life based on true religious concepts could be presented to the world. The situation in Makkah Mukarramah during the earlier part of the Prophet's (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) career was that in a house-hold while the father was a believer, the son was an infidel, or the wife a believer and the husband an infidel. There were only a few houses where the entire family were Muslims. The status of the Muslim individuals in Makkah Mukarramah gave rise to the misconception that Islam, or believing in, the Noble and in the prophet was one's personal affair; it pertained only to the hereafter and had nothing to do with collective life.

It was only after Hijrah that people began to see clearly that Islam is a way of life which pays attention to and reforms every facet of human existence, giving directions regarding almost every moment of one's conscious time. The Hijrah also made the Arabs in particular, to see as to what was a Muslim house-hold and a Muslim society. Hence, only after this event the world could see the aspect of social decency and decorum under Islam.

A second reason for the importance of Hijrah is in view of its economic aspect. The economic effects were due to the permanent migration to Madinah Munawwarah by the Muslims. The matchless hospitality of the people of Madinah Munawwarah to the migrating Muslims, not only provided a shelter and a new peaceful home for the newcomers, but the Ansars (of Madinah) with a note-worthy passion of self-sacrifice accepted the incoming Muslims with great zeal and love. When after Hijrah, the companions and the followers of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) shifted from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah, trade came into contact with agriculture and artisanship resulting in an economic revolution for the place. The migrants from Makkah having been taught and reformed by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) himself for nearly 13 years, were not carefree and irresponsible men; they were God-fearing and righteous. The Ansars helped the migrants to the extent of being ready to divide all their belonging between themselves and the Muhaajirs. But the latter were not prepared to accept a status of mere idle dependants; so every one of them adopted ways and means to earn righteously for their own selves and did not like to be permanent burden on others.

Initially, the Muhaajirs worked as laborers in the fields and gardens and construction works. Later they, being traders, started small trading activities which brought them into an economic competition with the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah. One aspect of the economy revolution was that the Muhaajir traders paid the right price to the growers for their produce since Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had forbidden the practice of acquiring products on reduced prices in return of loans given to the artisans or to the cultivators.

Thus, it was only after Hijrah that agriculture, industry and trade freely helped one another to bring about an integrated, balanced and unfettered economy for the Muslims.

The third reason which made the Hijrah a very important event is the political freedom for the Muslims. Before Hijrah the Muslims had no say in any matter, internal or external. They were a minority against whom the hearts of the majority were full of enmity - the Muslims were an insignificant part of a set of dominating unbelievers in Makkah Mukarramah.

The Hijrah made the Muslims masters of their internal affairs, external relations and matters relating to war and peace. There was great understanding among the Muslims, for instance, in case a difference occurred between the Muslims and non-Muslims, the final decision was to be made by the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). This showed that an autonomous Muslim set up was coming into existence. This was a beginning of a city-state which, within the life-time of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) or within a period of ten (10) years, expanded so as to encompass the entire Arabian peninsula. It is thus evident that the event of Hijrah turned a few hundred persons into a highly successful society. The expansion of Muslim dominations during the following centuries is a historical record. All this was possible due to the shaping of events as the result of Hijrah.

Source: Jamiatul Ulama (JHB) & Jamiatul Ulama (KZN)

 

Safar

Superstition & The Month of Safar
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To believe that the month of Safar is inauspicious, and particularly to believe that its first thirteen days are 'bad luck' or that it is harmful to marry or propose to marry or undertake a journey, etc., during these days are beliefs which are against the teachings of Islam.

In pre-Islamic days people considered the month of Safar to be evil and ominous. Our Rasul (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) strongly rejected such beliefs and ideas. The truth is that no time, day, month or date is in itself evil, but the deeds of people are either good or bad. The time spent in the performance of good deeds will be auspicious and the time spent in sin and the disobedience of Allah Ta'la will be evil and ominous.

The month of Safar is not ominous. Evil deeds and incorrect beliefs are ominous and should be given up and repented for. It is incorrect to postpone or delay marriage or its proposal or a journey, etc. because of such beliefs.

Rejecting the false beliefs of the days of ignorance our Rasul (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, 'Belief in ill-omen is Shirk (polytheistic) (he said this thrice) and the owl's ominousness is nothing.' The Mushriks of Arabia used to believe that a house near which an owl screeches will be ruined, hence, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) refuted this belief as false. Thereafter, he said, 'There is nothing ominous about the month of Safar'. (Bukhari vol.1 pg.857)

The polytheists believed the month of Safar upto the 13th day to be inauspicious, hence, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) rejected this superstition. It is therefore wrong for Muslims, who are the followers of

Muhammad, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), to adopt the ways of the non-Muslims and to entertain the very beliefs which he had come to change.

May Allah grant all Muslims the ability to accept and practice upon all the beautiful teachings of our beloved Rasul (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), Aameen

Source: Fataawa Raheemia

 

Rabiul-Awwal

FROM SUPERSTITIONS INTO LIGHT

Rabi'ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not only the Arabian peninsula, but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were drowned in the darkness of ignorance, superstitions, oppression and unrest. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came with the eternal truth of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), the only faith which provides a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace. It was this faith which delivered humanity from ignorance and superstitions and spread the light of true knowledge all over the world.

ISLAMIC CELEBRATIONS

Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam, which provides for only two Eids (Eidul-fitr and Eidul-Adha) during the whole year. The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates.

Both of these two Eids have been prescribed for paying gratitude to Allah on some happy events that take place every year. The first event is the completion of the fasts of Ramadan and the second event is the completion of Hajj, another form of worship regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.

The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids (festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal mutual visits to each other, which can give real happiness instead of its symbols only.

NO BIRTHDAYS

On the other hand, Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however great or significant he may be. The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions.

The Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, remained alive after him for about a century, but despite their unparalleled and profound love towards the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, they never celebrated the birthday or the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Instead, they devoted their lives for promoting the cause of Islam, for bringing his teachings into practice, for conveying his message to the four corners of the world and for establishing the Islamic order in every walk of life.

THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTMAS

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the Collier's Encyclopedia:

"It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200 and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time."
(Collier's Encyclopedia 1984 ed, v. 6, p. 403).

A similar description of the origin of Christmas is found in-the Encyclopedia Britannica with some more details. Its following passage will throw more light on the point:

"Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25 or Dec. 25. The earliest identification of Dec. 25 with the birthday of Christ is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of the philos of Antioch (c.180), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburyg centuriators (i, 3, 118), to the effect that the Gauls contended that since they celebrated the birth of Lord on Dec. 25, so they ought to celebrate the resurrection on March 25. A passage, almost certainly interpolated, in 'Hippelates' (c. 202) commentary on Daniel iv, 23, says that Jesus was born at Bethlehem on Wednesday, Dec. 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus, but he mentions no feast, and such a feast, indeed, would conflict with the then orthodox ideas. As late as 245, Origin (hem. viii on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ "as if he were a king Pharaoh". (Britannica, 1953 ed. v. 5, p.642)

These two quotes are more than sufficient to prove the following points:

1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching.

2. The exact date of the Birth of Sayyidna 'Isa is unknown and impossible to be ascertained.

3. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of the Christian history.

4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast, and that, too, under the influence of the pagans who worshipped Sun-god.

5. There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.

ORIGINAL ISLAMIC RESOURCES

In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anha, passed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi'ul-Awwal.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE CELEBRATIONS

The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert the attention of people from the real teachings of Islam towards the observance of some formal activities only. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety and with a bona fide intention to pay homage to a pious person. Yet, the experience shows that the celebration is ultimately mixed up with an element of merrymaking and rejoicing and is generally confused with secular festivals and the secular, and often sinful, activities creep into it gradually.

THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHRISTMAS

The example of Christmas will again be relevant. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and, of course, to remember his teachings. But once the occasion had been recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from the Encyclopedia Britannia is worth attention:

"For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay."
Then, what kind of activities have been adopted to celebrate Christmas is mentioned in the next paragraphs of which the following quote is more pertinent here:

"Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm even while emphasis was on the religious phase. ... In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities." (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 v. 5, p. 643)

This is enough to show as to how an apparently innocent feast of reverence was converted into a secular festival where the merrymaking and seeking enjoyment by whatever means took preference over all the religious and spiritual activities.

Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has never prescribed, nor encouraged the observance of birthdays and anniversaries, and when such celebrations are observed as a part of the religion, they are totally forbidden.

THE RELIGION IS COMPLETE

The Holy Qur'an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion." [Al-Maida 5:3]

It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid'ah or innovation.

Thus, the observance of the 12th of Rabi'ul-Awwal as a religious feast is not warranted by any verse of the Holy Qur'an or by any teaching of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Had it been a part of the religion it would have been clearly ordered or practiced by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his blessed companions or, at least, by their immediate pupils. But no example of the celebration of the occasion can be traced out in the early centuries of the Islamic history. It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi'ul-Awwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated.

DISAGREEMENT ABOUT THE DATE

The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is not only an innovation having no basis in the Islamic teachings, but the accuracy of this date as the real birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is also very much doubted. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, and the majority of the authentic scholars is inclined to hold that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was born on the 9th of Rabi'ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion is another evidence to prove that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy.

The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life, and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times. The month of Rabi'ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is thus an innovation (Bid'ah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi'ul Awwal only, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are worthy of more reward than the meetings held on any other date during the year. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to commemorate the life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, throughout the year, not only by studying and conveying his message to others, but also by following his way of life and acting upon his teachings in each and every branch of their activities, and this is exactly what a Muslim is required and supposed to do. By this we do not mean that the Seerah meetings should not be held in the month of Rabi'ul-Awwal. The point is only that they should not be restricted to it, nor should it be believed that the Shariah has laid any kind of emphasis on holding such meetings in this particular month.

Another point that should always be kept in mind while holding such meetings is that they must be in complete conformity with the rules of Shariah. A Muslim is supposed to abide by the rules of Shariah in all his activities. But at least the meetings held in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, should be free from all the acts forbidden by the Shariah.

CONTEMPORARY SEERAH MEETINGS AND SHARIAH

It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated?

In some meetings the Na'ts (poems) in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are recited by the women before the male audience, sometimes with music, which is totally against the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is clearly prohibited by the Shariah to hold such meetings or to participate in them, because it is not only a violation of the Shariah rules, but it is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

All other activities, often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi'ul-Awwal, like holding processions, constructing the mock tombs of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and illumination of the buildings and the roads are not warranted by any rule of the Shariah. Rather they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions. No example of such activities can be traced out from the earlier Islamic history.

REAL MESSAGE OF SEERAH

What is really important with regard to the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, first, to follow his teachings, and second to make his pious Seerah available to every Muslim, to preserve it in the hearts of the Muslims from the very childhood, to educate the family members to run their lives according to it and to hold it as the most glorious example of the human conduct the universe has ever witnessed -- and all this with utmost love and reverence, not manifested by some formal activities only, but also through actual behavior of following the Sunnah. This cannot be done by merely holding processions and illuminating the walls. This requires constant and consistent efforts and a meaningful program of education and training.

Source: Mufti Taqi Usmani - Albalagh

The Month of Rajab

The Month of Rajab
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Rajab is the seventh month in the Islamic lunar calendar. This month was regarded as one of the sacred months (Al-Ash-hur-Al-hurum) in which battles were prohibited in the days of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. It is also deemed to be a prelude to the month of Ramadhân, because the month of Ramadhân follows it after the intervening month of Sha'ban. Therefore, when the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam sighted the moon of Rajab, he used to supplicate to Allâh in the following words:
"O Allâh, make the months of Rajab and Sha'ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhân (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhân, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings)."

Although the month of Rajab has the aforesaid merits, yet no specific way of worship has been prescribed by the Shari'ah in this month. People have invented some special rituals or practices in this month which are not supported by reliable resources of the Shari'ah or are based on some unauthentic traditions. Here we briefly discuss the night of ascension.

Celebration of Lailatul Me'râj

It is generally believed that the great event of Me'râj (ascension of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam to the heavens) took place on the night of 27th Rajab. Therefore, some people celebrate the night as "Lailatul Me'râj".

Indeed, the event of Me'râj was one of the most remarkable episodes in the life of our beloved Nabi Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. He was called by Almighty Allâh. He travelled from Makkah to Baitul Maqdis and from there he ascended the heavens through the miraculous power of Allâh. He was honoured with a direct contact with his Creator at a place where even the angels had no access. This was the unique honour conferred by Allâh to the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam alone. It was the climax of the spiritual progress which is not attained by anybody except him.

No doubt the night in which he was blessed with this unparalleled honour was one of the great nights in the history of this world. But, as we have explained in our discussion about the month of Rabi'ul-Awwal, Islam has its own principles with regard to the historic and religious events. Its approach about observing festivals and celebrating days and nights is totally different from the approach of other religions. The Holy Qur'ân and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam did not prescribe any festival or any celebration to commemorate an event from the past, however remarkable it might have been. Instead, Islam has prescribed two annual celebrations only. One is Eid-ul-Fitr and the other is Eid-ul-Adha. Both of these festivals have been fixed at a date on which the Muslims accomplish a great ibâdah (worship) every year. Eid-ul-Fitr has been prescribed after the fasts of Ramadhân, while Eid-ul-Adha has been fixed when the Muslims perform the Haj annually. None of these two Eids is designed to commemorate a particular event of the past, which has happened in these dates.

This approach is indicative of the fact that the real occasion for a happy celebration is the day in which the celebrators themselves have accomplished remarkable work through their own active effort. As for the accomplishments of our ancestors, their commemoration should not be restricted to a particular day or night. Instead, their accomplishments must be remembered every day in our practical life by observing their teachings and following the great examples they have set for us.

Keeping this principle in view, the following points should be remembered with regard to the "Lailatul-Me'râj":

1) We cannot say with absolute certainty in which night the great event of Me'râj had taken place. Although some traditions relate this event to the 27th night of the month of Rajab, yet there are other traditions which suggest some other dates. Al-Zurqâni, the famous biographer of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has referred to five different views in this respect: Rabi'ul Awwal, Rabi'ul Âkhir, Rajab, Ramadhân and Shawwal. Later, while discussing different traditions, he has added a sixth opinion, that the Me'râj took place in the month of Zul-Hijjah.

Allamah Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi, the well-known scholar of Hadîth, has written a detailed book on the merits of Islamic months. While discussing 'Lailatul Me'râj', he has mentioned that most of the scholars are of the view that the event of Me'râj took place in the month of Ramadhân or in Rabi'ul Awwal.

2) It is also not certainly known in which year the event of Me'râj took place. There are a number of views mentioned in the books of history, which suggest a wide range between the fifth year and the twelfth year after the Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam was entrusted with prophethood.

Now, if it is assumed that the event of Me'râj took place in the fifth year of his prophethood, it will mean that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam remained in this world for eighteen years after this event. Even if it is presumed that the Me'râj took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood, his remaining lifetime after this event would be eleven years. Throughout this long period, which may range between eleven and eighteen years, the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam never celebrated the event of Me'râj, nor did he give any instructions about it. No one can prove that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam ever performed some specific modes of worship in a night, calling it the 'Lailatul Me'râj' or advised his followers to commemorate the event in a particular manner.

3) After the demise of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam also, not one of his companions is reported to celebrate this night as a night of special acts of worship. They were the true lovers of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam and had devoted their lives to preserve every minute detail of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam and other Islamic teachings. Still, they did not celebrate the event of Me'râj in a particular night in a particular way.

All these points go a long way to prove that the celebration of the 27th night of Rajab, being the Lailatul Me'râj has no basis in the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam or in the practice of his noble companions. Had it been a commendable practice to celebrate this night, the exact date of this event would have been preserved accurately by the Ummah and the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam and his blessed companions would have given specific directions for it.

Therefore, it is not a Sunnah to celebrate the 'Lailatul Me'râj'. We cannot take any practice as a Sunnah by our own emotions, unless it is established through authentic sources that the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam or his noble companions have recognized it as such, otherwise it may become a bid'ah about which the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has observed in the following words:

"Whoever invents something in our religion which is not part of it, it is to be rejected."

Being mindful of this serious warning, we should appreciate that the 27th night of the month of Rajab is not like 'Lailatul Qadr' or 'Lailatul Bara'ah' for which special merits have been mentioned expressly either by the Holy Qur'ân or by the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.

However, all the recognized modes of ibadah [worship] like salâh, recitation of the Holy Qur'ân, dhikr, etc. are commendable at any time, especially in the late hours of the night, and obviously the 27th night of Rajab is not an exception. Therefore, if someone performs any recognized ibadah in this night from this point of view, nothing can stop him from doing so, and he will be entitled to the thawâb (reward) allocated for that recognized act of worship, Insha Allâh). But it is not permissible to believe that performing ibâdah in this night is more meritorious or carries more thawâb like 'Lailatul Qadr' or 'Lailatul Barâ'ah', because this belief is not based on any authentic verse or sunnah of the Holy Prophet Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Similarly, it is not a correct practice to celebrate this night on a collective scale and to invite people to special ritual congregations.

4) Some people suggest some special modes of worship to be performed in this night. Since the Shari'ah prescribes no special mode of worship in this night, these suggestions are devoid of any authority and should not be acted upon.

It is believed by some that the Muslims should keep fast on the 27th Rajab. Although there are some traditions attributing special merits to the fast of this day, yet the scholars of Hadîth have held these traditions as very weak and unauthentic reports which cannot be sufficient to establish a rule of Shari'ah. On the contrary, there is an authentic report that Sayyidinâ Umar Radhiallahu anhu used to forbid people from fasting on this day. He would compel them to eat if they had started fasting.

It should be borne in mind here that a 'nafl' fast can be observed on any day (except the six prohibited days of the year). Therefore, fasting on the 27th Rajab is not prohibited in itself. What is prohibited is the belief that fasting on this day is more meritorious than fasting in other normal days. One should not fast on this day with this belief. But if someone fasts therein, believing it to be a normal nafl fast, there is no harm in doing so.

Source: Madrasah Arabia Islamia Azâdville

 

Sha'ban

Sha'ban: Merits, Do's, and Dont's
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Sha'ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha'ban. These fasts were not obligatory on him but Sha'ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. Therefore, some preparatory measures are suggested by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Some of these are given below:

1. The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, "Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?" He replied, "Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan."

2. The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha'ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month." Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: "That (Sha'ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting."

3. Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha'ban. I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah, is Sha'ban your most favorite month for fasting?' He said, 'In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting."

4. In another Tradition she says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would sometimes begin to fast continuously until we thought he would not stop fasting, and sometimes he used to stop fasting until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting a complete month, except the month of Ramadan, and I have never seen him fasting in a month more frequently than he did in Sha'ban."

5. In another report she says, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha'ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month."

6. Ummul-Mu'mineen Umm Salamah, Radi-Allahu anha, says: "I have never seen the Messenger of Allah fasting for two months continuously except in the months of Sha'ban and Ramadan."

These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha'ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not like to miss it.

But it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha'ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha'ban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan and will not be able to fast in it with freshness, he should not fast in Sha'ban, because the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha'ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha'ban is gone."

According to another report Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts."

The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha'ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha'ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.

The Night of Bara'ah

Another significant feature of the month of Sha'ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha'ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:

1. Ummul-Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, is reported to have said, "Once Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: 'I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.' Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salah, he said to me: 'Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?' I said, 'No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.' He asked me, 'Do you know which night is this?' I said, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'This is the night of the half of Sha'ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).'"

2. In another Tradition Sayyidah' Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, "Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha'ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb."

Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.

3. In yet another Tradition, she has reported Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "This is the middle Night of Sha'ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who cuts off the ties of kinship, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine."

4. Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: "Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha'ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)".

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.

What Should be Done in this Night?

In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:

(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak'at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo' and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur'an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak'ah.

(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur'an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur'an as he can.

(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful:

One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.

(d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an 'Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator's need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer which is sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one's relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.

One can pray for whatever purpose he wishes. But the best supplications are the ones made by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. These are so comprehensive and all-encompassing prayers that all the human needs, of this world and the Hereafter, are fully covered in the eloquent expressions used in them. Actually, most of the prophetic prayers are so profound that human imagination can hardly match their greatness.

Several books in various languages are available which provide these prophetic prayers, and one should pray to Allah Almighty in accordance with them, whether by reciting their original Arabic text or by rendering their sense in one's own language.

(e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts:

(i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, 'Isha' and Fajr with Jama'ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick.

(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.

(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.

(f) The women during their periods cannot perform salah, nor can they recite the Qur'an, but they can recite any dhikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Qur'an or in the hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).

(g) According to a hadith, which is relatively less authentic, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, went in this night to the graveyard of Baqi' where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. On this basis, some of the fuqaha hold it as mustahabb (advisable) in this night to go to the graveyard of the Muslims and recite Fatihah or any other part of the Qur'an, and pray for the dead. But this act is neither obligatory nor should it be performed as regularly as an obligatory act.

What Should Not be Done in This Night

1. As mentioned earlier, the Night of Bara'ah is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Almighty, and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah. Although it is always incumbent upon every Muslim to abstain from sins, yet this abstinence becomes all the more necessary in such nights, because committing sins in this night will amount to responding to divine blessings with disobedience and felony. Such an arrogant attitude can invite nothing but the wrath of Allah. Therefore, one should strictly abstain from all the sins, particularly from those mentioned in the Hadith No. 3 quoted earlier in this article, because these sins make one devoid of the blessings of this night.

2. In this night some people indulge in some activities which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara'ah, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people, but in some cases they are pure imitation of some rituals performed by non-Muslim communities. Such imitation in itself is a sin; performing it in a blessed night like the Night of Bara'ah makes it worse. Muslims should strictly abstain from all such activities.

3. Some people spend this night in holding religious meetings and delivering long speeches. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed in other nights. This night requires one to devote himself for the pure acts of worship only.

4. The acts of worship like Salah, recitation of the Qur'an and dhikr should be performed in this night individually, not collectively. The Nafl Salah should not be performed in Jama'ah, nor should the Muslims arrange gatherings in the mosques in order to celebrate the night in a collective manner.

On the contrary, this night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with the Lord of the Universe, and to devote one's attention to Him and Him alone. These are the precious hours of the night in which nobody should intervene between one and his Lord, and one should turn to Allah with total concentration, not disturbed or intermitted by any one else.

That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, observed the acts of worship in this night in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by his favorite life companion Sayyidah 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, and that is why all forms of the optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), are advised by him to be done in individual, not in collective manner.

Fast of the 15th Sha'ban

On the day immediately following the Night of Bara'ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha'ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha'ban have special merits and Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the days in Sha'ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha'ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic.

Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha'ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.

Source: Mufti Taqi Usmani - albalagh

 

Ramadan

The Month of Ramadan
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Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar but for many Muslims itís the first. How? Ramadan has become to them what 1st of January is most to Canadians. Got it? Resolutions for the New Year!

You hear every year similar sloganeering: ďHey, Iím listening to Quran Cds only from today!Ē ďNo Bro only Halal chickens in Ramadan.Ē ďOkay no more swearing! Alright Mom, Iíll don my headscarf and begin five times prayers from now.Ē ďRight Guys all cigarettes over, all bars closed!Ē ďItís Ramadan! Iíll send zakat home next week, itís been long enough.Ē

Maybe understanding what Allah wants from us in this Holy month in terms of fasting and praying will help us be better geared and truly programmed to handle the responsibility of Ramadan. Letís look at the main verse in Surah Baqara 2: 183-ďO Believers, the Fast has been made obligatory on you just as it was prescribed for the followers of the Prophets before you so that it may produce piety in you.Ē

Oh People of Iman!

Look how Allah addresses our Faith in Him and the strength of Belief in His Unseen Powers in order that we may observe his commands. Hadith literature is filled with the words Imanan wa Ihtisaaban. Repeatedly Allah reminds us that fasting or nightly vigil if done with true Faith in Allah and hope for His rewards then definitely forgiveness will be our lot. The Iman of Abu Bakr remains the true standard of what it means to believe. When others belied the Meraj he stood firm and unshakable. He, may Allah be pleased with him, did not disregard the story of Miíraj as wild and dreamy but accepted it unquestionably. Until today He is the Siddiq- Truthful to the bone! Fasting is a way of life for the Believers. There are many stories of brothers and sisters enduring miserable co-workers and terrible conditions but would not opt for concessions nor faint in the face of Allahís commands. Maybe it was this indispensable Iman that must have provided the groundswell of fasting that only in the 2nd AH was it revealed to be compulsory. Prior to that, fasting was once a year on the day of Ashura.

The firm and intense conviction in Allahís unseen promise is the key for undergoing sacrifices for Deen. Itís hardly the case for a Believer to calculate the diet value of fasting or the long hours of winter and short days of summer before starting a Ramadan schedule. Hell and Heaven is the criteria. The thirst of Ramadan becomes the extinguisher of Hell. The hunger of fasting from dawn to dusk provides the everlasting relishing fruits of Jannah. Just as the Companions didnít hesitate when the verses of alcohol and hijab were revealed, a marked sign of full conviction in Allahís words, so too must be the state of heart during the day when hunger pangs strike and thirst quenchers tease. Just do it!

Prescription from your Maker.

Fasting is prescribed by doctors before surgeries and during certain illness. The difference is our dear and knowledgeable Creator has written us an ancient prescription direct from the Throne.
Upon each and every able-bodied male and female He recommends, rather mandates, this third pillar so they may to be healthy and strong. All it requires is for them to fast for at least a month throughout daylight. Staying away from all benefits of the stomach and below assist in breaking the animal propensities and bringing human nature closer to angelic beings. A fasting person could easily subscribe to the pains and sufferings of the poorer nations.

A doctor doesnít only prescribe drugs but he writes the suitable dosage and period. Allah mentions the medicine: fasting. The dosage: from the end of the night to the beginning. The period: 30 days or 29. A doctor is regarded always as an expert in his field. Patients donít argue and challenge his degree. A patient in the divine hospital must submit to this prescription before serious fatalities occur. A doctor is mostly seen as a sincere adviser, filled with compassion and love. Allah is Halim- He is incomparably compassionate that He didnít order a full day without food and water. Neither did he want this for more than a month. He doesnít even want a pregnant mother or a child, a weak person or a traveler to undergo this sacrifice. In Fiqh, if someone works so hard that they fear they may faint they are to break their fast without any penalty. What compassion! Ramadan is His mercy.

Past nations also fasted.

In this verse Allah deliberately reminds us of an historical as well as a psychological fact in one breath. The Bible is filled with passages and stories of fasting Prophets and their disciples. What great devotees they were! But more importantly it creates a sense of comfort and spiritual ambience: We are not alone. Others do fast. Others stay thirsty, hungry and equally sex starved. The world knows about avoiding physical pleasures for Godís sake. Ask the Yogis. As true Believers we must not only take solace in that but also strive to perfect it by abiding by the rules. With the various mustahabs and etiquettes, supplications and extra worshiping, Ramadan provides excellently a consistent package for spiritual health.

The clause ďas it was prescribed to those before youĒ actually points to this essential psychology in Dawah. Environments makes and breaks. Successful long term Dawah aims at creating an alternative environment conducive to Iman building and Islam acting. Isnít it? The famous saying Ibn Adam Ibn Bia stand perfectly true. Man is the product of his environment. As a matter of fact maybe thatís why Salah in Jamah is more meritorious in Ramadan besides the Sunnah of performing Taraweeh collectively and breaking fast together. The atmosphere of reciting the entire Quran in the nights and secluding in the mosque, together, is amazingly dynamic for anyone wishing change.
Another example of the power of the environment is Hurricanes. They arenít a poor manís disaster or a rich manís escape. When it strikes ALL feel the hurt. So too when evil rampages all get caught. So let Ramadan be the collective answer to our moral crisis.

Perhaps/Surely...

La al la in Arabic signifies both an uncertain as well as a definite response. Maybe perhaps indicates those Muslims who happily fast but donít get the desired results. One person said I eat too much Iftar so fasting doesnít reduce me. Another complained that after EidulFitr I return to the bar. Yet another stopped praying Salah soon in Shawaal! As the Hadith mentions: Many a fasting persons gets nothing out of their fasting except hunger.

But in using the translation of surely the rejoice is with those Muslims who achieve change. Definitely fasting provides them the much needed reform and repentance they worked for. Authentic Hadith reminds us that a person gets rewards based upon his/her intention. If sincere then loads of blessings and if insincere then punishment. Fasting can never be a boast for the sincere. As mater of fact the Hadith continues by saying a person gets in life what they intend. So for the Ramadan Muslims it has to change. It has to be that you intend sincere detoxification of the soul. It has to be that you want to repent from ill ways of living. It has to be that the Quran should surely become your life manual from today onwards. Let your niyyah work for you! So make sure the translation of laíal la in your fasting is surely and not perhaps!

Taqwa: staying conscious of the Reformer.

Many translators struggle to bring out the real meaning of this word taqwa. Literally it means to protect and could be that one protects himself from the Wrath of Allah by protecting himself from indulging in things that Allah forbids. In the Shariah, Taqwa as used in the Quran repeatedly, signifies the obedience to the Rules of Islam while avoiding Haraam, and additionally abstaining from unsuitable things in life.

I think a good example to this is ensuring Iftar dinners are Haraam-free and zero-doubtful. No matter how sumptuous or prestigous it may be, donít destroy your fast. Abu Bakr, radiallahu anhu, the model Muslim Leader, actually forced himself to vomit when he ate doubtful food morsels from his slave once. Be careful in being more delighted in Halal labels than Halal rules.

Remember the story of the pious gal living in the desert during the Caliphate of Omar bin Khatab, may Allah be pleased with him. She refused to adulterate the milk with water upon her motherís orders. When her mom tried explaining her that Omar wasnít there to peep them, the smart Bedouin teen retorted: But the lord of Omar sees!

Being conscious of Allah while staying hungry for His sake makes the course of fasting easy. Some women fainted during their fast and when the Prophet, on whom be peace, was informed he ordered that they vomit. These poor ladies vomited fresh meat! They had backbitten someone whilst fasting. That sin weakened them terribly. Allah says: Whosoever adopts Taqwa, Allah makes a way out for her/him and feeds them from unknown quarters!

Let Ramadan become the month of Allah, like any other month, but this will only happen if you make it, this time, the Muslim Reformer. Inshallah.

Oh Allah grant our lethargic selves piety and purity, for surely You are the Controller and Friend of our selves.

Jami'yyatul Ulama Canada - Sh.Habeeb (Member)

 

Shawwal

Six Fasts of Shawwal
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Shawwal is the tenth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It comes immediately after Ramadan. Shawwal is also the first month of the Ashhur al -hajj - (the months of Hajj). Eidul Fitr also occurs in this month. Regarding the six fasts of Shawwal Abu Ayyub (ra) reports: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,

"He who observes As-Saum (the fasts) in the month of Ramadan, and also observes As-Saum for six days in the month of Shawwal, it is as if he has observed As-Saum for the whole year.''
[Muslim].

According to the formula that there is at least ten-fold reward for every virtue, the Saum of one month (Ramadan) are equivalent to Saum of ten months. If one also observes six days of Saum of Shawwal, they will be equal to Saum of two months. Thus, one becomes eligible for the reward of one full years' Saum. He who makes it a permanent feature is like one who observes Saum throughout his life. He will be considered by Allah as one who observes Saum permanently. Although voluntary in nature, they are highly important. One can observe these six-day Saum at a stretch or with intervals, but their observance one after the other at the beginning of the month is better. Similarly, if a person has missed some Saum of Ramadan due to illness, traveling etc., he should first make up the shortfall and then observe the voluntary six-day Saum of Shawwal.

Jami'yyatul Ulama Canada

 

Zhul Hijjah

Zhul Hijjah: Eidul-Adha, Hajj & Sacrifice
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Zhulhijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. Literally, it means "hajj." Obviously, this name of the month indicates that the great annual worship of "hajj" is performed in this month, which gives it special significance. Some specific merits and rules relevant to this month are mentioned below:

First Ten Days of Zhul Hijjah

The first ten days of Zhulhijjah are among the most magnificent days in the Islamic calendar. The Holy Prophet (pbuh), has said, "One fast during these days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the "Lailatul-Qadr"(Tirmidhi).

Every Muslim should avail of this wonderful opportunity by performing during this period as much Iba'dah (acts of worship) to Allah as he or she can.

The 9th day of Zhulhijjah

The 9th day of Zhulhijjah is called 'Youmul - "Arafah' (The Day of 'Arafah). This is the date when the Hujjaj (Haji pilgrims, plural of Haajj) assemble on the plain of 'Arafat, six miles away from Makkah al-Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of hajj, namely, the 'Wuqoof of'Arafat (the stay in 'Arafat).

The Fast of Youmul 'Arafah

For those not performing hajj, it is mustahabb (desirable) to fast on this day according to their own calendar. It sometimes occurs that 9th Zhulhijjah falls on different days in different countries according to the sighting of the moon. In such cases, Muslims of each country should observe 'Youmul'Arafah according to the lunar dates of their own country.

The fast of 'Youmul 'Arafah' has been emphasized by the Holy Prophet (pbuh), as a mustahabb (desirable) act. According to a hadith, the fast of thisday becomes a cause, hopefully so, of forgiveness for sins committed in one year (Muslim)

Takbir-ut-tashriq

Beginning from the Fajr of the 9th Zhulhijjah up to the 'Asr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the Takbir of Tashriq after every fard prayer in the following words.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd.

(There is no god but Allah and Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.) According to authentic Islamic sources, it is obligatory on each Muslim, to recite this Takbir after every fard salah. For women also, it is commendable though not obligatory. Whether you are performing salah with Jama'ah (collectively) or on your own (individually) makes no difference. You must recite the Takbir. However, male Muslims should recite it in a loud voice, while females should recite it in a low voice.

On the Eid day

The following acts are sunnah on the day of Eidul- adha:

1. To wake up early in the morning. 2. To clean one's teeth with a miswak or brush 3. To take a bath. 4. To put on one's best available clothes. 5. To use perfume. 6. Not to eat before the Eid prayer. 7. To recite the Takbir of Tashriq in a loud voice while going to the Eid prayer.

Khutbah: The Address of Eidul-Adha

In the salah of Eid, Khutbah is a sunnah and is delivered after the salah, unlike the salah of Jumu'ah where it is fard and is delivered before the salah. However, listening to the khutbah of Eid salah is wajib or necessary and must be listened to in perfect peace and silence.

Sacrifice or Qurbani: Philosophy and Rules

The Urdu and Persian word Qurbani (Sacrificial slaughter) is derived from the Arabic word Qurban. Lexically, it means an act performed to seek Allah's pleasure. Originally, the word Qurban included all acts of charity because the purpose of charity is nothing but to seek Allah's pleasure. But, in precise religious terminology, the word was later confined to the sacrifice of an animal slaughtered for the sake of Allah. The sacrifice of an animal has always been treated as a recognized form of worship in all religious orders originating from a divine book. Even in pagan societies, the sacrifice of an animal is recognized as a form of worship, but it is done in the name of some idols and not in the name of Allah, a practice totally rejected by Islam.In the Shari'ah of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), the sacrifice of an animal has been recognized as a form of worship only during three days of Zhulhijjah, namely, the 10th, 11th and 12th of the month. This is to commemorate the unparalleled sacrifice offered by the Prophet Ibrahim (a.s), when he, in pursuance to a command of Allah conveyed to him in a dream, prepared himself to slaughter his beloved son, Isma'il (a.s), and actually did so but, Allah Almighty, after testing his submission, sent down a sheep and saved his son from the logical fate of slaughter. It is from that time onwards that the sacrifice of an animal became an obligatory duty to be performed by every well to do Muslim.

Qurbani is a demonstration of total submission to Allah and a proof of complete obedience to Allah's will or command. When a Muslim offers a Qurbani, this is exactly what he intends to prove. Thus, the Qurbani offered by a Muslim signifies that he is a slave of Allah at his best and that he would not hesitate even for a moment, once he receives an absolute command from his Creator, to surrender before it, to obey it willingly, even if it be at the price of his life and possessions.

The Time of Qurbani

Qurbani can only be performed during the three days of Eid, namely the 10th, 11th and 12th of Zhulhijjah. It is only in these days that slaughtering of an animal is recognized as an act of worship. No Qurbani can be performed in any other days of the year.Although Qurbani is permissible on each of the three aforesaid days, yet it is preferable to perform it on the first day i.e. the 10th of Zhulhijjah. No Qurbani is allowed before the Eid prayer is over. However, in small villages where the Eid prayer is not to be performed, Qurbani can be offered' any time after the break of dawn on the 10th of Zhulhijjah.

Who is Required to Perform Qurbani?

Every adult Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent in money, personal ornaments, stock-in-trade or any other form of wealth which is surplus to his basic needs, is under an obligation to offer a Qurbani. Each adult member of a family who owns the above mentioned amount must perform his own Qurbani separately. If the husband owns the required quantity, but the wife does not, the Qurbani is obligatory on the husband only and vice-versa. If both of them have the prescribed amount of wealth, both should perform Qurbani separately. If the adult children live with their parents, Qurbani is obligatory on each one of them possessing the prescribed amount. The Qurbani offered by a husband for himself does not fulfil the obligation of his wife, nor can the Qurbani offered by a father discharge his son or daughter from their obligation. Each one of them should care for his own. However, if a husband or a father, apart from offering his own Qurbani, gives another Qurbani on behalf of his wife or his son, he can do so with their permission.

No Alternate for Qurbani

Some people think that instead of offering a Qurbani they should give its amount to some poor people as charity. This attitude is totally wrong. Actually, there are different forms of worship obligatory on Muslims. Each one of them has its own importance and none of them can stand for the other. It is not permissible for a Muslim to perform salah instead of fasting in Ramadan, nor is it permissible for him to give some charity instead of observing the obligatory Salah. Similarly, Qurbani is an independent form of worship and this obligation cannot be discharged by spending money in charity. However, if somebody, out of his ignorance or negligence, could not offer Qurbani on the three prescribed days (10th, 11th and 12th Zhulhijjah) then, in that case only, he can give the price of a Qurbani as sadaqah to those entitled to receive Zakah. But during the days of Qurbani no Sadaqah can discharge the obligation.

The Animals of Qurbani

The following animals can be slaughtered to offer a Qurbani:

1. Goat, either male or female, of at least one year of age.

2. Sheep, either male or female, of at least six months of age.

3. Cow, ox buffalo of at least two years of age.

4. Camel, male or female, of at least five years of age.

One head of goat or sheep is enough only for one person's Qurbani. But as for all other animals like cow, buffalo or camel, one head of each is equal to seven offerings thus allowing seven persons to offer Qurbani jointly in one such animal.

Rules about Defective Animals

The following defective animals are not acceptable in Qurbani:

1. Blind, one eyed or lame animal. 2. An animal so emaciated that it cannot walk to its slaughtering place. 3. An animal with one-third part of the ear or the nose or the tail missing. 4. An animal that has no teeth at all, or the major number of its teeth are missing. 5. An animal born without ears.

The Sunnah Method of Qurbani

It is more preferable for a Muslim to slaughter the animal of his Qurbani with his own hands. However, if he is unable to slaughter the animal himself, or does not want to do so for some reason, he can request another person to slaughter it on his behalf. In this case also, it is more preferable that he, at least, be present at the time of slaughter. However, his absence at the time of slaughter does not render the Qurbani invalid, if he has authorized the person who slaughtered the animal on his behalf. It is a Sunnah to lay the animal with its face towards the Qiblah, and to recite the following verseof the Holy Quran:

I, being upright, turn my face towards the One who has created the heavens and the earth, and I am not among those who associate partners with Allah. ( Al-An'am, 6:79)

But the most essential recitation when slaughtering an animal is: Bismillah, Allahu Akbar. (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest).

Distribution of the Meat

If an animal is sacrificed by more than one person, like cow or camel, its meat should be distributed equally among its owners by weighing the meat strictly and not at random or by mere guess. Even if all the partners agree on its distribution without weighing, it is still not permissible according to shari'ah. Although the person offering a Qurbani can keep all its meat for his own use, yet, it is preferable to distribute one-third among the poor, another one third among his relatives and then, keep the rest for his personal consumption. All parts of the sacrificed animal can be used for personal benefit, but none can be sold, nor can be given to the butcher as a part of his wages.

Hajj

The most important way of worship performed in this month is "hajj", one of the five pillars of Islam. The Muslims from every part of the world assemble in Arabia to perform this unique way of worship. Hajj is a worship, which requires at least five days to be performed in its proper way. There are detailed rules for different acts of hajj for which separate books are available, and the present article does not aim at explaining all these details.

However, some basic information about its obligation is being given here:

1. Hajj is obligatory on every adult Muslim who can afford to go to Makkah during the hajj season, whether on foot or by any other carriage.

2. If a person can travel to Makkah to perform hajj, but he cannot travel to Madinah, hajj is obligatory on him also. He can perform hajj without visiting Madinah.

3. A Muslim woman cannot travel for hajj unless she is accompanied by a mahram (i.e. husband or relative of a prohibited degree like son, father, brother etc.) If she does not find any mahram to accompany her, hajj is not obligatory on her until she finds one. However, she must make a will that in case she dies before performing hajj,the heirs should arrange for her hajj-e-badal out of her left over property.

4. Hajj is obligated only once in one's life. After performing the obligatory hajj; one is not required to perform it again. However, he can perform the nafl (optional hajj as many times as he or she wishes.)

This is a summary of an article written by Sh. Mufti Taqi Usmani Sb.

 

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