Islamic charities have played a very important role in the Muslim society, distributing money and food to the poor during Ramadan. It is a time when people are the most generous. It is best to find a charitable organization that can treat the money in a manner that's halal (acceptable, according to Islamic law), opposed to giving it to a Government, which is not authorized to distribute sadakah (charity) and zakat (donations provided through alms giving; zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam.)
Ramadan is a month of charity and a month of reflecting on one's inner child. According to Islamic tradition, Muslims must be very generous during Ramadan and give as if one had unlimited funds. It's said that one should avoid placing money in the left pocket for safekeeping; instead, Muslims believe that they must give with the right hand to please Allah.
Charity cannot be accepted unless it's given for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah. One passage explains this concept: "Abu Zar Ghifari, a companion of the Prophet, reported that the Prophet, while sitting in the shade of the Kabah wall, said, 'They are the losers.' Abu Zar enquired, 'Who are they, O Messenger of God?' The Prophet (peace be upon him*) replied: 'Those who pile up heaps of wealth and (pointing in all directions with his hands) do not spend like this and this.'” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Too often, Muslims who are poor lack the ability to "share the wealth," as they are living in constant fear that there will not be enough food on the table for tomorrow. By Islam's standards, most people are hoarders and although Islam teaches that a Muslim who has enough food for the day is well off, the desire to save and prepare for next month is always there. This characteristic is against every aspect of Islam, as this religion is associated with the belief that all things, including money, health and wealth, come from The Creator.
Who Has the Right to Receive Sadakah?
In Islam, there are eight different people who deserve charity, also known as alms. A Muslim's zakat cannot be given to the mother, as it is an obligation of the family to give money to the mother regularly. Zakat could be given to another relative in need though. Allah has dictated who is entitled to zakat and/or sadakah: "The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise." (Sura Al-Taubah, verse 60).
Sadakah or Permanent Alms (Sadaqa-e-jaria)
Some of the best sadakah given, is in the supporting of a business to help a family survive or in helping a college student finish and graduate. Upon graduation, the student is able to support the family and provide food and a home for everyone. To support someone with an illness during the time of recovery is also considered a good deed. These are permanent types of sadakah and something that will go on month to month. It is indeed a charitable form of giving, as is offering support to an orphan or a widow.
Islamic charities all over the world can help in distributing the wealth in these permanent instances. Many charities are set up to provide help for orphanages or rape victims who have no place to live. There are organizations that provide food to poor people, and others that establish free schools in poor countries. Although it is preferable to give directly to the poor person, finding a qualified charitable organization is also acceptable.
The Silent Sadakah is Better
In addition to giving to the people in need, the Quran states that it is best to give silently so that the left hand does not know what the right hand has done. The reward of giving in secret is 70 times over giving in public. There are many stories about the companions and about the great sacrifice that was made.
It's said that the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) urged the people to bring money for the poor. Umar gave half of his belongings to the poor in sadakah, while Abu Bakr gave more by donating all of his belongings. It's said that no sacrifice was too great when the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) asked.
Islamic Charities Helping the Poor
There are many legitimate charitable organizations to help the poor and then there are some that are scam websites. Muslims must always use caution when revealing personal information and donating money. Here is a list of some of the most popular Islamic charities:
● Islamic Relief Worldwide
● Muslim Aid UK
● Muslim Hands
For a complete portfolio of the Islamic charities check out the: Portfolio of Islamic Charities.
Islamic Charities Compared to Local Area Giving
For Muslims, Ramadan is a time to reflect on the many blessings from Allah. It is a time to strive to please Allah by following the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) and to be the most generous. Many families will strive to host many family gatherings, hosting dinners and lavish get-togethers with relatives. But in following with Islamic tradition, Ramadan is not a time to treat your Uncle to a leg of lamb; it is a time to give that leg of lamb to someone who has not seen meat or chicken in a year's time.
Ramadan is about helping others by offering one's time, efforts and donations. Whether it is building a home for a Muslim who lost everything in a flood to carrying groceries for a widow who struggles to walk.
Muslims are encouraged to take time each Ramadan to help someone else; to take time to ask Allah for guidance in who deserves sadakah and help; to put a smile on an old woman's face with a new dress or give a bag of chocolates to a neighborhood child. Ramadan is regarded as a time to reflect on death and judgment day and it is time to remember that this life is very short.
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
Khan, Maulana Wahiduddin, "The Concept of Charity in Islam," Alrisala
The three principles of fasting in Ramadan are abstention, Tawheed (monotheism) and devotion. Without these three principles, the Muslim fasting has failed.
Ramadan occurs annually and it's a month of fasting that's considered mandatory for all Muslims, except if they are sick or in the midst of traveling. Whether doing a required fast in Ramadan or a voluntary fast, such as on the day of Arafat, Muslims follow the three principles of fasting. A Muslim cannot have a successful fast without following those three principles which include:
- Abstention: No food, intercourse, bad speaking, lying, stealing or fighting.
- Tawheed: The belief in One God, Allah as the sole provider of everything.
- Devotion: Loving Allah and the Prophet more than their self or loved ones.
What is Abstention in the Month of Ramadan?
Abstention means to go without many things; it's not just a matter of going without food and water from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan serves as a reminder for Muslims, who experience a bit of what it's like to be poor and to go without; it instills compassion and awareness. Ramadan requires all Muslims to ensure that their neighbors have sufficient food and clothing. Through abstention and following the three principles of fasting, all devout Muslims experience immense joy during the month of Ramadan.
Abstention also includes avoiding intercourse or sexual relations with the spouse. Intercourse or sexual relations can be resumed after the fast is broken until the start of the fast the following morning, if desired. Before the fast can resume the next morning, both husband and wife must fully bathe.
Muslims must also give up bad speech, and they avoid watching and listening to material dealing with forbidden subjects. During Ramadan fasting, Muslims must not lie, steal, backbite, be guilty of scandal mongering and they cannot smoke until the fast is broken. If the fasting Muslim makes a mistake in eating accidentally, it's acceptable to ask for forgiveness from Allah; then, the fast is resumed. In Islam, engaging in sexual relations during the Ramadan fast nullifies the fast.
Tawheed, the Main Principle of FastingTawheed or monotheism is the belief that there is only one God; Muslims do not believe in the trinity. For a Muslim, to even think or say that Jesus was the son of God is considered shirk (attributing partners to Allah) and is regarded as an unforgivable sin in Islam. Shirk is the only unforgivable sin and is considered to be worst than rape or murder.
Tawheed is part of the shahadah (declaration of faith) that is signed by all Muslim converts and is the main belief in the three principles of fasting in Ramadan. Without Tawheed, also translated as Tawhid and Tauheed, Muslims cannot exist in this world. Tawheed teaches the principle of destiny. Muslims must never question why such and such as happened, but merely accept that Allah has decided and He has done what He pleases.
In Islam, it's believed that sustenance, health and children are all from Allah and believing in Allah's mercy and wisdom is a must. So when considering the three principles of fasting, the Muslim must first consider Allah.
Devotion to Allah and Islam is the Third Principle of Fasting
In Islam, Muslims must love Allah and His messenger, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*), more than their own life or loved ones. This means that what Allah wants is what the practicing Muslim wants. A woman who converts to Islam must leave after three menstrual cycles if the non-Muslim husband refuses to convert.
When Allah has ordered Muslims to fast, the Muslim must fast. Praying five times a day is required — not a choice — and giving zakat is also required. Loving the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) with every breath is also a must in Islam; this is why when Prophet Mohammad is insulted, it's said that the whole Muslim nation weeps.
Devotion includes worshiping Allah with praise and by reading the Quran. Many find that it is not easy to be Muslim in this day and age, particularly with the many requirements that a Muslim must perform. The three principles of fasting were designed to increase faith and religious endurance for all believing and devout Muslims across the world.
The Three Principles of Fasting in the Month of Ramadan
To summarize the three principles, the Muslim fasting must be humbly devoted to Allah, the Creator and follow the rules of Islam. The reward for following the three principles of fasting, is jannah or heaven. It is a pleasure and a way to raise the status of the Muslim by following the three principles of fasting which are included in the principles of Islam.
It's believed that the love of Allah will increase and so will the desire to be a better Muslim through sincere devotion and belief. The love and devotion to Islam will cause hopefully all sins to be removed and body is left clean and the soul is refreshed.
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
"Ramadan Rules and Regulations," Islam Today.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket: umm_rumaysa
Prophet Mohammad said, "Do not prevent women from coming to the Masjid." Women may pray in the masjid for taraweeh salat in Ramadan.
As Ramadan approaches many mosques will be opening their doors to women to pray taraweeh salat (night prayers) in congregation. It is a time to gather with women of the community to worship Allah and do zikr (praise). It is also a time to be in an environment free of haram (forbidden) activities.
Sunnah of Praying in the Mosque
There are two situations to be considered when deciding to pray in the mosque or not. First the sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) stated:"Do not prevent women from coming to the Masjid even though their houses are better for them." (Abu Dawud)
Second consideration must be that the Prophet also said,"A woman's prayer in her house is better than her prayer in her courtyard, and her prayer in her bedroom is better than her prayer in her house." (Reported by Abu Dawud in al-Sunan, Baab maa jaa'a fee khurooj al-nisaa' ilaa'l-masjid. See also Saheeh al-Jaami', no. 3833).
In the days of Prophet Mohammad women and men were different. Men lowered their gazes and women rarely left the home. It was a time when Muslims were extremely dutiful of the Prophet and Allah's commandments. Women should keep from all forms of haram, such as taking a taxi alone to get to the mosque or speaking to men at the mosque casually. When Prophet Mohammad gave permission to go to the mosque, there were certain requirements:
- The woman must wear hijab (hair covering).
- The woman must not wear perfume (to attract a man's glance).
- The woman must have permission of the husband.
Aiesha stated, "If the Messenger of Allah had seen what the women of our time do, he would have forbidden them to go to the mosques just as the Israelite women were forbidden." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Although many men perform I'tikaf or Seclusion in the Mosque most women would want to avoid this due to pressing obligations in the home and duties to the husband and family. Some women may choose to spend the night of the 27th of Ramadan in the Mosque as a one night i'tikaf.
Reasons Why Women are Allowed to Pray in Mosque
In the home during Ramadan there may be distractions not allowing the woman to pray properly. If the television is on, there may be shows or commercials that cause there to be an atmosphere not totally perfect for prayer. Loud talking, children fighting, telephone ringing and basic chatter may cause anyone not to be able to concentrate or pray. If this is the case and the woman is married, permission must be asked of the husband before going to the mosque.
According to Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada,"According to the consensus of Muslim scholars, Tarawih is not considered mandatory on either men or women. Rather, it is only considered a recommended act. There is no evidence in the sources to make it obligatory. As far as I know, no jurist or imam has expressed such an opinion."
Although taraweeh is not mandatory for women, it is a highly suggested recommended act. If the woman has no obligations at home or is single, praying in the mosque is a good choice. It is a time for joining together with sisterly love. It is a time to help a poor neighbor who is in need and it is a time to draw on other sister's strong faith to make the prayers strong and sincere.
Women and the Best Rows in the Masjid
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "The best of the men's rows [In salat (prayer)] is the first row and the worst row is the last; but the best of the women's row is the last row and the worst of their rows is the first."
Women are better protected in a mosque with a separate praying area for women or one separated by a curtain. Having a curtain in the masjid is not sunnah, but it is a protection for any and all women to be saved from any fitna (trouble or desires of men). If women come to the mosque, it is sunnah to leave quickly after the end of the prayer is said, not sit around and talk. The women must leave before the men so not to mingle with men.
Women Praying in Taraweeh Salat is Sunnah
There are many differences of opinions about which method is the correct way for women, but in the end the praying in the mosque for taraweeh salat is sunnah. Following the ways of Prophet Mohammad is always the best way if possible. Women with small children who would be an annoyance to other worshippers should not pray in the mosque.
Consideration and moral manners must be considered. The mosque is not a place for children to play and run wild. It is a place for prayers and worshipping Allah, The Creator of mankind. When children are at the age to learn how to pray, it is the parent's responsibility to teach them how to pray properly and respect the rights of all members of the mosque.
"70 Issues Related to Fasting" Sultan.org
"Is Tarawih Mandatory on Women?" Islam on Line
"Night Prayer During Ramadan (Taraweeh), "Mission Islam
The month of Ramadan approaches and even the Muslim of weakest faith jumps for joy at the thought of all the excitement and family gatherings.
Funny how people always think of Muslims struggling and dying of thirst during Ramadan, but few really understand the extreme excitement that Muslims experience during the Ramadan holiday. The closer Ramadan gets, the more excitement grows among devout Muslims.
Like many other religions, Islam involves a belief in angels; an angel plays a major role during the period leading up to Ramadan.According to Islamic belief, Ramadan is a time when Angel Gabriel will come to earth and shake the hands of Muslims who are successful in completing Layalat al-Qadr. Muslims eagerly anticipate the month of Ramadan, as they imagine the thrill of that moment when they encounter an angel who has six hundred wings and a wing span that reaches as far as the eye can see. In Islam, it's believed that this creation of Allah appears to Muslims with one message:"Well done, oh servant of Allah."
What Can a Muslim Expect During Ramadan?
Visions of Angel Gabriel aside, what else elicits excitement among Muslims as they worship and fasting during the month of Ramadan? Millions of Muslims will be running to do as many good deeds as possible during this period of time. In Islam, it's believed that Allah will reward the fasting person with many blessings and rewards; for Muslims, seeking the ultimate pleasure of Allah is indeed the goal.
Ramadan also features lots of food and family gatherings for meals the mark the end of each day's fast. It's believed that anyone who feeds a fasting person will receive the same reward as the person who receives the meal. So there are many family gatherings and many occasions when the Muslim will be invited to partake in the breaking of fast with others.
Good Deeds Increase the Excitement of Ramadan
For Muslims, one of the most exciting elements of Ramadan involves giving to charity and doing all sorts of good deeds. There is the required zakat (charity for the needy) that must be provided by Muslims each year, but many will do more than the bare minimum. Zakat is calculated based on the amount of money, silver and gold that's held for one year.
Over and above the required 2.5% zakat, is charity or "sadakah" which is also given to the poor and needy. Muslim families often compete with each other to see who can contribute the most to the needy within the community. In Islam, the silent charity is regarded as the best form of giving. It is also considered ideal to give all sadakah directly to the poor person. The purpose of sadakah is to ensure that the poor and the needy can enjoy Ramadan, along with the the more financially stable and wealthy individuals.
For many Muslims, there are few experiences that surpass the joy and excitement of witnessing the face of a Muslim who receives a gift, like a package of food or money. The month of Ramadan is a time of fellowship and unity among members of the Islamic community.
Family Gatherings at Ramadan
Although all family gatherings bring excitement and joy, they do cause many fasting Muslims to feel over-stuffed and lazy; it's comparable to the feeling that many Americans experience following a large Thanksgiving dinner. So while it may be tempting to relax following a meal and gathering, Muslims believe it's important to keep up with religious activities like late night prayers and other forms of worship. It is also forbidden to overeat after a day of fasting as this would take away from the reason for fasting. Fasting is intended to serve as a reminder that there are those who must go without food and other necessities.
While many Muslims are invited to family gatherings, it is each person's responsibility to return the favor. So many Muslims make plans to invite loved ones over for a dinner that is specifically prepared to reap the reward that they believed Allah has promised. It's believed that when inviting others over for a dinner to break the fast, the host should present a plentiful meal with a few delicacies so as to make the fasting person say a dua (supplication) for the host.
Sending Free Ramadan Cards to Family and Close Friends
The internet has served as a way to increase the excitement of the blessed Ramadan season, as Muslims can now send e-cards via the web. By simply a click of a button or mouse, a card is sent to all loved ones. Flashing and shinning Ramadan cards showing mosques, crescent moons and stars. It is indeed part of the excitement of Ramadan to send everyone a greeting card. Here are some links to make the job easy:
Layalat-al-Qadr, also know as "The night of power" is a night of worship worth 83 years and a night when Angels come to Muslims worshiping Allah.
Laylat-al-Qadr is a blessed night of power in Islam. Laylat-al-Qadr shall come on a peaceful and serene evening according to the hadith (the words and deeds of Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him*). It's said that it will be a night of peace; a night when it is neither cold nor hot; a night when a Muslim's heart will be at peace.
Laylat-al-Qadr falls in the last ten days of Ramadan; it usually falls on an odd day, such as the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th of the month. Though there have been some hadiths that indicate that Layalat-al-Qadr has occurred on even days of the month. Muslims search for Layalat-al-Qadr during the last ten days of Ramadan; during this period, they are prepared for Allah's blessings.
Muslim Belief in Shaking Hands With Angels
When the Muslim is fasting in Ramadan and supplicating to Allah, many forget to ask to have an accepted Layalat-al-Qadr. On an extremely beautiful night — said to be worth 1,000 months of prayers and worship — it's believed that the Angel Gabriel descends with 70,000 angels to shake the hands of the worshiping Muslims.
According to Islamic belief, the word of peace may be said by Angel Gabriel to Allah's servants on that most blessed and sacred night.
The Quran describes the event, saying, "Indeed We sent it [the Holy Quran] down on the Night of Power. What will convey to you what the Night of Power is like! Better is the Night of Power than a thousand months in that Night the angels and the Spirit descend by the permission of their Lord for every affair. Peace it is, till the break of dawn." (Sura Al-Qadr, verses 1-5)
The "spirit" mentioned here refers to the Blessed Angel Gabriel descending on the earth where believing Muslims greet him; he and the angels shake the hands of all devoted servants of Allah. Muslims believe that these last ten days are a good time to perform I'tikaf or Seclusion in the Mosque.
Angel Gabriel and the other 70,000 angels will make Dua (supplication) for all humanity and believing Muslims on this evening. It's believed that there are several signs of a successful "Night of Power" also such as goose bumps on the arms, tears in the eyes when praying and taraweed salat (voluntary prayers performed late at night). Some believers have actually reported a movement in the hands. It's said that a peacefulness or serene feeling in the heart should accompany these feelings also.
Who are the Angels, According to Islam?
Belief in angels is the second pillar of faith in Islam and on the shahadah (declaration of faith in Islam). Not only do Muslims believe in Gabriel, but the Muslims believe in all angels sent from Allah.
According to the Quran, "The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. All believe in Allah, His Angels and His Messengers." (Sura Baqarah, verse 285)
Angels are made from light, where the jinn were created from a smokeless fire. To believe and love the Angels is part of the Islamic faith. It's said that Angel Gabriel was the angel who gave the verses of the Quran to Prophet Mohammad, so he is much-loved by all Muslims.
On this topic, the Quran says, "Say: Who is an enemy to Jibreel (Gabriel)? For it is he who brought it (this Quran) down to your hearts, by Allah's permission, confirming that which was before it, and as a guidance and a mercy to the believers. Whoever is an enemy to Allah, and to His Angels, and to His Messengers, and (in particular to) Jibreel and Mika'el (Michael), then let him know that Allah is an enemy to the disbeliever." (Sura Al Baqarah, verses 97-98)
Layalat-Al-Qadr is The Night of Power
Laylat-al-Qadr is a blessed night of power; it's not a night that should be taken lightly or missed. The night arrives unexpectedly, so devout Muslims look for the signs during the last days of Ramadan; many watch the sunrise for confirmation as to whether the night was, indeed, Layalat-al-Qadr.
It's said that on the morning following Layalat-al-Qadr, the sun will be like a flat disk with no rays visible until the sun rises half way in the horizon. Muslims believe that the miracle of Allah will astonish and amaze people who witness the beauty of the horizon alongside the sun's glory. When the signs are observed, devout Muslims rush to prayer and thank Allah for being among those who has witnessed this miracle.
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket: pandabear-4
Ramadan is ending and the excitement is building as many are anticipating the conclusion of fasting and the beginning of the Islamic holiday.
Ramadan Mubarak means congratulations on a successful Ramadan or Ramadan blessings. Some say Ramadan Mubarak, but many say, "Koll Aaam Wa Antom Bekhayr." Ramadan was a month of sacrifice and a month of worship hoping to sight Layalat al-Qadr. Layalat al-Qadr is a night worth 1000 months of worship and a night when the angels greet the successful worshipers.
The next morning at sunrise the sun rises like the moon with no rays to show Muslims that the miracle of Allah has passed. If anyone has ever seen this beautiful miracle, the Muslim will be in shock and amazement at the absolute beauty of the moment.
According to the hadith, there will only be a few who will be granted the right to see this event, so being among those chosen is a great honor. Afterwards run to prayer and thank Allah for allowing this miracle to come to pass and the blessings that were received.
Ramadan Mubarak – The End of Ramadan
After the sighting of Layalat al-Qadr many Muslims will get lazy and neglect the full worship of Ramadan. It was for this reason that Muslims must strive to be steadfast after Ramadan. A test of a successful Ramadan will be a change in the Muslim's character. Could any Muslim not be changed if Angel Gabriel was shown in the same form as was to Prophet Mohammad, upon receiving the Quran?
The end of Ramadan should be met with more worship and more praise, not less. It should be a time when the heart is filled with joy and that many black stains are removed. It is a time that all Muslims will gather together, not to make "Cake de Eid" (date cookies), but a time when the Quran is read more and nafl (voluntary) prayers increase.
As Ramadan comes to a close, reflect on the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad and how he did not sleep the night before the prayer of Eid and worshiped Allah the entire evening to get the entire reward of a successful Ramadan.
Islamic Holidays and Food Served to Guest
Although Katayef is traditionally served during Ramadan and usually after the meal to visitors, it can still be served on the Eid holiday also. Katayef is a pancake like bread that is stuffed with dates, cheese or a nut mixture. It is then topped with sugar syrup that is laced with cinnamon. Here is the recipe: Katayef. Some guest will make the traditional sweet holiday bread with many spices including sesame, anise and black cumin.
The Islamic holiday after Ramadan is called Eid (holiday) ul Fitr. It is traditionally celebrated for 4 days and during those 4 days; families go from house to house of neighbors and family greeting them. It is traditional when visitors come, to serve them mamoul (date cookies) and Arabic coffee. Arabic coffee is slow brewed with cardamom and has no sugar. It is served in tiny cups and any guest who refuses to drink some Arabic coffee has insulted the family.
Mamoul is made with lots of oil (clarified butter and oil) and many spices and some sugar. It is filled with dates and some mamoul is filled with nuts. Some mamoul is dusted with powdered sugar also. Mamoul will take days to make so a family who serves mamoul and Arabic coffee is one who cares about the guests and has preserved the family name.
Eid ul Fitr Greeting Cards
Greeting cards came into existence in recent years as technology improved. The computer age erupted and made the sending of Eid cards very simple. Eid cards are not a Sunnah tradition of Ramadan. With many companies offering e-cards this meant that cards and greetings could be sent around the world in an instant and many companies are offering free Eid greeting cards.
Greeting cards are a way of showing love ones the real love of Islam and family unity. Not all families can visit and be together and for many the Islamic holiday is sad and lonely. Receiving a card just may be a way of doing a good deed and a way to be blessed for the intention.
Ramadan Mubarak is a Day of Success
In the end when all is said in done; the end of Ramadan is a day of success. The Muslim has successfully finished the fasting, given the zakat (charity to the needy) and paid the Fitr (money due the poor) and attended the Salat of Eid (prayer after Ramadan). Saying Ramadan Mubarak over and over again is traditionally done at the announcement when Ramadan has ended and after the prayer service is concluded.
It is sad in many ways, as during Ramadan there are many get-togethers and much time spent with friends praying at the Mosque which will be missed. It is also sad to see Muslims who do not follow the Ramadan teachings the entire year.
On the authority of Ibn 'Umar, who said: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, took me by the shoulder and said: "Be in this world as though you were a stranger or a traveler/wayfarer."
Ibn 'Umar used to say: "When evening comes, do not expect (to live till) morning, and when morning comes, do not expect (to live till) evening. Take from your health (a preparation) for your illness, and from your life for your death." [Al-Bukhari]
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
Photo courtesy of Photobucket: succubus121
Sunnah is the ways that Prophet Mohammad lived and spoke. The Sunnah of Ramadan is the way Prophet Mohammad performed fasting and prayers.
Ramadan comes in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar after Sha'ban and before Shawwal. It is a month that all Muslims long for and pray that the life be extended to see a successful Ramadan. It is a month dearer to most Muslims than anything on earth. Sadly to say many Muslims have strayed away from following the Sunnah and have leaned towards culture.
New Muslim converts are taught in schools upon converting the correct way to worship Allah and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him. By only doing what has been shown to be a strong hadith of Prophet Mohammad, the Muslim believer is assured that this Sunnah or tradition of the Prophet is the best and only way to fast; worship and yes even to love.
The Sunnah Tradition of Sha'ban
To fully understand the Sunnah traditions of Ramadan, the pious Muslim must first understand the preparation month prior to Ramadan. Prophet Mohammad fasted more in the month of Sha'ban than any other month except Ramadan and also said that Sha'ban was the month where people do not pay attention.
Usamah ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased*) said, "I said, 'O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting in any other month like you fast in Sha'ban.' He said, 'That is a month to which people do not pay attention, between Rajab and Ramadan, and it is a month in which deeds are lifted up to the Lord of the Worlds. I like for my deeds to be lifted up when I am fasting.'" (Narrated by al-Nasa'i).
Fasting According to the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad
There are five things that Prophet Mohammad never gave up and were reported by Hafsah, "There are five things that the Prophet never abandoned: fasting the day of 'Ashurah, fasting the [first] ten [days of Zhul-Hijjah], fasting three days of every month and praying two rak'ah before the dawn prayer." This is related by Ahmad and an-Nasa'i.
It was a pleasure to follow Prophet Mohammad and his ways by the companions and the best among them was Abu Bakr. When looking to follow the Sunnah and the best companion, it is best to follow Abu Bakr. The love Abu Bakr showed and the torture that was sustained to protect the religion of Islam and the Prophet, would show Muslims in today's society how truly to follow the Sunnah.
Abu Bakr never questioned whatever was told by Prophet Mohammad and Abu Bakr only wanted to submit. What does submit means? To follow what was asked by the Prophet. Who can go to heaven? Those who will submit. Once the love and extreme devotion of Abu Bakr is achieved, Muslims everywhere will now want to fast as Prophet Mohammad did and taught to the companions and followers.
Suhoor is A Blessing to Those Who Will Submit
After the niyah (intention) is made silently, a light meal called suhoor before the beginning of the fast is necessary when following the Sunnah traditions of Ramadan. Suhoor can be as little as a date and a few sips of water but is very necessary as the angels ask for forgiveness for the Muslim partaking of suhoor.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Have suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing (barakah)." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fath, 4/139).
Keeping Away From Sins
It is very important in Ramadan and following the Sunnah traditions that all Muslims refrain from haram (forbidden) actions seeking the pleasure of Allah. These actions could include: backbiting, scandal mongering, lying, stealing and cheating. Prophet Mohammad was the glowing example of the Quran and according to him,"When any of you is fasting, let him not commit sin." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 1904).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Whoever does not stop speaking falsehood and acting in accordance with it, Allah has no need of him giving up his food and drink." (Al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 1903).
Being the Most Generous
Another Sunnah tradition of Ramadan is being very generous. It is a time to help the poor and the needy and to give the best, not the worst. It is a time when all Muslims should rush to help those in need. Prophet Mohammad never refused anyone who asked of him.
"The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) was more generous in doing good than a blowing wind." (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath no. 6).
Rush to Break the Fast
Another Sunnah tradition of the prophet was to rush to break the fast. When breaking the fast say, "Allahumma laka sumtu wa 'ala ridhqika aftartu" (O Allah! For You did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the fast.). Prophet Mohammad use to break the fast with fresh dates. If fresh dates were not available then dried dates and if dried dates were not available, then water. After eating the dates and drinking the water, Prophet Mohammad prayed.
It is important not to overfill the stomach when breaking the fast. The Sunnah states to fill the stomach with 1/3 food, 1/3 water and to leave 1/3 empty. Then after the meal is finished say, "The thirst has gone and the veins have recovered and the blessing is established if Allah wills" (dhahaba dhamaa'a wabtallat al-urooq wa thabatal ajr inshaa'allaah) [Ahmad, Al-Baihaaqee].
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
"About Sunnah Fasting," All Experts
"Fasting (Siam) - According to the Quran and the Sunnah," Mosque for the Praising of Allah
There are many things that Muslims should avoid while fasting and this article will explain fully how to fast correctly. Is boycotting part of fasting?
Ramadan is a month of everything halal (permissible) and it is a month of avoiding the haram (forbidden). The rules and guidelines of Ramadan have been established by Prophet Mohammad over 1400 years ago and the sharia has emphasized the importance of following the Sunnah (ways and words of the prophet).
When looking at how to become closer to Allah, the Muslim should avoid things that would allow the shaitan (devil) to enter and cause doubt in the mind. When Ramadan approaches and Muslims everywhere are preparing for a month of fasting and devotion, it is a time also to prepare the home.
Which foods to eat when breaking the fast may include avoiding boycotted products of both Israel and Denmark. Boycotting was never part of the Sunnah, but what is part of Islam is defending Muslims being persecuted and defending anyone annoying Prophet Mohammad in anyway.
Many prominent leaders from all over the world have praised Prophet Mohammad in how he was one of the great leaders of the world. Here are a few things that have been said: Prophet Mohammad: You Must Know This Man.
It should be a personal decision concerning boycotting and something that is suggested, not something mandatory. Ramadan is to avoid all thoughts of war, hatred and desire to do harm. It is a month of wanting to help those who have less, the sick and the persecuted. Boycotting is a peaceful demonstration affecting the pocketbooks of those who harm Islam.
Is Smoking Forbidden While Fasting?
The sharia has stated that anything that harms the body and that will cause eventual death including food and drugs must be avoided. For this reason smoking is haram. During fasting Muslims are not permitted foods, drugs (unless a medical necessity) and smoking. Many Muslims will go the entire month without smoking and as soon as the call for prayer is announced, the smoking starts once more.
Smoking is an addictive substance and it harms the body and it harms those near. The second most preventable death is second hand smoke. On judgment day would a Muslim be held accountable for the death of a spouse due to the inhalation of smoke fumes? Allah knows best.
Backbiting, Lying and Scandal Mongering Forbidden All the Time
Lying is a sign of being a hypocrite and being a hypocrite is one reason for severe punishment of the grave. No true Muslim can be a liar as this is against everything taught in Islam. It is important while fasting in Ramadan that the Muslim remain honest and pure.
"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Both backbiting, spreading of gossip and scandal mongering are forbidden in Islam. Scandal mongering is the spreading of a "truth" in a manner that would not please the person being talked about. Scandal mongering is the worst of the three sins also.
"The worst servant of Allah is the one who is double faced, who praises his Muslim brother in his presence and speaks ill of him in his absence; and he is jealous of him when the other is rich, but forsakes him when in need. (Imam Ja'far Al-Saadiq, book of Al-Usool from Al-Kaafi, Vol. 2, page 343).
This saying speaks of lying and scandal mongering. Two of the worst sins a devout Muslim can possess. The better Muslim speaks good or remains silent and covers the faults of the Muslim brother.A Muslim must make 70 excuses for a friend before becoming angry.
Sexual Intercourse to be Avoided
All sexual intercourse is to avoided until the fast is broken. Both husband and wife are held responsible for any sexual contact. Even kissing must be avoided, if it would arouse feelings that need to be avoided. Prophet Mohammad has guided the Muslim on the correct conduct during Ramadan and should a Muslim break this rule, the fast is void. Unlike when food is eaten accidentally, the Muslim simply asks Allah for forgiveness and continues the fast.
If the sexual intercourse was intentional then the Muslim must fast an additional 60 days continuously in a row. If the person is unable to do that then the feeding of 60 poor people is necessary. In addition to sexual intercourse, masturbation is also forbidden.
Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil and Say No Evil
In a final summary of what is to be avoided, follow the "speak no evil, hear no evil and say no evil" title. Television and computer time should be eliminated, except for the watching of news, prayer services in Mecca and Medina and programs to teach the Muslim how to fast and become close to Allah.
Do not remain in the company of those who do wrong and commit sins and avoid and backbiting and scandal mongering. The Muslim who listens to gossiping would be held responsible as though the words came from their own mouth. It is a time to read Quran, go to the mosque and pray the late night prayers and send blessings on Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him.
Search for Layalat al Qadr in the last ten days of the month and say A Special Prayer for Layalat Al-Qadr in hopes of obtaining the reward of 1000 months of worship. Say dua for the sick, the needy and the persecuted and make nothing bad in the dua and only seek Allah's protection from any evil intended.
Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
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All Muslims must fast in the month of Ramadan unless they are traveling or ill. During Ramadan, Muslims hear no evil, speak no evil and worship Allah.
Ramadan comes but once a year and it is a time when the Muslim must live the life that was dictated by the Quran and the sunnah (ways of the prophet). It's said that Allah needs nothing from the Muslim who fasts, but speaks and hears evil words during this very significant month in Islamic culture.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet Mohammad, (peace and blessings be upon him*) explained, "Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech." [Bukhari and others]
Intention of the Muslim Fasting in Ramadan
At the start of Ramadan, all Muslims must begin by silently reiterating their intention to fast the entire month of Ramadan. This is done in the heart, not verbally. It's said that it's sufficient to reiterate the intention to fast at the beginning of the month; it's not necessary to make the intention daily. The mere act of beginning to fast is an act upon the intention to complete the requisite Ramadan fast, which occurs from dawn to dusk.
There are Blessings in the Suhoor for Muslims Fasting
It is sunnah (usual practice in Islam) to have suhoor (light meal before beginning the fast) and there are many blessings at this time. The suhoor, which should be very light, will help the Muslim to handle the fast with greater ease. There are many hadiths on the blessings of the suhoor.
A companion said, "I entered upon the Prophet and he was taking the Suhoor and he said: "It is a blessing which Allah has given to you, so do not leave it". [Ahmad and an-Nasa'i; Sahih].
Why should a Muslim fasting partake of suhoor? It's said that Allah forgives the person eating suhoor and sends his mercy upon them. Muslims also believe that the angels will ask Allah to pardon the person eating suhoor and even the eating of a date or a sip of water could be counted as suhoor.
What is Forbidden While a Muslim is Fasting?
As stated above, the Muslim fasting must abstain from all bad talk and even listing to bad talk. This means that the television should not be watched except for news and shows on Islam. For even watching a most religious show may have commercials that have haram (forbidden) songs or deeds.
It is best to spend the time worshiping Allah with zikr (praise), reading Quran, doing voluntary prayers and doing good deeds. Charity given while fasting will bring great rewards to the Muslim fasting. The other things forbidden while fasting is intercourse, lying, backbiting and cursing. No food or drink is allowed or is smoking.
If the Muslim fasting is in dire need of an inhaler to breathe with, this is permissible. It's believed that acts such as going to the dentist should be postponed unless an emergency. Injections are allowed if the fasting Muslim is ill or requires medical attention. Keep in mind that Muslims are not required to fast if they feel that they are too ill to do so.
Study the Quran While Muslim is Fasting in Ramadan
It's said that one of the best deeds a Muslim can do during Ramadan is to recite the Quran. Most Muslims fasting will endeavor to read the entire Quran over and over during the month of Ramadan. It is forbidden to read the Quran in less than three days during other times of the year, but in Ramadan, this does not apply. Many scholars and religious people recited the Quran daily during the month of Ramadan, for it's believed that every word read in the Quran is equal to ten good deeds.
Breaking the Fast in the Month of Ramadan
The fast was done humbly and the Muslim fasting sought the pleasure of Allah and his mercy. So before breaking the fast, one must make a dua (supplication) and ask for what is needed. Muslims believe that the dua of a fasting person is granted, as promised by Allah. When a dua is granted, it could be granted in the next life or it may involve the removal of a bad event that was previously part of the Muslim's destiny.
According to Abu Huraira, the Messenger of Allah said, "The supplications of three groups of peoples are not rejected; the du'aa (Supplication) of the fasting person when he is breaking his fast, the du'aa of the just Imam and the du'aa of the oppressed." [Tirmidhee, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibbaan]
After making the dua, one must wait for the adhan (call to prayer) to be called and then break the fast with some dates) and some water. If no dates are available then just water.
The Muslim fasting should say before breaking the fast, "Allahumma laka sumtu wa 'ala ridhqika aftartu" (O Allah! For You did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the fast.). Then after finished eating the food, the Muslim fasting should say, 'The thirst has gone and the veins have recovered and the blessing is established if Allah wills.' [This translates into] 'Dhahaba dhamaa'a wabtallat al-urooq wa thabatal ajr inshaa'allaah.'" [Ahmad, Al-Baihaaqee]
Praying the Late Night Prayers
It is sunnah to pray the late night prayers (taraweeh) in congregation for men; this is voluntary for women. The blessings that are obtained from praying the taraweeh prayers are believed to be significant. Abu Hurayrah stated that, the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him*) said, "Whoever prays at night in Ramadan out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Praying taraweeh prayers and then later in the night many Muslims fasting will pray Qiyam prayers which is prayed after midnight. In the last ten days of Ramadan, Mecca and Medina have Qiyam prayers televised. It is a time of great reward to participate in all prayers in the month of Ramadan.
*Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
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A few days before the end of Ramadan, Muslim women will gather together and start making the “Cake de Eid” or more commonly called "mamoul." Mamoul is a cake like cookie filled with dates or walnuts. Mamoul is traditional at all Eid Al-Fitr celebrations. When the guest arrives, they are served Arabic coffee (Turkish coffee with no sugar) and a few “Cake de Eids.”
Making the mamoul will take a long time and it is regarded as a special treat for all guests. The dough for the cookie is made with seminola or flour or a mixture of the two. Both oil and ghee is used and the filling is made with dates, cinnamon and olive oil. The mamoul cookies are shaped and formed, sometimes using special designs.
The Night Preceding Eid Al-Fitr
The night before Eid al-Fitr is regarded as a very blessed night and Muslims believe that it should be spent in nafl (voluntary) salat (prayers) and worship. There will be no taraweeh prayers on this last night of Ramadan, but a devout Muslim will spend the night in prayer, remembrance of Allah and reading the Quran.
Before the Eid al-Fitr salat, Mulsims will be sure to pay the “Sadakah Al-Fitr.” This is money due to the poor and the needy. Every Muslim must pay this, even the poor. Sadakah al-Fitr is a fairly small amount of money equal to 1.75 kilograms of wheat for every person in the family.
On this topic, Ibn 'Umar said, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, made zakat al-Fitr obligatory for the Muslims - slave and free, male and female, young and old, being a sa' of dates or a sa' of barley. He commanded that it be paid before people went out to the prayer." (Muwatta, Book 17, 52)
Preparing to go to Eid Al Fitr Salat
The morning of Eid al-Fitr, it is considered sunnah (consistent with the ways of the prophet) to perform certain acts in preparation of thanking Allah for a blessed Ramadan. These acts include:
- Wake up early in the morning and take a bath.
- Brush the teeth with a Miswak or a toothbrush.
- Wear the best available clothes.
- Wear perfume (men only.)
- Eat a few dates before the Eid prayer.
- Recite the following Takbir in the low voice while going to the 'Eid prayer: "Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar La Ilaha Ila Allah Wa Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Wa Lillahi Alhamd."
Eid Al-Fitr Salat (Prayers)
In Islam, the Eid prayers should be performed in an open field or area if possible. It is not recommended to conduct Eid prayers in every single mosque. It is said to be a time for Muslims to celebrate Eid together in large gatherings. If a large field or park is not available, then a large mosque will suffice.
The Eid prayer is mandatory for every male Muslim. Muslim women must attend Eid prayers if there are no emergency situations in the home, such as issues involving small children or sick and elderly parents that require assistance or tending. The Eid prayer should be attended and prior to the prayer takbir should be recited:"Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar La Ilaha Ila Allah Wa Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar Wa Lillahi Alhamd."
When not reciting the takbir (above), saying zikr (remembrance of Allah) is recommended. No nafl salat (voluntary prayers) are recited in the home prior to or after the salat; Muslims may recite nafl salat in the home after returning from the Eid prayers.
The Eid prayer is distinct from other Muslim prayers. The Imam will lead the salat (prayers) and there will be six sets of takbirs (Allah Akbar). Three of the takbirs will be in the beginning of the salat. After each takbir, the hands are raised to the ears. At the beginning of the second rakat, after the Imam or sheik recites the Fatiha and something from the Quran, an additional three takbirs are recited. Some mosques will do all six takbirs at once at the beginning of the salat and then proceed with the prayer.
The Eid Prayer Khutbah (Sermon)
The Khutbah itself is regarded as an inspirational event and it involves praising Allah. Muslims should listen intensely and reverently to what the Imam has to say. It is regarded as a time to remember Allah’s blessings and to be thankful to be present in such an assembly. Muslims should not leave the Eid prayer early hoping to avoid the crowds; they should stay until after the final dua is said; then, it's customary to greet everyone in the room with a congratulations or “Ramadan Mubarak.”
Eid Al-Fitr Celebrations Begin at the End of Ramadan
Islamic holidays and celebrations are unlike Christian or Jew celebrations. In a non-Islamic situation, there may be partying, dancing, music and singing – this is not so in a Muslim community. Muslims will visit friends and relatives, drink Arabic coffee, chat, hug each other and then praise Allah for His bounty at the end of Ramadan. It is normal for Muslim families to make the rounds, visiting each home for a brief period of time. It is considered “ib" (inappropriate)” to refuse Arabic coffee when offered.
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This is a very long prayer for Layalat al-Qadr , which is translated by Dr. Muzammil Sidiqqi. This prayer has been condensed to show the main parts only.
Layalat al-Qadr is a night when the Muslim, who is worshiping Allah, believes he will be granted the reward of 1000 months of worship. The 1000 months is equal to 83 years and no amount of supplication, voluntary prayers or good deeds could equal this same reward for a Muslim in this life. Muslims believe that it is imperative to search and implore Allah, The Benefactor, to grant and allow the sighting of Layalat al-Qadr.
Dr. Muzammil Sidiqqi is the President of the Fiqh Council and currently the Director of Buena Park, California Mosque. Muslims around the world will benefit from the very beautiful and loving prayer that has been given as a gift.
The Beginning of the Prayer for Layalat Al-Qadr
The prayer for Layalat Al-Qadr begins with: "God the Almighty has spoken the truth. There is no God but He, Unique in His Majesty. Perfect in His beauty with honor and greatness. He the exalted in His glory has revealed the Quran upon His servant so that he be a warner for the worlds. His Prophet, many blessings and salutations be upon him, has also spoken the truth."
According to Islamic beliefs, God, Allah has told all of humanity the truth, not just Muslims. Notice that the attributes to Allah are always capitalized, such as "His Majesty," "The Creator" and "The All Knowing."
Muslims believe that the Prophet Mohammad has spoken the truth and for believers, it's vital to listen to his message. Prayer plays a vital role in Islam.
Part Two of the Layalat Al-Qadr Prayer
In the second part of prayer for Layalat Al-Qadr, the Muslim says: "Our Lord, all thanks and praise belong to You and Your mighty favors and great blessings. You revealed to us the best of Your books and sent to us the most supreme among Your messengers and established for us the best rules of the Religion that You chose for us and You guided us to the elevated principles of the religion of your choice and based on Five rules: the Declaration that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the prayers, giving for the Zakat (charity), fasting during Ramadan and Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah."
In all prayers, Muslims believe they must thank Allah and offer praise to him. Notice that "You" and "Your" is again capitalized as this refers to Allah. When praying to Allah, Muslims believe that he must be offered great respect if they are to expect a satisfactory answer. In Islam, there is great value placed upon remaining humble during prayer and speaking from the heart.
Part Three of the Layalat Al-Qadr Prayer
"O Allah, You are the forgiver, You love to forgive so forgive us. O Allah, Your mercy is greater than our sins. O Allah, Your mercy is greater than our sins. O Allah, You said and Your word is true! 'Call me and I shall respond to your call' So here we are standing humbly and obediently before You, we confess our sins, so forgive our errors and have mercy upon us and over our sins with Your mercy, O the most Merciful."
In order for a Muslim to receive mercy in this life and the next, the heart must be filled with remorse for past sins and love for Allah.
Part Four of the Prayer
"O Allah, let us live as Muslims and let us die as Muslims and keep us in the company of the righteous. O Allah, save us with Islam whether standing, sitting or sleeping and give not any joy to our enemies or to those who are jealous on our misfortunes. O Allah, make our last deeds the best deeds and the conclusion of all our deeds good and the best of our days the Day we shall meet you. O Allah, You are the most Forgiving One, You love to forgive, so forgive us."
This particular prayer is a very emotional experience for the devout Muslim. At this part in the prayer, tears are often pouring from the individual's eyes as he begs for forgiveness and mercy.
There is also a great deal of emotion due to the eager anticipation of Layalat al-Qadr; the night arrives unexpectedly, so devout Muslims look for the signs during the last days of Ramadan. Many watch the sunrise for confirmation as to whether the night was, indeed, Layalat-al-Qadr.
It's said that on the morning following Layalat-al-Qadr, the sun will be like a flat disk with no rays visible until the sun rises half way in the horizon. Muslims believe that the miracle of Allah will astonish and amaze people who witness the beauty of the horizon alongside the sun's glory. When the signs are observed, devout Muslims rush to prayer and thank Allah for being among those who has witnessed this miracle. Muslims believe that it is good to be in seclusion in the mosque seeking Allah's reward on Layalat al-Qadr.
The End of the Prayer
The prayer ends with: "Glory to our Lord, The Mighty and Exalter be He from all they ascribe to Him. Peace be upon His messengers and Praised be Allah the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon his family and companions."
Islamic hadith and tradition says to send peace to Prophet Mohammad in the beginning and end of all prayers.
To read the entire prayer read here:
*Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
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The 15th of Sha'ban or "Laylatul-bara'ah" is a night when Allah, The Creator, will decide the destiny of Muslims. This includes death, health and wealth.
Mid Sha'ban or "Laylatul-bara'ah" as the Sunni Muslims call the night, is a time when Allah comes to the first heaven and asks, "Is there anyone seeking sustenance so that I may grant him? Is there anyone seeking forgiveness so that I may forgive him? Is there anyone in need so that I may fulfill that need?"
In Islam, this is a night when all Muslims should seek the forgiveness of Allah, The Almighty, and ask for what is needed. For Muslims, jannah (heaven) is the ultimate goal.
Acts of Worship to do on the 15th of Sha'ban
The acts of worship that are performed on this special evening are the same as those which are performed on special nights of merit, such as on the day of Arafat. These acts of worship may include voluntary prayers, praising Allah, reading the Quran, sending blessings on Prophet Mohammad and charity for the poor. Doing good deeds is especially meritorious.
It's believed that Allah will forgive sins on this evening except for those who do not follow his commands and those individuals who fall into these categories, according to :
- Backbiters and scandal mongerers
- Those who harbor enmity against other Muslims.
- Individuals who are alcoholics.
- Those who disobey their parents.
- Those who wear their trousers below their ankles.
- Those who commit adultery regularly.
- Those who sever family ties.
What is a Weak Hadith?
Weak hadiths are ones not verified through a reliable source, such as Muslim, Bukhari or Dawood. Although many weak hadiths are correct and true, it is better to stick with a strong hadith when possible. Does this mean then that 15 Sha'ban is not the day Allah will decide the destiny of humanity? The scholars have stated that this day should be spent in worship and that it is not bid'ah to fast and worship.
"Almighty Allah descends to the lowest Heaven on the 15th night of Sha'ban and forgives such number of people that is more than the number of the hairs of the sheep of Banu Kalb (a tribe that has a great number of sheep)." (Al-Bukhari stated weak hadith)
What is Bid'ah?
Bid'ah is an innovation and something that Prophet Mohammad never practiced. In other words, it was not "sunnah" or a practice of the Prophet. Prophet Mohammad warned that future generations would practice bid'ah. Bid'ah is an innovation of belief or an innovation of action.
There are two types of bid'ah. Bid'ah of this world include innovations related to medicine and technology; the other type is bid'ah of religion. For Muslims, the former type of bid'ah are not haram (forbidden), but the latter — innovations of religion — are considered haram and thus, must be avoided.
Aisha reported that the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) said: "Whoever innovates into this affair of ours something that we have not commanded it is to be rejected." (Bukhari and Muslim)
According to Jaabir, the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him*) also said, "The best speech is the Book of Allah and the best guidance and example is that of Prophet Mohammad, and the worse of all things are the newly invented things (in the religion), for every innovation is a error and a misguidance." (Muslim) It's also said that "…Every innovation is a going astray and every going astray is in the fire." (Tirmidhi)
15 Sha'ban - Debate about the Night of Bounty and Forgiveness
There is much debate about whether worshiping on a supposed night of bounty and forgiveness is to be regarded as bid'ah. With the huge number of hadiths (narrations based on the deeds/words of the Prophet Mohammad) written about this special evening, most scholars believe that this night deserves worship and special merit.
It's believed that the Prophet Mohammad did fast during most of the month; this is documented by Al-Bukhari, but there is not a strong hadith to prove Prophet Mohammad fasted on the 15th of Sha'ban.
According to Moulana Abdur Rahman Mubarakpuri who writes in the commentary of Tirmidhi, "The sheer number of Ahaadith regarding this night serve as proof against those people who refute the excellence of this night."
*Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
Islam Knowledge. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
Rasoulallah. Retrieved July 10, 2010.
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Learn How to Perform this Sunnah of the Prophet
I'tikaf or Seclusion in the Mosque is to stick to something whether good or bad and to block everything else out of your life. A time for Allah only.
I'tikaf is seclusion in the Mosque for the pure pleasure of Allah. The only reason one leaves is to relieve one self or to perform wudu (washing for the prayer.) It is allowed to leave the Mosque for food and drink also, but it is preferred not to.
I'tikaf is sunnah of the Prophet and it is something that everyone should perform during Ramadan. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) use to perform I'tikaf with his wives and companions in the Mosque. It should be pointed out that there is no sound hadith about the merits of I'tikaf.
The proof for this (I'tikaf) is in the hadîth related by Aiesha where she says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to lean his head out of the mosque while he was observing i`tikâf and she would comb his hair. [Sahîh al-Bukhari (2046)]
Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) use to perform I'tikaf 10 days a year and on the year he died he performed 20 days of seclusion.
By saying the oath: "Oh Allah, I must make I'tikaf," this is a obligatory oath. A conditional oath is, "If Allah cures me, I will make I'tikaf." It is simple enough to say only this.
Length of I'tikaf
There is no set time or requirement. I'tikaf could be from Magrid to Isha prayer or for as long as the Muslim decides. The sunnah has no specific time and one should look only at how the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed his I'tikaf.
Conditions of I'itkaf
The person performing I'tikaf must be a Muslim adult, a discerning child who is free of sexual defilement or an adolescent who is free of menstrual or childbirth bleeding.
Principals of I'tikaf
I'tikaf will be fullfilled if a person stays in the Mosque to become closer to Allah. If the person is not in the Mosque and did this not for the pleasure of Allah, it is not I'tikaf. Intention is the first requirement.
The beginning and ending
There is no specific time to begin I'tikaf, so it depends on the intention and the oath. The I'tikaf ends when one leaves the Mosque. This meaning other than to go to the bathroom or eat and drink. If one intends to begin I'tikaf, it should be before sunset.
What Acts of Worship are preferred
The person performing I'itkaf should remain busy with the work of Allah, such as reading Quran, doing zikr, praying, making dua (supplications), asking for forgiveness, sending blessings on Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him). Included in these practices are reading the hadiths (ways of the Prophet) and books of tafsir (explanations of the Quran.)
It is disliked for the Muslim to concern himself with what is not his business and to engage in idle talking.
Acts that Nullify the I'tikaf
- Leaving the Mosque intentionally without a need.
- Abandoning belief in Islam.
- Becoming Insane or drunk or the start of one's period.
- Having sexual intercourse.
If for some reason the Muslim must break his I'tikaf, they may make it up later., some say it is obligatory.
I'itkaf is both a blessed time and a religious time. I'tikaf protects the Muslim from the hellfire and it is also following the sunnah (ways) of our Prophet (peace be upon him). I'tikaf can be performed for as little as a time between magrid prayers and isha prayers or for many days.
As many men flock to the Mosque to please Allah, they are remaining to do I'tikaf. There should be no talking about ordinary life subjects. The only subject to talk about in the true Islam is the deen (faith) ,the jannah (heaven) and our most beloved Prophet (peace be upon him).
* Muslims invoke Allah's blessings on the Prophet Muhammad whenever this name is mentioned.
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