The Month of Fasting [Ramadhan Al-Mubarak]

July 18, 2012 § 7 Comments

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, where over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world celebrate this holy month of Ramadhan every year. Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and it is an obligation on every adult and healthy Muslim to fast during the month of Ramadhan. Fasting is a total abstention from physical, psychological and emotional needs that includes eating, drinking, and sexual relations, immoral behavior and anger from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days of the month of Ramadhan.

The month of Ramadhan is also the month in which the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad SAW over a period of 23 years. It is a month where Muslims recharge their faith and increase their spiritual connection to Islam. In Ramadhan, the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are shut, and the shaitan (devils) are tied up and the reward for good deeds, acts of charity and acts of worship are multiplied many times over.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 123]

The purpose of fasting is not to just get hungry and thirsty but it is to become pious. It is when we increase our focus and attention towards submitting to Allah SWT. Performing night prayers (Taraweeh), read and finish the Qur’an within the month, refrain from speaking unless truly necessary and increasing our good deeds are required if we truly seek the benefits of Ramadhan.

Prophet SAW said: “A fasting person may get nothing from his fast except hunger and the one who prays at night may get nothing from his qiyaam but a sleepless night.” [Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1690; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.]
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” [Sahih Bukhari :: Book# 31 :: Hadith# 127]
Fasting offers unlimited rewards

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “Allah, the Majestic and the Exalted, said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him except fasting. It is done for My sake, and I will give a reward for it. By Allah in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk”. [Sahih Muslim :: Book# 6 :: Hadith# 2564]

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in obscene language, nor raise the voice; or if anyone revile him or tries to quarrel with him he should say: I am a person fasting. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of fast is sweeter to Allah on the Day of judgment than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two (occasions) of joy, one when he breaks the fast he is glad with the breaking of (the fast) and one when he meets his Lord he is glad with his fast. [Sahih Muslim :: Book# 6 :: Hadith# 2566]

 Narrated Sahl: The Prophet said, “There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Rayyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to observe fasts?’ They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.”  [Sahih Bukhari: Hadith #120, Book #31]

Fasting is a shield against the Fire:

Narrated by Abu Said: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying, “Indeed, anyone who fasts for one day for Allah’s pleasure, Allah will keep his face away from the (Hell) fire for (a distance covered by a journey of) seventy years.” [Bukhari Hadith 93 Volume 4, Book 52]

On the Day of Judgment, “Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him.” [Ahmad, al-Haakim and Abu Nu’aim, Hasan]

Fasting is a means to attain forgiveness for  one’s sins.

The Prophet (peace be upon him.) said: “He who fasts Ramadan, due to Iman and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his past sins are forgiven.”[al-Bukhari, Muslim]

The supplication of the fasting person is answered

There are in the month of Ramadan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted.” [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad, Saheeh]

Wishing all Muslims, Ramadhan Al-Mubarak!

Pay It Forward

July 3, 2012 § 19 Comments

Just this afternoon, I was watching a movie “Pay It Forward” over at HBO and was truly impressed about the concept it was trying to project. I found out it was released in 2000 (shows how outdated I am about movies) starring Haley Joel Osment as a boy who launches a good-will movement, Helen Hunt as his single mother, and Kevin Spacey as his social-studies teacher.

When someone does you a favor, don’t pay it back… PAY IT FORWARD

The 7th grader (Osment) while attending a class decided to do a project where he would do a favor to 3 people, his mum included. And the recipient of the favors were supposed to forward it to 3 other people, hence pay it forward. The move catches on and became a widespread phenomenon. The movie itself was weak despite strong performances from the leading actors and with a bad ending. How could a hero (the boy) died? Heroes shouldn’t die at end of movies. They should live!.

Back to the concept of “pay it forward”, it is used to describe the concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done for others instead. It was first mooted out in a prizewinning play in ancient Athens dating back to 317BC, by Dyskolos. The concept was rediscovered and described by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 25, 1784:

I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you […] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.

In 1916, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.

An anonymous spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous said in the Christian Science Monitor in 1944, “You can’t pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay forward.

The term “pay it forward” was popularized by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951:

The banker reached into the folds of his gown, pulled out a single credit note. “But eat first — a full belly steadies the judgment. Do me the honor of accepting this as our welcome to the newcomer.” His pride said no; his stomach said YES! Don took it and said, “Uh, thanks! That’s awfully kind of you. I’ll pay it back, first chance.” “Instead, pay it forward to some other brother who needs it.”

Heinlein both preached and practiced this philosophy; now the Heinlein Society, a humanitarian organization founded in his name, does so. Author Spider Robinson made repeated reference to the doctrine, attributing it to his spiritual mentor Heinlein.

The mathematician Paul Erdos heard about a promising math student unable to enroll in Harvard University for financial reasons. Erdos contributed enough to allow the young man to register. Years later, the man offered to return the entire amount to Erdos, but Erdos insisted that the man rather find another student in his situation, and give the money to him.

I was astonished to find out that it started so long ago and I had failed to come across it or even heard of it until this afternoon (I should thank HBO, no?). I must truly read more, I supposed. Such a grand scheme and we could all play a part in it and in return, help people who can then help other people. The thing is this concept must be done deliberately so that the recipients know what they need to do in returning the favors. Fabulous, indeed!

And off I go now, to add an entry to my Life List, namely Pay It Forward.

On Marriage: Role Of The Muslim Husband

June 9, 2012 § 2 Comments

We are towards the last weekend of the mid-term school holidays (last 2 weeks) and as usual, there have been plenty of marriages being held. Young newly weds looking resplendent befitting the traditional accord given to them as “Kings and Queen for the day”. Plenty of food and the event itself is full of pomp and galore with everyone in their best attire.

It also signals the start of a holy relationship that is blessed by Allah SWT. And each one of them have their roles clearly defined, with rules to obey and guidelines to follow. All of us are quite familiar (as they have been harped often enough) of the roles of the wives but little is being said of the roles of the Muslim husband. Let’s take a look at some of them:

The husband as the provider. Surely everyone knows this but are we really following it? The husband must provide for every expense of the household, including allowances for the wife. It is Haraam for the husband to Not work and live off the wife’s income (if she is working). Islam labels such husbands as cowards. In fact, the wife is entitled to claim allowances during breast-feeding of their child. According to Islam, a woman is not required to work in order to earn her living. Her husband is responsible to ensure a decent standard of living for her according to his means. Even when a woman is richer than her husband, her wealth does not deprive her of the right to be supported by him. If he takes advantage of her wealth in order to leave his duty unfilled, without having first secured her consent to this arrangement, then he is accountable for his misdeed. It is open to her to seek divorce on grounds of her not being supported by her husband. An Islamic court will have no hesitation to issue an order nullifying the marriage if the husband will not honour his responsibility.

The Prophet(Sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said,

“The best of you is the best one to his family.” [Al-Tabarani]

To share food with her, to provide her with (decent) clothes as he provides himself, to refrain from smacking her, and not ignoring her but in the house. [Ahmad]

”A Dinar (a currency) that you spend on your family, a Dinar that you spend on a poor person and a Dinar that you spend in the sake of Allah. The one that carries the most reward is the one that you spend on your family.” [Muslim]

”Know that no charity that you give whether small or large, for the sake of Allah, but you will be rewarded for it, even the bite (of food) that you put in your wife’s mouth.” [Bukhari & Muslim]

From the Qur’an:

“…and if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense… And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father’s) behalf.” (65:6)”

The Husband shall not hit the wife. Physically abusing the wife is NEVER permitted in Islam. Hitting a wife is only permitted under extreme circumstances and it is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body, but NEVER ON THE FACE, making it more of a symbolic measure then a punitive one.

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women. because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.  Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard.  As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) do not share their beds, (and last) beat (tap) them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance): for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all). (4:34)

The permissibility of such symbolic expression of the seriousness of continued refraction DOES NOT IMPLY ITS DESIRABILITY. In several hadith, Prophet Muhammad SAW discouraged this measure.

“Do not beat the female servants of Allah;” “Some (women) visited my family complaining about their husbands (beating them). These (husbands) are not the best of you;” and “[It is not a shame that] one of you beats his wife like [an unscrupulous person] beats a slave and maybe he sleeps with her at the end of the day.” (Riyadh As-Saliheen, p137-140).

“…How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?…” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol.8 hadith 68, p42-43).

The Husband is to do all the household chores. All the chores of the household are under the responsibility of the husband, and that includes washing clothes and cooking. If he is unable to do so, a maid/servant must be provided for the wife. The wife is to be relieved of such duties so that she can fully prepares herself to serve the husband. The wife’s duties do not require her to feed her child, nor even to nurse it, nor to clean nor cook. It is the husband’s duty to provide a nursemaid, food for older children, and servants to clean and cook. However, if the wife does those things out of mercy and love, it is a gift to the husband on her part.

And lastly, some advises to Husbands:

Jabir narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, gave these instructions in his sermon during Farewell Pilgrimage: “Fear God regarding women; for you have taken them [in marriage] with the trust of God.” [Mishkat]

Narrated Aisha, God’s messenger said: “Among the believers who show most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition, and are kindest to their families.” [Tirmidhi]

Narrated Abu Huraira, God’s messenger said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.” [Tirmidhi]

Aisha has related that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, would enter the house with a pleasing disposition and a smile on his lips. [Uswa-i-Hasana]

Narrated Al-Aswad: “I asked Aisha, `What did the Prophet, peace be upon him, do at home?’ She said, `He used to work for his family and when he heard the call for the prayer, he would go out.'” [Bukhari]

Narrated Abu Huraira: “Allah’s Apostle, peace be upon him, said, `The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some bent.'” [Bukhari]

Narrated Abu Huraira: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, `Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should not hurt (trouble) his neighbour. And I advise you to take care of women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of women. [Bukhari]

Narrated Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As: “Allah’s Apostle, peace be upon him, said, `O Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?’ I said, `Yes, O Allah’s Apostle!’ He said, `Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you and your wife has a right over you too.'” [Bukhari]

Narrated Ibn Umar: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, `All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards. The ruler is a guardian and the man is a guardian of his family; the lady is a guardian who is responsible for her husband’s house and his offsprings; and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards.”

Men should forbear any shortcomings of women in view of the following verse of Qur’an:
“Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which God has place much good.” (Qur’an, An Nisaa : 19)

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