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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

HAJJ : Pilgrimage to House of Allah

1. Introduction

Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam. Hajj was made obligatory in the 9th year of Hijra. The Holy Prophet sent off 300 Muslims under the leadership of Hazrat Abubakr Siddique (may Allah be pleased with him) to Mecca so that they could perform Hajj. That was the year when it was banned for the Mushrikeen (those who associate partners with Allah) to enter Ka’ba. It was also made unlawful to perform Tawaaf (circling of Ka’ba) with naked body.

The following year, 10th Hijra, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) announced a head of time he himself would perform Hajj that year. He led tens of thousands of Muslims to Hajj that year and demonstrated to Muslims how to perform all the rites and rituals of the Hajj. This Hajj is known in history as Hajjatul Wida’ or Farewell Pilgrimage because this proved to be the last Hajj the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) performed. At the end of this farewell pilgrimage, the divine revelation that had started some 22 years ago came to an end with the following verse of Surah Al-Maidah:

“This day have I completed My commandments for you, and have brought to its fullness the favor that I have bestowed upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion”

.Hajj is an act of worship just like Salat (five daily prayers) and Sawm (fasting in the month of Ramadan). Muslims from all over the world gather in Mecca in the last month of Muslim calendar and worship Allah. Hajj is a special worship that lasts for several days. This is an occasion that brings Muslims of all countries, colors, and races to one place – the Ka’ba. This is a unique opportunity of worshipping Allah collectively in a large gathering at one place.c

2. Significance & Philosophy of hajj

Every nation and society has a center of unity where they get together to worship God. They see prosperity and culture as relics of unity. People of the society get to know each other and understand each other’s difficulties. They form a unified front to remove these difficulties and achieve their goals. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “And to every people We appointed rites of sacrifice, that they might mention the name of Allah…” (22:34)

With this idea, Hajj has been made a pinnacle of worship in order that Muslims who gather to perform Hajj can praise their Lord and Master, be thankful for His blessings, and humbly pray to Him for the removal of their difficulties. Muslims living in various parts of the world get to know each other, lay the foundation of social culture, give advice to each other, and provide opportunity for collective struggle.

3. Upon Whom Is It Obligatory To Perform Hajj 

An adult Muslim of a sane mind, an able body and having means to bear the expenses must perform this act of worship once in his/her lifetime. There should be peace on the way to Mecca and there should be no hindrance or restriction in traveling to Mecca. Hajj is not obligatory for children, the sick, and those who are unable to bear the expenses for Hajj.

4. What are the Timings of Hajj (Pilgrimage)

There are specific months for performing the Hajj and are called “Months of Pilgrimage.” These three Islamic months are Shawwal, Ze-Qa’d and Dul-Hajj. During these three “Months of Hajj”, one prepares for the pilgrimage, attains good morals, and completes other physical conditions for the pilgrimage. All the essential duties of the pilgrimage have to be completed between 8th and the 13th day of Dul-Hajj. Additional tawaaf (circling around the Ka’ba), however, may be performed until the end of the month of Dul-Hajj.

5. Pillars of Hajj

There are three basic pillars for performing Hajj:

1.To enter into state of “Ihram” and have the intention to perform the pilgrimage.

2.To stay at the field of “Arafat” on the ninth of Dul-Hajj If someone cannot go to the field of Arafat even for a short time then his/her pilgrimage will not be complete. He/she has to perform the pilgrimage again the following year.

3.Additional circling of the “Ka’ba” that is done after the stay at the field of “Arafat” and performed from the tenth to the end of the month.

6. Sequence of Rites and Actions for performing Hajj:

A. Departure From Home

A Muslim must be mindful of his/her duties towards family and fellow human beings. A Muslim who intends to perform Hajj must make sure, before departing for Hajj that his family is provided for during the period he is away for the Hajj. He should pay up his debt and seek forgiveness from fellow human being whom he might have caused harm in the past. He should be diligent in observing Salat (five daily prayers) and Sawm (fasting) in the month of Ramadhan as well as carrying out other religious obligations. He must shun all arrogance and exhibit a character of modesty and humbleness. He must not use unlawfully acquired money or unlawful means to perform Hajj. He should seek sincere repentance from Allah of all his past sins. In short, one should depart for Hajj just like one would wish to depart from this world.

One should spend some money in charity as well. A woman is not allowed to perform Hajj alone and must be accompanied by an adult Muslim Mahram (father, husband, son or brother etc.)

One should say two Rakat Nafl (supererogatory) prayer before leaving home for Hajj.

B. Ihram at Miqat

When one reaches “Miqat” (any one of the appointed places in Mecca where pilgrims make a vow of pilgrimage) one must perform ablution or take a bath, use perfume, and put on two clean, unstitched, preferably white, pieces of cloth. This pair of clothing is called Ihram. One sheet should be wrapped around the lower part of the body and the other sheet around the upper body; the head should not be covered. Women can perform pilgrimage in the cloths they are wearing. Under normal circumstances a woman’s face should not be covered unless she comes face to face with a stranger and she has to conceal herself. During the five days of Hajj, all Muslims engaged in this worship must remain in this same simple dress. As soon as a pilgrim puts on Ihram and declares his intention to perform Hajj, he/she enters into the state of Ihram and his/her Hajj begins. 

C. Talbiyah

After putting on the Ihram, men and women offer two Raka’ts of Nafl (supererogatory) prayer followed by recitation of their “intention” and saying the following words:
“Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik; La Shareeka-laka Labbaik; Innalhamda wan-na’mata-laka wal-mulka Lashreeka-laka"
“Here I am, O Allah! Here I am in Thy August presence; there is no associate with Thee, here am I; surely all praise is Thine and all favors are Thine and the kingdom is Thine, there is no associate with Thee.”
These words are recited in Arabic and called “Talbiyah”. These words are an essential part of the state of Ihram and Ihram will not complete without reciting these words. After saying Talbiyah pilgrim is ready to fulfill his obligation of Hajj and is required to fulfill all the conditions laid down for Hajj. While one is in the state of Ihram it is strictly forbidden to engage in foul talk, sexual conduct, arguments, or enter into a war. Allah says in the Holy Quran: “ …so whoever determines to perform the Pilgrimage in these months, should remember that there is to be no foul talk, nor any transgression, nor any quarreling during Pilgrimage. …” (2:198)

D. Entering Masjid-el-Haram

After reaching Mecca, one should head straight to Ka’aba that is situated in bounds of Masjid-el-Haram and perform Tawaaf. It is said that when one has his/her first glance at Ka’aba, whatever prayers one makes is granted.

E. Istlam (Kissing the Hajr-e-Aswad)

The act of kissing the Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone) is called Istlam. While kissing the Hajr-e-Aswad, ones hands should be on the wall of the Ka’ba in the same position as when one performs a Sajdah (prostration) during a prayer. If it is not possible to kiss the Hajr-e-Aswad, it is permissible just touch it with a hand and if that is not possible the just point to the Hajr-e-Aswad and blow a kiss to it.

F. Tawaaf (Circling of ka’ba)

After performing Istlam (kissing the Hajr-e-Aswad) as described above, a pilgrim should perform Tawaaf of Ka’ba. Tawaaf is performed by going around Ka’ba seven times keeping the Ka’ba on left hand side (counter clock-wise). Istlam should be performed during each circle. It is also permitted to perform Istlam of Rukun-e-Yemeni (Pillar of Yemen). The seventh circle ends at the Hajr-e-Aswad.

G. Nawafal at Muqam-e-Ibrahim

After completing the Tawaaf, the pilgrim should move to the Muqam-e-Ibrahim (Place of Ibrahim. At this place one should offer two Rakats of prayer while facing Ka’ba.

H. Sa’ee (Running between Safa’ and Marwah)

Allah the Exalted has said the Holy Quran:

“Surely, Al-Safa and Al-Marwah are among the Signs of Allah. It is, therefore, no sin for him who is on pilgrimage to the House, or performs Umra, to go round the two. And whoso does good beyond what is obligatory, surely then, Allah is Appreciating, All-Knowing.” (2:159)

After praying two Rakats of prayer at Muqam-e-Ibrahim, the pilgrim then moves to “Safa”. At this place, he should face towards Ka’ba and recite Durood, Takbir and Talbiyah. The he should walk briskly towards Marwah and recite the same at Marwah. This counts as one circuit. Now one should move to Safa’ and repeat the prayers. One should complete seven circuits between Safa’ and Marwah. These circuits are called Sa’ee.

After performing the circuits between Safa’ and Marwah, one is free to move about and go to a resting place.

I. Arriving at Mina

On 8th day of Dul-Hajj the pilgrims reach at Mina early in the morning after performing Tawaaf-Qudoom. A pilgrim offers Duhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha’ prayers at Mina and camp there for the night.

J. Arriving at Arafat

On 9th day of Dul-Hajj, after offering Fajr prayer, a pilgrim should move to Arafat. Stay at Arafat is called Waqoof and is the most important part of Hajj. Without this, Hajj cannot be considered complete. If someone misses Waqoof, he should perform Hajj the following year. One listens to the sermon at the plane of Arafat and offers combined Zuhr and Asr prayers. One should stay at Arafat till sunset (Maghrib).

K. Arriving at Muzdalifah

One leaves Arafat after sunset and reaches Muzdalifah in the evening of 9th Dul-Hajj. Combined Maghrib and Isha’ prayers are offered at Muzdalifah. The pilgrims spend the night at Muzdalifah.

L. Departure from Muzdalifah

On the 10th day of Dul-Hajj the pilgrims offer their Fajr prayer as early in the morning as possible. After the Fajr prayer a pilgrim leaves Muzdalifah and arrive at Mina. On the way to Mina one should pick up seventy small stones. As soon as he reaches Mina, he should cast seven stones at Jumrah-tul-Aqba. This act of throwing stones is called Rami. With the throwing of the first stone the requirement to repeatedly recite Talbiyah is lifted. If the pilgrim intends to sacrifice an animal then he should do that after casting stones ad Jumrah-tul-Aqba. After offering the sacrifices a male pilgrim should have his head shaven and female pilgrims are required to cut a small part of her hair. Femle pilgrims are not permitted to have their heads shaven. After the hair cut one can remove the Ihram and may now wear regular cloths.

M. Return to Mecca after sacrifice and hair cut. Perform Taawaf-e-Afaza

After the removal of Ihram the pilgrim is required to return to Mecca to perform another circuit of the Ka’ba. This particular circuit is called Tawaaf-e-Afaza (additional circuit) and is an essential part of the pilgrimage. After this circuit a pilgrim is permitted to return to normal life and all those lawful things that were forbidden are now allowed again. 

N. Return to Mina after Tawaf-e-Afaza

After this additional circuit, the pilgrim should return to Mina and stay there for three days. During the stay at Mina on 11th, 12th and 13th day of Dul-Hajj the pilgrim cast seven stones on each of the Jumrah in the following order: Jumrah-tul-Oola, Jamrah-tul-Wusta, and Juramh-tul-Aqba. It is permitted not to cast stones on the third day.

O. Return to Ka’ba and Farewell

On the 12th or the 13th day of Dul-Hajj, the pilgrim returns to the Ka’ba and perform a final circuit. This circuit is called Tawaf-al-Sadr or Tawaf-al-Wida (parting or farewell circuit). After this last circuit, the pilgrim should drink water from Zumzum, kiss the threshold of the door of the Ka’ba, and pray to Allah for forgiveness. He should leave the Ka’ba walking backwards, looking at it the last time, and saying farewell.

7. Prohibitions During the Pilgrimage

It is forbidden to have a hair cut during Hajj or to wear sewn clothes. Pilgrims should offer Fidya (redemption) if he has to wear sewn clothes or have to shave his head due to illness or lice.

Hunting is forbidden during the pilgrimage days. If the pilgrim hunts during these days then he has to offer the sacrifice of one animal. If he has hunted deer then a lamb should be sacrificed and of ostrich is hunted then camel should be sacrificed. If one cannot offer a sacrifice the he should feed six poor people and if that is not possible the he should fast for three days. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“O ye who believe! Kill not game while you are in a state of pilgrimage. And whoso amongst you kills it intentionally, its compensation is a quadruped like unto that which he has killed, as determined by two just men from among you, the dame to be brought as an offering to the Ka’ba; or as an expiation he shall have to feed a number of poor persons, or fast an equivalent number of days, so that he may taste the penalty of his deed. As for the past, Allah forgives it; but whoso reverts to it, Allah will punish him for his offense. And Allah is Mighty, Lord of retribution.

The game of the sea and the eating thereof have been made lawful for you as a provision for you and the travelers, but forbidden to you is the game of land as long as you are in a state of pilgrimage. And fear Allah to Whom you shall be gathered. 

Allah has made the Ka’ba the inviolable House as a mean of support and uplift of mankind, as also the Sacred Month and the offerings and the animals with collars. That is so that you may know that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth, and that Allah knows all things well.

Know that Allah is sever in punishment and that Allah is also Most Forgiving, Merciful.” (5:95-98)

If the pilgrim has sexual intercourse with his/her spouse before the first Tawaaf the Hajj will become invalid or unlawful. He/she should continue to perform all the duties of the pilgrimage but he/she has to perform pilgrimage again the next year. Moreover he/she has to sacrifice a camel at Mina to atone the violation.

8. Ahsari

If some difficulty arises after entering the state of Ihram for the Hajj or Umra (i.e., illness, resistance by enemy to prevent from reaching Mecca) then the sacrifice of an animal should be offered and the Ihram removed. We read in the Holy Quran: “ … but if you are kept back, then make whatever offering is easily available; and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches its destination … “ (2:197).

9. Umra

To simply circuit the Ka’ba and perform the seven circuits between Safa and Marwah is called Umra. There is no fixed time for Umra and it can be performed at any time during the year except between the 9th and the 13th of Dul-Hajj (these days are only reserved for the full pilgrimage or Hajj). Entering into the state of Ihram and removal of Ihram is carried out in the same manner as for the full pilgrimage.

10. Types Of Hajj:

There are three types of Hajj:

a. Hajj Mufrad:

All conditions of the Hajj Mufrad are same as described above. One enters into the state of Ihram for Hajj only and no Umra is performed before Hajj.

b. Hajj Tamattu :

This is Hajj when Umra is performed before the Hajj. The pilgrim removes Ihram for Umra on the 8th of Dul Hajj and re-enters into the state of Ihram again for Hajj.

c. Hajj Qiran:

In this Hajj, the pilgrim enters into the state of Ihram for both Umra and the Hajj at one time.

11. Places of Hajj inside Mecca 

A. Ka'aba:

The focus of the pilgrimage is Ka’ba which was rebuilt by Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) some 4000 years ago. Today, Ka’ba stands in the middle of a large courtyard of Masjid-el-Haram or the sacred Mosque. The courtyard of Masjid-el-Haram contains, besides Ka’ba, the Muqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Ibrahim) and the fountain of Zumzum.

Ka’ba is the first house ever that was built for the worship of One and Only God, Allah. It is also called “Bait-Ullah” (House of Allah), “Bait-ul-Ateeq” (the Oldest House), and Baitul Ma’amoor (Inhabited House).

Muslims, all over the world, face towards Ka’ba to offer their prayers. This house and the places around it have several signs that have been manifested by Allah. Every inch of this land testifies to the fact that Allah never destroys those who offer sacrifices. To commemorate Allah’s signs and to enhance their faith that Allah truly fulfils His promise, Muslims have been ordered to pay homage to the Ka’ba and these other Signs of Allah. Allah the Exalted, says in the Holy Quran:

“Surely, the first House founded for mankind is that at Becca (the valley of Mecca), abounding in blessings and a guidance for all peoples. In it are manifest signs; it is the place of Abraham; and whoso enters it, enters peace” (3:96-97)

Hadrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) laid a foundation stone for a community in a deserted place by the order of All-Mighty Allah. The he settled his wife, Hajira, and his son, Ishmael, at this place. There was no water at this place and it was not a part of any thoroughfare. The ultimate goal of this unparalleled sacrifice was that his place should serve as a center of universal guidance; that from the progeny of Hadrat Ishmael living in this area would come the greatest prophet whose advent marked the sole cause for the creation of this universe and who would be a mercy for all mankind. The teaching that he brought down would be for the entire world and for all times. In spite of having no sign of any provisions at this place, Hadrat Ibrahim’s (peace be upon him) expectations were superceded. Allah made provisions for water at that place. Slowly the place became populated and was called Becca or Mecca. This was the place where Hadrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) found lost signs of the first House of Allah that was built for His worship and re-built this house with the help of his son. He fervently prayed to Allah to make this house the “Place for Humanity”.

B. Hajr-e-Aswad (The Black Stone)

There is a black stone in the north-eastern corner of the Ka’ba. This stone is called Hajr-e-Aswad (Black Stone). This stone was probably part of a meteoroid that fell near Mecca on a mountain called Abu Qubais. At the time of construction of Ka’ba, Hadrat Ibrahim brought it down and placed in the corner of the Ka’ba as a great sign and a monument. Anyone who performs pilgrimage is expected to kiss this memorial stone. This stone is part of Allah’s mark and is a sign of Him being the Supreme Being. One loves things that belong to one’s beloved. The same philosophy exists behind kissing the stone. This stone has no power and it provides neither benefit nor harm to anyone.

C. Hateem

A short distance away from Ka’ba towards North there is an open space.The place has small walls around it but there is no ceiling.There is a tradition of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) that suggests that this place was left without a roof because not enough wood was available to cover the entire building.A pilgrim should keep this place inside the Tawaaf but it is not right to face towards this place when offering prayers.

D. Multazam

The southern part of the wall between the door of the Ka’ba and the black stone is called Multazam. At the completion of the pilgrimage the pilgrims embrace this part of the wall. This is one way of saying good-bye and a way of expression of extreme love for the House of Allah.

E. Rukun-e-Yemeni

The north-western corner of the Ka’ba faces towards Yemen and this is why it is called Rukun-e-Yemeni (Yemen’s Pillar). It is not appropriate to touch or kiss this part during making a circuit of the Holy Ka’ba.

F. Mutaaf

There is a circle of white stone around the Ka’ba. This is the place where the circuit of the Holy Ka’ba is performed during the pilgrimage. The circuit of the Holy Ka’ba is an integral part of the worship offered seven times during Hajj.

G. Muqam-e-Ibrahim (Place of Ibrahim)

There is a small round-shaped building in front of the door of the Ka’ba and the Multazam. This building has a stone that was used by Hadrat Ibrahim to stand on to complete the walls of the Ka’ba. This is called Muqam-Ibrahim (Place of Ibrahim). After completing the seventh circuit during the pilgrimage, two Raka’t of prayer are offered. One gets more blessings if these Raka’ts are offered at the Place of Ibrahim.

H. Zumzum

A small well is present on the left side of the Place of Ibrahim and to the east of the Ka’ba. This well appeared as a sign when the child Ishmael rubbed his heels on the ground due to his thirst. One drinks water from this well facing the Ka’ba to get blessings.

I. Masjid-el-Haram

Around the Ka’ba is a mosque that has a rectangular shape with rounded corners. Pilgrims offer prayers in this mosque by making circular rows and face towards the Ka’ba.

J. Al-Safa and Al-Marwa

Two small hills in Mecca were located in the north of Masjid-el-Haram. Now these hills have been flattened. Hadrat Hajirah ran seven times between these two hills in search of food and water. Pilgrims are ordained to follow her footsteps and go to these hills seven times.

12. Places Outside of Mecca

A. Mina

There is an open ground three miles to the east of Mecca called Mina. There are three stone pillars in this ground that are called Jumrat representing Satan. These stones are called Jumrah-tul-Oola, Jumrah-tul-Wusta, and Jumrah-tul-Aqbah. During the last day of Hajj, the 10th Dul-Hajj and three Tashriq days, pilgrims are required to cast stones at these Jumrah. This act of casting stones at Jumrah is called Ramy al-jimar (throwing small stones). Thousands of animals are sacrificed on this ground to commemorate the great sacrifice of Hadrat Ibrahim and Hadrat Ishmael.

B. Arafat

On the 9th day of Dul Hajj pilgrims gather in a great ground that is located about 9 miles to the southeast Mecca. This ground is called Arafat. Pilgrims stay at this place from the time of Duhr prayer until Maghrib. Jabalu-Rahmat is a small hill that also stands on this ground. A pilgrim is required to stay at this ground for his/her pilgrimage to be acceptable.

C. Muzdalifah

This ground is located roughly three miles from Arafat towards Mina. A small hill Mash’ar-al-Haraam is present in this field. Pilgrims spend the night of 9ht Dul Hajj in this field on their way back from Arafat. They offer Maghrib and Isha prayers combined and then Fajr prayer on the morning of the 10th day of Dul Hajj at this place. Pilgrims are commanded to remember Allah after the Fajr prayer near the mountains of Mash’ar-ul-Haraam.

D. Muwaqiat

Muwaqiat is the plural of Miqat. This is the place where pilgrims enter into the state of Ihram. It is forbidden to go any further from this place without entering the state of Ihram. Ihram is not only wearing specific clothing but it is also a sincere intention to perform the pilgrimage. There are several placed to enter into the state of Ihram that are marked as Miqat depending upon the route taken towards Mecca. Following are the well-known places where the Pilgrims enter into the state of Ihram.

a. Mecca

Pilgrims who live in and around Mecca enter into the state of Ihram in their homes. People can enter into the state of Ihram before leaving their homes. It is not absolutely necessary for “local” pilgrims to enter into the state of Ihram at the Mawaqit, however, it is forbidden to proceed any further from these place without being in the state of Ihram for the people coming from other locations.

b. Dul-Hulaifah:

Five miles from Madina towards Mecca is a small village. Pilgrims arriving from Madina and from its surrounding areas are required to replace their usual clothes with Ihram at this place

c. Juhfah

This place located about forty miles to the south of Mecca. Pilgrims arriving from Egypt, Syria and Southern Africa are required to enter into the state of Ihram at this place.

d. Zaat-ul-Irq

Located about thirty miles from Mecca, the pilgrims coming from Iraq and by land from the eastern side enter into the state of Ihram at this place.

e. Qarn-al-Manazil

Located about 40 miles to the east of Mecca, the Pilgrims arriving from Yemen and by sea enter into the state of Ihram at this place.

f. Taneem

This place is near Mecca and acts as Miqat for people living in Mecca. If someone is living in Mecca and wants to perform Umra then he should go to this place, enter into the state of Ihram and then return to Mecca so that the condition of traveling for the pilgrims is also fulfilled. The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has said: “Part of the worship of Hajj and Umra is to travel in the way of Allah and to go out of the city.”

E. Haram 

Mecca and its surrounding areas are called Haram. Haram has different boundaries. These boundaries extend to three miles on one side, seven on the other and nine miles towards Jedda. Within these boundaries of Haram it is forbidden to hunt, bother any animal, or to cut grass or trees. One is permitted to kill dangerous animals like snakes, scorpions, rats or animals with rabies (dogs, etc.)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Belief in the Final Day

Hane', the servant of Uthman, Radi Allahu Anhu, recalls, "Whenever Uthman (RAA) would stand over a grave he used to cry, his beard would moisten from the tears.  Some would ask him, 'When Heaven and Hell are mentioned you do not cry, but when the grave is mentioned you collapse crying, how come?'  He (RAA) would say: I hear the Prophet (SAAS) say, 'the grave is the first stage of the Hereafter, whoever passes it will be at ease after it, and if he does not pass it he will be in the most horrific of conditions.'  I also heard him say, 'Never have I seen a sight more horrifying than the graveyard.'

In the hadith of Jibraeel, when he came to the Prophet (SAAS) and asked him about Islam, Eeman, and Ihsan, the Prophet (SAAS) said about Eeman, "Eeman is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His books, His Messengers, the Final Day, and divine decree, the good and the bad thereof."  Today we shall talk about the Final Day.  It has been asked, "when shall the Final Day be?"  Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Final Day begins when you die.  And that shall be our topic for today: What happens after death.

In the battle of Uhud, the Shuhada', after seeing their reward and honor with Allah Ta'ala, longed to tell their brothers that had not yet met martrydom of the blessing that they had recieved.  The Prophet (SAAS) said, "When your brothers were martyred at Uhud, Allah placed their souls inside green birds which drink from the rivers of Paradise, eat of it's fruits and seek shelter in lamps of gold which are suspended in the shade of the Arsh (the throne)  When they saw how beautiful their food, drink, and abode was, they pleaded, "Who will tell our brothers about us, that we are alive in Paradise and being amply provided for, so that they will not turn away from Jihad or abandon the battlefields.  Allah ta'ala said: "I shall tell them!"  The verse was then sent down:

[Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead, Nay, they are alive with their Lord, provided for/ They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty, rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them (i.e. not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve.]   - Aali Imran 3/169-170

Let us sit and listen to a lesson given by the Prophet (SAAS) himself, the journey of the soul.  You will be taking this journey soon.  Narrated Al-Baraa' ibn 'Aazib (RAA): We followed the Prophet (SAAS) out to attend the funeral of one of the Ansar men.  When we reached the grave - before the man was buried - the Prophet (SAAS) sat down (facing the Qiblah) and we sat down encircling him.  We sat still as if birds were on our heads, silent.  The Prophet (SAAS) had a stick in his hand with which he would scratch up the sand.  [He gazed at the sky and then down to the ground, repeating this three times]  Then he said, "Seek the protection of Allah from the punishment of the Grave."  He then continued, "When the believing soul is reaching the end  of his time on earth, starting out in the hereafter, angels with white faces shining like the sun descend upon him from heaven, bringing with them one of the shourds of Paradise and Hanoot.  They sit down around him as far as the eye can see.  Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and pronounces, 'O blessed soul, come out to the forgiveness and pleasure of Allah.'  The soul will then come out like a drop of water coming out of the mouth of a waterskin.  And the Angel of Death will take it.  [Until his soul comes out, every angel between the heavens and earth will pray for him, as will every angel in heaven.  The gates of heaven will be opened for im, and the people in every level of heaven will pray to Allah to permit his soul to ascend through their domain.

When the (Angel of Death) has taken the soul, the (other angels) do not leave it in his hand for a moment; immediatly they take it and wrap in the shroud and scent it with Hanoot.  This is the meaning of Allah's words:

[...When death approaches any of you, Our Angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.]
- An'am 6/61

At that moment a scent shall emerge from the soul, a scent not unlike the finest musk found on earth.  They shall take the soul up (to the heavens) and whenever they pass a group of angels, the (angels) will remark, 'Who is this blessed soul?'  They will say, 'It is so-and-so, the son of so-and-so' using the best names that they were addressed with in this world.

(They shall go on) until they reach the first heaven.  They shall ask for it to be opened and it shall open for them.  In each heaven, those who are closest to Allah will accompany him to the next heaven until they reach the seventh heaven, where Allah - Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala - will say, 'Register the book of My slave in 'illiyyun.'

[And what will explain to you what 'Illiyyun is?  (It is) a register (fully) inscribed, to which bear witness those nearest to Allah]  Mutaffifoon 83/19-21.

So his book will be registered in Illiyun.  Then Allah (SWT) will say, 'Take him back to the earth for this was my promise: I created them from it, I shall return them to it, and I will resurrect them from it again.

He will be taken back to the earth, and his soul will be returned to his body.  [And he will hear the footsteps of his companions as they leave him.]  Two stern Angels will come to him, [rebuke him] and sit him up.  They will ask him, 'Who is your Lord?'  He will answer, 'My Lord is Allah.'  They will ask him, 'What is your religion?'  He will say, 'My religion is Islam.'  They will ask him, 'Who is this man who was sent among you?'  He will say, 'He is the Messenger of Allah (SAAS).'

Yu Thabbitul Allahu al ladheena Aamanu bil Qawl ath-thabiti fil Hayatid Dunya wa fil Aakhirah

A voice will call from Heaven, 'My slave has spoken the Truth, so furnish his grave from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise.'  Some of its breeze and scent will reach him, and his grave will be widened for him as far as the eye can see.  There will appear before him a handsome, well dressed, and finely scented man, saying, 'I bring you good news which shall make you happy.  I bring you good news of the good pleasure of Allah and Gardens of eternal blessing.  This is the day you were promised.'  He will say, 'And you, may Allah give you better news, who are you?'  He will say, 'I am your good deeds, and by Allah I only ever saw you hastening to obey Allah, and ever reluctant to disobey Him, so may Allah reward you with good.'

Then a gate of Paradise and a gate of Hell will open for him.  And it will be said, 'this is your place if you had disobeyed Allah, but Allah has fiven you this instead of that.'  When he sees what is in Paradise he will say, 'My Lord! Hasten the coming of the Hour...'  It will be said, 'Dwell in patience.'

As for the Disbelieving (corrupt) man, when he leaves this world and enters the Hereafter, stern and harsh angels come down to him from heaven, their faces are black and they bring with them sack-cloth from Hell.  They sit around him as far as the eye can see.  Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, ' Come out O evil soul to the anger and wrath of Allah!'

The soul will be dragged out of his body with as much difficulty as a many-pronged skewer being dragged through wet wool (the veins and nerves will be destroyed by it.)

He will be cursed by every angel between the heaven and the earth, and by every angel in the heaven.  The gates of heaven will be locked and the people of every heaven will pray to Allah to not allow his soul to ascend through their domain.  He will take it and immediately put it into the sack-cloth, stinking like the foulest stench of dead flesh ever experienced on earth.  They will take the soul up and whenever they take it past a group of angels, they will say, 'Who is this evil soul?'  They shall say, 'It is so-and-so, son of so-and-so,' using the worst names he was addressed with on earth.

(They will go on) until they reach the first heaven; they will ask for it to be opened for them, and it will not be opened.  (Then the Messenger of Allah - SAAS - recited):

[..No opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the Garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle..] A'raf 7:40

Allah ta'ala will say register his book in Sijjin, in the lowest earth.  Then Allah will say, take him back to the earth for this was my promise; I created it from it, i will return them to it, and i shall resurrect them from it again.  So his soul will be thrown down from heaven until it reaches his body.  Then he recited:

[..If anyone asigns partners to Allah, he is as if he had fallen from heaven and been snatched up by birds, or the wind had swooped (like a bird on its prays) and thrown him into a far distant place.]Al-Hajj 22:31

So his soul will be returned to his body ( and he will hear the footsteps of his companions when they leave him ). Two stern angels will come to him, rebuke him and sit him up.  They will ask him, 'Who is your Lord?' He will say, Haa Haa, I do not know.  They will ask him.  'What is your religion?' He will say, 'Haa Haa, I do not know.  They will ask 'What do you say about this man who was sent among you? He will not even know his name.  But he will be told.  Muhammad.  And he will say, 'Haa Haa, I do not know.  I heard the people saying such and such.'  He will be told May you never know.'

Then a voice will call from heaven and will say, 'He has lied. Furnish his grave from Hell and open for him a gate from hell.'   So some of his heat and venom will reach him and his grave will be constricted until his ribs are crushed together.

There will appear before him a man with an ugly face, badly dressed, and foul smelling.  He will say, 'I bring you bad news, this is the day you were promised.  He will say, 'and you, may Allah give you even worse news!  Who are you? Your face brings bad news!'  He will say, 'I am your evil deeds, by Allah I only ever saw you reluctant to obey Allah and ever eager to disobey Him. May allah repay you with evil.'

Then there will be sent to him one who is blind , deaf , and dunb.  Who will carry in his hand an iron rod which if he were to beat a camel with it, it would turn to dust.  He will beat him with it until he turns to dust.  Then Allah will restore him then he will be beaten again.  He will emit a scream which the whole of creation will hear except men and jinn.  Then a gate will be open for him to hell.  And his grave will be furnished from hell.  He will say, 'My Lord, may the hour never come.'

This is the journey we shall all take.  How many have stopped to think about and prepare for this journey.  If you were given warning that the Angel of Death would visit you after Maghrib, what would you do till then?  Wouldn't you pray continously and cry at Asr Salah.  Wouldn't you give Sadaqah and throw this world from your heart.  Wouldn't you come back to Allah with a sincere repentance.  One day, not too far from now, you will be going back to your Lord and He will ask you all of that which you did.

Bukayr ibn Aamir said, "If it was said to Abd Ar-Rahman ibn Abi Nu'aym that the Angel of Death was about to visit him (and take his soul) he would not find room for any extra actions.  (i.e. He lived his day as if the Angel of Death were coming at night, and lived his night as if the Angel of Death were coming in the morning!)

Part II: 

Very often after someone dies, relatives and friends want to give that person rewards while he is in the grave.  This is something recognized by the Shariah in certain cases:

Firstly:  Making Dua' for the deceased.  This is understood from the institution of Janazah Salah when everyone gathers to pray sincerely for the dead body.

Secondly:  The Deceased feels comfort from the presence of the community after the burial for a period of the time taken to sacrifice a camel and distribute it's meat.

Amr ibn Al-AAs (RA) said, "When you bury me, stay around my grave for the time it would take to sacrifice a camel and distribute it's meat, so that i may be comforted by your presence, until i see how I shall answer the Messengers of my Lord" [Muslim]

Thirdly:  A Dua' of strength and forgiveness (not in congregation) for the deceased immediatly after he is buried.

Uthman ibn Affan (RA) said, "Whenever the Prophet (SAAS) had finished burying someone, he would stand by the grave and say, 'Ask forgiveness and strength for your brother, for at this moment he is being questioned.'"

The Prophet (SAAS) said, "When a person dies his deeds are cut off except for three: continuous charity, knowledge that benefits others, or a pious son/daughter who will pray for them."

After death, people try to give rewards to the dead in a manner that is in many times against the principles of the Quran and Sunnah.  Some follow traditions passed down through their fathers, others do it as a source of income.

The main phenomenon that happens is the Quran Khani, where people gather, each participant given a part of the Quran to read, afterwhich a feast is served.  And some claim that the food is food of charity meant to be on behalf of the deceased.  In modern times, some even distribute invitation cards and all types of food are prepared and enjoyed  on what is meant to be a sorrowful occasion.

In many countries of the Muslim Ummah this is a normal practice, and certain days are fixed for this Quran Khani: the 3rd day, then the 7th day, the 10th and 40th, and then annually.  And unfortunately, this practice is often given more importance than some Fard duties, hence the scholars have considered it to be an innovation (bid'ah) and sinful.  This is the opinion of the Ulema'.  Ibn Al-Humam Al-Hanafi said in Fath Al-Qadeer, a renowned book on the fiqh of Abu Hanifah, "Gathering to feast at the house of the deceased is a sign of joy and happiness.  And to do so is bid'ah."

These practices are taken from the Hindu religion, as a famous Historian, Al-Bairooni (303 AH) mentions in his book, Kitaab Al-Hind, "Hindus have fixed days and dates for the deceased person's family on which they should invite people and provide food, etc.. (the 11th day after death, 15th, annually and specifically the sixth day of the month).  The family members are expected to provide food and water for nine days.  Otherwise, according to the Hindu belief, the soul of the deceased will wander in hunger and thrist around the home."

In support of this, another Indian scholar, Ubaid Ullah also mentions, "Every year a certain date is fixed when they try to convey rewards to the deceased.  This tradition is named 'Saraadh'.  When preparation of food for the Saraadh is done, no one may touch it until the Hindu Priest (Pandit) comes and blesses it by reading something."  From Tuhfatul Hind, p.91.

Muslims are only following these practices giving it a different name.  In place of a Pandit, an Imam is called to bless the food, etc.  And if someone does not want to come to the Quran Khani for fear it is against what the Prophet (SAAS) came with, for fear that it is against Islam, for fear that it will be rejected by Allah, the people and the community condemn him and say he is disrespecting the dead and is against giving rewards to the deceased.

And finally, when someone dies we see people telling others to recite Al-Fatiha.  This is an act which requires proof from the Quran or Sunnah or Sahabah because that person is specifiying a time and fixed verses to recite, something which can only be specified by Allah and His Messenger.

What do we do then when someone dies?
1.We should make food for the deceased family, they should not make food for the visitors as they are in a state of sorrow and the last thing they want to do is cook for dozens of people.  The Prophet (SAAS) said, "Make food for the family of Ja'far.."

2.Condolences should be given to the family of the deceased, but there is no fixed place for this.  It could be in the Masjid, on the street, or at their house.  However, if it is at their house, we should not spend too long lounging in their living room.  It should be a short visit.

3.We should have sympathy and make a dua of forgiveness for the person.  This is what the Prophet (SAAS) used to do and his companions likewise.

If you want Thawab, now dear brothers and sisters is the time to collect it.  Ali ibn Abi Talib stood with a companion of his near a grave one day and asked him, "If he could come back to this Dunya, what do you think he would do?"  He replied, "He would do nothing but good deeds."  The Ali (RAA) said, "If it is not going to be him, then let it be you!" 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Belief in the Prophet (saw)

One day the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – sat with his companions when a Bedouin came. Immediately the man asked the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam, “When is the final hour?” A question the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – disliked. The Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – replied, “What have you prepared for it?” The Bedouin said, “I have not prepared much Salah, or much Sawm, or much Sadaqah, but one thing: I love Allah and His Messenger.” Then the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “You shall be with whom you love!” Anas – Radi Allahu Anhu – the narrator of the hadith said, “By Allah, nothing brought us more happiness after our Islam than that statement: ‘you shall be with whom you love.’ I love Allah and His Messenger, and Abu Bakr and Umar; And I hope to be with them (on the final day) eventhough I have not done as much as they did. – Muslim 

In the hadith of Jibraeel, when he came to the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – in front of the companions in the form of a man and asked him – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – about Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. He said when asked about Iman, “Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messenger, the Final Day and the divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.” Today we shall talk about Iman in the messengers. And specifically, Iman in the final Messenger, Muhammad ibn Abdillah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam. 

When the Messenger of Allah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – performed Hijra from Makkah to Medinah, he and his companion Abu Bakr – Radi Allahu Anhu – stopped at the home of Umm Ma’bad. They asked her for food/milk and she said that there was none. Then, seeing a weak, frail calf in the corner, the Messenger of Allah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – asked if he could milk it. The Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – pet the calf on the back, praying, until it opened it’s legs in preparation for milking. The milk poured and poured as Umm Ma’bad watched in shock. 

Later, when her husband came home with the frail flock he saw the blessing shine from the walls and inquired, “What has happened here?” Umm Ma’bad then described the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam. Her description of the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – is one of the most detailed. Amongst the things she said was that his face was like a moon and his voice was beautiful. His beard was long and full, his hair reached his shoulders. Tranquility befell him when he was silent, and if he spoke he was magnificent. From far he was the handsomest man, and from near he was the greatest. Flanking him were men, if he spoke they listened, and if he commanded, they hastily complied. 

Abu Ma’bad knew who he was. He said, “Verily this is the man that Quraish is looking for. I once thought of following him, and when I meet him I shall.” He then called out poetry that all the inhabitants of Makkah heard on the horizon: 

Jaz Allahu Rabbin Naasi Khayra Jazaa’ihi / Rafeeqayn Qaala Khaymati Umma Ma’badi 
Huma Nazalaaha bil Huda, fah tadat bihi / Faqad Faza man Amsa Rafeeqa Muhammadi 
What can you say in only one Khutbah about a man that Encyclopedias were written on only his character. I would like in these short moments however to reflect on some of the things Allah blessed His Messenger – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – with, in this world and the next. 

1. The Final Messenger. Muhammad ibn Abdullah was the final Messenger of Allah, There shall be no Prophets or Messengers after him. And whoever claims such is a liar. He – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “The example of myself and the prophets before me is that of a man who built a house, beautifying it, except for a corner where a brick was missing. People would go around admiring the structure but remarking, ‘if only it was completed here.’ The Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – then said, “I am that brick, I am the last of the Prophets.” - Muslim 

2. Security for the Ummah. Rasul Allah - Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam - – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – was a protection for the Ummah. Allah would not punish them so long as he was amongst them. Allah declared [And Allah would not punish them (so long) as you are amongst them. Nor shall he punish them so long as they seek forgiveness.] Anfal 8/34 

3. His wives are our Mothers. Rasul Allah’s - Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam - wives are our mothers. Allah declared [The prophet is closer to the believers (those of Eeman) than their ownselves and his wives are their mothers.] Al-Ahzaab 33:6 

4. Protected by Allah. No one could harm the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – because Allah was his protector. [And Allah will protect you from the people…] Al ma’idah 5/67 

5. The Greatest. He was the greatest human. He – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – told us, “I am the chief son of Adam, with no boast.” 

6. The Greatest Followers. He lived amongst the greatest men and women, his companions. He – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said , “The best generation is my generation…” 

7. A witness over us all. Rasul Allah - Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam - – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – shall be a witness over the entire Ummah of Islam. Allah – Subhaanahu wa Ta ‘Aala – says [ How (will it then ) be, when we bring from each nation a witness and we bring you ( O Muhammad – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam –) as a witness against these people?] This is the verse that made Him weep. Nisa 4:41 

8. Allah Swore by Him. And Allah testified by his life in the Qur’an. [By your life (O Muhammad – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam –) verily they are in their intoxication wandering blindly] Al Hijr 15/72 

9. The Most Followers. And he will have the most followers than any other Prophet. He – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “Amongst the Prophets on the day of resurrection I shall have the most followers.” 

And on the day of judgement, Rasul Allah - Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam - will claim the highest position amongst creation: Al Maqaam Al Mahmood. Allah will give him the fountain of Al-Kawthar. And He will be allowed to intercede for his Ummah. 

Mustafa Ar-Rifaee commented “It’s interesting how many Muslims have failed to recognize the wisdom behind the name of the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – being called 5 times across the world: Ash-hadu Anna Muhammadur Rasullullaah. Not only that, but in every Salaah and Nafilah, his name is whispered all across the body: Allahumma Salli ala Muhammadin ... Could the wisdom be nothing other than the Ummah not cutting off the remembrance of their Prophet for not a single day of history, for not even a portion of the day.” And Allah knows best. 

Part II: The Prophet’s – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – Rights over Us 

Some have exaggerated the status of Rasul Allah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – attributing to him things that are only befitting of Allah. Others sought to show their love by holding bithday parties, what is known as Mawlid An-Nabi for the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam. This is not how someone should show his love, for it is a form of worship unauthorized by the Sunnah or the practice of the early Muslim generations. And whatever is not authorized by the Shariah is rejected by Allah. 

Love can only be expressed by following the Messenger of Allah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – everyday of our lives. 

Do you know why Allah – Subhaanahu wa Ta ‘Aala – sent Muhammad – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam? Allah sent him to be obeyed and imitated, a living example of the Quran. Rasullualah has rights over us, and these rights include the following. 

He must be loved more than our family, children, more than oneself. He – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “One of you shall not believe until I am more beloved to him than his children, parents, and all of humanity.” This was how the Companions, male and female were. 

Ali ibn Abi Talib said, “By Allah, he was more beloved to us than our wealth, more than our children and fathers and mothers, more than cold water when dying of thirst.” 

Rasul Allah – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – must be respected and revered. Allah states [O you who believe, Do not put yourselves forward before Allah and His Messenger And fear Allah. Verily Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.] al Hujarat 1. The Arabic La-tuqaddimu means do not walk ahead of. This happens when someone is hasty in matters of religion, deciding contrary to the decision of Allah and His Messenger. 

We must pray constantly for our Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam. Everything we know in Islam came to us through him. Jibraeel came to Rasul Allah - Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam – as he was climbing the mimbar and prayed, “Perished be he to whom you are mentioned to and he does not pray for you. Say ameen.” And the Prophet – Sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam – said, “Ameen!” 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Significance of Prayer

It is pity that so much effort is being wasted in transcendental meditation (TM) to revive human consciousness (the soul) to the supreme Reality of the Universe. A cursory study of history shows that this technique was never really effective even in the old days and was only confined to a few hermits and Rishis. It was an intellectual exercise of the mind which was practiced by a very few individuals of very high calibre to quench their thirst for the Divine Union and was practically beyond the comprehension of the common man in the street. It is a mental exercise which quietens the mind so long as the person is in that state of meditation but has no permanent effect which can give an individual peace of mind in a practical way.

Transcendental meditation (TM) without any conscious objective cannot bring permanent peace of mind It is a negative approach to human problems and history bears witness to the fact that such intellectual and mental exercises have never achieved anything permanent. It has, however, a temporary effect. It is true that one experiences a soothing effect when in the state of transcendental meditation, but this effect is not confined to this method alone. Any kind of mental exercise, in TM in Subdue, or in any other form, will effect the body's physiology and thereby cause changes in an electroencephalogram (EEG or brain waves) and produce similar effects. But it is yet to be proved that such changes do produce any effect of a permanent
nature. The human mind is affected by various kinds of creative mental exercises (based on the science of creative intelligence) but such exercises have long been confined to intellectuals or hermits among Hindus or Christians. They are beyond the comprehension of ordinary individuals. Moreover, mental exercises which provide some temporary comfort to an individual cannot be effectively used to solve the complicated problems of mankind.

Above all, it is a mental exercise in a vacuum without any conscious objective or goal. One practises T.M without any clear goal before him going from nowhere to nowhere and such an exercise cannot really be expected to produce fruitful and beneficial results of any permanent value. In the olden days, Rishis and hermits did practice it, but they had a clear vision of their objective. They wanted to achieve nearness to their Creator through creative reflections meditations It was not an exercise in a vacuum, like modern T.M. But even this did not achieve very encouraging results for it remained an
intellectual luxury of the few and was never considered a recipe for the ills of mankind..

Now the question arises: do we need such mental exercises for fun, or momentary excitement and comfort, or something which may provide a real solution to our problems? Obviously mankind is in need of something positive, practical and realistic that may help to secure peace, and happiness at individual as well as at national level. People have lost peace of mind through over-indulgence in pleasures and neglect of their celestial and spiritual needs. A philosophy of life which can bring proper coordination and understanding between the physical and spiritual needs of man could solve many of the problems that face him today. Man has lost his relationship with the Creator and is new wandering around in the wilderness of abstract thinking in search of peace. Surely he can regain his peace of mind through re-establishing his link with his Creator. And the shortest route to renew their relationship is to open dialogue with Him through prayers.

It seems very likely that there exists every intimate relationship between the performance of prayer and Divine favors. Presumably the physical postures and movements of prayer have a deep significance and important function in revitalizing and re-igniting the potential of enlightenment and energy inherent in every man. Prayer is composed of four main postures or movements of the body, i.e., qiy'am, ruku, sajdah and qaadah. It is very important that these four movements in the prayer are performed exactly in the same manner as taught by the Messenger of God. We offer our prayer to God because the Holy Prophet told us to do so. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that it must be performed in its every detail in the way it was performed by the Messenger of God himself.

Prayer is an obligatory duty and mere performance of it will no doubt absolve a believer of his duty to God, but if he wants to nourish and develop his self and soul, he must perform it in the way it was performed by the Messenger of God himself. The Holy Prophet laid great emphasis on the right performance of every act of prayer. Qiy'am must be performed properly; one must not bend forward or backward or lean sidewards but stand straight with eyes fixed at the place of sajdah and not looking around. Ruku must be moderate, neither too low nor too high but in line with the body as taught by the Holy prophet. There must be a reasonable gap between ruku and sajdah and between the two sajdahs, as advised by the Holy Prophet.

The importance of the proper performance of each part of prayer is emphasised by the Holy Prophet o Anas reported God's Messenger as saying, " perform the bowing and the prostration properly, for I swear by God that I can see you behind me" According to Abu Masud A1 Ansari the Messenger of God said, "A man's prayer do not avail him unless he keeps his back steady when bowing and prostrating himself." (1) Abu Qatada reported the Messenger of God as saying, "The one who commits the worst theft is he
who steals from his prayer." When asked how one could steal from his prayer, he replied, "By not performing his bowing and prostration perfectly".

There are details of qiy'am, ruku and sajdah in the hadith to help the believers to offer their prayer perfectly. According to A'isha, "God's Messenger used to begin prayer with takbir and the recitation of Surah Fatiha when he bowed, he neither kept his head up nor bent it down, but kept it between these extremes; when he raised his head after bowing he did not prostrate himself until he had stood erect; when he raised his head after prostration he did not prostrate himself again until he was in the proper sitting position."

If there is any slackness on the part of a believer in performance of any part of prayer, his prayer becomes void and he does not gain anything from it. According to Abu Hurairah, a man entered the mosque when the Messenger of God was sitting in it and
offered his prayer. He then came and said, " peace be upon you" and God's Messenger replied, " peace be upon you. Go back and offer your prayer, for you have not prayed." He returned and prayed, then came and said, "peace be upon you." The Messenger of
God replied, And peace be upon you. Go back and pray again, for you have not Prayed.." On the third or fourth occasion he said, "Teach me, Messenger of good God." So he said, "When you turn to the qibla and say, Allah u Akbar, then recite a convenient
portion of the Quran; then bow and remain quietly in that position; then raise yourself and stand erect; then prostrate yourself and remain quietly in that position; then raise yourself and sit quietly."

This hadith confirms our assumption that performance of each part of prayer properly and perfectly as taught by the Holy Prophet is essential. Any variation or alteration in the performance of any part of prayer from what was taught by the Holy Prophet renders it a meaningless exercise.

This great emphasis on the proper performance of prayer, even in minute details, is a testimony to the fact that there is a close relationship between the various postures and movements in prayer and the acquisition of Divine favors and enlightenment. The Holy Prophet emphasized again and again the deep significance of the actual performance of the different parts of prayer. It must therefore be performed exactly in the way it was taught by the Holy Prophet, otherwise it will not be a prayer but an exercise of the body performed to please yourself or just an habitual act.

There seems to be an intimate relationship between the movements of prayer and Divine blessings. If it is offered perfectly, then it help man to benefit from his inner potential energy in the development of his self and his soul. In daily prayer, God has given man the shortest and the quickest method of obtaining His Grace and Blessings. People in the past have spent ages, and sometimes, all their lives, to obtain a glimpse of His Glory and many have failed and died in the wilderness of disillusionment. A very few have received some form of enlightenment after years of hard and strenuous effort. People have starved themselves to annihilate their physical self in order to strengthen their soul and receive Divine Enlightenment, but without success. Some have spent all their lives with very little food and water in the jungles and in the valleys of mountains in the hope of rekindling and rejuvenating the dying light in their souls but with no, or only partial, success.

Prayer is a wonderful gift of God. There is no need in Islam to go to the mountains or jungles to kill your physical self in order to obtain dhyan (unbroken concentration) and through these forms of selfannihilation to reach for salvation. Prayer provides all the essential requisites for preparing the mind and transforming it into an extraordinary state capable of receiving the Divine Light. It provides physical as well as mental exercise in such a balanced way that neither is ignored over-emphasized. This harmonious functioning of body and mind at the correct level and in the most balanced way is achieved only through prayer. All the movements of the body from the standing position to the prostrating position, are the expression of the extreme humility of the body before the Supreme Being. It is, in fact, total submission of the physical self before the Supreme Authority. Recitation of Divine words and praises of God in prayer have a cumulative effect on the mental powers of man, And in this process of submission of the body and the mind to the Divine Will through the synchronization of movements and recitation of the Quranic verses in prayer, the spiritual power of man becomes stronger and gains full control over the physical self and gradually lifts it up to the Supreme Being.

This process of the total submission of the body and the mind before the Ultimate Authority is explained in the words of the Holy Qur 'an: "When you threw (a handful of dust), it was not your act, but God's. " (8:17) The action of the Holy Prophet in throwing
stones at his enemies was entirely in obedience to the Command of God and there was no personal motive or any realisation of his own physical self. In fact every action of the faithful servants of God, performed in obedience to His Command, can be ascribed to God Himself.

According to Abu Hurairah, the Holy Messenger said: "God says, 'My servant becomes closer to Me by performing those deeds which are obligatory on him And he gets close to Me through constant observance of optional (nafila) prayer until he becomes My beloved. When he becomes My beloved, I become his ears through which hears, his eyes through which he sees, and his hand with which he holds, and his feet with which he walks." This hadith shows that all the powers of his body and mind come under the Guidance of God and man attains very close relationship with his Lord.

This harmonious working of the body and the mind helps in concentrating and thereby activating the latent energies of the physical self. This process gradually transforms the centrifugal ( out-going ) forces operating in mind and body into centripetal (inward-going) and unifying forces which lift man from the world of matter into the world of spirit
and show him glimpses of the boundless spiritual world. In the course of the transformation of the concealed energies of the physical self into active unifying forces, the mind is slowly but surely released from the limitations of the physical self and is then able to conceive and grasp the meaning of the manifestations of the Supreme Being.

At this stage, man is fully prepared and ready, provided he maintains the standard of performance of his prayer, to receive the Blessings and Favours of the Supreme Power. In other words, he has reached the stage where he is in a position to establish close communion with God. And why not? After all, man represents the two important aspects of God's Creation, as stated by the Holy Quran in these words "That which I have created with both My Hands." (38:75)

"Both hands" refers to the two aspects of God's Creation. He has a physical body, which makes him one of the animals, and he has a soul, which makes him supreme over all other creation, including angels. When he is at his best in prayer, he leaps towards his spiritual world and establishes close contact with his Lord. And this is confirmed by a
hadith, according to which a Muslim achieves audience with God (hudhur) in prayer. "Prayer is Miraj of the believers" Muslim jurists have taken this hadhur to mean the presence of angels in prayer.

This may be explained in another way. The harmonious working of body and mind helps to awaken the Spiritual or super-sensory powers in man. The greater the harmony between the former two forces of man, the stronger the awakening of the super-sensory power in man. The proper balance between the triangular forces of body, mind and spirit acts like an electrical wire, which transfers the necessary electrical current from the main generating station to the electrical lamp. Just as it is unthinkable to transfer electricity direct from the main power house to a small electric lamp, similarly it is inconceivable to receive Divine Light or communion with God without proper harmony between the afore said forces.

It may, therefore, be said that an harmonious functioning of the triangular forces in man is absolutely necessary before any progress can be made in this direction. Unless body, mind and spirit ( or the soul) are properly functioning in harmony, it is not possible for man to rekindle his soul from the Light of the Power of God or to achieve any sort of close communion with Him. People have in the past adopted various methods to achieve this harmonious functioning of the triangular forces within the self but have often taken years for very little or partial success.

Islam has given man a very short but effective recipe in the form of prayer to achieve the required harmony between the triangular forces within him. Just study the form and the words of the prayer and how it is performed, and you will notice the wonderful combination it provides for body, mind and soul which no other religion or system has yet suggested. This process of the activation of spiritual or super-sensory powers in man  can also be explained in this way. Man is a psychosomatic organism- he has a body, which is the external part of him and a mind, which is the internal part of him
His body is composed of matter which, in the ultimate physical analysis, consists of atoms. His mind represents the entire world of ideas, beliefs, hopes, fears and aspirations. All these belong to the world of consciousness, ie, the inner side of man.
This consciousness (mind) of man play a vital role in relating the soul of man to his environment. In other words, it is a vital factor in relating spirit to matter.

There are thus two worlds in man: the physical, represented by body and, the spiritual, represented by mind. The latter belongs to the invisible world which exists side by side with the visible world disclosed by sense perception. The latter is dimensional while the former is extra-dimensional. Internally man belongs to the invisible world, that is to say, his soul or spirit belongs to that world, externally he belongs to the visible world, that is to say, his body belongs to that world, but through consciousness man is related to both the Worlds. If a man looks within his self he moves towards higher levels of consciousness and a deeper understanding of spiritual values. If, on the other hand, he devotes himself to the external world of matter, he tends to move away from the higher Spiritual values to the lower values of the visible world.

Regular prayer helps to attain the right equilibrium between the spiritual and the material worlds of man. He lives in the world of matter, works in it for his livelihood and satisfies all his material needs, but, at the same time, he keeps his link with the spiritual world and further strengthens it. Prayer enables him to develop and widen his
perception of the extra dimensional spiritual world to such an extent that he is able to perceive and understand the things of a higher level of consciousness which he could hardly visualize before. Establishment of prayer will strengthen the extradimensional powers of man to such a degree that he will be able to establish close relationship with the Ultimate Power.

It must, however, be emphasized that this link cannot be maintained without the establishment of regular prayer. Prayer is the means as well as the end. It helps man to establish and maintain his link with God. If the institution of prayer or its proper performance is lost, the link with the spiritual world will automatically be cut off. Man has not yet known any other effective means of establishing and then maintaining his relationship with God. It is like a wire, as explained before, connected with the main Generator. As soon as the wire is disconnected from the main source of power, the
light goes off, and all is darkness again. This wire is prayer.

Thus prayer, through multifarious ways beyond human comprehension, acts and reacts on the human mind until the latter is enlightened spiritually with the Nur (Ultimate Light) of the Universe. As all men do not possess similar or equal power, their personal experiences may very considerably. Each man gains this experience according to his own internal as well as external powers. But regular prayer does provide opportunities to every believer to develop his latent energies within his self according to his potentialities and thereby establish his link with God. The greater the perfection in the performance of prayer, the closer the relationship with God.

Communion with the Divine Being is attained when prayer is performed perfectly and properly in body, mind and soul as instructed by the Holy Prophet. This is why the Holy Prophet said that prayer was a miraj for believers. It provides an opportunity to believers to have a direct and close relationship with God as did the Holy Prophet during the night of the mi raj. This is also explained by another hadith when the Holy Prophet said "When you perform prayer, think that you are standing in front of God and seeing Him with your eyes. And if it is not possible for you to see Him, at least think that He is seeing you" When one achieves this miraj in prayer, he is bound to rise far above the physical barriers of this ethereal world and enter into the world of the unknown, experiencing new and wonderful things which he could never think of in his ordinary state of mind. The Companions of the Holy Prophet often experienced this in their prayer.

Anas used to perform long ruku and sujud; people often thought he had forgotten that he was offering his prayer. Abdullah bin Zubair often stood in qiyam like a lifeless pillar and spent so much time in sajdah that pigeons of Baitullah sat on his back taking it to be an inanimate object. once two Companions of the Holy Prophet were on night sentry duty on the battlefield. One was sleeping and the other stood in prayer. One arrow struck him while he was in prayer. He was bleeding but he completed prayer. After completing his prayer, he woke up his colleague on duty and told him that he was reciting one surah of the Holy Quran when the arrow struck him but he did not want to finish prayer without completing that surah. Once an arrow struck Ali; It was very deep and could not be pulled out. Ali asked his companion to pull it out while he was in prayer. He offered two rakat prayer and the arrow was pulled out of his leg, but he continued his prayer without feeling any pain.

Dr. Iqbal recognises the human quest for a Divine mission in these words. "But as I have said before, religious ambition sees higher than the ambition Of philosophy. Religion is not satisfied with mere  conception; it seeks a more intimate knowledge of and association with the object of its pursuit. (God) . The agency through which this association is achieved is the act of worship, ending in a spiritual illumination. The act of worship, however,  affects different types of consciousness differently. In the case of the prophetic consciousness, it is mainly creative, ie, tends to create a fresh ethical world wherein the Prophet, so to speak, applies the pragmatic test to his revelations Thus you will see that, psychologically speaking, prayer is instructive in its origin. The act of prayer, aiming at knowledge, resembles reflection Yet prayer at its highest is much more than abstract reflection. Like reflection it too is a process of assimilation, but the assimilative process in the case of prayer draws itself closely together  and thereby acquires a power unknown to pure thought. In thought, the mind observes and follows the working of reality; in the act of prayer it ceases to be a seeker of slow-footed universability and rises higher than thought towards Reality itself, becoming a conscious participator in its life. There is nothing mystical about it. Prayer, as a means of spiritual illumination, is a normal, vital act by which the little island of our personality suddenly discovers its situation in a larger whole."

"Do not think I am talking of auto-suggestion. Auto suggestion has nothing to do with the opening up of the sources of life that lie in the depths of the human ego. Unlike spiritual illumination which brings fresh power by shaping the human personality, it leaves no permanent life. No I am speaking of some occult and special way of knowledge. All  that I mean is to fix your attention on a real human experience which has a history behind it and a future before it. The quest of nameless nothing, as disclosed in Neo-Platonic mysticism be it Christian or Muslim-cannot satisfy the modern mind which, with its habits of concrete thinking, demands a concrete living experience of God. And the history of the race shows that the attitude of the mind embodied in the act of worship if a condition for such an experience. In fact prayer must be regarded as a necessary complement to the intellectual activity of the observer of Nature.

While discussing the real object of prayer, Dr, Iqbal says," prayer, then, whether individual or associative, is an expression of man's inner yearning for a response in the awful silence of the universe. It is a unique process of discovery whereby the searching ego affirms itself in the very moment of self negation, and thus discovers its own worth and justification as a dynamic factor in the life of the universe. True to the psychology of mental attitude in prayer, the form of worship in Islam symbolises both affirmation and negation. Yet, in view of the fact borne out by the experience of the race that prayer, as an inner act, has found expression in a variety of forms, the Quran says: "To every people We have appointed ways of worship which they observe. Therefore let them not dispute this matter with you, but invite them to your Lord for you are on the right way, but if they dispute with you, then say, God best knows what you do; He will judge between you on the Day of Judgment, in the matters wherein you differ. (22:66-69)."

"The form of prayer ought not become a matter of dispute. Which side you turn your face is certainly not essential to the spirit of prayer. The Quran is perfectly clear on this point: ' The East and West is God's, therefore whichever direction you turn, there is the face of God (2:109). And again, 'There is no piety in turning your faces towards the East or West, but he is pious who believes in God, and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Books and the Prophets, who for the love of God gives his wealth to his kindred, and to the orphans, and to ransom the slaves; who observes prayer and pays  zakat, and fulfils the contracts which he has made; and is patient in pain and hardship, and in time of trouble; those are they who are just, and those are they who fear the Lord (2:177).' " Yet we cannot ignore the important consideration that the posture of the body is a real factor in determining the attitude of mind"

To sum up, prayer is the key which opens the gate of the kingdom of God. And, according to Ibn 'Arabi, creative prayer becomes a dialogue between man and God and provides an opportunity to the earthly creature to open up his heart before his creator. It is creative because it is at once God's prayer and man's prayer. Such an effective prayer opens up new horizons for man beyond the comprehension of an ordinary being. Surah Fatiha in the prayer provides this opportunity to man to enter into such a
dialogue and enjoy the excitement and ecstasy of Divine vision.

According to the hadith reported by Abu Hurairah, the Holy Messenger said, "God says that I have diVided the prayer between Myself and Myservant into two parts. Half of it is for Me and half for MY servant and I give whatever he asksme for. When the servant says 'All praise is for the Lord of the universe,' God replies, 'My servant is grateful to me' When he says, 'Most Gracious, Most Merciful,' God says 'My servant has praised Me.' When he says 'Master of the Day of Judgment, 'God says, "My servant has exalted Me' When the servant says, 'You do we worship and Your help do we seek,' God says This portion is shared between Me and My servant. I bestow whatever he asks.' When he says,' Guide me to the straight path, the path of those whom You blessed, not of those who earned Your anger or went astray.' God says, 'This is for My servant and bestow what he has asked for."

This hadith throws some light on the unusual greatness and effectiveness of this prayer. First, nothing can be better and more exalted than what is demanded in the prayer: the servant is asking from God guidance to the right path to reach Him In other words, he is requesting God to show him the way to get closer to Him. Second, it starts with thanks-giving and those attributes of God which entitle him to His blessings Third, by saying, 'We obey You and ask Your help alone' he puts himself completely in the hands of God. He has put his entire trust in Him and thrown himself at His door. He has cut all his relations and come to build only one relation, i.e., with God. There is no reason why his request should not be granted. The final words of the prayer provide the best intercession. The servant prays for guidance to God and requests to be granted the ability and power to tread that path which leads to Him. In these words, God has Himself taught man how to reach Him, get near to Him and open a dialogue with Him.

Meaning Of Islam

ISLAM is derived from the Arabic root "SALEMA": peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense, Islam means submission to the will of God and obedience to His law.Everything and every phenomenon in the world, other than man is administered TOTALLY by God-made laws i.e. they are obedient to God and submissive to His laws i.e. they are in the STATE OF ISLAM. Man possesses the quality of intelligence and choice, thus he is invited to submit to the good will of God and obey His law ie. become a Muslim. Submission to the good will of God, together with obedience to His beneficial law, i.e. becoming a Muslim is the best safeguard for man's peace and harmony.
Islam dates back to the edge of Adam and its message has been conveyed to man by God's Prophets and Messengers including Abrahim, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Islam's message has been restored and enforced in the last stage of the religious evolution by God's last Prophet and Messenger Muhammad.
The word Allah in the Arabic language means God, or more accurately The One and Only Eternal God, Creator of theUniverse, Lord of all lords, King of all kings, MostCompassionate, Most Merciful. The word Allah to mean God is also used by Arabic speaking Jews and Christians.
Articles of Faith
Allah, the One and Only God
A muslim believes in ONE GOD, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider. God has no father nor mother, no sons nor was He fathered. None equal to Him. He is God of all mankind, not of a special tribe or race.
God is High and Supreme but He is very near to the pious thoughtful believers; He answers their prayers and help them. He loves the people who love Him and forgives their sins. He gives them peace, happiness, knowledge and success. God is the Loving and the Provider, the Generous, and the Benevolent, the Rich and the Independent the Forgiving and the Clement, the Patient and the Appreciative, the Unique and the Protector, the Judge and the Peace. God's attributes are mentioned in the Quran.
God creates in man the mind to understand, the soul and conscience to be good and righteous, the feelings and sentiments to be kind and humane. If we try to count His favours upon us, we cannot, because they are countless. In return for all the great favours and mercy, God does not need anything from us, because He is Needless and Independent. God asks us to know Him, to love Him and to enforce His law for our benefit and our own benefit and our own good.
Messengers and Prophets of God
A Muslim believes in all the Messengers and Prophets of God without any discrimination. All messengers were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelations and appointed by God to teach mankind. The Holy Quran mentions the names of 25 messengers and prophets and states that there are others. These include Noah, Abrahim, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Their message is the same and it is Islam and it came from One and the Same Source; God, and it is to submit to His will and to obey His law; i.e., to become a Muslim.
Revelations and the Quran
A Muslim believes in all scriptures and revelations of God, as they were complete and in their original versions. Allah, the Creator, has not left man without guidance for the conduct of his life. Revelations were given to guide the people to the right path of Allah and sent down to selected people, the prophet and messengers, to convey it to their fellow men.
The message of all the prophet and messengers is the same. They all asked the people of their time to obey and worship Allah and none other. Abrahim, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad who were revealed their own book of Allah, were sent at different times to bring back straying human being from deviation to Right Course.
The Quran is the sacred book of the Muslims. It is the last book of guidance from Allah, sent down to Muhammad, peace be upon him, through the angel Jibraeel (Gabriel). Every word of it is the word of Allah. It was revealed over a period of 23 years in the Arabic language. It contains 114 Surahs (chapters) and over 6000 verses.
The Quran deals with man and his ultimate goal in life. Its teachings cover all areas of this life and the life after death. It contains principles, doctrines and directions for every sphere of human life. The theme of the Quran broadly consists of three fundamental ideas: Oneness of Allah, Prophethood and life after death. The success of human beings on this earth and in the life hereafter depends on obedience to the Quranic teaching.
The Quran is unrivalled in its recording and prservation. The astonishing fact about this book of Allah is that it has remained unchanged even to a dot over the past fourteen hundred years. No scholar has questioned the fact that the Quran today is the same as it was revealed. Muslims till today memorize the Quran word by word as a whole or in part. Today, the Quran is the only authentic and complete book of Allah. Allah is protecting it from being lost, corrupted or concealed.
The Angels of Allah
There are purely spiritual and splendid beings created by Allah. They require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires nor material needs. Angels spend their time in the service of Allah. Each charged with a certain duty. Angels cannot be seen by the naked eyes. Knowledge and the truth are not entirely confined to sensory knowledge or sensory perception alone.
The Day of Judgement
A Muslim believes in the Day of the Judgement. This world as we know it will come to an end and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. On that day, all men and women from Adam to the last person will be resurrected from the state of death for judgement. Everything we do, say, make, intend and think are accounted for and kept in accurate records. They are brought up on the Day of Judgement. One who believe in life after death is not expected to behave against the Will of Allah. He will always bear in mind that Allah is watching all his actions and the angels are recording them.
People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to Allah's Heaven. People with bad records will be fairly punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell are known to Allah only, but they are described by Allah in man's familiar terms in the Quran.
If some good deeds are seen not to get full appreciation and credit in this life, they will receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on the Day of Judgement. If some people who commit sins, neglect Allah and indulge in immoral activities, seem SUPERFICIALLY successful and prosperous in this life, absolute justice will be done to them on the Day of Judgement. The time of the Day of Judgement is only known to Allah and Allah alone.
Qadaa and Qadar
A Muslim believes in Qadaa and Qadar which related to the ultimate power of Allah. Qadaa and Qadar means the Timeless Knowledge of Allah and His power to plan and execute His plans. Allah is not indifferent to this world nor is He neutral to it. It implies that everything on this earth originates from the one and only creator who is also the Sustainer and the sole source of guidance.
Allah is Wise, Just and Loving and whatever He does must have a good motive, although we may fail sometimes to understand it fully. We should have strong faith in Allah and accept whatever He does because our knowledge is limited and our thinking is based on individual consideration, whereas His knowledge is limitless and He plans on a universal basis. Man should think, plan and make sound choice, but if things do not happen the way he wants, he should not lose faith and surrender himself to mental strains or shattering worries.
The Purpose of Life
A Muslim believe that the purpose of life is to worship Allah. Worshipping Allah does not mean we spend our entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. To worship Allah is to live life according to His commands, not to run away from it. To worship Allah is to know Him, to love Him, to obey His commands, to enforce His laws in every aspect of life, to serve His cause by doing right and shunning evil and to be just to Him, to ourselves and to our fellow human beings.
Status of Human Being
A Muslim believes that human being enjoys an especially high ranking status in the hierarchy of all known creatures. Man occupies this distinguished position because he alone is gifted with rational faculties and spiritual aspirations as well as powers of action. Man is not a condemned race from birth to death, but a dignified being potentially capable of good and noble achievements. A Muslim also believes that every person is born muslim. Every person is endowed by Allah with spiritual potential and intellectual inclination that can make him a good Muslim. Every person's birth takes place according to the will of Allah in realization of His plans and in submission to His commands. Every person is born FREE FROM SIN. When the person reaches the age of maturity and if he is sane, he become accountable for all his deeds and intentions. Man is free from sin until he commits sin. There is no inherited sin, no original sin. Adam committed the first sin, he prayed to Allah for pardon and Allah granted Adam pardon.
A Muslim believes that man must work out his salvation through the guidance of Allah. No one can act on behalf of another or intercede between him and Allah. In order to obtain salvation, a person must combine faith and action, belief and practice. Faith without doing good deeds is as insufficient as doing good deeds without faith. Also, a Muslim believes that Allah does not hold any person responsible until he has shown him the Right Way. If people do not know and have no way of knowing about Islam, they will not be responsible for failing to be Muslim. Every Muslim must preach Islam in words and action.
Acceptance of Faith
A Muslim believes that faith is not complete when it is followed blindly or accepted unquestioningly. Man must build his faith on well-grounded convictions beyond any reasonable doubt and above uncertainty. Islam insures freedom to believe and forbids compulsion in religion (one of the oldest synagogues and one of the oldest churches in the worlds is in Muslim countries).
A Muslim believes that the Quran is the word of Allah revealed to prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel. The Quran was revealed from revealed from
Allah on various occasions to answer questions, solve problems, settle dbe man's best guide to the truth. The Quran was revealed in Arabic and it is still in its original and complete Arabic version until today. It is memorized by millions. A Muslim also believes in a clear distinction between the Quran and the Traditions (called Hadits) of the Prophet Muhammad. Whereas, the Quran is the word of Allah, the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (hadits i.e.: his teachings, sayings, and actions) are the practical interpretations of the Quran. Both the Quran and the Hadits of Prophet Muhammad are the primary sources of knowledge in Islam.
Application of Faith
God has laid down for a Muslim four major exercises of faith, some are daily, some weekly, some monthly, some annually and some are required as a minimum of once in a lifetime. These exercises of faith are to serve man's spiritual purposes, satisfy his human needs and to mark his whole life with a Divine touch. These major exercises of faith are:
Prayer (Salah)
Praying, to the Creator on a daily basis, is the best way to cultivate in a man a sound personality and to actualize his aspiration. Allah does not need man's prayer because He is free of all needs. Salah is for our benefit which are immeasurable and the blessings are beyond imagination.
In salah, every muscle of the body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of Allah. Salah is an act of worship. It is a matchless and unprecedented formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined.
Offering of salah is obligatory upon every Muslim male and female who is sane, mature and in case of women free from menstruation and confinement due to child birth. Requirements of salah: performing of ablution (Wudu), purity of the whole body, clothes and ground used for prayer, dressing properly and having (or declaring) the intention and facing the Qiblah; the direction of the Ka'bah at Mecca.
Obligatory Salah: Five daily salahs, the Friday's noon congregation salah and the funeral salah.
Highly recommended salah: Those accompanying the obligatory salah and the two great festival salahs.
Optional salah: Voluntary salah during the day and night.
Times of Obligatory Salah:
1. Early Morning - after dawn and before sunrise.
2. Noon - after the sun begins to decline from its zenith until it is about midway on its course to set.
3. Mid-afternoon - after the expiration of the noon salah time until sunset.
4. Sunset - immediately after sunset until the red glow in the western horizon disappears.
5. Evening - after the expiration of the sunset salah until dawn. Salah should be offered in its due time, unless there is a reasonable excuse. Delayed obligatory salah must be made up. In addition to the prescribed salah, a Muslim expressed gratitude to God and appreciation of His favours and asks for His mercy all the time. Especially at times of, for example: childbirth, marriage, going to or rising from bed, leaving and returning to his home, starting a journey or entering a city, riding or driving, before or after eating or drinking, harvesting, visiting graveyards and at time of distress and sickness.
Fasting is abstaining completely from eating, drinking, intimate sexual contacts and smoking from the break of dawn till sunset. It is a matchless Islamic institution which teaches man the principle of sincere love to God. Fasting teaches man a creative sense of hope, devotion, patience, unselfishness, moderation, willpower, wise saving, sound budgeting, mature adaptability, healthy survival, discipline, spirit of social belonging, unity and brotherhood. Obligatory fasting is done once a year for the period of the month of Ramadan; the ninth month of the Islamic year. Recommended fasting every Monday and Thursday of every week, three days in the middle of each Islamic month, six days after Ramadan following the Feast Day and a few days of the two months before Ramadan. Fasting of Ramadan is a worship act which is obligatory on every adult Muslim, male or female if he/she mentally and physically fit and not on a journey. Exception: women during their period of menstruation and while nursing their child and also in case of travel and sickness.
Charity Giving (Zakah)
Charity giving is an act of worship and spiritual investment. The lateral meaning of Zakah is purity and it refers to the annual amount in kind or coin which a Muslim with means must distribute among the rightful beneficiaries. Zakah does not only purifies the property of the contributor but also purifies his heart from selfishness and greed. It also purifies the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead good-will and warm wishes for the contributors.
Zakah has a deep humanitarian and social-political value; for example, it frees society from class welfare, from ill feelings and distrust and from corruption. Although Islam does not hinder private enterprise or condemn private possession, it does not tolerate selfish and greedy capitalism. Islam adopts a moderate but positive and effective course between individual and society, between the citizen and the state, between capitalism and socialism, between materialism and spiritualism. Zakah is paid on the net balance after paying personal expenses, family expenses, due credits, taxes, etc. Every Muslim, male or female who at the end of the year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 g of gold (approx. $1400 in 1990) or more in cash or articles of trade, must give Zakah at minimum rate of 2.5%. Taxes paid to government do not substitute for this religious duty. Contributor should not seek pride or fame but if disclosing his name and his contribution is likely to encourage others, it is acceptable to do so. The recipient of Zakah are: the poor, the needy, the new Muslim converts, the Muslim prisoners of war (to liberate them), Muslim in debt. Also employees appointed to collect Zakah, Muslim in service of research or study or propagation of Islam, wayfarers who are foreigners in need of help.
The Pilgrimmage (Hajj)
It is a pilgrimage to Mecca, at least once in a lifetime and it is obligatory upon every Muslim male and female who is mentally, physically and financially fit. It is the largest annual convention of faith on earth (in 1989: 2.5 million). Peace is the dominant theme. Peace with Allah, with one's soul, with one another, with all living creatures. To disturb the peace of anyone or any creature in any shape or form is strictly prohibited.
Muslim from all walks of life, from every corner of the globe assemble in Mecca in response to the call of Allah. There is no royalty but loyalty of all to Allah, the Creator. It is to commemorate the Divine rituals observed by the Prophet Abrahim and his son Ishmael, who are the first pilgrim to the house of Allah on earth; the Ka'bah. It is also to remember the grad assembly of the Day of Judgement when people will stand equal before Allah.
Muslims go to Mecca in glory of Allah, not to worship a man. The visit to the tomb of Prophet Muhammad at Madena is highly recommended but not essential in making the Hajj valid and complete.
Islam is a Code of Life
It is a Muslim belief that Muhammad's mission was for the whole world and for all the time; because:
Its universality has been clearly confirmed by the Quran (Surah 7: verse 158, 6:19, 34:28, 81:27).
It is a logical consequences of the finality of his prophethood. He had to be the guide and the leader for all men and for all ages.
Allah has provided, through him, a complete code which is to be followed, and this in itself supports the concept of finality, because without completeness, the need for other prophets would remain.
It is a fact that during the last 1400 years no man has arisen whose life and works bear even the slightest resemblance to that of a prophet. Nor has anyone presented a book which could be remotely considered a divine communication. Still less has there been a man to claim legitimate authority as a law-giver fro mankind. The mission of Muhammad, as well as of other prophets who brought the universal message of Islam, does not end with the announcement of the message. He has to guide the people by explaining to them the implications of the Islamic creed, the morale code, the divine injunctions and commandment, and the form of worship that sustains the whole system. He has to exemplify the faith so others can pattern their participation in the evolution of Islamic culture and civilization. The believers must grow under his guidance into an organized community so that Allah's word will prevail over all other words.
1. Spiritual Life: prayer (salah), fasting, charity giving (zakah), pilgrimage (hajj), love for Allah and His Messenger, love for truth and humanity for the sake of Allah, hope and trust in Allah at all times and doing good for the sake of Allah.
2. Intellectual Life: True knowledge based on clear proof and indisputable evidence acquired by experience or experiment or by both. The Quran points to the rich sources of knowledge in the whole universe. Islam demands faith in Allah on the basis of knowledge and research and leaves wide open all field of thought before the intellect to penetrate as far it can reach.
3. Personal Life: purity and cleanliness, a healthy diet, proper clothing, proper behaviour, and good healthy sexual relations within marriage.
4. Family Life: A family is a human social group whose members are bound together by the bond of blood ties and/or marital relationship and nothing else (adoption, mutual alliance, common law, trial marriage...etc.). Marriage is a religious duty on all who are capable of meeting its responsibilities. Each member of the family has rights and obligations.
5. Social Life: Man is ordained by Allah to extend his utmost help and kindness to other family members, relations, servants and neighbours. No superiority on account of class, colour, origin or wealth. Humanity represents one family springing from the one and the same father and mother. The unity of the humanity is not only in its origin but also in its ultimate aims.
6. Economical Life: Earning one's living through decent labour is not only a duty but a great virtue as well. Earning is man's private possession. The individual is responsible for the prosperity of the state and the state is responsible for the security of the individual. The Islamic economic system is not based on arithmetical calculations alne but also on moral and principles. Man comes to this world empty-handed and departs empty-handed. The real owner of things is Allah alone. Man is simply a trustee.
7. Political Life: The sovereignty in the Islamic State belongs to Allah; the people exercise it by trust from Him to enforce His laws. The ruler is only an acting executive chosen by the people to serve them according to Allah's law. The State is to administer justice and provide security for all citizens. Rulers and administrators must be chosen from the best qualified citizens. If an administration betrays the trust of Allah and the people, it has to be replaced. Non-Muslim can administer their personal life of marriage, divorce, foods and inheritance according to the Islamic law or to their own religious teachings. They may pay Zakah or a different tax tributes "Jizyah". They are entitled to full protection and security of the State including freedom of religion.
8. International Life: Man has a common origin, human status and aim. Other people's interests and right to life, honour and property are respected as long as the right of Muslim are in tact. Transgression is forbidden. War is only justified if the state security is endangered. During war, destruction of crops, animals and homes, killing non-fighting women, children and aged people are forbidden.