Prayer: the soul’s delight
By: A. A. Mawdudi
The frequency and timings of the Prayers never let the object and mission of life be lost sight of in the maze of worldly activities.
Ibadah (act of worship) is an Arabic word derived from `abd (a slave) and it means submission. It portrays that God is your master and you are His slave and whatever a slave does in obedience to and for the pleasure of his master is worship.
The Islamic concept of worship is very wide. If you free your speech from filth, falsehood, malice, and abuse and speak the truth and talk goodly things and do all these only because God has so ordained to do, they constitute `ibadah, however secular they may look in semblance.
If you obey the law of God in letter and spirit in your commercial and economic affairs and abide by it in your dealings with your parents, relatives, friends, and all those who come in contact with you, then all these activities of yours are worship. If you help the poor and the destitute, give food to the hungry, and serve the ailing and the afflicted persons, and do all this not for any personal gain of yours but only to seek the pleasure of God, they are nothing short of worship. Even your economic activities, the activities you undertake to earn your living and to feed your dependants, are worship if you remain honest and truthful in them and observe the law of God.
The Time You Have (Video)
Well, why are we here? To amass fame and fortune? To make music and babies? To be the richest man or woman in the graveyard for, as we are jokingly told, ‘He who dies with the most toys wins?’
No, there must be more to life than that, so let’s think about this.To begin with, look around you. Unless you live in a cave, you are surrounded by things we humans have made with our own hands.Now, why did we make those things? The answer, of course, is that we make things to perform some specific function for us.In short, we make things to serve us.So by extension, why did God make us, if not to serve Him?
If we acknowledge our Creator, and that He created humankind to serve Him, the next question is, ‘How? How do we serve Him?’ No doubt, this question is best answered by the One who made us.If He created us to serve Him, then He expects us to function in a particular manner, if we are to achieve our purpose.But how can we know what that manner is? How can we know what God expects from us?
Neck Pain and Dizziness: Diagnosing the Problem
Dizziness and neck pain are common medical conditions that we often assume will go away with self-medication or a massage. Although you may be hopeful that you can self-diagnose using the vast array of medical information available on internet, not even the best article’s a substitute for a doctor. Make sure you see a healthcare specialist regardless, and especially if symptoms are persistent or severe.
Dr. Zakir Naik: Is Islam the Solution for Humanity? (Video)
Blatant Terrorism, Regional and Religious Intolerance and Inequalities, Rape, Theft and Murder, Deteriorating Morals, Ethics and Values. Increasing Materialism and Self-Centric Activities. Little Regard to the Problems of others. Does Islam provide answers for Humanity?
Ramadan in Central Virginia, USA: An Insider’s Perspective
By: Mahasin Shamsid-Deen
Have you ever wondered how your brothers and sisters in the USA are experiencing their Ramadan? How is their experience similar/different from yours, and what could be the lessons learned for their fellow Muslims around the world?
In this article, we will discuss how Ramadan is like for a Muslim in Central Virginia, USA.
How Do Muslims in Your Area Prepare for Ramadan?
Alhumdulillah, the Ramadan experience in the US is as variable as the community. After residing in different parts of the country over a number of years, some consistencies have become the norm. Muslims themselves are made to be responsible for making Ramadan relevant and important since the US does not have a predominant Muslim population. There will be no advertising and promotion on the radio or television to either remind or enhance the experience.
However, in Central Virginia and many other areas of the country the local Imam will begin to devote a Friday khutbah to the subject and preparation of Ramadan usually the week before. If there is an Islamic school in the area, the staff will usually have it on the calendar and begin activities with the children.
The start of Ramadan is anticipated but always a bit chaotic as there is no governmental agency or television announcement of its start.
Muslims wait around their phones and computers for the sighting of the hilal to begin the month. Many Muslims who have migrated from different parts of the world and now reside in the US often hear from family members and pass information along. Nonetheless, most of the time a message is left on the answer machine of the local masjid/Islamic centre that people are asked to call after midnight. Some will use the internet to update with mass emails and even some smaller or technologically advanced communities will send out mass text messages. Some years, the evening news will announce that Ramadan has begun in whatever Muslim country is at war or in the news at the moment.
Not surprisingly, the end of Ramadan in the united states follows the same ritual as the beginning as far as informing people when and where the Eid-ul Fitr prayer will be held. In every city that I have lived in the US, at least one masjid/Islamic centre is observing this Eid prayer on a different day. As many masjid/Islamic centre have become very ethnically divided over the past 20 years, some Eid prayers will be almost exclusively one nationality or if there is a ‘unified’ Eid prayer, the community will splinter into ethnic subgroups for Eid activities. This is especially disconcerting to new converts or those Muslims who do not have Muslim families as they are often alone.
It seems that community support really means a lot over here. How does the community help those less well off during Ramadan?
During the month of Ramadan many local mosques will sponsor either nightly taraweeh or have ‘weekend’ taraweeh prayers. Also, some localities will have restaurants and individuals sign up in advance to sponsor an iftar and dinner for anyone attending the mosque at night, while smaller communities will usually only have a potluck or family sponsorship of food once a week. In recent years in many locations, especially Central Virginia – Ramadan has become synonymous with fundraising. Islamic schools, individuals building a masjid, the Islamic centre itself and Muslim groups/initiatives will pick a night usually a weekend and bring in a guest speaker while they provide food to breakfast and serve dinner for those at the mosque – for a fee. The speaker will spend the time between Maghrib and Isha discussing the benefits and needs for those in attendance to donate. Usually, those in the mosque may breakfast for free, but must pay to eat. This practice can and has led to congregants being subjected to a fundraiser every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the month. Since attendance at the masjid is higher on the weekend evenings some here in Central Virginia have begun to complain that this practice takes away from the spirituality of the month,
Brotherhood and congregation within the home is less specific. Many use the masjid/Islamic centre as their sole social source while others have gatherings in their homes for those within their own ethnic group or madhab. New converts are usually not invited to breakfast with Muslims at their house unless they are in the ‘known’ crowd, so their only iftar is usually within the masjid/Islamic centre. This is often true of those Muslims who do not have Muslim family members as well.
What about taraweeh? What are your tips to attend regularly and make the most out of it?
When Ramadan is in the summer and the fasting days are 15+ hours, Muslims are more able to have an iftar at their home and then go to the masjid for Taraweeh. When Ramadan is in the winter, and the days are so short, iftar and dinner seems to revolve around the masjid only.
American Muslims will usually read the Qur’an during the month of Ramadan, usually taking in one-thirtieth each day. Interestingly, this is done in addition to going to the nightly taraweeh where the Quran is recited in Arabic. Many will read the translations each day so they can understand exactly what is being recited to them at night.
Ulama of Indonesia issue fatwa to protect wildlife
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s top Islamic clerical body has issued a religious fatwa against the illegal hunting and trade of endangered animals in the country, which the WWF hailed on Wednesday as the world’s first.
The fatwa by the Indonesian Ulema Council declares such activities “unethical, immoral and sinful”, council official Asrorun Ni’am Sholeh told AFP.
“All activities resulting in wildlife extinction without justifiable religious grounds or legal provisions are haram (forbidden). These include illegal hunting and trading of endangered animals,” said Sholeh, secretary of the council’s commission on fatwas.
“Whoever takes away a life, kills a generation. This is not restricted to humans, but also includes God’s other living creatures, especially if they die in vain.”
The country of 250 million people is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but it remained unclear whether the fatwa would have any practical impact.
Indonesia’s vast and unique array of wildlife is under increasing pressure from development, logging and agricultural expansion.
The government does not typically react to fatwas by implementing specific policy changes.
However, a Forestry Ministry official who asked to remain anonymous told AFP the ministry and the religious council would make a joint announcement regarding the fatwa on March 12, without elaborating on its content.
The WWF called the fatwa the first of its kind in the world, and said the use of religion for wildlife protection “is a positive step forward.”
”It provides a spiritual aspect and raises moral awareness which will help us in our work to protect and save the remaining wildlife in the country such as the critically endangered tigers and rhinos,” WWF Indonesia communications director Nyoman Iswara Yoga said.
The fatwa was the result of months of dialogue between government officials, conservationists and other stakeholders, said Sholeh, the fatwa commission official.
Acknowledging it was not legally binding, Sholeh said in English: “It’s a divine binding.”He said the fatwa was effective from January 22. It was only made public late Tuesday.
The fatwa urges the government to effectively monitor ecological protection, review permits issued to companies accused of harming the environment, and bring illegal loggers and wildlife traffickers to justice.
The clearing, often illegally, of Indonesia’s once-rich forests for timber extraction or to make way for oil palm or other plantations poses a severe threat to critically endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger, orangutan, and Sumatran elephant.
Poachers also target wild elephants for their ivory tusks, for use in traditional Chinese medicines
Under Indonesian law, trafficking in protected animals can result in a maximum of five years in jail and 100 million rupiah ($8,700) fine.
How to Make the Best of Your School Holidays
Holidays are the time we all wait for, but when they finally come, we often feel lost. We either want to do so many things or we do not want to do anything at all. So time goes by and before we know it, the school holidays are over, leaving us with many regrets of what we could have done. Here are some tips on how you can organise your holidays to make them more fulfilling, creative and fun.
1. Plan Your Holidays
Planning your holidays will help you to be prepared for the activities you intend to do. First, make a list of the things you want to do and then, organise them into weekly activities. Make sure you do not organise too many tiring activities within a short period of time. Keeping it to one or two activities per week should be manageable. Every morning, note what you have to do during the day. Remember to organise your activities around salah time. This way, you can pray on time and still be able to fit in your other activities for the day.
For example, if you decide to start scrapbooking, make sure you are fully prepared. Keep a note book where you can note down your ideas. Create a space for you to carry out your scrapbooking activities. Arrange your materials in an accessible and a tidy way. This will save you the chore of looking for your materials as well as saving you time when you need to put them away. Creating a nice space will also motivate and inspire you to do creative things.
2. Organise Activities with the Family
Holidays are the time to maximise family time. It is a good time for organising games and outings.
Try going to places that would please everybody. Consider the age and health of your family members. If you are travelling abroad, plan your stay in advance. Learn about the country, climate, availability of halal food, mosques and methods of transport. Get a map and find out about the places you can visit. Plan your trips so you can make day trips to nearby places. It might be less tiring to alternate long and short trips. Before deciding on anything, discuss with your family and make sure everyone is comfortable with the itinerary.
You can play games or do other activities that will interest everybody and that everybody can participate in. You can also learn new things with your family. Look for common interests and learn together with your family. You can use this opportunity to try to learn about your family and even your extended family. For example, involve the elders by asking them about your ancestry and involve your younger siblings by asking them to help you make a family tree. You can also connect with members of the family whom you have never met.
Other simpler ways to strengthen ties between generations would be to learn family traditions from your elders. You can, for example, learn family recipes from your parents and grandparents.
3. Helping with the Household Chores
Holidays do not apply to household chores. On the contrary, there might be more. You can help your mother with the chores around the house. She will love having your help. But do not let the chores ruin your holidays. Instead, turn them into fun activities in which the whole family can take part. Include your siblings in daily cooking and cleaning, allowing them to see that even work can be fun when everybody helps. This would speed up the work, reduce tiredness and even allow you some quality family time.
4. Do not Abandon Good Habits
During the holidays, there is a general tendency to be less disciplined and to succumb to bad habits. This can have a negative effect on your holidays. If you want to enjoy your holidays, you need to be fit. Eating well and sleeping well are very important. Avoid going to bed too late. Instead, sleep right after Isha’ salah so you can wake up early the next morning and maximise the day. That way, you can carry out your activities well and without tiredness.
Another common mistake is that we spend too much time in front of the television or on the computer. Allocate some time for these activities and make sure you stick to your plan.
5. Reconnect with Allah
Holidays offer us more time to reconnect with our deen and increase good deeds, bringing us closer to Allah . Give more time to your deen at both a community and at an individual level. Help out more at your local masjid and other Islamic organisations. You can plan at least one Islamic activity with your family, such as cooking food for the poor. When you are on your own, make more duas, memorise new surahs and recite more of the Qur’an. Make yourself stronger before the holidays are over. This will also help you to resist the temptation of participating in haram activities, which are so prevalent during holidays.
6. Find Some Time to be Alone
Practising solitude can be very beneficial. You will have time to think about things that pertain to only you. If there are any changes you want to make to your life and self, holidays are the time to start them. Holidays could be the time to get your routine back on track. For example, those who have hectic routines can benefit by signing up for time management or stress management courses.
You could also look for a part-time job to make some pocket money. An internship or apprenticeship could earn you some work experience as you will gain a better understanding of the industry you wish to pursue.
Think about some things you would like to do that would bring some personal satisfaction to you. Be creative, develop your abilities, discover new skills and explore them. Take up a new hobby or restart an old one. Continuing it after the holidays will make your routine less boring and add more colour to your life.
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