How to Beat Hard Times

How to Beat Hard Times

By Wael Hamza

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

How to Beat Hard Times

Whether you are a Syrian suffering from oppression and massacres by a criminal regime, an Egyptian fearing the brutal attacks of the corrupt supporters of the former government, a Palestinian who has lived his whole life under occupation, a Bengali who faces government crackdowns due to your political views, an American facing guilt by association and discrimination, or someone who observes all of these with a heavy heart, you are just an example of the difficult times our global Muslim community is going through. You may not be going through those trials but you may be faced with personal calamities, such as losing loved ones, facing financial difficulties, or dealing with family conflicts.

Difficult times are part of Allah’s laws in this universe; they are part of the tests that people go through.  They are not necessarily something evil, however. A difficulty we go through, on the contrary, could be a learning experience, a reminder, purification from sins and mistakes, a test of patience and perseverance, or all of these together.

We can emerge from difficult times closer to Allah, stronger, united, more skilled, and more guided, but only if we know how to live through them and respond to them.

There is no one to learn from who better responded to difficult times other than our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Not only was he a great man with noble character, he was also guided by revelations from Allah Almighty. Following his footsteps is essential to live a successful life and is part of us being Muslims. By definition, Muslims are the ones who bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. Therefore, following his example is an integral part of Islam.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of difficult times both on a personal and a community level. His life was extremely successful, yet it was the most challenging. By the will and the guidance of Allah, he was able to meet all the challenges he faced and come out of difficult times much stronger than ever before.

In this article, we will learn from our prophet some of the guidance to help us through difficult times we are going through and to enable us to use these challenges to our advantage.

The Prophet Facing Tough Times

We read the Prophet’s story hundreds of years after it was over. It is a successful story that contains one victory after another with a very positive final outcome. This positive experience masked all the difficult times in his life and we tend to overlook them when reading or relating the story, especially in the absence of deep analysis.

The fact of the matter is that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) went through a lot of challenges and difficult times throughout his whole life. In one year, his uncle and his wife, who both supported him emotionally and physically, died. In the very same year, he was subjected to physical abuse from the people of Makkah. The following story, as narrated by one of the Prophet’s companions, Abdullah Ibn Mas`ud, tells you how he was treated during this very tough year:

Seven from the leaders of Makkah were gathering next to Al-Ka`bah while the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was praying. He elongated his prostration. Abu Jahl, one of those leaders, said,

“Who would bring the innards of the camel so-and-so family just slaughtered? We can put it on top of Muhammad while prostrating!”

`Uqbah Ibn Abi Mu`ait, the most idiot amongst them, brought it and put it on the back of the Prophet while prostrating. The Prophet did not move and I (`Abdullah is talking) could not dare to do anything, for I have no clan to protect me.

Fatimah, the Prophet’s young daughter, came and removed the dirt and insulted all of them. The Prophet then raised his head and started supplicating to Allah against them all.

He was also challenged as a messenger tasked by Allah to convey His message. He was called a liar, a sorcerer, a poet, and a fortuneteller, and people started calling him Mudhamam (dispraise worthy) while his name is Muhammad (praise worthy).

His reputation was attacked, and his companions were tortured to the extent that people stopped listening to him. For two consecutive years before he migrated to Medina, only four people believed in him, two of whom died shortly after.

His trip to the neighboring city of Ta’if was just another example of those tough times. He traveled, walking, for over fifty miles to deliver his message to the people of Ta’if and ask for their support. Not only did they mock him, disbelieve in him, and let him down, but also asked their slaves and youngsters to throw stones at him for a few miles until his sandals turned red from his bleeding.

Even after migration to Madinah, his life wasn’t easy. He suffered the curses and the disrespect of the hypocrites in Madinah. His noble wife `Aishah was subject to an ugly rumor spread in the society for days.

Madinah under his leadership was challenged by war from almost every single tribe in Arabia. He witnessed the killing of seventy of his companions among whom was his dear uncle Hamzah.

He faced a siege of ten thousand soldiers, an attack on which his whole city, where all the believers lived, was about to be destroyed.

He faced treason from Jewish tribes in Madinah: some plotted to kill him and others betrayed him to side with an attacking army.

Many of the messengers he sent to teach people Islam were killed in cold blood and he grieved for them for months, seventy of them in one incident and twelve in another.

Learning from our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)

How did the Prophet manage to face all these challenges?

How was he able to come out of them stronger and with even more influence?

How did he develop such a community that was able to be steadfast in the face of difficult times during his life and after he died?

Below are a few simple, yet very effective, concepts that the Prophet embraced and taught his Companions.

These concepts are extremely important for us to understand and embrace. While going through the ideas below, you will realize that they are a mix of:

•         Personal qualities the Prophet and his Companions displayed

•         Ideas taught by the Qur’an and the words of the Prophet

•         Practical actions taken by the Prophet to face difficult times

1. Know! Difficulties are inevitable tests

This is the first and the most important concept one should believe in: going through difficult times is almost inevitable.

“Do people think they will be left alone and they will not be tried? …” ( Al-`Ankbut  29:3)

When you claim to believe in Allah, stand for what is right, oppose what is wrong, support justice, or fight oppression, these claims will all be tested. Allah will show who is truthful and who is lying.

This is the tradition of those on the straight path at all times. The Prophet and his companions were asked in the Qur’an, a question that is also asked to all of us,

“Do you suppose that you will enter Paradise untouched by the suffering endured by the people who passed before you? They were afflicted by the misery and hardship and they were so convulsed that the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: ‘When will Allah’s help arrive?’” (Al-Baqarah 2: 214)

2. Know! Difficulties happen by the Will of Allah

It is very important to know and believe that nothing will happen to you except what Allah has decreed for you. The Prophet was asked to say,

“Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us.” (At-Tawbah 9:51)

He taught one of his young cousins, `Abdullah Ibn `Abbas, “Know that what hits you would not have missed you.

This belief gives you comfort and prevents fear from future difficulty, but more importantly, helps you overcome any difficulty you are already going through. Allah said,

“No misfortune ever befalls unless it be by Allah. And whosoever has faith in Allah, Allah guides his heart …” (At-Taghabun 64:11)

3. Flee to Allah

O Allah I display before you my weakness …” This phrase was part of the prayer of the Prophet while coming back from his trip to Al Ta’if. Taking refuge in Allah and asking for His help and support is a very important action we should do during the time of difficulty. This is a trial by Allah, it happened with His permission, and it is only He who can alleviate it.

4. Examine your actions

If you are not angry with me, I do not care …” was also part of the Prophet’s prayer returning from Al Ta’if. During times of difficulty, we should examine our actions. This difficulty may very well be a warning from Allah that we are doing something wrong. It may be because of our sins and mistakes:

“Whatever misfortune befalls you is a consequence of your own deeds …” (Ash-Shura 42:30)

It may be because we strayed and Allah sent this difficulty to us as a reminder to bring us back. Malik Ibn Dinar, one of the great scholars of Islam, transformed from being an alcoholic person to the great person we know as a result of the death of his own two-year old daughter.

5. Be optimistic

Having hope and being optimistic were two important attitudes the Prophet embraced when facing difficulty.

By Allah, Allah will perfect this matter until the traveler can travel from Sana’a to Hadhramaut fearing no one but Allah and the wolf that may eat his sheep“, The Prophet told Khabbab when he complained to him about the severity of torture he and other Muslims in Makkah were going through. (Al-Bukhari)

It was this hope in Allah, and confidence that there will be ease after difficulty, that kept them going.

This hope was not only kept in the hearts but was also spread through words and attitude. The Prophet mastered optimism and looked for optimism: “Evil omen is false! And I likes Al-fa’l (good omen)” the prophet told his companions. They asked, “What is Al-Fa’l?” He responded, “A good word.” (Muslim)

6. Do not get distracted

One of the very bad consequences of going through difficult times is the amount of distraction the difficulty creates. Ibn Al-Qayim says,

“It is a complete fiasco to be distracted by the blessing away from the One who blesses, and by the trial away from the One who tries.”

Sometimes the difficulty itself scares us away from the good we are doing. Allah says,

“And let it never happen that they might turn you away from the revelations of Allah after they have been revealed to you…” (Al-Qasas 28-87)

The prophet never stopped delivering his message because of a personal difficulty he went through or because of a threat or torture he received from his enemies.

7. Expect reward

This was one of the teachings the Qur’an instilled in the hearts of Muslims. Whether the calamity happens naturally, or whether it is due to the harm of others, being patient and perseverant results in a lot of reward. The calamity will eventually be over,

“Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease. Indeed with the difficulty there is an ease.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

And when the ease comes, the pain will go away and will be forgotten. What remains and will never go away is the tremendous reward one would get,

“We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient.

Those, who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to Allah, and it is to Him we shall return.”

Upon them will be the blessings of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Wael Hamza is a Muslim writer, thinker and an active figure in MAS (Muslim American Society), U.S.A.

 

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Steps Towards Inner Peace

Steps Towards Inner Peace

By Salman al-`Awdah

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

Steps Towards Inner Peace

Inner peace is the source of all peace.

When a person is at harmony with himself, he is able to live in harmony with others.

God says:

“When you enter houses, greet yourselves with peace.” (Al-Nur 24: 61)

Believers recite the following words in all of their prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious servants.” In the Qur’an, we encounter the word “self” being used in the context a group of people.

Indeed, it is from the depths of the self that peace radiates forth. Inner peace requires that a person’s relationship with himself is clear, and that his goals and objectives are understood and at harmony with his inner being.

Indeed, after knowledge of the Lord, the most important thing for a person to have knowledge of is knowledge of his self and how to perfect it and purify it. He needs to be sensitive to his own gifts and talents, aware of his weaknesses and strengths. Would he describe himself as patient or hasty, forthright or timid, tenacious or easily bored?

A person needs to know the truth about himself so he can go make good progress in a direction where he can best capitalize on his strengths and potential. This does not mean that a person must explore the nature of his existence and of the human soul. Such knowledge is outside of our grasp except for what is revealed to us in the sacred texts. (Al-Isra’ 17: 85)

At the same time, it is quite possible for a person to become acquainted with the dimensions of his personality, his talents, and his true nature. He can then use this knowledge to help him toward what is good and to safeguard him from misfortune.

Inner Peace and Human Nature

Islamic Law takes a person’s nature into account and often legislates in accordance with it without blame or reproach. This applies even to the Prophets and Messengers when they acted according to their instincts and their natures, for they were human beings, no more and no less. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

We are more deserving of doubt than Abraham was when he said: {‘My Lord, show me how you resurrect the dead. And (Allah) said ‘Do you not believe?’ And he said: ‘Yes, but it is just to make my heart content.’} And may Allah have mercy on Lot, for he had betaken himself to a powerful support. Had I languished in prison as long as Joseph had, I would have complied with their demands.” (Al Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had sought after knowledge and desired to be acquainted with the true nature of things. This was just to satisfy his natural, human curiosity. When Prophet Muhammad said: “I would have complied with their demands” he was alluding to our natural, human love of liberty and freedom and our loathing of being confined and having our potentials held back, especially for a long period of time.

Moses (peace be upon him) knew himself well, and he was frank about his feelings, speaking about them unequivocally and without shame. He spoke about his natural fears when he said:

“And I had fled from you when I was afraid of you.” (Ash-Shu`ara’ 26: 21) And,

“Our Lord! Truly, we fear that he will fall upon us or transgress against us.” (Ta-Ha 20: 45)

When a person knows himself in this way and accepts himself, it keeps him to what is within his natural capacity and his abilities and defines for him his goals so he can go forward with a clear vision. Our submission should be to our principles and values in our heart, the values by which we relate to our Lord, and according to which we should speak and act.

These true and established values should be the basis of our conduct. Otherwise, by always seeking to please this person or avoid that person’s displeasure, our lives become nothing more than perpetual pretentiousness and flattery, in surrender to those around us so that we lose our individuality and our independence. One aspect of inner peace is for our inner selves to be in harmony with our outward conduct. What we profess should be reflected in what we do. (Al-Saff 61: 3)

This requires us to be upright and correct in our approach. Prophet Muhammad defined what it means to be upright on the occasion when Sufyan ibn `Abdullah al-Thaqafi asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Islam what will suffice me so I will not have to ask anyone else about it.” The Prophet replied: Say: ‘I believe in Islam.’ Then be upright.” (Muslim)

Our worship should be in harmony with the way we treat others.

Our worship should give direction to our affairs and make us uphold justice and honor the rights that other people have. We should not lead a double life, one persona for the mosque and an utterly different one for the outside world. Many failures take place and reversals take place because of the abysmal state of those who live lives of outward piety accompanied by inward wretchedness. We really need to strengthen and deepen our faith, so that it can be a pillar to support us through all of life’s trials and tribulations.

We are faced with problems and disappointments at home, at work, and within ourselves, and our faith in God must be strong if we are to endure them and prevail. This faith must be accompanied by genuine devotion that emanates from deep within the heart before manifesting itself in our outward worship. Inner peace requires our wants and aspirations to be in keeping with our abilities and with what is possible for us. Prophet Muhammad said:

O you who believe! Assume the works that you are capable of carrying out, for indeed Allah does not become disinterested until you do, and indeed the most beloved of works to Allah are those that are most constant, no matter how small they might be.” (Al Bukhari)

This applies to everything. In the pursuit of material gain, a person can destroy himself with avarice. Inner peace in what we call towards. No one of us can expect the whole world to respond positively to what he advocates, nor is it right that it should. This did not even happen for God’s Messengers. Whatever one of us works for, there is always someone else working to the contrary and who may obliterate our achievements. Inner peace requires being at peace with our own unique dispositions.

A person cannot compel himself to assume what is alien to his nature or at conflict with it. He must be in harmony with himself. We can see how Prophet Muhammad, when he was served a spiny-tailed lizard to eat, refrained from partaking in it. Khalid ibn al-Walid noticed this and asked if eating the meat of the spiny-tailed lizard was unlawful. The Prophet replied: “No. It is just that it is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself disinclined to it.” He did not eat it, simply because it did not agree with his disposition. It was not a question of whether or not its flesh was permitted by Islamic Law.

The same can be said for the companions; each of them had his or her own unique disposition. Abu Bakr was different than Umar. The question of how to deal with the prisoners of war at Badr is a clear case in point each one of them offered an opinion that concurred with his own personality and outlook, as long as the matter was open to more than one point of view. Abu Bakr was a man of gentleness and forbearance, and Prophet Muhammad acknowledged this about him. Umar was forceful and strict, and likewise, Prophet Muhammad took this into consideration. We must recognize our unique personalities and come to terms with them. We cannot force ourselves into a pretence of denying our individual qualities and temperaments. Umar ibn `Abdul-`Aziz had said: “The most pleasurable of things is a personal predilection that is in accordance with Islamic teachings.”

Inner Peace and Resignation

We must be at peace with what God decrees for us, though we should seek by way of God’s decree to avoid the harm of God’s decree. It is as Umar had said when he avoided entering a plague-stricken region: “We flee from Allah’s decree towards Allah’s decree.”

A believer is resigned to God’s decree and accepts it fully, so much so that he does not want to hasten what has been delayed nor defer what has been hastened on. The terminally ill, those homely of appearance, the feeble-minded, the bachelors and spinsters, the orphans, and all those who suffer from misfortunes – such people have a pressing need to come to make peace with what God has decreed for them, and then go forward with their lives, taking recourse to all practical means at their disposal while resigning themselves to that which is beyond their power.

Being fair and just is also an important factor in attaining inner peace. This requires us to do away with selfishness, vain desires, and avarice. `Ammar, the illustrious companion, used to say:

“There are three things that if someone possesses them all he will have comprehended faith: applying justice to yourself, greeting the world with peace, and spending in charity under straitened circumstances.” (Al Bukhari)

When some of us disagree with one another, why do we not try to put ourselves in the other’s place and try to see things from their point of view, and accept that for them at least what they accept for themselves? I am almost certain that there is no one on Earth who is truly fair with himself except the extremely few whom God graces with that ability. The Prophet said: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eye but fails to see the crud in his own.

Inner Peace of Mind

Inner peace also requires that we reconcile our minds to the knowledge of the unseen that the Messengers have brought us. That knowledge never contradicts with accurate scientific knowledge or with sound reason. We accept this knowledge of the unseen without allowing ourselves to succumb to the mindset of mythology that readily concedes every tale that is told without any discretion or discernment.

Matters of the unseen are matters that are beyond the powers of the human mind to ascertain, while fables and myths are beneath the level of the human mind. We must employ reason and eschewing blind acceptance. Indeed, the mind is for discernment; it is not a mere repository for information.

The eminent jurist and legal theorist `Izz al-Din ibn `Abd al-Salam pointed out that questions pertaining to welfare and harm are discernible by reason even before the revelation of the Law. I would like to add that these matters are still discernible to reason even after the Law has been revealed. This is how we understand the Qur’an and Sunnah and how we weigh various legal rulings against one another. We take matters of welfare and harm into due consideration, neither deriding the true worth of our minds nor exaggerating our estimation of their powers and burdening them with matters that are beyond their scope.

There are limits beyond which our minds must not transgress. We must also bring under control the misgivings that our human minds can fall victim to and that can spoil our lives by troubling us in both our worship and our worldly affairs. Most of these things that disquiet us so much are psychological in nature. The best and most effective treatment for such misgivings is to force ourselves to ignore them, to simply refuse to give them the time of day. We must beseech God to help us in this effort and seek refuge with Him in the manner shown to us by Prophet Muhammad by reciting Surah al-Ikhlas.

We must each muster our inner strength and resolve not to heed the demands of our misgivings, especially regarding doubts about our purification. We should even consider the affliction of being beset by misgivings to be an exceptional situation that allows us license to overlook things until God reveals for us a way out of our difficulties. God knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.

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This article is taken with slight editorial modifications from the author’s website, Islam Today – http://en.islamtoday.net.

Shaykh Salman was born in the village of Al-Basr near the city of Buraida in 1375 A.H. / 1955 A.C to a rich family which was known for its nobility and good name. The Shaykh became known for his intelligence at an early age. After completing his secondary studies, Shaykh Salman enrolled in the Arabic language faculty at the university of Imam Muhammad Bin Saud in Riyadh. He studied there for two years before transferring to the Shari’ah Faculty where he obtained his degree. On receiving his degree, Shaykh Salman returned to al-Qaseem where he studied at the Academic Institute at Buraida. He then transferred to the Shari’ah and Usul ad-Deen Faculty at the Imam Bin Saud Islamic University – Qaseem Campus, where he worked as a lecturer and continued his university studies. He received his Masters degree with a thesis on “The Estrangeness of Islam”.

 

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Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

By Sarah Ghias

ramadan

If a person overeats in the evening and indulges in heavy, fatty foods, this offsets the physical benefits of fasting.

Ramadan: Month of Fasting or Month of Feasting?

The holy month of Ramadan is a time of restraint, reflection, and renewal. Muslims make every effort to better themselves and to be drawn closer to their Creator.

They guard their tongues, engage in long hours of worship, exercise patience, and open up their hearts and pockets to charitable causes.

However, when it comes to consuming food during the evening hours, some believers fall short of following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessing be upon him (PBUH).

In order to compare the eating habits of Muslims today, during the month of Ramadan, with that of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) an informal survey was conducted.

In 2008, over 270 participants from around the world were asked about their consumption habits during this sacred month.

Sixty percent of participants were from the US, 20% from the Middle East, 10% from South Asia (Indian Subcontinent) and 10% were from other countries.

Breaking the Fast

Regarding the iftar meal, it is encouraged to break your fast as soon as it is permissible to do so. The Prophet (PBUH) would hasten to break his fast.

Sahl ibn Sa`d reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

It is reported that the Prophet (PBUH) would also break his fasts with dates as do 86.5% of the survey participants; this is a Sunnah that is well followed by Muslims today.

Anas Ibn Maalik said: “The Prophet (PBUH) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he didn’t find fresh dates then with dried dates. If there were no dried dates then with a few sips of water.” (Abu Dawood).

Imam Ibn Qayyim Al Jauziyah states in his book “Healing With the Medicine of the Prophet” that breaking the fast with dates “is a wise decision because fasting empties the stomach of food. Thus the liver would not find any sufficient energy that it could transfer to the various organs. Sweets are the fastest foods to reach the liver when one eats ripe dates the liver accepts it, benefits from it and then transfers the benefit to the rest of the organs of the body.”

After this process, the body is ready to accept and digest additional food. Thus ideally, one should break their fast with a date and after praying the Maghrib prayer, they should continue with their meal.

This gives the body ample time to prepare itself for the sudden increase in food intake. 58% of respondents to the survey stated that they eat their meal after the Maghrib prayer.

Overeating

It is during the Iftar meal that we consume the most and often overindulge ourselves.

40% of participants admitted that they eat at least twice as much for Iftar than they eat for a regular dinner in any other month.

Fifty percent of respondents to the survey admitted that they overeat during Ramadan and 62% felt that they eat heavier and richer foods during this blessed month.

Thus, it is a cause for concern that especially in this holy month of Ramadan, when the nafs (self) should be kept in check, some choose to overindulge and eat in extravagance.

Fasting during the daylight hours has several health benefits; it cleanses the system and removes harmful toxins from the body.

When the body is fasting and not occupied with the process of digestion, its organs are given an opportunity to rejuvenate and restore themselves, in turn allowing the one who fasts to recover from various ailments.

However, if a person overeats in the evening and indulges in heavy, fatty foods, this offsets the physical benefits of fasting.

It is generally presumed that since one is restraining from food and drink during the daylights hours, the body needs increased input during the non-fasting hours.

This isn’t the case, however, as the body regulates itself when it is in fasting mode and has the opportunity to utilize its storage of body fat.

To remain healthy and active during Ramadan, the amount of food intake isn’t as important as the variety of foods we eat.

The Prophet (PBUH) was known to eat an assortment of foods including meat, fruit, bread, and dates, according to Imam Ibn Qayyiim.

Thus to maximize the physical benefits of fasting it is desirable to eat less but have a balanced diet which taps into the major food groups.

As for the types of foods eaten during Ramadan, 67% of respondents said they eat 3 or more different types of dishes, with the over 30-year-olds eating more of a variety of foods than the 18 – 30-year-olds.

Fifty-seven percent of the participants stated that they eat fried food for iftar and 34% of them said that the majority of their meal consists of this type of food. Thirty-four percent of respondents include desserts in their iftar meal.

Suhoor, the Blessed Meal

The Prophet (PBUH) strongly recommended eating Suhoor. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri reported that the Messenger (PBUH) said: “Eating the Suhoor is blessed. Do not neglect it even if you take a gulp of water because Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those who partake in the pre-dawn meal.” (Ahmad).

It is encouraged by the Sunnah to delay the Suhoor as much as possible and eat until the last permissible minute.

70% of the respondents claim that they delay their suhoor till the last moment.

According to ‘Amr ibn Maimun: “The companions of Muhammad (PBUH) would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their Suhoor.” (Al-Baihaqi, Abdur-Razzaq, and Al-Haithami; Sahih).

For Suhoor it is recommended to have high fiber, slow digesting foods that satisfy the hunger for longer; oats and fiber-rich fruit are good options to have.

The Prophet used to eat dates for Suhoor and it is recorded that he said: “The best Suhoor for the believer is dates.” (Abu Dawood, Al-Baihaqee, and Ibn Hibbaan).

Dates are a powerhouse of nutrients and an instant source of energy; they are high in sugar, fiber, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Consuming dates allows one to feel satiated for an extended period of time, making it a perfect food to start your fast with.

Forty-nine percent of the respondents said they have tea or coffee for Suhoor, this isn’t a wise option as caffeine is a diuretic which doesn’t provide us with sufficient hydration and causes us to lose liquids along with essential minerals from our body.

Sixty-one percent of respondents who are over 30 drink tea or coffee in the morning and 42% of respondents younger than 30 drink tea or coffee.

Ramadan is an excellent opportunity to rid ourselves of addictions to caffeinated drinks. One should drink plenty of water and pure fruit juices instead.

Moderation is Key

Allah says in the Qur’an,

“Eat of the good things We have provided for your sustenance, but commit no excess therein.” (Taha 20:81)

The body of mankind has been blessed with is an Amanah (trust) from Allah.

It is an obligation to take care of it and fuel it with that which is good.

The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “The stomach is the tank of the body and the veins go down to it. When the stomach is healthy the veins come back in a healthy condition, but when it is in a bad condition, they return diseased.

Islam emphasizes moderation in every aspect of life and it is essential that this concept be applied to food intake as well.

Imam Ash-Shafi’ said: “I have not filled myself in sixteen years because filling oneself makes the body heavy, removes clear understanding, induces sleep and makes one weak for worship.”

Temperance in eating leads to a healthy body, a sound intellect, and a gentle disposition. It curbs our desires and positively affects the physical as well as the spiritual being of the heart.

This point is further explained by Imam Ibn al-Qayyim when he said: “From the Mercy of the Mighty and Most Merciful is that He has prescribed for them fasting, which will cut off the excesses of eating and drinking, and empties the heart of its desires that divert it in its journey towards Allah the Most High.”

The Prophet (PBUH) warned against submitting to our desires when he said, “My greatest fear for you is the appetites of transgression with regard to your stomachs and your privates and the inclinations which lead astray.” (Ahmad).

Thus we should eat only that which is beneficial and only enough to sustain us and give us the strength to carry out acts of worship and obedience.

A well-known hadith reported by al-Tirmidhi relates that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. A few morsels should be enough for him to preserve his strength. If he must fill it, then he should allow a third for his food, a third for his drink and leave a third empty for easy breathing.

This concept is emphasized in the Qur’an where Allah says,

“Eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” (Al-A`raf 7:31)

Ramadan is an opportunity to reevaluate one’s relationship with food. It allows one to realize that they can get by without eating for several hours and that their bodies are capable of functioning on a moderate amount of consumption.

Ramadan is fast approaching so instead of spending the coming weeks stocking the pantry and freezer with delights to feast on when the sun sets, let us focus our attention on perfecting our ibadah (worship) so that we may savor the bountiful treats of Jannah (Heaven) without having to worry about clogged arteries or accumulating extra pounds!

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Sarah Ghias is a freelance writer who currently resides in Texas, United States. She graduated with Honors from the University of Texas at Dallas with a Business Administration Degree. You can contact her by sending an e-mail to ScienceTech@islam-online.net.

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Striving in Ramadan to Become a Pious Person

Striving in Ramadan to Become a Pious Person

By Mansoor Alam

piousStriving in Ramadan to Become a Pious Person

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

What is Taqwaa?

In the above verse “Taqwaa” has been translated as “self-restraint”. Other translations include: God-fearing [Arberry] or God-conscious [Asad].

The root of Taqwaa (w-q-y) means to steadfastly remain vigilant in practicing Allah’s commands and, because of this, to be protected from all kinds of evil, corruption, and destructive forces. In other words, the cornerstone of Taqwaa is developing a strong character by following the principles laid down by Allah in the Quran for attaining Taqwaa.  A person who has developed such a character and which is reflected in his/her actions, is a Muttaqi (pious) in the eyes of Allah.

Qur’anic Definition of Muttaqoon

A very comprehensive definition of Muttaqoon is given in the following verse:

True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west – but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance – however much he himself may cherish – it – upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177).

According to this verse, the essential purpose of Islam is not fulfilled by a mechanical performance of rituals, e.g., turning eastward or westward during prayer, but requires instead:

100% conviction, Iman, in Allah; in the law of requital; in the life Hereafter; in the forces created by Allah for our benefit, Malaa-ikaa; in all the Prophets (PBUT); and in all the Books revealed to them; and

The establishment of a system in which resources are made available to help those who (a) are left without protection or support in society; (b) lose their means of livelihood or are incapacitated to work; and (c) cannot earn enough to meet their needs. This system will also provide assistance to those outsiders, who, while passing through its territory, become indigent, as well as arrange for the liberation of oppressed people from oppression.

According to this verse, Muslims are required to establish a system wherein members of the society adhere to the Divine code of life voluntarily – this is a requirement of Iman; and to make sure that means of development are provided to all who need them. Muslims must honor their promises and commitments (23:8). If hostile forces confront them, they must face them with steadfastness and fortitude, and must not let fear and despair weaken them.

Only those who follow this path without swerve, can claim to be true believers (Momineen) and they only can rightfully claim to be Muttaqoon.

The following verses further highlight the character of the Muttaqoon.

Nay, but [God is aware of] those who keep their bond with Him, and are conscious of Him: and, verily, God loves those who are conscious of Him.” (Aal `Imran 3:76)

They are those with whom thou didst make a covenant, but they break their covenant every time, and they have not the fear (of God) (8:56). [Yusuf Ali] [Meaning these people are NOT Muttaqoon].

And whoso bringeth the truth and believeth therein – Such are the dutiful” (Az-Zumar 39:33).

O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do” (Al-Ma’idah 5:8).

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous” (Aal `Imran 3:133).

Fasting is a means to becoming Muttaqi. No doubt, fasting has health and spiritual benefits, but we must never lose sight of the main goal of fasting.  Ramadan provides an environment for our collective training and character development.

Muslims are required to emulate and display, yearlong, the qualities laid down by the above verses as a result of fasting in the month of Ramadan.

Since character building is a hard, long, continuous process, Ramadan is repeated every year as a reminder and re-enforcer. We must judge our accomplishments by the standards laid down by the Quran. We should not be under the false impression that our spiritual development is taking place while our life goes on as usual. We have to keep the life and works of the Prophet (PBUH) and Sahaba (R) before us to know whether or not we are among the Muttaqoon.

That is why Ramadan was meant to be a month of fasting and introspection and soul searching and remembering Allah with passion and intensity reminiscent of the companions of the Prophet (PBUH).

It was supposed to be an occasion for believers to go through a yearly month long intensive training exercise of hardship and self-restraint and of spiritual purification and commitment to Allah and to learn physical and mental discipline and patience essential to Islam so that they would be able not only to proclaim, but also to establish the greatness and sovereignty of Allah in the world by facing bravely any challenges that might come their way.

That is how the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions and the rightly guided Khalifas practiced Ramadan. And the results speak for themselves. Ramadan was never meant to be a ritual and a short cut to heaven.

Seeing the hopeless condition of Muslims in general, some aching souls cry during Ramadan prayers—and everyone whose heart is touched by the plight of Muslims should too. So the question remains, what should we do? Should we all cry and go home and carry on with our daily routine until next Ramadan? Or, should we go back to the Prophet (PBUH) and Sahaaba (R) and get inspired by their example of what they were able to accomplish during Ramadan, and following in their footsteps, try to root out the true cause of suffering of Muslims worldwide?

Why is it so difficult to follow the example of the Prophet (PBUH) in doing what he actually did to change the world, and why so easy to praise him? Does he need our empty praises or does he need our solid actions? Does Allah need our empty words of Takbir or does He need our actions to establish His Takbir in the world?

Ramadan, in fact, was meant for Muslims to go through a program of training and exercise to be able to do just that and not “finish” it as a ritual for earning rewards in the Hereafter and to recite a few extra Takbirs during Eid prayer and carry on business as usual for the rest of the year.

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Adapted with editorial adjustments from islamicity.org.

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Fasting Should Increase Philanthropy

Fasting Should Increase Philanthropy

By Sadullah Khan

Philanthropy Fasting & Philanthropy

Sawm or Fasting in the Islamic tradition requires dawn until dusk abstention from food, drink and intimacy. It is, however far more than mere refraining from these necessities of daily living.

Spirituality and Social Consciousness

Fasting in Islam is a mode of enhancing self-discipline, an opportunity for regulating attitude and conduct; for developing a better self that focuses on the larger purpose of existence. The month of Ramadan is thus an opportunity for spiritual rejuvenation and increased philanthropy; a means of attaining taqwa (piety), which the Qur’an considers the pinnacle of human development.

While fasting, we are far more aware of the hunger of the poor and the suffering of the oppressed and are therefore instructed to be more generous in this month. As a matter of fact, the feast of Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of the fast of Ramadan, cannot be celebrated unless those affording ones have disbursed the sadaqa-tul-fitr (natural charity or sincere bounteousness) to the impoverished. This promotes attentiveness to social responsibility, interest in the welfare of society and inspires a continued spirit of generosity.

Dimensions of Generosity

Whatever one can do to enhance the situation of others is considered charity or an act of generosity. Prophet said; “There is charity due on every part of the body every day.” He went on to say: ” to bring justice between people is charity, to help a person with transport and helping with baggage is charity, a kind word is charity, every step towards prayer is charity, removing harmful things from the way is charity …. giving water to the thirsty is charity. A person’s true wealth lies in the good they accrue for the Hereafter through good deeds in this world. When a person dies people ask ‘what has he left behind?’ while angels ask ‘what has he sent forth?’ ”

Honestly answering the question; “What am I doing for others?” is in a way a good measure of our spirit of generosity.

Heart over Wallet

Charity enhances the giver rather than devaluing his worth; as Prophet Muhammad said; “Charity does not decrease wealth”. Real generosity is not dependent so much on income as it is on the capacity of the heart. There are many who have the means to give, but not the heart to give. And there are many, who, the more they have the less they give. Thus, when giving of material wealth, ensure that you do not give merely from the top of your wallet, but rather give from the bottom of your heart.

Greater Living through Benevolence

Life should not really be about how much wealth we accrue, but rather how many people we serve; because the greater our giving, the greater our living Prophet Muhammad said: “Surely, Allah created humanity to be of benefit to creation.

Remember, we are here to enrich the world. We become enriched by enriching the lives of others and if we ever forget that, we impoverish ourselves.

Ramadan Mubarak – A blessed Ramadan to all.

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Adapted with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org.

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Tarawih, Eid Prayers to Be Performed at Home as Coronavirus Precaution

Tarawih, Eid Prayers to Be Performed at Home as Coronavirus Precaution

By Truth Seeker Staff

TarawhiPeople will have to perform Tarawih and Eid prayers at home to prevent spreading coronavirus, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti said Friday.

Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh was responding to people’s queries ahead of Ramadan, which starts next week.

“As it will not be possible to hold Tarawih prayers at mosques this year due to the preventive measures taken by authorities to fight the novel coronavirus, people will have to perform them at home to obtain the virtue of praying during the blessed nights of Ramadan,” said Al Al-Sheikh.

“It has been established that Prophet Mohammed performed these prayers at home, and it is known that Tarawih is Sunnah and not obligatory. If the status quo persists, making it impossible to hold Eid Prayer at mosques, people will have to pray at home and no sermon will follow the Eid prayer.”

He said that the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta had issued a fatwa that it was desirable for whoever missed congregational Eid Prayers to perform it without a sermon following it.

“If making up the prayer for those who missed it with the imam is desirable, this gives us all the more reason to perform the prayer in countries where the congregation is not held because this includes performing the ritual however possible.”

He added that the last date for people to pay Zakat Al-Fitr was before the sunrise of Eid Al-Fitr.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, said that one of the five imperatives of Shari`ah was saving lives, especially in the face of “an invisible enemy,” where all components of society had the duty to fight it.

He was speaking during a video call held by the OIC International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) about the global health emergency.

Al-Othaimeen added:

“The participants in the symposium have a great legal and humanitarian responsibility to explain Shari`ah provisions about dealing with this pandemic, raising awareness of its seriousness, and highlighting the licenses and necessities called for in studies of Fiqh of calamities. We also need to urge everyone to adhere to the necessary preventive measures taken by governments to confront this pandemic.”

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Take with editorial adjustments from Arab News.

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Interfaith: Spiritual Power to Counter Pandemic

Interfaith: Spiritual Power to Counter Pandemic

By Victor Ghalib Begg

PandemicInterfaith: Spiritual Power to Counter Pandemic

Detroit’s multi-faith community is uniquely prepared in countering the scourge of the coronavirus.

So, how are some of them responding to this pandemic?

I looked for a few examples. I wanted to ask the leaders what each’s aith community is doing in these challenging times. I found a common goal that motivates those connected to the houses of worship in serving others in need, irrespective of the recipient’s beliefs. No matter who their congregations worship to, I noticed unanimity — they bring their respective community resources to meet this challenge.

COVID-19 targets us as a single vulnerable people. Creed, color or status means nothing to it. Whether be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and none, we’re confronting one enemy.

In polling the interfaith community leaders I had worked with, as interfaith partners in service, I learned: believers, facing an adversary like this one, lean upon the universal power of love, mercy, service and care for their neighbors — giving real meaning to One Nation under God, and In God we Trust.

I especially wanted to hear from the diverse minority faith groups.

► Rabbi Asher Lopatin, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC, told me the stories of his community work that matters in these difficult time — he highlighted one of their several initiatives: Food to the Front Lines Meals on Wheels program in providing daily meal deliveries to those in need.

► Mahmoud Al-Hadidi, chair of the Michigan Muslim Community Council, briefed me: Their members too are helping with food distribution. He pointed out the Muslim Council’s collaborative efforts with Muslim Jewish Advocacy Council of Michigan to provide hundreds of kosher and halal meals to front line healthcare providers of all backgrounds, in appreciation of their heroic sacrifices.

► Sam Yono, a Chaldean community leader and businessman, spoke of the contributions of his Catholic community: “Our grocery stores and gas stations stay open, well stocked to provide essentials — many offering free food and other necessities to the poor.” He added, “Our volunteers collect supplies and protective gear for medical professionals.”

► Raman Singh, president of the Interfaith Leadership Council, and a trustee of Mata Tripta Ji Gurdwara Sahib in Plymouth, provided me with pictures of Sikh volunteers unloading bags of food for distribution to the needy.

Churches, synagogue, mosques and temples may shut their doors to keep this invader out, but it can’t lock God out, who inspires goodness into the hearts of the believers — giving them the strength and a will to serve even under attack. This foe may subdue a human body, but their human spirit of giving and sacrifice remains undefeated — a reason why hospitals offer spiritual spaces and hospital chaplains of all faiths comfort patients in trying times.

From Vatican to Mecca, the coronavirus is aiming to separate congregants from their houses of worship — church bells temporarily stopped welcoming, a prominent rabbi urging worshipers not to kiss the western wall, mosques replacing the call to prayer with al-salatu fi buyutikum or “pray in your homes” instead of the usual hayya alas-salah or “come to prayer.”

Undaunted faithful, however, continue by livestreaming services; never abandoning the strong and healing hand of God. Zoom video technology brings faith groups face to face to plan and promote service to humanity. As one who welcomes interfaith engagement, dialogue and unity, I’m proud to know interfaith partners of Metro Detroit are stepping up to the challenge.

As the governments, scientists and the front-line medical professionals battle the coronavirus, the faith communities offer spiritual power to counter this invisible force.

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Victor Ghalib Begg is an emeritus senior adviser of Michigan Muslim community Council, and the author of the 2019 memoir, “Our Muslim Neighbors — Achieving the American Dream; An Immigrant’s Memoir.” You can reach him at VictorBegg.com.

 

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Prophet Muhammad Is Not God

Prophet Muhammad Is Not God

By Dr. Ali Al-Halawani

Prophet Muhammad Is Not God

He was a man with a noble mission.

He always described himself as “A servant and Messenger of Allah (the One and Only God)“.

His mission was to unite mankind for the worship of One God on the codes of moral excellence.

The life and teachings of Muhammad have survived without the slightest loss, alteration or interpolation.

Offering the same undying hope for treating mankind’s many ills, which they did when he was alive.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Do not over-praise me as the Christians over-praised Jesus, the son of Mary. I am His slave, so refer to me as ‘God’s slave and Messenger.’

Every detail of his private life & public utterances has been accurately documented & faithfully preserved to our day.

The Prophet’s wife, ‘A’ishah, was once asked to describe the Prophet, and she replied that “his character was a reflection of the Qur’an” (Sahih Muslim, 40).

Watch this 5-minute video to learn more…

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Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation Studies. He is an author, translator, and writer based in Canada. To date, Al-Halawani authored over 400 original articles on Islam and Muslims, most of which can be accessed on www.truth-seeker.info and other famous websites. He has recently started to self-publish his articles and new books, which are available on Amazon and Kindle. You can reach him at alihalawani72@hotmail.com.

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Merits of the 15th Night of Shaban

Merits of the 15th Night of Shaban

By Truth Seeker Staff

shabanMerits of the 15th Night of Shaban

Shaban is the 8th month in the Islamic calendar and is considered one of the meritorious months for which we find particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad. It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast most of the month in Shaban except for the last few days of the month.

These fasts are supererogatory (nafl). Shaban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned in a hadith, “Rajab is the month of Allah, Shaban is my month and Ramadan is the month of the Nation“.

The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him): “Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Shaban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month.” Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) replied: “That (Shaban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan, which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting.

Ummul Mu’mineen ‘Aishah (r), says, “Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), used to fast for most of Shaban. I said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah, is Shaban your favorite month for fasting?’ He said, ‘In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting.‘ ”

These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Shaban, though not obligatory but are very deserving and that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) did not like to miss it.

The Night of nisf (mid) Shaban

Various Islamic scholars have recommended special worship during the night of the 15th of Shaban. This is based on the saying (Hadith) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) the meaning of which is that during the night of 15th of Shaban, Allah will say “is there any person repenting so that I forgive him, and any person seeking provision so that I provide for him, and any person with distress so that I relieve him, and so on until dawn.” reported by Ibn Majah.

This is the night occurring between the 14th and 15th days of Shaban. Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) show that it is a prominent night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine Mercy.

On the Night of 15th Shaban, after Maghrib or Isha prayer, it is traditional practice to read Surah Yasin and make special supplications for good health, protection from calamities and increased Iman.

According to tradition, this night has special blessings that are directed towards the faithful. Therefore, as much as possible, this night should be spent in worship and total submission to Allah Almighty. Also, fasting is recommended on the day immediately following this Night, i.e. the 15th day of Shaban.

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Adapted with editorial adjustments from islamicity.org.

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Saudi Urges Muslims to Hold off on Hajj Plans

Saudi Urges Muslims to Hold off on Hajj Plans

By Omar Shariff

hajjSaudi Urges Muslims to Hold off on Hajj Plans

Saudi Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammed Saleh Bin Taher Banten has requested Muslims around the world to wait till a clearer picture emerges before making Haj plans, given the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the globe right now. “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is prepared to secure the safety of all Muslims and nationals,” Banten told state television. “That’s why we have requested from all Muslims around the world to hold onto signing any agreements until we have a clear vision.”

Banten’s statement constitutes the first official comment from the kingdom on the Haj so far.

Banten’s comments at a time when the kingdom has reported 10 deaths an almost 1,600 cases of COVID-19 infections. Saudi Arabia has barred people from entering or exiting three major cities, including Mecca and Medina, and imposed a nighttime curfew across the country.

Each year, up to 2 million Muslims perform the Haj, which all able-bodied Muslims with the means are required to perform once in their lifetime. For many, the Haj takes years of planning and savings, and among the faithful, it is seen as a journey of faith, a journey of a lifetime.

Standing in Mecca in front of the Kaaba that Muslims pray towards five times daily, Banten also said the kingdom was already providing care for 1,200 pilgrims stuck in the holy city due to global travel restrictions. A number of them are being quarantined in hotels in Mecca, he said.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency cited Banten’s remarks in stories early Wednesday, saying that Muslims should “be patient” in making their plans for the Haj. The pilgrimage was expected to begin in late July this year.

Like other countries around the world and in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has suspended all inbound and outbound commercial flights. The Middle East has more than 71,000 confirmed cases of the virus, most of those in Iran, and over 3,300 deaths. More than 851,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 42,053 have died.

In February 2020, the kingdom took the extraordinary decision to close off the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to foreigners over the virus, a step which wasn’t taken even during the 1918 flu epidemic that killed tens of millions worldwide. Cancelling the Haj would be unprecedented in modern times, but curbing attendance from high-risk areas has happened before, including in recent years during the Ebola outbreak.

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Adapted with editorial adjustments from Gulf News.

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