Worship in Islam: True Purpose and Motives

Worship in Islam: True Purpose and Motives

God-consciousness

What does make a Muslim say their prayers at places where there is no one to ask them to offer them or even to see them offering them?  Isn’t it so because of their belief that God is ever looking at you?  What does make them leave their important business and other occupations and rush towards the mosque for Prayers?

What does make them terminate your sweet sleep in the early hours of the morning, go to the mosque in the heat of the noon, and  leave their evening entertainments for the sake of prayers?

Is it anything other than sense of duty; their realization that they must fulfill your responsibility to the Lord, come what may?  And why are they afraid of any mistake in prayer?

Congregational prayer arouses in Muslims the sense of their collective unity and fosters among them national fraternity.

Because their heart is filled with the fear of God and they know that they have to appear before Him on the Day of Judgment and give an account of their entire life.

Now look!  Can there be a better course of moral and spiritual training than Prayer?  It is this training which makes a man a perfect Muslim.  It reminds him of his covenant with God, refreshes his faith in Him, and keeps the belief in the Day of Judgment alive and ever present before his mind’s eye.  It makes him follow the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) and trains him in the observance of his duties.

This is indeed a strict training for conforming one’s practice to one’s ideals.  Obviously if a man’s consciousness of his duties towards his Creator is so acute that he prizes it above all worldly gains and keeps refreshing it through prayers, he would certainly not be inviting the displeasure of God that he all along has striven to avoid.

He will abide by the law of God in the entire gamut of life in the same way as he follows it in the five prayers every day.  This man can be relied upon in other fields of activity as well, for if the shadows of sin or deceit approach him, he will try to avoid them for fear of the Lord that would be ever present in his heart.  And if even after such a vital training a man misbehaves himself in other fields of life and disobeys the law of God, it can only be because of some intrinsic depravity of his self.

Then again, a Muslim should say their prayers in congregation and especially so the Friday Prayer.  This creates among the Muslims a bond of love and mutual understanding.  This arouses in them the sense of their collective unity and fosters among them national fraternity.  All of them say their prayers in one congregation and this inculcates in them a deep feeling of brotherhood.

Prayers are also a symbol of equality, for the poor and the rich, the low and the high, the rulers and the ruled, the educated and the unlettered, the black and the white all stand in one row and prostrate before their Lord.  Prayers also inculcate in Muslims a strong sense of discipline and obedience to the elected leader.

In short, prayers train them in all those virtues that make possible the development of a rich individual and collective life.

These are a few of the myriad of benefits Muslims derive from the daily Prayers.  If we refuse to avail ourselves of them we, and only we, are the losers.

If you see that some Muslims shirk the prayers, this can only mean one of two things: Either they do not recognize Prayers as our duty or they recognize them.  In the first case, their claim to faith shall be a shameless lie, for if they refuse to take orders from Allah they no longer acknowledge His authority.

In the second case, if they recognize Allah’s authority and still flout His commands, then they are the most unreliable of creatures that ever trod the earth.  For if they can do this to the highest authority in the universe, what guarantee is there that they shall not do the same in their dealings with other human beings?  And if duplicity overwhelms a society, what a hell of discord it is bound to become!

Fasting

What the prayers seek to serve five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan (ninth month of the lunar year) does once a year.  During this period from dawn to dusk, Muslims eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water, no matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty they feel.  What is it that makes them voluntarily undergo such rigors?  It is nothing but faith in God and the fear of Him and of the Day of Judgment.

Each and every moment during the fast, Muslims suppress their passions and desires, and proclaim by their doing so the supremacy of the Law of God.  This consciousness of duty and the spirit of patience that incessant fasting for full one month inculcates in Muslims help them to strengthen their faith.

ramadan

fasting has an immense impact on society, for all Muslims, irrespective of their status, must observe fasting during the same month.

Rigor and discipline during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life, and help them make their life during the rest of the year a life of true subservience to His will.

From yet another point of view, fasting has an immense impact on society, for all Muslims, irrespective of their status, must observe fasting during the same month.  This brings to prominence the essential equality of men, and thus goes a long way towards creating in them sentiments of love and brotherhood.

During Ramadan evil conceals itself while good comes to the fore, and the whole atmosphere is filled with piety and purity.  This discipline has been imposed on Muslims to their own advantage.  Those who do not fulfill this cannot be relied upon in the discharge of their duties.

But the worst are those who, during this holy month, do not hesitate to eat or drink in public.  They are the people who by their conduct show that they care not a trifle for the commands of Allah, in Whom they profess their belief as their Creator and Sustainer.

Not only this, they also show that they are not loyal members of the Muslim community; rather, they have nothing to do with it.  It is evident that in so far as obedience to law and regard for a trust reposed in them goes, only the worst could be expected of such hypocrites.

Soucre Link

The Message of the Messengers

The Message of the Messengers

The Prophets of God came for the guidance of humankind; to save it from shirk, and to take them out of darkness into light.

God, the All Wise, All Knowing, All Merciful and Just, created this Universe in order to test and examine His obedient slaves and reward them, and to punish the disobedient. He says:

We did not create the heavens and the earth and that between them in play. We did not create them except in truth, but most of them do not know. (Ad-Dukhan 44:38-39)

God also made clear the main goal for the creation of mankind saying:

I did not create the Jinn and Mankind except for My worship. (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Allah, the Exalted, did not leave His slaves to rely upon their intellect and inclination to guide them to the correct way; rather He sent them Messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners. He sent the revealed Books with them to be a reference in those matters wherein they disagreed, so that no excuse would remain for the people and the proof would be established against them. Thus, after sending the Messengers, there would be no further excuse for people before Allah.

Indeed, their mission covered every good and banished every evil. They brought to humankind everything needed for their wellbeing and happiness in this world and the Hereafter. There is nothing good, which they did not inform the people about and nothing evil that they did not warn the people against.

‘Abdullah bin `Amr ibn Al-`Aas (may God be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There was never a Prophet before me except that it was a duty upon him that he should guide his nation to every good that he knew and warn them against every evil that he knew…” (Muslim)

Indeed, calling to God was the mission of the Messengers in order to bring the people out from darkness into light. There are many basic principles upon which their calls were based, which were the starting point for calling to God. These fundamental principles are:

1. Tawheed (monotheism)
2. Prophethood
3. The Hereafter

Every book revealed by Allah gave great importance to these points. The most important and sublime of these three principles and the most fundamental of them all is Tawheed (Oneness) of God.

Allah says:

And We certainly sent into every nation a Messenger, (saying): ‘Worship Allah and shun Taghut (all false objects of worship).’ (An-Nahl 16:36)

God has informed us about some of the Prophets (peace be upon them) and how they faced their people. We see that all of them proceeded upon the universal way laid down by God and followed the methodology He established for all of them. Not a single one of them is at variance with it:

And We had certainly sent Noah to his people, (saying): ‘Indeed, I am to you a clear warner, that you not worship except Allah. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful Day.’ (Hud 11:25-26)

The noblest of all Prophets and the last of them, Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah (who was sent with the greatest, most complete and comprehensive message), began with what all the Prophets started their Da`wah (call) – calling to the `aqeedah (creed) of Tawheed (Oneness of God), and calling for all worship to be made purely and sincerely for God alone. Allah’s Messenger started with the principle: ‘Witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah.’

Say, (O Muhammad): ‘O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allaah to you all, (from him) to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. There is no deity except Him; He gives life and causes death.’ So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him that you may be guided. (Al-A`raf 7:158)

The verses in this regard are many, what we quote here is just one example. With regard to the Sunnah (traditions and approved actions of Prophet Muhammad), there are many clear indications that Allah’s Messenger began his call to Islam with Tawheed.

1. `Amr ibn `Abasa Sulami said: “During the times of ignorance … I heard of a man in Makkah who received revelation. So I set upon my riding beast and came to him. At that time he was in hiding, due to the oppression of his people. So I behaved in a way that enabled me to gain access to him in Makkah. I said to him: “Who are you?” He replied: “I am a Prophet.’ So I said: ‘And what is a Prophet?’ He said: ‘Allah has sent me as a Messenger.’ So I said: ‘And what is it that He has sent you with?’ He said: ‘I have been sent to order the joining of ties of relationship, to break the idols, so that Allah is worshipped Alone and nothing at all is associated in worship along with Him.” (Muslim)

2. At the time of the peace of Hudaybiyah Hiraql (Heraclius) asked Abu Sufyan some questions about Allah’s Messenger, among which he asked: “What does he (Muhammad) command you?” Abu Sufyan replied: “He says: ‘Worship Allah Alone and do not worship anything else along with Him, and abandon what your fathers say. He also orders prayers, charity, and the joining of the ties of relationship.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Consequently, the Prophets did not come to bring about the downfall of one state to replace it with another. They did not seek sovereignty, nor did they organize political parties for this reason. Rather, they came for the guidance of humankind, to save it from misguidance and shirk (polytheism), and to take them out of darkness into light.

In this regard Prophet Muhammad gave an example about himself. He said:

“The similitude of me and the message with which Allah has sent me, is like a man who came to some people and said: ‘I have seen the enemy forces with my own eyes and I am a mere warner (to you). So, save yourselves, save yourselves!’ A group of his people obeyed him and went out at night, slowly and steadily and was safe; while another group belied him and stayed in their place until the morning when the army destroyed them. Such is the similitude of those who obey me and follow what I have brought (i.e., Message) and of those who disobey me and belie the Truth which I have brought.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others)

The message of the Messengers, by the Mercy of God, revives and enlightens the believer’s soul. This enlightenment is the revelation of Allah, which leads mankind from the darkness of polytheism and ignorance to the light of truth and Islam:

Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into the light. (Al-Baqarah 2:257)

The Messenger and the Message are evidence against the disbelievers.

Allah sent His Messengers and His Books so that there can be no excuse for mankind on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an says:

(We sent) Messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against Allah after Messengers. (An-Nisaa’ 4:165)

The message of God deals with the rights of Allah on His bondsmen, the rights of man on His Creator, The Oneness of Allah and its influence on the creation, knowledge, admonition, the wisdom behind the creation, righteousness, mutual interactions, refutation of incorrect beliefs and deviations, lawful and unlawful, migration and Jihad. In totality, it is the complete code for righteous living, which results in delight, pleasure and harmony in this life and the Hereafter.

 

_________________________
Source: Islamweb.net

Soucre Link

The Four Sacred Months: What Do You Know about Them?

The Four Sacred Months: What Do You Know about Them?

From the twelve lunar months of the Islamic calendar there are four sacred, concerning them Allah says:

Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein. (At-Tawbah 9:36)

Four Months Are Sacred

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said about them:

“The division of time has turned to its original form which was current when Allah created the Heavens and the Earth. The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three are in succession: Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah, and Muharram, and (the fourth is) Rajab of (the tribe of) Mudar which comes between Jumada Thani and Sha`ban.” (Al-Bukhari)

So what characterizes these four months, and what should we do in them?

Sheikh Muhammad Salah answers in this video…

Soucre Link

How Do We Know God is One? (Part 2/2)

How Do We Know God is One? (Part 2/2)

Philosophical & Theological Perspectives

By Hamza Andreas Tzortzis                                                                                                                                  Part 1

Conceptual Differentiation

river_1What makes us appreciate difference and duality?

How do we differentiate between two people walking in the street?

The answer lies in what is called conceptual differentiation.

These concepts include space, distance, form and physical features.

Take the following diagram into consideration:

The reason you can perceive two objects is due to differences in color, size, and shape, including their placement. In other words, there is a distance between them.

In absence of these concepts could you perceive the two objects or any object at all?

You could not, because these concepts are required to perceive any number of entities.

Now since the cause of the universe is outside the universe (if the cause was part of the universe it would mean that the universe created itself, this is absurd as it would necessitate the universe to exist and not exist at the same time!), you can safely assume that there are no conceptual differentiators such as distance, shape, color and size; because these concepts only make sense within the universe. Therefore, if there are no knowable conceptual differentiators we cannot claim a multiplicity of causes, as I have explained above the impossibility of perceiving plurality or multiplicity in absence of these concepts.

Since you have no concepts to acknowledge a plurality of causes does this mean that even a single cause can’t exist?

No it doesn’t, because if there were no cause for the universe then that would mean the universe in the words of Bertrand Russell: “Is just there and that’s all”. In other words it would mean the universe is infinite, however this cannot be the case, as mentioned above, the universe began to exist. Therefore a single independent cause is rationally necessary to explain the fact that the universe began to exist and that a plurality of causes cannot be perceived due to the absence of conceptual differentiators.

Uniqueness

The cause of the universe must be unique, as the Qur’an mentions:

There is nothing like Him. (Ash-Shura 42: 11)

If the cause of the universe was not unique that would mean there are some similarities between the cause of the universe and the universe itself. This is not possible as that would place the cause of the universe within the universe (if you define the universe as the sum of all matter) and this would lead to an absurdity as it would imply that the universe created itself.

Now you may ask the question: Why can’t the cause of the universe resemble the universe? The answer is straight forward; this cause must be immaterial because it created the sum of all material – which is the universe itself – and another principle that supports this is the 1st. law of thermodynamics, it states: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed”, simply put energy (in other words matter) cannot create itself. If the cause was material then it would defy this principle as it would mean matter and energy self create. So you can conclude that the cause of the universe must be immaterial and therefore unique.

If God has announced himself to mankind there are only two possible ways to find out: externally and internally.

How does this relate to the Oneness of God?

Well if there were more than one cause for the universe that would mean they are not unique anymore. However you may still argue that there can be two immaterial causes, and I would reply: what does that mean? It would seem that you are violating Occam’s Razor and I would refer you to the first argument.

Revelation

A simpler way of providing evidence for God’s oneness is by referring to revelation. The argument here is that if God has announced himself to humanity and this revelation can be proven to be from Him, then what He mentions about himself is obviously true. The daring assumptions, from an agnostic perspective at least, are how do you know God has announced himself to mankind and in what form is this revelation?

Let’s take the last assumption first. If God has announced himself to mankind there are only two possible ways to find out: externally and internally. What I mean by “internally” here is that you can find out who God is solely by introspection and internalization, and what I mean by “externally” is that you can find out who God is via communication outside of yourself. In other words, it is instantiated in the mind-independent world. Finding out about God internally is implausible for the following reasons:

1. Human beings are different. They have, what psychologists call, “individual differences”. These individual differences include DNA, experiences, social context, intellectual and emotional capacities and gender differences amongst many more. These differences play a role in your ability to internalize via introspection or intuition, therefore the results of introspection or relying on your intuition will differ. So you can see that if these processes where solely used to find out about God there would be inevitable differences in our conception of Him. This is true from a historical point of view, since the ancient world 6000 BCE, there are records of approximately 3,700 different names and concepts for God!

2. Since the method used to conclude that God does exist is a “common sense” method, or what philosophers call “rational thought” and what Muslim theologians may call “innate thinking”, then internally trying to find out about God would lead to fallacies. This is because what can be concluded using the universe as evidence for a transcendental independent cause is that it must be eternal, unique, powerful and personal; anything else would be speculation. The Qur’an aptly mentions:

Why do you say about God of that which you have no knowledge? (Al-A`raf 7: 33)

If you try and internalize what God is, would be equivalent of a mouse trying to conceptualize and think like an elephant. It is obvious that the human being is not eternal, unique and powerful, therefore the human being could not conceptualize who God is. God would have to tell you via external revelation.

There are historical accounts that could not have been known by man at the time of revelation.

Take the following example into consideration:

You know God exists like the knocking of the door, you safely assume that something is there, but do you know who is it? You weren’t expecting anyone, so you cry out “who is it?” in order to find out, and the only way to find out is if the person behind the door tells you. So you can conclude that if God has said or announced anything it must be external to the human being.

From an Islamic perspective, this external communication is the Qur’an as it is the only text to claim to have come from God that fits the criteria for a divine text, these criteria include:

1. It must be consistent with the rational and intuitive conclusion on God. For example if a book says God is an “elephant” with 40 arms you could safely assume that this book is not from God, as God must be external to the universe.

2. It must be internally and externally consistent. In other words: if it says on page 20 that God is one and then on page 340 it says God is 3 that would be an internal inconsistency. Additionally, if the book says that the universe is only 6,000 years old then that would be an external inconsistency as reality as we know it is that the universe is older the 6,000 years.

3. It must have signposts to transcendence. In simple terms it must have evidence to show that it is from God.

In the case of the Qur’an – and this post is not the place to discuss this in any depth – cannot be explained naturalistically therefore supernatural explanations are the best explanation. Some of these signposts include:

a. The linguistic and literary inimitability

b. There are historical accounts that could not have been known by man at the time of revelation

c. There are some descriptions of natural phenomena that could not have been known by man at the time of revelation

To conclude, since the only way to know what God has announced to mankind is via external revelation; and this revelation can be proven to be the Qur’an – then what is says about God is true. In the context of this discussion the Qur’an says:

Know that your God is One. (Ibrahim 14: 52)

Conclusion

These are some of the arguments that can be used to show that God is one; however this topic – once truly understood – will have some profound effects on the human conscious. The oneness of God is not only related to the fact that He is uniquely one, rather it refers to His worship, lordship, names and attributes, something that can only be tasted by pondering on reality, contemplating on the meaning of the Qur’an and becoming a manifestation of its message.

———————

Source: This article is republished with the author’s kind permission. It first appeared at his website – http://www.hamzatzortzis.com

Hamza Andreas Tzortzis is an international public speaker on Islam, a writer, lecturer and intellectual activist. He is particularly interested in Islam, politics, western and Islamic philosophy. Hamza has debated prominent academics and intellectuals and delivers presentations across the world on various topics; ranging from ‘Does God Exist’ to ‘Can we live better lives without Religion’.

 

 

Soucre Link

My Lifetime Journey

My Lifetime Journey

Ka`bah-Makkah

Not even the hardest of hearts could be left unmoved by the grace, simplicity, and majesty of the Ka`bah, which has been on this spot since the beginning of time itself.

 

When Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him), the intimate friend of Allah, was commanded all those years ago to proclaim the pilgrimage to Makkah, he did so in faith. Standing in what was little more than a barren, inhospitable desert, he called out for men and women to come on pilgrimage to the holy Ka`bah at Allah’s command.

He was astonished at the response. From the north, south, east, and west, he heard voices calling out, “I respond to Your call, O Allah! I respond to Your call,” and people began to come from all the corners of the earth in praise of Almighty Allah.

Thousands of years later, people are still coming from every corner of the globe to worship at Allah’s command. I have just returned from performing `Umrah, the lesser pilgrimage for the first time, and I share these thoughts with my Muslim brothers and sisters to encourage their faith and that Allah’s name be glorified even more.

But what can I say? How can I describe an experience so profound and so beautiful? Shall I say that it was the most blessed experience of my life? Shall I say that Almighty Allah touched my heart and gave me a feeling of peace I had not known before?

Shall I describe the tears that flowed freely from my eyes, affirming my Muslim faith, as I walked around the holy Ka`bah with thousands of others, begging Allah’s blessings for myself and for those I love? Perhaps the best way is just to start at the beginning, and to allow Almighty Allah to use my poor words as He wants.

Preparing for any journey is, in many ways, almost as important as the journey itself. As I prepared for my journey to Makkah, my heart already began to stir at the enormity of what I was about to do.

I had read all the books and consulted all the manuals so that my `Umrah, in sha’ Allah, would be accepted. I learned the prayers in Arabic that I would need to say at different parts of the pilgrimage.

Good Muslim brothers had told me not to worry too much about all this, because it would be my heart that would speak when I reached the holy Ka`bah. I know that Almighty Allah has placed within the heart of every Muslim a deep longing to visit Makkah, to return home to where we belong, to that first house built on Earth in worship of Allah.

Some say that it was Prophet Adam (peace and blessings be upon him) who first built the Ka`bah. Others suggest it was first built by angels beneath the throne of Allah in heaven. Others still attribute the first building of the Ka`bah to Prophet Idris (peace be upon him). Whatever its origins, we know that over time this first building fell into disrepair and ruin and that by the time of Prophet Ibrahim, there was nothing left of it except a small mound of earth. Allah commanded Prophet Ibrahim and his first-born son Ismail (peace be upon them both) to rebuild the Ka`bah.

I had written all these things before and had a good knowledge of the history of the Sacred House, but now it was real to me. This time I was leaving my home in Cairo, wearing the simple white garments of Ihram.

Upon leaving, I was showered with good wishes and prayers by family and friends who so happy for me as I prepared for the journey of a lifetime. Even during the drive to the airport and the arrival at the airport itself, many Muslims showed on their faces the delight they felt at seeing a brother setting off to perform `Umrah.

What a blessed religion is ours, that brothers and sisters we don’t even know should care for us so much! Throughout the journey, I was repeating in Arabic those sweet words which Prophet Ibrahim, first heard all those years ago as follows:

“I respond to Your call, O Allah!

I respond to Your call and I am obedient to Your orders.

You have no partner.

I respond to Your call.

All the praises and the blessings are for You.

All the sovereignty is for You.

And You have no partners with You.”

As the plane took off, I said these words. As we flew across the Red Sea and landed in Jeddah, I continued to say them. As I said them, my heart filled with excitement as I traveled by car through the Makkan hills and approached the city. More tears came as I arrived in Makkah and saw the sanctuary for the first time from a distance.

But nothing can describe the feeling of entering the sacred mosque and seeing the holy Ka`bah. I was choking with tears, the mosque left me breathless and filled me with an immense joy. Not even the hardest of hearts could be left unmoved by the grace, simplicity, and majesty of the Ka`bah, which has been on this spot since the beginning of time itself.

I kept telling myself that in this very place our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) walked and prayed, as well as countless millions of other good Muslims through the centuries.

And so I performed the rituals of `Umrah, my heart beating with joy and tears running down my cheeks. For something so profound, the rituals were really very simple. They basically involved walking around the Ka`bah seven times and then running or walking seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah, in imitation of that desperate search for water made by Hagar, which culminated in the spring of Zamzam gushing from the ground. Our beloved Prophet taught us to say just one prayer as we encircle the Ka`bah as follows:

“May Our Lord grant us blessings in this life,

Blessings in the life to come,

And save us from the torment of the hell-fire.”

All of this seemed like a dream. While my lips were saying what I had learned to say, my mind was racing with thoughts and my heart was pouring out everything within it. I had come to the very center of the world in response to the call of Allah. What love He shows to us, and yet how ungrateful we are. What blessings He showers upon us each day, and yet how slow we are to respond to the call of the adhan and to utter His praises.

We can gladly spend hours sitting in front of a television set or talking idly on a mobile phone, and yet we hardly find the time to spend a few minutes in prayer, even though our life in the hereafter depends on it.

The experience of `Umrah or Hajj is like a piercing sword. It cuts through all the rubbish we surround ourselves with and it shows us our lives in their real perspective – we come from Allah and it is to Allah that we will return. The experience of `Umrah is also like being soaked in love. Our heartfelt response is one of thanks.

In Madinah

As if all this were not enough, most pilgrims usually finish their pilgrimage to Makkah by spending a few days in Madinah, the city of our beloved Prophet and the first Muslim state ever. In Madinah, the mosque was at the center of the city and Allah was at the center of every Muslim’s life.

I finished my own pilgrimage in the same way, walking the very paths trod by Allah’s Messenger and falling in prostration on the ground in the same places where he prayed. I met Muslims from almost every nation on earth and was welcomed to the city by Muslims for whom Islam is everything.

If Makkah, then, is the place of powerful emotions that shake a person to the core, Madinah is truly the city of peace. The Prophet’s Mosque is a place of calm and quiet. With its salmon-colored walls, grey and cream Moorish arches, and its floors and pillars of white, polished marble, the mosque is breathtakingly beautiful.

Although it is immense and holds thousands at a time for prayer, the Prophet’s Mosque is a place of peace. The gentle personality and the presence of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is everywhere. Madinah is such a privileged place to end one’s journey of a lifetime.

Now that I am home, the real challenge of living out my `Umrah begins. It is not difficult to pray for long periods of time and to focus all your thoughts on Islam when you are looking at the Ka`bah or are near the final resting place of Allah’s final messenger to mankind. The routine of daily life, though, with all its distractions, is less easy.

I cherish the memories of those days in Saudi Arabia in my heart, and I say al-hamdu lillah (praise be to God). I pray that Almighty Allah will give me the strength to be a good Muslim. I pray that I will always be prompt and faithful to prayer. I pray that I will now learn and recite more of the Qur’an every day.

And, after the experience of a lifetime, I pray that I will always give good examples to my Muslim brothers and sisters, and that I can show to non-Muslims how sweet and beautiful the message of Islam is. Ameen.

_________________________

Source: idristawfiq.

Soucre Link

Hajj: From Abraham to Muhammad, and In-between

Hajj: From Abraham to Muhammad, and In-between

Kabah_Makkah

Just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen.

 

Brothers in Islam! Hajj, or the Pilgrimage, was instituted by the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) to serve as the focal meeting place for all believers in the One God. Thus he made Makkah the center of the world-wide Islamic movement and installed his elder son, the Prophet Isma`il, there to continue his mission.

Idol Worship among Ibrahim’s Descendants

Only God knows exactly how long Isma`il’s children stayed on the right path. But within a few centuries of the death of Ibrahim and Isma`il people had abandoned their teachings and had gradually gone astray like all other people around them. Hundreds of idols were installed in the sacred Ka`bah, which had been built as a center for the worship of the One God.

Ironically enough, idols were made of Ibrahim and Isma`il too, whose whole lives had been spent eradicating idol-worship. The descendants of Ibrahim, who had repudiated all idols, began to worship idols like Lat, Manat, Hubal, Nasr, Yaghuth, `Uzza, Asaf, Na`i/ah and many more. They also worshipped the sun, moon, Venus, and Saturn. They also worshipped jinns, ghosts, angels and the spirits of their dead ancestors.

Superstition rose to such a level that if they did not have the family idol with them while away from home, they worshipped any stone they came across on their way. Or, if no stone was available, even a round ball made of clay with a sprinkle of goat’s milk over it served as their god.

Reverting to the same kind of priesthood which Ibrahim had fought so fiercely against in Iraq, they turned the Ka`bah into a sort of temple and installed themselves as priests there. Adopting all the tricks of priests, they began accepting gifts and offerings from pilgrims flocking from the four corners of Arabia.

In this way all the work done by Ibrahim and Isma`il was destroyed and the purpose for which they had introduced the system of Hajjwas superseded by different types of objectives.

How Corrupted Hajj Became

A Yearly Carnival

The degree to which Hajj was corrupted in that period of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) can be gauged from the fact that it degenerated into an annual carnival. For many tribes from near and far, Hajj became an important social event. Poets and clowns used it to brag and boast about the bravery, renown, dignity, strength and generosity of their tribes. They even resorted to hurling insults at one another.

The chiefs of the tribes vied with each other in flaunting their generosity. They slaughtered camel after camel with the sole purpose of extolling their name, generosity and hospitality. Singing, revelry, drinking, and adultery were part and parcel of the festivities. The thought of God scarcely occurred to anybody.

Perverse Rites

Tawaf (Circumambulation of the Ka`bah) did continue, it is true; but in what form? Men and women walked together around God’s House stark naked, saying, “We go before God just as our mothers gave birth to us”.

Worship also continued to be performed in the mosque of Ibrahim, but again, in what form? By clapping hands, by whistling and by blowing horns. The name of God was proclaimed, but with what words? They said: “Here am I, my Lord, I am present. No one is Your partner except the one who is Yours. You are its master, of whatever it possesses”.

They did make sacrifices in the name of God. But the blood of the sacrificial animals was spilt on the walls of the Ka`bah and their flesh thrown at its door in the belief that Allah needs that flesh and blood.

Sacrilege of Sacred Months

Ibrahim had declared four months of Hajj as sacred and had directed that no warfare should be waged in these months.

These people partially observed this sanctity; but if they wanted to fight during the sacred months, they simply declared Ibrahim’s ruling null and void for a particular period and added extra ‘holy months’ the following year.

Self-imposed Restrictions

Even those who were sincere towards religion were led into strange, excessive ways by their ignorance. Some people used to set out for Hajj without any provisions for the journey and lived by begging food. They considered this an act of piety, claiming that they had full trust in God and, while proceeding towards the House of God, had no need of worldly goods.

Doing business or working during the Hajj journey were generally considered unlawful. Many people gave up food and water during Hajj, and regarded this abstention as worship.

Others stopped speaking while on Hajj, which they called al-hajj al-mumit (the dumb Pilgrimage).

There were countless other customs of this type which I do not want to waste your time describing.

Restoration of Hajj

Fulfillment of Ibrahim’s Prayer

This situation lasted for about two thousand years. No prophet was born in Arabia during this long period nor did any prophet’s genuine teachings reach the people of Arabia.

Finally, however, the time arrived for granting Ibrahim’s prayer which he had made while raising the walls of the Ka`bah:

Our Lord! Do You send to them a Messenger, from among them, who shall convey unto them Your revelations, and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify and develop them. (Al-Baqarah 2:129)

The perfect man who descended from Ibrahim was Muhammad ibn `Abdullah (blessings and peace be on him).

Just as Ibrahim was born into a family of priests, so was Muhammad into a family which had been for centuries priests of the Ka`bah. Just as Ibrahim struck a blow with his own hands against the priesthood of his family, so did Muhammad finally eradicating it for good.

Again, just as Ibrahim strove to end the worship of false gods and bring people under submission to the One God, so did the Prophet Muhammad revive the same pure deen (religion) which had been introduced by Ibrahim.

After 21 years, when he had completed this work, once again, at God’s command, he declared the Ka`bah the center of all those in the world who surrendered to God alone and issued the same summons to the people to come to it for Hajj as had Ibrahim.

A duty owed to God by all men is the Pilgrimage to the House, if one is able to make his way there. And as for the disbeliever, God is All-sufficient, needing nothing from all the worlds.(Aal `Imran 3:97)

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”. 

Soucre Link

Hajj: Its Meaning and Position from the Qur’an

Hajj: Its Meaning and Position from the Qur’an

ka`bah_Makkah

The House, itself, is not to be taken as an object of worship: it is simply a place for worshipping the One.

Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): “Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer). And proclaim the Pilgrimage among men: they will come to thee on foot and (mounted) on every kind of camel, lean on account of journeys through deep and distant mountain highways; that they may witness the benefits (provided) for them, and celebrate the name of Allah, through the days appointed, over the cattle which He has provided for them (for sacrifice): then eat ye thereof and feed the distressed ones in want. Then let them complete the rites prescribed for them, perform their vows, and (again) circumambulate the Ancient House”. (Al-Hajj 22:26-29)

Perform the pilgrimage and the visit (to Makkah) for Allah. And if you are prevented, then send such gifts as can be obtained with ease, and shave not your heads until the gifts have reached their destination. And whoever among you is sick or has an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or almsgiving or offering. And if you are in safety, then whosoever contents himself with the visit for the pilgrimage (shall give) such gifts as can be had with ease. And whosoever cannot find (such gifts), then a fast of three days while on the pilgrimage, and of seven when you have returned; that is, ten in all. That is for him whoso folk are not present at the inviolable place of worship. Observe your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is severe in punishment.

The pilgrimage is (in) the well-known months, and whoever is minded to perform the pilgrimage therein (let him remember that) there is (to be) no lewdness nor abuse nor angry conversation on the pilgrimage. And whatsoever good you do Allah knows it. So make provision for yourselves (Hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil. Therefore keep your duty unto Me, O men of understanding.

It is no sin for you that you seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading). But, when you press on in the multitude from `Arafat, remember Allah by the sacred monument. Remember Him as He hath guided you, although before you were of those astray.

Then hasten onward from the place whence the multitude hastens onward, and ask forgiveness of Allah. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And when you have completed your devotions, then remember Allah as you remember your fathers or with a more lively remembrance. But of mankind is he who says: “Our Lord! Give unto us in the world,” and he has no portion in the Hereafter.

Remember Allah through the appointed days. Then whoso hastens (his departure) by two days, it is no sin for him, and whoso delays, it is no sin for him; that is for him who wards off (evil). Be careful of your duty to Allah, and know that unto Him ye will be gathered. (Al-Baqarah 2:203)

Pilgrimage, an important religious duty in Islam, is described at length in the Qur’an, as is evident from the two passages quoted above. Some of the points addressed include: the House of Allah (the Ka`bah) and its credentials, how the Prophet Abraham (peace and blessings be upon him) proclaimed Pilgrimage and the response to it down the ages, the benefits of pilgrimage, and how it represents the essence of all other acts of devotional worship in Islam, especially the spirit of piety and surrender to Allah pervading every aspect of pilgrimage.

The Qur’anic passage opens with placing pilgrimage in its historical context. At Allah’s directive and at the site identified by Him, the Prophet Abraham constructed the Ka`bah, the House of Allah, and hence its special, hallowed status.

Nonetheless, this account is immediately followed by a condemnation of polytheism in any form. It appears that the above note is intended to clarify beyond any shadow of doubt that the Ka`bah owes its exalted position only in view of its close association with Allah.

The structure of the Ka‘bah itself has no sanctity of its own. It is Allah the One True God, not the Ka`bah, which is to be worshipped. As for keeping it clean and pure, the directive has both a literal and a figurative sense, clear of all material and spiritual filth – for all true worshippers of the One Universal God.

Furthermore, the House, itself, is not to be taken as an object of worship: it is simply a place for worshipping the One.

After the Prophet Abraham had constructed the Ka`bah and ensured that only the One True God would be worshipped there, Allah directed him to issue a general proclamation, asking people to visit the Ka`bah.

In his “The Glorious Qur’anDaryabadi, a famous Indian Muslim writer and exegete of the Qur’an, pertinently draws attention to the fact that this proclamation was made thousands of years ago, before the era of the press, the post, the telegraph, the wireless, the radio, television and other such paraphernalia of modern publicity and propaganda that mankind has been responding to during all these centuries, by performing the pilgrimage in their tens and hundreds of thousands every year!

Amid the various acts of worship prescribed in Islam, Hajj stands out above others in many respects. That the performance of Hajj provides an opportunity to pilgrims “to witness the benefits to them” is a special feature of Hajj. The above point is made in Allah’s directive, asking mankind to perform Hajj:

And proclaim unto mankind the pilgrimage. They will come unto you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine, that they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He has bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate. (Al-Hajj 22:27, 28)

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

Soucre Link

Hajj: For Every Act There Is a Benefit

Hajj: For Every Act There Is a Benefit

 

Tawaf_Makkah

The sense of liberation and purgation is enhanced by the immediate environment and constant mention of Allah which form part of Hajj.

The benefits accruing to pilgrims are numerous and varied; religious, financial, social, political and intellectual. Down the millennia pilgrims have witnessed these benefits. This truth comes out at its sharpest in their numerous narratives and travelogues.

There is hardly a pilgrim who returns home without experiencing some of these benefits. It is commonplace that each act of worship has its own benefits. However, the benefits gained from Hajj are, relatively speaking, much more palpable and pronounced, observable to both pilgrims and non-pilgrims.

Winning Allah’s pleasure is, of course, its greatest benefit, which cannot be matched by any other gain imaginable. Accordingly, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) clarified that on accomplishing Hajj a pilgrim is akin to a new-born baby in being pure and sinless.

Amazingly enough, the moment one intends to perform Hajj, a sea change sets in one’s mindset, psychological make-up; in sum, on one’s entire outlook on life and benefits start pouring in immediately. For Hajj represents, so to speak, the pervading spirit of all the prescribed acts of worship in Islam.

The constant mention and remembrance of Allah and chanting certain formulae during Hajj are the unmistakable hallmarks of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) which permeate Hajj. This mention of Allah at appointed times during the course of Hajj also captures the spirit of salah, which is incorporated into Hajj.

A set of certain restrictions, forbidding pilgrims the use of otherwise perfectly lawful and wholesome things during the state of ihram (consecration), reminds one readily of the prohibitions placed on one during the month-long fasting during Ramadan.

Taken in this sense, Hajj incorporates features which are special to fasting. The journey undertaken to perform Hajj, often entailing inconvenience and suffering, re-enacts the essential component of the Hijrah (migrating in the cause of Allah). For in both of these acts of worship one willingly undergoes discomfort and emotional, material and monetary loss for the sake of Allah.

By the same token, some features specific to Jihad (striving in Allah’s cause) also characterize Hajj as the pilgrim makes sacrifices related to both his body and belongings. It goes without saying that to perform Hajj the pilgrim incurs expenses. This reinforces the spirit underlying zakah that man is only a trustee over the material resources endowed on him by Allah and that he should spend in consonance with Allah’s directives. Animal sacrifice, another prescribed act of worship in Islam, happens to be one of the major rites of Hajj itself.

Viewed thus, Hajj displays the quintessence of all the main acts of worship in Islam; prayer, fasting, zakah, hijrah, jihad and dhikr. One may therefore, maintain that this single act of worship, Hajj, renews in one the spirit pervading several acts of worship which is a benefit beyond all measure.

Furthermore, each rite of Hajj is characterized by many benefits which have both functional and catalytic value. The donning of ihram makes one realize paradoxically both the importance and worthlessness of clothes, of which one is habitual since birth. Clothes invest one with identity; individual, social and ethnic. Cloth is doubtless one of Allah’s major bounties bestowed on man.

At Allah’s command however, one stops using one’s traditional clothes during the state of ihram. This amounts, in a sense, to removing an artificial barrier to the unity of mankind. Pilgrims dressed in frugal ihram display the essential sameness of mankind, cutting across distinctions of social class, financial status and ethnic origin.

The strong individuality exhibited, rather reinforced by one’s preferential clothes, is instantly replaced by the awe-inspiring unity of mankind, with each one of the millions of pilgrims, assembled every year during the Hajj period, represented only as an obedient servant of Allah. Ihram thus instructs one in the ideal of mankind’s unity, which has assumed greater importance and relevance in today’s conflict-riven and disunited world.

More importantly, the donning of ihram places certain restrictions on one, ranging from refraining from sexual relations with one’s wife to hunting or wearing perfume, etc. This further infuses and strengthens a spirit of self-restraint. A pilgrim in ihram is not allowed to kill even an insect. He is not to indulge in fighting, obscenity or evil. Avoiding aggression and controlling animal instincts are thus the benefits arising out of donning ihram.

Talbiyah (chanting during Hajj) is of immense benefit for the pilgrim. At one level, it facilitates the bonding between man and Allah, between the creature and the Creator. At another, it helps one discover one’s true self – of wholesale surrender to the Supreme Lord.

One’s sense of proximity with Allah is further heightened by the sacred locale of Hajj sites. The House of Allah and other structures and places with thousands of years of rich history and their association with such august figures as Allah’s Messengers, from the Prophets Abraham and Muhammad (peace be upon them) to the latter’s Companions, make one inhale and imbibe the sense of the sacred and sublimate one spiritually and emotionally.

At the same time, this grand setting humbles one, making one all the more conscious of one’s failings and lapses in being true and faithful to one’s covenant with one’s Lord. Psychologically and morally it brings such benefits which a pilgrim treasures throughout his life.

The talbiyah and Hajj-setting help a pilgrim release and ennoble his feelings, especially towards his Creator and Lord. The sense of liberation and purgation is enhanced by the immediate environment and constant mention of Allah which form part of Hajj.

The visit to Haram (the Sacred Mosque) further heightens the sense of the hallowed and the sacred. It is innate in human nature to exteriorize, objectify and perceive the sacred with sense perception.

In Islam the sacred is abstract and rightly belongs to the domain of al-ghayb (the unseen which is beyond the realm of human sense perception). This natural desire on man’s part is, nonetheless gratified, to a certain degree, on seeing and going round the House of Allah, a concrete object yet enjoying such a close association with the sacred and the divine. The visit thus has a sublimating and exhilarating effect on the pilgrim’s spirit. Needless to add, this benefit is not obtainable anywhere else.

Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) is on record as saying that a prayer offered within the precincts of the Sacred Mosque is equivalent to one thousand prayers offered in any other mosque. This benefit of Hajj is too great to be disregarded by any Muslim.

Tawaf (circumambulation of the Ka`bah) broadens and reinforces one’s spiritual benefits. This rite draws the pilgrim into the proximity of the sanctum sanctorum. Standing near the Ka`bah, praying at the spot on which the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) had once stood, visiting the Zamzam well and drinking its water, and performing Sa`i between Safa and Marwah all being part of the rites of Hajj, help the pilgrim re-enact sacred history.

This benefit, once again, is special to Hajj. While regarding himself as part of the grand tradition, the pilgrim gains firm religious conviction. In other words, revivification of faith is one of the great benefits of Hajj.

_________________________

The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

Soucre Link

Sunnah Acts in Hajj

Sunnah Acts in Hajj

By Dr. Ali Gomaa

Tawaf_Makkah

After a pilgrim completes Tawaf Al-Ifadah at Makkah, he returns to Mina on Yawm An-Nahr where it is recommended for him to stay until he finishes stoning on the last day of Tashriq.

In efforts to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, our exemplar; his sayings and deeds, it is worth to note and follow some particular acts he (peace be upon him) performed during Hajj.

So what are these sunnahs (the specific Prophetic acts of worship) related to Hajj?

1 & 2: Bathing and Using Perfume before Assuming Ihram

Before assuming ihram, it is recommended for a person who intends to perform Hajj or `Umrah to pare his nails, trim his moustache, comb his hair, and shave his armpits and pubic hair and the like.

When a pilgrim wishes to enter ihram, it is recommended (even for a woman in a state of menstruation or postnatal bleeding) to bathe, intending to bathe for ihram. The period between bathing and assuming ihram must be brief and its duration is determined by convention; at present it is 12 hours.

3- The Talbiyah

The Talbiyah (saying labbayka Allahumma labbayk) is a sunnah without which a pilgrim’s hajj or `Umrah is still valid and omitting it does not entail any consequences. However, a pilgrim misses a great virtue by neglecting it.

4- Tawaf Al-Qudum

It is desirable to perform Tawaf Al-Qudum for anyone who enters Makkah for Hajj, `Umrah or any other reason, for someone who has assumed ihram from al-hill (non-sacred place i.e. any place outside the Makkan Precinct) or even for someone who is not in a state of ihram.

It is likewise recommended for a pilgrim who does not fear missing standing at `Arafat due to time constraints, as for instance one who enters Mecca some time before dawn of Yawm An-Nahr (Day of Sacrifice) or a pilgrim who does not perform `Umrah before Hajj while in Al-Haram (Sacred Sanctuary). It is recommended for such a person who has performed `Umrah before Hajj and then exited Al-Haram to repeat Tawaf Al-Qudum.

5- Spending the Eve of `Arafat at Mina

After arriving at Mina on the afternoon of the Day of Tarwiyah (8th of Dhul-Hijjah), a pilgrim is to spend the rest of the day there. It is recommended that he spend the eve of 9th of Dhul-Hijjah there until he prays Fajr. He is then to leave Mina on the 9th  of Dhul-Hijjah after sunrise and proceed to `Arafat.

6- Spending the Night at Muzdalifah

After standing at `Arafat in the recommended manner until sunset, he is to proceed to Muzdalifah. It is recommended for him to stay there for at least the time it takes him to deposit his luggage and then join the Maghreb and `Isha’ Prayers at the time of `Isha’.

It is recommended for him to have something to eat and drink and spend the eve of 10th of Dhul-Hijjah there. It is likewise recommended that he pick seven pebbles from Muzdalifah to stone Jamrat Al-`Aqabah, also called Al-Jamrah Al-Kubra (the last and largest stone pillar) after he leaves for Mina.

7- Supplicating at Al-Mash`ar Al-Haram

It is recommended for a pilgrim to spend the rest of the night of 10th of Dhul-Hijjah at Muzdalifah and then leave for Al-Mash`ar Al-Haram after Fajr Prayer to make supplications and invocations until the day lightens considerably.

8- Spending the Nights of the Days of Tashriq at Mina

After a pilgrim completes Tawaf Al-Ifadah at Makkah, he returns to Mina on Yawm An-Nahr where it is recommended for him to stay until he finishes stoning on the last day of Tashriq (13th of Dhul-Hijjah).

It is well noted that Tawaf Al-Ifadah, which is also called Tawaf Az-Ziyarah (Tawaf of visiting), takes place after the standing in `Arafat, on the day of Al-Adha or after it. It is one of the pillars or essential parts of the Hajj.

If he is in a hurry to leave, he spends two nights at Mina and then goes to Mecca before sunset of the second day of Tashriq (12th Dhul-Hijjah). If he is not in a hurry, it is recommended that he spends three nights at Mina.

The opinion stating that spending the days of Tashriq at Mina is a sunnah, is the one maintained by Hanafi scholars and is likewise the opinion implemented for fatwa.

_________________________

Source: ali-gomaa.

Soucre Link