Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

By Truth Seeker Staff

Staying Healthy

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise.

Tips for Staying Healthy While Observing Fasting

During Ramadan, practicing Muslims change their eating habits dramatically.

Questioned by Relaxnews, nutritionist Charlotte Debeugny provided her recommendations to religious fasters looking to make the most out of this festive time of year.

Pack in fibre and protein at Suhoor

Suhoor and Iftar, the two daily meals during Ramadan, are taken before dawn and after dusk, respectively. Suhoor is crucial, as it is the faster’s last meal before facing the day. So it is important to make sure this pre-dawn meal contains protein (found in eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, etc.) and fibre (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc.), both of which help stave off hunger over a long period.

Avoid overeating after sundown

After a day of deprivation, there is a strong temptation to overindulge at Iftar. To curb the pangs of hunger before reaching for calorie-rich foods, try having a bowl of cold soup or a healthy salad. The evening meal should also include protein, whole grains, and vegetables.

Especially during Ramadan, it is important to avoid empty calories and junk food, to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day, and to ensure that each meal includes healthy portions of protein and dairy products.

Eat almonds and dates instead of rich desserts

While Ramadan is a festive time of year, it has the potential to negatively impact one’s health. Eating at night rather than during the day affects the body’s metabolism, thus increasing the risk of weight gain. Fasting can also lead to cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat, which can also impact your waistline. Charlotte Debeugny recommends eating a few dates or almonds instead of the extremely calorie-rich pastries served during Ramadan, such as baklava or halva.

Avoid the sun and stay hydrated

To stay in shape during a fast, it is also advisable to stay out of the sun, spend most of the day in cool places and avoid strenuous exercise. Eating fruit before sunrise is a good idea, as the water it contains helps to hydrate the body during the day. Be careful not to drink too much water at once. Coffee and tea are to be avoided, as they can actually lead to increased thirst and dehydration. For additional energy, try drinking smoothies or fruit juice diluted with water.

Adapt fasting to your physical condition

Before starting a fast, it is necessary to talk to a doctor, particularly for seniors, diabetics taking medication to control their insulin levels, pregnant women and pre-adolescent children. Those with compromised health who still wish to fast for Ramadan should consult their doctor to develop a fasting plan adapted to their condition. At the first symptom of failing health, it is important to stop fasting.

 

Note from the Editor:

Along with having healthy food while we are fasting during the month of Ramadan, we should not forget the core essence of the ritual of fasting in Islam, namely to obtain Taqwa (piety) and fear of Allah, the Creator of all and everything. Allah the Almighty says in the Ever-Glorious Qur’an what means,

“O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God. [Fasting] during a certain number of days. But whoever of you is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days; and [in such cases] it is incumbent upon those who can afford it to make sacrifice by feeding a needy person. And whoever does more good than he is bound to do does good unto himself thereby; for to fast is to do good unto yourselves – if you but knew it. It was the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was [first] bestowed from on high as a guidance unto man and a self-evident proof of that guidance, and as the standard by which to discern the true from the false. Hence, whoever of you lives to see this month shall fast throughout it; but he that is ill, or on a journey, [shall fast instead for the same] number of other days. God wills that you shall have ease, and does not will you to suffer hardship; but [He desires] that you complete the number [of days required], and that you extol God for His having guided you aright, and that you render your thanks [unto Him].” (Al-Baqarah 2: 183-185)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from AFP Relaxnews: http://malaysiandigest.com

 

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Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

Scientists: Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

By Truth Seeker Staff

Fights Cancer

Fasting may help to combat cancer and boost the effectiveness of treatment

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration & Fights Cancer

A number of ancient health practices are proving to be effective in multiple ways. We recently posted an article about meditation, and how

neuroscience can now explain what happens to the brain when we meditate. Now, scientists have discovered the first evidence of a natural intervention triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an organ or system. The study was published in the June 5 issue of Cell Stem Cell by researchers from the University of Southern California. The research shows that cycles of prolonged fasting protect against immune system damage and induce immune system regeneration. They concluded that fasting shifts stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal.

Human clinical trials were conducted using patients who were receiving chemotherapy. For long periods of time, patients did not eat which significantly lowered their white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles “flipped a regenerative switch, changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems.”

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the heatopoietic system. When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. ” – Valter Longo, corresponding author.

Again, because fasting significantly lowers white blood cell counts, this triggers stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. More importantly, it reduces the PKA enzyme, which has been linked to aging, tumor progression and cancer.(1) It’s also noteworthy to mention that fasting protected against toxicity in a pilot clinical trial where patients fasted for 72 hours prior to chemotherapy.

“Chemotherapy causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy.” Co-Author Tanya Dorff

Fasting is a tradition that’s been incorporated into many ancient cultures, from Vedic to Buddhist and more, fasting should not be confused with starvation. It’s the process of restraining and control from the sensorial experience of eating and at the same time making sure you are doing it correctly. When I fast, I usually do water fasts and I have been doing them for almost eight years now and I always feel great and full of energy after doing so.

More Research

1. Fasting helps protect against brain disease:

Researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore have found evidence that fasting for one or two days a week can prevent the effects

Fights Cancer

Scientists found tumour cells responded differently to the stress of fasting compared to normal cells

of Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease. Research also found that cutting the daily intake to 500 calories a day for two days out of the seven can show clear beneficial effects for the brain.

2. Fasting cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes:

Regularly going a day without food reduces your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Studies show that fasting releases a significant surge in human growth hormone, which is associated with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat. Shedding fat is known to cut the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors are even starting to consider fasting as a treatment.

3. Fasting effectively treats cancer in human cells:

A study from the scientific journal of aging found that cancer patients who included fasting into their therapy perceived fewer side effects from chemotherapy. All tests conducted so far show that fasting improves survival, slow tumor growth and limit the spread of tumors. The National Institute on Aging has also studied one type of breast cancer in detail to further understand the effects of fasting on cancer. As a result of fasting, the cancer cells tried to make new proteins and took other steps to keep growing and dividing. As a result of these steps, which in turn led to a number of other steps, damaging free radical molecules were created which broke down the cancer cells own DNA and caused their destruction! It’s cellular suicide, the cancer cell is trying to replace all of the stuff missing in the bloodstream that it needs to survive after a period of fasting, but can’t. In turn, it tries to create them and this leads to its own destruction

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Read More:

More Than 1 Billion People Stopped Eating and Drinking: Discover Why

An Atheist Finds Islam Through Fasting Ramadan

 

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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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The Prophet On Charity and Its Virtues

The Prophet On Charity and Its Virtues

By Editorial Staff

Charity is one of the best deeds a Muslim can do. Giving charity, we are actually giving back to Allah what He has gifted us, is a practical way of showing gratitude to Allah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.”

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loves not creatures ungrateful and wicked. (Al-Baqarah 2:276)

Narrated Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr that she had gone to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said, “Do not shut your money bag; otherwise Allah too will withhold His blessings from you. Spend (in Allah’s Cause) as much as you can afford.“ (Al-Bukhari)

Several hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) indicate the virtues, importance and rewards of spending in the way of Allah.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Save yourself from Hell-fire even by giving half a date-fruit in charity.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Ibn Mas`ud: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying:

“There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to the others.” (Al-Bukhari)

Virtues of Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.’” (Al-Bukhari)

Allah says:

And the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah’s pleasure, and for the strengthening of their souls, is as the likeness of a garden on a height. The rainstorm smites it and it brings forth its fruit twofold. And if the rainstorm smite it not, then the shower. Allah is Seer of what you do. (Al-Baqarah 2:265)

A Way to Paradise

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Who among you is fasting today?” Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “I am.” He said: “Who among you has attended a funeral today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has fed a poor person today?’ Abu Bakr said: “I have.” He said: “Who among you has visited a sick person today?” Abu Bakr said: “I have.” The Messenger of Allah said: “These (traits) are not combined in a person but he will enter Paradise.” (Muslim)

Narrated Abu Hurairah that a Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, “Tell me of such a deed that will make me enter Paradise, if I do it.” The Prophet said, “Worship Allah, and worship none along with Him, offer the (five) prescribed compulsory prayers perfectly, pay the compulsory Zakah, and fast the month of Ramadan.” The Bedouin said, “By Him, in Whose Hands my life is, I will not do more than this.” When he (the Bedouin) left, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever likes to see a man of Paradise, then he may look at this man.” (Al-Bukhari)

Charitable People Will Be under Allah’s Shade on the Day of Judgment

Narrated Abu Hurayiah:

The Prophet said, “Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are: (1) a just ruler; (2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood), (3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque); (4) two persons who love each other only for Allah’s sake and they meet and part in Allah’s cause only; (5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah; (6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity). (7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears.” (Al-Bukhari)

The Best Charity

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Which charity is the most superior in reward?” He replied, “The charity which you practice while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.’ And it has already belonged to such and such (as it is too late).” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The best charity is that which is practiced by a wealthy person. And start giving first to your dependents.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas narrated that the Prophet was asked which fast was most virtuous after Ramadan? He said: “Sha`ban in honor of Ramadan” He said: “Which charity is best?” He said: “Charity in Ramadan.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Before It’s Too Late

Narrated Harithah ibn Wahab: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying,

“O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, “If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but today I am not in need of it.” (Al-Bukhari)

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The Hour (Day of Judgment) will not be established till your wealth increases so much so that one will be worried, for no one will accept his Zakah and the person to whom he will give it will reply, ‘I am not in need of it.’” (Al-Bukhari)

The Longest Hands

Narrated `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her):

Some of the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him, “Who amongst us will be the first to follow you (i.e. die after you)?” He said, “Whoever has the longest hand.” So they started measuring their hands with a stick and Sauda’s hand turned out to be the longest. (When Zainab bint Jahsh died first of all in the caliphate of `Umar), we came to know that the long hand was a symbol of practicing charity, so she was the first to follow the Prophet and she used to love to practice charity. (Sauda died later in the caliphate of Mu`awiyah).

Only the Halal

No charity is accepted from what is grabbed from an illegal way.

Narrated Abu Hurairah that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:

“If one give in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly earned money and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money –Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much as that it becomes as big as a mountain. (Al-Bukhari)

To Relatives

It was narrated from Salman bin `Amir that the Prophet said:

“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” (An-Nasa’i)

Narrated Zainab (the daughter of Um Salamah): My mother said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Shall I receive a reward if I spend for the sustenance of Abu Salama’s offspring, and in fact they are also my sons?” The Prophet replied, “Spend on them and you will get a reward for what you spend on them.” (Al-Bukhari)

Good Deeds are Charity

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Prophet! If someone has nothing to give, what will he do?” He said, “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked, “If he cannot find even that?” He replied, “He should help the needy who appeal for help.” Then the people asked, “If he cannot do that?” He replied, “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds and this will be regarded as charitable deeds.” (Al-Bukhari)

Abu Dharr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said :

“Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, commanding good and forbidding evil is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man with bad sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Abu Hurairah reported that Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

“On every joint of man, there is charity, on every day when the sun rises: doing justice between two men is charity, and assisting a man to ride an animal or to load his luggage on it is charity; and a good word is charity, every step which one takes towards (the mosque for) Salah is charity, and removing harmful things from the way is charity”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Even Voluntary Prayers

Even the Duha (fore-noon) Prayer is a charity. It is recommended to pray Duha, the least of which is two rak`ah, the best of which is eight, and the average of which is four or six, and encouragement to do so regularly

Abu Dharr reported Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) as saying:

“In the morning charity is due from every bone in the body of every one of you. Every utterance of Allah’s glorification is an act of charity. Every utterance of praise of Him is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Oneness is an act of charity, every utterance of profession of His Greatness is an act of charity, enjoining good is an act of charity, forbidding what is disreputable is an act of charity, and two rak`ahs which one prays in the forenoon will suffice.” (Muslim)

Abu al-Aswad al-Dailani said:

While we were present with Abu Dharr, he said: In the morning, alms are due for him, ever fast is alms, every pilgrimage is alms, every utterance of “Glory to be Allah” is alms, every utterance of “Allah is most great” is alms, every utterance of “Praise be to Allah” is alms. The Messenger of Allah  recounted all such good works. He then said: Two rak’ahs which one prays in the Duha serve instead of that. (Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al-Albani)

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Was Ramadan the Final Stop?

Was Ramadan the Final Stop?

By Truth Seeker Staff

ramadan

Whoever witnesses this month without gaining any of its rewards is indeed poor, and nothing cripples him other than negligence, laziness, procrastination, and false hopes.

Ramadan is a level playing field wherein people compete with each other in good deeds and benevolence. During this blessed month, souls are trained in virtue and accustomed to dignity, they learn to disdain vices, sins and acquire all good attributes.

Whoever witnesses this month without gaining any of its rewards is indeed poor, and nothing cripples him other than negligence, laziness, procrastination, and false hopes.

However, what is appalling is to see some of those who were guided to do good deeds and take provisions from virtues during this month hastily destroying what they had built, and replacing good with evil. This is a gross mistake and shameful act in the true sense of the word and no remorse or apology will revoke it when you stand in front of your One Lord.

Bishr (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked about people who only become diligent during the month of Ramadan and he said, “They are abominable people because they only know Allah the Almighty during the month of Ramadan. The truly righteous people are those who worship Allah the Almighty diligently throughout the whole year.”

Ash-Shibli (may Allah have mercy upon him) was asked, “Which is better: Sha‘ban or Rajab?” His answer was, “Be a worshipper of Allah the Almighty rather than a worshipper of Sha‘ban.”

‘A’ishah may Allah be pleased with her was asked, ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) choose some special days (for fasting)?’ She replied, ‘No, but he used to be regular (constant) (in his service of worshipping).’ The Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) also never performed more than eleven Rak`ahs (units of prayer) whether in Ramadan or at any other time of the year.

We sincerely invite such people out of fear for them to reconsider their lifestyle and to review themselves and think about their condition before it is too late. We advise them not to allow appearances, their strength, health and youth to deceive them. That is because all of this is nothing but a mirage that one may see as water, but once he reaches it, he finds nothing. Health will be followed by sickness, youth will be followed by old age, and strength will eventually turn into a weakness.

So, wake up and pay attention! Life is short even if it seems long, and happiness will end no matter how long it lasts.

Such people should know that perseverance and adherence to the right path as well as obedience to Allah the Almighty is one of the greatest signs of acceptance of one’s good deeds. Allah the Almighty says (what means): {And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (death).} [Al-Hijr 15:99]

Consequently, the souls should remain adherent to the right and guided path just as they were during the month of Ramadan. Guidance is not confined to certain times and acts of worship, and obedience to Allah the Almighty is not limited to the month of Ramadan.

Al-Hasan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, “Allah has not set an end to the believer’s work other than death.” Then he recited: {And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty ‎‎(death).} [Al-Hijr 15:99] ‎

Indeed, Ramadan has ended but you still have several renewed seasons for worship. The five daily prayers are among the highest and best good deeds and prayer is the first thing about which one would be asked on the Day of Judgment when he stands in front of Allah the Almighty.

If the fast of Ramadan has ended, then you have the voluntary fasts and occasions such as the six days of Shawwal, Mondays and Thursdays, the white days, the tenth day of Muharram, the Day of ‘Arafah, and so on.

If the night prayer of Ramadan has ended, you should know that the night prayer can be offered every night: {They used to sleep but little of the night‎} [Adh-Dhariyat 51:17]

If the time of Zakat Al-Fitr has ended, then there is the obligatory Zakah in addition to the countless ways of giving voluntary charity.

Dear Muslim brother, you should know that one of the attributes of the slaves of Allah the Almighty is that they perform their good deeds constantly, as Allah the Almighty Says (what means): {Those who are constant in their prayer} [Al-Ma`arij 70:23], {And they who carefully maintain their prayers} [Al-Mu’minun 23:9]

If you aspire to know how to save yourself from this trap and how to perform good deeds regularly, you have to do the following:

1- You must be sincerely and strongly determined to do good deeds constantly under all circumstances and conditions. This requires keeping away from weakness and laziness. That is why the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) used to seek refuge with Allah the Almighty from inability and laziness, given their dire consequences. Hence, you should seek the help of Allah the Almighty and move ahead.

2- Moderation is very important, and you should never overburden yourself, as the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Do such deeds as you can do easily, as Allah will not get tired (of giving rewards) until you get bored and tired (of performing religious deeds).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

You should remember that there are blessings in perseverance. For example, whoever reads a Juz’ (portion) of the  Qur’an every day will read the whole  Qur’an in one month, and whoever observes fast for three days every month will be rewarded as if he had observed fast throughout the whole year. Likewise, whoever observes twelve voluntary Rak`ahs every day, Allah the Almighty will build a house for him in Paradise, and so on.

3- You should know that it is unacceptable for whoever observes a good deed to abandon it. It was narrated that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn Al-‘Aas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) said to me: ‘O ‘Abdullah! Do not be like so-and-so; he used to get up at night (for voluntary prayer) but abandoned it later.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

4- Dear brother, remember what our righteous predecessors used to do. ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that whenever our beloved Prophet Muhammad (may Allah exalt his mention) missed the night prayer because of illness or sleep, he would pray twelve Rak`ahs the next day. [Muslim]

The Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) also once missed I`tikaf (staying in seclusion) and he made up for it in Shawwal. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that the Messenger of Allah (may Allah exalt his mention) said to Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him): “‘O Bilal, tell me about the most hopeful act (i.e., one which you deem the most rewarding with Allah) you have done since you accepted Islam because I heard the sound of the steps of your shoes in front of me in Paradise.’ Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘I do not consider any act more hopeful than that whenever I make ablution (or take a bath) in any hour of the night or day, I would immediately perform prayer for as long as was destined for me to pray.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

However, the most amazing thing is what ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, used to do in response to the advice of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) when he once visited him and found him sleeping with his wife Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) (daughter of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention)). ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The Prophet placed his leg between me and Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) and taught us what to say when we go to bed, saying: ‘When you go to your bed recite thirty-three times Subhanallah (Glory be to Allah), thirty-three times Alhamdulillah (All praise is for Allah), and thirty-four times Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is The Greatest).’ ‘Ali added ‘By Allah, I never left this practice for the rest of my life.’ A man asked him, ‘Even on the night of the Battle of Siffeen?’ He said, ‘Yes, I observed this even on the night of Siffeen.’” [Al-Hakim: Saheeh]

If you contemplate over this narration, you will be amazed at the keenness and persistence on doing good deeds even at times of war and bloodshed. None of these distracted him from implementing the advice of the Prophet (may Allah exalt his mention) regarding what he should say upon going to bed. Such stories and narrations should make you persist in doing good deeds and attempting to imitate the righteous predecessors and following their path.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamweb.net.

 

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The Secret of the Night of Power

The Secret of the Night of Power

By Muhammad Zuhri

the Night of PowerThe Secret of the Night of Power

As creatures aware of our own existence, we human beings have a direct responsibility for our survival on earth. For this reason, each individual needs to know where to obtain whatever is necessary to ensure this survival. The name of the process of becoming acquainted with the environment containing the natural resources we need is reading, and in order to survive, even the animals do it. When hungry or thirsty they neither eat rocks nor drink sand. This shows that reading requires no verbal indications from the Lord of the Worlds, for early on He revealed the text implicitly in the laws of nature which apply to the ‘dabbah’, or corporeal living creatures.

The Revelation “Read!”

The revelation “Read in the name of your Lord” (Al-`Alaq 96:1) was sent down only to human beings, in as much as human beings are the only creatures capable of acting as subjects in a personal universe. Only human beings can distance ourselves from ourselves and objectify ourselves properly in terms of whatever pattern of truth we happen to live by. And by doing this a human being can obtain still another delight-the pleasure of having an existence, a pleasure far higher than that which comes from exploiting any kind of means, and a pleasure all the more lasting for the way it takes the form of an existential value.

When human beings fail to discover themselves in values, they suffer shame, a feeling animals never experience, proving that this dimension was never meant for them.

Shame. That is what the Prophet put forward as a phenomenon revealing that faith exists within the self. It is a means through which the Lord of the Worlds is willing to open the possibility of dialog with His creatures.

So, then, what exactly is shame? Why does its presence reveal the presence of faith? And what is faith? How is it able to bridge the absoluteness of God and the relativity of the human world?

Shame and Faith

Shame is a feeling that arises in the deepest human feelings when an individual finds himself in a crisis of values at a time when his consciousness is still oriented in that direction.

Allah’s Messenger identified it with faith because its presence in the self presupposes the existence of a properly functioning mind oriented toward the future. That kind of mind will never despair in the face of disappointing realities, no matter how bitter they may be.

Surely none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelievers” (Yusuf 12:87).

As for the word “faith,” it implies that a person is correctly oriented to the future or, in other words, that he has the right goal, which is none other than Allah Himself, the Most Holy and Most High. So it is clear that the qiblat (the direction in which the worshiper prays) of shame is the same as that of faith. That is the way it is when a person’s conscious awareness has the right purpose, even though in reality it may be no more than a potentiality or a possibility awaiting an opportunity for self-actualization. Even so, it is desirable and will have a positive influence.

The Throne of Lordship

In verse 7 of Quranic Surah XI, “Hud,” there are three clauses that together make up a sentence explaining this matter:

“And He it is Who created the heavens and the earth in six days and His dominion (extends) on the water that He might manifest to you which of you is best in action.”

The first two parts enable us to understand that when the Lord of the Worlds deals with the physical realm of the heavens and earth, His Throne of Lordship is above the water, with its hydrogen atoms. This is why our orientation toward Him in this realm has resulted in the discovery of a devastating power capable of destroying the physical universe. The human consciousness able to penetrate into that dimension is called the Hisness of God. It is a state similar to that of Moses when he was given the divine gift of his miracle-working rod.

Once we connect the first two clauses with the third, we receive the indication that His Throne of Lordship in the spiritual realm is located over the believer’s integrative heart, or ‘qalb’, the heart resembling the water that always flows downward in achieving its existential wholeness. This is why, as explained in a divine tradition (hadith qudsi) abusing or harming a true believer is the same as declaring war against God. If our awareness becomes able to enter this dimension, we shall have become true believers (mu’min), or whole human beings.

The Descent of the Qur’an

The foregoing makes it understandable that the Descent of the Qur’an was the descent of Allah’s Throne of Lordship upon the heart of the Prophet Muhammad in order to make it possible for him to carry out God’s management on the face of the earth.

This was something that had to happen because the human race needs correct guidance enabling God’s great idea to be made a reality: ‘Baldatun thoyyibatun wa robbun ghafur’ (a beautiful and prosperous land whose people have been forgiven by Allah). If this fails to happen, this world, instead of a place filled with Allah’s mercy, must instead be only a place filled with vicious struggle for scarce facilities ending in mass destruction as a result of the stupidity and abuses of this world’s own inhabitants, of those on whom wrath has been brought down (‘dlollun’) and those who have gone astray (‘maghdlub’).

The Descent of the Throne of Allah’s Lordship upon the hearts of His elected servants is the choice made by the Lord of the Worlds instead of descending in person to this created world of His. That is why he created the Barzakh (isthmus) between Allah’s Sea of Absolutism and the world’s Sea of Relativism to ensure that they do not become mixed up.

Between them is a barrier which they cannot pass.” (Ar-Rahman 55:20)

His words alone, sent down upon a hill, would have resulted in its destruction as a result of the hill’s inability to support them.

Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, thou wouldst certainly have seen it fall down, splitting asunder because of the fear of Allah.” (Al-Hashr 59:21)

The Technique of Acquiring Existential Wholeness

In the verse “Read in the name of thy Lord Who creates,” (Al-`Alaq 96:1) there is the implication that we have the obligation, in reading any object we may be facing, not to get between it and its originator: the “Lord Who creates.” In this way we can arrive at a holistic understanding of that object while protecting ourselves against an undesirable prejudice either against it or in its favor. Treating it as something to be worshiped would not only cause us to fall into the sin of polytheism but also lower it itself into an object unfit to be touched, thus causing us to have the attitudes of a monasticism or priesthood that cannot represent God’s management of this world.

The next verse, “Creates man from a clot of blood” (Al-`Alaq 96:2), leads our awareness to the meeting point where we touch our selfhood as both subject and object. The Allah Who makes a thing into an object is the Allah Who created us all from something objective in nature – a clot of blood.

What will bring a new coloration to the lives of believers is awareness of the meeting point between the cultural subject and object in their existence as creations.

Further, no object we encounter in the process of living is as simple as it appears. We can encounter such objects in their perfection only with the support of the millions of causes in the history of their coming into being, this history being a process of natural evolution and of cultural good offices involving a variety of scientific disciplines, skills, and the personae of their creators. This is symbolized in the Qur’an as a “pen” in “Who taught by the pen” (Al-`Alaq 96:4).

The understanding that ‘the pen’ is the chain of causes leading to the birth of each object will make us aware of the existence of the universe’s services to cultural reality. As a consequence, an awareness will grow that we must respond in the most satisfactory way possible to each object by expressing its positive possibilities and ignoring its negative potentialities. This moral attitude will give rise to the high sense of responsibility we know as “Amar ma’ruf nahi mungkar” (enjoining good and forbidding evil). The effect of this will make an individual into a believer who is wholly united with the universe in an unending flow of creativity. This is not the same as merely feeling at one with the universe in a state of ecstasy or static meditation.

Such a condition is a proof of ability to comprehend the Divine Command behind each object we meet. “Surely His is the creation and the command.” (Al-A`raf 7:54)

This is not known to all who open their eyes wide before an object, but only to those graced by Allah with the method for reading. “Taught man what he knew not” (Al-`Alaq 96:5).

The reading method taught by the Lord of the Worlds will lead us into the Presence of our true Dialog Partner. Only the awareness that His Command is behind each object will make it possible for our dialog to charm the Power of God into descending upon His field of creativity, not, of course upon the self of the Subject of History nor its Object, but upon its process of development, which takes place while the dialog goes on.

Surely my Lord is on the straight path” (Hud 11:56).

This is the reason that according to the Qur’an good deeds are not the property of their doer, but of Allah alone. “Whatever good befalls thee, it is from Allah” (An-Nisa’ 4: 79).

This is because no one will do good without a dialog partner to set the good intention in motion.

The willingness to express oneself well and rightly is what ‘Hidayah’ (guidance) means, and the dialog partner capable of inspiring the expression of goodness and truth is the meaning of ‘Taufiq’ (success), while the means enabling the two to bring it about is called ‘Rahmat’ (mercy). As for the development process obtained by means of such a dialog relationship, it is called the Moment of Tauhid (the profession of Unity) or Wholeness in Allah.

Wisdom or Contextual Truth

The descent of the first revelation upon the Prophet is called the Night of Power, because that is when the personal power of a servant transcended itself and was able to reach prophetic universality.

In Muhammad this took the form of an ability to actualize divine revelation in authentic behavior called uswatun hasanah (an excellent example).

If this also happens to one of his followers, it will take the form of an ability to understand divine revelation within the context of the development needs of the faithful of one’s time and of the authentic behavior called Wisdom or contextual truth.

The signs Allah gives through the self-actualization of a knower taught by Him, which is what is meant by ‘Arif-Billah’ (a true believer), are the reality of contextual truth or Wisdom in the taking over of God’s management at a time of chaos or dilemma. Although it is unique, Wisdom always projects the light of divinity and is a highly important aid to the process of self-identification in interpersonal relations.

The presence of ‘Ahli Hikmah’ (the Wise) among the faithful is an unavoidable necessity in the historical process. The expression “a messenger for each people” is not limited to the Messengers who brought a Book, but refers as well to the servants of Allah who are given, for the sake of the human race’s development, the ability to bring a Book that has already been revealed.

After the Messenger of Allah came down, the human race was considered mature enough not to need to be spoon-fed with values from God Himself. What had already been received was considered a sufficient legal reference for dealing with all new developments. It is just like that father who is happy to release his grown children to go on developing the values he has implanted in them.

The People of Wisdom will always be present in every epoch because no warehouse full of reference works unable to respond personally to a problem will be able to replace them in their role. They are the subjects of history, present always, and always necessary to help the faithful reform personalities which have strayed from ‘shirath’ (the Straight Way). They are also called the mother of contextual truth who live in the future while still standing upon the earth of the present moment.

Of course, this can be achieved only through contemplation and praying all night on the even days throughout the final third of the fasting month of Ramadan. It can be achieved only by means of a certain process and by a Lover (Asyik) in touch with his Beloved (Ma’syuk) in the limitless Sea of Life. But without the guidance of the Lord of the Worlds by means of the technique of reading perfectly, a thousand months would not suffice to lead us into the Presence of the True Dialog Partner.

(Receive) the baptism of Allah, and who is better than Allah in baptizing?” (Al-Baqarah 2:138)

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Translated by: M. M. Medeiros

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What is Meant by I`tikaf in Islam

What is Meant by I`tikaf in Islam

By Mansoor Alam

I`tikaf in IslamWhat is Meant by I`tikaf in Islam

During Ramadan, some Muslims go into seclusion in the mosque and spend time in prayer and contemplation. The period may vary from the middle ten days to the last ten days (according to some hadith). The seclusion allows very little contact with people and their families. This is done in the belief that it would increase one’s spirituality and piety (Taqwa). I’tikaf, as the practice is called, is optional according to the Qur’anic verse 2:187. This verse is also used to justify seclusion by its proponents.

However, the verse only says that Akifoon or those who are in I’tikaf should not have physical contact with their wives while in the mosque. The word “Akifoon” and “Akifeen” (from which I’tikaf is derived) appear in the Qur’an in many places (Al-Baqarah 2:125, Al-A`raf 7:138, Ta-Ha 20:91, Ta-Ha 20:97, Al-Anbiya’ 21:52, Al-Hajj 22:25, Ash-Shu`ara’ 26:71, Al-Fat-h 48:25) and in essence mean to stop or prevent something from spreading or scattering like a string of pearls, prayer beads or hair.

Therefore, I’tikaf would also mean to strive for unity among the believers and prevent their scattering. By extension, it would mean to address the issues and problems of a Muslim community so that they remain bound together and not be scattered, divided or fractionalized. While the ritualistic part remains, the essence and meaning of I’tikaf has drifted away.

It requires a great deal of pondering, thinking, and planning to solve life’s problems. The Prophet (PBUH) and his companions (R) faced problems and challenges constantly. They did not lead a monastic life by secluding themselves from the community and its problems but were constantly engaged with the world around them. Some of them did take to the mosque in the last ten days of Ramadan in the form of a retreat to discuss, contemplate, and to find effective ways to deal with the problems and challenges. This was their I’tikaf.

The enhanced community spirit and a sense of togetherness during the month-long period of fasting and introspection provide an excellent opportunity for Muslims to resolve their problems and differences. It is a common experience that after going through the first weeks of restraint and discipline most Muslims are in a heightened state of spiritual consciousness. This strength should be put to use in the service of the Muslim community and also the community at large. This should go hand in hand with prayers and dhikr of Allah. That would be the best way to practice I’tikaf.

Allama Iqbal summarized the whole subject in this brief verse:

Agar na sahl hoN tujh par zameeN ke hangamay;

Buree hai masti-e andesha ha-e aflakee

If you are not prepared to deal with the problems of the Earth;

Then it is useless to be absorbed about concerns of the Heaven

———–

Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org.

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Attaining Taqwa in Ramadan

Attaining Taqwa in Ramadan

By Sadullah Khan

Attaining Taqwa in Ramadan

Attaining Taqwa in Ramadan

Mending habits and developing character

Ramadan is the month of heightened Allah-consciousness, of attaining unto taqwa (piety), of training ourselves to be the best we can be; a month to initiate improvement of reputation, character and cultivating good habits.

People who try their best to live by the highest values are surely people of integrity and indeed people of moral conscience. What is morality though? Morality describes the principles that govern our behavior and relates to our behavior at three levels …

how we as individuals ensure that we are honest, just and compassionate

how we interact with and contribute to society, as asset or liability

how conscious we are of our accountability to our Creator

Taqwa in an amoral world

In a world, increasingly amoral, perception is considered reality. How one appears to the world has overtaken the substance of who we really are. Impressions, whether real or fake, are given more credence than they deserve. Though name, image and reputation are what we perceive of people, character is the essence of the “real self”. Taqwa is in reality character development coupled with God-consciousness.

Character and Reputation

Character is not only the face in the mirror but the real person behind the face. Character evolves from conscience; is sustained by conscience and is developed, piece by piece, with every thought, with every choice, and maintained with consistency and determination. The pursuance of piety begins by making our reputation a reflection of our character. In many people, reputation precedes the character and there is a distinction to be made …

Reputation is what you lead others to believe you are, character is what you really are

Reputation may be reflected in the combination of your name and your image, character is the essence of your being

Reputation is the wrapping, character the content

Reputation is the outer reflection, character the inner reality

Reputation is made in a moment, character is built in a lifetime

Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your tombstone, character is what angels report about you to Allah

Changing bad habits

The renowned philosopher, Aristotle, once said; “You are what you repeatedly do “. Habits are conditioned responses, formed through repetition until the actions or reactions become second nature; they end up as unconscious behavior, automatic reactions in a particular situation; (eg. The way you sign your name, cigarette smoking after a meal…) It was the English writer, Shakespeare, who said: “First we make our habits, then our habits make us”. Thinking in a particular pattern creates a mental path, the mental path affects our attitude and our behavior, and these reflect our personality and character. In other words, our thoughts affect our attitudes, which affect our actions, which determine our habits, which reflect our character, which could determine our destiny. The Roman poet Naso Ovid rightly said, “habits eventually become character.”

According to Islam, habits are classified as virtues or vices, as repeated actions that are in conformity with or contrary to the rules of morality. Virtuous character emanates from good habits and good habits emanate from resisting negative temptations. Good habits, unfortunately, seem so much easier to give up than bad habits.

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed; easy to get into but difficult to get out of. The chain of bad habits are generally too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. Remember though, that every habit; whether good or bad, is acquired and can be developed or disowned. Habits decrease or disappear by abstaining from exercising them and then replacing them. In the words of the Roman orator, Cicero, “consuetudo consuetudine vincitur = habit is overcome/ conquered by habit”. Ramadan is an ideal training period for filtering out bad habits and developing virtuous character. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “There comes to you the blessed month of Ramadan, a month in which Allah has made fasting obligatory on those who are able; whosoever denies himself of the benefits of that month denies himself many virtues.

As we undertake the physical and spiritual responsibility of fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan, we reflect on the words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who said: “Your practice of faith will not be correct unless your actions are correct, and your actions will not be considered correct unless your heart is correct.

——–

Taken with slight editorial modifications from islamicity.org

 

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Striving for God Consciousness / Taqwa in Ramadan

Striving for God Consciousness / Taqwa in Ramadan

By Louay M. Safi

taqwa in RamadanRamadan is the month of fasting for Muslims the world over. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk for the duration of Ramadan. For some, fasting may appear as a form of deprivation and of bodily exertion. On one level, abstaining from sensual needs and pleasures is indeed a physical experience. But those who stop at the physical aspects of fasting miss the essence of Ramadan and its purpose.

Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. These are the foundation upon which the entire structure of Islam is built. These consist of the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting Ramadan, paying of Zakah [the annual charity payment], and performing the pilgrimage to Makkah, known as hajj. Three of the five pillars of Islam are rituals, that is, prescribed religious acts whose rationale is not immediately available for understanding. These are prayer, fasting, and hajj. Muslims are required to do them because they are part of their religious duties, that is, they are part of their covenant with God.

As a ritual, fasting is a symbolic act whose meaning becomes gradually apparent through experience. The meaning embodied in a ritual is always unveiled when one immerses himself or herself in the act itself. This does not mean that fasting is not open to intellectual delineation, but rather any intellectual delineation either presupposes or predicts a meaning that can best become apparent through performing the symbolic act itself.

Spiritual Development

The essence of fasting Ramadan and its goal is summed in the Qur’an in one word: taqwa. “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)

But what is taqwa? And how does it relate to the physical act of fasting?

Taqwa is a recurring theme in the Qur’an and a paramount Qur’anic value. Taqwa is both an attitude and a process. It is the proper attitude of the human toward the divine that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to God’s boundless wisdom and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding the divine intent or failing in maintaining the appropriate posture and relationship.

The attitude of taqwa cannot and does not stay in the confines of the human spirit, but is ultimately revealed in expression and action. The attitude of taqwa is ultimately revealed in, and in turn reveals, the true character it nurtures: the commitment to the sublime values stressed by divine revelations of courage, generosity, compassion, honesty, steadfastness, and cooperation in pursuing what is right and true.

Taqwa is equally the process by which the believers internalize the sublime values of revelation and develop their character. Thus the Qur’an reminds the believers that they should not reduce religious practices to a set of blind rituals, of religiously ordained procedures performed at the level of physical movement, and that they should always be mindful that religious practices, like praying and fasting, ultimately aim at bringing about moral and spiritual uplifting:

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West: But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels, the Book, and the Messengers; to give out of the things you hold dear to your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the one who asks, and to free the slave. And to be steadfast in prayer and to give for charity. To fulfill the covenants you have made, and to be firm and patient in times of pain, adversity, and panic. Such are the people of truth, and such are the God-conscious.” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

As Ramadan helps us to develop our moral discipline, it also reminds us of the plight of those who live in constant hunger and deprivation. We are reminded time and again by the revealed book that religiosity is meaningless and pointless if it does not lead people to care and share:

“Have you seen one who belies judgment; it is the one who repulses the orphan, and does not insist on feeding the needy. So woe to those who pray but are neglectful of their prayers. Those who are guilty of duplicity and refuse to provide for the ones in need.” (Al-Ma`un 107:1-7)

Commitment

Fasting Ramadan, like other religious practices in Islam, is an occasion for pursuing moral excellence that can also be translated into excellence in social organization and interaction. In a tradition that was reported in the books of Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet was once asked: “O messenger of God! who is the most honored of people? He said: the one who has most taqwa. They said: this is not what we are asking about…. He said: … the best of them prior to Islam is the best of them in Islam if they comprehend (the revealed message).”

It is not difficult to see that the Prophet’s companions did not have immediate access to the meaning of taqwq, as many Muslims today still don’t. When they did not accept his first statement as an answer, the Prophet gave them an explanation of what he meant when he responded to their question about “the most honored of people.” In responding with the question, the Prophet was reiterated the meaning provided by the Qur’an: “Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is the most righteous (mutaqi).” (Al-Hujurat 49:13) The Prophet’s statement underscores the fact that taqwa as a moral and spiritual quality is significant in the human world insofar as it leads people to act with compassion and respect toward others.

Empowerment

Nothing does empower a community more than the development of the moral character of its members. By embodying the moral values of revelation, people can have a higher social life, one that is based on mutual respect and help, as it is based on honest and fair dealings, and a sense of duty that encourages people to observe the principles of right and justice as they pursue their varying and competing interests. The theme that moral life based on the notion of taqwa leads to societal strength and prosperity is an oft repeated theme in the Qur’an: “Whoever has taqwa of God, He prepares a way out for them, and He provides them from sources they never could imagine.” (At-Talaq 65:2-3) And again: “Verily the earth is God’s to give as a heritage to such of His servants as He pleases; and the end is best for the God-conscious.” (Al-A`raf 7:128)

Fasting is not simply a time during which people deprive themselves from physical pleasures, but is an occasion to exercise moral restrain and experience spiritual growth. Ramadan is a time of remembrance of God and renewal of commitment to the high and noble values he revealed to mankind. And nothing would give us the sense of spiritual fulfillment than a state of taqwq, of God-consciousness, that Ramadan helps us to realize.

———-

Dr. Louay M. Safi serves as the executive director of ISNA Leadership Development Center, an Indiana based organization dedicated to enhancing leadership awareness and skills among American Muslim leaders, and a founding board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. He writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam, American Muslims, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace. His commentaries are available at his Blog: http://blog.lsinsight.org

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Ramadan: The Month of Taqwa

Ramadan: The Month of Taqwa

By Sadullah Khan

Ramadan: The Month of TaqwaRamadan: The Month of Taqwa

Ramadan is the month of heightened Allah-consciousness, of attaining unto taqwa / God-consciousness; of training ourselves to be the best we can be; a month to initiate improvement of reputation, character and for cultivating good habits.

Ramadan is also the month of the initiation of the Final Divine Revelation, al-Qur’an. In order to truly benefit from the Qur’an, we have to be able to relate to the Qur’an in a practical way, every day of our lives. The month of Ramadan, this month of siyaam, this month of qiyaam and of the Qur’an; provides the ideal opportunity for us to fully reconnect our relationship with the Qur’an and to enhance that relationship by maintaining the following five responsibilities:

1. Belief and Honor

We regard the Qur’an as the words of Allah and believe it to be the best book of guidance for those who want to live righteous lives. We respect its message and honor it above all other books and commit ourselves to abide by its precepts.

2. Reading and Recitation

Since the Qur’an was communicated to the Prophet through angel Gabriel orally and the Prophet, in turn, conveyed it to his companions and family orally we should learn to read the Qur’an properly and recite it correctly. There are great blessings in reading the Qur’an in the correct manner and it is our duty to recite it the way it was revealed; thus maintaining its originality.

3. Understanding and Reflecting

Many Muslims learn to read the Qur’an but few strive to understand its meaning. Since the Qur’an is primarily a book of guidance [Al-Baqarah 2:185], we have a responsibility to understand its message and reflect on what it says. What is not understood cannot truly be implemented.

4. Implementing the Guidelines

One of the greatest duties we have is to live by the commands of Allah. The primary reason why Divine revelation was sent was to guide human beings to be good and to be of benefit to the world; neither to do wrong nor to harm the world.

5. Conveying and Clarifying

Each Muslim has the responsibility of conveying the message of Islam to others; with wisdom, beautiful preaching and practical example.

If we believe in the Qur’an as we ought to, respect the Qur’an with due respect, read it how it is supposed to be read, recite it with propriety, understand its message and live by its commands then our behavior will reflect the Qur’an. The Prophet’s wife was asked to describe the Prophet’s conduct and she said: “his character is the Qur’an.” The Prophet’s life was an embodiment of the values of the Qur’an. In the words of the poet Akbar Allahabadi; “a unique phenomenon many people do not seem to realize is that a truly Believer is seen reading the Qur’an but in reality, the Believer is a reflection/embodiment of the Qur’an.”

May we elevate ourselves in this Ramadan, from being a reciter of the Qur’an to being an embodiment of the values of the Qur’an.

———–

Shaykh Sadullah Khan is the Director of Impower Development International www.impowerinternational.com

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