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October 2007
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Ramadan

Carving Out Time for God
By Asma Mobin-Uddin



Ramadan is a month of gratitude. Muslims observe Ramadan out of gratitude for God’s guidance.


Busy with the worldly demands of our hectic lives, many of us leave the deepest needs of the human heart unattended. For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan, which began this year Sept. 13, is a time to subjugate the needs of the body to tend to the needs of the heart.


During Ramadan, the call of the heart and its longing for connection with God take precedence.


Every year before Ramadan starts, I am filled with anticipation, hope and usually some apprehension. I wonder if I will be able to meet the demands of the daily fast. Abstinence from all food and drink even water is required during daylight hours. Even in a state of hunger and fatigue, a fasting person must do his or her best to be patient, avoid harshness with anyone, show compassion and mercy to others, give  time and wealth in charity and avoid any falsehood or bad deed. Yet each year, I quickly realize that the greatest challenges of this month lie not in the physical abstinence, but in the struggle to improve my character.


Muslims believe that during Ramadan, God provides tremendous support, love, mercy and forgiveness for those struggling to attain piety and nearness to him. During Ramadan, Muslims believe God binds the forces of evil so their negative influences on people are restrained. With the gates of God’s, swung wide open, even the smallest acts of goodness are rewarded exponentially. What I cherish most about Ramadan are the opportunities for quiet moments in solitude with God. The stillness of the morning before dawn provides a perfect setting for communication with God. In a silence far removed from the frenzied pace of the day, with intimacy, I pour out my soul’s thoughts to God. In those moments of devotion, I deeply sense God’s Love and Compassion.


Another part I love about this sacred month are the “taraweeh” prayers held at the mosque every evening. During these prayers (held only in Ramadan), the Qur’an is usually recited in its entirety over the course of the month.


I remember the nights when I would attend taraweeh prayers regularly. Now that my children are at an age when sitting quietly is a near impossibility, family responsibilities often keep me from spending the evening hours at the mosque. When I long for those nights of worship in prayer, I remind myself of Islam’s teaching that the work of everyday living, when done with sincerity and good intentions, is also worship of God.


Ramadan is a month of gratitude. Muslims observe Ramadan out of gratitude for God’s guidance as He began to reveal the Qur’an to humanity during this month. Nothing can quite describe the gratitude one feels for God’s blessings as we take the first sips of water and break our fast in the evening. Whatever we eat tastes delicious. Ramadan offers so much to those who observe it. During this time, the soul’s yearning for the divine and its need for intimacy with God take precedence. The hope is that one’s relationship with God will be better the day after Ramadan than it was before the month began.


A common reminder given from the pulpits in the final days of this blessed month is that the Lord we worship during Ramadan is the same one that presides over the month afterward. The spiritual advancement attained during the hardship of the fast should not be forgotten as the new month begins. The intimacy, hope, forgiveness, renewal and purification experienced during Ramadan is the starting place of our spiritual journey for the rest of the year.


(The writer is the board chairwoman for the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations- CAIR)

Do's & Don't's of Eid



Do: Wake up early
Just because Ramadan is over its not an excuse to lie in! Make sure you wake up early on Eid and pray Salatul Fajr! Many of us are only Ramadan Muslims, so we only pray during Ramadan so that our fasts will be accepted.... But! ... SALAH IS NOT JUST FOR RAMADAN!

Don’t: decide to have a
lie-in till lunch time: Eid salat is VERY important for everyone to attend!


Do: Freshen Up
Even a basic sunnah such as taking a bath [ghusl] is being ignored nowadays! Why? Because many of our sisters have their hair blow dried the day before and don’t want to ruin the style! They don’t want their mehndi [henna] to fade! Taking ghusl and brushing your teeth [with a miswaak preferably] is sunnah and we should all uphold this tradition! It is also sunnah for ‘men’ to wear perfume/ittar before going to the Eid prayer, perfume was one of Prophet’s preferred things in this world and we should aim to smell nice on Eid!

Don’t: Women, do not wear perfume to the masjid! Zainab bint Thaqafiyah reported: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to us: “When any of you comes to the mosque, she should not apply perfume.” (Saheeh Muslim).


Do: Dress to impress!
Okay well not literally! Eid isn’t about being ostentatious and buying the latest most expensive clothes available!

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “The Prophet, (saw), used to wear his best clothes for the Eid prayers and he (saw) had clothes that he reserved for the two Eids and Jumu’ah.”(Muslim)

Of course Eid ‘is’ a celebration for us and we should wear our best clothes but Islam is for everyone and does not burden us to buy new clothes if we cannot afford it, or if we can it would be better for us to give that money to those who need it. Eid is an ‘Islamic’ festival so inshallah we should all aim to dress islamically, particularly at the masjid.


Do: have breakfast!
It is sunnah to eat breakfast on Eid ul Fitr before leaving your home for the prayer. Anas (radiyallaahu ‘anhu) narrated:


“Allah’s Messenger [saw] would not leave (his house) on the day of Fitr until he ate some dates.”(al-Bukhari) Many of us wake up to the smell of our mums making something sweet for breakfast on eid! So don’t waste her efforts of waking up so early by saying that I’ll have some when I come back! Follow the sunnah, eat something sweet, and then leave the house!

Don’t: Fast! This Eid is signifying the end of Ramadan! The month of fasting! You might not be hungry but atleast have a date!


Do: Pay the Zakat ul Fitr!
You must pay the zakat ul fitr before the Salatul-Eid. Note this zakat [tax] is compulsory on everyone so make sure you have given.

Don’t: Rely on your parents to pay it for you! The zakat is to help YOU! So you should pay it


Do: Try to walk to the masjid/ or prayer ground
Ok, so this might not be particularly manageable for everyone, but atleast try not to park your car close to the mosque, so that you can get reward for every step you take to the masjid

Also recite the following takbeer both on the way and on the way back from the prayer:

Allaho-Akbar, Allaho-Akbar. (Allah is great, Allah is great.)
La ilaha ill-lallah. Allaho-Akbar, (There is no god but Allah. Allah is great,)
Allaho-Akbar. Wa-lilahill hamd. (Allah is great. And all praises are for Allah).

Don’t: take the same route home!


Do: Pray in the open!
It is sunnah to offer Eid salat in the open i.e on a ground, park etc however in many countries this is not possible due to council laws/ rainy weather etc. But do some research beforehand to see if anyone is organising an Eid Musallah congregation. The Prophet [saw] said: It is preferable to pray the ‘Eid prayer on open ground and not in the masjid if possible. [Bukhari and Muslim]

Don’t: Run out of the mosque after the salaam! It is sunnah to greet each other, even if you don’t know the person next to you, after all we are all brothers and sisters in Islam!

The Sajdah Tilawat
By Sameen Ahmed Khan

It is useful to memorise the complete Sajdah verses, particularly in the context of the Tarawih Salah.


The Holy Qur’an has 6666 verses.  Among these there are some specific verses giving the command to make Sajdah (prostration) or mention that the believers prostrate before Allah in submission to Him.  As a response to these verses, it is required, according to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh) to make Sajdah whenever one reads, recites from memory, or hears any of these verses.  This is a Sunnah Mu’akkadah and it should not be omitted.  These are known as the Sajdah of Tilawat (prostration of recitation).  There are fourteen (according to some jurists, fifteen) places in the whole Qur’an, where the verses of Sajdah occur.  They are listed in the following table:


At verse 22:77 Sajdah is Wajib for Shafi.  At verse 38:24 Sajdah is Wajib for Hanafi.  Sajdah at the remaining thirteen verses are Wajib for both.


The location of the Sajdah verses is clearly pointed in the text and in the margins.  This is generally done using the beautiful calligraphy.


The prerequisites for this Sajdah are the same as for the Salah 1.Purity of body, clothes, and place of Sajdah.  2. Covering of satr.  3. Turning your face toward Qiblah.  4. Intention of performing the Sajdah.  The procedure is: 1. Stand facing the Qiblah.  2. Express the necessary intention.  3. Go down for Sajdah with Allahu-Akbar and should recite the usual dua, Subhana rabbiyal-Ala.  4. Rise up with Allahu-Akbar after Sajdah.


If a verse requiring a Sajdah has been recited during the Salah (such as the Tarahwi Salah), the Sajdah has to be performed forthwith without delay.  It is obligatory to perform the Sajdah without delaying it to after the Salah.  If a person hears a verse requiring a Sajdah, being recited by the Imam, but joins the congregation when the Imam has already performed the Sajdah, he will perform the Sajdah after completing his Salah.


If the verse is recited or heard outside the Salah, it is preferable to perform the Sajdah immediately afterwards, but one may perform it later as well.  There is only one Sajdah required for each verse.  If a person recites a verse requiring a Sajdah in the mind, but does not utter it aloud or only writes it, he will not be required to perform the Sajdah.  If the verse requiring a Sajdah is recited over and over again (for memorizing or understanding) in the same sitting, only one Sajdah will have to be performed, but if more than one verse requiring Sajdah are recited, the number of Sajdah to be performed will be the same as the number of the verses recited.  Similarly, if the verse requiring a Sajdah is repeated in different sittings, the number of Sajdah to be performed will be according to the number of sittings. 


It is not valid to do the Sajdah on the Qur’an itself during the recitation of the Qur’an.  One has to do it completely as one does it during the Salah.  It is useful to memorize the complete Sajdah verses, particularly in the context of the Tarahwi Salah. (The writer can be reached at rohelakhan@yahoo.com)



Fasting in the Month of Shawwal


Allah says in the Qur’an, “Say (O Muhammad): ‘If you (really) love Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [surah Al-Imran, 3: 31].


One of the ways to manifest our love for Allah is by following the Prophet (Pbuh) and to do those acts that he advised his Companions, and the Ummah in general, to do. A sunnah which is certainly relevant to us in these days is his practice to fast six days in the month of Shawwal.


Abu Ayyub al-Ansari narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said: “He who fasts Ramadan, and six of Shawwal, it will be (in terms of rewards) as if he fasted a whole year.” [Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Ibn Majah]. So this is an established sunnah, which carries a great reward.


In commenting on the above mentioned hadith, As-San’ani said in Subul us-Salam: “If the thirty days of Ramadan fasting are assimilated with the six days of fasting in Shawwal, it altogether makes 36 days. According to Shari`ah, each virtue is rewarded ten times. Therefore, if we multiply 36 with 10, it makes 360, a number which equals the days of a year. Some scholars are of the opinion that these six days of fasting in Shawwal must be completed in a continuous order right after the end of Ramadan. Others believe that it is enough to merely complete six days of fasting in Shawwal (in any order, either successive or with intervals), an opinion which is deemed to be correct.” We may also fast on Mondays and Thursdays, as in that case we would be following another Sunnah: A’isha (ra) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays”. [an-Nasa’i]