Volume 14-12 No:180
It is iftar time in Haram. The crowds are swelling by each minute. The faithful are out in strength. Waves upon waves of fasting Muslims are converging at the glittering, sparkling Mosque of Haram, the spiritual pivot of Islam.
They are descending down in large numbers.. The white ones from the Maghreb, the Asians, the flat faces and slit eyes from South East Asia, the bearded, burly turbaned Pathans from the embattled Pak - Afghan regions, the sharp featured Turks, the debonair Levantines, the glamorous Iranians, the squint-eyed men from Russian republics, the tall muscular Nigerians and Mauritanians, the slim featured, not so blacks from the Horns of Africa, the bulky Egyptians, the diminutive Indonesians have all arrived in to have a taste of cooler Ramadan in Makkah. It seems, it will be the final parting of Ramadan with winter this year, which is not likely to be any more cooler for the next quarter century.
The sisterhood of Islam is here in ample numbers. Men of Islam still retain great sartorial diversity. But for women, the headscarves and gowns have emerged as the great social leveller. The Arabs call them ‘abayah’. The Iranians cloak themselves in black ‘chador’ held tightly beneath the chin. The Turks and central Asians opt for the white overalls. The blacks of Yemen and Somalia turn them into a hood while the more modest from the Indians add a cap for the mouth.
The Arabs, or more precisely Saudis go out of the way to ease the rigours of fasting for themselves. The most noticeable of them all is freeing their work schedule out of the fasting hours. Shopping centres come alive after Isha prayers. Offices turn around the working hours to work during nights. The thoroughfares in Jeddah’s business districts get clogged with shoppers’ cars at the dead of night. Yet all Saudi government offices and schools retain the day schedule.
But it is, as I am told, only a two decade old phenomenon. It is said it all began during the early 80s. Ramadan then was coinciding with torrid summer months of June-July. First the children began to play in the cooler midnights. This prompted even the parents to stay awake. Next it was the turn of the shop owners to fall in line. Now it seems irreversible. The Saudis have discovered the joys of turning the biological clock. Nights are active and fun-filled. Children throng the parks and women arrive at shopping malls. Restaurants do roaring business. Suhoor or pre-dawn meals and Fajr prayers herald the calm. As slumbering folk get into the woollens in their air-conditioned bed-rooms during the day, the Saudi Ramadan practices leave several questions begging for an answer.
Asr prayers break the lull. Coster mongers arrive with their fruit laden wheel barrows at mosques. Life stirs out in the environs of the Haram Mosque. Zam Zam cans are refilled. Plastic dining mats are laid for the waiting crowds to take position in the sprawling Haram courtyard.
Next, it is the turn of the volunteers of charities to pour out their bounties. The maze of lanes around the Haram get clogged with sellers of fruit, juices, dates and a great variety of crispies and crunchies. Looking at the food piles, none is left in doubt about the Saudi generosity. Yet Haram courtyards are witness to the sorry spectacle of scuffles. Often the food is snatched, volunteers pushed down and urchins making the most of the opportunity. Hunger in the Kingdom has been conquered. But not the greed.
From here it seems how pettiness characterizes our sectarian attitude in India. I have witnessed how bile is vented on the question of eight or 20 rakaats of Taraweeh prayers. While most of the imams in general mosques in the Kingdom pray 10 rakaats, it is surprising to note that in the two Haram mosques in Makkah and Madinah, the imams offer 20 rakaats. Ramadan has its own aura in Makkah. The atmosphere is surcharged with piety and charity is in evidence in abundance.
Ramadan is the month for spiritual reawakening and reaffirmation of faith. Ramadan is the month in which Allah “sent down the criterion to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all worlds”. Allah said, “When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them). I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me; that they may walk in the right way.”
I hope and pray that this Ramadan will be a time when He responds to our prayers and we listen, with a will, to His call. “Oh ye who believe, fasting is prescribed to you just as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (Fasting) is for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him and it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. “Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong). So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting. But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”
These Qur’anic verses (Surah Al-Baqarah: 183-185) refer to the importance of Ramadan and emphasize the spiritual aspects of fasting – a month devoted to worship, but not one in which the believer renounces the world or runs away from his responsibilities. He abstains from food and drink for a limited period. The stress is on self-discipline. Fasting is not meant to punish the body, but to strengthen the mind, directing it to higher things.
Scientists agree that machines require a rest period due to “metal fatigue”. Almighty Allah created us and knows that we are weak in body and spirit; we are in need of occasions to boost and revitalize our weak Iman (faith) so that we may adhere to the commands of Allah in the way shown to us by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). During Ramadan, mosques are full of worshippers, and acts of charity increase, ties of brotherhood strengthen, anger and temper are controlled and an atmosphere of peace prevails. According to psychologists, these are several of the beneficial aspects of conscientious fasting. We should also resolve to be steadfast in the good habits acquired during the holy month of fasting. Let us all once again pledge ourselves to follow the example of the Holy Prophet who was the most active during the month of fasting.
One is saddened to see today when all the comforts of life are available, many people view the month of Ramadan as a time for sleep, laziness and, therefore, of decreased productivity. For example, we go to an office or work place and ask for someone and we are told to return later or maybe after prayers or the next day. At times, if someone loses his temper, we are told he is edgy because he is fasting. We notice that many shortcomings and many lapses in discipline are attributed to fasting.
We should remember that fasting itself is an exercise in discipline. It is a total act of worship. You cannot fast and at the same time trouble other people. This is what we must realize. Employees who deal with the public should realize that this is not a month to delay matters affecting other people’s interests. The student should realize, or be told by his parents, that this is a great month to read about religion and to understand it or not to spend the day sleeping or sitting idly and the night, watching television, strolling in shopping malls or driving aimlessly about the city.
I think it is high time that the media, parents, the family and sociologists emphasized that Ramadan is a month of worship and active work and that by adjusting our lifestyles in the proper way we can do both and also be more productive. The turning away from Islamic precepts and teachings has ushered in a host of problems. And turning night into day defeats the whole purpose of the fast.
Indeed, the month of Ramadan should be used to reflect and to contemplate in order to determine whether we Muslims are really on the true path. An honest answer will clearly reveal how far we are from the teachings of Islam. Muslims should be bold enough to admit that many of their problems are created by themselves. To admit this is the first step towards solving the numerous problems facing the Muslim Ummah. We, as Muslims, are obliged to follow the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I believe that the only solution to our present difficulties is to read, understand and follow the teachings of the Qur’an in its proper perspective.
If we do that, we will know that those of us who see dark conspiracies behind our ills are way off the mark. The Qur’an says: “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” The conspiracy that is destroying us is not hatched by others, but by ourselves or it is a conspiracy of inaction. So let us put an end to this habit of blaming others for our own shortcomings and inertia. Our enemies, real and imagined, can harm us only to the extent we remain lacking in initiative and outmoded in our thinking and way of doing things. What is needed is some soul-searching and a readiness to think and act differently. And let us also remember, in this month, that our faith demands that our concerns should go beyond our own selves and families to our brethren in faith and brothers in humanity. In a world that has become a global village with a free market and free economy, an increasing number of people are falling victims to wars, hunger, incurable diseases, internal strife, genocide and human rights abuses.
Afghanistan is going through another tragic war which has been its bane throughout centuries. People, many of them children, women and elderly, are getting killed, forced to flee their homes and are starving. TV channels bring their cries and suffering to our living rooms. Let us pray for peace and tolerance in the Muslim world, especially in Afghanistan.
Palestinians are still denied the dignity due to human beings. Chechnya is in turmoil. The Russian assault on its cities and villages has killed thousands, over 200,000 have become refugees, and Kremlin, emboldened by an indifferent world, has intensified its murderous assaults on civilians, all sick or elderly. Our heart goes out to all those who suffer on account of their faith, occupation or simply because they find themselves on the wrong side of a border or wrongly accused of a crime they learnt about only after the news was flashed on TV screens and newspaper. The victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon in Washington also deserve our sympathy. We pray this is the last of its kind of horror ever to visit a city or a people. Let the families of those who lost their near and dear ones in these attacks and in the recent plane crash in the US have the fortitude to bear this tragedy.
Let us once again pray that in this Ramadan, a sincere effort will be made by all Muslims to come closer together and closer to Almighty Allah through fasting, prayers, zakah and charity. And, through hard work, let us make this a better world for us and our children. And while doing our duty by our fellow men, our families, children and community, let us pray, as Abraham and Ismail did, while raising the foundation of the House (Holy Kaabah): “Our Lord, accept from us, for Thou are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing; Our Lord, make us Muslims, bowing to Thy Will.”
If I have only one prayer, it will be to see that no child anywhere in the world has fear in his eyes - the fear of losing his parents, of his home being demolished because of man’s inhumanity towards man, and fear of the unknown. (The author is chief Editor, Arab News)
Fasting is obligatory for all healthy adult Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. No food or drink is allowed between dawn (Sehar) and sunset (Iftar), with no restriction on the amount of food or drink consumed at night. Alterations in the mealtimes and the daily routine, and use of certain traditional food at Iftar and Sehar is also the feature of this month.
As diabetes and its treatment is directly related to diet control, proper timings of meals and medicines, the diabetic patients would like to know, from the medical point of view, if it is possible for them to fast during the month of Ramadan. If so, then what are the precautions that will enable them to fast as well as keep diabetes under proper control.
Islam is a religion which does not believe in rigidity. Under special circumstances and according to the situation, Islam permits Muslims certain favours and leniency. Keeping this in view, the advice given here for the month of Ramadan is appropriate from a medical point of view for diabetic patients.
Fasting in Ramadan will depend on the control and the type of treatment being given. According to the treatment received, the diabetic patients can be divided into three groups.
Patients in whom blood sugar is under control through diet only. If you belong to this group you can fast, provided you continue with your diet control. Obese patients belonging to this group can reduce weight by fasting which in turn will lead to better control of diabetes.
Diet means eating nourishing food, eating enough food and having regular meals and Diabetics should avoid becoming overweight. The advice regarding diet during Ramadan is basically the same as on normal non-fasting days. The adjustments to your diet are based on the following two principle.
i. Avoid sugar, sweet and drink.
ii. If you are overweight, lose weight by reducing your intake of all those foods which provide energy in excess of your requirements. Diabetics should therefore avoid food items containing sugar and fatty foods (IG of fat contains 9 calories of energy as against 4 calories of energy in 1G each of carbohydrate and proteins). Weighing your food is usually not necessary, you can use common household measures such as tablespoons, or teaspoons. Special diabetic foods are expensive and not really necessary for people with diabetes. If you like eating sweet stuff, it is better to include fresh fruits in your meal plan. Avoid very sweet fruits like mangoes, grapes, dates and tinned fruits. All vegetables including those which grow under the soil are good for you. Eat plenty of salad and vegetables. You can take boiled rice and potatoes, but avoid fried potatoes. You may find the following meal plan useful during Ramadan: You may break your fast with small amount of chick peas or fried vegetable samosa or two pakoras and water or tomato juice. Eat full meal after Maghrib prayers. Take plenty of vegetables, both cooked and uncooked, dal, roti, boiled rice, yogurt, fish or meat or both (if blood lipids are high, avoid red meat i.e. mutton and beef). Finish your meal with fresh fruit. If you like you can take a glass of skimmed milk with dinner or at bedtime. In practice, the roti of whole wheat flour is as good as roti made of gram, maize and millet flours. Same principles should be followed for sehar meal.
Avoid vermicelli (khajla and pheni). Instead whole-wheat cereals or porridge may be taken.
Patients in whom blood sugar is under control on diet and blood glucose lowering tablets (Oral hypoglycemic drugs). If you belong to this group, you can also fast, you will have to continue with your diet control and in addition follow the advice given below regarding your oral hypoglycemic drugs.
(a) If you are taking oral tablets in single dose in the morning, then you should continue with the same dose in Ramadan, but the tablets should now be taken at the time of breaking of the fast (Iftar). (b) If you are on twice daily doses, during Ramadan you will continue with the two doses but with the following modifications in the timings and quantity of drugs:
I. The morning tablets taken on normal days should be taken at the time of Iftar. The dose will remain the same.
II. The second dose can be taken at the time of starting your fast (Sehar), but reduce this dose to half of your usual evening dose.
III, If you are taking tablets three times a day then you should first consult your doctor, as the dose and the timings of your tablets will have to be adjusted so that you are able to control your diabetes on twice daily doses. If, on your doctor’s advice, you can do this and your diabetes is under control, you can fast, otherwise not. While fasting, you will have to follow the same instructions as given above regarding the timing and the dose of your tablets.
Patients who are on Insulin. If you are on insulin treatment, you are not a suitable candidate for fasting. Your blood sugar levels can fluctuate considerably (i.e. blood sugar levels can increase i.e. hyperglycemia or decrease i.e. hypoglycemia). The control of your sugar levels depends on a continuous balance between the dose of insulin administered and the food intake all day long. During fasting, you can therefore develop hyperglycemia and coituses or sudden hyperglycemia which can be dangerous and life threatening. If you insist on fasting, then you should be willing to break the fast if hyperglycemia develops. Shorter acting insulins and free mixtures rather than pre-mixed insulins are recommended.
Your daily food intake should be as advised by your doctor as it is calculated according to your energy requirements while controlling your blood glucose at the same time. While fasting, do not forget that you are a diabetic and the traditional foods (usually sweets and high calorie fatty foods) cooked during Ramadan are not suitable for you. Divide your daily food intake in two equal portions. Take one portion at Iftar and the other at Sehar. The meal at Sehar should be delayed as much as possible, i.e. the meal should be taken within the last 30 minutes before the beginning of fast.
Blood glucose control is achieved not only by diet control and medication but also by daily exercise. During Ramadan, routine activity should not be reduced, but some rest may be taken in the afternoon. Exercise is good for keeping physically fit and healthy. Exercise helps diabetics by reducing their blood glucose levels, thus decreasing their need for medication (tablets or insulin). All diabetics should exercise regularly, such as 30 minutes daily brisk walks, 120 steps or more per minute for males and 100 steps or more per minute for females, on empty stomach. During Ramadan, the best time for walking is before Sehar. Get up early, take a brisk walk for 30 minutes and then eat your Sehar meal.
If you strictly observe these instructions, check your blood sugar levels regularly and follow the doctor’s advice, you should be able to fast during Ramadan. All diabetics should remember that: “Little knowledge is not a dangerous thing. The diabetic who knows the most about his disease, lives longest”. Every diabetic, therefore, should aim to be his own doctor, of course under the supervision of a physician.
The writer is Honorary President, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Head, WHO Collaborating Centre for Diabetes.
There is a very good reason why Ramadan, out of all the months in the Islamic calendar was chosen by Allah to be the month of Fasting. It was in this month, on the Night of Decree (Laylatul-Qadr), that the Qur’an was revealed to mankind. Allah, the Most High says: “ The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs for the guidance and the Furqaan (criterion) between right and wrong. So whoever of you sights the crescent on the first night of the month [of Ramadan], he must fast that month.” Surah al-Baqarah (2:185).
Allah honoured this month by revealing the Qur’an in it and it is because of this that He obligated fasting in it. This is also the month in which the angel Jibreel would come to meet the Prophet (Pbuh) every night to repeat the recitation of the Qur’an with him. So the relationship between Ramadan and the Qur’an is very close, which is why Muslims worldwide turn to the Qur’an with a heightened sense of vigour during this month.
1. Recitation of the Qur’an
The main purpose of the Qur’an is to be a source of guidance for mankind, leading those who cling to it from darkness into light, from misery to happiness and raising them from lowliness to a lofty station. However, another important feature of the Qur’an is that its recitation is in itself a form of ‘ibadah’ (worship). Great emphasis was placed on the recitation of the Qur’an right after it was revealed to the Prophet. The literal meaning of the word Qur’an itself is ‘Reading’ or ‘Recitation’. The first Ayat (verse) to be revealed on that momentous occasion where Jibreel came to the Prophet when he was alone in the cave Hira was: “Iqraa (Recite/Read), in the name of your lord who created you.” (Surah al-Alaq 9:1).
The Prophet himself strongly urged his companions to recite as much of the Qur’an as possible. He said: “whoever reads a single letter from Allah’s Book will receive a blessing (for each letter) and each blessing is worth ten times its value.” Indeed the virtues and blessings of reciting the Book of Allah are many. And by way of encouragement to all of us, to spend time reciting and reflecting upon the Qur’an, some of these virtues are listed below. +
1. It will come as an intercessor on the Day of Resurrection.
The Prophet said: “Recite the Qur’an, for verily on the Day of Resurrection, it will act as an intercessor for those who recite it.” On the day when neither our family nor our wealth will be of any benefit to us, this Qur’an will beseech Allah on behalf of those who recite it frequently. Allah will give it a speech and Allah is able to do all things and it will say to Allah: “I prevented him from sleep at night, so accept my intercession for him.” And its intercession will be accepted.
2. Tranquility descends.
Al Baraa reported that a man was reciting Surah al-Kahf and there was a horse tied with two ropes at his side, when a cloud overshadowed him. As it began to come closer, his horse began to get restless. He went and mentioned that to the Prophet who said: “It was tranquility which came down at the recitation of the Qur’an”. This shows us that the tranquility and the calmness which results from the recitation of the Qur’an is not something abstract, but something very real which permeated the whole atmosphere so that even the animals can imbibe it. This ‘Sakeenah’ (tranquility) which descends upon the reciter is accompanied by Angels who assemble to listen to the Qur’an. Usaid ibn Hudair, one of the companions mentioned to the Prophet that once when he was reciting the Qur’an, he saw something like a canopy or a cloud with lamps inside. The Prophet explained to him that: “Those were Angels who came near to you for your voice. If you had kept on reciting till dawn,it would have remained there till morning when the people would have seen it.
3. It will be a shade on the Day of Resurrection.
The Prophet said: “Recite the two bright ones, Al-Baqara and Al-lmraan, for on the day of Resurrection, they will come as two clouds, or two shades or two flocks of birds in ranks, pleading for those who recite them.” We are well aware that on a hot summer day when we are out in the scorching sun, the thing we appreciate most is a tree or some sort of canopy, beneath which we can take shade. Imagine how much more we will be pining for a shade on the Day of Resurrection when the people will be submerged in perspiration according to their deeds, some up to half of their knees, some up to the waist and some would have a bridle of perspiration up to their mouths.
These blessings and rewards are only multiplied for those who struggle in their recitation, for the Prophet said, “he who falters when he recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult, he will have a double reward.” Of course it goes without saying, that although great emphasis and encouragement has been made to recite the Qur’an, this is not the goal in itself. Recitation of the Book of Allah is just a means through which we can absorb its message and act on whatever the messages entails. However, reciting with the meaning is superior to merely reading as the Prophet explained: “The example of a believer who recites the Qur’an and acts on it, is like an orange which tastes nice and smells nice.
“Truly, to a happy state shall attain the believers, who humble themselves in their prayer, and who turn away from all that is frivolous, and who fulfill their zakah duty.” (23:1-4)
Five major elements constitute the foundation of Islam. These are a declaration of belief that there is no deity other than God and that Muhammad is His messenger; offering the five prayers each day, payment of zakah (which is an obligatory charity paid by all Muslims who have more than a specified sum); fasting in Ramadan and pilgrimage to Makkah if one can afford it.
Abu Bakr, the first ruler of the Muslim state after the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), went to war against groups of Muslims who wanted to abrogate zakah. When the Muslim community was given permission by God to fight against non-believers, God gave them the happy news that they would eventually gain power in the land. He also reminded them of their duties when that prospect came to be a reality. Their first duties were to establish prayers regularly, to pay their zakah and to fulfill their social duty of helping others to do good and refrain from what is wrong and evil. Describing good believers, God says in the Qur’an: “(They are) those who, when We firmly establish them on Earth, remain constant in prayer, and give in charity, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong. But with God rests the final outcome of all events.” (22: 41).
Prayer and zakah are given precedence over other types of Islamic worship because prayer, which is offered purely for God’s sake, has an important role in restraining people from committing sinful and evil deeds, while zakah has a beneficial effect on both the individual and the society.
In reference to zakah and other types of charity, God says in the Qur’an: “Take a portion of their wealth as charity, so that you may cleanse and purify them thereby; and pray for them: for your prayers are a source of comfort for them. God hears all and knows all.” (9: 103) This means that charity in general, and zakah in particular, work in such a way as to purify believing hearts. In fact, the very word, zakah, combines both sets of connotations: purification and growth. But the question is asked: What does it purify; and how does it bring about growth?
Zakah as a purifier
Zakah and other charity purifies the believers’ hearts of various negative feelings, such as a sense of guilt, envy, grudge, hostility, hatred, worry, isolation, as well as the feeling of being a social outcast. Divine wisdom necessitates that God grants people different aspects of His grace in different measures. Thus, some people are rich, while others are poor; some are healthy while others suffer from sickness, and some are physically strong while others are weak. But believers are brought up as God-fearing, nurturing a lively conscience and a compassionate attitude. A believer who enjoys an abundance of something other people have not been given will find that his active conscience will not let him enjoy such abundance fully while others are deprived. His conscience will be awakened every time he enjoys his blessings because others are not sharing that enjoyment, even though it may not be a necessity. Although he knows that he is not responsible for the fact that others do not have what he has been given in abundance, he will continue to feel ill at ease when he realizes that he has plenty while others have little. A sense of guilt has been experienced by a person who escapes a massacre or a concentration camp in war times, when others with him are killed. Such sense of guilt is felt by such a person simply because he manages to escape while others do not, even though he has no role in their fate. He realizes that his escape has not been at their expense, but simply that God has determined that he should live longer. If the case is so, we can imagine what feelings are experienced by a believer with a refined conscience when he has much to enjoy while others are deprived.
A believer will undoubtedly experience a feeling of guilt experienced by those who survive massacres and disasters. He will not be satisfied until he shares with those who are deprived something of the blessings he enjoys. Does this mean that he should give everything he has in charity so as to join the poor and share with them their deprivation? This is definitely a non-starter, as it is in direct conflict with human nature. Moreover, it remains at variance with Divine wisdom, which has dictated that people differ in the type and amount of the grace they receive from God. We can discern here the wisdom of imposing obligatory zakah or charity on a believer, which he pays out of what he has over and above his needs for a full year. We also appreciate the benefit of the precise determination of the amount of zakah one pays out.
It is merely 2.5 percent of one’s entire property that is not essential for his own and his family’s living. He may enjoy the other portion of 97.5 percent provided that he spends it in legitimate ways. When he has paid out that portion of zakah, he may enjoy the rest without a twinge of conscience. Should he give more to charity, as he is encouraged to do, he feels greater satisfaction. This is the case with a believer, whenever he or she decides voluntarily to do something good for God’s sake and in the hope of earning reward from Him only.
There are two conditions for Zakat to be obligatory on the wealth.
1. Being in possession of Nisab i.e. possessing property in excess of a minimum exemption limit.
2. On completion of one Lunar year on the wealth. According to Hanafi if a person possess wealth equal to or in surplus of Nisab in the beginning and at the end of the lunar year, (even though in between the year, the wealth was less than the Nisab), Zakat is obligatory, but if at the end of the lunar year if the wealth is less than the Nisab(though one had wealth equal to or in surplus during the year) zakat is not obligatory. According to Shafie the passage of one lunar year is a must on the wealth (Nisab) (in Hanbali almost a year). The zakat is calculated on the day on which a year is completed on that wealth (Nisab).
Zakat is paid on the surplus of wealth which is left over after the passage of a year (Lunar Year). It is thus a payment on the accumulated wealth, leaving our animal and agricultural yield. Zakat is paid at almost a uniform rate of 2 1/2%. The minimum standard of surplus of wealth over which Zakat is charged is known as Nisab. It differs with different kinds of property. In case of silver it is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), in case of gold it is 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams). The Nisab for cash is the same as that of gold and silver.
Zakat is obligatory of every Adult free Muslim man and woman provided the above two conditions are fulfilled. According to Imam Malik, Shafie and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Zakat is obligatory of the wealth of the Minor and insane person, and it has to be paid by the guardian. Where as according to Imam Abu Hanafi it is not obligatory. Since Zakat is an act of worship the intention is a must and hence it is not obligatory on the wealth of a minor and the insane person.
According to Imam Abu Hanafi and Imam Malik, the wife need not pay Zakat on the Mehr amount still due by her husband. However Zakat will have to be paid on the amount she has claimed provided it is equivalent to or more than the Nisab and on which one year has been completed. According to Imam Shafie the wife has to pay the Zakat every year (though she herself is not claiming the Mehr, even though it can be claimed). According to Hanbali the Wife has to pay the Zakat for the entire number of years at the time when she gets it.
All types of goods for sale, whatever may be its form, whether hand made or machine products or fruits or books or jewellery or clothes or cattle or property brought with the intention of buying and selling etc., are liable for zakat. Provided it is in one’s possession for one complete lunar year and the rate of zakat applicable is 2 1/2% on its total value. The prescribed limit on goods is after conversion, in terms of its value, the total amount thus evaluated must be equivalent to the price of 634 grams of silver. If less, then zakat is not obligatory.
If any wealth or property is held jointly by two or more persons, then according to Imam Abu Hanafi and Imam Malik Zakat is not obligatory on any person until each individuals share is equal to the value of the Nisab. Zakat on Silver, Gold, Currency and Shares. The minimum prescribed limit on which Zakat becomes obligatory on silver is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), and of gold 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams) and is known as Nisab. Zakat on silver or gold items is one fortieth of its weight, i.e. 2 1/2%. Zakat on silver or gold is not calculated on its value but on its weight. However if one possesses some gold and some silver and neither of them is in the prescribed limit, then if their total cost is equal to the price of 634 grams. of silver, Zakat becomes due on it.
Zakat is due on all the gold and silver ornaments, jewellery, and gold or silver lace woven into clothe, gold thread embroidered dresses for ladies, etc. Hadrath Umm Salmah says that she used to put on (gold) bracelets. When she asked the Holy Prophet whether it was Kanz (Hoarded wealth) he replied.
“ When a piece of property reaches upto the prescribed limit and Zakat is duly paid on it, it is not Kanz”.(Abu Dawood)
Imam Abu Hanafi, his disciples and some scholars hold the above opinion. According to Imam Malik, Shafie, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal and other scholars there is no Zakat on the woman’s ornaments. According to some other scholars the Zakat on ornaments is due only once in a lifetime. The difference of opinion among scholars is only on the ornaments in use by the woman, but there is a consensus among all the scholars that Zakat is liable on the excess of the ornaments held in possession as wealth.
Both these fall under the status of debt. According to Hanafi school of thought: Both of them are liable for Zakat for all the years and it has to be paid when out of it an amount equivalent to the value of 10 1/2 Tolas of silver or more is claimed. According to Hanbali school of thought also that Zakat is liable on both for all the years. It has to be paid when an amount equivalent to the Nisab or more is claimed.
According to Malliki school of thought the Zakat on Bank deposit is liable for all the years. And it has to paid when the amount is received. On the provident fund, since the person does not have any power to claim it, so Zakat is liable at the time when it is received and it has to be paid for one year only. According to Shafie school of thought the Zakat on the Bank Deposit has to be paid every year. The Zakat on provident fund has to be made for all the years and it has to be paid when he is entitled to receive it, though he may claim it or not in time.
The Prophet (e) said: “On a land irrigated by rain water or by natural water channels or if the land is wet due to a near by water channel Ushr (i.e. one-tenth) is compulsory (as Zakat); and on the land irrigated by the well, half of an Ushr (i.e. one twentieth i.e. 5%) is compulsory (as Zakat on the yield of the land)”.
A basic principle has been laid down for the Sadaqa (Zakat) in the agricultural produce. If the land is irrigated by artificial methods, one twentieth part (5%) of the yield is to be paid is irrigated by rainfall, streams, rivers, fountains or by the inner moisture of the earth, i.e., by natural resources of water, then one tenth (Ushr) 10% is to be paid as Zakat. There is some difference of opinion whether Ushr is levied on all types of agricultural yield or on some particular types.
According to Imam Abu Hanafi, Zakat is to be paid on all types of agricultural yield, provided the aim of cultivation is to improve upon the land and make it more useful for growing of crops. Thus only fuel, bamboo, grass and trees which bear no fruits are exempted from Zakat. He considers Zakat to be compulsory even on vegetables and fruits, which according to some Hadith, are exempted from Zakat. The scholars have reconciled the two views saying that the exemption granted in case of vegetables implies that the proceeds of the Zakat are not to be sent to the Bait ul Mal, but the owner may himself distribute it among the poor.
Ushr is to be paid at the time of harvest. Whereas in the other types of Zakat one should be in possession of the wealth for one complete year.
Zakat is obligatory on goats, sheep, cows, buffalos and camels which graze on wild grass, plant leaves and on some feed now and then given by the owner, and on the above animals meant for sale.
The Prophet (e) said: “By Allah in whose hand my life is, whoever had camels or cows or sheep and did not pay their Zakat, those animals will be brought on the Day of Resurrection far bigger and fatter than before and they will tread him under their hooves, and will butt him with their horns and (those animals will come in circle) when the last does its turn, the first will start again and this punishment will go on till Allah has finished the judgments amongst the people.” (Bukari)
Zakat on Minerals and hidden wealth is one twentieth 5%. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, minerals are classified into three groups:
1. Gold, Silver, Brass, Bronze, Iron etc.
2. Crude Oil, etc.
3. Diamonds, precious stones etc.
Zakat on the first group only is Waajib (compulsory) and is to be paid at the time of acquiring. Here minimum period of one year in possession does not apply.
1. Zakat cannot be given to a person who owns atleast 7 1/2 tolas of gold or 52 1/2 tolas of silver or equivalent wealth in cash, kind or in trade goods. If Zakat money is given to such a person, then the obligation will not be discharged. For such a person to receive and accept Zakat is forbidden and to use it is haraam.
If a person owns household goods over and above that which are necessary for his normal use, such as carpets, utensils or other goods which are owned and kept in possession but are hardly in frequent use, then such goods do not come under essentials but in accumulated wealth, and Zakat cannot be given to the person possessing them.
2. To non-Muslims
3. To some relatives: Zakat cannot be given to one’s mother, father, paternal and maternal grandparents, great grand-parents, etc. Likewise, Zakat cannot be given to one’s offspring-sons, daughters, grand-children, great grand-children, etc. Zakat cannot be given by husband to wife, nor by wife to husband. Except for these, Zakat can be given to other relatives such as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.
4. To children: The position of a minor child is linked with his or her father. If the father is wealthy, then the child will also be considered as rich and Zakat cannot be given to him If the father is poor enough to receive Zakat. but the mother is rich, then Zakat could be given to the child because the child’s financial position is linked with that of the father, not the mother.
5. To Sayyeds : Sayyeds are the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (e) through his daughter Fatima and the descendants of his uncle Abbas and his cousins Aqeel, Haris, etc., Zakat as well as Sadaqah and Fitra cannot be given to them.
6. Zakat cannot be given to a person in payment of services rendered by him or in payment of wages to a teacher, caretaker, etc. It can, however, be given to such a person as a gift, if desired.
7. Zakat cannot be given to domestic or other servants as wages. Zakat money can be given to them as a gift over and above the wages paid to them.
* One of the conditions of the discharge of Zakat is that the receiver must become the unfettered owner of the amount of Zakat paid to him.
* Zakat cannot be given for building repairing or maintaining a mosque because a mosque is a place of worship which does not belong to anyone.
* To pay debts of a deceased : If a poor man dies in debt and someone uses Zakat money to pay the debts of the deceased, then the actions will be invalid and the obligation to pay Zakat will not be discharged, because the deceased did not become owner of the money paid for the discharge of the debt.
The heirs of the deceased, however, if they are poor, can receive Zakat and discharge the debt of the deceased, if they desire to do so.
* To pay funeral expenses : Zakat money cannot be used to pay expenses relating to the funeral and burial of a person. But the heirs of the deceased, if they are poor, can receive and accept Zakat and use the money for the burial expenses of their deceased relative.
* Zakat must be given on, and from, a commodity-that is, a portion of the wealth itself can be given in charity to discharge the obligation. But we are also permitted to determine the Zakat due and give its value in cash The topic of Zakat in this series of articles has been dealt with in the light of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence.(SKH)
* Zakat -ul -Fitr is a type of Sadaqah which must be paid by every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave, at the end of the Month of Fasting (Ramadan).
* The purpose of Zakat -ul- Fitr is to purify one who fasts from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy.
* Zakat ul Fitr is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses one Sa of dates or barley which is not needed as a basic food for himself or his family for the duration of one day and night. Every free Muslim must pay Zakat ul Fitr for himself, his wife, children, and servants. (One Sa’ equals approximately three kilograms).
* The required amount of Zakat ul Fitr is one Sa’ of wheat, rice or corn or similar items considered as basic foods.
* Abu Hanifah made it permissible to set aside, as a Zakat ul Fitr, an equivalent value and also said that if the payer pays in wheat, one half of a Sa’ would be sufficient.
* Most scholars believe that it is permissible to pay Zakat ul Fitr a day or two before Eid. According to Abu Hanifah, it is permissible to pay it even before Ramadan. Ash-Shafi holds that it is permissible to do so at the beginning of Ramadan. Malik and Ahmad maintain that it is permissible to pay it only one or two days in advance.
Are you one of those people who rarely touches the Quran? Or do you read everyday, but don’t find it is having the impact on you that it should? Whatever the case may be, these are some simple tips that can help you connect with the Quran.
1. Before you touch it, check your heart!
The key to really benefitting from the Quran is to check your heart first, before you even touch Allah’s book. Ask yourself, honestly, why you are reading it. Is it to just get some information and to let it drift away from you later? Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was described by his wife Hazrat Aisha as a “walking Quran”: in other words, he didn’t just read and recite the Quran, he lived it.
2. Do your Wudu (ablution)!
Doing your Wudu is a good physical and mental preparation to remind you that you are not reading just another book. You are about to interact with God, so being clean should be a priority when communicating with Him.
3. Read only 5 minutes everyday!
Too often, we think we should read Quran for at least one whole hour. If you aren’t in the habit of reading regularly, this is too much. Start off with just five minutes daily. If you took care of step one, InshaAllah, you will notice that those five minutes will become ten, then half an hour, then an hour, and maybe even more!
4. Make sure you understand what you’ve read!
Five minutes of reading the Quran in Arabic is good, but you need tounderstand what you’re reading. Make sure you have a good translation of the Quran in the language you understand best. Always try to read the translation of what you’ve read that day .
5. Remember, the Quran is more interactive than a CD!
In an age of “interactive” CD-Roms and computer programs, a number of people think books are passive and boring. But the Quran is not like that. Remember that when you read Quran, you are interacting with Allah. He is talking to you, so pay attention.
6. Don’t just read, listen too!
There are now many audio cassettes and CDs of the Quran, a number of them with translations as well. This is great to put on your walkman or your car’s CD or stereo as you drive to and from work. Use this in addition to your daily Quran reading, not as a replacement for it.
When you play your CD or stereo you must pay attention if not, just switch it off.
7. Make Dua (supplication)!
Ask Allah to guide you when you read the Quran. Your aim is to sincerely, for the love of Allah, interact with Him by reading, understanding and applying His blessed words. Making Dua to Allah for help and guidance will be your best tool for doing this.
“Most surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and enjoin on each other truth, and enjoin on each other patience.” (Quran, 103:1-3)
Though the entire month of Ramadan are full of blessings and rewards, its last ten days hold a special status reflected in the recommendations and practices of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, and his companions. I will focus here on three major practices of the Prophet, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, and his companions during these days.
1. Praying in the last ten nights of Ramadan.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A narration in Muslim states: “He would strive [to do acts of worship during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time.” Aisha reported that With the start of the last ten days of Ramadan, the Prophet (Pbuh) used to tighten his waist belt (i.e. work hard) and used to pray all the night, and used to keep his family awake for the prayers. [Bukhari]
2. Performing I‘tikaf in the Masjid (seclusion in the Mosque)
I‘tikaf is the seclusion and staying in the mosque with the intention of becoming closer to Allah. This was the practise of the Prophet, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, during the last ten days of Ramadan especially. He would do it during other months as well.
‘Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, used to practise I`tikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, “Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadhan” [Bukhari]
3. Seeking Lailatul-Qadr (the Night of Decree)
It is the greatest night of the year like the Day of ‘Arafah is the greatest day of the year. It is a night about which Allah revealed a full Surah, Suratul-Qadr [97:1-5] and the 3rd to the 6th verses of Surat ad-Dukhan [44:3-6]
It is the night when the Qur’an was revealed. It is the night when the Message (the Final and seal of all messages) sent to Muhammad, Salla Allahu alaihi wa Sallam, started It is the night when the light, that would illuminate mankind to the end of life, started. It is the night when every matter of ordainment is decreed. A person who misses Lailatul-Qadr is really a deprived person!
The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: " Those who fast are destined to have two joys: one at the time of iftar and the other when they meet their Lord."
The observance of fasting during the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is a crash course in self-discipline, making us more aware of he necessity to do good and avoid evil and be more thankful to God for His Grace and compassion. Believers during that period spend longer than usual in their prayers and the recitation of the Quran and give more in alms. They also avoid lying, cheating, obstructing justice or oppressing their fellowmen.
Such selfless behaviour is required of believers, not only during Ramadan, but throughout their entire lives. Every believer-man and woman must observe the fast. But those who are ill during Ramadan or too old or on a journey may feed the poor instead or make up the days of fasting later on. The fast is not meant to cause any undue hardship.
Shafia Ahmed, ChennaiTop
1. If a person misses the ‘Eid prayer, he cannot offer it individually, for the ‘Eid prayer is conditioned upon congregation. Similarly, if the prayer of a person who joined in the congregation is invalidated due to some reason, he cannot offer it later as a missed prayer, nor is it incumbent upon him to do so. However, a few persons who have missed the prayer can get together and offer it if they so desire.
2. There is neither Azan nor Iqamah for the ‘Eid Prayers.
3. Women and the men who cannot offer the ‘Eid Prayers due to some reason, should not offer any voluntary prayer before the ‘Eid prayer’.
1. The Ahl al-Hadith scholars maintain the view that women and children have been enjoined to attend the ‘Eid prayer, because the ‘Eid, like the Friday Prayer, is a special feature of Islam, and the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself has exhorted the women to go to the ‘Eid ground.
Hadrat Umm’atiyyah has narrated; “The holy Prophet (Pbuh) commanded us that we should take un-married young girls and grown-up women, even the menstruating ones, along with us to the ‘Eid ground. The menstruating women, however, are not to attend the prayer, but should sit aside and keep on pronouncing the Takbir, and join only in the supplications. I asked, ‘O Prophet of Allah! what about those who do not have the over-garment to cover themselves up?” The holy Prophet (Pbuh) replied; The one having an over-garment should take her sister along with her.” (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi)
4. If a person joins the ‘Eid prayer when the Imam has already pronounced the Takbirs and is reciting the Quran, he should pronounce the Takbirs after expressing intention for the prayer. If he joins in the Ruku position, he should pronounce the Takbirs, instead of the usual Tashibh, without raising the hands. If the Imam resumes the standing position before the late-comer has been able to pronounce the required number of Takbirs, he should also resume the standing position after the Imam; the remaining Takbirs are excused.
5. If Imam forgets to pronounce the additional Takbirs and remembers this in the Ruku position, he should pronounce them even in that position instead of resuming the standing position for the purpose; but even if he resumes the standing position, the prayer will not be invalidated.
6. It is undesirable to say a voluntary prayer in the ‘Eid ground or elsewhere before or after the ‘Eid prayer’.
7. If a person has missed the ‘Eid Prayer, he should not say it later as a missed prayer, because the ‘Eid prayer cannot be said later individually.
8. Jurists have agreed that the ‘Eid prayer may be held at more than one place in the city. The people who cannot go out to the ‘Eid ground may offer the prayer in the city according to their convenience.
9. The recitation in the ‘Eid prayer is to be audible.
The Imam should preferably recite Surahs al-A’ala (87) and Al-Ghashiyah (88) or Surahs Qaf (50) and Al-Qamar (54) as was the practice of the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself.
The following eleven things have been prescribed to be done on Eid-ul-Fitr;
1. To rise early in the morning.
2. To brush the teeth.
3. To have bath for Eid after the Fajr Prayer.
4. To put on the best available dress.
5. To use perfume.
6. To arrange for one’s personal adornment and decoration.
7. To give away ‘Eid Charity (Zaka-ul-Fitr) before departure for the Eid ground.
8. To eat something sweet before going for the ‘Eid Prayer.
9. To reach the ‘Eid ground as early as possible.
10. To walk to the ‘Eid ground by one way and return by the other; however, there is no harm if one rides back home.
11. To pronounce the following Takbir on the way in a low voice.
Allah-u Akbar, Allah-u Akbar
Allah is greatest Allah is greatest
There is no God but Allah
wa-Allah-u Akbar, Allah-u Akbar
and Allah is greatest Allah is greatest
and all praise is for Allah.
1. The ‘Eid Sermon is Sunnat in nature, but listening to it is wajib (obligatory) for the audience.
2. The sermon should be delivered after the prayer, Hadrat Abu Sa’id says; “The holy Prophet (Pbuh) would first of all offer the Fitr or Adha Prayer; then he would stand up facing the people who kept on sitting in their rows and he would instruct them in religion. Then if he had to send out an army or had to give a special command to the people, he would do so. After this he would return home”. (Bukahri, Muslim)
”I accompanied the Holy Prophet (e) to the ‘Eid ground. He led the prayer and then gave the sermon. Then he approached the gathering of the women and gave them religious instructions and urged them to practise charity.” (Bukhari)
There are five days during the year on which it is forbidden to fast. These five days are: The two days of Eid and the three days of Tashreek, viz. 11th, 12th and 13th Zil-Hajj. (The 3 days following Eid-ul-Adhaa) fasting on these days is not valid.
Allah ta’la 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.” [al-Qur’an, 3:31]
This is a beautiful verse, as it tests how true one’s love of Allah is. They explained that if one loves Allah, then he must show that in his/her following of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh).
One of the ways to manifest our loving of Allah, by following the Prophet, is 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: Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) said: “He who fasts Ramadan, and six of Shawwal, it will be (in terms of rewards) as if the fasted a whole year.” [Reported by Muslim, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Daawood, Ahmad, Ibn Maajah]
In commenting on the above mentioned hadith, As-San‘ani said in Subul us-Salaam: “If the thirty days of Ramadan fasting are assimilated with the six days of fasting in Shawwal, it altogether makes 36 days. According to Shariah, 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. Some believe that 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.”
If it is easier for one to fast on weekends, then in that case one would still be following another sunnah at the same time: Umm Salama, radhiallaahu ‘anhaa, narrated: Allaah’s Messenger used to fast mostly on Saturday and Sunday, and he used to say: “They are the festival days for the mushrikeen, and I like to act contrary to them.” [an-Nasaa’ee, Ibn Khuzaymah, who graded it saheeh, and Ibn Hajar agreed]. But, again, this fast is not obligatory, rather only recommended. There is reward for whoever does it, and no blame upon anyone who leaves it.
" Acquire knowledge!" the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) used to tell his followers.
Seeking knowledge is the duty of every Muslim. It will enable you to be your own friend in the desert, it will be your mainstay in solitude, your companion in loneliness, your guide to happiness, your sustainer in misery, your adornment when you are amongst people and your arrow against your enemies. Whoever goes out in search of knowledge is on the path of Allah until returning." Another of the Prophet's sayings was that if anyone went on his way in search of knowledge, God would make it easy for him to find a way to paradise.
This type of lunisolar calendar is being used since last many centuries by the Hindus, the Jews and the Chinese. The Lunar months remain untied, so the seasons would produce some problems for the settled agricultural society. Farmers not only have to stay where they were, but increase their chances of a good harvest by sowing at a proper time to take advantage of the seasonal rains and seasonal warmth. Therefore to keep the lunar month approximately seasonal, an intercalary month is needed to be added in seven by each 19 lunar year cycle, known as 'Metonic' cycle. Note the mathematical calculations:
One solar year has 365 days, 5 hrs, 48 minutes and 46 seconds equivalent to 365.2422 days. 19 solar years are exactly equivalent to 235 lunations on lunar month, that is 19 lunar years plus 7 lunar months.
19x365.2422 = 6939.6018 days
235x29.5306 = 6939.688 days
The multiples are almost exactly equal to each other. The difference in the fraction of 0.0862 day is insignificant.
Each of the seven intercalary or leap year has 13 lunar months. These months are added in the 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17 and 19th year of each cycle in a popular scheme, which transforms the lunar calendar into a seasonal lunisolar calendar, in which months remain in pace with the sun to within 20 days. Diwali, Ganesh, Dasara, Holi and Easter which are calculated as per the lunar calendar, fall within a range of about 20 days. Such intercalary months before and during the Prophet's (PBUH) period was called the month of Kabisa or Laund, (Adhika or Mala in India).
Dr. Syed Abdul Zahir, M S, Islamic Astronomer, Tel: 6647960.Top