Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine
Ramadan / Shawwal 1423 H
December 2002
Volume 15-12 No : 192
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Soul Talk


Proud to be a "Stranger"
Fasting Six Days of Shawwal


Proud to be a "Stranger"

I find practising my faith in this world feels strange only so long asI surround myself with worldly things.

By Amber Rehman

Abdullah Ibn Masud, reported Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: ‘Islam began as something strange, and it will revert to being strange as it was in the beginning, so good tidings for the strangers.’ Some asked, ‘Who are the strangers?’ He said, ‘The ones who break away from their people (literally, tribes) for the sake of Islam.’ (Sahih Muslim, Ibn Majah).

There is an incredible lesson in the above Hadith, which we need to repeat to ourselves over and over again. As a 20-year-old Muslim, I find my practice of Islam feeling stranger by the day. There is a norm that we have to live upto in this society, and if we don’t meet it, we will be called strangers.

I did amazingly well in school and could talk my way out of anything when I was in high school, I was an average, over-achieving teenager, with a serious superficial streak. A great education and an even better career lay ahead of me. I was the master of my own destiny, what more could I ask for? I was no longer in control while I was planning my “sweet 16” bash. My grandfather, who I loved a lot, fell ill and passed away. Suddenly I wasn’t in control. I saw someone moving on to the unknown. I had never been so near death before.

The realisation hit then, that the tangible wasn’t the ultimate reality. I could no longer find reason, purpose or consolation in good grades, praise or even good looks. Everything lost its meaning for I saw my grandfather, without his worldly possessions, in a shroud. The only things he could take with him were his deeds and intentions.Everything finally made sense, for as I prayed for Allah to give him ease in his grave, I thought of mine, as I prayed to meet him again in the Akhira, I had to think of preserving mine. All I had ever strived for fell to pieces. As the Quran replaced my pointless and juicy novels, I realised that of all creation, Allah has created us with a conscious, and free will. Why would we let our free will work against us? Family, friends, and fortune are all relative, they would go as easy as they come. We had to take everything as a teacher, and learn to do better for the sake of our souls.

Could not be alone with myself. With all of this, it became apparent, that living with the norm of society, I wasn’t allowed to be alone with myself. I had to be surrounded with friends, or be reading some novel or other, and the music was always blaring in the background.

Silence was deafening and noise was the only peace. To communicate with Allah, and to pray, I felt strangeness when there was silence accompanied by peace as my heart turned to my Lord. Working to please myself, would have only given me peace in this life, but just the mere intention of doing things for the sake of Allah, would preserve this life and the next.

Other young Muslims who were once with me have lost the strangeness. Five years have passed. Now I find my brothers and sisters, who had commenced the search with me are now leaving the Deen. The folds of Islam are not satisfactory any more. When I ask them why their only answer is that Islam did not give anything back to them as a social system as a community. It did not feed their needs and their spiritual thirst. It had to do with the harshness of other Muslims. I wonder about this a lot since it affects my faith as well as the faith of those who say it. Even though Allah has created us and has preferred us as a Ummah, the Prophet (Pbuh) still acknowledged the time when there would be people struggling alone for righteousness. And the only answer I can come up with is that this world is mostly a sowing ground. We can’t reap everything here. That’s why there is a day of accountability which will restore justice and mercy. The strangeness does go away. Now as I struggle to maintain my Islam, I find practising my faith in this world feels strange only so long as I surround myself with worldly things and people. When I turn to Allah’s creation, I feel the strangeness fade away. If nature, as it is subservient to the Will of the Creator, has harmony when the wind blows and rustles its leaves, I don’t see why our souls and hearts can’t move to the same command. In our time, and our part of the world, if nothing is strange and nothing immoral, I guess it’s only good then, if we feel connected to the strange.

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Fasting Six Days of Shawwal

Shawwal is the tenth month in the lunar calendar. The first of Shawwal is Eid ul Fitr. After the festivity of Eid, it is recommended to observe six days of fast. This fast may be observed continuously or it may be observed one day at a time. If you observe it continuously, you may start on the fourth day and end on the ninth day of Shawwal, or you may select days at random, provided you complete six days before the end of Shawwal. For instance, you may observe the third, fifth, seventh, ninth, 14th and 15th day. Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari related that the Messenger of Allah, said:

“Whoever observes the Ramadan fast and follows it with six days of fast in Shawwal, it is as if he has fasted Dahr (the whole year).” (Bukhari) It has been mentioned that Dahr means the whole year. Possibly it may also mean forever, or for life.

Analysing this Hadith, our Ulama explained how according to this Hadith, a Muslim who fasts during Ramadan every year and follows it with six days fast of Shawwal, will be credited for fasting a whole lifetime.

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News| Community Roundup| Editorial| Readers Comments| Men, Machines and Methods| Globe Watch| Political Diary| Issues
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