Ramadan Is Not the End! It’s a New Start!

Ramadan Is Not the End! It’s a New Start!

By Editorial Staff

Kinds of people after Ramadan

1. The successful ones

The Blessed month of Ramadan during which Muslims have performed many acts of worship is now over. It acts as a witness for or against people.

Those who spared no effort to observe as many acts of worship as they could must be ecstatic with happiness. They hope that the month is not only a witness but that it is also their intercessor on the Day of Judgment.

Those who spared no effort to observe as many acts of worship as they could must be ecstatic with happiness. This is because they have successfully completed their fasting. They hope that the month is not only a witness but that it is also their intercessor on the Day of Judgment. Moreover, they have got rid of their past sins.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan with Faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The same reward is granted to those who also performed the tarawih (night prayer). Every Muslim who observed fasting and tarawih prays to Allah to accept their good deeds.

2. The Most successful ones

Out of precaution, good people fear that their actions are not accepted because of likely shortcomings that may be there in their worship. That’s why they ask Allah to accept their fasting, tarawih, recitation of the Quran, giving in charity and the other good deeds they have performed.

It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah,

“And those who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear.” (Quran 23:60)

Is this the one who commits adultery, steals and drinks alcohol?’

He said: ‘No, O daughter of Abu Bakr’ – O daughter of Siddiq – rather it is a man who fasts and gives charity and prays, but he fears that those will not be accepted from him.’” (Ibn Majah and Al-Tirmidhi)

Ibn kathir and Al-Albany declared this Hadith as authentic.

3. The unsuccessful ones

On the other hand, there are others who are happy because Ramadan is over. They do not like it to perform fasting and other acts of worship. Those lazy people often neglect performing the compulsory acts of worship. That’s why one can find the number of Muslims observing prayer in mosques decreases after Ramadan.

Such people should ask themselves whether their deeds are accepted. They should be truthful if they really seek Allah’s forgiveness and mercy.

Signs of acceptance

There are signs that denote that one’s good deeds are accepted. One of these signs is that one finds themselves more steadfast and unwavering in abiding by the rituals of Islam. The progress in worship and behavior Muslims make by the end of Ramadan denotes their success in benefitting from Ramadan.

On the contrary, there are people who have not made any progress. They are still lazy to do acts of worship. Thus, their condition after Ramadan is the same as or even worse than before it. This denotes non-acceptance of their worship.

In fact, they have not seized the opportunity to gain the great rewards of the blessed month. They may not have the chance to live until the next Ramadan. We ask Allah, Almighty, to guide such people to repentance and to shower them with His mercy.

Worship is not over after Ramadan

If the month of Ramadan is over, this does not mean the time of worship is over. Allah says,

“And worship your Lord (thus) – until the certainty (of death) comes to you.” (Quran 15:99)

We can understand from this aya that one should continue to worship Allah as long as he is alive because no one knows the specific time of his or her death. It’s everyone’s hope to die while they are in the best state of maintaining the rituals of Islam and closeness to Allah. To achieve this goal, one should consider the following aya. Allah says,

“O you who believe! Be ever God-fearing, with a fear justly due Him. And do not die, except while you are muslims, in willing submission to God (alone).” (Quran 3:102)

When interpreting this Aya, Imam Ibn Kathir, the great commentator of the Quran, said, “Preserve your Islam while you are well and safe, so that you die as a Muslim. The Most Generous Allah has made it His decision that whatever state one lives in, that is what he dies upon and is resurrected upon. We seek refuge from dying on other than Islam.”

In fact, good deeds should still be observed all the year round. Fasting, performing night prayer, reciting the Gracious Quran, giving in charity, making du’aa (supplication) and enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil are just a few examples. Let us look at one or two of these kinds of worship!

Fasting

Although fasting is compulsory in Ramadan, it is still recommended in the other months. In Shawwal, it is recommended to fast six days.

Abu Ayyub (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “He who observes Al-Sawm (the fasts) in the month of Ramadan, and also observes Al-Sawm for six days in the month of Shawwal, it is as if he has observed Al-Sawm for the whole year.” (Muslim)

One can start to perform those six days from Shawwal 2 because it is prohibited to fast the first day of Shawwal. They may be observed consecutively or separately during the month.

The other supererogatory fasts

The other recommended fasts during the year include fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, and for three days every month, the 13th, the 14th and the 15th.

The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) would also encourage Muslims to do more acts of worship on the first nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month in the lunar calendar. This includes fasting on those days. Moreover, the reward for fasting on the Day of Arafat, the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah, is the forgiveness of the sins of two years, one before and one after that day. It should be noted that it is not recommended for the pilgrim to fast the Day of Arafat. The reward of the pilgrim for standing on Arafat and doing other acts of worship is the forgiveness of all past sins. So, the pilgrim does not fast on that day to be better able to do more acts of worship.

It is also highly recommended to fast a lot of days of Al-Muharram, the first month in the lunar calendar. Fasting the 10th day of Al-Muharram forgives the sins of the previous year. Also, Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) used to fast most days of Sha’ban.

The night prayer

The night prayer is not exclusively recommended in Ramadan. It can still be performed at every night of the year.

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: The most excellent fast after Ramadan is Allah’s month al-Muharram, and the most excellent prayer after the prescribed prayer is the prayer during night. (Muslim)

The night prayer is one of the best acts of worship that brings the Muslim closer to Allah. In addition, it is a symbol of goodness and excellence. Allah says,

“Little of the night did they lie down. For at night’s end they were seeking (God’s) forgiveness.” (Quran 51: 17-18)

Reciting the Gracious Quran

Reciting the Gracious Quran should be part and parcel of the Muslim’s everyday life. There are several ayat (verses) from the Quran and many hadiths that encourage Muslims to read the Quran, study its meanings and reflect upon its admonitions. The Muslim should spend some time to do this even if it is ten minutes. Allah says,

“Indeed, those who recite the Book of God, and who (duly) establish the Prayer, and who spend (charitably) from what We have provided them, secretly and openly- they have hope in a (blessed) transaction that shall never come to ruin- that He may give them their rewards (in full) and increase them evermore from His bounty. Indeed, He is all-forgiving, ever-thankful.” (Quran 35: 29-30)

There are a lot of other acts of worship which every Muslim should do a share of it. May Allah accept our and your good deeds! Ameen!

 

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Etiquette and Legal Rulings of the `Eid Day

Etiquette and Legal Rulings of the `Eid Day

‘Eid al-Fitr (festival of fast-breaking) and ‘Eid al-Ad-ha (festival of sacrifice) are the only two main festivals in Islam.

There are certain acts of worship and etiquette Muslims should observe on those days to express their gratitude to Allah.  Among these acts of worship is the ‘Eid prayer. Allah says,

“Rather, (He wills) for you to complete the number (of prescribed days) _ and that you shall extol God for (the blessing of faith to) which He has guided you, so that you may give thanks (to Him alone for easing its way and establishing you therein).” (Quran 2: 185)

There are certain acts of worship and etiquette Muslims should observe on those days to express their gratitude to Allah.

The legal ruling regarding the `Eid prayer

Scholars hold different opinions concerning performing the ‘Eid prayer. There are three rulings as follows:

1. Individually obligatory

This means that every Muslim must perform it. This is the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifah and Shaikh al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah. They quoted the following Hadith to support their opinion:

Umm ‘Atiyya reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) commanded us to bring out on ‘Eid al-Fitr (festival of fast-breaking) and ‘Eid al-Ad-ha (festival of sacrifice) young women, menstruating women and purdah-observing ladies, menstruating women kept back from prayer, but participated in goodness and supplication of the Muslims. I said: Messenger of Allah, one of us does not have an outer garment (to cover her face and body). He said: Let her sister cover her with her outer garment. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

They interpret the commandment in the hadith to mean obligation. Although it is not obligatory for women to perform the prayer in congregation, the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered them to witness the ‘Eid prayer. This, in turn, means that it is obligatory for men.

2. Collectively obligatory

This means that the ‘Eid prayer must be performed. Here, not every single person falls under the obligation. A group can perform the obligation on behalf of others.

This opinion is, however, not that strong. If the ‘Eid prayer is collectively obligatory, women won’t fall under the obligation which is in contradiction with the above mentioned Hadith.

3. Sunnah or recommended

If we take the following Hadith into consideration, we can understand the commandment in the above mentioned hadith to mean recommendation. This is the opinion of the majority of the scholars.

A man from Najd with unkempt hair came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “You have to offer prayers perfectly five times in a day and night (24 hours).” The man asked, “Is there any more (praying)?” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) replied, “No, but if you want to offer the Nawafil (voluntary) prayers (you can).” … And then that man retreated saying, “By Allah! I will neither do less nor more than this.” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If what he said is true, then he will be successful (i.e. he will be granted Paradise).”  (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The time of ‘Eid prayer

The ‘Eid prayer has the same time as Duha prayer. Duha means the morning sunshine. In the technical usage it refers to a specific time that starts about 10 or 15 minutes after the sunrise and finishes 10 or 15 minutes before the Dhuhr (noon) prayer or before it’s high noon i.e. when the sun starts to move from its highest point in the sky towards the direction of the sunset.

The place of its performance

It is recommended that the ‘Eid prayer be performed in the open, namely, outside mosques in a wide place. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) used to perform it in the desert. However, the place should be near so that it can be easy for people to attend.

It is reprehensible to perform the ‘Eid prayer in mosques without any legal excuse.

The recommended acts of the Day of ‘Eid

1. Eating before ‘Eid prayer on ‘Eid al-Fitr and after it on ‘Eid al Ad-ha

On ‘Eid al-Fitr, it is recommended to eat dates or something else if there is not any before going out to perform the prayer. This shows how obedient Muslims are in hastening to fulfill Allah’s commands by breaking the fast.

On ‘Eid al-Ad-ha, it is recommended to eat after the ‘Eid prayer. If a person offers a sacrifice on this day, it is recommended to eat from what they offered.

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) never proceeded (for the prayer) on the Day of ‘Eid al-Fitr unless he had eaten some dates. Anas also narrated: The Prophet (ﷺ) used to eat odd number of dates.

2. Going out for the ‘Eid prayer in the early hours of the morning

One can go out after performing the fajr (Dawn) prayer. Only the Imam can come on the time of the prayer.

Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:

The Prophet (ﷺ) used to proceed to the Musalla (the place of the prayer) on the days of ‘Eid al-Fitr and ‘Eid al-Ad-ha; the first thing to begin with was the prayer… (Al-Bukhari)

3. Going to the place of the prayer on foot

Legal excuses such as sickness, the place for prayer is far, etc. allow the person to ride.

4. Taking a ritual bath and to putting on perfume

Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to take a ritual bath before proceeding to perform the ‘Eid prayer.

5. Wearing clean and nice clothes

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Buy this cloak and adorn yourself with it on the ‘Eid festivals and on meeting the delegations.” (Al-Bukhari)

6. Going through one route and returning through another one

Scholars say the wisdom behind that is to emulate Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). There are other opinions regarding this, however, this is the preferred one.

Jabir (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

On the occasion of the ‘Eid, the Prophet (ﷺ) would proceed to the prayer place taking one route and returning from another. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7. Reciting Takbir in a loud voice

Allah says,

“Rather, (He wills) for you to complete the number (of prescribed days) _ and that you shall extol God for (the blessing of faith to) which He has guided you, so that you may give thanks (to Him alone for easing its way and establishing you therein).” (Quran 2: 185)

‘Extol God’ means to say takbir. One starts to recite takbir when he comes out of his house and after he reaches the place of the prayer. This continues till the time of the prayer.

The majority of scholars are of the opinion that the time for takbir on ‘Eid al-Fitr starts from after the dawn prayer until the time for performing the ‘Eid prayer. Others say that it starts immediately after seeing the new moon of the month of Shawwal.

On ‘Eid al-Ad-ha, there are two kinds of takbir with regard to the time of saying it: The first kind, which is recited at any time, starts from the first day of Dhul-Hijjah until the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah. Moreover, the second kind, which is recited after every obligatory prayer, starts from the Fajr (dawn) prayer on the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah until the ‘Asr (afternoon) prayer on the 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah.

There are many forms of takbir. The following is one of the most famous:

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, laa ilaha ill-Allah, wa Allahu akbar, Allah akbar, wa Lillaah il-hamd (Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great, there is no god but Allah, Allah is the Most Great, Allah is the Most Great, and for Allah is all praise).

8. Offering congratulations

Different expressions can be used here such as ‘may Allah accept our and your good deeds’ or ‘Eid Mubarak’ (I wish you a blessed ‘Eid), etc.

 

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A Closer Look at the Virtues of Sha’ban

Sha’ban is the month when people’s actions are presented before Allah

In the name of Allah, all praise is for Allah alone, blessings and peace of Allah be upon Allah’s Messenger Muhammad.

Sha’ban before and after Islam

Sha’ban is the eighth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The name is derived from the root word ‘sha’ab’ which means to scatter or disperse. During the pre-Islamic period, Arabs used to scatter in this month in search of water. It is also said that they did that to make predatory incursions. This is because Sha’ban is preceded by the month of Rajab, one of the four sacred months of the Islamic lunar year, during which Arabs who lived before Islam did not use to commit such crimes. Sha’ban is followed by the month of Ramadan in which Muslims perform the fourth pillar of Islam i.e. Siyam (Fast). There are many other acts of worship whose performance is far more recommended in Ramadan such as performing the night prayer in congregation, reciting the Gracious Qur’an, giving to charity, etc. Thus, Sha’ban, the month that the Prophetic traditions point out that it receives less attention by most people, comes between two very important months whose virtues are very well known to many Muslims.

Actions of people are submitted to Allah on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. That should help and encourage Muslims to increase their worship and overcome any shortcomings affecting their worship. It should be noted that Allah does know everything that happens in the earth and in the heaven. Nothing escapes His knowledge as He is all-aware of all that people do.

Actions are presented before Allah twice a day:

Abu Huraira reported:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Angels take turns among you by night and by day, and they all assemble at the dawn and afternoon prayers. Those (of the angels) who spend the night among you, then, ascend, and their Lord asks them, though He is the best informed about them: How did you leave My servants? -they say: We left them while they were praying and we came to them while they were praying. (Muslim)

Scholars said that this hadith is a proof that actions are presented to Allah daily. As for the reason for the question asked by Allah to the angels, it points out that there always are people who worship Allah sincerely along with the angels. Before Adam (peace be upon him) was created as a successor upon the earth, the angels thought he would spread corruption and shed blood. It becomes clear that those who worship Allah and refrain from committing mischief are the successful ones in his regard.  This means they have succeeded in being good human successors upon the Earth.

Actions are also presented before Allah twice a week:

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “People’s deeds are presented before Allah on Mondays and Thursdays, and then every slave (of Allah) is granted forgiveness (of minor sins) if he does not associate anything with Allah in worship. But the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother, will not be pardoned. With regard to them, it is said twice: ‘Hold these two until they are reconciled’.”

This Hadith stresses the importance of worshipping Allah alone and warns against committing any actions that are related to shirk (polytheism). It also encourages Muslims to maintain close links, to love each other, to care for each other, etc. This is how the Muslim community should look like. In Islam, there should be no room for heart’s bad qualities such as hatred, spleen, jealousy. Having purified their hearts and souls from shirk and other diseases, Muslims will have their sins forgiven and Allah’s mercy will shower them.

Actions are presented before Allah yearly:

Usamah bin Zaid said:

“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do not see you fasting any month as much as Shaban.’ He said: ‘That is a month to which people do not pay much attention, between Rajab and Ramadan. It is a month in which the deeds are taken up to the Lord of the worlds, and I like that my deeds be taken up when I am fasting.”‘ (Sunan an-Nasa’i 2357)

Although his actions are perfect, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) liked that his actions are presented when he is fasting. Many of the Muslims’ actions may harbor clear deficiencies. To make up for such deficiencies, Muslims are encouraged to observe those recommended acts of worship. Moreover, Muslims should be keen on emulating Prophet Muhammad so that they can have their sins forgiven.  In fact, it is recommended to fast on Mondays and Thursdays and to fast many days of Sha’ban. Some scholars hold the opinion that the recommended fast during Sha’ban before the obligatory fast during Ramadan resembles the recommended prayer performed by Muslims before the obligatory congregational prayer. ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) used to fast in Sha’ban the obligatory days she could not fast during the last Ramadan.

There are other Hadiths that highlight that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to fast most days of Sha’ban. However,  as for the hadith that reads:

Abu Hurairah (RAA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“When it is the middle of Sha’ban do not fast (until it is Ramadan).”

There is a disagreement among scholars of Hadith concerning it. The great scholars Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Imam Yahya ibn Ma’in, ibn ‘ady and Al-Shawkany declared this Hadith as weak. Other scholars such as Imam ibn al-Qayim and Imam Al-Albany hold the opinion that the Hadith is sound. In the latter case, the hadith is interpreted as to disallow the person to start to fast after the middle of Sha’ban. There is no problem to fast after the middle of the month so long as the person fasts regularly on Mondays and Thursdays or has fasted before the middle. The preferred opinion is the first one as the above mentioned Hadith is contradicted by the Hadith that prevent a Muslim to fast the last day or last two days of Sh’aban.

The 15th night of sha’ban

There are many misconceptions and innovations in religion people practice at that night. According to scholars of Hadith, There is no authentic hadith concerning the 15th night of Sha’ban. However, Imam Al-Albany is of the opinion that a very few number of Hadith are Hasan (good) because they are related through many weak chains of narrations that strengthen one another making the hadiths acceptable. The Hadiths have almost the same meaning. So, it will be enough to quote one of them:

“Allah looks down on the night of the middle of Sha’ban and forgives all His creation, apart from the idolater and the Mushahin (the person in whose heart there is rancour against his brother).”

Another thing is that some people also have a misconception about the following aya (verse of the Qur’an):

(In that blessed night, every wise affair is determined) (Qur’an: 44:4)

They think that this is the 15th night of Sha’ban. This is not correct as the context makes it clear that this is the Ramadan’s Night of Majesty that marks the revelation of the Gracious Qur’an.

 

In short, there are no special acts of worship that should be performed during that night or the following day the 15th. All the Hadiths that are mentioned in this regard are weak. If there is anything to be observed, it will be to fast most days of Sha’ban, avoid committing any acts of shirk and to purify one’s heart from hatred, grudge, enmity, and so on.

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How to Prepare for Ramadan in Sha`ban

How to Prepare for Ramadan in Sha`ban

By Editorial Staff

To get the best of Ramadan, insha’Allah, one needs to prepare well and put the plan before the precious month knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

Be a Winner in Ramadan

It is the month of the year, and the actual loser is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven in it as narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

The tips below discuss how to make actual and useful preparation for the precious month without dumping into details.

Ramadan

To get the best of Ramadan one needs to prepare well and put the plan before Ramadan knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

1- Supplicate Allah to prolong your life to attend Ramadan, bless it for you, accept your good deeds in it and forgive your shortcomings.

2- Make a sincere repentance from all sins and evil deeds, regret them, and ask Allah to help you not to turn again to them.

3- Keep away from the misdeeds that displease Allah and incur his Wrath upon you.

4- Always renew your repentance to Allah and your commitment with Him.

5- Strive to observe the obligatory prayers at their due times in congregation so that it will be easy for you to continue on this in and after Ramadan.

6- If you are not in the habit of offering the supererogatory prayers, try to do some of them and move on to do all of them.

7- Rectify your intention, make all your actions sincerely to Allah, the Almighty, Alone.

8- As the utmost goal of fasting is attaining Taqwa (righteousness and fear of God), facilitate its realization by the different means of Taqwa, such as remembering Allah, reading about the stories of the earlier generations, contemplation on the Qu’ran, thinking about death and the Hereafter, and so on.

9- Abandon TV series and movies that include prohibited scenes.

10- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. use up most of our free time. From now on, give Qur’an, dhikr, Salah, etc. the greater time to prepare for the month of the Qur’an and Salah; Ramadan.

11- Recitation of the Qur’an in Ramadan is the month’s worship, so make the Qur’an your companion by starting recitation from now and learning the rules of Tajweed.

12- If you have a missed fast from the former Ramadan, make up for them in Sha`ban, as Lady `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) used to do.

13- Accustom yourself to long du`aa’ (supplication), memorize some of the reported supplications of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and remember that the supplication of the fasting person is accepted.

13- Accustom yourself to long stay in the mosque after each Prayer, in preparation for i`tikaf in the month.

14- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

15- Follow the Prophet’s example in fasting in Sha`ban, as he used to fast most of the month of Sha`ban. Do not forget that this makes fasting in Ramadan easy for you.

To get the best of Ramadan, in sha’ Allah, one needs to prepare well and put the plan before Ramadan knocks the door without being ready to receive it.

Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

16- Save some money to give in Sadaqah (charity) in Ramadan and start from now.

17- Start offering 2 rak`ahs (unit of Prayer) daily and increase the number from time to time during the night in preparation for tarawih (supererogatory night prayer).

18- Prepare yourself to make `Umrah in Ramadan, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “`Umrah in Ramadan equals Hajj with me (in reward).” (Al-Bukhari)

19- Among the best acts in this precious month is feeding the fasting persons, prepare yourself for it.

20- Map out your time and put a schedule to commit to it during the month in order to help you achieve the acts of worship you aim at.

21- Find righteous companions who would assist you in getting closer to Allah.

21- If you are a smoker, you should bear in mind that Ramadan is a good chance for you to quit. Start from now and minimize the number of cigarettes until you rid yourself of this bad habit that devour your money and health and incurs the displeasure of God.

23- The month of Ramadan is the month where the Qur’an is revealed. Thus, it is the best time to memorize the Qur’an. Let’s start from Sha`ban.

24- We all know that people use in Ramadan a lot of the types of food and drinks, we do not mind this on a condition of avoiding wastefulness. I suggest that you buy these things in Sha`ban to be free for worship only in Ramadan.

25- Maintain the ties of kinship before the coming of the blessed month and remember that Allah does not accept the deeds of those who disrupt these ties.

26- Some people simulate poorness despite that they are not so. Thus, find the actual poor people to be the right place for your Sadaqah.

27- Some people pay their Zakat in Ramadan to take the reward multiplied.

28- Accustom yourself to good manners, because the fasting person is not expected to react violently or indecently.

29- Bring your youngsters and tell them about the merits of Ramadan and the virtues of fasting in it so that they prepare themselves for fasting as much as they can.

30- Congratulate each other with the coming of the Holy Month.

These are 30 tips about the preparation for the blessed month of Ramadan that every one of us can do while receiving this month.

_________________________

 

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Merits and the Virtues of Sha`ban

Merits and the Virtues of Sha`ban

Sha`ban is a month of good that introduces the great month of Ramadan. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to fast voluntarily during this month more so than in any other month.

One of the motivations for that, as we will mention below, is that Sha`ban is the month during which the deeds performed by the servant ascend to God. What follows is a discussion around fasting during the month of Sha`ban.

Usamah  ibn Zayd relates:  “The Prophet used to fast so many days in succession that we said, ‘He will never break his fast.’ At other times he would go without fasting for so long until we said, ‘He will never again fast;’ except for two days, which he would fast even if they occurred during the times he was not fasting consecutive days. Furthermore, he would not fast in any month as many days as he fasted during Sha`ban.

I said: ‘O Messenger of God! Sometimes you fast so much it is as if you will never break your fast, at other times you leave fasting for such a long stint it is as if you will never again fast (voluntarily); except for two days that you always fast.’ He asked: ‘Which two days are those?’ I replied: ‘Monday and Thursday.’ The Prophet said: ‘Those are two days in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds are presented while I am fasting.’ I said: ‘I do not see you fasting in any month like you fast during Sha`ban.’ The Prophet said: “That is a month occurring between Rajab and Ramadan that many people neglect. It is a month in which the deeds ascend to the Lord of the worlds, be He Mighty and Majesty, and I love for my deeds to ascend while I am fasting.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)

The narrations conveying this meaning are numerous. Among the important points conveyed by the tradition narrated by Usamah (may God be pleased with him) is that the Prophet frequently fasted during Sha`ban, as is supported by a tradition mentioned by `A’ishah (may God be pleased with her). She said: “I did not see the Messenger of God fast any month in its entirety except Ramadan, and I did not see him fast as frequently in any other month as he did during Sha’ban.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Among the reasons for that, as mentioned in the initial tradition, is that Sha`ban is the month in which the deeds done throughout the year ascend to God. The Prophet (peace upon him) wished for his deeds to ascend while he was fasting. This should be sufficient motivation for all of us to fast some days of this month.

Fasting purifies us of the physical dross that collects in our system and makes our spiritual faculties sharper. What could be a better state could we be in as our deeds are ascending to our Lord? However, there are other reasons to fast during this month, which we will present shortly.

Islam & Moderation

Another very important point that we can gain from these narrations is that the Prophet did not fast perpetually, even though it would not have weakened him to do so. In this is an important lesson for us. We should balance between the days that we fast and the days that we refrain from fasting. Ibn Rajab mentions many reasons for this. Among them are the following:

1- For many people, excessive fasting leads to languidness that in turn makes it difficult for them to supplicate or invoke God or to undertake intense study. All four of the Sunni Imams mention that studying sacred knowledge is better than supererogatory prayers, and that supererogatory prayers are better than voluntary fasting. Hence, pursuing sacred knowledge is naturally better than voluntary fasting.

2- Just as fasting may make some people languid and hence affect their worship, it may weaken them and thereby compromise their ability to provide for their families or jeopardize their ability to fully satisfy their wives. This latter meaning is implied in the saying of the Prophet: “Surely your wife has a right over you.”

3- Similarly, a person’s body has a right over him, as indicated by the Prophet’s saying: “Indeed your body has a right over you. Be sure to give everyone so deserving his right.”

4- Finally, a person’s life might be long, as indicated by the Prophet’s saying to `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas when the latter committed himself to fast every other day: “Perhaps you will live a long life”.

This means whoever commits to an overly strenuous regimen of worship during his youth might not be able to maintain that regimen during his old age. If he tries his utmost to do so he might exhaust his body.

On the other hand, if he abandons it he has left the best form of worship, that done most consistently. For this reason, the Prophet mentioned: “Undertake religious practices you can bear. I swear by God, God does not become bored with you, rather you bring boredom upon yourself”.

The important issue here is to understand that Islam does not demand that we torture our selves, and it places no virtue in doing so. When a desert Arab who had accepted Islam returned after a year’s absence to see the Prophet his entire appearance had changed to such an extent that the Prophet did not recognize him. When he finally realized who he was, the man said to him: “I have not eaten during the daytime since I entered Islam!” The Prophet asked him: “Who ordered you to torture yourself!?”  (Abu Dawud)

Another point mentioned by many of the scholars in that regard is that by fasting sometimes and then going some days without fasting, we never reach a state where we totally lose our appetite for food and thereby lose the physical challenge of fasting. For this reason the Fast of David, where the worshipper fasts every other day, is considered more virtuous than the fast of the individual who fasts perpetually, as the latter eventually feels no longing to eat during the day of his fast—he might even become sick were he to eat.

Sha`ban & Good Deeds

Sha`ban is the month in which the deeds done throughout the year ascend to God.

Therefore, the Prophet wished for his deeds to ascend while he was fasting.

The tradition of Usamah mentions that people’s deeds are presented to God on Mondays and Thursdays, and the Prophet loved to have his deeds presented while he was fasting. There are many narrations that affirm this reality.

Ibn Majah relates a tradition from the narrations of Abu Hurairah, where he mentions the Prophet saying: “God forgives every Muslim on Monday and Thursday, except those who have broken relations with each other. He says, ‘Leave them until they reconcile’.”

Imam Muslim mentions a similar narration from Abu Hurairah in which he mentions that the Prophet said: “The gates of Heaven are flung open on Monday and Thursday and every servant who has not ascribed partners to God is forgiven, except a man who harbors enmity against his brother. He (God) says, ’Leave these two until they makeup’”. A different version of this tradition mentions at the end of the narration: ”…and people who despise each other are left harboring their spite”.

These narrations emphasize the importance of maintaining good relations. There are other religiously significant actions where a reward is withheld from those who harbor enmity or have bad relations with their peers.

Therefore, it is extremely important that we work to maintain good relations with each other, and avoid petty bickering. The opportunity to do much good for our souls is missed when we fail to maintain good relations with each other.

The presentation of people’s deeds mentioned in these narrations is a specific one that occurs on these particular days. It does not contradict the general presentation that occurs on a daily basis, as related in the following tradition: “By night and by day the angels follow each other in visiting you. They gather (before God) at the time of the morning and evening prayers. God asks those who spent the night among you, and He knows best the answer, ‘In what state did you leave my servants?’ They say, ‘We came to them while they were praying, and we departed from them while they were praying.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

There are other reasons we are encouraged to fast in Sha`ban, Ibn Rajab mentions a few. Among them, in summary:

1- People tend to neglect Sha`ban as it occurs between Rajab, one of the sacred months, and Ramadan, the great month of fasting and Qur’an. Therefore, we are encouraged to fast it by way of reviving it and not neglecting it.

2- Fasting during it is easier to hide. All observant Muslims are fasting in Ramadan, and many place great emphasis on fasting during Rajab. Therefore, those who fast Sha`ban are doing so against the expectations of most people and can therefore more easily hide the fact that they are fasting.

There is great virtue, under normal circumstances in hiding our voluntary acts. One anecdote in this regard mentions a man who fasted voluntarily for forty years without anyone knowing it, even his family. Every morning he would leave home with two loaves of bread in his hand. He would give them away in charity. His family thought that he was eating them, and the people in the marketplace where he worked thought that he was selling them.

3- A third reason is related to the previous one. Because many people are fasting during Ramadan and Rajab, it is easier to fast then as large groups engaging in a particular act of worship make it easier for an individual to undertake that act. Hence, the increased difficulty of fasting during Sha`ban led the Prophet to place great emphasis on it.

In conclusion, we encourage everyone able to do so to fast as much as possible during this month. By so doing we will revive the Sunnah of our Prophet and bring much good to our souls and to our communities.

May everyone be blessed to use these days as a preparation for the great month of Ramadan, and may our deeds ascend to God while we are in the very best spiritual state.

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Source: newislamicdirections.com.

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Polytheism: Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism: Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism or ascribing partners to Allah (the Exalted) nullifies faith in the Oneness of Allah and since the most important and greatest obligation in Islam is to have faith in the Oneness of Allah and to single Him out for worship alone, then clearly the worst sin possible is to ascribe partners to Him.

Polytheism.. Its Meaning and Categories

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience.

It is the only sin that Allah, the Most Merciful, never forgives, as stated in the Qur’an:

Verily! Allah forgives not (the sin of) setting up partners in worship with Him, but He forgives whom He pleases sins other than that, and whoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, has indeed strayed far away. (An-Nisaa’ 4:116)

Worst Sin

And when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked which sin is the worst in the sight of Allah, he replied:

“To ascribe partners to Allah while He created you.”

Polytheism corrupts and invalidates acts of obedience, thus an act of obedience is not accepted and the slave is not rewarded when accompanied by the occurrence of polytheism, as Allah has stated in the Qur’an:

If they had joined In Worship others with Allah, All that they used to do would have been of no benefit to them. (Al-An`am 6:88)

Polytheism requires that its perpetrator be doomed to Hell forever if he dies as a polytheist, as Allah the Most High has stated in the Qur’an:

Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. (Al-Ma’idah 5:72)

Categories of Polytheism

Polytheism is divided into two categories:

First: Major Polytheism which is in opposition to the very foundation of faith in the Oneness of Allah and expels a person from the religion of Islam.

Second: Minor Polytheism which is in opposition to having complete faith in the Oneness of Allah, however it does not expel a person from the religion of Islam.

First Category: Major Polytheism

It is to divert any form of worship to anyone beside Allah such as calling upon someone other than Allah- for something that only Allah is able to do- entrusting one’s affairs to someone other than Him, or prostrating to anything as a form of worship. Allah has said in the Qur’an:

And invoke not besides Allah, any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you, but if (in case) you did so, you shall certainly be one of the wrong-doers. (Yunus 10:106)

“Wrong-doers” here means ‘polytheists’. And Allah said:

And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed. (Al-Ma’idah 5:23)

And Allah said:

So fall you down in prostration to Allah, and Worship Him (Alone). (An-Najm 53:62)

Since calling upon, entrusting one’s affairs, and prostrating are acts of worship that Allah has commanded, whoever diverts them to Allah is someone who has faith in the Oneness of Allah, and whoever diverts them to anything besides Allah is a polytheist.

Moreover assigning partners to Allah by obeying them in what they make permissible and prohibited falls under this category of polytheism, as Allah informs us in the Qur’an:

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah and (They also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but one God (none has the Right to be worshiped but He) Praise and Glory be to him, (Far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (At-Tawbah 9:31)

This verse was revealed in regards to the Jews and Christians who obey their rabbis and priests regarding their making permissible what Allah forbids and their prohibiting what Allah permits. On the authority of `Adi ibn Hatim (may Allah be pleased with him):

I came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) wearing a golden cross around my neck. He said:

“`Adi! Throw away this idol,” and I heard him recite the verse:

“They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah” (At-Tawbah 9:31)

He said: “Verily they were not worshiping them, however when their monks and rabbis made something lawful for them, they deemed it permissible; and when their monks and rabbis made something unlawful, they deemed it as forbidden.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Second Category: Minor Polytheism

It is anything that leads to the major polytheism and it is divided into two parts:

1- Apparent Polytheism

Apparent Polytheism can be committed with words or actions. It is committed with words by doing things like swearing oaths by other than Allah, such as swearing by the Prophet Mohammed or Jesus (peace be upon them), and by saying ‘Things will happen according to whatever Allah and you will’. For indeed the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said:

“Whoever swears by other than Allah then he has fallen into disbelief or polytheism.” (At-Tirmidhi)

And the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied to the one who said: “Whatever Allah wills and you will”:

“Have you made me equal to Allah? Rather say, what Allah wills alone.” (Ahmad)

Apparent polytheism is committed through actions such as wearing amulets and threads used as charms to ward off misfortune, and believing that they are a reason nfor that happening.

2- Hidden Polytheism

It is the polytheism that is related to intentions and wishes such as doing something to show off and for the sake of reputation, such that the act is not done for the sake of Allah the Exalted, rather it is done seeking praise or compliments from people. For example, a person might pray or fast so that people will say how upright or excellent his religious commitment is. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“The thing that I fear most for you is Minor Polytheism.” They said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is Minor Polytheism?” He said: “Showing off. Allah will say to them on the Day of Judgment when people are being rewarded for their deeds: ‘Go to those for whom you were showing off in the worldly life, and see if you find a reward with them.” (Ahmad)

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The article is excerpted from the book “A Beneficial Summary of Rulings for New Muslim”, published by The Ministry of Endowments & Islamic Affairs, Kuwait- 2nd Edition 1436/2015.

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