On Commemorating Rabi-ul-Awwal

•January 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Rabi’ul-Awwal By Mufti Taqi Usmani

From Superstitions into Light

Rabi’ul-Awwal is the most significant month in the Islamic history, because humanity has been blessed in this month by the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Before the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, not only the Arabian peninsula, but also the so-called civilized nations of Rome and Persia were drowned in the darkness of ignorance, superstitions, oppression and unrest. The Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, came with the eternal truth of Tawhid (Oneness of Allah), the only faith which provides a firm basis for the real concepts of knowledge, equity and peace. It was this faith which delivered humanity from ignorance and superstitions and spread the light of true knowledge all over the world.

Islamic Celebrations

Thus the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most significant and the most remarkable event in human history. Had there been room in Islamic teachings for the celebration of birthdays or anniversaries, the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would have undoubtedly deserved it more than the birthday of any other person. But that is against the nature of Islamic teachings. That is why, unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, there are very few festivals in Islam, which provides for only two Eids(Eidul-fitr and Eidul-Adha) during the whole year. The dates of these two Eids do not correspond to the birthday of any of the outstanding persons of Islamic history, nor can their origin be attributed to any particular event of history that had happened in these dates.

Both of these two Eids have been prescribed for paying gratitude to Allah on some happy events that take place every year. The first event is the completion of the fasts of Ramadan and the second event is the completion of Hajj, another form of worship regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam.

The manner prescribed for the celebration of these two Eids(festivals) is also different from non-Islamic festivals. There are no formal processions, illumination or other activities showing formal happiness. On the contrary, there are congregational prayers and informal mutual visits to each other, which can give real happiness instead of its symbols only.

No Birthdays

On the other hand, Islam has not prescribed any festival for the birthday of any person, however great or significant he may be. The prophets of Allah are the persons of the highest status amongst all human beings. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, or his noble companions never observed the birthday or anniversary of any of them. Even the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, which was the most happy day for the whole mankind was never celebrated by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself, nor by his blessed Companions.

The Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, remained alive after him for about a century, but despite their unparalleled and profound love towards the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, they never celebrated the birthday or the death anniversary of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Instead, they devoted their lives for promoting the cause of Islam, for bringing his teachings into practice, for conveying his message to the four corners of the world and for establishing the Islamic order in every walk of life.

The Origins of Christmas

In fact, commemorating the birth of a distinguished person has never been prescribed by any religion attributing itself to divine revelation. It was originally a custom prevalent in pagan communities only. Even Christmas, the famous Christian feast commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ finds no mention in the Bible or in the early Christian writings. It was only in the 4th century after the ascension of Jesus Christ that Christmas was recognized as a regular Christian feast. To quote the Collier’s Encyclopedia:

“It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ, either from the evidence of the gospels, or from any sound tradition. During the first three centuries of the Christian era there was considerable opposition in the Church to the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays, although there is some indication that a purely religious commemoration of the birth of Christ was included in the feast of Epiphany. Clement of Alexandria mentions the existence of the feast in Egypt about the year A.D. 200 and we have some evidence that it was observed on various dates in scattered areas. After the triumph of Constantine, the Church at Rome assigned December 25 as the date for the celebration of the feast, possibly about A.D. 320 or 353. By the end of the fourth century the whole Christian world was celebrating Christmas on that day, with the exception of the Eastern Churches, where it was celebrated on January 6. The choice of December 25 was probably influenced by the fact that on this day the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and that the Saturnalia also came at this time.” (Collier’s Encyclopedia 1984 ed, v. 6, p. 403).

A similar description of the origin of Christmas is found in-the Encyclopedia Britannica with some more details. Its following passage will throw more light on the point:

“Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church, and before the 5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when it should come in the calendar, whether on Jan. 6, March 25 or Dec. 25. The earliest identification of Dec. 25 with the birthday of Christ is in a passage, otherwise unknown and probably spurious, of the philos of Antioch (c.180), preserved in Latin by the Magdeburyg centuriators (i, 3, 118), to the effect that the Gauls contended that since they celebrated the birth of Lord on Dec. 25, so they ought to celebrate the resurrection on March 25. A passage, almost certainly interpolated, in ‘Hippelates’ (c. 202) commentary on Daniel iv, 23, says that Jesus was born at Bethlehem on Wednesday, Dec. 25, in the 42nd year of Augustus, but he mentions no feast, and such a feast, indeed, would conflict with the then orthodox ideas. As late as 245, Origin (hem. viii on Leviticus) repudiated the idea of keeping the birthday of Christ “as if he were a king Pharaoh”. (Britannica, 1953 ed. v. 5, p.642)

These two quotes are more than sufficient to prove the following points:

1. The commemoration of birthdays was originally a pagan custom, never recognized by a divine scripture or prophetic teaching.

2. The exact date of the Birth of Sayyidna ‘Isa is unknown and impossible to be ascertained.

3. The commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ was not a recognized practice in the early centuries of the Christian history.

4. It was in the 4th or 5th century that it was recognized as a religious feast, and that, too, under the influence of the pagans who worshipped Sun-god.

5. There was a strong opposition against the commemorating of the birthday by the early Christian scholars like Origin, on the ground that it is originally a custom of pagans and idolaters.

Original Islamic Resources

In original Islamic resources, also we cannot find any instruction about the celebration of birthdays or death anniversaries. Many Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, passed away during his life-time. His beloved wife Sayyidah Khadijah, Radi-Allahu anhapassed away in Makkah. His beloved uncle Sayyidna Hamzah, Radi-Allahu anhu was brutally slaughtered during the battle of Uhud. But the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, never observed their birthday or their death anniversaries, nor did he ever advise his followers to celebrate his own birthday in Rabi’ul-Awwal.

What is Wrong with These Celebrations

The reason for abstinence from such celebrations is that they divert the attention of people from the real teachings of Islam towards the observance of some formal activities only. Initially, these celebrations may begin with utmost piety and with a bona fide intention to pay homage to a pious person. Yet, the experience shows that the celebration is ultimately mixed up with an element of merrymaking and rejoicing and is generally confused with secular festivals and the secular, and often sinful, activities creep into it gradually.

The Transformation of Christmas

The example of Christmas will again be relevant. This Christian feast was originally innovated to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and, of course, to remember his teachings. But once the occasion had been recognized as a feast, all the secular elements of public festivals crept in. The following quotation from the Encyclopedia Britannia is worth attention:

“For several centuries Christmas was solely a church anniversary observed by religious services. But as Christianity spread among the people of pagan lands, many of the practices of the winter solstice were blended with those of Christianity because of the liberal ruling of Gregory I, the great, and the cooperation of the missionaries. Thus, Christmas became both religious and secular in its celebration, at times reverent, at others gay.”

Then, what kind of activities have been adopted to celebrate Christmas is mentioned in the next paragraphs of which the following quote is more pertinent here:

“Merrymaking came to have a share in Christmas observance through popular enthusiasm even while emphasis was on the religious phase. … In the wholly decked great halls of the feudal lords, whose hospitality extended to all their friends, tenants and household, was sailing, feasting, singing and games, dancing, masquerading and mummers presenting pantomimes and masques were all part of the festivities.” (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1953 v. 5, p. 643)

This is enough to show as to how an apparently innocent feast of reverence was converted into a secular festival where the merrymaking and seeking enjoyment by whatever means took preference over all the religious and spiritual activities.

Being fully aware of this human psychology, Islam has never prescribed, nor encouraged the observance of birthdays and anniversaries, and when such celebrations are observed as a part of the religion, they are totally forbidden.

The Religion is Complete

The Holy Qur’an has clearly pronounced on the occasion of the last Hajj of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: “Today, I have completed the teachings of your religion.” [Al-Maida 5:3]

It means that all the teachings of Islam were communicated to the Muslims through the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. No one is allowed after it to add any thing to them as a part of religion. What was not a part of religion during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, can never become part of it. Such additions are termed by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as Bid’ah or innovation.

Thus, the observance of the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as a religious feast is not warranted by any verse of the Holy Qur’an or by any teaching of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Had it been a part of the religion it would have been clearly ordered or practiced by the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and his blessed companions or, at least, by their immediate pupils. But no example of the celebration of the occasion can be traced out in the early centuries of the Islamic history. It was after many centuries [Albalagh Note: According to Maulana Yusuf Ludhinavi it was in the year 604 A.H.] that some monarchs started observing the 12th of Rabi’ul-Awwal as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, without a sound religious basis, and the congregations in the name of Maulood or Milad were held where the history of the birth of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to be narrated.

Disagreement About the Date

The observance of the 12th of this month as the birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is not only an innovation having no basis in the Islamic teachings, but the accuracy of this date as the real birthday of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is also very much doubted. There are different dates suggested in different traditions, and the majority of the authentic scholars is inclined to hold that the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was born on the 9th of Rabi’ul-Awwal. This difference of opinion is another evidence to prove that the observance of the birthday is not a part of the religion, otherwise its exact date would have been preserved with accuracy.

The life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, no doubt, the most important source of guidance for all the Muslims, and every Muslim is under an obligation to learn and study the events of his life, and to follow the practical example set by him in every sphere of life. The narration of his pious biography (the Seerah) in itself is a pious act, which invites the divine blessings, but the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah have not prescribed a particular time or method for it. This pious act should be performed in all the months and at all the times. The month of Rabi’ul-Awwal has not been designated by the Shariah as a special season for holding such congregations to commemorate the birth or life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is thus an innovation (Bid’ah) to restrict the Seerah meetings to the month of Rabi’ul Awwal only, or to believe that the meetings held in this month are worthy of more reward than the meetings held on any other date during the year. In fact, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to commemorate the life of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, throughout the year, not only by studying and conveying his message to others, but also by following his way of life and acting upon his teachings in each and every branch of their activities, and this is exactly what a Muslim is required and supposed to do.

By this we do not mean that the Seerah meetings should not be held in the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal. The point is only that they should not be restricted to it, nor should it be believed that the Shariah has laid any kind of emphasis on holding such meetings in this particular month.

Another point that should always be kept in mind while holding such meetings is that they must be in complete conformity with the rules of Shariah. A Muslim is supposed to abide by the rules of Shariah in all his activities. But at least the meetings held in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, should be free from all the acts forbidden by the Shariah.

Contemporary Seerah Meetings and Shariah

It is often observed, especially in the Western countries, that the people hold the Seerah meetings where men and women sit together without observing the rules of hijab prescribed by the Shariah. The teachings of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are obviously against such mixed gatherings. How can a Seerah meeting bring fruits where such fundamental teachings of the Shariah are openly violated?

In some meetings the Na’ts (poems) in the memory of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, are recited by the women before the male audience, sometimes with music, which is totally against the instructions of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is clearly prohibited by the Shariah to hold such meetings or to participate in them, because it is not only a violation of the Shariah rules, but it is an affront to the sanctity of the Seerah of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

All other activities, often practiced on the twelfth of Rabi’ul-Awwal, like holding processions, constructing the mock tombs of the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and illumination of the buildings and the roads are not warranted by any rule of the Shariah. Rather they are based on conscious or unconscious imitation of certain other religions. No example of such activities can be traced out from the earlier Islamic history.

Real Message of Seerah

What is really important with regard to the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is, first, to follow his teachings, and second to make his pious Seerah available to every Muslim, to preserve it in the hearts of the Muslims from the very childhood, to educate the family members to run their lives according to it and to hold it as the most glorious example of the human conduct the universe has ever witnessed — and all this with utmost love and reverence, not manifested by some formal activities only, but also through actual behavior of following the Sunnah. This cannot be done by merely holding processions and illuminating the walls. This requires constant and consistent efforts and a meaningful program of education and training.

Tahajjud & its Blessings

•February 2, 2011 • 2 Comments

Written by Sameen Nasir on Wednesday, February 2, 2011 at 12:28am

In the darkness of the night a lover awaits the call of  their Beloved [swt]. A momin truly anticipates the arrival of the last part of the night when he is able to witness the beauty of his Lord and when his heart strives to please the Beloved. The call of the Beloved give eternity to these moments. A momin does not await the arrival of the night just to spend it in deep slumber rather he is anxious to enlighten his dark night with the noor of true love. what could be more beautiful a time then the time when our Allah Swt descends to the Lowest sky and calls his slaves who obediently get up.

Other people soother their eyes with deep sleep in the night while a momin soothes his eyes with tears of repentance. people spend it in useless chatter while the momin spends the night with his confessions of love for His Beloved.

Truly the time of the tahajjud is the most beautiful time of the night. We surely underestimate the power which the last part of the night has, we belittle the value of the treasures it beholds. These nights have the the key to the enlightened path of devotion, submission and pure love.

As our elders say “jo iss waqt ko paataa nahi woh iska maza nahi samajh sakta”. Gone are those days when people would spend their nights in worship of the divine, gone are those true aashiq. It is narrated that Allah Swt revealed to Dawud AS “jhoota hai woh shakhs jo mujh say muhabbat kay daway karey aur jab raat aye aur woh sou jaye”.

Our elders greatly stress on the need of spending such nights. Prophet Saw said” three voices are loved by Allah SWT- the cock’s crow, the voice of him who recites the Quran and the voice of those seeking forgiveness before daybreak.” Sufyan al Thawri said “Allah Swt created a wind blowing before daybreak carrying innvocations and prayers for forgiveness to the Almighty King. At the start of the night a crier calls from beneath the Throne, “Let the worshippers get up!” so they get up. Then a crier calls at midnight, “let those who stand in length in prayer get up” so they get up and pray until before daybreak. then before daybreak a crier calls “Let those seeking forgiveness get up” so they get up and seek forgiveness.”

We should not waste our nights in things and activities which are purely useless. For these times once gone are gone forever and for once we part from this world then there will be no return. We pray that our exit from this world would be Labaik to our Lord’s Call “”O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction!Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him!Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, And enter you My Paradise!”

Marraige in Islam

•November 20, 2010 • 1 Comment

Talk by Sobia Kamaluddin Ahmed - Women Only Event

‎[FOR WOMEN ONLY] 

If you are planning to get married, are trying to smooth your relationship, have children of marriageable age, or simply want to know what the Qur’an and Sunnah have to say about this important topic, the speakers’ knowledge, insight and experience will help you get off on the right foot.

ALIMAH SOBIA KAMALUDDIN AHMED was born and raised in the US and received her BA in Sociology and Arabic and Islamic Civilization with double honors from the University of Chicago and Masters of Education from the University of Illinois. She went on to study the Dars-e-Nizami course full-time for four years at Jamia Zainab, Lahore and received the Alimiyya degree. In 2005, Sobia founded Zaynab Academy in Lahore, where she teaches classes in Quran, Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, and Arabic. Sobia also delivers talks on Islam and drawing closer to Allah. Her students include students and alumni of leading US and Pakistani universities as well as young professional women.

Merits of Dhul Hijjah: Eid-ul Adha, Hajj, Sacrifice, etc.

•November 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

Dhul Hijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. Literally, it means “hajj.” Obviously, the name of the month indicates that the great annual worship of Hajj is performed in it, which gives it special significance. Some specific merits and rules relevant to this month are mentioned below:

First Ten Days

The first ten days of Dhul Hijjah are among the most magnificent days in the Islamic calendar. The Holy Prophet has said, “One fast during these days is equal to the fasting of one complete year, and the worship of one night during this period is equal to the worship in the Laylatul Qadr.
Every Muslim should avail of this wonderful opportunity by performing as many acts of worship (Ibadah) to Allah during this period as he or she can.
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The 9th day of Dhul Hijjah

The 9th day of Dhul Hijjah is called the Day of Arafah (Yawm al-Arafah). This is the date when the Hujjaj (the Hajj pilgrims) assemble on the plain of Arafah, six miles away from Makkah al-Mukarramah, where they perform the most essential part of the prescribed duties of Hajj, namely, the Stay in Arafah (Wuquf al-Arafah).
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The Fast of the Day of Arafah

For those not performing Hajj, it is desirable (mustahabb) to fast on this day according to their own calendar. It sometimes occurs that the 9th of Dhul Hijjah falls on different days in different countries according to the sighting of the moon. In such cases, Muslims of each country should observe the Day of Arafah according to the lunar dates of their own country.
For example, if the Day of Arafah is being observed in Saudi Arabia on Friday, and in Pakistan on Saturday, Pakistani Muslims should treat Saturday as the Day of Arafah and should fast on that day if they desire to benefit from the fast.
The fast of the Day of Arafah has been emphasized by the Holy Prophet as a desirable (mustahabb) act. According to a hadith, the fast of this day becomes a cause, hopefully so, of forgiveness for sins committed in one year.
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Takbir of Tashriq

Beginning from the Fajr of the 9th of Dhul Hijjah up to the Asr prayer of the 13th, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite the Takbir of Tashriq after every fard prayer in the following words.
Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,
La Ilaha Illallahu, Wallahu Akbar,
Allahu Akbar wa lillahilhamd.
(There is no god but Allah and Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest and to Allah belongs all praise.)
According to authentic Islamic sources, it is obligatory on each Muslim to recite this Takbir after every fard prayer. For women also, it is commendable though not obligatory. Whether you are performing prayer with Jama’ah (collectively) or on your own (individually) makes no difference, you must recite the Takbir. However, male Muslims should recite it in a loud voice, while females should recite it in a low voice.
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On the Eid Day

The following acts are sunnah on the day of Eid-ul Adha:
1. To wake up early in the morning.
2. To clean one’s teeth with a miswak or brush
3. To take a bath (make ghusl).
4. To put on one’s best available clothes.
5. To use perfume.
6. Not to eat before the Eid prayer.
7. To recite the Takbir of Tashriq in a loud voice while going to the Eid prayer.
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How to Perform the Eid prayers (Hanafi School)

The Eid prayer consists of two raka’ats performed in the normal way, with the only addition of six Takbirs, three of them in the beginning of the first raka’ah, and three of them just before ruku’ in the second raka’ah. The detailed way of performing the Eid prayer is as follows:
The Imam will begin the prayer without Adhan or iqamah. He will begin the prayer by reciting Takbir of Tahrimah (Allahu Akbar). You should raise your hands up to the ears, and after reciting the Takbir, you should set your hands on your navel. The Imam will give a little pause during which you should recite Thana’ (Subhanakallahumma…). After the completion of Thana’, the Imam will recite Takbir (Allahu Akbar) three times. At the first two calls of Takbir you should raise your hands up to the ears, and after reciting Takbir (Allahu Akbar) in a low voice, should bring your hands down and leave them earthwards. But, after the third Takbir, you should set them on your navel as you do in the normal prayers.
After these three Takbirs, the Imam will recite the Holy Quran, which you should listen to calmly and quietly. The rest of the raka’ah will be performed in the normal way.
After rising for the second raka’ah, the Imam will begin the recitations from the Holy Qur’an during which you should remain calm and quiet. When the Imam finishes his recitation, he will recite three Takbirs once again, but this time it will be just before bowing down for ruku’. At each Takbir you should raise your hands up to the ears, and after saying ‘Allahu Akbar’, bring them down and leave them earthwards. After these three takbirs have been called and completed, the Imam will say another takbir for bowing down into the ruku’ position. At this takbir you need not raise your hands. You just bow down for your ruku’ saying, ‘Allahu Akbar’. The rest of the salah will be performed in its usual way.
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Khutbah: The Address of Eid-ul Adha

In this prayer of Eid, Khutbah is a sunnah and is delivered after the prayer, unlike the prayer of Jumu’ah where it is fard and is delivered before the salah. However, listening to the khutbah of Eid salah is wajib or necessary and must be listened to in perfect peace and silence.
It is a sunnah that the Imam begins the first Khutbah by reciting takbir (Allahu Akbar) nine times and the second Khutbah with reciting it seven times.
Note:
The way of Eid prayer described above is according to the Hanafi school of Muslim jurists. Some other jurists, like Imam Shafi’i, have some other ways to perform it. They recite Takbir twelve times before beginning the recitations of the Holy Quran in both the raka’at. This way is also permissible. If the Imam, being of the Shafi’i school, follows this way, you can also follow him. Both ways are based on the practice of the Holy Prophet .
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Sacrifice or Qurbani: Philosophy and Rules

The Urdu and persian word Qurbani (Sacrificial slaughter) is derived from the Arabic word Qurban. Lexically, it means an act performed to seek Allah’s pleasure. Originally, the word Qurban included all acts of charity because the purpose of charity is nothing but to seek Allah’s pleasure. But, in precise religious terminology, the word was later confined to the sacrifice of an animal slaughtered for the sake of Allah.
The sacrifice of an animal has always been treated as a recognized form of worship in all religious orders originating from a divine book. Even in pagan societies, the sacrifice of an animal is recognized as a form of worship, but it is done in the name of some idols and not in the name of Allah, a practice totally rejected by Islam.
In the Shari’ah of our beloved Prophet the sacrifice of an animal has been recognized as a form of worship only during three days of Dhul Hijjah, namely, the 10th, 1lth and 12th of the month. This is to commemorate the unparalleled sacrifice offered by the Prophet Ibrahim, Alayhi Salam, when he, in pursuance to a command of Allah conveyed to him in a dream, prepared himself to slaughter his beloved son, Prophet Isma’il, Alayhi Salam, and actually did so but, Allah Almighty, after testing his submission, sent down a sheep and saved his son from the logical fate of slaughter. It is from that time onwards that the sacrifice of an animal became an obligatory duty to be performed by every well to do Muslim.
Qurbani is a demonstration of total submission to Allah and a proof of complete obedience to Allah’s will or command. When a Muslim offers a Qurbani, this is exactly what he intends to prove. Thus, the Qurbani offered by a Muslim signifies that he is a slave of Allah at his best and that he would not hesitate even for a moment, once he receives an absolute command from his Creator, to surrender before it, to obey it willingly, even if it be at the price of his life and possessions. When a true and perfect Muslim receives a command from Allah, he does not make his obedience dependent upon the command’s reasonability’ as perceived through his limited understanding. He knows that Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise and that his own reason cannot encompass the knowledge and wisdom underlying the divine command. He, therefore, submits to the divine command, even if he cannot grasp the reason or wisdom behind it.
This is exactly what the Prophet Ibrahim, Alayhi Salam, did. Apparently, there was no reason why a father should slaughter his innocent son. But, when came the command from Allah, he never asked about the reason for that command, nor did he hesitate to follow it. Even his minor son when asked by his father about the dream he had seen, never questioned the legitimacy of the command, nor did he pine or whine about it, nor did he ask for one good reason why he was being slaughtered. The one and only response he made was:
‘Father, do what you have been ordered to do. You shall find me, God willing, among the patient”.
The present-day Qurbani is offered in memory of this great model of submission set before us by the great father and the great son. So Qurbani must be offered in our time emulating the same ideal and attitude of submission.
This, then, is the true philosophy of Qurbani. With this in mind, one can easily unveil the fallacy of those who raise objections against Qurbani on the basis of economic calculations and depict it to be a wastage of money, resources and livestock. Unable to see beyond mundane benefits, they cannot understand the spirit Islam wants to plant and nourish among its followers, the spirit of total submission to Allah’s will which equips man with most superior qualities so necessary to keep humanity in a state of lasting peace and welfare.
Qurbani is nothing but a powerful symbol of the required human conduct vis-a-vis the divine commands, however “irrational” or “uneconomic” they may seem to be in their appearance. Thus, the distrustful quest for mundane economic benefits behind Qurbani is, in fact, the negation of its real philosophy and the very spirit underlying it.
No doubt, there are in every form of worship ordained by Allah, certain worldly benefits too, but they are not the main purpose of these prescribed duties, nor should they be treated as a pre-condition to submission and obedience. All acts of worship, including Qurbani, must be carried out with a spirit of total submission to Allah, irrespective of their economic, social or political benefits. This is what Ibrahim, Alayhi Salam, did, and this is what every true Muslim is required to do.
Keeping this in view, we are giving here some rules governing the worship of Qurbani in our Shari’ah according to the Hanafi School.
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The Time of Qurbani

Qurbani can only be performed during the three days of Eid, namely the 10th, 11th and 12th of Dhul Hijjah. It is only in these days that slaughtering of an animal is recognized as an act of worship. No Qurbani can be performed in any other days of the year.
Although Qurbani is permissible on each of the three aforesaid days, yet it is preferable to perform it on the first day i.e. the 10th of Dhul Hijjah.
No Qurbani is allowed before the Eid prayer is over. However, in small villages where the Eid prayer is not to be performed, Qurbani can be offered’ any time after the break of dawn on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah.
Qurbani can also be performed in the two nights following the Eid day, but it is more advisable to perform it during daytime.
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Who is Required to Perform Qurbani?

Every adult Muslim, male or female, who owns 613.35 grams of silver or its equivalent in money, personal ornaments, stock-in-trade or any other form of wealth which is surplus to his basic needs, is under an obligation to offer a Qurbani. Each adult member of a family who owns the above mentioned amount must perform his own Qurbani separately. If the husband owns the required quantity, but the wife does not, the Qurbani obligatory on the husband only and vice-versa. If both of them have the prescribed amount of wealth, both should perform Qurbani separately.
If the adult children live with their parents, Qurbani is obligatory on each one of them possessing the prescribed amount. The Qurbani offered by a husband for himself does not fulfil the obligation of his wife, nor can the Qurbani offered by a father discharge his son or daughter from their obligation. Each one of them should care for his own.
However, if a husband or a father, apart from offering his own Qurbani, gives another Qurbani on behalf of his wife or his son, he can do so with their permission.
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No Alternate for Qurbani

Some people think that instead of offering a Qurbani they should give its amount to some poor people as charity. This attitude is totally wrong. Actually, there are different forms of worship obligatory on Muslims. Each one of them has its own importance and none of them can stand for the other. It is not permissible for a Muslim to perform salah instead of fasting in Ramadan, nor is it permissible for him to give some charity instead of observing the obligatory Salah. Similarly, Qurbani is an independent form of worship and this obligation cannot be discharged by spending money in charity.
However, if somebody, out of his ignorance or negligence, could not offer Qurbani on the three prescribed days (10th, 1lth and 12th Dhul Hijjah) then, in that case only, he can give the price of a Qurbani as sadaqah to those entitled to receive Zakah. But during the days of Qurbani no Sadaqah can discharge the obligation.
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The Animals of Qurbani

The following animals can be slaughtered to offer a Qurbani:
1. Goat, either male or female, of at least one year of age.
2. Sheep, either male or female, of at least six months of age.
3. Cow, ox buffalo of at least two years of age.
4. Camel, male or female, of at least five years of age.
One head of goat or sheep is enough only for one person’s Qurbani. But as for all other animals like cow, buffalo or camel, one head of each is equal to seven offerings thus allowing seven persons to offer Qurbani jointly in one such animal.
If the seller of animal claims that the animal is of the recognized age and there is no apparent evidence to the contrary; one can trust his statement and the sacrifice of such an animal is lawful.
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Rules about Defective Animals

The following defective animals are not acceptable in Qurbani:
1. Blind, one eyed or lame animal.
2. An animal so emaciated that it cannot walk to its slaughtering place.
3. An animal with one-third part of the ear or the nose or the tail missing.
4. An animal that has no teeth at all, or the major number of its teeth are missing.
5. An animal born without ears.
The following animals are acceptable in Qurbani:
1. A castrated he-goat. (Rather, its Qurbani is more preferable).
2. An animal that has no horns, or its horns are broken. However, if the horns of an animal are uprooted totally so as to create a defect in the brain, its Qurbani is not lawful.
3. An animal the missing part of whose ear, nose or tail is less than one third.
4. A sick or injured animal, unless it has some above mentioned defects rendering its Qurbani unlawful.
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The Sunnah Method of Qurbani

It is more preferable for a Muslim to slaughter the animal of his Qurbani with his own hands. However, if he is unable to slaughter the animal himself, or does not want to do so for some reason, he can request another person to slaughter it on his behalf. In this case also, it is more preferable that he, at least, be present at the time of slaughter. However, his absence at the time of slaughter does not render the Qurbani invalid, if he has authorized the person who slaughtered the animal on his behalf. It is a Sunnah to lay the animal with its face towards the Qiblah, and to recite the following verse of the Holy Quran:
I, being upright, turn my face towards the One who has created the heavens and the earth, and I am not among those who associate partners with Allah. ( Al-An’am, 6:79)
But the most essential recitation when slaughtering an animal is: Bismillah, Allahu Akbar. (In the name of Allah, Allah is the greatest). If somebody intentionally avoids to recite it when slaughtering an animal, it does not only make his Qurbani unlawful, but also renders the animal haram, and it is not permissible to eat the meat of that animal. However, if a person did not avoid this recitation intentionally, but he forgot to recite it when slaughtering the animal, this mistake is forgiven and both the Qurbani and the slaughter are lawful.
If somebody is unable to recite “Bismillah Allahu Akbar” in the Arabic language, he can recite the name of Allah in his own language by saying, “In the name of Allah”.
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Distribution of the Meat

If an animal is sacrificed by more than one person, like cow or camel, its meat should be distributed equally among its owners by weighing the meat strictly and not at random or by mere guess. Even if all the partners agree on its distribution without weighing, it is still not permissible according to shari’ah.
However, if the actual weighing is not practicable due to some reason, and all the partners agree to distribute the meat without weighing, distribution by guess can be done with the condition that each share necessarily contains either a leg of the animal or some quantity of its liver.
Although the person offering a Qurbani can keep all its meat for his own use, yet, it is preferable to distribute one-third among the poor, another one-third among his relatives and then, keep the rest for his personal consumption.
All parts of the sacrificed animal can be used for personal benefit, but none can be sold, nor can be given to the butcher as a part of his wages. If somebody has sold the meat of the Qurbani or its skin, he must give the accrued price as sadaqah to a poor man who can receive Zakah.
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Hajj

The most important way of worship performed in this month is Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam. The Muslims from every part of the world assemble in Arabia to perform this unique way of worship. Hajj is a worship, which requires at least five days to be performed in its proper way. There are detailed rules for different acts of Hajj for which separate books are available, and the present article does not aim at explaining all these details. However, some basic information about its obligation is being given here:
1. Hajj is obligatory on every adult Muslim who can afford to go to Makkah during the Hajj season, whether on foot or by any other carriage.
2. If a person can travel to Makkah to perform Hajj, but he cannot travel to Madinah, Hajj is obligatory on him also. He can perform Hajj without visiting Madinah.
3. A Muslim woman cannot travel for Hajj unless she is accompanied by a mahram (i.e. husband or relative of a prohibited degree like son, father, brother etc.) If she does not find any mahram to accompany her, Hajj is not obligatory on her until she finds one. However, she must make a will that in case she dies before performing Hajj, his heirs should arrange for her Hajj-e-Badal out of her left over property.
4. Hajj is obligated only once in one’s life. After performing the obligatory Hajj; one is not required to perform it again. However, he can perform the nafl (optional Hajj as many times as he or she wishes.
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Playing Power of Intention | Islamic Spirituality

•January 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

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via Playing Power of Intention | Islamic Spirituality.

Patience & Thanksgiving

•January 27, 2009 • 5 Comments

Aasiyah, the wife of Fir’own. Her Eeman in Allah thrived under the shadow of someone that said, “I am your Lord, Most High!” When news reached Fir’own of his wife’s Eeman he beat her and commanded his guards to beat her. They took her out in the scalding noon heat, tied her hands and feet and beat her perpetually. Who did she turn to? She turned to Allah! She prayed, “My lord, build for me a home with you in Paradise and save me from Fir’own and his deeds and save me from the transgressive people.”

It was narrated that when she said this, the sky opened for her and she saw her home in Paradise. She smiled. The guards watched astonished, she’s being tortured and she smiles? Frustrated, Fir’own commanded a boulder to be brought and dropped on Aasiyah, to crush her to death. But Allah took her soul before the boulder was brought and she became an example for all the believing men and women till the end of time:

[And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe: the wife of Fir'own (Pharaoh) - when she said, "My Lord, Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir'own and his deeds, and save me from the transgressive-disbelieving people.] -(Tahreem 66:1)

In the hadith of Jibreel, when he came to the Prophet (SAW) and asked him about Islam, Eeman, and Ihasan, the Prophet SAW said about Eeman, “Eeman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Final Day, and the divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.” For the past few weeks we have been reflecting on this hadith, only glimpses. Today we shall conclude with the last article of Eeman: to believe in the Divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.

As you and I travel though life we find ourselves in one of two situations. Either something good is happening in our lives and in which case – as Muslims- our role is to thank Allah for the blessing. Or something bad is happening to us, something we dislike and our role here is to be patient (Sabr). This is the formula for a happy life, a life cruising towards the pleasure of Allah. Sabr or Shukr, the worry stops here.

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Strange is the affair of the Mu’min (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu’mmin “

Ibn Al-Jowzee said, “If this Dunya was not a station of tests it would not be filled with sicknesses and filth. If life were not about hardship, then the Prophets and the pious would have lived the most comfortable of lives. Nay, Adam suffered test after test until he left the Dunya. Nuh cried for 300 years. Ibrahim was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Ya’qub cried until he became
blind. Musa challenged Fir’own and was tested by his people. Eeasa had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with. And Muhammad (SAW) met poverty with patience, his uncle – one of the most beloved relatives to him – was slain and mutilated and his people disbelieved in him … and the list of Prophets and the pious goes on and on.”

What happens to us happens by the will of Allah. It is an article of our Eeman in Qada’ and Qadr that we are pleased with Allah’s choice, Good or seemingly bad it is all the test of this Dunya. How could we imagine that we shall not be tested when those who were better than us suffered what they suffered. They however came away with the pleasure of Allah, Subhaanahu wa Ta’Aala.

Al Hasan ibn Arafah narrated, “I visited Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal after he was whipped and tortured. I said to him, “O Abu Abdillaaah, you have reached the station of the Prophets!” He said, “Keep quiet. Verily, I saw nothing more than people selling their Deen. And I saw scholars that were with me sell their Faith. So I said to myself, ‘Who am I, what am I. What am I going to say to Allah tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He ask me, “Did you sell your Deen like the others did?” So I looked at the whip and the sword and chose them. And I said, “If I die I shall return to Allah and say: ‘I was told to say that one of Your Characteristics was something created but I did not.’ After that, it will be up to Him – either to punish me of be Merciful on me.”

Al-Hasan ibn Arafah then asked, “Did you feel pain when they whipped you?” He said “Yes, I felt the pain up to 20 lashes then I lost all feeling (They whipped him over eighty times). After it was over I felt no pain and that day I prayed Dhuhr standing.”

Al-Hasan ibn Arafah started weeping when he heard what had happened. Imam Ahmad questioned him, “Why are you crying? I did not lose my Eeman. After that why should I care if I lose my life?” They were better than us but this was how they were tested.

Let us discuss some facts about these tests of life, the good and the bad that befalls us:

§ Much of what befalls us – the hard times – is the direct result of ourown sins. Allah Ta’aala says “And whatever misfortune befalls you it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” – (Qur’an 42:30)

Muhammad ibn Seereen used to say when his debts piled up and he felt sad, “I know that the cause of this sadness is a sin I committed over 40 years ago.”

§ People understand that when something bad happens it is a test from Allah. But dear Brothers and Sisters, the good things that happen to us are also a test.

Allah ta’aala says [And we tested them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn back] – (Al-A’raf 7:168)

Abd alMalik ibn Ishaq said, “There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is (Shukr).”

And the Companion – AbdurRahman ibn ‘Awf (RA) said, “We were tested with hardship and were patient. And then we were tested with prosperity and we were not patient. Because of this Allah states:

[O ye who believe! Let not your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers.] – (Al-Munafiqun 63:9)

§ Patience must happen from the beginning, not three days later or one day later, at the first news of the calamity, when it first happens. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Verily patience (is only Sabr when practiced) at the first hit (of news).”

§ There are things that contradict Sabr. Tearing ones shirt, for example, slapping ones face, slapping hands, shaving ones head, and cursing and wailing. Umm Salamah narrates: I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say, “Any Muslim that says when a calamity befalls him that which Allah commanded him: To Allah we belong and to him we return. O Allah reward me in this calamity and give me better then it – (any Muslim that says this) Allah will grant him better than (that which he lost).” – Muslim

§ These tests and hardships wash our sins. Aisha (Ra) said, “Verily fever sheds sins like a tree sheds leaves.”

§ The hardships that befall us distinguish the believers from the insincere. Shumayt ibn Ajlaan said, “The pious and the ungrateful are hidden by health. Yet when calamities befall the two men are separated (by how they react).”

Allah says in the Quran “Alif/Laam/Meem..Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, “We believe,” and will not be tested? Indeed We tested those who (lived) before them” (Al-Ankaboot 29:1-3)

Towards Sabr

Ali (RA) said, “Verily Sabr is to Eeman what the head is to the body. When the head is cut off, the body falls. (He then raised his voice) Verily there is no Eeman for he who has no Sabr (patience).”

There are three types of Sabr that the Muslim must have:

1. Sabr in the obedience of allah. For example, One must be patient and perform their Fajr at it’s time.

2. Sabr in not disobeying Allah. Like someone might say, “I just have to insult him.” No, we are command by He who gave us our tongues to not follow the whispers of Shaytaan. And we must have Sabr in not disobeying Allah.

3. Sabr in what Allah Decrees on us. For example, if our child was to pass away we should be patient and seek the reward of Allah in our patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allah.

There are two keys. If we understand them we shall open the door to Sabr in our lives:

The First Key: know that our souls, families and wealth do not belong to us, they belong to Allah. He gave it to us as a loan to see what we would do with it. And when he takes it back He is taking back what belongs to Him. We had nothing before the blessing and we’ll have nothing after it. We did not create the blessing from nothing, so how can we claim that it belongs to us.

The Second Key: We are on a journey and the destination is the hereafter – Paradise or Hell. We shall be leaving the Dunya behind us and we’ll come back to Allah by ourselves. This is what needs our focus. And if Allah is pleased with us then no worry. If He is not pleased with us then all worry.

Let me draw your attention to a verse. Listen carefully. Allah revealed: Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers, especially the middle Salah and stand before Allah in obedience.”- (al-Baqarah 2:238)

The verses before this deal with divorce. The verses after it deal with divorce. Why was this verse placed in the middle?

The Ulama’ have suggested, Wa Allaahu a’lam, that in the hard times that a person goes through (especially in a divorce) they should not forget the remembrance of Allah, the Salah. And it is that Salah coupled with Sabr that will pull them through.

“O you who believe! Seek Help in Patience and Salah. Truly, Allah is with those that are patient.”- (Baqarah 2:153)

In conclusion, Allah ta’ala wants us to give pass on the following good news:

[And give good news to the patient who, when afflicted with calamity say, Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”/They are those on whom the Salawat (i.e. the blessing and forgiveness) of their Lord is upon them, and who shall receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones” – (Baqarah 2:157)

Allah promised anyone who wants to work on his or her patience three things: Forgiveness, Mercy, and guidance. Who could ask for more?


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First 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah‏

•December 1, 2008 • 2 Comments

The first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are the best and most virtuous days of the year -for both the pilgrim and those who stay behind. They are days of striving to gain closeness and proximity to Allaah and seeking His Mercy and Forgiveness. They are days of Salaah, and Zakaah, Fasting, du’aa and the remembrance of Allaah, sincere repentance, and all other virtuous deeds.

And Allaah swore by these days in His saying:
وَالْفَجْرِ * وَلَيَالٍ عَشْرٍ

“By the Dawn, and by the Ten Nights.”

And the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

أَفضَلُ أَيَّامِ الدُّنيَا أَيَّامُ العَشْرِ

“The best days in the dunyaa are the ten days.”

And the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

مَا مِنْ أَيَامٍ العَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ فَيهَا أَحَبُّ إَلَى اللهِ مِن أيامِ العَشرِ
قَالُواْ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ! وَ لاَ الجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ؟
قال: و لاَ الجِهَادُ فِي سَبِيلِ اللهِ؛ إِلاَّ رَجُلٌ خَرَجَ بِنَفسِهِ وَ مَالِهِ ، فَلَمْ يَرْجِعْ مِن ذَلِكَ بِشَيءٍ

” There are no days during which good righteous deeds are more beloved to Allaah than the ten days (the first ten days of Dhil-Hijjah).” So the Companions asked: “Not even Jihaad in the Path of Allaah?” He said: “Not even Jihaad in the Path of Allaah, except for a man who goes out with his person and his wealth, and comes back with nothing.”

During these days it is recommended to increase in making takbeer, tahleel, and tamheed, and to increase in all types of righteous deeds, like prayer, fasting, giving in charity and so on.

Fasting the Day of ‘Arafah

And from these righteous actions is fasting the Day of ‘Arafah. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:
يُكَفَّرَ السَّنَةَ الَّتِي قَبْلَهُ ، وَ السَّنَةَ الَّتِي بَعْدَهُ

“It expiates (the sins) of the previous year, and the following year.”

And this fast is for those who remained behind, as fasting the Day of ‘Arafah by those who are at ‘Arafah is not from the guidance of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and his Companions. ‘Abdullaah bin ‘Umar (Radiyallaahu ‘anhumaa) was asked about fasting the Day of ‘Arafah by those at ‘Arafah. He said: “I made Hajj with the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and he did not fast it, and with Aboo Bakr and he did not fast it, and with ‘Umar and he did not fast it, and ‘Uthmaan and he did not fast it. And I do not fast it, nor do I order it, nor do I prohibit it.”

The Sacrifice

Of these 10 blessed days is the Day of an-Nahr, or ‘Eedul-Adhaa. The Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

إَنَّ أَعْظَمَ الأَيَّامِ عِندَ اللهِ تَبارَكَ وَ تَعالَى يَومُ النَّحْرِ ، ثُمَّ يَومُ القَرَِّ

“Verily the greatest of Days with Allaah- the Blessed and Most High- is the Day of Sacrifice, then the Day of Rest [following it].”

And know that the sacrifice is from those actions that are highly stressed upon for those who have the ability, as the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said:

مَنْ كَانَ لَهُ سَعَةٌ وَ لَم يُضَحِّ فَلاَ يَقْرَبَنَّ مُصَلاَّنَا

“Whoever has the means, and does not sacrifice, should not approach our musallaa.”

And the one who has the ability and intends to sacrifice an animal, then he is not to cut his hair and nails, from the first day of Dhul-Hijjah up until after he sacrifices.
And Allaah has made the days of An-Nahr (the day of ‘Eed) and at-Tashreeq (the 3 days that follow it) days of eating and drinking.

The Takbeeraat

From the day of ‘Arafah (9th of Dhil-Hijjah) up until the ‘Asr prayer on the 13th day of Dhil-Hijjah, after the Salaah, we make the takbeeraat. Ibn Abee Shaybah reported that ‘Alee used to make the takbeer beginning after the Fajr prayer on the Day of ‘Arafah, up until after the ‘Asr prayer on the last day of Tashreeq (the 13th day of Dhil-Hijjah). As for the wording of the Takbeer, then there is nothing authentically reported from the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Rather, what we find is the ‘Abdullaah bin Mas’ood (Radiyallaahu ‘anhu) used to say:
Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallaah, wallaahu akbar, Allaahu Akbar, wa lillaahil-Hamd
And Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radiyallaahu ‘anhumaa) used to say:
Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, wa lillaahil-Hamd.
Allaahu Akbar wa ajalla, Allaahu Akbar ‘alaa ma hadaanaa.

So it is upon us to exert ourselves in obedience to Allaah during these 10 blessed days, from their beginning till their end; increasing in our salaah, trying to fast the Day of ‘Arafah, making mention of Allaah in abundance, sadaqah, sacrificing an animal on the Day of An-Nahr or the days that follow it, recitation of the Qur’aan, Repenting to Allaah, seeking His mercy and forgiveness, and so forth. For there is no time like these 10 days:

مَا مِنْ أَيَامٍ العَمَلُ الصَّالِحُ فَيهَا أَحَبُّ إَلَى اللهِ مِن أيامِ العَشرِ

” There are no days during which good righteous deeds
are more beloved to Allaah than the ten days.”

 
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