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Posts Tagged ‘Prophet Muhammad’

I would like to share with you the history of Ramadan – the Muslim month of fasting. In the year 610 AD, the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed on the night of Laylatul-Qadr which is also known as the Night of Power. This night falls in the month of Ramadan and as a result, fasting was prescribed to Muslims for the duration of this month in celebration. So, while the concept of fasting is and was practised by other faiths, and even by the prophet, the concept of Ramadan is specifically tied to the revelation of the Quran.

In the Quran in Surah 2, Ayah 185, Allah says, “The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”

Thus began the Islamic ritual of fasting on the month of Ramadan. This ritual fast known as, Sawm, and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It requires that individuals abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse between the hours of sun up and sun down. Beyond the physical abstinence, the reason Ramadan is known as the month of detoxing or training is explained to great effect by Nouman Ali Khan who explains that the ayah in Sura Baqara says fasting has been prescribed for you so that you may gain Taqwa. Taqwa means piety, but its literal meaning is also protection. Ramadan is the month in which you train and protect your heart to become stronger, more pious and closer to Allah by controlling your body and physical and material desires. My favourite takeaway from his video is min 14 to 16 when he says inna zalika min taqwal kuluub – the heart is the place of taqwa – which is a reference to sura Al Hajj ayah 32 where Allah swt says, ‘zalika waman yuaththim sha’aira Allahi fainnaha min taqwaalquloob’ which translates to ‘he who respects the Symbols of Allah, surely shows the piety of his heart.’ Nouman Ali Khan’s video about Ramadan I highly recommend and linked here.

Now – to answer some frequently asked questions.

What’s the point of Ramadan? In general, the practices of Ramadan are meant to purify oneself from thoughts and deeds which are counter to Islam. By removing material desires, one is able to focus fully on devotion and service to God. Many Muslims go beyond the physical ritual of fasting and attempt to purge themselves of impure thoughts and motivations such as anger, cursing, and greed.

Do all Muslims fast? Most Muslims believe Ramadan fasting is mandatory, but there are some groups that do not. In the Quran in Sura 2, Al-Baqara, Verse (ayah) 256 it includes the phrase that “there is no compulsion in religion”. So each person practices in the way they wish. I personally believe it is the intention rather than the act that is important. You can abstain from food and water all day but if you are cussing, angry and mean spirited during this fast then how much have you achieved the goal of Ramadan which is self-purification to attain closeness to God.

How do you fast in Islam? During the month of Ramadan, most Muslims fast from dawn to sunset with no food or water. Before sunrise many Muslims have the Suhur or predawn meal. At sunset families and friends gather for Iftar which is the meal eaten by Muslims to break the fast. Many Muslims begin the meal by eating dates as the Prophet Muhammad used to do.

Why is charity such a big part of Ramadan? Charity is an important part of Ramadan because the fast emphasizes self-sacrifice and using the experience of hunger to grow in empathy with the hungry. During Ramadan, Muslim communities work together to raise money for the poor, donate clothes and food, and hold iftar dinners for the less fortunate and or with interfaith and other community organisations.

Do you spend Ramadan studying the Quran? Many Muslims use Ramadan to read the entire Quran or read the Quran daily. Many communities divide the Quran into daily reading segments that conclude on Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan. To tie this back to my earlier reference about tawqa – protecting the heart can only come from a closeness to and an understanding of the Quran. Therefore the importance of studying the Quran in Ramadan cannot be emphasised enough.

I am not Muslim but I want to fast – can I? Non-Muslims are free to participate in Ramadan. Many non-Muslims fast and even pray with their Muslim friends or family members. Non-Muslims are often invited to attend prayer and iftar dinners. Those wishing to be polite to someone who is fasting for Ramadan may greet them with Ramadan Mubarak or Ramadan Kareem, which means have a Blessed or Generous Ramadan.

Do you have to fast if you are sick? Fasting during Ramadan is discouraged for those who are not of sound body or mind. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, people who are seriously sick, travellers, or those at health risk should not fast. Children that have not gone through puberty are also not required to fast during the month Ramadan.

Because the cycle of the lunar calendar doesn’t match the solar calendar, the dates of Ramadan shift approximately 11 days each year. This year Ramadan began on 26th May 2017 and will end in 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon. The end of Ramadan is marked by the holiday of Eid ul-Fitr. On Eid ul-Fitr, morning prayers are followed by feasting and celebration among family and friends. This year Eid ul-Fitr will most probably fall on Sunday 26th June and my video on Eid is here!

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This morning on my way to work from the airport I was picked up by a Pakistani driver. Having had an uneventful flight I was settling in for an equally uneventful ride to work in the dreary Sydney rain when this happened:

Driver (D) – Shafeen (pronounced properly).. is that an arabic name?
Me (M) – No it’s actually Persian
D- What does it mean?
M – it is derived from the arabic word Shifa which means health and well being. It was also one of the names of the Prophet Muhammed (SAW)
D – Ah yes and it is one of the names of God. Al Shafee, giver of health.
M – Yes.
(slight pause)
D – So are you Persian?
M – no. I am from Bangladesh, my parent just liked the name
D – Good Good. It is good to see a nice Muslim girl in hijab with such a nice name. That is your identity. Don’t lose it. Without your identity you will become lost.
M – Ok. Thank you
D – You know I have been in Australia a long time. I have seen many young like you trying to fit into western culture and lose their identity and you know it makes them lost. They don’t know who they are or what their purpose or identity in life is. You people these days they want to fit in to australian culture and they lose their identity you know? They don’t know what is Islam and what is religion and they have no values.
M – yeah. True
D – I pick up many people and have these conversations with them. You know I once picked up two girls and they were saying that Muslims and immigrants don’t assimilate and they don’t have any values and they shouldn’t be here so I asked them, may I Ask you a question? And they said yeah sure. OS I say to them you know I have been in Australia since before you were born most likely. I am a Muslim and an Immigrant. Can you tell me what values I do not have? What am I doing wrong? Is there any values I am missing out on? And they couldn’t tell me. They looked at each other. Because they do not know what values they are talking about. It is just a word in the media.

M – Very true. It’s scary how much the media influences people

D – And these people are very ignorant you know and they make judgements based on the media. They do not know islam.

M – Right. And they say ‘oh you are ok. We know you I am talking about other muslims and immigrants’. Well which other muslims and immigrants? Who are the ‘other?’ and why do you hate them without knowing them?

D – Because the media you know. The media is making australian culture very dangerous. I drove a chinese doctor before you. And he told me religion was the cause of all the evil in the world. And I said Religion is not evil. People who use religion are evil. All religion preach peace. But politicians and people in power misuse religion to cause fear and hate.

M – That’s very true.

D- I have a regular customer and he tells me he is Atheist. I say Why? And he said because it is enough to be a good person. But I ask him how do you know what is a good person? Where do your values come from to teach you what is good and bad? he tells me his parents taught him his values. I said who taught your parents? He said his grandparents. Well who taught them? If you go back and study enough far back you will see it is from religion. You see here we are stopped at a traffic light. How do I know to stop? How do I know what the other car will do? Because we all learnt and follow the same rules. I do not know her crossing the street or that man in that car truning left but I know the rules and I know what they will do based on those rules. Religion, Islam. Is a rule book. How come you don’t drive without rules and yet you want to run your whole life without a rule book? Your relationships, your jobs and everything. Without rules? No.

M – I agree!

D – Most people don’t have any value or any religion because they follow culture and culture is changing all the time. You know some christians who I talk to about religion I say to them, I am more christian than you. How they say well Because I believe in Jesus. I follow what he taught. I don’t drink, I don’t eat pork. You know some of the christians in Pakistan do not drink or eat pork? Because they follow the old testament.

M – Oh wow. I didn’t know that.

D – Yeah. So peoples values are being lost because they don’t follow a religion. They say religion is bad. Islam is bad. But you know this Centrelink is from Islam? You know this Deparment of housing is from Islam?

M – How so?

D – Centrelink. The idea of helping out fellow members of society came from the prophet and was mandated by Hazrat Umar. Department of housing… the concept of giving the poor people place to stay was by Abu Bakr RA. The justice system.. its all from Islam.  Our prophet SAW…

M – SAW

D – … was recognised as one of the finest lawmakers in history. You know? There is a plaque in America? You cannot deny history. The west has a system that works because it is from Islam and they uphold it. But their people are not Muslims. And Muslim countries do not have a just system because they do not follow islam but they call themselves muslims.

M – So true.

D – you know NO country in the world is a sharia law country?

M – Yes

D – NO country. Not even Saudi Arabia

M – Especially not Saudi Arabia.

D – They are just puppets you know. Did you know the royalty in Saudia now are actually from jewish family? Yeah. The original holders of the key of haram, from the quraysh tribe. They are still in Makkah but the keys have been taken from them. And in their place is this royal family that say words to sound like muslims but their actions, from their actions you can see they are not acting in the best interest of Muslims. They work with the America to keep Muslims down. They spent so much money to take down Morsi, to make sure the Muslim brotherhood doesn’t have power. Why? Because  if they do then it will threaten them and their royalty. And that’s all they want. Money and power.

M – Yes. That’s very true.

D – This is why I live in Australia. It is a very good country. We have a system that follows Islamic law and allows us to practice Islam. Islam is the kind of religion where a book dictates the actions of millions of people. You know something? Every year 250 people die because they are drunk and on the roads. Every year. 250 people. But you don’t hear about it. Because the people making alcohol pay good money to the government doesn’t publicise it. Why? If tomorrow there was a law to not drink alcohol how many people will follow it? Most people will drink in hiding or even break the law in the face of fines or jail. Because they are addicted. The culture is so strong that they lose their values. And yet no one tells muslims you cannot drink. There is no fine, no jail time. Just words in a book and yet we all follow it. Because it is a system that works. And that is the beauty of Islam.

M – Very true.

There was more… where he asked me what I studied and what I do but he ended with…

D – Culture always changes. It is very influential. Today fashion says wear this and culture adopts it. Tomorrow that. But you in hijab are protected from that. So keep it up. I have a friend who was offered a good job you know, but it meant taking off her hijab and she did it. It’s a test. If you pass the test and build patience it firms your belief in God. Yakeen you know? Knowledge and Faith. Read was the first word said to our Prophet from God via Angel Gibrael. Not just for men or woman or muslim or non muslims but everyone. SO keep up your job and your hijab and don’t lose your identity. You are a good girl. Congratulate your parents on raising a good child.

M – Thank you for a very enlightening and enjoyable conversation. Please keep me in your prayers.

What an amazing man. So full of knowledge. Please spare a moment to pray for him and his Family. May God guide them to righteousness.

 

 028

 

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This video perfectly sums up everything I have to say in answer to all the questions people throw at me about our beloved Prophet. Such an intelligent and logical response. Please watch and let me know your thoughts.

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