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Monday, August 24, 2009

Ramadhan Then and Now

As we approach the final few days of Ramadhan, it's only fair to compare my previous 4 year experience of Ramadhan in Nashville, TN, with what I'm experiencing now in Malaysia.

I'd have to say I really enjoyed fasting here in Malaysia, especially with my family and all. It's thrilling to relive the experience that I had prior to my stay in the US. The 'kuih muih' and the variety of food on offer at Ramadhan bazaars are at times overwhelming. It makes the decision on what to buy somewhat tougher. The blast and cracks of fire crackers and fire works throughout the night (even though sometimes quite annoying) are just some of the things I miss hearing. And then there's the 'bedil' the loud blast in Kuala Terengganu that signals the time for Imsak and break fast. Those are just some of the things unheard of in the US.

But whose to say I don't miss the Ramadhan in Nashville? Because I really do! I miss break fasting together with my friends at ICN, and the occasional sahur there. I miss it's Terawih, and especially, I miss the food. That's why during the break fast here in Malaysia, some of the things I cooked include, manggo lassi, tandoori chicken, and Waffle House style hash brown (others, I have forgot).

However, it's quite saddening to see that the month of Ramadhan is nothing more than just a tradition to some of us. We fast only because everyone else is doing so. Terawih here in Malaysia is most attended only during the first week of Ramadhan. Where everyone goes during the remaining weeks is quite a mystery. Even the last 10 days which contain Lailatul Qadr can't encourage people to visit the mosque. That my friends, has got to change.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Story of Two Tails

We all know of the famous Mowgli, a fictional character from Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and how he was brought up by a pack of wolves.

But watch this video closely and you'll see that sometimes, myths do come to life.

Of course the easier thing to do was for the leopard to eat the mother for dinner, and save the baby baboon for supper or breakfast. Or heck, just let it die. But no. Even it's animal instincts knew better than that.

Maybe we humans can learn something from this? First off, stop disposing of babies.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ar- Raheequl- Makhtum

Looking to find a detailed comprehensive biography of the Noble Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)?

Then look no further than Ar-Raheequl- Makhtum, or in it's English version, The Sealed Nectar.

It starts with a brief introduction of how Arabs came about, and covers in detail of the happenings throughout prophet-hood, all the way to the death of the Messenger (PBUH).

An extract from the publisher's note goes, "No doubt The Sealed Nectar is a book of great value and praiseworthy work of the life of Muhammad (PBUH), written by the Eminent Shaikh Saifur- Rahman Mubarakpuri of Jamiah Salafiyah, Banaras (India). The first Islamic conference on Seerah was held in 1976 in Pakistan announced a world contest of writing a book on the life of the Prophet (PBUH) which had a $500000 grand prize for the best 5 books. 171 manuscripts were received from all over the world. The Sealed Nectar won grand prize for its authentic and sound collections of narrations." Abdul- Malik Mujahid.

This book, would InsyaAllah give you a very good understanding of the life of the Prophet (PBUH), as well as correct some misconceptions regarding it. This includes the infamous misconception of when the song Tala Al Badru 'Alayna was sung, which was actually during the return of the Prophet (PBUH) and his army from the Battle of Tabuk, and not during the Great Pilgrimage. Allah knows best.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Rapatkan Saf, Luruskan Saf

"Rapatkan Saf, Luruskan Saf..." calls the Imam right before takbiratul-ihram. But do we bother?

I guess not.

That's one of the main problems I realize in our congregational prayer. We neglect the rows. We stand a distance from one another, and our rows are far from straight, even with carpet lines to the aid.

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: "When you begin your congregational prayers, straighten your rows...." [Muslim; ch. on tashahhud]

Nu’maan bin Basheer (radhiallahu anhu) once says: "Once Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) faced us and said: "Straighten your rows". He repeated this thrice. He then said: "By Allah, you must most certainly straighten your rows or else Allah Ta’ala will disunite your hearts". Hazrat Nu’maan bin Basheer (radhiallahu anhu) says: "I then saw the people joining together their shoulders and ankles". [Abu Dawood, Sahih ibn Khuzaima]

"Straighten your rows and come close together, for indeed I see you behind my back" [Bukhari]

Jabir bin Samurah
(radhiallahu anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came out to us (once) and said, "Why do you not stand in rows as the angels do before their Rubb?" We asked: "O Messenger of Allah! How do the angels stand in rows before their Rubb?" He (PBUH) replied, "They complete each row beginning with the first and filling all the gaps."

Abu Hurairah (radhiallahu anhu) reported: Allah's Messenger (PBUH) said, "If the people were to know the excellence there is in the Adhan and in the first row, and they could not (get these opportunities) except by drawing lots, they would definitely done that. And if they were to know what excellence lies in joining the Prayer in the first takbir, they would have vied with one another. And if they were to know what excellence is in the Night Prayer and Morning Prayer, they would have definitely come even if crawling (on their knees).

Please read this interesting piece of article regarding the formation or rows in salat.

Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd said:

One of the new things that we see some people doing, with no evidence in sharee’ah, is that in prayer they try to align themselves with a person on the right if they are on the right hand side of the row, or to align themselves with a person on their left if they are on the left hand side of the row, and they turn their feet inward so that their ankles are touching the ankles of the people next to them.

This is something for which there is no basis in sharee’ah and it is going to the extreme in implementing the Sunnah. This is wrong on two counts.

The alignment of the row should begin from where the imam is standing. Whoever is on the right of the row should align himself by looking at those who are to his left (i.e., closer to the imam). Thus the line will be straightened and the gaps will be filled. Alignment is done by lining up necks, shoulders and ankles, and by completing the front rows.

But to try to spread the legs wide and turn the feet inward so that one's ankles touch one’s neighbours’ ankles is an obvious mistake and an exaggeration, and a new interpretation which is indicative of going to extremes in trying to apply the Sunnah. It causes annoyance and is not prescribed in sharee’ah, and it widens the gaps between people standing in prayer.

That becomes apparent when the people prostrate, and when they stand up again they become distracted in trying to fill the gaps and turning their feet to make their ankles touch their neighbours’ ankles, which makes them miss out on what they should be doing, which is to make the toes point in the direction of the qiblah.

Doing that is like competing with one’s neighbour and trying to take his place. All of that is not prescribed in sharee’ah.

Laa jadeed fi Ahkaam al-Salaah, 12. 13."

So the next time we show up to form rows in our salat, make sure we do it right.

Allah knows best.