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October 2004
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Ramadan

Preparing for Ramadan
By M. Hanif Lakdawala
From packing off their televisions into the storeroom to collecting translations of the Quran, Muslims in Metros are gearing up to welcome Ramadan.

Ramadan is just round the corner. The Muslim community is full of enthusiasm to welcome it. Many individuals make elaborate arrangements so that they can concentrate on Ibaadat in Ramadan.

Fahim Akhtar, an officer in the Excise and Customs department, Mumbai, accumulates enough leave so that he can take off the last ten days and concentrate on night prayers as Shab-e qadr is hidden in one of the last 10 nights.

“All round the year, odd duty hours does not allow me to offer Namaz with congregation. Hence I make it a point and plan my schedule by requesting my superiors so that I do not miss even a single Namaz with congregation,” said Fahim.

Rehana Shah, a housewife reserves her last three days before Ramadan. Everything from windowpanes to utensils get a thorough wash. “ Every household item gets a face-lift which reflects the happiness on the arrival of Ramadan. Also during Ramadan, we curtail many routine activities to get enough time for prayers,” said Rehana.

Dr R.A. Naaz has started hunting for a doctor who can take care of his dispensary in the evening during Ramadan, as he does not practice in the evenings during Ramadan, totally focusing on the Ibaadat. “All round the year I am so busy with the practice. Hence during Ramadan, I devote evenings exclusively for prayers”, he said.

Kishwar, a housewife has started collecting different translations of the holy Quran so that she can concentrate reading it in Ramadan. “ Usually I am so preoccupied cooking and in other routine activities that there is no time and energy left for reading the Quran and its translation. During Ramadan, I reduce the time devoted for cooking by outsourcing it. I give orders for iftar to a widow in my housing society. “ I only cook rice and make chappatis. The time saved I will devote to reading Quran and having a combined Quran study session with my children”, she said.

For Rehan Baig, a businessman, pre-Ramadan period is very hectic. Every Ramadan, he goes for Umrah. So before Ramadan, Rehan completes all business assignments and finalises the arrangements for the tour. “I just cannot resist going to Umrah during Ramadan as the spiritual experience lasts the whole year and it gives me a feeling of contentment, “he said.

Marketers know that sale of certain products increases and for certain products, the sale decreases. The products whose sale increases is coolers, microwave ovens, fridge, books, utensils etc, and the product whose sale decreases is television, entertainment products, medicines and ready-made snacks.

Afreen who gives private tuitions takes extra sessions to cover the students’ syllabus so that she can take off during Ramadan. “ I devote time to prepare Iftar for poor people. We friends organise Iftar for more than 50 people daily and distribute it to those households who do not have earning members”, she said.

Adil, a Timber merchant prepares for Ramadan by changing his schedule at least a week before Ramadan- working late nights and starting days late. That’s the schedule for Adil during Ramadan, which he starts following a week before Ramadan.

Sana, a final year student of Psychology started preparing for Ramadan by coaching SSC students for Maths, so that she can save enough money to purchase a microwave oven. “ I had planned that during Ramadan, we will complete the cooking for Iftar during the morning, so that afternoons we can take rest and evenings can be reserved for Ibadat. Microwave will help in reheating and reduces our workload” said Sana.

Prof. Moin Khan starts concentrating on health during pre-Ramadan days. To get in proper shape, Prof. Moin starts daily exercise and yoga to reduce weight and get into the good shape so that he can offer night prayers. “Because of lack of physical activity while teaching I tend to put on more weight which reduces my stamina. Hence a fortnight before Ramadan I start exercising and get into proper shape”, he said.

Advocate Farheen Khan starts Ramadan preparations by skipping lunch 4-5 days before Ramadan. Her weakness is that she just cannot delay the lunch as it leads to hyper-acidity. By skipping lunch and controlling hyper-acidity through natural therapy Advocate Farheen geared for Ramadan. “ Since the last three years, I skip lunch 4-5 days before Ramadan and try to overcome hyperacidity problem as I do not want to skip even one roza because of it, ‘ she said.

Lots of people are habituated to watching television. So to overcome the habit, many stop watching television before Ramadan. Maryama, a school teacher packs-up her television and keeps it in the storeroom. “If television remains in the front room, there would be temptation and time which should be devoted for prayers will be wasted in watching television”, she said.

Ya Ramadan!
By Noor Syed
A blessed month is casting its shadow upon us
A night of this month is better than a thousand months
Bear with patience for the sake of Ar-Rahman
It’s a continuous training to strengthen our Imaan.

Glory be to Allah who sent Ramadan as a mercy to mankind
Its a purification of our soul, our heart, and our mind
With the most sincere devotion and love we fast
To be cleansed and free from sins of the past

Glorified is He, who choseth this holy month,
To test our sabr and fill our hearts with warmth
Of his Divine Light, His blessings shall glow,
The Seer of the unseen, all He does know

Ya Allah! For thee, let my breath be more pleasant than musk
Ya Allah! For thee, let me be thankful when day turns to dusk
My thoughts and heart are purified, my eyes truly see…
This blessed month, the month of spiritual rhapsody!

Ya Allah! For thee, my life I shall live!
Ya Allah! For thee, my soul I shall give!
In the name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Kind,
Praise be to Allah, who sent Ramadan as a gift to mankind

Ramadan is Here!
By Asma Sadia
One night I heard a knock on my door;
Who can it be,I wasn’t quite sure.
I open the door and am filled with glee;
The visitor ahead is no stranger to me.

I welcome the guest with utmost delight;
For I know it has come to give me respite.
An air of happiness fills the space;
My home now seems, a better place!

Have you any clue who this visitor could be?
Yes!its Ramadhan,the month of mercy.
The pious and righteous can’t await its arrival;
Others seem to greet it, with waves of denial.

For Allah(SWT) we fast from dawn to dusk;
For Him our breath is the fragrance of musk.
The Muslims who pray and fast with zest;
Are aware of the rewards of this month manifest.

Throughout this month we weep and repent;
Now is the time to strongly lament.
And those who shun this sacred month;
on the Day of Reckoning will face the brunt.

In the last ten nights,hides the Night of Decree;
Allah(SWT) then awaits for his slaves to plea.
The angels descend with Gabriel(AS) in the lead;
To check on the steadfast and record every deed.

Eight or Twenty Rakats of Taraweeh is Fine
The Taraweeh prayer is night worship offered in Ramadan, after Isha. It is strongly recommended by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) as he said to his companions: “ A great and blessed month is approaching. Allah has imposed on you the duty of fasting during its days, and I have counselled you to stand up in worship during its nights”.

Taraweeh can be any number of rakats, with a minimum of two, but the Prophet’s own practice was not to exceed 11 or 13 rakats including Witr, on any night after he had finished the obligatory prayer of Isha. Considering this fact and taking Hazrath Umar’s advice to the companions of the Prophet, some schools of thought advocate that 20 is the normal number of rakats of Taraweeh.

We, Muslims should not make an issue out of it. If someone insists that 8 rakats is the only number, we should not indulge in any argument with him. If another suggests that 20 rakats is the correct figure, we say with love and sincerity: “May Allah accept your prayer and reward you for it”.

Ramadan- A Month of Patience
By M.J.Mohamed Iqbal
Allah revealed the Quran in this holy month and Muslims fast to thank the Almighty for this blessing.

Allah Almighty says in the holy Quran “Ye who believe ! there is prescribed for you the fast, as it was prescribed before you”. From this verse it is understood that before the advent of Islam also, followers of Hinduism or Jainism practised fasting. The Jews observe an annual fast on the day of Atonement in commemoration of the descent of Moses from Sitnai. Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert and commended his followers also to fast. Hence it is a known fact that the instruction of fasting is universal and existed in some form or other before Islam also.Besides, fasting was observed as a sign of grief of mourning or for a great event and the basic underlying idea was to propitiate an angry God. The holy Prophet (Pbuh) abolished these ideas and introduced fasting as ordered by Almighty Allah. Like prayer, fasting is observed every year to regulate the principles of their lives. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar and the Islamic Calendar is based on Lunar movements and hence the days of fasting are rotating in different times -Summer, Winter, Spring, Autumn and one has to fast at different times during his life time.People should understand that, reasons and benefits behind fasting are immense and one of the important objective is to generate power in man which can control unruly passion, and fasting kills animal behaviour in a human being. Unlike other methods of fasting, there is nothing to be taken either in the form of solid or liquid from dawn to dusk in Islamic fasting. To have effective check on passion, even sex with their wives in the hours of fasting is strictly prohibited. Also fasting greatly contributes to the preservation of health, which improves by fasting. The great American physician, Dr. Dewey said : Take the food away from a sick man’s stomach, and then you have begun to starve not the sick man, but the disease. The digestive system are given some rest to work with redoubled energy and vigour just as a land which was left without cultivation for one year brings abundant crops in the following year.Hadrat Salman al-Farisi told of Allah’s Messenger mentioning in a sermon which he delivered to them on the last day of Shaaban “A great month, a blessed month, a month containing a night which is better than a thousand months has approached you people. It is the month of sharing with others and a month in which the believer’s provision is increased. If some one gives one who has been fasting some thing with which to break his fast, it will provide forgiveness of his sins and save him from hell.” The holy Prophet (Pbuh) also said, it is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose end is freedom from hell. Now we are in the first 10 days of Ramadan which is for mercy and let the fasting people realise patience, called Sabr, is a great treasure, that is the great power and everyone should adopt it and this is what takes man to an excellent position as preached by the great Imam, Jamaliya Sayed Khaleel Awn Moulana El Hasaniyul Hashimiy. Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh) said, ‘fasting is half of patience and patience is half of faith’. (The writer can be reached at jmiqbal@emirates.net.ae)

Fasting - A Natural Nutrition Therapy
By Dr. Elson M. Haas
Fasting is the “missing link” in the Western diet as most people there over-eat.

Fasting is the single greatest natural healing therapy. It is nature’s ancient, universal “remedy” for many problems. Animals instinctively fast when ill. When I first discovered fasting, 15 years ago, I felt as if it had saved my life and transformed my illnesses into health. My stagnant energies began flowing, and I became more creative and vitally alive. I still find fasting both a useful personal tool and an important therapy for many medical and life problems.

Of course, most of the problems for which I recommend fasting as treatment are ones that result from over-nutrition rather than malnutrition. Dietary abuse problems, more common in the Western world than in Third World countries, generate many of the chronic degenerative diseases that I have written so much about; these include atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart disease, allergies, diabetes, and cancer. I believe that fasting is therapeutic and, more importantly, preventive for many of these conditions and more.

Fasting (cleansing, detoxification) is one part of the triology of nutrition; balancing and building (toning) are the others. I believe that fasting is the “missing link” in the Western diet. Most people over-eat, eat too often, and eat a high-protein, high-fat, rich-food, building and congesting diet more consistently than they need. If we regularly eat a more balanced and well-combined diet, we will have less need for fasting and toning plans, although both would still be required at certain intervals throughout the year.

In a sense, detoxification is an important corrective and rejuvenative process in our cycle of nutrition. It is a time when we allow our cells and organs to breathe out, become current, and restore themselves. We do not necessarily need to fast to experience some cleansing, however. Minor shifts in the diet such as including more fluids, more raw foods, and fewer congesting foods will allow for better detoxification; for a carnivore, for example, a vegetarian or macrobiotic diet will be cleansing and purifying.

Fasting is a time-proven remedy. Its use goes back many thousands of years, really to the beginning of life forms. Voluntary abstinence from food has been a tradition in most religions and is clearly a spiritual purification rite. Many religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and the Eastern religions, have encouraged fasting for a variety of reasons, such as penitence, preparation for ceremony, purification, mourning, sacrifice and union with God, and the enhancement of knowledge and powers. From Moses, Elijah, and Daniel to Christ, the Bible is filled with fasters, who employed it to assist their purification and communion with God. Fasts as long as 40 days were employed to cleanse people of sins and the “devil.”

(Dr. Haas, (M.D) is the Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin, with offices in San Rafael and San Jose, California). (www.islamonline.net).

Spend Ramadan in Retrospection
By S.A.R. Adil
As Muslims, we need to value the true spirit of Ramadan instead of indulging in gluttony or neglecting work.

Many a time you would have wondered why a recent (Convert) revert to Islam is better informed and a dedicated adherent to the tenets of our great religion? The answer is simple, it is so because unlike those who got the religion by accident of birth, he has acquired it by retrospection first, when he looked back at his existing religious practices and beliefs which fell well short of his needs and by introspection later when he compared those shortcomings with what Islam has to offer. It is only then that he undertook the journey to Islam. He is clearly a better Muslim because he is not weighed down by the legacy of so many bad practices which Muslims today have acquired by way of innovations( biddat), dilution of the concept of oneness of god (shirk), superstitions etc., over the last several hundred years. In essence, his journey brought him to the purest and unadulterated form of Islam. There is no reason why the Muslims today should not take a leaf out of a recent revert’s book and go through the process of retrospection to identify areas where he seems to be falling short and introspection by analysing the basic tenets of Islam and rectifying the flaws which had come to affect his general Islamic behaviour. We can start by first addressing the five fundamentals of Islam. 1. Shahada, 2. Namaz(Salaat), 3. Roza, 4. Zakat and 5. Hajj. Let us for a moment forget we are Muslims and simply consider each one of these mandatory obligations in an objective manner and try to arrive at our own conclusions. I did, and my conclusions were as follows.

• Shahada: LA ILAHA ILLALLAH MUHAMMAD AR RASOOL ALLAH, (There is no god but Allah and Muhammad -Pbuh is the Prophet of Allah). Very simple, this is what one has to believe in foremost of all so that one is able to submit to the teachings and tenets of Islam whole heartedly and unhesitatingly.

• Salaat: Namaz performed with purpose helps us stay away from lewdness, iniquity (injustice) and learn the principle of time management, work schedules and organisation. It gives your body a work out to keep it supple. It also inculcates in us the value of hygiene and cleanliness because of our practice of doing Wudu (ablution).The Dua at the end of the Namaz if recited, while bearing the meaning in mind will amount to a pledge of good deeds and a vow to mend ways and refrain from wrong-doings.

• Roza (Fasting): Roza, the essence of which is so encompassing and overwhelming that one can easily reconstuct his personality. Patience, piety, perseverence, discipline, self -control, humility and all those positive traits which one can so easily acquire by Fasting purposefully are Allah’s gift to us Muslims.

• Zakat (Charity): Given with the purpose and fear of the Almighty in the heart can only inspire humility and gratitude to Allah for his kindness in making us able to give Zakat in the first place.

• Hajj (Pilgrimage to Makkah): This is of course mandatory (Farz) but here a distinction is made between people who are able to afford it after providing for their other necessary worldly obligations. This is finally an opportunity for all Muslims to see and experience the awe -inspiring spectacle of total surrender of all Muslims as one to the greatness of Allah.

From the conclusions above, I cannot see how or why any man, Muslim or other, would have any problem accepting this as logical and entirely in conformity with one’s senses. Having said this, it also becomes necessary for you to understand that it is really upto you to benefit from the bounty’s Allah has given to us Muslims by adhering to its true spirit and not abuse the good things Allah has given us by indulging in gluttony during Ramadan for instance or neglecting work or even charity to feel high and mighty.

Let us not be Muslims following the tenets of Allah for one month and be negligent for the rest of the year. Let us choose to be Muslims now and live a life of a Muslim. Allah’s promise is only to those who fulfill their covenant. Let us wake up and be true agents of Allah and not shaitan. (The writer can be reached at adilsar2004@yahoo.co.uk)

Top Ten Ramadan Ideas
By Md Ziaullah Khan
The question is how do we take full advantage of this gift of Allah before the sands of Ramadan slip away?

Ramadan is passed daily with 9 to 5 jobs or school - nights where we may or may not go for Taraweeh. A peak at the TV and the night is over. Back to work where all around us people are eating and drinking from crystal water fountains. Blink. Ramadan is over.

Lets try to work out ten ideas given below, thus making Ramadan the most beneficial for us – before it slips through our hands.

• Compounding our Siyaam: Wouldn’t we love to get two times the reward of fasting Ramadan? How? Zayd ibn Khaalid Al-Juhanee narrates that the Prophet (Pbuh) said, “Whoever gives a fasting person (food) to break his or her fast, he (the one feeding) will get the reward equivalent to the (fasting persons) reward – without diminishing anything from the reward of the (fasting person).” How do we do this? Ask any Muslim relief agency if they have a ‘feed a fasting person program’. And, we should not forget the needy in our city. Ask around and you will find a gold mine of people to help, in your own backyard.

• Operation Guide the Youth: Often in Ramadan, there are, words of wisdom, halaqahs and reminders, all geared to the adults praying Taraweeh. The youth (including me), it seems, are being disrespectful by talking in the back of the masjid. Just like there are things for the adults, we could have Ramadan activities and reminders geared specifically for the youth. And, it need not be ‘in’ the Masjid. Let’s say the youth like to chat and chill outside in the parking lot. Why not organise the activity there? Yes, on the basketball court or in the parking lot. Have a 5-minute Khatirah, play games with them, and give them some noble projects to complete in Ramadan.

• Turn-off TV Month: Every parent knows that when they want their child to do well in their studies they tell them, “no TV.” If this is for our worldly lives, then how about someone who wants to excel in Ramadan? “Fasting and the Qur’an will come and testify on behalf of the ‘Abd on the Day of Resurrection. The Fasting will say: O my lord, I denied him food and desires, so allow me to be a means for him to enter paradise. And the Qu’ran will say: O my Lord, I denied him sleep at night so allow me to be a means for him to enter Paradise. And (he will be entered into paradise) because of those two.”

• Dua’ Time: Prayers are the weapon of a Momin, and Ramadan is the month of making dua to Allah, an essential compliment to fasting. Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said, “there are three persons whose dua will be accepted (by Allah). The fasting person, the oppressed one, and the traveller.” Try this: Make a list of all your goals in life. Make a section for your a) personal goals; b) spiritual goals; c) economic goals; and d) contribution goals. Every day during Ramadan, take out your list and make dua’ to Allah to grant you the tawfeeq to accomplish your goals.

• Parent Appreciation Month: We all know that the one who wakes us up for Suhoor is our mom. I know it was for me. If not for her alarm clock, her early morning cooking, her motherly love to go and wake everyone up … well, let’s just say our iftars would have become our suhoors. !” Let’s take care of them this month with extra calls, extra hugs, and extra love.

• Masjid Power Hour: During Ramadan, why not spend a few more moments in the Masjid before taking off. This could be done after Fajr or after Asr. Sit back, take the Qur’an and remember Allah. Make this your personal Masjid power hour.

Bad Habit Buster: “Make good habits and habits make you,” says Stephen Covey. Many people already do this. They may have a smoking problem or a TV addiction or such similar time killing activities. When Ramadan comes around they say, “I’m going to train myself to stop smoking or to stop watching excessive TV by abandoning it throughout Ramadan.” Everyone has a bad habit and everyone has a recurring sin they pray they could desist from. Make Ramadan the training month by telling yourself to go without this sin for the entire month. Then, if Allah grants one Tawfeeq to complete the month, one should continue to pray to Allah to keep them away from the sin after Ramadan.

The Gift Groove: Have you ever noticed how beloved a bottle of perfume is when it is handed out by a little four year old Muslim? Everyone loves a gift. Why not take this a step forward? Go to your local Islamic bookstore and request a bulk purchase of some beneficial Islamic materials. Then, hand it out to everyone that comes to your Masjid.

Ramadan Muslims, Convert: It is true that on the first day of Ramadan, the number of Muslims in the local Masjid multiplies considerably. And, it is a sad moment on the first day after Ramadan that the Masjid attendance drops significantly. We want people all year long! Try this: Make a ‘compassion crew’ that reaches out specifically to Ramadan Muslims. Extra special attention is showered on them and roles of responsibility are delegated to them so that they can participate more in the Masjid. Invite them to special Iftars where they are the center of attention.

Home Halaqah: Muslim families often keep their worship for the Masjid, but why not make Muslim family time at home. It could work like this: After Taraweeh or Asr, the family gathers together for 15 minutes. There are many things you could do in your Halaqah, the main thing is that you set time aside for it. For example, each family member may recite a few verses of Qur’an. Or, one of the kids can read a story of the Sahaba so that all family members can be reminded. Or, each family member can speak about the blessings of Allah upon them and what they have in their lives for which they are thankful.

(The writer can be reached at khanziya@rediffmail.com)

Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)
Sayeed bin Zaid
As we recall many Hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh), during the holy month of Ramadan, let us derive inspiration from the companions of the Prophet (Pbuh).

Hazrath Sayeed was son of Zain bin Amr bin Nafel. Zaid was a cousin of Hazrath Umar Bin Khattab, the second caliph. He is known to have wandered here and there in the quest of truth for years without end. This led him to Warqa bin Nofel to embrace Christianity while two others who too were also searching for truth, i.e., Abdullah bin Hajash and Usman bin Haris could reach conclusive end. Zaid studied Christianity and Judaism but his quest for truth remained unsatiated. This finally led him to a monk in Syria who advised him to visit Makkah where God was about to appoint a Prophet who, according to him, ‘would renew the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham)’. Zaid began to return to Makkah but fell into the hands of Bedouin marauders who killed him. Even as he lay breathing his last, he looked towards the sky and prayed to God: ‘O my Lord, You have denied me the opportunity to share the company of the new Prophet. But you should not similarly deprive my son Zaid of the opportunity.’
His prayers were acknowledged. Zaid bin Sayeed was among the first few who responded to Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) invitation to Islam. It was natural as his family had always dissociated itself from the polytheism of the Quraish and were looking for a purer faith. Along with him, his wife Fatima bint Khattab too joined the new faith. Umar became furious when the news of his sister and her husband’s conversion to Islam reached him. Umar warned them of dire consequences. But ultimately the couple prevailed upon Umar to join the new faith.

Zaid was just about 20 when he came over to Islam. He participated in all battles led by the Prophet (Pbuh) except the one at Badr during which he had been sent on a special assignment by the holy Prophet.

During the battle of Yarmauk, Sayeed waged a heroic fight. The Byzantine army had brought a vast armada and a contingent of 124,000 men armed to the teeth. The vanguard comprised Christian clergy who held crosses. The vast panoply of the Byzantine Army was striking awe in the hearts of the Muslims. When the moment for engagement came, Islamic commander Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah exhorted the troops with the Quranic verse:

“If you help Allah, He will help you and will consolidate your position”.

Sayeed says he witnessed person coming forward and asking permission from Abu Ubaidah to lead the charge against the enemy and lay down his life for the sake of Allah.

Sayeed says he witnessed the mujahid jumping into the rival camp and attacking the one who had launched the first assault from the enemy side. Sayeed also plunged himself into the battle and fought till the Islamic forces subdued the Byzantine army. Sayeed also participated in the battle for the conquest of Damascus. Following this he was appointed the governor of Damascus.
However Sayeed bin Zaid is known for yet another famous incident. It so happened that a woman by name Urwa bint Uwais filed a case against him accusing him of ururping her land. She widely publicised herself as a victim against forcible encroachment by Sayeed bin Zaid. She even petitioned the Madinah Governor Marwan bin Hakam against Sayeed. Marwan deputed a team to ascertain the fact from Sayeed. The calumny deeply hurt Sayeed who cursed the woman in the following words: “O my Lord, You know the false campaign against me. Bestow upon me such proof that I could vindicate my position against the campaign. I have done no wrong to the woman. Punish her for false accusation against an innocent man and render her blind and make her fall into the well on the portion of land to which she lays a false claim.”

Showers followed this prayer and the Aqeeq Valley was deluged with swirling waters. Such floods were unprecedented. But they also served to expose the boundaries between the lands of the disputants and falsified her claims. Muslims came to know that Sayeed was truthful in his claim. It did not take even a month that the woman lost her eyesight and fell into the well situated on the land she had been claiming.

Sayeed was one among the ten respected companions of the holy Prophet who were given the glad tidings about a place in the paradise.
Thoughts After Taraweeh
By Shahnawaz Khan
With Ramadan here, Muslims will be spending more time in the Masjids. Let us think of ways by which the potential of the Masjids can be utilised to do wonders for the Ummah

Our Masjids have the biggest unutilized potential and a more active role to play in the growth of our Ummah. Masjids are everywhere, they come in all shapes and sizes and even if a remote village has a population of 5 Muslim families, you will find a Masjid there. Most of the Masjids have been built by philanthropist Muslims and is maintained by the donations of the community, some are run by trusts, some have assets which fund its maintenance and some are owned by rich people. All in all, Muslims have a soft corner for Masjids and consider it a big Sawaab to erect one. During early Islamic days the Masjid was a hub of activity, whenever we arrived in a new city, we set up a Masjid, wherein persons would be available 24 hours a day. New people interested to learn about Islam would come there and pose questions or sit and learn about Islam. The Masjid was the Open University of Islam, not just a place of prayer and it was the most important place of congregation of the local Muslim community, 5 times in a day. Imagine all Muslims meeting at one place 5 times in a day.... No wonder we were the most united of all communities in the world.

The first thing our Prophet (s.a.w.) did when he arrived in Madinah was to construct Masjid Quba on the outskirts of Madinah. Later, he constructed the Masjid that is presently known as Masjid-e-Nabawi in Madinah. In the Masjid, the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to pray, teach the Muslims their religion, distribute Zakat to the poor, discuss any big event affecting the Ummah and consult with his sahabah. Islam is a Way of Life, religion is not separated from any aspect of life. Spiritual values of Peace, Integrity, and Guidance are as important as material values in accordance with Allah’s commandments. For this reason, Masjids are constructed to serve as multi-functional centers of intellectual, spiritual, and cultural enlightenment of the Muslim community.

During the peak of Islamic civilization, the Masjid was an institution of learning that produced brilliant scholars and scientists. Students and scholars of the Masjid enriched Islamic ideological and intellectual legacy with volumes of masterpieces in both theoretical and applied sciences. When Europe was in the dark ages, Islamic centers of learning in Madinah, Basrah, Kufah, Baghdad, Damascus, North Africa and Spain were flourishing. Schools and Islamic universities started inside the Masjids, even outside the Arabian Peninsula. In North Africa and Spain, prestigious centers of learning emerged in Al-Azhar (Egypt), Al-Qayrawan (Morocco), Al-Zaytuna (Tunisia), and Al-Andalus (Spain).

The Masjid must regain its strategic position in shaping the future generations of Muslims. The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to sit inside the Masjid before and after the prayers and he gave the sahabah news of the revelations, which Jibra’eel brought to him from Allah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) then transferred this knowledge to his Companions by reading and explaining the contents of the message. A group of sahabah showed their expertise in the Prophet’s time. Some of them memorised every word uttered by the Prophet (s.a.w.) and narrated the huge wealth of Ahadith and Sunnah to us. Most of the scholars and jurists held study sessions inside the Masjids in the various Islamic disciplines such as Quran, Tafseer, Fiqh, Hadith and Arabic.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) resolved conflicts between the people in the Masjid. Some of his great sahabah sat around him to learn how he ruled between the conflicting parties; either between Muslims or between Muslims and others. Before the construction of courts, the Masjid served as the court-house where people came to seek justice and settled grievances. A Persian traveller, Nasir Khosraw visited Amr ibn al-Aas’ Masjid in Al-Fustat (an ancient Islamic city south of Cairo) in 439 Hijrah. He said that this Masjid contained the courtroom for judges. It also housed the Bai’tul-Maal to keep funds for the orphans and the needy.

One of the functions of the Masjid was that it served as a clinic for the wounded in some of the early battles of Islam. Once, some of the sahabah were injured in a battle led by the Prophet (s.a.w.) and he ordered that they be treated in the Masjid. Pharmacies and dispensaries were located inside the Masjid and the Muslim physicians treated patients and prescribed medications for them freely. An example of such Masjids was the “Qurtuba” Masjid in Muslim Spain. Ahmad ibn Ibrahim, who was one of the greatest Muslim physicians of that time, used to stand in front of the Masjid after the Ishaa’ prayer to treat the poor patients. He used to take someone with him to help him carry the medications. He performed these duties for the love of Allah s.w.t., and most of the pious physicians did the same charitable deeds for the Muslim community.

In the early periods of Islam, issues of importance to the Ummah were discussed in the Masjids. The Prophet’s Masjid served the role of today’s parliaments and councils of elders. Most of the consultative councils were held in the Masjid, such as the ones held before the battles of Uhud, Al-Ahzab, and other expeditions fought for Islamic causes. After the Prophet’s death, the Rightly Guided Caliphs (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali) held consultations on wars, treaties, reconciliations, and other political issues in the Masjid. Members of the Council were from the elders of Muhajirun (Muslims who migrated from Makkah), and the Ansar (the residents of Madinah who helped the Muslims upon their arrival).

The Prophet’s Masjid served as home and shelter for guests and travellers. It had a shaded area at the back where the homeless and the poor live. Abu Hurayrah and other poor sahabah known as Ahl al-Suffah lived in the courtyard of the Prophet’s Masjid. They were always close to the Prophet (s.a.w.) such as Abu Hurayrah, the sahabi who has narrated the largest number of ahadith from the Prophet (s.a.w.)

The wealthy members brought their donations to the Prophet’s Masjid which served the role of today’s charitable relief organizations in collecting the Zakat, and the Sadaqah and distributing it to the needy. Zakat al-Fitr (charity of fast breaking), booty, and donations from different regions were also brought to the Masjid for distribution.

Somewhere down the line, the Masjid became just a place of prayer, as is today. Hence it has lost its real place in our lives, we just go there, offer our prayer and get out within 15 minutes. What we need to do is recognize the fact, that the Masjid has played a pivotal role in the establishment, maintenance and growth of Islam in the past, and we need to bring back this system into our Masjids today. We should have people in the Masjid 24 hours a day, who offer to teach you various things, such as the Arabic Language, the Holy Quran, the Ahadith and all other knowledge based tools. It should offer to solve our problems, answer questions, give you announcements, call for meetings, collect data about local Muslims, offer help to the poor, provide employment to the needy, be a source of contacts, collect and distribute Zakat, make Haafiz and Alims and give tuitions. You see, the infra-structure already exists around the world, in the smallest of villages and the largest of cities, we are only grossly under-utilising its potential to do wonders with the Ummah....let us do something about it. (The writer can be reached at sskhan@gawab.com)

What's Up Kids?
By Nigar Ataulla
Bangalore
Make Ramadan all the more memorable for kids by letting them enjoy the first-of-its kind, Quran Challenge Game with their friends!

Ramadan brings with it peace and tranquility. There is a special sort of contentment Muslims feel when they are in the fasting mode. The excitement of waking up for Sehri and then the siren that goes off to indicate that its time for Iftar is something that one will certainly miss once Ramadan is over.

So let us make the best use of this holy month. What do kids do during this month. Scan the Internet and you will find loads of activity dedicated to children during Ramadan, From making paper lanterns to card-board Masjids, the internet tempts children to hook on to cyberspace.

But there can be nothing as relaxing and as enlightening than reading a book and more so if it is a book that takes the child’s mind towards the Quran.

During Ramadan, the holy month in which the Quran was revealed, parents take extra care to read the Quran to their children and some parents take the initiative to explain the meaning of the verses to their children.

To make the children reflect on the glory of the Quran and to pull them towards understanding the essence, Best selling author Saniyasnain Khan of the Goodword Books fame has come up with the Goodnight Stories from the Quran and Just for Kids Quran Stories.

Author of numerous books for children, of which over a million copies have been sold worldwide, these books reflect his own love of story-telling and deep respect for the eternal message of the Quran. These books will act as a foundation on which the children can build a growing knowledge of the Quran. Starting with How Allah Created the Universe to Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) Message of Peace, the stories are backed by mind-blowing colour illustrations! The print quality is simply world-class.

With Ramadan here, children are surely going to enjoy reading these books as they will easily link the spirit of the Quran with each story.

Remember playing snake and ladder sometime as a kid? Well! Keep that packed away into your attic and as now is the era of the Junior Quran Challenge Game, again a creative masterpiece by Saniyasnain Khan.

The Junior Quran Challenge Game is a unique first-of-its kind game based on the holy Quran. The idea behind this game is to provide children with both fun and education. All questions are taken from the Quran and the game can be played at school or at home with all the family members. The game consists of a Playing Board, 50 Question Cards, and Pawns. According to the rules of the game, two or more players can play this game at one time. To start, all players place their pawns at the start which is shown by a camel on the playing board. Each category on a question card is represented by a symbol. The player who starts the game begins his or her journey by advancing the pawn one step and answering the question for the category he or she has advanced to. If the answer is correct, the player moves to the next square, but in case the answer is incorrect the player stays at the same square. The winner is the player who finishes the game first.

Developed by Saniyasnain Khan along with Research Associate, Khalid Perwez, the Quran Challenge Game is a journey into the world of fun, wisdom and education. So begin your journey and find out how learning can be fun.

The books and the game makes learning about Islam and the Quran very easy and light. And that’s what kids today are looking for. So make this Ramadan all the more memorable by picking up the Goodnight Stories from the Quran and the Quran Challenge Game for children and there is set of the game for grown-ups too. You can get in touch with Saniyasnain Khan at Goodword Books Pvt Ltd,
1, Nizamuddin West Market, New Delhi-110013.
Email: info@goodwordbooks or Bookware, Syed Tanveer Ahmed,
Bangalore. Ph:23543401, 9844158731.

Medical Benefits of Ramadan
By Dr. Shahid Athar
Fasting during Ramadan improves the health and stamina, so enjoy your Rozas.

Most Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits, but because it has been ordained to them in the Quran. The medical benefits of fasting are as a result of fasting. Fasting in general has been used in medicine for medical reasons including weight management, for rest of the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. There are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as so-called crash diets. Islamic fasting is different from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake. The calorie intake of Muslims during Ramadan is at or slightly below the national requirement guidelines.
Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. If the lessons learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one’s entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in moderate quantities.

The only difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and take an early breakfast and do not eat until dusk. Abstinence from water during this period is not bad at all and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation, at least in plant life, improve their longevity.

The physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity and essential hypertension. In 1994, the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan”, held in Casablanca, entered 50 research papers from all over the world, from Muslim and non-Muslim researchers who have done extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any patients’ health or baseline medical condition.

There are psychological effects of fasting as well. There is peace and tranquility for those who fast during the month of Ramadan. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rate decreases. Muslims take advice from the Prophet (Pbuh) who said, “If one slanders you, say I am fasting.’” This psychological improvement could be related to better stabilization of blood glucose during fasting as hypoglycemia after eating, aggravates behaviour changes.

There is a beneficial effect of extra prayer at night. There are 10 extra calories output for each rikat of the prayer. Again, we do not do prayers for exercise, but a mild movement of the joints with extra calorie utilization is a better form of exercise. Similarly, recitation of the Quran not only produces a tranquility of heart and mind, but improves the memory. I encourage my Muslim patients to fast in the month of Ramadan, but they must do it under medical supervision. Healthy adult Muslims should not fear becoming weak by fasting, but instead it should improve their health and stamina.
Prophet Muhammad's (Pbuh) Sermon About Ramadan
A Sermon on the last Friday of Sha’ban on the Reception of the Month of Ramadan.

“O People ! Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered. So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite his book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month. Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honour your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, show compassion to the orphans of people, so compassion may be shown to your orphans. Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if he is asked ...

“O People! Indeed your souls are dependant on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by his might: That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.

“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven. Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”

The Prophet (Pbuh) replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.” “One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the ‘Siraat’ ... on the day that feet will slip ... “One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgement ... “As for one who honours an orphan; Allah will honour him on the day of judgement, “And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgement. “As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him ... “Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him”, “Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month. And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of measure”. “He who recites one verse of the Holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the whole Quran during other months. “O People! Indeed during this month the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Satan) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.”

Greetings to the Muslims of the World!
By Harun Yahya
So many Muslims, in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, East Turkestan, Indonesia and other countries are entering this holy month of Ramadan to the accompaniment of violence, conflict and war.

I offer my best wishes to Muslims all over the world on the occasion of the month of Ramadan, and sincerely hope that this holy month will bring plenty, well being and particularly peace to all believers. So many Muslims, in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, East Turkestan, Indonesia and other countries are entering this month to the accompaniment of violence, conflict and war. The sole desire of these innocent people caught in the ravages of poverty, hunger and disease is to be able to live by their religion, in an atmosphere of peace and stability, and to live their lives unmolested.

In order for all these problems to come to an end, therefore, all Muslims need to come together as one, make a serious effort to make the values of the Qur’an prevail, and cooperate to offer all assistance possible to their needy Muslim brethren. The month of Ramadan is particularly important as a time when cooperation and helping others come to the fore. The important thing here is for nobody to think “what good can any help from me do?” but to work with a sincere heart. What must not be forgotten is that it is Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds, who will permit these efforts to succeed and accept the prayers of the faithful.

The month of Ramadan is one of abundance, described in the Qur’an, itself sent down as a guide to all of mankind, as “better than a thousand months” (Surat al-Qadr: 3) and which contains the Night of Power. Throughout this month all the Muslims of the world carry out their fasting obligation as one and thank their Lord for the blessings He has given them.

Fulfilling one’s obligation of fasting in a manner pleasing to Allah is a sign of strong faith, purity, sincerity and fear of Allah. Fasting is an act of worship between Allah and His servant, since only Allah knows a person’s intentions, sincerity, purity, and the care he takes over the lawful and unlawful as he fulfills this obligation. Nobody can know whether someone else fasts to impress those around him or else out of sincere intent. A person who fasts is recompensed for this act of worship only in the sight of Allah. Our Prophet gave believers great glad tidings in a hadith: “How happy are those who spend this month fasting, worshipping and in doing good deeds!”

Allah reveals the obligatory nature of fasting in Surat al-Baqara:
You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil). (Surat al-Baqara: 183)

As is revealed in that verse, one of the reasons why fasting is obligatory is for people to avoid evil and restrain their desires. The only way to do that is to believe in Allah with a sincere heart, abide by His commands and recommendations and avoid the temptations of one’s desires. Such a person’s morality will grow ever more pleasing with time, his faith will mature and his fear of Allah grow stronger.

However, the important thing is that the pure faith, sincere prayer, care taken over the remembrance of Allah and attention to restraining one’s desires acquired during the month of Ramadan should not weaken once it is over. A person with strong faith spreads the superior morality of Ramadan over every moment of his life. Allah has made fasting on certain days an obligation, and has commanded people to avoid wrongdoing. Yet one must avoid wrongdoing throughout one’s life, listen to the voice of one’s conscience, make efforts to win Allah’s good pleasure with godly intent and turn only to Him. That is the morality that Allah will find pleasing. Doing the opposite, in other words only worshipping, praying and remembering Allah during the month of Ramadan, and then turning away from the truths revealed in the Qur’an once that month is over is behaviour condemned by Allah. That is because on the Day of Judgement a person will be asked to account for all his deeds, great and small, and will be appropriately rewarded for them. Those who avoided evil and listened to the voice of their conscience will be saved, and those who denied Him will suffer the endless torments of hell.


Fasting and Internal Cleanliness
By S.P.Kewal
Fasting is a permanent cure to get rid of unhealthy habits like drugs and alcoholism.

Fasting is one of the oldest of remedial measures known to man, not only for the ills of the body, but for those of the soul. Abstinence often kills a sickness in embryo and destroys the seeds of a disease. Fasting is the strongest fence against ailments. But there is much prejudice against fasting, because people do not understand what fasting is and what it accomplishes. Fasting is not starving. To fast is to go without food when the body is in such condition that food cannot be properly digested and assimilated. To starve is to go without food when the body is in condition be digest and assimilate food and needs nourishment. It is quite generally believed that if food is withheld for six or seven days, the result will be fatal. Under proper conditions one can go without food for two or three months. Perhaps most people could not do without food for the latter period, but fasts of that duration are on record. Fat people can live on their tissues for a long time before they are reduced to normal weight slender ones can live on water for an extended period.

Fasting is the quickest way to produce internal cleanliness, which is health. When the system is clean the cravings, longings and appetites are not so strong as when the body is full of poisons. For this reason, a fast is the best way to destroy the cravings for tobacco, coffee, tea, alcohol and other habit –forming drugs.

After the fast is over, the individual lives moderately and simply and is fully determined not be return to the use of the drugs, a permanent cure will be the reward. A smooth, silky soft and glowing skin will become a part of your personality. However, it is very easy to drift back into the old habits. A permanent cure requires that there will be no compromise, no saying “I shall do it this time, but never again”.