Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

Ramadan 1424 H
November 2003
Volume 16-11 No : 203
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Blessings of Ramadan


Ramadan is not about Skipping Meals!
The Month of Mercy
Repentance in Ramadan
Reality and Obligation in Ramadan
How to Seek Laylat-ul-Qadr
Praying Qiyaam
Making Supplications
"Not done enough this Ramadan"
Last Ten Days of Ramadan
The Ramadan Checklist
Advice on Diet
Advice for the sick who fast during Ramadan
Watch Your Diet in Ramadan
Surrender Yourself to Allah
Itikaf- Spiritual Retreat in Ramadan
Wake Up Kids! It's Time for Suhoor!
Tips for fasting with children
Refugee Kids and Ramadan Lanterns
How the Prophet (Pbuh) Celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr
Method of Eid Prayers
Facts on Zakat
Cooking Holiday during Ramadan

Ramadan is not about Skipping Meals!

Ramadan is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout the Muslim communities

By Khalid Baig

Fasting during Ramadan was ordained during the second year of Hijrah. Why not earlier? In Makkah, the economic conditions of the Muslims was bad. They were being persecuted. Often days would go by before they had anything to eat. It is easy to skip meals if you don't have any. Obviously fasting would have been easier under the circumstances. So why not then?

The answer may be that Ramadan is not only about skipping meals. While fasting is an integral and paramount part of it, Ramadan offers a comprehensive program for our spiritual overhaul. The entire program required the peace and security that was offered by Madinah.

Yes, Ramadan is the most important month of the year. It is the month that the believers await with eagerness. At the beginning of Rajab --- two full months before Ramadan --- the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) used to supplicate thus: "O Allah! Bless us during Rajab and Sha'ban, and let us reach Ramadan (in good health)."

During Ramadan, the believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection from Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator. It is the spring season for goodness and virtues when righteousness blossoms throughout the Muslim communities. "If we combine all the blessings of the other eleven months, they would not add up to the blessings of Ramadan," said the great scholar and reformer Shaikh Ahmed Farooqi (Mujaddad Alif Thani). It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his Iman, purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him.

"Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven," said Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh). Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven." As other AHadith tell us, the rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.

Along with the possibility of a great reward, there is the risk of a terrible loss. If we let any other month pass by carelessly, we just lost a month. If we do the same during Ramadan, we have lost everything. The person who misses just one day's fast without a legitimate reason, cannot really make up for it even if he were to fast everyday for the rest of his life.

One who does not fast is answerable to Allah, but so also is the person who fasts and prays but makes no effort to stay away from sins or attain purity of the heart through the numerous opportunities offered by Ramadan. The Prophet warned us: "There are those who get nothing from their fast, but hunger and thirst. There are those who get nothing from their nightly prayers, but loss of sleep."

We know that the term Ibada (worship and obedience) in Islam applies not only to the formal acts of worship and devotion like Salat , Tilawa, and Dhikr, but it also applies to worldly acts when performed in obedience to Shariah and with the intention of pleasing Allah. Thus a believer going to work is performing Ibada when he seeks Halal income to discharge his responsibility as a bread-winner for the family. However a distinction must be made between the two. The first category consists of direct Ibada, acts that are required for their own sake. The second category consists of indirect Ibada --- worldly acts that become Ibada through proper intention and observation of Shariah. While the second category is important for it extends the idea of Ibada to our entire life, there is also a danger because by their very nature these acts can camouflage other motives. (Is my going to work really Ibada or am I actually in the rat race?). Here the direct Ibada comes to the rescue. Through them we can purify our motives, and re-establish our relationship with Allah.

Islam does not approve of monasticism. It does not ask us to permanently isolate ourselves from this world, since our test is in living here according to the Commands of our Creator. But it does ask us to take periodic breaks from it. The mandatory Salat (five daily prayers) is one example. For a few minutes everyday, we leave the affairs of this world and appear before Allah to remind ourselves that none but He is worthy of worship and of our unfaltering obedience. Ramadan takes this to the next higher plane, providing intense training for a whole month.

This spirit is captured in I'tikaf, a unique Ibada associated with Ramadan, in which a person gives up all his normal activities and enters a mosque for a specific period. There is great merit in it and every Muslim community is encouraged to provide at least one person who will perform I'tikaf for the last ten days of Ramadan. But even those who cannot spare ten days are encouraged to spend as much time in the mosque as possible.

Through direct Ibada we "charge our batteries"; the indirect ones allow us to use the power so accumulated in driving the vehicle of our life. Ramadan is the month for rebuilding our spiritual strength. How much we benefit from it is up to us.

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The Month of Mercy

We must beg for Allah's forgiveness because we have broken so many of His rules and covenants and disobeyed His commands during the year

By Dr. Yunus Aidaroos

"Ramadan is a month whose beginning is Mercy, whose middle is Forgiveness and whose end is freedom from the fire." Hadith of the Prophet (Pbuh).

Mercy > Forgiveness > Freedom from Fire.

Ponder on the inherent logical sequence of the above! We cannot be exempt from fire without first being forgiven. And to be forgiven, we must be graced by Allah's mercy.

The first one third of Ramadan (10days ) is MERCY from Allah.

1. Can we expect to receive mercy if we only deprive our bodies of food and drink? Of course not. Because Ramadan is meant for SPIRITUAL development through fasting. Physiologically, by fasting the body eliminates toxins efficiently and the mind becomes clear for "power thinking" so that one may ponder on the meaning of the Qur'an, Hadith and the necessity of Zikr. One must also do some self-analysis to monitor and correct one's behaviour if necessary. With meditation, the mind becomes quiet and so should our tongues!

2. Allah is looking for a sincere commitment from us and not just physical starvation till sunset and then returning to the status quo. Ramadan does not end at every iftar. It ends only on sighting the hilal of Shawwal. So the hard spiritual work must carry on for the whole of the month.

3. One must plead for mercy and sincerely cry to receive it because without it, we are stuck at stage one and our prospects of "freedom from fire" will be bleak.

4. Therefore this stage one is for sincere confession to Allah that we are weak and sinful and that we desperately need His mercy. We have only about 10 days to qualify to stage two.

The second one third of Ramadan is FORGIVENESS

1. We must now beg for Allah's forgiveness because we have broken so many of His rules and covenants and disobeyed His commands during the year, both knowingly and unknowingly. We must say istighfaar day and night and ask in every sajda for forgiveness. We must be afraid that if Allah does not forgive, we will surely be among the losers. Here again, Allah will be assessing the degree of sincerity in our repentance. He looks not for lip service, but for soul service!

2. We must also be forgiving to other people's mistakes and tempers.

The last one third of Ramadan is ......... FREEDOM FROM FIRE

These are our last ten days or so. Instead of just focusing on Laylat Al-Qadar (the night of power), one should intensify supplications for the whole last third of Ramadan. If possible and affordable, then do go for Umrah ... it will be probably the most spiritually fulfilling experience you will have, aside from Hajj. And Umrah in Ramadan is equivalent to having done a Hajj. At the completion of the last fast, be optimistically hopeful that you will be alive to give similar pious worship during the forthcoming Ramadans. And if you remain guided in your life, then you'll be will be admitted to Paradise, Insha'Allah, by the Ryan gate of Paradise! Indeed Allah does not break His promise to his slaves.

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Repentance in Ramadan

If you are not forgiven, if your eyes do not shed tears and your heart does not break before Allah in this month, then when?

By Ibraheem ibn Hamad al-Mansoor

O you who did not have enough of sin in Rajab,

So he continued to disobey his Lord during the month of Sha'baan,

Now these two months have been followed by the month of patience,

So do not let this be a month of sin too.

Recite the Quran and glorify your Lord during this month, striving your utmost,

For it is the month of glorification and Qur'an.

The month of Ramadan has come

So come to Allah, O seeker of good.

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: "When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and demons are chained up, and the gates of Hell are closed and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. And a caller calls out: "O seeker of good, come to Allah; O seeker of evil, desist." Allah will have ransomed some people from the Fire, and that happens every night." (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah).

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Pbuh) said, "Ameen, ameen, ameen." It was said, "Messenger of Allah, you climbed up on the minbar and said, "Ameen, ameen, ameen." He said, "Jibreel (peace be upon him), came to me and said, "Whoever witnesses the month of Ramadan and is not forgiven, so he enters Hell, may Allah cast him away. Say Ameen." So I said Ameen." (This Hadith was narrated by Ahmad).

Yes! Ramadan has come, so turn to your Lord Whom you have disobeyed, beseeching Him and fearing Him, regretting and weeping, and say:

O God of the Universe, I am returning (to You).

O Giver of all good things, give me guidance,

For there is no good without guidance.

Overlook my mistakes with forgiveness, kindness and mercy,

For no one else can bestow forgiveness.

If you are not forgiven, if your eyes do not shed tears and your heart does not break before your Lord in this month, then when?

Why do you not shed tears for fear of your Lord even once? Do you not feel that your heart is close to your Lord during this month? Do you not think that this is an opportunity for you to draw closer to your Lord and increase in humility, repentance and submission, so that it may be the true beginning of your returning to your Lord so that you may be more closely connected with Allah?

"While as for those who accept guidance, He increases their guidance and bestows on them their piety" [Muhammad 47:17]

Allah rebukes us and tells us :

"O man! What has made you careless about your Lord, the Most Generous?" [al-Infitaar 82:6].

Indeed, O man, what has made you careless about your Lord, so that you have become so audacious in disobeying Him and transgressing His limits? Is it because you are ignoring His blessings? Or because you forget that He is always watching over you, and that He is almighty?

I am the one who closes the doors, striving in sin (in secret),

Although the eye of Allah is watching me.

How patient Allah is with me, when He lets me off

Although I persist in my sin, and He covers me.

Do not look at how small your sin is, but look at how great is the One Whom you are disobeying. Do not let Allah be the one whom you care the least about of all those who are watching you.

"Say: "O 'Ibaadi (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful" [al-Zumar 39:53]

"And those who invoke not any other ilaah (god) along with Allah, nor kill such person as Allah has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse and whoever does this shall receive the punishment. The torment will be doubled to him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein in disgrace. Except those who repent and believe (in Islamic Monotheism), and do righteous deeds; for those, Allah will change their sins into good deeds, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful" [al-Furqaan 25:68-70]

This is a great blessing and a great deal, for Allah will change your sins into good deeds! Allah is Most Great. No one misses out on such a great deal except one who is ignorant or who does not care about this blessing. So repent, if you want this great deal, Allah will change your sins into good deeds.

And listen to what your beloved Prophet (Pbuh) said to encourage people to repent:

"Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His slave than one of you who suddenly finds his camel laden with supplies after losing it in a barren land."

And the Prophet said: "Allah says: "O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I will forgive you no matter what you have done, and I do not mind. O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach up to the clouds of the sky, then you were to ask Me for forgiveness, I will forgive you and I do not mind."

And the Prophet said: "Allah says, "O My slaves, you commit sins by night and by day, but I forgive all sins. So ask Me for forgiveness and I will forgive you."

"Allah stretches forth His hand by night to accept the repentance of those who sinned during the day, and He stretches forth His hand by day to accept the repentance of those who sinned during the night. This will continue until the sun rises from the west."

Allah is Most Great! After knowing of this generosity, can we ignore the matter of repentance? Can we delay repenting? O Allah, glory be to You, how merciful You are. Glory be to You, how kind You are. Glory be to You, how generous You are.

When my heart grew hard and I did not know where to turn,

I made the hope of Your forgiveness my way out.

I thought that my sin was so great, but when I compared it

To Your forgiveness, my Lord, Your forgiveness was greater.

You never cease to forgive sin, and You never cease

To be generous, out of Your bounty and kindness.

What is keeping you from repenting and following the path of righteousness? I can imagine you saying, "My family, community and friends. I am afraid of repenting then going back to my sin. My sins are so many, how can I be forgiven? I am worried about my family and my wealth." I say to you: Do you think that you will say that to your Lord on the Day when you meet Him? No, by Allah! These are imaginary obstacles which can only be overcome by one who fears his Lord.

Know that repentance is not limited only to this month, it may take place during this or any other month. But why should your new beginning not take place in the month of goodness and blessing? if you have resolved to repent and turn back to your Lord, then know that there are conditions which must be met when repenting:

1- Regret for what is past.

2- Giving up the sin.

3- Resolving not to go back to it. But if you do it again, then repent to Allah again but your resolve must be genuine.

4- The repentance must come before the death-rattle reaches the throat and before the sun rises in the west.

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Reality and Obligation in Ramadan

During this Ramadan, do not let the sweetness of our deeds vanish into the night, leaving only emptiness. When one contemplates the texts on fasting, its wisdom and goals in Shariah, and looks at the reality of the Muslim communities, one realises a wide gap between the reality and our obligations. Remember that Ramadan is a bounty that Allah blessed His servants with, to strengthen their faith, and increase their piety (Taqwa). Allah said: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious." (Al-Baqarah 2:183). Many Muslims ignore the purpose and wisdom of fasting. Fasting is done merely to conform to the social environment without contemplation.


Goals of Fasting

Achieving Taqwa: is one of the most important wisdom of fasting. Fasting brings on Taqwa as it lessens the desire of the stomach and mutes the sexual appetite. Whoever fasts frequently would overcome these two desires more easily. Strengthening willpower and acquiring patience: The Prophet (Pbuh) called Ramadan the month of patience as it increases one's will power to control his desire and the selfishness of his soul. This training allows him to be strong in following Allah's commands.

Fasting is pure worship: The fact that he is abstaining from food and drink both in public and in secret shows his honest faith and strong love of Allah, and his knowledge and feeling that Allah is all-knowing of everything. For this reason Allah has made the reward for fasting greater than for any other type of worship.

Relieving Muslims from life's distractions: Eating, drinking, and socializing, all distract a person and weaken ties with Allah. It is by the Mercy of Allah that Muslims are ordered to fast so as not to be bothered by the intrusion of these activities. Nor by the thought about them nor the anticipation for them when devoting themselves to all types of worship- either reading the Quran, offering additional prayer or making I'tikaf. For this reason the Prophet (Pbuh) said: "Fasting is a shield, and a secure fortress against Hell fire."

Discovering Allah's Blessings: A person experiences the hardship of the poor. He should then be thankful to Allah who has blessed him with His bounty while others are deprived. This should make him more sympathetic and willing to share this bounty.

Acquiring strength and endurance: It has been discovered that depriving the body of food for a period of time helps its defence and endurance mechanism. This in turn protects the body from certain diseases.

Remember that fasting is not only dependent on abstentions: Many believe that fasting consists only of certain abstentions, forgetting that Allah established certain acts of worship with fasting. Among which are:

Qiyamul-layl: The Prophet said: "Whoever performed the night prayer during Ramadan out of belief and anticipating God's rewards, will be forgiven his previous sins."(Related by Muslim).

Performing Umrah: The Prophet said: "An Umrah during Ramadan is like a Hajj with me." (Related by al-Hakim).

Offering Iftar (meal) to those who fasted. The Prophet said: "Whoever feeds a fasting person has the same reward as him, except that the reward of the fasting person will not be diminished."

Reading and completing the Quran: The Prophet said: "Fasting and reading the Qur'an will intercede for the person: fasting will say: O Lord I forbade from him eating and drinking so let me intercede for him, and the Quran will say: I deprived him from his night sleep, so let me intercede for him," he then said: "So they will intercede." (Related by Ahmad).

Giving in charity: The Prophet was the most generous among people, and he was more generous during the month of Ramadan.

Itikaaf: which is to confine oneself in the mosque for prayer and invocation leaving the worldly activities. The Prophet used to perforrn I'tikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan.

Repentance: Ramadan is the time of repentance and return to Allah, for it is a time when the devils are chained, and when many people are saved from hell fire every night by the grace of Allah.

Applying oneself in all good deeds in the last ten days of Ramadan: The Messenger of Allah used to strive very hard in worship in the last days of Ramadan.

Abstaining from vain talk: Sins decrease the reward of fasting although they do not annul it. The Prophet said: "Fasting is not only abstaining from eating and drinking, but abstaining from vain and obscene talk, so if someone insulted you or wronged you say: I am fasting."

Common Errors made during Ramadan

Excessive spending: Ramadan should be a time to avoid being wasteful, and learning to be prepared in facing harder times by distinguishing the needs from the luxuries. Unfortunately, many people go beyond their limits to spend during Ramadan, whether in the varieties of food that they savor each night, or by the other types of spending.

Staying awake during the night and sleeping during the day: Some people sleep during most of the day when they are fasting. Ramadan is not a time of being lazy. In addition, some may spend a great portion of the night indulging in eating and drinking and socialising

Reading the Quran too fast: Some inist on finishing the whole Quran once or more, even if they have to read very fast. Although reading the Qur'an many times is desirable, this should not be done hastily, especially during the Tarawih prayer without pondering upon its meaning.

The Muslim should apply himself to deepen his sense of following the Sunnah of the Prophet in every aspect of his life, at all times and especially during the month of Ramadan. This necessitates seeking more knowledge about the Fiqh of fasting and its etiquette, assimilating the wisdom and goals of fasting, and facilitating the means that allow all the Muslims to benefit from their fasting.

(Source: Al-Jumuah Magazine)

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How to Seek Laylat-ul-Qadr

Laylat- ul-Qadr is the most blessed night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is zealous to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience. If this is facilitated for him, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.

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Praying Qiyaam

It is recommended to make a long Qiyaam prayer during the nights on which Laylat- ul-Qadr could fall. This is indicated in many Ahadith.

Abu Tharr (RA) relates:

"We fasted with Allah's Messenger (Pbuh) in Ramadan. He did not lead us (in qiyaam) at all until there were seven nights of Ramadan left. Then he stood with us that night in prayer until one third of the night had passed. He did not pray with us on the sixth. On the fifth night, he prayed with us until half of the night had passed. So we said, 'Allah's Messenger! Wouldn't you pray with us the whole night?' He replied:

'Whoever stands in prayer with the imam until he (the imaam) concludes the prayer, it is recorded for him that he prayed the whole night.'

Abu Hurayrah (RA) narrated that the Prophet said:

"Whoever stands (in qiyaam) in Laylat- ul-Qadr and it is facilitated for him out of faith and expectation of Allah's reward, will have all of his previous sins forgiven." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) the addition "and it is facilitated for him" is recorded by Ahmad from the report of `Ubaadah Bin as-Samit; it means that he is permitted to be among the sincere worshippers during that blessed night).

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Making Supplications

It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. Hazrath Aishah (RA) reported that she asked Allah's Messenger (Pbuh) "O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat- ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?" And he instructed her to say:

"Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fafu annee - O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me."

(Compiled by Muhammad al-Jibali)

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"Not done enough this Ramadan"

By Udiana Jamalludin

I ask myself tonight!

"Oh how swiftly, it's mid-Ramadan now

I sit here, wondering and thinking how,

Have I spent my first days of Ramadan fruitfully?

Or have I wasted the time unknowingly?"

Ramadan comes, for a short month it's here

Will I ever meet the Ramadan next year?

Allah Oh Allah, help me guide my heart through

For only You know, if I've devoted enough to You."

"Not done enough this Ramadan" by Udiana Jamalludin

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Last Ten Days of Ramadan

Ask Yourself these 25 Questions

Ramadan, as usual, has flown by. Despite planning beforehand, many of us may have got caught up in a routine after accustoming ourselves to the change in schedule the blessed month brings.

This may have affected our initial plans to increase our worship, contemplation and to seek Allah's Forgiveness and Mercy with greater fervor. But the last ten days and nights of Ramadan are still ahead for us to benefit from. Ask yourself these questions and see what you can do to make the most of what's left of Ramadan this year.

1. Have I kept pace with the amount of Quran I wanted to read, or have I fallen behind?

2. If so, how much do I have to read on a daily basis the rest of Ramadan to catch up?

3. Have I tried to attend Tarawih regularly, or did I use weak excuses to get out of it?

4. Did I ever pray the night prayer?

5. Did I try praying my five daily prayers with more sincerity, concentration, and focus than usual?

6. Did I invite anyone over for Iftar (breaking the fast)?

7. Did I help any needy person, even a beggar, when I was fasting?

8. Did I regularly seek Allah's Forgiveness and Mercy with sincerity, fear and hope?

9. Did I encourage my family to fast or participate in regular opportunities for more rewards that come with Ramadan (i.e. good deeds in general, but also Tarawih, more reading of the Quran, etc).

10. Did I memorise any more Quran than what I knew before Ramadan started?

11. Did I try to be more patient in Ramadan than I normally am?

12. Did I try to control my anger, especially while fasting?

13. Did I try harder to avoid backbiting and slander?

14. Did I constantly check my intentions, to make sure that my good deeds were for the sake of Allah alone, not to impress others, gain their favour or to show off?

15. Was there even an atom of pride in my heart?

16. Was I quieter and more contemplative?

17. Did I cry in my prayers?

18. Did I read more Islamic literature apart from the Quran?

19. Did I make sincere repentance to Allah, really feeling sorry for my sins?

20. Did I forgive those who hurt me?

21. Did I avoid hurting anyone with my attitude, words, intentions or actions?

22. Did I give any more Sadaqah (charity) than I normally give?

23. Did I share the message of Ramadan and Islam with a non-Muslim?

24. Did I share the message of Ramadan and Islam with a non-practising Muslim family member or friend?

25. Did I feel annoyed at being hungry while fasting or did I rejoice?

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The Ramadan Checklist

When starting on a journey, most people like to have a list of items that they will need. Before departure they make sure they have all the items. That is to ensure they do not spoil their trip by forgetting something, or not being well equipped for the trip. A journey is usually exciting, and travellers like to make the most of the opportunity to enjoy themselves.

Ramadan is a spiritual journey for the believer. For the whole month, he travels to get nearer to Allah. On the way he will pass many obstacles and diversions which may hinder and slow his passage. To make sure that his journey is swift and progressive, he needs many items. The following are some of the necessary items for a believer's trip towards Allah.

An Attitude of Anticipation and Enthusiasm

A believer looks forward to the month of Ramadan. He enjoys the beauty of spirit that Ramadan begins with, the warmth of carrying out the orders of Allah, the hope of achieving His pleasure, and the happiness at being able to obey the commands of Allah. He is happy when the month arrives and sad when it departs.

Flexible Time and Schedule

Ramadan requires that we set aside more time than normal for worship and prayers. A believer plans his time in such a way that in Ramadan he is not overwhelmed by the demands of the world. He lessens work if possible and cuts down on activities which can be put to a halt for a little while.

A Quran with a good Translation

An important part of worship in Ramadan includes reciting the Quran regularly. A believer makes sure he has a copy of the Quran which is easy to read, and which has a simple translation which he can understand. If time permits, he should also read the commentary of the Quran.

A Donation to a Worthwhile Charity

Ramadan is the best time to donate in the way of Allah. To feed the hungry or give to the needy is an act of great reward, especially during the holy month. A Determination to Avoid Sins

Fasting is not mere abstinence from food and drink, as we have heard many times. It is also staying away from all sins. While fasting, all the organs of the body fast, and refrain from doing anything which would displease Allah. This conscious preparation of a war against sins is a very necessary item in the baggage of a believer in his journey towards Allah.

A Desire to Help Others

In his sermon at the approach of the holy month of Ramadan, the Prophet (Pbuh) said: Whoever lightens the work of his workers in this month, Allah will make easy his accounting on the Day of Judgement. To help and lessen the work of others: parents, siblings, relatives and friends during the holy month is an act of great virtue.

It is a great loss for the believer if the whole month of mercy and blessings passes, and he has not been able to achieve forgiveness of his sins, and has not won the pleasure of Allah, and the rewards that He gives so abundantly during Ramadan. To avoid such a failure, it is necessary to keep a Ramadan checklist that is regularly updated.

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Advice on Diet

There is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten in the period immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner, or sahur (the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The reasons for this are two-fold. First, and most importantly, such a lifestyle contradicts the principal aims and spirit of Ramadan. Over-eating can be seen as a reflection of weak discipline and irresponsibility. Secondly, the body has regulatory mechanisms that reduce the metabolic rate and ensure efficient utilisation of body fat. Furthermore, most people assume a more sedentary lifestyle while fasting. The net result is that a balanced diet, that consists of less than the normal amount of food intake, is sufficient to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.

To remain healthy during Ramadan, one should consume food from the major food groups: bread and cereal, milk and dairy products, fish, meat and poultry, beans, vegetables and fruits. (Vegetarians should amend this list as appropriate.) Intake of fruits after a meal is strongly suggested. Diet in Ramadan should not differ much from the normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that normal weight is maintained, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is overweight, Ramadan is an ideal time to try to normalise one's weight.

In view of the long hours of fasting, the so-called "complex carbohydrates" or slow digesting foods should be consumed at sahur so that the food lasts longer (about eight hours) resulting in less hunger during the day. These complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice.

In contrast, refined carbohydrates or fast-digesting foods last for only three to four hours and may be better taken at iftar to restore blood glucose levels rapidly. Fast-burning foods include those that contain sugar and white flour. Dates are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium and have been recommended since the days of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) as a good way of breaking the fast.

Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar, such as sweets, can cause health problems and should be limited during Ramadan. They cause indigestion, heart-burn and weight problems. Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels causing a burning feeling, a heaviness in the stomach, and a sour mouth. This can be overcome by eating foods rich in fibre such as whole wheat bread, vegetables, beans and fruits. These foods trigger muscular action, churning and mixing food, breaking it into small particles, and thus help reduce the build- up of acid in the stomach.

Drinking of sufficient water and juices between iftar and sleep, to avoid dehydration, and for detoxification of the digestive system, should be encouraged in fasting individuals. However, the intake of large amounts of caffeine-containing beverages should be avoided, especially at sahur. For example, drinking too much tea will increase urine output and inevitably cause the loss of valuable mineral salts. Fruits such as bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. However, bananas can cause constipation and their intake has to be balanced with adequate fibre intake.

It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. Overweight people should increase the amount of exercise and reduce the amount of food intake to help reduce weight.

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Advice for the sick who fast during Ramadan

By Saghir Akhtar

Ramadan fasting is obligatory for the healthy adult but, when fasting might significantly affect the health of the fasting individual or when one is genuinely sick, Islam exempts him or her from fasting. "God intends every facility for you, he does not want to put you into difficulties" (Koran 2:185). From an Islamic point of view, this exemption represents more than a simple permission not to fast. The Prophet said: "God likes his permission to be fulfilled, as he likes his will to be executed." Another saying suggests that "a gift that God gives you, you have to accept". In the light of these sayings, many believe that any Muslim who is sick, or whose sickness would adversely affect his well-being during the fasting period, should either not fast or at least break his fast accordingly.

However, a significant number of patients, for whatever reasons, do decide to observe the fast. It is these patients who need to seek the opinion of health professionals on an individual basis. Those suffering from minor ailments do not really have any problems fasting. Those suffering from acute conditions may need advice about altering their medicine doses regimen. Drugs that are normally required to be taken frequently, such as anti-biotics, can be problematic for fasting patients. Patients suffering from acute upper respiratory infections, such as a severe sore throat, may still be able to fast. Such a patient might be prescribed antibiotics that have to be taken three or four times a day and would not be able to fast. However, in order to facilitate fasting, the patient could be given a long-acting antibiotic, such as co-trimoxazole, which only needs to be taken 12-hourly, or azithromycin, which only needs to be taken once daily.

There is a school of thought among medical practitioners that those patients who have mild to moderate high blood pressure and are also overweight should be encouraged to fast as this may help to lower their blood pressure. Such patients should see their physician to adjust their medication. For example, the dose of diuretics should be reduced to avoid dehydration, and sustained release formulations can be given once a day before the pre-dawn meal.

An increasing area where practitioners are likely to advise patients on fasting is in those suffering from diabetes mellitus. The International Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research has suggested the following guidelines for health professionals treating Muslim patients with diabetes:

"Diabetic patients who are controlled by diet alone can fast and hopefully, with weight reduction, their diabetes may even be improved. Diabetics who are taking oral hypoglycaemic agents along with the dietary control should exercise extreme caution if they decide to fast. These patients should consult their medical doctor for dose adjustment. If they develop low blood sugar symptoms in the daytime, they should end the fast immediately."

In addition, diabetic patients taking insulin should consult their doctor to see if their dose can be adjusted to allow fasting during Ramadan. In all cases of fasting with diabetes, blood sugar levels should be closely monitored, especially before and after meals.

In summary, Islam offers an exemption to the sick from observing their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. However, some patients may be able to fast if their health is not adversely affected during the period of fasting. In such cases, advice from pharmacists and doctors about changing prescriptions to equally effective drugs that have reduced doses, such as sustained release formulations, may be beneficial to the fasting Muslim. In all cases of illness, it is recommended that Muslim patients, if they do fast, do so under medical supervision. Pharmacists, doctors and other health professionals are undoubtedly keen to help.

(The writer is chairman of the Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmacy, Kuwait University, PO Box 24923, Safat 13110, Kuwait and can be reached at s.akhtar@hsc.kuniv.edu.kw)

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Watch Your Diet in Ramadan

Diet in Ramadan should not differ much from the normal diet and should be as simple as possible

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from just before sunrise to sunset each day, is here again. I wish to provide a personal perspective of why Muslims fast and, as a Muslim pharmacist, what advice I consider may be appropriate for fasting Muslims, both healthy and those on medication, such as diabetic patients.

The observance of fasting during Ramadan constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. The experience of fasting is intended to teach Muslims self-discipline and self-restraint, and understand a little of the plight of the less privileged (eg, the hungry, thirsty and the poor). Furthermore, Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to refrain from eating and drinking from pre-dawn until sunset, but is also about exerting control over the mind. This involves restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person. Fasting during Ramadan is prescribed for every healthy, adult Muslim whereas the weak, the sick, children, travellers and menstruating women are among those exempted. Muslims observing the fast are required to abstain not only from eating food and drinking water, but also from consuming oral medicines and injecting intravenous nutritional fluids.

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Surrender Yourself to Allah

The chief merit of Fasting is that it is an act based upon pure love and devotion to Allah and there is not an iota of show and exhibition of one's piety in it

By K. Malikul Azeez

Islam is a religion which stands for human rights and cares for human relationships and shares the sufferings of fellow beings. This is evident, among other things, also from the fact that after the first tenet of entering into its fold through Kalima-e-Tayyiba, among the four fundamentals of Islam, two--Fasting and Zakat--are dedicated to and concerned with the mankind.

Fasting is obligatory in the month of Ramadan, which draws its holiness from the fact that the Holy book of Quran-- a source of guidance to the mankind-- was descended on Earth from Allah in this month through Prophet Muhammad-the last Prophet of Islam (Pbuh), from Allah the Almighty.

Fasting not only teaches self-control over passions of evil desires, but also makes one feel the intensity of hardship of the deprived ones for the daily basic needs of living. It develops sympathy for those, who are not able to meet their two square meals a day.

Care for fellow beings is emphasised in the holy Quran, which says umpteen number of times, "Establish Salat and pay off Zakat". One act is to declare the superiority and oneness of the Almighty and to submit before Him and another to take care of the people created by Him. Rights of God and the rights of people must go together alongside.

Quarreling, back-biting, telling lies, foul talk, cheating etc., are strictly prohibited during fasting, which deeply hurts the feelings of the affected people. Though on other days too, these evil practices are forbidden for any Muslim, fasting provides an excellent mode of training to eschew from such evil habits.

Fasting promotes the passions for patience, humility and a sense of submission to the Creator. Additional prayers and recitation of the Holy Quran and the regular prayers are rewarded manifold. As Prophet Muhammad has said: Allah the Majestic and the Exalted says: "Fasting is for my sake and I will reward for it as I please."

The chief merit of Fasting is that it is an act based upon pure love and devotion to Allah and there is not an iota of show and exhibition of one's piety in it. The act of fasting is completely hidden from the view of the people and this is a moral training for the next whole year.

Care for the poor relatives, neighbours and other deprived people is also ordained upon the Muslims in the form of Zakat. A small portion of wealth, left accumulated in the previous year, is to be distributed among the deserving people, thus creating a sense of gratitude among the rich towards the Almighty and at the same time a sense of fulfillment among the under-privileged towards the Almighty, as well as a sense of brotherhood towards the giver of the charity.

All those who have performed their spiritual duties towards the Creator and the created and have accomplished the mission ordained upon them in this month, have got every right to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr, as a day of successful culmination, but of course, not before paying Fitra, a simple obligatory gesture of kindness towards the poor, to enable them to enjoy the holy day.

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Itikaf- Spiritual Retreat in Ramadan

Prophet (Pbuh) used to observe itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death

Itikaf- spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the Masjid is a beautiful tradition of the Prophet (Pbuh). It is like a spiritual retreat. It is reported by Hazrath Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Pbuh) used to observe itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death. After him his wives carried on this practice of observing itikaf regularly. (Reported in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).

It is recommended that every Muslim make at least one itikaf in his/ her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every masjid every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do itikaf in the masjid so that they can pray in the congregation and also offer the Friday prayers. Women can also do itikaf, but theirs must be at home for reasons of modesty and for their own convenience. There is a great blessing in itikaf and people who do it, bring blessings upon themselves, upon their families and upon the Muslim Ummah at large.

The Sunnah of itikaf is that one makes its intention and begins the itikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadan from sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for Idul Fitr. During Itikaf, men should stay in the masjid day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. They are allowed to eat also inside the masjid, but if it is not convenient, they may go outside and come back as soon as they finish.

During itikaf, one should spend most of one's time in prayer, reading the Quran, zikr and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during Itikaf. However, attending a janazah or visiting a sick person or leaving for any emergency is permissible.

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Wake Up Kids! It's Time for Suhoor!

Children must be encouraged to start fasting at an early age

By M. Hanif Lakdawala

*Sabiha, 5, last year kept her first Roza and intends to keep at least one every week this Ramadan

*Zubair Mithaa, 7, last year kept Roza every Saturday and Sunday. This year, his target is atleast 15, double than last Ramadan

*Abbas Khatri, 4, missed his Roza by three hours as he broke it because of intense thirst. This Ramadan he intends to make it.

Though the young are not required to fast, it is proper for their guardians to encourage them to fast so that they become accustomed to it at an early age. They may fast as long as they are able to and then may break it.

Children must be encouraged to start fasting at an early age to begin the regiment and instill desire. It must be remembered that they are delicate at an early age and cannot go for long periods without food and water. Therefore, it is advisable for the child to start the fast and permit him to break the fast when he cannot tolerate the thirst or hunger any longer. This may be mid-day at an early age and will naturally extend itself, as he grows older. The major issue when children are fasting is to keep them preoccupied. The best thing is to engage them into activities they love to do such as giving them an Islamic Design, for example a drawing of a simple Mosque with a Minaret and ask them to colour it. You can simplify it to the best you can, depending on the ability and age of the children.

Another activity, the child can be encouraged to do is of charity. Charity is a big part of the celebration of the month of Ramadan. Ask the children to bring a jar. Explain to them that in the jar they will collect coins for the whole month of Ramadan. Help the children decorate the jar, using colorful stickers of their choice. Let them collect coins in it, either from their allowance or make an arrangement with their parents to give them some of the change they have in their pockets, every day for the remainder of the month. At the end of the month, let the children count the change and give it to the mosque or any other charity organisation that helps those in need.

As we know Ramadan begins and ends with the birth of the new moon. The pre-schoolers group from the building, society or locality can be formed and given the following project.

1- Let each group of children (4-6 children in a group), work together to create a night sky on a black or dark blue construction paper. If they can draw stars by themselves, let them add stars, or let them stick on stars (the self-sticking kind) or a combination of both. They can use white, yellow, gold, or silver crayons, pencils, or markers.

2- Create a moon for every group or let them do it, if they can cut a circle in a white construction paper. You may also use a black construction paper then colour it white or silver to represent a full moon.

3- Slice each moon into 6 pieces, they will be crescent shapes. You may cut the moon into two halves first, then each half into three pieces. Number these pieces on the back to remember which piece comes next. Remember that each half moon takes seven days to develop. It takes two weeks to develop into a full moon. Each piece will represent a stage of the moon.

4- As you go through the month, ask the children to observe the moon every night from the first day. When they gather for the project, ask them to use glue or better to use velcro to stick the first piece (crescent) on the night sky background. Every 2-3 days as they see the moon getting bigger, you can let them add the next piece. Keep doing this to the end of the month. Remember the second half of the month, you will have to remove pieces, one by one every 2-3 days, until there is no moon at the end of the month.

Since Ramadan gets the attention of the children to the night sky, the moon and the stars can be used for a good educational experience. Encourage the children to make a "night sky" using three-dimensional material such as pipe cleaners, cotton balls, ping-pong balls, clay, and pasted paper. See if these three-dimensional materials cause the children to talk about the location and distance of objects in the sky and space. You might have to help them with some of the technical problems so that they can hang clouds, stars, and moon. You might give them a big pasteboard box painted black on the inside.

Make it easy for them to hang items at different places from the "ceiling" of the "night sky." And remember, the objective is not to make a good-looking night sky out of art material. The objective is to get the children talking about their theories of what things are in the earth's sky and what things are in outer space, and where does the change happen from sky to space and so on. The product does not have to look like a sky; it only needs to stimulate a high quality conversation among the children. Take the chance and teach them about the sky, the space, the stars and the moon.

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Tips for fasting with children

Here are few tips that you can use with your children, you can think of others as well

* Children younger than 10 years old should not be expected to fast for an entire day.

* Encourage children younger than 10 years old to fast from certain foods, like desserts, or activities, such as watching television or talking on the telephone.

*Depending on their age, encourage them to fast a number of days upto every other day or more for those who are almost at the age of puberty. For those who are still young, let them fast a day or two and praise them in front of friends and relatives for their achievement.

*Let children go with their father to the Masjid for Maghrib prayer and break the fast with the larger Muslim community to help them inculcate the spirit of fasting and the unity of Muslims in worshipping Allah.

*Wake them up for Suhoor even if they don't fast .

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Refugee Kids and Ramadan Lanterns

If you thought for a second that children of poor families from Palestine don’t know how to take advantage of the joy hidden in this holy month of Ramadan, you are mistaken.

By Ramzy Baroud

When a temporary lifting of the curfew was announced in Jenin on the fourth day of the holy month of Ramadan in November 2002, the happiest of all were the children.

Although eager to return to school, and to their daily game of chasing one another in the alleyways of the camp, the children were more ecstatic from the fact that they now could freely enjoy Ramadan.

If you thought for a second that children of poor families don’t know how to take advantage of the joy hidden in this holy month, you are mistaken.

Sure, parents do all they can to ensure a somewhat exuberant Ramadan for the kids. They’d go into debt to give their children a special Ramadan. The children however, worry less about the source of the additional meat on the table, or how expensive the almost daily Kunafa dessert was. But even without the additional rewards, Ramadan remains special, as long there is no curfew.

Of course, soldiers kill Ramadan. They have killed it too often, to the point that many Palestinians were coerced into seeing Ramadan as a month of worship, and nothing else. That Ramadan spirit could easily be bulldozed out of an entire camp when armoured vehicles decide to do so. The joy of the holy month, similar to the joy of Christmas turns into misery when “special army units” decide to implement a “targeted killing” of a Palestinian activist. The significance of Ramadan, its holiness and its joy was never a concern to Israel, but always a concern to us Palestinians.

As children, we counted the days to Ramadan. With it arrived warmth, and although it is difficult to describe, people followed a higher code of behaviour, of faith and generosity.

And if you are wondering yes, growing up, I did cheat on my fast in Ramadan. But that too was special; hiding behind the pile of mattresses with my favourite snack - a tomato, a cucumber and a loaf of pitta bread. It was even more electrifying to cheat in a group, along with my younger siblings. It was no fun for mother though, who used to be devastated to learn that her second grade son was eating in secret. She tried to institute discipline and commitment in us, and we were merely there for the special food afterwards and the party at night.

By partying I am of course referring to the droves of little children roaming the refugee camps, villages and towns all over the Occupied Territories, holding what became a symbol of this holy month, the Ramadan Lantern.

In most Muslim countries, and even here in the United States, the lantern is likely a beautifully designed lamp with a small light and a holder for ‘triple A’ batteries. In the camp, the lantern was home-made. The dumpsters in our refugee camp offered boundless opportunities, empty cans of olive oil, beans or Hummus. It didn’t matter what the empty cans carried. Once the label was removed, with a few scrubs, several holes driven into it in a special design, you‚’d have a “Made in Gaza” Ramadan lantern. There was little the soldiers could do to ruin that. In the past uprising, which lasted for approximately six years between 1985-1991, children amended their Ramadan rituals to suit the new realities. During the curfews, after the breaking of the fast at sunset, children used to examine the roads for Israeli troops. Once it was clear, one would whistle, then everyone would whistle in chorus. Whistling in that particular context meant that the roads were safe. Children would gather outside vigilantly, as men also do to share or borrow cigarettes from each other. Children would then do what they were supposed to do in a normal Ramadan. They’d sing: “Welcome, welcome Ramadan, month of joy and generosity ..” but much more discreetly, always ready to flee once the soldiers showed up again. “But this Ramadan is different,” my friend in Jenin tells me. “Unlike the first Intifada, people are beyond poor. Children go to school without school bags. They have no toys, no lanterns.”

A Palestinian filmmaker whose documentary about Jenin is gaining worldwide attention recently commented that he has never seen the amount of smiles as the ones carried by the faces of the children in Jenin. “They always smiled unless they were in a funeral,” he said. In Jenin, there are many funerals. In Rafah, Khan Yunis, Nablus too and all over Palestine, there are funerals of children, or the parents of children, enough to assassinate or implement another “targeted killing”. of the spirit of Ramadan, Christmas and all other holidays combined. These funerals are of people who died at the hands of the Israeli army, which still holds no regard for special occasions. But when my friend, a photojournalist from Jerusalem walked into a West Bank town with his camera, in a town where a curfew was lifted just for a few hours, droves of children crowded him, all smiling, all with lanterns, singing for the holy month, for its “joy and generosity”, demanding their photos be taken, photos that they’ll never see.

But I saw the photo, and for a moment realized the spirit that I missed for years, being far away from home, transmitted through these children, malnourished but valiant. I often wondered, if the Israeli occupation is failing to break the spirit of a child so determined to celebrate Ramadan, a month of fasting, how can it possibly break the will of an entire nation, determined to realize freedom, at any cost?

(UmmahNews.com)

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How the Prophet (Pbuh) Celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr

The first day of the month of Shawwal is Eid ul-Fitr- marking a day of celebration and thanks for Allah,

our Creator and Cherisher. Ramadan ends here. .

Here is what the Prophet (Pbuh) used to do on the day of Eid .

* To rise early in the morning * Take a bath. * Clean the teeth.

* Wear the best clothes that he had. * Wear perfume.

* To eat something sweet like dates before leaving home.

* Go to the Eid prayer location very early. (The Prophet use to offer Eid prayer in the central location, that is not to offer it in a mosque of a locality without any legitimate excuse).

The Prophet used to go to the Eid Prayer location by one route and returned through another route.

He used to walk upto the place of Eid prayer.

He used to recite on the way to the Eid prayer location the following words:

"Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar,

Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd."

(Allah is the greatest, He is the greatest. There is no god except Allah. He is the greatest. All praises and

thanks are for Him) The Prophet used to give Sadqa-e-Fitr (Zakatul Fitr) before the Eid day.

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Method of Eid Prayers

Eid prayer consists of two units of prayer (Rakas) with six Takbeers (the raising of the hands while saying Allahu Akbar [God is the Greatest]) in congregation, followed by the Khutba (sermon) of Eid.

Follow the Imam by raising both hands up to the ears, say Allahu Akbar, this is the first Takbeer to enter in the Salat.

Then fold your hands in the front and recite the 'Sanaa', ("subhaanakallahumma..). till the end and then say Allahu Akbar thrice, following your imam, each time raising both hands up to the ears and dropping them. After each takbeer there is going to be a slight pause in which Subhanallah may be recited thrice.

After the third Takbeer, the hands should be folded in front and listen to the imam reciting Aoozubillah, Bismillah, Surah Fateha and some other Surah and

Then perform Ruku(bowing) as Imam says Allahu Akbar and

Then go to Sajdah(prostration) as usual following your Imam's Takbeer.

In the second Raka, the Imam will first recite Surah Fateha and some other Surah. Then he will say three Takbeers after it. In all of these three Takbeer,s hands will not to be folded, but dropped after each Takbeer. And then go into the Ruku just after the fourth takbeer. Listening to the Khutbah after the Eid Salaat is Waajib (obligatory).

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Facts on Zakat

Conditions that make Zakat obligatory

There are two conditions for Zakat to be obligatory on the wealth.

1. Being in possession of Nisab i.e. possessing property in excess of a minimum exemption limit.

2. On completion of one Lunar year on the wealth. According to Hanafi, if a person possess wealth equal to or in surplus of Nisab in the beginning and at the end of the lunar year, (even though in between the year, the wealth was less than the Nisab), Zakat is obligatory, but if at the end of the lunar year if the wealth is less than the Nisab(though one had wealth equal to or in surplus during the year) zakat is not obligatory. According to Shafie the passage of one lunar year is a must on the wealth (Nisab) (in Hanbali almost a year). The zakat is calculated on the day on which a year is completed on that wealth (Nisab).

Nisab

Zakat is paid on the surplus of wealth which is left over after the passage of a year (Lunar Year). It is thus a payment on the accumulated wealth, leaving our animal and agricultural yield. Zakat is paid at almost a uniform rate of 2 1/2%. The minimum standard of surplus of wealth over which Zakat is charged is known as Nisab. It differs with different kinds of property. In case of silver it is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), in case of gold it is 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams). The Nisab for cash is the same as that of gold and silver.

On whom Zakat is obligatory

Zakat is obligatory of every Adult free Muslim man and woman, provided the above two conditions are fulfilled. According to Imam Malik, Shafie and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal, Zakat is obligatory of the wealth of the Minor and insane person, and it has to be paid by the guardian. Whereas, according to Imam Abu Hanafi it is not obligatory. Since Zakat is an act of worship, the intention is a must and hence it is not obligatory on the wealth of a minor and the insane person.

Zakat on woman's Mehr

According to Imam Abu Hanafi and Imam Malik, the wife need not pay Zakat on the Mehr amount still due by her husband. However Zakat will have to be paid on the amount she has claimed, provided it is equivalent to or more than the Nisab and on which one year has been completed. According to Imam Shafie, the wife has to pay the Zakat every year (though she herself is not claiming the Mehr, even though it can be claimed). According to Hanbali, the Wife has to pay the Zakat for the entire number of years at the time when she gets it.

Zakat on the Business Goods or Stock-in-Trade

All types of goods for sale, whatever may be its form, whether hand made or machine products or fruits or books or jewellery or clothes or cattle or property brought with the intention of buying and selling etc., are liable for zakat. Provided it is in one's possession for one complete lunar year and the rate of zakat applicable is 2 1/2% on its total value. The prescribed limit on goods is after conversion, in terms of its value, the total amount thus evaluated must be equivalent to the price of 634 grams of silver. If less, then zakat is not obligatory.

Zakat on company or partnership, Silver, Gold, Currency and Shares

If any wealth or property is held jointly by two or more persons, then according to Imam Abu Hanafi and Imam Malik, Zakat is not obligatory on any person until each individual's share is equal to the value of the Nisab.

Zakat on Silver, Gold, Currency and Shares. The minimum prescribed limit on which Zakat becomes obligatory on silver is 52 1/2 Tolas (634 grams), and of gold 7 1/2 Tolas (88 grams) and is known as Nisab. Zakat on silver or gold items is one fortieth of its weight, i.e. 2 1/2%. Zakat on silver or gold is not calculated on its value but on its weight. However if one possesses some gold and some silver and neither of them is in the prescribed limit, then if their total cost is equal to the price of 634 grams. of silver, Zakat becomes due on it.

Zakat on the Ornaments of a woman

Zakat is due on all the gold and silver ornaments, jewellery, and gold or silver lace woven into clothes, gold thread embroidered dresses for ladies, etc. Hadrath Umm Salmah says that she used to put on (gold) bracelets. When she asked the Holy Prophet whether it was Kanz (Hoarded wealth) he replied.

" When a piece of property reaches upto the prescribed limit and Zakat is duly paid on it, it is not Kanz".(Abu Dawood). Imam Abu Hanafi, his disciples and some scholars hold the above opinion. According to Imam Malik, Shafie, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal and other scholars, there is no Zakat on the woman's ornaments. According to some other scholars the Zakat on ornaments is due only once in a lifetime. The difference of opinion among scholars is only on the ornaments in use by the woman, but there is a consensus among all the scholars that Zakat is liable on the excess of the ornaments held in possession as wealth.

Zakat of the Bank Deposit and on Provident Fund

Both these fall under the status of debt. According to Hanafi school of thought: Both of them are liable for Zakat for all the years and it has to be paid, when out of it an amount equivalent to the value of 10 1/2 Tolas of silver or more is claimed. According to Hanbali school of thought, also that Zakat is liable on both for all the years. It has to be paid when an amount equivalent to the Nisab or more is claimed.

According to Maliki school of thought, the Zakat on Bank deposit is liable for all the years and it has to paid when the amount is received. On the provident fund, since the person does not have any power to claim it, so Zakat is liable at the time when it is received and it has to be paid for one year only. According to Shafie school of thought, the Zakat on the Bank Deposit has to be paid every year. The Zakat on provident fund has to be made for all the years and it has to be paid when he is entitled to receive it, though he may claim it or not in time.

Zakat on Agricultural Produce (Ushr) (fruit vegetable and flowers)

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: "On a land irrigated by rain water or by natural water channels or if the land is wet due to a nearby water channel, Ushr (i.e. one-tenth) is compulsory (as Zakat); and on the land irrigated by the well, half of an Ushr (i.e. one twentieth i.e. 5%) is compulsory (as Zakat on the yield of the land)".

A basic principle has been laid down for the Sadaqa (Zakat) in the agricultural produce. If the land is irrigated by artificial methods, one twentieth part (5%) of the yield is to be paid, if it is irrigated by rainfall, streams, rivers, fountains or by the inner moisture of the earth, i.e., by natural resources of water, then one tenth (Ushr) 10% is to be paid as Zakat. There is some difference of opinion whether Ushr is levied on all types of agricultural yield or on some particular types.

According to Imam Abu Hanafi, Zakat is to be paid on all types of agricultural yield, provided the aim of cultivation is to improve upon the land and make it more useful for growing of crops. Thus only fuel, bamboo, grass and trees which bear no fruits are exempted from Zakat. He considers Zakat to be compulsory even on vegetables and fruits, which according to some Hadith, are exempted from Zakat. The scholars have reconciled the two views saying that the exemption granted in case of vegetables implies that the proceeds of the Zakat are not to be sent to the Bait ul Mal, but the owner may himself distribute it among the poor.

Ushr is to be paid at the time of harvest. Whereas in the other types of Zakat, one should be in possession of the wealth for one complete year.

Zakat on Animals

Zakat is obligatory on goats, sheep, cows, buffaloes and camels which graze on wild grass, plant leaves and on some feed, now and then given by the owner, and on the above animals meant for sale.

The Prophet (Pbuh) said: "By Allah in whose hand my life is, whoever had camels or cows or sheep and did not pay their Zakat, those animals will be brought on the Day of Resurrection far bigger and fatter than before and they will tread him under their hooves, and will butt him with their horns and (those animals will come in circle) when the last does its turn, the first will start again and this punishment will go on till Allah has finished the judgments amongst the people." (Bukhari)

Zakat on Minerals and Buried Wealth / Treasure

Zakat on Minerals and hidden wealth is one twentieth 5%. According to Imam Abu Hanifa, minerals are classified into three groups:

1. Gold, Silver, Brass, Bronze, Iron etc.

2. Crude Oil, etc.

3. Diamonds, precious stones etc.

Zakat on the first group only is Waajib (compulsory) and is to be paid at the time of acquiring. Here minimum period of one year in possession does not apply.

To Whom Zakat cannot be given

1. Zakat cannot be given to a person who owns atleast 7 1/2 tolas of gold or 52 1/2 tolas of silver or equivalent wealth in cash, kind or in trade goods. If Zakat money is given to such a person, then the obligation will not be discharged. For such a person to receive and accept Zakat is forbidden and to use it is haraam.

If a person owns household goods over and above that which are necessary for his normal use, such as carpets, utensils or other goods which are owned and kept in possession but are hardly in frequent use, then such goods do not come under essentials but in accumulated wealth, and Zakat cannot be given to the person possessing them.

2. To non-Muslims

3. To some relatives: Zakat cannot be given to one's mother, father, paternal and maternal grandparents, great grand-parents, etc. Likewise, Zakat cannot be given to one's offspring-sons, daughters, grand-children, great grand-children, etc. Zakat cannot be given by husband to wife, nor by wife to husband. Except for these, Zakat can be given to other relatives such as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc.

4. To children: The position of a minor child is linked with his or her father. If the father is wealthy, then the child will also be considered as rich and Zakat cannot be given to him If the father is poor enough to receive Zakat. but the mother is rich, then Zakat could be given to the child because the child's financial position is linked with that of the father, not the mother.

5. To Sayyeds : Sayyeds are the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) through his daughter Fatima and the descendants of his uncle Abbas and his cousins Aqeel, Haris, etc., Zakat as well as Sadaqah and Fitra cannot be given to them.

6. Zakat cannot be given to a person in payment of services rendered by him or in payment of wages to a teacher, caretaker, etc. It can, however, be given to such a person as a gift, if desired.

7. Zakat cannot be given to domestic or other servants as wages. Zakat money can be given to them as a gift over and above the wages paid to them.

* One of the conditions of the discharge of Zakat is that the person who receives it must become the unfettered owner of the amount of Zakat paid to him.

* Zakat cannot be given for building repairing or maintaining a mosque because a mosque is a

place of worship which does not belong to anyone.

* To pay debts of a deceased : If a poor man dies in debt and someone uses Zakat money to pay the debts of the deceased, then the actions will be invalid and the obligation to pay Zakat will not be discharged, because the deceased did not become owner of the money paid for the discharge of the debt. The heirs of the deceased, however, if they are poor, can receive Zakat and discharge the debt of the deceased, if they desire to do so.

* To pay funeral expenses : Zakat money cannot be used to pay expenses relating to the funeral and burial of a person. But the heirs of the deceased, if they are poor, can receive and accept Zakat and use the money for the burial expenses of their deceased relative.

* Zakat must be given on, and from, a commodity-that is, a portion of the wealth itself can be given in charity to discharge the obligation. But we are also permitted to determine the Zakat due and give its value in cash

Zakat -ul- Fitr

* Zakat -ul -Fitr is a type of Sadaqah which must be paid by every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave, at the end of the Month of Fasting (Ramadan).

* The purpose of Zakat -ul- Fitr is to purify one who fasts, from any indecent act or speech and to help the poor and needy.

* Zakat ul Fitr is incumbent on every free Muslim who possesses one Sa of dates or barley which is not needed as a basic food for himself or his family for the duration of one day and night. Every free Muslim must pay Zakat ul Fitr for himself, his wife, children, and servants. (One Sa' equals approximately three kilograms).

* The required amount of Zakat ul Fitr is one Sa' of wheat, rice or corn or similar items considered as basic foods.

* Abu Hanifah made it permissible to set aside, as Zakat ul Fitr, an equivalent value and also said that if the payer pays in wheat, one half of a Sa' would be sufficient.

* Most scholars believe that it is permissible to pay Zakat ul Fitr a day or two before Eid. According to Abu Hanifah, it is permissible to pay it even before Ramadan. Ash-Shafi holds that it is permissible to do so at the beginning of Ramadan. Malik and Ahmad maintain that it is permissible to pay it only one or two days in advance.

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Cooking Holiday during Ramadan

The idea of a cooking holiday during Ramadan is catching the imagination of Muslim women in Mumbai!

By M.Hanif Lakdawala

Shaheen, Mubashira, Tasmia, Yasmeen, and Nikhat, all housewives were sad and dejected last Ramadan. It pained them that they could not pray Taravi, recite Quran, and wake up for Tahajud.

Though Ramadan is the month of Ibaadat and Penance, the Muslim women have a hectic schedule, cooking not only variety of dishes, but also in quantity. The entire month is devoted for cooking.

But this year, all five have decided to make full use of Ramadan for Ibaadat. But the question before them was how? An idea struck Mubashira. She came up with a suggestion that they take a holiday from cooking during the entire month of Ramadan. The suggestion was immediately accepted by all in the group.

But still a major hurdle remained. How to convince their husbands to agree for a cooking holiday for the entire month of Ramadan? As a strategy, they first hunted for a woman who could supply them hygienic food as per their requirement and at affordable cost. They succeeded in identifying the person. Next, the group of five prepared a proposed balance sheet for the entire month while keeping in mind the budget usually allocated to them in Ramadan.

Fully loaded with the expense statement and sample of the food, they confronted their husbands and convinced them for a cooking holiday. Unexpectedly for all five, their husbands appreciated the idea and infact encouraged them to promote the idea of cooking holiday in their family and friends circle.

Tasmia, mother of three is already burdened with the pressure of taking care of growing children. "Ramadan comes and goes, but I was unable to do justice as far as Ibaadat was concerned as most of my time was spent on cooking and looking after the children. But now with the cooking holiday in Ramadan, I can concentrate on prayers and recitation of the Quran" she said.

Within a span of fifteen days, the idea of a cooking holiday is catching the imagination of Muslim women in Mumbai. The group of five has now 23 more members. Explaining the objective of the group Mubashira said, "we want to bring in the spiritual enrichment amongst our group members. Most of the time, we are worried about the material aspect of our life not sparing a thought for the spiritual needs. We are sure that now since we are concentrating on Ibaadat, our spiritual needs will be taken care during Ramadan.

The unique thing about the Cooking holiday concept is that it has an element of societal benefit in it. Elaborating on the concept, Yasmeen said, "For our requirement of cooked food we are not relying on professional caterers. Our group has identified at least seven Muslim women who were in dire need of financial assistance and we gave them the contract to supply cooked food to our group members. We arrange even the capital needed for the purpose. This way we are serving the society also".

Tarannum,a divorcee with three daughters is one of the person selected to supply cooked food. Though she work as a domestic help, Tarannum is finding hard to keep body and soul together. "I am promised extra help of Rs10, 000 if my food is liked by the group. They have already given me the advance to purchase the ingredients and the utensils".

Rauf Patel, husband of Nikhat is helping the group financially so that they can help the women from the deprived sections of the community. "The initial response is so overwhelming that what started as a cooking holiday concept is gradually converted into a philanthropy group. Their future plan is to finance the poor Muslim women and assist them to stand on their own feet," he said.

Shaheen is very enthusiastic about Ramadan. She said every year her desire to concentrate on Ibaadat is never fulfilled. After a hectic day of cooking, the energy levels are down for concentrating on prayers, she explained. "Even offering the Taravi is many a times a uphill task as cooking and then setting the house in order keeps me occupied till late night. Getting for Tahajud is out of question if one cannot sleep early", she said.

The group has convinced two nearby Madrassas in the western suburb to make provision for the Taravi for women. A special arrangement is made for the women from the nearby slums to offer five time prayers with provision of Iftar and Sehri.

Nikhat is surprised at their success. "I could not believe that we are doing this. We have no previous experience of social work. But since our desire was to please Almighty Allah, he helped us and multiplied our small efforts," she said.

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