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The Meaning of Ramadan

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 were 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, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 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, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. “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. And of the three persons that Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam cursed, one is the unfortunate Muslim who finds Ramadan in good health but does not use the opportunity to seek Allah’s mercy.

One who does not fast is obviously in this category, 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, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, 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.”

Those who understood this, for them Ramadan was indeed a very special month. In addition to fasting, mandatory Salat, and extra Travih Salat, they spent the whole month in acts of worship like voluntary Salat, Tilawa (recitation of Qur’an), Dhikr etc. After mentioning that this has been the tradition of the pious people of this Ummah throughout the centuries, Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi notes: ” I have seen with my own eyes such ulema and mashaikh who used to finish recitation of the entire Qur’an everyday during Ramadan. They spent almost the entire night in prayers. They used to eat so little that one wondered how they could endure all this. These greats valued every moment of Ramadan and would not waste any of it in any other pursuit…Watching them made one believe the astounding stories of Ibada and devotion of our elders recorded by history.”

This emphasis on these acts of worship may sound strange — even misplaced — to some. It requires some explanation. 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 every so many hours throughout the day, 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.

Source: Al Balagh

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Ramadan Fever

The heat is on! Once a year a dramatic change occurs in the Muslim community. Once a year Icky baby and the Sams becomes Brother Iqbal and Sister Sameera. Off come the baggy jeans, the Nikes and the Raiders cap. On come the yellow Shalwar Kameez (clothes most Pakistanis wear), out goes the brylcreamed hairstyle which glues on that terribly uncool Towpee (cap) and in comes the miswak in the top pocket, making you look like something like “Karachi cops”.

It’s during this HOLY month of Ramadan that we ditch the daytime raves and frequent visit to the library (and we don’t mean for the reference section) and begin to act it out. Icky baby becomes temporarily religious.

It’s a sort of spooky feeling. The Mosques are full and you feel good. Good cos’ you’ve done your bit for the year. One by one you scratch the days from your Ramadan timetable that your dad brought back from the Mosque-and then-thank crunchie it’s Eid.

Eid Mubarak!

The Mosques again becomes museums for the old and for those deprived “ACHA BACHA”- a good baby. The crease-free shalwar kameez comes off and comes the baggy jeans, whilst the libraries reopen for “business as usual”. Just 11 more months of “freedom” to go before the smelly breath season come back with a vengeance.

Year after year it goes on, almost as a ritual. You know it’s rough. Yet Allah(swt) is Al-Rahman and Al-Raheem as we are told by our parents (who probably also have gone through this). And anyway religion is for the old men in the mosques- with smelly breaths, and beards that sweep the floor everytime they walk from one end of the mosque to the other.

Religion is for those “fundies”(fundamentalists) at school/college, the “weirdoes” who only talk to the opposite sex about the benefits of the Khilafah ruling system or the fallacies of Western ideology such as Capitalism and Marxist Philosophy.(i.e.try saying that in one breath!).

The game
So you go around playing this game. It’s like an endless spiral. You think you’re a rebel or tough-yet you’re just one of the pack- a zombie, conforming to master-plan, when you turn 40s you grow your beard and take your seat in front row of the mosque, invest in a miswak, pack your bags for Hajj, and then everything is gonna be safe!
Well no! It doesn’t quite work like that. The million dollar question is will you ever turn 40?

Game Over
Suppose you die. Just suppose you snuff it before you turn 40? What then? It could severely damage that master-plan of yours. Alright, the chances may look slim yet the stakes are high. Nobody knows when he or she is going to die. Just suppose you’re locked up in a room and there’s no way out. Just suppose there’s a time bomb ticking away in this room. Now if this bomb has “6 days” on it you would probably turn “fundy” and spend all six days reading namaz(salah).

Just suppose the bomb had a “?” on it? What then? That’s exactly how life is!!! A ticking-bomb with a “?” on it, you never know when it’s gonna blow-up. Whereever you are, death will find you. Even if you are in tower built up strong and high!” (Translation of the meaning of the Qu’ran) 30 days or a lifetime? And anyway, even if you do go along with this “dodgy” game, don’t you think your Creator will know your intention? Many people have sussed out Islam as a blind faith or and emotional/spiritual/spooky belief which leaves you contemplating rationally about the meanings of life. Where did you come from? Why are we here? Or the question that puts a dampner on all raves, ” what’s going to happen to us when we die?”

Islam asks us to answer these vital questions and come to a conclusion, the correct one. Islam doesn’t rely on the dodgy culture we are brought up with either from our parents or from the Molvi-Saab(imam). Islam is far from being a “religion” as it is often coined in the media. Islam is a complete system of life- with solutions to all our problems be it for Muslims or non-Muslims. Check out Islam for yourself and free yourself from this shallow zombie-like culture. Before your credits run out!

Word out!
Remember there is no Life or Dignity without Islam. “O you who believe answer the call of Allah(swt) and His Messenger to that which gives you Life.” (8:24)

Rememberance of the people is the disease, and rememberance of Allaah is the cure. Yet how strange is it that we hasten to the disease and not the cure?

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25 Advices for Ramadan

From the book Khulaasatul Kalaam by Shaykh Jaarullah.

Brother Muslim, Sister Muslima:

1. Fast Ramadhan with belief and truly seeking the reward of Allah the Most High so that He may forgive you your past sins.

2. Beware of breaking your fast during the days of Ramadhan without a valid Islamic excuse, for it is from the greatest of sins.

3. Pray Salat ut-Taraweeh and the night prayer during the nights of Ramadhan – especially on Layatul-Qadr – based on belief and truly seeking the reward of Allah, so that Allah may forgive you your past sins.

4. Make sure that your food, your drink and your clothing are from halal means, in order that your actions be accepted, and your supplications answered. Beware of refraining from the halal while fasting and breaking your fast with the haram.

5. Give food to some fasting people to gain a reward similar to theirs.

6. Perform your five prayers on time in congregation to gain the reward and Allahs protection.

7. Give a lot of charity for the best charity is that of Ramadhan.

8. Beware of spending your time without performing righteous deeds, for you will be responsible and reckoned for it and will be rewarded for all you do during your time.

9. Perform `umrah in Ramadhan for `Umrah in Ramadhan is equal to Hajj.

10. Seek help for fasting during the day by eating the sahoor meal in the last part of the night before the appearance of Fajr.

11. Hasten breaking your fast after the sun has truly set in order to gain the love of Allah.

12. Perform ghusl before fajr if you need to purify yourself from the state of major impurity so that you are able to do acts of worship in a state of purity and cleanliness.

13. Cease the opportunity of being in Ramadhan and spend it with the good that has been revealed in it – by reciting the noble Quran and pondering and reflection of its meanings so that it be a proof for you with your Lord and an intercessor for you on the Day of Reckoning.

14. Preserve your tongue from lying, cursing, backbiting and slander for it decreases the reward of fasting.

15. Do not let fasting cause you cross your boundaries by getting upset due to the slightest of reasons. Rather, fating should be a cause of peacefulness and tranquility of your soul.

16. Upon completion of fasting, be in a state of taqwa of Allah the Most High, being aware of Allah watching you in secret and in public, in thankfulness for His favors, and steadfastness upon obedience of Allah by doing all what He has ordered and shunning all that He has prohibited.

17. Increase in remembrance of Allah, seeking of forgiveness, asking for Paradise and protection against the Fire, especially when fasting, while breaking the fast and during suhoor, for these actions are among greatest causes of attaining Allahs forgiveness.

18. Increase in supplication for yourself, your parents, your children and Muslims, for Allah has ordered making of supplications and has guaranteed acceptance.

19. Repent to Allah with a sincere repentance in all times by leaving sins, regretting those that you have done before and firmly deciding not to return to them in the future, for Allah accepts repentance of those who repent.

20. Fast six days of Shawwal, for whoever fasts Ramadhan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasts all the time.

21. Fast on the Day of `Arafah, the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, to attain success by being forgiven your sins of the last year and the coming year.

22. Fast on the day of `Aashuraa, the 10th of Muharram, along with the 9th, to attain success by being forgiven your sins of the past year.

23. Continue being in a state of iman and taqwa and perform righteous actions after the month of Ramadhan, until you die. And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death). [Quran 15:99]

24. Ensure that you attain the positive effects of your acts of worship such as prayer, fasting, zakat and hajj, sincere repentance and leaving of customs that are in variance with the Sharee`ah.

25. Invoke a lot of salawat and salam upon the Messenger of Allah, may Allahs blessings and peace be upon him, his Companions and all those who follow them until the Day of Judgment.

O Allah make us and all Muslims of those who fast and stand in prayer during the month of Ramadhan based on belief and truly seeking Your reward so that we are forgiven our past and future sins.

O Allah make us of those who fasted the month, attained full reward, witnessed Layatul-Qadr and attained success by permission of the Lord, Blessed and Most High.

O Allah, verily you are Forgiver, like to forgive, so forgive us.

O Lord, accept from us, verily you are the All-Hearing, all-Seeing, O Living, O Independent, O Owner of all majesty and honor.

And may Allahs blessings and peace be upon Muhammad, his family and his Companions.

Source: MyUmmah

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Ihram

Ihrâm literally means to make something harâm upon oneself. By adopting ihrâm (donning the two sheets, making niyat and reciting the talbiya), certain things which were halâl (allowed) now become harâm (not allowed) upon that person. Thus, we can say that ihrâm is a state (condition) which a person has subjected himself to and he can reverse this state only if particular rites are performed.

Furthermore, the two sheets a Haji or Mu’tamir wears is also called ihrâm because it reflects ones intention and status.

Once a person adopts an ihrâm, it must not be ended abrubtly without completing the intended haj or umra. This applies even if a person has committed an act which will render his ihrâm fâsid.

However;

  • if a muhrim was unable to make wuqûf of Arafah, he should then perform the acts of umra and terminate such an ihrâm.
  • if a muhrim is prevented from performing haj or umra, than such a muhrim can end the state of ihrâm by offering a sacrifice within the boundaries of the haram.
  • It is wâjib to perform the Qadha of any ihrâm terminated without performing the rites of the intended hajj or Umra.

CONDITIONS OF IHRÂM:

  • To be a Muslim.
  • To form an intention and to recite the talbiya or any other zikr that is an acceptable substitute for the talbiya.

WÂJIBÂT OF IHRÂM:

  • To adopt ihrâm from the miqât.
  • To stay away from that which is prohibited in ihrâm.

SUNAN OF IHRÂM:

  • To perform ghusl or wudhu.
  • To apply itr before making an intention for the Ihrâm of Haj or Umrah.
  • To use two sheets as the dress for ihrâm.
  • To perform two rakâts salâh as sunnat of ihrâm.
  • To recite the talbiya as reported in the hadith .
  • To recite it loudly.
  • To recite it thrice.

Source: www.everymuslim.net

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Correcting Our Outlook

The lifestyle that we have become accustomed to has spoiled us and we except a limousine to be waiting at the airport to whisk us away and drop us right outside the Haram. There is a system to everything that we must realize and we must be prepared to allow it to run its own course. We need to realize that we are servants whom the Master is allowing to come visit His House and not the other way around.

Presidents and kings of this worthless and temporary world make their visitors wait for hours without explanation and we expect the Master of the universe to cater to our every need. To be allowed to come to Hajj is indeed a blessing for which we should be ready to bear double if not triple the usual burden.

Hajj is a journey and act of worship and there is always trial in worship no matter what form. If people desire luxury and comfort they are welcome to stay in their beds because no one is forcing them to go to Hajj. However, people must be prepared for hardship if they have already taken the first steps toward anything.
Source: the Urgency of Hajj from the Discourses of Shaykh Zulfiqar Ahmed(db)

The Internal Dimensions of Hajj

The ultimate destination
You are the luckiest person in the world. Allah has invited you personally to His House.

What is Hajj? Hajj in the Arabic language means aim, destination or purpose (qasd). The reason is clear: Hajj is the ultimate journey of loving submission (‘ubudiyah) and conscious surrender (riq) to Allah. Its ultimate destination is your encounter with the House of Allah (Bayt al-Allah) – the Ka`bah – with both your physical body and, more importantly, your heart (qalb).

Ibn al-Jawzi (rahimah al-Allah) relates a story of an old, blind woman who was journeying to Hajj years ago with a caravan. Throughout the journey, she keeps asking: “Are we at the house of my Lord?” Time and again, she is told, “No, mother, we are not there yet.” As the caravan nears Makkah, she is informed that they are almost there. Finally, they enter Masjid al-Haram. She is led to the Ka’bah. Touching the Ka’bah, she cries, “Baytu rabbi? The House of my Lord?” Weeping, she clings to the cloth of the Ka’bah – and dies.

The woman realized with her heart (qalb) the true significance of visiting the House of her Lord.

Allah has invited you to His House, which He has called the al-Bayt al-‘Atiq – the ancient, liberated and liberating house. Your journey is one of freedom and liberation. For as your body leaves its material house to journey to Allah’s House, your heart is meant to disengage from the lower self (nafs), the shaytan, and the world (dunya) and journey to Allah.

The ultimate reward for a Hajj mabrur is to return home with the purity of a newborn child. What could be a greater incentive! But beware, for Hajj is a selective process. Only a few will attain a Hajj mabrur, which is a Hajj performed correctly, without any disobedience to Allah and without indulging in any argumentation. Be prepared. Be vigilant. Be focused. This will be one of the greatest – and sweetest – struggles of your life. And though you will long and dream for the rest of your life to come back, you may never return again.

May Allah allow our bodies to journey to His House; may He permit our hearts to find Him, the Lord of the House. Ameen.

The most sacred space
You will be journeying from your earthly house to Makkah, your spiritual home, the most beloved place to Allah in all of space and time. Allah himself has decreed it to be so since the beginning of creation. There is no place more blessed, more beautiful, more virtuous, more exalted than Makkah. Every inch and every corner of Makkah is a haram, a sanctuary made sacred by Allah. The more you revere Makkah, the more you will be ennobled by Allah. We must take the greatest of care to never think casually of our sojourn in Makkah or live within its precincts in disobedience or negligence.

Some reports teach that it was in Makkah that our father adam (‘alayhi al-salam) longed to go back to paradise and be in the presence of Allah. To console his loneliness, Allah commanded him to do tawaf around the space of the current Ka‘bah. And adam did, and felt whole again.

Other texts teach that Nuh (’alayhi al-salam), Ibrahim (’alayhi al-salam), and many Prophets before them (’alayhim al-salam), all did tawaf around Allah’s sacred House. Their spiritual energy and legacy fills the air. You will be walking in the footsteps and the heart-steps of Rasulullah (sallalahu ’alayhi wasallam) and his noble companions.

Shelter, solace and sight
Hajj and its rites are described in various and powerful ways by Allah and his Rasul (sallalahu ’alayhi wasallam). Through these descriptions, we gain insight into the deeper meanings of Hajj. The rites of hajj are described, for example, as manasik, masha‘ir and mashahid.

Mansak (plural manasik), usually translated as ritual, connotes shelter (maskan) and tranquility (sukun). The rites of Hajj are residences of shelter and tranquility for the heart.

Mash‘ar (plural masha‘ir) connotes feeling and experience. The rites of Hajj cause the heart to feel and experience the sweetness of nearness to Allah.

Mashad (plural mashahid) is to witness with the heart the blessings of Allah at every station – to see, with one’s inner sight, Allah’s will as the Decreer of decrees and the Causer of causes.

Each word connotes a different inner dimension of Hajj, as the movement, not only of your body or limbs, but of your heart. For as your body journeys from one place to another, so too must your heart travel through various stations (maqamat), each of which will provide it with shelter, solace and inner sight.

Become angelic
Hajj is your chance to become an angel and to live with the delight of an angel.

In tawaf, you will be mirroring the worship of the angels, the mala’ikah, those heavenly creatures created of pure light and enveloped in the worship of Allah. Texts teach that the Ka‘bah is connected in an imperceptible way to the Bayt al-Ma‘mur, the heavenly Ka‘bah of the angels, around which they are constantly in tawaf. Seventy thousand angels perform tawaf around this house and are replaced with others, never to return.

Around the Ka‘bah, we are in a heavenly dimension. Near the Ka‘bah are the Hajar Aswad, or black stone, and the Maqam Ibrahim, both gems from jannah. We are taught that the hajar was darkened by the sins and transgressions of man. Its heavenly light is now folded from us. The hajar will be rendered into a person in the afterlife by Allah and will witness on behalf of those who approached it with truth and sincerity. The hajar can be said to take a picture recording of your heart as you stand before it. Kissing the hajar is the most profound renewal of your covenant with Allah and a pledge of love, dedicated obedience and soulful allegiance to Him.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Entering into Ihram
As you near the miqat, your heart will tremble and tremor. Is this really happening? Is my heart getting closer and closer to His House? Soon you will enter Allah’s haram. It is only fitting that you enter into a state, both externally and internally, that justly corresponds to this honour. Beyond the miqat, there is only talbiyah.

The essence of Hajj is the journey of our hearts away from the house of our lower selves (nufus) with its passions (shahawat), inclinations (ahwa’) and attachment to the created world (khalq) to the haram and, ultimately, the House of Allah. We must leave our attachments to receive the greatest connection. We must leave to arrive.

Ihram is from haram. Both meanings, to be sacred and to be forbidden, are carried in it. Through the ihram, the heart is meant to leave the temporary and the finite – to make it, in a sense, “forbidden” – and to prepare for the sacred audience of Allah’s presence.

The muhrim has disengaged from everything and anything that distracts him or her from Allah and, consequently, from remembrance, peace and stillness. The muhrim has left his or her home taking taqwa or Allah-consciousness, the best sustenance, as a provision.

Beginning Talbiyah
One enters into ihram with talbiyah. Talbiyah is the heart’s most profound surrender to the invitation and call of Allah: Here I come to You, my Lord, here I come – fully and forever.

With the talbiyah, we proclaim that no associate (sharik) or attachment will distract us from seeking Allah. Our hearts will not see, hear, obey, or be lured to another, besides Him. The recitation of this talbiyah is to be said with constancy and conviction, and not intermittently and infrequently.Talbiyah is essential to focusing our hearts. It will remind us of the purpose of our journey; it will facilitate us in foregoing our rights, demands and expectations while yet rendering fully the major and minor rights of others; it will dispel distractions; and it will make all obstacles easy, even pleasurable.

There is no praise (hamd) and no dominion and power (mulk) except that Allah owns it. Everything, whether tangible or intangible, belongs to Him. In fact, we are in praise of Him by Him.

Mina
Mina, or Muna, means desire, hope, longing.

Some texts teach that it was in Muna that adam ( ‘alayhi al-salam) longed and desired to journey back home to paradise and to be, once again, in Allah’s presence.

It is in Muna that the journey begins. The day spent in Muna, termed the day of tarwiyah (meaning, in part, to quench, to drink to one’s fill), is meant for our heart to focus on the aim of their journey, to gather in resolution and focus, and to begin our inner momentum towards the House of Allah.

‘Arafat
‘Arafat means to know, to understand. Another verb scale conveys the meaning of perfuming, making fragrant, scenting. ‘Arafat is the essential pillar (rukn), of Hajj; without ‘Arafat there is no Hajj.

‘Arafat is the cleansing station outside the haram where we stand and seek forgiveness for all that we’ve committed in our lives. We beg and implore Allah to make us worthy of entering into His haram, visiting His House and being in His presence.

Here, on ‘Arafat, we learn two things. As we acknowledge our disobedience, our sins, our rebelliousness and our forgetfulness, we know our unworthiness as true servants. We reveal everything to Allah, minor or major, Who knows already but simply wants us to admit with true transparency and sincerity what we are inside of our selves. Moreover, we begin to know the all-enveloping knowledge, the inestimable mercy, the boundless generosity and the limitless grace of Alah in forgiving and effacing our sins. Who is it, beside Him, that can forgive and that does forgive? There is no refuge or flight from Allah except to Him.

Allah celebrates, in the presence of the angels, the hujjaj on ‘Arafat asking for forgiveness. And He affirms to the angels that, yes, He has forgiven them.

Now, as the sun begins to set, you continue, perfumed and scented with the purity of Allah’s grace and forgiveness, ever closer to His haram.

Muzdalifa
Muzdalifa, from the Arabic root izdilaf, means to approach, to get closer.

Muzdalifa is a second station of cleansing and purification. The pilgrim is now closer to the Ka‘bah. We remain in supplication (du‘a’) after fajr, imploring Allah again for pardon and guidance. Some scholars have said that in Muzdalifa, Allah also forgives our violations against the rights of others. Such violations are not usually forgiven unless, in addition to seeking forgiveness, we remedy what has been violated.

Muna and the casting of the pebbles
During the Hajj of Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam), he was commanded to sacrifice his son. Allah, of course, never intended that the slaughter take place. Allah wanted, instead, to purify and free Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam) from every love and every attachment besides Him.

It was in Muna that the shaytan attempted to waylay Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam) from sacrificing his son. Ibrahim (’alayhi al-salam) casted pebbles at the shaytan to reject his designs and prompting.

In casting the pebbles, the pilgrim affirms Allah’s greatness over everything and covenants with Allah that he or she will never regress to anything which displeases Him.

Casting the pebbles is the casting away of shaytan, the lower self (nafs) with its desires, inclinations and evil, and, ultimately, casting away everything besides Allah. The pebble is meant, not to hit the pillar, but to fall inside the container, or majmar, where it will remain. The fire of the nafs, its impetus to evil, must be cast out, contained and confined. Our nafs must be jailed for us to become free.

After the nafs is jailed by the casting of the pebbles, it is slaughtered. The sacrifice of the animal signifies the slaughter of the nafs by Ibrahim (‘alayhi al-salam). Ibrahim’s (‘alayhi al-salam) sacrifice was momentous: he sacrificed his very will. Ibrahim was named the Khalil (cherished friend) of Allah because his love for Allah pierced and consumed his entire heart.

The hair – signifying status, station and pride – is now shaved. Whatever remaining trace and residue of the disobedient nafs is now completely cleansed.

Now, the pilgrim is welcomed by Allah to visit His Haram and His House. He or she is now freed from ihram, but not completely. Washing and the use of perfume are now permitted; intimate relations are not. Approaching one’s spouse is unbefitting considering that now the pilgrim is going to visit the Host.

Tawaf al-Ifadah
Ifadah means to flood, to rush, to move.

The movement from ‘Arafat to the haram is called ifadah. The rite of tawaf that takes place after the casting of the pebbles, the sacrifice and the shaving of the head is likewise termed Tawaaf al-Ifadah.

The heart (qalb), cleansed and purified from its attachments, inundated with love, desire and longing, floods to the haram, to the House, and to its Lord. There, it circumambulates the House and renews its pledge of complete and loving submission.

Sa‘i between Safa and Marwa
Sa‘i means to work, to strive, to act.

We remember in sa‘i the actions of Hajar (‘alayha al-salam) as she climbed, walked and ran up both Safa and Marwa looking for sustenance for her starving child. The miracle of Zam zam was gifted to Hajar for her efforts and sincere reliance. Rasulullah (sallalahu ‘alayhi wasallam) teaches that if we drink zam zam with firm faith and certainty, Allah will most definitely answer our supplication.

As servants of Allah, we are embedded in time and space. We must act, all the while cognizant that it is Allah who creates both cause and effect. To see waves upon waves of pilgrims walking and running between Safa and Marwa is to recognize that the reality of our life is constant sa‘i between struggle and reward, struggle and reward. On the hills of Safa and Marwa, where the pilgrim alights in reflection and supplication, the heart exalts, seeing Allah’s power in all matters, yours and others, large or small.

The days and nights of Muna
During our stay in Muna, we re-affirm and re-declare our desire and hope for spiritual freedom by casting pebbles for three days. Each casting of the pebbles cements our resolution to contain and confine both the lower self (nafs) and shaytan.

You remain in Muna as Allah’s guest. Here, we must eat and drink with the consciousness of a guest in front of a Most-Magnanimous Host. The greatest nourishment during these days, as Allah himself indicates, is His dhikr, or remembrance. We are destined to leave but Allah intends we leave gradually, in gratitude to Him, remembrance of Him and gathering a firm resolution for permanent change when we depart.

Then the last pebble is cast. Our final farewell is imminent.

The farewell
Most have waited their entire lives for the encounter with the House of Allah. Many will never return. In truth, there is no certainty that any of us will ever gaze on the Ka‘bah again.

Whether we return or not, we will never forget. It is said – and it is true – that the Ka‘bah beckons you from afar, then haunts you forever.

It is related that Ibn ‘Abbas prayed this as his final farewell, clinging with his entire being to the multazam, the wall of the Ka‘bah between the hajar and the door:

“O Allah This House is Your House And this servant is Your servant, and the son of Your servants You have carried me here on what You have made accessible to me of Your creation Until You have made me reach, by Your grace, Your House And You have helped me fulfill my rites of Hajj (O Allah) If You have been pleased with me, then be more pleased with me And if You are not pleased with me, then I implore you to be generous to me now – Before my house becomes distant from Your house For now it is time for my departure, if You permit me – Never to exchange You for anything else, nor Your House for any other house Not being desirous of others instead of You, nor of any other house besides Your House O Allah, Grant me safety and good health in my body, protection in my religion and allow me a beautiful return And provide me with deeds and acts of Your obedience for as long as You grant me life And gather for me the best of this world and the next For truly You have power over all things.”

A mother once told her son that the Ka‘bah says: The one who does not see me will never rest; and the one who sees me will never rest.

May our hearts find their ultimate rest by journeying to Allah long after our bodies have returned from Hajj. May we always be in Hajj.

Hajj mabrur, my beloved brother and sister.

Source: www.duai.co.za

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A Guide For Intending Pilgrims

NIYYAH

1. The person who intends to perform Hajj must do so with the express niyyah of attaining Allah’s Pleasure, and to fulfil one’s fardh, and also to diligently carry out the Commands of Allah and His Rasool sallallahu alayhi wasallam. The rewards for deeds depend greatly on the niyyah that is formed. Sincerity is extremely important.

2. The ‘ibaadah of Hajj has the exclusive status of being fardh only once a lifetime, for those who can afford it. It is therefore important that the sincerity of intention must be given due regard. In other ‘ibaadaat and devotions it is possible to gradually develop ikhlaas, whereas the time available for Hajj is usually limited. The need for ikhlaas is vital because a fardh Hajj can never be repeated. During your journey to Hajj a concerted effort towards developing this all important sincerity must be made.

3. It is important that Hajj should be kept free of ulterior and worldly motives. Joining worldly objectives with religious aims is like adding water to milk. There are three types of adulteration which are possible in the performance of Hajj; To ruin the Hajj even before departing from home by having a desire to be called a haji, and using haraam or doubtful earnings for this ‘ibaadah. To engage in improper acts while performing Hajj e.g. to commit sins during the time that one is engaged in the performance of Hajj, to have arguments, not to make tawbah (repentance). To complete the Hajj and then to indulge in such deeds that defile the Hajj, e.g. to neglect the fardh salaat, to indulge in sin etc. Perform the Hajj with all its aadaab and requisites, for anything done in keeping with this is well accomplished.

4. While in Hajj do not do things to display to others. Do not announce your Hajj to all and sundry. (To avoid riyaa which is to show off and act to gain fame). On returning from Hajj do not emphasize the difficulties which may have been endured, instead turn your attention towards the eternal benefits and rewards you will receive. One must understand that the difficulties endured during this sacred journey are insignificant compared to the high position one will receive in jannah.

TAWBAH

5. Before beginning one’s journey repent sincerely. Perform two rakaats nafl with the niyyah of tawbah. The effect of sincerely repenting and then proceeding for hajj will be, that one will be favoured by Allah Ta‘ala and blessed with the strength to continually do good deeds.

6. Develop a relationship with the pious person for guidance. This will assist you in making a true and sincere tawbah.

FULFILMENT OF DEBT

7. If you have monetary debt or are responsible for any moral transgression, then fulfil your debt or have it waived, and have your moral violations forgiven. It is important that one settles all outstanding matters and transactions, and has his faults and shortcomings forgiven.

8. All amaanaat (trusts) and anything borrowed must be returned. A detailed and final will must be made regarding all important matters.

EDUCATION

9. It is compulsory for a person who wishes to perform Hajj to learn the necessary masaail well before the time of Hajj. When a firm intention is made then first learn the necessary masaail, or acquire these from a reliable and recognized aalim (scholar).

DEPARTURE

10. Depart with happiness from home. A Hajj which is performed with a feeling of love and keenness is conducive to religious upliftment. Inconvenience during travel should not hamper this love and keenness.

11. Perform two rakaats nafl before departing. Take care that this salaat is not performed during the makrooh times. Give some sadaqah to the poor before leaving home and also after commencing your journey.

12. Ask your near and dear ones, neighbours and friends to overlook and forgive your shortcomings. Make a request for their du‘aa. Make musafahah (shake hands) using both hands when leaving. Do not make musafahah with non-mahrams (those of the opposite sex whom you can marry).

13. Be at your best behaviour amongst your companions. Assist them in their needs. The person who helps his companions on this journey will be regarded as a mujaahid (one who strives to uplift Islaam).

IBAADAH
Salaat, Du‘aa, Tawaaf and Tilaawat

14. Take great care and be punctual in the performance of all salaat with jama‘at whilst visiting the sacred places. Do not delay any salaat at all.

15. After every salaat beseech from Allah ta‘aalaa that He grant you a mabroor Hajj (one that is accepted and free from sin). A Hajj which is full of Allah ta‘aalaa’s Blessings and Favours.

16. A haji is fortunate in being present at the various sacred places where du‘aa are assured acceptance. Therefore repeatedly ask Allah ta‘aalaa for your needs of this world and the Hereafter. Your du‘aa must be appropriate and made with respect and humbleness. Do not ask for meaningless and unrighteous things.

17. There are three persons whose du‘aa are assured acceptance; the oppressed, the traveller and the father’s du‘aa for his son, (meaning children).

18. The qadhaa (fulfilment in arrears) of ‘ibaadaat which are owing to Allah ta‘aalaa should be correctly fulfilled or compensated.

19. The reward for one salaat in the Masjidul Haraam (Makkah) is 100,000 fold (with jama‘at 2,700,000). The reward for salaat in the Masjidun Nabawi (Madeenah) is 50,000 fold. Each good deed done in Makkah is equivalent in reward to 100,000 good deeds done elsewhere.

20. Whenever entering either of the two masjid or any other masjid, form a niyyah for nafl i‘tikaaf.

21. Your stay in the Masjidul Haraam and Masjidun Nabawi must be with utmost dignity and honour.

22. Perform as many tawaaf, umrah and nafl salaat as you can and make du‘aa that the thawaab (reward) of this be presented to Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

23. Complete the Qur’aan at least once in each of the two Holy Masjid, i.e. Makkah and Madeenah.

24. Perform nafl salaat with the niyyah of expressing one’s gratitude to Allah ta‘aalaa.

MAKKAH MUKARRAMAH

25. During your stay in Makkah abundantly increase your recital of the Kalimah Tayyibah: Laa’ilaha il lal’lahu·, and istighfar: ‘Astaghfirullah·.

26. If you desire, give an excellent gift to your near dear ones, friends who are living, and especially those who have passed away. The gift of the rewards of tawaaf and umrah will please their souls very much. There will be no reduction from your own reward for these acts.

27. Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam has said that the water of Zamzam will have the desired effect of whatever intention is made at the time of drinking Zamzam. Zamzam should be drunk with the intention of quenching the thirst of the Day of Qiyaamah (resurrection). It should also be taken with the intention of shifaa (cure) from spiritual and physical ailments. It is commendable to drink Zamzam with the niyyah of being granted the tawfeeq of conforming to the sunnah of our beloved Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam.

MADEENAH MUNAWWARAH

28. It is stated in hadeeth:  (i) “Whoever comes with the sole intention of visiting my grave, my intercession will become incumbent for that person”. (ii) “Whoever visits my grave after my death is like the one who has visited me during my lifetime”.

29. Recite durood (salutations) in abundance on Rasoolullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam, on beginning your journey to and from Madeenah Munawwarah, and during your stay there.

30. To hurt or cause inconvenience to any Muslim and especially the people of Madeenah Munawwarah is a great sin.

GENERAL

31. Choose an able pious companion who will assist you in times of need, and it is better if this companion is a reliable recognized aalim (scholar).

32. Regard the time in Hajj as a blessing. One never knows when one may be favoured with this good fortune again.

33. Since your stay there is a short one, you should value every moment there. Do not waste your time roaming in the bazaars and do not indulge in meaningless things and idle talk.

34. Do not allow your attention to drift towards the decoration and splendour of the buildings, nor indulge in humour and ridicule.

35. One must be extremely cautious with regard to the etiquette of these sacred places. Any disrespect in this regard will be a cause for retribution.

36. Do not criticize the conditions and people there. After all, the local residents are human and are prone to faults just as we are. When noticing the shortcomings of others, special attention must immediately be drawn to one’s own faults and weak points.

37. One must make a concentrated effort to avoid sin, especially casting passionate glances at female who are present at Hajj. One must keep one’s gaze lowered when women gather for tawaaf and salaat-u-salaam.

38. Hadhrat ‘Umar radhiyallahu anhu said, “For me to commit a sin in Makkah is worse than committing seventy sins outside Makkah”. Just as the rewards of good deeds are multiplied in Makkah, so too is the retribution of misconduct multiplied.

39. One must show consideration and take care that one does not trouble or inconvenience those who are present for Hajj and ziyaarah.

40. One must not deceive or trick others in buying or selling. To swindle or cheat the residents of Makkah or Madeenah would result in one’s own destruction. One must be extremely cautious in this regard. Transactions must be carried out with honesty.

Source: Islamic Da’wah Academy

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The Purpose of Ramadan

The month of Ramadhan is not like any other month; its purpose is to rid man of those habits which he has accumulated throughout the rest of the year. It is a month that prepares man for the remaining eleven months by teaching him discipline and self control. Thus, Allah has made some acts which are beloved to man, like eating, drinking and fulfilling one’s desires, Haraam. If man can control these desires in this month, which are usually permissible for him, then he can surely control himself from other desires which are not permissible throughout the remaining months.

This blessed month has been sent by Allah to His bondsmen so that can create a connection and draw closer to Allah by reaping the many rewards that lie in this month. A person who has been given the opportunity to be present in this month can take this as a sign that Allah Ta’ala has given him another opportunity to draw closer to Him and earn His paradise through worship in this month.

In this month we will be given many opportunities, as mentioned above to reform ourselves and seek forgiveness for our bad sins. This is a month of reformation and self reflection, where a believer can ponder of over spirituality and piety and bring a change for the better. The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has clearly stated:

مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]

It is clear from this Hadeeth which has been narrated on the authority of Hadrhat Abu Huraira رضي الله عنه that Allah is not in need of any person to leave his food or drink. Allah is far from needs and desires. However, it is the mercy of Allah that He wants each and every person to leave those things which will lead him to the hellfire and by controlling one’s desires throughout this month it is hoped that one will be able to control himself throughout the following months also.

For those who can relate, we can look at the month of Ramadhan like an MOT test. It is vital to be on form during this test. Once the test is over then we should be at a standard where we can continue through the following months. Indeed, there will be repairs and faults in between, but these will be minor and can be dealt with on the spot.

May Allah Ta’ala make us successful in this test, for the one who is unsuccessful in this test may not be given an opportunity for a re-test.

ان جبرئيل عرض لي فقال بعد من ادرك رمضان فلم يغفر له قلت آمين
“Jibreel came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have his sins forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say ameen.” So I said “Ameen” [Mustadrak al-Haakim]

In summary, the month of Ramadhan has been made so that mankind can take benefit of the merits and blessings contained within to change themselves for the better and by doing so create a bond with Allah that will continue throughout the eleven remaining months.

It is a month within which Allah has instructed us to place more emphasis on actions regarding our Deen (religion) as opposed to our daily routine and emphasis on worldly matters.

I pray that this information comes in use and aids the readers in preparing for the month of Ramadhan.

As a reminder, please commit the following Du’a to memory and make a habit of reciting it daily until the day of Ramdhan.

اللهم بارك لنا في رجب وشعبان وبلغنا رمضان
“O Allah, make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhan.” [Musnad-e-Ahmed]

Source: Collection of Treasures
by Maulana Zain

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Prepare for Ramadan

Prepare for Ramadan

Many of us have been counting the days remaining up to the holy month of Ramadan. Five days, four, three, two and the next thing you know here it is. For a believer the name of this month “Ramadan” gives the thought of joy, rewards and a feeling of Allah’s mercy. Truly, this is a season that should be awaited for. Anticipations and emotions for this month are not sufficient. This holy month requires action and activity. It is about altering our timetables and schedules, it demands us to train ourselves to attain Taqwa (fear of Allah or devotion to Him) which in turn, is the element to carry us successfully through the ongoing journey towards the hereafter (akhirah).

But let us ask ourselves have we really prepared for this month? Are we ready to dedicate more time for our spiritual revival ? During the month of Ramadan the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would stay awake in the nights worshipping Allah, awaken his household and increase in worship. (Bukhari, Muslim). Even though we may have experienced many a Ramadans but every Ramadan must be treated as a once in a lifetime opportunity since we have no idea whether we will live till the next Ramadan. Let us look at a few ahadith concerning this holy period.

Increased Rewards & Forgiveness

What are the rewards of good deeds in the month of Ramadan? The reward of every Fardh (compulsory) act is multiplied seventy times while every Nafl (optional) act earns the reward of one Fardh out of Ramadan. (Ibn Khuzaymah). It is important to understand the latter aspect in its proper perspective. Tahajjud (Nafl Salah in the last third of the night) is an extremely great ibadah (worship). Great virtues have been narrated for this Salah. However, a lifetime of tahajjud cannot equal one Fardh of Fajr Salah! Yet in the month of Ramadan Almighty Allah grants us the reward of a Fardh action for every Nafl performed.

The fish in the sea seek forgiveness for those fasting until they break their fast . Allah decorates His Jannah (Paradise) every day and then says, “The time is near when My pious servants shall cast aside the great trials and come to me.” (Musnad Ahmed)

When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are flung open, the doors of the Hellfire are closed and the Shayateen are imprisoned. (Bukhari)

Fasting

All good deeds are for the one who renders them, but fasting. Fasting is exclusively for me (Allah). (Bukhari)
The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.(Bukhari)
Fasting is a shield, as long as the fasting person does not tear it up (by disobedience) (Nasaee).

Iftar

Not a single prayer made by a fasting person at the time of breaking the fast is rejected. (Ibn Majah)

The Nights of Ramadan
Whoever stands in prayer and worship in (the nights of) Ramadan, with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power)

Whoever stands in prayer and worship in the night of power with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. ( Muslim)
Look for the night of power among the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. (Mishkat)

I’etikaf

The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) observed I’etikaf for ten days every year in the month of Ramadan. In the year he passed away he observed it for twenty days. (Bukhari)

The Last Night Of Ramadan

On the last night of Ramadan the fasting Muslims are forgiven. (Musnad Ahmed)

Conclusion

It can be well comprehended from the above that during this month of Ramadan, Almighty Allah makes it easy for us to acquire His blessings, mercy and forgiveness. There can be no better time to attain this than this blessed month. All that is required on our part is to create in our hearts the desire, ambition, devotion, zeal, eagerness and that we exert increased efforts to acquire the pleasure of Almighty Allah.

While one should engage to the maximum in good deeds, the purpose of Ramadan must be kept foremost in mind, which is to acquire Taqwa. Thus together with the maximum amount of righteous actions one must totally refrain from all sins. We should ensure that no act of disobedience is committed. This abstinence in itself is a worship. One month of strictly conducting oneself in this manner will Insha-Allah have the effect of enabling one to live the next eleven months in a similar manner in the complete obedience of Allah. Thus, can we afford to waste this time? Can we still have time for “loafing?” Is it possible for a person who values Ramadan to spend hours eating? or loitering around after taraweeh feasts and gatherings?, or have time for any other idle pursuits? Can we afford to spend valuable time glued to the airwaves listening to the opinions and views of one and all, whereas that time could have been used to at least recite the Holy Quran or send Durood upon our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? And entertainment? How can it be possible? The last thing that any Muslim who values Ramadan should be bothered about is, who somewhere in the world is whacking a little red ball all over a field or who is kicking a ball between two posts! Let alone comedy or other shows!

Let us really make this Ramadan a profitable one that brings change in our life. We leave you with a quotation of the honorable Mufti Zubair Bayat:
All the “T’s” of Ramadan must be kept in mind so that when Ramadan comes, “everything is to the T!”. These “T’s” are: Tilawah, Tahajjud, Taraweeh, Tasbeehat, Tadharru’ (fervent Dua), Tatawwu’ (Nafl Ibadah), Tasahhur (eating Sehri/Suhoor), Taubah (repentance), Tawadhu (humility) and Tafakkur (contemplation). May Almighty Allah make this Ramadan a turning point in the life of the long-suffering Ummah. Aameen.

Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada