Monday, 29 February 2016

The reason why the husband is regarded as superior and is given the role of qawwaam (protector and maintainer)

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I am a Muslim girl, praise be to Allah. I have read a lot and I have heard the scholars speak about the husband’s rights over his wife, and how great he is. I have heard ahaadeeth which speak sternly about a woman disobeying her husband. I want to obey the commands of Allah and His Messenger when I get married, if Allah wills, but I have a question, if I may ask about it. This question is going around in the minds of many women, but they are too embarrassed to ask them lest they be accused of ignorance or of denying the command of Allah and His Messenger. The question is: what is it that makes the man superior so that he deserves all these rights over women?.

Praise be to Allah.  
The great rights that a husband has over his wife are something that is affirmed in sharee’ah, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise”
[al-Baqarah 2:228] 
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity and their husband’s property). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great”
[al-Nisa’ 4:34] 
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfill her duty towards Allah until she fulfills her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”
Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1853; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.  
And there are other similar texts. 
Allah has explained the reason in the verse where He says (interpretation of the meaning): 
“because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”
[al-Nisa’ 4:34] 
This superiority is something that Allah has decreed, and He is not to be questioned about what He does, rather they are to be questioned. It is also because of what the man does, spending on his family and striving to earn a living for them. 
Ibn Katheer (may Allah have mercy on him) said in his Tafseer (1/363):  “The phrase ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ means that they are superior in physical nature, attitude, status, obedience to the commands of Allah, spending, taking care of interests, and virtue, in this world and in the Hereafter, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): 
‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means’
[al-Nisa’4:34].” End quote. 
He also said (1/653): “Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’ meaning that men are in charge of women, i.e., they are their leaders, who rule over them and discipline them if they go astray. ‘because Allah has made one of them to excel the other’means, because men are superior to women, and men are better than women. Hence Prophethood was given to men only, as is the highest position of authority (i.e., khilaafah or the position of caliph), because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No people will ever succeed who appoint a woman as their ruler.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakr from his father. The same applies to the position of judge etc. ‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ means, because of the mahr, spending and maintenance that Allah has enjoined upon men with regard to women in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). So men are better than women in and of themselves, and they have the responsibility to spend on them and maintain them, so it is appropriate that the man should be the protector and maintainer of the woman, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’, i.e., they are in charge of them. She should obey him in that which he commands her to do, and obeying him means treating his family well and protecting his wealth.” End quote. 
Al-Baghawi said in his Tafseer (2/206):  “ ‘because Allah has made one of them to excel the other’means, men excel women because they have more powers of reason and religious commitment and they are in charge of affairs. And it was said that this refers to giving testimony, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women’ [al-Baqarah 2:282].  And it was said that it refers to jihad, or to worship i.e., Jumu’ah and prayers in congregation, or that it refers to the fact that a man may marry four wives, but a woman is not permitted more than one husband; or the fact that divorce is in the man’s hand; or that it refers to inheritance, or to diyah (blood money), or to Prophethood.” 
Al-Baydaawi said in his Tafseer (2/184): “ ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’ means that they are in charge of them and take care of them. He gave two reasons for that, one that is inherent in them and one that is acquired subsequently, and said: ‘because Allah has made one of them to excel the other’, because Allah has favoured men over women by making men more perfect in reasoning and running affairs, and has given them more strength with regard to work and acts of worship. Hence men are singled out when it comes to Prophethood, leadership, guardianship, establishing rituals, giving testimony in legal matters, the obligation to engage in jihad and pray Jumu’ah, and so on, and they are given a greater share of inheritance, and divorce is in the man’s hand. ‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to what they spend with regard to marriage, such as the mahr and maintenance, etc.” End quote. 
In conclusion, men have been given the role of protectors and maintainers for the two reasons mentioned in the verse, one of which is inherent i.e., Allah has made men superior to women, and the other of which is acquired by the man through his own hard work, which his spending his wealth on his wife. 
And Allah knows best.

Gift-giving and Donations in Islam

Gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintains and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient. It is one of the acts that Prophet Muhammad  (peace be upon him) recommended for us Muslims,   to do. Al-Bukhaari  (may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him) narrated that ‘Aa’ishah  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  her) said: "The Messenger of Allah  (peace be upon him) used to accept gifts and reward people for giving them."

The phrase: “Reward people for giving them,” means giving the giver (at a later time) something of equal value at least in return.

This Hadeeth (narration) indicates that accepting gifts and giving something of equal value (or more) to the giver is the way of the Prophet  (peace be upon him).

The Prophet  (peace be upon him) enjoined responding in kind to favours, as he said in an authentic narration: “Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind, and if you cannot find the means of doing so, then keep praying for him until you think that you have responded in kind.” [Abu Daawood]

“Whoever does you a favour,” means, whoever treats you kindly in word or deed or by gifting you.

 “Respond in kind,” means to treat him kindly just as he has treated you kindly.

“If you cannot find the means of doing so” means if you do not have the money.

“Until you think that you have responded in kind” means, repeatedly supplicate for him until you think that you have rewarded him his due.

He (peace be upon him) was also narrated to have said: "Give out gifts to one another and you will increase in your love for one another". Ibn Hajar and some scholars of Hadith graded it Hasan (Good)- See: Talkhis Al-Habir and Bulugh Al-Maram.

The above narrations buttress the importance of gift-giving in Islam and how it could enhance love and peaceful coexistence.

As for donations and charity, Allah has so much emphasized on giving out charity to the poor and less privileged. In fact, Zakat (alms or charity) is one of the five pillars of Islam and an obligatory act prescribed by Allah for the rich, wealthy and well-to-do among the Muslims. But, we shall restrict ourselves to verses that are related to the voluntary charity in this  discussion. There are a lot of verses in the Qur'an where Allah encourages charity and other donations for His sake and course among which we will showcase below those from Suratu al-Baqarah (Chapter of the Cow) alone as follows:

الذين يؤمنون بالغيب ويقيمون الصلاة ومما رزقناهم ينفقون

Which can be translated to mean:

"Who believe in the Ghaib and perform As-Salat (observe the daily prayers), and spend out of what we have provided for them [i.e. give Zakat ,spend on themselves, their parents, their children, their wives, etc., and also give charity to the poor and also in Allah's Cause)" (Q.2:3).

"مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنبُلَةٍ مِّئَةُ حَبَّةٍ وَاللّهُ يُضَاعِفُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَاللّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knower". (Q.2:261).

"يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَنْفِقُوا مِمَّا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ يَأْتِيَ يَوْمٌ لَا بَيْعٌ فِيهِ وَلَا خُلَّةٌ وَلَا شَفَاعَةٌ وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendship, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.)". (Q. 2:254)

"الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ ثُمَّ لاَ يُتْبِعُونَ مَا أَنفَقُواُ مَنّاً وَلاَ أَذًى لَّهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ"

Which can be translated to mean:

”Those who spend their wealth in the Cause of Allah, and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve". (Q.2:262)

"يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تُبْطِلُواْ صَدَقَاتِكُم بِالْمَنِّ وَالأذَى كَالَّذِي يُنفِقُ مَالَهُ رِئَاء النَّاسِ وَلاَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ فَمَثَلُهُ كَمَثَلِ صَفْوَانٍ عَلَيْهِ تُرَابٌ فَأَصَابَهُ وَابِلٌ فَتَرَكَهُ صَلْداً لاَّ يَقْدِرُونَ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِّمَّا كَسَبُواْ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen of men, and he does not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day. His likeness is the likeness of a smooth rock on which is a little dust; on it falls heavy rain which leaves it bare. They are not able to do anything with what they have earned. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people." (Q.2:264).

"وَمَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمُ ابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِ اللّهِ وَتَثْبِيتاً مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ كَمَثَلِ جَنَّةٍ بِرَبْوَةٍ أَصَابَهَا وَابِلٌ فَآتَتْ أُكُلَهَا ضِعْفَيْنِ فَإِن لَّمْ يُصِبْهَا وَابِلٌ فَطَلٌّ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"And the likeness of those who spend their wealth seeking Allah's Pleasure while they in their ownselves are sure and certain that Allah will reward them (for their spending in His Cause), is the likeness of a garden on a height; heavy rain falls on it and it doubles its yield of harvest. And if it does not receive heavy rain, light rain suffices it. And Allah is All-Seer of (knows well) what you do." (Q.2:265).

"إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ وَإِن تُخْفُوهَا وَتُؤْتُوهَا الْفُقَرَاء فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لُّكُمْ وَيُكَفِّرُ عَنكُم مِّن سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَاللّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرٌ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"If you disclose your Sadaqat (alms-giving), it is well, but if you conceal it, and give it to the poor, that is better for you. (Allah) will forgive you some of your sins. And Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do." (Q.2:271).

"لَّيْسَ عَلَيْكَ هُدَاهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَلأنفُسِكُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُونَ إِلاَّ ابْتِغَاء وَجْهِ اللّهِ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"Not upon you (Muhammad ) is their guidance, but Allah guides whom He wills. And whatever you spend in good, it is for yourselves, and you spend not except seeking Allah's Countenance. And whatever you spend in good, it will be repaid to you in full, and you shall not be wronged". (Q.2:272).

"لِلْفُقَرَاء الَّذِينَ أُحصِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ لاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ ضَرْباً فِي الأَرْضِ يَحْسَبُهُمُ الْجَاهِلُ أَغْنِيَاء مِنَ التَّعَفُّفِ تَعْرِفُهُم بِسِيمَاهُمْ لاَ يَسْأَلُونَ النَّاسَ إِلْحَافاً وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ"

Which can be translated to mean:

)"Charity is) for Fuqara (the poor), who in Allah's Cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land (for trade or work). The one who knows them not, thinks that they are rich because of their modesty. You may know them by their mark, they do not beg of people at all. And whatever you spend in good, surely Allah knows it well". (Q.2:273).

"الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُم بِاللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ سِرّاً وَعَلاَنِيَةً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"Those who spend their wealth (in Allah's Cause) by night and day, in secret and in public, they shall have their reward with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Q.2:274).

"يَمْحَقُ اللّهُ الْرِّبَا وَيُرْبِي الصَّدَقَاتِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ كُلَّ كَفَّارٍ أَثِيمٍ"

Which can be translated to mean:

"Allah will destroy Riba (usury) and will give increase for Sadaqat (deeds of charity, alms, etc.) And Allah likes not the disbelievers, sinners." (Q.2:276).

We can see from the above verses that Allah did not only encourage giving out in voluntary charity but also buttressed on doing so with decency, humility and void of bad and hurting speech (al-Mann) before, during and after giving out the gift or charity donation.

Meanwhile, one of the prayer forms that one can say to that who gives him a gift or donation is "Jazaaka Allahu khayran" (may Allah reward you with good). At-Tirmithi, (may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him) narrated that Usamah Ibn Zayd  (may  Allah  be  pleased  with  him) said: The Messenger of Allah  (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever has a favour done for him and says 'Jazaak Allaahu khayran' has done his utmost to thank him.” [At-Tirmithi].

“Done his utmost to thank him,” means that he has done his utmost to express his gratitude, because he has acknowledged his shortcomings and that he is unable to reward and thank him enough, so he refers the matter to Allah, to reward him in the best manner. It is said that: "If you are unable to give him back in kind, then speak at length thanking him and supplicating for him." [Tuhfat Al-Ahwathi]

The Permanent Committee (a supreme Islamic judicial authority in Saudi Arabia, was asked a similar question) and replied as follows:

"There is nothing wrong with accepting it (an amount of money as a gift), without you (the recipient) longing for that, and you can respond in kind if you are able with an appropriate gift, or you can supplicate for him, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever does you a favour, respond in kind … (the above-mentioned Hadeeth)."  [Fataawa Al-Lajnah Al-Daa’imah]

All About Ihram


After you have made the necessary preparations - paid your debts, repented, absolved yourself of any wrongdoing toward others, etc. - you are ready to take the first step in the blessed journey: ihram.

What is ihram?

The word ihram is used for three meanings:

1. The two pieces of cloth worn by male pilgrims.

2. The very act of starting Hajj or `Umrah by making the intention that one is now starting Hajj or `Umrah and saying the Talbiyah.

3. The state of consecration in which the pilgrims are during Hajj or `Umrah. After putting on ihram (first meaning) and making the intention of ihram (second meaning), the pilgrims enter automatically the state of ihram, which requires them to avoid certain things. Below are more details on ihram in its three senses.

How do I put on ihram?

Cleanliness is recommended before putting on the clothing of ihram. It is recommended that you clip finger and toe nails, shave off armpit and pubic hair, comb the hair and beard, trim the moustache, bathe (perform ghusl) or at least make wudu'. Men, but not women, are also recommended to put on perfume.

For men, the clothing of ihram comprises two sheets of cloth. One is wrapped round the upper part of the body except the head. It is normally draped over both shoulders but in certain times it is to be draped over one shoulder. This will be discussed later. The other is wrapped round the lower part of the body. You can fix this piece by a belt, a money belt, or a pin.

For women, the ihram is ordinary loose-fitting clothes that cover all of the body except the face and hands. In some countries it is a tradition for women to wear special clothes, such as white dresses or black cloaks, for ihram, but this is not required.

There are no restrictions as for women's footwear. But for men, footwear should not cover the toes and ankles. Socks and shoes, therefore, should not be used by men.

Putting on ihram is the first step in Hajj and `Umrah. As mentioned above, you first put on ihram and then make the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah (the second meaning of ihram). You can put on ihram in your home or wherever you want, provided that when you intend to start Hajj or `Umrah, you are dressed in the clothing of ihram.

As you will see later in this article, there are prescribed places that you should not pass before putting on ihram and making the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah.

How, where, and when do I start pilgrimage?

The Hajj intention varies according to the mode of Hajj you choose.

Now after putting on the clothing of ihram, you are ready to start your pilgrimage by making the intention of starting Hajj or `Umrah. It is recommended to make the intention after performing one of the obligatory prayers or after praying two rak`ahs. You express this intention by saying, in the case of `Umrah, "Labbayka, Allahuma, `Umrah" (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah). As for Hajj, the intention varies according to the mode of Hajj you choose:1. In ifrad Hajj, you are going to perform only Hajj and therefore you make the intention of Hajj saying "Labbayka, Allahuma, Hajjan" (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing Hajj).

2. In tamatu` Hajj, you are going to perform a full `Umrah followed by a break and then a full Hajj. Therefore, you make the intention of `Umrah saying "Labbayk, Allahuma, `Umrah" (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah). On Dhul-Hijjah 8, you start Hajj so you make then the intention of Hajj saying "Labbayk, Allahuma, Hajjan" (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing Hajj).

There are certain places at which you should make your intention. These places are called mawaqit (plural of miqat). You should not pass your fixed miqat without putting on the cloth of ihram and making the intention of ihram. These are five places:3. In qiran Hajj, you are going to combine `Umrah with Hajj, so you make the intention of both `Umrah and Hajj saying "Labbayk, Allahuma, `Umratan wa Hajjan" (O Allah, I answer Your call by performing `Umrah and Hajj).

1. Dhul-Hulaifah, a place southwest of Madinah and 18 km from its mosque. It is the miqat for the people coming from Madinah and beyond.

2. Dhat-`Iraq, a place 94 km to the northeast of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people coming from Iraq and beyond.

3. Al-Juhfah, a place 187 km to the northwest of Makkah. This was the miqatfor the people coming from or passing through Syria and Egypt. It was on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, but it has completely disappeared and Rabigh (to the north of Al-Juhfah) is used as this miqat now.

4. Qarn Al-Manazil, 94 km to the east of Makkah. It is the miqat for the people of Najd and the pilgrims who pass by it.

5. Yalamlam, 54 km to the south of Makkah. It is the miqat for those coming from Yemen and the pilgrims who pass by it.

If you are traveling by land, it is easy to stop at themiqat and make the intention. People traveling by air are usually notified when reaching the miqat or a short time before so that they can make the intention. In such a case you are supposed to be ready, having put on your ihram clothing in advance.

As mentioned in the article "FAQs on Hajj and `Umrah", there is a prescribed time for Hajj: the months of Shawwal, Dhul-Qi`dah and Dhul-Hijjah. So making the intention of Hajj should take place in the period from Shawwal 1 to Dhul-Hijjah 9. It is not possible to start Hajj on Dhul-Hijjah 10 or afterwards because this means missing the ritual of staying in `Arafah on the day or night of Dhul-Hijjah 9, which is one of the pillars of Hajj.

What are the prohibitions while in the state of ihram?

In ihram, clipping nails and contracting marriage are among prohibited actions.

Having started Hajj or `Umrah, you are now in the state of ihram. From now until you finish the `Umrah or until you are done with the major tasks of Hajj, you are supposed to abandon certain things (calledmahzurat al-ihram) or the don'ts of the state of ihram. They are the following:

1. Clipping nails and shaving hair from any part of the body.

2. Using perfume in any way.

3. Making foreplay, speaking lustful words, touching your spouse with desire, and having sexual intercourse.

4. Contracting marriage.

5. Hunting or eating from game meat: Pilgrims are forbidden to hunt, help in hunting, or eat of any land game prepared for their sake, at their suggestion, or with their help.

6. For men, covering the head or wearing clothes sewn to fit the body's limbs. So wearing shirts, robes, trousers, turbans, hats, gloves, socks, etc. is prohibited.

7. For women, wearing Niqab or gloves.

Shari`ah editor at website.

The importance of trustworthiness and the severe warning against treachery in the Islam.

In the article entitled Honesty, we discussed how important the concept of honesty is to Islam and how it incorporates truthfulness and reliability.  Another dimension of honesty is trustworthiness, or in Arabic, amanah.  The meaning of amanah is trustworthiness, or, it is something or someone left to someone to protect or keep.  The opposite of amanah is betrayal or even treason.  That is, to fail to keep the trust or amanah in the way the person who left it expected or wanted.
Trustworthiness further enhances the integrity and sound moral conduct that is inherent in the notion of honesty.  Being trustworthy implies being honest, fair in dealings and punctual (in terms of both regularity and timeliness) as well as honouring trusts and keeping promises and commitments.  An important part of the noble Islamic character is being trustworthy.  Prophet Muhammad was known, even before his Prophethood to be Al Amin (the trustworthy one).
While the qualities of honesty and trustworthiness are inextricably entwined, there are slight differences.  Honesty implies a lack of deceit while trustworthiness entails honouring and fulfilling commitments, promises, trusts and covenants.  It covers moral, social, legal and religious obligations.  Being truthful in promises and covenants is one of the characteristics by which the believers are known.  Both promises and covenants involve saying something about an issue to confirm that you will uphold the trust.  This is especially so with regard to one's duties towards God.  God praises the believers by promising them Paradise,
“Those who are faithfully true to their amanah (all the duties which God has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts, etc.) and to their covenants...these indeed are the inheritors.  Who shall inherit Paradise.  And dwell therein forever” (Quran 23:8, 23:10-11)
Trust, and being worthy of another’s trust, is inherent in being one who is submitted to the will of God.  When God appointed Adam (the father of mankind) as successor on earth,  it was a trust incumbent upon all of mankind.  When God created us as individuals for worshipping Him, it became a trust incumbent upon us to nourish[1]  ourselves and our families in a way that enables worship.
In Islam, every believer is a brother or sister to the other; we are one body, one nation.  The right hand must be able to trust the left hand.  The commands and rules from God are designed for our benefit and Islam holds people’s rights in high esteem.  The systematic arrangement of guidelines and regulations is intended to uphold the rights Islam gives to the believers and to minimise vice and corruption.  Islam strongly condemns the violation of God-given rights.  When God commands us to keep the trust, to be trustworthy, it is not a matter to be taken lightly.
Prophet Muhammad explained the seriousness of upholding the rights due to others when he said, “God says, ‘There are three people whom I shall be their opponent on the Day of Judgment: A man who was given something in My Name and then betrays; A man who sells-off a free man (as a slave) and consumes the price; and A man who hires a labourer, makes use of his service then does not give him his wages.’” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari).  God says in the Quran,
“Verily, God does command you to render back your Trusts to whom they are due.” (Quran 4:58)
In the past God dealt severely with people who were dishonest and did not honour their trusts.  The people of Midian had developed unfair and corrupt business practices and Prophet Shuaib was instructed to warn them of God’s displeasure.
“He said, “O my people!  Worship God, you have no other god but Him, and give not short measure or weight, I see you in prosperity; and verily I fear for you the torment of a Day encompassing.  And O my people!  Give full measure and weight in justice and reduce not the things that are due to the people, and do not commit mischief in the land, causing corruption.  That which is left by God for you (after giving the rights of the people) is better for you, if you are believers.” (Quran 11:85-86)
After Prophet Shuaib issued his warning and the people chose to belittle and ignore him the promise of God was shown to be true.  God is the most Just, the Most Wise and He is the Ultimate Trustee, the One who can be relied upon to fulfil His promises.
“And when Our Commandment came, We saved Shuaib and those who believed with him by a Mercy from Us.  And a torment (or awful cry) seized the wrongdoers, and they lay (dead) prostrate in their homes.” (Quran 11:94)
Reliability, honesty and trustworthiness are characteristics that must be present in anyone who claims to be a believer.  The sayings of Prophet Muhammad indicate that dishonesty and betrayal are completely at odds with the Islamic faith.  Prophet Muhammad informed us that “A hypocrite is known by three traits: When he speaks, he lies; when he promises, he reneges; when he is entrusted, he cheats (or embezzles).” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
When Abu Ubayda was the commander of the Muslim armies in Syria, the Emperor of Byzantium set out with a large army to recapture Hims.  Abu ‘Ubaida decided to evacuate the city because he had only a handful of soldiers.  He gathered the people of Hims in the middle of the city and announced, “We collected the protection tax from you because we planned to defend you.  Now we are too weak.  In this case, we return the tax we collected.”  All the taxes collected were returned to the non-Muslim people of Hims.  Such was the depth of feeling and understanding displayed by the early Muslims.  They were constantly aware of their obligations towards  God, their brothers and sisters and those who were under the protection of the Muslim armies.
Trustworthiness is a quality that is essential if a society is to function as one unit, bearing in mind the needs and aspirations of all its citizens.  The Muslim nation should be one unit, one nation.  All members of this brotherhood should be able to stand before God knowing that he is safe and secure in the company of one who is trustworthy.  From the lowliest peasant to the mightiest king all are equal, the only thing that makes one member of the unit better than the other is his piety or righteousness.  Amongst the many qualities that blend together to make righteousness, is trustworthiness.

[1] Nourishment through, not only food, water, exercise and sleep but also through knowledge and closeness to God.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

What are the Benefits of the Five Daily Prayers?


Praying five times a day is considered so important to Muslims that we call it one of the Five Pillars of Islam. In other words, along with the declaration of faith, fasting in Ramadan, paying of Zakat and going on pilgrimage once in one's life to Makkah, prayer is considered essential if we are to call ourselves Muslims.

As with everything in Islam, there is a reason behind all the things we do. Sometimes, if we don't understand these underlying reasons, many things can just appear as external rules and regulations. Modern men and women are not looking for extra burdens to put on their backs, so there is much more to praying than observing a regulation.

Contrary to what many people think, there is much more to prayer than just asking for things! Of course, we ask things of Almighty God, but we can also spend time thanking Him and praising Him. Indeed, the angels in heaven exist just to do this.

In the holy Quran we read: {Most surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find solace.} (13:28)

In the Call to Prayer (the Adhan), which is called from the mosque five times a day, the caller says these words: "Come to prayer. Come to Success." In the Call for the Morning Prayer, he even adds the phrase, "Prayer is better than sleep." There is really nothing more beautiful in a Muslim country to wake up in the morning to hear Allah's name being mentioned from every part of the city. Even for those who are the only Muslims in their town, though, the morning Call to Prayer reminds them just how beautiful a gift prayer really is.

Imagine an air-raid siren being sounded in time of war. People hear the siren and run as fast as they can to take cover from the bombs that would soon be falling on them. The Adhan is like this air-raid siren, but instead of calling people to take shelter from bombs it is asking them to come to God Almighty and take shelter from the cares of this life. You see, prayer is not an escape from reality. It is an escape to reality. In prayer we can put all things in perspective and see what is really important in life.

When our foreheads are touching the ground in prayer we can't fool anyone. Maybe in life we manage to fool others by the way we dress or by the words we use. Sometimes we even manage to fool ourselves. But Allah is not to be fooled. He not only created the heavens and the earth and everything in between, but He also knows every leaf that falls from every tree. This is why we can truly be ourselves in His presence when we pray.

For Muslims, praying is not a regulation. It is a gift.

So why five prayers, and why at certain set times during the day? You know, of all the Pillars of Islam, praying five times a day was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in heaven. At first, he was told that Muslims should pray fifty times, but Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) urged Muhammad to go back and say that this was too much. Allah Almighty then said ten times, and again Moses (peace be upon him) persuaded Muhammad (peace be upon him) to plead that this was too much. Finally, Muhammad (peace be upon him) was told that Muslims must pray five times a day, and Allah added, "I have enforced My obligation and made it light for my servants. He who prays these five prayers will be rewarded as if he had prayed fifty. What I decree cannot be changed."  (Bukhari)

The regulation of praying at certain set times is not just a random idea. The whole idea is to permeate the whole of one's day with the remembrance of Allah. Some new Muslims say that they lead very busy lives and ask if it is OK to say all the five prayers together in the evening when they have more time. It is precisely because we live busy lives that we must pray at certain times. The times are simple: when we get up, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, in the early evening and at night. By praying at these set times we give a routine of prayer to our day. We wake up thinking of Allah and we spend the day interrupting all of our busy-ness to think of Him again.

So, if you are new to Islam is it easy to adjust to the routine of praying at five fixed times a day? Well, in my own case it certainly wasn't easy and it took me some time to get used to it. So if at first you are not feeling all that uplifted by getting up to pray at four in the morning, stick with it. The routine itself will help you. By doing good things we become good people. The routine of prayer will make you a better Muslim.

A few simple tips might help. If you find it difficult to get up for the Dawn Prayer, then buy yourself a loud alarm clock, or even two or three, and have them so far out of your reach that you have to get up to turn them off! You might at first even get your telephone company to give you a wake-up call.

As well as an alarm clock, you can also get an alarm clock that will sound the call to Prayer five times a day. There are many Muslim bookshops that sell these and you could probably even get one online. This kind of clock is especially helpful if you live in a country where the Adhan is not called publicly. If that is not possible, set your mobile phone to vibrate and be reminded of the prayer times even while you are in the office!

A problem people sometimes have in prayer is that they are distracted and cannot concentrate. Well, it all depends on how well prepared we are. If we are going to our prayers straight from watching a football match or a sitcom on the TV, then our thoughts will not be on Allah alone. So we need to take time in preparing for prayer. This, in fact, is what the Ablution gives us time to do. As we wash away the dirt that clings to our bodies, we prepare for the prayer to wash away the dirt that clings to our hearts and our lives.

So, for those new to Islam, setting off on a journey of prayer will bring great benefits. The greatest one of all is that it will help us to put our lives into perspective, seeing that all things come from Allah and that it is to Allah that all will return.

The Islamic understanding of homosexuality.

Homosexuality is one of the 21stcentury’s hot topics. The issue of gay marriage is being debated around the world. Strangely however many people do not understand what the word homosexuality means nor do they understand what Islam says about the issue. In this article we will define the term, look at scientific evidences related to homosexuality, discuss the view of other religious groups and finally see just what Islam says about the issue.
Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire toward a member of one’s own sex or the erotic activity with a member of the same sex. (The Greek word homos means the same). A lesbian is a female homosexual. More recently the term “gay” has come into popular use to refer to both sexes who are homosexuals.
The Merriam Webster free online dictionary,   in its concise encyclopaedia defines homosexuality as sexual interest in and attraction to members of one's own sex. Female homosexuality is frequently referred to as lesbianism; the word gay is often used as an alternative for both “homosexual” and “lesbian,” though it may  (on occasion) refer specifically to male homosexuality.
The role of biological factors in the development of human sexual orientation is a widely debated topic. There is a wide spectrum of opinions about the effect genes, prenatal hormones and brain structure can have on the development of a heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or asexual person. It seems unclear even to those who declare homosexuality an innate trait. At a PrideWorks[1]  conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender minors it was stated that "sexuality is fluid" and "may change over time" however, homosexual activists continue to maintain that they are "born gay."
The latest research by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) suggests that homosexuality is not written in our DNA sequence, which explains why scientists have failed so far to find “gay genes,” despite intensive investigations. Instead, they say, it is in certain modifications to how and when DNA is activated. These changes can have environmental roots, so are not normally permanent enough to be passed from parent to child. There is a post script however, because apparently, occasionally they are passed from parent to child. This is a branch of science called epigenetics.[2]
Throughout history particular cultures and societies have treated homosexuality in a number of ways.  Homosexual behaviour has variously been encouraged, approved of, tolerated, punished, and banned. The three so called Abrahamic faiths Judaism, Christianity, and Islam  have generally viewed homosexuality as sinful.
Attitudes toward homosexuality are generally in flux, due in part to increased political activism, however until the early 1970s many medical organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, classified homosexuality as a mental illness. In the past couple of decades many Christian denominations have changed their views quite significantly and we now see homosexual ministers and an acceptance of same sex marriages, this however is not the case with the Catholic Church. In late 2012 the Vatican spoke out against any suggestions that traditional marriage had been defeated, following significant victories for gay marriage activists in the United States and Europe. In his Peace Day message the pope said, "(There is) a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it  equivalent to radically different types of union. Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society." Earlier in the year the pontiff declared that same sex marriage threatened human dignity and the future of humankind.
Judaism is also struggling with modern day attitudes to homosexuality. The known history of homosexuality in Judaism begins in Leviticus, where intercourse between male homosexuals is a capital offence. "[A man] shall not lie with another man as [he would] with a woman, it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22). Thus Orthodoxy’s foundational beliefs concerning the Divinity of Torah and the authority of halachah (received Jewish law) declare homosexuality (the sexual act) as a prohibited action. 
In late 2012 the USA’s largest rabbinic organization, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) formally withdrew its support of JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality). Judaism’s approach to homosexuality has long been one of rehabilitation, as has the Mormon Church. In America Jews struggling with homosexual inclinations are encouraged to seek therapy to help them overcome unnatural desires.  At this point it is interesting to note that both JONAH and various gay organisations refer to homosexuality, as fluid, a state that can fluctuate.  Many ex-homosexuals agree that homosexuality is a choice.
Greg Quinlan, president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), says, “I, as a former homosexual, along with tens of thousands of others who left homosexuality, [am] proof that it is not immutable; you can change." and "It is not innate; you are not born that way." There are also a number of Islamic ex-gay groups aimed at attempting to guide homosexuals towards heterosexuality; including the Straightway Foundation, a UK based ex-gay organization which works with homosexual Muslims seeking to eliminate their same-sex attraction.
In the Quran God explicitly condemns homosexuality.
“When their brother Lot said to them, “Will you not fear God? Verily! I am a trustworthy Messenger to you. So fear God and obey me. I ask no reward from you, for my only reward is with the Lord of the Worlds. Must you, unlike [other] people, lust after males and abandon the wives that God has created for you? You are exceeding all bounds" (Quran 26: 161-166)
There is a consensus among Islamic scholars that human beings are naturally heterosexual. Homosexuality is seen as a perverted deviation from the norm and all schools of thought and jurisprudence consider homosexual acts to be unlawful. Islam considers that our relaxed attitude in this day and age is a product of the times in which we live, where morals have been completely liquefied.
Homosexuality is considered the sin of the people of Prophet Lot[3]  and its Arabic word is lutiyyaLiwat is the word for sodomy, under which heading the topic of homosexuality is found in the books of Islamic jurisprudence.  Under Islamic law both the (same-sex) sodomizer and sodomized are condemned to death. However it must be pointed out that the death penalty is applied only under strict conditions and rules of evidence, and only in places that live under Islamic law. There is no fixed prescribed punishment for lesbianism since sexual intercourse does not take place, however it is undoubtedly prohibited and sinful.
In words that are reminiscent of the Catholic pontiff speech in December 2012, the Quran tells us that marriage, a union between the two sexes is a  combination of love, tenderness, and care, so that each finds in the other completeness, tranquillity, and support (Quran 30:21). According to the Quran it is through this spousal connection that men and women find comfort, peace of mind, satisfaction, and fulfilment. These relationships extend beyond the physical sexual contact and to psychological, spiritual relations.
Islam says unequivocally that even if one harbours an urge for homosexual contact the nobility of the human spirit is able to overcome such urges through dedication to pleasing God, and submitting willingly to His commands that are undoubtedly designed for our benefit.

[1] A USA based conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth and their allies.
[2] For more detailed information(

[3] (

Saturday, 27 February 2016

The birth of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam

Ma'arif Ochon's photo.

Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )   the Master of Prophets, was born in Bani Hashim lane in Makkah on Monday morning, the ninth of Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, the same year of the Elephant Event, and forty years of the reign of Kisra (Khosru Nushirwan), i.e. the twentieth or twenty-second of April, 571 A.D., according to the scholar Muhammad Sulaimân Al-Mansourpuri.
Ibn Sa‘d reported that Muhammad’s mother said: "When he was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum (genital organs) and lit the palaces of Syria." Ahmad reported on the authority of ‘Arbadh Ibn Sariya something similar to this.
It was but controversially reported that significant precursors accompanied his birth: fourteen galleries of Kisra’s palace cracked and rolled down, the Magians’ sacred fire died down and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed.
His mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather ‘Abdul-Muttalib of the happy event. Happily he came to her, carried him to Al-Ka‘bah, prayed to Allah and thanked Him. ‘Abdul-Muttalib called the baby Muhammad, a name not then common among the Arabs.
The first woman who suckled him after his mother was Thuyebah, the freed slave of Abu Lahab, with her son, Masrouh. She had suckled Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib before, and later Abu Salamah Ibn ‘Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi.
It was the general custom of the Arabs living in towns to send their children away to bedouin wet nurses so that they might grow up in the free and healthy surroundings of the desert whereby they would develop a robust frame and acquire the pure speech and manners of the bedouins, who were noted both for purity of their language and for being free from those vices which usually develop in sedentary societies.
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was later entrusted to Haleemah bint Abi Dhuaib from Bani Sa‘d Ibn Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith Ibn ‘Abdul ‘Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.
Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) had several foster brothers and sisters, ‘Abdullah Ibn Al-Harith, Aneesah bint Al-Haarith, Hudhafah or Judhamah bint Al-Haarith (known as Ash-Shayma’), and she used to nurse the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) and Abu Sufyan Ibn Al-Haarith Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s cousin. Hamzah Ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle, was suckled by the same two wet nurses, Thuyeba and Haleemah As-Sa‘diyah, who suckled the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ).
Traditions relate how Haleemah and the whole of her household were favoured by successive strokes of good fortune while the baby Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) lived under her care. Ibn Ishaq states that Haleemah narrated that she, along with her husband and a suckling babe, set out from her village in the company of some women of her clan in quest of children to suckle. She said:
It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown she-ass. We also had with us an old she-camel. By Allah we could not get even a drop of milk. We could not have a wink of sleep during the night for the child kept crying on account of hunger. There was not enough milk in my breast and even the she-camel had nothing to feed him. We used to constantly pray for rain and immediate relief. At length we reached Makkah looking for children to suckle. Not even a single woman amongst us accepted the Messenger of Allâh  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) offered to her. As soon as they were told that he was an orphan, they refused him. We had fixed our eyes on the reward that we would get from the child’s father. An orphan! What are his grandfather and mother likely to do? So we spurned him because of that. Every woman who came with me got a suckling and when we were about to depart, I said to my husband: "By Allâh, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any baby. I should go to that orphan and I must take him." He said, "There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allah might bless us through him." So I went and took him because there was simply no other alternative left for me but to take him. When I lifted him in my arms and returned to my place I put him on my breast and to my great surprise, I found enough milk in it. He drank to his heart’s content, and so did his foster brother and then both of them went to sleep although my baby had not been able to sleep the previous night. My husband then went to the she-camel to milk it and, to his astonishment, he found plenty of milk in it. He milked it and we drank to our fill, and enjoyed a sound sleep during the night. The next morning, my husband said: "By Allah Haleemah, you must understand that you have been able to get a blessed child." And I replied: "By the grace of Allah, I hope so."
The tradition is explicit on the point that Haleemah’s return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) stayed with her, was encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkah was lean and almost foundered; it recovered speed much to the amazement of Haleemah’s fellow travellers. By the time they reached the encampments in the country of the clan of Sa‘d, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favour. The barren land sprouted forth luxuriant grass and beasts came back to them satisfied and full of milk. Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) stayed with Haleemah for two years until he was weaned as Haleemah said:
We then took him back to his mother requesting her earnestly to have him stay with us and benefit by the good fortune and blessings he had brought us. We persisted in our request which we substantiated by our anxiety over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkah. At last, we were granted our wish and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) stayed with us until he was four or five years of age.
When, as related by Anas in Sahih Muslim, Gabriel came down and ripped his chest open and took out the heart. He then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: "That was the part of Satan in thee." And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a gold basin. After that the heart was joined together and restored to its place. The boys and playmates came running to his mother, i.e. his nurse, and said: "Verily, Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) has been murdered." They all rushed towards him and found him all right only his face was white.
After this event, Haleemah was worried about the boy and returned him to his mother with whom he stayed until he was six.