Wednesday, 31 May 2017

What are the pillars of fasting?

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What are the pillars of fasting?.

Praise be to Allah.  
The fuqaha’ are agreed that abstaining from the things that break the fast, from the true dawn until sunset is one of the pillars of fasting. 
But they differed with regard to the intention. The Hanafis and Hanbalis are of the view that the intention is a condition of the fast being valid. 
The Maalikis and Shaafa’is were of the view that it is a pillar in addition to abstinence. 
Whether the intention is regarded as a pillar or a condition, the fast – like other acts of worship – cannot be regarded as valid without the intention, as well as abstaining from the things that break the fast. 
Al-Bahr al-Raa’iq, 2/276; Mawaahib al-Jaleel, 2/378; Nihaayat al-Muhtaaj, 3/149; Nayl al-Ma’aarib Sharh Daleel al-Taalib, 1/274. 
And Allah knows best.

The valid intention of fasting

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In Ramadan, we performed the Taraaweeh prayer and bought our Sahoor (pre-dawn meal) and prepared it. Nevertheless, we slept and did not wake before dawn. Is that a valid intention, or is our fasting invalid?
All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) is His Slave and Messenger.
Buying Sahoor and preparing it imply the intention of fasting the next day. Consequently, your fasting is valid, and the fact that you slept and did not eat Sahoor does not invalidate it.

Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The intention of fasting in Ramadan, according to the consensus of scholars, does not require one to say, ‘I am fasting tomorrow’; rather, it is enough to have the intention in his heart. The intention follows knowledge. When one knows what he wants to do, he must intend it. Consequently, when the Muslim knows that Ramadan will be from the next day and he is among those required to fast, he naturally intends fasting. Likewise, when he knows that ‘Eed will be the next day, he (by default) will intend - that night - not to fast.”
Allah Knows best.

Reusing graves

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I would like to know if there is any time limit for reusing gravesites. I hear that in Arab countries, after around 40 yrs, graves are demolished and new graves are then made. Is it allowed?


When the deceased is placed into the grave, it should be treated like his or her dwelling and home. The graveyard is the abode of the deceased, so it is not permissible to violate it. 

Graves are to be respected. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “For one to sit on a piece of coal, and for it to burn his clothes and reach his skin, is better for him than for him to sit on a grave.” 

It follows that destroying a gravesite or a graveyard, which is the dwelling of the deceased, is a transgression against the inhabitants of the graveyard. However, if the destruction of the gravesite or the graveyard yields an important benefit to society and no harm is inflicted upon the living or the dead, then that destruction is permitted. 

It is recorded that A’ishah, the mother of the believers, and Talhah ibn `Ubayd Allah were exhumed from their graves and buried elsewhere because their original graves were damaged. Mu’âdh bin Jabal dug up his wife’s gave and wrapped her in clean shrouds, for she had been wrapped in very old ones. [Ibn Qudâmah, al-Mughnî

Scholars, both classical and contemporary, have ruled that it is prohibited to destroy a graveyard which contains graves of Muslims unless their bones have disintegrated and turned to dust. This can be determined either by firsthand verification or by calculating a certain number of years. 

This time period varies depending on the nature of the soil, since the soil of some graveyards hastens the disintegration of bones more that of others. As for assigning a certain number of years to a graveyard such as forty years or more less, this I know nothing about. 

And Allah knows best.

Those who may assist the wife while she washes her deceased husband


If a Muslim woman wants to wash her deceased husband, who can assist her in the washing? Should it be men who are mahram to her, like her sons, or women that were mahram to her husband, such as his daughters?


If a woman handles the washing of her deceased husband, the relatives who should help her are the husband’s father or his sons. It is also permissible for other men who are mahram to her to help her. 

Other women may not participate in washing, no matter how closely relative they were to the deceased. Women are not allowed to wash other than their own husbands. 

The basic rule is that men should be washed by men and women by women with the exception of the husband and wife who are allowed to wash each other. For a deceased boy or girl who is seven years old or younger, it is allowed for either men or women to wash them.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

What Not To Do In Ramadan

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Ramadan is the month of mandatory fasting for all able adults without valid exemptions. Simply stated, fasting in Ramadan is the act of complete abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and intimate spousal relationships from dawn to sunset everyday for the whole ninth month of the Islamic calendar.
It is culminated in the Night of Power, when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and when all-night worship is equal to that of a lifetime. Ramadan is concluded in the celebration of Eid, when families and the community meet to congratulate each other of a new beginning after a month of soul-searching, worship,and reflection. It is a powerful platform for rebirth of individuals, families, and communities.
However, many observant Muslims forget that beneath the simple definition of fasting lies more complex behavioral expectations. Why would God ask the believers to abstain from life-sustaining necessities and pleasures for a whole month? Is it only to make them hungry and thirsty for His sake so they can prove that they are good believers? Or are there other achievable and beneficial goals?
The Quran says clearly speaking about fasting in Ramadan, “God does not want to make it difficult for you but He wants to make it easy”. As in all rituals and acts of worship, there are deeper purposes, or Makased in Arabic. Abstaining from food and drink is only the minimum requirement. Fasting believers are also expected to reflect on the mercy of the month in their daily interactions, behaviors, and relationships.
By changing their daily regimen for a whole month, they are expected to change themselves by breaking bad and harmful habits and quitting any addictions that have crept into their lives in the other 11 months of the year. Breaking bad habits is not easy, but Ramadan gives us a whole month to do so. God invites us in Ramadan to exert our effort to change ourselves, our families, and our community by embracing a simple paradigm: If you are able to abstain from what is lawful and life-sustaining, i.e. food and water, shouldn’t you be able to abstain from what is harmful and unnecessary?
Early believers probably understood the deep purposes of fasting intuitively, as they wholeheartedly embraced their faith. With time, and not unlike other religions, Islam and its rituals became more cultural practices than a fully embraced and understood way of life. Muslims, or the majority of them, focused on the acts of worship, not on the substance, and on the "how", not on the "why". When it comes to Ramadan, we tend to trivialize our fasting by indulging in acts and practices that run counter to the very essence of the month.
Here is a short list of trends and practices that are counterproductive to the essence and  purpose of fasting. You have the whole month to cleanse yourself from them:

1. Arguing over the Hilal or moonsighting.

The Islamic, or Hijri, year, like the Jewish year, is based on the lunar calendar. The lunar year is about 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year, and that is why Ramadan keeps moving earlier and spans all seasons.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year. The lunar month starts by the birth of a new moon. The birth of a new moon can be determined by moonsighting by naked eye, telescopes, or by scientific calculations. The beginning of the month may be different from country to country based on geography.  The majority of Muslim scholars are with the opinion that Muslims, living in one country or throughout the world, should start and end the month together.
But some disagree and follow other criteria with varying degrees of flexibility or rigidity. Many Muslims spend hours arguing whether Ramadan started or ended based on which criteria, often with minimal knowledge of the topic. Don’t waste time arguing about this issue. Leave it to the experts. Instead, focus on starting your month on a strong footing. Set certain achievable goals for you and your family. Learn something that may benefit yourself and your community and avoid the unnecessary knowledge.

2. Overeating and indulging in food, drinks, and sweets.

Fasting should teach us self-control and discipline over our bodies and over what we consume. We should eat in moderation after breaking the fast and try to lose some weight. Focus on nutritious, not junk, fatty, or high calorie food. Eat local, seasonal, Halal, wholesome and green.
Learn how to cook and eat healthy. Exercise after Iftar. A brisk walk is good exercise even for 30 minutes every night. Taraweeh prayer is also good exercise. We have an epidemic of obesity and the epidemic of the "fattening of America,”. At least 66 percent of adults are overweight or obese and there is a compelling argument to be made that we should eat less, lose weight, and be more conscious of our health.
The Prophet Muhammad, God's peace and blessings be upon him, taught us moderation and self-control in all aspects of life, and forbade us to harm ourselves, others, or nature.

3. Doing what is harmful.

The concept of sin, or Haram, in Islam includes all what can harm self, family, community, or nature. In general, actions are permissible unless there is credible and corroborated evidence of otherwise. Intentional eating and drinking will definitely nullify the physical part of fasting, but there are other deeds and behaviors that will undermine the essence of fasting rendering the physical part meaningless.
Ramadan is your chance to avoid harm to your body, mind, faith, family, wealth, community, and Earth. How about quitting smoking and other addictions? How about mending the relationships with your close and extended family members?

4. Cheating, lying, backbiting, gossiping, slandering, false accusations, or spreading rumors.

Social media has made it easy to spread all kind of rumors and falsehoods. Quitting the pleasure of tasting food and water is the minimum of fasting, but what is more important is quitting what may ruin relationships and weaken ties within your family and the community. Those who lie and hurt other people while fasting gain nothing but thirst and hunger. Backstabbing, gossiping, and spreading falsehood is likened to the eating of flesh of a cadaver in the Quran.

5. Increased consumption, waste, and overspending.

Fasting is not an excuse for wasting too much food or overspending. If anything, it is a time for saving on your meals and spending on others’ meals. Feed the poor and the refugees, invite relatives and friends, but do not show off or compete in overspending. As it turns out, we waste an incredible amount of food - an estimated 27 percent of food available for consumption - and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants, in cafeterias, and in our very own kitchens. That breaks down to about a pound of food for every American, wasted every single day. If we can cut down our calories, why not cut down our carbon production?
We are created to take care of the Earth not to take over it and ruin it. Make your Ramadan “green” by reducing your carbon footprint. Calculate your footprint in the beginning of the month and set realistic goals to shrink it by the end of the month? Global warming can be dampened by replacing your light bulbs by LED, using high efficiency appliances and reducing fossil fuel consumption. Invest in fuel-efficient or electric vehicle and carpool to the Masjid.

6. Laziness and oversleeping.

Fasting is not meant to disrupt work or change your circadian rhythm. Some people use fasting for not working, and they don’t feel motivated to perform their daily routines. Some countries slow down significantly during Ramadan. That is not consistent with the tradition of the Prophet. Don’t change your work schedule. Pray Taraweeh after Iftar, and sleep for six to seven hours at night. Beware of sleep deprivation or oversleeping. Both are harmful. A power nap in the afternoon is a good idea, but don’t nap more than 30 minutes unless you are sleep deprived. The five calls for ritualistic prayer remind Muslims to get up early in the day and succeed in work, so get busy working even if you are fasting.
Wasting time by watching TV, playing video games, and browsing social media. Social media has became the new addiction. We spend an average of four-and-a-half hours every day watching TV. Adults in the United States devote about 10 hours and 39 minutes each day to consume media, including our tablets, smartphones, personal computers, multimedia devices, video games, radios, DVDs, DVRs and TVs.
In Muslim-majority countries, TV channels compete in showing their best programs during Ramadan. There is nothing wrong in watching media in moderation. But time is precious. If people are spending over 50 hours a week with media for entertainment purposes, then there's really no time left for any of the other things we value. Too much screen time and other inactive behaviors have also been linked to the risk of obesity, especially in children. So this Ramadan, throw out those extra screens, and don't put one in your bedroom. Learn to shut down the iPads and smartphones before you go to sleep and limit the use. Read one or two books. It is much more rewarding.

7. Forgetting the poor.

Ramadan is not an excuse for inviting the wealthy while ignoring the poor. One of the main purposes of fasting is to identify with those who don’t have the means to have three meals or even one meal daily. One billion people on earth suffer from hunger and about 50 million people in the US suffer from food insecurity- a five-fold jump since the late 1960s. When you plan Iftars, remember to invite those who are usually forgotten. Invite the less privileged among your family members, neighbors, and the refugees. Volunteer to feed the homeless in your city's soup kitchens. Make a plan to visit a few refugee families in Ramadan. There are 18,000 Syrian refugees who were resettled among us in the past two years, among them about 150 families in the Chicago area. Iftar is for the family to eat together, and Taraweeh is for the community to come together.

8. Getting angry, insulting others and losing control.

Self-control is one of the main goals of fasting. It is probably a very effective method to sharpen our tools and increase our resilience. By improving our resilience, we are better equipped to deal with stress.
That is why fasting was prescribed and practiced in many faith traditions. Fasting should make us humble, down to earth, kind, and compassionate. Ramadan should teach us patience and tolerance when we are insulted or provoked. It is not an excuse for venting or violence. If you have a problem with anger, fasting might be one of the tools to manage it. Like other communities, Muslims are not immune from domestic violence. If you have a problem with domestic violence, Ramadan may be the best time to address this disease and seek professional help. There are many resources in the community. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said “Whoever dignified women, he is dignified and whoever insulted them, he is not”.

9. Reading of the Quran without understanding.

Ramadan is called the month of the Quran, the Divine Book that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, over 23 years. The Quran was rehearsed in totality by the Prophet in the month of Ramadan in the last year before he died. Muslims dedicate time every day for reading the Quran. They listen to it in the Taraweeh nightly prayers after breaking the fast. They are instructed to reflect on and ponder about its verses.
Like other Divine texts, it has to be comprehended before it can be implemented. Recent trends in Masjids and Islamic schools are to focus on recitation and memorization of the Quran at the expense of proper knowledge. Proper understanding requires mastery of the Arabic language, its grammar and metaphors, the reasons and purposes of certain verses, their historical context and order, how the Prophet and his Companions reacted to the revelation, and how they applied it in their lives. It is also important to know what is abrogated and what is not, what is general and what is specific, or what is termed the sciences of Quran.
The abhorrent interpretation of certain verses of the Quran by ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and other violent groups, stem from the disconnection between the understanding of the text and its context. These groups, not unlike the Kharijites hundreds of years before them, apply certain texts in situations that do not meet the scholarly understanding of the text. Their extremist ideology, targeting the youth, the new converts, and the vulnerable, is very harmful to Islam and to humanity. It masquerades itself as credible Islamic ideology, but it is not.
Spend time in Ramadan with your children and discuss with them some of these difficult issues. Listen to them carefully and don’t disregard their concerns. Young Muslims are increasingly bullied in schools and are under intense pressure by their peers and the media. They have to feel comfortable to speak freely to their families. Ask local scholars if you are faced with difficult questions.
We must raise the bar this Ramadan and make it a month of positive behavioral and communal change. Quitting eating and drinking from dawn to dusk is only the first step, but what follows is even more significant. -

Our Children and Quran in Ramadan - II

Parents will also receive the greatest reward:
With regard to you, dear fathers and mothers, you will certainly receive a great reward and endless happiness if your child memorizes the Quran. The parents’ efforts to make their child memorize the Quran will not be in vain. Listen to the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) who says:
“The Quran will come on the Day of Judgment like a pale man saying to its companion, “Do you recognize me? I am the one who made you stay up at night and made you thirsty during the day. Today every merchant is after his merchandise and today I am for you behind every merchant.” Then he will be given dominion in his right hand and eternity in his left, and a crown of dignity will be placed upon his head, and his parents will be clothed with garments which far surpass everything to be found in this world. They will say, “O Lord, how did we earn this.” It will be said to them, “Because you taught your child the Quran.” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
Advice of the experts:
Ibn Khaladoon referred in his Al-Muqaddimah to the importance of teaching the Quran to children. He also confirmed that teaching the Quran is the foundation of teaching the other curricula in Islamic countries, because it is one of the greatest rites of Islam not to mention that it strengthens the creed and deepens faith.
Imaam Al-Ghazzaali  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him recommended in his book “Ihyaa’ ‘Uloom Ad-Deen”, that “The child should be first taught the Noble Quran, then Hadeeths (narrations), then stories of the righteous people, and then some religious rulings.”
In his book “Tarbiyat Al-Awlaad fi Al-Islam”, Dr. ‘Abdullaah Naasih ‘Ulwaan said, "Our vigilant righteous predecessors used to send their children to educators to teach them the Quran before anything else. That is because this helps them master classic Arabic and purify their hearts and souls, in addition to deepening faith in their souls."
The beginning should be at home:
Dear caregiver, you have a great role to play in helping your child memorize the Quran as proved by experience. One of the memorizers of Quran refers to the great role of his family saying, "My parents drew my attention to the importance of memorizing the Quran, as they used to implant the love for Quran in my heart and encourage me to memorize it. They also used to refer to some relatives and young men in the neighborhood who memorized the Quran and excelled in their studies. They also told me many stories of some relatives who succeeded in their practical life due to memorizing the Quran."
Without this encouragement, the child will fail to memorize the Book of Allah The Almighty. Listen to this young man whose family did not pay attention to teaching him the Quran during his early childhood expressing his suffering, saying, "Unfortunately, no one directed me to the importance of memorizing the Quran during my early childhood; therefore, I faced great difficulty in memorizing it after graduation.
Nevertheless, I will continue by the Permission of Allah The Almighty. I have now memorized five Ajzaa’ (plural of Juz’) of the Quran, and I will keep up, Allah willing. "
Learning at an early age is like engraving in stone:
Some parents may say that their children are still young and do not understand anything. However, let me say to them that despite difficulty in memorizing at an early age, once the child memorizes something at this age, it will be engraven in his mind like engravings on a stone. It will be difficult, but it will last for a long time.
Teaching the Quran to the children since early childhood is recommended by experts in this field. Dr. Al-Ma‘saraawi, the Head of the Egyptian Council of Quran, says, "A child should start memorizing the Quran at the age of three or four to be able to finish it at the age of eight. During this period, his mind is usually free from all cares and worries, which facilitates memorization of the Quran and it stays in his mind for the rest of his life."
With regard to the difficulties that we face in the process of memorizing the Quran, a female teacher of the Quran said,
The most important difficulty is the weakness of the children’s abilities and their failure to achieve the desired progress in addition to dyslexia. Nevertheless, I know the best methods that suit each child and achieve the best results. In fact, children are very different, some of them do not memorize without beating, while others only need little instruction. It is natural to maintain a strong connection with the parents to encourage them to take care of their children and follow up their progress with them.
Sometimes, I meet parents to coordinate with them regarding what they should do.
Another female Quran teacher says,
One of the major problems is that children want to play all the time and do not realize the greatness of what they are doing. However, I try to overcome this problem through encouragement and prizes (chocolate and so on) to reward excellent children. Encouraging words also have great influence. For example, when a child memorizes well I supplicate for him saying, “May Allah bless you” or, “May Allah make you like the great Companions, or like the people of the Quran who are the close servants of Allah The Almighty.”
When the children hear these words, I feel as if light flows from their faces. I do not like beating. Instead, I punish the children who do not memorize through showing anger for a while.
At the end, here are some practical steps that will help you put your child on the right track:
• Sit with your child everyday to read a page from the Quran using the repetition method, namely, you read and ask him to repeat after you. The imitation method is the best way to teach your child the correct pronunciation of the Quran.
• Bring a tape or a CD for your child that contains the chapter that you want your child to memorize recited by a good reciter.
• Search for a teacher to teach him the Quran as of this Ramadan. This is better, because parents may get busy, while the teacher will be dedicated to this purpose.
• Follow-up is very important and you should always ask the teacher about your child’s progress. Reward your child with a present or some sweets whenever he achieves progress, but never forget a good word.
We ask Allah The Exalted to make our children from the people of the Quran and to make them the coolness of our eyes in this world and the Hereafter.

Our Children and the Quran in Ramadan - I

Facts and news:
The first piece of news: An eleven-year-old boy from the Croatian capital Zagreb memorized the whole Quran. A Zagreb-based newspaper said that the child, who is still at the primary school, has memorized the whole Quran in five years and that he used to spend four hours a day in memorization of the Quran.
The second piece of news: A child memorized the Quran even before learning how to read or write and even before understanding its meanings. So, he memorized the whole Quran, Al-Arba‘een An-Nawawiyyah, Tuhfat Al-Atfaal and 30 poetic verses of Al-Jazariyyah before the age of nine and that was the result of his family’s keenness on teaching him and his good relation with his teachers.
My dear caregiver, these facts and news are about Muslim children from all over the world. Allah The Almighty raised the ranks of those children and rewarded their parents greatly because their children memorized the Quran. Would you not want your child to be like those children? Would you not like to receive the reward of Allah The Almighty when your child memorizes the Quran?
Dear caregiver, we are now in the month of Ramadan, when Allah The Almighty eases worship to be a starting point for all of us. During this blessed month, we should get our children accustomed to learning the Quran and begin with memorization of the Book of Allah The Almighty. Therefore, I will shed light on the virtue of memorizing the Quran and the correct methods that we should use in teaching it to our children.
He has definitely won:
Dear caregiver, let us take a quick tour through the prophetic Hadeeths (narrations) to know the great reward, sublime status and enormous benefits that your child will receive when he learns and memorizes the Noble Quran.
The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said, “The nobles of my Ummah (nation) are the carriers of the Quran (the ones who memorize it by heart) and the people of the night (the ones who observe night vigilance in worship).” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
Your child will have a noble status among people, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention )said, “Verily, Allah elevates some people with this book (i.e. the Qur'an) and abases others with it.” [Muslim]
However, if learning the Quran had no reward but being among the people of Allah The Almighty, it would have been enough. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said:“Indeed, Allah The exalted has people from among mankind” The companions asked, “Who are those people?” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) answered: “The people of the Quran; they are the people of Allah and His elite…” ‎ [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
To those who are keen on making their children memorize the Quran, let me give you the following glad tidings: You should know that the person who memorizes the Quran will not only be successful in this world, but he will be also successful in the Hereafter. Let us listen to a young woman speaking about her experiment in memorizing the Quran,
The Quran has been my road to guidance, because it is the best guide for Man in all life affairs including knowledge, dealings and manners. I felt the influence of memorization of the Quran on my whole life. My grades before memorization were “pass” and “good”, but after memorizing the Quran, I got “very good” and “excellent”. Of course, all of this is a result of the blessing of the Quran.
As for the reward of your child in the Hereafter, Allah The Almighty and His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) promise the people of the Quran a special status on the Day of Judgment to the extent that everyone else will wish to be like them. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “It will be said to the companion of the Qur'an on the Day of Judgment: `Recite and ascend [in ranks] as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last verse you recite.”[Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
Furthermore, the Quran will intercede for your child on the Day of Judgment, when everyone will be in need of a single good deed, not to mention the whole Quran. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) said: “On the Day of Judgment, the Quran will petition Allah to cloak the companion of the Quran with garments of honor and respect. A crown of honor will then be placed on his head. The Quran will then petition Allah to give him more. Allah The Almighty will then give him the garment of honor. The Quran will then petition Allah to shower His pleasure on Him. Allah will then become pleased with him.” [Al-Albaani: Hasan]
Moreover, we are now in the blessed month of Ramadan, which is the month of the Quran, as Allah The Exalted Says (what means): {The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion.} [Quran 2:185]
Hence, this is a month during which Allah The Almighty eases recitation and memorization of the Quran.