The Story of the Night Journey

29 Juli 2008

by Sheikh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakfuri

The last days of the Makkah phase in the Prophet's life were noted for alternate fortunes. However, glimpses of propitious lights were looming on the distant horizon, ultimately materialized in the event of the Prophet's Night Journey (Al-Israa') to Jerusalem and then Ascension (Mi`raj) through the spheres of the heavens.

The exact date of this great event is still controversial:

* Some scholars, including Imam At-Tabari, are of the opinion that the Night Journey occurred in the same year the Prophet received the first revelation.

* Imams An-Nawawi and Al-Qurtubi prefer the opinion that it occurred five years after the Prophet's mission.

* Another opinion sets Rajab 27, 10 years after the Prophet embarked on his great mission as the exact date of the event.

* Still, other scholars are in favor of dates ranging between 12 to 16 months prior to the Prophet's migration to Madinah.

The first three opinions were rejected by some scholars on the basis that it is established that the obligatory Prayer was instituted on the night of Al-Israa' and that such institution had not occurred during the lifetime of Khadijah, the Prophet's wife, who passed away in Ramadan, 10 years after the Prophet had started his noble mission.

As for the other opinion, I [Al-Mubarakfuri] did not find any proof to strengthen it. However, the context of Surat Al-Israa' implies that it was revealed in a late time during the Makkah phase.

The scholars of Hadith reported the details of the Night of Al-Israa'. Here I give a summary of the Night's events:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was carried in body from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on a mount called Al-Buraq in the company of Angel Gabriel. There Prophet Muhammad led all the other prophets in prayer.

After that Gabriel took him to the heavens. When they reached the first heaven Gabriel asked the guardian angel to open the first heaven's door. It was opened and Prophet Muhammad saw Adam, the progenitor of humankind. The Prophet saluted him. Adam welcomed him and expressed his faith in Muhammad's prophethood. The Prophet saw on the right side of Adam the souls of those who will be happy in the hereafter and saw the souls of the doomed ones on his left.

Gabriel then ascended with the Prophet to the second heaven and asked for opening the gate. There the Prophet saw and saluted Prophets Yahya (John) and `Isa (Jesus). They returned the salutation, welcomed him, and expressed their faith in his prophethood.

The same happened in each heaven: In the third heaven, the Prophet saw Prophet Yusuf (Joseph); in the fourth, Prophet Idris (Enoch); in the fifth, Prophet Harun (Aaron); in the sixth, Prophet Musa (Moses); and in the seventh, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), peace and blessings be upon them all.

When Prophet Muhammad left Prophet Musa (peace and blessings be upon both of them) in the sixth heaven, Prophet Musa began to weep. Asked about the reason, he answered that though Muhammad was sent after him as a messenger, those who will enter Paradise from Muhammad's nation are greater in number than those from Musa's nation.

The Prophet then was carried to Sidrat Al-Muntaha (Arabic for "the remotest Lote-tree") and was shown Al-Bait Al-Ma`mur (Arabic for "the much-frequented house") which is attended daily by 70,000 angels; the angels who attend it never leave it until the Day of Resurrection.
He was then presented to the Divine Presence getting at the closest possible nearness. There Almighty Allah ordained 50 daily prayers for him.

On his way back, he told Prophet Musa that his followers had been enjoined to pray 50 times a day. Prophet Musa advised him to ask Allah to reduce the number because the Muslim Ummah would not bear performing such a number of prayers. The Prophet turned to Gabriel as if asking his counsel. Gabriel nodded, "Yes, if you desire," and ascended with him to Almighty Allah. Then Almighty Allah made a reduction of 10 prayers. The Prophet then descended and reported that to Musa, who again urged him to request a further reduction.

The Prophet once more begged Allah to reduce the number further. He went again and again to Almighty Allah at the suggestion of Musa till the prayers were reduced to five only. Again, Musa asked him to implore for more reduction, but the Prophet said, "I feel embarrassed (of repeatedly asking my Lord to reduce the number of daily prayers.) I accept and resign to His Will." When the Prophet went farther, a caller was heard saying: "I have imposed My (Allah's) ordinance and alleviated the burden of My servants."

The Night Journey raised a good deal of stir among people, and the skeptical audience plied Muhammad with all sorts of questions. The disbelievers found it a suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their creed. They pestered the Prophet with questions as to the description of the Mosque at Jerusalem, where he had never gone before, and to their astonishment, the Prophet's replies furnished the most accurate information about it. However, this increased in them nothing but flight from Islam, and they accepted nothing but disbelief.

For true Muslims, however, there was nothing unusual about the Night Journey. Almighty Allah, Who is powerful enough to have created the heavens and the earth, is surely powerful enough to take His Messenger beyond the heavens and show him firsthand those signs of His that are inaccessible to people otherwise.

This believing attitude was epitomized by Abu Bakr whom the disbelievers challenged on account of this event to believe what the Prophet said, and he readily said, "Yes, I do verify it." It is reported that this answer is what earned him the famous title of As-Siddiq (Arabic for "the verifier of the truth").


* Abridged and adapted from the author's The Sealed Nectar.

Sheikh Safiur Rahman Al-Mubarakfuri was born and received his education in India. He taught jurisprudence and Hadith in the Salafi University and worked as the editor in chief of its magazine Muhaddith. He worked in the Sunnah Center affiliated with the Islamic University in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. He authored a number of books, including Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) which was honored by the World Muslim League with the first prize in a contest about the Prophet's biography.

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Lifting the Veil Using a 'Bluetooth Burqa'

28 Juli 2008

Can a burqa be sexy? A Berlin-based artist has invented a digitally-enabled robe that will send an image of a woman's face -- or anything else -- via Bluetooth.

A burqa may not be the flirtiest garment ever invented for women. The highly modest head-to-toe robe even shrouds the eyes, so for centuries it's been difficult for women wearing them to send suggestive signals to men.

But now a German designer has debuted a digitally-enabled burqa that can broadcast a photo of the wearer to nearby mobile phones. Markus Kison calls it the "CharmingBurka," and says it isn't forbidden by Islamic law.

A model demonstrated a prototype of Kison's garment at the Seamless 2008 design and fashion show in Boston, a high-tech fashion event run with support from the Masschusetts Institute of Technology.

Kison says the burqa has a "digital layer" that incorporates a Bluetooth antenna, which lets women "decide for themselves where they want to position themselves virtually." Nearby mobile phones that also use Bluetooth will light up with any small file a woman chooses to broadcast as her identity -- a photo, a cartoon, a text file or even a sound clip.

Kison's broadcast technology started as a marketing tool; the so-called "Bluebot" system is meant to send digital advertisements to passing phones. But Kison's new design turns a burqa into a walking MySpace page.

A broadcasting burqa may not be explicitly forbidden by Islamic law -- since most interpreters of Shariah have never imagined such a thing -- but certain Islamic governments have tried to clamp down on electronic flirting. By 2002 it was so common for teenagers in Saudi Arabia to send each other pictures of themselves by phone that an import ban was imposed on camera phones. But demand was so high that the law was lifted two years later.


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12 Tips For Women Weight Training

25 Juli 2008

"Women become disabled. We get osteoporosis, diabetes, and obesity largely because we're losing this muscle," Miriam Nelson, an associate professor of nutrition at Tufts University, told ABCNEWS' John McKenzie But recent research assures women that they need not give in to aging. Pumping iron is now a proven prescription A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that post-menopausal women can reduce their body fat, increase muscle mass, build up their bones, and improve their balance by lifting moderately heavy weights on a regular basis "Biologically, these women were about 20 years younger then they were at the start of the year," says Nelson, expert and lead author of the study Experts say the benefits of weight training are now indisputable, to both prevent the effects ofaging in pre-menopausal women and reverse the effects of aging in post-menopausal women. To find out how women can get the most out of weight-training sessions, asked three exercise experts Johanna Hoffman, an exercise physiologist at the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center in Lutherville, Md.; Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minn., and a specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation; and Dr. Paul D. Thompson, director of preventive cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn their top training tips.

Here are their top 12 tips:

1) Set a Goal. Decide what you want to get out of your workout. Are you after Jennifer Aniston's arms or a job with World Wrestling Entertainment? Are you lifting weights to improve function, health, appearance, or sports performance? Once this has been determined, you can better tailor your routine, choosing exercises that will target the proper muscles

2) Be Consistent. Once you commit to weight training, stick with it. True, a long day at work doesn't provide much inspiration, but resist the urge to skip sessions. "If you can't do a lot, do a little," recommends Thompson. "Something is better than nothing."

3) Learn Proper Form and Technique. "Exercise is like medicine," says Laskowski, "it's based on science." If you have no experience with weights, experts recommend investing in a couple of sessions with a personal trainer. One thing to keep in mind is to avoid hyper-extending or locking out any joints. This allows the muscle to relax, which is counterproductive. Also, be sure that your whole body is properly aligned in order to protect the lower back

4) Get Tired. While many theories exist on the best ways to build muscle, recent research indicates that a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle just as efficiently as three sets of the same exercise good news for people trying to squeeze weight lifting into a busy schedule. Laskowski recommends a single set of exercises using a weight heavy enough to tire the muscles after a dozen repetitions. "When you work a muscle to fatigue, you are releasing factors that build endurance and strength," adds Hoffman

5) Muscles Are Sexy. Many women avoid weight lifting because they are afraid of looking too buff and muscular, opting instead for the treadmill or the elliptical machine to burn calories. In truth, weight training converts fat into lean muscle. Lean muscle burns more calories, aiding in weight loss. "It's like having a V-8 engine instead of a 4-cylinder. You have a bigger engine to burn more calories because it takes calories to keep that engine running," explains Laskowski

6) Vary Your Exercises."You can fall in love with your trainer but don't fall in love with any one exercise," says Thompson. If you repeat the same exercise, you will overdo a particular muscle group. Everyone undoubtedly has a particular asset they may want to develop, but don't overdo it. Use a full variety of exercises, machines and resistances. Try lifting free weights, water, household items, and even your own body weight. Changing it up will shock the muscles, challenging them to lift the weight

7) Move Slowly. Don't cheat by racing through your exercises. Remember, it only takes one set so be sure to get the most out of your time in the gym. Take one to two seconds to contract the muscle, hold the contraction for half a second, and then lengthen the release to three or four seconds. You are 20 percent to 40 percent stronger on the way down so following this time breakdown will maximize strength gain

8) Work Balanced Muscles Groups. People generally work out only what they can see, says Laskowski, "it's as if they have a 'Cadillac in the front, and a Volkswagen in the back.'" But too much time devoted to one side may create posture problems. Since, every muscle has an opposing muscle, be sure to work the entire pair. For example, follow stomach crunches with back extensions and bicep curls with tricep kickbacks

9) Find Female-Focused Exercises. Women should pay particular attention to building strength in the upper back and shoulders. This will protect against poor posture later in life, a common problem related to osteoporosis. And don't neglect your lower body females are five to six times more likely to suffer a knee ligament tear. To protect against knee injury, focus on building the hamstring muscles

10) Choose a Get-Buff Buddy. A lifting partner is helpful not only for spotting but for motivation as well. When your arms are feeling like Jell-O and you think you've got nothing left to give, a little encouragement from a friend may be all you need to push out that final rep

11) Drink Caffeine Before Lifting. Although optional, a little caffeine may give you an extra boost of energy to lift after a long day. You may be surprised by the effects a cup of coffee or can of soda can have on your performance

12) Be Patient. "Rome wasn't built in a day; you won't be either," says Thompson. It takes time to incorporate the benefits of weight lifting. Changes in muscle fiber won't show until four to six weeks, but in the meantime, your muscles are learning how to act more efficiently.

Taken From:

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Women and Weights

by Karen Sessions

So ladies, what can weight training do for you? Weight training will give you near-perfect symmetry and put curves and definition in all the right places. Muscle is firm and toned, not soft and mushy. It gives you strength, health, vitality and a beautiful body. Also, weight training will decrease your chance of injuries in everyday life and recreational activities. Weight training improves work, sleep, endurance, sex and many other areas of your life.

Ladies Training

Training for ladies shouldn't differ that much from men's training. We have the same number of muscles and they contact in the same fashion. The only difference between men and women are hormones. Men naturally have higher levels of testosterone, a muscle-building hormone, while women are constantly fighting the estrogen issue, a fat storing hormone. Now I'm not saying that just because you are female and have higher levels of estrogen you are doomed to gain weight. What I'm saying is that we can use what we have to our advantage. Regular weight training will build lean body mass. The more body lean body mass you acquire, the higher you raise your metabolism. An increased metabolism results in more calories burned per minute. Sounds interesting? Read on....

Muscle vs. Fat

A statement I hear a lot is that muscle weighs more than fat. The fact of the matter is that a pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same, a pound. A pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat does. Muscle allows you to eat more food without getting fat because muscle is the only body material that is metabolically active. Once you put muscle on your body you will burn an additional twenty to thirty calories an hour. Bodybuilders actually burn fifty to seventy-five additional calories per hour.

Muscle Turns to Fat?

A misconception that I hear many women saying is that they don't want to workout because if they stop the muscle will turn to fat. Now, let's analyze this statement. People begin resistance training program in order to rid the body of fat, not to gain it. Muscle can't turn into fat any more than fat can turn to muscle. Muscle (metabolically active) and fat (metabolically inactive) are two completely different tissues responsible for their own functions. Just as your heart and liver are two different organs performing completely different functions, the same goes for muscle and fat. Now I ask you, can your heart turn into your liver, or vise versa? If there were any truth to the above statement there would be a lot of people out there with great muscle potential, if you catch my drift.

An explanation to the above myth is that some bodybuilders do gain extra weight off-season in preparation for the up coming competitive season. Many veterans of bodybuilding gain weight when they get older or retire, how does that differ from the average American? There is a biological reason for the weight gain. The metabolism slows down as we age, meaning the body needs fewer calories per day to maintain itself. The downfall is that most people, including bodybuilders, don't reduce their caloric intake to compensate for this slowdown and the end result is fat gain.

Another explanation is that bodybuilders, in hard training, develop enormous appetites and need the extra calories for muscle growth and repair. If the intake stays the same when training volume is reduced or ceased, the unburned calories get stored as fat; again, this is no different than the average American.

Stop Making Excuses!

Simply put, stop making excuses. Not exercising is far more harmful to your body, image, and health than working out. Exercising and nutrition is a learned lifestyle, if you are not consistent with it you will decrease muscle and increase fat, but muscle definitely will never turn into fat.

Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She embarked on weight training to overcome an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa in its early stages. She overcame the eating disorder, received her personal training certificate, competed in many local bodybuilding contests, and qualified for Nationals. Since then she’s went on to write six e-books (weight loss, female bodybuilding, contest preparation, leg training, figure/fitness secrets, and cellulite removal). She writes articles for several fitness websites, as well as her own,, and also distributes a monthly e-newsletter. She has a very active and lively forum, filled with positive and supportive people with informative content. Karen’s sole goal is to educate others and help them apply that knowledge.


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How to Wear an Abaya or Islamic Clothing

24 Juli 2008

Some Muslim women wear an abaya as a form of hijab or Islamic dress. In the United Arab Emirates an abaya is the national form of dress for women, but this does not mean that every Muslim woman everywhere in the world needs to wear one, or that every female traveller to an Islamic area is required to wear one either. If you are travelling to Muslim nations or regions, plan ahead to find out about local dress and what will be expected of you as a tourist. Wearing an abaya, jilbab, niqab and headscarf or shawl are all Islamic clothing options for women in different areas.

Wearing an Abaya

An abaya is a type of outerwear that some Muslim women wear over their clothes. Most abayat are black, though some may be of different colours and even the black garments may have embroidery or artwork on them. Abayat are really more like long caftans than anything else, and come with headpieces that cover the hair. For most abayat, the only things left uncovered on a woman’s body are the face, feet and hands. Some women will also wear gloves to cover their hands and there are options for covering the face as well. An abaya may go by other names as well, including 'chador' in Iran. Abayat can be bought in Muslim areas or online, and female shop assistants and local women are usually more than happy to help women unfamiliar with abayat to put them on correctly and understand when and where they are needed.

Wearing a Jilbab

A jilbab is another form of outerwear that some Muslim women wear over their clothes. Jalabib are more like long coats than caftans, and in some areas may be called manteau because they resemble mantles. Most jalabib are worn with a headscarf to keep the hair covered and again leave only the face, hands and feet uncovered. But again, gloves and a face covering can also be worn to make a jilbab cover more of a woman’s body.

Wearing a Niqab

A niqab is a veil that a Muslim woman may wear over her face in addition to an abaya or a jilbab. Wearing a niqab is popular in the Persian Gulf as well as in North Africa and some parts of Southeast Asia. In the West, the terms 'niqab' and 'burqa' are often used interchangeably though they are not technically the same garment (a burqa is one outer garment that falls over the entire body and leaves only a covered space for the eyes).

Two types of niqab that are popular around the world are the half-niqab, which leaves the eyes and forehead uncovered, and the full or 'gulf-style' niqab which consists of two bands and leaves only the eyes open. As covering the face is usually a new experience for Western women, wearing a niqab can be awkward at first so practice is recommended.

Wearing a Headscarf or Shawl

Around the world a headscarf or shawl is usually the most commonly identified form of Islamic clothing found on women. Many tourists feel most comfortable donning a headscarf or shawl in Muslim areas, and the variety of options means that most women can make the head covering as much a fashion statement as a religious requirement. The purpose of such head coverings is to ensure that hair, neck and ears are covered, but using pretty, patterned scarves often help women match their head coverings to their outfits and feel more comfortable and confident.

Wearing an abaya or other form of Islamic clothing may make women feel more comfortable as they travel through Muslim areas and may be required by law in some Muslim nations. Women interested in learning more about Islamic clothing should speak with Muslim women or contact a local Muslim cultural centre.


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Smoking Haram - Why?

22 Juli 2008

The declaration that "There is no God Worthy of being worshipped except Allah & that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah", demands that the Muslim accepts the Decrees set by Allah and by His Messenger - Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)

Islam is a Revelation from Allah with a complete code of life. It tells what is good and what is evil: Allah says in the Holy Quran: And We have shown him (man) the two ways (good and evil). (Quran 90/10)

He allows them all that is good and lawful, and prohibits them as unlawful all that is evil (things, deeds, beliefs, persons, foods, drinks, etc.). (Quran 7/157)
So, is smoking (cigarettes, pipes, etc.) evil or not? Let us examine its effects:

* Smoking is a killer: causes lung-cancer, lung-tuberculosis and heart diseases. Allah says: And do not kill yourselves. (Quran 4/29) He also says: And do not throw yourselves into destruction. (Quran 2/195)

These verses are sufficient to make smoking Haram.

* Smoking is a wasting of wealth. Allah says: ...But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift, Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the devils, and the Devil (Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord. (Quran 17/26-27)
* The smoker is unjust to himself as well as his family by burning away his money and his chest!
* The smoker not only causes harm to himself, he/she also inflicts harms upon others around him/her.The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm." (Saheeh Al-Jami 7517)
* The smokers cause the spread of evil; they smoke openly and thus encourage others to do the same.
* The smokers dislike fasting and praying because they become impatient. They want to go for the next "round". The smoker becomes like an edict.
* The smoker smells bad! His car, home, clothes etc. carry the bad smell too.

From the above, it is clear that smoking is evil and thus it is Haram (unlawful). If you are under any kind of stress, then turn to Allah, read the Holy Quran, and be with non-smokers. Seek Allah's help and don’t be enslaved to something that burns you and your money.

by: Dr. Saleh As-Saleh

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Why Do We Pray?

After a long and hectic day at work, how difficult it is for a tired person to go out to the mosque and concentrate on his prayers to Allah, the Almighty. Snuggled up in a warm and cozy bed, how difficult it is to get up at the call of the Muazzin: "Come to prayer! Come to success!"

The famous doctor and philosopher, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), recalls such a moment in his life. One cold and icy night, he and his slave were resting at an inn in a remote part of Khuraasaan. During the night, he felt thirsty, so he called to his slave to bring him some water. The slave had no desire to leave his warm bed, so he pretended not to hear Ibn Sina’s call. But finally, after repeated calls, he reluctantly got up and went to fetch the water. A little while later, the melodious sound of the azaan (call to prayer) filled the air. Ibn Sina began to think about the person calling the people to prayer. "My slave, Abdullah, he mused, has always respected me and admired me. He seizes any opportunity to lavish praise and affection on me, but tonight he preferred his own comfort to my needs. On the other hand, look at this Persian slave of Allah: He left his warm bed to go out into the chilly night, he made ablution in the icy water of the stream, and then he ascended the high minaret of the mosque to glorify Him Whom he truly serves: "I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." Ibn Sina records: "I learned the essence of true love, that love which results in complete obedience." The love of Allah demands total and unconditional obedience. Allah, the Almighty says: ( Say [oh, Muhammad!]: "If you love Allah, follow me: Allah will forgive you your sins, for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful). (Quran: 3/31)

Prayer: A Cry of the Inner Soul

His arrogance and pride have often led man to behave as an oppressor and a tyrant. Some men have been carried away by their own self-importance that they have even claimed divinity. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, was among those who announced: "I am your supreme Lord!" With his sense of greatness and pride, Pharaoh subjugated the Israelites and made their lives wretched and miserable.

But is man really as strong and great as his ego tells him? The Holy Quran tells us the reality of man’s nature: (It is Allah Who created you in a state of weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then after strength, gave you weakness and a hoary head: He creates what He wills, and He is the All-knowing, the All-powerful) (Quran: 30/54)

Weakness in the beginning and weakness in the end: This is the essence of man. He is so weak and helpless at birth that his entire existence depends on his parents and his family. If he were to be abandoned in these first crucial years, he could not survive on his own. He needs a gentle and loving hand, not only in his infancy, but in his childhood and even in his teenage years. As this child enters the years of youth and independence, he begins to take control of his own life. He looks with pride at his strong physique, his handsome features and his many talents. He begins to despise those of less abilities, even scorning his parents, who exhausted their own health to nurture him. He becomes unjust and cruel, using his strength and vigor to dominate others. He thinks he is master, free to act as he wills. But does this youth, these good looks last forever? In only a few decades, he begins to lose his strength…his youth is replaced by old age. Weakness in the beginning, weakness in the end." The message is clear: The real Master is Allah. He Alone is Mighty, He Alone, is Great. He Alone is never tired, never needs rest, is never dependent upon anyone. Allahu Akbar! - Allah is the Greatest! In our everyday lives, we say a warm thank you for the small acts of kindness which others do for us. So what about thanking Allah, Who, in His infinite Mercy, has provided for every single one of our needs. Just observe the beauty and perfection of the earth around you and fall down in gratitude to your Lord.

Prayer: The Ascension for a Believer

After the Messenger of Allah was commissioned for Prophethood, the first thing he was commanded to do by Allah was to pray. The angel Jibreel came to him and a spring of water gushed out of the rocks in front of them. Jibreel then showed Allah’s Messenger how to make ablution. He then showed him how to offer prayers to Allah. He began to pray two Rakas (units) twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. He then went home and showed his wife Khadijah what he had learnt from the angel Jibreel u.

From that time, the Prophet never went through a day without praying. Just before his migration to Madinah, he was taken on a night journey to Jerusalem and then to the heavens (Miraaj). During this journey, Allah, the Almighty, ordered him to pray five times a day. This prayer was a gift given to every Believer to enable him to experience a spiritual ascension five times a day. The Prophet said: "The prayer is the Miraaj of the Believer."

It gives every Muslim the chance to communicate with his Lord. During each prayer, the Muslim recites Soorah Al-Fatiha: This recitation is not a dull monologue by the Believer, but Allah promises that it is a conversation between Him and the worshipper. The Messenger of Allah reported that Allah, the Almighty says: "When my slave says in his prayer: 'All praise is for Allah, the Lord of the worlds,' I say: 'My slave has praised Me' When he says: 'The Merciful, the Compassionate, Master of the Day of Judgment,' I say: 'My slave has glorified Me.' When he says: 'You Alone we worship and your Aid we seek,' I say: 'This is between Me and My slave.' When he says: 'Show us the Straight Path,' I say: 'This is for My slave, and I give My slave what he wants.'"

The Messenger of Allah once said: "Prayer is the pillar of religion." (Al-Baihaqi) He also informed us that Islam is built upon five pillars, the second being to establish prayer five times a day. (Al-Bukhaari) This makes the image very clear: Islam is like a building supported by five columns; remove just one column and the entire building weakens. In the same way, when a person stops praying, his faith becomes weak, and the mildest blows can cause it to crumble. The prayer is so very important that the Prophet said: "Verily, between man and polytheism and disbelief is abandoning prayer." (Muslim)

Allah says, concerning the plight of the disbelievers on the Day of Judgment, that they will be asked by the Believers: ("What led you into the Hell-fire?" They will say: 'We were not of those who prayed.') (Quran: 74/42-43). Allah also says: (Successful indeed are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers.) (Quran: 23/1-2), and: (And those who guard [strictly] their worship, such will be the honored ones in the Gardens [of Bliss]) (Quran: 70/34-35).

Allah has emphasized the need for humility and concentration in prayers. There is no doubt that Satan is the most bitter enemy of man; he always tries to disturb the Believer’s prayers. He (the worshipper) finds his mind suddenly engulfed with memories, problems, worries, work and his family… and he will often find himself wondering whether he has prayed three Rakas (units) or four. This is how Satan steals the prayer. Man was created only to worship Allah. He says: (I created not the Jinns and mankind except to worship me). (Quran: 51/56). Man is to live in this world as a worshipper of Allah and prayer is the best for of worship. On the Day of Judgment, man will have to answer for his deeds. Allah says: (Then shall you be questioned about the joy [you indulged in].) (Quran:102/8)

by: Dr. Suhaib Hasan

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Tips for a Happier Muslim Marriage

21 Juli 2008

by Muntaqima Abdur-Rashid

"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect" (30: 21).

I have listed some rules that may benefit those seeking an Islamic marriage, as well as, those who are already married. I do not pretend to be an expert of any kind. I have learned what I know through marrying at the early age of 18, just 9 months after embracing Islam. I muddled my way through much of my 14 years of marriage, and consider myself a graduate from the 'school of hard knocks'. The rules are:

1. Be conscious of your physical appearance.
No one was more conscious of this than the Prophet. His Sunnah reflects keen attention to personal hygiene and good grooming. He kept himself strong and muscular. Most likely the first aspect of you that attracted your mate was your appearance, so don't think that simply because you are married the task is over. You can't hide a weight problem under Thawbs' (dress) and long Khimars' (veils). Your mate knows. Be aware that you live in a society that places a high premium on physical appearance. It flaunts the shapely female and her muscular counterpart. Temptations that beckon non-Muslims beckon Muslims as well. Don 't allow your mate to get side-tracked by the likes of a Raquel Welch or an Arnold Schwarzenegger. Jog, join a gym, roller skate, swim and stay in shape. Insha' Allah, you will be more vibrant, more radiant, and more attractive to your mate.

2. Be aware of your role, but do not fall into role-playing.
Muslim spouses sometimes experience difficulties because they are trying to do things 'by the book' without giving due consideration to the conditions prevailing in their country. For example, most female converts are taught that the role of the Muslim woman is to be at home raising her children. Supposedly, it is the man who works outside the home to maintain the family. She may have read about Birth Control and assumed that it has no place for the Muslimah; yet, it is worth noting that the Prophet himself allowed coitus interruptus. If ideal Islamic conditions prevailed, there would be no reason for a sister to worry about her financial situation interfering with her right to bear children. However, without an Islamic society, needy Muslim families may have to resort to welfare and food stamps rather than Zakaah and Sadaqah. This creates a feeling of dependence and humiliation that can place extreme stress on a marriage. In this ease, it may be helpful for the Muslim couple to delay having children, for the wife to work while the children are young and until the couple 's financial situation improves. Islam gives you this flexibility. Don't be afraid or ashamed to use it.

3. Be a companion to your mate.
Try to show enthusiasm for your spouse's interests and hobbies. It is well-known that the Prophet would run races with 'Aisha. By all means try to involve your mate in your interests.

4. Be active in Islamic community life.
This will strengthen your commitment to Islam while providing you wish a wholesome social outlet. Encourage your spouse to engage in activities that promote Islam. Have dinners at your home for Muslims as well as non-Muslims, and don't neglect your relatives. These activities will indirectly enhance the quality of your marriage through widening your circle of activity and contacts.

5. Admit your mistakes and have a forgiving, generous attitude when your mate errs.
This country is a difficult place to live in. Most Muslims fall short of the Islamic ideal. Contradictions abound. Be quick to admit your shortcomings and work to amend them. Be understanding when your mate does not live up to the Islamic ideal and gently try to motivate him or her in the right direction.

6. Have a sense of humour. Be able to chuckle at life's minor aggravations.

7. Be modest when around members of the opposite sex.
Do not try to test your spouse's affection by feigning interest in another. This will only cause dissension and bad feelings.

8. Share household duties. Brothers, take note.
This is especially important these days when women work outside the home. The Prophet always helped his wives around the house and even mended his own clothes. Who knows? You might find you actually like preparing the evening meal or taking care of junior so your wife can have the afternoon off. The Messenger of Allah said, "The most perfect of the believers in faith is the best of them in moral excellence, and the best of you are the kindest of you to their wives" (at-Tirmidhi).

9. Surprise each other with gifts.
Treat her to an evening out alone, away from the children. There are no words to describe the lift this can give to a marriage.

10. Communicate your feelings to one another, good and bad.
Tell him how handsome he looks. Where there is disagreement, have an open discussion. Don ' t collect red stamps. Nip it in the bud.

11. Live within your means.
Stay away from credit cards if you can. Sisters, take note. Don't envy the possessions of your friends, and belittle your husband because he can't provide them for you. Muslim couples will do well to stay away from ostentatious living. The Prophet did not live this way, neither should you.

12. Respect your mate's need for privacy.
A quiet time to oneself, either at home or away from home, each day can make a disagreeable person agreeable.

13. Don 't share personal problems with others.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but if you must discuss personal problems, make sure it is with a person in whom you have the utmost confidence. If you have a learned Muslim brother or sister in your community, seek him or her out first.

14. Be sensitive to your mate's moods.
If you want to share a personal achievement, don't do it when your spouse is 'down in the dumps '. Wait for the proper time.

You may be saying to yourself, "This is easier said than done". Well, you're right. A successful marriage doesn't just happen. It's not simply a matter of luck or finding the right person. It takes hard work and determination. It means being selfless and making mistakes. It means having vengeance on your mind but forgiveness in your heart. But, then, its perfection is "half of faith".

Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead righteous. Qur'an 25:74

"The whole world is an asset and the best asset is a good wife" (Muslim)

"And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect" (30: 21).


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Islam, Culture and Women

by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

How can anyone justify Islam's treatment of women, when it imprisons Afghans under blue shuttlecock burqas and makes Pakistani girls marry strangers against their will?

How can you respect a religion that forces women into polygamous marriages, mutilates their genitals, forbids them to drive cars and subjects them to the humiliation of "instant" divorce? In fact, none of these practices are Islamic at all.

Anyone wishing to understand Islam must first separate the religion from the cultural norms and style of a society. Female genital mutilation is still practised in certain pockets of Africa and Egypt, but viewed as an inconceivable horror by the vast majority of Muslims. Forced marriages may still take place in certain Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, but would be anathema to Muslim women from other backgrounds.

Indeed, Islam insists on the free consent of both bride and groom, so such marriages could even be deemed illegal under religious law.

A woman forbidden from driving a car in Riyadh will cheerfully take the wheel when abroad, confident that her country's bizarre law has nothing to do with Islam. Afghan women educated before the Taliban rule know that banning girls from school is forbidden in Islam, which encourages all Muslims to seek knowledge from cradle to grave, from every source possible.

The Koran is addressed to all Muslims, and for the most part it does not differentiate between male and female. Man and woman, it says, "were created of a single soul," and are moral equals in the sight of God. Women have the right to divorce, to inherit property, to conduct business and to have access to knowledge.

Since women are under all the same obligations and rules of conduct as the men, differences emerge most strongly when it comes to pregnancy, child-bearing and rearing, menstruation and, to a certain extent, clothing.

Some of the commands are alien to Western tradition. Requirements of ritual purity may seem to restrict a woman's access to religious life, but are viewed as concessions. During menstruation or postpartum bleeding, she may not pray the ritual salah or touch the Koran and she does not have to fast; nor does she need to fast while pregnant or nursing.

The veiling of Muslim women is a more complex issue. Certainly, the Koran requires them to behave and dress modestly - but these strictures apply equally to men. Only one verse refers to the veiling of women, stating that the Prophet's wives should be behind a hijab when his male guests converse with them.

Some modernists, however, claim that this does not apply to women in general, and that the language used does not carry the textual stipulation that makes a verse obligatory. In practice, most modern Muslim women appreciate attractive and graceful clothes, but avoid dressing provocatively.

What about polygamy, which the Koran endorses up to the limit of four wives per man? The Prophet, of course, lived at a time when continual warfare produced large numbers of widows, who were left with little or no provision for themselves and their children.

In these circumstances, polygamy was encouraged as an act of charity. Needless to say, the widows were not necessarily sexy young women, but usually mothers of up to six children, who came as part of the deal.

Polygamy is no longer common, for various good reasons. The Koran states that wives need to be treated fairly and equally - a difficult requirement even for a rich man. Moreover, if a husband wishes to take a second wife, he should not do so if the marriage will be to the detriment of the first.

Sexual intimacy outside marriage is forbidden in Islam, including sex before marriage, adultery or homosexual relationships. However, within marriage, sexual intimacy should be raised from the animal level to sadaqah (a form of worship) so that each considers the happiness and satisfaction of the other, rather than mere self-gratification.

Contrary to Christianity, Islam does not regard marriages as "made in heaven" or "till death do us part". They are contracts, with conditions. If either side breaks the conditions, divorce is not only allowed, but usually expected. Nevertheless, a hadith makes it clear that: "Of all the things God has allowed, divorce is the most disliked."

A Muslim has a genuine reason for divorce only if a spouse's behaviour goes against the sunnah of Islam - in other words, if he or she has become cruel, vindictive, abusive, unfaithful, neglectful, selfish, sexually abusive, tyrannical, perverted - and so on.

In good Islamic practice, before divorce can be contemplated, all possible efforts should be made to solve a couple's problems. After an intention to divorce is announced, there is a three-month period during which more attempts are made at reconciliation.

If, by the end of each month, the couple have resumed sexual intimacy, the divorce should not proceed. The three-month rule ensures that a woman cannot remarry until three menstrual cycles have passed - so, if she happens to be pregnant, the child will be supported and paternity will not be in dispute.

When Muslims die, strict laws govern the shares of property and money they may leave to others; daughters usually inherit less than sons, but this is because the men in a family are supposed to provide for the entire household.

Any money or property owned by women is theirs to keep, and they are not obliged to share it. Similarly, in marriage, a woman's salary is hers and cannot be appropriated by her husband unless she consents.

A good Muslim woman, for her part, should always be trustworthy and kind. She should strive to be cheerful and encouraging towards her husband and family, and keep their home free from anything harmful (haram covers all aspects of harm, including bad behaviour, abuse and forbidden foods).

Regardless of her skills or intelligence, she is expected to accept her man as the head of her household - she must, therefore, take care to marry a man she can respect, and whose wishes she can carry out with a clear conscience. However, when a man expects his wife to do anything contrary to the will of God - in other words, any nasty, selfish, dishonest or cruel action - she has the right to refuse him.

Her husband is not her master; a Muslim woman has only one Master, and that is God. If her husband does not represent God's will in the home, the marriage contract is broken.

What should one make of the verse in the Koran that allows a man to punish his wife physically? There are important provisos: he may do so only if her ill-will is wrecking the marriage - but then only after he has exhausted all attempts at verbal communication and tried sleeping in a separate bed.

However, the Prophet never hit a woman, child or old person, and was emphatic that those who did could hardly regard themselves as the best of Muslims. Moreover, he also stated that a man should never hit "one of God's handmaidens". Nor, it must be said, should wives beat their husbands or become inveterate nags.

Finally, there is the issue of giving witness. Although the Koran says nothing explicit, other Islamic sources suggest that a woman's testimony in court is worth only half of that of a man. This ruling, however, should be applied only in circumstances where a woman is uneducated and has led a very restricted life: a woman equally qualified to a man will carry the same weight as a witness.

So, does Islam oppress women?

While the spirit of Islam is clearly patriarchal, it regards men and women as moral equals. Moreover, although a man is technically the head of the household, Islam encourages matriarchy in the home.

Women may not be equal in the manner defined by Western feminists, but their core differences from men are acknowledged, and they have rights of their own that do not apply to men.


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Liberation by the Veil

by Sehmina Jaffer Chopra

Modesty and chastity, very important ideologies with Islam, are achieved by prescribing standards on behavior and the dress of a Muslim. A woman who adheres to the tenements of Islam is required to follow the dress code called Hijab, other synonymes are Veil, Purdah, or just Covering. It is an act of faith and establishes a Muslim's life with honor, respect and dignity. The Hijab is viewed as a liberation for women, in that the covering brings about "an aura of respect" (Takim, 22) and women are recognized as individuals who are admired for their mind and personality, "not for their beauty or lack of it" ( Mustafa ) and not as sex objects.

Contrary to popular belief, the covering of the Muslim woman is not oppression but a liberation from the shackles of male scrutiny and the standards of attractiveness. In Islam, a woman is free to be who she is inside, and immuned from being portrayed as sex symbol and lusted after. Islam exalts the status of a woman by commanding that she "enjoys equal rights to those of man in everything, she stands on an equal footing with man " (Nadvi, 11) and both share mutual rights and obligations in all aspects of life.

Men and women though equal are not identical, and eachcompliments the other in the different roles and functions that they are responsible to. " From an Islamic perspective, to view a woman as a sex symbol is to denigrate her. Islam believes that a woman is to be judged by her [virtuous] character and actions rather than by her looks or physical features" (Takim, 22). In the article, "My Body Is My Own Business", Ms. Naheed Mustafa , a young Canadian born and raised, university-educated Muslim woman writes, "The Quran [ which is the Holy Book for Muslims] teaches us that men and women are equal, that individuals should not be judged according to gender, beauty, wealth or privilege. The only thing that makes one person better than another is his or her character." She goes on to say, "In the Western world, the hijab has come to symbolize either forced silence or radical, unconscionable militancy. Actually, its neither. It is simply a woman's assertion that judgement of her physical person is to play no role whatsoever in social interaction."

Muslims believe that God gave beauty to all women, but that her beauty is not be seen by the world, as if the women are meat on the shelf to be picked and looked over. When she covers herself she puts herself on a higher level and men will look at her with respect and she is noticed for her intellect, faith, and personality, not for her beauty. In many societies, especially in the West, women are taught from early childhood that their worth is proportional to their attractiveness and are compelled to follow the male standards of beauty and abstract notions of what is attractive, half realizing that such pursuit is futile and often humiliating (Mustafa). Chastity, modesty, and piety are promoted by the institution of veiling. The hijab in no way prevents a woman from playing her role as an important individual in a society nor does it make her inferior." (Takim, 22)

A Muslim woman may wear whatever she pleases in the presence of her husband and family or among women friends. But when she goes out or when men other than her husband or close family are present she is expected to wear a dress which will cover [her hair and] all parts of her body, and not reveal her figure. What a contrast with Western fashions which every year concentrate quite intentionally on exposing yet another erogenous zone to the public gaze! The intention of Western dress is to reveal the figure, while the intention of Muslim dress is to conceal [and cover] it, at least in public (Lemu, 25).

The Muslim woman does not feel the pressures to be beautiful or attractive, which is so apparent in the Western and Eastern cultures. She does not have to live up to expectations of what is desirable and what is not. Superficial beauty is not the Muslim woman's concern, her main goal is inner spiritual beauty. She does not have to use her body and charms to get recognition or acceptance in society. It is very different from the cruel methods that other societies subject women, in that their worth is always judged by their physical appearance. The are numerous examples of discrimination at the workplace where women are either accepted or rejected, because of their attractiveness and sex appeal.

Another benefit of adorning the veil is that it is a protection for women. Muslims believe that when women display their beauty to everybody, they degrade themselves by becoming objects of sexual desire and become vulnerable to men, who look at them as "gratification for the sexual urge" (Nadvi, 8). The Hijab makes them out as women belonging to the class of modest chaste women, so that transgressors and sensual men may recognize them as such and dare not tease them out of mischief" (Nadvi, 20). Hijab solves the problem of sexual harrassment and unwanted sexual advances, which is so demeaning for women, when men get mixed signals and believe that women want their advances by the way they reveal their bodies.

The western idiology of, 'if you have it, you should flash it!' is quite opposite to the Islamic principle, where the purpose is not to bring attention to ones self, but to be modest. Women in so many societies are just treated as s ex symbols and nothing more than just a body who "display themselves to get attent ion" (Mustafa). A good example is in advertising, where a woman's body is used to sell products. Women are constantly degraded, and subjected to reveal more and more of themselves.

The Covering sanctifies her and forces society to hold her in high esteem. Far from humiliating the woman, Hijab actually grants the woman an aura of respect, and bestows upon her a separate and unique identity (Takim, 2). According to the Qu'ran, the same high standards of moral conduct are for men as it is for women. Modesty is essential in a man's life, as well, whether it be in action, morals or speech. Islam also commands proper behavior and dress of men, in that they are not allowed to make a wanton show of their bodies to attract attention onto themselves, and they too must dress modestly. They have a speci al commandment to lower their eyes, and not to brazenly stare at women.

In Sura Nur of the Holy Qu'ran it says, "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them, and God is well acquainted with what they do". Many of the misconceptions of the Muslim woman in the west, particularly her veil stems from Arab and Muslim countries that have deviated from the true doctrines of Islam, and have " mixed up Islamic principles with pre-Islamic pagan traditions" (Bahnassawi, 67)

In this present period of decline from Islam, many Muslim women are alienated , isolated from social life, and are oppressed by Muslim men and rulers who use the name of religion for their injustices. (Bahnassawi, 65) In this instance, the Hijab is used as a means of keeping many Muslim women away from society, with the misconception that it signifies isolation and weakness. But as many Muslim women come back into the fold of the untainted and true Islam, they are able to recognize the injustice of men who have for so long stripped them of their rights to be an integral part of society and "deserving the same dignity, honor, progress and prosperity as the men" (Nadvi, 26). Women regaining their true identity and role in society, are now wearing Hijab and embracing its concept of liberation for women, and are taking their rightful places that Islam had endowed upon them fourteen hundred years ago.


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Headscarf New Fashion Vogue

17 Juli 2008

Headscarves are becoming the new hot trend in Western fashion, with famed designer labels and industry biggest names explaining the appeal of the headwear as a comeback of elegance and chastity to the runways.

"We wanted to revamp the headscarf," Domenico Dolce, co-founder of the Italian fashion house Dolce and Gabana, told The Telegraph on Wednesday, July 16.

"We want to give it a new life and introduce it to a younger generation."

The famous Luxury fashion house D&G and other big names in the industry, like Paul Smith, Vera Wang and Jean Paul Gaultier, are now leading the new fad with their designs.

On the catwalks for autumn/winter, many of the industry's noted brands offered the headscarf.

"Our aim was to give it a modern and cool twist," says Dolce.

The trend is also appealing to the customers.

Hermès, the French high fashion house renowned for its range of designs of silk headscarves, has seen a rise in the sales recently.

Vivienne Alexander says the company has been selling out to "a much younger crowd than usual."

And with the rocketing demand, designers are coming out with a wider variety of the head covering in their collections.

"I do think we will be seeing a fair amount of headscarves around over the next few months," says Gaia Geddes, executive fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar.

Chastity, elegance

Industry experts agree the new headscarves trend is about bringing a touch of modesty and chic to the runways.

According to Dennis Nothdruft, curator of London's Fashion and Textile Museum, the headscarf resurgence is about a new sense of "chastity" in fashion.

He affirms that the trend is not all new after all.

"Women wore headscarves in medieval times to maintain their modesty," he explains.

Others believe the headscarf is lending a sense of elegance to woman's appearance.

They contend that customers want to imitate the caliber of famous women who have emphasized the headscarf's glamorous and sophisticated look, like the American movie star Grace Kelly.

Alexander, of Hermès fashion house, says that a sizable proportion of their customers are Muslims, who wear their products as hijab, Islam's obligatory code of dress for women.

But she affirms that the large bulk of the clients are non-Muslims who are seeking a modest, elegant look.

"This is more about a return to that elegant Grace Kelly era than anything else."


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The Islamic Calendar

14 Juli 2008

The Islamic calendar (or Hijri calendar) is a purely lunar calendar. It contains 12 months that are based on the motion of the moon, and because 12 synodic months is only 12 x 29.53=354.36 days, the Islamic calendar is consistently shorter than a tropical year, and therefore it shifts with respect to the Christian calendar.

The calendar is based on the Qur'an (Sura IX, 36-37) and its proper observance is a sacred duty for Muslims.

The Islamic calendar is the official calendar in countries around the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia. But other Muslim countries use the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes and only turn to the Islamic calendar for religious purposes.

What does an Islamic year look like?

The names of the 12 months that comprise the Islamic year are:
3.Rabi' al-awwal (Rabi' I)
4.Rabi' al-thani (Rabi' II)
5.Jumada al-awwal (Jumada I)
6.Jumada al-thani (Jumada II)
11.Dhu al-Qi'dah
12.Dhu al-Hijjah

(Due to different transliterations of the Arabic alphabet, other spellings of the months are possible.)

Each month starts when the lunar crescent is first seen (by a human observer's eye) after a new moon.

Although new moons may be calculated quite precisely, the actual visibility of the crescent is much more difficult to predict. It depends on factors such as weather, the optical properties of the atmosphere, and the location of the observer. It is therefore very difficult to give accurate information in advance about when a new month will start.

Furthermore, some Muslims depend on a local sighting of the moon, whereas others depend on a sighting by authorities somewhere in the Muslim world. Both are valid Islamic practices, but they may lead to different starting days for the months.

So you can't print an Islamic calendar in advance?

Not a reliable one. However, calendars are printed for planning purposes, but such calendars are based on estimates of the visibility of the lunar crescent, and the actual month may start a day earlier or later than predicted in the printed calendar.

Different methods for estimating the calendars are used.

Some sources mention a crude system in which all odd numbered months have 30 days and all even numbered months have 29 days with an extra day added to the last month in 'leap years' (a concept otherwise unknown in the calendar). Leap years could then be years in which the number year mod 30 is one of the following: 2, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 21, 24, 26, or 29. (This is the algorithm used in the calendar program of the Gnu Emacs editor.)

Such a calendar would give an average month length of 29.53056 days, which is quite close to the synodic month of 29.53059 days, so on the average it would be quite accurate, but in any given month it is still just a rough estimate.

Better algorithms for estimating the visibility of the new moon have been devised.

How does one count years?

Years are counted since the Hijra, that is, Mohammed's emigration to Medina in AD 622. On 16 July (Julian calendar) of that year, AH 1 started (AH = Anno Hegirae = year of the Hijra).

In the year AD 2003 we have witnessed the start of Islamic year AH 1424.

Note that although only 2003-622=1381 years have passed in the Christian calendar, 1423 years have passed in the Islamic calendar, because its year is consistently shorter (by about 11 days) than the tropical year used by the Christian calendar.

When will the Islamic calendar overtake the Gregorian calendar?

As the year in the Islamic calendar is about 11 days shorter than the year in the Christian calendar, the Islamic years are slowly gaining in on the Christian years. But it will be many years before the two coincide. The 1st day of the 5th month of C.E. 20874 in the Gregorian calendar will also be (approximately) the 1st day of the 5th month of AH 20874 of the Islamic calendar.

Doesn't Saudi Arabia have special rules?

For civil (but not religious) purposes, Saudi Arabia doesn't rely on a visual sighting of the crescent moon to fix the start of a new month. Instead they base their calendar on a calculated astronomical moon.

Since 2002 (AH 1423) the rule has been as follows: If on the 29th day of an Islamic month,
* the geocentric conjunction (that is, the new moon as seen from the centre of the earth) occurs before sunset, and
* the moon sets after the sun,

then the next day will be the first of a new month; otherwise the next day will be the last (30th) of the current month.

The times for the setting of the sun and the moon are calculated for the coordinates of Mecca.


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Equality of Men and Women in all Three Levels of Islam

10 Juli 2008

by Shaykh Abdul Rahman Abdul Khaliq

My brothers and sisters everywhere! Islamic law - that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) sent down to His Messenger Muhammad - came to announce that women (exactly like men) are full human beings. Women (like men) are therefore required to follow the way appointed by Allah.

A woman (like a man) is therefore obligated with all three degrees of this religion: Islam (outward submission to Allah), Iman (inward faith in Allah), and Ihsan (perfection of worship of Allah).

It is thus required for every woman to testify that there is none deserving worship but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger; to pray; to give charity; to fast; and to make a pilgrimage to Allah's House if she has the means.

It is likewise required for every woman to believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in Allah's decree (and that the good and evil consequences thereof are from Allah).

These are the fundamentals of Islam and Iman.

It is likewise required for every woman to worship Allah as if she sees Him. For although she cannot see Allah, she must believe that He sees whatever she does in secret and in public.

Women (exactly like men) have been commanded with these three levels of the religion (Islam, Iman, Ihsan).

Women are also obligated to enjoin good and forbid evil; to wage jihad by saying that which is truthful; and to adhere to all noble behavior, like: truthfulness, trustworthiness, courage, modesty, and self-respect.

Every Muslim woman is commanded to be steadfast in her religion and not to be negligent with her faith. It is impermissible for her - under any pressure or compulsion - to open her heart to accept the word of disbelief. Hence every Muslim woman falls under Allah's statement:

"Whose disbelieves in Allah, after he has believed - excepting him who has been compelled, and his heart is still at rest with the Faith - but whosoever's breast is expanded in unbelief, upon them shall rest anger from Allah, and there awaits them a mighty chastisement." (Qur'an 16:106)

Clearly when Islam charged women with all these duties and in all these obligations made her equal to men, the intent was to honor her and permit her to reach the highest degree of perfection of her being.

The duties that Allah has obligated humanity with are but a means to honor us. Prayer, as well as fasting, is an honor for the servant and a means to raise his rank. To adhere to Allah's straight path and the manners of Islam are, without doubt, a means to honor us and not to humiliate us as imagined by those who are ignorant of Allah and follow their desires.

Such people think and imagine that a human being who does not believe in Allah, does not uphold the trust of these duties, and does not perform what Allah has commanded him is of a higher standing than the believer who adheres to the obligations of Islam. Such an idea is ignorance and renders human beings on par with the animals.

Humans have been created to be tried by Allah and have been charged with fulfilling these duties to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) and His creatures. As for animals, while they have been created by Allah, they have not been charged with this trust.

Whoever considers that a human being who does not uphold what Allah has obligated as equal to those who fulfill what Allah has obligated is like those who consider humans and animals to be equal. For this reason, Allah has said:

"Shall we treat that those who have surrendered (as Muslims) as We treat the guilty?" (Qur'an 68:35)

And He has said:

"We have crated for Hell many of the jinn and humanity; they have hearts, but understand not with them; they have eyes, but perceive not with them; and they have ears, but they hear not with them. These are like cattle; nay, rather they are further astray! Those - they are the heedless." (Qur'an 7:126)

The disbeliever in Allah is a guilty criminal, for he does not know whom He is to worship, i.e., his Creator, his Protector, his Lord, and He Who created this universe in which he lives. The disbeliever enjoys what Allah has blessed him with and yet forgets the One Who blessed and preferred him with such blessings. As for the believer, he is the honorable servant who knows His Lord and Creator, Allah, Whom he worships. He fulfills what Allah has obligated and travels upon the path that Allah has delineated for him.


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Treating Women With Kindness

by: Ibraahim Ibn Saleh al-Mahmud

Many of us have heard stories of men treating their wives badly as if they were slaves of an oppressive master. Islam has forbidden such conduct, and the last command of the Prophet was, " ... Act kindly towards women." [Bukhari and Muslim]

We should be gentle to our wives, treat them nicely and respect them, particularly in front of the children. The Prophet said, "The most perfect of the believers in faith is he who is the most excellent of them in morals and the best of you are they who are best for their wives." [Tirmidhi]

We should not look for perfection in this universe; but accept what is best! There is no need to demand perfection from our wives while we are drowned in our own flaws. The Prophet said, "A believer must not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes any of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another one." [Reported by Muslim]


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Miracles of Zamzam

by: Safeer Azam

We came here again to perform the Umrah, and I am reminded of the wonders of Zamzam.

Let me go back to how it all started. In 1971, an Egyptian doctor wrote to the European Press, a letter saying that Zamzam water was not fit for drinking purposes. I immediately thought that this was just a form of prejudice against the Muslims and that since his statement was based on the assumption that since the Kabah was a shallow place (below sea level) and located in the center of the city of Makkah, the wastewater of the city collecting through the drains fall into well holding the water. Fortunately, the news came to King Faisal's ears who got extremely angry and decided to disprove the Egyptian doctor's provocative statement. He immediately ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources to investigate and send samples of Zamzam water to European laboratories for testing the potability of the water. The ministry then instructed the Jeddah Power and Desalination Plant to carry out this task. It was here that I was employed as a desalting engineer (chemical engineer) to produce drinking water from seawater. I was chosen to carry out this assignment. At this stage, I remember that I had no idea what the well holding the water looked like. I went to Makkah and reported to the authorities at the Kabah explaining my purpose of visit. They deputed a man to give me whatever help was required. When we reached the well, it was hard for me to believe that a pool of water, more like a small pond, about 18 by 14 feet, was the well that supplied millions of gallons of water every year to Hajis (pilgrims) ever since it came into existence at the time of Ibrahim (p.b.u.h.), many, many centuries ago.

I started my investigations and took the dimensions of the well. I asked the man to show me the depth of the well. First he took a shower and descended into the water. Then, he straightened his body and I saw that the water level came up to just above his shoulders. His height was around five feet, eight inches. He then started moving from one corner to the other in the well standing all the while since he was not allowed to dip his head into the water in search of any inlet or pipeline inside the well to see from where the water came in. However, the man reported that he could not find any inlet or pipeline inside the well. I thought of another idea. The water could be withdrawn rapidly with the help of a big transfer pump which was installed at the well for the Zamzam water storage tanks. In this way, the water level would drop enabling us to locate the point of entry of the water. Surprisingly, nothing was observed during the pumping period, but I knew that this was the only method by which you could find the entrance of the water to the well. So, I decided to repeat the process. But this time I instructed the man to stand still at one place and carefully observe any unusual thing happening inside the well. After a while, he suddenly raised his hands and shouted, Alhamdullillah! I have found it. The sand is dancing beneath my feet as the water oozes out of the bed of the well. Then he moved around the well during the pumping period and noticed the same phenomenon everywhere in the well. Actually the flow of water into the well through the bed was equal at every point, thus keeping the level of the water steady. After I finished my observations, I took the samples of the water for European laboratories to test. Before I left the Kabah, I asked the authorities about the other wells around Makkah. I was told that these wells were mostly dry.

When I reached my office in Jeddah, I reported my findings to my boss who listened with great interest but made a very irrational comment that the Zamzam well could be internally connected to the Red Sea. How was it possible when Makkah is about 75 kilometers away from the sea and the wells located before the city usually remain dry? The results of the water samples tested by the European laboratories and the one we analyzed in our own laboratory were found to be almost identical. The difference between Zamzam water and other water (city water) was in the quantity of calcium and magnesium salts. The content of these was slightly higher in Zamzam water. This may be why this water refreshes tired Hajis (pilgrims), but more significantly, the water contains fluorides that have an effective germicidal action. Moreover, the remarks of the European laboratories showed that the water was fit for drinking. Hence the statement made by the Egyptian doctor was proved false.

When this was reported to King Faisal, he was extremely pleased and ordered the contradiction of the report in the European press. In a way, it was a blessing that this study was undertaken to show the chemical composition of the water. In fact, the more you explore, the more wonders surface and you find yourself believing implicitly in the miracles of this water that Allah bestowed as a gift on the faithful coming from far and wide to the desert land for pilgrimage.

Let me sum up some of the features of Zamzam water.

This well has never dried up. On the contrary, it has always fulfilled the demand for water. It has always maintained the same salt composition and taste ever since it came into existence. Its potability has always been universally recognized as pilgrims from all over the world visit Kabah every year for Hajj and Umrah, but have never complained about it. Instead, they have always enjoyed the water that refreshes them. Water tastes different at different places. Zamzam water's appeal has always been universal. This water has never been chemically treated or chlorinated as is the case with water pumped into the cities.

Biological growth and vegetation usually take place in most wells. This makes the water unpalatable owing to the growth of algae causing taste and odor problems. But in the case of the Zamzam water well, there wasn't any sign of biological growth. Centuries ago, Hajar (May Allah be pleased with her) searched desperately for water in the hills of Safa and Marwa to give it to her newly born son, Ismail (p.b.u.h.). As she ran from one place to another in search of water, her child rubbed his feet against the sand. A pool of water surfaced, and by the grace of Allah, which came to be called Zamzam water.

Please pass this on to everyone to know the facts of great wonders of Zamzam. And Allah give them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. "For Allah Loveth those who do good" - (Al Imran 148)


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Selecting a Marriage Partner

by: Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini

Marriage is recommended for partners who share a common way of life. The matrimonial partners should be able to fulfill their purpose of creation as defined by Allah. They should be able to effectively carry out their responsibility as care-takers (Khalifah) of earth. They should share the common goal of building a well-integrated Muslim community and be able to work harmoniously towards it.

Criteria for Selecting a Marriage Partner

Normally the criteria for selecting matrimonial mates are many: wealth, beauty, rank, character, congeniality, compatibility, religion, etc. The Quran enjoins Muslims to select partners who are good and pure (Tayyib).

"Women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity."(Quran 24:26)

Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) recommended Muslims to select those partners who are best in religion (Deen) and character.

"A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property, for her rank, for her beauty, and for her religion (and character), so marry the one who is best in the religion and character and prosper." (Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) assured the bounty of Allah to those who wish to get married and live a pure and clean life.

"Three groups of people Allah obliged Himself to help them: Mujahid in the cause of Allah, a worker to pay his debt, and the one who wants to marry to live a chaste life." (Tirmidhi)

Freedom to Choose a Marriage Partner

Islam has given freedom of choice to those who wish to get married. The mutual choice of the would-be-spouses is given the highest consideration:

"Do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree between themselves in a lawful manner." (Quran 2:232)

The process of mate selection should be a function of a healthy balance between the freedom of choice of the would-be-spouses and consideration of the influence and consent of the parents/guardians.

The freedom of choice of those who wish to get married should not preclude the influence and consent of the parents/guardians nor should the parents/guardians ignore the wishes and consent of the would be spouses.

Falling in love is not a pre-condition for marriage in Islam. However, for the purpose of selecting an appropriate mate, the would-be-spouses are allowed to see and/or talk to each other.

Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) recommended:

"When one of you seeks a woman in marriage, and then if he is able to have a look at whom he wishes to marry, let him do so." (Abu Dawood)

The would-be-spouse are allowed to see each other for matrimonial purposes under the direct supervision of their mahram relatives. This provision is expected to be conceived and executed with piety and modesty.

Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) instructed:

"No man has the right to be in the privacy with a woman who is not lawful for him. Satan is their third party unless there is a mahram." (Ahmad)

The would-be-spouses residing in non-Muslim societies are recommended to enter into a pre-nuptial commitment to safeguard Islamic values and Muslim personal law.

by: Mohammad Mazhar Hussaini


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A Marriage Based on Love, Mercy and Cooperation

09 Juli 2008

"... He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts):..." (Quran 30:21)

Living in Tranquility with Love, Mercy and Mutual Cooperation and Consultation

A marital relationship is conducted based on love and mercy so as to achieve peace both within ourselves and with our partner. We should strive conscientiously to make our home a Darussalam (Abode of Peace). A peaceful and loving home is truly a pleasure to return to after a hard day's work. Imagine being greeted with a warm smile, a kiss and soothing words to ease your frazzled nerves. Even the most ordinary meal shared with your spouse becomes the highlight of the day if it is served with care and enjoyed in peaceful companionship. Subsequently, having peace within the family will enable us to find Peace with our Creator.

To facilitate the task of building a harmonious marriage, it is essential that both spouses adopt a forgiving and merciful attitude which will enable them to put aside each other's mistakes, focusing instead on their strengths and their efforts to change. Helping each other is a crucial step in actualizing our desire to have a tranquil home. We should adopt a charitable attitude by assisting to remove any difficulties that our partner may encounter and anticipate his or her needs, trying to fulfill them without being asked. Each partner should look forward to being of assistance to the other. Such an attitude will create the impression of putting our partner's needs beside our own, serving to express the love and concern that we have for one another. One simple way to help one another is to try to make things easier for each other.

"Make things easy and convenient and do not make them harsh and difficult. Give cheers and glad tidings and do not create hatred..." (Hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim)

Throughout our marriage we will be adjusting to each other's expectations and needs. This is to be expected because, as an individual develops and changes throughout their life, the dynamics of their relationship with their spouse will be affected. Adjustments will be most intensive during the early par: of the marriage. Thus, it is crucial that both parties adopt an attitude of making things easy for each other. The Prophet's attitude of not causing inconvenience to others, and his charm and care in ensuring that his family members were not unnecessarily 'pressurized', is poignantly illustrated in the following hadith:

"Jabir relates that the Holy Prophet once asked his household members for seasoning. They told him that there was nothing but vinegar. He called for it and started eating his food with it exclaiming: 'The best seasoning is vinegar; the best seasoning is vinegar'." (Hadith reported by Muslim)

When the marital relationship is conducted based on helping each other, the couple will develop mutual cooperation in their dealings. This could range from helping your partner when he or she is in financial need, to doing chores. The organization of the household, although seemingly mundane, can become a source of stress and inconvenience. A couple can actually quarrel over matters as simple as not putting the toothbrush in the right place! Therefore, we should never discount the importance of the management of our daily necessities. Although traditionally the wife is expected to manage the household, she may not be able to cope, especially if she is both working and having to care for the children.

Not to offer help is like treading on thin ice. Therefore, we are advised to manage our household based on mutual co-operation.

The examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad demonstrate that he dealt with his wives most supportively. There are reports of the Prophet being self-sufficient by mending his own clothes and helping out with chores. All these were done with the clear understanding of mutually maintaining a home environment that would be conducive towards the attainment of peace. Aswa Bin Yazid, one of the companions, inquired from Aishah, the Prophet's wife, as to what the Prophet did when he was inside the house:

"She replied, 'He used to remain busy serving and helping the inmates of his house, and when the time for swalah (prayer) would come, he would go out for the same'." (Hadith reported by Bukhari)

The principle of consultation, which is used in Islam to conduct all affairs, be they private domestic matters, business matters or affairs of state, is derived from the following verse of the Qur'an:

"Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance;" (Quran 42:38)

Husband and wife are each other's best companions and advisers, complementing one another in their various roles within the family. A wife who acts as an adviser to her husband shares her views when consulted by him. A husband can count on his wife's knowledge and expertise when he asks for them. By consulting one another or seeking each other's views we can better understand an issue or problem and will be better advised in generating a solution.

Being able to conduct our family life with love, mercy and mutual cooperation and consultation will open the doors for the couple to develop tranquility within their home.

Source: "Tranquil Hearts" by Enon Mansor, Fatimah Eunos & Osman Sidek.

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Principles of Success

According to the Quran, Prophet Muhammad was the most excellent example for all of humanity. Even non-Muslim historians recognize him to be one of the most successful personalities in history.

In 1946 Reverend R Bosworth-Smith in "Mohammed & Mohammedanism." wrote about the Prophet:

"Head of the state as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but, he was pope without the pope's claims, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine It was Mohammad, for he had all the power without instruments and without its support. He cared not for dressing of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life."

In 1978 Michael Hart in his book " The 100 Most Influential Persons In History", selected Prophet Muhammad as the most influential person in history and had this to say about his choice:

"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the secular and religious level... It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence which I feel entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history."

The Prophet's words and actions show us the way to achieve success, not just in this world but in the hereafter as well.

In short, the Prophet of Islam was a positive thinker in the full sense of the word. All his activities were result-oriented. He refrained from all negative elements of behavior that are counter-productive to achievement such as hate, envy, arrogance, greed, etc.

All the actions of the Prophet were solely based on a pure intention to please God.

By studying the life of the Prophet we can identify some of the principles of success.

The First Principle:

Take the easier path. This principle is well explained in a saying of A'ishah. She said:

Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two options, he always opted for the easier choice. (Bukhari)

To choose the easiest option means that you should evaluate your options and choose the most feasible. One who begins from this starting point will surely reach his goal.

The Second Principle:

See advantage in disadvantage. In the early days of Makkah, there were many problems and difficulties. At that time, a guiding verse in the Quran was revealed. It said:

With every hardship there is ease, with every hardship there is ease. (94:5-6).

This means that if there are some problems, there are also opportunities at the same time. The way to success is to overcome the problems and avail the opportunities.

The Third Principle:

Change the place of action. This principle is derived from the Hijrah. The Hijrah was not just a migration from Makkah to Madinah, it was a journey to find a more suitable place to put Islam into action.

Physical migration and perseverance is an important element in establishing Justice and Peace. This also planted the roots of intellectual migration from the subjugated minds to an awakened spirit.

The Fourth Principle:

Make a friend out of an enemy. The Prophet of Islam was repeatedly subjected to practices of antagonism by the unbelievers. At that time, the Qur'an enjoined upon him the return of good for evil. And then, as the Quran added:

You will see your direst enemy has become your closest friend. (41:34)

It means that a good deed in return of a bad deed has a conquering effect over your enemies. And the life of the Prophet is a historical proof of this principle.

The greatest example of amnesty was shown by the Prophet after the blood-less conquest of Makkah. All enemies of Islam were granted pardon including Hinda, the wife of Abu Soofyaan who had disemboweled the martyred body of Hamza, the Prophet's uncle. In spite of her detestable mutilation of Hamza's body, the Prophet forgave her.

The Fifth Principle:

Education is central to success. After the battle of Badr, about 70 of the unbelievers were taken as prisoners of war. They were educated people. The Prophet announced that if any one of them would teach ten Muslim children how to read and write he would be freed. This was the first school in the history of Islam in which all of the students were Muslims, and all of the teachers were from the enemy rank.

The Sixth Principle:

Don't be a dichotomous thinker. In the famous battle of Mutah, Khalid Ibn Walid decided to withdraw Muslim forces from the battlefield because he discovered that they were disproportionately outnumbered by the enemy. When they reached Madinah, some of the Muslims received them by the word 'O deserters!' The Prophet said: 'No, they are men of advancement'.

Those Madinan people were thinking dichotomously, either fighting or retreating. The Prophet said that there is also a third option, and that is to avoid war and find time to strengthen yourself. Now history tells us that the Muslims, after three years of preparation, advanced again towards the Roman border and this time they won a resounding victory.

The Seventh Principle:

Do not engage in unnecessary confrontation. This principle is derived from the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. At that time, the unbelievers were determined to engage Muslims in fighting, because they were in an advantageous position. But the Prophet , by accepting their conditions unilaterally, entered into a pact. It was a ten-year peace treaty. Until then, the meeting ground between Muslims and non-Muslims had been on the battlefield. Now the area of conflict became that of ideological debate. Within two years, Islam emerged as victorious because of the simple reason of its ideological superiority.

The Eighth Principle:

Gradualism instead of radicalism. This principle is well-established by a Hadith quoted in Bukhari. A'ishah says that the first verses of the Qur'an were related mostly to Heaven and Hell. After some time when faith had taken hold in peoples hearts, God revealed specific commands to desist from unjust and self-deprecating social practices that were prevalent in the Arabian dark ages. This is a clear proof that for social changes, Islam advocates the evolutionary method, rather than the revolutionary method.

The Ninth Principle:

Be pragmatic in controversial matters. During the writing of the Hudaybiyyah treaty, the Prophet dictated these words: 'This is from Muhammad, the Messenger of God.' The Qurayshan delegate raised objections over these words. The Prophet promptly ordered the words to be changed to 'Muhammad, son of Abdullah'. This simple change placated the Qurayshan delegate.

These are just some of the principles by which the Prophet of Islam conducted his life. His achievements have been recognized by historians as the supreme success. We would be wise to live by following his example.

You have indeed in the Messenger of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day .. (Quran 33:21)

Adapted from the "Principles of Success in the Light of Sirah" by Wahiduddin Khan - Renaissance Islamic Journal


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Islamic vs. Secular Education

Now-a-days there are a lot of people who talk about the differences between a modern and Islamic Education. And it really surprises me as I don't believe there is any difference in Islamic and modern Education.

Education means to learn about something one has no prior knowledge of, for example, modern science is defined as being a "systems of knowledge gained by systematic research and organized into general laws".

Humans are asked, on various occasions in the Quran, to research, to make some thorough investigations about the universe and to find the hidden truth in the things around us. God (Allah) Almighty has invited us to look around and observe things in order to solidify our belief in Him. We believe in Allah, however contemplation and seeking knowledge will solidify our belief in Him even more.

We are welcomed to observe, to feel and to understand the things that bring us closer to our Creator. It means that we are entitled to learn science as science is the systematic way to observing a fact or finding a fact for which we are asked to.

So where does this concept of "Islamic Education" verses "Modern Education" come from? In fact we have restricted ourselves to some part of Islam and preaching and categorized it as "Islamic Education". Islam is actually a complete code of life and contains all aspects of human knowledge that one can comprehend including, art, science, law, health, politics, education, economics and much more all found in the Holy Quran and from the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

However, today, whenever we discuss politics or any other secular issue, we negate Islam as a separate idea. God says in the Quran:

"Mafhoom": Indeed The Messenger of Allah is the best example for you.

And we find that during the time of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, peace be upon him, initiating policies in places like Madina. Does it not prove that politics is a part of Islam?

Another example from the companions of the Prophet was that of the economic policies of Umar Ibn al- Khattab (The second Caliph of the Muslims) which, amazed the European economists. Is it not Islam?

During the battle of Badr, some of the prisoners that were captured and were educated, were actually asked to teach the Muslims. Can anybody tell me what they taught to the Muslims, Islamic Virtues? What do you think?

May God Almighty guide us towards the right way and help us in our lives.

by Imdad Ulhaq

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