Author: Zoom Islamic Magazine

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Disconnected

– When you feel lost and disconnected from God

By: Hina Murtaza

downloadBeing born in a Muslim family is a blessing. Parents instill in children the importance of following all five pillars of Islam. Belief in one true god that is Allah and his messenger Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), praying five times a day, keeping fasts during the month of Ramadan, giving Zakat (alms) and performing Hajj (at least once if a person is able financially and physically).

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Unfortunately there are some people who despite being born in Muslim families are unable to appreciate this blessing. They may be from practicing Muslim families but as individuals they feel detached or cut off from their religion and Allah . Let’s try to understand the possible reasons for this detachment or disconnection and what can be done for that. Lack of knowledge about Islam, weak Islamic belief system (weak Iman), absence of Islamic culture in the surroundings and having only non-muslim friends are some important reasons for feeling alienated.

Few people have in-depth knowledge of their religion. Usually people inherit religion from their parents as they inherit their genetic traits like skin color or color of eyes. They follow several or some teachings (depending on their level of Iman) that have been passed on to them from their parents.eid_16.jpg If they have been taught to say regular prayers, probably they will, otherwise chances are that they won’t. Same is the case with other pillars of Islam. They say their prayers and read the Holy book as a practice which was instilled in them when they were kids. But as adults they never made an effort to understand what their Holy Book says or five times prayer means. When one does something mechanically even daily without understanding, gradually that person will feel disconnected.

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Then, there are others who are not able to say their daily prayers regularly and fulfill other Islamic duties because they have a weak belief system. If a person has complete faith in his/her religion, he/she will abide by all the commitments of the religion. But if his/her Iman is weak then he/she will easily ignore the commitments. There can be numerous excuses including being busy with work or friends (who do not have to say prayers anyway because they are from other religions). Think about it, if something is really important, can it be ignored or forgotten? OF COURSE NOT! Lack of knowledge could be the main reason.

As a Muslim, does one know why he/she prays five times a day? What is being said in these prayers? What does it mean? Yes, at first it seems strange. Of course everything is known, prayers are said to thank and praise Allah, and ask for guidance along the straight path. But are the meanings of verses said five times a day understood by the person? If the meaning of all the verses said and actions performed during prayer are understood, it will make all the difference. It can be started right away. It is never too late. As a beginner, start with the meaning of surah Fatiha and after comfortably understanding it proceed to meanings of short surahs first, then to longer ones.

 

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Advancement in technology is a blessing in disguise for people who have an urge to strengthen their Iman. There are several social media websites as well as applications which can be utilized for this purpose. To learn surahs one can either read them online or download them.

Smartphones can be a great help in this regard as many people use internet on their smartphones. This makes learning surahs along with their meanings a piece of cake literally. All information related to Islam is just a click away now! Yes, people do get carried away at times. Advancement in technology also means that anything and everything can be watched whenever wanted without restriction. Whenever this urge arises, control yourself and strengthen your Iman by getting to know more about Islam. Seek repentance for wrong actions from Allah.

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Allah SWT is oft – forgiving.  Allah the Almighty said: O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.” (Tirmidhi)

“Indeed Allah loves those who repent and purify themselves.”  [Surah Al Baqarah, 2:222]

“Say: O My slaves who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily, Allah forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Az-Zumar 39:53)maxresdefault.jpg

 

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LOVE – Given to be given back

By: Noorul Soraya

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“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him; and that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them, but address them in terms of honour.” (Surah Al-Isra’ – 17/23) 

 

The Holy Quran emphasizes in many Surahs, Allah decree on the treatment of our parents to be a mandatory act than a mere duty.  He has very clearly said that loving and caring for our parents comes right next to accepting His Oneness. In the above surah and in many other surahs related to parents, Allah places parents immediately after Him which goes to stress the depth of reverence that Allah  Himself pays to parents. He is more or less compelling us to care for our parents as a part of our Islamic belief.rsz_old_hands21.jpg The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), His Apostle, in his many hadiths echoes Allah  decree with great reverence too. Therefore, it can be deemed that paying heed to those authentic voices from the Quran and the Prophet (PBUH) on caring for parents is part and parcel of being a Muslim; it is a `vital’ part of being a human being.

Every parent has their divine right to expect his or her children to care for them when they are aged and/or disabled. Looking out for parents used to be a traditional act that came down automatically from generation to generation. Lately, this feeling of tradition is slowly being replaced by a more modern and mechanical way of caring which is devoid of human interaction; they seem to be mere pawns on a chessboard that could be pushed around to the whims and fancies of children. A lack of understanding between past and current generations may be a cause for this confusion.

Parents’ love towards their children is unconditional and limitless from the moment a child enters this world. It is a mother’s warmth that embraces a new born child first. It is a fact to mention that the Quran states that Islam makes special mention of mothers for their endurance during hardship and suffering before, during and after childbirth.  It is also narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said that “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers” which stresses how much mothers need to be treated with love, gratitude and honour. A status of a mother is three times more than a father.

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: 

 A man came to Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and asked, “Which of the people is most deserving of my best companionship?” He said, “Your mother.” He said, “Then who?” He said, “Then your mother.” He said, “Then who?” He said, “Then your mother.” He said, “Then who?” He said, “Then your father.”   (Hadith No. 5971, Book of Al-Adab, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 8; Hadith No. 6500 (2548), Book of Al-Birr, Sahih Muslim, Vol. 6).

Parents love unreservedly. Age or marital statuses of their children play no part in this equation; to a parent, a child will always remain a child until death parts them.  It is every parent’s intention to give their best to their children even at the cost of their own well being and happiness.  They struggle, sacrifice and push themselves beyond their limits to simply fulfill their desires and beliefs that they need to provide their children with love and security with everything they possess. How does one reconcile such a selfless giving?

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Home for the Aged are thriving businesses filled with helpless mothers and fathers, who once hoped to be loved and cherished like they did their own children. This sight is a reality check.

Lack of proper religious training and a principled upbringing are causing confusion amongst the youth of today. Pushed to strive for excellence in every other aspect of their lives, the youth today, a breed between two generations, are fast losing their ability to nurture proper values in respect to caring for parents.  While they lay emphasis on securing an academic qualification, little or nothing is done to cultivate a sound religious education which is also crucial to maintain a balance personality. It is important that parents take the responsibility of inculcating true Islamic values so that children are not led astray, left emotionally unattended and lost amidst worldly accumulations.

1 (1)  Parents should never be taken for granted, be tools of negotiation or be stop-gap measures to fix situations. The youth of today must be educated about the important message of caring for the parents as a part of their religious belief and upbringing.  It is only then that we are able to teach them about patience, tolerance, understanding, and above all to engrave in their hearts that loving and caring for parents is an act of divinity and that any God fearing Muslim should follow.

Love and care for your parents for, it can only bring you good tidings. Be grateful to Allah for blessing us with parents for, He bestowed upon us His love and His promise of Paradise through them.

 

 

How to go to sleep – The Islamic Way

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 ABLUTION

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “When you go to bed, you should perform the ablution (wudu) like that for prayer, and then lay down on your right side. Then say:

“Allahumma aslamtu wajhi ilaika, wa fauwadtu Amri ilaika wa aljatu zahri ilaika, raghbatan wa rahbatan ilaika, lamalja’a wa la manja mink a ill a ilaika. Amantu bikitabi kalladhi anzalta wa bi nabiyyikal-ladhi arsalta”

(‘O Allah, I have turned my face to You and I have surrendered my self to You and I have committed my back to You out of fear and desire for You. There is no place of safety or refuge from You except with You. I have believed in Your book which You revealed and Your Prophet whom You sent.’)

If you die that night, you will die in fitra (natural state). And make these the last words you utter.’” [Bukhari]HandsFaucet.jpg

It is also reported that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Purify these bodies, and Allah will purify you. There is not a slave who spends his night in a state of purification except that an angel spends the night besides him. And whenever the slave turns over during the night, the angel says: ‘O Allah, forgive Your slave, for he went to sleep in a state of purification.’” [Tabarani, al-Mu`jam al-Kabir]

Nowadays some yoga experts, suggest washing certain parts of the body before going to sleep, since it has a cooling and calming effect on the nerves, helping you to get a good rest. However this practise was encouraged long ago as the Sunnah of Prophet  Muhammad (PBUH).

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DUST THE BED

Abu Hurayra said, “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, ‘When one of you goes to bed, he should undo the inside of his lower garment and dust the bed with it. He does not know what has come on his bed since he left it… ” (Abu Dawud)

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SWITCHING OFF THE LIGHTS

The Prophet (saws) said: “Put out lamps when you go to bed, shut doors, and cover water and food containers“ (Bukhari).

turn_off_lights_19916160The use of electric lights with the subsequent elongation of the ‘daylight’ hours causes the pineal gland to release hormones that (among other potentially harmful changes) stimulates early puberty in young females. – Borysenko,1998.

Scientific study has discovered the importance of a dark environment for a good night rest. Melatonin is a chemical released by our brain which promotes sleep onset. Light affects the level of melatonin produced by our body, which begins to rise in the mid to late evening when it gets dark, remaining high for most of the night, and then dropping in the early morning hours.

So turning of all lamps, (even dim lights), when we sleep saves us from many problems caused by hormonal imbalances.

 

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SLEEPING POSITION

The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) used to sleep on his right side, putting his right hand on his right cheek, and this is what the Prophet (PBUH) recommended others to do.

As seen before also in the Hadith under ABLUTION it is mentioned, The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,”Whenever you go to bed perform ablution like that for prayer, and lie on your right side.” (Muslim)

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Sleeping on the right side does not let the weight of stomach & intestine to suppress heart, it reduces the pressure and strain on the heart to pump blood. Hence blood circulation is not affected. It is also a good position for those with neck and back pain and pregnant women.

Furthermore it is forbidden and not recommended to sleep on stomach. Ya’ish bin Tikhfah Al-Ghifari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:  My father said: I was lying down on my belly in the mosque when someone shook me with his foot and said, “Lying down this way is disapproved by Allah.” I looked up and saw that it was Messenger of Allah (PBUH). [Abu Dawud].  According to another report, the Prophet (PBUH) prodded him with his foot & woke him up & said. “do not lie like this, for this is how the people of hell lie”, (reported bx Ahmad, Al-Fath Al-Rabban 14/244-245)

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RECITE

– Surah Al Mulk:  Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying:  “There is a Surah in the Qur’an which contains thirty Ayat which kept interceding for a man until his sins are forgiven. This Surah is ‘Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion.’ (Surat Al-Mulk 67).”  [Tirmidhi]Daftar-Aplikasi-Al-Qur_an-Digital-Android-Yang-Cocok-Di-Bulan-Ramadhan00-700x376

-Three Kuls: ‘Aa’ishah reported that when the Prophet (PBUH) went to bed, he would cup his hands together, blow into them and recite into them Qul huwa Allaahu ahad [Surah al-Ikhlaas], Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-falaq [Surah al-Falaq] and Qul a’oodhu bi Rabbi’l-naas [Surah an-Naas] (these are the last 3 Chapters of the Quran – Translator). Then he would wipe as much of his body as he could with his hands, starting with his head and face, and the front of his body. He would do this three times. (Bukhari)

– Surah al Kafiroon: Prophet (PBUH) said, “Recite surah al Kaafiroon and then go to sleep after coming to its end, for it is a clearance from shirk.” (Dawud)
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DUA

Whenever the Prophet (saws) lay down for sleep at night, he would place his (right) hand under his (right) cheek and supplicate: “Allahumma bismika amutu wa ahya [O Allah, with Your Name will I die and live (wake up)].” (Bukhkari)

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Another Dua the Prophet used to recite is:

“Allahumma aslamtu wajhi ilaika, wa fauwadtu Amri ilaika wa aljatu zahri ilaika, raghbatan wa rahbatan ilaika, lamalja’a wa la manja mink a ill a ilaika. Amantu bikitabi kalladhi anzalta wa bi nabiyyikal-ladhi arsalta”

(‘O Allah, I have turned my face to You and I have surrendered my self to You and I have committed my back to You out of fear and desire for You. There is no place of safety or refuge from You except with You. I have believed in Your book which You revealed and Your Prophet whom You sent.’)

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Even simple acts such as going to sleep, can be done in a way that we earn the pleasure of Allah. Thereby earning rewards for them as well. All that is required is small effort from our side. For the amount of time we spend browsing our phones before bed, am sure following the above sunnahs before going to sleep shouldn’t be too hard.

 

One Year of Patience, Ten Years of Peace – Greek Proverb

  By: M. Tariq Miskin

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Everyone has heard of the phrase, “Patience is a virtue!” at least once in their lifetime. And every single person has undergone some kind of hardship throughout their life. No matter what the circumstances are, rich or poor, powerful or weak, Young or old, every human has had some kind of worry, anxiety, and depression at least once. But it is most likely that we as humans have been in these situations more than once. This is life!

According to Islam, life in this world is a qualification examination for the hereafter. More specifically, it is a series of tests which get harder and harder as time goes on. The tests we face in the early days of life are much simpler but as we get older it gets tougher. So we are told to brace ourselves for tough questions and learn from our mistakes from each previous test and apply it to the subsequent tests. This will guarantee a good result in the final examination on the judgment day. So what are the requirements to succeed in these tests which Allah has decreed upon us?

mortar-board-degree-certificate-books.jpgIn a university, to follow certain courses one needs to have completed pre-requisite classes to be eligible to follow that particular course. As an undergraduate student I had to follow many of these prerequisite classes before I could attend the core classes required for my degree. Similarly the tests we face in life have prerequisites as well. One such prerequisite of the ‘life test’ and one of the most important is patience. And I have first-hand knowledge of how the prerequisite “patience” has helped me in life general and particularly when I was reading for my master’s degree.

Allah says in the Quran:  “And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the cause of Allah) and As-Sabirin (the patient), and We shall test your facts (i.e., the one who is a liar, and the one who is truthful).”  (47:31)

Certainly, Allah tests all of us sometimes with the bounty and sometimes with the afflictions of fear and hunger. The test may also be by loss of lives, property, health, or wealth. Or we may be tested with not a loss but instead an increase in bounty. Different people are tested differently because Allah knows each and everyone us. For when the best and most righteous of us are tested to the extreme, they strive even harder in Allah’s cause. Allah is all knowing! Most wise!

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As a graduate student I was tested in way I have not experienced in my life before. There were so many hurdles to jump over. I was experiencing so many disappointments, worries, anxieties. On top of it I was away from my family for quite a period of the year, which in itself is a big test. This is where the ‘prerequisite’ of patience came in handy.

Allah also says: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient).”  (1:155)

Allah has taught us that patience is the key to success.. He tells us He will test us with many hardships but if we have patience we will get glad tidings. Certainly in my case, I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel. All my hardships can be conquered by having patience. All I had to do was to keep faith in Allah, and continue my ibadah. The mercy of Allah cannot be quantified in human terms. And there is no doubting his mercy.

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So who does Allah say are the patient? Allah goes on to say: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” (1:156)

This means that those who recite this statement, “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return,” to comfort themselves in the face of their loss and hardships, know that they belong to Allah and that He does what He wills with His servants. They also know that nothing and no deed, even if it was the weight of an atom, will be lost with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Therefore they try to do more ibadah in the cause of Allah especially during such hardships.

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In the end, patience has indeed been rewarding for me. I finally see profit from my hardships as a master’s student. There is no denying that whatever Allah promises us in the Quran, He delivers on them. Allah never fails on His promise!

An Egyptian Pharoah guides a French doctor to Islam

 

By: Selma Mejahabeen Shajahan

 

tutankhamun-golden-mask.jpgFiraun was an Egyptian king in the era of Prophet Musa [AS]. He hated the tribe Bani Israaeel (the tribe of Prophet Musa [AS]) ,as he was told that a boy from that clan will destroy the kingdom of Firaun. This made him so furious that he ordered every son of the Bani Israel tribe to be killed. But Allah is so Great that He made it possible for Musa [AS] to escape this wrath of pharoah and grow up in Firaun’s own palace as his son. The Quran quotes firauns wife’s words that saved Musa (AS):

And Firon’s wife said: A refreshment of the eye to me and to you; do not slay him; maybe he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a son; and they did not perceive.”(Surah Qasas 28:9)

Many years later after being given prophethood, when Musa [AS] invited Firaun towards the truth, he became very angry. For Firaun considered himself to be God and here was the boy he brought up as a son, inviting him to believe in another God (Allah). He refused to believe Musa (AS) despite so many miracles and warnings. Firaun was too proud.

And Pharaoh said, “O eminent ones, I have not known you to have a god other than me. Then ignite for me, O Haman, [a fire] upon the clay and make for me a tower that I may look at the God of Moses. And indeed, I do think he is among the liars.” (Quran 28:38)

Finally Musa (AS) was told by Allah to lead his mistreated tribe away from the tyranny of the pharoah. Firaun had heard of their eascape and decided to attack them. The Quran says:

We brought the tribe of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his troops pursued them out of tyranny and enmity. Then, when he was on the point of drowning, he [Pharaoh] said: “I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the tribe of Israel believes. I am one of the Muslims.” (10:90)

This last-minute belief was not accepted, for it was not sincere. According to the Qur’an, Allah exclaimed:

“What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs.” (10:91-92)

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 It is this ayah on “preserving the body of Firaun” that is one of the many miracles of the Quran. Here is the story of one Dr. Maurice Bucaille, he was the head of the French study team to examine the mummy of Pharaoh (inset) that was brought from Egypt to Paris late in the 1980’s.

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Maurice Bucaille was born to a French parent and, like his family, he grew up a Christian. After his secondary education, he joined Faculty of Medicine, France University. Later, he became the most renowned and cleverest surgeon ever in modern France, but a story happened to change his life completely.

 

France is known for its unique interest in archeology and heritage. When French Socialist President François Mitterrand assumed power in 1981, France asked Egypt, late in the 80’s, for the mummy of Egypt’s pharaoh so that it would conduct a string of monumental and processing experiments. Actually the body of Egypt’s most notorious tyrant was transferred to France, and, strangely, the French president and his ministers as well as senior officials in the country lined up near the plane carrying the pharaoh’s body and bowed down to him as if he were still alive! After the ceremonies of the royal-like reception to Egypt’s pharaoh were over, the tyrant’s mummy was carried nearly in the same red carpet reception way he received.

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Then the mummy was transferred to a special wing at the French Monuments Center, and renowned archeologists, surgeons and anatomists started to conduct a study on this mummy in an attempt to delve into its mysteries. The senior surgeon and the scientist in charge of the study on this mummy of the Pharaoh was Professor Maurice Bucaille. While the processors were busy making restoration to the mummy, their head (Maurice Bucaille) was thinking otherwise. He was trying to discover how this Pharaoh died when, late at night, he concluded his final analyses. The remains of the salt stuck in his body was a shining evidence that he had drowned and that his body was retrieved from the sea swiftly after he drowned; it was also obvious that they rushed to mummify his body so that his body would remain intact!! But Maurice Bucaille puzzled over a question: How did this body — to the exclusion of other mummified bodies of other ancient Egyptians — remain that intact although it was recovered from the sea?” Maurice was busy conducting a final report while thinking as to whether the pharaoh’s body was recovered from the sea and mummified immediately after he drowned. But one of his company whispered in his ear, saying “There is no need to rush about this issue, since the Muslims say that this Pharaoh did drown.”

At first, he vehemently rejected this and did not believe it, citing that such a discovery would be reached only through sophisticated, modern and accurate computers. Another one accompanying him surprised him more when he told him that the Muslims’ Qur’an in which they believe narrates the story that says he drowned and that his body remained intact even after he drowned. He got more surprised and kept on asking” Where did the Muslims’ Qur’an quote these data from while the mummy was not discovered until 1898, i.e. about 200 years only, given that the Qur’an has been recited by Muslims for over 1400 years, and given also that until a few decades ago the entire mankind including Muslims did not know that the ancient Egyptians had mummified their pharaohs?

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Body Of Ramses II- Cairo Museum

Maurice Bucaille stayed up all this night gazing at Pharaoh’s body, thinking deeply of what his fellow researcher told him about the Muslims’ Qur’an explicitly establishing that this body was recovered after drowning, while the Christians’ Gospel (Matthew and Luca) narrated only the story of Pharaoh when he was chasing Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) without mentioning the fate of his body at all.

“Is it believable that Muhammad (peace be upon him) knew about this over 1,000 years ago while I have only just known it?” he thought.

Maurice spent a sleepless night, and asked for a version of the Torah. But it only furthered Bucaille’s astonishment; since even Torah did not narrate that the body was recovered and remained intact due to the processing and restoration, which it did undergo.

France sent back the mummy to Egypt in a splendid glass coffin. But, since he knew about the story circulated by Muslims on the intactness of this body, he decided to pack his baggage and travel to Saudi Arabia where a medical conference happened to be held with a galaxy of Muslim anatomists attending.

There, told them about his discovery, i.e. that Pharaoh’s body was kept intact even after he drowned. One of the conferees opened the Qur’an and read out the Ayah in which Allah Almighty said, “So today We will (safely) deliver you with your body that you may be a sign to the ones succeeding you; and surely many among mankind are indeed heedless of Our signs.” (Yunus: 92)

In his excitement, he stood before the attendants and loudly said, “I have converted to Islam and believed in this Qur’an.”

Back to France, Maurice Bucaille spent 10 years conducting a study as to how far the recently scientific facts match that mentioned in the Holy Qur’an, trying to reassure himself that the Qur’an has never contradicted with any single scientific fact, so that he eventually came up with the conclusion that Allah Almighty said of the Qur’an, “Untruth does not come up to it before (Literally: between its two hands) it nor from behind it; a successive sending down from (One) Ever-Wise, Ever-Praiseworthy.”

He came up with a earth shaking book on the Holy Qur’an which jolted the entire Western states, with the title of the book reading, “The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, The Holy Scriptures Examined In The Light Of Modern Knowledge.”

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The book sold out and even hundreds of thousands of it were translated from French to Arabic, English, Indonesian, Persian, Turkish and German, extending to include nearly all East and West bookstores; one has come to see it with any Egyptian, Moroccan or Gulf person in the US.

In the preface of his book, Maurice Bucaille said, “These scientific areas which Qur’an established to the exclusion of other Scriptures filled me with deep surprise early on, since it never struck my mind to see such a large amount of scientific issues in such a variable and accurate way that they are a mirror image of what has recently been discovered in a book which has existed for more than 13 centuries.!!

The Bible, The Qur’an and Science, The Holy Scriptures Examined In The Light Of Modern Knowledge was such a marvelous piece of writing that, in the year 1988, the French Academy awarded him its prize in history.

An Old Man’s Regret (Fiction)

       By: Dr. Aqeel Azmi

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An old man sat next to a young man on the bus. They looked at each other, smiled and nodded to each other in acknowledgement. They sat in silence for a while until it was broken by the old man. “There is a long way to go; we might as well get to know each other.” They both exchanged names and shook hands and after the introductory small talk they sat in silence once again.

Then the old man said, “You know I envy you.”

The young man asked in surprise, “Why do you envy me?”

“Well because you are young,” he replied.

“I don’t understand,” said the young man quizzically.

“I wonder if you have heard the words of our Prophet (PBUH), “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age..?” [1]

The young man shook his head in the negative.

“Well, the fact is that I wasted my youth chasing after my desires without spending any time worshipping Allah. I was one of those who used to say to others, “Live when you are young, repent and worship when you get old.” But do you know what I deprived myself of by thinking this way?” he asked.

The young man waited for the answer.

“I deprived myself of the shade of Allah’s throne on the Day of Judgment when the sun will be only a mile away and there would be no shade except the shade under His throne,”[2]  he said with regret in his eyes. “And why would I be deprived of that?” he asked.

The young man again waited for the old man to answer himself.

“Well for two reasons mainly. You see there will be seven categories of people who will be shaded under the Throne on the Last Day. [3] And of these seven I deprived myself of these two categories; a young man who grows up worshipping his Lord and a man whose heart is attached to the mosque.”

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The young man listened intently.

“You see, a youth who grows up worshipping Allah will naturally perform every one of his five daily prayers in the mosque with the congregation, thereby falling into the category of the one whose heart is attached to the mosque. Therefore I have missed two easy paths to paradise! Now do you understand why I envy you?” asked the old man.

“Yes, I understand. Thank you for sharing all this with me. I pray at home but I go to the mosque on Fridays to attend the Jummah prayers,” the young man said defensively.

“Young man, I have said quite a lot but I feel that you are not fully convinced that the daily prayers should be made in the mosque with the congregation. If you allow me, I can share with you from the little knowledge that I possess about the duty of every able Muslim man to pray in the mosque,” said the old man gently.

“Yes, I am not very convinced on this matter and yes please share with me what you know,” replied the youth.

The old man adjusted himself in his seat and with a gentle expression explained, “Alright, first of all, what was the practice of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions? Obviously it was to pray every obligatory prayer in the mosque. What would be the point of mosques if no one performed prayers in them? Praying side by side with other Muslims in the mosques is one of the best ways by which the feelings of love, unity and brotherhood can be established. Another question; why is the reward of praying with the congregation 27 times more than praying alone? [4] And praying in congregation is of such importance that Allah ordained the fear-prayer during times of war where groups of companions took turns praying behind the Prophet (PBUH). [5] Of course you will always find a congregation in the mosque but this may not be the case in our homes.

Do you know that the Prophet (PBUH) told us that when a man makes wudu (ablution)  at home and then walks to the mosque, for every step that he takes he is raised in rank and forgiven for a sin? [6] He (PBUH) also told us that all the while the man is in mosque both before and after the prayer, the angels ask Allah to forgive him. [7] Have you ever heard of the merits of praying the morning and night prayers in congregation? The Prophet (PBUH) said that if people knew of the merits, they would come to these prayers even if they had to crawl to do so. [8] Where would they come crawling? To the mosque of course! And what are the merits? Performing Salah (prayers)  the whole night! [9] Prayer in congregation at the mosque is so important that the Prophet (PBUH) did not even excuse a blind companion from coming to the mosque! [10]

Let us imagine that everyone decided that praying in the mosque in congregation is just a Sunnah. What do you think will happen after a couple of generations? The mosques will be totally empty except on Fridays, just as the churches are empty on all days except Sunday. The important sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) would be lost as the great companion Ibn Masood said regarding a certain man, “If you have to perform prayers in your houses, as this man who stays away from the mosque and performs prayers in his house, you will abandon the Sunnah of your Prophet (PBUH) and departure from the Sunnah of your Prophet will lead you astray.”[11] This matter is so important because Allah tells us in the Quran that if we really love Him then we have to follow the Prophet (PBUH) and as a result of that, Allah will love us and forgive us of our sins!” [12]

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The bus passed by a mosque as the young man sat quietly in deep thought. Suddenly the old man got up from his seat and said, “It is time for me to get off. Oh! They are calling the adhaan as well. Perfect timing!” They shook hands, exchanged salaams and the old man vanished into the crowd of people who got off the bus. The old man crossed the road and made his way to the mosque to attend the congregational prayer.

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After performing the prayer the old man walked to the shoe rack to retrieve his shoes. When he turned around to exit the mosque he saw the same young man crossing the road with a group of people who had exited the mosque. Then he quickly boarded the bus that was standing at the halt. The old man’s face lit up with a smile as he made a silent heartfelt prayer for the young man who he never saw again.

 

 

Footnotes:

  1. Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said; “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.” (Shu’ab al-Imān, Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani)
  1. ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “The sun will be brought near to the earth and the people will sweat. For some people, the sweat will come up to their heels; for some it will come halfway up their shins; for some it will come up to their knees; for some it will come up to their backsides; for some it will come up to their hips; for some it will come up to their shoulders; for some it will come up to their necks; for some it will come up to the middle of their mouths; and some of them will be comepletely covered with their sweat.” (Narrated by Imaam Ahmad in his Musnad]
  1. Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are seven whom Allaah will shade with His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His: the just ruler; a young man who grows up worshipping his Lord; a man whose heart is attached to the mosque; two men who love one another for the sake of Allaah and meet and part on that basis; a man who is called by a woman of rank and beauty and says ‘I fear Allaah’; a man who gives in charity and conceals it to such an extent that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives; and a man who remembers Allaah when he is alone, and his eyes fill up.” (Agreed upon, narrated by al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others).
  1. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:  “Prayer in congregation is twenty seven times better than prayer prayed individually.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
  1. “When you (O Messenger Muhammad) are among them, and lead them in As-Salaah (the prayer), let one party of them stand up [in Salaah (prayer)] with you taking their arms with them; when they finish their prostrations, let them take their positions in the rear and let the other party come up which have not yet prayed, and let them pray with you” [al-Nisa’ 4:102]
  1. The Prophet (PBUH)said; “Whoever makes wuḍū’ at home and then walks to the House of Allāh to perform one of the five prayers, every step he takes wipes away a sin and the next step raises his status with Allāh.” [Muslim]
  1. Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) said: “The reward of the prayer offered by a person in congregation is twenty five times greater than that of the prayer offered in one’s house or in the market (alone). And this is because if he performs ablution and does it perfectly and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for every step he takes towards the mosque, he is upgraded one degree in reward and his one sin is taken off (crossed out) from his accounts (of deeds). When he offers his prayer, the angels keep on asking Allah’s Blessings and Allah’s forgiveness for him as long as he is (staying) at his Musalla. They say, ‘O Allah! Bestow Your blessings upon him, be Merciful and kind to him.’ And one is regarded in prayer as long as one is waiting for the prayer.” [Sahih Bukhari]
  1. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him)reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “If they knew the merits of Salah after nightfall (`Isha’) and the morning (Fajr) Salah, they would come to them even if they had to crawl to do so.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
  1. `Uthman bin `Affan (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: “One who performs `Isha’ prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed Salah for half of the night. And one who performs the Fajr prayer in congregation, is as if he has performed Salah the whole night.”[Muslim]
  1. A blind man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have no one to guide me to the mosque.” He asked the Messenger of Allah for permission to pray at his house and the Prophet granted it to him. But when the man turned to leave, the Prophet called him and said, “Can you hear the adhan?” He said, “Yes”. The Prophet then said, “Respond to it (by going to the mosque)” [Muslim]. According to a version narrated by Abu Dawood (552) and Ibn Maajah (792) he said: “I do not think there is any concession for you.”
  1. It was recorded in Sahih Muslim that Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said: He who likes to meet Allah tomorrow (i.e., on the Day of the Resurrection) as a Muslim, should strictly observe the Salah (Prayers) when the Adhan (call to prayer) is announced for them. Allah has expounded to your Prophet (PBUH) the ways of right guidance, and these (the Prayers) are part of the right guidance. If you have to perform Salah in your houses, as this man who stays away (from the mosque) and performs Salah in his house, you will have abandon the Sunnah (acts, sayings or approvals of the Prophet) of your Prophet (peace be upon him), and the departure from the Sunnah of your Prophet (peace be upon him) will lead you astray. I have seen the time when no one stayed behind except a well-known hypocrite. I also witnessed that a man was brought swaying (on account of weakness) between two men until he was set up in a row (in the mosque).
  1. Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Quran and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah Aal-E-Imraan 3:31]

 

Hijab – Are Muslim Women Oppressed?

By: Aicha Bentley

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               “This is a free country. You don’t have to wear that anymore.”  I paused and turned toward the person who addressed me, upon hearing this statement. I smiled and said, “Yes, this is a free country, but I am still a Muslim.”

Its statements like this which highlight the confusion many people have when it comes to the subject of the hijab. There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer for those who may have questions. A quick google search will not only give you many different answers, but will, sometimes, give extremely false information about hijab and its purpose.

The questions usually involve the idea of oppression and male domination. Did a man force us into this veil? Our father? Our husband? Do we do it out of fear? Was it part of a male dominated culture, which we are afraid to leave behind? In order to answer the questions surrounding hijab properly, one need look no further than the source; the Quran.

“And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment …” (Quran 24:31)

                In accordance with the Quran, we are instructed in every aspect of our lives. Hijab is one of those instructions. These instructions didn’t come from a man, but from Allah. For this reason we not only wear hijab in obedience, but we wear it with joy. Every time we put on a headscarf, we are not only obeying Allah, but we are wearing a sign for the world to see. We are making a statement. I am Muslim.

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This is where it gets confusing to many. Not all Muslim women wear hijab. I know, I just said that we are instructed to do so, but, just like Christianity and the bible, there are many different interpretations of Quran. Some women may feel that this verse means something altogether different than what I feel it says. It all boils down to the woman herself. It’s a choice. A decision made out of personal beliefs and what feels right to her. Does that sound like oppression to you? Sure, it does not.

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Many of us have fought to wear hijab. It’s that important to us. Honestly, though, we shouldn’t have to go through all this. It’s a new millennium. In this day and age, women shouldn’t be judging one another by what we are wearing. We’ve come too far. The next time you think of hijab, don’t think oppression, but think, instead, women’s rights.

How is it women’s rights to believe we must wear something over my head all day, every day? For starters, we do not wear it at home. We do not wear it with our husbands or with our families. Hijab is meant as, not just a form of obedience, but a shield against the outside world. We wear it when we leave our homes. When we are in the presence of men of non-relation. Once again, this is not because our husbands or fathers feel the need to hide us away. This is not some insecurity in our culture. It’s our own choice, to follow the words of the Quran. To trust in Allah and accept his guidance in all things.

“Oh Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors)….”         (Quran 33:59)

             8114334-Pile-of-Broken-Bricks-Stock-Photo    In the future, if you come across the path of a Muslim woman, don’t feel sorry for her. Don’t cast judgment. Ask yourself what kind of woman it must take to wear something so controversial, so misunderstood, into a public which challenges her at every turn. Certainly not an oppressed woman. Wearing hijab takes courage. When you see a woman wearing it, you are seeing a sign of faith and strength.

No, we are not oppressed.