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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]

 

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What Is Halal? Why All The Fuss?

By: M. Tariq Miskin

 

logo-halal.pngThe confusion regarding halal meat is not a new phenomenon, and due to the lack of knowledge on what exactly halal means, it has led to the rise in misinformation among non-muslims regarding halal certification, which is primarily intended for the benefit of Muslims. Halal essentially means “permissible”, which includes food as well as all actions and deeds which are made permissible by Allah, and almost every Muslim knows the difference between haram and halal food. But why do we have to eat only halal food? What are the benefits of eating halal?

Allah mentions in the Qu’ran;

“Therefore, eat of that on which Allah’s name has been mentioned if you are believers in His verses.” (Qur’an 6:118)

This verse clearly indicates that Allah has decreed when it comes to eating meat items, we have to consume slaughtered meat on which Allah’s name has been mentioned. Therefore, Allah has given permission for us to eat meat which is slaughtered in His name.

Allah also goes on to say;

“Do not eat anything over which the name of Allah has not been mentioned. To do so is abomination. The Satans inspire their friends to dispute with you. If you obeyed them, you would then be idolaters.” (Qur’an 6:121)

Thus it is clear that it is a major sin to eat meat which has not been slaughtered in the halal method (i.e. mentioning Allah’s name before slaughtering and following proper procedure). Furthermore, it is not permissible to eat meat on which Allah’s name has not been mentioned even if the slaughtering was done by a Muslim.

By these two ayahs alone we can clearly see the importance of halal food for us Muslims. But Allah’s guidance regarding anything is not without reason. There is infinite wisdom to Allah’s words in the Qur’an. Consequently, we can assume that meat slaughtered in the halal method has also other benefits.

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What is the Halal way of slaughter?

Halal meat when compared to other meat, gives us many health benefits. First of all, if implemented the proper way, halal slaughtering is very sanitary, safe and a humane method of slaughtering animals. To be slaughtered in the Islamic way, the animal has have led a pure, healthy life. It should have been treated humanely during its lifetime with no mistreatment or causing of any pain in any way possible. It should not have been restricted in its movement, and should have been given fresh air to breath. It should have been treated for any diseases during its lifetime, fed a healthy feed and clean water, given the proper immunization etc. Even during the sacrifice, the animal should never be slaughtered in front of other animals and the procedure should be as less painful for the animal as possible. Even the knife should not be shown to the animal until the moment of sacrifice. Therefore, the whole procedure is done in such a way that it is one of the most humane methods of slaughtering.

For example, it has been shown that the Islamic method of slaughtering is much less painful than other methods such as captive bolt stunning, which is the most common method used in the western world. For instance, a study using EEG electrodes on sheep conducted by Wilhelm Schulze at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany in 1978 concluded that if carried properly, the halal method and kosher method of slaughter is painless for the animal. Also in 2008, the French Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing published a report which essentially summarized that the religious methods of slaughter (halal and kosher etc.) is equal or even superior to other methods of slaughter. It is concluded in these reports that the religious slaughter causes less stress and trauma to the animal in comparison to other methods.

What’s so special about Halal slaughter?

The halal method incorporates the slitting of the carotid artery and the jugular vein in the neck of the animal with a sharp knife. Since the spinal cord is left intact the neural connection between the brain and the heart is not disrupted and the heart keeps pumping blood until all the blood is drained from the animal. This rapid loss of blood from the body makes the animal lose consciousness fast. Therefore, the animal feels almost no pain.

Moreover, in the halal method, the blood of an animal, which may carry toxins, bacteria, viruses and parasites, is completely drained. Therefore, the meat is less likely to be contaminated by deadly pathogens unlike other methods and is considered more hygienic. Due to halal meat containing less germs it may even have a longer shelf life and can be more durable than other meats.

Two basic principles of religion are:

  1. Halal – which Allah and His Messenger have permitted
  2. Haram – which Allah and His Messenger have forbidden

Allah says in the Quran:

“And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.” (6:153)

It is evident that Allah has forbidden or made permissible certain things with good reason. Even though, it might not be apparent for us all the time, with his infinite wisdom  Allah has commanded us to lead a healthy life, mainly because a healthy person is able to worship and carry out Allah’s commandments better than a sick person. Thus it is advantageous for all of us to eat and drink from that which Allah has made permissible so that we may gain the benefits not only in this world but also the hereafter as well. Inshallah.

 

Whisperings Of The Devil

By Noori Tirmizi Passela

Very so often it is easy to fall back into old habits, particularly when it comes tocute-meow-cat remembering Allah and avoiding the lure of worldly temptations. Gradually, despite even our best efforts, prayer and zhikr end up getting relegated to the sidelines of our lives in favor of work, family, leisure, and those rare moments when you just want to while away your time to the soothing purr of Youtube cat videos.

To each his (and her) own poison, is what I myself admit.

Hence, the adage ‘know your enemy’ has never been more relevant than a time like now. God works in mysterious ways, but the Devil lacks that brand of subtlety. So, now that we’ve identified our villain, it would also do ourselves well to conduct a brief background check.

Who or what is Shaytan?

You might recall Shaytan’s most memorable appearance in history in the span of a simple, yet telling, verse from the Holy Quran:

‘And (remember) when We said to the angels: “Prostrate yourselves unto Adam.” So they prostrated themselves, except Iblis. He was one of the jinn; he disobeyed the command of his Lord.’ (18:50)

While borne of a ‘smokeless fire’ (Sahih Muslim), jinn are still creations of Allah and like the angels and mankind, were brought to life for the sole purpose of worshipping Him. Which makes Iblis’ act of defiance all the more damning when taking our Creator’s wrath into account.

‘(Allah) said: “Then get out from here; for verily, you are outcast.”

‘”And verily My Curse is on you until the Day of Recompense.”’ (38:77-78)

Hence, if we can pin a defining trait unto Shaytan, it is that of willful disobedience, wrought by a strong sense of misplaced pride. Coupled with a knack for mischief and treachery, Shaytan certainly makes for a force to be reckoned with. Aadam (A.S.) and Hawwa (Eve) certainly found that out the hard way, and so has every single person you’ve ever known, at some point in their lives.

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What is meant by the ‘Whisperings of Shaytan’?

How many of you can honestly state, without a shred of doubt, that you have never delayed or just completely disregarded an act of worship in favor of pursuing activities which vary on the scale of relevance to your spiritual health?

Here is where I hang my head in shame. Blame it on the free Wi-Fi.

Or this could be the part where we conduct a crash course in the exact machinations of Shaytan’s modus operandi. Granted, your mileage may vary when it comes to the limitations of ‘exact’.

However, I’m sure you’ve all at least had a few moments like mine, where, despite your best intentions, you find yourself straying from the path of truth and virtue. If you’re confident that you haven’t, then I commend you on your state of denial.

Distraction is quite possibly Shaytan’s most finely-honed weapon in Hell’s vast arsenal. Made a resolution to start your preparations for Salah as soon as the first word of the Azaan rang out? Too bad your Facebook alert went off at the exact same moment. What about that time when you vowed to start reading the Quran? Oh wait, you dozed off watching sitcoms after stuffing your face with Mum’s cooking.

Feelings of envy and distrust are also common methods by which Shaytan creates discord. When the grass on the other side of the fence always appears greener, it’s sadly quite natural to find yourself blaming your neighbor for hogging all the luck whilst neglecting to examine the shadows in your own garden. Jealousy is a steep curve and it always leads downhill.

Let us also not forget how each and every sin of ours lends credence to Shaytan’s helping hand, from the seemingly harmless white lie blurted to get out of trouble to the more troubling thoughts that plague those who would go to the extent of harming their fellow human beings to satisfy whatever worldly desire stirred by these whisperings.

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A ‘whisper’ may be but a breath, but more often than not, a single breath is all it takes to put out the light.

Well, that was a cheerful discussion. Now how do we avoid falling prey to these whispers?

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“I seek refuge in Allah, from Satan, the Rejected.”

Many a time would have passed without us pausing to consider the significance of these words. Words, indeed, that we let slide too often in the commencement of our prayers, Quran recitation, and, sometimes, daily activities.

But It’s as simple as that.

Surah al Nas embodies this concept perfectly:

‘Say: “I seek refuge with (Allah) the Lord of mankind, the King of mankind, the Ilah (God) of mankind, from the evil of the whisperers (devil who whispers evil in the hearts of men) who withdraws (from his whispering in one’s heart after one remembers Allah). Who whispers in the breasts of mankind. Of jinn and men.’ (114: 1-6)

The challenge lies in the strength of one’s Imaan (faith) and if they truly have the intention to preserve it from the stain of evil thoughts.

So seek strength through constant remembrance of Allah in prayer and zhikr. Learn the meaning of the words which too often leave our lips without a thought. With knowledge comes power and the weight behind these verses will eventually leave their mark.

Of course, noble deeds cannot come into fruition without the niyyah (intention) to propel them. Take time to reflect on what you’ve learned from past mistakes and whether these missteps were really a sign that you just might be on the way to something better.

Back when I was in school, we learned that the word ‘Islam’ is derived from the root ‘slm’ which means ‘to submit, surrender’. It is a simple lesson that has since stuck with me, making it apt that we, as Muslims, submit completely to Allah.

Therefore, let us do just that and reject the path of defiance, inshallah.