My Ramadan Diary: 9-30-2007

30 09 2007

Subhan’Allah, I can’t believe Ramadan is nearly over. We are now approaching the last ten days of Ramadan. I have to look back and think, “What have I accomplished? Was it enough?” I don’t think we can ever do enough. We often go into Ramadan with many goals and end up exhausted halfway through and fail to meet most of them. Then, we feel guilty and disappointed with ourselves. I have been guilty of this myself. However, I have come to realize that all I can do is try and Thank Allah that I was  blessed with another opportunity and that I accomplished as much as I did. Truly, It could almost always be worse.I haven’t been fasting the past few days. Insh’Allah I will be able to fast in the next couple days.  It’s really lonely when everyone around is fasting and I’m not. I don’t like to eat in front of a fasting person. I remember when I worked smelling and seeing my co workers eating used to make fasting much harder. 

But anyway, we’re going into the last ten days now.  Insh’Allah we still have time to accomplish much more if we put our mind to it. No time like the present. In fact, the last ten days is when the Prophet(saw) would strive even harder in worship.

A little something on the last 10 days of Ramadan (insh’Allah will post more on Laylat al-Qadr in another post):

Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and companions.The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to strive hard (in worship) during the last ten days of Ramadaan in a way that he did not strive at any other times.

Muslim, 1175, fromAa’ishah). Among the things he did were secluding himself in I’tikaaf and seeking Laylat al-Qadr during this time. (Al-Bukhaari, 1913; Muslim, 1169). In al-Saheehayn it is reported from the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that when the last ten days of Ramadaan came, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) would stay up at night, wake his family and gird his loins. (al-Bukhaari, 1920; Muslim, 1174). Muslim added: he strove hard and girded his loins.

Her phrase “girded his loins” is a metaphor for his preparing himself to worship and strive hard in worship, more than usual. It has the meaning of “rolling up one’s sleeves” to worship (i.e. getting ready to make a great deal of effort).

It was also said that it was a metaphor for keeping away from women and abstaining from sexual relations.

The phrase “stay up at night” means that he would stay awake, spending the night in prayer, etc. It was reported in another hadeeth thatAa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “I never saw the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recite the entire Qur’aan in one night, or spend a whole night in prayer until the morning, or fast an entire month, except in Ramadaan.”

(Sunan al-Nasaa’i, 1641). The wordsstay up at night” may mean that he spent most of the night in worship, or that he did not stay up for the entire night, but he did that at the times of ‘Ishaa and Suhoor, and other times, in which case it would mean that he stayed up for most of the night.

The phrase “and wake his family” means that he would wake his wives to pray qiyaam. It is known that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to wake his wives all year round, but he used to wake them to spend part of the night in qiyaam. In Saheeh al-Bukhaari it is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) woke up one night and said, “Subhaan Allaah! What tribulations have come down tonight! What treasure has come down tonight! Who will wake up the dwellers of the apartments? There may be women who are clothed in this world and naked in the Hereafter.”

(al-Bukhaari, 1074). It was also reported (in Saheeh al-Bukhaari) that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to wake ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) when he wanted to pray Witr. (al-Bukhaari, 952). But when he woke his wives during the last ten nights of Ramadaan, this was more persistent than at other times of the year.

The fact that he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did this indicates the importance he attached to worshipping his Lord and making the most of this special time.

The Muslim should follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), for he is the best example, and he should strive hard in worshipping Allaah. He should not waste the hours of these days and nights. For we do not know, perhaps this time will never come again, for the spoiler of pleasures, i.e., death, which must come to all men, may come and snatch him and his life will end; then he will feel regret at the time when regret will be of no avail.

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Great Women in Islam:Ramlah Bint Abu Sufyan

30 09 2007

        ____________________________________________________

       Ramlah Bint Abu Sufyan

____________________________________________________

Abu Sufyan ibn Harb could not conceive of anyone among the Quraysh who would dare challenge his authority or go against his orders. He was after all, the sayyid or chieftain of Makkah who had to be obeyed and followed.

His daughter, Ramlah, known as Umm Habibah, however dared to
challenge his authority when she rejected the deities of the
Quraysh and their idolatrous ways. Together with her husband,
Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh, she put her faith in Allah alone and
accepted the message of His prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah.

Abu Sufyan tried with all the power and force at his disposal to
bring back his daughter and her husband to his religion and the
religion of their forefathers.  But he did not succeed. The
faith which was embedded in the heart of Ramlah was too strong
to b e uprooted by the hurricanes of Abu Sufyans fury.

Abu Sufyan remained deeply worried and concerned by his
daughter’s acceptance of Islam. He did not know how to face the
Quraysh after she had gone against his will and he was clearly
powerless to prevent her from following Muhammad.  When the
Quraysh reali zed though that Abu Sufyan himself was enraged by
Ramlah and her husband, they were emboldened to treat them
harshly. They unleashed the full fury of their persecution
against them to such a degree that life in Makkah became
unbearable.

In the fifth year of his mission, the Prophet, peace be on him,
gave permission to the Muslims to migrate to Abyssinia. Ramlah,
her little daughter Habibah, and her husband were among those
who left.

Abu Sufyan and the Quraysh leaders found it difficult to accept
that a group of Muslims had slipped out of their net of
persecution and was enjoying the freedom to hold their beliefs
and practice their religion in the land of the Negus. They
therefore sen d messengers to the Negus to seek their
extradition.  The messengers tried to poison the mind of the
Negus against the Muslims but after examining the Muslims
beliefs and listening to the Quran being recited, the Negus
concluded: “What has been revealed to your Prophet Muhammad and
what Jesus the son of Mary preached came from the same source.”

The Negus himself announced his faith in the one true God and
his acceptance of the prophethood of Muhammad, peace be on him.
He also announced his determination to protect the Muslim
muhajirin.

The long journey on the road of hardship and tribulation had
finally led to the oasis of serenity. So Umm Habibah felt. But
she did not know that the new-found freedom and sense of peace
were later to be shattered. She was to be put through a test of
the most severe and harrowing kind.

One night, it is related, as Umm Habibah was asleep she had a
vision in which she saw her husband in the midst of a fathomless
ocean covered by wave upon wave of darkness. He was in a most
perilous situation. She woke up, frightened.  But she did not
wish to tell her husband or anyone else what she had seen.

The day after that ominous night was not yet through when
Ubaydallah ibn Jahsh announced his rejection of Islam and his
acceptance of Christianity. What a terrible blow! Ramlah’s sense
of peace was shattered. She did not expect this of her husband
who pre sented her forthwith with the choice of a divorce or of
accepting Christianity. Umm Habibah had three options before
her. She could either remain with her husband and accept his
call to become a Christian in which case she also would commit
apostasy and – God forbid – deserve ignominy in this world and
punishment in the hereafter. This was something she resolved she
would never do even if she were subjected to the most horrible
torture. Or, she could return to her father’s house in Makkah –
but she knew h e remained a citadel of shirk and she would be
forced to live under him, subdued and suppressing her faith. Or,
she could stay alone in the land of the Negus as a displaced
fugitive – without country, without family and without a
supporter.

She made the choice that she considered was the most pleasing to
God. She made up her mind to stay in Abyssinia until such time
as God granted her relief. She divorced her husband who lived
only a short while after becoming a Christian.  He had given
himse lf over to frequenting wine merchants and consuming
alcohol, the “mother of evils”. This undoubtedly helped to
destroy him.

Umm Habibah stayed in Abyssinia for about ten years. Towards the
end of this time, relief and happiness came. It came from an
unexpected quarter.

One morning bright and early, there was a loud knocking on her
door. It was Abrahah, the special maid-servant of the Negus.
Abrahah was beaming with joy as she greeted Umm Habibah and
said: “The Negus sends his greetings and says to you that
Muhammad, the Messenger of God, wants you to marry him and that
he has sent a letter in which he has appointed him as his wakil
to contract the marriage between you and him. If you agree, you
are to appoint a wakil to act on your behalf.”

Umm Habibah was in the clouds with happiness. She shouted to
herself: “God has given you glad tidings. God has given you glad
tidings.” She took off her jewelry- her necklace and bracelets –
and gave them to Abrahah. She took off her rings too and gave th
em to her. And indeed if she had possessed all the treasures of
the world, she would have given them to Abrahah at that moment
of sheer joy. Finally she said to Abrahah: “I appoint Khalid ibn
Said ibn al-Aas to act as wakil on my behalf for he is the clos
est person to me.”

In the palace of the Negus, set in the midst of beautiful
gardens and luxuriant vegetation and in one of the lavishly
decorated, sumptuously furnished and brightly lit halls, the
group of Muslims living in Abyssinia gathered. They included
Jafar ibn Abi T alib, Khalid ibn Said, Abdullah ibn Hudhafah
as-Sahmi and others. They had gathered to witness the conclusion
of the marriage contract between Umm Habibah, the daughter of
Abu Sufyan, and Muhammad, the Messenger of God. When the
marriage was finalized, th e Negus addressed the gathering: “I
praise God, the Holy, and I declare that there is no god but
Allah and that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger and
that He gave the good tidings to Jesus the son of Mary.

“The Messenger of God, peace be on him, has requested me to
conclude the marriage contract between him and Umm Habibah the
daughter of Abu Sufyan. I agreed to do what he requested and on
his behalf I give her a mahr or dowry of four hundred gold
dinars.” He handed over the amount to Khalid ibn Said who stood
up and said: “All praise is due to God. I praise Him and seek
His help and forgiveness and I turn to Him in repentance. I
declare that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger whom He
has sent with t he religion of guidance and truth so that it
might prevail over all other forms of religion even if the
disbelievers were to dislike this.

“I have agreed to do what the Prophet, peace be upon him, has
requested and acted as the wakil on behalf of Umm Habibah, the
daughter of Abu Sufyan. May God bless His Messenger and his
wife.

“Congratulations to Umm Habibah on account of the goodness which
God has ordained for her.”

Khalid took the mahr and handed it over to Umm Habibah. The
Sahabah thereupon got up and prepared to leave but the Negus
said to them: “Sit down for it is the practice of the Prophets
to serve food at marriages.”

There was general rejoicing at the court of the Negus as the
guests sat down again to eat and celebrate the joyous occasion.
Umm Habibah especially could hardly believe her good fortune and
she later described how she was eager to share her happiness.
She said: “When I received the money as mahr, I sent fifty
mithqals of gold to Abrahah who had brought me the good news and
I said to her:  ‘I gave you what I did when you gave me the good
news because at that time I did not have any money.’

“Shortly afterwards, Abrahah came to me and returned the gold.
She also produced a case which contained the necklace I had
given to her. She returned that to me and said: ‘The King has
instructed me not to take anything from you and he his commanded
the women in his household to present you with gifts of
perfume.’

“On the following day, she brought me ambergris, safron and
aloes and said: ‘I have a favor to ask of you.’ ‘What is it?’ I
asked. ‘I have accepted Islam ,’ she said, ‘and now follow the
religion of Muhammad. Convey to him my salutation of peace and
let h im know that I believe in Allah and His Prophet. Please
don’t forget.’ She then helped me to get ready for my journey to
the Prophet.

“When I met the Prophet, peace be on him, I told him all about
the arrangements that were made for the marriage and about my
relationship with Abrahah. I told him she had become a Muslim
and conveyed to him her greetings of peace. He was filled with
joy a t the news and said: ‘Wa alayha as-salam wa rahmatullahi
was barakatuhu and on her be peace and the mercy and blessings
of God. ”

_________________________________________________

Source: jannah.org





Islamophobia Test- Will People React To Woman Being Abused While Wearing Hijab??

28 09 2007




My Ramadan Diary: 9-26-2007 (Health, Weight loss, and the Fast)

26 09 2007

 

I’ve been cooking and cleaning and cooking and cleaning and….well, you get the point. It is high season for iftar gatherings right now.  Plus, I have been cooking for some sisters in the community. So, I’ve been pretty flat out. 

For those unfamiliar with Iftar gatherings. It’s basically a large dinner (Americans think of Thanksgiving Dinner). Depending on where you live/the size of the Muslim community in your area, you can expect about 3 invites per week.  If you live in a smaller community of course it will be less. If you live in a Muslim country then you can pretty much expect and invite 7 days a week.

I love the unity and the gatherings for Iftar. I think it’s wonderful to earn the rewards and gather together to maintain love and  ties between the community. However, I can’t help but notice that the food seems to always be quite fattening. Few gatherings I have been to offer healthy alternatives. This is really disappointing to me. Yeah, it’s ok to indulge once in awhile but some people are eating like this everyday. After not eating all day to have a huge spread like that is just inviting weight gain.  In fact, my first Ramadan I gained 10 lbs. Who would think that you gain weight while fasting! It’s absurd. Right? Wrong. It’s common. Very common. Since that time, I have endevored to take a healthy dish or some fresh fruit to the host’s house.  It’s a small gesture but it is good all around. The host usually appreciates it. Plus, it serves the purpose of having at least something healthy there.  Another tip, eat smaller portions. Anyone, who has been to an iftar gathering knows that if you don’t eat at least a little bit of several items you will offend your host. So, eat just that….a little bit of a few items.  Remember to compliment the host heavily on the food too. That way, even if you don’t eat a whole lot she/he knows you enjoyed it.

Click this link for an article on how to fast healthy during Ramadan:

http://health.iafrica.com/dietonline/general/ramadan.htm

 Another thing that happens during Ramadan is no exercise. Obviously if you exercise during the day you are going to be miserable and probably get dehydrated.  So, I simply change the routine and go to the gym after I break my fast. If this isn’t an option (as it often is not during Iftar season as gatherings last into the night), then I exercise at home using videos and on demand programs offered by my cable network. I try to do at least thirty minutes a night.  The programs my cable provider offers are widely varied from hip hop dance exercises to tae bo to pilates and yoga.  They also offer simple walking programs. So, there’s something for everybody. Exercise DVDs are also really cheap these days.  It’s really a great asset.  Basically, as long as you can incorporate some exercise it’s good.

Shahrazad has a Qur’an reading blog circle going. If you want to check it out insh’Allah click this link:

http://shahrzaad.wordpress.com/circle-of-unity/





Hey, I’m No Expert!

25 09 2007

Well, I don’t know exactly when it happend but it appears that my non-Muslim friends and family  have declared me their “Official Expert and Consultant on everything Muslim, Islam, or anything remotley related to the two.”  This became all too apparent yesterday when my phone began ringing off the hook. What did everyone want to discuss? The President of Iran’s visit to NYC. 

This process is repeated anytime anything that may be remotley related to Islam or a Muslim is mentioned in the news. Though, my aquaintences tend to group Islam, Muslims, Middle East, Arabs, and any other dominatley Muslim country in the same category. So, you can rightfully imagine I keep well in touch with my relatives.

 It’s really quite funny that people expect me to have an opinion about anything Muslim, Islam, Middle Eastern, etc related.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually ALWAYS have an opinion and am all to happy to give it. However, it’s strange to be deferred to and a huge responsibility on my part. It is a responsibility because I am these people’s only link to Islam and Muslims and as I mentioned before they tend to have a very broad definition of what that encompasses. Therefore, what I say (or don’t say) will make an impact on their views of  Islam in general.  Alas,  I’m not an expert on Islam or even the culture of the various “Muslim Countries.”In fact, I am highly lacking in the latter. As for the former, I know the basics but certainly I’m no expert. Neither am I a pyschologist so I don’t know “why those people do what they do.”  And That’s the crux of the matter.

I don’t think any muslim would discourage asking questions. However, it has to be said that we don’t all know what we’re talking about all the time. 😉 Sometimes, we don’t know the answers to questions regarding international politics. Sometimes, we have misconceptions ourselves that taint our views of current events.  Sometimes, we don’t even know the answers to questions about Islam.  As Muslims, if we don’t know something or can’t say something constructive we should not be too arrogant to admit it and go ask someone who does know. As for Non Muslims, feel free to keep asking (taking into consideration the above points) and if we don’t know something insh’Allah we’ll find someone who does and relay the information or point you in their direction. 😀

By the way, I also saw Donald Trump last night on CNN being interviewed about politics. I may be a bit out of the loop but uhhh why were they interviewing him? Honestly, I have no idea.





US Companies Aim Advertising At Muslim Americans

24 09 2007
US Companies Aim Advertising at Muslim Americans
By Mohamed Elshinnawi
Washington
19 September 2007

Watch Advertising for Muslims / Windows Broadband  video clip
Watch Advertising for Muslims / Windows Dialup  video clip

A recent study by the nation’s largest advertising firm shows that the Muslim American community has an estimated purchasing power of about $170 billion. JWT Advertising conducted the study, and it is now working with a wide variety of companies to develop strategies to attract Muslim American customers. VOA’s Mohamed Elshinnawi examined the new trend in Dearborn, Michigan, near Detroit, where there is a dense population of Muslims.

These children are participating in an advertising campaign
The six to eight million Muslims in the U.S. are beginning to be sought after by marketers and consumer goods manufacturers

JWT Advertising says companies in the Detroit area are leading the way in using the cultural aspects of the Muslim faith to expand their share of the Muslim American market.

Ann Mack is JWT’s director of trends spotting. “Some marketers — I am not going to name them specifically — are having Ramadan advertisements,” she says, “and because they are speaking specifically to these populations, they will appeal, they will resonate and those consumers will tend to gravitate towards these brands.”

The study shows that the six to eight million Muslims in the United States are looking for recognition and respect, and that companies should make sure they are not neglecting or offending their community.

One company that is not is the Swedish furniture company IKEA. It has a store near Dearborn that initially attracted few Muslim shoppers. So the company consulted with Nasser Baydoun, Chairman of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce. He recalls, “What we were able to do was to teach them how to market to our community — how does our community get its information, how do they choose which store they go to and how does IKEA create a working staff that is friendly to the community.”

Ikea staff benefited from the diversity training, and became familiar with the Muslim community’s needs. Lisa Allen is IKEA’s public relations director. “When we are speaking to Arab Americans,” she says, “we can connect with them on that level, talk about their needs. For IKEA, it is all about how our product solutions fit your needs and your life style.”

A team of the company’s designers and marketers visited Muslim Americans’ homes to see how to adapt the stores’ products to customers’ customs and preferences. One plan is to offer decorations for the holy month of Ramadan and to add halal meals to the store’s food menu. Muslim American shopper Ismail Hakki says he is looking forward to seeing such offerings. “Like decorations for Ramadan, for the Eid [celebration after Ramadan] too, like some [halal] food or some cloth for the Eid.

Muslim-Americans, wear clothes which are marketed to everyone
Muslim Americans wear clothes that are marketed to everyone, as well as items specifically for them

Other companies are planning innovative approaches to cater to Muslim Americans’ needs. Amal Berry is the vice president of Comerica Bank. “Currently we are underway in a research project to understand exactly what Sharia law [Islamic law] says and whether the bank will be able to provide true Islamic bank products and services.”

McDonald’s in Detroit is offering halal chicken, Rite-Aide drug stores have Arabic signs and Comcast cable network is carrying the first nationwide Muslim American TV channel.

Fred Eaton is Comcast’s director of corporate affairs. “Comcast offered Bridges TV the opportunity for carriage on our cable system. In fact, Detroit was the market where Bridges TV was first launched,” he explained.

Marketing experts say advertising for the Muslim American community is a win-win situation. They say American companies will use it to expand their market share, while Muslim Americans will enjoy recognition and respect.





Former Christian Suhaib Webb Talks About Conversion to Islam

23 09 2007