Comprehensive Packing List and Excellent Tips for Hajj

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Courtesy: www.productivemuslim.com

When you travel for the land of Makkah & Madinah, it is a great journey that is not only far off but is also a journey that reminds us of afterlife and our duties to the people behind us.

According to Islam you should clear all your liabilities and pay off all your dues before the spiritual journey. You are also bound by Islam to write a Will before you leave.

Following is a check list of items to be carried for the pilgrimage. You may need more things; it is always better to prepare the list so you do not forget any items which you might need.

  • Ahram
  • Towel
  • An Umbrella
  • Pair of Sleepers
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, if necessary
  • Shampoo & soap
  • Few packs of biscuits and other dry food items
  • Packet of tissues and toilet tissue roll
  • Alarm Clock
  • Basic medicines Disprin, Brufen, Strepsils, cough syrup, Immodium
  • Face and hands washing soap, detergent or cloth washing soap
  • One or two cups and glasses
  • Few pairs of socks
  • Nail Cutter
  • Scissors
  • A small knife for cutting fruits (keep this in your big luggage not in hand luggage)
  • Camera and sufficient batteries. Take extra batteries (keep this in your big luggage not in hand luggage)
  • A prayer mat if needed.
  • One or two extra travel bags. This is for when you go to some place for a longer period or for bringing gifts on way back.
  • Some extra packed juices or soft drinks. They are available but it’s better to have one or two in your bag as well.
  • Face cream or cold cream or Patroleum Jelly Its very hot but due to Air-conditioning it’s also very dry.
  • A travel iron
  • Tea bags and water heater for making te

Some of the other things you need to make sure you know.

  • Attend the Hajj seminars and workshops conducted by your Hajj tour company (tour-operator)
  • Make sure you have all the necessary travel documents before you leave for Hajj. These Items are:
  • Your Passport
  • Your Identity Card
  • Your Airline Ticket
  • Hotel Vouchers
  • Transport Vouchers or tickets
  • Although most airlines flying out from Jeddah allow hajj passengers to carry zam zam water on board, in addition to the maximum weight allowance, it is better to find out when you arrive at the airport about carrying zam zam
  • Allow some flexibility in your departure schedule as it may not be possible for you to depart on scheduled dates due to some unforeseen circumstances  particularly for women if they have to delay tawaf of hajj (tawaf-ziyarah) due to menstrual cycle
  • For women: they may want to consult with their doctor and take proper medications to delay or differ the menstruation cycle during the Hajj or Umrah
  • All the flights to Jeddah airport cross the miqat before they land in Jeddah, therefore you must be in the state of Ihram when landing in Jeddah airport
  • If you are traveling direct to Jeddah, you will assume Ihram before you board the plane otherwise you enter Ihram at any transit stop enroute to Jeddah.  Your group leader will advise you about it.  You will have lots of help from your fellow hajjis, or your group leader who accompanies your group.

Some of the other things you need to make sure you know.

  • Develop an understanding, the respect and love for the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his mission for mankind
  • Develop humility and the highest degree of patience.
  • Don’t shout
  • Do not liter at airports or spill water in toilets or try to impose on others that you are a VIP in the house of Allah. Everyone is VIP.  Some of these old humble poor people around you may be a lot closer to Allah than your royal highness.
  • So become a kinder, gentler person during hajj and umrah and try to keep the same spirit forever.
  • Once you are there, do not yell, do not be overly demanding or rude with your Hajj group leader or staff performing
  • Always Ssay Please and wait for your turn
  • Reduce your expectations regardless of what you may have paid for your hajj package and of what you were promised for this journey.  Even if you felt cheated and if you did not complain and remained patient Allah surely will compensate you insha Allah
  • This journey is different from any other journey you may have ever taken.  Tour operators and their associates may try to fulfill their promises, but may not able to do so because situations will arise in which they have no control over
  • Once inside Saudi Arabia, expect delays from the airport to your hotel and do not look or feel frustrated, angry and take it out on your group leader.  He has no control over the local entrants no matter what you paid.
  • Perform 2 rakats of Salaat-al-Tawbah (repentance of the past bad deeds).  Be conscious of doing good deeds always. Understand tawheed and behaviour in it.
  • Follow the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
  • Be regular in five daily prayers while you are on this journey and also when you return
  • Read Quran with meaning to understand and practice sincerely
  • People from all over the world and different backgrounds will be there. Do not engage in meaningless arguments and quarrels.  Give others preference over yourselves.  Seek forgiveness immediately should you hurt or offend anyone.
  • If you wish to express your dissatisfaction write a detailed letter to your tour operator and make suggestions on how to improve services.

Before You Leave Your Home

  • Plan to do hajj with the intention of obeying Allah ‘s command while avoiding riya
  • Pray two rakahs salah and seek help from Allah and pray for a safe journey.  Ask Allah for His help and protection from the harm of evil.  At the departure gate, take taqwa with you and leave behind your heartfelt duas’ for your family so that they may remain in Allah’s protection
  • Check all your travel documents (i.e. passport, airline tickets and all relevant coupons, verify with airline yourself)
  • Make extra copies of your passport, visa, tickets and the traveler’s cheques.  Take one set with you and place it in a separate location along with a couple of identification photos.  Leave an extra set of documents at home.
  • Take only one good bag/suitcase
  • Take one with wheels so that you can pull it.  Tie some good rope firmly b/c in some cases, the baggage may fall and burst open scattering the contents
  • Make a few personalized identification tags or marks that you can spot from a distance
  • Your carry-on bag should contain survival items for 2 to 3 days, just in case your main bag gets lost
  • When loading and unloading to and from bus or taxi, be sure to check your baggage.  Make sure that what you pack belongs to you
  • If you break away from the group, you are on your own, don’t put the blame on your tour operator for leaving you behind
  • Get to know your travel companies and your group leader before hand, in order to understand the schedule and one anthers expectations
  • Learn Arabic: at least a few words and phrases will be helpful.  Most of the locals understand some English and other eastern languages rather well

Money Matters

  • Traveller’s cheques are not recommended as they are hard to cash since you won’t be carrying your passport, which will be taken from you just before boarding in Jeddah or at Madinah airport.  You will receive your passport upon your return at Jeddah airport for the flight back to your home country
  •  Carry US Dollars or Pounds or Euros, larger bills of 100 or 50 dollar bills or pounds.  You can exchange Dollars everywhere in Saudi Arabia into Riyals
  • Do not carry all your money with you; place your money at different locations on yourself.  This is a precautionary measure.
  • Take approximately 1000.00 dollars per adult for miscellaneous expenses or emergency needs.  This amount is in addition to all other hajj related expenses

Refunds

  • Should be obtained at the airport before returning home or any unused travel coupons attached to your passport

 Special Note: In case your tour operator has arranged for private buses for transportation during the entire trip, you should be refunded for all your transport vouchers attached in your passport before you leave Jeddah Airport.  Ask your tour operator about it.  Nobody can cash it for any reason or pretence except you.

Before You Leave Home For the Airport

  • Call the airport beforehand to find out the status of your departure flight.
  • Be on time at the airport as instructed by your group leader. If you miss your flight, you are responsible for costs incurred
  • Leave your home early enough to arrive to the airport on time for your flight. Consider the weather, road conditions, and traffic laws
  • Check all your travel documents once again before you leave your home

During The Flight

  • Use the washroom as soon as you feel the need. Do not wait too long
  • If you are in Ihram, do not use cologne/perfume products available on the flight
  • When you come out of the washroom, make sure you leave it very clean, with no water on the floor, or used tissues in the sink or wash basins

Jeddah Airport – Hajj Terminal

  • Upon arrival, your group will be received by the staff of ministry of Hajj. They will help you process the travel documents
  • You will be waiting in the arrival halls until your turn comes.  These halls have no facilities except washrooms, wudu areas and drinking water. It is going to be approximately a 4-6 hour wait, depending on the date and time of arrival. Eat the snacks you have packed in your carry-on.

After Customs

  • Your baggage is your responsibility. Work on a baggage supervision plan with your group. Stay together.
  • Next – you will show your passport for the removal of the Hajj fee. Cashiers cheques, and bus travel vouchers will be stapled to your passport. Before you move on, check these items and your passport for accuracy
  • Your group will then move into the waiting area platforms, opposite of the terminal halls. There will be restaurants, banks, ministry offices, prayer areas and airport malls where you can buy Hajj related items. By this time, you may be exhausted and hungry
  • Always keep your passport in your possession. Go to the bank (cubicles) and convert your money into Saudi Riyals. Eat and rest, sitting watching your luggage.  You may shop for your needs in these malls.
  • Your group leader will collect passports to make arrangements for the bus to Makkah or Madinah according to your travel itinerary
  • When the bus arrives at the platform, enter your bus and sit in your seat.  Luggage will be handled by the airport porter and loaded into the bus.
  • All your passports are with the bus driver.
  • Before the bus leaves the terminal platform, a passenger count will be taken by cross referencing with the passports by Ministry staff or driver and your group leader
  • According to your travel itinerary, the bus will travel to Madinah or Makkah. Upon arrival, before entering the city, you will pass through a reception centre, where your passports will be registered in the data centre and your Muallim’s office.  If you leave your bus to go to the washroom or any other reason, make sure you note your bus number and isle number so you may return to your respective bus
  • When you enter Madinah, the bus goes to the Muallim’s office where your passports will be deposited and receipts will be given to your group leader. Every Hajji will receive a wrist-band and the Muallim’s address card.
  • Next, your bus will go to your hotel for accommodations according to your Hajj package.

Your Activities In Makkah

  • Once you have unloaded your luggage, assigned your rooms, rested and refreshed, you are ready to do Umrah.
  • Your group leader or accompanied religious scholar will brief you on how to perform Umrah. You will then be lead to the Masjid Al-Haram.
  • When you get to the 1st sight of the Ka’aba, Stop, and make takbir and recite dua
  • Complete a tawaaf of Umra with Idtibah and Ramal and Sa’ee
  • Men will cut their hair at a barbershop near the doors of Marwah while the ladies will be waiting near the door of Marwah
  • After that, you will go to your hotel rooms and help in cutting the ladies’ hair (approx. 1 inch of hair in length)
  • After this, come out of Ihram, take shower and change into regular clothes. At this point, your Umrah is complete
  • From now until the 8th of Dhul Hijjah, you are free to do any activity
  • During your stay in Makkah:
    • Attend 5 daily prayers in Haram –Ka’aba
    • Do as many nafil tawaaf as possible
    • Do extra Umrahs if you wish
    • Consult your religious scholar at all times for any/all religious matters
  • According to your itinerary, if your are visiting Madinah before Hajj, follow the instructions of the group leader about packing luggage for traveling and departure to Madinah either by Saudi Air or by bus

Visit to Madinah

  • After arriving at your hotel room, freshen up, eat some food if hungry and leave for Masjid-e-Nabawi.
  • In the masjid, pray 2 rak’ah Tahayyah-tul-Masjid and recite durood on the Prophet (saw).
  • Walking with humility & respect, join the existing line, walking towards the grave site (rowdha) which will be on your left side.  As you come closer, facing the screen, say a sincere Salaam to the Prophet Muhammad (saw) “As Salaam Alaika ya Rasulullah”
  • Do not raise your hands in front of the grave site for a du’aa
  • Avoid all forms of shirk (4:48)
  • Next, move onwards to your right and say your salam to Hadrat Abu Bakr (R) and then to Hadrat Umar (R)
  • Next to the marked pillars the area called is Riyaz-ul-Jannah. Prays at least 2 nawafil and without hurting or disturbing anyone. Pray and make your dua’a here, sincerely for this is a high place of acceptance.  This is part of Jannah as it is narrated in a hadith
  • Spend as much time as possible in this masjid to do Salah, durood-e-Ibrahim, dhikr of Allah (swt) and study the Quran.  Additionally, you may offer salaam (if possible after every salah) and durood.
  • Your group leader will arrange a guided tour of the historical and religious sites in and around Madinah that includes a visit to Masjid Quba

Start of Hajj

  • Pack your small carry-on bag, provisions for 5 days and nights. You will be staying in crowded dusty camps. Mentally prepare yourself for such an experience for which you have traveled so far to get mercy and blessings from Allah (swt)

8th Of Dhul Hijja – Hajj Starts Today

  • If you are in Makkah, take a shower and put on Ihram and make the intention for Hajj and say Talbiya as you did for Umrah, observing the restrictions of Ihraam.
  • Those coming from Mina, enter the state of Ihraam in Madinah or Dul Hulaifa making intention for Hajj. Say Talbiya and start observing Ihram restrictions.
  • All hujjaj in ihram from Madinah, Makkah or from anywhere proceed to Mina arriving before noon on 8th of Dhul HIjjah.  You will stay overnight in Mina.
  • During your stay in Mina, do Ibaadat – avoiding all worldly conversations
  • Be helpful to the needy

9th Of Dhul Hijja – Day of Arafah

  • After Fajr prayer, proceed to the tents in within the boundary of Arafat with your group
  • Remember to stay with your group at all times
  • Remember that you came all the way here for today’s event – i.e.  The day of Hajj. You will stay here from noon to sunset during which you pray Zuhr, Asr shortened and combined with one adhan and two aqamahs.
  • Some pilgrims may do these prayers at their respective times. Do not get into arguments. Follow your Imam.
  • After Zuhr and Asr prayers, eat lunch, get some rest and start waqoof Arafat.
  • Today is the climax of Hajj for the Hujjaj. It is the day you came here for physicality and spirituality. You must do some taubaa and istigfar, reciting words of Tawheed. This is the largest gathering of all Hujjaj, when everyone is and should be begging from the one and same Master his Majesty, Allah (swt)
  • All will stand in the same location, with the same address, uttering the same words, asking for the same requests and following the protocol. He invited to come there and to ask questions. You must produce Khuzoo, Kushoo, Taqwa and Rija’a (hope) – expect only good from Allah (swt) regardless of how meager but must be sincere).
  • He answers all prayers. Today is the best day for acceptance of your dua’a
  • The biggest loser amongst us is one who does not ask for nor has Rija’a (hope)
  • Observe the waqoof from late afternoon to sun down. Remember to pray for your parents, family, relatives, friends and those who helped and assisted you to prepare for this important journey

Leave Arafat for Muzdalifah

  • Follow the group leaders instructions
  • Upon arrival in Muzdalifah, after sunset, first pray Maghrib and Isha Salah; combined and shortened.
  • Collect 49-70 pebbles to throw at Jamarat on 10, 11, 12 & 13th.
  • Stay in Muzdalifah. Pray Fajr early at the starting time and engage in dua until day break
  • After sun rise, leave for Mina tents with your group

10th Of Dhul Hijjah

  • This is the day of Sacrifice
  • First, go to Jamarat site with your group, throw stones at the last Jamarat only and return to the tent.
  • If you have purchased Qurbani vouchers, assume Qurbani is done. Shave your head.
  • Discard Ihram, take shower and come out of Ihram. Put on regular clothes.
  • After that, go to Makkah, with your group leader. Perform tawaf of Hajj followed by Sa’ee and return to Mina and spend one night in Mina.

On 11th, 12th throw pebbles on the three Jamarat – 7 pebbles each, any time after zuhr salaat until late evening.

If you are in a hurry, you can return to Makkah on the evening of the 12th day.

Otherwise, stay until the 13th. Leave Mina after throwing pebbles after Zuhr salat.  When you have returned to Makkah, perform a farewell tawaf before returning to your country.

If you have not yet visited Madinah, this is the time to go to Madinah after farewell tawaf.

Your Hajj trip has come to an end. May Allah accept your Hajj!

Part 2 – Chaplain Yusuf Estes

lightMy father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became an ordained minister in the 1970’. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the “Prayer Tower” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They were also strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggy and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson. Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording “Praise” tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly.

In 1991, he began doing business with a man in Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. Then my father mentioned that this man was a “Moslem.” I couldn’t believe my ears. A Moslem, no way! I reminded dad of the various things we had heard about these people, how they are terrorists, hijackers, kidnappers, bombers and who knows what else! Not only that, but they don’t believe in God, kiss the ground five times a day, and worship a black box in the desert. My father insisted that I meet him, however, and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So I gave in and agreed to the meeting.

I was looking for a huge man with flowing robes and a big turban on his head, a beard halfway down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way across his forehead. But this man had no beard. In fact, he didn’t have hair on his head at all; close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. It didn’t make sense. I thought Muslims were terrorists and bombers; what was this guy all about?

I decided to get the right to work on him. He needed to be “saved”, and the Lord and I were going to do it! I was winning souls to the Lord day after day, and this would be a big achievement for me – to catch one of these “Moslems” and convert him to Christianity.

I asked him, if he liked tea, and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject – beliefs. We talked about the concept of God, the meaning of life, the purpose of creation, the prophets and their mission, and how God reveals His will to mankind. We also shared a lot of personal experiences and ideas. Constantly on business trips, we became good friends.

One day, I came to know that my friend, Muhammad, was going to move out of the home he had been sharing with someone and would be living in the mosque for a time. I went to my dad and suggested that we could invite Muhammad to our big home in the country and he could stay there with us. After all, he could share some of the work and expenses, and he would be there whenever we were ready to travel. My father agreed, and Muhammad moved in.

I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed.

One day, while visiting a friend in the hospital, I met a Catholic priest in a wheelchair, who seemed extremely depressed. The priest began to share his story of being a missionary for over twelve years in South and Central America, in Mexico and even in New York’s “Hell Kitchen.” When he was released from the hospital, he needed a place to recover. Rather than let him go to stay with a Catholic family, I suggested my dad that we invite him to come and live with us in the country, along with our families and Muhammad. It was agreed to by all.

After settling in, we all began to gather around the kitchen table after dinner every night to discuss religion. My father would bring his King James Version of the Bible, I would bring out my Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and my wife had another version of the Bible (maybe Jimmy Swaggart’s Good News for Modern Man). The priest, of course, had the Catholic Bible (which has seven more books it than Protestant Bible). We spent more time talking about which Bible was the right one or the most correct, than we did trying to convince Muhammad about becoming a Christian.

In the meantime, I had finally read the Quran in translation. I recall asking Muhammad how many versions of it were there. He told me that there was only one Quran and that it had never been changed. He also let me know that the Quran had been memorized in its entirety by hundreds of thousands of people in many different countries. Over the centuries, millions have memorized it completely and taught it to others, letter perfect without mistakes.

This did not seem possible to me. After all, the original language of the Bible had been a dead language for centuries, and the original documents had long been lost.

One day, the priest asked Muhammad, if he might accompany him to the mosque to see what it was like there. They came back talking about the experience, and we could not wait to ask the priest what it was like and what types of ceremonies they had performed. He said they just prayed and left. I said, “They left without any speeches or singing?” He said that was right.

A few more days went by and the Catholic priest asked Muhammad, if he might join him again for a trip to the mosque. But this time, they did not come back for a very long while. It became dark and we got worried that something might have happened to them. When they finally came in the door, I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

I immediately recognized Muhammad, but who was this with him wearing a white robe and cap? It was the priest! The priest had become a Muslim!

So I went upstairs to think about things over a bit and began to talk to my wife about the subject. She then told me that she too, was thinking to enter Islam, because she knew it was the truth. I was really shocked then. I went downstairs and woke up Muhammad and asked him to come outside with me for a discussion. We walked and talked that whole night through. By the time he was ready to pray the morning prayer, I knew that the truth had become clear at last and then it was up to me to do my part. Behind my father’s house, I found an old piece of plywood and right there I put my head down on the ground facing the direction, in which Muslims pray five times a day.

In that position, with my head on the ground, I prayed, “O God, if You are there, guide me, guide me.” After a while, I raised my head and noticed something. No, I didn’t see birds or angels coming out of the sky, nor did I hear voices or music, nor did I see bright lights or flashes. What I noticed was a change inside me. I was aware then that it was time for me to stop lying and cheating and doing sneaky business deals. It was time that I really worked at being honest and upright man. So I went upstairs and took a shower with the distinct idea that I was “washing” away the sinful old person that I had become over the years. I was now coming into a new, fresh life – a life based on truth and proof.

Around 11:00 a.m. that morning, I stood before two witnesses, one the ex-priest (formerly known as Father Peter Jacobs) and the other Muhammad Abdul Rahman, and announced my Shahadah (testimony to the oneness of God and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa)). A few minutes later, my wife followed suit and gave the same testimony.

My father was a bit more reserved on the subject and waited a few more months, before he made his commitment. But he did finally accept Islam and began offering prayers right along with me and the other Muslims in the local mosque. My father’s wife was the last to acknowledge that Jesus could not be a son of God, but that he was a mighty prophet of God.

Our children were taken out of Christian school and placed in Islamic schools. And now, ten years later, they were memorizing much of the Quran and the teachings of Islam.

If I were to stop here, I’m sure you would have to admit that this is an amazing story. But it is not all. The same year I met a Baptist seminary student from Tennessee who came to Islam after reading the Holy Quran while being in Baptist Seminary College! There were others as well. I recall the case of Catholic priest in a college town who talked about the good things in Islam so much that I was compelled to ask him why he didn’t enter Islam. He replied, “What? And lose my job?” His name was Father John, and there is hope for him yet.

The very next year, I met a former Catholic priest, who had been a missionary for eight years in Africa. He learned about Islam while he was there and embraced it. He then changed his name to Omar and moved to Dallas, Texas. Two years later while in San Antonio, Texas, I was introduced to a former Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Russia, who learned about Islam and gave up his position to enter Islam.

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it

I have encountered many more individuals, who were leaders, teachers and scholars of other religions, who learned about Islam and entered into it, from amongst Hindus, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic Christians, non- denominational churches and even scientists who had once been atheists. Why? Because they all became aware of the truth. I suggest to any seeker of truth the following:

  • Open your mind, heart and soul.
  • Clear away all prejudices and biases.
  • Read a good translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in the language you understand the best.
  • Take time.
  • Read and reflect.
  • Think and pray.
  • Continue asking the One who created you to guide you to the truth.
  • Keep this up for a few months and be regular in it.
  • Above all, do not let others who are poisoned in their thinking influence you while you are in this state of “rebirth of the soul.”

The rest is between you and the Almighty Lord of the universe. If you truly love Him, then He already knows it, and He will deal with each of us according to what is in our hearts.

May Allah (swt) guide you on your journey to truth. And may He open your heart and your mind to the reality of this world and the purpose of this life. And peace to you and guidance from Allah (swt), the One Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer, of all that exists.

Source: “An Undeniable Fact – Prominent Church People Enter Islam” by Dr. Abdurahim bin Mazher Al- Malki. Excerpt printed by permission of the publisher Dar Abul-Qasim, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (www.abulqasimbooks.com).           

Pearls of Peace – An Extract from Surah Al-Fatiha

Pearl-in-a-shell1We praise Allah (swt) Who has blessed us and granted us this beautiful month of Ramadan and such a beautiful opportunity to earn His countless Blessings. May He grant us with the blessings and forgiveness in this month. May He increase the love and bond in our hearts that we have for one another and alleviate the suffering of humankind all across the globe; relief the ones who are going through difficulties and turmoil including ourselves.

Imagine if Prophet Muhammad (sa) was among us and recited the Quran. Imagine if the companions of Muhammad (sa) were to recite the Quran; what type of recitation do you think it would be? It would be miraculously beautiful as it would come from the depths of the heart and true love for the Quran. Hence, that is the kind of recitation one should aspire for.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace. Many of us are searching for peace, contentment and happiness so that we can alleviate whatever suffering we are going through, but we have not searched through the pages of the Book of peace; coming from the Owner of peace, AsSalam.

The theme we have chosen to speak about this year is Pearls of Peace from the Noble Quran. It is the Book of peace and indeed full of the ingredients of peace.

Types of peace

There are two types of peace:

  • The inner peace – the peace within one’s heart and mind
  • The outer peace – is amongst one another; within our family, our community, with the Ummah at large, with humanity, and with all the creatures of Allah (swt) and this is the peace we are searching for.

As we search for this peace and we open the Book of Allah (swt), do you know what is the first word of peace that we find? Amazingly: Audhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem. Analyze the statement. This is the statement of peace. Before you commence with the Quran and its recitation, you need to utter these words because Allah (swt) has declared,

So when you want to recite the Quran, seek refuge with Allah from Shaitan (Satan), the outcast (the cursed one).” (An- Nisa 16:98)

The ways to acquire peace

Without seeking protection of Allah (swt) from the devil, how will we be able to acquire peace? Many of us, when we read the Quran we have no concentration. That’s because the devil has contaminated our heart and our mind. He makes us fight and argue; splits and disunites us. This is why we start off with Tawuz. Let’s remember this powerful supplication and use it.

Now the next most powerful statement: Bismillah hir-Rahman nir-Raheem “In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful; Most Forgiving Most Merciful.”

This is Allah (swt), this is peace! Peace is connected to the mercy of Allah (swt). Look at the manner He starts. He has told us to start off by saying His Name, acknowledging that He is full of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. If He wanted He could have said, “Say: In the Name of Allah, the Owner of the severe torment and punishment.” He could have said that; but the heart requires that flicker wherein we all have hope in the mercy of Allah (swt).

Pearls extracted from Surah Al-Fatiha

Allah (swt) has chosen to open the Quran with what is known as Surah Al-Fatiha – the Opening Surah.

“(All) praise is (due) to Allah, the Rabb of the worlds.”

What is the meaning of Rabb? The One Who created, nourishes, provides, and protects, the One Who is in absolute control of every single aspect of the entire existence. All praise is due to Him, Who created you and me and everything in existence. Praise Him regularly and you will achieve peace.

Immediately after this powerful opening statement He says: Most Forgiving, Most Merciful. A loser he/she will be the one who does not receive the mercy of Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) make us from the winners. Imagine, if He had said, “I am never going to forgive certain people even if they seek forgiveness.” Did He ever say that? Never! Even a person who has committed Shirk, if he seeks forgiveness, Allah (swt) says, “My doors are open for him, I will forgive him.”

Maliki yawmi addeen – “He is the Owner of the Day of Judgment.”

From this we learn that we are answerable to Allah (swt). Let us learn not to become judgemental when it comes to deal with one another. Sometimes a person who might not appear religious outwardly is perhaps much more religious within. They may be struggling to adopt the commands of Allah (swt) one by one just like we are. None of us is perfect. We are all trying. Eradicate your bad habits. Seek the assistance of Allah (swt).

Iyyaka nabudu wa-iyyaka nastaeen – “You (alone) we worship and You (alone) we ask for help.”

A powerful statement that we utter almost five times a day.

Do you want peace? If yes, then worship Allah (swt) alone. Ask Allah’s (swt) help and assistance. Remember, He is Rabb-al-Alameen, the Owner of every single aspect of existence.

Ihdina assirata almustaqeem – “Guide us to the straight path.”

This is the Dua that we make for ourselves. The path of peace, the path to attain the pleasure of Allah (swt). If Allah (swt) has given us Hidayah (guidance), what more do we want? We will be the happiest people in the Dunya.

“Amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; If he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.” (Muslim)

Allah (swt) has always blessed us in every single way; yet sometimes we do not realize and recognize. We only pick on certain things that our soul desires and we keep on saying, “Ya Allah (swt)! You did not give me this. You did not give me that.” But when you look at the favours of Allah (swt), they are plenty.

These were some of the blessed pearls that we extract from Surah Al-Fatiha.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s Peace of Pearl Series, Cape town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

 

 

Are we Toxic Teachers?

classroomDown the memory lane, the most ecstatic flashes are of those people who’ve made your life worthwhile. For me, most of them were my teachers. I vividly remember some of them for their extensive efforts to make me love school; the others were some really inspiring teachers. All these powerful educational experiences have helped me nurture my passion for teaching and learning.

As much as recalling these pleasant moments bring me joy, the resonance of a few harsh ones often engulfs me with anguish. If only the teachers could realize what harm they do to the striving souls through their malicious marks! The psychological significance of these unpleasant moments is so strong that it lives with you for a lifetime. For many students, it’s hard to fight back these dominant influences. Hence, they close themselves in shells that are hard to crack later. Fortunately, my list of unpleasant interactions is not very long, but whatever little I had was painful and the memories still hurt.

I have realized that teaching is not only an instructional communication between an adult and his pupil but it’s an art. A teacher has to adopt several roles: those of a mentor, a friend, a guide and a leader.

Novice teachers or even those with several years of experience may have teaching practices that are capable of making students hate their subject. These teachers never give students a chance to open up. They demonstrate unnecessary favouritism and make those who are competent to do assignments ahead of time feel guilty. They are absolutely oblivious to the students’ needs and wouldn’t care if learning is taking place or not. They ridicule those who ask questions. Their focus remains on delivering. They promote rote learning and unethical practices. The damage these ‘toxic teachers’ cause is irreparable.

With the passage of time and years of experience, I have realized that teaching is not only an instructional communication between an adult and his pupil but it’s an art. A teacher has to adopt several roles: those of a mentor, a friend, a guide and a leader. A juggle between these roles, day in and day out, is what makes a successful teacher. All our teaching practices should be a combination of these and also a reflection of our own most influential educational experiences as a pupil. This reflection will help us relate to our past experiences regarding ‘what hurt and what healed’ and can help us remodel ourselves in a way we would like to be remembered as a great teacher!