The First Ten Days of Dhul-Hijjah

Vol 5 - Issue 3 The first ten days of Dhul-HajjOfaira Ateeq Husain shares with us the suggestions of Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid.

Allah (swt) has preferred some times of the year over others in the sense that the rewards for good deeds done during these periods get multiplied many times. This encourages His servants to do more righteous deeds and worship Him more, in order to prepare themselves for death and the Day of Judgment.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Being laid-back is best in every matter except for good deeds.” (Abu Dawood & Al-Hakim)

Among the special seasons of worship are the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, which Allah (swt) has preferred over all the other days of the year. These days, which include the Day of Arafah and Eid Al-Adha, bring Muslims an opportunity to correct their faults and make up for any shortcomings.

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days” The people asked: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?” He said: “Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause (of Allah), and came back with nothing.” (Bukhari)

It is indeed a great mercy of Allah (swt) that the blessings of Hajj spill over also to those, who are not making the pilgrimage but are fasting on Dhul-Hijjah 9, the Day of Arafah. On this day, also known as the Waqfah (standing), the pilgrims stand on and around the Mount of Mercy to ask Allah’s (swt) forgiveness. When the sun sets on that day, all their past sins are forgiven. If those, who are not making Hajj, fast on that day, the sins of two years (the past and the coming one) are forgiven. (Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) relates that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days more loved by Allah (swt) for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijjah. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year, and offering Salatul Tahajjud (late night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power (i.e., Lailatul Qadr).” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi)

In this season, the roads leading to goodness are numerous, so we must not miss out on any of them. Allah (swt) has given us many ways, in which to do good deeds and worship Him. Among the good deeds, which a Muslim should strive to do during the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah are:

1. Salah. A guided slave of Allah (swt) would supply himself with optional Salah during these ten days, because it is a path to goodness and something that Allah (swt) loves. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Salah is the best thing that one can do, so perform as many as you possibly can.” (At-Tabarani) He (saw) also said, as narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The son of Adam could not do anything more beneficial for himself than Salah, reconciliation (between Muslims) and being well mannered.” (Al-Bayhaqi and others)

2. Fasting. It is Sunnah to fast on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijjah. Hunaydah Ibn Khalid quoted some of the wives of the Prophet (sa) as saying: “The Prophet (sa) used to fast on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, on the day of Ashurah, on three days of each month and on the first two Mondays and Thursdays of each month.” (An-Nisa’i, 4/205)

3. Takbir. During the first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah, it is Sunnah to say Takbir, Tahmid, Tahlil, and Tasbih loudly in the mosque, the home, the street and every place, where it is permitted to remember Allah (swt) and mention His name out loud, as an act of worship and as a proclamation of the greatness of Allah (swt). Men should recite these phrases out loud, and women should recite them quietly.

Allah (swt) says: “That they may witness things that are of benefit to them (i.e., reward of Hajj in the Hereafter, and also some worldly gain from trade), and mention the name of Allah on appointed days (i.e. 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th day of Dhul-Hijjah), over the beast of cattle that He has provided for them (for sacrifice).” (Al-Hajj 22:28)

Abdullah Ibn Umar (rta) reported that the Prophet (sa) said: “There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of Tahleel (La Ilaha Ill-Allah), Takbeer (Allahu Akbar) and Tahmeed (Al-Hamdu Lillah).” (Reported by Ahmad, 7/224; Ahmad Shakir stated that it is Saheeh)

4. Performing Hajj and Umrah. One of the best deeds that one can do during these ten days is to perform Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah (swt). The one, whom Allah (swt) helps to offer Hajj to His House and to perform all the rituals properly, is included in the words of the Prophet (sa): “An accepted Hajj brings no less a reward than Paradise.”

5. Doing more good deeds in general. This is because good deeds are beloved by Allah (swt) and earn one a great reward. Whoever is not able to offer Hajj should occupy himself during this blessed time with acts of worship, reading the Quran, remembering Allah (swt), making supplications, giving in charity, showing dutifulness to parents, maintaining the ties of kinship, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil and other good deeds and acts of worship.

6. Sacrifice. Offering a sacrificial animal is also among the most virtuous deeds that one can perform. The Prophet (sa) said: “He, who does not offer a sacrifice while being financially able to, let him not come close to our Masjid (i.e. pray with us).” The Sunnah also indicates that the one, who wants to offer a sacrifice on Eid-ul-Adha, must stop cutting his hair and nails and removing anything from his skin, from the beginning of the ten days until after he has offered his sacrifice, because the Prophet (sa) said: “When the ten days (Dhu’l-Hijjah) have begun and one of you intends to offer a sacrifice, then let him not cut any of his hair or remove anything from his skin.” (Muslim)

In another narration, he (saw) said: “Let him not cut anything from his hair or nails until he sacrifices.” (Ad-Darimi)

7. Sincere repentance. One of the most important things to do during these ten days is to repent sincerely to Allah (swt) and to give up all kinds of disobedience and sin. Take advantage of these virtuous deeds, beware of laziness and neglect and know that Allah (swt) has favoured certain days over others. Let us use these opportunities and increase our righteous deeds. May Allah (swt) forgive us our sins and shortcomings, Ameen.

Worthy Reads

QURAT1001By S. Hamza Asad and Ofaira Ateeq Hussain

From the many books published on the Quran, the following two, no doubt, are some of the leading ones.

“Atlas of the Quran”

Compiled by: Dr. Shawqi Abu Khalil

Publisher: Darussalam

Number of pages: 392

Available at: Darussalam outlets (Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad)

Muslims, young and old, have always loved to read the stories of all the prophets mentioned in the Quran – Islamic stories always leave their impact on our imagination. But to capture the pictures in our mind, for the first time an untouched subject has emerged in the form of “Atlas of the Quran”.

“Atlas of the Quran” is an authentic compilation of the Quranic stories and information regarding the prophecies and the places where different prophets lived, ruled and died. The book contains tables, pictures, regions, routes and maps of all those places which are discussed in the Quran. It also embellishes the beauty of some of the major divine events with reference to their scientific facts and innovative historical and modern sources such as the flood during the times of Prophet Noah (as). Apart from this, almost all the stories and incidents of the twenty five prophets, mentioned in the Quran by name, are discussed in this book.

Compiled by Dr. Shawqi Abu Khalil, “Atlas of the Quran” is one of the greatest attempts ever to adumbrate the Islamic facts and the author of this book surely seems to have burnt the midnight oil to undertake such extensive research.

“Quran par Amal”

Written by: Summaiyah Ramadan

Translated by: Zaheer-ud-Deen Bhatti

Publisher: Manshurat

Number of pages: 157

Available at:

The book “Quran par Amal” is a translation of workshops conducted in Arabic by sister Summaiyah Ramadan in Kuwait. It has been translated into Urdu by Zaheer-ud-Deen Bhatti and the foreword is by Muslim Sajjad. Both the brothers have appreciated the fact that women are playing a very active role in the revival of our Deen.

The book is divided into four sections. The first section explores and explains how the Quran is a book of guidance, and how it should be applied to our daily lives. The second section deals with the prerequisites for bringing about personal change through the Quran. Eight prerequisites have been defined and explained.

The third section is the most interesting one. It contains the experiences of the ladies attending sister Summaiyah’s workshops. These workshops were not just a series of lectures. In each class, an Ayah of the Quran was selected, and ways of applying that particular Ayah in the daily lives of the women attending were discussed. The ladies would read and re-read the Ayah, memorize it and try to practice it in their homes for at least one week. Then they would come back and share their experiences. If they felt that, Alhumdulillah, they were able to bring about a change in themselves or their environment, they would select another Ayah for the next week. Otherwise, the same Ayah would continue for another week, until some results became visible.

The experiences related under fourteen topics are amazing and inspiring. They are classic examples of the Barakah and benefits of practicing the Quran. The problems are as simple as waking up for Fajr prayers to as complicated as distribution of inheritance.

All in all, this book is a very inspiring read for those who want to practice the teachings of the Quran in their daily lives.

Is the Price Hike Controlling You?

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Is the price hike conyrlling youOfaira Ateeq Husain and Sumaira Dada spoke to some people to find out how they are managing the price hike

It may be quite hard to believe, but it is only when my mother-in-law goes for a vacation that I get a glimpse of house management. Now that she is visiting her daughter in Canada, I am looking after the house. This time around everything seems to be different because of the price hike. I cannot help but wonder how everyone else is managing. Along with a colleague, I decided to speak to a couple of people on how they are coping with the spiraling prices.

What They are Saying

Sharifa, a Quran teacher and a grandmother of three, manages the budget strictly. She records her daily expenses and trims down what she believes are unnecessary expenses. Instead of getting her clothes made by the tailor, she sews her own clothes and sometimes also those of her two daughters-in-law. Food expenses are also kept under control. The entire family eats together, and whenever possible, the food is cooked without a lot of oil. Instead of consuming high quality basmati rice, the family eats the cheaper broken rice.

Nausheen, also a Quran teacher, prioritizes while managing the household budget. Hers is education; therefore, she is willing to keep her children in good schools, despite the increase in fees. She says that the family has limited eating out to once a month. Her advice for mothers is to stop children from consuming junk food, which is not only of low nutritional value but also heavy on the pocket.

Maria, a lecturer at a business school, feels that the car pool arrangement for her school-going children has helped cut expenses. Moreover, she has been thinking of having the petrol-driven car finally converted to CNG, to save on fuel cost.

Dr. Saba, a sonologist and a mother of two, has been doing grocery shopping more carefully, refraining from impulsive buying. However, she continues to buy well-known brands for essential items as milk and cooking oil.

Zahida, a government school teacher and a mother of two, has tried to bring food expenses under control by preparing dessert twice a month. She has also cut down travelling expenses by going shopping only on the weekends and that too in the family car.

Amna, a baby sitter, is trying to cut down her travel cost by commuting on foot whenever possible.

Simplicity is Part of Faith

Instead of whining and complaining all the time, we should take this as an opportunity to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (sa) and his companions. From Aisha (rta) we know that the Prophet (sa) used to repair his shoes and mend his dresses. He used to check his own clothing and, milking the sheep and catering for himself were some of his normal jobs. (Mishkat)

The Prophet (sa) has also said: “Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Will you not listen? Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman (faith). Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman. Verily, simplicity is a part of Iman.” (Abu Dawood)

Rapidly rising prices is a phenomenon, which the authorities are duty-bound to control. Nevertheless, keeping an attitude of gratefulness despite the decrease in the number of tasty foods and less desserts to savour will, Insha’Allah, yield benefits in this world and in the Hereafter. After all, Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-­Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc) saying: ‘Give thanks to Allah.’ And whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his ownself. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All­-Rich (Free of all wants), Worthy of all praise.” (Luqman 31:12)

A Penny Saved is a Penny Gained

Regardless of what our salary is, we must strive to save a certain percentage of it for the rainy days. It is sad but true that even if earn more than what we need, we generally end up spending that entire extra amount, believing citing our luxuries as our needs. Remember there will never be an end to the wish list, but the bucks saved today will come in handy tomorrow.

Never Stop Sharing

When we are required to tighten our own belts, the first causality is our sense of generosity and giving. Sadaqah and Zakat always bring Barakah in our earnings – this is Allah (swt)’s promise to the Believers. We may lessen our contribution to charity in accordance with our revised budget but we must not deprive our less-privileged servants and relatives of our patronage. You will discover that the more Sadaqah you give, the more bounties of Allah (swt) will come to you from unimaginable sources.

Avoid Wastage

In general, Islam highly discourages wastage of any kind, but it is decidedly even worse to indulge in the wastage of already-scarce resources. It also results in Allah (swt)’s anger. At all times, make a conscious effort to utilize your blessings effectively and help your children realize it too.

Ruling on Celebrating the Middle of Shaban

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Ruling on Celebrating the Middle of Shabaan

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “This day, I have perfected your Deen for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

“Or have they partners with Allah (false gods) who have instituted for them a Deen which Allah has not ordained?” (Al-Shoora 42:21)

In As-Saheehayn (Bukhari and Muslim), it is reported from Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”

In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated from Jabir (rta) that the Prophet (sa) used to say in his Friday Khutbahs: “The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The most evil of things are those, which are newly-invented, and every innovation (Bidah) is going-astray.”

This clearly indicates that Allah (swt) has perfected the Deen of this Ummah. He did not take the soul of His Prophet (sa), until he had conveyed the Message clearly and instructed the Ummah about everything that Allah (swt) had prescribed for it in words and deeds. He (saw) explained that all the words and deeds that people would attribute to Islam after he would be gone, all of that would be thrown back on the one, who invented it, even if his intention was good. The companions of the Messenger of Allah (sa) knew this, as did the scholars of Islam after them. They denounced Bidah and warned against it, as has been stated by all those, who wrote books praising the Sunnah and denouncing Bidah, such as Ibn Waddah, Al-Tartooshir, Ibn Shamah and others.

The Daeef (weak) Ahadeeth concerning the acts of worship can only be acted upon in the case of acts of worship, which are proven by Saheeh evidence. This important principle was mentioned by Imam Abul-Abbas Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah.

Among the Bidahs that have been invented by some people is celebrating the middle of Shaban (Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban) and singling out this day for fasting. There is no reliable evidence (Daleel) for it. Some Daeef Ahadeeth have been narrated concerning its virtues, but we cannot regard them as reliable. The reposts, which have been narrated concerning the virtues of prayer on this occasion, are all Mawdoo (fabricated).

In his book “Lataif Al-Marif,” Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab said: “Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban (the middle of Shaban) was venerated by the Tabieen among the people of Al-Sham, such as Khalid Ibn Midan, Makhool, Luqman Ibn Aamir and others, who used to strive in worship on this night. The people took the idea of the virtue of this night and of venerating it from them. It was said that they heard of Israeli reports (reposts from the Jewish sources) concerning that most of the scholars of the Hijaz denounced that, including Ata and Ibn Abi Maleekah. Abdur-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn Aslam narrated that view from the Fuqaha of Madinah, and this was the view of the companions of Malik and others. They said: ‘This is all Bidah. No comment from Imam Ahmad concerning Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban is known of. Concerning spending the night of the middle of Shaban in prayer, there is no sound report from the Prophet (sa) or from his companions.’”

The scholars are agreed that it is obligatory to refer disputed matters to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sa). Whatever ruling both or one of them give is the Shariah, which must be followed, and whatever goes against them must be rejected. Therefore, any acts of worship, which are not mentioned in them, are Bidah, and it is not permissible to do them, let alone call others to do them or approve of them.

Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (sa), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” (Al-Nisa 4:59)

In every case, where there is no sound Shariah evidence that something is prescribed in Islam, it is not permissible for a Muslim to innovate things in the Deen of Allah, whether these are individual acts or communal acts, whether he does them in secret or openly.

‘Allamah Al-Shawkani has ruled against Laylat Al-Nusf and has said that the rewards regarding the prayers in this night are all fabricated, and their narrators are all Majhool (unknown) and Daeef.

Other scholars, who have ruled against singling out the night of the middle of Shaban, are Al-Hafiz Al-Iraqi, Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab in his book “Lata’if Al-Ma’arif,” Iman Al-Nawawi in his book “Al-Majmoo” and Shaykh Al-Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Ismaeel Al-Maqdisi wrote a very valuable book providing that these (reports) are false.

From the Ayahs, Ahadeeth and scholarly opinions quoted above, it is clear that celebrating the middle of Shaban by praying on that night or in any other way, or by singling out that day for fasting, is Bidah denounced by most of the scholars. It has no basis in the pure Shariah; rather, it is one of the things that was innovated in Islam after the time of the Sahabahs.

In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated that Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: ‘Do not single out the night of Jumuah (Friday) for praying Qiyam and do not single out the day of Jumuah for fasting, unless it is part of the ongoing regular fast of any one of you.’” (Muslim)

If it were permissible to single out any night for special acts of worship, the night of Jumuah would be the most appropriate, because the day of Jumuah is the best day, upon which the sun rises, as stated in the Saheeh Hadeeth narrated by the Messenger of Allah (sa). The fact that the Prophet (sa) warned against singling out that night for praying Qiyam indicates that it is even more prohibited to single out any other night for acts of worship, except where there is Saheeh evidence of a particular night being singled out (for example, Laylat Al-Qadr and other nights of Ramadan). Similarly fasting on the day of Jumuah is also prohibited.

If it really were prescribed to single out the night of the middle of Shaban or the night of the first Friday in Rajab, or the night to the Isra and Miraj for celebration or for any special acts of worship, then the Prophet (sa) would have taught his Ummah to do that, and he would have done it himself. If anything of the sort had happened, his companions would have transmitted it to the Ummah, for they were the best and most sincere of people after the prophets.

We ask Allah (swt) to help us and all the Muslims adhere firmly to the Sunnah and to beware of everything that goes against it, for He (swt) is the Most Generous, the Most Kind, Ameen.

(Adapted from “Majmoo Fatawa Samahat Al-Shaykh Abd Al-Azaz Ibn Baz,” 2/882.)

Shopping – an Islamic Perspective

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Shopping- The Islamic prespective

Dictionary describes shopping as a visit to a shop with intent to purchase goods. This activity is almost as old as mankind. Man has always brought home household items for his family. Islam acknowledges this need, and Allah (swt) has given permission for it in the Quran.

Narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta): Ukaz, Majanna and Dhul-Majaz were market-places in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. When Islam came, Muslims felt that marketing there might be a sin. Thus, the divine revelation came: “There is no sin on you if you seek the Bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage by trading).” (Al-Baqarah 2:198) Ibn Abbas (rta) recited the verse in this way. (Bukhari)

However, the modes of acquiring goods have greatly changed over the years. Today is the age of shopping malls and centres, which have turned the necessity of shopping into a form of entertainment.

Mall Ambiance

The modern shopping malls have been strategically designed to invite people to spend maximum time there. These mammoth structures offer every form of entertainment and catering services. The atmosphere is such that hours pass without even noticing that morning has turned into afternoon.

Most Hated Place

Rasulullah (sa) has stated: “The most despised of places to Allah on earth are the bazaars and the most beloved of places are the Masaajid.” (Muslim) Now, let us take a look at our malls / bazaars and try to see the reasons, why they are referred to as hated places:

Bazaars are very colourful and attractive. They conjure an atmosphere of unmindfulness and oblivion. The thoughts about Allah (swt) are furthest from the heart.

A vast variety of worldly goods are on display. These give rise to passions and desires.

Not only the goods are on display, but women and men of all ages can be seen displaying their style and beauty.

The ever-present music makes Zikrullahdifficult. Thus, it becomes a favourable home for Shaitan and other impure creations.

It is also very easy to miss Salaah while shopping. Most of such fancy shopping malls offer all kinds of facilities, but very few provide Salaah areas for ladies.

Protective Measures

Rasulullah (sa) guided the Ummah regarding every detail of human life. The necessity of going to the bazaar was also shown to us by Rasulullah (sa). When entering the bazaar, one should keep in mind certain etiquettes:

Time your shopping in such a way that it falls between Salaah times, for example – going immediately after Zuharprayer and coming back by Asr. Another alternative is shopping in malls that provide prayer facilities.

Be mindful of what you wear. Avoid tight-fitting, short and transparent clothes. Some girls / ladies wear Abayasonly in market places, which is indeed a good starting point.

The Prophet (sa) said: “There are two types of the people of Hell, whom I have not seen… (one type are) women who are clothed yet naked, going astray and leading others astray, with their heads looking like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance may be detected from such and such a distance.” (Muslim)

A Hadeeth mentions that if a person recites the following upon entering the bazaar –

La ilaaha illallahu wahdahu la shareekalahu lahul mulku walahul hamdu yuhyee wa yumeetu wahuwa hayyun la yamut biyadihil khair wahuwa ala kulli shay’in qadeer

Allah (swt) will record for him a million good deeds and pardon for him a million sins, raise him a million ranks and a house will be built for him in Jannah. (Mishkaat)

The outstanding benefit of this Dua is that the reward gets earned by reciting these words in the bazaar. Significantly, if the very same words are recited in a Masjid or in Salaah, the reward will not be as great as when recited in the bazaar. This indicates the heedlessness prevalent in such an environment; hence, the multiple rewards.

Make a list of shops you plan to visit and be focused. Look around for good bargains but be conscious of the time.

While bargaining, ladies need to be mindful of their tone of voice. It should not be too friendly or too rude but maintain distance and decorum gracefully. Remember, you might have been going to the same shop for a very long time, but the shopkeeper is not your Mahram. Laughing and cracking jokes might get you a good bargain; however, such acts are below the dignity of Mominaat.

Do Zikrwhenever possible.

Alhumdulillah, keeping within the boundaries of Shariah, we can enjoy and make the most of our shopping sprees. We ask Allah (swt) to protect us, keep us chaste and make our commitment to religion good and strong. May Allah (swt) guide us all, Ameen.

Some Karachi malls / shopping centres, which offer prayer areas for ladies:

Dolmen Mall, Tariq Road

Plaza Shopping Mall, Clifton

Gulfway Shopping Mall, Clifton

Park Towers Mall, Clifton

Circadian Rhythm

Digital CameraAlhamdulillah, I have a six month old daughter, and every day is full of witnessing wonders of Allah (swt). One thing, which always amazed me, is that healthy babies get up in the early hours of the morning, around Fajr time. This observation sent me to the computer for searching on the Internet about ‘body clocks.’ As I was doing that, I discovered more wonders of Allah’s (swt) creations.

Circadian Rhythm

All living beings have body clocks including humans, plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. This body clock is a 24-hour, 11-minute cycle that exists in the physiological processes of all living things. These cycles became known as ‘circadian rhythm.’ It comes from the Latin word Circa (around) and Dies (day), literally meaning ‘about a day.’ These rhythms are generated within the body, although they can be modulated by external cues, such as light and temperature.

Circadian clocks sense light through a process that transfers energy from light to chemical reactions in cells. These clocks in cells respond to differences in light between night and day and thereby allow organisms to anticipate changes in the environment by pacing their metabolism to this daily cycle.

Circadian Rhythm in Plants and Animals

In plants, the circadian rhythm controls processes, including leaf and petal movements, the opening and closing of stomatal pores, the discharge of floral fragrances and many metabolic activities.

The sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals and their patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, digestion, cell regeneration and other biological activities are linked to this daily cycle.

Human Body’s Pacemaker

In humans, the circadian clock serves as a pacemaker and is located deep within the brain, where it helps the body keep time. This is the ‘master clock’ of the human body. It controls a number of body functions and interacts with the mechanisms controlling sleep. Recent studies have revealed that organs outside the brain, such as liver, lungs, spleen, etc., have their own rhythm and work independently.

Research has revealed that the circadian clock is affected by light. Darkness stimulates sleep and sunrise triggers the chemical process that enables a person to begin waking up. In the evening, the pineal gland in the base of our brain begins producing the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. For most people, studies show that the pressure to sleep builds up throughout the day and peaks around 9 -10 pm. At this time, the body’s temperature starts to drop and lowers about one degree during sleep. As it starts to rise around 4 am, the likelihood of waking increases, and this increase in temperature revives our metabolism for the day ahead.

At dawn, our blood pressure has its sharpest rise, allowing us to assume a vertical position safely. Around lunchtime, our liver enzymes kick into full gear in anticipation of food.

Human body clock also has a built-in alarm system, which is why we often wake up, before our alarm goes off. Researchers conclude that hormones increase because of our anticipation, which is widely thought to be a characteristic unique to conscious action. This pervades sleep and facilitates spontaneous waking. It has also been found that older people rise earlier than young ones.

Out of Sync

Experiments by researchers have revealed that our constant exposure to artificial light is leaving our bodies out of sync with the light rhythms of the natural world. In modern society, we are regularly exposed to artificial light, both in the work place and after the sunset. This extended exposure to artificial light late into the night, along with the shielding from sunlight by curtains and shades early in the morning, could be wreaking havoc with our natural biological clocks.

Disruption

Disruption of rhythms usually has a negative effect in the short term. Many travelers experience the condition known as jet lag, with its associated symptoms of fatigue, disorientation and insomnia.

Disruption of rhythms in the long term is believed to have significant adverse health consequences on peripheral organs outside the brain, particularly in the development or exacerbation of cardiovascular diseases.

Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Rasoolullah (sa) used to sleep immediately after the Isha prayer, which must have been around 10 pm in Arabia, and he would wake up for Tahajjud, i.e., before Fajr prayer. May be he used to wake up around 4 am, which according to research is the natural circadian time to wake up. However, one constant Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) is that he used to take a short nap in the afternoon for 30 to 45 minutes. This is another thing that researchers are finding very helpful in increasing effectiveness and productivity of a person. In fact, they call it ‘power nap.’

Conclusion

Allah (swt) says in Surah Fussilat (41:53): “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth.”

The circadian clock is a sign of Allah (swt) in our own selves. It is an example of His mercy, organisation, tender love, supreme power over mankind and all His living creations. Moreover, the waking and sleeping pattern of Rasool Allah (sa) shows, how close he was to nature and natural laws, Subhan’Allah.

Origins of Basant

basantThe roots of this festival can be traced as far back as ancient times. Originally, this festival was called Vasantotsav (Vasant + Utsav (festival)) and is also known as Vasant Panchami – Hindu Spring festival. In Sanskrit, ‘Vasant’ means ‘Spring (season)’ and ‘Panchami’ means ‘the fifth day.’ As the name indicates, this festival falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month Magh (February), which is the beginning of the Spring season. It is a season, when nature regenerates and everything is fresh and new. New life is evident in the woods and fields. Mustard fields turn into a heady mix of yellow and green, as the blossoms add colour. Since the yellow colour has special importance on this day, people wear yellow dresses. Men and boys wear yellow Turbans or shirts, while women and girls – yellow Chunries or Duppattas.

They get together and erect special Dias for this day, where they hold Puja and community lunch. Kite flying is popular on this day. In some traditional homes, sweet dishes are exchanged with relatives and friends. A dash of saffron is added to the sweet dishes for getting a yellow tinge. Many people go to temple to offer Halwa or sweet rice as a Prasad to the god. Hindu people associate Basant with freshness and a new beginning in all spheres of life. This festival is widely celebrated in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries, where there are Hindu communities.

Pagan roots

This festival is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She is considered to be the feminine counterpart of lord Brahma, who according to Hindu mythology is the creator of the universe. Saraswati is usually shown as the fair skinned eternally young goddess, dressed in white and yellow garments. She has four hands. She is holding a book in one hand and a Japamala (rosary string) in another. She is playing a Veena (musical instrument) with the other two hands.

‘Book’ symbolizes the Vedas (spiritual knowledge and wisdom), and ‘Japamala’ symbolizes meditation and contemplation or concentration. She is sitting on a lotus, which symbolizes creation (life), love and kindness. The white swan that accompanies her symbolizes purity and peace. As a patron of arts, she plays a song on the instrument Veena. All her characteristics symbolize that she is a goddess of learning, wisdom and all kinds of knowledge, including science and music. She is the master of 64 arts, of which the art of love is the first and most important. It is believed that she is the energy of lord Brahma. With her knowledge, she helps lord Brahma in generation of the world.

Schools, colleges and other educational institutions organize special worship of Saraswati and other cultural activities. It is a custom to begin a child’s education on this day of Basant. Before starting, the children are expected to recite the following Shloka: “Saraswathi Namastubhyam Varade Kamarupini Vidyarambam Karishyami Sidhirbhavatu Mesada. (Oh Saraswati, sitting on the beautiful lotus flower, I am beginning my education, so always bless me.)”

Highlights of Vasant Panchami

1)      The festival falls in the month of February.

2)      It is dedicated to the goddess Saraswati.

3)      Saraswati is the goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom.

4)      Saraswati is the energy of lord Brahma. She helps lord Brahma in the creation of new world.

5)      It is said that Hindus should chant Saraswati Shloka before study.

Current trends in Pakistan

Punjab and Lahore particularly have started celebrating Basant. The most important event of the festival is kite-flying at night in the Walled City of Lahore.

The sky is filled with colorful kites, tracked by searchlights, dancing to the music of the decks on the rooftops blaring out Bhangra tunes. Banks, multinational companies and hotels have started using this event for public relations. Also the Punjab government has claimed a stake in the festivities.

Nowadays, people are of the view that such festivals have a liberating effect. They provide a brief interlude with freedom from the toils of daily existence and a bit of fun.

Accidents and deaths

According to Dawn (15th February, 2007), ten people were reportedly killed and over 100 injured in Basant-related incidents in different parts of Lahore alone. Doctors said the people brought to the hospitals were either injured by chemical coated and metal strings, electrocuted, had fallen from rooftops or had indulged in fights over kite flying.

Three died from injuries they suffered in road accidents. One person was run over by a bus, and a nine-year-old was hit and killed by a van on Multan Road, when he was trying to catch a stray kite. Yet another unidentified teenager was killed in a similar road accident near Kalma Chowk.

Three people died after falling from rooftops in Gowalmandi, Gujjarpura and New Muslim Town. They were 18, 15 and 8 years old. The hospitals had made special arrangements to deal with the injured people, most of them youngsters. Half of the injured admitted to the hospitals were discharged after first aid, and the rest were treated till late night.

According to the city police chief, most of the deaths happened due to mistakes made by the deceased themselves.

148 people were arrested for using materials that are banned for kite flying – 91 spools of metal and chemical string and 470 kites were seized from them. Special police squads and traffic policemen remained on duty and swooped down on those committing violations.

“We have been strictly instructed not to go after those buying liquor from hotels and not to smell people’s mouth,” a policeman standing outside a city hotel said.

Islamic ruling on celebration of festivals

A festival or fest is an event, usually staged by a local community, which centers on some theme, sometimes on some unique aspect of the community. Among many religions, a feast or festival is a set of celebrations in honour of God or gods. In the case of Basant, the festival is in honour of the goddess Saraswati.

It was narrated that Abd-Allah Bin Umer said: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them.’” (Abu Dawood)

Islam is a religion of Fitrat (nature). Islam acknowledges the need for humans to relax and have clean fun. However, Allah (swt) has set His limits.

The Prophet (sa) said: “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” (Bukhari)

The first of Shawal (Eid-ul-Fitr) and the tenth of Zil Hajj (Eid-ul-Adha)

The Prophet (sa) said: “They are days of eating, drinking and remembrance of Allah.” (Bukhari)

It is important to remember that every event or experience in a Muslim’s life should bring him closer to Allah (swt), and the same is true for celebrations. Nearly every celebration has roots in some religious belief, and, therefore, it is not appropriate for a Muslim to indulge in non-Islamic festivities. It is at times like these that one can easily forget the limits set by Allah (swt) and go astray. After all, it is simply impossible to remember Allah (swt) and do Bhangra or have liquor simultaneously. May Allah (swt) protect and guide us all, Ameen.

Lal Masjid in Focus

Vol 4-Issue 3 Lal Masjid in focusDr. Israr Ahmed gave two lectures on the incidence of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. Here are the excerpts from his speech.

Historical background of Jihadi movements

When the Colonial rule was coming to an end, Muslims around the world started waking up like a sleeping giant from a deep slumber. They remembered that they once had a Deen, their own socio-political system, a glorious past an independent identity. This self awareness gave rise to a number of movements that wanted to re-establish Islamic values and systems. These movements were all contemporaries and had the same driving force. Their motive was to re-establish Islam.

There were movements in Indonesia, Turkey, Iran. The Indo-Pak sub-continent also had its share of such Tehreeks, namely: Hizbullah of Maulana Abu Kalam Azad (1913-1920), Tablegi Jamat of Maulana Ilyas, Jamat ul Muslimeen of the Khairi Brothers, Tahreek-e-Mujahideen in Aligarh, etc. All these movements had good intentions, Khuloos and Ikhlaas, zeal and passion. They even had very clear objectives and target. However, they had no workable methodology for establishing Deen and that was the reason, why none of these Jamaats was successful. These groups tried the prevailing systems of democracy, electoral system but they failed.

However, the USA could see their force, zeal and passion. It realized that if harnessed, these people can move mountains and are not afraid to die. Dying for the cause of Deen is a big honour. At that time, communist Soviet Union was a threat to the American capitalist ideology. The USA decided to use the Muslim world, and the result was the Afghan war. Muslims from all over the world came with sincerity and for the establishment of Deen. Their intensions are not at all questionable but the hands behind them were.

The USA distributed millions of copies of the Glorious Quran and fueled the spirit of Jihad for its own cause. It also supplied arms and ammunition. At the same time, Pakistan also decided to use these Jihadis to serve their own purpose to liberate occupied Kashmir. Thus started a culture of Jihadis – people with good intentions, great motivation and clear target, but no effective methodology.

Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa

Lal Masjid was one of the first mosques built in Islamabad. The clergy of Lal Masjid became an off-shoot of the Jihadi culture promoted by America and Pakistani government. The students at the Jamia Hafsa, under Lal Masjid, were taught the Quran and the spirit of Jihad, all with good intentions and right objectives.

However, the attitude of the USA and Pakistan towards the Jihadis changed after the Afghan war, as they foresaw a threat that might harm them. Hence, they withdrew their support of these Jihadis.

Now, the same Jihadis couldn’t alter their ideologies based on a mission. When they saw Pakistan marching on the road to secularism, they decided to take the law into their own hands, committing a mistake.

At that time, general Pervaiz Musharraf was treading on disturbed waters. His standing and support inside the country was falling. The mayhem involving Supreme court Chief Justice Chaudry was gaining momentum. Then, there was the APC in London.

Now, the taking over of children’s library by the Lal Masjid brigade provided the right kind of distraction. Here was a group of religious extremist militants, and he was the knight in shining armour. He let the small pimple grow into a big infected tumor and then did a major operation. An operation that took many lives of women and children. This military operation could have been easily avoided by using antibiotics of timely negotiations.

Hamid Mir wrote in this article for “Jang” (July 12) that Abdur Rasheed Ghazi said that if their gas, electricity and water supplies were cut off immediately, they could not have stayed locked up for too long in the children’s library. The government kept delaying taking action on the grounds that there were women and children involved. Actually, they could have easily sent women police officers from all over the country for the raid, but no such efforts were made.

However, the leader of Pakistan received a lot of praise and applause from Britain, China and the USA for his stand on fight against terrorism and extremism. Now, his position is better – he has gained support of foreign countries at the cost of his own people’s lives.

Consequences:

This unfortunate showdown of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa will have very serious consequences. On one hand, the militant Jihadi groups will become more aggressive because of the martyrdom of Sheikh Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, and on the other – the secular movements will also strengthen their efforts. More and more Masajids and Madrassahs will be brought down. The polarization has become very clear.

May Allah (swt) help, guide and protect us all. Ameen.

Hospitality towards Pilgrims

gifts boxesHajj was performed in Makkah even before the advent of Islam. It was supposedly done as a Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (as) but was more of a business cum social event rather than an act of worship for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. However, one quality of the Arabs that withstood the test of time was their hospitality towards the pilgrims.

The tribe of Quraish, who were the custodians of the Kabah, would go to great lengths in providing food and lodging for the visitors. Trade fairs were organized. A lot of care went into the entertainment and pleasure of the pilgrims. So much so that the pilgrims spent more time in these trade and fun fairs than in performing the Hajj rituals.

The situation is not very different today. Every year, the Saudi government works hard to cater to millions of pilgrims. The pilgrims themselves shop before Hajj in Makkah and Madinah for relatives at home. Some Hajjis consider it essential to buy gold for family members! Prayer mats and beads are a must on the shopping list.

As shopping in Saudi riyals is expensive, some people have come up with an ingenious plan to buy presents in their own countries and distribute them after returning from Hajj, implying that they are from Saudi Arabia. Bringing home deception from Hajj is certainly not a wise option. In some families, relatives give money to the departing pilgrims to help them in shopping for gifts for them, when they return home.

These cultural practices have overburdened us. We don’t find any record of how the Prophet (sa) greeted the pilgrims or how he was greeted after his Hajj; however, it surely is against the spirit of Islam to put undue pressure on the people.

Islam teaches us that it is good to exchange gifts. However, making it obligatory on specific occasions takes away the spirit of giving presents. Not only does the pilgrim waste precious time thinking and shopping for the right gift for everyone, he ends up compromising his Ibaadat for shopping. The pilgrimage of a lifetime becomes like any other vacation.

After the Hajj begins the party season. Every family member and close friend is obliged to give a party in honour of the returning Hajji. The pilgrim must also be given a gift in accordance to the status and closeness of relation. All this hoopla for a compulsory obligation – the fifth pillar of Islam? An obligation that is purely to pay homage to the greatness of Allah (swt) ends up in projection and celebration of the Hajjis. These parties are a burden on the relatives, especially if their budget does not allow it.

 

If we want to avoid this custom, we should inform our family and friends, before proceeding for Hajj. A Hajji should spend all his time in Ibaadat. He should try to make the most of this opportunity to cleanse his soul and build his relationship with Allah (swt). On his return, he can bring Zamzam water, which should be an ideal gift for all the near and dear ones. If someone insists on a Dawat or gift, then he should accept it with humility, knowing in his heart that he has only performed an obligation by Allah’s (swt) Will and Mercy.

Glaring Expenses

Vol 4-Issue 3 Glaring ExpensesMarriage is an intrinsic part of life, especially in our socio-religious and family-oriented culture. Each class of the society spends an exorbitant sum of money, which is beyond their particular economic reach, to make the occasion memorable. Since numbers speak a vivid language, a comparison has been chalked out for our readers to understand how much a Pakistani wedding cost today.

It costs a middle class Pakistani no less than Rs. 200,000 to marry off each of their daughters, which by any standard is not a small amount. A person earning Rs.10,000 – 15,000 salary strives hard to meet marriage expenses within Rs. 200,000. He may also have to use some 20 % of his savings and rely on the gifts from close relatives in order to include them in the cost of the dowry.

The elite class takes the whole affair very seriously, and the wedding expenses may estimate over Rs.10 million. In some cases, expenses cross the hefty sum of Rs. 40 million, as decorated bungalows in posh areas are a part of the expensive dowry package.

Their wedding functions, called Dholkis, start 10 to 15 days before the actual wedding day. Sometimes reputed local singers are paid half a million rupees or more to perform for just one night, while some extremely rich people hire singers from India. In some instances, professional dancers are hired a month earlier to train the women of the family to perform at the Rasm-e-Hina ceremony.

Instead of procuring flowers from the local florist, many upper-class families import bouquets from Thailand, Holland, etc. The tradition of distributing only dry dates among the guests after the Nikah ceremony is outdated. Now, costlier packets made of shinning and silky fabric are purchased to encase assorted dry fruits.

For such families, wedding guests mostly comprise of bureaucrats, foreign diplomats, army personnel and dignitaries. The wedding turns into an important event for networking with high profile local and foreign personalities.

Digital photography and movie making has replaced the old VHS technology. The rate of wedding movies and still-photograph packages range from Rs. 13,000 to Rs. 80,000. Bridal make-up rates vary from Rs. 3,000 in lower and middle income class areas to Rs. 8,000 in upper middle class areas. In DHA and Clifton (Karachi), the rate ranges between Rs. 10,000 – 15,000.

New trends in decorating the venue have arrived with the introduction of net tents with chandlers and beaming search lights and even full velvet tents. The rent of tent decorations ranges between Rs. 40 to Rs. 500 per head depending on the demand.

A non-compromising attitude of self-projection is the driving force of many wedding expenses today. One may only wonder, what more is to come?

According to a random survey, families bear the following expenses at their daughter’s wedding:

Income of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 125,000-150,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 60,000-70,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 50,000-200,000
  • Wedding dress and accessories – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Rasm-e-Hina party – Rs. 25,000-30,000

Income of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 60,000-80,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 30,000-40,000,
  • Bridal dress – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 5,000-8,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 80,000-100,000