Google brings Ramadan traditions online

http://www.youtube.com/MakkahLive

Google’s bringing tradition and technology closer together by putting a digital spin on the holy month of Ramadan.

As explained in a blog post by Maha Abouelenein — Google’s head of communications for the Middle East and North Africa — the search engine giant will have a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing Islamic prayers live from Makkah, a new YouTube channel which will offer 50 “premium Ramadan shows” on the same day that they air, and Google+ Hangouts which will begin after sundown.

The Google+ Hangouts will coincide with the traditional evening break-the-fast meals (called the “Iftar”) and involve celebrity chefs who will share recipes, doctors who will give pointers on healthy eating habits, actors who’ll talk about their favorite Ramadan shows, poets, religious figures and more.

http://www.youtube.com/MakkahLive

Ramadan : But I don’t want Forgiveness!!

 

For almost every one of us, there’s something we know we need to change but simply won’t. How we think we know ourselves and our intentions, but really, we don’t. But in Ramadan, a lot of unpleasant things come to surface because the devils are chained and the depths of our hearts are exposed.

Yet most of us still manage to wriggle out of obedience to Allah, and the excuses abound… but in each excuse, there’s one key component that’s missing. Allah.

I don’t mean His name is absent. For most of us, it’s actually Allah’s name we use to justify our wrong.

Allah is Forgiving. Allah knows my heart. Allah’s my judge…

Or our favorite…

When I change, I’ll do it for Allah, not because people asked me to…

Yet Allah says, “And make not Allah’s (name) an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly…” (2:224).

When we’re not blaming Allah for our sins, we’re blaming our natural human weakness. And it’s true; humans are weak. But the truth is that this isn’t our chief shortcoming. But human weakness is the chief shortcoming for those with high emaan. Those with low emaan have as their chief shortcoming a diseased heart.

The strong believers constantly strive to do what’s right, but because of human weakness, they inevitably fall short. But their energy is spent striving against sin, not giving in to it.

The weakest believers don’t even bother striving; they’re quite comfortable in their life of sin. Their energy is spent defending their sin, not fighting against it.

… I don’t want forgiveness. I don’t want to change. I like the wrong I’m doing…

This is what it really boils down to. Otherwise, we’d just make du’a, and pray that Allah makes it easy for us to do what’s right, even if we fall short at times.

But it starts with wanting change. And that’s not an easy thing for the human heart, especially for those of us content with our low emaan and life of sin.

Yet…

All will be forgiven during the month of Ramadan, except those who do not want to be forgiven. And who does not want to be forgiven?

Those who do not ask.

The month of Ramadan is, more than anything, a month of opportunity. It’s a time to set right things that are wrong. It’s a time to change course, even as you’ve no idea how you’ll walk that new path. It’s a time to ask for change, to beg for change, to cry for it — even if part of you doesn’t even want it.

And it’s okay if you have no idea how you’ll manage wearing hijab, praying regularly, shutting off that TV, or leaving alone those “cute” girls or guys.

It’s okay, because it’s not you you’re turning to for help. It’s Allah.

And Allah is able to do all things.

Let us remember, too, that Allah is All-Forgiving. But, of course, to benefit from Allah’s Forgiveness, we first have to want it. And wanting forgiveness isn’t just saying we want it, or just uttering a prayer. It means we regret our sin. It means we hate our sin. And it means we take every step to avoid it.

And we never give up fighting against it.

That’s what it means to want Allah’s forgiveness.

That’s what it means to ask for it.

So it is upon each of us to closely examine our lives—and hearts—and ask ourselves a simple question.

Do you want forgiveness?

If our answer is yes, we know Who to turn to for help and guidance.

If our answer is no… well, there’s nothing for us to do except what we’ve always been doing.

Ramadan : Teaching Children the Five Pillars

Source: saudilife | By Aisha Al Hajjar, AMANI

TEACHING deen (religion) to our children is a huge obligation upon all parents. Generally, Muslim children begin to imitate the movements of salat (daily prayers) long before they are able to speak a word, let alone understand its significance or recite surats (verses of Quran), masha’Allah. In fact, as soon as they are able to crawl (9 or 10 months old), children of practicing Muslims will typically attempt to make sujoud (prostration) when they hear, “Allahu Akhbar (meaning Allah is the Greatest, the opening phrase of the daily salat),” or see the prayer rug put down.

As they begin to master speech (around 2) we can begin focus on teaching surats and the words of worship that should accompany their prayer movements. In this way, they learn the steps needed to fulfill this important pillar of Islam: performing their five daily salat, long before it is incumbent upon them, insha’Allah.

In fact, memorizing the five pillars of Islam is an important part of learning the religion for all Muslims, regardless if they are raised in the deen or revert to it at a later age. But we must do more than just teach the rote memorization of the list:

  • Shahadah (the testimony in the belief in just one God, Allah)
  • Salat (the five daily prayers)
  • Zakat (obligatory charity)
  • Sawm (fasting during Ramadan)
  • Hajj (at least once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Makkah for religious worship)

It’s important that parents model these pillars in order for our children to begin to understand their meaning and how they apply to their daily lives, insha’Allah.

Shahadah is easily memorized but probably the most difficult to model. Since it is a belief rather than a physical act, parents must discuss with children that it is to Allah who we turn to for help and that it is HE alone that we worship. It will take time for children to truly be cognizant of this concept (school age or preteen) but the dialogue can begin from an early age, insha’Allah.

As we are in the blessed month of Ramadan, young children are observing adults fasting and they begin to sense the anticipation of breaking fast as Maghrib prayer time draws near. Many children begin to look forward to their first Ramadan fast and often times practice fasting before it becomes incumbent upon them. Some will begin by fasting half days or even starting full fasting at an early age, masha’Allah.

By modeling Ramadan fasting with joy, love, and fear of Allah, we are instilling yet another important pillar of Islam: sawm (fasting) during Ramadan. Whether or not parents observe, the fast coupled with how they convey their feelings and reasons for it will make a difference in the child’s perception of this purifying act of worship.

Just as children begin to explore the easy to observe physical aspects of salat and sawm at an early age, they also have the capacity to learn about another pillar: zakat (charity). This is less applicable to children since it refers to an obligatory payment of charity based on wealth retained over a specific time period. However, a related act of worship that can be shared by children is sadaqah (voluntary charity).

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mu’awiyah al-Ghadiri: AbuDawud said: I read in a document possessed by Abdullah ibn Salim at Hims: Abdullah ibn Mu’awiyah al-Ghadiri reported the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: He who performs three things will have the taste of the faith. (They are:) One who worships Allah alone and one believes that there is no god but Allah; and one who pays the zakat on his property agreeably every year. One should not give an aged animal, nor one suffering from itch or ailing, and one most condemned, but one should give animals of medium quality, for Allah did not demand from you the best of your animals, nor did He command you to give the animals of worst quality.

Children can be encouraged to donate outgrown clothing, unused toys, and other belongings as soon as they are old enough to understand the concept of giving (around 4). They should be involved in selecting which items to give and should be taught to part with items of their own personal property that are still in good condition, rather than using charity as a way to dump broken or unwanted items. They can also give a portion of any cash they may have, whether it be money they have earned or were given as a gift.

Making pilgrimage during the month of Hajj is an act of worship that should be performed when the child is old enough to fully understand each step and its significance (puberty). However, younger children can begin to watch the event on television and if feasible, can even make the trip before they are old enough for it to “count.”

Obviously, the five pillars of Islam is just the tip of the iceberg. Muslim parents have many obligations towards their children with regards to teaching deen. But the most important thing to remember is that our children are mirrors of our actions. Whatever we model for them is typically what we will see reflected back, especially in the formative years.

Allah truly has trusted parents with a huge responsibility for their children. Surely this is a huge test. But with every hardship comes ease and few things are sweeter than the rewards of witnessing a 10-month-old making sujood or engaging in deep philosophical discussions about deen with a teenager, masha’Allah.

May Allah bless the parents and children of the Ummah and accept our fasts and good deeds during this blessed month of Ramadan.

Ramadan : Iftar time at Masjid Nabawi

A view of Prophet’s Mosque (Madinah) at the time of iftar during Ramadan.

The Beautiful Wisdom of Fasting

Edited version of Shaikh Muhammad bin Salih Al-Uthaymeen’s abridged work Majaalis Shahr Ramadan [pp. 41-43] that was translated by Isma’eel Alarcon. (al-manhaj.com)

FASTING—from dawn to dusk—is an act of worship done for Allah. The ‘Abd draws closer to His Lord by staying away from things he loves and desires like food, drink and sex. As a result, he achieves a sense of truthfulness in faith and completeness in his servitude to Allah, thereby increasing his love for Allah and longing for the reward Allah has prepared for His true slaves.

This is because the person who fasts gives up what he likes and desires only for the sake of something that is more beloved to him. When a Muslim knows that Allah’s contentment and pleasure lies in fasting—which includes giving up the desires he naturally loves—, he will give preference to his Lord’s pleasure over his desires. So the Muslim refrains from his desires no matter how much he wants to fulfill them because his soul’s tranquility and delight lies in leaving them for the sake of Allah.

Wisdom of fasting

1. Means of attaining Taqwa

Allah said:

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, in order that you gain Taqwaa.”

Taqwa is attained because a fasting person has been commanded to do what is obligatory and avoid what is sinful. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever does not abandon false speech, acting upon that (false speech) and (acts of) ignorance (i.e. sins), then Allah has no need of him abandoning his food and drink.” [Al-Bukhari]

So when one desires to commit a sin, he will withhold himself by remembering that he is fasting. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered the fasting person, when he is cursed at or abused, to say, “I am fasting.” It is a word of caution for the reviler that a fasting person is commanded to refrain from cursing and reviling and also a self-reminder that a fasting person cannot react in a similar fashion.

2. Contemplation and Dhikr

Fasting opens the heart to contemplation and remembrance of Allah. Fulfilling desires leads to heedlessness and the heart becoming perhaps hardened and blind to the truth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) therefore advised us to eat less. “The Son of Aadam does not fill a vessel worse than his stomach.” [Musnad Ahmad, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Majah]

In another narration in Sahih Muslim, Handhala Al-Usaidee (r), who was one of the scribes of Allah’s Messenger, said: “Handhala has become a hypocrite.” So the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Why is that?” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, when we are with you, you remind us of the Hellfire and Paradise, as if we see them with our own eyes. But when we depart from you, we meet our wives and our children and our homes and we forget much (of what we heard from you).” In the last part of the Hadeeth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said and repeated to him three times: “But O Handhala, there is a time for this and a time for that.” Abu Sulaymaan Ad-Daraanee said: “Indeed, when the soul is hungry and thirsty, the heart becomes soft and pure. And when it is fed, the heart becomes blind.”

3. Realizing the blessing of wealth

Fasting makes a wealthy person realize the blessing Allah has bestowed on him. Allah gave him the blessing of food, drink and sex. Many people are deprived of these benefits. So fasting should make the person praise and thank Allah for the blessings; remember his poor and starving brothers; and lead him to be generous and charitable to end their hunger and help them meet their basic needs.

4. Training for the soul

Fasting trains the person to curb the self. It gives us strength to hold the soul by its bridle and lead it to what is good and what will make it prosper. The inner self tempts and commands one to do evil. So when a person let’s go of the bridle, his inner self will land him into trouble and danger. But when he controls it, he is able to reach the highest of levels and achieve the greatest of goals.

Fasting subdues the soul and restricts it from having pride to the point that the soul humbles itself to the truth and becomes soft before the creation.

Eating, drinking and sex foster insolence, arrogance and vanity over the truth and over other people. The inner self is constantly busy pursuing these things because of its need for them. When it achieves them, the soul feels as if it has conquered what it desired and hence falls into a state of pride that is condemned. This is the cause of the soul’s destruction. Only those whom Allah protects are saved from this.

5. Curbing devil’s influence

Fasting narrows down the passageways of blood in the body, which in turn adversely affects the passageways of the devil in the human body. The devil flows through the son of Adam (human being) like the flowing of blood, as authentically reported in the two Saheehs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). So by fasting, the whispering of the devil is subdued and the strength of one’s desires and anger is subjugated. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “O young men! Whoever amongst you can afford it, should get married, for it is the best means for lowering one’s gaze and the best way of keeping (one’s) private parts chaste. But whoever is not able to marry, then let him fast, for it has protection.”

6. Health benefits

By eating less food, fasting gives the digestive system some respite. Excess waste and excrements that are harmful to the body are discharged during this period.

So how great and profound is the wisdom of Allah, and how beneficial are His commandments to His creatures!

O Allah, give us comprehension of Your Religion and allow us to understand the inner secrets of Your commandments. Rectify for us the affairs of our Religion and our worldly life. And forgive us and our parents and all the Muslims, by Your mercy, O Most Merciful. And may the peace and blessings of Allah be on Muhammad (saws) and on his family and all his Companions.

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