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Covert Fasting for Converts to Islam

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Covert Fasting for Converts

Dear New Muslim

Even though you feel alone, and this Ramadan is a struggle, we are proud of you and praying for you.

Every pain you feel and every challenge you face we increase in your love. We support you and wish to provide you with some tools to help you at this trying time.

Keep in mind that each circumstance and situation calls for a different course of action. The following are only suggestions and you are best suited to implement what works for you.

Muslims around the world share the bond of fasting as a brotherhood around the world.  A big part of the difficulty of fasting is relieved when everyone around you is also fasting, openly.

But what if no one knows you’re Muslim?  Many of us, New Muslims, have not disclosed the decision of embracing Islam to our family and loved ones.

 How can you fast when everyone expects you to eat?  In some situations, your family may not have accepted your conversion to Islam and will pressure you to eat.

Here are some creative ways that you can use to avoid the awkwardness of being the only one in the room not eating:

 6 Tips for Fasting in Secret

1. Deflect and Avoid

If invited to a dinner or a party, excuse yourself out.  No one can force you to attend a gathering, like a birthday, where partaking in food will play a central role.  You can opt out of that cake and ice cream by simply telling your family, friends, or co-workers, that you “don’t feel like it”. You can soften the blow by asking for a rain check and promising to make it up to them at a different time.

2. Excuses, excuses

If getting out of the gathering is unavoidable, simply refrain from eating. You may opt out at the table, and join in the conversation.  There is no need to lie or make up a false excuse. It is doubtful that you will be pressured to eat if you refuse, and unlikely that someone present will force you to eat. If you are physically forced to eat, you would be excused and should not feel guilty.

3. Get busy

If you are at home and there is an event that will put pressure on you to eat or drink, you could make yourself busy in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house, preparing for the guests. You can stay busy while the meal is served, or start cleaning up.

4. Home away from home

If you predict that when you return home at a certain time, you will be caught fasting, then stay out. Go to the library or to a museum or another place that will occupy your time until you imagine the meal at home is over. Your alibi can be reinforced if you take up a class that brings you home after the sun has set.

5. Time for Eating

If invited out, or to plan an event where you will feel this pressure, plan it so that it extends past the time the sun sets.  You can duck out to offer your prescribed ritual devotion and come back to the event to break your fast.  If the choice is there to decide between a daytime or night-time gathering, choose the late one so that you can eat and drink along with the rest of the group.

Build Your Faith While Alone

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Build your Faith While Alone

Being in a group of Muslims remembering God can be a great boost for our faith. For those of us who are not blessed with the ability to mingle with observant Muslims and benefit from them, it can be a struggle to increase faith in our hearts. While some new Muslims have access to physical Muslim communities, many of us are on our own to seek knowledge without real life community. Many of us find other Muslims virtually but it causes so much confusion due to conflicting information and the vulnerability of not knowing who to ask and who to listen to.

You are reading this online, which means you are already aware of the programs that the New Muslim Academy offers for new Muslims.  We have a forum to which you can contribute your conversion story, introduce yourself, and take part in discussions.

The most important step to building your faith in Islam is finding a trustworthy, empathetic and qualified teacher.  The teachers at NMA specialize in your service and are wisely aware of the struggles you go through. Continue to come back to the site to voice your concerns. Chances are, other converts to Islam are wondering the same things that are of concern to you.

With NMA, your knowledge base is covered. You can also find an avenue for social interactions with others going through your struggles.

What we find when we look into building faith in Islam is that it is a solitary activity.  Our relationship with God is an intimate one which takes dedication and consistency to build and strengthen. Consider the following acts which can help you strengthen your faith in Islam on a  daily basis:

1.Speak to God regularly and ask Him for help
2. Try to be consistent in offering your prescribed ritual devotion
3.Open the pages of the Quran randomly and read the translation of the phrases therein
4.Spend time alone each day without distractions or noise, whether at home or outdoors, and contemplate your surroundings, considering that God put all of it in motion through His wisdom and mercy.

The biggest mistake made with prayer

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The biggest mistake made with prayer

Interesting history tidbit: prior to Islam, the Arabs used the word ‘Salah’ which merely meant prayer. It meant the casual, any-time talking to God that has no rules or prerequisites. After God sent down the Quran, however, this word took on an entirely different meaning. The new meaning of ‘Salah’ is prescribed ritual devotion.

 

Translating ‘Salah’ as prayer is a mistake and causes confusion for many reasons, especially for new Muslims.

  1. While a person maybe used to just talking to God and asking Him for things, some people tell the new Muslim that prayer cannot be offered without ritual washing first, and facing a certain direction. This results in many new Muslims not praying to God outside of the prescribed ritual devotion.

  2. The supplications that the Messenger of God said and taught were all in Arabic since that was his language. The new Muslim gets the impression that as a Muslim one must talk to God in Arabic alone. This creates an invisible language barrier in our relationship with God.

  3. Offering the prescribed ritual devotion is a struggle for new Muslims. Having the wrong impression that Salah and prayer are one and the same, many feel very depressed as they feel that their worship has no meaning or is completely useless due to lack of punctually.

 

Most new Muslims (and born Muslims for that matter) are not Arabic-speaking.  The offering of the prescribed ritual devotion begins as something mechanical, involving body movements and foreign words.  Making sure to make this devotion on time each day is hard enough.  If the new Muslim has been told that prayer is “Salah”, they become frustrated as they are not communicating with God intimately and can not find spiritual fruits in their devotion.

 

Here is the good news for everyone, especially new Muslims:

“You don’t need to know Arabic to talk to God, nor to communicate with Him!

You don’t need to know Arabic to learn about Islam, or to pray to God.

Speak to God in your own language with your own words.

Prayer is something very important in Islam and is something we should do at all times. “

Shaykh Ahmad Al Kurdy

Your Fast Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

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You Don’t Have to Be Perfect.
Once I met a nice woman who was interested in Islam, learning a lot about its regulations. She even learned how to perform the ritual devotion before she became Muslim.
She had it in her head that once she becomes Muslim, she wanted to start off getting everything right.  But what she was trying to do, is not even possible. She thought she could get it perfect on the first try.
The point of the story is that when she accepted Islam, she realized that there was still a lot  more to learn, and a lot more to do. Unfortunately, this story is all too common. Many people get overwhelmed because they do not follow the prophetic guidance of gradual growth with proper guidance. They also start learning about regulations before the fundamental beliefs and basic foundations.
When you try fasting, and worshiping during Ramadan, just try your best.  God accepts all good deeds done for His sake, not just the perfected ones.  Check out what God says regarding trying:
“I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with my servant when he mentions Me.
If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself;
and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it.
If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length.
And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him fast.’”
So, trying is rewarded by God.  Ramadan is a month when each Muslim has the chance to look inside themselves and work on their shortcomings.  It’s a time of mercy, that we can have mercy on ourselves, and take our time in our own development.
Last year, I attended a webinar of super-wealthy Muslims who told us about their Ramadan goals. One amazing man mentioned he had a goal to feed 200,000 Muslims during the month Ramadan.  I have no doubt that he accomplished that.
At first, I thought, ‘What is that, compared to me just feeding my family?’
Then I remembered the spirit of Ramadan is NOT comparing yourself to others, but comparing yourself at the beginning, and the end of the month, and coming out a better Muslim.
So I’m writing this to say that you should take little steps towards whatever personal goals you have this Ramadan. If you beg God to help, and take those tiny steps, you will have a successful Ramadan.
Check out the tips in this Ramadan ebook. We have your back, and are here to help you achieve the greatness that you hope for in yourself.

 

The Definition of living Means Change

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BY: Sakina

 

Of the simplest science lessons offered to children is deciding whether a thing in the creation is living or nonliving.  Observation tells us that non-living things do not move, grow or change.  Change is the primary way that we can judge whether something created is living or not.  Having accepted Islam, you have changed something inside your heart.  You have decided to concern yourself with devotion to God and to prioritize your life for His worship. Although there may not be any physical change that people can notice about you, the most important change has taken place: a change of heart.

 

While you may go about your business throughout your day, you feel a renewed sense of purpose.  You may still attend work or school, prepare food, and groom yourself like before, but you may feel like you are doing these things for the first time.  A secret identity that you had has now become public. The real you is before the world.

 

What’s hard about embracing this new identity, is that those who knew you before you accepted Islam do not expect things to change.  You may find friends and family members who appreciate the ‘new’ you, but you will encounter among your contacts people who want everything to stop changing, to stagnate.  It will be challenging to pull away despite their wish that the motion of life should stop.  Life is all about changing, and the best changes are those that facilitate growth.  At times you feel ten feet tall, and other times you may feel smaller than you have ever been. Don’t let your past mistakes define who you are. Whatever bad decisions you made prior to accepting Islam, God will forgive you for doing, and reward you for changing for the better.

 

Stories abound from Islamic history of those with terrible pasts accepting Islam and erasing their sins by achieving excellence as Muslims.  What did these people possess that caused them to excel? What secret, what key component did they have that allowed them to rise above their dubious pasts and reach levels of greatness among Muslims? It was guidance.

 

Guidance was also the reason that those with good character and behavior as non Muslims were drawn to Islam, as they are shown the right way to God.

 

Guidance was the secret ingredient that made all the Prophets of God stand out, too. Be pleased that you share in that beautiful, amazing legacy of following the guidance that came to you.  You can also become an excellent Muslim. You can achieve a high status with God; you have an equal chance with every single Muslim to succeed at practicing Islam.

 

You can stand, as all amazing Muslims of the past did, in front of God when you pray, and beg for guidance from Him.  All the great Muslims prayed with that same prayer in the very first chapter of the Quran: it is a prayer requesting guidance, consistent guidance, an increase of guidance and firmness on the path. You are now a Muslim, and that is the first step. That opens the door. Keep moving, keep requesting the guidance of God, and He will place you on that well tread path.

Seeking Change in 2017

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These Are 8 Habits From The Quran for the New Muslim To Achieve Greatness

Greatness! We seek it, but often times in the wrong places.

 

God tells us in the Quran, “When guidance in revelation comes to you from Me, as it certainly will, there will be no fear for those who follow My guidance nor will they grieve.” 2:38

 

As new Muslims, we’ve made a lot of changes.  Let’s try to really transform ourselves in 2017, let’s take inspiration from these 8 habits from the Quran to achieve success and greatness in our lives.

 

  1. Spend time consciously listing what you are grateful for in your life

 

“Remember that your Lord promised, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you.” 14:7

 

It’s that simple. If what you seek is more of something, then consciously thank God for what you already have. Make a daily list of 3 things you are grateful for in your day.

 

  1. Stay focused on your target and race towards it

 

“Race toward your Lord’s forgiveness and a Garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in God and His messengers. That is God’s bounty which He bestows to whomever He pleases. God’s bounty is infinite.” 57:21

 

In more than one place in the Quran, God reminds us to race and be among the first towards doing good. To be a competitor in any race, one must have a target and a direct path towards it.

 

Make it a habit to take immediate action toward your goals, rather than delaying and procrastinating.

 

  1. Find your burning desire and motivation

 

“God does not change the condition of a people (for the worse) unless they change what is in themselves.” 13:11

 

We procrastinate or struggle with consistency when there is a lack of burning desire and motivation to achieve a goal. The more passion for a goal, the more persistent we should be.

 

Seek what excites you, take the steps, have a sense of self-responsibility, and God will magnify your results.  

 

  1. Ask God for every need, no matter how minuscule

 

“I am near. I respond to those who call Me” 2:186

 

Muhammad the Messenger taught us to ask God for our every need, even for salt or for a sandal strap when it breaks.  As converts to Islam, we may think that asking God for small things is not correct, yet we have this wonderful report from the Prophet.

 

We should convert our goals, milestones, and resolutions into supplications and prayers. Let’s ask God to help us achieve our dreams and greatest desires.

 

  1. Ask God for good in both this world and the next

 

“There are some who pray, ‘Our Lord give us good in this world’ and they will have no share in the Hereafter: others pray, ‘Our Lord, give us good in this world and in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire.’ “2:201

 

God teaches us to ask for goodness of both this world and the Hereafter. It is encouraged to ask for worldly needs (like career, marriage, health, or even leisure), so long as we are also asking for success in the next life.

 

  1. Structure and plan your day around the five daily prescribed ritual devotions

 

“When the prescribed ritual devotion has ended, disperse in the land and seek out God’s bounty. Remember God often so you may prosper.” 62:10

 

Our first priority of the day is to perform the five daily prescribed ritual devotions on time. This will first, ground us and increase blessings in our day, and second, result in productivity and consciousness of time.  As new Muslims this can be the most difficult change in our lives to make, but it is also the most important.

 

  1. Sleep early and start your day at dawn

 

“Did they not see that We gave them the night for rest, and the day for light? There truly are signs in this for those who believe.” 27:86

 

“Perform the prescribed ritual devotion (formal prayers) in the period from the time the sun is past its zenith till the darkness of the night, and recite the Quran at dawn. Dawn recitation is always witnessed (by the angels).” 17:78

 

Even the most successful people in the business and academic world start their day at dawn. Seek blessings from the words of God by reading from the Quran soon after your dawn prescribed ritual. You will find that your most productive work is in the morning, and your most restful sleep is at night.

 

  1. Stop and smell the flowers

 

“Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and lying on their sides. Who reflect on the creation of the heavens and earth: ‘Our Lord! You have not created this without purpose–You are far above that!– Protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’ ” 3:191

 

“In the creation of the heavens and earth; in the alternation of night and day; in the great ships that sail the seas with goods for people; in the water which God sends down from the sky to give life to the earth when it has been baren, scattering all kinds of creatures over it; in the changing of the winds and clouds that run their appointed courses between the sky and earth; there are signs in all these for those who use their minds.” 2:164

 

“It is He who spread out the earth, placed firm mountains and rivers on it; and made two of every kind of fruit; He causes night to cover the day. There truly are signs for people who reflect.” 13:3

 

It’s a busy, hectic world we live in. Make sure to take time out for self-care and reflection. Pause and reflect on your direction and purpose in life, while seeking inspiration from nature and scripture.
God bless you and grant you success.

Who is John the Baptist in Islam?

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The Biblical and Quranic narrative of John the Baptist have some similarities and variations. If you are a convert to Islam from Christianity, you will be familiar with the story.  In Islam, we know John as Yahya, a unique name give to him by God Himself.

Relationship to Jesus

 

Jesus1

Conception and Birth

 

Zechariah was an ageing Israelite Prophet reaching his nineties without having fathered any children. He lived in a time when religious leaders diluted and altered the Law of Moses. The spirit of the religion was quickly disappearing, and he feared who would take his place after his death.

 

As the patron and caretaker of the orphaned Mary, he checked on her in her chamber of worship where she remained for days without seeing a soul. Each time he entered, he found with her fresh food. Surprised, he asked, “From where has this come to you?”

 

She replied, “It is from God. Indeed, God provides for whom He wills without account.”

 

This was the reminder Zechariah needed to call upon God, the Provider of all things, for righteous offspring.

 

“My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy. And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing to You.”

 

And indeed, God did respond, sending angels with the good news of a son named Yahya (John).

 

Zechariah, despite his supplication, was surprised with the news. He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel replied, “Such is God; He does what He wills.”

 

Upon asking for a sign, he was informed, “Your sign is that you will not be able to speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt Him with praise in the evening and the morning.”

 

The Given Name of “Yahya”

 

When God gave Zechariah the good news of a boy, God stated that his name will be Yahya, a name not given to anyone before. The meaning of Yahya is “to come alive”; whereas the meaning of John is “God is Gracious.”

 

Yahya is not a direct equivalence to John in meaning. Yahya was also known as Yuhannan (in Arabic), which is the exact translation of John (Johanan in English Old Testament and Yochanan in the original Hebrew).

 

There is no direct Biblical translation of Yahya, a unique name given by God Himself.

Parallels of John and Jesus

 

John was wise from a young age, kind to his parents and affectionate towards plants and animals. He was sent to renew the spirit of the religion and support Jesus in his teachings.

 

John Jesus
Their surprise conception and their parents’ dialogue
He said, “My Lord, how will I have a boy when I have reached old age and my wife is barren?” The angel said, “Such is God ; He does what He wills.”

3:40

She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is God ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.

3:47

John came to confirm and support Jesus
“Indeed, God gives you good tidings of John, confirming a Word from God and [who will be] honourable, chaste, and a prophet from among the righteous.”

3:39

“O Mary, indeed God gives you good tidings of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to God].

3:45

Knowledge and application of the Scripture
God said, “O John, take the Scripture with determination.” And We gave him judgement [while yet] a boy and affection from Us and purity, and he was fearing of God.

19:12-13

[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of God. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive.

19:30-31

Dutiful to their parents
And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant.

19:14

And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant.

19:32

Peace surrounded them both
And peace be upon him the day he was born and the day he dies and the day he is raised alive.

19:15

And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.

19:33

 

John, Jesus and Zechariah (peace be upon them) faced intense resistance from their own people and the Judean Kingdom within the Roman Empire. 

 

 

 

Ashura

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Islam is God’s True Religion and traces its history back to the first human, Adam. It is the Way of Life of every Messenger of God throughout history. We are taught to follow the guidance and example of all the Messengers of God who taught the universal message of ‘Worship the One True God on His terms and follow His commandments.’ In doing so, Muslims have a stronger claim to the Messengers of God than any other group who may claim to follow them. Others may claim these messengers but have unfortunately adulterated and corrupted their teachings.

The Messenger Muhammed is quoted to have said, ‘We have a better claim to Moses than them,’ and ‘I have the best claim of Jesus.’ These statements took place on different occasions and about different communities who claim these Messengers of God. Muhammad’s claim to these great Messengers of God is manifest in following in their tradition of worshipping the same God that they did according to His terms. Muhammad’s role was to affirm the truth of those that came before him and to correct the false doctrines that people attribute to these great men of God.

The most oft-repeated story in the Quran is that of Moses and his people. Moses is from the Israelites, the family, and the offspring of Jacob. Jacob was a Messenger of God and the patriarch who had migrated to Egypt with his family during the time of his son Joseph. The Israelites settled there as nobility due to the status of their kin in Egypt. Several generations would pass and the social conditions would change as the Israelites assimilated more into Egyptian society and culture, and they lost the edge they had in devotion and dedication to God.

The biggest change however was that the King of Egypt felt threatened by the Israelites and started persecuting them, turning them into the lowest class in society and killing their male children out of his fear and paranoia. Moses was born in this environment and was spared the fate of other male children by a miracle of God, which resulted in him being raised in the house of Pharaoh from infancy. As a young adult, Moses left Egypt in a long self-imposed exile that led to his commission by God to be a Messenger to the Israelites and to confront Pharaoh. Upon his return to Egypt, God gave Moses many miracles and gave Pharaoh many chances. Close to the end of this story, God commands Moses to take the Israelites out of Egypt to the Land of their ancestors, the Holy Land. When Pharaoh found out, he was not having it and decided to mobilize his army to capture the Israelites. God showed the Israelites a great miracle by splitting the sea for them to pass unharmed. When Pharaoh and his army also tried to cross, God made them drown.

The greatest event in that story was the day God saved Moses and the Israelites from the tyrannical king of Egypt, the Pharaoh and his army. This event is known in the Bible as Exodus, which is also the name of the second book in the Old Testament. The version of the story in the Quran is very powerful. (See Quran, 20:9-82, 26:10-66, 28:3-44, 40:23-46, 44:17-33, 7:103-137, 10:75-93, 17:101-104, 51:38-40 )

“Children of Israel, remember how I blessed you…. Remember when We saved you from Pharaoh’s people, who subjected you to terrible torment, slaughtering your sons and sparing only your women – this was a great trial from your Lord – and when We parted the sea for you, so saving you and drowning Pharaoh’s people right before your eyes.”

In Islam, we are told that Moses and his followers fasted to God in gratitude for having saved them that day. The Jewish community in Medina at the time of the revelation of the Quran used to consider this day a day of celebration. Muhammed, the Messenger of God, taught his followers, the Muslims, that we are more deserving of Moses than others who falsely claim to follow him. Furthermore, we should fast to God in gratitude as Moses and the believers with him did. Thanksgiving is a day of fasting, not of feasting.

The event took place on the 10th day of the first lunar month of the Islamic calendar, called Muharram, hence the name Ashura (The Tenth). It is recommended for us to fast this day by refraining from food, drink, and intimate relations from dawn to sunset. The reward we are promised and the incentive for fasting this day is an expiation for the sins of the past year. If one is also able to, it would be best to fast a day before the 10’th to follow the statement of the Messenger Muhammed in being different than those of other traditions.

It should be noted that the month of Muharram is one of the four sacred months in Islam. This month is called God’s Sacred Month. It is highly recommended to fast voluntarily throughout this month as it is beloved to God to do so.

https://www.newmuslims.com/lessons/191/

As new Muslims, we should make sure that we are connected to sacred history and to the tradition of the Messengers of God by fasting on this day. Let’s plan to learn more about the stories of the Messengers of God in the Quran and to keep their legacy alive, ‘Worship the One True God on His terms and follow His commandments.’

For more on the story of Moses in Islam please see:

http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/3366/viewall/story-of-moses/

God’s Best Day of the Year

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God’s Best Day of the Year

We continue for the new Muslim explaining the special days of the Islamic calendar, with God’s Best Day of the year.

From sunrise on the ninth day of the Month of Pilgrimage, the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar, pilgrims begin arriving in droves to the plain of Arafat which is east of Mecca. They are on a mission to perform the greatest task and rite of the whole pilgrimage after they spent the night in the Mina Valley the day before. This is the legacy which Abraham left to humanity and the same location where events from his life transpired long ago.

Muslims throughout the world who are not on pilgrimage can also gain favour with God on this special day by taking advantage of it in ritual worship and devotional acts.

The Day of Arafa is one of the special Days of God which He has sanctified and honored with many different virtues.

  1.     It is one of the days of the four sacred months. 9:39
  2.     It is one of the days of the Pilgrimage months. 2:197
  3.     It is one of the identified special ten days of the year. 22:28
  4.     It is one of the ten days which God swore by to signify their importance. 89:2 Good deeds are multiplied many fold in these ten days, more than any other time of the year.
  5.     It is the best day of the whole year where God Almighty is proud of His servants who have come to Him in a most humble way with repentance and devotion.
  6.     It is the day that God designated as a completion of the rituals of Islam at the time of the completion of the Quran’s revelation and the end of the messenger’s life and mission. 5:3
    The Muslims were finally able to perform their first pilgrimage and this is how they were able to apply Islam in full. In that event the pilgrimage was restored to the way of Abraham pure and unadulterated. All changes which were introduced by the pagans to the way of Abraham throughout the ages were eliminated. Polytheism and idolatry came to an end in Arabia. Pagans were no longer allowed to desecrate the House of God which Abraham had dedicated for the pure worship and service of the One True God.
  7.     The completion of God’s favor takes place through forgiveness. No favor is greater than God’s forgiveness. 48:2
  8.     It is a festival and a day of celebration which returns annually.
  9.     Fasting on this day expiates one’s sins and inadequacies for two years, the current and the future year.
  10.     It is a day where God frees people from the fire of Hell and expiates and forgives their sins. He shows pride in His righteous servants who have repented.

Some acts of devotion which are recommended on this day in the tradition of the messenger Muhammad. New Muslims should try to implement some of these acts:

  1.  Fasting by refraining from food, drink and sexual intimacy  along with anything that diminishes the fast from dawn to sunset on this day.
  2.  Increasing in mentioning God’s names and praises through litany, reciting the Quran and glorifying the name of God who is greater than everything.
  3.   Praying and supplication to God.
  4.  Performing extra ritual devotion (Salah).
  5.  Charity and service.
  6.  Feeding the poor.

Trials of Abraham, Pilgrimage and Sacrifice

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Trials of Abraham, Pilgrimage and Sacrifice

If you are a new Muslim coming from Christianity, you will be familiar with the name Abraham.  Abraham has a very important status to many people in the world, especially Jews, Christians and Muslims. Many claim Abraham to themselves but God says, “Abraham was neither a Jew nor Christian. Rather he was upright and devoted to God in submission (Islam), never an idolater.” 3:67

Abraham’s journey to God is full of trials from the very beginning. The Quran recounts the story of Abraham finding God and dedicating himself to Him against all odds at a very young age. He then migrates in the land to have the ability to worship God. Once he has a family of his own, the trials continue and his family also experiences these trials. As a believing family they go through God’s tests and pass them.

Many converts to Islam may be familiar with the Biblical accounts of the story, however, the Quran sets the record straight and sheds light on what truly transpired long ago without dramatisation.

Abraham’s experience shows the importance of faith and dedication to the One True God.

Abraham at a very old age asks God for a child who will inherit the responsibility of inviting people to God and following His commandments. His prayers are answered and he is blessed with his first child, Ishmael. Shortly after, he must face the trial of separation and abandonment, which will take Hagar and their child, Ishmael, to a barren land and a dead Valley.

Having left Hagar and Ishmael, in the middle of the dessert with a skin of water and leather bag full of dates and walking away. Hagar became anxious as to what was happening. Abraham did not look back.  Hagar chased him, ‘O Abraham, where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we can enjoy, nor is there anything here?’

Abraham hurried his pace.  Finally, Hagar asked, ‘Has God asked you to do so?’

Suddenly, Abraham stopped, turned back and said, ‘Yes!’

Feeling a degree of comfort in this answer, Hagar asked, ‘O Abraham, to whom are you leaving us?’

‘I am leaving you to God’s care,’ Abraham replied.

Hagar submitted to her Lord, ‘I am satisfied to be with God!’

As he leaves, Abraham prays to God and asks for His aid in caring for his family, stating that his intention in leaving his family was obedience and dedication to God. 14:37

Abraham passes the test and so does Hagar and God cares for the young family in Abraham’s absence.

Several years after this abandonment in the desert Abraham was to undergo another trial: God asked him to sacrifice his firstborn son, Ishmael.

During these trials, beyond his human grief and in fact through that very grief, Abraham develops a relationship with God based on faithfulness, reconciliation, peace, and trust. God tries him but is always speaking to him, inspiring him and strewing his path with signs that calm and reassure him.

The Islamic tradition is that God asks Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael; in the Bible, the tradition is that Abraham is asked to sacrifice his first son, however the name that is placed there is Isaac.

This is how the Quran recounts the story:

Lord grant me a righteous son, so We gave him the good news that he would have a patient son. When the boy was old enough to work with his father, Abraham said, ‘My son, I have seen myself sacrificing you in a dream. What do you think?’ He said, ‘Father, do as you are commanded and , God willing, you will find me steadfast.’ When they had both submitted to God, and he had laid his son down on the side of his face, We called out to him, ‘Abraham, you have fulfilled the dream.’ This is how We reward those who do good- it was a test to prove their true characters. We ransomed his son with a momentous sacrifice, and We let him be praised by succeeding generations: ‘Protection and wellbeing be upon Abraham! 37:100-109

The trial is one we can not conceive the difficulty of: for the sake of his love and faith in God, Abraham must sacrifice his son, despite his fatherly love. The trial of faith is expressed here in this tension between the two loves.

Abraham consults Ishmael, and it is his own son, the object of sacrifice, whose comforting words to his father are like a confirming sign: ‘Father, do as you are commanded and , God willing, you will find me steadfast.’ 37:102

Their love for each other did not overtake their love for God. Truly this is where success lies.

Abraham and his son pass the test. A ransom was granted by the grace of God and the tradition of an animal sacrifice to the One True God is commemorated by believers on the Feast of Sacrifice on specific days of the Month of Pilgrimage annually.

Later in life, Abraham and his son Ishmael were commanded to construct a temple and a house of worship dedicated exclusively to the One True God. They completed building the cube structure (Kaba) together and prayed for acceptance. 2:127

God then ordered Abraham to call out for people to perform pilgrimage to it. God says, “Proclaim the Pilgrimage to all people. They will come to you on foot and on every kind of lean camel; emerging from every distant pass.” 22:28

Abraham asked, “My Lord, how can the message reach the people when my call would not reach them?”

God said, “Call them, and I will relay the message.”

Abraham then stood near the Kaba and proclaimed, “People! Your Lord has taken this as His House so perform a pilgrimage to it!” And to this day, any pilgrim who visits Mecca is answering his call.

Abandonment of comfort and ease is commemorated in the Pilgrimage. People continue to answer the call of Abraham and travel to the house which Abraham and Ishmael built. They dedicate themselves to model the rites of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael from long ago with the same objective and the intention to please the Lord of the Universe.