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7 of God’s Names That Will Give You Hope

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“The Most Excellent Names belong to God: use them to call on him…” (7:180)

 

The Lord of Mercy (Ar-Rahmaan)

One summer, I was at the park with my children and the weather was very hot – not even the lightest breeze. Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, a subtle gust of wind blew through my clothes. What a relief. What a mercy.

Other people at the park that day may not have noticed the wind pick up, but I sure did. God sends His mercy in ways we often overlook.  His mercy is for everyone, but not everyone recognizes it and thanks Him for it.

 

Look for the blessings of the Lord of Mercy: they are all around you.

“If you tried to count God’s blessings, you could never take them all in: He is truly Most Forgiving and Most Merciful.” (16:18)

When you feel like things are going against you, call on the The Lord of Mercy to shower His mercy on you.

 

The Granter of Security (Al Mu’min)

Our little family planned a trip to America from a small town in Canada to see my father-in-law.  So, with a 3-year old and a toddler in tow, we boarded our train.

It was then that I took my first real look at our tickets. I discovered, to my horror, that we would be changing trains late Halloween night in one of the most violent cities in America.  

Me. From a tiny Canadian town, visibly Muslim covered from head to toe, filled with horror stories about this city. Yes, I was very afraid.

 

So I prayed to The Granter of Security to keep us safe. And just like that, God made sure that my fears were never realized. Our little family was diverted without ever setting foot on one of the most dangerous cities in America.

When you are afraid, ask for help from the Granter of Security.  He will bring you safety in ways you could never imagine.

 

Al Jabbar (The Mender)

I learned a lot about cooking from my mother.  She even gave me her ceramic mixing bowl.  Due to over-enthusiastic use, my dad had to repair it several times.

While he was very skilled and careful to put the pieces back, using the strongest glue, the cracks from the previous breaks are easy to see.  And after I had it, the whole bottom of the bowl cracked and broke away.

Even though I repaired it, I’m still very careful with it. I don’t even use it except to store onions and garlic. I’m afraid it will break again.

 

It is only God, the Perfect Mender, who can fully repair and heal back to perfection – like nothing ever happened.

Our hearts can be fragile too.  We have scars and open sores from past losses and hurt. Some of our damaged relationships can seem beyond hope for repair.  

Yet, God is the Perfect Mender.  When He heals your wounds, they don’t even leave a scar.  When He has repaired the harm, you can feel whole again, without a trace of pain.

When you feel broken, call on The Mender to heal your wounds and mend your relationships.

 

The Repeatedly-Forgiving (Al Ghaffar)

This name of God is just one of many that remind us that He forgives.  Take this story for example, narrated to us by Messenger Muhammad.

A man committed a sin, then regretfully asked God:

‘My Lord, I have sinned; forgive me.’

His Lord replied: ‘Is My servant acknowledging that he has a Lord Who forgives sins and punishes for them? I have forgiven My servant.’

Time passed, and he returned to his sin. Regretful once again, he said,

‘My Lord, I have sinned; forgive me.’

His Lord replied: ‘Is My servant acknowledging that he has a Lord Who forgives sins and punishes for them?  I have forgiven My servant.’

Time passed and he returned to his sin yet again. And for the third time, he repeated his plea:

‘My Lord, I have sinned; forgive me.’

By the third time, you may expect the answer would be no. However, you’re dealing with The Repeatedly Forgiving God.  

His Lord replied for the third time: ‘Is My servant acknowledging that he has a Lord Who forgives sins and punishes for them? I have forgiven My servant.’

 

Committing sins makes us feel bad, for sure.  But we should never feel like we’ve ever sinned too much to ask God to forgive us. If we do that, we fall into a trap of Satan.  A great teacher of the past advised:

“Would not any one of us feel ashamed before his Lord to seek forgiveness from his sin then go back to it, then seek forgiveness then go back to it? He said: The Satan would like you to feel that way; never give up seeking forgiveness.”

So when you have sinned, beg God The Forgiver to forgive your mistakes.

 

The Opener (Al Fattah)

Sometimes the path ahead seems dark, while others seem closed. God brings light to those paths, and opens ways for us that we couldn’t possibly imagine.  

“Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should heed this: God will find a way out for those who are mindful of Him, and will provide for them from an unexpected source; God will be enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose; God has set a due measure for everything.(65:2-3)

A new divorced sister was trying different ways to make money for her and family.  She wanted to stay at home with her young children, but couldn’t find anything online.  She feared she would have to leave home to work.

She took expensive courses to learn how to make money online, but ended up spending more than she made…every month.

Then out of the blue, a friend messaged and asked her if she wanted to work for an Islamic organization. It would include free training and working online from home. She thanked God, supplicated to the Opener, and got the position.

 

God will find a way out for you. Proof of this is always happening around you: perhaps if you think about it, it already has happened to you in your life.

Who else but God can open a door that someone else closed?

If you don’t see a path forward, pray to The Opener to open it for you.

 

The One Who Elevates (Ar Raafi’)

Everybody wants to be elevated.  Nobody wants be stuck in one place: socially, financially, or personally. We want to know more, make more money, and live in a better place.  These are natural human desires.

Seeking a raise in status through those things will only get you so far.

God can raise your level in any aspect, in this life and the next.  Consider how God raised the status of Messenger Muhammad:

“Did We not relieve your heart for you [Prophet], and remove the burden that weighed so heavily on your back,  and raise your reputation high?” (94:1-4)

 

Messenger Muhammad was a poor orphan, and God gave him success and wealth.

He was concerned about the state of the people around him, and God gave him prophethood so that he could cure the society of its problems.

He was insulted and rejected by his own tribe, yet God made his name the most honored of all time afterwards.

If you feel stuck or low in any area of your life, pray to the One Who Elevates.

 

The All-Hearing (As-Samee’)

There was a lady that came to the Messenger of God with an urgent request.  Her husband had been behaving like the men did before Islam, and she did not know how to deal with it.

It is said that she was speaking so quietly about it, that even the Messenger’s wife who was in an adjacent room could not hear her.  Yet, God not only heard her, but responded and helped her, from above the seven heavens.

 

God, the All-Hearing, revealed parts of the Quran about her very case – the response immortalized in the Quran until the end of time.

God not only is able and willing to help you, but is always listening, always paying attention.

When you supplicate to Him, He hears you. When people insult you, He hears that, too.

“If my servants ask you about Me, I am near. I respond to those who call Me, so let them respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided.” (2:186)

 

The Beautiful Names of God

The Messenger Muhammad taught us this beautiful supplication:

“O God, I am Your servant, son (daughter) of Your male servant, and son (daughter) of Your female servant. My forelock is in Your Hand. Your command for me prevails. Your judgement concerning me is just. I beseech You through every Name You have, by which You have called Yourself, or which You have sent down in Your Book, or which You have taught to any one of Your creations, or which You have preferred to keep to Yourself among Your guarded secrets, to make the Great Quran the spring of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness, and the pacifier of my worries.”

 

Consider these Beautiful Names of God and His many others, reflect upon them and internalize them. You will find your heart at peace with the present and the future.

Your Questions on Jesus as Answered by God

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God. Son. Holy Ghost. Prophet. Average man. Even charlatan.

These are all claims to the nature of Jesus son of Mary.

The Muslim narrative is clear and firm on the matter. God in the Quran makes direct and explicit responses to the most common questions.

 

1. Is Jesus God?

Quran 5:72

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “God is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.”

 

2. Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Quran 5:116

And [beware the Day] when God will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides God?'”

He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right.

If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself.

Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen.”

 

3. Is Jesus the Son of God?

Quran 10:68

They have said, “God has taken a son.”

Exalted is He; He is the [one] Free of need.

To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. You have no authority for this [claim]. Do you say about God that which you do not know?

 

4. Is Jesus Part of a Trinity?

Quran 4:171

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about God except the truth.

The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of God and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him.

So believe in God and His messengers.

And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you.

Indeed, God is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son.

To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is God as Disposer of affairs.

 

5. Was Jesus a Charlatan or a Sorcerer?


Quran 5:110

[The Day] when God will say,

“O Jesus, Son of Mary, remember My favor upon you and upon your mother when I supported you with the Pure Spirit and you spoke to the people in the cradle and in maturity;

and [remember] when I taught you writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel;

and when you designed from clay [what was] like the form of a bird with My permission, then you breathed into it, and it became a bird with My permission;

and you healed the blind and the leper with My permission;

and when you brought forth the dead with My permission;

and when I restrained the Children of Israel from [killing] you when you came to them with clear proofs and those who disbelieved among them said, “This is not but obvious magic.”

 

6. What Does Jesus Say About Himself?

Quran 19:30-34

[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 almsgiving as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”

That is Jesus, the son of Mary – the word of truth about which they are in dispute.

 

7. How Do You Explain His Birth?

Quran 3:59

Indeed, the example of Jesus to God is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was.

Quran 3:47

She [Mary] 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.

 

8. How Do You Explain His Abilities?

Quran 3:49

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say],

“Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of God.

And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of God.

And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses.

Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.”

 

9. How Do You Explain the Crucifixion?

Quran 4:157

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah .” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them.

And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.

 

10. What Was the Message of Jesus?

Quran 3:50-51

[Jesus said], “And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so be conscious of God and obey me.

Indeed, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path.”

 

11. What Do We Say of His Followers?

Quran 3:52

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] God?”

The disciples said,”We are supporters for God. We have believed in God and testify that we are Muslims (ones who submit to God).”

12. What Happened to the Religion of Jesus?

Quran 57:27

Then We sent following their footsteps Our messengers and followed [them] with Jesus, the son of Mary, and gave him the Gospel.

And We placed in the hearts of those who followed him compassion and mercy and monasticism, which they [then] innovated; We did not prescribe it for them except [that they did so] seeking the approval of God.

But they did not observe it with due observance. So We gave the ones who believed among them their reward, but many of them are defiantly disobedient.

13. Did Jesus Speak of Muhammad?

Quran 61:6

And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of God to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.”

But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.”

 

Note: “Ahmad” is one of the names of Messenger Muhammad (a variation of the same meaning).

5 Lessons from the First Converts to Islam

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5 Lessons from the First Converts to Islam

 

As a new Muslim, you may feel alien to a new way of life.

 

When you hear stories of the Messenger of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him), his life and times, and about his companions, it may feel foreign to you.

 

They lived in a different time and place – 6th century Arabia. How could you possibly relate to that?

 

As you journey into the story of Prophet Muhammad, you’ll see how real his experiences were. You’ll begin to see how your experience, as a convert to Islam, is closely tied to that of his companions.

 

They were after all…converts to Islam, just like you.

 

Here are 5 lessons you can learn from the first to ever convert to Islam.

 

1. Take it slow and easy

 

When the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation at the age of 40, he was given time to process this new information. Surely, being told he was the chosen Messenger of God was no easy pill to swallow.

 

The first converts to Islam were from his close family and friends. They, too, were given time (even years) to learn and develop before making their conversion public.

 

Overall, the Quran was revealed in 23 years! That’s how gradual these new Muslims internalized and implemented the religion.

 

2. Focus on the building blocks first

 

Since the time of your Shahadah, you may have been bombarded with a list of Do’s and Don’ts. That must’ve been overwhelming.

 

If you look at Quranic revelations in the first 13 years of prophethood, the themes focused on:

 

  • Knowing and worshiping One God

  • Knowing about the Hereafter

  • Knowing about previous prophets

  • Consoling loss and rejection

 

If you notice, verses on Do’s and Don’ts like meat, dress and social interactions came after.

 

Note: This is not to say you should spend 13 years as they did. Take the reasonable time you need to prioritize your learning.

 

The New Muslim Academy’s curriculum is developed with this in mind.

 

3. Respect your family despite their rejection

 

Each family is different. Some support and accept your conversion to Islam. Some may take time before they do so, while others may refuse the notion entirely, even disown.

 

The early converts went through it all, including physical torture, persecution and death.

 

The mother of one companion went on a hunger strike so he would recant his Islam. Although he refused, he remained by her side, caring for her and pleading her to eat. He loved her of course, and nothing changed that fact she was his mother.

 

God revealed in the Quran (31:14-15),

 

“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.

 

But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.”

 

4. You are still part of your culture and society

Embracing Islam may feel like shedding your past and embracing a “new you”.

 

This is true with regards to past sins. Every mistake, every indiscretion is forgiven – no questions asked. You now have a fresh start.

 

But you still come with memories, experience, and an entire identity. You are not expected to change that, so long as it does not contradict the teachings of Islam.

 

Your fashion sense, your job, your social life, and most importantly, your name – they are all yours to keep, within the guidelines of Islam.

 

The companions of the Prophet still engaged in commerce with non-Muslims, they still wore the same clothes, and they kept their names (with few exceptions).

 

5. Believe in yourself

 

Becoming a new Muslim comes with a lot of uncertainty. You may feel like a small fish in a big pond with a steep learning curve.

 

Believe in your ability to grow at your own pace.

 

The companions were few in number – 4 or 5 at first.

In 23 years, they numbered more than 100,000.

 

They started off as shepherds, some desert nomads, and many could not even read.

 

In a span of 23 years, they became scholars, teachers, leaders, generals, industry developers, nation builders, movers and shakers.

How Belief in the Day of Judgement is Critical for Real Success

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How belief in the Day of Judgement is Critical for Real Success

 

Accountability.

 

This is a big, long word that is usually thrown around when people start talking about governments, or big business. It’s a word that people like to use when they want to make sure that things are on the up-and-up.

 

But what about personally?

 

Personal accountability means that we are taking responsibility for our actions, we are owning them. We are considering the consequences and the aftereffects of what we say and do.

 

Not a lot of people think about accountability in the personal sense. Because that’s scary. And it leads to change, which is hard.


Scary and hard things are usually avoided.

 

Many of us live a life of ease. We can order food to our homes without even getting off the couch. We can make a comment online to a stranger and not worry if they are offended. We can do something quite bad in secret, because no one is watching. We think that no one will ever know.

 

The big thing that separates those who do consistent good, behave well and have a successful attitude and those who slide by doing what they want is accountability.

 

Who do we answer to?

 

God.

 

Belief in the Day of Judgement is critical for success because there are many things that go on, many injustices and harms, and many great and good things, that go unaddressed or unnoticed by people.

 

Who tallies those things up?

 

God.

 

For Muslims, this belief is part of what keeps us going! When we look around and not see the fruits of our efforts, we should know that angels are recording everything and the records they keep will be brought out. And weighed fairly and with justice.

 

The person who rejected faith will regret and say, “I wish I had done better!” 89:24

 

While the believer who did much good and is proud of the record presented will say, “Here is my Record, read it. I knew I would meet my reckoning,” and so he will have a pleasant life in a lofty Garden…69:19

How These 5 Messengers Excelled

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How These 5 Messengers Excelled

 

When God gave prophetic missions to men on earth, He chose the best of humanity.

There have been numerous messengers throughout history sent to every nation and community. 35:24

 

All of them had extraordinary lives, and character. God gave preference to some over the rest. 2:253

The greatest five are called “The Ones with Strong Resolve” 46:35

They are all mentioned in one verse in the Quran:

 

“In matters of faith, He has laid down for you people the same commandment that He gave Noah, which is also what We have revealed to you, Muhammad, and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses and Jesus….” 42:13

 

Here are some reasons that these messengers are the greatest of God’s emissaries :

 

    1. Noah: Noah preached on the earth to the descendants of Adam. His people had corrupted the original teachings of their father Adam and started worshiping idols along with God. Noah tried to bring them back to the worship of the One True God alone for over nine hundred and fifty years. Despite the insults and teasing from his people he prevailed. God saved him and his few followers from the great flood. A whole chapter in the Quran is named after him which describes his method of preaching to his people #71, also check out 11:25-49 He is called the ‘Second Father of Humanity’ 37:77

    2. Abraham: Abraham, for most of his life, was the only believer and worshiper of the One True God on the face of the earth. He challenged the paganism of his people and traveled in the land trying to spread the message of the worship of God alone. God tested him in every way, and he passed each test. God rewarded him with the status of being the ‘Loyal and Devoted Friend of God’. He is also called The Father of Prophets as many of his descendants became messengers of God. A chapter of the Quran is named after him #14.

    3. Moses: The most mentioned messenger of God in the Quran. There is so much detail about his amazing life in the Quran. From the time he was born to the end of his life. Moses was tested again and again and challenged the biggest tyrant, Pharaoh, to deliver a persecuted people, Israel. His people were very stubborn and caused him a lot of grief. God spoke to Moses directly, first commissioning him with his mission, and later, giving him the Torah. He is called ‘The One Spoken to By God’

    4. Jesus: From his father-less birth to his many fascinating miracles, Jesus’ ministry was packed with miracles. When he was a child he spoke of his mission and defended the honor of his mother who was accused of immorality. When he was older, he cured lepers, and those who were blind, and even brought a bird of clay to life as a real bird. He will return again to complete his amazing life, but his time on earth shows he is one of the greatest. He is called ‘The Messiah: the Anointed and Chosen Righteous One’ 19:30-39 and

    5. Muhammad: The final Messenger of God and the greatest of all time. He is the only universal messenger with a mission to all mankind for all times and places. 34:28 He was prophesied by all messengers of the past, most recently by Jesus 3:81 and 61:6. He took a backwards people who were deep into paganism, idol-worship and all kinds of sin and immorality and liberated them to be excellent worshipers of God alone, and the example of excellent manners and kindness for all generations to come. He is called ‘God’s Devoted Servant and Messenger’

 

 

Become a Morning Muslim!

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People ask me:  What is the hardest change you had to make when you became Muslim?

 

Was it not eating pork?

Nope.

Was it fulfilling the dress guidelines and covering in public?

Not at all.

Was it praying?

Yes. And no.

 

I had no issue performing my ritual devotions during the day when I was awake….

But the hardest thing I had to change about myself after accepting Islam was:

Waking up for dawn as that’s the first daily ritual devotion time.

I used to LOVE to sleep. LOVE.

 

Now, I am awake before my children each day, getting things done, especially since I learned this wonderful report from the Messenger of God:

He would make a supplication like this: “Oh God, bless the mornings of my community and make them productive.”

 

Here are some things that were the habits of the early Muslims:

  • Waking up in the early morning hours before dawn to reflect, remember God and recite scripture in voluntary night time vigils

  • Staying up after dawn, and taking a power nap in the afternoon

  • Beginning business and work in the morning

Honestly, when you become a ‘morning person’, you are more productive. I don’t need to quote all the self-improvement specialists about that. It’s totally self-evident!

 

The answer to that supplication by the Messenger of God is that our mornings are blessed if we take advantage of them.

New Year, new beginnings

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New Year, new beginnings

New Year? Whaaa….

You’re thinking maybe I’m REALLY early or impossibly late with this, right?

While I try to be a punctual person, I’m not talking about January 1, I’m referring to the first of the Islamic (Hijri) Lunar calendar, the 1st of God’s Sacred Moth (Muharram) which falls around September 21 this year, depending on the moon sighting.


The Islamic Calendar is Decreed By God

The Islamic calendar is not like any man-made one. Although most calendars have twelve months, God has decided on how humans should calculate time and he taught His messengers throughout history about this. There is an amazing reason for this:

“God decrees that there are twelve months – ordained in God’s Book on the Day when He created the heavens and earth…” 9:36

What I personally find fascinating about this is that God is teaching us to honor time and gives us the framework to structure our days, weeks, months and years. How cool is that?

The new year gives us an opportunity to renew ourselves spiritually as we are aware of the passage of time. It also helps us do some introspection on how we spent our last year and how we plan to improve for the coming year.

But that’s not all.


There are Four Sacred Months

God continues in this same verse by saying, “…four months of which are sacred, this is the Upright Religion and Way of God”

Not all months are created equal.

But what does a sacred month even mean to us?

You may remember not long ago, we talked about the virtue of the Month of Pilgrimage (Thul-Hijjah) – and the best day of the year (Arafah) which landed in the same sacred month.
There are several regulations in Islam related to these Sacred Months which should not be violated.

God tells us some of the regulations the same verse, “Do not wrong yourselves in these months.”

Now of course, that does not give us free rein to do as we please in the non-sacred months. It just means that there is extra value to the good we do in these sacred months and more offensive to violate the time by sinning and breaking the commands of God.

Introducing the Month of God

This begs the question! What are these four months and what comes next?

The year is of twelve months, out of which four months are sacred. Three are in succession, the 11th, 12th and 1st named the Month of Putting Arms Down, the Month of the Pilgrimage and, the Sacred Month. The fourth one is the 7th month named Rajab.

If this sounds confusing (and I’m sure it does), don’t worry. The names of the 12 months and their order are not the focus of this post nor is it a priority to learn. Phew.

We’re nearing the end of Thul-Hijjah (one of the sacred months and the last month of the year). The next month, God’s Sacred Month, Muharram, is also sacred as its name suggests.

God has given us yet another chance to do more good, overcome our mistakes, and raise our standards.

Here’s what the Messenger of God said about the month of Muharram.

“The best fast after Ramadan is in the Sacred Month of God, Muharram.”

Woah did you notice that. While Thul-Hijjah is the Month of Pilgrimage, Muharram is dubbed the Month of God. Surely, there’s a special day within this month as there was in the last?

Absolutely.

The Messenger of God told us, about fasting the 9th day of the Month of Pilgrimage Arafah, “God will expiate as a reward for it the year before it and the year after it”. As for fasting the 10th day of God’s Sacred Month ‘Ashura’, he said, “God will expiate as a reward for it the year that came before it.”

‘Ashura’ is the 10th of Muharram (we will let you know when it falls exactly as we await the moon sighting).

Summary

Let’s sum this post up real quick in case it got a little overwhelming.

  • God tells us to honor time and decreed for us 12 months in a year.
  • Four of these months are sacred.
  • Sacred months are opportunities for us to do more good and pay extra attention to our habits.
  • We are nearing the end of Thul-Hijjah (the Month of Pilgrimage) – a sacred month and the last month of the year.
  • In a few days, the new month of the new year will begin – also a sacred month.
  • God’s Sacred Month, Muharram, is the best month of the year to fast voluntarily.
  • Specifically, fasting the 10th of Muharram- also named The Tenth Day, ‘Ashura’ – erases the sins and mistakes of the year that came before.

 

5 Ways to Make Time for your Prescribed Daily Ritual

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5 ways to make time for your prescribed daily ritual

 

The prescribed ritual was the very first thing the messenger Muhammad was taught after receiving initial passages from the Quran.  

 

They take up, in total, approximately 30 minutes of your day.

 

Even still….

 

Those five can seem like a lot, when you’ve never offered them before.

 

You’ll see.

 

Taking a little time out each day for this course leads to a balanced, successful life.

 

Here are five ways you can make time as a new Muslim to offer the prescribed ritual devotion:

 

  1. Beg God to help you make offering the ritual devotion easy for you. God answers prayers and will facilitate things for the sincere servant striving to give Him thanks on His terms.
  2. Take note of the times, write them down, or set a calendar reminder through your cellphone or computer. Maybe download a call to prayer (Athan) app! Make a habit of offering the devotions as soon as you can within the prescribed time period.
  3. Begin rearranging your day to accommodate. The early dawn ritual will always mean waking yourself up, but the midday one can be made at lunchtime. Depending on your location, the late afternoon ritual can be made at breaktime or supper. The two evening rituals at sunset and night can fit around common leisure activities easily as you the day comes to an end.
  4. Brief periods to stop and offer the prescribed ritual devotions take up a  total of approximately 30 minutes of each day. When you are struggling to make them a habit, it may help to remind yourself of this fact.
  5. When you make God first, everything else will fall into place. God will reward you for your intention and your striving to be punctual and consistent, even if life doesn’t let you. Know that while God has commanded His devoted servants to perform this course of daily Thanksgiving Rituals, He is Merciful, All-Knowing and fully Aware of your condition. God does not burden us beyond our means. He gives us concessions depending on what we can or can not physically offer, and He always rewards generously those who struggle for His sake.

 

A Guide to the Day of Sacrifice for New Muslims

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A Guide to the Day of Sacrifice for New Muslims

Day of Sacrifice[1]

The tenth day of the Month of the Pilgrimage [2], is the second Islamic holiday of the year. Muslims around the world celebrate it just as they did a few months ago after the completion of Ramadan. This year the holiday will correspond with Friday the 1st of September.

The history of the Day of Sacrifice goes back to the time of Abraham.  The annual celebration commemorates the great event when God commanded Abraham in a dream to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. 37:102

As Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, God revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had been fulfilled.  He had shown that his love for his Lord superseded all others, that he would make any sacrifice in order to submit to God.  If you are a convert to Islam from Christianity or Judaism, you may know a different version of the same story also appears in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Some people are confused as to why God asked Abraham to slaughter his own son.  The purpose was not for Abraham to kill his son; rather it was to sacrifice the attachment to his son from his heart so all his love belonged to God alone.

Thus, it is a part of our tradition that during the blessed Ten Days of the Month of Pilgrimage and on the Day of Sacrifice we remember the sacrifice of Abraham by reflecting over the story and reliving some of the rites.  We reflect on what made him such a strong believer, one who was beloved to God, someone God blessed and made a leader and example for all the nations that were to follow.

Sacrificing one’s son was a test of Abraham’s faith.  To commemorate and remember Abraham’s trials, Muslims slaughter an animal such as a sheep, goat, cow, or camel.  The practice is often misunderstood by those outside of the faith.  Therefore, several points must be understood here:

  1. The animal sacrifice is not a pagan ritual as some may assume. It is nothing like pagan rituals as there is no use of the spilled blood to rub on objects or icons as a blood ritual. There are no superstitious beliefs. There is also no false belief that the blood or meat goes to feed a god or is used to avert such false god’s anger as pagans believe.

Quite the contrary as the One True God tells us the point behind the sacrifice.

“We have made sacrificial animals (camels/cows) part of God’s sacred rites for you. There is much good in them for you , so mention God’s name over them as they are lined up for sacrifice, then, when they have fallen down dead, feed yourselves and those who do not ask, as well as those who do. We have subjected them to you in this way so that you may be thankful. It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God but your piety. He has subjected them to you in this way so that you may glorify God for having guided you. Prophet, give good news to those who do good.” 22:36-37

Performing this ritual sacrifice in the name of God is a sign of obedience to God, piety. After the blood is drained and discarded, the meat of the animal is to be distributed to the poor, one’s family and friends.

  1. There are no special rituals involved, other than the animal meeting certain requirements.  The animal is slaughtered in the same way it is slaughtered any other time in the year to be lawful to consume.  The only difference is in the intention.  For regular slaughter, the intention is to consume the meat or feed it to others, but for this occasion, it is to worship God by commemorating Abraham’s trial and in obedience to God.
  2. God’s Name is pronounced since God has given us power over animals and made them subservient to us. He allowed us to consume their meat, but only in His Name.  By saying the Name of God at the time of slaughter, we remind ourselves that even the life of an animal is sacred and we can only take away its life in the Name of the One who gave it in the first place.
  3. Good acts atone for one’s sins.  Offering the animal sacrifice is a ritual of devotion that also expiates one’s sins.  Muhammad the messenger of God taught that the most beloved deed on this day is offering the sacrifice and that it will bear witness for the devotee on the Day of Resurrection.

Regulations related to the Sacrificial Animal

  • Type of Animal

The only animals which are allowed to be sacrificed are those mentioned in the Quran as cattle and livestock lawful for consumption, namely camels, cows, goats and sheep. A single sheep can be offered as a sacrifice for a single person or a family.  At the time of the Messenger of God, a man would sacrifice a sheep on behalf of himself and the members of his household, and they would eat from it and give some to others. A camel or cow is sufficient for seven people.

  •  Age of Animal

The animal should be of a certain age to be fit for sacrifice.  The minimum ages are:

  1. a) 6 months for a lamb or sheep.
  2. b) 1 year for a goat.
  3. c) 2 years for a cow.
  4. d) 5 years for a camel.
  • Characteristics of the Animal

It should be free of any faults or defects as one should choose the best offering to gift to God. The blind or one eyed animal, a sick animal, a lame animal, and an emaciated animal will not qualify for the sacrifice.

There are milder defects that do not disqualify an animal, but it is disliked to sacrifice such animals, like an animal with a horn or ear missing, or with slits in its ears, etc.

  • Time of Sacrifice

The animal should be sacrificed at the specified time which starts after the congregational service (prayer and sermon) on the Day of Sacrifice has concluded and lasts until before sunset of the 13th day of the Month of Sacrifice. The three days following the Day of Sacrifice are called the Days of Sunrise.[3]

The meat from the sacrifice is eaten by family and relatives, given away to friends and neighbors, and donated to the poor.  We recognize that all blessings come from God, and we should open our hearts and share with others.

Advice for the Day of Sacrifice

  1. Take the day of off from work or school, if possible. If you cannot, try to make arrangements for time off to try to attend the congregational service if it is close by.
  2. Make arrangements for the sacrificial animal ahead of time. You can go with local Muslims to a ranch or a slaughter house or go by yourself if you have prior experience. It will be an experience you will not forget! You may want to slaughter the animal yourself or you can have a fellow Muslim do it for you. If no Muslim is available, a Jew or a Christian may do it as long as they slaughter the animal properly by cutting the jugular veins and letting the animal bleed out. You can also transfer money to an Islamic charity to do it on your behalf and they will distribute the meat to the poor. For millions of poor Muslims around the world it is the only time in the year they get to eat meat.

As a new Muslim,  you might not live in an area with a Muslim community, so it is recommended that you donate money to a charity to do the sacrifice on your behalf and to feed poor Muslims through one of the online Islamic relief organizations.  Costs of doing the sacrifice will vary based on the country you want it to be performed in. A few organizations are listed below, you can find many more online:

http://www.islamic-relief.org/category/seasonal/seasonalcampaignqurbani/

http://irusa.org/udhiyahqurbani/?gclid=CL-llYOA-c4CFQpsfgod1A8Cfg

https://umrelief.org/campaigns/qurbani/

https://pennyappealusa.org/campaigns/qurbani

  1. Connect with your local mosque or Islamic center at least a week before to find out the time and place where the congregational prayer will be held. After the prayer, sweets and light refreshments are usually served. Most mosques will hold Eid dinners either in the evening or within the next few days. Find out when and where they are and try to attend them.
  2. Do not get lonely or feel isolated. Make arrangements with your Muslim friends or families ahead of time to visit them for Eid. Invite Muslim friends and cook for them. If you can’t cook, eat out with them. Try to involve your non-Muslim family members by taking them to the Eid prayer with you or have them visit you for dinner with your Muslim friends. It will take some planning. Do it ahead of time. You have four days to celebrate!
  3. Families give gifts to children on Eid. Prophet Muhammad said: “Exchange gifts with each other, you will love each other.” You may like to give gifts to your non-Muslim and Muslim family members and friends.
  4. Volunteer on Eid day at your local mosque. They will need volunteers for parking, food set-up, clean up, children’s activities, and more.
  5. Dress up for Eid. Buy some new clothes and be in ‘celebration’ mode!

To sum up the proceeding…

On this day, a Muslim who is not performing the Hajj pilgrimage engages in the same activities one normally does on the Day of Breaking Fast[4], with the exception of not paying the charity of breaking fast, which applies only after Ramadan.

A distinctive feature in this Celebration is the slaughtering of a sacrificial animal, which is considered to be a highly recommended act of worship for those who can afford it financially.

Another feature is the extension of the feast for several days. The Day of Arafa, the Day of Sacrifice and the three Days of Sunrise are five consecutive days of celebration which come around annually, hence the name Eid[5]. These days are designated to be a time to ‘eat, drink, joy, and remembrance/devotion to God’ as the messenger Muhammad taught. The Day of Sacrifice along with the three days after it are days that are forbidden to fast as they are days of celebration.

A sacrificial animal refers to any of the pastoral animals (sheep, goats, cows or camels) that are slaughtered during the Festival of Sacrifice with the intention of seeking closeness to God.

Slaughtering a sacrificial animal during the Festival of Sacrifice is a practice which the messenger Muhammad regularly did and encouraged for those who can afford to do so. The head of the household may offer a sacrifice for himself and on behalf of his dependents.

It is not lawful to offer a sacrifice of any animal or bird except pastoral animals, namely sheep, cows or camels.

One sheep or goat would suffice for a household, and seven different households may share in sacrificing a cow or a camel.

The sacrificial animal must be of the right age. A sheep must be at least six months, a goat one year old, a cow two years old, and a camel five years old. It should also be free from apparent defects.

What Should Be Done with the Sacrificial Animal?

It is forbidden to sell any part of the sacrificial animal.

It is recommended to divide it into three parts: one part for personal consumption/eating, one third to be given as gifts and one third to be given in charity to the poor and the needy.

It is permissible to delegate someone to slaughter a sacrificial animal on one’s behalf, such as trustworthy charitable organization that undertake the slaughter of sacrificial animals and distribute them to the needy.

It is, of course, permissible to slaughter more than one animal on behalf of a single household or person as it would count as extra good deeds.

May God bless you and accept your worship and sacrifice.

[1] Day of ‘Adha’ Sacrifice

[2] Thul Hijjah

[3] Days of ‘Tashreeq’ Sunrise as people would have the meat from their offerings dried under the sun during these days.

[4] Day of ‘Fitr’ Breaking Fast

[5] Eid means a recurring and repeated event

5 Ways the Hajj Pilgrimage Is More Familiar Than You Think

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5 Ways The Hajj Pilgrimage Is More Familiar Than You Think

“Hajj” and “Mecca” may be new words to you. And as experiences go, they’re likely as foreign as “volcano boarding” or “sand yachting”.

 

(yeah, those are real things)

 

So how about we bring the Pilgrimage experience a little closer to home… your home.

 

These are 5 ways you already have a head start on what most would call – the experience of a lifetime.

1. You found your calling

 

What made you accept Islam in your heart? There was something missing, wasn’t there? Some part of your life just seemed to need filling up, and accepting Islam did that for you. This happened through Divine Guidance.

 

God invites people to the Pilgrimage and guides them to it, just like He called you to Islam – this inner itch that you couldn’t ignore, like something was missing, something bigger than yourself.

 

The moment you accepted Islam – you may have felt whole again. That calling came from inside of you.

 

That’s exactly how pilgrims describe their experience. It doesn’t come suddenly, but it grows slowly from beneath the surface. God will soon call to you, too – your heart will know when it’s ready. And when it is, everything else will fall into place as it did with your Islam.

2. You proclaimed that God is One

 

When you became a Muslim, you said the statement and testimony of faith “Shahada”. These words mean that you will now live your life trying to please the One True God. It’s what makes Muslims different from everyone else in the world: sincerely worshipping the One True God on His terms.

 

Pilgrims at Hajj also call out their devotion to God alone. The formula used is declaring service and responding to the invitation “Talbiyah”. It’s meaning is, “Oh God, I am here responding to your invitation, at your service, there is no God but you…”  The pilgrims are in Mecca to submit to God alone, just like you have tried every day since you said the testimony of faith.

 

3. You made some sacrifices

 

When you accepted Islam, there were some sacrifices that came along with it. Giving up certain foods, certain habits, certain places to hang out, are part of many converts’ experience after becoming Muslim.

 

Sacrifice. It’s hard to give up stuff you’re used to, but the reward is a whole lot sweeter.

 

The Pilgrimage might as well be synonymous with sacrifice. You intend a journey to serve God by leaving the luxuries of life behind. From start to end, the Pilgrimage is an experience of letting go for the sake of God.

 

4. You may have endured some difficulty

 

It may have been hard since you became a Muslim. God asks in the Quran if the people who believe think they will not be tested. The trials of life don’t stop. Sometimes, it feels like the hits just keep on coming, but God loves those with grit. You’ve already passed some of the tests of life, and you will keep on keeping on.

 

The Pilgrimage is also a challenging test. From the paperwork, to the finances, to the physical strain in the hot desert heat, Hajj offers test after test. You and pilgrims go from one place to the next, experiencing difficulty for the sake of God with each step.

5. You experienced a rebirth of sorts

When you became a Muslim, you got a clean slate. Your life before, the mistakes you made are left behind, and forgiven by God. Did you know that this same forgiveness is granted to those who perform the Hajj pilgrimage?

 

The Messenger of God said, “Islam erases all the previous sins and so does migration for God’s sake and the Pilgrimage to Mecca.”

 

God wants us to succeed, so He offers us many chances to start fresh.

 

 

Your Head Start

 

Now maybe you can see how Hajj wraps up the Muslim experience, and draws out of the Muslim their very best. You are already sharing in the Hajj experience without ever having lifted your eyes off this blog post.

 

So, when you consider Hajj in the future consider these points. Get excited about going there yourself one day. You’re already on the path.