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::Assalamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu:::Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and His blessings::

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ramadhan Mubarak :D

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that the readers of this blog are in good health and Imaan. Ameen.

Just a quick post to say Ramadhan Mubarak/Mabrook! Alhamdulilah by the will of Allah we have now left Sha'ban and entered the Holy month of Ramadhan. May Allah subhana wa ta'ala accept all our fasts for His sake only, keep us steadfast in Ibadah and give us the ability to strengthen our Imaan. Ameeen!

As we have entered the Holy month we must ensure that our time is used efficiently in Ibadaah and spent in the path of Allah. Every moment is precious so let us use our time wisely! Insha'Allah may we all see this month as an opportunity to better ourselves for the sake of Allah and to become closer to Him.

I regret to tell you that there will be fewer posts on this blog as I have a firm intention to utilise every second I can. I intented to post more posts on here but unfortunately there were a few posts I wanted to write on that were left as half drafts..alhamdulilah there are many useful links at the top of my side bar which I recommend you read. Please also have a look at the blogs on my side bar.

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As it is Ramadhan, I wanted to make a request for both those who know me personally and who don't to forgive me for any of my shortcomings or for anything that I have said or done that may have offended you. Please keep me in your duaas and also remember those muslims around the world who are less fortunate than we are, and those muslims who are suffering at the hands of the kuffar.

A beautiful duaa courtesy of Muslimah Ukhti :D (as always in my duaas sis);

May Allah grant us success in these blessed days and nights of this beautiful month and throughout our life time, to follow the path of our Beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam.
May Allah shower His Mercy and Blessing on the entire muslim ummah.

Ya Allah protect us from the punishment of the grave, hellfire, all harms, the evils of our nafs and shaytaan.
Ya Allah protect us from every sin and accept our Ibaadah and Fasts in this blessed month.

Ya Allah! grant us the taufiq to carry on doing good deeds in Ramadhan and throughout the year.
Ya Allah! I ask You for Your love and the love of those who love You, and for the love of every action which will bring me closer to Your love.

Praise and gratitude be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam, his family, his Companions, and those who rightly follow them.

Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fasting in Ramadan - A Muslim Pharmacist's Perspective

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that you are all in the best of health and Imaan. Ameen. I found an interesting article on fasting- a muslim pharmacists point of view. This post is dedicated to my dear sister Mujahidah an Nafs - self explanatory :).

Please note that this article was written just before last years Ramadhan so if the dates in the article don't make sense you'll know why.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from just before sunrise to sunset each day, is upon us again. This year it begins in mid-November. Special issues that may arise in a pharmacy during Ramadan include providing advice on appropriate diet and on medical compliance among the Muslim population. In this article, I provide a personal perspective of why Muslims fast and, as a Muslim pharmacist, what advice I consider may be appropriate for fasting customers both healthy and those on medication, such as diabetic patients

The observance of fasting during Ramadan constitutes one of the five pillars of Islam. The experience of fasting is intended to teach Muslims self-discipline and self-restraint, and understand a little of the plight of the less privileged (e.g., the hungry, thirsty and the poor). Furthermore, Ramadan fasting is not just about disciplining the body to refrain from eating and drinking from predawn until sunset but is also about exerting control over the mind. This involves restraining anger, doing good deeds, exercising personal discipline, and preparing oneself to serve as a good Muslim and a good person. Ramadan is a month of peace and love in which individuals are encouraged to bury differences, to forget and forgive and to renew both human and spiritual relationships. Therefore, it contributes to the overall principle of making the individual more humane, more considerate and generally a more responsible member of society. In this way, the month of Ramadan ultimately benefits society not just the individual. It does this, in part, by setting a standard for behaviour not only in this month but during the rest of the year and, indeed, every year of a Muslim's life. These principal tenets of Ramadan are important when considering our intentions and subsequent actions during this spiritual month, including those pertaining to the health of the individual.

Fasting during Ramadan is prescribed for every healthy, adult Muslim whereas the weak, the sick, children, travellers and menstruating women are among those exempt. Muslims observing the fast are required to abstain not only from eating food and drinking water but also from consuming oral medicines and injecting intravenous nutritional fluids. However, not all Muslims who are ill seek this exemption and insist on fasting in any case. Fasting by Muslims during illness can cause problems if not supervised by health professionals. However, health problems during Ramadan can develop in otherwise healthy individuals and such patients could benefit from receiving advice on their diet.

When does Ramadan begin?

Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Koran were revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed. It traditionally begins when the new crescent moon (hilal) of Ramadan, the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar, is sighted. The period of fasting starts the morning after the birth of the new moon and ends with the sighting of the birth of the next new moon.

If the new moon is not visible due to cloud or fog, then the beginning and end of Ramadan are determined by counting the days of the month. Fasting begins the morning after the 30th day of the previous month. Similarly, the fast is broken the morning after the 30th day of Ramadan is complete.

This year, Muslims throughout the world will begin to search the sky for the new crescent moon from 15 November.

Advice on diet

During this year where Ramadan falls in the winter, and we do not have the very long days of the summer heat to contend with, most health problems are likely to arise from inappropriate diet or as a consequence of over-eating and insufficient sleep.

There is no need to consume excess food at iftar (the food eaten in the period immediately after sunset to break fast), dinner, or sahur (the light meal generally eaten about half an hour to one hour before dawn). The reasons for this are two-fold. First, and most importantly, such a lifestyle contradicts the principal aims and spirit of Ramadan. Over-eating can be seen as a reflection of weak discipline and irresponsibility. Secondly, the body has regulatory mechanisms that reduce the metabolic rate and ensure efficient utilisation of body fat. Furthermore, most people assume a more sedentary lifestyle while fasting. The net result is that a balanced diet, that consists of less than the normal amount of food intake, is sufficient to keep a person healthy and active during the month of Ramadan.

To remain healthy during Ramadan, one should consume food from the major food groups: bread and cereal, milk and dairy products, fish, meat and poultry, beans, vegetables and fruits. (Vegetarians and vegans should amend this list as appropriate.) Intake of fruits after a meal is strongly suggested. Diet in Ramadan should not differ much from the normal diet and should be as simple as possible. The diet should be such that normal weight is maintained, neither losing nor gaining. However, if one is overweight, Ramadan is an ideal time to try to normalise one's weight.

In view of the long hours of fasting, the so-called "complex carbohydrates" or slow digesting foods should be consumed at sahur so that the food lasts longer (about eight hours) resulting in less hunger during the day. These complex carbohydrates are found in foods that contain grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, semolina, beans, lentils, wholemeal flour and unpolished rice.

In contrast, refined carbohydrates or fast-digesting foods last for only three to four hours and may be better taken at iftar to restore blood glucose levels rapidly. Fast-burning foods include those that contain sugar and white flour. Dates are an excellent source of sugar, fibre, carbohydrates, potassium and magnesium and have been recommended since the days of the Prophet Mohammed as a good way of breaking the fast.

Fried foods, very spicy foods and foods containing too much sugar, such as sweets, can cause health problems and should be limited during Ramadan. They cause indigestion, heart-burn and weight problems. Fasting can often increase gastric acidity levels causing a burning feeling, a heaviness in the stomach, and a sour mouth. This can be overcome by eating foods rich in fibre such as whole wheat bread, vegetables, hummus, beans, and fruits. These foods trigger muscular action, churning and mixing food, breaking it into small particles, and thus help reduce the build up of acid in the stomach.

Drinking of sufficient water and juices between iftar and sleep to avoid dehydration, and for detoxification of the digestive system, should be encouraged in fasting individuals. However, the intake of large amounts of caffeine-containing beverages should be avoided, especially at sahur. For example, drinking too much tea will increase urine output and inevitably cause the loss of valuable mineral salts.

Fruits such as bananas are a good source of potassium, magnesium and carbohydrates. However, bananas can cause constipation and their intake has to be balanced with adequate fibre intake.

It is recommended that everyone engage in some kind of light exercise, such as stretching or walking. Overweight people should increase the amount of exercise and reduce the amount of food intake to help reduce weight.

It is also important to follow good time management procedures for Ibada (prayer and other religious activities), sleep, studies, work, and physical activities or exercise. A good balance in the amount of time attributed for each activity will lead to a healthier body and mind in Ramadan.

Advice for the sick who fast during Ramadan

Ramadan fasting is obligatory for the healthy adult but, when fasting might significantly affect the health of the fasting individual or when one is genuinely sick, Islam exempts him or her from fasting. "God intends every facility for you, he does not want to put you into difficulties" (Koran 2:185). From an Islamic point of view, this exemption represents more than a simple permission not to fast. The Prophet said: "God likes his permission to be fulfilled, as he likes his will to be executed." Another saying suggests that "a gift that God gives you, you have to accept". In the light of these sayings, many believe that any Muslim who is sick, or whose sickness would adversely affect his well-being during the fasting period, should either not fast or at least break his fast accordingly. An additional argument often used is that if the fasting by a sick Muslim would jeopardise his health further, then this ultimately will neither benefit himself nor his role in society (Ummah) and he should be discouraged from observing the fast.

However, a significant number of patients, for whatever reasons, do decide to observe the fast. It is these patients who need to seek the opinion of health professionals on an individual basis.

Those suffering from minor ailments do not really have any problems fasting. Those suffering from acute conditions may need advice about altering their dosing regimen. Drugs that are normally required to be taken frequently, such as antibiotics, can be problematic for fasting patients. However, the increasing availability of alternative drugs with long half-lives as well as the increasing formulation of short-acting drugs as sustained release preparations, have offered much needed assistance to fasting patients.

For example, patients suffering from acute upper respiratory infections, such as a severe sore throat, may still be able to fast. Such a patient might be prescribed antibiotics that have to be taken three or four times a day and would not be able to fast. However, in order to facilitate fasting, the patient could be given a long-acting antibiotic, such as co-trimoxazole, which only needs to be taken 12- hourly, or azithromycin, which only needs to be taken once daily. This can be done only when the infecting organisms are susceptible to the alternative antibiotics, and needs to be discussed with the patient's doctor.

Alternative routes of drug administration can help fasting patients. Some patients suffering from mild forms of angina pectoris could benefit from taking glyceryl trinitrate as a patch rather than sublingual tablets. The drug would enter the blood stream through the skin, and not orally (which would break the fast). Again, this may only be possible in specific patients and needs to be discussed with the patient's doctor. Pharmacists should be willing to advise patients and practitioners on the availability of alternative dosage forms for medication during Ramadan.

There is a school of thought among medical practitioners that those patients who have mild to moderate high blood pressure and are also overweight should be encouraged to fast as this may help to lower their blood pressure. Such patients should see their physician to adjust their medication. For example, the dose of diuretics should be reduced to avoid dehydration, and sustained release formulations can be given once a day before the predawn meal.

An increasing area where practitioners are likely to advise patients on fasting is in those suffering from diabetes mellitus. Many Muslims, especially of Asian descent, have an increased risk of suffering from some form of diabetes. The International Journal of Ramadan Fasting Research has suggested the following guidelines for health professionals treating Muslim patients with diabetes: "Diabetic patients who are controlled by diet alone can fast and hopefully, with weight reduction, their diabetes may even be improved. Diabetics who are taking oral hypoglycaemic agents along with the dietary control should exercise extreme caution if they decide to fast. These patients should consult their medical doctor for dose adjustment. If they develop low blood sugar symptoms in the daytime, they should end the fast immediately."

In addition, diabetic patients taking insulin should consult their doctor to see if their dose can be adjusted to allow fasting during Ramadan. In all cases of fasting with diabetes, blood sugar levels should be closely monitored, especially before and after meals.

In summary, Islam offers an exemption to the sick from observing their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. However, some patients may be able to fast if their health is not adversely affected during the period of fasting. In such cases, advice from pharmacists and doctors about changing prescriptions to equally effective drugs that have reduced dosing, such as sustained release formulations, may be beneficial to the fasting Muslim. In all cases of illness, it is recommended that Muslim patients, if they do fast, do so under medical supervision. Pharmacists, doctors and other health professionals are undoubtedly keen to help.

Written by Professor Akhtar (University of Kuwait)

Duaas requested
Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunnah of fasting

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that you are all in the best of health and Imaan, Ameen.
Just a quick post on the 6 sunnahs of fasting:

i. To partake of Suhr (sehri) or pre-dawn tiffin

ii. To break fast immediately after sunset

iii. To read Tarawih prayer at night

iv. To feed the poor and hungry

v. To increase the Quran reading

vi. To observe I’tikaf within the mosque during the last ten days of Ramadhaan.

May Allah give us the ability to try and put these sunnahs into our time during the month of ramadhan. Ameen wa thuma ameen. Sorry for the short post.

Duaas greatly needed!
Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Useful Ramadhan audio

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that the readers of this blog are in good health and Imaan. Ameen.
Here are a few audio that I have found on Ramadhan. This post will be updated with more additions so keep watching insha'Allah. Please make some time to listen to them insha'Allah.

Kamal Uddin Ahmed:
Purpose of Ramadhan
Laylatul Qadr and the mercy of Allah
Retaining the blessings of Ramadhan

Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf:
Kitab as-Sawm:
Dars 1
Dars 2
Dars 3
Dars 3(Questions and answers)
Dars 4
Dars 5(Questions and answers)
Dars 6
Dars 7

Shaykh Ibrahim Memon Madani:
Itikaaf and Laylatul Qadr

Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar:
Path to Ramadhan
Checking into Ramadan
Welcoming Ramadhan 1427
Making the most of Ramadhan

Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadul Haq:
Surah al Alaq & al Qadr- Tafseer of Surah al Alaq & al Qadr
The Virtues & Blessings of Ramadhan
The Virtues & Blessings of the Qur'an
Ramadhan: The Spiritual Month
Taraweeh 8 or 20 Rakaats?

Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ramadhan in my own words.

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that the readers of this blog are in good health and Imaan. Ameen.

In about two weeks time the Holy month of Ramdhan will be upon us all insha'Allah; this month has numerous blessings and it was in this month thatthat the Holy Qur'an was revealed to our Beloved prophet Muhammad صلي الله عليه و سلم .

Ramadhan is the ninth month on the Islamic calender, it falls in between the Islamic months of Sha'ban and Shawwal. It is during this month that muslimsall over the world prepare for fasting from Dawn till dusk. Allah subhana wa ta'ala says in the Holy Qur'an:

"O Muslims fasting is prescribed for you just as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become fearful (of Allah)" - Qur'an 2:183

It is from this ayah that we know that it is obligatory for muslims to fast during Ramdhan and it was also made obligatory to people who have lived before us.

During this month Allah subhana wa ta'ala locks away the Shaytaan so that this time may be a source of Barakah, spiritually aswell as physically. Fasting enables us to hold self control over ourself; whilst in urge for food and water we turn towards Allah subhana wa ta'ala, this brings us closer towards Him. It is during the moments of fasting we realise the struggle to with stand without food or water for virtually the whole day.

It is when feeling this struggle that we learn to turn towards Allah for help and for the will power to go on throughout the day; during these moments of dhikr we find that we are turning more and more towards Allah and we feel a deeper connection compared to our normal everyday lives.
Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:

"Truly, it is by the rememberance of Allah that hearts find rest" - Qur'an 13:28

When we turn to Allah, when we praise Him, when we are engaged in total Ibadah we realise that we seek comfort and solace in just remembering our Lord. Subhana'Allah it is at times like these that we should realise that we do not need to turn to anyone else except Allah.

The holy month of Ramadhan is an extremely spiritually uplifting time for all muslims around the world. The prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم said,

"When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained." -Bukhari

Allah subhana wa ta'ala has blessed this month so much that the Shaytaan are all locked up; this gives man the inner ability to reflect on his own nafs. As the Shaytaan are locked up and we are not allowed to touch food for the major portion of the day it allows muslims to have maximum restraint over their nafs. We are able to detect our inner strength to withold from that which our Nafs desires, we are also able to steer clear away from those things that the shataan tempts us with to misguide us from the Siratul Mustaqeem. We can use this month to help us get rid of the razail-worthless qualities (please note that to actually rid oneself of the Razail is to weaken it-this will be discussed in another post insha'Allah).

My teacher at school used to tell me that during this month we can see ourselves for who we really are; meaning as the Shaytaan are locked away, we can see what our personality is like because there is no influence over our actions. Masha'Allah she was/is right, because it is during this time that we need to reflect on our bad deeds on we can also reflect on those people who we have hurt.

We as muslims are constantly at war with shaytaan and the inner nafs; our spiritual state when we sin is such that our hearts become black from the sin, however due to Allah subhana wa ta'alas infinite mercy, when we remember Him and engage in Dhikr a portion of that sin is wiped away. If our Dhikr becomes focused, regular, meaningful and we are able to block out the sin, we find ourselves spiritual higher than we were before.

Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is a sheild; it is a shield from Shaytaan and it is also a sheild from falling under Allah's anger and going to Jahanam. Whilst in the stateof fasting actions such as lying, backbiting, stealing, cheating, making one angry, disobedience to parents, disobedience to elders, hurting somone, make the fast worthless. The reason being is because the whole purpose of fasting is to shield ourselves from actions such as these. Allah subhana wa ta'alamakes it clear in Surah al-Baqarah:

"The object is that you may guard against evil…" - Qur'an 2:183

It is important to bear this in mind when fasting. When thinking about this I picture myself in a bee hive with the white outfit on protecting myself from the stings of the bee, each time you commit a sin a piece of protective clothing is removed and the bees come and sting you at the place exposed. The more sinning you do the more stings you get, except the stings aren't on our physical bodies, they're on our spiritual ones..and what happens when a person suffers from excessive stinging..they die- becoming spiritually dead is as though we have given our souls to shaytaan. Let us try to make an effort and refrain from getting stung by our tongue. Our tongues are witholding from food, let it also hold back from words evil.

Important notes about fasting:
- It is the fourth pillar of Islam
- Fasting is Fard (obligatory) on every muslim man and woman who is sane and mature
- Allah subhana wa ta'ala has declared a great reward for those who fast for His sake and not for show
- Fasting is not just obstaining from food and drink, it is also for the rest of the organs of the body to refrain from that which is forbidden. For example the tongue must refrain from bad talk and the hands must refrain from haram things. Fasting means for the whole body to be fasting.
- From fasting we can see the unity of the ummah; we are all of different races, backgrounds, languages, habits, way of life, accents, however when we fast we all recite the same thing at Iftaar, we all do it for Allah only, we all feel the hunger in our stomachs, we all feel what those people who do not have food feel.
The prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم said:

"The believers are to one another like a building-each part strengthening the others"

From the above hadeeth it shows us that when we fast, it is as though we are feeling what those muslims who do not have food feel. When we feel hungry our stomachs cry for food, you realise that people who lesser off than us feel like this all year round. It is important to see that Allah is constantly showering His blessings on us, yet we are so forgetful of it!
Ramadhan should also be a time for us to give thanks for all that He subhana wa ta'ala has blessed us with.

Some Hadith regarding fasting:
*It is stated in a hadith that Allah subhana wa ta'ala says:
"It is for Me and I shall certainly compensate it." The Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم also stated, "The fragrance of the mouth of a fasting manis more pleasant to Allah than the smell of musk" -Mishkaat

*Hazrat Abu Hurairah radiallahu anhu reported that the Messenger of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم said: "Whosoever fasts in Ramadhaan out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven; and whosoever stands up (in prayer) in Ramadhaan out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven and whosoever stands up (in prayer) at the Blessed Night out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven."- Bukhari and Muslim

*It is related on the authority of Sahl bin Sa'd radiallahu anhu that the Messenger of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم said: "There is a special Gate of Paradise, which is known as Rayyan (and) only those who observe fasting will be allowed to enter through it on the Day of Resurrection. On that day, it will be called aloud, ‘Where are the bondsmen who used to fast for the sake of God and endure the pangs of hunger and thirst?' Such of the bondsmen will respond to the call and save them, no one will be permitted to enter by this gate. When they have entered paradise through this gate, it will be shut,(and), after it, no one will be able to enter by it." -Mishkaat

Commentary: Thirst is the most severe hardship one has to bear during a fast and the greatest sacrifice a man who is fasting makes is that he remains thirsty. Complete satisfaction from thirst should as such form the most prominent part of the reward on fasting. Hence, the distinguishing quality ofthe gate has been set apart for the entry of those who fast is satiety. Rayyan, literally, means satiation.

*It is related on the authority of Abdullah bin ‘Amr radiallahu anhu that the Apostle of God صلي الله عليه و سلم said: "The fast and the Quran will both plead on behalf of the bondsman (who will keep fast in the day and recite or listen attentively to the recital ofthe Quran in the night, standing in the presence of the Lord). The fast will say: ‘My lord! I had held him back from food, drink and sexual satisfaction. Accept my intercession for him today (and treat him with mercy and forgiveness)’. And the Quran will say: ‘I had held him back from taking rest and sleeping in the night. O God! Accept my intercession for him today (and treat him with mercy and forgiveness)’. The intercession of both, the fast and the Quran will be accepted for the bondsman and he will be treated with exceptional kindness." -Baihaqi

I feel that it neccesary for each and every muslims to spend their time wisely and efficiently during ramadhan, only Allah subhana wa ta'ala knows when our last day will be thus we should make the most of it, as it could be our last.
During ramadhan we should try and spend more time in dhikr and ibadah as during this month our rewards are multiplied 70 times. Talking of wordly affairs should be the last thing on our tongues and dhikr should be the first.

See ramadhan as a time for a step onto self reformation and also for reflecting on the nafs. Enjoy every moment of ramadhan and ask for forgiveness for the sins that we commit knowingly and unknowingly, day in and dayout. I hope to post more on Ramadhan insha'Allah.

Remember the muslim ummah in your duaas and if you have space please remember me :).
Wassalamualaykum warahmatullah.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sha'ban: Merits, Do's, and Dont's

Assalamualaykum warahmatullah wabarakatu,Bismillah Hirah'manir Raheem.
Allahuma Sali'ala sayidina Muhammadin nabiyil ummi wa 'Ala ali wa sahbihi wa salim.

I pray that you are all in the best of health and Imaan. Ameen.

In my last post I copied a beautifully written post from the Simply Islam blog, and as we all know Ramadhan is about 3 weeks away from us...excited?I know I am :)
Although it is Ramdhan in a few weeks, many of us forget the merits of the month before- Sha'ban. I found something on
Al-Balagh written by Mufti Taqi Uthmani on the month. Please take the time out to read this beautiful article..I know it may look long for some people..but please do have a read insha'Allah.

Also, due to the fact that Ramadhan is on its way, I thought that it would be best if I should spend a majority of my blogging time between now and then on posts preparing us for Ramdhan insha'Allah; as I'm using blogger posts are automatically categorised according to months and thus majority of the Ramadhan posts will be under the 'September' category (see further down the side bar). Other links on the blessed month will be added to the top right hand of my side bar, may we all benefit from them insha'Allah (I know I haven't added many so far, but I'll be adding them as I go along).

Sha'ban: Merits, Do's, and Dont's

Sha'ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha'ban. These fasts were not obligatory on him but Sha'ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. Therefore, some preparatory measures are suggested by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Some of these are given below:

1. The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, "Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?" He replied, "Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan."

2. The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha'ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month." Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: "That (Sha'ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting."

3. Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha'ban. I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah, is Sha'ban your most favorite month for fasting?' He said, 'In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting."

4. In another Tradition she says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would sometimes begin to fast continuously until we thought he would not stop fasting, and sometimes he used to stop fasting until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting a complete month, except the month of Ramadan, and I have never seen him fasting in a month more frequently than he did in Sha'ban."

5. In another report she says, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha'ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month."

6. Ummul-Mu'mineen Umm Salamah, Radi-Allahu anha, says: "I have never seen the Messenger of Allah fasting for two months continuously except in the months of Sha'ban and Ramadan."

These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha'ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not like to miss it.

But it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha'ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha'ban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan and will not be able to fast in it with freshness, he should not fast in Sha'ban, because the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha'ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha'ban is gone."

According to another report Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts."

The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha'ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha'ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.

The Night of Bara'ah
Another significant feature of the month of Sha'ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha'ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:

1. Ummul-Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, is reported to have said, "Once Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: 'I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.' Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salah, he said to me: 'Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?' I said, 'No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.' He asked me, 'Do you know which night is this?' I said, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'This is the night of the half of Sha'ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).'"

2. In another Tradition Sayyidah' Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, "Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha'ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb."
Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.

3. In yet another Tradition, she has reported Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "This is the middle Night of Sha'ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who cuts off the ties of kinship, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine."

4. Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: "Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha'ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)".

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.

What Should be Done in this Night?
In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:

(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak'at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo' and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur'an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak'ah.

(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur'an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur'an as he can.

(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful:
One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.

(d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an 'Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator's need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer which is sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one's relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.

One can pray for whatever purpose he wishes. But the best supplications are the ones made by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. These are so comprehensive and all-encompassing prayers that all the human needs, of this world and the Hereafter, are fully covered in the eloquent expressions used in them. Actually, most of the prophetic prayers are so profound that human imagination can hardly match their greatness.

Several books in various languages are available which provide these prophetic prayers, and one should pray to Allah Almighty in accordance with them, whether by reciting their original Arabic text or by rendering their sense in one's own language.

(e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts:

(i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, 'Isha' and Fajr with Jama'ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick.

(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.

(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.

(f) The women during their periods cannot perform salah, nor can they recite the Qur'an, but they can recite any dhikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Qur'an or in the hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).

(g) According to a hadith, which is relatively less authentic, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, went in this night to the graveyard of Baqi' where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. On this basis, some of the fuqaha hold it as mustahabb (advisable) in this night to go to the graveyard of the Muslims and recite Fatihah or any other part of the Qur'an, and pray for the dead. But this act is neither obligatory nor should it be performed as regularly as an obligatory act.

What Should Not be Done in This Night
As mentioned earlier, the Night of Bara'ah is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Almighty, and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah. Although it is always incumbent upon every Muslim to abstain from sins, yet this abstinence becomes all the more necessary in such nights, because committing sins in this night will amount to responding to divine blessings with disobedience and felony. Such an arrogant attitude can invite nothing but the wrath of Allah. Therefore, one should strictly abstain from all the sins, particularly from those mentioned in the Hadith No. 3 quoted earlier in this article, because these sins make one devoid of the blessings of this night.

2. In this night some people indulge in some activities which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara'ah, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people, but in some cases they are pure imitation of some rituals performed by non-Muslim communities. Such imitation in itself is a sin; performing it in a blessed night like the Night of Bara'ah makes it worse. Muslims should strictly abstain from all such activities.

3. Some people spend this night in holding religious meetings and delivering long speeches. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed in other nights. This night requires one to devote himself for the pure acts of worship only.

4. The acts of worship like Salah, recitation of the Qur'an and dhikr should be performed in this night individually, not collectively. The Nafl Salah should not be performed in Jama'ah, nor should the Muslims arrange gatherings in the mosques in order to celebrate the night in a collective manner.

On the contrary, this night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with the Lord of the Universe, and to devote one's attention to Him and Him alone. These are the precious hours of the night in which nobody should intervene between one and his Lord, and one should turn to Allah with total concentration, not disturbed or intermitted by any one else.

That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, observed the acts of worship in this night in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by his favorite life companion Sayyidah 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, and that is why all forms of the optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), are advised by him to be done in individual, not in collective manner.

Fast of the 15th Sha'ban
On the day immediately following the Night of Bara'ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha'ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha'ban have special merits and Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the days in Sha'ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha'ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic.

Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha'ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.

May Allah subhana wa ta'ala give us the ability to act upon what has been said in the article above during the month of Sha'ban. Ameen wa thuama ameen.

Duaas requested.
Wassalamu'alaykum warahmatullah