Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Backbiting & Slander - an Islamic view

And why did you not, when you heard it, say? "It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to God, this is a most serious slander" (Quran 24:16)

In a modern world, backbiting and slander are becoming more and more widespread. People express themselves in forms of anger, misgivings and jealousy. For anyone choosing to act in such a manner, you are only hurting yourself. On the Day of Judgment, we will stand in front of Allah and account for actions including backbiting.

Speaking about others exists only in the form of justice. For example, if we must contact the police for someone committing a crime, then backbiting is justified. Islam also allows seeking advice in a wise manner where our confidence will stay in tact. In any other form, speaking about others is backbiting.

Islam teaches us to defend a person’s honor if they are being spoken badly against. If we do not do so, then we deprive ourselves of Allah’s mercy. The choice is up to us to decide how our teachings will benefit us.

God has forbidden backbiting

O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion, in deeds some suspicions are sins. And spy not neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear God, verily, God is the one who accepts repentance, Most Merciful. (49: 12)

Do not treat his issue with ignorance.

Behold, you received it on your tongues, and said out of your mouths things which you had no knowledge; and you thought it to be a light matter, while it was most serious in the sight of God (24: 15)

God teaches us to speak out against backbiting.

And why did you not, when you heard it, say? "It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to God, this is a most serious slander" (24:16)

Shaitan (Satan) wants us to be hateful and spiteful.

Say to My servants that they should only say those things that are best, for Satan does sow dissensions among them, for Satan is to man an avowed enemy. (17:53)

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) was reported to have said said :"Do you know what backbiting is?" They said, "God and His Messenger know best." He then said, "It is to say something about your brother that he would dislike." Someone asked him, "But what if what I say is true?" The Messenger of God(peace and blessings upon him) said, "If what you say about him is true, you are backbiting him, but if it is not true then you have slandered him." (Muslim)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Never forget Allah

My apologies for not blogging in quite a while, but my life a bit busy right now mostly because of my health. I guess I should heed my own advice in this title. Alhamdulillah, Allah is the most forgiving and most merciful.


...You are not to blame for any honest mistake you make but only for what your
hearts premeditate. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Ahzab:
5)

Islam is founded on the basis that we fear Allah. To be devout is to fear Allah. Our Glorious Quran tells us, sincerity is characteristic of those who have a strong fear the Almighty Allah. Fear means that we only engage in deeds that would please Allah. Every action we take should be that we can be accountable for on the day of Judgment and Allah asks us to be accountable.


Who is better: someone who founds his building on fear of Allah and His good
pleasure, or someone who founds his building on the brink of a crumbling
precipice so that it collapses with him into the Fire of Hell? Allah does not
love wrongdoers. (Surat at-Tawba: 109)
Believers are those who do not commit evil deeds and if for some reason we err, we should repent immediately and ask for Allah’s forgiveness. For every breath we take and every moment in our lives, we should be Allah by behaving appropriately in a manner that we can account for on the Day of Judgment.

With Islam, we know how to behave and good behavior should be something that we practice regardless of Islam. People will make mistakes, but if we are devout, we can recognize those and immediately repent and ask for Allah’s forgiveness.


Those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask
forgiveness for their bad actions-for who can forgive bad actions except
Allah?-and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing. (Surah Al 'Imran:
135)

Our Prophet Muhammad (May Allah bless them and grant him peace) is reported to have said “the religion is sincerity and good will.” Islam gives us a lifestyle of moral right and all we have to do is fear Allah and look to Islam for guidance in how we should behave.

Your Lord knows best what is in your selves. If you are true believers, He is
Ever-Forgiving to the remorseful. (Surat al-Isra': 25)

Further, Allah will not place on burden on you that you cannot bear. He promises his sincere and devoted servants forgiveness.

Allah does not impose on any self any more than it can stand. For it is what it
has earned; against it, what it has merited. "Our Lord, do not take us to task
if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one
You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not
the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You
are our Master, so help us against the people of the disbelievers." (Surat
al-Baqara: 286)

We need to remember to Allah is one who we must be dedicated to. We should not be ignorant and we should knowledgeable about pleasing Allah. And even if we not knowledgeable, we should trust that Allah will guide us in the most righteous manner and our devotion will allow such guidance.
Those who submit themselves completely to Allah and do good have grasped the
Firmest Handhold. The end result of all affairs is with Allah. (Surah Luqman:
22)

There is reminders all round of Allah’s existence and power and we should never ignore those. In order us to attain salvation, in this world and the afterlife, we need Allah to guide us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Turn to Allah

"O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the Prayer."
[Surah al-Baqarah; 2:153.]

Anytime you feel yourself full of fear or anxiety – pray and pray with a wakeful heart.

It has been reported that whenever our Prophet (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) found himself dealing with difficult issues, he turned to Bilal (Radhiallahu Anhu) and say
'O Bilal! Give us comfort and call for the prayer.'

In the many stories I have read, our Prophet (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) relied on the prayer in times of hardship and difficulty in addition to the obligatory prayers. There are some many righteous persons in the history of Islam who, when surrounded by difficulty, turn to prayer with all their strength, will and resolution. Thus, putting their despairs in the hands of our Almighty Allah.

We live in a different kind of generation and the type of despair we face is different and stronger than that faced by generations before us. In order to heal, we must return to our mosques (or even in the privacy of our homes) and seek Allah’s pleasure in prayer. The five required daily prayers allow us to achieve the greatest of Allah’s blessings: atonement for our sins and an increase in rank with our creator, the Almighty Allah. For those of us who choose to forget our prayers, Allah will not be pleased as He cannot help us if we do not put our trust and faith in Him.

"For them is destruction, and Allah will make their deeds vain."
[Surah Muhammad – Ayah 8.]

By allowing Allah to see our concerns and our fears, we depend on Him, we trust in Him, and we think highly of Him, and by patiently waiting for His guidance, we show we are true believers. Moreover, we should incorporate this in our actions and in our everyday lives so that Allah will care for us and protect us.

None of us can completely fight misfortunates alone nor can we fend off the disaster when it strikes. Allah did not create us with power that only exists in Greek mythology. In times of difficulty, Allah can give us that power and that strength if we trust in Him and seek His guidance through prayer.

"And put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed."
[Surah Al-Ma’idah – Ayah 23.]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Islamic Recipes from Medieval Times:Jazariyyah

Ibn al-Mabrad p. 18

Meat is boiled with a little water. Carrots, garlic cloves and peeled onions are put with it, then crushed garlic is put with it. Some people put spinach with it also; some make it without spinach. Walnuts and parsley are put in.

2 lb meat (lamb)
4 carrots
6 whole garlic cloves (about .6 oz)
4 small onions (5 ounces)2 cloves crushed garlic
2 c spinach
1/4 c walnuts
1/4 c parsley
[1/2 t cinnamon]
[1/4 t pepper]
[1/4 t coriander]
[1/4 t salt]

Cut the lamb up small and put it in 1 1/2 c water with cinnamon, pepper, coriander and salt. Simmer 10 minutes. Add carrots cut up, whole garlic cloves, and small onions. Simmer 10 minutes. Add crushed garlic. Simmer 20 minutes. Add spinach. Simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with walnuts and parsley. The spices are based on similar recipes in al-Bagdadi.

Source: Badinjan Muhassa. Cariadoc's Miscellany, The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ayat Al-Kursi #3: The Meaning

Ayat Al-Kursi is named because of the world “Kursi”. However, many people do not know the significance or meaning of the term “Kursi.” Iman Tabari wrote that the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them)of our Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) and the students of the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) held strong and different opinions about the meaning of the word “Kursi” and many scholars feel that no one knows the actual meaning except for Allah Ta’Ala. Other scholars believe that the word “Kursi” refers to the Knowledge of Allah Ta’Ala and that his knowledge encompasses all that is the heavens and the earth. Some of the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) and their students (May Allah be pleased with them) held the opinion that the word “Kursi” is another name for “throne” and the verse refers to the “Thorne of Allah the Most High.” Moreover, the Throne comprises the heavens and the earth.

Hafiz Ibn Kathir writes that ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (Allah be well pleased with him) narrates that the meaning of the word Kursi in this verse is the Knowledge of Allah Most High, and His Knowledge encompasses the earth. Another opinion is that the Kursi is a creation of Allah Most High whose magnitude makes that of the heavens and the earth insignificant. Another opinion is, that due to the Throne praising Allah Most High it makes a “creaking” sound. This hadith has been recorded in many books, but in the chain of narrators, a narrator is unknown and therefore this narration cannot be authentic.

[Tafsir Ibn Kathir: Under Ayat al-Kursi. Hafiz Ibn Kathir]

Qadi Shawkani writes that the hadith, which mentions the creaking of the Throne, contains, in its chain of transmission, a narrator called ‘Abdullah bin Khalifah. He is unknown, and has heard nothing from ‘Umar (Allah be well pleased with him). The chain of narration does not even reach back to ‘Umar (Allah be well pleased with him). The hadith, which mentions a “Resting place of the two feet”, contains a narrator called al-Hakam al-Kufi, in its chain of transmission, who has been rejected (by the scholars of hadith).

[Fath al-Qadir: Under Ayat al-Kursi. Qadi Shawkani]

Allamah al-Allusi al-Hanafi writes that no one knows the true meaning of the word Kursi in this verse, except Allah Most High. Matters such as these are known as the mutashabihat.

[Ruh al-Mani: Under Ayat al-Kursi. Allamah al-Allusi al-Hanafi]
Source: Islamic Information Online

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ayat al-Kursi #2: The translation

In the name of Allah the Most Merciful, and Compassionate Allah

There is no god but He,
The Living, the Everlasting,
Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep,
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth.
Who is there that can intercede with His, except by His leave?
He knows what lies before them and what is after them,
And they comprehend not anything of His Knowledge save as He wills.
His throne comprises the heavens and the earth,
The preserving of them fatigues Him not,
And He is the All-High, All-Glorious.

[Al-Quran: Surat al-Baqarah, Ayah 255]

Friday, October 9, 2009

Islamic Recipes from Medieval Times: Eggplant Pancakes

Many recipes that come out the Middle East actually date back to the Middle Ages (the 10th through the 15th centuries). Many of them have, of course, changed over times, but there are books out there are offer authentic Islamic recipes, many of those come from Islamic cookbooks that have survived since the Middle Ages.

Here is a sweet eggplant recipe that involves cooking the eggplant and turning it into batter for eggplant pancakes. I would have to make my own version of this recipe as I am not sure if I can locate all the ingredients. I am an eggplant fan, and this should be an interesting twist to pancakes and eggplant.

Recipe of Eggplant Pancakes
1 large eggplant (1 lb 3 oz)
~2 qts water
~2 t salt
1/2 c bread crumbs
2-3 eggs1 T oil
1 1/4 t coriander
1 1/2 t cinnamon
2 T vinegar
2 T oil
2 t murri
2 large clove garlic
about 6 T oil for frying

Directions:
Peel and quarter eggplant, boil 30 minutes. Drain, mash and mix with bread crumbs, eggs, oil, coriander and cinnamon. Crush garlic in a garlic press and mix up sauce. Fry in oil at medium high, about 1-2 minutes a side. Pour sauce over pancakes before serving.

Source: Badinjan Muhassa. Cariadoc's Miscellany, The Miscellany is Copyright (c) by David Friedman and Elizabeth Cook, 1988, 1990, 1992.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ayat al Kursi #1: The Virtues



Recite Ayat al Kursi before going to sleep to seek Allah’s protect against all evils.

Recite Ayat al Kursi after every required prayer and you will be under Allah’s care and protection until you have completed your next prayer.

Our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon Him) is reported to have said that “The one who recites it after each of the obligatory prayers, then death will be the only thing preventing him from entering al-Jannah.”

Abu-Harairah (RadAllhu Annhu) said that: “In Surah al-Baqaraah there is verse which is the best of all the verses of the Quran.” When recited in a home, Shaytan (Satan) leaves. “That verse is Ayat al Kursi.”

Source: Quran Study

Friday, October 2, 2009

Islam and Marriage #3: Rights and Duties of Spouses Part 2: The Husband’s Rights, The Wife’s Obligations

One of the main duties of a wife in Islam is to contribute to the success and happiness of the marriage. She must attend to the comfort and well-being her husband, as prescribed in this verse of the Quran: "Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous." (Quran 25:74)

An Islamic wife must be faithful, honest and trustworthy towards her husband. Moreover, she must not deceive her husband. She must not let strange males in her home without his knowledge or consent, and she must not be alone with strange males. Additionally, she should not accept gifts from other men without his approval.

An Islamic wife should not do anything to make her husband jealous or suspicious of her in any way. Moreover, she may not dispose of any of his belongs with his permission as this would violate the trust between the two.

A wife should try to make herself sexually attractive to her husband and respond to his advances. She must not refuse her husband as this will only lead to marriage problems and cause the husband to look for companionship outside of the home. However, a husband should consider his wife’s health, and more importantly, her needs.

There is much criticism about obedience in the marriage especially amongst western society and the media. Obedience is not meant to oppress but to keep the family unit together in an efficient manner. The husband and father, as the patriarch of the family, has the right to be obeyed, but not in a blind fashion. Obedience is something that must fall within the husband’s rights as well as the wife’s.

As noted in the previous post, wives are entitled to certain rights under Islam. First and foremost, it is the duty of the husband to provide for his wife and second, he must treat her with fairness, respect and kindness. Any rights owed to the husband arise out the duties of the husband. To distinguish between stereotypes and Islamic law, remind yourself that our Prophet’s (PBUH) was reported to have said: “The best Muslim is one who is the best husband.” In essence, the best husband is the one who respects the rights of his wife, and understands and prescribes towards the duties he owes to her first because as the patriarch of the family, his duties stand out.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Islam and Marriage #2: Rights and Duties of Spouses Part 1: The Wife’s Rights, The Husband’s Obligations

There are so many stereotypes that arisen about Islamic marriages and the roles that spouses play. One of the biggest of those stereotypes is that Islamic women are oppressed and treated harshly by their spouses and the other is that women have no rights in the marriage, and are only there to serve the needs of their spouses. These stereotypes come as a result of the actions of a few who call themselves Muslims, as well as the stereotypes presented by the Western media.

In Islam, both spouses have certain rights and duties to one another, and hopefully, these can dispel some of the myths promoted by the media and western society. Moreover, wives have certain rights and husbands have certain duties to their wives.

First, a husband is responsible for his wife’s maintenance. This right comes from the Quran and the Sunnah (the way of Islamic life as given to us by our Prophet – PBUH). It does not matter whether the wife is Muslim, non-Muslim, rich or poor. It is the responsibility of the husband to care for his wife and his family financially. Moreover, this important because it allows the wife the ability to perform her duties as a wife and a mother, and it assures her security. That maintenance involves her right to a home, clothing, food and general care (medication, healthcare, etc.). The right to a home includes privacy, comfort and independence. Additionally, if the wife is unable to attend to her household duties, the husband is, if he can afford it, to provide her with assistance, such as a maid, to assist her.

The wife is entitled to Mahr which is a marriage gift. The marriage contract is not valid without it. Moreover, it does not have to be money or gold. Mahr is a gift from the bride to the groom, and is prescribed under Islamic law. In other cultures, the girl’s family either pays for the wedding or must provide a gift to the husband to marry the daughter. This goes against Islamic law, as it degrades women and is contrary to the character of Islam.
Last, the husband is commanded by Allah to treat his wife with fairness, respect and kindness. Our Prophet (PBUH) stressed the importance of this, and it is reported to have said that “The best Muslim is one who is the best husband.”

As clearly seen by the duties owed to the wife, Islam does not oppress women, and in fact, pushes for respect and responsibility towards women. So the next time you watch something on television or read something in a newspaper that contradicts the requirements of Islamic marriage law, remind yourself that our Prophet’s (PBUH) statement: “The best Muslim is one who is the best husband,” and because of that alone, Islam does not discriminate against or oppress women, and in particular does not allow for husbands to treat their wives badly.
In addition to the rights of the wife and duties of the husband, Islam prescribes that the wife has certain obligations to her husband and the husband has certain rights. We will discuss those in Rights and Duties of Spouses Part 2.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Islam and Marriage #1: The Purpose

As a Muslim woman in corporate America, I sometimes feel lost. I feel like even though I know where I stand in the eyes of Allah and that my faith is strong, I am not doing enough to show that strength in my faith. I, like many people borh into the Muslim faith, and in the western world, have had doubts. The older I get the more those doubts turn into understanding. One of the hardest and difficult things I had to do was divorce. Moreover, I never thought I would remarry, but along my journey of finding myself and understanding my religion a lot better, I realized that Islam is an advocate for marriage.

Islam does not believe in celibacy and it has been reported that our Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said “there is no celibacy in Islam.” Islam, through our Holy Quran, has taught young Muslims that marriage is a religious duty, a moral safeguard and a social necessity. Because of marriage, sexual relations outside of marriage are prohibited and marriage protects from sinful desires. Social necessity refers to families created as a result of marriage and family is central to society.

There are so many stereotypes that arisen about Islamic marriages and the roles that spouses play. One of the biggest of those stereotypes is that Islamic women are oppressed and treated harshly by their spouses and other males in their lives (such as fathers and brothers) and the other is that women have no rights in the marriage, and are only there to serve the needs of their spouses. These stereotypes come as a result of the actions of a few who call themselves Muslims, as well as the stereotypes presented by the Western media.

The purpose of marriage in Islam is unique. First, the word “zawj” is used in our Holy Quran to meet a “pair” or a “mate.” The term used on a general basis means “marriage,” and the general purpose of marriage in Islam is for spouses to provide company for one another, to create a family, to love each other, and live peacefully within the directives our Holy Quran and our Islamic faith. Moreover, marriage serves as the only way for the sexes to unite, and instead of sinning, by choosing marriage, one is showing their obedience to Allah, our creator. Marriage is an agreement that should be entered into with total commitment and full understanding of the venture being taken. A partner is for life, and one must be mature enough to understand the responsibilities and demands of a marriage.

In Islam, there are certain conditions that make a marriage valid and all must be met: (1) both parties must consent; (2) Mahr must be given-this is a gift from the bride to the groom; (3) two witnesses must be present; and (4) the marriage should be made known, and not kept secret.

The general principle on marital obligation comes from our Prophet (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) who was reported to have said: “when a man marries, he has fulfilled half his religion, so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.” (As reported by Iman Malik ibn Anas; Source Jannah.org/sisters/marr.html).

I will discuss marital duties in my next post.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fasting Six days of the month of Shawwal

Shawwal is the tenth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar. The first day of Shawwal is Eid al Fitr. After Eid, it is recommended for Muslims who are able to observe six additional days of fast.

It is believed that Abu Ayyoub reported that the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alaihi was sallam) said that whomever fasts the entire month of Ramdan and then fasts six days in the month of Shawwal will be rewarded as if he or she fasted the entire year (1). You take fast anytime during the month of Shawwal expect for Eid al Fitr. The days do not have to start at the beginning of the month, nor do they have to be consecutive. However, one must make any days prior to fasting the six days in Shawwal.

If you are able to, it is a good idea to take advantage of the reward of fasting six days in Shawwal.

Endnote/Source:
(1) Ibn Shahid, “Fasting Six Days of Shawwal” From The Way of the Salaf us-Saalih. (September 29, 2008) retrieved September 28, 2008 from http://theclearsunnah.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/fasting-six-days-of-shawwal/.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Patience (Sabr) in Islam



Allah (Subhanah Wa Talah ) tests us in may ways. In fact, our Holy Quran states clearly that Allah (SWT) asks us to be patient and know the virtue of sabr.

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, Surah Baqarah (2: 155).

And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle). Surah Muhammad (47: 31).

We are all tested on a daily basis in our jobs, our lives, and with our families. We tested in stronger ways through death, divorce, illness, etc. Sometimes, our most difficult tests lead us to despair or depression. These times we should not lose hope, but exercise “sabr” or patience. The Quran tells us to place our patience in his hands and pray for guidance:
On no soul does Allah Place a burden greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns. (Pray:) “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord! Lay not on us a burden Like that which You did lay on those before us; Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith.”

There are rewards for patience. First, patient person is blessed by Allah (SWT). Second, Allah (SWT) gives us His mercy. Last, Allah (SWT) offers us his guidance

Surah Baqarah (2: 157):
They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance.”

Surah Hud (11:11), we are promised reward for our patience:
Not so do those who show patience and constancy, and work righteousness; for them is forgiveness (of sins) and a great reward.

The below You Tube Video talks about the importance of patience in Islam and examples set by our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon Him).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Child Imam

Masha'Allah, this child cannot be more than five years old.

Learning the Salah

Salah is the second and the most important pillar of Islam. The minute you recite the Kalima, Salah is mandatory upon you as a Muslim. There are no excuses for missing Salah, even if you are ill, on a journey or even in war.

Allah Ta’Ala tells us in the Glorious Qurah that "I have not created the jinn and humankind for any other purpose except that they should worship me."

Salah allows to strengthen or faith and worship of Allah. It teaches us live a life of purity and goodness and obedience to creator. Every time we perform our Salah, we renew our commitment to Allah and rid ourselves of the world’s pressures. Salah distinguishes between a believer and a non-believer and Salah is obligatory upon every Muslim.

Here is a series of seven step-by-step videos on learning the Salah for all five prayer times. You can either watch them here or you can visit the You Tube page for all seven videos.















Insha’Allah you find this helpful.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Dinner - Musakhan



This is a very famous Palestinian recipe and relatively easy to make. Some people bake the bread, but I will just pick it up already made. You can also use any time of flatbread. This recipe makes six servings takes about two hours to make.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 1/2 pounds onions, peeled and sliced thin

1/4 cup sumac

2 large khubz 'arabi (Arabic flatbread)

Directions

1. Cut the chicken into up into two breasts, two thighs, two legs, and two wings. Salt and pepper the chicken. You can add other spices if you like. Brown the chicken on all sides, cover with water, and cook under tender. After the chicken is done, remove the pieces from the water and place in a grilling pan, adding one onion cut into small pieces with salt, pepper, and summac. Grill in the oven.

2. Cut up the onions and deep fry them in the olive oil under they are golden brown. Add the sumac and cook for 2 minutes to mix.

3. To prepare the bread, spread the fried onions (and their oil) evenly onto the flatbread bread. Place the chicken over the bread. Sprinkle with summac. You can add fried pine nuts and fresh parsley for garnish.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Getting for Eid with Desert: Knefe



This is a very easy desert to make. I found it online once, but I do not recall or else I would credit the poster.

You will need the following ingredients

1 pkg of shredded phyllo (16 oz) or 16 oz of regular phyllo if you cannot find shredded
1 container of ricotta cheese (15 oz), whole milk
1 egg
1 1/2 stick of sweet butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
To make the syrup, you will need:
1 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons orange blossom water
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Directions
Shred phyllo into large mixing bowl.

Add in butter to keep phyllo from sticking. Divide phyllo into two.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, sugar and lemon juice. Mix well. Set aside.

Grease a 9x12 baking dish and place a layer of phyllo dough on the bottom.

Add your ricotta mixture on top of the dough. Add remaining phyllo and sprinkle with butter.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow cooling for about 45 minutes.

While the knefe is cooking you can make your simple syrup if you have not done so already. To make simple syrup, combine water and sugar in a pot and allow simmering over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, and then reduce heat to low and add orange blossom water. Allow syrup to cool completely.

Once knefe has cooled, flip the dish over and release it from the pan. Be sure to go around the edges with a butter knife to make it easier. Also, make sure the knefe is completely cooled! Drizzle with simple syrup and serve immediately. You can garnish your knefe with ground pistachios, walnuts, or even pine nuts.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Teaching Children About Islam #6: Islamic Holidays

My son asked me the other day about the holidays celebrated by Muslims. I did some research on the actual meanings and here is what I came up with. (Please note: I only looked into holidays celebrated by Sunni Muslims. There is a couple more celebrated by Shites.)

The Islamic New Year (1 Muharram)

The month of Muharram marks the beginning of the Islamic New Year. The Islamic Year starts on the first day of Muharram. The first Islamic year came the year of the Hegira (the Islamic Calendar) – the year in which our Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) emigrated from Mecca to Medina which is A.D. July 16, 622 on the Roman Calendar. The Islamic New Year is a relatively quiet holiday where Muslims reflect with prayers and readings.

Birth of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) - Mawlid Al-Nabi

Our Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) was on 12th day of the month of Rabi I of the Islamic calendar. We celebrate this day with recollections of Muhammad’s (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) life and significance. Fundamentalist Muslims (and probably Shites, as well) do not celebrate this holiday.

Eid Al-Fitr – The Festival of the Breaking of the Fast

Ramadan ends with festival of Eid Al-Fitr and the holiday lands on the 1st of Shawwal of the Islamic year. Eid Al-Fitr is one of the two most important holidays for Muslims; the other is Eid Al-Adha. Eid Al-Fitr celebrations include wearing the finest clothes, adorning homes with decorations, giving treats to children and celebrating with family and friends. A sense of generosity and gratitude centers on celebrations. Charity and good deeds are an important part of Islam, but during Ramadan, and especially towards the end, they hold a greater significance. As month draws to an end, Muslims are required to share their blessings and feed the poor and making contributions to mosques.

Eid Al-Adha – The Feast of Sacrifice

Eid Al-Adha lands on the 10th day of the month of Dhu’l Hijjah which is the last month of the Islamic calendar and it celebrates the conclusion of Hajj for the Islamic year. Moreover, the holiday is a time of remembrance and honor towards our Prophet Abraham’s (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) willingness to obey Allah by nearly sacrificing his son Ishmael. According to our Holy Quran, just as Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmael, Allah replaced Ishmael with a ram, and spared Ishmael’s life. The holiday lasts for three days, and occurs at the conclusion of the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca. The Hajj is for most Muslims a once-a-life time occurrence. The holiday is celebrated by sacrificing a lamb or other animal and distributing the meat to family, friends and the poor. The sacrifice is a symbol of obedience to Allah and its distribution symbolizes generosity and charity, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Source: “Islamic Holidays (Ramadan, Muharram, Mawlid Al-Nabi, and more).” Infoplease. ©2000-2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. 18 Sep. 2009. < http://www.infoplease.com/spot/islamicholidays.html>.

Ramadan Qoutes

"(It was) the month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month…"

~ [al-Baqarah 2:185]
"Allah is with those who restrain themselves."

~ [Quran 16: 128]
"He is the One GOD; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth. He is the Almighty, Most Wise."

~ [Quran 59:24]
"Allaah has made Laylat al-Qadr in this month, which is better than a thousand months, as Allaah says...The Night of Al-Qadr is better than a thousand months. Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allaah's
Permission with all Decrees, there is peace until the appearance of dawn."

~ [al-Qadar 97:1-5]
"(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew"

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:184]
"O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint."

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:183]
"When My servants ask you about Me, I am always near. I answer their prayers when they pray to Me. The people shall respond to Me and believe in Me, in order to be guided."

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:186]
"Permitted for you is sexual intercourse with your wives during the nights of fasting. They are the keepers of your secrets, and you are the keepers of their secrets. GOD knew that you used to betray your souls, and He has redeemed you, and has pardoned you. Henceforth, you may have intercourse with them, seeking what GOD has permitted for you. You may eat and drink until the white thread of light becomes distinguishable from the dark thread of night at dawn. Then, you shall fast until sunset. Sexual intercourse is prohibited if you decide to retreat to the Masjid (during the last ten days of Ramadan). These are GOD's laws; you shall not transgress them. GOD thus clarifies His revelations for the people, that they may attain salvation."

~ [al-Baqarah, 2:187]

These quotes came The Holiday Spot Website.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Incorporating Zikr in our busy lives

Our Prophet Muhammad, sallalahu alaiha wa sallam (peace and blessings upon him), taught the followers of Islam that Islam is not just a religion, but a way of life. As Muslims, we are to worship and remember Allah may times during our day. We have all been guilty of letting ourselves get caught up in our busy lives, and we forget how important this is. The respect and remembrance of Allah is what separates those on earth from those who have died. We know that remembrance of Allah includes Hajj, fasting in Ramadan, praying with a congregation at least once a week, reading and reciting the Quran, and praying five times a day. This does not mean, however, that we should forget Allah outside of those prescribed moments.

As Muslims we need incorporate Allah in our lives and in the lives of our children.

• If you need or want something, no matter what it is, pray to Allah first. "Call on Me. I will answer your prayer, but those who are too arrogant to serve me will surely find themselves humiliated in Hell" (40:60). Taking a moment to ask Allah forces you to realize that Allah wants us to remember Him and put our trust in him.

• If you are facing a difficult event or a happy one, turn to Allah. According to Abu Huraira, "The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, reported that, whoever wants Allah to answer his prayers during difficult times, should supplicate to Him more and more in times of ease."

• Always beware of how events should be addressed. Always say “Assalm Alaikum” (Peace and Blessings upon you) when you meet a fellow Muslim. Use words like Alham’dullah (All thanks to Allah) at the appropriate times to remind yourself of Allah’s presence and goodness. Use the words Insha’ Allah (God willing) when you are considering something, Ma Sha Allah, if you are praising something or someone and Bismillah (In the name of Allah) before you start anything. If you think about doing or saying Islamic, say Audhu billahi min al-shaitan ir-rajim (I seek refuge with Allah from Shaytan, the accursed) or Astaghfirullah (I ask Allah forgiveness.).

• Surround yourself with others that remember Allah. The Prophet reportedly told ibn Umar that, "There are some angels of Allah who go about looking for such assemblies or circles of Zikr, and when they find them they surround them."

"When any group of men remember Allah, angels surround them and mercy covers them, tranquility descends upon them, and Allah mentions them to those who are with Him" (Abu Huraira and Abu Said Al Khudri).

• Do not forget the importance of charity. It is reported that the Prophet once said, "Charity is obligatory every day on every joint of a human being. If one helps a person in matters concerning his riding animal by helping him to ride it or by lifting his luggage onto it, all will be regarded as charity. A good word, and every step one takes to offer compulsory congregational prayer, is regarded as charity; and guiding somebody on the road is regarded as charity (Abu Huraira).

• Teach others about Islam. The Quran says, "those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah, for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction" (13:28).

We try to find excuses for the things that we are to busy to do, but the remembrance of Allah should be a part of everything we do, and it does not take much out of our day. Whatever it is we do, we need to keep Allah in our hearts and minds. Insha’ Allah and Alham’dullah.

Source: Patel, Karin “How to incorporate Zikr into our lives.” Retrieved on September 17, 2009 from Sound Vision: http://www.soundvision.com/Info/teens/incorporatezikr.asp

Is it really the 27th day of Ramadan?

This Ramadan has gone by quite fast. It makes you realize how short life is.

This is an important day in Islamic history. As we all know, the month of Ramadan was the month that our Holy Quran was sent down from heaven. The story goes that our Prophet Muhammad - sallalahu alaiha wa sallam (peace and blessings upon him) was sitting in the wilderness alone near Mecca when the Angel Jibra’eel (Alayhis Salaam) appeared to him. Jabra’el (Alayhis Salaam) commanded Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) to read, wherein our Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) recited that he was not a reader. The Angel Jabra’el (Alayhis Salaam) then taught Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) some verses of the Quran which Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) memorized.

These revelations continued for ten days. Many Islamic scholars believed that the first revelation came on the night of the 27th day of Ramadan. That is the night we call Laylat-al-Qadr (Night of Power). Moreover, and this according to the Quran, is when Allah Ta’lah determines the course of the world for the following year.

The receiving of the Holy Quran can be compared to the receiving of the Ten Commandments to the Jews and the Christians. This is an important event in Islamic history and the lives of Muslims everywhere.

Source: Muhammad and the Holy Quran. (n.d.). Retrieved from Ramadan on the Net : http://www.holidays.net/ramadan/muhamd.htm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When is Eid Al-Fitr?

Eid Al-Fitr is a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting which is one of the greatest religious observance in Islam. What is the date for Eid Al-Fitr in 2009?

Eid Al-Fitr is expected to be on or around September 20, 2009.

Note: The exact dates of Islamic holidays cannot be determined in advance, due to the nature of the Islamic lunar calendar. Estimates are based on expected visibility of the hilal (waxing crescent moon following a new moon) and may vary according to location.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Laylat al-Qadr

My apologizes for being AWOL, but I have been working on my final project for Masters’ Ethics Course. The paper is due in less than two weeks so I am plugging away.

I just wanted to share some of my knowledge and understanding of Laylat al-Qadr. The meaning of the terms Laylat al-Qadr means the Night of Power. It is the anniversary of two important events that occurred in the month of Ramadan. First, this is the night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed our Prophet Muhammad - sallalahu alaiha wa sallam (peace and blessings upon him). It is also the night that our Holy Quran was revealed in its entirety.

The You Tube video below is a recitation of surat al Qadr (Quran 87, 1-5)



Here is the English translation.
In the name of God, the Benevolent, the Merciful.
1 Lo! We revealed it on the Night of Predestination.
2 Ah, what will convey unto thee what the Night of Power is!
3 The Night of Power has more blessings than a thousand months.
4 The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.
5 (The night is) Peace until the rising of the dawn.

According to our Holy Quran, the Night of power is between than a thousand months. The entire month of Ramadan was period of spiritual training through fasting, praying, reciting the Quran, remembering God and giving charity. The last ten days of Ramadan hold the most significance because Muslims must strive harder since Laylat al-Qadr can come in any of the odd numbered nights of Ramadan. It is believed that Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) once told believers that “Whoever stays up (in prayer and remembrance of Allah) on the Night of Qadr, fully be living (in Allah’s promise of reward), and hoping to seek reward, he shall be forgiven for his past sins.” (The Virtue of the Last Ten Days of Ramadan and Laylat al-Qadr.)

Muslims all over the world spend the last ten days of Ramadan in solid devotation. Morever, he entire month is a month of devotion, renewal and reflection. As the month comes to end, we pray that the lessons we have learned in the month of Ramadan are ones we can carry with us through out the year.

Inshallah and Alhamdallah.

Source:

The Virtue of the Last Ten Days of Ramadan and Laylat al-Qadr. (2008). Retrieved September 12, 2009, from Quran.CA: http://www.quran.ca/2008/09/28/virtue-last-ten-days-ramadan-laylat-al-qadr/

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maqloobeh-Upside Down Rice and Meat Dish

Here is another of my favorite recipes. You can make it with chicken, meat or fish, with a number of veggies: potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, etc. Here is my favorite version.

Ingredients:

2 large eggplants – peeled and sliced lengthwise
2 cups Rice (I prefer long grain)
1 pound Lamb on the bone, cooked and boiled with spices
Salt, black pepper, Allspice, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Turmeric –any other preferred spices
2 Diced Onions
2-3 cloves of garlic sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large tomato
2 bay leaves
6 cups hot water
3 cups cooking oil

Directions

In large pot, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter on medium-low heat; add diced onion and sauté until golden.

Add the lamb and bay leaves. Stir meat to coat. Cover and let simmer for ten minutes or until water is absorbed, stirring frequently. Add spices at the time

Add 6 cups hot water to lamb and bring to boil on medium-high heat, skimming the froth from the surface. Boil until meat is cooked. Remove lamb from broth and set aside. Save broth. Discard bay leaves.

In deep skillet, heat oil and Fry sliced eggplant until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In a bowl, mix 3 cups rice with spices You may add Turmeric, cardamom, allspice, salt, black pepper and cinnamon to the rice and mix well before adding it to the pot or you may add the spices on top of the rice before adding the broth- whichever you prefer.

Assembling your Maqloobeh:

Lay down the meat in the bottom of the pot; add the garlic slices around and atop the lamb pieces.

Lay the eggplants on top of the meat

Add the rice on top of the eggplants. Add the meat broth to the pot just to cover the rice, about an inch above the rice. (You can always add more later on while cooking if needed.)

Cooking

Bring the pot to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat. Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked and fluffy.

Enjoy!

Flip the pot in the serving platter.

Garnish with fried pine nuts or almond if you like.

Serve with plain yogurt or diced salad. You can try this Palestinian diced salad recipe from a week ago.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Islam Teaches Patience

Islam is 100% perfect because it was not created by man but by Allah Taa’la, and the message of Islam was brought to Muslims by our Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam). With our Prophet’s (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) example, Allah conveyed to us an example of protection for us to follow. One of the most important ideals practiced by Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) was patience through the sunnah way of life.

In town called Ta’if, a city near Mecca, our Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) went to preach Islam to the people of Ta’if. Not only were his teachings rejected, our Prophet ((sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) was taunted, stoned, and chased out of town. He (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) was bleeding and the Angel Jibra’eel (Alayhis Salaam) came to Muhammad (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) and told him that if he wished, two angels would crush the town of Ta’if and the residents of Ta’if between the two mountains in which the town lied. But our Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) responded that the residents would accept Islam soon and there was no need to punish them. Our Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) was a magnificent and breathtaking example of patience. Allbu Akbar.

What if anyone of us were in such a position? Would we be able to control our anger and use resources as those presented to Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) to hurt others had done such hurt to us?

Allah mentions patience in the Quran numerous times.

"Be patient, for your patience is with the help of Allah." (16:127)

"Patiently, then, persevere - for the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your faults, and celebrate the praises of your Lord in the evening and in the morning." (40:55)

"No one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune." (41:35)

"Verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and join together in the mutual enjoining of truth, and of patience and constancy." (103:2-3)

There are three kinds of patience that Islam reminds us of:
The first is patience through obedience; obeying Allah Taa’la.
The second is patience in troubled times.
And the third, patience in giving up sinful activities.
To be a believer of Islam, one must possess all three types of patience.
The Prophet (sallalahu alaiha wa sallam) said: “Hastiness is from the devil”
Patience is a great virtue and with patience, Allah allows reward.
May Allah Taa’la accept our patience and reward for our good deeds. Insha’Allah.
As Somali, Hassan. Those whom Allah loves. 2008 December 2008. .

Saturday, September 5, 2009

30 Facts About Islam

This list came from Islamic Information.

1) "Islam" means "peace through the submission to God".

2) "Muslim" means "anyone or anything that submits itself to the will of God".

3) Islam is not a cult. Its followers number over 1.5 billion worldwide. Along with Judaism and Christianity, it is considered to be one of the three Abrahamic traditions.

4) There are five pillars of practice in Islam. These practices must be undertaken with the best of effort in order to be considered a true Muslim: A) Shahadah - declaration of faith in the oneness of God and that Muhammad is the last prophet of God. B) Formal prayer five times a day. C) Fasting during the daylight hours in the month of Ramadan. D) Poor-due "tax" - 2.5% of one's savings given to the needy at the end of each year. E) Pilgrimage to Mecca at least once, if physically and financially able.

5) There are six articles of faith in Islam. These are the basic beliefs that one must have in order to be considered a true Muslim. They are belief in: A) the One God. B) all the prophets of God. C) the original scriptures revealed to Prophets Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad. D) the angels. E) the Day of Judgment and the Hereafter. F) the divine decree (or destiny).

6) Islam is a complete way of life that governs all facets of life: moral, spiritual, social, political, economical, intellectual, etc.

7) Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world. To become Muslim, a person of any race or culture must say a simple statement, the shahadah, that bears witness to the belief in the One God and that Prophet Muhammad was the last prophet of God.

8) "Allah" is an Arabic word that means "God". Muslims also believe that "Allah" is the personal name of God.

9) Allah is not the God of Muslims only. He is the God of all people and all creation. Just because people refer to God using different terms does not mean that they are different gods. Spanish people refer to God as "Dios" and French people refer to God as "Dieu", yet they are all the same God. Interestingly, most Arab Jews and Arab Christians refer to God as "Allah". And the word Allah in Arabic appears on the walls of many Arab churches.

10) The Islamic concept of God is that He is loving, merciful, and compassionate. But Islam also teaches that He is just and swift in punishment. Nevertheless, Allah once said to Prophet Muhammad, "My mercy prevails over my wrath." Islam teaches a balance between fear and hope, protecting one from both complacency and despair.

11) Muslims believe that God has revealed 99 of His names (or attributes) in the Holy Qur'an. It is through these names that one can come to know the Creator. A few of these names are: the All-Merciful, the All-Knower, the Protector, the Provider, the Near, the First, the Last, the Hidden, and the Source of Peace.

12) Muslims believe in and acknowledge all the prophets of old, from Adam to Jesus. Muslims believe that they brought the message of peace and submission (islam) to different peoples at different times. Muslims also believe that these prophets were "muslims" because they submitted their wills to God.

13) Muslims neither worship Muhammad nor pray through him. Muslims solely worship the unseen and Omniscient Creator, Allah.

14) Muslims accept the original unaltered Torah (the Gospel of Moses) and the original Bible (the Gospel of Jesus) since they were revealed by God. However, none of those original scriptures are in existence today, in their entirety. Therefore, Muslims follow the subsequent, final, and preserved revelation of God, the Holy Qur'an.

15) The Holy Qur'an was not authored by Muhammad. It was authored by God, revealed to Muhammad, and written into physical form by his companions.

16) The Holy Qur'an has no flaws or contradictions. The original Arabic scriptures have never been changed or tampered with.

17) Actual seventh century Qur'ans, complete and intact, are on display in museums in Turkey and many other places around the world.

18) If all Qur'ans in the world today were burned and destroyed, the original Arabic would still remain. This is because millions of Muslims, called Hafiz (or "preservers") have memorized the text letter for letter from beginning to end, every word and syllable. Also, chapters from the Qur'an are precisely recited from memory by every Muslim in each of the five daily prayers.

19) Muslims do not believe in the concept of "vicarious atonement" but rather believe in the law of personal responsibility. Islam teaches that each person is responsible for his or her own actions. On the Day of Judgment Muslims believe that every person will be resurrected and will have to answer to God for their every word, thought, and deed. Consequently, a practicing Muslim is always striving to be righteous.

20) Islam was not spread by the sword. It was spread by the word (Islamic teachings) and the example of its followers. Islam teaches that there is no compulsion in religion (the Holy Qur'an 2:256 and 10:99).

21) Terrorism, unjustified violence and the killing of innocent people are absolutely forbidden in Islam. Islam is a way of life that is meant to bring peace to a society, whether its people are Muslim or not. The extreme actions of those who claim to be Muslim may be, among other things, a result of their ignorance or uncontrolled anger. Tyrant rulers and those who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam are simply not following Islam. These people are individuals with their own views and political agendas. Fanatical Muslims are no more representative of the true Islamic teachings than Timothy McVeigh or David Koresh are of Christianity. Extremism and fanaticism is a problem that is common to all religious groups. Anyone who thinks that all Muslims are terrorists should remember that the famous boxer Muhammad Ali, perhaps the most celebrated person of our era, is a practicing Muslim.

22) The word "jihad" does not mean "holy war". Instead, it means the inner struggle that one endures in trying to submit their will to the will of God. Some Muslims may say they are going for "jihad" when fighting in a war to defend themselves or their fellow Muslims, but they only say this because they are conceding that it will be a tremendous struggle. But there are many other forms of jihad which are more relevant to the everyday life of a Muslim such as the struggles against laziness, arrogance, stinginess, or the struggle against a tyrant ruler or against the temptation of Satan, or against one's own ego, etc.

23) Women are not oppressed in Islam. Any Muslim man that oppresses a woman is not following Islam. Among the many teachings of Prophet Muhammad that protected the rights and dignity of women is his saying, "...the best among you are those who treat their wives well." (Tirmidhi)

24) Islam grants women numerous rights in the home and in society. Among them are the right to earn money, to financial support, to an education, to an inheritance, to being treated kindly, to vote, to a dowry, to keep their maiden name, to worship in a mosque, etc., etc.

25) Muslim women wear the head-covering (hijab) in fulfillment of God's decree to dress modestly. From a practical standpoint, it serves to identify one as attempting to follow God in daily life and, therefore, protects women from unwanted advances from men. This type of modest dress has been worn by righteous women throughout history. Prominent examples are traditional Catholic Nuns, Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.

26) Arranged marriages are allowed in Islam but are not required. Whereas "forced" marriages, usually stemming from cultural practice, are forbidden. Divorce is permissible, however, reconciliation is what is most encouraged. But if there are irreconcilable differences then Islam permits a fair and just divorce.

27) Islam and the "Nation of Islam" are two different religions. Islam is a religion for all races and enjoins the worship of the one unseen God who, orthodox Muslims believe, never took human form. The "Nation", on the other hand, is a movement geared towards non-whites and teaches that God appeared in the form of Fard Muhammad in 1930 and that Elijah Muhammad (a man who died in 1975) was a prophet of God. These beliefs clearly contradict the basic Islamic theology outlined in the Qur'an. The followers of "the Nation" adhere to some Islamic principles that are mixed with many other teachings that are alien to Islam. To better understand the difference between the two, read about Malcolm X, his pilgrimage to Mecca and his subsequent comments to the media. Islam teaches equality amongst all the races (Holy Qur'an 49:13).

28) All Muslims are not Arab. Islam is a universal religion and way of life which includes followers from all races of people. There are Muslims in and from virtually every country in the world. Arabs only constitute about 20% of Muslims worldwide. Indonesia has the largest concentration of Muslims with over 120 million.

29) In the five daily prayers, Muslims face the Kaaba in Mecca, Arabia. It is a cube-shaped stone structure that was originally built by Prophet Adam and later rebuilt by Prophet Abraham. Muslims believe that the Kaaba was the first house of worship on Earth dedicated to the worship of one god. Muslims do not worship the Kaaba. It serves as a central focal point for Muslims around the world, unifying them in worship and symbolizing their common belief, spiritual focus and direction. Interestingly, the inside of the Kaaba is empty.

30) The hajj is a simultaneous pilgrimage to the Kaaba made by millions of Muslims each year. It is performed to commemorate the struggles of Abraham, Ismail and Hagar in submitting their wills to God.

Malfouf (Stuffed-Cabbage)

Can you guess what we have having for dinner?

Ingredients:
Medium Cabbage
1 ½ cups ground beef
1 small to medium diced onion
1 cup long grain rice
Garlic, you need few whole garlic cloves peeled and some minced.

2 to 3 teaspoons of any or all of the following spices: Cumin, Allspice, Cinnamon, Curry Salt and Black Pepper. You can use any other favorites you like.
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Lemon juice
1 cup water or as needed

Directions

Preparing Rice.
Wash and drain rice. Let set for a bit in warm water.
Mix up the ground beef, onions and rice; add olive oil and spices and set aside.

Preparing the Cabbage
Prepare your cabbage leaves by separating the leaves from the cabbage head.
Cut away stems. You can save them and use them at the bottom of the pot.
Boil the leaves a few at a time in boiling salted water until they are soft enough to roll.

Making the Leaves
Bring out your rice now
Cut the leaves to form a cigar size roll. Place stuffing on each leaf, fold sides toward center and roll up from bottom into a cigar shape –just like grape leaves. Do not over stuff fbecause the rice will expand. Press together firmly.
In the pot, place layer of the saved stems. Place the whole garlic heads in between the rolled Malfouf rows. Sprinkle with salt, and cumin in your rows.

Cooking
Time about an hour to an hour and a half.
Once you are finished rolling up the leaves. Add water and lemon juice to your taste, boil then simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.

Once the rice and the leaves are well cooked, serve in a platter.
Add more lemon juice if you like.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Comments

If you previously were not able to submit comments to my blog, you should be able to now.

Muslim Stereotypes

One of the biggest deterrents for me in acceptance of my faith for many years is the stereotypes of Muslims that exist in the United States. The anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks is upon us so I thought it would be a good idea to address the issues of such stereotypes and why they have increased in recent years.

We have all heard stories of Muslims, and people who “appear” to be Muslims, of being harassed or bullied based on the fact the share the same religion of the infamous suicide bombers who hijacked and crashed the planes eight years ago. Despite the actions of a few extremists, Islam is a peaceful religion that accepts diversity of all faiths and peoples. Think about it this way! The Almighty Allah revealed himself to the prophets of the Christians and Jews before he revealed himself to the Islamic prophets (peace and blessings be upon them). Moreover, Muslims accept the teachings of the Torah and the Bible. This sets straight the myth that Muslims dislike people who don’t share their belief system.

Another stereotype, that was ignited further after September 11, 2001, is that Islam teaches violence and that all Muslims are extremists. That is NOT what Islam teaches, and such a belief shouldn’t exist just because a few extremists are newsworthy. Our Glorious Quran teaches us peace and charity. Sadly, the loudest voices in Islam are preaching violence and they are the reason for these negative views. Those people do not stand for the whole of Islam.

Yet another stereotype is that is that Islam is a religion that oppresses women. There are over 20,000 women a year who convert to Islam – there is something to be said about that. Oppression is how the western media portrays Muslim women and by in large, that is not true.

The western media is to blame for the majority of those stereotypes because its portrayal of Muslims does an injustice to the Islamic world fueling anger and ignorance towards Muslims. Now, with that said, I would like to add that there are bad seeds in every bunch. There are Muslims who fuel the anger and add to the ignorance about Islam. All we can do is be good Muslims and try to make our voices louder than those that preach violence, ill treatment towards women, and hate. Insha’Allah and Alhamdulillah.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another of my favorite Ramadan Recipes: Mujadarrah (Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions)

This recipe is a personal favorite of me and has been since I was a child. This recipe serves four and the prep time is about 40 to 50 minutes.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced or slice into rings (you can also use a red onion)
1 1/3 cups uncooked brown lentils
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
salt and pepper and cumin

Directions:
1. Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.
2. Stir in the rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan with the lentils.
3, Season with salt, pepper and cumin.
4. Cover saucepan, and continue to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender.
5. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and sauté about 10 minutes, until browned.
6. Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture.

Top with yogurt or diced salad.

Here is a great Palestinian salad recipe to go with the Mujadarrah.

Ingredients
4 small English seedless cucumbers
4 medium tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions
1. Dice cucumber and tomatoes.
2. Place in bowl.
3. Add parsley.
4. Just before serving, add the salt, lemon and olive oil and mix.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hadeeth #1

The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said:"Whoever completes fasts of Ramadan then adds to them the fast of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the thawab of fasting for the whole year." (Sahih Muslim)

A letter from Shaitaan (Shaitan)

I found this at the Islamic Information website.

A letter from Shaitaan (Shaitaan means devil)

I saw you yesterday as you began your daily chores. You awoke without stopping to pray. As a matter of fact, you didn't even bless your meals, or pray before going to bed last night. You are so unthankful, I like that about you. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you have not changed your way of living, Fool, you are mine.

Remember, you and I have been going steady for years, and I still don't love you yet. As a matter of fact, I hate you, because I hate God. I am only using you to get even with God. He kicked me out of heaven, and I'm going to use you as long as possible to pay him back. You see, Fool, GOD LOVES YOU and HE has great plans in store for you. But you have yielded your life to me and I'm going to make your life a living hell. That way we'll be together twice. This will really hurt God. Thanks to you.

I'm really showing Him who's boss in your life. With all of the good times we've had..... We have been watching dirty movies, cursing people, out partying, stealing, lying, being hypocritical, indulging in fornication, overeating, telling dirty jokes, gossiping, back stabbing people, disrespecting adults and those in leadership position, NO respect for the mosque, bad attitudes: SURELY you don't want to give all this up.

Come on, Fool, let's burn together forever. I've got some hot plans for us. This is just a letter of appreciation from me to you. I'd like to say "Thanks!" for letting me use you for most of your foolish life. You are so gullible, I laugh at you. When you are tempted to sin, you give in HA HA HA, you make me sick. Sin is beginning to take its toll on your life. You look 20 years older, I need new blood. So go ahead and teach some children how to sin.

All you have to do is smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, cheat, gamble, gossip, fornicate, and listen to and dance to the top 10 jams. Do all of this in the presence of children and they will do it too. Kids are like that. Well, Fool, I have to let you go for now. I'll be back in a couple of seconds to tempt you again. If you were smart, you would run somewhere, confess your sins, ask forgiveness from Him, live for God with what little bit of life that you have left. It's not my nature to warn anyone, but to be your age and still sinning, it's becoming a bit ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I still hate you...... IT'S JUST THAT YOU'D MAKE A BETTER FOOL FOR GOD.

Monday, August 31, 2009

One of My Ramadan Desserts: Katayef (Pancakes) with Walnut Stuffing

This photo is courtesy of jordanpicture.blogspot.com. You can also find a Jordanian verision of this recipe there.

Katayef is one of my personal favorites even though I have never been really good at making it. My mom, however, is a genius when it comes to katayef. Here is her recipe.

Katayef with Walnut Stuffing (Pancakes stuffed w/walnut stuffing)

Ingredients
3 cups flour
1 cups farina/cream of wheat
½ tsp of yeast
2 cups water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking power, ½ tsp of baking soda
A pinch of salt (this I will never understand)

Directions
You can hand mix or use a blender. Add water, farina, yeast and sugar. Blend/Mix well.
Slowly add the flour and continue to blend. Add in baking power and soda.
Heat a griddle or non stick skillet with med-high heat. Power mix in medium circles like you do with pancakes.
Cook golden brown, no need to flip over- remove after the one side is golden brown.
Let cool.
While cooling the pancakes, prepare the walnut stuffing.

Walnut Stuffing
2 cups walnuts – crushed
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp fine coconut (this is optional)
Mix ingredients well.
Stuffing the pancakes
Place about one tbsp stuffing on each pancake.
Fold over, pressing the edges together to close.

Baking
Heat your over to about 400 degrees.
Grease a baking tray. Line the katayef up with each with cooking oil.
Place in oven for about 10 mins, and then flip over to the other side to brown for another 10 minutes.
Let Cool.
While your katayef are baking and cooling, prepare your syrup.

Syrup
Mix 3 cups of water with 3 cups of sugar in a medium pot with a 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Bring to a boil and keep stirring on a high heat. Reduce to medium heat and let simmer until texture of syrup is thick.
You can now dip the katayef in the syrup until they are each completely covered.

You can serve right way. Katayef is best served warm.

Teaching Your Children About Islam #5: Teaching Islam to your children is part of your Islamic Duty

Islam teaches us to be successful and the way to do so is to utilize our knowledge of the Quran and to practice the sunnah way of life. We need to constantly focus our time, our efforts, emotions and patience in learn Islam, not just for us to be successful, but for us to be able to share Islam with our children. Teaching them Islam and the sunnah way of life is the best gift that we can give our children. We are accountable for our children’s successes and failures in this life and in the hereafter. It is our duty as Muslims to teach our children to be accountable. Our prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has made it clear that the way of the sunnah is be responsible and accountable for our children and our families.

There is a story where Abdullah ibn Umar heard the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing upon him) saying that:

"Everyone of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband's house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for it." I heard that from Allah's Apostle and I think that the Prophet also said, "A man is a guardian of is father's property and is responsible for it, so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care." Hadith of Bukhari 3/592

The statement above shows how our Prophet (peace and blessing upon him) commands Muslims to be responsible for their families and their children. Thus, the best way to do this is to teach our children Islam, as Allah has told us that our children, as are our wealth and possessions, are a test from Allah. “Your riches and your children may be but a trial: whereas Allah, with Him is the highest Reward.” [Qur'an 64:15]

Because our children are a trial and that all riches attained are not as high as pleasing the Almighty Allah, we must guide our children to Islam. In order for us to pass Allah’s test, our children must worship and please Allah, our creator. By teaching our children Islam properly, we give them the best education we can give them. Isha’Allah.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Islamic Stories #2: How It All Started

This is one of my favorites and it brings tears to my eyes each and every time.

Nearly 4,000 years ago in Sumerian town of Ur in the Valley of the River Euphrates (now a southern province of Iraq), lived a young man named Abraham. The people of Ur once worshipped Allah, but as time passed they forgot their true faith, and started praying and worshipping idols as statutes made of wood and clay and sometimes even stones. Abraham could not understand this. How could people worship things they made with their own hands? He would often leave the town to sit alone and think about the heavens and the earth and world around him. He believed wholeheartedly that the worship of his people was wrong and that there was a right way of worship.

One night, Abraham sat staring at the sky and saw a beautiful shining star, so he said “This must be Allah!” (Quran vi.77) The star then faded away and he became disappointed. Another night Abraham saw the rising moon and he though to himself “This is my Lord.” (Quran vi. 78) But the set and Abraham began to wonder: “Unless my Lord guide me, I surely shall become one of the folk who are astray.” (Quran vi. 78).

Abraham started to see the beauty in the moon and the sun and the stars. Abraham began to realize that Allah was the most powerful and Allah was the creator of everything: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, etc. This understanding made Abraham feel at ease, because he finally realized the truth. He went back to his father and the town’s folks and inquired what it they worshiped. They told him that they worshipped and were devoted to idols. He asked them if their idols heard them when they cried or did their idols benefit them in any way or harm them. They responded in the negative.

To this, Abraham became angry and told them that Allah created them and guided them. It was Allah who fed them and it was from Allah that they drank water. It was Allah who healed when they were sick. It was Allah who allowed death and it would be Allah that lifted humanity to the heavens and Allah who would forgive them for their sins.

What do you worship? They said: We worship idols, and are ever devoted to them. He said: Do they hear you when you cry? Or do they benefit or harm you? They said: Nay, but we found our fathers acting in this manner. He said: See now that which you worship, you and your forefathers! Lo! They are (all) an enemy to me, except the Lord of the Worlds. Who created me, and He guides me, And Who feeds me and waters me. And when I sicken, then He heals me. And Who causes me to die, then gives me life (again) And Who, I ardently hope, will forgive me my sin on the Day of Judgment. (Quran xxvi.70-82)

One day, when the townspeople were away, Abraham smashed the idols, expect for the ones they were too large. They asked Abraham who had done such a thing, and Abraham responded that they should ask their Gods. To this, the people responded that the idols do not speak.

To this, Abraham responded: ‘Do you worship what you yourselves have carved when Allah created you and what you make?' ‘Do you worship instead of Allah that which cannot profit you at all, nor harm you?' (Quran xxxvii.9S—6, xxi.66).

Abraham then issued a warning to the townspeople:

Serve Allah, and keep your duty unto Him; that is better for you if you did but know. You serve instead of Allah only idols, and you only invent a lie. Lo! Those whom you serve instead of Allah own no provision for you. So seek your provision from Allah, and serve Him, and give thanks unto Him, (for) unto Him you will be brought back. (Quran, xxix. 16-17)

The people decided to punish Abraham by burning him to death. The King of Ur and the townspeople gathered as Abraham was put into a closed-off building filled and made with wood. The fire was so bad that the people were pushed back by the flames.

Allah said: “O’fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham.” (Quran, xxi. 69)

When the fire died down, they saw Abraham sitting as if nothing happened. The people of Ur, despite the miracle before them, still not convinced of the presence and power of Allah. Abraham implored his father to stop serving the devil and to reject the gods of Ur, and his father would not. Abraham was threatened with stoning, and left Ur, sadly without his father.

Abraham left his home and went into the wilderness alone. He could not remain in Ur among people who worshipped statutes. He travelled long and far and then settled in what is not Palestine. This is where he married Sarah. Unfortunately, Sarah and Abraham were not blessed with a child and Abraham married another woman, Hagar who gave him a son, Ishmael. Years later, Sarah had a son and they named him Isaac. Allah told Abraham to leave Palestine to a new land with Hagar and Ishmael only.

Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael leaving Palestine was a wonderful and important part of Allah’s plan for Islam. You see, the decedents of Ishmael would form a nation from which a prophet would be born that would guide the people in the way of Allah. This would be Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him), the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him). From the decedents of Sarah’s son, Isaac, would come Moses and Jesus.

Well Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael left Palestine and travelled until they reached what is now Mecca. There was no water in the valley of Mecca, but Abraham left Hagar and Ishmael knowing Allah would take care of them. With no water, Hagar found two hills, one called Safa and the other Marwah. She went up one hill and found no water. Then she went up the second hill and again, found none. She did this seven times going up and down both hills. Then she returned to her son and to her surprise she found a spring of water bubbling out from the earth beneath him. The spring, near where Hagar and Ishmael settled, was later called Zamzam.

The area where Hagar and her son settled became the city of Mecca. Abraham would visit his family from time to time, travelling from Palestine to Mecca. During one of his visits to Mecca, Allah commanded Abraham and Ishmael to build the rebuild the Ka’bah, the very first place that people worshipped Allah. Allah told them exactly how to build it – it would stand straight up by the wall of Zamzam and be in the shape of a cube. Its eastern corner was to be built using black stone that fell to earth from heaven, and was brought to them by an angel from the hill of Abu Qubays. Abraham and Ishmael worked hard and prayed that Allah would send a prophet from among their decedents.

After the completion of the Kabah, Allah commanded Abraham to call mankind to his Holy House. Abraham was not sure if anyone would hear his call, but Allah told him that Abraham would call them and Allah would bring them. This call is how the pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca started and til this day, the people of Islam continue to answer the call of Abraham.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Islamic Stories #1: The Prophet is Born

These weres stories I heard growing up and I wanted to share them.

One day, an Arab tribe of Mecca was traveling and met a hermit in the desert, and some of the men in the group stopped to speak with him. Hermits were known for being wise and the tribes relied on them for advice in those days. The hermit asked the group where they were from and they responded that they were from Mecca. Then, the hermit told them that soon Allah would send them a prophet, and that prophet would be born among their people. The hermit also told them that the new prophet’s name would be "Muhammad" and that he would guide them into a new way of life.

Meanwhile, back in Mecca, Aminah, the mother of our soon-to-be prophet, Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, was saddened by the loss of her husband, and was at the time pregnant with a boy. During her pregnancy, she had many dreams, and one occasion, she dreamt that there was a great light shining out of her, and on another occasion, she dreamt that she heard a voice telling her that she would have a boy and his name would be "Muhammad." She never forgot that voice, but kept her dream to herself.

On a Monday, the 12th day of Rabi al-Awwal, in the year of the Elephant, Aminah gave birth to her son. Allah had sent many signs that one of his chosen prophets would be born on that date in the year 570 A.D., and these signs were seen. Many Jewish scholars who read the scriptures knew of these signs. One of the scholars of the town of Yathrib saw a brillant new star in the sky that he had never seen before the night our prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was born. He called the people around him to show them the star and told them that that sign meant that the new prophet was born.

The same night, another Jew passed the meeting place of Qurayash in Mecca. He asked them if a baby boy had just been born among their people. His question was confirmed and he told them if that were true, then the boy would be the Prophet of the Arab nation.

Aminah sent news of the birth to her father-in-law, Abd al-Muttalib, who was sitting near the Kabah when the news came. He was delighted and began to think of a name for the child. Six days had passed and he was not able to find the right name for the child. On the seventh day, Abd al-Muttalib feel asleep near the Kabah, and dreamt that he should name the child "Muhammad", just as Aminah had dreamt. Thus, the child was called Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). The name Muhammad means "the Praised One."

When Abd al-Muttalib was asked by the leaders of Qurayash what he named his grandson. Many asked him why he would choose such a name and not a name that their people would name. He told them that he wanted his grandson to be praised by "Allah in the heavens and by men on earth."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don’t Forget Your Zakat

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is mentioned well over 70 times in our Glorious Quran, and after Salah, it is the most important act in Islam.

The meaning of the term “Zakat” is “purity” or “cleanliness.” You must set a portion of your wealth for the poor and needy so that one’s soul and wealth is purified. Wealth is impure in Allah’s eyes if you do perform your Zakat. Moreover, your soul would be impure because not giving Zakat means you are ungrateful.

You must perform your Zakat in a monetary manner. Those who fulfill this duty are promised abundant reward in this world and the hereafter. Evading your Zakat means consequences as warned in our Glorious Quran.

The benefits of Zakat include:

It reminds Muslims of the fact that whatever wealth they may possess is due to the blessings of Allah and as such it is to be spent according to the His commands.

Zakat functions as a social security for all. Those who have enough money today pay for what they have. If they need money tomorrow they will get what is necessary to help them live decently.

Zakat payer pays his dues to Allah as an act of worship, a token of submission and an acknowledgment of gratitude. The receiver of Zakat receives it as a grant from Allah out of His bounty, a favor for which he is thankful to Allah.

Economically, Zakat is the best check against hoarding. Those who do not invest their wealth but prefer to save or hoard it would see their wealth dwindling year after year at the rate of the payable Zakat. This helps increase production and stimulates supply because it is a redistribution of income that enhances the demand by putting more real purchasing power in the hands of poor.


Source: Easy Islam, http://www.easyislam.com/zakat.asp

Moreover, Zakat obligatory upon:

Every adult who is sane, free and Muslim.
Wealth must be in excess of a specified amount, excluding personal belongs
It should be possessed for one complete lunar year.
Zakat should of some productive nature that derives benefit or profit, i.e, merchandise, gold, livestock, etc.

For more information on calculating Zakat, visit Easy Islam.

Allah tells us of the virtue of giving Zakat in the Quran:

"The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn. It grows seven ears and each ear has hundred grains. Allah increases manifold to whom He pleases." (Quran 2:261)

Benefits derived from giving Zakat include: the pleasure of Allah, increase in wealth and protection from losses, Allah’s forgiveness and blessings, protection from the wrath of Allah and from a bad death, shelter on the Day of Judgment, and security from 70 misfortunes.

The Quran also tells us the punishment of not giving Zakat:

"And there are those who hoard gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, announce to them a most grievous penalty (when) on the Day of Judgment heat will be produced out of that wealth in the fire of Hell. Then with it they will be branded on their forehead and their flanks and backs. (It will be said to them) This is the treasure which you hoarded for yourselves, taste then the treasure that you have been hoarding." (Al-Quran 9:34-35)

Your Zakat must be paid by the end of Ramadan. There are many of us struggling through some tough economic times, but we still need to perform our Zakat. Remember, Zakat is contingent upon your income, and if you are unable to give Zakat in monetary form, you can give something of value away, like livestock or business services.

For some examples on how to calculate Zakat, visit Iman’s Corner at the Islamic Center of Raleigh.

In the meantime, I hope your Ramadan is blissful and beautiful. Isha’allah.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Teaching Your Children About Islam #4: Why do Muslims Fast?

Children ask this question with curiosity. This is your chance to explain the greatness of Islam to them. My son asked me this recently and I had to do some research on answer. Just because we are parents and raised in the Islamic faith does not mean we know the answers. Here are some explanations that you can provide your children with.

First, it is our ibadah (our worship) to Allah. According to our prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him), the month of Ramadan is a great and blessed month. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam. We fast to please Allah. Fasting, like the other pillars of Islam, helps us to be positive, practice good will, and good character in our lives and our communities. Fasting helps us develop faithfulness devotion to God.

Another reason for fasting is we build good and moral characters because our consciousness is provoked. A God conscious and fearing heart causes us to act positively. We become self-purified, self-motivated and self-inspired to do good. Our hearts are peaceful and through this, we create positive energy. Moreover, we more aware about doing right and staying away from the wrong. Our consciousness is called Taqwa (God- consciousness).

Another great thing that comes out through our fasting and our awareness is our development for strong action and good intention towards brotherhood and sisterhood. Fasting, especially Ramadan, brings people together at numerous times during the day: at Suhr (predawn meal), Iftaar (sunset meal) and Tarawih prayers (special Ramadan prayers), instead to the normal five times a day prayers.

Ramadan is also a month of sharing and giving charity. Sadaqah is the voluntary charity whereas Zakah is required of every Muslim. Our Prophet (Peace and Blessing Be Upon Him) said: “If someone gives one who has been fasting something with which to break his fast, it will provide forgiveness for his sins."

There are so many more reasons for fasting in Ramadan. The month of Ramadan was the month that our Glorious Quran was revealed. Fasting brings us closer to the Quran and we must aim to complete at least one reading of the Quran, especially during the Tarawih prayers.

Fasting also teaches us patience and commitment. We learn patience to endure hunger and thirst. We understand the sufferings of the poor and needy and thus, we learn to be compassionate. Patience is also very important in understanding right and forbidding the wrong. We also learn self and social discipline. The waking, the prayer, the breaking of the fast, and so forth help us to create order in our lives. Community relationships are stressed in Ramadan because people come together to understand and practice. Everyone is part of the Islamic community, rich or poor, and no one is different or better in Allah’s eyes.

Allah revealed two verses that spelt out our reasons for fasting.

"O ye who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to attain) piety" (Q2:183)

"(fasting is) for a fixed number of days: but if any one of you is sick, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from (other) days later. For those who can do it (with hardship) is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But whoever can give more (than this) of his own free will--(then) it is better for him, and it is better for you that ye fast, if ye but knew." Q(2:184)
When these two verses revealed, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to the Muslims "Ramadan fast is a divine obligation but whoever likes to fast `Ashura day (as well) may do so voluntarily or leave it".

The Ramadan fast is a blessings to Muslims. Allah gave us the entire month of Ramadan as a blessing and our opportunity not to lose sight of who we are.
Share this with you children and you will be surprised with their responses.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Suhr Favorites

This is a memory I miss about growing up in a big family during Ramadan – Suhr. Here are couple of my favorite Suhr recipes.

Tomato Salad w/Tahini Sauce

Ingredients

3 tomatoes
1 large cucumber
2 garlic cloves – crushed
½ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mint, if available, about 1/2 cup chopped
½ cup tahini sause

Directions
Dice tomatoes and cucumber (mint) – leave some mint for later
Mix tahini with garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. You can add a little water to lighten the thickens
Add tahini mix with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and mix well
Pour olive over as a garnish with some mint.

Palestinian Omelet – Makes two omelets

Ingredients
6 eggs slightly beaten
4 tablespoons parsley chopped
½ bunch green onions chopped
4 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 tablespoon fresh (or dry) chopped mint
½ an onion chopped, if you like
Any other veggie you would like to add
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together expect butter
Place 2 tablespoons butter in pan and heat
Drop ½ the egg mixture in skillet
When set, turn the omelet to the other side. Fry until golden brown
Repeat same for second omelet

What are your favorite Suhr favorites? Share those on your blog and leave a link here. Thanks.

The Quran Says:

"And thus preach joy to My servants.Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it. Those are the ones whom Allah has guided and they are the wise people." (39:17-18)