Sunday, February 15, 2009

Surah Al Fatihah سورة الفاتحة‎: its meaning in English and learning how to recite it

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,

a. the importance of prayer (salat)

b. the times for prayer (salat) and

c. how purify yourself for prayer (salat)

...It is time for you to start praying like a Muslim!!!! Yay! MashaAllah for all your good effort sisters! The most important thing for you to learn now is memorising Surah Al Fatihah (which is a chapter in the Qu'ran called "The Opening").

A surah is an Islamic word for chapter, and an ayah is an Islamic word for "verse". In English, the title Al Fatihah is often translating to "The Opening" or the "Exordium". Surah Al Fatihah is the first surah (chapter) in the Qu'ran, and it consists of seven ayahs (verses) that form a prayer for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala's mercy and guidance, and express the believer's dependence on the lordship and mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.

Recitation of Surah Al Fatihah is considered a fard (obligatory) act during salat because Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whoever offers a prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Kitab (i.e., Al-Fatihah), it is defective” – he said so three times" [Narrated by Muslim]. Without a proper recitation of Surah Al Fatihah a prayer is defective, i.e invalid, so learning Surah Al Fatihah in arabic ASAP is of great importance.

The Arabic language of the Qu'ran is a direct revelation (word for word) from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala of what was taught to the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam from the angel Jibreel (Gabriel). If it is translated, some of the original meaning is lost and that is something a Muslim never risks doing during his/her salat. The Qu'ran is recited ONLY in Arabic when it is used as a form of worship. So the worshipper must recite it properly in Arabic, because we are commanded to read and recite the Qur’an as it was revealed. Whoever is unable to pronounce it properly because of some defect in her tongue or because she is not an Arabic-speaker must learn to correct her pronunciation as much as she can. If she cannot, then she is relieved of this obligation, because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala does not burden people with more than they are able to bear. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says: “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope” [Al-Baqarah 2:286]

One should still know the meaning of what they are reciting so that they can have good intentions while they say the words of a certain surah or ayah of the Qu'ran, and so that they can really mean what they are saying. Surah Al Fatihah has a meaning roughly as follows in English:
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Master of the worlds and Sovereign of the Day of Judgement
You alone we worship, and from You alone we seek our aid
Guide us to the straight path
The path of those You have earned Your favour
Not of those who have earned Your anger
Or those who have gone astray.

Bismillahir Rahmanir-Raheem
Al-Hamdu Lil-lahi Rabbil-'Alameen
Maliki Yawmid-Deen
'Iyaka Na'budu Wa' Iyaka Nasta'een
Siratal-Ladheena 'An'amta 'Alay-him
Ghayril-Maghdhoubi 'Alay-him Wa La-dhaalleen
(Ameen) [this is sunnah to say but is not printed in the Qu'ran]

I personally found this to be a very good online tutorial teaching one how to recite Al Fatihah:

As newbie Muslimah you don't have to worry too much about your tajweed yet just good pronunciation of all the Arabic sounds forming the ayahs of Al Fatihah. Here are some others reading Al-Fatiha with tajweed (tajweed is a term for correct and beautiful and sometimes even artistic recitiation of the Qu'ran):
Surah Al-Fatihah recited by Sa'id Al Ghamdi:
Surah Al Fatihah recited by Mishary Rashid Alafasy:
Surah Al Fatihah recited by Fahd Al-Kanderi: =JqbPcAp_k-8&feature=related
Surah Al Fatihah recited by an Albanian boy:

When the time for salat comes now that you have learnt Al Fatihah make the proper ablution and then recite Surah Al Fatihah. If, in the middle of salat, you can only remember a few lines of Surah Al Fatihah, recite what you know because the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whatever you know of Qur’an, recite it, otherwise praise Allah, proclaim His Oneness and magnify Him.” [Narrated by Abu Dawud][Al-Mughni, 1/289, 290] and then you may add after what you know, that God is One and the Creator/Maintainer of all to finish up your salat. Some sisters write down Surah Al Fatihah one something they can read while preforming salat in order to memorize it. So you must try hard and keep practising it. You can do this by reciting it to another Muslim sister who can recite it well, and by listening to surahs recited by skilled reciters on tapes or broadcasts.There is no need to feel nervous and anxious, because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows what is in people’s hearts, and He knows who is trying hard and making the effort, and who is lazy and heedless.The difficulty that you find in reciting Qur’an will increase your hasanaat (good deeds) and rewards. It was narrated that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said: the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “The one who is skilled in reciting Qur’aan will be with the noble and obedient scribes (i.e., the angels?) and the one who reads the Qur’aan and struggles with it because it is difficult for him will have two rewards.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 798)
Al-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: The one who struggles with it is the one who is hesitant in his recitation because he is not able to memorize it well. He will have two rewards: the reward for reciting it and the reward for his efforts in reciting it. There is no need to repeat verses more than once, because this is not what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did or taught. Rather that opens the door to waswaas (whispers from the Shaytaan), detracts from the prayer, makes you lose your focus, distracts you from pondering the meaning of the verses and makes the shaytaan happy, because from that he can find a way to make you suffer so that you will ultimately give up praying. But Allah is Most Gracious and Most Merciful, and He is more merciful towards us than we are to ourselves, and He does not burden us with more than we can bear.

a. A recitiation of Al Fatihah is necessary for salat to be valid since the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “Whoever offers a prayer in which he does not recite Umm al-Kitab (i.e., Al-Fatihah), it is defective”
b. Besides being an obligation in the five fard prayers, there is hassanat (reward) for the act. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: “The one who is skilled in reciting Qur’aan will be with the noble and obedient scribes (i.e., the angels?) and the one who reads the Qur’aan and struggles with it because it is difficult for him will have two rewards.”
c. It was said to Abu Hurayrah: "...I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“Allah said: I have divided prayer between Myself and My slave into two halves and My slave shall have what he has asked for. When the slave says: Al-hamdu lillahi rabbi l-alamin (All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists), Allah says: My slave has praised Me. And when he says: Ar-Rahmaan ir-Raheem (The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful), Allah (mighty and sublime be He) says: My slave has extolled Me. and when he says: Maaliki yawm id-deen (The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection)), Allah says: My slave has glorified Me - and on one occasion He said: My slave has submitted to My power. And when he says: Iyyaaka na’budu wa iyyaaka nasta’een (You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything)), He says: This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall have what he is asking for. And when he says: Ihdina’s-siraata’l- mustaqeem, siraat alladzeena an’amta alaihim ghayril-maghdubi alayhim wa la’ d-dhalleen (Guide us to the Straight Way. The way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray), He says: This is for My servant, and My servant shall have what he has asked for.” [Narrated by Muslim]

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Friday, February 13, 2009

How To Make Wudu الوضوء :things to do before wudu that you might not have known and the sunnah for making wudu

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,

This post is about how to make wudu الوضوء. If you need to know what exactly wudu is, why it is necessary in Islam, what its benefits are, and when it is necessary please see this post THIS post concerns the sunnah (the prescribed and perfect) actions of making wudu, and highlights a few things that one should do before making wudu. We'll start off with those.

Use the toilet: before making wudu if one needs to use the toilet, they should since the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: "No prayer can be rightly said... when he [the worshipper] is prompted by the call of nature." (Sahih Muslim, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 #1139]) If you have used the toilet you need to make istanja and wash your hands before making wudu (***using the toilet is recommended and making istanja afterwards is obligatory or salat is not valid).
Remove anything from your body that might invalidate your wudu: before making wudu, if one is wearing nailpolish or fake nails, they must be removed, because the water will not touch the hand in its entirety so the wudu will be incomplete and any following salat will be invalid. Making wudu before applying nailpolish only means that your wudu is good until it is broken (see this post and you will have to remove your nailpolish and reapply it everytime you re-make your wudu. An average wudu for myself is four hours. Trust me, it's not worth your time and effort [and I am a nailpolish fiend]. Don't worry though, wearing nailpolish is permitted when it's that time of the month (i.e a girl's got her period) since no prayer is due on her during this time and she doesn't have to worry about keeping her wudu on. ***Fake nails are disliked at all times, and in many opinions harraam (this will be discussed at a later date and a link will be added here). Hair extensions, wigs, fake eyelashes, and eyelash extensions fall under the same category as fake nails. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows best, and it is the majorirty opinion that is is safer to refrain from using any of the previous mentioned.*** This also means removing rings or any jewelry that are so tight to the skin that water cannot reach it.Clean your teeth/use a siwaak stick: before making wudu it is mustahaab (recommended) that you clean your teeth. Yes, in the days when washing the human body was thought to make it unhealthy in many places in the world the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam recommended good oral hygene. He used a tooth-stick to clean his teeth through-out the day, and especially for salat. Think about it, you always want to use gum or mints before a job interview to make sure you don't have bad breath in order to make a good impression. Who deserves to be more impressed? A mortal man/woman or Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala? Ironically many will spend money for Arab make-up and kohl and henna before investing in siwaak sticks, even though the use of them was almost made obligatory before prayer: Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my ummah, I would have commanded them to use the siwaak at every time of prayer.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2/299 and Muslim, 1/151). According to another report narrated by al-Bukhaari, he said: “…at every time of making wudoo’.” When making your first Islamic purchases of things you cannot obtain where you live (inshaAllah siwaak sticks are readily available to you) such as prayer clothes and hijab try and obtain siwaak sticks. Available from for .99 cents USD. If you do not have access to siwaak sticks where you live, the intention is very simple and good for you---brush your teeth.
HOW TO MAKE WUDU---The Physical Requirements/Actions for making wudu
I personally find it hard to learn from diagrams like this one so here are couple of how-to videos and then the written step by step instructions.:

1.) Make Niyaat (intention) to preform wudu
When you go to the place to make wudu (any place with clean water) [a post will be given later on how a Muslimah may make a public wudu and the link to it will be inserted here---for now this post is about the basics and we will assume our muslimah has a private place like a woman's washroom to make wudu in] you should make the intention to preform wudu. The intention should be silent and it has no strict wording. An example of such an intention would be "I am now going to purify myself for salat and do so in the name of Allah."
2.) Say "Bismillah" silently to yourself
Out of respect for Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala the name of God is not mentioned in a bathroom/washroom. After this is done, it is remmended strongly to not engage in any other purpose but making wudu especially if one is offering salat immediately after. "Bismillah" means "in the name of Allah"
3.) Rinse your mouth by drawing water from your cupped right hand. This is done three times.
4.) Rinse the nostrils of your nose by drawing water from your cupped right hand and using your left hand to pinch the nose and wipe it when expelling the water from the nasal passage. This is done three times.
5.) Wash your face from the hairline to the chin and ear to ear (both hands used). This is done three times.
6.) Wash your arms---Starting with your right arm wash with your left hand from the finger-tip to the elbow of that right arm. This is done three times. Then, starting with your left arm wash from the finger-tip to the elbow with the right hand. This is also done three times.
7.) Wipe your wet hands over your hair starting at the hairline moving to the back of the head then (with the hands remaining through the hair) bring the hands in the hair back to the hairline and as you do so, wipe the back and the inside of the ears with the forefinger and the thumb.
8.) Wash both feet---starting with the right foot clean from the tips of the toes to the ankle. Be especially careful to get the heels because Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw a man who did not wash his heel. Thereupon he remarked: Woe to those who will be dragged by their heels to the Hell-Fire. (Sahih Muslim 356). This is done three times, and then a finger is used to clean between the toes (this is done only once per foot). Then do likewise with the left foot.
10.) Repeat the shahada in sincerity and respect---To finish the wudu one must repeat their shahada by saying "There is no God but God and Mohammed is His servant and His Messenger". If you remain in the bathroom/washroom you may say this silently in your head or you can leave that space and say aloud: "ash-hadu alla ilaha ill-allah wahdahu la shareeka lahu wa ash-hadu anna sayyidana muhammadan `abduhu wa rasooluh" and it is recommended that you recite this three times because Umar Ibn Al-Khattab narrates: "If anyone amongst you performs the ablution and completes it well and then says, "I testify there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed is the servant of Allah and His Messenger", then the eight gates of Paradise will be open to him and he may enter from whichever one of them he chooses." (Sahih Muslim, [Eng. Trans. Vol. 1 #451])
*11.) Optional recitation of a sunnah dua. You may skip this step right now in order to learn how to pray as quickly as possible but it is recommended to recite this du'a after making wudu: "O Allah, count me among one of those who seek forgiveness and who keep themselves pure!"
We get the steps for wudu from the sunnah of the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam: narration by Imam Muslim on the authority of Humran (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: "'Uthnan Ibn 'Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) called for ablution water and this is how he performed ablution He washed his hands thrice. He then rinsed his mouth and cleansed his nose with water [three times]. He then washed his face three times;then washed his right arm up to the elbow three times, then washed his left like that, then wiped his head; then washed his right foot up to the ankle three times, then washed his left foot like that, and then said: I saw the Messenger of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala said: "He who performs ablution like this ablution of mine and then stood up [for prayer] and offered two rak'ahs of prayer without allowing his thoughts to be distracted, all his previous sins are expiated." (Sahih Muslim, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 #436]).
If you are not certain whether of not you have made wudu, err on the side of not making it again, because there is an authentic hadith that says (this is the only thing missing in this post---I will post it ASAP or maybe Aalia can add it in)
More reading:

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Istanja---what it is and how to make it

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,
Before you learn how to make wudu you should know to preform Istanja, and how to. So what is Istanja?

Istanja is an Islamic term for getting rid of uncleanliness. It is a method of cleaning one's self with water after using the toilet.

If you have grown up using toilet paper, think of how we clean a baby when changing its diaper. Do we merely use toilet paper on a baby? No, we usually use a wet wipe, because it is cleaner to have something "wet". Toilet paper on its own is only a wiping device, not a sanitary one whatsoever, so unfortunately, what adults intrinsically think of when caring for infants, is forgotten when caring for themselves or training their children.

In Islam, even cleaner than a wet wipe, we use a spray of water to clean ourselves after urination or after using a wiping device in the case of defacation. If you have not performed Istanja after using the toilet before making wudu, your wudu is not valid, and so your salat will be invalid. It is also a sin and there is punishment from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala for neglecting it as is related in this sahih hadith (may Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala protect us from such things, ameen) :

Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with him) narrates: " The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) once passed by two graves and said: "They (in the grave) are being punished not for a great thing to avoid" Then he added: "Yes, (they are being punished for a great sin), for one of them used to go about with calumnies while the other never saved himself from the splashes of urine"

But who would want to keep on using toilet paper now that they have learnt the benefit of performing istanja with water?!!!

After urinating dry the urine with a clean piece of mud (for those in a country without toilet paper) or toilet paper and then wash with water.

HOW TO DO ISTANJA WITH #2 (you know):
Clean the private part with three or five clean mud pieces (hey, that's how they did it historically) or toilet paper and then wash with water.

After using the toilet for number 1 or 2.

The left hand should be used for all acts of wiping in rinsing during istanja. It is a sin to use the right (which has to do with eating and taking meals, which is a subject that will be broached at a later date). In Islam know, that for every good thing the right hand is used, and everything else the left if used.

By what things Istanja should be done? By toilet paper, clean mud pieces or stones, and finished ALWAYS with water. By what things should it not be done? With bones, or food, coal, or writing paper (i.e useful things should not be ruined for the sake of a wiping device).

Helpful notes for people not living in a Islamic country with Islamic toilets with spray devices like the one pictured below or bidets: carry a water bottle (that you won't use for drinking or let anyone else drink!!!!!!) or a small container of water with you in your purse when you go out prep for public washrooms and the like, and at home, keep a watering can (some of my Muslim sisters I have visited use these) or, as I prefer, a water spray bottle (the kind you use for your hair) from the dollar store and keep it beside the toilet. If you can, get a shower spray installed for yourself.

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الوضوء Wudu (Purification for Prayer): why it is necessary, what are its benefits, and when it is necessary

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,

الوضوء Wudu (partial ablution) is the minor purification ritual necessary before worship of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala . A state of wudu is required before touching the Qu'ran in its original Arabic script, and before salat. It is the Islamic act of washing specific parts of the body in a specific way using water.

***Ghusl is complete ablution and may substitute for wudu but wudu may never substitute for ghusl [with the exception of cases where water is not available or washing may injure a person due to a medical condition--- then tayammum may be substituted for wudu or ghusl and we will go into the topic of tayammum and other mercies of Allah S.W.T after the basics of prayer have been explained.]***

Now back to the evidence that makes wudu fard (obligatory) before any salat:

The Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: "The Prayer of none amongst you would be accepted in a state of impurity till he performs ablution." (Sahih Muslim, [Eng. Trans. Vol. 1. hadith #435])

The Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said : "The key to paradise is salah, and the key to as-salah is wudu" (Tirmidhi, Transmitted Ahmad, Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah )

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala ordered salat in the holy Qu'ran:

O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salah [the prayer] wash your faces and your hands [forearms] up to the elbows... and your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles(5:6)

Quite clearly, unless, one performs all the necessary purification, their salat will not be accepted, and if one knowingly forgoes the necessary wudu or ghusl but offers their prayers anyways, their prayers will be invalid, and it will be the same as if they deliberately skipped the prayer, and intentionally missing a fard prayer is a sin, and very close to shirk.


The benefit of performing the necessary wdu or ghusl is (most important) that your salat will be valid and thus become reward,

For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. (Qu'ran 2:222)

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "If good characteristics exist in a person, Allah makes all of his acts good. If a person purifies himself for prayer, he expiates all of his sins and his prayer is considered an extra reward for him." (Related by Abu Ya'la, al-Bazzar and at-Tabarani in al-Ausat.)

and (two) that what parts of your body you wash with the intention to make them pure when praying to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala will be made to be light on the day judgement so you will be recognized as a believer, inshaAllah, for the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said as he passed by the graves of the Muslims with some of the companions: "Peace be upon you, O home of believing people. Allah willing, we shall meet you soon, although I wish I could see my brothers." They asked, "Are we not your brothers, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "You are my companions. My brothers are the ones who will come after (us)." They said, "How will you know the people of our nation who will come after you, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "If a man has a group of horses with white forelocks amidst a group of horses with black forelocks, will he recognize his horses?" They said, "Certainly, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "They (my brothers) will come with white streaks from their ablutions (wudu), and I will receive them at my cistern." (Related by Muslim.)


Wudu is required before salat (evidence for that statement previously given) or before touching the Qu'ran because the Qu'ran states that it is such that

Which none shall touch but those who are clean (56:77-79)

(a post about proper handling for the Qu'ran will be given before the learning to read in Arabic section of this blog, inshaAllah). Back to what neccitates wudu...

GHUSL (full ablution) is REQUIRED when: one first makes their shahada, after sexual intercourse, when any vaginal or seminal fluid is discharged, after menstration [no fard prayers are due on a woman during her menstration as a mercy from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala], after having a baby, or after intense bleeding (insha'Allah this will not be the case for you!), and death before burial. It is recommended also, before Jum'a (friday prayer at the Mosque) [a separate post from this prayer section will be given for ettiquette pertaining to the Mosque and prayer in congregation].

WUDU (partial ablution) is REQUIRED when: one has used the toilet [instanja must be preformed then in addition to wudu and we will explain instanja shortly in the following post], after passing gas (farting), after sleep, after vomiting, after fainting (and loss of the senses), and in some opinions after laughing aloud during a prayer. It should also be made by a Muslimah if she has touched her own sexual organ but there was no discharge of bodily fluids [i.e the action was not sexual], or if she becomes angry because the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said: "Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution." (Dawud, Narrated Atiyyah as-Sa'di)


The answer is yes. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Allah does not accept the prayer of one who nullified his ablution until he performs it again." (Related by al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmizhi EVIDENCE FROM THE QU'RAN AND AHADITH about when Ghusl and Wudu is required for those who would prefer to read furth or have some future reference:
O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salât (the prayer), wash your faces and your hands (forearms) up to the elbows, rub (by passing wet hands over) your heads, and (wash) your feet up to ankles. If you are in a state of Janâba (i.e. had a sexual discharge), purify yourself (bathe your whole body). But if you are ill or on a journey or any of you comes from answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse) and you find no water, then perform Tayammum with clean earth and rub therewith your faces and hands. Allâh does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify you, and to complete His Favour on you that you may be thankful. [The Noble Qur'an 5:6]

Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Allah does not accept the prayer of a person who has released gas until he makes a new ablution." A person from Hadhramaut asked Abu Hurairah, "What does releasing gas mean?" He answered, "Wind with or without sound." [Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.]

Busrah bint Safwan narrated that the Prophet said, "Whoever touches his sexual organ cannot pray until he performs ablution." [This hadith is related by "the five." At-Tirmidhi classified it as sahih and al-Bukhari called it the most authentic report on that topic. Malik, ash-Shaifi, Ahmad and others also narrated it.]

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

صلوة: The Five Obligatory Prayers---and their times

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم

In a previous post the importance and benefit of salat صلوة were touched upon. There are many different kinds of prayer in Islam, as there is a prayer for every aspect of daily life, as one strives to remember Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala in all things (because Islam is a complete guide for mankind). You are a baby muslimah so for now we'll stick to what you have to know first, the second pillar of Islam----upholding the five daily prayers.

The first key to learning HOW to pray is knowing WHEN to.

Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala informs us in His Book: Verily, As-Salah [the prayer] is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours. (4:103)

Prayer is performed five times a day: at dawn (this prayer is called fajr), at noon (this prayer is call dhuhr), in the afternoon (this prayer is called asr), at sunset (this prayer is called maghrib) and at nightfall (this prayer is called isha'a). The five prayers are fard (obligatory) for all Muslims once they have reached puberty---to neglect them is to sin and to abandon them is to commit shirk.

We know the times for the prayers because the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said in authentic ahadith: "The time for the morning prayer [lasts] as long as the first visible part of the sun does not appear, and the time of the noon prayer is when the sun declines from its zenith and there is not a time for the afternoon prayer and the time for the afternoon prayer is so long as the sun does not become pale and its first visible part does not set and the time for the evening prayer is that when the sun disappears and the time for the night prayer is to the middle of the night." (Sahih Muslim, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 #1276])

If you are lucky enough to live in a country where Islam is a major religion you will hear the prayer announced, but if you do not, here is a link for a website that will help you search the prayer times for your local area. Just search your country, then your city, and you will be able to have a timetable for all the prayer times for the month that we are in. I repeat: the first key to learning HOW to pray is knowing WHEN to.

Prayers cannot be made early [before their prescribed times] or delayed past their times. This is known to us because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala wrote in the beloved gift of the holy Qu'ran:

So woe unto those performers of salah [i.e hypocrites] who delay their salah from their fixed times (107:4-5)

Now that you know the prayer times for where you are in this world, set about thinking of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala within those times, and if you know nothing else yet, repeat the words of your shahada: "Ashadu an la illah ill Allah, wa ashadu anna Muhammadar rasoolullah." within these times. Make the intention to learn more, and ask Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to make learning easy for you.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is a Sunan/Sunnah سنة?

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم ,

Sunan, or Sunnah سنة, is an arabic word that literally means “trodden path”. In Islam it is used to describe the actions and the guidance (i.e religious achievements and manners) of the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam. As the word سنة means "trodden path", the sunnah of the prophet means “the way and the manners of the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam” .

In this blog we are going to attempt to present evidence from the Qu'ran and sunnah to explain why a Muslimah must do things a certain way and what makes something halal or harram, but at this early stage in your Islamic studies, we are going to keep everything very basic and simple and just assure you that the actions presented here for prayer and the like, are from the authentic sunnah (obtained through consensus of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam and respected scholars). Later on, inshaAllah, we hope to provide you with enough understanding in your aqueedah and other Islamic matters that you will have the means to measure the evidence (daleel) provided by others with an understanding of the sunnah so as to be able to come to your own conclusions and protect yourselves from the innovations (bid'as), sin (harram), and shirk others have infused into the beautiful and perfect religion of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala (Islam) .

May Allah, the Almighty, the Exalted, have mercy on us and protect all that read this from any flaw contained herein. Guide us to the straight path اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ ! May He accept this humble effort for His sake Alone إِيَّاك نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِين, and make this blog a benefit to all who read it. Ameen.

اهدِنَــــا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Convert Tales: How NOT to Pray

Aalia: People tried to teach me alot of bidas (actions the Prophet saw never did) like puting my arms in the wrong spots, and making dua in congregation at the Masjid, and even tried to fool me with sufi spinning. Uh.... Yeah, I don't think so. I'm no fool. It didn't feel right, and it wasn't.

Pixie: I didn't know how to pray or that Muslims prayed different so I just prayed Catholic-style, hands folded and kneeling at the foot of my bed, reciting all the translation of the Qu'ran that I had memorised. I guess that's not so bad.... but it sure looked funny to any Muslims who saw me.

Fatimah: Yeah, I NEVER stepped outdoors in hijab, but I thought I had to wear niqab when I prayed. I also always wore gloves when I read the Qu'ran. No, I didn't have my period. Weird, I know.

Ange: I got told so many different things. One person was shia so they taught me one way, so when I prayed in the masjid for the first time I was doing things completely different to the other girls. I corrected it. Then for ages when I was praying I wouldn't do sujood in my first rakat, but did it in my second. My friend Ayesha finally pulled me aside... stopped me mid-prayer and told me "forget everything you know because you are too confused.. Let's pretend you have never prayed before and let's start again." She taught me right from the beginning and walked me through the whole thing from the start.

Uh, I didn't know that one had to wear hijab for prayer [after reaching maturity, i.e menstration] so I used to pray... naked.

Pindsay: I used to rap surah Al-fatiha and I used to say "listerine" instead of "siratal al mustiquim"

Pixie: When Aalia and Asma finally DID teach me how to pray when learning to make wudu I didn't merely wipe my hair over with water. I DROWNED myself.

S: I am not a convert so my parents taught me how to pray. I would always forget to come up from sajood (kneeling) and would be so mad at everybody for not telling me.

Ange: A funny thing for me was my first prayer mat had the prayer actually written on it. So to learn the words (to Al Fatiha) I would have to keep moving around on my prayer mat to see the next sentence. I would be half way through sujood and half to scoot back to read what I was meant to recite. That's how I learnt to say my prayers... by playing twister on my prayer rug.

Pixie: When I heard it was good to recite a surah after reading al fatiha in the first two rakat I started memorising Surah Al Bakara... It took FOREVER!!!!!!!!!! I was like, I AM NEVER GOING TO LEARN THIS OR DO THIS. These people are nuts!


Salat---The Importance and Benefit of Prayer

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم

Salat is the Islamic word for prayer. It is the second pillar of Islam, and of the most importance next to Tauhid. It is the first thing a new Muslim learn and do after making their shahada, as it is the acknowledgment and practice of worshipping none but Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. From the Qu'ran:

I am Allah. There is no god but Me, so worship Me and establish salat to remember Me. (Surah Ta Ha:14)

Scholars and Muslims know it is the first thing new Muslims must learn because Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala Himself instructed the Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam to help people first accept Islam (the belief in, and worship of One God), and then to inform them that they must pray five times a day.

"You [Mohammed] are going to a people from the People of the Book. Let the first thing that you call them to be the worship of Allah. If they acknowledge Allah, then inform them that Allah has obligated upon them five prayers during their days and nights." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]

The Qu'ran says that if one does not pray, one risks not being recognized as a Muslim by Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala:

"... Say: 'What has My Lord to do with you if you do not call on Him?'" (Surat al-Furqan: 77)

You have just learnt that the worst of all haraam (forbidden) acts in Islam is shirk (associating partners with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala) and kufr (disbelief). The Prophet Mohammed salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam likened purposely disregarding the five wajib/fard (obligatory) prayers with shirk:

"Between a man a Shirk is abandonment of salat." (Sahih Muslim [Eng. Trans. vol.1 #147])

As a brand new baby muslimah your intention to learn how to pray and to perfect your prayer inshaAllah will be accepted by Allah. The benefit of salat is to protect one's self from evil, as Allah subhanahu wa ta'alawa informs us in the Qu'ran:

...establish salat. Salat precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do. (Surat al-'Ankabut:45)

and his Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam explains in this hadith:

"'If there was a river at the door of any one of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him? They said. 'not a trace of dirt would be left'. The Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam said, 'This is the example of the five prayers which Allah blots out [annuls] evil deeds.'"

So enough said. Time to learn how to pray!!!!!!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

How to avoid Shirk شرك‎---with Tauhid

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم

Shirk شرك‎ is pretty much the worst thing you can do in Islam. So what is shirk? [Collaboration of Aalia's duatang, Wikipedia, The Concise Collection on Creed & Tauhid from Darussalam, and my bad editing]

Imam Ash-Shafi`i said, "That a servant meets Allaah with every sin except Shirk is better say than meeting Him upon any of the innovated beliefs."

WHAT IS SHIRK? Skirk شرك‎ is essentially belief in more than one God, or associating partners with Allah (subhanahu aa ta'ala) by attributing the powers of Allah (subhanahu aa ta'ala) to anything of His creation be it person, angel, place, or thing.


Shirk in Rubūbīyah (Lordship)--- This category of Shirk refers to either the belief that others share God's Lordship over creation as His equal or near equal, or to the belief that there exists no Lord over creation at all.

Shirk in al-Asma was-Sifat (the names and attributes of Allah)---Shirk in this category includes both the common pagan practice of giving God the attributes of His creation as well as the act of giving created beings God's names and attributes.

Shirk In al-'Ibadah (Worship)---In this category of Shirk, acts of worship are directed to other than Allah and the reward for worship or asked for aid is sought from the creation instead of the Creator.
[picture of shirk comitted by Ismai'li Shi'a giving worship to another before Allah S.W.T----astighfurallah, may they be guided to the straight path, ameen]


Ash-Shirk al-Akbar (Major Shirk) remove you from the fold of Islam. This form of Shirk occurs when any act of worship is directed to other than Allah. It represents the most obvious form of idolatry which the prophets were specifically sent by Allah to call the masses of mankind away from. Examples of this shirk include asking forgivness paradise and other things that only Allah can from other than Allah.

Beware also Ash-Shirk al-Asghar (Minor Shirk) [these you can be forgiven for but they lead to major shirkشرك‎]: Mahmud ibn Lubayd reported, "God's messenger said: "The thing I fear for you the most is ash-Shirk al-Asghar (minor shirk)." The companions asked "Oh! messenger of God, what is minor Shirk?" He replied "Ar-Riya (showing off), for verily God will say on the Day of Resurrection when people are receiving their rewards, 'Go to those for whom you were showing off in the material world and see if you can find any reward from them." Mahmud ibn Lubayd also said, "The Prophet came out and announced, 'O people, beware of secret Shirk!'
The people asked, 'O messenger of God, what is secret Shirk?' He replied, 'When a man gets up to pray and strives to beautify his prayer because people are looking at him; that is secret Shirk."
[for more examples of manifestations of shirk see this link]

HOLD UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Before you study anything else within the subject of your deen, Islam, you want to study first Tauhid (the idea of the Oneness of Allah (subhanahu aa ta'ala)) and know your Aqueedah (your faith in the form of practice of Tauhid) to protect yourself from the worst of all sins----shirk.

As soon as you tell people you are a Muslim they are going to start asking you what kind of Muslim you are: sunni, shi'a, sufi, Ahmadiyya, Ismi'li, Wahabi... and you're gonna go, "didn't the Qu'ran tell us not to split ourselves into factions?" because all you know at this point (hopefully) is the Qu'ran. Then people are going to try and tell you their version of Islam and give their daleel (Islamic evidence) for why you have to do things certain ways. If you are not strong enough in your Aqueedah and the idea and precepts of Tauhid, there is NO point whatsoever of you getting into Shariah (Islamic law), Fiqh, or trying to make sense of different scholars opinions. The key to what is truly right and wrong in Islam is Tauhid---belief and dependence in/on One God, and understanding everything that can negate that belief. If you are strong in your Aqeedah, inshaAllah none but Allah can lead you astray.

One narration states, "You [Mohammed] are going to a people from the People of the Book. Let the first thing that you call them to be the worship of Allah. If they acknowledge Allah, then inform them that Allah has obligated upon them five prayers during their days and nights." [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]

This hadith is clear. It does not require much of an explanation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) applied this principle in his practical calling to Islam. He stayed in Makkah for thirteen years to teach the people iman in Tauhid and to educate his Companions on this point and to correct the beliefs of the people. That is the pattern upon which the Companions were brought up.

Jundub Ibn Abdullah al-Bajaly said, "We learned iman (faith) and then we learned the Quran and it increased our iman."

Abdullah ibn Umar said, "We lived during an instant of time in which one of us would receive faith first before receiving the Quran and when the surahs were revealed we would learn what they permitted and what they prohibited and what they forbade and what they ordered and what should be the stance towards them. But I have seen many men from whom one is given the Quran before iman and he reads it from the opening of the Book to its closing and he does not know what it orders and what it forbids and what should be his stance towards it. He is like someone who is just throwing out dates [i.e., he does not get any benefit from his recital]."

That is the manner in which the Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa-sallam) brought up his companions: Iman first and then the Quran. This is similar to what Imam Abu Hanifa pointed out: Understanding in the religion first (i.e. tauheed) and then understanding in the science (i.e. the shariah).

The beliefs must be corrected first (Tauhid in Aqueedah), then follows all of the other aspects of the religion....

For more about the importance of Aqueedah and referenced sources see this link

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Ghusl غسل (Complete Ablution): when it is necessary and how to perfect it

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمـَنِ الرَّحِيم

What is Ghusl: Ghusl غسل is an arabic term that refers to complete ablution (the ritual of washing one's self before prayer or other religious duties).

When do I have to preform Ghusl: Ghusl is fard (mandatory) immediately after or before taking one's shahada. It is also required after the completion of a woman's menstrual cycle, before prayer after sexual intercourse between a husband and his wife, any discharge of semen or sexual fluid, before prayer after giving birth, and death by natural causes (in this case another Muslim will be preforming Ghusl for you inshaAllah). It is also mustahaab (recommended) before the Jummah (Friday) and Eid prayers, before entering a state if ihram (preperation for religious pilgrimage/Hajj), and after having lost consciousness.

How do we know that Ghusl is required of us and what it entails: The Qu'ran requires Ghusl in the chapter called "The Women": O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged, until ye can understand all that ye say,- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity (Except when travelling on the road), until after washing your whole body. If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For Allah doth blot out sins and forgive again and again... (4:43 An-Nisa).

What do I need to preform Ghusl: You need one of the following; rain water, well water, spring, sea or river water, water of melting snow or hail, pond water, and I myself, city girl that I am, often use bottled water (make sure to leave off on the flavoured or you will be sticky---JJKN). Basically---you need clean water, nothing too complicated. Don't use unclean or impure water, water extracted from fruit and trees, water that has changed its colour, taste and smell and becomes thick because something was soaked in it, small quantity of water in which something unclean has fallen, eg. urine, blood, stool or wine or some animal had died after falling into it , used water from previous ghusl or wudu, water left over by drinking by haraam animals suchs as pigs, dogs, or animals of prey, and water left by a person who has just drunk wine is unclean. Tap water is what most people use these days. The answer to this question is CLEAN WATER. An exception is made for places where no water is available, where sand may be used. This is something you will study later. For now, we'll keep you moving forward, mastering the basics of prayer.

Method: Because Ghusl is a prelude to prayer or another significant religious duty niyaah (an intention) must be made before starting the act of purification. The intention/niyaah of the act of ghusl is to do so to please Allah and to make you prayers acceptable to Allah (He loves that you be clean and pure in both body and soul) so in your heart [saying in your head---not aloud] you say: "Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem." (which means "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful"). Niyaah is not said aloud in the case of ghusl, nor is the name of Allah to be spoken aloud in a bathroom or place of toilet (this is respect for Allah).

1.) Start by making niyyah silently "Bismillahir Rahamnir Raheem" with the intention to preform ghusl and cleanse yourself of impuritues.

2.) Wash the right hand up to and including the wrist (and between the fingers) three times, and then do the same with the left hand.

3.) Wash the private parts and remove dirt or filth from the body.

4.) Rinse hands and then rinse the mouth three times.

5.) Rinse the nostrils three times using the right hand to bring water to the nose, and the left to expell it or rub it away.

6.) If not in a bath tub but sitting on a seat while bathing then the feet should also be washed, starting with the right, three times, and between the toes, and ending with the left.

7.) Water should be poured over the head three times so that it flows all over the body.
Pour water over both the shoulders three times each. Hands should be passed all over the body when water is poured so that no part of the body is left dry.

One of the wives of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) [Aisha bint Abu Bakr] narrates:

When Allah's Messenger bathed because of sexual intercourse, he first washed his hands; he then poured water with his right hand on his left hand and washed his private parts. He then performed wudu as is done for prayer. He then took some water and ran his fingers in the roots of his hair. And when he found that it had been properly moistened, he poured three handfuls on his head and then poured water over his body and subsequently washed his feet.

(which is subsequently where our method is derived from).

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