ADHAAN Q5:58

I love hearing the adhaan…but only in melodious tones, I must admit. I am often slightly peeved when I hear an off-key call to prayer but hastily remind myself that the muadhin (caller to prayer) is fulfilling one of the most important duties in the mosque. By virtue of calling the adhaan, he also calls the iqamah which is a shorter adhaan recited just before the prayer itself.

I often find myself humming to the adhaan or reciting along with the muadhin if I am familiar with the melody. Imagine how people would stop in their tracks if a woman’s voice was heard from the minaret speakers! 😀
adhaan in english muadhin
The adhaan is like the theme song of the life of a Muslim, first heard (by a born-Muslim) by its recitation into his/her newborn ears. Ideally, during the call to prayer five times a day, Muslims are required to be silent and repeat after the caller except where he says, ‘Hayya ala Salah’ and ‘Hayya alal falah’ (meaning ‘Hurry to prayer’ and ‘hurry to success’ respectively). La hawla wa la quwatta ila billah is the response here.

It is not to be made if you are praying alone. The iqamah alone is enough if you are praying on your own.

After the adhaan:

Narrated by Jabir Ibn Abdullah, who reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW)said:
‘Whoever says when he hears the Call of Prayer, “Allahummah Robba haadhihi’l-da’watil-taam-mah wa’l-salaatil qaa’imah, aati Muhammadan Al-waseelata wa’l-fadeelah, wab’ath-hu maqaaman mahmoodah alladhi wa’ad-tahu. (O Allah, Lord of this perfect call and prayer to be offered, grant Muhammad the privilege and also the eminence, and resurrect him to the praised position that You have promised), will be granted my intercession on the Day of Resurrection.” – Sahih al-Bukhari Book 65, Hadith 4719

I must admit that I do take the adhaan for granted because I always hear it wherever I live. I cannot imagine a silent dawn! It must feel very lonely to be in a town where no adhaan is heard. May Allah strengthen the bonds of brotherhood among Muslims in such places.

The freed Abyssinian slave, Bilal ibn Rabah (RA) was the first muaddhin while Ibn Umm Maktoum (who was blind) was his ‘deputy’ in calling the adhaan.

It is sunnah for two rakats to be made between the adhaan and the iqamah for Fajr.

Anas bin Malik narrated that :
Allah’s Messenger said: ‘The supplication made between the Adhaan and Iqamah is not rejected.’ – Jami’at-Tirmidhi Book 2, Hadith 64

The janazah prayer made on the deceased is devoid of adhaan and iqamah. It is believed that they were recited at birth. In essence, our lives occur between that tiny spate of time between the adhaan/iqamah and the prayer itself…

MIRAGE Q29.37-9

Photograph: Pete Turner/Getty Images

Photograph: Pete Turner/Getty Images


How fake we all are; resorting to religion only when it is socially acceptable.

We only remember to say Alhamdulillah when we are in Muslim gatherings, we observe salaah only when we have an audience, our Blackberry display pictures and Twitter avi have Islamic themes only on Islamic holidays or when we are trying to impress someone. Our Facebook statuses quickly announce to the world the minute we check into Islamic Centres and events, while our Instagram account buzzes with pious pictures which are far from who we really are. We are quick to re-broadcast messages and emails that say if you don’t pass it on then you don’t really love Allah, or the Prophet(SAW). Our cars are filled with paraphernalia with Arabic which we can neither translate nor speak.

Once the topic is about the size of hijab, the length of beard or trouser, and marriage (especially polygyny), we all get in a fevered frenzy trying to out-fatwa each other. The Arabic words that roll off our tongues were carefully articulated before a mirror to sound as authentic as possible and we drop them frequently and unnecessarily.

We scrub our foreheads with stones or insist on smacking the bare ground with our foreheads to acquire the tell-tale mark of prayer. Others will refuse to wipe the grains of sand off their faces and indeed would discourage others from doing so too. We play up our religiousness in front of honest folk and cheat them after they trust us. In politics, trade and daily activities.

What separates us from those who disbelieve? We have forgotten what it means to be Muslim and instead focus on being perceived as religious.

We are more concerned about portraying the right image than we are about truly connecting with Allah. If we focus on Allah instead, others will see the message clearer in us than when we continue to put up a facade and act a charade.

So, what does it mean to truly be Muslim, submitting to the will of Allah? Amongst other things, it is obeying His commands and avoiding what He has prohibited; forbidding evil and enjoining good, to avoid judging others, inviting to Islam in the best manners possible and doing all these strictly for Allah’s sake.

May Allah save us from ourselves and help us collapse the facade behind which we hide and improve ourselves for His Sake. May our deeds never become like a mirage in the desert.

JAHANNAM Q3.88, Q44.43-6, Q45.9

There is this joke I want to share with you; and with good reason.

Angels: Almighty Father, we are tired of these Nigerians in Heaven!
God: What have they done this time?
Angel: Everything! They do not listen to instructions! They don’t obey traffic rules and don’t wait their turn. They are reckless! In fact, they have turned heaven upside down since we started admitting them in.
God: Please, bear with them. They are very special to Me. Let Me call Satan in Hell to see how he is doing…Hello, Lucifer. How are things over there?
Satan: Baba God, please call me later. There is an issue I am trying to resolve!
10mins later
God: Hello, Lucifer…
Satan: I’ll call You back; the issue has turned to a crisis!
1 hour later
Satan: Sorry, God!
God: Are you having problems over there?
Satan: It is these Nigerians I have with me in Hell. They…they have quenched the fire in Hell and installed air conditioners!

One may chuckle or be tempted to. It is quite funny and pokes fun at how troublesome but resourceful we Nigerians can be. However, such issues shouldn’t be trivialised. I love jokes like any other person but we should be cautious when we fool around so we do not fall into error.

In contrast to the joke, the verses on Jahannam are truly terrifying. Do look them up.

image credit: jackidelecki.com

image credit: jackidelecki.com


To make matters worse, thirst is quenched with hot scalding oil, boiling water and dirty wound discharges in a place of inexorable heat, where the suffering is unrelenting and persistent.

And to read the tone of Allah’s Voice in these verses; so angry, so scary!

May Allah protect us from His Wrath. May we never get to spend a single second in such a vile fiery place!

ISTIKHARAH

At certain points in our lives, we arrive at a crossroads. It could be deciding to leave a job or choosing between two; whether or not to travel somewhere, buy something, choosing who to marry…it could be major, it could be minor.

When these situations arise, we often seek the counsel of those we know or experts in the field. However, after this, we should seek guidance from He Who matters the most. What we request is that Allah should have our backs, whatever decision we make.

This is not advocating indecisiveness; it is saying that after weighing our options, discussing with those with experience in that field or those dear to us, we should make our decision then trust Him to embark on the journey with you by making istikharah.

image credit: facetofaceafrica.com

image credit: facetofaceafrica.com


There is nothing spectacular about it. You do not need anyone to make it on your behalf. You do not need a special rug. Simply make your ablution and follow it with 2 rakats of prayer after which you recite the du’a. Afterwards? Well, you shouldn’t expect to see flying unicorns, that’s for sure. Allah will not (or is highly unlikely to) take our hands and lead us to ‘the chosen option.’ We will just have to proceed on our journey knowing He has endorsed our decision and is close by in case things go wrong.

Aisha (R.A.) said it can be repeated as necessary.

Allahumma innee astakhiruka bi ‘ilmik; wa astaqdiruka bi qudratik, wa as’aluka min fadhlika-l-adheem. Fa innaka taqdiru walaa aqdir, wa ta’alamu wa laa a’alam, wa anta ‘alaamul ghuyuub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’alamu anna haadhal amr, khayrun liy, fiy deeni wa ma’aashiy wa aqeebata amriy…


For the full Arabic text and translation, click HERE.
May Allah guide all our decisions.

HABITS Q3:139, Q39:53

‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit.’ -Aristotle

As a high-school student, if I was late to school on Monday, I believed I was going to be late everyday of that week because my mum had said so. Some of you may be familiar with that saying: What you begin your week with, you will end it with.

So in High School, I was such a believer of that saying and would jump through hoops to ensure I wasn’t late. It did not take me long to figure out it was a superstition, but in it still lies a thread of truth.

Some say it takes at least 21 days to develop a habit, so if we persist with a simple pattern of behaviour, it could become automatic in 3 weeks. However, in life we know this could take even longer if not forever. Once a habit is established, it takes Allah’s Grace to break it. Take a look at the drug, alcohol, cigarette, sex addicts.

Little drops of water make an ocean.

Instead of succumbing to bad habits, we should subscribe to healthy habits and good deeds. Allah loves a small deed done consistently. We shouldn’t limit giving alms to only Eid days but we should regularly give some change to that beggar sitting outside the fast-food restaurant we often have lunch; we should strive to pray sunnah rakats before or after salaah; praying in the masjid daily (for men) etc.

Whatever is good that we perform consistently will weigh heavily on our scale while the negative habits we consistently avoid will cause, in sha Allah, a precipitous drop in our bad deeds’ scale.


Let’s kick it up some notches:
1. Define our goals: our goals should be SMARTER. Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, Time-bound, Evaluated, Reviewed.

2. Punish yourself and reward yourself accordingly. If you resolve to perform a certain good deed, or avoid a certain behaviour but shirk your duty, instead of despairing of your weak nafs, turn it around for better. Rent to Allah then punish yourself by getting closer to Allah. Here’s an instance, if you decided to pray 2 nafl before Fajr and you defaulted, pay a fine of a certain significant amount as sadaqah. If you made a decision to stop lying but failed today, make a pact to fast tomorrow. And if you do achieve your goals, rewards yourself appropriately. This way, you win both ways.

May Allah strengthen our resolve.

#remindertoself

SEEKING THE QIBLA Q2.144

I have a lousy sense of direction, and that is putting it mildly. My parents relocated to another house while I was in the University and to date, I cannot find my way to the house on my own. Yeah, it’s that bad. But I know there has got to be people worse than me.

I haven’t held a compass before so I don’t think I will understand how to use it to find the Qibla. When I get to strange places, I often ask around and fortunately get someone to point me in the right direction. When they can’t, I try to calculate the general direction of the Ka’aba and face that direction. Allah knows best!
hajj-pilgrimage
The Qibla was formerly in the direction of the masjid at Jerusalem before it was changed to the Masjid-l-Haram in the second year of Hijra (624AD) and since then, it is incumbent on us to seek and face it for our daily prayers.

Being that it is a duty on us to try to seek the Qibla since it is one of the prerequisite for salat, I have observed and read up on some stuff lately which may help the geographically challenged like me.

1. In Nigeria, and West Africa in general, we should face the North-North East but that is useful only when you know where the North is. The Sun rises from the East and sets in the West. With the right hand pointing to the East and the left pointing to the West, we face North. Surely, you can deduce the NE from there. It is between the North and the North East. At least, that’s the general direction of the Masjid-l-Haraam. If you know how to use a compass, good luck.

2. In urban areas, the ubiquitous DSTV satellite dish points toward the general direction of the Qibla. It’s not accurate but at
least, it gives me an idea.

3. Technology via the use of various apps. I haven’t tried any but maybe you can recommend those which have worked for you in the comment section.
Any other tips?

May Allah guide us to what is right and help us to worship Him in the best of ways

DO AS I DO Q2.44

My biggest challenge as a parent is setting the right example for my children. Getting up for ablution once the adhaan (call to prayer) is made so they can link the adhaan with prayer; meticulously performing wudhu so they learn not to rush through the motions; garbing up properly so they understand they should also cover their awrah; then calmly performing salaah and refusing to be distracted by them.
do as i do
But that’s not all. I have to watch what I eat, how I eat it, start with Bismillah and end with Alhamdulillah even if I didn’t use to; reduce my attention to the media, phones, gadgets and increase eye contact; keeping my word; courtesy and manners; hygiene; being active physically and mentally; conversing in my native dialect more frequently; what I watch on TV and listen to on the car radio or play on the CD; adhkaar, adhkaar and more adhkaar

“What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Phew! All these little acts go a long way in moulding them even before I am aware. The more consistently they see these acts (and consistency is difficult unless it is already a habit), the easier it is for them to assimilate like the sponges they are. Our children want to be just like us when they grow up (and they know better than to replicate us). We catch glimpses of ourselves in them when they walk, talk, laugh, sleep…

Who we are is a collage of subconscious habits and we often get shocked when we see our mini-me’s mimic our words, actions and mannerisms. And of course, they do not discriminate in what they learn; even though they even seem to have a greater inclination toward imbibing negative traits!

Do not make your child, nephew, niece or neighbour’s child blame you for the vices (s)he later develops in life simply from watching you as ‘He who guides to a good deed is like the doer.’ Just as you would receive good tidings for the good acts you guide them to later in life, so would you receive your share from the sins you inspired them to commit. You may also be punished for advising them to good while you do otherwise.

Most importantly, rather than dissuade them from being better Muslims, let us encourage them to be better because, who knows? They may be our reason for being admitted into Paradise.

BURNOUT Q5.54

We are all converts/reverts at a point in our lives. We may have had the good fortune of being born into practising Muslim families or the luck of being born into a liberal, relaxed Muslim home, either way, we reach a point in our lives when we ‘choose’ to follow the Path of Allah and His Rasul(SAW). If we haven’t attained such a stage yet, we should strive to become committed and practising Muslims.

When we choose to follow the rules of Islam (whether as reverts or secondary reverts), we are sometimes met with stiff opposition from our families who may not condone our new dressing or behaviour, or we could be met with derision at every step of the way by ‘more-knowledgeable sisters’ at the masjid or study circles. One thing is certain; Shaytan will be there to discourage our progress through people who will place stumbling blocks in our way.

These people will constrain us with their own verdicts and make the religion burdensome, they will expect our iman to reach peak levels in an instant; pray the 5 daily prayers and their accompanying nafl, witr and tahajjud everyday, and fast the whole of Ramadan, Mondays and Thursdays and the white days, commence the niqab, grow a beard, shorten our trousers, begin da’awah, and Islamic classes, memorise the Qur’an, learn Arabic all in an instant. How intimidating this itinerary is for a born Muslim not to talk of a revert!

These actions are laudable but whoever embarks on his journey this way will inevitably burnout and lose hope. Worst-case scenario is he leaves the religion, feeling it too extreme.
burnout
When the Prophet came with Islam, he did not begin to brand everything haram, he began gradually. Even Allah did not impose Islam that way. The commandment of hijab and jihad was in stages, banning alcoholism was likewise (Q2.219 abrogated by Q5.90).

While the pressures to be a better Muslim keep mounting, we should pace ourselves. We cannot go as fast as some others we know but we should have the intention to be better and take active steps toward it. Allah will reward the effort and our sincere intention. He sees all that is in our hearts. If we turn our backs on Islam, we will only have ourselves to blame. ‘Never fear the blame of the blamers.’

On the other hand, those of us who seek to ‘encourage’ the reverts and born Muslims should do so with manners, humility, empathy and care, like true believers. We should show them concern, listen to them and allay their fears. Allow them pick a pace and stick with it. Let us not overburden them or deride their efforts. I know sometimes, the pushing helps but we should reduce it to a nudge instead to prevent them from leaving the Path altogether.

Abdullah ibn Amr narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) was informed that I had said, ‘By Allah, I will fast all the days and pray all the nights as long as I shall live’….He said: You cannot do that so fast sometimes and do not fast sometimes. Pray and sleep. Fast for three days a month for the reward of a good deed is multiplied by 10 and so the fasting of 3days every month equals fasting the whole year. I said, ‘I can do more than that.’… Then he said: Fast on alternate days. And this was the fasting of David which is the most moderate sort of fasting. I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said: There is nothing better than that.- Sahih al-Bukhari 3418

According to another narration,

the Prophet said: Don’t do that. Observe fast for a few days then leave off for a few days. Perform prayers and sleep at night, as your body has a right upon you, and your eyes have a right upon you, and your wife has a right upon you and your visitors have a right upon you. – Riyadus Saliheen Book 1 Hadith 150

Eid-ul adha Q5.03, Q37.102-7

Eid mubarakum, beautiful people!


I miss the Eid of my childhood – don’t we all? It used to be a yearly gathering of our extended family, parents’ friends and a few of our friends too.

We would awake early in the morning, excited and euphoric; with the aroma of outdoor cooking wafting into our room. We would bathe hastily, put on our specially tailored wears for the Eid and go for the prayers (often forgetting to perform ablution from home, in our exhilaration). Gawking at all the beautiful clothing on various people, we would chat animatedly about how the day would be. My parents would give us some money to give in charity at the Eid ground. After the prayers, we would return home to lots of cooking in an aroma-filled house.

When the goat/ram/cow is slaughtered, we would report for duty as the errand boys and girls and rush to deliver chunks of raw meat to neighbours – both near and far. Why did we hurry to do this? We received money or goodies in return for a message well-delivered from the recipient!

Our house would be filled with joy, laughter, wood smoke, fried meat, food: amala and ewedu, jollof rice, rice with delicious stew and huge pieces of meat. At the end of the day, our feet would ache like mad, we would be exhausted and the house would be a mess…I miss those times!

It is now my turn to create memories for my family. I hope I’ll do a good job in sha Allah.

Anyway, it’s going to be a busy day so I will keep it short and bulleted. Here are some things to note:

Eid al-Adha (also Day of Nahr) extends from after Eid prayer to 3days after it and ends at sunset on the 13th of Dhul Hijjah
• No ram fights! The animal to be slaughtered should not be a sick, immature animal and should possess no defects; procured lawfully. Recite bismillah and use sharp knife. Read Q5:03

A’isha (R.A) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) commanded that a ram with black legs, black belly and black (circles) round the eyes should be brought to him, so that he should sacrifice it. He said to ‘A’isha: Give me the large knife, and then said: Sharpen it on a stone. She did that. He then took it (the knife) and then the ram; he placed it on the ground and then sacrificed it, saying: Bismillah, Allahumma taqabbal min Muhammad wa aali Muhammad, wa min Ummati Muhammad (In the name of Allah. O Allah, accept (this sacrifice) on behalf of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad and the Ummah of Muhammad). -Sahih Muslim 1967

• For Eid al-Adha, it is mustahabb (preferred) not to eat anything until one comes back from the prayer, so he should eat from the udhiyah if he has offered a sacrifice.
Ghusl: This should be done before going to the Eid prayer ground
• Dress up in your finest. Use of perfume for men
• Everyone should attend the Eid salaah, even menstruating women.
• Go one way, return the other

Abu Hurairah narrated:
“When Allah’s Messenger would go out on the day of Eid by one route, he would return by another.” Sahih hadith from Jami` at-Tirmidhi 541

image credit: http://i.huffpost.com

image credit: http://i.huffpost.com


Narrated Al-Bara’: The Prophet (SAW) went towards Al-Baqi (the graveyard at Medina) on the day of Eid al-Adha and offered a two-rakah prayer (of Eid) and then faced us and said: On this day of ours, our first act of worship is the offering of prayer and then we will return and slaughter the sacrifice; and whoever does this conforms with our Sunnah; and whoever slaughtered his sacrifice before that (i.e. before the prayer), then that was a thing which he prepared earlier for his family and it would not be considered as a nusuk (sacrifice).
A man stood up and said, ‘O, Messenger of Allah (SAW)! I slaughtered (the animal before the prayer) but I have a young she-goat which is better than an older sheep.’ The Prophet (SAW) said to him: Slaughter it but a similar sacrifice will not be sufficient for anybody else after you.’ -Sahih al-Bukhari 976

• Cut hair and nails after udhiya
• Enjoy the celebration with family and friends
• Most importantly, save a chunk of your udhiya for me!

So, share. What are your childhood memories of Eid al-Adha?

FRIENDSHIP Q2.254

This post is dedicated to my oldest friend. We’ve known each other for 2 decades now.

When we met, we had an altercation. I was new in the class and sat in her seat because she had not resumed. I was expected to make my desk and bring from home but I only realised that after I had commenced classes in my new secondary school. I thought it was like primary school where you came as you were and were assigned to a seat. So, while the carpenter made me a seat and desk, I took an empty seat (hers) and received my classes. Until the day we met.
empty classroom
I had heard she had returned but she received her lessons in her friends’ class so I was not bothered; besides, my seat wasn’t ready yet. She came into the class with some of her friends and ordered me to get up. I did not. I continued to copy my notes.

I cannot remember all the details clearly now but it quickly degenerated into she and her friends insulting me but I ignored them. We did not fight physically (not that I even knew how to) because we would be suspended from school. Eventually, they left (if my memory serves me correctly).

When I went to the bus park, I saw her and looked right through her. As far as I was concerned, she was just a spoilt rich kid who had friends simply because of her status. We rode on the same bus more times than I could count but studiously avoided each other. I would have rather gotten on another bus than to seat beside her!

Eventually, we became friends. I do not remember how it happened but I know she made the first step toward reconciliation and we became good friends since then. Decades later, we still joke about how it incensed her that I ignored her while she insulted me. What did we know then?

So, my dear sweetheart, I am glad to have you as a friend. I wish you the very best in life, way more than you can even conceive. May Allah continue to bless and strengthen you and your beautiful family. May we continue to be friends even beyond the day when there will be no friendships or intercession.

Love you, dear! 🙂

Do you have any old friends? How did you meet?