Archive for the ‘Celebrations and Memorials’ Category

Celebrating Israa’ and Mi`raaj

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Got a simple question for you. I was reading that many Muslims are going to celebrate the Isra and Miraj of the Prophet, swas, today. I was unaware of the celebration until yesterday. What is your take. I know I have missed the boat on several things in life, but what is going on. It appears there are masjids in the US that will have special prayers. I kinda feel as I am Rip Van Winkle. When did this start?

Happy Israa’ and Mi`raaj to you. There is no official celebration of the occasion; it’s a new practice of many mosques. The more strict Muslims frown on such practice and call it a Bid`a (novelty), and they would be technically correct, but it’s harmless. A get-together of fellow Muslims to commemorate a seminal event in Islam, the highest honor God has given to any creature, and the launch of the prayer, cannot be a bad thing. Besides, my mosque has a program for the kids. They learn and they play.

Five years

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Today is the fifth anniversary of the blog! I am so honored that I have been able to contribute to a proper understanding of Islam. I hope that readers have benefited from the more than 450 articles to date.

Thank you all for visiting, and special thanks to those of you, sixty so far, who took the time to register for membership and offer their comments and ask questions. You make the blog work.

May God continue to bless this blog, its readers and myself.

Can I participate in non-Muslim celebrations?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

My mother was born and raised Catholic but converted to Islam when she married my father. Although she embraced Islam as her religion it didn’t affect her very close relationship with her family. So, whenever there are occasions like Christmas, All Saint’s Day, and birthdays we would usually go as a family. Even after my mother’s passing we still continue the tradition. Are we committing any sin?

Being kind and courteous to your family and relatives is something that Islam emphasizes a lot, even if the family is non-Muslim. What Islam warns against is participation in Zoor (lies and falsehood). God says in the holy Quran,

“And those (worshipers of the Beneficent) who do not witness falsehood, and when they pass by frivolity, they pass dignified” (25:72)

The reason for this warning is that participation in such activities, sooner or later, affects one’s beliefs and may taint his faith. Islam has made it clear that Muslims must express Walaa’ (allegiance) to the truth and Baraa’ (detachment) from falsehood.

It is because of Baraa’ that Asmaa’ bint Abi-Bakr, may God have been pleased with both, refused to receive her mother, Qateela bint Abdil-`Uzza, who was a polytheist, who traveled from Mecca to Medina to see her and brought her a gift. Asmaa’ would not let her in her house and would not take her gift! Just then, God revealed verses 60:8-9,

“God does not forbid you from those who did not fight you because of religion and did not expel you from your homes – from being cordial toward them and acting with equity toward them. Indeed, God loves the equitable.
God only forbids you from those who fought you because of religion and expelled you from your homes and aided in your expulsion – [forbids] that you ally with them. And whoever allies with them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (60:8-9)

The Prophet (PBUH) promptly ordered Asmaa’ to receive her mother, accept her gift and be kind and hospitable to her. These verses correct the misunderstanding that some Muslims have about Walaa’ and Baraa’. These teachings do not imply hatred of non-Muslims; they teach that Baraa’ is the separation from hostile enemies of Islam and that Walaa’ is the allegiance with those who testify to the truth about God.

So, to answer your question, you are not committing a sin if the celebrations you attend are free from falsehood. If a celebration starts to take a religious inclination in which false theology is uttered or blasphemous acts are practiced, then you should immediately excuse yourself and leave, after wishing your relatives well.

Happy Eid-ul-Adhha

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Eid Mubarak to all fellow Muslims around the world. Today is the feast of sacrifice, commemorating the ultimate willingness to surrender to God by prophets Abraham and Ishmael and Lady Haajar (Hagar), peace be upon them. They all teach us the lesson that surrender to God, which is what the word Islam means, is the gateway to peace, prosperity and longevity.


Tawaaf around the Ka`ba

Novelties about visiting graves

Monday, March 28th, 2011

In my country some people, mostly Barlewi Muslims, do things like commemorating the 40th day after death of a loved one, gathering together, reading the Quran and passing over the blessing to the dead, reciting the Fatiha (Chapter 1) at the grave site.

As far as I know, these things aren’t allowed in Islam. but someone emailed me an article citing many hadeeths which they say support these practices. I’m attaching the article herewith. I know most of those hadeeths, but I don’t see how they can make from them the conclusions they made.

Can we pass good deeds to the dead? The authentic hadeeth about the three things the deceased continue to benefit from does not mention reciting the Quran.

Am I right in considering these acts as biddah (novelty)? If yes, how can convince the Barelwi people?

The article mixes two issues together: (1) the fact that the dead can benefit from good deeds of the living, and (2) that the practice of the 40th day memorial is sanctioned by Islam. The former is true, but the latter is false. You are right that the evidence they quoted you does not prove the 40th day memorial practice. It is a novelty that traces its roots to ancient Egypt.

Supplicating for the dead is a good deed and this is a consensus of the scholars. The Quran makes that clear,
“Our Lord, forgive us and those of our brothers who were ahead of us in faith” (59:10) and the Prophet (PBUH) frequently supplicated, “O God, forgive our living and our dead…”

Muslims are taught to say the phrase “Rahimahullah” (May God have mercy on him) when referring to the dead. Muslims pray a special funeral prayer for a deceased person before he or she is buried.

As for reciting the Quran at a grave, scholars have differed on that. Abu-Haneefa and Mallik did not like it, because the is no Sunna to support it, but Ash-Shaafi`i, Muhammad ibn Al-Hasan, Judge `Iyaadh and Al-Qaraafi all favor it for the blessing it causes. Ibn Hanbal sees no harm in it. Limiting that recital to Al-Faatiha only is a novelty, however.

Lastly, the article has a number of claims too ridiculous to respond to, but I’ll be happy to address them if you need that; things like “start every journey on a Thursday!”

What is Muslims attitude toward Christmas?

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

I saw a pamphlet here in the UK which claims that Christmas is a lie and an evil and that it is the duty of Muslims to attack it. The pamphlet is incoherent and it actually blames Christmas for crimes such as domestic violence and societal ills such as homelessness!

Two phenomena that also exist in the Muslim world, so who is to blame them on there? The pamphlet is an incoherent rant like you said and should be taken as the attitude of its self-righteous authors only. They represent only themselves.

Islam treats other faiths with respect, even as it strongly disagrees with their theologies. The Prophet (PBUH) said that “For every community is their feast.” And God tells us in the holy Quran to “invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good preaching, and argue with them in the most beautiful manner. Verily, your Lord knows best whom has strayed from His way and it is He who knows best whom are the guided”? (16:125)

Islam gives particular consideration to “the People of the Book”, i.e., the Jews and Christians. God says in the holy Quran, “And do not argue with the People of the Book except in the most beautiful way” (29:46).

Is this horrible sight a sanctioned Islamic practice?

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

I saw on TV Muslims in Iran beating their own backs with chains until they bleed and some deliberately wounding the tops of their heads in a mass ceremony. The TV reporter said it was an Islamic memorial for the martyrdom of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. Is this a recognized memorial? Seems extreme to me.

We are only allowed to weep for our dead. All other expressions of grief are forbidden. The murder of Al-Husayn, may God have been pleased with him, was a tragedy on many levels, but it does not mean that Muslims should go berserk with grief expressions that belong to the ignorance era (Jaahiliyya).

Can Muslims celebrate Halloween?

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Halloween is recognized as a pagan holiday by almost everybody, but it is also recognized as a fun day for kids. So, can Muslims celebrate Halloween for the sake of their kids?

I read in InFocus News magazine about a clever way some American Muslims managed to celebrate Halloween for their kids, without actually celebrating it! What they did is that they held a party in the parking lot of the mosque, on a day other than October 31st, where the kids played and everybody had fun and ate good food. There were no trick-or-treat candy or costumes or any aspects of the macabre. They called the event Halaloween!

Baraath is a novelty, right?

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

In my country, people celebrate what is called Baraath, which is a devotion that is held on the eve of 15th of Sha`baan (the eighth month in the Islamic calendar). Many folks have told me that it is a novelty and there should not be any special celebration that night.

But, are there any special events that happened on the 15th of Sha`baan?

There are narrations that suggest that the Quran was descended from the Preserved Tablet (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfoozh) on the 15th of Sha`baan in preparation for Archangel Gabriel to reveal it to the Prophet (PBUH). There are also narrations that suggest that the Qibla (prayer direction) toward Mecca was commanded on the 15th of Sha`baan.

Neither narration is authentic enough, to the best of my knowledge. And even if they were, since the Prophet (PBUH) did not celebrate or commemorate that night or day in any special way, we shouldn’t either.

Please tell the story of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raaj (The Night and Ascension Journey)

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi`raaj (The Night and Ascension Journey)

Stated by the Quran (17:1 and 53:13-18), Islam’s holy scripture, and by the authentic Hadeeth (quotes of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him), the Night Journey, Al-Israa’ and the Ascension journey (Al-Mi`raaj) are the two parts of a journey that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) took in one night around the year 621. While some Muslims consider it a spiritual journey made in a vision, the majority believes it was a physical journey, evidenced by the fact that the Prophet named all the caravans that were travelling between Mecca and Jersulam that night and he described Jerusalem accurately though he had never been there.

After reaching Jerusalem, the Prophet met with and lead in prayer, at the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, all the other Prophets and Messengers of God, from Adam to Jesus, peace be upon them. Hadeeths report that he described some of the prophets. He said that he looked a lot like Abraham, that Adam had a dark skin and that Jesus had very oily hair.

Starting off on a rock in the site of the Dome of the Rock, the Prophet was ascended to heaven. He was accompanied by archangel Gabriel. As he visited each heaven, he would see sites and people and would ask Gabriel about them and Gabriel would tell him what the sites mean.

Then, at the last heaven, Gabriel said to Muhammad, “You can ascend farther up but if I try, I’d burn.” No creature has ever been there before. The Prophet ascended up and saw God. God greeted the Prophet, blessed him and gave him the mandate of the formal, ritual prayers of Islam.

Scholars have offered several purposes for that miraculous journey. Some said it was consolation for the Prophet, who in that year had lost his beloved wife, Khadeeja and his uncle Abu-Taalib, who was his protection from the violent opposition of his tribe, Quraysh, and his mistreatment at At-Taa’if, a close-by city he went to calling them to Islam. Others said the purpose of the trip was to highlight the paramount importance of prayer and to give all Muslims a chance to have a similar experience to that of the Prophet. Several scholars have described prayer as the “ascension of the believer.”

The event is commemorated each year on the eve of the 27th of the seventh lunar month, Rajab. It is regarded as one of the most important events in the Islamic calendar. Though not required, many Muslims bring their children to the mosques, where the children are told the story, pray with the adults, and then afterward food and treats are served.

In a sermon I attended recently, the imam (preacher) mentioned three more lessons we can learn from that wonderful event,

  • No matter how hard times are, there is good news reserved for us from God. Good times ahead.
  • The connection between Mecca and Jerusalem is solid and was never severed as many Jews claim when they said that Hagar and her son Ishmael were “outcast” to the desert. Even today, Islamophobes and adversaries of Islam keep trying to isolate and alienate Islam and reject that it is part of the family of monotheist religions and Muhammad (PBUH) is part of the family of Prophets.
  • The quick move from Mecca to Jerusalem is a good omen to Muslims that Islam will reach Jerusalem and will spread fast and wide.

Do we know anything about the burak, the vehicle of the  journey, which I’ve read somewhere described as a winged horse? Is that true, or is it a wrong translation?

I found only one reference to Al-Buraaq in Al-Albaani’s book which he rated Hasan (OK). It describes it as a white, tall beast of burden. That’s all. All other references are either weak or fabricated.

I can’t find any authentic mention of it anywhere in the six acknowledged books of Hadeeth. If someone can, please reply.

The word Buraaq comes from the Arabic verb برق (bariqa) which means to appear suddenly and brightly and quickly disappear, like the English verb to flash. That is why lightning is called Al-Barq in Arabic.