An Islamic adaptation of the Sabbath…

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.

I recently became aware of the religious beliefs and rituals of some of the people I work with and I found the idea of the Sabbath very intriguing. Most people know the Sabbath to be the day Jews are forbidden to work,  however from  a Jewish perspective it is more than just rules and restriction.  As Tracey R. Rich puts it, “”it is a precious gift from God, a day of great joy eagerly awaited throughout the week, a time when we can set aside all of our weekday concerns and devote ourselves to higher pursuits.” According to the Torah,  the purpose of Sabbath observance is to remind the Hebrew people of two very important events in history: the creation of the world (Ex. 20:11) and the deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Deut. 5:15). Both highlight the central Jewish religious belief: that there is one, powerful creator God who cares for his people.

People of different religions and faiths observe the Sabbath in different ways and for different reasons. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormons, Sunday is a quiet day for church attendance, rest from worldly pursuits, and spiritual reflection. I work very closely with members of the Mormon Church and their beliefs and spirituality have truly inspired me.

While different religions have different interpretations of the Sabbath, the principle remains the same and I believe the principle is Islamic at its core.

Examples of appropriate Sabbath activities include:

  • Attending Church
  • Prayer
  • Reflection & Contemplation
  • Studying scriptures
  • Spending time with family
  • Visiting the sick
  • Physical rest

As a Muslim, I was amazed at the spiritual devotion of the people who observe the Sabbath and I questioned my own devotion and spirituality. I began contemplating an Islamic adaptation the Sabbath.

Based on the principles and teachings of Islam and drawing inspiration from the Jewish and Mormon faiths, I believe we can increase our spirituality and our awareness of God by setting aside Sabbath-like periods in our lives.

Depending on the level of your faith and your circumstances this could be implemented daily, weekly or however you see fit. The frequency and duration is up to the individual, but the intention should be for the pleasure of Allah and to elevate your spirituality.

Examples of appropriate activities from an Islamic perspective would include:

  • Reading Quran
  • Prayer/Dua
  • Reading/Learning Hadith
  • Optional (Nafl)  Prayers
  • Spending time with the family (NO TV)
  • Visiting the sick
  • Fasting
  • Dhikr & the remembrance of Allah
  • Visiting the Mosque (besides the daily prayers)

The key is to avoid all worldly matters and take part in activities that will enhance your spirituality and create a better awareness and understanding of your faith.

Some may argue that we should be practising these activities all the time anyway, even if we do, there can be no harm in setting aside time each day or each week in devotion to your Lord.

I hope we can all benefit from this, set aside some time each day or each week to remove yourself from worldly matters and spend some time contemplating and reflecting on your faith. Insha Allah we will become better Muslims and will better appreciate the bounties of our Lord.

” O ye who believes remember Allah very often and glorify Him morning and evening.” (33:41-2)

” Then do ye remember Me I will remember you.” (2-152)

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Dead Sea Seacret… Religious Perspective!

The Dead Sea

I was quite impressed after sampling a treatment from a “Seacret” store in the mall the other day and found that the source of these treatments was the Dead Sea. I could recall a few childhood stories about the Dead Sea which made me question the permissibility and appropriateness of using such treatments. This is what I found:

According to Islamic and Biblical traditions, the Dead Sea is the site of the ancient city of Sodom, home of the Prophet Lut (Lot), peace be upon him.

Prophet Lut (A.S.), after consulting with Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) (A.S.) left Misr and traversed towards the eastern part of Urdun (Jordan), a place called Sodom or Sadoom. The purpose of his migration was to propagate the teachings of Ibrahim (A.S.) amongst the inhabitants of Sodom, a village situated in the area where the Dead Sea is presently located.

The people of surrounding areas firmly believe that the region in which the Dead Sea is found was once occupied by the people of Sodom. This nation directly rejected the message which Prophet Lut (A.S.) presented to them, due to which they were punished most severely, as described by Allah, “So at day break a mighty cry seized them. Then We turned the localities upside down and We showered upon them rocks of baked clay. In this (incident) there are indeed multiple signs for the people who discern.” (Surah Hijr, Verse 73)

The earth on which they lived was lifted into the sky and then caused to come crashing down approximately 400 meters below the earth. As a result, this area was submerged, and is now known as the Dead Sea. (Qasas ul Qur’an, Vol. 1, Page 257, Mukhtasar Tafseer Ibn Katheer, Vol. 2, Page 312) According to scientists, the area is covered in large deposits of sulphur. For this reason, no life in the form of animals or plants is to be found there and the region stands as a symbol of destruction.

It has been reported by Abdullah ibn Umar (R.A.), that when Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) descended at the place of Hijr (the region where the nations of ‘Aad and Thamud once resided) during the battle of Tabuk, he (S.A.W.) commanded the Sahabah (companions) not to drink from the accursed place. The Sahabah informed the Prophet (S.A.W.) that they had already utilized the water for making dough and drinking. The Prophet (S.A.W.) instructed them to discard the dough and water.

While commenting on this Hadith, Imam Hajar Al-Asqalani (R.H.) outlines that the Hadith clearly teaches us that, it is Makrooh (impermissible) to use the water found in the area of Hijr. He further states, that the same ruling will apply to other accursed places.

The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), reportedly tried to dissuade people from visiting the sites of God’s punishment: “Do not enter the place of those who were unjust to themselves, unless you are weeping, lest you should suffer the same punishment as was inflicted upon them.”

The Qur’an describes that the site of this punishment has been left as a sign for those who follow: “Surely! In this are signs for those who understand. And verily, they (the cities) are right on the high-road. Surely! Therein is indeed a sign for the believers.” (Qur’an 15:75-77)

In light of the above narrations, revelations and explanations, we can conclude that the use of products derived from the Dead Sea is inappropriate and should be avoided. I hope we can all benefit from this Insha Allah. May Allah strengthen our faith and make us among those who guide and whom are guided.

Ameen.

Assalaamu Alaikum!

Thank your parents through prayer…

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful.

“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, “my Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood.” (Quran 17: 23,24)

We often take for granted the people closest to us and neglect to acknowledge some of the greatest bounties Allah has bestowed upon us. We live in a world where love and respect for one’s parents is frowned upon and laughed at. Society has stripped us of  our basic instincts… to love and respect those dearest to us.

Islam promotes and encourages love and respect towards parents and the Quran itself makes reference to parents no less than 15 times. When asked about the signs of the last day, the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) mentioned two prophecies regarding the treatment of parents:

  1. When the offspring become a cause of grief and anger (for their parents).
  2. When a man obeys his wife and disobeys his mother; and treats his friend kindly while shunning his father (at-Tirmidhi)

We can all relate to these predictions and while we probably aren’t able to prevent them, the least we can do is change the way we treat our loved ones. The Quran and Sunnah have explained the status of parents in Islam and the importance of love and respect towards them. Some of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), about our responsibilities towards parents include:

  • “Paradise lies under the feet of the mother.”
  • “God’s pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and God’s displeasure is in the displeasure of the father.”
  • “He who wishes to enter Paradise through its best door must please his parents.”
  • “It is a pity that some people may not attain Paradise, on account of not serving their old parents.”
  • “If a person looks with love at his parents, God writes in his favor the reward equal to the performance of one Hajj.”

Remember these teachings when dealing with your parents and reflect on the sacrifices they have made for you. Acknowledge them, respect them, show gratitude towards them and pray for them.

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِمَنْ دَخَلَ بَيْتِي مُؤْمِنًا وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَلاَ تَزِدْ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلاَّ تَبَارًا

Rabbighfir lii wali-waalidayya walilmum-iniina yauma yaquumul hisaab, Rabbirhamhumaa kamaa rabbayaani shag-hiiraa

O Lord, forgive me, my parents and Muslims in the Hereafter. O Lord, show mercy on them as they have nourished me when I was young.

Let us pray to Allah that He guide us to be respectful, kind, and obedient to our parents, and that we continue to show them humility regardless of the power, position, wealth, and influence we may possess. Let us also pray that we be patient, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with our children, as we guide them through their lives, and that we discharge our responsibilities towards them as required by our religion, so that Allah may be pleased with us, and may He Bless us and reward us, both in this world and in the Hereafter- Ameen.