By Asma Bint Shameem

Wudu is such a beautiful thing. It is done so that we can purify ourselves before we stand for prayer in front of Allah. And all of us make wudu, because we know that without it our prayer will not be valid. But usually we do it routinely, swiftly washing our hands and feet, splish splash on the face, a quick wipe over the head and we are done, not thinking much of it. And sometimes we even get lazy and don’t do it properly, especially at times like Fajr, when we are sleepy and during cold weather.

But there is more to wudu than just being a condition for worship. Something that makes it more than just a routine thing before prayer…… something higher and more complete…. something that most of us neglect or overlook.

And that is…..that the very act of wudu is a form of worship in itself. By performing wudu you can get closer to Allaah….you can increase your Imaan and strengthen your faith. By performing wudu, you can intensify your love for Allaah and His Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi wa Sallam)…and you can have your sins forgiven. And how can one do all that ?

Every time you make wudu, be conscious of Allaah, your Rabb, and remember that it is Him, Who ordered you to perform wudu in the first place. And you are carrying out His Orders, His Command….you are obeying Him. And you love to obey Him. So be conscious of your obedience to Him and thank Him for enabling you to carry out His Command as He says:

(O you who believe! When you intend to offer As-Salat (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) [Surah Maidah:6]

This will increase your love for Allaah, and strengthen your Imaan….and improve your relationship with Him. It will make you more conscious of Him when you stand in front of Him in prayer and give you more Khushoo.

And every time you perform wudu, be conscious that you are following the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam). It is the same way he did wudu….. the Prophet that you love and honor and respect….and it is his Sunnah that you love to follow. Not only will Allaah will reward you for following His Messenger (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam), but it (the wudu) will also increase your love for the Sunnah as well.

The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “He who performs wudu like this wudu of mine and then offered two rakahs of prayer without allowing his thoughts to be distracted, all his previous sins are expiated.” (Muslim)

So the key to sins being expiated is performing wudu like the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) and then praying. And every single time you perform wudu, do it sincerely for the sake of Allaah, expecting a reward from Him, asking Him to accept it from you, hoping that He will forgive you.

Because wudu expiates sins. “When the Muslim or believing slave does wudu and washes his face, every wrong thing that he looked at with his eyes comes out from his face with the water or with the last drop of water. When he washes his hands, every wrong thing that he did with his hands comes out from his hands with the water or with the last drop of water. When he washes his feet every wrong thing that he walked to with his feet comes out from his feet with the water or with the last drop of water, until he emerges cleansed of sin.” (Muslim)

And whenever you do wudu, think of the People who will have bright hands and faces on the Day of Resurrection and know that if you try to do your wudu properly, doing it sincerely for the sake of Allaah, then He will make you among those. The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “(On the Day of Resurrection) You will have distinctive marks “Al-Ghurr-ul- Muhajjalun” which nobody among the peoples (except you) will have; you would come to me (at the Cistern of al-Kauthar) with blazing forehead and bright hands and feet on account of the traces of ablution.” (Muslim)

Try and maintain your wudu at all times as this is a sign of a believer. The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Only the believer will remain with his ablution (sustaining it at all times).” (Saheeh al-Jamee) And even if you have difficulty in doing wudu, like cold weather, or any other situation that makes wudu difficult, still try your best to maintain it, since there is tremendous reward.

The Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Shall I not tell you something by which Allah effaces the sins and elevates ranks (in Jannah)?” The Companions said; “Certainly, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “Performing the Wudu thoroughly in spite of difficult circumstances, walking with more paces to the mosque, and waiting for the next prayer after observing a prayer; and that is mindfulness”. (Muslim)

And don’t forget the Siwaak. It is something that Allaah and His Messenger love. He (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) said: “Siwak is a purification for the mouth and satisfaction for the Lord”. (al- Nisaee and Ibn Khuzaima -Sahih at Targheeb)

And when you finish wudu, be sure and say the Sunnah duas that the Prophet (sal Allaahu Alayhi wa Sallam) taught us to say AFTER we are done with wudu. Remember there are NO duas to be said during wudu. There is nothing proven about that from the authentic Sunnah. Just START your wudu with Bismillaah and when you are DONE, then say the following:

1) Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allaah wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasooluhu. (Meaning: I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.) (Muslim)

2) Allaahumm ajalni min al-tawwaabeena wajalni min al-mutatahhireena (Meaning: O Allaah, make me one of those who repent and make me one of those who purify themselves). (Tirmidhi-Saheeh by Albaani)

3) Subhaanaka Allaahumma wa bi hamdika, ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill anta, astaghfiruka wa atoobu ilayka (Meaning: Glory and praise be to You, O Allaah, I bear witness that there is no god but You, I seek Your forgiveness and I repent to You) (al-Nasaai, etc.- Saheeh by Albaani)

May Allaah make us among those who purify themselves for His sake, physically as well as spiritually. Ameen.

Do You Smile?

January 4, 2010

I used to visit a specific masjid and for a bit of time I did not look forward to attending that masjid.  I didn’t know anyone there and very few people there made an effort to reach out.  I would see brothers that I would see every day and they wouldn’t smile at me and so I didn’t feel as welcome as I should have.  Maybe it was because they were stingy with their smiles or maybe I wasn’t a member of their click (maybe I wasn’t tablighi enough for the Pakistanis or salafi enough for the Saudis or Arab enough for the Palestinians or convert enough for the blacks (bad generalizations on purpose) etc etc).  In reality, if I wasn’t stubborn enough, there is a good chance I would have stopped going to that masjid because of the uncomfortable environment. 

Muslims are supposed to be welcoming, cheerful people, especially around other Muslims.  We know from the hadith that smiling for your brother is a charity, yet many of us decide we don’t have enough smiles to give out or we decide we only want to smile to those we know.  For those that cannot smile for their fellow Muslim brother, this is a completely moronic and idiotic train of thought that comes from nationalism, miserliness or ignorance.

If you look at the kuffar and the environment they’ve produced around us here in the West, you will notice that these people will make an effort.  They will make eye contact with you.  They will smile in your face and ask you how your day is going.  They will make small talk.  What is wrong with us (the Muslims) when we cannot do this amongst ourselves?

For those that want the scientific benefits of smiling (though the Sunnah should be enough for us), Dr. Mark Stibich (via about.com) notes ten reasons to smile:

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive:
We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away — but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood:
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There’s a good chance you mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling Is Contagious:
When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the moods of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress:
Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you’ll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System:
Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure:
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin:
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger:
The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don’t go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day — you’ll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful:
Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive:
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It’s hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that “Life is Good!” Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

Therefore, O Muslim, smile, it’s the sunnah!  So I ask you, do you smile?
Related: Do You Miswak? and Do You Adhan?

The Islamic New Year

December 17, 2009

In less than one week, we will begin the New Year according to the Islamic calender.  We will embark on 1431 A.H. (after hijra).  The Islamic calender has twelve months as “The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year) – so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth…” (Translation of the Meaning of the Quran, 9:36).

The months are: Muharram, Safar, Rabi Awal, Rabi Thani, Jumada Awal, Jumada Thani, Rajab, Shaban, Ramadan, Shawwal, Dhul Qiadah, and Dhul Hijjah.

Out of the twelve months, four are considered sacred as the Final Sermon of Rasoolullah (SAW) included the statement, “With Allah the months are twelve; four of them are holy; three of these are successive and one occurs singly between the months of Jumaada and Sha’ban.” 

This makes the sacred months Muharram (1), Rajab (7), Dhul Qiadah (11), and Dhul Hijjah (12).  With the new year begining and with Muharram being the first month and one of the sacred months, I thought it’d be nice to share the following article on the virtues of the month of Muharram as written by Mufti Taqi Usmani:

Facts About Muharram

  • Muharram is one of the four sacred Months out of twelve. The other being Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah,and Rajab.
  • These four months have been sacred since the creation of universe – as told by Allah Subhana Watala in the Quran.
  • After Ramadan, fasting in the month of Muharram is most rewardable.
  • Muharram is a sacred month NOT because the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (saw) was martyred in this month. It is sacred because Allah made it sacred along with three other months and told us about it in the Quran.

Facts about Ashurah – The 10th of Muharram

  • Fasting on the 10th Muharram i.e. Ashura was obligatory on the Muslims before the fasts of Ramadan were made obligatory.
  • Fasting on the 10th of Muharram expiates the sins of the previous year.
  • Musa (as) and the Bani Israel were saved from the Pharaoh by the parting of the sea on 10th Muharram.
  • Prophet Musa (as) as a sign of gratitute to Allah used to fast on the day of Ashura and Jews did the same.
  • Prophet Muhammad (saw) on hearing the fast of Musa (as) also ordered the Muslims to fast on this day and himself did the same.
  • Prophet Muhammad (saw) decided to fast on 9th Muharram as well to differentiate from the Jews but he passed away before he could do so.

Misconceptions about Ashura

  • This is the day Prophet Adam (as) was created
  • This is the day when Allah accepted the repentance of Adam (as)
  • This is the day when Ibrahim (as) was born.
  • This is the day the Qayamat (doomsday) will occur. (From hadiths we know Qayamat will occur on a friday, but does not specify which month)
  • Whoever baths of Ashura will never get ill.
  • Muharram is an evil or unlucky month (due to the battle of Karbala)
  • Marriages should not be held in Muharram.

All of the above are misconceptions based on unauthentic traditions. This misconception can be easily removed by the fact that on the exact same day Husain (ra) was martyred, years ago Prophet Musa as and his followers were saved from Pharaoh, which is why Prophet Muhammad saw observed the fast on Ashura and ordered the Muslims to do the same. The day can not be lucky or unlucky at the same time.

Historical Facts about Muharram

  • Companion Umar Farooq (ra) succumbed to his injuries and attained Martyrdom on the 1st of Muharram, 23 AH (After Hijri)
  • Grandson of Prophet Muhammad (saw) Hussain ibn Ali (ra) along with most of his family members was martyred in the desert of Kerbala in Iraq on the 10th of Muharram.

Authentic Ibadaat (Worship) of Muharram

  • Fasting in Muharram (any day)
  • Fasting on 10th Muharram and combining it with the fast of 9th Muharram to distinguish from the Jews.

Innovations and things to avoid in Muharram

  • Preparing special dishes meals in Muharram.
  • Holding lamentation and mourning ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain (ra)
  • Cursing the companions.
  • Wearing black clothes and starving and refusing to drink in memory of Husain (ra)

Source: http://www.albalagh.net
Related: What’s So Special About Muharram?

Therefore, O Muslim, make the intention to fast the day of Ashoora (10th of Muharram) and the day before it (the 9th) if you are able to do so.

The Fiqh of Priorities

September 1, 2009

It is a sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW) to shorten the dhuhr and asr prayers to two rakat instead of four during the time of Hajj. However, Uthman (the caliph at the time) thought the sunnah was to pray the full four rakat. Ibn Masood , who had personally seen the Prophet (SAW) shorten his prayers during Hajj, approached Uthman to tell him of the correct opinion. However, Uthman held firm to what he believed was correct and led the prayer in full. Ibn Masood prayed behind Uthman the full prayer.

Afterwards, a group of Muslims came to Ibn Masood and asked him why he prayed the full four rakat behind Uthman when he could have waited for the prayer to be over and then prayed the shortened prayer by himself. After all, Ibn Masood had personally seen the Prophet (SAW) shorten the prayer himself and knew it to be the correct opinion. Ibn Masood responded that to shorten the prayers during Hajj is a sunnah, however, to follow the imam is an obligation.

Here we are given a glimpse into the Fiqh of Priorities. We are to give precedence to that which is more important. So next time you want to become a fitnah in your community and raise a ruckus about whether the Taraweeh prayers should be eight or twenty rakat, ask yourself, “Is this what the companions of the Prophet (SAW) would do?” After all, the true sunnah here is to pray what the imam has prayed as Abu Dharr said the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Whoever prays qiyaam – i.e., Taraweeh – with the imam until he finishes, it will be recorded as if he spent the whole night in prayer” (Tirmidhi).

For a lecture on the Fiqh of Priorities, check out Yasir Fazaqa’s lecture available on AudioIslam here (it’s the 22nd lecture listed).

Do You Adhan?

July 28, 2009

The call to prayer (adhan) is one of the most beautiful sounds known to man.  When the call comes out, we hear about tawheed and the shahada.  Then we hear the secret to success when one hears, “Come to prayer, come to success.”  When the adhan is pronounced, we should stop what we are doing and listen to call and repeat its words as Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Whenever you hear the Adhan, say what the Mu’adhin is saying” (Bukhari).

There is a great merit and reward in pronouncing the adhan.  After all, Allah (SWT) tells us in the Quran, “Who speaks better than one who calls to God and acts righteously?” (Translation of the Meaning of the Quran, 41:33).

The Messenger of Allah (SWT) said, “If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the adhan and for standing in the first row (in the congregational prayer) and found no other way to get it except by drawing lots they would do so” (Bukhari).

The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “the Mu’adhdhins will have the longest necks on the Day of Resurrection” (Muslim).

Furthermore, Satan despises the adhaan as Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, “When Satan hears the call to prayer, he runs away to a distance like that of Rauha.”  Someone asked him about Rauha. He replied “It is at a distance of thirty-six miles from Medina.” (Muslim).

Even if you are praying alone, it is the sunnah for a man to make the adhan and iqama by himself as anything that hears your call to prayer will testify for you on the Day that lasts 50,000 years.  Abu Sa’id al-Khudri told a man, “I see you liking sheep and the wilderness. So whenever you are with your sheep or in the wilderness and you want to pronounce Adhan for the prayer raise your voice in doing so, for whoever hears the Adhan, whether a human being, a jinn or any other creature, will be a witness for you on the Day of Resurrection.”   Abu Said added, “I heard it (this narration) from Allah’s Apostle” (Bukhari).

Furthermore, the Messenger (SAW) said, “Your Lord likes it when a shepherd at the top of a mountain pass calls the Adhaan for prayer and then prays. Then Allah says, ‘Look at this slave of mine, saying the Adhaan and the Iqaamah for prayer and fearing Me.  I ask you to bear witness that I have forgiven My slave and will admit him to Paradise’” (an-Nisai).

Moreover, Imam Shafi held the opinion it is disliked to pray without the adhan and iqamah as he said, “If a man neglects to say the Adhaan and Iqaamah when he is praying alone or in congregation, I regard that as makrooh, but he does not have to repeat the prayers he did without the Adhaan or Iqaamah.”

So I ask you, do you adhan?

Always say Bismillah

June 26, 2009

From the jinn there is produced a qareen for every human.  A qareen tries to seduce his subject by giving one evil thoughts or bad dreams.  Even Rasoolullah (SAW) had a qareen as he told Aisha (ra) in Sahih Muslim.  However, Rasoolullah (SAW) was protected from his qareen as his qareen helped him in doing good.  The Holy Quran says, “If anyone withdraws himself from remembrance of (Allah) the Most Merciful, We appoint for him a Shaytan, to be an intimate companion to him” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 43:36).  With that being said we all have a qareen/jinn that follows us around everywhere we go.  How do we get rid of these shayateen?

It is narrated from the salaf that two qareen met up and one was weak, sick, and hungry while the other qareen was strong, healthy, and well-fed.  The strong one asked the weak one, “What has happened to you?”

The weak one replied, “My person always says bismillah (in the name of Allah).  He says bismillah before he eats and drinks so that I cannot eat and drink with him.  He says bismillah before he enters his home so that I cannot go inside his home with him either.”

The strong qareen responded, “My person never says bismillah.  I eat and drink with him and I enter his home all the time.”

Therefore, o Muslim, always say bismillah before you do anything.  And if you forget to say bismillah before you eat and remember midway through your meal, say, “bismillahi fee owaleehee wa ahkireehee” (in the name of Allah in it’s beginning and end) causing your qareen to throw-up what he’s eaten with you thus far.

Do You Miswak?

May 2, 2009

I used to get a couple of cavities a year in my visits to the local dentist.  Then, however, I discovered miswak, the Sunnah toothbrush.  Subhan’Allah, for the last couple of years, I’ve been cavity-free.  I don’t use the miswak too often, maybe a couple seconds here or there after making wudhu or before the prayer.  However, the fact of the matter is that the Sunnah toothbruth is an effective tool for not only keeping your teeth fresh and clean, but also gaining the pleasure of our Lord, insh’Allah.  The Messenger of Allaah (SAW) said, “Siwaak cleanses the mouth and pleases the Lord” (Bukhari).

The Prophet (SAW) highly recommended the use of the siwak as he 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” (Bukhari).

The miswak is a confirmed Sunnah and it is something we all should try to implement into our daily lives, not just for the sake of the cleanliness of our teeth, but also for the sake of implementing a beautiful Sunnah. 

So I ask you, do you miswak?