Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Blind Following the Blind

“To be sitting in the Masjid-al-Haram, in Makkatul Mukarramah, is one of the great blessings of honour from The Almighty and a feeling of overwhelming gratefulness. As I was seated in the Masjid one day waiting for the Adhaan, two African women came and sat beside me making Dhikr (remembrance) of The Almighty. I turned towards them and made salaam, only to see that they were both blind. The woman who was sat beside me replied to my salaam and then continued with her Dhikr. Instantly my heart felt pity due to their blindness but at the same time it amazed me how blind people from around the world flocked to the Blessed City without the aid of their eyesight.

As I waited for the Adhaan, questions ran through my mind, how did they manage at the airport? How did they travel to Makkah? How did they find their way to the Masjid? I paused and questioned myself at how weak my trust in Allaah was. He can make anything possible, especially for those who have full trust and reliance in Him, just like these women did.

As the words of the Adhaan began to echo, everyone rose to their feet. I noticed that both the blind women stood slightly away from the Qiblah (direction of Kaa’bah), so I gently held the shoulders of the lady nearest to me and turned her towards the direction of the Kaa’bah. She stroked my hand and thanked me. Her friend held on to her clothing and followed whatever her friend said and did.

Seeing their actions reminded me of the phrase ‘the blind leading the blind’, unfortunately this phrase in English is used for mockery but to actually see this in reality is nothing but a miracle of our Creator.

When Salaah finished, I again turned to the blind lady next to me and spoke to her in broken Arabic. She paused for a moment and spoke in a sad and calm voice about Allaah and about her eyesight. Unfortunately, I understood very little but felt touched by the way she spoke about Allaah and about her blindness. As we departed we said our salaams.

As I was leaving the Haram, I saw them again asking the way to the Mataaf (area around the Kaa’bah). I went across and took the woman, who was previously sitting next to me, by the arm, with her friend following, and told her that I would take them to the Mataaf. Upon recognising my voice she became extremely happy and gave me du’aas. We walked up to the steps leading down to the Mataaf area, and each time I would say ‘step’ they took one step down reciting ‘Bismillaah ’. They prayed ‘Bismillaah’ for every step they came down. On reaching the Mataaf, we once again made our salaams and departed.

As they both walked away I was left wondering how they were going to continue, once again I found myself, reminding myself of how weak my trust in Allaah was. When these blind people I saw in the Masjid carried nothing but the praises & remembrance of Allaah on their lips, it was more than evident that Allaah was with them at every step. It was He who had fed them, clothed them, brought them to Makkah and was taking them to make Tawaaf, by whatever means He chooses.

The blind are seen doing Tawaaf (circumambulation) independently like free birds, with no worries or interest in other people or in what’s happening around them, with no distractions continuing to glorify Almighty Allaah with full reliance and trust in Him. They are deprived of one of the greatest gifts from Allaah and yet they continue to abundantly praise and glorify Him at all times.

Here we are, drowning in Blessings from Allaah, yet we forget the Giver of all these blessings until we experience a loss of them. May the Almighty through His Infinite Mercy & Grace give us all the right guidance to value each and everyone of His Blessings."


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

"Whoever fulfills the needs of his brother, God will fulfill his needs. Whoever eases his brother's difficulty, God will ease his difficulty in this life and on the Day of Resurrection." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Islamic Revival Led by Women!

Finally! Living proof that women can be, and are, powerful forces of a spiritual revolution...

Read on...(click here)

Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women

Jeroen Kramer for The New York Times

In a madrasa at the Zahra mosque in suburban Damascus, Enas al-Kaldi, 16, teaches 7- and 8-year-old girls to memorize the chapters of the Koran.


Published: August 29, 2006

Marriage = Marring??

Quite randomly I came across an interesting typo:

Did you know the only difference between the word "marrying" and "marring" is a single letter...Hmm...wonder "y"? Leave a comment and let the discussion begin :)

For those who may not know:

tr.v. marred, mar·ring, mars
  1. To inflict damage, especially disfiguring damage, on.
  2. To impair the soundness, perfection, or integrity of; spoil.
ps - This is not meant to be a serious, philosophical discussion- but let's see what you can come up with (hopefully something positive, insha'Allah...a hint: the Nafs)

Angels of Dhikr

Whoever has attended any of my halaqas or classes should know this hadith well, insha'Allah:

Almighty has angels who roam about seeking the people of dhikr (remembrance of God).

When they find a group doing dhikr of Allah they call to one another, 'Come to that which you have been seeking!' And they beat their wings and fly up to the nearest heaven. Then their Lord questions them - and He knows better - 'What do My slaves say?'

'They glorify You and proclaim You great, praise You and magnify You.'

Then He says, 'Have they seen Me?'

Then they say, 'No, by Allah, they haven't seen You.'

Then He says, 'And how would it be if they did see Me?'

They say, 'If they did see You, they would be even stronger in worshipping You, stronger in glorifying You, and stronger in magnifying You.'

He says 'And what do they ask of Me?'

They say 'They ask You for the Garden.'

He says, 'And have they seen it?'

They say, 'No by Allah, they have not seen it.'

He says, 'Then how would it be if they had seen it?'

They say, 'If they had seen it, they would be all the stronger in their striving for it, stronger in their seeking it, and stronger in their desire for it.'

He says, 'Then from what do they seek deliverance?

They say, 'From the Fire.' He says, 'Then how would it be if they saw it?'

They say, 'If they saw it, they would be the stronger in their flight from it and stronger in their fear of it.'

He says, 'I call to witness that I have forgiven them.'

One of the angels says, 'Among them is so-and-so, and he is not one of them. He has only come for something which he needs.'

He said, 'They are companions of whom it can be said that no one who is their companion will be wretched.'"

(reported by Abu Hurayrah: Bukhari, Muslim)

reference: The World of Angels, by Sheikh 'Abdu'l Hamid Kishk

Emin Mosque, China
Image Source: Flickr

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Marriage Recommendations

A professor gave his students some recommendations to consider when getting married. He said:

Ideally, the male must have more than the female in:

- height
- age
- wealth
- education

And the female must have more than the male in:

- beauty
- character
- piety
- love for children

(i.e. she must like children more then her husband because even if her husband desires to have lots of children, she will ultimately be the one who will have to look after them)

Let me know what you think!

Fate & Destiny

Why Is It That Allah May Want What He Dislikes?

If someone asks how is it that Allah wants something yet He dislikes it? How one can understand such a concept?

We all know that there are many drug prescriptions disliked and hated for their smell and taste, yet when it is known that there is a cure in them, we take them and we love them for that! Traveling a long and difficult journey to achieve something desired and loved is another example.

If it is known that a surgical removal of a diseased part of the body would save the rest of it, it is disliked and hated from one side and liked from another. So, it is not contradictory to have love and hate combined in addressing one matter. This is true with the created being, so what about Allah the Creator Whom there is nothing hidden from Him and to Whom belongs the Perfect Wisdom?

He, the Exalted, hates a matter in itself and, on the other hand, wants it because of its link to yet another matter, or because it is a means that leads to something He loves. In all of His actions, Allah has the Perfect Wisdom.

We may recognize part of His Wisdom, or the general aspects of it, but not its complete details. One vivid case about this subject, is the Creation of Iblees, who is the sponsor of every corruption and evil in this world. He is hated from one side, yet Allah wanted his creation because he is a means for many beloved things to Allah, and that there is great wisdom behind his creation.

Similarly, there is wisdom behind the creation of calamities, sufferings, hardships, etc. that speak about the Favors of Allah, His Justice, and His Mercy. Some of these wisdoms include [1].

* Tests for the believers.

* Training and strengthening of the believer’s faith.

* An evidence for the weakness of man and his need for his Rabb, and that he has no success unless he humbles himself to his Creator.

* A way to expiate sins and an elevation to higher degrees in the Sight of Allah.

The Prophet (saws) said:

There is nothing (in the form of trouble) that touches the believer, even the pricking of a thorn, except that Allah decrees a good for him or effaces one of his sins because of that.” [2]

* It is a means for receiving reward for both, the ill Muslim and the Muslim doctor in charge.

* Witnessing the occurrence of favors and blessings after calamities and hardships, has more profound effects and generates a meaningful and proper appreciation of Allah’s Power, Wisdom, Mercy and Justice. He, the Exalted, is to be Praised on all of His Decrees.

* An appreciation for good health and the well-being of one’s self.

* A reminder about what is more devastating, Hell. A lesson to remember and a build up of eagerness for Paradise.

* ...And many more wisdoms of which we may know or we may not know. We cannot say: How did Allah allow this and prevent that? Nor how did He create this, and how come He did not create that? …Nothing escapes His Ability, and nothing occurs in His Kingdom except that He had willed it; He owes us nothing; if He gives, then its His Favor and if He prevents, then it is His Justice.

“If Allah (swt) puts a person under certain tests and trials and the person recognizes that He must resort to Allah alone seeking His help, then this is a good sign for him; the trials turn to purification and mercy. If, on the other hand, he rejects, complains, and turns away from Allah and resorts to human beings like him, then this is a bad sign for him; the trials turn to punishment and misery upon him”[3].

Taken from the Book ‘Fate in Islam’ – The Salaf’s guide to the methodology of Al-Qadaa’ wal Qadar Published by Daar al-Bukhari

By Dr Saleh As Saleh
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
The Great Mosque of Kairouan
Tunisia (Photo: Sacred Sites)


1 See The Belief in Al-Qadaa' wal Qadar by Muhammad bin Ibraheem Al-Hamad, PP. 85-89. Published by Daar Ibn Khuzaymah, Riyadh, K.S.A 1415AH/1994.
2 Saheeh Muslim, V. 4, Hadeeth # 6241.
3 Summarized from lbn Qayyim’s Tareequl Hijratayen, FN # 103, P. 259.

Heaven Under the Feet of Thy Mother

"Paradise lies under the feet of the mother."

"Allah's pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and Allah'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, Allah writes in his
favor the reward equal to the performance of one Hajj." Someone asked,
"will this promise be good if one looks at his parents one hundred times a
day?" The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, "even if one does so a hundred
thousand times a day, Allah gives the reward accordingly."

Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (ra), the great-great-grandson of the Holy Prophet
(pbuh) is reported to have quoted Imam 'Ali (ra) that, "disobedience to
parents is a major sin." He also stated that, "if a person looks at the face
of his or her parents with wrathful eyes, despite the fact that injustice
was done to him or her by the parents, his or her *salah* (prayer) will not
be accepted by Allah."

Let us pray to Allah (swt) 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, may Allah (swt) be pleased with us, and may He Bless and reward us, both in this world and in the Hereafter.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Standing Firm

Standing Firm In Prayer After Being Hit By Arrows

Four years after the Hijrah [emigration of the followers of Islam from Makkah to Medinah], in the city of Medinah, the Muslims were still in danger due to the Jewish tribe, the Banu an-Nadir, who broke their contract with the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Then the community received news that some tribes from the desert of Najd were about to attack. So, the Prophet of Islam (saw) raised over four hundred Muslims in order to prevent them from attacking.

Arriving at Najd, they found that only women were present in the houses; the men had taken refuge in the hills. At this time, warriors did not attack women; it was considered as cowardice.

But the women were taken as captives. Some of the Nadj tribes regrouped and prepared themselves for the fight. The time of 'Asr [the afternoon prayer] came, and the Muslims divided in two, as it was revealed, and each group prayed after the other.

The enemy, seeing the discipline among Muslims felt uneasiness and fear. They did not attack. So, the Muslims went back to Medina.

The Prophet of Allah (saw) asked:

"Who will be our guard tonight?"

Two men immediately rose: Abbad ibn Bishr (ra) and Ammar ibn Yasir (ra)

Abbad saw that Ammar was tired and asked him:

"What part of the night do you wish to sleep, the first or the second?"

"The first part," said Ammar.

The night was serene. Everything seemed peaceful. Abbad decided to spend the night in Ibadah [acts of worship] while his companion was asleep, and began reciting the Qur'an.

Abbad soon stood and faced the Qiblah in order to perform Salaat [voluntary prayer]. He began reciting Surah al-Kahf of one hundred and ten verses, which explains the virtues of faith, truth and patience and the passing of time.

While he was absorbed in recitation and in thought, an enemy came from the mountains of Najd and saw him vulnerable. The man drew his bow and threw an arrow towards Abbad. Calmly, Abbad pulled the arrow out and continued his meditation.

The enemy shot a second, then a third arrow. Abbad pulled them out one by one, and finished his recitation. Weak and in pain, at last, he stretched out his right hand during his prostration and awoke his companion Ammar.

"Glory be to Allah! Why didn't you wake me up when the first arrow reached you?"

"Reciting the verses of the Qur'an filled me with such wonders that I felt repugnance to cut it short. I would have preferred death rather than stopping right in the middle of it."

Abbad did not die this day; he died as a shahid [a martyr], at the battle of Yamamah. He fought so vehemently that his wounds made him almost not recognizable. He was a true believer.

Prayer: The Key to Paradise! (Poem)

By AerosolArabic

Salaat is a basic pillar of Islam

It is mentioned again and again in the Quran
The importance of prayer is in seven hundred places
But in the mosque, do you see many young faces?

Praying in the mosque gives 27 times the reward
Pray with the intention that you're pleasing your Lord
When you walk to the mosque, just remember within
You gain a reward and you're losing a sin

For every step towards your destination
This is a blessing from Allah swt to his creation
The Quran has foretold, that before you are dead
'say your prayers before your prayers are said'

Our Prophet (saws) said about those who miss prayer
fifteen punishments they'll have to bear
six in this life, three on passing away
three in the grave and three on judgement day

For missing Fajr at the start of the day
the glow of the face is taken away
the punishment for missing the salaat of Zohar
there will be no blessing from your income no more

For missing Asr, the middle prayer of the day
the strength of the body is taken away
by missing Maghrib, remember one thing
you will not be benefited by your offspring

For missing 'Ishaa at the end of the day
the peace of your sleep will be taken away
while seeing elders pray at the mosque door
remember as a young person, your reward is 70 times more

Read salaat punctually, read it with care
on Judgement Day, we will be asked about prayer
that's the first question, so take this advice
Salaat is the key to Paradise

Spread this word to Muslim sisters and brothers
Salaat will separate muslims from others
Salaat is a blessing which Allah swt gave
it will intercede and protect us in the grave

When it comes eventually, to the Day of rising
the believers body washed by wudhu will be shining
for the believers who are regular in offering Salaat
it becomes a light of guidance on the pul-siraat

Don't miss the prayer Asr at any cost
it will be like your family and wealth is lost
the ayat-ul-kursi after fard, should be read
it will lead you to Paradise (insha Allah) after you're dead

Not reading salaat will lead you to hell
surrounded by serpants in a deep well
read your salaat whilst still in your prime
and read the durood shareef in your spare time

You'll get ten rewards, the Lord (insha Allah) will accept your pleas
and you'll be closer to Allah swt by ten more degrees
so embrace Islam with all your heart
and remember the key is reading salaat.

-Poet Unknown

Welcome O Beautiful Month of Sha'ban!

Assalamualaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

25 August, 2006 Friday = 1 Shaban, 1427 !!

The exciting month of Sha'ban is here! Alhamdulillah! That means there is only one month left until Ramadan..the countdown begins...but, first, let's not miss out on the rewards and virtues of this great month. To get us started: Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "That (Sha'ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting."

Read, absorb and practice! Tawfiq, insha'Allah

"O! Allah, Bless us in Rajab and Sha'ban and allow us to reach Ramadan!"


Photo by William Anders, NASA

Sha'ban: Merits, Do's, and Dont's

By Mufti Taqi Usmani

- The Night of Bara'ah
- What Should be Done in this Night?
- What Should Not be Done in This Night
- Fast of the 15th Sha'ban

Sha'ban is one of the meritorious months for which we find some particular instructions in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. It is reported in the authentic ahadith that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the month in Sha'ban. These fasts were not obligatory on him but Sha'ban is the month immediately preceding the month of Ramadan. Therefore, some preparatory measures are suggested by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Some of these are given below:

1. The blessed companion Anas, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, was asked, "Which fast is the most meritorious after the fasts of Ramadan?" He replied, "Fasts of Shaban in honor of Ramadan."

2. The blessed companion Usama ibn Zaid, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that he asked Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam: "Messenger of Allah, I have seen you fasting in the month of Sha'ban so frequently that I have never seen you fasting in any other month." Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, replied: "That (Sha'ban) is a month between Rajab and Ramadan which is neglected by many people. And it is a month in which an account of the deeds (of human beings) is presented before the Lord of the universe, so, I wish that my deeds be presented at a time when I am in a state of fasting."

3. Ummul Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast the whole of Sha'ban. I said to him, 'Messenger of Allah, is Sha'ban your most favorite month for fasting?' He said, 'In this month Allah prescribes the list of the persons dying this year. Therefore, I like that my death comes when I am in a state of fasting."

4. In another Tradition she says, "Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, would sometimes begin to fast continuously until we thought he would not stop fasting, and sometimes he used to stop fasting until we thought he would never fast. I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting a complete month, except the month of Ramadan, and I have never seen him fasting in a month more frequently than he did in Sha'ban."

5. In another report she says, "I never saw the Messenger of Allah, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, fasting in a month so profusely as he did in the month of Sha'ban. He used to fast in that month leaving only a few days, rather, he used to fast almost the whole of the month."

6. Ummul-Mu'mineen Umm Salamah, Radi-Allahu anha, says: "I have never seen the Messenger of Allah fasting for two months continuously except in the months of Sha'ban and Ramadan."

These reports indicate that fasting in the month of Sha'ban, though not obligatory, is so meritorious that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, did not like to miss it.

But it should be kept in mind that the fasts of Sha'ban are for those persons only who are capable of keeping them without causing deficiency in the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. Therefore, if one fears that after fasting in Sha'ban, he will lose strength or freshness for the fasts of Ramadan and will not be able to fast in it with freshness, he should not fast in Sha'ban, because the fasts of Ramadan, being obligatory, are more important than the optional fasts of Sha'ban. That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself has forbidden the Muslims from fasting one or two days immediately before the commencement of Ramadan. The blessed Companion Abu Hurairah, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "Do not fast after the first half of the month of Sha'ban is gone."

According to another report Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "Do not precede the month of Ramadan with one or two fasts."

The essence of the above-quoted ahadith is that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself used to fast most of the month of Sha'ban, because he had no fear of developing weakness or weariness before the commencement of Ramadan. As for others, he ordered them not to fast after the 15th of Sha'ban for the fear that they would lose their strength and freshness before Ramadan starts, and would not be able to welcome the month of Ramadan with enthusiasm.

The Night of Bara'ah

Another significant feature of the month of Sha'ban is that it consists of a night which is termed in Shariah as "Laylatul-bara'ah" (The night of freedom from Fire). This is the night occurring between 14th and 15th day of Sha'ban. There are certain traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to prove that it is a meritorious night in which the people of the earth are attended by special Divine mercy. Some of these traditions are quoted as follows:

1. Ummul-Mu'mineen 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, is reported to have said, "Once Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, performed the Salah of the night (Tahajjud) and made a very long Sajdah until I feared that he had passed away. When I saw this, I rose (from my bed) and moved his thumb (to ascertain whether he is alive). The thumb moved, and I returned (to my place). Then I heard him saying in Sajdah: 'I seek refuge of Your forgiveness from Your punishment, and I seek refuge of Your pleasure from Your annoyance, and I seek Your refuge from Yourself. I cannot praise You as fully as You deserve. You are exactly as You have defined Yourself.' Thereafter, when he raised his head from Sajdah and finished his salah, he said to me: 'Aishah, did you think that the Prophet has betrayed you?' I said, 'No, O Prophet of Allah, but I was afraid that your soul has been taken away because your Sajdah was very long.' He asked me, 'Do you know which night is this?' I said, 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said, 'This is the night of the half of Sha'ban. Allah Almighty looks upon His slaves in this night and forgives those who seek forgiveness and bestows His mercy upon those who pray for mercy but keeps those who have malice (against a Muslim) as they were before, (and does not forgive them unless they relieve themselves from malice).'"

2. In another Tradition Sayyidah' Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, has reported that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said, "Allah Almighty descends (in a manner He best knows it) in the night occurring in the middle of Sha'ban and forgives a large number of people more than the number of the fibers on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb."

Kalb was a big tribe the members of which had a very large number of sheep. Therefore, the last sentence of the hadith indicates the big number of the people who are forgiven in this night by Allah Almighty.

3. In yet another Tradition, she has reported Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, to have said, "This is the middle Night of Sha'ban. Allah frees in it a large number of the people from Fire, more than the number of the hair growing on the sheep of the tribe, Kalb. But He does not even look at a person who associates partners with Allah, or at a person who nourishes malice in his heart (against someone), or at a person who cuts off the ties of kinship, or at a man who leaves his clothes extending beyond his ankles (as a sign of pride), or at a person who disobeys his parents, or at a person who has a habit of drinking wine."

4. Sayyidna Mu'adh ibn Jabal, Radi-Allahu anhu, reports that Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said: "Allah Almighty looks upon all those created by Him in the middle Night of Sha'ban and forgives all those created by Him, except the one who associates partners with Him or the one who has malice in his heart (against a Muslim)".

Although the chain of narrators of some of these traditions suffers with some minor technical defects, yet when all these traditions are combined together, it becomes clear that this night has some well founded merits, and observing this night as a sacred night is not a baseless concoction as envisaged by some modern scholars who, on the basis of these minor defects, have totally rejected to give any special importance to this night. In fact, some of these traditions have been held by some scholars of hadith as authentic and the defects in the chain of some others have been treated by them as minor technical defects which, according to the science of hadith, are curable by the variety of their ways of narration. That is why the elders of the ummah have constantly been observing this night as a night of special merits and have been spending it in worship and prayers.

What Should be Done in this Night?

In order to observe the Night of Bara'ah, one should remain awakened in this night as much as he can. If someone has better opportunities, he should spend the whole night in worship and prayer. However, if one cannot do so for one reason or another, he can select a considerable portion of the night, preferably of the second half of it for this purpose, and should perform the following acts of worship:

(a) Salah. Salah is the most preferable act to be performed in this night. There is no particular number of Rak'at but preferably it should not be less than eight. It is also advisable that each part of the Salah like qiyam, rukoo' and sajdah should be longer than normal. The longest surahs of the Holy Qur'an one remembers by heart should be recited in the Salah of this night. If someone does not remember the long surahs, he can also recite several short surahs in one rak'ah.

(b) Tilawa. The recitation of the Holy Qur'an is another form of worship, very beneficent in this night. After performing Salah, or at any other time, one should recite as much of the Holy Qur'an as he can.

(c) Dhikr. One should also perform dhikr (recitation of the name of Allah) in this night. Particularly the following dhikr is very useful:

One should recite Salah (durood) on Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, as many times as he can. The dhikr can also be recited while walking, lying on bed and during other hours of work or leisure.

(d) Dua. The best benefit one can draw from the blessings of this night is prayers and supplications. It is hoped that all the prayers in this night will be accepted by our Lord, insha-Allah. Prayer itself is an 'Ibadah, and Allah Almighty gives reward on each prayer along with the fulfillment of the supplicator's need. Even if the purpose prayed for is not achieved, one cannot be deprived of the reward of the prayer which is sometimes more precious than the mundane benefits one strives for. The prayers and supplications also strengthen one's relation with Allah Almighty, which is the main purpose of all kinds and forms of worship.

One can pray for whatever purpose he wishes. But the best supplications are the ones made by Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. These are so comprehensive and all-encompassing prayers that all the human needs, of this world and the Hereafter, are fully covered in the eloquent expressions used in them. Actually, most of the prophetic prayers are so profound that human imagination can hardly match their greatness.

Several books in various languages are available which provide these prophetic prayers, and one should pray to Allah Almighty in accordance with them, whether by reciting their original Arabic text or by rendering their sense in one's own language.

(e) There are some people who cannot perform any additional Salah or recitations for any reason, like illness or weakness or being engaged in some other necessary activities. Such people also should not deprive themselves completely of the blessings of this night. They should observe the following acts:

(i) To perform the Salah of Maghrib, 'Isha' and Fajr with Jama'ah in the mosque, or in their homes in case of their being sick.

(ii) They should keep reciting the dhikr, particularly the one mentioned in para (c) above, in whatever condition they are until they sleep.

(iii) They should pray to Allah for their forgiveness and for their other objectives. One can do so even when he is in his bed.

(f) The women during their periods cannot perform salah, nor can they recite the Qur'an, but they can recite any dhikr, tasbeeh, durood sharif and can pray to Allah for whatever purpose they like in whatever language they wish. They can also recite the Arabic prayers mentioned in the Qur'an or in the hadith with the intention of supplication (and not with the intention of recitation).

(g) According to a hadith, which is relatively less authentic, Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, went in this night to the graveyard of Baqi' where he prayed for the Muslims buried there. On this basis, some of the fuqaha hold it as mustahabb (advisable) in this night to go to the graveyard of the Muslims and recite Fatihah or any other part of the Qur'an, and pray for the dead. But this act is neither obligatory nor should it be performed as regularly as an obligatory act.

What Should Not be Done in This Night

1. As mentioned earlier, the Night of Bara'ah is a night in which special blessings are directed towards the Muslims. Therefore, this night should be spent in total submission to Allah Almighty, and one should refrain from all those activities, which may displease Allah. Although it is always incumbent upon every Muslim to abstain from sins, yet this abstinence becomes all the more necessary in such nights, because committing sins in this night will amount to responding to divine blessings with disobedience and felony. Such an arrogant attitude can invite nothing but the wrath of Allah. Therefore, one should strictly abstain from all the sins, particularly from those mentioned in the Hadith No. 3 quoted earlier in this article, because these sins make one devoid of the blessings of this night.

2. In this night some people indulge in some activities which they regard as necessary for the celebration of the Night of Bara'ah, like cooking some special type of meal, or illuminating houses or mosques, or improvised structures. All such activities are not only baseless and innovated in the later days by ignorant people, but in some cases they are pure imitation of some rituals performed by non-Muslim communities. Such imitation in itself is a sin; performing it in a blessed night like the Night of Bara'ah makes it worse. Muslims should strictly abstain from all such activities.

3. Some people spend this night in holding religious meetings and delivering long speeches. Such activities are also not advisable, because these acts can easily be performed in other nights. This night requires one to devote himself for the pure acts of worship only.

4. The acts of worship like Salah, recitation of the Qur'an and dhikr should be performed in this night individually, not collectively. The Nafl Salah should not be performed in Jama'ah, nor should the Muslims arrange gatherings in the mosques in order to celebrate the night in a collective manner.

On the contrary, this night is meant for worshipping Allah in solitude. It is the time to enjoy the direct contact with the Lord of the Universe, and to devote one's attention to Him and Him alone. These are the precious hours of the night in which nobody should intervene between one and his Lord, and one should turn to Allah with total concentration, not disturbed or intermitted by any one else.

That is why Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, observed the acts of worship in this night in total seclusion, not accompanied by anyone, not even by his favorite life companion Sayyidah 'Aishah, Radi-Allahu anha, and that is why all forms of the optional worship (Nafl Ibadah), are advised by him to be done in individual, not in collective manner.

Fast of the 15th Sha'ban

On the day immediately following the Night of Bara'ah, i.e. the 15th of Sha'ban, it is mustahabb (advisable) to keep fast. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have recommended this fast emphatically. Although the scholars of hadith have some doubts in the authenticity of this report, yet it is mentioned earlier that the fasts of the first half of Sha'ban have special merits and Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, used to fast most of the days in Sha'ban. Moreover, a large number of the elders (salaf) of the Ummah have been observing the fast of the 15th of Sha'ban. This constant practice indicates that they have accepted the relevant hadith as authentic.

Therefore, it is advisable to fast the 15th of Sha'ban as an optional (nafl) fast. One can also keep a fast of qada on this day and it is hoped that he can also benefit from the merits of this fast.