Virtue of Fasting in Rajab and Sha`ban

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

OnIslam

Question: Is it recommended to fast frequently during the months of Rajab and Sha`ban or not?Jazakum Allahu khayran.

Answer (Muhammad Ahmad Al-Musayyar)

crescent_moon_800Prophet Muhammad (s) is reported to have recommended fasting during the four sacred months (i.e. Dhul-Qi`dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab). Therefore, a Muslim is generally recommended to observe fasting in these sacred months, and Rajab is one of them. It is also reported that the Prophet (s) used to observe fasting in Sha`ban more than he did in other months.

In response to your question, prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad AhmadAl-Musayyar, professor of Islamic creed and philosophy at Al-Azhar University, stated,

Fasting is a spiritual act of worship, which elevates one to the rank of angels, as one abstains from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset.

In general, a Muslim should fast some days every now and then; in these days, one abstains from worldly matters, strengthens his or her resolution, and purifies his or her soul.

… It is recorded in Sunan Abu Dawud that Allah’s Messenger (s) recommended fasting during the Four Sacred Months, among which is the month of Rajab.

As for the month of Sha`ban, there are authentic hadiths about the virtue of fasting during it, among which the hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of `A’ishah (ra) who said, “Allah’s Messenger (s) used to observe fasting (continuously) that we would say he would not break fasting, and he used not to fast (continuously) until we would say he would not fast. And I did not see Allah’s Messenger (s) completing the fast of a month, except Ramadan, and I did not see him fasting more in any other month than in Sha`ban.”

The hadith indicates that the Messenger (s) used to fast many days in Sha`ban that `A’ishah (ra) said in another narration, “He [the Prophet (s)] used to fast (almost) all of Sha`ban; he used to fast Sha`ban except for few (days).”

Except for these two months, Allah’s Messenger (s) used to observe fasting continuously to the extent that people would say that he would not break fasting.

He also used to keep breaking the fast for many consecutive days to the extent that people would say that he would not fast.

So the matter depends on feeling comfortable and devoted to worship without feeling bored or weary. That is why the Prophet (s) said, “Do (good) deeds that are within your capacity, as Allah never gets tired of giving rewards until you get tired of doing good deeds.”

He (s) also said,”The most beloved deed to Allah is the one its doer performs regularly even if it were little.”

Allah Almighty Knows best.

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Islamic Burial at Sea?

May 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Criticism about bin Laden’s sea burial comes for various reasons: failure to comply with Islamic law, a lack of closure, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories.

By Ariel Zirulnick

Uss-Carl-Vinson-Osama-Bin-Ladenaposs-Burial-At-Sea
File:  the USS Carl Vinson, from which Osama Bin Laden is reported to have been buried at sea.

A growing number of disparate parties, from Islamic clerics to the families of 9/11 victims, are criticizing the US decision to bury Osama bin Laden at sea.

The Obama administration said that the US chose to bury bin Laden at sea to prevent his burial site from becoming a shrine and because an unnamed country that the US asked to take his body refused. Because Islamic law mandates burial within 24 hours of death, there was no time for the US to ask other countries, counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said, according to the New York Times.

At a press conference Monday, Mr. Brennan assured reporters that his burial had been conducted “in accordance with the Islamic requirements.”

But in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, the country’s highest Islamic body condemned the burial at sea, Agence France-Presse reports.

“A Muslim, whatever his profession, even a criminal, their rites must be respected. There must be a prayer and the body should be wrapped in white cloth before being buried in the earth, not at sea,” [Indonesia Ulema Council] chief Amidhan said. “Many others have condemned it, especially as it was done with extreme hatred against him.”

Ahmad al-Tayeb, the top cleric of Egypt’s prominent Al Azhar University, also slammed the decision, saying in a statement that it “runs contrary to the principles of Islamic laws, religious values, and humanitarian customs,” according to Iran’s PressTV. Any of the dead deserve full respect, he said, and a corpse will only be respected if it is buried in the ground.

The US defended its procedures, saying that bin Laden’s body was washed and wrapped in a white cloth and “eased” it into the sea.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina criticized the burial on entirely different grounds. To him, rushing to bury bin Laden in order to be in accordance with Islamic law, “may have been sensitivity taken too far,” Fox News reported.

“It would be in our national interests to make a case, [a] documented case, that this was Osama bin Laden. He is dead. I think that would be a smart thing to do, and have it rolled out in a sensitive way, but prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and some people still won’t believe it.” … “This idea of disposing the body within 24 hours because of tradition bothers me a bit because we will be under attack as to whether or not it really was him,” Graham said. “And I’m not so sure that was a wise move. I’d like to hear more about that.”

There are concerns that a burial at sea will spur on conspiracy theories that bin Laden isn’t actually dead, and that’s why the US has no body to show the public. Some of those theories have already begun to surface, particularly in the Arab world. Meanwhile, DNA testing has reportedly provided “99.9 percent certainty” that the person US forces killed was bin Laden, says the government. The US is still debating whether to release the photographs it took of bin Laden before his burial.

Rosaleen Tallon, the sister of a New York firefighter who died in the 9/11 attacks, said that the burial at sea “denied people like her the guarantee of seeing a body and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that Bin Laden was dead,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

But despite vocal criticism, there are likely many people who, while curious about the decision to bury bin Laden at sea, are not critical of it – including in the US Muslim community.

Khalid Latif, New York University chaplain and executive director of the university’s Islamic Center, said in a column for CNN that sharia law also takes into consideration what is best for society – and when held up to that standard, bin Laden’s burial at sea does follow Islamic law.

Humanity on a whole has a right that needs to be considered in regard to bin Laden’s burial. Who would want this man buried next to their loved one? Is it appropriate, especially after he has caused such pain to so many, to put anyone in a situation where they might have to be buried near or next to him?

It also protects his body, Mr. Latif wrote. If bin Laden was buried on land and the location of his body was discovered, there would be the risk not only of the burial site offering an “opportunity for glorification of bin Laden” but also of it being targeted by people still angry over his actions in life.

Christian Science Monitor

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Sec of State Hillary Clinton Praises the Late Imam Tantawi

March 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

From US Dept. of State Website

“I was saddened today to learn of the passing of Grand Imam Mohamed Sayyid Tantawi, the head of al-Azhar University in Cairo.

“Imam Tantawi was a highly respected cleric and the leader of one of the most important institutions of Islamic learning in the world. As President Obama said in Cairo last summer, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning for over a thousand years, and it continues to play a dynamic role today. Imam Tantawi was an important voice for dialogue among religions and communities. Under his leadership, the university co-hosted the President’s speech laying out a vision for a “New Beginning” between the United States and Muslim communities around the world. And Americans will always remember Imam Tantawi for his condemnations of violence after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when he said: “It’s not courage in any way to kill an innocent person.”

“We offer our condolences to the Imam’s family and friends today, as well as his many students in Egypt and in Muslim communities throughout the world.”

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Sheikh Tantawi Passes Away

March 11, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

muhammad_sayyed_tantawi1 Egypt’s top cleric dies, aged 81

Egypt’s foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, has died, aged 81, while on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tantawi was the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar mosque and head of the al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s centre of learning and scholarship.

He died of a heart attack in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he was attending a prize-giving ceremony.

Sheikh Tantawi had infuriated radical Islamists with his moderate views on women wearing the veil.

His body will be taken to the Saudi city of Medina, the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad, for burial, Egyptian authorities said.

An adviser to the Sheikh told Egyptian television Sheikh Tantawi’s death was a shock, as before leaving for Saudi Arabia he had seemed in “excellent shape and health”.

A member of Sheikh Tantawi’s office, Ashraf Hassan, told news agency Reuters that Mohamed Wasel, Sheikh Tantawi’s deputy, was expected to temporarily take over leading the institution until the Egyptian president appointed a new head for the body.

Sheikh Tantawi was appointed to his position by Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in 1996.

But as a government appointee, he was always forced to negotiate a careful path between his religious imperatives and his government position, the BBC’s Christian Fraser in Cairo says.

He was vocal in his opposition to female circumcision, which is common in Egypt, calling it “un-Islamic”.

Last year, Sheikh Tantawi barred female students at the university from wearing the full-face covering niqab veil.

He also caused upset other Muslim scholars by saying that French Muslims should obey any law that France might enact banning the veil.

His views on the veil prompted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to accuse him of “harming the interests of Islam”.

He has also condemned suicide attacks, saying extremists had hijacked Islamic principles for their own ends.

“I do not subscribe to the idea of a clash among civilizations. People of different beliefs should co-operate and not get into senseless conflicts and animosity,” he told a conference in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 2003.

“Extremism is the enemy of Islam. Whereas, jihad is allowed in Islam to defend one’s land, to help the oppressed. The difference between jihad in Islam and extremism is like the earth and the sky,” Sheikh Tantawi said.    

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