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Fasting and YogaIn nature cure, one of the very important tools for health and disease cure is fasting.
Many people are learning the trick of curing their colds, headaches, nervous spells and other acute troubles by missing a few meals or taking a short fast. It is the simplest and the most efficient way of relieving the overloaded and “food-poisoned” system. You would be surprised to know how little food is actually required to keep the individual healthy.
One of the commonest complaints of the sick is that they have “lost their appetite”. In fact, the greatest blessing to them would be to lose their appetite long enough to find their hunger. Loss of appetite is an indication that the system is overcharged with toxins and nature is trying to correct this by giving a chance to the waste accumulation in the organs to escape from the system.
Fasting as a remedy is fully in harmony with the “nature-cure” philosophy of the cause of disease. If the disease is created by an abnormal accumulation of toxins in the system, it stands to reason that fasting will help in their elimination from the system. The membranous linings of the stomach and intestine which act as a “sponge” to absorb food materials are now “squeezed” to throw out the waste matter from the system.

Exercises While Fasting

The idea prevails that during a prolonged fast one should have complete rest. This however, is a serious mistake. There is no reason why one should not take the usual amount of or accomplish the accustomed daily tasks, provided, these do not strain the physical and mental energy to the point of exhaustion.

Source: http://www.healthandyoga.com/html/fasting.html

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How Tos of Fasting

The Obligation

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah’s commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek Allah’s mercy, to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes and to avoid condemnation to Hell.

It is done out of deep love for God, with a genuine virtue of devotion, honest dedication and closeness to Allah, for Fasting is for Allah and Him alone.

The fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every adult, sane, and able Muslim.

Denial of the obligatory nature of fasting in the month of Ramadan amounts to disbelief.

One who avoids fasting without genuine reasons is a sinner and transgressor according to Islamic Shariah (Law).

Time: When to fast

Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from three primal physical needs of human beings- food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn (approximately one and a half hours before sunrise) to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.

Who is exempted from fasting

1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;

2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fasting and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them;

3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fasting and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer at least one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person day.

4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by fasting. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and makeup for it, a day for a day;

5. People expecting hardship. Such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Quran says, to keep the fast if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;

6. Expectant women and women nursing their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time, a day for a day;

7. Women in periods of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days). They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it, a day for day.

The How To’s of Fasting

Niyyah or Intention of Fast

To observe the fast, the intention of fasting is essential (Wajib). The intention should be made daily, preferably before dawn of each day of fasting (in Ramadan).

Provision is made if someone has forgotten to express his intention before dawn. In such a case one is allowed to express intention of fasting before noon to avoid the invalidation of the fast.

The wording of Niyyah may be as follows:

“I intend to observe fast for today.”

Suhoor

Suhoor is a light, predawn meal, recommended before actually fasting. It is a blessing and hence recommended but not essential.

Any consumption of food or drink should cease at least five to ten minutes before the onset of dawn.

Iftar

Iftar is an Arabic term meaning breaking the fast immediately after the sunset. Iftar is a light snack consisting of dates or desserts, along with liquids, such as water, juice or milk.

This is eaten after making the following Dua (supplication) for breaking the fast:

“Oh Allah!  I fasted for your sake and I am breaking my fast from the sustenance You blessed me with, accept it from me.”

What breaks the fast

  1. Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking during the fasting.
  2. Any injection which has some nutritional value.
  3. Beginning of menstruation or post natal birth bleeding (even in the last moment of sunset).

The conditions mentioned above invalidate fasting and require “Qada” (making up only the missed day or days). However, intentional intercourse during the hours of fasting invalidates fasting and not only requires “Qada” but also additional penalty (Kaffara-see the explanation of this below).

What does not break the fast

  1. Eating or drinking by mistake, unmindful of the fast.
  2. Unintentional vomiting.
  3. Swallowing things which are not possible to avoid, such as one’s own saliva, street dust, smoke, etc.
  4. Brushing the teeth.
  5. Bathing: if water is swallowed unintentionally, it does not invalidate the fast. However, while fasting gargling should be avoided.
  6. Injection or I/V (Intravenous) which is solely medicinal and not nutritional.
  7. In some special circumstances if the food or drink is just tasted and immediately removed out of the mouth without allowing it to enter into the throat.

Kaffara

During the fasting period, if one deliberately breaks his or her fast, s/he must free one slave, or fast for sixty continuous days, or feed sixty needy persons, or spend in charity an amount equal to feeding sixty persons.

If one chooses to fast sixty days and the continuity is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, one has to start the sixty day cycle all over again.

Breaking of the fast under exceptional conditions

Muslims are permitted to break their fast of Ramadan when there is a danger to their health.

In this situation a Muslim should make up his/her fast later. The missed fast(s) can be made up at any other time of the year, either continuously or intermittently, except on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and the day of Eid-ul-Adha

Tarawih

These are special Sunnah prayers in the month of Ramadan. They follow the Isha prayers.  A minimum of eight and a maximum of twenty Rakat are offered in pairs of two.

Lailat al-Qadr

Amongst the nights of Ramadan, there is one special night of Power (Qadr) which is highlighted in Surah al-Qadr (Surah 97 in the Quran).

It has the significance of being better than a thousand months (Quran 97:3).

This was the night when Quran was revealed to mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended Muslims search for this night of Power (Qadr) in the odd nights of the last ten nights in Ramadan.

Muslims spend the night in Ibadah (worship), asking forgiveness of their sins and reciting the Quran.

Source: http://www.soundvision.com/info/ramadan/howfast.asp

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Shab-i-Miraj means the night of Ascent. It is the blessed night when the Holy Prophet of Islam was spiritually transported to heaven and he reached a high stage of nearness to God Almighty which is beyond ordinary human comprehension. The Ascent took place on 27th day or Rajab, 2 years before Hijra. The journey was not with a physical body but was a vision of the highest type. On the way the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, met Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and some other Prophets. The purpose of the Ascent was to confirm the high status of the Prophet of Islam, a position which all Muslims believe, is impossible to attain by any other human being. It is related that even Gabriel, the Angel who was accompanying the Holy Prophet remarked at one stage, ‘I am forced to stop here. I cannot go any further, but you O Messenger of peace and friend of the Master of the worlds, continue your glorious ascent.’

It is also related that the Holy Prophet continued his journey until he reached very close to the Throne of God Almighty and attained the utmost nearness to Him. After having drunk fully at the Divine fountain of spiritual knowledge he came down to impart the knowledge to mankind.

It was on this journey, that five daily prayers were made obligatory upon Muslims.

Celebrations:
According to popular belief, the Miraj or Spiritual Ascension took place on 27 of Rajab. On this day, in some Muslim countries the houses and streets and specially the mosques are decorated with colorful pennants and buntings, and at night they are well illuminated by means of electric lights, candles or even oil lamps. As evening approaches the worshippers assemble in the mosques and engage themselves in glorifying the Lord and in singing hymns in His praise and in praise of the Holy Prophet. Public meetings are also held generally after Isha Prayer in larger mosques where speakers throw light on the spiritual status of the Holy Prophet, and various aspects of his life. The story of his spiritual ascension is narrated in detail. After the meetings sweets are generally distributed. Muslims of means give money in charity and also distribute food among the poor. The devoted ones spend the whole night in the remembrance of God.

Q.1. (i) What is the reality behind Shab-e-Meraj? Did our Prophet visit Baitul Maqdas and the skies and see the paradise and hell and meet other Prophets there? How could he meet the Prophets there when he had led them in prayer in Baitul Maqdas, a short while ago the same night? Had those Prophets whom he met over the skies, also reached there by riding the Burraq?

ii) What is Burraq? Is it a heavenly animal? Does it look like a horse with flying wings? Is it scientific and rational?

iii) Did the Prophet travel in Meraj while awake or in his dream, like some scholars say? Did he see Allah? Does the event find mention in Qur’an and Hadith? How should the Muslims celebrate Shab-e-Meraj?

…Mohammad Burhanuddin; Hubli.

Ans. The word Me’raj (Ascent of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is derived from Urooj, which means, ‘height’, ‘ascension’. It occurs in Hadith. The Qur’anic word for the event is ‘Israa’, meaning ‘the journey’. The event is briefly mentioned in the Qur’an, its detailed provided by Hadiths while the people’s fantasies add the usual garnishing. Taken from Qur’an and Hadiths the essential details of the event (with necessary explanation and discussions) are as follows;

The Heart Operation
Archangel Jibriel alongwith two other angels visited the holy Prophet (Pbuh) one night, while he was asleep in the Hateem part of Ka’abah. The angel then operated upon his heart and made some changes probably because the material body could not withstand the space travel with the required velocity without certain protection. The related part of the narration reads; ‘… Jibriel among them took upon himself to make a cut from the throat down to a part below the heart of the Prophet till he emptied the chest and the stomach. Then with his hands he washed it with Zamzam water till the stomach was cleaned. Then was brought a golden tray in which was a golden light filled with faith and wisdom. Pouring it inside, the chest and the veins of throat were filled up. Then the opened part was closed…’ (Bukhari)

By incorporating the changes in the body system, his body was probably converted from material into Noorani (lightening) body to withstand the journey of space. It may be remembered that the material bodies of people destined for heavens would also be changed to lightening bodies after The Maidaan-e-Hash’r (The place of great gathering) before taking them to heavens.

Burraq
After the transformation of the body, a conveyance named Burraq was presented before him. Burraq, the narration says, resembled a horse-like animal but its very name indicates that it also possessed a lightening body. The word Burraq is derived from the root Bar’q which means ‘electricity’ in Arabic. Burraq signifies that he had to be taken with the velocity of Bar’q that is electricity or light which is 300,000 km per second.

In the Mosque of Jerusalem
No wonder, within no time he reached Baitul Maqdis or Masjid-e-Aqsa. The Qur’an has summarised the event in one verse; ‘Exalted is He (Allah) who took his bondsman (Muhammad) for a journey by night from Masjid-il-Haram (Ka’abah) to Masjid-il-Aqsa (the Mosque in Jerusalem), the neighbourhood whereof we have blessed, in order that we might show him our signs…’ (17:1)

In Baitul Maqdis, the Prophet (Pbuh) led in prayer, all the earlier Prophets who were gathered for the occasion (naturally in their Barzakm or transitional and transcendental bodies). The journey from one holy Mosque to the other and the Prophet leading signifying that the inheritance of Divine leadership was being transferred to him from Bani Israel who no more deserved the honour.

Towards Heavens and Beyond
From there, he was raised to the heavens where he again met and conversed with different Prophets. Then came the most honoured moment of the journey as he was elevated to a point beyond heavens, called Sidrat-ul-Muntaha. What he observed there is described in Qur’an in the following words; ‘One free from any defect in body and mind then He (‘) rose and became stable, While he was in the highest part of the horizon. Then he approached and came closer and was at a distance of two bows length or (even) closer. So, He (Allah) revealed to his bondsman (Muhammad) whatever he revealed. The Prophet’s heart lied not in what he saw. Will you then dispute with him (Muhammad) about what he saw? And indeed, he (Muhammad) saw him at a second descent near Sidrat-ul-Muntaha. Near it is Paradise of Abode. When that covered the Sidrah, which did cover it, the sight (of Prophet Muhammad) turned not aside nor it transgressed beyond the limit. Indeed he (Muhammad) did see of the greatest signs of his Lord (Allah)?. (53:6-18)

Whom did he meet? Allah or Jibriel?
There has been difference of opinion among scholars right from the days of Sahaba about whom the Prophet (Pbuh) met and saw at the place beyond heavens and horizon. Some say he saw Allah while others opine that he saw Jibriel in his original form. Ibne Abbas swore by the earlier while the Prophet’s wife Aisha strongly reprimanding the idea of physical sighting of Allah, favoured the latter opinion.

Both these assumptions invite serious apprehensions that could not be answered satisfactorily. Did the Prophet set eyes on Allah Quran says; ?No (material) vision can grasp him?. (6:103) When Prophet Musa (A.S) expressed his desire to see the Almighty, he said; ?You can not (bear to) see me (in your material mould)?. (7:143). Those supporting the ‘saw Him’ theory say that it was an exclusive honour of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) alone and an exception that the Lord appeared for him. It may also be argued in the light of what I have written above that the holy Prophet, during Me’raj was in a spiritual mould. What goes against the idea of Allah’s appearance before the Prophet then’ Well, primarily the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself never claimed seeing Allah, while narrating the events of Me’raj. If he had, it would have been the most important part worth description. Secondly, none of the companions insisting on ‘Deedar’ (sighting) ascribe the claim to the Prophet. Instead, they say so based on conjectures. Thirdly, the Prophet’s wives should have been the first to be privy to such information if it was true. Not only none of them narrated thus but also Hazrat Aisha strongly denounced and even reprimanded such claims. Fourthly, the description in Qur’an, of the person, whom the Prophet (Pbuh) met in Me’raj seems too materialistic to fit the conception of Allah. Read them again; ‘.. Then he approached and came closer and was at a distance of two bows length or (even) closer..? And lastly, the Prophet himself denied that he saw Allah in Me’raj; ‘Narrated Abuzar that he asked the Prophet (Pbuh); Did you see your Lord? He replied; He is Noor. How can I see Him.? (Muslim)

The second theory of seeing Jibriel in his real form is also very unlikely. It is an anticlimax of a very extraordinary miracle described with much importance by Qur’an and Hadith. Seeing Hazrat Jibriel, a frequent visitor to the Prophet (Pbuh) (even in his original form) would not have been such a big event. The traditions also say that Hazrath Jibriel was not permitted to accompany the Prophet to Sidratul-Muntaha. He alone was elevated upto the all-important destination and hence the question of his seeing Jibriel there does not arise.

If neither Allah nor Jibriel, then who was he, whom the Prophet met there? Naturally some personage who is in between them both in stature, Haqeeqat-e-Ahmadi, of whom Muhammad r was a part and material manifestation. The Prophet (Pbuh) was informed and shown his own spiritual reality at Sidrat-ul-Muntaha. The Qur’an briefly mentions only the following; ‘So He (Allah) revealed to his bondsman (Muhammad) whatever he revealed… Indeed he (Muhammad) did see of the greatest signs of his Lord (Allah)’.

(And surely Allah alone knows the absolute truth.)

The Five times a day Salaat was ordained for the Ummah on the occasion. The Prophet (Pbuh) was also shown Paradise and Hell during the journey. After the great event he was again taken back to Ka’abah. The whole journey was completed within the night.

After the detail of the event, the answer to the uncovered parts of the question is the following.

Other Prophets also travelled by Burraq
1. The other Prophets, whom Prophet met, were also there with their transcendental bodies, which could travel in space as he did. They also travelled back to heavens from Baitul Maqdis with the help of their Burraqs at lightning velocities. There is a mention of other Prophets also possessing Burraqs in Muslim, in the Hadith describing Me’raj, reported by Anas Bin Malik.

Nothing Unscientific
ii) Hadiths clearly state that Burraq is a mute-like animal. There is no mention of wings. Only earthly animals with material bodies need wings to fly against the gravitational force. The basic constituent of Burraq’s body, as the word indicates, is electrical energy, instead of the elements of earth. There is nothing unscientific about this. The realities pertaining to the subjects which science has not covered yet cannot be termed unscientific. Science has not comprehended till date, the subject of spirits and spiritual bodies. There are a large number of Allah’s creations that are invisible to human eyes, as human sight can only comprehend the matter and not energy. The angels and the Jinns possess non-material bodies constituted of light and heat energies. The existence of other beings should not be unbelievable.

Neither Dream Nor Awake
iii) The Qur’an in Surah Israa, in which the advent is mentioned, indicates the state in which the Prophet (Pbuh) was carried to his journey. It says; ‘… And we made not the vision which we showed you, but a trial for mankind..’ (17:60)

It was neither a dream nor the state of wakefulness in the material sense. The Qur’anic word for the vision is ‘Ru’ya’ which is different from a dream. We find in one of the Hadiths describing Me’raj thus; ‘… They (the angels) came in such a state that the heart (of the Prophet) was seeing them. The eyes were asleep but the heart was awake. Likewise, the eyes of (all) the Prophets sleep but their hearts do not sleep..’ (Bukhari; Kitab-ut-Tauhid; Narration of Abu Hurairah)

The above narration of Me’raj in Bukhari, which is a very lengthy one, ends with the following words; ‘..And when he (Muhammad r woke up, he was in Masjid-il-Haram (Ka’abah).’ (Ibid).

So, the material body of the Prophet (Pbuh) was in a state of sleep after the Me’raj, while during the vision his transcendental body actually visited the places and witnessed the signs of Allah. In sleep he was taken and to sleep he was returned before and after the journey. During the journey, he was not asleep. He saw and witnessed everything with a transcendental body and with eyes, which were not material. Such is the vision of Prophets.

The Veracity of 27th Rajab
About the celebration, I must point out that there is not a single Hadith or authentic narration certifying the popular belief about 27th Rajab being the date of Me’raj. There are differences among scholars regarding the date, month and also the year of Me’raj. However, there is nothing against praying and glorifying the Lord and remembering the Prophet (Pbuh) on a particular night. At worst, it would be a distortion of a date in history, if the date is not actually true. It certainly is not a Bid’at unless the prayers of 27th Rajab are assumed to be obligatory part of Deen.

Source: http://www.islamicvoice.com/december.98/dialogue.htm