Author Archives: Haseen

Annual General Meeting-2018

When:September 16th 2018 at after Maghrib Prayer. Where: Masjid AL- Falah – Westfield

Event: selection of New Board .

The annual General Body Meeting of our society shall take place on September 16th 2018 at 8PM at the community Centre (Masjid – Westfield). This is one of the most
important annual meetings for all of us. The meeting is open to everybody, members or nonmembers. This is the time to know some of the details you might want to know and to ask questions you might have in your mind. All are welcome.

Prayers

PRAYERS
Prayer and supplication is the centerpiece of a Muslim’s day-to-day life. It is clearly stated in the Quran that God created human beings so that they worship Him. Detailed instructions for the prayers came to us from God through his Prophet, Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him, his family and companions). In terms of prayers, there are five daily obligatory prayers and many daily or infrequent optional prayers. The list is as follows:

OBLIGATORY DAILY PRAYERS:
Fajr: This is the first prayer every day, at dawn before any part of the sun is visible or out.
Duhr: This is the afternoon prayer. Every Friday this prayer changes into the congregational Juma’h prayer.
Asr: This is prayed in late afternoon, somewhat in between the afternoon prayer and the sunset.
Maghrib: This is the prayer at sunset, right after it is completely set.
Isha: This is prayed at night after it is dark with the dusk completely over.
OTHER PRAYERS:
Witr: Daily after the Isha prayer but can be delayed until after mid-night before Fajr.
Tahajudd: This is prayed after mid-night before Fajr, ideally after waking up from some sleep.
Ishraq: This is prayed in the morning after sun is completely out.
Janaaza: This is the Muslim funeral prayer.
Taraweeh: This is in the month of Ramadan after the Isha prayer.
Eid-ul-Fitr: This the prayer on the day after the month of Ramadan. It is prayed in the morning after the sun is completely out.
Eid-ul-Adha: This is the prayer on the day of Hajj. It is prayed in the morning after the sun is completely out.
Istisqa: The prayer for rain in case of drought condition. No particular time.
Istikhara: The prayer to seek God’s guidance in case of a difficult decision-making.
Tasbeeh: No particular time. This is the prayer to particularly and repeatedly remember God and His attributes.
Masjid or Mosque: A prayer for visiting a mosque.
HOW TO PRAY – AN OVERVIEW
For a Muslim, prayer is a formal way of maintaining a link and communication with God. The following general etiquettes apply to all prayers:

Sanity of mind:

One has to have an understanding of what one is doing for a prayer to be valid and acceptable. One is supposed not to pray in case of any alteration of mind for any reason to the extent of clouding ones thinking and thought process. For this reason, for example, a patient with dementia, if severe enough, might be excused from the requirement of compulsory praying

Proper Intention:

Ones intention should be clear and valid. Prayers are only to God and they are performed only because He told us to do so. Their benefit, if He grants, is also only to us.

Physical Cleanliness:

Cleanliness of body, clothing and the place of prayer are the basic requirements of every prayer. We are required to wash our whole body (Ghusl) or a part of it (Wudu), depending upon the circumstances. In brief, Ghusl is required after intimacy, a sexual or a menstrual discharge, and is also recommended before some important prayers such as Juma’h, Eid, or Hajj. Wudu is required after waking up from sleep, or in case of urination, defecation or flatus.

Whole Body Wash or Ghusl:

It is done in private for each individual. Washing the whole body and hairs, including the areas washed during Wudu such as cleaning of nostrils and mouth, is part of the requirement. It is recommended not to waste more water than a reasonable amount.

Wudu:

Briefly, one starts with washing the hands followed by cleaning and washing the mouth and nostrils. Washing the face and arms including elbows follows this. Head, back of neck and ears are cleaned with wet hands, and feet are washed up to the ankles. Washing is generally done for three times each. Only clean water is used and it is recommended not to waste water. In case water or appropriate water is not available for Ghusl or Wudu, one is permitted to clean oneself using a clean dry surface, sand or even dirt in a particular manner, which is called Tayyamum. This is a special relaxation for special circumstances. The concept here is spiritual cleaning more than physical cleaning.

Proper Dress:

A man covers the body at least from naval to below-knee level. A woman covers the whole body except the face and hands.

Clean Place:

A space clear of any obvious trash or anything we may consider unclean is recommended. Other than that, no particular place is required. One could pray inside or outside, on the floor or carpet, on the grass, gravel, road, sand or even clean dirt. Nowadays, people routinely use a mat, a rug or a piece of cloth or a paper for cleanliness. The space should also be free or away from any animal, human or fictional statues, or their figures or pictures.

Proper Physical Direction:

Face is always towards the Kaaba (the first mosque built on earth), which is in the city of Makkah (Mecca), present day Saudi Arabia (21°25’26″N 39°49’27″E).

Proper Timings:

All obligatory and many optional prayers are performed at their particular timings. It is not recommended to delay an obligatory prayer without any valid reason. At the same time, there is ample flexibility to delay or combine prayers in certain circumstances. The only times, when it is recommended to avoid a formal prayer is the time when the sun is coming out until it is completely out, when the sun is at its highest point and when the sun has started to set, until it is completely set.

Individual or Congregational Prayer:

A prayer in congregation is always preferred and recommended and is many times better than praying individually. Certain prayers are valid only in a congregation, such as Juma’h prayer. If missed, one only prays the regular Duhr prayer instead. In usual congregational prayers, men and women are physically separated.

Men and Women Prayers:

In general, there is no difference in the details of praying between men and women, except a few relaxations given to women. Women do not pray during menses or after childbirth. Also, they may pray at home if they prefer and the Juma’h prayer is not obligatory upon them.

The Concepts of Obligatory, Recommended or Optional Parts of Prayers:

For each of the five daily prayers, some portions are obligatory, some recommended (some highly recommended and some usually recommended) and some optional. Obligatory portions are the ones without which a prayer is not valid. Recommended are the ones that the Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) always performed (highly recommended) or usually performed (usually recommended). Optional are extra, which he might have performed at some times. The technical or Arabic terms for these parts are Fard (obligatory), Sunnah (recommended) and Nafl (optional). These concepts may vary a little based upon different religious schools of thought.

Briefly speaking, the formal activity of each prayer is divided into two or four continuous portions or “rakaas”. Following is some of the detail of rakaas in each daily prayer:

Fajr 2 Sunnah 2 Fard
Duhr 4 Sunnah 4 Fard 4 or 2 Sunnah
Asar 4 Sunnah 4 Fard
Maghrib 3 Fard 2 Sunnah 2
Isha 4 Fard 2 Sunnah followed by the Witr prayer
Special Circumstances:

In certain circumstances, such as during travel or Hajj, it is recommended to shorten the number of rakaas for obligatory prayers or combine some prayers.

All prayers, except supplications, are performed in Arabic. Part of the recitation always includes at least a few verses of the Quran. For details of the words and verses recited, it is better to consult a book or a knowledgeable Muslim. It is our intention, God-willing, to have that detail on this site. Until then, “The Beginner’s Book of Salah” by Ghulam Sarwar (ISBN 0 907261 39 6) is a good start. It is written for English speaking people. Feel free to contact or visit our center or any local mosque for further help and guidance.

FASTING

FASTING
Fasting is one of the fundamental elements of Islamic faith. Muslims are told that fasting is prescribed to them as it was prescribed to other or previous nations. Like the compulsory and optional prayers, there is compulsory and optional fasting. Most of the description here is about the compulsory or obligatory fasting in the month of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. As Islamic calendar follows rotation of moon around the earth, or it is a lunar calendar, which is about 10 days shorter than the conventional or solar calendar, Ramadan comes 10 days earlier every year than the previous year. Muslims all over the globe generally follow the same calendar except some disagreement about the 1st and last day of Ramadan, which is discussed later.

Fasting is for adults though children or early teens are encouraged to fast. Travelers or people with sickness can be excused from fasting. Women during menstruation and labor are also excused. They all are advised to either fast after the situation is changed or resolved or do the compensatory charity, depending upon the particular situation.

The month of Ramadan starts with sighting of the new moon, which has become the source of the difference of opinion. Unlike the old times, when the only way to determine if the new month has started was to find out if the new moon has been sighted or not, there are ways now to precisely determine when the moon may be sighted, even if it is an overcast sky. In practice, some people still follow the old tradition and start the month of Ramadan based upon the Local Moon-sighting. Many others start the month if it is reliably sighted anywhere in the world, the so-called Global Moon-sighting. In our center, we follow the Global Moon-sighting.

The Ramadan starts right at the sighting of the moon and Muslims enter into a special physical and spiritual mode or state of mind for the next whole month. Starting with the same evening, they also start a special congregational prayer, the Taraweeh prayer, after the regular Isha prayer. Nowadays, you may notice more people coming to a masjid in Ramadan, including for this prayer, than other months.

The special congregational or Taraweeh prayer in Ramadan is performed at night after the Isha prayer. It may have 8 to 20 rakaas. The tradition is to recite longer portions of the Quran in each rakaa than what is normally done. The Quran was revealed or conveyed to the prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of God be upon him) through the angel Gibraeel (Gabrial) (may peace be upon him) and it was specially repeated and practiced in the month of Ramadan. Muslims all around the Globe, in the Taraweeh prayer, try to do something similar and recite or listen to the whole Quran in 20-30 days. All along the history, to this day, there have been people who have memorized the whole Quran, the Huffaaz (plural) and Hafiz (singular), who lead this prayer. In some places, they take it even to a higher level and read another set of Quran only during the last 10 days, after finishing one in the first 20. Typical Taraweeh prayer lasts for 2-3 hours.

Fasting, described simply, is abstaining from eating, drinking and intimacy from dawn to dusk. In reality, it is much more demanding and involved. One has to be constantly God conscience and avoid anything that God has prohibited or disliked for us. This may be described as not using our eyes to see something we are not supposed to see, our ears to hear something we are not supposed to hear, our hands to do something that they are not supposed to do, our feet to go somewhere we are not supposed to go and our mind, time and effort to use it in a way we are told to avoid. We are asked to spend time in God’s remembrance and perform more than the usual compulsory prayers. We are asked to read and recite the Quran and reflect on it. We are asked to be extra generous with our charities, especially to our families and neighbors, maintain our relationships and pay the Zakat if we have not already paid. We are asked to feed the hungry and help the travelers and prisoners. Ramadan in fact is an opportunity or blessing given to us every year to change our life and life-style altogether.

Every day in Ramadan starts with waking up in wee hours and a meal, the so-called Suhoor or Sehri. We are not used to eating at that time and some even like to avoid it. We are told that there is special blessing in eating that meal, even if it is just a small amount or a few dates and water, and it is strongly recommended. In most Muslims households and localities though, Suhoor is a festive looking time. The whole neighborhoods wake up, sometime even making sure that others have waken up, and make and enjoy meals that they might not regularly make except for this particular time. In non-Muslim countries, the same happens, though on a smaller family scale.

The meal at the end of a fast has also become ceremonial and is more noticeable even in non-Muslim environment. Typically, the fast ends with sunset and it is recommended to break it by eating or drinking something, as soon as possible. It is not recommended to delay it further. After breaking the fast and before the formal dinner, there is Maghrib prayer. Over the years and centuries, Muslims all around the globe, depending upon their own taste and cuisines, have developed certain special dishes and meals that they make for breaking the fast and the dinner afterwards. Out of affection to the prophet, may peace and blessings of God be upon him, the two items common to all these might be the plain water and a few dates.

The Ramadan ends with the sighting of the next moon, leading to one of the two major celebrations or holidays for Muslims, the Eid-ul-Fitr, which translates into celebration of charity. To mark this day, an obligatory charity is due upon every able leader of the household on behalf of every person in the house, including the one who might have born that same morning. This charity is only valid if disposed before the Eid prayer that day and ideally is delivered to the local need