Back again with the Islamic bookclub! I’ll post a summary of each chapter of an Islamic book I’m reading, so you get the rundown without ever picking it up!
This is all about the Islamic Holy Days…
Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin
“Our daily devotion is the ritual prayer (salah); our weekly devotion is the Friday congregation; our annual devotion is fasting (swam) the month of Ramadan; and the devotion of a lifetime is the Pilgrimage (Hajj).” [pg.170]
The months, in the Islamic calendar, are based on the lunar calendar which is based on the moon’s orbit around the Earth and is used for devotional use.
“The sun represents the daytime, the time of work and employment, seeking out the bounties and provisions of God. The moon represents the night, the time of intense worship in which servants draw nearer to their Lord, seeking provisions for the next life.
“God ﷺ, in His wisdom, decreed that the solar calendar be always predictable and calculable.
As a natural phenomenon, lunar months vary in length between twenty-nine and thirty days.
This element of unpredictability reminds us that our duty to God is a matter of surrender, not convenience.” [pg 171]
During the Muslim year, a day starts at sunset and ends with the next sunset; for example, if Friday begins with the sunset on Thursday, then “Friday night” will come before the daytime portion of Friday.
“Believers! When the call to pray is made on the day of congregation [Friday], hurry towards the reminder of God and leave off your trading–that is better for you, if you only knew.” -Quran 62:9
“The Salat al-Jumu’ah consists of two main parts: a sermon (khutbah) and the Friday prayer (salah) that takes place at midday. Note that, unlike the Jewish and Christian Sabbaths, the holy day of Muslim is not a day of required rest or abstention from work.” [pg.173]
“The masjid is a sacred space, a House of God, and a special set of etiquettes is associated with visiting it.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us to pray a voluntary prayer called the Mosque Salutation upon entering the prayer area of a mosque.
The main part of every mosque is the prayer area, a large carpeted area with no furniture, where believers congregate and pray. The carpet is ritually clean, and great care is great taken to maintain this cleanliness. For this reason, no shoes are worn inside the prayer area, since they may track in filth (najasah).” [pg. 173]
The prayer leader (imam) stands in a prayer niche, dented section of the wall, to lead the congregation. Beside that, is a podium where the imam delivers the sermon. The mosque had designed a way to stand by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The imam is in the front, the men in the middle, and the women in the back. Some mosques have a wall separating the men and women, but that was not practiced by Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself.
Every Muslim male is required to go to the Friday Congregational Prayer, but it is commendable that women attend.
“In it, the imam reminds the faithful of their duties to God ﷺ , usually selecting a topic of religious life to highlight.
During the intermission, petitions to God for His forgiveness are particularly accepted, and so the congregation all silently ask for forgiveness.
Next the prayer caller announces the Call to Rise (Iqamah), to commence the prayer portion of the Friday (Jumu’ah) Congregational Prayer.” [pg.175]
This prayer replaces Dhuhr, or Midday prayer, for those who go to the mosque.
“It is haram to speak, even in a whisper or in reply to a greeting, during the sermon. One is to sit attentively and face the imam who is delivering the sermon. Also, it is recommended that you listen to the sermon as if it were directed toward you, personally, so as to maximize your benefit from hearing its counsel.
It is commendable to groom yourself on Friday before the prayer by clipping your nails, trimming your mustache, and taking a ghusl. It is also commendable for men to scent themselves beautiful. You should wear your best clothing, white in color.” [pg. 176]
On Friday, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ responds to our blessings and salutations himself:
“Increase your recitation of blessings (salawat) upon me on Friday, because on this day the angels present themselves to me. Any servant of God who sends salawat upon me, his voice will reach me, no matter where he is.” [pg. 177]
“A time of self-deprivation and abstaining, Ramadan reminds us what the less fortunate experience, and we are consequently even more compelled to come to their aid for the sake of God.
It is the month of charity (sadaqah) with a particular emphasis on feeding the poor.
During Ramadan, every mustahab act is given the reward of a fard act, and every fard act is multiplied seventyfold.” [pg. 178]
This is why it is called the Month of Worship.
One night during Ramadan, every devotional act is rewarded more than an act that was performed for a thousand months!
This day is called Laylat al-Qadr, or the Night of Glory, and was the first time God (pbuh) sent Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the first revelation of the Quran.
No one knows what day this actually is, we only know that it is sometime in the last ten days of Ramadan.
Because of this, most Muslims will intensify their devotional worship for the last ten days.
“We have sent it down on the Night of Glory. What will explain to you what the Night of Glory is? The Night of Glory is better than a thousand months; on that night the angels and the Spirit descend again and again with their Lord’s permission on every task. Peace it is until the rising dawn.” -Quran 97:1-5
“The month of Ramadan is also called the month of the Quran. This is partly because the revelation of the Quran began in Ramadan, but also because Ramadan is the time of study, recitation, and reflection upon the Quran.” [pg.179]
No one knows how many rak’ah the prayer actually is. All we know is that the most dominant opinion is that it is composed of twenty rak’ah prayed as ten sets of two each. Another opinion holds it to be eight rak’ah.
“It is fard, for those who are financially able, to donate the value equivalent of one Arabian sa’ (approximately 2.3 kilograms) of foodstuff. This amount may be given to those in need up to two days before the Festival of Completing the Fast (‘Id al-Fitr) and should be given before the Festival Prayer (Salat al-‘Id). In Muslim communities, masjids and charitable organizations tend to facilitate this process by collecting the money and distributing it those in need.” [pg. 180]
It is a day celebrating a month filled with devotion to God (pbuh) and a day of joy and festivities, and is usually a time of visiting to share the occasion with relatives, community elders, and other loved ones.
“After praying the Fajr Prayer of the day of ‘Id, you should perform a ghusl and wear new clothes, or your best clothes you have. Before leaving for Salat al-‘Id, a special prayer for this day, you should have a small bite to eat, such as a few dates. On the way to the prayer service, you should invoke God repeatedly by saying Allahu Akbar (God is greater!). Enhanced variations of this invocation can be used, but in general, this is the glorification you should recite until you reach the place of the prayer service and the imam arrives.” [pg. 181]
The difference between this prayer and the Friday prayer is that the prayer takes place before the sermon!
Each rak’ah begins with the proclamation Allahu Akbar, it is said seven times in the first rak’ah and five times in the second rak’ah.
“The Festival of Sacrifice is celebrated on the tenth day of the Month of Pilgrimage (Dhul Hijjah), the twelfth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
For believers who are not performing pilgrimage, it is commendable (mustahab) to fast the nine days before the Festival, with a particular emphasis on the ninth day of the month–the day when the pilgrims are standing on Mount ‘Arafah.” [pg. 182]
It is sunnah to sacrifice a lamb on this day, or pay an organization to sacrifice one for you!
The meat is given to the needy and loved ones.
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