Friday, March 11, 2011

E-Book: Minhaj al Muslim in Arabic

Bism Illah wa as salaam alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

We have the English version of the beautiful book, Minhaj al Muslim. It is a treasure chest outlining how we can live according to the Sunnah in virtually every aspect of our lives. For those who read Arabic, here is the link to the book in Arabic. Over time, I will be posting different sections of the book in English, so we can all benefit bi ithn Illah, taala.

Minhaj Al Muslim (Arabic)

E-Book: Some of the Manners of the Prophet

Bism Illah wa as salaamu alaykum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Whenever I come across a decent e-book on the Sunnah, I will post it on the blog. Inshaa'Allah, we can build up a nice library over time, to refer back to and draw beneficial guidance and reminders from.

This is a short book, only 32 pages, about some of the exemplary and beautiful manners of our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Some of the Manners of the Prophet

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Sunnah of Water Usage

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh

A few years ago, we had a problem with our water heating system and had to boil water to wash with for a week or so, mashaa'Allah. Although we did fill the bathtub for the children initially, I had a little brainwave that we could fill a couple of two gallon containers with water mixed to the right temperature and use a cup to pour it over our bodies. From the first time I did it, I felt I was going back to a strong Sunnah of our Prophet, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Oh, my container wasn't a earthen jug or bowl  - it was plastic - but the amount of water I used and the way I made my ghusl reminded me of the ahadith I had read of our beloved Prophet making ghusl from a jug... in fact, sharing the jug with his wife, mashaa'Allah.

Anas said, "The Prophet, upon whom be peace, used to perform ghusl (the complete bathing) with a sa'a of water (1.616 cm) 3 to 5 madd (each 4 madd equals one sa'a). He also used to make ablution with one madd (404 cm) of water." (Related by al-Bukhari and Musim.) Complete bathing would use about 1 bucket of water and ablution, 2 handfuls inshaa'Allah.

'Ubaidullah ibn Abu Yazid narrated that a man asked Ibn 'Abbas, "How much water is sufficient for ghusl?" He answered, "One madd." "And how much is sufficient for ghusl?" He said, "One sa'a." The man said, "That is not sufficient for me." "Ibn 'Abbas said, "No? It was sufficient for one better than you, the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace." (Related by Ahmad, al-Bazaar and at-Tabarani in al-Kabeer. Its narrators are trustworthy.)

'Abdullah ibn 'Umar narrated that the Messenger of Allah passed by Sa'd while he was performing ablution and said, "What is this extravagance, Sa'd?" He said, "Is there extravagance in the use of water?" He said, "Yes, even if you are at a flowing river." (Related by Ahmad and Ibn Majah with a weak chain.)

Extravagance is to use water without any benefit, like washing the parts more than three times. Ibn Shu'aib's hadith, quoted earlier, illustrates the point in question. 'Abdullah ibn Mughaffal narrated that he heard the Prophet say, "There will be people from my nation who will transgress in making supplications and in purifying themselves." (Related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa'i.)

Says al-Bukhari, "The scholars do not like one to use water beyond what the Prophet, upon whom be peace, used for ablution."

Well, our water issue was fixed and we crept back into the usual way of using a good 15-30 gallons of water in the shower to bathe and leaving the water running to make wudhu. But I was never the same again about it; Allah, subhaana wa taala, had put an awareness in my heart about my use of water. I not only understood that it was wasteful, but I saw the worldwide situation where we have wasted water to such an extent that it is in short supply in many places and we are constantly told by environmentalists to conserve it. Subhaan Allah! Following the Sunnah is the most effective way to save our precious resources for the generations to come.
Since then, we have changed our approach to water usage. We can easily use the recommended amount of water to make ghusl. Periodically I keep a bowl beside the sink to regulate the use while making wudhu, too. I put two handfuls of water into the bowl and find my wudhu complete before the water is finished! Every now and then I take a bath, or have a long shower, but it is a luxury and I am conscious of the extravagance. Extravagance in comparison to my neighbors, friends, sisters, or relatives? No. Extravagance in comparison to our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, and what he modeled for us.

There are a few other things I've done to curb my water wastage. I wash the dishes with a soapy sponge and  then rinse them off with slow running cold water. I turn on the shower for a moment to wet myself, then suds up and turn the water back on just to rinse off. I set the tap to a slow trickle, to minimize waste during wudhu and hand washing. If one of the children doesn't finish their water and it hasn't been covered over, I use it for watering plants instead of simply throwing it down the drain.

Oh, you will find plenty of information on the Internet about the importance of water conservation and how to conserve. The issue is, it is Sunnah.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Neem Tree

As salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Had I not thought it difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the Miswak (tooth-stick) before every Salat.'' [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Hudaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) got up (from sleep), he would rub his teeth with Miswak (tooth-stick). [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Here is an article from Natural News on Neem (also called siwak and miswak in stick form). Subhaan Allah, even the West is encouraging us to follow the Sunnah! I'm guilty of leaving my miswak collection in their packs on the shelf... but I think it's time to set an example and get one out! Who wants to join me? Also, let us know if you try any of the other uses listed here inshaa Allah.

Why You Should Get To Know Neem: The Tree of Life

* By Katherine East
Natural News, October 27, 2008
Straight to the Source

(NaturalNews) The Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica) is an incredible plant that has been declared the "Tree of the 21st century" by the United Nations. Also known as the Margosa and native to the Indian subcontinent, it has been revered for centuries in Ayurvedic and Unani medicine. Ancient Hindu manuscripts contain chapters on medicinal plants to have near one's house and the Neem tree is highly recommended. The seeds, bark and leaves contain compounds with proven antiseptic, antiviral, anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer and anti-fungal uses.

Traditional Medicinal Uses:

The entire tree can be used medicinally to treat a whole lot of ailments - probably why it is affectionately known as "the village pharmacy"

.The young twigs are chewed for keeping gums and teeth healthy.
.The rich and potent margosa oil is obtained from crushing the ripe seeds. This amazing oil has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-viral properties. It has even been used to treat leprosy.
.The bark and roots can be made into a tea and has been used for centuries to treat jaundice and liver ailments, intestinal parasites, stomach ulcers and malaria.
.A tea made from the leaves and mature seeds is still a popular remedy today for treating bladder, kidney and prostate ailments. This brewed tea can be added to a base cream and used as a healing, soothing treatment forhaemorrhoids.
.A strong tea of the leaves is used as a lotion for sprains, bruises and swollen glands – a bandage or cloth soaked in the hot tea is applied to the area and held in place, often with a banana leaf wrapped around it.
.As a wash and lotion the same tea is used for eczema, rashes, grazes and scrapes and to wash out wounds. Leaves heated in boiling water are applied to boils, sprains, infected wounds, bites, stings and infected grazes.
.Neem leaf tea (pour 1 cup of boiling water over ¼ cup fresh leaves, stand for 5 minutes, strain and sip slowly), is taken to reduce blood sugar levels, lower fevers, and to treat tuberculosis, bladder ailments, arthritis, rheumatism, jaundice, worms, malaria and skin disease.Neem is also used cosmetically and in toiletries. In India, Neem sprigs are boiled, and the water is then used as a hair wash. Neem hair treatment clears scalp infections and dandruff and stimulates both the growth and texture of the hair and rids the scalp of nits, dry itchy scalp and excessive oiliness. It is very effective in clearing up fungal infections like athletes foot, ringworm and Candida.

Environmentally Safe Natural Insecticide:

One of it's most useful properties is its remarkable powers for controlling insects. The leaves are used in libraries and in government and university documents to protect against insect damage. The chemical azadirachitin is the main ingredient for fighting insects and pests and has been found to be up to 90% effective. This chemical is present in the wood, leaves and seeds and works by disrupting the life cycle of the insect as well as repelling them.

Neem is not an instant killer like we've become accustomed to with chemical pesticides. It works differently and more slowly, so some gardeners may question its usefulness. Neem repells insects and acts as an anti-feedant so an insect would rather starve to death than eat a Neem treated plant. If they do eat the plant, the Neem acts as a contraceptive and the insects do not mate or lay eggs so their life-cycle is broken.
Insects must feed on plant tissues to be affected so Neem-treated plants are safe for beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies. Neem oil makes an effective insect repellent for the home. To get rid of mosquitoes, flies and crawling insects from your house, make a strong tea made by boiling the leaves and twigs for 20 minutes in enough water to cover them (alternatively use 1 teaspoon pure neem oil to 1 cup of water), place in a spray bottle and then spray all around.

Dr. Ram Prakash Srivastava, Neem and Pest Management, International Book distributing Co., 2001
Dr. H.S. Puri, Neem the Divine Tree, Harwood Academic Publishers. 1999

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Sunnah of Giving

BismIllah wa as salaamu alaikum wa Rahmat Allah wa Barakatuh.

Often we talk about clearing out unwanted and unnecessary things, something termed these days as decluttering. We may have even more decluttering to do when turning to more natural materials and products in our homes. Often we give those things to Goodwill or some type of charity. Well, charity reaps huge blessings.

Allah will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: for He loves not creatures ungrateful and sinner.” (Qur‘an, 2: 276)

“That which you give in usury for increase through the property of (other) people, will have no increase with Allah: but that which you give for charity, seeking the Countenance of Allah, (will increase); it is those who will get a recompense multiplied.” (Qur‘an, 30:39)

Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.s.) as saying: “Charity does not in any way decrease the wealth and the servant who forgives, Allah adds to his respect; and the one who shows humility, Allah elevates him in the estimation (of the people).” (Muslim Vol. 4, Hadith 6264)

It is always wonderful to give charity to a fellow Muslim, and I pray that we will be able to benefit others in the Ummah with our charity first. However, giving charity to any person in need is a blessing. Not only that, it can be a beautiful form of da'awah. Lately, in an attempt to find good homes for many unwanted things, I had some ideas that branched beyond dumping bags off at the Goodwill. Insha'Allah, these may be of benefit to others and you may reap the rewards.

- Women in Crisis Shelters (they usually have a wishlist of things they need for their safehouses and also for helping women set up new homes on their own.
- Homeless Shelters (they will often welcome certain items like toiletries, food, clothing, etc.)
- Children's Homes/Orphanages (these always have a wishlist of things they need for the children - and a visit to them is usually a wonderful treat for them.)
- Pediatric and Long-term Care Hospital Wards (often will accept certain games, toys, etc.)
- Retirement and Nursing Homes (you never know until you ask...I've been to one which wanted crafting supplies.)
- Free Clinics (they may welcome some children's books and magazines to occupy patients as they wait, especially as they don't have funding for such luxuries.)

Here are some lesser known ahadith on the practices of the salaf, which really encourage us to give in various ways, insha'Allah

Abdullâh b. Al-Zubayr said, “I have never seen two women more generous than ‘Â`ishah and Asmâ`. They had different ways of being generous. As for ‘Â`ishah, she used to gather things, until she had a collection, then she would distribute it. As for Asmâ`, she would never keep anything until the next day.”

Urwah b. Al-Zubayr – Allah have mercy on him – said: ‘Â’ishah - Allah be pleased with her - gave seventy thousand (dirham) in charity, while her own skirt used to be patched.
‘Abdullah b. Mubârak in Al-Zuhd wa Al-Raqâ’iq Vol. 1 p588, no.705.

Al-Bukhârî, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad. Shaykh Al-Albânî grades its chain of transmission sahîh in Sahîh Al-Adab Al-Mufrad Vol.1 p123. It is reported that there used to be poor people in Al-Madînah who didn’t know where they were getting their food from. When ‘Alî b. Husayn passed away, they started missing what they used to be given at night.

Abû Hamzah Al-Thumâlî narrates that ‘Alî b. Husayn used to carry bread on his back in the darkness of the night and follow the poor people (to give it to them). He used to say, “Charity in the darkness of the night extinguishes the Lords anger.”

‘Amr b. Thâbit reports that when ‘Alî b. Husayn died, they found marks on his back from the sacks of provisions he used to carry at night to the houses of the widows.

Shaybah b. Nu’âmah narrates that when ‘Alî b. Husayn died they found out that he used to provide for a hundred (poor) families.
Al-Dhahabî in Siyar A’lâm Al-Nubalâ’ under the biography of ‘Alî b. Husayn Zayn Al-‘Âbidîn.

So, insha'Allah we will remember in more and more areas of our lives to give what we don't need and try our best to benefit others as effectively as possible - ameen.