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  1. The best way to learn about something unfamiliar is to experience it firsthand. If you've never been to a country with a sizable Muslim population, consider booking a trip. Here are 10 destinations that will give you a better perspective on Islam and will just generally make for an awesome trip. Image source: International Link Tours 1. Indonesia Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world — about 87% of the country is Muslim. Besides surfing in Bali, which is just one of Indonesia's more than 13,000 islands, you can explore one of its eight World Heritage Sites, hike in the rainforest, visit active volcanoes, see ancient human fossils and snorkel in the coral reefs. In addition to the Great Mosque of Demak, one of the oldest in Indonesia, you can also see Hindu and Buddhist temples and remnants of the Dutch colonial history. 2. India Although only about 14% of the country is Muslim, India has the second-largest Muslim population in the world. The Taj Mahal is a world-renowned example of Islamic art built during the Mughal Empire and just one of the hundreds of tourist sites in the country. Charminar in Hyderabad is a mosque believed to have one minaret, or tower, for each of the four earliest caliphs, or leaders, of Islam. Pilgrims often travel to visit some of the many Islamic holy sites in India, as well as the Hindu temples. 3. Malaysia About 60% of the population in Malaysia is Muslim. The Prophet Muhammad's birthday is a national holiday, along with the Chinese New Year, Deepavali (the Hindu festival of lights, also called Diwali) and Christmas. In addition to the twin Petronas towers, you can visit the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia, many mosques, caves, beaches and nature reserves, including an elephant orphanage. 4. Morocco Morocco's population is considered 99% Muslim and has the 11th largest Muslim population in the world. From buying all kinds of crafts in the souk, or market, in Marrakesh, to camping with Berbers in the desert, to enjoying the coastal views in Rabat and ancient architecture in the Atlas Mountains, as well as sampling traditional food cooked in a tagine (clay pot), Morocco is enchanting. 5. Oman Oman is 88% Muslim. Check out the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Royal Opera House and enjoy one of the most diverse environments in the Middle East. Oman has beaches, caves and even mountains. The capital, Muscat, was named one of the best cities in the world to visit by Lonely Planet, as well as the capital of Arab tourism in 2012. 7. Turkey Turkey has the seventh-largest Muslim population in the world. While the U.S. State Department has a travel warning issued for Turkey, Istanbul is at the crux of where East meets West. Turkey is home to breathtaking landscapes, such as the World Heritage Site of the fairy-like caves of Cappadocia, and the stunning architecture of the Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Cruise down the Bosphorus between two continents, eat delicious Mediterranean food and try the national liquor Raki, made from grapes and aniseed. here it is Best Muslim Countries for Holidays 8. Algeria Algeria has the ninth-largest Muslim population in the world — 98% of the population is Muslim. The Grand Mosque is one of North Africa's most significant Islamic landmarks. You can also see many sites of well-preserved Roman, Byzantine and Phoenician ruins such as Timgad, Djemilia, Tiddis, and Tipasa. Constantine, the "city of bridges," was named the Capital of Arab Culture in 2015. Explore the camel market, sand dunes and ancient Saharan towns historically closed to foreigners. 10. Egypt The land of the Sphinx, the Pyramids and the Nile, Egypt is 90% Muslim. It's also home to Mount Sinai, Al-Azhar University, the Mosque of Amr ibn al-As and the mausoleum of Imam Shafi, along with many more historical sites.
  2. Children are easily influenced by their surroundings. These days, it is extremely difficult to expose our children to an ideal Islamic environment given the influences from media, friends and even other members of the family. With television, radio, Internet, and forms of media mostly touting un-Islamic values, it is up to parents and adults close to the children to set the correct example. It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and, ultimately, their behavior. However, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the commandments of Allah (SWT) and our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him). Here are some tips you may want to follow in helping your children grow up with Islamic values. 1. Start by teaching them the importance of Worshipping only Allah: The best thing any Muslim parent could ever teach their children is to emphasize, from the day they can comprehend, that Allah (SWT) is One and no one is worthy of worship except Allah (SWT). This is the fundamental message of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) and it is our key to Paradise. 2. Treat them kindly: Kindness begets kindness. If we were kind to our children, they, in turn, would show kindness to others. Our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) was the best example of being kind to children. 3. Teach them examples of Muslim heroes: Instead of Batman or Superman, tell them about real heroes such as Ali bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) and others Muslims heroes. Tell them how Muslim leaders brought a real peaceful change in the world and won the hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. 4. Let children sit with adults: It is preferable for children to be among adults, especially when listening to Islamic lectures. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) would often put children in the front row when he spoke to the people. 5. Make them feel important: Consult them in family matters. Let them feel they are important members of the family and have a part to play in the growth and well-being of the family. 6. Go out as a family: Take family trips rather than allowing your children to always go out only with their friends. Let your children be around family and friends from whom you want them to pick up their values. Always remember that your children will become who they are around with most of the time. So, watch their company and above all give them YOUR Company. 7. Praise them: Praise is a powerful tool with children, especially in front of others. Children feel a sense of pride when their parents’ praise them and will be keen to perform other good deeds. However, praise must be limited to Islamic deeds and deeds of moral value. 8.Avoid humiliation: Similarly, do not humiliate them in front of others. Children make mistakes. Sometimes, these mistakes occur in their efforts to please the parents. If you are unhappy with your children, tell them in private. 9. Sports: The Holy Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged sports such as swimming, running and horse riding. Other sports that build character and physical strength are also recommended, as long as the children maintain their Islamic identity, wear appropriate clothing and do not engage in unnecessary mixing. 10.Responsibility: Have faith in their abilities to perform tasks. Give them chores to do in line with their age. Convince them that they are performing an important function and you will find them eager to help you out again. 11. Don’t spoil them: Children are easily spoiled. If they receive everything they ask for, they will expect you to oblige on every occasion. Be wise in what you buy for them. Avoid extravagance and unnecessary luxuries. Take them to an orphanage or poor area of your city once in a while so they can see how privileged they are. 12. Don’t be friends: It is common in the West for parents to consider their children as friends. In Islam, it doesn’t work that way. If you have ever heard how friends talk to each other, then you will know that this is not how a parent-child relationship should be. You are the parents, and they should respect you, and this is what you should be teaching them. The friendship part should be limited to you and them keeping an open dialog so they can share their concerns with you and ask you questions when they have any. 13.Pray with them: Involve them in acts of worship. When they are young, let them see you in act of salaah (salat). Soon, they would be trying to imitate you. Wake them up for Fajr and pray as a family. Talk to them about the rewards of salaah so that it doesn’t feel like a burden to them. 14.Emphasize halal: It is not always good to say “this is haraam that is haraam”. While you must educate them on haram things, Islam is full of halaal and tell your children to thank Allah (SWT) for the bounties He has bestowed on them- not just for food and clothes. Tell them to be thankful for having eyes that see, ears that her arms and legs and, the ultimate blessing, Islam in their hearts. Read in details here: HOW TO BE A GOOD CHILD IN ISLAM Set an example: As parents, you are the best example the children can have. If you talk to your parents rudely, expect your children to do the same to you. If you are disrespectful to others, your children will follow too. Islam is filled with Divine advice on the best ways to bring up your children. That makes it an obligation upon parents to be good Muslims so their children will try to emulate them. If you don’t take Islam seriously, neither will your children. It goes back to our third point, which is to give them Islamic heroes. As a parent, you should be their number one hero.
  3. Islam teaches us different ways to attain success. One best way is to seek Islamic knowledge based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We need to spend time, money, efforts, emotions and patience to learn authentic knowledge of Islam not only for our own success but also to be able to share it to others, especially to our children. The most important and lasting gift or inheritance that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is a must that we should educate our children with Islamic knowledge since as parents we are accountable to their success and failure. The Prophet (saws) makes it very clear that we are accountable to our respective families/children: Abdullah ibn Umar reported that he heard the Prophet Muhammad (saws) saying: “Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care).” (Bukhâri 3/592) Malik bin Huwairth narrated: “I came to the Prophet (saws) with some men from my tribe and stayed with him for twenty nights. He was kind and merciful to us. When he realized our longing for our families, he said to us: “Go back and stay with your families and teach them the religion. And offer the prayer and one of you should pronounce the Adhan for the prayer when its time is due. And the oldest one amongst you should lead the prayer.” (Bukhari 1/601) The above authentic Ahâdîth clearly shows how the Prophet (saws) commands us Muslims to be responsible to our respective families. The best way to perform our duty to our children is to teach them, Islam. Allah tells us that our children, just like our wealth and possessions, are but a trial from Him. Allah the highest says: “And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial: and that it is Allah with whom lies your highest reward.” [Qur’an 8:28] “Your riches and your children may be but a trial: whereas Allah, with Him, is the highest Reward.” [Qur’an 64:15] Since our children are but a trial and that the highest reward is with Allah the Almighty, it is then our responsibility to guide our children to Islam. It is only through Islam that they can become righteous and be of service to Allah. We pass Allah’s trial once our children worship and please our Creator. The best thing that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is the best education and the best means to fight ignorance and drive away evil. The Prophet (saws) says in the following Ahâdîth: Amr bin Sa’id or Sa’id bin Al-‘As t narrated that Allah’ Messenger (saws) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” (Tirmidhi 4977 and Baihaqi) ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saws) said: “A single scholar of religion is more formidable against Satan than a thousand devout people.” (Tirmidhi 217 and Ibn Majah) Raising Responsible Children When we teach Islam to our children, we raise them to be righteous and responsible Muslims who will subsequently treat us with kindness and respect. Islam is the only religion that clearly raises the status of the parents to a high degree and honor. In fact, Allah in many ayat of the Qur’an has commanded us to please our parents after pleasing Him. After our firm belief in Him, our Creator has enjoined us to treat our parents with kindness and respect: “…Worship none but Allah and be dutiful and treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer, and give Zakat…” [Qur’an 2:83] “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighbors who are strangers, the companions by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, vainglorious.” [Qur’an 4:36] “Say: `Come, I will rehearse what Allah has (really) prohibited you from: join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want, We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not nigh to indecent deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.’” [Qur’an 6:151] In line with the above Quranic injunctions is the commonly quoted Hâdîth, which shows how the true Muslim must be more dutiful to his parents than any other person in the world: Abu Hurairah narrated that a man came to Allah’s Messenger (saws) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man said, “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man asked (for the fourth time), “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your father.” (Bukhari 8/ 2 and Muslim 4/ 6180-6183) Allah the All-Knowing and Most Merciful know that parents especially mothers bear hardships in rearing their children. Thus, He commands children to show gratefulness to their parents. Every man, therefore, is expected to be good to his parents, especially when they attain their old age where they need most his care, service, and respect: “Your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: O my Rabb (only God and Sustainer) (Only God and Cherisher)! Bestow on them (my parents) Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” [Qur’an 17:23-24] And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal.” But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the End, the return of you all is to Me. And I will tell you all that you did. [Qur’an 31:14-15] “We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.” [Qur’an 46:15] Islam teaches us that it is for our success that we must obey Allah by showing our utmost kindness and respect to our parents. We must also obey them for as long as they do not command us something that disobeys Allah. We have to remember that if we please them, we please Allah. This means, that through our parents we can attain Allah’s rewards in the eternal world: Abdullah ibn Mas’ud narrated: “I asked the Prophet (saws) which deed is the dearest to Allah? He replied, “To offer salaat (the prayers) at there early fixed times.” I asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)? “He replied, “To participate in jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.” (Bukhari 1/505) Abu Hurairah t narrated that Allah’s Messenger said: “Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust.” It was said: “Allah’s Messenger, who is he?” He said: “He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.” (Muslim 6189) Abu Darda narrated that when a man came to him and said, “I have a wife whom my mother commands me to divorce.” He replied to him that he had heard Allah’s Messenger (saws) say, “A parent is the best of the gates of Paradise; so if you wish, keep to the gate, or lose it.” (Tirmidhi 4928 and Ibn Majah) We learn further that in Islam for every Muslim it is a blessing from Allah if he has parents who are old as it gives him the opportunity to serve them and thus earns Allah’s pleasure because of this we need to teach our children Islam then we realize that how to teach Islam to your child . He will receive success, especially the supreme success in Paradise if he follows Allah’s commandment to be dutiful to his parents. This means that if we can raise our children, teach them knowledge of Islam or give them proper Islamic education, by way of Home Education or sending them to Islamic schools, we will be expecting them to take care of us especially during our old age and at the time when we will be needing them most. They will take care of us when we are weak and old as important members of their families and not let us just stay in other’s houses or at any home of the aged. Most of all, they will include us in their daily prayers, which is the best thing that they can give us. If we raise them to be righteous and they pray for our salvation then we attain ultimate success in the Life-Hereafter. Therefore, we must give importance to the acquisition of Islamic knowledge and impart the same to our children so that they will pray for our success. We must know that Islam teaches us to show goodness to our parents by including them in our daily prayers that Allah will forgive them and grant them Mercy: “O my Rabb! Make me one who performs prayers and (also) from my offspring, our Rabb! And accept my invocation. Our Rabb! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established.” [Qur’an 14:40-41)] “O my Rabb! Bestow on them (my parents) Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” [Qur’an 17:24)] “My Rabb! Forgive me and my parents and anyone who enters my home as a believer. And to the disbelievers, grant no increase but destruction.” [Qur’an 71:28] When we guide our children to Islam, they become righteous Muslims whose prayers, to Allah, I for our own benefit, continue to reach us even when we die. The Prophet (saws) says in the following Hadith: “A man will be raised some degrees in Paradise and he will say, ‘For what reason I am receiving this?’ He will be told, ‘Because of your son asking forgiveness for you.’” (Bukhari 1613) Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’ Messenger (saws) said, “When a man dies, accrual of merit in his favor from good deeds ceases except from three actions: 1. A charity which continues after his death; 2. Knowledge left behind from which men continue to benefit, and 3. Righteous offspring who pray for him.” (Muslim 4005) Knowing the importance of Islamic knowledge, it is imperative that we encourage our children to spend time acquiring it. We must remember that one of the characteristics of a believer is love for the search of knowledge. The following Hâdîth should inspire us and our children to continuously seek for Islamic knowledge: Abu Said Al-Khudri narrated: Allah’s Messenger (saws)said, “A believer is never satiated with gainful knowledge; he goes acquiring it till his death and entry into Paradise.” (Tirmidhi 222) We must also guide our children to be prompt in doing good deeds, which will increase our faith and subsequently enable us to gain Allah’s pleasure and mercy. We have to remember that on the Day of Judgment we shall be asked how we spent our lives, wealth, and knowledge. In other words, we will be questioned on how we spent everything that Allah has given us. “A man shall be asked concerning five things on the day of resurrection: concerning his life, how he spent it; concerning his youth, how he grew old; concerning his wealth, whence he acquired it, and in what way he spent it; and what was it that he did with the knowledge that he had.” (Tirmidhi 5197) Abu Barzah Nadlah ibn Ubayd al-Aslami narrated that the Prophet (saws) said: “A servant of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Judgment till he is questioned: about his age and how he spent it; and about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body as to how he used it.” (Tirmidhi 407) With Islamic knowledge that we acquire and subsequently share to our children, Insha Allah, we will be able to answer whatever questions on the Day of Judgment. We and our righteous children will pass the real tests on the Day of Reckoning. This is because Islam teaches us to believe and to do deeds of righteousness and Allah the Almighty promises us everlasting life in Paradise. Our Only Rabb says: “But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness We shall soon admit them to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, to dwell therein forever. Allah’s promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah’s?” [Qur’an 4:122] Conclusion and Recommendations Knowledge of Islam tells us that by guiding our children to Islam, we do not only respond to the duty that Allah and His Messenger (saws) enjoin upon us i.e., to be accountable to our children; but also, we expect subsequent rewards for raising righteous children. If we want our children to be righteous and be successful Muslims, we must learn and teach our children authentic knowledge of Islam, which is one that is based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah (and/or the authentic Hâdîth of the Prophet (saws)). For those of us who can not teach our respective children for some reasons, who find no time or incapable to teach our own children, it is a must that we send them to standard quality Islamic schools where boys are separated from girls. If such schools are not available in our area, then we can opt for Islamic distance schooling or Home Education. This alternative to formal schooling is less expensive. It even gives parents and children to be closer (i.e., binds the bond of relationship with mutual love, respect and understanding) as the parents are expected to give more time to supervise or at least guide their children’s study. Children learn more from their parents as they are spending their full time at home. They avoid mixing with the opposite sex. They also avoid the company of friends, classmates and schoolmates who may have bad influences on them. In this manner, they avoid the recurring problems prevalent among the youths such as school delinquency, drug addiction, smoking, drinking liquor, gambling, illicit sex and other social problems. Another alternative is for us parents to hire competent Muslims teachers who can teach our children Islam during weekends. To minimize cost, we can organize weekend Islamic schools within our community by making use of the existing public schools. All we need is to make a request to the school administrator for the use of some rooms of the school buildings. If this is not possible then, we can make use of the existing mosques in the area. Aside from the formal (English and Madrasah) and/or weekend Islamic schools, we can encourage our children to seek knowledge of Islam by any of the following means: 1) attendance to Islamic lectures, forums and seminars, 2) reading books and other reading materials on Islam, 3) listening to radio and television programs on Islam, 4) buying books, booklets, magazines and other reading materials on Islam, 5) purchasing other learning media (e.g., CDs, Videos and cassette tapes) on Islam, and/or 6) giving them proper access to the Islamic reading materials available in the Internet (i.e., Islamic websites). All these various opportunities to acquiring knowledge of Islam are blessing from Allah, Who bestows knowledge to whom He guides to Islam. Indeed, Allah is Most Gracious, Most Merciful, He has opened for us various ways and means to learn Islam. It is for us Muslims to learn authentic knowledge of Islam so that we please Allah the Almighty. It is only by knowing Islam that we know our Creator and how we can worship Him to the best we can and therefore attain His rewards and be successful in the eternal world to come. Islam teaches us to be accountable to our respective children. The best way is for us to share our authentic knowledge of Islam with them. Let us remember that their success means our ultimate success too.
  4. Right after Hajj season, the Saudi Government allows agencies and countries to open up the Umrah season. It typically takes a few weeks and even months after the Hajj season for the Saudi government to start issuing Umrah visas . Even the hotels, local areas, motels, parks, restaurants, malls and all the civil areas need to be revamped. The massive influx of people has come and it is imperative to ensure that the area remains cleans for the new people arriving. The objective is to clean up and sort out any variance from the Hajj impact. Do realize that millions of people have just visited the most beautiful and holiest cities of the world, and the government needs to prepare for the entire Umrah season. Umrah Season is still very much active. Umrah Packages after Hajj is comparatively cheaper as compared to Umrah during Ramadan. Umrah Visa Opening Dates 2017 after Hajj One needs to know that the Umrah is a comprehensive package given to certain delegates of each country. And each year the government of Saudi Arabia either allows or rejects the visa issuance. Each travel agency is evaluated on merit. Any person that has absconded or has not reached back will be taken notice of. How it works is that each person is registered via its visa office and travel agent. That travel agent has to have bonded with each regional player to ensure that the people return safely. People need to know that the laws in Saudi Arabia are very much different. If you abscond and do not come back, you will not only be deported but can serve time. Hence, Umrah after Hajj season depends on multiple variances. Sometimes the country gets different quota. Some packages will not be offered anymore. Pricing might change. If you find a travel agent quoting you a price prior to the Hajj, this is not possible. And that pricing is not accurate but only an estimate. Travel agents can assurance and cleared out and then the prices are created for every country. The best umrah 5-star packages are also offered after Hajj since the hotels are more than eager to win business. The earlier the bookings the better. Read in details here: Umrah Opening After Hajj 2017 It is recommended that if you are interested in performing Umrah before any Hajj prepares in advance. Umrah after the great Hajj is not like performing the umrah during the holy month of Ramadan. In fact, the prices are now reasonable and not as high as Ramadan Umrah.
  5. Umrah, also known as the lesser pilgrimage (as compared to the Hajj), means a visit, in particular, a visit to the Kaa’ba. The fact that Umrah is the lesser pilgrimage in no way diminishes its significance or reward. An Umrah can be performed anytime during the year – and what better time to perform an Umrah than in the holiest month of the Islamic year. A month where even the simplest of good deeds reap a manifold reward, an Umrah becomes an act of even greater significance. About Hajj and Umrah, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: “(The performance of) `Umrah is the expiation for the sins committed (between it and the previous one). And the reward of Hajj Mabrur (the one accepted by Allah) is nothing except Paradise” (Bukhari 26:1). Keeping in mind the general importance of Umrah one can only imagine how much Allah Almighty will appreciate it when we perform it in the month of Ramadan. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and for those Muslim brothers and sisters who can afford it easily, it is mandatory to perform at least once in a lifetime. And those of us who are unable to afford the Hajj or are unable to perform it for any other reason, an Umrah in Ramadan then becomes a great opportunity: According to a hadith reported by Ibn `Abbas: “Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) asked an Ansari woman (Ibn `Abbas named her but `Ata' forgot her name), ‘What prevented you from performing Hajj with us?’ She replied, ‘We have a camel and the father of so-and-so and his son (i.e. her husband and her son) rode it and left one camel for us to use for irrigation.’ He said (to her), ‘Perform `Umrah when Ramadan comes, for `Umrah in Ramadan is equal to Hajj (in reward)” (Bukhari 26:10). Thus, as one can see, Umrah performed during the holy month is synonymous with having performed the Hajj, the ultimate act of total submission to the Lord. Whosoever is unable to perform the Hajj, due to its strenuous physical demands, costs, or other personal reasons, can instead opt for performing Umrah during Ramadan, as this Hadith narrates that it is one in the same thing. Read more authenticated Best Time to Perform Umrah . However, the equivalence to Hajj may only be in terms of the blessings and while it is unable to relieve a Muslim of his or her obligation of Hajj, Umrah is still able to expiate sins and offers us an opportunity to amend our relationship with the Almighty Allah. Ibn-i-Abbas narrates from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that: “Whoever reaches Makkah in the month of Ramadan and fasts and passes his/her night worshipping as much as he can, Allah writes for him/her the reward of a hundred thousand fasting of the month of Ramadan performed outside of Makkah and Allah bestows on him/her for each day and night the reward of freeing a slave. For each day, He writes the reward of a horse's attack against the enemy on the way of Allah. And He writes for the day a hasana (good deed), and for the night a hasana.” (Ibn Majah, Manasik: 106.) So if this Ramadan you want to earn great rewards from Allah, take the opportunity and go to Makkah to perform the Umrah, it not only lessen your sins but also brings you closer to Allah and that is the ultimate reward for any Muslim.
  6. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. On the first day of Muharram, the Islamic New Year is observed by Muslims. The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year. Hence it is a little different from the Gregorian calendar that is used in the western nations. When compared with the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar, the lunar month of Muharram shifts from year to year. The month of Muharram is of great religious significance to Islamic people the world over. It is held to be the most sacred of all the months, excluding Ramadan. The word "Muharram" is often considered synonymous with "Ashura", the tenth day of the Muharram month. "Ashura" is a highly important day for both sects of Islam - the Shias and the Sunnis. The Shia believe that Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, became a martyr at the Battle of Karbala on the tenth day of Muharram in 61 AH(680 AD). The pre-Islamic period in the Arabian peninsula was the era of warring tribes. In the absence of a strong leadership, there were conflicts and battles on minor issues. But fighting was prohibited in four months of the year. These months, of which Muharram was one, were considered sacred. Muharram is so called because it was unlawful to fight during this month; the word is derived from the word ‘haram’ meaning forbidden. This period of inactivity was a necessity in heavily decorated replicas of the tomb of the Imam and his family are made for Muharram the era of warring tribes. The tradition was maintained even after the advent of Islam, though provisions to accommodate and accept war in special situations, like a threat to the sovereignty of an empire, were introduced. The gory battle of Karbala was fought against this law and tradition of Islam. The inhabitants on the banks of rivers Euphrates and Tigris were traditional rivals. Their animosity was contained to some extent by Muhammad. But when his son-in-law Hazrat Ali was the Caliph(Muslim civil and religious leader considered to be Allah's representative on earth), the old enmity re-surfaced. Hazrat Ali had two descendants, Hazrat Imam Hussain and Hazrat Imam Hassan. Hussain was the ruler of the part of the empire known today as Iran. The other part in modern Iraq was ruled by the Umayyads. Hussain was called upon by the Shiahs of Kufa, a small town in the Umayyad kingdom, to accept their allegiance and claim his place as the leader of the Islamic community. This was against the wishes of the ruler of Kufa, Yazid, who instructed his governor, Ibn-e-Ziad to take appropriate action. Meanwhile, in response to the call of the Shiahs, Hussain accompanied by his family members, headed for Kufa. When they reached Karbala, en route to Kufa, the forces of the governor surrounded them and their 70 men. Hussain, his family, and his troops were tortured and killed, and Hussain's head was severed and presented to the king. They received no help from the Shiahs of Kufa. As this tragic incident happened on the tenth day of Muharram, Shia Muslims consider this a day of sorrow. They commemorate the martyrdom of Hussain as a religious occasion called "Muharram" (named after the month of its observance). The occasion starts on the 1st day of Muharram and lasts for 10 days until 10th of Muharram. As Muharram approaches, they put on black clothes, as black is regarded as a color of mourning. During the entire 10 day period, they keep themselves away from music and all joyous events (e.g. weddings) that can distract them in any way from the sorrowful remembrance of that day. During each of the first nine days of Muharram, "Majalis" (assemblies) are held where Shia orators vividly depict the incident of the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his party. Mainstream Shia Muslims fast until the evening. On "Ashura", devoted Muslims assemble and go out in large processions. They parade the streets holding banners and carrying models of the mausoleum of Hazrat Imam Hussain and his people, who fell at Karbala. Some Shia sects observe "Ashura" by beating themselves with chains in public, cutting themselves with knives and sharp objects and holding mournful public processions. This is an expression of their grief on the death of their favorite leader Hussain, considered to be the representative of Allah. (But no Shiite scholar affirms any extreme behavior that harms the body and Shia leaders consider such acts as "Haram", or forbidden.) It is a sad occasion and everyone in the procession chants "Ya Hussain", wailing loudly. Generally, a white horse is beautifully decorated and included in the procession. It serves to bring back the memory of the empty mount of Hazrat Imam Husain after his martyrdom. Drinking posts are also set up temporarily by the Shia community where water and juices are served to all, free of charge. While Shia Muslims consider "Muharram" to be a sorrowful occasion, Sunni Muslims observe it as a festival and look at "Ashura" as a happy day though the religious aspect remains intact. Pious Sunnis keep a fast("Roja") on "Ashura" as per the "Hadith"(a tradition based on reports of the sayings and activities of Muhammad and his companions) of Prophet Muhammad. According to the "Hadith", the Prophet saw the Jews fasting on the 10th of Muharram to commemorate their liberation from Egyptian slavery and the extermination of the army of the Pharoah in the waters of the Red Sea. Prophet Mohammed liked the custom for he believed that it was Allah who saved the Israelites from their enemy in Egypt. He started to fast on the same day as the Jews but he planned to fast on the 9th and 10th from the following year. But death came in between him and his pious wish. Usually, Sunni Muslims are recommended to fast either on the 9th and 10th Muharram or on the 10th and 11th
  7. What is Umrah? In Arabic, the word ‘Umrah is derived from I‘timaar which means a visit. However, ‘Umrah in Islamic terminology, means paying a visit to Ka’bah, performing Tawaaf (circumambulation) around it, walking between Safaa and Marwah seven times. A performer of ‘Umrah puts off his Ihraam by having his hair shaved or cut. ‘Umrah can be performed along with Hajj and in other days as well. ‘Umrah can be performed during anytime in the year, there is no fixed time for ‘Umrah. The Pillars of `Umrah are four: a) Ihraam: which is assumed at the Meeqaat. b) Tawaaf: around the House. c) Sa'y: walking between As-Safaa and Al-Marwah, which consists of seven circuits. d) Tahal-lul: which means coming out of the state of Ihraam; becoming lawful what was previously prohibited during Ihraam. During ‘Umrah, pilgrims do not go to Minaa, ‘Arafaat and Muzdalifah or throw pebbles on the Jamrahs (stone pillars representing devils) or offer animal sacrifice. These rites are only performed during Hajj. How to perform ‘Umrah: 1. When the one who wants to perform ‘Umrah arrives at the Meeqaat, it is recommended for him (both man and woman) to take a bath if convenient, including menstruating women and those experiencing postnatal bleeding. The man perfumes his head and beard but not his Ihraam garments. There is no harm in what remains of it after Ihraam. There is nothing wrong if it is not possible to take a bath at Meeqaat. 2. Men are to change into their clothing of Ihraam while the women only need to make their intention at that time in the clothing they are already wearing. There is no specific clothing designated for women, except that they are prohibited from wearing the Niqaab (face-veil) and gloves. Instead, they may cover their hands with the lower part of their khimaar (head covering), while using the upper part of their jilbaab (outer garment) or a separate piece of fabric to cover their faces by drawing it down, if there is need to do so. As for men, they must assume their Ihraam at the Meeqaat by wearing two pieces of fabric called the Izaar and the Ridaa’. The Ridaa’ covers the top half of the body, while the Izaar covers the lower half. No other clothing is allowed to be worn in addition to these – no underwear, no pants, no shirt, no turban, no hat, etc. are to be worn. Then the pilgrim makes the intention at the Meeqaat to begin the rites of ‘Umrah by entering the state of Ihraam. The intention must be made in the heart, while the statement made afterwards is: “Labayka ‘Umrah” or “Allahumma labbayka ‘Umrah”. This statement begins the rites of `Umrah. So the first pillar of `Umrah is the Ihraam. The intention is made in the heart, while the tongue recites the opening Talbiyyah. And if you wish, when uttering Talbiyyah, you may state a condition to Allah fearing that which may prevent you from completion of the ‘Umrah whether illness or fear - saying “in habasanee haabes fa mahillee haithu habastanee” (I come out of the state of Ihraam from the place You prevent me from continuing). So if you do that and are then prevented or become ill - then you may come out of Ihraam. Then repeat the Talbiyyah: “labbayk Allahumma labbayk, labbayka laa shareeka laka labbayk, innal-hamda wan-ni'mata laka wal-mulk, laa shareeka lak” (“In response to your call O Allah I perform Umrah, here I am O Allah. In response to Your call. You have no partner. In response to Your call. All Praise and Blessings, and the Ownership of all that You created is Yours (alone). You have no partner”) Upon arriving at the sacred mosque in Makkah (Al-Masjid Al-Haraam), you should enter with your right foot and say: "Bismillaah, Allahumma Salli 'Alaa Muhammad, Allahumma Ighfirli waftahli Abwaaba Rahmatik. (In the name of Allah! O Allah! Exalt the mention of your Messenger. O Allah! Forgive my sins, and open the gates of Your mercy for me)." You should enter in a manner expressing humility and gratitude to the blessings He, Almighty, conferred upon you. 3. Upon arriving at the Ka’bah, stop reciting the Talbiyyah, then approach the Black Stone, touch it with your right hand and kiss it. If this isn't possible, you should face the Black Stone and point to it. Don’t push and shove, causing harm and being harmed by other people. When touching the Stone, the following is said: “Bismil-laah, Allahu Akbar” (In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest) or "Allahu Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest). A pilgrim must walk, keeping the Ka’bah on his left. When you reach the Yamaani corner touch it with your right hand, if possible, but do not kiss it, and say: “Bismil-laahi wa Allahu Akbar”. If this is difficult for you, then go on performing tawaaf without touching it, pointing at it or even saying “Allahu Akbar” because this was not narrated from the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) on the other hand whenever you reach or are parallel to the black stone, touch it with your right hand, kiss it and say, “Bismillaah Allahu Akbar”, if it is not possible then it is enough to point at it and say, “Bismillaah, Allahu Akbar”. During this Tawaaf it is preferred for a man to do two things: a) Al-Idhtibaa' from the beginning of Tawaaf until the end, which is placing the middle of one's Redaa' under the right arm and the ends of it over the left shoulder. When you are finished performing Tawaaf, you may return your Reda' to its original state because the time for A-Idhtibaa' is only during Tawaaf. b) Ar-Raml during the first three circuits only. Ar-Raml means speeding up one's pace with small steps. Make supplication from your heart, for that which will benefit you. Recite whatever you wish, supplicate to Allah by asking for good, recite the Quran, anything you wish. There are no specific statements or supplications to be recited during the Tawaaf that are authentically established in the Sunnah. However it is recommended to say between the two corners during each circumbulance as it is reported from the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ): “...Our Lord, grant us good in this life and good in the hereafter and save us from the punishment of the Hellfire.” [Quran: 2:201] 4. When you complete seven circuits of Tawaaf, approach Maqaam Ibraaheem (Ibraaheem’s station) and recite this verse (which means): “And take you (people) the Maqaam (place) of Ibraheem as a place of Prayer...” [Quran: 2:125] Then pray two short Rak’ahs, as close as conveniently possible, behind Maqaam Ibraheem. If it is not possible then you can pray them anywhere in the sacred mosque. It is preferred to recite during the first Rak'ah the chapter "Al-Kafiroon" [109] and during the second one the chapter of “Al-lkhlaas” [112]. Upon completing the two Rak'ahs, return to the Black Stone and touch it, if convenient 5. The next stage is to go to Safaa. Upon approaching the foot of Safaa, the following verse is recited (which means): “Verily, As-Safaa and Al-Marwah are from the symbols of Allah. So it is not a sin on him who performs Hajj or 'Umrah of the house (ka 'bah) to perform the going (tawaaf) between them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then verily, Allah is the All-Recognizer, All-Knower.” [Quran; 2:158] 6. Then climb unto mount Safaa until the Ka'bah is visible, if possible. Facing the Ka’bah the following is to be said 3 times, and between each time one is to make ones own supplication: “Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wadahu la shareeka lahu, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu, wa huwa 'alaa qulli shay'in qadeer. Laa ilaaha il-lall-llaahu wahdahu, anjaza wa'dahu, wa nasara 'abdahu, wa hazamal ahzaaba wahdahu" (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah alone, Who has no partner. To Him belongs the dominion, to Him belongs all praise, and He has power over everything. He fulfilled His promise, gave victory to His servant, and defeated the confederates alone.) 7. Then descend and go towards Marwah, running between the fluorescent green lights (for men only), upon reaching Marwah climb upon it if it is possible, and repeat the same procedure as when ascending Safaa except you are not to recite the above-mentioned verse, because it is recited when ascending Safaa for the first time only. This completes one circuit. Then one continues back to Safaa running between the fluorescent green lights (for men only) - thus completing two circuits. There are no particular supplications to be recited between Safaa and Marwah. Seven circuits are to be completed ending the last one on Marwah. Then one is to have his hair cut although shaving it is better. Women should shorten their hair by a finger-tips length from the end. The rights of 'Umrah have now been completed.
  8. A Program of Studies for New Muslims

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    Introduction In 1974, the Planning Committee of the Muslim Students' Association of the U. S. and Canada sparked the idea of designing a comprehensive curriculum for American Muslims who have recently embraced Islam. Such curriculum is greatly needed by a large population of Muslims in North America to help them understand Islam as a complete way of life, practice it and live up to its ideals. To satisfy this need, the task of producing the curriculum and its supportive material was entrusted to the Department of Education, Publication and Information. Through the efforts of that Department and the Islamic Teaching Center, Dr. Mohammad Moinuddin Siddiqui undertook to work out" A Program of Studies for New Muslims." His deep commitment to Islam and conviction of the significance of education as a crucial vehicle for social change prompted him to devote his time and finish the first stage of this tremendous and challenging work. The second stage is the writing of text books which are specifically tailored to the sequential level series of this program of studies.