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Ramadan Conference Call 2007 Transcript

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The following is a transcript of the Ramadan conference call (Audio can be downloaded here) that MM organized last year with Shaykh Yaser Birjas and Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. We would like to thank Sr. Ruth for taking the time to transcribe, jazakillahkhair!

Opening comments from Sh. Yasir Birjas:

People every year feel anxiety as Ramadan gets closer and so they reflect on prior Ramadans. And Ramadan is sometimes a time for people who may not even pray regularly do so. Taqwa is the objective of fasting during Ramadan, as stated in surah Baqara.

Sh. Yasir goes on to discuss the “triangle of virtue” – fasting, Quran, and taqwa. How can we attain taqwa? The Quran helps more than anything else. How many times relationship between the Quran and taqwa repeated in Quran? Sh. Yasir studied this and found more than 237 ayat, and half of those ayahs came in the first third of the Quran. This connection can also be found in previous revelations such as taurat and injil.

So why was the Quran revealed in Ramadan? The best provision is fearing Allah (taqwa). Those who fear Allah truly, Allah will love them and people will love them.

Why should we achieve taqwa? Those who truly fear Allah among His servants are those who have knowledge. So we need to increase our knowledge. My advice this upcoming season is to achieve that triangle of virtue, in order to become among those who truly fear Allah.

Opening comments from Sh. Yasir Qadhi: There are certain ayat and hadith that we have heard before but need to ponder over. There are many that practicing Muslims have heard, but few we sit down and think about. We should take time out of our schedule to ponder them.

The verses pertaining to fasting are mentioned. The legislation for fasting occurred in the 2nd year of the hijra. As soon as they were physically capable of worshipping Allah in a fuller sense, the sahaba began to perform acts of worship. Among the first acts that were legislated was fasting. In these series of verses in surah Baqara the fast is prescribed so we may achieve taqwa. Fasting is not just symbolic. It has a spiritual, fulfilling goal, to achieve taqwa. Allah mentions the Quran right after fasting. The Quran is guidance for our bodies as well as our souls. The Quran leads to taqwa, as does fasting – so fasting and Quran are intertwined. Sh. Yasir mentioned a hadith in which the Prophet (SAW) said fasting and the Quran will intercede for the believer on the day of judgment; the fast will say oh Allah I deprived him from sleep and from rest in the daytime and the Quran will say oh Allah I deprived him from sleep at night.

Another act of worship mentioned in these verses on fasting is dua. Right after Allah mentions that Ramadan is the blessed month the Quran came down he says, If my servant asks you about Me, then I am close to them – I respond to the dua of the one who makes dua when he makes dua. So dua is one of the greatest acts of worship in Ramadan. The dua said just before iftar when you are fasting is guaranteed to be accepted. If you can take your mind off the food in front of you and turn to Allah and concentrate on him, your dua before iftar is guaranteed to be accepted. It’s notable that often people are chatting or in a rush to eat at this time but they are missing this time when Allah accepts dua. We should remind those around them to make dua at this time.

Dhikr is another act of worship mentioned in the context of Ramadan. Allah says He does not want to make things difficult, so finish the fast and praise Allah. Saying takbeer is similarly an act of worship. Thus, important acts of worship in Ramadan are: reading the Quran, dua, dhikr and takbeer.

Sh. Yaser then listed these 10 wisdoms and blessings of Ramadan:

  1. First and foremost, the greatest is wisdom of taqwa. This is mentioned explicitly in Quran. Taqwa is achieved by lessening our desires and appetites, by showing we are able to live without the most essential items. If we can do this, how about abstaining from sins?
  2. Remember the poor. Appreciate the blessings of Allah. We are reminded of those who must abstain and we appreciate what we take for granted.
  3. Fasting lessens our physical desires and increases our spiritual ones. More emphasis on soul and less on body.
  4. It increases attendance in the masajid.
  5. Blessing of brotherhood. Not just in masajid but also in iftar parties.
  6. Ramadan inculcates in us the guarding of the prayers and being attentive to the specific times of the prayers. At no other time are the timing for fajr and maghreb paid so much attention.
  7. Attachment is formed with the Quran.
  8. Ramadan increases our charity. If nothing else, we pay zakat al fitr.
  9. Dua, especially before iftar. All of us turn to Allah and increase in our remembrance of him.
  10. It affords us the opportunity to realize that we can be better Muslims.

It is inevitable that when Ramadan ends our iman will go back down. Its not possible to remain the same level. But that’s not our goal. Rather, our goal is to look at Ramadan as a ladder that we go up maybe 10, 20 steps, so when we go down we only go down 5 or 2 or 3. Go down to a level such that we are much higher than we started Ramadan.

Questions & Answers cover the following topics: Following community which uses calculations in lieu of moonsighting, pregnant & nursing sister and fasting, eid timing, zakat-ul-fitr in money, fasting during travel, Taraweeh rakah number, praying witr “Pakistani” way, imsaak time (is it 10 minutes before fajr?):

Question: If the most prominent Muslim organization in the city follows the moon calculations, should you follow the community or stick to the sunnah of moonsighting, and how do we reconcile unity of community with following the sunnah?

Sh. Yasir Birjas: Absolutely one objective of the sharia is to bring people together instead of creating any division. Many ayat of the Quran emphasize unity of the ummah. Allah warns us all from division. There are some areas where there is no room for ijtihad, like salah, fast of Ramadan, etc. But with no such decisive opinion, moonsighting is open for ijtihad.

If you want to start or break your fast on a particular day with the community, do so. The problem comes when someone thinks one method is an invalid ijtihad. The early ulema did not discuss it as one opinion.

Go by moonsighting if you choose to, but without creating controversy in the community.

Sh. Yasir Qadhi: We need to come to a happy and healthy means of compromise. When Muslim majority countries announce times to start and stop fasting, Muslims in those countries are obliged to follow that. Here in North America there is no such unified authority among Muslims. Each individual is capable of picking and choosing his own reference point.

From an Islamic view no one is in sin for following one or another view. Sh. Yasir suggests: first look at who you are. Are you a community leader or imam or on a masjid board, in a position of authority and power? If so, you have a great obligation to do more research than the average Muslim and then reach a decision you think is correct.

It seems the strongest opinion is that moonsighting needs to be used and not calculations. Then the issue is using local or international moonsighting. It seems that even the sahaba and tabiun differed about this issue. After research I have come to the conclusion that national sighting makes the most sense and seems to be the majority opinion of the ummah. The opinion I follow in my personal life is the first visual sighting of the moon that occurs on the North American continent. Last year I personally was checking ICNA and Zaytuna web sites for moonsighting information.

If you are not in a position of power, but rather are basically a member of the community, you should follow your local community if there is a clear cut majority. However, even if you disagree in your personal life, there is no sin in outwardly showing your solidarity with community. Don’t make an issue of it.

If you are living with your parents, there is no question you should not and must not cause friction. This is a sin by unanimous consensus. Do not argue with them. Do not under any circumstances cause any controversy in your community and especially in your household.

Question: If a sister is pregnant during Ramadan and unable to fast and then by the time the next Ramadan comes she is nursing, how is she to make up her fast? What about sisters who have pregnancies close together and miss Ramadan for a few years in a row? Does she have to make all those years up or is there an expiation like feeding a poor person, and is it different if it is just one pregnancy or is it a different ruling if it is continuous years that are missed?

Sh. Yasir Qadhi: Realize first that just because a sister is pregnant or nursing, it does not automatically exempt her from the fast. Rather, she should examine her situation and if fasting makes life very difficult for her or is harmful to the child. A nursing mother could express milk after iftar and then use that for the next day. Or if the child is older and can take other food, she really should examine such an option. If she can’t fast, some scholars say she only needs to feed a poor person, but the majority oppose that opinion and say if a woman does not fast, her position resembles someone who can’t fast because they are sick or traveling, who make up fasting days later. Pregnancy or nursing is a temporary problem. However, make-up fasts don’t have to be done continuously. Even if a woman didn’t fast for 4 or 6 years, she has to make it up but not continuously and no expiation at all necessary. This is the strongest position.

Question: What should you do if you are celebrating eid in a different community but not did not fast or celebrate eid on the same day as the community you were in when you started fasting?

Sh. Yasir Birjas: This question brings us back to the first question, regarding announcing the beginning and end of Ramadan. The same issues apply, but you should take extra precautions before leaving an ibadah such as fasting. If a person comes into a community and he has fasted 29 days and the community announces eid a day later, he should break his fast with them and it’s fine. Whether he’s visiting or going to reside in that area it doesn’t matter. If he has fasted 30 days, he does not fast that extra day because 30 days is the maximum number fasting days for Ramadan. He does not fast that extra day, but breaks his fact privately and goes out with the community the next day to celebrate eid.

Question: I have always been of the opinion that zakat al fitr should be given in food, but with most masajid here in the US taking it in money, and more refusing to take it in food, a smaller and smaller number of brothers have been burdened with distributing it in food every year. They often receive hundreds of pounds of food with the community taking for granted that just a few brothers will distribute it. The poor in this country often have food stamps and government assistance and often want money, not food. Some brothers may be stuck with hundreds of pounds of rice after eid. What is the validity of opinion that zakat al fitr can be distributed in other ways and can we start before eid?

Sh. Yasir Qadhi: It is authentically reported that the Prophet (SAW) allowed paying zakat al fitr a day or two before eid. Perfection of the sunnah is to pay it on the way to eid prayer, but the reality of a situation dictates what you need to do. Masajid need to organize that. From a purely theoretical fiqh point of view, my opinion is that it should be staple food items. The real or practical situation tells us otherwise. On an individual or community level, necessity dictates to look at the minority opinion, which allow zakat in money. This is a legitimate classical opinion. It is not realistic to give thousands of bags of grains in any American city.

Question: Once in a while I had an opportunity at work where I had to travel Monday through Thursday for the next eight weeks. Ramadan will fall within that time frame. Is it okay to fast during these periods since it’s a short plane ride in the same time zone? There is a masjid nearby when I can pray taraweeh. My conscience is telling me to refuse this opportunity but if I stay back I will have a similar work load without travel.

Sh. Yasir Birjas: The Prophet (SAW) made it clear it’s no problem to not take the concession. Allah would love to see you take the concession, but on the other hand there is no harm in not doing so. He did this himself. Some scholars say combining salat when traveling is not the same level of necessity as shortening. What is considered to be a traveler? In my opinion as long as you’re not in your residence and you’re gone one month in a temporary situation, you are, but recommends to join Muslims in masjid for prayer.

Question: What is preferred to pray for taraweeh? 8 rakat or 20? How do we deal with people who make division over this issue – on both sides?

Sh. Yasir Qadhi: There should be no controversy about this at all. It is the position of one person that to pray more than eight is innovation – this has not been stated by a single scholar in the history of the ummah of Islam. It goes against the consensus of scholars. Taraweeh is voluntary, thus unrestricted in number. To pray 0, 2, or even 200 rakats is fine. Prophet said pray in units of 2 for witr, taraweeh, tahajjud, qiyam ul lail. What is mustahhab? Some say 8, some 20, some even 36. Umar Ibn Khattab prayed 20 as is widely authenticated as a fact. There is also authentic narration where he told them to pray 8. The numbers 8 and 20 have some “extra sanction” in the text of the sunnah. As for prophet himself, Aisha said his night prayer was never more than 11 rakat (8+3).

Sh. Yasir Birjas: Just to add to that, taraweeh is naafil so it’s not an obligation. When it comes to Umar ibn Khattab who instructed Muslims to pray 20, there are no reports he ever did it in congregation. Umar himself would go in and see people praying individually or in small groups. Origin of taraweeh – did it for three consecutive nights, then Prophet for fear of making it an obligation stopped praying that in congregation. So it was left for them like any other qiyam ul lail . When time of Umar people started praying in small groups he thought better they come all together. My recommendation is if for any reason too fast too slow you cant pray in masjid do it in the house. The issue of the number – only 8 rakat – hold this opinion in way completely different from how it was done in time of prophet. Its not just the number. He would pray 4, rest, 4 more and include the beauty and length of those rakats, not just number.

Question: Is it legitimate to pray witr the way it’s traditionally done in Pakistani masajid? They pray three rakats together with tashahud after the second, as done in maghreb, then after the third rakat the imam recites fatiha and a surah out loud and then makes takbeer and all raise hands and make “qunut” quietly. Or is this bidah?

Sh. Yasir Qadhi: 99% of these differences don’t come under bidah. Personally I believe this is not the strongest way of doing witr as evidences indicate other ways are more appropriate. However, if you are praying in a Hanafi masjid and they do it that way, it’s completely permissible and no problem to follow. It is an accepted position in one of the four schools of thought. If I were leading it I would do if in a different way. However, I would not ever choose a masjid or another based on how they pray witr.

Question: Everybody says to stop eating approximately 10 minutes before the fajr adhan. However, one is recommended to delay suhoor as much as possible. Thus when should one stop eating in the morning? Also, regarding iftar time should we use the time on the calendars or visually check when the sun has set?

Sh. Yasir Birjas: The most classic and traditional position is to leave a grace period, a time for certainty before the actual adhan – 10 or 15 minutes. It is highly recommended to delay suhoor as much as possible. It is a mercy from Allah that fasting is not about torturing, making ourselves hungry, etc. Some of the ulema know that most people wouldn’t be able to hear the adhan, as now in urban areas where it is almost impossible to go to the roof to check the horizon. So they say go by the calendar and take 10-15 minutes as a precaution. If someone is in a position to hear the adhan, they should go by the adhan, the second if you live where they have two fajr adhans. Regarding iftar, if you can visually recognize sunset, then go by sunset. But if you cannot then go by calendar. Don’t forget if you leave the city and go to the country, don’t forget you need to go by the sunset.

See Also: MM’s Ramadan Coverage

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sana K

    September 5, 2008 at 10:43 AM

    Assalaamu Alaykum,

    JazakAllahu Khayr for posting this. May Allah SWT reward sister Ruth immensely!! Ameen.

    I didnt get a chance to attend the last call so this was a good treat :) I pray inshaAllah you all have something like this prepared for this Ramadan.

    Wasalaam
    Umm Zayna

  2. Avatar

    Muhammad

    September 7, 2008 at 1:46 AM

    What was the number of rak’ahs in Taraweeh prayer at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allaah be pleased with him)?

    What is narrated from ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) is that he ordered that Taraweeh prayer should be twenty rak’ahs. Is that saheeh or da’eef? Or is there no basis for it?.

    Praise be to Allaah.

    Firstly:

    The report that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab ordered that Taraweeh prayer should be twenty rak’ahs came from four of the Taabi’een. These are their reports:

    1 – It was narrated that Saa’ib ibn Yazeed said: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) gathered the people together in Ramadaan to be led by Ubayy ibn Ka’b and Tameem al-Daari in praying twenty-one rak’ahs, and they used to recite hundreds of verses, and they dispersed before dawn broke.

    A number of narrators narrated it from al-Saa’ib, some of whom mentioned twenty rak’ahs or twenty-one or twenty-three. They were:

    Muhammad ibn Yoosuf, the son of the sister of al-Saa’ib, from al-Saa’ib, as was narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in al-Musannaf (4/260) from the report of Dawood ibn Qays and others.

    Yazeed ibn Khusayfah. This was narrated by Ibn al-Majd in al-Musnad (1/413), and via him by al-Bayhaqi in al-Sunan (2/496).

    Al-Haarith ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Dhubaab. This was narrated by ‘Abd al-Razzaaq in al-Musannaf (4/261).

    These reports are saheeh reports narrated by trustworthy narrators from al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed. They mention twenty rak’ahs at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). The extra amount mentioned – twenty-one or twenty-three, refers to Taraweeh plus Witr.

    2 – It was narrated that Yazeed ibn Rumaan said: At the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab the people used to pray twenty-three rak’ahs of qiyaam in Ramadaan.

    This was narrated from him by Maalik in al-Muwatta’ (1/115). Al-Nawawi said in al-Majmoo’ (4/33: It is mursal, because Yazeed ibn Rumaan did not live at the same time as ‘Umar. End quote.

    3 – It was narrated from Yahya ibn Sa’eed al-Qattaan that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him) ordered a man to lead them in twenty rak’ahs of prayer. This was narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaaf (2/163) from Wakee’ from Maalik. But Yahya ibn Sa’eed did not live at the same time as ‘Umar.

    4 – It was narrated that ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Rafee’ said: Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to lead the people in praying twenty rak’ahs during Ramadaan in Madeenah, and he would pray Witr with three rak’ahs.

    This was narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in al-Musannaf (2/163).

    From all these reports it is clear that twenty rak’ahs was the way that Taraweeh was usually done at the time of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allaah be pleased with him). A matter such as Taraweeh prayer is something that is well known among all people, and is transmitted from one generation to another. The report of Yazeed ibn Rumaan and Yahya al-Qattaan is to be taken into account even if they did not live at the same time as ‘Umar, because undoubtedly they learned it from a number of people who had been alive at the time of ‘Umar, and this is something that does not need and isnaad, rather all the people of Madeenah are its isnaad.

    Imam al-Tirmidhi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Sunan (3/169):

    Most of the scholars are of the view that what is narrated from ‘Umar, ‘Ali and other companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is twenty rak’ahs. This is the view of al-Thawri, Ibn al-Mubaarak and al-Shaafa’i.

    Al-Shaafa’i said: This is what I learned in our land, in Makkah they pray twenty rak’ahs.

    Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in al-Istidhkaar (2/69):

    Twenty rak’ahs was narrated from ‘Ali, Shateer ibn Shakl, Ibn Abi Mulaykah, al-Haarith al-Hamadaani and Abu’l-Bakhtari. It is the view of the majority of scholars and it is the view of the Kufis, the Shaafa’is and most of the fuqaha’. It was narrated in saheeh reports from Ubayy ibn Ka’b, and there was no difference of opinion among the Sahaabah. ‘Ata’ said: I grew up at a time when the people prayed twenty-three rak’ahs including Witr.

    See that in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/163).

    Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/112):

    It is proven that Ubayy ibn Ka’b used to lead the people in praying twenty rak’ahs in qiyaam in Ramadaan, and he used to pray Witr with three rak’ahs. Many scholars think that this is the Sunnah, because he established that among the Muhaajireen and Ansaar and no one objected to that. Others regarded it as mustahabb to pray thirty-nine rak’ahs, based on the fact that this was the practice of the people of Madeenah in the past. End quote.

    With regard to what it says in the report of Imam Maalik, Yahya al-Qattaan and others from Muhammad ibn Yoosuf from al-Saa’ib ibn Yazeed in al-Muwatta’ (1/115) and in Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah (2/162) “eleven rak’ahs” – this is to be understood as referring to what was done at first, then it was reduced after that, then ‘Umar increased the number to twenty to make the recitation in qiyaam easier for the people.

    Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said in al-Istidhkaar (2/68):

    It may be understood as meaning that at first qiyaam at the time of ‘Umar was eleven rak’ahs, then he reduced the length of qiyaam for them and made it twenty-one rak’ahs, to make the recitation lighter for them and so that they would bow and prostrate more. But it seems most likely to me that the report about eleven rak’ahs is a mistake. And Allaah knows best. End quote.

    Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/113):

    When Ubayy ibn Ka’b led them in praying qiyaam in a single congregation, he could not make them stand for too long, so he increased the number of rak’ahs to make up for the long standing. So they doubled the number of rak’ahs. He used to pray eleven or thirteen rak’ahs of qiyaam al-layl, then it seems that after that the people of Madeenah found it difficult to stand for so long during the recitation, so they increased the number of rak’ahs until it reached thirty-nine. End quote.

    Secondly:

    Night prayers are broad in scope, and there is no set number. Whoever wants to pray eleven rak’ahs may do so, and whoever wants to pray more or less than that may do so. The same applies to Taraweeh prayers in Ramadaan.

    Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (23/113):

    One group said that it is proven in al-Saheeh from ‘Aa’ishah that the Prophet did not pray more than thirteen rak’ahs in Ramadaan or at any other time, and some people were uncertain about this report, because they thought that it contradicted the saheeh hadeeth and because of the practice of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the actions of the Muslims.

    But the correct view is that all of that is good, as was stated by Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him). There is no set number of rak’ahs for qiyaam during Ramadaan, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not set a number. End quote.

    Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (11/322):

    It is proven that ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) told the one whom he appointed among the Sahaabah to pray eleven rak’ahs, and it is proven that they prayed twenty-three rak’ahs based on his command. This indicates that the matter is broad in scope and that the matter was flexible according to the Sahaabah. That is also indicated by the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “The night prayers are two by two.” End quote.

    See also the answer to question no. 9036 and 38021.

    And Allaah knows best.

  3. Pingback: Open Thread 9-7-08: MM Ramadan Recap | MuslimMatters.org

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#Society

Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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How many of you have gone to work on Eid because you felt there was no point in taking off? No Eid fun. Have you ever found Eid boring, no different from any other day?

If so, you may suffer from ELS (Eid Lameness Syndrome). Growing up, I did too.

My family would wake up, go to salah, go out to breakfast, come home, take a 4+ hour nap and then go out to dinner. I didn’t have friends to celebrate with and even if I did, I wouldn’t see them because we stuck to our own immediate family just as they did.

On the occasion that we went to a park or convention center, we would sort of have fun. Being with other people was certainly better than breakfast-nap-dinner in isolation, but calling that a memorable, satisfying, or genuinely fun Eid would be a stretch.

I don’t blame my parents for the ELS though. They came from a country where Eid celebration was the norm; everyone was celebrating with everyone and you didn’t have to exert any effort. When they moved to the US, where Muslims were a minority, it was uncharted territory. They did the best they could with the limited resources they had.

When I grew up, I did about the same too. When I hear friends or acquaintances tell me that they’re working, doing laundry or whatever other mundane things on Eid, I understand.  Eid has been lame for so long that some people have given up trying to see it any other way. Why take personal time off to sit at home and do nothing?

I stuck to whatever my parents did for Eid because “Eid was a time for family.” In doing so, I was honoring their cultural ideas of honoring family, but not Eid. It wasn’t until I moved away that I decided to rebel and spend Eid with convert friends (versus family) who didn’t have Muslim families to celebrate with on Eid, rather than drive for hours to get home for another lame salah-breakfast-nap-dinner.

That was a game-changing Eid for me. It was the first non-lame Eid I ever had, not because we did anything extraordinary or amazing, but because we made the day special by doing things that we wouldn’t normally do on a weekday together. It was then that I made a determination to never have a lame Eid ever again InshaAllah.

I’m not the only one fighting ELS. Mosques and organizations are creating events for people to attend and enjoy together, and families are opting to spend Eid with other families. There is still much more than can be done, as converts, students, single people, couples without children and couples with very small children, are hard-hit by the isolation and sadness that ELS brings. Here are a few suggestions for helping treat ELS in your community:

Host an open house

Opening up your home to a large group of people is a monumental task that takes a lot of planning and strength. But it comes with a lot of baraka and reward. Imagine the smiling faces of people who would have had nowhere to go on Eid, but suddenly find themselves in your home being hosted. If you have a big home, hosting an open house is an opportunity to express your gratitude to Allah for blessing you with it.

Expand your circle

Eid is about commUNITY. Many people spend Eid alone when potential hosts stick to their own race/class/social status. Invite and welcome others to spend Eid with you in whatever capacity you can.

Delegate

You can enlist the help of close friends and family to help so it’s not all on you. Delegate food, setup, and clean-up across your family and social network so that no one person will be burdened by the effort InshaAllah.

Squeeze in

Don’t worry if you don’t have a big house, you’ll find out how much barakah your home has by how many people are able to fit in it. I’ve been to iftars in teeny tiny apartments where there’s little space but lots of love. If you manage to squeeze in even two or three extra guests, you’ve saved two or three people from ELS for that year.

Outsource Eid Fun

If you have the financial means or know enough friends who can pool together, rent a house. Some housing share sites have homes that can be rented specifically for events, giving you the space to consolidate many, smaller efforts into one larger, more streamlined party.

Flock together

It can be a challenge to find Eid buddies to spend the day with. Try looking for people in similar circumstances as you. I’m a single woman and have hosted a ladies game night for the last few Eids where both married and single women attend.  If you are a couple with young kids, find a few families with children of similar age groups. If you’re a student, start collecting classmates. Don’t wait for other people to invite you, make a list in advance and get working to fend off ELS together.

Give gifts

The Prophet ﷺ said: تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا‏ “Give gifts to increase love for each other”. One of my siblings started a tradition of getting a gift for each person in the family. If that’s too much, pick one friend or family member and give them a gift. If you can’t afford gifts, give something that doesn’t require much money like a card or just your time. You never know how much a card with kind, caring words can brighten a person’s Eid.

Get out of your comfort zone

If you have ELS, chances are there is someone else out there who has it too. The only way to find out if someone is sad and alone on Eid is by admitting that we are first, and asking if they are too.

Try, try, try again…

Maybe you’ve taken off work only to find that going would have been less of a waste of time. Maybe you tried giving gifts and it didn’t go well. Maybe you threw an open house and are still cleaning up/dealing with the aftermath until now. It’s understandable to want to quit and say never again, to relent and accept that you have ELS and always will but please, keep trying. The Ummah needs to believe that Eid can and should be fun and special for everyone.

While it is hard to be vulnerable and we may be afraid of rejection or judgment, the risk is worth it. As a survivor and recoverer of ELS, I know how hard it can be and also how rewarding it is to be free of it. May Allah bless us all with the best Eids and to make the most of the blessed days before and after, Ameen.

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The Etiquettes of Sacrifice for Eid al Adha

Imam Mikaeel Smith

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As Eid al-Adha approaches, the staff at MuslimMatters thought it would be beneficial to include some reminders about this blessed Sunnah. For your convenience, we have links to pdfs of the following articles by Imam Mikaeel Smith and Sr Julie Mair if you would like to print them for yourself or to distribute in your community. -Hena Zuberi, Editor in Chief

A Simple Request for Eid al-Adha | Sr Julie Mair

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. It is a blessed time, a time for celebration, a time to share with family and loved ones—but it can also be a time of immense cruelty if the slaughter is not done properly and mercifully. 

Allah Ta’ala tells us in the Qur’an that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alaihi was sallam, was sent as a rahmatan lil ‘alameena – a mercy to the worlds (Surah al-Anbiya, 21:107). Much has been reported on the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) kind treatment of animals, and some hadith specifically mention animals to be slaughtered:

Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. (Sahih Muslim) 

Etiquettes of the slaughter are often unknown or overlooked, such as: hiding the knife from the animal; slaughtering out of the sight of other animals waiting to be slaughtered; killing in a comfortable way; and avoiding unnecessary suffering. 

Tying an animal’s legs together and leaving it to moan in the hot sun clearly results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Hanging animals together from hooks by their feet and killing them one-by-one results in unnecessary suffering, but this happens. Even less egregious actions such as dragging an animal or otherwise handling it roughly results in unnecessary suffering. It is incumbent on anyone who is going to slaughter an animal to learn the Islamic requirements and etiquettes of slaughtering so that it is done properly and mercifully.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) warned us, “Someone who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

So please, before this Eid al-Adha, educate yourself on the proper and merciful way to slaughter. If you are going to a farm or other facility, make sure that it will be done correctly. Educate those who do not know. Enjoin the good and forbid the wrong.*

Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like the one who did it. 

(Sahih Muslim)

Eid al-Adha will soon be upon us, alhamdulillah. 

To download this article and share in your community, click A Simple Request for Eid

Perfection in all things | Sh Mikaeel Smith

Imam Mikaeel Smith

There are certain narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) that are a source of great inspiration and which force one to discover a higher purpose and the deepest of meanings and lessons in the most trivial actions. These narrations, when continually contemplated upon and kept at the forefront of one’s mind, can create a very profound sense of mindfulness and presence throughout one’s day to day affairs. Throughout our day to day life we have to do a number of seemingly mundane actions for our personal well-being and the well-being of those around us. But there is a single narration that teaches us that there is no such thing as a trivial action or a mundane affair for the believer. Everything has a purpose. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) once said,  

عن أبي يعلى شداد بن أوسٍ رضي الله عنه، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: ((إن الله كتب الإحسان على كل شيءٍ، فإذا قتلتم فأحسنوا القِتْلة، وإذا ذبحتم فأحسنوا الذِّبْحة، ولْيُحِدَّ أحدُكم شفرته، ولْيُرِحْ ذبيحته))؛ رواه مسلم.

“Indeed Allah has ordained perfection and excellence in every matter. When you fight, do so with excellence. When you slaughter an animal do so with excellence. Sharpen your knife because this will make it easier for the animal.” (Muslims #1955)

Everything in life is a chance to strive for perfection and thereby fulfill one’s duty to his or her creator and sustainer. While this narration inspires people of all fields to be the best at what they do, the Prophet ‎ﷺ‎‬‎ mentions two specific examples where excellence should be sought. One is in war and situations of conflict and the other is the ritual sacrifice which takes place at the time of the pilgrimage. It should be noted that perfection just like beauty is highly subjective. Therefore as Muslims, we look to the sunnah or way of Muhammad to define perfection for every affair. 

The sacred month of the pilgrimage is getting close and so we are approaching the time to remember and imitate the sacrifice of Ibrāhīm (AS). We imitate him because he is the quintessential example of submission. By imitating his unparalleled level of submission we become pupils to this great teacher. Imitation is the first step for every student. Secondly, we must understand that imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

It is not the meat or blood of this sacrifice which Allah desires from us — rather obedience. That being said we should learn how to do this sacrifice is the best way.    

My personal opinion as an American Muslim who desires to see Islam as an intrinsic aspect of American religious life, I strongly encourage Muslims in America to personal do their sacrifice themselves instead of sending money for their sacrifice to be done overseas. I am completely aware that there are brothers and sisters who need meat more than ourselves. But this train of thought completely misses the objective of this great act of imitation. If a person wants to help poor Muslims around the world one should do so. But not at the expense of teaching their own family the significance of this day. By outsourcing your ibadah we lose the spiritual impact and meaning. We essentially deprive our children and family of participating in the primary act of worship on this great day. Now let us look at some of the religiously recommended actions that one should observe when doing the sacrifice. Striving for excellence in all things, as Muslims, means first and foremost setting one’s moral compass to the “Prophetic North” by reviewing the Prophetic teachings surrounding this great worship.

Below I have listed a few of the etiquette of this sacrifice:

Internal Aspect

  1. One should internally remember the significance of this sacrifice and what it represents. Study the life of Abraham 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and internalize how he was able to overcome his own moral judgments when he was commanded to sacrifice his own son. 

Pre-Sacrifice Aspects

  1. One must use a very sharp knife. This is done so that there are no complications and delays in the process of slaughter. 
  2. The sharpening of the knife should be done away from the field of vision of the animals.
  3. The animal should be given water before the sacrifice. 
  4. The animal should be gently brought to the place where it will be slaughtered.
  5. The animal should be slaughtered out of the field of vision of the other animals. 
  6. The animal should be gently placed on its left side.
  7. The one doing the slaughter should face the Qiblah.

During the Sacrifice

  1. The slaughter must be as quick as possible.
  1. Before the slaughter one should say, “Allah is the Greatest” thrice followed by the statement, “In the name of Allah”. 
  2. The two major arteries should be cut along with the windpipe. 

Post Sacrifice

  1. It is recommended that the first thing that one eats after the Eid prayer is meat from the sacrifice.  

It is important to keep in mind that the things mentioned above are not mandatory aspects. This means that is someone was to leave out one of these things the sacrifice would still be legally valid, while at the same time lacking the level of perfection that we as Muslims should strive for.  

Through this sacrifice, we are reminded of our pursuit of excellence for the sake of our Creator in all that we do. We perfect our skills, trades, and academic pursuits and all that we do for our love of our creator. Whether one is studying for an exam, or striving to be an athlete, excellence for the sake of Allah is our goal. 

To download this article and share in your community, click Perfection in all things

*More Resources:

http://halalcertification.ie/islamic-method-of-slaughtering/

https://kalamullah.com/Books/The%20Islamic%20Laws%20of%20Animal%20Slaughter.pdf

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Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

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Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.

Story

From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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