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Yaser Birjas | The Days of Hajj Series | Ayyam-ut-Tashreeq

Sh. Yaser Birjas

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

The Days of Hajj Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Three days of Tashreeq: 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah

The days of Tashreeq are the days following the Eid day. These are the appointed days Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) mentioned in Surat al-Baqara:

وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ فِي أَيَّامٍ مَعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَنْ تَعَجَّلَ فِي يَوْمَيْنِ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ وَمَنْ تَأَخَّرَ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ لِمَنِ اتَّقَىٰ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّكُمْ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ

“Celebrate the praises of Allah during the Appointed Days. But if anyone hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if anyone stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right. Then fear Allah, and know that ye will surely be gathered unto Him.” [al-Baqara 2:203]

The strongest opinion on why they are called Ayyam-ut-tashreeq or the days of Tashreeq is because prior to the invention of the refrigeration system, the hujjaj used to slice the meat they acquired from the udhiya and qurbani, season it with salt and then let it dry in the sun in an early and traditional style of food preservation. The dehydrating of the meat allowed the hujjaj to preserve it and carry it with them on their long journey back from wherever they came.

This process in itself is called tashreeq, and it was derived from the the Arabic word شروق or إشراق which means sunrise or sunshine.  The process entails the exposure of the meat to the sun for a long time. And although most of the hujjaj don’t practice this anymore, if you look carefully in the camps of Mina, perhaps you will see some people still practice the tradition, and you might see the meat “jerky” already hung on ropes and on different sides of their tents.

These days are considered days of celebration and worship. It is not recommended for the hujjaj to fast on these days, rather they should enjoy the celebration of the Eid by feasting, eating and drinking. The Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “The days of Tashreeq are days of eating and drinking (i.e. feasting)” (Muslim).

The wisdom behind these days is to allow the hujjaj to celebrate the season and encourage them to eat from the meat they have offered for the sake of Allah.  The hujjaj in the past used to come from far distances, and meat for them was a very precious meal.  Now that they have plenty of it, they were given the incentive and encouragement to consume it during the days of Eid without any feeling of guilt.  It was normal during these days to walk around the camps of Mina seeing smoke all over the place and smelling nothing but barbecue. Today things are different, and pre-catered meals are becoming the standard.  Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) said:

وَالْبُدْنَ جَعَلْنَاهَا لَكُمْ مِنْ شَعَائِرِ اللَّهِ لَكُمْ فِيهَا خَيْرٌ ۖ فَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهَا صَوَافَّ ۖ فَإِذَا وَجَبَتْ جُنُوبُهَا فَكُلُوا مِنْهَا وَأَطْعِمُوا الْقَانِعَ وَالْمُعْتَرَّ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرْنَاهَا لَكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

“The sacrificial camels We have made for you as among the symbols from Allah: in them is (much) good for you: then pronounce the name of Allah over them as they line up (for sacrifice): when they are down on their sides (after slaughter), eat you thereof, and feed such as (beg not but) live in contentment, and such as beg with due humility: thus have We made animals subject to you, that you may be grateful.” [al-Hajj 22:36]

It is only permissible to fast these days for the hujjaj if they were unable to offer the had’y or the sacrificial animal, and therefore these hujjaj become obligated to fast three days during the Hajj and seven when they arrive home. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) said:

فإِذَا أَمِنْتُمْ فَمَنْ تَمَتَّعَ بِالْعُمْرَةِ إِلَى الْحَجِّ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۚ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ فِي الْحَجِّ وَسَبْعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ ۗ تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ ۗ

“…and when ye are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘umra on to the Hajj, he must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during the Hajj and seven days on his return, making ten days in all…” [al-Baqara 2:196]

The days of Tashreeq are minimum of two: the 11th and the 12th; the 13th is an optional day for those who desire to stay longer, as Allah mentioned in the ayah previously quoted:

“But if any one hastens to leave in two days, there is no blame on him, and if any one stays on, there is no blame on him, if his aim is to do right.” [al-Baqara 2:203]

The routine of these days which the hujjaj will continue to follow for the two upcoming days and the optional extra day as well until the end of the Hajj season is as follows:

1. The hujjaj are required to spend most of the night, preferably the entire night, of the days of Tashreeq in Mina. During the Eid day at night, the hujjaj should have already been in Mina and after Fajr they will be allowed to move out to Makkah whether to go to the hotel or go to the Haram for prayer and worship. Some hujjaj, if not even most of them, don’t have hotels anymore, and therefore they spend their days and nights in Mina and that is also valid, and as a matter of fact that was the practice of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam).

2. During these days the hujjaj continue to offer their udhiya and had’y if they haven’t done so yet. They pray every fard salat in the shortened format just like the traveler but performed in its time without the need to combine between them. They also continue their recitation of the Takbeer until the end of the season. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) says:

لَنْ يَنَالَ اللَّهَ لُحُومُهَا وَلَا دِمَاؤُهَا وَلَٰكِنْ يَنَالُهُ التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْكُمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ سَخَّرَهَا لَكُمْ لِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“It is not their meat nor their blood, that reaches Allah: it is your piety that reaches Him: He has thus made them subject to you, that you may glorify Allah (takbeer) for His Guidance to you and proclaim the good news to all who do right.” [al-Hajj 22:37]

Abdullah ibn Umar (radiya Allahu anhu) used to raise his voice with Takbeer while staying in Mina in his camp, and the people would follow his lead and recite their Takbeer until the entire camp resounded with their voices. (Bukhari)

3. The most important practice of these days is the throwing of stones رمي الجمرات at the jamarat site (singular: jamra جمرة the place where the pebbles are thrown and collected). Some call it rajmu-sh-shaytan or the stoning of the devil after the incident of Ibrahim (alayhi salam) with the shaytan or the devil. According to some Muslim scholars and historians, when the shaytan appeared to Ibrahim, he tried to tempt him three times on these sites, and Ibrahim had to cast him away by throwing stones on him.

4. The jamarat are three, located on the northern boundaries of Mina east from Makkah. The closest one from Mina is called al-jamra as-sughra or the minor jamra, then al-wus’ta or the middle one and then the farthest and closest to Makkah al-kubra or the major.

Just few hundred yards away, northeast from the major jamra, a small old masjid is found indicating the location where the early pledge of allegiance known in seerah as bay’ah-tul-aqaba, was given to the Messenger (salla Allahu alayhi was sallam). This was the pledge the people of Yathrib, later known as Madinah and its people the Ansar, had given to the Messenger of Allah to protect him and support his message. This incident prompted the hijra or immigration to Madinah afterwards, marking a new milestone in the history of Islam.

5. With seven pebbles, the hujjaj throw at each and every one of the three jamarat. The pebbles should not be too large, rather each should be as small as a chickpea, and they can be collected from anywhere, even from Makkah itself. The pebbles don’t have to be washed or perfumed as some hujjaj might do, after all it will be thrown at the devil, anyway, according to some. The hujjaj are required to make sure the pebbles land in the pool of stones not outside, and with each stone they say Allahu Akbar. It is disrespectful to the ritual to throw whatever someone might have in his or her hand such as slippers or umbrellas, and it should be treated with full respect for it is the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alayhi was sallam).

6. The timing of this rite of Hajj is critical. The standard opinion is that this should be performed after the time of zawal or when the time of dhuhr is already in until right before sunset. In modern times, due to the size of the Hajj congregation, the limited time window allocated to perform the ritual has created hazardous conditions and a situation prone to disaster. Therefore, to preserve human life, Muslim scholars have made a concession for the hujjaj to use anytime of the day or night to perform this rite.

7. After finishing throwing the stones at each station the hujjaj stand on the side away from the traffic, facing Makkah and raise their hands with du’a and praise and then move on to the next station starting from the minor, the middle and then the major one for last.

8. Once the hujjaj are done, they move on to Makkah if it is still daylight or go to their camps in Mina if it is already night. Because they need to spend the night in Mina anyway, many hujjaj delay this practice until close to time of sunset so they come from their hotels in Makkah in the last hour of the day, perform the jamarat rites and head to the camps right away all in one trip.

9. The fifth day of Hajj is the 12th of Dhul Hijjah. Any pilgrim who desires to hasten and leave early can end his or her Hajj after they perform the throwing of the stones on that day, and they have to be out of Mina before sunset. If they stayed in Mina after sunset then they are required to remain there for the extra day, the 13th, which is the last and final day of Ayyam-ut-tashreeq.

10. It is during this beautiful time the hujjaj get to connect with each other, learn about different cultures, meet scholars from different parts of the world and also make business and trade with each other among many other things they do there. Ironically, it is a time to celebrate the diversity and yet the unity of the whole Muslim Ummah.

Sh. Yaser Birjas is originally from Palestine. He received his Bachelors degree from Islamic University of Madinah in 1996 in Fiqh & Usool, graduating as the class valedictorian. After graduating, he went on to work as a youth counselor and relief program aide in war-torn Bosnia. Thereafter, he immigrated to the U.S. and currently resides in Dallas, Texas. He is also an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, where he teaches popular seminars such as Fiqh of Love, The Code Evolved, and Heavenly Hues.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    muslimah

    November 17, 2010 at 11:14 PM

    beautiful. jazak Allahu khayran shaykhuna!

  2. Avatar

    Bintwadee3

    November 17, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    MashaAllaah

    Jazaak Allaahu Khayran wa baarak Allaahu feek shaykhana.

    -Maymuna

  3. Avatar

    Zakariyya

    November 18, 2010 at 3:03 AM

    In the portion of 2:196 in the article, there’s a typo; could moderator/poster/editor replace the tha’ with a ta’, so it says أمنتم?

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      November 18, 2010 at 7:04 AM

      It does have a taa, not a thaa. You may have thought it was a thaa because the font size is smaller.

  4. Avatar

    Amatullah

    November 18, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    Jazaakum Allahu khayran Shaykh Yaser for this great series. It’s like a behind the scenes version of hajj, it is very beneficial.

  5. Avatar

    abu Abdullah

    November 18, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    jazak Allah khyar shaykh YB :)!!! subahan Allah, I started fasting habitually this morning only to be reminded by my mother from far far away on phone to go and enjoy eating and make dhikr of Allaah.

    i appreciate the series because its very thorough and detailed description. may Allah forgive you and your parents. ameen.

  6. Pingback: Yaser Birjas | The Days of Hajj Series | The Last Day of Hajj | MuslimMatters.org

  7. AbdulHasib

    AbdulHasib

    November 20, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    Bismillah

    as-salamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullah shaykhana,

    ‘Eid Mubarak!

    barakAllahufeekum for the series, mA very beneficial.

    I wanted to add a few notes from something we’re witnessing these few days in Ayam al-Tashriq with regards to the Stoning before Zawal.

    I’m currently in Hajj and working with hajj groups, and seeing the situation live on-site, as well as taking into consideration the allowance for stoning before Zawal that was given in the fatwa a few years ago and what we face currently with regards to the timing.

    The timing of this rite of Hajj is critical. The standard opinion is that this should be performed after the time of zawal or when the time of dhuhr is already in until right before sunset. The size of the Hajj congregation in our modern time and the limited time window allocated to perform it has created a hazardous condition and a situation prone to disaster. Therefore, to preserve the human life Muslim scholars made concession for the hujjaj to use anytime of the day or night to perform this rite of hajj.

    1. With regards to the current situation in Hajj vs. The situation when the fatwa was given to stone at any time.

    Picture: http://www.karwan-e-shabbir.com/images/makkah%20project/Jamarat%20Project%20in%20Menna%20Makkah%20Al%20Mukkerma%20after%20Completion.jpg

    http://www.constructionweekonline.com/pictures/gallery/Projects/jamarat_bridge_web.jpg

    —–a. The Jamarat was only 1 level, and the previous year the fatwa was given, over 300 people died because of the this. The scholars of the Council of Senior Scholars and Fatwa Council in the Saudi Arabia passed the fatwa that due to this condition it was allowed to stone before the time of Zawal in order to preserve human life and allow for the flow of hujjaj. Cue in 2010, there are over 4 floors now, and even in peak times – i.e. right after Dhuhr, it is crowded but not hazardous at all compared to what was faced in the prior condition, billahil hamd.

    2. The ‘illah (cause/reason) for the fatwa does not hold in the current stoning of the Jamarat. The reason for the allowance was the extreme hazard and threat of death that it posed for the hujjaj, and any scholar at the time would know that preservation of human life is first and foremost than establishing the time (i.e. stoning after zawal). The current situation we see a number of subsidiary problems when it comes to Hajj groups and their planning when they take the fatwa that was given:

    ——a. The first problem is that these groups plan for the hujjaj that chose to leave early and on the same day as the 12th day. They plan and book their tickets 6 months in advance so that logistically, the hujjaj have no possibility of stoning after zawal, doing their Farewell Tawaf, and then having enough time to make it to Jeddah to fly out. This is simply a nicely planned “logistical Darurah (necessesity)” that is created 6 months in advance, when the tickets are booked, in order that the hujjaj are forced to take such an allowance because when the time comes they realize they will not be able to stone after zawal – i.e. a “created” darurah. This causes a situation that does not fall under the fatwa of a “hazard to human life.” Rather it’s just bad business practice, i.e. in order to save money, by not planning an extra “travel day.”

    ——b. Confusion ensues by those hujjaj who are not immediately leaving Mina to their homes 2, 3, or even 4 days after the 12th (when most of the Hujjaj leave, Ta’jul): they see that there’s no rush in Jamarat, nor is there a huge hazard, to take the ‘fatwa’ that allows for stoning before zawal, and they are upset and confused whether to follow such an allowance or not.

    ——c. Business practices of Hajj groups and the effect of the Fatwa. There seems to be a clear pattern between how Hajj groups book their tickets for their Hujjaj in order to save themselves money, and a connection with these groups taking the allowance of the fatwa that spoke for a specific ‘illah (reason) in a specific time frame, and to a specific situation. From what we see in the current situation and all indications point to one conclusion: the fatwa is outdated, and there needs to be a rectification based on the current situation.

    ——d. Not all Hajj groups are out to make such business profit based on taking the fatwa, on the contrary, many do want good and to establish the best Hajj for their Hujjaj, but in light of the outdated nature and the lack of “recalling the fatwa,” nor clarification of it in today’s current situation – they are continuing to tell their Hujjaj the fatwa and to stone before zawal.

    Given all that has been mentioned, seeing the situation live on the ground, and discussing this with scholars here, the solution to this isn’t that difficult whatsoever to implement.
    1. There is a current plan by students to write to the Fatwa Council in Saudi Arabia to clarify the situation with regards to stoning in light of the modern building of the Jamarat and the ease of the matter to implement the stoning after Zawal, and to clarify that the reason for the allowance of the previous fatwa, no longer exists.

    2. The Ministry of Hajj can strictly enforce timings and do a better job with crowd control by allocating the crowd to the different levels (even though it’s not Hazardously crowded!). It’s not difficult to route the groups based on the current way it is setup masha’Allah, very easy and it can facilitate constant flow on all levels.

    3. Given if there are people who have issues with the crowds as well as the time, we can turn to the Fatwa of Allowance to Stone in the Nights (not the night BEFORE, the night OF). We can easily take the allowance of the scholars that makes more sense, and that is to stone in the night of the same day, for women, elderly, or anyone – instead of BEFORE zawal, to stone after zawal and after maghrib. The fatwa for this has been given by dozens of major scholars and makes more sense to implement in the current situation to ease the crowds.

    Insha’Allah, the above 2 out of 3 will be implemented soon and hopefully we can get a response from the Council and publish it, and through this can fully establish the means to help the Hujjaj establish the rite of stoning the Jamarat in the most correct way.

    BarakAllahufeekum

    AbdulHasib

  8. Avatar

    tina

    January 13, 2013 at 4:30 AM

    is their such thing as day 7 hajj
    if their is some information can u let me know

  9. Pingback: The Great Fives in Islam! « YasSarNal QuR'aN

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

Abu Ryan Dardir

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charity
Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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Eid Lameness Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, Cure

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Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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

Which deeds are most beloved to Allah?

Alhamdulillah, by the blessings of Allah (swt) and readers like yourself, MuslimMatters has been an independent platform for our best thought leaders to educate us in our faith and catalyze change through powerful, necessary conversations. Since our humble beginnings as a basic wordpress blog in 2007, our content has remained free.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support us with a monthly donation of $10 per month, or even as little as $1. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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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