Thursday, November 27, 2008

Are we being ripped off?

I received this by way of mail and I wont mention the company's name but I think this is a bit unfair, well in my opinion anyway...I know of people who are travelling for Hajj and the agent they went with charged them the price they were quoted whilst others changed according to the tune of the dollar hmm sad but i guess business is business!

Are we being ripped off or what??

Some1 & Some1 Travel Co regrets to advise that due to the massive volatility of the Rand (ZAR), you our valued client will no longer be advised of impending Rates of Exchange Adjustments. Invoices can unfortunately only be honoured for immediate payment.

We ask that you call us to confirm latest currency updates on your quotation at the time that You are ready to make payment. Quotations are an indication of price only during this difficult time.

We thank you for your understanding.

My Mother's Hands

My Mother's Hands

Eid was nearing and I felt it was necessary to get my Grand Mother (nani ma) a new Abaya (Cloak) as her other Abayas were frail and worn out. I stopped by on Saturday morning and told my nani to come along as I have a surprise for her.

I don't normally like to go shopping as I'm not a patient person, but we set off for the mall together. We visited nearly every Islamic Clothing Store that carried ladies' Abayas and she tried on many. We were so undecided. Some were too huge, others too small..some were just right but the colour was not so smart etc.

As the day wore on, I grew weary. Finally, at our last stop, my nani ma tried on a lovely Brown Abaya that had lovely beige ribbon trimmings. The Abaya had some bows in front. As I stood in the dressing room with her, I watched as she tried, with much difficulty, to tie the bows. Her hands were so badly crippled from arthritis that she couldn't do it. Immediately, my impatience gave way to an overwhelming wave of compassion for her. I turned away to try and hide the tears that welled up involuntarily. Regaining my composure, I turned back to tie each of the bows for her.

Our shopping trip was over, but the event was etched indelibly in my memory. For the rest of the day, my mind kept returning to that moment in the dressing room and to the vision of my nani ma's hands trying to tie that bow. Those loving hands that had fed me, bathed me, dressed me,
caressed and comforted me and most of all prayed for me, were now touching me in the most remarkable manner.

Later in the evening, I went to her room, took her hands in mine, kissed them and much to her delight and surprise I told her that to me they were the most beautiful hands in the world. Tears started falling profusely from her aged and weak eyes as I narrated my appreciativeness for all that her beautiful hands had done for me since I could remember. I could not forget how she stood at my bed side for days and fed me with those beautiful hands while I recovered from an accident. I was 17 at that time. Today at 27 I can only pray that some day Allah (swt) will let my hands
and my heart achieve such a beauty of their own.

"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." Qura'an-[Surah al-Ahqaf 46:15]

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallahu Alayhi Wassallam) is reported to have said (may Allah (swt)'s [peace and blessings be upon him): "Jannah [heaven] lies under the feet of your mother"

"Shall I not inform you of the biggest of the great sins?" We [his companions] said, "Yes, O Allah's Apostle [pbuh]" He said, "To join partners in worship with Allah (swt) and to be undutiful to one's parents."

Let us not wait for a special day to show kindness to our parents! Do as much good today as they may not be with us tomorrow!!!!

May Allah (swt) grant our mother's / grandmothers that which they rightly deserve. Let us make Dua'a for each them and treasure them for what they do and have done for us...

5 Days of Hajj

As-Salaamu-Alaikum Dear Readers

This is a long read but worthwhile...


Allah prescribed Hajj once in a lifetime upon the Muslims who have the means and are physically able to perform it. There are three types of Hajj: Hajj at-Tamattu', Hajj al-Qiran and Hajj alIf rad. In this article, we will explain the procedure for Hajj Al-Tamatt'u as it is the most recommended one.

In this type, one is to perform 'Umrah during the Hajj months (i.e. Shawwal, Thul-Qe'dah and the first ten nights of Thul-Hijjah) and to perform the Hajj in the same year with a sacrifice slaughtered in Mina on the day of Eid Al Adh'ha (The 10th day of Thul-Hijjah) or during the days of Tashreeq (i.e. the 11th, 12th and 13th day of Thul-Hijjah). The pilgrim may remove his Ihram garments and resume his normal activities between 'Umrah and Hajj. It is necessary to make the Tawaf and the Sa'i twice, the first time for 'Umrah and the second time for Hajj. We describe in the following the sequence of the Hajj journey.


Ihram is the intention of the person willing to perform all rites of 'Umrah, Hajj or both when he arrives at the Miqat. Each direction coming into Makkah has its own Miqat. It is recommended that the one who intends to perform Hajj makes Ghusl (a shower with the intention to purify one's self), perfumes his body, but not his garments, and puts on a two piece garment with no headgear. The garments should be of seamless cloth. One piece to cover the upper part of the body, and the second to cover the lower part. For a woman the Ihram is the same except that she should not use perfumes at all and her dress should cover the whole body decently, leaving the hands and the face uncovered. The pilgrim should say the intention according to the type of Hajj. For Hajj Al-Tamatt'u one should say: "Labbayka Allahumma 'Umrah" which means "O Allah I answered Your call to perform 'Umrah". It is recommended to repeat the well known supplication of Hajj, called Talbeyah, as frequently as possible from the time of Ihram till the time of the first stoning of Jamrat Al-Aqabah in Mina. Men are recommended to utter the Talbeyah aloud while women are to say it quietly. This Talbeyah is of the form:

"Labbayka Allahumma Labbayk. Labbayka La Shareeka Laka Labbayk. Inna-alhamda Wan-ntimata Laka Walmulk. La Shareek Lak." (Here I am at your service. O my Lord, here I am. Here I am. No partner do You have. Here I am. Truly, the praise and the provisions are Yours, and so is the dominion. No partner do You have.)

Performing 'Umrah

Tawaf: When a Muslim arrives to Makkah, he should make Tawaf around the Ka'bah, as a gesture of greeting A1Masjid Al-Haraam. This is done by circling the Ka'bah seven times in the counterclockwise direction, starting from the black stone with Takbeer and ending each circle at the Black Stone with Takbeer, keeping the Ka'bah to one's left. Then the pilgrim goes to Maqam Ibrahim (Ibrahim's Station), and performs two rak'ah behind it, close to it if possible, but away from the path of the people making Tawaf. In all cases one should be facing the Ka'bah when praying behind Maqam Ibrahim.

Sa'i: The next rite is to make Sa'i between Safa and Marwah. The pilgrim starts Sa'i by ascending the Safa. While facing the Ka'bah he praises Allah, raises his hands and says Takbeer "Allah-u Akbar" three times, then makes supplication to Allah. Then the pilgrim descends from the Safa and heads towards the Marwah. One should increase the pace between the clearly marked green posts, but should walk at a normal pace before and after them. When the pilgrim reaches the Marwah, he should ascend it, praise Allah and do as he did at the Safa. This is considered one round and so is the other way from the Marwah to the Safa. A total of seven rounds are required to perform the Sa'i. After Sa'i, the Muslim ends his 'Umrah rites by shaving his head or trimming his hair (women should cut a finger tip's length from their hair). At this stage, the prohibitions pertaining to the state of Ihram are lifted and one can resume his normal life.

There are no required formulas or supplications for Tawaf or for Sa'i. It is up to the worshipper to praise Allah or to supplicate Him with any acceptable supplication or to recite portions of the Qur'an. Although it is recommended to recite the supplications that the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, used to say during the performance of these rites.

It must be noted that 'Umrah can be performed by itself as described above at any time of the year.

Going out to Mina on the day of Tarwiah

A pilgrim performing Hajj AlTamatt'u should intend Ihram, from the place where he is staying, on the 8th day of Thul-Hijjah, which is the Tarwiah Day, and leave to Mina in the morning. In Mina, the pilgrims pray Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib and Isha of the 8th day of ThulHijjah and Fajr of the 9th day of ThulHijjah. Dhuhr, Asr and Isha are each shortened to two Rak'ah only, but are not combined. The pilgrim remains in Mina until sunrise of the 9th day of ThulHijjah and then leaves to Arafat.

Departure to Arafat

On the 9th day of Thul-Hijjah, the Day of Arafat, the pilgrims stay in Arafat until sunset. The pilgrims pray Dhuhr and Asr at Arafat, shortened and combined dur ing the time of Dhuhr to save the rest of the day for glorifying Allah and for supplication asking forgiveness. A pilgrim should make sure that he is within the boundaries of Arafat, not necessarily standing on the mountain of Arafat. The Prophet salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, said: "I stood here on this rocky hill and all Arafat is a standing place" Muslim. One should keep reciting Talbeyah, glorifying Allah the Greatest and repeating supplication. It is also reported that the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, used to say the following supplication: "There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, the One without a partner. The dominion and the praise are His and He is powerful over everything." Anas Ibn Malik was asked once how he and his friends used to spend their time while walking from Mina to Arafat in the company of the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam. Anas said: "Some of us used to cry out Talbeyah, others used to glorify Allah the Greatest and the rest used to repeat prayers. Each one of us was free to worship Allah in the way he likes without prejudice or renunciation of his right." Bukhari.

In the vast square plain of Arafat, tears are shed, sins are washed and faults are redressed for those who ask Allah for forgiveness and offer sincere repentance for their wrong doings in the past. Happy is the person who receives the Mercy and Pleasure of Allah on this particular day.

The departure from Arafat

Soon after sunset on the Day of Arafat, the pilgrims leave for Muzdalifah quietly and reverently in compliance with the advice of the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, who said when he noticed people walking without calmness: "O people! Be quiet, hastening is not a sign of righteousness." Bukhari. In order to follow the example of the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, it is preferable to keep reciting the Talbeyah, glorifying Allah the Greatest and mentioning the name of Allah until the time of stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah (a stone pillar in Mina). In Muzdalifah, the pilgrim performs Maghrib and Isha prayers combined, shortening the Isha prayer to two Rak'ah.Pilgrims stay overnight in Muzdalifah to perform the Fajr prayer and wait until the brightness of the morning is widespread before they leave to Mina passing through the sacred Mash'ar valley.

Women and weak individuals are allowed to proceed to Mina at any time after midnight to avoid the crowd.

Stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah

When the pilgrims arrive at Mina, they go to Jamrat Al-Aqabah where they stone it with seven pebbles glorifying Allah "Allah-u Akbar" at each throw and calling on Him to accept their Hajj. The time of stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah is after sunrise. The Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, threw the pebbles late in the morning and permitted weak people to stone after leaving Muzdalifah after midnight. The size of the pebbles should not be more than that of a bean as described by the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihe wa salam, who warned against exaggeration. The pebbles can be picked up either in Muzdalifah or in Mina.

Slaughter of Sacrifice

After stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah, the pilgrim goes to slaughter his sacrifice either personally or through the appointment of somebody else to do it on his behalf. A pilgrim should slaughter either a sheep, or share a cow or a camel with six others.

Shaving the head or trimming the hair

The final rite on the tenth day after offering his sacrifice is to shave one' s head or to cut some of the hair. Shaving the head is, however, preferable for it was reported that the Prophet prayed three times for those who shaved their heads, when he said: "May Allah's Mercy be upon those who shaved their heads." Bukhari and Muslim. For women, the length of hair to be cut is that of a finger tip. The stoning of Jamrat Al-Aqabah and the shaving of head or trimming of hair symbolizes the end of the first phase of the state of Ihram and the lifting of its restrictions except for sexual intercourse with one's spouse. Stoning Jamrat Al-Aqabah, slaughtering the sacrifice and shaving the head or cutting part of the hair are preferred to be in this order, as it is the order that the Prophet, salla Allah-u alaihe wa salam, did them. However, if they are done in any other order, there is no harm in that.

Tawaf Al-Ifadhah

Tawaf Al-Ifadhah is a fundamental rite of Hajj. The pilgrim makes Tawaf-AIIfadhah by visiting Al-Masjid AlHaraam and circling the Ka'bah seven times and praying two Rak'ah behind Maqam Ibrahim. Then the pilgrim should make Sa'i between the Safa and the Marwah. After Tawaf Al-Ifadhah the state of Ihram is completely ended and all restrictions are lifted including sexual intercourse with one's spouse.

Tawaf Al-Ifadhah can be delayed until the days spent at Mina are over.

Return to Mina

The pilgrim should return to Mina and spend there the days of Tashreeq (i.e. the I I th, 1 2th and 1 3th day of Thul-Hijjah). l During each day, and after Dhuhr prayer, the pilgrim stones the three stone pillars called "Jamarat": The small, the medium and Jamrat Al-Aqabah, glorifying Allah "Allah-u Akbar" with each throw of the seven pebbles stoned at each pillar. These pebbles are picked up in Mina. A l Pilgrim may leave Mina to Makkah on the 13th of Thul-Hijjah or on the 12th if he wishes, there is no blame on him if he chooses the later, but he has to leave before sunset.

Farewell Tawaf - Alwida'a Tawaf

Farewell Tawaf is the final rite of Hajj. It is to make another Tawaf around the Ka'bah. Ibn Abbas said: "The people were ordered to perform the Tawaf around the Ka'bah as the last thing before leaving Makkah, except the menstruating women who were excused." Bukhari.

One fifth of humankind shares a single aspiration: to complete, at least once in a lifetime, the spiritual journey called the Hajj.

The hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah, a central duty of Islam whose origins date back to the Prophet Abraham, brings together Muslims of all races and tongues for one of life's most moving spiritual experiences.

For 14 centuries, countless millions of Muslims, men and women from the four corners of the earth, have made the pilgrimage to Makkah, the birthplace of Islam. In carrying out this obligation, they fulfill one of the five "pillars" of Islam, or central religious duties of the believer.

Muslims trace the recorded origins of the divinely prescribed pilgrimage to the Prophet Abraham, or Ibrahim, as he is called in Arabic. According to the Qur'an, it was Abraham who, together with Ishmael (Isma'il), built the Ka'bah, "the House of God," the focal point toward which Muslims turn in their worship five times each day. It was Abraham, too - known as Khalil Allah, "the friend of God" - who established the rituals of the hajj, which recall events or practices in his life and that of Hagar (Hajar) and their son Ishmael.

In the chapter entitled "The Pilgrimage," the Qur'an speaks of the divine command to perform the hajj and prophesies the permanence of this institution:

And when We assigned for Abraham the place of the House, saying "Do not associate Anything with Me, and purify My House for those who go around it and for those who stand and bow and prostrate themselves in worship. And proclaim the Pilgrimage among humankind: They will come to you on foot and on every camel made lean By traveling deep, distant ravines.

By the time the Prophet Muhammad received the divine call, however, pagan practices had come to muddy some of the original observances of the hajj. The Prophet, as ordained by God, continued the Abrahamic hajj after restoring its rituals to their original purity.

Furthermore, Muhammad himself instructed the believers in the rituals of the hajj. He did this in two ways: by his own practice, or by approving the practices of his Companions. This added some complexity to the rituals, but also provided increased flexibility in carrying them out, much to the benefit of pilgrims ever since. It is lawful, for instance, to have some variation in the order in which the several rites are carried out, because the Prophet himself is recorded as having approved such actions. Thus, the rites of the hajj are elaborate, numerous and varied; aspects of some of them are highlighted below.

The hajj to Makkah is a once-in-a-lifetime obligation upon male and female adults whose health and means permit it, or, in the words of the Qur'an, upon "those who can make their way there." It is not an obligation on children, though some children do accompany their parents on this journey.

Before setting out, a pilgrim should redress all wrongs, pay all debts, plan to have enough funds for his own journey and for the maintenance of his family while he is away, and prepare himself for good conduct throughout the hajj.

When pilgrims undertake the hajj journey, they follow in the footsteps of millions before them. Nowadays hundreds of thousands of believers from over 70 nations arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by road, sea and air every year, completing a journey now much shorter and in some ways less arduous than it often was in the past.

Till the 19th century, traveling the long distance to Makkah usually meant being part of a caravan. There were three main caravans: the Egyptian one, which formed in Cairo; the Iraqi one, which set out from Baghdad; and the Syrian, which, after 1453, started at Istanbul, gathered pilgrims along the way, and proceeded to Makkah from Damascus.

As the hajj journey took months if all went well, pilgrims carried with them the provisions they needed to sustain them on their trip. The caravans were elaborately supplied with amenities and security if the persons traveling were rich, but the poor often ran out of provisions and had to interrupt their journey in order to work, save up their earnings, and then go on their way. This resulted in long journeys which, in some cases, spanned ten years or more. Travel in earlier days was filled with adventure. The roads were often unsafe due to bandit raids. The terrain the pilgrims passed through was also dangerous, and natural hazards and diseases often claimed many lives along the way. Thus, the successful return of pilgrims to their families was the occasion of joyous celebration and thanksgiving for their safe arrival.

Lured by the mystique of Makkah and Madinah, many Westerners have visited these two holy cities, on which the pilgrims converge, since the 15th century. Some of them disguised themselves as Muslims; others, who had genuinely converted, came to fulfill their duty. But all seem to have been moved by their experience, and many recorded their impressions of the journey and the rituals of the hajj in fascinating accounts. Many hajj travelogues exist, written in languages as diverse as the pilgrims themselves.

The pilgrimage takes place each year between the eighth and the 13th days of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar. Its first rite is the donning of the ihram.

The ihram, worn by men, is a white seamless garment made up of two pieces of cloth or toweling; one covers the body from waist to ankle and the other is thrown over the shoulder. This garb was worn by both Abraham and Muhammad. Women generally wear a simple white dress and a headcovering, but not a veil. Men's heads must be uncovered; both men and women may use an umbrella.

The ihram is a symbol of purity and of the renunciation of evil and mundane matters. It also indicates the equality of all people in the eyes of God. When the pilgrim wears his white apparel, he or she enters into a state of purity that prohibits quarreling, committing violence to man or animal and having conjugal relations. Once he puts on his hajj clothes the pilgrim cannot shave, cut his nails or wear any jewelry, and he will keep his unsown garment on till he completes the pilgrimage.

A pilgrim who is already in Makkah starts his hajj from the moment he puts on the ihram. Some pilgrims coming from a distance may have entered Makkah earlier with their ihram on and may still be wearing it. The donning of the ihram is accompanied by the primary invocation of the hajj, the talbiyah:

Here I am, O God, at Thy Command! Here I am at Thy Command! Thou art without associate; Here I am at Thy Command! Thine are praise and grace and dominion! Thou art without associate.

The thunderous, melodious chants of the talbiyah ring out not only in Makkah but also at other nearby sacred locations connected with the hajj.

On the first day of the hajj, pilgrims sweep out of Makkah toward Mina, a small uninhabited village east of the city. As their throngs spread through Mina, the pilgrims generally spend their time meditating and praying, as the Prophet did on his pilgrimage.

During the second day, the 9th of Dhu al-Hijjah, pilgrims leave Mina for the plain of 'Arafat for the wuquf, "the standing," the central rite of the hajj. As they congregate there, the pilgrims' stance and gathering reminds them of the Day of Judgment. Some of them gather at the Mount of Mercy, where the Prophet delivered his unforgettable Farewell Sermon, enunciating far-reaching religious, economic, social and political reforms. These are emotionally charged hours, which the pilgrims spend in worship and supplication. Many shed tears as they ask God to forgive them. On this sacred spot, they reach the culmination of their religious lives as they feel the presence and closeness of a merciful God.

The first Englishwoman to perform the hajj, Lady Evelyn Cobbold, described in 1934 the feelings pilgrims experience during the wuquf at 'Arafat. "It would require a master pen to describe the scene, poignant in its intensity, of that great concourse of humanity of which I was one small unit, completely lost to their surroundings in a fervor of religious enthusiasm. Many of the pilgrims had tears streaming down their cheeks; others raised their faces to the starlit sky that had witnessed this drama so often in the past centuries. The shining eyes, the passionate appeals, the pitiful hands outstretched in prayer moved me in a way that nothing had ever done before, and I felt caught up in a strong wave of spiritual exaltation. I was one with the rest of the pilgrims in a sublime act of complete surrender to the Supreme Will which is Islam."

She goes on to describe the closeness pilgrims feel to the Prophet while standing in 'Arafat: " I stand beside the granite pillar, I feel I am on Sacred ground. I see with my mind's eye the Prophet delivering that last address, over thirteen hundred years ago, to the weeping multitudes. I visualize the many preachers who have spoken to countless millions who have assembled on the vast plain below; for this is the culminating scene of the Great Pilgrimage."

The Prophet is reported to have asked God to pardon the sins of pilgrims who "stood" at 'Arafat, and was granted his wish. Thus, the hopeful pilgrims prepare to leave this plain joyfully, feeling reborn without sin and intending to turn over a new leaf.

Just after sunset, the mass of pilgrims proceeds to Muzdalifah, an open plain about halfway between 'Arafat and Mina. There they first pray and then collect a fixed number of chickpea-sized pebbles to use on the following days.

Before daybreak on the third day, pilgrims move en masse from Muzdalifah to Mina. There they cast at white pillars the pebbles they have previously collected. According to some traditions, this practice is associated with the Prophet Abraham. As pilgrims throw seven pebbles at each of these pillars, they remember the story of Satan's attempt to persuade Abraham to disregard God's command to sacrifice his son.

Throwing the pebbles is symbolic of humans' attempt to cast away evil and vice, not once but seven times - the number seven symbolizing infinity.

Following the casting of the pebbles, most pilgrims sacrifice a goat, sheep or some other animal. They give the meat to the poor after, in some cases, keeping a small portion for themselves.

This rite is associated with Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son in accordance with God's wish. It symbolizes the Muslim's willingness to part with what is precious to him, and reminds us of the spirit of Islam, in which submission to God's will plays a leading role. This act also reminds the pilgrim to share worldly goods with those who are less fortunate, and serves as an offer of thanksgiving to God.

As the pilgrims have, at this stage, finished a major part of the hajj, they are now allowed to shed their ihram and put on everyday clothes. On this day Muslims around the world share the happiness the pilgrims feel and join them by performing identical, individual sacrifices in a worldwide celebration of 'Id al-Adha, "the Festival of Sacrifice." Men either shave their heads or clip their hair, and women cut off a symbolic lock, to mark their partial deconsecration. This is done as a symbol of humility. All proscriptions, save the one of conjugal relations, are now lifted.

Still so journing in Mina, pilgrims visit Makkah to perform another essential rite of the hajj: the tawaf, the seven-fold circling of the Ka'bah, with a prayer recited during each circuit. Their circumambulation of the Ka'bah, the symbol of God's oneness, implies that all human activity must have God at its center. It also symbolizes the unity of God and man.

Thomas Abercrombie, a convert to Islam and a writer and photographer for National Geographic Magazine, performed the hajj in the 1970's and described the sense of unity and harmony pilgrims feel during the circling: "Seven times we circled the shrine," he wrote, "repeating the ritual devotions in Arabic: 'Lord God, from such a distant land I have come unto Thee.... Grant me shelter under Thy throne.' Caught up in the whirling scene, lifted by the poetry of the prayers, we orbited God's house in accord with the atoms, in harmony with the planets."

While making their circuits pilgrims may kiss or touch the Black Stone. This oval stone, first mounted in a silver frame late in the seventh century, has a special place in the hearts of Muslims as, according to some traditions, it is the sole remnant of the original structure built by Abraham and Ishmael. But perhaps the single most important reason for kissing the stone is that the Prophet did so.

No devotional significance whatsoever is attached to the stone, for it is not, nor has ever been, an object of worship. The second caliph, 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, made this crystal clear when, on kissing the stone himself in emulation of the Prophet, he proclaimed: "I know that you are but a stone, incapable of doing good or harm. Had I not seen the Messenger of God kiss you - may God's blessing and peace be upon him - I would not kiss you."

After completing the tawaf, pilgrims pray, preferably at the Station of Abraham, the site where Abraham stood while he built the Ka'bah. Then they drink of the water of Zamzam.

Another, and sometimes final, rite is the sa'y, or "the running." This is a reenactment of a memorable episode in the life of Hajirah, who was taken into what the Qur'an calls the "uncultivable valley" of Makkah, with her infant son Ishmael, to settle there.

The sa'y commemorates Hagar's frantic search for water to quench Ishmael's thirst. She ran back and forth seven times between two rocky hillocks, al-Safa and al-Marwah, until she found the sacred water known as Zamzam. This water, which sprang forth miraculously under Ishmael's tiny feet, is now enclosed in a marble chamber the Ka'bah.

These rites performed, the pilgrims are completely deconsecrated: They may resume all normal activities. According to the social customs of some countries, pilgrims can henceforth proudly claim the title of al-Hajj or Hajji.

They now return to Mina, where they stay up to the 12th or 13th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. There they throw their remaining pebbles at each of the pillars in the manner either practiced or approved by the Prophet. They then take leave of the friends they have made during the Hajj. Before leaving Makkah, however, pilgrims usually make a final tawaf round the Ka'bah to bid farewell to the Holy City.

Usually pilgrims either precede or follow the hajj, "the greater pilgrimage," with the 'umrah, "the lesser pilgrimage," which is sanctioned by the Qur'an and was performed by the Prophet. The 'umrah, unlike the hajj, takes place only in Makkah itself and can be performed at any time of the year. The ihram, talbiyah and the restrictions required by the state of consecration are equally essential in the 'umrah, which also shares three other rituals with the hajj: the tawaf, sa'y and shaving or clipping the hair. The observance of the 'umrah by pilgrims and visitors symbolizes veneration for the unique sanctity of Makkah.

Before or after going to Makkah, pilgrims also avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the hajj or the 'umrah to visit the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah, the second holiest city in Islam. Here, the Prophet lies buried in a simple grave under the green dome of the mosque. The visit to Madinah is not obligatory, as it is not part of the hajj or 'umrah, but the city - which welcomed Muhammad when he migrated there from Makkah - is rich in moving memories and historical sites that are evocative of him as a prophet and statesman.

In this city, loved by Muslims for centuries, people still feel the presence of the Prophet's spirit. Muhammad Asad, an Austrian Jew who converted to Islam in 1926 and made five pilgrimages between 1927 and 1932, comments on this aspect of the city: "Even after thirteen centuries [the Prophet's] spiritual presence is almost as alive here as it was then. It was only because of him that the scattered group of villages once called Yathrib became a city and has been loved by all Muslims down to this day as no city anywhere else in the world has ever been loved. It has not even a name of its own: for more than thirteen hundred years it has been called Madinat an-Nabi, 'the City of the Prophet.' For more than thirteen hundred years, so much love has converged here that all shapes and movements have acquired a kind of family resemblance, and all differences of appearance find a tonal transition into a common harmony."

As pilgrims of diverse races and tongues return to their homes, they carry with them cherished memories of Abraham, Ishmael, Hajirah, and Muhammad. They will always remember that universal concourse, where poor and rich, black and white, young and old, met on equal footing.

They return with a sense of awe and serenity: awe for their experience at 'Arafat, when they felt closest to God as they stood on the site where the Prophet delivered his sermon during his first and last pilgrimage; serenity for having shed their sins on that plain, and being thus relieved of such a heavy burden. They also return with a better understanding of the conditions of their brothers in Islam. Thus is born a spirit of caring for others and an understanding of their own rich heritage that will last throughout their lives.

The pilgrims go back radiant with hope and joy, for they have fulfilled God's ancient injunction to humankind to undertake the pilgrimage. Above all, they return with a prayer on their lips: May it please God, they pray, to find their hajj acceptable, and may what the Prophet said be true of their own individual journey: "There is no reward for a pious pilgrimage but Paradise."

May Allah (swt) grant us each the lifetime opportunity to go for Hajj / Umrah, Inshallah Aameen ~ Thummah Aameen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Umra with the Hiltons

How many of us are guilty of this?? Hmm food for thought...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Invitation Anyone...?

Update: It's beyond barbaric

Domestic held over gruesome Laudium killing

Police have made a breakthrough in the horrific murder of a Laudium mother who was bludgeoned and strangled to death in her home last week.

The murder of Rashida Ahmed, 49, had sparked outrage in the community and led to several high-level provincial government and police delegations visiting the area to restore calm.

The Pretoria News on Monday learnt that Ahmed's domestic worker, Sara Malatji, who was injured during the attack, was arrested at her home at the Itireleng informal settlement last week.

Malatji, who appeared in the Atteridgeville magistrate's court on charges of murder and house robbery, had confessed before a Pretoria Magistrate on Friday before she was charged. She will appear again on December 1.

While police remained tight-lipped about the arrests, detectives confirmed that Malatji had been arrested and had appeared in court.

"She appeared in court today (Monday) on charges of murder and house robbery after confessing to a magistrate at the Pretoria Regional Court and has been remanded in custody until next week," said an investigator, who asked not to be named.

Asked about more arrests, police said they were hoping to make more very soon.

"The arrests are imminent. We will catch them," said the officer.

Ahmed and Malatji were attacked in the former's home last Monday. Three men are being sought. It is believed they gained access to the house with the help of an employee.

The three killers were claimed to have overpowered Malatji before they turned on Ahmed, who was in her bedroom.

They beat her repeatedly in the face and around the neck and chest with various weapons for nearly an hour while dragging her around the house in search of money and other valuables.

The house, even the loft, was ransacked.

It is also apparently clear that at least one of the attackers was armed with a sharp blade.

While police have refused to say whether Ahmed was tortured, neighbours' descriptions of how she tried to claw her way through a security gate while screaming and begging for help paint a different picture and bear testimony to the rage and ferociousness of the killers.

The murder of Ahmed came three years after her brother, Hussain Abdulrahman, was killed in the driveway of his home in a hijacking just a street away from his sister's house.

Yesterday, Ahmed's brother-in-law, Shamshoo Ahmed, said they were pleased that at least one arrest had been made.

"Finally justice is being done. We now need to see all of those who were involved in Rashida's murder being arrested.

"We want justice to take its course so that the family can get closure," he said.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Deft definitions or Nifty Notions

The hydraulic force by which masculine will power is defeated by feminine waterpower.

A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

The name men give to their mistakes.

A person who starts taking a bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

A person who says that O is the last letter in ZERO, Instead of the first letter in word OPPORTUNITY

A banker provided by nature.

Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dua'a for the Day

Bimillahirahmaan nir raheem

Oh most merciful Allah we are your servants, please forgive our sins and overlook our faults

Oh Allah forgive those who are deceased and shower blessing on their graves

Oh Allah give strength to those who are weak and give them Shifa'a

Oh Allah forgive our sins that we have committed intentionally and unintentionally

Oh Allah give children to those who can not bare children

Oh Allah guide us on the right path and instill Imaan in us

Oh Allah please grant us the opportunity to go for Haj

Oh Allah accept this humble Dua'a, fulfill all Halaal wishes,

Desires and wants of my fellow family members, friends and myself...

Inshallah, Aameen


Jummah Mubarak

Ever played monopoly? Funny how good it feels to be the winner, owning the best streets and having a few hotels while the cash is flowing, but at the end of the game, the winner has to put all the money, hotels and houses back into the box.

The same applies in life, when you die everything has to go back into the box. That brings up the question of "what is success?" To have all the money in the world? To be a director of a company? To drive the most expensive car?

NO, it cant be, because at the end, everything has to go back into the box....and when you get to the gate these things will not be your ticket to enter the Kingdom of Jannah.

So, what is success? To seek the pleasure of Allah first and all other things will be added unto you (freedom, happiness, health, unity, prosperity, peace) and the bonus is when you die, you will have eternal life.

Trust in ALLAH ~ Jummah Mubarak

A Good Read...??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's beyond barbaric

As I got news of this last night on the Radio, I thought what has come of us, can people be so cruel - so heartless?

Is this the way we treat human's? Where is our sense of compassion, are these killers not afraid of the law...Oh what Law I ask for there is no law except one that protects these criminals...

I am saddened by these events and more so this could be my mother, sister, granmum or aunt...

'It's beyond barbaric'

A Pretoria woman was hacked to death and her domestic worker seriously injured in what has been described by police as one of the Pretoria's most brutal murders yet.

Rashida Ahmed, 49, was at her home in Laudium on Monday when two men forced their way inside.

Locking themselves inside the house, the men, who are believed to have been armed with a spade and a panga, overpowered Ahmed's domestic worker, Sara Malatji, before they attacked Ahmed, who was in her bedroom.

Police sources say the men, over the period of about an hour, repeatedly hit Ahmed over the head, shoulders neck and chest as they dragged her around the house demanding money. The house was ransacked by the killers, including the ceiling, of which the hatch was discovered open.

'It can't be true'

Neighbours' description of chilling screams for help from Ahmed as she tried to claw her way through a security gate, and blood smears and pools, bear testimony to the brutality of the killers.

Police refused to be drawn into whether the robbers tortured their victims before they fled in a grey car parked near the house, but several said it was one of the worst murders they had come across.

"It is beyond barbaric. It is inhuman. It is awful," said an officer.

The grey car had earlier been spotted by a neighbour's gardener as it travelled up and down Himalaya Street several times before it stopped near Ahmed's house.

Two men were seen getting out of the car moments before the attack took place and later running back to the car, which raced off to an unknown destination.

'I saw her against the gate trying to get out'

Hundreds of friends, family and neighbours rushed to the house as word of the attack quickly spread.

It was the second such tragedy to strike the Ahmed family in the past three years.

Three years ago, Ahmed's brother, Hussain Abdulrahman, was killed in his driveway in a hijacking just a street away.

Ahmed's husband, Ali, and children Riaaz, 22, and Shariefa, 25, were inconsolable when they received the tiding.

Riaaz had to be carried away forcefully from the house by friends as he tried to break open a locked security door which separated him from his mother.

Shariefa, collapsed on the family's front lawn as Malatji, who had to be resuscitated, was rushed by paramedics to an ambulance.

"It can't be true. It's not true. My mother is not dead. Please, God, don't let my mother be dead," she cried.

Her father, who was overcome by grief, was unable to say anything. Sitting on the patio shaking his head over and over again, he rocked himself as sobs wracked his body.

Neighbours Surie Chetty and Sajhida Omar said they were inside their homes when they heard screams for help.

"I heard Rashida calling me, pleading for me to help. It was horrible. She was screaming and pleading for help. As I ran outside I saw her against the gate trying to get out.

"The gate was locked. I couldn't get inside. I tried calling her, but it suddenly went quiet. I tried to see what happened, but I couldn't see," said Omar.

Chetty said she went cold when she heard the screams.

"They sounded like a wounded animal. When I ran outside I saw a woman with blood all over her.

"I did not know what was happening. Her maid screamed for me begging for help and then she collapsed."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Object of Despair

(By Fahim Firfiray)

Emma is a lawyer
And so is Aisha too
Colleagues going into court
At circa half past two

Its 1 O'Clock right now
They grab a bite before the trial
They chat about this and that
Conversing with a smile

Aisha is in full hijab
With a loose all over suit
Emma's in her business wear
With accessories taboot

Emma's really quite bemused
At Aisha's godly ways
She looks Aisha in the eyes
And very firmly says

You're a smart girl Aisha
Why do you wear that across your hair?
Subjugated by "man"-kind
An object of despair

Take it off my sister
Let your banner be unfurled
Don't blindly follow all around

Aisha is amazed
But not the least bit shy
She bravely puts her milkshake down
And gives Emma the reply

My dear sister Emma,
Why do you dress the way you do?
The skirt you're wearing round your waist,
Is it really you?

Now that we've sat down
I see you tug it across your thighs,
Do you feel ashamed?
Aware of prying eyes?

I see the way you're sitting,
Both legs joined at the knees,
Who forces you to sit like that?
Do you feel at ease?

I'll tell you who obliges you,
To dress the way you do,
Gucci, Klein, and St. Laurent
All have designs on you!

In the main, its men my friend,
Who dictate the whims of fashion,
Generating all the garb,
To incite the basest passion

"Sex Sells" there is no doubt
But who buys with such great haste,
The answer is likes like you,
Because they want to be embraced...

They want to be accepted,
On a level playing field
Sure, with brain and intellect
But with body parts revealed

Intelligence and reason
Are useful by and by
But if you want to make a mark
Stay appealing to the eye

You claim your skirt is office-like
A business dress of sorts
Would we not laugh at Tony Blair?
If he turned up in shorts?

His could be the poshest of pants
Pinstripe from Saville Rowe
But walking round like that my friend
He'd really have to go

Why do you douse yourself in creams
To make your skin so milky?
Why do you rip off all your hair
To keep your body silky?

A simple shower's all you need
To stay respectable and clean
The time and money that you spend
Is really quite obscene

Why do you wake up at dawn,
To apply a firm foundation,
Topped with make up and the like,
In one chaotic combination?

And if you should have to leave the house
Devoid of this routine
Why do you feel insecure
That you should not be seen?

Be free my sister Emma
Escape from your deep mire
Don hijab today my friend
And all Islam's attire

Avoid all those sickly stares
Or whistles from afar
Walk down the street with dignity
Take pride in who you are

Strength lies in anonymity
Be a shadow in the crowd
Until you speak and interact
When your voice will carry loud

You're a smart girl Emma
Wear this across your hair
Don't be subjugated by "man"-kind
An object of despair

To use your very words my friend
Let your banner be unfurled
Don't blindly follow all around

Friday, November 14, 2008


Jummah Mubarak

I'm sending you loving wishes, for beautiful blessings to come your way and for you to have peace and tranquility, as you travel through your life each day.

May all of your days be filled with love; and may hope and faith be your strength, no matter how impossible something seems.

I wish for you happiness and laughter and for good health to always be with you.

O Allah (swt) , don't let me ever turn away from You, no matter how many trials and difficulties You test me with.

Let these difficulties serve to make me closer to You.

May Allah (swt) shower His choicest blessing on us all.

O Allah (swt), Surely you Are All-Powerful over everything, You are RAHMAN & RAHIM,

Please forgive all our sins and Please accept all our humble duas Aameen

May Allah (swt) forgive all our sins Aameen...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I can't understand this

If money doesn’t grow on trees, then why do banks have branches?
Why does a round pizza come in a square box?
Why doesn't glue stick to its bottle?
Why do you still call it a building when its already built?
If its true that we are here to help others, What are others here for

We’re just funny sometimes…

Combining style, modesty and fashion

Combining style, modesty and fashion

"You're seeing new websites springing up and these young designers coming out trying to cater to this market."

Khan says that the fashion world top brands are also starting to market their clothing to Muslim women.

A few years ago, American department store Nordstrom put on a "full coverage" fashion seminar in Washington, promising to interpret "Hot Trends for Conservative and Veiled Women."

Major European fashion houses have also courted Muslims.

The famous fashion house D&G and other big names in the industry, like Paul Smith, Vera Wang and Jean Paul Gaultier, are now incorporating headscarf into their designs.

In the United States Nyla Hashmi, 23, and Fatima Monkush, 25, are uncommon women with a lot in common. They grew up best friends in Hartford, Connecticut. Both of them have Muslim fathers from South Asia and American mothers who converted to Islam.

And now, both are committed to designing chic clothing that offers Muslim women a way to dress both modestly and fashionably.

The two hope to launch their new clothing line, called Eva Khurshid, in February 2009. Although the designers have a specific market in mind, they also hope to reach a broad base of potential customers.

"The name will be recognizable as Muslim, but any woman would look great in our clothes," said Hashmi. She describes the line as "American clothing for working women 25 to 34 years old with an on-the-go lifestyle."

Clothing Dilemmas

Hashmi and Monkush first became interested in clothing design in their teens. Hashmi's family moved to Pakistan in 1995, when she was 10, although she continued to spend summers in Connecticut. (The family moved back to the United States permanently after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.)

"When we came back the summer I was 13, I went through a huge culture shock," Hashmi said. "I saw how different the Pakistani and American adolescent cultures were. My parents wanted me to start dressing more modestly, because I was growing up. I wanted to dress cool like the other kids, but there was nothing in the stores."

Monkush had a similar experience. "It was really difficult to find anything ready-made that I could wear," she said. The girls often resorted to layering, "the Muslim girl's best friend," Monkush said with a laugh.

Both Hashmi and Monkush learned to sew from their mothers. "My mom taught me to follow a pattern and also to change it to create something completely different, something that was exactly what I wanted," Monkush said. "I was 16 when I started making all my own clothes. That was the summer Nyla and I set our course."

Comfort And Clothes

Both women have developed their own definitions of appropriate attire. "I grew up in a very conservative home, and my parents were adamant about dressing modestly," Hashmi explained. "I eventually found my comfort zone. I will wear short sleeves, but nothing low cut or body hugging. Everyone has their own comfort level."

Monkush’s approach “is not about rules, but about what feels right,” she said. “For myself, I'm not going to walk around in a tank top or a short dress — I'm just not comfortable. I do cover my hair and have since I was 14."

Growing Up In A Mixed Family

Nyla Hashmi's mother was raised a Catholic. Her father, a Pakistani, came to the United States in the 1970s and is a U.S. citizen. "My mother was studying to be a nurse when she met my father, who's a heart surgeon. My mother was so inspired by him — he is so kind and generous — that she became interested in his religion and converted," Hashmi said.

Hashmi attended Islamic school on Sundays in Hartford, along with her three siblings.

Monkush's father is from Bangladesh. He came to the United States in 1971 to stay with a cousin in West Virginia. Monkush's mother met him while visiting a friend, and she, too, converted to Islam before the two married.

Path To The Fashion World

After public high school, Monkush went to the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University, where she majored in art. After graduation she moved to New York City and shared an apartment that first summer with Hashmi, who was a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).

Hashmi and Monkush have been working in the evenings and on weekends to put together their fledgling collection. It's a struggle — Hashmi lives in Queens and Monkush lives in Brooklyn with her husband — but both women are committed to their dream.

The thought behind their clothing extended to their choice of a name. "Eva is the name of Fatima's maternal grandmother," Hashmi explained, "and Khurshid is my dad's mother's name." Like their designs, it marries the two cultures.

The Eva Khurshid line will debut in February at Coterie, a major fashion trade show in New York City.

Hashmi and Monkush aren't quitting their day jobs just yet, but they're hopeful their collection will fill a need in the industry. "We want to be the biggest and best in what we're doing," Hashmi said. "This is not like any other brand."


This article was compiled and edited from the following sources:

1. "Fashionable, Modest Muslims", Islam Online

2. “Muslim Designers Create Clothes That Combine Fashion with Modesty”, By Howard Cincotta and Deborah Conn Special Correspondents