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Ramadan News: Qur'an Best-seller in France Ramadan

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  • Zafar Khan
    Qur an Best-seller in France Ramadan By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent Thu. Sep. 4, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 5, 2008
      Qur'an Best-seller in France Ramadan
      By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
      Thu. Sep. 4, 2008


      PARIS — With Muslims dedicating their time during the fasting month to become closer to Allah, the Noble Qur'an is becoming a best-seller in France during Ramadan.
      "We sell between 10 to 15 copies of the Noble Qur'an every day," Ali Al-Maghori, a Paris bookshop owner, told IslamOnline.net.

      "Pocket-sized copies of the Qur'an top our sales before and during Ramadan."

      According to Livre Hebdo magazine, which specializes in books sales, Qur'an ranks 8th among the best-selling books during Ramadan, which began on Monday, September1.

      Vendors are seen selling copies of the Noble Qur'an across the streets of the capital Paris, particularly Muslim-populated neighborhoods such as Belleville and Paribas.

      Also on sale are books on how to perform prayers and the benefits of fasting Ramadan, the ninth month on the Islamic lunar calendar.

      Sales of prayer beads and prayer rags are also booming.

      During Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      They dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

      It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.


      The fasting month is also marked with a high demand on traditional North African deserts.

      "Zalabiya is a main item on our table in Ramadan," Mokhtar told IOL while lining outside a shop selling Tunisian sweets in Kablat street.

      Zalabiya is a kind of doughnut cooked in oil and sprinkled with sugar.

      It is a favorite choice, especially for those with North African backgrounds.

      Among the most favorite choices for Muslims is also the Algerian Bouzgene Berber bread.

      Across the La Chapelle street, shops are selling other sweats such as baqlawa, a kind of Turkish delight, pastry made of puff paste with honey and almonds or pistachios.

      To meet the high demand for traditional sweets, many supermarket chains, including Carrefour, are now dedicating special sections for Ramadan items in their local branches.

      France is home to nearly seven million Muslims, the biggest Muslim minority in Europe.

      They mostly come from North African countries and Turkey.

      Mosques Solace Iraqis in Ramadan
      By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent
      Tue. Sep. 2, 2008


      BAGHDAD — As Ramadan begins, mosques are trying to draw a smile on the faces of many underprivileged Iraqi families, offering them banquets and food packages.
      "Never has Iraq seen so many needy families and it is our obligation to help our brothers, especially in the holy month that is synonymous of charity, sharing and love," Sheikh Othman Ahmed, a religious leader in the Baghdad Mansour district, told IslamOnline.net.

      Dozens of mosques have appealed to well-offs to donate food or money to banquets that will be organized at least twice a week.

      "We have already collected many food items to divide among those in need during Ramadan but much more is required," said Ahmed.

      "We call on everyone to help these families because they might not have even enough food to feed their children during the fasting period."
      Iraqi Sunnis begin observing Ramadan as of Monday, September1, while Shiites will start the fast a day later.

      During this holy month, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain during daylight hours from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

      "Prices of vegetables and cereals have absurdly increased in Iraq and we hardly are able to feed ourselves," regrets Abdallah Abdul Qader, 41.

      "We are still trying to share and help but with much lower extend then before.

      "Years ago we were able to donate the same amount of food we were getting ourselves but today we can only help for three days," he noted.

      "Ramadan means charity, however, how can you aid someone if you are getting close to become one of them?"


      Mosques in Adhamiyah and Kadhimiyah, two main Sunni and Shiite districts of Baghdad, will be organizing the iftar banquets indoors.

      "We will organize banquets after the Magreb prayer inside the mosque," Ibraheem Youssef, an official with the Abu Hanifa Mosque, told IOL.

      "Dates and yogurt will be offered before the prayer and those present will have a chance to break their fast eating inside," he added.

      "Of course we would have liked to have this banquet done outside the mosque but it is too dangerous and suicide bombers may use this moment to carry out sectarian attacks," cautioned Youssef.

      "We were lucky in the past years as violence was in low levels but we cannot thrust and it is better to guarantee some security for our Muslim brothers."

      Iraq has plunged into a vicious circle of violence that claims the lives of innocent civilians on a daily basis since the 2003 US-led invasion.

      Local aid agencies are too afraid of being targeted to cooperate with mosques.

      "Our life would be much easier if we could share with the mosques the delivering space for food items," said Mayada Zuhair, an aid worker and activist in Baghdad.

      "But if we do that, we can seriously put ourselves in danger. If we help a Sunni mosque we can be targeted by Shiite militants and vice-versa," she fears.

      "For this reason, our activity decreases a lot and sometimes we have the items to help but cannot reach to the place for security reasons, leaving locals suffering."

      Sheikh Tahir Abdul Kareem, a Shiite religious leader in Baghdad, called all sides of the conflict to stop fighting and attacks during Ramadan.

      He urged them to channel all their resources into helping desperate families, who are victims of this violence.

      "It [Ramadan] is a time of happiness and charity not fighting," stressed Sheikh Kareem.

      "I call on all parts to join hands in helping their brothers who are in need and are fasting on an empty stomach to please God."

      America's Largest Tarawih
      By Nancy Elbassiouny, IOL Correspondent
      Mon. Sep. 1, 2008


      COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thousands of Muslims from across the US and Canada welcomed the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which started Monday, September 1, by joining the largest congregation for Tarawih prayer in the history of North America.
      "It is an amazing site to see thousands of Muslim men, women and children standing shoulder to shoulder with their fellow Muslims of their gender and simultaneously bowing down in prayer to God in worship," a Greek Orthodox woman who only identified herself as Helen told IslamOnline.net.

      "I’ve never seen anything quite like this."

      Helen joined many non-Muslims who watched with admiration as thousands of Muslims prayed in unison.

      The Tarawih, a special nightly prayer performed during Ramadan, marked the conclusion of the annual Islamic Society of North American (ISNA) convention.
      It began shortly after 9:30 pm Sunday, August 31, in the large prayer hall of the convention center.

      For Barbara Pouros, a Cincinatti resident wearing a brown, orange and beige hijab even though she had not yet formally converted to Islam, the Tarawih was the highlight of the ISNA convention.

      Asked what drew her to Islam, she recalled that after meeting a Muslim one month after 9/11 and being invited to his mosque, she wanted to know more about prayer.

      "So I did a lot of research on the Internet to figure out what was being said in the prayer.

      "I like the simple quiet, rustling of fabrics and bowing my head to the ground. This makes Islam so rich and full."


      A couple of hours before the Tarawih, many Muslims attended ISNA's entertainment program, which featured several poets, Nasheed singers and a comedian.

      The house was packed with an enthusiastic audience.

      The looks on the children’s faces sitting next to their parents reflected the joy and happiness of the evening.

      "This is the happiest day of my life," Ahmed Khan, a ten-year-old fourth grader from Houston, told IOL.

      "I want to be a Nasheed singer like Native Deen. They are my favorite group."

      Native Deen, a famous Nasheed group, participated in several youth activities during the ISNA convention.

      Aisha Mohamed, a 12-year-old originally from Somalia, had a similar dream.

      "When I grow up, I wanna be a comedian and make people laugh."

      Ramadan Brings Peace to Tribal Pakistanis
      By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent
      Mon. Sep. 1, 2008


      PESHAWAR — Bacha Khan, 45, is busy packing up his language as he and his family members are set to return to their hometown in the restive North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) thanks to a ceasefire by the government and pro-Taliban militants in honor of Ramadan.
      "This is unbelievable for me because I was not expecting that I will spend this Ramadan at my home," a happy-looking Bacha told IslamOnline.net.

      A massive military operation in his Bajur town, some 50 kilometers north of the NWFP capital Peshawar, has so far claimed hundreds of lives from both government troops and militants.

      The clashes led to the displacement of around 500,000 residents, the country’s second biggest exodus since the 2005 devastating earthquake that battered Azad Kashmir and NWFP.

      The displaced have been provided shelter in hundreds of makeshift camps set by the government and Al-Khidmat Foundation, Pakistan's largest relief organization, in Peshawar, Mardan, Dir and other adjoining areas.
      Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced a government ceasefire in honor of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which falls in Pakistan on Tuesday, September 2.

      "There will be no military operation during Ramadan, and we hope the other side will also abide by its promise."

      The minister, however, insisted army troops will remain on alert and will retaliate in case of any aggression or violation of the ceasefire.

      In reciprocation, Taliban freed over two dozen army troops they captured in Bajur.

      Military sources confirm that in most of the tribal areas, operations have been halted as per government directives.

      But clashes and bombings are still raging in some areas.

      Ramadan Break

      The arrangement is allowing Bacha and thousands of displaced people in Munda camp, the largest shelter camp near Peshawar, to go home before Ramadan.

      "Though I have lost my two cousins and a nephew in a bombing, I'm still very happy to return to my home."

      Bacha, a father of four, has managed to contact relatives taking shelter in other camps in the province.

      "They all are coming back. We all are so happy, and looking forward to meeting each other on the first day of Ramadan."

      Bacha is particularly excited that he will be able to perform Tarawih, a special nightly prayers performed during Ramadan, as usual in their mosque.

      "I was thinking that this time, we will have to arrange Tarawih somewhere in this shelter camp. But thanks to Allah, He has made this possible for us. We are so blessed," he said.

      "My wife and kids are also very happy. They had been asking me for Eid clothes, and I had no answer to their innocent questions except that everything will be fine Inshaullah.

      "And thanks God, things are going to be alright, at least for Ramadan."

      Hopes, Fears

      Hassan Ali Khan, a farmer who calls Azan in his village mosque, is equally happy.

      "Inshaullah, I will call Azan again after stopping for many weeks," he told IOL with a big smile covering his face.

      "I don’t know whether the people were offering prayers there or not because almost the entire village had left after massive bombings."

      He yearns for the special Ramadan atmosphere in his village.

      "The village people send different dishes everyday for iftar in the mosque, which is also our meeting place.

      "Things will not be as enjoyable as they were in past, but being a Muslim, in any situation, we are thankful to Allah. He knows better what is in our interest. I am thankful that He has granted us another Ramadan."

      Khan prays the ceasefire will hold.

      "I wish the ceasefire remains intact after Ramadan. We, the poor people, are paying the price for things we have not done."

      Mushtaq Khan, who owns a small grocery store in Bajur town, is also worried about what would happen after Ramadan.

      "I am returning to my home, but not with all family members," the father of three told IOL.

      "I will leave my wife, mother, younger brother, and kids here (in the camp) because you never know when one of the sides violates the ceasefire, leaving us in the crossfire."

      Though the ceasefire has been announced for Ramadan only, tribal elders are trying to extend it for another month.

      "I'm aware of such efforts, but I don’t want to put my kids at risk," says Khan.

      "I'm taking my cousins and some other relatives with me. We all want to see what has happened to our shops and houses.

      "I will spend some days alone there and if I find the situation stable then I will bring my family back."

      Recent convert to Islam experiences her first Ramadan fast
      September 3, 2008
      The Press-Enterprise


      Ashley Mountasir became curious about Islam when she watched her Muslim boyfriend Taha fast during the holy month of Ramadan two years ago.

      The 19-year-old Murrieta woman was Catholic at the time but in June she converted to Islam. On Monday, the first full day of Ramadan, she fasted with her now-husband Taha for the first time.

      It wasn't difficult, even though the fast lasted almost 16 hours, she said.

      "My body told me, 'I'm not hungry. My body doesn't need anything. I'm doing this for my God,'" Mountasir said.

      Mountasir was one of several recent converts who attended prayer services Sunday night at the Islamic Center of the Temecula Valley in Temecula. Ramadan began at sundown Sunday. Two men converted during the service.

      Ramadan commemorates when Muslims believe Allah revealed the teachings of the Quran to Mohammed. During the month, observant Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. This year, Ramadan will end Oct. 1.

      When Mountasir met Taha two years ago through friends, she didn't know he was Muslim until she asked him why he was fasting. She was nominally Catholic but never connected with Catholicism and rarely attended Mass.

      Mountasir asked Taha, 23, and his mother, Nafissa Larson, many questions, first about Ramadan and then about Islam in general. The more she learned, the more questions she asked.

      She began to attend prayer services at the mosque occasionally.

      "Every time I came to the mosque, I felt at peace with myself," she said. "I felt happy. Every time I went inside a church, I felt tension."

      Ashley and Taha Mountasir married in October. She converted in June. She said her husband never pressured her to convert. In Islam, conversion is simple: recognizing that Allah is the only deity and that Mohammed is his messenger.

      "I have never felt so close to God," Ashley Mountasir said. "It makes me feel protected, like someone is watching over me."

      Mountasir said she hasn't told her parents in Murrieta about either the Islamic wedding ceremony -- they don't even know she's married -- or her conversion. Mountasir said her parents like Taha and didn't mind that she was dating a Muslim. But she's worried how they'd react to her conversion.

      At the prayer services Sunday, the imam, Mahmoud Harmoush, reminded worshippers that Ramadan is about more than fasting. It's also about forgiveness, kindness, mercy, prayer and charity to others, he said.

      "May God grant us the patience and strength to continue fasting until the end of it," he said.

      Mountasir, wearing a black and green veil, knelt in prayer with a few dozen other women and girls in the back of the mosque. More than 100 men prayed at the front.

      Mountasir was excited about the service. She had read extensively about Ramadan and had long been looking forward to it.

      "It felt very spiritual," Mountasir said during a break in the two hours of prayers.

      During the service, two men said they wanted to convert to Islam.

      Harmoush asked the men to repeat after him, "I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah," first in Arabic -- or as best as the men could imitate Harmoush's Arabic -- and then in English.

      "And I bear witness that Mohammed is his servant and messenger."

      After the men repeated after Harmoush, he put his arms around the men and said with a smile, "May Allah bless you. You are our brothers."

      One of the men, Alex Ruval, said he became interested in Islam when he served as an Army soldier in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. Ruval, 27, of Del Mar, in San Diego County, heard the calls to prayer from the mosques and "it gave me a warm feeling inside. I could see how it connected with a lot of people."

      When Ruval started working for a Muslim man's trucking company several months ago, he began asking the man, Julian Rivas, of Temecula, about Islam.

      "I just wanted to know their beliefs," Ruval said. "He started talking to me about it, and it made sense."

      Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or dolson@...

      Ramadan in the Middle of Everything!
      How to Balance
      Thu. Sep. 4, 2008
      By Shayma Alshakshir


      Generally life on its own can be difficult at times. Unexpected commitments from all directions keep stopping by when least expected. Constant battles with time emerge, and when you have a second to reflect on your life you will find that some serious work needs to be done to improve the shape of it all.
      On many occasions, you might wish that there were more of you to get things done and to be at so many places all at the same time—simply impossible!

      This year Ramadan is visiting us at a very busy time: in the midst of school, university and work. Not to mention, for some parts of the world it is summer! Some of us plan very carefully for Ramadan but forget to merge other life commitments having no choice to turn them away.

      Aussie Muslim youth are aware of the workload that is about to arrive during Ramadan. The idea of making the most of it and balancing it with everything else has been a constant thought at the back of their minds.

      Let’s have a look at their ideas of how to balance things:

      Iftar for Al-Quds Muslims, Christians
      By Ahmad Hamouch, IOL Correspondent
      Thu. Sep. 4, 2008


      RABAT — A Moroccan charity is launching a 70,000-dollar project to help hundreds of Muslim and Christian families in the holy city of Al-Quds during the fasting month of Ramadan.
      "Iftar Bag project aims to help poor families in Al-Quds," Mohamed Salem Al-Sharqawi, media officer at the Bait Mal Al-Quds, told IslamOnline.net.

      The project eyes the distribution of food packages among 1,000 Muslim and Christian families in the occupied holy city.

      "It does not only cover Muslim families but also Christians who are equally steadfast in defending their land in the city," said Sharqawi.

      "Nearly 1,000 families are expected to benefit from this project this Ramadan."

      The project is a continuation of the "Honorable Living" project which saw the distribution of 2,000 pieces of bread every day among families in Al-Quds.

      Established in 1998, Bait Mal Al-Quds is an affiliate body of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that seeks to protect the city of Al-Quds and safeguard its religious, cultural and civilizational character.

      It carries out a number of programs and projects in the holy city to help its people remain steadfast in the face of the Israeli occupation and its Judaization scheme.

      Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in 1967, then declared its annexation in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.

      The holy city is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

      Al-Quds is also home to some of the holiest Christian worship places, including the Jerusalem Church and the Greek Orthodox Church.


      Bait Mal Al-Quds is also launching a fundraising campaign to improving the infrastructure in the holy city.

      The "Together for Al-Qud" campaign aims to support the housing and youth sectors, renovate mosques and historical buildings and develop educational, health and cultural services in the city.

      "Donations will be used to implement development and humanitarian programs in Al-Quds," said Dr. Abdelkebir Alaoui M'Daghri, the agency's chairman.

      Bait Mal Al-Quds is planning to raise 43.7 million dollars for implementing its projects in the holy city over the coming eight years.

      It is also offering scholarships for students from Al-Quds and is planning to establish sporting clubs in the holy city.

      "The agency intends to support psychological centers at Al-Quds hospitals as well as addiction treatment centers," said M'Daghri.

      Bait Mal Al-Quds is already receiving financial support from leaders of heavyweight Muslim countries.

      "Moroccan King Mohamed VI is providing regular financial contributions to support the agency's projects," said Sharqawi, the media officer.

      "Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz has also allocated one million dollars for the campaign in addition to Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Libya and Iran."

      Ramadan Gathers Tennessee Muslims
      IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
      Fri. Sep. 5, 2008


      CAIRO — As the sun goes down, Abu Sawar breaks his daylong fasting with several dates and a bottle of water.
      He then joins more than 200 fellow Muslims for the Maghrib (sunset) prayers at the Islamic center of Nashville in the southern state of Tennessee.

      As soon as the prayers finish, worshippers line up for tandoori chicken, a mixture of rice and vegetables

      "The beauty of this is — we all sit on the floor together," Abu Sawar tells The Tennessean on Friday, September 5

      "Doctors, engineering professors, students — we all stand in line and sit on the floor together."

      The iftar banquet is organized by the Islamic center of Nashville to help socialize Tennessean Muslims during Ramadan.

      American Muslims, estimated between six and seven million, started observing Ramadan on Monday, September 1.

      In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.


      After the Iftar, Tennessean Muslims gather for reciting and studying the Noble Qur'an.

      Then, they group for `Isha’ (night) prayers and for Tarawih prayers, special nightly prayers performed by Muslims during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

      "By the end of Ramadan, you have recited the entire Qur'an in Arabic," said Nabaa-McKinney, a female member of the center's board.

      Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.

      It is customary for Muslims to spend part of the days during Ramadan studying the Noble Qur'an.

      Many men perform i`tikaf (spiritual retreat), spending the last 10 days of the month exclusively in the mosque.

      11 things you need to know about Ramadan
      By MATT GLEASON World Scene Writer
      Last Modified: 9/2/2008 2:37 PM


      Ramadan, season of renewal, starts today
      Monday, Sep 01, 2008 - 12:09 AM


      Today is the first day of Ramadan. For more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide, the month of Ramadan serves as a season of spiritual renewal and gratitude. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast. The Council on American-Islamic Relations prepared the following questions and answers about Ramadan.

      Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?

      A: One of the main benefits of Ramadan is an increased compassion for those in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality. Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by family and friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practical benefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline that can carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as work and education.

      Q: Why does Ramadan begin on a different day each year?

      A: Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about 11 days earlier each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadan will fall both during winter months, when the days are short, and summer months, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. In this way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed between Muslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

      Q: Is it difficult to perform the fast in America?

      A: In many ways, fasting in American society is easier than fasting in areas where the climate is extremely hot. This year at least, the number of daylight hours will be fewer than when Ramadan occurs during the spring or [early] summer. In Muslim countries, most people are observing the fast, so there are fewer temptations such as luncheon meetings, daytime celebrations and offers of food from friends. Many American Muslims would prefer a daytime work shift during Ramadan so that they may break the fast with their families and attend evening prayers.

      Q: How can non-Muslim co-workers and friends help someone who is fasting?

      A: Employers, co-workers and teachers can help by understanding the significance of Ramadan and by showing a willingness to make minor allowances for its physical demands. Special consideration can be given to such things as requests for vacation time, the need for flexible early-morning or evening work schedules and lighter homework assignments. It is also very important that Muslim workers and students be given time to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan. Eid is as important to Muslims as Christmas and Yom Kippur are to Christians and Jews. A small token such as a card (there are Eid cards available from Muslim bookstores) or baked goods given to a Muslim co-worker during Eid ul-Fitr would also be greatly appreciated. Hospital workers should be aware that injections and oral medications might break the fast. Patients should be given the opportunity to decide whether or not their condition exempts them from fasting.

      Muslims, doctors find ways to balance physical, spiritual health during Ramadan fasting
      Medical advances help faithful follow scripture with fewer risks
      By Robert Mitchum | Chicago Tribune reporter
      10:56 PM CDT, August 31, 2008


      For Muslims such as Nadia Aslam, the tradition of fasting from dawn to dusk during the lunar month of Ramadan is a treasured experience of sacrifice and spiritual resolve.

      "There's a different feeling in Ramadan. I just feel closer to God," said Aslam, 26, who lives in Glendale Heights.

      But when Aslam entered Ramadan seven months pregnant in 2006, she faced the difficult decision of whether it would be in the best interests of her and her unborn child to observe the tradition of going without food, drink or medication during the daylight hours of 29 or 30 days.

      For the first three days of Ramadan, Aslam said she followed the example of older relatives and tried to fast, but she found that it made her feel lightheaded and ill. When she consulted her obstetrician, her doctor recommended that she end the fast, news that Aslam initially found difficult to take despite the Quran, Islam's holy book, giving pregnant women an exemption from fasting.

      "It was disappointing because fasting is one of the main things we are supposed to do in Ramadan," Aslam said. "But in the end, I felt she was right . . . I knew that in the end it was best for the baby."

      But in an example of scientific innovation helping to facilitate traditional practices, doctors more often are using advances in medical technology to help Muslims struggling with chronic illnesses to fast during Ramadan, which starts on Monday, without consequences. And while consensus is sometimes difficult to find, some Islamic scholars have reassessed whether certain medical treatments are a violation of the rules for fasting.

      "It is a balance," said Dr. Mohammed Zaher Sahloul, a pulmonary, critical care and sleep specialist in Oak Lawn. "We want to give them the chance to do it because of the blessing and reward they expect to get. But at the same time, we don't want them to have complications or problems related to health issues."

      The Quran scripture that describes the traditional Ramadan fast allows some exemptions, reflecting the religion's overarching belief that Muslims should not harm their bodies, even for spiritual practices. Those unable to fast—including travelers, children and breast-feeding and menstruating women—are expected to make up the fasting later or make a donation to help feed the impoverished.

      "In no way should you be hurting your body during the process of fasting," said Dr. Hafizur Rehman, a pediatrician and president of the Islamic Medical Association of North America. "Fasting is for you to come closer to God, to feel godliness and to feel the pain and hunger of other people in that process. But it has to be reasonable. God is not looking to punish you in any way. He is looking to bring you closer to him."

      For Muslims suffering from severe chronic illnesses that would be exacerbated by fasting, the decision not to fast is usually clear, Rehman said. But Muslims with diseases such as diabetes or asthma that must be controlled with regular medication face a tougher choice, and often consult both doctors and religious scholars about whether they should observe the annual fast.

      Dr. Hussain Sattar, a pathologist at the University of Chicago and part-time Islamic scholar, said he is approached by as many as 20 people each year with questions about whether it is spiritually proper for them to fast or not because of a medical condition.

      "You get two extremes in that circumstance," Sattar said. "One extreme is that a person may try to get out of the fast because they really don't want to do it and use the illness as excuse. But the other extreme is a patient who so badly wants to fast, and even though ill, they will try to fast."

      Doctors say they usually come across the latter case, forcing creative strategies and the adjustment of medication schedules to meet the Quran's requirement that no substance pass the throat during fasting.

      Rehman, who is diabetic and said he has fasted for the last 20 Ramadans with no complications, makes sure that the diabetics he treats change the timing and dose of insulin injections and closely monitor their blood-sugar levels throughout the daylight hours.

      For patients struggling with high blood pressure, heart disease or other illnesses requiring regular medication, the development of longer-acting pharmaceuticals that don't need to be taken as frequently have helped more patients fast, Sahloul said.

      "Technology may make it actually easier for patients to fast in the future than it was previously," Sahloul said. "The trend now is to shift to longer-acting medicines and shift to patches instead of oral medication. It will make it much easier for patients to fast if they are taking one pill a day instead of three or four."

      But exactly which treatments are allowed during the daylight hours remains a matter of debate within the Islamic community. The use of inhalers by asthmatics, for instance, was ruled to not break the fast by a meeting of Muslim experts and doctors in Morocco in 1997, Sahloul said. But Sattar said he advises people that inhalers should not be used by fasting Muslims, because it would allow particles to enter the throat.

      Regardless of debates over suitable treatments, Dr. Memoona Hasnain, director of family medicine research at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said that open communication between patient and doctor is crucial to prevent Muslims from putting themselves at risk by fasting. Hasnain—who, like Nadia Aslam, once tried to fast while pregnant but stopped after advice from her doctor—said religious respect is especially critical in cases where a Muslim may be asking advice from a non-Muslim physician.

      "There needs to be more work done to develop that trust between western clinicians and Muslim patients," Hasnain said. "Doctors need to be sympathetic to patients, willing to listen and accommodate their beliefs as much as possible. But the most important thing is the well-being of the patient."


      Memorizing the Quran part of Muslim holiday of Ramadan
      Young Muslim men commit to classes, memorize the Quran to observeRamadan
      By JAMES D. DAVIS | Religion Editor
      August 31, 2008


      Heads bob and bodies rock. A singsong Arabic fills the air in boys' high-pitched voices.

      And they're like this for hours each day, sitting on the floor of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida.

      It's long, tedious work to memorize the Quran, but the seven boys at the Sunrise mosque are up for the challenge. They say Allah blesses them for the effort. And it helps them observe the holy month of Ramadan, which starts this week.

      "Learning the Quran is its own reward," says Umair Sheikh, 19, who achieved the feat this spring after four years. "Not everyone can do it."

      Ramadan is the time, believers say, when God revealed the holy book to Muhammad 14 centuries ago. In observance of the event, Muslims pray and fast during daylight hours, and attend special prayer services nightly.

      At the services, known as Tarawih, a portion of the Quran is recited each night, so that the congregation has heard the whole book by the end of the month. The duty of leading that recital usually falls to a hafiz, who can recite the text by heart.

      "Ramadan is the season of the Quran," says Imam Rashid Ahmed, who teaches the class. "Even Prophet Muhammad recited it all the time. And it's a special time for a hafiz."

      A hafiz 14 and older may lead the nightly prayer. Many mosques hire a professional who is trained in precise, dramatic recitation; the Sunrise mosque plans to bring in a specialist from Pakistan. Sheikh says he'll lead the prayers at the Islamic Movement of Florida in Hollywood.

      His feeling going in? "Nerve-wracking," Sheikh confesses with a smile. "But still good. I'll get the opportunity to lead the people in prayer."

      At the Sunrise mosque, the class is held four days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which the students take in addition to their other studies. The students sit at low tables in the quiet, carpeted mosque, sounding as if they're singing the verses. Every so often, one sits in front of Ahmed and recites for him.

      The rocking and singsong delivery are a simple response to the rhythm of the text, Ahmed says. "Everyone reads it in his natural tune, given by God."

      Learning the 114 chapters of the Quran by heart, though not a religious requirement, is considered a blessing.

      "Every letter of the Quran you read, you receive 10 blessings from God," Ahmed says. "And a hafiz can read it anywhere — while he's driving or walking or doing anything — because he doesn't need to pick up a book."

      Parents of a hafiz get a benefit too. According to the Hadith, an account of the prophet Muhammad's words and deeds, on judgment day they'll receive a shining crown. Scholars have worked out aids for hufaz (plural of hafiz). A system of phonics, called Tajweed, helps students learn the text even if they don't know Arabic. Special editions of the Quran color-code the words by their sounds.

      "Memorizing is no big deal; the problem is retaining it," Sheikh says. "And not knowing the language makes it even harder."

      So how did he cope? He shrugs. "When you really want something, you do whatever it takes."

      James D. Davis can be reached at jdavis@... or 954-356-4730.

      Can habits be changed simply by abstaining from food?
      News Agency of Kashmir 9/2/2008 8:17:14 PM
      By Saffia Meek


      Do you have any bad habits that you wish you could change but just don't have the stimulus or will power to do it?

      Ramadan can be part of the solution to your problem by providing the motivation, the self-control, and the opportunity for you to implement better habits. Imagine, if fasting can teach us to control our cravings for things that are good for us (food and water), then it certainly can train us to stop doing things that are destructive to our health and lives.

      Our Daily Addictions

      According to Dr. Mohammad Zafar A. Nomani, professor of nutrition at West Virginia University, US, fasting tends to cause a burning or heavy feeling in the stomach and sour mouth for some people because of the increase in gastric acids in the stomach.

      Consume a light meal and take a break from the doughnuts and coffee and eat foods high in protein, fiber, and nutrients. Whole-wheat bread, vegetables, humus, beans, and fruits are all good sources of fiber, which help in reducing gastric acidity and excess bile acids.

      Smokers benefit from fasting, being forced to abstain during the day. According to Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network, smoking one pack of cigarettes a day for one year adds two cups of tar to a smoker's lungs. However, the body is able to eliminate the tar if you stop smoking. By the end of a month of not smoking, the senses of smell and taste return, shortness of breath subsides, and energy increases.

      According to a study done by the American Psychosomatic Society, caffeine and nicotine use increase the occurrence of irritability during fasting, but by the end of Ramadan, the smokers' irritability had dropped to a level lower than before the month of fasting began.

      Even our choices at the grocery store are impacted by our increased Allah-consciousness. With the enhanced awareness of food during Ramadan, we are motivated to eat more fruit and drink more water than in our usual diet. More dates are eaten during Ramadan than any other time of year.

      By the end of the day, you have managed to abstain from not-very healthy things like snacks foods, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar. You will probably realize than that you cannot only survive without them, but actually feel better without them.

      Once you have detoxified your system from the caffeine, sugar, and nicotine withdrawals, the headaches disappear and you are left with more energy than when you were drinking coffee all morning.

      Breaking out of Isolation

      Ramadan gives Muslims a great opportunity to escape this cycle of isolation and depression.

      It is not unusual for people to get in a daily rut isolating themselves from those outside of their everyday routine. We get in the habit of going from home to work and back home for dinner each night with our families. Even weekends are so full of family-oriented chores and activities that we tend to put off praying at the mosque or visiting friends, which could end up leading to depression.

      It seems that the TV and the computer get more of our attention each day than our faith does. According to the Sourcebook for Teaching Science, the average American home watches TV for 6 hours and 47 minutes each day. This time does not include the time spent on the computer.

      The Sourcebook goes on to say that millions of Americans are so hooked on television that they fit the criteria for substance abuse as defined in the official psychiatric manual, according to Rutgers University psychologist Robert Kubey.

      Ramadan gives Muslims a great opportunity to escape this cycle of isolation and depression. Ramadan traditions promote spending time together with family and friends, getting to know one another better, and meeting other Muslims that we might otherwise have not get acquainted with.

      Iftars (meals to break the fast) and Tarawih Prayers (optional night prayers) provide a chance to break from our familiar patterns and relax with others who share our faith, thus increasing our connections as human beings and as believers. This socialization improves the sense of brotherhood or sisterhood within ourselves and the Muslim community.

      According to Dr. Nomani, an added bonus of praying the nightly Tarawih is that it counts as mild exercise, burning up to 200 calories and helping to digest the food we ate at iftar.

      Changing our normal routine during Ramadan allows us a chance to modify our lives and break free of bad habits. Fasting grounds us in reality, making us conscious of our behaviors and choices. Moreover, in being more mindful for one month, perhaps we will be strong enough to maintain better habits beyond Ramadan.

      Quick Tips for a Healthier Fast

      • Reduce the amount of caffeine intake a week or two prior to Ramadan in order to decrease the likelihood of "caffeine headaches."

      • Avoid caffeine during Ramadan. Drink water rather than coffee or tea.

      • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods.

      • Break your fast with dates and water, then eat a meal after the Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer.

      • Try to get enough sleep at night or take a nap during the day.

      • Use the spiritual and social uplifting to keep you excited and motivated beyond Ramadan.

      Saffia Meek is a passionate volunteer, working with a variety of organizations including the Lewisville Public Library in Lewisville, TX, the Flower Mound Humane Society and the Council on American-Islamic Relations Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, the Unites States. She has been published in the Dallas Morning News, United Press International, Myrtle Beach Sun and several Islamic publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science. (Courtesy IOL)

      Ramadan Workout
      9/1/2008 - Religious Family Social - Article Ref: SW0808-3653
      By: Abdul Sattar
      suhaibwebb.com* -


      How Acts of Attaining Nearness to God Are Like Working Out:

      1. Have a workout plan

      The one who enters the gym without a plan and randomly goes to each machine, watches various people and each of their various goals and tries to imitate them without any objective, will not achieve substantial gains in anything.

      But one who decides his goal is aerobic fitness, or muscular size, or muscular toning, or speed, will be able to focus his/her workout on specific areas and grow in this. The same applies to spiritual growth. A person cannot simply say: "I want to be a better Muslim" and then aimlessly go for it. It is best to say: "I need to improve my prayers', "I need to improve my relationship with Quran", "I need to grow in knowledge of Sunnah", " I need to correct my anger problems". Then, using the guidance of the Quran, Sunnah, and knowledgeable advisors, one can do exercises, readings, dhikr, and methods to help him/her gain progress in the target area.

      2. Success comes with leaving harmful foods, and eating healthy ones

      Anyone who has an exercise plan will tell you that eating foods filled with high transfats, cholesterol, saturated fats, high amounts of sugar, and insane amounts of sodium - will constantly be an adversary to your exercise. You will put all this effort into working out and get nowhere.

      One who seeks spiritual progress cannot do so without making an effort to abstain from sins. The dhikr, tilaawah (reciting Quran), extra prayers, fasting, will all help the soul grow and purify, but unless one makes an effort to give up sins, one will find growth to be sluggish at best and non-existent, even regressive at worst. If we want to grow, we have to give up what is bad for us, or at least make an effort.

      3. Stretch and warm-up before you workout

      Warming up helps to prepare the body for the strains of working out, be it lifting or running. Though you can workout without it, the work out quality is much better if you can get the blood flowing and prepare yourself mentally and physically for the task at hand.

      When we are about to begin prayers, recitation, dhikr, or anything else, it is best to begin with straightening one's niyyah, and if doing dhikr or tilaawah, to begin by praising Allah and sending salawaat (blessings) upon the Prophet (saw). This is the spiritual equivalent of warming up. If making dua, it is best to also seek forgiveness after sending salawaat upon the Prophet (saw) as they will clear the barrier of sins between your duas and acceptance by Allah inshAllah.

      4. Drink lots of water

      Need to keep yourself hydrated while you workout. This one I am including in the same way - really, have some water. Don't let physical discomfort cause you to become lazy so that you don't read as much Quran or pray as much as you could because your room is too hot, too cold, not enough water, etc. Get rid of any distractions, set your thermostat, and leave no excuses to do what you've set out to do.

      5. Do not overstrain

      Overtraining is terrible for the muscles because the way that muscles build according to most experts, muscles grow through micro tears which develop when they are placed under extreme stress. The body then heals these tears during the recovery period by overcompensating (similar to scar tissue), causing the muscle to come back a little stronger than before.

      When we overstrain, we push the muscle to a point of damage where it is difficult for it to come back with added strength; or we keep training during the recovery period, never giving it the chance to recover.

      Many of us become over enthusiastic about spiritual growth, assigning to ourselves daily regimens of 1 hour of Quran, 1 hour of morning dhikr, 1 hour of evening dhikr, all the nawaafil, added with memorization with iPod throughout the day, and reading and attending lectures. When we are starting from nothing, this is EXTREMELY destructive, as we will not be able to sustain more than a few days before giving up completely.

      Tadarruj - gradualism is the best way. Slowly adding acts of worship and increasing them in practical manners, a few minutes a day or a half hour a day is the best way to grow in our dedication. Focus on the faraaid first, getting your five prayers in, and slowly make the effort to add other things in that you can SUSTAIN over the long run inshAllah.

      6. Having a workout partner

      Most of us are simply not able to consistently workout without a workout partner who can keep us motivated, keep us on point, and remind us of our goals.

      Having a friend, a group of friends, a jama'ah of fellow seekers, Islamic workers, or fellow Islamic classmates/student of knowledge - who are in the goal to become better Muslims, who are sincere in their brotherhood/sisterhood with you and have good character, are crucial to maintaining your progress.

      Suhba, companionship was the key to the greatness of the Companions of the Prophet - and it is by this characteristic that they are named! So companionship with good people who can encourage you on your path, listen to your memorization, and hold you accountable, even join you for a night at your house of night prayer and reflection together - can be a great asset. Even if you do not wish to share so much openness about your worship with someone, being in the company of good people who inspire you, can be sufficient to help you grow.

      7. The Professionals have Coaches, the Olympians have Teams of Coaches

      If you look at professional athletes, you will see that they are not on their own - their training and ability is due partly to the watchful eye and guidance of their coaches. These coaches are typically experienced athletes themselves, with years of experience in practicing, watching, teaching, and training. No great athlete has reached the heights of glory without a coach. And as for Olympians, you will see them backed by entire coaching staffs, each supplementing the team's progress in one way or another.

      In the same way, it is good to have a scholar, and best to have the company of scholars who you can go to for help, advice, knowledge and guidance. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophet (saw), and they can best provide you with guidance and help when you falter.

      8. Humility

      Almost every athlete knows that there is usually someone better in the world (perhaps with a few exceptions), and that their coach isn't the only one who's opinions are correct. They know this because in the heat of competition, they know that other coaches have produced students that are just as good as they are.

      They know that they are not in and of themselves genetically predisposed to victory without training and effort.

      Allah (swt) tells us to "Hasten/race with one another in the doing of Good". And it is in this that we differ from athletes. Athletes compete with one another for the sake of personal gain, glory, competition, thrill, personal accomplishment, or to be proud. We hasten with one another for the sake of God and God alone. But we must also remember these two points:

      That our teacher, our sheikh, our maulana, is not the only one who is always correct and we must not fight with others trying to prove his greatness as faqih ul asr or ustaadh ul asaatidha. Especially if we have not been exposed to all the fuqahaa, how can we make that judgment? But we must always hold a good opinion of our teachers, overlook their faults, and take benefit from them without turning them into infallible beings whose correctness we will strive to prove at every turn. We must not disrespect other teachers, but take benefit from everyone, and love all the Ôulama - but do hold your own teacher with high respect and esteem, for it is through them that Allah is blessing you with knowledge.

      Imam Malik said: Every person but the one in this grave (motioning towards the Prophet's resting place), take some, and leave some"

      Second, we must remember that spiritual progress is not about us, or about showing off or winning medals. We will get to show off in Jannah, and our medals (if we earn them inshAllah), will be cups of silver and clothes of silk and the company of the righteous.

      9. Consistency

      Every person who works out can tell you that there is no progress without consistency. One must workout on a consistent schedule in order to gain results. Consistency is the key to gains. In the same way, a person must perform acts of worship and acts to gain nearness to Allah (swt) and better one's character with consistency.

      "Allah loves the consistent action, even if it is small." - this was said by the Prophet (saw). So even if the act is 15 minutes of reading a day, or a half hour of attending an Islamic lecture each week. One hour a week of visiting the sick. Two hours of a week of cleaning the masjid. 10 minutes a day of reading Quran. Whatever you can do - do it consistently and guard it.

      The person who carries $20,000 in cash on the street in his chest coat pocket will guard it as if he was guarding his very life. His hand would be constantly on his pocket, on his chest, assuring himself it is there. He will walk with caution, he will be aware of anyone who comes close to him, scrutinizing every person he sees. We must be like this with our Iman and with our acts of worship. They are more precious than any money and we must be consistent with them by guarding them and protecting them. If this means saying no to a hangout once a week, or saying no to your friends playing basketball, or just saying you'll be late - that's what you have to do.

      Abdul Sattar is a contributing writer at suhaibwebb.com
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