Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Blessings of Ramadhan


All praise is to Allah, Whom we thank and seek for His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of ourselves and the burden of our evil deeds. Whomsoever He guides, will never be misled, and whomsoever He misguides, will never find enlightenment. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Mohammad is His slave and Messenger.

Allah said, what translated means, "O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam" [3:102], also, "Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations) of the wombs (kinship)! Surely, Allah is Ever an All- Watcher over you." [4:1] and, "O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the Truth." [33:70].

The best of speech is the Book of Allah, and the best of guidance is the guidance sent with Mohammad - peace be upon him. The worst of matters are Bid'ahs (innovations in the religion), every Bid'ah is a Dhalalah [misguidance], and every Dhalalah is in the Hellfire.

Dear Muslim Sisters!

We are hosting soon inshaa'a Allah a unique, a generous and a honorable guest. A guest that visits us once a year and brings with it all sorts of goodness and happiness. A guest that brings with it the wide Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah. A guest that brings with it a smell of Paradise. A guest that makes the believer closer to Allah and His Paradise and away from Shaytan and Hell Fire.

It is Ramadhan, the month of the Qur'an, the month of Mercy, the month of Forgiveness, the month of prayer at night and Suhoor, the month of solidarity and mutual help, the month of all blessings. We are advised in our merciful religion of Islam to be kind and generous towards the guest, so what if the guest is the best of guests over the year? we should exert ourselves in generosity which is in this case good behavior and intense worship.

It is from the immense mercy of Allah upon us that He made us Muslims and believers and that He extended our lives till we reached this Ramadan. It is reported from some of the Salaf (Muslims of the first three centuries of Islam that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, praised in the well known famous hadith) that they used to pray to Allah during the six months before Ramadan to extend their lives so that they can fast Ramadan, and in the 6 months after Ramadan they would ask Allah to accept their fasting of Ramadan. Therefore, we have to be thankful to Allah that He allowed us to witness this Ramadan, so let us please Him during this month.

Why do we fast?

It is from the nature of humans to ask and to wonder why they do things. Muslims do things to please Allah, and they can please Allah only by obeying Him and practicing His religion.

Allah says in the meaning of : "O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa" (Qur'an, al-Baqarah, 2:183)

Ibn 'Umar reports that Allah's Messenger said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles)
  • To testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Messenger.
  • To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.
  • To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) .
  • To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)
  • To observe fast during the month of Ramadan. [Bukhari]
Abu Huraira narrates that one day while Allah's Messenger was sitting with the people, a man came to him walking and said, "O Allah's Messenger. What is Belief?" The Prophet said, "Belief is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Apostles, and the meeting with Him, and to believe in the Resurrection." The man asked, "O Allah's Apostle What is Islam?" The Prophet replied, "Islam is to worship Allah and not worship anything besides Him, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the (compulsory) charity i.e. Zakat and to fast the month of Ramadan." [The narration of Muslim has Hajj as well]. The man again asked, "O Allah's Apostle What is Ihsan (i.e.. perfection or Benevolence)? The Prophet said, "Ihsan is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you do not achieve this state of devotion, then (take it for granted that) Allah sees you." .... Then the man left. The Prophet said, "Call him back to me." They went to call him back but could not see him. The Prophet said, "That was Jibreel (Gabriel) who came to teach the people their religion." [Bukhari]. (Note that there are other narrations of this hadith, I took here one from Bukhari)

Since Islam means submission to Allah, we have no other choice but to submit ourselves to Allah and obey His commandments. It is from the mercy of Allah towards us that while He prescribed on us fasting He also showed us the greatness of fasting in this world and in the hereafter to make it beloved to us.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Getting Your Child to Love Reading

Author: Kathryn Perkinson

Helping your children to enjoy reading is one of the most important things you can do as a parent and well worth the investment of your time and energy. Kids will learn reading skills in school, but often they come to associate reading with work, not pleasure.

As a result, they lose their desire to read. And it is that desire - the curiosity and interest - that is the cornerstone to using reading and related skills successfully.

By far the most effective way to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud to them, and the earlier you start, the better. Even a baby of a few months can see pictures, listen to your voice, and turn cardboard pages.

Make this time together a special time when you hold your kids and share the pleasure of a story without the distractions of TV or telephones. You may be surprised to find that a well-written children's book is often as big a delight to you as it is to the kids.

And don't stop taking the time to read aloud once your children have learned to read for themselves. At this stage, encourage them to read to you some of the time. This shared enjoyment will continue to strenghten your children's interest and appreciation.

Simply having books, magazines, and newspapers around your home will help children to view them as part of daily life. And your example of reading frequently and enjoying it will reinforce that view.

While your children are still very small, it's a good idea to start a home library for them, even if it's just a shelf or two. Be sure to keep some books for little children to handle freely.

Consider specially made, extra durable books for infants, and pick paperbacks and plastic covers for kids who are older but still not quite ready for expensive hardbacks. Allowing little children to touch, feel, smell, and even taste books will help them develop strong attachments.

How you handle books will eventually influence how your kids treat them. Children imitate, so if they see that you enjoy reading and treat books gently and with respect, it is likely that they will do the same.

When you read aloud together, choose books that you both like. If a book seems dull, put it down and find one that is appealing. There are, however, so many children's books in print that making the best selections may seem a formidable task.

One approach is to look for award-winning books. There are two famous awards for children's literature made each year by the American Library Association that are good indicators of quality works: the Caldecott Medal for illustration and the Newbery Medal for writing. But these are given to only two of the approximately 2,500 new children's books published each year.

Fortunately, there is a lot of other good help available. For instance, there are lists of books recommended by the American Library Association and the Library of Congress and some excellent books to guide parents in making selections.

The best help of all, is at your neighbourhood library. If you are not familiar with the library, don't hesitate to ask for help. The children's librarian is trained to help you locate specific books, books that are good for reading aloud, and books on a particular subject recommended for a particular age group.

The library also has many book lists, including ones like those mentioned above and probably some published by the library itself.

In addition, your library will have several journals that regularly review children's books, including The Horn Book and Booklist. These will give you an idea of what's new and worth pursuing.

And there's nothing like just browsing through the many books available at your library until you find ones that appeal to you and your kids.

If your children are school-aged, keep in mind that the school library is an excellent source for a wide variety of materials and the school librarian is knowledgeable about children's literature. Encourage your kids to bring home books from their school library - for pleasure as well as for their studies.


By Unknown Author

A mother's reading to her children. Posted by Hello

When Mother reads aloud, the past
Seems real as every day;
I hear the tramp of armies vast,
I see the spears and lances cast,
I join the thrilling fray;
Brave knights and ladies fair and proud
I meet, when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, far lands
Seem very near and true;
I cross the desert’s gleaming sands,
Or hunt the jungle’s prowling bands,
Far heights, whose peaks the cold mist shroud,
I scale, when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, I long for noble deeds to do …
To help the right, redress the wrong,
It seems so easy to be strong,
So simple to be true.
Oh, thick and fast the visions crowd
My eyes, when Mother reads aloud.

(was posted earlier on 16 February 2005)


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