Tag Archives: Fasting

The Reasons why Unnecessary-Differing occurs during Ramadhān

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Gareth Bryant

1440, A.H./2019, C.E.

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Ramadhan is Our chance!!!

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It’s the perfect endeavor to start anew.

A way to escape tests we go through.

Ramadhan allows us to improve constantly.

Ramadhan gives us the true beauty of mercy.

What Allah descends, via blessings, cannot be matched.

All our actions are more valued, more closely watched.

Through each & every day, from one sunset to the next…

…we are granted extra chances, to be better than the rest.

Though stressful & tiring, it’s among the greatest things…

…there are no compensations, for what Ramadhan brings.

We hunger and restrain, all-day…

…we pray & seek mercy, all-night.

Ramadhan has been bestowed upon us…

…it’s a cleansing, when we don’t do right.

The gates of Paradise are opened, to their widest…

…the gates of Hell sealed & locked with iron plates.

We wish to be of those who arrive to Ramadhan, wanting freedom, from our own error…

…we hope that our sins be erased, that we not be punished for them on the Day of Terror.

Gareth Bryant/2013

Some Brief Islamic-History (the origins of `Id-il-Adha):

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Author’s note:
This post is based upon the narrations of the history of the most important Islamic holiday, based exclusively upon the work, Qasas-il-Anbiya’ (Stories of the Prophets), by Abil-Fida’ Isma`il ibn-Kathir ad-Dimashqi.

The story & history of the Celebration of Sacrifice (`Id-il-Adha) is such an important Islamic holiday, it is imperative that both Muslims & Non-Muslims know how this celebration became an Islamic holiday in the first place, and why it has such an important status in Islam. The story of the Celebration of the Sacrifice is based upon the stories of Abraham, Sarah, Hager and Ishmael (Peace be upon them).

It goes a lil’ somethin’ like this:

Abraham (the hated son)-
Imagine as a teenager, you’re given the greatest gift of all, guidance from Allah, through direct-revelation. Now, the only problem is that you live in a place where everyone except you worships other than Allah…how is one to deal with that? Well, those of us whom have accepted Islam can relate to this, in certain respects, to a certain degree. I mean none of us reverts are Prophets, or recipients of revelation from Allah. However, we have similar stories as Abraham, which is to decide whether to hold on to the guidance of Allah & turn against your own flesh-and-blood (as well as those whom you’ve known your whole life), or to oppose them in their rebellion against the oneness of Allah. Abraham decided to sacrifice the love of his father & people, in exchange for receiving the love of Allah, which never fades & is always sincere. And, this was not an easy thing for Abraham to go through: He faced being nearly burned-alive, by being catapulted into a blazing make-shift fire-pit, to be used as an example to not go against the grain, of not worshipping the pagan gods of his people, and without the protection of Allah, he surely would have been burned-alive.

Abraham, Sarah, and Hager (one not-so-happy family)-
Abraham & Sarah were married for a long time; yet, unfortunately, they were not able to produce any offspring. So, Sarah, decides to suggest to Abraham to take another wife to marry. He chooses Hager, the once slave of Sarah, as his wife. She gets pregnant, with whom would soon to be Ishmael. But, Hager has decided to hide her own pregnancy from Sarah, to prevent her from becoming jealous of the fact that Hager was able to get pregnant, while Sarah was not. Unfortunately, this plan fails-Sarah is not a happy-camper. When she in fact does find out, she is very angry, it is made well-known how angry she is. Now, Abraham is literally stuck in the middle, in between the joy of being a father-to-be, with his new-wife & being in the “dog-house”, sort of speak, with his first-wife.

So, after the birth of Ishmael, Allah decides to test Abraham, with a very important, yet heart-breaking test as well: Allah has made the decision for Abraham to abandon his new wife & child, and stay with his first wife, for the time being. Now, for any father, at least a good father, anyway, this would never, ever be an easy decision to make. But, then again, this is the Lord of the Universe telling you to do this, so you figure it out. Now, with this in mind, you have to at least try to appreciate what’s goin’ on here: He’s just had a baby, he has no idea where he is to send them, he has no idea how to tell Hager that Allah has commanded him to leave her, and he really has no idea, at the time, whether he’ll ever see either of them ever again.

Hager (the world’s first single-mother)-
So, Abraham decides to take Hager & the new-born, the first-born of Abraham, Ishmael, on a road-trip. Now, obviously, unbeknownst to the two of them (Hager & Ishamel), they’re gonna be left for dead, in a short while. They approach a valley, in what is now known as the Arabian-Peninsula (modern-day Saudi Arabia). It is here where they are commanded to be left. So, once they stop, Abraham leaves them some food & drink, then, starts walkin’-off-Obviously a strange thing to Hager, she calls out to him; yet there’s no response from him. She then asks him whether or not Allah has commanded him to do this, and his reply is yes, he affirms that what he is doing is in fact a direct order from Allah. So, upon that, she encourages him to leave. However, there’s a great dilemma in the midst: She’s ran outta food & drink, really fast, Abraham is nowhere around and she has an infant whose hungry & cranky, from being hungry…what’s a gal to do? Well, she starts doing what any mother would do…she starts running around, to try to find some signs of food, water, life, something, anything, for her child & herself. And, ironically, just as though she had thought her plight had no solution, instantly, a spring of water gushed from underground, underneath the feet of Ishmael. Excited & elated, of course, Hager begins to make a make-shift well, to control/conserve the water. Just as she’s doing this, a flock of birds see them, both Hager & Ishmael, from way up high in the sky. They begin to fly around them, and guess what, they were looking for food & what not in the middle of this wilderness as well. And, soon enough, a nomadic tribe, known as Banu-Jurhum, were traveling through the desert (as is typical of desert/nomadic peoples), in search of water, food, etc. Now, they begin to see the birds, who are swimming around Hager & Ishmael. And, they figured to themselves that there must be someone or something there for these birds to just stop & fly around that particular location. So, naturally, they follow the birds, who lead them indirectly to Hager & Ishmael. They ask for water; but, Hager asks for something much more important: that they do not bring any type of harm to her or her son. They agree, and so does she & these people founded the well of Zamzam & the city of Makkah, together.

Abraham comes back to Hager & Ishmael (the greatest family-reunion ever)-
Fortunately, some time later, when Ishmael becomes a pre-teen, basically, he, along with Hager, is reunited with Abraham-Sarah actually had a child of her own by this time; Isaac [Peace be upon him] had already been born. Abraham, Hager & Ishmael start to establish a beautiful relationship, and Abraham begins to make-up for lost-time, for not being there, for both Hager & Ishmael-Abraham & Ishmael had even built the Ka`bah & established the Hajj, together as father & son.

But, just when ya thought it was over, there’s more-
Everything seemed like happily ever after. Yet, there’s still one more thing that Allah commands Abraham to do: He is commanded to kill Ishmael, to slaughter him as a sacrifice to Allah-Now if this isn’t a test, I don’t know what is!!! But, guess what? Abraham, being the Muslim, the Prophet, the man he is, falls in line and proceeds to set out to do what Allah has commanded him to do. But, this time, he does it differently. He actually tells Ishmael what Allah has instructed him to do. Now, any of us, regardless to much of a Prophet our fathers may be, if we were to hear anything remotely close to this, we’re gettin’ the hell outta dodge; however, let’s find out what Ishmael had to say about this.
He tells his father Abraham, that he will endure whatever Allah has set out for him, and he will be patient (i.e. he’s willing to deal with having his young life snuffed out, simply because Allah says so). Now, this is what I call true faith in Allah, something that, unfortunately most of us will never achieve or acquire. But just then, as Abraham is about to strike the neck of Ishmael, with a sharp blade, suddenly, a ram appears, in a thorny bush, unable to escape, Abraham sees the ram, and immediately recognizes it as a sign from Allah, that this was only a test, to see how far he’d be willing to go to please his Lord, and he passed every single one of his tests, with “flying-colors”.

Now, one may ask, “What do this have to do with `Id-il-Adha?”-
I’ll go a lil’ deeper, for those who couldn’t make the connections for themselves-Since the term itself “`Id-ul-Adha” means the Celebration of Sacrifice (as was already, previously mentioned in this article), the stories which were detailed represent how far & deep a sacrifice can take a person, particularly & especially Prophets and/or family-members of Prophets. Abraham sacrificed a life of privilege & comfort among his people, Sarah had sacrificed her husband, and encouraged him to marry another woman, who was younger than she (to ensure that he could have a child), Hager sacrificed herself, possibly putting herself in danger, by agreeing with & encouraging Abraham to leave her & her infant-son, in the desert wilderness of the Arabian-Peninsula, Ishmael sacrificed his own life, to show dutifulness to Allah, then, to his father, a Prophet of Allah.

This is what `Id-ul-Adha represents-
We celebrate these great, righteous, persons, who sacrificed all that they had or wanted, simply to please Allah, the one who created them. And, Hajj (the annual sacred pilgrimage to Makkah, during the 12th month of the Islamic-Calendar, known as Dhil-Hijjah, literally meaning “the possessor of Hajj”), itself, is also directly tied into the origins of `Id-il-Adha.

Now, let’s talk a lil’ bit about Hajj itself-
1. The Zamzam water-well, possesses blessed water, which has quenched the thirst of untold millions of persons, whom have made pilgrimage, from the time that the spring was discovered, until the present-day.

2. The Ka`bah itself, the first building on Earth ever constructed, exclusively built, for the exclusive worship of Allah, originally being a simple altar, built by Adam (Peace be upon him), which is where the famous story of the sacrifices of Cain & Abel took place. After the great-flood, during the time of Noah (Peace be upon him), the altar, along with it’s foundation, were long-lost within the great sands of the Arabian desert. However, Allah (via His plan, which is greater than any & all other plans), had decided to bless Abraham & his descendants, with a Prophet from among them, long after his death, which is actually something that Abraham had actually asked Allah any way. This prayer was duly answered & that Prophet, from among the descendants of Abraham, was none other than Muhammad, the son of `Abdillah (Peace be upon him).

3. Of all of the days of Hajj (which are the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th of Dhil-Hijjah), Allah has chosen the 9th of Dhil-Hijjah to be the best day of the entire year, for the Ummah (nation) of Muhammad, and it is said by Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that, “whoever fasts on this day is assured to have their sins, from the previous year & the following year automatically forgiven.”.(al-Muslim) And, he also mentioned that, “the Hajj itself is `Arafah.”(an-Nasa’i), and this is because the day of `Arafah, where the pilgrims go to the plain of `Arafah, is only to occur once during Hajj; so, if you don’t get to `Arafah, your Hajj is not accepted as such. So, for all you Muslims out there, make sure that you fast on the day of `Arafah

4. This place, where Hager was running to find food & water for her son & she, is actually in between the two mountain-hills of as-Safa & al-Marwah. She had ran back-and-forth, in between these two mountains, seven times. And, to commemorate her sacrifice of herself to find food & drink for her son & she, we, as Muslims, remember her, by doing this same back-and-forth running, in between as-Safa & al-Marwah, as part of the rites of Hajj, along with revolving around the Ka`bah, seven times, which was initiated by both Abraham & Ishmael, in commemoration of the building of the Ka`bah itself, as the very first building upon the Earth designated for the exclusive worship of Allah, the Lord of the Universe.

And, this, in my conclusion, is the history of the origins of `Id-il-Adha, Hajj, and the promise of Allah, to Abraham, of making Muhammad a messenger from among his own descendants.

Gareth Bryant/2012

My thoughts on Batman: The Dark Knight Rises & James Holmes: Humanity Falls

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It’s been an entire week since the Batman movie massacre, that has shaken Aurora, Co, and has forced a nation into deep uproar, about gun-control, as well as, the two front-running Presidential candidates to make public outcries about gun-violence. However, when a Muslim observes this tragedy, and, a tragedy it definitely was, we must also reflect upon many of our own aspirations to catch the very first viewing of Batman: Dark Knight Rises. Muslims were making any & all types of excuses, asking all types of religious questions, to various religious personalities, concerning the religious permissibility of watching this final segment of this newest Hollywood spin on the well-known Batman saga, instead of preparing to concentrate on fasting during the Month of Ramadhan, whose first day coincided with the 20th of July. Muslims around the world annually anticipate the coming of Ramadhan, as a way to redeem ourselves & reform ourselves, to make us better Muslims & overall better Human beings, through our fasting & various other positive actions, while at the same time, disregarding any & all negative actions & behaviour.

Now, in spite of what had happened, at the hands of one James Eagan Holmes, responsible for the carnage in Aurora, we, as Muslims, must honestly ask ourselves, “If I were in Aurora, knowing what I know about what had happened, would I still go to see the Batman movie?” Not surprisingly, many Muslims would definitely say “Yes” if they were to ask themselves this question. It shows a true disconnect with reality. And, the reality is that death will come for all of us, both Muslim & Non-Muslim, alike. The question now, is whether we will be ready to meet our Lord.

Let’s go off on a tangent, just a lil’ bit, and place some focus on James Holmes & the victims. James Holmes seemed like the typical all-American boy: straight-A student, Ph.D. candidate, the works. But, there was a dark void inside of him, that he felt necessary to fulfill at any cost, regardless of its consequences. He was haunted by some demons that was consuming him, and, in turn would destroy precious lives, without any type of justification what so ever. Then, there are the victims of this tragedy, whom they & their families deserve our utmost sympathies & condolences. Death is never an easy thing to cope with, especially when it hits home-base, effecting those whom we love, and, especially when it’s a direct result of senseless violence.

These people, cut down by Holmes just wanted to see a movie, enjoy the weekend. But, they meet their end in a very horrific way, that has sent their families into unspeakable turmoil, and, for what reason? So, some guy can live out a demonic fantasy, to be the Joker?!!! The actions of Holmes have sparked a nation-wide discussion, among politicians, community-activists, public personalities, etc., about gun-control. But, what about the discussion to help the families of these victims heal?!!! That’s just as much of a prevalent issue as the weapons that these people claim to want off of the streets.

The true issue is that our societies glorify violence & carnage, via entertainment, The Godfather, Scarface, The Sopranos, The Wire, Spartacus, etc. However, when someone goes off, and starts to want to manifest violence that they see, being depicted through media, no one wants to take responsibility for their contribution to our violent world. Now, don’t get me wrong: James Holmes was dead-wrong for what he’s done-I’m sure that he’ll receive the maximum available punishment for his crimes in Colorado, and, also, in the Hereafter, he’ll have to be held accountable, to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, for his actions. But, what about our own actions, which encourage violence on the big screen, but condemn it in reality.

Honestly, this is very hypocritical-We must hate violence all-around, not jst when some monster takes a weapon & massacres people in a theater, but, also, as well, when we’re watching our favorite mob & crime films & T.V. shows. We’ve become so desensitized by violence & its effects, that eventually, if not corrected by our societies, will promote not only more copy-cat incidents like this, but the nearly irreversible disregard for the sacredness of life itself. We all, regardless to whether you’re a politician, an actor, an executive producer of a show, a radio host, a music star, an educator, a parent, an older sibling, a religious leader, whomever, and, what ever you may be, we all have significant influences over one another, whether we’re willing to accept this or not. So, it’s really up to all of us, to change the tide of violence in our societies, to prevent Humanity from falling into the abyss of violence.

My thoughts on Yusef Ramelize & his amazing project: “Homeless For One Week”

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Author’s note:
It’s very ironic how in a place like New York City, by far, the wealthiest city on the planet, in Human history, can actually have a significant homeless population. What’s also just as sadly amazing is how so many of us do nothing about it. I mean, sure there’s various organizations & food-banks. But, the real cure to homelessness is through the individual efforts of you & I, regular, everyday, nine-to-five kind of people, who see something within our society that’s a serious problem, and set out to do something about it. Well, fortunately, a very near & dear good Muslim brother of mine has taken on this mighty task, and has been doing something about it, for quite some time. His name, Yusef Ramelize, his efforts, going homeless, for one whole week, to get a serious, authentic sense of how the other half truly lives, in a place like New York City. Every year, during the annual, Islamic, fasting month of Ramadhan, he’s out on the streets, attempting to expose the realities of homelessness, to do his part in helping others whom have been abandoned in many ways, or have gone completely unnoticed by most of us, which is very easy, since many of us get caught in the matrix, of our mundane, nine-to-five lives. However, Mr. Ramelize takes off time from his job, to help expose the need to help people whom he’s never even met, and will probably never meet. With that being said, it is so very important that we support this man’s efforts, because he is truly doing a great thing, for his city, for his country, for his Humanity.

Yusef Ramelize: A great Muslim, a great Human being, with a great mission:

Going above & beyond passionate emotionally soothing talk, of wanting to make a difference, Mr. Ramelize has taken a very honest, pragmatic action, as the Founder and Project Director of the “Homeless For One Week” project, an annual initiative that he had began in 2009, to raise awareness about homelessness in New York City. His plan is to be homeless for one week, every year, during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadhan, while raising money and awareness about homelessness, through video-blogs and interviews.

His amazing humanitarian project, “Homeless For One Week”:

To Mr. Ramelize, the preparation for this particular project is mostly spiritual. The reason is not to mock the homeless; but, rather, it is an excuse to become closer to Allah, in obedience, via reflection about the other, especially during the month of Ramadhan, when reflection, as well as internal & external purification are typically at an all-time high anyway. This project focuses on reflection of how the other half truly lives & is forced to live. Over the past four years, money has been raised, for various Tri-State area based organizations, like, CAMBA (Church Avenue Merchants Block Association), Coalition for the Homeless, as well as Food Bank for New York City, to help spread awareness about the need to help the homeless.
Every year, the money that he has raised, as a result of his amazing efforts, goes to one, or more different charities, that work exclusively to help end homelessness & hunger. This year, he is raising monies for “Muslims Against Hunger”, based in the Tri-State area. Each year, he does something unique, as well, to really encapsulate the homeless-experience, not to patronize or mock the homeless, but, to rather truly know how it feels to have to go day-to-day, without the simplest luxuries, that so many of us either take completely for granted, waste, or both. For instance, last year, he did his “Homeless For One Week” project, without any footwear. The main reason for this was for him to sacrifice simple things, that so many people take for granted, far too often. This project is essentially geared toward consciousness & gratitude for all that we have & to help inspire others to help those who have less and/or nothing in comparison.

One of the main themes that he wants to face head-on are the very unfair & cruel “Stereotypes of the Homeless”: Lazy, shiftless, unskilled, jaded, poor work-ethic, scam-artists, etc. This year, he’s planning to make more of an effort to interact with homeless persons. Weather plays a very significant part in the effectiveness of this project. People don’t realize how weather affects people, who don’t have proper access to food, clothing and shelter. And, as Muslims, we owe it to Allah, then to our fellow man to make the lives of others better.

The positive results yielded thus far:

As a result of Mr. Ramelize’s extraordinary work, for this most noble project, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer had honored him, with a proclamation, as “Artist and Activist against Homelessness” and was also nominated as NY1 News’ “Queens, NY Person of The Week”, for his charitable spirit and promotion of awareness through his “Homeless For One Week” project. The “Homeless For One Week” project has been featured in the NYDaily News, NY Post, RT News, The Village Voice, ELAN Magazine, Arabnews.com, America.gov and DNAinfo.com.

Yusef Ramelize’s bio:
Currently working as the Production and Creative Manager
of Informa plc, one of the largest publishing companies in the world.
He holds a BFA in Electronic Design and Multimedia from the City College of New York. In his spare time, Ramelize does freelance marketing projects ranging from print ads for pop culture magazines, catalogs to business logos. In addition, Yusef Ramelize also works on various community projects, such as being the Community Outreach Director for CAMP (Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals), and as a Creative Consultant for Elan Online Magazine (A Muslim lifestyle online magazine).

So, in conclusion, if you are at all inspired by the great work, of such a great Human being, then, by all means, please support his noble efforts.

You can help him make a difference, by first visiting his website:

http://www.homelessforoneweek.com


The Sweetness of Ramadhan!!!

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Author’s note:
Since the month of Ramadhan is close at hand, I figured that it would be good for me to post this poem, about Ramadhan itself, displaying the importance of this month to Muslims, everywhere.

The Sweetness of Ramadhan!!!

Ramadhan is upon us, so get ready for the blessings that are ahead!!!
Utilize all of your time in this month & be grateful you are not dead!!!

There are so many of us, who have not made it this far.
They’ve returned to Allah, as either Muslims or Kuffar.

Chase the goodness of Ramadhan, for some, it’s our only shot!!!
We need this to shield us from the Fire, because the Fire’s hot!!!

Don’t do the same lame things that you’ve done last year!!!
When you hear the Qur’an recited, shed at least one tear!!!

When having Iftar, we should eat much less!!!
Don’t have arguments or fights, avoid stress!!!

Chase the goodness of Ramadhan, for some, it’s our only shot!!!
We need this to shield us from the Fire, because the Fire’s hot!!!

We all need the coolness of Allah’s mercy in this month, just like our tongues need cool water.
Make sure that you’re focused on the true objective, don’t waste time & end up being a loser.

This month is when the Qur’an was revealed, so we need to read it more!!!
We must attach ourselves to the Qur’an, make it something that we adore!!!

Chase the goodness of Ramadhan, for some, it’s our only shot!!!
We need this to shield us from the Fire, because the Fire’s hot!!!

If we don’t attain the great mercy within this month, we will all fail!!!

Let us not fail!!!

Gareth Bryant/2011