Joined: 14 Dec 2007
|Posted: Sun Dec 16, 2007 1:22 am Post subject: EASY GUIDE FOR NEW MUSLIMS
|Assalamu alaykum (peace be upon you)!
We would like to congratulate you upon taking the most important and meaningful decision of your life by submitting to the will of our Creator and Sustainer, Allah. On behalf of the almost two billion Muslims (and growing) from around the world we would like to welcome you with open arms.
Al-Hamdulillah, All Praise be to Allah, for turning our hearts to the true religion of Islam.
Islam is a religion of deep spiritual awareness, it is a way of life in which we strive to become closer to God with every action we take. The process of submitting to Allah is a life long dynamic experience in which the mind, heart and body come together in a complete, beautiful and balanced system of worship.
The material presented herein will be practical in nature. It will insha'Allah provide you with guidelines to start building your relationship with Allah and will focus on the remaining five pillars of Islam as well as on basic information you may find valuable during your first months as a Muslim. We sincerely hope and pray that you find this material useful and that you may benefit from it.
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM:
The testimony of faith will soon become the source of your guidance, and it will be the cement that will unite your entire life with Allah and His Messenger. There is no God but Allah, nothing worthy of worship except Him, nothing nor nobody can give or take away except what He has already prescribed for you. Converting to Islam is usually followed by great trials, and tremendous stress and anxiety. It may affect your work and your studies, and it may distance you from life-long friends and family members. These trial are meant to bring you closer to Allah and to develop a love towards His Messenger (peace be upon him) as you strive to learn more and understand better the new and bright life you have chosen for yourself. Rely upon Allah to help you work through your trials and hardships as you put your best effort forward. Remember that the Prophet, Allah's peace and blessing be upon him, went through even harder trials than you will ever go through, and so studying his life should be second only in importance to learning and understanding the Quran. His life will balance yours, the beauty of his character will beautify yours, and insha'Allah every aspect of his life will inspire you to become a better human being.
Praying five times a day, an obligation on all Muslims, becomes our personal communion with God and is the foundation of our daily life. Prayer becomes the medium through which we search for peace, for inspiration, for protection against sinning, repentance, among many other things. It is therefore of paramount importance that you learn how to pray properly.
The best way to learn how to pray is through the help of another Muslim. Befriend a good practicing Muslim and ask him/her for help, but to get you started the following explanation should prove to be useful. As we mentioned above it is our duty to Allah to pray five times a day. Each prayer should be performed within the timeframes as described below, with the starting and ending times for each one being available at most mosques or better yet, on-line.
PRAYER TIME FRAME:
A Muslim must pray five times a day. The compulsory prayers are called Fard in Arabic. Each unit of a prayer is called a Rak'ah. The Fard prayers are:
Fajr 2 Rak'ahs
Dhuhr 4 Rak'ahs
Asr 4 Rak'ahs
Maghrib 3 Rak'ahs
Isha' 4 Rak'ahs
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) performed extra prayers voluntarily in addition to Fard prayers. These prayers are called Sunnah prayers. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) always prayed two Rak'ahs before the Fard of Fajr and three Rak'ahs after the Fard of Isha even when on a journey. The one, three, five, seven, or nine Rak'ahs after Isha are called Witr (odd number).
The Sunnah prayers are as follows:
Fajr 2 Rak'ahs before Fard.
Dhuhr 4 Rak'ahs before Fard and 2 Rak'ahs after.
Maghrib 2 Rak'ahs after Fard.
Isha 2 Rak'ahs after Fard.
PREPARING FOR YOUR PRAYER (Wudu):
Before you approach prayer you should purify yourself by performing ablution (Wudu). The first step in performing wudu is to intend it in your heart and by uttering, or saying in your mind, the words "bismillah" (in the name of Allah). Then rinse your palms up to the wrist three times, rinse your mouth thrice, wash your nose by sniffing water in it thrice, wash your face three times, then wash your hands up to the elbow, the right hand first then the left hand. Then wipe your head with wet hands, rub your ears with wet hands and finally wash your right feet up to the ankle thrice and repeat it with your left foot. When washing your hands, arms and feet you should always start with your right one and repeat it three times, as the Prophet taught us to do. After you are finished you should say ashadu an-la ilaha illallahu, washadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh.
If you go to the bathroom for any of your necesities, pass wind, sleep or become unconscious, you should purify yourself again by following the same procedure as described above before the next prayer. If you are in a state of major impurity (discharge of semen in erotic dreams or sexual intercourse) purify your body by taking a complete bath (Ghusl). Women should also take a bath after menstruation or child-birth. The procedure is as follows (1) have the intention of ghusl, (2) wash the private parts, (3) perform ablution (wudu) as you do before prayer (4) put water over the head (5) wash the whole body, head and hair thoroughly so as not to leave a dry spot (6) say ashadu an-la ilaha illallahu, washadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh. A Muslim is expected to do ghusl at least once a week is on Friday before the congregational prayers, though nowadays it is hardly applicable as we take showers everyday.
Women are exempt from performing prayer during the days of menstruation and child-birth time. As for other times, they are required to perform prayer promptly.
This is the link that shows how the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) Prayed:
FRIDAY PRAYER (JUMA)
Muslims gather once a week for a congregational prayer called Jumma consisting of a short speach followed by two rakahs. It is obligatory for all Muslims males to perform the Friday prayer in congregation, so if you work locate the mosque closest to your office and talk to your supervisor to let him/her know that you will be absent during that time. If you are a student, contact your local MSA to find out where Jumma is offered. It is highly recommended to take a complete bath (ghusl) on Friday mornings before the Jumma prayer.
FASTING: THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
Ramadan, the month of fasting, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and will fall in different times of the year as the Islamic months follow the lunar calendar. Fasting is obligatory on all Muslims during this month with the following exceptions: young, sick, travelers on a journey and menstruating women. Foster mothers and pregnant women are also exempt from fasting if it will harm them or their babies. However all missed fasts should be made up.
Through fasting you will gain enormous spiritual benefits. The worship of Allah that consisted only of prayer and meditation now expands into the physical realm. Your whole body is now united with your soul in the worshipping of our Creator and Sustainer, Allah. But fasting also confers many physical benefits. It cleanses our body of toxic compounds, rejuvenates our system, eradicates bad habits (like smoking), teaches self discipline. Fasting for thirty days may seem difficult, but gradually, insha Allah, you'll endure it with ease and patience with the help and company of your Muslim brothers and sisters and with the enormous rewards promised by Allah.
Fasting begins at dawn and ends at sunset. During this period, intake of liquid or solid food, smoking, and sex is prohibited. A predawn meal (suhur) is usually taken before the fast begins and is highly recommended. The fast is broken as soon as the sunset prayer time comes in (maughrib) with healthy food and liquid (traditionally it is broken with dates, as the Prophet did) and should be done without any delay whatsoever. Precise timing for the start and finish of each fasting day can be obtained from the prayer timetables from the Mosques in your area.
ZAKAT (OBLIGATORY CHARITY)
Allah ordained every Muslim who possesses a certain amount of property to pay the �Zakat� (obligatory charity) annually out of their possessions. It is a purification of our wealth, immensely rewarded by Allah and brings economic balance in the society. It is usually 2.5 % of our stored wealth. Zakat is given usually during the month of Ramadan and is collected by many Mosques which then distribute it to the needy. For precise calculation of Zakat, contact the Mosque nearest you to obtain a Zakat calculation Sheets.
The pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) is an obligation upon every Muslim and must be performed at least once in a life-time if physically and financially able. This event takes place during the eleventh month of the Islamic Calendar and Muslims of all racial, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds congregate in one place, as one big family, worshiping One Lord, praying one way, wearing One kind of garments. Hajj is symbolic of the oneness of mankind in the eyes of our Creator, Allah.
If you are planning to go for Hajj, check the dates from the Islamic calendar. Muslims in many Mosques undertake Hajj in groups. Each group is lead by an experienced Muslim who knows the various requirements and procedures during Hajj. It is advisable for a first timer or a new Muslim to join one of these groups for guidance and support. Advantage could also be taken from various airlines and Mosques which provide complete hajj packages which usually includes transportation, hotel accommodation and guide. Plan 4-6 months in advance before your Hajj trip.
Umrah, referred to as the minor pilgrimage, can be performed during any of other months of the year and is not obligatory.