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Tag Archives: Ramadan

Jesse Curtis Morton: August 20, 2012 (A Ramadan Reflection: From the Chest to Sham, Taqwa is the Heart of All Affairs)

All praise is due to Allah who commanded the Muslims to fast during Ramadan. He (Ta’ala) said,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُون
O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as was prescribed for those before you that you became al-muttaqun (2:183)

And may the peace and mercy and Allah’s blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) who received the Quran in the holy month and warned the Muslim community when he said:

اقرؤا القرآن و عملوا به… و لا تأكلوا به
“Recite the Quran and act upon it ..and don’t eat or profit from it”

As another Ramadan has passed us by, Al-hamdollillah, it is important for us to reflect upon whether we have recognized its purpose and improved our Taqwa by becoming people that embody the Quranic message in our actions; or whether we have merely abstained from food and drink while devouring the Quranic essence, and thereby its true objective.

Taqwa is a difficult word to define. It is usually translated as ‘God-fearing’ or ‘pious,’ but perhaps the best definition was given by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (radiya Allahu anhu), who was asked to define it and responded with a question: “When you walk down a forest path covered in thorns, what do you do?” he asked his questioner. “You lift up your clothes, move very slow and take your steps carefully“, he [the questioner] responded, and Umar (radiya Allahu anhu) simply stated,”That, my friend, is Taqwa.

And it is unfortunate that in this age Ramadan has largely lost its connection to the purpose of instilling Taqwa. Instead, in many ways, Ramadan has been turned into an occasion for festivity and entertainment, not unlike the way Christians have distorted their celebration of Christmas so that it is commercialized and void of spiritual purpose. Neglecting the purposes of acts of worship in Islam is a primary reason for the Muslim Ummah’s present degradation, and this Ramadan was significant in that several events in the heart of the Muslim world should have allowed us to recognize that our material and physical circumstances are largely a direct reflection of the state of the heart inside our chests.

The most prominent events are those occurring in Syria, an area destined to play a crucial role in any Islamic revival for its import is included in many ahaadith and isolated in many books of Fiqh as the home of the Taifa Mansoora, the Fustaat (flag) at the end of times where the Abdaal (righteous) gather, help to make Bay’aah to the Mahdi and eventually aid Issa Ibn Maryam (alaihissalaam) in fighting the antichrist. For example, the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

Syria will be conquered, and when you are given a choice of places to settle, go to a city called Damascus for it will be the Fustaat (Fustaat here means city) of the Muslims during the wars of Fitnah and the place of assembly.

Thus, its condition resembles the condition of the entire Ummah, and this is as Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

You see the believers as regards their being merciful among themselves and showing love among themselves and being kind among themselves resembling one body. So, if a part of the body is ill then the whole body suffers from sleeplessness and fever.

And a proper conception of Islam helps us to understand that our personal conditions are connected to the condition of the global Muslim community altogether and that the condition of any given Muslim community is, at the same time, a direct reflection of the condition of Islam and Muslims across the world. It is for this reason that the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) admonished the companions saying,

He who is not concerned with the general affairs of the Muslims is not one of us.

Unfortunately, it is a lack of adhering to the path of Islam and [a lack of] trekking in a manner of caution and Taqwa that has caused the body of Muslims to suffer from sleeplessness and fever. And today we exist just as the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) described when he said:

The nations will call other nations to stand against you as the eaters call each other to eat from the food in front of them on a large wooden plate.

A person asked the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam),”Will that be because we will be few in number?”

The Prophet replied,”No, You will be great in number, but you will be rubbish like the rubbish of the flood water. And certainly Allah will remove from the hearts of your enemies fear of you and will throw Wahan in your hearts.”

A person asked, “What is ‘Wahan,’ O Messenger of Allah?”

The Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) replied, “Wahan is to love the world and hate death.

And Syria is a perfect sample of the Ummah’s general existence. Despite having a dominant Sunni population, a deviant Alawite minority has ruled the post colonialist nation through a dictatorship managed mostly by a single family. That authoritarian dictatorship has maintained for over four decades, largely due to the rubbish associated with a preponderant Arab racism and post-sykes-picot nationalism united against all manifestations of Islam as a complete socio-political, economic order.

It is a common circumstance all over the Muslim world, but where critics attribute blame to the external coalition of nations conspiring to feast on the Muslim world’s natural resources and civilization, the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) placed blame on the internal condition of the Muslims themselves. The tremors shaking the heart of the Arab world are proportionate to an Islamic Awakening over a generation, and perhaps the most evident lesson about “Taqwa” to take from this Ramadan, is the connection between the state of our spiritual selves and the general physical reality of Muslims everywhere.

The prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) stated,

“Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body, if it becomes reformed, the whole body becomes reformed, but if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted and that [piece] is the heart.”

Today both the hearts of the individual believer and the identity in the heart of the Muslim world face all sorts of dialectical rupturing and everywhere glimpses exist of an ascendant Islamic identity which is also in accord with what the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said, As you are so are the rulers above you. That being said, it becomes apparent that the solution to our contemporary situation is, first and foremost, a spiritual one and Ramadan serves as a continuous annual reminder of the connection between the spiritual and material realms.

This has always been the case. When the Tatars were pushed from Damascus by successful battle during Ramadan in 702 A.H, physical victory was a result of Ibn Taymia’s cleansing the beliefs of the Muslims with texts like his Aqeedahtu Hamawiyaa, written for the people of Hama, a town besieged by the Assad regime today.

Similarly, At-Tabari recorded in his classic work An History that when the Muslims first conquered Syria under Umar Ibn Al Khattab, Heraclius, the Roman emperor asked a Byzantine who had been a prisoner of the Muslims about their condition. The man replied,

“I shall tell you, and it will be as if you are looking at them. They are horseman during the day and monks at night. In the areas they rule, they do not eat except that they pay for it, and they do not enter a house except with a greeting of peace. They stand up to those who fight them until they destroy them.”

Heraclius could only reply, “If you have spoken the truth, they will indeed inherit the land on which I stand.” Surely, their foundation was Taqwa and we remain, as Imam Malik once suggested, “Verily the only thing that will rectify the ends of this Ummah, is what rectified its beginning.

As we push forward after Ramadan, let us remember that Taqwa is the foundation of all we do. That it is manifested in the heart and that our physical condition is dependent on the state of our spiritual selves.

It was for this reason that the noble Shaykh Nassarudeen Al-Albani adopted the Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen’s statement: “Establish the Islamic state in your hearts, and Allah will make it a reality,” even though he disagreed with them. Allah’s Messenger (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) constantly emphasized such principles. He said, “Straighten your rows (three times) and Allaah will bring together your ranks or Allaah will put differences into your hearts,” and he (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) informed us that, “A believer to another believer is like a building whose different part enforce each other.

Today, we Muslims are being tested severely, and our current circumstances tell of potential revival, but it is evident the hearts are tainted by foreign desires. Allah has told us that “Allah has not made for man two hearts inside his body” (33.4). Taqwa is the spiritual garb of the heart that beats for Islam and Muslims, so let us cultivate it wherever we are and recognize that such efforts can only help to bring victory to the Muslims at large.

As individuals and collectives, Allah is testing our hearts. It is as the Prophet (salAllahu alaihi wassallam) said,

“Trials and tribulations will be presented to the hearts, as a reed mat is interwoven stick by stick. Any heart which absorbs these trials will have a black mark put in it. However, any heart that rejects them will have a white mark put in it. The result is that hearts will be of two kinds: one white like a white stone, which will not be harmed by trials as long as the heavens and earth endure; and the other dark and rusty, like an over-turned vessel; not able to recognize the good, nor reject evil, but rather being absorbed with its desires.”

As an Ummah we are increasingly passing these tests and have witnessed some purification. As a result, a new middle east is formulating in the heart of the Muslim world and circumstances, like those unfolding in Syria, present numerous opportunities to connect the degree of material success to adherence upon the path of Taqwa as outlined by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, for Taqwa fixates the hearts upon the Quran and sunnah and other superficial displays of Islam absent such a foundation only lead to further sleeplessness and disorder.
Brothers and sisters should use the affairs unfolding in Syria to connect to the global Ummah and to call to adherence to these principles.

The great scholar Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah stated that:

“There are four matters, that when their limits are transgressed harden the heart: food, sleep, speech and sexual intercourse. A body afflicted by disease does not derive nourishment from admonishment or exhortation. Whoever desires to purify his heart then let him give preference to Allah over his base desires.”

Ramadan forces the Muslim to restrain all four of these base desires but only those able to connect refraining from them during the holy month to the cultivation of Taqwa thereafter will cleanse their condition and benefit from the trial. In the same way, the historic trials unfolding in the communities of Muslims across the globe will only produce benefit where they stand upon a foundation of Taqwa that manifests action upon the Quranic path. It is a failure to recognize the purpose behind acts of worship in Islam that makes us those that eat and sell the divine message just like the nations before us. May Allah make us al-Muttaqun.

Eid Mubarek.
Younes Abdullah Muhammad
Jesse Curtis Morton #79274-083
FCI Schuylkill
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 759
Minersville, PA 17954
USA
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Zachary Adam Chesser: July 25, 2013 (Ramadan in Gitmo North – A Break from Tyranny)

BismIllaah ir-Rahmaan ir-Rahiim,

As the month of Ramadaan is now half past, I thought I might mention how we have been granted a brief reprieve from the Islamophobic and authoritarian staff in regards to our ability to pray with one another. You see, normally the Muslims at this particular Gitmo North facility are banned from praying together. We can only pray individually.

The staff who run Gitmo North have claimed that Islaamic congregational prayer will lead to radicalism. They say that whoever is leading the prayer will become an influential religious figure and somehow convince all of the other Muslims in the federal prison system to become terrorists. Thus, they banned congregational prayer.

Really, they just hate Islaam and wanted to punish Muslims for their beliefs, but they will not explicitly say that on paper. However, they have cited the fact that Islaam is the fasted growing religion in the prisons as a reason to ban group prayer, and they have also equated Islaam in general with radicalism.

A brother has informed me that one of the reasons a Muslim inmate was transferred to Gitmo North, was because he was radicalizing a prison in Michigan. As evidence, they cited the fact that prior to his arrival, only five prisoners were listed as Muslims. However, by the time he left, there were forty individuals identifying themselves as Muslims.

There was another man who arrived at Gitmo North, so the intelligence officer, Henry Rivas, told him that he should watch out, because the people here were going to try to convert him to their religion. This man was formerly a member of a religious group called the Black Israelites. A few months after arriving, he did, in fact, become Muslim, al-hamdu Lillaah, but he told us about what Rivas said to him prior to his conversion.

At the other Gitmo North facility, the one in Terre Haute, Indiana, prisoners are allowed to pray together, because a federal court told the prison that they were violating U.S. law by banning the Muslims at Gitmo North from praying together. However, at my facility, the ban continues, because technically the injunction only applies to the Terre Haute facility under American law. So, despite the fact that the facilities are exactly the same and that the law applies to the whole country, not just one pocket here or there, Gitmo North staff continue to ban us from prayer, even though they know it is against U.S. law.

Anyway, in Ramadaan, Gitmo North staff have apparently concluded that it is safe to let us pray together. Somehow the radicalization aura which is supposedly emitted from us when we pray together does not work during the Islaamic holy month devoted to fasting and worship, so they the ban is lifted. It is an amazing blessing which we all take advantage of. Normally, we can only pray together under the fear of disciplinary action.

I hope that the Muslims will reflect on this, and on the difficulty their brothers are enduring with regard to their prayers, and that they will not let their freedom pass them by without their taking advantage of this opportunity. Please keep us in your prayers, and raise awareness of this unjust policy.

Abu Talhah al-Amriiki
Guantanamo North, U.S.A.
16 Ramadaan, 1434

 
 

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Fulan: August 18, 2012 (What a Strange World)

44:27 ١٤٣٣/١٨/٩

To the one who’s heart is in my chest…

With a broken pen I write, in a month of Mercy and Victory half fled, I sit– the nights, I strive to stand – but weakened and slacked has become my state. What sweet scents I sift through a cool breeze, brought from a home long unseen. What perfumed garments speak of days when attar flowed and fasts fled in the company of dear ones, near in blood and close of heart.

So in the land of each as he pleases, I sit– in a strange world where one day what is given is taken and what is forbidden is free… What a topsy-turvy place, where to write is wrong, and words are buried beneath crimson strands– sticky and sickly.

To our Lord I speak, in gratitude for All He has Blessed us with. And to our Lord I complain– as He is swift to call to account. And let it be known with certitude that every deed is recorded, every word written, and the hearts, like these pilfered pages, are lain bare; the secrets unknown here are there clear– so know that for each action shall you find your reward, and Allah الله is not in the least way unjust.

Every eye shall be dotted and every “t” shall be crossed. By the One Who Sent the Quran in this month, we shall soon meet again, Yaa Samad, Ameen.

(The Itcher in the Dark)

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Letters from Fulan, Risala

 

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Mufid Abdulqader: August 1, 2012 (Ramadan in Terre Haute)

A day of Ramadan in prison is something unique in terms of the limitations imposed upon you and that is especially for someone who was very active during Ramadan when he was in the free world.

I will start the description as the evening of every day in Ramadan begins to dwindle down, around 8:00 PM.

At that time, me and another brother start preparing a small Iftar snack in the dinning hall for all the brothers to break their fast. We stuff dates with peanuts and give each brother 3 stuffed dates and a small cup of water, place them on a napkin and take it and place at a table in the chapel waiting for the Athan of Maghreb prayer.

Today actually I made Baklava (a Palestinian sweet) for everyone, so each brother will get his piece of Baklava along with the three dates and water. Every evening, about 45 minutes before Iftar, there is a halaqa for all the brothers for tafseer al-Quran or a talk about one of the companions or other related Islamic subjects.

Around 8:45 pm which is approx. 25 minutes before Iftar, most brothers go to their cells and bring whatever other sweets or food they have specially cooked for that day. Ten minutes before Athan (call for the prayer) you will find each one mostly by himself in some isolated corner making duaa for themselves and families and asking Allah for quick release from this jail.

At Iftar time, which is now around 9:09 pm, we all gather in the chapel and one brother from the Philippines will make Athan and each one breaks his fast with the dates and water. We perform Maghreb prayer in group (jamaa) following the Iftar.

After the prayer, everyone moves to the dinning hall where the food service usually brings the food cart that has our lunch and dinner food (which is exactly what other inmates we served lunch and dinner for that day). Me and another brother set up the food stations with the pans, pots, trays, spoons, napkins …etc.

The brothers line up and each get a tray, and we scoop/serve the food for them. Everyday the food is different, but normally we have one kind of meat (hamburger, chicken, or tuna). Some vegetables such as spinach, mixed vegetables, beans, lettuce or other vegetable. We also have some kind of sweets such as cakes or pie.
We also hand every brother a small bag of food for his Sohor (pre-dawn meal) at the same time he takes his Iftar food. The Sohor bag usually has a small bag cereal, cake, one piece of fruit, or 2 boiled eggs. For the Sohor, also around 4:00 am, one brother accompanied by a guard would bring two milks to each Muslim’s cell.

After we eat our Iftar, we clean the entire dinning hall (all the tables, food stations, sweep and mop the floor) and pick up the trash and go back to our cells for the final count of the day. Everyone is locked up for the night. Most brothers pray Isha Prayer followed with Taraweeh and then eat and drink or read and then go to sleep.
The next day starts at around 6:00 am when the guard comes and opens the doors for all cells, and another day in the CMU is about to start.

Most brothers sleep after making Fajr prayer, and you will see them around 10 or 11 escaping the heat from their ovens (their cells) and try to look for a cool place in front of a fan to read Quran.

Around 12:00 is usually what is called ‘Mail Call’, where a BOP staff brings the mail of all inmates and hands each inmate his own mail that was sent to him. This is one of the happiest moments of the entire day when each one of us is looking forward to receiving any mail from his loved ones or friends (inmates love mail, any mail, even junk mail is welcomed).

After mail call, most of the brothers go back and do whatever they want. During Ramadan I have noticed that 99% of the brother do not watch TV as usual. I have also noticed more peace and tranquillity.

Around 3:45 pm is the normal lock down for the day for the evening stand up count (to count all inmates in the unit). Each inmate must be standing in his cell as the guards come by and count every inmate.

Around 4:45 pm or so the doors for all cells are open and non-Muslims go to the dinning hall to eat their dinner while Muslims are busy with the Quran, praying or just relaxing.

After Asr (afternoon) prayer, I usually go do a little bit of a workout with several brothers. This workout is just a mini version of what we normally do and it is intended just to maintain the muscles. The workout lasts for about 30 minutes.

After shower and as time gets closer to Iftar, me and the same brother go back and start preparing the small snack for the brothers’ Iftar. Tomorrow, I will be adding to the Iftar snack a special Palestinian sweet called Kunafa with a special touch of love.

The heat has been a major problem because we fast approximately 16 hours and that makes us get dehydrated, and I noticed that myself. For the last few days I noticed that I loose an average of 6 pounds between the hours of 10:00 AM and 8:00 PM everyday when I weigh myself on the very same day. For example, at 10:00 am, I weighed myself and lets say that I weighed 188 lbs and then I weigh myself at 8:00 pm the same day and my weight would be 182 lbs. That is a loss of 6 pounds of mainly water because of dehydration. Sometimes I feel dizzy and have to sit down and cool off.

The temperature yesterday was 104 degrees with a heat index of 120 and no air conditioning. At night the heat prevents me from sleeping because you wake up with your pillow soaking wet and you are sweating all over as well.

It is very difficult to pray and have any kind of khusoo’ (peace and tranquility) with such an intense heat. One of the big fans in the unit broke down over three weeks ago and they still have not fixed it yet. So the area that fan was cooling off is abandoned by all inmates.

This is a real test in worship. When I pray Isha and Taraweeh I have two fans pointed at my face and body and I also soak my clothes with water and wash my face every two Rakaat to cool off and I am still sweating like crazy. This situation is extremely difficult. Despite all this heat, I know that all the brothers still make their Isha and Taraweeh and night prayers.

This brings me to remember of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be Upon Him) and the companions during Ramadan when the month of Ramadan happened to be in the summertime. They did not have any of these luxuries that we enjoy now and yet it never affected their worship of Allah. I think we are all spoiled, including us in jail.

I have been in prison for 4 years and this has been the most difficult and trying Ramadan for me. This facility is unfit even for animals not just humans. I know that the reward for worship increases as the difficulty increases, and I ask Allah to reward all of us for this hardship.

When you are in your house, under the nice cool air condition, and wondering if you should go to pray in the mosque or not, think of us who are deprived of even a chance to pray together, and get up and take your entire family and just go and enjoy these blessed days of Ramadan when you have all that convenience and comfort.
You never know when all these luxuries will end, and you may never witness another Ramadan. It is a blessing by itself to witness Ramadan. Please keep me and all my brothers in your duaa and I will keep you in my duaa.

Your brother Mufid Abdulqader
Palestinian Political Prisoner #32590-177

Mufid Abdulqader #32590-177
FCI Terre Haute
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808
USA
 
 

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The Sight

 

Last night I saw a sight.
The moon: it was so bright.
It entered my window
And filled my cell with a glow.

The sight was so brilliant.
Silent but resilient.
A glorious sign
Of meaning divine.

This sight that I saw
Brought my head to the floor
I prayed to the Lord
My heart outpoured

O Lord! Giver of this sight
Fill my heart with Your Light
Give peace to my soul
And bring me out of this hole.

 

Babar Ahmad, #A9385AG, Long Lartin
(*The poem was written at 4.30am on a night in Ramadan, August 2011, whilst the sky was moonlit) 

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Habsiyya, Poems by Babar Ahmad

 

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Mohammed Saleh: September 19, 2011

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Dear Muslim

Assalamu Aliakum waRahmatu Allah

I hope you are doing well and Eid Mubarak akhi for you and your family and thank you for the card you send me, May Allah sw reward you. Ameen. I wrote you but the letter returned I don’t know why, I’m sending you the old letter with this letter and my Eid greetings to all the brothers, May Allah sw give this ummah of believers the blessing and to be successful very soon – Ameen

Wa Salamu Aliakum

Your brother
Mohammed

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Letters from Mohammed Saleh, Risala

 

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Fulan fi Sijan al-Rumi: August 20, 2011

Brother Abdelbari:

A’sslamu Alykum’

We ask Allah SWT that this reaches you and all the brothers in the best of Eman.

Brother I would like to thank you for remembering us in this Ramadan with your cards. It means very much to us. You asked many questions relating to our status here and I will respond to some of them and will respond to the rest in the future Enshallah.

Don’t be discouraged if some brothers do not respond there are many reasons for that so please excuse us and don’t let it deter you from contacting us, as it means very much to us that we hear from our brothers and sisters outside.

I did see similar cards like the unique one you sent me in the hands of many other brothers during mail call the same day I received mine so that indicates that many brothers received your cards even though I did not ask them.

Brother our situation here is great during this Ramadan. We are blessed by Allah SWT the one whose Grants are uncountable. As to the brothers you specifically mentioned and our day to day life I’ll mention some of that.
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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Letters from Fulan, Risala

 

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