India’s largest Ramadan gathering held in Kerala

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Updated 28 July 2014
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India’s largest Ramadan gathering held in Kerala

MALAPPURAM (Kerala): Hundreds of thousands of believers gathered at the Swalath Nagar in the Muslim-dominated Malappuram district in the southern Indian state of Kerala overnight Thursday in what is claimed as the the world’s third largest Ramadan congregation.

Organizers say some half a million people attended the annual prayer meet in the past two years and they expect similar or increased numbers this year.

Besides believers from different parts of India, mainly from the northern Malabar region of the state, a few people have come from abroad, including the UK, Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, most of them people of Indian origin.

Jeddah-based Al-Abeer medical group, which runs hospitals and clinics in India and the Gulf countries, have made elaborate arrangements for medical emergency, including a 24X7 mobile clinic and ambulances equipped with specialist doctors.

The prayers were held at 15 venues, including nine playgrounds, in a length of 10 kilometers along the national highway where big screens were erected to display the proceedings at the main venue for others to follow.

“We distributed 100,000 food packets for breaking the fast today and double that number for Suhoor, the pre-fast meal,” said Ummer Melmuri, a spokesman for the Ma’din Academy, which conducts the annual prayer gathering for the past 27 years here.

Since 1986, they pray for the world peace and take a pledge against terrorism. This year too, Ma’din chairman Syed Ibrahim Khaleel ul-Bukhari led the concluding prayers and administered the pledge.

The killings in Gaza also figured in the prayers this time. They urged India to take a tough stand against the bloodshed in the Middle East and not to deviate from its principled foreign policy. It also hailed the country’s stand in favour of United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution to launch a probe into Israeli attack on civilians.

“It is our responsibility to pray for peace and tolerance in the world, especially in Palestine, Iraq and Syria where men, women and children are brutally killed,” Bukhari said.
They sought divine forgiveness for their sins on the eve of the 27th day of Ramadan in anticipation of the Laylat al-Qadr or the “night of power” described by the Holy Qur’an as “better than thousand nights” when the prayers are answered in many folds. “Thousands raise their hands in unison seeking spiritual salvation as the prayers progress. This will conclude at around 3 am before the pre-fast meals and the mandatory morning prayers that mark the beginning of another day of fasting,” said Melmuri.

The program began with an Itikaf session of daylong retreat in Ma’din grand mosque. Recitation of Qur’an and hadith, Prophet Muhammad's sayings followed. Iftar sessions were held on different grounds while the mega prayer conference began soon after Taraweeh preceded by the mandatory Isha prayers.

“God has given man the power and insight to choose his course. God has also given man the attribute of knowledge in an abstract form. This is the divine trust that man has assumed. We have to fortify it and work for humanity. Ramadan is the best time to strengthen the inner beauty of togetherness,” Bukhari said in his opening remarks.
“We reaffirm that usurping the rights of fellow-beings is a grave offence to humanity. We honor the dignity of others. Even when we take pride in being a Muslim, we respect and honor all other faiths and their followers. We will keep a continuous vigil against forces that work to destroy the oneness of humanity”.

All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama general secretary Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliar inaugurated the meet while Samastha Kerala Jamiyyathul Ulama treasurer Sayed Ali Bafaqi Thangal presided over.

The prayers went into late night as people continued to flow into the Ma’din grounds. Traffic along the national highway was diverted. A few of the 15 covered grounds were exclusively kept apart for women.
Extensive parking arrangements were in place. Fire and rescue units helped the smooth functioning while the district administration and the police extended their support. A 5555-member volunteer group controlled the crowd.
“This is the third largest congregation of the faithful after Makkah and Madinah where the believers free themselves from all worries and beseech the almighty for spiritual deliverance with raised hands,” Bukhari said earlier.
Those who fail to make their physical presence were able to take part in the prayers, watching live telecast on television or following the live internet stream and joining them to chant each word of the prayers together with hundreds of thousands gathered here.
Ma’din Academy runs 30 educational institutions and charity with 17,800 students on its roll from primary schools to postgraduate colleges. It also conducts various programs with the theme of interfaith harmony and tolerance.

The group is one of the main organizers of the International Interfaith Harmony Seminar held every year in connection with the World Interfaith Harmony Week of the United Nations at the International Islamic University of Malaysia every year.

It is also part of G20 Interfaith Summit organized by the Center for Interfaith Culture and Dialogue of Australia’s Griffith University coinciding with the G20 Summit in Brisbane later this year.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.