Preparations for the big day

Preparations for the big day
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Preparations for the big day
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Updated 26 August 2016

Preparations for the big day

Preparations for the big day

IN this life people are usually aware of two kinds of journeys; those made to earn a livelihood and those undertaken for pleasure and sightseeing. The Haj however is unique from these journeys, since it is made solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah, the Exalted. For over 1,400 years, Muslim from around the world, men and women had been traveling to the Holy city of Makkah.
Haj is a trip of lifetime; it is only required once from a Muslim and it is only the first one that counts as the fulfillment of the obligation.
All other performances of Haj are voluntary and cannot replace the compulsory Haj. Therefore, it is imperative that it is performed sincerely and correctly for the first time.
Though Haj can be quite a journey, a little preparation and planning will, Insha’Allah make your journey much easier. This planning should not be limited to the logistics, but should also include spiritual, financial, physical and mental preparations. Following are a few points to help you prepare for your Haj:
1. Purify your creed (Aqeedah) from all aspects of Shirk, major or minor. No deed is acceptable to Allah however noble it is, without such purification: “If you associate (with Allah), your deeds will be ruined and verily you will be among the losers.” (Qur’an, 39: 65)
2. Devote your Haj purely and sincerely for Allah. This is a spiritual preparation; the acceptance and reward of your Haj largely depends on your intention and piety.
3. Acquire thorough knowledge about the rites of Haj and Umrah from start to finish, because knowledge differentiates right from wrong. Haj education can be sought through various means, reading books which explain in detail the subject, computer programs which precisely demonstrate the rituals of Haj using the multimedia format, attending regular Haj classes offered by Islamic centers, etc.
4. Use Halal means to support your journey. “Allah is pure and He does not accept but pure only.” (Saheeh Muslim) Take everything what you will require (do not depend on others or ask them to fulfill your needs). Make sure you have enough money to suffice yourself during the journey and secure the needs of your family members whom you may leave behind.
Nowadays, people try their best to take along all things of comfort for Haj. They take all kinds of precautions but the best precaution is piety, fear of Allah and righteousness. Allah says: “Take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety). So fear Me, O men of understanding!” (Qur’an, 2:197)
5. At the end of this verse, Allah orders us to be righteous and fear Him, this is for two major reasons, one because the Haji need piety before going to Haj. He should remind himself to fear Allah because he will face many difficulties and hardships, which he should accept and endure, in order to please His Lord. The second reason is that Haj itself is a means to achieve Taqwa, the Haji increases in faith by obeying Allah and his Messenger (peace be upon him) all throughout his Haj.
6. The intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate of Makkah can take serious toll on your body. Therefore, be sure to carry along vaccines and drugs. Avoid all unnecessary hardships and take adequate precautions to avoid problems.
7. The journey of Haj involves a great deal of physical activities and thus you must be fully prepared to face this physical challenge. The experts recommend that people who intend to perform Haj must initiate a walking routine one or two months prior to the journey. This will increase physical stamina and help the Haji to keep up with the long walks and long standings. Indeed, Haj involves a lot of labor and struggle but the reward for this great act is also great in amount.
8. Also from the preparations of Haj is the mental preparations. Know that the Haji (pilgrim) is bound to experience intense heat, pushing, standing in long lines, uncomfortable lodging, etc. due to the large crowd of people trying to accommodate in a particularly small area.
9. Relieve yourself from any injustice, which you may have inflicted upon others. Fulfill any obligation, which you owe to other before the journey. Prepare a Waseeyah (will) before you depart and make peace with those with whom you have a dispute, pay your debts, and advise your family not to be extravagant, Allah says: “… and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance…” (Qur’an, 7:31)
10. Accompany the knowledgeable and righteous Muslims and stay away from the innovators. Keep away from all prohibited acts, men should not shave their beard for the Haj and it is prohibited for them to wear gold.
11. Safeguard your tongue from all vain talk, backbiting, arguing and complaining. This is against the morals of Islam in general and especially against the rules of Haj. Such talks and actions will make one’s Haj incomplete and reduce the reward. Haj is a long journey and one is likely to behave immorally, therefore guard and control yourself from any misconduct: “So during Haj there should not be obscenity, nor wickedness, nor wrangling.” (Qur’an, 2:197) Remember, Shaytan is at his best to cause mischief!

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an
Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.