Thursday, May 11, 2017

Night Vigil on Blessed Nights: Some Suggestions

By Moulana Muhammad bin Haroon (Source: Al-Miftah)

Our Beloved Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) has mentioned:
“Indeed your Rabb (Lord) has reserved certain special moments in time (in which His mercy is especially abundant). Be sure to avail yourselves for these opportunities.” (Majma’uz Zawaid)
We are usually aware of the significant occasions that present themselves each year. The crucial thing is how do we “avail ourselves” and maximise our benefit from these blessed nights?
Here under is a suggested format for “What to do on Blessed nights?”
  1. Offer ‘Isha and Fajr Salah in congregation.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) said:
“One who performs ‘Isha in congregation gets the reward of spending half the night in worship. And he who follows that up with the Fajr salah in congregation, will be as if he has stayed up all night in ‘ibadah.”
(Sahih Muslim and Sunan Abi Dawud)
  1. Sleep in the state of wudu
Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy on him) has mentioned a reliable narration that states: “The soul of one who sleeps with wudu makes sajdah (prostrates) at the ‘Arsh of Allah.” (Fathul Bari)
Imagine our souls making sajdah at the throne of our Creator on a night like Laylatul Qadr!
  1. Abstain from sin
It’s not logical to fill the bucket when it has a hole…
One should specifically free the heart of any ill-feelings or malice towards fellow Muslims. (See here for “how to clean the heart” of such ailments)
  1. Clear your heart from ill-feelings towards fellow Muslims.
The ‘Ulama state that those who harbour ill-feelings are deprived of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness on occasions like these.
A Hadith in Sahih Ibn Hibban, mentions of four people that will be deprived on auspicious nights:
a) An Alcoholic.
b) One who disobeys his parents.
c) One who severe family ties
d) One who harbours ill-feelings in his heart for others.
  1. Salatut Tasbih
This is very strongly recommended due to its huge reward. See here for a detailed article on it’s authenticity, and here for the format of Salatut Tasbih.
  1. Tawbah
Since the purpose of the turning to Allah on these nights is precisely to attain forgiveness from Allah, this act is a fundamental on such occasions.
The procedure for Tawbah is:
a. Perform two rak’ats of Salah. (Optional)
b. Stop the sin that one is repenting from.
c. Regret the sin from the bottom of your heart.
d. Make a determined pledge with Allah never to repeat that sin. Besides the two rakats of Salah, the remainder are all fundamental.
Furthermore, if the sin involved usurping the right of the next person, one needs to ask him/her for forgiveness too. Without this we are not guaranteed forgiveness.
If that person has passed away, we could make du’a for him and repay the debt (if any) to his heirs.
  1. Dhikr
There are many forms of Dhikrullah – remembrance of Allah. I would suggest the following:
A hundred times “La ilah illallah”
A hundred times repeating the name of “Allah”
And a hundred times:
“Subhanallahi wabihamdihi subhanallahil ‘Azim”
The reason for the third one is the following:
The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) said:
1. “He who recites this one hundred times will have all his sins forgiven even if it be equal to the foam of the ocean” (Sahih Bukhari)
2. “These words are beloved to Allah Ta’ala, easy on the tongue and weighty on the scales (of deeds on Qiyamah)” (Sahih Bukhari)
Furthermore, this is the form of Dhikr that the entire creation is engaged in. (Al-Quran, Surah:17 ayah:44)
  1. Salawat on The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him)
If it was not for our beloved Prophet (Allah’s peace be upon him) we would not have these Blessed occasions. Therefore we cannot afford moments like these to pass without remembering him. In Fact by doing so we ourselves benefit.
One Hadith states:
“He who sends salutations upon me once, Allah Ta’ala sends ten salutations upon him.”
  1. Tilawat (Recital) of Quran
This is considered the best form of Dhikr. One could recite even a quarter juz or just the masnun Surahs that are to be recited every night. Like Surahs Waqi’ah, Mulk, Sajdah, Yasin etc.
  1. Du’a
“Du’a is the essence of Worship” and hence cannot be omitted when we engage in worship.
More so on occasions when Almighty Allah accepts du’as such as on the night of Qadr. One should spend a lengthy duration in begging from Allah, as we are all in need of it.
In light of the current world crisis, do remember our oppressed brethren around the globe.
On the night of Qadr the following du’a should also be repeated as taught by The Messenger of Allah (Allah’s peace be upon him) to his beloved wife Sayyidah ‘Aishah (Allah be pleased with her):
اللهم إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ العَفْوُ فَاعْفُ عَنِّيْ
“Allahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibbul ‘afwa fa’fu ‘Anni”
O Allah! You are indeed Most Forgiving, so forgive me.
Note 1: The above can all be achieved in about 1 hour.
Salatut Tasbih: 20 mins
Tawbah: can be incorporated in the du’a
Zikr: 10 mins
Salawat: 5 mins
Tilawat: 15 mins
Du’a and Tawbah: 10 mins
However if one is short on time for whatever reason, my suggestion would be to at least do the first four and the last one. That would be:
a) ‘Isha and Fajr with Jamat
b) Sleep with wudu
c) Abstain from sin
d) Clean the heart
e) Du’a
Note 2: The night commences at Maghrib, not after ‘Isha or after Tarawih or at Sehri time. Therefore one can and should commence ‘ibadah from Maghrib, although it is indeed best to do so at the last part of the night.
Note 3: These are mere suggestions intended to make it easy for people. One may engage in whatever form of ‘ibadah one is comfortable with.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us all complete forgiveness and steadfastness on guidance. Amin.
Please do remember the writer in your supplication as well.

Download the e-book of the above, here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Magnesium Rich Food May Keep Health Problems in Check

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - A diet rich in magnesium – found in foods like leafy greens, fish, nuts and whole grains – may help lower the risk of chronic health problems like heart disease and diabetes, a research review suggests. 
Some previous studies linked insufficient magnesium levels to a greater risk of developing a wide range of health problems including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease, said lead study author Dr. Xuexian Fang, a nutrition researcher at Zhengzhou University in China. 
For the current study, Fang and colleagues analyzed data on dietary magnesium and chronic disease from 40 studies published from 1999 to 2016 on more than one million people across nine countries. 
Compared with people who had the lowest levels of magnesium in their diets, people who got the most magnesium were 10 percent less likely to develop heart disease, 12 percent less likely to have a stroke and 26 percent less likely to develop diabetes. 
“Magnesium plays an important role in maintaining human health,” Fang said by email. 
Combined, the studies in the analysis included 7,678 cases of cardiovascular disease, 6,845 cases of coronary heart disease, 701 cases of heart failure, 4,755 cases of stroke, 26,299 cases of type 2 diabetes and 10,983 deaths. 
When researchers looked at the effect of increasing dietary magnesium by 100 milligrams a day, they didn’t find a statically meaningful impact on the total risk of cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease. 
But they did find that increasing dietary magnesium by this amount was tied to a 22 percent reduction in the risk of heart failure, and a 7 percent decrease in the risk of stroke, researchers report in the journal BMC Medicine. 
Increasing magnesium intake was also associated with a 19 percent reduction in the risk of diabetes and a 10 percent drop in the odds of death from all causes during the study period. 
The analysis is based on observational studies and can’t prove magnesium directly prevents disease, the authors note. 
Studies in the analysis also relied on participants to accurately recall and report what foods they consumed and may not have accurately reflected the true amount of dietary magnesium, the researchers point out. 
It’s also impossible to rule out the potential for lifestyle factors that impact people’s eating habits to also influence how much magnesium they get in their diets and how prone they are to develop chronic diseases. 
Still, the study findings suggest that increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods may have health benefits, the authors conclude. 
While the exact way magnesium improves health isn’t clear, it’s possible it may help curb inflammation, which in turn may lower the odds of developing a variety of chronic diseases, Fang said. 
There are many ways people may increase their magnesium intake, noted Dr. Andrea Romani, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the study. 
Magnesium is present in high levels in all green, leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and salt-water fish, Romani said by email. It’s less clear how much magnesium is in meat and poultry because this depends on what the animals eat. 
“Magnesium retention in these foods depends on how the food is processed,” Romani said. “The longer it is boiled or cooked, the less magnesium is retained.”
SOURCE: BMC Medicine, online December 8, 2016.