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Ramadan-Rising Above Rituals
Ramadan is definitely not the month of just mechanical fasting. But a month of spiritual upliftment through self-evaluation.
Achievement is accomplished by change. ‘How’ and ‘what’ we change are as important to consider as ‘when’ we change. Ramadan gives us a huge opportunity to improve ourselves and gain rewards for our actions.
In Mumbai, a slew of Muslims apply creative techniques to utilise the month of Ramadan to bring in changes in their life and experience the spiritual elevation. The efforts start well before Ramadan. For many, the welcoming of Ramadan begins with the sighting of the moon. After every prayer, many Muslims pray to the Almighty to keep them safe and healthy in Ramadan so that they can grab all the blessings of the holy month.
Ramadan blessings for many are incomplete till they do self-assessment and undo any wrong which had hurt the emotions and feelings of their near and dear ones.
From family reunion to pardoning, the pious acts are performed as a precursor to the holy month.
Aziz Baig, 32, Chartered Accountant, makes arrangement for weekly family re-unions once a week two weeks prior to Ramadan. His brothers and sisters gather at his residence along with the parents and spend the entire day together. “This continues till a week after Ramadan. It helps us to come closer and the Ramadan blessing makes it possible to fill our hearts with love and affection for each other”, said Aziz.
Shabbir Patel, 55, owner of a super market broke the interaction with his elder son Usman, in February, as he had forced him to divide the family business. “I was unable to bear the split in the family business. But just three weeks before Ramadan, I called him and pardoned him. This gave me peace and contentment as never before”, said Shabbir.
There are many who wait anxiously for Ramadan. Many accumulate ‘leave’ throughout the year so that they can devote the entire month to earn the pleasure of Allah. Rauf Ahmed, 39, a sales manager with a multi-national company, did not want to miss any Namaz by Jamaat (congregation). “Since I tour frequently, I missed Salat with congregation. Hence I accumulate the leave and take off the entire Ramadan month for Ibaadat,” he said.
Ramadan period is a busy season for the Umrah tour operators. Many Muslims save money the entire year so that they can spend couple of weeks in Makkah especially the last 10 days . Umair Siddique, a trader, saves money the entire year to spend the last 10 days in Makkah. “This Ramadan will be my seventh Umrah. Once I spend Ramadan in Makkah, I just cannot resist going there”, he said.
A vast Muslim population works in the corporate world. Pre-Ramadan days for them is devoted to planning the Ramadan schedule so that they are not on tour and reach home on time so that they have enough time to offer Taraweeh prayers.
Hussain Sheikh, Art director with an advertising agency, never comes home before 10 pm every day. One month planning before Ramadan makes it possible for him to come early enough to offer Taraweeh prayers. “In the Advertising field, you are supposed to work late hours to meet the deadlines. But careful planning a month before Ramadan helps me in finishing work early enough to catch up with Taraweeh prayers”, said Hussain.
Ramadan is definitely not the month of just mechanical fasting. But a month of spiritual upliftment through self-evaluation. Those who make use of this great offer from the Creator are clever and those who miss the opportunity may have to wait eleven months to get the opportunity again to please Allah and get the blessings of the holy month.
According to Shaykh Aa’id Abdullah Al-Qarnee, one of the righteous predecessors noted: life is short, do not shorten it with negligence. This is, certainly, true. Negligence shortens the hours and consumes the night. Hence the Prophet (Pbuh) said: ‘Two favours that many people are deceived by: health and spare time.’ The lesson being that many people are healthy and have a lot of time on their hands yet their lives pass by quickly before them without their using them or benefitting anyone.
In effect, both the night and day are like riding animals that transport man to either eternal happiness or loss. Our righteous predecessors used to take every initiative to preserve their time. There are strange stories about them concerning this matter. There were among them those who used to read the Quran and they were on the threshold of death. Such an example was Junaid ibn Muhammad. His sons said to him, ‘You are exhausting yourself.’ He replied, ‘And should there be among the people one who exerts himself more than me?’
Al Aswad ibn Yazid used to stand in prayer for most of the night. Some of his friends advised him to relax at least for a small portion of the night. He told them it is this very relaxation he is in search of; meaning in the Hereafter.
Sufiyan al Thowri once sat in the Sacred Mosque speaking to some people. Then suddenly he arose terrified and said; we are sitting here and the day is doing its work. There were among our forbearers those who used to divide their days and nights into hours. Hence they allocated specific hours for prayers, recitation, remembrance, meditation, acquisition of knowledge, work and sleep. They ascribed no time for merriment.
As for their successors, they have been afflicted by the calamity of time-wasting. Except, of course, those to whom Allah has shown mercy. They indulge in excessive sleep, idleness, aimless wandering, spending on amusements and sittings in which there is no benefit.
The month of Ramadan is a school in which the Muslim’s time is organised and invested in matters that lead to closeness to Allah. Notwithstanding, some people do not know the meaning of fasting. They engage in ample negligence and deep slumber. They spend their days sleeping and their nights in wasted wakefulness.
In the early days, Ramadan was marked by quiet spirituality. But these days, commercialisation of the holy Islamic months has become the in-thing. Even Ramadan is not spared and sadly Muslims themselves have a hand in it. Come the 15th of Shaban, you have the beep beep on the mobile- one sample of SMS forwarded from Muslims to Muslims reads: gul ko gulshan mubarak, chand ko chandni mubarak, aapko shabe-baraat mubarak!
While the start of Ramadan calls for a reflective mood, the sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of Ramadan gives food for thought for many who author poetry around the moon, which then invades your email inbox.
Iftar parties hosted by the Rich and Famous (include the netas here) is focused more on the buffet queue. The spirit of breaking the fast is lost amidst this ‘rush’ to fill your plate.
Television programming looks on Ramadan as a gold rush. Newspapers splash photographs of eateries on the streets with the caption-“Samosa Showers at Iftar Time”, giving the entire world the impression that Ramadan is all about feasting on food.
Just after Shab-e-Qadr, there is a sudden shoppers’ frenzy, who spend frightening amounts of money on clothes and other accessories that they don’t need. We know Islam says it is acceptable to eat and drink - but it is unacceptable to be wasteful.
As Mohammad Asad says in his brilliant book-“ The Road to Mecca”-“ Never before I reflected have the worlds of Islam and the West come so close to one another as today. This closeness is a struggle, visible and invisible. Under the impact of Western cultural influences, the souls of many Muslim men and women are slowly shrivelling. They are letting themselves to be led away from their erstwhile belief that an improvement of living standards should be, but a means to improving man’s spiritual perceptions. They are falling into the same idolatory of “progress” into which the Western world fell after it reduced religion to a mere melodious tinkling somewhere in the background.”
Yes, the commercialisation is there, but not everyone is sucked into it. You have the choice!
Fiqh of Ramadan
During Ramadan the believers get busy seeking Allah’s mercy, forgiveness and protection from Hellfire.
Rewards of Fasting
• Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “He who fasts solely for the sake of Allah, has all his previous sins forgiven.
• The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.
• It is narrated in the Hadith that on the Day of Judgement even before Reckoning has taken place, the fasting people will be sumptuously fed under the shade of Allah’s Arsh (Throne) while others will be still embroiled in the hardships of Reckoning.
• The Prophet (Pbuh) said, the sleep of a fasting person is Ibadat and his silence is Tasbeeh (recitation of Subhan Allah).
• Fasting is a shield as long as the fasting person does not rupture it with lies and back-biting.
• Saum and the Quran will intercede on behalf of the servant of Allah. Saum will say ‘My Rabb! I forbade him from sleep at night and desires during the day, therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf.’ The Quran will say: ‘I forbade him from sleep at night, therefore accept my intercession on his behalf.’ Thus, their intercession will be accepted.
Who should Fast?
Fasting during Ramadan is compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, who meets the following requirements:
• Is mentally and physically fit i.e., sane and able.
• Has attained the age of puberty and discretion, which is normally about 14 years.
• Is present at their permanent settlement, hometown, farm or business premises etc.
• Is fairly certain that the fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.
What is Sahri or Suhoor?
• Sahri is the act of arising from sleep during the course of the night to partake of some food or drink in anticipation of the next day’s fasting.
• Sahri is Sunnat regardless of whether one feels like eating anything or not. One should rise and eat even a date or two or merely take a gulp of water.
• It is of greater merit to delay Sahri. But it should not be delayed so much that Subah Sadiq has almost set in, causing doubt in the validity of the fast.
• It is not permissible to forgo a fast because of failure to wake up during the night for Sahri.
• If Sahri was missed if one has overslept, one should not forgo fasting. It is not permissible to refrain from Saum because of having missed Sahri.
What is Iftar?
• It is Mustahab to hasten with Iftar (breaking the fast) as soon as the sun has set.
• Iftar should be made before the Maghrib Salat.
• The Muezzin should make Iftar before proclaiming the Azaan.
• At the time of Iftar, it is Sunnat to recite the following dua:
“O Allah! I have fasted for you. I believe in you.
I have trust in you and I make Iftar with the rizaq (food) provided by you.”
• Iftar should preferably be made with dates. In the absence of dates, water is best.
• It is Makrooh to make Iftar when in doubt regarding sunset.
• If it is overcast, Iftar should be delayed until there is absolute certainty that the sun has set.
• If Iftar is made even a minute before sunset, Qadha of the fast is incumbent. It is Makrooh to unnecessarily delay Iftar.
• The time of Iftar is very auspicious. Dua is readily accepted at the time when the fast is about to end.
What Makes the Fast Valid?
• Niyyat : It is preferable to make the Niyyat (Intention) of Saum during night, i.e. prior to the entry of Subah Sadiq. When the fast starts, if the Niyyat was not made during the night, the Saum will be valid if the Niyyat is made approximately one hour before zawaal. One hour before zawaal is an approximate time taken as a precautionary measure. The exact time limit for the validity of the Niyyat for Saum is before the time of Nisfun-Nahar, i.e. mid-day in terms of the Shariah.
Nisfun-Nahar is determined by dividing by two the time duration from Subah Sadiq to sunset, and adding the result to Subah Sadiq time.
Example: Subah Sadiq : 5.30 a.m Sunset : 5.35 p.m
Time duration from Subah Sadiq to Sunset.
12 hrs. 5 mins divided by 2 = 6 hrs. 2 mins.
Add this result to Subah Sadiq : 5.30+6.02 = 11.32 a.m.= Nisfun-Nahar.
If Niyyat is made for the saum before 11.32 a.m. (in this example), the wajib Saum will be valid.
• It is not essential that any particular Niyyat formula be recited. Niyyat merely means to intend that one will be fasting, or is fasting. The Niyyat could also be made verbally in any language, e.g. One may say: O Allah! Tomorrow I shall be fasting for You. Or one may recite it in Arabic e.g. “I make Niyyat of Tomorrow’s fast”.
During the month of Ramadan, only Niyyat of the existing Ramadan’s Saum will be valid. Even if a Niyyat for any other Saum is made during Ramadan, then too only the Saum of the existing Ramadan will be discharged and not the Saum for which the Niyyat was made.
Things Which Do Not Break the Fast
• The using of Miswak
• To take bath during the day or to pour water, over the head due to the summer heat.
• To smell perfume.
• To apply Surma (Kohl) in the eyes, or oil to the hair.
• To eat or drink in forgetfulness.
• To inhale a fly or smoke or dust without one’s will or intention.
• To pour water into the ear unintentionally.
• To swallow saliva or phlegm.
• To gargle or take water in the nose, while performing ablution (Wudu), but care should be taken that no part of water enters the throat.
• Blood tests during illness.
Things Which Break the Fast
• Sexual intercourse even if there is no emergence of semen.
• Inhaling smoke by one’s own action, e.g. inhaling the smoke of incense, etc.
• Swallowing any substance or object which is not normally consumed as food or medicine, e.g. pebbles, paper, a coin, etc.
• Saliva mingled with blood will break the fast if the taste of blood is discernible when swallowing it.
• Eating deliberately. (Eating by mistake does not break the fast).
• Deliberately inducing oneself to vomit will break the fast if the vomit is mouthful. If the emergence of the vomit cannot be restrained, the vomit will be said to be a mouthful.
• A food particle, the size of a chana (about the size of half a pea) stuck in the teeth slips down the throat.
• Masturbation. In addition to it nullifying the Saum, it is an immoral and a sinful act.
• Ejaculation as a result of caressing and fondling the wife even if there was no sexual intercourse.
Kaffarah, Qadha Saum and Fidyah.
• A fast of Ramadan broken deliberately without valid reason, after having made the Niyyat for fasting during the night, brings about the penalty of Kaffarah.
• A traveller is permitted to refrain from Saum, although it is meritorious for him/her to fast, if the journey is not a difficult one. The traveller shall make Qadha of all Saum omitted during the journey.
• If a woman starts menstruating during the course of the fasting day, the fast is not valid. It is not incumbent to abstain from eating during the remaining part of the day. Preferably, it is better to avoid eating in the presence of those who are fasting. She can compensate for her missed fasts later after Ramadan.
• When a pregnant woman has a genuine fear for either her own life or the life of the child she is bearing, it will be permissible for her to refrain from Saum. She will have to make Qadha of the Saum she misses as a result.
• A very old person who is truly unable to fast, is permitted to refrain from Saum. He has to offer compensation by means of paying the Fidyah.
Qadha means to fulfill or to compensate for fasts which are not executed when they were due.
• It is necessary to make Qadha of Saum as soon as possible since one does not know when death will overtake one. While it is not Wajib to make the Qadha immediately after Ramadan or on any other specific day, Qadha should not be unnecessarily delayed.
• For the validity of Qadha Saum, it is essential to make Niyyat during the night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq.
• Saum omitted on account of Menses has to be made Qadha.
• It is not obligatory to keep the Qadha Saum all at once (consecutively). The Qadha Saum may be spread over a period or they may be kept consecutively.
• If by the time death approaches, the Qadha has not yet been discharged, it will then be obligatory to make a bequest for payment of Fidyah.
• Similarly, if due to old age or sickness one is unable to fast and the Qadha has not yet been executed, wasiyyat to pay Fidyah will be wajib(obligatory).
Kaffarah of Ramadan
• Kaffarah (compensation) is the penalty which is imposed by Shariah for the deliberate and flagrant nullification of the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah applies to only the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah comes into force only if the Niyyat for fasting was made at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. Thus, if Niyyat was made during the night to fast the following day, and then the fast is broken without valid reason, the Kaffarah penalty comes into effect.
• Kaffarah for flagrantly breaking a fast of Ramadan is to fast 60 consecutive days- sixty days, one after the other, without missing any day in between.
• The Kaffarah will be rendered invalid if for any reason- be it a valid reason, even a single day is omitted during the 60 day-Kaffarah course. Thus if a person fasted for 59 days and failed to fast on the 60th day due to illness, he will have to start the Kaffarah all over again. The only interruption which will not invalidate the Kaffarah is the monthly menses of women.
• A person who is unable to discharge the Kaffarah because of ill-health or very old age, will have to feed 60 poor persons. Each miskeen (poor) should be given two full meals for the day or the amount in cash which is given as Sadaqah Fitr. This amount is the price of approximately 2 kilograms bread flour. Instead of the cash, the flour may also be given.
• A single Ramadan, makes Wajib only one Kaffarah irrespective of the number of fasts flagrantly broken during that Ramadan
• If fasts were flagrantly nullified in more than one Ramadan, the number of Kaffarah will be equal to the number of Ramadan. So if fasts were flagrantly broken in three different Ramadans, three different Kaffarah will be obligatory.
Essence of Taraweeh
The Prophet (Pbuh) used to recite the Qur’an in slow, measured, rhythmic tones as Allah had instructed him, not rushing or hurrying, rather, his was “a recitation clearly distinguishing each letter.”
In Ramadan, the Qiyaam al-Layl, also known as Taraweeh is a Sunnah for both men and women. It is performed after the Isha prayer.
There is no specific limit to what a Muslim may offer of prayer as part of his voluntary night worship. In the early period of Islam, people in Makkah used to offer 20 rakahs of Taraweeh prayers. People in Madinah offered a larger number reaching as many as 36 rakahs a night. They felt that the people in Makkah could do the Tawaf in addition to their voluntary prayer. Since Tawaf is similar to prayers, they added 16 rakahs to offset the particular privilege the Makkan people enjoined.
On the other hand, we have a clear statement from Hazrath Aisha (RA), wife of the holy Prophet (Pbuh), that he never offered more than 11 or 13 rakahs of night worship on any night whether in Ramadan, or in the rest of the year. There is no maximum number to which you have to limit yourself. If you decide to follow the Prophet’s (Pbuh) example and stop at 11 rakahs including three for witr, you may wish to make your prayer longer by reciting longer passages from the Quran. On the other hand, if you are praying in a mosque and the congregation is offering 23 rakahs (including three for witr), you may follow them. The essence of Taraweeh is completing one Quran in the whole of the month of Ramadan. Majority of the scholars in mosques pray 20 rakahs and followed by three rakahs witr.
Praying Taraweeh in Congregation
It is allowed to pray Taraweeh in the month of Ramadan in a congregation just as it is allowed to pray them on an individual basis (as in the case of women who can pray at home if mosques do not make separate arrangements for them). The majority of scholars, however prefer to pray them in congregation.
Laylat-ul-Qadr- The Most Blessed Night
A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is zealous to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience. If this is facilitated for him, all of his previous sins will be forgiven.
The Night of Power
The Quranic statements which relate this great event radiate with Allah’s clear and shining light:
We revealed it (the Quran) on the Night of Power. Would that you knew what the Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power than a thousand months. On that night, the angels and the Spirit descend by their Lord’s permission, with all His decrees. That night is peace, till the break of dawn. (Surah Al-Qadr)
This surah speaks about the promised great night which the whole universe marked with joy and prayers. It is the night of perfect communion between this world and the Highest Society. It is the night which marked the beginning of the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), an event unparalleled in the history of mankind for its splendour and the significance it has for the life of mankind as a whole. Its greatness is far beyond human realisation. “ We revealed it on the Night of Power. Would that you knew what the Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power than a thousand months.”
“It is established that it is a night in the month of Ramadan as stated in surah 2 (The Cow): “ In the month of Ramadan, the Quran was revealed, a book of guidance distinguishing right from wrong.” This means that the Night of Power marked the beginning of the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet and his mankind.
Abu Tharr (RA) relates:
“We fasted with Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) in Ramadan. He did not lead us (in qiyaam) at all until there were seven nights of Ramadan left. Then he stood with us that night in prayer until one third of the night had passed. He did not pray with us on the sixth. On the fifth night, he prayed with us until half of the night had passed. So we said, ‘Allah’s Messenger! Wouldn’t you pray with us the whole night?’ He replied:
‘Whoever stands in prayer with the imam until he (the imaam) concludes the prayer, it is recorded for him that he prayed the whole night.’
Dua on the Night of Laylat-ul-Qadr
It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. Hazrath Aishah (RA) reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat- ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say:
“Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fafu annee - O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.”
Sunnah of Itikaf
Prophet (Pbuh) used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death.
Itikaf- spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the Masjid is a beautiful tradition of the Prophet (Pbuh). It is reported by Hazrath Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Pbuh) used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death. After him, his wives carried on this practice of observing Itikaf regularly. (Reported in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
It is recommended that every Muslim make at least one Itikaf in his/ her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every masjid every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do Itikaf in the masjid so that they can pray in the congregation and also offer the Friday prayers. Women can also do itikaf, but theirs must be at home for reasons of modesty and for their own convenience. There is a great blessing in Itikaf and people who do it, bring blessings upon themselves, upon their families and upon the Muslim Ummah at large.
The Sunnah of Itikaf is that one makes its intention and begins the Itikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadan from sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for Id-ul Fitr. During Itikaf, men should stay in the masjid day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. (Facilities are provided inside the mosque premises.) They are allowed to eat also inside the masjid. During Itikaf, one should spend most of one’s time in prayer, reading the Quran, zikr and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during Itikaf.
How the Prophet (Pbuh) Celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr
The first day of the month of Shawwal is Eid ul-Fitr- marking a day of celebration and thanks for Allah, our Creator and Cherisher.The month of Ramadan ends here.
Here is what the Prophet (Pbuh) used to do on the day of Eid .
* To rise early in the morning
* Take a bath.
* Clean the teeth.
* Wear the best clothes that he had.
* Wear perfume.
* To eat something sweet like dates before leaving home.
* Go to the Eid prayer location very early.
He used to walk upto the place of Eid prayer.
He used to recite on the way to the Eid prayer location the following words:
“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd.”
(Allah is the greatest, He is the greatest. There is no god except Allah. He is the greatest. All praises and thanks are for Him) The Prophet used to give Sadqa-e-Fitr (Zakatul Fitr) before the Eid day.
• Eid prayer consists of two units of prayer (Rakas) with six Takbeers (the raising of the hands while saying Allahu Akbar [God is the Greatest]) in congregation, followed by the Khutba (sermon) of Eid.
• Follow the Imam by raising both hands up to the ears, say Allahu Akbar, this is the first Takbeer to enter in the Salat.
• Then fold your hands in the front and recite the ‘Sanaa’, (subhaanakallahumma) till the end and then say Allahu Akbar thrice, following your imam, each time raising both hands up to the ears and dropping them. After each takbeer there is going to be a slight pause in which Subhanallah may be recited thrice.
• After the third Takbeer, the hands should be folded in front and listen to the imam reciting Aoozubillah, Bismillah, Surah Fateha and some other Surah and
• Then perform Ruku(bowing) as Imam says Allahu Akbar and
• Then go to Sajdah(prostration) as usual following your Imam’s Takbeer.
• In the second Raka, the Imam will first recite Surah Fateha and some other Surah. Then he will say three Takbeers after it. In all of these three Takbeers, hands will not be folded, but dropped after each Takbeer. And then go into the Ruku just after the fourth takbeer.
• Listening to the Khutbah after the Eid Salaat is Waajib (obligatory).
• There is neither Azan nor Iqamah for the Eid Prayers.
• Women and the men who cannot offer the Eid Prayers due to some reason, should not offer any voluntary prayer before the Eid prayer.
• The Ahle-Hadith scholars maintain the view that women and children have been enjoined to attend the Eid prayer, because the Eid, like the Friday Prayer, is a special feature of Islam, and the holy Prophet (Pbuh) himself has exhorted the women to go to the Eid ground.
• Hadrat Umm’atiyyah has narrated; “The holy Prophet (Pbuh) commanded us that we should take unmarried young girls and grown-up women, even those menstruating, along with us to the Eid ground. The menstruating women, however, are not to attend the prayer, but should sit aside and keep on pronouncing the Takbir, and join only in the supplications.
• The recitation in the Eid prayer is to be audible.
• The sermon should be delivered after the prayer, Hadrat Abu Sa’id says; “The holy Prophet (Pbuh) would first of all offer the Eid prayer, then he would stand up facing the people who kept on sitting in their rows and he would instruct them on religion. After this he would return home”. (Bukhari, Muslim)
Moonsighting As Per Shariah and Science
For the purpose of moonsighting for each of the 12 months, a group of Muslims in a small town or a few groups in different parts of big cities should give evidence.
The importance of moonsighting globally is because it is wajib (obligatory). In other words, it is the collective duty of Muslims to comply with it to solve many other problems in our religion. The Quran says clearly that in many cases, atleast two adult sane Muslims or one male and two sane women should give evidence. But for the purpose of moonsighting for each of the 12 months, a group of Muslims in a small town or a few groups in different parts of big cities should give evidence. This means that if just one or two people give evidence, it may not be acceptable. Hence moon or Hilal Committees are formed at all levels in district, state and national level and they all inter-communicate to confirm the news before going to the media including television announcements.
Even though moonsighting is obligatory, just a few countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Oman, Morocco and South Africa follow this. Most of the Muslim countries are affiliates to Saudi Arabia which takes it for granted that the new moon measuring ‘birth of the moon’ which is in fact a dark black moon, totally invisible from the earth, is the sign of the start of a new month. Most of the Arab countries follow Saudi Arabia and in India, Kerala too follows Saudi Arabia.
In reality, 100 per cent of the bright surface of the moon faces the sun and since this is called “a new moon’ in the English language and astronomically known as conjunction, Arabs have taken it for granted that this is the time to start a new month, instead of waiting for another about 20 hours plus or so to look for a natural crescent. All the major religions in the world-the Christians, Jews, Hindus and the Chinese too consider the new moon as the time to start a new month.
I think most of the Hanafi sect and others world over-about 70 per cent of the global Muslim population depend upon a Ruyath Hilal which has been advocated by the International Islamic Calendar Program (IICP) based in Penang, Malaysia headed by none other than Dr Mohd Ilyas (Secretary-General of IICP) who is not only well qualified in Islamic astronomy, but has had long experience in the science of Islamic astronomy and has conducted numerous world conferences. I have been a member of IICP for over 15 years now. The final decision in these conferences has been to continue with the Imkane Ruyath Hilal Calendar till an unanimous decision is taken and further scientific research is being carried out as per the Islamic code. I have been writing in these columns for 17 years about this.
According to the Ahadees Nabavi, you look for the Hilal in your place and do accordingly. But later our Imams have decreed fatwas saying that if Hilal is visible in few places, the whole country can accept and so also the countries in its west. To maintain uniformity even the Muslim countries in the East may follow this decision if the news of the positive Ruyath Hilal is very reliable and authentic.
The following scientific criteria are considered for purpose of moonsighting:
1.Age of the moon: The moon is said to be round when the centres of the earth, the moon and the sun are placed in one line (this is the usual time when a solar eclipse occurs). This phenomenon is called the new moon or Amavas or Muntaq or Qiran of the sun, moon and the earth. At this time, the moon is 100 per cent invisible because it is dark, black and it is in line with the sun. The age increases as it orbits from the west to the east. When the age is about 20 hours or more, a fine crescent may be seen on the eastern horizon in the evening. It is horrifying that the Arabs see a Hilal even when the moon has eclipsed the sun-a phantom crescent.
2.Moonset lag from the sunset: At the time of the above (1), the moonset may occur just before the sunset or both may set at the same time or moonset may occur a little later. We are interested in the last item—i.e.moonsetting after the sunset. That is why we say moonset lag. When this lag period is two or three minutes, the Egyptians consider this is as moonsighting even though the Hilal is invisible. Scientifically we can see a Hilal not before the lag time is about 50 minutes or more. Majority of the Muslim world follows this.
3. Altitude of the Moon: This has to be measured between the centres of the sun, the earth and the moon. As the moon is orbiting away from the ecliptic-i.e the plane of the sun and the earth, the angle at the centre of the earth keeps increasing. When this angle is about 11 to 12 degree, the chances of sighting the hilal are good. But this can be done only in the observatories.
4.The Western Horizon: This should be clear of clouds, dust, water vapour and the accuracy of the vision or eyesight of the observer should be good and within the normal limits.
5. Apogee and Perigee: The moon is said to be in Apogee when the rise of the moon is situated further away from the normal distance of about 2,39,000 miles. In this case the movement of the moon is situated as such that the sighting of the Hilal is delayed and the angle of the moon should be more than 25 hours, means that the earth-moon distance is less than the average distance and in this case the hilal will be seen at a age of 20 hrs and the moon set lag of 50 minutes.
6.Northern and Southern Latitudes: 95 per cent of the Muslim countries are situated in the Northern Hemisphere and only a part of Indonesia and Comoros (Southern Africa near Madagascar) are situated in the Southern hemisphere. If the moon is situated in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hilal may be visible even with the minimum age of the moon of 20 hours and a moonset lag of 50 minutes. If the moon is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, Hilal is seen in the North, much later about 9-10 hours. The moonsighting for the coming Ramadan and Eid: The moon is situated in the southern latitudes.
One more fact I would like to bring to the notice of the readers is that on the new moon night, a Hilal maybe seen on the Eastern horizon about an hour or so before the sunrise and a few people may mistake it for the regular western Hilal.
Moonsighting for Ramadan Mubarak: The Amavas or new moon for the month occurs at 3.58 pm on Monday, the 3rd October, 2005 along with an annular Solar eclipse. The eclipse occurs from 1.05 pm to 6.58 pm and seen all over India. The next day, Tuesday evening, the age of the moon would be about 27 hours, but the moonset lag would be only 38 minutes in Bangalore and 40 minutes in Trivandrum and much less in the central and northern cities of India, because the moon is situated, south of India near the equator and so also the moon is at its Apogee. As such, there is no possibility of the moonsighting on Tuesday, October 4, in the northern hemisphere countries. But Hilal would be seen further West in Southern Africa and South America on October 4, itself
On the evening of Wednesday, October 5, the moonset lag time would be-Bangalore 77 minutes, Delhi 62 minutes, Mumbai, 73 minutes and Kolkata, 67 minutes. In these circumstances, the Hilal would be visible cent per cent all over India and the world over. As such the month of Ramadan, starts in India from October 6. 2005-Thursday. This information is very reliable as it is taken with reference to the Positional Astronomy Centre, Kolkata, the IICP Malaysia and the Royal Greenwhich Observatory, London.
A lunar eclipse is going to occur on October 17, Monday evening from 5-04 pm to 6-03 pm and would be visible all over India.
Moonsighting for Eidul Fitr: The new moon or Amavas for the month of Shawwal occurs on November 2, 2005, Wednesday at 6.55 am and there are no chances of moonsighting this evening. The moon continues to be situated in the southern latitudes and so also is at Apogee. On Thursday, the November 3, evening, there would be a precarious situation on the evening of November 3, in India as there are cent% chances of moonsighting in South India and at the same time there are no chances of moonsighting in North India, while in Central India, there is uncertainity-i.e may be seen or not. Please note the moonset lag time on November 3, will be Trivandrum-63 minutes, Bangalore and Madras 59 minutes, Hyderabad 55 minutes, Mumbai 55 minutes, Kolkata 49 minutes, Agartala 48 minutes, Lucknow 46 minutes, Jaipur 47 minutes, Delhi, 45 minutes, Amritsar 42 minutes and Srinagar 39 minutes. In such cases, as per the fatwas of our Imams, Eid may be celebrated all over India on Friday, November 4th, 2005 itself. The decision of the Central Ruyath Hilal Committee, Delhi would be final. Whatever it is, the Eid will be celebrated in Bangalore and South India on November 4, Friday Inshallah.
Moonsighting for Eidul Azha –Bakrid: The new moon on Amavas for the month of Zulhijja occurs on Saturday, December 31st, 2005 at 8.42 am. There is no question of the moonsighting the same evening in India. But on the next day, Sunday, January 1st, 2006, the Ruyath Hilal occurs all over the world and the first of Zulhijja occurs in India on January 2, 2006, Monday. Accordingly the day of Eidul Azha occurs in India on Wednesday, the 11th January 2006.
Our new year, Muharram, 1427 starts from 31st January, 2006-Tuesday.
(Dr Syed Abdul Zahir, is Member, International Islamic Calendar Program, Malaysia, Member, Central Ruyath Hilal Committee, Bangalore and is an Islamic Astronomer.
Dr. S.A Zahir, MBBS, MS, 171, 6th Main, Jayanagar 4th Block, Bangalore-560011. Ph: 26647960)
When Does Ramadan of 1426 Begin?
Our dates depend on ahilla (the phases) or manazil (the stages) of the moon.
Can we find out in advance the day on which the first of Ramadan of 1426 will fall? Does Islamic shariah allow us to calculate the month to find out the dates in advance so that we can schedule our activities in a proper way? Let us examine this in the light of Quran and Hadith:
The Quran says: “it is He who made the sun a blazing light and the moon reflector of light, and appointed her manazil (stages) so that you may know the number of ages and the calculations (a calendar); he has made this only with truth, he explains the ayath to those who understand.” (10:5). So we are permitted to calculate and find out the dates in advance by which we could chalk out our programs and perform the activities according to a schedule.
Our daily hours depend upon the angles of the sun. We have invented watches and time tables to do things accordingly. Our dates depend on ahilla (the phases) or manazil (the stages) of the moon. It is a proven fact that we can calculate the dates of solar or lunar eclipses hundreds of years in advance and this is possible because the heavenly bodies move with precision according to the laws assigned by Allah. We can also know the dates by observing the phases of the moon and the position in the sky without any instruments. We can certainly verify our calculations by observation as the time comes. We will not go wrong.
How to calculate dates depending on the manazil of the moon
A lunar month is from a new moon to a new moon measuring 29.53 days astronomically. When we arrange it in months which are in units of dates, we get months of 29 or 30 days. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “we are an ummiyah, we do not write or calculate. Our months are like this and like that (meaning 29 or 30). So begin fasting according to its view and celebrate Eidul Fitr accordingly.”
In those days, they did not know the methods of calculating the exact time, and they were unable to find out the lunar dates in advance. They could only observe the manazil or ahilla of the moon and know the dates at hand. Forecasting was impossible. Thanks to astronomy and celestial mechanics, we are now able to find out the exact lunar date in advance.
A synodic lunar month is 29.53059 days and a year of 12 months with 354.3671 days.
Method of Calculation
We know the first day in the Hijra calendar on 01-01-0001 is a Thursday. So, we can find out the day of Ramadan, i.e., 01-09-1426, with the following simple calculation:
If 01-01-0001 = Thursday :: 01-09-1426 = ?
01-09-1426 subtracted by 01-01-0001 = 00-08-1425 which is the period that has elapsed since the first day of the Hijra to 01-09-1426. Therefore, the number of days elapsed is 1425 x 354.3671 + (8 x 29.53) = 505209.3575; to round up, the total number of days are 505209. So by dividing the number of days by 7 we get number of weeks and remaining days. Then by counting the remaining days from Thursday, we arrive at the day for the date 01-09-1426. 505209 divided by 7 = 72172 weeks and 5 days. So counting 5 days from Thursday shall be Tuesday.
01-09-1426 – 1425 x 354.3671 + (8 x 29.53)
01-01-0001 = 505209.3575 (round up to 505209 days) / 7 days
00-08-1425 = 72172 weeks and 5 days
The above simple calculation gives us the first day of Ramadan which can well be confirmed by observation of Ru’ya Hilal when the time comes.
Method of observation of the Hilals
In order to reassure the correct starting day of Ramadan, we also have to confirm the dates of Shaban. By the same calculation, we can find out the first day of Shaban:
01-08-1426 – 1425 x 354.3671 + (7 x 29.53)
01-01-0001 = 505179.82 (round up to 505179 days) / 7 days
00-07-1425 = 72168 weeks and 3 days
Therefore, counting 3 days from Thursday it shall be Sunday, confirming the first day of Shaban is Sunday (01-08-1426).
Now the observation is carried out to reconfirm the above. If Shaban begins on Sunday, we can concur this by observing the moon phase on the 7th day of Shaban. When the first day is Sunday, next Sunday will be 8th, and Saturday will be 7th. On the 7th day that is Saturday evening at sunset, the moon will be seen less than half in the shape of a crescent. Turn towards North or South according to the declination of the moon and see whether it is on your West side or East side. If it is slanting to the West, the date is 7th, if it is slanting to the East it shall be 8th.
By noting the growth rate of the crescent, you will also be able to say whether the month will end in 29 or 30 days. If the growth rate is less, the month will have 30 days.
Next stage of observation for a layman is the full moon. This will be on the next Sunday. If your date is correct the moon will rise almost with the sunset on Sunday evening. Next day morning, that is Monday the moon will not set at sun rise. This will confirm that it is the 16th day of the month of Shaban.
The next chance can be in the last quarter. Watch it on Sunday (22nd) morning before sunrise. You will see the moon overhead slanting towards West in the shape of gibbous (less than full moon). Now look for the moon next day and watch for the day when it gets the shape of Hilal. When the moon phase attains less than half like a big crescent that will be the day on which first of the next month will fall. Monday morning will prove that the moon is a little more than half, the horns have not yet developed, and it is slanting towards West. Again observe the phase on Tuesday morning – the ru’ya of the moon phase will be like a big crescent with well developed horns slanting to your East. We can now confirm that the first day of Ramadan will be on Tuesday.
One more chance to reconfirm this will be at the last stage by observing ‘urjoonul qadeem’ mentioned in Quran 36:39. This observation should begin one day before the 29th of Shaban, Saturday morning. Now observe the waning crescent on the Saturday morning, you will see a well shaped beautiful crescent just before sun rise which shall be visible from anywhere in the world. Look for it again on Sunday morning, you will see a very narrow crescent just before sunrise, which can not be seen after the sun rise. It will be so close to the horizon that you can be sure that it cannot be seen on Monday morning. So this confirms that the last visible phase of the moon (the urjoonl qadeem) is on 29th. There is one day when the moon is not seen anywhere in the world which denotes the last day of the month, in this case on Monday. This way you can decide by yourself when the actual day of Ramadan is to be!
(The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ali Manikfan, Advisor, Hijra Committee of India. Kizhananevi P.O, Vallioor – 627117, Mobile: 09842386224). (Ali Manikfan has carried out research on this topic for over 40 years. He will impart this knowledge to those who wish to study this subject in detail- Editor)
Diabetes Mellitus and Ramadan Fasting
Fasting during Ramadan should have a potentially beneficial effect with regard to diabetic control.
Ramadan is a month of self-regulation and self-training, with the hope that this training will last beyond the end of Ramadan. If the lessons learnt during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, it is beneficial for one’s entire life. Moreover, the type of food taken during Ramadan does not have any selective criteria of crash diets such as those which are protein only or fruit only type diets. Everything that is permissible is taken in moderate quantities.
Diabetes Mellitus and Ramadan Fasting
Diabetes mellitus affects people of all faiths. Muslims are no exception. Many diabetic Muslims have a desire to fast during the month of Ramadan, although if they cannot for health reasons, they have a valid exemption. The dilemma for physicians and Muslim scholars is whether or not Muslim diabetic patients (1) should be allowed to fast if they decide to; (2) can fast safely; (3) can be helped to fast if they decide to; (4) can have their disease monitored at home; and (5) are going to derive any benefit or harm to their health. Fasting during Ramadan by a Muslim diabetic patient is only a privilege to be allowed by his physician, at the patient’s request, knowing all the dangers and assuming full responsibility in dietary compliance and glucose monitoring, with good communication between the physician and the patient .
Psychological State of Diabetes during Ramadan
Diabetes mellitus itself adversely affects patients’ psychological states by changes in glucose metabolism, blood and CSF osmolality, needs for discipline and compliance, fear of long term complications and threat of hypoglycemic attacks and the possibility of dehydration and coma.
On the other hand, fasting during Ramadan has a tranquilizing effect on the mind, producing inner peace and decrease in anger and hostility. Fasting Muslims realise that manifestations of anger may take away the blessings of fasting or even nullify them. Diabetics know that stress increases the blood glucose by increasing the catecholamine level and any tool to lower the stress ; ie., bio-feedback or relaxation improves diabetic control. Thus, Islamic fasting during Ramadan should have a potentially beneficial effect with regard to diabetic control.
Educational Program for Diabetics during Ramadan
It should be directed towards (a) diabetic home management (b) preparing them for Ramadan (c) recognising warning symptoms of dehydration, hypoglycemia and other possible complications.
Patients should be taught home glucose monitoring, checking urine for acetone, doing daily weights, calorie-controlled diabetic diet, need for sleep and normal exercise. They should be able to take pulse, temperature, look for skin infection and notice changes in the sensorium ( mental alertness ) . They should be on special alert for any colicky pain, a sign for renal colic, or hyperventilation, a sign of dehydration, and to be able to seek medical help quickly rather than wait for the next day.
Criteria Allowing Diabetics to Fast During Ramadan
a. All male diabetics over age 20.
b. All female diabetics over age 20 if not pregnant or nursing.
c. Body weight normal or above ideal body weight.
d . Absence of infection, co-existing unstable medical conditions, ie, coronary artery disease, severe hypertension (B/P 200/120), kidney stones, COPD or emphysema.
(Dr. Shahid Athar M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis, Indiana.) Visit his website: Islam-USA.com
New Drug for Fasting Muslim Diabetics
According to a report published in the Times of India, three doctors from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have jointly identified the right drugs that will allow diabetic Muslims to fast without risking complications like Hypoglycemia and Ketoacidosis.
Dr. Abdul Zargar, HOD of endocrinology at S K Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar, Dr. Abdul Basit, head of Bagai Institute of Diabetology in Karachi and Dr. Hajra Mehtab, director of Clinical Research at Birdem Hospital in Dhaka have identified formulations of Sulphonylureas (the first line drug used for Type 2 diabetes) that can become the drug of choice during Ramadan.
According to the doctors, the drug like Repaglinide and Natiglinide, short acting drugs in the Sulphonylureas family should be taken twice a day. Although Islam exempts sick people from fasting, over 80 per cent diabetic Muslims in India fast during Ramadan.
“Repaglinide and Natiglinide, are short duration drugs that will help bring down the blood sugar immediately,” say these doctors.
Their recent surveys have suggested that nearly 64 per cent Muslim diabetic patients change their drug intake pattern during Ramadan. Of these, 35 per cent stop treatment, 8 per cent change their dosage schedule and 18 per cent take their daily dose in a single dose.
(The Times of India, September 15, 2005)
Ramadan Helps Many to Quit Smoking
Many Muslims and non-Muslims discover the benefit of fasting while overcoming the habit of chain-smoking.
One of the many benefits of Ramadan is that not only does the sale of cigarettes go down, but many Muslims find it a help in giving up smoking. Even “passive fasters” speak of benefiting from the holy month.
Studies in Saudi Arabia have shown that cost was not an important factor in the decision to kick smoking. “Ramadan does not cost a person anything, instead it gives him a lot, including a chance to give up the habit,” said Muhammad Ali, who used to smoke two packets a day.
“I made many resolutions to give up smoking,” he said. “One Ramadan I refrained from lighting up after iftar. It was a bit difficult to control the urge for a few days, but I resisted, and by the end of the month, the habit ended forever,” he added.
Examples of non-Muslims fasting during Ramadan are not rare. Many of them fast for the spiritual experience and the associated benefits relating to health and the psyche.
S.C., who wanted only his initials to be used, said he discovered the benefit of fasting while overcoming the habit of chain-smoking. Two others, who wanted to remain anonymous, one said he has been fasting three days each Ramadan for the last five years, during which he was able to give up smoking. “I have started to fast for a couple of days in Ramadan since 2003 in order to give up smoking,” said his friend, a software consultant.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided countries with guidelines for comprehensive national tobacco control programs. These guidelines include health promotion activities, media advocacy, encouragement of smoking cessation, legislative measures, fiscal measures such as tobacco taxation, and effective protective measures against involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke. One can add fasting to it.
A study conducted about five years ago on prevalence and determinants of cigarette smoking among Saudi nationals in three regions of Saudi Arabia had noted that it was an important public health problem in the Kingdom and suggested that a more intense and comprehensive tobacco control effort was needed.
The WHO has described tobacco smoking as an epidemic. The global smoking epidemic is expected to remain as one of the greatest causes of premature death, disease, and suffering for decades to come. The WHO has estimated that the number of deaths each year from smoking-attributable disease will increase to 10 million within the next 25 years or so, of which 70 percent will occur in developing countries.
No nationwide studies on the prevalence of tobacco smoking have been carried out in Saudi Arabia. Small-scale studies have shown a prevalence of between 8 percent and 57 percent. The Kingdom ranks fourth in the world when it comes to import and consumption of tobacco. The estimated six million smokers among Saudis and expatriates spend SR1 billion annually on buying cigarettes and tobacco.
Nearly 23,000 people die annually in Saudi Arabia of smoking-related diseases.
The Smoking Cessation Clinic set up by the Charity Organization for Raising Awareness on the Harms of Smoking and Drugs continues its work during Ramadan. The anti-smoking therapy is by professionals and costs SR20 per session. Each patient is required to attend six sessions to benefit from the therapy. Currently, therapy is offered to men only but there are plans to provide sessions for women. The clinic is located at Al-Jamiatul Khairiyah on Abdullah Al-Sulaiman Street in Al-Faiyha District.
(Courtesy: Arab News)
Ramadan-A Month of Blessing, .Mercy and Forgiveness!
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Prophet (Pbuh) who said: Allah says:
“Fasting is Mine and it is I who give reward for it. A man gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for My sake. Fasting is like a shield, and he who fasts has two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets
his Lord. The change in the breath of the mouth of him who fasts is better in
Allah’s estimation than the smell of musk.”
Remedies with Rose Water
A few home remedies can help overcome the changes in our human body physiologically due to fasting.
For Diabetic Patients:
They have to be more careful in maintaining the fluid balance of the body during the fasting. The following can be used as a beverage instead of tea or coffee during Sehri and before going to sleep.
• Tuffah-e-Kamooni-50gms (Phyllanthus multiflorus WILLD.) Fruits (kamooni ke phal)
• Tukhm-e-Baadiyan-50gms (Foeniculum vulgare GAERTN) Seeds (Soanf)
• Elaichi-25gms (Amomum subulatum ROXB.) Seeds
Method of preparation:
The fruits have to be dried in the shade.
Seeds cleaned well.
All the above are to be well pounded and sieved
The fine powder is taken.
About ½ tea spoon to be soaked in water at night and in the morning, it is to be boiled and taken in about 1 glass of water. during Sehri. Benefit of this is the drugs included in this are very useful in maintaining the water balance.
Note: This powder can be preserved for a month and taken ½ teaspoon daily. Should be preserved in well stopper glass bottles .
Dryness of the Skin:
This occurs due to less of water content in the body. The jild (skin) looses it’s tonicity and the oil content in it is lost during fasting, Due to this effect of heat, the water or the fluid content in the body is lost
A few tips which would help:
• Plenty of fluids have to be taken either in the form of plain water or fruit juices after breaking the fast.
• Fruit juices can be the direct extracts from the fruits like oranges, water melon, grapes (Green and black coloured), usually before going to bed.
• 2 Tea spoons of rose water taken internally with water gives good comfort during the whole day
and relieves acidity caused due to excessive dehydration.
• Cabbage leaves crushed and given, gives good relief to the acidity in stomach during fasting. At least twice a week•
• ½ Tea spoon of multani mitti (Muller’s earth)to be soaked in water and its upper part (plain water)can be consumed. The soaked multani mitti (Muller’s earth)can be applied on the skin (face and arms) at least once a week.
A Few Instructions for the Young Girls:
• Avoid taking postponement tablets to postpone the menstrual cycle .
• Do not hesitate to have any kind of food, feeling/ thinking that you may have your menstrual cycle ahead of the expected date due to the fasting heat.
• Have plenty of water to avoid urinary tract infection.
• If you have burning sensation in the eyes then, apply a few drops of rose water in the eyes.
• Apply rose water mixed with glycerine to the facial skin , this will act as a natural moisturizer.
(The writer is a Unani Physician and can be reached at email@example.com)
Some Mosques in Bangalore where women can offer Taraweeh
Charminar Masjid, Shivajinagar
Hazrath Tipu Sultan Shaheed Mosque
Al Ameen College Campus, Hosur Road.
Jamia Masjid, Jamia Masjid Complex, S.J.P. Road
Masjid-e-Luqman, Norris Road, Richmond Town
Masjid-e-Rasheedia, Rose Line, Richmond Town
Rows of Date Palm
During Ramadan, the fast is broken with a few dates, but did you know that the date palm tree begins producing fruit when it is about seven years old?
In the Oases of Saudi Arabia, the date palm trees stand tall with their branches outstretched towards heaven and their roots anchored deep into the earth. These dense green groves have been a treasured part of the Saudi landscape for generations, both for their beauty and utility. The date palm is especially important to Saudis not only for its myriad uses, but as a national symbol. After the modern Kingdom was founded in 1932 by King Abdul Aziz Bin Abdul Rahman Al- Saud, the date-palm was incorporated in its national emblem, representing vitality and growth.
Dates are low in fat, cholesterol free, high in carbohydrates, fibre, potassium and vitamins. Dates stay fresh for several weeks when properly stored.
The date farms of Saudi Arabia contain 14 million palm trees. They grow primarily in the world’s largest oasis, Al-Hasa, in the Eastern Province. Al-Hasa’s famous water springs and extensive irrigation system make it an ideal area for the production of dates. Other regions of the Kingdom known for their date palm groves are Qatif, Qasim, Madinah and Bishah. There are a number of varieties of dates grown throughout the Kingdom.
The palm tree is considered to be one of the most adaptable trees in the world. It requires watering only once every two weeks and is able to withstand the dry, hot days and cold nights of the harsh desert climate. Each tree yields at least 1000 pounds of fruit a year. The trees are planted in uniform rows and grow to be 40 to 100 feet tall. The date palm begins producing fruit when it is about seven years old and sustains abundant yields on an average 75 years, although the tree itself may live to be 150 years old.
Only female date palms bear fruit, so for commercial purposes, farmers plant predominantly female trees. However, male trees that produce plentiful pollen are very precious as the quality of the male pollen influences the size of the fruit and the rate at which it ripens. The female plant is pollinated by artificial means. The traditional method involves cutting several pollen clusters from the male tree and inverting them among clusters of female flowers. While for centuries this practice was performed by hand, today, there are machines which have made the process quicker and easier.
One month after pollination, small green fruits begin to appear on the female trees. As they grow during the summer months, the intense heat withdraws the moisture and some of the sugar from them. As the dates ripen, they go from green to either bright yellow or dark red in colour depending on the variety and finally a dark brown at harvest time. While different varieties of dates vary somewhat in their growing seasons, the primary date season in Saudi Arabia runs from March, when the green buds appear, to the middle of October when the mature fruits are ready for harvesting.
Researchers continue to explore the many uses of the date palm-some 360 according to the Arabian folklore. Although no part of the tree is wasted, scientists are looking for new ways to utilise them.
As the largest date producing region in the Saudi Kingdom, it is appropriate that Al-Hasa is the home to one of the world’s leading facilities dedicated to date palm research. Established in 1982, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Water and King Faisal University, the Date Palm Research Centre conducts field and applied laboratory research to deal with problems that hinder date palm cultivation, production, processing and marketing.
Word-for-Word! - The Glorious Quran
Word-for-Word Translation to facilitate learning of Quranic Arabic.
Volume-I, Juz 1-10
Price: Rs. 150
For feedback and suggestions, contact: Dr Shehnaz Shaikh, 501, B, Royal Garden, Dr A.B Royal Road, Worli, Mumbai: 400018. Ph:022-24924740. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sharafuddin &Sons Pvt Ltd, 29, Mohammed Ali Road, Mumbai-400003. Ph: 022-23456344, Email:alkutubis@ hotmail.com
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The message of the Quran is so powerful that it will have its due effect on the reader even if one reads the ‘translation’ only. But to feel the real charm of its originality by one’s heart, mind and reason and ultimately by the soul, one should understand the Quran via the Arabic text. We are linked with the Quran through one or all of the following sources: one’s own recitation, listening to it in individual/congregational prayers, audio and video channels. However, it is essential that we understand the full message of our Creator.
The translation provided in the left column of each page is kept close to the Arabic and not literal. The objective of the whole exercise is to enable the reader understand directly from Arabic.
The layout is such that it can also be used for regular recitation enabling constant revision. In translating the words, the compilers have made every effort to choose the English word from the existing authentic Quran translations. This could be used in schools for children to teach them Quran with meaning.
The printing quality of the book is excellent and the cover too gives it the classical look.
King of Hobbies
With the tranquility of Ramadan around, the younger generation can can take up stamp collection as a healthy hobby.
Dr. Bruce Goldberg in the book, ‘Look Younger, Live Longer’ says one way to keep your brain younger is to take up a hobby.
And the best among hobbies is Philately - the hobby of stamp collecting. Philately is the most popular among hobbies around the world, where people irrespective of age, sex, race, caste, creed or nationality have taken keen interest in collecting stamps. Philately is therefore rightly called and 'King of Hobbies and Hobbies of Kings'. The person pursuing philately is called a Philatelist.
It was about 150 years ago that the first postage stamp called 'The Penny Black' was introduced in Great Britain. Subsequently many countries in the world started issuing stamps as a 'pre-paid' fee for the postal services offered. And people started collecting these stamps after they were used. Stamps can be collected as 'Mint' or 'Used'. Mint stamps are those that are unused in its original state, with gum and 'Used' stamps are those which or postally used or first day cancelled. First day cancelled stamps are cancelled with a special cancellation on their first day of issue.
Broadly, stamps are classified as 1) Definitives and 2) Commemorative.
Definitives are the stamps that we see regularly on our mails which are printed in large quantity for general use. These definitive stamps are printed and reprinted again as per the demand.
Commemorative stamps are stamps issued commemorating any special event such as the Birth or Death centenaries of leaders, centenary celebrations of any historical event etc., These commemorative stamps are printed in limited quantities and are not reprinted again. Cancellation is the postmark affixed over the stamps indicating that they have been postally used. Cancellation usually is the round seal affixed on the stamps showing the name and pin code number of the post office where it is used and the date on which it is used.
Along with the stamp, a 'first day cover' is issued. First Day cover is an envelope which usually has a large design related to the subject of the stamp and the stamp itself affixed on a corner and cancellation seal affixed on the stamp. first day covers and information brochures.
India has also issued a number of stamps related to Islam and Muslim personalities of India. One such noteworthy stamp on Islam was released commemorating the 1400 years of Hijri - The Muslim calendar year. It is significant because it commemorates the 1400 years of migration of Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh) from Makkah to Madinah.
Stamps have been issued on many Muslim freedom fighters, Muslim personalities, Muslim institutions, Muslim monuments and Islamic events. Quite noteworthy are stamps issued on Tipu Sultan, Bahadur Shah Zafar, Maulana Azad, Syed Ahmed Khan, Dr. Zakir Hussain, Dr. Salim Ali, Poet Dr. Iqbal, Darul Uloom Deoband, Jamia Millia Islamia and many more.
Something about my Collection…
Being an Indian Philatelist, I am fascinated by the stamps issued by India both during pre-independence and post-independence era. Philately is not just collecting stamps, but also studying them in detail. The size of the stamps, its perforations, printing, paper, watermark, gum and many other technical aspects related to printing and use of the stamp. I am keen on the study of stamps issued in relation to Islam and Muslims in India.
I have collected Mint and Used stamps of India –my collection is over 3000 stamps. I am in the process of collecting the stamps of Pre-independence British era. I have many rare and varied stamps of pre and post independence India. I would be happy if schools encourage students to take up philately as an extra-curricular activity. I am eager not only to promote this healthy hobby among our younger generations but also to help them cultivate and sustain this hobby forever, as there is no retiring or age limit in this hobby.
Something about myself…
I was born and bought up in Bangalore in a respectable religious business family. I am proud to be a Muslim, an Indian and above all I am proud of my parents. (My late father was my Best Friend).By qualification I am a Bachelor of Electronics Engineering from Bangalore University with additional qualifications as a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. By profession I am businessman.
As a Philatelist I am a member of 'Karnataka Philatelic Society, Bangalore' and 'South India Philatelists Association, Chennai'
I had started stamp collecting in my primary school in 3rd standard. But studies were top priority and i pursued philately on a modest way. During my tenth standard, pre-university and subsequently entering into an engineering course, i had to fully concentrate on studies and philately was kept on the back-burner as is the case of many young people. But I never let the Philatelist in me die and I continued with the hobby after my graduation as an engineer.
My advice to young people is to cultivate healthy hobbies and at times when other things in life take priority, we may have to put our hobbies on hold, but never let them die.
The writer can be reached at email@example.com
No-109/3, Millia Buildings, N.R.Road. Bangalore-2
List of Stamps released on Islam and Muslims by Indian Postal Department.
Sl. No. - Description - Date of release - Significance
01 - Kabir - 01 Oct 1952 - Poet
02 - Ghalib - 01 Oct 1952 - Poet
03 - A K Azad - 11 Nov 1966 - Scholar and Leader
04 - Taj Mahal – Intl. Tourist year - 19 Mar 1967 - Monument
05 - Mirza Ghalib - 17 Feb 1969 - Poet
06 - Osmania University - 15 Mar 1969 - Institution
07 - Dr. Zakir Hussain - 11 June 1969 - Former President of India
08 - Sher Shah Suri - 22 May 1970 - Ruler
09 - Jamia Millia Islamia - 29 Oct 1970 - Institution
10 - Syed Ahmed Khan - 17 Oct 1973 - Scholar and Educationist
11 - Tipu Sultan - 15 Jul 1974 - Ruler and Freedom Fighter
12 - Namibia Day - 26 Aug 1975 - Islamic Country
13 - Mir Anees - 04 Sep 1975 - Poet
14 - Ameer Khusrau - 24 Oct 1975 - Poet
15 - Bahadur Shah Zafar - 24 Oct 1975 - Ruler
16 - Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed - 22 Mar 1977 - Former President of India
17 - Muhammed Ali Jauhar - 10 Dec 1978 - Leader
18 - Darul Uloom Deoband - 21 Mar 1980 - Institution
19 - S M Zamin Ali - 25 Mar 1980 - Educationist and poet
20 - Hijri – Muslim Year - 03 Nov 1980 - Islamic Event
21 - M A Ansari - 25 Dec 1980 - Medical Doctor and Politician
22 - Mazharul Haque - 02 Jan 1981 - Journalist and Social Worker
23 - Palestinian Solidarity - 29 Nov 1981 - Solidarity with Muslims
24 - Begum Hazrat Mahal - 10 May 1984 - Leaders of Sepoy Mutiny
25 - Hakim Ajmal Khan - 13 Fen 1987 - Humanitarian
26 - Sheikh Abdulla - 05 Dec 1988 - Statesman
27 - Muhammed Iqbal - 21 Apr 1988 - Poet
28 - Maulana Azad - 11 Nov 1988 - Freedom Fighter & Statesman
29 - Saifudding Kichlew - 13 Apr 1989 - Freedom Fighter
30 - Asaf Ali - 11 May 1989 - Statesman
31 - Dargah Sharieff, Ajmer - 13 Feb 1989 - Sufi Tomb
32 - Mustafa Kemal Attaturk - 30 Aug 1989 - Turkish Statesman
33 - Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan - 09 Aug 1993 - Freedom Fighter
34 - Rafi Ahmed Kidwai - 18 Feb 1995 - Politician
35 - Ala Hazrat Barelvi - 31 Dec 1995 - Scholar & Author
36 - Muhammed Ismail - 05 Jun 1996 - Politician
37 - Dr. Salim Ali - 12 Nov 1996 - Ornithologist, Ecologist, Conservationist & Writer
38 - Shah Nawaz Khan - 15 Aug 1997 - INA Stalwart
39 - Ashfaqulla Khan - 19 Dec 1997 - Martyr
40 - Syed Ahmed Khan - 27 Mar 1998 - Educationist & Social reformer
41 - Dr. Zakir Hussain - 03 May 1998 - President of India
42 - Muhammed Abdurrahman - 15 May 1998 - Nationalist
43 - Vakkom Abdul Khader - 25 May 1998 - Martyr
44 - Kazi Nazrul Islam - 14 Sep 1999 - Poet and Lyricist
45 - Ustad Allauddin Khan - 19 Oct 1999 - Music Maestro – Sarod Player
46 - Abdul Hameed PVC - 28 Jan 2000 - Param Vir Chakra winner
47 - Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan - 28 Dec 2000 - Music Maestro – Sarod
48 - Muhammed Rafi - 15 May 2003 - Singer
49 - Bade Gulam Ali Khan - 30 Jun 2003 - Classical Singer
50 - Kabir - 16 Aug 2004 - Sufi Poet
51 - Hafiz Shirazi - 16 Aug 2004 - Iranian Poet
52 - Taj Mahal - 16 Dec 2004 - Monument
53 - Abdul Qayyum Ansari - Aug 2005 - Freedom Fighter
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