Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation
Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation
I’tekaf – The Gem of Worship that you May not Know About*
“…And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ismael, (saying): Purify My house for those who perform Tawaf (Ta’ifeen) and those who are staying [there] (A’kifeen) for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” (The Holy Qur’an 2:125)
Once again the blessed month of Rajab has arrived, and the anticipation for the feast of Allah has started. You may be already thinking:
“how can I make the best of the next two months to help prepare for a Ramadhan that’s not just all about hunger and thirst?”
If that is the case, then it is your lucky day, because you may have just stumbled upon the perfect method to get you ready for Ramadhan; and that’s through I’tekaf.
Those of us who have lived or visited Muslim countries before are more likely to have heard of the ritual of I’tekaf, but if it doesn’t ring a bell, you’re in for a surprise! It is a fascinating practice which can only be likened to the ihram of Hajj, where you give up on many of your worldly desires and start a journey of self-purification and spiritual revival.
In essence, I’tekaf refers to the act of residing in a mosque for a period of three days or more, during which an individual seeks closeness to Allah (swt) by performing various A’mal (rituals) and refraining from a number of prohibited acts. It may sound simple, but there is a beauty to I’tekaf that makes it so special compared to other rituals in Islam.
Yes, we have all recited our beloved Qur’an before; we have all stood shoulder to shoulder next to our brothers and sister in congregational prayers, but each of these A’mal when performed in I’tekaf gain a whole new dimension. Imagine you are on a three-day journey to Allah where each individual A’mal count as a station along a journey that is set to enrich us for the rest of it. That Quran recitation on the back of that beautiful lecture, followed by an inspiring dua and later on by Salatul Layl, all performed amongst other mo’takifeen who have devoted themselves to Allah (swt) for three days… that’s what makes I’tekaf so special. You are no longer in this world, but in a place where none of your daily worries matter.
What is I’tekaf?
I’tekaf literally means ‘to stop in a certain place‘, and in the Islamic context it refers to staying in a mosque for a period of three days or more. An individual can do I’tekaf at any time of the year, but the best period is between 13th to 15th of Rajab and during the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadhan. The I’tekaf in Rajab is more common as it is a great way to prepare ourselves for the holy month of Ramadhan.
The beauty and importance of I’tekaf can be seen in the holy Qur’an, where Allah (swt) mentions in Surah Baqara:
“…And We imposed a duty upon Abraham and Ismael, (saying): Purify My house for those who perform Tawaf (Ta’ifeen) and those who are staying [there] (A’kifeen) for worship and those who bow and prostrate [in prayer].” (2:125)
The word A’kifeen is a reference to those who perform I’tekaf in the house of Allah. This ayah shows that I’tekaf is not an act only introduced by Islam, but one that was practiced by followers of other prophets including prophet Ibrahim (as).
It is narrated from Imam Ali (as):
فلم يزل يعتکف في العشر الاو اخر من رمضان حتي توفاه الله
“The Prophet (sa) was always in state of I’tekaf in the last ten days of Ramadhan until Allah (swt) took his life”. (Bihar al-Anwar, v. 94, p. 7)
What A’mal must to be performed during the three days?
I’tekaf officially starts at Fajr on 13th of Rajab, and ends at Maghrib on 15th. To be regarded a Mo’takef, it is obligatory for an individual residing in the mosque to fast for each of the three days. A person who is not able to fast for whatever reason, is not able to perform I’tekaf. Apart from this, there are no other obligatory A’mal, but it is highly recommended to recite plenty of Qur’an and be in constant remembrance of Allah (swt). And of course the last day of I’tekaf in Rajab coincides with the beautiful A’mal of Umm Dawood.
What acts are prohibited?
Leaving the Masjid is not permissible during the state of I’tekaf except for a necessity. Applying perfume and smelling perfume with the intention of deriving pleasure is prohibited, and this act makes I’tekaf null and void and is also a sin. Also prohibited are discussions and arguments both in relation to the world and the faith. This means that a person argues with another to prove that he is better or smarter or that he knows more, etc… However, if a person must argue or debate to uphold the truth and destroy falsehood, it is permissible – and in fact, this is the best form of worship and servitude to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) during this noble state. Buying and selling anything is prohibited, as is deriving pleasure from one’s spouse in any way – holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc… all are completely forbidden in the state of I’tekaf. If any of these things are performed, one’s I’tekaf becomes void.
What do we aim to achieve?
The period of I’tekaf is the best time to force one’s self to sit and think and reflect on the self and the world around, and it is the best time to forget the worries of the transient world and to return to the soul and the Creator of the soul.
It is also the best time to return back to Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) in true repentance for our sins committed through the year, and to concentrate on the Words of Allah in the Qur’an, the prayers and supplications used to call upon Him, and all of those things which are related to Him and His Sacred Essence.
I’tekaf is not a three-day holiday from work or school; it is not a time to sit in the Masjid in complete ignorance of ones’ self and his spiritual surroundings; and it is not the venue to pass one’s time in idleness. I’tekaf is not the act of sleeping and snoring in the Masjid and killing time either. Truly, I’tekaf is a three day spiritual retreat to build the self; it is the act of leaving one’s personal house to be in the service of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him) and to recognize one’s self in Allah’s house (the Masjid) while at the same time, being a guest in the House of Allah (Glory and Greatness be to Him), eating His food which He has sent and being around His servants which He has guided.
Where can I perform I’tekaf?
I’tekaf is widely practiced in many of the mosques in Muslim countries. However, in more recent years it has become more common in Western countries. The following is a list of known cities that will host I’tekaf programmes this year between 11th and 13th April. Participants arrive at the mosque on 10th April in the evening, in time to be present for Fajr of 11th. All these events require registration and have limited spaces:
London / UK – Imam Ali Mosque (contact: email@example.com)
Hamburg / Germany – Imam Ali Mosque (more info on: http://en.izhamburg.de/)
Stockholm / Sweden – Imam Ali Islamic Center (contact: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Vancouver / Canada – Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre (contact: email@example.com)
Akhenaten Must be Turning in his Grave*
Akhenaten is one of the most famous rulers in the Land of Pharaohs and he still remains a unique and controversial figure in history of his country.
He ruled over Egypt for seventeen years during the 14th Dynasty.
Akhenaten born as Amenhotep IV, was the son of Amenhotep III, the Magnificent, the ninth ruler of the Eighteenth Dynasty and Queen Tiye who was of non-royal origin and Amenhotep III’s Great Royal Wife.
Akhenaten’s father ruled for about forty years and his rule is believed to have been successful.
At the height of the 18th Dynasty, the eldest son of King Amenhotep III, Crown Prince Tuthmosis died unpredictably, making his younger brother Akhenaten – who at the time still had his original name, Amenhotep IV – next in line for the throne.
Pharaoh Akhenaten’s Early Years of Reign
Not much is known about the young Akhenaten, only that he spent much time in Memphis or in his father’s palace city Malkata, near Medinet-Habu, on the west bank of Luxor. When he became king he was already married to Nefertiti, his beautiful life-companion, advisor and co-ruler. Most probably he was already the father of a daughter Meritaten “Beloved of Aten” and the choice of his daughter’s name makes us wonder.
At what age did he become fascinated with the new god?
Akhenaten’s Dream and a Sudden Dramatic Change In Ancient Egypt
At the beginning of his kingship, Akhenaten still used his name Amenhotep IV. There is some evidence that he initially paid tribute to both aspects of the sun god: Aten and Amun-Re. In his early years as king, portrayed on one of the pylons in the temple of Karnak, his new god Aten, was identified with Re-Horakte, depicted as a falcon with a sun-disc on his head.
Interestingly, in the Nubian town of Sesebi, where Akhenaten established a temple, the god Aten in falcon form is depicted in the company of all traditional Egyptian gods.
His image as pharaoh was the image of the king with all his human weaknesses; he did not hide imperfections of his body, elongated face and slanting eyes, on the contrary, he rather glorified and exaggerated them.
In his 4th or 5th year of rule, the young pharaoh began the great passion of his life. He changed his name from Amenhotep (“peace of Amon”) to Akhenaten and announced that Aten appeared to him in a dream and told that he was the supreme and only god. From this moment, Akhenaten openly began to express his dissatisfaction with every old Egyptian tradition.
Was it only a dream he had or did he have another, special motif to replace more than 2,000 deities of Egyptian pantheon?
Why was Akhenaten determined to limit the priests’ role and power in ancient Egypt?
Did he have an unknown agenda that he only revealed to his closest advisers?
Belief in One Supreme God – One And Only
As a result, he began methodical eradication of all signs related to Amun-Re cult. He withdrew funding from all temples of “false gods”. Taking money and power away from what was, at the time, a very powerful and wealthy priestly class, created chaos, discontent and protests.
Akhenaten – The Founder of the City Of Amarna
In his 6th year of reign, the pharaoh found a perfect place for his new capital. This piece of land, located on the east bank of the Nile River, belonged to no-one and referred to no god.
Examples of “The Amarna Letters”, discovered in 1887. There are 382 known clay cuneiform tablets, whose contents shed light on Egyptian relations with Babylonia, Assyria, the Mitanni, the Hittites, Syria, Palestine and Cyprus. They are important for establishing both the history and chronology of the period.
He called it – Akhetaten (“The Horizon of the Aten”) and established the city devoted to the god, whose depiction showed an image of the sun with rays radiating from it. Aten was regarded by Akhenaten as being the creative force of the universe that was manifested by the sun.
Clearly, the god itself – had no image.
The traditional capital of Thebes was replaced by city of Akhetaten (now referred to as Amarna or Tell el-Amarna), with the king’s palace and the Great Temple of the Aten.
Rock-cut tombs were built in the neighbouring cliffs to the south and north and several roofless temples, so that rays of the sun would directly fall on the worshipers. Akhenaten moved with his family and other prominent and trustworthy citizens to the city.
The City Was Abandoned Shortly after Akhenaten’s Death
The city of the god Aten was abandoned shortly after his death. Archaeologists have gathered a lot of evidence that the place was intentionally destroyed. After his death, the traditional pantheon of gods was quickly readopted.
Many historians claim that Akhenaten was a careless, incompetent and unsuccessful ruler. Their claims are most probably based on evidence in form of the Amarna Tablets, which contain governmental documents and correspondence confirming his incompetence.
Proper Movements in Muslim Prayer can Reduce Lower Back Pain*
Five times a day, roughly 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, bow, kneel, and place their foreheads to the ground in the direction of the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as part of the Islamic prayer ritual, the Salat. According to research, the complex physical movements of the ritual can reduce lower back pain if performed regularly and properly.
According to research at Binghamton University, State University of New York, the complex physical movements of the Islamic prayer ritual, the Salat, can reduce lower back pain if performed regularly and properly.
Five times a day, roughly 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, bow, kneel, and place their foreheads to the ground in the direction of the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as part of the Islamic prayer ritual, the Salat. The ritual is one of the five obligatory elements of the faith set forth by the holy book, the Qur’an.
According to research at Binghamton University, State University of New York, the complex physical movements of the ritual can reduce lower back pain if performed regularly and properly.
“One way to think about the movements is that they are similar to those of yoga or physical therapy intervention exercises used to treat low back pain,” said Professor and Systems Science and Industrial Engineering Department Chair Mohammad Khasawneh, who is one of the authors of “An ergonomic study of body motions during Muslim prayer using digital human modelling.”
While the research focused specifically on Islamic prayer practices, similar movements are also found in Christian and Jewish prayer rituals along with yoga and physical therapy.
The paper was published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Working with Khasawneh, an interfaith team of Assistant Professor Faisal Aqlan from the Department of Industrial Engineering at Penn State Behrend, Assistant Professor Abdulaziz Ahmed from the Business Department at the University of Minnesota Crookston, and Performance Improvement Consultant Wen Cao from the Department of Operational Performance Improvement at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center were all co-authors of the paper. All three are alumni of the Industrial and Systems Engineering doctoral program at Binghamton University.
“Physical health is influenced by socio-economic, lifestyle and religious factors. Moreover, studies indicate that there is a strong association between prayer and vigilance about maintaining a physically healthy lifestyle,” said Khasawneh.
“Prayer can eliminate physical stress and anxiety, while there is also research that indicates prayer rituals can be considered an effective clinical treatment of neuro-musculoskeletal dysfunction.”
Researchers analyzed statistics based on the movements of computer-generated digital human models of healthy Indian, Asian, and American men and women, and models with lower back pain.
The group found that the bowing portion is the most stressful on the lower back, but for individuals with low back pain, using proper knee and back angles during the ritual can reduce pain. The angles are based on individual body shapes.
“The maximum compression forces created during prayer postures is much lower than National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) safety limits, and the movements can be safely considered a clinical treatment for low back pain, as it requires different movements of the human body on a regular basis,” Khasawneh said.
“Based on the pain level, a combination of back and knee angles can be identified.”
For those with back pain, maintaining exact prayer postures may not be possible. According to Islamic traditions and practices, if individuals cannot stand, they are allowed to pray seated or laying. If they are able to stand, they should maintain correct postures as much as they can.
“The kneeling posture (sujud) increases the elasticity of joints. It is recommended for these individuals to spend more time in the kneeling posture,” Khasawneh said.
According to the research team, using incorrect angles and movements can increase pain. The team also suggested that further study is needed for physically handicapped individuals, those with more extreme body types and women — especially pregnant women — to find the best movements for these groups. The group plans to further validate the findings with physical experiments using sensors and cameras to track the stresses on the individual body parts during the prayer ritual.
Qur’an is Wise to Ancient Satanic Conspiracy*
David Livingstone reveals that Kabbalists are singled out in the Qu’ran as instruments of an ancient occult conspiracy.
The Qu’ran dates from the Seventh Century, indicating mankind has suffered from this plot for millennia.
Today the Satanists are pitting Christians against Muslims, using migration and false flag terror, eliminating two birds with one stone.
Most Christians are too credulous to even recognize that their real adversary is the Illuminati, a Masonic (Kabbalist) Jewish cult which controls government, business and culture.
Muslims & Conspiracy Theory
By David Livingstone
Despite the Muslims’ tendency to dismiss the substantial role played by the occult and secret societies as paranoid, it is from the Qur’an that we are provided with the crucial clue which helps us identify the Luciferian origin of the Kabbalah, when it is mentioned:
When a messenger was sent to them [the Jews] by God confirming the revelations they had already received, some of them turned their backs as if they had no knowledge of it. They followed what the demons attributed to the reign of Solomon. But Solomon did not blaspheme, it was the satans who blasphemed, teaching men magic and such things as were revealed at Babylon to the angels Harut and Marut. …They learned from them the means to sow discord between man and wife [love magic, feminism]. But they could not harm anyone except by God’ s permission. And they learned what harmed them, not what benefited them. And they knew that the purchasers [of magic] would have no share in the happiness of the hereafter. And vile was the price for which they sold their souls, if they but knew. [2:102]
Essentially, the message of the Qur’an is clear and repeated. Starting with the sixtieth verse of Surat Al-Muddathir, one of the earliest chapters of the Quran to be revealed:
Nay! For lo! He [man] has been stubborn to Our revelations. On him I shall impose a fearful doom. (Self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! Again (self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! [74:16-20]
Behold this is the Word that distinguishes (Good from Evil): It is not a thing for amusement. As for them, they are but plotting a scheme, And I am planning a scheme. [86:13-16]
And thus have We [God] made in every city the elite to be its guilty ones, that they may plan therein; and they do not plan but against their own souls, and they do not perceive. [6:123]
But you have to fight fire with water. We should not combat the conspirators out of vengeance for being wronged. According to the Quran:
“The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and you there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” [41:34]
God will judge the conspirators. As for us, we should forgive them in our hearts while opposing their actions. Like Jesus said, “God forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Only love can conquer hate. That is the true message of God’s message as it has been revealed through the centuries.
As the Quran says, on the Day of Judgment, the masses will blame the elite for having been misled by the “conspiracy” carried out against them. But they will be responsible for their own wrongs:
Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, “Rather, [it was your] conspiracy by night and day when you were ordering us to disbelieve in God and attribute to Him equals.” But they will [all] confide regret when they see the punishment; and We will put shackles on the necks of those who disbelieved. Will they be recompensed except for what they used to do? [34:33]
And following are numerous examples from the Quran emphasizing the central fact of a conspiracy hatched by God’s enemies, usually using a word translated into English as “plot” or “plan”: Nay! For lo! he hath been stubborn to Our revelations. On him I shall impose a fearful doom. (Self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! Again (self-)destroyed is he, how he planned! [74:16-20]
And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill ‘Iesa (Jesus) ], and God planned too. And God is the Best of the planners. (3:54)
If good touches you, it distresses them; but if harm strikes you, they rejoice at it. And if you are patient and fear God , their plot will not harm you at all. Indeed, God is encompassing of what they do. [3:120]
Those who believe fight in the cause of God , and those who disbelieve fight in the cause of idolatry. So fight against the allies of Satan. Indeed, the plot of Satan has ever been weak. [4:76]
And they say: (It is) obedience; but when they have gone forth from thee a party of them spend the night in planning other than what thou sayest. God recordeth what they plan by night. So oppose them and put thy trust in God. God is sufficient as Trustee. [4:81]
They may hide (their crimes) from men, but they cannot hide (them) from God, for He is with them (by His Knowledge), when they plot by night in words that He does not approve, And God ever encompasses what they do. [4:108]
And were it not for God’s grace upon you and His mercy a party of them had certainly designed to bring you to perdition and they do not bring (aught) to perdition but their own souls, and they shall not harm you in any way, and God has revealed to you the Book and the wisdom, and He has taught you what you did not know, and God’s grace on you is very great. [4:113]
O you who believe! Remember the Favour of God unto you when some people desired (made a plan) to stretch out their hands against you, but (God) withheld their hands from you. So fear God. And in God let believers put their trust. [5:11]
Satan’s plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of God, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain? [5:91]
Rothschild’s Reuters Pays Damages to Finsbury Park Mosque after Falsely Linking it to Terrorism*
Reuters news agency has agreed to pay damages to Finsbury Park Mosque in London after it wrongly claimed it was linked to terrorism.
Reuters admitted publishing a profile based on outdated reports on its global database – which caused banks to refuse to accept the mosque as a customer.
Finsbury Park Mosque had its account with HSBC closed in June 2014 after the Reuters report was published. In a letter, HSBC said:
“The provision of banking services… now falls outside of our risk appetite.”
Following the allegations made by Reuters, numerous other banks refused to accept the mosque as a customer.
The mosque’s management company was unaware of the profile report until it was drawn to its attention by the BBC a year after its bank account was closed on 20 June 2015.
Sara Monsoori, representing the company which now runs the mosque, said the mosque was the subject of profile reports which placed it in the “terrorism” category.
“This was wrong,” Ms Monsoori told deputy High Court judge Richard Parkes QC.
“The profile referred to press reports and allegations from many years ago, long before the mosque was re-organised and the claimant company was established.”
Reuters admitted its report “made the false allegation that there were grounds to suspect that the claimant had continued connections to terrorism.” It said those allegations had now been withdrawn.
Finsbury Park Mosque said in a statement:
“It is unacceptable that any organisation is able to designate people as terrorists on the basis of poor research and for those people to be labelled without any recourse to truth or justice.”
Jews give Muslims Key to their Synagogue after Town’s Mosque Burns Down*
The blaze destroyed the mosque in Victoria, Texas Victoria Islamic Center
Jewish people in a small Texas city handed Muslim worshippers the keys to their synagogue after the town’s only mosque was destroyed in a fire.
The Victoria Islamic Centre burned down on Saturday and had previously been burgled—the cause is being investigated by federal officials.
But the town’s Muslim population will not be without a place to worship while their building is reconstructed, thanks to their Jewish neighbours.
Robert Loeb, the president of Temple Bnai Israel, told Forward:
“Everyone knows everybody, I know several members of the mosque, and we felt for them. When a calamity like this happens, we have to stand together.
“We have probably 25 to 30 Jewish people in Victoria, and they probably have 100 Muslims. We got a lot of building for a small amount of Jews.”
One of the mosque’s founders, Shahid Hashmi, said:
“Jewish community members walked into my home and gave me a key to the synagogue.”
The centre was built in 2000.
Donations and an online fundraising campaign have raised more than $900,000 (£717,000) for reconstruction.
The blaze was discovered at about 2am on Saturday by a clerk at a convenience store, who called the fire department. It took around four hours to bring it under control and no injuries were reported.
The fire took place just hours after President Donald Trump announced he would ban citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., and halted the country’s refugee program for 120 days.
Omar Rachid, who created the GoFundMe campaign, said:
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the tremendous support we’ve received. The outpouring of love, kind words, hugs, helping hands and the financial contributions are examples of the true American spirit.”