The Ambassadors

As salam alaikum!

With our hijabs or beards donned, it is easy for anyone to recognise Muslims in public, and our neighbours or friends associate us with being ambassadors of Islam and they way we conduct ourselves is the way they see Islam. We cannot change that, so we must take the responsibility of being an ambassador and behave in a manner that shows the true spirit of Islam.

We have been taught with  example by the Prophet Muhammad SAW and commanded by Allah SWT in the Qur’an about the importance of good behaviour. Several times in the Qur’an, good habits and good behaviour is  stressed upon the Believers, and doing that can be as simple as greeting a brother!

The Qur’an and the examples of Prophet SAW have always required Muslims to respect others (and each other), to be honest, to fulfill promises, to have tolerance and forbearance and to be kind to living beings in order to be of  good akhlaq.

Believers, let not some men among you ridicule others: it may be that the latter are better than the former: nor should some women laugh at others: it may be that the latter are better than the former: do not defame or be sarcastic to each other, or call each other by offensive nicknames. How bad it is to earn an evil reputation after accepting the faith! (Surah al-Hujarat, verse 11)

The Prophet SAW was of such honest nature that he was known as as-Sadeeq and al-Ameen, and even his enemies did not deny that. When he spread the message of Islam, many said that he was mentally unstable or that he had been possessed but no one called him a liar since he never lied! And because of that virtue many also accepted Islam.

Despite the fact that nearly the entire city of Makkah was against him and his message, he was still good to his neighbours and asked the Believers to be so as well.

The Prophet Sallalahu alaihi wassalam, said: “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.’’ It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?’’ He said, “One whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil” (Sahih Bukhari).

In another Hadith it is narrated :

The Messenger of Allah, (Peace and blessings be upon him) says:” He is not a believer who eats his fill whilst his neighbour beside him goes hungry” (Sahih Bukhari).

The Prophet SAW was also exceedingly patient and never stumbled in the face of adversity even though he was thrust out of his home, lost so many who were dear to him, buried six of his children in his lifetime and was boycotted by the society.

We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. Give good news to those who endure with fortitude. (Surah al-Baqarah, verse 155)

Fulfilling one’s promises is another virtue which Islam teaches us, with Prophet SAW being the best example.

Keep your promises; you will be called to account for every promise which you have made. (Surah al-Isra’a verse 34)

It is narrated in a Hadith, the traits of a hypocrite or a Munafiq, who will receive the greatest punishment in Hell.

“Three traits single out a hypocrite, even if he prays or fasts and claims to be Muslim: If he speaks, he lies. If he makes a promise, he does not keep it. If he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Let us, as Muslims and ambassadors of Islam, try to imbibe these beautiful qualities of the Prophet SAW and follow the teachings of Qur’an. Insha Allah they will not only benefit us but also those around us, for in trying times like these we must strive to reflect the true spirit of Islam rather than what the mainstream media is doing to get paid.

Seek Allah’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble. (Surah al Baqarah, verse 45)

Thank you for reading!          


Health benefits of Fasting in Ramadan

[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.               (Q 2:184)

Medical benefits of Ramadan

Muslims do not fast because of medical benefits which are of a secondary nature. Fasting has been used by patients for weight management, to rest the digestive tract and for lowering lipids. There are many adverse effects of total fasting as well as of crash diets. Islamic fasting is different from such diet plans because in Ramadan fasting, there is no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake. The calorie intake of Muslims during Ramadan is at or slightly below the nutritional requirement guidelines. In addition, the fasting in Ramadan is voluntarily taken and is not a prescribed imposition from the physician.

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 learned during Ramadan, whether in terms of dietary intake or righteousness, are carried on after Ramadan, there effects will be long lasting. 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.

The difference between Ramadan and total fasting is the timing of the food; during Ramadan, we basically miss lunch and take an early breakfast and do not eat until dusk. Abstinence from water for 8 to 10 hours is not necessarily bad for health and in fact, it causes concentration of all fluids within the body, producing slight dehydration. The body has its own water conservation mechanism; in fact, it has been shown that slight dehydration and water conservation, at least in plant life, improve their longevity.

The physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension. In 1994 the first International Congress on “Health and Ramadan”, held in Casablanca, entered 50 extensive studies on the medical ethics of fasting. While improvement in many medical conditions was noted; however, in no way did fasting worsen any patients’ health or their baseline medical condition. On the other hand, patients who are suffering from sever diseases, whether type I diabetes or coronary artery disease, kidney stones, etc., are exempt from fasting and should not be allowed to fast.

There are psychological effects of fasting as well. There is a peace and tranquility for those who fast during the month of Ramadan. Personal hostility is at a minimum, and the crime rate decreases. Muslims take advice from the Prophet who said, “If one slanders you or aggresses against you, say I am fasting.”

This psychological improvement could be related to better stabilization of blood glucose during fasting as hypoglycemia after eating, aggravates behavior changes. There is a beneficial effect of extra prayer at night. This not only helps with better utilization of food but also helps in energy output. There are 10 extra calories output for each unit of the prayer. Again, we do not do prayers for exercise, but a mild movement of the joints with extra calorie utilization is a better form of exercise. Similarly, recitation of the Quran not only produces a tranquility of heart and mind, but improves the memory.

One of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan is called the night of power when angels descend down, and take the prayer of worship to God for acceptance.

Fasting is a special act of worship which is only between humans and God since no one else knows for sure if this person is actually fasting. Thus Muhammad ﷺ says in a hadith that “If one does not give up falsehoods in words and actions, God has no need of him giving up food and drink”.

Happy Ramadan to all