Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ramadan Woes

I find that a lot of people each year are losing the essence of Ramadan. It's becoming more and more 'fun' and 'traditional' rather than a moving spiritual experience and focusing on self discipline and reflection. This year I've seen it more than ever!

Iftar get togethers are more about (girls mainly) getting glammed up and cooking so much food that half is wasted at the end of the night. I've spoken to several people who didn't even fast that day just to taste the food properly and make sure that it was just perfect.

The barakah of suhoor and iftar are lost with all these extravagant meals which fall into salah time making people pray Fajr and Maghrib a good 20 minutes late!

For some reason, there are some people who think, at the most, praying only Fajr and Maghrib is necessary and they neglect the other prayers of the day. That's not to forget those who don't pray all day and then bust their feet for 2 hours at taraweeh salah!

For many tweens, their parents allow them to go to the masjid and act like taraweeh is one big playdate/get together with all their friends they don't usually see on a daily basis. It is nice to see these people all together in one place, but come on, keep the socialization to a minimum please!

Sisters have been acting very beastly (for lack of better words.. =) )when the masjid kitchen door is left open and there is iftar food left there. Just the other day I saw a woman using a high heeled show trying to break a lock on a closet to find bowls to pack biryani and kheer in. What's sad is that they KNOW this food is left behind for the brothers in 'itikaaf! "It's so much food, what difference does it make if we take some!" Stop acting like you didn't eat before you got to the masjid or have empty cupboards at home!

While at the masjid one night a girl complained to me that her mother is planning to drag her and her siblings out to what is called 'shabeena'. Some masaajid do this, where basically they complete the entire Qur'an in qiyaamul layl within 3 nights. So unlike taraweeh which is 1 juz per night, this is 10 juzzes (I can't remember the plural in Arabic.. haha) that they try to complete between taraweeh and suhoor time. Last year I went by for the first time to see what it was like and saw most of the women chilling in the kitchen chomping away on goodies that were made for the nightlong stay, while kids ran around with bloodshot eyes like maniacs. They needed sleep, but because their friends were there they went bonkers chasing one another and beating their friends. Smaller children laid on the cold tiles asleep, being jumped over by bigger kids and waking up on and off from the loud noise. What sucked was that a lot of these kids still had to go to school in the morning! It bothered me that a lot of these women were hanging out and not even praying, yet inconveniecing their children and wrecking their sleeping pattern, for what? And for those who were praying, I know myself that praying in the masjid is much more motivating than at home.... but why drag them out like that if you know they won't be comfortable or will be causing trouble? As a mother your priority are your children and making decisions that are best for them, especially when it pertains to something you could be doing at home. It's a sacrifice that has to be made until the children become older.

This is one though that I haven't seen until this year. One day while going for Jumu'ah salah I saw someones van pass by blasting Indian music, the following night I heard someone listening to R&B or something while looking for parking outside the masjid. Seriously...? Just last night I went to an iftar and girls were talking about the latest song and how much they liked it and what artist was better looking than the other. When it was time to break our fast we weren't sure if it was the correct time, a girl proceeded to put the date to her mouth and her friend said "NO 5 MORE MINUTES! " The girl stuffed the date in her mouth "5 minutes only, does it really make a difference... I'm so hungry!" Uhmm...?! What's going on?!

Unfortunately I think there will never be a Ramadan free of these things but we can try and make sure we aren't involved in these oddities. I'm not trying to say I'm perfect, there was a time when I probably did most of these things. But the difference lies in changing once you learn you're doing something wrong, whereas some change and others ignore their duties. Allah help us all, I still can't believe Ramadan is near to done! =(

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Helping Young Burn Victims, The Al-Ghaithi Family

I feel as though I've posted this in 51 different places (which I most likely have!) but I am currently working on a sadaqah project and felt obliged to fill you all in, and hopefully you choose to get involved.

About a year ago a Yemeni family suffered from a natural gas explosion in their apartment, just two weeks after moving in. Wife and mother, Alouf, died as a result, leaving behind her husband and four badly burned daughters. They were all in the hospital and just about a month ago the eldest was released. Finally the family is all together and just moved out of a homeless shelter into a new home. The girls' grandmother came from Yemen to help Brother Rassas (their father, and her son) with the girls. As you can imagine having four ill/disabled/recovering girls under the age of six is a burdening task. 3 1/2 year old Lina is now blind as a result of the fire, and her eldest sister Duaa lost three fingers and wears a nylon compression suit 23 hours a day to reduce scarring on her body which was 60% burned. She had to learn to roll, sit, walk, eat, speak and even breathe normally all over again during her stay at the hospital, subhanAllah.

I was shocked to read Brother Rassas was ONLY 29 years old, subhanAllah. When my husband and I went to visit him and his daughters at the hospital I knew he was young, but not that young. Clearly the grief and worry has aged him physically and I cannot imagine everything going through his mind, on top of that he is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. He needs to find a job, his mothers visa is up in November and he is yet to know if she will be allowed to stay. Who will look after the girls if he is at work and she must return to Yemen? They receive nurse visits everyday and have frequent visits to the hospital, some of them have several surgeries they will have to undergo in the future. They lost everything and have to start from scratch, I cannot imagine how many bills have piled up for Br. Rassas, and what not. Nevertheless, right off the bat I saw he was a humble and softspoken brother the day we visited him. He was filled with joy and was excited to take us from room to room in the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit to see his daughters. He would walk in the kiss them on the head, showing us pictures of how they looked before the blast. It was so difficult to look at the small body laying helplessly on the hospital bed with tubes coming from every possible place, her body covered in vaseline to prevent her burnt skin from drying out, her eyes were closed. "No see," Br. Rassas told us in his poor English, pointing to Lina's eyes. At that point, she had just had her 3rd birthday.


So far my husband and I have collected about $1,1oo.00 for them. We will continue to take donations until the 26th of this month, as we would like to give them this gift for Eid, give or take a day or two. We've received donations from people as big as $200 and as small as $5, even pocket change is acceptable. Just think how much we can gather if people even give just $1. I don't see why people should be ashamed to give that, I would feel ashamed to give nothing.

This is the perfect time, Ramadan, to purify our intentions and do what we can to help the Ummah. This is a family who have no one else to turn to and have been, walhamdulillah, receiving donations from non-Muslims. What about the Muslims? What about the Ummah reaching out to each other? Here is our brother in need, our young sisters learning to cope without the loss of their mother and with new challenges ahead, and we couldn't even give a few dollars to ease their burden? I urge each of you who read this to please give any small amount that you can, and don't just stop there... tell whoever you know. If you tell 20 people and you all give $1, that's $20 right there mashaAllah. We can easily raise a good amount for them inshaAllah.

So what can you do?

First off, if you have any questions or comments, you can email me at lazeena.hosain[AT]yahoo[DOT]com. If you feel this is a little shady, there are people right here on blogger who can inshaAllah vouch for me and HOPEFULLY my trustworthyness =P If not, I can send you their lawyers information and you can send a donation through them. I would hope you would trust the Muslim more though!

Anywho, here are your options:

A) Mail a check to me or a money order, if you email me I will send you my address

B) Send a donation via payal, which is under the same email address I wrote above

C) Send a donation through Western Union

If you think of any other possibility, by all means, let me know. And again, please don't feel lame giving even $2, seriously, it means something. This is an investment in your aakhirah inshaAllah and fulfilling your duties towards your brothers and sisters in need.

And most importantly, please do not forget to keep them in your du'as! If you get involved don't worry, I will keep you updated via email, here, or on facebook, if I have you added, on the status of the project and how much is being collected.

May Allah accept your intentions and actions this Ramadan and foreverrr! AMEEN!
JazakumAllahu khayran

Oh, and please check out this news clip of when Duaa was released from the hospital! :

Article with more detailed information:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ramadan around the World!

An Iranian man buys special sweets called 'zulbia' and 'bamieh' in a pastry shop in Tehran last year. Iran has shut down more than 200 eateries and warned 26,000 people for violating a ban on eating and offering food before sunset during Ramadan, Iran's deputy police chief has said

A Palestinian walks past an arranged Iftar meal, a meal breaking the fast during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, at a mosque in Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus

A Kashmiri Muslim woman licks the walls [??!!?!?!?!!], as she prays inside the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Sheikh Hamza Makhdoom, commonly known as Sultan-Ul-Arifeen during holy month of Ramadan, in Srinagar, India

A Bosnian baker prepares traditional breads for Iftar

A Palestinian man prays outside the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif

A Palestinian Muslim girl looks out from her family house which is decorated with festive lights

Bangladeshi boatmen offer prayer during Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, as others wait for passengers in flooded Munshigonj district, 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Monday, Sept. 8, 2008. Thousands of villagers have been displaced due to floods in northern Bangladesh

An Indonesian chef makes a finishing touch on a giant replica of a mosque made of chocolate at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Sept. 8, 2008. The 5-meter (16.4 feet) tall chocolate mosque was made of 200 kilograms (441 lbs.) of chocolate

Jordan's King Abdullah prepares to kiss the Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, or black stone, as he performs the Umrah

An Iraqi baker prepares sweets for iftar

A Palestinian woman walks near the controversial Israeli barrier as she crosses a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Bethlehem

A newly released prisoner greets a relative as US troops look on in Al-Rashid, south of Baghdad, February 2008. The US military has said it plans to free 3,000 detainees held in Iraq during the month of Ramadan, taking the number of those released so far this year to more than 15,000

An Israeli border police officer gestures to a Palestinian Muslim family while they wait to cross at the Israeli army checkpoint at Kalandiya, between Ramallah and Jerusalem, Friday, Sept. 5, 2008. Around 90,000 Muslims congregated in Jerusalem for the first Friday prayers of the holy month of Ramadan

A Palestinian Muslim worshipper is backdropped by the Russian Orthodox Church

Workers dry vermicelli, a specialty eaten during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad