Archive for March, 2015

Still Dancing Upon the Ruins of Carthage

March 9, 2015

So when i was a bebbeh back in Dubai, we would go to the parks, where all sorts of things to climb and conquer lay before us in sandy islands dotted about in the lush manicured green grass seas.  Towering at least two, maybe three stories high, the main attraction was a steel pole a foot or so in diameter, from which a taut webbing of  thick red rope extended down in all directions, an unfinished tee-pee of a spider with giant fly dreams.  We would climb it endlessly, make it to the top, survey all the lands that now belonged to us, and then with a bit of bravery, wrap arms and legs around the pole and slide unfettered all the way down.  Then we’d climb right back up again.  Mountaineering for bebbehs, I suppose.

My exploration needed a destination and I heard that somehow this seemingly dangerous relic of the late 80s  still stood in Dubai, in Safa park.  Why not capture a bit of nostalgia on my way to re-discovering this city that I left behind now a quarter of a century ago?

Except when I got there, it was closed.  They told me it was for renovations.  Well.  Shit.

Fridays in Dubai.  All those wonderful weekends of our youth started on Fridays and we had the same request for every one of them.  Chicago Beach Hotel.  Five well mannered delinquents, we’d pile into our red Mercedes 250 , singing along innocently and nonsensically to the Lambada, growing ever more rambunctious as the salt sea air let us know we were getting closer without ever needing to ask if we were there yet.  What ever happened to the Chicago Beach Hotel then, Mr. Cabbie?  He had no idea what the hell I was talking about.

Well, shit.   Again.

At this point, the cab driver, instead of being annoyed, realized I had neither any idea what I was doing, nor had I any reasonable options other than his cab.   Being only my second day back in the country and my plans already skewered, I asked him for suggestions.  I was hungry and figured I should just head to a mall somewhere, so naturally I grabbed some McDonald’s while he pumped some gas.  Well, ok.

Next he took me to what he assumed was the beach I was talking about.  Driving past it, it quickly occurred to me that I didn’t really want to sit on empty beach in my jeans and t-shirt, eating fries while watching a few families romp around in their bathing suits.

At this point, the cabbie, thoroughly bemused by my misadventures, fully embraced his role as my personal tour guide.  A few different times already, he’d recommended Miracle Gardens based on my initial Safa park request.   Now he started peddling it like he was born there.  I had no idea what Miracle Gardens were, but they sounded like somewhere I could possibly relax and eat, so I relented.  Off we went.

Now a quick word about me, I am in the extreme minority in that I am a man almost entirely indifferent to flowers.  I’m well aware  that most men can spend years in aromatic fields of lilies and daffodils, but I have to confess, my interest in flowers piques only in those rare moments when I am delivering them to a pretty woman, and even then, I am more interested in their effect than in the flowers themselves.  All of these eccentricities I suspect I should have explained to my cabbie immediately upon entering his cab.  This was my failing.  As a result, there I stood, one man alone, outside of Miracle Gardens, armed with a bag of McDonald’s.

Now for those of you that don’t know what Miracle gardens are, imagine some sort of flower heaven you’d take your significant other to, largely to take mushy, lovey-dovey pictures.  I guess I have expressed my love for fast food and burgers on occasion, so I suppose it was appropriate.  Except I wasn’t allowed to take the food in.

Well, shit, yet again.  Sorry, love.

Almost immediately, the guards asked me quite conversationally what the hell I was doing there and then laughed and laughed as I told them about my tour guide.  Bastards.  Friendly, though.  I had no other choice really at this point, so I started walking around, pretending quite ably that I was some fancy photographer with a smartphone.  It was mostly newlyweds and old couples, with the occasional family, but as I made my way around the grounds, there was a lovely European woman that approached me.  So not too bad.  “Where was the bathroom?” she asked me.  Oh, right, even though I wasn’t in a uniform, it only made sense that a lone guy walking around was probably the head gardener or something.  That way, Miss.  And please do let those guards over there know if the restroom is satisfactory.  We hope you enjoy your visit.

At this point, the misadventure needed a close, I grabbed a cab, asked him to turn up the a/c and to just take me to the Dubai Mall please.  I sat in the back pensively looking out the window and that’s finally when the nostalgia hit me.  Vast yellow expanses, pockmarked with those dry, hardy bushes – the desert was still the same.  And just as before, it was as uninhabitably comforting, best viewed from a traversing vessel, as the sea to a sailor.  Finally, some small vestige of my childhood had survived. So I started to take a video of it

… except my battery was dead.


Establishing prayer (Aqamatus-Salaah)

March 5, 2015

Prayers stop one from sins.  What encompasses–Zikr Allah (remembrance)

We Muslims repeatedly use this word—Aqamatus-Salaah—-in everyday life. I would, therefore, try to explain, in the light of Qura’an and Sunnah, what it really means. In the second line of the caption, there are two additional concepts/questions, which emerge as an organic or logical consequence of prayer. These would also be explained to make the concept of establishment of prayer comprehensively understood and benefitting. These explanations would also clear some misconception developed by repeatedly reading in-part text of the Holy Qura’an—-which though with accurate translation—do not convey full understanding due to fragmentation.                                         Thus misconception/wrong understanding gets developed.(such as, Prayer stops one from sins).

Establishing the prayer

By employing all manners and mores, inwardly and outwardly, exactly the way Prophet did. Isolating one from all worldly thoughts and affairs while standing before Allah (SWT) in perfect veneration, nothing in between the one praying and his/her Lord, addressing Him directly (without any medium).

Outwardly mores:-Cleanliness of body, clothes, place of offering the prayer and in-congregation.

Inwardly mores:-Standing in fear of Allah, with humility* in a manner as if begging from Him.

Those who establish prayers in this fashion Allah may grace them with treading the right path.

Prayers performed without full etiquette observed would, according to juristic rulings, be considered permissible but short of being established. The blessings, therefore, would also be reduced proportionately or may even be lost completely.

Question-What if someone, despite praying accordingly, may not tread the right path?

In this regard there are two ahadith and one saying of Ibn-Abbas (R.A); which are elucidations of Surah Al Ankabut, verse 45 of Qura’an “”Innis salata tanha anil fahshae wal munkare…….””  Prophet (PBUH) in hadith 1-said—if prayer does not stop one from sins his prayer is nothing. In hadith 2-said—it is the obedience of the prayer which keeps one from sins. In Saying 3-Ibn- Abbas (R.A) said—if one’s prayer does not stop from sins would push him rather farther from Allah.

These explanations point to the fact that prayers offered have a flaw(s)—for not being effective—which need to be addressed. (All requisite conditions must be fulfilled for one to reap the benefits).

Prayer does forbid from sins and shamelessness but people do not take up the advice earnestly, hence the prayer remains from being properly—ESTABLISHED.

Best described in a Hadith,

“when the sweetness of Iman get settles in one’s heart then all parts of his body start relishing its taste in the acts of worship”

Qura’an and Ahadith, in a similar way, forbid one from sins and shamelessness yet everyone do not take the advice earnestly, therefore, continue committing sins. The reason for this anomaly is that the verse cited above is not of an injunctive but of an advisory character. Therefore for Qura’an, Ahadith and Prayer to be effective not only the required conditions have to be met, but also with the grace and will of Allah, one may get rid of sins and shamelessness. Insha-Allah.  

 Zikr (remembrance) of Allah

Verse 45 also reads:-Wala zikrullaho akbaro wallaho ya’alamo ma tasnaoon? –It means:-and indeed remembrance of Allah is the greatest, and Allah knows what you do. It could also be said that the remembrance, including prayers, is the greatest. Another sense may also prevail, as elucidated in another verse (2:152) Faz kurooni Az kur kum—-which means—remember me I will remember you–a Huge favor by Allah—witnessed by angels. In the light of the above verses, it can safely be deduced that abstinence from sins and shamelessness, as a consequence of prayers or otherwise remembrance while complying with inwardly and outwardly mores and manners is yet

Contingent upon the will and grace along-with auspiciousness (a huge favor showered) of Allah.

To sum up there are 3 constituents of a perfectly established fully-beneficial prayer.

1) Compliance with inwardly & outwardly mores and manners. 2) Grace & will of Allah.                                  3) Allah remembering you.

*Humility—here tantamount to—Khushu & Khuzu—which are important constituents desired in any Ibadah—BUT—are not mandatory. For the simple reason that these are beyond human control and, like guidance and admittance into paradise,  are also dependent on His absolute will & grace, so could be granted to whomsoever He may.


Prayer can be offered as due on time (Ada 

Given the legitimate compulsions; one can perform Zuhr and Asar, Maghrib and Isha together. (even in reverse order) these would be Ada prayers as due on time. 

When you feel composed (at peace/contented), then keep up the prayer; surely the prayer has been a timed prescription (Literally: book) for the believers. (Q, 4:103) 

 One can shorten/curtail either of the prayers in case of a time-related emergency, except Fajar, to 2 Rakah. (-Kasar/jama) 

If one gets overwhelmed by the urgency of circumstances, such as sleep, forgetfulness, duress etc. one should offer the missed prayer immediately or at the first available chance.  In this case, any of the above prayers offered will not be Qaza but Ada; As due on time. (H)  

One, if and when compelled/in danger, can offer the prayer even walking, riding an animal or a vehicle.  

“In an emergency, one may say his prayers while walking or riding” (Q, 2:239) 

Neglect or sin is committed when one is awake, in senses and free to act on his own volition. Not when sleeping, out of senses (mistaken due to wrong understanding) or under duress. 

One restrained by genuine circumstances. who offers his prayers before the upcoming “fajr” prayer time, would have performed his “mandatory-daily-five-prayers” in the broader sense of the time-frame.

Wasting/defaulting the prayer. 

In the exegeses of verse 19:59 exegetes have tried to stretch the words/views of several companions (without any acceptable authority or apparent logical reasoning) to fit their own, making the prayers performed after the time as wasted/lost. 

In my humble understanding, it contradicts the Sunnah and Hadith. Prophet mixed Zuhr and Asar, Maghrib and Isha; which discounts the above offered exegetical view. Quoted hereunder is an abridged Hadith also to highlight the point. 

Hadith narrated by Abu Mas’ud Ansari, quoted in Tirmazi. 

“A prayer is lost when “Aqamah/Qiyam”(standing upright) is not observed; before and after the “ruku’u” bowing down and “Sujda” prostration and sitting properly and adequately in between the “suju’ud” prostrations. Improper Ablution may also nullify one’s prayer.

(May Allah forgive me for any shortcomings or lapses).


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