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In the Name of God بسم الله
  1. Darth Vader

    Darth Vader

  2. Yasmin P

    Yasmin P

  3. eloquence

    eloquence

  4. Haji 2003

    Haji 2003

  5. AnotherShepherd

    AnotherShepherd

  • Latest Blog Entries

    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         2
      Maryam's school is super laid back. This year Abbas started in Year 7 (equivalent to Middle school in the US?, @Hameedeh help), at the age of 11.
      They get a school planner and I found these pages. I've been told the school has a great atmosphere and the kids really love it, and perhaps the written bureaucracy is just to scare them, but whoever put it together is on a real power trip. I think.
      Kids are supposed to set SMART targets for themselves and then self-assess. I work with managers in reasonably responsible positions who don't know how to set SMART targets!

      And these are a FEW of the criteria for discipline, there are three pages of this.

      They record when a kid goes to a toilet in a lesson:

    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
         4
      It's taken me nearly 15 years to get to 10,000 posts, so I thought I'd post something special.
      I remember the cold. I think it was the first time in my life that keeping warm was a struggle. Shafts of cold air channelled in through a train not designed to keep it out. Arriving at Amritsar station, there was some relief. I remember the shouts of ‘garam chai’ (hot tea) rising above the cacophony of engines, whistles, and general yells. This trip was the first time that I was allowed to drink tea. At home in London, tea was an adult’s drink, and there simply had been no occasion or need to drink it. Here at Amritsar station, in Indian Punjab, during the middle of the night, I was allowed to drink the strong, sugary hot tea and eat the hard-boiled eggs that the hawkers were selling. It was only many years later that I appreciated the business nous of selling hard-boiled eggs. Pre-packaged and ready to eat, what could be easier for a hawker to sell? 
      Some years later standing in the cold in the school playground would help me appreciate all the more as I read of Ivan Denisovich’s battles against hunger and cold in Solzhenitsyn’s account of life in a Soviet gulag. And many years later still this way of experiencing the novel would prompt me to encourage my daughter to read Denisovich’s account while she was fasting for Ramadan.
      Standing on the platform with my snacks, amongst the flow of passengers and porters, I took in the destination signs on the different trains, heading off to distant parts of a sub-continent. Perhaps my diminutive 10-year-old perspective added to the perceived size of the place; I would not be surprised. The porters wore a uniform, after a fashion. For each one of them, the acquisition of a customer provided a sense of purpose and superiority of status which would be underlined by rearranging their head-covering to better protect themselves from the luggage that would soon be loaded on top. On this trip, I was just a spectator to the rituals of engaging porters. When old enough to be a participant, I’d find it a difficult balance between exploiting and being exploited. 
      At last, it was time to get back in the train and cover myself as best I could with an assortment of clothes, waiting for the morning to bring some respite. Some mornings were awesome, the rising rays of sunshine spread across green fields, punctuated by trees and seemingly in rhythm with the regular beat of the wheels on the track. At some point, I’d have to go to the toilet, which was a balancing act of the toothbrush, toothpaste and some attempt at washing and keeping my distance from the ubiquitous hole in the floor.
      At first, I had distanced myself from the perceived filth of the train and had tried to keep myself to as small an area as possible. But as the hours passed my comfort zone expanded until I was even comfortable lying full stretch on the wooden slats of the third-class benches. As the miles passed the squalor, even that of the toilet, was no longer alien but something to which I had become habituated. Though I still haven’t managed to achieve the level of equanimity displayed by a fellow airline passenger who went into the toilet barefoot. As someone else commented on this practice, the liquid on the floor isn’t water.
      Safety was and still is a distant concept when it comes to Indian railways, best observed by the person at risk. In both my childhood travel and in recent times safety seems to lie, for example, in keeping your distance from the open door of the railway carriage. As a 30-year-old on a train from Chennai to Hyderabad and no parent to hold me back, I was able to lean out to take videos and photos to rekindle childhood memories of fleeting Indian railway stations. The observation stimulated the same sense of passing through and catching the moment in local lives. What I was not able to recapture in a photo was the rising dawn that I had observed in my childhood journey. 
      On that childhood trip, I had brought a couple of books with me, which I still remember. There was ‘Tarka the Otter’ and Joy Adamson’s ‘Home Free’. I can’t remember which one was more boring, but Tarka does stand out as being particularly good for being interrupted by the least remarkable scenery outside. The same can’t be said for the novel I discovered at our destination in Lucknow. Our host had a copy of ‘War of the Worlds’ the title itself was captivating and the story engrossing. I remember sitting in various locations of the house working my way through the invasion.
      A few years before this train trip, aged six, I had seen a book titled ‘War and Peace’ sitting on another relative’s bookshelf in London and that also seemed to suggest excitement within. I wasn’t there long enough to pick it up, but a few years after the Indian trip, when I was about 14 I made a point about buying the novel but the enthusiasm stimulated by the title was very, very quickly dimmed by the story within. I decided to grind down the story by reading a page a day. It took a couple of years, but I managed to finish it. 
      ‘War of the Worlds’ was the starting point, since then I’ve come to associate books with the places where I read them: Sterling Seagrave’s, ‘Dragon Lady’ accompanied me on a trip to Singapore and provided the incentive to visit China. 
      Aged 17, I was transiting between two Paris metro stations, on a trip to Aix-en-Provence when a kindly gentleman took pity on me and helped me with my overweight suitcase containing Lipsey’s tome ‘Positive Economics’. Amongst other books, this would be entirely superfluous to my needs at the French language summer course I was about to attend. Even in adulthood, I have never quite managed to balance taking on travels work-related things that I would use as opposed to those I might regret not having brought with me. Laptops and cloud storage have meant that that personal deficiency no longer has to be addressed.
      This had been a unique trip in some different ways. My mother was a widow, and we did not have a great deal of money. I hadn’t been abroad between the ages of 5 and 10. But travelling third class on Indian railways and staying with relatives wherever we went meant that this trip was fairly affordable. So, it was not unreasonable that my mother was not too impressed with what took place when we arrived at the border crossing between India and Pakistan sometime earlier. 
      When we got off the train for the immigration check, there was a French lady in front of us, and she and my mother started speaking. Quite proudly my mother presented me as someone who could speak French. The unexpectedness and ambition of the challenge meant that I was completely dumbstruck. For a good few hours to follow, I’d hear my mother’s lament about how much she had paid for a French Linguaphone course for me, which was well beyond our means. I had assured her that this would be a great aid to my linguistic efforts, the advertisement promised as much, and I had waited with great anticipation for its arrival. Finally, one day there was a brown rectangular package waiting for me outside our house. But for a 10-year-old to master the use of the different texts and develop some semblance of a study plan was quite an ambition and one for which my abilities and self-discipline fell seriously short. 
      There must have been a subconscious notion that the pursuit of academic endeavours would give access to budgets otherwise unavailable. A few years later I’d decide that photography O’level would offer a greater chance of scholastic success. Once more I was lured in by a mixture of an economy with the truth by the people promoting the offering and my imaginative willingness to fill in the blanks. First, there was a need to buy an SLR camera, and as time passed it became obvious that the necessary skills to process photos could not be acquired in the few minutes, I’d have to be in front of the enlarger at school every week. An investment in a darkroom became a necessity. This time self-discipline wasn’t needed to drive study. I had discovered a subject for which I had a passion. I’d end up spending many happy hours in the darkroom, well past midnight channelling Diane Arbus and Cartier Bresson. By the time a school trip to the Soviet Union took place, I was reasonably competent and still have some of the photos of that visit. 
      Looking back, both the camera and the Soviet trip itself seemed like a judicious investment in an unrepeatable experience, a few years later the USSR would cease to exist. This lesson in political upheaval was to prove particularly useful before a trip with my wife and kids to Syria. My brother had borrowed my video camera and forgotten to return it, and the realisation only came in the departure lounge at Heathrow. Buying a video camera specifically for one trip seemed like an extravagance, but soon afterward the civil war broke out. I have clips of my daughter walking amongst a temple to the Phoenician god Melquart, I wonder whether ISIS have left it standing?
      For the India trip, in contrast, there was no camera at all. As I had left London, I had been given a compact camera, which refused to show any sign of working for the duration of the trip and which it had not been possible to repair either. So, I have no tangible images of the entire trip. Whether that has forced me to try harder to remember over the years or whether I have become better at embellishing the details, I don’t know. I do know that on one review I have left on Tripadvisor, I have commented that the prohibition on taking cameras into a particular museum means that visitors are more likely to pay attention to the exhibits in their own right rather than as fodder for an Instagram feed. 
      From Lucknow, we went to my mother’s ancestral home in Fatehpur. We drove through the potholed roads of Uttar Pradesh, slowed even further by overladen agricultural traffic. We arrived in the evening, and all I could sense was that we entered a courtyard and then another. This was quite different to any home I had visited previously. Morning brought a much better sense of the place. The hallmark of the building was its twin towers, installed a couple of hundred years previously, with permission from the rulers of Awadh, since they were considered a mark of royalty and my maternal ancestor’s position as a tutor to the princely household earned him the favour to use them. These rose above the building and the surrounding town. Beneath them was the building’s mosque entered through several large wooden doors, several steps then led to a large courtyard at the other end of which was a narrow staircase leading to some apartments on the first floor. The men of the family had offices cum bedrooms on the ground floor of the courtyard, and their families slept in apartments on the first floor. Any tangible evidence of conjugal relations, such as a couples’ double bed was considered impolite. There were also apartments on the ground floor. To the right of the towers was the entrance to the building and beyond that the disused stables, a further courtyard and then the exit to the main street of the town.
      In Fatehpur, there were no books, or indeed television, but there was exploring the building, listening to stories, fishing and staring at a night sky whose lights I had never previously seen in such profusion. Frustratingly, the shot guns could only be seen and not touched, in fact, I wasn’t allowed to use the air gun. Even the fishing wasn’t with actual rods, but the sensation of the lightness of a short stick with a bait at the end being replaced with the sensation of something tugging at the end of a line remains vivid.
      Exploring the old building would be an experience for someone who had lived in a terraced house all his life. Playing cricket in its central square meant that we had room for both wickets and the ability to run between them, while back in London the garden lawn barely stretched a couple of metres and in our London suburb kids just didn’t play on the street. And then there was the dungeon. Like quite a bit of what we were to experience the name or prior description didn’t quite live up to schoolboy expectations. The Urdu word they all used was ‘mahal’ as in Taj Mahal, but you could hardly describe it as a palace. The dungeon itself was no more threatening than a basement room.  
      The family mahal stood in contrast to the Taj that we had visited on a side-trip while staying in Delhi with an uncle. The sense of serenity reflected off the colour and curves remains in my mind. The sound track no longer remains, perhaps the size of the place drowned out the chattering throngs. The image is now distilled from the range of different perspectives: the head-on view as captured by those photographers who pictured Princess Diana in the foreground, to my standing under the columns staring up and being up close to the marble.
      While the Taj was glorious enough to represent the nation and thus rose above its religious and ethnic antecedents, this was not the case with the family mahal. The condition of this modest building perfectly reflected the state of the community it housed: elegant decrepitude with only a memory of former glories. While the building’s statelier past was visible from the remnants of the structure, so the stories passed by each generation reminded subsequent ones of the lifestyle they had been denied because of opportunities missed and talents wasted. 
      Such was the problem they were facing that even acts of renovation seemed like destruction, where older styles of building work and decoration were replaced with more functional and cheaper modern ones. My youthful displeasure at the erasure of history would later be tempered by a more mature realisation of the practicalities of habitat when I had the chimney breasts and fireplaces of my Victorian house removed to create more space. 
      Occasionally the person who had hosted us in Lucknow would visit. He was a local politician and would arrive in a stately Ambassador car or even more excitingly a ‘jeep’. Not an eponymous one of course, but I still remember the fact that it had gun racks. Both that vehicle and the Ambassador were made in India. This was India before trade liberalisation. Not as familiar a place as the Pakistan we had travelled through to get here. Pakistan had the welcome familiarity of brands that I had grown up with; the ketchup was Heinz and the coke a recognisably friendly white swoosh on a red background. Billboard and television advertising was reassuring. Here unfamiliar names came across as peculiar. Why would a cola be called ‘Thums Up?’. 
      Such has been the irony of globalisation that a few weeks ago eating at Dishoom restaurant in London’s East End I saw the Thums Up logo once more. A symbol of rejecting western capitalism had itself become a brand, with a consumerist meaning, evoking a carbonated essence of India. 
      Like all children of Asian immigrants on visits to their parents’ country of origin, I was also overwhelmed with the extensivity and density of familial connections. There were first cousins, second cousins, and quite a lot more complicated combinations, for which there are no words in English. Added to this, a matriarchal aunt could also be a cousin. My wife came up with a novel way of explaining one such relationship to me. “If that aunt were Mary Queen of Scots, your mum would be Elizabeth I”. Indeed, an artefact of such complex and inter-related ties was the obvious existence of rivalries, jealousies, and squabbles spanning generations. In England, my younger brother and I had been protected from this aspect of extended family life. The protection came at a price: we didn’t know how to deal with it at all. At the age of 10 this did not matter, but on future visits, it would become more significant and certainly by the time my brother and I reached marriageable age. For the time being, it was just nice that as I wandered from apartment to apartment in the mahal, everyone I met was a relative and I was too young to understand any political dimension of that relationship. It would also be in subsequent visits to the mahal, when I was older, that I’d appreciate the tensions with the communities who lived outside the mahal.
      On my daily walks, I’d see hand powered sewing machines and food being prepared more laboriously than anything I had seen at home. The dirt floor did not afford the comfort of sitting cross legged and sitting on my haunches was not something my leg muscles were prepared for. Unlike the urban homes, I had come across in the sub-continent, the toilet here was a platform raised above the multi-coloured offerings beneath. So large was the place that any smells remained distant from any other rooms.
      The cold had not left us in Fatehpur. At night, they would light braziers which were wonderful for bringing around family members, sitting together on the Indian style wooden beds, sharing each other’s warmth, stories and gossip. 
       
       
       
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      Next year, inshallah, Maryam takes her GCSE exams in the United Kingdom, those are taken at 16 years of age.
      Just a heads up for anyone else with kids/relatives of that age. I have been looking at the websites of the exam boards for her different subjects. Googling the name of the board, the subject and the year of the exam will usually get you to the right page.
      There are a lot of free resources they offer, e.g. subject specifications and examiner commentaries. The latter are very useful to get an idea where students typically make mistakes, for example and to understand what examiners are looking for.
      Kids/parents who are at better schools with more clued up teachers may likely not need to do all this themselves. But although Maryam's school is pretty good, there's no harm in using those specification books for example to keep an eye on progress.
    • By shuaybi in Ahlul Bayt Mission
         3
      Needless to say, before we can perform our duty against bid'ah, the pre-requisite step is to be able to see and identify it. How many people are aware of the dangers of bid'ah but due to lack of understanding are nevertheless a victim of it. The reason is that bid'ah is extremely deceptive - it is disguised as a praiseworthy act that promises to earn abundant reward for the performer and bring him closer to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام). The deception is increased because we see each and every Shia around us performing these acts. To add to this, the popular scholars keep promoting bid'ah as their standing and livelihood depends on it. 
      It is sad to say that bid'ah has been so strongly established in the Shia religion that the actions performed under it are now considered to be pillars and foundation of religion. Anyone who dares speak against these actions risks being ridiculed and ostracized. If a Shia were to give up all the innovations practiced in the name of religion, he would find himself isolated, cut-off and lonely. But such is the path on which a true Shia must tread in order to prove his loyalty to Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام).
      Please refer to our previous two articles on bid'ah:
          Definition and Scope of Bid’ah
          Dangers of Bid’ah

      Scholars must speak against bid'ah

      We must disassociate from the people of bid'ah
      Below is a very strong hadith that highlights the danger of bid'ah.

      Aabid vs Aalim

      An Aalim abolishes bid'ah because of his knowledge of the hadith. His knowledge leads him to limit his actions to those dictated by the Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام) and will never overstep the defined boundaries. Of all the popular speakers today who are quick to jump on to the Mimbar, how many are true Aalims as defined by Ahlul Bayt (عليه السلام)?
      (Also published on blog: https://ahlulbaytmission.org/2019/08/24/our-duty-against-bidah/)
    • By ShiaMan14 in Random Thoughts of ShiaMan14
         3
      Salaam,
      I had the privilege and honor of going to Umrah a few weeks ago. Having completed my hajj in 2010, it was time to pay Hijaz another visit to pay my respects to the Prophet (saw) and his progeny in Madinah and visit the House of Allah in Makkah.
      Hopefully the pointers below will help anyone planning on going for Umrah.
      First, if you haven't been to Saudi before, it is best to go with a registered group. It will make things easier for you because other than following instructions, there shouldn't be much to worry about..Also, if you don't speak arabic or urdu/hindi/bengali, then it would be better to go with a registered group because language can be an issue in some places.
       Anyway, I decided to go with my family instead of a group. The primary hurdle in going to Saudi is getting a visa. These are things to remember:
      We had to apply to a local consulate but individual travelers cannot apply on their own. The visa application has to be submitted through an authorized travel agency. Even though the Umrah visa is free, these agencies charge between $175 - $200 per person for visa. Also, note that you can only apply within 30 days of going for umrah. You need to buy non-refundable return tickets before applying. The other mandatory requirement is to get a meningitis vaccination. CVS, Walgreens or RediClinic can do this without a prescription. Without insurance, it will cost between $150-$200. Get the vaccination record from the Pharmacy and submit it with your application. Common sense would dictate that you buy your tickets once visa approval is obtained but not in this case. Visa application usually takes about 1 week to process...might take longer during busy times. Next decision is where to fly in/out from. If you decide to go to Makkah first, you will have to fly into Jeddah. Since Jeddah is inside the meeqat***, you will have to wear your ihram from the point of origin. So we chose to fly into Madinah first.
      I would recommend either Turkish Airlines or Emirates. We flew Emirates from the US. We had a 5 hour layover in Dubai so we went out of the airport and had a nice dinner. US Citizens do not need a visa for Dubai (UAE).Came back to the airport around 11p for our 105a flight to Medinah.
      Day One:
      We arrived in Madinah around 345a, got out of the airport by 445a. Since we were not part of a group, I made arrangements transportation arrangements with or hotel. It took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel right next to Masjid Al-Nabawi (Mosque of the Holy Prophet).
      We stayed at Hotel Pullman Zamzam Madinah. Fantastic 5* hotel with great rooms and awesome breakfast. The only downside to the hotel is that it is on the opposite end of the Ladies entrance to the mosque so it took the ladies about 15 minutes to walk to the mosque. The hotel did provide a shuttle service for women at regular intervals.
      After checking-in, we took a quick shower and made our way to the Mosque just in time for Fajr - individual, not jama'ah.


      After every salah every day, the Saudis open Jana'at Al-Baqi for an hour or so. Much to my surprise, the Saudis were fairly relaxed in letting people get in, recite dua/ziarat albeit quietly and even take pictures.
      Imam Hasan (as), Imam Sajjad (as), Imam Al-Baqar and Imam Al-Sadiq are buried here.


      If I am not mistaken, I think Hz Umm-al-baneen is buried where I have drawn the red circle:

      Went back to our hotel around 7am. We ate breakfast and finally went to bed after a 24 hours journey.
      We woke up around 3pm and went to the Prophet's mosque for zuhrain. We prayed some other prayers so got back to the hotel around 430p. We rested a bit more and then made our way back to the mosque for maghribain around 7p. Once again, we stayed there for around 2 hours and then had dinner and then back to the hotel.
      We are recommended to pray full zuhr/asr/isha in Medinah.
      Day Two:
      After taking an early night, we headed to the Prophet's mosque around 2am where we prayed salat-e-layl and other prayers. Returned to our hotel just after fajr. Our schedule for the rest of the day was the same as the previous day. However, there are other ziarats in Madinah one can visit:
      Masjid al-Shams Masjid al-Zul Qibltayn Masjid al-Quba The Saba Saba Masjids Masjid al-Fatah Masjid Salman al-Farsi Masjid al-Ali A.S. Masjid al-Bidi Fatimah Zehra A.S. Ohud – Hazrat Hamza A.S. Day Three:
      I stayed in the Prophet's mosque from 130am - fajr. I had the honor to pray salat-e-layl in Riyad-al-Jannah (Piece of heaven) - it is adjacent to the Prophet's grave. After salah, I went to Jana'at-al-Baqi for Ziarah al-wida (Farewell ziarah).
      We rested for a couple of hours, had breakfast and then made preparations to head to Makkah for Umrah.
      The main thing required is to perform a ghusl with the niyyah (intention) Niyyat: “I am doing Ghusl for the following for wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Sunnat Qurbatan Ilallah”. You cannot use scented soap when doing this Ghusl.
      The next step is to wear the ihram. Ihram for men - consists of two pieces of white cloth and for ladies their usual daily wear is their Ihram, but it is highly recommended that it be white as it is the sign of purity.
      Please not that even though one is wearing the ihram, the niyyah for Ihram is done later.
      We bought our ihram in Medinah for about $20 (60-75 Saudi Rial).
      We checked out of our hotel to make our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. I made transportation arrangements while in Medinah. It cost just under $200 for a personal mini-van.
      We stopped at Ohud for 15-20 minutes for a quick ziarah of Hz Hamzah's grave.

      Then we made our way to masjid-e-Shajarah. This is a designated point of wearing ihram per sharia. There are 6 other places as well in different parts of Saudi.


      If you are already wearing ihram, you can take off the top portion and put it on again and make the niyyah (intention):
      “I am wearing Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Illallah”. Immediately after making the niyya, recite the talbiya (calling) in arabic:
      Labbaik, Allahumma Labbaik, 
      Labbaik La Sharika Laka Labbaik,
      Innal Hamda WanNe’amata Laka Walmuka 
      La Sharika Laka Labbaik
      This is to be recited as many times as possible until you reach the vicinity of Makkah.
      After wearing the ihram and reciting talbiya, proceed to the inside of the Mosque and recite 2 rakat salat with the niyyah, "Offering 2 rakat salah for wearing ihram qurbatanillah".
      Once you adorn the ihram and make the niyyah, there are about 25 things that become haraam upon a person.
      Once we completed our prayers, we made our way towards Makkah, reciting talbiya as much as we could.
      One thing to note is that in Shia fiqh, men ar enot allowed to travel under shade during the day while in ihram.so it is advisable to plan your journey such that you arrive in Masjid-e-Shajarah around maghrib. If traveling during hte day, then there is a kafarah (penalty) of 1 sheep.
      We made a couple of stops on our way to Makkah which was about a 5 hour drive (430km or 250m)
      Day Three - Arrival in Makkah:
      We arrived in Makkah around 5pm. Since we had already prayed zuharain en route, we decided to rest a bit in our hotel. We woke up, did ghusl made our way to the Holy Kaaba around 730p. One has to be in wudu (or ghusl) for tawaf.
      We prayed maghrib and isha and then started our umrah. These are the steps for umrah:
      1) Perform tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba 7 times. The niyyah (intention) is:
      I am going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah.
      Since the masjid has several floors, it is important to remember that we can do tawaf on any floor as long as your height is below the top of the kaaba.
      2) Upon completion of tawag, recite 2 rakat salat-e-tawaf behind the Maqam-e-Ibrahim (place of Ibrahim) - recited just like fajr
      I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf of Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
      3) Perform Sa'ae (wudu not necessary). This is where you walk from Safa'a to Marwa 7 times (about 3.5km in total). Niyyah (intention) is:
      I walk between Safaa and Marwah, seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
      Going from Safa'a --> marwa = 1
      Marwa --> Safa'a = 2
      Safa'a --> marwa = 3
      Marwa --> Safa'a = 4
      Safa'a --> marwa = 5
      Marwa --> Safa'a = 6
      Safa'a --> marwa = 7
      So you start at Safa'a and end at Marwa.
      4) Once Sa'ae is over, the next step is taqseer (cuting part of mails of hair). Niyyah is:
      I am performing Taqseer so as to be relieved of Ihram for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
      It is best to do the 4 steps without too much of a break in between them. At this point, you can take a break and even take of your ihram.
      5) Whether you take a break or not, the next step is to perform tawaf-e-Nisa. Everyone has to do this - young/old, man/woman, married/unmarried, etc.). Niyyah is:
      I am doing Tawaaf-un-Nissa by going round this Ka’aba seven times for Umra al-Mufradah Qurbatan Ilallah
      6) Last step is to perform salat tawaf-e-Nisa. Niyyah is:
      I am offering two Rakaat Salaat for Tawaaf-un-Nissa for Umra al-Mufradah QurbatanIlallah
       

      The entire umrah took about 2 - 2.5 hours to complete.
      This is the completion of the umrah. 
      After completing our umrah, we went back to our hotel, had dinner and went to sleep.
      Day Four:
      We went to the Kaaba about 2 hours before fajr to perform Sunnah tawaf (each tawaf is 7 rounds). After each tawaf, reciting salat-e-tawaf is obligatory. You can make the intention of perfomr tawaf for others alive or deceased. This day was spent between our hotel and performing salah+tawaf throughout the day. There are other ziarah to be performed in makkah:
      Ka’aba Hajr al-Ismail Hajr-ul-Aswad Makaam al-Ibrahim Zam Zam Hills of Safa and Marwa Janatul-Mualla     Janab al-Khadijatul Kubra     Janab al-Abu Talib     Janab al-Abdul Mutalib     Hazrat Abdullah     Hazrat Amina Bint al-Wahab Masjid al-Jinn Cave of Thawr Cave of Hira Jabal al-Rahmah Muzdhalifa or Ma’shar Munna Masjid al-Kheef - In Munna We were able to perform the green ones above. We also had the opportunity to pray salat in the hateem which is not always open. We were able to touch the kaaba several times including rukn-e-Yemeni (corner from where Hz Fatima bint Assad went inside the kaaba to deliver Hz Ali (as).

      Pic in hateem under the kaaba

      Cloth of the kaaba - it is actually pieces of cloth sewn together instead of a very large piece of cloth.
      Day Five:
      We performed our final prayers and then checked out of our hotel to go to Jeddah airport. We flew from Jeddah --> Dubai and stayed there overnight, then flew back to the US.
      Summary:
      I was pleasantly surprised that the Saudis were pretty lenient this time.People were free to pray and take pictures as they wanted...for the most part. I would recommend taking salah, dua and ziarah information on your phones rather than books.
      I will also try to upload the guidebook I used for most of the trip.
      Please let me know if you have any questions. I tried to cover the most important aspects of umrah.
      Your Personal Guide to Hajj Umrah Ziyarat .pdf
       
    • By Khudi in Khudi
         0
      I wish to share my thoughts on the concept of Unity. To do that, I have a perspective which is a cumulation of all the experiences of my life put together. My perspective may have a bias since it is a combination of the realities that I have lived and observed at different points in time.
      In order to explain my thoughts, I am compelled to make the best use of my language skills. I believe the English Language is one of the most, if not THE most spoken languages in contemporary times. I start off by introducing myself to the reader. I like to think of myself as a being that is subject to constant evolution. Evolution in the form of mind, body, brain, soul, spirit, etc.
      So in order to understand me, the reader should have a basic understanding of the concept of Unity, Duality, Multiplicity, and Infinity.
      Since only certain things can be explained at any one point in time (because time is relative), my goal here is to explain the concept of Unity.
      In Arabic (the language of the Arab people), Unity is analogous to the concept of 'Tawhid'.
      But in order to continue in English, I will have to proceed and due to my limitations to explain this concept, and the readers' limitations to understand this concept, I will have to improvise.
      Understanding Unity via Duality can be done in countless ways. The way I wish to do so is through the relativity of time. Basically, in order to explain Unity to you, I will keep time as a constant for a short period of time. It is at my discretion (at present) to pick a point in time to explain to you the concept as I am the speaker and you are the listener (presumably).
      The point of time that I pick is one from history. I have picked it because of its significance in countless ways, depending on the observer of time. The date I've picked is the 10th of October 680 C.E (Common Era).
      Since I am explaining Unity through Duality, I would now like to divide the recording of time in history via two methods already used. The Gregorian Calendar (the 12 months commonly used today, supposed to have marked the beginning of the Common Era, following the birth of Jesus Christ) and The Hijri Calendar (the 12 months commonly used by the Muslim population of the world, following the migration of Muhammad to Mecca).
      10th of October in the Gregorian Calendar coincides with the 10th of Muharram in the Hijri Calendar. More specifically, 10th October 680 C.E = 10th Muharram 61 A.H.
      Since we are now keeping 'time' a 'constant', we have limited 'space' to keep making progress.
      So, in a few words, Unity explained via Duality means that at it's most basic, yet Absolute, Unity means two things (keeping in mind that time is NOT a constant). As we understand, Unity exists via space relative to time. I repeat, Duality of Unity is known in contemporary times as the Space-Time continuum.
      Do we understand the Space-Time continuum? Maybe, maybe not. I'd prefer to think that we do understand this continuum. You, me, we, all of us understand it in a different way.
      Coming back to time. To conclude this, on the 10th of October 680 C.E. (10th of Muharram 61 A.H.), an event took place.
      ONE event, best explained to be a combination of Infinite events, held at the same point in time for Existence to comprehend the Infinite potential of mankind in the form of Duality.
      The Duality of Right vs. Wrong. The Duality of Truth vs. Falsehood. The Duality of Being a Creation Vs. The Creator.
      As long as we can compel ourselves to observe all of history via the concept of Unity and applying Duality at it constantly, it will only be by a miracle that we don't/can't SEE the truth, HEAR the truth, FEEL the truth.
      Anything and Everything else is just pure coincidence.
      The End.
    • By Islamic Salvation in A Marginalia to Mu'jam
         3
      Who is Ibn Jurayj?
      Ibn Jurayj, ʿAbd al-Malik b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz, was an early Meccan scholar considered to be from the Taba’ Tabi’ina. According to the sources he was born in the city in 80/699 and died in 150/767. His grandfather Jurayj (George) had been a slave of Byzantine origin who belonged to a woman of the Meccan Khālid b. Asīd clan, part of the Banū Umayya of Quraysh. Either Jurayj or his son was set free, and thus became a client (mawlā) of this clan, a legal status that their offspring inherited.
      Despite his affiliation with Umayya, there is evidence that he had excessive love for the Ahl al-Bayt, as sometimes happens when a good fruit is borne of an accursed tree.
      محمد بن إسحاق، ومحمد بن المنكدر، وعمرو ابن خالد الواسطي وعبد الملك بن جريح، والحسين بن علوان الكلبي هؤلاء من رجال العامة، إلا أن لهم ميلا ومحبة شديدة، وقد قيل إن الكلبي كان مستورا ولم يكن مخالفا
      al-Kashshi says: Muhammad b. Ishaq, Muhammad b. al-Munkadir, Amr b. Khalid al-Wasiti, Abd al-Malik b. Jurayh (sic. Jurayj) and al-Husayn b. Ulwan al-Kalbi, these were men from the `Amma (proto-Sunnis), except that they had an inclination and excessive love (for the Ahl al-Bayt), and it is said that al-Kalbi was hiding (his faith) and was not of the Mukhalifin. 
       
      Praise for Ibn Jurayj
      Many famous narrators narrated from him, among them Ibn Ulayya and Yahya b. Said al-Qattan, and the authors of the Sihah included his narrations in their compilations. 
      قال الذهبي: هو الإمام، العلاّمة، الحافظ، شيخ الحرم، وصاحب التصانيف، وأوّل من دوّن العلم بمكّة
      al-Dhahabi: He is the Imam, the Allama, the Hafidh, the Shaykh of the sacred precinct, the author of works, and the first one to write down knowledge in Makka.
      I say: the book of Ibn Jurayj has a very good claim at being the first written compilation of Hadith predating the Muwatta of Malik
      وعن عطاء بن أبي رباح: إنّه: سيّد شباب أهل الحجاز
      Ata b. Abi Rabah: He is the leader of the youths of the people of Hijaz.
      وعن علي بن المديني: الإسناد يدور على ستّة، فذكرهم وذكر ابن جريج
      Ali b. al-Madini: the Isnad revolves around six, so he mentioned them and he included in these Ibn Jurayj.
      وعن يحيى بن سعيد: كنّا نسمّي كتب ابن جريج كتب الأمانة
      Yahya b. Said: we used to call the books of Ibn Jurayj “the books of trust”.
      وعن يحيى بن معين: ابن جريج ثقة في كلّ ما روي عنه في الكتاب
      Yahya b. Main: Ibn Jurayj was Thiqa in all that which is narrated from him in the book.
      أضاف الذهبي: الرجل في نفسه ثقة. وقد كان شيخ الحرم بعد الصحابة: عطاء ومجاهد،وخلفهما: قيس بن سعد وابن جريج، ثمّ تفرّد بالإمامة ابن جريج فدوّن العلم، وحمل عنه الناس، وعليه تفقّه مسلم بن خالد الزنجي، وتفقّه بالزنجي الإمام الشافعي
      Al-Dhahabi concludes: the man is Thiqa in of himself, and the Shaykhs of the sacred precinct i.e. Makka after the Sahaba were - Ata and Mujahid, and after them came - Qays b. Sa’d and Ibn Jurayj, then he assumed sole leadership and wrote down knowledge, and the people carried it from him, and under him tutelaged Muslim b. Khalid al-Zanji and tutelaged under this al-Zanji the Imam al-Shafi’i.
      وروايات ابن جريج وافرة في الكتب الستّة وفي مسند أحمد ومعجم الطبراني الأكبر، وفي الأجزاء
      And the narrations of Ibn Jurayj are aplenty in the six books and in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad and in the Mu’jam of al-Tabarani and etc.
      قال عبدالرزّاق: كنت إذا رأيت ابن جريج علمت أنّه يخشى الله
      Abd al-Razzaq said: if you saw Ibn Jurayj you could tell that he feared Allah.
      [Siyar al-A’lam al-Nubala 6/333]
      قدم ابن جريج إلى العراق قبل موته وحدّث بالبصرة وأكثروا عنه
      وعن يحيى بن سعيد: كان ابن جريج صدوقاً
      Ibn Jurayj travelled to Iraq before his death and narrated in Basra and its denizens narrated a lot from him.
      Yahya b. Said: Ibn Jurayj was truthful.
      [Tahdhib al-Kamal 12/55]
      Thus, as we can see - Ibn Jurayj is unanimously considered Thiqa according to the Sunnis, and he was depended upon by the Hadith scholars and the narrators, and he was truthful and God-fearing, despite all that he ruled on the permissibility of Mut’a and acted upon it.
      قال التستري: وكما روى ـ اى ابن جريج ـ حلّيّة المتعة كالأماميّة، كذلك روى كون الأذان من وحي السماء لا من رؤيا عبدالله بن زيد
      al-Tustari says: And just as Ibn Jurayj narrated the permissibility of Mut’a as the Imamiyya did, similarly, he narrated that Adhan was a heavenly revelation and not a dream seen by Abdallah b. Zayd [as the common Sunni view holds]. [Qamus al-Rijal 7/12]
       
      Proof that Ibn Jurayj permitted Mut’a
      قال الذهبي: هو أحد الأعلام الثقات... وهو في نفسه مجمع على ثقته مع كونه قد تزوّج نحواً من سبعين امراة نكاح متعة. كان يرى الرخصة في ذلك، وكان فقيه أهل مكّة في زمانه
      al-Dhahabi: He was one of the most-knowledgeable scholars and from among the Thiqat … and he is in of himself agreed upon as far as his trust-worthiness is concerned despite having married approximately seventy women in Mut’a marriages. He considered it as permissible. And he was the jurist of the people of Makka in his time. [Mi’zan al-I’tidal 2/659]
      وقال محمد بن عبدالله بن عبدالحكم: سمعتُ الشافعي يقول: استمتع ابن جريج بتسعين امراة، حتى إنّه كان يحتقن في الليل بأُوقية شيرج طلباً للجماع
      Muhammad b. Abdallah b. Abd al-Hakim: I heard al-Shafi’I saying: Ibn Jurayj made Mut’a with 90 women, such that he would apply in the nights sesame oil to help him in intercourse. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 6/333, and in Tahdhib al-Tahdhib 6/360: seventy women instead of ninety].
      قال جرير: ... أمّا ابن جريج فإنّه أوصى بنيه بستّين امراة، وقال لا تزوّجوا بهنّ فإنّهنّ اُمّهاتكم وكان يرى المتعة
      Jarir:  … As for Ibn Jurayj then he willed to his son [the names of] seventy women and said: do not marry them for they are your mothers and he used to accept Mut’a. [Ta’rikh Baghdad 7/255, Sharh al-Zarqani 8/76]
      الذهبي: و قيل: إنّه عهد إلى أولاده في أسمائهنّ لئلاّ يغلط أحدٌ منهم ويتزوّج واحدة ممّا نكح أبوه بالمتعة
      al-Dhahabi: and it is said: he (Ibn Jurayj) gave his sons the names (of those women) so that they do not fall into the mistake of ever marrying a woman their father had married via Mut’a. [Siyar A’lam al-Nubala 6/331]
      الماوردي: و حكى عن... وابن جريج والإماميّة جوازه ...
      al-Mawardi: And it is attributed to … and Ibn Jurayj and the Imamiyya its permissibility … [al-Hawi al-Kabir 11/449]
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