Alcohol in personal care products and cosmetics.

We all love taking care of ourselves. It is a basic human instinct. Taking care of the largest organ of the body— the skin,  exists deep in the subconscious of a woman’s mind. Coming to these skin care products, there is a really conflicting view regarding the presence of alcohol in them. Alcohol is one such beverage that is highly forbidden in the holy Quran in addition to the meat of swine. Skin care products, cosmetics, after-shave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, blah blah the list goes on when checking for the presence of alcohol. It is really good to be assured you are not angering the creator whilst beautifying yourself. Alcohol is haram, in the sense it leads to intoxication. But are all the so-called alcohols haram???.Lets count on the haram and halal alcohols present in our quotidian personal care products. Most of these chemical formulations are permissible as they have no link to the real alcohol. Its quite surprising.

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ETHYL ALCOHOL—HARAM
As Wikipedia defines “ethyl alcohol also commonly called as ethanol or drinking alcohol is the principal type of alcohol present in alcoholic beverages and is produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeasts”. It is mostly used as a solvent in mouth-washes, perfumes and deodorants. When used it might enter the blood stream leading to intoxication in some cases. Hence ethyl alcohol or ethanol used in personal care products is haram. So one should avoid it.

CETEARYL ALCOHOL- HALAL
Cetearyl alcohol also called as cetostearyl alcohol or cetylstearyl is not alcohol in the true sense. It is an emulsifier prepared by combining fatty alcohols that are derived from vegetable oils like palm oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter or Shea butter. It does not involve the process of fermentation. It helps in binding the oils and water in personal care products like shampoos, hair conditioners and facial creams. It has no intoxicating effects as it is not consumable in the original form. It is a solid mass, a wax like substance. Hence it is halal to be used in personal products.

CETYL ALCOHOL— HALAL
Cetyl alcohol is also derived from fatty-alcohols and is a long chain alcohol. It is in the form of solid wax flakes at room temperature. It is derived from palmitic acid or palm oil, and causes no intoxication even if taken orally. Cetyl alcohol is used as an emulsifying wax in shampoos, creams and lotions. It is also uses as a medicinal ingredient in certain skin disorder treatments. It is halal as it has no point in intoxicating humans, as it is just a white waxy substance

STEARYL ALCOHOL— AMBIGUOUS STATUS
Stearyl alcohol is an organic compound classified as a fatty alcohol. It takes the form of white crystals and flakes and is insoluble in water. Stearyl alcohol is produced from stearic acid and is often used as an emulsifier or emollient in creams, shampoos and other personal care products to give it a thickened state. Stearic acid is often produced from the fats of animals like pigs, cows and sheep, wherein the product is not halal. But if  the product is from a vegan or vegetarian brand then stearyl alcohol might contain stearic acid from plant sources like Shea butter and Cocoa butter and is halal in status.

BENZYL ALCOHOL—HALAL
Benzyl alcohol is one naturally occurring alcohol. It is derived from a variety of fruits and teas. Benzyl alcohol is an naturally found aromatic compound with no intoxicating effect. It is also found in many essential oils like those of jasmine, hyacinth and ylang-ylang. It is used in perfumes and deodorants and is considered halal as it is either found naturally with no intoxicating effect or it is chemically prepared and is not consumable.

LANOLIN ALCOHOL—HALAL
Lanolin is a substance derived from the sheared fleece of a sheep. The animal is unharmed during the entire process. The extracted lanolin is mixed with acetic acid to prepare what is called lanolin alcohol or sheep alcohol. It is used as an emollient in face creams.This is considered to be halal as in the sense it is not consumable and has an animal ingredient which is derived without slaughtering the animal.

Most of the alcohols used in cosmetics just have the tag of alcohol in them. On the contrary they are neither in a consumable form nor can they be observed by the body. And over all they do not have an intoxicating effect. They are just used as emulsifiers or emollients that help in binding oils and water and impart a thickened form to the product. Rest Allah knows best. Just tried to help a bit in differentiating between halal and haram ingredients. Thanks to Wikipedia for a detailed explanation. Thanks to Allah(swt) for guiding us on the right path.

References:  Wikipedia, behalal.org, askimam.org, muftisays.com

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As colorful as “Carmine”.

As women, we all love applying that bright red lipstick. Porcelain skin and red lips are the two most important and indispensable qualities of beauty. But do you know that lipstick you apply contains the extract of insects rather it contains an extract from boiled insects. Yeww!!! as gross as it seems, it is the truth. Carmine is a synthetic food color derived from boiled insects. A vast majority of cosmetic brands use the substance called “Carmine” in their products mostly their lipsticks to give them that red and orangey tinge. Even certain food items do contain this notorious substance which appears to be labelled under innocent names. Lets look deeper into the subject.

WHAT IS CARMINE???
As Wikipedia says “Carmine is a pigment of a bright-red color obtained from the aluminium salt of carminic acid. The pigment is produced from some scale insects such as cochineal scale insects and certain other species”.  So basically speaking the color carmine is extracted from the bodies of insects specifically the cochineal insect that feeds on cacti.

HOW IS CARMINE PREPARED???
Now here is the real gross description. The substance carmine is produced by boiling the cochineal insects in ammonia or a solution of sodium carbonate. After boiling these poor creatures, the entire matter is filter and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called as the carmine lake or crimson lake. To get a purple color lime is added to the alum.

The insects are killed by immersion in boiling water, or exposure to extreme sunlight or by heating them in ovens. Depending on the method adopted the color emitted from the dead insects varies. The more gruesome the killing the darker the color.

IS CARMINE HALAL??? OR HARAM???
It was narrated by Abdullah ibn Umar that Prophet Muhammad(pbuh) has said “Two types of animals which have died a natural death and two types of blood have been made lawful to us— the two which have died a natural death are those being the creatures of the sea and the locust, and the two types of blood being the liver and the spleen”.— Al-Tirmidhi(4132)

As simply as the above hadith explains, locusts are the only type of insects that are considered to be halal. Whereas carmine comes from the cochineal bugs and hence it is haram. The way those bugs are boiled is undoubtedly against Islamic laws of slaughtering.

CHEMICAL NAME OF CARMINE:
Be quick to check out your cosmetic ingredients list or your food packets for the following euphemisms of boiled bugs—
•Cochineal
•Cochineal extract
•Crimson lake
•Carmine lake
•Natural Red 4
•C.I 75470
•E120.

PRODUCTS TO CHECK FOR CARMINE CONTENT:
Cosmetics: Lipsticks, lip-liners, lip-glosses, lip-balms, nail polish, eye-shadows, eye-liners and kohls as far as I know. To be perfectly convinced, check any cosmetic which has color in it.

Food items: Skittles, Mentos, flavored-yogurts, ice-creams, vitamin supplements, and chocolates of certain famous brands do contain carmine. To be free from doubt just check for  the heavenly for vegetarian sign. That way you’ll also spare yourself of the haram animal fats also.

DO ALL BRANDS USE CARMINE???
Not all brands use carmine in their products. There are many vegetarian and vegan brands that use plant dyes to give the tinge of color to their products. One has to just check out the list of ingredients and the vegetarian symbol to be sure. Even if a brand states to be cruelty free they might just be against animal testing but might use carmine in their products. Being cruelty free is different from being vegan or vegetarian.

Just to be well convinced and satisfied, Islamic-wise and health-wise be sure to check out for this yucky boiled bugs ingredient. I have stressed on lipsticks because it is a vital make-up product, and as it is applied on lips there is a sure chance on ingestion into the mouth. And as for food items one has to be all the more careful, whether it is carmine or haram slaughtered animal fat both are equally impermissible. Many of us are completely unaware of this ingredient, thus a little enlightenment goes a long way. May Allah(swt) guide us on the right path.

P.S That picture is of a lady bird. Cochineal insects look different.

Make dua for the Ummah.

We are almost through the first half of Ramadan, a mere 15 days left before Eid and I felt like posting something  that every Muslim should contemplate on. Yesterday I saw an article on google, rather you might all have seen it. Twentieth of June is what the calendar marks as the World Refugee Day. I believe half of the refugees—  or as a matter of fact, a considerable size are from our faith of Islam. Just to name  few— Palestinians, Syrians, Rohingyas(Burmese Muslims) are the prominent face of Muslim refugees. This article is not about refugees. It is rather about us— what we can do to help the people we share something in common with— we share the same religion and beliefs, or rather we share humanity with them.

The only thing you can do to help a person far away from us, is to make dua for him. Oh! yes you can also contribute a significant amount of Zakat for the refugees. through some genuine organisations out there. Besides that it is only dua that helps. The Prophet(pbuh) described dua as “the essence of religion”. Its Ramadan dear friends so make the most of the month. Lets make lots and lots of dua for our troubled brothers and sisters in Islam.

red, poppies, fields, war, peace

There was this heart-wrenching message I read on a social site— “The people of Syria now pray six salats a day— Fajr, Zuhr, Asr, Magreeb, Isha and Janaaza salat(Funeral prayers). :-(. How sad and heart-breaking life can be sometimes.

We love to eat what the Prophet(pbuh) ate,
because it is sunnah.
But do we love to cry for the ummah,
as our beloved Prophet(pbuh) cried???.

Let me keep it simple. Islam is not just about perfect salats, saums or reciting the holy Quran. At a secondary level Islam is also about caring for others. Remember all those suffering out there in your precious duas. Make dua for the day when all our Muslim brothers and sisters shall be safe and sound in their homes just like us. Make dua for the newly-orphaned kids in those war-torn countries. Make dua for the poor parents who lost their children. Make dua for those who lost their loved ones— spouses, siblings, guardians or even their neighbours. In short make dua for the Ummah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). Dua has the power to change anything, because in the eyes of Allah(swt) nothing is impossible.

Lessons from Surah-al- Kahf

As-salamu-alaikum! This is the second Friday of the holy month. Come Friday and as routine has it, comes the recitation of Surah Al-Kahf. On the first Friday of Ramadan I posted the stories incorporated in the jummah’ surah, and today’s post is about the lessons to be learnt from this surah. And this entire post I owe to Mufti Ismail Menk. As it is from his lecture that I have myself learnt the lessons the surah teaches us. MashAllah he is such a inspirational orator. Coming back to the surah kahf my earlier post was about the stories mentioned in the surah and so on a parallel level to these stories are the hidden trials of the dajjal (Antichrist).

And as Mufti Ismail Menk says, it is not just the recitation of the Quranic verses that is important but we also have understand them, put into practice in our own lives and finally convey it to others. One nice hadith about the Surah Al-Kahf is as follows.

Abu Ad-Darda(R.A) narrated that the messenger of Allah(pbuh) said ” Whoever memorises the first ten verses of Surat Al-Kahf, he will be saved from the trails
of 
Ad-Dajjal”.
                                                               (Sahih Muslim)


cave, rocks, underground, light
Dajjal shall appear near to the day of judgement. And he shall test the believers(al-muminin’) in four different ways.

TRIAL OF RELIGION:
 During the time of dajjal there shall be famine and drought throughout the world. And he, the dajjal is going to lure the believers into proclaiming him to be God in return for which he shall provide them with food and water. How strong our Emaan is, lies in this test of dajjal. He tests our faith and conviction in Allah(swt). And it is at that time, you shall need to prove your love for your creator.  Hence the Almighty proclaims in the holy Quran.
                            “Hold fast to the rope of Allah, do not be divided”.
                                                                                                          Surah Al- Imran 3:103

TRIAL OF WEALTH:
As there shall be drought and famine at the time, dajjal shall be in control of the bounties of nature (sources of water). He shall pronounce to the people that he shall direct water to their barren fields if they believe in him to be God. He shall tempt the believers with his wealth, and those whoever shall remember that this world is but a temporary affair shall turn a blind eye to the riches of dajjal.

TRIAL OF KNOWLEDGE:
Dajjal shall test the believers with their knowledge, wherein he shall spread false and untrue news. During the time of dajjal the scholars shall lose their status. Ignorant people shall be considered to be knowledgeable. Hence one should learn to distinguish between the pure and fallacious sources, of knowledge and news, about fellow believers in particular, lest people be carried away with the falsity dajjal spreads.

TRIAL OF POWER:
 Dajjal shall control huge portions of the planet. He shall be the one in power and shall tempt the people with his authority. He shall enchant them with offering some power in return for their worship of him. Those who worship him shall feel the taste of power in this world.  Remembering the hereafter, and the blessings Allah bestowed on us shall help the believers overcome this test. All power on earth belongs to Allah(swt), therein lies the wisdom.

These are the four tests of dajjal that the believers shall face before the day of judgement. One can over come them with firm faith and belief in Allah(swt), and remembrance of the day of judgement (yaum-ul-qiyamah), when we shall be questioned about our deeds in this world. Might be dajjal has not arrived, but for surely these trials strike a chord with us. Because somewhere out there it seems like a deja vu’ as dajjal is indeed testing us in many ways in our day-to-day life. So are we getting tempted by him???. Just remember, the forbidden fruit is always the sweetest, alas! its rots very very soon.

The Prophet(pbuh) has said:
“From the time of the creation of Adam(a.s)
until the hour arrives, there will never be
a greater trial than that of
the dajjal.

Foods mentioned in the Holy Quran

This being my first post in the halal food category, I decided to post something about what the Allah(swt)  himself thinks is the best food for his slaves to relish on.  Some fellow quoted “It’s love that makes the world go around”, I completely disagree with him. Because it is not love that makes the world go around rather it is food that makes the world go around. Without food in our system we all would have been dead, leave alone the thought of going around and spreading love :lol:. Okay! Now lets have a look at all the nourishing fruits mentioned in the noble Quran.

grapes, fruits, vines, purple, healthy, food

DATES:
Every Muslim out there is familiar with this wrinkled dry fruit and its association with the month of Ramadan. Dates are all-rounders in the field of health. They have innumerable health benefits. Just to count a few— dates help to cure anaemia, good for cardiovascular health, relieve constipation, keep your bones strong and they do have many more benefits. Dates were the food of the prophets. And the word of the Quran is never untrue.
            “Shake the trunk of the palm towards you, and fresh  ripe dates will drop down onto you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes”.
                                                                                                                              Surah Maryam 19:25

OLIVES:
Another fruit to be mentioned in the holy Quran are the sapid flavoured olives. These are tiny packets of well-being. The health-benefits of olives range from their aid in cardiovascular health to cancer prevention. Furthermore, the heavenly olive oil is a staple skin nourishing food. Consuming olives on a regular basis gives a twinkle to the eyes, due to their vitamin A content. Olives are mentioned in a number of surahs of the holy Quran to name a few—  Surah An-Noor, Surah At-tin, Surah Abasa, Surah Al- Muminoon and Surah An-Nahl.

            “He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is s sign for people who give thought.”
                                                                                                     Surah An- Nahl (The bee) 16:11

GRAPES:
Allah(swt) has made mention of these succulent fruits a number of times. He has called them as the “food of the people who reside in paradise”. Grapes are called the miracle fruit because of the many health remedies they provide for. They are really good for brain functioning (help prevent Alzheimer’s), prevent cancer, detoxify the body, heal the kidneys, help diabetics and the list goes on. May be that is why they are called as the food of paradise as in jannah you are never sick.

                 “By means of it we produce gardens of dates and grapes for you, in which there are many fruits for you from which you eat”.
                                                                                  Surah Al-Muminoon (The Believers) 23:19

FIGS:
Another prominent fruit to be referred to in the Quran is the fig. As a matter of fact the surah At-Tin is named after the fig itself. Rich in all necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients the fig is a healing food. Figs generate blood pressure levels, strengthen our bones, prevent cancer, reduce inflammation of the skin and stabilise insulin levels. Surely every fruit Allah prescribed us is abundant in goodness.

               “By the fig and the olive and the Mount Sinai and this safe country Mecca!. Indeed we created human with the fairest stature”.
                                                                                                            Surah At- Tin (The Fig) 95:1-4

BANANAS:
These succulent fruits are mentioned in the holy Quran as “the fruit of the dwellers of paradise”. The ordinary banana as it may seem is a blessing of Allah(swt) in both the worlds. Bananas help reduce the risk of stroke, are anti-ulcer, provides you with instant energy, a handy remedy for heart-burn, boosts haemoglobin levels, promotes bowel health and the list of its health benefits is endless. Ergo it’s time to go bananas over bananas like the minions.

        “They will be among thorneless lote-trees, and among talh(banana trees) with fruits piled one above another, and in the shade long extended”.
                                                                                        Surah Al- Waqiah (The Event) 56:27-30

POMEGRANATES:
This scarlet fruit has been mentioned a few times in the holy book. It’s health benefits are just as many as its seeds :-P. It helps prevent dental plague, improves heart health, rejuvenates the skin, prevents arthritis, helps detox the body and provides a steady supply of antioxidants for cell regeneration. Fortunate are we that Allah chose the best of foods to provide for us.

             “In both of them are fruit and palm trees and pomegranates”.
                                                                                         Surah Ar-Rahman (The Merciful) 55:68.

Mashallah! Every food mentioned in the holy Quran has loads of health benefits in it. Allah(swt) is the best physician, and prescribed to us the most pre-eminent natural therapies straight from his bounties. Blessed are the believers  to be a part of such a sublime religion. 🙂


Halal skin care brands (India).

Whoever has said beauty comes naturally was mistaken— okay! beauty does come naturally but then all natural things deplete at some point. Before the process of depletion begins it is better you preserve what little remains of that. Now with a host of skin care products out there in the market you need to carefully choose as to what measures up-to the standards of your definition of beauty. Instead of dabbing a potful of useless stuff onto my face I rather carefully select my beauty products— that being said, they should be halal as in the sense vegetarian with a big NO to animal fats in them (pork specifically) and for sure no to alcohol. Here I have made a list of  beauty products that I have used personally, and these are from the Indian market.

green, leaf, water, drop

VICCO:
“Vicco turmeric nahi cosmetic”… remember that jingle of the 90’s?. Well Vicco turmeric skin cream tops my all time favourite skin products chart. Vicco products are complete halal— meaning vegetarian rather should I say they are vegan too with no alcohol content. The company offers a range of products from skin creams to toothpastes and powders. Vicco turmeric skin cream is my HG product, introduced to me by my mother. Do not  be misled by their vintage look— the products are well priced and really do the job.

NO ALCOHOL used in skin creams as  the list of ingredients says so.

BIOTIQUE BOTANICALS:
 This one’s a classic ayurvedic brand offering a range of vegetarian skin care products from the herbal ingredients found in the Himalayas. I always saw my aunt slathering the biotique coconut skin brightening  cream onto her face, I myself brought one and it’s performance was fairly good. The company also has a range of hair-care products all made from natural ingredients. Even their lip-balms are supreme in quality. The price may be a bit on the higher side for some, but they are a must have halal brand.

NO ALCOHOL used in their products as the company website states.

HIMALAYA HERBALS:
Yet another ayurvedic company Himalaya herbals has a vast assortment of skin care, hair-care and general well-being products. The products bear the against animal-testing tags on them. I mostly have used their face washes- the neem and apricot ones,  have also used the rejuvenating night cream, it does a pretty decent job and their bath range specifically the honey and almond soap is an amazing one, the apricot scrub is one to go gaga on . I have heard their health-care range is also quite beneficial. Their pricing is done keeping in mind the Indian aam aadmi.

Check out for ALCOHOL in particular  products.

SHAHNAAZ HERBALS:
 This brand is a top-notch herbal brand producing some very pure and potent skin care products. This is a PETA certified brand against animal cruelty hence no pig fat or any animal derivatives. Used the Shaglow moisturizing cream and was really impressed by the way it repaired my extreme-dry skin. I personally am a fan of Shanaaz products. Shahnaaz herbals products are high-priced alas! for the way they help your skin you can surely give them a try.

NO ALCOHOL used in any of their products as the company website says— halal formulations!!!

AROMA MAGIC:
A quintessential halal firm though it does not state it outwardly. Have gone through their website which states that their products are free of harmful chemicals, synthetic colors, animal derivatives, animal testing and alcohol content. I have personally used the aroma magic almond moisturizer it was good for the humid south Indian weather but discontinued it after coming to England . Their pricing is great too.

NO ALCOHOL used hence an ideally halal brand.

LOTUS HERBALS:
 A very decent herbal brand, with no animal derivatives in their products. Lotus herbals is a pioneer in the field of skincare products. I personally tried their sheamoist moisturizer and a few face washes. This brand was among my quotidian skincare products back in India and I’m in love with their kohl currently.  Though all of the products are herbal, a few odd ones contain alcohol just  be alert enough to check the ingredients. The pricing is quite impressive though.

Most of the products are NON-ALCOHOLIC, spare the odd few which have alcohol in them.

These are just a few among the vast majority of skin care products found in India. I have mostly sorted them on basis of vegetarian and non-alcoholic terms, also these brands are what I have personally used or am using at present. Rest Allah knows best.

 

 

Stories in Surah-al-Kahf

                  Surah-al-Kahf or “The Cave” as it is translated is the 18th surah of the noble Quran and is one among the  widely recited surahs of the holy book. This surah is more so recited on a weekly basis(on Fridays) by a majority of Muslims around the world. I myself recite it on every Friday after my asr salat. Today is the first Friday of Ramadan, hence I thought of sharing some info related to the jummah’ surah. It is just not reciting that helps, but a basic understanding of the different chapters of the Quran is all the more important. Whilst there are numerous lessons to be learnt from this surah, I would first like to provide a gist of the entire surah— as it is divided in 4 short parts each with a beautiful story and a hidden message in it. Lets us look at what all narratives are incorporated in this surah.

cave, beach, sand, water, coast, ocean, sea, cliff

MEN OF THE CAVE:
               Primarily this surah is named after “The Cave”. In the first part of the surah Allah(swt) tells us of how there were these young men who believed in the oneness of Allah (tawheed), but the community to which they belonged was that of non-believers(kaafirs), and when they felt a threat to their lives from the kaafirs they prayed to Allah and he led them to the cave and caused them a deep slumber— they woke up after a prolonged period of 309 years, to find themselves in a land of believers(al-muminin).

MORAL: Mashallah! one should learn to hold on to the rope of Islam that tight no matter whatever the circumstances and Allah is sure to help you.

THE OWNER OF THE GARDENS:
               Furthermore Allah tells us the story of the owner of the gardens. There was a wealthy man and Allah bestowed him with two beautiful gardens.Prosperity had got into his head and he began to show off his wealth and was in the wrong notion that his wealth was going to last forever. He forgot to thank Allah despite the reminder of his friend to express his gratitude to the almighty. As pride has a fall, Allah destroyed the beautiful gardens. Whilst the man repented— it was too late.

MORAL: That is where Allah teaches us to be humble, as he alone is the owner of everything, our wealth, is but a temporary asset of this world.

                  Roughly in between these four stories Allah(swt) speaks of Iblees and how he spreads fitnah on the earth.

                    “and remember when we said unto the angels— fall, prostrate unto Adam, and they fell prostrate, all save Iblees. He was of the jinn, so he rebelled against his Lord’s command. Will ye choose him and his seed, for your protecting friends instead of me, when they are enemy unto you?. Calamitous is the exchange unto evil-doers”.

—Surah-al- Kahf Ayaah 50

MOOSA(A.S) AND KHIDAR(A.S):
                    Next comes the story of Moosa(A.S), where Allah(swt) asks him “who is the most knowledgeable person on the earth?” to which Moosa(A.S) replied “Its me!” but Allah(swt) tells him that there was someone more knowledgeable than him— that is Khidar(A.S), and then  Moosa(A.S) travels to meet Khidar(A.S) to gain knowledge from him, and learns that pristine knowledge helps us in perceiving the will of Allah.

MORAL: Here we get to learn the quality of humility. How much ever learned a person maybe one should always be humble, and use that knowledge for the sake of Allah.

DHUL-QARNAYN:
                          Finally in Surah-al-Kahf we learn the story of Dhul-Qarnayn— the epitome of an unprejudiced monarch. Dhul-Qarnayn had all the power on earth but he never misused that power. He always acknowledged the good deeds of people. He was the one who put an end to the issue of Gog and Magog (Yajuj + Majuj), by building a wall with the help of people whose language he could not even understand.

MORAL: Always be just and unbiased when in power, because Allah loves a just sovereign.

                       Such a beauty is this surah, with tremendous amounts of  knowledge hidden in the narratives of Allah. Four things to learn from it— never give up on your deen, never be proud of your riches, be humble of your knowledge and finally never be prejudiced against the less powerful.

 

 

A handbook of Ramadan

                    Ramadan is a month of Salat, duas, forgiveness, repentance and abstaining from our worldly desires. We have a mere 30 days period to strengthen our bond with the lord of the worlds, and hence we better be shrewd to make the most of this month— and wallow in an array of activities for a better afterlife. Here are a few handy tips to make a really nice use of the month of Ramadan.

books, reading, study, learning, school, office, home, business, coffee, tea, cup, window

EAT MODERATELY:
                 Ramadan is a single month in a whole long year where every good act we perform is rewarded, so we better take a good advantage of this month. If we indulge in unwanted heavy eating it leads to a host of uncomfortable feelings—from a bloated tummy to a heinous headache which leave us weak for our night prayers especially the taraweeh prayers. Having a light iftar meal followed by an even simpler supper really helps us to go a long way for the night schedule. Try including fresh and healthy foods and spare the body all the junk food. Islam teaches us to be moderate in any act we perform be it shopping or eating for that matter. So go easy on the food section and gear yourself for some real good emaan-boosting stuff.

DO NOT BE A COUCH-POTATO:
                     “Time cannot be recycled”, and this is true to every extent. Take a good advantage of the holy month and occupy yourself in dhikr of the almighty rather than being a couch-potato. Now this does not definitely mean that we have to pack up our home theatre and stock them in the store-room— we can spend a teeny-weeny amount of time in refreshing ourselves from a hectic schedule by watching some light-hearted comedies, as surely those dramatic soap-operas can wait till the next month.

LIMIT THE USE OF SOCIAL-MEDIA:
                  Allah(swt) has promised us that every single act of worship shall be multiplied by seventy times in Ramadan, this is the time to stack up on rewards for our acts. Hence we better not squander away the precious moments in front of the necessary evil(computer) —particularly the youth of today. Updating every single detail of your life on Facebook and twitter can wait, rather update your relationship with your creator straight way because you never know when it is too late.

INCREASE YOUR SALAT:
            Ramadan is a beloved month of spiritual cleanliness— a time to reflect upon the build up of toxic feelings within us, a time to nourish our relation with our creator and increase our amount of prayers.In addition to the fard(obligatory) and sunnah(optional) prayers increase the amount of your nafl(supererogatory prayers) salat. Pray to thank Allah for all the blessings he bestowed on us, pray to ask him for things that are dear to you. We should perform our salat as if we stand before Allah with a fear in our heart that this might be our last salat.

RECITE THE HOLY QURAN:
                  Try to recite the holy Quran on a regular basis, or more so try to complete the recitation of the whole of the holy book in the month of Ramadan. We should also try to learn certain extracts of the Quran by the heart alongside its elucidation. It’s just not reciting the holy book that matters but what is more important is to learn to act per the word laid down by Allah(swt) in the holy book.

MAKE LOTS OF DUA:
                    Ramadan is a  time to increase the amount of what we ask Allah— make lots and lots of dua— dua for yourself, dua for your parents, dua for forgiveness of your wrongdoings, dua for the poor and less fortunate, dua for our brothers and sisters in the war-torn countries rather dua for the unity of the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad(saw).Cry in your supplications to the lord, because a dua with tears in the eyes is all the more powerful. “Dua is the weapon of the believer”, and Allah(swt) is so delighted to see his servants asking for something in this revered month that he shall surely proclaim “Kun faya kun”!!!

                 As the saying goes—  “Little drops of water make the mighty ocean”,  in the same manner little deeds of emaan fill up our accounts written by the angel on our right hand. Ramadan is a very good time to start up on improving ourselves.

Benefits of Ramadan Fasting

                        The holy month of Ramadan was prescribed to humanity as to overcome or rather control our temptations— of food, thoughts, physical desires and evil deeds. Allah(swt) never burdens his servants more than their souls can bear. Ramadan is a time to fast and abstain from food and all worldly desires. Inclusive of all the spiritual significance of the month, fasting in Ramadan also has a numerous benefits for the physical well-being. So lets count on the health benefits of fasting just in case we need to add some fuel to our determination so as not to miss a fast.

market, bazaar, street vendors, food, guy, man, people, lifestyle, black and white

WEIGHT LOSS:
                         As stereotyped as this may sound, fasting for a whole month does surely does aid in some serious weight loss, if we spare our tummies a really generous iftar meal. Go easy on the iftar platter— avoid the oily fritters and spring rolls, include some succulent fruits in there and you are sure to lose some amount of weight.

PROMOTES INSULIN SENSITIVITY:
                      Heard of that already ya?!!! Well dear! being insulin resistant at some point in our lives has become an unwanted privilege of Homo sapiens. When our body has a steady supply of heavy carbs and sugary food stuff, it goes insulin resistant and by fasting the body or rather specifically the pancreas up our insulin sensitivity thus sparing us of a host of killer diseases.

LOWERS CHOLESTEROL LEVELS:
                    After a nice long fast(specially the London ones—20hr fast) we have nothing much left in our tiny tummies and it is at this point of time when the body starts burning into the fat deposits to provide fuel for our physical activities. Thus lower the fat lower are our cholesterol levels, saving us from cardiovascular problems of the future. And fasting does specifically attack the bad cholesterol in our blood without effecting the levels of healthy cholesterol.

DETOXIFYING THE BODY:
                      During the period of fasting we spare our digestive system the tedious process of digestion, and so to provide us energy when it does start burning the harmful fat it also concentrates on flushing out the toxins stored in these fat deposits. Our liver and kidneys come together and detoxify our body from within during a fast.

REVITALIZING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM:
                        I have read sometime ago that a research conducted in some part of the world has found out that fasting prompts the stem cells to produce brand new white blood cells(the fighter cells) in our body which help ward off infections, thereby revitalizing our immune system. Fasting also helps in an increase in t-cells which are really helpful for cancer patients.

                      For sure Allah(swt) hides little packets of goodness in everything he prescribes us. We fast for him, but we benefit from the fast ourselves. Thus sweet sisters and brothers in faith, lets make most of this blessed month spiritually and physiologically. Make lots of dua, forgive those who have wronged you and seek forgiveness from Allah(swt) and perform lots of good deeds— that shall strengthen your akhirah.

 

Ramadan is here…

O! You who BELIEVE! 
Observing AS-SAUM (The Fasting)
Is PRESCRIBED FOR YOU as
it was PRESCRIBED for those
BEFORE YOU, that you may become
“AL-MUTTAQUN”
— Al-Baqarah 2:183

 

moon, dark, night, sky

                  These verses of the holy Quran elicit a feeling of piety among the vast majority of Muslims spanning the planet. Ramadan is that month of the year when the Muslim  households are engaged in a series of clichéd activities, where the women of the household are busy stocking up the edible necessities for the delectable iftar platter, and the men of course are weighing their pockets, and scribbling accounts keeping in view the shopping spree that is to come.

                      But sadly though, my precious brothers and sisters in faith, Ramadan is neither a month for gobbling down those mouth-watering sheekh kebabs and biryani nor is it a month for the extravaganza you are hoarding currency for. It is a blessed month of reappraising our relationship with our creator Allah(swt). It is a revered month of engaging in some significant amount of good deeds that are to intercede for us on the day of judgement.

                      We might have all passed through numerous holy months of Ramadan in our lifetimes, hoping to do something good but ending up on the same old somewhat evil track. But some old fellow rightly said “Hope is the poor man’s bread”, so surely lets hope once again to try to be good servants of Ar-Raahman and indulge in good deeds that make us proud of our faith, and keep us at an arm’s length from the temptations Satan has to offer us.

                          It’s just not sufficient to continue with our goody good selves for a single month of the year, but the real challenge lies in trying to continue with this goodness for our entire life.Lets try to stop all our bad deeds, avoid back-biting, stop listening to music, put an end to earning illegal wealth(usury) and other, start respecting your grey haired parents, learn the meaning of the verses of the holy Quran and try to act as per it, put an end to illegal relationships lest you want to end up in hell with your illegal partner, increase your giving to the needy(Zakat especially), and the most important of all learn to offer Salat on time and in your senses by putting the worries of the world at rest. Just imagine the day when the Prophet(pbuh) calls out for us “My Ummah” and we shall walk behind him proud and tall, and so transform yourself before it’s too late, for it’s a single word of repentance that changes lives…

O! CHILDREN of ADAM
Let not SATAN seduce you,
in the same manner
as he got your PARENTS out of PARADISE…
—Quran 7:27