Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets and Chief of the Messengers, and upon all his family and companions (The true followers of his Sunnah).

Allah's sacred month of Muharram is a blessed and important month. It is the first month of the Hijri calendar and is one of the four sacred months concerning which Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Verily, the number of months with Allah is twelve months (in a year), so it was ordained by Allah on the Day when He created the heavens and the earth; of them, four are sacred. That is the right religion, so wrong not yourselves therein…" [al-Tawbah 9:36]

It was reported that Ibn 'Abbaas said that this phrase (so wrong not yourselves therein…) referred to all the months, then these four were singled out and made sacred, so that sin in these months is more serious and good deeds bring a greater reward.

The Virtue of observing more naafil fasts during Muharram:

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: '

The best of fasting after Ramadaan is fasting Allah's month of Muharram.'" (reported by Muslim).

This hadeeth is probably meant to encourage increasing one's fasting during Muharram, without meaning that one should fast for the entire month.

Fasting on 'Aashooraa'

Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) came to Madeenah and saw the Jews fasting on the day of 'Aashooraa'. He said, 'What is this?' They said, 'This is a righteous day, it is the day when Allah saved the Children of Israel from their enemies, so Moosa fasted on this day.' He said, 'We have more right to Moosa than you,' so he fasted on that day and commanded [the Muslims] to fast on that day." (Reported by al-Bukhaari)

Fasting on the day of 'Aashooraa', was obligatory but when fasting Ramadaan was made obligatory, the obligation to fast 'Aashooraa' was lifted, i.e., it was no longer obligatory to fast on this day, but it is still desirable (mustahabb).

The virtues of fasting 'Aashooraa:

Ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: "I never saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) so keen to fast any day and give it priority over any other than this day, the day of#'Aashooraa', and this month, meaning Ramadaan." (Reported by al-Bukhaari).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "For fasting the day of 'Aashooraa', I hope that Allah will accept it as expiation for the year that went before." (Reported by Muslim).

This is from the bounty of Allah towards us: for fasting one day He gives us expiation for the sins of a whole year. And Allah is the Owner of Great Bounty.

Which day is 'Aashooraa'?

Ibn 'Abbaas, said: 'The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded us to fast 'Aashooraa', the tenth day of Muharram.' (Reported by al-Tirmidhi). It is mustahabb (encouraged) to fast Taasoo'aa' with 'Aashooraa':

'Abd-Allah ibn 'Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said: "When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on 'Aashooraa' and commanded the Muslims to fast as well, they said, 'O Messenger of Allah, it is a day that is venerated by the Jews and Christians.' The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, 'If I live to see the next year, insha' Allah, we will fast on the ninth day too.' But it so happened that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away before the next year came." (Reported by Muslim)

Al-Shaafa'i and his companions, Ahmad, Is- haaq and others said: "It is mustahabb to fast on both the ninth and tenth days, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fasted on the tenth, and intended to fast on the ninth."

On this basis it may be said that there are varying degrees of fasting 'Aashooraa', the least of which is to fast only on the tenth and the best of which is to fast the ninth as well. And the more one fasts in Muharram, the better it is.

We ask Allah to make us followers of the Sunnah of His Noble Prophet and may Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions and his true followers.

Extracted from Booklet by Shaykh Saleh Munajjid

On the authority of Abu Saeed Al-Khudri, who said: I heard the messenger of Allah salallahu alayhi wa sallam say: "Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith."

Related by Muslim.

For the past couple of days, I have been silently watching the news on television, and reading Internet and newspaper articles on the current massacre of innocent lives in Palestine. All of this perpetuated by the Israeli army, in the name of "retaliation". What I fail to understand is, why is it that this so-called retaliation is completely disproportionate to what was done to them in the first place? According to sources, at least 345 Gazans have been killed and another 1,450 wounded in three consecutive days of Israeli bombardment in the heavily-populated territory. All of this in an attempt to destroy Hamas. What they fail to explain is the reason why so many civilians have been killed in the process. Children have been killed, wounded and innocent people have suffered for no reason. What appalls me is that the majority of the leaders of the Muslim world have done nothing active about it. Alhamdulillah I learnt that Egyptians have opened their borders to the wounded and are also sending medical supplies, relief and other humanitarian aid to help their brothers and sisters, but I feel that it isn't enough, far from it. When a huge natural disaster hits any country, many of the Muslim leaders pledge millions of dollars in aid and medical supplies. However, when there's a calamity in Palestine and so many scores of people are dying, they don't do a single thing about it. It frustrates me to see the lack of compassion for Muslims by so many wealthy and powerful leaders, who are capable of doing so much, yet do so little. The GCC conference has just commenced in Muscat and according to the press, one of the topics on the agenda is to discuss the situation of Palestine.

America was the first to jump to the support of Israel as usual, and blame everything squarely on Hamas, justifying all the hideous atrocities perpetuated on the innocent civilians.
Everyone knows that the Israeli army only did this because it was their last opportunity to "legitimately" attack Palestine before the Bush administration leaves, especially since Obama's stance on Palestine is currently unknown.
Are world leaders totally ignorant of the events leading to the massive destruction of Palestinian life? Are they unaware of Israel’s provocations and shrewd manipulation of the facts which allowed them to seem innocent and carry out a diabolical plan to destroy the Palestinians? The facts are these: For two years Israel has illegally blockaded Gaza. The densest area of the world, which contains 1.5 million people, has received less than a quarter of the volume of imported supplies they received in December 2005 and has not been permitted to export many goods. A totally paralyzed economy has tried to exist with reduced fuel supplies, electrical outages and a lack of spare parts, all of which has caused hunger and severe psychological damage.

I know I'm ranting, but it is all I can do; I wish there was more, but unfortunately so far this is the most. All I can say is that everyone in the Ummah needs to make some serious dua for the Palestinians that are suffering, and Insha'allah, by the will and the mercy of Allah (swt), they will be the victorious ones at the end of the day.

Ilahana – Our Lord, Lord of the two Easts and the two Wests, Our Lord, Lord of the holy place (Jerusalem) and the two sacred places (Makkah & Madinah), Oh Allah correct the position of our brothers and sisters, the victims of the catastrophe in Palestine, Oh Allah secure their fear, reward them as You wish, Oh Allah swap their fear for peace, Oh Allah swap their fear for peace, Oh Allah swap their fear for peace.
Oh Protector of the fearful, Oh Hope of the needy, Oh Granter of the prayers of the oppressed, You are the Lord of the weak, And you are our Lord, there is no Deity worthy of worship except You.

All praise is due to Allah, who reminds his slaves that their lives have an appointed time and that the successful ones are those who are saved from the Fire and entered into Paradise, when He says:

"Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception." [Al-Qur'an 3:185]

And He reminds them that death will reach them no matter where they are when He says:

"Where ever you may be, death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!" [Al-Qur'an 4:78]

And He reminds them that regardless of what their status in this world, they will face death. Even if they are from the greatest of warriors, or the most powerful of rulers, or even a Prophet when He addressed His Messenger, upon whom be peace, saying:

"Verily, you will die and indeed they shall die as well." [Al-Qur'an 39:30]

And reminds them that they should take heed, because a time will come where they will ask for respite to do more deeds yet shall not be granted this request when He says:

"And spend of that with which We have provided you, before death comes to one of you and he says: 'My Lord! If only You would give me respite for a little while (i.e. return to the worldly life), then I should give sadaqah of my wealth, and be among the righteous.' And Allah grants respite to none when his appointed time (death) comes. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do." [Al-Qur'an 63:10-11]

Death is indeed a reality that we all have to face one day. For most of us we will have to go through mourned times over our loved ones before we actually face our own destiny. And at that time, even though we may not realize it, Allah is bestowing a great favor upon us by reminding us that we too will one day face such a fate, so it is indeed time to be reminded.

"And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: 'My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was little.' " [Al-Qur'an 17:23-24]

by Abu 'Abdir-Rahman Navaid Aziz Al- Madeenah An-Nabaweyyah
A view from the Dhow as we cruised along the creek.
Another view of the creek side. The entrance of Atlantis Hotel in Palm Jumeira
another view of Atlantis Hotel
Festival City Mall, this is a view from the canal that runs outside it
Another view from the Canal by Festival City Mall
This is the view of the Burj al Arab hotel, from Madinatul Jumeira, which is right behind it.
Inside the Medinatul Jumeira Souk, I luv the beautiful architecture!
This is the Gold Souk which is located in the Dubai Mall, near the aquarium.
A view of the Gold Souk from the center, this is the meet up point, where there's always a live band playing and a nice cafe.
The Aquarium at Dubai Mall, this is a view from the outside.
A friendly shark swims past me in the tunnel of the Aquarium in Dubai Mall.
This is in Tunisia, a part of Ibn Battuta Mall
This is in Egypt, another part of Ibn Battuta Mall
This is the central dome in Persia, again in Ibn Battuta Mall.
The outside of Ibn Battuta mall, this picture shows the blue rocket trains that are being currently built around the city to accomodate the requirements of public transport. The trains aren't functional, as the tracks and stations haven't been completed yet.
Here's the inside of Mall of the Emirates, which shows the indoor ski resort

Another view of the ski resort, complete with Xmas trees and a ski-lift.
I've been away from blogging for a while, mainly due to Eid holidays and other family priorities, so I thought I'd blog about what's been going on lately!
We spent our Eid holidays in Dubai, which was Alhamdulillah very nice, and quite the refreshing change from the dreariness of the shopping scene in Oman. Since I've been away from the Middle East for about 4 years, I wasn't able to experience the explosion of malls in Dubai these past few years. Apparently, I'd been missing out!!!
In lieu of that, I was subjected to a whirlwind tour of all major malls in the vicinity of Dubai. Seriously though, it was mind blowing in all aspects of the word "blowing." I felt like a complete tourist as happily i snapped away and collected about 300 pictures of mall interiors and architecture in Dubai. I'll be posting a few of the many architectural wonders of Dubai for your viewing pleasure soon Insha'allah. Please bear with me, and my unusually slow Internet connection these days, it should be up and running soon.

Here's a quick description of what I saw:

1) Mall of the Emirates - This one's been around for a while actually, its famous for its indoor ski resort and Kempinski (sp?) Hotel. Since I've just arrived from Toronto, I wasn't very impressed with the ski resort, although it was a valiant attempt at reproducing real snow and snow-like conditions! My favorite part was watching all the abaya-clad women walking around with their kids, wearing ski jackets and boots! That's one sight u don't unfortunately see in Canada too often. Otherwise, good stores, and good stuff.

2) Ibn Battuta Mall - This is the best mall in Dubai, in terms of architectural splendour. Its not particularly famous for its stores or size, but for its ability to recreate an entire culture and civilisation based on architectural speciality. The mall is a single level creation, spanning 6 different continents (I think) and including everything from: Andulasia, Tunisia, China, India, Egypt and Persia. Each continental section is a world of its own, and completely awe-inspiring, with cleverly interwoven stories of the travels of Ibn Batutta. Shopping definitely is secondary in such a place, and really unnecessary after viewing it's internal beauty and complexity.

3) Dubai Mall - This is the latest mall, and still a work in progress. A normal mall in many ways, except that a part of it contains one of the largest indoor Aquariums in the world. I was amazed at its size and ability to recreate an underwater world, complete with sting rays, sharks, and other strange and creepy sea life. Along with the Aquarium, they have an indoor Discovery Centre, which houses otters, seals, penguins and a variety of various fish in different shapes, sizes and colors. Visitors are invited to go for a tour of the aquarium, which is massive and runs along one wall of the mall, built with a walk way/tunnel through it. Of course you have to pay for a ticket to walk through the tunnel, experience sharks swimming on either side of you, and sting rays zipping over your head. The whole time, I had only one thought: what happens when the glass wall gives way and millions of liters of water and sharks are dumped unceremoniously on your head.... SubhanAllah. The mall also has a huge indoor gold souk, which is rather beautifully decorated.

4) Wafi City - Once used to be a pyramid shaped centre, famous for containing upscale and top designer brand stores, it's currently being expanded to include another pyramid, as well as some other large buildings built in an Egyptian architectural style, a necropolis, a couple of sphinxes and other such monuments. Very pretty, nice architecture but unfortunately overpriced stores and I hated having to pay 5 Dirhams to use the washroom!

5) Dubai Festival City - This is a fairly new place as well. It's probably the biggest mall and is really amazing in all ways. Not only does it house every single store imaginable in Dubai, including some stores that bring back fond memories of Canada ( Le Chateau, Costa Blanca, Urban Behavior), it also has a canal running outside it, and its located next to the Marina, in between the Intercontinental Dubai and the new Four Seasons Sheraton. (Please don't quote me on that, I might have my facts wrong) It has some beautiful indoor waterfalls, fountains and similar types of creations.

6) Madinatul Jumeira - Situated right behind the Burj al Arab hotel, this is a mini-city that contains a large souk type arrangement of stores of different types, local and international. It has a nice large patio-style food court with good food and a beautiful view. I guess the best thing about this place is the view and the replica of old Arabian architecture.

That wraps up my mall review of Dubai. I also happened to visit the Palm Jumeira where the famous Atlantis hotel is, and i got a chance to look at all the new and somewhat empty properties that are springing up in that area. Quite magnificent and grand, but unfortunately, it gives an air of materialism that makes me feel quite uncomfortable. I'm glad I don't live there because I wouldn't be able to feel connected to the real world and that would be scary!

I'm back now, Alhamdulillah, and facing the arduous task of packing up for my impending marriage and move. More on that later!