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25 August 2014

The Qiblah and Unity of a Nation

People find strength in unity.

Mankind needs to be united but we must unite on something that will mark out peace and justice for all, not just a few, and we want peace and justice that will be constant; regardless of changes in time and place.

 Between Qiblah and Prayers
- Significance of The Change of Qiblah
- Islam: The Call For Humanity & Equality
- Prayers –The Spirit of Worship in Islam
- The Spirit of Prayer (Exclusive Video)
- How Was Prayer Before the Night Journey?
Mankind is rarely united for long and division often breeds a competitive spirit, and when pride rules, war and destruction ensue. Without a moral and spiritual unifying factor, mankind will destroy himself.

Only one thing can unite mankind on goodness and constancy; something that goes far beyond pride: devotion to the Creator and Nurturer of all and care for His creation.

Attaining this high state of being that transcends worldly desires is not easy; it requires a code of conduct, a way of life and a spiritual and physical direction to which all are united. In Islam, this sublime course is symbolized in the Ka’bah; the Qiblah.

Wherever you find Muslims; in whatever environment; under all kinds of conditions you will find them gather at the times of Prayer, face the Ka’bah in Makkah, and worship their Lord with devotion. This gives them a clear purpose and single-mindedness that is necessary to retain identity in a world where morals and values are falling apart.

The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
Everything has a master, and the master of seats is that facing the Qiblah.” (At-Tabarani)

The Muslims did not always face Makkah in their prayers. This change came about early on in Islam.

How the Qiblah Changed

The Prophet described the Ummah as being like one body; when one part of it is in pain and fever it affects all the other parts.

In the beginning of Islam Muslims prayed facing Baytul Maqdis in Jerusalem; a shared Qiblah between the Muslims and the Jews. Then not long after the migration to Madinah the Prophet, peace be upon him, received a divine order to change the Qiblah and pray towards Al-Masjid Al-Haram.

One day during the noon prayer the Prophet was told by Jibreel (Gabriel) to turn and face Al-Masjid Al-Haram and all those with the Prophet at that time followed him. This was a test from Allah to see who was sincere in their faith.

The Qiblah was changed with a gentle harmony of movement and obedience to Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Imagine! As soon as the Prophet received this order from Jibreel, he turned toward the Ka’bah and those praying in rows behind him followed without question. The Prophet described the Ummah as being like one body; when one part of it is in pain and fever it affects all the other parts. The oneness of direction and the harmony which with Muslims adhere to their Lord clearly manifest this meaning.

The Building of the Ka’bah

To discuss the history of the Ka’bah we have to remember Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) and his noble family; his wife Hajar (Hagar) and his son, Ismail (Ishmael). Ibrahim is known for his sincere adherence to monotheism and his strength of character with which he stood up against the falsehood of his time. It was upon this sincerity, character and belief that the Ka’bah was built.

Allah Says: "Abraham was a nation, devoutly obedient to Allah, inclining toward truth, and he was not of those who associate others with Allah." [Quran 16:120]

Ibrahim debated the king of Babylon (Nimrod) about the Lordship of Allah when this evil king claimed to be a god. Ibrahim also reminded his idolatrous people that the planets, the sun and the moon which they worshipped (Al-‘An ‘am 6:74-81) all set and disappeared while he declared the oneness of Allah. Ibrahim was the only one of his people who stood up for monotheism. Indeed, he was a nation!

But Ibrahim did not only speak against idol worship; he also smashed the idols of his people (Al-Anbiya’ 21:51-58) and because of his courage and trust in his Lord the fire into which he was later thrown became cool. Ibrahim never hesitated or doubted his Lord and the reward he received because of his faith was immense.

Allah Says: “O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham.” [Quran 21:66-70]

After emerging from the fire, Ibrahim left his stubborn people and established the religion in another land. This city was Makkah!
"…Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city secure and keep me and my sons from worshipping idols.” [Quran14:35-36]
“He will never let us down!”: The Courage of Hajar
The courage of Hajar, the mother of Ismail, and the adversity she faced, are well known.
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated,
“Ibrahim brought his wife and suckling son Ismail to Makkah, and left them near a tree above Zamzam and there was no one living there at that time. He left them some water and a bag of dates and went away. Hajar followed him calling, 'O Ibrahim! To whom are you leaving us in this deserted valley?' She repeated this several times and Ibrahim did not answer. She asked him, “Did Allah command you to do this?” Ibrahim responded, “Yes.” She said, “Then, He will never let us down.” (Al-Bukhari)
Hajar was both a wife of a prophet and the mother of a prophet. She exemplified perfect faith as she faced this situation with her young son, Ismail.
Pained upon leaving his wife and son, and entrusting them to Allah, Ibrahim made the following du’a:

"Our Lord, I have settled some of my descendants in an uncultivated valley near Your sacred House, our Lord, that they may establish prayer. So make hearts among the people incline toward them and provide for them from the fruits that they might be grateful.” [Quran 14:37]
Allah hears and knows all things and He rewarded both Ibrahim and Hajar for their faith and steadfastness. While desperately searching for water for her little son, Hajar ascended Mount Safa and when she descended to the valley, she ran till she reached Mount Marwah. She ran between the mountains many times; concerned about her son but sure of the help of her Lord. As she was running Allah Sent Jibreel (Gabriel) to cause the water of Zamzam to flow and soon after the tribe of Jurhum settled there.
Later Ibrahim returned to Makkah and built the Ka’bah with his son, Ismail, praying that his descendants would believe in Allah. Answering his supplication, Allah sent the seal of the Prophets, Muhammad, peace be upon him, from Makkah to establish Islam. From its beginning, the Ka’bah was a spiritual centre.

The Call of Ibrahim

Muhammad was sent by Allah to purify the religion of Ibrahim from distortion Ibrahim was ordered by Allah to proclaim Hajj, calling those who believe in Allah at all times and in every place to visit the House of their Lord.
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “…Ibrahim stood on the stone and said, ’O mankind! Pilgrimage has been ordained upon you!’ His voice reached those in the loins of men and the wombs of women. So those who believed and those whom Allah Decreed would perform Hajj until the Day of Resurrection responded saying, Here I am, O Allah, here I am.” (At-Tabari)
Muhammad PBUH was sent by Allah to purify the religion of Ibrahim from distortion. The Prophet PBUH  said: “Truly, I was written as the Seal of the Prophets with Allah when Adam was still lying on the ground…I am the supplication of my father Ibrahim and the good tidings of my brother ‘Eesa (Jesus)….
Until today, Muslims answer the call of Ibrahim by performing pilgrimage and at least five times a day, Muslims face toward Makkah in their prayers, unified in obedience to Allah.

Upon What Does the Qiblah Unite Us?

Many tears are shed as Muslims face the Qiblah and pray; many sins are forgiven and many hearts are guided
Having a Qiblah not only gives the Muslims a physical direction to face in Prayer, but it also unifies our hearts, making it easier to focus on clearly defined goals of worship, manners and behavior.
Prophet Muhammad said:
I only came to teach you good character.
Everything that forms a decent character and noble manners is instilled in Muslims and is part of what unites us; honesty, trustworthiness, justice, tolerance and so on. One Qiblah, one straight path, one code of conduct and one mass of people facing it five times a day; a spectacle of human spirituality and devotion!
Allah gave us the means to follow His way and He does not leave us alone in our struggle to live up to the moral and ethical standards of a life that faces the Qiblah.
Allah Says: "And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me - indeed I Am Near. I Respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me." [Quran 2: 186]
Many tears are shed as Muslims face the Qiblah and pray; many sins are forgiven and many hearts are guided. The Muslims become one; free of the burdens of pride and racism, as hearts seek the Creator and all that pleases Him. Many hearts become humble, and intentions and wishes form on the lips of humble supplicants. Grievances are relieved and hearts are healed. The earth heaves a sigh when masses of humanity turn in unity and harmony in one direction, praying to the one Lord, with oneness of heart and intention.
This is the Qiblah! Let it help us make this world our bridge to the hereafter and as all creation worships its Lord, let us not be the exception.

14 August 2014

Picture perfect: Be Patient

“And be patient, for surely Allah does not waste  the reward  of the good-doers.”
[Quran 11:115]