Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ramadan - Be moderate with food; put aside 'puasa yang yok...'

*************** In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ********************** Reflection ************************* The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. **************** ********************** AMONGST members of a Malay family, this tune might be popular to the oldies - 'puasa yang yok, bangun pagi bukak periuk' - which literaly means a person waking up in the morning looking up for food from the cooking pot during the fasting month of Ramadan! ********************* This catching saying is to redicule a person who failed to observe the compulsory fasting of Ramadan. For about 30 days, every Muslim must observe 'sawm' which is the third obligation from the Five Pillars of Islam (Rukun Islam) that are shahadah (declaration that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet), salat (praying five times daily), sawm (fasting during the month of Ramadan), zakat (paying tithe) and hajj (to make a pilgrimage to Makkah at least once in a lifetime). ******************* Neverthess, there are people who are exempted from fasting; they included those in condition such as illness or disabilities, insanity, travel, pregnancy and menstruation. Those who are unable to fast are obliged to make up for it later on. ******************** In ayah 184 Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow), Allah SWT (The Greatest) mentioned: "(Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and those who can afford it there is a ranson; the feeding of a man in need - But whoso doeth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did not know..." *************************** "Puasa yang yok, bangun pagi bukak periuk' clearly testifies that the Malays are 'serious' on fasting - that they could not take lightly on people who do not fast; it is a common knowledge that parents would urge or guide their children to fast at a very young age but sadly to say that there are families who do not pay serious attention to their children performing the second 'Rukun Islam' that is salat. *********************** Thus in society there are bound to be individuals who fast but do not say their five times compulsory daily prayers. They seemed not to realize that without performing salat, their good deeds in performing 'sawm' would be put on hold by Allah SWT. In a ‘hadith’ narrated by Darimi: Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah s.a.w. said: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” ******************** Ustaz Muhamad Abdullah Al-Amin who anchors a talk show on family matters over Radio IKIM on every Monday mornings, often stresses that the Malays are good and keen in fasting, the Arabs in reading the Qur'an while the Indians and Pakistanis in performing prayers. The Arabs could be seen reading the Qur'an almost everywhere at anytime for long period of time whereas the Indians and Pakistanis are keen in performing many of the recommended salat. ********************* Well, while the Malays 'are good' in fasting but when it comes to iftar (breaking of fast) however, many misunderstand it. Nowadays, with the galore of Ramadan bazaars and buffets, enticing those who fast especially in the tail end of the day, Malays tend to over do it at iftar. It is absolutely against the spirit of Islam,. It is meant to be a time of simplicity and moderation. It is said that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. broke fast with just three dates before he went for maghrib (evening) prayers. ******************* Ramadan is about taking less food (because you can only eat after sunset) but the irony of it, Ramadan is the month where some Malaysian Muslims especially the Malays spend so much money on it and it is the time of the year when one could have 'exotic food ' including ‘kuih’ (cakes) never found on any other time such as 'badak berendam', 'tahi itik' and 'tepung pelita'. ******************* Ramadan teaches Muslims to be trift on their spending. But it is normal for a Malaysian Muslim family spending more during Ramadan especially on food, clothing and decoration of the house. Ramadan is the best time of the year for Muslims to double or triple his or her good deeds as required by Islam, teaches us to feel the pangs of hunger of the poor people of the world. ****************** It has been reported that one person in the world dies every three seconds because of hunger. So wasting of food is criminal. But how is the situation in our country and other rich Muslim nations where the word ‘hunger’ seemed ‘quite unfamiliar’ to us, and seemingly is happening in far faraway lands. In United Arab Emirates (UAE) it was reported that 500 tons of food are thrown away each year in the holy month of Ramadan! ***************** Malaysia is a food heaven - but it is also one giant food dump. It generates about 15,000 tonnes of food and kitchen waste daily - enough to fill 7.5 football fields or to feed 7.5 million people a day. This is a hike from 2011, where about 930 tonnes of unconsumed food were thrown away every day. And that was double the 2009 figure. In Kuala Lumpur alone, the waste comes up to about 3,000 tonnes a day while the Consumers Association of Penang claimed that the island alone generated 355 tonnes of food waste every day.Of the amount wasted, between 10 per cent and 15 per cent comprised unconsumed and expired food. ******************** The lavish meal of iftar, many say dishonor the spirit of the Muslim holy month - and create an immense a mount of waste. Muslims should be reminded to be moderate with food, and this call could be made by ‘imams’ during ‘tazkirah’ (short religious talk) while doing the optional mass ‘tarawih’ prayers in masjids (special night prayers perform only during Ramadan) or when giving ‘khutbah’ (sermons) on the first Friday prayer of Ramadan. ******************** During a 'tazkirah' at a masjid near my house recently, the 'ustaz' stressed that Muslims especially housewives should not spend too much time in kitchen during Ramadan to prepare food of various recipies and luxurious spreads. He said the time spend should be used to perform 'ibadah' (good deeds) to make one closer to Allah SWT. So, please benefit time fully during Ramadan. ******************* Muslims should work hard to gain maximum benefits from the gifts of Allah SWT during Ramadan. In this holy month, one ‘sunat’ (optional) deed done would be rewarded like a ‘wajib’ or ‘fardu’ (obligatory) deed, and a ‘fardu’ deed would be rewarded 70 times or more than in other months. We should not waste any time including spending too much time in the kitchen during Ramadan because it is very precious. “Grab the oppourtunities given by The Almighty by considering this is our last Ramadan. ****************** If it is our last, then we should do our best to please our Creator, Allah SWT. Every second counts thus fulfill it with activities in accordance to the Creator’s wish. Our Ramadan days should not be wasted by doing unrewarded deeds. Housewives who spend time in the kitchen too are advised to do ‘zikir’ (dhikir that is eulogizing Allah in the words taught by the Prophet or in the words prescribed in the Qur’an). *********************** One’s tongue should be wet with words of praising Allah SWT with the chants of ‘Laa Ilaha IllAllah (there is no God except Allah) which is the heaviest in weight in the side of Allah SWT. Then there are many more ‘kalimah’ that should be read such as ‘Subhanallah, Walhamdulillah, Wala Ilaha Illallah, Wallahuakbar’, Astaghfirullah al Lazi La Ilaha ‘illa Hual Hayyul Qayyum Wa Atubu Illahi’, ‘La Haula Wala Quwwata Illa Billah’, and ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi Subhanallahil ‘Azim’. ************************** There is a hadith saying that chanting ‘Subhanallahi Wabihamdihi’ once, a ‘nakhlah’ tree would be planted for that person in Paradise. In doing our daily chores such as being in the kitchen, paying bills, waiting for public transport and even when one is trapped in a massive traffic jam, why not use the time to recite the above ‘kalimah’. These ‘kalimah’ should be chanted in full concentration for the maximum rewards by Allah SWT but for the ‘zikir selawat’ (praises to Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.) its reciters' would also be rewarded even if his mind is not on what they recite, what more if he pays full attention to it. Among the simplest ‘selawat’ is ‘Allahumma Salli Ala Saiyidina Muhammad, Wa’ ala Ali Saiyidina Muhammad’. ************************* Those who spend too much time in the kitchen should realize a simple meal for iftar is enough, this is shown by the simple life of the Prophet s.a.w. who would be satisfied with bread, dates and vinegar. It has been established that the Prophet s.a.w. led a simple life, free of all pretence. With regard to his food, he always ate whatever was available, criticizing nothing. *************************** If he did not like something, he did not eat it, saying nothing against it. He always expressed gratitude for having any type of food, making clear that no matter how simple or humble the food available, God was to be praised for having provided it. Umm Hani’ was a cousin of the Prophet s.a.w. whom he frequently visited. She reports: “The Prophet came to my house once and asked if I had anything to eat. I said: ‘No, I have nothing except dry bread and vinegar.’ He said: ‘Bring it. Blessed is the house that has vinegar to go with bread.’” (Related by Al-Tirmidhi.) ********************** The Prophet's s.a.w. young wife, Aisha' reports: “God’s Messenger (s.a.w.) used to like sweet food and honey.” (Related by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah.) He ate of these whenever they were available, but if things were scarce, he was content to have anything, even if it consisted of nothing other than bread and vinegar. ************************ Note that at the Prophet's s.a.w. house, a fire was not lit for days even months, signalling there was no food in his house. He did not refuse good food, and he did not go out of his way to seek it, rather he would eat what was available, but if it was not available he would be patient, and he would tie a stone to his stomach because of hunger! ************************ But what we have here, during iftar luxurious, exotic, tasty and good food were spread on the table; only a portion of it went inside our stomachs; the rest thrown into dustbins and drains! *********************** In conclusion, please think about thoroughly consumption of food of your daily diet either in Ramadan especially during iftar, or normal days. Be moderate and proper cosumption including give to poor or needy people is the best amongst any sadqa (charity).

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