Top 5 Lies About Israel’s Assault on Gaza

From GazaTalk.com

Lie #1) Israel is only targeting legitimate military sites and is seeking to protect innocent lives. Israel never targets civilians.

Location of Gaza Strip
Image via Wikipedia

The Gaza Strip is one of the most densely populated pieces of property in the world. The presence of militants within a civilian population does not, under international law, deprive that population of their protected status, and hence any assault upon that population under the guise of targeting militants is, in fact, a war crime.

Moreover, the people Israel claims are legitimate targets are members of Hamas, which Israel says is a terrorist organization. Hamas has been responsible for firing rockets into Israel. These rockets are extremely inaccurate and thus, even if Hamas intended to hit military targets within Israel, are indiscriminate by nature. When rockets from Gaza kill Israeli civilians, it is a war crime.

Hamas has a military wing. However, it is not entirely a military organization, but a political one. Members of Hamas are the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Dozens of these elected leaders have been kidnapped and held in Israeli prisons without charge. Others have been targeted for assassination, such as Nizar Rayan, a top Hamas official. To kill Rayan, Israel targeted a residential apartment building. The strike not only killed Rayan but two of his wives and four of his children, along with six others. There is no justification for such an attack under international law. This was a war crime.

Other of Israel?s bombardment with protected status under international law have included a mosque, a prison, police stations, and a university, in addition to residential buildings.

Moreover, Israel has long held Gaza under siege, allowing only the most minimal amounts of humanitarian supplies to enter. Israel is bombing and killing Palestinian civilians. Countless more have been wounded, and cannot receive medical attention. Hospitals running on generators have little or no fuel. Doctors have no proper equipment or medical supplies to treat the injured. These people, too, are the victims of Israeli policies targeted not at Hamas or legitimate military targets, but directly designed to punish the civilian population.

Lie #2) Hamas violated the cease-fire. The Israeli bombardment is a response to Palestinian rocket fire and is designed to end such rocket attacks.

Israel never observed the cease-fire to begin with. From the beginning, it announced a ?special security zone? within the Gaza Strip and announced that Palestinians who enter this zone will be fired upon. In other words, Israel announced its intention that Israeli soldiers would shoot at farmers and other individuals attempting to reach their own land in direct violation of not only the cease-fire but international law.

Despite shooting incidents, including ones resulting in Palestinians getting injured, Hamas still held to the cease-fire from the time it went into effect on June 19 until Israel effectively ended the truce on November 4 by launching an airstrike into Gaza that killed five and injured several others.

Israel?s violation of the cease-fire predictably resulted in retaliation from militants in Gaza who fired rockets into Israel in response. The increased barrage of rocket fire at the end of December is being used as justification for the continued Israeli bombardment, but is a direct response by militants to the Israeli attacks.

Israel?s actions, including its violation of the cease-fire, predictably resulted in an escalation of rocket attacks against its own population.

Lie #3) Hamas is using human shields, a war crime.

There has been no evidence that Hamas has used human shields. The fact is, as previously noted, Gaza is a small piece of property that is densely populated. Israel engages in indiscriminate warfare such as the assassination of Nizar Rayan, in which members of his family were also murdered. It is victims like his dead children that Israel defines as ?human shields? in its propaganda. There is no legitimacy for this interpretation under international law. In circumstances such as these, Hamas is not using human shields, Israel is committing war crimes in violation of the Geneva Conventions and other applicable international law.

Lie #4) Arab nations have not condemned Israel?s actions because they understand Israel?s justification for its assault.

The populations of those Arab countries are outraged at Israel?s actions and at their own governments for not condemning Israel?s assault and acting to end the violence. Simply stated, the Arab governments do not represent their respective Arab populations. The populations of the Arab nations have staged mass protests in opposition to not only Israel?s actions but also the inaction of their own governments and what they view as either complacency or complicity in Israel?s crimes.

Moreover, the refusal of Arab nations to take action to come to the aid of the Palestinians is not because they agree with Israel?s actions, but because they are submissive to the will of the US, which fully supports Israel. Egypt, for instance, which refused to open the border to allow Palestinians wounded in the attacks to get medical treatment in Egyptian hospitals, is heavily dependent upon US aid, and is being widely criticized within the population of the Arab countries for what is viewed as an absolute betrayal of the Gaza Palestinians.

Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been regarded as a traitor to his own people for blaming Hamas for the suffering of the people of Gaza. Palestinians are also well aware of Abbas? past perceived betrayals in conniving with Israel and the US to sideline the democratically elected Hamas government, culminating in a counter-coup by Hamas in which it expelled Fatah (the military wing of Abbas? Palestine Authority) from the Gaza Strip. While his apparent goal was to weaken Hamas and strengthen his own position, the Palestinians and other Arabs in the Middle East are so outraged at Abbas that it is unlikely he will be able to govern effectively.

Lie #5) Israel is not responsible for civilian deaths because it warned the Palestinians of Gaza to flee areas that might be targeted.

Israel claims it sent radio and telephone text messages to residents of Gaza warning them to flee from the coming bombardment. But the people of Gaza have nowhere to flee to. They are trapped within the Gaza Strip. It is by Israeli design that they cannot escape across the border. It is by Israeli design that they have no food, water, or fuel by which to survive. It is by Israeli design that hospitals in Gaza have no electricity and few medical supplies with which to treat the injured and save lives. And Israel has bombed vast areas of Gaza, targeting civilian infrastructure and other sites with protected status under international law. No place is safe within the Gaza Strip.

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Friday Khutbah: The Third Parent

Friday Khutbah: The Third Parent

by Muhammad Alshareef

A close friend of mine went overseas to study Islam, and before he left he visited a family he knew. He said that as he left, he noticed the son â?? who was seven years old at the time â?? slacked out on his stomach, chin locked in his two hands, staring deathly at the TV. When he returned after four full years, he visited the same family and found the same boy slacked out on his stomach, chin locked in his two hands, staring deathly at the TV – only now he was four years older.

This khutbah looks at the dark side of television. It is not intended to make you throw your television set off the balcony â?? although that would be nice. It is hoped that this khutbah will give you a better understanding of the destructive nature TV has on a personâ??s life, in this world and in the hereafter, not only on his own life, but also the lives of his family members.

In Qawaaâ??id Fiqhiyyaah there is a principle which states, “Al Waasaaâ??il taâ??khudhu Hukm al-Ghaayaat,” meaning, “The means takes the same ruling as the intention of what is trying to be attained.” A television set, with its wires, screen, box, and plug is nothing more than a means. It is what is trying to be attained by that box that makes it haram or halaal. Another example is that of a gun; it can be used for noble purposes, such as defending oneâ??s land from aggression, or it can serve as a means of considerable harm, especially when given to a child.

In an Arab ESL class, the teacher, in his opening lesson asked the students what English words were taken from the Arabic language. A few hands went up and students said things like, “Chemistry from keemiyaa,” “Algebra from al-gebr,” “Physics from feesiyaa,” etc. Then he asked them what Arabic words were taken from the English language and answers came quickly. “Raadiyo from radio, ” “Dosh from satellite dish, “and of course “Tilfaaz from television.”

What did the West take from us, and what did we take from them?

With regards to television, Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Al-Fataawa (3/227):

“â?¦it is a dangerous device and its harmful effects are very great, like those of the cinema, or even worse. We know from the research that has been written about it and from the words of experts in Arab countries and elsewhere that it is dangerous and very harmful to Islamic beliefs (aqeedah), morals and the state of society. This is because it includes the presentation of bad morals, tempting scenes, immoral pictures, semi-nakedness, destructive speech and kufr. It encourages imitation of their conduct and ways of dressing, respect for their leaders, neglect of Islamic conduct and ways of dressing, and looking down on the scholars and heroes of Islam by portraying them in an off-putting manner that makes people despise them and ignore them. It shows people how to cheat, steal, hatch plots and commit acts of violence against others.”

He continued, “Without doubt, anything that produces so many bad results should be stopped and shunned, and we have to close all the doors that could lead to it. If some of our brothers denounce it and speak out against it, we cannot blame them, because this is a part of sincerity towards Allah and towards other people.”

In Sahih Al-Bukhari, when Guraayj was praying and his mother called him, he said to himself, “O Allah, my salah or my mother?” He did not know whether to continue his prayer or discontinue it and reply to his mother. Because he did not reply to this motherâ??s call, she cursed him. She said, “May you see a prostitute!” She did not say, “May there be a relationship between you and a prostitute.” She just said, “May you see[one].” And her curse is one that we may inadvertently be inflicting on our children the day we sanctioned the introduction of the third parent called TV. How many times has the main theme of prime time TV revolved around prostitutes? How many times have our children witnessed it? How many times have they been cursed to be in such a situation?

Abdullah ibn ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu once passed by some people killing time by playing chess. He was shocked at this and angrily said to them, quoting the verse of the Qurâ??an:

What are these IDOLS that you are standing in vigilance over?

What would he think if he saw the television set and the welcoming hug it receives in most Muslim homes? When a Muslim nation plays in the World Cup, over three million Muslims from that one country tune in to television to watch the game. Multiply that by the duration of the match, and you have almost five million hours of the ummahâ??s time wasted on a football game, in one sweeping night. If Karl Marx said in 1844 that “Religion is the opium of people,” then what about TV?

RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:

“The person shall be (on the day of Judgment) with those that he loves.”

Tell a Muslim child that if he loves Michael Jackson so much, then on the Day of Judgment he will get to be with him. Itâ??s sad, but most Muslim children would get happy and excited about the prospect. Isnâ??t that enough to strike fear into our hearts? Who are the Muslim children really going to be with on the Day of Repayment? Most of them cannot tell you the names, even just the names, of those people that we hope them to be with!

Letâ??s ask ourselves, if we allowed our sons or daughters to put up a poster of their hero, the one whom they think is the ‘coolest,’ would their hero be their father or mother? Would it be the Prophet or his companions? Or would it be a basketball player that he saw on TV? Or an actor (even a cartoon character) that he saw on TV? Or a model that she saw on TV? Or a musician that he/she saw on TV? Who would it be?

Some argue that TV time is monitored in the house by the parent. However, 95% of parents with children aged 8 and over donâ??t monitor the viewing material. Besides, what happens if the parent dies on the way to work one day and the children inherit the TV? RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam said:

“There is not a single shepherd (Ameer) that Allah entrusted with a flock â?? who if he dies in a state where he cheated them â?? Allah shall forbid him from entering paradise!”

The ‘ulama would quote this hadith in regard to the father in a Muslim country that would allow a satellite dish to enter into the home of his family which Allah entrusted him with.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are not here on earth to entertain ourselves to death. We are an ummah with a risaalah (message)! When Ribâ??ee ibn ‘Aamir radi Allahu anhu stood at the hands of the king of Persia, he announced the message as proudly and as clearly as every Muslim should. “Allah sent us to rescue humanity from slavery to slaves – to the slavery of the Lord of all slaves; and to rescue them from the choke of the material life to the expanse of this life and the next, and from the corruption of the cults to the justice of Islam!”

Allah subhaanahu wa ta â??aala states in the Qurâ??an:

Verily! Hearing, sight, and the heart, all will be questioned (by Allah) (Al-Israa 17/36).

And RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam informed us that on the Day of Repayment, no one will move until they are asked about three things, one of which will be their youth and how they spent it.

How are we spending our time? Why do we waste it watching TV? What do our eyes see, what do our ears hear on TV and how is our heart affected by this?

If we donâ??t know how to recite Qurâ??an, why arenâ??t we registering for a tajweed course at a Qurâ??an institute? If we donâ??t know the language of the Qurâ??an and Sunnah, why arenâ??t we registering for an Arabic program? If we donâ??t know about the life of RasulAllah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and his companions radi Allahu anhum why arenâ??t we attending the seerah and fiqh classes in our localities?

Also, with regards to TV, we should remember that Allah tells us in the Qurâ??an:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is all-aware of what they do (An-Noor 24/30).

How do reconcile these verses with the television that assaults our eyes with haram almost every second that it is on?

Who hasnâ??t heard of Cupid? They portray him in cartoons and comedies as a chubby child with wings who is supposed to be the Angel of Love, shooting arrows of ‘love’ when the male looks at the female. Rather dear brothers and sisters, it is Iblees! For RasulAllah sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam told us, “Verily the â??lookâ?? is a poisoned arrow from the arrows of Iblees!”

Shaykh At-Tahhaan once narrated an incident to his students:

It was late at night when Shaykh At-Tahhaanâ??s phone rang. This Muslimah whispered into the phone, ‘Is this Shaykh At-Tahhaan?’

He said, ‘Yes it is me.’

She kept saying, ‘Is it really you?’

And he said, ‘Yes, what is wrong?’

At that she just started sobbing and sobbing into the phone. After some time, she explained, ‘The childrenâ??s father bought a TV and video machine two days ago. Tonight I found my young son practicing the haram that he saw on his younger sister! ‘ Then she collapsed sobbing again.

Everything starts with a look. Big fires start with a little spark.

PART II: Turn Off TV, Turn On Life

After a grueling first year in the Faculty of Shariâ??ah at the Islamic University in Madinah, I came home to Canada where I spoke to a friend whom I hadnâ??t spoken to for over a year. In the conversation he said, “Last night on TV Seinfeld said… ” I was puzzled and realized that for an entire year I had not heard anything other than “Imam Shaafiâ??ee saidâ?¦” and “Imam Abu Hanifah saidâ?¦” It was this ignorance that Shaykh Abdul Muhsin ‘Al-Abbaad referred to when he would say “We ask Allah taâ??aala to increase us in itâ??s ignorance.”

Some people argue that TV is just a harmless avenue of entertainment and that no one should make a big deal about it. It is interesting however that we see in Shariâ??ah that what is more deadly than haram is bidâ??ah. Why you ask? Because when someone does something haram like eating pork, he knows it is haram and that one day it is hoped that knowledge will lead him to fear Allah and refrain. Bidâ??ah, on the other hand, is something a person does with the hope of reward from Allah, something that the person considers to be ‘harmless.’ It is deadlier because the chances of this person correcting the situation are less due to the ignorance which causes a lack of motivation.

Other people say that they have a TV for the news and Islamic or educational programs. But we have to honestly ask ourselves â?? is there no other avenue to get the news? Is there no other means by which a child can be educated and stimulated to learn?

Didnâ??t anyone ask why we get all this ‘free’ TV? What does the TV sell? No it doesnâ??t sell Coke or Nike or McDonalds burgers; it sells the audience, it sells you to advertising companies! Why do you think they charge $1 million for 30 seconds of advertising in a Superbowl game?

Consider these facts:

Brand loyalty starts at age 2. They can snatch a child into a lifetime of allegiance to their product from that tender age. How old were you when you started loving Coke or Pepsi?

On average, a viewer watches 20,000 commercials each year. If we repeated a page of Qurâ??an to you that many times, do you think you would memorize it?

This is just regarding the products. But what about the aqeedah that we are being exposed to on TV. A whole stack of beliefs gets fed to us every time our children sit to watch and listen to their third parent. Where are the horrific stats for that?

Go to a lecture where the imam is talking about womenâ??s rights in Islam. Listen to the Muslim males and females debate with the imam. Where do they get their points? Why do they become so hostile towards anything that contradicts the western view of womenâ??s rights? Why is there no hostility towards the western view? Most of it was learned on TV, the rest was learned in the public school curriculum.

If this is the programming, the brain washing of our youth, then how can they be reprogrammed when they prefer the TV over anyone else. It is a fact that more than half of American children would rather watch TV than spend time with their mother or father.

In a survey which asked children what the one thing is which they would sacrifice their favorite TV shows for, many replied that if there was some sort of outside activity they would give preference to that. Meaning, if someone took them by the hand and organized some after school activities, they would embrace the idea.

Here is a list of other things that you can do instead of being shackled to the TV:

  • Play outdoor games and exercise outdoors or at home.
  • Build extra curricular skills, such as martial arts or calligraphy or sewing.
  • Visit the library.
  • Take on a job, which will ensure that you become serious about life and work.
  • Do acts of worship like dhikr, salah, reciting Qurâ??an, fasting, and reflecting on the signs of Allah and His creation.
  • Adopt an Islamic cause in the place where you live, and take part in it, such as teaching Muslim girls.
  • Support an Islamic magazine by writing and sending articles, statistics and useful information of interest concerning Muslims in the west.
  • Take part in charitable projects to help Muslim orphans, widows, divorcees and the elderly, or join a committee to help organize social programs and celebrations for Muslims on Eid.
  • Find righteous friends to meet with and good neighbors to visit.
  • Read Islamic books in particular and useful stories in general.
  • Take part in daâ??wah activities and preschool programs in Islamic centers.
  • Listen to tapes and lectures, write summaries of them, and distribute the summaries to anyone who could benefit from them.
  • Cook items to be sold to raise funds for the Islamic center.
  • Take an interest in computers and computer programs. This is a vast field that can fill a lot of time, and the computer can be used to do a lot of good things as well as providing entertainment in the form of permissible games.

Today is the beginning of a new day. Allah gave us this day to use as we will. We can waste it or use it for something good and beneficial.

But let us know that what we do today is important because we are exchanging a day of our life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever and in its place shall be something that we left behind; let that be something good and beneficial.

Source: khutbah.com

The Five Pillars Of Islam

From www.islamworld.net

Shahadah

The first pillar of Islam is that a Muslim believe and declare his faith by saying the Shahadah (lit. ‘witness’), also known as the Kalimah:

La ilaha ila Allah; Muhammadur-rasul Allah. ‘There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’
This declaration contains two parts. The first part refers to God Almighty, the Creator of everything, the Lord of the Worlds; the second part refers to the Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) a prophet and a human being, who received the revelation through the Archangel Gabriel, and taught it to mankind.
By sincerely uttering the Shahadah the Muslim acknowledges Allah as the sole Creator of all, and the Supreme Authority over everything and everyone in the universe. Consequently the Muslim closes his/her heart and mind to loyalty, devotion and obedience to, trust in, reliance on, and worship of anything or anyone other than Allah. This rejection is not confined merely to pagan gods and goddesses of wood and stone and created by human hands and imaginations; this rejection must extend to all other conceptions, superstitions, ideologies, ways of life, and authority figures that claim supreme devotion, loyalty, trust, love, obedience or worship. This entails, for example, the rejection of belief in such common things as astrology, palm reading, good luck charms, fortune-telling and psychic readings, in addition to praying at shrines or graves of “saints”, asking the dead souls to intercede for them with Allah. There are no intercessors in Islam, nor any class of clergy as such; a Muslim prays directly and exclusively to Allah.

Belief in the prophethood of Muhammad (pbuh) entails belief in the guidance brought by him and contained in his Sunnah (traditions of his sayings and actions), and demands of the Muslim the intention to follow his guidance faithfully. Muhammad (pbuh) was also a human being, a man with feelings and emotions, who ate, drank and slept, and was born and died, like other men. He had a pure and upright nature, extraordinary righteousness, and an unwavering faith in Allah and commitment to Islam, but he was not divine. Muslims do not pray to him, not even as an intercessor, and Muslims abhor the terms “Mohamedan” and “Mohamedanism”.

Salah

Prayer (Salah), in the sense of worship, is the second pillar of Islam. Prayer is obligatory and must be performed five times a day. These five times are dawn (Fajr), immediately after noon (Dhuhr), mid-afternoon (‘Asr), sunset (Maghrib), and early night (Isha’). Ritual cleanliness and ablution are required before prayer, as are clean clothes and location, and the removal of shoes. One may pray individually or communally, at home, outside, virtually any clean place, as well as in a mosque, though the latter is preferred. Special is the Friday noon prayer, called Jum’ah. It, too, is obligatory and is to be done in a mosque, in congregation. It is accompanied by a sermon (Khutbah), and it replaces the normal Dhuhr prayer.

There is no hierarchical clerical authority in Islam, no priests or ministers. Prayers are led by any learned person who knows the Qur’an and is chosen by the congregation. He (or she, if the congregation is all women) is called the imam. There is also no minimum number of congregants required to hold communal prayers. Prayer consists of verses from the Qur’an and other prayers, accompanied by various bodily postures – standing, bowing, prostrating and sitting. They are said in Arabic, the language of the revelation, though personal supplications (Du’ah) can be offered in one’s own language. Worshippers face the Qiblah, the direction of the Ka’bah in the city of Makkah.

The significance of prayer lies in one’s maintaining a continuous link to God five times a day, which helps the worshipper avoid misdeeds if he/she performs the prayers sincerely. In addition it promotes discipline, God-consciousness and placing one’s trust in Allah alone, and the importance of striving for the Hereafter. When performed in congregation it also provides a strong sense of community, equality and brotherhood/sisterhood.

Fasting (Sawm)

The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting. Allah prescribes daily fasting for all able, adult Muslims during the whole of the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, beginning with the sighting of the new moon. Exempted from the fast are the very old and the insane. On the physical side, fasting is from first light of dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations. On the moral, behavioral side, one must abstain from lying, malicious gossip, quarreling and trivial nonsense.

Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant, or nursing are permitted to break the fast, but must make up an equal number of days later in the year. If physically unable to do so, they must feed a needy person for each day missed. Children begin to fast (and to observe the prayers) from puberty, although many start earlier.

Although fasting is beneficial to the health, it is regarded principally as a method of self-purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly pleasures and comforts, even for a short time, the fasting person gains true sympathy for those who go hungry regularly, and achieves growth in his spiritual life, learning discipline, self-restraint, patience and flexibility.

In addition to the fast proper, one is encouraged to read the entire Qur’an. In addition, special prayers, called Tarawih, are held in the mosque every night of the month, during which a whole section of the Qur’an (Juz’) is recited, so that by the end of the month the entire Qur’an has been completed. These are done in remembrance of the fact that the revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was begun during Ramadan.

During the last ten days – though the exact day is never known and may not even be the same every year – occurs the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr). To spend that night in worship is equivalent to a thousand months of worship, i.e. Allah’s reward for it is very great.

On the first day of the following month, after another new moon has been sighted, a special celebration is made, called ‘Id al-Fitr. A quantity of staple food is donated to the poor (Zakat al-Fitr), everyone has bathed and put on their best, preferably new, clothes, and communal prayers are held in the early morning, followed by feasting and visiting relatives and friends.

There are other fast days throughout the year. Muslims are encouraged to fast six days in Shawwal, the month following Ramadan, Mondays and Thursdays, and the ninth and tenth, or tenth and eleventh of Muharram, the first month of the year. The tenth day, called Ashurah, is also a fast day for the Jews (Yom Kippur), and Allah commanded the Muslims to fast two days to distinguish themselves from the People of the Book.

While fasting per se is encouraged, constant fasting, as well as monasticism, celibacy, and otherwise retreating from the real world, are condemned in Islam. Fasting on the two festival days, ‘Id al-Fitr and ‘Id al-Adha, the feast of the Hajj, is strictly forbidden.

Zakah

The third pillar of Islam is the alms-tax (Zakah). It is a tax on wealth, payable on various categories of property, notably savings and investments, produce, inventory of goods, salable crops and cattle, and precious metals, and is to be used for the various categories of distribution specified by Islamic law. It is also an act of purification through sharing what one has with others.

The rationale behind this is that Muslims believe that everything belongs to God, and wealth is held by man as a trust. This trust must be discharged, moreover, as instructed by God, as that portion of our wealth legally belongs to other people and must be given to them. If we refuse and hoard this wealth, it is considered impure and unclean. If, for example one were to use that wealth for charity or to finance one’s pilgrimage to Makkah, those acts would also be impure, invalid, and of course unrewarded. Allah says:

“Of their wealth, take alms so you may purify and sanctify them.” [9:103]
The word Zakah means purification and growth. Our possessions are purified by setting aside that portion of it for those in need. Each Muslim calculates his or her own Zakah individually.
For most purposes this involves the payment each year of 2.5% of one’s capital, provided that this capital reaches a certain minimum amount that which is not consumed by its owner. A generous person can pay more than this amount, though it is treated and rewarded as voluntary charity (Sadaqah). This amount of money is provided to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, and can be used in many useful projects for the welfare of the community.

Historically the pillar of Zakah became mandatory on Muslims form the second year after the Hijrah, 622 C.E. It is mentioned more than thirty times in the Qur’an, usually in the same breath as Salah. So important is this pillar that one is not considered a part of the Islamic brotherhood if one ignores this obligation.

Hajj

The fifth pillar of Islam is to make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah, in Saudi Arabia, at least once in one’s lifetime. This pillar is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, provided that he/she is physically and financially able to do so. Prerequisites for performing the Hajj are to be a Muslim, to be free, to be an adult or mature enough, to be of sound mind, and to have the ability to afford the journey and maintain one’s dependents back home for the duration. The reward for the Hajj is nothing less than Paradise.The Hajj is the ultimate form of worship, as it involves the spirit of all the other rituals and demands of the believer great sacrifice. On this unique occasion, nearly two million Muslims from all over the globe meet one another in a given year. Regardless of the season, pilgrims wear special clothes (Ihram) – two, very simple, unsewn white garments – which strips away all distinctions of wealth, status, class and culture; all stand together and equal before Allah (God).

The rites of Hajj, which go back to the time of Prophet Abraham who built the Ka’bah, are observed over five or six days, beginning on the eighth day of the last month of the year, named Dhul-Hijjah (pilgrimage). These rites include circumambulating the Ka’bah (Tawwaf), and going between the mountains of Safa and Marwah, as Hajjar (Abraham’s wife) did during her search for water for her son Isma’il. Then the pilgrims stand together on the wide plain of Arafah and join in prayers for God’s forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Last Judgment. The pilgrims also cast stones at a stone pillar which represents Satan. The pilgrimage ends with a festival, called ‘Id al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers, the sacrifice of an animal, and the exchange of greetings and gifts in Muslim communities everywhere.