ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
Ramadan is just around the corner and we thought it appropriate to begin preparing for it now and reviewing the purpose and meaning of fasting.
Ramadan is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar, known as the Hijra calendar. The calendar derives its name from the Hijra (migration) of Prophet Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, (may peace and blessings be upon him) from Makkah to Al-Madina. The Muslim calendar consists of 12 months and each month commences with the sighting of the new moon. This means the Hijra year is shorter than the Gregorian year, so Ramadan and the other months span all the seasons over a 33-year cycle. [The actual fixing of the years according to the Hijra calendar was not set until the Caliphate of Umar bin Al-Khattab, radiya ALLAHu anhu, (may ALLAH be pleased with him).]
During Ramadan, all able Muslims, male and female, are required to fast from Fajr, dawn, to Maghrib, sunset. Fasting consists of refraining from eating, drinking and marital relations during the fasting hours. After Maghrib and until Fajr, Muslims may partake of these activities. The fasting continues for the entire month.
Fasting was prescribed for a specific reason, which has been clearly stated in Surat Al-Baqara as follows:
"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain Taqwa (GOD-Consciousness, self-restraint, piety)." (Al-Baqara: 183)
This verse clearly states that the purpose of fasting is to increase one's Taqwa. Taqwa is a difficult word to translate and a has been translated as self-restraint, GOD-consciousness and perhaps other things. Taqwa is a state whereby the being is aware of his existence, aware of his purpose in life and is focused on fulfilling that purpose as best he can. The purpose of humanity is stated in Surat At-Thariyat as follows:
"And I (ALLAH) created the Jinn and mankind, that they should worship ME (Alone). I do not seek sustenance from them (i.e., provision for themselves or for MY creatures) nor do I require that they should feed ME (i.e., feed themselves or MY creatures). For ALLAH is the All-Provider (source of all sustenance), Owner of Power, the Most Strong." (At-Thariyat: 56-58)
ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, (Glory be to HIM) has created humanity for the sole purpose of worshipping HIM. This means we should not become misguided, forgetting the purpose of life and becoming immersed in worldly and material endeavors. Those have their place, but they must not become the purpose of our existence. Fasting is a means of helping us refocus on our purpose. It removes the indulgence in food and other pleasures for a period of time, freeing us up to refocus on our purpose in life. Along with fasting, we are also recommended to increase our recitation of the Noble Quran, increase our voluntary salat (prayer), increase our Thikr (remembrance of ALLAH), increase our supplications and make an extra effort to avoid speaking ill of others or to others.
Ramadan is an opportunity to examine our lives and implement the laws and ideals prescribed to make our lives better and to help secure a peaceful place in the eternal life to come.
As with all Islamic practices, there is a balance between dedicated acts of worship and other activities that don't appear to be related to worship. (For a Muslim, all activities are acts of worship, if they are moral and good and they are performed with the intention to please ALLAH.). ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, gives us this balance in Surat Al-Baqara, stating:
"It is permitted for you to enjoy your wives during the night of the fasts. They are Libas (garments, screens, body covers) for you and you are Libas for them. ALLAH knows that you used to deceive yourselves but HE accepted your repentance and forgave you; so now associate with them, and seek what ALLAH has ordained for you (offspring), and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread (darkness of night); then complete your fast till the night appears; but do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the mosques. Those are limits (set by) ALLAH so do not approach them. Thus does ALLAH make clear HIS Signs to mankind: that they may attain Taqwa." (Al-Baqara: 187)
Thus we are allowed to eat and enjoy our family life, even during Ramadan, but in the proper time and the proper way. This frees up more time for contemplation, Thikr and other activities in the pursuit of Taqwa. In other ayat, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, teaches us that when one attains Taqwa, ALLAH will provide him a way out of all difficulties and HE will also provide him with sustenance from sources he could not even imagine. Attaining Taqwa is a marvelous state, for with a guaranteed way out of all difficulties and assurance of sustenance, one will feel peace and security. Reaping this reward requires effort and sacrifice and Ramadan and fasting have been granted as an aid to help us on the path to Taqwa.
At the same time, we have been permitted to eat at night, since we must eat to maintain our strength for worship. Also, we are permitted to enjoy our families since this is a normal human urge, which must be satisfied in a moral manner. And the limits for fasting and breaking the fast have been provided in a manner that can be understood by all.
We can learn other lessons and for each of us, Ramadan brings additional lessons. Some of us may identify with the poor and needy and be more generous in charitable contributions during this time. Others take time off of work to spend more time reciting and memorizing the Quran. Still others may make a greater effort to be tolerant, even when their rights are violated. We can all certainly use the 'shot in the arm' that Ramadan provides us. As the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said: The losers are the ones who complete Ramadan without having gained anything but the deprivation of the fast.
Not everyone is able to fast and those who are exempted from fasting, either temporarily or permanently are disclosed in the Quran, along with any compensation they must make.
As has been the case for many years now, we continue to witness famine, suffering and war in many places of the world, both among Muslims and non-Muslims. We ask ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, to help guide us to the path HE has chosen for us and to give all of mankind the gift of peace and security. Ramadan Mubarak to all our friends, readers and the entire Muslim Ummah.
IFANCA Halal Certified Ben & Jerry's Ice-Cream Offers Cure For A Case Of The Mondays
Scoop Shops Launch New Summer Buy One, Get One Sundae Free Offer Every Monday
June 22, 2009 - BURLINGTON, Vt.— Yes! Ben & Jerry's Ice-cream is now IFANCA halal-certified and this summer, they're making Mondays sweeter by giving Americans an affordable reason to celebrate the first day of the traditional work week. In Scoop Shops nationwide, purchase one of the company's amazing sundaes and earn a second delicious sundae absolutely free. The promotion will run every Monday this summer through August.
"Going out for summer ice cream sundaes has been an American tradition for decades," said Walt Freese, Chief Euphoria Officer of Ben & Jerry's. "During these tough economic times, we want to ensure that people can still afford simple indulgences as we continue our mission to spread joy for the belly and soul."
Why Mondays? "Look, we can all make it through the weekend in the summer – there are parties, barbeques and beaches. This sounded like the perfect way to kick-start the party all over again at the beginning of each week, virtually eliminating blue Mondays," said Sean Greenwood, Spokes-Poobah for Ben & Jerry's. "Around here, we've even started saying 'TGIM' – thank goodness its Monday."
Enjoy Life Natural Brands Now IFANCA Halal-Certified
Scott Mandell was named to Crain's Chicago Business '40 Under 40' for his venture Enjoy Life Foods Company, whose Enjoy Life Natural Brands range of products are IFANCA halal-certified. In September 2008, Enjoy Life Foods was named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing privately held businesses in the US for the second consecutive year.
The company's growth rate and its success as a leading manufacturer of allergy-friendly, halal and gluten-free foods drives Mandell's recognition as one of Chicago's most promising business leaders. According to Mandell, more than 12 million Americans have food allergies, and diagnoses are on rise. Approximately 3.3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts; 30 to 50 million are lactose intolerant and 3 million people have Celiac Disease, an auto-immune disease that requires a strict gluten-free diet for life.
According to Crain's story on the company, "the market for foods free of gluten and other common allergens is rising fast. U.S. sales of gluten-free products are expected to jump to $1.7 billion in 2010 from about $700 million in 2006, according to New York research firm Packaged Facts."
For a complete list of IFANCA halal-certified Enjoy Life Natural Brands go to www.ifanca.org.
Additives may be natural or artificial. Natural additives are manufactured from natural sources. Examples of natural additives are lecithin derived from soybeans or corn.
Food allergies are less of a problem than food intolerance. In the latter, consumption of some foods by certain individuals, could trigger stomach cramps, fatigue, diarrhea without affecting the body's immune system.
Chocolate is the most common allergen amongst children and adults.
Edible Ice is another name for ice chips made from water for dehydrated patients to chew.
False. Cow's milk, egg, wheat and soy are the most common allergies in children, while tree nuts, fish, shellfish and peanut allergies are most likely to affect adults.
False. Edible ice refers to products including water ice, ice cream, milk ice, dairy ice cream, fruit ice, sorbet and any similar foods such as iced smoothies and products of which edible ice is a component and that are consumed in their frozen state.
"June 24, 2009 - Colorado Firm Recalls Beef Products Due To Possible Contamination," read headlines. A few days earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that International Meat Co., Inc., a Chicago, IL, establishment had recalled approximately 6,152 pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
E. coli, salmonella and listeria may be present in cattle and can contaminate meat when slaughtered. All three organisms, however, can be destroyed by thorough cooking though meat may be contaminated again by poor handling practices or poor sanitation. An educated consumer and meat producer can be the best shield against outbreaks of E. coli contamination.
Did You Know:
If beef has not been exposed to oxygen, such as when it is vacuum packed, it will have a burgundy color. Upon exposure to air for about 15 minutes, it should turn bright red. After 5 days of refrigeration, it may turn brown. Brown beef that has been stored for a long period of time may be spoiled.
Fresh beef cannot include additives. Processed beef may include additives such as MSG, salt or other additives, but these must be listed on the label.
In the store, raw beef should be selected as close to checkout as possible to minimize the time it is not refrigerated.
Raw meat and poultry should be refrigerated immediately after purchase, especially if temperatures exceed 90°F. Use within 3-5 days or freeze. When freezing for an extended time, it is best to overwrap the store package with aluminum foil or freezer wrap to avoid freezer burn. If freezer burn does occur, remove those sections before or after cooking.
Frozen beef should never be defrosted on the counter. Beef should be defrosted in the refrigerator, in cold water or in a microwave oven. When defrosting in the refrigerator, it may take a day or two, so plan ahead. Remember, beef will be safe in the refrigerator for 3-5 days after it defrosts and you can refreeze it without cooking it if you decide not to use it. If defrosting in cold water, make sure the beef is in airtight packaging or place it into a leak proof bag and submerge in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the beef is thawed. This may take 1-3 hours, depending on the cut and size. If defrosting in a microwave, it should be cooked immediately after defrosting. You should cook beef that has been defrosted by cold water or in the microwave before refreezing.
You can cook frozen beef in the oven or on a grill, but don't cook it in a slow cooker. You should not refrigerate partially cooked beef. Finish cooking it before refrigerating it.
Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Immediately clean spills.
Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.
Consumers should only eat ground beef or ground beef patties that have been cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F. Prepared beef should be hot when picked up and should be eaten within 2 hours. The sooner the better (but don’t get burned eating it while it is too hot). If it is not going to be eaten soon, it should be refrigerated and eaten within 3-4 days. It should be eaten cold or heated to 165°F.
Color is NOT a reliable indicator that ground beef or ground beef patties have been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7. The only way to be sure ground beef is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria is to use a thermometer to measure the internal temperature.
"A reliable certification body, excellent quality product, and market research are the keys to capturing a sizable chunk of the global Halal market," says Agribusinessweek.com, in their report, "The Global Halal Market: Opportunities and Challenges". The report features halal in the Philippines. Reportlinker.com focuses on Muslims in America, in a recently announced Packaged Foods market research report, "MarketTrend: Kosher- and Halal-Certified Foods in the U.S."
The report offers an in-depth analysis of the market for halal and kosher foods in the United States, with an emphasis on opportunities in the mainstream market. According to the report, "in order to grow (the halal) markets, companies must educate consumers about the benefits that define these foods and third-party certification thereof."