Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramadhaan 1432 A.H./2011 The Welcoming Sermon

Image Credit: Sana Az

Bismillaah, wal-hamdulilaah, was-salaatu was-salaamu 'alaa rasoolillaah,As Salaamu 'Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakatuh:

Alhamdulillah, we in America who follow High Judiciary Council of Saudi Arabia for the start of the month of Ramadhaan have been notified of their official decision and announcement by email from the folks at Authentic Statements, may Allaah t'ala reward them and their families.  Ameen.

"Just a short time ago, Fatwa-Online was informed of the official decision and announcement of the High Judiciary Council (HJC) of Saudi Arabia that since the moon of Ramadhaan was not sighted this evening, here in Saudi Arabia, we shall be completing thirty (30) days of Sha'baan (1432 A.H.), in accordance with the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam):

((Fast when you see the crescent. If it is obscured to you, then complete thirty days of Sha'baan. And break your fast when you see the crescent. If it is obscured to you then fast thirty days)), [transmitted by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].

Therefore, many of us will be starting our taraawee prayers Sunday evening, July 31st, in preparation for the first fast of Ramadhaan on Monday, August 1st, Insha Allaah.

Alhamdulillah, that we Muslims have lived to see another Ramadhaan!

On this last day of Shabaan, I thought I would share the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم  welcoming sermon for Ramadhaan from the book, The Prophet's Ramadhaan: How the Prophet Observed the Month of Ramadhaan by Mufti Muhammad Khan Qaadri, translated by Muhammad Sajid, pp. 18-19.  The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  delivered this sermon on the last day of Shabaan.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم  said:

"Oh People, a very blessed month is about to come over you.  A month in which is a night better than a thousand months.  A month whose fasts Allaah (swt) has prescribed for you and made it's Qiyyam a source of reward.  Whoever gets close to Allaah (swt) in it with (voluntary) good deeds will be like the one undertaking fard in other months.  And whoever fulfils a fard in it will be like fulfilling 70 fard in another month.  It is a month of patience and the reward of patience is paradise.  It is a month of empathy and a month in whichs the beliver's rizq (livelihood) is increased.  Whoever (provides food to) opens the fast of another will have forgiveness for his sins and freedom from Hell.  He will receive the same reward as the fasting person and there will be no reduction in the reward of the fasting person.  On this the companions pointed out 'Not all of us have the means to feed a fasting person to his full.'  The Prophet replied '(My purpose was not that he be fed to his fill but )Allah (swt) will give such reward to anyone who gives even one date or one drop of water or milk.'  It is a month whose first is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose last is freedom from Hell.  Whoever lightens the burden of his worker Allah (swt) will forgive and free him from Hell.  Make plentiful four things in it; with two of them you can please your Lord and without the other two you cannot survivie.  The two things with which you can please your Lord are the Kalima Tayyiba (its dhikr) and Istigfaar (seeking forgiveness).  The two things without which you cannot survive are asking Allah (swt) for paradise and seeking His refuge from the fire.  And whoever gives water to a fasting person Allah (swt) will (on the day of Qiyaamah) quench him from my fountain from which he will not feel any thirst up until entering paradise.' (Sahih Ibn Khuzayma)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leslie, Of Blessed Memory

I knew it would happen one day.   

We all did. Any of us who are recovering addicts or who love addicts know that if he/she doesn't get into recovery, one day we will find out that the disease of addiction has claimed them.

I knew one day addiction would kill Amy Winehouse.

Addiction kills: ... overdose, HIV/AIDS, murder, liver disease, stomach disease, suicide ... the list of how we die goes on and on.

So it was with great sadness that I listened to the details on TV of how Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. They've done an autopsy, but ...

I felt a great kinship to Amy Winehouse. Mainly because she was Jewish and an addict. Statistics claim that the rate of addiction among Jews is very low.

I remember once going to a recovery gathering in West Palm Beach, Florida. I was visiting my grandparents at the time and as was my habit, I sought out recovering people wherever I traveled. It was so funny. Us Jews in the room recognized each other right away. We were all looking at each other like, "Hey, we're not supposed to be here!"

But meeting other Jewish addicts probably helped us not to feel so isolated and like a freak in our Jewish communities.

Yes, I know plenty of Jewish addicts.

And Amy Winehouse's death reminded me of one Jewish addict I was very close to in particular. Amy's death washed fresh waves of grief over my heart and made me take a trip down memory lane to think of my friend, Leslie, of blessed memory.

Yes, Leslie, is dead, too.

She even looked a lot like Amy Winehouse. Or maybe Amy looked like Leslie, lol. The hair, the tattos, the slim frame.  This picture was taken when we vacationed in Puerto Rico together.  Leslie was so crazy about butterflies that she tattoed them all over her body.  She was so happy when we visited the Butterfly Gallery in San Juan:

Leslie had another chronic disease, one that is ultimately fatal.  She found out very early in her recovery and she stayed clean and sober for over 10 years, serving as a model and example for others that anyone can stay clean no matter what.  And this was very early in the days of this particular disease.  We didn't have the treatment and medications we have now that help people live a long long time.  In Leslie's time, one's days were numbered.

She was a substance abuse counselor in a treatment center where I was working, and that's where I met her.  We had close friends in common and we hit it off right away.  She was a great lady, full of fun, always doing something, and always going somewhere.  She was in a relationship with a great guy.  Those were the days one puts in the bank.

Years later, Leslie started to get sick.  Her lab work wasn't good, and she felt a lot of fear.  To make a long story short, she relapsed and started to use drugs again.  The addiction was back in full swing and it exacerbated her "other disease." 

Leslie was back to reckless and self-destructive behavior.  No one could help her.  She wouldn't listen to any of us. 

Like Amy Winehouse, Leslie was found dead in her apartment.  I still think about her a lot, and still love her. 

At her funeral, we released butterflies.

Next year Insha Allaah, I will be clean 30 years.  This is the first time I've "come out" online about my own addiction.  To people who know me personally and professionally, it's no secret that I'm a recovering addict. 

Maybe now that I'm out I can write more about Islaam and addiction!

In the meantime, if you know anyone who is suffering with the disease of addiction, get them help.  Don't stop trying.  No matter how much they resist your efforts and push you away. 

I wish I would have tried harder to help Leslie. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is It Dinner Time Yet?!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved
My "neighbor's" cat, Mocha.  He used to live with my Buddy and therefore is the only cat that can come on our porch without Buddy freaking out and chasing the intruder off!  Mocha shows up on the porch twice a day at mealtime and I've even caught him sleeping in my flower bed. 

Hope you all are well, and having a great summer.  For me, I have been busy gardening and have had guests in my home.

So, Insha Allaah, you will be patient awhile longer for posts from me and will enjoy my photographs in the meantime :)

Insha Allaah I will have GREAT news to share in the coming month or so!