Tag Archives: Islam

The Muslim Call to Prayer and Its Meaning


The call for prayer, in Arabic called Adhan, is that melodic chant you often heard coming from the mosque, while walking down the street in an Islamic country, in the mall in the UAE or in parts of a movie. Have you ever wondered what it means? The phrases used in the call for prayer are the same since the time of Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him), 1400 years ago. It is heard five times a day, seven days a week and throughout the whole year. Here is what it means:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akabar, Allahu Akbar: God is the greatest, God is the greatest, God is the greatest, God is the greatest.

Allah is the Arabic word for God. ” Throughout their day and in prayer especially, Muslims use this term to remind themselves that God is greater than anything and everything. The creator is beyond time, direction and description. This phrase is not only used in worship, it is used to express appreciation, admiration, amazement, astonishment, fear or surprise. Unfortunately, lately it has been misused and abused. Princess Ameera Al-Taweel explains it beautifully in this video.

 

Ashhad an la illaha illa Allah, Ashhad an la illaha illa Allah: I testify that there is no God except God, I testify that there is no God except God. Muslims believe that there is only God and He is the Almighty, the Creator of everything and is the only one worthy of worship.

Ashhadu an Mohammad rasul Allah, Ashhadu an Mohammad rasul Allah: I testify that Mohammad is the messenger of God, I testify that Mohammed is the messenger of God. Muslims believe that God sent several messengers throughout time, with the same message for all mankind and Prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him) is the last of these messengers. Hence, Muslims believe in all the prophets and messengers that preceded Prophet Mohammed, starting with Prophet Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. (Peace Be Upon them All). Muslims also believe in all the holy revelations and scriptures that were sent with them, such as Prophet Abraham’s scriptures, the Zabur of Prophet David, the original Torah of Prophet Moses and the original Gospel of Prophet Jesus.

Haya alla el salah, Haya alla el salah: Welcome to prayer, welcome to prayer. The call for prayer is an invitation for Muslims to perform their prayer, spiritually connect with the Creator and disconnect from any worldly matters. It is a chance to thank God for his blessing, ask for forgiveness for any wrong doing and seek guidance throughout the day. Prayer is the moral compass for Muslims. If performed correctly and sincerely, it promotes God consciousness within them and makes them reflect on their actions from one prayer to the next and it also teaches discipline.

Haya alla el falah, haya alla el falah: Welcome to success, welcome to success. Success here is not measured by material gains or possessions but by good actions, which the prayer helps pursue.

La illaha illa Allah: There is no God worthy of worship except God

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar: God is the greatest, God is the greatest.

In the Dawn prayer a phrase is added after “welcome to success”, which is “Paryer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep”. As the dawn prayer is usually an hour before sunrise, this phrase is a reminder to worshippers that prayer should be a priority over comfort or anything else.

 

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Mouloud – The Commemoration of the Day of Birth of Prophet Mohammed’s 2015


Muslims around the world mark this Thursday, December 24th, the birth of the prophet Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH), the last prophet of God who spread the message of Islam. He was born on Monday, 12 or 17th Rabi’ Al-Awal, in the Islamic calendar, in the year 570 in the Gregorian calendar, in the town of Mecca, which is in now Saudi Arabia. His name derives from the Arabic verb ‘hamada’, meaning ‘to praise, to glorify’. Prophet Muhammed was an orphan whose father ‘Abdallah’ died before he was born and his mother ‘Amina’ died when he was only 6 years old. He was raised by his Grand father ‘Abdul Multalib’ and later by his uncle ‘Abu Talib.’  He was known across Mecca for his kindness of heart, correctness of manners and purity of morals. At the age of 40 he received the revelation from God on the mount of Hira, through the Angel Gabriel and spent the rest of his life uniting mankind together for the purpose of worshipping the One God of Adam and all the other prophets, peace be upon them all.

During his 60 years of life prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught several important principles and morals, and even set forth rules for combat. He taught Muslims that all humans are equal regardless of their race, color and nationality. Moreover he instructed them not to hurt, hate, transgress against, put down or despise others. He was not only a prophet and messenger of God, but a social reformer, a moral guide, a statesman, a faithful friend, a devoted husband and a loving father. Therefore, he is considered the best example of behavior for Muslims, and according to the Quran, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most excellent example for all of humanity. He was sent as a mercy to all mankind, he said:

The compassionate one (God) has mercy on those who are merciful, if you show mercy to those on earth, He Who is in heaven will show mercy to you

Even non-Muslim historians recognize him to as one of the most successful personalities in history. His complete biography has been authenticated and circulated amongst scholars around the world.

Here is some of what these scholars said about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), amongst them Michael H. Hart author of the book “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History” New York: Hart Publishing Company, Inc. 1978, p. 33, who said

My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.

This is what Karen Armstrong, best-selling British author said about the compassion of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

In his 23 years of prophethood he transformed the Arab peninsula form paganism to the worship of one God; from tribal wars to solidarity and cohesion; from moral bankruptcy and lawlessness to the highest standard of moral excellence and disciplined living.

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who spent his life spreading the message of Islam and peace, left us with these important words in his last sermon before his death, in the year 632 in Medina also in Saudi Arabia, reminding us to live in peace and good relations with God, oneself and others:

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action…

Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”

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Hajj Explained by SMCCU & Eid Mubarak



Issue 45

Elements of Culture



Hajj Explained

One of the 5 Acts of Worship


During this lunar calendar month of Dhul Hijah, millions of pilgrims from all over the world will make their way to the city Mecca to visit the Kabbah, the first house and holiest place of worship. Tradition holds that the Kabbah is built near the very spot Adam and Eve first prayed on earth, and is rebuilt by Ibrahim and his son Ismail – an order from Allah. Since that day, the Kabbah has been a place of pilgrimage. Today, Muslims from all levels of society, all cultures & colors, male & female make the trip once in a life time to this place as was taught in the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed PBUH. Pilgrims perform rituals which commemorate the story of the Prophet Ibrahim. The Hajj, one of the 5 acts of worship is due upon all Muslims and is to be performed once in a lifetime if you have the means (financial) and you are physically able to do so, and the path to Mecca is safe. It is a time for spiritual contemplation, asking for forgiveness from the Lord, and reflecting on one’s life.


Poetry

Pilgrimage to Mecca – Hajj

Note

Pilgrims on the Mountain of Arafat

Unity of Mankind

The unity and equality of all pilgrims start with the dress. Men wear two pieces of unstitched white cloth and women wear a simple dress with no frills, symbolic yet meaningful. The purpose is to humble and remind us that we are all one human race, equal except by what is in our hearts and our good deeds, which can only be judged by God/Allah. In summary, pilgrims from all over gather in worship no separation between them in any form (color, language, ethnicity, status or background) seeking forgiveness and Mercy. Once all rituals are all fulfilled, the Hajj is complete and pilgrims will celebrate Eid Al Adha, the Festival of the Sacrifice.



Eid Al Adha
The Eid begins with a congregational Eid Prayer held after the dawn prayers the morning after the Day of Arafat, one of the most important parts of the pilgrimage. That day, worshippers gather at the “Mountain of Mercy” from the break of dawn until sunset. The following day after the Eid Prayers, most Muslims will sacrifice a sheep, whose meat is distributed in thirds – 1/3 to your immediate family, 1/3 to friends and neighbors 1/3 to the poor people. It is a happy occasion where the Hajj goers are congratulated and people gather to share a meal and gifts. These festivities last for 5 days in the tradition of the Prophet Mohammed, PBUH.

Please visit our website at www.cultures.ae for more information about our programs or by contacing the SMCCU offices at 9714 353 6666. To Share, Like or Download a PDF version of this article – Issue 45 – Hajj Explained

 

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Back to School with the SMCCU


Each year the SMCCU is keen to be a part of the cultural induction and training that takes place at local international schools throughout the UAE.  This year the SMCCU saw more that 35 schools’ staff and teachers in the month of August, and will continue to participate in new and returning staff training year round.  Visiting the centre in one the oldest historic neighborhoods in Dubai is an excellent and interesting way to experience Emirati hospitality and culture as well as enjoying an open Q & A session which is meant to help acclimate staff to living, working and teaching in Dubai. Top schools such as King’s Dubai, Gems World Academy, Bradenton Prep, American Academy Al Mizhar, Dubai American Academy, Jumeirah College, Universal American School, The School of Research Science, Raffles International, Jumeirah Baccalaureate, Greenfield Community School, Horizon International School, The Sheffield School, Deira International School, American School of Dubai, Star International Schools, Nord Anglica, and Victoria International School attend our programs year on year. Several local universities have chosen to participate in our student orientation programs, and local international schools participate in bespoke cultural programs throughout the year.  Teachers utilize our programs to support the KHDA and international social studies and natural sciences curriculums. With a variety of subjects available related to Dubai’s rich history and vibrate present, these programs offer an alternative hands on learning environment for students to experience local culture. To find out more about what we have on offer, visit http://www.cultures.ae or email us at schools@cultures.ae.

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SMCCU Hosts Guests from around the Globe during Ramadan


The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding has been hosting guests during the month of Ramadan since 1998. The program began with the founder Abdullah Bin Eisa Al Serkal and other volunteers  who invited expats into their homes to experience Ramadan with the family.

Home Visit Ramadan 1998

Home Visit Ramadan 1998

In 1999, the SMCCU hosted its first Ramadan Tent at the Landmark Jumeirah Mosque During the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan Tent 1999 at the Jumeirah Mosque

Ramadan Tent 1999 at the Jumeirah Mosque

 

By 2004, the Iftar Events moved to our current home, an old wind tower house in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai.

IfTar Event SMCCU Wind Tower House 2004

Iftar Event SMCCU Wind Tower House 2004

Throughout the years, visitor and residents, dignitaries, business groups  and social clubs have joined the 1000’s of individuals who have participated in these cultural and spiritual events.

The evening begins with the breaking of the fast, consisting of dates, water and  Arabic coffee,  followed by evening prayers performed in view of the guests. After prayers are concluded, guests are invited to enjoy the local Emirati dishes prepared such as Machboos, Saloona, Thareed, Margoogah, and salad.  After the meal, guests take a short walk through the district to the Diwan Mosque. Inside, the group learns about the house of worship, prayer, and why Ramadan is such a special month for worships. Event goers then return to the wind tower house where dessert is served, and an open Q & A discussion is run by young volunteers. It’s an opportunity for the guests to get to know local Emiratis, and hear their points of view on the city, the religion, growing up during the development of Dubai, and current affairs. The volunteers  will admit that they’re not experts on the subjects but are willing to share their views to give visitors a better insight into local culture traditions and religion.

This year the SMCCU is continuing its tradition of hosting guests in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai for Iftar. Special guests in 2015  included the Consul General of Bulgaria, Bogdan Kolarov, guests of the British Embassy, Chancellor of Environmental Sciences at American University of Sharjah Bjorn Kjerfve,  Hong Kong celebrity Dodo Cheng, Mr David Chaplin, First Secretary at the Embassy of Australia, Ms Emma Buckingham,  Vice-Consul of Australia, Ms Kim Debenham, Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Australia.

The SMCCU’s mission is to promote cultural understanding and provide a venue where visitors and residents can come together in an informal open atmosphere and get to know a little more about the Emirates through the eyes of an Emirati.

To find out more, visit our website at http://www.cultures.ae.

 

 

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Two Common Myths: Hot Drinks & Black Clothing Make You Hotter


What bedouins and desert dwellers have known for centuries? Hot drinks cool you down, and black fabric protects us from the sun.Emirati Women  Still skeptical?  At the SMCCU, we strive to bust the common myths about the region.  With the help of pure science, what we have known from our own experience and traditions is unequivocally proven.  Take, for instance, the traditional drink of Emiratis and the GCC, Gahawa Arabia.  The Guardian writes, “Imbibing hot liquid can be cooling and warming. If you’re hot, it may warm you up a little, but when it reaches thermosensors in the oesophagus and stomach, these react as though the entire body is as hot as the drink, and turn up the sweat flow so much that, provided your clothing allows it to evaporate, you’ll end up cooler than when you started. Or, at least, this was deemed the most likely explanation for this effect in a study by Anthony Bain at the University of Ottawa’s Thermal bedouin ManErgonomics Laboratory.”

What about black robes in the desert?  This has been far more intriguing to the scientist who study human nature. There have been several published articles about why black is just as good if not better than white for the desert dweller.  Add the UV blocking effect that black has and white does not, and you can draw your own conclusions as we have.  (refer to the linked articles below).  Still not convinced?  Then why not visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding and listen to our well-informed staff about the Emirati lifestyle and traditional customs that have survived our growth into a modern metropolis.  From daily tours and cultural meals, to the Iftar Dinner Events that will being in June 20th during Ramadan, guest are sure to leave with at least a better understanding of local culture through our “Open doors. Open minds.” programs.

 http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/aug/19/most-improbable-scientific-research-abrahams

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2006/aug/15/research.highereducation

 

 

 

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43 National Day 3rd Annual Treasures of the UAE Art Competition Awards


In the celebration of this year’s UAE 43nd  National Day, the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) were pleased to host an Award Ceremony on Tuesday 2nd December to honour the 24 winning student artists of the 2014 “Treasures of the UAE “ Art Competition. The Ceremony included prize giving in partnership with Wild Wadi, Pepsico and Nestle, a private Cultural Lunch and a visit to the Diwan Mosque in Al Fahidi Historic District.

24 winners were selected by prominent regional artists from the Emirates Fine Arts Society.  In total, 422 pieces of artwork were submitted by students from 62 schools across the UAE capturing the essence of the UAE’s famous historical sites and landmarks.

All winning artwork is displayed in a bespoke Exhibition at the SMCCU Heritage House in the Al Fahidi Historic District of Dubai open to members of the public until Sunday 4th January 2015.

All submitted artwork may be viewed in an exclusive online gallery published on the SMCCU website; http://www.cultures.ae/index.php/art-competition

Nasif Kayed Managing Director of the SMCCU commented: “UAE’s historic monuments and landscapes stand here to remind us of our roots, traditions and the UAE’s great history. This initiative strives to uncover a new interpretation of these historical landmarks from the next generation residing in the UAE, encouraging creativity combined with historic knowledge.”

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