Being a Muslim and living in or traveling to non-Muslim countries, always brings about the challenge of where to eat and what to eat. For Muslims who are adventurous eaters, food is not just something to provide energy for a more useful life, although that would be the desire for a real Muslim believer. But here we are not discussing such high levels of faith.
Here we are just Muslims in non-Muslim countries, facing different cultures and tastes and those giant advertised burgers, seafood, various kinds of Italian Pizza, etc., and at some point, we realize that we are not capable of going home and enjoying our toast and fried eggs. That is where we seek an inspiring call, inviting us to eat and enjoy life, and that is where that verse of the holy Quran echoes in our minds: “Say, who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which he has produced for his servants and the good (lawful) things of provision?”(7:32) and thus, we decide to find those “lawful provisions”; The Halal food.
Finding restaurants of all types in all different parts of the world that serve Halal food is not a difficult job these days. From the Far West to the Far East we can see restaurants with a Halal label on their signs. But have you ever happened to ask the restaurant staff if the food is Halal? And have you ever heard the firm reply “Yes, madam. Feel sure. Even our pork is Halal!” This point, my friends, is where our project of finding a real Halal restaurant begins.
In some non-Muslim countries, the population of Muslims in some specific cities or specific areas of the town is quite noticeable. Often, in these areas, the number of Halal restaurants owned and run by Muslim managers is large. We could usually trust these restaurants as the managers care about Islamic law, and therefore the food they serve.
However, in some western countries, my friends and I have come across restaurants in which their managers came from Islamic countries, and so we thought that the food would be Halal. But after some local investigations, we realized that the manager is not a practicing Muslim, and the food they serve is not Halal. Now, what do we do?
Since selling Halal food brings more customers to the burger shops or restaurants, many non-Muslim restaurant owners have decided to serve Halal meat. Therefore, apart from the Halal label on their signs, they keep a certificate in the restaurants, usually hung on the wall someplace all caring customers can see.
Now you might be thinking about how we can trust those certificates? How do we know they are not fake? From the Islamic law viewpoint, you can trust that and enjoy your meal . Do keep in mind the verse that says: “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship…” (2:185)
Even in some coffee shops that serve sandwiches, the managers have provided an extra sandwich-maker for Muslim customers with which they do not roast pork and other non-Halal sandwiches.
Living in a non-Muslim country, it is prevalent to socialize with non-Muslim friends or colleagues. It often happens that our group of friends or colleagues decide to dine together at a fancy restaurant that may not be Halal. It is understandable that isolating yourself from the group may have some personal or social consequences. What can we do at these times?
First of all, we can remind the rest of the group that we only eat Halal food, and they may agree to dine at a Halal restaurant. But if they did not accept, what does Islamic law say about eating vegetarian or Halal food in restaurants that serve pork or wine? According to Islamic law, if we did not have a choice, we should not be too harsh on ourselves, and we should trust the vegetarian or Halal food of non-Halal restaurants .
Thinking deeply of the verse “Then let mankind look at his food.” (80:24), one may realize the importance of the food we eat and its influence on the human soul. Apart from Islamic law, almost all Muslim jurists emphasize that we should be extra careful about what we eat. Because what we eat affects our souls.
Therefore if we intend to treat our souls and ascend the steps of spirituality, it is necessary to find food we are sure of is Halal. In such cases, it would be good to be fussy about eating in non-Halal places. And if the spirituality of the soul matters to us more than socializing with friends, then better to be isolated for a while, rather than preventing the soul from its spiritual growth.
In year 60 AH Imam Hussain (AS) left Mecca with his followers and family destined to Kufah, the city of which the people had invited Imam Hussain (AS) to be their leader in the battle against Yazid. Imam Hussain (AS) took his family with himself including some of his sisters, his wives, daughters, sons and so on. Not only did he take his family with himself, but also some of his followers were accompanied by their family.
Knowing that Imam Hussain (AS) was going to Kufah to wage a war against Yazid you may ask yourself why he jeopardized his family by taking them to this dangerous trip.
When Yazid, in spite of the terms of Muaviah’s agreement with Imam Hassan (AS), took over as the King of Muslims and became a Caliph, Imam Hussain (AS) didn’t acknowledge him as a proper king for the Islamic society so Yazid ordered the ruler of Medina to make Imam Hussain (AS) accept Yazid as a King though Imam Hussain (AS) turned down and said:
Yazid is an alcoholic person and kills innocent people and commits sins in public, so a person like me wouldn’t accept a person like him as their king (1)
Yazid had ordered the ruler of Medina that if Imam Hussain (AS) had refused to do as the Caliph said, the ruler must have cut his head and send it to Yazid besides if anybody else had done so, the ruler would have to do the same to them. (2) When Imam Hussain (AS) found out that he was in danger in Medina he moved to Mecca so that they couldn’t harm him because of sacredness of Kaaba.
It was then Imam Hussain (AS) decided to leave Mecca when the letters from about 18000 people of Kufah reached asking him (desperately) to help them fight against the tyranny and cruelty of Yazid and be their leader. Thus he was well aware of the fact that he was also in jeopardy in Mecca so he took his family with him to Karbala.
(The letters of about 18000 people of Kufah reached to Imam Hussain (AS) asking him (desperately) to help them fighting against the tyranny and cruelty of Yazid and be the leader of them, he decided to leave Mecca. He knew that he was also in jeopardy in Mecca so he took his family with him.) Bear it in mind that if he hadn’t taken them with him; it is obvious that Yazid would have taken Imam Hussain’s household as hostages in order to make him give in and obey the Caliph.
Actually, Imam Hussain (AS) cleverly understood what they were up to and ruined their plans so that he could approach to his objectives.
As an astute leader, Imam Hussain (AS) was well aware of what they were up to and their wickedness, and he ruined their plots so that he could pursue his objectives.
Imam Hussain’s household besides the martyrs’ in Karbala became mostly captivated by Umar ibn Sa’d’s forces and were at first taken to Kufah and not long afterwards to Damascus. If you scrutinize more carefully through history, you may find out that in case Imam Hussain’s household wasn’t there and got slaved, the message of Karbala would have been neglected forever.
To substantiate this fact it can be witnessed that Imam Sajjad (AS) and Lady Zeinab (SA) tried to brief people on what Yazid had done to them. They used every opportunity to talk to people and make speeches for them about Imam Hussain (AS) so that they would understand who really he was.
Once an old man in Damascus went to those enslaved women and told them:
“Thank God that killed your men and destroyed you and extricated the people from you and relieved the King”
Imam Sajjad (AS) replied: “O old man! Have you read the holy Quran?” “Yes” he replied.
Then Imam Sajjad said: “Haven’t you read this verse that says:
Say, ‘I do not ask you any reward for it except the love of [my] relatives.’ (42:23)"
He said: “Yes, I have (read that)”
Imam Sajjad (AS) then said: “We are the relatives of the Prophet (PBUH & HP)”
The old man was so sorry then because of what he said. (3)
The women? Imam Hussain’s children, wives, sisters informed the people of Damascus about the lies that Mu’aviah and Yazid had told them about Islam and Imam Hussain (AS) and told them that they were cheated.
The speeches of Imam Sajjad (AS) and Lady Zeinab (SA) in Damascus and Kufah are so famous.
The Slavery of those Women and Children Proved Imam Hussain’s Honesty
Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed everything he had even his little son, for his objective which was reminding people the original message of Islam. Yazid had told people that Imam Hussain (AS) is a liar and is only after taking over the kingdom. When Imam Hussain (AS) sacrificed his life and the life of his family for his goal (the sake of Islam), people understood that kingdom wasn’t the thing which Imam Hussain (AS) tried to obtain but he wanted to make people aware of the tyranny and the cruelty of Yazid and Banu-Umayyah.
When Imam Hussain (AS) was leaving Mecca, his brother Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiah told him:“What’s the rush? Why do you want to go?”
“I dreamt about the Holy Prophet (PBUH & HP) and he told me to leave Mecca because Allah wants to see me martyred.” Imam Hussain (AS) replied.
Then Muhammad said: “We belong to Allah and we turn back to him. Then why do you take these women and children, knowing your destiny?”
Imam Hussain (AS) said: “The Prophet (PBUH & HP) also said that Allah wants them to be enslaved as well” (4)
These words of Imam Hussain (AS) meant that saving the lost essence of Islam was the most important duty of him and that to achieve this goal there is no other way rather than fighting until death against the oppression of Yazid. In this way, people will be tested by Allah and also enlightened about the hideousness of Umayyad dynasty.
We believe that the infallible Imams are immaculate and they do not commit any sins or make mistakes. So when they do something, we do know and believe that they had enough reason to do so, even if we do not understand it. We may find some reasons by thinking about them but mostly we cannot be totally sure about the core of whatever they did and the reason why they had taken such actions.
- Maghtal al-Hussain (AS), Abd ar-Razzaq al-Mugharram, pg.129
- Tarikh of Ya’ghubi, Ahmad ibn Ya’ghub, vol.2, pg.241
- Al-Malhuf, Seyyed ibn Tavuss, pg.211
- The same, pg.128
Eid al Adha (or Dhuha) is one of the greatest eids of Islam. It is a feast of love, sacrifice, and submission to the will of Allah (s.w.t). Celebrated on the 10th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar, it is the time of the year where Muslims from all over the world gather for the annual ritual of Hajj and mark the end of Hajj by sacrificing a camel, a cow or a sheep. Those Muslims who could not make it for Hajj, sacrifice these animals and distribute the meat and other gifts among the poor, their family and friends.
There are many recommended (not obligatory) rituals and practices to be performed on the day of Eid al Adha, some of them are as follows:
-Doing Ghusl (ritual bath)
-Eid Prayer, either in a congregation or individually
-Reciting the Ziarat of Imam Husain (AS), the third infallible Imam
-Sacrificing either a camel, cow, or sheep. Sacrifice is obligatory for those performing Hajj and recommended for those not performing Hajj
-According to Islamic laws, it is forbidden to fast on this day
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was a true embodiment of the verse from the Holy Quran: “Do the people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested? Certainly, We tested those who were before them. So, Allah shall surely ascertain those who are truthful, and He shall surely ascertain the liars.” (29:2)
Prophet Abraham (PBUH) was a great Prophet of Allah (SWT) who is greatly celebrated in the Holy Quran. He is one of the Ulu –l-Azm (Arch) prophets. Allah (SWT) calls him his friend in the Holy Quran (4:125). The intended sacrifice of this holy prophet is greatly eulogized in the Holy Quran and the prophetic traditions. Abraham is especially famous for the numerous ways God tested him; especially the tough tests of leaving his wife Hagar and his firstborn son Ishmael (2:124) and bringing his son to a special place as an offering to God (37:100-113).
“My Lord! Give me [an heir], one of the righteous.” So We gave him the good news of a forbearing son. When he was old enough to assist in his endeavor, he said, ‘My son! I see in dreams that I am sacrificing you. See what you think.’ He said, ‘Father! Do whatever you have been commanded. If Allah wishes, you will find me to be patient.’ So, when they had both surrendered to Allah’s will, and he had laid him down on his forehead, We called out to him, ‘O Abraham! You have indeed fulfilled your mission! Thus, indeed do We reward the virtuous! This was indeed a manifest test.’ Then We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, and left for him a good name in posterity: ‘Peace be to Abraham!’ Thus, do We reward the virtuous? He is indeed one of Our faithful servants.” (37:100-110)
The Holy Quran gives us a very clear picture of the incidents that unfolded with Prophet Abraham (PBUH). It tells us that Prophet Abraham (PBUH) prayed for a righteous heir and Allah (SWT) answered his prayers. But after a few years, Allah (SWT) orders his Prophet to sacrifice his only son and both Prophet Abraham (PBUH) and Prophet Ishmael (PBUH) agree to submit to the will of Allah (SWT). It was a test for Prophet Abraham (PBUH) as well as his son Prophet Ishmael (PBUH), who emerged victorious from this test. Thus, leaving a legacy of complete submission to the will of Allah (SWT), a submission that calls for sacrificing everything you have to gain the pleasure of your beloved creator. It is this humble and pure submission of Prophet Abraham (PBUH) that makes this great prophet a ‘good example’ for us. (60:4).
The sacrifice of Prophet Abraham is not a fairy tale to be read to our children before going to sleep, it is a story that has the potential to make human beings build a lasting relationship with Allah (SWT). If we truly trust in Allah (SWT) and reach a position where we readily sacrifice everything in the way of Allah, we can proudly claim to be inheritors of the legacy of Abraham, a friend of Allah (SWT). But for us to reach that position we need to first ask ourselves: who is our Ishmael? Is it my child, my spouse, my property, wealth, job, position or my desires?
- Quran Translations, Ali Quli Qara’i
- Recommended rituals and practices on the eve of Eid and the day of Eid: Dua for EID ul Adha Night and Day (duas.org) (these recommended acts can also be found in Mafatih Al-Jinan under the section of aamaal for Eid)
- Exegesis of Surah Saaffat, Tafseer Nemuneh, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi (Farsi)