Sunday, September 29, 2013

Surah Fatiha Part 2

Reciting Al-Fatihah is required in Every Rak'ah of the Prayer
The fact that Fatiha is required in each Rakah is something all scholar agree on and is validated from the following hadith:
"Whoever performs any prayer in which he did not recite Umm Al-Qur'an, his prayer is incomplete"(Ahmad 2:250). There are similar hadith narrated in Fath Al-Bari 2:276 and Muslim 1:295.

Tafsir of Isti'adhah (seeking Refuge)
The remedy to Shaitan's whispers are detailed in Surah Al-Araf (199-200), Surah Al-Muminun (96-98), and Surah Fussilat (34-36) where Isti'adhah is prescribed. The relentless nature of Shaitan is such (due to his enmity with Adam and his progeny) that even his whispers can be dangerous. The nature of Shaitan's hatred of mankind is detailed in Surah Al-Araf (27) and Surah Fatir (6) and these two ayaat are interesting foils that accomplish the same message. In Surah Al-Araf, ayah 27, we are warned of the apparent and well known consequences of Shaitan's deceptions, getting Adam and Hawwa thrown out of Paradise. In Surah Fatir, ayah 6, his invitations have little to do with Paradise, but are only a gateway to "become the dwellers of the blazing Fire".

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Surah Fatiha - Part 1

Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Raheem. I really wanted to go through Ibn Kathir's Tafsir (I have the ten volume, english abridged version), and it is recommended to start sequencially as he does make references to explainations provided in  previous Surahs. So in sha Allah we will start with Surah Al-Fatiha.

The Meaning of Al-Fatiha and its Various Names
Al-Fatiha means the Opener of the Book, and is the Surah we recite in the beginning of all our prayers. It is also known as Umm Al-Kitab, The Mother of the Book which is referenced in a Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH). Fatiha is also caled Al-Hamd, Al-Ruqyah (the remedy), Ash-Shifa (the cure), and Al-Salah. One of the most beautiful aspects of this Surah is that it really is like a dialogue between Allah and the Believer, as demonstrated in this Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH):

"The prayer (i.e., Al-Fatiha) is divided into two halves between Me and My servants.' When the servant says, 'All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of existence,' Allah says, 'My servant has praised Me.' (Tirmidhi).

Surah Al-Fatiha is a Makki Surah (simply meaning it was revealed in Makkah rather than Madinah - which is really important regarding the type of content it pertains to, addressing early Muslims versus the Muslims that had completed Hijrah).

How many Ayat does Al-Fatiha contain?
Seven. According to majority of reciters, Companions, and scholars, Bismillah is a separate Ayah in it's own right.

The Number of Words and Letters in Al-Fatiha
Twenty-five words and one hundred and thirteen letters.

The Reason it is called Umm Al-Kitab
According the the Tafsir of Al-Bukhari, it is called as such since the Quran begins with it and prayer is commenced by reciting it. It is also said that it is called so because it the meanings of the entire Quran are contained in it.

Ibn Jarir explains in a more linguistic matter, that Arabs call "every comprehensive matter that contains several specific areas as Umm." The examples he gives of this matter are Umm Ar-Ras (the skin that surrounds the brain) or Umm Al-Qura (another name of Makkah - the Mother of the Villages, as it was basically the New York City of surrounding villages :), and the opinion that the earth was made starting from Makkah).

Virtues of Al-Fatiha
Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal relates an incident in his Musnad that Abu Sa'id bun Al-Mu'allah and the Prophet (PBUH) have an interaction where the Prophet (PBUH) mentions Surah Fatiha as "the greatest Surah in the Qur'an".

The uniqueness of the Surah is also mentioned in an interaction between the Prophet (PBUH) and Ubayy (recorded by Imam Ahmad, related by Abu Hurayrah), where this point is emphasized when the Prophet (PBUH) says, "By Him in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah has never revealed in the Tawrah, the Injil, the Zabur or the Furqan a Surah like it. It is the seven repeated verses that I was given".

There are many similar narrations regarding how immensely virtuous this Surah is, and is the basis of the deductions that scholars have made as evidence that some Ayaat and Surahs are more virtuous (relatively) than others.

Al-Fatiha and the Prayer
Muslim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Prophet (PBUH) said,
"Whoever performs an prayer in which he did not read Umm Al-Qur'an, then his prayer is incomplete." He said it three times, and this highlights the fact that recitation of Fatiha is obligatory.

When behind the Imam, we are to recite it to yourself as the Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) as related by Abu Hurayrah indicates the rest of the dialogue that occurs when Fatiha is recited.

When we say All praise and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of existence
Allah says My servant has praised me

In response to The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Allah says My servant has glorified Me

When we recognize The Owner of the Day of Recompense
Allah says My servant has glorified me

When we proclaim You (alone) we worship, and You (alone) we ask for help
Allah says This is between Me and My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he sought

When we say Guide us to the straight path. The way of those on whom You have granted Your grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your anger, nor of those who went astray.
Allah says This is for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked for.

These are in the words of An-Nasai, while Muslim and An-Nasai collected the phrase "A half of it is for Me and a half for My servant, and My servant shall acquire what he asked"

In sha Allah I will continue the tafsir tomorrow, feel free to add comments or corrections :).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Drama Queen

Oh my. I am terribly dramatic when in the palpable deliriums caused by fasting :). But dramatics aside I do want to blog about my reading, so I kind of have a hard copy of notes. My dilemma has been whether to post about Book 35 in Imam Ghazali's The Revival of the Religious Sciences (which I am currently reading - out of sequence only because it was a present from my husband) or start from Book 1. I may do the Tafsir of Surah Fatiha as well, as it is a Surah that is wholly integrated into our lives and we say many many times a day, often (for me as well) on autopilot and so I like rereading the Tafsir of it every now and then :).

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Game Changer

So it seems I have neglected to and well... completely forgotten about my blog. But now I'm back and have decided that maybe my hunger is greater than just satisfying my taste buds and has expanded to a hunger of knowledge as well :). It has been a dream of mine to completely read all ten volumes of Tafsir Ibn Kathir and I think I will probably add notes and summaries of what I read as I go. I've also been reading Imam Ghazali's Book 35 in his Ihya and it has been pretty heavy, but I do feel like quite a bit of my extracurricular reading had been put on hold to finish the Qu'ran this Ramadan. I may still do the occasional recipe but it really isn't my main objective anymore.

“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees.” [Qur'an, 58:11]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I absolutely LOVE a warm fresh banana bread, and this one takes barely five minutes to whip up and the rest of the time it just sits in the oven. Easy. I don't have a photo because it really never lasts too long in our house! So here is the base recipe with optional ingredients that you can leave out or keep according to preference:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (farenheit). Grease a standard loaf pan.
Blend all your wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/2 c oil (canola or vegetable)
1 c mashed banana (about 2 or 3 depending on size)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Add 1.5 c of sugar (or splenda they are equivalent in sweetness, I actually prefer only a cup but it depends on how sweet you want the bread) and cream together.
Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon (I've occasionally left out the cinnamon and it turns out fine, you can also add 1/2 tsp nutmeg too). Add 1 3/4 c flour and mix in until fully incorporated but be careful not to over mix this will cause your bread to be too dense and tough. Bake for an hour and insert a toothpick to check if it is done (when the pick is clean it is done). If it is not done check every 10 minutes here on out. Take out invert and turn right side up and let cool on a wire rack or plate. Parcel me a slice. Just kidding. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chinese Biryani!

Ha! A picture. How fancy am I? A fair warning: on paper this sounds like a very questionable recipe but this is not a prank, I actually made this the other day. It is a bit labor intensive but if you do the prep work ahead of time it hardly takes half an hour to put together. So before hand I would recommend, marinating your chicken, making the spicy sauce, frying the garnish, and chopping up all your vegetables:
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 onion, cut in squares
2 green bell peppers, cut in squares
1/3-1/2 cabbage head, cut in squares
a package of mushrooms, each mushroom cut in quarters
Put in a colander so the veggies dry out a bit.

Take 1.5 lb of boneless chicken and cut into small pieces, add to a bowl to marinate.
Chicken marinade: soy sauce, chili sauce, garlic, ground black pepper, a little flour so the marinade is not too watery. Refrigerate.

Take 4-8 green chilies (depends on if you have spice lovers at your table or not) and cut in half up to stem, but do not remove it. Take a head of garlic and thinly slice each clove. Deep fry the chilies until evenly blistered and fragrant but careful not to burn. Deep fry the garlic slices as well until a golden brown. Drain on paper towels. These will be your garnishes (I would highly recommend not skipping this step as it really is what makes it so good).

Spicy sauce: whisk together 1/4 c of mayo, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste) and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.

Rinse two mugfuls (I know I'm a crazy person who uses coffee mugs instead of a conventional measuring cup. Sue me) of rice really well, until the water runs clear. In a pot, add 1/4 c of oil, heat and add 1 heaped teaspoon of both cumin (white zeera) and caraway seeds (kala zeera) and 4-5 star anises and lightly fry until fragrant. Add rice, and stir a bit to let the flavors penetrate the rice. Add 4 mugfuls of water and salt to taste, let boil and then simmer on low, covered (dum) when very little water is left. While the rice are simmering, prepare the chicken/veggie gravy.

Chicken/Veggie gravy: Heat 1/4 c oil and add 1 heaped tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger. Fry until that raw smell is gone and add the chicken. After the chicken is no longer pink add the vegetables fry and generously sprinkle garlic powder (at least a tsp), salt, and black pepper (at least 1 tbsp) in the pan. Add 1-2 tsp of crushed red pepper, 4 tbsp ketchup, 2 tsp sriracha chili sauce, 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (rec: mae ploy) 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp ground star anise, 1 c water, and boil. Add a
cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornstarch + a little water). Boil until the sauce thickens, remove from heat.

In a large tray, spread all the rice evenly. top with half of the chicken/veggie gravy mix, top that with the spicy sauce, spread remaining gravy mix on top of that. Garnish by scattering the crisp garlic on top and in the middle, neatly arrange fried green chilies in the center. Voila! And that is Chinese Biryani (if there ever were such a thing :P). I would say this dish easily serves 8 hungry people (if it is served alone) Enjoy! And leave your comments if you try it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lahori Fried Fish

Happy Ramadan everyone! I pretty much almost forgot I had a blog (but that's what a newborn and toddler will do to you :D). Here is my latest recipe that I'm making today, Lahori Fried Fish! I've never had real Lahori Fried Fish but seen many approximations of the recipe and it tastes pretty good.

2 lbs fish, cut into fish finger type pieces
1 tbsp lal mirch
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin, coarsely ground
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp each: ginger and garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander, coarsely ground
1 tbsp qasuri methi (fenugreek leaves?)
1 tbsp pomegranate seed, finely ground
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and marinate for a couple of hours. When ready to fry combine the ingredients for the batter, coat, and deep fry.

1 cup besan (gram flour)
1 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ajwain (oregano seed)

salt, black pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 egg

water as required

Bon Appetit!