by Imam Ajmal Masroor
Today marks the birth of the greatest man to have ever walked on this earth - the blessed Prophet Muhammad. 1434 years ago a great man and a Prophet was born in Makkah. Over time he would turn the tide of history and the destiny of humanity forever. His followers, the Muslims are nearly quarter of the world’s population. Many people have been asking me how should we should mark and remember his life? Should we be organising birthday celebrations or taking part in processions? Should we be observing any special fasts or conducting special prayers?
My response on this matter has always been simple – I do not need to celebrate a particular one day of the year to remember the Prophet. I celebrate the life of the Prophet every day of my life by living the teachings of his life, emulating him and shaping my character by his. I love him more than I love myself but my love for him is not blind or irrational. I love him because he is the final messenger of God. I admire him because he was able to change the world like no other human beings in history.
I mark his life by highlighting his contributions to the humanity. If the blessed prophet's life mission was to help refine the character of human beings, my mission in life is to become the most refined person in character and help my fellow human beings achieve the same. I am proud to be a Muslim following the footsteps of the most influential man ever.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) has been termed by historians of various faiths and cultures as the most influential man to have ever walked the earth. His contribution to human civilization has been noted by Michael Hart in his infamous book called “The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History”, where he wrote: "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."
Muslims from all corners of this earth and throughout time have emulated him with deep love and reverence. They love him more than they love themselves and even their family. Their depth of adoration for him is based on their firm belief in God, knowledge of his great character and total conviction on his Prophethood. His adversaries have tried to mock and ridicule him. Yet he is the only person in history whose life has been meticulously recorded, analysed and followed. Not a single substantial negative trait or character flaws have been identified to this date. They accuse of him of all sorts but not a single human being around him could ever say that he either uttered a foul word to anyone, participated in anything immoral or wronged anybody in his entire life – both before and after prophethood.
Reverend R. Bosworth-Smith wrote in his booked entitled “Mohammed & Mohammedanism: "Head of the state as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but, he was pope without the pope's claims, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a Right Divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without instruments and without its support. He cared not for dressing of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life."
He was the Prophet supreme, the mercy to the entire humanity and most importantly the architect of a seismic change in the world. He brought the Arabs from the depth of darkness and ignorance and in that process liberated the entire universe from the worship of false gods, materialism and corruption.
The blessed Prophet’s influence encompassed all aspect of life including personal and public. The French book called Histoire De Turquie, by Lamartine states:"Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?" The answer is unequivocal, he certainly was the greatest man ever. He was and still remains the Prophet of all people and for all times.
George Bernard Shaw, the famous author and philosopher in his quest to understand Muslim world took personal journey into the life of the Prophet and he wrote, "He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness." The world does not recall anyone, whether it was Alexandra the Great or Jesus, who has occupied such an esteem place as Muhammad. He was not just a local leader whose words and life was lost soon after his death but hundreds of years later more people follow his footsteps than when he was alive. His life and work paved the way for laying the early foundation for knowledge and science.
His greatest contribution to the humanity is the faith based on knowledge and certainty as opposed to superstitions or super natural experiences. He worked tirelessly to lift human beings from ignorance to knowledge and usher profound enlightenment inspired by the Quran. The essence of his teaching is all about creating a refined and conscientious mind and soundness in character. He roused the world to be good to their fellow human beings through love, compassion and fairness. He emphasised proliferation of knowledge through reading, writing, reflecting, critical and creative thinking and through that process connecting with God and fellow human beings.
He was able to bring and restore peace around him and barely fifty years after his death his companions were able to defeat the two warring super powers of the earth at that time, the Roman and Persian Empires. Their defeat brought to a sharp end the valueless immoral and unethical lifestyles that prevailed in the world then. He changed people’s character and they in turn changed the world for better. He is the embodiment of what God wishes for the entire humanity.
It is in the context of 21st century world I would like to highlight that the blessed Prophet remains the most significant and relevant historical figure for all times. If people of all faith and no faith were to follow his teachings the world would be a better place.
©Ajmal Masroor 2013
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 January 2013 11:44
The 2011/12 academic year produced another set of outstanding GCSE results for the City Circle Saturday School (CCSS) students. In total 13 students took their Maths exams and 11 students took their English exam. The table below shows a comparison of the CCSS results to the UK national average. The objective of the school is not only to help struggling students but to enable each student to fulfil their potential and reach the highest standards by presenting them with positive role models and encouraging them to give back to their communities. This is highlighted by the willingness of our students to actively get involved in volunteering and wider community initiatives.
Four of our students who have studied at CCSS for many years and have gone on to university are now part of our family of volunteer teachers. A current A-level student who aspires to be a primary school teacher is building experience at CCSS as a teaching assistant. Exemplifying the spirit of community, last year’s A-level students organised a fundraising dinner and raised almost £10,000 for the education charity, The Citizens’ Foundation - we hope to continue with this initiative in 2013.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 19:47
The City Circle Saturday School has been established to support children from the local community enhance their core education outside of school. This model has been running successfully at the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre (MCHC) in Westbourne Park for over 10 years serving over 100 students. Building on that success, in October 2012 the City Circle launched a new supplementary school in partnership with Harrow Central Mosque.
Both the schools have a very clear sense of mission, which is to give disadvantaged kids the opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have by supporting them academically and helping them improve their achievements at school. The Harrow school currently runs Year 4, 5 and 6 classes, attended by around 30 students and taught by over 10 volunteer teachers. The high teacher/student ratio ensures that we provide a level of education, individual attention and mentoring that each student deserves. The majority of students and volunteers are from the local community.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 19:45
Dr Noreen Kassem
(Fasting is) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), compensation is the feeding of one who is needy. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that you fast, if you only knew. The Quran 2:184
This year the month of Ramadan falls during the long days of summer, making fasting more challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally. Understanding the benefits and limitations of fasting and following the right nutritional guidelines, will help you to make the most of this month.
According to medical research, intermittent fasting – such as from dawn to dusk in the Islamic tradition, repairs and cleanses the organ systems, enhances your body’s natural healing abilities, gears your metabolism for more efficient energy production, and helps you to lose excess fat and maintain a healthy body weight.
However, fasting is not an easy task and requires mental will power, emotional strength, and physical endurance. Islamic tradition emphasizes moderation in all aspects of life; it is critically important to protect the body and mind from harm. The key is to balance fasting with healthful nutrition and sufficient exercise, rest, and sleep.
Often recognized as the missing link in western conventional medicine and nutrition, fasting results in fascinating processes, by which the body sheds toxins, heals, repairs and replenishes its energy supplies. Fasting also forces the body to become more resourceful and efficient in its normal cellular functions.
Digestive Health: Fasting allows the digestive system to rest and repair itself. This helps to regulate digestion, promotes more efficient bowel function, and improves the absorption of food nutrients.
Blood Sugar Levels: Eating excessively or eating unhealthy, carbohydrate and fat-rich foods causes your blood glucose levels to spike and then dip quickly. This causes low energy, fatigue, and mood changes, as well as excess hunger that continues this cycle. Over time, fasting can help to balance glucose sugar levels by burning fat at a steady rate.
Medical research shows that fasting also increases insulin hormone sensitivity. This means that your body is more effectively able to use insulin to transport glucose from the blood into the cells of tissues and muscles, where it is converted into energy. This improves metabolism and reduces the risk of type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes.
Fat Metabolism: When you fast, your body is temporarily deprived of sugar that is normally the easiest currency to convert into energy. This will initially lower your baseline metabolism, causing low energy and weakness when you first begin fasting.
However, with regular fasting, the body is forced to burn excess fats for energy. This resets your metabolism so that the body burns more fat as a primary fuel source even when you are not fasting, improving your metabolism and energy levels.
Immune System: Regular fasting along with a healthy, balanced diet and daily exercise strengthens your immune system. This helps the body fight pathogens and remove diseased cells. It may also to balance the immune system helping to improve some types of allergy and autoimmune conditions.
Detoxification: Fasting helps to improve your body’s ability to remove wastes and toxins that accumulate from the food we eat, normal body functions, and the environment.
When the body is forced to metabolize its fat stores for energy, trapped toxins and wastes are also released. Additionally, during fasting the body becomes more efficient at finding dead, damaged and diseased cells to burn for energy.
Healing and Repair: The body is better able to repair and replenish itself after normal body processes. Eating excessively or grazing on snacks and beverages throughout the day diverts needed energy and resources to the digestive system. While fasting, the body is better able to heal itself. This is evident in the lack of an appetite when you are ill with the flu, and in wounded animals that do not eat while they are healing.
Cardiovascular Health: Fasting may also help to improve several risk factors for heart disease and stroke. According to a medical research, fasting and reducing daily caloric intake can help to enhance heart and brain function by improving stress adaptation, lowering blood pressure, regulating heart rate, and reducing cholesterol deposits in the arteries.
Food Dependency: We are emotionally dependent on food, just as we are physically dependent on it. It is normal to feel depressed or anxious when you begin fasting. Regular fasting helps you to reevaluate your attitude toward food, provides clarity about your diet, and determines what your body really needs for optimum function and health.
Longevity: Medical studies show that fasting may contribute to a longer lifespan. This is likely because when done properly and regularly, fasting curbs caloric intake to protect against obesity, type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. These conditions increase the risk of heart disease and stroke -the leading causes of disability and mortality. Fasting may also increase the production of hormones that help to slow aging of the body.
Foods for Fasting
It’s especially important to keep your diet balanced during Ramadan. Overeating during the Iftar meal and at night will burden the body and undermine the healing processes of fasting.
It is also important to eat the right foods at the right times. To maintain more stable, long-term energy levels during the day eat more low-glycemic, slower digesting foods during Sahur (the pre-dawn meal). These include fiber-rich foods, and complex carbohydrates such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, semolina, barley, oats, beans, lentils, and seeds.
Eggs are rich in protein and iron for energy and mental stamina. Two-thirds of the brain is composed of fat; therefore you need essential fats, such as those in olive oil, fish, milk, cheese, and lean meats to avoid midday brain fog. It is also very important to drink plenty of water before and after fasting.
Dates, a traditional Ramadan food, are an excellent source of natural sugars, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals - including more potassium than a banana. Eating one to three along with other fresh fruit and water is a recommended way to open your fast during the Iftar meal.
Avoid or limit unhealthy, high-glycemic index foods that cause hunger, lethargy and dizziness soon after eating them. These include refined, simple carbohydrates such as sugary foods, biscuits, cakes, crackers, crisps, potatoes, white bread, white rice, pastries, and pasta.
Too much food, as well as a heavy, unhealthy diet will reduce energy and cause digestive upset or headache. Avoid or drastically limit fried and greasy foods. Additionally, limit coffee, tea and sodas because the caffeine causes dehydration.
Consult a nutritionist or the Ramadan resource guides below for more information on your diet.
To Fast or Not to Fast
Fasting is neither a responsibility nor a right for those who are too ill too tolerate it. If you have any health concerns, it is very important to seek your doctor’s advice before fasting. Pregnant or nursing women are exempt from fasting. Additionally, if you are taking prescription medication for any health condition including depression and mental health, consult your doctor or specialist before fasting.
For most diabetic individuals, fasting is safe and beneficial, particularly if you have type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes. However, a careful diet must be followed and glucose levels must be monitored cautiously. Long term complications, dehydration, infections, nerve damage, hypoglycemia (low glucose levels) and coma are real harms that can occur without adequate diabetes care.
If you are on prescription medication for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, angina, high cholesterol, or other cardiovascular disorders, consult your doctor before fasting. Do not change your medication schedule, reduce your dosage, or stop medication on your own; this can have serious effects such as heart disease and stroke.
Islamic scholar Imam Zaid Shakir states: “If fasting will cause harm to a person afflicted with an illness or chronic disease, they are not required to fast. Instead, they should provide food for a needy person for every fast they miss. The amount of food is termed a “mudd” or approximately 600 grams of the dominant staple food of that land, such as rice, wheat, or potatoes. They are excused from fasting for as long as the relevant affliction endures.”
Please note that this article does not replace medical counsel. Please see your GP or specialist for individual health advice.
Resources and Guidelines:
Last Updated on Sunday, 15 July 2012 08:51