O Allah, I seek Your forgiveness for every sin that Your pen recorded and Your knowledge encompassed- every one that I have committed and that I am to commit until the end of my life. I seek Your forgiveness for all of my sins: the first and the last, the intentional and the unintentional, the few and the many, the minor and the major, the subtle and the noticeable, the past and the recent, the secret and the open and public- and all those I am to commit throughout my life.
[Prayers for Forgiveness- Hassan al Basri Rahimahullah]
اســتغفر الله من ذنبي ومن زللي
ما زلت والله من ذنبي على وجلي
اســـتغفر الله من نفس تنازعني
كسب الذنوب وترك صالح العمل
I seek Allah’s forgiveness for my sins and my imperfections
By Allah, I still feel the tremor of my sins
I seek Allah’s forgiveness from a self that fights me
to commit sins and stop doing good deeds
The Prophet (Sallallähu alaihi wa sallam) said,
“The prayer offered in congregation is twenty five times more superior (in reward) to the prayer offered alone in one’s house or in a business center,
because if one performs ablution and does it perfectly, and then proceeds to the mosque with the sole intention of praying, then for each step which he takes towards the mosque, Allah upgrades him a de
gree in reward and (forgives) crosses out one sin till he enters the mosque.
When he enters the mosque he is considered in prayer as long as he is waiting for the prayer and the angels keep on asking for Allah’s forgiveness for him and they keep on saying:
‘O Allah! Be Merciful to him, O Allah! Forgive him, as long as he keeps on sitting at his praying place and does not pass wind.
When one thinks of great explorers, they think of the usual names: Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Evliya Çelebi, Christopher Columbus, etc. But not many know of one of the most interesting and influential of all time. In China, he is well known, although not always recognized or glorified. He is Zheng He, the Muslim who became China’s greatest admiral, explorer, and diplomat.
Zheng He was born in 1371 in the southern China region of Yunnan to a Hui (a Muslim Chinese ethnic group) family. His birth name was Ma He. In China, the family name is said first, followed by the given name. “Ma” is known in China as short for “Muhammad”, indicating Zheng He’s Muslim heritage. Both his father and his grandfather were able to travel to Makkah and complete the Hajj, so Zheng He came from a practicing Muslim family.
At a young age, his town was raided by the Ming Dynasty’s army. He was captured and transported to the capital, Nanjing, where he served in the imperial household. Despite the oppressive and difficult circumstances he was in, Zheng He actually befriended one of the princes, Zhu Di, and when he became the emperor, Zheng He rose to the highest positions in government. At this time, he was given the honorific title “Zheng” and was known as Zheng He.
In 1405, when emperor Zhu Di decided to send out a giant fleet of ships to explore and trade with the rest of the world, he chose Zheng He to lead the expedition. This expedition was massive. In all, almost 30,000 sailors were in each voyage, with Zheng He commanding all of them. Between 1405 and 1433, Zheng He led 7 expeditions that sailed to present day Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Kenya, and many others. It is probable that during one of his journeys, Zheng He was even able to go to Makkah to complete the Hajj.
Zheng He was not the only Muslim on these expeditions. Many of his advisors and were also Chinese Muslims, such as Ma Huan, a translator who spoke Arabic and was able to converse with the Muslim peoples they encountered on their journeys. He wrote an account of his journeys, titled the Ying-yai Sheng-lan, which is an important source today for understanding 15th century societies around the Indian Ocean.
Seeing these expeditions must have been an event that people did not easily forget. The ships Zheng He commanded were up to 400 feet long, many times the size of Columbus’s ships that sailed across the Atlantic. Everywhere they sailed, they commanded the respect (and sometimes fear) of the local people, who offered tributes to the Chinese emperor. Because of this tribute and trade with all the peoples they encountered, Zheng He would sail back to China with exotic goods such as ivory, camels, gold, and even a giraffe from Africa. The expeditions sent one message to the world: China is an economic and political superpower.
Economics and politics were not the only effects of this great fleet that was commanded by Zheng He. He and his Muslim advisors regularly promoted Islam wherever they traveled. In the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, Borneo and others, Zheng He found small communities of Muslims already there. Islam had started to spread in Southeast Asia a few hundred years before through trade from Arabia and India. Zheng He actively supported the continued growth of Islam in these areas.
Zheng He established Chinese Muslim communities in Palembang, and along Java, the Malay Peninsula, and the Philippines. These communities preached Islam to the local people and were very important to the spread of Islam in the area. The fleet built masjids and provided other social services the local Muslim community would need.
Even after the death of Zheng He in 1433, other Chinese Muslims continued his work in Southeast Asia, spreading Islam. Chinese Muslim traders in Southeast Asia were encouraged to intermarry and assimilate with the local people on the islands and Malay Peninsula. This brought more people to Islam in Southeast Asia, as well as strengthened and diversified the growing Muslim community.
As an admiral, diplomat, soldier, and trader, Zheng He is a giant of Chinese and Muslim history. He is seen as one of the greatest figured in the spread of Islam in Southeast Asia. Numerous masjids in the region are named after him to commemorate his contributions. Islam spread in Southeast Asia through many forms, including trade, travelling preachers, and immigration. Admiral Zheng He was also a major part of its spread in that region. Today, Indonesia has the largest Muslim population of any nation in the world, and much of that could be attributed to the activities of Zheng He in the region.
Aqsha, D. (2010, July 13). Zheng he and islam in southeast asia. The Brunei Times. Retrieved from http://www.bt.com.bn/art-culture/2010/07/13/zheng-he-and-islam-southeast-asia
He sent down water from the sky, so valleys flowed according to their measure, therefore the water flow brought forth the froth swollen upon it; and upon which they ignite the fire, to make ornaments and tools, from that too rises a similar froth; Allah illustrates that this is the example of the truth and the falsehood; the froth then bursts and disappears; and that which is of use to people, remains in the earth; this is how Allah illustrates the examples. (13:17)
And remember your Lord within your hearts humbly and with fear, and softly with your tongues, morning and evening, and do not be of the neglectful. [Aa`raf 7:205]
Assaalmamu Alaikum Mariam,
The first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are fast approaching and will be upon us
soon. Let us ensure that we take advantage of this amazing opportunity
and increase in our ibadaah, du’a and good deeds.
We know that there is a special feeling which connects us in Ramadan,
however, many don’t feel that spiritual connection with these first 10
days. Why is that? Lack of preparation for starters, but more importantly,
the lack understanding about the multitude of blessings that these first 10
days really entail. These blessed *days* of Dhul Hijjah are in fact more
blessed than the days of Ramadan! [Key word *days*]
This short clip explains the virtues of Dhul Hijjah:
Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are
nodays in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allaah than these ten
days.” The people asked, “Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah?” He said,
“Not even jihaad for the sake of Allaah, except in the case of a man who
went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came
back with nothing.”
There are still time before we start Dhul Hijjah, so please prepare for it
now. Make your du’a list BEFORE the days arrive, and do your very best
to fast, read Qur’an, repent and increase in good deeds throughout the