MY FIRST JOURNEY TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COLLEGE UGWOLAWO.

image

It was a bright beautiful Monday with sun already giving indication as to how hot the day was going to be, i put on my white and moron uniform for the very first time. Standing in front on my family (mother, grandmother, aunties and uncles) and seeing the admiration and love on their faces, i know then i was loved.

My luggages have proceeded to the car. I said my last goodbyes, hugs and tears were exchanged. People around were looking at me like i was the next Ohinoyi of Ebiraland. We got into the Red GOLF and started the 2 and half hour journey to my new home (Ugwolawo). I couldn’t held back the excitement building up in my anatomy but also i have a lots of questions that i don’t have answers to, like how will the school look like? Will i get to know anybody there? How will they treatment me? Who is going to take care of me? Will i be able to cope without a family base? All these and lots more were the unanswered questions i had in my mind and by the time i was able to give answers to some of the question we were in Ajaokuta.

My uncles tried to drag me into one of their conversation but i was too preoccupied with my own thoughts.

Itobe was next and by the time we got to Ayangba junction i was fully focused now, but not before forgetting to enjoy the view of the long bridge we’ve just crossed.

From inside the car we could hear the shout of small children (my age mates and seniors too) shouting “Oga buy groundnut”, “Oga buy cashew, buy Okpa, buy banana, buy lemu” but my attention was drawn to the tribal mark on this every beautiful lady, she was light in complexion, with beautify sets of sleeping eyes, lips well configurated and when she smiles it makes the tribal mark’s line review its dark colour. She looked at me and smile. The kind of smile i will realise later in life means something else.

At Ayangba junction we stopped to buy some breads and fruits for my guardian to be (Mr. Itopa M). From their onward i notice something unique which i have not seen before in my short life, RED SANDS, everywhere u to turn to it’s the same. It was fascinating and i was curious also. How can one place have another colour of sand and another different?

The roads where narrow and dusty with pots hole scattered like Poka-dot designs on a designers shirts. My white shirt was gradually changing colour due to the dust gaining entrance into the car from the back seat windows.
Looking both left and right i noticed cashew and mango trees in front of people’s houses. The cashews were of different colours, some red and others yellow. I also noticed these shrine-like huts in front of many of the houses we passed. I asked my uncle what they were and he jokingly said they housed the people’s family gods.

We finally got to Ofu local government which plays host to my school, saw people sitting under tress gisting in groups, young ladies move about showing their selling points, dogs displaying their talents, shops opened both sides of the road, Igbo traders visibly displaying their wares. Getting to the centre of Ofu i was shown the Palace of Onu of Ugwolawo, the central mosque and finally… the gate of my new home for the next 6yrs…
Federal Government College Ugwolawo!

Written by
Abdulmalik Baba Muhammad

Hajj: A Precious Call

image

When Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) completed the building of the Ka`bah, Almighty Allah commanded  him to call people to Hajj. Prophet Abraham  pleaded, “O Allah, how shall my voice reach all humankind?” Almighty Allah told him that his duty was only to make the call and that it was up to Allah to make it heard by people. Prophet Abraham  then climbed Mount `Arafat and, as loud as he could, yelled, “O People, verily, Allah has prescribed Hajj for you, so perform  it.”

The following verse from the Qur’an refers to the fact that Almighty Allah commanded Prophet Abraham to call people to Hajj:

{And proclaim unto humankind the pilgrimage: They will come unto you on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine.} (Al-Hajj 22:27)

To this day, millions upon millions of Muslims continue to answer the call of Prophet Abraham. May Allah help us all be among those who answer this noble call.

`Amr  ibn Al-`Aas related,

When Islam entered my heart, I went to the Messenger of Allah and said, “Give me your hand so that I may pledge allegiance to you.” The Prophet extended his hand, but I withdrew mine. The Prophet said, “What is wrong, `Amr?” I said, “I want to make a condition.” The Prophet asked, “And what is that?” I replied, “That Allah forgive me.” Upon that, the Messenger of Allah said, “Did you not know that Islam wipes out what came before it and that Hijrah wipes out what came before it and that Hajj wipes out what came before it?” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam. Almighty Allah obliges every financially and physically capable Muslim male or female to perform Hajj once in a lifetime. Almighty Allah says,

{And pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon humankind for the sake of Allah, (upon) everyone who is able to undertake the journey to it, and (for) whoever disbelieves, surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, above any need of the worlds.} (Aal `Imran 3:97)

Virtues of Hajj

Sinless Like Newborns. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he heard Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) say,

“Whoever performs Hajj and does not commit any obscenity or transgression shall return [free from sins] as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him.” (Al-Bukhari)

One of the greatest deeds. Abu Hurairah  narrated that the Prophet was asked, “Which deed is the best?” The Prophet said, “Belief in Allah and His Messenger.” He was asked again, “What is next?.” The Prophet said, “Jihad [striving] in the cause of Allah.” He was further asked, “And what is next?” He said, “Hajj mabroor [i.e. Hajj accepted by Almighty Allah]” (Al-Bukhari).

Abu Ash-Sha`thaa’ (one of the pious successors) said, “I contemplated the good deeds that a person does, and I found that performing Prayer and fasting are [types of] jihad of the body, and charity is a jihad of the wealth, whereas Hajj is a jihad of both the body and the wealth.”

Women’s Jihad. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet, “As jihad is the best deed, shouldn’t we [women] make jihad?” The Prophet replied, “The best jihad for you [women] is a Hajj mabroor.” `A’ishah later said, “I have been keen to regularly perform Hajj since I heard that from the Messenger of Allah” (agreed upon).

Answered Supplication.

The Prophet is reported to have said,

“The one striving in the cause of Allah and the one performing Hajj and the one performing `Umrah are all the delegation of Allah. He calls them and they respond to His call, and they ask Him and He answers their supplication.” (Ibn Majah and authenticated by Al-Albani)

A number of  books on the history of Islam  tell a story related to supplication during Hajj. A man from modern-day Turkmenistan stood on the plains of `Arafat on the Day of `Arafat. To his left, all he could see was Muslims crying and supplicating Almighty Allah. To his right, all he could see was Muslims crying and supplicating Almighty Allah. As a nonnative, he could not recite the lengthy prayers that others said in Arabic. At this, everything blurred in front of him. His face reddened and his eyes teared. He then raised his hands and prayed, “O Allah, grant me everything that they are asking for! Grant me everything that they are asking for!” And Allah answered his supplication.

Day of `Arafat.

The Prophet is reported to have said,

“There is no day on which Allah frees servants of His from Fire more than [those freed on] the Day of `Arafat. And, verily, He draws near and then proudly speaks about them [i.e. the pilgrims] before the angels, saying, ‘What do these seek?'” (Muslim)

The Prophet also said,

“Verily, Allah proudly speaks about the people of `Arafat before the people of Heaven [i.e. angels], saying, ‘Look to My servants: They have come to Me disheveled and dusty.'” (Al-Haithami and Al-Wadi`i) `A’ishah would see the Prophet standing for Night Vigil Prayer all night until his feet were cracked and swollen.

`Abdullah ibn Al-Mubarak related,

I went to Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah as the Day of `Arafat was approaching. He was resting on his knees, with his hands raised to the heaven and his cheeks and beard moistened with tears. He looked back and saw me, so I asked him, “Among the people who have gathered here for Hajj, who is in the worst state?” He replied, “He who thinks that Allah will not forgive him.”

`A’ishah would see the Prophet standing for Night Vigil Prayer all night until his feet were cracked and swollen. She asked him, “Why do you do this at a time when Allah has forgiven all your past and future sins?” The Prophet said, “Shall I not be a thankful servant?” (agreed upon).

This is the sublime example of Prophet Muhammad, whose sins were already forgiven. Now, how should we react to the glad tidings of Paradise and forgiveness of sins promised to those who perform Hajj?

Hajj Accepted by Allah

There are many hadiths that speak about the virtues of Hajj and affirm that sins are forgiven after a Hajj that is accepted by Allah. However, it should be emphasized that pilgrims should continue to obey Allah and His Messenger after Hajj. The belief that pilgrims will enter Paradise regardless of the sins they commit after Hajj is a misconception. This misconception is quite popular; it should therefore be corrected.

As mentioned earlier, the Arabic term Hajj mabroor  means a Hajj that was accepted by Almighty Allah. Such Hajj is free from sins, during and after it. If pilgrims returned to their homes in a state better than their state before they went to Hajj, then this would be a sign that their Hajj was accepted. Another sign is pilgrims’ refraining from committing sins after Hajj.
While Ibn `Umar was on his deathbed, his son reminded him of all the good deeds he did along with the Prophet and his Companions. Ibn `Umar told his son, “Quiet! Don’t you know whom Allah accepts from? Verily, Allah accepts only from those who have taqwa [piety and fear of Allah].”

Ready to go to Makkah for Hajj, `Ali ibn Al-Husayn wore his attire of ihram and mounted his camel. Suddenly, the color of his face changed and its skin shivered. As he started to cry, he was unable to intone the Talbiyah [Hajj prayer: Here I am at Your service, O Allah; here I am]. Someone asked him, “What’s wrong?” `Ali ibn Al-Husayn said, “I am afraid that if I recite it [i.e. the Talbiyah], I will be answered, ‘May your call not be answered, and may happiness not be your reward.'”

With that spirit, let’s visit the House of Allah in pursuit of His mercy and forgiveness.

Special Experience

I recall that during my hajj some sad incidents occurred at the place where pilgrims stone the Jamarat. It was before the time of Zhuhr Prayer, and I had been sitting since early morning, waiting for the time of Zhuhr Prayer to fling my pebbles.

About 30 minutes before Zhuhr Prayer, throngs of people toppled us like dominoes. I went through a really tough situation together with other pilgrims. Yet on my way back to the Ka`bah, I found a place with shady trees and a carpeted patio leading to a villa. The owner, an old man, stood watching all those who passed by; and I sat watching him. People would go to him and ask him for water. He would hurry and bring them cold water, so people would sincerely pray for him. I felt that their prayers were sincere and heartfelt, because I felt as thirsty as they were. Whenever the old man saw sick people, he would hasten on to the road and invite them in and provide them with food and a bed so that they would relax.

At first, I was embarrassed to ask for anything, but later I realized that I was thirsty, so I asked him for water. I had been in that patio for some time, and when I asked him for water, he realized that he had not offered me anything. He hastened on to the inside, and in addition to water, he brought me some fruit juice boxes. As I made my way back to the Ka`bah, I thought about this man: If a human being can be so merciful to those who came for Hajj, then how vast is the mercy of Almighty Allah for those pilgrims?

The Prophet is reported to have said, “The reward for a Hajj mabroor is nothing but Paradise” (Authenticated by Al-Albani).

image

Muhammad Ash-Shareef
Muslim Writer

Newcastle United Adjusts to Muslim Prayers

image

Accommodating the religious needs of its football stars, A Premier League club has dedicated a room for Muslim players to perform their prayers before matches.

“Prayer has become an important part of the build up to big games,” an insider told Mirror newspaper on Thursday, April 4.

There are seven Muslim players in the leading British football club.

They often encounter problems in performing their prayers as there is no specific room dedicated for the ritual.

Seeking to help them perform their religious tasks, the club has decided to dedicate a room for prayers by Muslim players.

“We believe we now have more Muslims in our first team squad than any other team in the Premier League, so it is important to look after them,” the insider said.

“They have been using various rooms at the ground to worship before games.

“Now they will get a proper prayer room,” he said.

The British club said the prayer room can be used by players of all faiths.

Muslims pray five times a day, with each prayer made of a series of postures and movements, each set of which is called a rak‘ah.

The five prayer times are divided all through the day which starts with Fajr prayer at dawn.

Muslim players in Newcastle United were often led in prayers by their former colleague Demba Ba, who now moved to rival Chelsea.

“Demba was the most devout of all the players,” the insider said.

“He would regularly pray before big games, and be joined by team-mates. It helped build a bond between them.”

Founded in 1892, Newcastle United have won League Championship title and six FA Cups, as well as the 1969 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup and the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

Newcastle United has the ninth highest total of major honors won by an English club.

The club’s most successful period was between 1904 and 1910, when they won an FA Cup and three of their First Division titles.

The club is 20th club in terms of annual revenue, generating €115.3million in 2012.
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.5 million.