Invocations in times of worry and grief

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A Prayer to Ease Anxiety and Depression

Explanation from Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya

It was reported from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No person suffers any anxiety or grief, and says:

Allaahumma innee ‘abduka wa ibn ‘abdika wa ibn amatika, naasiyati bi yadika, maadin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uka, as’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilm il-ghaybi ‘andak an taj’ala al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’a huzni wa dhahaaba hammi

(O Allaah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your female slave, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every Name belonging to You which You named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’aan the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety)’ – but Allaah will take away his sorrow and grief, and give him in their stead joy.”(Ahmad 1/391 and Al-Albaanee declared it sahih.)

Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said about this dua in his book ‘The Provisions of the Hereafter’ that the verse, “Lord: I am Thy servant, whose father and mother are thy servants…” embodies the core of knowledge and recognition of Allah Almighty, and the secrets of worship, and no single book can ever detail their full meaning. Yet, this prayer is full of recognition of who is God, and in it, the worshipper calling upon His Lord, acknowledges his Creator, and presents himself as Allah’s servant, and the son of His servants.  The caller also places things where they belong by recognizing that his fate is in Allah’s Hand; that his destiny is moving according to the divine plan; that Allah Almighty does whatever He pleases with it; that the servant can neither bring benefits nor harm to himself; that he cannot bring about his own birth, death, or resurrection; that his destiny is in Allah’s Hand; that he has no power to alter it except as Allah wills; that he is totally dependent on his Creator, Cherisher, Sustainer, and Lord; that his own existence is subject to whatever Allah Almighty decrees; and that Allah is just, and what He wills shall be.

Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya then explains the next part of the dua: “My fate is in Thy Hand, and my destiny is moving according to Thy plan.  Thou art indeed just in Thy judgment…”This section of the prayer embodies two cardinal aspects which are the core of the doctrine of monotheism (Tawheed): (1)  the first is the recognition and confirmation of fate, and that Allah’s decree regarding His servant shall unfailingly come into force, and that the servant cannot escape it or repel it; and (2) the second aspect proclaims that Allah is just, that He does not oppress His servants, and that what He decrees is due by virtue of divine justice and knowledge of such needs.  This is because injustice represents the need, ignorance, incompetence, weakness, and inferiority of an unjust person, and therefore, such attributes are not divine, and they cannot come from one who is omniscient, All-Knowing, wise, and has no needs. Hence, Allah’s wisdom is operative wherever His will is ordained.  Allah is rich beyond any need, and everything is poor and seeks its nourishment from Him.  He is All-Wise, and there is not a single atom throughout the entire universes where His will is not operative.  The absolute dependence of each and every cell in the entire creation, and their soliciting of their support and sustenance from the sole and only provider requires their gratitude. Hence gratitude (shukur) is rewarded with blessings and ingratitude (kufr) is rewarded with disapprobation and consequent punishment for the non repenting ones.

When the unrepenting and ungrateful disbelievers and idol worshipers threatened Allah’s Prophet Hud, peace be upon him, to invoke the curse of their deities upon him, he replied: I call Allah to witness and you bear witness that I am innocent regarding what you ascribe as partners to Him. Therefore, scheme (Your worst) against me and grant me no respite. I put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is not a moving creature whose forelock is not (held firmly) in His Hand.  My Lord is surely on a straight path, (Qur’an 11:54-56)–meaning that Allah’s power which is unlimited and unrestrained is operative over all creatures, and no one can withstand His decree.  He alone has the power to move them as He pleases, and He does so rightly, justly, wisely and mercifully.

In this prayer, the servants proclamation: “My destiny is moving according to Thy plan,” means the same as ‘There is not a moving creature whose forelock is not (held firmly) in His Hand,’ and  his saying: “Thou art indeed just in Thy judgment, ” is also parallel to ‘My lord is surely on a straight path.’  Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) calls in this prayer upon Allah’s most holy Names and the divine attribute He proclaimed in His kingdom, revealed in a Book, taught to a privileged servant or kept as His sole secret, so that no angel of the nearest and most exalted status and no prophet or messenger has ever known to ask by it. Such invocation surpasses all supplications, and of all prayers is the dearest to Him, and most worthy of immediate reply, because it proves the servant’s knowledge and recognition of his Lord.

Allah’s messenger (pbuh) then prayed to Allah Almighty to make the glorious Qur’an the prime of his heart, meaning the spiritual food of his body, mind, and soul, and through it, to wash away, dispel, and cure his stresses, worries, and concerns, making it the one conclusive medicine that will extract illnesses, and restore the human being to his true status and balance.  Hence, he asked his Lord to make the Qur’an the light of his soul that removes any corrosion that tarnishes his clarity and wisdom, and that polishes his heart. Such medicine works only if the patient is truthful in his asking for it, sincere in his trust in its effectiveness and uses it as prescribed by his physician.  Hence, Allah willing the correct use of the medicine will certainly be followed by complete recovery, excellent health and vitality and Allah is the Supreme helper.


About Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyya

His full name is Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, son of Ayyoub, son of Sa’ad al-Zar’i, al-Dimashqi, patronymed as Abu ‘Abdullaah Shamsu-Deen, and known as Ibn al-Qaqqim al-Jawziyaa. He was born in Damascus, Syria in 691 A.H. and he studied under his father who was the local attendant of al-Jawziyya school.  He also studied under the great Imam and scholar Imam Taqiyyu-Deen Ahmad ibn Taimiyyah who kept him as his closest student and disciple, and Ibn Al-Qayyim  later became his successor.

Ibn al-Qayyim catered to all the branches of Islamic sciences and was particularly known and commended for his commentaries on the Qur’an, hadiths, and fiqh.

Citation

Israel’s Sonic Booms Terrifies Gaza Children

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Deafening Sound Considered Retaliation for Palestinian Attacks
By WILF DINNICK, Dec. 29, 2005

It’s Israel’s latest weapon: Without notice, an Israeli jet fighter flies low over the densely populated Gaza Strip, breaking the sound barrier.

The massive sonic boom often breaks windows, shakes entire apartment buildings and terrifies the people of Gaza.

Shaul Mofaz, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Olmert

Just about every night for the last five months, 10-year-old Basma Abid Adiam has had trouble sleeping.

Her father says during the day she often seems distant. Basma’s problems started when the Israeli air force began breaking the sound barrier almost nightly over her home.

On the fourth floor of her family’s apartment building, surrounded by her brothers and sisters, Basma said shyly, “We are afraid when we hear the boom. I wet my bed. During the day when we go to school, we are afraid and try to hide.”

An international activist waves to Palestinians after arriving to Gaza in an attempt to break an Israeli blockade August 23, 2008. Israel said on Saturday it would allow seafaring activists seeking to challenge its blockade on the Gaza Strip to enter the Hamas-controlled territory. From Reuters Pictures by REUTERS.

Responding to Rocket Attacks Against Israelis

Since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip last September, a small group of Palestinian militants has been using the northern Gaza area to launch homemade rockets at Israel.

The Palestinian authority has either been unable or unwilling to stop the attacks. The Israel army says it has to take action.

The almost nightly sonic booms are the Israeli air force’s attempt to turn the Palestinian population against the militants in Gaza and help stop the attacks.

Targeting innocent civilians violates the Geneva Conventions. Both Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups have asked the Israeli High Court to stop the air force from this practice.

Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a psychiatrist in Gaza, says it is the children who are harmed the most.

“For children under the age of 6, large noise means danger, a danger to life,” he said. “This is definitely a form of collective punishment, which under international law is prohibited and considered a war crime.”

An activist tosses roses into the sea as part of a memorial service in memory of 14 Palestinian fishermen killed since the Israeli siege of Gaza and 34 U.S. sailors killed by Israeli fire during an attack against the USS Liberty 41 years ago in the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008. About 40 activists from 16 countries will set sail aboard the boats from the Mediterranean island for the estimated 30-hour trip to the Palestinian territory. They say they will "non-violently" resist any attempts by Israeli authorities to arrest them. From AP Photo by PHILIPPOS CHRISTOU.

But Rannan Gissim, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, defends the tactic. “The inconvenience that it causes the Palestinian population cannot be measured against the question of life or death for Israelis on the other side.”

Cheatsheet: Phthalates or Plasticizers

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Cheatsheet: Phthalates

Everything you need to know about phthalates

What is it?

Phthalates are a common industrial chemical used in PVC plastics, solvents, and synthetic fragrances. They’ve been around since the 1930’s, and now they’re pretty ubiquitous; when they tested 289 people in 2000, the CDC found phthalates in all of the subjects’ blood at surprisingly high levels. They’re often referred to as a plasticizer, which we think sounds rather like a kind of exercise to be done on the living-room floor in front of videos hosted by Jane Fonda. But we digress.

What are the possible health effects?

Phthalates are endocrine disruptors linked to problems of the reproductive system, including decreased sperm motility and concentration in men and genital abnormalities in baby boys. (Oh, and did you know that average sperm counts have decreased significantly since the 1940’s?) More recently they’ve also been linked to asthma and allergies.

How can I minimize my exposure?

Avoid these, and you’ll also be avoiding phthalates:

  1. Nail polish: Dibutyl phthalate is often used to make nail polish chip-resistant. Look for it on the ingredients list, where it may be shortened to DBP.
  2. Plastics in the kitchen: Take a critical eye to your cupboards. Phthalates may be more likely to leach out of plastic when it’s heated, so avoid cooking or microwaving in plastic.
  3. Vinyl toys: Phthalates are what make vinyl (PVC) toys soft, so don’t give them to children. Opt instead for wooden and other phthalate-free toys, especially during that age when they put everything in their mouths!
  4. Paint: Paints and other hobby products may contain phthalates as solvents, so be sure to use them in a well-ventilated space.
  5. Fragrance: Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is often used as part of the “fragrance” in some products. Since DEP won’t be listed separately, you’re better off choosing personal care products, detergents, and cleansers that don’t have the word “fragrance” on the ingredients list.
  6. Vinyl: Vinyl shows up in a lot of different products; lawn furniture, garden hoses, building materials, and items of clothing (like some raincoats) are often sources. Aside from carefully choosing materials when you’re making purchases, there is one easy change you can make: switch to a non-vinyl shower curtain. That “new shower curtain” smell (you know the one) is a result of chemical off-gassing, and it means your shower curtain is a source of phthalates in your home.
  7. Air Fresheners: Just like fragrances in personal care products, most air fresheners contain phthalates.

Where can I learn more?

  1. Here’s a link to Phthalates in the Chemical Index.
  2. Phthalates were just one of the hormone-disrupting chemicals we found contaminating the San Francisco Bay.
  3. NRDC has the low-down on phthalates in air fresheners.
  4. EWG’s Jane Houlihan discusses phthalates in children’s personal care products.
  5. Olga explains a recent study linking phthalates to asthma and allergies.

Orginal photo by Felix63

UNICEF Awards 2007 Photos of the Year

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UNICEF Awards 2007 Photos of the Year

The United Nation’s Children’s Fund recognized a handful of photographers with honors in their annual Photo of the Year contest. From Afghanistan to the Phillipines, their work exposes horrid conditions facing some of the world’s children.

The image is startling — a 40-year-old groom sitting beside his 11-year-old future bride. Photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who took the photo last year in Afghanistan, asked the pre-teenage bride what she felt on the day of her engagement.

“Nothing,” said the girl, according to Sinclair. “I do not know this man. What am I supposed to feel?”

The sobering image and the story behind it brought Sinclair top honors in the annual Photo of the Year contest sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).Awards were distributed to first through third place winners as well as eight honorable mentions. International judges considered 1,230 entries from 142 photographers in 31 countries.

Sinclair, an American photographer, produced her winning photograph as part of a series of pictures she took about child marriages between 2005 and 2007 in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Nepal. UNICEF estimates that about 50 percent of Afghani women are married before they turn 18.

Second place honors went to GMB Akash, of Bangladesh, whose winning photo shows a 12 year-old boy toiling in a Bangladeshi brickyard. UNICEF studies conclude that 4.7 million children between five and 14 years of age are involved in child labor in that country.

The third-place photograph was taken by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach. His picture depicts a nine-year-old girl jumping in glee on her birthday in the midst of a smoldering garbage dump outside of Manila.

Honorable Mentions
In 2007 honorable mentions were given to the following photographers:

  • Jonathan Torgovnik, Israel, Newsweek Magazin
  • Hatem Moussa, Palestine, Associated Press (AP)
  • Wolfram Hahn, Germany, Student FH Potsdam
  • Renée C. Byer, USA, The Sacramento Bee
  • Nir Elias, Israel, Reuters
  • Finbarr O`Reilly, UK & Canada, Reuters
  • Musa Sadulayew, Chechenya, Associated Press (AP)
  • Steven Achiam, Denmark, Student, Danish School of Journalism

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1st Place

This sobering image, showing a 40-year-old groom sitting beside his 11-year-old future bride in Afghanistan, brought Stephanie Sinclair top honors in the annual Photo of the Year contest sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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2nd Place

Second-place honors went to GMB Akash, of Bangladesh, whose winning photo shows a 12-year-old boy toiling in a Bangladeshi brickyard. UNICEF studies conclude that 4.7 million children between five and 14 years of age are involved in child labor in that country.

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3rd Place

The third-place photograph was taken by German photographer Hartmut Schwarzbach. His picture depicts a nine-year-old girl jumping in glee on her birthday in the midst of a smoldering garbage dump outside of Manila.

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“A Mother’s Journey”: The American photographer Renee C. Byer took this picture as part of a series about a single mother with five children and a son suffering from terminal cancer. He died in 2006.

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Finbarr O’Reilly recieved an honorable mention for his photo “A House of Hope,” an image of Lopez Vidal, right, and Aron Masahuka, both afflicted with polio, languishing in an ill-equipped hospital in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Wolfram Hahn made a series of photos titled “A Disenchanted Playroom” to accompany a study about the television-viewing habits of German children.

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Hatem Moussa won an honorable mention for “Life in Gaza”: Palestinian children were rushed from a car into a hospital after their homes were hit by Israeli shelling in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya in April, 2006. An eight-year-old child was killed in the attack and 13 other children were injured.

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Joseline Ingabire, 37, an HIV-positive Rwandan woman, is pictured with her daughter Leah Batamuliza, 11. This photo by Jonathon Torgovnik accompanied a story in Newsweek magazine about women who were raped during the Rwandan civil war and their children today.

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Musa Sadulayew made this photo as a part of a series called “Chechnya’s Forgotten Children.”

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Boys hang from a bar for five minutes as part of a physical training exercise at the Gymnastics Hall of the Shanghai University of Sports. The photo was part of Nir Elias’s series “Pain Threshold — Sports Education in China.”

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“Sumo Boys in Japan”: Steven Achiam took a series of pictures depicting life in the Hiragaya sumo club, where boys train until they have beaten a strong opponent 10 times.