And We rendered the sky a guarded ceiling...
“And We rendered the sky a guarded ceiling” (21:32)
The human being has a tendency to take everything for granted. One example of this is the atmosphere that we have come to rely on to provide the air we breathe, among many other things. When we stop and reflect on the Quranic verse used in the title of this article, we realize how fortunate we are. We know now that, following God's precise design, the earth's atmosphere blocks out all the harmful short wavelength, high-frequency photons, shielding us from the potentially deadly effects of ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. Life on earth has evolved beneath a protective blanket of air. Without it, we would hardly last a day, for the influx of high-energy photons (primarily from the sun) would prove lethal. We find almost no high-energy photons in our local environment, and must go beyond the upper atmosphere to encounter these.
All of us should count ourselves fortunate to have an atmosphere that protects us from the electromagnetic waves that would otherwise destroy us. The most important part of this protection consists of the shield against ultraviolet waves, which the sun produces in great amounts. This atmospheric shield arises from one of the most famous and least understood of all molecules, ozone.
A molecule consists of two or more atoms held together in a single unit. The air that we breathe consists mainly of oxygen molecules (oxygen atoms linked together in pairs, hence the notation 02), and nitrogen molecules (pairs of nitrogen atoms, or N2). These molecules provide some protection against streams of ultraviolet radiation from the sun and (much, less important) from other astronomical objects. Although some ultraviolet photons will disappear when they strike oxygen and nitrogen molecules, most would penetrate the atmosphere and strike the earth's surface, were it not for the ozone layer.
Ozone is a relatively rare type of molecule, formed when three oxygen atoms link together (03) rather than in pairs. Not much attention would be paid to ozone, were it not for the fact that ozone molecules prove remarkably efficient at absorbing ultraviolet photons. Because of this efficiency even a' relatively tiny number of ozone molecules, high in the stratosphere, is sufficient to remove almost all the ultraviolet radiation that streams toward the earth.
"The One who made the earth habitable for you and the sky a structure ..." (Quran, 2:22)
Ozone molecules are formed from oxygen atoms that are broken apart by the high-energy ultraviolet photons. Some o the individual oxygen atoms recombine to form 03 (ozone) rather than 02 (oxygen molecules).
"Not even an atom's weight is out of your Lord's control, be it in the heavens or the earth ..." (Quran, 10:61)
Ozone layer is a region in the earth's stratosphere - between 7 and 30 miles above the surface. It absorbs much of the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation is one of the causes of skin cancer. Other types of atoms and molecules in the atmosphere screen out all X-rays and gamma rays that reach to the atmosphere.
As if all this protection from harmful radiation was not enough, God in all His mercy and wisdom allows selected waves to pass through the atmosphere. These waves are not harmful to living organism but instead are of great value to the day-to-day life on earth. Examples are the radio waves, sometimes subdivided into "microwaves" (the same ones used in microwave ovens) and "ordinary" (longer wavelength) radio photons. Today's daily living would have been quite different without this phenomenon. The radio, radar and satellite links are just a few more examples of today progress in technologies gained through these wavelength photons. God with His grace taught the humans to harness all this.
"He taught Adam all the names then presented them to the angels, saying, "Give me the names of these, if you are right" (Quran, 2:31)
All this, and much more, have been established for the inhabitants of earth by God ... for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better ... (Quran, 67:2)
By Ijaz Chaudry.
Q & A on AIDS - (Islamic perspective)
The following issues were discussed by the IOMS, The Fiqh Academy at Jeddah and WHO in various meetings held between the years 1980 - 2000.
Q: 1) What is AIDS?
A: This is an acronym of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome caused by a virus or HIV. It results in extensive destruction of the body immune system which leads to increasing inability of the body to resist all types of infection, even those which are not normally associated with infection.
Q: 2) How the AIDS virus is transmitted?
A: It is transmitted from one person to another through body fluids such as sexual fluids (semen, fallopian and vaginal fluids) and blood. It is , therefore, passed during sexual intercourse among both heterosexuals and homosexuals, or through the blood in cases of blood transfusion or via syringes or injection needles.
Q: 3) How does the AIDS virus spread?
A: It spreads by three main causes -
1). By sexual intercourse which accounts for 90% cases. Promiscuity, sodomy, prostitution and sex with partners affected by venereal diseases contribute to increase in the rate of AIDS infection.
2). Through blood transfusion or the use of infected needles and syringes, especially among drug addicts.
3). Through infected mother to unborn babies.
Q: 4) What does the Islam say about the unlawful sexual act?
A: The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is reported to have said that " A person would be devoid of faith when he, or she, is committing an unlawful sexual act".
Q: 5) What are the Islamic approaches for protection against AIDS?
A: There are three measures recommended by Islam, as part of its moral code, which are essential for the prevention of AIDS. These are - (a) marriage, (b) proscription of sexual promiscuity, and (c) deterrence.
(a) Marriage: This is an effective means to protect individuals especially young people, from indulging in illicit sexual activity. The teachings of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) urge Muslims to make marriage affordable and easy for all members of society. He said: "When a man comes to you seeking marriage and if you are happy with his religious and moral integrity and honesty, give him your daughter; otherwise, immorality and corruption would spread among you all."
(b) Proscribing promiscuity: This is achieved through the following measures -
(i) Urging men and women to control their sexual urge and avoid the lewd gaze which could rouse sexual desires and lead to unlawful sexual contact. Allah says in the Quran: "Tell the believing men and women to lower their gaze and protect their chastity, for that is bound to render them purer. Allah is aware of all that they do." (An-Noor:30)
(ii) Advising women to dress modestly in public. Allah instructs the Prophet (PBUH) to tell believing women: "Not to show their adornments, except those that are ordinarily outward, and to cover their bosoms with their veil". (An Noor: 31). They are also urged: "Not to walk tantalizingly, with the intention of revealing their beauty." (An-Noor: 31). Women are taught to wear loose, plain and non-transparent clothes that preserve and enhance their dignity and modesty.
(iii) Discouraging men and women who are not barred from marrying from being together on their own in private, in order to avoid the temptation of sexual attraction.
(iv) Fighting permissiveness and loose social mingling between the sexes outside the inner family circle.
(v) Urging boys and girls as they come of age not to invade the privacy of their elders and peers without their permission.Allah says in the Quran: "Believers, do not enter the dwellings of others until you announce your presence and have greeted those inside them." (An-Noor: 27)
(vi) Forbidding all provocative activities such as pornography, provocative singing, dancing, music and films, that tantalize and arouse sensual feelings Allah says in the Quran: "Some people indulge in frivolous activity, so that they may, in their ignorance, lead others away from the path of Allah and hold it up in ridicule. These will receive a shaming punishment." (Luqman: 6).
(c) Effective deterrence: When education and upbringing fail and other preventive methods prove ineffective in stamping out permissive behaviour in society, resort must then be made to punishment, as a deterrence to others. However, such punishments must be prescribed under very stringent conditions of proof. In case of illicit sexual acts, for example, punishment cannot be meted out without either a full admission by the accused, or the unanimous testimony of four eye witnesses who must agree on every detail of the misdemeanour.
According to Quran, illicit sexual acts are punishable by one hundred lashes for offenders. It says: "Each woman or man who engages in illicit sexual acts shall be given a hundred lashes. Let no pity for them dissuade you from obeying God 's commands, if you truly believe in God and the Last Day and let their punishment be witnessed by crowd of believers." (An-Noor: 2)
Q: 6) What is the view of Islam on Sodomy and homosexual acts?
A: Quran severely condemns these practices. Allah says: "when our judgment came to pass we turned it (the city of Sodom) upside down and showered it with a torrent of claystones bearing the tokens of your Lord." (Hud: 82-83)
Q: 7) What is the Islamic Punishment for deliberate transmission of AIDS?
A: As no cure from the AIDS is, as yet, available, the premediated transmission of the virus is tantamount to poisoning/killing. And, killing with insidious means is a capital offence, and is not different from killing with a material instrument, and thus leads to capital punishment.
Q: 8) What is the Islamic point of view regarding the marriage involving AIDS carriers?
A: Any one who knows that he or she is an AIDS carrier must not enter a marriage relationship without disclosing the facts, for transmitting the disease is criminal and hiding the fact would be fraudulent, and both acts are objectionable.
Q: 9) Is annulment of marriage permissible in Islam if the infection is discovered after marriage?
A: Yes, Islamic law allows the annulment of marriage under such a condition.
Q: 10) Should an infected couple be allowed to marry?
A: They may be allowed to marry whether they choose to use condome during sexual intercourse or not. But since the risk of passing the virus from the mother to her baby is high, they should take all precautions to prevent conception.
Q:11) Is there right of sexual intercourse among infected spouses?
A: If one of the spouses is an AIDS patient, the other can refuse sexual intercourse. However, if healthy spouse agrees, then adequate precaution must be taken to reduce the risk of infection and conception.
Q: 12) Has the healthy spouse right to divorce or separation?
A: Yes, either spouse has the right to separate from another who is an AIDS carrier, whether the infection occurs before or after marriage.
Q: 13) What are the obligations of separation of spouses?
A: If the wife is the carrier, she will not receive entitlements of a divorced wife. The husband has the full right to reclaim the dowry he had paid or its equivalent if the marriage had already been consummated. However, if the husband is the carrier, the wife will receive her deferred dowry and the muta'ah or compensation.
Q: 14) Can an AIDS-infected fetus be aborted?
A: No, the baby cannot be aborted, as the AIDS sufferer should not be deprived of treatment and whose life must not be deliberately terminated.
Q: 15) Should a baby be aborted for the sake of an AIDS infected mother?
A: If the baby's continued presence in the womb threatens mother's life, the baby may be sacrificed for the sake of the mother because the baby's chance of life is much less than that of the mother.
Q:16) Can an AIDS suffering mother nurse her healthy baby?
A: As long as the mother takes the necessary precautions of hygiene and health care vital to prevent transmission of AIDS Virus, she can nurse her baby.
Q: 17) Are the AIDS sufferers terminally ill patients?
A: No, they cannot be considered terminally ill until the full symptoms of the disease are apparent and the patients begin to display signs of total disability and are no longer able to lead reasonably normal life, subsequently culminating in death.
By Health & Science Staff
One of the best ways to protect one’s teeth is the siwak, which was mentioned in several sayings of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Siwak are the wicks that are used to rub inside the mouth, and they get their name from the Arabic word “yudlik,” which can be roughly translated to mean “massage” (i.e., massage the inside of the mouth). It means more than “tooth brush.”
The best type of siwak is that which comes from the araak tree. The siwak of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was from that tree. The siwak is a natural twig fortified with natural minerals that help clean the teeth, other inhibitors that prevent gums from bleeding, cleaning agents that kill microbes and germs and a scent that gives breath a naturally fresh smell. The siwak is an ideal, natural brush that has been endowed with more than any artificial toothpaste could ever have.
Like a toothbrush, the wicks on the siwak clean between the teeth and do not break under any amount of pressure; rather, they are flexible and strong. The small wicks bend to the appropriate shape to get plaque and leftover food out from in between teeth while avoiding any damage to the gums.
The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) taught us more than 1,400 years ago to use the siwak to clean our teeth and mouth and give it a nice scent. Anas (RA) quoted the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) as saying: “Whenever the Angel Gabriel (AS) would visit me, he would advise me to use the siwak.”
The leftovers of food found between teeth provide an excellent environment for the festering of millions of bacteria, which can lead to painful and bloody gum disease and cysts. In the worst cases, there can be inflammation of the jawbones.
Bacteria also produce damaging enzymes that eat away at the calcium of the teeth, which causes cavities. In severe cases, the bacteria produce gases that emit nasty stenches from the mouth. Recent studies have found that siwak has natural minerals that kill microbes and germs and remove plaque.
The Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) used to rub the siwak over his tongue, teeth and gums. Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari (RA) said, “I visited the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), and the siwak was at the edge of his tongue.”
Chemical Breakdown Of A Siwak
Siwak has 19 beneficial ingredients in it. Most important among them are:
* Antibacterial acidic inhibitors that fight decay and diarrhea. They are natural disinfectants and can be used to stop bleeding. They disinfect the gums and teeth and close any microscopic cuts that may have existed in the gums. On first usage, the siwak will taste harsh, and maybe even burn, because of a mustard-like substance found in it, but this is the ingredient that fights decay in the mouth and kills germs.
* Minerals such as sodium chloride, potassium, sodium bicarbonate and calcium oxides. These clean the teeth. For instance, the American Dental Association considers sodium bicarbonate to be a preferred ingredient in toothpastes.
* Natural scented oils that taste and smell nice, give the mouth a nice smell. They make up about 1% of the siwak.
* Enzymes that prevent the buildup of plaque that causes gum disease. Plaque is also the no. 1 cause of premature loss of teeth.
* Anti-decay and anti-germ ingredients that act as a penicillin of sorts, decreasing the amount of bacteria in the mouth, which means cleaner teeth and cleaner air when breathing through the mouth.
Some researchers have found that tooth decay is rapid when a dry brush is used, and that wetting one’s toothbrush mitigates the damage. So the siwak should be dampened before usage. If there is no alternative, one’s saliva will suffice to dampen the stick. Siwak also has chemicals that cause the mouth to produce extra saliva, which is the mouth’s organic defense and cleaning mechanism.
Both the Qur'an and Hadith contain descriptions of Paradise as being filled with green:
These it is for whom are gardens of perpetuity beneath which rivers flow; ornaments shall be given to them therein of bracelets of gold, and they shall wear green robes of fine silk and thick silk brocade interwoven with gold, reclining therein on raised couches; excellent, the recompense; and goodly, the resting place (18:31).
Reclining on green cushions and beautiful carpets (55:76).
Accounts in the Hadith mention that Prophet Muhammad's (SAW) turban was green as well as the flag of Islam. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica notes that, in some countries, a green turban usually denotes a "Sharif" or descendant of the Prophet (SAW).
While many people may brush away any significance of the mention of colors in the Qur'an, the colors that we choose are actually an important part of our lives. The Qur'an (30.22) gives us a hint of this when it says, "And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely, there are signs in this for the learned."
One of the first things to be noticed upon entering mosques anywhere around the world is the green and blue surroundings. The mosques in Iran are famous for their blue tile work. In Saudi Arabia, blue and green stained glass is used in the more modern mosque designs while in the deserts of Egypt, some mosques are painted completely blue or green and are decked in green neon at night time. In Istanbul, the most famous mosque is even called The Blue Mosque.
Although the colors of these mosques were chosen for their religious significance or their symbolic meanings in ancient cultures, over time modern science has found that there is a sound basis for the choices of blue and green in places of worship.
In the Encyclopedia of Healing Therapies, Anne Woodham and David Peters relate that these colors have contained significant meaning for people since prehistoric times. In ancient history, green was the color of growth, and blue was thought of as the color of the sky and of heavenly peace.
An Indian named Dinshah P. Ghadiali is the first scientist to be documented as having tried to explain the power of color. He claimed that the secret to the power of colors lay in the fact that they transmit vibrations that in turn transmit certain moods as well as healing.
Modern scientists have built on this theory, and have discovered that the sun's rays form an entire spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that forms visible white light. Light travels in wavelengths, and its different wavelengths are perceived as different colors. Each color also has a certain frequency at which it vibrates. When blind people claim to "see" color, what they really perceive is these various wavelengths and frequencies.
This is also what sighted people perceive on a subconscious level when they are affected by colors. In fact, many scientists believe that this perception can occur within the deepest levels of the interior of the body.
While doctors often agree on the psychological effects of color therapy, they typically ignore the physical effects. However, the science of color therapy has been exploring both psychological and physical effects of different colors. Color therapists believe that touching or being exposed to a color can provide the same benefits as looking at it since colors work according to their vibrational wavelengths rather than the brain's interpretation of that color. The faster the vibration, the warmer the color; the slower the vibration, the cooler the color. Research into the effects of color has shown that people who are blind from birth can learn to differentiate colors through their fingertips by picking up on the vibration of the different colors.
Practitioners of color therapy also believe that the cells and organs of the body have vibrational frequencies that can be affected by certain vibrational frequencies in colors.
Professor J. L. Morton of the University of Hawaii's School of Architecture who also serves as an international lecturer and consultant for companies such as Eastman Kodak reports conclusively that the skin CAN see color. She states that 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians built healing temples of light because they had learned that bathing patients in specific colors of light produced varying effects. Noted neuropsychologist, Kurt Goldstein, confirmed this fact. In his modern classic, The Organism, he notes that stimulation of the skin by different colors leads to different effects. He states, "It is probably not a false statement to say that a specific color stimulation is accompanied by a specific response pattern of the entire organism."
Because of the findings of such research in color therapy, many studies have been done to demonstrate which colors produce which effects on the human psyche. Many people are familiar with studies conducted in 1948 in West Germany that showed that the use of the colors yellow, orange, and red in the classroom raises student IQ levels. Further studies in the U.S. in 1973 showed that red light causes the blood pressure and heart rate to rise and that orange causes hunger pangs; hence, many restaurants use the color orange in their decor and their dishes to stimulate appetite. Many advertisers also use the theories of color therapy to promote their products.
Blue and green are good choices for promoting a "spiritual life." Blue is said to correspond to the throat of a person and green to the heart. Coincidentally, these are the two tools we use to worship when we recite and pray.
Blue has been shown in studies (U.S., 1973) to lower blood pressure and heart rate; decrease hunger; and inspire relaxation, peace, and tranquility. It is often used in color therapy to treat insomnia, an overactive thyroid, and panic attacks.
Blue is the color of honesty and loyalty. In fact, in the field of web design, blue is thought to be "the safest global color." For Jews, it indicates holiness; in the Middle East, it signifies protection; for Hindus, it has a religious significance through Krishna; in China, it is associated with immortality and in Colombia, it is associated with cleanliness.
In The Ultimate Healing System, Donald Lepore says that he uses blue when he lectures because it energizes the vocal area, and causes people to respect what he says more. This may be one of the reasons that a 'khutbah' given in a blue mosque is so much more effective than one recorded on cassette tape.
Blue is also noble, as in the concept of "Blue Blood." Mary (mother of Prophet Isa - AS) is usually portrayed in Christian icons as wearing a blue veil or robe for this is the color of serenity, perfection, and protection. It is also a cooling color that is good for wearing on very hot days, which may explain some of its significance in the Middle East. Physically, it is good for patients suffering from shock, inflammation, and nervous breakdowns. Blue helps control feverish conditions, stop bleeding, with nervous irritations, and with burns. However, too much blue can leave a person cold, depressed and sorrowful; therefore, it should be balanced with the use of orange.
Green invokes the feelings of harmony, balance, sympathy, and devotional love as well as relieving nervous tension. According to Dr. Lepore, green provides the natural balance between the powers of red and blue. Green also balances blue (a highly spiritual color invoking a sense of awe in most people as they gaze at the sky or sea) and yellow (said to be a very "mental" color that, in studies, affects subjects' abilities to study and learn). As the combination of these two colors, it helps people to merge their spiritual "heavenly thought" with their earthly "mental thoughts."
Green is the color of self-esteem. It may be disliked by persons just experiencing trauma because as it seeks to balance, it may cause aspects of the trauma to surface. Creating harmony and hope, it helps with the heart area and is good for tired nerves as it balances the emotions and brings a feeling of calmness. It stimulates growth so it is good for helping to heal broken bones, and re-growing tissue of all kinds. However, exposure to too much green can deprive us of the challenges that we need in order to evolve and thrive. Its bluer tones suggest optimism and hope and are more spiritual than its other tones.
Next time you visit the mosque, reflect on the healing inherent in the colors around you, for indeed, Allah has sent us cures in many things - even in many places where we would not expect to find them.
By Karima Burns, MH, ND
Taken from islamonline
The following issues were discussed by the IOMS, The Fiqh Academy at Jeddah and WHO in various meetings held between the years 1980 - 2000.
Q:1) Artificial insemination (Test Tube Babies) is it lawful or prohibited in Islam?
A: Such practice is lawful under the following conditions:
a) If it only involves a married couple
b) During the marriage life.
c) Sufficient & meticulous care is taken to avoid lineage confusion
d) The practice is unlawful if it involves an alien party, whether in the form of semen, an ovum, an embryo or a womb.
Q:2) If a woman is ovulating but does not have uterus, could she inseminate and incubate this fertilized ovum in the uterus of another women?
A: According to Islamic Sharea, it is not lawful.
Q:3) If the above happened, who is the real mother?
A: This fetus has two mothers. One is the owner of the ova and the other one is the surrogate. According to Islam, the surrogate is the lawful mother. The Quran says: "If any men among you divorce their wives by Zihar (calling them mother), they cannot be their mothers: None can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words (both) iniquitous and false: but truly God is One that blots out (sins), and forgives (Again and again)". --(Al-Mujadila:2)
"And we have enjoined on man (To be good) to his parents: In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to me is (thy final) goal". (Luqman: 14)
Q:4) Is the Surgical Contraception (Sterilization) either on individual basis or on mass level lawful?
A: It is agreed that surgical contraception is lawful on the individual level in cases of necessity as determined by a trustworthy Muslim Doctor and when other alternatives have been exhausted. On the level of the Muslim Nation at large it is unlawful and the scholars denounce turning sterilization into a general campaign and warns against its exploitation in demographic wars that aim at turning Muslims into minorities in their own countries or in the world as a whole.
Q:5) Is Abortion lawful? What is its condition from the Islamic point of view?
A: The Muslim Jurists and earlier Fiqh Scholars unanimously forbid abortion. Going over the views expressed by earlier fiqh scholars, with the keen insight and sound judgment they demonstrate, and noting that they unanimously forbid abortion after the breathing in of spirit,i.e. after the first four months of pregnancy, and that they differ over abortion before spirit is breathed in, with some opting for categorical prohibition or considering it reprehensible, and other prohibiting it after the first forty days and allowing it before that, with some difference over the necessity for justifying reasons; and benefiting from a review of contemporary medical and scientific advances as established in papers and by modern medical technology; the seminar concludes that an embryo is a living organism from the moment of conception, and its life is to be respected in all its stages, especially after spirit is breathed in. Aggression against it, in the form of abortion, is unlawful except in cases of maximum necessity. Some participants, however disagreed and believe abortion before the fortieth day, particularly when there is justification, is lawful.
Q:6) I am a lady. I feel shy whenever I visit any male Medical Doctor. Could you tell me, whether the medical examination by the other sex is lawful from the Islamic point of view?
A: It is lawful for a medical member of one sex to look at the awra ( a prohibited part of body to opposite sex, except face and hands) of a member of the other sex for purposes of medical examination, treatment, and medical education. Exposition, however, should be limited to what the need calls for.
Q:7) What is the individual or national opinion on Fetal Sex Selection from the Islamic point of view?
A: There was an agreement from the Islamic legal viewpoint is that fetal sex selection is unlawful when it is practiced at a national level, while on an individual basis, some of the scholars participating in the seminar on " Human Reproduction in Islam " believe that there is nothing legally wrong with the attempt to fulfill the wish of a married couple to have a boy or a girl through available medical means, while other scholars believe that it is unlawful for fear that one sex might outnumber the other.
Q: 8) What is the Islamic view on mixed Human Milk Banks?
A: The setting up of banks of mixed human milk is to be discouraged. If medical need calls for them, banks of human milk may be set up for premature babies. A group of participants believe, on the basis of the opinion of the majority fiqh scholars, that the collection of milk should be done in a way that guarantees the identification of each donor and each baby receiver. The nursing should be written down in records that are kept, and everyone involved should be notified to avoid the marriage of persons who have a milk relationship entailing the prohibition of their marriage.
Others, however, believe that there is no need to identify the donors and receivers, on the basis of the opinion of Al-Laith Ibn Sa'd who opine that milk relationships occurs only when a baby sucks the breast of a milk mother.
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