Archive for October, 2011

The Concept of Worship in Islam

Posted in All 'Bout Islam, Unique with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by rizkymygift

The concept of worship in Islam is misunderstood by many people including some Muslims. Worship is commonly taken to mean performing ritualistic acts such as prayers, fasting, charity, etc. This limited understanding of worship is only one part of the meaning of worship in Islam.

The traditional definition of worship in Islam is a comprehensive definition that includes almost everything in any individual’s activities.

The definition goes something like this: “Worship is an all inclusive term for all that God loves of external and internal sayings and actions of a person.” In other words, worship is everything one says or does for the pleasure of Allah. This of course, includes rituals as well as beliefs, social activities, and personal contributions to the welfare of society.

Islam looks at the individual as a whole. One is required to submit oneself completely to Allah, as the Qur’an instructed the Prophet Muhammad (p)1 to do: Say: “Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds. No partner hath He: this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who bow to His will.” [Al-Qur’an 6:162-163]

The natural result of this submission is that all one’s activities should conform to the instructions of the One God to whom the person is submitting. Islam being a complete way of life requires that its followers model every aspect of their life according to its teaching, religious or otherwise. This might sound strange to some people who think of religion as a personal relation between the individual and God, having no impact on one’s daily activities.

As a matter of fact, Islam does not think much of mere rituals when they are performed mechanically and have no influence on one’s inner self.

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and give Zakat, (obligatory annual charity), to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” [Al-Qur’an (2:177]

The deeds in the above verse are the deeds of righteousness and they are only a part of worship. The Prophet told us about faith, which is the basis of worship, that it “is made up of sixty and some branches: the highest of which is the belief in the Oneness of Allah. (i.e., there is no God but Allah) and the lowest in the scale of worship is removing obstacles and dirt from people’s way.”

The Prophet said: “Whoever finds himself at the nightfall tired of his work, God will forgive his sins.” Seeking knowledge is one of the highest forms of worship. The Prophet said, “seeking knowledge is a (religious) duty on every Muslim.” In another saying he said: “Seeking knowledge for one hour is better than praying for seventy years.” Social courtesy and cooperation are a part of worship when done for the sake of Allah as the Prophet told us:

“Receiving your friend with a smile is a type of charity and putting some water in your neighbor’s bucket is a charity.”

It is worth noting that even performing one’s duties is considered an act of worship. The Prophet told us that whatever one spends for his family is a type of charity. Kindness to the members of one’s family is an act of worship as is putting a piece of food lovingly in the mouth of one’s spouse, as the Prophet informed us. Not only this, but even the acts that we enjoy, when performed according to Divine instructions are considered acts of worship.

Thus Islam does not consider the sexual urge as inherently dirty or sinful. It is dirty and sinful only when it is satisfied outside the marital union of man and wife. The Prophet told his companions that they would be rewarded even for having sexual intercourse with their wives. The companions were astonished and asked: “How are we going to be rewarded for doing something we enjoy very much?” The Prophet asked them: “suppose you satisfy your desires illegally, don’t you think that you would be punished for that?” They replied, “Yes.” So, he said: “by satisfying it legally with your wives you are rewarded for it.”

It is clear that the concept of worship in Islam is comprehensive. It includes all positive activities of the individual. This of course is in agreement with the all-inclusive nature of Islam as a way of life. It regulates the human life on all levels: the individual, the social, the economic, the political and the spiritual. All activities are considered by Allah as acts of worship, if done in conformance to His guidance. This should lead us to seek Allah’s pleasure in our actions and always try to do them in the best possible manner, whether we are being watched or we are alone. There is always the permanent supervisor, Who knows, hears and sees everything and that is Allah.

Discussing the non-ritual worship in Islam first does not mean under-evaluating the importance of the ritual ones. Actually ritual worships, if performed in true spirit, elevate the individual morally and spiritually and enable one to perform one’s activities in all walks of life according to the Guidance of God . Among ritual worships, Salah (prayer) occupies the key position for two reasons. Firstly, it is the distinctive mark of a believer. Secondly, it prevents an individual from all sorts of abominations and vices by providing him chances of direct communication with his Creator five times a day, wherein he renews his covenant with God and seeks His guidance again and again.

Salah (Shalat) is the first practical manifestation of Faith and also the foremost of the basic conditions for the success of the believers:“Successful indeed are the Believers, those who humble themselves in their prayers.” [Al-Qur’an 23:1-2] The Prophet (p) further emphasized:“Those who offer their salah with great care and punctuality, will find it a light, a proof of their faith and cause for their salvation on the Day of Judgment.”

After Salah, Zakah (obligatory annual charity) is an important pillar of Islam. In the Qur’an, Salah and Zakah have mostly been mentioned together. Like Salah, Zakah is a manifestation of faith that affirms that God is the sole owner of everything in the universe and what men hold is a trust in their hand that God expects them to discharge.

In this respect Zakah is an act of devotion that, like prayer, brings the believer nearer to his Lord. Apart from this, Zakah is a means of redistribution of wealth in a way that reduces differences between classes and groups. It makes a fair contribution to social stability. By purging the soul of the rich from selfishness, and the soul of the poor from envy and resentment against society. It closes down the channels leading to class hatred and makes it possible for the springs of brotherhood and solidarity to gush forth. Such stability is not merely based on the personal feelings of the rich: it stands on a firmly established right.

Siyam (fasting during the day time of the month of Ramadan) is another pillar of Islam. The main function of fasting is to make a Muslim pure from “within”. By such purity, one promotes what is good, and shuns what is evil. The glorious Qur’an confirms, “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” [Al-Qur’an 2:183]

In an authentic tradition, the Prophet reported Allah as saying, about the one who fasts: “He suspends eating, drinking, and gratification of his sexual passion for My sake.” Thus his reward is going to be according to God’s great bounty. Fasting awakens one’s conscience, and reminds an individual of the suffering of the less fortunate, and thus promotes a sense of sympathy and kindness to them.

Lastly, we come to Al-Hajj (pilgrimage to the House of God in Makka). This very important pillar of Islam manifests a unique unity, dispelling all kinds of differences. Muslims from all corners of the world, wearing the same dress, respond to the call of Hajj in one voice and language: Labbaik Alla humma Labbaik (Here I am at your service O Lord!). During Hajj there is a strict exercise of self-discipline, where not only sacred things are revered, but even the lives of plants and birds are made inviolable so that everything lives in safety:“Whoever honors the sacred Rites of Allah, for him it is good in the sight of his Lord…” [Al-Qur’an 22:30]

Pilgrimage gives an opportunity to all Muslims from all groups, classes, organizations, and governments from all over the Muslim world to meet annually in a great congress. The time and venue of this congress has been set by their one God. Invitation to attend is open to every Muslim. No one has the power to bar anyone. Every Muslim who attends is guaranteed full safety and freedom as long as he himself does not violate its safety.

Thus the concept of worship in Islam, encompasses every aspect of human life, and is central to the goal of freeing the individual as well as society, from the worship of created things to the worship of the Creator of all things. It is this concept of worship that humanity needs so desperately, and wherein lies the key to our collective salvation.

[Source : WAMY2 Series on Islam]

1 (p) here stands for “peace be upon him”
2 World Assembly of Muslim Youth

Check out whyislam.org for more Islamic Guidance and Articles

Tropical Fruits and Their Miraculous Benefits part 1

Posted in Healthy with tags , , , , , , , on October 18, 2011 by rizkymygift

I’m Indonesian and I’m proud of being Indonesian and one of its tropical fruits lovers. Indonesia is just like other tropical countries, having many kinds of fruits that can cover your necessity of  essential vitamins : C, B, A name it.

Here, I would like to let you know the most beneficial tropical fruits which also can keep you healthy…

1. Pomegranate

Though this Punica granatum L is native from Iran to the himalayas in northern India, but it is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia and considered as one of the most beneficial tropical fruit. In Indonesia, we usually call this as ‘Buah Delima’ or ‘Deep Red Fruit’ and consume it directly without extracting it in juicer.

This yellowish to reddish outer layer fruit has very high content of punicalagins, a potent anti-oxidant component found to be responsible for its superior health benefits. Researches indicate that the capacity of anti-oxidant in this fruit is two or three times higher than that of red wine and green tea.

The level of anti-oxidant in this fruit is even higher than those of other fruits known to have high-levels of anti-oxidant, including blueberries, cranberries and oranges.  This was attributed to the very high polyphenol content in the fruit. They are also a good source of vitamin B (riboflavin, thiamin and niacin), vitamin C, calcium and phosphorus.  These combination and other minerals in pomegranates cause a powerful synergy that prevents and reverses many diseases.

A study has shown that drinking pomegranate juice frequently is extremely beneficial in fighting the hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis).  It reduces the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol which contributes to artery clogging and hardening. Another study also positively proved that pomegranates contain a powerful agent against cancer, particularly prostate cancer. It also can be your healthy booster if you drink its juice regularly. It helps for Anemia, asthma, anal itch, Atherosclerosis, Bleeding Piles, Dysentery, Morning Sickness/nausea and Sore Throat.

Tip: Drinking pomegranate juice a day can help you to boost your immunity system, don’t forget to expel its seed unless you want to consume that as a good source of fiber 🙂

2. Mango

This lovely texture fruit, has been one of Indonesian most favourite fruit. Indonesia itself is one of the best exporter of mango — more specific mango (Kuweni mango). A good mango is usually considered one which has a small seed and has a delicate and smooth pulp. It is sweet but slightly acidic in taste.

Mangoes are one of the best sources of beta-carotene, quercetin and astragalin. These are powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells and lead to heart disease, cancer, premature aging and degenerative diseases.

One small mango provides a quarter of your recommended vitamin C, nearly two thirds of your daily quota for vitamin A, good amounts of vitamin E and fiber. They also contain vitamin K, phosphorus and magnesium. Mangoes are particularly rich in potassium which can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Mangoes also contain pectin, a soluble dietary fiber, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels. Recently, scientists at The Institute for Food Research, discovered that a fragment released from pectin binds to, and inhibits galectin 3, a protein that plays a role in all stages of cancer progression. Other population studies, including the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer, have identified a strong link between eating lots of fiber and a lower risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.

Mangoes are rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 boosts immunity, especially in the elderly, reduces the risk of kidney stones in women and cardiovascular disease, and also improves brain functioning. Vitamin B6 may also help alleviate the symptoms of PMS. Other cases where Mango is beneficial : fever, respiratory problems, and also constipation.

Tip: Pick ripe mango, slice and eat it fresh. Or you may add it to your favourite salad. Mango juice is also good as summer thirst-quencher. Make it as smoothies will be amazing too 🙂

3. Mangosteen

The mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana L. ) is a tropical evergreen tree, believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, the Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. 2-3 inch tropical fruit with juicy flesh suggestive of both peaches and pineapples.”

This mild acidic fruit is rich in vitamin C; provides about 12% of per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water soluble anti-oxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against flu-like infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Fresh fruit of Mangosteen is a very good source of B-complex vitamins such as thiamin, niacin and folates. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Mangosteen also contains a very good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese and magnesium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure; thus offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.

Tip: Fresh mangosteens are wonderfully delicious. Enjoy this exotic juicy fruit all alone without any additions. Mangosteen juice is very tasty thirst quenching cool drink for summer.

4. Papaya

Ya, papaya is one of Indonesian favourite fruit. We usually consume it after meal. For sure, Papayas are shaped like elongated melons or pears.  The flesh is deliciously sweet with a musky undertone, and its texture has a soft melting quality.  Ripe papaya flesh is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. Papaya is a proteolytic enzyme called papain which is an excellent aid to digestion.  This enzyme is so powerful that it is said to digest an amazing 200 times its own weight in protein.  It assists our body’s own enzymes in assimilating the maximum nutritional value from the food we eat.

It is a rich source of anti-oxidant nutrients such as beta-carotene (which is what gives it the orange color; green papaya does not contain this carotene), vitamin A and C and flavonoids, B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid. It also contains small amounts of of the minerals calcium, chlorine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and sodium.

The papaya has remarkable medicinal virtues recognized from ancient times.  It is not a commonly allergenic food.  Being one of the most easily digested fruits, it is an excellent wholesome food for young to old, a rejuvenating choice. It also can help us for some common ailments such as for inflammatory disease (arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma), colon cancer (prevention), intestinal disorder, heart disease (protection), menstrual irregularities, skin disease (as in acne and psoriasis), spleen enlargement (to normalize the spleen), and also for throat disorders.

Tip: Choose papayas that have reddish-orange skin if you want to eat them within the day of purchase.  Avoid fruit that is bruised or has patches of deep orange color which indicates that it is over-ripe. A papaya can be eaten as it is, with its skin cut. Cut the papaya length-wise, and then into smaller pieces and add them to your favourite salad. Or finally, you may blend it with other fruits like strawberry or yogurt to make a smoothie. Enjoy!

5. Tamarind

Tamarind or ‘Asam Jawa’ is one of the most beneficial fruit in eastern medicine especially in Indonesia. We’d like eating it fresh from the pod or making its juice. Tamarind is encased within a brown pod. Inside the pod of tamarind is a soft, brown pulp with hard-coated black seeds. It is this pulp that people eat to get all the nutritional and health benefits of tamarind. The pulp of tamarind has a very sour taste while it is young, but as it ripens the pulp gets sweeter. Though the pulp will sweeten with age, tamarind generally has a sour, acidic taste.

Tamarind is a good source of antioxidants that fight against cancer. Tamarind contains carotenes, vitamin C, flavanoids and the B-vitamins. Tamarind protects against vitamin C deficiency and reduces fevers and provides protection against colds. Tamarind also helps the body digest food and is usually used to treat bile disorders. Tamarind is widely known to lower cholesterol, promotes a healthy heart and can be gargled to ease sore throat.

Tip: Drink a cup of Tamarind juice to prevent your body from cold. Or you can make an infusion by taking one ounce of pulp, pour one quart of boiling water over this and allow to steep for one hour. Strain and drink tepid with little honey to sweeten. This will bring down temperature by several degrees.

6. Pineapple

Pineapple ( Ananas Comosus) is tropical or near tropical plant which is said to be native of southern Brazil and Paraguay. This oval to cylindrical – shaped in which many small fruits fused together is very juicy and also fleshy. Its juiciness balances the flavor of sweet and sour, brings the real freshness. In Indonesia we call this yellowish fruit as Nenas/Nanas, and we do make various products such as jam and chips. Well, the benefits of consuming this fruits are quite many for example, as quoted from WHFood, this fruit might have potential strength of Anti-Inflammatory, Immune Support and also digestive benefits. The benefits might come from Bromelain, Vitamic C, Vitamin B1, those are found dominantly in Pineapple.

Bromelain is a complex mixture of substances that can be extracted from the stem and core fruit of the pineapple. Among dozens of components known to exist in this crude extract, the best studied components are a group of protein-digesting enzymes (called cysteine proteinases). Originally, researchers believed that these enzymes provided the key health benefits found in bromelain, a popular dietary supplement containing these pineapple extracts. In addition, researchers believed that these benefits were primarily limited to help with digestion in the intestinal tract. However, further studies have shown that bromelain has a wide variety of health benefits, and that many of these benefits may not be related to the different enzymes found in this extract. Excessive inflammation, excessive coagulation of the blood, and certain types of tumor growth may all be reduced by therapeutic doses of bromelain when taken as a dietary supplement.

Pineapple is also an excellent source the trace mineral manganese, which is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. For example, the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells), requires manganese. Just one cup of fresh pineapple supplies 128.0% of the DV for this very important trace mineral. In addition to manganese, pineapple is a good source of thiamin, a B vitamin that acts as a cofactor in enzymatic reactions central to energy production.

Tip: For everyday consumption its is very important to choose a fully ripened pineapple since this fruit is the one that stops ripening once it’s picked. Simply peel the skin, remove its eye, cut into several pieces that you want then right before you enjoy it, you’d better sprinkle a pinch of salt on it in order to prevent itching in your tongue (most common problem that’s found).

You can also start to mix pineapple into your favorite salad. Try to combine diced pineapple with chopped shrimp, grated with ginger and a little olive oil, taste and serve this fragrant shrimp salad on a bed of Romaine lettuce. Enjoy 🙂

Coping with Your Acne : Are Natural Supplements Effective?

Posted in Healthy with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2011 by rizkymygift

The most common problem of human’s skin is definitely Acne. It is very often to see people with acne these days turn to complementary or alternative treatments. Those may include gels, creams, and lotions; dietary supplements and herbs; and special dietary routines.

courtesy : internet

Many people are interested by alternative acne treatments but ironically the American Academy of Dermatology warns that “all-natural supplements” have not been shown to be effective, and some may even be harmful. For example, the group cites an over-the-counter (OTC) acne supplement that contained more than 200 times the amount of selenium stated on the label. It caused a wide range of toxic reactions. The American Academy of Dermatology also states that there is no evidence that any dietary regimen has an effect on acne.

Alternative acne treatments haven’t been well-studied. Therefore, sources such as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database typically offer only tepid recommendations. For instance, oral zinc supplements are rated as only “possibly effective.” The same is true for topical preparations that contain zinc and erythromycin. Until there is better research, it’s impossible to say which alternative acne treatments work and which ones don’t.

The Rationale for Alternative Acne Treatments

Conventional acne treatments don’t always work for some people. They can also cause side effects ranging from skin irritation to birth defects. Another concern, since antibiotics are used in so many conventional acne treatments, is antibiotic resistance. A study in the U.K. reported that more than one out of every two acne patients treated with antibiotics carried resistant strains of two different bacteria often found on the skin.

Proponents of alternative treatments point out that acne is unknown in so-called “Stone Age” societies. On the other hand, it affects up to 95% of adolescents in industrialized societies. This suggests, they say, that a Western diet may be a major factor in the development of acne.

Hundreds of alternative treatments for acne are promoted on the Internet and elsewhere as being safe and effective. Alternative treatments, though, do not need to be tested and shown to be safe before they are sold online or placed on store shelves in the U.S. So be sure to discuss the pros and cons of any alternative remedy with your doctor or dermatologist before starting treatment.

Research is not conclusive, but some preliminary studies suggest that the following alternative acne treatments might offer some benefits.

Manuka Honey

Active Manuka Honey

Manuka honey comes from New Zealand where the manuka bush is indigenous. So-called “active” Manuka honey is widely promoted on the Internet as an acne remedy. The claim is mostly based on studies that suggest it has significant antibacterial and wound-healing properties. In one site “active” Manuka honey has been said as the only honey that have further anti-bacterial activity which is derived from Non Peroxide Activity (NPA). It is said to be more stable and is not affected by light and/or moderate heat. The conclusion is “active” Manuka honey may actively promote healing.

Furthermore they stated that in one study, researchers observed that honey-impregnated wound dressings have gained increasing acceptance in hospitals and clinics worldwide. But they also pointed out it’s unclear how they work. So they investigated the ability of three different types of honey to quench the production of free radicals. In their report, they stated that manuka honey was the most effective.

On the Internet, patient testimonials about manuka honey’s effects on acne range from glowing to dismissive. To date, however, there have been no definitive studies to prove or disprove the effectiveness of manuka honey.

Verdict : It’s still unclear whether it’s effective or not!

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil

You may have heard about this one 🙂 Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of a small tree native to Australia. It has long been touted as a safe and effective alternative treatment for acne. In 1990, researchers studied 124 acne patients. Some were treated with 5% tea tree oil in a water-based gel. Others were treated with 5% benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient found in many OTC acne remedies.

This widely-cited study reported that tea tree oil did not work as quickly as benzoyl peroxide. But, the researchers said, its use resulted in a similar reduction in acne lesions after three months. They also reported a significantly lower incidence of side effects such as dryness, irritation, itching, and burning.

Topical treatment with tea tree oil is considered safe for most adults. It may, though, trigger an allergic skin reaction in some people. This is especially true if it has oxidized after exposure to air. Tea tree oil should never be taken orally. It can cause toxic reactions ranging from rash to coma.

Verdict : Though it’s proven to be less effective than Benzoyl peroxide but it’s still worth a try. It may reduce acne symptoms plus lower chance of making your skin dry and irritated.

Other Alternative Acne Treatments

Some practitioners of alternative and complementary medicine also recommend topical treatments containing tannins or fruit acids though these alternative acne treatments seems not yet proven.

Tannins 

Tannins have natural astringent properties. They can be gotten by boiling a mixture of 5 to 10 grams of extract of bark from such trees as witch hazel, white oak, or English walnut in one cup of water. Commercial preparations, though, are not recommended. The distillation process removes the tannins.

Fruit acids

Fruits acids here include citric, gluconic, gluconolactone, glycolic,malic, and tartaric acids. These have natural properties that help remove dead skin cells.

Meanwhile other practitioners recommend treatments which have been approved by the German Commission E. The German Commission E is a European agency that studies herbal remedies. These include oral acne treatments such as:

whole fruit vitex

  • Vitex, a whole-fruit extract for treating premenstrual acne. It’s thought to act on follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels in the pituitary. It’s said to increase progesterone levels and reduce estrogen levels. Vitex should not be taken by pregnant or nursing women.
  • Brewer’s yeast, which has antimicrobial effects
  • Topical bittersweet nightshade, which also has antimicrobial effects.
Now, what do you say? Since every single human in this world is different from the others, we can hardly say that the effectiveness of those treatments are just the same to every people. Mom reminds me when it comes to the cure you want to try, you need to have some faith so that your body and soul can react actively positive. Be blessed 🙂