Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hijama Holistic Health Care

by Shireen Hakim
Muslims strive to follow the Sunnah, by living and following many of the actions and examples of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ (Peace Be Upon Him). We get closer to God by following his actions, such as smiling and donating to charity. What about following the Prophet’s eating habits? We also strive to eat like him, such as cooking with olive oil and enjoying pomegranates from our trees. We know that if he ate something it must have been beneficial.
However, one of his dietary habits is very significant for our health, but is mostly overlooked today. According to the Hadith literature (sayings and characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad), the Prophet ﷺ ate meat very rarely, and when he did it was mostly on special occasions or as a guest. His habitual diet actually consisted of favorite foods like dates, water, vinegar, honey, yogurt, barley bread, and grapes. Meat was available only occasionally, and when it was he favored sheep’s shoulder/foreleg. The Prophet ﷺ never ate his fill of bread and meat. As a guest he was once served gourd (pumpkin) and meat stew, and picked out the gourd to eat. The Prophet ﷺ and companions looked forward to Fridays, because a local woman served them a meatless meal with a meat substitute. Early Muslims continued the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ habit of rarely indulging in meat.
As the second Caliph (ruler), Umar ibn al Khattaab notably stated: “beware of meat, for it is addictive like alcohol.”
He once chastised his son for giving in to his craving and buying meat. Umar is a strong example for us as well, since the Prophet ﷺ said, “If there were a prophet after me, it would be Umar.” So in fact, eating little meat is the Prophetic Sunnah and follows early Islamic tradition.
early 20th century photo of the Prophet Muhammad’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
Nowadays, our meat eating habits severely contradict the Prophet’s ﷺ, Umar’s, and early Muslim society. There is a reason they ate meat occasionally: it is harmful when eaten regularly. Regular meat intake coincides with increased disease: heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Meat is a beneficial and permissible food, and we are blessed to have it available to us. However, we must realize that we are over consuming it, and reduce our consumption.

How did we come to think that eating meat daily is normal?

Our current meat habits mirror the Western diet, which has itself been tainted by times of war and political interests. Interestingly, early Americans also ate meat rarely. Then during World Wars I and II, meat was rationed. When peace returned meat was available again, and people mistook this luxury item for a staple. Unfortunately, as meat became part of the regular diet, heart disease and cancer rates immediately increased. Americans’ health declined so much that in the 1970’s Congress made Dietary Goals stating we should cut down on meat intake. However, meat lobbyists fought to keep meat included in US’s Dietary Guidelines. These lobbyists continue to relentlessly advertise and market meat rich ideology in our schools and nutrition programs. Therefore, we still think we need to keep eating meat every day, and that it is okay to do so. The indulgent Western diet is spreading to Asian and Latin American countries, reinforcing its façade of a normal diet.
Unfortunately, a meat rich diet is directly linked to the top causes of death in the US- heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Very high percentages of the population have these diseases: heart disease 11%, cancer 8.5%, and obesity 33%. In contrast, Americans that eat meat occasionally are significantly healthier. Flexitarians (those that eat meat a few times a week/month), have lower rates of heart disease and cancer, weigh 15% less and live about 3.6 years longer. Vegetarians do not eat meat, and weigh about 17 pounds less, live about 5 years longer, and have about 30% less cancer risk. Many people eat beef burgers, chicken wings, and meat pizza daily, suffer from a heart attack or cancer, and then strictly change their diet. Take a proactive approach and start eating healthy now, before you get sick.

So what do we eat instead of meat?

There are many delicious meatless proteins, and easy steps to take to introduce them in the diet. These proteins are: nuts and nut butters, beans and lentils, fish, tofu, eggs, milk cheese and yogurt, kale, brown rice, and quinoa. Each day, eat 5–7 ounces, or 4–6 servings of these proteins. Serving examples include: 1 cup of organic milk (8 grams of protein), 1 cup Greek yogurt (11 grams), 1 cup black beans (16 grams), 1 tablespoon natural almond butter (4 grams), 1 ounce wild salmon (5 grams), ½ cup non-GMO tofu (20 grams), 1 cup brown rice (5 grams), 1 cup quinoa (8 grams), 1 cup kale (3 grams), and 1 cup broccoli (4 grams).
These proteins are more beneficial and nutrient- rich than meat: in addition to protein, iron, and vitamin B12, they also contain monounsaturated fats, omega- 3 fatty acids, and fiber. Studies show meatless proteins improve strength in soldiers, and are easier to digest. These foods lower disease and mortality risks. They also boost metabolism, aiding in weight loss. It’s recommended to eat meatless proteins most days of the week, and meat (chicken or lamb) on one or two days. Follow these steps to incorporate a mainly meatless diet:
  1. Join the popular Meatless Monday movement: go meatless on Mondays. (If you are fasting on Monday, have a meatless suhoor and iftar.)
  2. Incorporate favorite meatless dishes in your meals, and start eating them more often (like vegetable pizza, peanut butter sandwich, and bean and rice burrito.)
  3. Make one meal a day meatless, then increase the number. Keep going until a whole day is meatless.
  4. Stock your pantry and fridge with the proteins listed above so you always have options.
  5. Go to restaurants that serve meatless meals like Chipotle, CPK, and sushi and Mediterranean restaurants.
Eating meatless proteins also saves time, energy, and stress. Meatless proteins are readily available at more locations and are always halal, therefore there is a wider selection of restaurants and grocery stores to choose from. Meatless meals improve our health and adherence to the Sunnah. It does not make one a vegetarian, and you can still enjoy eating meat.
Shireen Hakim is the Author of Best- Seller ‘Meatless Protein Cookbook’. Shireen studied Nutrition at UCLA, Columbia, and Loma Linda University. Shireen’s cookbooks can be found on her author page at

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Power of Istighfar – Astaghfirullah (I seek forgiveness of Allah)

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People often forget the importance of the simple yet powerful dua (supplication) – Istighfar i.e., saying “Astaghfirullah” (I seek forgiveness of Allah). Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) recited this at least 100 times a day. Let us see the benefits and virtues of reciting this simple beautiful supplication insha Allah.
  • Istighfar (Astaghfirullah) is the gateway of relief and happiness. Whenever you are in distress start reciting it and Insha Allah it will take you out of your anxiety and will put you in a peaceful situation and will give you happiness.
  • Istighfar removes anxiety and duas are answered.
  • Istighfar opens the door of sustenance.
  • Istighfar opens the door of mercy.
  • Istighfar opens the door of knowledge.
  • Istighfar is also gateway of productivity.
  • Istighfar relieves you. When you feel that sadness within you, when you are disturbed and frustrated, when anxiety surrounds you, say “Astaghfirullah” “Astaghfirullah”…
  • Reciting Astaghfiruallah is an effective method of calming our self and wipes away the variety of worldly worries from our mind and body. It may also help us, if we are suffering from depression, it calm us and lessen our depression.
  • Astaghfirullah also helps us to refrain from all forms of sins. Regularly saying this reminds us that Allah is everywhere and in this way there is very small chances of doing wrongful actions.
  • Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
    “If anyone constantly seeks pardon (from Allah), Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide sustenance for him from where he expects not.” [Abu Dawud].
  • In another hadith, Abdullah bin Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:
    “The one who (regularly) says Istighfaar, that is, frequently repent to Allah Ta’aala for sins committed, Allah Azza Wa-Jal will open a path from poverty and difficulties. All sorrow and hardship will be removed, and in its place prosperity and contentment granted. One will receive sustenance from unimagined and unexpected sources.”
  • Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said in another Hadith:
    “The one who seeks forgiveness for Muslim males and females from Allah Ta’aala twenty six or twenty five times every day, Allah Ta’ala will count that person among those whose Du’a is accepted, and through the barakah of whom those on earth gain Rizq (sustenance).”
  • Do Tasbih of Astaghfaar at least 100 times daily as it is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
  • In one minute, you can say “Astaghfiru Allaah” more than 100 times! The virtue of seeking forgiveness is well-known, it is a reason of obtaining forgiveness, entering Paradise, having good provisions, increasing one’s strength, repelling harm, having affairs facilitated, the descent of rain, and increasing in wealth and children.
  • The doors of repentance are always open therefore don’t delay your repentance in a hope of tomorrow, as tomorrow is uncertain , Repent now and make it a habit to ask Allah’s forgiveness by reciting “Astaghfirullah”.
  • Say I believe in Allah’s mercy, I have sinned, I have gone astray, I have been negligent, but still I believe in Allah’s soothing mercy and forgiveness, I’ll not despair!


One of the 99 Names of Allah is Al-Ghaffaar (الْغَفَّارُ) – The Great Forgiver The Forgiver, the One who forgives the sins of His slaves time and time again. There are numerous verses in the Quran about the importance of asking for forgiveness of Allah SWT. Here are few of them:
And (commanding you): “Seek the forgiveness of your Lord, and turn to Him in repentance, that He may grant you good enjoyment, for a term appointed, and bestow His abounding Grace to every owner of grace (i.e. the one who helps and serves needy and deserving, physically and with his wealth, and even with good words). But if you turn away, then I fear for you the torment of a Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). [Hud 11:3]
Declare (O Muhammad SAW) unto My slaves, that truly, I am the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful. [Al-Hijr 15:49]
Then, verily! Your Lord for those who do evil (commit sins and are disobedient to Allâh) in ignorance and afterward repent and do righteous deeds, verily, your Lord thereafter, (to such) is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [An-Nahl 16:119]
Your Lord knows best what is in your inner-selves. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn unto Him again and again in obedience, and in repentance. [Al-Isra 17:25]
And verily, I am indeed Forgiving to him who repents, believes (in My Oneness, and associates none in worship with Me) and does righteous good deeds, and then remains constant in doing them, (till his death). [Ta-Ha 20:82]
And say (O Muhammad SAW): “My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the Best of those who show mercy!” [Al-Mumenoon 23:118]
Need more verses? Read the Quran! There are plenty of verses about the importance of seeking forgiveness. Some verses are addressing the previous Prophets and their people. But these are again addressing us since Allah SWT wants us to learn from the story of previous people – His acceptance of forgiveness from them and His severe punishments for the ignorant groups. So did you say “Astagfirullah” (I seek forgiveness of Allah) 100 times today? :)