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ISNA Eid Announcement 2011 / 1432 AH

Eid Greetings

Eid Greetings

ISNA’s Eid Announcement:

Fiqh Council of North America Announces 2011 Ramadan and Eid Dates

The Fiqh Council of North America Announces Clarifications on Eid
Eidul Fitr on Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Doubts have been raised by some about the decision of the Fiqh Council of North America and the European Council of Fatwa and Research about the date of Eidul Fitr this year on August 30, 2011. Following are some clarifications from the Fiqh Council of North America.

  1. The Fiqh Council of North America recognizes astronomical calculation as an acceptable Shar’i method for determining the beginning of Lunar months including the months of Ramadan and Shawwal. FCNA uses Makkah al-Mukarram as a conventional point and takes the position that the conjunction must take place before sunset in Makkah and moon must set after sunset in Makkah.
  2. The Astronomical New Moon is on August 29, 2011 (Monday) at 3:04 Universal Time (6:04 a.m. Makkah time). On Monday, August 29, sunset at Makkah is 6:40 p.m. local time, while moonset is at 6:44 pm local time.
  3. It is claimed that the new moon will not be visible on August 29 anywhere in the world. This information is not correct.
  4. In United States the birth of Astronomical new moon is on August 28, 2011 (Sunday) at 11:04 p.m. (New York), at 8:04 p.m. (California) and 5:04 p.m. (Hawaii).
  5. On Monday, August 29, the Crescent will set 13 minutes after sunset in San Diego, California and 28 minutes after sunset in Honolulu, Hawaii.
  6. On Monday, August 29 the Crescent should be visible in Hawaii by binoculars and telescope and in South America by naked eye.

The Shawwal Crescent of Monday, August 29 is acceptable according to Shari’ah for those who recognize the Global sighting as it is also acceptable according to the criteria adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America.

Eidul Fitr is on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. Eid Mubarak and best wishes for a blessed Eid with peace and harmony among all.

For more detailed information, please visit: www.fiqhcouncil.org or www.moonsighting.com

*****

Eid Mubarak to all our faithful readers, first time visitors, brothers and sisters, and friends.

The last year has been a time of growth for me, and for Zawaj.com. Most importantly, I thank God that I am alive to see another sunrise, to see my daughter laugh and learn, to enjoy all the blessings that God has given me, and to have another day to ask God’s forgiveness, pray, work, and think. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim, a better father, and a better human being.

On this day of celebration and commemoration of the sacrifices of Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail (may Allah be pleased with them all), may Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, tyranny with freedom, and fill our hearts with the hope and tawakkul (trust in Allah) that is sorely needed by our Ummah.

- Wael Abdelgawad

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End of an Era, and a New Beginning

Wael eating a popsicle in 1998

Wael eating a popsicle in 1998

I registered the Zawaj.com domain name twelve years ago, in 1998, right around the time that you see me sitting there eating a Popsicle in the photo, ha ha. The name “Zawaj.com” was unregistered up to that point, and since then has never belonged to anyone but me.

There were only one or two other Muslim matrimonial and Arab matrimonial services in existence at that time. One was Zafaf.com, which shut down some years later, and the other was Muslim Matrimonial Link, which still exists but looks and functions exactly as it did back in the 90′s, down to the dated backgrounds and hyperlinked list of ads.

At the time, I never expected that Zawaj.com would grow the way it has. It was a hobby. I remember that in the beginning, the matchmaking database consisted of simple HTML pages, and I used to hand-code a new HTML page for each new profile. The service was free back then.  I changed it to a paid service in 2002 or so, and then a few years later I changed it back to a free service again. Not “free trial” free, or partially free, but completely, 100% free, with revenue generated by advertisements rather than membership fees.

I liked the idea of offering something for free that everyone else charges money for. I liked the fact that Zawaj.com attracted thousands of people who could not afford a membership fee, including people from North Africa, Egypt, Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia and other nations all over the world.

But the world runs on certain realities, and one of them is that money makes the wheels turn, or at least makes them turn more smoothly. Over time the Zawaj.com programming grew obsolete and buggy, and I did not have the funds to rebuild it. In the meantime the internet witnessed the rise of the huge corporate-run matrimonial websites like Shaadi.com and Qiran.com. These sites work by virtue of sheer size, but in my opinion they lack a personal touch. You get lost without a rudder in a sea of profiles.

You may notice that I have not shied away from mentioning the names of my competitors in this post. That’s because I’m confident that Zawaj.com is now as good as – or better than – anyone of them.

Today marks the end of an era for Zawaj.com and the beginning of a new one. We say goodbye to our years-old program and simple HTML home page, and we introduce a new look, a new content management system, and a new matrimonial database. The new database is easy and fun to use, and you will find it brimming with intelligent, attractive, successful men and women ma-sha-Allah.

Meanwhile we continue the tradition of offering the internet’s best articles and features about Muslim and Arab weddings, marriage advice, family relationships, and much more. Please note that you can find links to our old Zawaj.com website and content on the right side of the page. With literally thousands of pages of unique content, we are much more than a Muslim matrimonial service. And now you can comment on the articles, share them, and even write your own if you wish.

As a way of illustrating the uniqueness of Zawaj.com, in the early years I came across many small websites where people had documented the Muslim wedding customs of certain cultures, complete with detailed descriptions and photos. I sometimes used to reprint those on Zawaj.com with the writer’s permission. Since then many of those websites have shut down, and now Zawaj.com is the only place you will find those unique articles about things like the wedding customs of Muslim Bulgarians, or a photo essay of a Somali wedding, or an insightful article about the role of women in Islam, written by someone who has since disappeared from the scene.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of Zawaj.com’s loyal readers, members and partners over the years. I am confident that this change will benefit everyone – especially you – and I thank Allah for opening the door to this new and exciting road.

Wael Abdelgawad
Zawaj.com Founder and President

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Eid Announcement and Eid Wishes

Eid Mubarak from Wael and Zawaj.com

Eid Mubarak from Wael and Zawaj.com

For the 2011 Eid Announcement, see: ISNA Eid Announcement 2011

ISNA’s Eid Announcement:

“Hajj (Day of ‘Arafah) will be on Thursday, November 26 and Eid al-Adha will be on Friday, November 27, insha’Allah.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Majlis Ash-Shura, the highest policy making body of ISNA, has resolved to follow the position of the Fiqh Council of North America on the issue of determining the beginning of the Islamic lunar months for North America.

After much careful study and consideration, the Fiqh Council has reached the conclusion that Eid al-Adha will follow the Day of ‘Arafah as announced in Makkah. This is also the conclusion of the European Council of Fatwa and Research.

The Fiqh Council does not, and does not intend to, force its decision on anyone or on any Muslim community. People should follow the decision of their Imam and their Masjid. Moreover, people should do so with great respect and avoiding unnecessary disputes and arguments.”

Eid Mubarak to all our faithful readers, first time visitors, brothers and sisters, and friends.

The last year has been difficult for me personally. But I thank Allah that I am alive to see another sunrise, to see my daughter laugh and learn, to enjoy all the blessings that Allah has given me, and to have another day to ask Allah’s forgiveness, pray, work, and think. Another day to strive to be a better Muslim, a better father, and a better human being.

On this day of celebration and commemoration of the sacrifices of Ibrahim, Hajar and Ismail (may Allah be pleased with them all), may Allah ease the hearts of all who are suffering, replace pain with comfort and joy, sickness with health, oppression with liberation, tyranny with freedom, and fill our hearts with the hope and tawakkul (trust in Allah) that is sorely needed by our Ummah.

- Wael Abdelgawad

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Welcome to the new and improved Zawaj.com

A Muslim couple in the Philippines wait for the start of a mass wedding for both Muslim and Catholic couples. Photo by Luis Liwanag of pitikbulagdokyu.blogspot.com/

A Muslim couple in the Philippines wait for the start of a mass wedding for both Muslim and Catholic couples. Photo by Luis Liwanag of pitikbulagdokyu.blogspot.com/

As-salamu alaykum dear readers and members, and Ramadan Mubarak :-)

As you can see, Zawaj.com has been completely redesigned. We have added some exciting new features, and we are in the process of rebuilding the matchmaking section as well.  And how do you like this spiffy new logo at the top, eh? :-)

The articles and features from the old Zawaj.com website have not yet been imported into the new format, but they are still available for viewing, not to worry, and we will include links to all the old content.

As you may have known, the old matchmaking program was out of date and had a lot of bugs. I had been wanting for years to rebuild the program but I lacked the funds. Alhamdulillah, I now have a partner who has helped me to make the necessary upgrades. The new matchmaking section is a HUGE improvement in my opinion. It’s much easier to use. Of course you are the ultimate judge of that, but I’m confident you’ll find that in design and function it is as good as any other personals or matchmaking site on the web.

All of the old membership information will be deleted, so if you were previously a free member you will have to re-register. The basic service will still be free, so it will still be free to create a profile, view profiles, receive messages, and send short messages to other members, but to send a longer response you will have to upgrade to platinum membership, which is a paid membership.

It was truly my heart’s desire to continue offering a totally free matrimonial service. But what is the use of offering a free service if it is substandard? The reality is that in order to bring you a better and upgraded website, I must charge a membership fee.

I always had the philosophy with Zawaj.com that if I strive to provide people with a quality service – one that improves their lives in some way, helps them and touches their spirits – then the money would take care of itself. With this big step for Zawaj.com, I feel that my faith has been vindictated and that that you – the readers and users of the service – have been rewarded for your patience.

Jazakum Allah khayr for your sabr and your loyalty to Zawaj.com. Your commitment to this website and your support over the years means a lot to me. Ramadan Mubarak to you, and may Allah make the coming year one of renewed faith, ease from hardship, Muslim unity, success and health, for all of us.

- Wael Hesham Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com founder

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Recommended Ramadan Reading

Ramadan Mubarak! Here is some recommended Islamic reading for Ramadan or anytime.

Ramadan Mubarak! Here is some recommended Islamic reading for Ramadan or anytime.

This new version of Zawaj.com is still in development phase and is actually not “open” to the public yet – that’s why the matrimonial search form on the home page doesn’t function yet. We will formally introduce it within a week or so Insha’Allah. I’m thinking of Friday, August 28th as the likely target date.

But the site has already been indexed by the search engines and some of you are finding your way here, so so I thought I would give you folks something productive to do with your time, ha ha.

Here are some excellent books that I consider essential Islamic reading. Any one of them would be great to read a little from every evening after Iftar, or to give as a gift. All are available through the link below:

IslamicBookstore.com

1. An Interpretation of the Qur’an : English Translation of the Meanings : A Bilingual Edition (Majid Fakhry) – I have this and I read it often. It’s an excellent, modern and scholarly translation. If you’re still reading Yusuf Ali’s poetic but archaic translation, it’s time to check out something different.

2. The Qur’an : A New Translation (Dr. Thomas Cleary) – I would have listed this first except that it’s in English only. The language is modern and clear, yet retains some of the powerful poetry of the Arabic. I highly recommend it.

3. Muhammad : His Life Based on the Earliest Sources : Revised Edition : Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din) – All-time best-selling book on the life of the Prophet (pbuh), now the latest revised edition. You may have read some of the briefer Seerahs (biographies of the Prophet Muhammad) such as The Sealed Nectar of The Life of the Prophet Muhammad, but you have not experienced the breadth and depth of Muhammad’s (pbuh) struggle and indomitable character until you have read this book.

4. Forty Hadith, and Forty Hadith Qudsi – these are brief but fundamental. Read one or two each night and discuss them.

5. Ramadan: Motivating Believers to Action – Ramadan is not just a month of fasting, but a month of spiritual healing. Presented from an interfaith perspective as a means to motivate believers to action, the articles by such famous writers as Muhammad al-Ghazzali, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Gilani, Imam Jawziyya, Ibn Sirin, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Maulana Mawdudi and Laleh Bakhtiar include essays on both the Law and the Way.

6. Purification of the Heart : Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart – Translation and Commentary of Imam al-Mawlud’s Matharat al-Qulub (Shaykh Hamza Yusuf).

7. The Fundamentals of Tawheed (Islamic Monotheism) Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips – A Muslim should be familiar with the basics of Tawheed, which is the fundemental principle of Islam. This book presents a detailed explanation of the classical Islamic concept of God’s unity as it relates to faith and acts of religious devotion.

Well, as you can see my preference is for more scholarly works, but you can find all kinds of good stuff at IslamicBookstore.com, including children’s books, movies and CDs, and toys. I have been shopping with them for several years now and I’ve always been satisfied.

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Wael Abdelgawad, Founder of Zawaj.com

Wael Abdelgawad is the founder, owner, designer, editor, and administrator of Zawaj.com Muslim matrimonial service.

Wael was born and raised in California, USA. He has also lived in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Panama, and has visited many other nations around the world.

Wael’s parents, who are of Egyptian origin, are highly respected scientists who taught him the importance of scholarship. All through his childhood he read voraciously. When not reading, he played table tennis and chess, boxed and did martial arts, and consumed Mars bars and Pepsis. He began studying Islam at the age of fifteen. He was a counselor at the Muslim Youth Camp at the age of seventeen, served on the Shura Council of Masjid Fresno at nineteen, and was later active in Muslim communities in Arizona, Texas and California. He attended California State University at Fresno, and he has taught Islamic Studies in several Muslim communities.

Wael later studied web design and webmastering with the Software Training Group in San Francisco. He is now a web developer and “domainer” by trade and is the editor of this website and the founder of many other specialized websites and blogs. He is also a writer, poet, and a student of the martial arts of Hapkido, Jujitsu and Kenpo.

Wael is divorced and lives in Fresno, California. He has a beautiful young daughter, ma-sha’Allah. Her name is Salma and she was born in July 2006.

Wael likes marble fudge ice cream, science fiction novels, good Islamic books, windup toys and playing chess; he never goes out without his iPod; he can bench press 300 lbs, and once held his breath for two minutes underwater.

Wael’s most valued personal projects are:

1. AbolishTorture.com, a blog against torture, and the home page of Muslims Against Torture and Political Imprisonment Everywhere. This cause is very important and Wael hopes to establish it as a non-profit organization and to help mobilize Muslims in the worldwide campaign against torture, both in the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

2. IslamicSunrays.com, a blog in which Wael expresses his personal philosophy of Islam as a religion of hope and inspiration.

In Wael’s Own Words:

I am a young 45 and simultaneously old as a mountain, or so it feels at times. Trying to change the world & better myself every day. My joys are my daughter Salma, poetry, martial arts, & my faith of Islam. Oh, and banana splits!

I’ve lived in five different nations and visited many more. I speak three languages, two of them poorly I admit. I guess I’ve had about 30 jobs in my lifetime, but I seem to have found my calling with web design and writing. I care about human rights, disaster relief, environmental issues, hunger and poverty, Palestine / Chechnya / East Turkestan and others. I believe in taking personal responsibility for our lives and problems. I’ve seen some of the worst that people have to offer, but I still believe in the goodness of the human heart. I am strong in many ways, unstoppable even… but I’m afraid of heights. I climbed La India Dormida twice and berated myself for it each time, especially the second time!

I love El Valle de Anton, Panama, San Francisco, and Madinat al-Munawwarah. I once powerlifted 500 pounds in a squat. I teach two martial arts and study two others. I have a love/hate relationship with chess. The best birthday gift I ever got was an iPod. People seem to either love me, or actively dislike me. I’ve been told I look like Jamal from House Party 2, a dance instructor, or the guy who owns the mini-mart on Olive Avenue.

My daughter Salma is my joy and pride ma-sha-Allah. I never understood pure, unconditional love until I had a child.

- Wael

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