Adoption is an Option

By Safaa Minhas

Orphans Mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah

The importance of being kind to orphans is expressed in the Quran as well as emphasized by our beloved Prophet (sa). Allah (swt) says: “Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masakeen (the poor) …Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.” (An-Nisa 4:36) This is a general command for all Muslims. The mere fact that this injunction is mentioned alongside the commands of worshipping Allah (swt) alone and being kind to parents shows the high status of being merciful to orphans.

Allah (swt) describes the one who gives charity to the orphans as having the quality of righteousness: “But Al-Birr [righteousness] is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans…” (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

The person, who in addition to being kind and charitable to an orphan takes it upon himself to take care of him, has been promised a great reward. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be like this in Paradise” – and he gestured with his index and middle fingers, holding them slightly apart. (Bukhari) From these Ayats and Ahadeeth we realize that the greater our effort, the greater our reward. You might wonder – does this Hadeeth include a person, who sponsors an orphan through Islamic organizations? Although the one providing monetary aid gets rewarded, the closeness promised with the Prophet (sa) in this Hadeeth is reserved for the one, who meets the definition of sponsoring in its fullest sense.

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “Sponsoring an orphan means taking care of his religious and worldly interests, teaching him and guiding him, etc., with regard to religious matters, and taking care of his food, drink, shelter and other worldly concerns.” This is surely not an easy task; therefore, this reward is for those who do it purely for the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Western definition of adoption

Adoption in the West is defined as a man taking an orphan and making him like one of his own children. This entails calling him after his own name and declaring him Mahram for all his children. In other words, the sons and daughters of the man are regarded as brothers and sisters of the orphan, the man’s sisters are regarded as paternal aunts and so on. In addition, an orphan is defined as a child, whose parents are dead.

Adoption in pre-Islamic times

The same concept of adoption existed also among the Arabs in pre-Islamic times for instance, it was permitted to call adopted sons after the man who adopted them. The Prophet (sa) freed a slave Zaid Ibn Harith (rta) and adopted him as his son, calling him Zaid Ibn Muhammad (rta). Afterwards, the following Ayahs were revealed: “…nor has He made your adopted sons your real sons… Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah…” (Al-Ahzaab 33:4-5) Thus, Allah (swt) commanded that the adopted sons should be given back the names of their fathers.

Islamic adoption

The Islamic definition of an orphan is: a child whose father is dead. A child, whose both parents are dead, falls under this definition as well. In other words, a child, whose father is dead regardless of whether his mother is alive or not, is referred to as an orphan. A woman is never responsible for providing materially for her children, and if she does so, it is considered an act of charity.

In Islam, adoption entails:

(a)    A man bringing an orphan into his house or sponsoring him somewhere other than his house, without naming him after himself.

(b)   Observing the rules of Mahramship between the child and the family.

(c)    The child may inherit from his real family but cannot inherit more than one third from the family that adopts him which comes in the category of charity.

Naming a child after his father

The following Ahadeeth emphasize the importance of naming a child after his father. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “Whoever claims knowingly to belong to someone other than his father will be denied Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim) He also said: “Whoever claims to belong to someone other than his father will be cursed by Allah, the angels and all the people, and Allah will not accept any deeds or excuses from him on the Day of Resurrection.”(Muslim)

Is it permissible to call a person ‘son’ or ‘father’ as a term of endearment? Calling someone ‘son’ is not what is prohibited. Ibn Abbas said: “We, young boys of Banu Abd Al-Muttalib, came to the Messenger of Allah at the Jamarat; he slapped us on the thigh and said: ‘Oh my sons, do not stone the Jamarat, until the sun has risen.’” (Ahmad) In reference to calling the adopting father as ‘father’ or ‘daddy’, Shaykh Abd Al-Azeez Ibn Baaz has issued a Fatwah (ruling) stating that this is allowed, because he is acting in the position of a father.

The existence of non-Mahram relationship

 Islam teaches us moderation in everything. We are only benefiting ourselves by obeying the rules and guidelines laid out for us. One of these guidelines deals with Mahramship.

A Mahram is a man that a woman is permanently not allowed to marry, such as her brother, father, paternal uncle, etc. She is allowed to display her beauty in front of him (within limits), travel with him and be in Khulwa (private seclusion) with him. Her husband is also her Mahram, but unlike the other Mahrams, she may display all of her beauty in front of him.

When a man brings an orphan into the household, and the child reaches adolescence, the rules that apply to non Mahrams apply to this child as well. Taking care of this child is an act of charity, and we should not let that lead to immorality. Therefore, the man should take care to abide by the guidelines of modesty, especially between the orphan and his own children. The women in the household (the man’s wife and daughters) must observe proper Hijab in front of this child, after he reaches adulthood, because he is not their Mahram. Likewise, it is not permissible for the women in the household to be in private seclusion with him or travel with him as their Mahram.

Inheritance

The child may inherit from his real family but cannot inherit from the family that adopts him. However, the adopting family does have another option, if they wish for him to inherit some of their wealth.

Sad Bin Abu Waqqas (rta) asked the Prophet (sa): “O Allah’s Apostle! May I will all my property (in charity)?” He said: “No.” I said: “Then may I will half of it?” He said: “No.” I said: “One third?” He said: “Yes, one third, yet even one third is too much.” ( ) From this Hadeeth we understand that a maximum of 1/3 of one’s wealth is allowed to be given in charity. So if someone were to give to the child from that charity, there is no harm in it.

Intellectual confusion

Why is there so much confusion among Muslims about adoption? Why do we hear that adoption is not allowed in Islam? Why are there so many orphans in the Muslim world but very few couples willing to adopt? This is largely due to the lack of understanding about the terminology involved.

When used commonly, the word ‘adoption’ refers to the western definition; therefore, it is true to say that ‘adoption is Haram in Islam.’ However, this refers only to the western way of adoption. If adoption takes place under the limitations set by Islam, it is encouraged and rewarded by Allah (swt).

Another misunderstanding is caused by the word ‘sponsor.’ Often this word is used to refer to the Islamically acceptable way of adoption. It is also used by organizations asking you to ‘sponsor a child’ by paying a certain amount every month. Therefore, instead of being understood as an Islamically acceptable adoption option, the word ‘sponsor’ is often presented just as ‘someone providing monetary help.’

Clearly, there are many misconceptions in the minds of the Muslims about adoption. In order to counter them, it is important that speakers, lecturers, websites and articles clearly define the term they are using before talking about this issue.

What happens to the orphans? Where do they go?

All over the world there are millions of tiny feet wandering along the streets with no destination and no place of refuge. Out of desperation and the need to survive, many orphan girls become prostitutes or dance for money just to be able to feed themselves. Some head from one place to another begging, while others resort to crime. Countless orphans are kidnapped and sold for doing labor in dreadful conditions. Orphanages are overcrowded and not able to meet the demands of all that need them. These uncared for souls need love and help of someone who can guide them.

It is a precarious situation out there for these children. It is an equally difficult trial for all well-placed Muslims. What will we have to say to Allah on the Day of Judgment when He asks us about the abundance of wealth, resources, and time we had but we never cared to share it with the displaced orphans? Isn’t it almost the same attitude that Allah has mentioned in the Quran? “Have you seen him who denies the Recompense? That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly)…” (Al-Maun – 107:1-2)

This chart shows the percentage of orphans in different Muslim countries in 2005.

 

 

2005
Country Muslim (%) No. of Children (0-14) 1000s Orphans (%) Total No. of orphans (1000s) Lost Father (1000s) Lost both parents

(1000s)

Djibouti 94 287 11.8 34 16 2
Gambia 90 580 8.3 48 28 4
Mali 90 6,089 10.8 656 367 53
Niger 80 6,522 9.7 631 364 55
Nigeria 50 57,125 10.8 6,150 2,814 327
Sudan 70 13,637 9.4 1,287 733 79
Bangladesh 83 55,923 7.1 3,974 2,379 123
Indonesia 88 63,868 6.3 4,029 2,826 229
Iran 98 24,121 5.2 1,256 854 49
Pakistan 97 65,417 7.4 4,861 3,076 283

 

Child, don’t play outside the house, it’s dangerous!

Vol 4- Issue 4 Child Don't play outsideThere are an estimated 70,000 children on the streets of Pakistan. ‘Madadgar helpline’ reports approximately 15,000 of them between the ages of seven and fifteen that roam the alleys of Karachi alone. Research conducted by private NGOs indicates that 66% of them belong to Korangi, PIB colony, Machar colony, etc.

They are either runaways from large and poor families or homeless and abandoned children. Sooner or later, these children fall prey to child labour, sexual abuse, and drug addiction. Ultimately, they get forced into crime.

Some run away from home because of ill treatment and forced labour at the hands of their own destitute parents, who cannot afford to raise them otherwise. Despite missing their siblings, these orphans prefer to join gangs rather than return home.

According to reports by Meera Jamal of ‘Dawn’, they are robbed by policemen, and sold into sexual slavery for as low as Rs. 50 a day. These children sniff glue and petrol as the cheapest means to forget their miseries. Their only self defense is carrying a razor blade that most of the time is not enough against the older and stronger. Joining a gang provides maximum protection. However, they are still subject to abuse by the gang leader, whose orders they must comply with.

Edhi Foundation confirms that though Sindh Child Act and a number of other laws declare the government responsible for the safety and protection of all children, there is no official support network in place to rehabilitate them. When such kids are brought to them, most of them choose to return to the streets. Their innocence has been abused to such an extent that they begin to enjoy their freedom. Also, their life of crime offers them much more than a frugal children’s shelter ever could. American writer Zig Ziglar commented: “Kids go where there is excitement; they stay where there is love.”

The question then arises – what can be done? These children are as much a part of our future Ummah as our own kids. Many times we instruct our own children: “Child, don’t play outside the house – it’s dangerous.” The thought of leaving our kids on the city streets to roam on their own day and night is enough to send shivers down the spine.

We must not forget that our beloved Messenger (sa) was an orphan, too. The ignorant Arabs of that era had a much stronger sense of fraternity than we have today, in spite of our modern education and economic means. Prophet Muhammad (sa) was lovingly taken in to his uncle’s home and raised as one of his own children. Today, it seems not to be even an option – a child with a relative is as vulnerable as the one on the streets. Therefore, these kids dangerously opt to be left to their own devices.

There is no simple solution to this challenge. Until big plans are put in place, we can all chip in individually. Several Quranic verses and authentic prophetic traditions encourage sponsorship of orphans. Start from home. Look around within your extended family, if a child needs to be supported for education and other needs. Don’t be judgmental or arrogant, when offering support, so as not to hurt their self-esteem. Just offer any assistance with an open heart and a pure Niyah (intention).

Encourage institutes and individuals that are running rehabilitation centres. Don’t just fund them, but visit them with your family and spend time with these children regularly.

Help your servants and employees manage their children’s basic needs. Arrange meaningful Quranic education and vocational training for them, so they can morally and economically uplift their families.

On the streets, try to encourage children who sell stuff to earn a respectable life. We can also give a far more protected and respectable environment to a poor child by employing him for one of the lighter tasks at home. Proper time can be allocated for his education and upbringing.

It will take personal and consistent interest on our part to bring a meaningful change in the lives of one of these kids. But if we can save one innocent life, it can be Sadqa-e-jaariya for us. May be we are the hope these children are looking for. Let’s give it to them with love and kindness.

The Prophet’s (sa) Adopted Son

our role modelToday, adoption of children is no strange concept. Worldwide, it’s considered a highly noble deed that relieves needy and/or abandoned children from the throes of poverty. For infertile couples, it’s considered to be the perfect ‘solution’ for old-age loneliness. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, provides the definition of adoption: “Adoption is the legal act of permanently placing a child with parents other than the birth parents. An adoption order has the effect of severing the parental responsibilities and rights of the birth parents and transferring those responsibilities and rights onto the adoptive parents. After the finalization of an adoption, there is no legal difference between adopted children and those born to the parents.” Legally, adopted children are named after their adoptive parents and inherit from them.

The Quran has also mentioned adoption, as it existed many centuries ago. Prophet Yusuf (as) and Prophet Moosa (as) were considered for adoption by the couples, who took them into their homes:

“And he (the man) from Egypt who bought him [Yusuf], said to his wife: ‘Make his stay comfortable: maybe he will profit us or we shall adopt him as a son.’” (Yusuf 12:21)

“And the wife of Firaun (Pharaoh) said [on finding Moosa (as) as a baby]: ‘A comfort of the eye for me and for you. Kill him not, perhaps he may be of benefit to us, or we may adopt him as a son.’ And they perceived not (the result of that).” (Al-Qasas 28:9)

Allah (swt) completed the Deen of Islam by establishing ordainments and prohibitions for all aspects of individual and communal life. Therefore, the Islamic law has laid down strict rules also regarding adoption. How? Years before he received the prophet-hood from Allah (swt), our Prophet Muhammad (sa) also had adopted a son, whose name was Zaid (rta). Zaid (rta) holds the privilege of being the only companion mentioned by name in the Quran. Allah (swt) nullified all relationships based on adoption by ordering Prophet Muhammad (sa) to marry Zaid’s divorced wife. Thus, Allah (swt) placed a permanent seal on the difference between blood relations and other bonds. Muslims today, therefore, cannot undertake adoption, unless they adhere to the limits imposed by Islam, which oblige that the adopted child should:

(i)           be informed that he/she is adopted;

(ii)         be named after his/her biological father: “Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just in the sight of Allah.” (Al-Ahzab 33:5)

(iii)       not inherit from any adoptive relative, not even parents; (other than one third tht might be given to the adopted child as charity by the foster parents)

(iv)       observe the rules of Hijab on reaching puberty – an adopted daughter will become a non-Mahram for her ‘father’ and ‘brothers’, and an adopted son will become a non-Mahram for his ‘mother’ and ‘sisters.’

As feasible alternatives, Islam has strongly encouraged two other relationships that establish non-biological bonds:

(i)             Radaah (breast-feeding): a Muslim woman, who nurses a baby, becomes akin to the baby’s biological mother and a permanent Mahram.

(ii)           Patronage of orphans: several Quranic verses and authentic prophetic traditions encourage sponsorship of orphans.

Analyzing the Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) relationship with his adopted son before Revelation, one observes the same kind treatment he gave to all relations, be they children, kinfolk, slaves, neighbours, or wayfarers. Zaid Bin Harith (rta) was a slave-boy owned by Syeda Khadijah (rta), when she got married to the Prophet (sa). An Arab by ethnic origin, Zaid (rta) was dark-skinned and of unknown lineage. He had been captured during a raid on his tribe’s lodgings and sold as a slave in Makkah. In Arabia, masters had complete ownership rights over their slaves. Thus, the latter’s vulnerable position often opened the door to exploitation and oppression. Zaid (rta) could have suffered the same fate, but Allah (swt) had immense bounties in store for him instead, because after marriage, Khadijah (rta) gifted Zaid (rta) to the Prophet (sa) as a personal valet.

Several years later, Zaid’s (rta) father Harith heard that his son was residing in Makkah in one of its esteemed households. He eagerly came looking for him and offered a very large sum to Muhammad (sa) as his son’s ransom. Muhammad (sa) instead proposed that Zaid (rta) make the choice: if he wished, he could leave with his biological father; if he chose to stay, he could stay on with his master. The choice made by young Zaid (rta) is proof of our Prophet’s (sa) exceptionally kind nature: despite recognizing his father, he chose to stay with his master.

“No sooner had Zaid (rta) announced his choice, Muhammad (sa) took him by the hand to the Black Stone of the Kabah and publicly announced that he had adopted Zaid (rta) as his son. Harith was well-pleased with this situation and returned home. From then on, Zaid (rta) became known as ‘Zaid Bin Muhammad’, thus manumitted from slavery and raised in rank.” The Quran, therefore, mentions him thus:

“…on whom Allah had bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad (sa) too) have done favor (by manumitting him).” (Al-Ahzab 33:37)

Prophet’s Muhammad’s (saw) kindness to a dark-skinned slave-boy thus blessed the latter with one privilege after another:

  • Saabiq: When Prophet Muhammad (sa) became Messenger of Allah, Zaid (rta) was among the Saabiqoon – the first ones to embrace Islam.
  • Hijrah: He was among the first Muslims to emigrate to Madinah, where the Prophet (sa) arranged his first marriage. There, he begot a son called Usama Bin Zaid (rta), who was also loved dearly by the Prophet (sa).
  • Marriage into nobility: The Prophet (sa) married Zaid (rta) again, this time to his own cousin Syeda Zainab Bint Jahsh (rta), a pious lady from the Quraish, despite the difference in social status between them. When it was time to submit to Allah’s (swt) command of abolishing their father-son relationship, both complied – Zaid (rta) divorced Zainab (rta), reverted his name to Zaid Bin Harith, and Prophet Muhammad (sa) married his divorcee.
  • Martyrdom: Narrated Anas Bin Malik (rta): The Prophet delivered a sermon and said, “Zaid took the flag and was martyred, and then Ja’far took the flag and was martyred, and then ‘Abdullah Bin Rawaha took the flag and was martyred too, and then Khalid Bin Al-Walid took the flag though he was not appointed as a commander and Allah made him victorious.” The Prophet further added, “It would not please us to have them with us.” Aiyub, a sub-narrator, added, “Or the Prophet, shedding tears, said, ‘It would not please them to be with us.” (Bukhari)
  • Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 52, Hadith No. 55:
    Narrated Anas Bin Malik: The Prophet delivered a sermon and said, “Zaid took the flag and was martyred, and then Ja’far took the flag and was martyred, and then ‘Abdullah Bin Rawaha took the flag and was martyred too, and then Khalid Bin Al-Walid took the flag though he was not appointed as a commander and Allah made him victorious.” The Prophet further added, “It would not please us to have them with us.” Aiyub, a sub-narrator, added, “Or the Prophet, shedding tears, said, ‘It would not please them to be with us.”
  • Zaid (rta) led an expedition as a military commander, which culminated in the Battle of Mutah, where Allah (swt) favoured him with the supreme honour of martyrdom. “The three commanders, Zaid (rta), Jafar (rta) and Ibn Rawahah (rta) all fell as martyrs. When the Prophet (sa) learned of their death, he was extremely sad. He said of them that they ‘were lifted to Paradise on thrones of pure gold, just as men see in their dreams.’”

We can learn from the Prophet’s (sa) example the virtue of rectifying our own behaviour with people inferior to us in social and economic status. Needy of livelihood, servants do our menial work, but we are quick to catch their mistakes and demean them. Instead, overlooking their faults and being polite is the best way to emulate the kindness our Prophet (sa) showed to his slave-boy – kindness that elevated the latter to a high status in this world and the Hereafter.

“Zaid took the flag and was martyred, and then Jafar took the flag and was martyred, and then Abdullah Bin Rawaha took the flag and was martyred too, and then Khalid Bin Al-Walid took the flag though he was not appointed as a commander and Allah made him victorious.” The Prophet further added, “It would not please us to have them with us.” (Bukhari)

Speech Language Therapy Training School

slt-logo“The most Gracious (Allah)! He has taught (you mankind) the Quran (by His Mercy). He created man. He taught him eloquent speech…” (Ar-Rahman 55:1-4)

Indeed, Alhumdulillah, for most of us talking and hearing comes naturally. In fact, we don’t even consider it an extraordinary skill. let alone a blessing to be grateful for. However, in Pakistan’s population of over 155 million there are approximately 20 million people suffering from communication, swallowing and/or hearing disorders.

How does it feel not to be able to hear the birds sing or the waves lap against the shore? What does it mean not to be able to enjoy delicious Biryani or Haleem? Can we understand the frustration one feels, when he or she is unable to express, let alone talk or sing? No, we don’t and most of the time we offer some pity and move on with our lives.

However, there are some individuals who could have done the same but Allah chose them to serve His creation – and that’s exactly what they are tasked to. An extremely busy man, Dr. A. G. Billoo, has a prominent name in the pediatrics world and also chairs the position of Vice President at Speech & Hearing Association of Pakistan (SHAP). Ziauddin University and SHAP have established the first ever Speech Language Therapy Training School (SLTTS), where clinics have been operational since May of 2006.

Nestled in a corner stands SLTTS’ modest building near Ziauddin Hospital, Clifton. You may have driven past it several times without noticing it probably. I know I had. It is the people and their purpose that make it so remarkable. Once inside, you will learn that it is a sound treated and air-conditioned custom built structure, occupying a 5000 square feet of space and offering multiple opportunities for the disabled.

I arrived at SLTTS at 3:00 pm as per my appointment, anticipating the usual wait that would follow. Surprisingly, almost immediately I was ushered into the quiet and serene passage leading to many rooms. Here, I was warmly greeted by a beaming Amina Asif Siddiqui – the in-charge coordinator of SLTTS. Hailing from Mumbai, Amina is a renowned speech language therapist and audiologist, who has helped hundreds of patients overcome multiple speech, language and hearing related challenges.

Right away, she led us into another dimly lit quiet passage with chairs lined up against the wall and facing a huge see-through glass, where a class was in session. However, this class had just one patient – an old gentleman working along young Dr. Mariam H. Syeda, an MSc. in speech language pathology from Boston. The class participants were not aware of our presence due to the tinted glass in between; however, we could observe them quietly.

Amina explained that this was their observation gallery, where family members of patients were seated to observe the teaching skills and techniques that the therapists applied to their patients. After class, the patient’s relatives (parents, spouses, children, etc.) would apply the same teaching methods at home as an extended day to day learning. Eventually, over time they themselves would become equipped for effective communication with the patient. In case of young patients, sometimes therapists sat in the observation gallery to observe how parents communicated with their kids.

For children, they have a specially furnished space with toys called Play Therapy Room for the purpose of providing experiential language skills. The therapy offered here helps parents to transfer and carry over the learnt skills into day to day life

Our next stop was at the Audiology Room, another sound proof room with double wooden doors to ensure that all external noise is blocked. With specialized equipment and techniques, Dr. Najum-ul Haq, a clinical audiologist from Australia, ascertains the auditory thresholds of patients. This is followed by the language therapy recommended to the patient.

Amina explains: “The sooner a child’s disability is diagnosed, the faster we can get to work. In foreign countries, hospitals are equipped to test babies at birth for speech and hearing related deficiencies. Unfortunately, in Pakistan the youngest baby that can be detected of such disorders at SLTTS is 6-7 months of age. Indirect therapy may be commenced as early as 3 months of age – the baby’s parents can be taught appropriate strategies of communication. 1 ½ to 2 years is the most suitable age to work with for successful results in therapy. But most of the time parents bring their kids much later than that, and it is difficult to train kids, yet not impossible, as miracles do happen.”

Speaking of miracles, I asked: “How does the team remain so dedicated and motivated?” Dr. Maryam answered: “The patients’ families fight against all circumstances. It’s their love for the patient and trust in the therapist that make miracles happen. There have been patients, who were hit in the worse imaginable traffic accidents and were reduced to a flattened body. With uncompromising patience and months of hard work the patients get revived and recovered. From a limp and lifeless body to a newly restored person – Allah (swt) grants them a new life!”

A very significant part of their therapy also comprises of pulling the patients out of depression and trauma, especially in cases, where patients were not born with disabilities but gradually developed them or suddenly met with an accident. They were fluently speaking and simply stopped talking one day. It’s like losing an ability instantly and learning to develop and use it all over again.

Patience is an integral part of their therapy. Dr. Maryam shared a case, in which it took her six sessions to get her patient just to lick a blob of ketchup sitting on his upper lip with the help of using the tip of his tongue.

Lastly, we visited the Voice Therapy Room with equipment imported from abroad through donations of individuals from our community. This highly specialized equipment is used to evaluate and treat disorders of voice and speech, such as inappropriate pitch, nasality and even stammering.

I was also informed about a monumental milestone of SHAP and ZU, which is a collaboration to establish and conduct the first four-year Bachelor’s programme in speech language therapy in Pakistan at Ziauddin University, Clifton, Karachi. Their aim is to increase awareness in the general public of the strengths and needs of people with communication difficulties.

Young girls and boys with completed A levels or HSC (pre-medical) and fluency in written and spoken English and Urdu have a promising future here. The students would receive clinical training at the hospital premises and in community settings along with a strong theoretical grounding. Upon completion, the students will be able to assess independently a variety of speech/language and swallowing disorders in adults and children. They will formulate functional goals and implement therapy procedures to facilitate communication skills and improve swallowing.

This programme will also offer SLTTS its future therapists, increasing the number of faculty members to meet the current demand. An additional objective is to offer therapy also in regional languages.

SLTTS has great aspirations and a qualified and diligent team. The community should come forward to help them reach those aspirations especially in case of finances. The equipment for therapy and evaluation costs Lakhs of Rupees. SLTTS has the expertise, and they strive to bring it to all those disabled individuals out there regardless of financial stature. They do offer therapy to the under-privileged class too thus enabling them to live an independent and more fulfilling life. Please, support them. That’s what Momins do!

“-Say it is He Who has created you, and endowed you with hearing (ears) and seeing (eyes), and hearts. Little thanks you give.” (Al-Mulk 67:23)

Speech and language services offered by SLTTS

1)      Aphasia (e.g., language disorders after stroke)

2)      Articulation and phonological disorders

3)      Communication deficits due to:

4)      Autism (PDD), cerebral palsy, cleft palate/lip, Down’s syndrome, mental

5)      retardation, hearing impairment

6)      Communication after Laryngectomy

7)      Cognitive / language deficit due to traumatic brain injury

8)      Cognitive rehabilitation (attention, memory, awareness, Alzheimer’s, degenerative diseases)

9)      Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties in infants and adults)

10)  Dysarthria

11)  Stuttering

12)  Voice disorders

Address: Plot # BC-06, Block – 1, KDA Scheme 5, Clifton, Karachi

Phone: 021-6011164 / 111-335-111

E-mail: slt@zmu.edu.pk

Are we Destiny’s Children?

Vol 4 - Issue 4 Are we Destiny's ChildrenI was shocked, when my six year old asked me: “Mama, if Allah (swt) controls everything, which includes us, then why do you punish me for misbehaving?” I didn’t know how to explain to him that even though Allah (swt) controls everything, He (swt) has given us free will – the choice to do good or evil. And due to this free will we will be judged on the Day of Reckoning, after which our eternal abode will either be heaven or hell. Reflecting on my teen years, it was this question that started my journey from having unshakable belief in Allah (swt) and the unseen to questioning everything and coming full circle into a conscious decision and Imaan in Allah’s existence.

This question is commonly argued under the title of ‘Determinism vs. Free Will.’ Determinism is defined as ‘the doctrine that everything, including one’s choice, is a necessary result of a sequence of causes.’ Free will, on the other hand, is ‘the freedom of will to choose any course of action without outside coercion.’ Both of these are not in the least synonymous, and the argument stems that since Allah (swt) controls everything, we really do not have the choice to do good or evil. The logical question then arises – why should we be punished in hell for a choice we do not have?

There are Ayahs in the Quran that support both view points. We can divide the Ayahs used commonly in this debate into three broad categories as per Dr. Ahmad Shafaat:

  1. Those that mention that only man is the source of his choices.
  2. Those that mention that only Allah (swt) is the source of man’s choices, including his moral choices.
  3. Those that bring the two thoughts together.

Following are some Ayahs for each category.

Category I – Those that mention that only man is the source of his choices.

  • “And say: ‘The truth is from your Lord.’ Then whomsoever wills, let him believe and whomsoever wills, let him disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf 18:29)
  • “That no burdened person (with sins) shall bear the burden (sins) of another. And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad).” (An-Najm 53:38-39)
  • (Fussilat 41:46 and Dahr :3)

Category II – Those that mention that only Allah (swt) is the source of man’s choices.

  • “Those who reject our Ayat are deaf and dumb in the darkness. Allah sends astray whom He wills and guides on the Straight Path whom he wills.” (Al-An’am 6:39)
  • “While Allah has created you and what you make!” (As-Saffat 37:96)

Category III – Those that bring the two thoughts together.

  • “That is so because Allah will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their own selves” (Al-Anfal 8:53)
  • (Yunus 10:44)

It is possible to explain logically all the three types of verses quoted above, if we believe in the concepts of divine foreknowledge, forewriting and foreordainment. Allah (swt) has knowledge of every event before it happens. This is divine foreknowledge. Forewriting (Kitabah) literally means that God has written in a symbolic sense that an event will occur. Foreordainment (Taqdir) means that God has willed that this event should occur.

However, knowing in advance about an event is often confused with forcing that event to occur. We think of Allah (swt) in terms of our foresight. Allah (swt) is not limited by the dimension of time; hence, He knows what is happening now, what happened yesterday and what is going to happen tomorrow all at the same moment.

Allah (swt) is perfect in His knowledge, so He (swt) knows everything. When we try to change our Taqdir, Allah (swt) knew we would do this and so has written that a certain event would happen. Hence, Allah (swt) has not forced us to make a certain choice; He (swt) knew we would make that choice.

The question then arises – if Allah (swt) knows everything, then why is there a need to test us? Why not just put us in Heaven or Hell? Well, if one goes to Heaven, there is no problem. However, if one goes to Hell, he will ask Allah (swt) why. He would want to be given the chance to prove that he could have made the right choices. This explains why we have to strive to pass the test.

If Allah (swt) wills everything, then how can we be good, if Allah (swt) has willed us to be evil? There is a simple explanation. Allah (swt) says that He (swt) will reward / punish us to the extent of the abilities granted. Thus, if He (swt) has given us the ability to perform great good and we do not do it, then we will be rewarded accordingly and vice versa. For example: if Bilal has Rs. 2 and gives one in charity, he is better than Usman who has Rs. 10 and also only gives away one in charity. Bilal has given half of his possessions, while Usman gave only one tenth! “Allah burdens not a soul beyond his scope…” (Baqarah 2:286)

In conclusion, I would like to state that this debate is a philosophical one and has great potential to weaken one’s Iman; hence, it is not crucial to understand this argument completely. Know only this that Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgment are real. Base your belief on that and live your life to fulfill the potential Allah (swt) has granted you. May we all enter paradise, Ameen.

 

A basket full of folded pieces of paper

By Saulat Pervez

Back in high school, I once posed this question to my elder brother: “If everything is destined, then how can there be a free will?”

My brother gave me a wonderfully simple yet insightful answer by giving the following illustration: “If I were to present you with a basket full of folded pieces of paper and ask you to pick one and yet tell you that I know exactly which one you will pick – won’t you still have the free will to choose which ever piece of paper you decide upon? This is exactly the relationship between Qadr and free will.”

This explanation has stayed with me ever since and has simplified this complicated concept.

Origins of Basant

basantThe roots of this festival can be traced as far back as ancient times. Originally, this festival was called Vasantotsav (Vasant + Utsav (festival)) and is also known as Vasant Panchami – Hindu Spring festival. In Sanskrit, ‘Vasant’ means ‘Spring (season)’ and ‘Panchami’ means ‘the fifth day.’ As the name indicates, this festival falls on the fifth day of the Hindu month Magh (February), which is the beginning of the Spring season. It is a season, when nature regenerates and everything is fresh and new. New life is evident in the woods and fields. Mustard fields turn into a heady mix of yellow and green, as the blossoms add colour. Since the yellow colour has special importance on this day, people wear yellow dresses. Men and boys wear yellow Turbans or shirts, while women and girls – yellow Chunries or Duppattas.

They get together and erect special Dias for this day, where they hold Puja and community lunch. Kite flying is popular on this day. In some traditional homes, sweet dishes are exchanged with relatives and friends. A dash of saffron is added to the sweet dishes for getting a yellow tinge. Many people go to temple to offer Halwa or sweet rice as a Prasad to the god. Hindu people associate Basant with freshness and a new beginning in all spheres of life. This festival is widely celebrated in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and other countries, where there are Hindu communities.

Pagan roots

This festival is dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. She is considered to be the feminine counterpart of lord Brahma, who according to Hindu mythology is the creator of the universe. Saraswati is usually shown as the fair skinned eternally young goddess, dressed in white and yellow garments. She has four hands. She is holding a book in one hand and a Japamala (rosary string) in another. She is playing a Veena (musical instrument) with the other two hands.

‘Book’ symbolizes the Vedas (spiritual knowledge and wisdom), and ‘Japamala’ symbolizes meditation and contemplation or concentration. She is sitting on a lotus, which symbolizes creation (life), love and kindness. The white swan that accompanies her symbolizes purity and peace. As a patron of arts, she plays a song on the instrument Veena. All her characteristics symbolize that she is a goddess of learning, wisdom and all kinds of knowledge, including science and music. She is the master of 64 arts, of which the art of love is the first and most important. It is believed that she is the energy of lord Brahma. With her knowledge, she helps lord Brahma in generation of the world.

Schools, colleges and other educational institutions organize special worship of Saraswati and other cultural activities. It is a custom to begin a child’s education on this day of Basant. Before starting, the children are expected to recite the following Shloka: “Saraswathi Namastubhyam Varade Kamarupini Vidyarambam Karishyami Sidhirbhavatu Mesada. (Oh Saraswati, sitting on the beautiful lotus flower, I am beginning my education, so always bless me.)”

Highlights of Vasant Panchami

1)      The festival falls in the month of February.

2)      It is dedicated to the goddess Saraswati.

3)      Saraswati is the goddess of learning, knowledge and wisdom.

4)      Saraswati is the energy of lord Brahma. She helps lord Brahma in the creation of new world.

5)      It is said that Hindus should chant Saraswati Shloka before study.

Current trends in Pakistan

Punjab and Lahore particularly have started celebrating Basant. The most important event of the festival is kite-flying at night in the Walled City of Lahore.

The sky is filled with colorful kites, tracked by searchlights, dancing to the music of the decks on the rooftops blaring out Bhangra tunes. Banks, multinational companies and hotels have started using this event for public relations. Also the Punjab government has claimed a stake in the festivities.

Nowadays, people are of the view that such festivals have a liberating effect. They provide a brief interlude with freedom from the toils of daily existence and a bit of fun.

Accidents and deaths

According to Dawn (15th February, 2007), ten people were reportedly killed and over 100 injured in Basant-related incidents in different parts of Lahore alone. Doctors said the people brought to the hospitals were either injured by chemical coated and metal strings, electrocuted, had fallen from rooftops or had indulged in fights over kite flying.

Three died from injuries they suffered in road accidents. One person was run over by a bus, and a nine-year-old was hit and killed by a van on Multan Road, when he was trying to catch a stray kite. Yet another unidentified teenager was killed in a similar road accident near Kalma Chowk.

Three people died after falling from rooftops in Gowalmandi, Gujjarpura and New Muslim Town. They were 18, 15 and 8 years old. The hospitals had made special arrangements to deal with the injured people, most of them youngsters. Half of the injured admitted to the hospitals were discharged after first aid, and the rest were treated till late night.

According to the city police chief, most of the deaths happened due to mistakes made by the deceased themselves.

148 people were arrested for using materials that are banned for kite flying – 91 spools of metal and chemical string and 470 kites were seized from them. Special police squads and traffic policemen remained on duty and swooped down on those committing violations.

“We have been strictly instructed not to go after those buying liquor from hotels and not to smell people’s mouth,” a policeman standing outside a city hotel said.

Islamic ruling on celebration of festivals

A festival or fest is an event, usually staged by a local community, which centers on some theme, sometimes on some unique aspect of the community. Among many religions, a feast or festival is a set of celebrations in honour of God or gods. In the case of Basant, the festival is in honour of the goddess Saraswati.

It was narrated that Abd-Allah Bin Umer said: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Whoever imitates a people is one of them.’” (Abu Dawood)

Islam is a religion of Fitrat (nature). Islam acknowledges the need for humans to relax and have clean fun. However, Allah (swt) has set His limits.

The Prophet (sa) said: “For every people there is a feast and this is our feast.” (Bukhari)

The first of Shawal (Eid-ul-Fitr) and the tenth of Zil Hajj (Eid-ul-Adha)

The Prophet (sa) said: “They are days of eating, drinking and remembrance of Allah.” (Bukhari)

It is important to remember that every event or experience in a Muslim’s life should bring him closer to Allah (swt), and the same is true for celebrations. Nearly every celebration has roots in some religious belief, and, therefore, it is not appropriate for a Muslim to indulge in non-Islamic festivities. It is at times like these that one can easily forget the limits set by Allah (swt) and go astray. After all, it is simply impossible to remember Allah (swt) and do Bhangra or have liquor simultaneously. May Allah (swt) protect and guide us all, Ameen.