Anger Management

Vol 4-Issue 1 Anger ManagementAnger has been termed as a strong feeling caused by extreme displeasure. It is a natural response to a particular circumstance. However, a pertinent question here is – can it be avoided? More significantly, can it be controlled? And if not, how detrimental can the consequences of a blind rage be?

Dr. Mamdouh N. Mohammad, an educational consultant and acting director of American Open University, reasons: “Situations that cause anger are not always avoidable; anger can and should be controlled. When anger becomes a habit without efforts to control it, a person will face great difficulty in building quality interpersonal relationships.”

A rapidly intolerant and self-centered culture is growing around us, where at times anger is even justified for making personal gains. Seldom people appreciate the need to defuse a potentially volatile situation and rather feel triumphant in a showdown, no matter how ugly it may turn out to be.

Islam, with all its wisdom and efforts to maintain peace and order in the society, has presented remarkable and doable strategies for controlling our negative emotions. This is simply called ‘anger management.’ Following are some workable solutions for those, who have the courage to break this bad habit and live a less stressful life.

Sensing of one’s moods

Quite often, in the midst of a heated argument, a person’s muscles begin to tense and pulse increases rapidly. Some people even become out of breath, and their voices raise. These are all signs of a temper simmering within.

The Prophet (sa) has advised us to pay close attention to these signs: “Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the son of Adam. Do you not notice the swelling of the veins of his neck and redness of his eyes?” (At-Tirmidhi)

Changing of circumstances

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also emphasized the relaxing of one’s muscles. Abu Tharr (rta) narrates the Prophet’s (sa) suggestion: “The Apostle of Allah (sa) said to us: ‘When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise, he should lie down.’” (Abu Dawood)

The idea is simple – the person must change the circumstances, under which he first became angry. His altered position will assist him in relaxing of his tense muscles. Also, getting up and washing one’s face helps. Atiyyah narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution (Wudhu).” (Abu Dawood)

Assessing potential settings

One of the best ways for a person to control his anger is to become more aware of his personal habits. Ask yourself: “What ticks me?” Every person is prone to irritation. If possible, replay the number of times you have lost your temper and examine, what was the launching pad? Most people do not make the effort to understand the kinds of settings or situations that lead them to their blind fury. Once this is identified, precautions can be taken to avoid them.

Beware of the snowballing effect

Another important element in controlling anger is not to allow frustrations to build up. Many individuals agree that they keep suppressing anger, until it gets too much to keep within and they blow up. Hence, all their initial efforts prove futile.

The solution is to take an inventory of one’s feelings occasionally. If an irritant has caused in you some sort of negativity, immediately try to disengage with it. Reciting ‘Aoudo Billahi Mina Shaiytan Ni Rajim,’ offering Salah, diverting one’s mind to some other chore, and complaining to Allah (swt) help. Yes, literally pour your poison out in front of Allah (swt), before you end up inflicting self-damage.

Avoiding the bait

At times, one is unconsciously pulled into a whirlpool by no fault of his own. There are such individuals around us, who seek pleasure by provoking us, especially if they are aware of the bait we get hooked to. We consciously have to practice avoiding those baits.

Once, a Jewish man greeted the Prophet (sa) by saying: “Death be upon you.” He used the Arabic word ‘Sâm’, meaning ‘death’, in a parody of the Islamic greeting for peace, which is the word ‘Salâm’. Though the Prophet (sa) knew exactly, what the man had said: he paid it no heed and gently replied: “And upon you.” He did so without repeating the misused word ‘Sâm’ and behaved, as if he had not noticed it.

However, Aisha (rta), who had also heard what the man really said: immediately retorted: “And death be upon you and a curse as well!” The Prophet (sa) said: “Take it easy, Aisha. Allah loves kindness in everything.” Aisha (rta) complained to the Prophet (sa) saying: “Didn’t you hear what he said?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Did you not hear my reply? I responded to his offensive supplication. My supplication will be answered by Allah, while his supplication against me will not be answered.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Remembering Allah’s (swt) and His Apostle’s (sa) pleasure

Abdullah ibn Umar (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No one has swallowed back anything more excellent in the sight of Allah, Who is Great and Glorious, than anger he restrains, seeking to please Allah most high.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

On another occasion, Saeed Al Khudri narrated: “The Prophet (sa) mentioned anger saying: ‘Some are swift to anger and swift to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; some are slow to anger and slow to cool down, the one characteristic making up for the other; but the best of you are those, who are slow to anger and swift to cool down, and the worst of you are those, who are swift to anger and slow to cool down.’” (Tirmidhi)

We also have a responsibility to take care of our health and well-being. Studies have shown that anger is linked to stroke, high levels of cholesterol, and coronary heart diseases; therefore, we must manage our anger in a healthy manner for our own sake.

As for disposition towards others, our choices in reaction to different situations significantly decide the ambience of our home, the culture of our organization, and our overall image as a person. Most certainly, nobody wants to be identified as a grouch on the brink of a sudden eruption. Also, by such unpredictable mood swings we tend to lose respect and drive away the people we love and care about. Consequently, even if we are a well-meaning individual, because of our volatile temperament nobody understands our true sentiments.

Anger is never a wise choice for expression. Next time you are tempted to resort to anger, stop and think for a while. There is always a more effective means of communication or even protest. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength to ignore Shaitan’s whispers. Ameen.

Attitudes followed by anger

Regret

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” Undoubtedly, regret is one of the most common emotions people feel after an angry outburst. But, unfortunately, it does not mend the damage of the initial angry episode. Anger causes serious implications, such as broken relationships, physical abuse, divorce, loss of respect, and even murder.

Regret is only worthwhile, if earlier mistakes are not repeated. But if it is a common occurrence after every fight with no improvement, then it is of no value.

Arrogance

For some individuals anger is a way of life. It is their language to communicate and their means of getting by. Unfortunately, they don’t even acknowledge anything to be wrong. In fact, they feel proud of themselves, if they are able to abuse others, put people down, or throw in a few punches to get their way.

This is the most dangerous of all attitudes – the sense of right and wrong gets displaced. Just as Satan challenged Allah (swt): “I am better than Adam.” Such individuals justify their position and feel no need to change themselves.

For such individuals, sincere and earnest Dua (prayer) is the only solution, so that their hearts soften and take heed of guidance by Allah’s (swt) will.

Grace

Once a man was harshly abusing another man, who was gently trying to handle the situation. The abuser went on till his heart’s content and finally walked away. A third man being the spectator of this brawl came to the gentle man and asked him quizzically: “You were behaving like a gentleman with that foul mouthed person. Why didn’t you get even with him?” The gentle man smiled and answered: “I was treating him the way I am. I didn’t want to be pulled down to his level. Instead, I thought of bringing him up to my own.”

Sadly, such grace is not witnessed often today, except among people of high Iman (faith), who can elevate themselves above the momentary madness. They have the courage to put a reign on their tempers and tongues.

Forgiveness

Uzma Rizvi, a Hiba writer, in her research found that Dr. Tony Fiore in “Three Tips to Forgiveness: A Key Factor in Anger Management” tells of a 1996 study, which showed that the more people forgave those who hurt them, the less angry they were. He talks about two studies of divorced people, in which the forgivers of former spouses lived on with a “higher sense of well-being and lower anxiety and depression.”

Allah (swt) states recommended qualities of pious individuals: “And those who avoid the greater sins, and Al-Fawahish (illegal sexual intercourse), and when they are angry, forgive.” (Ash-Shura 42:37)

Indeed, to forgive is divine, but as someone rightly said: “Every successful and content individual has a huge graveyard, where he buries the mistakes of people he knows and not knows.”

Anger for Allah (swt)

our role modelAt a time when conflict, distress, and war are rampant, Muslims are facing persecution. As Fitan descend one after another, we, as Muslims, desperately need to mould our reactions to deliberate provocations, according to the lofty moral conduct exemplified by our Prophet Muhammad (sa). At one extreme, we react to traumatic events by abusing, insulting, and threatening to kill the enemies of Islam; on the other end, we befriend some prejudiced non-Muslims so whole-heartedly that we don’t feel anything, when they degrade Islam.

How do we direct our anger to ensure that it lies within the boundaries of ‘anger for the sake of Allah (swt)?’ How do we know, when it is praiseworthy to remain silent and forgive our enemy, and when it is commendable to react with appropriate emotions and words of Naseehah?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) is well-known for practicing self-control when angry. He expressed his fury at the most by a change in facial expression: his cheeks would turn red, and he would become silent. In some cases, he would make a statement of mild or stern rebuke, in order to correct serious errors made by his companions. The term ‘personal revenge’ never existed in his vocabulary.

How and when the Prophet Muhammad (sa) expressed his anger is best described by Aisha (rta): “Allah’s Messenger never once struck anyone with his hand – not a servant of his nor a woman – except when he was fighting in war. He would never seek to punish anyone for their abuses, except when one of Allah’s prohibitions had been transgressed; then, he would do so only for Allah’s sake.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and Ibn Majah)

One of his duties as a Prophet, however, was to ensure that Allah’s (swt) laws and Hudood (restrictions) were not violated. Hence, errors by Muslims in implementing Deen were immediately corrected. Because of this, Allah’s Messenger (sa) expressed his anger on certain occasions. The following Ahadeeth illustrate this point.

Zayd ibn Thabit (rta) reports: “The Prophet chose a place, where he went out at night to pray. Some men saw him doing that, and they prayed with him. They came every night to do that. One night, the Prophet did not come out to join them. They started to make some noises like little coughs, raised their voices, and even threw pebbles at his door. He came out to them in a state of anger and said: “Look, you people! You continued doing what you did, until I thought it might be made obligatory for you. Pray in your own home, because the best prayer a person can offer is the one he offers at home, except for the obligatory prayers.” (Bukhari, Abu Dawood, and An-Nasai)

Once, the Prophet (sa) found his companions disputing with each other over the issue of the divine decree (Qadr). The Prophet’s (sa) face became furious, and he said: “Was this what you were ordered to do? Is this what you have been created for? To toss the verses of the Quran around like that? This is how the nations before you fell to their ruin.” (Ibn Majah)

Another action that angered the Prophet (sa) was when people asked him too many questions. Zayd ibn Khalid (rta) reports: “A man asked the Prophet (sa) about what one should do with what one might find in the street. The Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Publicize it for a year, and then make sure to know its description and spend it. Should its owner come up, give it back to him.’ The man said: ‘What about a lost sheep?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘It belongs to you, your brother or the wolf.’ The man further asked: ‘What about a lost camel?’ The Prophet’s (sa) face was reddened with anger at this question, and then he said to the man: ‘What do you want with it? It has its own hoofs and drink, until its owner finds it.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah)

There were some incidents in the Prophet’s (sa) life that made him angry even with his dearest companions.

The Sahihain report a Hadeeth, in which Usama Bin Zayd (rta), a beloved companion of the Prophet (sa), tried to intercede on behalf of a Quraishi woman convicted of theft. On hearing Usama (rta) speak for her, the Prophet (sa) became angry, and his face changed color. He replied: “Are you interceding concerning one of the punishments prescribed by Allah (swt)?” He further said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad, was to steal, I would cut off her hand.” Then, he ordered the hand of the woman, who had stolen, to be cut off.

Muslim narrates a Hadeeth about Muadh Bin Jabal (rta) lengthening the Isha prayer so much that a man left the congregation and reported the incident to the Prophet (sa), who rebuked Muadh (rta) by saying: “Muadh, do you want to become a Fattaan (person putting people to trial)?” He then instructed him to recite just the shorter Surahs in the night prayer.

A narration in the Sahihain reports, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) once became angry at two of his young wives, Hafsa and Aisha (rta), when he entrusted one of them with a secret taking her into strict confidence, but she disclosed it to the other against his wishes. Vowing to stay away from them both for a month, he moved to an upper room in silent fury. As his wives cried in repentance, Allah (swt) revealed Quranic verses censuring them for having angered him.

Al-Darimi has a narration about Umar (rta) bringing the Torah before the Prophet (sa) and reading from it. The Prophet’s (sa) face changed color as he became angry, until Umar (rta) stopped. The Prophet (sa) then said: “By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, even if Moosa were to appear before you and you were to follow him, leaving me aside, you would certainly stray into error; for if Moosa were alive, and he found my prophetical ministry, even he would have definitely followed me.”

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) entered upon me, while there was a curtain having pictures (of animals) in the house. His face got red with anger, and then he took hold of the curtain and tore it into pieces. He said: ‘Such people, who paint these pictures, will receive the severest punishment on the Day of Resurrection.’” (Bukhari)

We can see, how Allah’s Messenger (sa) became angry, when Muslims exceeded limits of moderation in worship, disputed with each other about Deen, asked too many questions, referred to other sources besides the Quran, or inclined towards neglecting the restrictions ordained by Allah (swt). He expressed his anger, however, with constrained emotions and carefully-chosen but effective words of reprimand. That’s how we should also try to mould our fury: to be ignited only for Allah (swt), and expressed just as His Messenger (sa) did.

“The strong man is not the one, who can throw another down. The strong man is the one, who can control himself, when he is angry.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Understanding Anger

skd182362sdcskd182362sdcSumaira Dada presents excerpts from Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s lecture “Let Anger Go”

Anger is a feeling that each one of us must have experienced. Let’s understand what it is.

What is anger?

From Hadeeth we know that anger is “a burning ember in the heart of the son of Adam,” and its signs are the swelling of the veins of the neck and the redness of the eyes. (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

The Arabic language with its vast vocabulary uses several words for “anger” that reflect its different stages.

Sukht – the first degree of anger: mere irritation, disliking or being displeased; usually used for an older person being displeased with a younger person. This kind of anger cools down very soon.

Ghaiz – the second degree of anger: the displeasure raises the blood pressure level. This kind of anger could be on one’s self or on others.

Ghadhab – the third degree of anger: a person is full of anger and is bent upon taking revenge, seeking to hurt others.

Is anger controllable?

Allah (swt) says…

“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al Imran 3:133-134)

The word used in Arabic for repressing anger is Kadhama. It means ‘to tie’ or ‘to tighten,’ e.g., tightening the mouth of a hot water bag. Like the hot water bag, which holds back the water from burning anyone, a person controlling his anger does not harm anyone and sometimes even cools down!

The difference between the mankind and animals is that we can control our anger, while animals cannot. We, unlike the animals, are not helpless. We have been given a brain and can control our anger.

Hadeeth tells us…

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me!” The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not become angry and furious.” The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet (sa) said in each case: “Do not become angry and furious.” (Bukhari)

This Hadeeth shows that (a) if a person is able to control anger, a lot of his problems will be solved, and that (b) anger is a controllable emotion.

What are the causes of anger?

Some of the internal causes of anger are:

  • Disorder in personality, especially due to arrogance
  • Past incidents in life
  • Genetic pre-disposition
  • Non-fulfillment of basic desires
  • Physical ailment
  • High expectations of one’s self
  • Some foods

Anger can also have external causes:

  • Habits of family and friends that tick one off
  • Cultural values
  • Unexpected situations
  • Violence in the media and children’s games
  • Lack of proper training (Tarbiyah) of children (e.g., teaching how to express emotions)

How is anger expressed?

When people are angry, they shriek, yell, cry, bang doors, throw things, hit, torture themselves, take sleeping pills, attempt suicide, or take drugs eventually leading to addiction.

While some shriek and shout, others display passive aggressiveness by keeping silent, hiding within themselves the feelings of anger. Some others become sad and start pitying themselves, or even become jealous. Yet, others speak in a taunting tone most of the time – an expression of rage boiling over.

What are the harms of anger?

Physically

A negative effect on complexion, bones, gait; an increase in heart palpitation, blood pressure; chances of a heart attack also increase. Some people experience a sudden burst of anger and cannot control their body movements (especially their limbs!) and their tongues. Nerves stay under pressure; in some severe cases, anger has been pointed out as the cause of diabetes.

Mentally

Loss of sensible thought, creativity, and wisdom. Cooling of anger brings only embarrassment, shame, and sadness. Constructive activities are put on hold to rectify the wrongs done.

Spiritually

A washing away of good deeds. Sometimes one does a lot of good deeds but then becomes angry and in anger blurts out words that spoil all the good deeds done.

Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Do not render in vain your Sadaqah (charity) by reminders of your generosity or by injury.” (Al-Baqarah 2:264)

The Prophet (sa) said: “Anger spoils faith (Iman) as [the bitterness of] aloes’ sap spoils honey.” (Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi)

Socially

Relationships are spoilt because of angry words. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘A Mumin is an embodiment of love and affection, and there is no good in one, who neither loves nor is loved.’” (Ahmad)

Anger brings harm in its wake, e.g., an employee loses his job because of sharp words exchanged with the boss; a vendor loses a customer due to an exchange of angry words.

What is the benefit of controlling anger?

Obtaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There is no sip greater in reward near Allah than the sip of anger; the servant suppresses it seeking the pleasure of Allah.” (Ibn Majah)

Why has Allah (swt) kept anger in us?

To change things around, we need the energy of anger. Sometimes one in anger does those things that one could not have done otherwise. Allah (swt) has kept anger in our hearts for stopping the wrong – Jihad against evil is the best expression of positive anger. The Prophet (sa) said:Whoever amongst you sees an evil, should change it with his hand. If he is unable to do that, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do that, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of Iman.” (Muslim)

Anger needs to be channeled properly, because one cannot stop it from coming. Expressing anger at the right time, in the right way, and at the right level can be beneficial.

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The strong is not the one, who overpowers in wrestling, but the strong one is he, who controls himself in anger.” (Bukhari)

Abuse to Earth – Are we Accountable for it?

Vol 4-Issue 1 Abuse to the EarthI was inspired to write this article, when my 5 year old son informed me about celebrating the Earth Day at school. It is common perception that scientists, researchers, climatologists, environmentalists, and economists must resolve the problems plaguing our planet. We are most content and stay aloof, thinking it to be someone else’s job, or worst, someone else’s challenge to fix everything that has gone wrong.

I was surprised to learn that the Quran has addressed ways to handle ecological issues in about 500 verses. And why not? If the Creator can give us laws for our spiritual guidance, won’t He equip us with the knowledge of physical well-being of humanity.

Some concerned green activists have been harping that it is the responsibility of the inhabitants of the Earth to protect and preserve its resources. Most of their laments have fallen upon deaf ears, and the Earth continues to ail. Islam goes a step further. Yes, Muslims out there, please, read this carefully. We are not just responsible but accountable for the resources we are expending in this world.

Allah (swt) states: “The sun and the moon run on their fixed courses (exactly) calculated with measured out stages for each (reckoning). And the herbs (or stars) and the trees both prostrate themselves (to Allah). And the heaven: He has raised it high, and He has set up the balance. In order that you may not transgress (due) balance. And observe the weight with equity and do not make the balance deficient.” (Ar-Rahman 55:5-9).

“And do not do mischief on the Earth after it has been set in order; that will be better for you, if you are believers.” (Al-Araf 7:85)

Al Hafiz B. A. Masri, an environmentalist, author, and the first Sunni Muslim to be appointed Imam of the Shah Jehan Mosque Woking, Surrey, states: “Mankind’s freedom of choice, based on knowledge and intelligence, places on it the added responsibility of caring for the rest of God’s creation and for those very resources of nature, which help all kinds of life to stay alive.”

Another reason, why Allah (swt) has enabled the humans to serve the Earth, is because of the special and superior qualities bestowed upon them, of which concept of ethics reigns supreme. Allah (swt) states: “By Nafs (Adam or a person or a soul) and Him, Who perfected him in proportion; then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him” (Ash-Shams 91:7-8)

The laws of nature have been laid down and enforced by Allah (swt), as this universe was His scheme. So, naturally He knows, what is required to run it most efficiently. Allah (swt) thus provided resources with due measure. Unfortunately, until a few centuries ago, it was believed that the space on the Earth was limitless and that its resources were endless. This led to wasteful usage of scarce and some non-renewable resources, ending up either in severe corruption or absolute exhaustion.

The lives of early Muslims bear evidence that the right to the use of natural resources is only in the sense of usufruct, which means being given the right to use another person’s property on the understanding that he will not damage, destroy or waste what is in his trust. The Quran states: “… and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly, He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those, who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Prophet (sa) said: “The merit of utilization lies in the benefit it yields, in proportion to its harm.” (Tirmidhi)

There is an Islamic legislation on the preservation of trees, plants, and the wildlife laid down some fourteen hundred years ago. According to these laws, certain areas, called Harim or Hima, are set aside, where development and cultivation is prohibited. The code of ecological legislation was based on numerous verses of the Quran and Ahadeeth, such as: “The world is green and beautiful, and God has appointed you as His stewards over it. He sees, how you acquit yourselves.” (Muslim)

Similarly, to preserve the habitats of animals, Allah (swt) clearly states: “There is not a moving (living) creature on Earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you…” (Al-Anam 6:38)

Allah’s Apostle (sa) says: “A good deed done to a beast is as good as doing good to a human being; while an act of cruelty to a beast is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being.” (Mishkat)

Allah (swt) repeatedly draws our attention to the fact that plants and animals, just like human beings, need to be protected, in order for them to reproduce themselves and preserve their species. But it is a common knowledge that numerous species of animals are on the verge of extinction or have already been eliminated, due to nefarious designs of humans.

Forests are supposed to cover a third of the planet to regulate the world climate, keep the air clean of lethal gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, and provide us with medicines for chronic diseases. But human driven deforestation has tipped the balance of world climate, resulting in global warming and related miseries.

Islam really seems like an extremist’s way of life, when one reads the Hadeeth concerning mount Uhud close to Makkah: “It is a mountain that loves us and we love it” (Bukhari), or when on the occasion of an earthquake, Allah’s Apostle (sa) addressed it: “Be calm, Uhud!” (Bukhari) Such was the character of our role model, who respected, loved, and cared for anything created by Allah (swt), even if it were rocks and stones.

I sincerely pray to Allah (swt) that my child extends his duties as a responsible and accountable Muslim by taking care of his environment beyond his classroom in all the capacity he can. Let him live by our beloved Prophet’s (sa) example, who advised: “A true believer is one, who does not hurt others with his thoughts, words, or actions.” (Bukhari)

 

Allah’s (swt) Prophecy Comes True!

“Corruption has appeared over land and water on account of what man’s hands have earned.” (Ar-Rum 30:41)

Some leading cosmologists state that the Earth is 4,600 million years old. It has an estimated land area of 329 million hectares, out of which only 226 million hectares are available for use. The remaining 103 million are either barren, or inaccessible, or unsuitable for agriculture.

Similarly, three quarters of the Earth are covered by water, 98% of which is sea water, and 1% of which is in the form of ice. Thus 99% of the Earth’s water cannot be used directly for human consumption. It is only 1% of the total water supply that living beings depend upon.

Regretfully, the existing 226 million hectares of land and 1% of water are diminishing fast, because of our wasteful and unwise usage. There are vast hectares of land that are turning into deserts or being flooded. Pakistan is already witnessing this disaster.

Source: “Islam and Ecology” by Fazlun Khalid and Joanne O Brien

Hajj – A Personal Reflection

Vol 4-Issue 1 Hajj- A personal reflectionYou read about it, attend classes, talk to people who have been there, see it on TV, but nothing, nothing can prepare you for the first encounter with the Kabah.

Arriving at Jeddah airport, you are prepared for waiting at immigration, for the bus to take you to Makkah, for the traffic along the way. No problem. Your heart skips a beat, as you pass the sign on the road reading ‘Muslims only.’ You are now in the vicinity of the Haram. Did I say ‘Alhamdulillah’? I had heard this in Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s cassette and had resolved to say so.

Reciting the Talbiah is an energizer: “Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik, Labbaika La Shareeka Laka Labbaik. Innal Hamda wan Naimata Laka Wal Mulk. La Shareeka Lak.” The men on the bus recite it out loud and you get goose bumps. “Here I am, Allah, here I am.” It gets surreal from here on.

It’s just after Isha. Our group organizer advises us to leave our luggage in the bus and walk to Masjid-e-Haram for Umrah. We get off amidst a multitude of people. Are these all Muslims? Wow! But focus is somewhere else right now. Where’s the Kabah? You waited patiently all this time, but now find yourself struggling with the temptation to push to go ahead quickly. Patience, patience. Pulse rate is rising, you are disoriented and totally overwhelmed by the pulsating crowds and atmosphere.

Reaching the gates of Masjid-e-Haram, you remind yourself not to forget the Dua. Shoes off – “Assalatu wassalamu a’la Rasool Allah, Allahummaftahlee abwaba rahmatik” – you enter and inch your way to the centre. Feet firm on the cold marble floor, but the heart racing ahead. The arches of the mosque restrict the view of the Kabah; you strain your neck in desperation. And then the moment comes – finally, face to face with your Qibla: “Here I am, Allah, here I am.”

There’s something about that simple cube draped in a black cloth that makes the surrounding grand mosque with its towering minarets and the thousands of people in it just melt away. Your ‘I’ stumbles to ground zero in awe, your eyes water with the sheer honor of being there, with fear of blowing what might be your only chance of redemption, with feelings too deep and too personal to describe in mere words or to share with anyone other than The One.

8th of Zil Hajj plunges you head on into Hajj.

You become part of something infinitely bigger than your puny little self. Your heart swells with emotion to see the ‘us’ – Muslims of all colors and races. We may not know each other’s language elsewhere, but walking from Muzdalifah to Mina, everyone understands each other, when saying the Talbiah out loud. When ‘we’ speak the language of our Lord, ‘we’ are no longer ’them.’

Hajj seems a microcosm of life. The challenge is to find your centre and plug it in the source, while fumbling with the logistics of getting from Mina to Arafat, then Muzdalifah and back to Mina and Makkah. The key is to stick to the Sunnah of Ibrahim (as) and Rasoolullah (sa) and not to lose your cool or focus.

In our day to day life, Tauheed and Kufr are so woven together that often our senses get blurred. In the Harmain – Masjid-e-Haraam and Nabwee – because Allah’s (swt) presence is so vivid and tangible, in contrast, the presence of Shaitan is starkly visible. Step out of the mosque in Makkah and a glittering shopping mall is in your face. In Medina, the gold shops don’t shut even at Tahajjud! The devil is at Allah’s (swt) doorsteps. It is a chilling reminder – his promise to Allah (swt) was not in vain. Are we taking heed of the warnings of our Book and the Prophet (sa)?

Voicing Their Silence

Vol 4-Issue 1 Voicing their SilenceImagine landing at an airport in a remote corner of Europe. At the immigration counter, you are bombarded with questions in a language you’ve never heard before. You try to communicate with the immigration officer the best you can, but he just doesn’t seem to understand. In fact, even the people queued behind you seem to be unable to comprehend your language and start getting irritated by the hold up. Eventually, the officer pulls you aside, so he may deal with the others in line. You stand there feeling helpless, angry, and humiliated. This feeling would give you an inkling of what most deaf people often feel, when dealing with the ‘normal’ people.

Difficult enough as it is to live among the ‘hearing,’ finding a decent job is almost impossible. Unfortunately, Karachi has very little to offer its hearing impaired citizens, other than a few schools teaching the universal sign language. Now, KFC Pakistan endeavors to bring them into the work arena for proving to the public that they are an able and capable task force. KFC has opened an outlet dedicated and operated by the hearing impaired.

This KFC outlet is specially equipped to be run by the hearing impaired – for instance, the bells, which are used to alert a cook, have been replaced with flashing lights. This outlet does more than give the deaf a vocation; it seeks to educate its customers about bridging the communication gap between them. The walls are decorated with images displaying the signs for such simple phrases as “thank you “and “I don’t understand”. The menus at the counter show the orders with the images of items and their sign language equivalents, so a customer may simply point out his desired meal, and for less inhibited, ‘sign’ the order.

Setting up a facility, which caters to their vocational needs, doesn’t mean that things have been smooth sailing for KFC’s team of 32 hearing impaired. Vigorous training to run the restaurant and serve the customers cannot build the courage and confidence they need to deal with ‘normal’ hearing customers. “They have had to deal will all kinds of customers,” explains Ahsan Farhan Naqvi, assistant business manager at the branch. There are those customers, who are very encouraging and specially come to dine here for supporting the staff; however, many have demonstrated much impatience, which naturally disheartens the team. In fact, a number of the initial hearing impaired team quit soon after the restaurant launched.

Currently, the outlet has some ‘hearing’ members, who supervise the running of the outlet and do deliveries. As learning sign language takes some time, they have been provided by communicators proficient in the language to act as mediators amongst the team and customers when necessary. Many from the hearing team are keenly learning the sign language through their everyday interaction with the rest of the team. But in the forefront at the counters, you will be greeted by a smile from the hearing impaired.

Ahsan explains that the KFC Gulshan branch team consists of educated and very capable young people. They can operate computers, fix electrical equipment, and have been handling most of the branch’s maintenance work as well. Karachi is lacking in opportunities for them, which is why they are thankful to KFC for providing them with the platform to bring about a positive change for the future generations.

Furthermore, KFC also offers its hearing impaired team career growth opportunities. As they strengthen their capabilities within the branch, they can apply for positions further up the KFC career ladder, just like any other ‘hearing’ employee. This symbolizes KFC’s promise of not making distinctions among its employees, which is difficult for most organizations dealing with the deaf.

Most organizations, in fact, are unwilling to take on the challenge of setting up a work environment conducive to the needs of the deaf at all, and many of the hearing impaired themselves hesitate to go out of their own home environments. Ahsan explains that though the schools for the deaf teach them sign language, they do not help build a strong command of reading and writing Urdu and English. This handicap decreases their chances of securing any meaningful employment.

Bringing this hearing impaired team together was not as easy as simply putting an ad in the papers. Forms for potential employees were initially sent to the “Deaf Reach Centre” (which teaches computer literacy) that eventually circulated them to other schools for the deaf. The response was slow at first. Many of the deaf, like most young people, were initially anxious to take on the world. However, their first interaction with the real world had been so daunting that they hesitated to consider this to be a true opportunity. Currently, though, there are over a hundred applications in pending, Alhumdulillah.

There are many young and proficient individuals out there, who can see, think, read, and write but just can’t hear our language. They need jobs. KFC has taken the lead in improving their futures, and others need to follow through for expanding their horizons. Allah (swt) has said: ”Who is he that will lend Allah (swt) a goodly loan, so that He may multiply it to him many times? And it is Allah (swt) that decreases or increases (your provisions), and unto Him you shall return”(Al-Baqarah 2: 245). A little investment in this world to overcome our handicap – our inability to communicate with the deaf, which can give us great returns in this world and the Hereafter. Insha’Allah (swt).

 

Islam Encourages Working in Spite of Disabilities

Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum (rta) was one of the early converts to Islam – a Sahabah, Muezzin, Muhajir, and governor of Madinah. He even bore the standard for Muslims during Jihad. He did all this in spite of his handicap – he was blind. He would, in fact, speak of his handicap as an advantage by saying: “Place me between two rows and give me the standard. I will carry it for you and protect it, for I am blind and cannot run away.” The Prophet Muhammed (sa) and his Ummah respected and accepted him as he was – a man worthy of honor.

Islam in Latvia

Vol 4-Issue 1 Islam in latviaRiga, Brivibas Street 104 – the only mosque in Latvia. Actually, not a mosque in the traditional sense – just an apartment adapted for the needs of a mosque. Islam is an unwelcomed stranger in Latvia – often misunderstood and not very much liked.

I felt good in the mosque, listening to the Khutbah in Russian by Imam Mamoon, a tall Sudanese, who serves the needs of Muslims in the capital. Didn’t meet any Latvian speaking woman but received warm welcome from the Tatar and Russian ladies, who invited me to partake in a modest meal as soon as I entered. I was later told that also Latvian girls do come to the mosque – mostly married to Muslim foreigners. On the men’s side, however, I heard voices speaking Russian, Latvian, and English.

Muslim, therefore unwanted – such intolerant view is wide spread in the Latvian society, as nearly half of the population (45% of Latvians and 41% of minorities) admit that they would not wish to see Muslims as their neighbors. This harsh judgment is shaped partly by the history of this country and partly by the global events of the last decade.

The first presence of Muslims in Latvia was registered in 1838, although the first official congregation was formed much later – in 1902. Ever since the beginnings, Muslim congregations have had close ties with Tatar, Uzbek and Azerbaijan minorities’ organizations, because the culture of these nations was historically based in Islam. Thus, this ethnic and religious difference automatically labeled Muslims as ‘the others’ in the broader mostly Christian scene of Latvia.

The historic injustice of the Soviet Occupation after the Second World War added to the dislike towards Muslims. Fifty years long Soviet period brought to Latvia a large influx of unwelcomed immigrants from the Asian republics. Feeling the pressure on the national identity, the locals developed a reasonable aversion towards the immigrants.

9/11 changed the whole world – Latvia was not an exception. Such juicy epithets as ‘Islamic terrorists,’ ‘Islamic radicals,’ and ‘Islamic extremists’ flooded the media and resulted in associating with Islam nearly every possible kind of atrocities. If Islam was in the news, it meant explosions or suicide bombers. The good news, however, is that in all the years Muslims reside in Latvia, no act of violence has been registered on their account.

Since Latvia joined the European Union, a new phobia has surfaced – the fear of repeated immigration floods, which could pose a serious threat to this small nation of only 2.4 million. Thus, anything ‘unusual’ has come to mean also ‘unwanted.’

However, despite the not so favorable setting in Latvia, the Muslim community is continuing to expand. Currently, the estimated numbers of Muslims in the country range from five to ten thousands. Seven existing Muslim congregations (five in the capital and two in other smaller cities) are united under the Latvian Muslim Organizations Association. In the recent years, Muslims have been working on obtaining the permission to build the first purpose-built mosque in Latvia. The translation of the Quran from Arabic into Latvian also is on the way.

Looking at the general scene of Islam in today’s Latvia, I am happy to see young, eager minds, who are ready to prove to the quite prejudiced locals that Islam is also for Latvians. As happy I am to see that the new generation of locals is more open to diversity than their parents used to be. May Allah (swt) bless this nation with the light of Islam, Ameen.

Travel Qatar

To license this image contact: Lonely Planet Images email: lpi@lonelyplanet.com.au phone: 61 3 8379 8181Explore the natural environment, take an exciting desert safari, relax at the many beaches and pool facilities, or enjoy your favorite sport. Whatever your interest, there is something for everyone.

Doha

Just like other cities in the Persian Gulf Region, Doha is an intriguing mixture of old and new. You’ll find fine modern architecture next to the traditional Arabic Soukhs (Bazaars) and more than 260 mosques, with the multiple-domed Grande Mosque being the largest. The traditional Dhow harbor is a favored attraction.

Historically, Doha was founded as Al Bida in 1850. The Al Wajbah fort is in the southwestern part of the city and was built by Al Rayyan in 1882. This fort witnessed the famous battle, in which the people of Qatar, led by Sheikh Qassim, beat the Ottomans in 1893. The Al Kout fort was built in 1917 by Sheikh Abdulla Bin Qassim Al Thani and lies in the center of the city. In 1949, the city began exporting oil. The House of Government opened in 1969 and is considered to be one of the nation’s most prominent landmarks. In 1971, it became the capital of an independent Qatar.

Education City

Education City is a major educational and cultural development in Qatar, housing some of the world’s finest academic institutions on a 7-million square-meters site. It positions Doha as a key centre for the advancement of the people of Qatar and other Gulf states. Scheduled for completion in 2008, Education City is already flourishing and providing world-class educational facilities from kindergarten through junior and secondary levels, to internationally recognized graduate and post-graduate studies and research programs.

Education City will include world-class facilities for business, community development, science, information technology, Islamic studies, media and communications, sports, as well as a 350-bed teaching hospital.

Media

The launch of Al-Jazeera TV in 1997 raised the profile of Qatari television. The station is outspoken on issues traditionally deemed as sensitive in the Arab world. Al-Jazeera, already popular in the Arab world, became known worldwide after becoming the only channel allowed to operate from Afghanistan. It plans to launch an English-language network, Al Jazeera International. Qatar formally lifted censorship of the media in 1995, and since then the press has been essentially free from government interference.

Sightseeing

National Museum

The National Museum consists of ten buildings, which contain one of the Gulf’s largest collections of ecological, ethnographic, and archaeological material. Five rooms are dedicated to the display of traditional Bedouin lifestyle with examples of costumes, arts and crafts, utensils, and tools. The museum’s main collection explores the country’s physical geography, geology, and architectural finds.

The marine section contains an underground aquarium, which houses a wide variety of fish, coral, and shells. This section also tells the story of Qatar’s traditional boat-building methods, as well as pearl-diving and fishing industry, which were an important part of the country’s economy before the discovery of oil.

Cruises and Water Sports

Sailing is a wonderful pastime and several private companies offer dinghies and windsurfers for rent, as well as sailing lessons for both novice and experienced sailors. A sunset cruise on a traditional dhow in Doha Bay provides a stunning view of Doha at night, while luxury yachts can be rented for half- and full-day fishing trips. There are both jet-skiing and water-skiing rentals, as well as pedal boats, water cycle, and Kayak. And for the extremely adventurous: parasailing, surfing, or wind-surfing.

Golfing

For the enthusiastic golfer, a visit to the Doha Golf Club is an absolute must. This 18-hole, 7,181-yard, par 72 championship course was designed by Peter Harradine and has hosted major international golfing championships.

Desert Safari

A trip to the inland sea in the middle of the desert is a splendid way to spend the day. Experienced tour operators add to the adventure by expertly steering their four-wheel drive vehicles up and down 60-metre sand dunes. As you travel over the sand dunes, take in the view of the desert and listen closely to the sands shift, as you descend down the slopes.

Conclusively, Qatar has aggressive plans of progress and development in trade, tourism, education, and state of the art infrastructure. It is a highly recommended destination for holidays. When you plan your next vacation, check it out for yourself!

Just how Harmful is Anger to one’s Health?

By Uzma Jawed

It’s extremely hot, the car’s air-condition isn’t working, and you are stuck in traffic. The traffic slowly starts moving, but for some reason the car in front of you doesn’t. You slowly feel the tension build up, and you start honking and screaming at the car in front of you. Later, when you walk across a busy street, someone bumps into you accidentally, and you start screaming and pushing that person.

We all face situations like this. Everyone feels angry at times due to life stresses, such as financial problems, marital problems, health problems, etc. For some, if anger occurs too frequently, lasts too long or intensifies, it can affect them physically, mentally, spiritually, and psychologically.

Anger is a powerful emotion, and a myriad of research shows that it can have disparaging results on human health. It can impair our cardiovascular system, have an impact on our immune system, brain, weight, and even cause skin and hair problems.

Cardiovascular system

In his book “Forgive for Good,” Dr. Frederic Luskin says that certain enzymes are released during anger and stress, which causes cholesterol and blood pressure levels to go up. Sue Meyers, a family sociologist, explains in her article that anger triggers the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. This causes the adrenal glands to release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. The brain then diverts the blood away from the gut towards the major muscle groups. This causes heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration to increase. Furthermore, at times of anger, pulse rate rises above its normal level leading to higher blood pressure in the arteries, hence, causing a greater chance of a heart attack.

An article called “Anger is Hostile to Your Heart,” published in the Harvard Gazette, further proved that irritable old men had three times the risk of heart disease than their more steady peers. Moreover, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine suggested that anger and hostility can provoke the creation of inflammatory proteins, which may, in turn, cause the hardening of the arteries, causing heart disease and stroke.

Scientists of the John Hopkins University at Baltimore have also found that short-tempered men have a higher risk of heart attack, even if there is no family history of health problem.

Immune system

Our immune system also becomes more vulnerable at times of stress, since the rush of cortisol overpowers the white blood cells and makes them less responsive to pathogens, hence, increasing chances of bacterial and viral infections. Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine state that chronic stress delays wound healing from 24% to 40%.

Weight

When cortisol and insulin escalate during periods of stress, so does our desire for food. We crave more carbohydrates and sugary foods, as they temporarily reduce the stress levels. As the levels of cortisol remain high even when stress levels go down, we tend to keep eating, even if we are not hungry. As a result – we get fat.

Skin / Hair

The article “Distress Signals” in the Weekend also mentions that anger and stress can release hormones that fuel the overproduction of the sebaceous gland. This can result in hair loss as well as dull and lifeless hair. The oiliness produced by these glands can also block pores, hence, causing pimples and acne.

Psychological symptoms

Some psychological and behavioral symptoms that have also been correlated to anger include: panic attacks, reactive depression, confusion, tearfulness, irritability, and obsession. These are the results of an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Hence, if a person does not identify the root of his anger for controlling or redirecting it, he can cause great damage to himself and others around him.

Medicine for Anger

Avoid being too sensitive to provocation. Divert yourself.

“Speak, when you are angry, and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This quote by Ambrose Bierce shows us the advantages of controlling our anger and temper, and redirecting our mind from upsetting feelings. In this way, we can have peace of mind instead of a conflict. An effective method, which Prophet Muhammad (sa) once taught a man, was to take a sip of water and not swallow it, while he was angry with his wife. A couple of months later, the man came back to the Prophet (sa) and told him that it had worked.

We should be quick to listen and slow to speak. As we have two ears and one mouth, we should use them proportionally.

If you feel out of control, walk away from the situation, until you cool down.

Try to identify the problem and think of possible strategies to solve the situation.

Use relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or reading a book.

Do regular exercise, as this will help increase your tolerance level.

Inspiration from the Quran 

It has also been revealed in the Quran that forgiveness is a superior moral trait: “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would tryly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:43)

For that reason, believers are forgiving, compassionate, and tolerant people “who repress anger, and who pardon men.” (Al-Imran 3:134)

“Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (An-Nur 24:22)

“The recompense for an evil is an evil like thereof; but whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allah.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (At-Taghabun 64: 14)

One of the divine attributes of Allah (swt) is patience. The Quran says: “…and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

Sabr in Arabic has a richer meaning than the word patience. It means to stop oneself from despairing and panicking. Additionally, it means to stop one’s tongue from complaining and controlling one’s rage in times of stress. As Javed Mohammad, the author of “Riding the Roller Coaster,” elaborates, it encompasses holding back, as well as moving forward with courage and perseverance.

Conclusively anger is detrimental to a person’s physical health as well as spiritual being. The myth of ‘letting out the steam’ is just that – a myth. It has never helped anyone stay in good shape and acquire a positive frame of mind. So just get rid of those angry thoughts that instigate negative reactions. There is so much more to do than waste precious moments of life!

Taking the Bully by the Horns

Vol 4-Issue 1 Taking the bully by the HornsA bully is someone, who uses his strength to intimidate others.

There are many situations that parents dread, one of which is discovering that their child is/was the victim of bullying. Bullies can be not just other children but also a child’s supposed friends or even teachers.

What should you do as a parent of a bullied child?

The most important step a parent can take is to reassure the child that it is not his fault. Teach your child to be proud of any differences in himself that he may be conscious of. Clarify that many of the world’s successful people did not get where they are by being the same as everyone else.

A natural parent’s initial reaction is that of anger and wants to confront the bully, or to approach the parents of the bully. This could create more problems for your child and yourself. If the bully is aggravated, it may fuel his or her intent for further harming your child. If the bully comes from a violent home, you too could find yourself on the receiving end of some unwanted harassment. Let the school take the responsibility of contacting the parent(s) of the bully.

Assess the seriousness of the situation. Sometimes, a harmless tiff can be blown out of proportion. Before you know it, the children are friends again, when you and the other parents are still at war.

Inform your child’s school, but first ask your child, whether she would prefer to speak to a tutor or the principal. If necessary, ask the school to protect your anonymity. Sometimes, the best way to expose a bully is for the teachers to catch him or her red-handed.

Find out what the school’s current bullying policy is and how the school intends to monitor the situation.

Teach your child strategies for dealing with the bullying. Tell your child to stay in a group when at all possible, and to let you know exactly, where he is going and with whom. Enroll him in a self-defense class, not as a method of harming the bully, but as a means of defending himself. If the bullying is verbal, tell your child to confront the bully by saying: “Please don’t call me that again. It’s cruel and hurtful.”

Encourage your child to feel comfortable talking to you, a teacher, or a counselor and to report every incident of bullying confidently.

Ask your child to keep a dated diary of events to share with you. On your own side, make your own record of incidents, including any mood swings or emotional and physical effects that you notice in your child, as they may be attributed to bullying.

How can schools take ownership?

Schools that are committed to implementing comprehensive bullying prevention programs should take the following steps:

  • Establish a committee for developing the school’s bullying policy and coordinating bullying prevention activities.
  • Survey students about bullying.
  • Establish a clear policy prohibiting bullying and then communicate that policy to students, staff, and parents.
  • Provide close and adequate supervision of areas, where bullying is likely to occur, such as: outside the classroom, in the hallway, at the bus stop, on the playground, in the cafeteria, and bathrooms.
  • School personnel need training on recognizing the signs of bullying, knowing what to do, when incidents happen, and learning, how to prevent bullying.
  • School-wide anti-bullying activities help remind students about school policy regarding bullying and the importance of supporting their classmates. In addition, they help generate energy for the program.
  • Integrate bullying lessons and activities into the classroom curriculum. This might include conducting a lesson about bullying, asking students to read a book about bullying, which can be followed up with a classroom discussion, or having a classroom meeting focused on the issue of bullying.
  • Empower bystanders to support the victims of bullying. Although school staff members often are unaware that bullying is taking place, typically, other students are not only aware of it but are present, when the incidents occur. Bystanders to bullying can play a crucial role in helping to address the problem.
  • Involve parents in the program. Parents need to be informed about the school’s policies regarding bullying, and they need to be encouraged to reinforce that policy with their children. Schools also might survey parents to elicit their views and knowledge about bullying in school. Parents also need to be informed, if their child has bullied, or has been bullied by another child.
  • Pay special attention to students, who are at risk. Students are more likely to be bullied, if they’re isolated from their classmates, in special education programs, have a physical characteristic that makes them stand out from their peers, or are new to the school.
  • Take reports of bullying seriously and act quickly. Encourage staff to respond to all reports of bullying that come to their attention. An incident that might appear minor to a teacher can loom large in the life of a student.

Can I Trust You?

In this article, the third in a series of articles on work ethics, Sumaira Dada discusses the importance of honesty in the workplace

A Pakistani bank executive wrote about his experience of the Far East work ethics. He noticed, how there people slogged at work, finished assignments within office hours and left work at 5 pm. In Pakistan, however, he was used to tea breaks, friendly chit chats, and long hours at the office. And at the end of the day, the amount of work done was much less compared to the number of work hours. Are you wondering about the reason for such inefficiency?

Take another case: a textile company has shipment deadlines to meet for its foreign client. Cutting corners, the company purchases low quality material, but manages to deliver on time. The consignment is rejected for not meeting specifications, and both the company and the country earn a bad name. Sound familiar?

Why is it that talk about honesty and trustworthiness are disdained? Let’s look at what Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) have to say about it.

Allah (swt) says: “Verily, Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due.” (An-Nisa 4:58)

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:27)

Prophet (sa) says:

Anas bin Malik (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) addressed us and said in his sermon: ‘He has no Iman, who is not trustworthy, and he has no Deen, who does not keep promises.’” (Ibn Hibban)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays (proves to be dishonest).’” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Return the trust to one, who has entrusted you, and do not be treacherous to one, who was treacherous to you.’” (Abu Dawood)

Safeguarding your trust is important

It is clear that in the light of the Quran and the Ahadeeth, one cannot afford to slack about building up honesty and trustworthiness in oneself. First, we must understand the meaning of trust (Amanah).

What is Trust (Amanah)?

A simple definition is that every entrusted thing is an Amanah. This covers not only office duties, but also office hours, your skills and abilities, your clients, and even your own health – physical and spiritual.

The opposite of Amanah is Khiyanah, which means lessening or decreasing, in short, betrayal.

Does honesty pay off?

Most people would consider honesty as being another word for stupidity. But research shows that honesty does pay off. A study of the US market found that the three-year total return to shareholders was almost three times higher at companies with high trust levels. However, most employees did believe that trustworthiness in the workplace has seriously declined. In one study, more than half of those polled said that they considered hypocrisy as the biggest problem in corporate America today, and that the upper levels of management are to blame.

Although facts and figures have their importance, yet risking Allah’s (swt) dislike is really not worth it. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Certainly Allah likes not the treacherous.” (Al-Anfal 8:58)

Is being trustworthy an unachievable goal?

If Allah (swt) and the Prophet (sa) have emphasized the importance of trustworthiness, then it is an achievable goal. In Muslim history, we will find the example of Umar Bin Abdul Aziz, the celebrated Umayyad Caliph, whose empire stretched from the shores of the Atlantic to the highlands of Pamir. His short rule is regarded as the brightest period in the 91-year Caliphate of the Umayyads. He was once sitting in his private chamber, examining a pile of state documents. When his wife sought to discuss a private matter with him, he asked her to put off the state lamp and put on their own lamp, as he did not want to burn the state oil for private purposes! According to “Tabaqat Ibni Sa’ad”, Umar bin Abdul Aziz never performed his private work in the light of a lamp, which burned the state oil.

Another incident also shows the utter honesty of the Caliph. Every Friday, Farat Bin Muslama brought state papers for his perusal and orders. One Friday, the Caliph brought a small piece of state paper in his private use. Muslama, who was aware of the exceptional honesty of the Caliph, thought that he had done it out of sheer forgetfulness. But the following Friday, when he brought back home the state papers, he found in them exactly the same size paper as used by the Caliph.

Once the Caliph’s servant burnt the firewood in the guest house (funded by the state treasury) to heat water for ablution. He had the same quantity of firewood deposited in its place. On another occasion, he refused to use the water heated from the state charcoal. Skeptics might frown at these incidents as being fictitious; nevertheless, they are facts on the deeds of our pious predecessors, enough to bring us to shame.

How do I become trustworthy?

The following tips might be helpful:

  • Remind yourself that Allah (swt) does not love those who betray (Al-Anfal 8:58). Keep constant reminders that you will be questioned about whatever you are entrusted with.
  • Make prayer for help from Allah (swt). Read the Quran regularly and study Ahadeeth to develop trustworthiness. We learn from the following Hadeeth:
  • Hudhaifah (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said to us: ‘Certainly, Al-Amanah descended from the heavens and settled in the roots of the hearts of men (faithful believers), and then the Quran was revealed, and the people read the Quran, and also learnt it from the Sunnah.’” (Bukhari)
  • Realistically assess, whether you are able to handle the task given to you. Discuss your apprehensions with your supervisor.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no,’ when you feel that you cannot realistically meet a deadline.

Dealing with Bad Language

Hammer hitting nail on the head.When your child goes to school, his exposure to the outside world widens. By this age, he has also realized the existence of words so mean and powerful that grownups usually reserve them only for the really frustrating moments.

What to do about swearing?

Keep your cool: Remember that children are capable of goading you into angry reactions. By losing your temper, you play right into their hands. Instead, calmly and matter-of-factly remind them that certain words are off-limits.

Be specific: “Don’t ever use language like that!” doesn’t work as well as something more precise, such as: “We don’t use that word in this house.”

Invoke consequences: If your child persists after being warned, then apply disciplinary tactics, such as withdrawal of privileges. Whatever you do, be consistent. Don’t chuckle at your child’s quick tongue one day and punish him for it the next.

Suggest alternatives: Explain to your grade-schooler that instead of swearing when angry, he could punch a pillow.

Establish house rules about swearing and follow them yourself: Make sure you don’t use the words forbidden to your children.

Look for signs of trouble: An increase in foul language or cursing that no amount of guidance seems to curtail may be a cue that something is wrong. Your child could be carrying around excessive anger or might be upset about something that’s going on at school or in other areas of his life.

Ummul-Mumineen Sauda (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Sauda

Father: Zama bin Qays

Mother: Shamoos binte Qays

Clan: Quraish

Tribe: Aamer bin Lawee

Birth: Not known

Death: 22 Hijri

Sauda binte Zama binte Qays (rta) was the second wife of the Prophet (sa). The death of Khadija (rta) had left the Prophet (sa) grief stricken and lonely. Khawlah, (rta) wife of Uthman bin Mazoon (rta), suggested to the Prophet (sa) that he needed a companion to help him run his house and look after his children. She proposed the name of Sauda (rta).

Sauda (rta) and her first husband Sakrtan bin Umro were among the first converts to Islam. They were forced to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to escape persecution of the Makkans.

Sauda returned home after many years. Her husband had died, and she was now living with her aged father. She was middle-aged, rather plump, with a jolly, kindly disposition, and just the right person to take care of the Prophet’s (sa) household and family. So the Prophet (sa) agreed to send her a proposal. Khawla arranged the marriage, and Sauda (rta) came to the Prophet’s (sa) household on the 10th of Ramadan Nabawi.

Critics of Islam, who particularly target the Prophet’s (sa) personal life and character, have tried to suggest that Sauda (rta) was not treated well by him. As the Prophet’s (sa) Nikkah to Aisha (rta) followed immediately after his marriage to Sauda (rta), these hawks like to draw parallels in their relationships. The youthful Aisha (rta) is pitted against the elderly Sauda (rta), as if there was enmity and hostility between them. They try to sell a warped version of the truth that the Prophet (sa) cast Sauda (rta) aside in the favor of Aisha (rta) and threatened her with divorce. Hence, the poor old Sauda (rta) was cornered into giving her day with the Prophet (sa) to Aisha (rta)! Authentic sources present a completely different picture.

Ibn Kathir says: “There was great surprise in Makkah that the Prophet would choose to marry a widow, who was neither young nor beautiful. As Sauda aged, the Prophet became worried that she might be upset about having to compete with so many younger wives; therefore, he offered to divorce her. She said that she would give her night to Aisha (rta), of whom she was very fond, because she only wished to be the Prophet’s (sa) wife on the Day of Rising. She lived on until the end of Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s time. She and Aisha (rta) always remained very close.”

Aisha (rta) said: “Never did I find any woman more loving to me than Sauda bint Zama. I wished I could be exactly like her, who was passionate.” As she became old, she had made over her day (which she had to spend) with Allah’s Messenger (sa) to Aisha. She said: “I have made over my day with you to Aisha.” So Allah’s Messenger (sa) allotted two days to Aisha – her own day (when it was her turn) and that of Sauda. (Muslim)

The remarkable quality of women in wanting to please their husbands is unfathomable to most of us today, especially to those, who judge every selfless act in the cold light of their own business style relationships – I do this for you, so what is in it for me? And let’s not forget that Sauda’s (rta) husband was no ordinary person – he was the Prophet (sa). She willingly made sacrifices for the privilege of being Ummul-Mumineen and expected nothing in return in this life.

Such was her devotion to the Prophet’s (sa) word that according to Abu Huraira (rta), after his death, she never left her house for Hajj, as the Prophet (sa) had asked his wives not to leave their homes in the sermon of Hujjatul-Wida. Sauda (rta) and Zainab Binte Jahash (rta) practiced this verbatim.

Sauda (rta) made her husband laugh. Sometimes she would walk in such a peculiar way that the Prophet (sa) would be amused. Once, she told him: “Last night, I prayed behind you. You did such a long Ruku that I thought my nose would bleed, so I held my nose all the while.” The Prophet (sa) smiled on hearing this.

We see in her character a lovely combination of selflessness, obedience, and piety as well as endearing humor and simplicity. These are the traits every woman, especially a wife, should aspire for.

Are you in Control?

Vol 4-Issue 1 Are you in ControlChildren retort back at their parents disrespectfully. Friends argue and insult each other over trivial matters. Drivers gesture and abuse other drivers for imagined or real traffic goof-ups. Scenarios, similar or worse, are repeated in private and public places every day. Why is it that we are often unable to control our anger, while our beloved Prophet (sa) kept calm in times of personal injury or disrespect?

Narrated by Anas bin Malik (rta): “While I was walking with the Prophet, who was wearing a Najrani outer garment with a thick hem, a Bedouin came upon the Prophet and pulled his garment so violently that I could recognize the impress of the hem of the garment on his shoulder, caused by the violence of his pull. Then, the Bedouin said: ‘Order for me something from Allah’s fortune, which you have.’ The Prophet turned to him, smiled, and ordered that a gift be given to him.” (Bukhari)

We flare up at the slightest affront. Are we so preoccupied with our own self-worth that we cannot overlook personal inconvenience or harm, while being totally indifferent to any disobedience of Allah’s (swt) commands?

Our anger is focused on serving only our own petty purposes. In contrast is the way of Ali (rta), who during a fight was sitting on top of a disbeliever and was about to strike him dead, when the disbeliever spat in his face. Ali (rta) immediately stood up and spared him. When the perplexed man asked Ali (rta) for the reason, Ali (rta) replied that since he had no personal animosity towards him, had he killed him in a moment of anger for his spitting, he would have killed him to settle a personal score.

For learning to manage our anger, let’s first see, what anger is.

What is Anger?

According to psychologists, it is a natural emotion. Dr. Raymond Lloyd Richmond calls it “the wish for harm or bad or evil to come upon someone, who – in your eyes – has injured you.”

Anger is an evil whisper of Shaitan; it pushes us to hurt others and make them afraid, or makes them reciprocate in anger.

The intensity of anger varies from person to person. Although anger is a natural emotion, it is dangerous to let it loose. Just as any habit or behavior pattern can be learnt or unlearnt, so can anger.

Pre-Planning

We must prepare to counter anger, when we are calm and composed. Since anger is one of the ways the Shaitan manipulates our Nafs, the first effective step is to become closer to Allah (swt) through the Quran and the Sunnah. The more we strive to please Allah (swt), the more Taqwa (god-consciousness or fear of Allah (swt)) we will have. And the higher is a person’s Taqwa, the more mastery he has over his Nafs.

Reminders

Remind yourself and others of the Quran and Ahadeeth. Abu Hurairah (rta) reported that a man said to the Prophet (sa): “Advise me.” He said: “Do not become angry.” The man repeated his request several times, and each time the Prophet (sa) told him: “Do not become angry.” (Bukhari)

Anger-Control Plan

Seek refuge with Allah (swt)

The Prophet (sa) said: “If a man gets angry and says: ‘I seek refuge with Allah,’ his anger will go away.” (Mishkat)

Silence

At any time, when you feel anger surging, slow down and start speaking very softly, slowly, and gently. Or keep quiet.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent.” (Ahmad)

Forgiving completely

“…when they are angry, they forgive.” (Al-Shuraa 42:37)

Developing the ability of forgiving needs practice. Often, forgiving completely is the only salve for pain caused by others. We can try to erase all the hurt from our hearts for the sake of Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Remind yourself of the worst and most embarrassing incident of your life, for which you would want to be forgiven. Our imperfection facilitates forgiving others.

Developing self-control

Some argue that showing anger is a way to vent our emotions. However, most of the time when we express anger, it breeds more anger and makes us more agitated, instead of calming us down. If we control the initial attack of anger, it will become easier to stay collected.

“Research has shown that the ‘anger reflex’ lasts about one second. Beyond that, the angry person is doing something else: choosing to punish another person or vent personal frustrations – or perhaps that’s how he or she was taught to express anger.

Think of your responsibilities

As good Muslims, we must care for the kind of environment we nurture for ourselves and for those around us. One angry person makes tense the whole house, office, or family.

Sara let go of her anger habit by reminding herself that she is the model for her kids. Khalid let go of his terrible road-rage by realizing that his shouting and cursing could not be heard by other drivers and simply made him tense.

Think positive

When someone hurts you, think of something good this person has done for you. When you feel anger at circumstances or at nothing in particular, count all your blessings and look at the people more disadvantaged than yourself. Remember that all bad and good time is the will of Allah (swt).

Do the positive

When angry, stressed, or frustrated, perform Wudhu, offer Salah, do Dhikr, read the Quran, take long deep breaths, or exercise.

Make Dua

We cannot achieve any higher trait without the help of Allah (swt), so we must constantly ask Him to help us in controlling and managing our anger.

Avoid making others angry

Controlling anger means not only to control your own anger but also to avoid behavior that causes other people to become angry or hostile.

Avoid phrases and words that anger others, such as “Who do you think you are?”, “You always do …”, “You never…” etc. Speak softly and calmly.

Ridiculing a person, calling names or leg pulling is hurtful and makes people edgy. The Quran guides us: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames.” (Al-Hujarat 49:11)

Do not discuss concerns and problems with people, when they or you are tired, preoccupied, in a bad mood, or running late.

Arguing even if you are right is not recommended in Islam.

Reduce stress-inducing factors. Do one thing at a time, if you feel burdened with work, learn to say ‘no’ if you lack time, or physical, monetary, or mental energy to do something.

As emotion, anger is a test for us. We must not let it overpower us. May Allah (swt) help us deal with anger in the best possible ways, so that we earn Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Ameen.

Said ibn Zayd (rta)

Vol 4-Issue 1 Said Ibn Zayd raZayd (rta), the son of Amr, stood away from the Quraish crowd, as they celebrated one of their festivals. He watched as sacrificial animals, gaily caparisoned, were led out to slaughter before the Quraish idols. He shouted: “O people of Quraish! It is Allah, Who has created the sheep. He it is, Who has sent down rain from the skies, of which they drink, and He has caused fodder to grow from the earth, with which they are fed. Then even so you slaughter them in names other than His. Indeed, I see that you are an ignorant folk.”

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab, the father of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, seethed with anger: “Damn you! We still hear from you such stupidity. We have borne it until our patience is exhausted.” Al-Khattab then incited a number of violent people to harass and persecute Zayd (rta).

Before Muhammad’s (sa) call to the prophet hood, Zayd (rta) was one of the few men, known as Hanifs, who saw the idolatrous practices for what they were. He proclaimed that he worshipped the God of Ibrahim.

Zayd’s (rta) uncle Al-Khattab had him hounded and persecuted to the point, where he was forced to leave the valley of Makkah. He managed to enter Makkah only in secret. Finding it impossible to stay in Makkah, Zayd (rta) left the Hijaz and went as far as Mosul in the north of Iraq and from there southwest into Syria. Throughout his journeys, he always questioned monks and rabbis about the religion of Ibrahim. He found no satisfaction, until he came upon a monk in Syria, who is reported to have told him that the religion he was seeking did not exist any longer, but the time was now near, when God would send forth from his own people a Prophet, who would revive the religion of Ibrahim.

Zayd (rta) headed for Makkah, intending to meet the expected Prophet. As he was passing through the territory of Lakhm on the southern border of Syria, he was killed by a group of nomad Arabs, before he could set eyes on the Messenger (sa). However, before he breathed his last, he raised his eyes to the heavens and said: “O Lord, if You have prevented me from attaining this good, do not prevent my son from doing so.”

Allah (swt) heard the prayer of Zayd (rta). When Muhammad (sa) rose up inviting people to Islam, his son Said was in the forefront of those, who believed in the oneness of Allah (swt) and the prophet hood of Muhammad (sa).

Said was not yet twenty, when he embraced Islam. His wife Fatimah, daughter of Al-Khattab and sister of Umar, also accepted Islam early. Evidently, both Said and Fatimah managed to conceal their acceptance of Islam from the Quraish, especially from Fatimah’s family. She feared not only her father but also her brother Umar, who was brought up to venerate the Kabah and to cherish the unity of the Quraish and their religion.

Umar saw Islam as a threat to the Quraish and became most violent and unrestrained in his attacks on Muslims. He finally decided that the only way to put an end to the trouble was to eliminate the man who was its cause. Goaded on by blind fury, he took up his sword and headed for the Prophet’s house. On his way, he came face to face with a secret believer in the Prophet, who, seeing Umar’s grim expression, asked him, where he was going. “I am going to kill Muhammad…”

The believer sought to dissuade him from his intent but Umar was deaf to any arguments. He then thought of diverting Umar, in order to warn the Prophet (sa) of his intentions. “O Umar,” he said, “why not first go back to the people of your own house and set them to rights?” “What people of my house?” asked Umar. “Your sister Fatimah and your brother-in-law Said. They have both forsaken your religion and are the followers of Muhammad…”

Umar turned and made straight for his sister’s house. Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt, who often came to recite the Quran to Said (rta) and Fatimah (rta), was with them then. When they heard Umar’s voice, Khabbab hid in a corner of the house, and Fatimah (rta) concealed the manuscript. But Umar had heard the sound of their reading and when he came in, he said to them: “What is this Haynamah (gibbering) I heard?”

They tried to assure him that it was only normal conversation, but he insisted: “Hear it I did,” he said: “and it is possible that you have both become renegades.”

“Have you not considered whether the Truth is not to be found in your religion?” Said (rta) said to Umar, trying to reason with him. Instead, Umar set upon his brother-in-law hitting and kicking him as hard as he could. When Fatimah (rta) went to defend her husband, Umar (rta) struck her a blow on her face, which drew blood.

“O Umar,” said Fatimah (rta), and she was angry. “What if the truth is not in your religion? I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

When Umar (rta) saw Fatimah’s (rta) bleeding wound, he was sorry for what he had done. A change came over him, and he said to his sister: “Give me that script, which you have, that I may read it.” Fatimah (rta) replied: “You are impure and only the pure may touch it. Go and wash yourself or make ablution.”

Thereupon Umar (rta) went and washed himself, and she gave him the page with the opening verses of Surah Ta-Ha. When he reached the verse: “Verily, I – I alone – am God, there is no deity but me. So, worship Me alone, and be constant in prayer so as to remember Me,” he said: “Show me, where Muhammad is.”

Umar (rta) then made his way to the house of Al-Arqam, where he declared his acceptance of Islam. The Prophet (sa) and all his companions rejoiced.

Said (rta) and his wife Fatimah (rta) were, thus, the immediate cause leading to the conversion of the strong and determined Umar (rta), which substantially added to the power and prestige of the emerging faith.

Said ibn Zayd (rta) was totally devoted to the Prophet (sa) and the service of Islam. He witnessed nearly all the major campaigns and encounters, in which the Prophet (sa) engaged.

After the death of the Prophet (sa), Said continued to play a major role in the Muslim community. He was one of those, whom Abu Bakr (rta) consulted on his succession. He was also known for his courage and heroism. Said was ranked by the Prophet (sa) as one of the outstanding members of his generation. He was among those ten companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) promised Paradise.

Dear Haadia

I know parents have great rights in Islam but how far can they go in hitting children, insulting them in public and displaying anger whenever they want to? Please elaborate on a teenager’s rights to respect.

Answer: Alhumdulillah it is good to find you are aware of and in no means denying parents their rights. Unfortunately very little is said about the Islamic rights of children.

Parenting is not an easy job, but Islam has provided parents with several principles to follow when interacting with their young. The Islamic rights dues to all human beings in general is inclusive of teenagers, such as speaking to them kindly, not backbiting about them, keeping their secrets and dealing with them with honesty and justice.

Once, when the Prophet (sa) wanted to share a meal with those sitting around him, he turned to his right side first (as was his practice), to offer it to the child who sat beside him. On his left sat an older gentlemen, and so he sought the permission of the child to serve the older person first. When the child denied permission, he was served first. Our Prophet (sa) did not over look the child’s rights for that of the older person; rather he sought the child’s permission to give up his turn, and was treated in the same manner as any adult would have been.

Children also have rights of their own, Prophet Muhammad (sa) has said: “It is the right of children that their father provides them with a good education gives them a good name, and fulfills their duties according to their age and intellectual growth” (Bayhaqi)

The duties parents need to fulfill range from feeding them to advising them in all matters of Deen and Duniya. The Prophet (sa) advised, “Do not refrain from using pressure (of punishment) with a view to training them (children)” (Tirmidhi) Pressure does not mean brutally hitting them, as the Prophet Muhammad (sa) spoke strongly against hitting anyone in a manner which could cause injury, and he spoke of striking anyone’s face as Haraam. In fact, he spoke of beating children if they refused to pray once they reached the age of ten. (Bukhari), which many scholars interpret to mean that one should not strike a child for reasons which carry less weight than the refusal to pray.

Allah (swt) has commanded to ward off from ourselves and our families a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones (Tehreem 66:6), and the Prophet (sa) explained that each person is the shepherd of his flock (family). (Bukhari); Hence parents are both responsible and will be held accountable for their young. Consequently some parents may inadvertently appear too harsh towards their children. Others, on the other hand, may be too permissive. There is a story of a young thief who when caught said: “Before you cut off my hand cut out the tongue of my mother. When I committed theft for the first time and brought home an egg, my mother did not warn me or punish me; rather she said her son was a full grown man. Had she not said that I would not be the thief I am now.” This is obviously a situation that most parents try hard to avoid.

As a teenager, do bear in mind that it is difficult to modify one’s parent’s behavior, and the only one whose behavior can be controlled is our own, try to reflect more on the situation, do we speak harshly to our parents? Are we making an effort to show them respect? Are we fulfilling our responsibilities towards them? Or are we demanding our rights without giving them theirs? If so, be the first to give them their rights, it may take a while, but Insha’Allah eventually they will see you as one worthy of respect. Regardless, you will get rewarded by Allah (swt) for doing your duty. May Allah (swt) make it easy for you and aid you in your efforts towards building a happy and rewarding relationship with your parents.