Concept of Fun

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Concept of FunSome people prefer to shun all forms of enjoyment, labeling them as useless pastimes of this world; others believe that as long as they are observing basic religious rituals, they are free to lead their lives as they wish.

Sparkling lights, bright clothes and the sound of laughter bring to mind a scene of joy and celebration. Mouth-watering food, tasty desserts and singing and dancing complete the picture. However, sadly, in the merriment and gaiety we often forget Allah’s (swt) pleasure and exceed all limits of decency and moderation prescribed by Shariah. Contrary to what most people would think, piety is not the opposite of gaiety; rejoicing does not have to be un-Islamic; and most importantly, you can be a pious Muslim and yet be a source of cheerfulness, liveliness and joy to those around you.

To become such a Muslim, it is imperative to know what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) tell us about celebrating our moments of happiness.

Why do people celebrate?

A look at the festivals throughout the world gives us three major reasons for celebrations. Firstly, many people celebrate the change of seasons – Hindus, for instance, celebrate Holi and Basant at the onset of Spring. Secondly, there are those, who celebrate the birth of gods and goddesses – for example, the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia to honour Juno, the guardian of women and marriage. And thirdly, yet others celebrate historical events – for example, former Allied nations celebrate the Armistice Day as a reminder of victory against Germany and the Russian and Ottoman Empires in World War I.

Islamic celebrations, on the other hand, are not pinned down by the changes of seasons, or regional and local events. In fact, the two Islamic festivals (Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) are not related either to the Prophet’s (sa) life or any important victories in the Islamic history. Instead, these celebrations are deeply-rooted in the message brought to this world by the Prophet (sa). Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated after the month of Ramadan in gratefulness to Allah (swt) for having been able to complete a month of fasting. Eid-ul-Adha marks the Hajj rites and reminds Muslims of the sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) and Ismail (as). Rejoicing on these days becomes an act of worship, for the Prophet (sa) has said: “Indeed, for every nation there is a day of rejoicing, and this is our day of rejoicing.” (Bukhari)

Islam encourages rejoicing

According to a famous saying, “variety is the spice of life.” Therefore, it is but natural that we need some change in our daily lives for feeling refreshed and energized. Since Islam is a Deen that gives us guidelines on leading a natural life, it does not ignore this important aspect of human existence. Far from merely allowing celebration, Islam encourages rejoicing.

Allah (swt) says regarding the revelation of the Quran: “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); – therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Yunus 10:58)

Furthermore, at another point in the Quran, Allah (swt) asks the Prophet (sa) primarily, and the believers on a secondary level to proclaim the blessings that He has bestowed:

“And proclaim the Grace of your Lord (i.e. the Prophethood and all other Graces).”

(Ad-Duha 93:11)

Islamic celebrations and recreational activities

Apart from the two Eids, personal and national occasions also serve as permissible reasons to celebrate. Such personal occasions as marriage, the birth of a child, getting a new job, moving to a new house or getting a new car are some occasions for celebration. For young children, the starting of the recitation of the Quran and the completion of its recitation can also be reasons for celebration. Celebrating of such national occasions as the Independence Day also reminds us of the blessings of Allah (swt) granted in the form of an independent land where Islam can be practiced freely.

In a wider context, we find that Islam allows picnics, competitions and meaningful vacations. Prophet Yaqub’s (as) children, for example, went for a picnic, while the Companions of the Prophet (sa) engaged in dueling, camel-racing and archery – the Prophet (sa) even awarded prizes to the winners.

Meaningful vacations are also encouraged: “So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).” (An-Nahl 16:36)

Etiquettes of celebration

Some of the encouraged etiquettes of celebration are exchanging of gifts, singing, reciting of good poetry and indulging in good humour.

Concerning gifts, we know from Aisha (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) used to accept gifts and gave something in return. (Bukhari) In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), we find the Prophet (sa) advising Muslim women: “O Muslim women! None of you should look down upon the gift sent by her female neighbour, even if it were the trotters of the sheep (fleshless part of the legs).” (Bukhari)

From Ahadeeth we know that singing on joyful occasions is also permitted.

Aisha (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) came to my house, while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (sa) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then, Abu Bakr (rta) came and spoke to me harshly, saying: ‘Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (sa)?’ Allah’s Messenger (sa) turned his face towards him and said: ‘Leave them.’ When Abu Bakr (rta) became inattentive, I signaled to those girls to go out and they left.” (Bukhari)

Al-Rubayyi Bint Muawwidh reports: “The Prophet (sa) visited me on the night of my wedding, sitting not far from me. We had a number of maids playing the tambourine and singing poems in praise of my people, who were killed in the Battle of Badr. One of them said in her singing: ‘Among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen in future.’ The Prophet said to her: ‘Do not repeat this, but continue with what you were saying earlier.’” (Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood)

In the Prophet’s (sa) life, we find instances of good fun and humour. For example, we find him being playful with his wives.

Once, Aisha (rta) was talking very boldly with the Prophet (sa). Abu Bakr (rta) happened to come, and he grew so angry at his daughter’s behaviour that he wanted to beat her, but the Prophet (sa) prevented him. After Abu Bakr (rta) had left, he remarked: “See, how I saved you.” (Abu Dawood)

Limits set by Allah (swt)

Rejoicing and fun without limits is very likely to make harmless celebrations a source of worry and burden. Our beautiful Deen gives us guidelines regarding the boundaries that must be kept. Dr. Mahmood Ghazi, former president of the International Islamic University (Islamabad), highlights three major factors that need to be considered when rejoicing: modesty, moderation and keeping in mind the basic objectives of Shariah.

Modesty

According to Imran Ibn Hussain (rta), the Prophet (sa) highlighted the excellence of modesty: “Haya (modesty, bashfulness, self-respect) does not bring anything except good.” (Bukhari)

Contrary to general understanding, modesty does not merely refer to an outward expression of chastity. Although codes of conduct regarding proper dress and interaction with the opposite gender are important, they are not the be-all and the end-all. Modesty should be entrenched in one’s nature, which is most apparent through body language and conversation. If properly dressed girls are singing lewd songs or dancing in an obscene manner, it cannot be called modest behaviour.

Ibn Abbas (rta) has narrated (on the authority of Abu Hurairah (rta)) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Allah has written for Adam’s son his share of adultery, which he commits inevitably. The adultery of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it.” (Bukhari)

Moderation

Allah (swt) has asked the believers not to be wasteful or extravagant: “O Children of Adam! …eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf 7:31)

Spending on permissible acts beyond what is necessary constitutes extravagance, while squandering wealth or any other blessing of Allah (swt) would mean spending on what Allah (swt) has prohibited, even if it means spending only a rupee. In the latter case, one can seek a scholar’s help to understand what is allowed, while in the former situation, one has to decide subjectively, what is necessary and what goes beyond that.

Being mindful of Shariah objectives

While celebrating, we have to consider the five basic objectives of Shariah, namely, the protection of life, wealth, honour, mind/sense and Deen. For instance, if rejoicing results in the loss of innocent lives, delay or abandonment of obligatory acts of worship, then such activities would not be in line with the objectives of Shariah. At the same time, however, cultural traditions that are not based on polytheism, do not result in disunity among the Muslims and do not exceed the limits prescribed by the Shariah are permissible. For instance, in Morocco pigeon’s soup is served at Iftar time during Ramadan, while Iftar in Pakistan would be incomplete without the traditional Pakoras. Such cultural traditions conform to the above guidelines.

We must also remember that as Muslims we have a distinct identity and culture – we must not fall prey to an inferiority complex which results in copycat behaviour. The Prophet (sa) has said: “Whoever imitates a nation (in its ways and culture) becomes one of them.” (Abu Dawood)

Obtaining Allah’s (swt) blessings

Aligning our special occasions of rejoicing with the above principles will make our celebrations not only memorable, but also deserving of Allah’s (swt) blessing and mercy. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom for making our celebrations a source of happiness for all those around us, Ameen.

The Lighter Side of Islam

Vol 5 - Issue 1  The lighter side of IslamPraising Allah (swt), Sydney Harris once said: “God cannot be all that solemn, or He would not have blessed man with the incalculable gift of laughter.” If we just toss around the idea for a moment, we come to realize that laughter is really an amazing blessing from Allah (swt) and a means to express our happiness, approval, love and at times silliness, too.

Humour is in agreement with human nature and appeals to all ages. However, it is far easier for younger children and adolescents to burst into a giggling fit and actually also to get away with it. For grownups, things are too somber or stressful in their busy lives. I often hear people complain: “It’s been ages, since I actually had a good laugh.”

However, wouldn’t you agree that whether we are young or old, we need happiness and laughter, when we interact with people? We need it at home, at work and in our communal interactions; and, perhaps, we need it most during stressful times.

Unfortunately, we often leave our lighter side at home, and it is due to this that we witness unpleasant incidents all around us. An uptight, stressed out and angry person can only have a brawl, a frowning face and much bitterness to offer you.

Michelle Al-Nasr rightly observes that, sometimes as we immerse our lives in Deen, laughter is the component that is often the first to go from our daily lives. Maybe, it is because laughter is associated with fun, and we are too scared of earning Allah’s (swt) displeasure by indulging in it. This not only hurts our own lives, but also sets an intimidating example for others to become wary of Muslims and Islam in general.

The Quran and Prophet’s Sunnah prove otherwise. Believe it or not, you can laugh and still be a good Muslim! All you need to do is know the etiquettes of humour commended by Allah (swt) and His Apostle (saw). Let us reflect on some of the evidence given by Allah and the examples set by Prophet Muhammad (sa) for our guidance and a lighter approach to life:

Evidence from the Quran:

Allah (swt), our Creator and Owner, commenting about His Majesty states that: “And it is He who makes (one) laugh and weep…” (Najam 53:43)

When news was brought to Prophet Ibrahim (as) that his wife Sarah (rta) would have a child, she laughed out of surprise and joy: “And his wife was standing and she laughed: But We gave her tidings of Isaac and after him Yaqoob.” (Hud 11:71)

 

Similarly, describing the victorious believers on the Day of Judgment, Allah (swt) says: “Some faces that day will be beaming, laughing, rejoicing.” (Abasa 80: 38-39)

Evidence from Sunnah:

Narrated Abu Dharr (rta), the Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Do not consider any act of goodness insignificant, even if it is meeting your brother with a cheerful face.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) also said: “Fear Allah wherever you are; if you follow an evil deed with a good one, you will obliterate it; and deal with people with a good disposition.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Examples from Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) household:

One of the Ahadeeth that reflects Prophet’s (sa) enjoyment of fun is from Aisha (rta), who said: “I went out with the Prophet (sa) on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Prophet (sa) told the people: ‘Go on ahead’, so they went ahead, then he said to me: ‘Come, let us have a race’. So I raced with him, and

I won. He let the matter rest, until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people: ‘Go on ahead’, so they went ahead. He said to me: ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said: ‘This is for that.’” (Ahmad)

Examples from Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) Companions:

An-Nuayman Ibn Amar (rta), one of the Companions of Allah’s Prophet (sa), was known to instigate hilarious situations for the sole purpose of inciting all to laugh at his antics.

Once An-Nuayman (rta) spotted some food being sold at the market place. It appeared to be quite tasty and tempting. He ordered some and sent it to the Prophet (sa), as if it were a gift from him. The Prophet (sa) was delighted with the food and he and his family ate of it. The vendor of the food then came to An-Nuayman (rta) to collect the price for it. He replied the vendor: “Go to the Messenger of Allah (sa), it was for him. He and his family ate it.” The vendor then went to the Prophet (sa). Puzzled, the Prophet (sa) asked An-Nuayman (rta): “Didn’t you give it to me?” An-Nuayman (rta) answered: “Yes! I thought you would like it and I wanted you to eat some of it, so I had it presented to you. But I do not have any money to pay the merchant for it. So, O Messenger of Allah, you pay him!” The Prophet (sa) had a good laugh and so did his Companions. The laugh was at his expense literally, for he had to pay for the unsolicited gift.

Ibn Umar (rta) was asked: “Did the Companions of the Prophet (sa) laugh?” He replied: “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.” It is quite evident that laughter was a part of life even for the pious.

Etiquettes of humour in Islam

1. Content of humour

Muslims are required to pick their subject of humour cautiously. It is absolutely forbidden to make fun of our faith in any way and for anyone. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And if you ask them, they will surely say: ‘We were only conversing and playing.’ Say: ‘Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved (i.e., rejected faith) after your belief.” (Al-Tawbah 9:65-66)

2. Ridiculing others

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I am not of those, who indulge in amusement. Those, who indulge in amusement, are not of me.” (Bukhari)

 

It is quite clear that turning someone into a laughing stock and disgracing him is not permissible. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule (another) people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule (other) women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

3. Falsehood in jokes

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Woe to him who tells things, speaking falsely, to make people laugh thereby. Woe to him! Woe to him!” (Abu Dawood) Prophet Muhammad (sa) had a unique sense of humour. He was truthful even when he joked, and that is exactly what he recommended to others. Once a Sahabiyya conveyed her husband’s greetings to him. The Messenger (sa) inquired, if her husband was not the one with whiteness in his eyes. She protested: “No! No! There is not any whiteness in his eyes!” Prophet Muhammad (sa) insisted: “Why not? There is whiteness in every eye!” Obviously, he referred to the area around the pupil of the eye and she took it to be blindness! (Ibn Bakar)

4. Avoiding exaggeration

Moderation is one of the formative and pivotal lessons that Islam preaches to its followers. Excess of any habit is detrimental to one’s faith and worldly life. Excessive joking lowers the dignity and esteem of a person. Hazlitt once said that wit is the salt of conversation, not the food. Sharp wits like sharp knives do often cut their owner’s fingers. If a person laughs too much, his heart tends to become hard and he is desensitized.

Occasional humour comes in handy

We can analyze some of the situations where humour can spark up our mundane lives:

  1. Humour works as an excellent icebreaker, especially when two people are on the brink of an argument.
  2. It facilitates conversation and opens up doors of communication to newcomers in your class, office, club, Masjid, etc. Someone once said: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
  3. Laughter relieves tension and can help combat stress that usually sneaks up on us, turning us into unpleasant creatures at times.
  4. Humour increases learning and retention and can be a great help to mothers and teachers to work their way around difficult areas.
  5. It also works as a “tip off,” and often reveals people’s worries and concerns. This way we may be able to offer help and advice.
  6. Lightheartedness adds up to our charms. Who doesn’t want to be around a smiling, pleasant and genuinely happy person?
  7. Above all, when we bring joy to other people’s lives, it is a blessing for everyone.

Humour and your health

Laughter may not be the best medicine, but its importance in maintaining a healthy and happy life is certainly no joke! Research shows that laughter actually produces following physiological changes in the human body:

  1. An increase of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs
  2. Exercise of the lungs and abdominal muscles
  3. Release of tears, which lubricate the eyeball
  4. Stimulation of brain chemistry, which releases neurotransmitters that reduce pain and stress and give a boost to the immune system

We must remember that Allah (swt) is Al-Wadud (The Loving One). He puts smiles on our faces because He loves us. We must cherish and share this blessing just like all the other innumerable blessings of Allah (swt).

Quotable quotes

Laughter is a unique medicine that places your problems in perspective, relaxes your tense muscles, reassures those around you and helps you to enjoy life, even when you don’t have everything you want.

If the prose of our lives could only be punctuated with more smiles and subtle humour, there can only be one downside … many counselors and psychiatrists would have to go out of business.

The Process of Islamic Revolution

By Dr. Israr Ahmad

Pakistan enjoys a special significance in the context of the contemporary global movement for Islamic revival and renaissance. There are, indeed, a number of indications that Pakistan is destined to play a pivotal role concerning the future of Islam, and that Pakistan will have the honor of leading the Muslim Ummah into the age characterized by the domination of Islam. Unlike the more or less simultaneous movements launched against the yoke of Western imperialism throughout the Muslim world, it was only in the Indian subcontinent that the name of Islam was invoked. Furthermore, any keen student of history can appreciate the veracity of the assertion that, in view of the extremely unfavorable situation prevailing at the time, the establishment of a separate homeland for Muslims in 1947 was nothing short of a miracle.

The creation of Pakistan was in direct response to our firm and solemn pledge to Almighty Allah (swt) __ the pledge that, in case we succeed in gaining our much coveted freedom, we will establish the Islamic system of social justice in this country. During the movement for independence, we made public claims of creating a model Islamic state, showing to the entire world the true picture of Islam and demonstrating how the Islamic ideals of human freedom, equality and fraternity work in real life.

What we have done during the last half century or so, however, is a different story. We have utterly and completely failed to live up to our claims. We have done everything in this country except what we were supposed to. We have followed every path except the one we should have. Instead of worshipping Almighty Allah (swt), we have been paying our humble homage to the goddess of wealth; instead of cultivating a sense of unity, we have chosen the path of provincial parochialism and religious sectarianism; and instead of establishing the Islamic system of social justice, we have let the demons of exploitation and repression run amok. We, the Pakistani Muslims, are hardly in a position to blame anyone but ourselves for our sorry state of affairs. Because of our position of authority or leadership, some of us may have been more responsible than others, but none of us is totally free from guilt.

Under the present conditions, there is only one course of action that can lead to our salvation: collective repentance. What we mean by a collective repentance is that the final aim of the endeavors of a significant portion of Pakistani Muslims must undergo a radical change __ a change from their present preoccupation with the pursuit of this-worldly goals to a similar preoccupation with the fulfillment of their basic Islamic responsibilities. The prerequisite for any positive change in the present scenario is that an appreciable segment of our population must realize that obedience to the commandments of Almighty Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa), propagation and dissemination of the teachings of the Quran and Hadeeth and the struggle to establish the politico-socio-economic system as given by Islam are their fundamental and absolutely inescapable duties. All those, who thus realize their divinely ordained obligations, must be welded together in the form of a disciplined and highly organized party or Hizbullah. The establishment of the envisioned Islamic state will be possible only through the efforts and sacrifices of such dedicated people.

What we really need is a radical change in the entire politico-socio-economic structure, replacing this corrupt, decaying and unfair system with the Islamic system of social justice. Such a system is to be based on the sovereignty of Almighty Allah (swt) and the implementation of the injunctions of the Quran and the Sunnah at all levels of the state, whether executive, judiciary or legislative. What is being proposed here in effect is a modern and democratic welfare state, where the elimination of all forms of social discrimination, economic exploitation and political repression will be the primary objectives of the government. Keeping in view the conditions prevailing currently in Pakistan, the implementation of such lofty ideals is impossible without a revolution.

What do we mean by a revolution? A revolution can be defined as the bringing about of basic and radical changes in the social, political or economic systems dominant in a given country. The most thorough revolution involves the transformation of all of these aspects of collective human existence. Although the term ‘Islamic revolution’ is rapidly becoming a hollow cliché due to its widespread abuse by politico-religious parties, the fact remains that such a revolution is our only hope.

In view of the evolution of social thought during the last few hundred years, we believe that it is very much possible to change the entire system without resorting to any armed rebellion or terrorist activity. In contrast to the age of the Prophet (sa), it has now become possible to replace one system by another through a non-violent and unarmed rebellion against the status quo. This idea is based on the simple fact that even the most secure and the most firmly established politico-socio-economic order will collapse, when people refuse their cooperation and persist in their disobedience and defiance. Recent examples of the success of this passive resistance type of non-violent insurgency include the popular uprising in Iran against the Shah, the triumph of the ‘people power’ against the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, and the anti-Communism movements in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

However, before such a popular mass movement can be launched in order to bring about an Islamic revolution, a disciplined and highly organized party or Hizbullah is needed to keep the whole movement on the right track, consisting of totally dedicated volunteers, who have realized their divinely ordained obligations and have consciously decided that they have to live and die for the sake of Islam. The Tanzeem-e-Islami is endeavoring for the establishment of precisely such a revolutionary group, its target primarily being Pakistan, but it addresses Muslims living anywhere in the world.

Most of the Islamic movements have taken either to the bullet or to the ballet for establishing the Deen of Allah (swt). The Tanzeem-e-Islami believes that an ideal Islamic state cannot be established by either of these methods, and we have to go back to the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (sa) for the guidance of the methodology of Iqamah Al-Deen. When we look at the Seerah, we find that the struggle of the Prophet (sa) was revolutionary in nature. His struggle can be understood as having six phases. One phase naturally leads to the other. If we jump from one phase to the next without fulfilling the requirements of the former, we may not succeed. Following are the six phases of this struggle:

  1. Dawah (calling people to Islam and Imaan)
  2. Tanzeem (organization of those who respond)
  3. Training
  4. Passive resistance
  5. Active resistance
  6. Challenge and conflict

In the revolution brought about by Prophet Muhammad (sa), the final phase of conflict took the form of an armed struggle against the status quo. Under the present conditions, however, there is no need for an armed struggle; indeed, such a struggle is not likely to succeed. The state and government are now recognized as two different entities, and the right of the citizens to bring about a change in the government and the established system is now an accepted democratic right, as long as they do not indulge in violence or rebellion against the state.

A Moment to Reflect

Vol 5 - Issue 1  A Moment of ReflectA political leader has been assassinated. Several people are dead. Civic life has come to a standstill and people are stuck at home. The news is the focus of our attention, speech and energies. Security is scant. Food, water, basic amenities and petrol are dwindling in supply. The future (even the coming week) is uncertain. Worries, stress and despondency are on the rise, as is anger and resentment, when we see our normal lives spiral out of our control.

At times like this, the hidden aspects of a person’s beliefs, personality and character come to the surface. Some start pointing fingers, others just whine and complain, while a rare few clasp positivism and faith, taking charge of the situation with presence of mind.

When people come together but do not unite, chaos ensues. Pakistan is a proof of this. Right now, it is important for each of us to analyze for our own selves: “What should I do now?” Leave the rest of the world! While stranded at home, as you sit at your computer, talk on your cell phone, watch TV, cook in the kitchen or talk to your family – what should you be doing? What’s the best pastime in such unusual circumstances?

Think of those, who experienced this before you

Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Ukraine, Palestine and many other war-torn lands that have made the news in recent years. You saw the coverage on TV and heard about families fleeing from their homes, being torn apart or ravaging for food supplies. At that time, you knew you’d go home from school/work safe and you planned your career or your marriage, knowing that it was happening to them, not you. Well, now you know how they felt.

Think positively

Sure, it’s bad right now. But it could get better soon. People die, countries and empires are toppled, kingdoms and governments come and go… but there’s always the light at the end of the tunnel. You are alive and well. And you still have some control over your life. So, all is not lost.

“(…) And verily, when We cause man to taste of Mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; but when some ill befalls them because of the deeds which their hands have sent forth, then verily, man (becomes) ingrate!” (Ash-Shura 42:48)

Guard your tongue

Guard what you say during trials like these, if not for the sake and pleasure of Allah (swt), then for the sake of preventing the spread of negativity and despondency. Idleness, coupled with worry and uncertainty, tempts us to say negative things, put the blame on others and be ungrateful for what we do have. You have been secure and safe for almost all of your life. You have probably never slept on an empty stomach (or even if you have, it was rare). Now is the time to realize, just how privileged you are. Thousands of people lack security and food/water. Maybe what is happening right now will allow you to know, how that feels.

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them, verily, man is indeed and extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate who denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa)).” (Ibrahim 14:34)

Remember the power of Duas

Fate cannot be changed except with sincere Duas if Allah wills. Offer two Rakahs of Nafl prayer and make Dua to Allah (swt) to forgive those, who have died. As you sat at home yesterday, people were being burned alive or were being hit by stray bullets. This could be happening today as well. So stop cribbing that you won’t be able to attend your friend’s Mehndi or the funky New Year ball you bought tickets for, or that your car is out of petrol or that you are stuck at home instead of having coffee at Café “Falaana.” Be grateful that you are alive, safe and healthy. Oh yes – and that your car is still unburned.

Supplicate to your Creator to help the state of this country, to guide and educate its dwellers in both religion and formal education, so that they know, how to react to unfavorable circumstances like these. Ask Allah (swt) to bless people with knowledge and provision, because the combination of ignorance (Jahaalah) and poverty (Faqr) is lethal. Killing and mayhem results, as we all can witness.

Our country is a blessing, no matter what it is like

Read some eye-witness accounts of people, who saw partition in 1947. Read how they felt, as they came to this land called Pakistan. Tears streamed down their cheeks, as they thanked Allah (swt) with euphoric gratitude. Remember that many lives have been laid down for acquiring this country, where we can dwell in freedom and with no fear of persecution by non-Muslims. Remember all this, when you want to flee from this country for greener pastures abroad, or when you hear yourself lamenting about how unlucky you are to be born in Pakistan and “stuck in this dump full of terrorists.” Some of the greatest people (those who brought about major change in their short lives and made a difference to millions of people) were born in unfavorable circumstances; they converted their defeat into victory, their limited provision into opportunity, and their thinking into action. Think of Muhammad (sa) in the cave, Nelson Mandela in jail, Jinnah in a turbulent India. Great minds are the result of chaos and strife.

 

What you do or say now during this tribulation will affect people around you. So, reflect on what CAN be done to save the situation, rather than what is lost. Remember to be grateful for what is not lost and think positively about tomorrow, as tomorrow IS another day.

An Interview with Ms. Bilquees Edhi

By Naureen Aqueel

In this age of materialism and heightened individualism, selfless efforts are rare gems. One family that has become a paragon of such values is the Edhis. Altruism, commitment, compassion, determination and hard work are behind the successful mission to bring relief to millions across Pakistan and abroad. Be it war, aftermaths of a natural calamity, or abandoned babies, the Edhi family is a ray of hope for many groping in the darkness of disaster, injustice and disease. “Hiba” magazine spoke to Bilquis Edhi, wife of Abdul Sattar Edhi, to get an insight into the great heights they have reached.

“A humanitarian perspective,” is how Bilquis Edhi defines the prime motive behind the Edhi Foundation. “It is aimed at the collective good of all,” she says.

In his autobiography “A Mirror to the Blind” as narrated to Tehmina Durrani, Abdul Sattar Edhi says: “The five basic tenets of Islam continue into the sixth for me: Huquq-ul-Ibaad or humanitarianism. That it is not proclaimed as obligatory has deeper meaning; as right and wrong are left to human initiatives, its importance would be lost if forced.”

At another place in the same book he says: “Huqquq Allah is meaningless without Huqquq-ul-Ibaad. The latter is not possible without compassion and self-help. Islam is not implementable without submission to these two qualities, without them, there can be no practice. Islam without practice is a negation of God. The Holy Book is truly valued only when its prescription is followed.”

As one of the most active philanthropists in the world, Abdul Sattar Edhi is devoted and committed, and is known to work through holidays. How do he and his family manage this? “This is not our work, it is Allah’s (swt) work. And Allah (swt) gets His work done by whomever He Wills,” explains Bilquis Edhi. “Edhi Sahib has undergone only two grades of academic schooling and I have undergone only eight. There are no qualifications for (humanitarian) work. We only need to have a humanitarian perspective and do beneficial work.”

The Edhi couple and their family do not do all the work alone. They have a trained team of employees and volunteers. “We hire the staff and train them. There are also volunteers who get less salary-wise but do quality work. And, Masha’Allah, Allah (swt) has helped us greatly. No matter how much we accept His favour and thank Him, it is insufficient. We, humans, have no power to do work on our own without His help.”

“So, does the staff always work with as much sincerity, enthusiasm and selflessness as you two?” I inquired. “No. The employees sometimes cause trouble. No one is perfect. I keep telling Edhi Sahib: ‘You wish everyone was Sattar Edhi Sahib, but that is difficult – everyone has their own priorities be it home, family or children.’”

Another secret of their success is that they start their work early morning after the morning prayers and breakfast thereafter. Although most of their time is spent serving humanity, you will never hear them complaining or see them in low spirits. So how do they keep themselves motivated? “We are content and satisfied with ourselves,” shares Bilquis Edhi, “we keep doing our work and do not brood on criticisms.”

Despite their international fame, Abdul Sattar Edhi, Bilquis Edhi and their family continue to live a simple life. Indeed, Abdul Sattar Edhi is known to own two traditional Shalwar Kameez. “We have never really thought of who we are or what status we have. We just consider ourselves ordinary human beings and we work like common folk. Allah (swt) has saved us from arrogance and ostentation (Riya Kari),” says Bilquis Edhi.

The journey to establish such an unparalleled network of welfare work was not completely smooth. “We have never encountered any obstacles that have stopped us. Allah (swt) has always taken us ahead. He has never let us fall back. People have opposed us a lot and have resorted to narrow-mindedness and accusations. But Edhi Sahib says that their purpose is to distract us from our work. If we fight back, we will waste time. So he says: ‘Our work should be our response. Such people will be defeated and humiliated, when they see our work.’ Obstacles are a part of life,” says Bilquis Edhi.

In his autobiography, Abdul Sattar Edhi says: “When the anxiety at the vastness of the areas I must cover overwhelmed me, I took courage from Prophet’s Muhammad’s (saw) example. He was confronted with enormous opposition and more hypocrites than friends.”

Commenting on the numerous awards they have received, Bilquis Edhi says: “It is the work that speaks.”

In the end, Bilquis Edhi prayed for the success of “Hiba” magazine and wished to give a message to women: “Women should live life on the principles of simplicity, honesty, hard work and punctuality and should adhere to their limits (Apni Chaddar Mein Rehna Chahye). A good woman and mother is the minister of the home. Islam has not stopped women from work, but they should not cross Islam’s boundaries in any work they do.”

May Allah (swt) reward the Edhi family for their work and bestow His Mercy upon them, and may He grant us the same spirit of charity. Ameen.

Edhi Welfare Foundation, the largest welfare organization of Pakistan and one of the largest and most successful health and welfare networks in Asia, started as a tiny dispensary in 1951. Today, Edhi Foundation has over 300 centers across the country in cities, towns and rural areas. Services provided by Edhi Foundation include: baby cradles, destitute homes, welfare centers, highways projects, warehouses, field ambulance services, air ambulance services, marine and coastal service, blood and drug banks, cancer research hostel, missing persons service, home for sheltering animals, graveyard services, Edhi emergency posts, prisoners aid, refugee assistance and international community centers.

Bilquis Edhi has personally given 18900 children up for adoption.

Edhi Foundation is in the Guinness World Records for having the largest private ambulance service network in the world.

The couple have received around 250-275 awards and Abdul Sattar Edhi has also received an honorary doctorate from IBA.

Socially Constructed Fun

By Naureen Aqueel

What do you see, when you think of fun and entertainment? What images and ideas come into your mind? What feelings do they evoke?

Currently, people would respond to the above questions with descriptions of grand carnivals, huge fiestas, concerts, music, eating out, partying and laughing excessively with friends, hooting, jumping around, dancing and creating a racket.

Welcome to the amazing world of semantics – the branch of linguistics concerned with describing, how we represent meanings of words in our minds and the various connotations associated with words.

Words acquire different meanings and connotations through years of use in different environments, contexts and cultures. Since English is a Western language, its words derive their meanings and connotations from Western culture and worldview. In this present age of globalization and homogenization of cultures, in which Western ideas and practices are dominant, we find that such words get their connotations from Western culture and lifestyles.

If the parameters of what defines a concept vary from time to time and place to place, they cannot be absolute or fixed – they are products of the society they belong to. Concepts can thus be socially constructed, with society attaching only limited meanings or implications to a word.

 

Today, we see that our conceptions of fun and entertainment are increasingly restricted to a few ideas. It is paradoxical that although fun or enjoyment is more of an intrinsic phenomenon, we attach it to extrinsic things, making it dependent on the presence of external forces or situations that are becoming rather uniform for most people.

Enjoyment is largely a context dependent on relational phenomenon, where whether or not we enjoy something depends on the context and the relationship between ongoing activities and states of mind. Ideas of fun and entertainment may thus vary from person to person, as they do from culture to culture.

However, today we see a homogenization of such concepts across nations and cultures, with the above mentioned ideas becoming the popular notions of fun, thanks to the ever-powerful media that has successfully ‘manufactured’ this concept by bombarding us with such images of fun and entertainment as parties, concerts, music and mad indulgences of desires. And in all this, one subtle idea flashes from the backdrop: the desire to have no limits.

Are such activities really enjoyable? Do people really feel satisfied after them? Or is there still an empty feeling that remains even after all the ‘fun’ they planned is over? Those, who have made the transition from a state of complete ignorance about Allah (swt) and His Deen to the other side, will vouch for the truth of this.

Compare this to the way the Prophet (sa) used to have fun. He would joke, race and play with his wives; he would joke and play with his companions. He enjoyed wedding parties and encouraged Valima feasts. However, he never forgot his limits or harmed anyone. Even when having fun, he never lost sight of his purpose.

Today, Shaitan has made many immoral acts alluring to us by giving them the innocent label of ‘fun.’ Allah (swt) describes this in the Quran: “…but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

May Allah (swt) protect us from being fooled by Shaitan and from getting lost in the life of this world, and may He make us live and enjoy our lives the way our Prophet (sa) used to do. Ameen.

Shopping – an Islamic Perspective

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Shopping- The Islamic prespective

Dictionary describes shopping as a visit to a shop with intent to purchase goods. This activity is almost as old as mankind. Man has always brought home household items for his family. Islam acknowledges this need, and Allah (swt) has given permission for it in the Quran.

Narrated by Ibn Abbas (rta): Ukaz, Majanna and Dhul-Majaz were market-places in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. When Islam came, Muslims felt that marketing there might be a sin. Thus, the divine revelation came: “There is no sin on you if you seek the Bounty of your Lord (during pilgrimage by trading).” (Al-Baqarah 2:198) Ibn Abbas (rta) recited the verse in this way. (Bukhari)

However, the modes of acquiring goods have greatly changed over the years. Today is the age of shopping malls and centres, which have turned the necessity of shopping into a form of entertainment.

Mall Ambiance

The modern shopping malls have been strategically designed to invite people to spend maximum time there. These mammoth structures offer every form of entertainment and catering services. The atmosphere is such that hours pass without even noticing that morning has turned into afternoon.

Most Hated Place

Rasulullah (sa) has stated: “The most despised of places to Allah on earth are the bazaars and the most beloved of places are the Masaajid.” (Muslim) Now, let us take a look at our malls / bazaars and try to see the reasons, why they are referred to as hated places:

Bazaars are very colourful and attractive. They conjure an atmosphere of unmindfulness and oblivion. The thoughts about Allah (swt) are furthest from the heart.

A vast variety of worldly goods are on display. These give rise to passions and desires.

Not only the goods are on display, but women and men of all ages can be seen displaying their style and beauty.

The ever-present music makes Zikrullahdifficult. Thus, it becomes a favourable home for Shaitan and other impure creations.

It is also very easy to miss Salaah while shopping. Most of such fancy shopping malls offer all kinds of facilities, but very few provide Salaah areas for ladies.

Protective Measures

Rasulullah (sa) guided the Ummah regarding every detail of human life. The necessity of going to the bazaar was also shown to us by Rasulullah (sa). When entering the bazaar, one should keep in mind certain etiquettes:

Time your shopping in such a way that it falls between Salaah times, for example – going immediately after Zuharprayer and coming back by Asr. Another alternative is shopping in malls that provide prayer facilities.

Be mindful of what you wear. Avoid tight-fitting, short and transparent clothes. Some girls / ladies wear Abayasonly in market places, which is indeed a good starting point.

The Prophet (sa) said: “There are two types of the people of Hell, whom I have not seen… (one type are) women who are clothed yet naked, going astray and leading others astray, with their heads looking like the humps of camels, leaning to one side. They will not enter Paradise nor even smell its fragrance, although its fragrance may be detected from such and such a distance.” (Muslim)

A Hadeeth mentions that if a person recites the following upon entering the bazaar –

La ilaaha illallahu wahdahu la shareekalahu lahul mulku walahul hamdu yuhyee wa yumeetu wahuwa hayyun la yamut biyadihil khair wahuwa ala kulli shay’in qadeer

Allah (swt) will record for him a million good deeds and pardon for him a million sins, raise him a million ranks and a house will be built for him in Jannah. (Mishkaat)

The outstanding benefit of this Dua is that the reward gets earned by reciting these words in the bazaar. Significantly, if the very same words are recited in a Masjid or in Salaah, the reward will not be as great as when recited in the bazaar. This indicates the heedlessness prevalent in such an environment; hence, the multiple rewards.

Make a list of shops you plan to visit and be focused. Look around for good bargains but be conscious of the time.

While bargaining, ladies need to be mindful of their tone of voice. It should not be too friendly or too rude but maintain distance and decorum gracefully. Remember, you might have been going to the same shop for a very long time, but the shopkeeper is not your Mahram. Laughing and cracking jokes might get you a good bargain; however, such acts are below the dignity of Mominaat.

Do Zikrwhenever possible.

Alhumdulillah, keeping within the boundaries of Shariah, we can enjoy and make the most of our shopping sprees. We ask Allah (swt) to protect us, keep us chaste and make our commitment to religion good and strong. May Allah (swt) guide us all, Ameen.

Some Karachi malls / shopping centres, which offer prayer areas for ladies:

Dolmen Mall, Tariq Road

Plaza Shopping Mall, Clifton

Gulfway Shopping Mall, Clifton

Park Towers Mall, Clifton

Circadian Rhythm

Digital CameraAlhamdulillah, I have a six month old daughter, and every day is full of witnessing wonders of Allah (swt). One thing, which always amazed me, is that healthy babies get up in the early hours of the morning, around Fajr time. This observation sent me to the computer for searching on the Internet about ‘body clocks.’ As I was doing that, I discovered more wonders of Allah’s (swt) creations.

Circadian Rhythm

All living beings have body clocks including humans, plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. This body clock is a 24-hour, 11-minute cycle that exists in the physiological processes of all living things. These cycles became known as ‘circadian rhythm.’ It comes from the Latin word Circa (around) and Dies (day), literally meaning ‘about a day.’ These rhythms are generated within the body, although they can be modulated by external cues, such as light and temperature.

Circadian clocks sense light through a process that transfers energy from light to chemical reactions in cells. These clocks in cells respond to differences in light between night and day and thereby allow organisms to anticipate changes in the environment by pacing their metabolism to this daily cycle.

Circadian Rhythm in Plants and Animals

In plants, the circadian rhythm controls processes, including leaf and petal movements, the opening and closing of stomatal pores, the discharge of floral fragrances and many metabolic activities.

The sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals and their patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, digestion, cell regeneration and other biological activities are linked to this daily cycle.

Human Body’s Pacemaker

In humans, the circadian clock serves as a pacemaker and is located deep within the brain, where it helps the body keep time. This is the ‘master clock’ of the human body. It controls a number of body functions and interacts with the mechanisms controlling sleep. Recent studies have revealed that organs outside the brain, such as liver, lungs, spleen, etc., have their own rhythm and work independently.

Research has revealed that the circadian clock is affected by light. Darkness stimulates sleep and sunrise triggers the chemical process that enables a person to begin waking up. In the evening, the pineal gland in the base of our brain begins producing the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. For most people, studies show that the pressure to sleep builds up throughout the day and peaks around 9 -10 pm. At this time, the body’s temperature starts to drop and lowers about one degree during sleep. As it starts to rise around 4 am, the likelihood of waking increases, and this increase in temperature revives our metabolism for the day ahead.

At dawn, our blood pressure has its sharpest rise, allowing us to assume a vertical position safely. Around lunchtime, our liver enzymes kick into full gear in anticipation of food.

Human body clock also has a built-in alarm system, which is why we often wake up, before our alarm goes off. Researchers conclude that hormones increase because of our anticipation, which is widely thought to be a characteristic unique to conscious action. This pervades sleep and facilitates spontaneous waking. It has also been found that older people rise earlier than young ones.

Out of Sync

Experiments by researchers have revealed that our constant exposure to artificial light is leaving our bodies out of sync with the light rhythms of the natural world. In modern society, we are regularly exposed to artificial light, both in the work place and after the sunset. This extended exposure to artificial light late into the night, along with the shielding from sunlight by curtains and shades early in the morning, could be wreaking havoc with our natural biological clocks.

Disruption

Disruption of rhythms usually has a negative effect in the short term. Many travelers experience the condition known as jet lag, with its associated symptoms of fatigue, disorientation and insomnia.

Disruption of rhythms in the long term is believed to have significant adverse health consequences on peripheral organs outside the brain, particularly in the development or exacerbation of cardiovascular diseases.

Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Rasoolullah (sa) used to sleep immediately after the Isha prayer, which must have been around 10 pm in Arabia, and he would wake up for Tahajjud, i.e., before Fajr prayer. May be he used to wake up around 4 am, which according to research is the natural circadian time to wake up. However, one constant Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) is that he used to take a short nap in the afternoon for 30 to 45 minutes. This is another thing that researchers are finding very helpful in increasing effectiveness and productivity of a person. In fact, they call it ‘power nap.’

Conclusion

Allah (swt) says in Surah Fussilat (41:53): “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth.”

The circadian clock is a sign of Allah (swt) in our own selves. It is an example of His mercy, organisation, tender love, supreme power over mankind and all His living creations. Moreover, the waking and sleeping pattern of Rasool Allah (sa) shows, how close he was to nature and natural laws, Subhan’Allah.

The Wastage Phenomenon

By Hafsa Ahsan

Asma was a bright, ambitious engineering student. She entered one of the most prestigious institutes of engineering and four years later graduated with laurels. However, immediately after her graduation, her parents fixed her marriage into a family, which wasn’t so keen on her utilizing her engineering degree in any way.

Her mother wasn’t too bothered. When certain concerned friends inquired quite incredulously, as to why she let her daughter take admission in a professional university, if she had no intentions of pursuing her career, she remarked casually: “Well, she had a passion, so we let her pursue it. Of course, we had told her quite strictly that she will not be allowed to work or pursue a career in it. And now her in-laws don’t like it as well.”

As sad as the above account may sound, the fact of the matter is that even though an increasing number of female students is taking the initiative and acquiring most of the limited number of seats in professional colleges, a high percentage either drops out before completing the four-year education, or chooses not to utilize the degree in any way after graduation.

 

Of course, one cannot deny that many female students are ambitious. They want to study and carve a niche for themselves in their lives. And the elimination of the quota system in professional colleges means that every year a greater number of female students gets admission in these colleges, as compared to the number of male students. They put in their time, energy and effort (not to mention their parents’ hard-earned money) to get through their academic years.

But the end result is back to square one. All the money and all the efforts go down the drain, when the parents either arrange the marriage of their acquiescent daughter while she is studying, or when she is done studying. And there goes another professional seat down the drain.

So, what is wrong with this phenomenon? The very basic wrong thing is that these girls, who take admission in professional colleges, which are already scarce in this country given the number of students aspiring to take admission, occupy a valuable seat. The same seat could have gone either to a girl, who was more inclined towards pursuing a career even after marriage, or a male student, who would have to earn his livelihood through the concerned profession no matter what.

When female students occupy most of these valuable seats with no intention of pursuing a professional career after graduation, male students lose out and are either forced to take admission elsewhere or completely change their field of interest. Many of them end up studying in a private professional institute, whose degree is not recognized in the job market, or acquiring non-professional degrees, which later prove detrimental when searching for a job. All this ultimately adds to the growing rate of unemployment in this country and increases the social problems that stem from it.

Unfortunately, all this goes unnoticed by these female students and their relatives. Parents either push their unwilling daughters into professional education for the sake of prestige, or female students themselves take admission, quite willing to drop out when their marriage date is fixed, oblivious to what a grave injustice they do to their country, which is already suffering from a shortage of professionals.

So, what is the solution? Of course, changing anyone’s mindset is quite a Herculean task, and chances are that even if you do talk to anyone about this, they will label you as a Western feminist, who thinks that marriage isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. You can try to tell someone that utilizing a degree doesn’t mean working from nine to five and neglecting one’s responsibilities at home. But another sad fact about the people of this country is that they see a trade-off between marriage and career.

However, parents can be approached and made aware of the lack of professionals in this country. They can be told that it is unjust on their part to push their unwilling daughters towards professional colleges or not allow them to utilize their degrees in any way. They could also be made aware of the fact that there are different ways of utilizing the degree.

Serious intervention is needed on the part of both the policy makers and those at the helm of affairs in the professional educational institutes. Policy makers can re-introduce the quota system to give an edge to the male students, who ultimately do have to make use of the degrees they are pursuing. Many would argue that this is unjust, but what parents and prospective in-laws are doing is even more unjust at the end of the day.

Where the institutes themselves are concerned, the authorities of the selection committees conduct extensive interviews during the admission process with all the candidates aspiring to take admission. Female students should especially be grilled about the reasons why they want to pursue this particular degree, and what they intend to do with it. In this way, any female applicant, who is applying because of pressure from her parents, or has no interest in the field, can be screened out at the time of admission.

Of course, no one is saying here that the girls, who have no interest in acquiring professional education, are inferior in any way. Although all of us have our own priorities, our actions should nevertheless not adversely affect anyone else, least of all the country that we live in. If girls aren’t interested in professional degrees, there are loads of non-professional degrees, which can be pursued for the purpose of acquiring higher education. These degrees aren’t inferior and shouldn’t be considered as such.

Thus, a change in the mindset and in policies is acutely required, if the wastage phenomenon of the seats is to ooze away smoothly.

Proud as a Peacock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe may never really know, how a peacock feels, and perhaps calling him proud may be doing him an injustice; however, we humans can definitely understand what it is like to be arrogant and worse still – to be treated with arrogance. For instance, there is the case of Saima, who felt looked down upon at work, since she did not speak English very well and did not come from an elite business school. There are other people at work, too, whom we merely take for granted – the sweeper, for instance, who comes early in the morning, much before most people arrive for work, or the intern, who is slogging it out in a cramped corner of the office. Before we move on to discussing, whether arrogance is an acceptable trait, we must first define it.

What is arrogance?

In a Hadeeth narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masud (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “He, who has in his heart (even) a weight of an atom of arrogance, will not enter Paradise.” Someone asked: “How about a person, who likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Allah’s Messenger (sa) replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the Truth and having contempt for people.”

Is arrogance acceptable?

The Quran is filled with stories of people and nations, who were overbearing and puffed up with self-importance; they rejected Allah’s (swt) Word and mocked the messengers. Their end speaks volumes about how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance. The Pharaoh, for instance, was drowned along with his followers, Qarun was swallowed up by the earth, and the nations of Ad, Thamud and Lut were destroyed by natural calamities.

We also find words of admonition in the Holy Quran regarding arrogance. For example, there is the advice of Luqman to his son: “‘And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.’” (Luqman 31:18)

 

Even the arrogant Qarun was admonished by his own people for his overbearing attitude:

“Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: ‘Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily, Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah).’” (Al-Qasas 28:76)

In the books of Ahadeeth, we find the end of a man, who was puffed up with pride.

Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “A man was walking dragging his dress with pride, he was sunk in the earth because of it and will keep sinking in the earth till the day of standing.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Pride is my cloak and honour is my loincloth, and whoever contends with me regarding one of them both, I will throw him in the fire.’” (Abu Dawood)

The above Quranic verses and Ahadeeth clearly show how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance.

Are you arrogant?

One is quick to jump to conclusions about people’s vain attitude. However, it is much more important to recognize arrogance within yourself. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love listening to how well you work and how well-dressed you are?
  • Do you believe that you have got this job only, because you worked hard and well? After all – you deserve it!
  • Do you listen to others at work, or do you always want your way? After all – your opinion is what really matters!
  • Working as part of a team, do you feel that the less important work makes you literally that – LESS important?
  • When someone criticizes your opinion, do you feel like saying: “How dare you question my judgment?”

If your answer to most of the above questions is a ‘yes,’ it is likely that the plant of arrogance has taken root inside your heart.

The ways of rooting out arrogance

Prayer

Begin with seeking Allah’s (swt) help: “O Allah! Keep me alive (in a state of) humbleness and grant me death in (a state of) humbleness, and gather (resurrect) me in the company of the humble ones.” (Ibn Abi Shaibah)

Praise Allah (swt)

When someone praises you, instead of saying thank you, say: “Alhamdulillah!” (Praise be to Allah!)

Remember the warning in the Quran

Remind yourself of the miserable end of the nations and people, who were arrogant.

Look up to the Prophet’s (sa) example

As a part of a team, the Prophet (sa) did not despise any task, no matter how menial and ordinary it appeared to be. Once, he was traveling with his companions and it was time to prepare food, he asked them to slaughter a sheep. A man said: “I will slaughter it.” Another said: “I will skin it out.” A third one said: “I will cook it.” So, Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “I will collect the wood for fire.” They said: “No. We will do that work.” The Prophet (sa) said: “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a servant of His privileged to others.” So, he went and collected firewood. (Khulasatus-Siyar, p.22)

Remind yourself of your creation

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “It is He, Who has created you (Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female sexual discharge [i.e. Adam’s offspring]) then from a clot (a piece of coagulated blood), then brings you forth as an infant…” (Ghafir 40:67)

Dealing with arrogant people

Difficulties in the workplace arise from the attitude of colleagues and supervisors. Dealing with an arrogant boss or a colleague is difficult; however, you can use the following tips to deal with them more effectively.

Be gentle with them

Allah (swt) told Musa (as), how to deal with the arrogant Pharaoh: “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” (Ta-Ha 20:44)

Arrogance is rooted in insecurity. Being gentle with such a person may tame his desire to overpower others.

Advise them in private

From a Hadeeth, we learn that the Prophet (sa) said: “Islam is a word of sincerity and well wishing.” Upon this, the companions asked: “For whom?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmidhi)

Advising such people in private would perhaps give them a chance to reflect on their behavior, which is detrimental to their own self as well as to others around them.

Supplicate for them

Lastly, make a prayer for that arrogant colleague or boss to help him/her get over the overbearing attitude, which invites Allah’s (swt) wrath.

Rulings on Clapping

There is a Fatwah of Shaykh Ibn Baz about clapping, which states that: “Clapping during parties is one of the actions of Jahiliyyah (ignorance). The least that can be said about it is that it is Makrooh (disliked), but the evidence rather suggests that it is Haram, because Muslims are not allowed to resemble the Kuffar (disbelievers).”

Allah (swt) says, describing the Kuffar of Makkah (interpretation of the meaning):

“Their Salat (prayer) at the House (of Allah, i.e. the Kabah at Makkah) was nothing but whistling and clapping of hands.” (Al-Anfal 8:35)

When the believer sees something that he likes or dislikes, the Sunnah is to say ‘Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah)’ or ‘Allahu Akbar (Allah is Most Great),’ as was narrated by the Prophet (sa) in many Ahadeeth.

Clapping is prescribed specifically for women, if something alarms them during the prayer, or they are praying with men and the Imam makes a mistake in the prayer. In that case, they should draw his attention to the mistake by clapping, whereas men should do so by saying ‘Subhan’Allah’, as was narrated in the Saheeh Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). From this it may be concluded that clapping on the part of men implies imitation of Kaafirs and women and all of that is forbidden. And Allah (swt) is the source of strength.

The Standing Committee was asked about men clapping, when they play with children, or children clapping to encourage their classmates. They replied: “This clapping is not appropriate, and at the very least, it is intensely Makrooh, because this is one of the characteristics of the Jahiliyyah and because it is something that is done only by women to draw attention to a mistake in the prayer. And Allah (swt) is the source of strength.” (From Fatawa Islamiyyah, vol. 4, p. 332-333)

Children can be encouraged by saying ‘Allahu Akbar’, if they do something that the watcher or listener likes, or one may use other suitable phrases or raise one’s hands, or raise one’s voice in words of praise, such as “Well done!” or “Excellent!” and so on. And Allah (swt) is the source of strength.

(Source: Islam Q&A – Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid)

Having Fun with your Kids

“You can’t do this”, “this is Haram”, “this is not allowed” are often what we say, when our kids want to have fun. Instead of always saying no, provide them with Halaal alternatives. There are many ways to have fun, while staying within the boundaries of our Deen.

Not every fun activity needs to include dance, music, lots of money or copying of another faith. Allah (swt) doesn’t expect us to spend our entire life on the prayer mat, secluded from the world. We have to practice our Deen, while living in this Duniya. However, Allah (swt) has set limits for our own good. Joking is allowed in Islam, but it should not include lying as in April’s Fools Day, frightening as in Halloween or insulting someone’s feelings.

Religions before the advent of Islam mentioned the things that were allowed. However, since Islam is the final religion, only the few things that are prohibited are listed. For instance: out of all drinks, alcohol is prohibited – this shows that all the other drinks are Halaal. There is more of what we can do than we cannot.

Celebrate Eid big time

The Prophet (sa) encouraged celebrations on such occasions as Eid or marriage. For instance, when Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) tried to stop two young girls from singing in the Prophet’s house, the Prophet (sa) told him: ‘Let it be, for we are now in the feast.’

While both Eids are celebrations for the whole family, special attention needs to be given to children. Throw for them an Eid party, buy gifts, give Eidi, take them to places, where they want to go, and make their holiday so special that they would not feel deprived at any other time of the year.

Instead, parents are often too busy on Eid to have quality time with their kids. They buy them new clothes and sort of stop there. Parents drag them all day for visiting people, where there is nothing planned for kids. Parents are busy with the Qurbani or entertaining the visitors, while children are plopped in front of the TV – even on Eid! Take kids shopping before Ramadan, so that they can pick something they like. Get surprise gifts as well. Help them buy or make gifts for their friends, instead of exchanging gifts on birthdays. Cook or buy their favourite foods and treats.

Fun with the family

Fun doesn’t have to start and end on Eid. The family unit is an integral part of the Islamic culture. Those, who find peace with their families in their homes, are very blessed. While there should be times to meet others, socializing should not rule your lives. By staying at home, hopefully you get the opportunity to get down on the carpet, open up a board game and challenge your family to some good, clean fun.

Use the Internet to your advantage. Visit such websites as www.familyfun.com which have easy craft projects and other family oriented ideas that you can replicate or adapt to your situation. Keep paper, glue, scissors and other art supplies in stock, so you are always ready to whip up a card for a new baby or to wish someone a speedy recovery. Encourage each child to have a hobby, so that they can channel their talents into something creative. Stamp collecting, knitting, painting, sports … the possibilities are endless.

Treasure hunt

Put a fun twist on anything to transform the mundane into fun. Give your child a gift after completing a Juz, memorizing a Surah or getting good grades. Hide the gift and put clues all over the house. “Look in a cold place” will take him to the freezer, while “Look in a wet place” may take him to the shower … and all around the house to find his treasure.

Family board game night

Try to squeeze in a short game every night, so that your day ends on a happy note. If daily is impossible, plan family game night for the weekend. You can play such classics as “Scrabble” and “Quran challenge Game” or try a new game. Invite younger siblings to join in, as they can learn how to take turns, count pieces, sort money and so on. If time is an issue, decide on a time limit and total scores after one hour. It really doesn’t matter who wins; when you spend an hour as a family – everyone is a winner.

Use what you have

Spending time with the family does not have to involve spending tons of money. Having dinner in the lawn can be a fun, impromptu picnic experience. Playing dress up with grandma’s old Saris is a great way to spend an afternoon. Recycling tissue rolls into binoculars and bowling with empty plastic soft drink bottles are just a few ideas. Kids don’t care, how much money was spent on an activity. They value the time their parents spend with them using their imaginations.

Encourage hand made gifts and cards

Model how you can knit a sweater for a new baby or make a card with glitter glue for a niece and ask your kids to do the same. Appreciate it, when they make gifts for you out of stuff they already have. Allah (swt) has gifted us all in one way or the other – one may be an artist, the other a wordsmith, the third a sportsman and so on. Expose your children to a variety of interests, so you can see where they shine.

Kid-friendly home

Don’t have such exclusive furniture, white carpets and one-of-a-kind decorative pieces that kids aren’t allowed to enjoy their own home. Section off a formal area at most, but let the kids enjoy their home for the most part. Set up an art station in the kitchen (for easy clean-ups), supply them with paint, glitter, clay and glue and see, what their imagination cooks up.

Host parties for your kids, without it having to be an occasion. Plan activities, so that you can keep an eye on them and evaluate the kind of company your children are keeping. Having a bake sale with proceeds going to the Masjid can be a fun way for teenage girls to make brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Put a basketball hoop in your garden and see, how the neighborhood boys come running.

If your household responsibilities are overwhelming, encourage your kids to join you. You may think it’s boring, but give a toddler a ball of Aata (dough) and see what happens. Older kids can build on their math skills by helping you measure ingredients and learn about food groups and healthy eating. Younger kids can sort laundry and find matching socks – anything can be a bonding and learning experience – provided YOU want it to be.

If your extended family is known for their New Year’s Eve party, start your own tradition of an Eid party for kids. If we go with the flow, our children will do the same. If we stop and take initiative for them to be nurtured in all walks of life, then we can hope that Allah (swt) will be pleased with our efforts to instill values in the mini-Muslims entrusted to us.

You do not need a university degree or a lucrative career for being creative with your kids. You only need the will – and everything will fall into place. If there is one thing you want to take from this article, it should be to press the pause button in your life, get down on the floor and play with your children today – you’ll be glad you did!

Hafsa Bint Umar (rta)

Slide3

Name: Hafsa

Father: Umar Ibn al Khattab

Mother: Zainab Bint Maizun

Tribe: Banu Adi

Clan: Qurtafish

Hafsa (rta) was her father’s daughter. Aisha (rta) said: “Constancy was Umar’s over whelming characteristic, and the same was true about Hafsa.” She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she did so with knowledge and conviction, not merely for the sake of being heard.

Once, the Prophet (sa) said about the Companions of Badar and Hudaybiya: “I can hope, God willing, they will not enter Hell.” Hafsa (rta) retorted: “But they might, Ya Rasool Allah,” and she quoted from the Quran, “There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished.” (Maryam 19:71) The Prophet (sa) could not help smiling and was pleased at her sharp intellect. He replied with the verse: “Then We shall save those who used to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).” (Maryam 19:72) (Ahmad)

Hafsa (rta) was first married to Khunais Ibn Hudhaifah, but was widowed at only eighteen. Umar (rta) asked both Abu Bakr (rta) and Uthman (rta) to marry her, but they both declined. When Umar (rta) went to the Prophet (sa) to complain about their behaviour, the Prophet (sa) smiled and said: “Hafsa will marry one better than Uthman and Uthman will marry one better than Hafsa.” Umar (rta) was delighted, when he realized that the Prophet (sa) was asking for her hand in marriage! (Bukhari)

Hafsa (rta) became the Prophet’s (sa) fourth wife. Sawda (rta) welcomed her with open arms, but Aisha (rta) was jealous at first. Like herself, Hafsa (rta) was an intelligent, educated and beautiful woman, who eagerly learned from the Prophet (sa). In the course of time, however, Hafsa (rta) and Aisha (rta) became close friends.

Hafsa (rta) liked to discuss religious issues with her husband, who allowed her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother, Umar (rta) said: “I think I shall do so and so.” She replied: “But it would be better, if you did such and such.” “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar (rta), who did not expect his wives to talk back to him. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah.” Umar (rta) immediately put on his cloak and went to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “Indeed, I do,” she replied. Umar (rta) was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when the Prophet (sa) came into the room and would not allow it.

Hafsa’s (rta) sharp tongue never stooped down to being insolent with her husband. On one occasion, when she did not quite control herself and told the Prophet’s (sa) private matter to Aisha (rta), a direct reprimand came from Allah (swt) in the Quran – known as the incidence of Tehreem. Such was the responsibility on her shoulders, and she fulfilled it in spite of her quick temperament.

We tend to think that the Ummahat Al-Mumineen were other than human or docile little women, who had no will or mind of their own. Hafsa’s (rta) personality comes across as very wilful and strong. Yet, we see, how she took a grip of herself and controlled her innate nature, in order to please Allah (swt) and her husband. A valuable lesson for all women and, indeed, men as well – if Hafsa (rta), Umar’s (rta) daughter, could tame her ego and temper just like her father did, why can’t we?

Hafsa (rta) memorized the entire Quran by heart. She prayed at night and fasted during day. This piety must have helped her in her Tazkiya (purification of the heart) and brought out the best in her.

Hafsa (rta) lived with the Prophet (sa) in Madinah for eight years and lived on for another thirty four years after his death. She witnessed with joy the victories and expansion of Islam under her father’s guidance, and with sorrow the troubles that beset the Muslim community after the murder of Uthman (rta). She died at the age of sixty-three.

Help! I Don’t Remember Who I am!

Vol 5 - Issue 1  Help Who i amSeven years back at the Kuala Lumpur Airport, as I was heading towards the immigration, a young oriental girl approached me hesitantly and asked: “Excuse me, can you help me? You see, I have two bottles of liquor with me and I believe they only permit one per non-Muslim passenger. Can you carry the second bottle for me through customs?” I blinked at her silently and finally found my voice: “I am sorry but I can’t do that. I am a Muslim.”

Another year I travelled to Singapore for a conference. At our official dinners, they served pork and liquor. Naturally, I didn’t partake of it. The rest of my colleagues were non-Muslims, so they enjoyed it. However, they were surprised to learn that I was a Muslim.

Some years later during a shopping spree in Dubai, I was preparing for Salaah, but as I approached the ladies prayer area, a woman asked me suspiciously: “Are you a Muslim?” I stammered: “Y… yes, why are you asking?” She didn’t comment. But her look said: “If I hadn’t found you in this prayer area, I wouldn’t have ever known.”

I was beginning to feel very disturbed that I was not being identified as a Muslim. What was it that I was doing wrong? Slowly the answers started emerging. And at first I didn’t like them at all.

To me there wasn’t much of a difference between a believer’s lifestyle and a disbeliever’s life pattern. In fact, I was closer to their culture than my own. I spoke their language, dressed like them, watched their films, listened to their music, read their books and magazines and enjoyed their shows. I was thinking and behaving like them.

I knew much about the first president of the USA but vaguely anything about our first Caliph. I slept through Eid but never failed to celebrate the Christmas and the New Year with my Muslim as well as non-Muslim friends.

I knew, how many girlfriends my favourite film star had dumped, but didn’t know any of the Azwaj-e-Mutaharat (our Prophet’s (sa) wives). I was proud to know, what my favourite pop singer had for breakfast, but had hardly any idea of what our Prophet’s (sa) favourite cuisine had been.

I was one of the all-encompassing Muslims, for whom it was enough to state ‘Islam’ as their religion, when asked in some official document. It wasn’t important to look like a Muslim, think like a Muslim or even behave like one. I had gotten by so far by avoiding alcohol and pork. Wasn’t that enough?

But then one day I read: “O you who believe! If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from faith) as losers.” (Al-Imran 4:149)

 

This Ayat was supported by Allah’s Messenger’s (sa) Hadeeth: “Anybody (from among the Muslims) who meets, gathers together, lives and stays (permanently) with a Mushrik (polytheist or disbeliever in the Oneness of Allah) and agrees to his ways, opinions and (enjoys) his living with him (Mushrik), then he (that Muslim) is like him (Mushrik).” (Abu Dawood)

No matter how bad a Muslim I had been, I knew well enough, where the Mushriks, or disbelievers, were heading after their death, and I didn’t want to go there with them. Besides, if I followed them blindly, who would pull them out of their disbelief and save them from the Hellfire?

That’s when it dawned on me that I am not just a Muslim to save myself. I have been sent to this world with a mission to save those, who don’t understand Allah’s (swt) message or whom it hasn’t reached yet. The Prophet (sa) took a covenant from Muslims like me to keep sharing Allah’s (swt) message with every Muslim and non-Muslim. And if I don’t even remember who I am? how will I save my friends out there?

No! It matters to me now that I stand out in a crowd as a Muslim. When I smile, when I help, when I am courteous to others, they know it’s a Muslim with a mission. Not someone who is confused about her identity or, even worse, ashamed of it.

Allah, may I never forget who I am. I am yours and only yours.

The Fun Years

Vol 5 - Issue 1  The Fun YearsTeenagers are funny creatures! And I don’t mean it humorously.

They find everything funny. You have more chance of finding teenage girls giggling than you do of finding middle-aged or even 25-plus-women chortling and guffawing. That’s why when one hears the word ‘giggle’ adolescents come to mind. Under this broad generalization, I can safely say that most of us suffered the same insanity during our teens. From the same bouts of inexplicable laughing fits to goose-bumps for things as minor as favorite brands of chocolate spotted among gifts.

Psychology says it’s healthy. Teenagers should be allowed to express their feelings and indulge in recreational pastimes. But living in the world of recreation has a variety of meanings – from favorite cartoons to favorite drugs … the choices aren’t really that simple any more.

The biggest dilemma of a Muslim teenager is the confusion (a separate dilemma from identity crises) between what is fun and what isn’t. What jokes to laugh at, what movies to enjoy, what books to read, what people to hang out with, what fashion is acceptable, what ideas are reasonable, so on and so forth. This is the very point, where Muslims need to remember that while Islam does not want people to forget the hereafter, it also does not wish to suck the marrow out of life. A Hadeeth states: “Don’t consider anything insignificant out of good things, even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance.” (Reported by Abu Dharr and recorded by Imam Muslim)

Ideally, Muslims are known for their dignity. However, most people tend to misinterpret what we mean by that. I’ve seen parents look disapprovingly at their children, if they laugh too much. A loud guffaw or maybe a painful jibe at someone else is where you may want to draw the line – but stopping teenagers from laughing altogether? That’s something that won’t end well. Parents need to seek this balance, while rearing their kids.

On the other side of the fence, the teenage Muslim can sometimes undergo shame and self-doubt, while mingling with the ‘it’ crowd. This can result in either of the two: they turn into loners … or become over-serious about everything. Either way, it’s not a fun way to spend one’s teenage years. Teens need to find themselves in the concoction of mixed norms and the melting pot that we call ‘culture’ today.

Teenagers follow norms. They follow peers. This was the most interesting conclusion I drew from all the havoc that came into my life, due to the excessive confusion between the ‘good fun’ and the ‘bad fun.’ Psychological studies of adolescents prove that teenagers have a stronger tendency to listen to their peers than to their parents. And once a peer group becomes strong, its sense of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ develops. It does not follow particular ideas of good and bad – rather, what is ‘cool’ or ‘un-cool.’ This revelation struck me as revolutionary. It meant that if I was being penalized in one group for not wanting to have fun ‘their way,’ I could just as easily be accepted in another peer group – if they shared my opinions. That choice proved to be such a breakthrough that I ended up starting my own group. I ended up becoming my own voice, instead of representing the prevalent teen culture.

If no one likes your way of having fun, find someone who does. Start your own norms. Be your own person. Because, after all is said and done, that is what being a teenager and a Muslim is all about.

Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah (rta)

Abu Ubaidah (rta) is one of the ten companions, to whom the Prophet (sa) publicly promised Paradise. Born in the tribe of Quraish, he was known for his modesty, humbleness and noble character. His real name was Amir Ibn Abdullah Ibn Al-Jarrah, but he became famous as Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah (rta).

Although always soft and gentle among his friends, Abu Ubaidah (rta) would become as hard as iron when it came to deciding right from wrong. Already before the advent of Islam, Abu Ubaidah (rta) felt that his people were on the wrong path. Islam was so close to Abu Ubaidah’s (rta) heart that when he learned about it from his friend Abu Bakr (rta), he embraced it without any hesitation. Abu Ubaidah (rta) was the eighth person to accept Islam. Because of his unparalleled integrity and honesty, the Prophet (sa) named him ‘the nation’s trustworthy’ (Amin-ul-Ummah).

After migration to Madinah, Muslims had to fight numerous battles to defend their faith. In the Battle of Badr, Quraish chiefs from Makkah came to attack Muslims. Abu Ubaidah (rta) also took part in this battle. While fighting, he noticed his father among the rows of the enemy. He did all he could to avoid facing his father, but there came a point when both of them stood in front of each other – Abu Ubaidah (rta) had no other choice but to defend his life and faith. They exchanged blows, and Abu Ubaidah’s (rta) father fell down dead at his son’s feet. Abu Ubaidah (rta) was very sad to see this happen. However, soon Allah (swt) lifted heaviness from his heart – due to this incident, a revelation came:

“You (O Muhammad (sa)) will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred (people). For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Ruh (proofs, light and true guidance) from Himself.” (Al-Mujadilah 58:22)

This act of Abu Ubaidah (rta) proved his undivided love for Allah (swt). What more can a Muslim wish for than being praised for his deed in the Quran?

After the victory in the Battle of Badr, the Battle of Uhud brought new trials of faith for Muslims – this time the enemy army exceeded the numbers of Mujahideen about three times. The retreating Quraish gained an upper hand when a group of Mujahideen rushed after the booty, leaving their hill unmanned. The situation grew worse as misleading news about the Prophet’s (sa) death began to spread – many Muslims fled from the battlefield. Abu Ubaidah (rta), however, remained among the soldiers who decided to fight till the end.

In the heat of the battle, Abu Ubaidah (rta) saw an arrow strike the Prophet (sa), who then fell to the ground. Abu Ubaidah (rta) rushed towards him and saw that two chains of the Prophet’s (sa) armour had gone through his cheeks, causing serious injury and heavy bleeding. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Abu Ubaidah (rta) took out these chains from the Prophet’s (sa) face, using his own teeth, two of which broke in the process. Later, other companions looked at Abu Ubaidah (rta) with envy because they wished they had had this opportunity to sacrifice their teeth in order to show their love for the Prophet (sa).

Abu Ubaidah (rta) was a successful and exceptionally loyal military commander. Under his command, Muslims controlled the Arab tribes around Madinah and participated in military efforts to spread Islam. He joined his forces with the Mujahideen army at Mutah in Jordan for a battle against the Roman army. He led a faction of Muslims when the Mujahideen proceeded to conquer Makkah. The qualities that Abu Ubaidah (rta) was admired for were his humility and purity of intentions when it came to struggling in the cause of Allah (swt). Although a great military leader, Abu Ubaidah (rta) never hesitated to surrender his leadership because he knew he was fighting for a greater cause than just worldly power and authority.

The Prophet’s (sa) death brought a new challenge to the Muslim community – the selection of the next head of the Islamic state. To settle the arising differences, Abu Bakr (rta) offered two candidates for the post of the first Caliph: Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta) and Abu Ubaidah (rta) Ibn Al-Jarrah. Upon hearing this, both Umar (rta) and Abu Ubaidah (rta) immediately pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr (rta), as they felt there was no other more worthy of this position. Upon seeing this, others also pledged their allegiance to the new Caliph Abu Bakr (rta). Thus, these sincere acts of self-denial by both Abu Ubaidah (rta) and Umar (rta) smoothly solved the situation, which could have become critical for the future of the Muslim community.

Selecting the first Caliph was not the only instance that proved the exceptional humbleness and self-denial of Abu Ubaidah (rta). Abu Bakr (rta) sent Abu Ubaidah (rta) to Syria to fight the Romans, selecting him to be the general commander of the Muslim forces. When thirty-six thousand Mujahideen reached their destination at Yarmuk, they were met by the Roman army of two hundred thousands. Seeing the uneven division of forces, Muslims sent a message to the Caliph, inquiring what to do next. Abu Bakr (rta) sent in support forces with Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta), whom he selected to be the commander general of the whole joint Muslim army. Upon hearing this, Abu Ubaidah (rta) gave his post to Khalid (rta) without any hesitation and continued to fight under him as an ordinary soldier.

Later during the same battle, the news came about the death of Abu Bakr (rta). The next Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab had once again given the command of the joint Muslim forces to Abu Ubaidah (rta). Abu Ubaidah (rta), however, did not rush to deliver this news to Khalid (rta). Only when the battle ended with a great victory by Mujahideen, he handed to Khalid (rta) the message from the Caliph. Khalid was deeply moved by such an act of self-denial on Abu Ubaidah’s (rta) part. This humble man did not wish to reap the worldly glory of a victorious commander – he preferred to be loyal to the higher aim of spreading the message of Islam.

Abu Ubaidah (rta) remained loyal to Umar all his life, except on one occasion. When the fatal disease of plague spread in the Syrian city where the Muslim forces were stationed, Umar (rta) sent an urgent message to Abu Ubaidah (rta), requesting him to return to Madinah immediately. The Caliph feared for the life of his most trustworthy warrior. Abu Ubaidah (rta) guessed this and sent a return message to Umar (rta), asking permission to stay with his soldiers, who were in much need of him. Abu Ubaidah (rta) wrote that there was no need to keep alive a man who was not born to live in this world forever.

Umar’s (rta) guess proved to be right – Abu Ubaidah (rta) contracted the deadly disease. Before passing away, Abu Ubaidah (rta) addressed his Mujahideen with a special speech, instructing them to keep steadfast in their Islamic duties, to practice good morals, to obey the rulers and, above all, to remember that no one can escape death.

Abu Ubaidah (rta) Ibn Al-Jarrah, ‘the nation’s trustworthy,’ died and was buried in Jordan.