Concept of Modernity in Islam

Vol 3- Issue 3  Concept of modernitySome Muslims feel that anything new or modern is good. But is this really the case? How should we understand modernity as Muslims? First, let us understand what modernization meant to the West.

David Lyon defines modernity:

“The term refers to the social order that emerged following the Enlightenment. Though its roots may be traced further back, the modern world is marked by its unprecedented dynamism, its dismissal or marginalizing of tradition, and by its global consequences.  Time seemed to speed up, and space to open up. Modernity’s forward-looking thrust relates strongly to belief in progress and the power of human reason to produce freedom.”

Lyon mentions that modernization dismisses or marginalizes tradition. He describes tradition as “a set of rules given by the village community, religious cultic life, or the elders or kings who held sway.” I will briefly discuss the benefits and shortcomings of modernization, as defined by the three proclaimed founders of sociology- Karl Marx, Emil Durkheim, and Max Weber – and give the Islamic view on modernization or progress.

Benefits of Modernization

Technological and Industrial Advancement

A major benefit of modernization was the growth of technology and industry. Such technological advances as the steam engine, machine tools, textile mills, and mass production of cars and computers are signs that a society is advancing or progressing – materialistically at least. Technology makes our lives easier and more expansive.

Division of Labor and Increased Individuality

To Emil Durkheim (1858-1917), modernization meant the division of labor (part of the industrial revolution). It relates to a differentiation and specialization of society in general: I specialize in making tires, while you specialize in making engines – we both depend on each other for benefits. The family and the individual have their separate spheres in society. This is linked to an increase in individuality.

Rationality

One of the benefits of modernization, according to Max Weber (1864-1918), is the transformation from traditional or religious dogma to scientific or rational thinking. By modernization and rationalization Weber meant the gradual adoption of a calculating attitude towards nearly all aspects of life. Having pushed what he saw as the ‘spirits and demons’ of traditional culture into the wings, the rational approach of science found its dynamic expression in the capitalist economy and took the centre stage, systematically infusing every sector of society.

Here, Weber’s concept of modernity corresponds with the Enlightenment view, which pushes aside the religious leaders and gives the authority and legitimacy to science and human reasoning. This suggests clues about the mindset of the modern western thinker or intellectual. Generally speaking, he rejects any kind of religion on the basis that it is ‘blindness’ and dogma.

Shortcomings of Modernization

Class Struggle and Capitalism

Karl Marx (1818-83) believed that the capitalists (the owners of production) would exploit the workers because of conflict of interests. Marx argued that the capitalists’ increasing wealth (surplus money) would create class consciousness that would divide society: I am higher than you, because I come from the city, while you come from the village. Marx did not discuss, how race and colour are related to class in western societies. Generally, being dark is linked to belonging to a lower class.

Anomie and Loneliness

According to Durkheim, when people become so much different from each other, they have the potential of falling into anomie – a pathological state of modernity, in which one looses connection with others in society. For example, rock stars take their lives, because they feel that no one understands or really cares about them; people commit suicide, because they get lonely during the holidays.

Modernization from Islamic Perspective

Islam is Enlightenment

First and foremost, secular capitalistic democratic modernization is not successful, because it was created by humans, who are limited in their ability to judge, reason, and comprehend creation. Allah (swt), the Creator of all that exists, says:

“Such is Alah, your Lord! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Creator of all things. So worship Him (Alone), and He is the Wakil (Trustee, Disposer of affairs, Guardian) over all things.” (Al-Anam 6:102)

Because He is the Creator, He is in a better position to tell us, how we should live for our benefit and progress.

Islam’s birth was the light for humanity and the world at large. Allah (swt) says:

“Then if they reject you (O Muhammad), so were Messengers rejected before you, who came with Al-Bayyinat (clear signs, proofs, evidences) and the Scripture and the Book of Enlightenment.” (Al-Imran 3:184)

“Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut [false deities and false leaders], they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever.” (Al-Baqarah 2:257)

These beautiful words remind us that Allah (swt) led us out of the darkness of Kufr to the light of Islam. Many converts to Islam can testify to this. Before, we did not have dignity or respect for ourselves. Our thoughts were shallow and limited to our desires. We saw only races and colours in our fellow human beings, blinded to the potentials of brotherhood.  Truly, Islam enlightens us today, as it did the pagan Arabs of yesterday.

Progress and Advancement in Islam     

Progress is not limited to material advancement, but is holistic in nature. A civilization cannot be called developed, if its creed does not address the greatest questions of the humankind: where do we come from? what is the purpose of life? what happens after the life of this world? Islam profoundly answers these questions – thus, it can be truly called enlightened. Islam deals with a changing world through Ijtihad (exerting effort in understanding a reality, so that it can be judged by Islam to be permitted or not).

Islam’s Motives Differ from Capitalism

Islam does not allow the hoarding of wealth and privatization of natural resources. The Islamic State (which does not exist today) administers the natural resources for the benefit of the people. Allah (swt) says about spending:

“O you who believe! Spend of that with which We have provided for you, before a Day comes when there will be no bargaining, nor friendships, nor intercession. And it is the disbelievers who are the Zalimun (wrong-doers).” (Al-Baqarah 2:254)

“And spend in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad of all kinds) and do not throw yourselves into destruction (by not spending your wealth in the Cause of Allah), and do good. Truly, Allah (swt) loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Baqarah 2:195)

To Allah (swt) we all will return, so it is better to keep our eyes on the objective of life, when it comes to our wealth. If we can alleviate some of the pain of the poor, we should do it. The objective of modern capitalism, however, is to gain more and more wealth, while the masses live in poverty.

Family Ties and Community in Islam

An extreme emphasis on individuality has stripped society of the feeling of community, especially in the West. One is not to ‘cut the ties of the womb’ in Islam. Muslims must take care of their parents and visit their relatives. Muslims must be aware of being a part of one Ummah, which, according to Prophet Muhammad (sa), feels pain as if one body-not nation states.

Finally, many of us are professionals, who learned what we know from theorists and scientists of the West. We must understand that the roots of western ideologies are based only on worldly wisdom. It does not mean that technology, industry, medicine, and research cannot be benefited from. However, we should not depart from Allah (swt) in the process, as the West did.

Allah (swt) says:

“And so judge (you o Muhammad) among them by what Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you (O Muhammad) far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah’s Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most of men are Fasiqun (rebellious and disobedient to Allah).” (Al-Maidah 5:49)

The problem of today’s world is not in one symptom or many symptoms. The problem is the root cause – going away from Allah (swt). I pray to Allah (swt) to forgive my sins and make this short essay benefit our Ummah. Ameen.

Imam Bukhari

Vol 3- Issue 3 Iman BukhariAs a child, he had memorized over seventy thousand Ahadeeth without the aid of pen or paper; such was the fame of the young Imam Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari.

Allah (swt) had blessed him with an amazing memory; the greatest evidence of this is his book of Ahadeeth an-Nabawi, commonly known as Sahih Al-Bukhari. It is universally acknowledged as the most authentic book after the Holy Quran.

Born in Bukhara (present day Uzbekistan), his father passed away during his infancy. Imam Bukhari became blind at a young age; it was his mother’s entreaties to Allah (swt), which led to the restoration of his eyesight. She then set him in the direction of attaining knowledge, which would benefit him and the rest of the world even today.

After acquiring his elementary education at the age of ten, Al-Bukhari obtained admission in the Hadeeth class of Bukhara. A year later, he had such a good retention of the text and chains of transmission of Ahadeeth that sometimes teachers got their corrections from him!

At the age of sixteen, he had memorized the books of learned companions of Imam Abu Haneefah. Then at eighteen, he visited Makkah for further education and later travelled to cities far and wide for the transmission of Ahadeeth. He gained immense knowledge.

Hashid ibn Ismail states: “Imam Bukhari used to go with us to the scholars of Basra to listen to Ahadeeth. All of us used to write Ahadeeth down, except Imam Bukhari. After sixteen days, we thought about it and we condemned Imam Bukhari saying that he had wasted so many days work by not writing down Ahadeeth. Imam Bukhari asked us to bring our notes to him. So we all brought our notes, upon which Imam Bukhari began to read Ahadeeth one by one from the top of his head, until he narrated to us more than fifteen thousand! Hearing these, it seemed that Imam Bukhari was re-teaching us all of the Ahadeeth we had noted.”

His own students bore witness that Al-Bukhari would wake up around twenty times every night to mark Ahadeeth. Furthermore, he would perform Salaat-ul-Istikara before recording each Hadeeth.

People would flock to the Masjid in Basra to learn from this Sheikh, who was often found in humble prayer. Yet, he remained a simple and hard working person. He fulfilled his needs himself and even laid bricks to construct an inn near Bukhara, hoping that: “On the Day of Judgment, this act will be of benefit to me.”

Imam Bukhari’s generosity extended beyond sharing knowledge. He often gave vast sums of money as Sadaqah and would spend his entire month’s earnings on his students.  He also avoided backbiting and suspicion and once said: “I am hopeful that when I meet my Lord, He will not take account of me because I never backbite.”

Imam Bukhari died on the night of Eid-ul-Fitr 256 AH. He was around 62 years old. A scholar, worshipper, and a prosperous man, he always feared Allah and shone with the love of the Messenger (sa). From Salah to fasting, the Muslim Ummah realizes, how indebted it is to Imam Bukhari for furnishing us with the necessary details of going about our daily acts of worship. He compiled and circulated the Ahadeeth of the Prophet (sa) wherever possible and Allah (swt) spread his status to every corner of the world.

Faith & the Hill

Ramla Akhter shows us how a little faith takes us a long way.

Excerpt from an e-mail to a dear old (non-Muslim) friend, who has been a great listener of my life’s stories over the years

By the way, there is an athletic ritual called Saee in Umrah (in Masjid-Al-Haraam, Makkah). The meaning of the word Saee in Arabic and Urdu is ‘effort or endeavour’. It’s a 3.15 km run between two hills, now paved with marble. One actually paces up and down an air-conditioned gallery 7 times back and forth between the two hills of Safa and Marwah. It is to commemorate Hajrah’s (as) run between the two hills in search of water and food for Ismail (as).
It’s a tough run after other Umrah rituals. While I was doing it the second time in three days, I gave up after the second round. My right foot is bent inwards due to years of back injury and strain. I almost thought of the wheel chair rides that are available. (The ritual is a must, of course. And one can’t quit in the middle and go home. Fortunately, we can rest as long as we want anywhere on the route and on the two hills.) I sat down at Safa, the first hill, and cried. You can cry without shame in that place. People don’t really notice. And they think you’re crying for the love of Allah (swt). You know, I cried because I felt very disabled. Then I realized that Hajrah (as) didn’t run here in Nike runners, or in an air-conditioned gallery.
That’s when the lesson of that ritual became clear to me: MAKE AN EFFORT. The story goes that Hajrah’s (as) effort was rewarded by the miracle of the issuance of water from between the hills – now known as the Water of Zamzam. So, after a half hour of crying and massaging my feet and back, I got up and walked. Then I remembered something I read in “7 Habits”: just after an athlete has reached the limit of pain, s/he is rewarded with a tremendous release of energy that compensates for that muscle ache. I gave it a try. I limped. It is ugly to have to limp, when you’re so young – and it’s hard, when the pain is just jolt-jolt-jolting through the body. (I guess no one can know a backache and a headache, until they have one.)
Then, I noticed a 70-year-old Pakistani man pushing his wife in a wheel chair. And I visualized these mountains, 1000s of years ago, naked, hot, and scorched. And I imagined I was running between them barefoot, looking for water. I passed up the temptation of the many sprays and coolers of Zamzam that line the corridor.
The effect that this visualization had on me was stunning. Suddenly, my pain was much, much easier. My feet were actually thankful (the entire Umrah is done barefoot.) I also felt that making an effort is something that comes with, well, effort. I realized that I have so many gifts as a person – hardly anything has been an effort for ME – though it might have awed others. It was finally time to test my character.
There are seven rounds to be made between the two hills. I had unbearable pain by the fourth round, to the extent that my mind was blacking out. But I held on to Stephen Covey’s wisdom, and my life’s wisdom, if any, and the visualization of Hajrah (as). Perhaps the blacking out helped, as I imagined a huge rock in the place of the Kabah, and the real scene disappeared. To my memory, it still seems that I ran on bare, sun-hot rocks.
My foot was slightly bent inwards, and whenever I walked fast, there was a feeling of a tight string about to break from my back to my toe. This has prevented me from extensive walking for the past few years. By the fifth round, while I was struggling to straighten my long-bent foot by placing it firmly and evenly on the ground, something happened.
My mind was really blacking out to the extent that I felt I had completely lost it. For a split second the pain was gone. And suddenly there was a click-click sound. Some long-displaced bone just fell in place. My foot was okay.
Do you remember the Forrest Gump’s moment-of-release from his leg braces? It just happened! My foot just fell in place! What I read in “7 Habits” about an actual athletic phenomenon really happened. There was suddenly a tremendous rush of energy, and whatever was blocking energy (blood and oxygen to be exact and more scientific) just let go of its ugly grip.
It was one of the deepest emotional moments of my life. It happened, and I had no one to tell it to. I walked on. Now, whenever I have an “uphill” task ahead of me, I will remember the little lesson of Saee and of having a little but helpful amount of faith.
A little faith in a better tomorrow makes the present a lot easier, for us and for our loved ones.

Masha’Allah – A wonderful experience!

Forces of Change

Vol 3- Issue 3 Forces of ChangeA glance at the past would show urban Pakistani women involved in various extra-curricular activities: cooking classes, fitness programs, volunteer work or school-teaching to name a few. Studying the Quran and the Sunnah in a proper educational setup was not common. Today, a noteworthy and heart-warming trend observed among them is that, whether residing in their home-country or abroad, they are turning towards this fruitful endeavor in hordes. Attending Quranic Tafseer and Hadeeth classes as regular students, sitting in part-time as casual attendees, listening to audio tapes or taking Internet classes – most women can be found actively pursuing Islamic education at their own pace. Anyone we meet has a sister, daughter, aunt, mother-in-law, friend or neighbor absorbed in this pastime. The Hijab is randomly sprouting up in even the most ‘modernized’ of clans as an eye-opening reality that change is imminent.

The initial journey towards enlightenment for most of these women is, however, hardly a rosy one. The first challenge they face is the demand their studies make on their time: after coming home, they still have to study for the next day. Tests are routine. For most, learning to balance their time between studies and family is a difficult task.

Another obstacle they face is the mounting friction with family members. Since the Quran teaches them, what Allah (swt) has ordained and what He has forbidden, they get emotionally-charged with wish to change overnight into ideal Muslims, inadvertently feeling intolerance for some un-Islamic activities going on in their homes. Since their family is not being enlightened by the Quran every day, they cannot cope with the sudden criticism of their day-to-day activities.

“My husband has been drinking for years now, and I never used to object,” confides one well-off mother-of-two, “but ever since I have started studying the Quran, I cannot tolerate this habit of his. I keep telling him that alcohol is Haram, which is making things sour between us.”

“None of my teens perform Salah. This is agonizing me with worry, and often I end up shouting at them. They just don’t listen!” laments one mother.

“My daughters are under immense peer pressure – all their friends date boys. I am seriously thinking Nikah at 16 is the only option for my teenagers,” worries a Pardah-observing mother.

“My mother constantly chides me for having started Hijab. She only covers her head in the Bazaars and says I should do no more either; else, I will receive proposals only from Maulvi-type families,” says a young IBA graduate.

What can these well-meaning students of the Quran, desiring to see their family members join them on their path towards pleasing Allah (swt), do in order to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of their homes?

Remember your own past

For being more humble and less judgmental, a Mumin should recall his own past actions, realizing that only Allah (swt) can guide His slaves. Have you yourself become the best model of Islamic conduct that you can start criticizing everybody in sight? It is easy to judge and analyze others. Constant self-criticism and self-accountability will ensure that you approach your relatives with softness and humility.

Focus on giving the rights of others due on you

If an immense positive change will come about in you after studying the Quran, your relatives will also want to study it. Be giving in all relational aspects, returning bad behavior with good – extend good conduct towards the fussy husband, the nosy neighbor, the interfering sister-in-law, the lazy servant, and the rude teenager. Fighting and returning taunts of others with some of your own implies a need for improvement in your own conduct. Your children should have enough trust in you to come to you for advice, instead of maintaining a distance for fear of an onslaught. Be their friend and confidante. Cater to all their emotional needs.

Patience

Try to restrain the urge to lecture your family. You got there before them, but dragging them towards Allah (swt), when they are reluctant, will only make them turn away more diffidently. Control your reaction, when you see them doing something wrong. It’s difficult, yes, but don’t say anything then. Wait for the right time.

Learn Hikmah – the wisdom of Dawah

Educate yourself with the ‘what-when-how-how much’ of Dawah. The mood of the listener, the words you choose, the tone of your voice, and the length of time you speak are of utmost importance. A little imbalance can cause more damage than benefit. You can even convey the message via printed Islamic material, such as pamphlets, books or articles. If your daughter gossips for hours with her friends, give her material about proper use of the tongue; if your son gazes at girls, give him an article about lowering the gaze. Do it tactfully, at the right time. Most importantly, lead by example.

Refrain from negativity

Complains, taunts, sarcasm, insults, scolding and shouting constitute a huge mistake on the part of a Mumin desiring Allah’s (swt) pleasure. In fact, such conduct (Akhlaaq) fairs very poorly in our own scale of deeds. Our closest relatives, no matter what they do, are deserving the best conduct from us.

If you hold on to these golden rules of behavior with your family, time will show you, how they become your greatest friends and supporters. Your husband will clear the table, while you revise your lesson. Your daughter will help with cooking Sunday lunch, while you study for your test. Your son will rush to get your notes photo-copied for your classmates. More than that, as the years pass, they themselves will transform into the practicing Muslims you wish them to be!

“…Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e., Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) and verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)

Travel Indonesia

Vol 3- Issue 3 Travel IndonesiaIndonesia, a large group of islands in South East Asia, is a unique country. Islam is the dominant religion with the greatest number of adherents. The high number of Muslims makes Indonesia the most populous Muslim majority nation in the world. Indonesians are known to be very courteous people and often cited as gentle and god fearing. As the world experiences targeted militancy, Indonesia has not been spared. Nevertheless, it remains a favourite and economical tourist destination today for a myriad of reasons.

Places of Interest

Surabaya

A booming city of over three million, Surabaya offers many good hotels, shopping centers, and entertainment places. Its well-stocked zoological garden includes several species of Indonesian fauna such as orangutan, komodo dragon, and a collection of nocturnal animals. Mpu Tantular Museum offers archeological art and cultural items from prehistoric times until the country’s independence.

Trowulan – Pandaan – Tretes

The surroundings of the Trowulan village is believed to be the site of the ancient capital of Majapahit. Archeological excavations in the area have recovered many terracotta ornaments, statues, pottery, and stone carvings, which are displayed at the Trowulan Museum. Up to 10 km from Chandra Wilwatika is Tretes, one of the most beautiful mountain resorts of East Java.

Malang

90 km south of Surabaya is Malang, one of the most attractive towns in Java. A strong sense of civic pride is sensed from the well-maintained and painted becaks, the neat main-square, buildings, and streets. The cool climate is one reason why it is highly desirable among the East Javanese.

Purwodadi Botanical Garden

Founded in 1941 for the study of plants growing under relatively dry conditions, the Purwodadi gardens lie about 30 km northeast of the Malang, just off the Surabaya-Malang main road on the lowest slopes of Mt. Arjuno at an altitude of 300 metres .

Mount Bromo

One of the most exciting experiences is watching the sunrise from the crest of the Bromo volcano, a three-hour drive from Surabaya, followed by a pony ride from the village of Ngadisari over a sea of sand to the foot of a volcano.

Sadengan is a famous wild life reserve and feeding ground smaller in size than that of Baluran. It is in possession of 700 wild buffaloes and a variety of other wild life, all of which can be seen from the viewing tower.

Meru Betiri Reserve

After a rough 30 km ride, which crosses half a dozen rivers through dense jungle and rubber plantation, you finally arrive here on the southeastern tip of the province, where the last of the Javanese tigers had sought refuge. A hundred and fifty years ago, Javanese tiger inhabited most of Java and was even considered a nuisance in some populated areas. But through the 1800s and early 1900s it was hunted mercilessly and its habitat destroyed by plantation builders. The government and the World Wildlife Fund have mounted a determined effort to save the tiger and its environment.

Food

Rice is the basis of almost all Indonesian dishes and is usually served with fish, chicken, or vegetables. Two common dishes, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goring, can be found everywhere and are an easy introduction to the Indonesian diet. Every town has at least one market, providing the traveller with an incredible range of fruits, vegetables, and snacks. Warungs, or food stalls, offer the tastiest and cheapest food.  If you choose to eat from Warungs, check to see if locals are eating there. Indonesians drink hot coffee and tea, but bottled soft drinks are readily available. Most dishes are eaten using hands.

Clothing

On many formal national occasions, men in the early 1990s wore Batik shirts with no ties that were not tucked into their trousers. They wore black felt caps or Peci, once associated with Muslims or Malays. Women wore Sarongs on formal occasions, along with the Kebaya, a long-sleeved blouse. On these occasions, women often tied their hair into a bun.

In addition, they might have carried a Selendang, a long stretch of cloth draped over the shoulder, which on less formal occasions was used to carry babies or objects.

Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta

Among the many Masajid this one is special. A 45 meter diameter central spherical dome covers the main prayer hall. Staircases at the corners of the building give access to all floors. The main hall is reached through an entrance covered by a dome 10 meters in diameter. The mosque also provides facilities for social and cultural activities, including lectures, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, Bazaars, and programs for women, youth, and children.

Sports

Boat racing and kite flying are very popular on most of the islands. Stone jumping is a sport in Nias. Young men, who play this game, sometimes jump over a wall with a sword in their hand. A favourite sport is Sepak Takraw. Two teams try to keep a rattan ball in the air with their feet. Badminton and tennis are popular throughout Indonesia. Indonesians are long-standing winners of the Thomas Cup men’s division and the women’s championship for badminton. Soccer is another popular sport. The Indonesian government encourages ‘sport for all.’

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception in Islam – Part II

which_method-HUBIn the last issue, we looked at the permissibility of birth control in Islam as well as the process of fertilization. The thumb rule is: any method that prevents fertilization of a mother’s egg and father’s sperm is allowed, whereas a method that destroys a fertilized Zygote (Nutfah) or is an irreversible process is not permitted.

With this perspective, let us now analyze the options available to us.

Common Methods of Contraception

1) Natural methods

Rhythm method

An egg can be fertilized only during the day or so after ovulation. Sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 6 days. So intercourse that takes place more than 5 days before or 2 days after ovulation is unlikely to lead to pregnancy. Abstinence during this period is called the rhythm method. Women need to know exactly, when they ovulate, by measuring their body temperature and/or levels of hormones by a urine test.

Withdrawal method (Azl)

The husband withdraws from the wife’s vagina before the release of sperm. This method was practiced during the time of the Prophet (sa).

2) Chemical methods

They are also known as spermicidal chemicals. Chemicals such as nonoxynol 9 are inserted in the vagina – these are all acidic and inactivate the alkaline sperm. They are usually available in the form of soaps, foams or jellies.

3) Mechanical barriers

These prevent husband’s sperm from entering the wife’s vagina.

Condom

This is a sheath of thin flexible material (such as latex) worn by the husband. They are highly effective and are the most commonly used form of contraception in Pakistan.

Diaphragm

This is a rubber dome placed at the upper end of the vagina. They may be used alongside spermicidal chemicals.

Cervical cap

This is an impermeable cap fitted over the wife’s cervix. It may be left in place until menstruation.

4) Hormonal methods

Oral combined pill

This is also called an oral contraceptive pill (OCP). It contains a combination of two synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin. The estrogen works in the ovaries to prevent ovulation (release of egg) by giving negative feedback. The two most commonly prescribed OCPs in Pakistan are Nordette (by Wyeth) and Marvelon (by Organon).

Oral progesterone only pill (POP pill)

This is also known as the mini pill. It contains a very low dosage of the hormone progestin. It does not inhibit ovulation but creates local changes, which interfere in either fertilization or implantation of the fertilized zygote. This type of pill is not currently available in Pakistan.

5) Intrauterine devices (IUD)

For centuries camel drivers in northern Africa inserted a stone in the uterus of their female camels before starting on a long trek. This prevented the animal from becoming pregnant on the journey.

The intrauterine device (IUD) accomplishes the same purpose. It must be inserted by a physician. A variety of materials (usually containing some copper) and shapes are used.  Coils (Cu 7 & CuT) and Lippes Loop are commonly used. Research indicates that it is the presence of a foreign body within the uterus that makes conditions unfavorable for implantation of the fertilized zygote.

IUDs have caused such bad side effects (e.g., infections of the uterus and fallopian tubes) that only two types remain on the U.S. market! They are used in Pakistan as well. One is Mirena® – it releases a progestin and can be left in place for up to 5 years.

6) Sterilization:

These are irreversible processes.

Tubal ligation

A woman’s fallopian tubes (both of them!) are cut and tied, so that no egg can be fertilized. It requires incision(s) and must be done under anesthesia.

Vasectomy

A man’s reproductive tubules in the testes are cut near the top of the scrotum. It can be done in the doctor’s office with a local anesthetic in 30-40 minutes.

We need to educate ourselves and spread awareness about the various types of contraception options. Otherwise, there are chances of getting pressurized by family planning workers or ‘well-meaning’ gynecologists to use a particular method increases, if we have no idea how it works. It is mostly lack of awareness that leads women and families to make unwise birth control choices or none at all. Sterilization and IUDs are recommended by doctors, who themselves are most probably not aware of their consequences.

Having identified the permissible methods available to us, the choice of method of contraception is ultimately a personal one. We must consult a medical practitioner to determine that it is a safe way.

Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why permissible?Intervention before fertilization
Rhythm No artificial intervention
Withdrawal No artificial intervention
Combined pill No egg release
Condom No sperm entry
Diaphragm No sperm entry
Cervical cap No sperm entry
Spermicidal chemicals Inactivates sperm

Non-Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why not permissible?Intervention after fertilization or irreversible process
Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) e.g. coil Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Progestin only pill: POP pill Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Vasectomy (male sterilization) Irreversible process
Tubal ligation (female sterilization) Irreversible process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personality Ethics vs. Character Ethics

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Reaping benefits out of the Quran and Seerah, I always notice, how they place absolutely uncompromising emphasis on the value of character integrity. But what really took me by surprise was reading Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book was so much in line with the core Islamic values. The author narrates his personal experience of the middle seventies, when he was required to review 200 years of success literature published in the USA as part of a doctoral program.

He scanned hundreds of books on self-improvement, popular psychology, and self-help. A startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature was noticed. Much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic troubles untouched to fester and resurface later on.

It was after the World War I that the trend of focusing on the personality ethics emerged. According to Covey, “success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,’ ‘Smiling wins more friends than frowning,’ and ‘Whatever the mind of man conceives and believes, it can achieve.'”

It also focused on clearly manipulative, even deceptive tactics, such as using techniques to make others like us and to fake interest in the hobbies of others for achieving what we want. The personality ethic approved of intimidating others and wearing the ‘power look.’

However, some elements of the personality ethics are essential for success, such as personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking. But they are secondary in greatness. It is like constructing a building, whose foundation is the character ethics, or reaping a harvest, whose seeds lie in our character strength.

Now, let us have a look at the character ethics. In 1776, thinkers and social scientists of United States believed that the foundation of success lied in such values as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the golden rule. Everything that the Quran has ever taught us – that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can experience true success and enduring happiness only as they integrate these principles into their characters. These are the principles of character ethics.

If we were to use human influence strategies and tactics to get work done, to be more motivated, or to make others like us, while our character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity, then in the long run, we cannot be successful. Once the charm disappears and the real face appears, all techniques will cave in. Frustration will build, relationships will become sour, and in spite of efforts, results will be far from desirable.

Lessons to Learn

As the West compartmentalized the character ethics, rather than recognizing it as a foundational and catalytic ingredient of success, they have paid the price. It gave birth to a ruthless and self-centered perception of life. This can be very blatantly observed in the media campaigns they broadcast and through the behaviors of an entire generation, which skipped the core values to cram in quick-fix solutions into their lives.

But as the saying goes, it is not a pity to sight someone making a mistake but to experience others repeating that mistake, rather than learning from it. Pakistan regretfully is treading the same path.

Last year, when I experienced the ordeal of getting my 3 and ½ year old son into school, my shock knew no bounds. Every reputed school was interested in an extrovert and outspoken child. Every mother wanted her kid to be the most eloquent voice box in town, mainly because that was in demand. God forbid, if the child failed the school entrance test – the parents went into mourning, self-pity, and envy.

I wondered if ever any of these parents went to that length to teach their children the significance of honesty, compassion, or other basic values in life. Instead, at this tender age of learning, they were being conditioned to a whole set of superficial traits, which would mould their mindsets into believing that this is the ultimate key to achievement. Later in life when they fail, they would be left devastated and confused.

Steven Covey has presented his case with a strong example of the law of harvest. If we forget to sow in the spring, play all summer and try to cram in the harvest in autumn, what will happen? Can we expect a shortcut? No. It is a natural system. The price must be paid and process must be followed. This also works for human relationships, whether at work or at home. If marriages are contracted on the pretext of false pretence and a flimsy veneer bringing two families together, when the charming tactics and techniques begin to crack up, relationships will break up, too.

There is an extremely powerful and critical lesson to be learnt here, something that every single one of us can relate to. We need to develop, change, and even train ourselves inside-out. Basic goodness gives life to technique. Once the values are in place, additional tactics can lead us to success. In Islamic terms, we can relate this to Tazkiyah-e-Nafs (self-accountability). Attempting to correct our own faults and constantly trying to improve ourselves by following the primary values (character ethics) and then developing the secondary principles (personality ethics). Once we have sown the seeds of a strong character upholding core values, success is bound to follow in our personal and professional lives and even beyond – in our lives in the Hereafter.

Is it a Luxury?

bsr005This article is the first part of a new series about ethical dilemmas at work.

A young business executive complained bitterly about gender discrimination at work. A wife was griping about the fact that her husband had to spend his Sunday at the office to compensate for the hours lost because of Eid vacations. A marketing student was having difficulty reconciling marketing principles with her knowledge of Islam. A businessman expressed how difficult it was to get work done without resorting to bribery. The list can go on and on. Do our prayers and fasting in Ramadan help us become better Muslims? Or is it just fine to leave Islam at home, when you come to work?

Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Al-Dhariyat 51:56) Therefore, it’s important to realize that the purpose of our life is to submit to Allah’s (swt) will; in short – to be Muslims.

Before committing to a code of ethics, clarify your intention and remind yourself that as a Muslim you ought to pay heed to what your Creator tells you. He knows best; therefore, you ought to give yourself up to Him.

An eye-opening Hadeeth emphasizes the importance of safeguarding our faith, whether at home or at work. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Hasten in good deeds before calamities, which will come like portions of a dark night. A man will get up a believer in the morning and an unbeliever at dusk, and a believer at dusk and an unbeliever in the morning. He will sell his religion in exchange for the frail goods of this world.” (Muslim)

Keep in mind the last words of the Hadeeth. Most of us believe that a step towards ethics means a step towards economic loss. The two, however, do not connect. We have no less than our own Prophet’s (sa) example, who had worked as a trader. When Khadijah (rta) employed him to go to Syria for trade, he returned with more profits and blessings than before. Khadijah (rta) was informed by her servant about Muhammad’s (sa) good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity, and faith.

We also have other examples, such as Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta), who was a wealthy trader, and Muhammad ibn Ismail Bukhari (better known as Imam Bukhari), who also was a wealthy trader and a Muhaddith (Hadith scholar). On the flip side of the coin, we have today’s examples of such as Enron and Worldcom, which had to suffer because of unethical decisions at the executive level.

Before proceeding with issues regarding work ethics, it’s important to do self-check for assessing, whether we have the level of Iman for taking a principled stand in dealing with ethical dilemmas at work.

Check your Taqwa Level

As Muslims we need to check our level of Taqwa (consciousness about Allah (swt)), for it has a direct bearing on our compliance with the Islamic code of ethics. How to do this is a question many wonder about.

Check the state of your heart in three situations: (1) when listening to the Quran, (2) in gatherings, where Allah’s (swt) Dhikr is done, and (3) in solitude. Check how you feel in such situations. Do you feel that Allah (swt) is watching you? If not, then pray to Allah (swt) for a sound heart (Qalb-e-saleem).

Keep in Mind the Hereafter

Belief in the fact that life in this world is temporary and whatever we do here has a bearing on life in the Hereafter is an important component of faith. Reading the Quran, keeping in mind death, and doing Dhikr help us to remain conscious about life after death. We should not merely believe in the Hereafter but have the highest level of conviction that we will have to give an account of our deeds, for which we will be justly recompensed. Describing the qualities of the Muttaqin (the pious), Allah (swt) says: “…and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:4)

Offer Salah and Make Duas

It’s important that as a practicing Muslim, you should offer your five daily mandatory prayers. You should also try to offer voluntary prayers (Nafl), whenever you can. Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah (swt) is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Dua (supplication) is also an important form of contact with Allah (swt). A very comforting verse of the Quran is: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant, when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor)…” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Pray to Allah (swt) to grant you piety and to purify your soul. A beautiful supplication of the Prophet (sa) is as follows: “O Allah! Grant my soul (Nafs) its piety and purify it, for You are the Best of the ones to purify it, (as) You are its Guardian and Master.”

Don’t be Sad

Don’t despair, if your self-assessment does not come out excellent. Allah (swt) says: “Say: ‘O Ibadi (My slaves), who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah (swt): verily, Allah (swt) forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Also, try to look for friends inside and outside the organization, who may help you stick to your principles, when faced with ethical issues. Above all, remain committed and pray for help to Allah (swt). May He reward your efforts. Ameen.

How to decide, whether your act was ethical or not?

Ask yourself the following

1.   Did this act bring you closer to Allah (swt)?

2.   Did this act move you away from Satan?

3.   Did this act bring you closer to Paradise?

4.   Did this act move you away from Hell?

Interesting Fact

Xerox Corporation has a 15 page ethical code, one section of which states:

“We’re honest with our customers. No deals, no bribes, no secrets, no fooling around with prices. A kickback in any form kicks anybody out. Anybody.”

Witness to a Shahadah (Declaration of Faith)

By Umm Usman 

“Would you like to come in tomorrow? A woman is taking Shahadah,” my son’s teacher asked me. My son is studying in an Islamic school in America. I had never actually seen a non-Muslim embracing Islam, so I said I would like to join them. I am glad I did, as it turned out to be a highly enriching experience.

I got there a little early to set up the snacks. I did not know the sister, who was going to take the Shahadah, except that she was a student’s mother. Whenever a woman came in, I thought may be she was the one?

Soon entered an African sister, and by the way she walked in, unsure, yet smiling, I knew she was the one. The teacher ran to greet her and asked her to join us. We tried to make her feel at ease, as she seemed elated and perplexed at the same time.

I wondered what was racing through her mind? What made her decide to revert to Islam?

We sat down on plastic mats on the floor, the sister in our midst. The school children stood around us. A Muslim man associated with the school came in and sat on a chair facing the sister.

He spoke about believing in One God and His Prophet (sa), about the responsibilities of a Muslim, and the pillars of Islam. The sister listened very intently as did everyone else. He then asked her a few questions about the basic message of Islam.

Then, she slowly repeated the words of the Shahadah after the brother.

“Ash hadu an la ilaha ill Allah wa ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasul Allah.”

“I declare there is no god but Allah (swt) and I declare that Muhammad (sa) is the Messenger of Allah (swt).”

It was pure joy to hear her significant words! I felt a very palpable peace enveloping the room. “The angels surely are surrounding us,” was a thought that came to my mind.

I felt blessed to be witnessing a soul being carried into the safety of Iman. We take for granted being born in Muslim families, whereas here was a woman, who had been through disbelief and was choosing to become Muslim with Allah’s (swt) Mercy.

I also felt a deep yearning for what she had gained here.  All her sins before entering Islam had been erased and forgiven by Allah (swt). She was sinless at this very moment and had a fresh start.

Our hearts filled with love for the new Muslimah. It was amazing, how we felt an instant bonding with this stranger, as soon as she became a sister in Islam. This is also one of Allah’s (swt) bounties that Muslims can feel an immediate attachment with other Muslims.

With moist eyes, we congratulated her, and all the women hugged her. The teachers hugged her son, who beamed happily at his mom, who was now cheerful and calm.

Each one of us gave her gifts, including books of basic Islamic guidance, such as Wudu, Salah, and Fasting. She said these were the things she has many questions about. There were also scarves, CDs of Quran, and sweets.

Chatting over snacks, she said that her Muslim husband put their son in this Islamic school, where she got the opportunity to observe and interact with so many Muslims for three years. This helped her to make up her mind about reverting to Islam.

May Allah (swt) keep her and all of us steadfast in faith till our last breath. Ameen.

Modernity for Young Muslim Women

Vol 3- Issue 3 Modernity for young Muslim womenThe place of modernity in Islam is a controversial issue, often dividing Muslims into those, who condemn anything modern as incompatible with the ethos of Islam, and those, who claim that Muslims must embrace modernity in order to survive and grow.

Being a Muslim woman, I am faced with the same question of modernity. However, for me as a convert Muslim, this question takes on new dimensions, because I stepped into Islam right out of the western modernity.

In order to address the dilemma of modernity for Muslim women, it is first necessary to define what modernity is. For society in general, modernity means progress, advancement of technology, rise of secularism, and emphasis on reason and free will. For women in particular, modernity holds liberation and equality.

For western women, liberation and equality essentially means exercising the same social, legal, and personal rights as men are enjoying. The history of the first modern western woman dates back to the 1920s in the US, when American women got their right to vote, asserted their presence in society by stepping out of their homes, and gradually began breaking the taboos their mothers hardly dared to talk about. During these years, the American women (who were more advanced than their European counterparts) discovered their sexuality and began insisting on the same freedoms as men in choosing personal habits, including smoking, drinking, dancing, and dressing provocatively.

What can modernity offer to a Muslim woman?  Basically the same- liberation and equality. How so? Modernity doesn’t necessarily have to be defined from a single western perspective. The truth is women’s liberation movements didn’t begin at the end of the nineteenth century as western historians claim. Its roots can be traced back to the seventh century – the time of the Prophet Muhammad (sa). Many Muslim women don’t realize that Islam upgraded their status equal to that of men’s about 1400 years ago – the Quran clearly states that men and women are equal in whatever deeds they do. (An-Nahl 16:97, Al-Ahzab 33:35) It is important, however, to understand the distinctions that Islam makes between genders.

“The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he, just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights – but not identical – shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.” (Abdul-Ati)

I personally feel that the true liberation for Muslim women lies in recognizing the temporary nature of this world – we will meet Allah (swt) and face the actual reality of life only after our worldly death. This intellectual freedom raises Muslim women above the mundane ‘freedoms’ western women so persistently struggle for – we submit to nothing and none but Allah (swt) and His teachings. Thus, with a complete peace of mind we can enjoy the equality with men granted to us by Allah (swt), not worrying about being the same with them.

Have I betrayed the female sex by converting to Islam or have I become any less modern than other western women? My answer is a definite ‘no.’

Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta)

Vol 3- Issue 3   Abdur Rahman ibn 'AwfHis name in the days of Jahiliyah was Abdu Amr, but after accepting Islam, the Prophet (sa) called him Abdur-Rahman (rta) – the servant of the Beneficent. Abdur-Rahman (rta) became a Muslim two days after Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (rta). He did not escape but steadfastly bore the punishment inflicted on the early Muslims by Quraish. As a result, when they were compelled to leave Makkah for Abyssinia, Abdur-Rahman (rta) went too. He returned to Makkah, when it was rumoured that conditions had improved for Muslims, but that was contrary to the truth, and so he went to Abyssinia again on a second Hijrah. He later returned to Makkah and made the Hijrah to Madinah.

Soon after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet (sa) began pairing the Muhajirin with the Ansar. This established a firm bond of brotherhood, and eased the destitution of the Muhajirin. Abdur-Rahman (rta) was linked by the Prophet (sa) with Saad ibn ar-Rabiah (rta). Saad (rta) in the spirit of generosity offered to Abdur-Rahman (rta): “My brother! Among the people of Madinah I have the most wealth. I have two orchards and I have two wives. See, which of the two orchards you like, and I shall vacate it for you, and which of my two wives is pleasing to you, and I will divorce her for you.”

Abdur-Rahman (rta) replied: “May Allah (swt) bless you in your family and your wealth. But just show me, where the Suk (market place) is.

Abdur-Rahman (rta) went to the marketplace and began trading whatever resources he had and made a profit. He continued and his profits grew rapidly. Soon, he was well off and was able to get married. He went to the Prophet (sa) smelling of perfume.

“Mahyam, O Abdur-Rahman!” exclaimed the Prophet (sa) – “Mahyam” being a word of Yemeni origin indication pleasant surprise. “I have got married,” replied Abdur-Rahman (rta). “And what did you give your wife as Mahr?” “The weight of a Nuwat in gold.” “You must have a feast, even if it is with a single sheep. And may Allah (swt) bless you in your wealth,” said the Prophet (sa).

Thereafter Abdur-Rahman (rta) was successful in business.  It was said that if he lifted a stone, he expected to find gold or silver underneath!

Abdur-Rahman (rta) distinguished himself in both battles – Badr and Uhud. At Uhud he remained firm despite suffering over twenty wounds, some severe. Even so, his physical Jihad matched that of his wealth.

When the Prophet (sa) decided to send an expedition to distant Tabuk – the last Ghazwah during his lifetime – he was in need of finance, material, and men to go against the huge and well-equipped forces of the Byzantine. That year in Madinah was one of drought and hardship. The journey to Tabuk was long and provisions were low.

The Prophet (sa) urged his companions to give generously for the path of Allah (swt) and assured them that they would be rewarded. The Muslims’ response to the Prophet’s (sa) call was immediate and generous. In the forefront was Abdur-Rahman (rta), who donated two hundred Awqiyah of gold.

The Muslim army eventually left for Tabuk. The time of Salah came, and the Prophet (sa) was not there, so the Muslims chose Abdur-Rahman (rta) as their Imam. Just before the completion of the first Rakat the Prophet (sa) joined the worshippers and performed the Salah behind Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta). Could there be a greater honour conferred on anyone than to have been the Imam of the most honoured of Allah’s (swt) creation!

When the Prophet (sa) passed away, Abdur-Rahman (rta) took on the responsibility of looking after the needs of his family. He would go with them wherever they pleased, and even performed Hajj with them to ensure all their needs were met. This is a sign of the trust and confidence, which he enjoyed on the part of the Prophet’s (sa) family.

Once he sold a piece of land and distributed the entire amount among the Banu Zahrah (relatives of the Prophet’s (sa) mother Aminah (rta)), poor Muslims, and the Prophet’s (sa) wives.

The prayer of the Prophet (sa) that Allah (swt) should bestow Barakah on the wealth of Abdur-Rahman (rta) accompanied Abdur-Rahman (rta). He became the richest man among the Companions of the Prophet (sa). His trading caravans grew bringing to the people of Madinah wheat, flour, butter, cloth, utensils, perfume, and other commodities and exporting whatever surplus produce they had.

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard beyond the boundaries of Madinah. In addition, clouds of dust were seen. The people of Madinah realized that a mighty caravan was entering their city. They were amazed as seven hundred camels laden with goods crowded the streets. There was much excitement as people called others to witness the sight and goods that they had brought.

Aisha (rta) heard the commotion and asked: “What is this that’s happening in Madinah?”

She was told: “It is the caravan of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf, which has come from Syria bearing merchandise.” “A caravan making all this commotion?” she asked in disbelief. “Yes, O Ummul-Mumineen. There are seven hundred camels.”

Aisha (rta) shook her head and gazed in the distance, trying to recall an utterance of the past and said: “I have heard the Messenger of Allah (sa) say: ‘I have seen Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf entering Paradise creeping.'”

Some friends related this Hadeeth to Abdur-Rahman (rta), although he had heard it more than once from the Prophet (sa). He hurried to Aisha (rta) and said: “Ya Ammah! Have you heard that from the Messenger (sa)?” “Yes,” she replied.

“If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, ya Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will give Fi-Sabilillah.”

And so he did. This is just one incident that shows the type of man Abdur-Rahman (rta) was. He earned much wealth, but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and did not allow it to corrupt him.

All this wealth did not corrupt Abdur-Rahman (rta). When he was among his workers and assistants, people could not distinguish him from them. One day, food was brought to him with which to end a fast. He looked at the food and said: “Musab ibn ‘Umayr (rta) has been killed. He was better than me. We did not find anything of his to shroud him, with except what covered his head but left his legs uncovered… Then Allah (swt) endowed us with the (bounties of) the world… I really fear that our reward has been bestowed on us early (in this world).” He began to cry and sob and could not eat.

May Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta) be granted felicity among “Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allah (swt) and do not follow up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury, their reward is with their Lord. On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 262)

Dear Haadia

Question: I am a recent revert to Islam and want to learn and practice more and more every day. My family, unfortunately, does not approve of my inclination towards Deen. As a result, we are having constant friction at home. What should I do?

Answer: First, Barak Allah (swt) on your being a Muslim. Alhumdulillah. My dear sister, do remember the path to Jannah passes through many trials. This is the Law of Allah (swt) to strengthen and purify a Muslim’s Iman. As Allah (swt) says: “And certainly, We shall surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Also, never despair, as Allah (swt) promises us: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief, verily along with every hardship is relief.” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

Now, what should we do when faced with such opposition, especially from our dear ones?

First of all, remember that God knows every iota of our intentions. So, we must begin with utterly pure intentions.

You must let go of all the things that you try to control in your life and recognize that God is in control. This is part of your fate.

Constantly analyze your behaviour. Allah (swt) states: “Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa) sa) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.” (An-Nahl 16:125)

Stay firm upon Islam and your belief in Allah (swt), but continue to treat your family with respect and honour, in spite of their opposing beliefs. It is not permissible for you to obey your family, if they request you to act in disobedience to Allah (swt), because we are not to obey any of the creation, if it involves disobedience to Allah (swt) – our Creator. Allah (swt) has the greatest right over the human being, and Allah’s (swt) right to be worshipped and obeyed deserves to be fulfilled first and foremost. You should strive to please your family by showing them kindness and respect. Practically speaking, one may increase smiling and giving gifts, checking the tone of voice.

In the Quran, Allah (swt) has told us: “And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination. But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.” (Luqman 31:14-15)

So continue to be gentle with your family and return their harsh words with kindness and love. It will become increasingly difficult for your family to argue with you or treat you in a bad manner. With time and patience, your family will see, how Islam has made you a better person, and by the will of God, this will soften their hearts towards you and Islam.

Seek a support system by associating and bonding with practicing Muslims. This is extremely important for strengthening your Iman. “The believers, men and women, are Auliya (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another…” (At-Taubah 9:71)

Do consistently make Dua for your family to be guided to Islam. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And your Lord said: ‘Invoke Me and ask Me for anything. I will respond to your invocation.’” (Ghafir 40:60) Further, we need to realize the importance of Tahajjud prayer too, when Allah (swt) descends on the lowest heaven waiting for His slaves to ask Him for relief and assistance.

May Allah (swt) guide us all and our families to the straight path. Ameen.