Planning for Ramadan

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Planning for Ramadan

It’s coming once again! The Grand Sale! – “Buy one, get seventy free!” That is how a friend enthusiastically described it.

Yes, I am talking about the blessed month of Ramadan. Every moment of this month carries great treasures of excellence and blessings. Voluntary good deeds (Nawafil) reach the ranks of obligatory good deeds (Faraiz), and the reward for the obligatory acts becomes seventy times greater. And that is not all. There is yet another treasure more valuable than a thousand months of effort and all the wealth we could amass therein: the great night of Laylat-ul-Qadr.

The amount of benefit we gain from the blessings of this month depends on how ready we are and how much effort we make. Just like a farmer has to prepare the land for absorbing the rain, so that he can reap the best harvest, we must pray to Allah (swt) for the opportunity to reap the greatest benefit, and then do our best.

To make the best of this Ramadan, we must, therefore, make Dua, plan and then act.

Make Dua

Make Dua to Allah (swt) that you are in good health, when Ramadan comes. Pray for the energy and time to be able perform all the Ibadah and do all the things you aim to do. And above all, pray for the acceptance of the deeds you perform in Ramadan.

Outline your goals

Let’s play a little game: let’s take a trip into the future…

Imagine it is the Eid. You are walking or driving to the Eid prayers. As you happily recite the Takbeer, you mentally evaluate the Ramadan that has just passed. You are filled with immense joy and satisfaction. Apart from the few natural shortcomings, this was the best Ramadan of your life. The Eid truly feels like Eid, and you eagerly anticipate celebrating your success…

Now think: What was it that made this the best Ramadan for you? What happened? What did you do? Was it the building of a stronger relationship with Allah (swt)? Greater concentration in Salaah? More quality time spent with the Quran? The achievement of a purer heart and a greater Taqwa? What was it?

Come back into the present and write all those things down. These will be your goals for the coming Ramadan.

Set achievable targets

Once you know what you want to get out of this Ramadan, you must set some definite achievable targets that are in line with your goals. These targets will translate your goals into practical day-to-day activities, against which you can then check yourself. For example, if you want to build a better relationship with the Quran this Ramadan, your target could be “read the translation and Tafseer of one Juz a day”, or if you want to achieve a greater Taqwa and a purer heart, your target could be “avoid thinking ill of others and avoid backbiting.”

Similarly, you could decide on some sins you want to clean yourself of and make it a target to avoid them for a week. Or you could choose some good deeds or Sunnahs that are not a habit and try to perform those for a week.

Make a Dua list

One highly effective idea I came across in a lecture by Shaikh Muhmmad Al-Shareef was to make a Dua list for Ramadan. Often, we are so much in a hurry to get back to our activities after Salaah or recitation of the Quran that many things we wanted to pray for just slip out of our minds. Therefore, it is best to take a few minutes for writing down everything we want to ask Allah (swt) and read that list, while making Dua before Iftar, after Salaah, after Quran recitation and especially in the last ten nights in anticipation of Laylat-ul-Qadr.

Organize – unclutter your life

Ramadan is a very special time and you would not like to waste a moment of it in useless activities, such as clearing up that bookshelf, getting your books and tapes in order, sorting out what food items you will need in the coming month, shopping for Eid, etc. If possible, decide your Ramadan menu beforehand. Plan to make quick and healthy meals that provide you with the essential nutrients and avoid lavish Iftars. If possible, prepare and freeze some food items beforehand. Remember, Ramadan is not the month of feasting or self-indulgence. Practice self-control even at Iftar time.

Additionally, adjust your work, school, sleep and meal schedules in such a way as to make the most time for Ibadah and other good deeds. Plan out at what time you will go to sleep, wake up, study, work and do Ibadah. If you have any pending work, for which deadlines may be in Ramadan, try to get over with it as soon as possible before Ramadan, so that you can get the most out of this month.

Plan out Ibadah and other religious obligations

Do you want to go for Taraweeh and Quran study circles this Ramadan? Find out about places, where classes are offered and go with your family. Make travel arrangements, if the venue is far from your house, and check around, if there is anyone else, who might want to go but does not have transportation. Wouldn’t you want to join in the reward of their Ibadah as well by taking them along?

Also, arrange for other activities to learn and teach the Quran and Hadeeth. Furthermore, calculate the Zakah you will be paying in Ramadan. Find out about places, where you can contribute in social welfare activities with your wealth and time.

Prepare your soul

Attend and listen to Ramadan lectures and other talks on spiritually uplifting topics to soften your heart and renew your motivation.

Be ready to absorb the blessings that rain down in this great month. But remember at the same time that Ramadan is not just a one-time vacation, after which you pack up and return to your previous life. Ramadan has been called a ‘training school’ by some; so make sure you graduate from this school with flying colours – colours that should brighten up your entire life.

Islam in Albania

By Inga Strautiņa

Small whitewashed mosques dotting mountainous scenery; chalk white Muslim graveyards scattered along the road, elderly Muslim women and men on the way to their prayers in peaceful villages – this is the image so typical of Muslim territories in the Western Balkans and the image I pictured, when crossing the Albanian border. However, despite my extensive travelling in this region, I was not sure what to expect, as Albania had so far been an ‘unknown territory’ for me.

As I was driving closer and closer to Tirana, I had a persistent nagging feeling, a certain discomfort. When I entered Tirana centre, I realized the cause, and it grew to an outright shock—there were hardly any mosques here and hardly any women in Hijab. Aren’t Albanians supposed to be Muslims? Was the famous Albanian poet Pashko Vasa right, when he wrote: “Churches and mosques you shall not heed, the religion of Albanians is Albanism”?

Islam in Albania has been shaped mostly by two historically significant events. The Ottoman Empire introduced the religion of Allah (swt) to this remote part of Europe. Then, during the 500 years of the Turkish rule, the majority of the population converted. A 1930 consensus declared 70% of the Albanian population to be Muslim, though Islam was experiencing turbulent times. In 1923, Albania’s Muslim congress decided to break off from the Caliphate and establish independent practices of prayer as well as banned polygamy and the obligation of Hijab.

The 20th century totalitarian regime of Albania had the most devastating impact on Islam and any religion in general. Mosques were closed and turned into secular culture centres, all religious practices were forbidden, Imams were imprisoned and forced to renounce their faith. Yet, it was not until 1967 that this communist country officially became the first atheist state in the world. Children were not taught religion due to safety reasons. A possession of a copy of the Quran or any other Holy Book could land one in prison.

Now Albania is a democratic state, but the legacy of its communist past still looms over the minds and lives of the Albanian people. There is religious freedom, but people seemed confused as to what religion can offer. 70% call themselves non-religious, and many others are seduced by foreign missionaries of various sects, who have grasped the opportunity to entangle unsuspecting minds. However, Islam is recovering. And as it often happens, the positive change comes from younger minds.

On the second day of my very short stay in the capital of this otherwise amazing and inspiring country, I decided to find some other mosques apart from the pretty Et’hem Bey in the central square. Until the Zuhr Adhan, I was wandering through busy alleys, contemplating the invisibility of Islamic culture in this city. It led me straight to a small mosque in a narrow side street. And suddenly I saw young Muslim brothers gathering for the prayer. I saw young Muslim sisters in Hijabs. “Alhamdulillah!” I thought.

That day I was graced with an experience of true Muslim sisterhood. These young women showered me, a complete stranger, with unbelievable warmth and attention. They told me about their way of returning to Islam and obstacles they occasionally encountered as Muslims. Throughout these stories I felt the enormous strength of their Iman. These young Albanian Muslims are knowledgeable, energetic and devoted. They are unwavering. They know the light and peace of Islam. May Allah Almighty (swt) bless the sisters and brothers of this beautiful country and strengthen them in spreading the message of the truth, Ameen!

Depression: the Elephant in the Room

cover-depression - CopyLife has its highs and lows – the cycles of happiness and sadness. Sometimes, however, despite having everything we need for being happy, most of us experience ‘the blues.’ As if the chaos and mayhem we face communally is not enough, personal problems keep cropping up to curtail our happiness. This could be the death of a near one, a debilitating illness, familial conflict, financial difficulty, lack of a satisfying job or career, misbehavior of children, difficulty in getting married, marital strife, divorce, infertility, old-age weakness, workplace tensions, or other problems, just to name a few. Such events leave us feeling low.

At times, we find ourselves feeling hopeless and forlorn also for other reasons. Nowadays, even after reading the news, we feel confused about the traumatic events happening in the world: bomb-blasts, killings, wars, natural disasters. Sometimes we search for the purpose of life, asking ourselves: “Is this all there is? Why were we born?” At other times, it’s our monotonous daily routine we get tired of. Also, despite loathing it, we find ourselves inadvertently trapped in the incessant rat-race for a higher standard of living – the stress of ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ Constant bombardment of branded material products through the media makes us yearn for a slower, more genuine life – one that gives us time to sit back and relax, to ‘smell the flowers.’ It’s no surprise then that stress, anxiety and depression abound as the rampant new-age afflictions.

Stress is defined as any change in a person’s environment that triggers a ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Any environmental, physical or social change that causes one to worry or fear is a stressor, such as an upcoming marriage, a new baby, emigrating to a new place, unfavourable weather conditions, traffic congestion, etc.

Depression is a state of temporary sorrow. A depressed person loses interest in previously enjoyed activities, is irritable and restless, lacks energy, feels worthless and finds it difficult to sleep, concentrate and make decisions. Eating patterns change, leading either to obesity or extreme weight loss (eating disorders), and the person also becomes socially isolated.

If gloominess continues over a long period of time, so that the intensity of sadness disrupts a person’s normal functioning, it becomes a condition called ‘clinical depression,’ and is actually a mental illness. Psychiatrists recommend a treatment, which consists of a combination of medication and counseling. If clinical depression is left untreated, the patient might attempt suicide.

According to official statistics, about a million people die by suicide annually; more than those murdered or killed in war. (WHO Sites, “Mental Health,” February 16, 2006)

Studies show a high incidence of psychiatric disorders in suicide victims at the time of their death with the total figure ranging from 87.3% to 98%. (“Psychiatric Diagnoses and Suicide: Revisiting the Evidence”)

September 2, 2007, issue of “DAWN” magazine states: “Stress related disorders are now larger in number than infectious diseases, but not sufficient attention has been paid to them. Many sophisticated tests and costly medicines have been developed, but not much importance is given to stress relieving techniques, which are necessary for patients.”

The incidence of depression is not on the rise just among non-Muslims, but also among Muslims, both young and old.

“I got married and went abroad but was very homesick. For three years, I tried doing everything to keep myself busy, but nothing worked. Finally, I got divorced and returned to my country. I used to take medication and lie in bed all day, depressed. That changed after I joined the Quran course at “Al-Huda.” Now, I am happy and at peace, and do not take any medication,” says a woman above thirty.

“When the USA invaded Iraq, I tried not to watch the news on TV, as it would make me depressed and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my studies. I tried reciting Duas for anxiety and depression,” says a young student in the USA.

Since our body and soul are intertwined, any negative effect on one influences the other.

There are several physical ailments caused by depression. It is, therefore, important to remember that some illnesses are actually a result of emotional recession, and taking medicines for just the physical effect will not eradicate the root problem – the soul will have to be treated to revive mental and physical health.

A Muslim with strong faith in Allah (swt) can never suffer from chronic stress or prolonged depression. The Islamic way of life provides remedies for any distress caused by life’s tribulations. It is human to be sad once in a while. The following remedial steps can get us back on track in no time at all.


“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

One of the most difficult good deeds to practice is Sabr in the face of adversity. Patience, or Sabr, means maintaining righteousness of tongue and deeds even during severe calamities. Abstention from complaining, blaming others, being wishful and throwing tantrums is part of Sabr. Remaining constant in prayer, thinking positive thoughts about Allah (swt) and incessantly hoping for imminent relief is also Sabr.


Prophet Muhammad (sa) prayed two units supererogatory prayer, whenever he was sad or worried. When depressed or worried, we should follow this example, until relief comes.


Even the Prophets, being human, went through bouts of Huzn, or sadness, caused by events in their lives – and they taught us, how to deal with such phases. They always turned to Allah (swt) for help. Examples of this, as mentioned in the Quran, are:

  • Prophet Yaqoub (as) going blind with grief, when his son Yusuf was separated from him for many years;
  • Prophet Yunus (as) being swallowed by a whale;
  • Prophet Ayub (as) being afflicted by a prolonged illness that mutilated his body;
  • Prophet Muhammad (sa) being persecuted and exiled from Makkah – after a long, strenuous decade that dealt him severe blows.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) also experienced the death of many his near ones during his life, including his wife Khadijah (rta) and most of the seven children he fathered. He was chased out of Taif by being pelted with stones. He lost three minor sons in an era, when a man’s worth was measured by the number of his sons. He had to fight several battles with arch-enemies. At each such event, all the Prophets turned to Allah (swt) with supplications, humility and hope, trusting Him to get them out of their miserable situation, whence no apparent means of relief existed. And Allah (swt) always responded to their sincere calls.

Our troubles do not even come close to what the Prophets suffered. We should, therefore, learn to make Dua to Allah (swt) in times of sorrow, hoping for His mercy. Istighfar, or sincere Dua for seeking forgiveness, is also a means of making a way out of every difficulty.

Quranic Qirat

Regular and correct recitation of the Quran in a loud, clear voice brings peace to the agitated soul. “Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Productive work

An idle mind is a devil’s workshop. Idleness breeds negative thoughts. One should, therefore, always keep busy in doing productive work, even if it is something as inconsequential as stitching a torn garment or scrubbing the floor. An occupation gives one a motive to work for, and the sense of having accomplished something of benefit during the day fills the soul. It is even more desirable, therefore, to work for the benefit of others. Any selfless work, such as teaching others, volunteering for charity or caring for the sick, refurbishes the soul.

Physical exercise

The body needs activity to maintain its health. Sloth or laziness automatically sets gloom on the soul and fat on the body. A negative self-image dampens one’s self-esteem. Therefore, walking, climbing stairs or working out every other day is recommended, in order to chase away depression.

Change of environment

Temporarily going somewhere gives an immediate stress relief – even if it is a stint to the supermarket to buy groceries, visiting a friend or relative for the sake of Allah (swt), picking up a child from school or going to the park. Those, who stay cooped up in the house all day, are more prone to getting bored and depressed.

Social/community involvements

Islam has enjoined community involvement among Muslims: the five daily congregational prayers, Jummah and Eid all require Muslims in a community to meet and greet each other. Islam discourages individuals to lead isolated lives. This is to ensure that everyone is kept involved in a social circle and never left alone to face life’s problems. Muslims should, therefore, attend circles of knowledge-seeking, weddings, funerals and other permissible social engagements. They should call on others and invite families over for creating strong social bonds.

Eating right

The adage ‘you are what you eat’ is quite true. Eating a balanced diet, avoiding harmful foods and eating a bit less than one’s appetite leads to physical plus mental well-being.

Understanding the purpose of this life

Last but not least, each Muslim must endeavor to understand, why the mankind was created and what happens after death. This can only be achieved by understanding the Quran deeply, preferably from a learned scholar. This fuels the flame of Iman that helps in facing trials and difficulties.

“Verily, along with every hardship is relief. Verily, along with every hardship is relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

Combating Depression the Prophet (sa)’s Way

role modelThe most popular fictional stories of today speak of people, who braved humiliation and personal loss and arose from the ashes of depression to take on the world and march towards success. As inspiring as these stories may be, they offer little practical advice on coping with our own personal pain. For learning to deal with real grief, we must look at the stories of real people; and such is the story of our Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Sahabahs have recorded the many afflictions our Prophet (sa) faced and how he endured them for the benefit of all Muslims. Just like us, he also bore the loss of his loved ones. In fact, his beloved wife Khadijah (rta) died early in his mission of prophethood. At that point of his life, he was already struggling with continual physical and emotional harassment by his townspeople and soon faced the challenge and helplessness of seeing his strongest supporter Abu Talib die a Kafir. Rather than wring his hands in despair, Allah’s Messenger (sa) entrusted himself to Allah (swt). His daughter once wept, seeing him being harassed by insolent Kaffars, and he in turn tried to comfort her by saying: “Do not weep, my daughter – Allah will verily protect your father.” (Bukhari)

Later, our Nabi (saw) suffered the anguish of witnessing the death of his young son Ibrahim, the only son, who did not die in infancy. He wept, yet mourned by simply saying: “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh Ibrahim! Indeed, we are grieved by your separation.” (Bukhari)

Our Prophet (sa) also endured the pangs of starvation, the humiliation of being labelled a magician, a liar and even a mad man. He was stoned by disbelievers in Taif, and his blood glued his sandals to his feet. He was wounded in the battle of Uhud and even spat on by his enemies. Unable to shake him from his determination to continue his mission, they attacked his family by spreading slander about his youngest wife Ayesha (rta). In each case, he called out to his Lord and asked for mercy and patience.

Our Prophet’s (sa) entreaties and Duas to Allah (swt) are lessons for us to follow in our own cases of pain. Our Prophet (sa) bore more than what we, his humble followers, ever could endure, as he himself explained: “Those, who are most afflicted among the people, are the Prophets…” (At-Tirmidhi) Although he was an exceptional man, Muhammad (sa) was a human being. Being orphaned at an early age, he was known to be a very sensitive person. We would be mistaken to assume that because of his prophethood, he could shrug off his grief and continue to strive for his mission, just like our mythical comic book heroes do. Sahabahs claimed they had never witnessed the Prophet (sa) weep, as he did when his cousin Hamza (rta) was assassinated. Though he gave no orders to search for the assassin, it became known that a slave named Washi had done it. Much afterwards, when the Prophet (sa) met him, he asked Washi to hide his face from him (Bukhari) – the pain of losing Hamza (rta) was still felt by Muhammad (sa).

It was his unshakeable faith in Allah (swt) that provided Muhammad (sa) with the healing balm for the wounds cut by the tests of life. We will also be tested to see, if we are worthy of Paradise. We will be able to pass our tests of life only if we turn to Allah (swt) as our Prophet (sa) did.

Optimism – the Beauty of Islam

optimismThe tumults arising here or there in the Ummah have led the majority of the Muslims towards a defeatist attitude. It is not to say that Muslims shouldn’t realize their shortcomings, which are further exploited by their enemies, but they shouldn’t dwell upon pessimism, which only adds to the overall sense of despair and apathy. Rather, they should co-ordinate all their efforts towards a workable solution to overcome the problems.

Our beloved Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah teaches us remarkable optimism; maybe because he had an unshakeable faith in Allah (swt), which many of us lack today. We have forgotten who has control over everything in this universe; instead, we keep fearing Islam’s worst imaginable end.

When the intensity of trials increased and the enemies allied against Muslims everywhere, the Prophet (sa) was eager to give glad tidings to his companions and to inspire the hope that Islam will prevail. What was required was a constant and consistent struggle through patience and perseverance.

Khubab Ibn Al-Arat (rta) said: “We complained to the Messenger of Allah (sa), as he was sitting in the shade of the Kabah. We said: ‘Will you not pray for victory for us?’ He said: ‘One of those, who came before you, would be taken, and they would dig a hole in the ground and put him in it; then, they would bring a saw, which they would bring on his head and cut him in two. Or they would use an iron comb and separate his flesh from his bones, but that would not make him give up his religion. By Allah (swt), Allah (swt) will complete this matter (i.e., Islam) until a rider will be able to go from San’aa to Hadramot (cities in Yemen), fearing nothing except Allah (swt) and the wolf’s attack on his sheep. But you are trying to hasten matters.’” (Bukhari)

This also occurred during the campaign of Al-Ahzab; when the enemies were invading Madinah from all sides, once again the Prophet (sa) revived this concept. This was when the companions were unable to break a rock, while digging the defensive trench around Madinah. The Prophet (sa) struck it three times and it crumbled. Following the first blow, he said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Syria and, by Allah, I can see its red palaces this hour.” Then he struck it a second time and said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Persia, and, by Allah, I can see the white palace of Al-Maad’in (the capital city of Persia at the time).” Then he struck it a third time and said: “Allahu Akbar! I have been given the keys of Yemen, and, by Allah, I can see the gates of San’aa, from where I stand this hour.” (Ahmad, An-Nisai)

The Quran mentions situations such as these: “They said: ‘This is what Allah (swt) and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) had promised us; and Allah (swt) and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) had spoken the truth.’ And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness (to Allah).” (Al-Ahzab 33:22)

Abdul Aziz A.Saleh explains: “The hearts of the companions were filled with so much pain and fear, but those promising words came to offer consolation and peace of mind to them.”

Ibn-ul Qayyim said, commenting on the story of Ka’b Ibn Malik: “In the race between the horse-rider and the one, who climbed the hill of Sala to tell Ka’b the good news, we see evidence of the people’s eagerness for good news, and how they raced and competed to break good news to one another.” (Zaad Al-Ma’aad, 2/585) And what news could be greater than that of the victory of Islam?

Muslims today should be of good cheer. They should highlight the good efforts of one another and try spreading hope within the Ummah. This will help others to come back to the straight path. Optimism will brew further optimism. A true believer knows that ultimately only Allah’s Deen will stand victorious.

Once, Leaders of Civilization

The Past and the Future

By Sabaa Ali

The Muslim world today is characterized by crisis upon crisis. It is weak, divided and reduced to being pawns of the game of today’s super-states. Its economies are weak. Poverty is rife, and as a result, basic health care in a majority of areas is either unavailable or unattainable to the general population. Many in the Ummah are illiterate and uneducated.

On September 26, 2001, in Minneapolis, chairman and chief executive officer of “Hewlett-Packard” company Carly Fiorina gave a speech describing in detail a civilization that was part of a ‘super-state’ and a beacon of knowledge and progress for the rest of the world. The following is an excerpt from Fiorina’s speech entitled “Technology, business and our way of life: what is next?”

“There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world.
It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean and from northern climes to tropics and deserts. Within its dominion, lived hundreds of millions of people of different creeds and ethnic origins.
One of its languages became the universal language of much of the world, the bridge between the peoples of a hundred lands. Its armies were made up of people of many nationalities, and its military protection allowed a degree of peace and prosperity that had never been known. The reach of this civilization’s commerce extended from Latin America to China and everywhere in between.
And this civilization was driven more than anything – by invention. Its architects designed buildings that defied gravity. Its mathematicians created the algebra and algorithms that would enable the building of computers and the creation of encryption. Its doctors examined the human body and found new cures for disease. Its astronomers looked into the heavens, named the stars and paved the way for space travel and exploration.
Its writers created thousands of stories – stories of courage, romance and magic. Its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things.
When other nations were afraid of ideas, this civilization thrived on them and kept them alive. When censors threatened to wipe out knowledge from past civilizations, this civilization kept the knowledge alive and passed it on to others.
While modern Western civilization shares many of these traits, the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600, which included the Ottoman Empire and the courts of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, and such enlightened rulers as Suleiman the Magnificent.
Although we are often unaware of our indebtedness to this other civilization, its gifts are very much a part of our heritage. The technology industry would not exist without the contributions of Arab mathematicians. Such Sufi poet-philosophers as Rumi challenged our notions of self and truth. Such leaders as Suleiman contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership.
And, perhaps, we can learn a lesson from his example: it was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population, which included Christian, Islamic and Jewish traditions.
This kind of enlightened leadership – leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage – led to 800 years of invention and prosperity.
In dark and serious times like this, we must affirm our commitment to building societies and institutions that aspire to this kind of greatness. More than ever, we must focus on the importance of leadership – bold acts of leadership and decidedly personal acts of leadership.”

In our schools today, our children are taught about Galileo, Newton and John Louis Stevenson. There is hardly a mention of the outstanding personalities of Muslim scientists. It is rare for our children to learn that the Muslims brought paper from China, and it is the Muslims, who developed this art form into a major industry. The impact of Muslim manufacture of paper paved the way for the printing revolution. Contrary to the popular belief, it was Ibn Al-Naphis (Ala Al-Din Abu Al-A’la Ali Ibn Abi Hazm Al-Quraishi) of Damascus, an Arab Muslim physician of the thirteenth century, who explained the basic principles of the modern theory of pulmonary circulation nearly three hundred and fifty years before Sir William Harvey of Kent, England, who is wrongly credited with this discovery. Christopher Columbus relied on Muslim charts and possibly even navigators. Magellan’s success in the Indian Ocean owes nearly all to Ibn Majid’s guidance and nautical legacy.

The question that subsequently comes to mind is: how did Muslims fall to the level they are at today? It is quite apparent that there is no lack of intelligence or talent within the Ummah. On the contrary, Muslims are leaders in many fields outside their countries, especially in western countries. On close inspection, it can be ascertained that Muslims lost their high position in the world the day they relegated Islam to their personal affairs.

The above described Glorious Era of Islam occurred at a time, when Islam was implemented at all levels of society.

For society to progress it is vital that the system supports and encourages talent and hard work, unlike what occurs today under nation-state rulers in the Muslim world. A truly Islamic System is a meritocracy, where Islam plays a leading role. It did not matter whether you were an Arab or a Persian, a former black slave or a woman – all were equal under the law and all had equal opportunity to reach their potential based on their abilities. Children were given the correct education from the start and were inculcated with a love for understanding the world, as given to us by Allah (swt). They would develop environmentally friendly technologies that would be funded and supported by the state. Teachers, who played such an important role in the raising of the young generation, were high-paid professionals. Scientists, writers, inventors were given encouragement and financial rewards.

In the current scenario, Islam has taken a back seat. In the era, when Muslims were a part of a super-state and their discoveries were ground-breaking, the state implemented Islam at all levels, including domestic policies, international relations, economics, politics, the social systems and education. Muslim scientists were driven to their discoveries by their desire to understand the system that Allah (swt) laid out for us. It is said that the Muslim mathematician Al-Jabr founded Algebra, because he wanted to explore and understand the inheritance laws described in the Quran.

We have allowed our rich and unmatched heritage to be buried under the sands of time. Superficial as we have become, we cherish only the visible – the domes and the minarets, the crumbling forts and mausoleums. We as individuals and as a nation, but more importantly as the Muslim Ummah, fail to draw strength and seek guidance from the unique intellectual reservoir our ancestors had left us. It is time for us to turn a new leaf in our life, regain self-respect and confidence, shed defeatist and apologetic attitudes and assert by deeds and not just by words. Moreover, we must understand the causes for the decline of the Ummah and vouch to work towards its uplifting.

It is only when Islam will be the sole judge in all affairs (from our government to our homes) and the motivation for achievement that Muslims will be able to rise once again, and, Insha’Allah, become the vanguard of the new scientific, economic and cultural rebirth for the entire world, as it once did in history.

Ruling on Celebrating the Middle of Shaban

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Ruling on Celebrating the Middle of Shabaan

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “This day, I have perfected your Deen for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

“Or have they partners with Allah (false gods) who have instituted for them a Deen which Allah has not ordained?” (Al-Shoora 42:21)

In As-Saheehayn (Bukhari and Muslim), it is reported from Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”

In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated from Jabir (rta) that the Prophet (sa) used to say in his Friday Khutbahs: “The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The most evil of things are those, which are newly-invented, and every innovation (Bidah) is going-astray.”

This clearly indicates that Allah (swt) has perfected the Deen of this Ummah. He did not take the soul of His Prophet (sa), until he had conveyed the Message clearly and instructed the Ummah about everything that Allah (swt) had prescribed for it in words and deeds. He (saw) explained that all the words and deeds that people would attribute to Islam after he would be gone, all of that would be thrown back on the one, who invented it, even if his intention was good. The companions of the Messenger of Allah (sa) knew this, as did the scholars of Islam after them. They denounced Bidah and warned against it, as has been stated by all those, who wrote books praising the Sunnah and denouncing Bidah, such as Ibn Waddah, Al-Tartooshir, Ibn Shamah and others.

The Daeef (weak) Ahadeeth concerning the acts of worship can only be acted upon in the case of acts of worship, which are proven by Saheeh evidence. This important principle was mentioned by Imam Abul-Abbas Shaykh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah.

Among the Bidahs that have been invented by some people is celebrating the middle of Shaban (Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban) and singling out this day for fasting. There is no reliable evidence (Daleel) for it. Some Daeef Ahadeeth have been narrated concerning its virtues, but we cannot regard them as reliable. The reposts, which have been narrated concerning the virtues of prayer on this occasion, are all Mawdoo (fabricated).

In his book “Lataif Al-Marif,” Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab said: “Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban (the middle of Shaban) was venerated by the Tabieen among the people of Al-Sham, such as Khalid Ibn Midan, Makhool, Luqman Ibn Aamir and others, who used to strive in worship on this night. The people took the idea of the virtue of this night and of venerating it from them. It was said that they heard of Israeli reports (reposts from the Jewish sources) concerning that most of the scholars of the Hijaz denounced that, including Ata and Ibn Abi Maleekah. Abdur-Rahman Ibn Zayd Ibn Aslam narrated that view from the Fuqaha of Madinah, and this was the view of the companions of Malik and others. They said: ‘This is all Bidah. No comment from Imam Ahmad concerning Laylat Al-Nusf min Shaban is known of. Concerning spending the night of the middle of Shaban in prayer, there is no sound report from the Prophet (sa) or from his companions.’”

The scholars are agreed that it is obligatory to refer disputed matters to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sa). Whatever ruling both or one of them give is the Shariah, which must be followed, and whatever goes against them must be rejected. Therefore, any acts of worship, which are not mentioned in them, are Bidah, and it is not permissible to do them, let alone call others to do them or approve of them.

Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (sa), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” (Al-Nisa 4:59)

In every case, where there is no sound Shariah evidence that something is prescribed in Islam, it is not permissible for a Muslim to innovate things in the Deen of Allah, whether these are individual acts or communal acts, whether he does them in secret or openly.

‘Allamah Al-Shawkani has ruled against Laylat Al-Nusf and has said that the rewards regarding the prayers in this night are all fabricated, and their narrators are all Majhool (unknown) and Daeef.

Other scholars, who have ruled against singling out the night of the middle of Shaban, are Al-Hafiz Al-Iraqi, Al-Hafiz Ibn Rajab in his book “Lata’if Al-Ma’arif,” Iman Al-Nawawi in his book “Al-Majmoo” and Shaykh Al-Imam Abu Muhammad ‘Abd Al-Rahman Ibn Ismaeel Al-Maqdisi wrote a very valuable book providing that these (reports) are false.

From the Ayahs, Ahadeeth and scholarly opinions quoted above, it is clear that celebrating the middle of Shaban by praying on that night or in any other way, or by singling out that day for fasting, is Bidah denounced by most of the scholars. It has no basis in the pure Shariah; rather, it is one of the things that was innovated in Islam after the time of the Sahabahs.

In Saheeh Muslim, it is narrated that Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: ‘Do not single out the night of Jumuah (Friday) for praying Qiyam and do not single out the day of Jumuah for fasting, unless it is part of the ongoing regular fast of any one of you.’” (Muslim)

If it were permissible to single out any night for special acts of worship, the night of Jumuah would be the most appropriate, because the day of Jumuah is the best day, upon which the sun rises, as stated in the Saheeh Hadeeth narrated by the Messenger of Allah (sa). The fact that the Prophet (sa) warned against singling out that night for praying Qiyam indicates that it is even more prohibited to single out any other night for acts of worship, except where there is Saheeh evidence of a particular night being singled out (for example, Laylat Al-Qadr and other nights of Ramadan). Similarly fasting on the day of Jumuah is also prohibited.

If it really were prescribed to single out the night of the middle of Shaban or the night of the first Friday in Rajab, or the night to the Isra and Miraj for celebration or for any special acts of worship, then the Prophet (sa) would have taught his Ummah to do that, and he would have done it himself. If anything of the sort had happened, his companions would have transmitted it to the Ummah, for they were the best and most sincere of people after the prophets.

We ask Allah (swt) to help us and all the Muslims adhere firmly to the Sunnah and to beware of everything that goes against it, for He (swt) is the Most Generous, the Most Kind, Ameen.

(Adapted from “Majmoo Fatawa Samahat Al-Shaykh Abd Al-Azaz Ibn Baz,” 2/882.)

Who is the Most Deserving of Zakah?

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Who is the most deserving of Zakat

Piping-hot Nihari at Suhr, crispy Pakoras at Iftar, touching recitation of the Quran during Taraweeh prayers and the excitement surrounding the preparations for Eid are some of the sights and sounds associated with Ramadan. In-between the prayers, fasting and recitation of the Quran, we must also remember an obligatory duty that we have to perform – paying Zakah (obligatory charity). Contrary to popular perception, Zakah can be paid throughout the year. However, most people wait until Ramadan to dispense with this duty, so as to gain the blessings of the month.

Different Forms of Charity

We can gain the blessings of Allah (swt) by giving other forms of charity as well. In the Quran, there are five words used for charity:

  1. Zakah (or Zakat-ul-mal): obligatory charity paid on wealth that exceeds the prescribed limit. The amount differs according to the type of property – on gold and silver, for instance, one has to pay at the rate of 2.5%;
  2. Sadaqah: voluntary charity;
  3. Khairat: good deeds;
  4. Ihsan: kindness and consideration;
  5. Infaq Fi Sabil Allah: spending for the sake of Allah (swt).


In addition to the above, there is what we refer to as Zakat-ul-fitr or Sadaqat-ul-fitr, which is paid onlyin Ramadan or before the Eid-ul Fitr prayer. On the other hand, Sadaqah (translated as voluntary charity) does not have to be restricted to certain people, as is the case with Zakah. Moreover, the word ‘Sadaqah’ also has also a wider meaning. The Prophet (sa) said: “Even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity.” (At-Tirmdhi)

Imposition of Zakah

The word ‘Zakah’ means both ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’ The Quran points out the due recipients of Zakah. It is stated in Bukhari that during the lifetime of the Prophet (sa), some greedy people expected him to give them a share of the alms. However, the Prophet (sa) ignored them, so they defamed him. Upon that Allah (swt) revealed:

“And of them are some who accuse you (O Muhammad (sa)) in the matter of (the distribution of) the alms. If they are given part thereof, they are pleased, but if they are not given thereof, behold! They are enraged!

“Would that they were content with what Allah and His Messenger (sa) gave them and had said: ‘Allah is Sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His bounty, and so will His Messenger (sa) (from alms). We implore Allah (to enrich us).’

“As-Sadaqat (here it means Zakat) are only for the Fuqara (poor) and Al-Masakin (the poor) and those employed to collect (the funds); and to attract the hearts of those who have been inclined (towards Islam); and to free the captives; and for those in debt; and for Allah’s Cause (i.e. for Mujahidun – those fighting in a holy battle), and for the wayfarer (a traveler who is cut off from everything); a duty imposed by Allah. And Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise.” (At-Taubah 9:58-60)

The revelation of the above verses clearly pointed out the recipients of Zakah, thereby putting an end to all unlawful claims on this type of charity.

Recipients of Zakah

According to the above verse, eight categories of people are entitled to receive Zakah:

  1. The poor (Faqeer): the person who does not have anything.
  2. The needy (Miskeen): a person who has something, but it is not enough for meeting his needs.

Dr. Monzer Kahf, a scholar in Islamic economics, suggests that we may resort to the following four criteria to help select between the poor and the needy:

a. The degree of need: a starving person must be given priority.

b. The person’s relation to the payer of Zakah: a relative is preferred over a non-relative. The Prophet (sa) is reported to have said: “Charity given to the poor is charity, and charity given to a relative is charity and maintaining of family ties.” (Ahmad, An-Nasai)

c. The degree of religiosity of the receiver: this is within the spirit of the advice of the Prophet (sa): “And let your food not be eaten except by a pious person.” (At-Tirmdhi as narrated by Abi Saeed)

d. Availability of other sources for a specific poor/needy person.

Moreover, according to general scholarly consensus, one cannot give Zakah to one’s dependents (parents, wives and children). A wife can, however, pay Zakah to her husband, if he is in genuine need, as we learn from a Hadeeth narrated by Zaynab (rta), wife of Abdullah, and reported by Bukhari and Muslim.

  1. The collectors of funds: those, who are appointed by the Imam (leader) to collect the Zakah. They are to be given an amount that matches their efforts, even if they are rich.
  2. Attracting the hearts of those, who have been inclined (towards Islam): this refers to those, whose hearts the Prophet (sa) wanted to soften, so that they would become Muslims, or so that he could ward off their evil, or those, whose resolve he wanted to strengthen and help them to be steadfast in Islam. These are the three types of people, whose hearts were to be softened.

According to Sheikh Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee: “The majority of scholars are of the view that non-Muslims should not be given from the money of Zakah, except those, whose hearts are inclined to Islam, though there is a difference over whether such stipulation is still relevant or not and the permissibility of giving them of the Zakah money is haunted with controversy.”

  1. The captives: this refers to slaves, who had drawn up a written contract with their masters to purchase their freedom; or the amount needed to purchase their freedom, without a prior contract.
  2. The debtors: it refers to the debtors, who are unable to pay off their loans.
  3. For Allah’s (swt) cause: it refers to the soldiers, who are devoted to waging war for the sake of Allah (swt) and making the word of Islam prevail.

A number of modern jurists, such as Sheikh Muhammad Abduh, Rashid Rida, Maulana Mawdudi, Amin Ahsan Islahi, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi and some Fatwah organizations in Kuwait and Egypt, are of the opinion that the phrase, “in the cause of Allah” covers a broad category, and it should not be restricted to Jihad only; rather, it should be applied to all those situations, where there is a need to serve Islam and Muslims. They say that the expression, “for the poor and needy” can also mean “for the benefit of the poor and needy.” Such scholars consider it permissible to use Zakah money to finance Dawah and public welfare programmes, such as building mosques and schools, Dawah institutes, activities concerning Dawah objectives, etc.

  1. The Wayfarer: this means a travelling stranger, who is cut off from his wealth; he may be given whatever he needs, even if he is rich in his own land.

Ultimate Purpose: Allah’s (swt) Pleasure

Any believer would wish to see that his hard-earned money reaches the deserving, light up a sad face or fulfill a need. No matter how hard we all try to do just that, we must remember that our intention should be to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure and reward. Therefore, we must pray to Allah (swt) with great sincerity that He may accept our efforts and clarify our intentions. After all, it is not Allah (swt), Who needs our wealth; rather, we need Him.

The Flip Side of Motherhood: Postpartum Depression

Vol 5 - Issue 2 The flip side of MotherhoodIt’s the moment most women wait for – entering the coveted domain of motherhood! Tired of pregnancy pains and restrictions, the expectant mother excitedly anticipates the arrival of her baby, thinking that she’ll be fully able to enjoy her ‘bundle of joy’ once it’s all over. She can’t wait to cuddle and gaze at the life that has been kicking inside her for months.

Yet, merely hours or days after childbirth, most women couldn’t feel worse. Amid the congratulatory phone calls, text messages, flowers, gifts and visits of relatives and friends, the ‘new mama’ feels a cloud of gloom looming over her life. Like a whirlwind, the baby has disrupted her routine, usurping the lavish attention and care showered previously to her. She’s lucky, if she can sleep uninterrupted for more than three hours at a time.

So what are the ‘baby blues’? It’s when the mother feels overwhelmed by the burden of parental responsibility, over-worried about the baby’s well-being, displeased with her weight gain, at a loss of control over daily activities and disgruntled with the lack of quality time with her husband – all of this, plus physical weakness and dependence on others during postpartum, makes her tearful, edgy, short-tempered and over-reactive about trivial matters.

“Moodiness, tearfulness, anxiety and fatigue are all common on the roller coaster of emotions women may experience after giving birth,” says obstetrician and gynecologist Susan Spencer, M.D. “Postpartum blues are a normal consequence of adjusting to a huge life change and the sleep deprivation that comes with it.”

For some, this phase arrives days or weeks after childbirth; for most, though, it happens just after delivery. “At the hospital, I just wanted to take off all the IV drips and run away. I felt so chained and helpless,” says Nabeeha. She refused to hold her baby, due to the physical pain of a Caesarian-section surgery. “For the first two months, I couldn’t sleep, until my baby did. Even if she was lying in the cot playing, I would sit nearby, watchful.” After returning to her husband’s home abroad, she frantically called up her parents in tears, panic-stricken that she wouldn’t be able to do it alone. Hours of her mother’s consoling restored her composure.

Struggling to establish breastfeeding, constantly changing diapers and dealing with a spouse, who is unhappy with her new figure and her constant preoccupation, a new mother is terrified of making mistakes and of failing as a parent. Putting up with recurrent advice of older women is another headache: “Don’t hold the baby that way”, “use cloth diapers – it’ll save money”, “swaddle tightly for the first six months”, “press baby’s head into the right shape”… It’s no wonder then that the motherhood brings with it a great mental and physical fatigue.

Triggered by drastic drops in hormonal levels after delivery, the baby blues are experienced by 85% of new mothers. However, if this condition lingers beyond two weeks, so that it adversely affects the mother’s ability to take care of her baby, it can be attributed as postpartum depression (PPD).

“About 10 to 20 percent of women actually develop postpartum depression. The difference is in the degree and duration of symptoms,” says Dr. Susan Spencer.

PPD has more chances of occurring amid certain factors, such as: a difficult and/or unwanted pregnancy, a difficult older child, financial difficulties, poor relationship with spouse, lack of family support, or history of PMS (premenstrual syndrome) before marriage. How does one know that PPD has onset?

A significant change in mood and/or appetite, an inability to concentrate, excessive fatigue, inability to sleep even when a support person is there to care for baby are common signs of this more serious condition.

The signs of PPD are noticed first by the spouse or other relatives. It is very important not to dismiss them as trivial, because PPD is an illness requiring non-medication treatment and therapy.

“Becoming a mother is the most beautiful experience, but it doesn’t come without paying a price. Allah (swt) would not just throw heaven at our feet,” says Amna. “Dealing with sibling rivalry, if there’s an older child, maintaining (the latter’s) school and activity schedule, doing chores expected by the in-laws, having to cook and clean the house, losing the mental enrichment derived from a previous purposeful job, feeling estranged from spouse, if he is not supportive enough… it takes a good six months, or may be more, before you are able to settle down with the overwhelming responsibilities. You can only survive it by pouring your heart out before Allah (swt).”

What can be done? This writer also confesses going through the same phase twice in the past 3 years. That’s all the more why I would like to share the ways of helping women experiencing these problems.

Acknowledge that the problem exists

For the relatives: if you see your daughter or daughter-in-law acting as described above, empathize with her. Recall the pain you felt, when you delivered a baby (the stitches hurt, whether the delivery was normal or C-section) and don’t reprimand her for her outbursts. Also, try not to say: “I never went through this,” because you were fortunate. Other women have erratic hormones, even if you did not. And it’s not their fault that they do.

Ask for help

Whether it’s your husband, mother or mother-in-law, don’t feel guilty about asking them to take the baby for some time, so that you can relax and unwind. Pamper yourself: you need to recover from one of the biggest physical experiences ever. Go out, exercise, eat your favourite dessert or call up a friend, especially one, who has also recently given birth.

Remember Allah (swt)

If you cannot recite Quran, pray or fast, engage in extra remembrance of Allah (swt), particularly the Adhkar that repel the Shaitan. Remember Him, when you cry, when you feel the physical pain, when your toddler misbehaves or when the house is a mess. Remember Him, because He knows how you feel:

“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years.” (Luqman 31:14)

Have faith in Allah (swt): help is near

Even if it seems impossible right now, it’s just a matter of 5-6 months for you to become ‘normal’ again. Your baby will start sleeping through the night, you will have ‘free’ personal time; you will lose weight and gain energy; you will enjoy leisure hobbies and your husband will revert to being more than a male-nanny.

Sister, remember that also this shall pass…


Depression in Teenagers

By Naba Basar

Depression is one of the most common psychological problems, affecting nearly everyone at any stage of their lives. It causes pain and suffering, not only to the one affected but also to the ones close to the sufferer. Serious depression can paralyze lives. One should distinguish the thin line between general sadness and serious depression.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens:

  • sadness or hopelessness
  • irritability, anger or hostility
  • tearfulness or frequent crying
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in activities
  • changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • restlessness and agitation
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide

If you are a parent and see similar symptoms in your teenager, take action right away. The sooner the problem is addressed, the better. Depression in teens can look very different from depression in adults. The following symptoms of depression are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:

  • irritable, sudden outbursts or angry mood
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • withdrawing from some, but not all people (unlike adults)

What are some of the problems that depression can cause in teens? The effects of teenage depression go far beyond a melancholy mood. In fact, many problematic behaviors or attitudes in teenagers are actually indications of depression. Remember that untreated depression can lead to: problems at school, running away from home, drug and alcohol abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, Internet addiction, reckless behavior, violence or self-injury, which can lead to suicide.

The question remains – what are you to do if your teen is depressed? The first thing you should do, if you suspect depression, is to talk to your teen about it. Share your concerns with your teenagers in a loving and non-judgmental way. Let your teen know, what specific signs of gloominess you’ve noticed, and why they worry you. Then, encourage your child to open up about what he or she is going through. As any parent knows, getting teens (depressed or not) to talk about their feelings is easier said than done. If your teen claims nothing is wrong, but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should trust your instincts. Remember that denial is a strong emotion. Furthermore, teenagers may not believe that what they’re experiencing is the result of depression. If you see depression’s warning signs, seek professional help. Neither you nor your teen is qualified to diagnose or rule depression out, so see a doctor or psychologist who can.

Tips for talking to a depressed teen:

  • Offer support. Let depressed teenagers know that you’re there fully and unconditionally for them. Hold back your queries but make it clear that you are willing to provide whatever support they need.
  • Be gentle but persistent. If your adolescent shuts you out at first, be persistent. Talking about it can be very tough for teens. Be respectful of your child’s comfort level, while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.
  • Listen, don’t lecture. Resist your urge to criticize or pass judgment, once your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is communication. Avoid offering unsolicited advice.
  • Validate feelings. Their feelings or concerns may seem silly or irrational to you, but don’t try to talk teens out of their depression. Simply acknowledge the pain and sadness they are feeling.
  • Your job here is not over. Then it’s your responsibility to help your teenager out of depression. Your support is greatly needed at this point. It is now more than ever that your teenager needs to know that he or she is valued, accepted and cared for.
  • Be understanding. Living with a depressed teenager can be difficult and draining. At times, you may experience exhaustion, rejection, despair, aggravation or any other number of negative emotions. During this trying time, it’s important to remember that your child is not being difficult on purpose. Be patient and understanding.
  • Encourage physical activity. Encourage your teenager to stay active. Exercise can go a long way toward relieving the symptoms of melancholy, so find ways to incorporate it into your teenager’s day. Something as simple as walking or going on a bike ride can be beneficial.
  • Encourage social activity. Isolation only makes gloominess worse, so encourage your teenager to see friends and praise efforts to socialize. Offer to take your teen out with friends or suggest social activities that might be of interest, such as sports, after-school clubs, etc.
  • Stay involved in treatment. Make sure your teenager is following all treatment instructions and going to therapy. It’s especially important that your child takes any prescribed medication as instructed. Track changes in your teen’s condition and call the doctor, if depression symptoms seem to be getting worse.
  • Learn about depression. Just like you would, if your child had a disease you knew very little about, read up on depression, so that you can be your own ‘expert.’ The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your depressed teen.
  • Encourage your teenager to learn more about depression as well. Reading up on their condition can help depressed teens realize that they’re not alone, and give them a better understanding of what they’re going through.


I would like to recommend a book by Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni entitled “Don’t be Sad.” This book contains verses from the Quran, sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sa), of his companions and of wise people throughout history. “Be happy, at peace, and joyful; and don’t be sad” is the essence of this book.

Review: “Taare Zameen Par”

By Ruhie Jamshaid

It really is not the norm to find a review of a movie amongst the pages of “Hiba” magazine, but we make an exception here and for deserved reasons. Read on…

There are many movies one may feel guilty of watching, but none can claim to look into a child’s mind and heart like “Taare Zameen Par” does. This movie isn’t the standard better-to-be avoided Bollywood potboiler with jarring music and mindless story-telling. Produced and directed by Aamir Khan, “Taare Zameen Par” educates about the very real but often misunderstood learning disability of dyslexia.

The protagonist of the movie is eight-year old Ishaan Awasthi (played by master Darsheel Safary), who often gets lost in his dream world. Scribbling drawings and day-dreaming seem to be all he does the whole day. Everyone from his teachers, neighbours to his parents seem to be at their wits end trying to figure out and straighten his ‘irresponsible’ behavior, as they perceive it to be. He often has no answers in class, never does his homework and is not able to write legibly. After much deliberation, Ishaan is sent by his parents to a boarding school with the hope of inculcating discipline in him much to his unhappiness.

At the boarding school, nothing much changes. On the contrary, Ishaan’s situation gets worse. He withdraws into his shell. Feeling abandoned by his family, he is unable to perform effectively in his academics. It is at this point that his teacher Ram Shankar Nikumbh (played by Aamir Khan) enters Ishaan’s life and discovers that Ishaan has an exceptional artistic talent and is actually very intelligent. Ram ascertains the fact that Ishaan is struggling through school and life at large because of dyslexia. The rest of the movie is about Ishaan’s strivings to rectify his learning disability with his teacher’s support, understanding and love, bouncing back to meet his true potential.

The movie is touching and heart-wrenching. One can’t help but feel overcome by emotions watching Ishaan’s struggles. “Taare Zameen Par” enlightens the viewers about dyslexia and the ways, how this learning disability can cripple the otherwise untapped talent and intelligence hidden in an innocent child, marring his self-esteem and progress in life. It reminds us to accept the fact that every child is created different, and that we need to curb our adult tendencies to force our children to conform to norms, without understanding our children as individuals.

“Taare Zameen Par” is surely an eye-opener for every parent out there. This movie can be recommended for its excellence in teaching about dyslexia and for its strong message of unconditional acceptance, which is conveyed in simple and touching terms, without the trappings of a typical movie.

Dyslexia: The Reading and Learning Disability

Imagine picking up some reading material and not being able to see the letters as they are. Imagine seeing sentences without spaces, letters formed backwards or words broken up or jumbled together. That is how text appears to someone, who has dyslexia. It is a reading disability, a condition that prevents a person from reading, spelling and writing a language.

Why a dyslexic person is unable to read successfully can be understood better, if we disseminate what the brain does during the reading process. The brain recognizes different letters by associating them with their sounds, joins them together to form words and comprehends what the words mean by generating images. A dyslexic person’s brain is unable to decipher images of letters and to connect letters with their sounds. A sentence may appear to them as a string of letters below:

I tisv er yd ifficu ltf or meto re adthi s. (“It is very difficult for me to read this.”)

Dyslexia does not indicate mental retardation, lack of intelligence or a deficiency in vision. A child or an adult having dyslexia may be very intelligent, highly creative and possess a high IQ. They are also physically normal development-wise. It’s just that because of a malfunction, their brain cannot translate images seen by the eyes into a language that they can understand.

The cause of dyslexia is usually genetic disposition: the condition can be passed on through the genes of the family. Very rarely, it can be caused by some trauma in life, hearing problems in early childhood or by deficient brain-cell development in the mother’s womb. Dyslexia can be overcome or worked around using alternative learning techniques, but there is no physical cure.

A child with dyslexia feels very frustrated within a traditional school environment. The teacher might notice that even though the child comprehends everything well and is overall smart, he finds it very difficult to read a book or write notes in class. Since later school-learning focuses more on taking notes, studying books and writing assignments, dyslexic students eventually need to have a separate, special reading and study group, in order to keep up with others. They are taught with flashcards or audio lectures.

It is said that Albert Einstein was dyslexic. The actor Tom Cruise is also a famous dyslexic person, who memorizes his dialogues for films by having his lines read out to him. This condition is, therefore, only as much of an obstacle in a child’s intellectual achievement as it is allowed or perceived to be.

Dyslexic children have an extraordinary long-term memory and exceptional learning skills. Some go even as far as to call them gifted because of their high creativity. Their need to learn via images and sounds (as opposed to symbols, letters, numbers and words) makes their minds multi-dimensional. They excel in outdoor sports. However, since they have difficulty in reading, spelling, writing and speaking a language, they experience shyness, frustration, anger, isolation or even embarrassment at being ‘the different children in class.’ They need extra support and love from both family and teachers, in order to feel confident about themselves.

Although not dyslexic, an inspiring example for Muslims is our ‘unlettered’ Prophet Muhammad (sa), who could neither read nor write. The method by which he learned and taught the Quran was Ilqaa – archangel Gabriel would recite the words aloud repeatedly, until they were memorized. The same method was used by the Companions to memorize the Quran.

Therefore, if a child cannot read or write properly, it is not the end of the world.

Women at Work – Part 1

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Women at work

Maneuvering her way through the maze of crawling traffic, Sara finally managed to park her car in a cramped parking lot. Having managed to drop her two children at school barely making it on time, she winced at the thought of facing the new supervisor at work. He appeared to be taking a keen interest in how she spent the day. Often, he would come in and inquire what her plans were for the evening. Lately, she was also feeling quite stressed out. A job opening in another organization came as a great blessing and a way out of the disturbing situation.

All women, however, may not be as lucky as Sara. Harassment at the workplace is one of the many problems that working women have to deal with on a daily basis. Often, their protests are not taken seriously, especially if the perpetrator is in a position of authority. The situation speaks volumes about the ignorance regarding the Divine Guidance on dealings with the opposite gender.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent.” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Instead of solving the problem by dealing with it straightforwardly, many women simply opt out of work altogether. Some people assert that women are not allowed to work in the first place. What does Islam say about this issue?

Are women allowed to work?

According to several noted scholars, women are allowed to work.

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi states in his Fatwah: “Islam allows her to work outside the home in an appropriate job, which suits her nature, her concern and her capacity and which does not crush her femininity. Her work is legitimate within certain limits and certain conditions, especially when she or her family needs the outside work or when the society itself needs her work in particular. The need for work is not merely limited to the financial aspect. It could be a psychological need, such as the need of a specialized learned woman, who is not married, or the married woman, who has no children or who has a lot of leisure time and to alleviate boredom.”

The scholar further goes on to say that Islam does not forbid women to work inside or outside the home. He gives the example of the wives of Allah’s Messenger (sa), who used to work at home. They used to dye their own clothing and tan hides in addition to other household activities. He gives the example of Syedna Aisha (rta), who prepared herbal medicines, Asma bint Abu Bakr (rta), who used to work inside and outside her home, Rufaydah Al-Aslamiyyah (rta), who was the first female doctor in Islam, and Umm Mihjan (rta), who used to clean the Prophet’s (sa) mosque. In fact, the second Caliph of Islam Syedna Umar Farooq appointed a woman, Ash-Shifa, as a market inspector in Madinah.

The European Council for Fatwah and Research states: “We do not deny that some countries have very strict traditions regarding women, so that they become more like prisoners in their own homes, until death comes to them. However, even though some scholars may agree with this, it remains that clear, covert and correct legal evidence contradicts these traditions in addition to the objectives of Shariah, the interests of mankind and the development of age and people.”

Daiyah Zeinab Mostafa states: “We cannot forbid women from work and deprive the society from the benefit and knowledge that they have, under the pretext that Islam forbids women to work, which is completely baseless. If we return to the Seerah (biography) of the Prophet (sa) and his companions, we will find that they lived a happy life, when men and women worked together to fulfill their duties.”

Conditions for working

It is clear from the above rulings and opinions that women are allowed to work. However, they need to keep in mind certain conditions:

Work should be lawful, not forbidden or leading to the forbidden

Some of the occupations that are forbidden or lead to the forbidden include working as a flight attendant, which requires wearing provocative clothing and interacting closely with the opposite gender, working as a private secretary, requiring being alone with the manager, or working as a dancer, who excites physical instincts and lusts.

Maintaining Islamic conduct in dealings

The rules of modesty, as laid down by the Quran and the Sunnah, must be observed. The proper Muslim dress should be worn; one must not look lustfully but be serious in speech and decent in gait.

Work should not result in neglect of the primary duty

The Muslim wife’s primary duty is towards her family. According to Zainab Al-Alwani, instructor of Fiqh and Islamic studies in Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences (Virginia, USA), educated Muslim women should strike a balance between work and family obligations by choosing a flexible job or choosing to work fewer hours. Daiyah Zeinab Mostafa further goes on to say: “Work can be obligatory for her, if she does not have anyone to look after her, and she is able to work and earn her living in a lawful way. It could be forbidden, if her work would lead her to neglect her duty as a wife and as a mother. It is entirely lawful and allowed, if the woman can strike a balance between different duties and obligations.”

Dealing with problems at work

A number of problems and dilemmas crop up, once a woman decides to work. Harassment, discrimination, travelling alone or choosing a career over marriage are just the tip of the iceberg.

Book Reviews

Don't be sadDon’t be Sad

(476 pages)

You can be the Happiest Woman in the World: A Treasure Chest of Reminders

(270 pages)

Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni

International Islamic Publishing House

Availability: “Don’t be Sad” Rs.800/- Darussalam, Tariq Road

“Be happy, at peace and joyful; and don’t be sad.”

A heavy load of responsibilities and increasingly less time for ourselves often leave us worn out and spiritually exhausted. Allah (swt) did not promise us a smooth and easy travel through life, for the life of this world is but a test through which we can prove ourselves worthy of the eternal abode with our Lord. However, Allah (swt) has given us excellent scholars, who can help us make our travel through life most pleasant and beneficent with their wisdom and great insights into the Quran and the Prophetic traditions. Al-Qarni is one such scholar, having the beautiful gift of being able to inspire people and fill their souls with the special radiance that comes from keeping eyes focused on the guidance of Allah (swt).

Aiadh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni was born in 1397 AH. In 1422 AH, he obtained his Doctor’s degree from Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University. Al-Qarni has written on Hadeeth, Tafsir, Fiqh, Arabic literature, Sirah and biography as well as recorded more than 800 audiocassettes of Khutbahs, lessons, lectures and soirees. Originally written in Arabic, “Don’t be Sad” and “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World” are two of his books, which are now available also for the English readers.

In his introduction to “Don’t be Sad”, Al-Qarni says: “I wrote this book for anyone who is living through pain and grief or who has been afflicted with a hardship, a hardship that results in sadness and restless nights. For the cure, I have filled the pages of this book with dosages taken from various sources – the Quran, the Sunnah, poetry, poignant anecdotes, parables and true stories.” Although based on the true religion of Allah (swt), Al-Qarni’s “Don’t be Sad” speaks to both Muslims and non-Muslims, since the nature of sorrow and despair crosses the boundaries of faiths. It might be objectionable to some that along with the Quran and the Sunnah the author quotes also Eastern and Western thinkers, but he does so claiming that “wisdom is the goal of every believer, wherever he finds it.”

As the title suggests, “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World” is written for women – Muslim women in particular. “My sister,” Al-Qarni addresses his Muslim reader, “read this book to help you cleanse your mind of the clutter of illusions and devilish whispers and show you the way to a sense of tranquility, faith, joy and happiness. (…) I have presented this book as a treasure chest filled with beautiful ideas, with which you may adorn your life.” Happiness is a treasure every woman strives to find and hold onto when it is achieved. Al-Qarni’s recommendations in this book are designed to encourage the Muslim woman to rejoice in her religion and in the graces that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon her. Words of wisdom and practical advice from real life situations guide the readers of the book to the path of becoming the happiest women on earth.

Both Al-Qarni’s books are presented in an easy-to-grasp arrangement of chapters, each not longer than a page or two, which make a pleasant read. If at any time of the day you are looking for a dosage of inspiration or some soothing words of wisdom for your soul, take a cup of tea and relax for some minutes as you are reading through a chapter of “Don’t be Sad” or “You can be the Happiest Woman in the World.”

Thee Alone We Ask for Help

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Thee alone we ask for helpI have always wondered, why Allah (swt) stresses for children to be kind to their parents in four places of the Quran (Surahs Isra, Ahkaaf, Luqmaan and Ankaboot). However, there is not a single instruction for parents to be kind to their children.

Once I had kids, I realized that only the Creator knew His creation inside out – and the instructions must be there for my ignorance. The instruction in Surah Tahreem (66:6) is this: “O You who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…”

Before I had kids, every time I read this Ayah, it didn’t really mean much. But now, as a mother of three (Masha’Allah), I understand this very fundamental command of Allah’s (swt).

Iqbal in his poem “The Satan’s Advisory Council” (“Iblees ki majlis-e-shura”) says:

“I fear from this Ummah lest they awake,
Being his faith’s base, world account he would take.”

It means that only Islam can hinder Satan’s schemes to destroy the mankind in this world.

Relating the poem to the above Ayah, I see that in order to have kids that are successful Muslims, I must be vigilant every single minute – every routine and boring aspect of their lives. I must be AWAKE! We must conduct our affairs according to the parameters Allah (swt) has set for us.

But how can I raise my kids, so that every facet of their lives revolves around Allah (swt) and fear of Allah’s (swt) displeasure? I look to the Ayah, reflect and remember a book by Suleiman Nadvi – “Seerat un Nabi” (Vol. 6). The author discusses the character building and states that all bad character traits have their roots in three things:


  • backbiting
  • promise-breaking
  • skepticism
  • tattling
  • duplicity
  • false oath
  • greed
  • stealing
  • usurping
  • cheating
  • embezzlement
  • overstatement
  • jelousy
  • pride
  • vanity
  • boastfulness
  • rashness
  • oppression
  • maliciousness
Remedy: Sawm Remedy: Zakah Remedy: Salah

Allah (swt) has given us the remedy for these sins as well. So the foundation for my kids’ character is entrenched in the pillars of Islam, which are not mere rituals but shields to combat character defects. My job, as I understood it, is to instruct them to practice these as soon as they physically and mentally can.

To apply this practically, my seven-year-old prays and fasts, my three-year-old tries to pray and fast, and all three of my kids give 1/3 of their Eidi (or any other money they receive as gifts) to the needy. I didn’t think these choices I ‘forced’ them to make had much impact, until the earthquake in 2005. Bilal demanded that I give his money to the victims; Isra makes sure she buys candy for our servant’s kids, whenever she buys some for herself.

We cannot substitute our presence; the guilt of not spending enough time with our kids is clear in the concept of ‘presents instead of presence.’ In today’s materialistic society, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress the people we don’t even like, which in turn distorts our relationship with our kids and their sense of reality. It alters their priorities and moves them away from Allah (swt) – into the Hell we are commanded to save them from.

Parents must sacrifice their pleasures for their kids. Instead of eating out, make cooking new things an adventure. Instead of going to the malls, spend time playing sports with your kids. Instead of aiming for that upper middle class lifestyle, aim for that highest level in Jannah. We, as parents, must review our priorities in order to instill correct character traits in our kids.

We should build a strong sense of pride in the Islamic way of life. We should equip our kids with proofs from the Quran and the Sunnah, so that they can defend their choices. We should inform them, using logic and Ayahs from the Quran about Islam’s stand on various issues. For example, my son asked me, if a girl who wore jeans would go to Hell. I, in turn, quoted the Hadeeth about the etiquettes of dress, which gave him ‘ammunition’ for convincing his sister not to wear jeans!

Be sure you do not confuse your kids – do what you ask them to do. In other words, make it a line in stone that you MUST practice what you preach, or else your kids WILL not get the message. Provide for them a home environment, which exemplifies the Islamic way of life. Structure your activities around Salaah timings – this will reinforce the importance of Salaah. Show to your kids that you give to the poor and the needy as much as you can – this will impress them, and they will understand that wealth is a trust from Allah (swt) to be dispensed as per His instructions. Make Ramadan special and perform acts of worship as a family – believe me, it will last a lifetime. I still pine for the days, when we would stay up all night and pray during the last ten days of Ramadan with my mom, grandmother, aunts and neighborhood women. It was the highlight of the year for us!

I cannot stress enough the importance of a peaceful and loving relationship between father and mother, which serves as an example for future relationships kids will make. Only insist on the best – the best prayer (with devotion and humility), the best fast (with perseverance) and the best attitude towards your fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For a better and responsible future generation, all parents must work hard on their kids’ moral and ethical upbringing. The benefit will be a strong Islamic society in this world and Jannah in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah.

Marriage – A Spiritual Boon

By Ruhie Jamshaid

“And those who say: ‘Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the Muttaqun.’ Those will be rewarded with the highest place (in Paradise) because of their patience. Therein they shall be met with greetings and the word of peace and respect.” (Al-Furqan 25:74-75)

When I got married almost seven years ago, I did not quite truly comprehend the importance of the act. Many of us look at marriage as a natural transition in life; something inevitable and socially necessary. I was no different.

But with the advent of my life in this new direction of matrimony, I realized the weight of the Hadeeth I had so often heard – according to Anas Ibn Malik (rta), Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of the Deen; so let him fear Allah regarding the remaining half.” (At-Tirmidhi and Bayhaqi)

Indeed, I realized why half of my faith was being fulfilled now, as opposed to my days of single-hood. If earlier I had lived mostly for myself under the safe shade of my father’s roof, then with marriage, I had suddenly become doubly responsible … for myself and for my spouse, and sometimes even for his family and he for mine. From ‘me’ the life transformed to ‘us.’ My husband and I both had to find a balance on the see-saw of life to keep afloat a marital home based on the principles of our faith.

The compromises had to be two-fold from both of us to varying degrees. Things that my husband had taken for granted during his pre-marriage days, such as his weekly three-hour tennis sessions, had to come to an end or get shortened drastically. My repulsion to enter the kitchen had to be defaced, and I had to learn to love cooking, because a good meal meant a lot to my husband. We both also had to delve deep within ourselves and modify certain personality traits, in order to ensure peace in the home and, hence, earn the pleasure of Allah (swt). It was suddenly about self-improvement and reflection, instead of a mindless existence.

With our family growing and children coming into the picture, there had to be a greater Jihad within. The ‘us’ carried much more weight now. My husband and I both had to extinguish certain facets of ourselves for the greater benefit of our children and family. We had to guard our prayers twice as hard, watch our words zealously and even eat far more healthily than we previously did, because we wanted to impact our flesh and blood correctly and seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) in the process. We had to be careful to uplift our body, mind and soul, because we had to lead by example now – young, eager eyes were watching us and absorbing all information that was to mould their lives.

Seven years from that fateful day of my marriage, I see that many changes have taken place in both my husband and I. Although life isn’t as free and frolicking as it used to be, it certainly is a lot more meaningful. There is this sense of purpose, a Jihad if you will, in living each day as a Muslim family. And I certainly feel closer to Allah (swt). When we have an argument, it isn’t about who’s right, but more so about if this is what Allah (swt) says is right. We try to research Islamic literature to find answers to our conflicts, thereby inevitably learning more about Islam. When I feel drained under the weight of my duties as a mother and wife, I recharge my soul by reminding myself that it isn’t about me but about doing what is required and right for the sake of Allah (swt). There is that constant reaffirmation of faith. Each single day is a Jihad in Allah’s (swt) way.

As a modern Muslimah, though I am clear about my family being a priority in the scheme of things in my life, I also remind myself that I have to be of service to society. My children are growing up, and there will come a time, when they will be far less dependent on me and will ‘fly’ out into the world from my loving nest. Hence, I also reserve a part of me to prepare for that day of having my nest somewhat empty. I try to do extra courses and also have a home-based communications business. I write for personal and professional reasons to stay connected with the world beyond my home. I make sure I exercise and keep healthy. I read to have intelligent things to talk about to my husband and children. I try to learn about Islam as much as I can.

I remind myself constantly not to drown completely and overwhelmingly in my role as a wife and a mother but also to develop more wholly by keeping in mind that I am also a daughter, a friend, a writer… a person in my own right. After all, isn’t making the best of one’s existence for the eventual pleasure of Allah (swt) what life is about?

In trying to be a well-rounded Muslimah, I seek to add value to my role as a mother and a wife. Being a good mother and wife isn’t about just the practical demands of the job. I have to be a source of knowledge and example for my children. I have to be able to walk beside my husband and support him in his role as the head of the family. It is only when I myself grow in worldly matters and in those concerning the path of Imaan that I will be a source of guidance and support to my children and husband and in the process build a strong Muslim family for the pleasure of Allah (swt). As a Muslimah, I have this great role of preparing my children to be capable members of the Muslim Ummah, and I have to be proactive in order to achieve it.

Marriage, overall, is a great spiritual boon. Having a God-fearing spouse as my ‘worldly’ guardian to remind me to thread the right path is a great gift. Having the responsibility of molding my children to become capable members of the Ummah is a blessing. Having an aim, a purpose every single day is enlightening. Indeed, marriage completes a major part of our faith and makes living a lot more meaningful.

(Share your marital life accounts with our readers. Maybe you are the inspiration they are looking for in their lives! Send your real life stories to

So that you can fly

Vol 5 - Issue 2 So that you can flyBy Umm Isam and Alia Adil

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared – he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.

He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (swt) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.
If Allah (swt) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that – we would never be able fly.

Another important factor to realize is that Allah (swt) never places on us a burden heavier than our might. If life throws a challenge our way, we should be convinced in our heart that we can handle it; otherwise, we would not have encountered it. After all, Allah (swt) has created us and knows our level of strength.

Struggles are also a trial from Allah (swt) to test, which one of us loses hope and wanes away, and which one stands firm, praying to Allah (swt) earnestly and moving on with determination. They know that Allah (swt) is always on the side of those, who face struggles head on and fight with all the resources and courage they can muster, praying to Allah (swt) for help and triumph. “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)

Finally, Allah (swt) promises: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief…” (Ash-Sharh)

Another significant issue to understand is the concept of relief. To us, mortals, relief may mean regaining lost wealth, recovering from a terrible disease or winning back friends lost in a quarrel. In other words, returning to a previous state of life, which was disrupted due to a sudden change.

With His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) views circumstances differently. He knows the unforeseen and thus decides, what is best for us, so long as we place our trust in Him, submitting to His will. This means that people may stay poor following a financial loss or die from a disease, or never patch up with lost friends. This may be relief from Allah (swt) – if our being rich or living, or socializing with certain friends would have led us to a disaster in this world and in the Akhirah (Hereafter).

Sometimes, relief comes in ways that benefits us instantly, the results of which can be witnessed, whereas at other times, relief cannot be comprehended immediately. We just have to pray to Allah (swt) to help us understand and be patient with His decision. Relief is always on its way – it is Allah’s (swt) promise!