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:

 

DECEIT LOVE OF WEALTH SELF-CONCEIT
  • 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 editor@hibamagazine.com)