Surah Al-Hujurat in Our Lives (Part 5)

Verse 9

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“And if two parties or groups among the believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them both, but if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it complies with the Command of Allah; then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are equitable.” (Al-Hujurat 49:9)

Most of the verses in this Surah were revealed in context to a situation or event that occurred. Allah (swt) now focuses our attention to a Muslim’s manners with his fellow Muslim brothers. It is very interesting to note that He did not immediately command us to love them; rather, He gave us practical advice and strategies to solve conflicts that cannot be avoided. Here He uses the word Muminoon, which means that despite their level of faith (Iman), conflict cannot be prevented, because it is a natural instinct of humans to disagree and dispute.

Here is a breakdown of the verse explaining the commands from Allah (swt):

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا

Allah (swt) is ordering us to make peace between two groups of believers who, despite their strong faith, are fighting and possibly killing each other. He mentions the worst that could happen (that is, killing and fighting), so that if we are prepared for the worst, then we can definitely be prepared for the least (arguing and verbal fights). This makes it very clear that if believers can fall into such fighting and killing amongst themselves, then they will definitely fall into minor issues as well.

Allah (swt) starts this verse by telling us not to expect an ideal or perfect Muslim society. This is the life of the Dunya. There is no perfection. That is why we need to know how to deal with these situations. We need to control the situation and prevent it from growing worse. Arguments and disputes lead to the killing of the relationship. The fight itself is not your concern; rather, you should be concerned with preventing it and avoiding it. He also tells us that we shouldn’t be an audience, when we see believers fighting around us. We should try to prevent the problem from growing worse.

Why does He say two groups and not two people? Because the argument escalates into family and groups, Allah (swt) mentioned “groups” of believers. Family members will usually support one another.

What is the reason behind fights and disputes?

  • Shaitan: He never ceases to stir enmity between people and make the believers fight. The Quran mentions: “…Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!” (Yusuf 12:5)
  • Sins: We turn away from people, when they commit sins, and people may turn away from us, if we commit sins. Instead, we need to advise each other and help each other, instead of turning away or worse, talking about the sin.

These fights usually start out over petty issues. Shaitan causes each person to blame the other, and this results in social discord. A Muslim should not have high expectations from people. When you truly believe that people are not perfect, you will overlook their mistakes.

As an onlooker to a growing argument between two Muslims, what should you do?

Your intention is to fix the situation. You should call one of them and tell him some good things about the other. Then you should call the second and say good things about the first. Gradually, their hearts will start to soften and the matter will become insignificant. Allah (swt) will sow love in their hearts. Lying to fix something between two people is not considered to be sinful. If you spend money to fix the problems (i.e., buy gifts for them), then you will be rewarded for the money spent. You must, however, try to stay neutral and just between the two people. Also:

  • Do not try to elevate the status of one person, because you are closer to them.
  • Do not fix the problem simply to seek the praise of people.
  • Do not fix the problem to gain popularity, fame and good reputation among people.
  • Do not cause the problem to escalate.
  • Do not take sides.

ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي

What if the problem does not get fixed by communication?

This occurs, when both or one of the parties are being stubborn and refuse to give in.

فَإِن بَغَتْ  This word means ‘to transgress’ or ‘exceed boundaries’. One person has solved the issue from his side but the other one has gone beyond his limit. He should have ended the problem, but his ego and stubbornness came in the way.

What should you do?

Be firm with this transgressor and treat him, as though he is a sick person, afflicted with the disease of stubbornness.

  • Stop talking to him.
  • Avoid him.

This is a command from Allah (swt). Nowadays, when people see others fighting, they just watch on, until the problem becomes worse.

حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ

How long should you stay stern with the stubborn one?

You cannot bring people together, when they are angry, so when the transgressing one regrets and submits, make peace between the two.

ٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ this means ‘to return’. Return to what? Return to the command of Allah (swt), which is to solve the problem and avoid disputes. This process may take days, weeks, months or even years. It may occur between friends, family, husband and wife. Therefore, it is so much easier to stop the fight in its initial stages, before things get any worse. It is better to submit and apologize, than to regret and be remorseful over negative words and actions that may be the result of stubbornness and transgression.

This verse teaches us that we must remove social evils, so that our relationships are brimming with love and tranquility.

Sometimes people will discourage you and tell you that you should mind your own business, when you try to solve others’ problems. What should you do then?

  • Remember the first verse of Surah Al-Hujurat. “…O you who believe! Do not put (yourselves) forward before Allah and His Messenger (sa), and fear Allah…” (Al-Hujurat 49:1)
  • Remember that it is a command from Allah (swt).
  • Don’t put anybody before Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa).
  • Don’t ever say: ‘my culture’, ‘my society’ or ‘my family’. This selfish attitude does not encourage solving problems.
  • Remember that we need to go back to Allah’s (swt) Book to solve our problems in life.
  • Allah’s (swt) laws are perfect. They are not manmade.
  • Allah’s (swt) laws are suitable for all people in all times.

فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا

When they have reconciled, you must use equality and justice to keep this harmony maintained.

Finally, a Muslim should prefer Allah’s (swt) pleasure over the pleasure of people, because people change and what pleases them changes. However, Allah (swt) never changes.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

All this negotiation and reconciliation should be done, because Allah (swt) loves those who are just.

Verse 10

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah (swt) that you may receive mercy.” (Al-Hujurat 49:10)

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ

All the commands in the previous verse are conflict resolving strategies that must be carried for one sole purpose: because believers are brothers. The bond between them is made by Allah (swt), and their faith holds them together. Allah (swt) repeats the command to reconcile and arbitrate between brothers of faith, which stresses the importance of the matter.

If we go back to the verse, the reason of conflict and dispute is due to a weakening of faith because of sins. The level of faith decreases and hence, their love decreases. An indicator of high faith is when you love everyone for the sake of Allah (swt) and make Dua for all Muslims.

Do you really love someone for the sake of Allah (swt) or only because you think alike?

Nothing is constant except love for the sake of Allah (swt). Don’t be affected by financial status, looks, beauty and power.

  • Don’t be jealous.
  • Don’t bargain.
  • Don’t hate each other.
  • Be brothers.
  • Don’t be unjust.
  • Don’t disappoint him.
  • Don’t leave him.
  • Don’t belittle him.

وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

All of this requires Taqwa, so that we may receive the mercy of Allah (swt), which brings goodness in both Dunya and Akhirah and averts all evils.

Transcribed and adapted for Hiba Magazine by Shaheera Vakani (Jeddah).

Class of Today – Parliament of Tomorrow


In this fast paced and ever-changing world, we do not even know where 70% of today’s nursery kids would apply for jobs. According to a study, a child in nursery is going to enter a professional field that does not even exist right now.

A Common Assumption

It is believed that schools and classrooms are places where our children learn all their subject related skills – they are taught to solve math problems and hone their literary skills. Here, they are being prepared to become future engineers, creative writers, successful bankers and excellent doctors. As such, in these early years, many intellectual foundations are laid for our children to become superior professionals. However, the reality is that schools and classrooms are so much more. Educationists now see that the role of a school extends beyond just scholastic development.

Parents often say: “My child has learned it at school.” A student once asked her mom to cover her hair just like her teacher. When asked to think, before they answer a question, my children would say “nummm, nummm, nummm” – a sound their teacher made, while pondering over something. There are also instances, when children become agitated, if parents throw wrappers out of the car’s window or breach a traffic signal. These are a few of the innumerable examples of what children learn at school.

Yet another dimension is the behaviour patterns that children learn from school friends and even from the supporting staff. In short, children absorb the school environment as a whole. Considering this further, children are actually learning much more than what is written down in the syllabus. This is the “uncatalogued” or unwritten curriculum of the school or the hidden curriculum. This is the curriculum, which would actually help the next generation learn to fish instead of waiting for being given one.

Role of an Effective Teacher

A teacher has to be a reflective person, who understands the diversity among the students and is able to evaluate their overt and covert behaviours. She would then sift through these actions to keep the good ones and discard the not so constructive ones, before they became part of her students’ lifestyles. The best practice for an engaged teacher is to inculcate in her students the core values of a moral society. This is the reason why Prophet Muhammad (sa) held teaching in high esteem: “Whomsoever Allah (swt) intends to do good, He gives right understanding of religion, and knowledge is maintained only through teaching.” (Bukhari)

For Bringing a Real Change

The need of the time is an engaged discussion on the hidden and obscure dynamics of classrooms. We should re-evaluate our schools’ rituals and normal routines as promptness, neatness, adult authority, docility and even such seemingly small things as making cues.

Bullying and counterproductive behaviour must also be taken into serious consideration. We can see their effects on our society even with half an eye. Then, speaking in native language and celebrating culturally relevant events is something that helps children to honour their existence and feel happy about their identity.

Loss – Punishment or Reward?


Our life is shaped by two types of important events. The first one belongs to Q1 and is termed ‘urgent’, such as a heart attack that needs to be tended to immediately. The second is Q2, which is important but not urgent, such as a patient who shows high potential signs of coronary issues leading to a heart attack. If Q2 actions are delayed, ignored or not attended to, they turn into Q1 situations, distressing us and resulting in losses.

Q1s are further divided into two types: internal Q1s and external Q1s. Internal Q1 could be when my car has been troubling me for days and needs to go to the mechanic for repairs. I have an extremely busy schedule; hence, I defer this visit to the motor mechanic, believing it to be a secondary priority. Hence, one morning, as I am driving, the brakes of my car fail and I ram into another vehicle. This is followed by an ugly brawl with the other motorist. I end up paying him for the damages, cursing my fate, being late for an important official meeting and succumbing to my frustration.

In this scenario, do I deserve sympathy from people or help from Allah (swt)? It was my choice to pend the car’s maintenance job and jeopardize my own and others’ life. Hence, this loss will be a source of Zulumat (darkness) and not a reward from Allah (swt). I earned this destruction with my own hands knowingly. Good fortune doesn’t hold forever. We need to learn to prioritize our life and be prepared, as we can’t read the future. Other examples of internal Q1 behaviour could be:

  • Studying at the last moment for exams and failing later;
  • Ignoring signs of a weak body, resulting in serious ailments;
  • Deliberately misbehaving with or annoying family members, causing disputes;
  • Forgetting about an official project or customer’s task, leading to reprimand from the boss or, worse, demotion or termination.

Now, we flip the scenario and imagine that my car was standing at a traffic light and another vehicle crashed into me from behind. What could I have done to alter this fate? Nothing. It was destined to happen. If I bear that moment with patience and recite: “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajioon (I am from Allah (swt) and to Him is my return),” this loss is accompanied with Noor (light). It becomes an act of pleasure for Allah (swt), as I surrendered to His decree and remembered that my possessions are a trust with me that can be taken away at any time. I didn’t resist, realizing that what had happened was beyond my control. I saved myself and others around me from unwarranted stress, misgivings, self-beating and bitterness. This graceful response of a believer earns the highest ranks of honour not only in Paradise but also in the sight of those in this world, who perceive Allah’s (swt) magnificence. This is purely an external Q1. Other similar examples could be:

  • Saving yourself from disappointment, after learning that your best examination paper was not marked honestly;
  • Suddenly discovering that in spite of living a healthy lifestyle, you have been diagnosed with a terminal disease;
  • Despite behaving generously and in the family’s best interest, you are unappreciated;
  • You perform your best in the office, yet the promotion or salary increment goes to another peer.

In all such cases, when our plan is scattered like the leaves in the teeth of a cruel gale, know Allah (swt) has planned otherwise. Pray for patience and deliverance. And know that Allah’s (swt) plots are unmistakably based on His infinite wisdom and love for the believer. This should draw us closer to Him. We should refrain from hunting for logical answers we cannot comprehend, due to our limited mental capacity.

Internal Q1s, however, should be and can be consciously worked upon, as they are within our circle of influence and can reduce the stressors and Zulm we commit upon ourselves. List your most frequently occurring internal Q1s. Analyze where you are going wrong. Double your resolve to plan and prioritize your life. If a loss still intercepts you after that as an external Q1 situation, you can pray for Allah’s (swt) Noor to come and relieve you. It’s not a loss but a better deal!

Fighting Stress with the “Four A’s Rule”


A problem recognized is a problem half solved. When we find ourselves under mental pressure, we interchangeably call it anxiety, depression or stress. It is important to identify these as three distinct aspects of mental pressure, which impact our moods in different ways and, therefore, have to be addressed by appropriate kinds of treatment.

Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. Anxiety is related to situations, which are perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable. disorders are characterized by a sense of doubt and vulnerability about future events. The attention of anxious people is focused on their future prospects and the fear that those future prospects will be bad. For example, how will my children turn out to be? What will be Karachi’s law and order situation? Will my future husband help me practice Islam?

Depression differs from anxiety. Depressed people are not preoccupied with worrying about what might happen to them in the future. They think they already know what will happen, and they believe it will be bad, just like the current miserable state they are in. They start believing in things like “I can never save enough for Hajj” or “I am not capable of learning Arabic”. The key symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad and/or hopeless;
  • Lack of interest and enjoyment in activities that used to be fun and interesting;
  • Physical aches and pains without physical cause and lack of energy;
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering and/or making decisions;
  • Changes in appetite and weight;
  • Unwelcome changes in usual sleep pattern;
  • Thoughts of death and suicide.

Stress is completely different from anxiety or depression. Stress can be defined as a state we experience, when there is a mismatch between perceived demands and perceived ability to cope. Whether we feel stress or not depends upon the balance between how we view demands, and how we think we can cope with those demands.

Strategies for Fighting Stress

There is a “Four ‘As’ Rule” for fighting stress in our day to day life.

‘A’ for Avoid

“The greatest prison that people live in is the fear of what other people think.” (David Icke – English writer, public speaker and former professional footballer.)

You are responsible for what is in your head. Remember! A negative mind cannot have positive thoughts. If you are told that the food you are about to eat is poisonous, you would choose to be hungry than eat the poison. Similarly, if you know that a certain situation, person or experience can cause stress, don’t take the chance of digesting this psychological poison. Be wise enough to remove yourself from places and situations that can be stressful. For instance, if you have to go shopping and you know that you can miss your Maghrib prayer, don’t go shopping at that time or go to a mall that has a prayer area. Similarly, if spending too much on unimportant things will drain out your budget and you fear you will not be able to pay Zakah, control your desires, and avoid excessive shopping.

One of the reasons we find ourselves trapped in stressful, useless commitments is our fear of saying ‘no’. Saying ‘no’ is not rude, especially if you are avoiding a stressor. The way you say it has to be gentle, wise and accommodating. We don’t always need to shout, offend or abuse, while saying ‘no’. It can be said with a graceful smile.

Try to have clear priorities in life and avoid all distractions that come in your way to achieve your goals. For example, if you are asked to attend a late night party a day before your child’s exam, try to call, congratulate on the occasion and tell the host your reasons to miss the occasion. You can visit the host prior to the event or at a better time with a gift to compensate for the absence.

There are numerous incidents from the life of the Prophet (sa), which illustrate how he said ‘no’ without hurting anyone’s feelings. One of them is mentioned in the following Hadeeth:

Abu Dharr (rtam) narrated: “We fasted with the Messenger of Allah (sa) in Ramadan and he did not lead us in praying Qiyam until there were seven days left in the month, when he led us in praying Qiyam until one-third of the night had passed. Then he did not lead us in praying Qiyam when there were six days left. Then he led us praying Qiyam when there were five days left until one-half of the night had passed. I said: “O Messenger of Allah! What if we spend the rest of this night praying Nafl?” He said: “Whoever prays Qiyam with the Imam until he finishes, Allah will record for him the Qiyam of a (whole) night.” (An-Nasai)

Note the Prophet’s (sa) response to Abu Dharr (rtam). He did not reply ‘no’ to his question though his answer implied this. He simply informed him that if he follows the Imam, it will be as if he spent the whole night praying Nafl.

‘A’ for Alter

Avoiding is not always possible. In cases, when complete avoiding is not a good choice, you can alter the situation to have a pleasant and agreeable setup. Remember: our decisions are very important for us, but we need to show concern and respect for our family and friends, too, which is a very important characteristic of a Muslim.

A Hadeeth states: “…friendliness toward people is half of (one’s) intelligence.” (Bayhaqi) Here friendliness is considered to be intelligence, because it helps a Muslim be sociable and stay out of fights, abuses and trickeries, which can only be done by intelligent minds.

Alter situations to avoid confrontations.

If your husband does not like your cooking, try to see what you can do to alter that. Request your mother-in-law or sister-in-law for recipes that work. At times, it is only a matter of adding a few spices or getting rid of some. By doing a thing as simple as that, you can have a pleasant, joyful dining experience with your spouse.

If you find yourself spending too much time on maintaining your house, shift to a simple lifestyle that will give you relief from maintenance and a lot more time for studying religion and enjoying with family.

Another Hadeeth says: “The believer is one who is sociable (with others), and there is no good in one who is not sociable (with others), nor in one who is not met sociably (by them).” (Bayhaqi and Al-Hakim).

You cannot and should not avoid people, but meet them in a way that is best in Islam.

Abu Burdah (rtam) narrated: Abu Musa (rtam) said: “I was with the Prophet (sa) when he was encamping at Al-Jaranah (a place) between Makkah and Madinah. Bilal (rtam) was with him. A Bedouin came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘Won’t you fulfill what you have promised me?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Rejoice (at what I will do for you).’ The Bedouin said: ‘(You have said to me) rejoice too often.’ Then the Prophet (sa) turned to me (i.e. Abu Musa (rtam)) and Bilal (rtam) in an angry mood and said: ‘The Bedouin has refused the good tidings, so you both accept them.’ Bilal (rtam) and I said: ‘We accept them.’ Then the Prophet (sa) asked for a drinking bowl containing water and washed his hands and face in it; then he took a mouthful of water and threw it therein saying (to us): ‘Drink (some of) it and pour (some) over your faces and chests and be happy at the good tidings.’ They both took the drinking bowl and did as instructed. Umm Salamah (rtaf) called from behind a screen: ‘Keep something (of the water) for your mother.’ So they left some of it for her.” (Bukhari)

Again, note the Prophet’s (sa) response to the Bedouin to whom he (sa) had promised something but could not ultimately deliver. He told him kindly to rejoice but the audacious reply of the Bedouin ended up enraging them. He did not, however, make a mountain out of a molehill. He did not reply in kind. He applied the “alter” principle and directed the attention of those present to something else entirely different.

‘A’ for Adapt

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Just accept that you can’t always be the wronged one. Self pity and blaming everything on others is a full stop to progress. There are things in life that you can control and change through proper planning and time management. For instance, if you are always late for Salah, see how you can adapt your lifestyle to be punctual. Plan your activities such that they do not fall into Salah time. Stop all work with the Adhan. Get up and perform Wudhu. You can even switch off your phone. Likewise, if you are always late for work, maybe you can wake up a little earlier or use a route with less traffic. Try to adapt to situations that cannot be avoided.

The following incident from the life of Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah (rtam) illustrates how the Companions of the Prophet (sa) used the ‘adapt’ principle instead of stressing about things (or people) they could not change.

The Prophet (sa) once sent Amr ibn Al-As (rtam) to Dhat As-Salasil, Syria, on an expedition. When he arrived in Syria, he noticed that the enemy was great in number. He sent a message to the Messenger (sa), asking him for reinforcements. The Prophet (sa) then sent Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah (rtam) with a unit, comprising some of the early Muhajirun, including Abu Bakr (rtam) and Umar (rtam). Abu Ubaidah (rtam) was the commander of this unit.

Before dispatching this unit, the Prophet (sa) instructed Abu Ubaidah (rtam) that he should not differ with Amr ibn Al-As (rtam).

Abu Ubaidah (rtam) left with his unit and when he reached Dhat As-Salasil, Amr (rtam) told him: “You have come to reinforce my army and I am its commander.”

Abu Ubaidah (rtam) replied: “I remain in my position as you remain in yours.” (This meant that he would lead his unit while Amr (rtam) would lead the rest of the army.)

Amr (rtam) insisted: “No, you have been sent to reinforce my army.”

Abu Ubaidah (rtam) responded: “O Amr! The Messenger (sa) told me that the two of us should not differ. So even if you disobey me, I will obey you.”

Amr (rtam) said: “In that case, I am your commander and you are reinforcing me.”

Abu Ubaidah (rtam) agreed. Amr (rtam) stepped forward and led the prayer. After the expedition was over and the Prophet (sa) was informed about this, he said: “May Allah have mercy upon Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah!” (Ibn Katheer)

In the process of adapting, you may find the following tips useful:

  • Always keep ‘time buffers’: a certain amount of extra time in your schedule for dealing with circumstances beyond your control. For example, instead of running to catch a plane at the eleventh hour, leave a little early for managing the traffic jams. If you reach early, you will be less hassled and more relaxed.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle for managing your level of stress. Make sure that your routine includes exercise, healthy food, leisure activities and time for family.
  • Try to decrease competition and sense of time urgency in life. Keep your cool and show your strengths only when required. Your softer side should be prevalent.
  • Also remember that we have to understand the Islamic perspective of challenges and hardships. These may be:
  • Mismanagement: Not using Allah’s (swt) blessings properly means paying a hefty price. This includes our time, money, health and all forms of Rizq.
  • Punishment: Sometimes, it is our own evil that is coming around. A thorough repentance and mending relations with blood relatives is a very important remedial. During times of trials, along with repentance, try to give Sadaqah (charity) as well.
  • Blessing in disguise: When you find yourself buried under layers of darkness like Yunus (as), follow his example: remember the Creator of that darkness. Some lessons are learnt only the hard way.
  • Try to improve your life by identifying major causes of stress, which may be:
  • Love of the world: Controlling our reactions is crucial. Equally important is the need to take a closer look at our lifestyles. Too much love of worldly possessions creates fear of loss and depression. Limit your wants by knowing your needs. Avoid indulgence.
  • Lack of proper nutrition: Eating inorganic, fast food and lack of routine in proper eating habits spoils the mood. If one does not eat at proper intervals, or if one starves for too long only to fill up the stomach with junk food, then the brain is confused to the extent that it treats hunger as stress. The body responds to hunger not by eating (because it is not trained to), but by shouting, screaming and showing irritation.
  • Lack of proper sleep: Agitation is also a common reaction to sleep deprivation. A healthy, sound sleep makes us happy and relaxed. By staying up for too long, we become irritable and angry.

One more important factor keeping people away from emotional stability is uncontrolled thoughts. Have you ever noticed that your last thought before going to sleep is the first one that you have when you wake up? For the entire night, our brain is engaged in thoughts. So make Dua, thank Allah (swt) and think positively, as you lie down to sleep. Avoid horror movies or late night talks.

‘A’ for Accept

For circumstances beyond human control, we need to accept the situation and place our Tawakkal (reliance) on Allah (swt). This means that you should trust and depend on Allah’s (swt) will without complaining. “Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.). Because he considers himself self-sufficient.” (Al-Alaq 96:6-7) If harm touches us, and we are not able to solve it through Halal means, then we should accept it as a decree of Allah (swt) and hope for good times to come in the future. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “So verily, with hardship, there is relief. Verily, with hardship, there is relief (i.e., there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs).” (Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)

Remember that perfection lies in being unapologetic about the imperfections of our lives. It is okay if your height, complexion, mental capacity or family life is not the way you wanted it, because it is exactly the way Allah (swt) wants it.

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

You will find within yourself a great energy to improve and enjoy if you stop questioning destiny.

In “Enjoy your Life”, Dr. Al-Arifi narrates the following incident. Once, the Prophet (sa) went out on an expedition with his Companions. After a while, their food started running out and they felt weak. The Prophet (sa) instructed them to gather whatever food they had. He spread his cloak. One man came forward with a date or two; another brought a piece of bread. When all the food was collected, they sat down and ate with contentment. It is quite obvious that none of them ate his fill, but at least they ate something. All of them applied the ‘accept’ principle without stressing about the fact that they had little food or where would they get more of it from.

Allah (swt) has placed our eyes at the front of our head, because it is more important to look ahead than to look back. Don’t dwell on things in the past. Learn from them and keep moving on.

Emotional stress is a subjective illusion created by the human mind. If stress were real and objective, like, for example, gravity, then it would impact everyone the same way. Stress eats away our bottom lines and affects our mental health, personalities and attitudes. Control it before it starts controlling you.

Don’t forget to develop a sense of thankfulness towards Allah (swt). The more we thank Allah (swt) for what we have and what is happening with us, the less we get upset for what we do not have and what is not happening with us.

Allah (swt) has promised in the Quran: “…If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings)…” (Ibrahim 14:7)

Dhikr in any form is a very good medicine for stress. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

Likewise, it is our responsibility, as Muslims, to ensure that we are not triggering stress in the lives of others. We often do that unintentionally by asking too many questions about someone’s personal life, weak points and embarrassing aspects of their lives that they don’t want to share. Also, avoid pointing out other people’s anomalies or weaknesses.

If we wouldn’t have any difficulties in our lives, we would not have the chance for recognizing our true potential. We don’t need to be strong in every situation, we don’t need to be always winning and we don’t even need to be happy all the time. We just need to be Muslims in submission to Allah’s (swt) will, grateful for His blessings, patient in times of trial and never losing hope. Keep trying, seeking help from Allah (swt) and hoping for the best.

Let me reiterate this: Muslims are the Khulafa of Allah (swt) on the Earth. It is only because of our own condition that the world is in this state of chaos. We need to take control of our lives and stresses. We are responsible for the world we live in.

Surviving Under Pressure


I often ask people, if they had ever thought of committing suicide in their academic life, and a reasonable number of them say ‘yes’, even the ones, who had been high achieving students in their lives. According to a study done by the National Institute of Mental Health, USA, suicide is the third leading cause of death in youngsters aged 15 to 24. Another study, conducted in Australian High Schools on students aged 12 to 14 years, revealed that students with low self esteem, depressed mood and perceptions of failure may be at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Our children live under enormous pressures these days. They are on a constant battle to survive against all odds. Almost every other child in this world undergoes a painful, psychologically uncomfortable and often dehumanizing experience in order to receive education. I believe there are at least three kinds of pressures that work upon them: academic pressure, parental pressure and peer pressure.

How does Academic Pressure Work?

The first kind of pressure that works upon our children is academic pressure. They are almost always burdened. They have to carry a bag filled with six to eight textbooks and notebooks for each subject. Homework is something that most of them do not enjoy and cannot escape from. These poor children cannot afford to be absent from class, even if they are not well. According to a survey, children aged between 11 and 14 do an average of three-hour homework, in order to survive and remain acceptable in their schooling systems. They carry a bag which is about 40% of their body weight. According to British Osteopathic Association: “Children should never carry more than about 15% of their own body weight. The long term effects from carrying heavy bags include strains on the neck and shoulder leading to headaches, fatigue and an early development of poor posture along with strain to arms and wrists.”

Majority of school going children hardly go for a morning or evening walk and do not experience the pleasant breeze and fresh oxygen, which is required for better brain functioning. Almost every second day is a test or some marked assignment. About 20% of their school days are allocated for exams. In between, there are such competitions as spelling bee and declamation contests requiring students to prepare five to six hours a day with immense pressure to win each of them. Tuitions are a routine, which they have to follow. And there are tests at tuitions, too. Students, who concentrate on their academics, look too serious, exhausted and often ignorant about what is happening in the world or in their families. They tend to forget themselves for the love or fear of exams. All that is important in their lives is to fulfill the academic demands at any cost. These poor children receive respect from society on the basis of their academic performance and not on the basis of their good intentions or great ideas.

It is generally believed that teachers cannot contain more than two subjects, while students are able to accommodate the diverse and often unconnected pieces of knowledge from eight subjects. Many children face immense learning difficulties, as they are not allowed to express their understanding in the language they know well. Classwork that is demanded on a particular pace with a particular level of perfection from every child becomes an instrument of torture. How strange it is to offer a break of twenty minutes in a school day of six hours. Sometimes even this twenty minutes break is also withdrawn from a child, who needs additional time for making up the academic work. If the school is located at a distance, then the travelling time in school transport adds to their miseries.

How does Parental Pressure Work?

Another pressure that badly affects children is parental pressure. I have heard many children saying:  “I wish I was born free.” Parents generally have very high and non-flexible expectations from their children. It has become hard for many parents to trust their children’s abilities and intentions, when they fail to do well in exams. In a majority of cases, the relationship between parents and children relies on the grades the children receive in their exams, which is so very unfortunate.

Given the above mentioned facts, it appears that children in today’s world are doing two jobs. They are employed at two places: school and home. They cannot take a day off at their will and are often not compensated for their work. They live a life where friendships, questioning, experimentation and wandering around are hardly appreciated. They are not encouraged for their natural curiosity and qualities of giving, sharing and frankness. Instead, they are chained to follow an agenda and a routine that is set for them without their consent. All children go through this, until they become able to exercise their own will and experience their independence. But many poor children are lost in this battle. Their creative spark is successfully extinguished by the collective efforts of parents and schools.

One of the ambitions of parents is to get their child admitted into a brand school. Under this vision, mothers start dreaming about some of the renowned schools already at the time of their pregnancies. Imagine the terrible pressure the poor child will be born with. She or he will be sent to preparation centres at the age of two years, in order to pass the entrance test of his/her parents’ dream school. Once the child is admitted, the vicious never-ending cycle of academic stress, competitions and loads of homework is on the way.

Much of the conversation that takes place between parents and children is governed by the following questions or instructions: “What happened in your school today? How was your test today? What grade did you get in the last paper? What is the homework today? When is the next test? Change your school uniform. Do your Salah. Have your lunch and, please, do it quickly. Get ready for tuition.”

Another form of parental pressure is their demand for discipline and maintaining a tidy and mess-free home. Girls in particular become a victim of this wish. In many families, the obsession to tame the children for manners and obedience in their early childhood supersedes any other wish of meaningful learning or relationship.

Many parents demand their children to choose a particular professional field, without considering the child’s interests. A majority of parents make their children realize that they spend a lot of money on their education, and that children have to pay back through getting good grades. When children somehow fail to meet the demands of their parents, they feel bad about themselves and lose self confidence.

How does Peer Pressure Work?

Peer pressure plays a phenomenal role in the lives of children. Children want to be liked, accepted and appreciated by their peers more than anyone else in the world. This peer consciousness causes some positive and negative influences on their personality. They learn from their peers and become interested in doing things, which are being liked by their peers. Mark Twain once put it beautifully in his witty style: “I have always paid the school master for the education of my kids, but these are the school boys who have taught him.”

Sometimes good habits and trends are initiated and reinforced by groups of children, while at other times it is vice versa. A child being a part of his social group gets influenced by his or her peers. At times, a child may not feel comfortable in adopting something from the peers. But the fear of being unpopular, disapproved and rejected by the social group surrounds the child and exerts immense pressure on him/her.

Although many children experience some sort of peer pressure, they usually do not realize it. Peer pressure takes a child into a complex state of varied feelings, ranging from fears and rage to hate, hope and jealousy. If a child is not confident enough, his/her self image will be severely influenced by the kind of treatment he/she receives from the peers. Sometimes, children stop pursuing their genuine natural interests, because they feel that they will be ridiculed for their interests. Often, many children tend to do things which are not of their choice but the desire of the group. Smoking is one such example, which a lot of boys and girls initiate, in order to look smart and cool. Sometimes, they smoke to seek additional appreciation from their peers. For some children, smoking becomes their social passport. Some children try to impress their peers through smoking or through any other activity, which is forbidden by the adults.

Peer pressure may be unspoken or unintentional. Sometimes a child may feel pressured not because peers are asking him to do a certain thing but the child himself feels that if he will not do a certain thing, he might be considered silly.

Nobody likes to be rejected by the equals. When children fail to cope with peer pressures or, in other words, do not conform to group norms, they isolate themselves or restrict their interaction with few class fellows. Many do not create friendships; rather, they limit themselves to acquaintanceships. A reasonable number of children willingly or unwillingly adopt what is being desired by their peers and conform to group norms.

One of the major causes of negative peer pressure is comparison between children. Many teachers and parents do it continuously in subtle ways. Some do it rather explicitly. When we do not recognize children, as who they really are, and fail to own them unconditionally, they learn to doubt themselves. Their confidence weakens and they become increasingly sensitive to the approval from their peers.

How Can We Reduce Academic Pressure?

  1. We need to believe that academics are not everything. A successful person is not the one who gets good grades, but a person who is well-rounded, happy and enjoys healthy body and mind with a vision to strive for.
  2. Schools should reduce the number and size of exams and introduce alternatives to formal testing like portfolio development and mechanism of self-assessment. This will help to eradicate the tuition culture and children will have some free time for family and other meaningful activities.
  3. Curriculum should be made child-friendly and flexible. There should be more opportunities of recreation, and the academic process must capitalize on students’ interests and experiences.
  4. Early education process must be carried out in the language children are proficient in. Education must not demand a child to switch the medium of his thinking.
  5. If we cannot reduce the weight of school bags, at least we can replace them by trolley school bags, like it is done by children in Europe.

How Can We Reduce Parental Pressure?

  1. Children are born with countless interests. Identify and respect the interests of your children and facilitate them to pursue their interests.
  2. Learn to trust children unconditionally. Accept your children for what they are. Help your children pursue their dreams, instead of forcing your own vision onto them.
  3. Never equate your children’s intelligence and creativity with their academic results. Grades tell us nothing about a child’s talents or creative potentials. Appreciate your children for what they do enthusiastically.
  4. Acknowledge the fact that your children are loaded with work, and that they need some time to relax. Keep an eye on yourself to ensure that you do not become the one who over-burdens your child.
  5. Instead of throwing questions on children and asking them to give a report of their day, wait and understand their situation and problems.

How Can We Reduce Peer Pressure?

  1. Give children a positive, stress-free and emotionally comfortable environment. They are likely to interact with their peers in a congenial manner when they are relaxed.
  2. Train children to realize why they feel how they feel. Help them recognize their different states of feelings. They will learn to be empathetic through your wise and friendly facilitation.
  3. Eliminate all forms of individual competitions and never use individual comparison as a strategy for motivation. In fact, it is something that de-motivates them and affects their relationship with their peers.
  4. Engage with your child in open and meaningful discussions to prepare them for dealing with the issues they might face in society.
  5. Make your child exceptionally confident and courageous. Confidence will enable a child to become who he or she really is, without feeling devalued or becoming dependent on the approval of peers.

Writer’s email:

A 9-year-old’s stress


Summer vacation was over and the kids had just returned to school, starting their new session. It was still the first week in their new grades. One particular mother was having trouble putting the children onto an earlier bedtime schedule. Marium, her 9 nine-year-old would especially not co-operate. No matter what mum said and did, Marium would not just budge. Exasperated, mum requested her husband to take over before she ended up in an ugly tussle with their daughter. Following is the conversation between father and daughter:

Dad: “Marium, sweetheart, I want to talk to you. Mum is saying you are not co-operating much. Is something the matter? It seems like something is eating you.”

Marium: “I’ve got a lot of worries!”

Dad: “Really, well let me hear them all. Let’s talk in your room.”

Dad and Marium head to Marium’s room. Twenty minutes later dad comes out of the room smirking to himself.

A bewildered mum asks: “What happened?”

Dad: “Nothing. I put her to bed.”

Mum: “Just like that?”

Dad: “I wrote down her worries.”

Mum: “And?”

Dad: “And I read them back to her.”

Mum: “Then what happened?”

Dad: “I promised her that I will help her tackle her issues on the weekend. She put her list under her pillow, changed into her night suit and went to bed.”

The next morning when mum was changing Marium’s bedsheets, her list fell to the floor. Here’s what it said:

What’s worrying Marium?

  1. Messy closet and bedroom. She has to share her room with her younger sister Alyah who is a 4-year-old, not willing to put any stuff back in its place.
  2. Great deal of work at school and plenty of thick books to carry.
  3. Having trouble understanding the new Math chapter.
  4. Needs more spending allowance for school snacks as prices have hiked since past term.
  5. Lost brand new pencil case in school.
  6. Some younger kids in her school bus are naughty and irritating.
  7. Has no decent pair of sandals to wear to her best friend’s upcoming party.

Mum smiled as she read the note. She realized that as grownups we assume that only we have real troubles in life. It’s easy to forget that children can have them too. And just like us, they need someone to listen and take their worries seriously. For an adult they may sound childish and petty. But for a child they mean the world: a world they live in. The worst thing that an adult can do is dismiss or ridicule a child’s sentiments, terming them as senseless or wrong. As they say, you do not teach swimming to a drowning person. When listening to worries, just hear them out. Discussions can ensue at a later time. By then, some issues have already taken care of themselves and some are more open to be talked about.

“Children need to hear an unqualified acceptance of their emotions of the moment. A response that conveys full understanding without reservation or judgment empowers young people and grants them the courage to begin to deal with their problems.” (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)

Adapted from “How to talk so kids can learn”    

It’s not Bad to be Sad

sadCo-authored by Umm Isam

We often aim to escape from a phase of sadness, assuming that it’s not a ‘good’ or ‘normal’ state to be in. We feel sorry for people, who are undergoing certain sorrow or distress. Have we wondered why we are feeling this way? We often fail to realize that sadness is an emotion just like any other emotion in our life. Why do we feel so bad about being sad? How did we come to this conclusion that sadness is bad and happiness is good? Let’s look into some reasons which we fail to acknowledge.

It is important to note that we live in a capitalist structure of society, which was initiated in the era of industrialization. Capitalism defines the society in a way that everyone seeks happiness in a certain object or material product. It has designed the media, products, schooling system, movies and dramas in a way that depicts a constant search for material happiness. Media is a powerful agent of the capitalists. They use it to condition humans in a way that their subconscious mind is engraved into attaining worldly or material products in order to gain happiness.

A prominent example is the common ad of skin whitening creams, which always show two main scenes: the first scene with a girl who looks dull, dark and ‘sad’; the second scene shows a girl who looks fresh, fair and ‘happy’. Our mind is way smarter than we perceive it to be; hence, it catches even the slightest details and stores it in our subconscious memory. Next time, when we face a similar situation, we tend to pick what’s available in our subconscious mind. In this case, the media has fed us to look for happiness in a simple skin whitening cream.

Another common example of imposed happiness can be seen on Facebook. Have you ever noticed on Facebook any pictures of your friends crying or looking dull? I am sure not or very rarely. Even if people are feeling gloomy and sad, they pose with hugs and smiles when someone brings out the camera. It is obvious that they are smiling merely for Facebook and do not feel the actual happiness of that smile. This happens because of the basic concept that we have to be happy all the time, which is neither necessary nor natural.

Media perpetuates products and ads, which depict humans fetching happiness all the time, or it tries to provide steps of gaining ultimate happiness. Movies and dramas are filled with ‘they lived happily ever after’, happy endings and successful protagonists, giving us a message that we have to avail happiness in the same way, and if we don’t, then we are not normal.

Furthermore, the system of capitalism has also initiated many diseases, for example, depression, bipolar disorders and even eating disorders. It depicts and defines ‘happy’ for us, and then we develop a feeling of Hasad (envy) trying to seek that happiness for ourselves; hence, we increase the risks of such diseases as depression and anxiety. The societal pressure to look happy weighs people down so heavily that they often need to seek professional help.  People experiencing depression visit psychiatrists, who prescribe anti-depressants. These drugs are highly priced and require to be taken for a long time. Pharmaceutical companies are making millions out of them, so they rope in doctors, who at times are not even qualified to prescribe these drugs. Furthermore, the chemicals in these drugs prevent the self-correctional process of human body that Allah (swt) has granted, thus throwing everything into disarray. Sometimes, all a sad person needs is counselling from another wise person or friend, instead of antidepressants.

The pressure to feel joyful is so immense that when a child falls or a teenager fails at something, parents don’t even want to acknowledge their sorrow. A child is told that all is okay and he must not cry. The adolescent is admonished to display bravado and not immaturity. In contrast, psychologists strongly advise to acknowledge these distressful feelings and emotionally empathize with these kids. This is to ensure that they will trust their feelings the next time. If we muffle them, they would eventually become desensitized and won’t respond to anybody’s pain, assuming it to be wrong. If we cut our finger and do not acknowledge it, we can actually bleed to death unknowingly. It is Allah’s (swt) mercy to feel hurt in order to recover and survive.

Allah (swt) designed everything with symmetry. If there is hot, then there is cold, too. Too much of anything makes survival difficult and can eventually destroy the system. Similarly, Allah (swt) designed happiness and sadness together, complimenting each other and giving symmetry to our life.

We, as Muslims, are well aware of the fact that nothing can stay forever. How can we expect happiness or even sadness to stay forever in our lives? A common example is going on a vacation. We enjoy ourselves and experience great happiness; however, if the vacation gets too long, we eventually start getting homesick. This is because nothing can keep us happy or sad forever. The system of Allah (swt) is flawless and everything is balanced with both positives and negatives.

Allah (swt) is the One, Who makes us happy or sad. In a state of sadness, we are not permitted to utter the words of Kufr, fall into disbelief, pose threat or harm to others, and doubt the existence of Allah (swt), or whether He has forsaken us. Some incidents in life cannot be explained through reasoning and seem very unjust, but Duniya is not Dar-ul-Jaza (a place where we will be rewarded). It is imperfect. It is a place of test for a believer, so he can score well with Sabr and Salah and attain the most exquisite bounties of Paradise, which will be perfect. Good people may be afflicted with severe hardships. Sadness should be a means to draw closer to our Rabb (swt) and ask for forgiveness.

If you remember Allah (swt) in times of joy, He will stay close to you in times of distress. A strong believer never forgets his Creator and always invokes Him alone for strength in sadness.

Instead of looking for happiness all the time, we should consider the perfect system designed by Allah (swt) and realize that no matter which emotion we experience, it should be treated well. Research has shown that crying can actually make people feel better and relieve the stress that was accumulating in their body. Therefore, it is better to let your sadness out and feel it completely; however, we should not let it overpower us and influence our lifestyle. We should learn from life events and move on. Don’t allow the media to condition a definition of happiness for you; rather, develop your own happiness. Be adventurous, take risks and always trust Allah (swt).

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali


Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, also known in the West as Algazel, was born at Tus, Iran, in 1058 CE. He received his early education at Tus, and at the age of fourteen, he went to Gurgan, where he studied Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). After seven years, he moved to the city of Nishapur and became a student of the famous scholar, Abu Malik Al-Juwayni.

He soon acquired a high standard of scholarship in religion, philosophy and Fiqh. The vizier of the Seljuk Sultan, impressed by his scholarship, appointed him as a Professor at the Nizamiyah University of Baghdad, which was the most reputed institution of learning at that time.

After a few years, however, he gave up his academic pursuits and worldly interests to become a wandering ascetic.

After spending some time in Jerusalem, Makkah and Madinah, he came back to Tus and spent several years in seclusion. He finally ended his seclusion, opened a Sufi school and started teaching and lecturing. He remained in Tus until his death in December, 1111 CE.

Al-Ghazali was an influential Muslim theologian; in addition, he was a philosopher, a jurist and a Sufi mystic. He was a prolific writer, authoring more than seventy books. One of his major works, the multi-volume “Ihya ul-Uloom ud-Din” (“The Revival of Religious Sciences”), can be divided into four parts. It covers nearly all aspects of Islam, including Islamic jurisprudence, theology and Sufism.

Al-Ghazali authored two books on Islamic theology. He was very interested in logic and philosophy, and he studied intensively while he was teaching at Baghdad. He composed two books on philosophy as well.

Al-Ghazali’s work had a widespread influence on Western Medieval scholars, especially Thomas Aquinas. He received wide recognition in the religious institutions of the Ottoman Empire, southeast Asia and Africa.

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Community Matters


The basic question to ask yourself at this very point in time is: “What legacy do you want to leave behind? Consider the lives of the prophets, who brought significant change in their respective societies. Prophet Muhammad (sa) led the Ummah to success. Caliphs like Umar (rta) and scholars like Imam Ash-Shafi left their mark on this world. The question is: “What have you done? Besides personal achievements, what are your imprints in the society in which you live? What are you doing to bring about positive social change?”

Let’s talk a bit about change. As a member of the Muslim Ummah, bringing about positive change is a part of our mission. Anything that does not grow is considered to be dead, for example, a chair or a desk. On the other hand, even a small plant grows, because it is alive. Allah (swt) has designated us as the best Ummah, but being the best comes with a responsibility mentioned in the following verse:

“You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah (legal ways, etc.)] are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Maruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah…” (Ale-Imran 3:110)

Consider the above verse. We are instructed to enjoin good and forbid evil, and this command has been mentioned before the one to “believe in Allah (swt)”. Why? It is because belief in Allah (swt) is not a unique quality of Muslims. A majority believes in God at some level. The Muslim Ummah differs in the sense that it believes in Allah (swt) and it is also concerned about others. A Mumin needs to consider not just one’s individual good deeds like praying and fasting; one needs to take into account one’s contribution towards the betterment of the Ummah. And the most effective way of contributing positively to the Ummah is to enjoin good and forbid evil. First, let’s find out how the prophets did it, and then look at what we can do today.

How did the prophets do it?

  • Story of Prophet Yusuf (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was a victim of his brothers’ evil plotting, when he was a young boy. We all know how he was thrown into a well, rescued by a caravan and sold as a slave in Egypt. We recall how he was placed in jail. We’ve read this story many times. Now, consider what happens when the king’s messenger comes to fetch him out of prison. What did he say to him? The Quran mentions:

“And the king said: ‘Bring him to me.’ But when the messenger came to him, [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Return to your lord and ask him, ‘What happened to the women who cut their hands? Surely, my Lord (Allah) is Well-Aware of their plot.’’” (Yusuf 12:50)

Prophet Yusuf (as) first asked about the women, who had wronged him. He cleared his name at the first opportunity he got. Thereafter, he asked to be made the state treasurer or finance minister.

“…Then, when he spoke to him, he said: ‘Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.’ [Yusuf (Joseph)] said: ‘Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge’ (as a minister of finance in Egypt, in place of Al-Aziz who was dead at that time).” (Yusuf 12:54-55)

Once he was given this position, he created a system, whereby the country stocked up on good harvest for seven years and then, when they were hit by a drought for the next seven, people from other countries came to them for rations. The system created by Prophet Yusuf (as) is a good example of civic engagement. Now, ask yourself: how active are you in your community?

  • Story of Prophet Musa (as)

Prophet Musa (as) was a strong leader, who dared to ask Allah (swt) that he wanted to see Him. He brought a major change to Bani Israel, using two of his major strengths: powerful connections (he had grown up in the house of the Pharaoh) and physical strength. If Allah (swt) has blessed you with some positive quality, like intelligence or high IQ, consider it to be an Amanah from Allah (swt) and use it wisely.

  • Story of Prophet Ibrahim (as)

Prophet Ibrahim (as) questioned the age-old traditions of his family and community. He refused to accept them without any rationale. Unfortunately, Muslims today do the exact opposite. They follow their traditions and customs blindly, without thinking. Prophet Ibrahim (as) was very vocal about his beliefs. He recognized Allah (swt) and invited people to the best religion. Later, he broke their idols and was thrown into the fire by his own people. When Jibreel (as) came to ask him if there was anything he could do for him, Ibrahim (as) replied that he needed everything from Allah (swt) only. It was Ibrahim’s (as) faith that caused the laws of physics to change. Allah (swt) commanded the fire to cool down and protect Ibrahim (as). Subhan’Allah! What makes us think today that Allah (swt) will not protect us? Insha’Allah, He will, as long as He is on our side.

What can we do?                    

Positive change was the aim and message of every prophet. It is a fact that people are afraid of change. They are scared of others judging them, hurting them or taking advantage of them, if they try to do anything that is different. Yet the prophets worked around this challenge and invited people to Islam.

Today, when we get together as a community, we usually focus on the negative practices of others. We remain engrossed in the wrongs that others are doing. We never talk about the positive factors or how we can change the negative into the positive.

Here are some initial steps we can take to transform this trend:

  1. Take an initiative. Don’t remain passive; don’t feel you ‘cannot do anything’. Focus on ideas to serve your community.
  2. Think of micro problems around you that you can solve. For now, don’t dwell on macro problems, resolving which is not within your capacity.
  3. Remember you cannot force change. Guidance comes from Allah (swt), and if you coerce people, they will reject change.
  4. Be a role model. Start your day with Fajr Salah and the Sunnah supplications of the morning. Eat and drink the Sunnah way.
  5. Your children are tomorrow’s generation. Rise up to parenting challenges and raise them to be productive members of the community.
  6. Be careful about places that the community uses. Stop looking for shortcuts. In the Masajid, we see shoes scattered everywhere, while the racks for shoes are empty. Many people are careless about using public washrooms. This only reflects our way of thinking.
  7. Apply the principle of Al-Hubb or loving one another. The Prophet (sa) explicitly mentioned that those, who are not merciful to the poor, are not one of us. True believers are those, who love for others what they love for themselves. We can’t sit and watch our Muslim brothers and sisters suffer all over the Ummah. Supplicate for them. Help financially, if you can.
  8. Never put down a brother or sister in Islam. Don’t think of anyone as beneath you.
  9. Exchange gifts. Do this with a sincere intention. Don’t consider it to be a social obligation.

Today, the Muslim community faces many diverse issues. Work on developing micro solutions to solve the problems. May Allah (swt) enable us to reach our end with Khayr. Ameen.

Adapted from a lectureshop organized by “LiveDeen”. Transcribed for Hiba by Umm Ibrahim.


Tackling Teenagehood


Raising teenagers is a herculean task. Raising teenagers in the West is even more wrought with obstacles. Or so I thought, until I realized that I was approaching my duty with a wrong frame of mind. I read the following. It is a letter written by Ali (rtam) to his son. It exemplified my feelings and set me thinking about approaching parenting from a different angle. Ali (rtam) wrote:

“I found you a part of myself; rather, I found you my whole, so much that if anything befell you, it was as though it befell me, and if death came to you, it was as though it came to me. Consequently, your affairs meant to me as my own matters would mean to me. So I have written this piece of advice as an instrument of help…

Certainly, the heart of a young man is like an uncultivated land. It accepts whatever is strewn on it. So I hastened to mold you properly, before your heart hardens up and your mind gets occupied…”

My task was clear. This is what I need to do:

  1. What I should not do. I wasn’t supposed to stop my son from logging into Facebook, or from tweeting all afternoon, or from asking silly questions that made no sense. My actual task was to instill in him three things. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The best gift to children from parents is their correct training.” (Tirmidhi) Once these things became second nature, he would monitor himself, and my job would be done. We all forget that when we ourselves were teenagers, we used to have an insufferable attitude: “I can do whatever I want, because I’m an adult.”
  1. The meaning of Abd-Allah should be clear to your teenager. “The most beloved of your names to Allah are ‘Abd-Allah and ‘Abdur-Rahman.” (Muslim) Iman is a wavering thing. Sometimes it is strong, while at other times it becomes weak. Do not be hard on your teenager; he will follow his peer group, which does not mean he is ‘bad’. It only means that he needs a direction. Give him an alternate. Make him think it is his choice.

I met a young high school girl at the Masjid. She always dressed decently and wore Hijab. It’s been a year since we met, and I have never seen her in skinny jeans, t-shirts or tight revealing clothes. I asked her what her parents did that made her so confident. She said they gave me a choice: either I practice Hijab correctly or I don’t do it at all. “What if you had chosen not to wear Hijab?” I asked. “Actually, I knew that Allah (swt) commands women to cover their beauty, so the choice was obeying Allah (swt) or disobeying Him.” I was stunned… so simple. Conclusion: instill in your teenager the love of Allah (swt), His Prophets (as) and His Taqwa. Your child will choose the correct path by himself.

  1. Teach your child the Quran. You would say that every parent does it. What’s so great about this piece of advice? Actually, teach your child the Quran, in terms of the stories and what they signify: the commandments, the recitation and memorization, the meaning and depth of the message, and the philosophy. This will elevate your child’s intellect. He will no longer accept anything at face value, unless he double checks and verifies it against the Quran and the Sunnah. It will inculcate in him Islamic morals, values and manners. Most importantly, your child will look beyond his daily routine and ponder over the reason for his existence, his real aim in life.
  1. Just don’t talk the talk, but walk the walk. The single most important factor is you as a role model. If you lie, your child will know it is acceptable. If you indulge in questionable behaviour, your child will find the door open. One day, my daughter started yelling at her younger sister for not wiping the toilet sink clean after herself. I asked her to calm down. She looked at me and said: “But Mama, you always use that tone.” I was taken aback! Now, we, as a family, have decided to get rid of our habit of yelling at each other. Accept your vices, as we are not perfect, and work on them with your kids. They will learn that life is about continuous striving to please Allah (swt).
  1. Pray for your children. Always, everywhere and in everything they do. We can only guide. Allah (swt) is the One, Who will accept their struggle.

What’s Wrong with These Men?


Men on Vacations

You are on your dream getaway to the end of the Earth. Hand in hand with your husband, you board the plane and land on Kankoon islands. Once on the beach, you swing in a hammock, rocking gently. The palm trees above sway in the breeze. The calm blue ocean stretches before you as far as the sight can gaze. The warm white sand beneath nestles wondrous shells. You can feel a smile on your face, as you quietly hear the sounds of the waves rolling on to the shore. Such serenity, such tranquility, such peace! Ah! Just the time and place for romance.

And, suddenly, you hear a snort, a snore and a growl. As you flip around, your better half is fast asleep with his mouth wide open. The romance that was to ensue is obviously not going to take place. Frustrated and frowning, you wonder how anyone can bother to kill time sleeping in this paradise? After spending millions and travelling for miles away from the crazy mayhem at home, he chooses to doze off, instead of romancing me? Guess what? You shot in your own foot and gave him no other choice.

In order to understand a man’s behaviour, one needs to step into his world. For most of them, in the 8 to 10 hours that they spend at work, regardless of their profession, the day is filled with action and challenges. Planning, executing, leading, deciding, meeting, multi-tasking, directing and taking orders – this is usually a man’s day at work. This is a demand that he needs to meet every day. In our modern day and age, because of an over-competitive culture, less people are hired to tackle more work. Hence, this man generally has to take care of demands that require him to stretch his coping ability. If he succeeds, he feels pleasure and elation and a good type of stress called eustress. But if his coping ability fails to meet the demands, he feels low and disappointed, which gives him negative stress called distress.

Now, when such individuals are exposed to a non-challenging environment, where their perceived coping abilities outweigh the perceived demand created, boredom and frustration occurs. For such active individuals, it is best to opt for more adventurous holidays, such as trekking, bungee jumping, scuba diving, sky diving, driving into wilderness, camping or rafting. Chances are that such engaging vacations will thrill them. You will catch them smiling often and cracking jokes, as they feel decisive, confident, understanding and euphoric. This state depicts eustress: the good stress, under which you perform your very best. This is when the chemical messenger/hormone noradrenaline increases. Physically, one can feel goose bumps rise. Pupils dilate, hearing is acute, palms and feet become sweaty and a feeling of excitement engulfs without anger and hostility.

Thus, no matter how much you love the calm of coconut beaches, that’s not the place for your romantic retreat.

Even at home, Sundays for many families are miserable. Wives bitterly complain that their husbands either choose to plant themselves before a machine (laptop, television, etc.) or snooze every now and then. The best way to get them to their feet is to excite them with some action that challenges their perceived coping abilities. It could be building something, playing sport or cooking barbeque outdoors, in other words, anything that requires alertness, thinking and decision making. Otherwise, if you leave them lounging about at home, you will find them curled in a corner sleeping away most definitely, as they are bored out of their mind and find little to sink in their teeth into.

Men after Retirement

Now that you have an understanding of how a man’s work life generally is, you can very well imagine how he feels when he is given a golden handshake, retires or is asked to leave. Most men suffer from multiple disorders and serious health conditions after their retirement and not during their active work tenure. Why? They undergo strokes, heart attacks and other such fatal illnesses, when they are resting in peace at home, not while they were active in service. It’s because it is distressful for them to be of no use to anyone, while they most probably still could have been. They have enjoyed their moments in the limelight, raked in many badges of honour and have been the best workers on force like the salt of the Earth. For this reason, we often hear several embellished versions of their active employment days long after they have retired.

When this man is sent home after years of meeting challenges, his perceived coping abilities are still high but the perceived demand is very low. He is expected to rest, sleep, play with his grandchildren or read books, when he still could have been doing far more. It is a world they have a hard time being part of. We often hear our mothers and mothers-in-law complaining about our fathers and fathers-in-law that they have transformed into grumpy old goats and throw volcanic temper tantrums.

In Islam, there is no logic of retirement. Our beloved Prophet (sa) died at the age of 63 years and was working until then. The concept of retirement is the capitalist society’s need to replace old ideas with new ones, less vigour with more and old with new, in order to serve their demands. And, as a lollipop, they hand over some package or finances to console their lifelong servant, who has given the best of his years and ability to them. In reality, these corporations have made far more profits, while this man was employed with them, than what they offer him at the end of his service. They still get the better deal.

Hence, a Muslim man should keep this in view and gradually taper off, rather than sit at home and wait for death to catch him in his rocking chair. His family should facilitate this important transition and find value in his remaining energy, experiences and capabilities. Otherwise, the person, who experiences depression and loss of control, also produces large amount of cortisol: a chemical messenger/hormone that suppresses the immune system, if it exceeds its normal range. Prolonged effects of cortisol can lead to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, chronic anxiety and depression.

The crux of it all is that every believer has to engage in activities that offer him situations to control and excel at. In cases of retired men, learning new technology could be interesting. Offering consultancy based on their experiences could be another area to explore. Offering services to philanthropic organizations free of charge or at nominal cost can be very motivating and gratifying.

Women play a very significant role in this. Get the men moving, when they find themselves redundant and useless. But refrain from nagging or overdoing it, as it may backfire. Hikmah (wisdom), pure Neeyah (intention) to help them and Dua (prayer) are very important. They all need situations worth exploring, glimmering with excitement, taking chances and making mistakes just like children do.

Infusing the Personality of the Prophet (sa) into Your Children


A myriad of challenges surround parents in the contemporary world, not to mention a number of surrogate parents that have taken over in the form of cell phones, television, ipads and other gadgets and gizmos. At times, parents inclined towards the Deen wonder how to infuse the personality of Prophet Muhammad (sa) into their children. After all, Allah (swt) has mentioned: “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (Al-Qalam 68:4)

There are basically two types of personalities: type A and type B. Others fall somewhere in between. Mostly, the personalities of both parents determine which personality type becomes characteristic of the child.

Type A parents

  • They express anger and irritation, whenever they have to stand in a queue for more than 15 minutes.
  • It’s hard for them to find time to relax or let themselves go during the day.
  • They express irritation or annoyance, when someone speaks too slowly.
  • They work better under pressure or when meeting deadlines.
  • They take charge of a group, in order to get things moving.
  • They do things quickly, even if they have ample time.
  • They interrupt what people are saying, if they think they are wrong.
  • They are picky and note minute details.
  • They get annoyed at those who don’t work as hard as they do.
  • They interrupt others’ conversation in order to speed things up.

Type A children

  • They are achievers.
  • They try hard to win at sports or games, plus be good in academics, too.
  • When they lose a game or do not stand first in class, they get angry at themselves or others.
  • They get bored easily.
  • They find there aren’t enough things to do during the day.

Type A parents raise type A children. Because these parents are intensely competitive and achievement-oriented, they drive their kids to be the same. These parents are aggressive, driven and impatient. They have a distorted sense of time urgency. Everything is urgent and cannot be postponed. They move rapidly and frequently. They talk fast and listen impatiently. Hence, their children learn this behaviour from them. They become achievers in all areas, but they end up damaging their health and relationships with others.

Now, let’s analyze type B.

Type B parents

  • They are patient and adapt to trying circumstances.
  • They have a routine that suits them and allows them to relax.
  • They do not rush: either their conversations or their tasks. They take things slowly.
  • They do not interrupt what people are saying, if they think they are wrong.
  • They do not pick at every minute detail.
  • They are not intensely competitive.
  • They do not have any sense of time urgency.

Type B children

  • They are not ‘achievers’ in the sense that they will not stand first in class or win every game, but they foster quality relationships and enjoy better health.
  • They do not get bored.
  • They are relaxed and unhurried.
  • They are non-aggressive and non-competitive.

Now, the question is, how do we reconcile the two types, in order to ensure that the personality of our children resembles at least to some degree that of the Prophet (sa)? One way to do that is to have baseline type B with some characteristics of type A. For instance, kids are encouraged to do their best and leave the rest to Allah (swt). A complete inclination towards type B would mean that parents do not encourage their child to make the extra effort, and since the child is non-competitive, he or she does not have the urge to push himself or herself forward. However, while the parents encourage and motivate, they also clarify that failure is to find out one more way that will not work. Hence, there is no room for the child to be lazy and lethargic; instead, the child becomes proactive with a sense that he or she will not always succeed in what he or she is doing.

Baseline type B with type A characteristics also means having a strong sense of direction. For such individuals and their children, success would not result from speed or trying to cram in as many tasks as possible in the shortest possible time. It would come from being focused, prioritizing the tasks and then performing them in accordance with their urgency.

Here are some incidents from the life of the Prophet (sa) to illustrate how his personality was the right blend of type B with type A, as the situation demanded.

Aisha (rtaf) has narrated: “The Prophet (sa) took a child in his lap for Tahnik (i.e., he chewed a date in his mouth and put its juice in the mouth of the child). The child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine.” (Bukhari) Note the reaction of the Prophet (sa). He did not rebuke the child or his parents. He did not get angry or irritated. He simply washed off the urine.

On the other hand, he did get angry, when the commands of Allah (swt) were disobeyed. Consider the following incidents. It was narrated from Abdullah bin Amr (rtam) that he came to the Prophet (sa), wearing two garments dyed with safflower. The Prophet (sa) got angry and said: “Go and take them off.” He said: “Where should I throw them, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “In the fire.” (An-Nasai)

Narrated Ali bin Abi Talib (rtam): “The Prophet (sa) gave me a silk suit. I went out wearing it, but seeing the signs of anger on his face, I tore it and distributed it among my women-folk.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) got angry in the aforementioned two hadiths because the colour and the fabric used are meant to be the fashions of the disbelieving men. However, they are permitted for Muslim women.

To infuse children with the personality of the Prophet (sa), it is imperative for the parents to do the following:

  • Self-analyze and keep correcting your own behaviour. If you are success-oriented, you cannot blame your child, if he or she is one. If you react negatively upon every negative behaviour, accept that your child will do the same.
  • Choose carefully what to react strongly on. You cannot pick a battle with a child every time he or she does something you deem unacceptable.
  • Teach them to be true achievers in the hereafter as obtaining Jannah is the greatest success. In this world, you win some, you lose some. There is no need to grieve over the past or be anxious about the future in this temporary world.
  • If you feel you have already instilled the win-all personality in your child, it might be a good idea to let them play games with younger siblings and encourage them to let the little ones win at times. This would be a good time to demonstrate how to accept others’ victory with good grace.
  • Teach your kids the fact that when they lose or fail at something in spite of their best effort, it is Allah’s (swt) Qadr (decree) at work. Give them an example of Sulah-e-Hudaibiya that apparently was a loss but was termed as Fatah-e-Mubeen (victory).

So what type of a child are you raising?

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms (Final Part)


26) Turn the attention of the questioner towards a more important issue.

Sometime it is better to turn the attention of the questioner to a more important issue. Once a person asked the Messenger (sa) when the Day of Judgement would come. Instead of replying, the Prophet (sa) asked him: “What have you prepared for it?” The man said that he hadn’t done much in terms of praying, fasting and charity, but he did love Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa). The Messenger (sa) said: “You will be with whom you love.” (Bukhari)

The question that the person asked was out of genuine curiosity, but the answer was neither revealed to the Messenger (sa), nor did he consider his preparation for it. So he turned the attention of the questioner towards a more important and pressing issue, i.e., his deeds.

If the teacher doesn’t know the answer to a question, or thinks there are other more important things to be taught, s/he should not snub the student but rather divert him/her to what s/he thinks needs to be learnt first.

27) It doesn’t matter, if you are a bit inconvenienced.

A Bedouin approached the Messenger (sa), while the latter was on a journey. The person took hold of the reins of the Prophet’s (sa) camel and then said: “O Messenger of Allah! Inform me of what will draw me closer to paradise and take me away from (hell) fire.” The Prophet (sa) said: “He has certainly been blessed or guided.” The Messenger (sa) then addressed the person saying: “What did you say?” The person then repeated his question. The Messenger (sa) replied: “You should worship Allah (swt) and not ascribe any partners to Him. You should establish Salah, give Zakah and maintain good relationships with your kith and kin. You may now leave my camel.” (An-Nasai)

Note: Even if you are in a hurry, give attention to the seekers of knowledge. A little inconvenience for the teacher may result in a huge benefit for the student.

28) Don’t criticize directly.

Many a time, the Prophet (sa) would observe a person committing a wrong deed. He would immediately take action, but not necessarily point out the wrongdoer. He would stand and address the people saying that ‘some people do so and so’, so that the individual would not be embarrassed before everyone.

Not only does this method protect a student’s self-esteem, it also teaches others about the incorrect action. At the same time, it strengthens the bond between the teacher and the student.

29) Use humour.

A person asked the Prophet (sa) to give him a camel, so that he may carry his goods on it. So the Messenger (sa) said to him: “I will give you the offspring of a she-camel.” The man said: “O Messenger (sa)! What can I do with the offspring of a she-camel?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “Is it not so that camels only give birth to camels?” (Abu Dawood)

The Messenger (sa) used to joke and jest with his companions on certain occasions. However, he spoke nothing but the truth. His humor did not hurt, offend or insult anyone. The companions asked him: “O Messenger (sa)! You joke with us?” He replied: “I speak nothing but the truth.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) used to teach many things through joking and humour. In the above Hadeeth, he teaches analytical thinking and deduction, at the same time lightening the atmosphere of the assembly. A classroom tends to get stuffy at times. A light hearted joke or anecdote blows away the clouds of stiffness and perks up the atmosphere.

30) Show interest in children’s hobbies.

Abu Umayr (rtam) was a young boy who had a pet bird. The Messenger (sa) was aware of this fact. One day, the bird died. When the Prophet (sa) came to visit them, he saw that Abu Umayr was sad. So he asked: “What has happened to him?” The people of the house said: “His bird has died.” The Prophet (sa) said to him: “O Abu Umayr! What has happened to the Nughayr (small bird)?” (Abu Dawood)

This shows the Messenger’s (sa) affection and compassion for the young child, whose bird had died, leaving him heartbroken. Upon seeing the sad look on the child’s face, the Prophet (sa) immediately enquired about the matter and consoled him with words of comfort. I would like to add here that the Messenger (sa) was an exceptionally busy man, assigned the greatest and most difficult task in the history of mankind – yet, he was not too busy to inquire about the happiness of a small child. Such acts develop a strong bond between the teacher and his students, one that is pivotal in successful learning.

31) Be open to suggestions.

When the companions reached the battlefield of Badr with the Messenger (sa), he chose a certain position for pitching the tents of the army. One of the companions, Hubab bin Munzir (rtam), who was a seasoned war strategist, approached him and said: “Has this place been chosen by Allah (swt) or is it your own decision?” The Prophet (sa) replied that it wasn’t a revelation from Allah (swt); rather, he had chosen it by himself. Hubab (rtam) then requested him to consider his decision, because there was another spot at a better location for the battle. The Messenger (sa) readily accepted this proposal and changed the location of the base camp.

If the Messenger (sa) is open to suggestions at all times, the teacher too should feel happy to have students who are able to reflect and suggest ideas to him. This does not make the teacher bound to ‘obey’ a suggestion , but s/he is bound to allow students to make them.

32) Leniency in punishments.

The Messenger (sa) said: “Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) himself disliked awarding a physical punishment to people and encouraged mildness in all matters. The way of the Messengers (sa) was one of love and affection. Those around him obeyed him, because they loved him and feared his disobedience, because they knew their sins upset him, not because they would be beaten.

The anger of the teacher should be feared, because it might banish someone from his/her good books, not because of corporal punishment.

Anas bin Malik (rtam) narrates: “I served the Prophet (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me, ‘Uff’ (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, ‘Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so?’” (Bukhari)

The Messenger (sa) did not, however, ban physical punishment. He said: “Teach the child to pray, when he is seven years old, and smack him, if he does not pray, when he is ten.”

Firstly, keep in mind that a Muslim child ought to see his parents and those around him involved in prayer from the time s/he is born. Growing up in such a household would automatically result in him/her engaging in Salah from a very young age. The Messenger (sa) has asked us to encourage a child to offer Salah regularly at the age of seven and to ensure that s/he does so by the age of ten. This means that the next three years should be spent teaching and training him. And when all this fails, then he has suggested physical punishment. There are certain things to be noted. A ten-year-old child, having spent his/her entire life watching people offer Salah, would not abstain from it. In case s/he does so, there might be some special reason behind it, which must be attended to. And before someone starts beating up their children, remember that the Messenger (sa) forbade striking anyone on the face, hitting so hard as to leave a mark on the body and beating excessively. Also, remember the purpose of physical punishment is not to injure a child but to scare him/her from an evil deed, nor should the punishment serve as a vent of frustration, when the teacher fails in his/her own duty.

A piece of advice: do not use your hands to inflict a blow; whenever your hands reach out to the child, it should always be for affection. Also remember that the fear of physical punishment should be used more often than the punishment itself. Another thing is that physical punishment does not necessarily have to be hitting, but it could also be strenuous exercise or banishment from an enjoyable task.

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (

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Fiqh of Tawbah


The Prophet (sa) used to ask Allah (swt) for forgiveness more than 70 times a day. (Bukhari) Should we not be concerned about asking for forgiveness 70 times more than that?

The term ‘Tawbah’ is defined in two ways. In the linguistic sense, Tawbah is derived from the Arabic root word ‘Taba Yatutbu’, which literally means to ‘return to something’. Sinning is not a part of human beings’ natural disposition. Hence, when we sin we fall out of our Fitrah, we repent we return to our Fitrah. In the conventional sense, Tawbah is defined by Hafiz Ibn Hajar as leaving a sin due to its ugly nature, feeling remorseful over indulging in a sin, resolving to never repeat a sin and returning the rights of the people, if it was involved in a sin.

Elements of Tawbah

For repentance to be accepted, it needs the following important elements.

  1. Sincerity of Intention

We repent to Allah (swt) because we fear Him. It is not because of people or any other reason. Allah says: “…invoke Him…with the intention that you are doing your deeds for Allah’s sake only…” (Al-Araf 7:29)

  1. Feeling remorseful

The Prophet (sa) said that remorse is repentance (Ibn Majah).

  1. Resolve to stay away from sins

If this determination is lacking, it can nullify the Tawbah itself. However, if one returns to the sin, it doesn’t nullify the repentance as long as this resolve is intact. For one to stay determined on one’s Tawbah, one should keep doing good deeds, stay away from the places and sources of sins, adopt good companionship, engage in Dhikr and be prepared for death.

  1. Return the rights

Return the rights to Allah (swt) (if it’s Allah’s (swt) right that is taken away) and/or to people (if it’s people’s tangible or intangible right that is taken away).

  1. Repent before it’s too late

Tawbah is accepted only if offered before the prescribed time. This time for an individual is when one sees one’s death approach him or her. Hence, it’s the time before the soul leaves the body or reaches the throat. As we see in the example of Firaun, the time he made repentance was not accepted as he had already seen his death approach him.

Collectively, the time of Tawbah will expire when the sun will rise from the west instead of the east, which is one of the biggest sign of the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

Virtues of Tawbah

There are many benefits to achieve by doing Tawbah. Following are some of them:

  1. Attaining love of Allah (swt)

Allah (swt) says: “…Truly, Allah loves those who turn unto Him in repentance…” (Al-Baqarah 2:222) Those who are loved by Allah (swt) will receive guidance, Allah’s protection and safety from hellfire.

  1. Success

Allah (swt) says: “…And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur 24:31) This can also refer to worldly success, in terms of giving up sins, purifying our habits, etc.

  1. Acceptance of good deeds

Allah (swt) says: “And whosoever repents and does righteous good deeds, then verily, he repents towards Allah with true repentance.” (Al-Furqan 25:71)

  1. Forgiveness and Allah’s (swt) Mercy

Allah (swt) says: “But those who committed evil deeds and then repented afterwards and believed, verily, your Lord after (all) that is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Araf 7:153) The mercy of Allah (swt) expands to such an extent that evil deeds change into good deeds for the one who does Tawbah. (Al-Furqan 25:70)

  1. Blessings in this world and hereafter

Blessings in this world may include, rain, children, spouses, rivers, gardens and wealth that is not necessarily in huge sums but will benefit more and go a long way. (Nuh 71:10-12) Likewise, the blessings of hereafter includes pardon, paradise, safety from disgrace, being with the Prophet (sa) and having our light perfected. (At-Tahrim 66:8)

  1. Receiving the supplications of the angels

Allah (swt) says: “Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): ‘Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!’” (Ghafir 40:7)

  1. Obeying the will of Allah (swt) and pleasing Him

Allah (swt) says: “Allah wishes to accept your repentance…” (An-Nisa 4:27) Allah (swt) becomes happy with the repentance of His slave such that He erases sins completely as stated by Prophet (sa) that a sinner who repents is like the one who has not committed the sin. (Ibn Majah)

Errors in making Tawbah

There are certain mistakes that people make in Tawbah, of which one needs to be careful:

  1. Not repenting at all: This is a characteristic of Shaytan; Allah (swt) commands us to not follow the footsteps of Shaytan, as indeed he is our plain enemy.
  2. Delaying Tawbah: One thinks that when they will get to a certain point in life or a specific age, then they will repent. However, we do not know when our death is written for us. What if tomorrow never comes?
  3. Not giving Tawbah its due importance: This means to be heedlessness towards Tawbah or forget to repent because it is not important for one anymore.
  4. Heedlessness of sins: One performs good deeds but is not careful about leaving sins.
  5. Fear of returning to sins: Some people think they are too weak to give up certain sins. Hence, out of fear of returning to that sin again, they do not repent. However, repentance will be the cause of increase in strength, Insha’Allah!
  6. Leaving Tawbah out of fear of what people will say: We live in a society where many of us are people pleasers. However, a Mumin or a Muslim is Allah’s (swt) pleaser first and foremost. Moreover, pleasing people is a goal that will never be achieved. If we live to please Allah (wwt), Allah and his people will be pleased with us, Insha’Allah!
  7. The argument of Qadr (predestination): We often hear people saying: “If Allah wants me to pray, he will make me start praying.” However, to understand Qadr, we need to see the two types of will. The first type is existential will that is only in Allah’s (swt) control, for example, our birth and our death. We have no control over them. The second type is legislative will, which consists of commands and prohibitions. In this, we have a choice or free will for which we will be judged upon by Allah on the Day of Judgement. Tawbah falls in the second category.
  8. Despair of Allah’s (swt) mercy: This happens because we forget that the doors to Tawbah are always open His slaves, as Allah mentions: “…Despair not of the Mercy of Allah, verily Allah forgives all sins…’” (Az-Zumar 39:53) Moreover, Allah mentions at different places in the Quran that even a hypocrite has a chance to repent (An-Nisa 4:145-146); even a disbeliever has a chance to repent (Al-Maidah 5:73-74); even an oppressor has a chance to repent (Al-Buruj 85:10).

There are various signs of an accepted Tawbah in this world and in the hereafter. In this world, the sign is that the person, who did Tawbah, is guided to do good deeds. He or she becomes a caller to Tawbah and has an ultimate good ending. Additionally, the sign of an accepted Tawbah in the hereafter is easy reckoning of deeds by Allah (swt) and attainment of paradise.

We have amongst us a prime example of the one who repented and the one who didn’t repent, along with their ultimate ends. When Adam (as) disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for forgiveness. However, when Iblees disobeyed Allah (swt) he asked for respite and an extension of life until the end of time to lead the children of Adam (as) astray. Allah (swt) answered both requests. Hence, it is Tawbah that determines one’s ultimate end in the hereafter: paradise or hellfire!

Adapted from a workshop organized by Azan in Karachi. Summarized for Hiba Magazine by Nageen Pervez, team member, Azan.

Heart-to-Heart on the Highway


Every morning, you can see children gaping vacuously at the passing landscape, as they travel to school. One wonders if this routine interval can be transformed into a healthy and productive period.  Following is a list of five noteworthy areas for conversation, which can be talked about along the way.

  1. The signs of Allah (swt). Contemplation, in reality, is a habit that parents can help form in their children. A scurrying squirrel, changing weathers and the beautiful symmetry of nature are all prompts for initiating insightful discussions about the Creator and His attributes. This observation, as mentioned in Quran, is a quality of true believers and develops profound love and awe for our Creator. Parents or teachers can also point to the attributes of Allah (swt), as they are being reflected in the surroundings, for example, a close encounter with an accident reminds of the attribute Al-Muhaymin (The Protector and The Overseer).
  2. Bounties and blessings. Point to the crumbling slums, beggars looking cravingly at food and little children rummaging in the garbage and have kids count the blessings that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon them. Make them notice those less privileged and teach them to be grateful for all that they have. Important structures and landmarks can be observed, too. Ask them who is the Creator of these edifices? Is it the architect or Allah (swt)? Isn’t it true that intelligence and ideas are all blessings from our Lord (swt), the Ultimate and Flawless Creator? He inspires people to build; they, in turn, invent and create things.
  3. School and family. This may be an apt time to listen to your child without interfering, or disrespecting his/her thoughts. Suspend your own judgement. Let him/her talk. Observe intently his thoughts and beliefs. Reviewing the times tables, solving problems concerning friends and teachers and discussing ideal school behaviour can also be done while driving to school. Sibling rivalries and other school and family related issues can be spoken about as well.
  4. History and current affairs. A severed nation is cut off from its past. Our curriculum does not do justice to Islamic history and even history in general. Hence, parents must supplement children in this field. Use these valuable minutes to revise concise lessons from history through audio lectures or passages from books. Discuss the glorious past of the Muslims and ponder over the current affairs; think about how to gain what we have lost. Go over the daily news, the situation of our country and Ummah, and talk about how they can contribute. Remember, kids will think and talk big, if they’re taught how to, by actively engaging them.
  5. Memorizing. Many a children have memorized portions from the Quran that were played in their cars. When not in a mood to chatter, put on recordings of short Quranic Surahs, Duas and Azkar (words of remembrance), and automatically they’ll be transmitted to the tongues of your young ones. Even if they don’t reproduce, it is all going in and settling in their minds. If practiced daily, no doubt, children and even parents will have memorized large portions of the Quran by the time they’re out of school!

Don’t undervalue the importance of time. Take advantage of every minute that you have to raise the leaders that you are entrusted with.

When Stimulants Become Stressors…


What’s the first thing we do after waking up in the morning?  Besides going to the washroom, we try to freshen ourselves with a rejuvenating cup of tea or coffee and in some cases, light up a cigarette, too. Have we ever pondered over why we need such stimulants?

Stimulants are used to elevate mood and enhance self-confidence. They produce alertness, decrease fatigue and prolong physical work. All stimulants increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. The body temperature is elevated by the effect caused by increased muscle activity and constricted blood vessels. Many people consider only hardcore drugs to be stimulants, while actually the classification of stimulants includes caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and cocaine.

To every upside, there’s a downside. Stimulants provide your body with a false and unpredictable high. However, the energy boost associated with intaking any of these stimulants is short-lived. This boomerang effect of going up and down only contributes more to anxiety, depression and stress.


The main stimulant in our lives is caffeine, which is found in tea, coffee, chocolates and even carbonated beverages. It acts as a stimulant to the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which initiates the fight/flight response, causing the adrenal glands to release more stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the bloodstream; these levels are already too high due to the stress we experience, and caffeine exacerbates them even more.

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world today; yet, our body has absolutely no requirement for it. Professor James Lane (Duke University Medical Center) carried out research on 72 people, who regularly drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day. The data from this study revealed that this level of coffee consumption produced a 32% rise in levels of the stress hormone adrenaline and a 14% rise in the levels of the stress hormone noradrenaline. Professor Lane’s research also revealed that caffeine in 4-5 cups of coffee elevated the blood pressure, which increases the risk of stroke by 34% and the chance of heart attack by 21%.


Nicotine, another common stimulant used in our society, is claimed to give relief and feeling of freedom within an individual. However, nicotine has been linked to stress. The relation between nicotine and stress is very much like that between the chicken and the egg – which one comes first? Does stress cause people to smoke? Or maybe the nicotine in tobacco causes people to feel stressed? The answers might surprise you.

It’s all part of a trick nicotine is playing on our bodies, and it starts with nicotine addiction. While many people may feel they are using tobacco as a way to relax or de-stress, nicotine actually causes the opposite effect. Studies have found that nicotine intensifies stress. Feelings of calmness or pleasure during tobacco use are really just momentary reliefs from the unpleasant effects that come along with nicotine cravings (including stress). Those feelings of stress and anxiety will return once the nicotine leaves the body system, and the cycle begins again.

Staying Away from Stimulants

  1. Withdrawing Daily Stimulants

The body that we possess is an Amanah of Allah (swt) and we will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement, as to how we treated this Amanah. Therefore, it is our responsibility to keep ourselves healthy and focus on natural elements, rather than becoming dependent on unnecessary stimulants. Ibn Umar (rtam) reported Allah’s Messenger (sa) saying: “Every intoxicant is Khamr, and every intoxicant is forbidden. He, who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the hereafter.” (Muslim)

One might argue that stimulants are not intoxicants. However, they certainly are co-related and a leading cause of deteriorating health and untimely death. What can be more fatal?

  1. Give an Alternative to Your Body – Fruit Teas

It can take up to three days to totally eliminate all stimulants from the body, especially caffeine.  People, who have given up such stimulants, have found that they are less stressed; also, their sleep improves and they have more energy. A common mistake many people make, when withdrawing from stimulants is that they don’t drink any other fluid. It is important to maintain fluid intake.  There are a number of alternatives to caffeine and nicotine, which may include such fruit teas as black currant or apple, such herbal teas as chamomile and peppermint, fruit juices and decaffeinated tea and coffee. Limit your caffeine intake or ideally switch to caffeine free beverages.

It’s important to reduce your caffeine intake slowly, over time and not to stop it all at once, because some people can suffer withdrawal effects and have severe headaches. Reduce by one cup per week and replace it with a decaffeinated version. Do this over time, until you have replaced all your caffeine drinks with non-caffeine tea, coffee, fruit tea, fruit juice, water, etc.

  1. Proper Sleep Management – Relax

A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Unfortunately, stress also interrupts our sleep, as thoughts keep whirling through our heads, stopping us from relaxing enough to fall asleep.

Rather than relying on medication, your aim should be to maximize your relaxation before going to sleep. Make sure that your bedroom is a tranquil oasis with no reminders of the things that cause you stress. Avoid caffeine during the evenings, if you know that this leads to disturbed sleep. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed, so that you give your brain time to calm down. Try taking a warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that worry you. You should also aim to go to bed at roughly the same time every day, so that your mind and body can get used to a predictable bedtime routine. Recite Surah Al-Mulk as per the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah.

  1. Channel Your Stress Effectively – Exercise

Physical exercise can be used as a surrogate to metabolize the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. When you feel stressed and tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, either before or after work, or at lunchtime. Regular physical activity will also improve the quality of your sleep.

  1. Approach the Correct Solution – Pray and Repent

Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated: When a matter would worry the Prophet (sa), he would raise his head up toward the sky and say: “Glory is to Allah, the Magnificent (Subhan Allahil-Adheem).” And when he would strive in supplication, he would say: “O the Living, O Sustainer (Ya Hayyu Ya Qayyum).” (At-Tirmidhi)

In yet another incident, it was narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas (rtam) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Whoever persists in asking for forgiveness, Allah (swt) will grant him relief from every worry and a way out from every hardship, and will grant him provision from (sources) he could never imagine.” This is a clear inspiration for us. Instead of relying on immediate solutions involving worldly stimulants, we should depend upon the ultimate Provider and Sustainer: Allah (swt). Ask Allah (swt) to free you from your stress, and eventually it will give you relief, Insha’Allah.

Some Conditions that can be Exacerbated by Caffeine

  • Stress
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Cystitis
  • Heart burn
  • Diabetes
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Palpitations
  • Glaucoma
  • Menopause
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Bi-polar depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Pre-Menstrual tension
  • Mood swings

Effects of Caffeine on Our Body

  • Increases heart rate
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Depletes vitamin B6
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Speeds up loss of vitamins and minerals
  • Increases blood cholesterol levels