Deal with the Hearts


People’s moods and circumstances fluctuate between sadness and happiness, health and illness, affluence and poverty, and stability and instability. Subsequently, their reactions to the way they are dealt with also change, depending upon their psychological state at the time. A person may appreciate a joke when feeling stable and relaxed, but not when upset. It would thus be very inappropriate to make a joke when visiting someone who is bereaved. The same joke would be acceptable, if related whilst out on a picnic. Hence, one must take into consideration people’s psychological states, emotions and personalities when speaking to or dealing with them.

Suppose two friends pass their secondary school examinations. One of them passes with flying colours, while the other one fails in some subjects and, therefore, does not achieve the grades required for admission in university. Would it be appropriate for the one, who has qualified, to visit his friend and discuss the university that has accepted him and the various opportunities that have opened up? No doubt, we would all say no. What then should he do? He should mention general matters that might lighten his worry. He could complain about the large number of applicants to universities and how many people are not selected, in order to make his friend feel better. Thereafter, his friend would probably not mind sitting with him and remaining his companion.

The same can be said about two young men – one has a generous father who is always showering him with wealth, while the other has a miserly one who hardly meets his needs. It would not be appropriate for the son of the generous father to speak about his generosity and how he loves to spend on him, as this would distress his friend and cause him to remember what he has to undergo due to his father. Subsequently, he would not like to be in his company, as he would feel that he is insensitive.

For this reason, the Prophet (sa) emphasized that people’s psychological conditions and sensitivities should be considered. He said: “Do not stare at a leper.” (Ibn Majah) A leper is not attractive to look at and, hence, it is inappropriate for people to stare at him, because this would remind him of his affliction and hurt him further.

When the Muslim army entered Makkah, Sad ibn Ubadah (rtam) was carrying the banner of one of the battalions. He waved it and said: “Today is the day of slaughter! Today your inviolabilities will be attacked.”

A woman came and complained to the Prophet (sa), requesting him to intervene in order to avoid bloodshed. The Prophet (sa) did not want to anger Sad (rtam) by taking the banner away from him (carrying the banner was considered to be very noble). At the same time, he did not want to disappoint the woman. Thus, he ordered Sad (rtam) to hand over the banner to his son, Qays ibn Sad (rtam). The woman was satisfied that the banner had been taken away from Sad (rtam), while the latter was still the leader of the battalion with his son carrying the banner.

How wonderful it is to kill two birds with one stone. Try not to lose anyone. Try to win everyone over successfully, even if there is a conflict of interest between them.

Adapted (with permission) from “Enjoy Your Life” published by “Darussalam”. Compiled for “Hiba” by Bisma Ishtiaq.

Walking the Talk


Raising good Muslims is a difficult task. Many a times, parents encounter problems while raising their kids to become good Muslims – problems that seem impossible to solve. Following is a valuable piece of advice for those who find raising a Mumin a tough call.

Parents are Allah’s (swt) precious blessing. They love us unconditionally and want the best for us. We only realize the extreme love that our parents have for us, when we become parents ourselves. We then understand that whatever our parents used to do for us was for our own good. Furthermore, we also realize that good parenting is a great responsibility. Parents lay the foundation of a Muslim nation.

Having children is a natural desire ingrained in mankind. The Quran tells us how prophets supplicated for a pious offspring. Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his wife Sarah supplicated to Allah (swt) for a child despite their old age. It is said that Ibrahim (as) was more than 110 years old, when the angel came and told him that he would have a child. His wife was around 95 years of age. Even though they had been praying to Allah (swt) for an offspring for at least 80 years, they were shocked to hear the good news, since they were very old. Similarly, Prophet Zakariyah (as) wanted a child – he had been supplicating to Allah (swt) for over 70 to 80 years. The angel came and blessed him with a child by the name of Yahya.

There are many stories in the Quran about good parenting that we can take lessons from. Analyze how Prophet Ibrahim (as) treated his son Ismail (as) after he saw in a dream that he has to sacrifice him. What does he do? Does he sneak into his teenager son’s room and tie him up quickly to do what was required of him? Does he trick him? No, he engages in a very mature, intellectual conversation. He treats his teenage son like an adult.

This teaches us that if we treat a teenager like an adult, he starts acting like one. On the contrary, when you treat him like a kid, he never grows up. Ibrahim (as) told his son the truth – he trusted him and knew that the way he has raised him, his son will never reject Allah’s (swt) command. Ibrahim (as) then sought his son’s advice. This is how Islam treats a teenager. Islamically speaking, when one reaches the age of 14 or 15, s/he is an adult and is required to be a full practicing Muslim. Unfortunately, our society which emulates the West, considers an individual before 18 years of age to be an immature adolescent. However, Islam teaches us that if a mature, intellectual person is treated like a kid, s/he will act like one, resulting in delayed maturity. The companions of the Prophet (sa) gave their children responsibilities and pushed them to act beyond their years. When they treated them like adults, they began to act like one.

In the Quran, the story of Luqman (as) has a lot of lessons for parents. He taught his son Islam; made sure that he worshipped Allah (swt) Alone; taught him to be respectful to his parents and to be conscious of Allah (swt) wherever he was. He did not beat him over every single action. He instilled in him the overall consciousness that a Mumin has of Allah (swt). He also taught him to be active and fulfill social obligations, command what is good, forbid what is evil and have humility and perfect manners.

Ibn Qayyim, the famous scholar, stated that the greatest reason a person goes astray is that his parents do not take care of him and neglect him. At times, too much love also spoils children. The overly protective and loving parents think they are doing the best for their son or daughter, but in reality they are not. The companions would have their young children, who were only six or seven years old, fast the whole month of Ramadan. How many of us would do that? It is imperative to develop the child’s interest and make him or her fast at the age of eight, nine or ten years.

Furthermore, parents should always instruct their children to perform prayers and recite the Quran. Parents should be firm yet loving. They should not be overly strict; otherwise, the children will retaliate. There are very few families where a father raises a family in an Islamic environment with gentleness. This is the key, because if you are too strict, the youngsters can backlash.

For children, parents are the role models – they try to emulate their actions; hence, if the parents are pious and practicing Muslims, the children will learn to be the same. Even if they go astray for some time, they will eventually mend their ways and become good Muslims, because their parents were always meticulous and practicing Muslims. However, if the parents do not give any importance to Islam, the children will learn to be the same (with a few exceptions). If parents will only give verbal instructions without showing practically what our beautiful religion teaches us, it will not impact their children’s minds. If parents will tell them to be good, but are not good themselves, then they are nothing less than hypocrites. Their children will see through them immediately, and as soon as they leave the nest, they will go astray (if they are not already!).

On the contrary, if parents will walk the talk, practically show their children what Islam teaches us, live up the ideals of Islam and be a good Muslim, their children will have a strong Islamic foundation. Even if they go astray temporarily, they will soon come round and be Mumins.

Parents who do not understand the importance of practical representation and just give verbal instructions to their kids will soon realize that their efforts are in vain. Complaining will be of no use when their kid is 18 years of age. If they have not done anything for the last 18 years, they cannot make a difference now. Their children’s hearts will not nurture that deep understanding and love for Islam, and even if they try to make them follow it, they will fail. Many parents face this problem and later complain that they cannot get their son to be interested in Islam. Why weren’t they interested in Islam when their child was young? Why didn’t they open up the Quran? Why didn’t they fast and pray? Why do they expect their child to do what they didn’t do?

The key to good Islamic upbringing lies in practical application. The simple solution is for the parents to be Muslims. They should be role models for their sons and daughters, and their children will grow up looking at them, appreciating them and imitating them. The way to perfect Islam and to make sure that Islam lives on from generation to generation is to practice it yourselves, so that your children grow up seeing that reality of Islam, practicing it themselves and passing it down to their children.

Transcribed and adapted for “Hiba” by Bushra Naseem.

Kamila: She Dared Where Many Men Hesitated (Part 3)


“Assalam Alaikum, brother Yusuf,” I notice the British accent. “The refugees had told me about you and brother Abbas.”

She was around twenty years of age, with south Indian features and not more than five feet tall; her slight built would not let her look short. She looked simple in a Hijab, someone you would hardly notice on an average day in a Muslim country. In Orebic’, that December afternoon, she was nothing less than a mystery. I was seized by curiosity: “Who is she? What made her come? How did she make it?”

I returned her Salam and sipped on the dark bitter coffee – the only expression of hospitality that life in exile allowed the Bosnians. “I have gathered that you will be visiting the other rest house,” she started out, “I would like to come along, as I have to visit a seriously ill girl there.”

The other camp was less than fifteen miles away. As Zahruddin negotiated the turns on the hilly road, sister Kamila unfolded her story. Her parents had immigrated to England when she was born. After graduation, she had taken a secretarial job in London. Moved by the sufferings of the Bosnians, she had resigned from her work and convinced the leader of a Muslim relief convoy to take her along. Citing the perils of war, they had refused to take her into Bosnia and had dropped her in Orebic’. The convoy was long gone.

The camp had arrived by then. I went off with Zahruddin to distribute supplies. As I walked around, sister Kamila’s account was on my mind. She had spoken passionately, her words brimming with purpose and confidence. It must have taken a lot of courage, and I was moved. I knew many men who had considered this step, only to be overcome by fear. And as I reflected back on the night in the Vienna train station, my own hesitations shamed me as never before.

We visited the girl that Kamila had come to see. She was epileptic and the war had aggravated the condition. She was in her twenties and appeared almost like a skeleton, with an ashen face and sullen gray eyes. I will never forget the eyes: their quietness was so eerie and disturbing that it dominated the whole atmosphere. It was as if she had moved beyond pain. Her seizures had made her fall a number of times, her face showing cuts and bruises. Her old parents sat by her side. She was like a fresh rose suddenly torn off by a violent storm, its life painfully ebbing away.

Kamila hugged and comforted her. “The medicines would be here soon,” Kamila promised, “I will visit you regularly.” Her words held out hope, which the family was desperately looking for. As we left, I caught the parents managing a weak smile.

On the way back, I was worried. Kamila had taken a brave step. What if the going gets tough? There were rumours that the Croatians may force the refugees back into Bosnia. Worst still, they might trade Muslim refugees with the Croats being held by the Serbs. What would Kamila do? Being a Muslim and a foreigner, she could be easily singled out for harassment. Orebic’ was remote; help could be days away. She could stay in Split, which had better living conditions and many Muslim relief organizations. I expressed my fears to her: “We shall be returning tonight. Why don’t you come along? I really think it would be safer in Split.” She smiled: “No, brother Yusuf, I’ll be fine here. My life and death is with the refugees. Allah (swt) is with me.”

We were leaving Orebic’. Like always, some of the refugees had gathered to see us off and among them was Kamila. I caught sight of her and almost panicked. “I just can’t let her take this risk,” I thought to myself: “She is so young and inexperienced.” My earlier fears flooded my mind. I walked up to her: “Sister, please, think again.” I started out, my voice laden with urgency. “We will be leaving in a few moments and you can come. It would be weeks before we return.”

I glanced at the sea. The waves were catching the last rays of the sunset. The wind had picked up, gently tugging the evening for inland. I could taste the salt, mixed with the moisture of the fog. In the distance, large dark clouds loomed. A storm was on its way. That moment of silence almost froze in time only to be interrupted by her voice: “Brother, Yusuf,” she was calm and composed. “I will stay.”

I turned around and waved to the group. The van lurched forward and so did time. In the mirror, I could see the people dispersing. Soon, the view started meshing with the shadows. We were soon out of Orebic’ and ascending the mountains. I took a last look. Lights glimmered then faded. The fog had moved in, wrapping the town in an eerie darkness.

I was deep in thought. Many would question what a young girl could do in such circumstances. The scene of Kamila comforting the epileptic girl drifted into my mind. The last few hours spoke differently. Kamila was a hope that had come to the refugees: a light at the end of the tunnel. It was a statement to the Bosnians that whatever comes, we, the Muslims, are with you. Kamila’s presence was shouting at the refugees: “Good times will come and I want you to believe in it. Why? Because I believe in it. Look… I wouldn’t be here, if I didn’t!”

The courage of this young sister continues to inspire me. For me, and I hope for others, too, Kamila offers a model of courage, self-sacrifice, dedication and above all, the love of this Ummah.

Speeches, talks, protests and even donations can never pay the price of that one hug that Kamila had given to the sick girl. If this Ummah seeks men and women of action, Kamila will always be there among the forerunners: an example, a model, and a beacon.

It was very dark. The stillness of the night was broken by the continuous drone of the diesel engine. Zahruddin was silently concentrating on the road; night driving on those mountain roads was treacherous. It had been a long day and fatigue was setting in. I caught myself shivering. I hastily rolled up the window and dozed off, little knowing that it would be months before I would return to Orebic’; only to find that Kamila was no longer there.

Time flew by. An all-out conflict started between the Muslims and the Bosnian-Croats, and we got more heavily involved with the city of Mostar. In the end of December, 1992, I had to leave for the USA in a bid to raise funds.

On my return, I asked Abbas if he remembered the English sister that I had mentioned to him months ago. “She is fine and still active,” he said. “She was in Orebic’ for a while and finally joined Amin’s organization. Amin met her when he delivered some supplies there after you left.” I knew that through Amin’s organization, she must have been able to do a lot for Orebic’.

Amin was a Sudanese brother who was studying in Bosnia, when the war broke out. Fluent in the local language and familiar with the area, he had taken charge of a Muslim Relief Organization. His dedication and hard work had made him an asset for the Muslims.

“But didn’t Amin have a problem with Kamila not having a Mahram (a male relative)?” I asked. Some people had commented that Kamila, being a Muslim, should not have travelled without a Mahram. It had troubled me a bit, but I had placed that on the lack of a grounded Islamic education, when she was growing up in England. “Well,” said Abbas, “She took care of it.” “But how?” I was perplexed.

Abbas paused. “Simple,” he then smiled with a twinkle in his eyes. “She married Amin.”

Adapted (with permission) from “The Embattled Innocence.” Compiled for “Hiba” by Laila Brence.