Down but not out!

Jul 10 - The Prophet's saw concern for taharah

There have been many, many companions of the Prophet (sa), who were considered to be among the less privileged in terms of financial matters. However, in terms of morals and manners, they were the elite. One of them was Umair ibn Sad (rtam). He grew up in the household of Julas ibn Suwayd (rtam), his mother’s second husband. Julas (rtam) gave him an excellent upbringing.

During the Battle of Tabook, Umair (rtam) saw the large amount of booty, along with a bag of one thousand Dinars that Usman ibn Affan (rtam) handed over to the Prophet (sa). Although he was in great financial need at the time, he did not utter a single word of request to the Prophet (sa). And this is how he was. He was among the three companions of the Prophet (sa) known to be Zahid (practicing Zuhd), along with Abu Ad-Darda (rtam) and Shaddad ibn Aws (rtam).

During the Caliphate of Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rtam), Umair (rtam) was appointed as the governor of Homs. When he walked towards Madinah from Homs to meet the Caliph, Umar (rtam) asked: “Didn’t any of the Muslims offer you a ride?”

He replied: “They neither offered it, nor I requested it.”

Umar (rtam) responded: “How indifferent have the Muslims become!”

Umair (rtam) admonished him: “O Ameer-ul-Mumineen! Allah (swt) has forbidden backbiting.”

When Umar (rtam) later asked him about the distribution of war booty and collection of Jizyah, he replied: “I have spent all the wealth, wherever it is most needed.”

Later, when Umar (rtam) sent to him one hundred Dinars through a messenger, Umair (rtam) summoned the children of those who had been martyred in different battles, and distributed the entire amount among them. He did not keep a single Dinar for himself, though he did need money at the time.

Indeed, this companion’s life is a role model for all of us in these materialistic times!

Adapted (with permission) from “Sunehray Huroof” published by Darussalam. Translated and compiled for “Hiba” by Umm Ibrahim.

Implementing Sunnah in Today’s Classrooms

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The Messenger (sa) said: “I have only been sent as a teacher.” (Ibn Majah) Surely, that was his role: he had to impart the instructions and the message of the Lord (swt) of the worlds to humankind. This task assigned to him was multi-dimensional as well as layered with problems.

How can the Prophet’s (sa) example be applied to the modern-day classroom? The following tips are not only for the benefit of the instructors of Islamic sciences. They are applicable to teachers of all subjects and all schools. Remember: whatever profession you belong to, you shall have to play the role of a teacher at some time or the other; in fact, isn’t teaching the primary role of parents? It is hoped that teachers and parents alike will benefit from these tips.

1) Sincerity of Intention

Making an intention is a prerequisite for every action. Unless a deed is performed with a proper objective in mind, it cannot be rewarded. One must have a purpose for all that one does, rather than carry on without any direction. This is, of course true of a teaching as well.

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The actions shall be judged only by the intentions.” (Bukhari) As educators, we will be rewarded for the noble intentions behind our teaching practices. There are three aspects of purifying one’s intention:

The first aspect: the intention to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Every action that is performed for His sake, no matter how routine, is considered to be an act of worship.

The second aspect: sincerity.

Tamim Ad-Dari (rta) narrated: “The Messenger (sa) said: ‘The Deen is Naseehah (sincerity and sincere advice).’ We asked: ‘To whom?’ He said: ‘To Allah, His Book, His Messenger and the leaders of the Muslims and the general people.’” (Muslim)

The third aspect: following the Islamic methodology.

The Quran says: “Say (O Muhammad): If you truly love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins; for, Allah is Oft-forgiving, most Merciful.” (Al-Imran 3:31)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) is the greatest reformer in the entire history. He is an emblem of all the best virtues and excellent qualities imaginable. He was blessed with the attributes of mercy, tolerance, forgiveness, love, compassion, truthfulness, piety, righteousness and steadfastness to the degree of perfection. To follow his example is to follow the perfect path – yes, this includes the classroom.

2) Teacher – Student Relationship

The most important element in teaching is the bond that the teacher has with the students. This relationship plays a decisive role in the learning process. If the relationship is based upon mutual love and respect, students will be able to absorb much more from their teacher. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, I am to you like a father is to his child; I am teaching you.” (Ibn Majah)

When a teacher becomes a second parent, the manner of dealing with the learners becomes positive and so do the results of teaching.

We know well the extent of love and respect that the companions of the Messenger (sa) had for him, the importance they gave him in their lives, and the way they were ever ready to lay down their lives at his command.

It must be remembered that this love did not and does not automatically install itself in the hearts; in the case of the companions, it was more of a reaction. It was the Messenger’s (sa) love and compassion because of which they became his devoted students. He was the embodiment of love and mercy for his companions.

The Quran says: “There has come to you a Messenger from amongst you: it weighs heavily upon him that which harasses you. [He is] anxious over your well-being. [He is] extremely compassionate and merciful to the believers.” (At-Taubah 9:128)

The love that the Messenger (sa) had for his students made them love him in return. The vibes of love and mercy he sent out led to their unconditional obedience. If the educators of today do not exude this level of compassion, how can they attain their students’ respect and obedience? If you want to receive love, you must first be prepared to give it.

3) Practice what you teach

The Messenger (sa) would teach through his own noble personality. His behaviour would inspire and motivate at the same time. His own actions were the best that can be in every scope of one’s life, especially as a teacher. The Quran says: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

The ideal example is that of the Messenger (sa), whose each and every action and word was revealed by Allah (swt) Himself.

The Quran says: “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.” (An-Najm 53:3-4)

What instruction can be better than the instruction of the Creator Himself?

Amr ibn al-Aas (rta) said about the Messenger of Allah (sa): “He does not command any good without being the first one to act on it.” (Al-Khasais Al-Kubra)

These words encompass a world of beauty in the art of teaching. There must not be a conspicuous disparity between what one says and what one does. If there is, what else do we call hypocrisy?

A question that arises here is: “This is good for a teacher of Islamic studies or such, but how can a mathematics teacher or a teacher of languages ‘practice’ what he says?”
The answer to this question has two parts. Firstly, a teacher of a language, say English, needs to have a high standard of the language that he or she is teaching. Likewise, if a teacher encourages reading as a habit, he or she should be seen with a new book under his or her arm regularly. All teachers encourage good handwriting – should they not be careful about their own handwriting at all times?

Secondly, a teacher of religious studies or morals is not the only educator who teaches ethics to students. Remember: Every teacher is a role model for the students who observe him/her on the school premises or outside of it.

Always remember: “Correcting others is based on correcting oneself. Therefore, begin with yourself and then with those who are close to you.” (Quoted by Imam Ghazali in Ihya Uloom ad-Deen)

Adapted (with permission) from “How the Messenger of Allah (sa) Taught his Students” written by Maulvi Jahangir Mahmud (jahangir@ser.com.pk).

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A Woman of Substance (A True Story)

36

“Confront the dark parts of yourself and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” (August Wilson)

She might not be the wealthiest, the most famous or the most influential woman. However, she is an inspiration to all the women out there. In these times, when the ‘weaker’ gender in our country is forced to sell her body to earn a living, Nazeeran Begum refused to give in. To the eyes of a casual observer, she might appear as another housemaid, dusting off dirt and cleaning up the mess created by other people. But in her own life, she cleaned up the mess that her family had created and dusted off the dirt of despair from her shoulder to move on in life. She mustered all her leftover courage and decided to nurture it even in the darkest of times to help her gain a new life.

Nazeeran Begum’s humility can make anyone mindful of one’s own attitude. She has a very strong Punjabi accent but replies ‘Walaikum Assalam’ as properly as any Arab would. She does not sit on the couch. Instead, she chooses to settle down on the floor cushion. “These couches and chairs make people lazy, and I need my strength – can’t afford old age, you know,” she remarks at the shiny, wooden furniture. She is always clad in her white Chaddar (a traditional long piece of cloth) with silver embroidery, unravelling from many corners now, and a clean lawn suit. Along with her little black pouch for keeping her bus fare, she carries a bag of clothes wherever she goes.

Her problems in life started quite early – she was only nine years old, when her mother died. “I belonged to a rich family back in Rajanpur, my village in Dera Ghazi Khan. My father was a Zameendar (landlord) and remarried after my mother’s death. The stepmother was not a surprise at all. She kept my father drunk and her sons, my half brothers, took over the property. The beginning of my sorrows were triggered when my father died. I was twenty years old then,” she tells. She wipes off her tears and bravely tells how she denied all the urges to cut her wrists or to drink poison. Nazeeran Begum has always been a devout Muslim and believes that it is a sin to commit suicide. She was then forced to marry a farmer who used to work in her father’s fields. He was a compulsive gambler and married Nazeeran for money. When her step brothers took everything, her husband beat her and locked her in a room. “Things got worse when I got pregnant; I had twins – a girl and a boy,” she adds somberly.

Her baby girl was taken away by her husband, who sold her for a mere amount of five thousand. According to Nazeeran Begum, that was the worst day of her life. But even that incident didn’t break her spirits; she worked untiringly in the fields, carried manure, reared cattle and raised a son on her own. Although she was illiterate, she managed to get her son admitted in a school. Her husband mostly came home drunk and hit her with anything he found. After twenty years of her marriage, her husband came home one night and divorced her. “He was drunk and had lost all of his senses. He threw me out and locked the door behind me. I stayed up all night for him to come out the next day, but there was nothing left for me. I was divorced. My son refused to leave with me,” she laments.

At that point, when Nazeeran had nowhere to go, no place to hide and her clothes were tattered and torn, her old neighbour, who knew Nazeeran before marriage, took her into her own house. Both of them left Rajanpur and came to Karachi. They resided there in the little huts underneath the pulls with snake charmers. Nazeeran puts her hands over her ears to express her utmost disgust regarding those initial days. She started working as a housemaid, commonly known as a Masi in Karachi. “I was determined to earn Rizq-e-Halal. I never went for any illegitimate means of earning money. Many women, who lived in the huts near mine, were involved in prostitution and smuggling, but I never supported the idea of selling my flesh to anyone,” she states boldly. “The primary reason was my faith in Allah (swt). I had enough stamina to cling onto my religion even during those times.”

When Nazeeran Begum earned enough money, she moved out of that hut to a decent, rented quarter in Shah Faisal Colony. She started selling undergarments, socks and handkerchiefs, too, for extra money. “Working in different households meant interaction with all sorts of people. I started socializing. I met many poor women like me. Since I had to look after myself only, I began saving a lot. I progressed onto selling fabric, but at the same time, I did not stop my cleaning business either,” she says.

“I met several women in my new neighborhood, who were living hand-to-mouth and worked extra hours like me to earn a living. That was the time when I started collecting Zakat, in order to buy sewing machines for those women, so that they could start a new business for earning more,” tells Nazeeran. Her fabrics business was doing well – she earned enough to buy a small quarter of her own in Bakhtawar Goth.

“I have started looking after girls, who are either turned out of their houses or divorced, just like me. I teach them sewing and cleaning, so that they do not go for illicit means to earn bread and butter. It’s for my daughter I lost once,” she pauses and starts weeping for the first time during the conversation.

Beaten, torn down, driven out of house, once stranded on the streets, harassed by snake charmers and bereaved of her own children and father’s property, Nazeeran now lives in a house of her own and has a stall at Erum Centre, where she sells fabrics. She not only brought herself out of darkness but also illuminated the lives of many women like her. She is the living example of courage, hope and faith. However, most importantly, she is a perfect example of a woman, who never compromised her self-respect, honour and dignity for the sake of money. Nazeeran dedicates her life to her lost daughter, whom she hopes to meet in Jannah.