Hospitality in Islam

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Hospitality in Islam

For a majority of us, who are over-committed, life moves in the fast lane, and guests are no less than a red light or worse – an interminable traffic-jam. The news of imminent visitors is frequently met with frowns or frenzied bickering.

The best guest is one, who does not burden the host. Failing to give a prior notice, visiting at inappropriate times, prolonging ones stay and burdening the host with expectations, on how one should be treated, disgruntles a host in our eastern civilization. A host is expected to be at the beck and call of his guests, stow away personal life and entertain the guest usually for an extended period of time.

The western world is tilted towards the other extreme. A guest must be prepared to depend as much as possible on himself, and might, occasionally, meet his host at breakfast, or may be dinner or any other time, when their schedules coordinate. For the visitor this may mean cooking for himself, doing his own laundry, taking the bus for errands or sightseeing, etc. The bottom-line is that the guest seeks his own comfort and thanks the host profusely for all the boarding facilities that would otherwise have cost a fortune.

These two extremes mar the spirit of hospitality meant to bring people together. The cultural baggage associated with each instance is far from the reasonable and pragmatic approach Islam takes to balance the guest’s and host’s needs.

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported the Prophet (sa) saying: “He, who believes in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, let him show hospitality to his guest…” (Bukhari, Muslim) Hafiz Salahuddin Yusuf in his commentary in Riyad-us-Saliheen states: “To honour a guest means to welcome him cheerfully, entertain him happily, according to our capacity, and have full regard of his comfort and rest.”

Abu Shuraih Khuwailid Bin Amr Al-Khuzai (rta) reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) (sa) saying: “He, who believes in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, should accommodate his guest according to his right.” He was asked: “What is his right, O Messenger of Allah (swt)?” He replied: “It is to accommodate him for a day and a night and extend hospitality for three days, and what is beyond that is considered charity.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadeeth deals more with the etiquette and scope of hospitality. On the first day and night, a guest should be offered the best entertainment. In the next two days, hospitality should be moderate. On the fourth day, the guest should leave for his destination. Yet, if the guest chooses to stay, he should not expect formal hospitality but rather seek to be as dependent on himself as possible. If the host willingly entertains the guest after three days, it will be considered charity on his part.

Allah (swt), the Exalted, says: “Has the story reached you, of the honoured guests (three angels; Jibril along with another two) of Ibrahim? When they came in to him and said: ‘Salam, (peace be upon you)!’ He answered: ‘Salam, (peace be upon you),’ and said: ‘You are a people unknown to me.’ Then he turned to his household, and brought out a roasted calf (as the property of Ibrahim (as) was mainly cows). And placed it before them, (saying): ‘Will you not eat?'” (AdhDhariyat 51:24-27)

The above Ayah from the Quran is an example of how the friend of Allah (swt), Ibrahim (as), entertained his visitors. He reciprocated their greeting, despite the fact that they were strangers to him. Furthermore, Ibrahim (as) quickly and discretely arranged for a meal without asking, if they would care for anything. The meal consisted of the best he could offer. Once the meal was ready, he placed it close to them and refrained from ordering them to eat; instead, subtly invited them to partake in the meal.

Jabir Bin Abdullah (rta) said: “Abu Al-Haitham Bin Al-Taihan prepared food for Allah (swt)’s Apostle (sa), and he invited the Prophet (sa) and the companions (rta). When they finished eating He (sa) said: ‘If some people enter the house of a man, eat his food, drink his drink and they supplicate (to Allah (swt)) for him, this is his reward.'” (Abu Dawood) It is, thus, commendable to utter a supplication for those, who provide hospitality or provide food for others.

Abdullah Bin Umar (rta) reported Allah (swt)’s Messenger (sa) as saying: “He, who does not accept an invitation, has disobeyed Allah (swt) and His Apostle (sa), and he, who enters without invitation, enters as a thief and goes out as a raider.” (Abu Dawood)

In another Hadeeth, narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “A Muslim has six duties towards another Muslim: to salute him, when he meets him; when invited, to accept his invitation; when asked for advice, to give it to him; when he sneezes, to praise Allah (swt) and say: ‘May Allah (swt) have mercy on you;’ when he is ill, to visit him; and when he dies, follow his funeral.” (Muslim) Carrying out of these obligations is compulsory.

There are some instances, where it is recommended to decline hospitality offered.

Ibn Abbas (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) forbade that the food of two rivals be eaten.” (Abu Dawood) This refers to those rivaling over hospitality to a guest. It is forbidden, because it involves the show and ostentation of one’s richness. Such an invitation should not be accepted.

Similarly, Safina Abu Abdul-Rahman said: “Once a man prepared food for Ali Bin Abi Talib (rta) and Fatima (rta) said: ‘I wish we had invited the Apostle of Allah (sa) and he had eaten with us.’ So they did. But when he came and put his hands on the side-ports of the door, and saw the figured curtain that had been put up at the end of the house, he left. So Fatima (rta) told Ali (rta): ‘Follow him and see what turned him back.’ So, Ali (rta) did and asked him (sa): ‘What turned you back, Apostle of Allah?’ He replied: ‘It is not fitting for me or any Prophet to enter a house, which is decorated.'” (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) left, because he disliked luxury and unnecessary decoration in the house. Thus, if an unlawful action is done in a house, where a guest is being entertained, he may leave or refuse the invitation altogether.

A Muslim should only invite the pious and avoid the evildoers. Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Do not be a companion except to a believer and let only the pious eat your food.” (Abu Dawood)

Also, a Muslim should not invite only the rich and exclude the poor. The Prophet (sa) said: “The worst food is that of a feast, to which the rich are invited and the poor excluded.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Likewise, a poor person’s invitation should be accepted.

The Prophet (sa) also clarified, which of the two invitations are more worthy of being accepted, when received simultaneously. Humaid Ibn Abdul-Rahman Al-Himyari said that a companion of the Prophet (sa) reported him as saying: “When two people come together to issue an invitation, accept that of the one, whose door is nearer to yours, but if one of them comes before the other, accept the invitation of the one, who came first.” (Abu Dawood)

Conclusively, just like every other aspect of Islam, rules of hospitality are also driven by wisdom and courtesy. Extending and accepting hospitality with grace gives believers reasons to rejoice. Lets not make it cumbersome for anyone and keep it simple and gratifying by Allah (swt) and His Apostle’s (sa) ways.

Hostility or hospitality?

If you are a guest…

  1. Do not disturb your host at odd hours; rather, visit at their convenience.
  2. Do not visit empty-handed. Gifts enhance love among people, even if it is only a single rose or a bar of candy.
  3. If your stay is an extended one, do not remain aloof. Mingle with the hosts and help them as much as possible in their household chores.
  4. Do not place unreasonable demands that burden your host.
  5. Do not use the host’s belongings irresponsibly. In other words, use them, as if they were your own.
  6. Do not backbite or ridicule your host, after you leave.

If you are a host…

  1. Do not lie deliberately to turn away visitors.
  2. Do not serve unwanted or stale food to your guests to make room in your refrigerator.
  3. Do not place expensive decorative pieces in your house, especially, if you expect young kids to accompany your guest.
  4. Do not embarrass the guest if he accidentally happens to break or misuse any of your belongings.
  5. Do not give your mood swings expression or ignore your guests altogether and make them feel unwelcome.
  6. Do not backbite or ridicule your guests, after they have left.

Sheikh Ahmad Deedat

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Sheikh Ahmad DeedatFamed Muslim preacher and debater Sheikh Ahmed Deedat died Monday, August 8, 2005, at 87, leaving behind a legacy of propagating Islam and defending it against missionaries. Known particularly for his work on comparative religions, Deedat was the founder of the Islamic Propagation Center International (IPCI), the largest Islamic Dawah organization in the world.

He was perceptive, fiery, and daring, with an insight of the Bible that made many Christians whom he came into contact with re-examine their faith.

From working in a shop in a remote area of KwaZulu Natal, to debating the famous American reverend, Jimmy Swaggart in the USA – the story of Ahmed Deedat is amazing.

Born in Surat, India, in 1918, Ahmed Hoosen Deedat had no recollection of his father until 1926. His father, a tailor, had immigrated to South Africa shortly after the birth of Deedat. The son went to South Africa in 1927 to be with his father. His mother passed away a few months later, back in India.

In a foreign land, not knowing the English language, his passion for reading helped him gain promotions until he completed standard 6. Lack of finance interrupted his schooling and at the age of about 16 he took on the first of many jobs in retailing.

The most significant of these was in 1936 when he worked at a Muslim-owned store near a Christian seminary on the Natal South Coast. The incessant insults of the trainee missionaries hurled against Islam during their brief visit to the store infused a stubborn flame of desire within the young man to counteract their false propaganda.

Ahmed Deedat, by God’s will, discovered a book entitled “Izharul-Haq”, meaning the truth revealed. This book recorded the techniques and the enormous success of the effort of Muslims in India in turning the tables against Christian missionary harassment during the British rule of India. In particular, the idea of holding debates had a profound effect on Ahmed Deedat.

Armed with this newfound zeal, Deedat purchased his first Bible and began holding debate and discussions with the trainee missionaries. He published over 30 books and distributed millions of copies free of charge. He delivered thousands of lectures all over the world and successfully engaged Christian Evangelists in public debates. Several thousand people have come into the fold of Islam as a result of these efforts.

The first opportunity to go abroad arose in 1976, when a good friend, Ebrahim Jadwat, travelled to Riyadh for a conference.

“When I asked the people from Saudi television to interview him, they laughed at me, saying that they had 50 or 60 of the greatest scholars from all over the world, so why should they interview him?” recalls Jadwat. “So I said: ‘Give him two minutes of your time and I’m sure you’ll find something interesting.’ So they humored me and gave him the opportunity to come on television.” The rest, as they say, is history…

Sheikh Deedat with his entertaining approach, dynamic personality, deep knowledge of Christianity and unique ideas, swept the Arab world off its feet. Going to Riyadh opened many doors for him, and his dream of printing and distributing the Qur’an and other literature soon become a reality. He was awarded the King Faisal International Award in 1989.

On May 3, 1996, Sheikh Ahmed Deedat suffered a stroke, known as “lock in syndrome,” which left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was no longer able to speak or swallow. He delivered his last lecture in Sydney, Australia, in 1996, just before his chronic illness.


istikhara1Life is full of choices affecting our future and the lives of those around us: career options, marriage proposals, selecting a school for children and the list goes on. Often, decisions make us feel uncertain and uneasy, even after deciding on an option. Unable to predict the outcome of our judgement, we often wish for reassurance from someone, who has more wisdom than ourselves. Hence, our beloved teacher Prophet Muhammad (sa) instructed us to make Istikhara for all the important matters of life.

“Allah’s (swt) Messenger used to teach his companions to perform the prayer of Istikhara for each and every matter, just as he used to teach them the Surahs from the Quran.” (Bukhari)

The term ‘Istikhara’ means ‘seeking/requesting guidance in what is good’ – hence, it is a means of asking Allah (swt) (the One, Who knows the seen and the unseen) to guide us to the right decision concerning any affair in our life, especially, when we have to choose between two or more alternatives.

Performing Salat-ul-Istikhara

The Prophet Muhammad (sa) informed us: “If anyone of you thinks of doing any job, he should offer a two Rakah prayer other than the compulsory ones and say (after the prayer)…” he then recited the Dua of Istikhara. (Bukhari)

Thus, performing Istikhara is really very simple:

  1. Decide on the option you wish to take.
  2. Make Wudu and prepare for Salah.
  3. Pray two Rakahs of Salah, other than the obligatory ones. The intention of Salah should be made in your heart, without saying it out loud. This prayer can be performed at any time, when Salah is permissible.
  4. After completing the Salah, recite in Arabic the Dua of Istikhara, clearly mentioning the affair you are concerned about (the affair can be said in the language you are accustomed to, if you do not know, how to translate it into Arabic).
  5. Trust that Allah (swt) will now guide you towards what is best for your future in this world and the Hereafter. Then, act upon what you feel is the best choice in the matter.

Note: There is no harm in repeating Salat-ul-Istikhara, before acting on a decision. Every person concerned with a particular affair should perform this Salah individually.

Misconceptions regarding Salat-ul-Istikhara

Many people feel that Salat-ul-Istikhara should be followed by a feeling or a dream, pointing towards the correct decision. The Prophet (sa) has warned us: “Dreams are of three types: glad tidings from Allah (swt), whispering from the soul, or frightening thoughts from Shaitan.” (Bukhari) Thus, we cannot be sure about the source of a dream.

The Dua of Istikhara asks Allah (swt) to make the right direction smooth and easy for us, and also make us satisfied with the outcome. Sometimes, after acting upon a decision, we find the outcome different from what we had anticipated. Only much later we realize that the results were definitely in our favor. We are hasty to taste the fruits of success and feel restless and unsatisfied, when things do not seem to go the way we plan. This Dua asks Allah (swt) to give to us a feeling of content, no matter what the outcome is, for truly, only He sees the fruits of our deeds.

The affairs Salat-ul-Istikhara can be made for

Istikhara can be made for all affairs affecting our lives, in which we have to choose between permissible alternatives. This includes making choices between obligatory matters, for example, trying to decide, whether to go for Hajj or postpone it in order to take care of a sick parent. However, it cannot be made for the following matters:

  • acts, which Allah (swt) has made obligatory on us, such as performing Hajj, giving Zakat, or fasting in Ramadan;
  • acts, which Allah (swt) has declared Haram (forbidden), such as drinking alcohol or giving bribes;
  • acts, which may involve harm or result in oppression of another Muslim.

Remember, making Istikhara does not mean that you should not turn for advice to those, who have more knowledge. Allah (swt) Himself instructs us, what can be translated as: “… and consult them in the affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah (swt); certainly, Allah (swt) loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Al-Imran 3:159)

Hence, make a decision after proper research and then put your mind at ease by entrusting Allah (swt) with the matter as “Allah (swt) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.” (Al-Imran 3:173)

Translation of Dua of Istikhara

“O Allah (swt)! I consult You, for You have all knowledge, and appeal to You to support me with Your Power and ask for Your Bounty, for You are able to do things, while I am not, and You know while I do not; and You are the Knower of the Unseen. O Allah (swt)! If You know that this matter (name your matter) is good for me both at present and in the future, (or in my Deen), in this life and in the Hereafter, then fulfill it for me and make it easy for me, and then bestow Your Blessings on me in that matter. O Allah (swt)! If You know that this matter is not good for me in my Deen, in this life and in my coming Hereafter (or at present or in the future), then divert me from it and choose for me what is good, wherever it may be, and make me be pleased with it.” (Bukhari)

Life after Ramadan

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Life After RamadanWe wait anxiously for Ramadan – and before we know it, it has come and gone; faster than the year before. Irrespective of how religiously inclined one is, most Muslims enjoy the spirit of Ramadan. The question is – what exactly do we enjoy?

Is it the atmosphere of peace and harmony or is it the fruit Chat and Pakoras? Is it the coming together of the community for Taraweeh or is it the lavish Iftar parties? Is it the knowledge of the extra reward or is it the quest for a short-cut to Jannah?

As quickly as the Blessed Month comes and goes, why does the zeal with which we connect to Allah (swt) start evaporating as well? Are we just ‘Ramadan Muslims’?

Ramadan should not be our cultural festival, where talks about food and Eid shopping rule our minds. Ramadan should not be mechanical worship, where we program our bodies to perform some extra Nawafil for a month. Ramadan should also not be a time for display, where we boast about our Siyam in the day and Qiyam in the night or revel in our accomplishments.

What we gain from Ramadan depends a lot on our intentions. Did we want to reestablish our connection with the Quran and its Author, or did we want to join friends in losing a few pounds? Did we want to train our Nafs, or did we want to put in some effort and then rest easy for the remainder of the year?

The actual purpose of Ramadan is to train ourselves by setting aside time from our fast-paced lives and recharging our rusty batteries, in order to be prepared for the whole year. Shaitan is chained, our lives are more disciplined, and our hearts softer. It might be unrealistic to expect the same level of enthusiasm throughout the year, as Allah (swt) has blessed these 29 or 30 days with His Special Mercy. Nevertheless, we can try to reap at least part of the benefits throughout our lives. Who knows, if we will be around next Ramadan?

“Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.” (Al-Imran 3:8)

Perhaps, wisdom behind the extra worship and reward associated with the last ten nights of Ramadan is to remind us not to slack right after Eid. We might reach our peak of Ibadah in search of Layaltul Qadr, but we must remind ourselves not to make our graph plummet soon after. Perhaps, the recommended six fasts of Shawal are also intended to keep our memories of fasting fresh.

Here are some tips to help us keep the spirit of Ramadan alive:

  • Instead of storing the Quran in a velvet cover on the highest shelf for the 11 months following Ramadan, or feeling that you have done a lot in this month, Imam Ghazali says: ‘Our heart should be like a pendulum – swinging to and fro, praying and hoping that our worship was accepted. If we were able to achieve some goals, it wasn’t because of our strength but rather the Bounty of Allah (swt), Who gave us the opportunity, willingness, and ability to do so. Without all three, we would not have been able to reap any benefits from Ramadan.’
  • When one is  sent on a one month training course, one is expected to return with knowledge to make ones work productive, as well as pass that knowledge on. So, evaluate what you gained from Ramadan, practice it in your daily life, and spread the word.
  • Don’t waste all your efforts on Eid day. For instance, if you intended to dress more modestly in Ramadan, don’t let your Eid attire and make-up wash it all away. If you shared meals with the less fortunate in Ramadan, don’t let your Eid party guest list include the affluent friends only.
  • If you are unable to continue reading as much of the Quran after Ramadan, don’t just abandon it because you consider too little of it to be pointless. The Prophet (sa) recommended deeds that were small but regular. Understanding five Ayahs daily might make more of a difference than five chapters read speedily in one night. If you do not have the time for a week-long Aitekaf, make Niyah for a mini-Aitekaf lasting a few hours, when you disconnect with the world to connect with your Lord.
  • Islam is a Deen of moderation; therefore, set realistic and achievable goals and take it from there. Try to start fasting Mondays and Thursdays as was the Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, or add just two extra Nafl in your prayers.
  • Maintain ties with your buddies from Taraweeh and remind one another to keep check of each other’s good deeds. Organize a weekly study circle or a monthly Islamic book club, where you all meet to discuss a particular book.
  • Strengthen the relationship you established with your Rabb, the Quran, and the community. Do not say good-bye to the Masjid after the Eid prayers.
  • Our Ramadan training course is meant to ensure we adhere to our manual – the Quran- throughout the year. We are not just Saturday or Sunday worshippers. Consider Ramadan as the down payment on your house. Regardless of how hefty the down payment may be – if we fail to keep up with regular monthly installments for several years, our house can be taken away from us.

Ramadan is like the spring of good deeds, when acts of kindness are in full bloom, and certain fruits and vegetables are at their peak of ripeness.  They are there for us to reap and enjoy their goodness in numerous ways.

Let us add some preservatives to our Ramadan Ibadah to make the rewards last throughout the year.

Beautiful Names

Vol 2 -Issue 3     Beautiful namesAl-Ghaffar – the One, Who is full of forgiveness and forgives again and again.

Allah (swt) is the One, Who forgives sins. He is also the One, Who conceals the sins of His slaves. He makes manifest the beautiful and conceals the ugly. He lets a cover fall over the bad deeds of His believing slaves. By understanding this attribute of Allah (swt), we can be sure that all our sins can be forgiven by the will of Allah (swt). Calling upon Him by this name with sincere repentance, we can hope to be among the people of Paradise. This hope will further drive us to do more good deeds and keep away from sins.

We should also try to imitate this attribute of Allah (swt) by forgiving the mistakes of other Muslims and hiding their sins. This attribute will develop a strong bond of Muslim brotherhood and strengthen the broken threads of the Muslim society.

Al-Qahhar – the Dominator.

Allah (swt) is the One, Who dominates over all His creation. He breaks the backs of His enemies and suppresses them. He conquers the conquerors of this world – no matter how powerful we may be, we cannot make anything happen, unless Allah (swt) wills it to happen. The most ruthless tyrants ultimately meet their death and cannot postpone it even for a moment.

In Surah Al-Baqara verse 258, Allah (swt) has mentioned the story of Namrood, who argued with Prophet Ibrahim (as) about his land. When Namrood claimed that he is the one, who gives life and causes death, Ibrahim (as) replied that if Allah (swt) brings the sun up from the East, Namrood should bring it up from the West. Ibrahim (as) challenged Namrood to prove that all he has is but a limited dominion over people, while Allah’s (swt) domination is absolute and encompasses all His creation.

The dominator among men is the one, who subdues his enemies. Our biggest enemy is the desires of our souls (Nafs), which can lead us to sinful deeds. If we are in control of our desires, we actually dominate over all mankind, because no one can lead us to do bad deeds. Only by having a complete control over ourselves, we can conquer Shaitan, who takes advantage of human weaknesses.

Al-Wahhab – the Bestower.

Allah (swt) is the One, Who bestows upon His slaves gifts and grants their wishes without seeking any recompense. While we all are in need of Allah (swt), He needs nothing. No human being by nature can be an absolute bestower because, if we present someone with a gift, we expect a return either from people or from Allah (swt). When we are in need of anything, we should call upon Allah (swt) by this name and ask Him to bestow it on us. In our hearts, we should be absolutely certain that Allah’s (swt) treasures are infinite.

Allah (swt) has said in a Hadeeth Qudsee: “O my servants, were the first of you and the last of you, the human of you and the Jinn of you to rise up in one place and make a request to Me, and were I to give everyone, what he requested, that would not decrease, what I have, anymore than a needle decreases the sea, if put into it.” (Muslim)

Travel Egypt

Vol 2 -Issue 3 EgyptMany people associate ancient Egypt with slaves building the great pyramids, although today we believe that the pyramids probably were not built primarily by slave labor. Egypt is described as ‘the gift of the Nile,’ to which travelers are drawn by the pyramids, sphinx, ancient Luxor, and the Nile River. The Pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, and the British have all ruled Egypt. Modern Egypt is a blend of these legacies.


To eat ‘real,’ you have to eat ‘street.’ Egypt is a culinary adventure. ‘Eating street,’ as we define it, does not confine itself to stand-up meals from cart vendors – it is more of an everyday cuisine of an everyday person. These everyday Egyptians eat well.

Elegant restaurants offer delicious oriental selections, such as Kofta (ground meatballs), Kebab (grilled meat), Mulukhia (green soup), Tahina (Tahini) salad, Hamam Mahshi (stuffed pigeon), Baba Ghannoug (Tahini and eggplant) and mixed green salad, stuffed grape leaves, Foul and Falafel (cooked and fried beans).


Egypt can rightfully be termed as shopper’s paradise with its exquisite carpets, typical Egyptian historical reproductions and artifacts, papyrus wall hangings, dates and dry fruits, spices and prayer beads, colourful fabrics and clothes, as well as fabulous jewellery.
Although the cities have their own Bazars, the most famous among them is the Khan-el-Khalili in Cairo. The place has a long tradition of connoisseurship in collectibles and there is always the possibility of finding a real gem. Bargaining is the best way to get your way through the market.

At the more sophisticated shopping malls, you can shop in the comfort of an air conditioner and pick up wall hangings and the famous Egyptian rugs and carpets.


Cairo is a city that often mixes the many cultures of the world with the many ages of the world.

The Great Sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a woman’s head that devoured by-passers unable to answer her riddle. Three times a night in three different languages, the Sphinx plays the role of storyteller, narrating the history of the ancient Egypt.

The most famous site in Egypt is the Giza Plateau, which has the largest pyramids. Many believe it was the ancient burial chamber of the pharaoh and his queen, while others suggest it had astronomical functions.

The National Geographic Society Museum is located in the El Shura Council. The museum has different chambers labeled as Cairo Hall, Africa Hall, Suez Canal Hall, Egyptian Ethnography, and a General Hall about Egypt.

The Wadi Digla is made up of limestone rocks, which indicate that this area was once covered by the ocean. A very good place for camping, scouts trips, and bikers, who need rugged roads to ride along.


Alexandria, the second largest city and the main port of Egypt, was built by a Greek architect Dinocrates (332-331 BC) on the site of an old village, Rhakotis, following the orders of Alexander the Great. It was the site of the Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the Great Library.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria (also called Pharos Lighthouse) was used to mark the harbor, using fire at night and reflecting sunrays during the day.

The Great Library, established by Ptolemy I (305-285 BC), was the most important centre of learning in the ancient times. The beautiful new building, with its distinctive granite wall covered by the letters of alphabets from around the world, today is a recognizable landmark of the new Alexandria.

The fort was built in the 1480’s by the Egyptian Mamelouk Sultan Qaitbay on the spot of Alexandria’s ancient Lighthouse. It was said that Qaitbay spent more than a hundred thousand Dinars on the work of this citadel.


Built on the site of the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor is one of Egypt’s prime tourist destinations. In a town, where tourism accounts for 85 percent of the economy, it is hardly surprising that you cannot move without being importuned to step inside a shop, rent a caleche, or have your shoes shined. Hassled and overcharged at every turn, some tourists react with fury and come to detest Luxor. Keep your cool and sense of humour – it is possible to find genuine warmth here. Once you get to know a few characters and begin to understand the score, Luxor becomes a funky soap opera with a cast of thousands.

Nile River Cruise

Tips for choosing a Nile River Cruise:

  1. Make sure you know exactly, where the cruise will stop, the time you should plan spending in the cruise, and what you will see in that area.
  2. Find out, what the accommodations on the boat will be like – what are the amenities, the size of your cabin, and what star level of hotel does it compare to?
  3. Will your guide travel with you? Will you have a private guide or be part of a group?
  4. Are there discounts for bringing multiple travelers? Or a supplement for a single traveler? If you are traveling alone, will you have a private cabin?

Masajid in Egypt

While most of the tourist Masjids are to be found in Islamic Cairo, the oldest of them all, the Amr Ibn El-As Mosque, is located in Coptic (Christian, or Old Cairo). Al-Azhar Mosque, one of the most influential Masjids in Islam, is the location of the World’s oldest University. Some Masjids in Egypt, particularly in Cairo, are actually complexes that include a number of other structures, which may or may not be attached to the Masjid.

You can walk into the desert by yourself, climb an unnamed hill, and watch the sun lazily dropping into the horizon reflecting on Allah’s (swt) beauty in creation. There is much to be relished in this historic country that shaped some of the very pivotal years of Islam.

Fact File

Contributed by Affaf Jamal

Egypt for the Muslims, Jews and Christians holds a significant mark in history as a land where Prophets came and rose.

Prophet Yacoob (as) had twelve sons, his favorite being Yusuf (as). Yusuf (as) was sold as a slave in Egypt. When famine came to the land, Yusuf (as), who became the Pharaoh’s minister, invited his family, to come to Egypt. Their family grew and became a large tribe known as the Banu Israel. Ramses II became king four hundred years later. He made the Banu Israel his slaves. It was from this very tribe that another great Prophet arose, Moosa (as) who would defeat the great Pharaoh and add to the treasure of Egyptian history.

Common Respiratory Ailments in Children

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Common Respiratory AilmentsPneumonia

Pneumonia is a general term for an infection of the lungs that may be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria. The types of pneumonia you are likely to see in your baby include:

Viral pneumonia

In young children, respiratory synctial virus (RSV) and influenza virus are the most likely causes. Viral pneumonia typically starts like a cold and slowly, but steadily, gets worse. Your child may have a fever of 101.5° F or more, a worsening cough, and rapid breathing.

Bacterial pneumonia

With bacterial pneumonia, your child will have a sudden onset of symptoms – fever up to 103° F, rapid breathing and coughing. The child will not want to eat and will seem very ill.

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

Fever and cough are pneumonia’s main features along with a number of other symptoms; however, it is hard to tell, whether your baby has pneumonia. If your child has a cold that seems to get suddenly worse or does not get any better after about two weeks, call your pediatrician.

Since pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, your pediatrician will be listening to your child’s lungs for decreased breathing sounds or other abnormal sounds. Your child will be breathing rapidly in order to take in more oxygen, because some of the air sacs in the lungs are filled with fluid. The doctor might hear some wheezing, too. If your child has a severe case of pneumonia and gets admitted to the hospital, most likely an x-ray and blood tests will be done, in order to determine the cause of pneumonia and appropriate treatment.

How is pneumonia treated?

The treatment depends on the type of infection, the severity of the illness, and the age of the child. Viral pneumonia, like all other viral infections, does not respond to antibiotics, so treatment may be limited to rest and fluids. Some children require nebulizer treatment. Your doctor may also provide your child with supplemental oxygen through a tube or mask to make breathing easier. Dehydration from rapid breathing and fever is often a side effect of pneumonia, which is why taking in fluids is so important. A bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics, possibly by intravenous (IV) delivery.

How to prevent pneumonia?

There are a number of things that you can do to boost your child’s chances of staying healthy:

Keep up to date on vaccinations

The Hib, the Dtap, and the newly introduced vaccine (not available in Pakistan) help prevent pneumonia. In addition, if your child has a lung disease, such as asthma, talk to your pediatrician about getting the influenza vaccine every year, as a way of cutting down on the chances of catching the flu and having it develop into pneumonia.

Practice good personal hygiene

Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs. In addition, do not let your children share cups and utensils and teach them to cover their mouth and nose, when they cough or sneeze, since pneumonia is transmitted through droplets in the air. Furthermore, make it part of your house-cleaning routine to wash regularly all the places germs are likely to hang out, such as the phone, toys, doorknobs, and the refrigerator handle – anywhere germy body parts might touch.

Create a smoke-free environment

Studies have shown that children, who live around cigarette smoke even for short periods, get sick more often and are more susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia, upper respiratory infections, asthma, and ear infections. Children with asthma are at higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Onset of influenza season

Influenza, known as the ‘flu,’ is a respiratory illness spread through the droplets of coughs and sneezes that cause symptoms, such as fever, headache, extreme fatigue, and muscle aches.

What this means to you: children, who are at risk for complications from flu, include infants, children between 6 and 23 months, and children over two years, who have chronic medical conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disease, asthma, respiratory allergies, sickle cell anemia, diabetes mellitus, HIV, cystic fibrosis, and chronic renal disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend that children with these chronic conditions receive yearly flu shots.

How to prevent asthma in your child?

There is nothing you can do for fully preventing your baby from getting asthma, if it is in the baby’s genes. You will not know your child is asthmatic, until the appearance of consistent symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing. However, if you and your spouse have allergies and asthma, then also your baby has a strong likelihood of having asthma. You may be able to delay its onset, until your baby is older (and the lungs are bigger and stronger), by doing the following:

  • Limit your baby’s exposure to dust mites by encasing the crib mattress in an impermeable cover, removing carpeting and plush toys from the room, using blinds instead of heavy fabric drapes, and washing the bedding once a week in hot water.
  • Keep the child away from passive smoking. Cigarette smoke is not considered an allergen, but it does irritate the lungs.
  • Avoid using a fireplace or wood stove. Although the warmth and coziness are inviting, the smoke may irritate your baby’s respiratory system.
  • If it is clear that your baby has developed an allergy to a pet, you will need to keep the pet away from the baby as much as possible.
  • Limit the child’s exposure to viruses by practicing good hygiene.
  • Delay giving your baby the foods that are likely to cause food allergies, such as eggs, nuts, shellfish, and cow’s milk.

Remember – prevention is better than cure!

Studying Effectively

Practical advice from Hafsa Ahsan for making the most of your study time and avoiding the pre-exam panic

Effective studying isn’t about opening a textbook and learning each and every chapter by heart. In fact, when you learn everything by heart and regurgitate it during exams, you’re not really learning anything. You may get good marks, but do you realize that this method of learning is unreliable? Often when nervous, all that has been memorized is forgotten. So, what are more effective methods of studying and applying knowledge acquired during exams? Here are a few tried and tested techniques.

Mapping out ideas

Once you have read a whole chapter or part of it, simply write down the main point or central theme in the center of a sheet of paper. Then, around the main point, write supporting words or key phrases related to the central theme. This will help you remember the key concepts, without having to resort to rote learning.

Making a list of important points

If mapping confuses you, then stick to its alternative-making a list of important points. I have noticed that many students tend to write down whole essays as notes and then try to cram them. Listing is a more useful technique. Here is a small example:

Question: How has globalization affected the Third World countries?

  • Adverse effects on trade
  • Exploitation of cheap labour
  • Rise of multinationals
  • Adverse effects on the local economy
  • Loss of local languages
  • Loss of cultural values
  • Subservience to international economic organizations
  • Positive effects for the average consumer
  • Positive effects of increased flow of information

If you have noticed, each point in and of itself needs a huge explanation. Learning these phrases and then explaining them in your own words during an exam is a much better option than spending hours filling pages and pages with explanations of key words and then spending another week studying them.

Underlining important points in the textbook

You can use this technique in conjunction with the above. While you are reading a certain chapter, underline important points and explanations. Then, use the above technique to make a list of key points. When you are revising, keep the list in your textbook, so as to be able to go over the main points alongside the explanation in the textbook. Remember, learning key phrases is not the point; rather, how they relate to the main theme of what is to be learned.

Linking up related points

In subjects, such as sociology, international relations, etc., almost all chapters are inter-related. While studying, try to discover, where they are linked and chart that out in a map. When answering questions on one chapter, you can always refer to other chapters to prove your analytical and critical reading skills.

Studying with proper breaks

I hate to shatter the popular myth, but studying for fourteen hours at a stretch will not ensure that you’ve learnt more than your friend, who only put in five hours a day. Studies show that there is an optimum level of study, which can be achieved within five to six hours per day. This is where you learn and retain the maximum from what you study. Beyond this, you will discover that you hardly retain anything, but rather suffer from mental fatigue and often hardly understand what you’re reading. The optimum number of hours that can be put into studying effectively varies for every person, but the average comes to around four to five hours a day. The best thing to do is to study for a while, then take a short break and return to your books after some time.

Learning to manage time

It goes without saying that if you have only opened your textbook a week or two before exams, you can expect to put up with a huge workload coupled with bouts of panic. However, studying something immediately after it has been covered in class will ensure that in the end, when you sit down to study for an exam, you will have with you a few mind maps and lists of important points to revise for each topic. You can then make a workable timetable, giving each subject an equal amount of time. Time must be managed throughout your academic session. Try putting in one hour of study daily, after completing your assignments, and you will have no problem managing your time, when the exam time is around the corner.

Proper means ‘proper.’

According to research, the best way to relax your mind is to engage it in various activities. Put simply, it means that lying back with your eyes closed after putting in an hour’s worth of study will definitely not relax your mind. The mind can only be relaxed, if you do something different from studying. Go to the kitchen, for instance, and fix yourself a snack, pick up a storybook for light reading or go out for a quick jog – these are proper breaks between studying that will ensure a relaxed mind, when you come back to your textbook, as well as enable you to concentrate fully on the next part of your timetable.

So, here you have it – a range of techniques to help you study in a much better way. The most important thing to remember while studying is: study is for the sake of learning. If you’re only studying for the sake of exams and good marks, then you might as well stick to the rote learning system. However, if you seriously want to learn, you’ll have to let go of the conventional techniques. When is a better time to do it than now?

Takaful: Islamic Insurance

Vol 2 -Issue 3 TakafulWhat is Takaful?

Takaful is an Arabic word that means ‘guaranteeing each other.’ It is a scheme of mutual support that provides insurance to individuals against hazards of falling into unexpected and dire needs.

Is there a need for Islamic insurance?

Yes, there definitely is a need for Islamic insurance:

  • One of the ways to reduce the risk of loss in business due to misfortunes is through insurance. The concept of insurance, where resources are pooled to help the needy, does not contradict Shariah.
  • This is not a new concept; in fact, it had been practiced by the emigrants of Makkah and the Ansar of Madinah following the migration of the Prophet (sa) over 1400 years ago. (Practices, such as A’Qila – communal assistance for killings, Hilf – mutual assistance, Tawun – self help, and Tabbaru – donation were prevalent at that time).
  • Conventional insurance involves elements of uncertainty (Al-Gharar) in the contract of insurance, gambling (Al-Maisir) as a result of the presence of uncertainty, and interest (Al-Riba) in the investment activities of the conventional insurance companies. All these contradict the Shariah. Takaful, thereby, provides an alternative.

How does Takaful run?

  1. A group of people form a pact and agree to guarantee jointly among themselves against loss or damage that may be inflicted upon any of them.
  2. A fund is set up, where every group member contributes a sum of money.
  3. Should any member or participant suffer a catastrophe or disaster, he would receive a certain sum of money or financial benefit from the fund, as defined in the pact, so as to help him meet the loss or damage.

What is Tijari Takaful?

The Takaful system can be operated within the Tijari (commercial) aspect of the private sector. Here, Takaful is based on the Islamic commercial profit-sharing principle of Mudharabah.

How does Tijari Takaful run?

  1. A group of people join to form a Takaful fund.
  2. A Takaful operator or Al-Mudharib is designated to manage the contributions to the fund.
  3. The funds are invested by the Takaful operator.
  4. The obligation to assist fellow participants financially is fulfilled.
  5. Thereafter, the profit that arises after the fulfillment of obligations is shared, according to a mutually agreed ratio.

Current practice

Theoretically, scholars suggest that the cooperative insurance can be the basis of the Islamic insurance. The model envisaged by scholars is that the management and control of a Takaful company are in the hands of the members, who are also the policyholders. The insured and the insurers are, therefore, the same people. Its main purpose is mutual security, not profit-making. However, not all companies strictly follow this recommendation. Whereas companies in Sudan follow the cooperative insurance model, companies in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region are primarily commercial in nature.

Takaful – A local form existing in Pakistan

Though not entirely conforming to Shariah laws, a local form of mutual insurance based on the principle of co-operation (Tawun) exists in Pakistan. The form is comprised of a ‘committee’ (literally, a group of people) where participants contribute a certain sum of money, and the entire pool periodically accrues to each member in turn. This total amount could be used by the participant to pay off a debt in lump sum or to cover expenses. Nevertheless, this is an informal system that does not have legal protection or cover and, therefore, is open to abuse.

Information sources:

Note: The prevalent system of Islamic banking the world over is truly not the ultimate and ideal solution. It is only a step towards creating an interest free environment to provide Muslims with an option. Much needs to be achieved keeping in view the injunctions of Quran.


Vol 2 -Issue 3 Breastfeeding

Are there any foods mothers should avoid while breastfeeding?

  1. Most babies are unaffected by the variety in mothers food, but if you feel your baby is fussy, after you eat a particular food, avoid that food. Some of such foods include: chocolate, spices, citrus fruits, the gassy veggies, and fruits with laxative effect (cherries, prunes, etc.).
  2. Too much caffeine can also affect baby’s sleep patterns. Also, if your baby has food allergy, he may be reacting to foods you eat. It’s usually something you have eaten between two and six hours prior to feeding. The most common culprits include cow milk products, soy wheat, egg, nuts, and corn.
  3. It is important to talk to your doctor, before you omit any foods from your diet, as it may cause a nutritional imbalance in your body.
  4. Cola drinks can dramatically reduce breast milk production in some mothers.

How much calcium do nursing moms need?

The calcium recommendation for nursing women is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day. It is alright to get more than the recommended dietary requirement, as long as your total daily intake is less than 2,500 mg. Try to get your calcium through food, instead of a vitamin supplement – your body will absorb it more.

One eight-ounce glass of milk contains about 300 mg of calcium. You can also get approximately 300 mg of calcium from each of the following sources:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of yoghurt
  • 1 ½ cup (4 ounces) of ice cream or frozen yoghurt
  • 1 ½ ounces of natural cheese
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of calcium-fortified (or fortified soy milk) milk
  • 2 slices of calcium-fortified bread
  • 5 oranges

How to tell if a breastfed baby is getting enough milk?

A woman’s own doubt about her milk supply is why most mothers stop breastfeeding within the first two weeks after birth. Even though you are giving enough milk to your baby, you may feel unsure.

Most newborns want to nurse eight to fifteen times a day, after the first three or four days of life. Feed your baby as often as he needs it. Some signs indicating that your baby is getting enough milk are:

  1. The baby nursing at least eight times in 24 hours for the first two to three weeks.
  2. Your breasts are being emptied and feel softer after nursing.
  3. Your baby has good colour and firm skin that bounces right back if pinched.
  4. Your baby is growing in both length and circumference.
  5. The baby wets at least eight diapers in a 24-hour period.
  6. You can hear her swallowing, while nursing.
  7. She’s passing yellowy-mustard stools or frequent dark stools.

Islam’s stance on breastfeeding

Quran states: “The mothers should suckle their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling.” (Al-Baqarah 2:233)

Dr. Ghulam Murtaza Malik, in his commentary ‘Noor alhuda’ explains that Allah (swt) has commanded Muslim women to nurse their children for the complete period of two years provided some health limitation prevents them to do so. There is medical evidence to believe that lactation also prevents women from developing breast cancer.

Besides mother’s milk is the best form of nutrition for a baby. Even formula milk manufacturers have to date not been able to produce an exact match. Mother’s milk is a miracle of Allah (swt) in itself.

Boys and Girls as Different Learners

Vol 2 -Issue 3  Boys & Girls as different learners

A common myth that lingers is that boys are better equipped for scientific genius than girls. And brain-imaging technology has proven that the brains of men and women are certainly different. Even Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist famous for her study of Albert Einstein’s brain, explained that besides the brain, men and women have dramatic differences in their eyes, noses, and ears that feed information to their brains. Yu Xie, a sociology professor at the University of Michigan, rationed that social conditions, which come into play with biological factors, enhance these differences. All in all, copious theories state the gender disparity.

However, the latest research upends the concept of male superiority in science skills. This is good news for parents, who want their daughters to become top-tier tenured science professors, researchers, engineers, etc. As parents, we need to understand and appreciate the disparity in the anatomy of the brains of our sons and daughters. This will assist us in knowing, what fundamental steps need to be taken to enhance our child’s inclination towards a particular subject be it our son or daughter. Both can be achievers, provided parents understand their gender uniqueness and especially cater to their rudimentary learning needs.

  • Amanda Ripley in her impressive article published in March, 2005, issue of “Time” explained that men’s brains are about 10% bigger than women’s brains. This difference in size is merely the same as the fact that men are approximately 8% taller than women. Size difference does not predict intellectual performance, as was once thought. Boys and girls have repeatedly performed equally well on IQ tests.
  • Men do their thinking in more focused regions of the brain, whether solving a math problem, reading a book or feeling angry or sad. Women appear to have more connections between the two brain hemispheres, so they use more parts of their brain to accomplish certain tasks. This might explain, why they tend to recover better from a stroke, since the healthy parts of their mind compensate for the injured regions.
  • Women have stronger connections between the amygdala (a deeply located part of the brain) and regions that process language and other functions. This may explain, why women can openly express their emotions, while men compartmentalize their worries and carry on. Even as toddlers, most of the little girls begin to chatter quite early and effortlessly, as compared to boys.
  • According to psychiatrist Jay Giedd who has been compiling one of the world’s largest libraries of brain growth, a girl’s brain size peaks around age 11 1/2. For the boys, the peak comes at age 14 1/2.
  • Specifically some of the brain regions involved in mechanical reasoning, visual targeting, and spatial reasoning appear to mature four to eight years earlier in boys. The parts that handle verbal fluency, handwriting, and recognizing familiar faces mature several years earlier in girls.
  • The most surprising differences lie outside the brain. “If you have a man and woman looking at the same landscape, they see totally different things,” states Leonard Sax, a physician, psychologist, and author of “Why Gender Matters”. Women can see colours and textures men cannot see, hear things men cannot hear, and smell things men cannot smell.
  • Male retina of the eye is likely to consist of more cells designed to detect motion, while female retina has more cells built to gather information on colour and texture. Now, we understand, why our little boys are fond of moving toys, such as trucks, etc. and our girls favour richly textured dolls and other colourful stuff.
  • Likewise, women’s ears are more sensitive to some noises. Baby girls hear certain ranges of sound better. And the divergence gets even bigger in adults.
  • A study published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience” in 2002 revealed that women of childbearing age were many times more sensitive to several smells upon repeated exposure than men.

Humble solutions by experts:

After thorough study, Leonard Sax of Maryland is convinced that boys and girls are innately different, and that their environment must be changed so that the differences do not become limitations. Sometimes, solutions are simple. In co-ed schools, boys, who do not hear as good as girls, do lag behind in academic performance. To solve the problem, they can simply be moved into the front row of the classroom. However, often solutions to other problems are more complex, especially, in cases involving attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder, etc.

According to the National Centre for Education Statistics, until the fourth grade in the US, boys and girls hardly show any significant differences on their math tests. Moving into their adolescence, girls score about 7% lower on the math section of SAT. For this reason, Sax offers segregated classrooms for our early and adolescent learners. According to his theory, co-ed has caused more harm than benefit. Teachers handle boys and girls in a similar manner, not understanding that their brains are maturing at different speeds. This poses two critical hurdles in the way of smooth academic progress: a) failure and  b) aversion to a particular subject (languages, social science, etc., in the case of boys, and math and analytical subjects in the case of girls).

This research aids us as parents to respect the diversity of our children. It also reminds us, how uniquely Allah (swt) has created males and females. They are not in competition but play complimentary roles to make one winning team. Allah (swt) states: “Verily, We have created man in the best stature.” (At-Tin 95:4) Although different in many ways, our boys and girls are special, and, as a principle, must never be compared with one another.

Allah (swt) also states: “… He creates what He wills. He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills.” (As-Shura 42:49) Casting aspersions, such as, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” or “Why can’t you be smart like your brother?” only counts for hiding our own parental inefficiencies and disrespects the individuality of our children.

If consistent instruction is imparted in line with the genders’ own pace of mental development, may be we will some day have a female version of Einstien and a male version of the Bronte sisters.

The Battle of Moms

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Battle of Moms

“Oh! You work full time?”

“Yes, I am a project manager for the Children’s Memorial Hospital.”

“You are missing out on your child’s most precious moments: his first step, his first words…”

“Actually, when I hear them, they are the first for me, I am not missing out. By working, I am providing better economic conditions for him.”

“That is just an excuse; you can cut down on luxuries to spend time with your child.”

This is a typical tug of war conversation between a working mom and a non-working mom (in the traditional sense, because I think that the term ‘non-working mom’ is an oxymoron). At the impending birth of my son, I suffered through countless hours of back and forth debate, whether I should quit my job or not. Eventually, I decided that my working would provide more opportunities for Bilal, my son, in the increasingly competitive world. Now, facing the birth of my second child, I am a work-from-home mom. This change of circumstances led me to analyze, which mother is better.

Basically, moms can be categorized into five groups:

  1. Working moms due to necessity;
  2. Working moms due to boredom or a feeling of inadequacy for letting go of their high profile careers;
  3. Work-from-home moms who, utilizing technology, work from their homes, and take care of their children 24/7 as well;
  4. Stay-at-home moms, who believe that they are the only ones able to provide the best care for their children and;
  5. Stay-at-home moms, with busy social lives, they hire nannies to take care of their children.

Most working moms (WM) feel that stay-at-home moms (SHM) are dull – they cannot cut it out in the big, bad corporate world and spend most of their time in beauty parlors and gyms. Conversely, most (SHM) moms feel that (WM) are robbing their children – they give their best to the workplace and have no time left for being good mothers.

The Quran (Luqman 31:14) instructs children to be good to their parents. There is also a Hadeeth in Sahih Al-Bukhari, where Abu Hurairah (rta) narrates: “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘O Prophet! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man said: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man further said: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked for the fourth time: ‘Who is next?’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Your father.'”

The logical deduction would be that a mother sacrifices much more for her child. What does ‘sacrifice’ entail? Does it mean spending 24/7 with your children, even though all you do is scream at them? Or does it mean spending quality time with them? How are we to decide? According to Heidi Murkoff, author of children’s guides, the answer is simple – the real parenting expert is YOU. Only you can decide, what is best for your child.

Ralph Gardner (New York writes: “Motherhood, for all its joys, has become a flash point for envy, resentment, and guilt. ‘Everybody struggles, and everybody envies what the other has,’ says the (SHM) of a 9- and a 14-year-old. ‘The (WM) wishes she had more free time to be available to her child, and may be have a coffee after the drop-off. And the (SHM) would maybe like to have something that’s a reflection of her as an individual – a label that says she’s a capable, creative person, who knows about more than just baby formula or after-school programs.'”

Keeping this in mind, every mom should understand that her counterpart (WM or SHM) is making the best of a situation not completely in her control. For example, if one mother quits her job, her family cannot survive, as her paycheck pays the school fees and food bills. What about a (SHM), whose husband is an ambassador, she has hired a nanny to take care of her four-year-old, because she has to plan special events and elaborate dinners, a must for her husband’s career. Should she hire a special events coordinator and spend time with her child instead? The real question is – what do you do, when you spend time with your children? Do you read to them, talk, and listen to them? Or do you just yell at them, your favorite word being ‘no’? Before you go pointing fingers at others, be sure you are giving your 110% to your children.

As kids grow up, they look to their parents as role models. I loved to tell my friends and teachers that my mom was a physician – I got envious looks. But, truth be told, I envied my friend’s life – her mom was at home, when she came from school. She had hot chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast, and her mom was always around to listen to her. She told me she would have loved to afford swimming and ice-skating lessons and to have her mom show her, how all the hospital equipment works. Most of all, she would have loved the prestige of having a mom that people respect! I guess there are pros and cons to everything; it is how you face them that make the experience positive.

Every mom needs her personal time. The (WM) gets it at work – the achievement that she is a viable human being. The (SHM) usually volunteers at charity events, helps at school, and thus makes a difference in the community. The new work from home mom (WHM), a creation of the Information Superhighway, I think has it all. She is empowered, she calls the shots, how much work she does and when she does it; quality time for family as well. We should learn to appreciate each other’s qualities. Those of us blessed with being able to spend more time with our kids – let’s cherish this opportunity, instead of wasting it on useless criticism.

Khubaib Ibn Adiy (rta)

Vol 2 -Issue 3 khubaib Ibn Adiy raHassan Ibn Thabit (rta), a poet of Islam, said about him: “He looked like a falcon among the Ansar. Allah (swt) endowed him with noble character and good morals.”

He is Khubaib Ibn Adiy (rta), one of the companions of the Prophet (sa) from the Aws tribe of Madinah. He loved the Prophet (sa) and obeyed him.

During the battle of Badr, he killed the Makkan Al-Harith Ibn Amir Ibn Nawfal. Since then, the sons of Al-Harith swore to take revenge.

Once, the Prophet (sa) sent a group of ten Muslims under Asim Ibn Thabit (rta) to learn about the plans of Makkah. When they reached Hada, a tribe called Bani Lihyan found out about them and sent a hundred men to attack them.
As the enemy approached, Asim (rta) and his companions climbed up a mountain. When they surrounded its base, Asim (rta) refused to surrender and was martyred along with the other six.
The remaining three, Khubaib (rta), Zaid Ibn Ad-Dithinnah (rta), and another companion, came down, when promised safety. But the enemy went back on their word and began tying up Khubaib and Ad-Dithinnah (rta). The third refused to be tied up and was killed.

Khubaib and Ad-Dithinnah (rta) were taken to Makkah. Ad-Dithinnah (rta) was imprisoned, tortured and later on killed.
When Khubaib (rta) sensed his captors were about to kill him, he borrowed a razor from a daughter of Al-Harith (rta) to shave his pubic hair, which is one of the Sunnah practices the Prophet (sa) had taught his compnions to do. Once, her son wandered towards Khubaib (rta) and she reported: “I saw him placing my son on his thigh and the razor was in his hand. I got scared so much that Khubaib (rta) noticed the agitation on my face and said: ‘Are you afraid that I will kill him? No, I will never do so.’ By Allah (swt), I never saw a prisoner better than Khubaib.” (Bukhari)

One day, she went to Al-Harith’s house, where Khubaib (rta) was held and said: “By Allah (swt), one day I saw him eating of a bunch of grapes in his hand, while he was chained in irons, and there was no fruit at that time in Makkah. It was a favour Allah (swt) bestowed upon Khubaib.” (Bukhari)

Finally, they took him to At-Tan’iim to be killed.
Here, he prayed two Rakahs and said to the Kuffar: “By Allah (swt), were it not for you thinking that I’m afraid of death, I would have continued praying.” Then, he lifted his hands towards the sky and said: “O Allah (swt)! Count them one by one and then perish them all!”

He then recited: “I am being martyred as a Muslim, do not mind, how I am killed in Allah (swt)’s cause, for my killing is for Allah (swt)’s sake, and if Allah (swt) wishes, He will bless the amputated parts of a torn body.” (Bukhari)
After tying him to a cross, the leader asked him: “Would you like Muhammad (sa) to be in your place, and you be healthy and secure among your kin?”
Khubaib (rta) shouted: “By Allah (swt), I would not like to be among my relatives and sons enjoying all the world’s health and well-being, while even a tiny thorn hurts the Prophet (sa).”

Then, Al-Harith’s son killed him. Khubaib (rta) thus laid the practice for Muslims to offer two Rakahs before being executed. He showed us that hard times could be changed into a golden opportunity, if we are steadfast in our faith and perfect in our actions.

Dear Haadia

Assalam o Alaekum. I am a teenager, who has a passion for drawing portraits. While drawing, I feel really close to God, because I can see how perfect God’s creation is. I have heard, however, of a Hadeeth, according to which it is a grave sin to copy Allah’s (swt) creation, and that this act may lead to Shirk, i.e., associating partners with Allah (swt). I know I will never do Shirk by worshipping the pictures that I draw. My intention and passion contradicts the ruling given in the Hadeeth. What should I do?

Walaekum Assalam. First of all, before answering your question, I would like to appreciate your spirit for knowing the truth and wanting to do the right thing. May Allah (swt) guide you and make you strong in your actions, Ameen.

As far as your question is concerned, yes, you have rightly heard about a Hadeeth, according to which it is not allowed to draw live figures. The reason given for this is that it may lead to Shirk.

We cannot ignore the experiences of history. The story of Prophet Nuh (as) tells about the very first time Shirk began in this world. Nuh’s (as) nation made images of certain pious people, as a reminder to worship Allah (swt). The next generation after Prophet Nuh (as) started worshipping those images instead and used them as mediators for reaching God. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer) Alhamdulillah, you are sure that you will never commit Shirk because of these pictures. However, a hidden Shirk that all of us can get involved in at anytime is ‘I’ – the Shirk of worshipping our own Nafs (desires). In some cases, it is believing in ourselves more than in Allah (swt) as the One, Who gives us the potential and the energy. Generally speaking, think of how portraits and paintings are praised, and artists emulated to the level of creators. This is why it is said that on the Day of Resurrection, Allah (swt) will ask the one, who drew live pictures, to breathe life into them. (Agreed upon) Secondly, if we really trust Allah (swt) as our Friend and Creator, we should obey His instructions.

Your sentiments about feeling close to Allah (swt) at the time of drawing or painting should be treasured and can be channeled through much more positive ways – for example, drawing landscapes, calligraphy, creative art minus faces. Why is drawing live figures not positive? Because Allah (swt) doesn’t look at it positively.

The Prophet reports Allah (swt) describing His relationship of love with the humankind: “Allah (swt) told him that ‘My wrath descends upon a person, who bears ill will towards my friends. And only those are blessed with My love, who implicitly carry out Fard injunctions. A person keeps on advancing in My esteem through Nafil; till I choose him as My beloved. I then become his ears by which he listens, his eye by which he sees, his hands by which he holds and his feet by which he walks (that is his hearing, sight, touch and walking pace are all in perfect accord with My injunctions, and he would never even dream of employing any part of his body in any action contrary to My commands). When such a person prays for anything, I grant it to him, and if he seeks my protection, I do protect him.'” (Bukhari)