The Wedding Night

Bridal-Room-Decoration-6

The wedding night marks the beginning of a whole new kind of relationship deeper and more personal than any other relationship one will ever have, entailing a deluge of unique experiences and considerations.

Between a husband and wife, nothing remains hidden. There are no veils and no barriers, and no shameful parts. How could there be, when the husband is a garment for his wife and she for him? They are to seek comfort and tranquility in one another.

They will be able to enjoy what has always been forbidden to them. This new permissibility is a realization for the husband that this person is his wife, life-partner, and mother of his children. Consequently, his new bride deserves to be treated with the utmost care, consideration, and sensitivity from the very first moment. Therefore, the wedding night should be a night filled with tenderness, intimacy, affection, and joy. In that night, the husband should be seeking to establish ties of love and affection with his wife and placate her worries and fears about the new life she has just embarked upon, so as to ultimately feel secure and at peace with him.

Alhumdullilah, as with all aspects of life, Islam provides us with simple guidelines, which make this event meaningful and blessed for the couple.

The final disposition of things is for those of pious practice, as the Lord of the Worlds said: “As to the Righteous, they shall be amidst (cool) shades and springs (of water). And (they shall have) fruits, – all they desire. ‘Eat and drink to your heart’s content: for that which you worked (for righteousness).’ Thus do We certainly reward the Doers of Good.” (Al-Mursalat 77:41-44)

Kindness toward your wife, when you wish to enter her chamber

When one goes into his wife’s chamber on the wedding night, it is desirable to show her kindness, such as presenting her with something to drink, etc. This is found in the Hadeeth narrated by Asma’ bint Yazid Ibn As-Sakan, who said: “I beautified Aisha (rta) for Allah’s Messenger (sa), then called him to come to see her unveiled. He came, sat next to her, and brought a large cup of milk, from which he drank. Then, he offered it to Aisha (rta), but she lowered her head and felt shy. I scolded her and said to her: ‘Take from the hand of the Prophet (sa).’ She then took it and drank some. Then, the Prophet (sa) said to her: ‘Give some to your companion.’ At that point, I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (sa), rather take it yourself and drink, and then give it to me from your hand.’ He took it, drank some, and then offered it to me. I sat down and put it on my knees. Then, I began rotating it and following it with my lips, in order that I might hit the spot from which the Prophet (sa) had drunk. Then, the Prophet (sa) said about some women, who were there with me: ‘Give them some.’ But, they said: ‘We don’t want it.’ (i.e., we are not hungry). The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Do not combine hunger and fibbing!’ (Ahmad)

The husband should place his hand upon his wife’s head and offer a supplication for her

At the time of consummating the marriage with his wife or before that the husband should, place his hand on the front part of her head and mention the name of Allah (swt) Most High, and pray for Allah’s (swt) blessings. As in the statement of the Prophet: “When any of you marries a woman … he should hold her forelock, mention Allah (swt) Most High, and pray for His blessings saying: “O Allah (swt), I ask You for the good in her and the good with which You have created her, and I seek refuge in You from the evil in her and the evil with which You have created her.'” (Bukhari)

The husband and wife should offer two units of prayer together

This is an established practice of the pious predecessors, as related in the following narration: On the authority of Shaqeeq who said: “A man named Abu Hareez came and said: ‘I have married a young girl, and I am afraid that she will despise me.’ ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood said to him: ‘Verily, closeness is from Allah (swt), and hatred is from Shaitan, who wishes to make despicable that which Allah (swt) has allowed. So, when your wife comes to you, tell her to pray behind you 2 Rakat.'” In another version of the same story, “‘Abdullah went on to say: ‘And say: ‘O Allah (swt), give Your blessings on me in my wife, and to her in me. O Allah (swt), join us together as long as You join us in good, and split us apart, if You send to us that which is better.'” (Ibn Abi Shaibah and at-Tabarani and ‘Abdur-Razzaq: Saheeh)

Before cohabitation with one’s wife or husband, it is desirable to mention the name of Allah (swt)

When a Muslim man is about to enter his wife, he should always say first: “In the name of Allah (swt), O Allah (swt), keep us away from the devil, and keep the devil away from that which You may grant us (i.e., offspring).”

About this the Prophet (sa) said: “After that, if Allah (swt) decrees that they will have a child, the devil will never be able to harm that child.” (Bukhari)

What the husband should do the morning after his wedding night

The following morning, it is desirable for the husband to visit those relatives, who came and visited him to greet and pray for him and his bride. It is also desirable for them to do likewise for him, according to the following Hadeeth narrated by Anas (rta): “The Messenger of Allah (sa) gave a feast on the morning of his wedding night with Zainab (rta), at which he fed the Muslims to satisfaction on bread and meat. Then, he went out to the Mothers of the Believers (i.e., to his other wives), gave them greetings, and prayed for them, which they returned in kind. This is what he used to do on the morning after a wedding night.” (Ibn Sa’d and An-Nasai)

The prohibition of spreading bedroom secrets

It is forbidden for either the husband or the wife to spread any of the secrets of their bedroom or private relations to anyone outside. The following Hadeeth is about this: “The worst in position of all people in the estimation of Allah (swt) on the Day of Resurrection will be the man, who cohabits with his wife, or the woman, who cohabits with her husband, then either of them divulges the secret of his mate.” (Muslim)

Intimate Issues

Vol 3-Issue 2 Intimate isuuesAllah (swt) created sexuality not just for procreation but as a means to attain physical and emotional fulfillment. Sexuality must be expressed and sexual well-being must be an integral part of healthy human development. Islam, being a comprehensive way of life, guides us with the Quran and the Sunnah in this important area of our lives. Let us look at:

  • Expression of sexuality;
  • Perceptions about our bodies;
  • Sexual health education.

In Islam, sexuality is a part of our identity as human beings. Allah (swt) has distinguished us from animals by giving us reason and will – we can control behaviour that in other species is governed solely by instinct.

Although sexual relations can result in reproduction, which ensures the survival of the human race, our capacity for self-control allows us to regulate this behaviour. Also, the fact that human beings are the only creatures engaging in sexual relations beyond the physical capacity for reproduction is what sets us apart from all other species.

Concept of Marriage

The Prophet (sa) said: “Marriage is my tradition. He, who rejects my tradition, is not of me.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam encourages marriage as a socially responsible way for sexual expression and as a shield from casual relationships. The disastrous effects of non-committal intimacy on the health and emotional well-being of individuals, families, and society as a whole can be seen not just in the West but across the spectrum of the Muslim Ummah. Marriage provides space for safe intimacy “that will keep one free from diseases, infections, and dysfunctions.”

The marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and legal living arrangement. The goal is to create tenderness between two individuals and satisfy the basic human need for companionship, intimacy, physical and emotional fulfillment.

Allah (swt) says: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

“They are your garments, and you are their garments.” (Al-Baqara 2:187)

The Prophet (sa) himself, while not divulging all aspects of his own intimate life, was known for his nature of a loving husband, who was sensitive and physically demonstrative. In several Hadeeths, he speaks about the importance of foreplay and speaking in loving terms during intimacy moments. One Hadeeth advises husbands to let their wife achieve fulfillment of her desires first. Sexual dissatisfaction is considered legitimate grounds for divorce on the part of either wife or husband.

Intimacy Outside of Marriage

Allah (swt) says: “And let those, who find not the financial means for marriage, to keep themselves chaste, until Allah (swt) enriches them of His Bounty.” (An-Nur 24:33)

Extra- and pre-marital intimacy is not allowed in Islam. Allah (swt) does not simply forbid or allow behaviour whimsically – He does so considering our best interests: guiding us away from potentially destructive behaviour towards a path that allows us to achieve our utmost potential.

Allah (swt) says: “Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and courteous (to His slaves), All-Aware (of everything).” (Al-Mulk 67:14)

Modesty and Perceptions about our Bodies

The Prophet (sa) said: “Haya and Iman are two companions that go together. If one of them is lifted, the other is also lifted.” (Hakim)

Islamic perspective on sexuality, body image, and self-awareness is based on the concept of Haya, which loosely translates to modesty. Haya is usually misunderstood and regarded as a one-dimensional concept meaning shyness or bashfulness. Media rhetoric has further narrowed the vision of Muslims and non-Muslims alike into believing that Haya is a sign of backwardness or lack of confidence. When the popular slogan is, “if you have it – flaunt it,” it is inconceivable that a person would choose to be modest.

Haya is actually an inner spiritual protective device that makes a person avoid transgression and behaviour that may lead to it.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Every religion has an innate character. The character of Islam is modesty (Haya).” (Abu Dawood)

And: “From the words of the previous prophets that people still find are: ‘If you feel no Haya, then do as you wish.'” (Bukhari)

Pertaining to sexuality, the manifestation of Haya is an attitude that reflects a Muslim identity – men and women, who are confident about their bodies but choose to exercise control over their sexuality in accordance with the Quran and the Sunnah.

Islam encourages men and women to dress and behave modestly, in order to minimize unwarranted display of sexuality. This is not just for curbing extra-marital relations or suppressing women’s sexuality. The Chaddar and Chahardiwaree concept of women’s repression is totally alien to Islam.

Display of sexuality has a deep impact on the way we perceive our bodies and our sense of self. An excerpt from an article by a 17-year-old high school student from Toronto, Canada, eloquently illustrates a contemporary Islamic interpretation of modesty in dress and self image.

“The concept of the Hijab, contrary to popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment. When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. Compare this to life in today’s society — we are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewellery, hair, and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this?
Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements. It is a myth that women in today’s society are liberated. What kind of freedom can there be, when a woman cannot walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being checked out?
When I wear Hijab, I feel safe from all of this. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality.”

Sexual Identity and Homosexuality

Dostoevsky said: “Without God, everything is possible.”

Human beings are capable of many forms of sexual expression, orientation, and identification. However, to date, no researcher has claimed that genes can determine sexual orientation. At best, researchers believe that there may be a genetic component. Sexuality, like every other behaviour, is undoubtedly influenced by both biological and societal factors.

The potential for behaviour, such as homosexuality, does not mean that its practice is acceptable in the eyes of Allah (swt). We also have the potential for deviant and violent sexual behaviours, such as pedophilia and rape. However, responsible human beings do not act upon all their dormant impulses.

The argument that consenting adults can do what they please is contrary to the very essence of Islam. Submission to the will of Allah (swt) is what it means to be a Muslim. Even consenting adults need Allah’s (swt) consent in all matters. Homosexuality and other forms of sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are prohibited in Islam.

The story of Prophet Lot (as) in the Quran categorically condemns homosexuality.

So when Our Commandment came, We turned (the towns of Sodom in Palestine) upside down, and rained on them stones of baked clay, in a well-arranged manner one after another; marked from your Lord; and they are not ever far from the Zalimun (polytheists, evil-doers).” (Hud 11:82-83)

Masturbation

This method of self-gratification does not correspond with the ethos of Islamic teachings.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And those, who guard their chastity except from their wives or (the slaves) their right hand possesses – for then, they are free from blame; but whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:5-7)

A Hadeeth indicates that those, who seek sexual gratification from other than their legal partners, are transgressing set limits. Scholars interpret that this refers not only to adultery but also to masturbation. Another Hadeeth reads: “We were with the Prophet (sa), while we were young, and had no wealth whatsoever. The Prophet (sa) said: ‘O assembly of youths; whoever among you possesses the physical and financial resources to marry should do so, because it helps him guard his modesty, and whoever is unable to marry should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.'” (Muslim)

If masturbation was permissible, the Prophet (sa) would have named this as a remedy.

Sexual Health Education

In Islam, education about sexual health is not just recommended but mandatory.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Say: are those who know equal to those who know not?” (Az-Zumar 39:9)

In reading Hadeeths, one is impressed about the Prophet (sa)’s ability to discuss all issues, including those dealing with intimate matters. He was not embarrassed by such inquiries but strove to guide the Muslims who asked.

Umme Sulaim asked the Prophet (sa): “Oh Messenger of Allah (swt), Allah (swt) does not shy away from the truth. Does a woman have to make Ghusl (bath), if she has a wet dream?” The Prophet (sa) stated: “Yes, if she sees liquid.” (Bukhari)

The concept of Taharat is so comprehensive in Islam that its equivalent is not found in any other religion or culture. It loosely translates to physical and spiritual cleanliness. We cannot achieve the state of Taharat without understanding our body, its physical functions, and changes that occur at different stages of maturity. Issues relating to our psychological and emotional development alongside the physical changes are equally important to understand.

It is the responsibility of parents to prepare and educate their children about all aspects of their lives, including the intimate matters. Other responsible adults in a child’s, pre-teen’s or teenager’s life can also be involved in this learning process. Educators must keep in mind the Islamic position on issues relating to sexuality and provide age appropriate information to children at their discretion.

Salahuddin Ayyubi

Vol 3-Issue 2  Salahuddin AyyubiThe name of Salahuddin Ayyubi, also known as Saladin in the West, stirs up memories of Muslim valour, decency, and zeal to serve Allah (swt).

Salahuddin Yusuf Ibn Ayyub, was born in 1137/38 C.E. in Tikrit, Iraq, in a Kurdish family. Upon his birth, his father, Najm-ad-Din Ayyub, moved the family to Balabak, Lebanon. Here he took employment with Imad-ad-Din Zangi, the Turkish governor of northern Syria.

Salahuddin’s interest in learning the art of warfare began, when he joined his uncle, Asad-ad-Din Shirkuh, in military expeditions into Egypt to protect it against the Latin-Christians (Franks). Shirkuh was a military commander of Nureddin, who was also the son and successor of Zangi. After his death, Salahuddin became the commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fatimid Caliphate.

In 1171, he abolished the unpopular Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. For some time, Salahuddin represented Nureddin in Egypt, but upon the latter’s death in 1174, he declared himself Sultan. He ruled with a firm but just hand, brought an end to the corruption in the government ranks, and made many strides in developing the economy and public welfare.

The Spanish Muslim traveller Ibn Jubayr, in his travelogue describes a hospital that Salahuddin established in Cairo. It housed hundreds of beds for patients and a separate ward for female patients. There was a section of the hospital, with high walls, which was reserved for mental patients. The Sultan himself took keen interest in the management of the hospital and visited it often. He also built a big hospital in Alexandria, established colleges and mosques, and encouraged scholars to write on Islamic topics.

Salahuddin was a true believer in pursuing Jihad against the crusaders. Employing diplomatic tactics and a disciplined army, he first united the Muslim lands of Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt, where there had been infighting and useless rivalry among Muslims.

Having thus strengthened his forces, Salahuddin commenced Jihad against the crusaders. On July 4, 1187, he fought them at Hittin, near Tiberias in northern Palestine. The crusaders suffered huge failures and losses; and the Muslims gained almost the entire Kingdom of Jerusalem. Within three months, areas including Acre, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth, Nabulus, Jaffa, and Ascalon (Ashqelon) were also conquered. But the high point of his military endeavours was achieved on October 2, 1187, when Jerusalem surrendered to Salahuddin’s army after 88 years of the Franks’ rule.

The Christian conquerors ruthlessly massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem upon entering the city. Salahuddin’s and his army’s compassion and courtesy towards the city’s population on this occasion is recognized and applauded by Muslims and Non-Muslims up to this day.

After their defeat, the Christians gathered again to launch the Third Crusade (1189-1192), in which Salahuddin’s forces met those of King Richard I of England. In 1192, an agreement was made that allowed the crusaders to form their kingdom only along the Palestinian-Syrian coast, leaving Jerusalem under Muslim control. Salahuddin then returned to his capital, Damascus.
On March 4, 1193, Salahuddin died in Damascus after a short illness. Ibn Shaddad, one of his close companions relates: “In faith and practice, the Sultan was a devout Muslim, ever conforming to the tenets of Islam … he also performed the voluntary prayers during the night.” At the time of his death, he possessed only one dinar and 47 dirhams, not enough to cover even his burial expenses.

The Ayyubid dynasty founded by Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi continued to rule over Egypt and adjoining lands until the Mamluks took power in 1250 C.E.

Mercy during War

Image Prophet sa humourIslam did not conquer lands and enter hearts by inflicting torture, raping helpless women or killing the innocent. Indeed, 1400 years before the Geneva Convention or any other War Crimes Tribunal was formed, the Prophet (sa) and his companions (rta) displayed a great sense of mercy and justice, when dealing with the enemies of Islam, which is prominently absent nowadays. The horrific stories of savageness today put every human being on earth to shame. Tribunals and other organizations appear either feeble or ineffective in delivering justice. Looking back at Islamic history, we encounter remarkable examples of Islam’s magnanimous soldiers.

After the victorious battle of Badr, upon Prophet’s (sa) orders, a ransom was set with consideration of the financial circumstances of the captives. As a result, some poor captives were released even without ransom. Others were allowed to work for their freedom. Given that the polytheists of Makkah were literate as compared to the Muslims of Madinah, the Muslims would ask the literate Makkan captives to teach the younger generations of Madinah literacy in return for their freedom. Accordingly, they were entrusted with ten children, and as soon as the children were proficient, the prisoners were set free.

The Prophet (sa) encouraged Muslims to treat prisoners humanely, so much so that Muslim captors would give to them the most valued item in their meal-bread-and keep only dates for themselves. After the battle of Badr, the Prophet (sa) ordered to burry the dead bodies of Islam’s enemies in a dry well, rather than leave them around for birds and beasts to prey on. This he did out of respect for their dignity, as well as out of mercy for the family of the dead. On the contrary, the disbelievers mutilated the dead bodies of Muslim soldiers in the following battle of Uhud. Prophet’s (sa) uncle’s Hamza’s (rta) heart was cut out by Hind bint Utbah, Abu Sufyan’s wife, out of barbaric vengeance. Prophet (sa) simply forgave her and never avenged her even later in life, when she converted to Islam.

Another extraordinary example is of when the Prophet’s (sa) son-in-law Amr ibnul Aas (who was yet a disbeliever) was captured in Badr fighting against Muslims. The Prophet (sa) did not make any distinction between his relatives and strangers. The Prophet’s (sa) daughter Zainab (rta) sent her late mother’s Khadija’s (rta) necklace to secure the freedom of her husband Amr ibnul Aas. Though this gesture greatly saddened the Prophet (sa), reminding him of his late beloved wife.

Likewise, before the commencement of the battle of Uhud, Allah’s Messenger (sa) gave his sword to Abu Dujanah (rta). The companion demonstrated incredible valor before the enemies. As he was moving into the thick of the battle, he rushed to kill a person, who was inciting the enemy to fight the Muslims. Upon this, that person shrieked. It was a woman, Hind bint Utbah. Abu Dujanah spared her saying: “I respect the Prophet’s sword too much to use it on a woman.” Though she was actively involved in the war, a sense of compassion took over Abu Dujanah (rta), comprehending the Prophet’s (sa) merciful nature.

Once, the Jewish tribe of Bani Nadir revoked the treaty they had agreed upon with the Muslims and attempted to murder the Prophet (sa) by deception. Consequently, the Prophet (sa) and his troops lay siege on Bani Nadir’s fortresses for a considerable time. Eventually, the Jews began to despair of any help from their allies, and Huyay agreed to go into exile with his people. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) allowed them to take all the possessions that their camels could carry, except for their arms and armor, as well as safeguarded their departure from Madinah.

Bani Nadir loaded their doors and even their lintels onto their camels. As they made their way through the crowded market of Madinah, the camels were objects of wonder, both for the richness of their trapping and the wealth of their load. Women displayed garments of silk or brocade, most of them laden with ornaments of gold, rubies, emeralds, etc. Muslims permitted their enemies to march off with pride.

The battle of Mu’tah was the beginning of great Muslim conquests into the lands of Christians. It all started, when the close ally of the Roman Empire, Amr al-Ghassani, beheaded the Prophet’s (sa) messenger, Al-Harith Bin Umair (rta), while delivering a letter to the ruler of Basra. The killing of an envoy was grounds enough for Muslims to declare war. But the Prophet (sa) suggested that the Muslims invite the enemy to profess Islam first, and then, based on their response, they would decide whether to wage war or make peace.

Islam also condemns any purposeful destruction of the enemy’s property. The Prophet (sa) always ordered his army: “Fight the disbelievers in the name of Allah (swt), neither plunder nor conceal booty, kill neither children nor women, nor an ageing man, nor a hermit be killed; moreover, neither trees should be cut down nor homes demolished.” (Zad Al-Mad 2/155, Fath Al-Bari 7/511)

A translation from the Quran states: “And indeed whosoever takes revenge after he has suffered wrong, for such there is no way (of blame) against them. The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification; for such there will be a painful torment. And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah (swt).” (Ash-Shura 42:41-43)

Obeying Allah’s (swt) instructions to attain the level of Ihsan (a beautiful deed), Muslim soldiers made a great impact on the lives of many non-Muslims. Indeed, there is a famous saying: “History has never known more merciful conquerors than the Arabs.” It was this mercy that allowed Islam to relieve nations from cruelty, injustice, and barbarism and introduce a civilized way of life.

The Call Towards Allah (swt)

Vol 3-Issue 2 Dawah The call towards Allah swt“The Bedouins are the worst in disbelief and hypocrisy, and more likely to be in ignorance of the limits (Allah’s (swt) Commandments and His Legal Laws), which Allah (swt) has revealed to His Messenger. And Allah (swt) is the All-Knower, the All-Wise… And of the Bedouins there are some who believe in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, and look upon what they spend in Allah (swt)’s Cause as means of nearness to Allah (swt).” (At-Tauba 9:97 & 99)

According to Tafsir Ibn Kathir Allah (swt) states that there are disbelievers, hypocrites, and believers among the Bedouins (nomadic tribes / villagers in Arabia). He also states that the disbelief and hypocrisy of the Bedouins is worse and deeper. They are more likely to be ignorant of the commandments that Allah (swt) revealed to His Messenger (sa).

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported that the Messenger (sa) said: “He who lives in the desert becomes hard-hearted, he who follows the game becomes heedless, and he who associates with the rulers falls into Fitnah.” (Ahmad)

Similarly, once a Bedouin man gave the Prophet (sa) a gift. In return, Allah’s Messenger (sa) had to return the gift with many to satisfy the Bedouin. The Prophet (sa) said: “I almost decided not to accept a gift, except from someone from Quraish, Thaqafi, the Ansar or Daws.” (An-Nisai) This is because these people lived in cities: Makkah, Taif, Madinah, and Yemen, and therefore their conduct and manners were nicer than the hard-hearted Bedouins.

Even today, human psychology remains the same. The merciless circumstances of life turn some of the villagers into callous humans. They teach their pupils harshly and mould them into stern and heartless individuals with questionable ideologies that have no roots in Islam. Secondly, they also lack exposure to the scientific advancements and cannot portray themselves as role models for the Ummah, because of the wide gap that lies between them and the educated masses. Our children want to explore Allah’s (swt) galaxies, while some Imams from the village can talk only about cattle and rice fields.

Unfortunately, the educated urbanized society does not feel the necessity to learn and understand the Quran, to address their spiritual needs, and develop spiritual leaders with a well rounded perspective of life. Since the Quran contains pre-figured phenomenon, it cannot be understood without staying abreast with modern advancements. Allah (swt) continually invites us to read and reflect, so we can draw closer to the Creator by unveiling the hidden meanings in the Quran. It is about building relationships and not just harping on a few do’s and don’ts in Islam, like unfitting clerics with limited comprehension.

The Prophet (sa) and his companions were men of extraordinary intelligence and mannerisms. They were the crème of the society who advocated Islam. If Allah (swt) had assigned the job to the illiterate and ignorant, would Islam ever had attained its glory?

Ali Bin Abu Talib (rta) said: “The hearts of the people have desires and aptitudes; sometimes they are ready to listen and at other times they are not. Enter into people’s hearts through their aptitudes. Talk to them, when they are ready to listen, for the condition of the heart is such that if you force it to do something, it becomes blind” (Al-Kitab al-Kharaj by Abu Yusuf).

I doubt if any of the religious clerics from the rural areas are imparting Quranic knowledge with this level of wisdom and sensitivity.

If we wish to develop a balanced and self-motivated Ummah as was prevalent in the Prophet’s (sa) time, we will have to integrate our worldly contemporary education with Quranic studies. This will lead to a more capable and dynamic breed of Imams and religious scholars, who will be able to guide their people in the future, while retaining identities and roots. We can’t simply leave’s Allah (swt) message in the hands of those, who are incompetent for conveying it with sublime purity.

The State of Nafs

Vol 3-Issue 2 The state  of NafsWhen I think about meeting my Rabb (Lord) on the Day of Judgement and being asked about my actions, it occurs to me that my biggest sins, transgressions, and flat out rebellions are tied to my Nafs (whims, desires, emotions, lusts) and my ignorance.

Nafs is a powerful force influencing our actions and behaviour. For example, there are men willing to take great risks in pursuit of a woman’s sexuality-to the point, where they would be ready to jeopardize their time, money, family, children, and even their wives.

Lust for material things in life is also well known. Often times they are not necessities but indulgencies that we desire. These lusts and desires have to be seriously re-assessed with the understanding that we will be asked about them by Allah (swt) on the day, when no excuses will be accepted. We will not even be allowed to speak.

Allah (swt) says: “Then on that Day you shall be asked about the delights (you indulged in, in this world).” (At-Takathur 102:8)

“And verily, he is violent in the love of wealth.” (Al-Adiyat 100:8)

“This Day, We shall seal up their mouths, and their hands will speak to Us, and their legs will bear witness to what they used to earn.” (Ya-Sin 36:65)

According to social scientists, lusts or tastes fall into the social category. They are conditioned by the particular society that one lives in. For example, people brought up in the West have strong sentiments for freedom and individuality. Although cultures are becoming more and more global, we can still say that the value of freedom and individuality is higher in the West than in the East. The point here is that we come to like what we like based on long years of socialization or conditioning.

All of this leads me to consider the causes for my shortcomings on Yawmal Qiyamma (Day of Judgement). It is not the lack of understanding that certain actions are Haram, but it is our failure to control our lusts/desires for such actions.

Looking at our children, we see the effects of our Nafs. We desire better for our children than for ourselves. We want them to be Hafiz of the Quran, Amir of Jihad, have the Iman of Umar (rta), and show extraordinary patience in times of difficulty, as Islam demands. However, the question that we must face is – what are the effects of being conditioned by systems that are not based on Islam?

Whether we realize it or not, any system (political, social, economic, etc.) that is not based on Islam is Kufr. The entire world lives under Kufr systems – democracy, capitalism, pseudo-socialism, pseudo-Islam, etc. The ideology of Kufr is spread through textbooks, television, magazines, constitutions, advertisements, radio, schools, etc. These values and lusts are further re-enforced through other social agents, such as family members, friends, associates, and teachers.

Let us think back to when we first began to like what we like. If we think carefully and hard enough, it is the result of a particular idea given to us by someone or something (for example, radio or TV). This idea became a concept, in which we now believe and act upon.

You might be saying: “Yes, brother, this is why we need to work on ourselves.” This is certainly true, and we must make Tawbah (sincere repentance and intention not to make sins again). Yet, is it the whole truth? Working to re-socialize (defined as an intense, active process) one’s self is part of our Shahadah (testimony of faith). Our Shahadah indicates that we would not make our Nafs our God – only Allah (swt) alone is our Rabb. We must also understand that Islam has a system based on this Aqeedah (creed). When we said our Shahadah, we agreed to accept His laws and systems.

Allah (swt) says: “And so judge (you o Muhammad (sa)) among them by what Allah (swt) has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them least they turn you (O Muhammad (sa)) far away from some of that which Allah (swt) has sent down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah (swt)’s Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most of men are Fasiqun (rebellious and disobedient to Allah (swt)).” (Al-Ma’idah 5:49)

Cleary, the Arabic Ahkum baynahum bi Ma Anzala lllahu (So Ahkum (Rule or Judge) baynahum (between them) bi Ma Anzala llahu (with or by what (ma) Allah (swt) has revealed) is talking about the Quran. Our Shahadah indicated that we would live our lives according to this oath to Allah (swt). Anyone, who appreciates what socialization or conditioning builds in an individual, should yearn to be under such a system that will culture us with Islam instead of Kufr or Shirk. We should wish for our children to grow learning to lust for Jannah. Don’t we desire for our children not to have frustrations about what society tells them and what Allah (swt) has said?

Living in an Muslim society is a mercy to the Muslim, who wants to attain the mercy of his Rabb. Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah (swt), but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Would any Muslim deny that it is not a mercy to live under systems of Islam, which from the beginning condition the baby Muslim that he is not free but a slave of Allah (swt)? Who would deny this? Would we deny that it is harder to look at a woman, if she is covered by Islamic dress? Would we deny that it is easy to engage in sin under Kufr as compared to Islam?

The Islamic guidelines are a mercy from Allah (swt) for guiding us away from the Haram and towards the Halal. Remember what social scientists have said – values, whims, lusts, and desires are all social. They are created by the creeds or ideologies that the people live under. This being the case, it is clear that if we want to have good Islamic values, we must be conditioned by Islam in its entirety from the beginning.

I believe we must broaden our understanding of what it means to work on our Nafs. Our understanding should be based on the ideology and systems that feed us our thinking in the first place. Secondly, we must consider our family’s fate under systems other than Islam.

Let us work on our Nafs by bringing back the system of Allah (swt), which will be a mercy for us on the Day of Judgement. May Allah (swt) guide us in this work, forgive us our sins, and help us to desire nothing but what He desires for us, which is submission to His complete way of life.

Travel Nigeria

Vol 3-Issue 2 Travel NigeriaNigeria is an interesting unexplored paradise. A country with vibrant diverse cultures, exciting festivals, rich history, equatorial forests, clean un-spoilt beaches, exotic landscapes, cascading waterfalls, towering rocks, rolling hills, ancient caves and hospitable people.

Food

Although fast food is growing in popularity in Nigeria, most of the people prefer eating at home. Below are some of the most popular Nigerian dishes:

Obe Ata (pepper soup): this is a thick sauce made by boiling ground tomatoes, ground pepper, meat or fish, meat or fish broth (depending on whether you are using meat or fish), onions, vegetable oil or palm oil and other spices.

Obe Egusi (plain): made by grinding melon seeds and then cooking them with meat and spices. It usually ends up being yellowish-orange in colour.

Amala: dish made from yams. First, the yams are ground and dried to form a powder. This powder is then put into boiling water, and stirred / beaten, until it has a thick smooth form. The cooked product is dark brown in colour.

Shopping

Markets are the most interesting places to shop. Special purchases include Adire (patterned, indigo-dyed cloth), batiks and pottery from the Southwest, leatherwork and Kaduna cotton from the North, and carvings from the East. Designs vary greatly, many towns having their own distinctive style.

Other purchases include herbs, beadwork, basketry, etc.

Economy

Nigeria is well connected by a wide network of all-season roads, railway tracks, inland waterways, maritime and air transportation.

Nigeria’s economy could be aptly described as most promising. It is a mixed economy and accommodates all comers: individuals, corporate organizations, and government agencies that invest in almost full range of economic activities. Since 1995, the government introduced some bold economic measures, which have had a salutary effect on the economy. This they did by: halting the declining growth in the productive sectors and putting a stop to galloping inflation; reducing the debt burden; stabilizing the exchange rate of the Naira; and correcting the balance of payments disequilibria.

Festivals

New Yam Festival

New Yam Festival is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the Igbos. The individual Ibo communities each have a day for this August occasion. Invitation to the new yam festival is usually open to everyone. What this means is that there is abundant food not just for the harvesters but also for friends and well-wishers.

Arugungu Fishing Festival

This is a leading tourist attraction in the area. The festival originated in August 1934, when the late Sultan Dan Mu’azu made a historic visit. Since then, it’s become a celebrated yearly event, held between February and March.

Vast nets are cast and a wealth of fish is harvested, from giant Nile Perch to the peculiar Balloon Fish. Furthermore, there’s canoe racing, wild duck hunting, bare-handed fishing, diving competitions and, of course, swimming. The festival marks the end of the growing season and the harvest.

Tourist Attractions

Yankari National Park

This can be reached by road from Jos airport through Bauchi state route. There are species of large mammals, such as elephants, hippopotami, lions, and about 153 known species of birds, fish, reptiles, and monkeys. It is also rich in ethno-historical and archaeological attractions.

Kainji Lake National Park

It can be reached through Lokoja, from Lagos through Ibadan, Ilorin, and Jebba. The park is full of diverse wildlife. Available in the park are chalets, restaurants, conference halls, and a waterbus for lake cruising.

Gashaka Gumte National Park

This park is regarded as the most scenic of all the parks in the country. It is full of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, rivers, streams, etc. It comprises two sectors, each rich in its own unique flora and fauna species. The park contains some historic sites, one of which is the old German Fort at the Gashaka hill.

Farin Ruwa Water Falls

The Farin Ruwa Falls is one of the most spectacular natural features in Nigeria. The force of its gushing water is so torrential that from afar it could be mistaken for white smoke, which earns it the name.

Silicon Hill

This very important mineral deposit is found near the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). The hill, which is more than 300 metres above sea level and almost half a kilometre long, has silica an important raw material for the manufacture of glass.

The surrounding environment is very captivating with hills, valleys, and plains so beautifully wrapped up that one cannot ignore the breath taking views and awe inspiring blend.

The Mambilla Plateau

This is a plateau of about 1,830 metres above the sea level. It has temperate climate within the tropical region. It has an undulating landscape free of insects. One can find here temperate crops, such as the avogad’s pear, strawberries, and coffee. The popular Mambilla Tourist Centre is located at Gembu in the high land.

Wase Rock

Located in the outskirts of Wase town about 216 kilometres south-east of Jos. Available records indicate that this beautiful massive dome shaped rocky inselberg is one out of only five in the world. It is one of the very few breeding places for white pelican birds in Africa. The remarkable rock, which rises abruptly to 350 metres above the plain of Wase town is a centre of attraction for curious geographers, geologists, mountaineers, and bird watchers.

The wonders of Allah’s (swt) creations are visible aplenty in Nigeria. If one simply wishes to witness serene untouched beauty of nature and the wild life, Nigeria comes highly recommended as a promising destination.

Islam in Nigeria

Contributed by Affaf Jamal

The spread of Islam in Nigeria dates back to the eleventh century. Islam was for quite some time the religion of the court and commerce, and was spread peacefully by Muslim clerics and traders. Later, a Muslim revival took place in western Africa, in which Fulani cattle-driving people, who had adopted Islam, played a central role. The Fulani scholar Uthman dan Fodio launched a Jihad in 1804 that lasted for six years, aiming to revive and purify Islam. It united the Hausa states under Shariah law. In 1812, the Hausa dynasties became part of the Caliphate of Sokoto. The Sokoto Caliphate ended with partition in 1903 when the British incorporated it into the colony of Nigeria and the Sultan’s power was transferred to the High Commissioner. However, many aspects of the caliphate structure, including the Islamic legal system, were retained and brought forward into the colonial period. Presently, Muslims constitute 50% of the population, whereas Christianity and other indigenous beliefs constitute 40% and 10% respectively.

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception in Islam – Part I

which_method-HUBBirth control or contraception, is any method used to prevent pregnancy. It is an often taboo; and controversial topic. Myths related to all ‘gynea’ issues are perpetuated among women! What the gynecologist doesn’t tell us, we seldom ask.

There are two positions regarding birth control in our society. One is completely or partially ignorant about related issues; the other is involved in predominantly western-inspired debates about women’s fertility rights. One considers mere mention of birth control as sacrilege and Haram; the other propagates campaigns driven by population control theories usually promoted by international NGOs. The result is a mostly blurred picture.

Our Deen asks for a rational middle direction. Contraception is not prohibited in Islam. It is permissible as long as it is reversible and doesn’t involve termination of pregnancy.

During the Prophet’s (sa) time the withdrawal method (known as Azl) was used, as is evident in several Hadiths.

Jabir Ibn Abd Allah (rta), the notable companion of the Prophet (sa) relates: “We used to engage in `Azl’ while the Quran was being revealed. Had it been something that was interdicted, the Quran would have forbidden it.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) basic response, regarding the lawfulness of the practice was that individuals may do as they will, but if Allah (swt) intends for a child to be born she/he will be.

By correlation general acceptance of the Azl can be expanded to include most modern forms of birth control.

Imam Ghazali in his “Ihya’ Ulum al-Din” lists a number of legitimate reasons for practicing contraception: financial difficulty; emotional or psychological hardship of having many children; and even the preservation of beauty and health.

Faraz Rabbani (Sunnipath.com) sums up: “Contemporary Fuqaha state that contraception is permitted, if the husband and wife agree, as there is nothing in the Quran or Sunnah to prohibit it; rather, the Hadiths and practice of the companions of the Prophet (sa) indicate permissibility. This is said by jurists across the schools of Islamic law. Even jurists, who stated that it is disliked, mentioned that if there is a sound reason or benefit to engage in contraception, then it is not disliked. In our times, this would include reasons, such as having a manageable family size, when one does not have the support of extended families in raising the children; the desire to give the children the attention, education, and support they need in difficult times; genuine (physical or emotional) health reasons, and so on.”

The permissibility of contraception does not in any way contradict the Quran’s and Sunnah’s encouragement for procreation. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Marry and multiply.” (Abu Dawood and Nasai)

Keeping the ethos of Islam in mind, it is clear what contraception is not meant for. Easing ‘safe-sex’ outside of marriage. Population control. Blurring the lines between preventing pregnancy and abortion.

Islam believes that every individual’s right to life is a basic human right. Hence, the life of a fetus is sacred. Abortion is allowed only under extreme circumstances, such as when the mother’s life is endangered.

Are the birth control methods available to us today preventing pregnancy or taking a human life? We must analyze them. First, how is a human being made? Only then can we fully comprehend why certain methods of birth control are prohibited in Islam.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Thereafter We made him (offspring of Adam) as a Nutfah (and lodged it) in a safe lodging (womb). Then We made the Nutfah into a clot, then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allah (swt), the Best of Creators.” (Al Muminun 23:13-14) (See also Al Hajj 22:5)

1400 years after Allah (swt) revealed to us His process of creation, science sheds light on it.

A woman’s ovary releases an egg every month, a process called ovulation. During this time, if a father’s sperm (released from his testes during intercourse) finds this egg in the fallopian tube of the mother, they fuse. This is called fertilization – the formation of a Nutfah.

After fertilization, the Nutfah burrows into the lining of the uterus: its safe lodging. This is implantation. Allah’s (swt) wonder is such that after ovulation hormones prepare the lining of the uterus to receive and nourish the egg, if fertilized and implanted.

Securely implanted, the outer cells of the Nutfah start connecting with the mother’s blood vessels to form the placenta. Then with Allah’s (swt) will, the process of creation continues till the baby is ready to be born after nine months.

When exactly does this mother’s egg and father’s sperm become another human being?

Dr Diane N. Irving, a Canadian human embryologist, gives scientific evidence for when life begins. “Before fertilization, the egg and sperm each have only 23 chromosomes. They possess ‘human life,’ since they are parts of a living human being; but they are not each whole living human beings themselves. They do not have 46 chromosomes -the number necessary and characteristic for a single individual member of the human species. The fusion of the sperm (with 23 chromosomes) and the egg (with 23 chromosomes) at fertilization results in a live human being, a single-cell human zygote with 46 chromosomes.”

She rejects the claims that “the product of fertilization is simply a ‘blob,’ a ‘bunch of cells’, a ‘piece of the mother’s tissues, etc.’

The commonly used term, ‘fertilized egg,’ is especially misleading, since there no longer is an egg, once fertilization has begun. What is being called a ‘fertilized egg’ is not an egg but a human being.

Any method of birth control that destroys the Nutfah at any stage of its development is prohibited in Islam, because it is akin to taking a human life.

Insha’Allah, in the next issue we shall analyze contraception options available today and their permissibility for Muslims.

Noting Down Lectures

Hafsa Ahsan discusses the art of taking notes during lectures

Lectures given by different teachers through the course of the semester hold a lot of importance. The vitality of these lectures lies in the fact that out of a broad based topic, it is only the lecture given in the class that determines the specific aspects you have to pay special attention to.

Now let’s be a little realistic here. Most of us would like to believe that our memories are extremely good, and that the main points in a lecture will be permanently etched in our brain the whole year around. Unfortunately, while this may be true for a very few people, it isn’t for the majority. As the semester proceeds and you cover a diverse range of topics, it is more than likely that you will forget what you learnt at the beginning of the semester.

This is where noting down lectures comes in handy. By noting down I don’t really mean that you act as a typewriter for your teacher, but that you jot down important points as reminders, so that at the end of the semester you know how to approach that specific topic when studying for exams.

When we talk of different skills related to studying, there are certain techniques for noting down lectures. The following pointers will definitely help you out in this area:

Keep a separate register for every subject

Now I know those of you, who have around five to eight classes per day, can’t manage such a load, especially if you have to take your textbooks along as well. The key is to either keep a thin register or college notebook of around 60 pages or, if that’s not possible, divide one register and use it for two subjects.

The reason behind this pointer is that it becomes very easy and convenient at the end of the day, if you have all your subject lectures in one place, instead of scattered around in two or more registers. Plus, it happens sometimes that teachers leave a topic unfinished at the end of the class hour. Then, when the topic is continued in the next class and you are using one register for all your subjects, things fall in place; but if you are using the same register for many, then it will only add to the confusion.

Write in short hand

I know I shouldn’t really write this, since this is a generally known fact. However, I have seen many people write full sentences, when they are taking down lectures, and because of this they miss out on a lot. When you’re writing down the lecture, use the same language that you do when sending an SMS or chatting.

Write phrases, not sentences

This follows from the above point. You shouldn’t be writing sentences, when you’re taking down lectures. For instance, the teacher says: “There are three states of matter. Number one is solids, number two is liquids, and number three is gases.” If you’re an astute note taker, then what you write should resemble this: 3 states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. The trick is to listen to the whole sentence of the teacher and then note it down in a phrase.

Make appropriate headings and subheadings

One of the most amusing things I have come across is that when the lecture is written in an essay-type or linear form; the notes made later out of those lectures are decorated with headings. Headings and subheadings are supposed to be made distinctly, when you are noting down the lecture and not later. Whenever the teacher mentions what she will be teaching that day, note it as a heading. Number your headings and subheadings clearly. Remember, you can always sort them out, rearrange, and renumber them later.

Leave spaces

It wouldn’t do to economize on the space in your register. It sometimes happens that you have no time to fair out your lectures. The best approach is to note down your lectures in a way that even if you don’t make separate notes, you can easily revise a topic from your lecture. That isn’t to say that you rely only on your lecture, but that you use it as a revision tool. And for that you must leave ample of space between the different headings, subheadings and points. Also leave spaces, if you are unsure of a point or you have missed a point.

Rely on your own lecture notes

Now you may think that noting lectures is one of the most boring activities in class, and you’d rather spend the time chatting with your friends and take the register of some other student later on for photocopying the stuff. But I will strongly advise you against such a shortcut. Firstly, something that you have written yourself will be easy for you to comprehend. Secondly, if the student who lends you the register has written in shorthand (and each student has his / her shorthand), it will take you ages to decipher what is written. And thirdly, what if she / he has written something you understand perfectly and skipped something you don’t (may be because she/he understood that part and didn’t feel the need to write it down?). So, instead of taking shortcuts, note down your own lectures and rely on them only.

I know most of the above was almost like stating the obvious. But it wouldn’t hurt to revise all this and keep some of these in mind, when you attend your next class. Happy note taking!

Five Successful Secrets of Travelling with a Child

Vol 3-Issue 2   5 Successfull secrets of travelling

If you’re a new parent, learning how to travel with a child, these tips can make the difference between a pleasant experience and an unpleasant one.

Be flexible

Keep your itinerary simple. Keeping too many activities can over stimulate your children. They get bored sightseeing for long periods of time and prefer being able to run around and explore at their own energetic pace.

Pick a family-friendly destination

Choose a relaxing child-friendly destination, such as a nature resort or beach, and skip the crowded, over-stimulating tourist destinations. Look for hotels that let kids stay free in their parents’ rooms and provide free meals within the price of the room.

Bring water and plenty of snacks

A bag of snacks and a water bottle are critical components of any trip. Children can get dehydrated during a flight, and toddlers can’t always wait for food service. Pack your child’s bag carefully with simple snacks such as fruits, small juice cartons or cookies. Pack extra diapers and clothes as well as toys to keep them entertained.

Plan frequent rest stops

If you’re driving, break up your trip, so your kids can stretch and run around to blow off some pent up energy. End your driving day early, so all of you have time to unwind after a long day on the road.

Think safety

If you’re taking a road trip, make sure your baby’s car seat is properly secured and use window shades to keep the sun off. Put a small card with identification information in your child’s pockets, just in case you get separated.

Special Alert!

“Travel teaches toleration,” said Disraeli. Especially nowadays, as our lives are greatly controlled by machines and their moods. Air travel, for instance, brings long queues of security checks at the airport, delayed or cancelled flights, and endless hours of commuting on the ground as well. Don’t be shocked to discover that the person sitting right next to you in the plane is allergic to kids. You may be greeted with frowns and cold stares every time your little one decides to brawl or toss everything around him.

Robert Benchley said: “There are two classes of travel – first class or with children” Traveling can be a test of nerves for those with young kids and a perfect, fool proof vacation in mind! Just remember, with kids nothing is fool proof. They can surprise you in seconds. Don’t forget that only one of you can throw a tantrum at a time, either the kids or the parents. Since the kids are at a greater risk of short circuits every now and then, it is highly recommended that parents behave themselves, so they may be able to mange their kids with sanity and patience, and enjoy their getaway. Bon voyage!

From Childhood to Adulthood

transitionFor young Muslim adults, puberty entails not only physical change but a host of social changes as well. No longer innocent children, developing adults are expected to be more conscious of their clothing, gaze, and even his social etiquettes. Suddenly finding themselves confronted with a list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ can be overwhelming and confusing. As parents, we can make this easier for our adults-to-be by making them aware of these protocols, long before their transition to adulthood begins. The following are a few tips towards this.

Knock, Knock

As the Quran and the Sunnah are our guides to life, the best advice is found within them. Allah (swt) has instructed us to teach our children to ask permission before entering their parents’ rooms on three occasions: before Fajr prayer, at noon (when their parents are resting), and after Isha prayer (An-Nur 24: 58). These times have been described as the times of privacy for parents.

Aurah Awareness

Make your child aware of his body parts, which will be considered his Aurah (the parts of the body Allah (swt) has forbidden to keep unclothed in front of others). Explain that no one should be allowed to see or touch them there, with the exception of those responsible for helping them in the bathroom, and with dressing and undressing. Insha’Allah (swt), this awareness will protect your child from being vulnerable to abuse. Emphasize that his/her body is special and not a source of shame, and that as a result Allah (swt) wants him to take special care of it.

Dress for Success

From a young age, dress your kids in clothing, which covers the Aurah, so that they get accustomed to avoiding very short and tight fitting clothing. Do allow them to choose what they’d like to wear, but make sure the options are those you approve of. This will, Insha’Allah, help avoid conflict, when the child is ready to buy his own clothing. Though there is no need to enforce Hijab on little girls, do encourage them, if they wish to cover their hair like their mommies. Telling them that they should enjoy their ‘freedom’ while still young can breed contempt for the Hijab.

Bed

Our Prophet (sa) has instructed to put our children in separate beds by the age of 10. (Abu Dawood) As puberty arrives soon after this age, this will make the child feel less awkward around his siblings, Insha’Allah.

Ghusl

Just as you would teach your child to bathe, make it a point to also teach him/her, how to make Ghusl. The Prophet (sa) said: “Ghusl (taking a bath) on Friday is compulsory for every Muslim reaching the age of puberty.” (Bukhari) Make Fridays special; a day to do Ghusl, wear clean clothes, and pray in Jamah (at a Masjid when possible).

Value Your Values

Teach your precious ones Islamic values, “Parents are going to have to sit down and explain their values to their own children. And this needs to start young, before society influences them,” says Marilyn Morris, who is president and founder of Aim for Success (USA). This is one of the largest organizations promoting abstinence from sex to students in grades 6 to 12.

It is necessary that parents model, what they expect from their kids, and accordingly avoid watching and reading material they want their kids to avoid. “Being careful themselves about what they (the parents) watch on TV or what movies they go to see is crucial,” Morris explains, “because that’s a bad influence on us at any age. And if our children see us doing it why shouldn’t they as well?” Bring your children, together with other children whose parents share your values, so that they all feel a part of a group. Insha’Allah this will also help reinforce what you teach them.

Honesty: The Best Policy

Children are very observant and will question every person’s actions, especially yours! Keeping your child’s age in mind, satisfy queries honestly. For example, when mommy does not pray during some part of the month, explain that this is a time, when Allah (swt) has excused her from doing so.

Let Allah (swt) be Your Guide

As always when explaining anything to your children, do make a point that the physical changes they will face have been put forward by Allah (swt). Refer to passages in the Qur’an and the Ahadeeth, not only to point out the protocols they must follow, but also highlight the rewards bestowed by Allah (swt) on those, who follow His commands. Furthermore, point out that though they will find many people, even among their peers, who may act contrary to these commands (keeping a beard, wearing Hijab, etc.), following Allah’s (swt) will is the best way to do things.

Insha’Allah the above tips will help you gently steer your children towards assuming Islamic etiquettes necessary for adulthood, and will eventually help them to guide their own little ones in the future, too.

Mind Your Mehrums

Allah (swt) has commanded: ” …Women not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s sons, their sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s son’s or their (Muslim) women (sister’s in Islam) or the (female) slaves, whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigor, or small children, who have no sense of shame of sex…” (An-Nur 24: 31)

Explain to your little ones that Allah (swt) has made a special circle, which consists of your child and his Mehrums. Point out these people and their relationship with your child. For a girl, the above circle of special people are those, whose company she may enjoy, even when she’s all grown up. No matter how old, a boy may share the company of those to whose Mehrum circle he belongs.

Simply Friends

Vol 3-Issue 2  Simply friendsBy Umm Isam and Dr. Sadaf Sheikh

Stepping out of an all-girls college, I entered the corporate world, which was not segregated. Alhumdulillah, I did a great job. I felt the myth of “girls going to co-ed are the confident ones” dissolve. I was never under-confident or threatened by any male (who were definitely the dominating work force) in spite of having no prior experience of working along with them.

There was, however, one thing common in almost all of my male colleagues. Deliberately or unintentionally they would grab the first chance they could to joke, flirt, play a super hero, try to impress, etc. Obviously, the co-working girls giggled and enjoyed all the attention (negative or positive) that came their way. Nobody was going out with no one, but the vibes or chemistry still existed even among good friends. This reminded me of the popular sitcom “Friends” – in spite of being casual buddies, there remained a cross connection among each and every one of the characters.

No matter how much we may hate chemistry, the only chemistry we are pulled towards as normal human beings is the boy-and-girl chemistry shown in movies, described in books and so on. It is natural, because Allah (swt) has wired the male and female bodies this way. They are meant to attract each other. So all such excuses as ‘we are simply friends,’ or ‘just a gang hanging out together,’ or ‘strictly working professionals’ is more of a self-deceptive game that we play with ourselves.

A teenager going to one of the most reputed co-ed schools of Karachi shared with me: “When girls from other schools come to our campus for their exams, you can tell that they have gone to extra length in dressing up to be noticed by boys.”

What happens, when a boy and a girl meet? Dr. Sadaf Sheikh reports a story from BBC News (2003) about how male sex hormones get easily triggered.

Scientists have proved that even the most seemingly innocent chat with a woman can be enough to send male sex hormones soaring. A team from the University of Chicago paid students to come into their lab under the pretence of testing their saliva chemistry. While there, the students got to chat to a young female research assistant. Saliva tests showed that the brief interaction was enough to raise testosterone levels by as much as 30%. The more a man’s hormone level shot up, the more attractive he later admitted the research assistant to be. The research assistant herself was also able to identify the men, who found her attractive. The men, whom she judged to be doing the most to impress her, proved to be those, who registered the biggest jump in testosterone levels.
However, little or no change was detected in the saliva of students, who chatted with other men.
Testosterone, a male sex hormone, has long been closely linked with the male libido. The researchers say their work is the first time that hard evidence has been produced about it. It is known that the release of testosterone in animals can embolden them, triggering courtship or aggressive behaviour. The Chicago team believes the same may be true about humans.
Dr. Nick Neave from the Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at Northumbria University said the study was very interesting. “Other researchers have found changes in male hormone levels after watching erotic movies, but this seems to be the first study attempting to assess hormone changes, when males meet women on a more ‘normal’ level.”
Dr. Benjamin Campbell, an anthropology expert at Boston University, said it was possible that testosterone made men bolder by suppressing activity in an area of the brain called the amygdala, which controls the stress reaction. Testosterone levels peak in a man by his early twenties, and then gradually diminish. Men, who are married or engaged in long-term relationships, have lower testosterone levels than those still playing in the field.
This research was published in the journal “Evolution and Human Behaviour.”

Now, this was the scientific explanation about the Hadeeth of Allah (swt)’s Apostle (sa): “A man should not be secluded with a woman except with a Mahram (guardian).” (Muslim)

The skipping of your heartbeat, sweating of your palms, giggling, babbling, blushing, or hitting around playfully are just some signs of your attraction towards the opposite sex. Understandingly, close interactions between the opposite sexes in solitude or in a confined environment are thus discouraged in Islam. This is not because Islam belongs to the medieval times, but because men and women have not changed since Adam (as) and Hawwa (as) and will continue to behave the same till the very last soul Allah (swt) will send to this world.

The Prophet (sa) also said: “A man should not be alone with a woman, for verily Satan makes a third” (Muslim). This is mainly for protecting both sexes and preventing the possibility of any evil that may come thereof. Infatuations, misunderstandings, broken hearts, and illicit relations are just to name a few.

Since nowadays the society encourages a mixed culture, unfortunately, it may be difficult at times for one to adhere to the Islamic principles. In this case we need to act with caution, care, distance, and poise. Your mannerisms are sufficient to signal to others that you are not interested in the simple friendship proposition. You will only interact with others for business in a decent manner, whether it is in college, at work or in the marketplace. There should be no under-currents, hidden messages or misleading behaviour.

Allah (swt) has given a code of conduct to the believing men and women: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah (swt) is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornments except only that which is apparent (like both eyes or palms of hands, etc.).” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Save the special friendship for your spouse-to-be and opt out of simple friendships with many. It’s time to pay attention to our self-dignity and not to the fools around us.

Julaybib (rta) – The Diamond in the Rough

Vol 3-Issue 2 Julaybib RASome day a new child will come to school, who looks a bit strange; he may walk funny or talk with an odd voice. All your friends will ignore him; nobody wants to be seen with him. You don’t know, why you don’t like him. But before you decide to stay away from him, just think you may be overlooking something extraordinary about him.

Long time ago in Madinah, there lived Julaybib (rta). He was short and ugly, no one knew what his name really was, and he had no family. Since he was small like a Jilbab (small gown), people called him Julaybib. Most men made fun of him and teased him, so he stayed away from them and kept close to women, who were nicer to him.

When our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) migrated to Madinah, Julaybib (rta) became one of his friends. Our Prophet (sa) gave him the help, confidence, and encouragement he needed. He loved him and could see beyond Julaybib’s (rta) deformed physique the beauty within.

One day, the Prophet (sa) suggested Julaybib (rta) to get married. Knowing that he was considered an outcast by society, Julaybib (rta) wondered, who would give him his daughter. Our Prophet (sa) decided to choose Julaybib’s (rta) bride himself, and approached an Ansar for his daughter. The girl’s parents were shocked by the very thought, how could they marry their daughter to such a creature? No way!

On overhearing their discussion, their daughter was upset too but for another reason. “Do you refuse the request of the Messenger of Allah (sa)? Send me to him (Julaybib), for he shall certainly not bring ruin to me. I am satisfied and submit myself to whatever the Messenger of God (sa) deems good for me.” This young woman was a true Muslim. She remembered that Allah (swt) had said: “Now whenever God and His Messenger have decided a matter, it is not for a believing man or believing woman to claim freedom of choice in so far as they themselves are concerned. And he, who disobeys Allah (swt) and His Prophet, has already, most obviously, gone astray.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

Thus, she obeyed her Prophet (sa) and married Julaybib (rta); they lived together till he was killed.

Julaybib’s (rta) death, was that of honour. He was martyred during one of the battles against the Kuffar. Our Prophet (sa) himself noticed him missing among the martyrs and asked his companions to look for his body. They found him near the seven people he had killed, before being martyred. The Prophet (sa) gathered him in his arms and praising his heroism said: “He killed seven and then was killed? This (man) is of me and I am of him.” The Prophet (sa) repeated this two or three times.

Subhan’Allah! Such a tribute! Who wouldn’t like to be amongst those beloved to Rasul’Allah (sa), the one who is loved by Allah (swt) Himself? Then the Prophet (sa) dug Julaybib’s (rta) grave with his own hands and laid him in it himself.

So next time you meet someone, who seems odd, give him a chance – get to know him. It may be he has something special hidden within him, which just needs your help and encouragement to bloom.

Age of Cross-Dressing

Kehkashan Khalid cautions us against being indifferent to the trend of cross- dressing

The term ‘cross-dressing’ has been described as transvestism in ‘The Oxford Dictionary.’ The term transvestism is further described as dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex as a form of psychological abnormality. Probably because this is the first step towards an individual’s confusion regarding his own gender and identity. This further leads to complex issues of his / her role and responsibilities in the society.

No wonder more than fourteen hundred years ago the Prophet (sa) stated that men, who dress up as women, or women, who dress up as men, will be cursed (Bukhari). At that time, it was probably hard for his people to understand, how this could be possible. Now we see it happening all around us – women cut their hair so short that it is practically plastered to their scalps and go out to work in factories, dressed in jeans and shorts.

Alternately, men appear more and more feminine, with shaven beards, their hair growing way past their shoulders, their faces made up, and their bodies adorned with gold. Men salons mushrooming everywhere are a key indicating factor of how conscious today’s man has really become of his appearance. Gone are the days of rough and tough and rugged to the skin macho image. Now men want to boost a neat and suave look no matter how feminine it may appear.

So walking into clothing store, we see women’s embroidered Kurtis in the men’s section, because some men want to wear them. Moreover, a cable channel in our very own country airs a man dressed in a pink and gold Sari, hosting a local television show, as if perfectly normal. This novel idea is supposed to be a big hit and considered to be a trend setter.

The West aids us in the assimilation of such newfound ideas. In the movie “Lilo and Stitch” an alien, who is shown as being the more sensible and concerned one, is gay. Time and again he dons colorful wigs and frivolous makeup, and is shown as being the good-guy. Furthermore, the concept of cross-dressing is now being introduced in books that children read at school, so that they grow up without prejudice towards such people. Children are meant to understand that these people will be allowed to do as they wish because in these ‘modern’ times we believe in ‘liberty.’

The Western culture has infiltrated our minds, upset our religious values, and opened new channels for supposedly ‘broadening’ our minds so much that we respond to their call like sheep following the shepherd’s cry, unable to decide for ourselves.

The parable of those who reject faith is as if one were to shout like a goat herd to things, that listen nothing, but calls and cries; deaf, dumb and blind, they are void of wisdom.

For those, who reject faith, the highest wisdom and most salutary regulations are lost. They are like ‘dumb driven cattle’ that merely hear calls but cannot distinguish intelligently between shades of meaning or subtle differences of values.

A law in the West states that two men may marry each other and for their convenience will be pronounced ‘partners,’ rather than the customary ‘husband and wife.’ Are we blindly going to incorporate this change into our lives, too?

Of course, it is sad that the West does not know, how truly rewarding it is to follow a way of life, which is as well laid out and clear as Islam. But isn’t it an even greater pity that those, who know the truth about Islam’s beauty, do not chose to adhere to it either?

Dear Haadia

Question: I am a 14-year-old boy. Can I keep a girlfriend?

Answer: Dear brother in Islam, firstly let me commend the fact you have raised a question which shall Insha’Allah (swt) benefit many others in a similar dilemma. It is important to constantly measure our way of life against Islamic standards, as the future of Islam lies in the hands of our youth.

We need to understand that family life is a sacred institution in Islam; in fact, Islam has regulated the relationship between men and women and laid its foundation on chastity and decency. Allah (swt) tells us: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts. That is purer for them.” (An-Nur 24:30). Furthermore: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze…..and not reveal their adornment except to their husband’s, their father’s, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons or their sister’s sons.” (An-Nur 24:31)

In light of this beautiful Ayah, every Muslim is committed to modesty and to avoid deliberately arousing sexual feelings outside marriage.

On the other hand, the West has tried to convince us that having girlfriends or boyfriends is perfectly natural. Let me ask you, what would your feelings be if your sister told you that she is the girlfriend of some boy?

Moreover the Western practice of dating is forbidden in Islam, Muslim boys are not allowed to go out with girls before marriage, as aren’t Muslim girls. Dating is not approved of in Islam, as it may lead to unlawful intimacy, i.e. adultery. Allah (swt) tells us in the Quran: “And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.” (Al-Isra 17:32) Not only should adultery be avoided, but any approach or temptation leading to it should be avoided. Therefore Islam leaves no avenue open for illegal sexual relations, and it puts a bar on wrong thoughts and sexual feelings that may arise within a boy and girl when they are alone.

We also learn a Muslim boy and girl should be chaste before marriage. Therefore as Muslims, we cannot justify romantic liaisons or girlfriend/boyfriend relations, and to re-emphasize, this might lead to an illegitimate relationship, which is one of the worst sins by Islamic standards.

Where boys and girls have no choice but to work together, they should maintain a physical distance from each other and lower their gaze, while limiting conversations to business or academic matters only.

Please remember, a Muslim girl takes pride in her chastity and honour, and a Muslim boy respects and admires a girl, who is chaste and virtuous. Similarly, a Muslim girl admires a boy, who is honorable and chaste, and will be able to take on the responsibility of a family.

Your heart is at a tender age. If you are serious about a girl, then accept her with all the responsibilities and take the option of marriage, as Muslims are encouraged to get married as soon as they are mature enough and have the means to do so. So why opt for immoral options?

To continue your quest for the truth, there are lectures every Friday at 8 p.m. (14, Khayaban-e-Sehar, Phase 6, DHA), which you may attend.

Lastly, a beautiful word of advice was given by Ibrahim (as) to his sons: “O my sons! Allah (swt) has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the Faith of Islam (as Muslims).” (Al-Baqarah 2:132)

He emphasized to them that the primary most essential goal of their lives was to be true to their faith, which Allah (swt), their Lord, had appointed for them, and not to die, except in a state of surrender to Him. May Allah (swt) guide and help you follow His advice. Ameen.