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.