Expect More!

Ayesha Nasir narrates how some of the teen attractions in this world will find expression in Jannah.

As a child, I was always fascinated by the descriptions of Jannah my parents presented before me. I underwent a thrill thinking of this unknown realm, which I had yet to discover – a land more beautiful than the pictures in my storybooks.

The Quran speaks a lot regarding the pleasures of today and compares them to those of the Hereafter. “And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them (polytheists and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), the splendour of the life of this world that We may test them thereby. But the provision (good reward in the Hereafter) of your Lord is better and more lasting.” (Ta-Ha 20:131)

The joys of this world are nothing compared to those of Jannah. The Prophet (sa) said: “A space the size of a whip in Paradise is better than this world and all that is in it.” (Bukhari)


The dwellers of Jannah will have companions with them. There will be no need for worrying about marriage – a dilemma that the youth of today constantly faces. Instead, Allah (swt) will assign His servants the best of partners. “They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones.” (Yasin 36:56)

The Prophet (sa) described the women of Jannah very beautifully: “If one of the women of Paradise were to look at the people of this world, everything in between them would be lit up and filled with her fragrance. The veil on her head is better than this world and everything in it.” (Bukhari)

No Brands Needed

Our world has much to offer, but Jannah has in store the unimaginable. Today, we dress with the labels of our time, with the best clothing that money can offer and with the comfort of wearing decent clothes. Unfortunately, today we are judged by the clothes we put on. In Jannah, there will be nothing of this sort. The clothing of its inhabitants is from silk and gold of the finest quality.

Muslim teenagers undergo a lot of stress because of the accessories they have. Today’s ‘normal’ teen has lots of makeup to put on and lots of glam to portray.

A dweller of Jannah, be it a man or a woman, does not have to worry about such things. The dweller’s mind is free from complexes and confusions. The believers are so pure that they do not need gold or silver to be adorned, though there will be enough of these in the hereafter. “They will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk.” (Al-Hajj 22:23)

No Aging

I laugh at the creams, which claim to remove your wrinkles and make you look younger. In Jannah, there will be no need of hiding your age, because everyone will be in the prime of their youth. Describing the dweller of Jannah, the Prophet (sa) says: “He will remain there forever and never die; his clothes will never wear out, and his youth will never fade”. (Bukhari)

The faces of the inhabitants of Jannah will be like the image of the moon. There will be tranquility in their expressions, and Noor pouring from them as they speak.

Food and Shelter for All

For the person, who worries about his job, family and future – there is nothing of that sort to worry about in Jannah. There is shelter for all believers, food for everyone and, most importantly, a place in Jannah, for those who strive for it.

“But those who fear Allah and keep their duty to their Lord (Allah), for them are built lofty rooms; one above another under which rivers flow (i.e. Paradise). (This is) the Promise of Allah: and Allah does not fail in (His) Promise.” (Az-Zumar 39:20)

The dwellers of Jannah will have food far more delicious than anything we have ever tasted. “Trays of gold and cups will be passed round them, (there will be) therein all that the one’s inner-selves could desire, all that the eyes could delight in, and you will abide therein forever.” (Az-Zukhruf 43:71) 

No Worldly Fears

We often worry about the results we would get of all the hard work we do. We worry whether the teacher will mark the assignment well, or whether the boss will find our report satisfactory.

These are trivial things, if we look at it from a different perspective. In Jannah, you will be in eternal bliss, because you have achieved the purpose of your being – attaining Allah’s (swt) pleasure.

“…and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success.” (An-Nisa 4:13)

Jannah is free from all the disappointments and fears we face in this world. The Lord will be in control of everything. There will the sense of security and belonging.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And We shall remove from their breasts any deep feeling of bitterness (that they may have). (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones.” (Al-Hijr 15:47)

Meeting of the Dwellers

What fascinates me most is that the believers will meet those that went before them – those that they only heard about: the Sahabahs, the Prophet (sa) and, most importantly, Allah (swt).

Imagine the exultant joy of the believers, when they will finally meet their Lord! Imagine the tears that will pour out of their eyes and the awe that will confound them. Allah (swt) clearly states: “Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah (shining and radiant). Looking at their Lord (Allah).” (Al-Qiyamah 75:22-23)


What Allah (swt) has kept hidden from us (the delights of Paradise) is beyond our ability to comprehend; the Prophet (sa) said that Allah (swt) said: “I have prepared for My slaves what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart can imagine.” (Bukhari)

The Prophet (sa) compared this earth with the Hereafter: “By Allah, this world in comparison with the Hereafter is nothing more than as if one of you put his finger (and he motioned with his forefinger) in the sea; let him see, how much water he would retrieve.” (Muslim)

The pleasures of this world are temporary and will fade away. This life is like a lonely boat caught in a storm – it has no idea where to go; there is no shore for it to land on. One day, the storms will engulf it, and it will fade from the face of the earth as a mere junk of wood. Whereas the Hereafter is like the arrival of this boat upon a safe shore – its purpose complete, once and for all. Praise be to Allah (swt), Lord of the worlds!

To the Single Ones

Vol 6 -Issue 2 To the Single onesA single woman ponders over singlehood 

Stigmatized, jinxed and pitiful – unfortunately, this is how our society regards single women. Reading columns written by ‘a single woman over thirty’ in one of the daily newspapers, I always feel that society makes sure that the greatest preoccupation of single women is to get married. The entire frenzy cooked up by the media about fairness creams, bleach creams, hair removing creams, soaps, sparkling toothpastes and what-not is geared to make her find her mate. Reality, however, is not skin-deep.

It is true that marriage is one of the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) – but it is not the only blessing after all

A while back, I saw a documentary that moved me deeply. It was about a woman, who was born with a birth defect. As a result of this defect, the entire lower part of her body had been amputated. Her whole life was no less than a miracle, as she was going through school and college with only half her body. Despite all of this, she got married to a normal man and had a normal baby too! Little do we realize that “When He decrees a matter, He only says to it: ‘Be!’ – and it is.” (Al-Baqarah 2:117)

It is true that marriage is one of the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) – but it is not the only blessing after all: “And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them.” (An-Nahl 16:18) As single women, we need to look around and start counting the numerous blessings of Allah (swt). If you are privileged enough to read this article, then count yourself among that tiny percentage of Pakistani women, who can read and write in English. Your privilege, therefore, bequeaths on you a responsibility. It is only when you sense this responsibility and realize your capability will you be able to see beyond your mundane existence.

One of my Quran teachers, who got married a while back, tried to make me treasure the time and freedom on my side of the fence. My married friends have to deal with difficult in-laws, grouchy husbands, naughty children and the whole plethora that comes with marriage. The gloss of new jewellery and clothes wears off in no time. The parties for the new couple do end one day, and that’s when the reality bites. I do not mean to undermine the institution of marriage – my point is simply to make all of us, single women, treasure the blessings of singlehood.

When I turn the pages of Muslim history to look for role models of single women, I am quite lost. Perhaps, this is a wistful comment on modern life. Today, we see numerous unmarried women, whilst in the early days of Islam we are hard put to find any. This gives rise to pressures on finding the right man for yourself. It is easy to give in here to Satan’s temptations: online dating and chatting with the opposite gender are just so easy nowadays. Only the realization that Allah (swt) is watching keeps the hormones under control. Prayer and fasting are tools which reinforce Taqwa (God-consciousness).

We learn from a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masood (rta) that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “O young men, those among you, who can support a wife, should marry, for it restrains eyes (from casting evil glances) and preserves one from immorality; but he, who cannot afford it, should observe fast, for it is a means of controlling the sexual desire.” (Muslim)

I remember the time, when I got an opportunity to read Surah Rahman right in front of the Holy Kabah in Makkah. I had read Surah Rahman countless times before, but at that moment there was one aspect of this Surah that struck me the most: every description is in pairs – be it a description of fruits of Jannah or the dwellers of Paradise, Hell and Heaven, men and Jinns and one can go on and on. Allah (swt), the Only One, has created everything in pairs, which is what makes everything complete. I am reminded of the following verse of the Quran: “Glory be to Him, Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces, as well as of their own (human) kind (male and female), and of that which they know not.” (Yasin 36:36)

The fact that every woman and every man on the face of this planet has a pair is overwhelming. More overwhelming is the fact that all creation is in pairs! So, whilst marriage is not the be-all and end-all of our lives, we know for a fact that Allah (swt) has created a pair for us. Therefore we should pray, like the Ibadur Rahman (servants of Rahman): “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous.” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

As Muslim women – whether single or married, divorced or widowed, old or young – we have a great task to fulfill: to enjoin the right, forbid the wrong and believe in Allah (swt). I can’t help but quote Robert Frost:

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.”

The Gift of Faith

By J. Samia Mair

Silence. I remember lying on the sofa, enjoying the sound of nothingness. No shouting, no slamming doors, no awful names poisoning the air. The rest of my family had left, and I welcomed the lull in fighting. I was a happy child, but I was not raised in a happy home.

As I started to drift to sleep, a cool, gentle breeze passed over me. I felt an immediate sense of relief. It was as if every burden had been lifted, every worry comforted, every bad memory erased. Words cannot adequately describe the few seconds of peace that I felt that afternoon. But then, as now, I believed it was from another world.

After that day and for many years to come, I would lay down on the same sofa, around the same time, hoping that the breeze would return. I never experienced it again. But I know it exists.

In many ways, I was a typical, well-adjusted American girl. I had friends, did well in school and wanted those things most other teenagers wanted. But I felt different as well. I was raised in a primarily atheist home. Religion was viewed as a crutch for the weak, and the religious were deemed acceptable objects of scorn. But I always believed there must be something else beyond the apparent. I wondered: “Where do I come from? Why I am here? What should I do, while I am here? And where am I going?” I remember a friend telling me that he never pondered over the questions that occupied my thoughts. I envied him. I envied all my friends, who journeyed through life content with the seen. I felt cursed for wanting answers to questions many others did not even think to ask. I felt cursed for wanting to know the unseen. I felt cursed, until the moment I knew I was blessed.

In earnest, my spiritual consciousness awoke in Brazil, while working with a non-profit organization promoting indigenous rights. I lived at a school, where I studied Portuguese with Christian missionaries from all over the world. These missionaries did not try to convert anyone. They sought only to help others in desperate need. I started to rethink my views on religion. How could religion be so horrible, if it produces people, who spend their lives in the service of others?

When I returned to the United States, I began attending a liberal Catholic church. It was wonderful, except for one thing – I did not believe the basic theological foundation of Christianity. I believed Jesus (as) was a prophet, not God. Somehow, I was able to overlook this major theological difference for quite some time. Then, a good Jewish friend attended service with me one Sunday and said that she never understood, why priests talked so much about Jesus in their sermons and so little about God. Her seemingly innocuous observation changed my life. I could no longer sit comfortably in the pews and pretend that I belonged. In many ways, my Jewish friend led me to Islam.

I started to research different religions – not so much to convert but to see, what else was out there. At the same time, my mother gave me several books written by a well-known, self-proclaimed Sufi. His discussion of the Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Islam enthralled me. Eventually, I came to believe that this particular author was a charlatan, but he inspired in me love for the Prophet (sa) and respect for Islam. This author wrote that people should not convert to Islam, take on Islamic practices, or read from traditional texts. He suggested that only his work held the key to spiritual excellence in the twentieth century. Nevertheless, his writings encouraged me to read more about Islam from other sources. In one of his books, I believe he quotes the saying “leave your donkey at the door.” So, once again, I was led to Islam by an unlikely source.

I have often remarked that I did not choose Islam; Islam chose me. As soon as I read its teachings, I felt home. I could not believe that a religion existed, in which many of my beliefs were established creeds. Still, I did not feel the need to convert. But Allah (swt) has a plan for each of us. A classmate in graduate school gave me a translation of the Quran. It sat on the corner of my desk for months. One day, I decided to read it. As soon as I read Surah Al-Fatihah, I knew I was going to convert. It was the prayer I had been trying to write all my life.

As I continued to read, I started to fall asleep. I found myself looking up at the sky. The sky was bright gold. Arabic letters in bronze moved slowly across it. It looked as if an enormous scroll was unfolding above me. The colours in this dream – if I can call it a dream – were amazing. They glowed but unlike anything I had ever seen before. Such words as ‘brilliant’, ‘radiant’, ‘incandescent’ and ‘luminous’ fail to capture what I experienced. The dream was so powerful that I became scared and woke myself up. Since that time, I have had only two other dreams with amazing indescribable colours. Like the breeze I experienced as a child, I believe now as I did then, that these colours were from another world.

Shortly thereafter, I took my Shahadah. The Imam gave me a few books. One of the books made me gasp. On the cover was a picture of an open Quran. The pages were bright gold and the script was in bronze – just like in my dream! At that moment, I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be.

Ironically, what almost led me away from Islam were its followers. Someone once told me not to judge Islam by Muslims. I wish I had heard that advice, when I first converted. About a year after I took the Shahadah, I felt alone in the religion. I could not find a community, where I fit in. I was told many beliefs about Islam that did not seem right. I found it difficult to untangle what was Islam and what was cultural. I wondered, if a westerner could truly be a Muslim.

I prayed to Allah (swt) for guidance. He (swt) led me to the German author Murad Wilfried Hofmann. Among his many achievements, Mr. Hofmann was an ambassador to Morocco, who converted to Islam. Like me, he was also an attorney. I read his books and realized that there was a place for someone like me in Islam. Allah (swt) also sent me many beautiful sisters, who continue to travel with me on this wondrous path.

As I look back on my life, I wonder why I was so blessed to be called to Islam. I did nothing to deserve it. I know many non-Muslims who seem far more worthy than I. I wonder: “Why me and not them?”

Faith is the most beautiful gift. Each day, I try to thank Allah (swt) for guiding me to Islam, knowing that my gratitude is wholly insufficient. I try to be obedient, but I worry, because I often fail. I find comfort in the belief that Allah (swt), Most Merciful and Most Forgiving, continues to guide and forgive me, as He does with all believers. Between hope and fear, I journey on.

Dear Haadia

I would like to commit my free time to some social work activities. Can you highlight some organizations for teenage boys and girls, where I could volunteer?

Answer:  Dear sister in Islam, your request for information about organizations where you could volunteer is very encouraging, and specially your interest in working with teenagers, who are an integral part of any society. Youth can be innovative, full of energy and can steer nations. Let’s look at some guidelines for social work that is greatly emphasized in Islam.

Firstly, the only motive of this service should be as described in the following Ayah, in which Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56)

Therefore, the essence of service to Allah (swt) is, firstly, to worship Him and Him alone and, secondly, to render service to His creatures for His pleasure. These are the two duties prescribed for the mankind. As regards the latter, let’s look at the following Ayah: “Those who spend (in Allah’s Cause) in prosperity and in adversity, who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily; Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers).” (Al-Imran 3:134) Spending mentioned here would include all the tangible and intangible blessings a person may be bestowed with in different phases of life.

A great encouragement and motivation is expressed in a beautiful Hadeeth, which reflects the reward of visiting the sick: “The one, who visits the sick, is, in fact, like one, who is in the fruit garden of Paradise, as long as he does not return.” (Muslim)

Moreover: “Allah shows not mercy to them, who are not merciful to people.” (Muslim)

Now, let’s have a look at a few options, where you can volunteer. Do try to give your best for the volunteering work! Even time-wise – make conscious effort to contribute quality time, instead of just your free time, which is left over after your other engagements. Give to Allah (swt) your best!

At “Al-Huda”, volunteers can support the weekly children and youth programmess. Summer courses start in July in all branches. Help is needed with Dawah work, through promoting Dawah audio and written materials. Volunteers can also teach at the street children school run in PECHS, help emergency relief work in case of natural calamities and assist in packing during Ramadan food drives. For more information about welfare projects, visit http://www.farhathashmi.com/dn/WelfareDawah/tabid/641/Default.aspx

To register for volunteer work, write to: sadia@alhudapk.com

“Active Saturdays” is a series of programs for 11-19 years old boys, which involves them in fun and knowledge-enriching activities in an Islamic environment. Within the series, boys are involved in field trips with social implications, i.e., Darul Sukoon, Edhi Children’s Home, Civil Hospital, Husseini Blood Bank, Edhi Mortuary, etc. They also have such short social work projects as fundraising for digging a well, earthquake relief, etc. These are being held in various centres in Karachi. For further information, contact Saeed Motiwala at 0333-213-1788 or at saeedm@rocketmail.com.

Amidst other options is “Behbud Association” working towards poverty alleviation, especially among women. Contact: Behbud Center, 25 Mehmoodabad Road or St. 9, Block 1, Kehkashan, Scheme 5, Karachi. Ph: 021-5862093. Website: http://www.behbud.org

“Society for Educational Welfare” (SEW), which has a network of “Baithak Schools” for the under-privileged children all over Pakistan, is always in need of volunteers. SEW has started a Collaborative Community Development Programme (CCDP), whereby students can come to the “Baithak Schools” on Saturdays and share their knowledge and time with the underprivileged children. For more details, contact their office at 021-4800325-6, 9 am to 4 pm.

“Al-Khidmat Foundation” is also one of the places where you can volunteer. For more information, visit http://Al-khidmatfoundation.org

May your desire to volunteer encourage others to follow in your footsteps, Ameen.