Labbaik-Allahuma-Labbaik

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Labaik Allahuma Labaik“Here I am, O Allah! Here I am!” echoed in my heart, my mind and soul all in unison. For the first time in my life I experienced unadulterated rapture. I was off on the journey every Muslim dreams of making – to do all the things that billions of Muslims have performed solely for the sake of Allah (swt).

8th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

I am at Mina. The Hajj experience cannot be described in words, and it must be experienced to be fully understood. For the first time in my life, I am tongue tied. There is no other place on earth, where one willingly shares a bed with 250 people and a bathroom with 700 strangers in the space that was my bedroom back home! The rigors of these three days will almost certainly destroy the body; however, strangely enough, the more tired and uncomfortable one gets, the more one’s soul is purified and strengthened.

I have left three kids behind solely to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure. I have left my entire palette of experiences to be present under the open sky, where the Prophet (sa) once stood, once prayed, once slept and where his tears must have once fallen. Now, my tears fall here, repenting to Allah (swt) and asking for His mercy.

9th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

The day of Arafat. The emotions are high and the time is so very short. How can I possibly repent, beg for mercy, ask for all that I want for myself, my family, friends, neighbours, people all over the world, weep for the sins I have committed, cry over the mistakes I have made, plead forgiveness for the promises I didn’t keep, supplicate and beseech Allah (swt) to grant me all that I desire?

I now know that ‘beautiful’ is a simple word, and that is just what Hajj is – simply beautiful and purifying. Not complicated, not intricate, just simple dos and don’ts and mostly tolerance and patience – valuable tools for life.

This was the valley, where the Prophet (sa) once cried to Allah (swt) for forgiveness, where he prayed for us, and where his heart belonged. I prayed my heart out. It is exhausting but only mentally. I walked from Arafat to Muzdalifah to spend the night under the open sky. This is a journey of sacrifices and fulfillment, of friendships where one would not expect, and of great pleasure in simple acts.

10th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

What a splendid day! The elation of having put my mind and body through the severity, which cannot be imagined, voluntarily. Never in my life did I think that such physical fatigue and control over one’s desires and sacrifice would bring happiness. The tiredness of walking from Arafat to Muzdalifah, not sleeping but just absorbing Muzdalifah, walking to Mina, stoning the Satan, back to Makkah for the Tawaf e Ziarat and Sae’e and finally back to Mina – all in a day and a half has brought me peace of mind. What is this spirit that Allah (swt) has breathed into His creation? What is it that moves me to such heights of passion that I exert myself physically and mentally thus with only one purpose – to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure! EID MUBARAK!

11th Dhul-Hijjah, 1429

Rami (stoning the devil) is such a simple concept, just like Islam, such a simple way of life. Why didn’t I realize this before? Islam asks so little and gives so much, only if we let go of all the trappings that have become our necessities. In Mina, I realized I didn’t need such a big house, only one sufficient enough to accommodate my family with love and tolerance. We don’t need two cars, just the two legs Allah (swt) has given us. I don’t need three kinds of food at every meal, just enough to feed my family.

Stoned the devil, cast him out but yet so many layers that I have to shed, before I reach the level of true submission. I have never slept so well or as soundly, as I did today.

This was my Hajj experience. Actually, this does not do justice to the overwhelming emotions, the unstoppable tears and the complete and utter calm that descends over you after completing Hajj. It is truly the ‘Journey of a Lifetime’! May Allah (swt) grant every Muslim the means and opportunity to experience it. Ameen.

Body Modifications: The Pursuit of Desires

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Body modifications copyThe first time I directly witnessed a case of body-piercing was in the 90’s when a childhood friend returned from England after a few years stay. With jaw dropped, I beheld her pierced abdomen, adorned with a sickle-shaped, diamante-studded ‘contraption’ nestled in her navel. The Quran states that Satan will try to trick humans into body modification:

“Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allah.” (Al-Nisa 4:119)

Body modification is also, as Satan himself promised, a means of following one’s desires, in order to change whatever one wants in one’s natural physical form created by Allah (swt). Furthermore, it’s not just the human body that is modified to suit desires; plants and animals are also now subjected to special fertilizers and hormone treatments to make them meet new standards of consumption and higher profit rates. Highlighted below are some of the creation-modification methods used today.

Body Piercing

Body-piercing is a modern-day trend, in which metal rings or other ornaments are worn in openings pierced in the body. The ears, eyebrows, nose, abdomen, chest, or navel could be pierced in several areas. Reasons behind this phenomenon could be a desire to stand out, to imitate an idol or celebrity, or to rebel. In addition, hair is dyed an unnatural color such as purple, blue or green, with several areas of the head shaved off to create ‘designs’. Some people take this so far that their original face is lost amid the designs. It is a clear example of how Satan has led humans to alter Allah’s (swt) creation.

Allah warns us in the Quran: “Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy. He only invites his Hizb (followers) that they may become the dwellers of the blazing fire.” (Fatir 35:6)

Plastic Surgery and Liposuction

In order to fix sagging skin, fat-rolls, wrinkles – marks of age or excess weight – more and more people are rushing to the plastic surgeon’s scalpel. Procedures include facelifts, tummy-tucks, nose-jobs and breast augmentation. All these procedures involve improvements made to the body, driven by a passionate desire to stay beautiful, look more feminine, or ‘improve’ a specific body-part.

Liposuction is a surgical procedure, in which incisions are made at key areas in the body to suction fat from it in fluid form. It results in fat reduction mainly on the hips, thighs and abdomen.

Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid, a scholar at Islam-QA.com, states in his ruling on plastic surgery: “There are cosmetic surgical procedures which are Haram and are not considered to be excusable; these are seen as tampering with the creation of Allah (swt) for the sake of beauty. Examples include: breast enlargement or reduction, and procedures aimed at reversing the signs of ageing, such as face-lifts, etc. The Islamic view is that these are not permitted because there is no urgent need or necessity for them; rather, the aim is to change and tamper with the creation of Allah (swt) for reasons of human vanity. This is Haram and the one who does it is cursed, because it involves two things mentioned in the Hadeeth: pursuit of beauty and changing what Allah (swt) has created.” (Sheikh Salih Al-Munajjid, Islam-qa.com, verdict number 1006)

The exception to this ruling is removing abhorred scars or natural deformities from one’s body through plastic surgery, so that one does not suffer the psychological trauma of being spurned off by people. Such physical faults could include beard-like stubble on a woman’s face, burn-scars caused by an accident or skin lesions caused by leprosy.

Tattooing

Tattoos are designs embedded under the skin, using needles to infuse coloured dye into the skin’s colour-pigment. They do not get washed off in normal life unless one has them removed because the skin pigmentation is physically changed. Tattooing is a body-marking practice that is thousands of years old. Nowadays, a tattoo depicts a person’s devotion to something.

Abdullah Bin Masood (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “May Allah curse the women who do tattoos and those for whom tattoos are done, those who pluck their eyebrows and those who file their teeth for the purpose of beautification, and alter the creation of Allah.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Thinning of Eyebrows

Pencil-drawn, thin eyebrows have always been fashionably ‘in’. Fashion models on runways and in glossies promote changing the shape of female eyebrows to look more beautiful and to provide space under the brow for accentuating eye makeup. I know ladies who shave, pluck, wax or thread more than half of their eyebrows to leave just a millimeter-thin line which they accentuate with a brow pencil. What are we actually doing? Wiping off Allah’s (swt) creation and replacing it with our own ‘creativity’?

In rushing to modify the natural brows which Allah (swt) has bestowed us with – simply because the fashion world, beauticians and socialite friends tell us we cannot look beautiful unless we do so – we defiantly ignore and disobey the warning given to us by Allah’s Messenger (sa) in the above Hadeeth.

Transgender Surgery

Several famous people have had sex-change surgery in order to become a woman (if they were born a man) and vice versa. This is not to include those who were tested by Allah (swt) by being born with both types of genitals, then had one surgically removed to eliminate the ambiguity, rather, what is abhorred is the act of having one’s sex changed solely due to a strong desire or whim to do so.

Transsexuals have body-parts surgically added and/or subtracted, in order to achieve their gender transition. They also consume male or female hormones. A transsexual, who recently made news, is an American, Thomas Beatie. Previously a woman, she chose to keep her reproductive apparatus after her transition and gave birth to a daughter because ‘his’ wife was barren.

Artificially Enhanced Meat and Genetically Modified Plants

Certain hormones and chemicals are now routinely added to cattle and poultry fodder in order to make them grow bigger and meatier at a much faster rate. These chemicals are passed on to the humans who consume these animals, causing increased heart disease. Similarly, the DNA or genes of plants are altered by genetic engineering so that these plants become resistant to certain pesticides. Such organisms are known as GM (genetically modified).

Indonesia’s leading authority on Islamic affairs has given the go-ahead to Muslims to consume GM Foods. The reason is the absence of any fatwa that indicates that GM Food is actually Haram. However, consumption of GM Foods (meat or plants) is another thing and the actual action of modifying the basic DNA of plants and animals to produce more meat or perennial fruit is another issue altogether. It goes without saying that it is a way of tampering with the creation of Allah (swt). When man tries to change the creation of Allah (swt), it produces side-effects and negative repercussions.

Conclusion

Some people might think that there’s nothing wrong with changing the creation of Allah (swt) by the above methods. Some term it as ‘scientific progress’ or ‘human ingenuity’. We must remember, though, that Allah (swt) is the One Who created us and He knows best what is good for us. His wisdom is more profound than ours, and we must abstain from disobeying His commands and following the insinuations of our avowed enemy:

“Did I not command you, O Children of Adam, that you should not worship Shaitan (Satan). Verily, he is a plain enemy to you. And that you should worship Me [Alone – Islamic Monotheism, and set up not rivals, associate-gods with me]. That is the Straight Path.” (Yasin 36:60-61)

Know Your Enemy

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Know your enemyHistory of Satan

The word ‘satan’ is derived from an Arabic word which means ‘the far thing.’ It also implies the meaning of ‘being on fire with hatred’ and ‘worthless.’ Iblis (or Diabolos) leads all satans and satanic activities. The word ‘Iblis’ means ‘to be peevish, despairing of any good or happiness’ and ‘to be desperate and miserably sorry.’

After Allah (swt) created Adam (as), He commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam (as). All angels obeyed Allah (swt) except Iblis, as a result of which he earned Allah’s wrath and was driven away from Allah’s (swt) mercy:

“(Remember) when your Lord said to the angels: ‘Truly I am going to create a man from clay. So when I have fashioned him and breathed into him (his) soul created by Me, then fall down prostrate to him!’ So the angels prostrated themselves, all of them: except Iblis (Satan): he was proud and was one of the disbelievers. (Allah) said: ‘O Iblis (Satan)! What prevents you from prostrating yourself to one whom I have created with Both My Hands. Are you too proud (to fall prostrate to Adam) or are you one of the high exalted?’” (Sad 38:71-75)

To this, Satan responded with pride that since he was created from fire and the man from clay, it naturally made him a superior being. In truth, however, this was a figment of Satan’s imagination, lacking any reasoning or reality; even worse – he went into a head-on confrontation with the Lord (swt).

Allah (swt) drove Satan away from Paradise. Now, Satan blames human beings for his inevitable end, thus becoming our worst imaginable enemy. Instead of asking for Allah’s (swt) forgiveness, Satan chose heedlessness.

“Allah (swt) said: ‘Then get out from here; for verily you are outcast. And verily My Curse is on you till the Day of Recompense.’ [Iblis (Satan)] said: ‘My Lord! Give me then respite till the Day the (dead) are resurrected.’ (Allah) said: ‘Verily! You are of those allowed respite. Till the Day of the time appointed.’ [Iblis (Satan)] said: ‘By Your Might, then I will surely mislead them all, except Your chosen slaves amongst them (i.e. faithful, obedient, true believers of Islamic Monotheism).’ (Allah) said: ‘The Truth is – and Truth I say – that I will fill Hell with you [Iblis (Satan)] and those of them (mankind) that follow you, together.’” (Sad 38:77-85)

“For thousands of years now, Satan has been working to achieve his goal. He will continue his stealthy activities until the Day of Judgement, when the life of this universe will come to an end.” (Harun Yahya)

Purpose of Satan’s Creation

Allah (swt) created Satan and his cunning wiles as part of a mechanism by which He (swt) determines those who are faithful to Himself. He tests and trains His (swt) slaves in this earthly life. Allah (swt) has also distinctly defined the difference between truth and falsehood through His Holy Books and His messengers. Our Lord (swt) has not left us unequipped or unaided. He (swt) has clearly stated the consequences of both paths: one leading to eternal damnation and the other to eternal success. Allah (swt) knows that His faithful servants will choose guidance, instead of being misled by Satan. In case they ever fall into his nefarious traps, the guided believers will immediately resort to repentance and revert to Sirat-e-Mustaqeem (the Straight Path).

“’And befool them gradually those whom you can among them with your voice (i.e. songs, music, and nay other call for Allah’s disobedience), make assaults on them with your cavalry and your infantry, share with them wealth and children (by tempting them to earn money by illegal ways – usury, or by committing illegal sexual intercourse), and make promises to them.’ But Satan promises them nothing but deceit.” (Al-Isra, 17:64)

In a later verse, Allah (swt) informs Satan: “Verily, My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) – you have no authority over them. And All-Sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian.” (Al-Isra 17:65)

People of faith have little to lose in the face of Satan. However, those who willfully choose to stay away from the remembrance of Allah (swt) and don’t repent are entrusted to Satan’s company. “And whoever turns away blindly from the remembrance of the Most Gracious (Allah) (i.e. this Quran and worship of Allah), We appoint for him Shaitan (Satan – devil) to be a Qarin (a companion) to him. And verily, they (Satans / devils) hinder them from the Path (of Allah), but they think that they are guided aright!” (Az-Zukhruf 43:36-37)

Knowing our enemy

In the Quran, Allah (swt) has revealed various characteristics of Satan and his followers. Their analysis is of pivotal significance if we want to understand our own wayward behaviour and immediately identify whom we are emulating when demonstrating the following qualities.

· Epitomizes Arrogance

Quran reveals in numerous verses that the prime factor that led Iblis to disobey Allah (swt) was his pride and arrogance. He considered a mere human being to be inferior to himself. His insistence that he was a superior creation of Allah (swt) reflected his conceited attitude. He said: “I am better than he. You created me from fire, and You created him from clay.” (Sad 38:76)

Well, the logical explanation to this is that since Allah (swt) is the Creator of the entire universe – including human beings, angels, Jinn and Satan – He simply creates what He wills in the shape and form He chooses. And every creation is bound to honour its Creator with profound respect. It demonstrates inane ungratefulness to refuse to serve the One Who brought us to life from nothing.

Allah (swt) states in the Quran of such arrogant behaviour: “…there is nothing else in their breasts except pride [to accept you, Muhammad (sa), as a Messenger of Allah and to obey you].” (Ghafir 40:56)

· Comprehends Human Nature

Satan’s greatest success is his understanding of human nature. He has sincerely taken the mankind to be his enemy and makes conscious efforts to destroy it regardless of age, status, culture, race, etc. Satan understands our ideologies and points of view. He is particularly well-acquainted with the desires and weaknesses of humans.

Human beings, in their nonchalance, seldom think meaningfully about his existence, let alone prepare to overcome him. We all know what happens to a warrior who defies his commander and goes to war unprepared. So it should not come as a shock to witness the sinful heedlessness around us today. Satan is getting the better of us.

· Fakes Independence

Harun Yahya explains: “One of the most common errors people make about Satan is assuming that Satan is a power wholly independent of Allah and that he is in a struggle with him. (Surely Allah is beyond that!) This is also one of the Satanist’s greatest errors: thinking that Satan is a separate power; and so they regard his rebellion and disobedience as an example for them to follow. When they in turn rebel against order and virtue, they believe that they are supporting Satan in his own struggle.”

In fact, Satan is a creation of Allah (swt) and subordinate to Him. His rebellion against Allah (swt) was pre-determined in his destiny by Allah (swt). Moreover, Satan does believe in Allah (swt) and fears Him deeply. He knows that the time allotted to him is only until the Day of Judgement, and after that, he will have to pay the penalty for his deeds.

· Strikes upon Weaknesses

Satan lures to sleep all those who feel that they are not morning persons, thus making them miss their Fajr prayer. He coaxes all those who fancy their looks into displaying and flaunting themselves. Satan leads all spendthrifts into wasting their money and resources.

After having done all that, he will not rest in peace. And if any one of the above starts to feel even a bit remorseful, Satan will come back to prompt things like: “Just do it!” “Don’t worry, be happy,” “You deserve it,” “You live only once,” “You are too weak to give it up.”

Satan appeals to the lower self (Nafs): “…Shaitan (Satan) made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do.” (Al-Anam 6:43)

· Implants Hopelessness

The weapon Satan thrives on is his triumph in leading mankind from one sin to another. Once a person stumbles and starts adopting the evil ways of life, he subconsciously knows that his connection with Allah (swt) gets weaker. Some hypocrites even manage to offer religious rituals for satisfying their ego, but do not give up sinning. This is when Satan persuades them that since they have disobeyed Allah (swt) for so long, there is no U-turn any more. So they might as well proceed on the highway of disobedience.

Conversely, Allah (swt) states: “Except those who repent and do righteous deeds, and openly declare (the truth which they concealed). These, I will accept their repentance. And I am the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:160)

The doors of repentance are open for all, till the angel of death appears before them, after which repentance is not accepted. People who have wronged themselves should never despair and seize the first opportunity to repent, lest it’s too late. Don’t hold yourself back!

Satan’s End

Allah (swt) has distinctly informed us about the doomed end of all those who wish to follow Satan, make pacts with him, take his counsel, take him as a deity or live according to his incitements. “…and they invoke nothing but Shaitan (Satan)” (An-Nisa, 4:117)

“Did I not command you, O Children of Adam, that you should not worship Shaitan (Satan). Verily, he is a plain enemy to you.” (Yasin 36:60)

“Whoever of them (mankind) will follow you, then surely I will fill Hell with you all.” (Al-Araf, 7:18)

The greatest danger for the humankind is their indifference to the existence of Satan. They do not realize that he prompts them into doing evil, influences them and draws them towards the worst possible end. Such people do not comprehend the purpose of creation of this universe and their significant part in it. They lead empty lives and depart.

Through the Quran and the Sunnah, Allah (swt) has revealed the purpose of His creation, the proper ways of worship and the moral behavior that pleases Him. Nobody will escape death and accountability before his Lord (swt). A person’s thoughts and actions in this world will determine where he will spend eternity.

Let us recognize our true enemy and prepare against him today – the enemy that will try to prevent us from salvation and a profitable end. Let us defeat him with Allah’s (swt) chalked-out strategy for us. A true believer has nothing to fear or lose, for Allah (swt) is always leading the way.

Satanism Movement through the Years

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Satanism movement through the years copyThe Satanism movement, established somewhere in the 1700s, accepts Satan and all his qualities as a guide or model for daily living. The Satanism movement associates Satan with values like pride, independence, individuality, knowledge, achievement, self-centredness and exploration of the unknown and forbidden realms. It regards nature as cruel; therefore, human beings must be cruel as well. Its twisted ideology revolves around materialism, atheism and social Darwinism.

Satanists often identify themselves via frightening make-up (as in case of some heavy metal rock bands) and attire. The media reports their bloody rites, slaughter of animals, torture of humans, rape and suicide. And they insist that their perverse way of life and thinking is a religion in itself.

One might think that Satanism is the creation of some psychologically unbalanced young people. On the contrary, evidence shows that it is the very philosophy of Satanism that makes them unbalanced. People brought up outside the morality of religion, especially the young, are an easy prey for this movement.

Another popular misconception about Satanists is that economic distress and poor familial relations force people to join this movement. The truth is there are two types of people who join the Satanist movement:

(1) those who knowingly choose to be misled and later mislead others to Satanism;

(2) some uneducated, ignorant and troubled individuals who are in the news or on talk shows craving for attention. They may want to clear a position for themselves in society, to make friends, to satisfy their obsessions, to forget their failures, etc.

Among Satanists there are different practices. Though Satanists are not united in one single organization, their basic beliefs are essentially the same.

History of Satanic Worship

According to Harun Yahya: “Satanists have long been associated with the Cabbalists, Rosicrucians, other secret, mystical orders of the Middle Ages.”

It was Aleister Crowly at the beginning of the twentieth century, who founded the concept of what was to become the Satanism movement. Crowly, known as ‘The Beast 666,’ gained popularity for his evil spells, liberal use of drugs and animal sacrifices. His philosophy was ‘Do what thou wilt.’

He wrote a book titled “The Book of Law” which he claimed was inspired by Satan. This perverse publication says that a person must follow his impulse, no matter what disaster of evil may ensue. For example, if someone feels like having some excitement, he shouldn’t restrain himself. If he believes he needs to kill someone, he should not let reason hold him back.

Modern, organized Satanism first appeared in California in the 1960s. Anton Szandor La Vey established the Church of Satan in 1960, despite many lawsuits from protestors. La Vey initially founded an anti-Christian group called ‘The Magic Circle.’ Later, he established the Church of Satan, which still has approximately 10,000 adherents throughout North America. He has also written publications promoting his satanic philosophy.

Humanism

“Satanism is a philosophy that leads its followers to divinize and to honour and worship their own selves and to think that attaining their own desires is their only goal in life. In this Satanism is much akin to the philosophy of humanism. Contrary to what most people think, humanism is not a philosophy of love, peace and brotherhood, but an anti-religious way of thinking that focuses on the concept of humanity of simply being human and nothing more as a person’s single goal.” (Harun Yahya)

Humanism is also an atheistic movement which advocates that man and the universe spontaneously came into existence and that there was no deliberate plan of creation behind them. Man is the most essential being and no entity is more important than him.

Since man lives on the Earth only once in a life-time, he should fulfill all his desires and obtain maximum benefits for himself. This also eliminates the concept of accountability, so it is easier to feed the self-ego and work in self-interest at literally any cost.

Atheism and Materialism

A great many Satanists are atheists who entirely reject the existance of Allah (swt) and the reality of angels and Jinn. They don’t even believe in Satan as an actual being. For them, he is merely a symbol of hostility toward any kind of organized religion.

The nineteenth century idea that this world is no more than an aggregation of material elements drove people to a spiritual void, where the concept of good and evil became blurred. People who earn more, spend more and exploit more find acceptance in society and are looked up to. Their self-interest is paramount. Only after they have served themselves they might think about others. Qualities like sacrifice, compassion and mercy are regarded as hindrances to success in a materialistic society.

A combination of atheism and materialism floats slogans like “nothing to answer to, other than the consequences of our actions” or “we worship ourselves.”

Social Darwinism

In the nineteenth century, an English economist, Thomas Malthus, presented solutions to population control. This theory greatly influenced Charles Darwin, who further presented the theory of evolution.

Satanism has direct relations with the concept of social Darwinism. According to La Vey, “the devil is a symbol of man’s carnal nature – his lust, greed, vengeance, but most of all, his ego.” So, according to Satanism, human evolution has produced a species of animal (humans) that must survive as other animals do.

Darwin’s theory of all life being a result of blind chance has been proven illogical and nonsensical. Scientifically it has been discredited and buried in the annals of history. However, Satanism thrives on the survival of the fittest just as in a jungle.

Fascism

The affinity Satanists felt for Darwinism led them to a natural alliance with fascism. According to fascism, the world is an arena of conflict between various races in the struggle for survival – hence, bloodshed, wars and inflicting pain on others is a sacred duty as well as a pleasure.

The nineteenth century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who called himself the Anti-Christ, published many hateful writings against true religions. His publications were against virtues and morality.

The Nazis were the most inspired group of people who adopted his principles. Today, it’s the neo-Nazis who follow Friedrich Nietzsche. Satanists openly admit their collaboration with fascist groups in Europe and America.

Communism

In the past century, more than 120 million people have lost their lives due to communism. This was nothing but a product of self-styled Satanist ideology. The founder of communism Karl Marx was known to be hostile to any kind of religious expression. He also indulged in virulent form of ceremonial Satanism. Michael Bakunin, the founder of anarchism (a radical version of communism), was also a Satanist. He created the ideology of anarchism to destroy state, religion, the family and social values. Satanists greatly admire two of communisms’ bloodiest dictators: Stalin and Mao.

Conclusion

Harun Yahya states: “Satanism has deep roots and rests on a dark philosophy. It has designs upon the future of the world, and its dark church with its thousands of members, together with its publications, make it one of the most dangerous organizations in the twenty-first century.”

Allah (swt) warns us about the one who responds to Satan’s call: “And among mankind is he who disputes concerning Allah, without knowledge, and follows every rebellious (disobedient to Allah) Shaitan (devil) (devoid of every kind of good). For him (the devil) it is decreed that whoever follows him, he will mislead him, and will drive him to the torment of the Fire.” (Al-Hajj 22:3-4)

Greatest Fitnahs of Satan

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Greatest FitnahsThe word ‘Fitnah’ has many connotations in the Quran and Sunnah. The most common meaning of this word is ‘trial’ that is, any situation or object that makes it difficult for a Muslim to obey the command of Allah (swt), abstain from sin or safeguard his faith. A Fitnah is a distraction that deflects a believer’s attention from Allah’s (swt) worship.

Ibn Al-Arabi summed up the meanings of Fitnah when he said: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan Al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

Satan uses diverse Fitnahs to make Muslims deviate from the path of righteousness. It is easy for him to lead most of the mankind astray. For the more devout and knowledgeable Muslims, however, his plots are more subtle.

Wealth
“Your wealth and your children are only a Fitnah (trial), whereas Allah! With Him is a great reward (Paradise).” (Al-Taghabun 64:15)
Having wealth in any form – money, land, or possessions – gives a person the ability to do impermissible things, which they could not have done in poverty. They can afford more means of enjoyment and worldly pleasures. They also acquire friendship of the society’s influential elite, which leaves them little time for worship or remembrance of Allah (swt).
Even if he’s pious and devout, a rich person finds it difficult to restrain himself from what is Haram, and if he is able to do that, then he occasionally slips, by being extravagant in what is Halal. Calculating his yearly Zakah and keeping track of expenses becomes a tedious task. He is also consumed by thinking of ways to sustain his wealth and status.

Spouses and Offspring
Children are one of Allah (swt)’s greatest blessings. However, if one gets so involved with their children that the latter cause them to deviate from their duties towards Allah (swt), they become a Fitnah for them. Nowadays, Muslims are obsessed with providing the highest standard of living for their children. Luxuries become necessities, and parents allow extravagance under the guise of ‘love’: exorbitantly-priced food outlets, entertainment, designer couture and private-school tuition. I was flabbergasted when I recently read about a Pakistani lady’s 15-year-old son arguing with her to let him go on a skiing vacation to Europe!
Whenever Muslim couples are advised to hasten in performing Hajj or to serve their own aging parents instead of living away from them in foreign countries, or to be more active in Dawah activities, they answer: “First, we have to think of our children’s future.”

Disputes and Divisions in the Ummah
The Prophet (sa) said: “Those of you, who will live after me, will see many differences. Then you must cling to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly-guided Caliphs. Hold fast to it and stick to it.” (Abu Dawood)
Whether it’s a group of bearded ‘Alims’ interrupting each other in heated debates on TV or scholars issuing Fatwas against religious organizations over trivial differences, dissensions among Muslims have increased so much that the Ummah cannot even unite on starting Ramadan fasting or celebrating the Eid together!
Consequently, when people are invited towards Islam, they respond by saying: “How can I know which school of Fiqh is right? If I become religious, I’ll be forever confused about whom to follow. No, thanks; I’m fine the way I am.”

Women – the Greatest Fitnah for Men
“My brother recently said that he might have an accident while driving,” commented a friend of mine, “he keeps getting distracted by the pictures of women on billboards.”
The Prophet (sa) said: “I have left behind no Fitnah more harmful to men than women.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
A young woman’s body and her engaging conversation is the greatest Fitnah for men. Men can ably fight battles, but have no protective armor against the charms of a woman. Even the sway of a woman’s gait, the softness of her voice or the look in her eye can make them falter from grace. The women of one’s family can engage a man so thoroughly that he might neglect his religious duties or acquiesce to earn money unlawfully to fulfill their desires.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “I have not seen any one of deficient intellect and Deen, who is more destructive to the intelligence of a cautious man than you, women.” (Bukhari)

Obscenity, Nudity and Adultery
Uncovered thighs, midriffs and arms; tantalizing eyes and mouths pouring out from advertisement hoardings; explicit and life-sized intimate acts visible at the click of a mouse or a flick of the TV remote. Fahsha (obscenity), which was physically restricted a few decades ago, is just the press of a button away now. On cell phones, computers, television or even fruit-vendors’ push-carts, marketers use carnal imagery to promote any product, be it a deodorant or biscuit. As a result, illicit relationships and adultery are on the rise – one of Satan’s most destructive Fitnahs that gnaws at society’s family structure.

Killing
According to Abu Hurairah (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “The Hour will not come until 30 Dajjals appear, each of them claiming to be a messenger from Allah, wealth increases, tribulations appear and Al-Harj increases.” Someone asked: “What is Al-Harj?” He said: “Killing, killing.” (Ahmad)
Suicide bombings, ‘terrorist’ attacks and civilian air strikes have reduced the value of human blood to nothing, particularly in the Muslim-majority countries of the world.
Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “There will be Fitnah (civil strife), which will render people deaf, dumb and blind regarding what is right. Those, who contemplate it, will be drawn by it, and giving rein to the tongue during it will be like smiting with the sword.” (Abu Dawood)

Conclusion

The only defense a Muslim has against Satan’s modern-day Fitnahs outlined above is to adhere fast to the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of His Messenger (sa); to guard his tongue; to abstain from voicing his views; and to neither take sides nor point fingers when killing takes place and to safeguard his religion by even fleeing to the mountains, if the need for doing so arises.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri (rta): The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “A Muslim’s best property will soon be sheep, which he takes to the top of mountains and the places where the rain falls, fleeing with his religion from Fitnah (civil strife).” (Abu Dawood)

Essentially this means that Muslims will ultimately need to isolate themselves from the mainstream life by taking to the mountains (as rural life is more private and slow). Rain and sheep are mentioned to indicate that these would be the source of their livelihood in the mountains, where there is not much other civic life.

The need to take such a measure would be to enable the Muslims to safeguard themselves from the prevalence of rampant Fitnahs in the mainstream city life. These include dissensions and divisions among Muslims, among others, which would result in the Haqq becoming obscurely mixed with Batil, so that involvement in the Fitnah might make a person lose sight of what is right and what is wrong, and eventually, his Iman.

Is Boycotting Fruitful?

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Is Boycotting FruitfulIn surfing the web and reading boycotting blogs, I have encountered a common response regarding the issue of whether boycotting Israeli products is fruitful or not. Responses that can no better describe as either selfish or self-centered. On asked for responses of whether Muslims or Middle Easterners would boycott Israeli products the responses ranged from” “It is not helping?” “It is worthless. Don’t see any results!” to “No one is keeping up with it, so why should I?” Our boycotting attempts are much like acquiring a new membership to a health club on New Year’s Eve. We start off resolute to keep in shape but as the year progresses we tend to slack–only to realize that we are unfit simply because we did not follow through. Boycotting is a simple test and yet we fail miserably–so why expect to pass in bigger tests that I assure you will come in the future.

We seem to have lost our patience as Muslims not to mention our persevering for delayed but long term results. It has become all about self-gratification. I urge you not to buy into this instant culture. 

I can only call those responses that undermine the effects of boycotting as selfish and self-centered. We have dissolved into a culture that I call ‘Instant culture” quite like instant milk, rice, and cereal. We want instant results or else! It doesn’t stop there; we want to see the results with our very own eyes. We want to know if our sacrifices (I am being cynical yes!) of giving up our morning cup of Joe from Starbucks, grabbing a fast meal for our kids from McDonalds, or kicking off the caffeine habit of a Mountain Dew-are bearing fruit, provided we eat the fruit too. It is all about self-gratification. How selfish! I do not know if Starbucks, McDonalds, and products such as Mountain Dew have made themselves home in Yemen, it has been a while since I was home myself. But I am sure there are Israeli products in Yemen, so this article applies to us all—whether in Yemen or abroad.

We are 1.5 billion Muslims and we have millions of rapidly growing supporters all over the world right now–look up all the task forces in many European countries that have positioned themselves in front of grocery stores informing the public of what products to boycott. Are they more passionate about our Muslims brothers and sisters than we are? 

We seem to have lost our patience as Muslims not to mention our persevering for delayed but long term results. It has become all about self-gratification. I urge you not to buy into this instant culture. As Muslims have a promise from Allah the Almighty that He is with those who are patient, but who persevere. A Muslim is never selfish–Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him advised us to plant a seed in our final days-although we may not harvest the fruit ourselves. Seeing results in our lifetime has never been the higher aim of Muslims. Although sometimes Allah the Almighty to keep us steadfast out of His infinite Generosity and limitless Mercy allowed us to see the results of the Danish products boycott, which by the way was a success. Consider for instance Arla’s sales report:

By the end of January 2006, Arla’s sales had come to a standstill in the firm’s key Middle East region as Muslim consumers in several countries boycotted Danish products, and the company was forced to shut down its factory in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. “Our sales in the Middle East have come to a complete stop – in all countries in the region, company spokeswoman Astrid Gade Niels told the BBC. She added: “We have taken 40 years to build up a very big business in the Middle East, and we’ve seen it come to a complete stop in five days. (BBC News, January 31, 2006).

And by the way, some of us are still boycotting Danish products because they still stoically and unwaveringly stand behind their infamous cartoons in the name of freedom of speech. So, if you are not following through with the Danish products boycott, ask yourself if you have good reason not to and inform us thereof. Fact is, that the result of the Danish products boycott was irrelevant, for we Muslims got the ultimate satisfaction of aligning ourselves with Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, against those who were slandering his reputation–the results were left for Allah Almighty to determine.

Now back to the Israeli products boycott. Some may rationalize that it was easy boycotting Danish products, but boycotting Israeli products is a much bigger challenge? Some may even say, the Danish product boycott was for the best of the best that is Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. My question is, aren’t our Palestinian brothers and sisters worthy of a similar sacrifice. This is not an invitation to contemplate on my question. Definitely they are! No doubt! I strongly hold on to Allah’s Almighty advice:

And slacken not in following the enemy: If ye are suffering hardships they are suffering similar hardships; but you hope from Allah, what they do not. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.” (4:104)

The media only shows Palestinian suffering, but we know that if we truly believe in Allah’s Almighty words, the other side is suffering as well. They will never give us the satisfaction of knowing the fact, but I know for certainty they are. I am sure the rockets that they sarcastically calling “primitive” devices made of simple “home-made ingredients” are frightening them out of their wits–and they see in them a great potential. Why the hullabaloo then? Likewise, you might never know the results of your boycott of Israeli products, but trust me if we follow through and make sure others are as well, it will have a tremendous impact, despite the denial and arrogance on the part of Israel and its supporters which will prevent them from confessing to it.

We are 1.5 billion Muslims and we have millions of rapidly growing supporters all over the world right now–look up all the task forces in many European countries that have positioned themselves in front of grocery stores informing the public of what products to boycott. Are they more passionate about our Muslims brothers and sisters than we are? Know this Muslim numbers are insignificant if they do not choose to climb onto the Boycott Bandwagon. But then why do even need to look at the numbers, they are irrelevant right. Just know for sure that if we follow Allah’s orders of pursuing our enemy and not slacken therein –strangling them economically is one of them–according to Allah Lord of the Universe they will suffer and Allah’s promise suffices me. The question is does it suffice you?

Here is a link to all the brands to be boycotted, clicking on the brand tells you more on why they should be boycotted. Please visit the page and make up your own mind.

http://inminds.co.uk/boycott-brands.html

Shaitan’s Schemes against the Prophet (sa)

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Shaitan's SchemesSherlock Holmes had Professor Moriarty, Spiderman battled the Green Goblin – every fictitious hero has had to face a devilish, scheming enemy in their action-packed lives. The same is true for our real life heroes – Prophets of Allah (swt) have had to face many enemies, including the devil himself – the Shaitan (also known as Iblis).

It is taken for granted that Shaitan’s Waswasa (whispering) would encourage many people to conspire against the prophets, our guides towards the path of Jannah. However, Shaitan himself has also come physically for leading our prophets astray. For example, Shaitan appeared before Prophet Ibrahim (as), as he prepared to sacrifice Ismael (as) on Allah’s (swt) command. Shaitan was stoned for his efforts by both father and son, and the incident was made an important ritual of Hajj – stoning the pillars at Jamarat. On studying Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Seerah, we find that this evil nemesis and his aides made physical appearances during the Prophet’s (sa) lifetime, too.

It was during the turbulent times in Makkah, shortly before the Prophet’s (sa) Hijrah, that the Kuffar amongst the Quraish gathered to conspire against the Prophet (sa). They had tried verbal persuasion, physical torture, humiliation, starvation, banishment and even promises of wealth and position to lure Prophet Muhammad (sa) away from his mission of spreading the word of Allah (swt), but it was all in naught. At this point in time, Prophet Muhammad (sa) appeared most vulnerable to them, because his strongest supporters – his uncle, Abu Talib and his wife, Kadijah (rta) – had died.

As the Quraish debated on the best means to silence the Prophet (sa) forever, they were interrupted by an old man. He introduced himself as a well-wisher from the tribe of Najd, was curious to hear their talk and hoped for their success on reaching a sound decision. This old man was Iblis himself, and with his smooth talking he was readily admitted into the meeting! In this way he, too, was present when the Quraish plotted the murder of Muhammad (sa). (Ibn Hisham)

Alhumdulillah, Allah (swt) warned the Prophet (sa) of their plans and temporarily blinded the assassins who surrounded his house, as he left Makkah and made his way to Madinah.

Later, Iblis made his appearance when the Quraish prepared to battle the Muslims at Badr. On hearing the fabricated news that the Muslims from Madinah were intercepting a Quraishi caravan returning from Syria, the Quraish swiftly rounded up their men and armaments for war. They rallied other Arab tribes to help as well and then came a moment of hesitation; they were afraid that the tribe of Banu Bakr (their age old enemies) might attack the Quraish’s army from the rear. Should they advance towards Muslims or not?

It was at this crucial point of indecision that Iblis approached them, disguised as Suraqa Ibn Malik Ibn Jusham Al-Mudlaji – chief of Bani Kinana. He boldly promised: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.” Thus reassured, the army of disbelievers charged forward.

It was in the very midst of the battle that Shaitan revealed his true self as a traitor and a liar. The Muslims were rapidly gaining ground on the battlefield and Angels had begun to descend, by Allah’s (swt) command, to aid the Muslim army. Seeing this, Shaitan fled. Indifferent to the pleas of his allies, he deserted the Kuffar’s army and plunged into the sea.

Sheikh Safi-ur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri has recorded these incidents of Shaitan’s interference in our Prophet’s (sa) life in his noteworthy book “Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum” (“The Sealed Nectar”).

Shaitan’s workers amongst the Jinn have also been recorded to have made an effort to entice Prophet Muhammad (sa). It has been recorded by Imam Bukhari that Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated the following words of the Prophet (sa): “Last night, a big demon (Afreet) from the Jinns came to me and wanted to interrupt my prayers (or said something similar), but Allah enabled me to overpower him. I wanted to fasten him to one of the pillars of the Masjid, so that all of you could see him in the morning, but I remembered the statement of my brother Sulaiman (as stated in Quran): ‘My Lord! Forgive me, and bestow on me a kingdom such as shall not belong to any other after me: Verily, you are the Bestower’ (Sad, 38:35).” The sub-narrator Rauh said: “He (the demon) was dismissed humiliated.”

These incidents prove that Shaitan is conniving, and even those most beloved to Allah (swt) are not spared from his plots to misguide. Truly, we are unable to stop his efforts; yet, we are not his helpless prey. Allah (swt) has armed us with Dua and Salah to protect us from Shaitan’s plotting. As we learn from the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and the lives of the prophets before him, Allah (swt) will protect those who seek His protection, and help those who seek His aid. May Allah (swt) grant us refuge from the evil schemes of the Shaitan. Ameen.

Fitrah: Your Disposition Towards Virtue

Vol 6 - Issue 1 FitrahYour foot slipped and you ended up with another sin on your deeds account. “Can’t really help it,” you say, “I’m just a sinful human being – unable to resist temptations.” But is the case really as simple as it appears? Are we really doomed to stumble from sin to sin, writing it off to the weakness and imperfection of human nature and our inclination towards the sin?

At times, even without being aware of it, many Muslims have unduly succumbed to the Christian idea of the inherent sinfulness of human nature, the history of which reaches back to the Fall of Adam (as) in Paradise. According to the Christian version of the story, Adam’s (as) disobedience stripped him of the original perfection Allah (swt) had created him with, and along with Adam (as), the whole of the human race was plunged into ruin and has since been in bondage to sin. Thus, according to this doctrine of original sin, every child is born in sin and in an impure state – inherently, unable to do good, please God or gain salvation. It is through the Christ’s obedience and his sacrifice on the cross (where he suffered and died for all the sins of the whole mankind) that Christians are restored to their original perfection. Salvation for Christians is based on faith in this sacrifice of Christ.

In contrast, for Muslims, it is inconceivable that any person should be punished for the sins committed by others. In Islam, every human being is responsible in front of Allah (swt) for his/her own deeds. Thus, salvation in Islam depends on both faith (Iman) and good conduct (Ihsan).

Christianity and Islam also differ on the notion of the inherent human nature. If Christians believe that every person is born in an impure state, then Islam advocates just the opposite. Every child is born in a state of Fitrah – natural purity and original goodness, which inclines a person towards right actions and submission to Allah (swt). Fitrah is our inherent disposition towards virtue, which endows us with the ability to differentiate between right and wrong.

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Every child is born on Al-Fitrah [true faith of Islamic Monotheism (i.e., to worship none but Allah Alone)], but his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity or Magianism, as an animal gives birth to a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?” (Bukhari)

Islam recognizes that all children, no matter if they are born to Muslim or non-Muslim parents, possess this original state of Fitrah, and if they die before attaining maturity, they go to Paradise. As the above Hadeeth states, it is the social circumstances after the birth that cause the child to diverge from Fitrah. Thus, if someone follows the wrong path, it is not because something is wrong with his/her innate nature, but because of the negative effects of social circumstances and the emergence of the person’s own Nafs (desires) after the birth.

Allah (swt) has not left us helpless in front of our Nafs. Tawbah or repentance has a very significant role in a Muslim’s life. Although we are born in a state of original goodness, all of us are subject to temptations. Allah (swt) has given us the ability and opportunity to repent our sins, which means that we are able to admit our errors and turn away from them towards Allah (swt). Awareness of the divine mercy of Allah (swt) and our own predisposition towards virtue gives us hope of salvation and increases our confidence about our own potential to do right and resist wrong. Instead of complaining about the flaws in our nature, we should stand firm on our Fitrah, resist temptations of Shaitan and turn our faces towards Allah (swt).

“So set you (O Muhammad (sa)) your face towards the religion (of pure Islamic Monotheism) Hanif (worship none but Allah Alone). Allah’s Fitrah (i.e., Allah’s Islamic Monotheism) with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalq-illah (i.e., the religion of Allah – Islamic Monotheism); that is the straight religion, but most of men know not.” (Ar-Rum 30:30)

Say ‘No’ to Shisha Smoking

By Nazish Shekha

When the ban on smoking tobacco in public places came into effect in 2007 in many parts of the world, the traditional way of shisha (water pipe) smoking was included in the ban. This surprised many shisha users, as there is an age-old belief that shisha is a ‘safe’ way of smoking. In a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), shisha smokers may inhale as much smoke in one session as given off by a hundred cigarettes. So, shisha smokers and those sitting around them, are exposed to the same risks as other forms of smoking.

Its other names include the hubbly-bubbly, narghile or the hookah, depending which part of the world it is used in. It is used all over Asia and Africa. As shisha smoking is a social activity, in many villages it is done together as a family, where children are also encouraged to join in. In Arab culture, offering the shisha to a guest is a sign of respect. In the past twenty years, it has become a popular feature of Arab cafés worldwide, as it is associated with Arab culture.

It is thought that the shisha came about in the seventeenth century in India. Emperor Akbar’s Hakim is said to have invented the shisha. The idea was that when smoke passed through the shisha, all of the harmful qualities would be removed. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Contrary to popular belief, even nicotine does not get absorbed in water and gets passed on to the smoker. (Nicotine is a component of tobacco, which is associated with addiction to smoking).

The Shisha apparatus has four main parts to it. The head is where the tobacco is placed. Usually charcoal is used to light the tobacco. Smoke then passes through the body, bubbling into the bowl of water and coming out through the hose to the smoker.

The flavoured tobacco tends to contain about 80 to 85% fruit and 10-15% tobacco. One session usually lasts for about 45 minutes. The ingredients are packed in aluminum foil. Depending on its quality, aluminum foil can react with burning charcoal to give off aluminum fumes, which can cause cancer.

When smoke passes through water, its humidity increases – thus it tends to stay in the lungs for a longer time. This increases the exposure to tobacco pollutants. The main pollutants are tar and carbon monoxide (CO).

According to a report published by the French Anti-Tobacco Agency (as reported in AFP), smoking shisha gives off as much carbon monoxide as 15 to 52 cigarettes, and as much tar as 27 to 102 cigarettes. Even minimal exposure to cigarettes is harmful. Carbon monoxide is poisonous to the red blood cells of the body. This has an effect on the amount of oxygen reaching the vital organs of the body.

Tar is associated with lung cancer. Although a lot more research on the effects of shisha smoking is needed, initial findings in Saudi Arabia and Egypt point toward a link between shisha smoking and different types of cancer.

In a typical shisha session in a café or some other sort of gathering, the shisha gets passed around, so the mouthpiece is shared. This can lead to communicable diseases like Hepatitis C and other viral infections.

Tobacco use will kill one billion people in the twenty-first century, if the current smoking trends continue. In addition to the fact that the smoking habit is unhealthy for the smoker, it is also harmful to other people. Shisha has been discovered to be a major source of pollution in closed and public areas like Shisha Cafes. This is the reason why many countries are observing the ban on public smoking.

Another problem associated with smoking any form of tobacco is that it can be expensive. This is especially true about shisha. Expensive and addictive habits can have a negative impact on a person’s personality and lifestyle. Things can get out of hand and disrupt everyday lives. It can also lead to other more destructive habits.

Looking at the detrimental nature of smoking tobacco, we as Muslims should strictly discourage smoking. Although there is no direct reference in the Quran and Hadeeth against smoking, we have been taught in our religion that we should not harm others in any way. Smoking in any form is regarded as a nuisance by non-smokers.

Our religion asks us to live in a responsible way. This means that a Muslim should care about the use of time and resources – to ensure that he/she does not waste it. The time and money spent on smoking a shisha could be utilized in a more rewarding way.

One of the greatest gifts from Allah (swt) is our health. We should be thankful for this blessing and avoid using things that would put it in jeopardy. The evils of tobacco were unknown almost four centuries ago when Hakim Abul Fath invented the shisha. With the knowledge available about shisha smoking today, it is important that we forgo it.

Making the Write Impression

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Making the write impressionThis time my column is devoted to strategies for effective writing and discovering potential writers within our classrooms. Teachers continue to wonder: “How do I prepare my students for assignments and perceive them as writers?” We can achieve great things, if we convince students from the beginning that writing is worthwhile. It is also advisable to teach students that vocabulary and reading habits can help them express themselves better.

First of all, an assignment should be given on the writer’s own life, rather than on “What I did during Summer Vacation”. When students have finished writing, their attitudes will become clear to you, and, thus, you will have a clue what to teach.

If the writings turn out to be very powerful, the best work of the year should be put in a sturdy folder, with the titled cover and illustrations, as if it were a real published book. Students will have a fantastic experience, adding an “About the Author” page and trying to make their book more interesting for people to read it. To add importance to their work, the book will have a table of contents (including the title of each piece of writing and the corresponding page number). Tell the students that there should be at least three illustrations made on the computer or drawn on a piece of paper.
Writing Stories in the Classroom

Explain to students that you are doing an activity to teach the beginning, the middle and the ending of a story. Ask one student to write the beginning of a story and then pass it on to another student to write the middle part. The story is passed over again, and a third student writes the conclusion. The story should be passed around the class, so that each student would have the opportunity to write a beginning, a middle and an ending. Those, who are not writing, are asked to illustrate the part they have completed. When the story is finished, it is given back to the first student, who started it. He or she then reads it to the others.
Developing a Character
Using The Hundred Acre Wood (in A. A. Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”) is a good way to learn about characterization. Several characters are very similar to us. The students are asked to choose a Pooh character that is the most similar to them, compare and contrast the character with themselves. Thus, they will learn a lot about characterization and themselves.
Power Writing

This activity takes only six minutes and involves students in a creative brainstorming. Words ‘duck’ and ‘apple’ are written on the board. Students are asked to choose one of the words and at a given signal write as much as they can about the topic selected. When one minute is over, the students are asked to count the words they have written. Write the numbers on the board. The second round starts, when the students select another word (‘umbrella’ or ‘beautiful’). Then, they repeat the process for one minute.

In the third round, the students choose another word (‘sock’ or ‘blue’) and do the same thing as before. In each round, the students choose a word, write down their own thoughts, then count the words after a minute of writing and record the results. It will become totally obvious from the chart of the three rounds that the activity promotes quantitative thinking and writing. Practising quantity is an important part of a comprehensive writing program, because students learn to write mostly by writing.
Encouraging Students to Learn about Grandparents

Ask your students to approach a grandparent or any other elder family member. The students can as well call them up and say that they would like to learn more about their grandparents’ lives. In order to help the students, you may suggest some questions, such as “What was your school like?” or “What did you like to eat as a kid?” Then, they can move on to such more general themes as “Why did you become a judge?” or “What was your wedding like?” While the grandparents are talking, the children should take notes. The written story then should be a general outline of what has been said: and whatever details they think are interesting, important or funny should be included. Students should decide which part of the story they want to tell. They then should make a rough draft that would include a beginning, middle and ending of the story.
Developing a Story
Several desks are arranged in a circle (four to seven students can participate in the activity). The students should get a sheet of paper and put their name on the back. Tell them to write down a story on any topic. Use a timer and at the end of a short period (about one minute or less, using your own judgement depending on your students) time is stopped. Papers are passed to the right rapidly, time is started again, and the students continue the story started by the first student. Go on, until the first student gets his or her paper back. There will be lots of giggles and excitement, as students try to read and write fast. Ask students to read the finished paper aloud. You can replace writing with drawing a picture, when working with younger students.
Writing a Journal Entry Every Day
Just as there are different teachers and users of language, the daily journal writing can also take many forms. Teachers may use journal writing to reach specific goals. Journals can either be left uncorrected or checked occasionally for polishing the skills of students. Some teachers prompt students to start writing. There also are some teachers, who leave the direction and flow of journals up to students. “Once students have built extreme confidence in their writing skills, they are not afraid of taking up any writing challenge that they might come across,” says Asma, a high school teacher. “Every time, when students enter the classroom, for the first five minutes they work on their journals,” says Asna, a primary school teacher, “this helps the class calm down.”

Are you Welcoming Satan into your Home?

By Ruhie Jamshaid

The home is our sacred abode. It is a place away from the hustle and bustle of life that we retire to, in order to mend our souls and ‘recharge our batteries’. Home is a place of calmness and reflection, where we can be who we are and get in touch with our innermost selves. Therefore, our home, more than any other physical entity that we possess, needs to be protected from the lure of Satan.

Allowing Satan’s presence in our homes can strip our mental peace and undermine our faith and closeness to Allah (swt). Therefore, it is important to shield the four walls of our hearth and home from the presence of Satan. To do so, we need to recognize the characteristics of homes which openly invite his evil.

Homes Devoid of the Remembrance of Allah (swt)

When Allah (swt) ceases to exist in our hearts and minds, Satan finds a place to be in it. It is important to continuously remember Allah (swt) through Dhikr. The remembrance of Allah (swt) can take many forms: with the heart and mind, through prayers, reading of the Quran or other Islamic literature or simply by discussing certain Islamic issues. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “The example of a home, in which Allah is remembered, and the example of a home, in which Allah is not remembered, is like comparing the living and the dead.” (Muslim)

Homes, where Salah is not performed regularly, open their doors to evil. Indeed, Salah is the first line of defense against the evil whisperings of Satan. Praying together as a family has a manifold effect against Satan. It is a good idea for family members to pray together in Jamah, even with the servants joining in.

The amazing power of Quranic recitation, especially a few designated Surahs, cannot be underestimated. Surah Al-Baqarah and Ayat-ul-Kursi have been specifically cited as the keys to keeping Satan away. The Prophet (sa) said: “Recite Surah Al-Baqarah in your houses, for the Satan does not enter a house in which Surah Al-Baqarah is recited.” (Jami)

He (sa) also said: “When you go to your bed, recite Ayat-ul-Kursi: ‘Allah! There is no god but Him, the Ever-Living, the One Who Sustains and Protects all that exists,’ to the end, for then there will remain over you a guardian from Allah, and Satan will not come near you until morning.” (Bukhari)

Having Allah (swt) continuously in our consciousness within the folds of the home dishevels Satan and his evil devices. It is important to have Islamic audiotapes, visual CDs and books within easy reach for every family member, including children. Easy access to Islamic knowledge ensures the seepage of Allah’s (swt) words into our consciousness, thereby upsetting Satan. Un-Islamic programmes on television or mindless music serve the contrary – inviting Satan to be a part of our home.

We must also inculcate the habit of remembering Allah (swt) regularly in the little, daily things we do. Doing so lays down barriers to Satan’s entry into our lives at every little step.

Homes Devoid of Practicing Sunnah

Nowadays, western pop stars and Hollywood actors are looked upon as examples to emulate. For the believing Muslim, there isn’t and there shouldn’t be anyone more ideal than the Prophet (sa) to follow. His every action was for pleasing Allah (swt) and ‘upsetting’ Satan. Therefore, it is important to emulate the Prophet (sa) as closely as we can within our homes to avert Satan’s grip on those that dwell in our abodes.

One of the dictates that the Prophet (sa) abided by strictly within his own home was that of kindness. He said: “When Allah wills some good towards the people of a household, He introduces kindness among them.” (Ahmad)

He (sa) also said: “Allah is gentle and loves gentleness. He gives for gentleness what He does not give for harshness nor for anything else.” (Muslim)

The Prophet (sa) showed kindness towards his family in several ways. For example, he would help his wife Aisha (rta) with housework or be playful and gentle with his grandchildren. The acts of consideration and kindness serve to sow the seeds of love and peace within our homes, thereby expelling Satan’s influences of anger, hatred and discord.

The Prophet (sa) also advocated certain rules for safeguarding the home. They included guarding the secrets of the home, seeking permission before entering rooms, especially the parents’ room, and avoiding staying overnight away from one’s own home to safeguard the morals of members of one’s family.

Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet (sa) forbade being alone and said that a man should not stay overnight alone or travel alone. (Ahmad) Not only will he be alone, but his wife and children are likely to be left alone in the home, without any protection or companionship.

Homes Conducive to Evil and Evil Deeds

A home, where every member of the family seeks to practice righteousness and justice, alienates Satan. Every household member should be encouraged by the head of the house to be fair and just towards others, including the servants, because just behaviour lessens reason for discord, thereby discouraging Satan from sowing his seeds of evil.

Mingling with and inviting only righteous people into our homes is also a good strategy for expelling Satan. We greatly benefit practically and spiritually from the company of righteous people. Our Prophet (sa) said: “Keep company with a believer only, and let your food be eaten only by the righteous.” (Abu Dawood and At-Tirmidhi) Therefore, it is important to ‘invest’ in meaningful friendships that invite Allah’s (swt) pleasure and Satan’s displeasure.

It is also wise to pay attention to decorations in our homes. It has become fashionable to display strange aesthetic idols and to make our homes modern in design. Instead of incorporating photos and statues in our homes, it is a better idea to decorate our homes and hearts with beautiful calligraphy of Surahs and Allah’s (swt) names. If the accursed Satan meets Allah’s (swt) words at every nook and corner of our home, he is sure to be disheartened!

Conclusion

A home is built by the people living within – by their actions and deeds. If a house has dwellers that have united in marriage with the sole intention of building an Islamic home, it has already laid the first ‘brick’ in the foundation of closing its doors to Satan. Due to his evil disposition, Satan will be persistent in diverting believers from the path of Allah (swt) and the battle to shut our doors to his mischief will be an ongoing one. However, if we, Insha’Allah, guard the sanctity of our abodes by following the dictates of our religion, we will overcome the evil and bring blessings to our homes.

Setting up a Home Business

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Setting up a home BusinessBy Noorjehan Arif

When both parents are working, it is difficult to figure out where the children should go and how they should be managed. When one is single, he or she does not have to worry about nagging children, the house falling apart, dirty laundry and what not. In quite a few cases, both men and women decide to have a home setup where they could work, earn money and still keep the house sane.

Home Business Options

There are various opportunities that women, especially of today, can explore to set up a home business: a daycare center, spa or beauty salon, or a boutique. However, there are various other options, which can also be considered:

Catering services – one can run a catering business from home to serve small gatherings and parties, such as business lunches in offices. Unique food combinations like Chinese and Oriental options are appreciated by people nowadays because of their health benefits. Regular options of Biryani and Haleem can also be an alternative. Of course, the service would run as a made-to-order arrangement to avoid waste and the hassle of storing extra food.

Grocery purchase services – due to the growing number of working women nowadays, grocery shopping has becoming a trying chore. To serve the need, one can advertise grocery purchasing services. You can earn commission and enlist the help of your children as well, making it a fun-filled family activity, rather than a business.

Event planning services – if one lives in a metropolitan city, there is always something happening. Even small cities always have weddings, engagements, Nikahs, business dinners and other social events that need to be organized. One can become a specialized business event or wedding planner, or a generalized event planner and organize various aspects of such events. Word of caution though that only the most social and outgoing people can pull this off.

A home-based business is ideal for those busy mothers who have children to look after, a home to cater to and a demanding husband. This kind of a setup, however, has its limitations because people might not take the business seriously and instead, consider it a hobby. There could also be personal interruptions like Ali snatching candy from Sarah or Sarah waking up from a bad dream.

Setting up a Home Office

To avoid mixing home and business, a part time or even a full-time office can be set up in a portion of one’s house. This, of course, depends on the type of business you have decided on. Setting up a separate office requires lots of work and involves obtaining the necessary office furniture, stationery and equipment.

 

Finding premises in a suitable location can be tough, considering the various options and critical factors to evaluate:

First and foremost is the cost of the location. If the rent space is costly, it may create a cash flow crunch too early in the business, which could prove detrimental to the business. On the other hand, choosing a cheap location might create a negative impression about you and the business setup.

A suitable community is also very important. If you have a problem adjusting to your surrounding environment and community, it will be very difficult to work in such circumstances, and most probably, your business would not flourish.

Another factor is competition. If the surrounding area has similar businesses and offices that are catering to a similar target market, it might become difficult to get established. You might infringe on the rights of others or spend most of your time fighting against the competition to obtain a limited number of customers.

Accessibility is another major factor to evaluate, when choosing a suitable location for the office. If customers will be visiting the office, it is important that it is visible and easy to find.

How did they Start?

Shahnaz runs a boutique that she established with a friend, who was her partner in the business as well. First, she established contacts with various people, who could help her in marketing the clothes and handbags she was making herself. Her partner would get all the material that would be required for the clothes and bags (fabric, beads, threads, etc.)

“At first, there was a nervous energy in both of us, because we were going to establish something of our own that we had to run profitably,” she said. “Then, this feeling turned to exhilaration when we made our first sales. But our target was maintaining healthy cash flows. Of course, a business needs cash coming in more than cash going out. Running on credit can create big problems, and we did not want to do that. After five years in business, we still run on cash and quite profitably.”

Irfana is an enterprising woman, who is currently settled in Australia. She owns an apartment in the posh area of Defence. She started her own beauty parlor ten years ago with the help of her husband and her sister. To start off with her own parlor, she needed to know the basic functions and tricks of the trade. Hence, she took various expensive courses across the city to learn the professional ways of makeup and beauty care. She used her knowledge on her clients and also employed a professional makeup artist for her parlor.

However, one must consider prayers as the only means of achieving success in any endeavor – without Allah (swt) being on our side, nothing has any worth.

Now that we have set up our business and prayed to Allah (swt) for its success, in the next article in this series we shall look into marketing and administrative issues to manage our business successfully, Insha’Allah.

Gleaning Ideas from the Web

The World Wide Web is a wondrous option to search for business ideas, articles and material to help setting up any kind of business. Here are some helpful links:

One of the most helpful sites across the web is http://www.toolkit.com/. It has various links and articles on how to set up a business and help material on managing it.

Another website similar in content is http://www.entrepreneur.com/ with scores of helpful articles and links.

Other helpful sites include: www.2minutecommute.com and www.businessopportunitiesandideas.com. Various business ideas and helpful material can be gleaned from these websites. Of course, one can use Google to search for other options and further help.

Top Home Business Options

  • Boutique
  • Hair and beauty salon
  • Daycare center
  • Food catering services
  • Grocery purchase services
  • Event planning services
  • Life coaching services (including tuitions)
  • Magazine and article writing
  • Landscaping
  • Interior decoration
  • Arts & Crafts

Top Must-Have Office Items

  • Business cards
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Stationery items
  • Files, papers and binders
  • Filing cabinet
  • Internet connection
  • Chairs and tables
  • Photocopying machine
  • Phone and fax line with a fax machine and answering machine
  • Computer and printer

Red Alert

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Red AlertBy Hafsa Ahsan

How many of you, when you were getting married, got endless lectures and advice? And out of all those lectures, how many married people cautioned you not to let Satan come between you and your spouse?

Interestingly, this piece of advice is hardly ever given to the brides or grooms, as they embark on their journey through marital life. Most of the lectures they get centre on how to keep house, balance budgets and, of course, deal with in-law politics (on both sides).

However, it is equally important to remember that it is Satan’s most cherished job to create rifts between married couples at all times. It is then up to the couple to watch out for his evil whispers and safeguard themselves.

So what is it that Satan does? How does he operate to create these rifts between two people who are, after all, soul-mates in the truest sense? Here are a few examples.

“You aren’t good enough”

Any time you start feeling that something is inadequate in your spouse, immediately realize that it’s Satan egging you on. He might urge you that your spouse isn’t handsome enough or rich enough, or classy enough. So the next time you want to buy something, which is out of the household budget, you pick a fight.

For husbands the feelings of inadequacy arise, when their wives either cannot match the models they see on television or an impossible ideal they believe they deserve. Once this idealism translates into feelings of inadequacy, every petty issue seems enormous.

What to do: Any time you start feeling that your spouse isn’t good enough for you, or something he/she does doesn’t match up to your ideal, try to remember all the positive points of your spouse. It is characteristic of Satan that any time you feel a grain of resentment at your spouse, he ensures that you forget each and every good thing your spouse has ever done for you. And then your superlatives begin thus: “You never dress up for me,” “You never take me out,” “You never pay attention to me.”

The key is to remember that ‘never’ is an exaggeration. Focus on the positive – try to remember the good parts, and the negative ones will eventually fade.

“I’m the boss”

The ‘why should I do that’ factor often features in a marriage and sometimes becomes a big bone of contention. Consider all the times you have said the following to yourself or to your spouse:

“But why should I have to leave the PC, just because you want to play a game?”

“Why should we watch the sports channel when I want to watch a soap opera?”

“Why should I give up a visit to my friends to attend your cousin’s wedding?”
“Why do I have to be the one who always gives in?”

Such questions, and many other similar ones, creep into a marriage when there is a conflict of interests. Satan, of course, thrives on such conflicts, if they aren’t immediately resolved. He urges both spouses to remain firm on their stance and not budge an inch. Hence, each spouse feels injured and taken for granted.

What to do: Any time you start getting this ‘why do I have to be the one to give in’ feeling, remind yourself that it’s Satan who’s urging you to be rigid on your stance. Assure yourself that being flexible and giving in isn’t a sign of weakness – it is a sign of love for your spouse. So what if you cannot watch a soap opera because your husband’s friends turned up unexpectedly and you had to serve them? So what if you had planned to eat out, and your wife had to make an emergency trip to her mother’s home? Issues like these are never worth sulking over, and doing so only serves Satan’s ultimate purpose.

“She told me that you said this”

It is important to remember that Satan doesn’t always fuel marital conflicts through spouses themselves. He does that through third parties, too. Well-meaning friends and relatives can sometimes tell you very interesting things your spouse has said or done which may or may not be related to you directly. And this fuels your temper faster than anything else. Now you cannot wait to see your spouse and confront him/her about it.

What to do: Any time anyone tells you that your spouse has said so-and-so about you, take a deep breath and tell yourself that you trust your spouse above anyone else. If he/she has indeed done or said something, there must be a very good reason for it. Benefit of the doubt is the key phrase here. It is extremely important to ignore Satan’s urges to have a confrontation with your spouse, before you have clarified the matter in a more composed tone.

“It’s either me or your mom – take your pick”

Another very potent weapon of Satan is that he pitches the spouse against the in-laws. Stereotyping of in-law relations in the mainstream media hasn’t really helped to settle the matters. It’s true that there are households where it is very difficult to make one’s space amidst in-law politics. However, the worse thing a wife can do is to involve her husband in the petty disputes she has with his family. Sandwiched husbands, who find no peace at home and are forced to play referee, soon discover that their homes are no longer the haven they want to return to after a long day at work. Similarly, even a husband can put his wife in a difficult situation by preventing her from meeting those relatives of hers, with whom he has a dispute.

What to do: Never involve your spouse in the petty matters involving you and your in-laws. Handle these matters yourself. And in cases where you have to appeal to your spouse, do it in a non-accusing manner. Never try to prevent your spouse from meeting those relatives, with whom you have a problem. Wife versus mother is a man’s worse nightmare – you wouldn’t wish it for your own husband, would you?

“It’s MY child”

Once children come into the picture, Satan gets another weapon to strike with. The feeling of possessiveness, which every parent naturally feels for his/her children, takes new meaning if brought into marital conflicts. Children, of course, are highly affected whenever faced with this mom-versus-dad situation.

What to do: Just as you pledged to keep your spouses away from your disputes with your in-laws, this time tell yourself that you will keep your children away from your conflicts with your spouse. Never fight in front of children and certainly don’t involve them at any step.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it is all about being aware – and going on a very high alert, whenever you feel even a slight resentment or irritation at your spouse, because that is when you are very vulnerable to Satan’s urges. Disputes are natural when two people are living together. However, it is all about how you resolve those issues that will ultimately determine whether or not Satan was successful in his aim.

M for Mature

By Abeer Ullah Nadeem

Ever wonder what is in the videogames that your children play most of the time? Well, if you’re like most parents, you probably haven’t paid enough attention to what is happening on the screen.

Many parents may ask: “Why? They are just games, not reality. What harm can they cause?” Now, I would like to point out that with the advent of such consoles as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, games look almost like real life. What does that mean? It means that in games, which involve killing of people – it really does look like you’re killing real people!

I am not saying that all games are bad. No, all I am saying is that certain games are definitely inappropriate for people under the age of eighteen, as they are rated 18+ or M (mature) or AO (adults only). It’s up to the parents to see the ratings of the games they buy for their children.

Ever heard of a game called “Grand Theft Auto”? You play as a criminal, who rises up the ranks of organized crime through committing various types of crimes. What happens when the police come after you? Well, you can always kill them and run away or steal their car, drive away and hide till they stop looking for you. The fourth game in the series is on the PS3 and Xbox360 and was released on April 29, 2008. The PS2 GTA games are also available in the market.

This isn’t the only game to watch out for, as the majority of good games being released today have a rating of T (teen) or M (mature). Videogames are not for kids anymore. Instead, a lot of games are being made especially for an elder audience, and unaware parents don’t have any idea what they are buying for their kids. What to do?

Most parents aren’t aware that videogames today have ratings, too. The Electronic Software Rating Board or ESRB (or local rating bodies in many countries) rate games according to their content. The games can be rated from EC (early childhood) to AO (adult only) and it’s up to the parents to ensure that young gamers play the games appropriate for their age.

In Pakistan, the problem is that the pirated copies of games don’t have the proper ratings on the covers. In such cases, one solution is to search for the game’s information at www.esrb.org or www.wikipedia.com , or simply buy original games.

Here are some of the tragedies that have occurred due to improper videogame use:

1. On June 25, 2003, two American step brothers, Joshua and William Buckner, aged 14 and 16 respectively, used a rifle to fire at vehicles on Interstate 40 in Tennessee, killing a 45-year-old man and wounding a 19-year-old woman. The two shooters claimed to have been inspired by “Grand Theft Auto III.” (http://www.gamespot.com/ps2/adventure/grandtheftauto3/news_6077161.html)

2. On June 7, 2003, 18-year-old American Devin Moore shot and killed three police officers after grabbing one of the officer’s weapons, following an arrest for the possession of a stolen vehicle. At trial, the defense claimed that Moore had been inspired by the video game “Grand Theft Auto III.” (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/06/17/60minutes/main702599.shtml)

Please, do note that these teenagers were playing a game not meant for their age. The game was rated M for ‘Mature.’ Studies have been conducted and are still being conducted to find conclusive evidence linking violence in video games to violent children. NOT everyone is affected the way these teenagers were, but do you want to take the risk with your children?

Some extremely violent games worth mentioning are “Manhunt” and “Condemned 2” on the Playstation 2 and Playstation 3/Xbox 360. Violence should not be the only hing on your ‘radar’ when buying games. As an addition to violence, some games also have nudity and sexual themes. For example, in the latest GTA game you can now visit strip clubs, and it’s not the only game to have that function. The ESRB is there for a reason, and as parents you need to start paying attention to what games your child plays and buys.

Here are the official statistics of the percentage of games that were rated E, E10+, T and M by the ESRB in 2007. Games for everyone vastly outnumber mature and teen titles, so rest assured that there are plenty of games your child can play.

I would highly recommend the “Nintendo Wii” console for those parents, who want an alternative to the PS3 and Xbox360. A lot of the games developed for the Wii are family friendly. However, not all are, so be sure to check the ratings. I urge you to try this website http://www.whattheyplay.com/, which is a videogame guide for parents, who want to know more about the content of the games their children want to play.

Remember, blaming videogames and TV is no excuse for bad parenting.

(The writer is a 22-year-old avid gamer, who is studying towards the ACCA).

 

Apart from Video Games…

It is always a good idea for parents to divert the attention of kids from videogames to some other activities altogether – physical activities, spending time with friends, working on arts projects, doing community service, etc. Even such alternatives as educational CDs, National Geographic videos, CD ROM encyclopedias or virtual museum tours offered nowadays by a number of well-established museums might satisfy the craving for on-screen activities. If gaming has become a must for a child, then at least the daily dose of it should be timed and monitored. With younger children – the longer they remain ‘ignorant’ about the gaming world, the better it is for them. Parents should remember that gaming tends to get addictive – therefore, thinking of creative ways to indulge kids in various other activities is definitely constructive in the long-run. (By Laila Brence)

Key to Happiness: Contentment

Vol 6 - Issue 1 Key to happinessIf there is one value we should all strive for, it is contentment. Once you are satisfied with what you have in this world, life will automatically become simpler.

“…that they may be comforted and not grieved, and may all be pleased with what you give them. Allah knows what is in your hearts. And Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.” (Al-Ahzab 33:51)

Here are a few suggestions for becoming more content with what we have in this world:

Write it down

Jot down in a journal, how many hours of the day you spend striving for this world and how many hours working for the next world. If we pride ourselves in being ‘moderate’ Muslims and following a balanced approach, do we really strike a balance in all our activities? We are so content with our Ibadah but we are not content with the size of our house, car or diamond ring. Our journal can surprise us, as to how balanced we really are.

Choose Good Company

A great way to increase contentment is to move around with people that are content with what they have in this world. Is your social circle making you more discontent? Are you throwing lavish parties and racking up credit card bills only to compete with others? If yes, it might be the time for migrating to friends that are content with what they have.

“Would that they were contented with what Allah and His Messenger (sa) gave them and had said: ‘Allah is Sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His Bounty, and so will His Messenger (from alms). We implore Allah (to enrich us).’” (At-Taubah 9:59)

Don’t get into the Rat Race

If you join the rat race of designer bags, shoes and other luxuries, it will never end. You may feel that you will buy just one expensive outfit and leave it at that. However, once your appetite has been whetted with the look and feel of luxurious items – plus the oohs and ahs that accompany it – you could be drugged for life. Try to stay away from this slippery slope of brand names. It is like quick sand that can suck you into unending depths of discontentment.

Teaching Contentment to Kids

Every time you think of buying your child a new toy, ask yourself, if you could rather snuggle in bed with her and have a reading marathon? Instead of a trip to a fancy restaurant, how about baking their favorite pizza at home from scratch? Don’t be ashamed to say we cannot buy this toy now, because it’s too expensive. Children should know they cannot have everything they see. If they like a particular toy, ask them to add it to their Eid wish list. Then, on Eid or when they get good grades, give them a monetary budget or toy item limit and let them splurge.

Contentment is our Tradition

As sister Huma Najmul Hassan explained in one of her Bayan ul Quran CDs, many of us follow the customs and traditions of our forefathers on weddings, deaths and other occasions as a means of respecting them. Now, even if our forefathers may have unknowingly been making mistakes in some traditions, they lived very simple and content lives. Just two generations ago, one dish was enough for dinner, cold drinks were a rare treat and new clothes were worn only on Eid. How convenient it is that we follow our ancestors in some aspects but not in others!

Misguide ‘em Young

By Naureen Aqueel and Aisha Nasir

Youth may be crazy and wild, but they are also passionate, energetic and strong-willed. This is exactly what Satan realizes. Hence, he very cleverly schemes to add this ‘valuable human resource’ to his party. Because of strong emotions, desires and uncertainties that beset this stage of life, youth become vulnerable targets of Satan’s attacks. Therefore, it becomes ever more important for them to recognize some of the following avenues, by which Satan approaches them.

Deception: Sugar-coated Evil

Allah (swt) repeatedly mentions in the Quran that Satan deceives the mankind by making false promises and arousing false desires. He will promise you that no one will find out, if you sneak out; he will guarantee enjoyment, if you attend that college concert; he will promise you that there is nothing wrong with attending that dance party or hanging out with friends of the opposite gender. He will give you a thousand reasons, why it is just innocent fun, the ‘in-thing’, fashion and a means of getting a good message to different people. “Why not?” he’ll say, “you can do a lot of Dawah, while gossiping with non-Mahram friends or attending that concert!”

Allah (swt) describes these justification labels with the following words:

“… but Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them.” (An-Nahl 16:63)

Fear of People

Satan threatens you with loss of friends and your standing in society, if you obey Allah (swt). What will people say, if you don the Hijab? What will your friends and relatives say, if you decline that invitation to your cousin’s Dholki? Won’t your peers make fun of you, if you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend? Satan injects the fear of rejection and isolation, of being made fun of into the heart, feeding on it gradually, until it grows big enough to make you take several wrong steps, just because you are afraid of what people would say, if you didn’t.

Just Once

“What’s the harm of one puff of a cigarette? Or one puff of shisha? Once won’t harm you!”

How many times do you hear voices like these in your head? Put up your defenses – it’s Satan clean and clear! One song, one movie… one, one! And you won’t even notice, when that one becomes a few dozens more, turning into a habit. Allah (swt) calls this gradual process ‘following the footsteps of Satan’.

Carpe Diem

“Seize the day! Enjoy life! Make the best of this moment! You live only once!”

The theory behind this idea is that you should enjoy life to its fullest. Why? Because this is the only life you have! Wikipedia describes Carpe diem as ‘seize the day.’ Satan makes the youth feel that this is a time of enjoyment with no limits, and that this time will not come again, so one should enjoy it to the fullest. There’s plenty of time to be good in old age! Right? Wrong!

Allah (swt) likes the worship in the young age the best. Among the seven under the shade of Allah’s (swt) throne on the Day of Judgement will be the person, who worshipped Allah (swt) in his youth. Besides, who can be sure, when this life may end? So why should we delay being good for the old age?

Some of the other ways Satan approaches the youth includes causing one to forget Allah (swt) and other important things (Al-Mujadilah 58:19); causing one to backslide from their responsibilities, as he did to Muslims in the battle of Uhud (An-Nahl 3:155); inducing laziness; and causing one to dispute about Allah (swt) without knowledge (Al-Hajj 22:3).

However, Allah (swt) in His infinite mercy has taught us many ways to avoid the snares of Satan. It’s important to know the ways he comes to you, and then to seek refuge against him in Allah (swt). Satan had said: when he was expelled from the heaven, that he would not be able to misguide Allah’s faithful servants. So take up your most powerful defenses from today – Taqwa and Dua!