Magic and its Reality

Vol 3- Issue 4 Magic and It's reality

The mere mention of magic opens a Pandora’s Box of superstitions and hocus-pocus of all shapes and sizes. Because we do not understand the phenomenon, we apply our wildest imagination in an effort to comprehend it. Horror flicks, images of witches on broomsticks, and tales of Malang Babas further warp reality and feed a deviant human craving for the spooky.

Our ignorance has resulted in the establishment of a flourishing industry of unscrupulous profiteers, claiming to rid us of Kala Jadoo, Siflee Amals, evil spirits – you name it, they have it covered. For a hefty price, of course! They take advantage of hapless people, who are or think they are under the influence of magic, and are desperate, because they do not know how to deal with it. This business is lucrative. No wonder that we see professor so-and-so’s or Amil so-and-so’s ‘shops’ in most localities, ads in newspapers, and business cards distributed at traffic signals, claiming Roohani Ilaaj (spiritual healing). Seriously misguided people use magic to harm others, not caring for the consequences.

But we cannot conveniently act as victims. The reason this vicious cycle of fake exorcists, Taweez, Ganday, and other Shirk exists is because we allow it to. The rational way is to understand what magic is and how we can deal with it, without compromising our Iman.

Oxford dictionary defines magic as “the supposed art influencing the course of events by the occult control of nature or of spirits.”

The Quran and the Sunnah give us certain facts.

Fact: Al-Baqarah 2:102

They followed what Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they said: “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).” And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not.

Fact: Al-Baqarah 2:255 (Ayat Al-Kursi)

Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists. Neither slumber nor sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him except with His permission? He knows what happens to them (His creatures) in this world, and what will happen to them in the Hereafter. And they will never encompass anything of His knowledge except that which He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them. And He is the Most High, the Most Great.

Fact: The Prophet (sa) was also afflicted with black magic. It has been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Ahmad, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Hakim, and others on the authority of Aisha (rta), Zaid bin Arqam (rta) and Abdullah bin Abbas (rta).

When we analyze these facts together and consider them in the light of the Prophet’s (sa) experience and teachings, we can see a comprehensible picture.

Ayat Al-Kursi makes it clear that Allah (swt) is the Creator of all cosmos. Al-Khaliq. Each of His creations has particular characteristics. For example, fire burns; however, what we need to realize is that it burns, when Allah (swt) wills it so. Al-Qahhar. When Ibrahim (as) was thrown in it, Allah (swt) seized fire’s ability to burn.

Similarly, amongst Allah’s (swt) creation are human beings, animals, Jinns, and Shayatin. He has chosen to give different faculties and capabilities to each of them, and their power is relative to each other. An elephant is stronger than us, a snake bite can be fatal for us, and tiny bacteria can cause havoc in our bodies. Since there is a scientific rationale for these, we are not threatened and stay firmly on top of the food chain.

On the other hand, Jinns and Shayatin are not from our dimension, and Allah (swt) has given them abilities that seem supernatural to us. For example, some of them can transcend the time and space we are familiar with. The Shayatin take advantage of their peculiar powers to misguide some people into practices of total Shirk and the occult. When we are oblivious to the light and guidance of the Quran, the vacuum gets filled by Shaitan. That is what we call magic, Sihr in Arabic. It is not an autonomous force or a power beyond Allah’s (swt) Supreme authority. Read Ayat Al-Kursi again.

Magic is a psychological phenomenon, which can affect the body through the mind just as physical things affect the mind through the body. Fear, for instance, is a psychological phenomenon, but it affects the body: the hair stands up and the body shudders. Magic does not change reality, but under its influence our mind and senses feel, as if reality has changed. The staffs and cords thrown by the magicians at Moses (as) did not actually become snakes – the eyes of people and Moses (as) were so bewitched that they felt, as if they were snakes. (Al-Araf 7:116)

There is nothing spiritual or religious about it either. It is a practice used to harm and exploit and nothing else. The distinction between ‘black magic’ and ‘white magic a la Harry Potter’ is simply fiction. A dangerous one, in fact, because it glamorizes a great sin. It is clear from Al-Baqarah 2:102 that practicing magic is strongly condemned and is called Kufr (disbelief).

According to Abu Hurairah (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “Avoid the seven most grievous sins.” (The hearers) asked: “What are they?” He replied: “Shirk, magic, killing without just cause, consuming the property of an orphan, devouring usury, fleeing on the day of fighting, and slandering chaste believing women.” (Muslim)

Magic exists. However, we should be wary of quickly jumping to the conclusion that all misfortunes happening to us are connected with magic. Scholars and many Muslim experts in the field of exorcism believe that in over 95 % of cases, where magic is suspected, there is no such problem. It is mostly suspicion or some other physical or psychological problem that is attributed to magic. Having said that, we should remember the age old thumb rule – prevention is better than cure. Our Prophet (sa) has prescribed several defenses against magic and all other evils that may harm us.

When the Prophet (sa) felt the effects of magic, Allah (swt) revealed to him the Mu’awwidhatayn (Al-Falaq and  an-Nas), in which refuge with Allah (swt) has been sought from all evil. A Jew, Labid ibn Asim, took a hair of the Prophet (sa), made eleven knots, and placed it under a rock in a well. The effect of this was that it created uncertainty in the mind of the Prophet (sa), as to whether or not he had done something. This was confined to his person. No change occurred in the performance of his duties as a Prophet (sa). There is no tradition indicating that he forgot verses of the Quran in those days, or a change occurred in his counsels or sermons, or he presented a discourse as a revelation, which may not have been revealed to him, or he missed a prayer and thought that he had performed it.

Jibrail (as) informed the Prophet (sa) about what had happened and came down with the Muawwidhatayn (Al-Falaq and an-Nas), in which refuge with Allah (swt) has been sought from all evil. The Prophet (sa) went to the well with his Companions, retrieved the knotted hair, and untied the knots, while reciting each verse. At the eleventh knot, the effects of this magic were gone.

Every night at the time of going to bed (especially during illness), the Prophet (sa) used to recite the Muawwidhatayn (or according to another Hadeeth, the Muawwidhat, i.e.,  Ikhlas and the Muawwidhatayn) thrice, blow in his hands, and rub them on his body from head to foot, as far as his hands could reach.

Other authentic Ahadeeth recommend the recitation of Al-Fatiha, Ayat Al-Kursi, and last two verses of Al-Baqarah. The Prophet (sa) said that Al-Fatiha has a cure for all illnesses.

According to Abu Hurairah (rta), when one recites Ayat Al-Kursi before sleeping, Allah (swt) sends an angel to protect that person till dawn, and Shaitan does not come near him. (Bukhari) Another tradition says – he, who recites Ayat Al-Kursi in the morning, is protected till evening, and he, who recites it in the evening, is protected till morning from the evil of Jinns. (Hakim) For the one, who recites the last two Ayats of Al-Baqarah at night, they will suffice him. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The morning and evening invocations of the Prophet (sa) include recitation of the above Surahs and comprehensive Duas, seeking Allah’s (swt) protection from evil and His help for getting through the day and night. We must try to form the habit of reciting them after Fajr prayers and in the evening. It doesn’t take much time or effort, and the result is tremendous – the protection of Al-Hafiz.

Ultimately, we must remember the Prophet’s (sa) advice: “If you are mindful about Allah, He will be mindful of you, and if you are mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. When you ask for anything, ask it from Allah, and if you seek help, seek in Allah. Know that if the people were to unite to do you some benefit, they could benefit you only with what Allah had recorded for you, and that if they were to unite to do you some injury, they could injure you only with what Allah had recorded for you. The pens are withdrawn, and the pages are dry.” (Ahmad and Tirmidhi)

Muhammad bin Qasim

Vol 3- Issue 4 Muhammad Bin QasimMuhammad bin Qasim was a Syrian Arab born in 695 AC. His father died, when he was young, leaving Qasim’s mother in charge of his education. The Umayyad Governor Al-Hajjaj Bin Yusuf, a close relative of Qasim, was instrumental in teaching Qasim about warfare and governing.

In 712 AC, at the age of seventeen, he was sent by Hajjaj Bin Yusuf on the orders of Caliph Al-Walid to lead an army towards India, into a powerful state known today as the Sind and Punjab areas of Pakistan. Raja Dahir, the ruler of this state, was very arrogant and unjust. He had given shelter to a number of rebels against Islam and the Caliph. His army looted Muslim traders and took into custody their children and women. In the past, the Umayyad Caliph in Damascus had sent two expeditions to rid the people of this tyrant. But both times the expeditions had failed, and Raja Dahir’s atrocities continued to increase.

Muhammad Bin Qasim’s army of six thousand men was small, whereas the opposing army consisted of more than a hundred thousand men fully equipped with war elephants and an array of excellent archers. Raja Dahir’s usual tactics were to shut himself inside the invincible walls of Daybul, the capital city, and let the enemy exhaust itself and retreat, once all its arms and ammunitions were depleted.

Muhammad Bin Qasim and his army fought hard against all odds and within a short time managed to win eleven battles. They had two unique weapons of that time – a huge catapult and a fire ball. The former rained stones, while the latter fired on the enemy. The Muslim victory at Daybul is ascribed to the giant catapult named Uroos. A stone hurled by Uroos brought down the flag flying atop the biggest temple in the city. The besieged considered this to be a bad omen, came out into the open, and were captured by Qasim’s army.

After capturing Daybul, Muhammad Bin Qasim marched on and conquered numerous parts of the sub-continent, hence purging it of many Hindu tyrants and oppressors. He then proved his administrative skills by being a wise and just ruler for that state for almost two years. He was admired by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

After the death of Caliph Al-Walid, Muhammad Bin Qasim was called back by the new Caliph to Baghdad. The new Caliph was a cruel man, who became known for his harsh treatment of many famous Muslim generals and honorable persons, on the basis of personal enmity. He falsely accused Muhammad Bin Qasim of treason and put him in jail, where he was severely tortured, until he passed away at the age of twenty.

The success of the Muslim army was due to Muhammad Bin Qasim’s superior military leadership. The foundation of an Islamic State in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent was laid by this youngest conqueror in the world. His death was a great loss for all Muslims. He was greatly respected for his courage, determination, war tactics, and discipline. He was equally successful both in active warfare and in the times of peace.

Till today, Muhammad Bin Qasim is remembered and praised for the military exploits against the most formidable forces of the sub-continent. His victories form the golden chapters of the warfare history.

Response to Magic

role modelA bearded face and turbaned head with its tip ignited, passing for an ignited bomb; a scary-looking, long-bearded man dressed in white, waving a sharp sword. The world witnessed a chain reaction to these depictions and an outcry condemning this distorted imagery of a man, who was sent by Allah (swt) as a mercy to the mankind.

On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an exemplary human being, who returned the nasty actions carried out against him with lofty kindness. Today, he is alleged to having enforced barbaric punishments, such as having thieves’ hands amputated or adulterers flogged. How could it be that he forgave his personal enemies time and again, yet punished others publicly? The answer is twofold: as a Prophet, he had to enforce Islam’s judicial and legal system, as revealed to him by Allah (swt). When people transgressed Divine laws and limits, it was his duty to execute Divine justice. No legal system in the world lets off criminals, who commit heinous crimes. Once convicted, they have to pay the price. The same was true for establishing Islamic law enforcement in society.

Conversely, when dealing with his personal enemies, who constantly plotted vindictive actions against him, our Prophet (sa) never exacted revenge. He chose to forgive unconditionally. A total of seventeen attacks were made on his life, yet, in spite of knowing the perpetrators’ identities, he never took revenge against them although was able to.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “A spell was put on the Prophet (sa), until he imagined that he had done a thing, when he had not done it. One day, he made Dua and then said: “Do you know that Allah has shown me in what lays my cure? Two men came to me, and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet. One of them said to the other: ‘What is ailing the man?’ The other replied: ‘He has been bewitched.’ ‘Who has bewitched him?’ asked the other. To this, the other responded: ‘Labeed ibn Al-Asam.’ ‘With what?’ continued the inquirer. To which came the response: ‘With a comb, the hair that is stuck to it, and the skin of pollen of a male date palm.’ Again the other asked: ‘Where is it?’ And the other revealed the place saying: ‘In the well of Dharwaan.’

The Prophet (sa) then went out to the well, came back, and said to Aisha (rta): ‘Its date palms are like the heads of devils.’ I said: ‘Did you take it out?’ He said: ‘No. Allah has healed me, and I feared that it might bring evil upon the people.’ Then the well was filled in.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

This Hadeeth indicates that the Prophet (sa) clearly knew, who had practiced magic upon him; yet, he turned only to Allah (swt) for cure and sought no revenge. Also, out of concern for the people, he did not extract the items used to execute the magic, lest their evil could affect others.

“Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow…” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).

In Taif, the Prophet (sa) first met the chiefs, whom he invited to accept Islam. They responded insolently, sending gangs to harass him. These youths followed the Prophet (sa) and ganged up on him. They proceeded to abuse him and throw stones at him, until his feet were covered in blood. They continued, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Downhearted, he turned to Allah (swt) in earnest Dua. Allah (swt) sent the angel of mountains, who sought the Prophet’s (sa) permission to fuse the two hills, between which Taif was located. The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “No, I hope Allah will bring forth from their loins a people, who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” (Muslim)

“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Al-Qalam 68:4).

Anas (rta) reported that a Jewess came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) with poisoned mutton, and he ate from it. When he felt the effect of poison, he called for her and asked her about it, whereupon she said: “I had intended to kill you.” Thereupon, he said: “Allah will never give you the power to do it.” He (the narrator) said that they (the Companions of the Prophet (sa)) said: “Should we not kill her?” Thereupon, he said: “No.” He (Anas (rta)) said: “I felt (the effects of this poison) on the uvula of Allah’s Messenger.” (Muslim)

Despite the pain in his throat, as a result of her lethal action, and the subsequent confession of the Jewess herself, the Prophet (sa) did not have her executed for her crime.

These incidents are eye-openers for us. When our relatives do us even the slight of mischief out of enmity or jealousy, such as public insulting, backbiting, slandering, or cutting us off, we harbor a permanent grudge against them. More often than not, we return their actions with the same, if not ruder and more antagonistic behavior.

If a passerby gives us an involuntary shove, we turn around with glaring eyes and sharp rebuke ready to fight it out. Cursing and abusing others has become the norm in the face of any damage done unto us by fellow Muslims.

As a role model, Allah’s Messenger (sa) is a guiding light for us, despite the fact that mirroring his lofty conduct is unthinkable. It takes superhuman effort to extinguish the pain and anger, which flame in our heart after being wronged; to nip the Nafs that push us for  ‘sweet’ revenge; to forgive and to meet the wrongdoer the next time, as if nothing happened. This is the lesson that our benign Prophet (sa) left behind for us. He proved that it really is possible to forgive bloodthirsty archenemies in the blink of an eye.

“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

A scary face wearing a turban, pictured as a ticking bomb meant to kill innocents? I don’t think so.

Anybody Reading Anymore?

Vol 3- Issue 4 Anybody reading anymoreOne of the easiest means to gauge a nation’s reading habits is by its newspaper circulation. A leading Pakistani newspaper in the English language circulates approximately 50,000 copies in a month among a population of 160 million. Close to two hundred thousand copies are published of one of the prestigious Urdu dailies that claim the maximum readership in the country.

Today, subscribers of mobile phones, cable TV, and the Internet are setting unprecedented records, making investors in telecommunications very rich. It appears that Pakistan is a nation eager to jump into the age of technology without bothering to improve its intellect. Or is declined reading a worldwide phenomenon? Records state that China sells 82 million newspapers and thus is the country with the highest number of publications in the world. Japan follows with 70.8 million, then India with 57.84 million, and finally the United States with 55.18 million.

Readers can be divided into knowledge seekers and information acquirers. The above figures mainly reflect the information seekers. Today, most people get news from the headlines and are looking only for the icing on the cake. Knowledge has been replaced by information, which is quick and easy to get.

Considering the availability of countless audio and visual aids that match all needs, skeptics argue regarding the magnitude of reading today. Some schools have gone to the extent of replacing contemporary libraries with PCs rather than books. An educationist comments: “Reading print, blurs my eyes… I am so used to staring at my monitor!” Kids protest: “Books are boring and require patience. The gizmos provide us with information, entertainment, and lifestyle all in one go!”

Going back in time, the first of the Quran revealed was Al-Alaq, now the 96th in order. The Mighty words of Allah (swt) commanded the mankind: “Read in the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught (writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not…” (Al-Alaq 96:1-5).

Try figuring this out: Why did Allah (swt) insist on reading and highlight the pen among the rest of creations? Following is my humble analysis of this divine instruction.

Criteria for Reading

Many people mistake Al-Alaq for an unchecked freedom granted by Allah (swt) to read anything one pleases, as long as he or she is acquiring knowledge. Some excited mothers babble: “Thanks to Harry Potter, my kids have started to read!” It is worth to stop for a moment and ask ourselves: “Would Allah (swt) be equally excited to see us read Harry Potter of all the literary treasures available, even if it means developing a reading habit and enhancing imagination? So what, if it is all about magic, which is strictly forbidden by Allah (swt).”

Should we just throw out all our prized classics that we grew up reading? Not necessarily. All we need to do is ascertain the criteria. Who sets criteria for reading? Allah (swt), the Wise, has done so. Read all that is in agreement with Allah’s (swt) Divine Laws. Devour books that facilitate you to think, reflect, grow, and act with a sense of responsibility, whether you are a student, mother, doctor, technocrat or businessman. Knowledge and Allah’s (swt) Pleasure must go hand in hand.

Source of Life and Salvation

Today’s challenge is not in the lack of information, since mankind has never been more sophisticated resource-wise. The problem is that we choose not to read in the name of Our Lord – secular societies market the concept of godless education, which questions: “What’s the point of writing Allah’s (swt) name in a book of anatomy or business law?” Well, the point is to remind us that we are owned and watched by a Creator, Who wants us to excel in this world only the way He has desired us to. This is the only way the mankind will achieve its zenith instead of turning into animals.

The gap and imbalance between sacred and secular societies has turned many people into monsters. Huma Hassan a teacher of religion, suggests a parable – our connection with Allah (swt) can be described as that of a child connected to his mother through the umbilical cord, which is the child’s source of life and salvation. If we deliberately separate Deen (religion) and Duniya (worldly) knowledge, we end up turning into a Frankenstein.

Door to Knowledge

Allah (swt) has exalted the humankind with the blessing of being able to read and write. This prestigious status among the rest of Allah’s (swt) creations has to be maintained by investing time and effort.

Malcom X once said: “I have often reflected upon the new vistas that reading opened to me. I knew right there in prison that reading had changed forever the course of my life. As I see it today, the ability to read evoked in me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”

Reading provides knowledge, which nurtures character. Despite reading being a dying habit, even now a well-read person commands respect and stands out in a crowd of countless. It is the power of knowledge that distinguishes him. Dr. Zakir Naik is my favourite role-model, who has never seized to amaze me with his extraordinary knowledge.

Provision of Employment

Not only did Allah (swt) teach us to read but also to write by using a pen, so as to provide further reading material. The goal was to empower. A popular saying goes: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, you feed him forever.”

Reinforcing the same idea, a Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, an economist from Bangladesh, completely altered the way we look at the developmental economics. According to him, instead of providing funds to the developing countries, we should provide them with tools to make the money themselves. This is the concept of ‘agency’-the true empowerment of the people. The Quran advocated this concept 1400 years ago.

Knowledge Steering to Guidance

When Allah (swt) says that: “… It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…” (Al-Fatir 35:28) it means that knowledgeable people are responsible and conscious beings. They are not heedless and impulsive. They fear the Creator’s Displeasure and make cautious decisions, accepting the responsibility of consequences.

Sadly, Pakistan today is a thoughtless nation that lives on whims and fancies. With no sense of direction or accountability, impulses drive us to the limits. Could it be so that we have shut our books and let our power of reason, reflection, and rationalization silently die out?

Means to Show Gratitude

Imagine your mind as a sponge that can absorb whatever you read. It then connects the words to your sense of understanding. This is an extremely complex process – people suffering from Dyslexia, a reading disorder, will vouch for that. Dyslexics struggle with words in spite of their average or above average intelligence.

In Mark Twain’s words: “The man, who does not read good books, has no advantage over the man, who can’t read them.” This is a blessing we should be thankful for and use it consistently to add value to our and other peoples’ lives.

Adding to Wonder, Beauty, and Focused Attention

Books, which spring from a writer’s imagination, set on fire the imagination of the reader and develop his sense of aesthetic. One can argue that all arts contribute to this sense; however, literature carries special significance.

Dana Gioia, NEA Chairman, can conclude this debate for me: “Reading develops a capacity for focused attention and imaginative growth that enriches both private and public life. The decline in reading… reflects a general collapse in advanced literacy. To lose this human capacity – and all the diverse benefits it fosters – impoverishes both cultural and civic life.”

Shaking Off Superstitions

Vol 3- Issue 4 Shaking off superstitionsIn the days before the mankind turned to the science for explaining and predicting incidents of life, superstitions thrived. A broken mirror, spilt milk, and flying birds all foretold destruction and misfortune. Although today we are seemingly more ‘enlightened,’ we still are not completely free from the urge to wear ‘the lucky shirt’ or follow ‘harmless rituals,’ in order to attain good luck before important events.

What makes man turn to such objects in hope of good fortune? 18th century naturalist Gilbert White observes: “It is the hardest thing in the world to shake off superstitious prejudices; they are sucked in as it were with our mother’s milk; and, growing up with us at a time, when they take the fastest hold and make the most lasting impressions, become so interwoven with our very constitutions that the strongest sense is required to disengage ourselves from them. No wonder, therefore, that the lower people retain them their whole lives through, since their minds are not invigorated by a liberal education, and, therefore, not enabled to make any efforts adequate to the occasion.” Yet many of the liberally educated carry a charm, including the famous J. D. Rockefeller, an American icon of American capitalism, who was known to treasure a hollow stone (called an ‘eagle stone’) believed to protect one from shipwrecks and other disasters.

Fear of misfortune and ignorance about the cause of calamities still allows superstitions to thrive, just as they did during the Age of Ignorance. With the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, kindled by Islam, Prophet Muhammad (sa) refuted superstitions, stating: “Whoever lets Tiyarah (superstition) stop him from doing something is guilty of Shirk.” His companions asked: “What is the Kafaarah (expiation) for that?” He said: “To say: ‘Allaahumma la khayra illaa khayruka wa laa tayra illaa tayruka wa laa ilaaha ghayruka (O Allah, there is no good except Your good, no portent except Yours, and there is no God beside You).'” (Ahmad)

Why does a harmless action, such as knocking on wood, fall into the sin of Shirk? Simply because it ‘innocently’ claims to protect us from harm, which, in truth, can be averted only by Allah’s (swt) Decree. Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “Tiyarah (superstition) is a kind of Shirk and a way, in which the Shaitan influences and scares a person. It is very serious for the one, who takes it to heart and pays too much attention to it, but it is insignificant for the one, who pays no attention to it and is not concerned about it.”

Nowadays, superstitions take on a ‘religious colour’ – charms have Allah’s (swt) names or Ayats from the Quran on them. No heed is paid to the extreme dislike of the Prophet (sa) towards charms (Taweez) of any kind. He would even refuse to take the hand of those, who wore a charm and wished to pledge allegiance to him, saying: “Whoever wears an amulet has associated others with Allah (Shirk).”(Ahmad)

How can one overcome the desire to perform the traditional rituals of predicting good luck?

Entrust yourself to Allah (swt): “And put your trust (o Muhammad) in the Ever-Living One, Who dies not, and glorify His Praises, and Sufficient is He as the All-Knower of the sins of His slaves” (Al-Furqan 25:58). There is nothing wrong in having a bad feeling and it is advised that one should take precautions, in order to avoid foreseeable disasters. The Prophet (sa) clarified this, when he explained: “That (bad feelings) is something that any of you may feel in himself, but it should not stop you from doing anything.” (Muslim)

Know that everything happens by the will of Allah (swt): “No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfooz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.” (Al-Hadid 57:22) Thus, neither walking under the copy of the Quran nor staying indoors during an eclipse can alter your destiny.

Sheikh Munajjid prescribes Istikharah: “This is one of the greatest forms of worship and is complete Tawakkul or dependence on Allah (swt). It is the alternative to Tatayyur and Tiyarah (superstitions). The Prophet (sa) used to teach his companions to make Istikharah for all their affairs, just as he used to teach them the Surahs of the Quran.” Furthermore, one can find many Duas to be said during the morning and night, asking Allah (swt) to protect us and sort our affairs.

Avoiding things associated with good or bad luck. When an incident occurs, it is difficult to shake off the nagging thoughts (often Shaitan’s whispering) connecting the situation with superstitions. A person once related, how he moved to a house, where his wealth and the family numbers diminished; our Prophet (sa) suggested they move away from it. (Abu Dawood) Al-Baghawi explains: “They did not like it and did not feel comfortable; if they moved, the things they were feeling would go away. (He did not tell them to move, because the house was the cause of the problems).”

Remember that “no fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Bukhari) Free yourself from the hold of superstitions and Shaitan’s teasing and rest assured that your destiny is in Allah’s (swt) hands.

Travel Morocco

Vol 3- Issue 4 MoroccoMorocco is one of Africa’s most popular travel destinations. No matter how well-seasoned a traveler you are, you’ll find plenty to see and do. Fine Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches, desert excursions, wondrous imperial cities, Islamic landmarks, Roman antiquities, resort facilities, mountain villages, oases, and towering sand dunes are just some of the wonders you can expect to find in Morocco.

Casablanca

Tourists coming to Casablanca expect to find a romantic town, as depicted in the classic film of the same name. The biggest must-see of Casablanca is the new Hassan II Mosque. Place Mohammed V, also known as Place des Nations Unies, this square in the centre of Casablanca is one of the nicest examples of French colonial architecture.

Casablanca was founded by the Portuguese as Casa Branca. It was never a very important town, until the French came to Morocco in the beginning of the 20th century. They started to develop the axis Rabat (their capital) – Casablanca – at a high speed, which gave Casablanca its position as the economic powerhouse of Morocco.

Agadir

Built next to a site of the tragic earthquake of 1961 that killed 15,000, it exhibits a totally different city culture and architecture from the rest of the country. So it is no wonder that especially for tourists the streets have been made wide and straight, houses are low and hotels have been constructed between the city and the beach. For many visitors, it is a functional, open, and beautiful change from the more typical cities.

The fish market of Agadir has been turned into the surprise tourist attraction. Agadir is truly an important fish city, serving both African and European markets.

Marrakesh

We are bewitched by the spell of the place and its people, folk artists to their very souls, who have only one aim in view – to make a stay in their city as entrancing an experience as possible. With its world-famous square, Jamaâ El Fna, the beacon city of the Almoravids was founded in about 1070.

The first Almohad sovereign, Abdelmoumen, began the construction of the Koutoubia mosque. The Badi Palace has long been regarded as a wonder of the Muslim world.

Other marvels to be found in the Red City are the Dar Si Said museum, containing much quintessential Moroccan art and displaying a glittering array of gold and marble ornaments.

Novelties of Morocco

Camel trekking

You can discover the Waddi and the Desert on the back of a dromedary (the faster one- humped brother of the two humped camel), while spending the evenings camped out under the ‘hotel of 1000 stars.’ The sunrise is a mystical experience. You can rent a helicopter from Marrakesh or spend your days following the ancient trade routes on the back of a camel.

Carpet shopping

Buying a Moroccan carpet can be a pleasurable shopping experience. Offer the seller a little less than what you’re willing to pay as your opening counteroffer to his first price. Once you enter into negotiations, you can walk away at any time, but if you agree on a price, then you’ll have to buy (walking away after accepting a price is against the rules).

Jewellery

The art of making silver jewellery is a very ancient Moroccan tradition. The silver jewellery comes in many shapes and sizes, such as Berber Bedouin bracelets, earrings, anklets, and necklaces. Among the most popular are heavy solid silver bracelets with deeply-etched designs, which originate from the tradition of carpet making, where the extra weight of the bangle would help accelerate the hand holding the shuttle over the loom.

Leather

Leather ware has been a highly prized trade item since the 16th century. Thousands of different types of leather are available, found stretched out on the straw to dry in the sun. Leather is used to make handbags, travel bags, and satchels to mention but a few of the uses. These will be styled by the leather workers with gold-leafed designs and other colors to produce Arabic and geometric designs.

Metal framed lamps are traditionally covered with leather before being hand painted to produce an original lighting effect for your house.

Olive oil from Djemaa El Fna

Morocco has an ideal climate for the olive tree. Surrounding the walled city of Marrakesh, the olive trees give shade to the sun baked ground. Marrakesh and the Djemaa El Fna Place is where you should buy your olives. Olives are ready to be served with every meal, either as an appetizer or with your main course.

The Imlil orange stand

Oranges are one of the natural products in Morocco. Irrigation is always a problem in the arid environment to swell the fruit. As you drive through the production areas in the valleys surrounding Marrakesh, check out the length of the sprinklers.

Wood carving in Essaouria

Wood carving is a product that you will come across throughout Morocco. But on the Atlantic coast, the Moroccan town of Essaouria is the centre of craftsmen, shaping everything from tissue paper holders to elegant tables and desks. Here the craftsmanship is on another level – the beautiful mix of the sweet smelling dark brown oil, which is used to protect the carving, and the fine workmanship will give you a present that you must take back home.

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception – Part III

which_method-HUBThe Viewpoint of Scholars

In 1988 a Fiqh council held in Kuwait issued certain resolutions regarding the methods of contraception. These were based on the fact that one of the objectives of marriage, according to Shariah, is to reproduce and preserve the human race. It is not permissible to undermine this objective, as it goes against the teachings of Shariah, which call for having many children.

The resolution stated:

(1) It is not permissible to issue laws that limit the freedom of couples to have children.

(2) It is Haram to remove the ability of men and women to have children (known as sterilization) as long as there is no need to do so according to Shariah principles.

(3) It is permissible to use temporary means of contraception, in order to increase the gaps between pregnancies, or to stop them for a limited period of time, if there is a valid Shariah reason for doing so. This should be based on the couple’s estimation and with mutual consultation and agreement subject to the condition that this does not result in harm and that the means is acceptable according to Shariah and will not damage any existing pregnancy.

It is permissible to engage in Coitus Interruptus (Azl), if a person does not want a child. It is also permissible to use a condom, if the wife gives her permission for that, because she has the right to full enjoyment and to having a child. The evidence for this is the Hadeeth of Jabir ibn Abdullah (rta) who said: “We used to engage in Coitus Interruptus at the time of the Messenger of Allah. News of that reached the Messenger of Allah, and he did not forbid us to do that.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Although that is permitted, it is, nevertheless, Makrooh (intensely disliked) The Prophet (sa) said about Coitus Interruptus: “That is the secret burying alive of infants” (Muslim).

An-Nawawi said: “Coitus Interruptus means intercourse, in which, when ejaculation approaches, the man withdraws and ejaculates outside the vagina. It is Makrooh in our view in all circumstances and with all women, whether the woman consents to that or not, because it is a means of preventing offspring. Hence, in the Hadeeth it is called ‘the secret burying alive of children,’ because it cuts off the means of producing offspring, like killing a newborn by burying him or her alive. With regard to it being Haram, our companions said that it was not forbidden.”

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “What Muslims should do is to have as many children as they can, because this is the command issued by the Prophet (sa): ‘Marry the one, who is loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations [i.e., on the Day of Resurrection].’ (Abu Dawood)  Increasing the number of children increases the size of the Ummah, and being of great numbers is a source of pride, as Allah (swt) said, reminding the Children of Israel: ‘And We helped you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in man-power.’” (Al-Isra 17:6)

Great numbers of Muslims would lend the Ummah pride and strength, not poverty and hunger, as some might think. If the Ummah increases in number, relies on Allah, and believes in His promise: “And no moving (living) creature is there on earth but its provision is due from Allah” (Hood 11:6), then Allah (swt) will make things easy for them and will grant them sufficient means from His Bounty.

Regarding the use of birth control pills, Fatawa Al-Marah Al-Muslimah states that a woman should not take them, unless the following two conditions are met:

(1) She should have a reason for it, such as being sick and unable to bear a pregnancy every year, or being physically weak, or having other reasons, why getting pregnant every year would be harmful for her.

(2) Her husband should give his permission, because the husband has the right to have children. This must also be done in consultation with a doctor, in order to find out, whether taking these pills will be harmful for her or not.

If these two conditions are met, then it is acceptable for her to use these pills, but that should not be on a permanent basis, i.e., she should not use the type of birth control pills that prevent pregnancy permanently, because this is preventing progeny.

Concerning the harms caused by contraception, Shaikh Ibn Uthaymeen said: “Birth control pills a number of doctors say are harmful. Even if we do not know this from the doctors, we realize that preventing something natural that Allah has created and decreed for the daughters of Adam is undoubtedly harmful. Allah is Wise, and He has only created this blood, which flows at certain times for a reason. If we prevent it with these medicines, that is harmful without a doubt. It may also be a means of damaging the womb, and a means of causing nervous disorders. This is something we must beware of.”

Shaikh ‘Abd Al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz was asked: “What is the ruling on removing the uterus, in order to avoid having children for medical reasons, which are either present, or may occur in the future and have been predicted by medical and scientific means?”

He answered: “If that is necessary, then it is acceptable; otherwise, it should not be done, because the Law giver urges us to have children and promotes that, in order to increase the size of the Ummah. But if there is a necessary reason, then it is OK, just as it is permissible to use means of contraception for a limited time for a legitimate Shariah reason.”

The same applies also to the use of the coil. It has been proven that this contraceptive method causes harm, especially when it is used continually. It is known that the woman, who has a coil inserted, has an increased flow of menstrual blood, and her period may come twice a month, which causes an iron deficiency in her body. Some women may become anemic and suffer from infections of the uterus. Also, a woman can become pregnant with the coil in place.

Shaikh Al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: “With regard to Azl, some of the scholars regarded it as Haram, but the view of the four Imams is that it is permissible with the wife’s permission. It is permissible for the spouses to agree on family planning, so long as that is not permanent and subject to the condition that the means used do not harm the woman.”

Practicing contraception is really a judgment call. Only husband and wife can decide, whether they mean to limit their family for selfish reasons (such as a luxurious standard of living, freedom in mobility, or pursuit of a career by the woman), or there is a genuine problem behind their decision. Whatever the reason may be Allah (swt) knows every soul’s deep intentions.

Dealing with Copy/Paste Culture

Hafsa Ahsan presents to teachers the plagiarism detection ‘tool-kit’ for safeguarding the work of their students from copy/paste culture 

This trend is, perhaps, as old as it is new. With the increasing knowledge and know-how of the Internet among the youth, there have been many pitfalls, which sometimes seem to outweigh the benefits of new technologies. A copy/paste culture among students is one such consequence of unlimited access to information, which is seriously undermining the education system in more than one way.

Gone are the days, when an assignment was actually worked upon, books were consulted, and then the final thing meticulously written down neatly. Now, an assignment is tackled by logging onto the Internet, putting in some key phrases in the search engine, surfing relevant web pages, and then combining their content to produce a coherent printed material. It goes without saying that such an assignment has no list of references in the end. Ask most students, why they didn’t put it, and chances are that more than half of them will express their ignorance about it.

However, even more astounding is the fact that in most cases, teachers fail to detect such blatant plagiarism, and students, who engage in copy/pasting, are actually given higher marks, much to the dismay of those, who work hard on their assignments. Thus, the latter students are termed as nerds and encouraged to take the shortcut of copy/pasting. These students then also stoop down to the same level for ensuring that they get a good grade.

A copy/paste culture undermines the teacher-student relationship as well. Students, who get away with plagiarism, actually look down upon their teachers as being inferior to them. They see their teachers as technologically incompetent, simply because they have failed to detect that the work of their students is ripped straight off the Internet. And those students, who get lesser marks, simply because they didn’t or couldn’t copy/paste, respect their teachers even less.

So how to put an end to this? The author has some humble suggestions for the teachers. Firstly, the teacher can have a discussion in the class at the start of the term, explaining what he/she considers as plagiarism. If told from the very beginning that copy/pasting from the Internet will be heavily penalized, students will be more careful. In that case, they won’t take the teacher to be an Internet novice, who can easily be fooled. In this regard, “The student’s guide to avoiding plagiarism” (http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/TM/curr390_guide.shtml) can be distributed and discussed with the students.

Moreover, a teacher can make the students do some rigorous class work before giving home assignments. This will ensure that the teacher has a good idea about the skills level of each student, including their way of expressing themselves, grammar and punctuation, vocabulary, knowledge of current affairs, etc. The teacher can then use this knowledge to detect plagiarism – an assignment that digresses too much in structure and expression from class work has definitely been copied. There are also some specific characteristics of a copied assignment, which give it away. These characteristics have been listed at Plagiarized.com (http://www.plagiarized.com/deadgive.html).

Teachers can also make their own use of search engines. Putting certain sentences or some key phrases from the assignment in the search engine will turn up the location from where it was copied. He/she can also make use of some well-known websites, offering free essays and term papers, and conduct a search there to find out, where the assignment was copied from. Once the teacher has a collection of web pages, he/she can then take a printout and show it to the student before penalizing him/her.

For the above purpose, specialized software “Plagiarism Prevention” is available on the “Turn it in” website (http://www.turnitin.com/). All that teachers need to do is simply copy and paste the assignment in the software, if they suspect it to be copied off the Internet. The software will search its database of term papers, web pages, and essays and turn up the results. Any copied material will be highlighted and linked to the original website. Even though the software is not for free, it is definitely an investment worth making for any school.

Also, teachers can benefit from a unique, yet effective way employed by the International Relations teacher of this author to ascertain the authenticity of the assignments. On the day of the examination, when the answer sheets were distributed, he gave the students fifteen minutes to write a short summary of the book review that was submitted to him during the semester. Naturally, those who had copied the review from the Internet without even going through it, let alone bother reading the book, were stumped.

A possible technique can be to introduce the concept of a list of references. It isn’t entirely a sin to quote from a good article or research paper, if it is properly credited to its original author at the end of the assignment. Students can be taught to put quotation marks around the text, which they have copied, or put in separately in textboxes, when they are formatting their assignments in Microsoft Word. Such assignments give a good impression of being thoroughly researched and worked upon.

Another way of preventing plagiarism is giving specific assignments followed by short presentations. With assignments like “write a note on genetic engineering” students are more likely to have a field day on the Internet copy/pasting material. A specific assignment like “What do you think are some of the disadvantages of genetic engineering?” is much more likely to have students thinking more and relying less on the Internet.

And finally, there is a comprehensive “Plagiarism Stoppers: Teacher’s Guide” (http://www.ncusd203.org/central/html/where/plagiarism_stoppers.html), which deals with detection tips, offers preventive measures, and lists essays and term papers websites that every teacher should know about.

The widespread notion that electronic plagiarism is impossible to detect is nothing more than a myth. It is very possible to detect copy/paste attempts and penalize them; however, this can be achieved only if the teachers themselves are a little tech-savvy and dedicated enough to make their students do their own work.

The Truth about Lying

bsr005Want to take a day off from the office? Lie that you are not well. Want to miss that deadline? Lie that you had forgotten. Want to be late for work? Make the excuse that there was a traffic jam. These thoughts, which translate into actions, show that Satan will not spare us at all.

As survey shows, lying at the workplace is very acceptable. According to the Aziz Management Communications Index, more than a third (37%) of British bosses believe that it is acceptable for their employees to tell white lies to customers, while nearly half (46%) think that telling untruths is acceptable to safeguard the company. Although the survey is limited to the UK, it would be safe to presume that the situation would not be much different in this part of the world. This certainly rings some alarm bells for all of us.

What the Quran and Ahadeeth tell us

When reality is put side by side with the teachings of Islam, one is taken aback by the intensity of the warning from Allah (swt). Allah (swt), the Exalted, says: “Truly, Allah guides not him, who is a liar and disbeliever.” (Az-Zumar 39:3)

In another verse, Allah (swt) states: “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).” (At-Taubah 9:119)

The words of the Prophet (sa) also show that lying will never lead to salvation. The Prophet (sa) said: “Indeed, truthfulness leads to Al Birr (righteousness, and Al-Birr leads to Paradise. A man keeps on telling the truth, until he becomes a Siddiq (truthful person). Lying leads to Al-Fujur (wickedness), and Al-Fujr leads to the Hellfire, and a man keeps on telling lies, till he is written as a liar before Allah.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: whenever he speaks, he tells a lie, whenever he promises, he breaks it, and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays.” (Bukhari)

Truth leads to success

Honestly – who doesn’t know that lying is a sin? We all confess that we have lied to get out of a tight situation to the extent that we have got used to it and do not believe that there is a way out. If this is an echo of your mind, then you are probably taking a defeatist approach. It is possible to be truthful as well as successful.

Our dearest Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an honest man to the extent that he was known As-Sadiq (the truthful) and Amin (the trustworthy). When Khadijah (rta), a successful businesswoman of Makkah, assigned Prophet Muhammad (sa) to do some business for her, she found more profits and blessings than she was used to. Her servant also told her about the good manners and honesty of the Prophet (sa).

New research by the Institute of Business Ethics shows a relation between success and ethical environment. UK companies with an explicit commitment to ethical business were found to have produced profits an average of 18% higher than those that did not.

So how do we break the lying habit?

1. Reexamine your level of Iman (faith)

Is it important to you that you stop lying? Do you believe that truthfulness will benefit you in this world and in the Hereafter? Are you convinced that lying eventually leads to Hellfire? These are just some of the questions that you can ask yourself.

2. Make prayer

The earnestness of doing something is reflected in the kind of prayers that we make. One of the prayers of the Prophet (sa) was: “O Allah! Purify my heart from hypocrisy, my deed from any kind of showoff, my tongue from lying.” (Baihiqi)

3. Fix your own penalty for lying

This penalty can be in cash or in kind. Give something to charity or keep reminding yourself that you did something wrong today.

4. Read up on examples of people, who were ethical and successful

Reading about the Companions of the Prophet (sa) and modern day success stories of ethical companies will provide you with the much-needed encouragement and guidance.

5. Assess the consequences of lying

Draw up or think of all the direct and indirect, long term and short term consequences of lying. If you can logically figure out the disastrous effects of lying in this world and the Hereafter, it may be enough to control the ‘fibbing habit,’ Insha’Allah.

6. Remember that truth leads to peace of mind

According to a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa): “Leave what appears doubtful to you and adopt that which is not doubtful to you, for truth is peace of mind and the lie is a means of doubt.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Advantages of telling the truth over lying

  • Telling the truth reduces medical expenses by keeping your blood pressure in the normal range.
  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about what to say, when you get caught.
  • If you tell the truth, you don’t have to learn any fancy ambiguous words to mislead people.
  • If you tell the truth, you get practice telling the truth, which can pay off, when telling the truth is really hard.
  • If you tell the truth, people have a chance to find out about problems, while there’s still time to do something about them.
  • If you tell the truth, it’s easier to sleep at night.
  • If you’re known as a straight shooter, fewer people will ask you to shoot crooked.
  • If you tell the truth often enough, when you say something, people are more likely to actually believe you.

The Evil Eye – Fact not Fiction

Vol 3- Issue 4 The Evil eyeThe venomous glance, not alien to our society, is the evil eye (Nazr). It is centered on the belief that jealousy or praise can inflict misfortune. It is this very fear that causes many of us to go to great lengths for shielding ourselves and our children from its wrath. But how real is the threat of the evil eye? Is it an old wives’ tale? Superstition?

Belief in the evil eye is ancient. Reference to the evil eye is found on Babylonian clay tablets, the writings of Greeks and Romans, and in the Bible and Talmud. In Arabic, the evil eye is known as Al Ayn or Ayn Hasooda, but in Turkish – Nazar. In the United States and England, the evil eye is usually referred to as ‘overlooking.’

The concept of the evil eye is an established fact in Islam, thus, one should neither reject it nor consider it to be an erroneous impression or figment of imagination.

Abd Allah ibn Abbas (rta) reports that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The influence of an evil eye is a fact. If anything would precede the destiny, it would be the influence of an evil eye. And when you are asked to take a bath (for curing purposes), then you should take a bath.” (Muslim)

The concept and reality of the evil eye (Nazar) in Islam can also be understood from the advice given by Prophet Yaqub (as) to his sons, when they intended to enter Egypt: “O my sons! Do not enter by one gate, but enter by different gates, and I cannot avail you against Allah at all. Verily, the decision rests only with Allah. In Him, I put my trust and let all those that trust, put their trust in Him.” (Yusuf 12:67)
The majority of commentators of the Holy Quran explain that the reason, why Prophet Yaqub (as) advised his sons to enter by different gates and not one, was that they were all young, handsome, and healthy. He feared that when people would come to know that they all were brothers and sons of one father, they may become jealous; hence, there was the possibility of them being affected by Nazar.
The reality of Nazar is such that when one looks at something beautiful and is envious, Allah (swt) creates some sort of harm in that particular thing.

Measures to ward off the evil eye vary from culture to culture. For protecting the offspring, common in our society is the lining of black Kohl around the child’s eyes or putting a black spot on the child’s body. Peasant mothers spit in the faces of their children or dirty them with soil, in order to diminish the effects of the evil eye or flattery.  Popular, however, is making the children wear black threads, beads, amulets, talismans, and charms.

The use of protective amulets and charms is forbidden in Islam, because it is considered a form of Shirk (idolatry). As long as one, who wears a charm, believes that it will avert evil and bring good fortune, he has given this charm the power to cancel what Allah (swt) has already destined. Eventually, he will depend on it instead of Allah (swt).

Instead, Islam teaches Muslims to seek refuge and protection with Allah (swt) from the evils of envy. Besides the phrase Masha’aAllah wa la Kuwata illa Billah (whatever Allah wishes, and there is no power except with Allah), which protects from the envy of others, there are various supplications for warding off the effects of the evil eye.
Abu Said Al-Khudri (rta) said: “The Messenger of Allah used to seek refuge from the devil-Jins and the evil eye of the human being until the Muawwadhatayn (Al-Falaq and Al-Naas) were revealed. When they were revealed, he took them and left the other forms of supplications.” (Tirmidhi)

It has been reported by Ibn Sunni on the authority of Sahl ibn Hunayf who said: “The Messenger of Allah, when he used to fear of anything being afflicted with his eye, he used to say ‘Allah uma Barik fihi,’ and it did not harm anything.” (Nawawi)

Ibn Abbaas (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) used to seek refuge with Allah for Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn (rta). He said: ‘Your father [i.e., Ibrahim (as)] used to seek refuge with Allah (swt) for Ismail and Ishaq (rta) with these words: Aodhu bi kalimat Allah Al-tammah min kulli shaytanin wa hammah wa min kulli ‘aynin lammah (I seek refuge in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous reptile, and from every bad eye).'”(Bukhari)

In the event of affliction by the evil eye, one should use the treatments recommended in Shariah. One of them is Ruqyah (spiritual healing). It consists of words said or written in the form of Dua or Dhikr for the purpose of protection or cure. It is sometimes accompanied with other actions, such as blowing or wiping over the thing to which it is applied.

The Prophet (sa) said: “There is no Ruqyah except in the case of the evil eye or fever.” (Tirmidhi) Jibreel used to do Ruqyah for the Prophet (sa) and say: “Bismillahi arqeeka min kulli shayin yudheeka, min sharri kulli nafsin aw aynin hasid Allah u yashfeek, bismillahi arqeek (in the name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you, from everything that is harming you, from the evil of every soul or envious eye; may Allah heal you, in the name of Allah I perform Ruqyah for you).”

Secondly, if it is known or suspected that a person has been afflicted by the evil eye; it was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “The man, who casts the evil eye, would be commanded to do Wudhu, and then the man, who was affected, would wash himself with (the water).” (Abu Dawood)

Prevention is better than cure. The evil eye is like an arrow, which comes from the soul of the one, who feels envy, towards the one, who is envied – sometimes it hits him and sometimes not. If the target is exposed and unprotected, it will be affected, but if the target is cautious and armed, the arrow will have no effect and may even come back on the one, who struck it. These are some of the Duas and treatments, which offer protection – by Allah’s (swt) leave – from the evil eye and from destructive envy (Hasad). We ask Allah (swt) for His protection. Allah (swt) knows best.

Ummul-Mumineen – Khadijah (rta)

Ummul-MumineenPersonal details

Name: Khadijah Al-Kubra bint Khuwalid

Kunniyat: Umm e Hind

Title: Tahira

Father: Khuwaylid bin Asad

Mother: Fatima binte Zaida

Clan: Banu Hashim

Tribe: Quraish, Banu Asad

Birth: 555 AD

Death: Ramadan, 620 AD

When we look at Hazrat Khadijah (rta) beyond statistics, we see an extraordinary person.  She stands out in Islamic history not only for her loving support to her husband, but because her very existence continues to defy popular perceptions of women’s roles in Islam. She was not a woman, who was oppressed, submissive or subjugated.

She was born, when female infants were often buried alive and women were treated as a commodity. Allah (swt) gave her extraordinary character and superior business acumen. She became the richest merchant in the whole Makkah and was hailed as the Princess of Makkah and the Princess of the Quraish. Yet, she did not indulge in the frivolous decadence of Makkan high society. Her humanitarian efforts in aiding the poor, widows, orphans, the sick, and disabled earned her the title of Al-Tahira, the pure one.

Khadijah (rta) was wealthy and accomplished, but also twice widowed. She was 40 years old, when she married the future Prophet of Islam (sa), 15 years her junior. She recognized his trustworthiness and high moral standards and proposed to him herself. He accepted.

The marriage of Khadijah (rta) and Muhammad (sa) is a model for us. It was one of extraordinary love, commitment, and mutual respect. For 24 years Khadijah (rta) was the love of Prophet’s (sa) life as well as his strongest supporter and confidante. It is one of the greatest love stories of all times and a proof of Islam’s human essence.

When the Prophet (sa) received his first message from Allah (swt), he was troubled and anxious. Its impact was so nerve wrecking that he rushed home shivering. He said to Khadijah (rta): “Cover me, cover me!” She shielded him in her lap, listened to his account, and assured him of his Prophet (sa) hood. She recounted to him the excellence of his character as reason that Allah (swt) could not forsake him.

The fact that Allah (swt) placed a woman in this position and made her the vessel through which the Prophet (sa) was comforted and assured is the evidence of the role of women in the spread of Islam.

An African-American Muslim scholar Precious Rasheeda Muhammad says: “I am convinced that Khadijah (rta) was given such a conspicuous role in the advent of this religion, so that there could never be a mistake about Islam’s intention toward women and its deference for the depth of their intellect, the scope of their piety, and the possibilities for their humanity.”

Karen Armstrong writes: “Islam can be said to have come to birth in the arms of a loving woman.” She was the first woman to embrace Islam and bear witness to the Oneness of Allah (swt) and that Muhammad (sa) was His messenger.

Long after her death, Muhammad (sa) said of Khadijah (rta): “She believed in me, when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful, when others called me a liar; she sheltered me, when others abandoned me; she comforted me, when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her, while depriving me of children by other women.”

Despite her wealth and social position, Khadijah (rta) chose to look after her husband’s needs herself. She did not have any ego issues about caring for her family. She had six children with the Prophet (sa). She was also the first Ummul-Mumineen, a designation given in the Quran to all the wives of the Prophet (sa).

Such was the measure of her faith that she gave all she had for the cause of Islam. The woman, who had once owned herds of animals, priceless heirlooms, silver, gold, and so much more, was buried in one of the Prophet’s (sa) own garments, because there was not enough money left to buy her a shroud.

She never once let the believers down. When the growing community of new Muslims were ridiculed, tortured, deprived of their pay, and ostracized by their families, Khadijah (rta) used her resources to clothe, feed, and shelter them.

When the Prophet’s (sa) clan of Hashim and that of Al-Mutallib, who supported his right to proclaim Islam, were exiled for a number of years, Khadijah (rta) chose to accompany her husband. She is said to have never complained about the extreme weather conditions, poor shelter, and lack of food. Instead, she gave selflessly, providing food and water for the exiled community. Khadijah (rta) died shortly after the banishment ended, as a result of the strain these conditions had put on her aging body. She had been a cultivated woman accustomed to great comfort, and she wasn’t used to such deprivation.

The Prophet (sa) considered her one of the four most perfect women in all of human history along with Maryam (as), the mother of Isa (as), Asiya binte Imran, the wife of Pharoah, and Fatimah (rta) binte Muhammad (sa).

A woman of substance – Khadijah’s (rta) life is an inspiration for all women, who aspire to balance their careers and family life. We need to look up to her, examine her relationship with the Prophet (sa), and see, how we can apply her values in our lives.

It’s a Kind of Magic

6008-000097Rana Rais Khan tells the story of Sulaiman (as) to illustrate the origins and harms of magic

As a child I remember reading Enid Blyton’s books that centered greatly around magic and enchantments of the like. No one ever discouraged me to read them, as they might ruin my beliefs. In fact, such books were greatly encouraged by parents and teachers to enhance reading and imaginative skills among children. May be because the trials of magic were not so rampant as they are now. Today’s teenagers face the same predicament with Harry Potter series. Before we decide, how far we can go with magic, it is important to understand, why it has been forbidden by Allah (swt)?

Allah (swt) had bestowed upon Sulaiman (as) the ability to control Jinnat. He used to demand tough work from them, such as construction of palaces, etc. In order to defame Sulaiman (as), Bani Israel spread propaganda that he possessed magical powers, in lieu of which Sulaiman (as) was able to command over all Jinnat. On the contrary, Sulaiman (as) confiscated and buried all literature available on magic to ensure no evil was perpetuated.

Allah (swt) defended His Prophet (sa) beautifully by declaring that Sulaiman (as) never committed Kufr (disbelief) by resorting to magic. However, the devils did. As a trial, Allah (swt) sent two angels skilled in magic to Babylon in Kufa. Bani Israel would approach these angels to learn magic from them. When the angels warned them that this was a trial from Allah (swt) and that they should not delve in it, Bani Israel would ignore it and follow their satanic desires, learning magic and practicing it, too. These devils practiced the worst form of magic – causing rifts between husband and wife, thus, breaking up homes.

Historically, before Allah (swt) created Adam (as), Jinnat were this world’s inhabitants. When Allah (swt) decided to send mankind to the world, He ordered His angels to drive the Jinnat away towards the seas and islands. Now they hold their court and meet on the waters. On the authority of Jabir (rta), the Prophet (sa) has narrated: “Iblis holds his throne on water and then sends his armies in all directions. Among all the Jinnat, Iblis considers those to be his dearest, who are capable of committing the worst sin. When the Jinnat present their report of mischievous performances, Iblis is not impressed by their job, until one of his subjects comes to declare: ‘I did not leave a man alone, till I caused separation between him and his wife.’ Thrilled, Iblis comes forward and hugs his subject praising him: ‘You are very nice.'” This may also apply to any fight between two relatives, friends, etc.

Allah (swt) states: “They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman. Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said: ‘We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).’ And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s (swt) Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew. And if they had believed and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah (swt), far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew!” (Al-Baqarah 2:102-103)

When I discovered that the marketing campaign of Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix, J K Rowling’s fifth book was worth 4 million dollars, it saddened me to learn how far we can go to earn Allah’s (swt) displeasure. The western world has created an innocent outlook of magic tying it to fun, imagination, and sensation. But that is just a bluff. Even in our country Amils, black magicians, soothsayers, spiritual healers, etc., go scot-free after perpetuating such heinous crimes as driving people to self-injury, depression, domestic violence, and suicide. Instead, they are mushrooming in every city and town. The ignorant masses prefer to visit them for the fulfillment of their desires, instead of praying earnestly to Allah (swt). Little do they know what kind of sickening and evil practices these magicians delve into for gaining control over equally evil Jinnat.

Rest assured – magic does exist and only occurs by Allah’s (swt) leave. Allah (swt) deviates the rebels, who wish to befriend Shaitan, even further on to the road of Kufr, so they will be punished mercilessly on the Day of Judgment. It is considered to be a grave sin to indulge in it even for the sake of fun, since Shaitan is always prepared to deviate the innocent. As the saying goes: “Don’t give the devil a ride, for he will want to drive.”

Innocent fun is a guise for devious intentions. Just reading a book on magic or watching a movie may appear totally harmless, but it opens doors to many inter-related sins, such as superstitions, belief in the supernatural, astrology, numerology, palmistry, fortune telling, etc. Eventually, the devil succeeds in diluting our beliefs in Allah (swt), the All-Encompassing, and unconsciously we ascribe partners to Him by falling for omens and amulets, engaging in star-gazing and saint or grave worshipping. We must know that Shirk is a major sin that Allah (swt) will not forgive. May Allah (swt) protect us all from falsehood. Ameen.

Abu Darda (rta)

Abu Ad-DardaEarly one morning, Abu Darda (rta) awoke and went straight to his idol, which he kept in the best part of his house. He greeted it, anointed it with the best perfume from his large shop, and decked it with beautiful silk.

When the sun was high in the sky, he left his house for his shop. On that day the streets and alleys of Madinah were crowded with the followers of Muhammad (sa) returning from Badr. With them were several prisoners of war. Abu Darda (rta) asked about the fate of his close friend, Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta). Everyone in Madinah knew the bond of brotherhood, which existed between the two men from the days of Jahiliyah. When Islam came to the city, lbn Rawahah (rta) embraced it, but Abu Darda (rta) rejected it. This, however, did not rupture the relationship between them.

One day Abdullah ibn Rawahah (rta) went to Abu Darda (rta)’s house, while he was at his shop, and took out an axe, which he had brought with him, and began destroying the idol while saying: “Isn’t everything Batil (falsehood), which is worshipped besides Allah?” When the idol was completely smashed, he left the house.

Abu Darda (rta) returned home and saw his wife sitting at the door of the room, where he kept his idol. She was clearly distressed and narrated the incident to her husband. Abu Darda (rta) looked at the broken idol and was horrified. He was consumed with anger and determined to take revenge.

However, it was not too long before his anger subsided and thoughts of avenging his idol disappeared. Instead, he reflected on what had happened and said to himself: “If there was any good in this idol, he would have defended himself.” He then went straight to Abdullah, and together they went to the Prophet (sa). There he announced his acceptance of Islam.

From that time onwards, Abu Darda (rta) devoted himself completely to Islam. He deeply regretted every moment he had spent as a Mushrik and the opportunities he had lost to do good. He realized how much his friends had learnt about Islam in the preceding two or three years. He made up his mind to expend every effort, day and night, to make up for what he had missed.

Ibadah occupied his days and his nights. His search for knowledge was restless. He spent a lot of time memorizing the Quran and trying to understand the profundity of its message. When trade kept him away from the circles of knowledge, he reduced his involvement without regret. Someone asked him why, and he replied: “I was a merchant before my pledge to the Messenger of Allah (swt) (sa). When I became a Muslim, I wanted to combine trade (Tijarah) and worship (Ibadah), but I did not achieve what I desired. So I abandoned trade and inclined towards Ibadah. By Him in whose hand is the soul of Abu Darda (rta), I want to have a shop near the door of the Masjid, so that I would not miss any Salah with the congregation. Then I shall sell and buy, and make a modest profit every day. Allah, Great and Majestic, has not prohibited trade, but I want to be among those, whom neither trade nor does selling distract from the remembrance of Allah.”

During his caliphate, Umar (rta) appointed Abu Darda (rta) as a governor in Syria. In Damascus, Abu Darda (rta) found people immersed in luxury and soft living. This appalled him. He called the people to the Masjid and spoke to them: “O people of Damascus! You are my brethren in religion, neighbors, who live together, and helpers of one another against enemies. Is it right that I see your learned ones departing (from this world), while the ignorant among you are not learning? I see that you incline towards such things, which Allah has made you answerable for, and you abandon that, which He has commanded you to do.”

“Is it reasonable that I see you gathering and hoarding, what you do not eat, and erecting buildings, in which you do not live? Peoples before you have amassed wealth, made great plans and had high hopes. But it was not long before what they had amassed was destroyed. Their hopes dashed and their houses turned into graves. Such were the people of Ad. O people of Damascus. They filled the earth with possessions and children. Who is there, who will purchase from me today the entire legacy of Ad for two Dirhams?”

The people wept and their sobs could be heard from outside the Masjid. From that day, Abu Darda (rta) began to frequent the meeting places of the people of Damascus.

Once, he passed a group of people crowding around a man, whom they began to insult and beat. He came up to them and asked: “What’s the matter?” “This is a man, who has committed a grave sin,” they replied. “What do you think you would do, if he had fallen into a well?” asked Abu Darda (rta). “Wouldn’t you try to get him out?” “Certainly,” they said. “Don’t insult and beat him. Instead, make him aware of the consequences of what he has done. Then give praise to Allah, Who has preserved you from falling into such a sin.” “Don’t you hate him?” they asked Abu Darda. “I only detest, what he has done, and if he abandons such practice, he is my brother.” The man began to cry and publicly announced his repentance.

While Abu Darda (rta) was still in Syria, the Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab came on an inspection tour of the region. One night, he went to visit Abu Darda (rta) at home. There was no light in the house. Abu Darda (rta) welcomed the Caliph and sat him down. The two men conversed in the darkness. As they did so, Umar (rta) felt Abu Darda’s (rta) ‘pillow’ and realized it was an animal’s saddle. He touched the place, where Abu Darda (rta) lay, and knew it was just small pebbles. He also felt the sheet, with which he covered himself, and was astonished to find it so flimsy that it couldn’t possibly protect him from the cold of Damascus.

Umar (rta) asked him: “Shouldn’t I make things more comfortable for you?”

“Do you remember, Umar,” said Abu Darda (rta), “a Hadeeth, which the Prophet (sa) told us?” “What is it?” asked Umar (rta). “Did he not say: ‘Let what is sufficient for anyone of you in this world be like the provisions of a rider?'” “Yes,” said Umar (rta). “And what have we done after this, o Umar?” asked Abu Darda (rta). Both men were moved to tears, no doubt thinking about the vast riches that had come the way of Muslims with the expansion of Islam and their preoccupation with amassing wealth and worldly possessions. With deep sorrow and sadness, both men continued to reflect on this situation until the break of dawn.

This was Abu Darda (rta) – the wise man. When people praised his piety and asked him to implore Allah (swt) for them, he replied in humility: “I can’t swim well and I fear drowning.”

Dear Haadia

My friends and I sometimes have fun with the Ouija Board – we call spirits. Is it really a sin to do so? Also, are magic tricks for kids’ parties allowed?

Answer: I have combined a comprehensive answer to both questions, as they encompass the same topic. Before that, it is important to define that magic (or sorcery) is the attempt to use or invoke supernatural powers for sinister purposes. We need to be crystal clear about this evil – it is a major sin, which may jeopardize our Iman.

As Muslims, we must take precautions in dealing with anything or anyone professing knowledge of the unseen or the future. Such beliefs and practices are against the spirit of Islam. Although Ouija board with alphabets and movable pointer may seem innocent, it is used to call upon spirits – we have to be aware, how this can lead to Shirk and destroy the very foundations of our beliefs.

We read in the Quran: “Say: ‘None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allah.” (An-Naml 27:65)

We learn that in Islam both the practice and learning of sorcery have been classified as disbelief, and anyone, who practices it and does not repent and give it up, is doomed to Hell: “And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:102)

Furthermore, our Prophet (sa) said: “The prescribed punishment for the magician is that he be executed by the sword.” (At-Tirmidhi)

We cannot deny the existence of magic, because since time immemorial, people have been practicing it. Though some of this magic may have been fabricated, it is very unlikely that the whole of mankind could have agreed to make up similar stories about magical and supernatural events. Anyone, who seriously contemplates the widespread presence of recorded supernatural phenomena, will conclude that there must be some common thread of reality to them. Haunted houses, séances, Ouija boards, voodoo, demonic possessions, speaking in tongues, levitation, etc., all represent puzzles to those unfamiliar with the world of the Jinns.

The above mentioned occurrences have their manifestations in various parts of the world; unfortunately, even the Muslim world is plagued with it. But behind these phenomena lies the hidden and sinister world of the Jinns, who can travel over vast distances instantaneously and can enter human bodies. The Jinn are the ones, who relate incidents from a person’s past, as in the case of the Ouija board, which appears to answer questions.

Therefore, getting involved in this seemingly innocent activity of calling spirits is not allowed. It is best to turn away and seek Allah’s (swt) help by reading the Quran (particularly Al-Falaq and Al-Nas) and relying only on our Creator.

However, magic tricks do not fall in the category of sorcery – they are just simple entertainment, which does not involve supernatural elements. Therefore, they are not Haram.

At this time, I invite you to reflect on a beautiful Hadeeth of our Prophet (sa). Abu Dharr (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said to me: ‘Fear Allah, wherever you are, and follow a bad deed with a good deed it will wipe it out, and behave with people with good conduct.” (At-Tirmidhi)

For further reading, I recommend “The Fundamentals of Tawheed” by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilah Philips.