Hajj Rules Specific to Women

Vol 4-Issue 3 Hajj rules specific to WomenHajj, or pilgrimage to the House of Allah (swt) in Makkah, is one of the five cardinal principles of Islam. This worship was prescribed in the sixth year after Hijrah. It is obligatory upon Muslims, who can afford it, to perform Hajj once in their lifetimes. It takes place only once a year in the month of Dhul Hajj on the ninth.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “…Pilgrimage is a duty men owe to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:97)

Every believer strives for Hajj Mabrur (an accepted Hajj), which is performed by someone with a right intention and sincerity. According to Abu Huraira (rta), Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “An Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) is an expiation for sins committed between it and the next, but an accepted Hajj will receive no less a reward than Paradise.” (Agreed upon)

Islam encourages women to partake in the blessings of Hajj. Aisha (rta) has narrated: “I once asked the Prophet (sa): ‘O Prophet of Allah! Should not we (women) strive and actively participate in the Islamic war with you?’ The Prophet (sa) replied: ‘The best and the most beautiful striving for you in the cause of Allah is Hajj Mabrur.’” Aisha (rta) commented: “After hearing this from the Prophet (sa), I shall never cease performing Hajj.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Before commencing the Hajj journey, women should have the following: a thorough knowledge of Hajj rituals, a sound Aqeedah, fear of Allah (swt), passion to follow only the Quran and the Sunnah, patience in the face of trials and courtesy for fellow pilgrims.

1. Mahram

The first requirement for a Muslim woman to perform Hajj is to be accompanied by a Mahram (her husband or a male relative, whom she is not allowed to marry as per the Quranic injunctions).

According to Shafaee school of thought, a woman may travel with a group of women or even with one trusted woman companion, if a Mahram is not available. This opinion is supported by the fact that after the Prophet’s death, Umar (rta) permitted his (saw) wives to perform Hajj, while accompanied by Uthman (rta) and Abdurrahman Ibn Awf (rta).

2. Ihram

Ihram for a Muslimah comprises of any garment that covers her entire body modestly except for her hands and face. She is also permitted to wear shoes. (Abu Dawood)

3. Talbiyah

Talbiyah means to recite: “Lab-baika Allahumma Labbaik. Lab-baika la-Sharika laka lab-baik. In-nAl-Humda wan-nimata laka wal mulk-la-Sharika lak.”

Every pilgrim is required to say the Talbiyah. According to Ataa: “Men must raise their voices (when reciting Talbiyah), but a woman should raise her voice to as to hear it herself, but she should not raise her voice more than that.”

4. Restrictions of Ihram

A woman in the state of Ihram must refrain from:

· sexual relations;

· clipping nails, cutting or removing hair by any means from any part of the body;

· wearing perfume, Niqab (facial veil) and gloves.

Observing all the restrictions of Ihram, the pilgrims proceed to Makkah. There they can deposit their belongings at their lodging place and hasten to perform Tawaf at the Masjid Al-Haram.

5. Tawaf of Kaba and Sai

Tawaf is circumambulating around the Kabah seven times starting and ending at the Hajra Aswad (the Black Stone). If possible, women can kiss or touch Hajra Aswad without having to push or be pushed by the crowd. They are required to walk at a normal pace in the first three rounds, unlike the men.

Next, the pilgrims are to pray two Rakah at the station of Ibrahim (as) and drink Zamzam water.

Sai is the walk between two hills starting at Safa and ending at Marwah. Seven rounds are to be made at a normal pace, unlike men, who need to walk at brisk pace.

If the woman is performing Hajj Tamattu, then after completing Sai, she should cut her hair and clip her nails. The Prophet (sa) stated: “Women (pilgrims) do not have to shave (their heads); they may shorten their hair.” (Abu Dawood) The restrictions of Ihram are now lifted. On the eighth day of Dhul Hajj, the woman resumes Ihram again and proceeds to Mina.

6. Stay at Mina and Arafah

During this part of Hajj, there are no specific differences between men and women. To maximize the benefit of Hajj, the pilgrims should immerse themselves completely in Allah’s remembrance and refrain from idle talk, sleeping, wasting time, mixing with the opposite gender, etc.

The pilgrims pray Salatul Fajr at Muzdalifah. After the sunrise on the tenth of Dhul Hajj, they proceed to Mina. This day is known as Yaum Al-Nahr.

7. Throwing of the pebbles

Pea sized pebbles are thrown at Jamarah Al-Aqbah, while reciting the Takbeer. Women, children and weak pilgrims are permitted to carry out this ritual at night. If it gets very crowded or difficult, women can appoint someone on their behalf to throw the pebbles at the Jamarah.

After throwing the pebbles, on the tenth day of Dhul Hajj, the pilgrim slaughters a sacrificial animal and cuts her hair, thereby releasing herself from the restrictions of Ihram. She can resume normal activities, except intimacy with her husband.

8. Tawaf Al-Ifadhah

Tawaf Al-Ifadhah is one of the most significant rituals and can render ones’ Hajj invalid, if the pilgrim is unable to perform it. Pilgrims proceed to Makkah to perform Tawaf Al-Ifadhah. Aisha (rta) used to order women to perform it early on the day of An-Nahr, if they feared they would begin to menstruate. According to Ataa: “If a woman (pilgrim) fears her monthly period, she can perform the Tawaf of Kabah before throwing the pebbles at Jamarah Al-Aqabah and even before her sacrificial animal is slaughtered.”

In case of Hajj Tamattu, the woman pilgrim must perform Sai after Tawaf Al-Ifadha.

9. The farewell Tawaf

Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated: “The pilgrims used to leave Makkah in every direction, until the Prophet (sa) said: ‘Let none of you leave Makkah before making a Tawaf around the Kabah as the last of Hajj rites.’” (Muslim and Abu Dawood)

This last ritual should be performed by the pilgrim before leaving for home as a final promise to Allah (swt) to live her remaining life in total submission to her Creator.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Anyone, who undertakes the Hajj just to seek the pleasure of Allah and neither indulges in sexual talks nor in sins, will be purified of his sins, in the same state as he was born by his mother!” (Mishkat)

Lal Masjid in Focus

Vol 4-Issue 3 Lal Masjid in focusDr. Israr Ahmed gave two lectures on the incidence of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa. Here are the excerpts from his speech.

Historical background of Jihadi movements

When the Colonial rule was coming to an end, Muslims around the world started waking up like a sleeping giant from a deep slumber. They remembered that they once had a Deen, their own socio-political system, a glorious past an independent identity. This self awareness gave rise to a number of movements that wanted to re-establish Islamic values and systems. These movements were all contemporaries and had the same driving force. Their motive was to re-establish Islam.

There were movements in Indonesia, Turkey, Iran. The Indo-Pak sub-continent also had its share of such Tehreeks, namely: Hizbullah of Maulana Abu Kalam Azad (1913-1920), Tablegi Jamat of Maulana Ilyas, Jamat ul Muslimeen of the Khairi Brothers, Tahreek-e-Mujahideen in Aligarh, etc. All these movements had good intentions, Khuloos and Ikhlaas, zeal and passion. They even had very clear objectives and target. However, they had no workable methodology for establishing Deen and that was the reason, why none of these Jamaats was successful. These groups tried the prevailing systems of democracy, electoral system but they failed.

However, the USA could see their force, zeal and passion. It realized that if harnessed, these people can move mountains and are not afraid to die. Dying for the cause of Deen is a big honour. At that time, communist Soviet Union was a threat to the American capitalist ideology. The USA decided to use the Muslim world, and the result was the Afghan war. Muslims from all over the world came with sincerity and for the establishment of Deen. Their intensions are not at all questionable but the hands behind them were.

The USA distributed millions of copies of the Glorious Quran and fueled the spirit of Jihad for its own cause. It also supplied arms and ammunition. At the same time, Pakistan also decided to use these Jihadis to serve their own purpose to liberate occupied Kashmir. Thus started a culture of Jihadis – people with good intentions, great motivation and clear target, but no effective methodology.

Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa

Lal Masjid was one of the first mosques built in Islamabad. The clergy of Lal Masjid became an off-shoot of the Jihadi culture promoted by America and Pakistani government. The students at the Jamia Hafsa, under Lal Masjid, were taught the Quran and the spirit of Jihad, all with good intentions and right objectives.

However, the attitude of the USA and Pakistan towards the Jihadis changed after the Afghan war, as they foresaw a threat that might harm them. Hence, they withdrew their support of these Jihadis.

Now, the same Jihadis couldn’t alter their ideologies based on a mission. When they saw Pakistan marching on the road to secularism, they decided to take the law into their own hands, committing a mistake.

At that time, general Pervaiz Musharraf was treading on disturbed waters. His standing and support inside the country was falling. The mayhem involving Supreme court Chief Justice Chaudry was gaining momentum. Then, there was the APC in London.

Now, the taking over of children’s library by the Lal Masjid brigade provided the right kind of distraction. Here was a group of religious extremist militants, and he was the knight in shining armour. He let the small pimple grow into a big infected tumor and then did a major operation. An operation that took many lives of women and children. This military operation could have been easily avoided by using antibiotics of timely negotiations.

Hamid Mir wrote in this article for “Jang” (July 12) that Abdur Rasheed Ghazi said that if their gas, electricity and water supplies were cut off immediately, they could not have stayed locked up for too long in the children’s library. The government kept delaying taking action on the grounds that there were women and children involved. Actually, they could have easily sent women police officers from all over the country for the raid, but no such efforts were made.

However, the leader of Pakistan received a lot of praise and applause from Britain, China and the USA for his stand on fight against terrorism and extremism. Now, his position is better – he has gained support of foreign countries at the cost of his own people’s lives.

Consequences:

This unfortunate showdown of Lal Masjid and Jamia Hafsa will have very serious consequences. On one hand, the militant Jihadi groups will become more aggressive because of the martyrdom of Sheikh Abdur Rasheed Ghazi, and on the other – the secular movements will also strengthen their efforts. More and more Masajids and Madrassahs will be brought down. The polarization has become very clear.

May Allah (swt) help, guide and protect us all. Ameen.

Muslim Weddings

Vol 4-Issue 3 Muslim WeddingsAllah (swt) sent Prophet Muhammad (sa) as a role model for showing us the practical implementation of the Quranic Ayahs. The importance of this role model is stressed in Surah An-Nisa (4:80): “He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)), has indeed obeyed Allah.”

Knowing the emphasis Allah (swt) places on the Sunnah, it is highly unfortunate how far people are from following the Prophet’s (sa) path. We have compartmentalized Islam in our lives and restricted its implementation to the praying mat and the Masjid. Our Deen is an amalgamation of the spiritual, mental, emotional as well as social aspects of a person – it is a complete way of life.

Marriage is one of the most important events in a person’s life. Surah Ar-Rum (30:21) states that it is Allah (swt), Who puts affection and mercy between a man and his wife. Hence, it is one of Allah’s (swt) innumerable Barakahs that He has made Nikah a source of peace and comfort for us. However, we fail to recognize the direct relation existing between His promise of Barakah and His command to follow the Sunnah in all walks of life. Prophet’s (sa) Seerah shows that he got married several times during his lifetime; hence, Nikah is his Sunnah. If we want Allah (swt) to put His Barakah in this relationship, is it not binding upon us to celebrate this event by following the Prophet’s (sa) footsteps entirely? Unfortunately, many of us do not even know how a Nikah is performed as per Sunnah. In this article, Insha’Allah, we will compare the wedding ceremonies that take place in our society today with our Prophet’s (sa) prescribed way of Nikah.

Always remember – keep it simple. “The marriage, which produces the most blessings, is that which involves least burden.” (Tirmidhi) Unfortunately, by adopting numerous non-Muslims customs, we have made Nikah the most complicated of affairs! Planning for the wedding starts months before the due date.

Regarding extravagance, Allah (swt) says: “Verily, the spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils).” (Al-Isra 17:27) Israaf (extravagance) creates envy – the working staff of the house sees such wastefulness around them, while their own children do not get even two proper meals in a day!

Indian films promote the idea of lavish weddings, and Muslims, being followers of culture instead of the Sunnah, trace their footsteps blindly! Multinationals cash in on this trend by endorsing popular songs and TV serials with wedding backgrounds. Gangs of designers and wedding planners further orchestrate this event and make it the ‘business of a wedding’ rather than the ‘solemnization of a Nikah’! The wedding extravaganza held in Karachi (November, 2005) was a proof of this. Apparently, looking like a non-Muslim is a far more appealing concept than upholding the dignity and honour that comes with the Muslim dress!

What’s the harm in adopting a few of non-Muslim rituals? The danger of emulating non-Muslims can be understood from Surah Al-Imran (3:149): “If you obey those who disbelieve, they will send you back on your heels, and you will turn back (from Faith) as losers.”

It is important to understand that every ritual has an underlying Aqeeda (dogma). We celebrate the Peela Joura in the Mayoon with great fervor, not realizing what it means. In the Mushrik Mudahib (idol worshippers), yellow is considered to be a good omen – one that wards off evil spirits and keeps the bride safe from harm. The custom of seven Sohaganain (married women) performing a ritual with sweet and turmeric stems from the belief that this ritual will ensure that the bride would remain a Sohagan (married) for the next seven times she is reincarnated! Can a Muslims believe in reincarnation? Do the beliefs that a particular colour or someone’s marital status bring luck and ward off evil match our Aqeeda of Tauheed? Are we not associating partners with Allah (swt) in terms of putting our trust in places other than Him?

Joota Chuppaee, or finger holding of the groom, is an equally disturbing ritual that goes against the teachings of Islam! A Mehndi is no short of a dance party. Taking a look at such functions, one immediately understands the Hikmah behind Allah’s (swt) commandments regarding segregated functions and limited interaction of the two genders! If the harmful effects of such occasions are pointed out, people immediately take refuge in the famous Hadeeth: “Deeds depend upon intention.” (Bukhari) Interestingly enough, the Hadeeth that “singing produces hypocrisy in the hearts” (Abu Dawood) is neither remembered nor quoted!

There is nothing wrong with celebrating happiness. Various Ahadeeth can be found, where Prophet (sa) allowed young girls to play tambourines and sing songs to celebrate. (Bukhari) However, no Hadeeth mentions girls and boys of all ages expressing their happiness by beating drums, blowing trumpets and dancing all night together!

Another nuisance is that of Jehaiz (dowry). Also here we fail to take a look at the concept behind this custom. It is a well known fact that in all Mushrik Mudhahib (idol worshippers) the value of a female is very low. In pre-Islamic days, daughters were buried alive and were considered a sign of misfortune. Jehaiz stems from the same concept. The value of the girl is so low that her parents have to bribe the groom to marry her! In Islam, however, it is the responsibility of the groom to provide to his wife all the things that we expect the girl’s parents to supply her with.

The more the Jehaiz, the more the Izzat (respect)? Wrong again! We are actually devaluing the girl even further. Our Deen does not permit to put any burden on the bride’s family. We quote the Seerah of our Prophet (sa) and say that he also gave Fatima (rta) Jehaiz (dowry). What most of us don’t know is that the Prophet (sa) bought the things for Fatima (rta) from Ali’s (rta) Mahr money, as Ali (rta) didn’t have a father, and Prophet (sa) was also his guardian. Agreed – parents can give to their daughter gifts for her personal use, for example, clothes, jewellery, make-up, etc. But personal belongings in no way include bedroom furniture, kitchen appliances, car or a sofa set for the drawing room! We see parents going bankrupt. Even today baby girls are buried alive, because their parents fear the time of their marriage!

 

What’s the harm in giving to our daughters what we want, if we can afford it? The harms are plenty. We must realize that the affording class is the trendsetter for the ones below. By giving Jehaiz we are fortifying an un-Islamic custom, the disadvantages and repercussions of which are far reaching. Besides we also demean our own daughter’s value and lure her husband to be and his family into greedy enticements.

Prophet’s (sa) Seerah tells us that getting married is the easiest of affairs. The steps involved are only three!

Step 1: Solemnize the Nikah in a Masjid

“Make this marriage publicly known, solemnize it in the mosques, and play tambourines in honour of it.” (At-Tirmidhi)

There are no such occasions as Barat or Rukhsati in Islam. Nikah should be held in the Masjid, after which the groom should seek the permission of the bride’s father to take the bride home. The bride’s family does not have to host a wedding banquet in honour of the Nikah at all! The wedding party is the groom’s responsibility and is done in the form of a Valima.

Also Baraath stems from the Mushrik Aqeeda (idol worshipper’s belief). In the old days, it was common for the bride to be from one village and the groom from another. The groom and his family knew that on the way back from the Rukhsati, they would also have a lot of Jehaiz to carry. Since, there was no concept of cars or armed guards for protection, the family collected their relatives to make sure that they could protect the Jehaiz from robbers on the way back. Hence, the concept of Baraath emerged that Muslims choose to follow blindly! People argue: “What’s the harm?” Is it not enough harm that it’s not a Sunnah of our Prophet (sa) but a part of the Mushrik Aqeeda?

Step 2: Give the Bride her Mahr (Jointure Money)

Mahr is given by the groom to his bride as a gift. Several Ahadeeth stress the importance of Mahr. The Prophet (sa) once said to a man: “The Mahr that you paid was for having sexual relations with her lawfully.” (Bukhari) Hence, Mahr differentiates Zina from Nikah!

Unfortunately, we have attached several fallacies to the concept. Men generally confuse Mahr with alimony, i.e., the money given by the husband to his wife after divorce! Mahr has nothing to do with divorce. It needs to be paid at the time of the Nikah to make the relations between a man and his wife Halaal.

The bride’s parents think that Mahr is the value the groom puts on their daughter. Hence, the higher the better! They fail to understand that Mahr is not open to negotiation. It’s not a transaction but a gift the amount of which should be decided by the husband on the basis of what he can afford, not what his father can afford.

Step 3: Announce the Nikah with a Valima Banquet

At the time of some Companion’s marriage, the Prophet (sa) said: “Give a wedding banquet, even if with one sheep.” (Bukhari)

The Valima, hence, holds great significance in Islam. Several Ahadeeth show that the only wedding banquet held in a marriage is the one hosted by the groom himself. (Bukhari)

Alhumdulillah, Nikah, if carried out as per Sunnah, is very simple and easy. It only takes Nikah, Mahr and Valima banquet to complete the entire procedure! It is our culture that makes the whole marriage affair so much more complicated!

Hospitality towards Pilgrims

gifts boxesHajj was performed in Makkah even before the advent of Islam. It was supposedly done as a Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim (as) but was more of a business cum social event rather than an act of worship for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. However, one quality of the Arabs that withstood the test of time was their hospitality towards the pilgrims.

The tribe of Quraish, who were the custodians of the Kabah, would go to great lengths in providing food and lodging for the visitors. Trade fairs were organized. A lot of care went into the entertainment and pleasure of the pilgrims. So much so that the pilgrims spent more time in these trade and fun fairs than in performing the Hajj rituals.

The situation is not very different today. Every year, the Saudi government works hard to cater to millions of pilgrims. The pilgrims themselves shop before Hajj in Makkah and Madinah for relatives at home. Some Hajjis consider it essential to buy gold for family members! Prayer mats and beads are a must on the shopping list.

As shopping in Saudi riyals is expensive, some people have come up with an ingenious plan to buy presents in their own countries and distribute them after returning from Hajj, implying that they are from Saudi Arabia. Bringing home deception from Hajj is certainly not a wise option. In some families, relatives give money to the departing pilgrims to help them in shopping for gifts for them, when they return home.

These cultural practices have overburdened us. We don’t find any record of how the Prophet (sa) greeted the pilgrims or how he was greeted after his Hajj; however, it surely is against the spirit of Islam to put undue pressure on the people.

Islam teaches us that it is good to exchange gifts. However, making it obligatory on specific occasions takes away the spirit of giving presents. Not only does the pilgrim waste precious time thinking and shopping for the right gift for everyone, he ends up compromising his Ibaadat for shopping. The pilgrimage of a lifetime becomes like any other vacation.

After the Hajj begins the party season. Every family member and close friend is obliged to give a party in honour of the returning Hajji. The pilgrim must also be given a gift in accordance to the status and closeness of relation. All this hoopla for a compulsory obligation – the fifth pillar of Islam? An obligation that is purely to pay homage to the greatness of Allah (swt) ends up in projection and celebration of the Hajjis. These parties are a burden on the relatives, especially if their budget does not allow it.

 

If we want to avoid this custom, we should inform our family and friends, before proceeding for Hajj. A Hajji should spend all his time in Ibaadat. He should try to make the most of this opportunity to cleanse his soul and build his relationship with Allah (swt). On his return, he can bring Zamzam water, which should be an ideal gift for all the near and dear ones. If someone insists on a Dawat or gift, then he should accept it with humility, knowing in his heart that he has only performed an obligation by Allah’s (swt) Will and Mercy.

The Marriage Sermon

Vol 4-Issue 3 Marriage sermonDiscover the actual meaning of the Marriage Sermon through excerpts from Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s audio lecture “Nikah Mubarak” (transcribed by Sumaira Dada)

Abdullah Bin Masood (rta) has narrated that the Prophet (sa) taught us the following Khutbah (sermon) for marriage:

“Indeed all the praise is for Allah (swt). We praise Him, seek His help and forgiveness. We also seek refuge in Him from the evils of our own selves and from the evils of our deeds. Whoever Allah (swt) guides, no one can misguide him. Whoever He lets go astray, no one can put him back on track. I testify that there is no god but Allah (swt), and I testify that Muhammad (sa) is Allah’s (swt) servant and His messenger.”

“O you who believe! Fear Allah (swt) (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah (swt))].” (Al-Imran 3:102)

 

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah (swt) through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah (swt) is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisa 4:1)

”O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah (swt) and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa), he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and will be admitted to Paradise).” (Al-Ahzab 33:70-71)

(Bukhari, Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmizi, An-Nisai, Ibn Majah, Ad-Darimee)

The Prophet (sa) said: “By Allah! Among all of you, I am the most God-fearing, and among you all, I am the super most to save myself from the wrath of Allah (swt); yet my state is that I observe prayer and sleep, too; I observe fasts and suspend observing them; I marry women also. And he, who turns away from my Sunnah, is not from me (not one of my followers)”. (Bukhari)

Many Muslims get married but, surprisingly, very few actually know what the Marriage Sermon means. Many of these new couples have little awareness of their rights and duties to their partners. Allah (swt) might forgive us, if there is some overlooking of His rights, but as far as the rights of fellow beings are concerned, He will forgive us only if those, who are wronged, forgive.

Praise of Allah (swt)

A believer understands that marriage is a blessing of Allah (swt), and by praising Allah (swt), he expresses his gratitude to Him. Gratitude protects blessings, and the believer feels happy.

Seeking His help and forgiveness

Sometimes, even the smallest thing is enough to disturb us, which proves the fact that we are by nature very weak and in constant need of Allah’s (swt) help. We must seek His forgiveness for all the wrongs we do, including the ones we commit without realizing. Even the Prophet (sa), who was innocent and free of sin, sought forgiveness of Allah (swt) more than seventy times a day. (Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) in Bukhari)

Analysis of the pre-marriage activities and the post-marriage conversations is enough to make one realize our need to repent. The run-up to the marriage involves long shopping trips that usually result in delayed or missed Salah. Extravagant late-night celebrations, usually with the purpose to impress others, have become the highlights of Muslim wedding festivities. The conversations at the wedding party and during the following days involve detailed discussions of people, including backbiting.

Seeking refuge from the evil of Nafs (self)

Prophet Yusuf (as) said: “Verily, the (human) self is inclined to evil.” (Yusuf 12:53) Jealousy, hatred, greed, negative thinking, and arrogance are some of the evils that the human self is inclined towards. Shaitan became the first victim of the evil of the Nafs, when he said: “I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.” (Al-Araf 7:12) Relations are spoilt because of the evil of the self, resulting in the displeasure of Allah (swt).

 

After marriage, the acceptance of Ibadah (worship) depends on the relations between a husband and his wife. From a Hadeeth we learn that when any woman prays her five prayers, fasts during the month of Ramadan, protects her honor and respect and obeys her husband is given the choice of entering Paradise from whichever door she wishes to enter. (Ibn Hibban, Sahih per Al-Albani)

Arguments of the new couple are a result of selfishness and arrogance of the Nafs. During these moments, each partner must remember that only the one, who gives in and is humble, can get love. To attain peace in the relationship, one must give one’s self up to Allah (swt) and seek His refuge from the evil of Nafs.

Seeking refuge from effects of bad deeds

Bad deeds result in a sense of guilt. To release the mountain of worry, we must seek refuge with Allah (swt) from the effects of bad deeds.

Praying for guidance

Guidance is a blessing given only to those, who want it. Even in marital relations Allah (swt) grants guidance, help, and patience to those, who seek it.

Reciting the Shahadah

Shahadah on the occasion of marriage is a reaffirmation of the Muslim faith – a reminder to follow Allah (swt) and to take care of each other fearing by Him. The new couple also pledges to follow the teachings of the Prophet (sa).

Taqwah (Allah consciousness)

We usually think that a successful marriage depends on designer clothes, expensive jewellery, a luxurious house, husband’s high job, or an educated wife. All these factors may be helpful towards building a healthy relationship, but if there is no fear of Allah (swt), relations will be patchy. In the three Ayahs recited in the sermon the word ‘Taqwa’ has been mentioned four times. It is obvious, therefore, that the relation of two people cannot be healthy, until both are mindful of Allah (swt).

Respecting each other

Social customs usually victimize the daughter-in-law. At times, her status is limited to that of a mere house help. This is quite in contrast to Islamic teachings. Anas Bin Malik (rta) has narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) was on a journey, and he had a black slave called Anjasha, who was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: ‘Waihaka (May Allah (swt) be merciful to you), O Anjasha! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!’” (Bukhari) This shows the Prophet’s (sa) attitude towards women.

It is important for the in-laws to give to the new family member some time to adjust. Like a new plant, which at first has some difficulty in adjusting to the new environment, but then takes roots and blooms, the new daughter-in-law has some problems at first, then her roots strengthen – she becomes a mother and gains an important position in the family.

Likewise, the husband also has a right to be respected. If the wife has come from a family, which according to the worldly standards is superior to the husband’s family, it does not mean that she should start enforcing her orders in the new home. It is a situation, where she must remind herself that one gets a place in the household by helping, not by demanding rights.

Relatives – a blessing of Allah (swt)

From a Hadeeth of the Prophet (sa) we know that one, who cuts off relations with relatives, will not enter Paradise. (Bukhari and Muslim) In fact, even this world becomes Hell, when relations with them are unhealthy. Women should be more careful here, as they are usually responsible for making or breaking relationships.

Fear Allah (swt) and speak the truth

From the time the proposal comes to the time the marriage takes place, a lot of lies are usually told to cover such facts as the age of the partners-to-be or the status of each party. If the foundation of marriage is laid on deception, it creates a lot of problems later. We need to put our trust in Allah (swt) and not worry about the match not taking place, if we tell the truth.

The sermon ends with a reminder that whoever follows Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) would have a great achievement. This is something we all need to be mindful of.

Date Palm Education System

Vol 4-Issue 3 Date palm education systemAllah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Amongst the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and is like a Muslim. (…) It is the date-palm tree.” (Bukhari) This was the inspiration for the name of Fozia Ahsan Farooqi’s school – Date Palm Education System. Disillusioned by the emphasis on fancy campuses over quality education by most schools, Fozia Ahsan wanted to build a school, which highlighted the holistic development of the child, making him what the Prophet (sa) desired of a true Muslim.

“Children are like flowers, they need to be nurtured with care,” Fozia Ahsan explains. The date palm is symbolic to her mission: “Its roots (a symbol of emotional stability) uphold the trunk signifying academic excellence, leading to a value based approach to life – the leaves and fruit of the date palm.”

In her seventeen years long teaching experience, Fozia Ahsan has had the opportunity to observe and evaluate the learning development of children. Her observations helped her to develop a series of books entitled “Urdu Ka Guldasta” (“Urdu’s Bouquet”) published by the Oxford University Press (one of their online bestsellers) and devise Urdu school syllabi as Urdu coordinator at Generations’ School, where she previously worked. As she taught children, she continued to work on the methods for making learning easy and fun. She applied different learning techniques in the classroom, noted their effects and then worked towards having other teachers apply them as well. Fozia uses her experiences to make education a nourishing experience for the students of Date Palm Education System.

In order to infuse values into our society, Fozia’s school curriculum includes a daily class introducing to students the lessons found within the Quran. Various Ayahs are taught and their meanings adapted to meet the understanding level of students.

For parents, who desire their children memorize the Quran, Date Palm Education offers a Hifz program. The Islamiyat teachers are proficient in Tajweed and are Hafiz themselves. The school plans to make the memorization of the Quran a part of their regular academic timetable, so that the entire Quran would be completed by the time children would graduate. Fozia Ahsan understands that just as regular academic subjects are taught gradually through out the schooling years, the Quran should also be taught steadily, so that it sits firmly in the child’s mind.

Fozia Ahsan also realizes that for providing academic excellence you need excellent teachers. Dedicated teachers should know their subject well and have passion for teaching. Furthermore, she feels that many teachers simply are not informed about the tools that can make teaching an enriching experience. As a trainer for the Teachers’ Resource Center, she has seen first hand the positive effects of workshops for teachers. Thus, after the school hours and during school vacations, Date Palm Education System organizes for teachers and interested parents workshops on such topics as child counselling, working with teenagers and using audio-visual aids in teaching Islamiyat. By equipping teachers with the necessary skills, she hopes to improve our overall academic culture and ensure a better future for our children.

Date Palm Education System currently has classes from pre-nursery to grade 5 and plans to grow with addition grades every year. May Allah (swt) aid Fozia Ahsan and her team at Date Palm Education to achieving their dream of nurturing the children of today into the Momins of tomorrow. Ameen.

Date Palm Education System

B-277, Block A

North Nazimabad

Karachi

Phone: (+92) 21-6635451

Wedding Websites

By Hafsa Ahsan

http://www.islamicgarden.com/marriagelinks.html

Many people mistakenly assume that the wedding is the most important part of the marriage. Of course, no one can deny the importance of the wedding, but the fact remains that the marriage is above everything else. This website has quite a few enlightening articles, which reiterate the purpose of marriage and the ideal age for marriage. There are also some audio lectures for those of you, whose Internet connections can support them.

http://www.zawaj.com/articles.html#weddings

This is an extremely interesting website, which features loads of articles pertaining to different aspects of an Islamic wedding. You will find tips on how to arrange your wedding, how to avoid the last minute jitters and, most importantly, how to stay within your budget. There are also some words of wisdom – advice to the couple tying the knot as to their roles, rights and responsibilities from their big day forth.

http://www.islamawareness.net/Marriage/extravagance.html

An article that exclusively takes a look at the extravagance during marriage ceremonies and the reasons for avoiding it. Everything here is explained from an Islamic perspective. Dowries taken from the family of the bride are also discussed. Apart from this article, the website contains also other articles discussing various aspects of marriage.

Islamic Products for Kids

By Uzma Jawed

Are you looking for good Islamic products for children? “Goodword Kids Publishers” has the answer for you. They offer a wide range of products, which guarantee that children will be able to explore their creativity by enjoying educational tools based on sound Quranic teachings.

 “Quran Story Puzzles”

(2 – 6 years)

A collection of six puzzles in a single box. The bright colors of these puzzles will appeal to small children. Puzzles will keep them interested and will trigger their curiosity. The back of the main box shows the reach pictures for puzzles along with the narrations of the stories from the Quran.

 “Quran Challenge Game: A Fun Way to Learn About the Quran”

(8 years and older)

This game is a rare find for challenging the mind. As a dynamic and highly effective learning tool, this game provides an ingenious way for students of all ages to learn about the Quran. The questions of the game come directly from the Quran and, hence, offer to the participants the opportunity to attain Quranic knowledge through an entertaining learning process.

 “Tell Me About …” series

(8 years and older)

“Tell Me About…” series are a great way to learn about the Islamic world. They contain lots of interesting facts on such Islamic topics as the creation, Islamic history, Hajj and the lives of prophets. The books in these series are written by different authors; however, all the authors convey the diverse Islamic aspects in a simple, informative style with wonderful illustrations.

 “Islamic Fun Book” series

(7 – 10 years)

The interactive “Islamic Fun Book” series books are successful in appealing to young children. The books contain creative activities that can help convey Islamic beliefs and practices in an effective and playful manner. Ramadan, Hajj, Salah, Quran and the Holy Prophet (sa) are some of the covered topics.

 “Children’s Stories from the Quran: Coloring Books”

(2 – 6 years)

These unique coloring books contain fascinating Quranic stories. This resourceful tool is a perfect way for communicating Islamic messages to young children – they learn the Quranic stories even without realizing it! The books feature simple read-aloud text, which is easy to follow and understand, along with lucid and engaging pictures.

The “Goodword Kids” products are available at “Liberty” bookstore as well as other bookstores around the country. They can also be purchased online: http://goodwordbooks.com/books.asp?sub_cat_code=3

 “A Guide for Mankind”

Noor-e-Quran CDs:

Complete recitation of the Holy Quran with Urdu translation

A resourceful tool, which makes the Quran easy to understand and follow. The Noor-e-Quran audio CDs consist of Arabic recitation from Traweeh prayers by Imam-e-Kabaa Sheikh Abdul-Rehman-Al-Sudais, Al-Sheikh-Saud-Al-Sareem. The Urdu translation has been done by Maulana Fateh Muhammad Jalendhari and is in Shamshad Ali Khan’s voice.

This 30-CD set is intended to help listeners go through the Quran at a clear and measured pace. It is ideal for those, who want to improve their recitation of the Quran, as well as those, who do not speak Arabic, but want to take it a step further for actually understanding, what the Quran is trying to communicate. The voices of the Imams of Masjid Al-Haram make you feel as if you are in Makkah – the listening experience becomes more sacred, and the listener draws closer to Allah (swt).

Presented by: “Sonic Enterprises” (Karachi, Pakistan)

Phone: 2441883-6

Fax: 2434350

Manufactured by: Amin Sona (Karachi, Pakistan)

The Prophet’s (sa) Marriages – Wisdom for Those Who Seek it

role modelMany will agree that the decision to marry is not an easy one. What kind of spouse to look for? How should the wedding be conducted? How to nurture the bond of marriage? – All of these are weighty considerations, especially for those, who seek Allah’s (swt) blessings for a successful and joyous marriage life. As in all instances, we can find the answers to true marital success from our Prophet’s (sa) life.

Our Prophet (sa) was married eleven times. The number itself makes many critics (including Muslims) to shy away from studying the example he sought to uphold through his marriages. His wives were bestowed the title of Ummul-Momineen (mothers of the believers) and truly played the role of the first ladies of the Muslim Ummah, supporting and advising their husband, bringing to him the grievances of people and educating the masses about the Deen.

Additionally, they lived with each other comfortably. They did have their differences but managed to avoid the types of soap operas created by lesser numbers of women living together, let alone sharing a single husband. Each of them gave their consent to marry him, and none of them sought to leave him – even when Allah (swt) promised to provide them with the bounties of this world, if they would divorce him.

Our Prophet’s (sa) first wife was Kadijah Bint Khawaylid (rta). She was a forty year old noblewoman and a respected entrepreneur, who had been a widowed mother and later a divorcee prior to her marriage to the Prophet (sa).Though fifteen years his senior, Khadijah (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) most beloved wife and the mother of his six children. She witnessed the early days of the Prophet’s (sa) mission and was ‘the woman behind the man’- the first to accept Allah’s Messenger (sa) and support him through initial difficulties. After her death, the Prophet (sa) continued to make Dua for her and remembered her throughout his life.

Kadijah’s (rta) death left the Prophet’s two younger daughters in need of a woman’s motherly love. The widowed Saudah (rta) was requested to fill that void. Being a humored person, she soon created a comfortable and light atmosphere in the Prophet’s (sa) home and eventually was considered a mother figure by her co-wives.

Aisha’s (rta) history as the youngest of the Prophet’s wives is often under harsh scrutiny. Her marriage was a direct order by Allah (swt), which the Prophet (sa) received in his dreams. Dreams were a form of revelation also for other prophets, including Ibrahim (as), who was ordered to sacrifice his only son through a dream. Aisha (rta) was six years old, when her marriage was arranged – a feature allowed only to Allah’s Prophet (sa), but a blessing for his entire Ummah, as she became Islam’s foremost female scholar. Aisha (rta) was blessed with an inquisitive mind and incredible memory. Through her close relationship with the Prophet (sa), she would question him about all matters and would then memorize his every word. After the Prophet’s (sa) death, her home became the school, from which many future scholars emerged.

Through marriage with Aisha’s (rta) the Prophet (sa) formed strong family ties with her father Abu Bakr Siddiq (rta) (the first Caliph). Similarly his marriage to Hafsa (rta) did the same with her father Umar (rta) (the second Caliph). Interestingly, even the third and the fourth Caliphs (Usman (rta) and Ali (rta)) shared ties through marriage with the Prophet (sa), as his daughters were their wives.

We see the example of bringing families together by means of marriage also through the Prophet’s (sa) marriages to the war captives Safiyyah (rta) (a daughter of a prominent Jewish leader) and Jawayriyah (rta) from the tribe of Banu Mustaliq.

Zainab Bin Khazeemah (rta), also known as ‘mother of the needy’ for her generosity, and Umm Salamah (rta), an elderly wise woman and a renowned narrator of Ahadeeth, eventually joined the ranks of these blessed women. Their husbands were martyrs and Prophet’s (sa) marriages with them brought them and their children under his protection, thus encouraging the Ummah to help the widows.

Umm Habibah (rta) was Prophet’s (sa) cousin, and their marriage was a long distance one. She was in Abbassinyah, a widowed and destitute mother, when the Prophet (sa) heard of her situation and sent his proposal through a messenger to the King Negus. On her consent, Negus arranged the wedding and a wedding feast, gave her Mehr on the Prophet’s (sa) behalf and even had her transported to her husband. This wedding refutes the belief that the consummation of marriage is a prerequisite for Valima. It also refuted the once prevalent custom of not marrying one’s first cousin.

The story of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Zainab Bint Jahash (rta) is outlined within the Quran (Al-Ahzab) itself – as Allah (swt) Himself had the Nikah preformed in Jannah. She was a divorcee of the Prophet’s (sa) ‘adopted’ son, so this marriage broke down the custom of adoption. This marriage made many a tongue wag and, hence, helped to identify the hypocrites among the true followers of the Prophet (sa).

Since the prophets must face harder trials than their followers and observe more demanding religious rites, they have also been given some privileges for them alone. Such was the case of the Prophet’s (sa) marriage to Maimoona (rta), as stated by Allah (swt) in (Ahzab 33:50-52). She was very pious woman, who had been once divorced and later married and widowed. It was her ardent desire to be amongst the Um-ul-Momineen, even though she knew well the difficult lives they had. Allah (swt) accepted her earnest plea, and the Prophet (sa) accepted her proposal.

The Prophet (sa) treated his wives equally, spending one day with each of them, beginning with Umm Salama (rta) (the eldest) and ending with Aisha (rta) (the youngest). Each was allotted a night with him and lots were drawn to choose, who would accompany him on a journey. Though Aisha (rta) was his favourite, he treated them equally in all matters

Further study of the lives and personalities of the mothers of believers would reveal, why they were selected by Allah (swt) to uphold this special title. A question that ought to be considered by the ‘Muslim’ critics of the Prophet’s (sa) marriages should be: “If we accept him as the Prophet chosen by Allah (swt), may we question his actions and refuse to seek the wisdom within them?”

Glaring Expenses

Vol 4-Issue 3 Glaring ExpensesMarriage is an intrinsic part of life, especially in our socio-religious and family-oriented culture. Each class of the society spends an exorbitant sum of money, which is beyond their particular economic reach, to make the occasion memorable. Since numbers speak a vivid language, a comparison has been chalked out for our readers to understand how much a Pakistani wedding cost today.

It costs a middle class Pakistani no less than Rs. 200,000 to marry off each of their daughters, which by any standard is not a small amount. A person earning Rs.10,000 – 15,000 salary strives hard to meet marriage expenses within Rs. 200,000. He may also have to use some 20 % of his savings and rely on the gifts from close relatives in order to include them in the cost of the dowry.

The elite class takes the whole affair very seriously, and the wedding expenses may estimate over Rs.10 million. In some cases, expenses cross the hefty sum of Rs. 40 million, as decorated bungalows in posh areas are a part of the expensive dowry package.

Their wedding functions, called Dholkis, start 10 to 15 days before the actual wedding day. Sometimes reputed local singers are paid half a million rupees or more to perform for just one night, while some extremely rich people hire singers from India. In some instances, professional dancers are hired a month earlier to train the women of the family to perform at the Rasm-e-Hina ceremony.

Instead of procuring flowers from the local florist, many upper-class families import bouquets from Thailand, Holland, etc. The tradition of distributing only dry dates among the guests after the Nikah ceremony is outdated. Now, costlier packets made of shinning and silky fabric are purchased to encase assorted dry fruits.

For such families, wedding guests mostly comprise of bureaucrats, foreign diplomats, army personnel and dignitaries. The wedding turns into an important event for networking with high profile local and foreign personalities.

Digital photography and movie making has replaced the old VHS technology. The rate of wedding movies and still-photograph packages range from Rs. 13,000 to Rs. 80,000. Bridal make-up rates vary from Rs. 3,000 in lower and middle income class areas to Rs. 8,000 in upper middle class areas. In DHA and Clifton (Karachi), the rate ranges between Rs. 10,000 – 15,000.

New trends in decorating the venue have arrived with the introduction of net tents with chandlers and beaming search lights and even full velvet tents. The rent of tent decorations ranges between Rs. 40 to Rs. 500 per head depending on the demand.

A non-compromising attitude of self-projection is the driving force of many wedding expenses today. One may only wonder, what more is to come?

According to a random survey, families bear the following expenses at their daughter’s wedding:

Income of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 125,000-150,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 60,000-70,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 50,000-200,000
  • Wedding dress and accessories – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Rasm-e-Hina party – Rs. 25,000-30,000

Income of Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 30,000 per month

  • Jewellery – Rs. 60,000-80,000
  • Furniture – Rs. 30,000-40,000,
  • Bridal dress – Rs. 10,000-15,000
  • Crockery – Rs. 5,000-8,000
  • Electrical appliances – Rs. 40,000-50,000
  • Wedding hall and catering – Rs. 80,000-100,000

The Demon of Dowry

Vol 4-Issue 3 The Demon of DowryIt all starts with the birth of a girl. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief.” (An-Nahl 16:58)

Preference for sons prevails mostly in India, China, Pakistan and the Gulf States. Deliberate abortion of female fetuses is not rare: every year, approximately a million female abortions are reported in India alone. “When the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) is questioned: ‘For what sin was she killed?’” (At-Takwir 81:8-9)

It’s not just men, who perceive the births of girls this way; women are also perpetrators of the ‘sons-are-better’ ideology for several reasons. One of them is the anticipation of a future financial burden on the father. A girl has to be provided for by her guardian; she does not mature into a breadwinner. Rather, she goes into another family. Thanks to the Hindu custom of ‘Jahaiz’ or dowry, marrying a girl off after she has been raised can be an even bigger hurdle. The father starts stressing years in advance, about how he will provide each of his daughters with a ‘proper’ dowry.

Dowry is an amount of money, goods or possessions given to the bride by her family at the time of her marriage, in order to attract a good husband. All of which, in effect, become the property of the husband or his family after marriage.

In actuality, the matter of fathers giving their daughters monetary gifts, property, enormous wedding feasts or furnished homes should be left to their own discretion. However, girls are given dowries because they are deliberately left out of the family inheritance. Although, Islam enjoins that each heir be given his share of inheritance – male or female – and prohibits ostentation, extravagance and unlawful acquisition of wealth. To some extent the custom of dowry involves all three of these vices.

A gift is something someone happily and willingly gives; it is not demanded. When Jahaiz is demanded by the bridegroom’s family, it’s a way of acquiring wealth by twisting another’s arm. How can one expect a marriage to be blessed, when at its initiation it best resembles a business transaction, in which each party tries to maximize its own profit?

Even if the bridegroom’s family wants to adhere to Islamic injunctions and renounces dowry, at times the bride’s female family members insist on the custom. The absence of a grand trousseau and an impressive banquet displayed to their social circle is a sign of disgrace for them because: “What will people think?”

Hearsay at weddings involves typical questions: “How many dresses have been made for her trousseau?”, “How much did the crockery cost?”, “How many jewellery sets did she get?”

The bride is sometimes trained to treat everything provided by her in-laws with disdain. She starts her married life expecting only her parents ‘proudly’ provide her with everything she needs. Gifts given by in-laws are usually discarded or not used.

In Islam, it is the husband who provides for his wife after marriage. He has to give her a monetary gift known as dower or Mahr, which the Quran describes as a Fareedah – an obligatory due. “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridAl-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” (An-Nisa 4:4)

“All others are lawful, provided you seek (them in marriage) with Mahr (bridAl-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) from your property, desiring chastity, not committing illegal sexual intercourse, so with those of whom you have enjoyed sexual relations, give them their Mahr as prescribed.” (An-Nisa 4:24)

Whenever a Companion wanted to get married, Prophet Muhammad (sa) would ask him, what he had which could serve as Mahr. When Ali (rta) was marrying Fatimah (rta), the Prophet (sa) went so far as to help him provide modest household items for her, as he was Ali’s (rta) guardian. This proves that if a Muslim bridegroom needs help in setting up a home for marriage, he should be helped, especially by his own guardian.

Sometimes the bride’s family demands an exorbitant Mahr for her, ignoring the spirit of Ihsan endorsed by Islam. This makes it difficult for younger men to marry, thus opening the door to such evils as dating and fornication.

Prevalence of the dowry custom not only jeopardizes the lives of future female infants and makes marriage difficult for girls in general, but also becomes a menace to low-income groups. Despite the existence of laws that prohibit excessive dowry, it is not unusual to find every mother under severe pressure of ‘honorably marrying off’ her daughters. She goes asking door-to-door for monetary help, incurring huge debts to throw lavish wedding feasts and live up to societal expectations.

What can we do to eradicate this custom? In 1976, the government of Pakistan passed a law – the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restriction Act – that prohibited dowry above a specific amount. Sadly, to little effect. Existence of laws can only be effective, if people have Taqwah. The change can come about only if Muslim families truly fear Allah (swt) when performing marriages. How?

By giving precedence to piety over materialism, Allah’s (swt) pleasure over people’s expectations, and fully trusting in Allah (swt) for girl’s well-being after marriage.

Not asking questions about dowry when attending a wedding.

Remembering that girls are provided for and protected by the Best of Providers – Allah (swt).

Even if a few marriages take place with an average Mahr and no dowry, the bridal couple accepting an initially mediocre standard of living can set a trend for others to follow.

Maybe then the birth of a daughter would bring genuine happiness.

The Case for Home-schooling

Vol 4-Issue 3 Home-schoolingDid you know that school is optional? Yes, indeed it is! Although this might sound bizarre to our minds, but only because we have been pre-programmed to think the opposite. As soon as our child has learned to walk and talk, we see sending him off to school as a logical part of his development. Being well-meaning parents aware of the responsibilities conferred upon us by Allah (swt), we look around for that special Alma Mater, to which we feel safe to entrust our offspring. That’s the way our society works nowadays, isn’t it?

Or is it really? Do we really have to feel ‘fine’ about sending that two-and-a-half-year-old child out on a cold winter morning without long pants, just because shorts is the only acceptable uniform at school? And what about the over-crowded classrooms? Incompetent teachers? And skyrocketing school fees? Of course, not always is the scenario so grave, and I do not intend to talk about the badness of the schooling system or undermine the validity of education as such. My aim is to invite you, as parents, to consider the benefits your children and you might reap by opening your minds to a possible alternative – home-based education or, in other words, home-schooling.

In his book “How Children Learn,” John Holt (1927-1985), a leading American educational and social critic, offers meaningful insights into the delicate and unique ways young children acquire knowledge about the surrounding world:

The child is curious. He wants to make sense out of things, find out how things work, gain competence and control over himself and his environment, and do what he can see other people doing. He is open, perceptive, and experimental. He does not merely observe the world around him. He does not shut himself off from the strange, complicated world around him, but tastes it, touches it, hefts it, bends it, breaks it. To find out how reality works, he works on it. He is bold. He is not afraid of making mistakes. And he is patient. He can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance, and suspense… School is not a place that gives much time or opportunity, or reward for this kind of thinking and learning.

It is before they get to school that children are likely to do their best learning. (…) I believe, and try to show here, that in most situations our minds work best, when we use them in a certain way, and that young children tend to learn better than grownups (and better than they themselves will when they are older), because they use their minds in a special way. In short, children have a style of learning that fits their condition, and which they use naturally and will until we train them out of it. We like to say that we send children to school to teach them to think. What we do, all too often, is to teach them to think badly, to give up a natural and powerful way of thinking in favour of a method that does not work well for them and that we rarely use ourselves.

If we have felt confident enough about teaching to our child such essential skills as walking and talking, then why do we all of a sudden feel obliged to hand over our offspring to the schooling system for his further education? Aren’t we, as parents, more aware of their abilities and learning styles than the class-teacher, who has to attend to the needs of more than a dozen at once?

 

Every child is special in his own way, and often the schooling system tends to become a melting-pot which strips him of his natural inquisitiveness and love for learning. How? Well, by forcing over-seasoned with fact textbooks prepared by wise grownups down his throat. How can he possibly develop into a socially-responsible individual with a well-rounded personality? Why don’t we, as parents, claim our right to being the most important people in the life of our child?

Allah (swt) has ordained us to seek knowledge throughout our lives but has not put on us any restrictions regarding the ways and means it should be done (with the exception of getting involved in Haram, of course). However, Islam does single out parents, especially the mother, as the one responsible for good upbringing of the child.

Home-based education and caring family involvement give the child numerous benefits. Parents have the opportunity to create a unique curriculum for their child, focusing on the areas of his interests and emphasizing the Islamic aspect of every subject. Lessons can easily be adapted to the learning speed of the child, slowing down or speeding up, when necessary. No classroom stress, no bullying, no peer-pressure. If the child ‘calls in sick’ some morning, the day can quickly turn into a crafts project or any other activity your child particularly enjoys.

The time children spend with us, parents, is very short, if we compare it to the years they will spend on their own in the world of grownups. This short time is our opportunity to give them our best for enabling them to make the right choices to further their lives.

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar (rta) that the Prophet (sa) said: “Beware, every one of you is a shepherd and every one is answerable with regard to his flock. (…) A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral well-being). A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned about them (as to how she managed the household and brought up the children). (…) Beware, every one of you is a guardian and every one of you shall be questioned with regard to his trust.” (Muslim)

“What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Not Fair!

Vol 4-Issue 3 Not fairDid you know that a generation back in corporate America, CEOs made 40 times more than workers? Today they make 400 times more. Did you also know that in the US 44% of discrimination cases won by workers are reversed on appeal, while only 6% of cases won by employers are reversed? In all likelihood, the Pakistan scenario is much worse. Although laws requiring protection of workers’ rights are in place, enforcement is ineffective due to limited resources and corruption. It seems that whether it’s corporate America or a local company in Pakistan, fairness at the workplace is not really on the priority list of employers.

It’s mind-boggling to understand, why Muslim employers are unmindful about the importance of justice in Islam. Perhaps, they are unaware or may be they just need a reminder. So, let’s take a look at what Allah (swt) and Prophet Muhammad (sa) say about fairness.

Allah (swt) says:

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.” (An-Nisa 4:135)

“Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (i.e., justice and worshipping none but Allah Alone—Islamic Monotheism).” (An-Nahl 16:90)

“Verily, Allah loves those who act justly.” (Al-Maidah 5:42)

Prophet (sa) says:

Abdullah Bin Umar (rta) narrated: “Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: ‘Injustice will be darkness on the Day of Standing.’” (Bukhari)

Ibn Abbas (rta) narrated: “The Prophet (sa) sent Muadh (rta) to Yemen and said: ‘Fear the curse of the oppressed one, as there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.’” (Bukhari)

Rights Given to Workers

If Allah (swt) has placed so much importance on ensuring fairness, let’s look at some of the rights employees have been given.

Right to receive prompt payment

Abdullah Bin Umar (rta) reported Prophet Muhammad (sa) as saying: “Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries.” (Ibn Majah)

Right to considerate treatment

Anas (rta) said: “I served the Messenger of Allah (sa) for ten years, and he never said to me ‘Shame!’ or ‘Why did you do such and such?’ or ‘Why did you not do such and such?’” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Abu Hurairah (rta) reported Allah’s Messenger (sa) as saying: “A slave is entitled to his food and clothing, and he should have imposed on him only such work, as he is capable of doing.” (Muslim)

Right to equal treatment

Al-Marur (rta) has narrated: At Ar-Rabadha, I met Abu Dharr (rta), who was wearing a cloak, and also his slave was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied: “I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names. Prophet Muhammad (sa) said to me: ‘O Abu Dharr! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names? You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah (swt) has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity and if you do so, then help them.’”

(Bukhari)

According to Abu Hurairah (rta), Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Your servant brings your meals to you, then if someone does not let him sit and share the meals, then he should at least give him a mouthful or two mouthfuls of that meal or a meal or two meals, as he has prepared it.” (Bukhari)

Rights of the Employer

Demanding rights and not fulfilling duties would result in injustice to the employer. Among the rights awarded to employers is:

Right to be served with sincerity

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated: “Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: ’Goodness and comfort are for him, who worships his Lord in a perfect manner and serves his Master sincerely.’” (Bukhari)

How can Employers Create a Fair Workplace?

1. Make Dua

The importance of praying to Allah (swt) should not be underestimated. The person seeking to enforce justice can say the following Quranic Dua: “My Lord! Bestow Hukm (religious knowledge and right judgment of the affairs) on me, and join me with the righteous.” (Ash-Shuara 26:83)

2. Have an open-door policy

Modern managers harp on and on about keeping an open-door policy. Yet, Caliph’s Umar’s (rta) open-door policy is enough to put such fancy talk to shame. Often foreign envoys and messengers sent to him by his generals found him resting under a palm tree or praying in the mosque among the people, and it was difficult for them to distinguish, which man was the Caliph. He also insisted that his appointed governors live simple lives, keep no guard at their doors and are accessible to the people at all times.

3. Be prepared to apologize

Abu Hurairah (rta) has narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Whoever has wronged his brother should ask for pardon, as there will be neither Dinar nor Dirham (in the hereafter), for he should do this before some of his good deeds will be taken and given to his brother, and if he will have no good deeds, then some of the bad deeds of his brother will be loaded on him (in the hereafter).” (Bukhari)

4. Get out of your office and meet the workers face to face

Modern management calls this action ‘walk-arounds.’ Although fancy management literature did not exist at the time of the four rightly guided Caliphs, the Islamic principles were sufficient for motivating them to be fair and just. Once again we have Caliph’s Umar’s (rta) example – he spent many watchful night on the streets of Madinah to see whether anyone needed help.

5. Be ready to counsel someone, if you feel he/she is being unfair

Anas (rta) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Help your brother, whether he is the oppressor or the oppressed one.” People asked: “O Allah’s Messenger (sa)! We rightfully help the oppressed, but how can we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (sa) said: “By preventing his hands from oppressing others.” (Bukhari)

A Muslim Woman’s Surname after Marriage

Contributed by Naba Basar

Sheikh Saud Al-Funaysan, former professor at Imam University:

A woman has to keep the name of her father and not her husband after marriage. Ahadeeth give a severe warning for the person, who attributes himself to other than his or her father.

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers; that is more just with Allah (swt). But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith, Mawalikum (your freed slaves). And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Azhab 33:5)

Due to the seriousness of the matter, if a woman has her legal documentation, such as her passport, in her husband’s family name, then she has to change her official documents back to her father’s family name if she can, even if she in her daily practice abides by the legal ruling and people call her by her father’s name and not her husband’s.

Fatwah Department Research Committee of “IslamToday”, chaired by Sheikh Abd Al-Wahhab Al-Turayri:

To understand this matter, consider the fact that a woman does not rightfully belong to her husband’s family by way of lineage. Her lineage stays as it always was. Consider this: if her husband were to divorce her, who would be her guardians? Also, from whom does she inherit?

The above mentioned verse in the Quran (Al-Ahzab 33:5) commands us to attribute children to their true biological fathers even after adoption. The most it allows is that the child casually refers to his guardian as ‘father’, or the man to the child as ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ out of affection or absentmindedly; however, it forbids the change of the child’s name or a formal claim of attribution.

This is a general rule. All Muslims must carry their fathers’ names. There is no evidence from the Quran or the Sunnah that a woman, upon marriage, is exempted from the general rule of attribution to her own father and her own family. All women from the time of the Prophet (sa) onwards continued to be attributed to their own fathers after marriage, regardless of whether their fathers were Muslims or non-Muslims.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever attributes his lineage to other than his father or claims other than his master as his master, then he has upon him the curse of Allah (swt), His angels and all humanity.” (Abu Dawood) Also: “Whoever claims as his father other than his father knowingly, then Paradise is forbidden him.” (Abu Dawood) These Ahadeeth are authentic. The matter is serious.

Those, who claim that there is contrary evidence allowing women upon marriage to attribute themselves to another person’s lineage, must produce their evidence for such a serious matter.

Allah (swt) knows best.

Etiquette of Proposing

Vol 4-Issue 3 Etiquettes of Proposing

Seeking marriage is highly recommended in Islam. Having taken the decision to marry, the hunt for a potential spouse begins. With the help of relatives, friends and at times matrimonial services the task becomes faster and easier.

However, while looking for a potential mate, one must remember that this cannot be done at the expense of the Islamic rules pertaining to modesty and respect between the sexes. Therefore, proper Islamic guidelines must be followed.

Firstly, one must be sure of the reason why they want to take this step. It should be based on the Islamic perspective, i.e., the Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Secondly, it is important to be clear of what you are looking for in a spouse. The Quran enjoins Muslims to select partners, who are good and pure.

“Good statements are for good people (or good women for good men) and good people for good statements (or good men for good women).” (An-Nur 24:26)

According to sound Hadeeth: “Men choose women for four reasons: for their money, for their rank, for their beauty and for their religion, but marry one who is religious and you will succeed.” (Bukhari) This, of course, applies to women as well. If we want to have healthy Muslim families, then Deen has to be the priority. After this we may consider our personal preference, since attraction is necessary for the success of a marriage. This includes social status, appearance, age, etc.

Thirdly, one should use the help of others: especially parents, relatives, an Imam or respected and trustworthy members of the Muslim community. They will not only be your reference, but will, Insha’Allah, suggest individuals as prospective spouses, thoroughly screen and check proposals, call references and initiate and participate in the communication process.

Remember, however, that the final decision is yours.

While backbiting is generally forbidden in Islam, marriage investigations are an exception to this rule. The people you ask may know something about your prospective spouse. If they reveal this information, they would not be backbiting from the Islamic perspective. In fact, in the case of seeking marriage, complete information should be given about an individual, both good and bad.

Fourth, after due consideration of the available possibilities and the decision to propose marriage to one of them, the man should pray two Rakahs followed by the supplication of Istikharah. Next, he may initiate the Khitbah – the request to marry a particular woman and the expression of that desire to her or her guardian.

Often, the first meeting occurs between the women or men of the two families, in which the man conveys his wish to marry. At this point, one may pause to allow the woman and her guardian to do Istikharah and decide whether to pursue the matter further. Once there is a primary agreement between the two parties, the would-be-spouses are allowed to see each other for matrimonial purposes under the direct supervision of their Mahram relatives. This provision is expected to be conceived and executed with piety and modesty. It is not permissible for a man to see a potential wife without Hijab, since he is not her Mahram, seeing her face and hands is enough to determine physical attraction.

“When one of you asked a woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what will induce him to marry her, he should do so.” (Abu Dawood) This means the two potential spouses can look at each other but not ogle or stare.

“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah is All-Aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except that which is apparent (like both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer palms of hands or one eye or dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.) and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e., their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms)…” (An-Nur 24:30-31)

Fifth, when meeting a prospective mate, one should not meet alone. “Not one of you should meet a woman alone, unless she is accompanied by a relative within the prohibited degrees.” (Bukhari)

The two cannot be in a situation, where no one else can see or hear them. Instead, a discreet, chaperoned meeting should be set up. Meetings between prospective spouses must not last for an extremely long time, like being away most of the day to meet this person. There should be an allotted time for the two to meet and talk.

When talking to each other, one must remain within the Islamic guidelines, thus, being to the point and being businesslike (no flirtatious speech or of a sexual nature). One must be honest with regards to their credentials, background and other pertinent details about their personal lives.

Some of the topics to discuss can include each other’s interests, financial situation of the man, level of Islamic knowledge and practice, future career and education plans, home making skills, where the couple will live right after marriage and the two potential spouses’ relationships with their parents.

Finally, one should take their time before making hasty decisions. More time must be given to checking facts and references. There should be a firm and clear intention of either pursuing marriage, or if proven incompatible, a quick end to the relationship. This ensures that both sides would be safe from transgressing the boundaries of Islam. However, once a promise of marriage is made, it should be fulfilled, unless there is a valid reason for withdrawing it.

May Allah (swt) accept our sincere efforts in this regard, and may we always keep in mind that even if things do not work out, our having made Istikharah means that we have now left it to the will of Allah (swt) and we should be pleased with what He wills and never be disheartened.

Ummul-Mumineen – Aisha (rta)

Slide2

Name: Aisha Bint Abi Bakr

Kunniyat: Umm Abdullah

Title: Siddiqa and Humaira

Father: Abdullah – Abi Bakr Ibn Abi Qahafa

Mother: Zainab – Umme Ruman Bint Aamer

Clan: Banu Tumaim

Tribe: Quraysh

Birth: 5th Shawwal AH – 615 CE

Death: 17th Ramadan, 58 AH – 681 CE

How does one begin to define the life and times of a daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (rta) – the most eminent of Companions – and the wife of the most remarkable man of all times – the Messenger of Allah (sa)? Even among these stellar associations, she shines as an individual to reckon, which says volumes about her character and personality.

Even as a child, Aisha (rta) showed exceptional intelligence. She was about six years of age, when the Prophet (sa) saw her in her father’s house playing with some toys, including a toy-horse with wings. The Prophet (sa) asked her: “Aisha, do horses ever have wings?” Instead of feeling shy in the presence of this great man, Aisha (rta) confidently replied: “Yes, King’s Solomon’s horse did.”

Aisha (rta) was at various times a judge, a political activist and, after the death of her husband, an indispensable source of knowledge about the life and teachings of the Prophet (sa). Even such senior Companions as Umar (rta) frequently consulted her about matters, in which they were doubtful. Even Tabi’in, the great scholars of Ahadeeth and Fiqh, learned from her. A part of what they learnt has come down to us in the form of numerous traditions that are narrated on her authority.

She was strong-willed and fiercely feminist – but not a rebel without a cause. Hence, we see her defending women’s rights – even negating opinions of other Companions. On hearing some Companions narrate that if a woman, dog or donkey crosses in front of a person praying, the prayer gets disrupted, she got angry and said: “You did gross injustice in putting us together with dogs and donkeys. The Prophet (sa) would pray and I would lie in front of him; when he wanted to prostrate, I would gather my legs.”

When she felt some women deviating from the Islamic code of conduct, she said in no uncertain terms: “Had Allah’s Prophet (sa) known what the women were doing, he would have forbidden them from attending the Mosque.” (Bukhari) Her brand of feminism was firmly entrenched in Islamic teachings. She had no ego issues about standing behind a man in congregation or a chip on the shoulder about remaining in Purdah.

Syed Sulaiman Nadwee says: “ The greatest favour that Aisha (rta) has done to women is to demonstrate that a Muslim woman, living in Purdah, can actively participate in literary, religious, social and political activities and can work for the betterment of the community.”

Aisha (rta) did not simply teach and preach Islam – she lived it. She led a truly Muslim life of prayer, charity and struggle for truth and justice. The Prophet (sa) once gave her this advice: “Aisha, if you want to meet me (again in the life to come), then treat this world like a traveler’s meal and do not attend the gatherings of the rich and the powerful, and do not consider clothes old as long as they can be mended.” (Ibn Sa’ad)

During the Caliphate of Umar (rta) and afterwards, wealth began to pour into the hands of Muslims. A due share of it came to Aisha (rta), but she gave away almost all she received. Once Abd Allah Bin Zubayr sent her 100,000 dirhams, but by the end of the same day, she had given it all away. Ibn Sa’ad reports Urwa as saying that on one occasion he saw her distribute 70,000 dirhams and then get up shaking the front of her dress, as if she were clearing it of dust. Aisha (rta) also often kept Nafl (supererogatory) fast and rarely missed Hajj.

This is but a glimpse of an inspiring life!

Some people like to focus only on: “How old was she, when she got married?” or “What about the Battle of the Camel (Jamal)?”

The Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) marriage to Aisha (rta) was an exceptional one. Waheeda Carvello observes: “Here we have a man nearing the end of his life and a woman still near the beginning of hers. Aisha (rta) had a lively temperament and was quick to learn. She had a clear heart and an accurate memory.”

It is important, however, to dig deeper and to bring out the real significance of this union. The emphasis here is on education and the cultivation of the intellect, which every human is blessed with. We must remind ourselves that if knowledge is not related to and acquired through action, it cannot be used for reconstruction of society.

What we lack today is the application of knowledge. Most of us are educated – in some instances, very highly educated – but how well do we understand what we have learnt? And how many of us have the commitment and the strength to apply it? Let alone implement it? This is what made the marriage of Aisha (rta) to the Prophet (sa) so exceptional.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) encouraged intellectual growth and debate. Although Aisha (rta) was intelligent, she had a great deal to learn. The Prophet (sa) tutored her with love and understanding and enhanced her potential. Through this interaction with the Prophet (sa) and the other wives, she became very knowledgeable. Like any student, she would sometimes feel insecure regarding her progress, and the Prophet (sa) would always help her and assist her in improving herself. She was never short of words and was not afraid to question or debate in order to find out the truth. When she got older, she passed on the knowledge she had received from the Prophet (sa), and long after his death, she was a source of knowledge and wisdom for both women and men.

Aisha (rta) accompanied the Prophet (sa) on many expeditions. She participated with total courage and commitment in the battles of Badr, Uhud and Khandaq and learned through these experiences. Through this kind of training, and as an active participant, she developed into a mature eloquent woman, who could fully participate in the affairs of the first Islamic state and be a beacon for all times to come.

The Battle of the Camel was an incident that caused Aisha (rta) tremendous grief. On remembering it, she would say: “I wish I was a stone, I wish I was a tree.”

The focal point of Aisha’s (rta) remarkable life is her commitment to the cause of Islam under all circumstances, her unfaltering devotion and love for her husband and her submission of her will and intellect to the will of Allah (swt).