Last in Line

Vol 4-Issue 3  Last in line

The four-wheel drive halted suddenly. Sara flung the door open and raced up the steps just in time for her appointment with the country’s most sought after fashion designer.

He took the necessary head to toe details of the bridal wear, not missing an inch of Sara. Sara was thrilled at the thought of how awed everyone would be with her selection of attire.

Next stop was the tailor. Master Sahab did a good job, but it had to be scrupulous. So once again Sara paraded in and out of different dresses in the dressing room. Master Sahab after a tirade from Sara measured and re-measured her for precision.

Now Sara headed for her jeweler, who had promised to show her his exquisite collection. She tried each piece, while the jeweler complimented her and gave her his expert advice. Finally, they found the right settings to go along with her bridal dress.

Sara wondered what she was still missing. Sandals! Oh, by golly, she couldn’t have gone barefoot to her wedding. She made a quick stop over at the shoe shop. There she tried a dozen different heels and cat walked all over the shop. She fancied nothing. Finally, the shop owner personally chose a pair for her. This time Sara was convinced.

The big day finally arrived and Sara couldn’t help admiring her reflection in the beauty salon’s wall to wall mirrors. Her male beautician just couldn’t sing praises enough.

All dolled up, she made a dash for her awaiting car that would whisk her to the wedding reception. Even the driver checked Sara out in his rear view mirror and voiced his admiration.

At the reception amid numerous ‘wows’ the audience talked about Sara. They flocked in line to congratulate her. There were handshakes, kisses and hugs from uncles, cousins, family friends, office colleagues and many other well wishers, some of whom Sara had probably not seen for years.

Suddenly, the camera man caused a stir and catapulted everyone off the stage. He needed to do his job! His photographer ally also stepped into the scene. Finally, the moment for her dream pictures that would capture this magical moment. She posed and they snapped, delighted to have such a beauty before their lens.

Finally, it was time to bid everyone farewell. Hand in hand with the prince of her dreams she headed for her new and exciting life. In her ecstasy, she overlooked her step and fell face flat on the ground. Her head started to reel and everything blacked out.

She felt herself being carried to a strange place. She heard a voice echoing in the background asking: “How many more times will you do it?” Frightened, she asked: “Do what?” “Commit adultery?” Flabbergasted she stammered: “What, what are you saying? I just got married! I have done no such sin – I am a pure virgin!” The voice replied: “After being touched, admired and fantasized about by countless men, you claim to be a pure virgin? Your husband should have been the first man to do so. However, it’s a pity that he turned up last in line. You are nothing but an adulteress. Throw her into Hell!”

Sara screamed for her life, as she was dragged by the forelock and plunged into what seemed like an ocean of fire. Just as the hissing snakes started to entwine her, she begged for mercy and suddenly found herself in her bed with the alarm clock shrilling in her ears. She had to meet up with her designer for her measurements today. By God! Was it all a nightmare? Drenched in sweat and horrified at what could have been her fate, she cried hysterically.

Suddenly, she remembered Allah (swt). Surely, she hadn’t in a long time. But for some reason she just wanted to talk to Him – explain to Him, how ashamed she was for her past, and how thankful she was to Him for literally saving her from eternal doom.

With broken sniffs and a trembling body, Sara knew exactly what to do. She carefully picked up the phone and politely cancelled her appointment with the designer. She wanted to marry as a pure virgin, not as an adulteress. No man will ever touch her now or devour her beauty. There wasn’t going to be any queue now. Her husband will have to be the first in line!

The Fundamentalist

Vol 4-Issue 3 The FundamentalsI fought with my parents to go to college in the US. There I would have all the freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Out of their love for me, parents gave in to my tears and tantrums and sent me to the University of Detroit in Michigan. I started the college in the Fall of 1990-91, that is to say September of 1990 – the year Iraq attacked Kuwait and the year America finally established itself as the saviour of Muslims.

I was elated at the prospect of living on my own, having no one to tell me when to get up, when to eat and, most importantly, who to talk to. It was in college that I learnt the true meaning of double standard. As I was enrolled in English 401, we were divided in groups and given the task to write a paper on the reasons for why the US ‘saved’ Kuwait. My partner was a US army recruit and I was a Muslim ‘fundamentalist’. We had to research and write ONE paper with our conclusion.

The meaning of ‘fundamentalist’ is one who follows the essentials and basics of the theory or religion that one is adhering to. Hence, for being a good doctor, a person should know and follow the fundamentals of medicine. I thought of myself as a good Muslim. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘fundamentalism’ means ‘strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion, especially Islam’. Therefore, a fundamental Muslim basically means a terrorist.

My grade for the paper was a C-, the least required to pass the class. My partner’s John’s was an A+. FOR THE SAME PAPER! “How was that possible in such a democratic country as the US – the land of the brave and the home of the free?” I dared to ask. I went to the dean of the Liberal Arts School; however, she couldn’t do anything as professor K. was a tenured professor. All I got was a change of grade to a B, so that I wouldn’t loose my Cum Laude status.

Now the question arises – why was there a double standard? Just like the pre-partition Indians fighting for the British to leave India were ‘patriots’ to the Indians, but ‘terrorists’ to the British. It was just the matter of which side of the fence you were on. After that incident, I learnt to read between the lines. What do people really mean, when they say ‘Islamic terrorist’ or ‘Muslim fundamentalist? Is there a difference between being martyred or killed? What does it mean, when I am asked to be a ‘moderate Muslim’?

In my opinion, you either are a Muslim or you are not. How can you be moderate about a way of life? Does it mean to follow some parts and not others? What is the criteria for choosing, which parts to follow and which not? Islam does not promote excess, so following the basics of Islam does not mean to be a moderate Muslim but a Muslim fundamentalist. Be a Muslim fundamentalist and be proud of it!

Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta)

Vol 4-Issue 3 Ubayy ibn Kab ra“O Abu Mundhir! Which verse of the Book of Allah is the greatest?” asked the Messenger of Allah (sa). “Allah and His Messenger know best,” came the reply. The Prophet (sa) repeated the question and Abu Mundhir in response recited Ayat Al-Kursi or the Verse of the Throne:

“Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), Al-Hayyul-Qayyuum (the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists). Neither slumber no sleep overtakes Him. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. (…)” (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

The Prophet (sa) beamed and smote his chest with his right hand in approval, and said to Abu Mundhir: “May knowledge delight and benefit you, Abu Mundhir.”

This Abu Mundhir, whom the Prophet (sa) congratulated on the knowledge and understanding which Allah had bestowed on him, was Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) – one of his distinguished companions and a person of high esteem in the early Muslim community.

Ubayy (rta) was one of the Ansar and belonged to the Khazraj tribe. He was one of the first persons of Yathrib to accept Islam. He pledged allegiance to the Prophet (sa) at Al-Aqabah before the Hijrah. He participated in the Battle of Badr and other engagements thereafter.

Ubayy (rta) was one of the select few, who committed the Quranic revelations to writing and had a Mus-haf (transcript) of his own. He was the Prophet’s (sa) scribe. At the Prophet’s (sa) demise, he was one of the twenty five or so, who knew the Quran by heart. His recitation was so beautiful and his understanding so profound that the Prophet (sa) encouraged his companions to learn the Quran from him. Later, when Umar (rta) was busy with financial matter of the state, he told Muslims: “O, people! Whoever wants to ask about the Quran, let him go to Ubayy Ibn Kab.”

Ubayy (rta) enjoyed a special honour with regard to the Quran. One day, the Prophet (sa) said: “O, Ubayy Ibn Kab! I have been commanded to show the Quran to you.”

Ubayy (rta) was elated. He knew, of course, that the Prophet (sa) received commands only from Allah (swt). Unable to control his excitement, he asked: “O Messenger of Allah (sa) (…) Have I been mentioned to you by name?” “Yes,” replied the Prophet (sa), “by your own name and by your genealogy (Nasab) in the highest heavens.”

Any Muslim, whose name had been conveyed to the heart of the Prophet (sa) in this manner, must certainly have been of great ability and tremendously high stature.

Throughout the years of his association with the Prophet (sa), Ubayy (rta) derived the maximum benefit from his sweet and noble personality and teachings. Ubayy (rta) related that the Prophet (sa) once asked him: “Shall I not teach you a Surah the like of which has not been revealed in the Tawrah, nor in the Injil, nor in the Zabur, nor in the Quran?” ”Certainly,” replied Ubayy (rta). “I hope you would not leave through that door, until you know what it is,” said the Prophet (sa), obviously prolonging the suspense for Ubayy (rta). Ubayy (rta) continues: “He stood up and I stood up with him. With my hand in his, he started to speak. I tried to delay him, fearing that he would leave before letting me know what the Surah was. When he reached the door, I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! The Surah which you promised to tell me…” He replied: “What do you recite when you stand for Salat?” So, I recited for him Fatihatu-l-Kitab (the Opening Chapter of the Quran) and he said: “(That’s) it! (That’s) it! They are the seven oft-repeated verses, of which Allah Almighty has said: ‘We have given you the seven oft-repeated verses and the Mighty Quran.’”

Ubayy’s (rta) devotion to the Quran was uncompromising. Once, he recited part of a verse which the Khalifah Umar (rta) apparently could not remember, and he said to Ubayy (rta): “You have lied.” To this Ubayy (rta) retorted: “Rather, you have lied.”

A person, who heard the exchange, was astounded and said to Ubayy (rta): “Do you call the Amir Al-Muminin a liar?” “I have greater honour and respect for the Amir Al-Muminin than you,” responded Ubayy (rta), “but he has erred in verifying the Book of Allah, and I shall not say that the Amir Al-Muminin is correct, when he has made an error concerning the Book of Allah.” “Ubayy is right,” concluded Umar (rta).

Ubayy (rta) gave an example regarding the importance of the Quran, when a man came to him and said: “Advise me.” He replied: “Take the Book of Allah as (your) leader (Imam). Be satisfied with it as (your) judge and ruler. It is what the Prophet (sa) has bequeathed to you. (It is your) intercessor with Allah (swt) and should be obeyed.”

After the demise of the Prophet (sa), Ubayy (rta) remained strong in his attachment to Islam and his commitment to the Quran and the Sunnah. He was constant in his Ibaddah and would often be found in the mosque at night after the Isha engaged in worship or in teaching. Once he was sitting in the mosque after Salah with a group of Muslims making supplication. Umar (rta) came in, sat with them and asked each to recite a Dua. They all did, until finally Ubayy’s (rta) turn came. He was sitting next to Umar (rta). He felt somewhat over-awed and became flustered. Umar (rta) prompted him and suggested that he say: “Allahumma ighfir lana. Allahumma irhamna. (O Lord, forgive us. O Lord, have mercy on us).”

Taqwah remained the guiding force in Ubayy’s (rta) life. He lived simply and did not allow the world to corrupt or deceive him. He had a good grasp of reality and knew that however a person lived and whatever comforts and luxuries he enjoyed, these would all fade away and his good deeds would be his only credit. He was always a sort of warner to Muslims, reminding them of the times of the Prophet (sa), of Muslims’ devotion to Islam, of their simplicity and spirit of sacrifice. Many people came to him seeking knowledge and advice. To one such person he said: “The believer has four characteristics. If he is afflicted by any misfortune, he remains patient and steadfast. If he is given anything, he is grateful. If he speaks, he speaks the truth. If he passes a judgment on any issue, he is just.”

Umar (rta) gave him the title of ‘Sayyid of the Muslims’. He was part of the consultative group (Mushawarah) to which Caliph Abu Bakr (rta) referred many problems. This group was composed of men of good sense and judgment (Ahl Ar-Rav) and men who knew the law (Ahl Al-Fiqh) from among the Muhajirin and Ansar. It included Umar (rta), Uthman (rta), Ali (rta), Abdur Rahman Ibn Awf (rta), MuAdh Ibn Jabal (rta), Ubayy Ibn Kab (rta) and Zayd Ibn Harithah (rta). Later, when Umar (rta) became Caliph, he consulted the same group. Specifically for Fatwahs (legal judgments) he would refer to Uthman (rta), Ubayy (rta) and Zayd Ibn Thabit (rta).

Dear Haadia

What is the difference between a Nikah and an engagement? What kind of a relationship may I have with my husband after Nikah but prior to my Rukhsati? Please, elaborate.

Answer: Dear sister, Islam recommends that a couple wishing to marry see each other and talk in the presence of the woman’s Mahrams. The Prophet (sa) told his companion Al-Mughirah Ibn Shubah (rta) to see the woman he wanted to marry, so that they may approve each other. (At-Tirmidhi) Engagement is merely the confirmation of a couple’s intention to marry. Thus, the couple is still non-Mahram to each other and may not interact freely, though they may meet when necessary for discussing things relevant to the wedding arrangements and future plans, but that too in the presence of the woman’s Mahrams.

Affirming an ‘engagement’ does not require a feast or an assembly for announcing it. It is enough for the couple’s families to spread the news by mouth.

Also, no man may propose to an engaged woman, unless her first fiancé withdraws his proposal of marriage or gives him permission. The Prophet (sa) said: “A man must not propose to his brother’s fiancée, unless he withdraws or gives him permission.” (Al-Bukhari) Annulling an engagement does not require any formal gathering or announcement, and the man and the woman may consider a new proposal, once the prior proposal is withdrawn.

The Nikah, on the other hand, is the wedding contract, which is based on the mutual consent of the bride and the bridegroom. It is attended by Qadi (state appointed Muslim judge) or Mazoon (a responsible person officiating the marriage ceremony), the bridegroom and the Wali (guardians) of the bride, as well as at least two adult and sane witnesses. The Nikah is a verbal agreement, and in most countries, it consists of a legal document as well, which is signed by the groom, the bride, her guardian and some witnesses. It is then concluded by a Khutbah (sermon).

Prophet Muhammad (sa) made it his tradition (Sunnah) to have a marriage sermon delivered in an assembly when solemnizing a marriage. The sermon invites the bride and the groom as well as the participating guests in the assembly to a life of piety, mutual love, kindness and social responsibility.

Any agreements or conditions regarding the Mehr (the gift the groom must give the bride), their married life, their rights on each other, taking additional wives etc. must be agreed on by the couple before the Nikah and stated in the actual Nikah document prior to signing it.

Once the Nikah has been preformed, the couple becomes husband and wife and Mahram to each other, which entitles them to rights Allah (swt) has ordained for spouses. The bridegroom must then arrange a Walimah (wedding feast) for a formal announcement of his betrothal.

For annulling a marriage contract, the husband has to declare that he is divorcing his wife or the wife has to request a Khula – either situation may require stipulated Iddah (waiting period), depending on whether the marriage was consummated or not. Only after the waiting period is completed, the woman may receive new proposals.

Hence, engagement simply affirms the intention of marriage and does not create an actual bond between a man and a woman, whereas the Nikah is the marriage itself, which creates the bond of husband and wife.
Many families prefer to delay the Rukhsati of the bride (the formal handing over of the bride to her husband after the Nikah) because of financial reasons or for giving the groom time to make arrangements for setting up a home. During this period, parents may impose certain rules on how much time the couple may spend together and under what conditions. Sheikh Munajjid points out that since the Rukhsati and consequently the Walimah may be a while after the Nikah, some parents worry that the couple may have a change of heart or there may be a reason for embarrassment, if the wife would become pregnant before Rukhsati. In such case, it is better to follow the advice of parents about limiting time spent alone. Alternately, parents should avoid undue delays of Rukhsati.

We pray for our Muslim Ummah to uphold the beautiful institution of Marriage as prescribed for us by Allah (swt). Ameen.