Stand up!

According to Bushra Anwar, we ought to be prepared to speak up our mind to promote what is right! The rewards are manifold.

I was rifling through old papers the other day and found a crumpled, tea stained photograph. In it I stood smiling as I collected my prize during the speech day at my old school. I clearly remember the scene. I was standing in line with my friends, chattering excitedly, when my teacher approached. “Child!” she squeaked loudly. “What is that THING on your head?”

I looked at her innocently. “I do not know?” I pulled my scarf even lower on my forehead.

“You know the Principal will not like it! Please take it off before going on stage! Of course, you can put it back on afterwards.”

“I am sorry,” I repeated, while my friends looked on. “I am going to have to keep this on.”

This went on for a while. Finally, I stepped out of line. “It is quite alright. I do not mind taking my prize later. But I am not going to remove my head cover”.

My friends spoke up, as well as a few supporting teachers.

In the end, I won my case. Walking tall and straight up on the stage, I collected my prize; smiled a thank you and walked off.

But here I am not illustrating how I performed some heroic deed; it is more than that. One lesson I learnt that day was to stand up! Not to just let everyone run over me.  But to know who I am and be it.

We often complain of unfair things and rage against the system, which does not let us make our own choices. That is untrue. Who said you cannot do anything, at least in your personal lives? In the face of adversity, there is no need to blow your top. Use logic and reason to win your case.

We are often also afraid of what friends will say. That is okay; it is perfectly normal to be apprehensive about how others will rate our actions. However, when you are the only one standing up for the shy girl who everyone in the class is making fun of, people will learn to respect others and believe in justice.

I have often noticed that people behave in a certain manner, ignoring reason, just to fit in the crowd. At other times they do not have adequate knowledge either to tell them right from wrong.

One day in sociology class a girl was advocating the Darwinism thesis. When I told her I did not believe in it and that I accepted Adam (as) to be the first human, she looked at me for a second and exclaimed amazed, “I never even thought of that!” I was equally amazed, but it just proved that people are waiting to be informed about concepts. Obviously, it does not mean you go around propounding your views. You can have discussions with friends whenever opportunity knocks. Try putting up posters around your school. Write letters to newspapers explaining your point of view. The point is to spread the good word in the best possible manner, whenever you can.

Afraid that you will be the only one standing up for the right and everyone else will be on the other side of the fence? Think twice. There are many silent supporters who are only looking for a voice to back them up. At parties, for instance, maybe your reminder for Maghrib prayers is just what everybody is waiting for! So you can either sit and stare helplessly at all the wrong happening around you or you can be the catalyst for change, which will make you feel better about yourself and strengthen your beliefs too.

Bilal bin Rabah (rta)

Hafsa Ahsan recounts the arduous life and the strong faith of the noble companion

Bilal (rta), was the first Muadh-dhin (the one who gives the Adhan) of Islam. In pre-Islamic Arabia, Bilal (rta), tall, thin and slightly hump-backed, was a slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf.

Bilal’s (rta) first encounters with Islam came when he began overhearing conversations between Umayyah and his guests, discussing the negative aspects of the new religion. But instead of being warded off, he felt drawn to Islam. After that, he would often hear Abu Bakr (rta) when he called people to Islam. Finally, he went to Prophet Muhammad (sa) along with Abu Bakr (rta) and embraced Islam.

Since he was a slave and did not have any strong tribe to defend him, Umayyah tortured him heavily. He made him lie face down on the scorching sand, wearing a suit of armour, when the sun was at its peak. Then he would have heavy rocks placed upon Bilal’s (rta) chest and would say: “You will stay here until you die or deny Muhammad (sa) and worship Al-Laat and Al-Uzzah.” Bilal (rta) only uttered: “One, One,” referring to Allah.

On one such day, Abu Bakr (rta) admonished Umayyah: “Have you no fear of Allah that you treat this poor man like this?”

“You are the one who corrupted him; so save him from his plight,” Umayyah hit back.

Abu Bakr (rta) replied: “Then sell him to me, you can state your price.”

Umayyah set a very high price, which Abu Bakr (rta) agreed to pay. In a derogatory way, Umayyah then said: “I would have sold him to you even if you had offered me but an ounce of gold.”

Abu Bakr (rta) who was not to be deterred, said: “I would have bought him even if you had asked for a hundred ounces.”

Once the deal was finalized, Abu Bakr (rta) took Bilal (rta) with him to Prophet Muhammad (sa) and set him free.

In the post-Hijrah period in Madinah, the issue arose of how to summon people to the mosque for prayers. One day, Abdullah bin Zaid (rta) recounted a dream to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) in which a man taught Zaid (rta) the words for the Adhan. “It is a true vision Insha’Allah,” said Prophet Muhammad (sa). “Go and teach it to Bilal for he has a more beautiful and far reaching voice.” Hence, Bilal (rta) earned the unique honor of being the first ever Muadh-dhin of Islam.

Bilal (rta) added to his list of honors when Prophet Muhammad (sa) ordered him to resound the Adhan from the rooftop of the Kabah after the victory at Makkah. He remained the Muadh-dhin during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

After the death of Prophet Muhammad (sa) Bilal (rta) was asked to make Adhan before his burial. He started, but when he came to the name of Prophet Muhammad (sa) he was crying so hard, he had to discontinue saying the Adhan. “By Allah I will not say the Adhan anymore,” he declared.

During the Caliphate of Abu Bakr (rta), he requested to be sent to Sham for Jihad, and spent the rest of his life fighting in the way of Allah. He made Adhan only twice: once when Umar (rta) visited Sham and second, when he visited the tomb of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

Bilal died in Aleppo at 64. His last words were, “Tomorrow you will meet your loved ones, Muhammad (sa) and his Companions.”

Bilal occupies a distinguished position in Islam. Umar (rta) would say: “Abu Bakr is our master and he freed our master (Bilal).”

To this Bilal would say: “I am only a man who used to be a slave.”

How Do My Friends Treat Me?

Vol 1-Issue 2   How do my friends treat meSomeone once quoted: “Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.” So we know that a man is known by the company he keeps.

Friendships are formed on the pretext of common interests and similar values. But at times we desperately try to grow a friendship simply to fit into a crowd we consider cool. This may even mean giving up our own identity, changing appearances, anything short of selling our soul just to be accepted. Guess what? If that is the case, we are definitely hanging out with the wrong people and probably at the wrong places too!

A simple quiz can help you assess what your friendship is truly worth. Visualize your close friends and answer the questions below honestly.

  1. Do I have to put up pretences in the presence of my friends?
  2. Can I trust my friends with secrets?
  3. Do my friends agree with everything I do without ever correcting me?
  4. Do I suspect my friends make fun of me in my absence, especially if they are habitual backbiters?
  5. In the hour of need, do they make sacrifices for me?
  6. Are they sincere enough not to misuse my money and belongings?
  7. When I have trouble with my relations, do they instigate me further?
  8. Can I reveal my weaknesses before them without becoming a laughing stock?
  9. Am I hesitant to call my friends over to my house and meet my family?
  10. Can I call my friends good practicing Muslims who fear and love Allah?

If most of your answers are in the affirmative, way to go! You are one of the lucky ones whom Allah has blessed with good companions. But if your answers are in negative, you need to seriously consider your friendships. It is not necessary that people who are the life of a party can be meaningful friends too.

Example of a True Friend 

Abu Bakr (rta) is an unrivalled example of friendship and love for Allah (swt). Our Prophet Muhammad (sa) once said: “If I was to take a Khaleel (intimate friend) in this life, it would have been Abu Bakr. But our brotherhood in faith is enough.”

Abu Bakr (rta) was blessed for being the first and foremost, in his belief, his support and his love for the Messenger (sa). For this quality he was honoured with the title of As-Siddiq (Verifier of faith).

  1. He trusted Prophet Muhammad (sa) in the most turbulent times, like the incident of Ascension (Mairaj) when the majority disbelieved.
  2. At the battle of Tabuk, Abu Baker (rta) gave away all of his wealth and possessions for Allah (swt).
  3. In the cave of Thaur, when hiding from the chasing enemies, Abu Bakr (rta) covered the holes of snakes with his feet, so they would not bite the Prophet (sa).
  4. Once, he was almost beaten to death by the polytheists of Quraish, while protecting the Messenger (sa). Upon regaining consciousness he asked, “Where is the Messenger of Allah?” and refused to eat or rest until he saw the Prophet (sa).

Potently, friendships formed with good believers are really the ones that survive trials. Mainly because of a unified goal, that is to please Allah. Allah also loves such people dearly and states: “Where are those who loved each other for my sake? I will shade them on a day when there is no shade except mine.” (Muslim)